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Snapseed app updated with new interface and presets, adds perspective tool to iOS

20 Sep

Google has just pushed out an update to Snapseed, the popular mobile image editing app for iOS and Android. The update (version 2.18) is for both versions of the app, and offers users on both mobile platforms a new interface and 11 new image presets. Additionally, the iOS update has brought the app’s Perspective Tool to Apple’s mobile devices, enabling users to adjust the horizon and “skewed lines” using their iPhone or iPad.

The update was announced on the Google Plus Snapseed page, where the team explained that Snapseed 2.18 is redesigned to make accessing features more efficient while speeding up the overall editing process. The new interface, meanwhile, moves Looks to the main screen, a feature that enables users to save their favorite edits so they can be applied to multiple other photos quickly.

Other changes are minor, and include switching the app from a dark to a light theme, as well as making certain tools and the export function accessible in a menu at the bottom of the display while editing. Both the Android and iOS updates are available now through the Google Play and iTunes App Stores, respectively.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Lens Rentals test shows all circular polarizing filters work great, price doesn’t matter

20 Sep
Photo: Roger Cicala/Lens Rentals

Our friend Roger Cicala over at Lens Rentals is at it again: buying up super expensive optical testing equipment because someone asked him why LR carries the circular polarizing filters they do. The answer, until now, was simple: make the expensive one on the market their high-end rental, and the cheapest one their “basic.” But is there really any difference?

That’s what Roger set out to figure out, and the answer might save you a little bit of cash.

You can read the full post and see all of the detailed results on the Lens Rentals blog, but the most surprising and positive conclusion was this:

All circular polarizers, regardless of price, are 99.9% effective at polarizing light.

Translation: if you’re looking for a circular polarizer because … well … you want to polarize light then save your money because the cheaper ones work just as well as the more expensive ones.

In addition to their ability to do what they say they do, Cicala and LR team tested CP filters for overall transmission (how much light to they let through) and transmission by wavelength so you can see what effect each filter has on the colors your camera sees. Check out the results here.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The Profoto A1 is the ‘world’s smallest studio flash’ and Profoto’s first on-camera flash

20 Sep

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As expected after last week’s photo and specs leak, lighting manufacturer Profoto has launched an on/off camera flash unit called the Profoto A1. But if you were expecting a simple speedlight, Profoto is definitely branding this as more powerful than that. In fact, they’re calling it “the world’s smallest studio flash.”

The new A1 is styled much like most on-camera flash units, but is equipped with the powerful features of a Profoto studio head. The 76Ws unit uses a lithium ion battery that is claimed to be good for up to 350 full power bursts and which charges in under 80 minutes. Profoto also says that the A1 recycles “four times faster than other on-camera solutions,” as it can emit a full power pop every 1.2 seconds.

A stand-out feature of the A1 is its circular lens, which is said to produce light that is “natural and beautiful with a pleasing soft-smooth fall-off.” The rim of that circular lens housing is also magnetic, and accepts a range of clip-on modifiers that can be changed quickly and easily. The head offers a manually operated zoom function and the rear display is large and easy to read.

The A1 heads are equipped with Profoto’s Air Remote TTL system so they can work in groups alongside other A1 heads or any other Air Remote studio heads from the Profoto studio head range. Finally, the A1 offers variable power over 9 stops in both standard and HSS modes, and includes an LED modeling light for previewing the effect of the flash or using on its own as a light source.

The A1 is currently compatible with Nikon and Canon systems, and will be with Sony models in the future… but it doesn’t come cheap. As previously reported, the Profoto A1 will cost you $ 995 USD… quite the pretty penny when you compare it to some of the full-featured speedlights other options out there from brands like Godox.

For more information on the Profoto A1, visit the Profoto website or watch the introductory video below.

Press Release

The world’s smallest studio light

The Profoto A1 might be the smallest flash we’ve ever made, but it’s still built to the same impossibly high standards we’ve set ourselves over the last fifty years.

Our focus with the A1 was to create a flash that delivers a truly high quality of light, which is why it features a round head which delivers light that’s both natural and beautiful with a pleasing soft-smooth fall-off, that blends seamlessly with the ambient light.

Thanks to a smart magnetic mount built into the head, light shaping tools and modifiers can be clicked on and off quickly and easily. Within seconds you’re being creative with light, shaping it. It also has a zoom function that allows you to make fine adjustments to the spread of light by simply twisting the zoom ring on the head, and for accuracy it has a modeling light built-in to the head – so you can see what you’re going to get before you press the shutter.

We made it our mission to make A1 the first on-camera flash that’s easy to use from the box. The user interface is simple and intuitive with a large high-contrast display at its center. The less time you spend learning and fiddling, the more time you’ll spend shooting. And that’s ultimately what counts. Despite its size, or lack of it, the A1 punches above its weight in a good number of key areas.

Battery life is key when a photographer is right in the thick of the action, because the last thing they need to have to stop mid flow to change the batteries. The A1 has its own Li-ion high capacity battery built-in which lasts up to four times longer than AA batteries with no performance fade. So, you can shoot for longer with confidence.

And this is a flash that can keep up with you because it recycles four times faster than other on-camera solutions – that’s every 1.2 seconds at full power. Put simply, you’ll never miss a shot.

And while it’s true to say the Profoto A1 is our very first on-camera solution it’s also just as effective off-camera as a standalone unit, and integrated into a larger system of lights. That level of versatility is possible because Air Remote is built-in, which means the A1 offers seamless connectivity with freestanding lights like another A1 or bigger Profoto lights like the B1X.

And with AirTTL you’ll get a perfect exposure super-fast. Better still, you can lock the exposure with a single ‘click’ while still being free to fine tune that exposure in manual, giving you even greater control.

So, this is so much more than our smallest flash yet. This is shooting on the move, shooting with confidence and shooting with light shaping excellence. This is shooting off-camera and for the first time with Profoto, on-camera. This is the Profoto A1 – the world’s smallest studio light.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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This is the story behind that tragic, viral photo of a seahorse holding a Q-tip

20 Sep
Photo by Justin Hofman

When photographer Justin Hofman snapped this photo while snorkeling off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa in 2016, he couldn’t have guessed the environmental impact the snapshot would have. A year later, the photograph is a finalist in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and has been dubbed “the poster child for today’s marine trash crisis.”

Hofman is based out of California, but he travels all over the world leading wildlife expeditions. This photo was captured on one-such expedition in Indonesia.

He was gleefully watching this seahorse bounce from natural object to natural object, hitching rides on the current, when something changed. Here’s a piece of the official image caption:

“As the tide started to come in, the mood changed. The water contained more and more decidedly unnatural objects—mainly bits of plastic—and a film of sewage sludge covered the surface. The seahorse let go of a piece of seagrass and seized a long, wispy piece of clear plastic. As a brisk wind at the surface picked up, making conditions bumpier, the seahorse took advantage of something that offered a more stable raft: a waterlogged plastic cotton swab.”

When Hofman shared the photo on his Instagram account last week, it received over 17K likes and 1,100 comments, but it’s a photo he wishes didn’t exist. “This sea horse drifts along with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago,” he wrote on IG. “This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans.”

A post shared by Justin Hofman (@justinhofman) on

As for capturing the photo itself, we asked Hofman if he would like to share anything with our audience of photographers directly. This is what he had to say:

The thing I would really like to tell photographers is to a) Listen to your gut and b) Don’t worry so much about gear.

If you look at this encounter, on paper it doesn’t really make that much sense: I captured a photo of a 1 inch sea horse using a 35mm lens (16-35mm). Most people, if you had told them of the scenario would say to bring a macro lens. But I never have a macro lens on my camera. I am always afraid that a whale will swim by while I have a 105mm on, which would make it worthless. If I am unsure or just goofing off, I will always bring with me the most flexible lens I can. This ensures that whatever comes by, I have given myself the best opportunity possible to capture the moment.

Of course there will always be sacrifices, but the flexibility is key. If I had had a macro lens, I can 100% assure you that this photo would not have been possible because we were both bobbing around too much to make a sharp macro shot possible. Even with a 35mm, I only have a handful of photos that are actually in focus.

And in case you are curious about gear, he also shared that the photo was taken with an A7R II and Sony 16-35mm F4 lens in a Nauticam housing with a Sea and Sea 240mm dome and two Sea and Sea ys-d1 strobes.

To see more of Hofman’s work, be sure to visit his website or give his account a follow on Instagram. And if you’d like to learn more about ocean conservation, Justin suggests you visit SeaLegacy.org.


Photo by Justin Hofman and used with permission.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Report: Samsung is developing a 1,000fps mobile image sensor

20 Sep

According to sources who spoke to Korean publication ETNews, Samsung is planning to kick its mobile camera technology up a notch with a 1,000fps smartphone camera sensor that will compete directly with Sony’s similar sensor. This technology is called a “3-layered image sensor,” and Samsung has reportedly ordered special equipment necessary to start producing the hardware in November. Smartphones featuring this technology, like the Sony Xperia XZ, can record super-slow-motion video.

ETNews, which has a good track record in relation to Samsung leaks, claims that this 3-layered image sensor is comprised of TSV stacking technology alongside a DRAM chip and system semiconductor. Pilot production of the image sensors will start in October, the sources claim, followed by mass production in November. By comparison, Samsung currently uses 2-layered image sensors in its newest flagship smartphones.

It is the DRAM chip for temporary data storage that will enable the mobile image technology to capture at 1,000fps, and as we mentioned earlier, Samsung won’t be the first company to develop this technology for mobile devices. Sony was the first to bring this 3-layered image sensor tech to commercial devices, though the sources say Samsung will use TSV stacking rather than thermal compression to avoid the costs that come with licensing other companies’ patents.

Questions remain about which Samsung smartphones will receive the new 3-layered image sensors. Assuming mass production does start this November, it is reasonable to assume we’ll see the sensors implemented into the next batch of Galaxy smartphones the company will unveil in 2018.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Zenit’s full-frame mirrorless camera will use components made by Leica

20 Sep

Following an announcement last month that camera maker Zenit would launch a full-frame camera in 2018, USSRPhoto claims the new Zenit model will be based on the Leica SL full-frame camera. Leica will reportedly make components for the Zenit based on the ones found in its Leica SL camera, but will tailor them specifically for the upcoming Zenit model.

Little is known about Zenit’s plans at this time. In mid-August, an announcement that Zenit would return with a new camera was reportedly made on Moscow Region Radio 1. No camera specifications were provided aside from the fact that it will be a full-frame mirrorless model with a brand-recognizable design and an anticipated 2018 launch date.

We know that the reborn Zenit company won’t try to compete with the industry’s biggest camera makers, and it was stated at the time that a “leading photographic equipment company” would be used to produce some of the new model’s components. That company wasn’t revealed, but assuming USSRPhoto’s leak is correct, it will be Leica.

However, and in speaking to PetaPixel, USSRPhoto said the KMZ Zenit factory in Russia will itself produce the new lenses for this upcoming model, and that work on this project has already started. Though the factory isn’t capable of producing electronic components for the camera (hence Leica’s involvement) it does have the equipment necessary to make its own optics.

Additional information—such as cost, specs, and a more specific release date—still haven’t been revealed.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Instagram is testing a four-photo grid, and some users are freaking out

20 Sep

Facebook-owned image sharing behemoth Instagram (heard of ’em?) is testing a new change to its app, and the internet is collectively freaking out about it. According to some users, Instagram is already rolling out a new 4-across profile grid to replace the current 3-across setup that people know and (apparently) love.

Not a huge deal, you might think, but many photographers and casual users alike use that 3-across grid to create interesting mosaics that help their profile stand out. And those people are not reacting well to news of the test:

Of course, by now Instagram is used to these kinds of reactions—it seems like every change they make is met by a deluge of fear, anxiety and threats of abandonment. The algorithmic feed has been a boon for the company, but it set the community into a panic; and even smaller changes like the ability to block comments automatically or by keyword are usually met with at least some skepticism.

But for those photographers who have built their Instagram ‘brand’ in part by making creative use of the 3-across grid on their profile, this change would represent a swift kick to the mosaic.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D Review

19 Sep

The EOS Rebel SL2 (known as the EOS 200D outside of North America) is Canon’s second-generation ultra-compact digital SLR. It’s largely packed with Canon’s latest tech, including Dual Pixel AF, a DIGIC 7 processor, Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth, and a new user interface for beginners.

While its small size may lead one to believe that it’s an entry-level model, similar to Nikon’s D3400, the SL2 actually sits above the bottom-end Rebel T6 (EOS 1300D), which costs $ 150 less.

The SL2’s main competitor is the aforementioned Nikon D3400, which is just a tad larger and heavier. The SL2s’ other peers are all mirrorless and include (in our opinion) the Canon EOS M5, Panasonic DMC-GX85 and the Sony a6000 which, after 3+ years on the market, is still competitive.

Key Features

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Dual Pixel autofocus (for live view and video)
  • 9-point autofocus (through the viewfinder)
  • DIGIC 7 processor
  • 3″ fully articulating touchscreen LCD
  • 5 fps burst shooting (3.5 fps with continuous AF)
  • 1080/60p video
  • External mic input
  • Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth
  • Available ‘Feature Assistant’ user interface

Just about everything in that list is Canon’s latest and greatest, and the external microphone input is a nice extra. The one feature that’s not new is the 9-point autofocus system that you’ll use when shooting through the viewfinder – it’s identical to what’s found the original SL1, which is over four years old. You’ll get a much better focusing experience by shooting in live view, which uses Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel AF technology.

Compared to…

The SL2 (left) is the mini-me to the still-small Rebel T7i.

First, let’s take a look at how the SL2/200D compares to the step-up model, the Rebel T7i (EOS 800D). Here’s what you get for another $ 200 (with kit lenses for both models):

  • 45-point AF versus 9-pt AF
  • 7500-segment RGB+IR metering versus 63-segment (from which we’d expect better subject tracking)
  • 6 fps versus 5 fps bursts with S-AF
  • 4.5 fps versus 3.5 fps bursts with C-AF
  • Significantly larger buffer
  • Color tracking for AF in Single AF as well as Continuous AF
  • Semi-transparent LCD in viewfinder that can overlay grids, different AF points, an electronic level, and more
  • Built-in flash can trigger wireless strobes

Does the average point-and-shoot user need any of that? Probably not. If you plan on gaining more experience in the world of digital photography or want a more robust autofocus system, though, the extra $ 200 might be worth it.

Now, let’s take a look at how the specs compare between the the SL2 and the peers mentioned a few paragraphs earlier.

Canon SL2 Nikon D3400 Canon M5 Panasonic GX85 Sony a6000
Resolution 24MP 24MP 24MP 16MP 24MP
Sensor size APS-C APS-C APS-C Four Thirds APS-C
Lens mount EF F EF-M Micro 4/3 E
Image stab. Lens-based Lens-based Lens-based In-camera Lens-based
AF system (live view) Dual Pixel Contrast-detect Hybrid
(Dual Pixel)
Contrast-detect Hybrid
AF system (viewfinder) 9-point 11-point N/A N/A N/A
LCD 3″ fully articulating 3″ fixed 3.2″ tilting 3″ tilting 3″ tilting
Touchscreen Yes No Yes Yes No
Viewfinder type/mag. OVF / 0.54x OVF / 0.57x EVF / N/A EVF / 0.7x EVF / 0.7x
# control dials 1 1 2 2 2
Video 1080/60p 1080/60p 1080/60p UHD 4K/30p 1080/60p
Wireless Wi-Fi + NFC + BT BT Wi-Fi + NFC + BT Wi-Fi + NFC Wi-Fi + NFC
Battery life 650 (OVF)
260 (LV)
1200 (OVF)
N/A (LV)
295 (LV) 290 (LV) 360 (LV)
Dimensions (mm) 122x93x70 124x98x76 116x89x61 122x71x44 120x67x45
Weight 453 g 445 g 427 g 426 g 344 g

Strictly comparing the SL2 and D3400 you’ll see that they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. While there are ‘little things’ like the type of LCD, viewfinder size and wireless functionality, live view autofocus is the main differentiator. It’s simply no contest there with the SL2’s AF system blowing away the D3400 in live view and movie mode.

With the exception of the Sony a6000, the SL2 is close in weight, and not far off in size, to the three mirrorless cameras in the group. All three of the mirrorless cameras have an additional control dial, making exposure adjustment quick, and their EVFs are larger than the optical viewfinders on both DSLRs. None of the mirrorless models can compare to the DSLRs in terms of battery life, but only when you’re using the latter with their optical viewfinders.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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ImageRights expands copyright registration, adds new blockchain protections

19 Sep

Photo protection company ImageRights International, a Boston-based business with offices in Seattle and Berlin, has launched a new image copyright registration system that anyone can use, not just subscribers. The company offers both a Lightroom plugin and a website-based registration tool that streamlines registrations, including automatically checking for errors and filling in forms.

ImageRights’ new copyright registration option costs $ 100 on top of the US Copyright Office fee ($ 35 or higher). This is compared to ImageRights’ subscriber plans, which charge $ 69 for registering a single image and $ 89 for registering multiple images. On top of that, the company offers subscribers additional services such as assessing infringement claims, finding unauthorized uses of a registered photo, and more. But now you don’t need to subscribe to take advantage of their streamlined registration system.

In addition, ImageRights is taking a cue from Binded (formerly Blokai) by launching a Bitcoin blockchain record that uses the technology to save the ImageRights Deposit Copy Certificate of Warranty document it creates when someone uses its service to register a photo. Talking to PDN about this, ImageRights CEO Joe Naylor explained:

We make a hash of this [warranty] document and inscribe it into the Bitcoin Blockchain. This is a tool that helps us during an infringement settlement discussion when the other party questions whether or not an image was really covered by the USCO registration certificate that we say it is. We can show them the warranty where they can now see a visual representation of the image (the thumbnail) associated with the USCO Registration number. And to help prove that we didn’t just fabricate the document when they challenged us, we can show that from the blockchain inscription records that this document existed at that date.

ImageRights is one of multiple services that helps photographers register their image copyrights, though it says it is the only one with a fully automated registration system. Binded is a popular alternative, and it recently announced free one-click registrations.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Bookmark this HEIC to JPEG converter if you’re upgrading to iOS 11 tomorrow

19 Sep

iOS 11 will launch officially tomorrow—it’s been in beta for months—and one of the most relevant photo-centric features coming to Apple’s new mobile OS is the introduction of a high efficiency image file format (HEIF) called HEIC. This format should, in theory, make images smaller without sacrificing quality, in addition to a bunch of other useful features.

There’s just one problem: Windows users can’t natively view HEIC files on their computers. Enter JPEGmini creator Beamr and their new HEIC to JPEG converter.

Beamr says they created the Web tool in response to user feedback—ever since the new format was announced people have been asking for a way to convert HEIC to JPEG. Well, now they can by simply following this link and uploading up to 30 photos at a time. And since this is made by the same folks behind JPEGmini, HEIC images converted using the tool are then further optimized using the JPEGmini technology to spit out more manageable JPEGs.

We’re not sure for how long this tool will be needed. There are a lot of advantages to the HEIC format—the ability to store single images or sequences, the ability to store audio/text alongside the image, the ability to store image editing operations, and both lossy and lossless compression, to name a few—so it would make sense for the format to gain wide-spread integration quickly.

But until then, if you’re upgrading to iOS 11 tomorrow and need/want a way to convert those images to JPEGs, there’s on option waiting for you.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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