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Available for both Android and iOS, the Flickr app has been given a totally new look and some new features
Flickr for mobile has just undergone a massive change in look and feel, updating an app that hasn't seen any refreshing in nearly six months with a radically new design. Now out on both iOS and Android, the new Flickr app also brings a raft of new features.
The most noterworthy of those features is the ability to capture and edit videos—as well as apply the same live filters as exist for still images. Flickr has also radically overhauled its search features for far better response times, as well as enabled a tagging system that can autodetect objects, colors, and scenes. Both of these are fueled by recent acquisitions that Flickr made. And, if you're viewing a photo on the app, you can now access the full EXIF data, too.
The app launched yesterday morning for Android, then landed on iOS later in the day. At this point, it should be available for all comers—so if you've tried the new app, tell us what you think in the comments.
Auto-upload your photos to a private cloud service, then access them anywhere, from any device
For years, Eyefi (née Eye-Fi) has offered wirelessly-enabled SD cards, letting you beam photos from just about any camera to a smartphone, tablet, or PC. Now, the company has gone one step further, taking the internet connection on your mobile device, and using it as a bridge to upload your photos to the internet, too. Dubbed Eyefi Cloud, it means that any photo, taken on any device (with an appropriate Eyefi card) will instantly be shared to the Eyefi Cloud, where it can be viewed on any other device.
The new service requires an Eyefi Mobi card, and will cost $49 a year for unlimited photos. New and existing users will get a three month free trial starting on sign-up or download of the new app, respectively. Photos and albums are published privately, but can be shared with individual recipients, or on most major social networks.
If you're curious about how the service actually works, PCWorld has a good first impressions look at getting it set up—including some notable hiccups with Android devices.
By calculating depth from a series of photos, the new version of Google Camera can simulate bokeh
Google has just rolled out a new version of its Google Camera app to Google Play—and with the new version comes the ability to blur out backgrounds. But unlike, say, the crude fuzziness of Instagram, Google Camera actually takes a much more advanced path to figuring out where and how much to blur—it generates a depth map based from a series of pictures to correctly identify the foreground and background.
Lens Blur replaces the need for a large optical system with algorithms that simulate a larger lens and aperture. Instead of capturing a single photo, you move the camera in an upward sweep to capture a whole series of frames. From these photos, Lens Blur uses computer vision algorithms to create a 3D model of the world, estimating the depth (distance) to every point in the scene.
The blogpost goes into some more technical details about how the process works, if you're interested. By the key takeaway is that rather than just blur everything, the app attempts to accurately gauge the distance to the various parts of the image, then calculate an appropriate level of blurring to properly simulate a large sensor camera.
While it's probably not going to be on-par with using a DSLR, it's still a very impressive technological advancement. The own downside? It's only available for those using Android 4.4 or better.
In the early 90s, NASA was already sending nascent digital imaging technology into space
In the early days of the 90s, most people had never even heard of a digital camera, let alone used one. But the folks at NASA were already sending some of the early CCD cameras into space, allowing them to use photography in totally new ways.
On YouTube, Ron Volmershausen has uploaded two videos of these early digital units, one of a Kodak HAWKEYE II digital back on a Nikon F3, the other the NASA H.E.R.C.U.L.E.S. module on a Nikon F4.
The Hawkeye II unit is particularly intriguing, and represents one of the first iterations of the digital back, from a time before single unit digital cameras were really a thing. You can read more about it at this page by James McGarvey. According to another article by McGarvey, the Hawkeye unit is from 1989, and is actually a predecessor to the famous DCS 100. The Hawkeye unit could run ISO 50-400, with 2fps, and was later further developed into the DCS. You can read more about that here, here, here, or here.
You can actually still find DCS 100s up for sale on occasion, and while the $15,000 pricetag may sound extreme, that's actually less than it originally went for when it debuted.
No more dimly-lit smartphone shots for one South African Restaurant.
Try mentioning Instagram around someone who doesn't like the service and you'll invariably hear, "Why would I want to look at pictures of people's lunch? [smug laughter]" Now, there's even more fuel for that sarcasm fire with the introduction of the #Dinnercam.
The mini-studio setup looks like something you'd use for standard portrait photography. It has a sloped white backdrop (a mini cyclorama, if you will) and an overhead, color-balanced light to illuminate the dish. It has instructions printed on the front of the unit for taking the perfect smartphone picture of the photos. Once you've shared your photo, you even get a free print.
Right now, the #Dinnercam is only operating in a restaurant in South Africa, but it's actually a bit surprising we haven't seen something like this already.
The whole thing is obviously done with tongue placed at least a little bit in cheek, but the photos that come out of it aren't half bad. Here's an example
The fact of the matter is that many restaurants love the publicity they get from social media sharing, but crummy pictures can leave a bad impression. Some restaurants have even banned it. But, it's not surprising at all to hear that restaurants are taking steps to make their food look a little better out on the web.
There are currently just over 100 photos on Instagram tagged with the #dinnercam hashtag. We'll see how much that grows.
From: Food Republic
Start them young and they'll have photography for the rest of their lives
Photo: Stan Horaczek
Sometimes it seems like kids today are born snapping photos. But if you want to help them explore photography beyond just selfies and Instagrams, it takes more than lending them your iPhone. So here are some great ways to share your passion with the young ones in your life, and maybe learn something about your own photography along the way.
1 Take your time
Don’t feel like you need to jam everything about photography into your first session with a kid. The educators we spoke with emphasized communicating bite-sized ideas that children can play with before introducing more complex concepts. Photography has a lot of technical detail that can smother a child’s enthusiasm and creativity if deployed all at once. Choose a single thing to try to communicate on a single day, and allow the knowledge to build over time. If the first day is fun, they’ll be game for a second. Niki Even, program director of San Diego’s Outside The Lens, says the goal early on is just to “get them out of selfie mode and help them start thinking like photographers.”
2. Start with the familiar
All of the educators we spoke with suggested starting with subjects with which children are intimately familiar—such as their families and their immediate environment. The two offer different challenges: One can be used as a portal into portraiture, the other will help kids find new and unexpected ways to see their bedroom, their house, or their street.
Photo: Stan Horaczek
3. Expose them to exposure
After you have a few sessions under your belt, gradually introduce the concepts of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Be sure to cover each one independently. Come up with ways to clearly demonstrate the way each one works and how it might be used, playing around with motion blur, over- and underexposing frames, and more. Digital cameras are a blessing for this, letting you quickly tweak settings to opposite extremes and display the results directly on the back of the camera.
4. Write it out
Challenging children to write or tell stories about the photos they take is a key way to broaden their understanding of the work they’ve made, and to help them think about what they might like to make in the future. All of the educational programs we looked into include writing as a part of each child’s final presentations. When confronted with a blank piece of paper, it can be difficult for children to write about their feelings, but focusing their thoughts using an image that’s important to them can help give them access to emotions that might otherwise have remained hidden.
5. Put down the camera.
It’s easy for the device itself to be distracting, especially for younger kids. Seeing results moments after you shoot something can create an overly speedy mindset. Lacy Austin, International Center of Photography’s director of community programs in New York City, suggests having beginner students make cardboard frames and take them out into the world. “It’s a very engaging way to get the kids thinking about framing and thinking about what’s in the foreground or background,” she says. Composing without the distraction of actually capturing an image isolates this intellectual challenge, giving you a chance to introduce concepts like changing perspective, filling the frame, and the rule of thirds—without the distraction of immediate results.
Photo: Stan Horaczek
6. Give them a project.
How do you turn a kid who takes pictures into a photographer? Help the child create a small body of work. Most kids are used to taking photos when something (either extraordinary or mundane) happens to them. Turn that around and make the kid happen to the world. Help your charges come up with ideas for a photo series and brainstorm interesting ways to accomplish it. Making multiple photos as part of a single project will do a lot to focus children’s efforts.
7. Make an edit.
In this world of throwaway shots and unlimited exposures, the art of editing has never been more important. Emphasize that each of your photographic outings may yield only one or two excellent photos. When reviewing the day’s work, get them to talk about what they do or don’t like about individual shots, and encourage kids to be decisive and share reasons that back up their preferences. This is also a great time to reinforce concepts of framing and exposure, as well as to start helping them formulate ideas about storytelling and grouping shots for photo essays.
8. Teach them with film
Nothing makes kids slow down like knowing they only have 24 frames to work with. “The kids who do analog before going on to digital tend to be better shooters,” says Trina Gadsden, executive director of Seattle-based Youth In Focus. “Working with just the few frames they have makes them think of their work as a finite resource.” ICP Teen Academy’s Photo 1 course, the prerequisite for all their other classes, focuses on analog black-and-white photography. “They really respond to film,” says Bayeté Ross Smith, one of ICP’s instructors. “It has a different value because they’re putting so much more time into it. And then they have this physical object that shows what they did.”
Photo: Fotolia.com/Max Topchil
9. Don’t be afraid of the darkroom
If you can rig up a home darkroom, it’s like giving a kid superpowers—the impact on his or her understanding and connection to the medium will be immeasurable. “The first time you see an image come out of a white piece of paper, it’s magical,” says Gadsden. “You feel like you can solve world peace.” Plus, a darkroom day is a great alternative on rainy days. If your space won’t allow it, you can teach the basic principles of analog photography using a Sunprint kit.
10. Keep things light
When frustration (for either you or the child you’re working with) sets in, it’s time to take a break. The golden hour will happen when the sun sets tomorrow, too. Don’t worry about moving quickly—allow children’s photographic fascination to grow organically and it will be a pleasure to them the rest of their lives.
Why just light the car, when you can light the ice itself?
Russian photographers Dmitriy Christoprudov and Nikolay Kykov decided to take a very different tact with a recent photoshoot of the Chevy Cruze. To light the car for the photograph, they took it on the yard thick ice of Baikal lake—but drilled a hole in the lake to light the ice itself from below.
As you could probably guess, a plan as amibitious as this wasn't quite as straightforward as you might hope. The photographers detailed the process in Russian on their livejournal, and it was translated on English Russia. The initial attempts to drill a hole using a borer weren't large enough, so the photographers had to flag down passing fisherman, and pay them to widen the hole. Then, the crampons everyone was wearing had carved up the ice so much, it took another hour to it cleaned and ready to shoot.
To be fair, the final images seem a bit underwhelming considering how cool the idea is and how much work they put into it—but that's a fault in execution, not a fault in concept. The lighting itself is fantastic, and creates a look unlike almost anything else we've seen. The glowing cracks through the ice look utterly unreal, and immensely impressive.
The X100 and X100s get some more reach, while the X-T1 gets gets grips and straps
Photographers will soon have a new set of accessories for two of the most popular Fujifilm cameras around. The X100 and X100s will both get a bit of extra focal length thanks to a tele-converter lens, and the X-T1 gets a bevy of accessories to make shooting a bit more comfortable. While we don't know prices yet for anything, they're all expected to be available in May.
First up is the TCL-X100, a 1.4x teleconverter for the Fujifilm X100 and Fujifilm X100s. It converts the fixed-lens focal length from 35mm to 50mm (full-frame equivalent). When it comes to stores next month, it will also require the newest Fujifilm firmware to function properly.
For Fujifilm's much praised X-T1, there's a lot more up for grabs. The accessories include two new grips, the MHG-XT Small and Large. You can see both below, where the large adds a substantial grip to the X-T1's body, and the small seems to just extend it down a little bit. Both grips feature unfettered access to the battery port, as well as a built-in dovetail mount. Also announced are an extended eyecup for more comfortable use, and better light isolation; a grip strap for one handed operation; and replacement port covers in case you loose yours.
A compact hexagonal softbox that's built for shooting on location
A small soft box can be an extremely handy tool for an on-location light kit and Flashpoint made the Hexapop as easy as possible to set up and tear down.
What is it?
As the name suggests, the Hexapop has six edges giving it a hexagonal lighting surface. It's available in 20- and 24-inch models. For this test, I was using the 24-inch model. The rods that support the box are attached to both the fabric and the mounting ring, so it sets up much quicker than traditional soft boxes that need to be assembled. It's almost like setting up an umbrella. Here's a quick demo of how it works.
Once the rods are in place, you mount the flash onto the box using a cold shoe with two prongs, to which the modifier attaches. Having several pieces for mounting isn't ideal, since losing one puts you out of commission, but the included carry bag keeps everything together.
When assembled, the whole things feels pretty sturdy, if a little wobbly, but I had no problem giving it to an assistant to hold on a stand well above her head without an issue. I would use a sandbag to make sure your stand doesn't tip over, though, because I can see a fall causing a lot of damage to both the box and your flash. The flash sits outside of the enclosure, so it won't protect your light from the elements.
This is the final shot from the setup used above. The box didn't turn on the stand like some umbrellas do.
Unlike some of its higher-end competition, the Hexapop only has a single diffuser panel at the front of the box. Since the flash points straight through to the diffuser from behind the box, I found the light pattern to have a pretty notceable hot spot in the center when using it up close. I shoot a lot with shoot-through umbrellas so it's not something I'm unfamiliar with, but if you're doing a lot of close-up head shots or need even lighting, it might cause you some problems.
You can see the hot spot hitting right above her right eyebrow where things get a bit harsh.
Because the flash shoots directly through the Hexapop, you don't lose very much light in transition. Compared to something like the Westcott Apollos, into which the flash actually fires backwards, you get a lot more efficiency.
A shot against a blank grey wall clearly shows the hot spot where the flash head shines directly through
• It's light, and the included bag makes it very easy to carry around.
• Setting it up takes literally seconds and the rods and ring feel well-made.
• The 20-24-inch sizes are great for people who typically use umbrellas but want something a little more directional.
• The $169 price point puts it in the middle between the value brands and the more expensive models.
What's not so good?
• Multiple pieces needed for mounting make the mounting system seem a little awkward, but offers more adjustability.
• No interior baffle gives the light pattern a hot spot in the center of the 110-degree field of coverage.
• One-piece design makes set-up easier, but it doesn't pack flat like assembled soft boxes.
As you back up, the light is more directional than a shoot-through umbrella.
Should you buy it?
If you're going to be doing a lot of tight head shots and need extremely even light, you'll likely benefit from stepping up to something with a secondary diffuser to even the light out a little bit and avoid hot spots.
But, if you're looking for a catch-all soft box that you can set up in a hurry on location, this seems like a fine option. There are other cheaper options out there, but in my experience, they definitely feel cheaper.
14 years compressed down into what feels like nothing
Frans Hofmeester is a Dutch filmmaker who has been capturing the life of his children since their birth. Every week, he's recorded a short clip of them, creating an incredible timelapse of their growth, stretching from infancy, through childhood, and into teens. His most recent release is of his daughter, now 14. In a video that has gone viral, he compresses her entire life into just four minutes of footage.
Hofmeester has now made something of a habit of putting together these videos. His first one of his daughter went viral in 2012, and racked up more than 4 million views. He also released one in 2013 when she turned 13. His son was born in 2002, and the videos of him at ages 10 and 11 have been far less popular, with only around 100,000-150,000 views.
Hofmeester's videos are an incredible look at the way we change and grow as people move through life—but at the same time, it's still rather bizarre that he releases these every year, and each time they seem to go viral. Obviously people want to see more of the lives of these children, even if they've already seen 93% of it already.
The popular Speed Booster now works with classic Olympus glass
Ever since the Metabones Speed Booster was first announced, it's been an incredibly hot commodity. The ability to adapt a lens onto a mirrorless body, but also give more light and a wider field of view than a traditional adapter, has made the Speed Booster much desired (and often imitated). Now Olympus aficionados will have another tool in their arsenal, thanks to a newly announced OM to Micro Four Thirds speed booster.
As with other versions of the Speed Booster, this one makes the lenses 0.71x wider than a standard adapter, and will also pull in an extra stop of light. This handy chart (from here) should give you a slightly better understanding of what that means for field of view, depth of field, and effective focal length.
Metabones adapters don't run cheap however—this will set you back $400, if you can get your hands on one. But if you were a big OM shooter in the film days, this is a great way to bring that classic glass over without losing wide-angles or high speeds.
You can get Pentax's new medium format body for less than $10,000, including a lens
CMOS is the big thing when it comes to medium format digital cameras at the moment. Just ask Phase One and Hasselblad. Now, Pentax is updating their popular 645-series medium format digital cameras with the CMOS-toting 645Z. And it checks in at a price well under $10,000.
The heart of the camera is their new 51.4-megapixel CMOS sensor. Because of the move away from CCD, it can now hit a DSLR-like ISO number of 204,800. While high ISOs like that are typically not very useful due to the grain, the large sensor and high resolution mean you'll have more leeway in terms of noise-reduction that you would with a standard or even full-frame DSLR. The addition of CMOS also means that the 645Z can do video.
Another interesting addition is the 3.2-inch LCD display, which has just over a million dots of resolution and actually rotates, which isn't something you typically find on a camera at this level. Since it'll likely spend a lot of time on a tripod, that could come in very handy.
The body is built to be super-tough, using weather sealing at 76 different points, so it will be at home in the studio, but it seems Pentax is keen to get them out in the field as well.
As for lens options, there are 13 to choose from being made available from Pentax:
- SMC-FA 645 75MM F2.8 $839.00
- SMC-FA 645 45MM F2.8 $1,319.00
- SMCP-FA 645 150mm f/2.8(IF) $1,679.00
- SMC PENTAX-FA* 645 300MM F4 ED(IF) $4,799.95
- SMC-FA 645 400MM F5.6 EDIF $3,479.00
- SMC-FA 645 ZOOM 45-85 F4.5 $2,879.00
- SMCP-FA 645 120mm f/4 MACRO $1,679.00
- SMCP-FA 645 200MM f/4 (IF) $1,319.00
- SMCP-FA 645 80-160/4.5 $2,519.00
- SMCP-FA 645 33-55 f/4.5 AL $3,239.00
- SMCP-FA 645 ZOOM 150-300MM F/5.6 ED $3,239.00
- SMCP-FA 645 35mm f/3.5 $1,919.00
- SMCP-FA 645 55-110 f/5.6 $2,039.00
The standard lens checks in under $1,000. And since the body itself will cost $8,500 when it's released in May, you can get yourself a system for under $10,000. Yes, that's a lot, but in terms of a full-on, high-res, medium format system, it's very cheap.
We liked the original 645 and we're glad to see that Pentax is continuing to support it.
The combination of a total lunar eclipse, and Mars at its biggest and brightest is a rare oneâ��so it's time to break out the tripods and telephoto lenses!
Tonight is going to be an incredibly rare combination of astronomical events. Not only are we set to spot a total lunar eclipse that's visible in the USA for the first time since 2010, but Mars will also be unusually large and bright in the sky. Which makes it the perfect opportunity to get out and try some astrophotography.
Tonight's total lunar eclipse will be the first of four in a set, running early morning April 15th, October 8th, and then next year on April 4th and September 28th—what's called a tetrad. At the same time, Mars is at the biggest and brightest its been in six years, and will actually appear next to the Moon in the night sky.
The best time to see the event will be at 3:00AM EST, midnight PST. And unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses last for hours at a time (and have a dramatic, deep red hue). Unfortunately, you will have to take into account local weather conditions, and it's probably a good idea to drive away from the city to avoid light pollution.
If you're just beginning to step into the world of astrophotography, luckily there are many guides out there to help you. This is a good look at how focal length changes the way the Moon will look, here's an intro to shooting astrophotography, and here. If you're interested in landscapes and timelapses, have a look at this, this, and this.
And no, there's nothing about this set of lunar eclipses that makes them a "blood moon", as all eclipses of this type are red—it's just drumming up apocalyptic fears.
How to declutter those thousands of images that fill up your phone
With the smartphone acting as go to photography device for most people these days, your phone s probably loaded with a chaotic assortment of thousands of images taken at various places and times. So, how do you go about organizing such an array of photos, all stored on one device? The app Tidy aims to help with that, letting you quickly and easily organize your images by location, time, or image shape.
So if you have a large number of photos taken on a trip, or one specific afternoon, or are dedicated to shooting square cropped images for Instagram, this app would let you quickly, powerfully, and easily group images into their appropriate album.
It also has the requisite set of sharing and editing tools, for when you want to tweak the photos a bit more. It'll also pull up old images for you to look at, invoking "Memories".
The downside? According to one review on iTunes, the albums the app creates are not readily readable by other apps, "Great design and concept but need a critical function: SYNC. If all albums created inside the app can not be easily read by other apps, sorting them out is an unwise investment of time."
If the albums the app creates aren't system level, then that's a lot less useful than it might be otherwise.
Giving another lease on life to the 1958 Russar MR-2
Following on the success of the Petzval lens, the folks at Lomography have brought another Russian lens back from the dead, this time the venerable Russar MR-2, from 1958. The newly minted Russar+ is already up for pre-order with a $650 pricetag, and with L39 and M mounts.
You can see a lot more about the lens in the video below, but the Russar+ has a focal length of 20mm (which will effectively change depending on how you mount it onto various camera types), and an aperture range of f/5.6 - f/22. Due to the wide availability of M and L39 mount adapters, you can also load the Russar+ on an extremely wide array of bodies.
The original Russar was designed for Zenit by Mikhail Mikhailovich Rusinov, and, as Lomography explains it:
This innovative and revolutionary optical system allowed for brighter wide-angle photos by utilizing aberrational vignetting in the corners for more illumination across the whole image. It was patented in 1946 and laid the foundations from which super-wide-angle lenses have since been designed!
Lomography also plans to release a viewfinder for the Russar+ this summer, allowing rangefinder shooters a better chance at framing their images properly.
Probably the biggest hurdle Lomography faces with this lens is the high $650 price tag—an amount that would get you an arguably much better prime lens on most available mounts. But for those dedicated to the look and feel of vintage lenses, we're sure this will appeal.
We're used to lenses getting longer, but this all-in-one is getting wider, too.
All-in-one zoom lenses have always been eager to extend outward at the telephoto focal lengths. But, Tamron's new 16-300mm lens is trying to push the limit on the wide angle component.
It's designed specifically for lenses with APS-C-sized sensors and has the equivalent of an 18.8x optical zoom range. That's more than even most compacts. Before this, there was an 18-270mm version, but going all the way to 16mm on the wide end really is impressive and entices kit lens users even more because it can go even wider than their current setup.
Now, getting to all the other letters in the name of the lens. The lens has 16 elements in 12 groups, including three Molded-Glass Aspherical elements, one Hybrid Aspherical element, two LD elements and one Extra Refractive element. Oh, and there's also an Ultra-Extra Refractive element. While it's not important to understand what all of those mean, it does reinforce just how much refraction wizardry needs to go on inside of a lens this small to get a focal range this extreme.
It focuses to 15.3-inches and has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9, which means it's not a true macro, but it does focus close for its range. Inside is the PZD motor, which Tamron claims to be their quietest and fastest. And of course, as this is an all-in-one zoom, it has built in Vibration Compensation.
It also now gets a new finish and design to make it look more "high-end," which isn't dissimilar from what Sigma is currently doing with their Art series lenses.
It's an aggressive play from Tamron and we love that. We're eager to see how it performs and especially how well they're able to combat distortion and vignetting while going all the way to 16mm.
The lens will be available on May 15, 2014 and will cost $629. That makes it cheaper than the new Nikon 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 VR by a good margin.
NASA has finally taken one of its Instagram accounts to space
While NASA has had a social media presence for a long time, surprisingly its taken the organization this long to actually take one of the most popular image sharing platforms on the planet off-world. NASA has finally linked up its ISS Instagram feed up with astronauts on the space station, and two days ago Steven R. Swanson posted this image to Instagram.
And yes, he is wearing a Firefly t-shirt. Up until now, the ISS Instagram feed has been about the training on the ground, but since that first selfie, more images from the ISS have been posted, including one of the Northern Lights, and another of Swanson (this time rocking a Star Trek shirt).
While it may sound incredulous that NASA has only just turned to Instagram for space pictures, that's because there have been multiple other social media attempts from various agencies, and this is just the first time it's been NASA+Instagram+images taken in space. After all, the official NASA Instagram account and the NASA Goddard account are both extremely popular, and filled with images of space. But they are all images from other situations, posted to Instagram. And let's not forget the incredible images that Cmdr Chris Hadfield posted—but while on NASA trips, he's technically CSA, and was posting to Twitter, not Instagram.
Even so, we can't wait to see more of the images that come from the ISS!
The second full-frame prime in Sigma's Art series is here and it means business
Back when we originally tested the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG AF lens, the first in Sigma’s new high-end Art series to be released, we weren’t just impressed, we were eager to see what would come next. Now a little more than a year later, Sigma is set to release the second full-frame prime into its Art series.
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens ($950 street; available late April, '14) offers the same black matte coating as other lenses in the line-up, and features 3 Super-Low Dispersion glass elements for combating chromatic aberration and one aspherical to help combat distortion. A floating focus system helps speed AF and a new algorithm aims at improving focus performance.
This lens does not replace Sigma’s already highly-regarded 50mm f/1.4 EX lens ($500 street). Compared to 50mm f/1.4 offerings from Nikon, Canon, Sigma and Sony, this is a fairly large lens. It is made up of 13 elements, arranged into 8 groups; the EX version on the other hand offers 8 elements in 6 groups.
It is approximately 4.1 inches in length, which makes it 1.4-inches longer than the EX, but about 0.6 inches shorter than the massive Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens ($4000 street). It weighs in at 1.8 pounds, nearly twice that of the EX. The Otus, by contrast weighs in at over 2.2 pounds. The Sigma 50mm Art lens accepts 77mm screw-in filters, the same as the EX and most 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses.
In the field, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens performed admirably. We found it to be incredibly sharp, even wide open and it produced consistently-contrasty images. Mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, we actually found the heft of the lens balanced out the weight of the camera nicely. The focusing ring is smooth and has nice damping to it, however, for high-end video there is no matching the smoothness and range of the Otus 55mm’s focusing ring.
We found autofocus to be snappy when affixed to the Mark III and on-par with Canon’s own 50mm f/1.4 ($400 street) and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX lens.
In terms of our SQF test, the new Sigma beat out the 50mm f/1.4 offerings from Canon, Nikon, Sony and the Sony Zeiss. However the original Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX lens and the monstrous Zeiss 55mm Otus lens did edge it out, ever so slightly. Oddly enough, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX still holds the title of being our benchmark for 50mm f/1.4’s in this test.
If video does not load, re-load page (Video by: Dan Bracaglia and Philip Ryan)
In terms of light falloff, there was none by f/2, on par with the Zeiss 55m Otus, which is quite impressive.
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens beat out every other lens when it comes to our DxO distortion test , including the Zeiss Otus. It also beat out all the other lenses, with exception of the Sony Zeiss 50mm f/1.4, in the vignetting department and took home the top prize in close focusing distance and maximum magnification.
As it stands, this is one of the top autofocusing 50mm f/1.4’s money can buy. Sharp, contrasty, and built like a tank, videographers and portrait photographers looking for a cheaper alternative to the Otus might be swayed by the fact that this lens is a quarter of the price (and features AF). But what’s the appeal of this lens over it’s EX counterpart, which is half the price (or any other proprietary 50mm f/1.4 lens for that matter)?
For starters, the 50mm f/1.4 Art lens offers better vignetting control, less distortion, closer focusing and better magnification. For videographers, the focus ring on the Art series alone absolutely makes it a better option than the EX, which frankly, is not great for rack focusing due to a somewhat stiff, scratchy focus ring with a limited turning radius.
The 50mm f/1.4 category has always been a crowded one, and this lens fits in as a higher-class alternative to the usual $400-range 50mm’s. But how will it compare to the newest 58mm f/1.4 offering from Nikon? You’ll have to look for the June 2014 issue of Popular Photography for that test. One thing is certain though, this exceptional piece of glass just made things a bit more complicated for anyone in the market for a normal lens.
50mm (49.45mm tested), f/1.4 (1.47 test), 13 elements in 8 groups. Focus ring turns 120 degrees
Diagonal View Angle: 46 degrees
Weight: 1.83 lbs
Filter Size: 77mm
Mounts: Canon AF, Nikon Af, Sigma AF
Street price: $950
Distortion: At 50mm, 0.02% (Imperceptible) pincushion.
Light Falloff: at 50mm, gone by f/2
Close-Focusing Distance: 15.12 inches
Max Magnification Ratio: at 50mm 1:5.04.
What will you look like when you're 80? This tech might help you find out
As photographers, we're often tasked with making people look as young as possible in photos, but a new technology is meant to do exactly the opposite. Illumination-Aware Age Progression is a project by three scientists, Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, Supasorn Suwajanakorn, and Steven M. Seitz and it's meant to take a photo of a child and guess what he or she will look as they age up to 80 years old.
Cameras have helped computers learn all kinds of things about the human face in recent years, and some have even learned how to judge a person's age simply by looking at a photo of their face. The results of this project look pretty impressive.
The next logical step seems to be to run the algorithm backwards to see how accurate it can really be. Of course, there are all kinds of other factors that can change the way a person looks over the years. I'm almost afraid to see what it would do with my face.
Nikon's super-zoom lens gets a little less F-stop and a lot lighter
The all-in-one zoom lens is the bread-and-butter lens for many introductory-level and midrange DSLRs. For many shooters that don't need super-fast apertures, they really can be a kind of "do it all" lens. Nikon's newest entry into the space is an 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 VR.
The lens that came before it was the 18-300mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR, which obviously had an advantage in terms of aperture at the long end. But, in return, the new F/3.5-6.3G is 30-percent lighter than the older lens. It has a 16.7x zoom range that gives you a full-frame equivalent focal range from 27-450mm.
Inside, there are 16 elements in 12 groups. Three of the elements are aspherical, while three are made from Extra-low Dispersion glass to increase contrast and cut down on things like chromatic aberration. It uses a Silent Wave Motor for focusing, and promises up to four stops of stabilization thanks to the built-in VR.
The lens will cost $899.95 when it's released in May. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to see lens makers start to focus on lenses like this even more. As high ISO performance gets better, the loss of aperture at the long end becomes less of a deal breaker. The glass and coatings are getting better, too, which cuts down on the lack of sharpness and distortion that can sometimes be born from mega focal ranges.
We'll bring you a full review once a retail unit makes its way into the lab.
This centuries old technique will actually show sound moving through the air
We've all seen diagrams of how sound works, of how waves radiate from something that makes noise. But wouldn't you like to be able to actually see how that sound spreads? How it ripples through the atmosphere? It turns out that you can, and it takes a centuries old technique known as Schlieren flow visualization.
As explained by NPR, this technique uses a light source, two parabolic mirrors, and then a light blocking edge to create a very specific image on a camera's sensor. This setup shows disturbances in the air from airflow and heat—but also from sound waves. The video below explains it very well, and it's an incredible real life look at everything from a clap to a gun being fired.
The videos themselves come from Michael Hargather, a professor of mechanical engineering at New Mexico Tech, who specializes in "the development and application of optical techniques to the study of high-speed compressible flows and explosions."
Alongside a 12x zoom, and 16MP BSI CMOS sensor
The S810c uses Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean), an already slightly outdated version of the OS. It also features a 12x 25–300mm equivalent f/3.3-6.3 lens, and a 3-inch, 1,229,000 dot touchscreen, and will take MicroSD cards in addition to using 1.1GB of onboard storage.
Since it's a fully functional Android device, you can, of course, use it for all the things you'd usually use Android for, such as browsing the web and sending emails. You'll also be able to tap into the world of Android image editing apps to alter the photos taken with the S810c. However, the original S800c wasn't exactly well reviewed, and it remains to be seen if Nikon has addressed some of the concerns of sluggishness from the older version.
The Coolpix S810c will be available in early May for $349.95, in either black or white.
Check out this month's crop of inspiring photos
Last month's Your Best Shot finalist gallery set the bar high. We had a ton of entries in a short month, so I was surprised when this month's entries lived up to that level. There's the usual excellent mix of portraits, landscapes, black-and-white images with a few wild cards thrown in for good measure.
Check out the full gallery, then head over to our contests page and see all the chances you have to show off your great work and win great prizes. The overall winners will be featured in an upcoming issue of Popular Photography magazine
The Prey in View
Dawn at the storm cloud
Valley View Sunrise - Yosemite
Back To Nature
Preparing for Tourists
You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.
Sacramento Tornado March 2014
Madison Avenue Taxi
The Edge of Darkness
Horseshoe Crab Sunset
Surfers at sunset
Tux Built For Performance
Sunset on the Chesapeake Bay
Blue Hour Pier
Joy jump at Tajmahal
Follow the long dirt path
Naked Body Painting Party
Pillaging the Bowl - (no photoshop)-
Light from Heaven
Day on the Lake
Under the Umbrella
Don't Look Down
In the river
Tree on the Gardiner River
According to IMGembed, the vast majority of photos on the internet aren't okayed, or even sourced
It should hardly come as a surprise, but the overwhelming majority of images that are used online are being used illegally. Between Tumblr, blog posts, Twitter, imgur, and a host of unsavory corners of the web, most of the photos that get uploaded are taken from somewhere without permission. Now, licensing and embedding tool IMGembed has a released a white paper saying that the number is 85%, and offering its own services as a way to help limit it.
Frankly, the 85% number even sound conservative, and the report doesn't indicate how this number was generated. But it does identify a number of reasons for the widespread misuse of photos, citing market confusion, time constraints, copyright trolling, and low risk as being major contributors.
IMGembed is a service that allows photographers a substantial amount of control over how their image is used, and what rates they get for it. Rather than just having an image that can be downloaded, and easily stolen, it instead generates an embeddable HTML code. It does have a suite of free images for use too, but those are usually limited to just 10,000 impressions.
IMGembed can be seen as part of a larger trend towards major image hosting and licensing sites moving towards embedded image tools rather than straight downloads. Flickr has recently overhauled its embedding function, plus there are tools like Stipple. And let's not forget Getty's recent move to make its entire archive available to embed.
However, many websites still aren't set up to properly use embedded images. Our own CMS, for example, requires an image file to generate a thumbnail on the front page—which we wouldn't be able to get from one of these services.