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Adobe gives Photoshop 2021 even more Sensei AI power, brings livestreaming to Photoshop for iPad

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 08:27

As part of Adobe MAX 2020, which is virtual (and free to attend) this year, Adobe has announced the latest updates to the Adobe Photoshop family. Artificial intelligence and Adobe Sensei play a major role in today's updates, which are now available for all subscribers.

Adobe Photoshop 2021

Adobe calls Photoshop 2021, also known as version 22.0, the 'world's most advanced AI application for creatives,' so let's see what's new. The primary new features are Neural Filters, Sky Replacement, improved Refine Edge Selections and the all-new Discover panel.

The Neural Filters workspace is a 'complete reimagination of filters and image manipulation inside Photoshop.' The first version includes a large set of filters, some of which are still in a beta state. Adobe wants to get as many of them into the hands of users for testing. The Neural Filters workspace offers users access to non-destructive filters including Skin Smoothing, Smart Portrait and more. Smart Portrait allows you to transform a portrait subject along parameters such as age, expression, pose and more. AI analyzes the portrait to allow you to change aspects of your subject's features, such as changing the direction of the subject's head, gaze and the intensity of their smile. As you can see below, you can even adjust the direction of light in an image.

In this image, the light direction slider within Adobe's new Neural Filters was moved from left to right. As Adobe's Pam Clark notes, finishing touches can be easily applied within Photoshop. Image credit: Adobe

In addition to making AI-powered adjustments to portraits, Neural Filters also includes features to help repair damaged images, including Photo Restoration, Dust and Scratches, Noise Reduction, Face Cleanup, JPEG Artifacts Restoration and even a Neural Filter for colorizing a black and white image, a task which takes a considerable amount of skill and time to perform manually. You can learn more about how Neural Filters works and how they can be used in your workflow by visiting Adobe's dedicated webpage.

Adobe's new Sky Replacement feature includes numerous user controls when changing the sky, such as brightness and temperature. You can see the new workspace by enlarging this image. Image credit: Adobe

Moving on to Sky Replacement. Using the power of AI, Photoshop can analyze your image to detect what areas of your image are foreground versus sky and then perform masking and blending in order to realistically change the sky in your image. You can select from Photoshop's database of skies or add your own. There are creative controls as well, including the ability to zoom in and select a portion of the sky and move the sky around the scene. Today's Photoshop release includes around 25 sky presets. You can learn more about Sky Replacement in this article and by watching the video below.

It seems every major release of Photoshop includes substantive improvements to making selections in your images and the latest release is no different. Adobe Sensei is powering a pair of new features in the Select and Mask workspace: Refine Hair and Object Aware Refine Mode.

Making selections of hair has long been challenging, but Sensei now allows you to leverage its power to refine a selection incorporating hair in a single click. Similarly, Object Aware Refine Mode uses the power of AI to make even more precise, informed selections of portions of your image. Consider the example image below of a selection of the hair in the lion's mane. It's an impressive selection that was performed in only a few seconds.

Image credit: Adobe

Photoshop's new Discover panel includes a brand-new learn and search experience. Within Photoshop, you can quickly access an expanded library of educational content, new step-by-step tutorials, and a vastly improved search functionality. AI makes context-aware recommendations based on your work, including tips and tutorials. There are new one-click Quick Actions that allow you to instantly perform certain tasks when you're in a rush or teach you how to do the task for yourself step by step.

Photoshop 2021 includes an all-new Discover panel. Image credit: Adobe

Photoshop also includes Pattern Preview and shape creation features. Pattern Preview is a special view mode that allows you to view how your document would look as a pattern. Creating and adjusting shapes on the fly is now easier. There's a new tool to create triangles and on-canvas controls to resize and adjust shapes.

Pattern preview is new to Photoshop 2021. Image credit: Adobe

Further improvements include enhancements to the Properties Panels and major revisions to how you access plug-ins within Photoshop. There's a new plugins marketplace within the application where you'll find curated collections in addition to the wide array of plugins and integrations on offer for Photoshop. Adobe has also integrated UXP to Photoshop. UXP is its new extensibility platform for building plugins.

This plugin architecture results in improved reliability and performance for plugins. There are already plugins built on UXP available in Photoshop. These include plugins to connect Photoshop with apps and services such as Dropbox, Trello and Slack. Plus, there are image editing plugins from photographers such as Tony Kuyper, Greg Benz and Davide Barranca.

It's now easier to find plugins in Photoshop. Plus, plugins built on the UXP platform will be even more stable and faster. Image credit: Adobe

On the topic of connectedness, when working on a cloud document inside Photoshop, versions are now automatically created, allowing you to look back or revert to prior states. Within Photoshop, it's now possible to view, revert, open, save as and rename save states within the version history. Cloud documents are also now available offline.

When working on cloud documents, you can now access a file's version history. Image credit: Adobe

For the full breakdown of everything new in version 22.0 of Photoshop on desktop, click here. Now, there have also been specific new functions added to Photoshop on iPad.

Photoshop for iPad

When using Photoshop on iPad, you can now change the dimensions, resolution and sampling of a PSD file, matching what you can do with a PSD file on the desktop version of Photoshop. You can learn more about this function by clicking here.

It's now possible to live stream from within Photoshop on iPad. You can use the tablet's built-in camera and mic to communicate with viewers as well. Image credit: Adobe

Within Photoshop on iPad, users can now start a live stream via the Export menu. You can use the iPad's built-in camera to interact with members of Adobe Behance. Live streams are sent to Behance automatically and Adobe will be moderating and posting selected recordings in the gallery on Behance and within the Photoshop on iPad app directly. There is also a new Behance Gallery within the app. This lets you view the work of others, watch live streams (including recordings), browse through Behance projects and share your own work. You can learn more by clicking here: Live streaming and gallery.

As you can see, there's a lot new in Photoshop. You can learn more about all the new features and find links to additional information by reading this Adobe blog post.

This Friday, October 23, Terry White will be hosting a live stream at 11:00 AM ET in which he discusses all the new features of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop for photographers. You can learn more about this live stream and set a reminder by clicking here. If you'd like to take part in Adobe MAX 2020, alongside more than 500,000 other registrants, you can sign up for different live events right here. There are a ton of great guests scheduled to appear this week, including celebrities such as Conan O'Brien, Chelsea Handler and Zendaya. Over the next three days, there are over 350 sessions, labs and creativity workshops, so be sure to check them out, it's completely free to attend.

Categories: Photo News

Adobe shows off prototype version of its Content Authenticity tool and ecosystem

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 07:57

In addition to its Lightroom and Photoshop updates, adobe has also revealed a prototype of its Content Authenticity Prototype, a key new tool that will play a key role in Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative first unveiled a year ago at Adobe MAX 2019.

A screenshot from the video showing the 'Content Credentials' toolset in the beta version of Adobe Photoshop.

As the above video demonstrates, the new opt-in tool provides a way for photojournalists, artists and other creatives to cyptographically sign and embed editing and attribution information to images that have been adjusted or altered in Photoshop (and presumably other Adobe programs). Creators can choose to include as little or as much data as they would like and export that information with the image(s).

A screenshot from the header video showing what information will be embedded with the edited image upon export from Photoshop.

When the image(s) are uploaded to websites with CAI compatibility, viewers will be able to see exactly who captured the image, what edits were made, what assets were used and more. Adobe is even launching a dedicated site (verify.contentauthenticity.org) that will serve as an original database of sorts to see every detail of every change made and asset used.

The verify.contentauthenticity.org website will break down the signed metadata for each asset used.

Currently, the prototype will only be available to a select group of beta testers. Eventually, we can expect the tool to roll out to the masses, but even then, adoption will come to be the greatest barrier to Adobe’s efforts to keep authenticity at the forefront of digital content creation.

Adobe says it’s working with ‘The New York Times Company, Twitter, Inc., Microsoft, BBC, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Truepic, WITNESS, CBC and many others,’ but it’s honest about what it will take to get the masses to adopt such attribution technology as the norm:

‘We believe attribution will create a virtuous cycle. The more creators distribute content with proper attribution, the more consumers will expect and use that information to make judgement calls, thus minimizing the influence of bad actors and deceptive content. Ultimately, a holistic solution that includes attribution, detection and education to provide a common and shared understanding of objective facts is essential to help us make more thoughtful decisions when consuming media. Today is a huge leap forward for the CAI, but this is just the beginning.’

While the companies Adobe is already working with are certainly leaders in their respective spheres, there are plenty of other agencies and organizations that will need to hop onboard the CAI train to truly make this a ubiquitous standard that's the rule instead of the exception. Media empire Gannett, for example, would be a great opportunity, as the company owns over 90 daily newspapers, nearly 1,000 weekly newspapers and almost two dozen television stations. Getty, AP and others are obvious candidates as well.

You can keep up with the latest CAI developments on the Adobe Blog and the Content Authenticity website.

Categories: Photo News

DJI's new Pocket 2 three-axis-stabilized mini camera offers larger sensor, wider lens and more

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 07:24

DJI has announced the release of its new DJI Pocket 2, a second-generation three-axis mini camera.

The updated camera drops the Osmo nomenclature its predecessor bore and improves its performance across the board. Despite keeping its compact size, weighing just 117g (4.2oz), the Pocket 2 has a larger sensor and wider lens than the Osmo Pocket, which DJI claims has dramatically improve image quality for both photos and video.

The new 1/1.7” sensor (Osmo Pocket had a 1/2.3” sensor) works in tandem with a new 20mm (equivalent) F1.8 lens to capture 16MP photos in standard mode and up to 64MP images in high-resolution mode. The Pocket 2 can record 4K video at up to 60fps at a 100Mbps bitrate. DJI has added HDR recording and the device now offers up to 8x zoom using the 64MP high-resolution mode or 4x lossless zoom when shooting at 16MP or in 1080p.

DJI has also improved the focus system, which should make it easily to track moving subjects faster and more accurately than with the Osmo Mobile. The Hybrid 2.0 AF feature uses a combination of contrast and phase detection to deliver these performance improvements.

DJI Matrix Stereo also improves upon one of the weakest points of the Osmo Mobile—audio. The new audio system uses an array of four microphones to capture what DJI calls an ‘immersive audio experience.’ DJI has added a number of audio features, including Directional Audio, SoundTrack and Audio Zoom. Below is a description of the new features straight from DJI:

’Directional Audio enhances sound recording from those microphones to pick up as much detail as possible, with SoundTrack adjusting the audio based on where the camera is facing, while Audio Zoom narrows the sound field when zooming the camera in. To further filter out unwanted background sounds, an optional wind noise reduction helps keep the audio clean in outdoor settings.’

As with nearly all of DJI’s products, there’s a handful of pre-programmed shooting modes included with the Pocket 2:

  • Pro Mode: Control advanced camera settings such as ISO, shutter speed, EV, and focus mode.
  • ActiveTrack 3.0: Select a subject and let DJI Pocket 2 keep it in the frame automatically.
  • Slow Motion: Capture the fast-moving world in slow motion with a max speed and resolution of 8x at 1080p.
  • Timelapse, Hyperlapse, Motionlapse: Speed up the world around you with the varying effects of three different time-lapse operations. Hyperlapse automatically integrates Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS) for added smoothness. Users have the ability to save individual images separately, record in RAW format, and use ActiveTrack 3.0.
  • Panoramas:
    • 180° Pano: Captures four photos for sweeping landscape images.
    • 3×3 Pano: Merges nine images for a wide and detailed view.
  • Livestreaming: Livestream directly to Facebook, YouTube, or RTMP.
  • Story Mode: Preset camera movements, color profiles, and music make it easier to choose a template, record the moment, and share to social media instantly.

Other features include a new Fast Wake option that will instantly turn on the device so you don’t miss any action, a Drop Aware function that will ‘take preventative measures when it senses the gimbal falling’ and a Pause Recording feature that will quickly pause video recordings.

With new hardware comes new accessories, including a charging case, wireless microphone set, waterproof housing, a more compact control wheel, an extension rod, a (more) wide-angle lens attachment, a wireless module and a smartphone support system. All of the above features and more can be controlled with the free DJI Mimo smartphone app, available on both Android and iOS.

The DJI Pocket 2 can be purchased in two configurations: the DJI Pocket 2 with the Mini Control Stick and Tripod mount for $349, or the DJI Pocket 2 Creator Combo, which includes the Mini Control Sitck, tripod mount, wide-angle lens attachment, wireless microphone with windscreen, the do-it-all handle and the micro tripod for $499. Units can be purchased through DJI’s online store and authorized DJI retailers.

Categories: Photo News

Nikon Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 sample gallery

Tue, 10/20/2020 - 06:00
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The Nikkor Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 is Nikon's most compact and affordable ($400 MSRP) lens for full-frame Z-mount cameras. It's also one of two lenses available as a kit with the excellent, entry-level Nikon Z5 body, and collapses down to a mere 51mm (2") when retracted. While it's certainly not the fastest glass in town, it is respectably sharp for a modern kit lens. Take a look for yourself.

See our Nikon Z 24-50mm F4-6.3
sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Ilford Photo Darkroom Guide video series reveals printing techniques and more for beginners

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 16:14

Black and white film and paper manufacturer Ilford Photo has produced a series of videos to help beginners get to grips with essential darkroom techniques. Hosted by Rachel Brewster-Wright from Little Vintage Photography the collection of videos tackles some of the basics of common darkroom questions in a simple to follow format.

So far, subjects covered in the 16-video playlist include dodging and burning, selenium toning, using multi-grade paper and more. The series sits alongside a mass of other educational content from the film-maker that covers issues such as how an enlarger works, pinhole photography, a checklist for setting up your own darkroom and processing your first roll of film. This is mixed with inspirational interviews with black and white photographers and printers, as well as footage inside the Ilford Factory in the UK.

If you want to get started in black and white film photography, or you want a refresher on how it’s all done check out the Ilford Photo YouTube channel.

Categories: Photo News

Adobe Lightroom Classic 10.0 released, includes Color Grading and more

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 10:54

Adobe has released Lightroom Classic version 10.0, ushering in a variety of performance improvements and new features, including new controlled color grading adjustments for shadows, midtones and highlights.

With Lightroom Classic's new color grading tool, users can control the color separately in midtones, shadows and highlights, or adjust the color of your entire image with a global control. The Color Grading panel replaces Split Toning and offers additional control overall color. Within Color Grading, you can adjust hue, saturation and luminance by moving the point in each color wheel. When making adjustments, if you hold the Shift key or Command key, you restrict wheel movement for Saturation or Hue adjustments, respectively.

Image credit: Adobe

The Color Grading panel also includes Blending and Balance sliders. The Blending slider 'adjusts the amount of overlap between the shadows and highlights.' The Balance slider balances the effect of sliders between highlights, midtones and shadows. If the value is greater than zero, the effect of highlights will be increased. A value below zero increases the effect of the shadows. If you want to recreate the effect of the old Split Toning effect, set the Blending slider to 100.

A few weeks ago, Adobe showed a sneak peek at the new Color Grading feature. You can view the early look at the feature below.

Lightroom Classic version 10 includes performance improvements as well. Adobe promises faster editing when using brushes and gradients when GPU acceleration is enabled. Further, the new version delivers faster scrolling through the Library Grid, Folders and Collections, particularly for users with large catalogs.

When using the Loupe, Compare and Reference views in Lightroom, there is improved control over zoom levels with new Scrubby zoom and Box zoom options. Scrubby Zoom can be used while dragging your move left or right while pressing the Shift key. This is only available when GPU acceleration is enabled. The Box Zoom is available in Library and Develop modules by pressing Ctrl on Windows or Command on macOS while drawing a box with your cursor. The Navigator panel has been updated as well, it now offers Fit/Fill, 100% and Zoom percent options (ranging from 6% to 1600%).

A summary of Lightroom Classic version 10.0's new features. Click to enlarge. Image credit: Adobe

For Canon camera users, you can see what you are shooting in real-time when tethered to Lightroom Classic version 10. Your connected camera's live view will appear in a new, resizable window with orientation options. The tether bar includes focus control buttons and an autofocus button. To learn more about this feature, check out this article.

In addition to new tethered support, Lightroom Classic 10.0 includes new camera and lens profile support. The Fujifilm X-S10, Panasonic Lumix S5, Sony A7C and Sony A7S Mark III are all now supported. A variety of Sigma lenses and Voigtlander lenses have new support in Lightroom Classic 10.0. You can view the full list of supported cameras and lenses via the following links: Supported cameras and supported lenses.

When you update Lightroom Classic to the latest version, you will be prompted to upgrade your catalog. When doing so, a new feature will allow you to control the name of your catalog. To learn more about the new features in Adobe Lightroom Classic version 10.0, click here.

Categories: Photo News

7artisans releases $255 35mm F0.95 manual prime for APS-C mirrorless camera systems

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 08:11

7artisans has announced yet another affordable ultra-fast manual prime lens, the 35mm F0.95 APS-C lens for Canon M, Fuji X, Micro Four Thirds, Nikon Z and Sony E mount camera systems.

The lens, which retails for just $255, is constructed of 11 elements in 8 groups, has an aperture range of F0.95–16, offers a minimum focusing distance of 37cm (14.5”) and has a 12-blade aperture diaphragm. It offers a 43º angle of view, has a declicked aperture dial and weighs just 369g (13oz).

Photo Rumors, who is an authorized 7artisans retailer, has shared a gallery of sample images taken with the lens attached to a Sony a7 III:

The 7artisans 35mm F0.95 APS-C lens is available to purchase for $255 through 7artisan retailers, including Photo Rumors.

Categories: Photo News

Mobile by Peak Design is a new line of smartphone cases and accessories with unique 'SlimLock' design

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 07:00

Peak Design is back with its latest crowdfunding campaign. This time, the San Francisco-based accessory manufacturer has found a way to put a unique spin on a new line of cases and accessories for smartphones.

The legs of the tripod accessory fold out wide to create a sturdy base. If you're using larger, heavier devices, the case even has a built-in hex tool for tightening the joints of the ball mount and legs.

The new Mobile by Peak Design lineup consists of smartphone cases and universal mounts that use Peak Design’s ‘SlimLink’ hardware to easily connect an ecosystem of accessories, including an ultra-compact tripod, various magnetic and locking mounts, a wallet and even wireless charging mounts.

The tripod accessory is tapered and easily snaps into place on the rear of the case or universal mount.

What makes the SlimLink connection on each of the cases and adapters unique is its ability to work with both hard-locking (mechanical) and soft-locking (magnetic) mounts. This means some of the accessories, such as the mobile tripod, can connect with a quick snap of the built-in magnets, while mounts that need a more secure hold, such as the bike and moto mounts, can lock into place for a more secure hold.

A close-up shot of the proprietary SlimLock system.

The SlimLink connection is made of ceramic-zirconium, meaning it will still allow Qi charging to work through the case. At launch, the Mobile by Peak Design lineup will offer dedicated Peak Design Everyday Cases for the following devices (other phones will work using the universal adapter):

  • iPhone 12 (6.1” + 5.4”), Pro Max, Pro
  • iPhone SE2
  • iPhone 11, Pro, Pro Max
  • Samsung S20, S20 Ultra, S20 +
The universal mount ensures nearly any older device—even those with cases—should be able to be adapted to work with the Mobile by Peak Design system.

Peak Design is also supporting cross-compatibility between its mounting system and the new MagSafe connection found in Apple’s latest iPhone 12 devices. Specifically, Peak Design says its soft-locking mounts and accessories (tripod, wallet, charging stand, wall mount and car mounts) will work with Apple’s MagSafe phones and cases. Peak Design also says iPhone 12 devices in the Peak Design Everyday Case will work with Apple’s MagSafe charger and notes Apple’s MagSafe accessories, such as their wallet, will be able to be connected to a Peak Design Case, but it doesn’t specify how exactly that will be achieved.

As of the announcement of the Kickstarter campaign, Peak Design lists four different cases or adapters and eleven different accessories. An infographic overview of the ecosystem is shared below:

You can find out more information on the Mobile by Peak Design lineup by heading over to the Kickstarter campaign. Below is an infographic with a pricing breakdown for the various accessories, adapters and cases. As with all of Peak Design’s other products, all cases and accessories are individually serialized and guaranteed for life.

This is Peak Design’s 10th Kickstarter campaign and should, if it reaches its goal, ensure Peak Design surpasses smartwatch manufacturer Pebble for the all-time most money raised through Kickstarter campaigns — $43.4M.

After a successful funding and launch on Kickstarter, the Mobile by Peak Design system will be available to purchased through Peak Design’s online shops as well as partnered retailers in Spring 2021.

Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

Categories: Photo News

Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II: Should you buy one?

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 06:00
My much-used Nikon Z7, purchased used from a friend (this guy) in late 2018.

Please note that the following article is very much a personal take, written from the perspective of someone who has been using an original Z7 for some time. Your needs (and your experience) may well vary greatly from mine, and I'd encourage you to read our launch content to get a feel for how well (or not) the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II meet your requirements.

And with that out of the way...

Here at DPReview we get to use a lot of cameras and lenses in the course of our work (lucky us) but despite the availability of free loaner equipment, most of us still own and maintain a personal collection of gear. I'm talking about cameras, lenses and accessories purchased with our own money, for those times when we're not testing the latest and greatest new thing. Much of my favorite gear of the past few years has – when finances have allowed – made its way into my personal collection.

For two years, my main camera (alongside models from several other manufacturers, I hasten to add) has been the Nikon Z7. The Z7 divided opinion when it was released in 2018 (who knew that so many people couldn't live without a second card slot...?) but it met my fairly basic requirements very well. I needed high resolution in a compact body, image stabilization, a high–resolution viewfinder (with a priority on detail, rather than refresh rate), and a menu system which I could navigate without getting a headache. Something to replace my D810, with an emphasis on image quality rather than speed.

I had a running list of things I wanted fixed – or at least improved – in a future Z7 replacement

Fast-forward two years and my needs haven't changed that much. That being said, after spending so long with a single model as my primary 'creative' camera (and having used the raft of competitive full-frame options released by Canon, Sony and Panasonic in the intervening time), I had created a mental list of things I wanted fixed – or at least improved – in a future Z7 replacement.

In no particular order, here's my list – all of which might equally apply to the Z6.

  • Backlit controls
  • More customization for Fn buttons (for example the option to toggle silent shooting on/off)
  • Improved VR
  • Faster AF, better focus reliability in low light
  • A proper analog for 3D AF tracking as found in Nikon's DSLRs
  • Compatibility with 10–pin MC–30A release (the plug–in MC–DC2 is fiddly and flimsy)
  • A proper vertical grip
  • A less intrusive EVF electronic level
  • Greater articulation of rear LCD (and a less sensitive EVF/LCD switch)
  • More effective sensor cleaning / dust–reduction

Two things not on my list, but I know are very close to some peoples' hearts: Improved video, and twin card slots.

Of the 12 improvements and additions mentioned above, the Z7 II addresses four of them (highlighted in bold), but only two from my main list. The Z6 II and Z7 II are nearly impossible to tell apart from their predecessors, and that's quite revealing: They're extremely similar. Even the old MB-N10 battery grip will fit the the new cameras, which is good news for the five people who bought one.

Unlike the original Z6 and Z7, the new Mark II models are offered alongside a true vertical control grip, which duplicates controls for portrait-orientation shooting.

Is the provision for a proper vertical grip, and improved autofocus enough to make me upgrade from my Z7? Honestly...? probably not. I say 'probably' because I'm reserving judgement until I can judge for myself the improvement to AF in low light and the handling difference that the new grip makes when shooting with the Z 70–200mm F2.8 VR S. The fact is that – for me – the original Z7 is still a great camera, and here at DPReview, even two years on, we still consider the Z6/7 to be among the most pleasant to use of the full-frame ILCs currently on the market. If I buy a new camera in the next year or so, it might just end up being a second Z7, if the prices drop low enough. But if I do upgrade, at least I know that the process will be unusually painless (even custom tripod plates for the Z6/7 will fit the new models).

There are a lot of 'single issue voters' out there in the camera–buying world

Of course, that's just me. There are a lot of 'single issue voters' out there in the camera-buying world, whether that issue is the number of card slots, USB power, battery life, which way the focus ring rotates (FINALLY something you can customize in the Z6/7 II...) or whatever else.

The Z6 II and Z7 II have twin card slots. They can be powered over USB. They are, undoubtedly, faster and more powerful cameras than their predecessors. Nikon claims that their twin processors allow for improved low light AF performance, as well as more versatile face/eye-AF, reduced blackout time between shots, and faster continuous shooting. Hopefully, the increased processing power will allow Nikon to add more features via future firmware updates, too.

There will be a lot of people reading our launch coverage of the Z6 II and Z7 II and thinking (and no doubt already commenting) 'these are the cameras that the Z6 and Z7 should have been'. I think that's unfair (hindsight is cheap – R&D isn't), but they're certainly better cameras – and a more convincing entry-point into mirrorless for existing Nikon DSLR owners.

Because the new Z6 II and Z7 II are physically identical to their predecessors, custom plates from the likes of Acratech (shown here) Kirk and Really Right Stuff designed for the older cameras will also fit the new models.

That's crucial, because while the answer to the question 'should you upgrade from a Z6 or Z7 to the Z6 II or Z7 II?' is a resounding 'maybe...', for Nikon users considering whether to move into mirrorless for the first time, it's much more clear–cut.

If you're a D750 or D850 (or D5000–series or D7000–series) owner, you'll probably find these new cameras more attractive upgrade options than the original Z6 and Z7. They work in broadly the same way (if not exactly the same) as the DSLRs that you're used to, autofocus should be a little better, you can use your existing SD memory cards if you want, without the short–term need to invest in a new media type, and if you need proper vertical controls for portraits or long lens work, you got 'em. Meanwhile the extra processing power makes them a little more future-proof when it comes to firmware updates.

But what if you're not an existing Nikon DSLR user? Is the Z6 II a better option than (say) the Canon EOS R6, or Sony a7 III, or Panasonic Lumix DC–S5? That's not a question we can answer yet. They certainly look pretty competitive on paper, and you can see how their specs compare in our database, but bare numbers can only tell you so much. Rest assured though that we'll be testing both the Z6 II and Z7 II (and adding them to our Buying Guides) as soon as we receive final production samples.

Categories: Photo News

DPReview TV: The quality of light, and how different types of lights affect your photos

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 00:00

Having light is critical for photography, but what about the quality of light? Our resident mad scientist, Don Komarechka, explains how different light sources can impact your photos.

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

Categories: Photo News

Video: How to create 'mind-bending' drone photos with a little creative thinking

Sun, 10/18/2020 - 11:58

The Cooperative of Photography, better known as COOPH, has shared ‘Droneception,’ a quick tutorial video that breaks down how to create ‘mind-bending’ drone images using two-shot, three-shot and more advanced multi-shot methods.

The video is three-and-a-half minutes long with only visuals and text overlays for instructions, but it’s succinct and manages to effectively convey the steps required to get the shots and make the final compositions. These methods should work with nearly any drone, so whether you’re using the newest DJI or a few year old no-name brand, the magic happens with the creative thinking ahead of time and the post-processing done afterwards.

For more videos, head over and subscribe to COOPH’s YouTube Channel.

Categories: Photo News

'Who am I and what am I doing here?' Introducing Roger Cicala

Sun, 10/18/2020 - 06:00
I like big optics.

A fair number of you probably know me as the Roger who started Lensrentals.com, and some may know I used to be a physician before that. A few know I sold most of my share in Lensrentals.com years ago and since then I've hung out as their director of Quality Assurance, Lovely and Talented Spokesmodel, and a major contributor to the blog. Other than QA, I haven’t actually managed anything for years.

When I started Lensrentals I had a lot of conversations with service centers that went like this. Me: "That lens you repaired still sucks". Person at service center: "No, it’s within specs". Me: "What are the specs?" Service center: "We can’t tell you". One day, after I raised hell with a factory service manager, he patted me on the head and said, “testing lenses is complicated; you don’t have the background to understand.”

Any of you who has ever seen a physician after someone says something like ‘you wouldn't understand; it’s complicated’ knows what happened next. I had no option but to spend a couple of years buying testing equipment, offering internships to really smart optical engineering students, and developing a lens testing center and methodology that was as good as anything in the industry.

Pictured: A lens testing center and methodology that was as good as anything in the industry. This machine doesn't give us numbers, it's used to optically adjust lenses in real time.

That probably sounds ridiculous, but the reality is that in 2010, everybody (manufacturers included) was still doing metrology (lens testing) the same way that they’d done it with film cameras in the 60s and 70s. In my previous life I’d done clinical research, and my first hobby was writing medical books for non-medical people; putting complex medical terms in plain words. When I started Lensrentals, I started writing again, blogging about the stuff we were doing.

I ended up doing testing and consulting for several major manufacturers, and a fair number of specialty manufacturers

So a few years later, when a service center told me "it’s within spec" I could send them their specs (because we’d tested enough lenses to know them) and the results from the lens in question and say, “NOPE, it’s not.” If you look back to my blog posts in those days, you’ll see I even posted some examples of what service centers claimed was ‘in spec’ versus what was really happening as well as posting actual MTF (as opposed to computer generated) data. As you might expect, this made me rather unpopular with manufacturers.

We then entered the traditional ‘exchange of threats and legal posturing’ period. I managed to convince most manufacturers that we were just reporting facts (emphasis on most). Eventually they started sending engineers to look at our testing methods. I ended up doing testing and consulting for several major manufacturers, and a fair number of specialty manufacturers. I don’t do that much anymore, since we gave our software and methodology to any that were interested, and most then started doing it themselves.

Test results for a lens that isn't as sharp as it should be in the center, which actually is unusual. Usually the problems are away from center.

I still have a lab in one of Lensrentals’ buildings, but I just do whatever interests me at the moment. They let me put stuff up on their blog but much of what I write only gets widely seen when DPReview reposts it. I’ve worked behind the scenes with the DPReview staff for years, so when Barney offered me the chance to write directly for DPR we sat down and negotiated. I think the terms are fair; they aren’t going to pay me anything, but they won’t tell me what to write about or to STFU [Editor's note: we offered to pay Roger but he said 'I already have enough money' and I didn't push the matter in case I misheard].

I expect you might see a disclaimer about ‘the opinions expressed in this article don’t necessarily reflect those of DPReview, anybody who works here, or anybody we even know’ every so often. But otherwise I’ll be writing op-ed pieces here when the mood strikes me and when DPReview has a slow news day.

Roger

The opinions expressed in this article don’t necessarily reflect those of DPReview, its parent company, affiliates, anybody who works here, or anybody we even know.

Categories: Photo News

Slideshow: Winners of the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

Sat, 10/17/2020 - 11:36
Winners of the 2020 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

Over 49,000 images were submitted to the 56th annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, put on by the Natural History Museum in London. The Duchess of Cambridge and Patron of the museum, Kate Middleton, announced the Grand Title Winner during the live-streamed ceremony which aired on October 13th.

Sergey Gorshkov spent over 11 months on his overall winning image, 'The Embrace,' depicting the rare sighting of an Amur tigress hugging a Manchurian fir. ‘Hunted to the verge of extinction in the past century, the Amur population is still threatened by poaching and logging today. The remarkable sight of the tigress immersed in her natural environment offers us hope, as recent reports suggest numbers are growing from dedicated conservation efforts,' says Dr. Tim Littlewood – Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Science.

All winning images will be showcased in an exhibition at the Natural History Museum, starting October 16th. Entries for the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition are open on Tuesday, October 19th.

GRAND TITLE WINNER: 'The Embrace' by Sergey Gorshkov (Russia)

Sergey Gorshkov/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: With an expression of sheer ecstasy, a tigress hugs an ancient Manchurian fir, rubbing her cheek against bark to leave secretions from her scent glands. She is an Amur, or Siberian, tiger, here in the Land of the Leopard National Park, in the Russian Far East. The race – now regarded as the same subspecies as the Bengal tiger – is found only in this region, with a small number surviving over the border in China and possibly a few in North Korea.

Hunted almost to extinction in the past century, the population is still threatened by poaching and logging, which also impacts their prey – mostly deer and wild boar, which are also hunted. But recent (unpublished) camera‑trap surveys indicate that greater protection may have resulted in a population of possibly 500–600 – an increase that it is hoped a future formal census may confirm. Low prey densities mean that tiger territories are huge.

Sergey knew his chances were slim but was determined to take a picture of the totem animal of his Siberian homeland. Scouring the forest for signs, focusing on trees along regular routes where tigers might have left messages–scent, hairs, urine or scratch marks–he installed his first proper camera trap in January 2019, opposite this grand fir. But it was not until November that he achieved the picture he had planned for, of a magnificent tigress in her Siberian forest environment.

Gear and Settings: Nikon Z-7 + 50mm f1.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f6.3; ISO 250; Cognisys camera-trap system.

Winner, Animal Portraits: 'The Pose' by Mogens Trolle (Denmark)

Mogens Trolle/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: A young male proboscis monkey cocks his head slightly and closes his eyes. Unexpected pale blue eyelids now complement his immaculately groomed auburn hair. He poses for a few seconds as if in meditation. He is a wild visitor to the feeding station at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in Sabah, Borneo–‘the most laid-back character,’ says Mogens, who has been photographing primates worldwide for the past five years.

In some primate species, contrasting eyelids play a role in social communication, but their function in proboscis monkeys is uncertain. The most distinctive aspect of this young male –sitting apart from his bachelor group –is, of course, his nose. As he matures, it will signal his status and mood (female noses are much smaller) and be used as a resonator when calling. Indeed, it will grow so big that it will hang down over his mouth –he may even need to push it aside to eat.

Found only on the island of Borneo and nearby islands, proboscis monkeys are endangered. Eating mainly leaves (along with flowers, seeds and unripe fruit), they depend on threatened forests close to waterways or the coast and –being relatively lethargic –are easily hunted for food and bezoar stones (an intestinal secretion used in traditional Chinese medicine). Mogens’ unforgettable portrait, with the young male’s characteristic peaceful expression–‘quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen on another monkey’–connects us, he hopes, with a fellow primate.

Gear and Settings: Canon EOS-1D X + 500mm f4 lens; 1/1000 sec at f7.1; ISO1250; Manfrotto tripod + Benrogimbal head.

Winner, Behavior, Amphibians and Reptiles: 'Life in Balance' by Jaime Culebras (Spain)

Jaime Culebras/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: A Manduriacu glass frog snacks on a spider in the foothills of the Andes, northwestern Ecuador. As big consumers of invertebrates, glass frogs play a key part in maintaining balanced ecosystems. That night, Jaime’s determination to share his passion for them had driven him to walk for four hours, in heavy rain, through the forest to reach the frogs’ streams in Manduriacu Reserve. But the frogs were elusive and the downpour was growing heavier and heavier. Ashe turned back, he was thrilled to spot one small frog clinging to a branch, its eyes like shimmering mosaics.

Not only was it eating – he had photographed glass frogs eating only once before –but it was also a newly discovered species. Distinguished by the yellow spots on its back and lack of webbing between its fingers, the Manduriacu frog is found only in this small area. The reserve is private but seriously threatened by mining activities permitted by the government (open-pit mining for gold and copper), as well as illegal logging, and the new frog is considered critically endangered.

Serenaded by a frog chorus in torrential rain – he held his umbrella and flash in one hand and the camera in the other – Jaime captured the first ever picture of this species feeding.

Camera + Settings: Sony ILCE-7M3 + 90mm f2.8 lens; 1/100 sec at f16; ISO 320; Yongnuo flash + trigger; softbox.

Winner, Behavior, Birds: 'Great Crested Sunrise' by Jose Luis Ruiz Jiménez (Spain)

Jose Luis Ruiz Jiménez/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: After several hours up to his chest in water in a lagoon near Brozas, in the west of Spain, Jose Luis captured this intimate moment of a great crested grebe family. His camera floated on a U-shaped platform beneath the small camouflaged tent that also hid his head. The grebes are at their most elegant in the breeding season–ornate plumage, crests on their heads, neck feathers that they can fan into ruffs, striking red eyes and pink-tinged bills. They build a nest of aquatic plant material, often among reeds at the edge of shallow water.

To avoid predators, their chicks leave the nest within a few hours of hatching, hitching a snug ride on a parent’s back. Here the backlings will live for the next two to three weeks, being fed as fast as their parents can manage. Even when a youngster has grown enough to be able to swim properly, it will still be fed, for many more weeks, until it fledges.

This morning, the parent on breakfast duty – after chasing fish and invertebrates under water–emerged with damp feathers and a tasty meal, just when not a breath of wind rippled the water and the stripy-headed chick stretched out of its sanctuary, open‑beaked, to claim the fish. In soft light and muted reflections, Jose Luis was able to reveal the fine detail of these graceful birds and their attentive parental care.

Camera + Settings: Nikon D4S + 600mm f4 lens + 1.4x teleconverter; 1/800 sec at f6.3; ISO 500; floating hide.

Winner, Behavior, Invertebrates: 'A Tale of Two Wasps' by Frank Deschandol (France)

Frank Deschandol/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: This remarkable simultaneous framing of a red-banded sand wasp (left) and a cuckoo wasp, about to enter next-door nest holes, is the result of painstaking preparation. The female Hedychrum cuckoo wasp –just 6 millimetres long (less than 1/4inch) – parasitizes the nests of certain solitary digger wasps, laying her eggs in her hosts’ burrows so that her larvae can feast on their eggs or larvae and then the food stores.

The much larger red-banded sand wasp lays her eggs in her own burrow, which she provisions with caterpillars, one for each of her young to eat when they emerge. Frank’s original aim was to photograph the vibrant cuckoo wasp, its colors created by the refraction of light from its cuticle (tough enough to withstand the attack of the wasps it parasitizes). In a sandy bank on a brownfield site near his home in Normandy, northern France, he located tiny digger wasp burrows suitable for a cuckoo wasp to use and out of full sun, which would have let too much light into the camera.

He then set up an infrared beam that, when broken by a wasp, would trigger the super fast shutter system he had built using an old hard drive and positioned in front of the lens (the camera’s own shutter would have been too slow). Despite the extremely narrow depth of field and tiny subjects, he captured not only the cuckoo wasp but also the sand wasp. Though these two species don’t regularly interact, Frank was gifted a perfectly balanced composition by the insects’ fortuitous flight paths to their nest holes.

Camera + Settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 100mm f2.8 lens + close-up 250D lens + reverse-mounted lens; 5 sec at f13; ISO 160; customized high-speed shutter system; six wireless flashes + Fresnel lenses; Yongnuo wireless flash trigger; Keyence infrared sensor + Meder Reed relay +amplifier; Novoflex MagicBalance + home-made tripod.

Winner, Under Water: 'The Golden Moment' by Songda Cai (China)

Songda Cai/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: A tiny diamondback squid paralarva flits below in the blackness, stops hunting for an instant when caught in the light beam, gilds itself in shimmering gold and then moves gracefully out of the light. The beam was Songda’s, on a night‑dive over deep water, far off the coast of Anilao, in the Philippines. He never knows what he might encounter in this dark, silent world.

All sorts of larvae and other tiny animals –zooplankton–migrate up from the depths under cover of night to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton, and after them come other predators. Diamondback squid are widespread in tropical and subtropical oceans, preying on fish, other squid and crustaceans near the surface. In November, hundreds gather off Anilao to spawn.

A paralarva is the stage between hatchling and subadult, already recognizable as a squid, here 6–7 centimetres long (21/2inches). Transparent in all stages, a diamondback squid swims slowly, propelled by undulations of its triangular fins (the origin of their name), but by contracting its powerful mantles, it can spurt away from danger.

Chromatophores (organs just below the skin) contain elastic sacs of pigment that stretch rapidly into discs of color when the muscles around them contract; recent research suggests that they may also reflect light. Deeper in the skin, iridophores reflect and scatter light, adding an iridescent sheen. From above, Songda captured the fleeting moment when, hovering in perfect symmetry, the diamondback paralarva turned to gold.

Camera + Settings: Nikon D850 + 60mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f20; ISO 500; Seacam housing; Seaflash 150D strobes; Scubalamp lights.

Winner, Earth's Environments: 'Etna's River of Fire' by Luciano Gaudenzio (Italy)

Luciano Gaudenzio/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: From a great gash on the southern flank of Mount Etna, lava flows within a huge lava tunnel, re-emerging further down the slope as an incandescent red river, veiled in volcanic gases. To witness the scene, Luciano and his colleagues had trekked for several hours up the north side of the volcano, through stinking steam and over ash-covered chaotic rocky masses –the residues of past eruptions. A wall of heat marked the limit of their approach.

Luciano describes the show that lay before him as hypnotic, the vent resembling ‘an open wound on the rough and wrinkled skin of a huge dinosaur’. It was 2017, and he had been on the nearby island of Stromboli to photograph eruptions there when he heard news of the new vent on what is Europe’s largest volcano. He took the very next ferry, hoping he would arrive in time to see the peak of the latest show.

Mount Etna, which lies on the boundary between the African and Eurasian continental plates, has been erupting continuously for almost 30 years, with shows that include lava flows and lava fountains – just the most recent phase in 15,000 years of volcanic activity, but a warning of its power.

What Luciano most wanted to capture was the drama of the lava river flowing into the horizon. The only way to do that was to wait until just after sunset–‘the blue hour’–when contrasting shadows would cover the side of the volcano and, with a long exposure, he could set the incandescent flow against the blue gaseous mist to capture ‘the perfect moment.'

Camera + Settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24mm f3.5 lens; 1 sec at f16; ISO 320; Leofoto tripod + ball head.

Winner, Wildlife Photojournalism, Single Image: 'Show Business' by Kirsten Luce (United States)

Kirsten Luce/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: One hand raised signaling the bear to stand, the other holding a rod, the trainer directs the ice-rink show. A wire muzzle stops the polar bear biting back, and blue safety netting surrounds the circus ring. It’s a shocking sight–not because of the massive predator towering over the petite woman in her ice-skating outfit but because of the uneven power dynamic expressed by the posture of the bear and the knowledge that it is not performing by choice.

But for the visitors to the traveling Russian circus –here in the city of Kazan, Tatarstan – it is entertainment. They are ignorant of how the polar bear has been trained and what it might endure behind the scenes – including the fact that, when not performing, it probably spends most of its time in a transportation cage. The polar bear is one of four females, reportedly captured in Russia’s Franz Josef Land when two years old (‘abandoned’, according to the trainer) and still performing 18 years later – valuable property for the Circus on Ice, the only circus known to own polar bears.

For the photographer, who has spent a couple of years reporting on animal exploitation and abuse, this was the most symbolically shocking of all the scenes of exploitation she has shot, featuring as it does such an Arctic icon of wildness.

Camera + Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 70–200mm f2.8 lens; 1/500 sec at f4; ISO 2000.

Winner, Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award: 'Backroom Business' by Paul Hilton (United Kingdom/Australia)

Paul Hilton/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: A young pig-tailed macaque is put on show chained to a wooden cage in Bali’s bird market, Indonesia. Its mother and the mothers of the other youngsters on show, would have been killed. Pig‑tailed macaques are energetic, social primates living in large troops in forests throughout Southeast Asia. As the forests are destroyed, they increasingly raid agricultural crops and are shot as pests. The babies are then sold into a life of solitary confinement as a pet, to a zoo or for biomedical research.

Having convinced the trader that he was interested in buying the monkey, Paul photographed it in the dark backroom using a slow exposure. Much of the illegal wildlife in the open‑air bird market is traded in the backroom areas. Macaques can be legally sold; banned species such as baby orangutans are kept boxed out of sight. Such animal markets facilitate the international illegal trade, supplying on demand what isn’t in stock. So many animals stacked so close together also facilitates the spread of disease.

Camera + Gear: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II + 16–35mm lens at 16mm; 1/10sec at f3.2; ISO 1600.

Winner, Rising Star Portfolio: 'Eleonora's Gift' by Alberto Fantoni (Italy)

Alberto Fantoni/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: On the steep cliffs of a Sardinian island, a male Eleonora’s falcon brings his mate food – a small migrant, probably a lark, snatched from the sky as it flew over the Mediterranean. These falcons – medium-sized hawks – choose to breed on cliffs and small islands along the Mediterranean coast in late summer, specifically to coincide with the mass autumn migration of small birds as they cross the sea on their way to Africa.

The males hunt at high altitudes, often far offshore, and take a wide range of small migrants on the wing, including various warblers, shrikes, nightingales and swifts. Outside the breeding season, and on windless days when passing migrants are scarce, they feed on large insects. When the chicks are fledged, they all head south to overwinter in Africa, mainly on Madagascar.

Alberto was watching from a hide on San Pietro Island, from where he could photograph the adults on their cliff-top perch. He couldn’t see the nest, which was a little way down the cliff in a crevice in the rocks, but he could watch the male (much smaller and with yellow around his nostrils) pass on his prey, observing that he always seemed reluctant to give up his catch without a struggle.

Camera + Gear: Canon EOS 7D Mark II + 500mm f4.5 lens; 1/2000 sec at f7.1 (+1 e/v); ISO 800; hide.

Winner, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award: 'The Last Bite' by Ripan Biswas (India)

Ripan Biswas/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: These two ferocious predators don’t often meet. The giant riverine tiger beetle pursues prey on the ground, while weaver ants stay mostly in the trees–but if they do meet, both need to be wary. When an ant colony went hunting small insects on a dry riverbed in Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India, a tiger beetle began to pick off some of the ants. In the heat of the midday sun, Ripan lay on the sand and edged closer.

The beetle’s bulging eyes excel at spotting invertebrate prey, which it sprints towards so fast that it has to hold its antennae out in front to avoid obstacles. Its bright orange spots – structural color produced by multiple transparent reflecting layers–may be a warning to predators that it uses poison (cyanide) for protection. At more than 12 millimetres long (half an inch), it dwarfed the weaver ants. In defence, one bit into the beetle’s slender hind leg. The beetle swiftly turned and, with its large, curved mandibles, snipped the ant in two, but the ant’s head and upper body remained firmly attached.

‘The beetle kept pulling at the ant’s leg,’ says Ripan, ‘trying to rid itself of the ant’s grip, but it couldn’t quite reach its head.’ He used flash to illuminate the lower part of the beetle, balancing this against the harsh sunlight, as he got his dramatic, eye-level shot.

Camera + Gear: Nikon D5200 + Tamron 90mm f2.8 lens; 1/160 sec at f8; ISO 160; Viltrox ring flash.

Winner, 10 Years and Under: 'Perfect Balance' by Andrés Luis Dominguez Blanco (Spain)

Andrés Luis Dominguez Blanco/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: In Spring, the meadows near Andrés’ home in Ubrique, in Andalucia, Spain, are bright with flowers, such as these sweet-scented sulla vetches. Andrés had walked there a few days earlier and seen European stonechats hunting for insects, but they were on the far side of the meadow. He regularly sees and hears stonechats, their calls like two stones tapping together.

They are widespread throughout central and southern Europe, some – such as those around Andrés’ home–resident year round, others overwintering in northern Africa. Andrés asked his dad to drive to the meadow and park so he could use the car as a hide, kneel on the back seat and, with his lens on the window sill, shoot through the open windows. He was delighted to see stonechats flying close by, alighting on any stem or stalk as a vantage point to look for worms, spiders and insects.

It was already late in the day, and the sun had gone down, but it seemed that the low light intensified the birds’ colors. He watched this male closely. It often landed on branches or the top of small bushes, but this time it perched on a flower stem, which began to bend under its delicate weight. The stonechat kept perfect balance and Andrés framed his perfect composition.

Camera + Gear: Fujifilm X-H1 + XF 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens; 1/50 sec at f5.6; ISO 800.

Winner, 11 – 14 Years Old: 'A Mean Mouthful' by Sam Sloss (Italy/United States)

Sam Sloss/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: On a diving holiday in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Sam stopped to watch the behavior of a group of clownfishes as they swam with hectic and repeated patterns in and out and around their home, a magnificent anemone. He was intrigued by the expression of one individual, the result of its mouth being constantly open, holding something.

Clownfish are highly territorial, living in small groups within an anemone. The anemone’s stinging tentacles protect the clownfish and their eggs from predators – a clownfish itself develops a special layer of mucus to avoid being stung. In return, the tenants feed on debris and parasites within the tentacles and aerate the water around them and may also deter anemone‑eating fish.

Rather than following the moving fish in his viewfinder, Sam positioned himself where he knew it would come back into the frame. It was only when he downloaded the photos that he saw tiny eyes peeping out of its mouth. It was a ‘tongue-eating louse’, a parasitic isopod that swims in through the gills as a male, changes sex, grows legs and attaches itself to the base of the tongue, sucking blood. When the tongue withers and drops off, the isopod takes its place. Its presence may weaken its host, but the clownfish can continue to feed.

Sam’s image, the reward for his curiosity, captures the three very different life forms, their lives intertwined.

Camera + Gear: Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f18; ISO 200; Nauticam Housing + two INON Z-240 strobes.

Winner, 15 – 17 Years Old: 'The Fox that Got the Goose' by Liina Heikkinen (Finland)

Liina Heikkinen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Artist Statement: It was on a summer holiday in Helsinki that Liina, then aged 13, heard about a large fox family living in the city suburbs on the island of Lehtisaari. The island has both wooded areas and fox-friendly citizens, and the foxes are relatively unafraid of humans. So Liina and her father spent one long July day, without a hide, watching the two adults and their six large cubs, which were almost the size of their parents, though slimmer and lankier.

In another month, the cubs would be able to fend for themselves, but in July they were only catching insects and earthworms and a few rodents, and the parents were still bringing food for them –larger prey than the more normal voles and mice. It was 7pm when the excitement began, with the vixen’s arrival with a barnacle goose.

Feathers flew as the cubs began fighting over it. One finally gained ownership–urinating on it in its excitement. Dragging the goose into a crevice, the cub attempted to eat its prize while blocking access to the others. Lying just metres away, Liina was able to frame the scene and capture the expression of the youngster as it attempted to keep its hungry siblings at bay.

Camera + Gear: Nikon D4 + 28–300mm f3.5–5.6 lens; 1/125 sec at f5.6 (-0.3 e/v); ISO 1600.

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm X-S10 pre-production sample gallery (DPReview TV)

Sat, 10/17/2020 - 06:00
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Our team at DPReview TV just finished their review of the Fujifilm X-S10, capturing a lot of images along the way. Take a look at their sample photos from the Canadian Rockies.

View the Fujifilm X-S10 pre-production sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Video: This is what happens when you make a bullet-time rig out of 15 Raspberry Pi cameras

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 11:52

Canadian photographer Eric Paré has built a bullet-time rig using 15 Raspberry Pi cameras synchronised to record pictures at exactly the same moment from different angles. The cameras then create a series of images that show the subject, usually someone jumping in the air it seems, from multiple viewpoints. These images can then be put together as a video to show the person frozen in mid-air as the camera appears to pan around them. The technique, made popular by the fight scenes in the movie The Matrix, requires that the cameras used are all pointing at exactly the same spot and that the shutters are tripped either at the same moment or in sequence.

Eric usually uses a collection of EOS DSLRs for his bullet-time videos but thought it would be interesting to use the tiny Raspberry Pi cameras as the lenses can be placed much closer together to create smoother motion in the final video. To do this he mounted 15 cameras on an aluminium rail and synchronised them using a single dashboard that could also control the settings of each camera.

Problems arose due to the wide angle lens of the Raspberry Pi camera and because the cameras are mounted on their PCB using a gum glue that doesn’t hold them in a specific position. This meant that while the boards were all facing the right way the cameras were not, and the footage produced was jerky. Eric solved this issue by remounting all the camera units directly to the boards using a thin adhesive.

Each camera in the rig was connected to the laptop via an Ethernet cable to a switch and Eric triggered the set-up using a Bluetooth presenter controller. He says he didn’t need to make any custom electronics for the rig when shooting with continuous lighting, but he did make a new control board to fit in the rig when he wanted to use flash.

For this experiment Eric used the Pi 3B+ with version 2 of the Raspberry Pi camera module. He says the same set-up would also work with the newer High Quality Pi camera with its 12MP sensor and interchangeable C-Mount lens system.

See Eric’s website for more of his work.

Categories: Photo News

Skylum shows off new water reflections in Luminar AI's Sky AI feature

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 10:32
Image credit: Iurie Belegurschi

Last year, Skylum Software added a new feature to Luminar, AI Sky Replacement. The fully automatic feature, powered by artificial intelligence, can almost instantly replace the sky in an image and relight the overall scene. Next year in Luminar AI, Skylum is taking the feature even further with its new Sky AI tool. Sky AI will add a much-requested feature, water reflections.

Skylum has published a new blog post and video, seen further below, showing off how water reflection will work in 2021 when it is added to Luminar AI, which is scheduled to release this year. As is the case with AI Sky Replacement, Sky AI and its water reflections feature will be fully automated.

Sky AI 1.0 (left) versus Sky AI 2.0 (right). Sky AI 2.0 includes the new water reflections functionality. Image credit: Elia Locardi

With Sky AI, when the software detects water in your scene and you replace the sky, Luminar AI will ensure that the new sky is accurately reflected in the water. As Skylum writes, 'That means no more duplicating your scene, flipping it and applying a bunch of masking to make it look realistic.' The reflected sky will also adapt on the fly to your selected relight settings and be 'blurred into the scene without any manual work from you.'

Further, any details in the water in your scene, such as waterbirds, will stay in your scene and not be overwritten by the reflected sky. Sky AI recognizes the objects in your image and works to preserve fine details in a scene. You can check out the upcoming feature in the preview video below.

As you can see in the video above, Sky AI has a similar selection of sliders to what's currently available in Luminar 4's AI Sky Replacement tool. However, Skylum has added Water Reflection and Water Ripples sliders. You can control the intensity of the reflection and even add user-adjustable ripples to the reflection by using these new sliders.

Image credit: Daniel Kordan

In addition to the new water reflection capabilities of Sky AI, Skylum is also adding the ability to browse through your library of skies in a thumbnail viewer in 2021. The browser will show you a preview of each sky, whereas in Luminar 4, you have a list of the names of different skies, but no visual preview.

Sky AI is one of many exciting new features coming to Luminar AI. You can discover more about Skylum's Luminar AI and view preorder options by clicking here.

Categories: Photo News

Atomos is working on a Ninja V update to bring 12-bit 4K/30p ProRes RAW to Nikon Z6 II, Z7 II cameras

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 08:33

The cameras haven’t even his the shelves of retailers yet and already Atomos has announced its Ninja V monitor/recorder will support ProRes RAW recording over HDMI on Nikon’s forthcoming Z6 II and Z7 II camera systems.

While both the Z6 II and Z7 II have respectable internal recording capabilities in their own right — 4K/60p for the Z7 II out of the box and with the Z6 II via a future firmware update — the addition of ProRes RAW recording further adds to the creative capabilities of Nikon’s latest mirrorless cameras.

Atomos says both the Z6 II and Z7 II will be able to output up to 4K/30p 12-bit ProRes RAW video over HDMI to the Atomos Ninja V recorder when it receives an AtomOS firmware update later this year. Atomos also notes that Nikon’s N-Log profile is fully supported in its AtomHDR monitoring pipeline ‘with the ability to add built in 709 preview, custom 3D LUTs and LOG to HDR conversion for both monitoring and output.’

You can keep up to date with the latest AtomOS firmware updates on Atomos’ support page.

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review: the best easy-to-use Instax Mini model

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 06:00
Fujifilm Instax Mini 11
$60-70 | Instaxus.com

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 is a fresh entry-level instant camera from Fujifilm and a refinement of the Instax Mini 9 (there is no Mini 10). As the name suggests the camera makes use of the Instax Mini film format.

Improvements include a new 'Selfie Mode' and better auto exposure compared to its predecessor. But unlike its higher-end siblings, the Mini 25/26, Mini 70 and Mini 90, there are no additional creative exposure modes or special features to speak of. That said, the camera is simple to operate and capable of producing lovely images in a variety of lighting conditions.

Key specs:
  • Retractable 35mm equiv. F12.7 lens
  • Full-automatic exposure control (flash always fires)
  • Variable shutter speeds from 1/2 to 1/250 sec and slow synchro flash for low light
  • Selfie mirror on front of lens
  • Selfie/close-up mode
  • Auto frame counter
  • Powered by two AA batteries (100 shots / 10 packs per fresh set of batteries)
  • Available in: Blush Pink, Ice White, Sky Blue, Lilac Purple, Charcoal Black
Operation The Mini 11 comes with two accessory buttons you can affix to the shutter release via double sided tape (included). I attached the glow in the dark button (shown above).

The Instax Mini 11 is really straightforward to use, making it a great choice for kids. Simply press the button next to the lens to pop it out, switch the camera on and hit the shutter button by the viewfinder to take a photo; there are no other buttons to fumble with. When you're done, push the lens back into the body to turn it off.

The Instax Mini 11 is really straightforward to use, making it a great choice for kids

The camera does a have a selfie mode as well as a small selfie mirror on the front of the lens. To engage the mode, pull the very front of the lens outward until the words 'Selfie on' appear (see image below); it admittedly took some digging through the instructions to figure this out.

Usability Selfie mode = engaged.

The camera is, by default, held in the vertical orientation, making it good for portraiture. The viewfinder is a bit small, but that's par for the course with these Instax Mini format cameras.

In use, I found the shutter button can be easy to bump accidentally, and given the high cost of film, that's a bummer. Fujifilm does include two accessory shutter releases that affix to the button via double-sided tape – one glows in the dark! Installation is tricky, but once attached, I did find my self less likely to pop off an unintended frame.

The shutter button can be easy to bump accidentally and given the high cost of film, that's a bummer

Another note about usability: the selfie mode mechanism is a bit hard to engage and feels like it could be a fail point of the camera. It takes a good bit of force to yank the lens forward into selfie mode and retracting the lens after selfie mode has been engaged is a fiddly affair.

The Instax Mini 11 is held in the vertical orientation. Image quality Selfie shot in the camera's standard mode. Focus is a little soft, but the exposure is on the money. Selfie shot using the selfie mode. The subjects are sharp but the exposure is hot.

Image quality from the Mini 11 is good through-and-through. The camera handles balancing ambient light with its flash output with ease, in most shooting scenarios. The addition of variable shutter speeds and slow synchro flash definitely seem to give it more versatility in tricky lighting than Mini 9, which has a fixed shutter speed of 1/60 sec.

When shooting in bright daylight, the inability to turn off the flash from firing can be annoying. There's also no infinity mode, so shots in which the subject is far away can look a tad soft (see examples in the gallery below).

Using the selfie mode can sometimes result in blown highlights

Like most Instax Mini cameras, the Mini 11 produces its best images in good and moderate lighting conditions with subjects at relatively close distances (within the maximum flash range of 2.7 m / 8.85 ft). Shots in very low light tend to come out darker than desired. This is where some sort of exposure compensation would be useful. The Mini 25/26 and Mini 70, for instance, both offer a 'High Key' mode that adds +2/3rds exposure compensation.

I'm tempted to say skip the selfie mode all together. From my testing, a selfie in normal mode seems to produce a better exposure, though focus may be a tad soft. Using the dedicated selfie mode can sometimes result in blown highlights. That being said, I did have some success using the selfie mode for close-up subjects, like the pup shot leading the gallery below (which was shot in a very dark room).

$(document).ready(function() { SampleGalleryV2({"containerId":"embeddedSampleGallery_1269539701","galleryId":"1269539701","isEmbeddedWidget":true,"selectedImageIndex":0,"isMobile":false}) }); Conclusion

Ultimately, the Instax Mini 11 is for those seeking the easiest-to-use instant camera for the most popular instant film format. The addition of more reliable auto exposure is appreciated. And though I have hesitations about the selfie mode, my guess is most folks who didn't read the instructions will never even find it. And that's just fine.

The Instax Mini 11 is for those seeking the easiest-to-use instant camera for the most popular instant film format

For those desiring something with more creative control, we highly recommend spending a few more bucks and getting the Instax Mini 70, which is more feature-rich and our choice as the best Instax Mini camera, for the most people.

What we like:
  • Very easy-to-use
  • Powered by two AA batteries
  • Improved auto exposure over predecessor
What we don't like:
  • No creative modes or exposure compensation
  • Easy to accidentally hit shutter before installing accessory button
  • Mechanism to engage 'Selfie Mode' feels fragile
  • Flash always fires
Categories: Photo News

Sony brings its Imaging Edge Webcam utility to macOS, updates Windows version

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 11:40

Sony has announced the release of a macOS version of its Imaging Edge Webcam utility as well as an update for the Windows version.

Back in August, Sony followed in the footsteps of other manufacturers with the announcement of Imaging Edge Webcam, a utility that turned three dozen Sony cameras into webcams without the need of a capture card. At the time, the utility was Windows-only, but it’s now available for macOS.

Much like the Windows version, the macOS version (1.0) makes it easy to turn one of the following Sony camera systems into a dedicated webcam by simply connecting it over USB:

α: E-mount(ILCE-)
  • ILCE-7M2
  • ILCE-7M3
  • ILCE-7RM2
  • ILCE-7RM3
  • ILCE-7RM4
  • ILCE-7S
  • ILCE-7SM2
  • ILCE-7SM3
  • ILCE-9
  • ILCE-9M2
  • ILCE-5100
  • ILCE-6100
  • ILCE-6300
  • ILCE-6400
  • ILCE-6500
  • ILCE-6600
α: A-mount(ILCA-)
  • ILCA-77M2
  • ILCA-99M2
  • ILCA-68
Digital Still Camera(DSC-/Vlog camera)
  • DSC-HX95
  • DSC-HX99
  • DSC-RX0
  • DSC-RX0M2
  • DSC-RX100M4
  • DSC-RX100M5
  • DSC-RX100M5A
  • DSC-RX100M6
  • DSC-RX100M7
  • DSC-RX10M2
  • DSC-RX10M3
  • DSC-RX10M4
  • DSC-RX1RM2
  • DSC-WX700
  • DSC-WX800
  • ZV-1

The Windows version has also received a 1.1 update. No specific changes were mentioned, but it’s safe to assume there were a number of bugs dealt with.

You can download both the macOS (1.0) and Windows (1.1) versions of Imaging Edge Webcam from Sony’s website.

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm to improve X-T3 AF performance with new firmware, bringing it more in line with X-T4

Thu, 10/15/2020 - 09:52

In addition to announcing a camera, lens and more, Fujifilm has also revealed it will soon release a free firmware update for its X-T3 that will improve autofocus performance and more.

The firmware update will go live on October 28, according to Fujifilm’s press release. The improvements should see autofocus speeds more than double, taking focus times drop from 0.06 seconds to 0.02 seconds, bringing the X-T3’s autofocus performance more in line with the X-T4.

Fujifilm says it’s also improved the algorithm for predicting subject movements, which should result in a >90% ‘hit rate.’ The Face Tracking and Eye AF algorithm has also been re-written to double the tracking performance in continuous shooting modes.

Other improvements include the ability to use AF in low light levels down to -7EV with the new Fujinon XF 50mm F1.0 R WR lens, a new ‘Focus Limiter’ feature for setting pre-determined focus ranges, the ability to change the size of Single AF points while recording video and improvements that make it possible for third-party programs to read the ratings applied to pictures in-camera.

We will update this article when the firmware is released.

Categories: Photo News

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