Tag Archives: photography

Nokia Quietly Releases “Refocus” Website – Lytro style focusing coming to Lumia Smartphones?

nokia refocus demo picDetails on this are pretty slim, but it could be an exciting development for mobile photography (pun intended).

For those who don’t know what Lytro is, it’s a special camera which takes photos that allow the photographer to select the focus point AFTER the image has been shot. Take a picture of a scene, and pick what to focus on later. It’s a really sci-fi approach to shooting stills.

It looks like Nokia might be replicating that functionality in a future app update on Lumia Smartphones. Dubbed “Refocus”, it provides similar focus-after-the-fact features, or the ability to make everything in focus. As I’m used to shooting on an SLR, there’s something a little mind blowing about having your entire frame in focus.

Nokia quietly released a website to show off some test pics. As this doesn’t rely on any specialty hardware, it could become a popular feature moving forward, especially when paired with the excellent image sensors built into the Lumia 1520 and 1020. Rumors point to this feature being included on Nokia’s up coming phablet, then filtering into a select number of older phones later through software updates.

Play with this photo below to see how Refocus will work, or hit the link under it to check out Nokia’s site.

Nokia Refocus

Sony Unleashes Details on A7 & A7R Mirrorless Full Frame Cameras – What that means, and why it’s cool!

A7Damn Sony.

So this could shake up the semi-pro and pro photo markets a little. Sony took the wraps off of their two newest mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and they’re sporting some incredible image sensors. Specifically these are the first mirrorless cams to sport full frame image sensors. The A7 has a 24.3 megapixel sensor, and the A7R has a shocking 36 megapixel sensor which is likely a close cousin to the sensor found in Nikon’s D80o Digital SLR.

This is all neat and techie sounding, but why is this impressive? Normally bigger numbers like this are taken with a bit of skepticism. Like when your phone has a ton of megapickles in its camera, we make a squinty face and then explain why that might not mean better photos. Moving into this new breed of interchangeable lens cameras, Sony’s making a couple of exciting plays.

It’s not the megapickles, it’s the sensor size.

Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svgThis more than anything else is what gets us wannabe photogs lit up. The larger the sensor, the more surface area you have. This means the sensor has an easier time soaking up light, it’s just a bigger sponge. The A7 and A7R sensors are twice the size of most entry and mid-range SLR’s like my Canon 7D. It’s almost three times bigger than the sensor found in most mirrorless cameras like those made by Olympus and Panasonic.

This makes high resolution more attractive. Look at that chart to the right. That smallest box is what often comes on entry level point and shoot cameras, and it’s a little bigger than the sensor found on most nice phone cameras. Packing 16 MILLION dots on that square is a far more cramped experience than placing 36 million pixels on a full frame sensor. That same comparison holds true, though is less severe obviously, when comparing these new Sony’s to other interchangeable lens cameras which might use Micro 4/3rds or APS-C sensors. Each of those pixels can be larger, and each has an easier time soaking up more light, which results in better detail and less noise.

Larger sensor = Wider field of view

Sony-A7The other aspect of smaller sensor cameras to consider is crop. All lenses being equal, the smaller the sensor, the less of the lens is used. We call this crop. It’s not like digital crop where you remove pixels from the borders to “zoom” into the middle, with sensor crop the camera is only able to use the middle of the lens instead of all the glass. This starts to resemble zoom to a degree, and it really taxes the clarity found at the center of the lens.

Crop_FactorPhotography gear is all built around the original 35mm frames we shot on film, so if you have a crop camera, your frame will be different than it is on a full frame sensor. My Canon 7D sensor is half the size of a 35mm frame, so all of my adjustments are roughly 1.5X. This is good for reach as it gives my zoom a little bit of a bump, but it’s awful for wide angle photography. A 24mm lens on a full frame camera is decently wide, on a crop sensor it starts to resemble a 36mm lens which is a bit more “normal”. A 50mm lens very closely resembles the field of view we humans have on full frame cameras, on APS-C that 50mm starts to look a bit more like an 80mm zoom.

The A7 and A7R employing full frame sensors will mean you won’t have to do that mental mathematic trick of understanding how wide or how zoomed in you might be.

Slim and Sexy + Market Disrupting Price

Sony-A7-sideLastly, these cameras represent a “legitimizing” influence over the semi-pro and pro markets for smaller and compact interchangeable lens systems. SLR’s have their name because a mirror in the camera is responsible for feeding light from the lens into your eye piece. Hit the shutter button and that mirror flips up exposing the sensor, and light from the lens now generates an image on the digital guts of your camera. This has been the way photogs work since the film days, and it’s generally accepted as the “professional” way a camera should work.

Experimenting with slimmer camera bodies has meant doing away with the mirror box, and instead permanently operating the camera in a “live view” mode, where light from the lens hits the image sensor directly, and then an electronic screen shows you what the lens sees. With cameras which can swap lenses, this is often relegated as “entry-level” or “consumer” grade photography, especially as previous solution incorporated smaller crop sensors.

Now Sony is offering up their top of the line sensors in smaller and compact camera bodies. Not only that, but we’re seeing pricing aimed at shaking up the full frame market. The A7R will retail for $2300, a decent chunk of change for sure, but it uses a very similar sensor to the one found in the Nikon D800 which has a street price of $2800. Canon’s 5D mark III uses a 22MP sensor and has a street price of $3100 against Sony’s A7 which should perform similarly at the sensor level and only costs $1700 MSRP.

The rest is just gravy…

a7_4Hardware controls, highspeed 60fps video in full HD, WiFi, NFC. That’s all just great, and are often features you’d have to pay more for with SLR’s, or add via accessories. They’re creating a formidable package.

Of course there will be pros and cons still to using mirrorless cameras, and pros will probably still gravitate towards optical viewfinders over electronic screens for the near future, but Sony has fired a clear shot at this market. Just like Mac vs PC, the photography market is largely divided between Canon vs Nikon, so it’s really exciting when a third player does anything to shake that duopoly up.

Full details, press release, and camera specs after the jump.

Continue reading Sony Unleashes Details on A7 & A7R Mirrorless Full Frame Cameras – What that means, and why it’s cool!

Digital Bolex serves up more sample footage from the D16

digital bolex d16The D16 is a throw back to the classic days of amazing 16mm film cameras. Hand cranks and pistol grips ruled the day, and many film makers got their start with these interchangeable lens systems. The Digital Bolex is a modern re-imagining of that classic camera utilizing a 2K digital sensor and the ability to shoot raw video. Designed to use any number of semi-pro and professional lenses and accessories, the D16 was a Kickstarter funded project, and now we’re just waiting for it to hit the market proper to play with.

Well, while we wait, the Digital Bolex folks like to tease us, and they’ve just released another round of test footage from their prototype after a recent calibration. It’s looking pretty good…

Pro Photo Tip: Get Closer Macro Photos Using Extension Tubes on Your SLR!

macro close up photography kenko extension tubes somegadgetguy ask juan tips tricks help how toI’ll be covering more semi-pro photography and audio gear on this channel in the coming months. To start, I wanted to jump in with one of my favorite hobbies. Macro photography! I like taking pics of thinks super close up, but I haven’t yet been able to afford a proper macro lens. Extension tubes are a solution which have helped improve the quality of my shots, so let’s go hands on with a set!

Kenko Extension tubes on Amazon.

Ask Juan: How useful are 41MP pics from the Lumia 1020 when uploading to Facebook, Instagram, etc?

nokia lumia 1020 pureview camera test video samples somegadgetguyA wonderful question from one of my YouTube viewers, Will F.

“What are your thoughts about the images with respect to sharing? At sharing size (Facebook, etc), only so much detail is really visible. It seems like the 1020 would be overkill in these situations, especially since you have to do a little extra work to get the full size images off of the phone. My only real gripe about this phone is the slow shot-to-shot time.”

Let’s take a look at some pics from the 1020, and see if we can address Will’s concerns about the camera!

Click here for high definition video samples from the Lumia 1020!

Video samples from the Nokia Lumia 1020 – The best camera on a phone today.

nokia lumia 1020 pureview camera test video samples somegadgetguyNo joke. Nokia nailed it.

The Lumia 1020’s monster 41 megapixel PureView sensor is an absolute beast. Even when the output is scaled down to 1080p video, you just wont find a phone camera as capable of delivering the kinds of photographic output you’ll receive from this Lumia. Plus it has the first digital zoom which is actually worth using! It’s a whole new tier above what we would normally consider “premier” smartphone optics.

Yet with all of the accolades I can throw at this phone, no camera is perfect. Let’s go hands on with some video samples!

Watch my first impressions of the Lumia 1020.

American Society of Media Photographers warns of Facebook’s new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

facebook camera iconWe keep dancing around this issue. Facebook needs to monetize somehow, and one avenue to explore is using the media being uploaded to Facebook and pairing it with advertisers. As of September 5th, Facebook’s new ToS has added the following passage:

You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture,content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us, subject to the limits you place. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.

The strike-through is language being cut from the new ToS.

Which looks pretty damning. See those ads on the right hand side of the screen? See those sponsored posts? If you’ve got photos uploaded to Facebook, they can attach those pics to ads. You receive zero compensation for this ad enhancement. Regardless if Facebook actively pursues this kind of monetization or not, the fact that these ToS changes are always snuck in under our radars just makes the whole affair feel slimy and invasive.

And the bummer is FB is missing out on an opportunity to go semi-pro. If they were upfront with their users, and even offered some kind of partner or affiliate program, they’d probably have scores of people sign up. Facebook could single-handedly shut down all other stock photo and video sites on the web with the amount of photo and video traffic they receive.

Instead, now they look greedy and sneaky. A bad combo for the internet.

The ASMP site has an FAQ you can read if you’re concerned about Facebook’s new policy.