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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
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Resolution, aliasing and light loss - why we love Bryce Bayer's baby anyway
29 Mar 2017 at 3:00pm

It's unlikely Kodak's Bryce Bayer had any idea that, 40 years after patenting a 'Color Imaging Array' that his design would underpin nearly all contemporary photography and live in the pockets of countless millions of people around the world.

It seems so obvious, once someone else has thought of it, but capturing red, green and blue information as an interspersed, mosaic-style array was breakthrough.
Image: based on original by Colin M.L Burnett

The Bayer Color Filter Array is a genuinely brilliant piece of design: it's a highly effective way of capturing color information from silicon sensors that can't inherently distinguish color. Most importantly, it does a good job of achieving this color capture while still capturing a good level of spatial resolution.

However, it isn't entirely without its drawbacks: It doesn't capture nearly as much color resolution as a camera's pixel count seems to imply, it's especially prone to sampling artifacts and it throws away a lot of light. So how bad are these problems and why don't they stop us using it?

Resolution

There's a limit to how much resolution you can capture with any pixel-based sensor. Sampling theory dictates that a system can only perfectly reproduce signals at half the sampling frequency (a limit known as the Nyquist Frequency). If you think about trying to represent a single pixel-width black line, you need at least two pixels to be sure of representing it properly: one to capture the line and another to capture the not-line.

Just to make things more tricky, this assumes your pixels are aligned perfectly with the line. If they're slightly misaligned, you may get two grey pixels instead. This is taking into consideration by the Kell factor, which says that you'll actually only reliably capture resolution around 0.7x your Nyquist frequency.

A sensor capturing detail at every pixel can perfectly represent data at up to 1/2 of its sampling frequency, so 4000 vertical pixels can represent 2000 cycles (or 2000 line pairs as we'd tend to think of it). This is a fundamental rule of sampling theory.

But, of course, a Bayer sensor doesn't sample all the way to its maximum frequency because you're only sampling single colors at each pixel, then deriving the other color values from neighboring pixels. This lowers resolution (effectively slightly blurring the image).

So, with these two factors (the limitations of sampling and Bayer's lower sampling rate) in mind, how much resolution should you expect from a Bayer sensor? Since human vision is most sensitive to green information, it's the green part of a Bayer sensor that's used to provide most of the spatial resolution. Let's have a look at how it compares to sampling luminance information at every pixel.

Counter-intuitive though it may sound, the green channel captures just as much horizontal and vertical detail as the sensor capturing data at every pixel. Where it loses out is on the diagonals, which sample at 1/2 the frequency.

Looking at just the green component, you should see that a Bayer sensor can still capture the same horizontal and vertical green (and luminance) information as a sensor sampling every pixel. You lose something on the diagonals, but you still get a good level of detail capture. This is a key aspect of what makes Bayer so effective.*

Red and blue information is captured at much lower resolutions than green. However, human vision is more sensitive to luminance (brightness) information than chroma (color) information, which makes this trade-off visually acceptable in most circumstances.

It's a less good story when we look at the red and blue channels. Their sampling resolution is much lower than the luminance detail captured by the green channel. It's worth bearing in mind that human vision is much more sensitive to luminance resolution than it is to color information, so viewers are likely to be more tolerant of this shortcoming.

Aliasing

So what happens to everything above the Nyquist frequency? Well, unless you do something to stop it, your camera will try to capture this information, then present it in a way it can represent. A process called aliasing.

Think about photographing a diagonal black stripe with a low resolution camera. Even with a black and white camera, you risk the diagonal being represented as a series of stair steps: a low-frequency pattern that acts as an 'alias' for the real pattern.

The same thing happens with fine repeating patterns that are a higher frequency than your sensor can cope with: they appear as spurious aliases of the real pattern. These spurious patterns are known as moiré. This isn't unique to Bayer, though, it's a side-effect of trying to capture higher frequencies than your sampling can cope with. It will occur on all sensors that use a repeating pattern of pixels to capture a scene.

Source: XKCD

Sensors that use the Bayer pattern are especially prone to aliasing though, because the red and blue channels are being sampled at much lower frequencies than the full pixel count. This means there are two Nyquist frequencies (a green/luminance limit and a red/blue limit) and two types of aliasing you'll tend to encounter: errors in detail too fine for the sensor to correctly capture the pattern of and errors in (much less fine) detail that the camera can't correctly assess the color of.

'the Bayer pattern is especially prone to aliasing'

To reduce this first kind of error most cameras have, historically, included Optical Low Pass Filters, also known as Anti-Aliasing filters. These are filters mounted in front of the sensor that intentionally blur light across nearby pixels, so that the sensor doesn't ever 'see' the very high frequencies that it can't correctly render, and doesn't then misrepresent them as aliasing.**

The point at the center of the Siemens star is too fine for this monochrome camera to represent, so it's produced a spurious diamond-shaped 'alias'  at the center instead. This image second was shot with a very high resolution camera, blurred to remove high frequencies, then downsized to the same resolution as the first shot. It still can't accurately represent the star, but doesn't alias when failing.

These aren't so strong as to completely prevent all types of aliasing (very few people would be happy with a filter that blurred the resolution down to 1/4 of the pixel height: the Nyquist frequency of red and blue capture), instead they blur the light just enough to avoid harsh stair-stepping and reduce the severity of the false color on high-contrast edges.

With a Bayer filter, you get a fun color component to this aliasing. Not only has the camera tried to capture finer detail than its sensor can manage, you get to see the side-effect of the different resolutions the camera captures each color with. Again, if you compare this with a significantly over-sampled image, blurred then downsized, you don't see this problem. However, look closely you can still see traces of the false color that occurred at the much higher frequency this camera was shooting at.

This means that, a camera with an anti-aliasing filter, you shouldn't see as much false color in the high-contrast mono targets within our test scene, but it'll do nothing to prevent spurious (aliased) patterns in the color resolution targets.

Even with an anti-aliasing filter, you'll still get aliasing of color detail, because the maximum frequency of red or blue that can be captured is much lower. This image was shot at the same nominal resolution but with red, green and blue information captured for each output pixel: showing how the target could appear, with this many pixels. Light loss

At the silicon level, modern sensors are pretty amazing. Most of them operate at an efficiency (the proportion of light energy converted into electrons) around 50-80%. This means there's less than 1EV of performance improvement to be had in that respect, because you can't double the performance of something that's already over 50% effective. However, before the light can get to the sensor, the Bayer design throws away around 1EV of light, because each pixel has a filter in front of it, blocking out the colors it's not meant to be measuring.

'The Bayer design throws away
around 1EV of light'

This is why Leica's 'Monochrom' models, which don't include a color filter array, are around one stop more sensitive than their color-aware sister models. (And, since they can't produce false color at high-contrast edges, they don't include anti aliasing filters, either).

It's this light loss component that may eventually spell the end of the Bayer pattern as we know it. For all its advantages, Bayer's long term dominance is probably most at risk if it gets in the way of improved low-light performance. This is why several manufacturers are looking for alternatives to the Bayer pattern that allow more light through to the sensor. It's telling, though, that most of these attempts are essentially variations on the Bayer theme, rather than total reinventions.

The alternatives

These variations aren't the only alternatives to the Bayer design, of course.

Sigma's Foveon technology attempts to measure multiple colors at the same location, so promises higher color resolution, no light loss to a color filter array and less aliasing. But, while these sensors are capable of producing very high pixel-level sharpness, this currently comes at an even greater noise cost (which limits both dynamic range and low light performance), as well as struggling to compete with the color reproduction accuracy that can be achieved using well-tuned colored filters. More recent versions reduce the color resolution of two of their channels, sacrificing some of their color resolution advantage for improved noise performance.

'The worst form... except all those others that have been tried'

Meanwhile, Fujifilm has struck out on its own, with the X-Trans color filter pattern. This still uses red, green and blue filters but features a larger repeat unit: a pattern that repeats less frequently, to reduce the risk of it clashing with the frequency it's trying to capture. However, while the demosaicing of X-Trans by third-party software is improving, and the processing power needed to produce good-looking video looks like it's being resolved, there are still drawbacks to the design.

Ironically, devoting so much of the sensor to green/luminance capture appears to have the side-effect of reducing its ability to capture and represent foliage (perhaps because it lacks the red and blue information required to render the subtle tint of different greens).

Which leaves Bayer in a situation akin to Winston Churchill's take on Democracy as: 'the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.'

40 not out

As we've seen before, the sheer amount of effort being put into development and improvement of Bayer sensors and their demosaicing is helping them overcome the inherent disadvantages. Higher pixel counts keep pushing the level of color detail that can be resolved, despite the 1/2 green, 1/4 red, 1/4 blue capture ratio.

And, because the frequencies that risk aliasing relate to the sampling frequency, higher pixel count sensors are showing increasingly little aliasing. The likelihood of you encountering frequencies high enough to cause aliasing falls as your pixel count helps you resolve more and more detail.

Add to this the fact that lenses can't perfectly transmit all the detail that hits them, and you start to reach the point that the lens will effectively filter-out the very high frequencies that would otherwise induce aliasing. At present, we've seen filter-less full frame sensors of 36MP, APS-C sensors of 24MP and Four Thirds sensors of 16MP, all of which are sampling their lenses at over 200 pixels per mm, and these only produce significant moiré when paired with very sharp lenses shot wide-enough open that diffraction doesn't end up playing the anti-aliasing role.

So, despite the cost of light and of color resolution, and the risk of error, Bryce Bayer's design remains firmly at the heart of digital photography, more than 40 years after it was first patented.


Thanks are extended to DSPographer for sanity-checking an early draft and to Doug Kerr, whose posts helped inform the article, who inspired the diagrams and who was hugely supportive in getting the article to a publishable state.

* Unsurprisingly, some manufacturers have tried to take advantage of this increased diagonal resolution by effectively rotating the pattern by 45°: this isn't commonplace enough to derail this article with such trickery, so we?ll label them ?witchcraft? and carry on as we were.

** The more precocious among you may be wondering 'but wouldn't your AA filter need to attenuate different frequencies for the horizontal, vertical and diagonal axes?' Well, ideally, yes, but it's easier said than done and far beyond the scope of this article.


Just added: New product overview videos and getting started guides
29 Mar 2017 at 11:00am

Are you shopping for a new camera? Or just looking for some advice about how to use your current favorite model? We've been working on a series of product overview videos for a couple of years, and we've just added a new series of informational videos to our YouTube channel.

Called 'Getting Started Guides', these videos are intended to give you a quick breakdown of the key features of several recent releases, and some quick tips on how to get the most out of them. You can find all of our recent overview and getting started guide videos from the links below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to ensure you never miss a new video!

Watch our series of product overview videos

Watch our new 'Getting Started Guides'



Ming Thein joins Hasselblad as Chief of Strategy
28 Mar 2017 at 8:56pm

Hasselblad has announced that commercial photographer and blogger Ming Thein has been appointed its Chief of Strategy. Thein is known for his popular blog, and is no stranger to Hasselblad as a former ambassador for the company. In addition to his photography chops, Thein brings a degree in Physics from Oxford and years of experience working in finance and private equity firms to Hasselblad. Plus, we think he's got some good ideas about how cameras should function.

Hasselblad has been going through a transitional period lately ? the company never denied reports that DJI became a majority stakeholder, and recently announced the departure of CEO Perry Oosting. Certainly Oosting had a hand in modernizing the company's offerings and righting the ship after some unfortunate missteps. There's more work ahead, however, as the company works to meet demand for its X1D mirrorless camera.



Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 launches with selfie mirror and close-up lens attachment
28 Mar 2017 at 7:33pm

Fujifilm has announced the Instax Mini 9, a new instant camera that has launched in five colors: Lime Green, Flamingo Pink, Smoky White, Ice Blue, and Cobalt Blue. The Instax Mini 9 builds upon the company's Instax Mini 8, bringing with it a selfie mirror as well as a new close-up lens attachment enabling photographers to snap photos as close as 35cm / 14in.

Fujifilm says the 'popular' features from the previous model are rolled over into the Instax Mini 9, including auto exposure. The camera chooses the optimal brightness setting for any given snapshot, highlighting the chosen setting by illuminating one of four lights corresponding the following settings: Indoors, Cloudy, Sunny (overcast), and Sunny (bright). The user then manually switches the dial to that setting.

Other features include a 0.37x viewfinder with target spot, an automatic film feeding system, flash with an effective range from 0.6m to 2.7m, and support for two ordinary AA batteries. A pair of AA batteries can power the camera through approximately 10 Instax Mini film packs before needing replaced.

The Instax Mini 9 will launch in the U.S. and Canada next month for $69.95 USD and $99.99 CAD, and then in the U.K. in May for £77.99.



Sony World Photography Awards Open categories and National winners announced
28 Mar 2017 at 6:40pm
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The winners of the ten Open categories of the Sony World Photography Awards have been announced alongside National Award winners from 66 countries. The Open competition consists of ten themed categories so there are ten winners in total, each receiving a Sony a7 II kit, who will go on to compete for the overall prize of $5000 and a trip to the awards ceremony in London next month.

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Once the 105,000 entries to the Open section had been judged in their themed categories the total entry was re-judged according to nationality so the best images from each of 66 countries could be found. The names of the photographers in the best three from those countries have also been announced today. Winners from these awards will be displayed alongside the Open winners and the winners of the Professional categories at an exhibition to be held in London?s Somerset House from the 21st April to 7th May.

The winners of the Professional categories, and the overall winner of the Open section, will be revealed on April 20th at the awards ceremony. Martin Parr will be presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize at the event and will be exhibiting a collection of images in the main exhibition.

For more information and to see all the National Awards winners visit the Sony World Photography Awards website.

Press release

The world?s best single photographs revealed by 2017 Sony World Photography Awards  World?s largest photography competition announces winners of its Open categories and National Awards programme Open category winners competing to win trip to London and $5,000 (USD) cash prize

28th March, 2017: Ten extraordinary photographs from across the globe are today revealed as the winners of the Open categories of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards, the world?s largest photography competition.

The winners were selected from more than 105,000 entries to the Awards? Open competition, with the expert panel of judges looking for the best single photographs across ten categories.

The ten Open category winners are:
* Architecture - Tim Cornbill (UK)
* Culture - Jianguo Gong (China)
* Enhanced - Lise Johansson (Denmark)
* Motion - Camilo Diaz (Colombia)
* Nature - Hiroshi Tanita (Japan)
* Portraits - Alexander Vinogradov (Russia)
* Still Life - Sergey Dibtsev (Russia)
* Street Photography - Constantinos Sofikitis (Greece)
* Travel - Ralph Gräf (Germany)
* Wildlife - Alessandra Meniconzi (Switzerland)

Each of the ten winning photographs display huge photographic talent and creativity, from a stunning wildlife shot of flamingos in Walvis Bay, Namibia (Alessandra Meniconzi) to the ice blue and white of winter (Hiroshi Tanita) and a beautifully simple portrait (Alexander Vinogradov). Scale is used to stunning effect to capture more than 1300 people practicing Tai-Chi in China (Jianguo Gong) and architecture in Berlin (Tim Cornbill) while a crucial goal-scoring moment in an underwater rugby match is photographed by Camilo Diaz. A subtle palette of color is used in both the Enhanced (Lise Johansson) and Travel (Ralph Gräf) category winners while black and white photography is the choice for the Street Photography winner (Constantinos Sofikitis).

Each winning photographer receives a Sony ?7 II with lens kit and will now compete to win the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards? Open Photographer of the Year title, a trip to the winners' awards ceremony in London in April and $5,000 US dollars in cash prizes. The overall winner will be announced on the 20th April alongside the winners of the Professional competition (judged on a body of work).

Chair of the Open competition, journalist and photographer Damien Demolder, said of the winning Open images: ?It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to be exposed to such a volume of great work, and a privilege too that I could share in the personal moments, the joys, tears, life and losses of photographers from all around the globe who recorded their experiences through their pictures.?

National Awards
The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards National Awards, a global program to find the best single photographs taken by local photographers in 66 countries, were also announced today.

Now in its fourth year, the National Awards is unique in both scope and reach and opened up to photographers from Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates for the first time this year.

Winners and runners-ups across all 66 National Awards were announced today, and can be viewed here.

Exhibition
The winners of the Open categories and the National Awards will all be shown at the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr ? 2017 Exhibition at Somerset House, London which opens on the 21st April and runs until the 7th May.

The exhibition will include all the winning, shortlisted (top 10) and commended (top 50) photographs drawn from more than 227,000 entries from 183 countries to the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. It will also feature a special dedication to British photographer Martin Parr, recipient of the Awards? Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize.

Sony World Photography Awards
Produced by the World Photography Organisation, 2017 sees the 10th anniversary of the Sony World Photography Awards and a decade-long partnership with its headline sponsor, Sony. The Awards recognise and reward the very best contemporary photography captured over the last year, and incorporate four competitions - Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus. The overall winners of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards will be announced on the 20th April.

About World Photography Organisation
The World Photography Organisation is a global platform for photography initiatives. Working across up to 180 countries, our aim is to raise the level of conversation around photography by celebrating the best imagery and photographers on the planet. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships with both individual photographers and our industry-leading partners around the world. We host a year-round portfolio of events including: the Sony World Photography Awards (the world's largest photography competition, marking its 10th anniversary in 2017), various local meetups/talks throughout the year, and PHOTOFAIRS, International Art Fairs Dedicated to Photography, with destinations in Shanghai and San Francisco.

About Sony Corporation
Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, imaging, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, computer entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $72 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016. Sony Global Web Site: http://www.sony.net/



Samsung planning to sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7 units
28 Mar 2017 at 6:25pm

It's probably fair to say its Galaxy Note 7 flagship has been an absolute disaster for Samsung. After a number of devices caught fire Samsung eventually made the decision to discontinue the model and, after an internal investigation, announced that the fires had been caused by design and manufacturing errors on the Note 7 batteries. 

In a press release, the South Korean company has now laid out how it will recycle and dispose of the hundreds of thousands of Note 7 units that had already been produced and partly sold. According to the statement, 'devices shall be considered to be used as refurbished phones or rental phones where applicable.' This is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers and local demand, which probably means it's unlikely any refurbished units would make it to Europe or the US.

For remaining devices, reusable components, such as semiconductors and camera modules, 'shall be detached by companies specializing in such services and used for test sample production purposes.' For anything that is left after the first two steps, 'Samsung shall first extract precious metals, such as copper, nickel, gold and silver by utilizing eco-friendly companies specializing in such processes.'

Meanwhile, Samsung's new high-end phone, the Galaxy S8, is expected to be launched tomorrow at events in New York and London. Hopefully it'll have more success than its ill-fated cousin.



Canon EOS M6 sample gallery
28 Mar 2017 at 11:00am

The Canon EOS M6 shares plenty of features with the company's EOS M5 flagship mirrorless camera, including a 24MP APS-C sensor with Dual Pixel AF, a Digic 7 processor and a 3" touchscreen. It offers one more control dial compared to its M3 predecessor, but stops short of offering the M5's built-in EVF. With a loaner unit in hand we ventured out into the street to start putting it to use ? take a look at what it can do.

See our Canon EOS M6 sample gallery

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DPReview on TWiT: the Fujifilm GFX 50S
28 Mar 2017 at 9:00am

DPReview has partnered with the TWiT Network (named after its flagship show, This Week in Tech) to produce a regular segment for The New Screen Savers, a popular weekend show hosted by technology guru Leo Laporte.

On this week's episode of The New Screen Savers, DPReview editor Dan Bracaglia joins Leo and guest host, Georgia Dow of iMore.com, to talk about medium-format digital photography and the Fujifilm GFX 50S. Tune in to the entire episode to also learn about mesh Wi-Fi networks, an HP all-in-one computer with a curved 34-inch display, and a review of the 2nd gen Nvidia Shield TV.

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.



Researchers create method for photorealistic Prisma-style effects
28 Mar 2017 at 8:01am

Popular app Prisma applies painting styles to photographs using neural networks, turning a snapshot into an artwork in the style of 'The Scream,' for example. But what if you could transfer photorealistic effects from one photo to another? Researchers at Cornell and Adobe have successfully demonstrated a method that will translate a variety of styles from a reference photo to another image, including things like lighting, time of day and weather.

Input image on the left, reference style image in the center, output image on the right. It's not incredibly realistic-looking, but more realistic than your average Prisma treatment.

Images via Fujun Luan

This could open up a whole new world of possibilities for 'lazy' photo editing. Say you snapped a photo of a rock formation in the middle of the day, but you'd rather it had the orange glow of golden hour. With this method, you could apply the textures and colors of a reference style image, i.e. some other rock formation at sunset, to your own image.

This photo-style-transfer method augments the neural-style approach Prisma takes by constraining the colorspace of the transformation applied to the source image. Taking a content-aware approach and classifying features like sky and water in each image helps to avoid mismatched textures and distortions.

Advanced photographers would likely be wary of making such drastic edits to their photos. However, the technology might appeal to someone who wants to apply the effects of professional lighting to a badly lit photo of an interior, for example.

What do you think? Could this technology be useful to you? Let us know in the comments.



Panasonic likely to scale-back camera division, says Nikkei
27 Mar 2017 at 7:49pm

Panasonic is likely to significantly scale-back its camera business, according to a report by Japan's largest business newspaper. The Nikkei Asian Review says the move is one of the proposals of a report prepared by the company's business planning department.

Like all large electronics makers, Panasonic has found it hard to make profit in an industry with increasingly tight margins. The report puts forth ways to rationalize and reorganize its business units to focus on the company's areas of greatest strength.

The paper identifies three businesses: 'digital cameras, private branch exchange telephone systems and optical disk drives,' which, it says: 'will be dismantled. Each will be scaled back and placed under the umbrella of other operations, with headcount to be reduced.'

With the number of compact cameras being sold having fallen precipitously and the interchangeable lens camera market stagnant, the digital camera division is an obvious target for cuts as part of the company's restructuring.

The Nikkei also says that 'In the chip business, the company is weighing unloading shares in a joint venture with an Israeli enterprise,' presumably a reference to the TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor joint venture that builds CMOS sensors, among other things.

Panasonic's financial year ends on March 31st, so we'll be watching the announcement of its 2017/18 plans for signs of the report being implemented.


Update:

In response to the Nikkei story, Panasonic has put out the following statement:

'The recent article featured on the Nikkei regarding Panasonic?s Imaging business was not announced by Panasonic and refers to a change in our internal organizational structure.

Integrating all consumer electronics divisions, our consumer Digital Imaging business will move under Panasonic Appliances Company and is not being dismantled.

The aim of this change is to further deepen our relationships with customers, strengthen our product capabilities, and continue to firmly develop and promote our business.'

While the company says the division is not being dismantled, it's interesting to note that the statement does not contest the characterization that it will be scaled back. The statement also appears to confirm that some of the recommendations of the report are being implemented.



Gcam: the story behind the Google Pixel camera software
27 Mar 2017 at 6:52pm

Google's now independent X research division, which calls itself 'the moonshot factory,' has been publishing a collection of stories about the group's graduated projects and where they stand today. The latest article in the so-called Graduate Series offers a closer look at Gcam, the software behind the class-leading cameras in Google's Pixel devices. 

The blog post outlines how the Gcam team was set up back in 2011 to find a solution for the Google Glasses smart goggles' most pressing challenge: providing a high-quality camera in a very small device. As using bigger hardware wasn't an option, the Gcam team developed a method called image fusion, which uses multi-frame-stacking techniques to create a single, higher quality image with lower noise levels, better detail and increased dynamic range. 

The technology, which is now called HDR+, quickly grew beyond Google Glass and made it into the Nexus 5 and Nexus 6 cameras and eventually became the default camera mode in the Google Pixel series. The Gcam team now works across a range of imaging-related technologies, including Android, YouTube, Google Photos 360?Virtual Reality projects. If you are interested in more detail you can read the full blog entry on the X blog or find our full Google Pixel XL camera review here.



Wesaturate will soon offer free Raw photos for photographers to practice editing
27 Mar 2017 at 6:25pm

Students Gifton Okoronkwo and Kast Goudarzi have taken the wraps off a new website called Wesaturate, an online learning destination that will offer free Raw images for photographers to download. The intention for the website is to provide these images as learning tools, enabling anyone to practice Raw editing even if they don't have the time or gear to go out and shoot their own photos.

Wesaturate is tentatively scheduled for a full launch on April 17, though at the moment it is only accepting email addresses from those who want to be notified about the launch. A single image is currently offered on the site in both Raw and JPEG formats; it, and others uploaded later on, are offered with a Creative Commons Zero license. Once the site fully launches, users will be able to share their own photos with the Wesaturate community.

The duo also plans to operate a blog that will publish tricks and tips for beginners. Speaking to PetaPixel, Goudarzi explained, 'We?re really focusing on the photographer?s experience here and we want to make sure it?s all about them.'

Via: PetaPixel



Pentax KP Review
27 Mar 2017 at 3:00pm

The Pentax KP is a 24MP APS-C DSLR with styling and controls lifted largely from the full-frame K-1. Sold as a body only at a price of $1099, it includes standard Pentax features like full weather-sealing and in-body five-axis Shake Reduction, and includes all the interesting features enabled by the aforementioned system, including 'Pixel Shift Resolution'. It also offers interchangeable front grip system as part of its rather pretty design.

On the face of it, the Pentax KP is a confusing proposition. It launches at the same price as their APS-C flagship the K-3 II did over a year ago, while trading useful K3 features like GPS in favor of the extra control dial, swappable grips, and a built-in flash.

Key Features: 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor with max ISO of 819,200 27-point AF sensor with 25 central cross-type points 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor aids subject tracking and exposure PRIME IV Processor In-body 'SR II' 5-axis image stabilization 7 fps continuous shooting Interchangeable grips Improved 'Function Dial' from the K-1 Electronic shutter up to 1/24,000 sec through the viewfinder Wi-Fi communication

The surprisingly petite pentaprism-equipped camera borrows styling cues and controls from the full-frame K-1, and even shares some in common with Nikon's retro-reborn Df. JPEG image quality has received some massaging courtesy of the new PRIME IV processor, expanding the KP's high ISO capabilities all the way to the ludicrous value of 819,200.

  Pentax KP Pentax K-3 II Nikon D7200 Price $1099 (body only) $1099 (body only) $1199 (body only) Resolution 24MP 24MP 24MP ISO Auto, 100-819200 Auto, 100 - 51200 Auto, 100 - 25600 Image Stabilization Yes (in-body) Yes (in-body) In-lens only Focus Points 27 (25 cross-type) 27 (25 cross-type) 51 (15 cross-type) AF Point Selection Shared with direction pad Shared with direction pad Shared with direction pad Viewfinder Magnification 0.95x 0.95x 0.94x Continuous Drive 7 fps 8.3 fps 7 fps Battery Life 390 720 1110 GPS Optional Built-in Optional

When compared to the outgoing K-3 II and long-in-the-tooth D7200, we see that with some features like burst rate and battery life the KP is a step backwards. On the other hand, we see a better control layout, higher ISO capabilities, and the new SR II system. It omits GPS, and takes a hit in areas like battery life and burst rate. The addition of the K-1's Function Dial means the top plate LCD screen is lost from the K-3 II as well. 

These changes indicate that maybe the KP wasn't designed solely with outdoing the competition, or even the K-3 II, in mind. It certainly doesn't seem like an outright replacement, but instead a different lineup aimed at being a bit more portable for enthusiasts or casual shooters.

In some ways, the KP reminds us of the PEN-F: a combination of distinctive looks and improved image quality in a compact, premium body. While looks alone may not sell it for some, there are parts of the KP's design that are excellent, possibly even market leading. Let's take a closer look at what is right with the KP.



Ask the staff: Pick one focal length or lens to rule them all
27 Mar 2017 at 11:00am
Can you guess the focal length? Photo by Wenmei Hill

We handle a lot of glass in the DPReview office, but there always seems to be a handful of lenses or fixed lens cameras that everyone is extra eager to lay some paws on. Which got us thinking of a fun hypothetical: If we could only choose one lens to use for the rest of time, what would it be?

To keep things interesting, and to vary the answers, we opened the question up to include one lens in particular or one focal length. The photograph that accompanies each answer was shot with that staff member's chosen lens or focal length. We purposely didn't list the gear used. See if you can guess!

Carey Rose Any guesses what focal length Carey gravitates toward?

Before I worked at DPReview, I would have immediately chosen the 35mm focal length. Now that I?ve worked at DPReview for some time, I have to say? I haven?t really changed my mind.

Splurging on a battered old D700 after college left me without enough money to pick up anything approaching a fast zoom, so I started building up a collection of affordable Nikon AF-D primes: a 50mm F1.8, a 35mm F2, an 85mm F1.8. I quickly realized that I just wasn?t a zoom guy, and the 35mm F2 was glued to my camera most of the time. A used X100 was a natural next step for a more portable setup when I scored a good deal on one.

Even today, after using lens after lens and camera after camera for review after review, the 35mm focal length remains my go-to. It doesn?t matter whether I?m headed to shoot an event, a wedding, an environmental portrait, or just strolling around when some nice light hits, it?s more likely I?ll have a 35mm lens with me than any other.

Wenmei Hill Wenmei likes versatility. Did she choose a zoom or a prime?

I?m going to take the easy way out and pick a zoom lens rather than a single focal length. My choice is the Nikon AF-S 24-120mm F4G ED VR, and my excuse is that the majority of shooting I do (documentary lifestyle and candid portraiture) requires a flexibility that is difficult to get with a single focal length.

I?m choosing the 24-120mm even though it?s not one of my ?favorite? lenses because it is relatively small, lightweight and versatile enough to get the variety of shots I look for when photographing. I am able to immerse myself in a scene at 24mm but also step back for a portrait at 120mm, using the longer focal length to get pleasing bokeh and separation from the background.

Shooting it on a DX-format body gives me even more reach at the long end (180mm equivalent) for portraits. I already use this lens as my everyday lens when I don?t have a particular creative plan and want to be prepared for anything, so it?s the one I?d choose if I had to pick just one.

Dale Baskin Dale chose a specific focal length that he didn't always love. Can you guess what it is?

This will probably seem like I?m going for the low hanging fruit, but I would choose 35mm. I used to be a solid 50mm guy, and if I wanted to go a bit wider I switched to 28mm, skipping 35mm entirely. My shift to 35mm began in earnest when I started shooting Fujifilm?s X100 series of cameras, which have a 35mm equivalent lens.

Now, one could argue that I?m choosing 35mm because I really enjoy the camera to which it?s attached, but that?s not the case. In fact, when I first started shooting the X100 I enjoyed it despite the focal length. It was actually the one thing I didn?t care for about the camera. However, as I continued to use it, I learned to adjust my style to take advantage of the 35mm field of view. After a few months, I found myself really enjoying it, so I decided to do a little experiment: I was about to embark on a trip to Brazil and decided to shoot my entire adventure at 35mm. The idea was both exciting and scary; I knew from experience that I would be giving up some shots by not having the right lens. However, I like to travel light, and I hate carrying camera gear, so I threw down the gauntlet and accepted my own challenge.

The upshot? I had a great trip and captured a lot of memorable images. Did I miss a few shots along the way? Sure, I did. But on the flip side, I got some great photos I would have otherwise missed because I forced myself to visualize every scene at 35mm instead of mentally switching to a different focal length. Now, no matter what camera I happen to be testing, one of the first lenses I always put on the front is a 35mm (or equivalent).

Sam Spencer Sam chose a specialty lens. This image was shot using a similar lens, albeit with a different focal length. Do you know what it is?

Forever? Forever ever? I?m sure I could do the practical thing and say ?24-70?, or be a motorsports spectator the rest of my life and say ?70-200?, but I?m weirder than that. If it was a lens for me to shoot what makes me happy for the rest of my days, it?d be the Nikon PC-E 85mm F2.8 for product, portrait, and automotive photography. The maximum magnification of 1:2 means I can get close for product, and use the tilt to either get more of the product in focus, or isolate the focal point. I like medium telephoto lenses for the narrower field of view that makes selecting a background out of a busy environment much easier, and even F2.8 can be bright enough to blur the background at 85mm. I?m a control freak, not a speed demon, so I?ll be watching eBay for a copy?

Dan Bracaglia Dan's image was shot with the equivalent of his favorite focal length. The image was cropped in slightly, still any ideas what he chose?

The first and only lens I'd owned for many years was a 50mm. But as my interest in photography (and other activities) grew I found myself yearning for other lenses. If you'd asked me this question when I was 16 years old and shooting a lot of skateboarding, I probably would have said a fisheye is my favorite lens. If you'd asked me again when I was 18 or 19 years old and starting to get into photojournalism, I'd probably have said 24mm. If you'd ask me when I was 24-28 years-old, and reviewing cameras for a living, all why exploring the streets of NYC/Seattle, I most likely would have said 35mm. But these days, I've come full circle and 50mm is my focal length of choice if I could only shoot one lens for the rest of my life.

Sometimes overlooked or seen as pedestrian, there are plenty of reasons why a normal 50mm lens is number one in my heart and bag: For starters the nifty fifty is as practical as they come. Most manufacturers make a reasonably fast, yet inexpensive 50mm equiv. Moreover, I'd argue its the most versatile focal length of them all: in a pinch it can be used for portraiture or detail shots, in the same way a tele can. And it can also be used in some capacity as a wide-angle, if you have the room to move (I've shot many concerts with just a 50mm, without feeling a need for something wider). And if you get a reversal ring, you can mount a nifty fifty backward and use it for macro shooting!

For years I've carried a Nikon 50mm F1.8 in my bag as the ultimate backup for just about anything I'm shooting: weddings, concerts, portrait sessions, travel. It's light cheap and versatile. But these days, the lens spends as much time mounted on my camera as glass I own costing 6x as much.

Jeff Keller Jeff chose a workhorse zoom. Can you guess which one?

Since I?m always shooting with something work-related, I don?t get to use my EOS 5D III very often. But when I do, my daily driver is the Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS USM. Not the most exciting choice of lens, I admit, but for land- and cityscapes that I enjoy taking, it definitely fits the bill. The image stabilization works well, it focuses silently and the weatherproofing is helpful when you?re out at Snoqualmie Falls and it?s throwing mist. Naturally, not long after I bought the 24-105, the Mark II arrived, with new optics, better autofocus and new coatings to reduce lens flare and ghosting. The lens is larger and heavier than my Mark I model, which I consider a good size for its focal length and aperture.

It?s nice to see that Canon isn?t the only one offering a lens with this focal range. Sigma?s 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Art lens is even bigger and heavier than Canon?s Mark II version, but the build quality is excellent. And, according to DxO, it?s also a sharper lens. And did I mention that it?s a bit cheaper?

Thus, if I was stranded in a world with wonderful landscapes and cool architecture, the Sigma 24-105mm F4 Art would be permanently mounted on my 5D III.

Vladimir Bobov Vladimir is our newest DPR team member. He makes sure the site works properly. Any guesses what focal length he chose?

I wasn't sure whether to bother praising the 50mm focal length. I figured that it's so common, that talking about it would be either redundant at best or boring at worst. However, sorting my photo collection by focal length showed that I took more photos with a 50mm (on a 35mm full frame camera) than with any other lens, including the more versatile zooms.

So why pick the "normal" prime for the rest of my life? Versatility and portability. It's the perfect lens for candid portraits in a casual setting - fast enough to use in low light, and small enough to not intimidate the subject. Wide enough for full-body and group portraits, and good enough for head-and-shoulders (especially when paired with an APS-C camera). I've also been able to use it effectively for landscapes, close-ups, product, and food photography. So although I'd certainly miss the other focal lengths, with enough creativity and trickery, the 50 and I could live happily ever after.

Richard Butler Richard chose a favorite lens that doesn't yet exist. This image falls toward the tele-end of his made-up range. Can you guess what it is?

If I have to live within the constraints of reality, then I?d be tempted to say a 35mm just for its Goldilocks-like flexibility. But, it seems only fair that if I agree to be bound by an arbitrary restriction, I?m should get to relax the need to limit myself to lenses that actually exist. The problem is that I really like 35-40mm equivalent lenses but also love something around 90mm equiv. for portraiture and a lifetime seems like a long time to have to go without.

Equally, if I have a 24 or 28mm equivalent lens, I get back into the habit of ?seeing? wide-angle scenes and I?m sure there?s some aphorism about making one?s life spicy. This is why I?m pushing back against reality: the need for a 90mm equiv, rules out the use of a 24-70mm equiv and, over time, the limiting equivalent aperture of an 18-55mm F2.8 on APS-C would leave me frustrated. Sigma?s 18-35mm F1.8 is a work of genius that I wish were available on mirrorless systems, so I?m going to put my faith in the men and women of Aizu and trust that they?ll make me a 16-60mm F2 for APS-C mirrorless. I mean, how hard could it be?

Allison Johnson Allison chose a specific zoom lens, can you guess which one?

Maybe a truly bold person picks a prime to shoot with for the rest of their life, but I?m going to play it safe and pick a zoom, whatever that says about me. The Olympus 12-40mm F2.8 is not the very best lens I?ve ever shot with, but it?s fairly versatile, sturdy and relatively small. It?s the right size (along with the OM-D cameras I?ve used it with) so that it?s doable to carry around all day in my purse, and I like having a fairly wide 24mm equiv. out to 80mm for a little more reach when I want it.

Really, it?s not special in any way except that it?s a solid standard zoom for a system I like. I?ve had many happy days shooting with it, including one wonderful afternoon at a defunct nuclear power plant (seriously, it was awesome). If picking a zoom makes me basic, then so be it.

Barney Britton Any guesses what lens Barney chose?

If I was trying to impress you, and if I wasn?t such a died-in-the-wool contrarian, my choice for ?go-to? camera and lens would be a Nikon D810 and a 35mm lens ? something good, like the Nikon 35mm F1.4 or Sigma Art 35mm F1.4, or perhaps an old ?sleeper' favorite, like the Nikon AF-D 35mm F2, for the hipsters. If you were to ask me what focal length I use most, I?d say that probably around 90% of my photography could be achieved with a 35mm lens. If you were to ask some of my comment-thread critics on the other hand, they?d tell you that 90% of my photography could be achieved with an iPhone, or their 5-year old daughter, or their blind grandmother, or their blind grandmother?s 5 year-old iPhone, but that?s beside the point.

But I?m not trying to impress you. Which is why I?m going to cheat a little, and make a case for a zoom lens, and one that doesn?t get a lot of love in these parts ? the Nikon AF-S 24-120mm F4. The current version of Nikon?s ?street-sweeper? do-everything zoom, it?s true that the 24-120mm isn?t the sharpest lens in Nikon?s stable, or the best-controlled when it comes to distortion, or the toughest, and all the rest. It?s a kit zoom. A pretty good kit zoom, in my opinion, but still. So why ? if I had to choose only one lens ? would I pick the 24-120mm? Because it just works. I know that if I go out shooting with the D810 and 24-120mm, come rain or shine (or snow, or hail, or desert dust, or any of the other nasties I?ve thrown at it) I can capture pretty much anything I might want or need to. It?s almost boring. I wish I had more of an excuse to attach other lenses, but to be honest, most of the time I just don?t. I actually sold a bunch of my Nikon glass recently, because it wasn?t getting used.

The image above was taken just after a torrential downpour last December which turned into a hail storm. The camera and lens were - like me - soaked. Could I have taken it on something better? Maybe, but I wouldn?t have wanted to risk damaging a more expensive lens in those conditions. And would it be a better picture had I done so? Or a happier memory? No.

What would you choose?

If you could only shoot with one lens, or one focal length for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Feel free to share your answer in the comments! 



The Leica Summaron 28mm F5.6 is old-fashioned fun
26 Mar 2017 at 11:00am

The Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6 is a curious thing - a 'new' M-mount version of a pancake lens originally introduced in the mid 1950s. Manufactured in limited numbers between 1955-1963, the original Summaron would have been most commonly paired with Leica's screw-mount and (via adapters) M3 and M2 film rangefinders of the day. 

So is the Summaron a collectors item best left inside its presentation box, or is this something you might actually want to shoot with?

Leica Summaron-M 28mm F5.6: Key specifications Optical construction: 6 elements in 4 groups Aperture range: F5.6-22 (full-stop detents) Minimum focus: 3.3 feet (1m) Filter thread: 34mm Hood included 6-bit coded Eight aperture blades Weight: 165 g (0.36 lb)

The answer to that question is a bit complicated, and I must admit that I changed my mind a couple of times during the course of shooting for this article.

Initially, I must say I was rather skeptical. Leica lent me the Summaron ahead of a trip to Japan at the end of February, and I opted not to take it, borrowing a more practical 28mm F2.8 Elmarit instead. I enjoy vignetting as much as the next person, but I didn't like the idea of being limited to F5.6. The fact that the Summaron arrived in a satin-lined presentation box scared me a little, too. I'm painstakingly protective of loaner gear, but accidents do happen, and the thought of accidentally losing or scratching the tiny jewel-like lens worried me. So I took the Elmarit, and I don't regret it.

Back home though, with a few days left on the M10 loan agreement and a strong desire to get away from rain-drenched Seattle, I headed to the coast to see what the little Summaron could do. 

Handling

There's not much I can say about the Summaron's handling, because there's precious little lens to actually handle. As you can hopefully tell from the photographs in this article, it's very small indeed, which means that focus and aperture rings are small, too. The focus ring features a traditional infinity lock, by way of a sprung peg that must be depressed to move the lens from its ? position.

Whether or not you get on with this depends partly on what you're used to. Personally I find the infinity lock a bit annoying, more so on this lens than others I've used with a similar design, mostly because the whole thing is so tiny. With the hood attached and the camera to my eye, there is very little tactile differentiation between the infinity release peg and the hood tightening peg. A bigger issue is that when rotating the focus ring, the one tends to get in the way of the other.

The Summaron's aperture ring is unusual by modern standards in that it has detents only at every full stop setting, not 1/2 or 1/3. You can of course live dangerously and set intermediate positions if you want to. The M10, at least, will recognize 1/2 steps in aperture-priority mode, but be warned - in its 1/2 stop positions, the 8-bladed aperture is far from rounded - in fact it's literally star-shaped.

Like the focus ring, the aperture ring is slim, and a little hard to find by touch when the hood is attached.

Given that the hood also occludes a decent portion of the M10's 0.72X viewfinder, I stopped using it pretty quickly, except when it was very obviously going to be necessary. Flare isn't enough of a risk to require it most of the time, and ditching the hood makes the Summaron's aperture and focus rings easier to manipulate. 

Of course this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that when the lens is used at a small aperture and its corresponding hyperfocal focusing distance, there is very little need to actually adjust anything.



 
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