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UK government will require drone users to register and take safety tests

25 Jul

The UK has announced new upcoming regulations that will require some drone owners to register their aircraft and to complete safety awareness tests related to drone operation.

The requirements will be implemented for all drones weighing a minimum of 250g / 8.8oz and registration will be possible both online and via apps, though the UK government says it is still exploring potential plans. The tests, meanwhile, will require drone operators to demonstrate knowledge of the UK’s various regulations related to drone usage, privacy, and safety.

The new requirements were detailed over the weekend by the UK government, which explained in a statement that these new measures will “improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly.” A recent safety research study is cited as one of the reasons for the planned regulations. In the study, various UK authorities found that drones weighing as little as 400g / 14oz can damage the windshields on helicopters.

Many details about the UK’s drone registration plans are still missing, including how much such registrations may cost, how long the registration is good for, the extent of identifying details the drone operator must provide, and more. The UK’s statement indicates that it is still developing its plans and hasn’t yet established these finer details.

The new regulations will follow the drone code established by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority in 2016. That drone code establishes operational rules for drone owners, including requiring that the drone stay within sight of the operator, that it stay below 120m / 400ft, avoid all things related to airports and aircraft, and maintain acceptable distances from property and people.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Voigtlander says the new 65mm F2 E-Mount macro is one of its finest lenses ever

25 Jul

Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has just introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says, “rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer.” The Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 Aspherical is designed to cover full frame sensors, and allegedly boasts exceptional correction of chromatic aberration.

While the lens is manual focus, it has electrical contacts so exposure information can be recorded in the camera’s EXIF data, and distance measurements can be used to assist in-camera image stabilization systems. The contacts also allow focus peaking to be activated.

Macro enthusiasts will be able to focus down to 31cm to achieve a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2, while a ten-bladed iris should provide at least attractively rounded out-of-focus highlights. The lens weighs 625g/1.4lbs, measures 91.3mmx78mm/3.6x3in and takes a 67mm filter.

The Voigtlander Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm f/2 Aspherical will go on sale from the 1st of August and will cost £750/€1,000/$ 1,060.

For more information visit the Voigtlander website.

Press Release

MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical

Announcing the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO- LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors incorporating an apochromatic optical design and inscribed with the designation “APO-LANTHAR”

We announce the release of the Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, a Sony E-mount macro lens for full frame sensors. The APO-LANTHAR designation is given to especially high performance lenses in the Voigtländer lens lineup. The legendary APO-LANTHAR lens that continues to enthrall photographers with its outstanding imaging performace and beautiful rendering was born in 1954, but its origins can be traced back around 120 years (see additional info about the APO-LANTHAR below).

A need for apochromatic optical designs that reduce the longitudinal chromatic aberrations of the three primary colors (RGB) of light to practically zero arose with the increasing popularity of color film. Now, with the current range of high- resolution digitals sensors, this need for extremely high-level control of chromatic aberrations is even more pertinent than when film changed from monochrome to color. So rather than just being for already solved old technologies, apochromatic optical designs are indeed a subject requiring serious consideration in the digital age.

The Voigtländer MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, which inherits the designation “APO- LANTHAR”, is a high performance manual focus macro lens optimized for the imaging sensors of Sony mirrorless cameras. The optical performance of this lens, which provides an image circle capable of covering a full frame sensor, rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer. Sharp imaging performance is obtained from maximum aperture where you can enjoy blurring the background, and by utilizing a floating mechanism this lens delivers outstanding image quality for subjects from the minimum focusing distance of 31cm (reproduction ratio of 1:2) through to infinity. This lens is a manual focus and manual aperture design, but also features electrical contacts that enable the lens settings at image capture to be included in the Exif information of the image data. Furthermore, the lens is installed with a distance encoder to enable support for 5-axis image stabilization on bodies with this feature, for example by providing distance to subject information used in X,Y shift compensation. Focus peaking while manual focusing is also supported.

Main features

  • Full frame Sony E-mount with electrical contacts
  • Apochromatic optical design that eliminates chromatic aberrations
  • Enhanced high performance utilizing aspherical lens surfaces
  • Optical design optimized for digital imaging sensors
  • Extremely solid and durable all-metal barrel
  • Manual focus for precise focusing
  • Maximum reproduction ratio of 1:2 at a minimum focus distance of 31 cm

Additional info about the APO-LANTHAR

The history of the APO-LANTHAR begins with the HELIAR invented by Hans Harting in 1900. Despite its simple optical configuration of five elements in three groups, the HELIAR was a lens with superb depictive performance. As an example of the HELIAR optical formula still being valid in the present day, it is used in the currently available HELIAR Vintage Line 50mm F3.5, a lens known for its superb depictive performance. Furthermore, a HELIAR is recorded as being the lens used to take imperial portraits of Emperor Showa, and it is said the HELIAR lens was extremely highly regarded for its beautiful depictive performance and even treated as a family treasure by portrait photography businesses during the Showa period.

Moving forward about half a century from the birth of the HELIAR to 1954, Albrecht Wilhelm Tronnier developed a lens using the same five-elements-three-groups configuration as the HELIAR utilizing new glass types to achieve performance that exceeded the HELIAR. That lens was the APO-LANTHAR. The APO in APO- LANTHAR indicates an apochromatic optical design. The main characteristic of such a lens is that longitudinal chromatic aberrations caused by the different wavelengths (frequencies) of the three primary colors (RGB) of light are reduced to practically zero to achieve high-level color reproduction. Color film slowly gained popularity after its release in 1935, and one reason why the APO-LANTHAR was developed was to address a growing need to capture light more faithfully than possible with monochrome film.

The first camera to be fitted with an APO-LANTHAR lens was the 6 x 9 roll film rangefinder camera representative of post-war Voigtlander, the Bessa II. There were three different lens variations of this camera: APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100, COLOR-HELIAR 3.5/105, and COLOR-SKOPAR 3.5/105. The APO-LANTHAR 4.5/100 variation has red, green, and blue (RGB) rings indicating the apochromatic optical design engraved around the front of the lens barrel to differentiate it from the other versions as a special lens. Due to the rarity and high performance of the Bessa II fitted with APO-LANTHAR lens, this camera has become a legendary camera traded on the used market at high prices and the envy of camera collectors.

As homage to the RGB colors that differentiate the APO-LANTHAR from other lenses beginning with the BESSA II, the MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical also features three colored dashes indicating the RGB colors at the front edge of the lens barrel.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Learning to ‘see’ light, tips from a National Geographic photographer

24 Jul

National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes takes stunning photos all over the world. But when you ask him how he captures these images, he won’t tell you about his favorite lens or any specific technique he uses. He’ll talk to you about what he sees. He’ll talk to you about light.

That was the subject of a recent conversation he had with Marc Silber of Advancing Your Photography: light. “Most people ‘look’ and don’t really ‘see.’ You’ve got to learn to see,” says Holmes. “We all look, everybody looks, but you’ve got to go beyond that and analyze what you’ve seen… to start with anyway.”

Once you acquire this ability to ‘see,’ explains Holmes, photography becomes about reacting to and capturing what’s in front of you—the camera is no longer ‘in the way.’

The duo goes on to talk about learning about light from iconic painters, and why it’s important to find work that speaks to you and try to unpack why exactly the lighting, composition, subject etc. evokes a certain emotion. The whole conversation, about 10 minutes long, is well worth your time and packed full of little gems. Check it out up top and let us know what you think in the comments.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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This Nat Geo cover was shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight

24 Jul
European astronaut Paolo Nespoli sitting in a Soyuz launch module simulator, illuminated by a single iPhone flashlight. Photo © Alessandro Barteletti.

Photographer Alessandro Barteletti has spent the last year creating a photo essay for National Geographic, in which he tells the story of 60-year-old European astronaut Paolo Nespoli. The project has taken him all over the world with Paolo, but it’s the photo above that stuck with him, and that Nat Geo in fact picked for the cover of the July issue of National Geographic Italia.

For this project, Barteletti received access to the training centers in Europe, the US, and Russia, trailing Paolo and capturing photos honoring the astronaut as the first 60-year-old ever to be enrolled in a 6-month-long mission.

Behind the scenes with Barteletti, shooting Paolo Nespoli for National Geographic. Photo © Alessandro Vona

The memorable cover photo was captured in Star City, Russia, while Paolo sat inside the Soyuz launch module simulator.

“I came into the Soyuz with my Nikon D3 and a wide angle lens, ready to shoot Paolo when, suddenly, something unbelievable happened: all lights off, everything was dark and from the outside they started knocking on the door telling me I had only one minute left,” Barteletti tells DPReview. “I didn’t know what to do: that was the perfect setting for THE PHOTO, probably one of the best ones ever. Outside I had some led lights but if I had come out the module, they wouldn’t have let me come in once again.”

Paolo agreed that leaving the module wasn’t an option, and so they tried to come up with some way to capture the shot in the next 60 seconds… with no professional lighting anywhere in sight.

“I had an idea, one of those crazy ideas that only come to you when you are desperate,” says Barteletti. “I took my iPhone—the only electronic device I had with me—I turned on the torch, and I put it between two panels behind the astronaut.”

As it turns out, his idea worked perfectly. “The module was so small, less than 2 meters of diameter, that the torch was enough to properly light the setting,” he told us. “I had only the time for two landscape shots and two portrait ones, just a few seconds before I was literally obliged to leave the module.”

In the end, Barteletti was right: it was THE PHOTO. National Geographic chose this shot for the cover. Barteletti still can’t quite believe they chose a photo “shot with a ten-year-old Nikon D3 and lit with an iPhone torch.”

To learn more about Alessandro or see more of his work, visit his website by clicking here.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Behind the scenes at Canon’s new Burbank Technology and Support Center

24 Jul

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

A few days ago, Canon officially opened its newest Professional Technology and Support Center in Burbank, California, and DPReview was part of a select group of media invited to tour the facility prior to the grand opening.

‘Canon Burbank’ is primarily focused on meeting the needs of filmmakers and the Hollywood film production industry, and includes post-production facilities that could be used to produce a blockbuster film. However, as I discovered during my visit, Canon wants this space to attract more than just the filmmaking elite.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

According to Elliot Peck, Canon Imaging and Technologies’ Executive Vice President, the project to build this new center started about a year ago when Canon realized that it was effectively out of space at its old Hollywood location. Canon designed a completely new facility from the ground up and took the opportunity to move to Burbank, at the heart of the filmmaking industry.

Although it’s officially called a ‘Technology Support and Service Center,’ the description I kept hearing from many staff was ‘Integration Center.’ Canon recognizes that it’s still relatively new to the cinema market, and almost every part of this facility is designed to show how seamlessly Canon products can integrate into an existing production workflow.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

While there’s a natural focus on Hollywood, Tim Smith, Canon’s Senior Advisor for Film and TV Production, told me that he wants all types of content creators to utilize this facility, particularly people like emerging filmmakers, some of whom may even be using equipment like DSLRs, and who aren’t on Hollywood’s radar yet.

“That was us six years ago,” he said, drawing a parallel to Canon’s own rise in the motion picture business. “In a sense, we’ve spent the last several years figuring out how to go from DSLRs to cinema. This facility is the culmination of all of that work.”

Smith says he wants people early in their careers, who have the desire but not the established name, to come to the facility to network and learn. Canon plans to do seminars and classes for filmmakers at all levels, including topics such as writing or lighting that don’t have a direct relationship to Canon products. Best of all, most of these classes will be free.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The new service facility has double the space of Canon’s former Hollywood location, as well as an improved workflow for processing repairs. Canon’s goal is to achieve a one-day turnaround time for customers.

While the service center will see a lot of motion picture products given its location, it provides full support for all Canon camera products, including Cinema EOS, EOS DSLRs, EF and EF-S lenses, and EOS cinema lenses. In addition to repairs, the center has loan equipment available for CPS members.

(If you happen to live in Southern California, the center is open for walk-in visits from 9-5 Monday-Friday.)

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Part of the service facility is the lens room, where technicians can test and verify lens performance after repair. The room might be better described as a very wide hallway, stretching about 65 ft. (20m) in length. The extra distance allows technicians to mount lenses up to 600mm on a master body to check for optical alignment and resolution, meaning that all but a couple very specialized Canon lenses can be tested here.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The broadcast TV projection room is designed to test 4K cinema lenses, which need to deliver sharp performance from corner to corner at every aperture and focal length. Appropriately, the design of this room is all about precision.

Although you can’t see it in the dark, the testing hardware is mounted on a rail system that is precisely aligned to the projection wall. In fact, Canon told us that its engineers, along with the construction firm, spent over a week just building the projection wall to ensure that it was perfectly vertical and without imperfections.

Targets projected through a lens allow technicians to celebrate for sharpness, color, flare, and uneven focus. The target in this photo is a generic pattern to demonstrate the equipment; Canon assures us that it has proprietary targets that are used when calibrating lenses.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

At first glance, what Canon refers to as the ‘workflow area’ appears to be a standard editing suite, but the main purpose of this room is to to help filmmakers figure out how to integrate Canon cameras and lenses into their production workflows.

Canon acknowledges that filmmakers can be a finicky group of people who like to do things their own way. That poses a challenge for a company that’s still somewhat new to the cinema market. Canon created the workflow area so that filmmakers could test their full post-production workflow, using their tools of choice, while introducing Canon cameras and lenses into the mix.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Whatever a filmmaker’s post-production workflow looks like, chances are pretty good they can replicate it here. The facility supports all major editing suites (Avid, DaVinci, Adobe, and Apple), and even includes both Mac and Windows systems so visitors can work on whatever system is most comfortable for them.

There are also three reference displays for use while editing and grading: a 30-inch Canon DP-V3010 4K reference display and a 24-inch Canon DP-V2420 1000NIT HDR reference display (both of which cost around $ 30K), and also a ‘consumer confidence’ display that’s representative of what would be found in a nice home theater. This gives a colorist a rough idea of what the image will look like on a consumer device.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The prep room is a facility where cameras can be mounted and fully rigged for production, making it possible to design and test a setup before taking it into the field. Both podiums are wired into the rest of the building so that camera output can be instantly analyzed somewhere else, like the workflow area or the 4K screening room.

Canon wants cinematographers and 1st ACs (1st assistant camera operators) to come in and experiment with their Canon equipment, configure it the way they would for a production, to see how it performs and verify that it meets their needs. Additionally, Canon plans to use this space for other purposes, such as education. For example, it could offer classes for new ACs on how to rig a camera for a shoot.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

Going one step further, Canon invites filmmakers to bring in its competitors’ cameras to set up side-by-side with its own cameras for comparative testing. According to Smith, “We want to go head to head, with whoever we need to go up against, to convince filmmakers that we have the right product for their project.”

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

The 4K screening room is just what it sounds like. At its heart is a Barco DP4K-P 4K projector, the same projector used by post production facilities such as technicolor. Canon wants filmmakers to have confidence that any work they do in the facility will be up to Hollywood standards.

There are a few seats up front, but most of the action takes place in back where there’s a full edit suite, including 7.1 surround sound and a 2000NIT display for doing HDR grades.

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

In my conversation with Tim Smith, he expressed a strong desire for Canon Burbank to be much more than just a technology and service center. He wants it to be a location where people in the filmmaking community, from DSLR shooters to Hollywood pros, can come together to meet and network.

“In this industry you have to network to find a job,” he says. “Even if you’re the best in the world, you need to network. The more circles you build, the better. One of our visions for this facility is for a cinematographer to use our space to pitch a film to a producer, who then decides to move forward with the project.”

Photo courtesy of Canon

Behind the scenes: Canon Burbank

It’s clear that Canon wants its Burbank facility to be a resource for everyone from beginners to Hollywood pros, and I sensed a genuine desire to engage with and support the filmmaking community.

For all its history, Canon is still the new kid on the block in the cinema business, but the company is confident in its products and isn’t afraid to go head to head with the established players. However, to paraphrase Tim Smith, Canon needs to build circles and create its own networks within this community to be successful long term. Canon Burbank certainly seems to be a step in that direction.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Photokina 2019 dates announced

24 Jul

In May, Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, announced that it would become an annual event and expand coverage beyond its historical focus of cameras and photography. 2018 is the last year the show will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates.

In 2019 Photokina will take place in May for the first time, from the 8th to the 11th to be more precise. If you’re planning to attend Photokina and see all the new products from camera manufacturers and other companies in the imaging field, you should mark those dates in your calendar.

In the meantime, you can also read this quick Q&A with recently appointed show manager Christoph Menke, in which he provides some background on the decision to change the dates and scope of future shows.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Ten expert tips for successful macro photography

23 Jul

Thomas Shahan’s tips for successful macro photography

Thomas Shahan is a macro photographer and artist from Tulsa Oklahoma who specializes in entomology and traditional relief printmaking.

Thomas’s interest in macro photography began when he started watching jumping spiders in his backyard. After studying art at the University of Oklahoma, he left for Oregon to work in the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s entomology lab. There, he worked as a digital imaging specialist, taking high magnification focus-stacked photographs and SEM images of arthropods – good practice for macro photography.

In this article, Thomas shares advice for successful closeup photography of bugs, insects and small animals. Click through for his top tips, and be sure to check out the video we made with Thomas recently, embedded at the bottom of each page.

All images by Thomas Shahan, used with permission.

Tip #1: Bugs are everywhere

Wolf Spider – sp, hogna, shot in Norman, Oklahoma using a Pentax 50mm F1.7, reversed on tubes at ~F16 equiv.

You don’t need to travel to exotic locations to take pictures of bugs – they’re everywhere. A few minutes spent turning over stones and logs in your back yard, or local park will reveal plenty of creepy-crawlies.

Bugs are most active in the middle of the day but they can be found at any time, even at night.

Tip #2: Learn about your subjects

A jumping spider – sp. psecas, shot in Peru with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F10 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

Sure, to begin with you might just explore your yard and see what you come across, but the more you know about bugs and insects, the more likely you’ll be able to find them, and get the shot that you want.

Perhaps you live in a part of the world where a certain species is particularly common. Perhaps the particular spider, or fly that you want to photograph only comes out at a certain time of the day, or likes to hang out in a particular kind of environment. The more you know, the better your chances of finding it, and getting a great shot.

Tip #3: You don’t need expensive gear

We were using the Fujifilm GFX 50S for our recent shoot in Idaho, but you don’t need such expensive equipment to get great macro shots. Thomas’s usual setup (pictured here) is centered around a midrange Pentax DSLR, and a collection of second-hand lenses and extenders.

A newer camera with a good live view mode and a dedicated macro lens will certainly make life easier, but they’re not essential to getting great shots.

Tip #4: Use diffused light

A bess beetle – sp. passalid, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Many bugs, like this bess beetle are glossy, so try to shoot them under diffuse light, to avoid distracting ‘hot spots’ on their shells. Experiment with different kinds of diffusion material for both natural and flashlight.

Tip #5: Small apertures increase depth of field

A tarantula, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Shooting at small apertures will give you more depth of field, meaning that more of your picture will be in focus. This is essential when taking pictures of very small insects and bugs, but also useful with larger animals, like this tarantula (shot at F10).

The downside of shooting at small apertures is that it cuts out a lot of light, so you should experiment with using flash as your main light source. A relatively low flash output should work in daylight and it won’t scare away your subject.

Tip #6: Shoot Raw, at low ISOs

A bearded dragon, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Shooting in Raw mode will let you get the best possible resolution out of your camera, and keeping your ISO sensitivity as low as possible means that you won’t need to worry too much about noise levels. Shooting Raw also gives you a lot of scope for post-capture tonal adjustment.

Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to crop

A bess beetle – sp. passalid, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Don’t worry if your lens can’t focus super close – if you’re working with a high megapixel camera, you can always crop in afterwards. This image of a bess beetle is a pretty heavy crop from the GFX 50S’s 50MP sensor, but the output resolution is still very good, at around 15MP.

Tip #8: Focus manually

A jumping spider – sp. Habronattus americanus, shot in Oregon with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F16 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

If you are working at very close distances, turn off AF and focus manually, then bracket focus by moving your camera slightly back and forth.

Tip #9: Experiment with color and contrast

Madagascar hissing cockroach – sp. gromphadorhina, captured during our shoot at the Ketchum Bug Zoo, Idaho.

Experiment with color and contrast. Simple colored backgrounds can be very effective. Here, a bright red piece of cardboard contrasts with the warm tones in the carapace of a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Tip #10: Take a lot of pictures!

Horsefly – sp. Tabanus, shot in Tulsa OK with a Vivitar 55mm F2.8 at ~F10 equiv, on a 2x teleconverter.

Macro photography is fun, but it’s tough – especially when it comes to flies and other small, fast-moving animals. Increase your odds of getting a great shot by taking lots of pictures!

Thomas Shahan’s tips for successful macro photography

We recently spent a couple of days with Thomas down in Ketchum Idaho, to get a feel for how he approaches one of the most challenging kinds of photography there is – macro shots of bugs and small animals.

Check out more of Thomas’s work on Flickr


This video is sponsored content, created in partnership with Fujifilm. What does this mean?

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Opinion: DJI has abandoned professionals

23 Jul

DJI’s new firmware has certainly stirred the pot in the professional community. With restrictions popping up in unexpected places, the professional drone pilot community has been deluged with stories of unfulfilled contracts and sometimes downright enragement over this new firmware. But what’s really going on?

What’s the issue?

With the release of the newest product in DJI’s consumer line, the Spark, came a firmware update that… “sparked” the controversy (pun intended). If you don’t know, professional flyers have a special certificate from the FAA known as a ‘Part 107,’ which allows you to charge for your services. This certificate reflects your knowledge of how to properly navigate airspace per FAA regulations.

When DJI introduced the consumer-friendly Spark drone, it also introduced new firmware that was not so friendly to professional flyers.

For example, we all know (or should at least) that flying within 5-miles of an airport is restricted airspace. There are different classes of restricted airspace, which we don’t need to discuss in detail here, but one way to get around these restrictions is to call the tower responsible for the airspace and give them an advisement of when you’ll be flying, and for how long. They’ll come back and let you know if you’re cleared or not.

How DJI handled this in the past

In previous versions of the DJI firmware, if you were flying in an area with restrictions, a warning would pop up and you could simply click an acknowledgement button, then go ahead and fly. This was great for pros, but unfortunately some non-Part 107 pilots have made life difficult for all of us by clicking this acknowledgement and proceeding to fly where they shouldn’t. For example, just look at the recent case of pilot flying a drone near a fire that grounded all the firefighting airplanes as a result.

DJI’s new solution

DJI’s new solution is rather draconian: simply ground all drones in restricted airspace. If you have legitimate reason and proper training to fly in a restricted zone, you can email DJI for a temporary unlock for a specific zone. However, it can take 24 hours and beyond to get unlocked. And you won’t know if it actually worked until you get on set. This is completely impractical for Part 107 pilots, as doing a test flight the day before is most-often unacceptable – for clients and logistics alike.

Furthermore, these restricted ‘zones’ sometimes pop up in unrestricted areas. Again, you won’t know until you actually get on set. Also, some of these restricted zones can’t be unlocked for any reason, even though a Part 107 pilot can get authorization from the FAA. Finally, the DJI unlock code is not valid if you use any 3rd party mapping software, even though DJI has released its API.

When DJI introduced the new restrictions with their GEO protocol, social media exploded…

DJI: The new drone police?

So, is it DJI’s job to police airspace, or have they gone too far? In 2015, someone landed a DJI Phantom 2+ on the White House lawn and people went nuts. So DJI responded by restricting some government spaces, like the White House and Pentagon. Nobody complained. Then they added some major airports. Nobody complained. Then they added the entire FAA map. Nobody complained. Now, they’ve created an entire bureaucracy of their own which is even more strict than the FAA. Have they gone too far?

Professional pilots fighting together

Some drone pilots have banned together with the thought in mind to sue DJI in a class action law suit. However, a quick look at the license agreement that people agree to when using a DJI drone precludes this action. It’s in the third paragraph… you should read it. Basically, often times a company is motivated to settle a class action dispute because the costs of courts and trials are extremely high. Arbitration is low. Furthermore, preventing groups from banding together means that every single case is settled independently. Privately, and quietly. It puts all the power in DJI’s hands.

The third paragraph of DJI’s UAS Terms of Use

Other professionals have vowed to no longer endorse nor use DJI products. DJI is so big because of the professionals. When other brands were on top right along with them, DJI made sure to tell everyone what was shot with their equipment. Now, they’ve grown to be such a monster company that few people even care anymore. Again, the power is in DJI’s court.

Plus, what professional can seriously justify re-purchasing all their drones from different manufacturers now? Not this one. Sure, they may not buy DJI again until this problem is remedied… but how much does that cost DJI? Not a lot.

So, what’s the motivation for DJI to find some sort of compromise, or roll back this (terrible) idea? Honestly, I’m struggling to figure it out.

A lot of professionals are likening DJI to Apple on this front (yours truly included). DJI, like Apple, started with products designed for the hobbyist. DJI then moved to products for professionals, and kicked the collective rear-ends of their competition with products like the Phantom and Spreading Wings series. Finally, they transitioned to a more consumer market (Phantom Standard, Mavic, Spark), and stopped paying so much attention to the professional.

How do we solve this?

Believe it or not, quite a bit of the United States is in some type of controlled airspace. Augment that with these phantom zones (uncontrolled airspace, but for some reason still designated as no-fly zones by DJI), and the likelihood that you’ll be unable to fly your drone where you want, when you want, is greatly increased.

And that’s just in the US! DJI no-fly zones affect the entire planet!

Unsure of just how much air space is restricted? Take a look at this FAA map of the area around Houston, Texas. The blue and red rings represent restricted airspace.

DJI, I hope you read this article. I hope this was just a mistake. I’ve used your products from the very beginning (Wookong M v1), and have always loved them. But in all honestly, I don’t believe it’s your place to restrict airspace. It’s not your place to override a lawful professional’s ability to fly in a way that is conducive to his or her business. You make great products. Keep making them, but stop being some sort of bureaucratic authority.

If you truly want to make things work, and try to cooperate with the FAA, I have a very simple idea. Have the mobile device running the DJI GO app send a ping to the FAA if a drone enters restricted airspace and forward the ping to the tower controlling that airspace. If the tower did not authorize the drone, then there is already a mechanism in place from the FAA to handle the situation.

One truth here is self-evident: it is the pilot’s responsibility to know where and when they can fly. Even amateurs can get permission from a tower to fly in a restricted zone. This is not a privilege reserved for pros. DJI’s older method of handling restricted airspace (informing and forcing the user to acknowledge) puts the responsibility right where it belongs: on the pilot.

But hey… that’s just my opinion. Feel free to comment, and tell us your opinion! Is DJI overstepping, or did they do the right thing?


Ty Audronis has been a professional multicopter pilot in the television and cinema industry since 2003. He also consults on post-production technology, and is on the advisory board for SOAC (Society of Aerial Cinematography).

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Voyager is a waterproof, smart LED light stick that you control with a phone

23 Jul

A new Indiegogo campaign is seeking funding for Voyager, a waterproof smart light stick made with LEDs, a diffuser tube, integrated battery, remote controller, and animation controller.

Voyager is the brainchild of Digital Sputnik, which says it packed all the features from its other DS products into this light stick. The company plans to offer Voyager in both 2ft / 61cm and 4ft / 123cm lengths, each version with slightly different specs.

The 2ft Voyager has a weight of 2.4lbs / 1.1kg, a resolution of 39 pixels, built-in 45Wh battery and 20 watt power draw. Compared to that, the larger 4ft Voyager has a 4.9lbs / 2.2kg weight, 83 pixels resolution, 90Wh battery, and 40 watt power draw. Both models allow photographers to use their own diffusion filters via two installation slots, and both can be used under water at depths of up to 2m / 6.6ft for up to 30 minutes at a time. A special version capable of greater depths will also be offered.

Unlike some competing lighting products, Digital Sputnik explains that Voyager utilizes LightGrading software that eliminates the need for technicians to manually adjust every light on a set, instead offering complete control from a smartphone. Assuming the Indiegogo campaign hits its $ 500,000 stretch goal, Digital Sputnik plans to add an integrated WiFi router to Voyager, enabling one unit to act as a router for other units on the set.

The Voyager campaign has thus far raised approximately $ 320,000 in funds, exceeding its $ 300,000 goal with 22 days remaining. Interested consumers can pledge at least $ 290 USD in exchange for a single 2ft Voyager unit or $ 440 USD for a single 4ft Voyager unit. Shipping to these backers is estimated to start in December 2017.

To learn more or put down a pledge of your own, head over to the Indiegogo campaign.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Firmware update fixes Sigma MC-11 AF issues with incompatible lenses

23 Jul

Sigma’s MC-11 mount converters allow you to use your Sigma SA mount and EOS mount lenses with Sony’s E-mount camera bodies, and now they work just a little better. The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the converter.

You can find a lens compatibility chart on the MC-11 product page, and further detail about the update on the Sigma support website. As usual, you can install the firmware using Sigma’s Optimization Pro software.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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