Latest StoriesPhotography
    Beastcam Photogrammetry Rig Scans Live Animals

    Biology processor Duncan Irschick of UMass Amherst introduces the Beastcam, a four-camera rig that can rapidly take photos of live animals for generating 3D photogrammetry models. The rig, which was conceived of when Irschick found it challenging to 3D model a live shark, can shoot 60 photos in about 15 seconds. The photos are sent through software like Autodesk's 123D Catch and used to study body form in animals and complex movements. Irschick hopes to take it back to Florida to test it on a shark!

    Meet Kodak's New Super 8 Film Camera

    Kodak is making a recommitment to film with its new Super 8 camera, announced at this year's CES. We visit the Kodak booth to take a look at the camera, which shoots 8mm film but also has a digital viewfinder and other hybrid elements. Here's what we learned about how filmmakers will be able to take advantage of Kodak's new consumer film ecosystem.

    Meet the Yuneec Typhoon H 4K Camera Drone

    We check out the new Yuneec Typhoon H drone, an RC hexacopter with camera features to rival DJI's Inspire 1. The Typhoon H has a 4K camera mounted on a gimbal that can spin 360 degrees, landing struts that move out of the way, and several automated flight features. Plus, its price isn't that bad either!

    Hands-On with Sony Alpha A7 II Cameras

    One of the reasons we like going to CES is that it gives us a chance to check out high-end camera gear in person. We stop by Sony's booth to learn about the Alpha A7 Mark II line of full-frame mirrorless cameras, including the difference between the base model, the A7S, and A7R cameras.

    Tested: Foxeer Legend 1 Action Camera

    It's been over a year since I reviewed the Mobius Action Camera. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Mobius, this camera emerged in 2013 as a smaller, lighter, and cheaper alternative to GoPro models of the time…with only slightly lower performance specs. Adding a Mobius (well, two actually) to my camera bag drastically broadened my ability to shoot onboard video with my RC models. Thanks in large part to its $80 price tag and good performance, the Mobius gained wide acceptance in the rough-and-tumble world of quad racing…where cameras take a beating. The Mobius has also been embraced around the world as a dash camera, helmet camera, and all-around "whatever" camera.

    Here we can compare the size of the Legend with some of its peers. From left to right are the Mobius, GoPro Hero 3 Black, Legend, and Tactic Drone View

    Time and technology march inexorably forward and the Mobius has now been joined by other cameras with a similar form factor and price point, but improved performance. One of those cameras is the Foxeer Legend 1. While the Mobius tops out with 1080P video at 30 frames per second (FPS) or 720P at 60 FPS, the Legend offers those resolutions at doubled frame rates. Foxeer's little camera is also capable of 1296P resolution at 30 FPS and 16MP (4608 x 3456) stills. While those are impressive specs, image quality and ease of use are also important factors. Let's take a look at how the Legend stacks up.

    What's in the Box

    When I purchased my Legend, black was the only color available. Now they can also be had in orange, red, and green. These new colors should make the camera much easier to find when a mishap sends it sailing off to parts unknown. I've already had to tromp through a plowed field to find mine after the airplane it was riding broke up in flight. I eventually found the camera, but it sure would have been nicer to look for an orange needle in a haystack rather than a black one.

    The 166-degree lens of the Legend protrudes forward and is unprotected.

    The Legend measures 74mm x 36mm x 17mm and weighs 50 grams. It has a built-in 850mAh Li-Po battery that is charged through a mini-USB port. A micro-HDMI port is provided if you want to connect to a monitor for live video feed. Playback of files through the camera is not an option. The camera accepts micro-SD memory cards up to 64GB.

    Up front is a relatively large F2.5 lens that provides a 166-degree field of view (120-degrees in the horizontal plane). The lens is the leading edge of the camera, so it's just begging for scratches. I'm sure it won't be long before lens protectors are available through aftermarket firms and the 3D printing community.

    Watch the View from a Boomerang

    I never tire of the camera's eye view of things, and this video by Victor Poulin of a boomerang with a Mobius video camera attached is no exception.

    And there's an additional cool feature here: The camera has a tail fin and remains mostly stable during flight!

    In Brief: DxO One Gets Major Update with 1.2 App

    Since reviewing the DxO One earlier this Fall, I've been warming up to the device. My criticism of it still stand--it's a boutique product that's pretty expensive and has short battery life. But like other specialty cameras (eg. Ricoh Theta, Lytro), it's something I've begun to carry around in my backpack on a daily basis, and have turned to when I go to events and don't want to carry my DSLR all day. It's not a replacement for my full-frame camera, but a replacement for the iPhone camera (and a reason not to upgrade to the 6S).

    As promised, DxO is releasing software updates that expand on the functionality of the One; a new 1.2 app will enable loupe-based manual focus, expanded shutter range (30 sec to 1/20000), continuous shooting mode, new video modes, and a redesigned viewfinder. And for Apple Watch users, you can trigger the shutter from the watch to snap a photo or start video recording--no live view there, though. This flurry of updates is another reason the DxO and app-tethered cameras are interesting: the product can improve dramatically without buying new hardware. The camera is still $600, and I believe Amazon is running a promotion for the camera with a bundled 32GB microSD card. The 1.2 app will go live in early December.

    Norman
    Photo Gallery: Adam Incognito with Astronaut Chris Hadfield

    Here are some photos I took of Adam and Commander Chris Hadfield prepping for their Comic-Con incognito walk, roaming the convention show floor, and randomly bumping into "The Martian" author Andy Weir! You can actually see the exact moment when Andy realizes that the two 2001: A Space Odyssey astronauts must be Adam and Chris!

    Show and Tell: Palette Modular Controller

    For this week's Show and Tell, Norm shares a new custom modular controller he's been testing for photo editing. Palette is a system of programmable buttons, dials, and sliders that tap into Adobe's suite of apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro. It's proven pretty useful for processing convention photos!

    Comic-Con 2015 Show Floor Walking Tour (Single Long Take)

    If you've never been to San Diego Comic-Con, it's difficult to get a sense of just how massive and packed the convention floor really is. Using a stabilized camera on a handheld gimbal, we give you our walking tour of comic-con, shot in a single 20-minute long take! We wade through the crowd to show you how the convention is laid out, step into a few of our favorite booths, and run into a few friends!

    Show and Tell: Testing Camera Slider Gear

    For today's Show and Tell, Joey and Norm give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of the camera gear we use to film Tested videos. Specifically, camera sliders and motorized mounts that we use in the studio at on location. We've been testing the Redrock Micro One Man Crew motorized slider, which you may have seen used in previous Show and Tell videos!

    10 Awesome Wildlife Photos Taken With A Hidden Camera

    The natural world is replete with fantastic beauty, but many of the creatures in it don’t take too kindly to human beings harshing their mellow. More and more photographers are using hidden cameras, triggered by remote control or proximity sensors, to capture images of wildlife. Today, we’ll share ten amazing images of the wild kingdom taken without a human hand on the camera.

    How To Make a Handheld Camera Gimbal Mount

    There's no question that motorized gimbals do a fabulous job of hiding the bumps and bobbles when you're using an action camera. They're pretty much required equipment for multi-rotor flyers who want to capture decent footage from on high. Recent reviews of the DJI Inspire 1 Mount and the Feiyu-Tech G3 Ultra convinced me that I needed a gimbal for my ground-based video shoots as well.

    As I was browsing the selection of handheld gimbals, I ran across the Yuneec Steady Grip. Like the Inspire 1 Mount, the Steady Grip merely provides an alternate method to hold, power, and control a gimbal that would otherwise reside on a multi-rotor. The unique pistol-like form factor of the Steady Grip made me realize that I already had most of the parts that I needed to build my own handheld gimbal mount. So I abandoned the store-bought approach and went D-I-Y.

    The basic parts needed for this project are a complete gimbal assembly, a surplus pistol grip transmitter case and a servo driver.

    Gathering Parts

    My prime motivation for this project was the desire to easily swap one of my gimbals between its aerial mount and the handheld mount. Being able to utilize a gimbal I already owned presented a substantial cost savings. Adding a gimbal to the bill of materials for this project would likely make it more expensive than just buying a handheld gimbal system outright.

    I chose to use the GB200 2-axis gimbal from my Blade 350QX2 quad. The entire gimbal assembly can easily be removed from its mount on the quad by lifting a lock tab and sliding the base off of its rails. I had already upgraded the gimbal with the proper frame to hold a GoPro Hero 3 camera.

    To emulate the style of the Steady Grip, I plundered my stash of old RC systems. Among them are several pistol-grip transmitters that I haven't used in years. I located a well-used Futaba Magnum Sport that looked like it would do the trick. It didn't matter that the electronics of the radio were still in good shape. I really only needed the plastic shell. Finding a new use for one of my squirreled-away "treasures" has certainly done nothing to improve my hoarding tendencies!

    The GB200 gimbal used for this handheld mount is the same one that I use on my Blade 350QX2 multi-rotor. I can move the gimbal back and forth between the two mounts.

    I wanted to be able to control the pitch of the gimbal while it is in the hand mount. On the quad, this function is controlled by a channel of the radio. I used a servo driver (also called a "servo tester") to transfer this capability to the hand mount. I'll explain later just how that works.

    Different gimbals may require a wide variety of input voltages to operate. I wanted to be sure that I provided the correct voltage for the GB200, but I could not find any specs that defined what it should be. I measured the voltage output at the gimbal power pins on the Blade 350 at around 4.3 volts. With that value in hand, I felt comfortable buying a 5 volt voltage regulator for the hand mount.

    Everything You Need to Know about RAW Photography on Android

    Android camera hardware has gotten very good in the last few years, but the quality of the images you get are largely dependent on the processing technology that a device maker has chosen to implement. When most phones have very similar image sensors, this software can make a huge difference. Slowly but surely, the power to produce better images is being granted to the users with support for RAW image capture.

    If your phone can capture in RAW, you don't have to worry about substandard processing algorithms in the phone. You can take matters into your own hands. Here's how to make RAW photo capture work for you on Android.

    What is RAW and which phones support it?

    Most Android phones are only set up to spit out processed images that have been compressed into JPEGs. This is usually fine, but you're relying on the ability of the stock software to do the scene justice. A lot of data is thrown away in the process, and a RAW file gives you access to all of that. A JPEG from a high-resolution camera sensor might be 4-5MB on Android, but a RAW file could easily be upwards of 30MB.

    These files come with file extensions like .dng and .nef (Android uses .dng). They contain virtually all the data from the sensor, so they're not ready to be tweaked with a standard image editing program or posted on your favorite social network. You need to work with each file and make changes to the colors, white balance, exposure, and more. It can be a significant amount of work, but you're not doing this because it's easy.

    On Android, RAW image capture can be done in a few ways. Both LG and HTC have opted to add the ability for users to snap both JPEG and RAW with the stock camera app on the G4 and One M9. You don't need to do anything other than pop into the settings to make this work. When you press the shutter, the phone outputs a DNG to the internal storage (or microSD card in the case of the G4) along with the JPEG. Samsung is supposed to be adding RAW support to its stock camera app in Android 5.1 for the Galaxy S6, which should be out in a month or so.

    Adobe's Updates for Creative Cloud 2015

    Since moving to a subscription model for its suite of apps, Adobe Creative Cloud's annual updates feel less momentous than the old CS releases. Performance improvements keeps existing paying subscribers happy while new features attempt to convert new users, and the idea is that these updates happen more regularly since Adobe isn't technically bound by any annual release schedule. Still, Adobe makes one major annual update across its program suite for compatibility purposes and to announce new components to its ecosystem. This year, we see the launch of Adobe Stock, a marketplace of 40 million stock images that can be bought a la carte or as part of an add-on subscription offering. It of course integrates well with existing Creative Cloud desktop apps.

    From a photography perspective, the Photoshop and Lightroom updates are respectable. Lightroom already got the bulk of its changes in its version 6 release a few months ago, but now gets a Dehaze tool for removing (or adding) fog and haze from photos. Local adjustments (such as gradient and radial filters) get the black and white adjustment sliders, too. Photoshop gets more updates, including a "realistic blur" tool, graphics accelerated spot healing brushes, content-aware fill for panoramas, and a redesigned export menu. You can find the full Photoshop 2015 feature list here.

    We're also impressed with the new features brought into Premiere Pro, which were shown at this year's NAB. Joey's been experimenting with the new Morph Cut tool and Lumetri Color panel--which incorporates Lightroom-style sliders into the Premiere Pro workflow.

    For Android users, Adobe has also released its Shape, Color, Brush, and Photoshop Mix apps to the Google Play store, building on Adobe's impressive collection of mobile apps.

    Existing Creative Cloud subscribers should have these updates automatically installed by today.

    Testing: LG G4 and Android Smartphone Cameras

    This is a follow up to our review of the LG G4 smartphone we posted last week. I wanted to give you a better look at the photos I've been able to take with the G4, and also to elaborate more on the state of Android cameras in general. The last two Android phones we've tested--the Samsung GS6 and LG G4--have produced the best photos I've seen from any smartphone, iPhone 6 Plus included. But we're still seeing stories like this Motherboard column, proclaiming that Android cameras still suck. It's a hyperbolic headline, but the point of the post has merit: smartphone photo quality is a product of more than just the camera sensor; it's dependent on factors like optics, post-processing, JPEG compression, and even the screen you're using to view those pictures. Apple has done well optimizing its camera hardware and photo software, while Android is at the mercy OEMs' hardware choices and in-house camera apps.

    For example, HTC One M9's harsh photo processing hurts its camera performance, but shouldn't be considered representative of other recent flagships. Samsung and LG are role models when it comes to excellent integration of camera hardware and software--I am loving the photos I've been able to take with them. The GS6 and G4's photo processing algorithms seem to make the most of the raw image data that that passes through their respective optics and sensors. A good image processing algorithm is the result of choices and tradeoffs. Engineers have to prioritize factors like sharpening, tonal adjustments, compression, processing power, speed, and file size. On Android, something that helps is the ability to give that algorithm the best possible image in advance by letting photographers configure manual camera settings. It all starts in the camera app interface.

    The camera app on the LG G4 is one of the most robust I've used on a smartphone. Users have almost all the settings you would find on an entry-level DSLR: white balance, exposure adjustment and lock, ISO, shutter speed, and even manual focus. That lets you effectively shoot in full manual, aperture, or shutter priority (with a fixed aperture, of course). The manual focus "dial" in the camera app threw me off a bit, since autofocus has been sufficient in most smartphones. But I liked the ability to use it for focusing on densely layered subjects like a bouquet of flowers. With the shallow depth-of-field offered by the camera's f/1.8 iris, manual focus was also very useful for macro shots.