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Archive for October, 2017

Oct
17

Google Pixel 2 sample gallery

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The Google Pixel's camera is among the best we've reviewed, and the Pixel 2 has already been hailed as class-leading by DxOMark. So even though the bar was high when we set out to shoot with it, the Pixel 2 (and the guts-are-the-same Pixel 2 XL) has left a very positive first impression on us. Take a look at our sample images – unless otherwise noted, they've been shot using the stock camera app with auto HDR+.

See our Google Pixel 2 sample gallery

Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo
Oct
17

Video Tutorial: How to Make Realistic Images Faster with Aurora HDR 2018

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

As a landscape photographer who relies heavily on HDR to pull off much of my work, I’m always keen to learn about better ways of doing what I do. Most of the time my art tends to run towards natural looking images in contrast to the wild and crazy stuff of HDR’s reputation. The HDR software I use matters when I’m going for a more natural looking photo in my post-processing.

Going natural with Aurora HDR 2018

Aurora hdr 2018 cactus before after

You can see several examples of the natural-looking results I’m getting in from Aurora HDR in the accompanying video and the several before and after images included here in the article.

Aurora HDR 2018 delivers, even more, natural-looking photos than before

The latest version of Aurora HDR is fresh out of the factory and I’ve been in a tire-kicking session with it for a few days making several photos. As expected, it’s a worthy upgrade. Do you want to see what’s new and how it helps when you want to keep the look of your HDR photos on the natural side?

Before

After processing with Aurora HDR 2018.

Under the Hood of Aurora HDR 2018

The Macphun engineers have been very busy for many months re-building Aurora HDR from scratch. It’s like Walter White always says in Breaking Bad, “It had to be done.” In order to create a cross-platform Windows/Mac application, all new code was required. Big job.

The resulting product is something they can be proud of. The new HDR algorithm in Aurora HDR 2018 churns out very natural looking HDR images when it’s used correctly and with natural HDR being the goal. Of course, Aurora HDR 2018 is a perfect fit for my landscape photography work. It uses the most modern tone-mapping technology and an advanced image-processing engine, which makes very clean images, as you’ll notice in my examples.

Before

After processing with Aurora HDR.

 

Video tutorial: Keeping it natural and real in Aurora HDR 2018

All the new features, just added to Aurora HDR 2018 in this release, bring it ever closer to becoming the only app you’ll need to process your HDR images and keep them as natural looking as you want. When you watch the video you’ll see how I use some of the new major features packed into Aurora HDR 2018 when creating my natural looking HDR landscapes. Watch the demo video:

Embracing the faster workflow using Aurora HDR 2018

You probably love photography as much as I do. Getting new tools that really help me get to my intended vision faster, or easier, or just better in any aspect, are quite welcome. They make it even easier to love what I do.

Kudos to the completely rewritten HDR algorithm and the advanced image-processing engine in Aurora HDR 2018. I’m finding that it’s speeding up my workflow significantly. That’s because of how good my photos usually look immediately after tone mapping even without even doing anything else in Aurora.

If I were brand new to photography, I’d be totally happy leaving my photos in that initial tone-mapped state with no further processing. They are that clean!

Before

After

Back in the day (before Aurora HDR), it could take me up to a couple of hours to finish an HDR photo. Even then, it wasn’t all that natural looking much of the time. Thankfully, things are always evolving in exciting ways.

Ever since my foray into HDR photography eight years ago, my skills have improved. But I honestly have to credit the improvements in software, like Aurora HDR 2018, for dramatically reducing the time it takes me to finish a photo to just a few minutes while getting better, more realistic, results.

 

My intention is keeping my post-processing time to five minutes per image and striving for consistently higher quality photography. Aurora HDR 2018 is a big piece in my HDR workflow making that happen so it’s now a permanent tool in my HDR arsenal.

Be sure to watch the video, then I invite you to check out more Aurora HDR images in my SmugMug gallery.

Disclaimer: Macphun is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Video Tutorial: How to Make Realistic Images Faster with Aurora HDR 2018 by Keith Cuddeback appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Oct
17

Take a look inside Leica’s factory in Wetzlar, Germany

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Leica is one of the oldest names in photography, and has long been one of the most prestigious. Since the 1920s, Leica's high-quality miniature cameras have set a standard for mechanical precision arguably unmatched by any other manufacturer, and for decades, many of the world's best photojournalists used Leica rangefinders to document the defining events of the 20th Century.

Almost 100 years after the introduction of the original Leica (a name formed by combining Leitz, the name of the parent company, with 'Camera') Leica Camera AG is still going strong, and still based in its original hometown of Wetzlar, Germany.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Wetzlar to see for myself how Leica's lenses are put together. Flip through the images above for a tour of the facility.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Leica was founded in Wetzlar, and has (mostly) been based there ever since. As such, the company has strong links with the town, the bars and cafes of which benefit from a steady stream of Leica fanatics that make the pilgrimage to the company's birthplace.

I'm not sure what to call this piece - fan art, I suppose? - I found it in the window of an art gallery in Wetzlar's town center. If you hurry, it might still be available for sale.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

The main reception area in Leitz Park is half art gallery space and half showcase. Alongside regularly updated exhibitions, visitors can learn about the history of Leica cameras, and when I was visiting, a temporary exhibition was focusing on some of the many other manufacturers that Leica - let's say - influenced.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

These might look like classic screw-mount Leica rangefinders, but in fact they're products of some of the many brands that after World War II, copied the basic design with varying degrees of success. Some, like Canon and Taylor-Hobson's well-engineered post-war copies, are excellent...

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

...while others, like this shamelessly inaccurate 'Leica M3', which was definitely not made in Wetzlar, don't have quite the same resale value.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

So many Leica copies (mostly of the ubiquitous L39 screw-mount designs) exist that entire books have been written to catalogue them.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Oskar Barnack, on the other hand, was very much an original. A keen amateur filmmaker, he designed the original Leica 'lilliput camera' around the 35mm cine-film format, originally with the intention of measuring cine-film film sensitivity, which varied widely at the time.

When he came up with the design in the early years of the 20th Century, Leitz was still a microscope manufacturer. But after he persuaded Mr Leitz to pursue the development of the Leica, everything changed.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

And here it is. The original 'Ur-Leica' of 1914 (actually a replica - the priceless original is in a vault somewhere, possibly under even worse lighting than this one). While obviously a very different device to the commercially produced rangefinders that came later, Barnack's original camera established many of the essential principles that still guide the design of M-series cameras today.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Through a series of doors at one side of the showroom, is the main assembly plant. Here, cakes of Raw glass (mostly Schott glass) are stacked, prior to the grinding, polishing and coating processes that will end with them being assembled into lenses.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Creating a lens is a lengthy, complex process. As they progress through the factory from cakes of raw glass to measured, polished elements, individual glass elements are painted with a protective black varnish, which is rinsed off before each stage. Only when they've undergone final polishing are the components transferred to a temperature and humidity-controlled environment for lacquering and coating.

This is a different approach to that which we've seen in other factories, (like Canon's Utsunomiya plant for example) where virtually the entire process from raw glass to finished lens takes place in a highly controlled clean-room environment.

The logic behind Leica's method is pretty simple: At least until final assembly, it's much easier to keep the individual components of a lens clean via multiple cleaning processes as required, than it is to sterilize the entire environment in which they're handled.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Where a more controlled environment is required, workers place protective coverings on their shoes, and don hair protection and lab coats. Cubbyholes for personal items are deliberately positioned at shin-height as a barrier in front of the doors. This serves to remind absent-minded employees that they need to put on protective clothing before entering the controlled area.

Simple, certainly, but more effective than any signage.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Here, aspherical elements await polishing.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Inside the factory are machines that Oskar Barnack could never have dreamed of. These days, polishing is automated, to ensure a surface accuracy unheard of in his lifetime, of within 0.01 microns. Shaping and polishing processes each take between 30-60 minutes for a single aspherical element.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Here, a ground and polished glass lens element for the CW 85mm cine lens is being measured by laser for surface accuracy.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Results of the measurements are fed in real time to a computer for analysis, to determine if the element requires any further reshaping.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

A finished and coated element is inspected and hand-cleaned.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

After polishing and coating, the elements are ready to be cemented into groups and turned into lenses. This diagram shows instructions for assembling what Leica calls a 'lens head'. This diagram illustrates the lens head for the M-mount 28mm F1.4 Summilux.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

The edges of the glass are then carefully lacquered with black paint to reduce the risk of internal reflections in the finished lens. Again, this is done by hand.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Another schematic, showing another crucial part of every Leica lens - the focusing mechanism. This particular schematic refers to the 35mm F2.5 Summarit. Mating of the main components together is a manual process, even in this 'budget' M-series lens.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

This focusing mechanism should be half-price, because it's been cut in half! Sorry, wrong article.

This bisected component serves as a reference model for technicians on the assembly line.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Here, finished and fully-circular focusing components of the 35mm F2.5 Summarit await checking and final assembly.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Manual checks are a feature of virtually every stage in the manufacturing process. Here, the mount assembly of an M-mount 90mm F4 is attached to a test camera (a rather sad-looking M6, one of several I spotted at various points on the assembly line) to make sure that the bits which are meant to click, click (and the bits that aren't meant to, don't).

Once the mount assembly passes this quick 'real world' test it moves on to the next stage in assembly.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

For high-end, high-precision lenses like the 90mm F2 APO, the human touch is essential. Highly experienced technicians manually evaluate the focusing mechanism of each lens, testing for smoothness, and shaving away tiny slivers of brass to make minute adjustments until they're happy that each one feels perfect.

The final result of this laborious process is a manual focusing experience which feels smooth, luxurious, and exactly like someone spent a long time getting it just right.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

After being checked, adjusted and checked some more, the components of several 90mm 2 APO lenses are placed in trays ahead of final assembly.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Before that can happen, individual components undergo an ultrasonic 'deep clean'.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

And if they're still dirty, there's always the washing machine...

Just kidding. (I assume).

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

After assembly, each finished lens is checked to make sure that it meets Leica's standards. If it doesn't, it's sent back to be taken apart, adjusted, checked and re-assembled.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Here, a 50mm Noctilux has been sent back down the line for disassembly and cleaning.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

At the heart of each Noctilux is a large, eye-wateringly expensive aspherical element, which requires precise alignment in order to ensure the kind of performance that deep-pocketed photographers expect for $11,000.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

After cleaning and re-assembly of the main internal components, the Noctilux is placed on a test bench so that the position of its large aspherical element can be adjusted.

Where the M's are made: Inside Leica's factory, in Wetzlar

The effect of each minute adjustment is checked in real-time on a computer monitor.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

After these adjustments, the lens is tested again, to make sure that its MTF measurements are within design parameters before final reassembly.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Towards the end of the tour, I spied a very unusual looking lens sitting on a desk. It turned out to be a 50mm F1.4 Summilux ASPH destined for one of Leica's 'Jim Marshall' special edition Typ 246 Monochrom camera kits. That would make it one of only 50 such lenses in existence. I like the classic pre-asperical Summilux housing, but I'll take mine in black, please.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

The end of the line - or almost. This is the packing station, where finished lenses are dropped off to be packed up and paired with their paperwork.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Each lens is packed a little differently, with all of the steps and necessary extras detailed in 'the Bible'.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Six 50mm F1.4 Summilux ASPH lenses are delivered, each with four stickers, on which are printed the lens's serial number. The stickers and lenses are bagged together to ensure there are no mixups.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

Once the lens has been nestled into its leather case and packed inside the box, the stickers are transferred to the warrantee documents, and to the exterior packaging. Everything then gets checked one more time by the team in the packing room, and if it all matches up, the inspection document is signed and placed inside the box, ready for shipping.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

This is as close I could get to the M10 assembly line. The chassis of the M10 is machined in Portugal, and a lot of the electronic components arrive in Wetzlar already assembled. Once those parts are mated together, Leica's technicians perform all of the necessary image quality checking and calibration.

Once Leica has fulfilled the great many backorders for the M10, I have no doubt that special editions (and perhaps a Monochrom?) will start rolling off the production lines.

While Leica's assembly lines are less automated than most other lens factories I've visited, the scale of manufacturing is correspondingly lower. Leica is, and has always been a Mittelstand - a medium-sized company - employing relatively few people. Compared to the likes of Canon and Nikon, Leica doesn't sell that many cameras and lenses per year, and I get the impression from speaking to senior executives that they're fine with that.

While the production line for the SL-series lenses is apparently highly advanced (and off-limits for this tour) M-series lenses are still made in much the same way as they have always been. Of course these days, machines do some of the work. The testing instruments are far more precise. There are computers at most of the workstations - there are lasers, guys - but I suspect that a Leica employee who worked at the factory in the 1960s would find much that looked very similar if he or she visited Leitz Park today.

Notable was the atmosphere within the factory, which compared to other lens factories I've visited might best be described as 'collegiate'. Questions are shouted and answered across the assembly lines, street clothes are the norm, and a large box of Haribo gummy candy sits near the main doors, if case anyone needs a quick sugar fix.

Inside Leica's factory in Wetzlar

It was a great privilege to be allowed to visit the Wetzlar facility, and hopefully, if you've ever been tempted to leave a snarky comment on DPReview asking why Leica's cameras and lenses are so expensive, you now have a better idea. The time spent in manufacturing and assembling each lens, and the huge amount of manual labor involved in even relatively simple parts of the process (and even for Leica's lower-cost Summarit M-series lenses) is truly remarkable.

See more camera and lens
factory tours

On my way out, I visited the on-site outlet store (of course I did) where as I munched on some Haribo, this curious and very expensive camera caught my eye. Notice the mismatch between the description, and the number engraved on the front of the rangefinder housing. This is a prototype M9, disguised as an M8 for off-site real-world testing. 'Erlkönig', by the way, is a codename, taken from the title of a characteristically scary and depressing poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (and later, as a choral work, one of Franz Schubert's greatest hits). I won't spoil it for you but suffice to say things don't end well for the little boy in the forest...

As for the garish orange covering on a supposedly incognito prototype camera, well - if you were looking for proof of the elusive German sense of humor, I think you just found it.

Oct
16

Meet the Canon PowerShot G1 X III

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The Canon G1 X Mark III is what would happen if someone crammed a Canon 80D or M5 into a Powershot G5 X body, which is pretty cool. The body is impressively small and light weight, given its large sensor and useful 24-70mm equiv. zoom range, even if the F2.8-5.6 aperture is a tad slow. We're excited to get it in and get shooting, but for now, here's a look into some of its main features and specs.

Oct
16

Meet the Canon PowerShot G1 X III

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The Canon G1 X Mark III is what would happen if someone crammed a Canon 80D or M5 into a Powershot G5 X body, which is pretty cool. The body is impressively small and light weight, given its large sensor and useful 24-70mm equiv. zoom range, even if the F2.8-5.6 aperture is a tad slow. We're excited to get it in and get shooting, but for now, here's a look into some of its main features and specs.

Oct
16

MeFOTO launches MeVIDEO brand with new GlobeTrotter travel video tripod

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Manufacturer of colorful travel tripods MeFOTO is launching its first video tripod via a Kickstarter campaign, and there's a new brand name to along with it. The MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter will be the first of this 'new' company’s tripods, and will feature a new leveling head design and a choice of aluminum or carbon fibre legs.

With a maximum payload of 8.8lbs/4kg, this travel tripod is aimed at the serious video market, including those using large DSLRs and lower end dedicated professional video cameras.

The MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter comes with an aluminum ball and socket-style leveling platform, and a head that offers a long panning handle. The handle can be switched for left or right-handed users, and the four-section legs spread to three positions as well as reverse folding for storage.

For low angled shooting, the center column can be split in two so the shoulders can be dropped close to the ground, and the top half of the column can be attached to one of the tripod legs to create a monopod. MeVIDEO also allows the head to be completely removed from the shoulders and leveling platform, so it can be used on other accessories such as a slider or crane.

The GlobeTrotter will have a maximum height of 65.7in/166.8cm and packs away to 21.9in/55.7cm. It will weigh 6.06lb/2.75kg in carbon fibre and 6.64lb/3.01kg in aluminum.

Users will have a choice of black or ‘titanium’ finishes, both of which are expected to cost $500 for the aluminum version, and $700 for the carbon fibre version although there are, of course, special deals for those pledging support for the campaign at an early stage. The company expects to ship in January 2018.

For more information or if you'd like to put down a pledge of your own, visit the MeVIDEO Kickstarter page.

Press Release

MeFOTO Announces Launch of MeVIDEO Offering First-Of-Its-Kind Travel Video Tripod

MeVIDEO’s sleek design and unmatched usability provides on-the-go filmmakers with an exceptional video tripod experience.

MeFOTO, the innovative tripod manufacturer, today announced the launch of MeVIDEO, a new sister company focusing on the film and video market with a travel video tripod available now on Kickstarter. Incredibly durable, lightweight, thoughtful and intuitive, MeVIDEO is the ultimate high-quality and full-featured travel video tripod.

"We created MeVIDEO with one simple goal: to create the best compact, travel-friendly, user-friendly video tripod ever for today’s on-the-go filmmakers and videographers. We wanted to create a tripod that makes sense from the moment you put your hands on it; something detailed, yet approachable - and then, to make it incredibly beautiful"
Brian Hynes, MeFOTO + MeVIDEO Brand Marketing Manager.

MeVIDEO GlobeTrotter features include:

  • Reverse folding legs to allow for a more compact folded form that makes it perfect for traveling
  • Integrated Leveling Platform for precise, intuitive positioning of your camera on the center column without needing to adjust legs.
  • Removable Flat Base Head featuring ratchet-style metal adjustment knobs for leveling.
  • Head can be used on other flat surfaces such as certain sliders, jibs, half ball adapters and more.
  • Split/center column allows for maximum flexibility as well as providing the ability to get very low to the ground.
  • Support for multiple cameras ranging from the Sony A6500, Panasonic GH5, Sony A7SII, Canon 5D Mark IV to the Canon C100.
  • Independent locking positions for the legs allow for easy setup on any terrain.
  • Integrated, stainless steel spikes can be expanded or retracted into the rubber feet for stability on any surface.
  • Converts to a monopod. Simply unscrew the center column and combine with the padded leg.
  • Available in anodized aluminum or carbon fiber in black or titanium and comes with a padded canvas carrying case for additional protection when traveling.

Kickstarter

MeVIDEO launched their Kickstarter campaign today, with the goal of raising $50,000. Kickstarter contributors will receive a discounted rate of $349 for the aluminum and $499 for the carbon fiber model. When MeVIDEO publicly launches in early 2018, the retail price is expected to be $499 for the aluminum and $699 for the carbon fiber model.

About MeFOTO:

MeFOTO offers two styles and multiple sizes of strategically designed travel tripods in both aluminum and carbon fiber in a variety of colors. They are ideal for on-the-go photographers, and now filmmakers, at every experience level. www.mefoto.com and www.mevideo.co

Oct
16

Polaroid Moto Mod leaked, straps an instant printer to your smartphone

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Leakster Evan Blass has tweeted an image showing two Moto Mods, one of which is said to be a Polaroid instant print camera module for printing photos directly from your smartphone. As with any Moto Mod, this particular module will be compatible with the Moto Z handsets, including the Moto Z Play and Moto Z² Force Edition.

The Polaroid module is a device that connects to the back of a compatible Motorola smartphone to give it extra functionality—in this case, printing small instant prints and essentially turning your phone into an 'instant camera.' Blass didn't provide details about the module, but presumably it would use the same ZINK (Zero Ink) inkless printing technology as Polaroid's existing instant digital camera.

For now this is just a leak, but it's not the first time we've seen the Polaroid Moto Mod; late last month, two images of the same device appeared on the website Technoblog. So it does appear that this attachment is the real deal.

Oct
16

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Photography Tips and Tutorials

Modern digital cameras have a variety of metering modes that they use to evaluate the light coming through the lens and help you choose your exposure settings. Each one is different and designed to fit a specific need. As you gain experience with them you will start to know which metering mode to use for any given scene you are shooting.

If you’re shooting portraits you might want to use Spot or Center-weighted metering, while landscape shooters may prefer the versatility of matrix or evaluative mode. Knowing which mode to use often comes with time and practice. But what if I told you there was a metering mode built-in to some cameras that could basically guarantee your shots would come out properly exposed every single time? Well, if you believe that then I’ve got a bridge in New York I’d like to sell you.

Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode

However, if your camera has Highlight-Weighted metering it will certainly help you get better results from your photos. While I can’t guarantee your pics will be perfect every single time, it can really come in handy if you’re not sure how to meter your scene and want a solution that you know you can rely on.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Different metering modes for different situations

The reason photographers use specific metering modes when shooting various scenes is that they want to make sure the right thing is properly exposed. For example, if you’re shooting a portrait it’s important to make sure your subject’s face is neither too bright nor too dark, even is it means some background elements will end up bright white or pitch black.

Center-weighted metering can solve this problem by helping you arrive at an exposure setting such that whatever is in the middle of the frame (i.e. your subject’s face) is exposed just right. Other metering modes such as Spot, Matrix/Evaluative, and Partial Metering all perform similar functions in that they help you make sure you have just the right camera settings to get precisely the important part of your composition properly exposed.

Highlight-weighted metering tosses all that out the window. In the process, it could also dramatically alter your approach not only to metering a scene but to photography as a whole.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

I used Center-weighted metering here to make sure this couple was exposed just right, even though the background is a bit too bright. I cared more about the couple looking good than the tree leaves behind them.

Enter Highlight-Weighted Metering for Select Nikon Cameras

Available on only a few Nikon cameras, (D5, D850, D810, D750, D500, and D7500 as of the time of this writing) Highlight-weighted metering utilizes the incredible dynamic range of modern image sensors to give you a massive degree of control over your photos. Provided you don’t mind doing a bit of legwork in Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar, or other post-processing software.

It works by looking at the brightest elements of a scene (instead of specific areas like the center or the focus point) and using those as the basis for taking an exposure reading. On the surface, this might seem like a terrible idea because doing so would obviously mean a great deal of your photo could, as a result, be much too dark and underexposed to be usable.

Accessing Highlight-Weighted Metering

I’ve talked to some photographers who own cameras that can do Highlight-Weighted metering, and some of them aren’t even aware that their cameras have this capability. It’s not that surprising since Nikon doesn’t seem to go out of its way to advertise the feature, and even if you know about it you still may not know how to enable it.

To access this feature, press the metering button on your camera and then turn the control dial until you see an icon that looks the same as spot metering, with the exception of an asterisk in the top-right corner.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

You will see the same icon if you look at the rear LCD screen of your camera, and as soon as it appears you’re good to go. However, figuring out how to enable Highlight-Weighted metering is one thing but understanding how it works, when to use it, and how to get the most out of it is another matter entirely.

Exposing for the Highlights

Before I get too deep into what this all means, it’s important to understand that Highlight-Weighted metering isn’t really the best solution to use for everyday shooting. It’s designed to make sure the brightest portions of your composition are not overexposed, which means a great deal of the photo is going to be shrouded in darkness.

You also won’t really see the advantages of using it unless you shoot RAW because it’s designed to give you an image that is extremely flexible due to the amount of data you have to work with during the post-production phase. Since JPEG files toss out such a huge amount of image data, they’re not much use with Highlight-Weighted metering because you simply don’t have much room to edit your photos when developing them in Lightroom.

Metering Mode Comparison

As an illustration of how Highlight-Weighted metering works, consider this series of three images. I took the following shot using Matrix metering mode, which tries to get a good overall balance between highlights and shadows. It’s a mode that many people use by default since it helps you get properly-exposed images in most shooting situations.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Matrix metering resulted in a good overall exposure but the sky is so bright that it can’t be fixed in post-production.

You can see that the camera tried its best to balance out the highlights and shadows, and the resulting image is decent but there is a massive portion of the sky that is simply too bright and can’t be recovered in Lightroom, Photoshop, or any other post-processing software.

Using Highlight-Weighted metering meant that my camera helped me adjust the exposure settings such that the brightest parts (i.e. the sky) were not overexposed, which resulted in an image that seems unusable at first.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Highlight-weighted metering preserved the brightest portions of the image but left the rest vastly underexposed. This is the image as it came right out of the camera.

Fortunately, due to the incredible dynamic range in modern camera sensors, an image like this is perfectly usable. The key is that the highlights haven’t been lost or clipped, so the sky is exposed just fine while the dark portions of the image still contain so much data (because I shot in RAW) that it can still be transformed into a print-worthy photo with just a few clicks.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

The sky was exposed properly, with plenty of shadow details still available for editing. This is the same image as above, after processing to pull detail out of the shadow areas.

Some Caveats

As you might expect, there are some caveats to using this approach as well as a few questions.

First of all, experienced photographers might wonder what the big deal is with this approach since similar results can be had by simply using exposure compensation. That is if you take a shot and see that the image is overexposed, just compensate by underexposing it a few stops. The problem with this approach is that it’s a multi-step solution which means a critical moment can sometimes pass you by while you are adjusting the exposure. However, using Highlight-Weighted metering ensures that the brightest parts of your image will never be clipped and therefore have plenty of data to use when editing.

It’s also worth pointing out that in order to get the benefits of Highlight-Weighted metering you need to be willing to edit your photos afterward in order to bring up the shadows and adjust your images accordingly. If you’re used to shooting JPG or doing minimal editing, it might not be worth the additional time that this solution adds to your workflow.

Finally, to get the most benefits you need to use low ISO values since the data from the sensor will be more usable. Sensor dynamic range drops off at higher ISO values so if you find yourself shooting at ISO 6400, 3200, or even 1600 you won’t be able to bring up the shadows nearly as well as you could with images shot at ISO 100 or 200.

Another example

For one more example, here’s a series of photos of a goose that illustrate this concept in action. This first image was taken using standard Matrix metering which did its job pretty well. Overall the scene is properly exposed, except for one glaring exception: the overexposed part right at the base of the bird’s neck.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Matrix metering, unedited RAW file.

After seeing my results I quickly switched to the Highlight-weighted metering mode. In doing so, my camera made sure that the brightest part of the image was properly exposed, which left the rest extraordinarily dark.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Highlight-weighted metering, unedited RAW file

Fortunately, there was plenty of color data to extract from the shadows, so a little finessing in Lightroom resulted in an image that I’d be happy to post to my Instagram feed.

How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering

Highlight-weighted metering, edited in Lightroom to pull out the shadow detail.

What if you don’t have a Highlight-weighted metering mode?

If you don’t have Highlight-weighted metering built into your camera you can approximate its effects by using Spot metering and the exposure lock button on your camera. This would allow you to set exposure values based on what you deem to be the brightest part of the composition, lock in your settings, and then recompose your shot before snapping the shutter. It’s not as simple or elegant as having the camera automatically meter the scene based on the brightest part of the composition, but it’s worth trying if your camera doesn’t have this function.

Conclusion

I like to think of Highlight-weighted metering as another useful arrow to have in my photography quiver, but not something I use all the time for every one of my shots. For most images, I tend to default to Matrix metering since it will usually give me a properly-exposed shot that I can tweak if I need to.

However, when I find myself in situations with extreme contrast between the lightest and darkest portions I will often switch over to Highlight-weighted metering so I can stop worrying about checking my settings and dialing in exposure compensation. That way I know that I’ll end up with images that I can edit however I need to in Lightroom because nothing will be overexposed.

The post How to Supercharge Your Photography with Highlight-Weighted Metering by Simon Ringsmuth appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Oct
16

DJI ‘AeroScope’ tech shares your drone’s ID and location with law enforcement

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

DJI has launched a security solution that enables law enforcement and other 'authorized parties' such as aerospace agencies to receive identifying information and location data from DJI drones being operated nearby.

The company calls this solution AeroScope, and explains that it is based on existing communication technologies. Put simply, AeroScope uses the communications link between a DJI drone and its remote control to broadcast telemetry data and either a serial number or registration number to anyone with an AeroSpace receiver. In addition to location and ID, the data that is being broadcast includes details such as altitude, flight speed, and direction.

AeroScope is already in use at two unspecified international airports and DJI says that testing is underway in other environments.

During a demonstration last week, DJI explained that AeroScope receivers automatically detect when a related drone powers on nearby, plotting the drone's location on a map alongside its serial or registration number. With this information, officials can determine who the device's registered owner is; however, DJI was adamant that this system does not broadcast personally identifiable data (though that could change in any jurisdiction that establishes regulations requiring such info).

AeroScope is DJI's way of addressing growing concerns from law enforcement and governments around the world over the ability (or lack thereof) to identify and track drones that violate UAV regulations. There have been, for example, instances of drones flying in restricted airspaces, at too high of altitudes, over crowds, and over prison yards. Identifying the owner and operator of these drones remains difficult.

On the other side of the debate are concerns over privacy, which is why DJI decided to use existing communications tech to locally transmit info—rather than the Internet. This, explains DJI, prevents governments from automatically cataloging this data in a database. Only authorized parties will have access to the AeroScope receiver.

The receiver is already compatible with all current DJI drones, but other drone makers can configure their products to transmit ID information that can be picked up by AeroScope, in case law enforcement decides to set this up as some sort of 'standard.'

Press Release

DJI Unveils Technology To Identify And Track Airborne Drones

AeroScope Addresses Safety, Security And Privacy Concerns While Protecting Drone Pilots

12 October 2017 – DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, today unveiled AeroScope, its new solution to identify and monitor airborne drones with existing technology that can address safety, security and privacy concerns.

AeroScope uses the existing communications link between a drone and its remote controller to broadcast identification information such as a registration or serial number, as well as basic telemetry, including location, altitude, speed and direction. Police, security agencies, aviation authorities and other authorized parties can use an AeroScope receiver to monitor, analyze and act on that information. AeroScope has been installed at two international airports since April, and is continuing to test and evaluate its performance in other operational environments.

“As drones have become an everyday tool for professional and personal use, authorities want to be sure they can identify who is flying near sensitive locations or in ways that raise serious concerns,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President for Policy and Legal Affairs. “DJI AeroScope addresses that need for accountability with technology that is simple, reliable and affordable – and is available for deployment now.”

DJI demonstrated the system today in Brussels, Belgium, showing how an AeroScope receiver can immediately sense a drone as it powers on, then plot its location on a map while displaying a registration number. That number functions as the equivalent of a drone license plate, and authorities can use it to determine the registered owner of a drone that raises concerns. In March 2017, in response to growing calls by governments worldwide for remote identification solutions, DJI released a white paper describing the benefits of such an approach to electronic identification for drones.

AeroScope works with all current models of DJI drones, which analysts estimate comprise over two-thirds of the global civilian drone market. Since AeroScope transmits on a DJI drone’s existing communications link, it does not require new on-board equipment or modifications, or require extra steps or costs to be incurred by drone operators. Other drone manufacturers can easily configure their existing and future drones to transmit identification information in the same way.

Because AeroScope relies on drones directly broadcasting their information to local receivers, not on transmitting data to an internet-based service, it ensures most drone flights will not be automatically recorded in government databases, protecting the privacy interests of people and businesses that use drones. This approach also avoids substantial costs and complexities that would be involved in creating such databases and connecting drones to network systems.

This system is consistent with DJI’s problem-solving approach to drone regulation, which aims to strike a reasonable balance between authorities’ need to identify drones that raise concerns and drone pilots’ right to fly without pervasive surveillance. DJI has led the industry with safety and security advances such as geofencing and sense-and-avoid technology, and believes the rapid pace of innovation provides the best means to address new policy concerns.

Drone identification settings will be included in DJI’s initial drone software to allow customers to choose the content of their own drone’s identification broadcast to match local expectations both before and after identification regulations are implemented in different jurisdictions. To protect customers’ privacy, the AeroScope system will not automatically transmit any personally identifiable information until regulations or policies in the pilot's jurisdiction require it.

“The rapid adoption of drones has created new concerns about safety, security and privacy, but those must be balanced against the incredible benefits that drones have already brought to society,” said Schulman. “Electronic drone identification, thoughtfully implemented, can help solve policy challenges, head off restrictive regulations, and provide accountability without being expensive or intrusive for drone pilots. DJI is proud to develop solutions that can help distribute drone benefits widely while also helping authorities keep the skies safe.”

For more information about AeroScope, please contact aeroscope@dji.com.

Oct
16

Nikon D850 Review

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Nikon D850 Review

The Nikon D850 is Nikon's latest high resolution full-frame DSLR, boasting a 46MP backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. But, in a fairly radical departure for the series, it is also one of the company's fastest-shooting DSLRs. This combination of properties should significantly widen the camera's appeal to high-end enthusiasts as well as a broad range of professional photographers.

Key Specifications:

  • 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor
  • 7 fps continuous shooting with AE/AF (9 with battery grip and EN-EL18b battery)
  • 153-point AF system linked to 180,000-pixel metering system
  • UHD 4K video capture at up to 30p from full sensor width
  • 1080 video at up to 120p, recorded as roughly 1/4 or 1/5th speed slow-mo
  • 4:2:2 8-bit UHD uncompressed output while recording to card
  • 1 XQD slot and 1 UHS II-compliant SD slot
  • Battery life rated at 1840 shots
  • 3.2" tilting touchscreen with 2.36M-dot (1024×768 pixel) LCD
  • Illuminated controls
  • 19.4MP DX crop (or 8.6MP at 30fps for up to 3 sec)
  • SnapBridge full-time Bluetooth LE connection system with Wi-Fi
  • Advanced time-lapse options (including in-camera 4K video creation)

High resolution

The use of a backside illuminated (BSI) sensor means that the light collecting elements of the sensor are closer to the surface of the chip. This should not only increase the efficiency of the sensor (improving low light performance) but should also be expected to make the pixels near the edges of the sensor better able to accept light approaching with high angles of incidence, improving peripheral image quality.

Like the D810 before it, the D850 continues to offer an ISO 64 mode, that allows it to tolerate more light in bright conditions. We will be testing whether this gives the D850 the same dynamic range advantage as the D810, as soon as a production version arrives but our initial quick looks suggests it does, meaning it should be able to compete with the medium format sensors used in the likes of the Fujifilm GFX 50S and Pentax 645Z.

A BSI sensor with ISO 64 setting should be able to match the D810's low ISO DR while also offering improved performance in at high ISOs.

The D850 has gained a more usable electronic front curtain shutter option (EFCS), which can now be used quiet shutter modes, as well as live view and Mirror-Up mode. To get the full benefit, though, you need to turn on exposure delay (which has had two sub-second delay settings added). However, exposure delay persists across all shooting modes. Thankfully, and presumably thanks to a redesigned shutter and mirror mechanism, our quick check with a pre-production model suggests that mirror/shutter shock may not be much of an issue, even without engaging it EFCS.

The D850 has no anti-aliasing filter, which should allow for slightly finer detail capture but with added risk of moiré, if any of your lenses are sharp enough to out-resolve a 45.7MP full-frame sensor. There's still no sign of the clever design Nikon patented so, unlike the Pentax K-1 or Sony RX1R II, you can't engage an anti-aliasing effect if you do find false color appearing in densely patterned areas.

High Speed

In addition to the increased speed, the D850 also gains the full AF capabilities of the company's flagship sports camera: the D5. This includes all the hardware: AF module, metering sensor and dedicated AF processor, as well as the full range of AF modes and configuration options, which should translate to comparable focus performance combined with high resolution.

Given the D5 possessed one of the best AF systems we've ever seen and could continue to offer that performance in a wide range of conditions and shooting scenarios with minimal need for configuration, this is an exciting prospect.

As part of this system, the D850 gains the automated system for setting an AF Fine Tune value. It only calibrates the lens based on the central AF point and for a single distance, but it's a simple way to ensure you're getting closer to your lenses' full capabilities, which is handy given you'll now be able to scrutinize their performance with 46MP of detail.

Add the optional MB-D18 battery grip and an EN-EL18b battery, and the D850 will shoot at 9 frames per second.

Impressively, the D850 can shoot at nine frames per second if you add the optional MB-D18 battery grip and buy an EN-EL18b battery, as used in the D5. As well as increasing the camera's burst rate, this combination also ups the battery life to a staggering 5140 shots per charge. You don't get this same boost in speed or endurance if you use a second EN-EL15a in the grip, though.

An MB-D18 plus an EN-EL18b is likely to set you back over $580 over and above the cost of the camera body ($399 for the grip, around $149 for the battery, $30 for the BL-6 battery chamber cover plus the cost of a charger).

The D850 also includes a sufficiently deep buffer to allow fifty-one 14-bit losslessly compressed Raw files, meaning the majority of photographers are unlikely to hit its limits.

Video capabilities

In terms of video the D850 becomes the first Nikon DSLR to capture 4K video from the full width of its sensor. The camera can shoot at 30, 25 or 24p, at a bitrate of around 144 Mbps. It can simultaneously output uncompressed 4:2:2 8-bit UHD to an external recorder while recording to the card. Our initial impression is that the video is pixel-binned, rather than being resolved then downsampled (oversampling), but we'll be checking on this as part of the review process. This risks lowering the level of detail capture and increases the risk of moiré, though it's a better solution than line-skipping. There also seemed to be a fair amount of rolling shutter, but again these are only first impressions from a camera running non-final firmware.

At 1080 resolution, the camera can shoot at up to 60p, with a slow-mo mode that can capture at 120 frames per second before outputting at either 25 or 24p. The 1080 mode also offers focus peaking and digital stabilization, neither of which are available for 4K shooting.

The D850's tilting rear screen will make video shooting easier, though we doubt many will use its contrast-detection tap-to-focus system when they do.

The D850 doesn't have any Log gamma options for high-end videographers, but it does have the 'Flat' Picture Profile to squeeze a little extra dynamic range into its footage, without adding too much to the complexity of grading. It also offers full Auto ISO with exposure compensation when shooting in manual exposure mode, meaning you can set your aperture value and shutter speed, and let the camera try to maintain that brightness by varying the sensitivity.

As you'd expect from a camera at this level, the D850 also includes the Power Aperture feature that allows the camera to open and close the lens iris smoothly when in live view mode. There's also an 'Attenuator' mode for the camera's audio capture, that rolls-off any loud noises to avoid unpleasant clipping sounds.