Samsung planning to sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 units

29 Mar

It’s probably fair to say its Galaxy Note 7 flagship has been an absolute disaster for Samsung. After a number of devices caught fire Samsung eventually made the decision to discontinue the model and, after an internal investigation, announced that the fires had been caused by design and manufacturing errors on the Note 7 batteries. 

In a press release, the South Korean company has now laid out how it will recycle and dispose of the hundreds of thousands of Note 7 units that had already been produced and partly sold. According to the statement, ‘devices shall be considered to be used as refurbished phones or rental phones where applicable.’ This is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers and local demand, which probably means it’s unlikely any refurbished units would make it to Europe or the US.

For remaining devices, reusable components, such as semiconductors and camera modules, ‘shall be detached by companies specializing in such services and used for test sample production purposes.’ For anything that is left after the first two steps, ‘Samsung shall first extract precious metals, such as copper, nickel, gold and silver by utilizing eco-friendly companies specializing in such processes.’

Meanwhile, Samsung’s new high-end phone, the Galaxy S8, is expected to be launched tomorrow at events in New York and London. Hopefully it’ll have more success than its ill-fated cousin.

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Sony World Photography Awards Open categories and National winners announced

29 Mar

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The winners of the ten Open categories of the Sony World Photography Awards have been announced alongside National Award winners from 66 countries. The Open competition consists of ten themed categories so there are ten winners in total, each receiving a Sony a7 II kit, who will go on to compete for the overall prize of $ 5000 and a trip to the awards ceremony in London next month.

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Once the 105,000 entries to the Open section had been judged in their themed categories the total entry was re-judged according to nationality so the best images from each of 66 countries could be found. The names of the photographers in the best three from those countries have also been announced today. Winners from these awards will be displayed alongside the Open winners and the winners of the Professional categories at an exhibition to be held in London’s Somerset House from the 21st April to 7th May.

The winners of the Professional categories, and the overall winner of the Open section, will be revealed on April 20th at the awards ceremony. Martin Parr will be presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize at the event and will be exhibiting a collection of images in the main exhibition.

For more information and to see all the National Awards winners visit the Sony World Photography Awards website.

Press release

The world’s best single photographs revealed by 2017 Sony World Photography Awards 

  • World’s largest photography competition announces winners of its Open categories and National Awards programme
  • Open category winners competing to win trip to London and $ 5,000 (USD) cash prize

28th March, 2017: Ten extraordinary photographs from across the globe are today revealed as the winners of the Open categories of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s largest photography competition.

The winners were selected from more than 105,000 entries to the Awards’ Open competition, with the expert panel of judges looking for the best single photographs across ten categories.

The ten Open category winners are:
* Architecture – Tim Cornbill (UK)
* Culture – Jianguo Gong (China)
* Enhanced – Lise Johansson (Denmark)
* Motion – Camilo Diaz (Colombia)
* Nature – Hiroshi Tanita (Japan)
* Portraits – Alexander Vinogradov (Russia)
* Still Life – Sergey Dibtsev (Russia)
* Street Photography – Constantinos Sofikitis (Greece)
* Travel – Ralph Gräf (Germany)
* Wildlife – Alessandra Meniconzi (Switzerland)

Each of the ten winning photographs display huge photographic talent and creativity, from a stunning wildlife shot of flamingos in Walvis Bay, Namibia (Alessandra Meniconzi) to the ice blue and white of winter (Hiroshi Tanita) and a beautifully simple portrait (Alexander Vinogradov). Scale is used to stunning effect to capture more than 1300 people practicing Tai-Chi in China (Jianguo Gong) and architecture in Berlin (Tim Cornbill) while a crucial goal-scoring moment in an underwater rugby match is photographed by Camilo Diaz. A subtle palette of color is used in both the Enhanced (Lise Johansson) and Travel (Ralph Gräf) category winners while black and white photography is the choice for the Street Photography winner (Constantinos Sofikitis).

Each winning photographer receives a Sony ?7 II with lens kit and will now compete to win the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards’ Open Photographer of the Year title, a trip to the winners’ awards ceremony in London in April and $ 5,000 US dollars in cash prizes. The overall winner will be announced on the 20th April alongside the winners of the Professional competition (judged on a body of work).

Chair of the Open competition, journalist and photographer Damien Demolder, said of the winning Open images: “It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to be exposed to such a volume of great work, and a privilege too that I could share in the personal moments, the joys, tears, life and losses of photographers from all around the globe who recorded their experiences through their pictures.”

National Awards
The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards National Awards, a global program to find the best single photographs taken by local photographers in 66 countries, were also announced today.

Now in its fourth year, the National Awards is unique in both scope and reach and opened up to photographers from Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates for the first time this year.

Winners and runners-ups across all 66 National Awards were announced today, and can be viewed here.

The winners of the Open categories and the National Awards will all be shown at the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr – 2017 Exhibition at Somerset House, London which opens on the 21st April and runs until the 7th May.

The exhibition will include all the winning, shortlisted (top 10) and commended (top 50) photographs drawn from more than 227,000 entries from 183 countries to the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. It will also feature a special dedication to British photographer Martin Parr, recipient of the Awards’ Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize.

Sony World Photography Awards
Produced by the World Photography Organisation, 2017 sees the 10th anniversary of the Sony World Photography Awards and a decade-long partnership with its headline sponsor, Sony. The Awards recognise and reward the very best contemporary photography captured over the last year, and incorporate four competitions – Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus. The overall winners of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards will be announced on the 20th April.

About World Photography Organisation
The World Photography Organisation is a global platform for photography initiatives. Working across up to 180 countries, our aim is to raise the level of conversation around photography by celebrating the best imagery and photographers on the planet. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships with both individual photographers and our industry-leading partners around the world. We host a year-round portfolio of events including: the Sony World Photography Awards (the world’s largest photography competition, marking its 10th anniversary in 2017), various local meetups/talks throughout the year, and PHOTOFAIRS, International Art Fairs Dedicated to Photography, with destinations in Shanghai and San Francisco.

About Sony Corporation
Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, imaging, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $ 72 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. Sony Global Web Site:

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Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 launches with selfie mirror and close-up lens attachment

29 Mar

Fujifilm has announced the Instax Mini 9, a new instant camera that has launched in five colors: Lime Green, Flamingo Pink, Smoky White, Ice Blue, and Cobalt Blue. The Instax Mini 9 builds upon the company’s Instax Mini 8, bringing with it a selfie mirror as well as a new close-up lens attachment enabling photographers to snap photos as close as 35cm / 14in.

Fujifilm says the ‘popular’ features from the previous model are rolled over into the Instax Mini 9, including auto exposure. The camera chooses the optimal brightness setting for any given snapshot, highlighting the chosen setting by illuminating one of four lights corresponding the following settings: Indoors, Cloudy, Sunny (overcast), and Sunny (bright). The user then manually switches the dial to that setting.

Other features include a 0.37x viewfinder with target spot, an automatic film feeding system, flash with an effective range from 0.6m to 2.7m, and support for two ordinary AA batteries. A pair of AA batteries can power the camera through approximately 10 Instax Mini film packs before needing replaced.

The Instax Mini 9 will launch in the U.S. and Canada next month for $ 69.95 USD and $ 99.99 CAD, and then in the U.K. in May for £77.99.

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Ming Thein joins Hasselblad as Chief of Strategy

29 Mar

Hasselblad has announced that commercial photographer and blogger Ming Thein has been appointed its Chief of Strategy. Thein is known for his popular blog, and is no stranger to Hasselblad as a former ambassador for the company. In addition to his photography chops, Thein brings a degree in Physics from Oxford and years of experience working in finance and private equity firms to Hasselblad. Plus, we think he’s got some good ideas about how cameras should function.

Hasselblad has been going through a transitional period lately – the company never denied reports that DJI became a majority stakeholder, and recently announced the departure of CEO Perry Oosting. Certainly Oosting had a hand in modernizing the company’s offerings and righting the ship after some unfortunate missteps. There’s more work ahead, however, as the company works to meet demand for its X1D mirrorless camera.

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Autonomous Trap: Artist Uses Ritual Magic to Capture Driverless Cars

28 Mar

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

car trap

Somewhere between pagan magic, modern science and quirky satire, this installation project uses salt circles but also the logic of traffic lines to lure in and ensnare unsuspecting autonomous vehicles.

salt trap car

James Bridle‘s Autonomous Trap 001 employs familiar street markings found on divided highways – per the rules of the road, cars can cross over the dotted line but not back over the solid line. It sounds a bit absurd, but consider: driverless cars with various degrees of autonomy are already hitting the streets, and these do rely on external signals to determine their course. As these technologies gain traction, it is entirely likely that serious attempts will be made to spoof and deceive their machine vision algorithms.

“What you’re looking at is a salt circle, a traditional form of protection—from within or without—in magical practice,” explains Bridle. “In this case it’s being used to arrest an autonomous vehicle—a self-driving car, which relies on machine vision and processing to guide it. By quickly deploying the expected form of road markings—in this case, a No Entry glyph—we can confuse the car’s vision system into believing it’s surrounded by no entry points, and entrap it.”

autonomous vehicle trap magic

“The scene evokes a world of narratives involving the much-hyped technology of self-driving cars,” writes Beckett Mufson of Vice. “It could be mischievous hackers disrupting a friend’s self-driving ride home; the police seizing a dissident’s getaway vehicle; highway robbers trapping their prey; witches exorcizing a demon from their hatchback.” It has elements of cultural commentary that stem from acute awareness of real conditions, bordering on the absurd but also quite sobering.

mountain pass

In fact, Bridle made his trap while training his own DIY self-driving car software near Mount Parnassus in Central Greece. “Parnassus feels like an appropriate location,” he says, because “as well as [having] quite spectacular scenery and [being] wonderful to drive and hike around, it’s the home of the Muses in mythology, as well as the site of the Delphic Oracle. The ascent of Mount Parnassus is, in esoteric terms, the journey towards knowledge and art.” Meanwhile, Bridle continues to work on other pieces related to contemporary technology, tackling subjects from machine vision and artificial intelligence to militarized tech and big data.

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Pentax KP Review

28 Mar

The Pentax KP is a 24MP APS-C DSLR with styling and controls lifted largely from the full-frame K-1. Sold as a body only at a price of $ 1099, it includes standard Pentax features like full weather-sealing and in-body five-axis Shake Reduction, and includes all the interesting features enabled by the aforementioned system, including ‘Pixel Shift Resolution’. It also offers interchangeable front grip system as part of its rather pretty design.

On the face of it, the Pentax KP is a confusing proposition. It launches at the same price as their APS-C flagship the K-3 II did over a year ago, while trading useful K3 features like GPS in favor of the extra control dial, swappable grips, and a built-in flash.

Key Features:

  • 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor with max ISO of 819,200
  • 27-point AF sensor with 25 central cross-type points
  • 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor aids subject tracking and exposure
  • PRIME IV Processor
  • In-body ‘SR II’ 5-axis image stabilization
  • 7 fps continuous shooting
  • Interchangeable grips
  • Improved ‘Function Dial’ from the K-1
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/24,000 sec through the viewfinder
  • Wi-Fi communication

The surprisingly petite pentaprism-equipped camera borrows styling cues and controls from the full-frame K-1, and even shares some in common with Nikon’s retro-reborn Df. JPEG image quality has received some massaging courtesy of the new PRIME IV processor, expanding the KP’s high ISO capabilities all the way to the ludicrous value of 819,200.

  Pentax KP Pentax K-3 II Nikon D7200
Price $ 1099 (body only) $ 1099 (body only) $ 1199 (body only)
Resolution 24MP 24MP 24MP
ISO Auto, 100-819200 Auto, 100 – 51200 Auto, 100 – 25600
Image Stabilization Yes (in-body) Yes (in-body) In-lens only
Focus Points 27 (25 cross-type) 27 (25 cross-type) 51 (15 cross-type)
AF Point Selection Shared with direction pad Shared with direction pad Shared with direction pad
Viewfinder Magnification 0.95x 0.95x 0.94x
Continuous Drive 7 fps 8.3 fps 7 fps
Battery Life 390 720 1110
GPS Optional Built-in Optional

When compared to the outgoing K-3 II and long-in-the-tooth D7200, we see that with some features like burst rate and battery life the KP is a step backwards. On the other hand, we see a better control layout, higher ISO capabilities, and the new SR II system. It omits GPS, and takes a hit in areas like battery life and burst rate. The addition of the K-1’s Function Dial means the top plate LCD screen is lost from the K-3 II as well. 

These changes indicate that maybe the KP wasn’t designed solely with outdoing the competition, or even the K-3 II, in mind. It certainly doesn’t seem like an outright replacement, but instead a different lineup aimed at being a bit more portable for enthusiasts or casual shooters.

In some ways, the KP reminds us of the PEN-F: a combination of distinctive looks and improved image quality in a compact, premium body. While looks alone may not sell it for some, there are parts of the KP’s design that are excellent, possibly even market leading. Let’s take a closer look at what is right with the KP.

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Canon EOS M6 sample gallery

28 Mar

The Canon EOS M6 shares plenty of features with the company’s EOS M5 flagship mirrorless camera, including a 24MP APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel AF, a Digic 7 processor and a 3″ touchscreen. It offers one more control dial compared to its M3 predecessor, but stops short of offering the M5’s built-in EVF. With a loaner unit in hand we ventured out into the street to start putting it to use – take a look at what it can do.

See our Canon EOS M6 sample gallery

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Researchers create method for photorealistic Prisma-style effects

28 Mar

Popular app Prisma applies painting styles to photographs using neural networks, turning a snapshot into an artwork in the style of ‘The Scream,’ for example. But what if you could transfer photorealistic effects from one photo to another? Researchers at Cornell and Adobe have successfully demonstrated a method that will translate a variety of styles from a reference photo to another image, including things like lighting, time of day and weather.

Input image on the left, reference style image in the center, output image on the right. It’s not incredibly realistic-looking, but more realistic than your average Prisma treatment.

Images via Fujun Luan

This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for ‘lazy’ photo editing. Say you snapped a photo of a rock formation in the middle of the day, but you’d rather it had the orange glow of golden hour. With this method, you could apply the textures and colors of a reference style image, i.e. some other rock formation at sunset, to your own image.

This photo-style-transfer method augments the neural-style approach Prisma takes by constraining the colorspace of the transformation applied to the source image. Taking a content-aware approach and classifying features like sky and water in each image helps to avoid mismatched textures and distortions.

Advanced photographers would likely be wary of making such drastic edits to their photos. However, the technology might appeal to someone who wants to apply the effects of professional lighting to a badly lit photo of an interior, for example.

What do you think? Could this technology be useful to you? Let us know in the comments.

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DPReview on TWiT: the Fujifilm GFX 50S

28 Mar

DPReview has partnered with the TWiT Network (named after its flagship show, This Week in Tech) to produce a regular segment for The New Screen Savers, a popular weekend show hosted by technology guru Leo Laporte.

On this week’s episode of The New Screen Savers, DPReview editor Dan Bracaglia joins Leo and guest host, Georgia Dow of, to talk about medium-format digital photography and the Fujifilm GFX 50S. Tune in to the entire episode to also learn about mesh Wi-Fi networks, an HP all-in-one computer with a curved 34-inch display, and a review of the 2nd gen Nvidia Shield TV.

You can watch The New Screen Savers live every Saturday at 3pm Pacific Time (23:00 UTC), on demand through our articles, the TWiT website, or YouTube, as well as through most podcasting apps.

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These Brutalist Sand Castles Might Be Cooler Than the Real Thing

28 Mar

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

modernist sand castles 11

Brutalist architecture is often criticized for seeming cold, impersonal and out of human scale, but the same can’t be said for these structures when they’re miniaturized and ephemeral, destroyed in seconds by the sea. In fact, when they’re crafted out of sand on a beach, outside their usual context, we can appreciate the beauty of their geometry more than ever. Calvin Siebert’s modernist sand castles might just be better than the real thing.

modernist sand castles 10

modernist sand castles 9

While staying on Rockaway Beach in Queens during the summer, the professional sculptor and self-described ‘box builder’ crafts amazingly complex architectural structures that remain in place just long enough to photograph them, inevitably washing away. You might say that nature is… brutal.

modernist sand castles 12

modernist sand castle 1

While it’s not hard to imagine seeing some of these designs in the hills of Los Angeles, using sand as a medium enables Siebert to get more creative than the average architect in envisioning fantasy structures that could translate to concrete.

modernist sand castile 2

modernist sand castle 2

He doesn’t start with sketches, plans or even anything particular in mind, preferring to work intuitively, allowing the forms to take shape. He’s been creating these temporary works of art for the past six years, and has thousands of photos documenting them on his Flickr.

modernist sand castle 4

modernist sand castle 5

modernist sand castle 6

“Building ‘sandcastles’ is a bit of a test,” he says. “Nature will always be against you and time is always running out. Having to think fast and bring it all together in the end is what I like about it… once I begin building and forms take shape I can start to see where things are going and either follow that road or attempt to contradict it with something unexpected.”

modernist sand castles 7

modernist sand castles 8

“In my mind they are always mash-ups of influences and ideas. I see a castle, a fishing village, a modernist sculpture, a stage set for the oscars all at once. When they are successful they don’t feel contained or finished. They become organic machines that might grow and expand. I am always adding just one more bit and if time allowed I wouldn’t stop.”

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