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Adobe's Project 'Deep Fill' is an incredible, AI-powered Content Aware Fill

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 07:00

The coolest technology to come out of Adobe MAX is, sadly, not the technology we already have access to. Like Adobe's Project Cloak we showed you earlier today, it's the incredible 'Sneaks' sneak peeks that really wow the audience. Case in point: check out Project Deep Fill, a much more powerful, AI-driven version of Content Aware Fill that makes the current tool look like crap... to put it lightly.

Deep Fill is powered by the Adobe Sensei technology—which "uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning"—and trained using millions of real-world images. So while Content Aware Fill has to work with the pixels at hand to 'guess' what's behind the object or person you're trying to remove, Deep Fill can use its training images to much more accurately create filler de novo.

The examples used in the demo video above are impressive to say the least:

And just when you thought the demo is over, you find out that Deep Fill can also take into account user inputs—like sketching—to completely alter an image:

In this way it's a lot more than a 'fill' feature. In fact, Adobe calls it "a new deep neural network-based image in-painting system." Check out the full demo for yourself above, and then read all about the other 'Sneaks' presented at Adobe MAX here.

Categories: Photo News

LEE's new Reverse ND filters help you tame that bright horizon

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 13:40

LEE Filters has launched three new Reverse ND filters that are designed to reduce horizon exposure by up to 4 stops, helping you get 'perfectly balanced' sunrise and sunset photos.

What distinguishes a Reverse ND from a regular graduated ND filter is that the center of these filters are most opaque, becoming clearer and clearer as you 'fade' to the top of the filter. This makes them ideal for scenes where the sun sits close to the horizon. And unlike competing Reverse ND filters, LEE claims that its versions have an "extremely smooth and gradual" transition so that the resulting images don't appear to have a strong dark stripe in the middle.

Here they are demonstrated by photographer Mark Bauer, who worked with LEE to develop this range of Reverse ND filters that he says, "do the job properly" without the harsh transitions he's noticed when using other brands:

The new filters are offered in 0.6, 0.9, and 1.2 strengths representing 2, 3, and 4 stops of exposure reduction, respectively. As well, all three filters are hand-manufactured for 100mm, Seven5, and SW150 systems. LEE says its Reverse ND filters work best when used with lenses that are at least 24mm wide.

The filters are currently available for preorder at the following prices:

Seven5: $125 / £81.80
100mm: $175 / £114.34
SW150: $200 / £125.56

To learn more, head over to the LEE Filters website by clicking here.

Categories: Photo News

Photographer sues New York Times over age discrimination and 'full-time freelancer' status

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 13:19
Photo by Haxorjoe

The New York Times and its photography director Michele McNally have been hit with a lawsuit by former Times' photographer Robert Stolarik. The lawsuit claims that Stolarik, age 48, was discriminated against due to his age, and was also misclassified as a 'full-time freelancer' for nearly a decade.

According to the complaint—which was filed on July 6th in New York and covered at that time by Bloomberg BNA—Stolarik began working for the Times as a photographer in Colombia in 2000, followed by additional work in Venezuela until 2002. Stolarik then resumed working for the Times in 2004, the legal document explains, ultimately resulting in nearly a decade of full-time work.

However, despite working full-time, the lawsuit claims that Stolarik was paid under a 1099-MISC form as a freelancer—a classification that deprived Stolarik of the benefits that would have come with full-time employment, including health insurance.

The complaint alleges that editors managed Stolarik in the same manner as employees, including giving specific start times for his assignments which regularly comprised 8-hour shifts. Stolarik claims that he was denied overtime pay for extended shifts and that he was not compensated for the time he was required to spend editing photos outside of his assignment hours.

The allegations continue from there, claiming that Stolarik 'regularly sought' a staff photographer position with the NYT, making his desires known both in writing and orally. Age discrimination allegedly prevented him from getting a full-time role with the company, though. The complaint states that "Stolarik was told on numerous occasions by various editors that he was too old" to get the staff position he sought.

One Times editor is accused of having asked Stolarik if he was under 30 years old, abandoning an effort to get him a staff position after learning that he was, at the time, 37. Another editor reportedly told Stolarik that he should be 'concerned about' his age in regards to his desire for a staff position, telling him on multiple occasions that he was too old to be an employee.

During his years spent freelancing for the Times, the lawsuit states that Stolarik's requests for a staff role were ignored in favor of hiring photographers who were under the age of 30. The lawsuit also claims that the Times regularly gave assignments to its freelancers under the age of 30 versus its freelancers over the age of 30.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that the Times denied Stolarik assignments due to a wrongful arrest he suffered in the Bronx while on assignment for the company. Per the complaint, an NYPD officer had ordered Stolarik to stop taking photographs. The altercation resulted in Stolarik's 'violent arrest,' which snowballed into the Times' alleged decision to decrease the photographer's assignments with the company.

Finally, the lawsuit also states that Stolarik's lawyer sent a letter to the Times' general counsel claiming that he had been discriminated against due to the arrest he suffered while on assignment, as well as his age. This complaint allegedly resulted in McNally ordering Times editors to stop giving Stolarik assignments altogether.

Among other things, the lawsuit seeks back pay, unpaid wages, overtime pay, and unpaid benefits in actual damages totaling at least $500,000, as well as compensatory damages, interest, costs and disbursements.

As Ramin Talaie points out on Medium, this lawsuit serves to highlight growing issues with the so-called 'gig economy,' which classifies workers as independent contractors despite work arrangements that may mirror that of employees. The classification gives companies a way to save money, but saddles the worker with self-employment tax while eliminating the protections and benefits that come from employee classification.

The full complaint can be read here.

Categories: Photo News

Irix announces 100mm filter system for wide angle lenses

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:24

Lens manufacturer Irix announced earlier today that it plans to release a filter holder and a collection of filters in 100x100mm and 100x150mm sizes—a system designed especially to fit its 15mm F2.4 lens. The holder accepts a special bayonet mount adapter to attach to the front of the 15mm lens, while a range of additional screw thread adapters will allow the holder to be used with other lenses.

The Irix Edge 100 system will consist of a dual slot holder that the company claims is the lightest in its class. The holder is made from ‘aluminium alloy’ and features a rotating joint to allow easy positioning of graduated filters and polarisers.

Irix says that the holder, called the IFH-100, has a profile that’s slim enough to avoid mechanical vignetting even when two filters are held in front of the 15mm lens, and that a layer of black velvet covering the forward surfaces prevents light leak during long exposures.

The filter system includes 2mm-thick filters in the 100x100mm and 100x150mm sizes—to begin with the company will launch mostly NDs, ND grads and a polarizer, but has plans to offer a filter that cuts the effect of pollution. The holder accepts filters from other systems as well, and the company plans to offer adapter rings for lenses with threads of between 67mm and 82mm. Irix already has a series of circular screw-in filters under the Edge brand.

Price and availability have yet to be announced. For more information visit the Irix website.

Press Release

Irix presents its Edge 100 filter system

The TH Swiss company would like to announce the expansion of its range of Irix accessories with the Edge 100 series filter system. Among new products, there will be a versatile holder – the IFH-100 - with dedicated adapters and a wide choice of 100x100mm and 100x150mm filters.

The Irix Edge IFH-100 filter holder

The Irix IFH-100 is a universal filter holder designed for size 100mm filters. Its lightweight compact construction and bayonet adapter are created especially for the Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens, allowing the use of two filters at the same time without any vignetting effect. The construction of the filter holder base on the removable adapters allows for quick and easily attachment to the lens, along with free rotation around the optical axis when using the graduated or polarizing filters.

The ability to use removable adapters with thread diameters from 67mm to 82mm means that the holder can be used with lenses produced by Irix in the future, along with other brands. Each adapter has an additional thread for attaching the cap to the lens.

The filter holder is made of an aluminium alloy, which guarantees the high strength and stiffness of its structure. This has enabled to get an extremely compact size while keeping wide functionality, along with an aesthetic design together with the whole Irix product line. It is worth mentioning that the IFH-100 is the lightest holder of its class. The front surface of the filter holder is covered with a light-absorbing velvet fabric that blocks access to the side light, what is especially important when using high density optical ND filters.

The Irix Edge 100 filters

With the introduction of the IFH-100 filter holder, the Edge 100 series filters will also be available in two formats. The first, size 100x150, will contain gradual filters with a soft and hard transition, and also a reversed gradual filter dedicated to taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets. These rectangular filters will be available in ND4, ND8 and ND16 versions. In the square format, Neutral Density filters with densities ND32, ND128, ND1000, ND1000K will be available for the 100x100mm, along with a polarizing filter. There are future plans by the manufacturer to introduce filters which reduce light pollution.

Edge 100 series filters have a thickness of 2mm and are made from high quality optical glass which is also used in the production of the optical elements in lenses. Filters are coated on both sides with an anti-reflective nano-coating to keep high contrast and natural colours in pictures. The additional water and oil repellent coating also ensures easy cleaning of the surface.

The premiere at Photo Plus Expo 2017

The Edge series will be available at the Irix booth (No.929) during the Photo Plus Expo in New York City on October 26-28, 2017.

The full range of new Irix Edge accessories, along with pricing and availability information, will be published in the near future.

Categories: Photo News

FAA wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked bags

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:10

The Federal Aviation Administration wants airlines to ban cameras and other electronics from checked luggage, citing the fire and explosion risk presented by the devices' lithium-ion batteries. After conducting tests involving these batteries, the FAA found that if one were heated to the point where it caught fire near an aerosol can (think: hairspray), it could result in an explosion so quick and powerful that it would render a plane's fire suppression system useless.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most common variety found in consumer electronics, and they're well known for being volatile. But in a recent paper submitted to the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the FAA highlighted tests demonstrating these batteries as a potential fire risk that, in the most extreme case, could even result in "the loss of an aircraft."

The tests found that a battery fire next to an aerosol can could cause an explosion before the plane's fire suppression system could put the fire out. That subsequent explosion could, in turn, be powerful enough to disable the suppression system, enabling the fire to grow catastrophically.

The Administration also tested battery fires next to items that are commonly placed in checked luggage, including hand sanitizer and nail polish remover, and found that they could contribute to large fires. The conclusion is straight forward: lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage could put both aircraft passengers and crew members at major risk should one of the batteries ignite... something that has happened before, albeit in the cabin.

The agency wants airlines around the world to ban these items from checked luggage, requiring passengers to put them in carry-on bags instead. The ICAO is scheduled to discuss the proposed ban during a panel taking place over the next week.

Categories: Photo News

Bye bye backpack: The Pixentu photography jacket lets you carry your gear ON you

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:51

An intriguing set of photographer-specific jackets just popped up on Kickstarter. Dubbed Pixentu, these jackets have been designed to meet the gadget-toting needs of photographers, providing an extended hoodie for the rain and a large number of pockets intended for items a photographer is likely to carry around, including memory cards, film, lenses, cards, a camera, and even a travel tripod—bye bye backpack.

Pixentu exists in three different iterations: as an outdoor jacket, a travel blazer, and a street photography jacket.

While the three varieties mostly offer the same pockets, there are some small differences. The travel blazer, for example, is a 2-in-1 combination unit that can be used as a jacket or as a vest, but lacks compartments for a tablet, travel tripod, and camera. The outdoor jacket, in comparison, doesn't transform into a vest and is a lighter option than the street photography jacket, which is better for cold temperatures.

Neither the blazer nor the outdoor jacket have the extended hoodie featured on the street photography jacket; with that hoodie, photographers can shield their camera from rain while taking a shot. Pixentu says its jackets are made from unspecified durable Japanese material, while the lens pockets are water-resistant and feature a soft lining.

The Pixentu jackets are currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where they've very nearly reached their goal. The super early bird units are offered for pledges starting at £99 / $132, and shipping to backers is estimated to start in February of 2018.

To learn more or pledge for your own, head over to the Pixentu Kickstarter page.

Categories: Photo News

Demo: Adobe's experimental 'Cloak' tech is like Content Aware Fill for video

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:28

Yesterday at Adobe MAX, the lucky attendees got to see a few of Adobe's signature "Sneaks": sneak peeks at crazy features that are in development. And chief among them this year was something code-named Adobe Cloak.

In essence, Adobe Cloak is the video-editing counterpart to Photoshop's Content Aware Fill. Simply outline the portion of your video that you would like removed—be it a stationary object or a couple walking through your scene—and Adobe Cloak will intelligently erase them from the shot. This is, of course, something VFX artists have been doing for ages, but automating the process to this degree is impressive to say the least.

Adobe sent us a few demo videos of the feature in action, which you can check out above. And if you want more details about how Adobe Cloak works/was developed, Engadget got to sit down with Adobe research engineer Geoffrey Oxholm and VFX product manager Victoria Nece to talk about the technology, which is still "in the experimental stages."

The bad news is, there's no current plans to implement it. The good news? They wouldn't be working on it if they didn't plan to implement it some time, right!?

Categories: Photo News

Flickr shuts down wall art service, moves photo book printing to Blurb

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:31

The photo sharing platform Flickr was officially acquired by Verizon in June, and it appears we are now seeing the first changes after the takeover. Flickr has announced that it will cease to offer its existing photo book and wall art printing services.

Printing services for Flickr users won't be completely shut down. Instead, photo books using Flickr images can now be printed in numerous ways via the third-party service Blurb. To make this work, your Flickr account needs to be connected to Blurb, which then allows you to browse your Flickr stream in Blurb’s online book-making tool. Book size, paper quality and image layout can all be customized, and it is of course possible to add image captions and text. The final product can be distributed via Amazon, Ingram and the Blurb Bookstore.

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent replacement for the wall art printing service.

Current Flickr Pro account holders get a $35 credit for their first Blurb order, and $35 when you renew your subscription (with a minimum purchase $70). Book or wall art orders that are currently in progress with the old system should be completed and sent in before December 1st, 2017. Afterwards, your project will be lost.

Categories: Photo News

Canon patents a huge, hinged and reversible DSLR LCD

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 07:18
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A newly published Canon Japan patent might reveal the future of Canon DSLR LCD screens... and that future is massive and flippable. Originally spotted by Canon Rumors, the patent details a hinged rear LCD that is so big it hides all of the controls on the back of the camera underneath it.

As you can see from the diagrams (or read in the patent itself) the LCD is capable of lifting upward, then reversing, and is specifically designed to avoid obstructing the camera's viewfinder. This makes it possible to view an image from the uplifted LCD and use the viewfinder during the same session.

While a hinged DSLR rear display is nothing new, Canon's patent shows a design that would allow for a large and reversible display unlike anything we've seen before. In fact, the LCD shown in the patent's illustrations covers the entire back of the camera, making it necessary to tuck the rear dial and several buttons behind it, though several others are exposed on either side of the viewfinder.

As with every patent, there's no indication of whether or not Canon has plans to incorporate this design into an upcoming camera, but it's one of the more curious Canon patents we've run across.

Categories: Photo News

More Nikon D850 samples images added

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 06:00

Our review process is based both on studio testing and real-world shooting. We make sure every camera goes through the hands of several photographers and is shot in a variety of circumstances, to give a broad representation of how the camera will perform.

All those images and experiences are considered as we draw our conclusions about a camera. So, even if you've looked through the D850 gallery before, you may well find there are shots you've not seen before. Take a look, and be sure to check out the full review if you haven't already.

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Categories: Photo News

Wiral LITE cable system lets you capture cinematic shots almost anywhere

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 11:28

A simple cable cam system called Wiral LITE has launched on Kickstarter, where the campaign has already blown away its funding goal, raising nearly a quarter-million dollars in just a few days' time. The system is comprised of a motorized, remotely-controlled device that rolls across a cable fixed to two poles or similar structures. A camera can be attached to the bottom of Wiral LITE, which itself rolls across the cable while the camera records cinematic motion shots.

The cable cam system is being presented as an alternative to portable motorized slider devices, offering the ability to record motion shots over much larger distances than the average portable slider.

Wiral LITE features a standard camera mount on the bottom and can handle camera/lens weights up to 3.3lbs / 1.5kg. The system includes a ball joint, a GoPro mount, cable, quick reel for retracting the cable, a tightening strap, end stop clips, batteries, and a battery charger.

The cable system offers multiple modes, including a time lapse mode that moves with a minimum speed of 0.006MPH, but the device's top speed is 28mph / 45kmh.

The team behind the device explains that the Wiral system takes 3 minutes to setup, which involves attaching both ends of the reel to a pair of objects, tightening the cable between the two, and then mounting the Wiral LITE onto the cable. In other words, setup is a breeze:

And once you're set up, you can capture long-range panning shots like this with ease:

Wiral LITE is being sold to backers for a pledge of $200. Bundles are also available for those who want to pledge a bit more, such as an 'Ultimate Kit' for pledges of $250 or an 'Extreme Kit' for $1,700.

To learn more or put a pledge in yourself, head over to the Kickstarter page.

Categories: Photo News

Macphun responds to Lightroom CC release, teases its own photo manager

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 09:06
Macphun's own Digital Asset Manager (DAM) is coming to Luminar in 2018... and it'll be a free upgrade. Photo: Macphun

It's no surprise that not everyone is exactly thrilled by Adobe's Lightroom announcement. The end of standalone Lightroom, and the birth of Lightroom in the cloud, has a lot of legacy users looking for a new way to organize their photos into a perpetual library they don't have to 'subscribe' to. There are already tons of options out there, but if you're a fan of Macphun's editing applications, take heart: the software company has their own solution in the works.

Earlier today, we heard from Macphun that they're working on their own Digital Asset Manager (DAM), which will work with both hard drives and cloud storage platforms.

The Luminar photo manager's single image view. Photo: Macphun

"It’s going to be a perfect tool for organizing and managing images," says Macphun. "Moreover, users will be able to run it along with LR library to compare both DAMs side by side and choose which fits them better."

Here's a quick video 'preview' (read: teaser):

The DAM will be added to Luminar in 2018, and the best part of it all is that it will be completely and totally free for current Luminar users.

For now, those are all of the details we have, but if you're unhappy with the latest update to Lightroom and you're looking for an alternative DAM and photo editor combo, check out the preview above and keep an eye on Macphun in 2018.

Categories: Photo News

AI-powered Pholio hard drive is an offline alternative to Google Photos

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 08:36

If you feel uncomfortable with your images being stored on cloud servers the Pholio device is a new offline alternative that offers many of the features we are used to from cloud services like Google Photos.

Once connected to a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone, Pholio automatically searches through the device storage and backs up all images and videos, either at full size or smaller 'optimized' versions. If you choose the latter Pholio provides a link to the full size-version.

Pholio comes as a standard version with a 500GB capacity or as a 'Pro' variant that offers 2TB of storage. 20,000 built-in descriptors allow for automatic tagging and easy searching, but the system is capable of learning if you want to add your own keywords. Face detection allows to find images and create albums for a specific person and the software is even capable of finding still shots within a video clip. The Pholio makers say an update will expand the backup services and include encryption.

You can now reserve a 500GB Pholio by pledging £200 (approximately $260) on the project's Kickstarter page. If the funding goal is reached delivery is expected for January 2018.

Categories: Photo News

The Samsung 360 Round camera can capture 360° 4K 3D video at 30fps

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 07:42

Samsung has just unveiled an interesting new gadget at their annual Samsung Developer Conference. Meet the Samsung 360 Round: a 3D VR camera.

The new device uses 17 total lenses—eight horizontally positioned stereo pairs and one upwards pointing single lens—to capture and livestream 4K 3D panoramic video at 30 frames per second. Each camera module features a 1/2.8’’ 2MP sensor and F1.8 aperture. All of this is housed in a compact and rugged (IP65 water and dust resistance) uni-body that Samsung claims can handle all weather conditions.

PC software for controlling the camera and stitching is included, and the camera features a range of interfaces for connecting external microphones, storage devices and more.

“The Samsung 360 Round is a testament to our leadership in the VR market. We have developed a product that contains innovative VR features, allowing video producers and broadcast professionals to easily produce high quality 3D content,” said Suk-Jea Hahn, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics’ Global Mobile B2B Team. “The combination of livestreaming capabilities, IP65 water and dust resistance and 17 lenses makes this camera ideal for a broad range of use cases our customers want—from livestreaming major events to filming at training facilities across various industries.”

The Samsung 360 Round will be available in October in the United States, and should be introduced to other markets over time. Samsung says the camera is aimed at VR professionals and enthusiasts, and will be 'reasonably priced'... although the company hasn't yet specified exactly what that 'reasonable' price will be. For more information, visit the Samsung website.

Categories: Photo News

Throwback Thursday: the Samsung NX1 is still impressive three years later

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 06:00

We usually dig a bit further into the past for Throwback Thursday, but decided to make an exception for the Samsung NX1. Announced just three years ago, the NX1 is the camera that still leaves us wondering what might have been had Samsung decided to remain in the camera market. Alas, we'll never know.

On paper, the NX1 had impressive specifications; the camera that landed in our laps still felt rough around the edges and a bit, well... unfinished when it arrived. Samsung diligently improved the camera through a series of firmware updates over the following months, and the NX1 ultimately became a much more refined, responsive machine.

On paper, the NX1 had impressive specifications; the camera that landed in our laps still felt rough around the edges and a bit, well... unfinished when it arrived.

The 'post-multiple-firmware-updates' version of the camera delivered technical innovation, pro-level performance, and a fantastic user experience all in a single package, earning it one of the highest scores we had ever awarded to a camera at the time, and winning the 2015 DPReview Innovation Award.

In addition to impressive performance, the NX1 held up well in extreme conditions. When shooting in 0ºF (-18ºC) conditions the camera kept going as long as I did.

We highlighted this innovation in our review of the NX1, writing "One can almost imagine a group of Samsung engineers sitting in a conference room and having the spec sheets of every leading APS-C and four thirds camera dropped in front of them, along with a directive to outperform the whole lot. And here's the crazy thing – to a certain extent they seem to have pulled it off."

The NX1 was a mirrorless camera that looked and performed like a high-end DSLR. It included a hybrid AF system with 205 phase detect autofocus points covering 90% of the frame, and in burst mode could shoot up to 15fps. Impressively, in our testing the AF system was able to keep up.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

The AF system on the NX1 was very quick to keep up, even when shooting fast moving subjects at close range at 15fps in burst mode. In this example, the camera tracked Richard with a cloud of AF points that covered his body and the bike and kept him in focus, though there are minor differences in terms of where the camera focused on him between frames. Manually selecting an single AF point would have given us more precision. (Samsung 50-150mm F2.8 S at F2.8)

It also delivered the goods when it came to image quality. Built around a 28MP BSI sensor, it held its own against the best APS-C cameras of its day. The ISO-invariant sensor also made it possible to push shadows 5EV in post without paying any additional noise cost (when shooting at base ISO).

Even the ergonomics and shooting experience were excellent. It was comfortable in the hand, with most dials and buttons in easy to reach places. The bright and crisp OLED EVF had no perceptible lag (a common challenge back then), and was the first electronic viewfinder I really fell in love with. In our review I commented, "Once I started shooting with NX1 it was easy to forget that I was using an EVF and I just got on with taking photos."

The NX1's OLED electronic viewfinder impressed us with its bright, crisp image and fast performance. Its layout was also well-designed and easy to use.

The NX1 also excelled at video. Unlike many cameras – even some the ones we encounter today – there was no sense that video was wedged in to fulfill a spec sheet requirement. On the contrary, the NX1 was clearly designed with video in mind. The interface was excellent, included tools such as peaking and zebras, and the oversampled footage exceeded the quality of the Panasonic GH4, our reference camera for video at the time.

Ironically, the only major complaint we had about the NX1's video was that it was a bit too forward looking.

Ironically, the only major complaint we had about the NX1's video was that it was a bit too forward looking: it relied on the advanced H.265 codec, something that many computers and editing systems are just now beginning to handle well.

Samsung also gets a nod for having the first (and still one of the best) Wi-Fi + Bluetooth implementations we've seen.

Video on the NX1 was outstanding, exceeding the quality of the Panasonic GH4, our reference camera for video at the time. The user interface for shooting video was also good, taking advantage of touchscreen controls for many functions.

There seemed to be a lot of commitment from Samsung to getting the NX1 right, including numerous firmware updates that improved performance and added functionality over time. (A bit ironic when you consider the fate of the camera.) Let me share one behind-the-scenes anecdote about how all those updates impacted our review of the camera.

I actually wrote two entire reviews of the NX1. The first review was less than a week from publication when Samsung released a big firmware update; it included so many performance improvements and feature updates that I had to scrap the entire review, go back and re-test the camera, then write another one. The review you read on the site was actually the second one I wrote.

Despite its age, the NX1 is still remarkably competitive with today's top APS-C cameras, and Samsung seemed to be investing a lot to develop a strong line of pro quality lenses as well. It's interesting to think of what the camera market might look like today had Samsung not exited the business.

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Categories: Photo News

Gallery: Fujifilm X-E3 sample photos

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 05:00
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The looks of a classic beauty in the body of a modern camera, the X-E3 is Fujifilm's latest rangefinder ILC and also a lot of fun to shoot with. Sporting the brand's latest 24MP sensor and offering the latest JPEG 'Film Simulations,' we took the X-E3 along on a tour of the town. Take a peek through our sample gallery to get a sense of what it is capable of, in terms of image quality.

See our Fujifilm X-E3 samples gallery

Categories: Photo News

RIP Lightroom 6: Death by subscription model

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 14:58

In all the fanfare of the launch of its more cloud integrated, edit-anywhere Lightroom CC software, Adobe has made a lot of noise about ease-of-use and faster speeds, but it also quietly made reference to the death of the standalone desktop version, Lightroom 6.

With it, it feels like Adobe is turning its back on a certain type of enthusiast photographers: those users who enjoy and care about their photography enough to buy Adobe's products, but don't need to edit 'in the field' or have clients to justify the ongoing cost of subscription software.

What's that, Granddad, software in a box? How do you get it onto your phone, then?

With the company stressing ease of use of the latest version, they probably don't see it that way, but it's clear that the user who upgrades their camera and their software only occasionally has no place in Adobe's shiny new future in the cloud.

In my look back at my excitement surrounding the development and launch of Lightroom v1.0, I said I felt that the subscription model "runs counter to the longevity benefit of building a database around my images". I stand by that.

The tension at the heart of Lightroom

As I understood it, Lightroom was almost two pieces of software in one. In part it was an attempt to provide all the tools a broad range of photographers needed, without the cost and complexity of buying Photoshop. Photoshop's success and name recognition had meant that lots of users who didn't really need most of its capabilities, felt they had to buy it. Lightroom gave them an affordable alternative, and allowed Adobe to focus on their professional users (in both photo and non-photographic fields), with Photoshop.

archiving: the creation of a long-term library of work that you might want to refer back to and perhaps update

But, equally, Lightroom was Adobe's attempt to bring an asset management tool to a wide range of photographers who suddenly found themselves generating and needing to process and store many more images than they had done before. Part of that management is archiving: the creation of a long-term library of work that you might want to refer back to and perhaps update.

The move to subscription only for Lightroom undermines both the idea of an affordable alternative also, significantly, the idea of an usable archive. While it's true that most households readily spend $10 per month for online streaming services, and many times that for mobile phone and data services, there will be a lot of users who object to the idea of having to pay, in perpetuity, for the continued ability to edit their own archives. Especially if their needs haven't necessarily changed and where there isn't necessarily an ongoing cost to the company.

most households readily spend $10 per month for online streaming services, and many times that for mobile phone and data services

Adobe seemed to recognize this when it chose to continue Lightroom 5 and then 6 as a standalone products alongside its CC software, and said it had no plans to move to subscription only. But it probably should've been obvious that this position had changed as the company buried the link to the standalone version in ever more obscure corners of its website.

Change vs long-term plans

Of course, there'll be plenty of users who are quite happy to pay for online storage and the access-and-edit-anywhere capability of the new system. Given how many attempts Adobe has made at solving this problem (I'm looking at you, Carousel/Revel), it'll probably be pretty good, despite my reservations about the effect on quality/stability that the move to constant updates has had on Photoshop. Overall, it's just unfortunate for people who don't particularly want that product.

The idea that your existing work becomes less controllable, less dynamic, is uncomfortable.

At the risk of sounding older and more curmudgeonly than I really am: it's the principle of the thing. I've never had much sympathy for people expecting perpetual upgrades from Adobe, for free: if you spend hundreds of dollars on a new camera, it seems unrealistic to expect a corporation to accommodate that choice, unpaid. After all, you still had exactly what you'd paid for.

With a subscription model, that's no longer true. Instead you end up paying for support for ever more cameras you don't have and features you don't necessarily want, in the knowledge that you'll lose most of the software's capability if, for whatever reason, you don't choose to continue your subscription. The idea that your existing work becomes less controllable, less dynamic, is uncomfortable.

Why I'll be looking for other options

The idea of losing the ability to edit my existing files, even though my needs haven't changed is obnoxious enough that I don't want to further commit myself and my images to a Lightroom database.

That means foregoing the temptation to squeeze the last life out of Lightroom 6 by using the DNG Converter that Adobe, to its credit, updates for free to retain compatibility. Because one day there'll come an operating system that LR 6 won't work with, and my supposedly long-term solution will be reduced in utility.

All purchases are ultimately a balance between what the customer wants and the company is willing to give them, for the money. With this latest move, it feels to me like that balance has been lost: the move favors Adobe much more than it benefits me. The Lightroom I loved is dead, because apparently it's not a product Adobe wants to make anymore.

Categories: Photo News

Hello Lightroom CC: Embracing the future

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 14:58

It's an inevitable truth that Adobe, like any other company, can't please everyone. Today's news of a new, all-cloud Lightroom CC has definitely ruffled some feathers among loyal users. But it might just be time to embrace the future – consider some important points here:

  • The current version of Lightroom is not going away. It's just going from CC to Classic CC. Oh, and it got much faster.

  • The standalone version of Lightroom is entering sunset. That doesn't mean you won't be able to keep using it for new cameras in the future: you'll just have to use DNG Converter to first convert your files to DNG format.*

  • To continue to benefit from updates to Lightroom, though, you'll have to go CC (Classic or not).

  • To benefit from consistent access of your entire library from every device, as well as AI features to help you manage, search, curate and more (a la Google/Apple Photos), you'll want to go with Lightroom CC.

Whether or not you like the subscription based model, either way you pay for software updates, whether it's when you buy a new version (upgrading from 5 to 6) or continually via a subscription method. Some would even argue the latter is a better user experience, as you don't have to worry about 'versions'.

Who is Lightroom CC for?

Good question. If you're a staunch NAS user or have a hard drive for each of your shoots, it's not for you. But there's a reason that Director of Product Management is calling this new release a bigger deal than even the inception of Lightroom. According to TechCrunch's conversation with Hogarty, "The new reality of photography [is one] where users tend to take a lot of their photos on their phones - and take a lot more images in general. [Many of them want] a powerful tool that allows them to communicate but doesn’t require them to spend a lot of time to learn."

In other words, Adobe is trying to find a way to be Google or Apple Photos for the both the masses, and the enthusiasts/pros. Time will tell if it'll succeed, but it's an approach that is certainly future-focused.

In fact, we expect the cloud-based version will quickly improve and gain features beyond what Classic CC will offer. The AI features will help you organize, search, curate, and maybe even edit faster by learning your tastes. With storage getting progressively cheaper, internet (upload) speeds increasing, and the decreased sales of PC/laptop and the increased expectation to be able to access your files from anywhere, this is Adobe looking to the future, while still offering the present for the foreseeable future.

This is Adobe looking to the future, while still offering the present for the foreseeable future.

Inevitably, there will be some teething pains, for which Adobe is still offering Classic CC. But we expect that in the not-too-distant future, even pros will appreciate the instant access and AI features that will ease workflows. And I, for one, will be happy to say goodbye to my hard drives (though I won't be forced to).

Understandably though, many of you have questions...

We're a studio and need multiple licenses across many computers

That's what CC business is meant for. You can have 10+ licenses with the same account across all your computers (each license serves up to 2 computers, and you can dynamically switch which two computers whenever you want). And if you're installing a standalone on more than 2 computers today, you're breaking the law. Multiple licenses are simply not an issue with CC.

I need multiple libraries, though

Do you really? Back in the days of physically limited hard-drives, many would assign one drive or another to one shoot. You can still work that way with Classic CC.

But in the future, with increased cloud storage at lower prices, and hopefully decreased internet service provider (ISP) bandwidths, that segmentation won't be necessary.** Everything will live on the cloud, and you can still organize by albums if you wish. Better yet, you'll have access to increasingly intelligent AI that will allow you to find the photos you're looking for simply by searching for the content in it (in text form). Segment as you wish, or just search.

In that world - you may not find multiple libraries as useful anymore. It's already a headache - I've gone to work on days where I needed the library on one drive that was, you guessed it, at home.

What if Adobe pulls the plug on Classic CC?

Certainly a valid suspicion. But one you may not have to be so worried about. First, we'll likely see CC rapidly catch up to Classic CC. That raises the concern if Classic CC is itself at risk of being pulled.

Maybe. But likely not for quite some time. More importantly, if Classic CC were to run off into the sunset, do you really think Adobe would only offer a cloud-based version of Lightroom?

I don't think so.

Much more likely - and this is just my opinion (and suggestion to Adobe) - would be CC simply offering an option to 'Disable cloud storage. I don't need access to my files on any device.' Done. Problem solved. Remember that CC already has an option to keep all files locally (as well as in the cloud), so retiring Classic CC would almost undoubtedly see CC gain an option to not work in the cloud. Until ISP limits are definitively not an issue and privacy concerns are completely addressed, I can't see Adobe offering no option to only work with files locally.

You can't always get what you want... but you might get what you need

This is Adobe modernizing and considering the future. And the current masses of Google and Apple Photos users that are surprised and delighted daily at the auto search and curation functionalities, or the auto-generation of collages, video clips, and sharing of shots of your kid with your immediate family. This all depends on cloud-storage and AI. It's the future, and whether or not you like it this future has a lot of potential benefits that you loathe the idea of today, but might come to rely on, nigh even need, in the future. Imagine AI learning your editing tastes and doing them for you as a starting point so you have less work to do. It's not that unreasonable to imagine, and is something even pros would appreciate.

And as long as privacy issues are considered, sharing - both with family or with clients or collaborators - becomes far easier in a cloud-only approach.

Accessing your library on multiple devices has been clunky up until now - with manual selection of images that are synced, and a different user experience of LR based on what device you're on. Lightroom CC's promise is a consistent experience across all devices, and the removal of the headache of selecting images you wish access to. Not to mention the issues with editing 'Smart Previews'.

And you might even find the perks of AI on top of this irresistible one day. But until that day, you still have options that allow you to continue working exactly as you did yesterday.

Footnotes:

* That's actually probably a good thing. DNG can take a 96MB Nikon D850 NEF and make it into a 49MB Raw with no visual loss in quality (LZW and gamma curve compression done right provide visually lossless compression). DNG Converter is even scriptable if you want to automate the process. And if you need to save the original Raw (say because you want to access Dual Pixel Raw for some Canon files in the future), you can always embed, then later export, the original Raw. The only concern I see here is if future OS versions don't support the final version of LR.

** ISP bandwidths are a valid concern. My current Comcast bandwidth per month is capped at 1TB/month, with a two months grace period if I run over in one year (I'll pay on the third month I run over). That will likely still serve most users and even enthusiasts but may be an issue for pros shooting enormous amounts of images monthly. We'll be following up with Adobe about their views on this issue, but for now we do expect the growth of cloud-based services to force ISPs to offer solutions.

Categories: Photo News

Godox XPro-N wireless flash trigger for Nikon boasts TTL, HSS and more for just $70

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 10:48

Godox has launched a Nikon version of the XPro-C 2.4GHz wireless flash trigger it announced for Canon last month. The new model—aptly titled the XPro-N—is equipped to control Godox's X1 system, and is currently listed by online retailers as available for pre-order with shipping planned to start on October 31st.

This Nikon version will be joined by models for Sony, Fujifilm, and MFT throughout the remainder of the year.

As with the Canon version, the new XPro-N model sports a large dot-matrix LCD alongside five physical buttons. The display shows five groups, one group per physical button, as well as data pertaining to each group. The trigger supports HSS (up to 1/8000), TTL, and manual (1/1 - 1/256) control. There's also support for TTL-Convert-Manual (TCM) functionality, which allows you to meter flashes in TTL, then switching to manual mode with the settings automatically adjusting to keep an equivalent output.

The XPro-N is listed for pre-order at $70 on Amazon.

Categories: Photo News

Sigma expands product warranty to cover hurricane damage from Harvey, Irma and Maria

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 10:18

In a move that's being praised by the photo community at large, Sigma has temporarily extended its product warranty to cover repairs for damage caused by the hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The only catch being that Sigma must receive your damaged product before December 31st of this year.

This information comes from a statement Sigma provided to Fstoppers, which is reporting that any products that can't be repaired will be replaced at a special discounted price that is determined on a case-by-case basis. Repairs and return shipment of the products are provided for free, but customers must provide their sales receipt as proof-of-purchase.

Sigma says that customers who no longer have the receipt should contact the company.

You can read the full statement on Fstoppers.

Categories: Photo News

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