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Pentax K-1 Mark II shoots up to ISO 819,200, offers updated Pixel Shift

22 Feb

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Almost exactly two years after its predecessor’s introduction, Ricoh is debuting the Pentax K-1 Mark II. It’s the company’s latest full-frame DSLR and uses the same AA-filterless 36.4MP sensor used by the Mark I, but adds a new ‘accelerator’ to the imaging pipeline. This addition makes it possible to shoot at up to ISO 819,200, according to Ricoh. The company also says updated image processing parameters offer better color reproduction, especially blues and greens.

The K-1 II’s Pixel Shift Resolution System II adds the ability to use this high-res mode without a tripod by measuring the movements that come from hand shake, then capturing and combining four frames into one high-resolution image. The company calls this feature Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode.

Official samples:

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The camera’s hardware specs are otherwise unchanged from the K-1: it still offers a sturdy, weather-resistant construction and a flexible, articulated 3.2″ 1.04 million dot LCD complemented by a nearly 100% optical viewfinder (0.7x magnification). It continues to offer 33 AF points (25 cross-type), with an updated tracking algorithm that claims to improve accuracy while photographing moving subjects in AF-C mode. In-body 5-axis image stabilization is included, claiming up to 5 stops of correction.

Burst shooting tops out at 4.4 fps (up to 17 Raw images or 70 JPEGs) in regular shooting, or 6.4 fps in APS-C crop mode. The camera’s maximum video resolution of 1080/30p is starting to look a bit dated, though it does offer a 4K resolution interval mode that turns a series of stills into a time-lapse video. Headphone and microphone ports are offered, with a new wind-reduction audio recording option.

The Pentax K-1 Mark II will go on sale in April for $ 1999.95 body-only, or bundled with the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR zoom for $ 2399.95.

Ricoh announces the PENTAX K-1 Mark II full-frame digital SLR camera

Flagship model in the PENTAX K series camera line updated to deliver even higher image quality and enhanced performance in challenging shooting conditions

WEST CALDWELL, NJ, February 21, 2018?Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation today announced the PENTAX K-1 Mark II 35mm full-frame digital SLR (DSLR) camera. Developed as the successor to the PENTAX K-1 full-frame DSLR camera launched in April 2016, the compact, rugged and weather-resistant PENTAX K-1 Mark II now becomes the flagship camera in the acclaimed PENTAX K-series lineup. The camera incorporates new technologies that allow it to deliver outstanding image quality and improved operability in a broader range of shooting conditions.

The PENTAX K-1 Mark II uses the same full-frame Anti-aliasing (AA)-filterless CMOS sensor with 36.4 effective megapixels as its predecessor model. However, Ricoh has added a new accelerator unit to the PENTAX K-1 Mark II that—along with the camera’s PRIME IV image processor—enables it to produce high-resolution images with minimal noise in even in the most challenging low-light conditions, up to ISO 819200. This makes the new camera ideal for low-light photography where higher shutter speeds are required.

The camera also incorporates Pixel Shift Resolution System II. This new, PENTAX-developed technology uses the same in-camera shake-reduction (SR) mechanism and sensor-shift capabilities as the original Pixel Shift Resolution System found in the PENTAX K-1, which captures four images of the same scene, and then synthesizes them into a single, super-high-resolution composite image. With the Pixel Shift Resolution System II, the camera also obtains RGB color data, resulting in images with significantly finer details and truer colors than those produced by typical full-frame sensors.

A new feature in the Pixel Shift Resolution System II is Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode. This mode allows photographers to produce crisp, ultra-high pixel shift resolution images without the need of a tripod, extending the camera’s use to a wider variety of subjects and scenes.

The PENTAX K-1 Mark II also comes equipped with many unique features and functions designed to facilitate creativity and ensure operational comfort that have become the hallmark of PENTAX cameras. These include a sturdy magnesium-alloy body with dustproof, weather-resistant construction; an optical viewfinder with a nearly 100-percent field of view for real-time subject confirmation; Astro Tracer, which simplifies the tracing and photographing of celestial bodies by coupling GPS data with the camera’s sophisticated SRII mechanism; and a flexible tilt-type LCD monitor to accommodate various shooting angles.

| Pricing and Availability |

The PENTAX K-1 Mark II camera body will be available in April 2018 for a suggested list price of $ 1,999.95. The camera body plus HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR zoom lens will also be available for a suggested list price of $ 2,399.95. Both can be purchased at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com as well as at Ricoh Imaging-authorized retail outlets throughout North America.

| Main Features |

1. Newly incorporated accelerator unit delivers high-quality images and excellent super-high-sensitivity imaging performance

The PENTAX K-1 Mark II features a 35mm-format full-frame CMOS image sensor with an AA (anti-aliasing) filter–free design to produce high-resolution images with approximately 36.4 effective megapixels. It also features a new accelerator unit, which optimizes the image data obtained by the full-frame image sensor before delivering it to the high-performance PRIME IV imaging engine. As a result, the camera is capable of producing high-quality images with minimal noise, while retaining excellent resolution at all sensitivity levels, from normal to super-high sensitivities. PENTAX has also updated all image-processing parameters to ensure colors are true to life, with special emphasis on deep blues and lively greens. PENTAX has also dramatically improved the camera’s noise-reduction performance at a high-sensitivity range — up to ISO 819200 — to expand creative possibilities in super low-light shooting.

2. Pixel Shift Resolution System II produces super-resolution images and enables handheld shooting

Building upon the original PENTAX-developed Pixel Shift Resolution System — the super-resolution technology that uses the camera’s in-body shake-reduction mechanism to capture four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, and then synthesizes them into a single composite image — is the Pixel Shift Resolution System II,* making its debut in the PENTAX K-1 II. This new system obtains RGB color data for each pixel, resulting in super-high-resolution images with finer details and more realistic colors than those produced by cameras with ordinary full-frame sensors. The Motion Correction functions provides ON/OFF switching, which detects moving elements of the continuously captured images to minimize the effect of subject movement during the image synthesizing process.***The new Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode,** which can be used during handheld shooting, works together with the camera’s shake-reduction mechanism, by synthesizing the composite images while detecting the slight fluctuations of the subject’s position during the capture process.

This technology comes from the reverse thinking of pixel shift technology to utilize the minute camera shake itself to product the composite images. Therefore, by detecting the camera shake in three dimensions, the continuously captured four images are analyzed based on the detected camera shake information and combined into a single file to produce one super high resolution image.

* When using this system, the user is advised to stabilize the camera firmly on a tripod. Even if a moving subject is captured in the camera’s image field, the image may not be reproduced clearly, partially or in total.
** The captured images may not be properly synthesized with certain subjects or under certain conditions. By capturing images in the RAW or RAW+ format, the user can process the images unsuitable for the synthesizing process as normal RAW-format images within the camera body. The images may not be properly synthesized in a composite image
*** The movement may not be sufficiently corrected when the object is moving in a certain direction and/or pattern. This function does not guarantee that the movement is properly corrected with all subjects.

3. High-performance five-axis, five-step SR II system

(1) In-body SR mechanism delivers optimal shake-reduction performance with all compatible lenses The PENTAX K-1 Mark II comes equipped with the PENTAX-developed SR II (Shake Reduction II) five-axis mechanism, which provides accurate control of the large full-frame image sensor with all compatible PENTAX interchangeable lenses.* In addition to camera shake caused by pitch and yaw, this advanced system also compensates for camera shake caused by horizontal and vertical shift (often generated in macro photography) and camera shake caused by roll, which is difficult for lens-installed shake-reduction mechanisms to handle. It has a compensation range up to five steps (measured in conformity with CIPA standards, using the HD PENTAX-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5, 6ED DC WR at a 105mm focal length). When taking a panning shot, this system automatically detects the direction of the camera’s movement, and efficiently controls the SR unit to produce the best image possible without requiring any mode switching operation.

(2) Innovative AA filter simulator to minimize moiré and inaccurate color rendition By applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the sub-pixel level during image exposure, the camera’s anti-aliasing (AA) filter simulator** provides the same level of moiré reduction as an optical AA filter. Unlike an optical filter, which always creates the identical result, this innovative simulator not only lets the user switch the AA filter effect on and off, but also adjust the level of the effect. This means that the ideal effect can be set for a particular scene or subject based on given photographic conditions.

(3) Additional shooting functions enabled by the SR II system Since the camera’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions, additional shooting functions are enabled, including auto level compensation, image-composition fine-adjustment, and Astro Tracer, a feature that works along with the built-in GPS, to produce super-sharp images of the night sky.

* Lenses compatible with this mechanism: K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2-, KAF3- and K AF4-mount lenses; screw-mount lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter). Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.
** This function works most effectively with a shutter speed of 1/1000 second or slower. This function may not be combined with some shooting modes, including the Pixel Shift Resolution system.

4. Flexible, tilting LCD monitor facilitates shooting in the dark On its back panel, the PENTAX K-1 Mark II features a flexible, tilting LCD monitor, which can be adjusted to the desired angle horizontally, vertically or diagonally with a single adjustment, without deviating from the lens’s optical axis. The user can not only tilt it approximately 35 degrees horizontally and approximately 44 degrees vertically, but also pull it out from its base to view the on-screen image from above for waist-level photography. This large, 3.2-inch LCD monitor has approximately 1,037,000 dots and a 3:2 aspect ratio, and provides a protective tempered-glass front panel for added durability. In addition to its wide-view design, it also features a unique air-gapless construction, in which the air space between LCD layers is eliminated to effectively reduce the reflection and dispersion of light for improved visibility during outdoor shooting. Its outdoor monitor function, which allows instant adjustment of the monitor’s brightness to the desired level, has also been improved to provide greater visibility in dark locations. Its red-lit monitor display function facilitates monitor viewing when the photographer’s eyes have become accustomed to a dark location during nighttime photography.

5. SAFOX 12 with 33 sensor points and full-frame-proportioned AF frame Using a SAFOX 12 AF sensor module with 33 AF sensors (25 cross-type sensors positioned in the middle), the PENTAX K-1 Mark II optimizes the autofocus process, and assures high-speed autofocus operation in the AF.S (AF Single) mode. The center sensor and two sensors located just above and below it are designed to detect the light flux of an F2.8 lens, making it easy to obtain pinpoint focus on a subject when using a large-aperture lens. Its AF Tracking algorithm has also been revised to improve tracking accuracy of fast-moving subjects in the AF.C (AF Continuous) mode.

6. PENTAX Real-Time Scene-Analysis System, developed using artificial intelligence technology By combining an approximately 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor with the high-performance PRIME IV imaging engine, the PENTAX K-1 Mark II’s advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System performs real-time analysis of the brightness distribution over the image field and the subject’s colors and movement. Based on this data, it then measures the subject’s lighting conditions with great accuracy and optimizes the exposure. By adopting a breakthrough artificial intelligence technology, deep learning, to its algorithm,* it assesses each individual scene more accurately, and optimizes the exposure settings for a given scene or composition.

* Effective when the AUTO exposure mode is set to Scene Analyze Auto and the Custom Image mode is set to Auto Select.

7. Easy-to-focus optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view Optimized for a 35mm full-frame digital SLR design, the camera’s optical viewfinder provides a nearly 100-percent field of view and an approximately 0.7-times magnification. Using a combination of a condenser lens and aspherical lens, it provides a wide field of view and a clear, undistorted image of the subject. It comes with a Natural Bright Matt III focusing screen, acclaimed for ease of focusing during manual-focus operation, and true-to-life rendition of defocused areas in the viewfinder image. In addition, its transparent viewfinder display makes it possible to superimpose a wide range of photographic data over the viewfinder image.

8. High-speed continuous shooting The PENTAX K-1 Mark II allows continuous recording of as many as 17 images in the RAW format (or a maximum of 70 images in the JPEG Best format) in a single sequence, at a top speed of approximately 4.4 images per second. This is made possible by the combination of advanced mechanisms including a damper mechanism that effectively minimizes mirror shock; high-speed, high-precision control of the shutter and mirror units; and a high-speed data transmission system incorporated in the PRIME IV imaging engine. In the APS-C Crop mode, the drive speed can be boosted to as high as approximately 6.4 images per second, and as many as 50 images in a single sequence in the RAW format (or 100 images in the JPEG Best format) to assure quick response to fast-moving subjects.

9. Supportive shooting functions to improve picture-taking efficiency and operational comfort

  • Operation-assist light function, which sets LED lights at four different spots around the camera body — above the lens mount, behind the LCD monitor, at the memory car slot, and at the cable switch terminal — to facilitate lens and memory card changes, attachment and removal of the cable switch, and control button operation at night and in poorly lit settings.
  • Key lock function, which prevents erroneous operation of the four-way controller and other exposure-related control buttons.
  • Smart Function, which allows the user to swiftly choose and set desired functions using just the function dial and the set dial on the camera’s upper panel, without referring to the menu screen on the LCD monitor.
  • Control panel customize function, which allows the user to change a listing and/or position of the on-screen menu.

10. Compact, rugged body with dustproof, weather-resistant construction The camera’s bottom panel and front and back frames are all made of sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy. Although the camera features a dependable, durable shutter unit that can withstand 300,000 shutter releases (measured under actual shooting conditions) for professional use, its body has been downsized to the minimum possible, thanks to the incorporation of a unique floating mirror structure. With the inclusion of 87 sealing parts in the body, the camera also boasts a dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant construction, assuring solid operation at temperatures as low as -10°C. All these features make the PENTAX K-1 Mark II a dependable, all-purpose performer, even under demanding shooting conditions.

11. Full HD movie recording with an array of creative tools The PENTAX K-1 Mark II captures Full HD movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60i/30p frame rate) in the H.264 recording format, and comes equipped with a stereo mic terminal for external microphone connection, and a headphone terminal. The user can also adjust the audio recording level manually, monitor sound pressure levels during microphone recording, and cut down wind noise using a new wind-noise reduction mode. In addition to a host of distinctive visual effects for movie recording,* the camera also provides the interval movie mode, which captures a series of 4K-resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) movie clips at a fixed interval.

* When special image processing is required, the frame rate may vary depending on the selected special-effect mode.

12. Built-in GPS module The PENTAX K-1 Mark II provides a variety of advanced GPS functions, including the recording of location, latitude, longitude, altitude and UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) and direction at the time of shooting. The user can easily access images containing GPS data using a computer, to browse them, check on shooting locations and position data on the screen, or save them. The camera also provides a set of other unique tools, including: Electronic Compass, which displays the camera’s direction on its LCD monitor; GPS log, which keeps track of the photographer’s movement; and Astro Tracer, which simplifies the tracing and photographing of celestial bodies by coupling GPS data with the camera’s SR mechanism.

13. Other features

  • High-grade DRII (Dust Removal II) mechanism for effective elimination of dust on the image sensor using ultrasonic vibration
  • Crop mode with a choice of image area from AUTO, FF (Full Frame), APS-C and 1:1
  • Wireless LAN connection to support the operation with smartphones and table computers, the transfer of captured images, and remote shooting operations ?HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode with RAW-format data filing, usable in handheld shooting
  • The PENTAX-invented hyper operating system for quick, accurate response to the photographer’s creative intentions
  • Dual SD card slots for memory card flexibility (compatible with SDXC UHS-1 speed class in SDR104 bus speed mode)
  • Compensation of various parameters: lens distortion, lateral chromatic aberration, diffraction, and brightness level at image-field edges. Fringe effect compensation is also available in RAW-format processing.
  • Bulb Timer function to improve operability in bulb shooting
  • Compatibility with PENTAX Image Transmitter 2 tethering software (software update required from RICOH IMAGING official website)
  • Digital Camera Utility 5 software (latest version) included

Pentax K-1 Mark II specifications

Price
MSRP $ 1999/£1799 (body only), $ 2399 (w/FA 28-105mm lens)
Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Body material Magnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution 7360 x 4912
Image ratio w:h 3:2
Effective pixels 36 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 37 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (35.9 x 24 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor PRIME IV
Color space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter array Primary color filter
Image
ISO Auto, 100-819200
White balance presets 8
Custom white balance Yes (3 slots)
Image stabilization Sensor-shift
CIPA image stabilization rating 5 stop(s)
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Best, better, good
File format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.3)
  • Raw (PEF/DNG)
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Yes
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 33
Number of cross-type focus points 25
Lens mount Pentax KAF4
Focal length multiplier 1×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3.2
Screen dots 1,037,000
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture and shutter priority
  • Sensitivity priority
  • Manual
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash modes Auto Flash Discharge, Auto Flash + Red-eye Reduction, Flash On, Flash On + Red-eye Reduction, Slow-speed Sync, Slow-speed Sync + Red-eye, P-TTL, Trailing Curtain Sync, Contrast-control-sync, High-speed sync, Wireless sync
Flash X sync speed 1/200 sec
Drive modes
  • Single Frame, Continuous, Self-timer, Remote Control, Bracketing, Mirror- up, Multi-Exposure, Interval Shooting, Interval Composite, Interval Movie Record, Star Stream
Continuous drive 4.4 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 12 sec, custom)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±5 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
Videography features
Format MPEG-4, H.264
Modes
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60i, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 50i, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 25p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 24p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1280 x 720 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1280 x 720 @ 50p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone port Yes
Headphone port Yes
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11b/g/n
Remote control Yes (wired, wireless, or smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description D-LI90 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 670
Weight (inc. batteries) 1010 g (2.23 lb / 35.63 oz)
Dimensions 137 x 110 x 86 mm (5.39 x 4.33 x 3.39)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (Still or video)
GPS Built-in

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Pentax K-1 Mark II: What you need to know

22 Feb

Pentax K-1 Mark II: What you need to know

The Pentax K-1 was one of the most-anticipated cameras in recent memory. After many starts-and-stops, this full-frame DSLR finally arrived in 2016, much to the delight of Pentax photographers. It offered superb image quality from its 36MP CMOS sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization with several tricks up its sleeve, a unique (to say the least) articulating LCD and a body built like a tank.

The K-1 Mark II carries all of that over, but improves upon the K-1’s image quality thanks to a new ‘accelerator unit’ while adding the ability to use the Pixel Shift high-res mode without a tripod. Ricoh also mentions that the Mark II’s AF tracking algorithms have been improved.

Image Quality Enhancements

The K-1 II’s main addition is an ‘accelerator unit,’ which is a pre-processor that sits between the 36MP CMOS sensor and the PRIME IV image processor. Ricoh says that this pre-processor increases the signal-to-noise ratio, thus reducing noise, which implies it’s a a noise reduction process. Ricoh told us that the accelerator unit, which was found on other Pentax models like the K-70, was not ready for the K-1 when it launched.

Thus, the company has increased the top ISO to 819,200 – a big jump from 209,400 on the original model. We’d be shocked if anything near that ISO is usable, seeing how the K-1 looked at 209,400 (hint: poor, like all cameras in its class), but we’ll find out soon enough.

Ricoh says that ‘deep blues’ and ‘lively greens’ are more ‘true to life,’ as well.

The unit does put the hurt on battery life, though, reducing it to 670 shots per charge from 760 shots on the original K-1.

Pentax K-1 II: Shifting Pixels

Pixel Shift is a clever feature first seen on the K-3 II that uses the in-body image stabilization system to create a high resolution image by combining four images that are offset by a single pixel. This process cancels out the Bayer color array used on nearly all digital cameras, which both eliminates color aliasing and artifacts and removes the need to demosaic, thus improving resolution.

Pixel Shift is best-suited for shooting still objects on a tripod. On the K-1 II Ricoh is trying something that sounds a bit crazy, by using the natural shake of your hands to collect the four images needed to combine into a single high-res image. Ricoh calls this called Dynamic Pixel Shift Resolution mode, and we can’t wait to see how well it works.

What hasn’t changed

As mentioned earlier, the K-1 II retains the 36MP full-frame CMOS sensor from its predecessor, along with its PRIME IV image processor, 33-point AF system and 5-axis in-body image stabilization. In addition to its Pixel Shift and shake reduction duties, the IBIS system also allows for automatic horizon correction and AA-filter simulation.

The unique ‘Cross-Tilt’ LCD makes an appearance on the Mark II, complete with LEDs that can shed light on nearby controls. You can compose your photos through a large pentaprism viewfinder with a magnification of 0.70x and 100% coverage (naturally).

The built-in GPS on the K-1 II not only allows for geolocation but is also used for the camera’s Astrotracer feature, which lets you capture celestial bodies without star trails.

We could keep listing the K-1 II’s features, but since they’re identical to those on the original, check out our review of that camera for all the details.

Good News for K-1 owners

Nobody wants to be left out in the cold when their camera gets replaced. Ricoh hasn’t forgotten this, and will be giving current K-1 owners the opportunity to upgrade to the K-1 Mark II for a limited time.

Between May 21st and September 30th (in North America), K-1 owners can ship their cameras to a Ricoh service center, where the logic board will be replaced with the one found in the Mark II. Pricing for the upgrade is set at $ 550 in the US and $ 690 CAD in Canada.

Pricing and Availability

The K-1 Mark II will begin shipping this April. It will be sold body-only for $ 1999 or with the HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6 ED DC WR lens for $ 2399.

If you’re a current K-1 owner, are you thinking about upgrading to the Mark II? Let us know in the comments.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Associated Press photographer’s video shows ‘travel photographers’ staging photos

22 Feb

Last month, Associated Press photographer A. M. Ahad shared a video on Facebook that shows something disappointing… if not terribly surprising. His video, captured at a train station in Bangladesh, shows photographers shooting staged images of a boy who is posing out a train window as if in prayer.

Ahad criticized the photographers’ actions, saying such staging is used in an effort to capture award-winning images at the expense of professional etiquette.

Speaking with PetaPixel, Ahad explained that a large number of camera-wielding tourists show up for Eid al-Adha and Bishwa Ijtema to snap images that are often posed: “They are all around making images and ruining things for professional photographers.”

“Bangladesh is not for people like this who came to ruin professional photographers etiquette for the sake of winning medal,” Ahad said in the Facebook post that accompanies the video, expressing frustration that photographers who are staging scenes are getting in the way of actual professionals. “Stop telling us that you are foreign media covering the congregation when you have no proof to show us […] just stay home, for goodness sake.”

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The Chroma is a lightweight, affordable, easy-to-use 5×4 field camera

22 Feb

A UK photographer and custom-built camera maker has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a new 5×4-inch field camera that he intends to be lightweight, easy-to-use, unique, affordable and upgradable… as well as a bit funky. To that end, the Chroma will be made from brightly colored sheets of acrylic, laser-cut for accuracy.

Steve Lloyd has spent fifteen years creating custom cameras as one-offs, but decided to make a production 5×4 camera using modern materials and technologies.

The 3mm and 5mm acrylic sheets he uses allow cameras to be made in a range of colors—including Red, Pink, Blue, White, Green, Matte Black, Glossy Black, Purple and Yellow—while the lightweight nature of the material means the Chroma will weigh much less than a traditional wooden model. Even with the ground glass screen, the camera weighs just 1592g.

Here’s a quick intro to the colorful Chroma camera:

Lloyd has designed Chroma to provide a good range of movements in both the front and rear standards, with 40mm of rise and fall when both standards are in operation, and 30mm of shift in either direction at the front. Both standards allow 45° of tilt forwards and backwards, and Lloyd claims swing is limited only by the coverage of the lens in use and the ability of the bellows to flex.

The camera uses a clever back that is fixed with magnets built into the body, so it can be lifted off and rotated in seconds. The back is designed for standard 5×4 double dark slides, and Lloyd says he is working on designs for roll film and Graflok backs, as well as one for wet plate holders.

When fully extended the Chroma can stretch its bellows to 300mm, and it can be used with focal lengths from 65mm to 280mm. In the extended pose the camera measures 180x330x235mm, but it folds away to just 210x180x117mm.

The camera comes with a ground glass screen and a pin-hole lens to get new 5×4 photographers started. Users can choose Copal 0, 1 or 3 sized holes in a Linhof/Wista-style lens board, and those with existing Linhof/Wista boards will be able to fit them.

The Chroma starts at £250 (approx $ 350) for Kickstarter backers, and Lloyd says he expects to deliver between June and November 2018 according to the pledge you choose. Of course, no crowdfunding campaign is a guarantee, but given he’s already raised over $ 40K on a $ 13K goal, Lloyd is well on his way to a successful delivery.

For more information or if you want to put down a pledge and pick up a Chroma for yourself, visit the camera’s Kickstarter page.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Fujifilm interview: ‘We want the X-H1 to be friendly for DSLR users’

21 Feb

Fujifilm’s new X-H1 sits above the X-T2 in the company’s X-series APS-C lineup. As well as offering several enhancements in its core stills photography feature set, the X-H1 also brings high-end 4K video capture with up to 200Mbps capture and 5-axis in-body stabilization.

At the X-H1’s launch in Los Angeles last week, we sat down with the camera’s product manager, Jun Watanabe, to get a detailed look at the new camera. The following interview has been edited for clarity and flow.


Jun Watanabe is the Manager of Product Planning in the Sales & Marketing group of the Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division at Fujifilm.

Fujifilm has stated previously that IBIS would not be possible in X-series cameras because of the small imaging circle of some XF lenses. What changed?

We have spent the past two or three years developing a system where using both hardware and software, we can cover [the necessary] imaging circle. The most important thing is precision. Because a sensor with IBIS is a floating device, it has to be perfectly centered and perfectly flat. We had already achieved a sensor flatness tolerance down to an order of microns, but the challenge was to maintain this precision with IBIS.

A laser measurement device is used during the process of manufacturing the image stabilization unit, and the assembly process also includes inspection and adjustment of each individual camera. For that reason, a micron order level of sensor parallelism is realized even while IBIS is activated.

A chart showing CIPA figures for image stabilization benefit of all compatible XF lenses, when used with the X-H1. As you can see, the least amount of benefit comes when the 10-24mm wideangle zoom is used. Users of the vast majority of XF lenses should see 5 stops of stabilization benefit.

Are there some lenses that will deliver better stabilization than others, as a result of having a larger imaging circle?

Yes. The most effective is the 35mm F1.4. But every XF lens without OIS will benefit from five stops of stabilization.

When you were developing the X-H1, how important was the requirement to add high-end video features?

Many videographers gave us input. A lot of them said they needed in-body stabilization, and F-Log in-camera recording. Those were the top requests from video users.

Compared to the X-T2, the X-H1 is a larger, more DSLR-styled camera which inherits a lot of styling cues from the medium-format GFX 50S. It is also 25% thicker, and better sealed against the elements.

What kind of feedback have you had from videographers since the X-H1 was announced?

Pretty good. We’ve heard from videographers that they really like the 200Mb/s internal recording and 12 stops of dynamic range with the Eterna film simulation. They’ve told us that this combination is the best solution for quick, high-quality video capture.

We wanted to create a more cinematic look, so we studied ‘Eterna’ – one of our cine film emulsions

We received a lot of feedback after we launched the X-T2, from videographers and DPs who said that our film simulation modes in video were unique, but too still photography oriented, with the narrow dynamic range. They wanted a real cinema look. On the product planning side we wanted to create a more cinematic look, so we studied one of our cine film emulsions – ‘Eterna’. That was the starting point.

Velvia is tuned to give you colors as you remembered them. More vivid blue skies, for example. Eterna is tuned in the opposite direction, for moderate saturation, with more cyan and green bias. With Eterna, combined with the X-H1’s dynamic range settings, we have achieved a 12 stop dynamic range.

How did you decide on what video features to include in the camera? Some expected features – like zebra – are missing.

Honestly, we couldn’t add zebra because of hardware constraints. The processor cannot support it. It requires too much processing power. At this time, we’ve achieved the best possible performance for the processor.

The X-H1 (on the left) features a substantially deeper handgrip than the X-T2, which we’re told was a major feature request from existing X-series customers. It also sports a top-plate mounted LCD, which should make it more familiar to photographers coming from using an enthusiast DSLR.

Is 8-bit capture enough, for F-Log recording?

There are 10-bit cameras on the market, but we recommend using Eterna to short-cut the recording process. We think 8-bit is enough for good quality.

Do you think the X-H1 will be bought mostly by stills photographers, or videographers?

We are targeting both. We have greatly upgraded the video performance [compared to the X-T2] but we have upgraded the stills performance too, especially autofocus in low light, and subject tracking. We also added flicker reduction and dynamic range priority, and so on. We are targeting both kinds of professional users.

When it comes to autofocus, minimum low light AF response has been improved from 0.5EV to -1EV. We’ve also introduced a new phase-detection autofocus algorithm and parallel data processing. The X-H1 has the same processor as the X-T2 but the algorithms are new. A single autofocus point in the X-T2 was divided into 5 zones. In the X-H1, this has been increased to 20 zones.

Phase-detection autofocus will be possible with our 100-400mm lens in combination with a 2X teleconverter

Data from each zone is processed in three ways, for horizontal detail, vertical detail, and fine, natural detail like foliage or a bird’s feathers. This processing happens simultaneously, rather than in series, which is a big advantage over the X-T2. We’ve also achieved phase-detection performance down to F11, which means that phase-detection autofocus will be possible with our 100-400mm lens in combination with a 2X teleconverter, with a much higher hit-rate compared to the X-T2.

During shooting, the predictive AF algorithm now generates information from captured images in a sequence, for more reliable subject tracking while zooming.

Now that you have a powerful 4K-capable video camera with IBIS, how will this change how you develop lenses, in the future?

For stills lenses, our approach will stay the same. But we’ve also announced two cinema lenses. These both work with IBIS and the MKX 18-55mm zoom will deliver 5 stops of correction. This is a unique selling point.

We have had requests from some of our professional users for a bigger camera

The X-H1 is considerably larger than its predecessors. Is there a point when the size advantage of APS-C compared to full-frame gets lost?

Professionals are generally more accepting of larger cameras, and [compared to DSLRs] the X-H1 isn’t that big. And we have had requests from some of our professional users for a bigger camera, especially those photographers that use our longer lenses. A bigger grip and more solid body were both requested.

Here’s that deeper handgrip, in action.

When the camera gets bigger, does it make some aspects of design easier? Like heat management?

Yes, the increased camera volume gives us some advantages when it comes to heat and cooling systems. In fact the X-H1’s 4K recording time is 50% longer than the X-T2, thanks to a new cooling system and two large copper heat sinks.

How much technology from the GFX 50S has made it into the X-H1?

Some of the operation and operability improvements have made their way into this camera. We hope that some DSLRs users will come over to the X-series, thanks to things like the top LCD, and twin control dials and so on. We wanted the X-H1 to be ‘friendly’ to photographers who are used to DSLRs.


Editor’s note:

I always enjoy talking to engineers, even with the caveat that some of what they say occasionally goes completely over my head. I was very surprised, for instance, after hearing Mr. Watanabe detail all of the clever ways in which the X-H1 processes AF information, to be told that the new camera has the same processor as the X-T2.

It’s not impossible to imagine that the X-T2 might yet benefit from some of these advances.

Quite how Fujifilm has managed to eke such increased efficiency from essentially the same amount of computing power is beyond my intellect, but if the claimed increase in performance holds up in our testing, the company deserves a lot of credit. And given Fujifilm’s excellent track record of updating older models, it’s not impossible to imagine that the X-T2 might yet benefit from some of these advances.

Apparently there were internal discussions about including a dual, or even a completely new processor in the X-H1, but this would have added to development time, as well as cost. It’s possible too that some of the heat-management benefits of the X-H1’s larger internal volume compared to the X-T2 might have been nullified.

‘Silent control’ in movie shooting allows you to adjust exposure settings by touching the rear LCD – avoiding the noise and vibration of clicky buttons and dials making its way into your footage.

And in these days of 4K video capture, heat matters. The X-H1 isn’t a perfect video camera by any means, but it’s the most convincing X-series model yet. It should compare well against most of its competitors, barring only the more specialized Panasonic GH5/S. In-camera 5-axis stabilization is a big part of that (involving 10,000 calculations per second, if you can believe it), but features like 12EV of video dynamic range (Eterna + DR400%), internal F-log recording and a maximum quality of 200 Mbps are sure to attract the attention of professional, as well as casual videographers.

One of the most requested features from Fujifilm’s X-series customers was a bigger grip

Even for people with little or no interest in video, the X-H1’s enhanced feature set might still be enough to justify the extra cost over the X-T2. And possibly also its ergonomics. According to Mr. Watanabe, one of the most requested features from Fujifilm’s X-series customers was a bigger grip. The X-H1 gets bigger everythings, just about. Obviously this means that the camera is bigger as a result, but Fujifilm is hoping that this will make the X-H1 appeal to more traditional DSLR users.

Will the X-H1 prove a hit? I hope so. It’s an impressive camera, and a bold move by Fujifilm. I can’t see the company creating a dedicated video camera any time soon (and Mr. Watanabe would not be drawn on this question when I asked him) but however it gets there, one thing is clear: Fujifilm really wants to be taken seriously by filmmakers, as well as traditional stills photographers.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Lensrentals tears down the Sony a7R III in search of better weather sealing

21 Feb

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Our good friend Roger Cicala over at Lensrentals finally got around to tearing down the Sony a7R III, to see if Sony was being honest when it claimed the newest a7R was much better weather sealed than its predecessor. The results? Well, it’s a “good news, bad news” situation. Yes, Sony was being truthful… but it screwed up in one major place.

You can see the full teardown over on the Lensrentals blog—Roger tears the thing all the way down, even giving us a great look a the IBIS system and how far the sensor can travel—but the TL;DR version goes something like this:

Sony weather sealed most of this camera very well, much better than its predecessor. BUT, for some reason, Sony left the bottom of this camera extremely vulnerable to water. You can see just how vulnerable in the gallery above. Or, if you prefer words, here’s Roger’s conclusion:

Sony spoke truly. Except for the bottom this camera has thorough and extensive weather sealing, as good as any camera I’ve seen. (Before you Pentax guys start, I have not taken apart a Pentax so it may be completely sealed in a super glue matrix for all I know.)

That being said, the bottom of the camera is not protected worth a damn. If you’re out in a sprinkle or shower, this probably doesn’t matter; water hits the top first. But if you’re in severe weather, near surf, or might set your camera down where someone might spill something, you need to be aware of that.

To read the full conclusion, scroll through the entire teardown, and see just how many rubber gaskets and foam pieces Sony added to the a7RIII to keep it safe from inclement weather, head over to the Lensrentals blog.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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This strange gadget literally shocks you into taking ‘better’ photos

21 Feb

A new project called Prosthetic Photographer involves a very real gadget designed to zap humans into taking better images. The system was created by artist and designer Peter Buczkowski, and it works with both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Using artificial intelligence, the device constantly scans for ‘ideal’ scenes and uses mild electric shocks to force/train the photographer to capture them.

“The Prosthetic Photographer enables anybody to unwillingly take beautiful pictures,” Buczkowski explains on the project’s website. The gadget is a way for an AI to train a human, though the AI itself was first trained using a dataset containing 17,000 images, and those images were captured and rated by humans.

Using what it learned about quality photos, the Prosthetic Photographer AI identifies scenes worth capturing and trains the human behind the camera to recognize them. To do this, the AI triggers a small electric shock delivered through electrodes on the handgrip, which forces the photographer’s finger to press a button and capture said ideal scene.

As demonstrated in the video at the top of this post, users can adjust the shock strength using knobs on the back of the device. “This system is part of a new aesthetic, based on computer-generated decisions that were taught by previous human skill,” Buczkowski explains on his site. “The conscious skill of photography becomes obsolete this way.”

The resulting images feature the AI’s own aesthetic tastes, which are based on the images used to train the system. Of course, some of the scenes captured by the human who is being ‘trained’ are often… less than striking.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Drone may have caused helicopter crash in South Carolina

21 Feb

Officials are investigating whether a recent helicopter crash near Charleston, South Carolina, was caused by a civilian drone operated nearby. The accident, which happened last Wednesday, involved a Robinson Helicopter Co. R22 helicopter carrying an instructor pilot and student.

The two are reporting that a small UAV flew directly in their path, forcing the instructor to perform evasive action. That evasive action, unfortunately, caused the helicopter’s tail to hit a tree, which sent the helicopter into a crash landing, according to Bloomberg. Sources speaking to the publication report that the helicopter’s tail was severely damaged; fortunately, neither person was injured.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that it is looking into initial reports claiming a drone contributed to the crash. Assuming that’s true, this would be the first time that a drone has caused an aircraft crash in the US. The FAA hasn’t commented on the possibly of a drone’s involvement.

Reports of drones being operated illegally, near-misses with aircraft, and even possible collisions are increasing. In recent days, a video surfaced of a drone being operated directly above a commercial passenger jet in Las Vegas. Following that, more recent reports claim a drone struck a tour helicopter in Hawaii. Canadian officials also recently released a report detailing a collision between a drone and a small plane.

Though the drone model hasn’t been stated (and may not be known), Chinese drone maker DJI has preemptively released a statement on the matter, saying:

DJI is trying to learn more about this incident and stands ready to assist investigators. While we cannot comment on what may have happened here, DJI is the industry leader in developing educational and technological solutions to help drone pilots steer clear of traditional aircraft.

Last year, DJI introduced a system called AeroScope that helps law enforcement and airport officials identify drones being operated in restricted airspace.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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DPReview on TWiT: tech trends in smartphone cameras

20 Feb

As part of our regular appearances on the TWiT Network (named after its flagship show, This Week in Tech) show ‘The New Screen Savers’, our Science Editor Rishi Sanyal joined host Leo Laporte and co-host Megan Morrone to talk about how smartphone cameras are revolutionizing photography. Watch the segment above, then catch the full episode here.

Rishi has also expounded upon some of the topics covered in the segment below, with detailed examples that clarify some of the points covered. Have a read after the fold once you’ve watched the segment.

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.


So who wins? iPhone X or Pixel 2?

Not so fast. Neither.

Each has its strengths, which we hope to tell you about in our video segment above and in our examples below. Google and Apple take different approaches, and each has its pros and cons, but there are common overlapping practices and themes as well. And that’s before we begin discussing video, where the iPhone’s 4K/60p HEVC video borders on professional quality while Google’s stabilization may make you want to chuck your gimbal.

Smartphones have to deal with the fact that their cameras, and therefore sensors, are tiny. And since we all (now) know that, generally speaking, it’s the amount of light you capture that determines image quality, smartphones have a serious disadvantage to deal with: they don’t capture enough light. But that’s where computational photography comes in. By combining machine learning, computer vision, and computer graphics with traditional optical processes, computational photography aims to enhance what is achievable with traditional methods.

Intelligent exposure and processing? Press. Here.

One of the defining characteristics of smartphone photography is the idea that you can get a great image with one button press, and nothing more. No exposure decision, no tapping on the screen to set your exposure, no exposure compensation, and no post-processing. Just take a look at what the Google Pixel 2 XL did with this huge dynamic range sunrise at Banff National Park in Canada:

Sunrise at Banff, with Mt. Rundle in the background. Shot on Pixel 2 with one button press. I also shot this with my Sony a7R II full-frame camera, but that required a 4-stop reverse graduated neutral density (‘Daryl Benson’) filter, and a dynamic range compensation mode (DRO Lv5) to get a usable image. While the resulting image from the Sony was head-and-shoulders above this one at 100%, I got this image from the Pixel 2 by just pointing and shooting.

Apple’s iPhones try to achieve similar results by combining multiple exposures if the scene has enough contrast to warrant it. But iPhones can’t achieve these results (yet) since they don’t average as many ‘samples’ as the Google Pixel 2. Sometimes Apple’s longer exposures can blur subjects, and iPhones tend to overexpose and blow highlights for the sake of exposing the subject properly. Apple is also still pretty reticent to enable HDR in ‘Auto HDR’.

The Pixel 2 was able to achieve the image above by first determining the correct focal plane exposure required to not blow large bright (non-specular) areas (an approach known as ETTR or ‘expose-to-the-right’). When you press the shutter button, the Pixel 2 goes back in time 9 frames, aligning and averaging them to give you a final image with quality similar to what you might expect from a sensor with 9x as much surface area.

How does it do that? It’s constantly keeping the last 9 frames it shot in memory, so when you press the shutter it can grab them, break each into many square ’tiles’, align them all, and then average them. Breaking each image into small tiles allows for alignment despite photographer or subject movement by ignoring moving elements, discarding blurred elements in some shots, or re-aligning subjects that have moved from frame to frame. Averaging simulates the effects of shooting with a larger sensor by ‘evening out’ noise.

That’s what allows the Pixel 2 to capture such a wide dynamic range scene: expose for the bright regions, while reducing noise in static elements of the scene by image averaging, while not blurring moving (water) elements of the scene by making intelligent decisions about what to do with elements that shift from frame to frame. Sure, moving elements have more noise to them (since they couldn’t have as many of the 9 frames dedicated to them for averaging), but overall, do you see anything but a pleasing image?

Autofocus

Who focuses better? Google Pixel 2, hands down. Its dual pixel AF uses nearly the entire sensor for autofocus (binning the high-resolution sensor into a low-resolution mode to decrease noise), while also using HDR+ and its 9-frame image averaging to further decrease noise and have a usable signal to make AF calculations from.

Google Pixel 2 can focus lightning fast even in indoor artificial light, which allowed me to snap this candid before it was over in a split second. The iPhone X captured a far less interesting moment seconds later when it finally achieved focus, missing the candid moment.

And despite the left and right perspectives the split pixels in the Pixel 2 sensor ‘see’ having less than 1mm stereo disparity, an impressive depth map can be built, rendering an optically accurate lens blur. This isn’t just a matter of masking the foreground and blurring the background, it’s an actual progressive blur based on depth.

That’s what allowed me to nail this candid image the instant after my wife and child whirled around to face the camera. Nearly all my iPhone X images of this scene were either out-of-focus or captured a less interesting, non-candid moment because of the shutter lag required to focus. The iPhone X only uses approximately 3% of its pixels for its ‘Dual PDAF’ autofocus, as opposed to the Pixel 2’s use of its entire sensor combined with multi-frame noise reduction, not just for image capture but also for focus.

Portrait Lighting

While we’ve been praising the Pixel phones, Apple is leading smartphone photography in a number of ways. First and foremost: color accuracy. Apple displays are all calibrated and profiled to display accurate colors, so no matter what Apple or color-managed device (or print) you’re viewing, colors look the same. Android devices are still the Wild West in this regard, but Google is trying to solve this via a proper color management system (CMS) under-the-hood. It’ll be some time before all devices catch up, and even Google itself is struggling with its current display and CMS implementation.

But let’s talk about Portrait Lighting. Look at the iPhone X ‘Contour Lighting’ shot below, left, vs. what the natural lighting looked like at the right (shot on a Google Pixel 2 with no special lighting features). While the Pixel 2 image is more natural, the iPhone X image is far more interesting, as if I’d lit my subject with a light on the spot.

Apple iPhone X, ‘Contour Lighting’ Google Pixel 2

Apple builds a 3D map of a face using trained algorithms, then allows you to re-light your subject using modes such as ‘natural’, ‘studio’ and ‘contour’ lighting. The latter highlights points of the face like the nose, cheeks and chin that would’ve caught the light from an external light source aimed at the subject. This gives the image a dimensionality you could normally only achieve using external lighting solutions or a lot of post-processing.

Currently, the Pixel 2 has no such feature, so we get the flat lighting the scene actually had on the right. But, as you can imagine, it won’t be long before we see other phones and software packages taking advantage of—and even improving on—these computational approaches.

HDR and wide-gamut photography

And then we have HDR. Not the HDR you’re used to thinking about, that creates flat images from large dynamic range scenes. No, we’re talking about the ability of HDR displays—like bright contrasty OLEDs—to display the wide range of tones and colors cameras can capture these days, rather than sacrificing global contrast just to increase and preserve local contrast, as traditional camera JPEGs do.

iPhone X is the first device ever to support the HDR display of HDR photos. That is: it can capture a wide dynamic range and color gamut but then also display them without clipping tones and colors on its class-leading OLED display, all in an effort to get closer to reproducing the range of tones and colors we see in the real world.

iPhone X is the first device ever to support HDR display of HDR photos

Have a look below at a Portrait Mode image I shot of my daughter that utilizes colors and luminances in the P3 color space. P3 is the color space Hollywood is now using for most of its movies (it’s similar, though shifted, to Adobe RGB). You’ll only see the extra colors if you have a P3-capable display and a color-managed OS/browser (macOS + Google Chrome, or the newest iPads and iPhones). On a P3 display, switch between ‘P3’ and ‘sRGB’ to see the colors you’re missing with sRGB-only capture.

Or, on any display, hover over ‘Colors in P3 out-of-gamut of sRGB’ to see (in grey) what you’re missing with a sRGB-only capture/display workflow.

iPhone X Portrait Mode, image in P3 color space iPhone X Portrait mode, image in sRGB color space Colors in P3 out-of-gamut of sRGB highlighted in grey

Apple is not only taking advantage of the extra colors of the P3 color space, it’s also encoding its images in the ‘High Efficiency Image Format’ (HEIF), which is an advanced format aimed to replace JPEG that is more efficient and also allows for 10-bit color encoding (to avoid banding while allowing for more colors) and HDR encoding to allow the display of a larger range of tones on HDR displays.

But will smartphones replace traditional cameras?

For many, yes, absolutely. You’ve seen the autofocus speeds of the Pixel 2, assisted by not only dual pixel AF but also laser AF. You’ve seen the results of HDR+ image stacking, which will only get better with time. We’ve seen dual lens units that give you the focal lengths of a camera body and two primes, and we’ve seen the ability to selectively blur backgrounds and isolate subjects like the pros do.

Below is a shot from the Pixel 2 vs. a shot from a $ 4,000 full-frame body and 55mm F1.8 lens combo—which is which?

Full Frame or Pixel 2? Pixel 2 or Full Frame?

Yes, the trained—myself included—can pick out which is the smartphone image. But when is the smartphone image good enough?

Smartphone cameras are not only catching up with traditional cameras, they’re actually exceeding them in many ways. Take for example…

Creative control…

The image below exemplifies an interesting use of computational blur. The camera has chosen to keep much of the subject—like the front speaker cone, which has significant depth to it—in focus, while blurring the rest of the scene significantly. In fact, if you look at the upper right front of the speaker cabinet, you’ll see a good portion of it in focus. After a certain point, the cabinet suddenly-yet-gradually blurs significantly.

The camera and software has chosen to keep a significant depth-of-focus around the focus plane before blurring objects far enough away from the focus plane significantly. That’s the beauty of computational approaches: while F1.2 lenses can usually only keep one eye in focus—much less the nose or the ear—computational approaches allow you to choose how much you wish to keep in focus even if you wish to blur the rest of the scene to a degree where traditional optics wouldn’t allow for much of your subject to remain in focus.

B&W speakers at sunrise. Take a look at the depth-of-focus vs. depth-of-field in this image. If you look closely, the entire speaker cone and a large front portion of the black cabinet is in focus. There is then a sudden, yet gradual blur to very shallow depth-of-field. That’s the beauty of computational approaches: one can choose extended (say, F5.6 equivalent) depth-of-focus near the focus plane, but then gradually transition to far shallower – say F2.0 – depth-of-field outside of the focus plane. This allows one to keep much of the subject in focus, bet achieve the subject isolation of a much faster lens.

Surprise and delight…

Digital assistants. Love them or hate them, they will be a part of your future, and they’re another way in which smartphone photography augments and exceeds traditional photography approaches. My smartphone is always on me, and when I have my full-frame Sony a7R III with me, I often transfer JPEGs from it to my smartphone. Those images (and 720p video proxies) automatically upload to my Google Photos account. From there any image or video that has my or my daughter’s face in it automatically gets shared with my wife without my so much as lifting a finger.

Better yet? Often I get a notification that Google Assistant has pulled a cute animated GIF from my movie it thinks is interesting. And more often than not, the animations are adorable:

Splash splash! in Xcaret, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Animated GIF auto-generated from a movie shot on the Pixel 2.

Machine learning allowed Google Assistant to automatically guess that this clip from a much longer video was an interesting moment I might wish to revisit and preserve. And it was right. Just as it was right in picking the moment below, where my daughter is clapping in response to her cousin clapping at successfully feeding her… after which my wife claps as well.

Claps all around!

Google Assistant is impressive in its ability to pick out meaningful moments from photos and videos. Apple takes a similar approach in compiling ‘Memories’.

But animated GIFs aren’t the only way Google Assistant helps me curate and find the important moments in my life. It also auto-curates videos that pull together photos and clips from my videos—be it from my smartphone or media I’ve imported from my camera—into emotionally moving ‘Auto Awesome’ compilations:

At any time I can hand-select the photos and videos, down to the portions of each video, I want in a compilation—using an editing interface far simpler than Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. I can even edit the auto-compilations Google Assistant generates, choosing my favorite photos, clips and music. And did you notice that the video clips and photos are cut down to the beat in the music?

This is a perfect example of where smartphone photography exceeds traditional cameras, especially for us time-starved souls that hardly have the time to download our assets to a hard drive (not to mention back up said assets). And it’s a reminder that traditional cameras that don’t play well with such automated services like Google and Apple Photos will only be left behind simpler services that surprise and delight a majority of us.

The future is bright

This is just the beginning. The computational approaches Apple, Google, Samsung and many others are taking are revolutionizing what we can expect from devices we have in our pockets, devices we always have on us.

Are they going to defy physics and replace traditional cameras tomorrow? Not necessarily, not yet, but for many purposes and people, they will offer pros that are well-worth the cons. In some cases they offer more than we’ve come to expect of traditional cameras, which will have to continue to innovate—perhaps taking advantage of the very computational techniques smartphones and other innovative computational devices are leveraging—to stay ahead of the curve.

But as techniques like HDR+ and Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting have shown us, we can’t just look at past technologies to predict what’s to come. Computational photography will make things you’ve never imagined a reality. And that’s incredibly exciting.

Hungry for more? We’ve updated our standard studio scene to allow you to compare the Pixel 2 and iPhone X against each other and other cameras in Daylight and Low Light, as well as updated our galleries. Follow the links below:

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Samsung unveils massive 30TB solid state drive, the world’s largest SSD

20 Feb
Photo: Samsung

Samsung has reached another solid state storage milestone with its newly-announced Serial Attached SCSI PM1643 30TB SSD. The drive, which was developed for enterprise use, has double the capacity of the 15.36TB SSD Samsung introduced in early 2016. The company packed 512Gb V-NAND chips alongside 1TB NAND flash packages into the new drive, the combination enabling it to offer a 30TB capacity in a 2.5-inch form factor.

“With our launch of the 30.72TB SSD,” Samsung’s Jaesoo Han explained, “we are once again shattering the enterprise storage capacity barrier, and in the process, opening up new horizons for ultra-high capacity storage systems worldwide.”

In addition to hitting a record capacity, Samsung explains that its PM1643 is the first SSD to feature Through Silicon Via (TSV)-applied DRAM, which totals 40GB in this model. The company also managed to include an endurance level that supports writing 30.72TB of data to the drive every day for five years (the warranty period) without failure, an error correction code (ECC) algorithm for reliability, software offering sudden power failure and metadata protection, and sequential read/write speeds up to 2,100MB/s and 1,700MB/s.

Photo: Samsung

Samsung plans to offer other versions of this drive with capacities ranging from 800GB to 15.36TB. As for the 30.72TB model, the South Korean company explains that it started producing “initial quantities” of the drive last month, with lineup expansion planned for later in 2018.

The drive price isn’t listed, but we’re less excited about this specific drive (since it’s an enterprise drive) and more excited about the tech trickling down into consumer-focused higher capacity SSDs that photographers and videographers can use for backups.

Read the full press release below for more details about these drives.

Samsung Electronics Begins Mass Production of Industry’s Largest Capacity SSD – 30.72TB – for Next-Generation Enterprise Systems

New ‘PM1643’ is built on latest 512Gb V-NAND to offer the most advanced storage, featuring industry-first 1TB NAND flash package, 40GB of DRAM, new controller and custom software

Korea on February 20, 2018 – Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has begun mass producing the industry’s largest capacity Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) solid state drive (SSD) – the PM1643 – for use in next-generation enterprise storage systems. Leveraging Samsung’s latest V-NAND technology with 64-layer, 3-bit 512-gigabit (Gb) chips, the 30.72 terabyte (TB) drive delivers twice the capacity and performance of the previous 15.36TB high-capacity lineup introduced in March 2016.

This breakthrough was made possible by combining 32 of the new 1TB NAND flash packages, each comprised of 16 stacked layers of 512Gb V-NAND chips. These super-dense 1TB packages allow for approximately 5,700 5-gigabyte (GB), full HD movie files to be stored within a mere 2.5-inch storage device.

In addition to the doubled capacity, performance levels have risen significantly and are nearly twice that of Samsung’s previous generation high-capacity SAS SSD. Based on a 12Gb/s SAS interface, the new PM1643 drive features random read and write speeds of up to 400,000 IOPS and 50,000 IOPS, and sequential read and write speeds of up to 2,100MB/s and 1,700 MB/s, respectively. These represent approximately four times the random read performance and three times the sequential read performance of a typical 2.5-inch SATA SSD*.

“With our launch of the 30.72TB SSD, we are once again shattering the enterprise storage capacity barrier, and in the process, opening up new horizons for ultra-high capacity storage systems worldwide,” said Jaesoo Han, executive vice president, Memory Sales & Marketing Team at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung will continue to move aggressively in meeting the shifting demand toward SSDs over 10TB and at the same time, accelerating adoption of our trail-blazing storage solutions in a new age of enterprise systems.”

Samsung reached the new capacity and performance enhancements through several technology progressions in the design of its controller, DRAM packaging and associated software. Included in these advancements is a highly efficient controller architecture that integrates nine controllers from the previous high-capacity SSD lineup into a single package, enabling a greater amount of space within the SSD to be used for storage. The PM1643 drive also applies Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology to interconnect 8Gb DDR4 chips, creating 10 4GB TSV DRAM packages, totaling 40GB of DRAM. This marks the first time that TSV-applied DRAM has been used in an SSD.

Complementing the SSD’s hardware ingenuity is enhanced software that supports metadata protection as well as data retention and recovery from sudden power failures, and an error correction code (ECC) algorithm to ensure high reliability and minimal storage maintenance. Furthermore, the SSD provides a robust endurance level of one full drive write per day (DWPD), which translates into writing 30.72TB of data every day over the five-year warranty period without failure. The PM1643 also offers a mean time between failures (MTBF) of two million hours.

Samsung started manufacturing initial quantities of the 30.72TB SSDs in January and plans to expand the lineup later this year – with 15.36TB, 7.68TB, 3.84TB, 1.92TB, 960GB and 800GB versions – to further drive the growth of all-flash-arrays and accelerate the transition from hard disk drives (HDDs) to SSDs in the enterprise market. The wide range of models and much improved performance will be pivotal in meeting the growing storage needs in a host of market segments, including the government, financial services, healthcare, education, oil & gas, pharmaceutical, social media, business services, retail and communications sectors.

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