Tiniest camera from Hammacher Schlemmer

“The World’s Smallest Camera” is fully functional, but no larger than a fingertip, claims Hammacher Schlemmer.

Measuring just over one inch in all dimensions and weighing only half an ounce, “the camera appears to require Lilliputian dexterity,” the company says, “yet a human finger can snap a picture with a touch of the shutter button.”

The 2-megapixel camera also captures VGA-resolution video, and stores it on an included 2 gigabyte micro SD card.

The $100 camera runs for 30 minutes from a charge via its USB cable.

More information is here.


Olympus to give away 1,000 PEN cameras

On Friday Olympus gave away more than one hundred PEN E-PM1 cameras to “unsuspecting travelers” on a JetBlue flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, the company says.

It was the start of the “PEN Ready Project,” and a video of the in-flight giveaway is here.

That was just the beginning, Olympus says: all told, it will “break all the rules of consumer electronics marketing” and give away more than 1,000 cameras in the US and Canada in undisclosed locations throughout New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, Miami, and nearby its U.S. headquarters in Lehigh Valley, PA.

Also, 100 bloggers on the Tumblr platform will receive the E-PM1. “Because these bloggers cover a diverse range of subjects, including art, fashion, food, sports, travel and more, their PEN photos and videos will be driven by their personal passion,” Olympus says, “making them well-worth seeing for people of all interests.”

The $500 PEN E-PM1 is Olympus’ smallest, lightest interchangeable lens compact system camera.

More information is here.


Ricoh updates prime-lens compact

The GR Digital IV from Ricoh adds a hybrid autofocus system locks in 0.2 seconds, half that of its predecessor.


The GR line of compact cameras feature a fast 28mm/F1.9 lens and a 10 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD. Ricoh says  the newest model boasts a refined image engine and optical filter; sensor shift image stabilization that achieves a stabilization effect equivalent to a shutter speed increase of a maximum of 3.2 stops, the company claims; increased ISO sensitivity to 80 – 3,200; an electronic level that detects tilt; and Dynamic Range Compensation that shoots subjects in backlit or high-contrast scenes.

Another interesting feature: the Interval Composite mode replaces and combines the high-brightness pixel data in images of the night sky taken at fixed intervals. This makes it possible to shoot distinctive landscape pictures that show the trails of light left by the stars, Ricoh says.

Pricing was not announced.

More information is here.


Arecont claims hi-res model can replace 65 security cams

Security camera maker Arecont Vision says its new high-resolution panoramic view camera can replace up to 65 conventional cameras.

The company says its AV20185DN SurroundVideo camera is the world’s first 20-megapixel day/night camera that captures a panoramic 180-degree field of view, and calls it “a cost-effective solution for applications where mechanical pan-tilt-zoom devices might otherwise be used or where multiple cameras would be needed to view expansive coverage areas.”

The camera can view and record extremely wide fields of view while simultaneously digitally zooming in to multiple regions of interest, the company adds, “something a PTZ cannot do.”

It has four high-sensitivity 5-megapixel sensors, each offering a 2,592 by 1,944 pixel view at 11.5fps, for a total image area of 10,368 x 1,944 pixels at 2.8fps. The AV20185DN camera uses dual H.264 and MJPEG encoders for compression flexibility.

More information is here.


SeaLife underwater camera features big buttons

When SeaLife Cameras says “create your own personal undersea concerto of sight and sound,” the company is not just waxing poetic: its new underwater camera has five piano-style keys for easier use in the seas.

The “new design redefines simplicity,” the company says. The five large primary control keys eliminate the confusing button cluster of a traditional camera, “to provide simple one-handed operation in any environment—even with gloves on.”

The DC1400 is a 14-megapixel camera that also captures 720p HD video, and has a 3-inch LCD and 5X optical zoom lens.

The $530 camera is depth-tested to 200 feet, according to SeaLife, and the external polycarbonate body is rubber-armored “for sure-grip handling and shock-protection in all conditions.” The pocket-sized inner camera can be removed from the waterproof housing.

The six underwater Modes include Dive, with UW color correction for diving without external flash, and Snorkel, with UW color correction for snorkeling without external flash.


Instagram speeds up social imaging

Instagram launched its eponymous app almost a year ago, and it’s since become a leader in the nascent social imaging field.

Now the small team of developers has released a substantial update, one that provides a real-time preview of its trademark image filters, and more than doubles the image size.

The company says it’s completely upgraded the primary camera function “with a brand new technology layer.” The new “Live filters” are “so fast, we let you see them live… We’ve re-written filters to be over 200 times faster.”

Also, the “instant tilt-shift” applies a selective blur more than 100 times faster than before, the company says. “Pinch, pan and rotate tilt-shift to give your photos unparalleled depth of field with live preview included. “

But by far the most requested feature was an increased photo size — and now the app captures 1936 by 1936 shots, instead of 612 by 612. [Yes, they are still square.]

The high resolutions images are saved to the phone; a smaller version is uploaded to Instagram’s servers.

More information is here.


WiFi camera maker Dropcam Raises $5.8M

The cloud-based video platform Dropcam says it is “dedicated to helping users keep a watchful eye on what they care about and ensuring they never miss a moment.”

Dropcam’s cameras provide video streams accessible on a computer, smartphone or tablet, with instant email and push alerts for motion and audio detection. Dropcam’s DVR function records up to 30 days of moment-by-moment video.

Now the San Francisco company says it has raised $5.8 million in Series A funding. This round was led by Accel Partners with participation from existing angel investors including Mitch Kapor (a pioneer of the personal computing industry and founder of Lotus Development Corporation), Aydin Senkut (founder and managing director of Felicis Ventures), Ben Narasin (President at Triple Point Capital), David Cowan (partner at Bessemer Venture Partners), Salil Deshpande (General Partner at Bay Partners) and Bradley Horowitz (VP Product, Google+ and an innovator in early video search).

More information is here.


Time-lapse app records facial changes

“Watch Me Change Face is an entertaining app to chart the way a person’s face changes over several weeks, months or a year,” says MJH Apps. “From growing a beard or aging with grace, it is a fun video memory for cataloguing our lives.”


The time-lapse app records changes in your personal appearance, the Frisco, Texas company says, and allows people to capture changes,  like a child’s development, over an extended period of time.

The app encourages users to take a picture each day, with reminders to take daily pictures. An overlay option properly matches photos. Users can remove specific images from the final video, or adjust the length. The app can upload the video sites like Facebook and YouTube with a click.

“For parents, this app is a perfect means of archiving a child’s progress from newborn to infant and beyond,” the company says, and is “an opportunity to share life’s best memories with friends and family worldwide.”

More information is here.


Piictu enables conversations through photos

“Just snap a picture, post it and watch it come to life with photo-replies from friends and strangers.”

That’s the claim of the developers of Piictu, a mobile application that enables conversations through photos. They call their app an influence-based “photo gaming” tool and community — “a powerful “interactive social picture-stream generator.”

At least a few people agree: people with money. TechCrunch reports the developers received $750,000 in seed funding, led by SoftBank, RRE, and Betaworks.

“Picture streams have been increasing in popularity in tandem with the rise of microblogging,” TechCrunch says. “Just as Twitter recently added image galleries to each user’s profile, so are many platforms looking to take advantage of the rise in pictorial conversation.”

More information is here.

Microsoft adds video to Bing home page

Whereas Google’s home page is stark and barren [apart from the sporadic animated doodles and such] Microsoft has differentiated the home page for its Bing web search service with striking photographs. Now its introduced time-lapse video “to celebrate the start of fall, bringing motion to the iconic visuals.”


A time-lapse video of the sun slowly rising over fall foliage is the first to appear on the Bing home page, the company says, “where eye-grabbing images have become an iconic part of the search engine’s brand. It’s always had beautiful images, and breathing a little life into those images through video seemed like a natural evolution for the home page.”

Every couple of weeks, a team of photo editors, writers and producers gather to pick the images that will appear on the home page, Microsoft says. “They look for more than just a pretty picture — something that will make people want to find out more.”


More information is here.


Adobe marks ten years of Photoshop & Premiere Elements with updated versions

It’s been ten years since Adobe Systems first took the core technologies from its Leading Photoshop image editor and Premiere video program and put them behind a simpler interface for the Elements line of consumer software.

Now the company is continuing the successful tactic — both packages are market leaders — and again adds new features that even their “older siblings” lack.

Premiere Elements 10 can turn photos into videos with pan and zoom motions “to add drama and interest.” That’s not new at all, of course — but what is new is an automated function that finds faces in photos using content-intelligent face detection, Adobe says, to pan and zoom to the most important elements of a photo – the people.

Also, the new InstantMovie themes automatically create compelling videos in seconds, and “quickly transform a collection of video clips into lasting movie memories.”

Premiere can now enhance a video clip’s visual clarity with Photoshop’s color correction technology, including new one-click tools and pro-style corrections “for perfect color throughout each movie.”

Photoshop Elements 10 “utilizes intelligent technology that makes it easy to give everyday photos a boost,” Adobe says.

The new Guided Edits can create a shallow depth of field, design a layout of snapshots with Picture Stack, or add “a dream-like diffused glow” with the Orton effect.

The Smart Brush paints unique effects onto specific areas of photos, Adobe says, and features 30 effects like Pencil Sketch and Oil Pastel.

Also: Powerful new functionality can add curving, flowing text to a photo that automatically follows the outline of a subject, custom path or shape. [It’s quite slick and impressive.]

Both programs come with a new Organizer to “manage files with precision.” Its Object Search makes finding photos based on what is in them as easy as drawing a box around the object – from a landmark to a pet, Adobe says.

Also, to keep an entire collection of photos organized and clutter free, the new ability to search for duplicate photos helps users quickly group and delete unneeded photos.

Each program is $100 individually, or bundled together for $150.


Corel makes powerful 3D animation much easier

With MotionStudio 3D, Corel says, “it’s easy for anyone to apply Hollywood- style effects to their home video productions.”

The affordable new software “can create memorable title sequences by making text bounce, twist and explode,” the company adds. Users “can create and embellish 3D objects by adding realistic motion blur and lighting, as well as particle effects such as fire, smoke and snow.”

The $100 3D titling and animation application makes it easy for home video enthusiasts, graphics professionals, and web designers to enhance their projects with sophisticated title effects, motion graphics and 3D animation, Corel says. The Easy Pallet quickly applies 3D pre-sets to text or objects. The program can export 3D models, animated projects, and 3D video for stereoscopic or anaglyph viewing systems.

And as it’s optimized for the latest GPU and CPU chipsets, MotionStudio 3D delivers a fast and responsive experience, applying effects that are viewable in real-time.

Corel gave us a demo two week ago, and the software is very impressive. It delivers features and functions that, a few years ago, were only in the realm of high-end tools costing thousands of dollars.


More information is here.


Alien Skin blows up better

With Blow Up 3’s improved image sharpness, “even huge prints don’t have any traditional computery artifacts” says developer Alien Skin Software.

Anyone who has enlarged a photo with traditional software has experienced the disappointment of blurry details and jagged edges, the company says, but Blow Up 3 “keeps edges sharp and smooth. Especially in large prints hung on a wall, the difference between Blow Up and Photoshop is astounding.” The software now takes into consideration paper type “to make sure prints are crystal clear.”

The $200 Photoshop plug-in also now works in Adobe’s Lightroom software as well.


Nikon introduces its own mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras — at last

Nikon calls its new mirror-free camera “revolutionary.”
It’s not. But it is an important milestone in digital photography.

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras — ILCs, or CSCs for compact system cameras — have been out for three years.

It was way back in August 2008 that Olympus and Panasonic announced their Micro Four Thirds system, which eliminated the mirror box from the SLR mechanism, yielding an approximately 50 percent shorter distance from lens mount to sensor as compared to their own original Four Thirds systems — which were already smaller than competing SLR designs. Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-G1, the first MFT camera, the next month.

In the intervening three years, the two companies have come out with ever-smaller models. They’ve been joined in mirror-free designs by Sony, Pentax, and Samsung.

But while there was plenty of competition in this new field, the two biggest competitors in SLRs stood on the sidelines: Canon and Nikon refrained from entering the fray, and did not even publicly proclaim they had such models in development.

[Read more...]

Debating Mobile Imaging —  in The 6Sight Report

The September issue of 6Sight magazine, the voice of the 6Sight Future of Imaging Conference, is now available here.


September 2011 6Sight Report


In this 35-page issue: Coverage of the Mobile Imaging sessions at the 6Sight conference.

• Camera Phone Hardware:
Senior analyst Tony Henning leads the debate on camera phones with Robbert Emery, OmniVision; Paul Gallagher, Samsung; Sami Niemi, Scalado; and Lars Nord, Sony Ericsson.

• Mobile Imaging Directions:
MobileTrax analyst Gerry Purdy discusses the future of the phone with Margaret Belska, Nvidia; Timo Ahonen, Nokia; David Boardman, Urban Robotics Commercial; and Marty Hollander, Vidyo.

• Social Imaging
Guy Kawasaki talks social networks and photography with Marc Silber, SilberStudios.tv; Darren Kelly, chief revenue officer, Photobucket; Robert Scoble, chief learning officer, Rackspace; Sachin Agarwal, founder and CEO, Posterous; and Frank Simon, founder, Ecce Terram.

• Imaging Analysts
Kristy Holch moderates the debate between Liz Cutting, NPD; Ron Glaz, IDC; Steve Hoffenberg, Lyra Research; Marion Knoche, GfK; Ed Lee, InfoTrends; and Jon Peddie, Jon Peddie Research.

• Imaging News
The latest in mobile phones and internet imaging.

• Inside Out — Bob McKay’s insider’s view.

Thanks for your readership.

More 6Sight Reports are available here.

FotoMedia initiates legal action against Facebook

FotoMedia Technologies filed suit for unauthorized use of its intellectual property against leaders in the social networking space including Facebook and MySpace, the company says.

FotoMedia claims “a majority of the digital camera manufacturers and leading online media-sharing service providers have licensed FotoMedia technology. Social networking is the next logical market to continue these efforts.”

FotoMedia developed its technology in the 1990s, and says it provides for effective and efficient use of digital media across a variety of devices from the time of capture/creation through distribution and sharing of the media.

There are now hundreds of millions of users that have uploaded tens of billions of photos and videos within this ecosystem, the company says, resulting in a substantial amount of revenue and growth driven by access to, and sharing of, digital media.


More information is here.


Canon PowerShots optimized for low light

For working under low-light conditions, Canon says its HS System pairs the sensor with a new DIGIC 5 image processor, which has improved noise reduction and advanced multi-area white balance optimizing color tones of both subject and background under multiple light sources.

The PowerShot S100’s f/2.0 lens further increases the camera’s low-light performance, the company says, by allowing additional light to reach the sensor while creating a shallow depth-of-field for portraits with dynamic, soft backgrounds.  The 5x lens zooms from 24-120mm.

The $430 camera has a 12-megapixel sensor, 3-inch LCD, GPS functionality, and a control ring on the front of the camera for manual adjustment of ISO, zoom and focus. It also captures 1080 HD video with a dedicated button.

The larger PowerShot SX40 HS has many similar features and the same price, but packs a 35x lens that zooms from 24mm-840mm, with image stabilization. It’s LCD is smaller at 2.7-inches, but it pivots for framing shots from multiple angles.


More information is here.


Pentax compact cam zooms 18x

The lens on the RZ18 long-zoom camera from Pentax Imaging zooms 18x — from the equivalent of 25mm wide to a 450mm telephoto, which Pentax says “provides photographers simple, effortless shooting of a wide variety of subjects and occasions.”

The camera has a 16-megapixel CCD, and a three-inch LCD. It can capture up to 40 images at 9 images per second, as well as 720p HD video.

The face detection “instantly and accurately detects as many as 32 faces within the image field, then catches them in sharp focus and optimum exposure in a mere 0.03 seconds — even when some of the faces are tilted or turned away from the camera,” the company says. The camera also has smile and blink detection, and pet recognition.

A wireless infrared remote control is optional.

The $300 compact camera measures 4.3 by 2.4 by 1.4 inches, and weighs 6.7 ounces.

More information is here.


Nintendo adds 3D video recording to 3DS game player

In November an update for the portable Nintendo 3DS system will enable 3D video capture, the company says.

“People will be able to record and view moments from birthday parties, soccer games and holiday events, or create their own original 3D productions and show them to others in 3D, all without the need for special glasses,” Nintendo adds.

The company will also offer new 3D games this Fall.

The $250 game device has three cameras: two for 3D photography, and one pointed at the player. The 3DS also has two screens: The top screen displays 3D images without needing glasses. The bottom screen is touch-sensitive.



Google adds auto-recognize to Goggles Android App

“Your smartphone camera is now smarter,” Google says. The new version of Goggles for Android phone lets you opt-in to “simply photograph an image using your phone’s camera, and Goggles will work in the background to analyze your image. If your photo contains items that Goggles can recognize, the app will notify you.”

Photos you take with your phone’s camera will only be seen by Goggles if you enable the Search from Camera feature.

How will it work? “Let’s say that I’m going on vacation, and I decide to use my Android-powered phone as my primary camera,” says the company. “Goggles would identify landmarks, paintings and other interesting objects in my photos. I can share these facts about my vacation with my friends right from my Goggles search history.”

Google Goggles 1.6 is available for Android 2.1 and newer devices.

More information is here.


Edit videos on YouTube

Google’s video service YouTube has added on-site editing tools.

Users can stabilize hand-held footage, rotate a video, and boost the contrast and colors, YouTube says.

“Until now, when you uploaded to YouTube, your video was hosted and shared, but couldn’t really be changed,” the company adds. ‘If you wanted to trim off the end, swap out the soundtrack, or add an effect, you had to edit your video using a separate program and upload again.” Now instead users can make those changes to the uploaded files, and so also maintain the viewed counts and other attributes of the original upload. Users can also revert to the original after making edits, or save to a new file to try out multiple versions.


CoolIris improves LiveShare for Android

The web and mobile photo app from CoolIris now enables geolocation, so users can explore public groups created in their vicinity.

The software also has a significantly simplified user experience, the company says, and increased the speed at which photos can be captured.

Additionally, users can create public streams that anyone can participate in on liveshare.com  or an Android device.  The stream can be shared out to Facebook, Twitter, or via email so users don’t have to invite friends separately, CoolIris says.


More information is here.


Enhanced image watermarking

Need to “stylishly copyright all your images with a visible watermark within minutes?” Plum Amazing has revamped its watermarking tool, and says iWatermark Pro now uses parallel processing on all CPUs and GPUs “to speed watermarking of one, hundreds or thousands of photos.”

iWatermark “lets you add your personal or business watermark to any photo or graphic,” the company says. “Once added to a photo this visible watermark displays your creation and ownership.”

The $30 software can read Raw photo files, and create watermarks with QR codes which hold such information as email, website or url. Also, multiple Watermarks can be added in different locations on a photo simultaneously. Effects applied to the marks include shadow, outline, engraved, emboss, color burn, color dodge, and inverse.

The tool is also the only watermarking application to work directly within iPhoto via a plugin.


More information is here.


SanDisk preserves pictures for a century

SanDisk calls its Memory Vault “a photo album for the digital age,” and says it “preserves images in one reliable location” — for at least 100 years.

Hard drives contain moving parts and CDs can scratch, SanDisk says. “Memory Vault delivers the long-term reliability that valuable photos deserve.” SanDisk’s Chronolock technology incorporates key elements of advanced solid-state storage to create a proprietary memory management solution, the company claims. SanDisk reports it conducted accelerated temperature cycling tests that simulated the effects of data retention over long periods of time. “This allows the device to provide consumers with peace of mind that their precious photos and videos will be preserved for up to 100 years.”

The USB device has a ruggedized, metallic design. The 8-gigabyte model is $50; the 16GB capacity costs $90, “and can store thousands of images and hours of HD video.”


• SanDisk says it doubled the performance and capacity of its professional-grade storage card for the 64GB Extreme Pro SDXC UHS-I. It has the fastest write performance of any SD card in the world, the company claims, to 90 megabyte per second. The 8GB capacity is $110

• SanDisk’s 64GB microSDXC card can double the capacity of smartphones and tablets, the company says. The card features up to 30MB/sec4 transfer speeds. Pricing starts at $25 for 4GB.

• With a new agreement with Eye-Fi, SanDisk will distribute co-branded SD wireless memory card to consumers throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The wireless card transfers photos and videos from a camera to a nearby smartphone or tablet; when within range of WiFi , the files can glide seamlessly to a computer.



• Most would not destroy photos for $1 million

Photos are so precious that 64 percent of U.S. adults would not consider destroying their family photo collection for any amount of money, not even for one million dollars.

SanDisk issued results from an online survey conducted on its behalf by Harris Interactive from July 28-August 1, 2011 among 2,294 U.S. adults aged 18 and older2.

The survey also found that 79 percent of U.S. adults with digital photos plan on passing them down to future generations.

Also, family photos rank only after family member or pets among the items U.S. adults would save from a house fire. However, more than half of U.S. adults say that they could not gather all of their important family photos within one minute, SanDisk adds. “Memory Vault lets consumers consolidate family photos in one reliable location and quickly access their important images when they need them.”


Adobe syncs and stores photos with Carousel

Manual syncing and device storage limitations are a thing of the past, claims Adobe Systems, as with its new Carousel software, “users never need to worry about wasting time syncing, remembering if a photo was saved to a particular device, or worrying about maxing out storage,” as photos are automatically accessible on any supported device through cloud-based “smart mesh” technology.

The new software service delivers “instant access to your complete photo library and the freedom to edit and share photos anywhere, any time.” Adobe says. Carousel is “designed for anyone who loves photographs,” the company adds, “takes a lot of them, and needs a simple way to view, browse, adjust and share them without worrying about manual syncing or storage.”

Carousel includes iOS client apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and a Mac OS desktop version. Support for Windows and other devices is expected in the first half of 2012.

Carousel uses the photo-processing technology from Adobe’s Lightroom to adjust exposure, shadows, highlights, white balance, vibrance, clarity and contrast. Edits, deletions or additions to the library made on one device are automatically updated across all devices linked with the account. “Photos look great and are easy to share directly with family and friends,” Adobe says.

Also, Carousel simplifies and enhances photo sharing by allowing subscribers to invite friends and family members to collaborate on a photo library, Adobe adds — so anyone with a Carousel-capable device can view existing photos and contribute new ones, apply adjustments and Looks to images, and easily grab and flag favorite photos. Users can also share photos by sending them directly to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or via email.

The service’s introductory price is $60 per year or $6 per month.
More information is here.