Fujifilm announces new firmware for GFX 50S, X-T3, and X-H1

Fujifilm has announced the impending arrival of new firmware updates for its GFX 50S, X-T3, and X-H1 mirrorless cameras. The updates bring improved in-body image stabilization on the X-H1, 4K HDR and F-Log video for the X-T3, and a new 35mm format mode for the GFX 50S.

GFX 50S

The new firmware for the Fujifilm GFX 50S, version 3.30, is due out by the end of November 2018. Fujifilm says the update adds support for a new 35mm Format Mode when using GF- and H-mount adapters, which crops the center of the sensor to a size of 36mm x 24mm, a makes for a 30.5-megapixel image. The update also improves upon the eye-sensor responsiveness, adds simultaneous deletion of RAW and JPEG files, and supports color adjustments for the EVF and LCD displays.

X-T3

The new firmware for the Fujifilm X-T3 is version 2.00. Set to be released in December 2018, the firmware update brings 4K HDR recording in Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG). HLG footage should simplify the capture of HDR content and should improve post-production capabilities. Fujifilm notes it's only compatible with H.265 (HEVC) and works best when viewed on displays and TVs with HLG format support.

Firmware version 2.00 for the X-T3 also brings simultaneous output of Film Simulation and F-Log footage, meaning it's possible to record in F-Log while viewing the Film Simulation image on an external monitor. Fujifilm says this capability isn't compatible with "59.94P/50P, FHD high speed recording, 4K interframe NR, and HDMI output info display mode."

Continuing on, the X-T3 will now be compatible with All-Intra and maximum bitrate recording with H.264, up to the maximum bitrate of 400Mbps. Also, movie files will no longer be split when the file reaches 4GB so long as it's being stored to an SD card with at least 64GB of storage. It's also now possible to display color temperature on the EVF and LCD displays in Kelvin.

Newsshooter has shared a video showing off some of the new features of firmware version 2.00 for the Fujifilm X-T3.

X-H1

Last up is the Fujifilm X-H1, which is set to receive firmware version 2.00 in December 2018. The defining feature of this firmware update is the improved image stabilization. Fujifilm says in-body image stabilization will now work better with optical image stabilization in lenses to improve overall stability.

"With an XF or XC optical image stabilized lens, in-body image stabilization worked with 3 axis (up and down / optical axis rotation). The remaining 2 axis (right and left pitch, yaw angle) was controlled by optical image stabilization in the lens," says Fujifilm in its press release. "[Firmware version 2.00] has a new image stabilization algorithm to allow the in-body image stabilization to work in all 5 axis and to achieve more than five-stops (up to the equivalent of 5.5 stops) image stabilization by cooperative control according to the types of frequency and blur amount."

Fujifilm notes lenses must also be updated to their latest firmware to get this compatibility. You can find a full list of up-to-date lens firmware on Fujifilm's website.

NASA shares high-resolution satellite images of California’s Camp wildfire

NASA has shared images of the California Camp Fire as seen from space. The wildfire started on November 8 and quickly spread, ultimately destroying nearly 8,000 buildings and burning 135,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, as well as claiming at least 50 lives.

Some of the images were captured using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on NASA's Terra satellite, according to the space agency, which says the images show natural colors. Unlike images from the ground, NASA's aerial snapshots reveal the sheer scale of the blaze and how far its smoke has dispersed westward across the state and over the ocean.

NASA is home to its Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Worldview, a platform that provides access to high-resolution images from more than 700 satellites. The images in this application are updated within three hours of being captured, according to NASA, providing a near-real time look at every corner of the planet. Imagery of the Camp Fire, as well as other California wildfires, can be accessed through the platform.

How to Use Creative Aperture to Maximum Effect

One of the most powerful controls on your camera is the aperture setting. It’s so useful that a good proportion of photographers utilize aperture priority as their primary setting, allowing them to quickly change this setting for creative aperture use.

So what are the ways you can use aperture to get creative photos? There are several ways and some different effects that can be achieved. So read on, and see how you can add these creative approaches to your photography.

You can use aperture to create bokeh like this.

Creating Bokeh in Your Photos

Almost certainly the first thing you’ll think of with creative aperture is bokeh. So what is this and how is it achieved?

What is Bokeh?

Bokeh is the area of the photo that’s out of focus, and the level of blur achieved will depend on a number of factors. The word itself come from the Japanese word ‘boke,’ which translates as blur.

Using aperture to blur out the background is an ideal way of making the main subject standout more.

How Creative Aperture Makes Bokeh

You’ll create bokeh by using a lens with a large aperture, and sometimes with a lens that has a long focal length. The best lenses for creating bokeh are prime lenses, mainly because they offer larger aperture. To create bokeh focus on an object in the foreground, and ensure there is a separation to the background. When using a lower focal length with a large aperture the distance of separation between fore and background can be relatively small. If you use a longer focal length with a lens that has a smaller aperture you can still achieve bokeh as long as the background is far behind your foreground object. To sum up use your lenses largest aperture, and ensure you leave enough distance to the background so it’s blurred.

  • Light source – One of the most attractive aspects are what are sometimes called ‘bokeh balls.’ When you have points of light in the background, they’ll become enlarged orbs because of bokeh. Look to place city lights in the background during blur hour, or light reflecting off leaves to create this type of bokeh.
  • Tell the story – One way of subtly telling a story in a scene is to blur out the background, but leave enough definition to see what’s happening in the background. Perhaps you can photograph some food, with the chef making that food blurred into the background.

You can use bokeh for simple minimalism in a photo.

Creative Bokeh

It’s possible to get even more creative with bokeh, by turning it into various shapes. The idea behind this involves placing a piece of black card over the front of your lens. You’ll need to cut the shape your want to create with your bokeh in the center of that card first though! To find out more about how to do this you can read this guide. Remember you’ll need some light sources in the background, so how about experimenting with some fairy lights this Christmas!

Get those creative sparks flying with different shaped bokeh!

Lensbaby

Lensbaby is a series of lenses produced with the idea of using bokeh in your photo. It’s a little like a tilt-shift lens and will create stretched bokeh as you change the position of the focal sweet spot. This lens can be fun to play around with, though it doesn’t produce the sharpest photos you’ll ever see.

The Sweet Spot

While this area of aperture usage isn’t especially creative, it’s worth knowing about. The lens sweet spot refers to the aperture which produces the greatest sharpness across your photo. Each photo will have a different sweet spot, but generally between f8 and f11 is the sharpest point for your lens. Knowing your lenses sweet spot is essential knowledge for landscape photographers. Keep in mind that if you have elements close to your foreground, you may need to use focus stacking to keep sharpness across the entire image.

Landscape photographers will often use an aperture of f8 for their photos.

Starburst Effect

A starburst can be produced when you have a single focused light source. This can be a street light, all the way up to the sun! The effect is produced by closing your aperture down to a number smaller than f16. Each lens will produce a slightly different starburst as well. This depends on the type of diaphragm used in your lens to open and close the aperture. The lens diaphragm has a number of blades and depending on how many of these there are, your ‘star’ will have different numbers of spikes.

The sun can have a star look to it, by hiding it behind the tree.

  • Photographing city lights – This is relatively straightforward, as you just need to close down your aperture. Keep in mind however that a small aperture will mean your photo is less sharp.
  • Photographing the sun – To do this you’ll need the sun to be partially blocked. This might mean hiding the sun behind some tree leaves, or waiting for the sun to just about disappear behinds some clouds or headland. In these conditions, the sun won’t dominate the rest of the frame as much, and you can create a star effect with it by closing down your aperture.

Starburst Filters

Not related to creative aperture, but this is an alternate way of creating starbursts in your photo. Once again this will create starbursts from a point of light in your frame. The light spikes will be longer though, and you might decide this creative effect is not for you.

City lights provide a great point of light, and this can be made into a starburst.

Get Your Own Creative Aperture Photos!

So now it’s your turn to use one of the key settings to its creative potential! Get your camera on aperture priority, and see what you can produce!

Do you have a favored way of using aperture for your photography? We’d love to hear your experiences with this setting.

Finally, please share your photos with the digital photography school community, by posting them in the comments section below.

The post How to Use Creative Aperture to Maximum Effect appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Google’s Night Sight allows for photography in near darkness

Google's latest Pixel 3 smartphone generation comes with the company's new Night Sight feature that allows for the capture of well-exposed and clean images in near darkness, without using a tripod or flash. Today Google published a post on its Research Blog, explaining in detail thecomputational photography and machine learning techniques used by the feature and describing the challenges the development team had to overcome in order to capture the desired image results.

Night Sight builds on Google's multi-frame-merging HDR+ mode that was first introduced in 2014, but takes things a few steps further, merging a larger number of frames and aiming to improve image quality in extremely low light levels between 3 lux and 0.3 lux.

One key difference between HDR+ and Night Sight are longer exposure times for individual frames, allowing for lower noise levels. HDR+ uses short exposures to provide a minimum frame rate in the viewfinder image and instant image capture using zero-shutter-lag technology. Night Sight waits until after you press the shutter button before capturing images which means users need to hold still for a short time after pressing the shutter but achieve much cleaner images.

The longer per-frame exposure times could also result in motion blur caused by handshake or to moving objects in the scene. This problem is solved by measuring motion in a scene and setting an exposure time that minimizes blur. Exposure times also vary based on a number of other factors, including whether the camera features OIS and the device motion detected by the gyroscope.

In addition to per-frame exposure, Night Sight also varies the number of frames that are captured and merged, 6 if the phone is on a tripod and up to 15 if it is handheld.

Frame alignment and merging are additional challenges that you can read all about in detail on the Google Research Blog. Our science editor Rishi Sanyal also had a closer look at Night Sight and the Pixel 3's other computational imaging features in this article.

The Lume Cube Air is an ultra-portable app-controlled lighting solution

Based on the original Lume Cube, the new Lume Cube Air is a small, lightweight and affordable portable light source aimed at vloggers, casual photographers and other content creators.

The Lume Cube AIR features LED lighting with a 5700K daylight balanced color temperature, 400 LUX at 1m output, and a 60-degree beam angle. The light is waterproof down to 30 feet and weighs only 2oz (57g). A built-in magnet allows for easy attachment to many metallic surfaces but the Lume Cube Air also comes with a conventional tripod mount.

The light is controlled from the Lume-X iOS or Android mobile app which lets you connect to and combine multiple Lume Cube AIRs and control brightness, light mode and strobe speeds. You can also check battery levels, all via a Bluetooth connection.

In the box you'll find white and orange diffusers for color correction, a lanyard and a USB charging cable. The Lume Cube Air is available now from Lumecube.com and select retailers globally for $69.95.

Press Release:

LUME CUBE AIR FOR ON-THE-GO CONTENT CREATORS NOW AVAILABLE

Unique features, slimmed-down size and extra accessories provide an all-in-one lighting solution for every content-creation challenge

CARLSBAD, Calif. – November 14, 2018 – Known as the world’s most versatile light for content creators, Lume Cube announced today the launch of the all-new Lume Cube AIR. Derived from the original Lume Cube, the Lume Cube AIR is the smallest, lightest, and most portable lighting device designed to help content creators capture better photo & video. With newly designed features, improved LED output, and multiple accessories included in every box, the latest solution is an affordable, all-in-one light that allows anyone hitting the “record” button to produce professional quality content on any device, from a smartphone to a professional DSLR camera. It is available now from Lumecube.com and select retailers worldwide for $69.95.

“As an innovative brand in the imaging market, we are committed to delivering valuable tools to help the growing community of content creators around the world capture stunning photos and videos,” said Riley Stricklin, co-founder at Lume Cube. “When developing the Lume Cube AIR, we made listening to our customers a priority. We wanted to ensure we fully understood their needs so that we could craft a portable lighting solution that best enables them to create quality, on-the-go content, all while at an economical cost. Based on this feedback, Lume Cube AIR has been designed as small and as sleek as possible, has a built-in magnet for more versatile mounting options, and includes multiple accessories inside the box to ensure our customers have everything needed to capture professional quality content in any environment.”

From the digital influencer and YouTube star, to the at-home vlogger and casual photographer, the Lume Cube AIR offers the perfect combination of size, power, durability, and light quality needed to illuminate any scene, whether on or off camera. For the first time, users will receive two diffusers (white and orange) inside the box that provide both diffusion and color correction capability, which is essential for any broadcast or live streaming application.

The Lume Cube AIR features:

  • Unmatched Light Quality & Custom Lens – Packed with the best LED specs for its size, the Lume Cube AIR lighting has a CRI rating of +/- 90, a 5700K daylight balanced color temperature, 400 LUX at 1M power, and a 60-degree beam angle.
  • Compact, Waterproof & Durable Design – Weighing in at just 2oz with overall dimensions of 1.625” x 1.625” x 1.125”, the Lume Cube AIR is the smallest and most portable light of its kind, allowing content creators to uncover new creative opportunities whether in the rain or submerged under water up to 30 feet.
  • Bluetooth & App Control – From the Lume-X iOS or Android app, users can connect to multiple Lume Cube AIRs and control brightness, light mode, strobe speeds, battery levels, and more. The Bluetooth functionality allows for a seamless connection and fast adjustment of any lighting set-up, creating a truly smart mobile studio.
  • Built-In Magnet – In addition to a tripod mountable thread, a built-in magnet provides complete mounting versatility and allows for numerous lifestyle applications outside of content creation. The Lume Cube AIR can be mounted to a bike, attached to a car for maintenance, put in manual Strobe Mode for emergencies, and much more.
  • In-Box Accessories – Out of the box, the AIR is equipped with the accessories needed to tackle any content-creation challenge. The white diffusion, orange (warming) diffusion, lanyard and charging cable provides an all-in-one solution for anybody looking to enhance the level of their content creation.

For more information on Lume Cube and the all-new Lume Cube AIR, visitwww.lumecube.com.

Nikon Z6 to ship this Friday for $1999

Nikon USA has announced that its Z6 full-frame mirrorless camera will begin shipping this Friday, November 16th. The body-only kit will retail for $1999.95, while the body plus Nikon Z 24-70 F4 S lens will set you back $2599.95. Adding the FTZ Mount Adapter is only $200 more, which is $100 less than if the adapter is purchased separately.

You can find all of our Z6 content here, and don't miss our sample gallery, either.

Z6 samples by Brandon Woelful for Nikon:

Press Release

The New Nikon Z 6 to Hit Shelves Right In Time for the Holiday Season

Nikon Will Also Offer an Array of Special Promotions, Instant Savings and Discount Programs for their Latest Products this Holiday Season

MELVILLE, NY (NOVEMBER 14, 2018 AT 11:00 A.M. EST) – With the holiday season just around the corner, Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the retail availability of the new Nikon Z 6 camera, which was announced alongside the Nikon Z 7, Mount Adapter FTZ, and the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, 35mm f/1.8 S, and 50mm f/1.8 S lenses in late August of this year. In addition to announcing retail availability for this product, Nikon will be offering an array of holiday promotions, instant savings programs and special discounts for a variety of Nikon products.

Nikon Z 6 Availability

The Nikon Z 6 offers an incredible value for photographers and content creators, striking the perfect balance of speed, optical performance and powerfully cinematic video features while maintaining the advantages of a lightweight mirrorless design, all at an incredibly compelling price point. The versatile Nikon Z 6 includes a 24.5-megapixel-BSI CMOS sensor, wide ISO sensitivity range of 100–51,200, 12fps continuous shooting at full resolution, 5-axis in-camera vibration reduction technology, crystal clear 3.6m-Dot Quad VGA viewfinder and full-frame 4K UHD video capture with full pixel readout.

The Nikon Z 6 will be available nationwide starting this Friday, November 16 for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $2,599.95 with the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens and $1,999.95 for the body only configuration.

Nikon Holiday Promotions

Nikon Inc. is also unveiling several new holiday promotions to encourage consumers to share the gift of photography with their friends and loved ones.

For consumers in the market for a new mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z system is an ideal entry-point. Now, for a limited time, Nikon Inc. will be offering $100-savings on the Mount Adapter FTZ when purchased alongside the new Nikon Z 7 or Nikon Z 6.

Additionally, Nikon will be offering numerous special promotions on the extensive lineup of Nikon DSLR cameras, camera kits and NIKKOR lenses, which are great gift options for those looking to take their photography and video capture to the next level this holiday season.

The list below outlines the instant savings available starting on November 22, 2018

Entry-Level DSLR Savings:

- Nikon D3500 Double Zoom Lens Kit: $499.95 (after $350 instant savings)
- Nikon D3500 18-55mm VR Kit: $399.95 (after $100 instant savings)
- Nikon D5600 Double Zoom Lens Kit: $699.95 (after $450 instant savings)
- Nikon D5600 18-55mm VR Kit: $649.95 (after $150 instant savings)

Enthusiast and Professional-Level DSLR Savings:

- Nikon D7500 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Kit: $1,449.95 (after $300 instant savings)
- Nikon D7500 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Kit: $1,749.95 (after $570 instant savings)
- Nikon D7200 Body Only: $799.95 (after $300 instant savings)
- Nikon D7200 Dual Zoom Lens Kit: $999.95 (after $550 instant savings)
- Nikon D750 Body Only with MB-D16 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $1,399.95 (after $939.95 instant savings)
- Nikon D750 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens Kit with MB-D16 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $1,899.95 (after $1,539.95 instant savings)
- Nikon D500 Body Only with MB-D17 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $1,799.95 (after $469.95 instant savings)
- Nikon D500 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Lens Kit with MB-D17 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $2,399.95 (after $939.95 instant savings)
- Nikon D810 Body Only with MB-D12 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $2,799.95 (after $629.95 instant savings)
- Nikon D810 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens Kit with MB-D12 Multi-Battery Power Pack: $3,299.95 (after $1,229.95 instant savings)
- Select legendary NIKKOR lenses also available at up to $200 in instant savings

How To Plan Astrophotography With The Photopills App

One of the most important lessons that astrophotography has taught me is the importance of planning. I’m a huge advocate of planning your photos in advance, no matter what your subject may be. With most genres of photography, you can wing it and still come home with some great photos. With astrophotography, you’re a lot less likely to get lucky if you don’t plan ahead.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

There are many factors that come into play when photographing the night sky. You can’t just pick a location and hope for the best. A successful image will depend on sunrise/set, moonrise/set, the phase of the moon, milky way position, galactic center visibility, time of year, and light levels.

If all that feels a bit overwhelming, don’t stress. There are many tools available to help you research and plan your night sky photos. I’ve used a number of them over the years, but there’s really only one that I rely on these days.

The PhotoPills App

You may have heard of PhotoPills already. It’s a popular app among landscape photographers. I’ve used it for a while now, and I can’t imagine planning my travel and landscape photos without it.

PhotoPills is a great tool for figuring out the best time to photograph the outdoors. It gives you a bunch of useful information about the sun and moon at a specific time and location, which is great for planning sunrise and sunset photos.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

It does so much more than that, though. It’s actually an incredibly feature-rich app that provides far more tools than I could cover here. If you’re new to PhotoPills, I recommend learning the basics of the app first. I’m just going to show you how to use PhotoPills to plan astrophotography.

Ambient Light

The single most important factor in successful night sky photography is darkness. There are three main factors that will affect the amount of ambient light in the scene and potentially ruin your photos.

The first, and most obvious, is daylight. Photographing the night sky while the sun is still shining is difficult. While you may think that you just need to wait until after sunset, it’s not quite that simple. The light from the sun illuminates the sky for a lot longer than you may realize.

As the ambient light from the sun fades in or out at the end of the day, it goes through four phases. You’ve likely heard of golden hour and blue hour. There’s also nautical twilight and astronomical twilight. You don’t need to understand what these terms mean, just that there will still be light from the sun that your camera will see.

For the darkest sky possible, you want to shoot after astronomical twilight ends and before it begins again. In the PhotoPills app, open the Sun pill, select the calendar view, and tap on the date you’re planning to shoot. You’ll be able to see the exact times from golden hour and sunset, through the twilight phases, and into night time. The sky will be darkest between that time and the beginning of astronomical twilight the next day.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

Light Pollution

The second factor is light pollution caused by man-made light. This is most noticeable in or near built-up areas, so getting away from these is crucial.

The simplest way to find locations that have minimal light pollution is to look at a light pollution map such as Blue Marble Navigator. You can easily find locations far enough away from light pollution to photograph the night sky.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

The Moon

The third factor that can affect the amount of ambient light in your night sky photos is the moon. The moon can reflect a surprising amount of the sun’s light and wash out your night sky photos. It can also illuminate the foreground, which may be something you want to take advantage of. Unfortunately, you can’t have the moonlight on the foreground without it illuminating the sky also.

If you want to eliminate moonlight from your night sky photos, there are two ways to do it. The first, and easiest, is to shoot during a new moon. A new moon is the opposite to a full moon, meaning it’s completely dark. No matter where it is in the sky, it won’t reflect any light or affect your photos at all.

The second way is to plan your photos so that you’re shooting while the moon is below the horizon. That means before moonrise and after moonset. This isn’t as effective as timing your photography with a new moon, but you can come home with some great images using this technique.

PhotoPills makes it easy to plan using both these options. To plan for a new moon, open the Moon pill and go to the calendar view. You’ll be able to look ahead and see the date of the new moon each month. The new moon is completely black with the little circle next to the date. A day either side is also usually safe.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

To figure out what time the moon will rise and set on a specific date, tap on that date while still in the calendar view. You’ll be shown a list of events for that date, including moonrise and moonset.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

The Milky Way

If you want to include the Milky Way in your night sky photos, you’ll need to consider a couple of things. Firstly, although the Milky Way is visible all year round, the galactic center is only visible for part of the year. This is between March and October, or slightly longer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The second thing you need to remember is that the Milky Way moves through the sky as the earth rotates, just like the sun and moon. What this means is that when planning your astrophotography, you’ll need to consider the time that the galactic center is visible.

PhotoPills makes this super easy. Going back to the Sun pill, you’ll see that galactic canter visibility appears in the event list for your selected date. Note that this may not be the time that the galactic center rises and sets, it may be the time that the sky is dark enough to see it.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

One of the coolest and most useful features of the PhotoPills app is augmented reality (AR). In the Planner pill, go to the date and location you’re planning to photograph, then tap Night AR in the option bar at the bottom. This will show you an AR view that superimposes the Milky Way over your screen.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

This is useful for seeing where the milky way and galactic center will be at your selected date and location. You’ll be able to see the angle and relative position of the Milky Way, as well as watch how it will move across the sky by sliding your finger across the screen.

PhotoPills Widgets

PhotoPills makes it super easy to see all this info in one place. Instead of having to go into each pill to find the relevant information you want, you can take a quick look at the PhotoPills widget and see times for the next sun, moon, and galactic center events.

how to plan astrophotography with photopills app

This won’t work for planning future photos, but if you want to see if tonight is a good night for astrophotography, you can find out at a glance. I’m sure you’ll find it useful once you have a good understanding of the right conditions for night sky photography.

Dig Deeper Into PhotoPills

As I mentioned, the PhotoPills app is incredibly powerful and feature-rich. It includes many more useful tools, such as Star Trails, Spot Stars, and Time Lapse. If you want to dig deeper and find out what PhotoPills can really do, I encourage you to buy the app and spend some time working through the User Guide on their website. There’s a wealth of tutorials and how-to videos that will help you make the most of the app.

I would love to see the night sky photos that you create with PhotoPills. Feel free to share them below.

The post How To Plan Astrophotography With The Photopills App appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Insta360 One X hands-on review

The One X is Insta360's latest consumer 360-degree cam and is controlled via an iPhone or Android smartphone, and retails for $400. The big news on the new model is the 5.7K resolution which means you can reframe the spherical footage and extract a standard 16:9 video with good resolution after capture. During recording you don't have to worry where the camera is pointed at.

5.7K video is recorded at 30 frames per second. For smooth motion in action videos or slow-motion effects you can also opt to record 4K footage at 50fps or 3K video at 100fps. In photo mode the camera captures 18MP still images.

The One X also comes with an improved version of Insta360's FlowState stabilization and a new TimeShift feature that lets users adjust the speed of different parts of a clip to put the focus on key moments, using either slow-motion or hyperlapse effects. The "Bullet-time" special effect was already available on the predecessor Insta360 One.

We've had the chance to play a few days with the new Insta360 One X. Read this article and find out how we got on.

Key specifications:

  • 18 MP still image resolution
  • 5760 x 2880 @30fps, 3840 x 1920 @50fps, 3008 x 1504 @100fps video resolutions
  • Built-in 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization
  • Live-streaming
  • Exposure compensation and manual control over shutter speed and ISO
  • Weight with battery: 115g
  • Dimensions: 115mm x 48mm x 28mm
  • MicroSD card slot up to 128GB
  • 1200mAh battery, 60 mins run time shooting 5.7K @30FPS or 4K@50FPS video

Operation

The One X only has two buttons, making stand-alone operation very straightforward. The small button is the power button and also used to cycle through shooting modes and settings. The larger button is the shutter and also used for confirmation when navigating the menus which are displayed on a small circular OLED display.

Camera settings are shown on a small circular display.

The display isn't always easy to view in bright light but you can enable a QuickCapture mode that powers the camera up and immediately starts recording when you long-press the shutter. This is a useful feature for shooting while riding a bike or doing any other activity that demands your full attention.

At the bottom of the device is a standard tripod mount which allows you to attach the camera to all sorts of supports and selfie-sticks. With an adapter, you can use the One X with a GoPro-style mount, and if you don't have any other means of support, the flat base allows you to place the camera on any flat surface.

The One X connects to mobile devices via WiFi, or, for better transfer speeds, via a supplied USB-cable. Via the same connection you can also trigger and control the camera from the dedicated mobile app. Parameters such as ISO, exposure compensation, white balance, and shutter speed are user adjustable.

In the app you can view images and videos that are stored on the camera or your mobile device. Photo editing options include filters and stickers.

The dedicated One X app lets you transfer, view, edit and share both 360-degree videos and still images.

Videos

The One X can record 5.7K 360-degree video which allows you to reframe on your phone and extract a 16:9 1080p standard video at very good quality. The easiest way to achieve this in the app is through the Viewfinder feature.

In Viewfinder mode the 360-degree video is played back on your device. You can then move the phone just as if you were recording a video in real-time. Whatever is visible on the display of your device will be "re-shot" and saved as a new video.

You can use the Viewfinder, Pivot Points or Smart Tracking to frame your video In Viewfinder mode you press and hold the red shutter while moving the phone as you would during recording of a standard video.

The video below is totally uncut to give you a better idea of what's going on. After starting to record I hand the camera to my buddy who then simply rides along with the camera in his hand, not worrying about where the lenses are pointing.

Back home I "re-shot" the video using the Viewfinder function and aiming to keep myself in the frame. With a conventional action camera this type of video would have been a lot more difficult to shoot, especially from a bike.

Viewfinder also allows you to "recycle" your 360-degree footage and re-shoot several versions of the same footage. The sample clip below was recorded from the same 360-degree footage as the one above, but this time with different framing, creating more of a typical rider point-of-view video you would get with a conventional action cam in a chest or handlebar mount.

For this third version of the same video I applied a Tiny Planet effect to the 360-degree footage. The feature won't particularly useful to more serious video makers but makes for a nice party trick.

As you can see in the video samples above, the camera is capable of capturing decent detail, even when using only a portion of the full 360-degree footage. With the sun always visible somewhere in the frame, there is inevitably some clipping in the brightest areas of the sky but overall dynamic range is pretty good and, although occasionally visible, stitching artifacts are well under control.

The real highlight is Insta360's FlowState stabilization, though. Footage is very smooth and almost looks like it was shot from a gimbal, despite the hand-held capture.

Footage is very smooth and almost looks like it was shot from a gimbal

The sample below was recorded with the Insta360 selfie-stick to give a perspective from higher up than usual. Camera movement was created using Insta360's pivot points instead of Viewfinder mode. You can set as many pivot points as you like in a video and the app creates smooth transitions between them. Pivot points are a good alternative to Viewfinder mode if you prefer a more automated solution.

The app also offers a subject tracking option for controlling camera movement during editing. This works generally well but will stop tracking if the subject is momentarily obscured by another object, so depending on your footage it's not always the best solution.

Below is the same video in 360-degree format as a reference. If you pan the video to see myself you can see that the Insta360 app is doing quite an impressive job at making the selfie-stick disappear from the footage.

In lower light, like the indoor scenes below, the camera is still capable of producing good detail and noise-free footage. When light conditions get really dim the otherwise excellent FlowState stabilization loses some of its efficiency. However, you have the option to sacrifice some image detail for faster frame rates which allow for a very similar stabilization performance as in good light.

I've also created a "Bullet-time" video using the optional Bullet-time handle that allows you to swing the selfie-stick over your head in a circle. In bullet time mode the camera records at 100 frames per second, allowing for a slight slow-motion effect in playback. The feature is fun to play with and with some more practice more impressive results than mine should be easily possible.

Still images

The Insta360 One X will likely be most attractive to video shooters but the camera is also capable of capturing 18MP spherical still images. In still image mode you can activate HDR mode, configure interval shooting and capture in Raw format. A self-timer is on board as well.

In the app you can view and export images in several formats including full 360-degree fisheye, tiny planet and crystal ball formats. Below you can see a few samples, in original 360-degree format and Tiny Planet or Fish-eye variations.

Full 360-degree image Full 360-degree image
Tiny Planet Fish-eye

The camera is capable of producing good quality 360-degree image output that in terms of detail, noise, color and dynamic range is roughly on the level of a good smartphone camera. While in some video clips some stitching artifacts are just about noticeable, they are as good as invisible in most still images, making the camera an interesting and affordable option for professional users, such as property agents or wedding photographers.

Full 360-degree image Full 360-degree image
Tiny Planet Fish-eye

Conclusion

I've used a couple of Insta360's earlier models before, for example the Insta 360 Air. Those older consumer cameras were easy and fun to use but had one important limitation: the video resolution would not allow for the extraction of standard video at a sufficiently high resolution. The cameras were fun to play with but ultimately not of much use to anyone serious about video.

At a retail price of $400 the One X now makes high-resolution 360-degree footage available to the masses, allowing for the creation of Full HD video from the camera's 5.7K 360-degree output. During recording this means it doesn't matter where you are pointing the camera because you can select the final frames in post-production in the app.

This makes the camera extremely useful for use on a bike, while hiking or running or doing any other kind of physical activity during which you don't really want to think about where to point your camera.

At $400 the One X makes high-resolution 360 footage available to the masses, allowing for Full HD standard video from the camera's 5.7K 360-degree output.

I've never been a big fan of using GoPro-style action cams on a bike for example. If you mount it to the handlebars or your chest, the footage gets quite boring quite quickly. But if you hold it in your hands and try to frame an interesting video, you dramatically increase the risk of crashing. The One X makes shooting interesting video on a bike so much easier, which is why I have been carrying it on every single bike ride since I received the camera for testing.

Both video and still image quality are on the level of a decent smartphone camera, all editing can be done on a mobile device and the dedicated app is intuitive and straightforward to use, making the Insta360 One X an easy recommendation to anyone who has a use case for 360-degree video and still images but a limited budget.

If you find the features of the One X appealing, you may also want to read our reviews of the Rylo Camera and the GoPro Fusion, two other 360-degree cameras that we liked and which include similar feature sets.

What we like:

  • Ability to "reframe" 360-degree footage to create Full-HD standard video
  • Intuitive app control, very easy to use Viewfinder reframing function
  • Very good video stabilization in most conditions
  • Price

What we don't like:

  • Occasional stitching artifacts in video footage
  • Strong wind noise in some outdoor videos

The New York Times opens up free applications for its 7th annual portfolio review

Tomas Roggero

The New York Times has opened up applications for its 7th annual New York Portfolio Review on March 30 and 31 in New York City, New York.

The applications, which are free to submit, are now open on The New York Times' website for the review, which is put on by The New York Times Lens column, the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York and United Photo Industries.

So long as the applicant is over 18 years old, they're free to apply. The New York Times says "all types of photography will be considered." The deadline for applications is December 10, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

"The first session, on Saturday, March 30, will be for photographers 21 and older," reads The New York Times announcement post. "Each participant will receive six private critiques. The second session, on Sunday, March 31, will be solely for photographers 18 to 27 and will consist of at least four private critiques for each participant, as well as free workshops on how to best present, promote and publish photographs. We will screen all applicants and choose 100 participants for Saturday and 60 for Sunday."

The New York Times specifically mentions anyone who attended last year's review is ineligible to apply. Also, if someone has attended more than twice in the seven years the portfolio review has been going on, they too are ineligible.

When a photographer is chosen for a portfolio review, they will be able to requiem their top choices for who is to review their work. The New York Times has provided a partial list of the reviewers on the bottom of its announcement page.

To enter, head over to The New York Times' application page and fill out the required form. In addition to personal details, such as first name, last name, age, contact information, and a short biography, applicants can upload up to 20 photos from one or two projects. The images must be JPEGs and no more than 1,200 pixels across at 72 DPI.

Applicants who have been selected will be notified by January 12, 2019. The New York Times warns "Be sure to triple-check the email address you submit, because in past years some people were accepted into the review, but couldn’t be contacted with the good news because of a typo in their address. Don’t be that person."

Introducing New dPS Managing Editor – Caz Nowaczyk

new dPS managing editor - Caz Nowaczyk

Caz Nowaczyk dPS Managing Editor

Some of our regular readers may have noticed a new byline on our Weekly Challenge posts recently, and the absence of Darlene Hildebrand. We announced a while back that after 5 years Darlene was moving on from dPS to focus on her own business – an exciting move for her.

From Darlene:

I’m honored to have been the Managing Editor at dPS for the last 5 years but now it’s time for me to move on to new ventures. It’s been a pleasure curating and publishing all the articles on dPS for you to enjoy and I hope you’ve learned a lot. You’ll be in good hands with the new editor and team of talented writers and photography educators.

Continue on your own photography journey, keep learning and shooting and you may even see my from time to time with a guest article right here on dPS.

Cheers, Darlene

Quietly and confidently slipping into her new role over the past few weeks is Caz (Carolyn) Nowaczyk (much to our General Manager Laney’s relief who got a crash course in editing whilst bridging the gap!).

About Caz Nowaczyk

Caz is a creative sponge and an excellent new asset to our team. As a practicing photographer, filmmaker, designer, songwriter, she follows the philosophy of practicing and sharing creativity to add to a balanced life.
Caz’s love of creativity led her to co-own and operate a community art gallery and performance space for 4 years. It included a photography club, many different creative workshops and hundreds of artists exhibitions. As an exhibiting artist herself (photography, painting, video and sound installation), supporting other artists is a right fit.
She currently has her own photography and digital media business, Exposure Arts and Media, working on projects for Government and commercial clients. One of her favorite things to do is photograph the community she is a part of; theatre, cabaret, circus and other areas of performance. She also loves nothing more than to get out into nature with her camera.
On the side, Caz writes and produces music under the pseudonym Dreamgirl and the Motorist, and plays with Sydney band Feick’s Device. She generally keeps this on the down-low though.
Caz is incredibly excited about being the new Managing Editor with Digital Photography School. She loves photography and the dPS business philosophy to help others learn, grow and make an income from doing something they love, is precisely what she believes in. It seems the stars aligned to bring the two of them together, and Caz can’t wait to share with and learn from the dPS community.

Moving Forward

As a fellow Aussie, we’re looking forward to being able to catch up with Caz in person again later this month, and planning exciting changes for dPS.

We hope you join us in welcoming Caz to the team.

The post Introducing New dPS Managing Editor – Caz Nowaczyk appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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