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Dec
13

High Sight launches the Mini portable cable camera system

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Manufacturer of cable camera systems High Sight has unveiled the latest addition to its product lineup. The Mini System was designed with portability and ease of use in mind, but builds on High Sight's experience building larger and more complex products. The unit is controlled via a button interface and can carry gimbals, such as the DJI Osmo, Gopro Karma Grip and similar models.

“The High Sight Mini has been a blast to create and will be a game changer.” said Kevin Brower, president and chief executive officer of High Sight. “The Mini has evolved into something more than we could’ve hoped for. With our ping pong mode, you can set it up and walk away, it’s like having an extra cameraman on set just continually getting great footage.”

The Mini uses speed and position sensing for smooth movement and has been developed to be be fully autonomous. According to High Sight, this means the operator can focus on camera control, allowing for single user operation when normally two users would be required.

The Mini is made from machined aluminum and weighs only 1.3 lbs (0.6 kg). It can carry a payload of 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg) and easily fits into a backpack.

The demo reel below will give you a better idea of the kind of shots that are possible with the company's cable systems. And if you think the Mini could be a useful tool for shooting your next video, you can find more information on the High Sight website.

Press Release:

High Sight Mini Sets The Bar With Ultra-Portable Design And Smart Functionality

Features Fully Autonomous Mode, Whisper Quiet Movement, and Reliable Performance. High Sight Launches New Product Allowing One of a Kind Shot.

Salt Lake City, Utah, November 7th, 2017 High Sight (highsightcam.com) cable camera systems is proud to launch the ultra-portable and fully autonomous Mini system. The new system was developed through years of experience building larger and more complex products. The Mini was brought about when creator and owner of High Sight saw a need for a smaller version in their current product line.

“The High Sight Mini has been a blast to create and will be a game changer.” said Kevin Brower, president and chief executive officer of High Sight. “The Mini has evolved into something more than we could’ve hoped for. With our ping pong mode, you can set it up and walk away, it’s like having an extra cameraman on set just continually getting great footage.”

Innovative: The Mini was designed to be compact, easy to use, and intelligent. Through years of experience High Sight developed the mini to be fully autonomous. By eliminating the task of controlling the Mini the operator can focus live camera control. This functionality allows for a single user to capture the same shot that would normally require two users. The Mini is great at capturing new and creative angles. Use it to shoot
interesting b-roll or set it on ping pong mode and capture great moments in your next BTS video.

  • Intelligent speed and position sensing for perfectly smooth movement
  • Fully Autonomous mode
  • Button interface for quick and easy operation
  • Compact size allows for maximum portability
  • ¼-20 mount to carry gimbals like the DJI Osmo, Gopro Karma Grip and many more
  • Machined aluminum for increased durability and protection
  • Made in the USA

Specs and Details:

  • Weight: 1.3 lbs. / .6 kg
  • Dimensions: 7.48” Long : 3.2" Wide : 2.3" Tall
  • Max Payload: 3.3 lbs. / 1.5 kg
  • Max Speed: 10 mph
  • Battery: Rechargeable: Lithium ion battery
Dec
13

The Dutch police have shut down their drone-catching eagle program

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Dutch police are retiring their drone-catching eagles due to a combination of performance issues and a lack of need, according to a report from NOS. The eagles were originally deployed as a way to intercept wayward (and potentially dangerous) drones, but training the eagles is reportedly too costly, and the need for them is too low.

Various solutions have been developed to deal with the issue of drones flying where they're not allowed, but the eagles were probably the most interesting, and definitely the coolest to watch in action. In fact, you can see a demonstration of one of these trained eagles in the video below:

Other drone-control solutions involve police drones that launch nets to capture the unwelcome drones, and jamming devices that disrupt a drone's ability to communicate with its remote control, causing the device to return home. The Netherlands, however, chose to experiment with eagles instead.

Unfortunately, despite intense training, the eagles didn't always act as intended, reports NOS, citing a statement from a police spokesperson. Given these training troubles, officials worries that the eagles might not perform as expected when used outside of their training environment.

Between this possibility and a (surprising?) lack of demand for drone-catching eagles, the program is now officially shut down.

Dec
13

When photographers become pitchmen

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

This article was originally published on the PhotoShelter blog, and is being republished in full on DPReview with express permission.


It’s not surprising when camera companies hire photographers to pitch their products. But photographers have also been enlisted to sell other types of products; the result of Madison Avenue trying to romanticize the occupation, even though the reality often fails to meet the expectation. Nowadays photographers are more likely to spend the majority of their time sitting at a desk in post processing, or trying to collect on invoices that are 6 months past due.

Nevertheless, we’ve seen a number of companies in a variety of industries employ photographers in their ad campaigns in the past few years, spaning the gamut from the old living icons to the newest generation of light chasers.

Elliott Erwitt for Cole Haan

As a part of their “Born in 1928” campaign launched in 2013, shoe brand Cole Haan teamed up with the legendary Elliott Erwitt to celebrate the “off” year 85th anniversary of the brand. The cherubic-faced Erwitt looks smartly dressed in a pair of Cole Haan kicks, while draping his camera over his shoulder. Photographer Daniel Jackson shot the campaign.

Lynsey Addario for Audi

Decorated war photographer Lynsey Addario’s decision to appear in a 2014 Audi ad wasn’t without controversy, given the glamorization of the job vis-à-vis the death of her driver at the hands of her captors.

On the other hand, the choice to use a female war photographer undoubtedly had an impact on the public’s understanding and definition of war photographer—showing that both men and women put their lives on the line to cover the atrocities of war.

Steve McCurry and David Alan Harvey for Filson

In 2014, Filson, the longtime purveyor of outdoor clothing and bags, teamed up with Magnum Photographers Steve McCurry and David Alan Harvey to design a set of camera bags that Harvey described as, “something I could use in the Favelas in Rio, but still take to a dinner party.”

Although the bags had a limited run, Filson cleared banked on the mythology of two of the industry’s heavyweights.

Pei Ketron and Paul Nicklen for American Express

Photographer and educator Pei Ketron burst to prominence as one of the early “recommended” photographers to follow on Instagram, helping to make her one of the first photographers to gain half a million followers.

Biologist/photographer Paul Nicken’s incredible undersea images and prominence in the National Geographic’s Instagram feed has helped to propel him to over 3.8 million followers and growing.

The significant social media reach likely influenced American Express’ decision to tap both photographers in early 2016 for a series of travel-based ads touting the benefits of the AMEX Gold Card ("double and triple points, plus no foreign transaction fee!")

Barbara Davidson for Volvo

Former Los Angeles Times photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Barbara Davidson was tapped by Volvo in 2017 to show off their XC60 urban camera safety system. Volvo’s unorthodox approach used Davidson’s skills as a photographer combined with the car-as-camera to create a commercial and gallery exhibition.

Andre D. Wagner for Cole Haan and Theory

Omaha-born social worker turned NYC street photographer, Andre D. Wagner, has been blowing up lately. His timeless street photography has gained him an appreciative audience and broad media coverage with simultaneous comparisons to photographers like Garry Winogrand.

Young, talented, black, and handsome—it’s no wonder that brands like Cole Haan and Theory has started to flock to him as an authentic voice of a generation. Plus, he’s still shooting and developing black and white film!


Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-Founder of PhotoShelter. He's an avid photographer and frequently speaks on how photographers can use online marketing to grow their businesses.

Dec
13

Lomography’s 3-in-1 Neptune lens system is officially on sale

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

After raising $585,085 through Kickstarter earlier this year, Lomography is finally ready to release its Neptune three-in-one lens system for sale to the general public. This odd system uses a single lens base that accepts three different front element groups to can create three individual focal lengths.

The Neptune system provides 35mm f/3.5, 50mm f/2.8 and 80mm f/4 optical configurations via the interchangeable front groups, and two switchable iris units. The kits are available in Nikon, Canon and Pentax mounts and cost £840/$990.

The kits come with all three front element groups—called Despina, Thalassa and Proteus—as well as a set of cut-out stops that influence the shape of out-of-focus highlights to create stars, discs and crosses, among others. A set of adapters is also available for MFT, Fujifilm X and Sony NX cameras that work with the Nikon F and Canon EF mount versions.

For more information, read the full release below or visit the Lomography website.

Press Release

The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System

One Story, Unlimited Endings - Now Available in the Lomography Online Shop and Gallery Stores Worldwide

  • One System, Three Prime Lenses, Two Aperture Mechanisms: The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System packs countless creative options into one compact package. Mix and match focal lengths, f/stops, and special aperture plates to adapt the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System to your style, mood or subject.
  • Three Fixed Focal Lengths for Flawless Images in Every Situation: This handcrafted lens system delivers superb optical quality at a fixed focal length of 3.5/35mm, 2.8/50mm or 4/80mm. The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System offers clean and crisp shots, dense colors and unlimited freedom of choice.
  • A Dual Aperture System for Extended Creative Options: Rely on the seamless iris diaphragm aperture mechanism for stunningly sharp photos and videos, or use the special drop-in aperture plates to create rich bokeh.
  • An Expandable System to Grow With Your Creativity: Inspired by Charles Chevalier’s innovative concept, the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System looks to the future — Lomography is already designing a brand new front lens with an ultra-wide- angle focal length of 15mm.

One System, Three Prime Lenses, Two Aperture Mechanisms:

The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System offers unlimited stylistic possibilities to a whole new generation of photographers. It’s a single lens system that consists of three interchangeable lenses, each of which can be attached to the lens base to shoot at a fixed focal length of 3.5/35mm, 2.8/50mm or 4/80mm. What’s more, you can switch through a range of apertures and use special drop-in aperture plates to achieve countless shooting styles.

Ideal for photography and perfect for videography because of its seamless aperture, the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System offers you the ideal tools and much more for complete creative freedom — whether you’re capturing street, fashion, nature, portraiture or just the beautiful simplicity of everyday life. After months of hard work and incredible support from Kickstarter backers around the world, Lomography is excited to announce the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System is now available in the Lomography Online Shop and Gallery Stores worldwide.

Three Fixed Focal Lengths for Flawless Images in Every Situation:

Each Neptune Convertible Art Lens System has been carefully assembled by hand using the finest multi- coated glass optics. Your shots will be clean, crisp and filled with strong, saturated colors even at the unrivalled closest focusing distances of 0.25m (35mm), 0.38m (50mm), 0.8m (80mm). With three elements in three groups in the lens base, and four elements in four groups in each of the interchangeable front lenses, the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System delivers prime-lens optical quality whilst offering a choice of three different fixed focal lengths.

Use the Thalassa 3.5/35 Art Lens to frame architecture, street and urban scenes at 35mm; rely on the versatile 50mm focal length of the Despina 2.8/50 Art Lens for fashion, editorial and everyday; or change to the Proteus 4/80 Art Lens and shoot perfect portraits and beautiful nature photography at 80mm. Inspired by Neptune’s moons, each focal length is determined by the proximity of their lens’ namesake to that distant, blue planet. Handcrafted to be lightweight and portable, the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System is small, compact and the only thing you need in your bag — no matter where your creativity takes you.

A Dual Aperture System for Extended Creative Options

Each of the interchangeable lens elements of the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System works with a seamless iris diaphragm aperture mechanism to produce meticulously sharp images at smaller apertures, and beautiful smooth bokeh at larger apertures. Each prime lens has its own optimal maximum aperture — f/3.5 for Thalassa, f/2.8 for Despina and f/4.0 for Proteus; but you can also push beyond these to experiment and produce unique effects with the Thalassa and Proteus lens elements. And that’s not all — the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System also includes special aperture plates that you can insert in front of the iris diaphragm to edge your frame with delicate bokeh.

An Expandable System to Grow With Your Creativity

The potential of the Neptune Convertible Art Lens System is unlimited. Inspired by Charles Chevalier’s first convertible lens from the 19th century, Lomography is redefining this classic yet ground-breaking concept as an expandable lens system.

Thanks to the support of Kickstarter backers worldwide, Lomography has already been able to release a Neptune Convertible Art Lens System macro adapter. And that’s not all — having asked backers to vote for their preferred focal length, Lomography is also designing Naiad, a brand new front lens with an ultra-wide-angle focal length of 15mm.

No matter where your creativity takes you, with this Art Lens System in your bag, you’ll be ready for everything. Available in Canon EF, Nikon F or Pentax K mount and compatible with a wide range of other cameras using adapters available from Lomography, it’s the ideal solution for photographers and videographers everywhere.

Thalassa 3.5/35mm Despina 2.8/50mm Proteus 4/80mm

Tech Specs

Focal Length: 35mm, 50mm, 80mm, front element group convertible
Aperture: Dual aperture system

  • Multi-scaled diaphragm aperture: 35mm: extended, f/3.5 - f/22 , 50mm: f/2.8 - f/22, 80mm: extended, f/4 - f/22
  • Drop-in aperture plates


Field of View: 35mm: 63°, 50mm: 46°, 80mm: 30°
Lens Mounting Profile: Canon EF, Nikon F or Pentax K
Closest Focusing Distance: 35mm: 0.25m , 50mm: 0.4m, 80mm: 0.8m
Lens Construction:

  • Lens Base: 3 elements in 3 groups
  • Front Lens: 4 elements in 4 groups for each focal length

Filter Thread: 52mm
Lens Coating: Multi-coated Electronic Contacts: No Focusing Mechanism: Helicoid

Dec
13

Memistore lets you store two extra memory cards right on your camera

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

There are two kinds of photographers out there: those who have lost a memory card, and those who are going to lose a memory card... it's only a matter of time. That's where Memistore comes in: this interesting little camera attachment lets you store two extra SDHC cards right on your camera itself, either using the tripod mount or your hot shoe.

The idea behind Memistore is that, unlike a memory card wallet, you're not going to misplace your camera (and if you do, you have bigger issues to address...). This way, you always have two spare cards at the ready, securely housed in a splash-proof hard case that you can simply rotate out while your camera is still attached to the tripod:

This is the standard way the memistore creators imagine you'll use their gadget, but it's not the only way. A hot shoe adapter is in the works as well. Check out the campaign's Kickstarter video below to learn more or see Memistore in action:

It's a ridiculously simple idea, but one that we could actually see being quite popular, assuming they raise the requisite funding to bring this prototype to market.

To that end: Memistore hopes to raise ~$48,000 in funding on Kickstarter. As of this writing, you can still grab an early backer deal and get your own Memistore for just $20 AUD (~$15 USD), half the price it will cost if and when this little creation goes retail. And the first shipment to early backers is scheduled for May of 2018.

For more info, or if you'd like to order one or two of these for yourself, head over to the Kickstarter campaign page.

Dec
13

Apple’s new iMac Pro arrives December 14th, and first impressions are good

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Listen up power-hungry Apple fanboys! Yesterday, Apple finally announced a release date for its beast of a desktop all-in-one, revealing that the new iMac Pro will be available to purchase starting on December 14th.

The model's arrival will mark the first instance of a new pro-tier Apple desktop release in years, and it'll come in four variants sporting 8-, 10-, 14-, and 18-core configurations. Once available, these iMac Pro models will be the most powerful desktop options ever offered by Apple, ones targeted specifically at creative professionals working with massive image and video files.

Many details on the new iMac Pro are still absent; however, certain information has been revealed ahead of time. Buyers will be able to choose up to 4TB of storage, up to 128GB of ECC DDR4 2666MHz RAM, and a 16GB Vega 64 GPU, according to 9to5Mac. The 8- and 10-core iMac Pro variants will be available first, on December 14th, while the other two won't be available until next year.

But don't expect any of this to come cheap. The base model of the bunch, the 8-core iMac Pro variant, will have a starting price of $5,000 USD, and no other prices have been revealed at this time, although additional information should be available starting on Thursday. Apple states on its iMac Pro website that the new model retains the same slim size as the previous version.

Apple has allowed a couple of journalists to have early access to the new iMac Pro, including Marques Brownlee, who shared his Week #1 impressions of the desktop—and many shots of it—in the video below:

And if you want a photographer's first impressions, Vincent Laforet got his hand on a 10 Core 3GHZ Intel Xeon W, 2TB SSD, 128 GB RAM, Vega 64 Radeon version that did NOT disappoint him.

To learn more, check out the video above, read Vincent's review, or head over to Apple's iMac Pro website.

Dec
13

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Like it or not, 2017 is the year that background-blurring Portrait Modes gained major traction in smartphone photography. Apple and Google both offer improved versions of the mode in their latest devices, making for better-looking results all around. But the two manufacturers take somewhat different approaches to the process, each with different limitations and strengths. Take a look some side-by-side shots to see how they square up.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/60sec 4.459mm ISO 382

Because the Pixel 2 back cameras use both a depth map (stereo) generated from the split pixels as well as 'segmentation' (which uses machine learning to identify people / faces vs. background), both subjects in this photo are largely in focus. This is a result one wouldn't expect from real optics, since the person behind should also be blurred. This doesn't always happen with the Pixel 2, but sometimes it does if the subjects are close to one another and both identified as people / faces. Sometimes it's actually desirable, but at other times it can feel unnatural.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/40sec 4.459mm ISO 400

Because of the F1.8 lens and HDR+ noise averaging (with alignment of images), the Pixel 2 can take photos of even slightly moving subjects in low light. Again note the progressive blur here: the back of the baby seat is only slightly blurred as are the switches in the background but the trees against the sky very far away are far more blurred.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120 6.6mm ISO 80

Here the iPhone's longer - albeit slower (F2.8 vs. F1.8) - lens renders the background blurrier than the similar Pixel 2 shot. Note the odd dark/light patterns in the out-of-focus highlights though. This is commonly seen in out-of-focus highlights on iPhone shots, but not on the Pixel's shots.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/209sec 4.459mm ISO 50

The background is a bit less blurred vs. the iPhone shot, probably largely because of the shorter focal length. Note the algorithm has mistook the bike's steerer tube as part of the background (or foreground). Note the slightly darker centers in the out-of-focus highlights. More on this in the next photo...

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/209sec 4.459mm ISO 50

Lenses in smartphones have complex aspherical elements in them, which can lead to somewhat unpleasant disc-shaped blur that lends itself to things like donut-hole and generally 'busy' bokeh. Portrait mode helps mitigate this effect by blurring background and foreground pixels enough that these odd effects are essentially 'evened out'. But not perfectly: the pixels in the dark rings in the center of each OOF highlight are still replaced by translucent (larger) discs of the same color, meaning there will still be some dark translucent circles in those areas. It's subtle, since most of the pixels in those OOF highlights are light, not dark, but it's still there if you look for it (in the previous photo).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 320

Two things of note in this iPhone shot here: (1) note the patterning within the out-of-focus highlights (it's not a uniform disc) and (2) the blown highlights on the wood since HDR is shy to activate in Portrait Mode. Often tapping on the bright overexposed portion in your preview will darken the image enough to force the iPhone to turn on its HDR mode, but results can be inconsistent. The Pixel 2 cameras in comparison are always operating in HDR+ mode, even in Portrait mode, and are less prone to this.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 89

Note the far better exposure vs. the iPhone: HDR+ ensured the wood in Portrait mode shot did not blow out.

Also, note the brightest out-of-focus highlight, just to the left of the plant. It does *not* have a darker middle as we saw in the bike shot. This is because in the original shot (next photo), this highlight is completely blown, so the algorithm isn't starting with the donut-hole disc we saw in the out-of-focus yellow lights in the bike shot. Completely blown out-of-focus highlights will look smooth and uniform - more so than with the iPhone 8.*

*It's important to keep in mind that since the blurs are largely algorithms, some aspects of the bokeh may be updated simply by software updates. The comments we're making throughout here are only really applicable for the software versions we shot the images with.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 89

Note the three major out-of-focus highlights just to the left of the plant. The darker ones show donut-hole bokeh but are dim enough that they get completely blurred into surrounding pixels in the Portrait mode shot (previous photo). The blown out-of-focus highlight to the left of them gets blurred to a pleasing uniform disc, without a dark center (which was not the case in the yellow out-of-focus highlights in the bike shot, which had slightly darker centers).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 218

Sometimes, with very close-up objects, we've noticed the Pixel 2 cameras do not blur the background much, if at all. Compare this Portrait image to the original image (next photo).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 218

Non blurred version of previous image. It's not much different. We haven't noticed this issue with the iPhone.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 200

The sprouts in the back cause artifacts in this image (see next image for comparison). This can happen with dual camera setups, since the two cameras often see very shifted stereo pairs for close objects. If the two cameras see two different things at what it thinks is the same location in the shot, this can cause artifacts not as easily caused from less separated stereo pairs (although lower separation comes with its host of issues as well).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 127

The Pixel 2 cameras' stereo pair viewpoints are less than 1mm apart (roughly the diameter of the lens), and appear to have fewer issues with artifacts when shooting close-up objects against farther backgrounds. Since overall stereo disparity in the pair isn't drastic, there's less of a chance that the two perspectives see different things at the same image location. Note the sprouts here don't get blurred oddly as in the iPhone image.

Also note the progressive blur in the bread, with the closer parts of the bread less blurred than the further parts. This is because Google uses the stereo pair of images to generate an actual depth map. The subject in focus shows no stereo disparity, objects progressively behind show more and more disparity while objects in front show more disparity but in the *opposite* direction. This is how the algorithms can generate essentially a 'heat map' of further and further behind the subject (or in front) from which it decides how much blur to apply to each pixel.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 320

The iPhone version of this shot has more blown highlights than the Pixel 2 version, presumably because HDR did not kick on automatically.

Also, there are more depth map errors around the subject's hair, again possibly because of how close to the camera she is (where the two cameras are likely to see different things at the same image location).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 147

The Pixel 2 version of this shot has far fewer depth map errors around our subject, particularly her hair.

Also, since HDR+ is always active on Pixel 2 cameras, the captured dynamic range is far higher.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 32

We found the iPhone to struggle a little more with autofocus in backlight and low light, but it did nail focus here for the most part.

Interestingly, the iPhone appears to preserve more of the out-of-focus highlights in the background than the Pixel 2 (next photo).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/867sec 4.459mm ISO 50

The Pixel 2 appeared to struggle less with autofocus than the iPhone 8 Plus, nailing it here.

Of note though is that the Pixel 2 appears to have preserved fewer of the out-of-focus highlights ('bokeh balls' as we call them here around the office), or at least dimmed them compared to the more obvious ones in the iPhone shot. We wonder if this has something to do with the HDR+ algorithm, but are purely speculating.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 250

Often, the iPhone 8 Plus in Portrait Mode would overexpose high contrast scenes, instead of activating HDR mode. HDR seemed reticent to activate in Portrait mode, leading to the blown highlights on faces here.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 160

Tapping on the blown highlights resets dims the exposure and often forces HDR mode to activate. The Pixel 2 phones don't have this issue, as they're always operating in HDR+ mode.

Once exposure is adjusted though, the result is a very well-lit image with nice colors and convincing background blur.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 52

Since the Pixel 2 cameras are always operating in HDR+ mode, blown highlights are well-controlled here resulting in a well-exposed image. Sometimes with very high contrast scenes, though, HDR+ images can start looking a bit 'crunchy' (the same thing happens in HDR merging software depending on the 'radius' setting).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 25

Here the iPhone 8 Plus produces a more pleasing result, with fewer depth map artifacts. It also preserves the warm tone of the sunset scene. Auto White Balance was generally stable and produced desirable results across many different shooting scenarios on the iPhone 8 Plus.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/1560sec 4.459mm ISO 86

The Pixel 2 cameras often show rather extreme variation in White Balance from shot to shot. Quite often, it neutralizes color casts too much: for example, here, it should have chosen a white balance closer to Daylight instead of neutralizing the warm sunset tones.

Also, when tones in the background and foreground are very similar, depth map errors can result. Note the errors around the hair of our subject, which might have been hard to distinguish from the dark trees in the background.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/1560sec 4.459mm ISO 61

Another example of depth map errors due to objects possibly appearing to similar to one another. Look at the artifacts around the hair on the right side of our subject and around her sunglasses. Next, look at how these regions might appear similar to one another in a lower resolution depth map by comparing to the un-blurred image (next photo)

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/1560sec 4.459mm ISO 61

You can see the areas of the blurred photo (previous) that contained artifacts are regions where the foreground and background (the hair vs. tree branches; the sunglasses vs. the dark background) might appear indistinguishable as you try and build a lower resolution depth map.

Another possibility is errors in segmentation, the process of identifying the entire foreground subject using machine learning.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 281

For such a complex scene, the Pixel 2 did remarkably well, choosing to blur more than the iPhone in this case (next photo).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 800

The iPhone also does well, but here keeps more foreground leaves in focus before extremely defocusing the farther background.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 281

Note the progressive blur: objects further in the background are blurred more than objects closer. This is because the depth map is generated from actual stereo measurements of how far an object is from the focus plane.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 500

Apple quoted with the iPhone 7 that it calculates 9 different layers when making its depth map. It presumably does so by a process of precalibration, where certain stereo disparities from the focus plane correlate with certain distances from it. We wonder if this might be why sometimes the subject looks somewhat cut-out from a far away background, if there aren't enough objects behind the subject that fall within those 8 layers (or however many Apple is now using) before that 9th (hyperfocal or infinity) one.

Either that or the masking in this photo makes the subject look somewhat cut-out (see around the hair).

It's impressive though that the arm rest in front of our subject is properly blurred.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 207

The blur in this image looks more natural and progressive to us. The colors leave a bit to be desired though, with somewhat desaturated, greenish skintones.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 159

This looks more natural to us than the 'cut-out' look of the iPhone image, interestingly. However, what's odd is the color tuning, which is different from the front-facing camera (next photo).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 400

We can't help but feel our subject appears more 'cut out' against the background here. We wonder if this has something to do with the number of layers of depth mapping, or a suboptimal masking process (around the hair particularly).

Skintones are more pleasing than with the Pixel 2 image, though.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F2.4 1/60sec 3.38mm ISO 149

The front facing camera oddly has a different color tuning than the back camera and, arguably, a bit more pleasing. Skintones are more magenta as opposed to the cool, sometimes greenish skintones with the rear camera.

It's worth noting the iPhone 8's front camera cannot do Portrait mode. The Pixel 2's front camera does not have a dual-pixel sensor on its front camera, so performs this blur simply through a process of segmentation. That's where machine learning comes in. Google trained a 'convolutional neural network' with nearly a million images of people ('and their hats, sunglasses, and ice cream cones' according to Principal Engineer Marc Levoy) to learn which pixels belong to people vs. not.

And impressive result, given the lack of a depth map. You won't get the progressive gradual blur you get with the real camera, but for selfies this is probably 'good enough'.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/60sec 4.459mm ISO 382

I've included this here because I just wouldn't have expected a smartphone to generate an image like this if you were to ask me just a year or two ago. In low light, dual-pixel AF got focus (it's a little soft because Portrait mode uses a digital crop, then upscales), and foreground and background blur are both well controlled. Look at the progressive foreground blur on the right side of the plastic food table.

The image remains clean thanks to multi-image averaging, while using 1/60s indoors to ensure at least some sharp shots of even a toddler.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 1250

The iPhone's F2.8 aperture in Portrait mode (and smaller sensor), and likely the lack of the 9-frame image averaging HDR+ uses on the Pixel 2 results in many unusable Portrait mode images in low light. Compare this shot to the Pixel 2 one next...

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/60sec 4.459mm ISO 258

The use of a faster aperture (and likely larger sensor even after the digital crop) and 9-frame image averaging of HDR+ generally yields far more pleasing low light portraits on the Pixel 2 than on the iPhone 8 Plus.

HDR+ uses intelligent tile-based image alignment that can keep even moving subjects sharp by selecting appropriate 'tiles' from the sharper images of the subject within the 9-frame buffer used for a single shot. (That's right, the camera is constantly shooting 9 full-resolution images a second - which also ensures zero shutter lag).

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2
F1.8 1/60sec 4.442mm ISO 213

We've found some depth map errors can occur around high contrast edges. Note the dark rails surrounded by light backgrounds can cause problems. Still, this is a heck of a pleasing image of constantly moving toddler... *taken indoors on a smartphone*.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/3344sec 4.459mm ISO 51

Running toddler. Focused (well enough). Isolated from the background. Taken on a smartphone.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/294sec 6.6mm ISO 20

This is a good example of progressive blur with the iPhone 8 Plus. Note how the grass only a bit behind the subject is less blurred than the grass far behind the subject.

Furthermore, in this scenario, HDR *did* kick in in Portrait mode quite often, resulting in even exposures.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/5848sec 4.459mm ISO 61

This is another good example of the progressive blur thanks to the depth map on the Pixel 2: while all the grass and the background looked pretty much in focus in the original, the grass nearer to the subject is blurred less than the grass further away.

There are some artifacts around the subject's hair, but that's not surprising considering she was running toward me while I was running backward.

Again, this is a *smartphone* image!

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/585sec 6.6mm ISO 20

The extra telephoto reach of the iPhone is useful for further compressing foreground and background (and magnifying the background), which can be useful. The iPhone 8 Plus also tended to render more pleasing blue sky tones, and saturation generally.

And remember, since you're shooting HEIF, you get extra storage space savings, and the advantages of 10-bit files with support for more colors thanks to the wide gamut P3 capture. Encoding in P3 gives the cameras a wider color palette to work with after Raw capture.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/2342sec 4.459mm ISO 51

Naturally there's less compression with the Pixel phones due to their wider angle camera used in Portrait mode, but I quite like wide-angle portraiture.

Note the overall lower saturation, and somewhat bland skies. This is up to personal preference, but one thing to note is the Pixel cameras only output sRGB images. This means the color palette with which the camera can 'draw' is limited compared to recent iPhones. Google probably chose this method for now because sRGB is a good standard for most people, and Google doesn't have a key advantage Apple has: a proper ecosystem. Apple is implementing P3 displays in all its devices, from its iPads to its Macbook Pros to its iMacs. That means you'll actually be able to enjoy those extra colors in those P3 images - if they're there - across all Apple devices.

The movie industry has already accepted P3 as the new standard (think of it like Adobe RGB but with more saturated reds, yellows and greens, but a little less cyan-green and cyan saturation). The video industry is eventually aiming for an even larger gamut: Rec.2020, which is only a bit smaller than ProPhoto RGB, and it's great to see Apple pushing the stills industry to adopt it as well.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Sony a7R II
F1.8 1/4000sec 55mm ISO 100

Just for fun, we've included this full frame 55/1.8 shot. On a high resolution screen, or viewed at 1:1, the quality is obviously far above what either smartphone can produce. But flip to the next image and view it at an image level. For many people, the Pixel 2's result is good enough. Especially for a device you have on you at all times that requires just one button press to take a well exposed, focused photo.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/4673sec 4.459mm ISO 62

Compared to the full-frame F1.8 previous shot, for many people this result will be good enough. Especially for a one button-press device you always have on you. Just be careful: don't pixel peep.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/168sec 6.6mm ISO 20

The iPhone's result is smudgier with more artifacts around the hair, but the blur and colors are quite pleasing.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/252sec 4.459mm ISO 51

Compared to the iPhone 8 Plus shot of this same scene, the Pixel 2 retains far more detail than the iPhone shot. This is likely due to its HDR+ mode that is always using multi-image averaging, therefore requiring less noise reduction. The iPhone shot (next) in comparison looks like it's had a lot of noise reduction applied to it, at the cost of detail.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/120sec 6.6mm ISO 160

The smaller aperture on the iPhone combined with the less (or none at all) multi-frame image averaging in Portrait mode than the Pixel 2's 9 shots means the iPhone 8 Plus uses more noise reduction than the Pixel 2. The result: a far smudgier image under the same (yet bright) conditions with far less detail.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/17sec 4.459mm ISO 413

In low light, HDR+ on the Pixel 2 ensures decent noise levels by aligning and averaging multiple images.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 8 Plus
F2.8 1/60sec 6.6mm ISO 1250

The combination of F2.8 and the requirement of 1/60s to avoid camera shake (no OIS on the telephoto lens), and possibly not as advanced multi-frame noise averaging as the Pixel 2 leaves a lot to be desired in low-light portraits on the iPhone.

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

iPhone 5c
F2.4 1/20sec 4.12mm ISO 50

This is in here to remind us of how far smartphone cameras have come. Compare this iPhone 5c image to the Pixel 2 image (next)...

Portrait mode shootout: iPhone 8 Plus vs Google Pixel 2

Pixel 2 XL
F1.8 1/120sec 4.459mm ISO 215

Indoors, but only what should be blurred is blurred! The subject is sharp and in focus, with a blurred background, thanks to a fast shutter speed, HDR+ multi-image averaging with alignment so not much noise reduction is required, and a proper depth map to gradually blur subjects further from the focus plane.

And having this sort of a camera in your pocket at all times means you can capture fleeting moments like when your daughter doesn't want you to leave for work.

Imagine what's to come...

Dec
13

Shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III in Moab

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Moab, Utah is known for its unique desert landscapes as well as a multitude of adventurous outdoor activities. We traveled there recently with photographer Scott Rinckenberger, no stranger to adventure himself, for an action-packed weekend of rock climbing and mountain biking – with a sunrise helicopter ride for good measure.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 III came along on the trip too, putting its 5-axis image stabilization and 4K video capture capabilities to work. Take a look at all of the dizzying heights we took it to in the video above.

Read more about the
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III


This is sponsored content, created with the support of Amazon and Olympus. What does this mean?

Dec
13

Have your say: Best smartphone of 2017

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

This year was a busy one for smartphone manufacturers, with major new handsets released from all of the big players. Take a look at some of 2017's noteworthy new phones, and vote for your favorite!

Dec
13

Have your say: Best smartphone of 2017

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

This year was a busy one for smartphone manufacturers, with major new handsets released from all of the big players. Take a look at some of 2017's noteworthy new phones, and vote for your favorite!