Chinese mobile device manufacturer Meizu has launched the PRO 6. It will be sold alongside the PRO 5 with the same 21MP 1/2.4-inch sensor and F2.2 aperture, but updates its dual-tone flash with 10 LEDs arranged in a circular pattern on the back plate. Read more
Using an array of tiny lenses, this concept camera can take a wide variety of shapes
One of the features we were excited by when the a6300 was announced was the promise of 'live view' while shooting continuous bursts of shots. Now we've used and tested it, what do we think?
What's the big deal?
Autofocus systems on mirrorless cameras have been getting better and better with each generation of cameras, to the point that the best of them match (and in some circumstances, exceed) the performance we expect from similarly priced DSLRs.
However, many models still lag behind DSLRs in their ability to show you what's going on while in continuous shooting mode. The common trick of showing a playback of the last captured image makes it hard to keep up with a moving subject, especially if it moves unpredictably, so that you can't just compensate for the lag.
The a6300 isn't the first mirrorless camera to try to offer a live view while continuous shooting (several Nikon 1 models, which use comparatively small sensors to allow fast read-out, even manage to give an uninterrupted feed), but it's still a rare enough feature to make it worth investigating.
What did we find?
We shot the a6300 side-by-side with the Canon EOS 7D (a DSLR that offers the same 8 fps frame rate as the Sony) and found something interesting. The a6300 has a shorter blackout period than the Canon but turns out to only be showing a single updated frame between each capture. At lower, 5 fps shooting rate, we saw two or three frames on display between captures.
That sounds terrible. It sounds like cheating. but it's not quite the end of the story. Watch the beginning of the video again - the real-time playback - it looks pretty convincing, doesn't it?
The fact that it looks so convincing left us wondering: why does the screen ever black out? Why doesn't the camera just continue to show the 'live' image until the next one is available? We think we know the answer.
Note the way that the image doesn't just cut to black - it fades to black then abruptly cuts to the next update. We believe this is trying to achieve something like the 'black frame insertion' technology used in some modern TVs: inserting a black frame prompts your brain to imagine what's happened between the two frames it's seen, rather than being distracted by the contradiction between perceiving a sense of movement but seeing static images.
Does it work?
In real-world shooting this is pretty convincing: we only discovered the camera was just showing single images when we recorded it at 240 fps, and even then it took us a while to convince ourselves that we weren't looking at an error stemming from a clash in display and capture frequencies (temporal aliasing).
So, while the display is only showing you eight frames per second (one between each capture), it's doing so in a way that gives your brain a convincing sense of motion. The question we wanted to answer was: 'if the blackout between frames is short enough, and the motion looks fairly convincing, is it as easy to follow action as with a DSLR?'
We spent some time trying to shoot rugby with the a6300 to see how easy it was to follow the game's fast and unpredictable action. The results were mixed - the camera gave enough information for you to be able to follow the action to a reasonable degree, but not as much as you might want.
|The a6300's live view provided enough information to let us follow the action, but not as much as a high-end DSLR, which meant we reacted more slowly to anything unexpected.|
Alongside the a6300 we were also shooting with the Nikon D5, not as direct comparison but because we also need to shoot sports with it. As you might expect, the $1000 mass-market a6300 wasn't as good as Nikon's $6500 professional sports-oriented camera, but it's the way that it fell short that was interesting.
Although the video further up the page shows that the a6300's live view looks a lot like real motion and its blackout is fairly short (shorter than the EOS 7D's, for instance), in use it becomes clear that your brain actually can make use of the extra information that a fast DSLR gives you about the subject's movement.
For example, at the rugby we found that we could keep pace with the action when shooting with the Sony but it would take us longer to react if we made the mistake of believing a player's dummy-pass and started moving in the wrong direction. With the DSLR we'd spot our mistake sooner and turn back to the real action faster.
|At set pieces, where you have a good idea of what's going to happen next, the a6300 could shoot with confidence.|
Having looked at what the camera's doing and then put to real-world use, we'd conclude that the a6300's continuous shooting live view more successful than its single frame update makes it sound. It's convincing enough to let you keep up with fast action, but there's still room for improvement as soon as anything unexpected happens.
With the annual NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show just around the corner, Canon has announced numerous firmware updates for its video-oriented cameras and display systems.
A new firmware update for the XC10 camcorder adds MP4 recording capability for HD video, improved AF speed and shutter speed options to reduce flicker. You can read our recent review of the XC10 camera here.
Additional products receiving firmware updates include the Cinema EOS C100 Mark II camera, the Cinema EOS C300 Mark II camera (including Canon Log3), the XA30/35 and XF300/305 series of professional camcorders, the VIXIA HF G40 camcorder, the CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lens, and two reference displays.
Canon U.S.A. announces a host of product firmware updates at NAB 2016
New Updates Include Canon Log3 for the EOS C300 Mark II Camera and Support of ARRI Log C and Metadata for Canon’s DP-V2410 4K Reference Display
MELVILLE, N.Y., April 13, 2016 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced firmware updates to several products being showcased at NAB 2016. These firmware updates support a number of feature updates for users including improvement of workflow, ease of use, focusing and lens corrections, color space, and creative flexibility for products in the Cinema EOS, HD Video, and 4K Reference Display lines.
Firmware updates are as follows:
- The EOS C300 Mark II Digital Cinema Camera updates will allow various functions such as shooting in new Canon Log3, viewfinder magnification during recording, focus guide with EF Cinema Prime lenses, Push Auto Iris and Zoom function on the grip joystick with New COMPACT-SERVO and CINE-SERVO series lenses, Canon Dual Pixel CMOS AF (DAF) with COMPACT-SERVO 18-80mm and CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lenses, ACES 1.0 output, peripheral illumination correction updates and overall image improvements such as noise level reduction in low-light for Canon Log2.
- The EOS C100 Mark II Digital Cinema Camera update will allow various functions such as Push Auto Iris and Zoom function on the grip joystick with the new COMPACT-SERVO and CINE-SERVO series lenses, Canon DAF with COMPACT-SERVO 18-80mm and CINE-SERVO 17-120mm lenses, and peripheral illumination correction updates and selectable disabling of the microphone.
- The DP-V2410 4K Reference Display firmware will be updated to support ARRI Log C and ARRI metadata; improve display contrast and dynamic range; add support for Canon Log3 and Hybrid Log Gamma; and display of SMPTE 2084 input signal on the waveform monitor.
- The DP-V3010 4K Reference Display firmware will be updated to improve display contrast and dynamic range; add support for Canon Log3 and Hybrid Log Gamma; and display of SMPTE 2084 input signal on the waveform monitor.
- The CINE-SERVO 17-120mm Lens will be updated to be compatible with Canon’s DAF function in the EOS C300 Mark II and EOS C100 Mark II Cameras.
- The update for the ME20F-SH Camera will include lens support for an additional 19 EF and CINE lenses allowing for more creative choices in a wider variety of shooting applications including television and film production.
- The XA35 and XA30 Professional Camcorders and VIXIA HF G40 Camcorder updates include a new file format making it easier to integrate into third party software systems that are used for athletic coaching applications.
- The firmware updates for the XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders include new shooting modes allowing for greater creative flexibility, Wide DR Gamma (600 percent) Mode, Highlight Priority Mode, and Signal/Noise priority mode.
- The XC10 4K Camcorder firmware will be updated to include a new file format MP4 in HD mode (35 Mbps only), improved AF speed, and shutter speed options for flicker reduction.
To see these products mentioned above at NAB 2016, visit Canon U.S.A., Inc. in the Central Hall, Booth C4325. Follow Canon throughout the show on Instagram at @CanonUSA and Twitter at @CanonUSApro. To learn more about the firmware updates and their availability, please visit www.usa.canon.com/NAB2016Firmware.
Facebook has introduced the Surround 360, which captures 3D, 360 degree video using a total of 17 cameras and can output resolutions of up to 8K per eye. Unusually, Facebook will be making both the camera and processing software open source to give developers the opportunity to improve both.
The Surround 360 itself features 17 synchronized cameras: 14 horizontal, a fisheye on top and two more on the bottom. Each camera has a global shutter (which eliminates rolling shutter) and has been designed for long periods of operation without overheating. Raw Bayer data is captured, which is later processed in the stitching software. All 17 cameras are bolted onto an aluminum chassis so everything stays in place.
Facebook says it has used Point Grey industrial cameras in the Surround 360, which hints at the use of Sony 2nd generation Pregius CMOS sensors with global shutters. The lenses used are 7mm F2.4 lenses designed for up to 1"-type sensors, which could even mean the use of the latest Sony IMX253 or IMX255 chips. If that's the case, then these lenses are roughly equivalent to 19mm.
With incredible amounts of data coming from all of those cameras Facebook uses a Linux-based PC with a RAID 5 SSD array that shares the writing out across eight drives simultaneously. The company has made controlling the camera rig easy, via a web-based interface that allows users to adjust shutter speed, exposure, frame rate and gain.
The stitching software uses the concept of optical flow to resolve disparities between what pairs of cameras can see. The company says this method is 'mathematically trickier' than traditional systems, but yields better results. The end results are 3D/360 videos which can be output at 4K, 6K or 8K per eye. Videos can be viewed on Oculus Rift and Gear VR headsets using Facebook's Dynamic Streaming codec. Videos can also be output and shared on Facebook and other websites.
A big part of the Surround 360's story is that Facebook is opening up both the camera blueprints and processing software to developers, stating that 'we know there are ideas we haven't explored' and 'we know from experience that a broader community can move things forward faster than we can.' The company says that the design and code will be on GitHub this summer.
A 25-year-old photojournalism student beat a host of professionals to Zeiss's €15,000 top prize in its first Zeiss Photography Awards. Tamina-Florentine Zuch's project about train travel in India took her six weeks to shoot, and explores how the nation behaves on the world’s most extensive railway network. Zuch wins Zeiss lenses to the value of €15,000, and will receive her prize during the Sony World Photography Award ceremony in London this month.
Zeiss says its inaugural competition, with the theme 'Meaningful Places', attracted 22,000 images from 3139 photographers across 116 countries and was successful enough that the company will repeat the exercise next year.
Runners up in the competition included Melanie Hübner (Germany), Francisco Salgueiro (Portugal), Patricia Ackerman (Argentina), Helen Mountaniol (Ukraine), Jorge Lopez Munoz (Spain), Erez Beatus (Australia), Lasse Lecklin (Finland) and each of them will have their work shown at the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition.
For more information on the awards, and to see the entries of all of those shortlisted, visit the Zeiss Photography Award website.
ZEISS award for new perspectives
The winner of the first-ever ZEISS Photography Award has been chosen. The prize goes to Tamina-Florentine Zuch from Hannover with her photo series documenting a train journey through India.
“Meaningful Places” was the theme of the first-ever ZEISS Photography Award “Seeing Beyond,” which invited professional photographers and ambitious amateurs to showcase for the first time their talent to a renowned jury and to the broader public. The contest attracted 3,139 photographers from 116 countries – from Albania to Zimbabwe. A total of 22,000 images were submitted. “The results are superb – we were really excited by the breadth and quality of the applications,” praised Scott Gray, CEO of the World Photography Organisation, which organizes the ZEISS Photography Award.
In Tamina-Florentine Zuch, 25, the ZEISS Photography Award has found a worthy winner. Zuch, a student of photojournalism and documentary photography in Hannover, traveled through India by train last year for a period of six weeks. Her pictures show children sleeping in hammocks in stuffy train carriages, men risking their lives as they ‘surf’ railway cars, and exotic landscapes as they pass by. Her “Indian Train Journey” brings this journey to life. Some of the images, which are very intimate, demonstrate Zuch’s photographic mastery at such a young age, her patience, and her sensitivity and tact in dealing with subjects from a completely different culture. “Tamina Zuch has an incredible eye for composition, light and a feel for the right moment. She combines these characteristics again and again in her pictures,” said Steve Bloom, one of the three jurors, enthusiastically. “‘Indian Train Journey’ is a very personal and poetic journey that is told by a fresh, young voice,” added Hans-Peter Junker, juror and editor-in-chief of the reportage magazine View.
As the winner, Zuch will receive ZEISS lenses of her choice for a total value of EUR 15,000, as well as an offer to cooperate further with ZEISS. Seven other photographers – Melanie Hübner (Germany), Francisco Salgueiro (Portugal), Patricia Ackerman (Argentina), Helen Mountaniol (Ukraine), Jorge Lopez Munoz (Spain), Erez Beatus (Australia), Lasse Lecklin (Finland) – made it to the shortlist, which gives them the opportunity to present their work at the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House in London from April 22 to May 8, 2016.
In 2017 the ZEISS Photography Award will enter a new round, with a different theme. “We want to create a platform for photographers to show their art and their idea of creation to an interested public, and to pay tribute to that,” said Dr. Winfried Scherle, Executive Vice President Consumer Optics Business Group of Carl Zeiss AG. And Scott Gray praises: “The ZEISS Photography Award provides photographers with an exciting opportunity to expand their creative boundaries. We look forward to working with ZEISS on more contests in the coming years.”
Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has today launched its latest flagship model, the HTC 10. While the predecessors we tested were frankly disappointing in the camera department, looking at its specs it seems like the 10 has the potential to turn things around for HTC. Read more