Posts Tagged ‘gear’

Nikon D800 Announced

The D800. You want this. And if you don’t, I’ll have yours because I certainly do want it.

Rumours of this 36-megapixel beast has been floating around for a couple years and Nikon has finally officially announced the new camera which comes in a couple of flavours: The D800 and the D800E. The latter is a slightly sharper version of the former. The D800E doesn’t come with the same low-pass filter as the D800 thus making its images sharper (but leaving photographers with the potential for moiré patters in their images).

It’s more than just megapixels though. I’ll leave it to the experts at dpreview.com to give you the rundown of all the features in their preview, but suffice it to say, if this camera is as good in real life as it is on paper, photographers can expect some exceptional image quality to start filling their hard drives soon.

The D800 microsite has a few examples of shots from the camera if you can’t wait to see what some people have been doing with it.

One could expect this features set to be wholly unaffordable for enthusiasts, but not so. In the US, it carries a $3,000 price tag which is pretty great considering what you’re getting. It’s a good thing because I’ll probably need a new computer to manage the massive file sizes we can expect from this camera.


Nikon D4 Videos

The long-rumoured Nikon D4 was announced last week and nikonrumors.com has a number of videos related to the new camera. Techies can get their fill of demos and hands-on videos here.

If megapixel-counting isn’t your thing and you’re more interested in seeing some exotic-location movies produced with the camera, these are the videos for you below.


Wildlife Photography via a Remote Control DSLR Car

Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes video of Will & Matt Burrard-Lucas’ four-wheeled, camera-carrying RC car. Their Beetlecam is a photo gadget that will get up-close-and-personal wildlife shots without endangering life and limb.

It’s a nifty little contraption and gets some unique results. There is, however, something to be said for being able to properly compose your shot. I think they need to set up the software to enable remote live view and then we might have a winner. I just hope they don’t scare the animals too much…


How an LCD Screen Works

Time for some hardcore nerd action now. Engineer Bill Hammack shows you just what you’ve always wanted to know: how on earth a Liquid Crystal Display works. Well, it’s probably not what you’ve always wanted to know, but it’s interesting stuff for us nerds who like to know how stuff works.

Besides, don’t you want to know what makes that glowing rectangle you’re staring at for 90% of your day tick?

I’m not sure if there’s anything sadder than sitting at home on a Saturday night and learning about the functionality of LCD displays or not. If there is, it’s probably sitting at home on a Saturday night and blogging about the functionality of LCD displays. But hey, here we are!


New Nikon Gear

It’s early days, but that leaked Nikon roadmap has been fairly accurate so far. Hoax or not, they managed to predict the D300s and the D3000 which were both officially announced today. Check dpreview.com for the info on the D300s and the D3000. I’m not exactly in the rumour game, so I can’t say if this was well-known information or not, but the accuracy of it does strike me as interesting.

Where the roadmap missed the mark was with the lenses that would be announced today. The ever-so-tasty AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II telezoom and the AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II superzoom got time in the spotlight too. The 70-200mm is immediately on my wish list. Too bad I don’t have any wealthy benefactors willing to flip the £1999 bill for that one.

The D300s, of course, continues the photo/video convergence trend with it’s HD movie capabilities, stereo audio input jack and ability to auto-focus while recording. When it comes time to upgrade my camera, my next one will likely have video and I will probably tinker with it. I doubt, however, that it will become my number one source of entertainment or income, so here’s hoping that Nikon and the other manufacturers keep pushing out great cameras for those of us that are satisfied with stopping a brief moment in time. Based on what that (accurate-to-date) roadmap says, there’s not much to fear on that front.


Dark Flash Photography

New Scientist has this article that discusses a new invention by computer-science student Dilip Krishnan and assistant professor Rob Fergus. Their invention is something they call dark flash photography.

Dark flash photography involves a flash that will produce a burst of light outside the visible spectrum and a camera that will be able to both read that information then be able to accurately interpret the visible colour in a scene. The result will be the ability to use a camera flash that will be invisible to the human eye. This invisible flash won’t dazzle, disturb or be intrusive to photographic subject.

The flash in their system has been modified to produce light in a wider spectrum than a normal flash. It emits both infrared and UV light, but at the same time, visible light is filtered out. Normal cameras have filters that prevent infrared and UV light from hitting the sensor, but the pair have modified a camera to be able to pick up both of these forms of light. The resultant image will have strange, unnatural colour, but Krishnan and Fergus have a way around this problem.

Their modified camera will take two exposures in quick succession to get one shot. The first exposure will record the luminosity generated by the invisible IR/UV flash. The second exposure will be used to record colour information using only ambient light. This second image, taken immediately after the first, will lack the detail of the first and will inevitably be unusably dark. But between the two images, all the necessary information. The first has the luminosity information, the second has the colour information.

Using software, the two exposures are combined and the result is a normal-looking photograph produced using the invisible flash.

The New Scientist story says there are still some bugs left eliminate. Certain objects and materials (freckles, for example) absorb the IR/UV light burst. Based on this article at sportsshooter.com on taking infrared photos of basketball players, I suspect there may also be some issues with certain materials reflecting IR/UV light more than they should as well.

I would guess, also, that there would be limitations to what you can photograph based simply on the fact that you are taking two exposures. Fast-moving subjects will be problematic because they will have changed position from one exposure to the next.

There is, however, a variety of applications for this invention. What immediately jumped to my mind was to be able to take flash-lit photos in venues where it is not permitted (usually because it is distracting to other visitors). Perhaps wedding photographers will soon have the option to flash light a ceremony and not disturb the bride and groom with flash pops during their big moment.


Quicklinks for Thursday, January 22, 2009

A plethora of photography links for you on this fine day:

  • Abduzeedo.com has a 40 minute retouching tutorial that takes you from start to finish on the retouching of a fashion shot.
  • If you didn’t learn enough from that, Photoshop Support has a few more videos for you to check out on skin retouching.
  • For those of you now using Photoshop CS4, Yuri Arcurs has some tips on how to optimize your settings to get the best performance out of the software. However, some of these tips may end up being unnecessary in the near future as imaging-resource.com is reporting that Adobe is planning an update to CS4 soon.
  • Five FWD have a fun video in which they compare film and digital prints, big ones. 17 meter ones to be precise. They take a look at how a a 12 megapixel Nikon D700 stacks up against the same shot using 35mm film using massive enlargements. I have to get myself one of those printers (and gallons of ink) and then I can decorate my apartment building with my shots!
  • Simon Hoegsberg has printed the world’s longest photograph.

A few from Digital Photography School:

  • This article gives advice on what you might need to do to start freelancing for your local newspaper.
  • Fashion photographer Adriana Curcio gives seven important tips for aspiring photogs.
  • Lastly, more tips. This time it’s Chase Jarvis dishing out some tips. The most interesting part of it for me is his commentary on the creative gap, an idea I’m going to have to mull over a bit. I had never heard this expression of it before and I like the idea. It’s something that I (and probably most people) already do, but it’s nice to have it spelled out so that you can consciously make the effort to bridge that creative gap.

Travelling with Strobist

The ever-useful Strobist is going on the road and shows off his packing skills in this post about travelling with your flash gear.

Of course, every trip is going to be different, but it’s always fun to have some insight into someone else’s preparations.

He also discusses a couple of books by Bob Krist on travel photography in this post. If you haven’t checked out his work, have a gander and get jealous about how much he has travelled.


RED Digital Stills and Motion Camera

RED, makers of the digital video camera RED ONE, have announced their new camera system: the RED DSMC (digital stills and motion camera).

As the title of the system suggests, we’re not just looking at another video camera here, the specs on the higher end sensors promise to rival those of current DSLRs. As with the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D Mark II, digital stills and digital video are converging, but this particular thrust comes from the video side.

The infinitely-configurable system from RED is so different, it’s almost confusing. The RED Scarlet and RED Epic sensors (with funny names like Mysterium Monstro) can be combined and interchanged with different lens mounts (including Canon and Nikon mounts), batteries, recording modules, lenses (of course) and so on. The idea is that the camera can be configured and tailored to your needs in a myriad of ways. Further, as technology advances and new components become available, they will integrate into this system and you won’t have to upgrade the entire camera.

All of this, of course, comes at a price. A lot of it is pretty costly stuff, but perhaps the less expensive options will allow budding filmmakers to buy into the system and upgrade into the more high-end options as their needs may advance. The lighter weight versions, however,  do seem fairly affordable  for the ability to get good quality HD video.

On the photography side of things, I’m not sure the specs / cost will win over too many DSLR shooters. The higher-megapixel options are a lot more pricey than their DSLR counterparts. What we have here is the reverse of a camera like the 5D Mark II. RED’s system will allow filmmakers to branch out into still photography where the Mark II will give photographers the option to try their hand at making some moving pictures.

Though it will likely be a long while (if ever!) before I get to play with one of these (especially since it doesn’t an official release date yet) it’s still fun to watch the technology blossom and to imagine where things may go next.


Behold the Image Fulgurator

Julius von Bismarck, a student from Berlin, has come up with a clever hack of his old Minolta SLR so that instead of capturing an image, it projects one. Dubbed the Image Fulgurator, it’s not just any old projector. It’s controlled by a sensor which syncs the projection with flashes from nearby cameras, making the projection all but invisible to the naked eye and visible only on the image of the flash photographer.

This post on Wired details Bismarck’s invention and some of its potential uses (and misuses). Of relevance to the travel photography site that you are currently reading, imagine you’re visiting a famous landmark and you want to take a few shots. Maybe it’s a little dark and you want to lighten things up with your flash, but when you look at your photos, all is not as it should be. Maybe there is an ad where a wall should be. That seems like the most likely scenario to me – that advertisers will try to get a hold of an Image Fulgurator and project their brands into your holiday snaps. Forgive me cynicism, but remember, if there is a vacant area available, it will eventually get an ad placed on it one way or the other.

Ads and pranks are the obvious uses for this invention, but a more productive use might be to use it for some special effects in photography. Depending on the kind of quality you can achieve, maybe you could use something like this in the studio to create backgrounds out of nothing. Maybe that’s a little ambitious for this early incarnation of the device, but the potential may be there.

Let’s just hope this never falls into the wrong hands!


Nikon D3 First Impressions

Unfortunately, I’m not as fortunate as wedding photographer Cliff Mautner who recently had the chance to use the upcoming Nikon D3. His first impressions are glowing to say the least. I mean, just look at how many exclamation points he put in the title of his post!

Cliff’s brief review of the Nikon D3 makes the camera sound very promising. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to one of these under the Christmas tree?


Helicon Focus and Extreme Depth of Field

PopPhoto has an article about a new application called Helicon Focus that can aid photographers attempting to achieve extreme depth of field. (See the manufacturer’s site here.)

It looks like it could be a handy tool if it works as well as PopPhoto says it does. The process is one of taking multiple shots at different points of focus and then importing them into the software. It then combines the images to achieve a depth of field you would not be able to get with a single shot.

Though its uses may be somewhat limited (it wouldn’t work on a moving subject), it could be useful for macro, still life and landscape photographers who are willing to take the time required to achieve this effect.


Guide to DSLR Lenses

DSLRBlog.com has a guide to DSLR lenses that’s worth a look for anyone in the market for some new glass.

If you are going to be shopping, before making your purchase, I would recommend making a stop at Fred Miranda’s review section where you can get multiple reviews on each product (lenses and camera bodies) from users who have already made the purchase.


Researchers Develop Anti-Photo Technology

In an effort to deter photography of sensitive subjects and copyrighted material, researchers at Georgia tech have begun the development of a device that will cripple the use of digital video and still cameras. The system works by scanning the area using infrared beams for the reflection produced by digital camera sensors then beaming light into the camera to blind it. The light is out of the visible spectrum and also said to be harmless to human beings.

Notably, however, this system is incapable of disabling DSLR cameras. The mirror on DSLRs blocks the scan from seeing the sensor, so the more professional cameras are safe from this device.

In addition to its limitations with DLSRs, the system seems as though it would be easy to circumvent. A one-way mirror, an infrared filter or perhaps even a polarizing filter would conceivably block the sensor from being detected.

One of the main purposes of the camera blocker is to help prevent movie piracy by disabling video cameras in movie theatres. It has a host of other potential applications such as defending high-security areas and keeping trades secrets safe at trade shows.

My hope is that this does not become an over-used or abused technology. Would the world have ever known about Abu Ghraib had such devices been installed there? And if it had been mounted to the police car of the officers who beat Rodney King?

If this technology comes to fruition, I can only hope its use is strictly regulated.


111 Megapixel Camera

Though consumers can’t expect to see this kind of resolution in their cameras anytime soon, the new 111 megapixel sensor developed by DALSA Semiconductor lets the imagination run wild for photo enthusiasts. It’s the first digital photo sensor to break the 100 million pixel barrier and will ultimately be used for mapping the motions and locations of celestial objects.

The sensor is approximately four inches by four inches, so no amount of cramming will get it into today’s DSLRs. Besides, the power of the computer you would need to process the images is well beyond most people’s means. I think my powerbook might choke to death if I tried to manipulate a 10,560 x 10,560 pixel image in PhotoShop.


Olympus Stylus 720 SW

I don’t plan on making a habit of announcing too many new cameras on this blog, but this one caught my eye. The Olympus Stylus 720 SW stands out mainly because it’s waterproof to ten feet and has and it’s shock resistant (supposedly it can withstand drops from up to five feet).

This has mostly caught my eye due to my recent experience at the world’s largest water fight: The Thai New Year festival of Songkran. It would have been such a relief to not worry about every bucket of water thrown in my direction as I was shooting the incredibly fun water fights on the streets of Chiang Mai. Both my cameras managed to weather the storms, but not without causing me a fair amount of stress in the meantime. To have been able to walk into the middle of the fray and shoot with impunity would surely have made for some good shots.

But even without a water proof camera, I think I did okay. See for yourself and check out my photos of the Songkran water fights.


Sony Alpha DSLR-A100

Sony today announced its first contribution to the DSLR battle with the DSLR-A100. The camera boasts a 10 megapixel sensor, image stabilization built into the body, sensor dust reduction and hardware-based dynamic range optimization.

Digital Photography Review has a hands on preview of the new offering with a detailed feature set and photos of the camera’s parts.

Digital Camera Resource Page also has a detailed preview with full images of the camera and their account of using the camera.


Nikon D2xs Preview and Info

Letsgodigital.org and Nikonians.org have paired up to provide a preview of the new Nikon D2xs. Some of the highlights for the company’s flagship camera include a larger (2.5 inch) LCD monitor, longer battery life, black and white mode, and additional high ISO settings. There are a number of other upgraded features, so be sure to check out the article.

For more information including a list of all upgraded features and the official Nikon press release, check out dpreview.com’s look at the D2xs.


Nikon D200

Nikon has just announced the D200. This camera is meant to be the successor to the D100 and from the spec sheet, it sounds like a fine addition to the camera bag. A couple highlights include: 10.2 megapixel sensor and five frames per second continuous shooting.

For more information, check out the announcement and preview on dpreview.com.


New DSLRs from Nikon

According to a couple sites, Nikon has accidentally leaked user manuals for unanounced cameras. The manual for a new entry-level DSLR called the D50 was briefly posted to one of Nikon’s websites. According to this story from MacWorld.com the camera’s existence has been confirmed by the official Nikon spokesperson.

At the same time, Rob Galbraith is reportting that another manual for a camera called the D70s has also been leaked/accidentally posted. Nikon has not confirmed the existence of this camera.

In any case, new toys are fun!



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