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DJI announces the Ronin 4D, the world’s first 4-axis cinema camera with 8K/75p recording, Raw capture, LiDAR AF and more

20 Oct

DJI has kicked off its string of announcements with the Ronin 4D, a new—and arguably revolutionary—cinema camera system that combines a cinema camera with four-axis image stabilization, LiDAR focusing and wireless transmission to create the ultimate all-in-one shooting experience.

The DJI Ronin 4D attempts to create an ‘integrated cinematography solution,’ in DJI’s own words. At the heart of the Ronin 4D is CineCore 3.0, a proprietary chipset DJI is calling ‘its most powerful cinematic imaging platform to date.’ According to DJI, this system can capture internal 8K Raw video ‘with precise color reproduction, advanced assistive functions with a high-performance AI engine, and multi-link monitoring and control with low-latency image processing.’

To pair with the new chipset is a pair of new full-frame (36mm × 24mm) Zenmuse X9 gimbal camera systems, available in 8K and 6K versions. Both the X9–8K and X9–6K will be able to record Apple ProRes 422 HQ and ProRes RAW, as well as your standard H.264 codec. The Zenmuse X9–8K tops out at 8K/75fps while the X9–6K tops out at 6K/60fps with the option to get 120 fps footage at 4K resolution.

Zenmuse X9 cameras feature interchangeable lens mounts, but will be available at launch with options for its proprietary DL mount and Leica M mount lens systems. DJI says it should also work, at least in theory, with ‘other mounts with short-flange focal distances,’ but doesn’t elaborate on whether or not it will be offering any other interchangeable mounts at this time.

The sensor inside the X9–8K and X9–6K offers dual-native gain and can capture ‘over 14 stops of dynamic range.’ There are also nine built-in physical ND filters that can be adjusted from ND2 to ND512 for times when you need to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor. Footage captured with the new Zenmuse X9 camera systems will be processed by DJI’s Cinema Color System, which it says ‘delivers natural skin tones and enables effortless tonal consistency across a project when using different cinema cameras.’

A comprehensive list of recording specs for the Zenmuse X9-8K camera system.

Moving onto the four-axis gimbal, DJI says the Ronin 4D ‘has been designed with an innovative industry-first active Z-axis to eliminate vertical camera shake effectively.’ DJI has also taken inspiration from its drone lineup to add a set of downward-facing ToF sensors, as well as forward and downward dual-visual sensors, a built-in IMU and a barometer to achieve the best stabilization possible.

The Ronin 4D will feature three different autofocus modes: manual focus, autofocus and a new Automated Manual Focus (AMF) mode. The latter two modes use the onboard LiDAR Range Finder, which casts over 43,200 points as far as 10M (33ft) to locate and track subjects in situations where traditional AF might not work due to the lack of light. The unique AMF mode will track subjects and turn the focus wheel during recording, with the option for the camera operator to jump in and manually pull focus when needed. To help in manual focus and AMF modes, there will be LiDAR Waveform available on the monitor to help cinematographers ‘locate focus points and pull focus with extreme precision.’

Once again taking inspiration from its line of drones, DJI has developed an all-new O3 Pro transmission technology that can output 1080p/60fpsd video to remote monitors via the 4D Video Transmitter. DJI says the transmission range is roughly 20,000 feet and notes the video feed is AES 256-bit encrypted for end-to-end privacy. The system uses 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands, as well as the DFS frequency band, which DJI says ‘significantly improv[es] stability and anti-interference performance, even in crowded signal environments and locations that feature complex architectural structures.’

While third-party monitors can be used, DJI is also offering a new 7” wireless monitor with 1,500 nits of brightness and a built-in gyro that effectively turns the monitor into a motion controller for the Ronin 4D camera system. The High-Bright Remote Monitor includes an integrated microSD card slot for 1080p/60fps proxy recording and connects with a slew of accessories, including the Ronin 4D Hand Grips, DJI Master Wheels, DJI Force Pro and the new DJI Three-Channel Follow Focus. Multiple monitors can be used at once and customized independently to fit the production’s needs.

Video can be recorded to media three different ways: to SSD over USB-C, to CFexpress Type-B cards via the internal card slot and directly to DJI’s proprietary PROSSD 1TB SSD, which DJI claims ‘delivers the best performance and highest stability for internal recording at maximum resolution and frame rate.’ The Ronin 4D has built-in microphones capable of recording two-channel 24-bit audio, but also has two 3.5mm ports on the body as well as the option to add two XLR ports via the Expansion Plate for further input options.

The Ronin 4D uses the same TB50 Intelligent Battery used by DJI’s Ronin 2 and Inspire 2, which offers up to 2.5 hours of shooting time. Below is the full launch event video:

The 6K version of the DJI Ronin 4D will be available for $ 7,199 in December 2021. It will includes the main body, a Zenmuse X9–6K gimbal camera, a LiDAR Range Finder, a High-Bright Main Monitor, Hand Grips, a Top Handle, TB50 Intelligent Battery and a carrying case. The 8K version of the DJI Ronin 4D will be available for $ 11,499 ‘at a later date’ and will include the Zenmuse X9–8K Gimbal Camera as well as a PROSSD 1TB. The 4D Video Transmitter, High-Bright Remote Monitor and DJI PROSSD 1TB will also be available to purchase separately.

You can find out more about the DJI Ronin 4D on DJI’s website and download sample footage on DJi’s dedicated download page.

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Software review: Nik Silver Efex Pro 3 gives the look of black and white film without the fuss

18 Oct

Nik Silver Efex Pro 3
$ 149 as part of Nik Collection 4

A few months ago we found a lot to like in the latest iteration of the Nik Collection, a suite of eight image processing tools initially developed by Nik Software and these days owned by French software company DxO. At the time, we looked at the overall suite with a focus on what was new. For this review, though, we’d like to take a closer look at just one of the suite’s most useful components, Silver Efex Pro 3.


Nik Silver Efex Pro 3 is a black-and-white conversion tool that goes far further than the grayscale or black-and-white tools built into Adobe Photoshop. It allows users to simulate the look of specific real-world film types, manually tuning their color sensitivity and grain with an incredible amount of flexibility and precision. For less experienced users, a generous selection of presets are provided to get you started with minimal effort.

Silver Efex allows you to make a wide range of adjustments to brightness, contrast, structure and tonality, either globally or locally using control points. You can also apply color filters, reduce haze and finish your creations with toning, vignetting, borders and more.

Even at its default ‘neutral’ setting, Silver Efex Pro’s rendering is noticeably different to that of a simple grayscale conversion in Photoshop.
Click here for the full-sized Silver Efex image, here for Photoshop grayscale or here for full color.

Available immediately as part of the Nik Collection 4 bundle, Silver Efex Pro 3 can function either standalone or as a plugin for Photoshop, Lightroom and other compatible apps on both Windows 8.1+ or macOS 10.14+. (And as of the recently-released Nik Collection 4 version 4.2, this includes support for Adobe Photoshop running natively on Apple M1 devices.)

The overall Nik Collection 4 is priced at $ 149 for new customers, with upgrades available to existing customers for $ 79. That actually makes it around $ 50 less for the full suite than Silver Efex Pro 1 or 2 used to cost standalone.

What’s New?

Let’s take a quick look at what’s new in Silver Efex Pro 3. The biggest change is to the user interface, which has been completely redesigned with a far more modern look. Gone are the busy 3D-effect buttons, bevels and drop shadows of the Silver Efex Pro 2 UI, with the new version aiming to reduce distraction with a flatter, cleaner and more modern interface.

Compared to that of version 2, Silver Efex Pro 3’s interface is much cleaner and more modern.

DxO has also updated its U-Point control point technology to reduce visual clutter, significantly increase versatility and in the latest v4.2 release, bring a modest boost to performance as well. Control points can be grouped or renamed, saved for reuse in presets, and in Lightroom Classic can also be copied and pasted between images. Their individual sliders now appear in the right panel rather than directly on the image, and the luminance/chrominance values to which they respond can be tuned.

The company has also borrowed two features from its other apps to further extend Silver Efex Pro. It now boasts both the haze-busting ClearView slider from DxO PhotoLab, as well as the ability to add one of 39 black and white film grain types from DxO FilmPack. Both of these additions can only be applied globally, rather than via U-Point controls.

User interface and controls

Just like the other apps in the Nik Collection, Silver Efex Pro 3 can be used completely standalone and without the need for third-party applications.

Works standalone but it’s best used as a plugin

As a standalone app, Silver Efex can only open images in JPEG or TIFF formats, which rather limits its utility. Since it doesn’t support Raw files standalone, many photographers will instead want to pair it with other apps.

Standalone mode is very similar to plugin mode but without the bottom-of-screen status bar you’d use to apply changes as a plugin. Instead, you must use save command in the file menu.

As well as DxO’s own PhotoLab series, it can officially be used only with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements 2020+, Lightroom Classic 2019+, Affinity Photo 1.8+ or, as of its v4.2 release, Capture One 21. Other applications may work to varying degrees, but aren’t officially supported.

For example, Exposure X6 works even for Raw files, first converting them to TIFF format, but functions as if Silver Efex had been opened standalone. You aren’t shown the status bar at the bottom of the screen, and instead must use the file menu to save your results. And prior to v4.2, Capture One didn’t work at all, appearing fine but failing to apply its adjustments in the final step.

The good news is that a free 30-day unlimited trial is available, so if you’re using an application that’s not officially supported with the Nik Collection, you can try them together first to see if everything works before paying.

A fair few presets keep things simple for beginners

The quickest way to get results from Silver Efex Pro 3 is to use one of its presets, of which there are a reasonably generous 58 in all. They’re separated somewhat haphazardly into five groups with not-so-informative names: Classic, En Vogue, Modern, Vintage and 25th Anniversary. You can also view all five groups together, filtering them to show only your favorites or the ten most recently-used presets.

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The presets are all shown atop the left-hand pane, along with your editing history for the current image. For each preset you’re shown a small preview based upon the image you’re currently editing. These are rendered very quickly, making it easy to simply scroll through the list and find the look you’re after, or a preset that will make a good jumping off point for your own creation.

You can’t permanently modify the 58 base presets, but you can create new custom presets which can be exported and imported to allow sharing with other photographers or across multiple workstations. Your custom and imported presets are each grouped separately from the base presets, so there’s no way to quickly access favorites from all three categories or to see them all as one scrollable list.

A vast selection of controls to tune results to your tastes

Of course, while presets are great for beginners who want quick results, more experienced photographers will prefer to capture their own artistic vision, not simply borrow someone else’s.

Silver Efex Pro 3’s control list is so vast that, even with just one control point active and on a 1080p display, the right pane is still almost 3500 pixels tall. The cropped screenshots above link to the top and bottom halves of the right pane, respectively.

Thankfully, Silver Efex Pro 3 offers a huge amount of control over your images courtesy of a whopping 50+ controls in its right-hand pane. And that’s just counting the controls which affect the entire image globally. If you add one or more of DxO’s U-Point control points to the image, you’ll unlock another dozen-plus sliders per point or group of points.

Not only global adjustments, but local ones too

Each control point you add to the image is indicated with a small donut-shaped mark at its center, and while it is selected, an outer circle appears showing the extent beyond which the effect will gradually be feathered away to nothing. This outer limit can be resized to cover the portion of the image you need.

For each point, there are also both luminance and chrominance sliders, and these help you to target specific areas of the image based on their brightness and color before the black and white conversion. If you dial both sliders down to zero, the control point will effectively become a graduated radial selection, instead.

The ability to group and rename control points is very handy. In this mask view, I’ve selected the taxi’s body with one group of control points, and the road markings with another group.

Once placed, multiple control points can be grouped together. You can also rename both individual points and groups of them, and when saving new presets you can choose whether or not control points should be included. Of course, once the preset is subsequently applied to a different image, you can adjust the point positions if they don’t quite match what’s needed from shot to shot.

A closer look at the global controls

The bulk of Silver Efex Pro 3’s controls are grouped under its global adjustments header, with subgroups including brightness, contrast or structure adjustment headers, as well as tonality protection.

Click here for the full-sized Silver Efex image or here for the original color image.

Brightness can be adjusted globally, or for the highlights, midtones and shadows. There’s also a dynamic brightness slider which tries to hold onto local contrast in the highlights and shadows will brightening or darkening the image globally.

For contrast, you have a choice of either the basic contrast slider or a soft contrast slider which aims for a less harsh effect with more diffuse transitions. There are also sliders to amplify whites or blacks alone.

Under the structure header, you get both the basic structure control and one for fine structure, as well as individual controls for structure in the highlight, midtone and shadow areas. And finally, the tonality protection section contains sliders to recover lost detail in just the highlight and shadow areas of the image.

Local adjustments get a subset of these global controls

The selective colorization slider lets you bring back a specific color range to your otherwise-black and white image using U-Point selections. Image uses Full Dynamic (Smooth) preset.
Click here for the Silver Efex image or here for the original color image.

Each individual control point or group of them also offers a subset of the controls from the previous section. Confusingly, they’re grouped rather differently to those for global adjustments, though. All but the dynamic brightness, soft contrast, tonality protection and high/mid/shadow/black structure sliders have equivalents for control points.

There’s also one extra control which is specific to the control points – selective colorization. This allows you to bring some of the color back into specific parts of your otherwise black and white image, and since you can have multiple control points, you can also bring back multiple colors if you wish.

Vanquish haze with the ClearView slider

The ClearView filter in Silver Efex Pro is quite effective, but can’t be targeted only at specific areas of the image, so can cause overly-contrasty foregrounds if pushed too far.
Click here for the full-sized default image, here for the ClearView image or here for full color.

One of the new features in Silver Efex Pro 3, inherited from DxO’s flagship PhotoLab application, is its new ClearView slider. Just like its PhotoLab equivalent, it’s very effective at recovering detail and increasing contrast in hazy backgrounds and other lower-contrast areas of your image.

I sometimes found it hard to push far enough though, simply because the areas of moderate contrast in my images would start to show too much contrast before the hazy background was fully recovered. I’d really like to see DxO allow ClearView to be paired with U-Point or some other form of localized selection in a future release to help in these situations.

Color filtering without the physical filters

With traditional black and white film, if you wanted to tune the response to individual colors of light you’d do so with filters attached to the front of the lens. For example, you might attach a yellow, orange or perhaps even a red filter to make a blue sky more dramatic, or a green filter to lighten foliage.

With Silver Efex Pro, that’s all achieved post-capture with no need to fumble for physical filters, however. Red, orange, yellow, green and blue filter presets are all provided, but if you prefer you can also dial in a specific hue in one-degree increments, and you can also control the strength of the filter from 0 to 200%.

Color filters can be simulated after the fact in Silver Efex Pro 3, so you can do things like darkening a blue sky with a yellow filter to help give the clouds more definition.
Click here for the full-sized unfiltered image, here for the filtered image or here for full color.

Simulate the look of real B&W film in two somewhat-contradictory ways

Silver Efex Pro 3 now offers two different tools to simulate the look of black and white film grain. The two can be used in concert together, but the division between the two tools is unnecessarily confusing.

Firstly, the film types tool lets you select one of 28 different film types and dial in your desired level of grain size and hardness. You can also control the film’s sensitivity in red, yellow, green, cyan, blue and violet channels, and adjust levels/curves. All of this is carried over from earlier version and is based on code from Nik Software, the original creator of the Nik Collection.

Through the new film grain tool, DxO now also lets you simulate the look of specific, real film grains based on the same algorithms it used to create its FilmPack plugin. In all, there are 38 film grain types on offer, including almost every black and white film type from FilmPack. For each you can adjust the intensity from 0 to 200%, and the grain size from 1.0 to 10.0.

The new film grain tool’s grain patterns have a very authentic feel, but unlike the earlier film types tool, it only handles grain simulation and forgoes any attempt to tune the film’s responsiveness to different wavelengths of light. You can, however, use both tools at once, in which case the new tool overrides only the grain pattern of the earlier one. (And you can, if you want, choose different film types in each section to, say, create a fictitious film with the light response of one film but the grain of another.)

Full-size, no-grain-added image.

A wide range of authentic-looking film grains are available in Silver Efex Pro 3. In order, these are 100% crops of the above image with no added grain, Fuji Neopan 1600, Kodak T-Max 3200, Ilford Delta 3200 and filtered Kodak HIE. All share the same Neutral profile and differ only in their grain selections.

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Finish your images with toning, vignetting, burnt edges and borders

Finally, Silver Efex provides four different categories of finishing adjustments: Toning, vignetting, burnt edges and borders. By default, these are one-click adjustments involving no more than making a selection from a list, but far more control is available if you want it.

For toning, you can not only select a color but also control strength, hue and toning for both silver and paper, and the balance between the two. For vignetting, you can adjust the strength of the vignette (which can either darken or lighten), as well as its size, roundness and center point.

For burnt edges, you control the size, transition softness and strength of the effect on all four edges individually. And finally, image borders allows you not only to choose one of 14 predefined border types, but also how thick the border is and how far it extends into the image. You can also adjust the roughness of the border, and provide a ‘seed’ number that the program should use when generating the random details in border textures.

The compare tools allow you to quickly toggle between before and after views, view the image with an adjustable side-by-side or under/over split, or see both before and after images together.

Before-and-after comparisons are quick and easy

View controls can be found at the top of the screen, and I found the comparison controls in particular to be rather handy. The leftmost of these toggles between the results of your current settings or the default black and white conversion, and holding the P key down achieves the same thing.

The central button splits the image in two either vertically or horizontally, and allows you to move the dividing line across the image to allow a careful before-and-after comparison anywhere within the image. And finally, the rightmost button gives you either side-by-side or under/over views of the full image.

The histogram tool allows you to highlight which image areas are within ten different luminance levels at your current settings, even in the loupe view. Note also the history panel at screen left.

The histogram tool is surprisingly handy, too

One last function I found to be particularly handy was Silver Efex Pro 3’s histogram tool, which sits beneath the loupe at the top of the right pane. It not only gives you access to RGB, red, green, blue or luminance graphs of your image, but also splits it into ten different luminance ranges.

For any of the ten, you can enable an overlaid pattern on the image, with the pattern color varying by the range selected. This makes it really easy to see which parts of the image share the same luminance, and I found it even more useful than the more-common technique of just highlighting the brightest and darkest image areas.

Click here for the full-sized Silver Efex image or here for the original color image.


It’s been more than a decade since Silver Efex Pro’s last major update and until just this year, it hadn’t been significantly changed since the suite’s original creator, Nik Software, was sold first to Google and then DxO.

A lot has changed in all that time, not only for Silver Efex itself but also in the imaging software market. Gone are the days when a plugin of its ilk could command the heady price of $ 200. These days you can purchase the entire eight-plugin Nik Collection for a much more reasonable $ 150, but sadly you can’t pick and choose which of those plugins you want to save even more.

Click here for the full-sized Silver Efex image or here for the original color image.

In its overhauled form Silver Efex Pro 3 is much easier on the eye than its predecessor, making it much easier to focus on your images. And while some of its new features sit a little awkwardly alongside earlier ones, once we got used to the differences between film types vs. film grain and global vs. local adjustment sliders, we found it to be pretty easy to use considering the level of control on offer.

Performance, while not mindblowing, is sufficient to prevent frustration. On my 2018-vintage Dell XPS 15 9570 laptop running Windows 10 version 20H2 and Nik Collection v4.2, most sliders update within a half-second or less of being tweaked, even those using U-Point controls to limit their effect to certain area of the image. Final renders can take perhaps 20-30 seconds, which again doesn’t feel unduly slow.

Click here for the full-sized Silver Efex image or here for the original color image.

And it’s hard to argue with Silver Efex Pro’s results. If you’re a fan of black and white photography and are willing to put in a bit more effort than simply clicking on a preset, you can get much more authentic-looking images than you would from the black and white tools in your camera or most all-in-one apps like Photoshop.

If you’re still using the previous release of Silver Efex Pro, its successor represents a no-brainer upgrade. As well as a nicer interface and more film grain types, you’ll also find the new ClearView tool and improved U-Point technology to be big improvements. And if you’re not already a Nik Collection user but want a solid plugin that can deliver realistically film-like black and white images, we’d definitely recommend giving the trial version a spin.

What we like:

  • Yields convincingly film-like results
  • Presets get beginners up and running quickly
  • Making and sharing custom presets is simple
  • Both global and local adjustments
  • Loads of controls to fine-tune the look you’re after
  • ClearView tool is quite effective at correcting haze
  • New user interface is cleaner and less distracting
  • More affordable as a suite component than its predecessors were sold separately

What we don’t:

  • Can no longer be purchased separately
  • No Raw support when used standalone
  • Presets feel rather disorganized
  • Film types vs. film grain tools are unnecessarily confusing
  • Ditto the differing global and local adjustment slider arrangements

Who’s it for:

More experienced photographers who want fine-grained control over their black and white creations, and who desire a convincingly film-like final result.

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Rotolight’s new NEO, AEOS RBGWW flashes output 16.7 million colors

17 Oct

Lighting manufacturer Rotolight has announced updates to its NEO and AEOS ranges of continuous/flash lighting units that add RGBWW LEDs and touch screen controls.

The NEO 3 and AEOS 2 lights use five-color LEDs to offer a mass of cutom color options as well as a collection of 2500 pre-programmed filtration effects. Both units now have a color range of 3000-10,000 Kelvin, while the NEO 3 more than doubles its maximum output from the 1652 lux of the NEO 2 to 4541 lux. Rotolight claims this makes the NEO 3 the most powerful on-camera LED available. The AEOS 2 can manage 9230 lux – a step up from the 5750 lux of the original model.

As well as continuous lighting both units have a flash mode, and they can use their RGBWW LED mix to flash in the same number of colors as they can put out in continuous mode. The NEO 3 can sync with shutter speeds of up to 1/8000sec, and can output a maximum burst of 10,700 lux at 1m – to deliver an exposure of f/10 at 3ft with ISO 100 according to company figures. The 17,800 lux AEOS 2 can manage f/13 with the same settings, and offers the same max sync speeds.

The AEOS 2

Thankfully the NEO 3 uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery, so you no longer have to fill it with AAs. It can be powered via AC as well, of course, and the AEOS 2 also offers both power options.

Rear view of the touch screen on the NEO 3

The units have Elinchrome’s Skyport system built-in for wireless triggering, can produce 100,000 full-power bursts per charge and boast a ‘0sec recycle time’. A new touch screen is said to make operation much easier and a new app allows control of both units and firmware updates via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.

Rotolight has also introduced a new adapter that allows users to use Bowens-mount modifers, while the AEOS 2 incorporates the SmartSoft feature from the company’s Titan models that offers adjustable diffusion, focus and spread.

Both lights are being launched via a Kickstarter campaign, and are due to ship in March next year. The price of the NEO 3 starts at £352/$ 479 while the AEOS 2 starts at £825/$ 1119.

Press release:


Award-winning British LED lighting company, Rotolight, is today announcing the next generation of its hugely popular LED lighting products: the Rotolight NEO 3 and AEOS 2. These exciting new products combine the ‘shoot what you see’ benefits of continuous light, with a world-first High-Speed Sync RGBWW flash, providing photographers and filmmakers with unlimited creative possibilities. These two ground-breaking fixtures are available now for pre-order exclusively through Rotolight’s Kickstarter campaign, which will run through until November 16th, 2021.

Rotolight NEO 3

A pocket-sized powerhouse, the Rotolight NEO 3 is the brightest on-camera LED light ever produced. Experience unrivalled power and industry-first innovations in a compact form factor you can take anywhere. Available as an individual light, a three-light kit and with a new, bespoke, high-performance, rechargeable lithium battery, the NEO 3 is a creative companion you can rely on.

Rotolight AEOS 2

Meanwhile, the Rotolight AEOS 2 offers image-makers unmatched versatility. Uniquely lightweight with an ultra-thin design, this new LED from the world’s most innovative lighting brand is the thinnest and lightest 1 x 1 panel ever made at under 1.4kg. With the Rotolight AEOS 2, it has never been easier to achieve beautiful soft light on the move.

For the first time, both of Rotolight’s new products will allow photographers to flash in any one of 16.7 million colours or 2,500 digital filters, whilst zero recycle time ensures you’ll never miss a shot.

New Touchscreen

Access key features and effortlessly recall your favourite settings at a moment’s notice thanks to a new full-colour 2-inch touchscreen display. The intuitive display allows users to save precious time on any shoot with its easy-to-use interface and powerful, feature-rich menu.

Rotolight iOS & Android App

With an all new Rotolight iOS and Android native app, you’re always in control. Easily switch between lighting modes to remotely adjust colour, power, SFX and much more. Create custom groups and projects on up to 20 lights simultaneously; right from the palm of your hand.

Smartsoft Box™

Effortlessly switch from a beautiful soft output to a harder light source at a moment’s notice with the world’s first intelligent softbox designed for AEOS 2: SmartSoft Box™. Electronically adjust your light’s diffusion, focus and spread without the need for gels via the touchscreen display or Rotolight app.

Rotolight Universal Speedring Adaptor

A new Rotolight Universal Speedring adaptor unlocks an endless suite of Bowens-mount modifiers for the Rotolight NEO & AEOS range, making achieving great soft light easier than ever before and demonstrating Rotolight’s commitment to the brand’s loyal global user community.

“The NEO 3 and AEOS 2 are a huge leap forward in lighting technology, and we’re extremely excited about launching on the Kickstarter platform to bring these state-of-the-art products to more people than ever before,” says Rotolight CEO, Rod Aaron Gammons. “For new users, this is a fantastic opportunity to join the Rotolight family, while for our existing customers it’s our chance to say thank you for a decade of support with an exclusive opportunity to be the first in the world to own these revolutionary products.”

The NEO 3 and AEOS 2, are available now exclusively on Kickstarter until November 16th, and will ship from March 2022. View the early bird offers and back the campaign now at Kickstarter.

Note/disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project before backing it. Pledges to crowdfunding campaigns are not pre-orders. DPReview does not have a relationship with this, or any such campaign, and we publicize only projects that appear legitimate, and which we consider will be of genuine interest to our readers. You can read more about the safeguards Kickstarter has in place on its ‘Trust & Safety’ page.

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Some of the oldest American photographs were found in a workshop in New York

16 Oct

You never know where or when significant historical artifacts will turn up. Some very early photographic portraits were recently found in an unheated shed on Long Island in New York. The found photographs may be some of the very first portraits captured in the United States.

In 1839, the daguerreotype process was introduced by its namesake, Louis Daguerre, in France. It was the first publicly available and commercially viable photographic process. Although eventually replaced by more affordable, easier processes, many daguerreotypes were made in the 1840s and 1850s. In the US, the race was on to turn Daguerre’s process into a money-making venture.

‘Henry Fitz Jr. (1808-1863). The ‘Profile View’ taken with the Wolcott mirror camera, January-February 1840. Housed in a heavy brass frame identified in pencil on verso “Henry Fitz Jr. of New York and Baltimore. 1808-1863.’ Image and caption credit: Hindman Auctions

Henry Fitz Jr., Alexander Wolcott and John Johnson pulled it off. Fitz Jr. patented the first American camera and opened the first photographic portrait studio in the country. Fitz Jr. was a telescope maker in New York City. His understanding of optics gave him a significant advantage over would-be competitors.

The trio began collaborating on their photographic venture in late 1839. In early 1840, Fitz was the subject of some of the earliest successful photographic portraits ever taken. In June of 1840, Fitz opened a portrait studio in Baltimore, Maryland, cornering the market, at least for a time.

‘The ‘Eyes Closed’ Portrait of Henry Fitz Jr. (NMAH Cat No. 4114A). Probably taken in JanuaryFebruary, 1840 with the Wolcott mirror camera.’ Image and caption credit: Hindman Auctions

Some of the earliest photos taken by Fitz, Wolcott and Johnson were housed in that shed on Long Island. The photos will be going up for sale by Hindman Auctions. The auction house says, ‘The cache of daguerreotypes offered here – along with the existing Fitz group at the National Museum of American History – is the largest group of images produced by a single photographer from the pioneering era of photography in America (1839-1842). In this regard it is unique. While single images from this period exist, most are anonymous, undated and orphans floating in the historical ether. By contrast, the Fitz archive can be quite tightly dated to have been produced between about January 1840 and the fall of 1842. It was during these 36 months that photography in America sprang to existence and emerged as a commercial enterprise.’

‘Julia Wells Fitz (1814-1892), wife of Henry Fitz. Ninth plate daguerreotype, housed in red leather side opening case, with heavy brass mat. With delicate tinting of cheeks and lips; dress with fugitive blue tinting. Not removed from case. The identification of this image is based on the similarity between the sitter and the oil painting of Julia Wells Fitz included in this archive.’ Image and caption credit: Hindman Auctions

The collection holds immense historical and cultural significance. While Fitz, Wolcott and Johnson were not the creators of the daguerreotype process, of course, they were at the forefront of its adoption and growth. It’s also one of the more complete collections of photographs from that time frame.

You can read the full details about the auction listing by visiting Hindman. A digital catalog about the listing is available for viewing here. In-person bidding will begin on November 15 by appointment only.

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You can now control the RØDE Wireless Go II system with your Android, iOS device

15 Oct

RØDE has made its Wireless Go II dual-channel microphone system even more capable and portable with a pair of updates. The first update is a new RØDE Central mobile app that makes it possible to fully customize and configure the wireless microphone system via a mobile device, while the second is new compatibility with the RØDE Connect desktop app, which enables you to use the system with podcasting or streaming software.

Until now, the RØDE Wireless Go II system required a desktop computer to change various settings, including recording mode, adjusting the gain settings and other granular controls. Now, all of these features, as well as firmware updates, will be possible with Android and iOS apps thanks to the new RØDE Central Mobile app.

The one notable function missing in the mobile app is the ability to transfer recordings directly to your mobile device from the microphones. It’s unclear if this functionality will be added at a later date, but as it stands, recordings will still need to be offloaded via the onboard USB-C port.

In order to connect with the mobile app, RØDE Wireless Go II systems will need to be updated one final time with the desktop app to enable wireless connectivity.

The next update is one to RØDE’s Connect desktop app, which makes it possible to record podcasts and stream audio directly from your computer. With this latest update, you can now use the Wireless Go II system to get professional-grade audio wirelessly during interviews, livestreams, podcasts and more.

Each transmitter can be assigned to its own channel for easier independent control and other RØDE microphones can be used in conjunction with the Wireless Go II system if additional audio is required.

The RØDE Connect update should be available for anyone who already has the app installed. If you don’t already have it installed, it can be downloaded for free on RØDE’s website.

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Sony 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II sample gallery

13 Oct

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Sony’s latest lens, the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II, brings all new optics to one of the core products in the company’s G Master line of premium lenses. We’ve had a chance to see how Sony’s latest 70-200mm F2.8 performs in a variety of situations with some sunny Fall weather around Seattle. Take a look and see how it performs for yourself.

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Video: First-ever look at crystals forming in real-time at atomic resolution

11 Oct

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have combined novel techniques to record the first-ever atomic resolution video of salt crystals as they form in real-time. The team used the novel technique of atomic-resolution real-time video recording and the similarly novel technique of conical carbon nanotube confinement to achieve this impressive feat.

Before diving in, it’s important to give context. Salt crystals, like other crystals such as snowflakes and diamonds, comprise repetitive arrangements of molecules. While crystals can take many different forms, something they all have in common is a highly ordered microscopic structure. The process of disorganized molecules arranging into an ordered crystalline structure is called nucleation. The time it takes for the first crystal to appear in this process is called primary nucleation time. Secondary nucleation is a new crystal structure being produced by a preexisting crystal.

Nucleation has been the subject of scientific study for centuries. Scientists have been able to observe molecules at an atomic level and see what a crystal looks like. Still, until now, nobody has observed the dynamic process of crystal formation. Observing the nucleation process should shed light on the process and help expand our understanding of molecular structure and crystallization.

Credit: American Chemical Society / University of Tokyo

‘One of our master’s students, Masaya Sakakibara, used SMART-EM to study the behavior of sodium chloride (NaCl) – salt,’ said Project Assistant Professor Takayuki Nakamuro. ‘To hold samples in place, we use atom-thick carbon nanohorns, one of our previous inventions. With the stunning videos Sakakibara captured, we immediately noticed the opportunity to study the structural and statistical aspects of crystal nucleation in unprecedented detail.’

SMART-EM is a single-molecule atomic-resolution real-time electronic microscopy technique developed by students at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tokyo. The technique captures images at 25 frames per second.

Nakamuro and his team looked at Sakakibara’s videos and, per, ‘were the first people ever to see tiny cuboid crystals made of tens of molecules of NaCl emerging from the chaotic mixture of separate sodium and chloride ions.’ They observed a statistical pattern in the frequency of crystal emergence that followed a normal distribution. A normal distribution of crystal emergence had long been a held theory but had yet to be verified through experiment.

Credit: American Chemical Society / University of Tokyo

University Professor Eiichi Nakamura added, ‘Salt is just our first model substance to probe the fundamentals of nucleation events. Salt only crystallizes one way. But other molecules, such as carbon, can crystallize in multiple ways, leading to graphite or diamond. This is called polymorphism, and no one has seen the early stages of the nucleation that leads to it. I hope our study provides the first step in understanding the mechanism of polymorphism.’

The team hopes to better understand polymorphism, which is an important process to produce various pharmaceutical and electronic components. To read more about the ongoing study, refer to ‘Capturing the Moment of Emergence of Crystal Nucleus from Disorder,’ by Takayuki Nakamuro, Masaya Sakakibara, Hiroki Nada, Koji Harano and Eiichii Nakamura.

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DPReview TV: iPhone 13 Pro review – shot on the iPhone 13 Pro!

09 Oct

We shot this entire review on the iPhone 13 Pro. See real world examples of Cinematic Mode, Portrait Mode, Night Mode and more. Also, find out the one thing that made Jordan declare, ‘It’s like having a fork dragged across my eyeballs.’

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Introduction
  • 'Wide' lens
  • 'Ultrawide' lens
  • 'Telephoto' lens
  • Portrait Mode
  • Night mode
  • What is Cinematic Mode?
  • Jordan's thoughts on Cinematic Mode
  • Cinematic Mode quality
  • Cinematic Mode vs. 4K
  • 4K quality
  • Low light video performance
  • Image stabilization
  • The wrap

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Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 2022 announced with new Sensei-powered technology

07 Oct

Adobe has announced the 2022 versions of its Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements software. The applications are designed to make creative photo and video editing accessible and fun.

To that end, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements include what Adobe calls ‘Guided Edits.’ These are step-by-step interactive tutorials you can use on your photos and videos to achieve specific editing tasks. The new applications add four new Guided Edits, bringing the total to 87.

There’s a new Guided Edit in Photoshop Elements 2022 for editing pet photos. Credit: Adobe

The four new Guided Edits include a couple in Photoshop Elements, and the other two are in Premiere Elements. In Photoshop Elements, you can use a new Guided Edit to edit pet photos and extend photo backgrounds. For pet photos, you can adjust color and lighting, select and refine detailed edges like fur, remove collars and leashes and more. In the Guided Edit for extending photo backgrounds, you can use Content-Aware Fill technology to extend your image beyond its original crop, either to change an aspect ratio or just change up the framing.

Using Content-Aware Fill, you can extend the background of your photo. Credit: Adobe

In Premiere Elements, there’s a new Guided Edit to add animated overlays to your videos, such as fun butterfly animations. The other new Guided Edit shows you how to adjust shadows and highlights in your video, allowing you to bring out additional details.

Looking now at just Photoshop Elements 2022, the new software uses more Adobe Sensei AI technology than last year’s release. You can use Adobe Sensei to transform your photographs into painting-inspired images. You can select from different artistic effects inspired by famous artwork and other popular styles.

Credit: Adobe

Another Sensei-powered feature is the ability to warp photos to fit any shape. You can place one photo inside another by wrapping it around an object, like a mug, or fit the image into shapes, like the sunglasses example above.

Within Photoshop Elements 2022, you can combine still and motion photography with animated frames. You can place different moving overlays like snowflakes, hearts and sparkles to your still photos and then export the motion image as an .MP4 to share on social media.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 also includes new slideshow styles, a revised Organizer that lets you view GIFs in motion, and automatic software updates.

Premiere Elements 2022 includes animated overlays. Credit: Adobe

Adobe Premiere Elements 2022 includes new aspect ratio options. Many users share videos on social media, which sometimes includes vertical video and square aspect ratios. In Premiere Elements, you can edit and export videos in social-friendly formats without losing content. You can also add motion titles, mattes and backgrounds designed for vertical videos.

Premiere Elements 2022 includes new aspect ratio options for editing and exporting. Using these ratios doesn’t affect your original video file. Credit: Adobe

Another new tool is Sensei-powered auto-reframe. This tool allows the software to automatically re-frame your subject to ‘keep the most important part of the action in the frame.’

Premiere Elements 2022 includes a slider for video compression. If you’re editing and exporting a video for social media, you probably don’t need it to be a high-quality 4K video. Instead, you can use a compression slider in Premiere Elements to reduce the size of your movies, making them more suitable for uploading to the web or social media or sending to friends and family in a message.

Auto-reframe is powered by Adobe Sensei AI technology and keeps your subject front and center in different aspect ratios. Credit: Adobe

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022 and Premiere Elements 2022 are available now. The applications are available for macOS and Windows and can be purchased standalone or in a bundle. Standalone versions are $ 99.99 for new users and $ 79.99 to upgrade. The bundle is $ 149.99 or $ 119.99 for eligible upgrades. Education pricing is also available. For the full details and to purchase the software, click here.

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Video: a Retro Review of Sony’s 24-year-old Mavica FD5 camera, which used floppy discs for storage

04 Oct

Gordon Laing has shared another episode of Retro Reviews, this time reviewing the 24-year-old Sony Mavica FD5, one of Sony’s earliest digital cameras that recorded cameras directly to 3.5” floppy discs.

The Mavica FD5 was released in 1997 and retailed for around $ 600. While not the first Mavica camera, it was the first digital Mavica camera. As Gordon explains in the 13-minute video, the selling point of the FD5 was its use of the ubiquitous 3.5” floppy disc as a storage medium. Whereas most other digital cameras in the mid-to-late 1990s either used built-in storage or more expensive (and sometimes proprietary) storage solutions, Sony opted to go for a solution that didn’t require most consumers to go out and purchase additional hardware.

Naturally, this solution made for a rather large, square-shaped camera. But, aside from its brick-like ergonomics [insert Sony ergonomics joke here], Gordon suggests the camera is fairly intuitive and straightforward due to its almost entirely auto nature (the only adjustable setting was exposure compensation +/- 1.5EV in .5EV increments). However, there are a few user experience quirks, such as the camera displaying only the numbers of images captured, not how many remain until your 1.4MB of storage is used up.

Below is a collection of sample photographs captured by Gordon with the Mavica FD5, used with his permission:

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At the heart of the FD5 was a CCD sensor that was carried over from Sony’s line of digital video cameras and offered a whopping .3MP (640 x 480 pixels) of resolution. Gordon notes the camera applies rather aggressive JPEG compression to the images in order to fit 20–40 60KB photographs onto a single 3.5” 1.4MP floppy disc. The fixed focal length lens on the FD5 is a 47mm equivalent with a slider on the front of the camera for activating a macro lens that popped in front of the main lens.

The FD5 uses Sony’s FP-530 batteries, which were rated for up to 500 shots per charge. However, reviewing images and keeping the rear LCD display on for extended periods of time dramatically cuts into that shot count.

As always, Gordon’s video coincides with a written Retro Review of the camera, which you can read over on CameraLabs. You can find more of his Retro Reviews on Gordon’s DinoBytes YouTube channel and find his other photography work on his camera review website, CameraLabs.

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