Lomography Diana Instant Square Camera launches on Kickstarter

Lomography is crowdfunding its latest film camera, the Diana Instant Square. According to the company, this is the first Instax-compatible camera with a hot-shoe mount and support for interchangeable lenses. Lomography designed this model to work with any of the lenses compatible with the Diana F+, as well as Fujifilm Instax Square film packs.

The new Diana Instant Square camera features a selfie mirror, detachable viewfinder, film counter, an unlimited multiple exposure mode, a bulb mode for keeping the shutter open, adjustable aperture (F11, F19, F32), and an "instinctive zone-focusing system" that toggles between 1 - 2m / 3.3 - 6.6ft, 2 - 4m / 6.6 - 13ft, and 4m/13ft to infinity. A wide variety of flashes can be used with the hot-shoe mount.

Buyers have the following lens choices:

  • 20mm fisheye
  • 38mm super-wide-angle
  • 55mm wide-angle (+ close-up attachment)
  • 75mm kit lens
  • 110mm telephoto

Lomography is currently funding the Diana Instant Square camera on Kickstarter, where it is offering a single Classic unit for pledges of at least $69 USD, which is 30% off the anticipated retail price. The company is also offering a Special Edition of the instant camera for pledges of at least $77 USD. Shipping for backers is expected to start in December for Classic units and January 2019 for Special units.

Via: Kickstarter

Microsoft launches AI-powered Bing Visual Search

Microsoft today announced a new AI-powered Visual Search function for its Bing search engine that will pretty much directly compete with Google Lens. Visual Search will let users search the web and shop online through pictures they have taken or selected from their camera roll.

For example, you can find out more about a landmark or flower by capturing it through the Bing app or uploading it from your device memory. Visual Search will then identify the object in question and provide web links you can explore further.

In the same way, you can shop for fashion items or furniture. If you see an object you like, take or upload a photo of it and the system will reply with shopping options and pricing for similar-looking items.

The Bing team says Visual Search will be continuously improved and expanded but the current version is available today in the Bing app for iOS and Android as well as Microsoft Launcher and the Microsoft Edge browser for Android. It'll also be soon available in Microsoft Edge for iOS and on Bing.com.

Supreme Court rules online retailers such as Amazon and B&H Photo can be required to collect sales tax

One of the biggest appeals of buying cameras, lenses and accessories online may no longer be around. As reported by the NY Times, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has ruled states can now demand retailers to collect sales tax from online sales, regardless of the physical location of the business.

The ruling is the first time since 1992 that the Supreme Court has let states collect sales tax from retailers who don't have a physical presence within their borders.

'In Thursday’s ruling, the court effectively overturned a system that it created. In 1992, the court ruled in Quill Corporation v. North Dakota that the Constitution bars states from requiring businesses to collect sales tax unless they have a substantial connection to the state,' says the NY Times in its report. 'The Quill decision helped pave the way for the growth of online retail by letting companies sell nationwide without navigating the complex patchwork of state and local tax codes..

One of the most well known instances of not having to pay sales tax on items in the photography world is B&H Photo. Based on the 1992 Supreme Court ruling, customers who live outside of the state of New York aren't required to pay sales tax on any gear purchased online at B&H. On a large-ticket item, such as Canon's $10,000 400mm F2.8 IS II lens, that saves a customer just over $887 dollars, based on New York's 8.875% sales tax rate.

This new ruling will also affect online retailers such as eBay and Amazon, the latter of which has used sales tax avoidance as a means of negotiations with states where it's interested in building distribution centers.

Although the ruling is final, it's not expected to go through without challenge, so this won't be the last time we hear of this. In the meantime, you might want to grab any gear you've been looking to get online sooner than later.

Instagram influencer apologizes for using stock and Pinterest images

A popular Instagram user based in Singapore has been caught passing stock images off as his own work. Daryl Aiden Yow, who has worked with many recognizable brands, was called out by Mothership, which highlighted a dozen examples of work he presented as his own. Following the report's publication, Mothership noted that Yow began deleting some images from his Instagram account and adding credits to others.

Yow, who currently has approximately 101,000 followers on Instagram, published an apology in recent hours alongside a plain black image. The statement states, in part:

The outrage regarding how I have conducted myself is justified and I accept full responsibility for my actions and all consequences that arise from those actions.

I was wrong to have claimed that stock images and other people’s work were my own. I was also wrong to have used false captions that misled my followers and those who viewed my images. Having marketed myself as a photographer, I fell far short of what was expected of me and disappointed those who believed—or wanted to believe—in me.

For all of that, I apologise.

As noted by BBC, Yow was listed on Sony's Singapore website as a Creative Ally; the company advised BBC that it is "looking into" the matter. Website MustShareNews reports that it spoke with Yow before his apology was published on Instagram. Yow allegedly told the website that he paid for stock images from providers like Shutterstock; others were acquired from Pinterest or other photographers.

Yow reportedly said that he would tag Pinterest or the photographers as image sources in his posts, though that claim has been called into question. In other instances, Yow said no credits were listed because they weren't required by the seller, according to MustShareNews. Brands were supposedly aware of Yow's use of stock images.

Regardless, Yow presented himself as a photographer on Instagram; he also worked with clients to host photography workshops where he taught others. It appears Yow has removed a few dozen images from his Instagram account, but critics point out that some images, such as this one with an obvious Photoshop blunder (acquired from Pinterest), still lack proper credit.

Via: BBC

Instagram reaches 1 billion active users

With its stand-alone IGTV video app Instagram had a big product announcement this week, but at the launch event in San Francisco the company had another milestone to talk about: after surpassing 800 million active users last September, Instagram has now reached the 1 billion mark.

After Messenger (1.3 billion), Whatsapp (1.5 billion) and Facebook itself (2.2 billion), this makes the mobile image sharing platform the fourth Facebook-owned social media app to reach this lofty number. When Instagram was taken over by Facebook in 2012, it had approximately 40 million users. The app's massive growth makes the 1 billion dollar price tag back then look like a very sound investment now.

It also shows that the recent privacy controversies around Facebook after the misuse of data belonging to 50 million of its users don't appear to have a lasting impact on the company's apps' and services' user numbers.

Oppo Find X smartphone has a slide-up camera for a true full-screen display

Chinese company Oppo has unveiled its new Find X, an Android smartphone with a full screen 19.5:9 "Panoramic Arc" display, rear dual cameras, and a 3D face-scanning front camera. Unlike certain competing smartphones, such as the iPhone X, Oppo elected to use a slide-up mechanism to house the device's cameras, rather than a display notch, resulting in a 93.8% screen-to-body ratio.

Oppo's slide-up mechanism is triggered by swiping up on the handset's lock screen, at which point the 3D face-scanning camera will slide into view to authenticate the user. The Find X does not feature a fingerprint sensor. According to The Verge, initial tests with a pre-production version of the Find X found the sliding mechanism moves quickly enough for comfortable daily use.

Oppo claims the Find X's front-facing 3D camera is "AI-enhanced" to "naturally personalize" a selfie, and that its software offers 3D lighting to produce "artistic portraits." Joining the front 3D camera are dual rear 16MP and 20MP cameras with optical image stabilization. Oppo says its camera software features AI Scene Recognition, a function that works like a "photography technique consultant" with the ability to analyze and identify 800 scene types.

Cameras aside, the Oppo Find X features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The handset ships with Android 8.1 Oreo and the maker's own Color OS veneer. The handset likewise features a 3730mAh battery with fast-charging support.

Oppo will launch Find X globally in August, according to CNET, which reports that the 256GB version will cost €999.

Via: The Verge

Kamlan 28mm F1.4 for APS-C sample gallery

The Kamlan 28mm F1.4 is an all-manual prime lens for APS-C (and Micro Four Thirds) mirrorless cameras. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, it'll go on sale to the public for $200, and after a bit of shooting we'd say that's not a bad deal. It boasts a solid feel, and rings are smooth to turn and feel well-damped. A lack of optical coatings creates some unusual effects when shooting into the sun, and the lens provides no electronic communication with the attached camera body. That said, it's hard to argue with a $200 price tag.

Take a look through our gallery to see what this budget-priced prime can do on Fujifilm and Sony bodies.

See our Kamlan 28mm F1.4 sample gallery

Instagram unveils IGTV, a new standalone app for sharing hour-long vertical videos

Instagram has finally cleared the air regarding rumors and reports that the Facebook-owned social network was looking to get more heavily involved in video content. A new blog post on Instagram's website confirms the impending release of Instagram TV, a new standalone app with a focus on long-form, vertical-first video content.

As detailed by Instagram in its announcement blog post, Instagram TV — IGTV for short — is different from the main Instagram app in a few ways. 'First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.'

When you download and log in to IGTV, you shouldn't have to spend much time going out there and finding content from the get-go. Once you've logged into IGTV, any content creators you follow on Instagram will already be a part of your video content on IGTV. Akin to YouTube, IGTV calls each creator's page a 'channel,' although the call to action remains 'follow,' unlike 'subscribe' on YouTube.

From the second you open IGTV on your device, video content will immediately start playing. Instagram compares this to how a television automatically starts playing content when you turn it on, but it's more or less a fancy way of saying IGTV content is autoplay content.

To keep things familiar, IGTV makes it easy to keep tabs on your favorite creators and find new ones. As with the Instagram app, IGTV will feature a 'For You,' 'Following' and 'Popular' tab for navigation. There's also a new 'Continue Watching' section for revisiting old videos you didn't finish for whatever reason. You can also like, comment and share videos with friends via Instagram's direct messaging system.

In addition to being a standalone app, IGTV content will also appear in the main Instagram app. It's not known whether this cross-app integration will stay, as it seems to more or less to be an effort to get Instagram users onboard with the new app. Whatever the case, for the time being, you should be able to catch the latest content from the people you follow right within the Instagram app.

IGTV will be rolling out across the globe over the 'next few weeks' for both Android and iOS.

NVIDIA researchers can now turn 30fps video into 240fps slo-mo footage using AI

NVIDIA researchers have developed a new method to extrapolate 240fps slow-motion video from 30fps content using artificial intelligence.

Detailed in a paper submitted to the Cornell University Library, NVIDIA researchers trained the system by processing more than 11,000 videos through NVIDIA Tesla V100 GPUs and a cuDNN-accelerated PyTorch deep learning framework. This archive of videos, shot at 240fps, taught the system how to better predict the positioning differences in videos shot at only 30fps.

This isn't the first time something like this has been done. A post-production plug-in called Twixtor has been doing this for almost a decade now. But it doesn't come anywhere close to NVIDIA's results in terms of quality and accuracy. Even in scenes where there is a great amount of detail, there appears to be minimal artifacts in the extrapolated frames.

The researchers also note that while there are smartphones that can shoot 240fps video, it's not necessarily worth it to use all of that processing power and storage when something that will get you 99% of the way there is possible using a system such as theirs. 'While it is possible to take 240-frame-per-second videos with a cell phone, recording everything at high frame rates is impractical, as it requires large memories and is power-intensive for mobile devices,' the researchers wrote in the paper.

The research and findings detailed in the paper will be presented at the annual Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah this week.

Loupedeck announces Loupedeck+ with support for Capture One, better controls

Loupedeck - a popular editing console for Adobe Lightroom users - has received a significant update to both its physical characteristics and its overall compatibility with the launch of the Loupedeck+.

In addition to Adobe Lightroom (and Lightroom CC) Loupedeck+ is now compatible with Aurora HDR and Capture One (the later will be beta support at launch, with full compatibility to be offered soon). There are already a few editing consoles on the market that work with Lightroom as well as Capture One, and it's encouraging to see Loupedeck get in on the Capture One fun as more photographers do.

Physical improvements include better build quality with more responsive mechanical buttons and a greater degree of customization. The Loupedeck+ can be yours for $239 - current Loupedeck owners can upgrade for $50 off.

Press Release:

Introducing Loupedeck+, the Next Evolution of Custom Photo Editing Console, Loupedeck

Next Generation Includes Skylum Aurora HDR Compatibility, Upgraded Build and More Customization Options, All Based on the Photography Community’s Feedback

HELSINKI, Finland – June 20, 2018Loupedeck, the custom photo editing console built with an intuitive design that makes editing faster and more creative, has announced the next evolution, Loupedeck+. While the Loupedeck was the only device on the market custom-built to improve the Adobe Lightroom experience, the Loupedeck+ is now also compatible with popular photo editing software Skylum Aurora HDR(in addition to Adobe Lightroom Classic CC), and is designed with more functionalities, control and increased customization options. Following a year of overwhelming success and customer feedback, the Loupedeck+ was designed in Loupedeck’s headquarters in Finland, with all updates solely based on feedback from the invested photography community.

Specifically, upgrades to the Loupedeck+ include:

  • Mechanical keys with a more precise and sturdy feel
  • Improved build quality
  • Two dedicated customizable dials and seventeen buttons
  • “Custom Mode” that allows full user control of all dials
  • Configuration software built from scratch for an even better, faster and more stable photo editing experience

“We know how dedicated both the professional and amateur photography communities are in their work, and we’re committed to making their lives easier and more productive,” said Mikko Kesti, Founder and CEO of Loupedeck. “There’s no better way to create the next evolution of our flagship product than by going straight to the source and taking their feedback to heart. By adding even more control, efficiency and customization options to the editing process, we’re able to help photographers be more successful by increasing their output and artistry, and look forward to continue supporting them in their work.”

Following Loupedeck’s new partnership with Skylum, the Loupedeck+ will include future integrations with Skylum’s other professional photo editing products, including Skylum Luminar. It is also currently in beta integration with Capture One, with full integration on the way, as well as additional software integrations to follow later this year. These options will provide photographers with a more diverse, intuitive experience, helping to expedite the editing process and maximize the photo editing experience.

"Skylum and Loupedeck share the same vision. We want to help photographers create great photos, differently,” said Alex Tsepko, CEO of Sklyum. “When I discovered that the new version of Loupedeck keyboard is coming out, I knew Skylum software should be the first to support it. This is the kind of innovation modern photographers really need.”

The Loupedeck+ is available for purchase in the Loupedeck Online Store, B&H Photo and Amazon.com for $239. Loupedeck is also offering a cashback opportunity of $50 for current Loupedeck owners.

For more information visit www.loupedeck.com.

About Loupedeck

Loupedeck, the company behind the Loupedeck+, is the only photo editing console custom-built to improve the Adobe Lightroom and Skylum Aurora HDR experience, with an intuitive design that makes editing faster and more creative. It allows both professional and amateur photographers to improve the ergonomics of editing, comfortably increasing output. Loupedeck’s hands-on and highly intuitive console minimizes the use the mouse and keyboard, and it works seamlessly with Apple and PC operating systems.

Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, Loupedeck was founded in 2016 with a highly successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that exceeded its original target by 488 percent. For more information, visit www.loupedeck.com.

About Skylum Software

Skylum Software (formerly Macphun) is a Washington-based photo software developer with the mission to make complex photo editing simple and user-friendly. Thanks to its innovative approach and high-end proprietary technologies, Skylum products have won dozens of various awards, including “Best of the Year” awards by Apple for six straight years. Luminar was honored with the “Best Imaging Software 2017” award by TIPA and “Best Software Plugin” in October 2017 by the Lucie Technical Awards. Aurora HDR was selected as the “Best Mac App of 2017” by Apple.

To learn more about Skylum, please visit http://skylum.com/.

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