Tags Photography

Video: The history of photography in 5 minutes

History Of Photography

Thanks to the modern day smartphone, nearly everyone is a photographer these days. From Instagram and Facebook to Snapchat and Flickr, society today spends more time behind a camera lens and viewing photographs than at any other time in history. In fact, it's been estimated that more than 1/3 of all the photos ever taken over the last 189 years or so were taken within the last 2 or 3 years.

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Yoni Heisler

February 9th

Uncategorized

We’re Marvelling At These Incredible Pictures Of The Night Skies

Last week, we were blown away by a photograph from Mike Mezeul II depicting a storm over White Sands National Monument. We looked in a bit more on Mezeul’s portfolio and were amazed at what we saw.

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Andrew Liptak

February 7th

Uncategorized

Swinging an iPhone Around Your Head Produces Stunningly Unique Footage of a Ski Run

Drones and GoPros have been responsible for some of the most amazing footage of extreme sports over the past few years. But Nicolas Vuignier has come up with a brilliantly simple way to use his iPhone to capture some truly remarkable footage of him skiing down a snow-covered mountain.

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Andrew Liszewski

February 5th

Uncategorized

Swinging an iPhone Around Your Head Produces Stunningly Unique Footage of a Ski Run

Drones and GoPros have been responsible for some of the most amazing footage of extreme sports over the past few years. But Nicolas Vuignier has come up with a brilliantly simple way to use his iPhone to capture some truly remarkable footage of him skiing down a snow-covered mountain.

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Andrew Liszewski

February 5th

Uncategorized

RAW and JPG File Formats Are Very Different Indeed

You probably know that shooting in RAW is, for most photography buffs, better than using JPGs—but you might not know exactly why. This image should help.

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Jamie Condliffe

February 5th

Uncategorized

Opinion: Could the rumored twin-lens of the iPhone 7 Plus signify the start of a real divergence between the models?

dual-cameras

When Apple first made the move into larger-screen phones with the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, there was only tiny difference between them in terms of features: the larger-screened model included optical image stabilization while the smaller one didn’t. This was likely driven simply by the practicality of fitting the technology into the larger device rather than any real intention to differentiate the two devices feature-wise.

But the rumors suggest that the iPhone 7 Plus may offer a dual-camera system, offering optical zoom, while the smaller iPhone 7 won’t. A fresh report today suggests that a number of camera lens makers have sent dual-lens samples to Apple for testing with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Assuming the optical image stabilization also remains exclusive to the Plus, the combination of the two features means that – for the first time – some of those who might have opted for the smaller model now have reason to consider the larger one instead. Could this suggested second step by Apple indicate that it intends to increasingly differentiate the two flagship iPhone models as time goes on … ?

Let’s start by looking at the significance of the only present difference between the iPhone 6/6s and the iPhone 6/6s Plus.

Image stabilization is designed for use when shooting in low-light. When there’s not much light available, the iPhone has to leave the sensor switched on for longer, meaning that tiny hand movements as you take the photo can result in motion-blur – which makes the photo appear out of focus. Image stabilization aims to detect this movement and compensate for it.

Digital image stabilization – as used by the smaller iPhone – attempts to do the job in software. The iPhone 6 blends together a series of short exposures into a single image, each one sharper than a single long exposure. It’s a pretty effective technique, but there’s a limit to what can be achieved.

Optical image stabilization (OIS), as used in the iPhone 6/6s Plus, is far more effective. Here, the iPhone uses a gyroscope to move the camera array to compensate for hand movement. If your hand moves the camera up and right by a tenth of a millimeter during the exposure, the gyroscope moves the camera array down and left by the same amount. The two motions cancel out and you get a sharp image.

ois

The OIS system used by Apple means that it works for video as well as still photos.

There’s no doubt that OIS is a nice feature to have, and for a tiny minority of those particularly keen on iPhonography, it may have influenced their choice of model. But for most people, it’s far too small a differentiator to have them buy the larger iPhone 6 Plus when they find the smaller iPhone 6 a more convenient size.

twin-cameras

But a twin-lens camera is a bigger deal. I detailed some of the potential benefits of this in a look at Apple’s patent for this technology, so I won’t repeat all that here, but will concentrate on one of them and just mention the rest.

The key one is optical zoom. Although you can digitally zoom in on any iPhone, all you are actually doing is cropping out part of the image captured by the sensor. Imagine a grid of nine squares. If you zoom in to the centre square, you are simply throwing away 8/9ths of the image captured. Your zoomed-in image therefore has a lower resolution than a non-zoomed one.

With the optical zoom used on conventional cameras, you adjust the lens to fill the sensor with a tighter field of view. As you zoom in, the lens element moves further away from the sensor. A smaller portion of the scene hits the sensor, and you continue to get full resolution as you zoom in.

The lens on a cameraphone is far too thin to allow optical zoom. One solution would be to have two completely separate camera modules, one offering a standard field of view and the other say a 3x zoom. What Apple has patented is something rather cleverer than this (see the patent for details) but gives the same end result. Technically, it’s not a zoom lens – it’s one with two different fixed focal lengths – but the net result is you can choose between a standard and telephoto view while still getting full-resolution images.

Other potential benefits include the ability to shoot video and stills simultaneously, getting maximum resolution for both; shooting normal speed and slo-mo footage simultaneously; shooting a standard photo and zoomed-in video.

Our poll suggested that this is a big enough deal to influence purchase decisions. Almost half of you simply responded ‘take my money,’ while almost a quarter more considered it very exciting. If Apple does indeed implement the technology with the kind of features described in the patent (a big ‘if,’ of course), then it will be clearly differentiating the iPhone 7 Plus from the iPhone 7 by features as well as size.

future

And this may turn out to be only the start. Bugs aside, Apple rarely does anything by accident. If it establishes clear blue water between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus via features like these, it’s likely to continue that differentiation in future models.

Which leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, choice is good. Being able to choose the feature-set we want, and pay accordingly, is a positive thing. But for those of us who prefer the form-factor of the smaller iPhone, I’m less happy about the idea of being forced to choose between the phone size I want in my pocket and the features I’d like to use when removed from it.

If certain features are only available on the larger phone because physics, that’s fair enough. Apple is simply taking advantage of the greater space in the larger phone to fit in more technology. The dual-camera system – like OIS – may well fall into that category.

But if Apple instead chooses to differentiate the two models for marketing purposes, I think that will be a shame. Where physically possible, I’d like to have the choice of all the latest Apple tech in my preferred size of device.

What are your views? Would you be happy to see increasing differentiation between smaller and larger iPhone models? Or should Apple match the feature set except when this simply isn’t physically possible? Take our poll and share your views in the comments.

Bottom image: Zuma Press


Filed under: iOS Devices, Opinion Tagged: iPhone, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 plus, photography

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Ben Lovejoy

February 2nd

Apple

Mac

Zeiss Is Finally Making High-quality Lenses For Your iPhone

They say the best camera is the one you have with you, but sometimes the fixed lens on your smartphone can limit your creativity. So Zeiss, makers of some of the finest camera glass out there, is finally making high-quality external lenses for the iPhone 6s including a telephoto, a wide-angle, and a zoomable macro option.

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Andrew Liszewski

January 11th

Gadgets

Ocean Art Photography Winners Show the Alien Beauty of Life Underwater

Most of us have a vague, abstract concept of life beneath the sea. But a few men and women are dedicated to brining the secrets of the deep into the light of day. And as the 2015 Ocean Art photography contest shows, they’re doing a spectacular job of it.

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Maddie Stone

January 11th

Uncategorized

Savor the Ephemeral Beauty of These Frozen Soap Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is fun in the summer, but it gets really interesting when the mercury plummets in winter. When the temperature gets cold enough, bubbles will freeze faster than they can pop. You can watch freezing bubbles in action in a new video from Warsaw-based photographer Pablo Zaluska.

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Jennifer Ouellette

January 8th

Uncategorized

Apple patent application reveals exciting possibilities for twin-camera system rumored for iPhone 7

twin-camera

We heard a report in November that Apple was testing an iPhone 7 model with dual rear cameras, and a patent application published today not only confirms that Apple is indeed exploring the idea, but reveals some extremely exciting possibilities with such a setup.

The most basic of these, noted by Patently Apple, is effectively optical zoom. By fitting two separate camera modules behind the lens, and creating a single lens with both standard and telephoto sections, you’d be able to switch between two different focal lengths. For the first time, you’d be able to take a zoomed-in photo without cropping away pixels to end up with a lower-resolution image.

But the possible applications described in the patent go way beyond this …

The patent also describes several different ways in which the device could simultaneously use both camera modules. For example, one could shoot still photos while the other shoots video. Although it’s been possible to take still photos while shooting video since the iPhone 5, the stills are captured at a lower than normal resolution. With twin camera modules, you could get the maximum resolution for both.

The patent gives a specific example of this which suggests that Apple’s iMovie software could automatically blend the video and stills.

[Imagine] capturing a child extinguishing candles on a birthday cake […] In some embodiments, second camera module 3084 can be used as a telephoto camera module to zoom in on the face of the child as she is about to blow out the candles and first camera module 3082 can capture a burst of high resolution still images of her smiling face. In some embodiments, first camera module 3082 is simultaneously capturing standard 1080p 30 frames per second video of the entire group of kids gathered and singing around the cake […] As the two camera modules are synchronized in time, the still images can easily be automatically inserted at the right time in a final video stream.

Apple also describes simultaneously shooting standard speed and slo-mo video, again with the two being automatically combined in the final output. It even suggests that a single piece of filming could generate a combination of 4K video, 1080p video, slo-mo video and stills – and that these could be easily combined in editing afterwards.

The patent application gives the example of a ball game, where you might use standard video for a view of the entire play, while also capturing zoomed-in slo-mo footage of the batter striking the ball. It’s not hard to imagine iPhones owners being able to create some kick-ass videos with these kinds of techniques!

Picture-in-picture would also be possible, perhaps including 1080p zoomed-in video within a 4K video.

Some embodiments generate a synthetic result image at least in part from data of the first image and data of the second image. In some embodiments, the synthetic intermediate image has is generated by enhancing the first image using data from the second image. Some embodiments display the first image and the second image in a shared screen interface.

The dense language of the patent makes it difficult to determine all the possible applications, but some of it describes moving the lens and/or camera sensor. While Apple has so far used this approach for optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 Plus, it may also be possible that it is working on a method of allowing users to change the focal point of a photo after it has been taken, by using combined shots from the two sensors. Apple last year acquired LinX, a company specialising in multi-lens mobile camera systems.

We of course have to insert our usual disclaimer that Apple patents way, way more things than ever make it into finished products – but there’s no doubt that this type of tech raises some incredibly exciting possibilities. Given the emphasis Apple has given to the camera in various generations of iPhone, I’d love to think that Apple is giving serious consideration to including this type of functionality into a future iPhone.

How excited would you be to see this type of tech make it into a future iPhone? Take our poll, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.


Filed under: iOS Devices Tagged: Apple Inc, Camera, dual camera, Dual cameras, iPhone, iPhone 7, iphoneography, Patent, photography, twin camera, twin cameras, video

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Ben Lovejoy

January 7th

Apple

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