Pholium prints from photo eBooks


Can’t choose between a hardbound printed photo book and an ebook with all the multimedia bells and whistles? Why not have both?

Dallas-based 58 North updated its free Pholium iPad eBook app with the ability to print hardbound photo books — and with the QR codes embedded in Pholium’s printed books, “viewers can experience the same interactive sound and video contained in the eBooks.” When you view a QR code with any smartphone or tablet, you’ll see the multimedia content “to enrich the viewing experience.” The lay-flat printable books are available with glossy or matte finished image wrap covers and can contain up to 158 photos, audio captions and video links. Pricing starts at $43.

“Printed photo books are great, but they are limited to whatever is on the page,” the company adds . “We’re giving life to printed photo books and allowing our users to tell and share a richer story through multimedia assets. The best part: you never have to use a computer.”




Extreme video enhancement and editing from Corel


It’s rare when a technology product announcement is an understatement — but when debuting its latest video editing software, Corel says, “What used to cost users hundreds of dollars is now accessible for less than $80.” And from what I saw in the demonstration of VideoStudio Pro X6, it produces the kind of effects that used to cost tens of thousands, not just hundreds of dollars.

That said, it is an open question however of who needs these high-end tricks. Motion tracking with, for example, a person’s name hovering over their head as they ski down a slope is impressive, but only a few video productions might call for such techniques. If your productions are among those, then this new software is right up your alley — or if, like me, you might just like to try out these Hollywood-style capabilities to see what’s possible these days, you can’t beat the price.

“VideoStudio Pro X6 tackles the latest in consumer video trends,” Corel says. “The progressive tools, combined with the editor’s ease-of-use and speed make VideoStudio Pro X6 the ideal solution for video editors of all levels to create high quality video content of any kind.” The program also now supported Ultra HD  and 4k input from cameras such as GoPro’s latest model, as well as the latest AVCHD 2 specification, Corel says. More information is here.




RhinoCam emulates medium format camera with Sony NEX


Like most snapshooters, I’m never going to spend several thousand dollars to work with a medium format camera. But a few hundred to change over my Sony ILC? Now that sounds intriguing…

Fotodiox claims its $500 RhinoCam approximates medium format photography. But while medium format photography requires a sensor larger than a full-frame 35mm imager, the RhinoCam does not add a larger sensor to the back of Sony’s camera to work around its built-in APS-C-sized chip. Instead, it takes multiple exposures.

Wait, what? …Okay, now it sounds much less appealing. Especially as you still have to stitch the images together, and this adapter doesn’t deliver the deeper dynamic range of a true medium format sensor.

The RhinoCam’s moving platform “positions the NEX sensor for multiple precisely-positioned exposures,” Fotodiox says. (Which is interesting: the camera and sensor move, but, unlike standard panorama shooting with other automated camera mounts, the lens does not.)

Then, the company says, you merge the multiple exposures into one larger image “using automated stitching functionality built into recent Photoshop and other software.” That’s right, you supply the stitching program.

In effect, the device serves as an adapter that connects “a low-cost camera sensor with a medium format lens for astonishing medium format photography at a fraction of the normal price,” as the company puts it. That’s a far cry from being an actual medium format camera, but may prove useful to some photographers — certainly those with medium format lenses that haven’t paid the big bucks for a full-fledged digital back.

“RhinoCam enables photographers at any level to capture the dramatic detail and sharpness only available with a sensor three times larger than even a high-end full-frame 35mm sensor,” the company says. It “delivers stunning 140+ megapixel images while offering photographers their choice of low-cost sensor options and classic lenses.” With an interchangeable lens mount, RhinoCam couples either a Pentax 645, Mamiya 645, or Hasselblad V medium format lens to a Sony NEX series camera.




U.S. Bank launches Mobile Photo BillPay


Want to take a picture to pay your bills? No, you won’t earn money by snapping the shot — but you can now use your camera phone to setup faster financial transactions.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp says it is the first major bank in the United States to deliver Mobile Photo BillPay to its customers. The feature allows customers to set up bill payments by snapping a picture of their bills with their smartphone or tablet. “By eliminating the need to manually enter payment information, it makes adding or transferring billers and paying bills a snap,” the bank says.

Research forecasts Mobile Photo Bill Pay adoption to reach 33 percent among adult U.S. consumers by 2018, the bank adds, and result in 1.4 billion bills migrating to the mobile channel. A study suggests that more than 1 in 5 customers would use this feature.

U.S. Bank is the Mobile Photo Bill Pay technology from Mitek Systems which “automatically and securely extracts relevant information from the paper bill and populates the fields required to make a mobile payment.”




Facebook Feeds Photos


Once again the leading social network is upgrading its appearance — and part of the makeover focuses on photos.

“Today we’re announcing a new version of Facebook designed to reduce clutter and focus more on stories from the people you care about,” the company says. “You see all the stories you saw in your News Feed before, but with a fresh new look. We’ve completely rebuilt each story to be much more vibrant and colorful and highlight the content that your friends are sharing. Photos, news articles, maps and events all look brighter and more beautiful.”

You will be able to select a ‘feed’ on the making view from your friends, posts about the music you listen to, latest news from the Pages you like — or “a feed with nothing but photos.”

Facebook emphasized it now has “the same look and feel on mobile, tablet and web.”




Nikon offers large-frame compact camera


It’s certainly a growing niche of the camera market — and not one in which you’d expect Nikon to offer one of the lowest cost models! But if you want a better sensor without an interchangeable lens-using body, the new field of compact cameras with large or even full-frame sensors now meets your needs.

Sigma, Leica, Fuji, and Sony provide options here, but Nikon’s new Coolpix A will sell for $1,100, and that’s with an APS-C-sized sensor — about 24x16mm, which Nikon calls its DX-format. It’s three times the size of that in the company’s mirrorless interchangeable lens line the Nikon 1.

The new camera is the first Coolpix with  a large sensor. The new flagship model “provides uncompromised image quality and incredibly sharp detail in a compact point-and-shoot camera.” The 16-megapixel resolution is coupled with an all-glass 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) prime lens, which has an f/2.8 aperture.

More information is here.

Nikon also announced the P330, a 12-megapixel model with a standard sized compact sensor, but an f/1.8 lens — “the fastest in the Coolpix line,” the company says — that zooms 5x from 24mm-120mm. It’s $380.




Full-frame Canon sensor captures video in VERY low light


A new sensor captures video even when you can’t see anything — at “a level of brightness in which it is difficult for the naked eye to perceive objects.”

The constant developments and improvements in image capture are always encouraging and bode well for the photography business — especially when they may address long-time banes of everyone’s imaging such as getting the shot in almost-dark settings – or in this case, the getting the footage: Canon developed a high-sensitivity 35mm full-frame sensor, but it’s exclusively for video recording, at least in this first iteration.

Why video? Well, even HD video is about a 2 megapixel frame. By making a large sensor have so few pixels, Canon is able to concentrate on the light gathering capabilities of larger pixels/photosites.

“Delivering high-sensitivity, low-noise imaging performance, the new 35mm CMOS sensor enables the capture of Full HD video even in exceptionally low-light environments,” the company says. The sensor features pixels measuring 19 microns square in size, which is more than 7.5-times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor incorporated in its top-of-the-line EOS-1D X SLR, Canon adds.

The sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry employ new technologies that reduce noise, which tends to increase as pixel size increases, Canon says. “Thanks to these technologies, the sensor facilitates the shooting of clearly visible video images even in dimly lit environments with as little as 0.03 lux of illumination, or approximately the brightness of a crescent moon.”

Using a prototype camera employing the sensor, Canon captured a wide range of test video available here, such as footage recorded in a room illuminated only by the light from burning incense sticks (approximately 0.05–0.01 lux) and video of the Geminid meteor shower.

Canon says it is looking to such future applications for the new sensor as astronomical and natural observation, support for medical research, and use in surveillance and security equipment.




Phase One camera backs push image quality


Medium-format camera maker Phase One announced its new IQ2 series: three new full-frame camera backs with high-speed wireless connectivity and 13 f-stops of dynamic range.

It’s interesting the company says it focused on using WiFi for capture, as a remote trigger, “instead of trying to make our wireless connection a replacement for a wired file transfer, as others have done. Our solution focuses on helping get the right image capture — whether that means perfecting composition or focus, or simply easing the challenges of capturing a hard-to-reach image from a remote location.”

The 80-megapixel IQ280’s WiFi enables remote image capture and viewing of its huge images on an iPad running Phase One’s app. “It represents the pinnacle of image quality,” the company claims. “With an ISO as low as 35, no other camera or digital back can get better silk-like images.”

The 60-megapixel IQ260 offers exposure ranges from 1/10000s to one hour “with virtually noise-free images.” The 60 megapixel sensor at the heart of the IQ260 is a unique 645 format full-frame device found only in this digital back. It offers the widest exposure range opportunities on the market coupled with phenomenal image quality. And both the IQ280 and IQ260 capture raw images at 16-bit color depth per channel, enabling reproduction of scenes with ultra-smooth transitions. The IQ260 Achromatic is a dedicated black & white camera — no color filter array means no interpolation is necessary, so “each and every pixel of the sensor is focused purely on capturing the finest details of an image.”

The IQ2 backs are built from aircraft-grade aluminum. Prices start at $39,990.

More information is here.




Depth imaging: Toshiba develops light-field sensor for phones; Panasonic 3D chip


I’ve made no secret that I’m not too thrilled with Lytro’s light-field capturing cameras that lets you change the point of focus in  photo after it’s captured — after all, how many times will you enjoy doing that? But now Toshiba seems to think that not only is the technique worthy of a niche specialty pocket camera — it’s fit for phones as well.

Toshiba demonstrated image modules that shoot light-field photography, IDG reports, and says it will start production with the year. Photos captured with the chip will contain depth information lacking in standard 2D shots — and Toshiba says this means the modules will not just delver refocusable images, but allow you to control the phone with gestures such as taps in midair. The modules has a CMOS sensor and main lens, with a sheet of tens of thousands of micro-lenses between the two, IDG reports — with which it can capture the scene at slightly different angles, yielding data to produce distance information or refocus. More information is here. 

Also offering depth imaging: Panasonic, with a CMOS sensor that captures 3D video.

Most 3D requires two lenses or a beam splitter, to emulate how light enters our left and right eyes at slightly different angles to yield stereoscopic vision. But Nikkei Electronics reports the new chip works with a single lens. The 2-megapixel sensor has digital micro-lenses. Panasonic will first offer the technology to industrial and mobile devices in 2014. The full story is here.




Is 4MP enough?


HTC phone emphasizes pixel quality over pixel count

HTC says the new sensor, faster shutter speed, and f/2.0 aperture in its latest phone all mean “fantastic pictures and video” and “incredible shots of fast moving things and people in poor light, whether indoors or out.”

You know the old saying: Less is more. Many critics, myself included, have long insisted the imaging industry ignores this maxim, constantly emphasizing megapixels instead of picture quality — when in fact more pixels crammed into a fixed-sized sensor simply means smaller pixels, which gather less light, and yield an image with more noise.

The resolution competition that long engulfed the camera business also crept into camera phones, with 5-, 8-, 13MP and even higher resolutions stuffed into small sensors.

As phone-maker HTC puts it, “The smaller the pixel, the less light each one collects. This results in more visible noise and other defects in both still images and video.”

Now HTC is going against the tide with its latest One phone: four million pixels on a standard-sized sensor instead of the 8–13MP. That means larger photosites that each capture 300 percent more light, the company claims. The 2–micrometer “UltraPixel” has effectively twice the surface area compared to the typical 1.4 micrometer pixel “found on 8MP solutions from leading competitions,” HTC adds. With the One, “there are less megapixels, but the quality of each pixel is substantially higher than the industry average.” This means reduced noise, better low-light capture, and improved overall image quality, HTC says.

With lower resolution, the file size of each image is smaller, “requiring little, if any, compression when sharing, uploading, backing up, or storing in the cloud,” the company says. “This maintains the captured image’s inherent quality.”

The One also features a lens with an F2.0 aperture — the largest available on a smartphone camera, the company claims, letting in “44 percent more light than the iPhone 5.”

It also provides a gyroscope-based, multi-axis optical image stabilization. “While OIS is not new to cameras,” the company says, “this is a significant milestone for smartphones.” The gyroscope detects motion, and the lens physically moves in the opposite direction to counter it. HTC says its engineers “have made significant progress on reducing the OIS component to fit within the beautiful form factor of the HTC One. Leading the industry standards, it can counter motion on two axis and operates at an unprecedented frequency of 2000Hz, which means it detects pitch and yaw movements of the camera, and adjusts for those movements, 2000 times a second. This is much faster than any comparable phone camera with OIS. While other OIS systems might only compensate on one plane of motion, HTC’s system is designed so that the lens tilt an average of 1 degree in all directions from its center point, capable of countering motion from various movement angles.”

Also cool: the “Zoe” mode takes full-resolution videos while simultaneously taking full-resolution still photos.

The Android phone has a 4.7-inch touchscreen, 1.7 GHz quad-core processor, and front-facing stereo speakers and stereo mics.

While the reviews are out, the simple approach HTC is taking here is promising. We look forward to seeing actual pictures taken by reviewers and customers.

More information is here.




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FDA Approves Bionic Eye


Second Sight Announces FDA Approval

These things really take time: we first covered the Argus II retinal prosthesis system back in 2008 — and it’s now received U.S. market approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

All told there were more than 20 years of research and development, says Los Angeles-based Second Sight Medical Products, but the device now provides “potential for the treatment of blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa. With this approval, we look forward to building a strong surgical network in the United States and recruiting new hospitals that will offer the Argus II retinal implant.” The Argus II is slated to be available later this year in clinical centers across the country.

The Argus II provides electrical stimulation of the retina to induce visual perception in blind individuals — and for those currently unable to see anything except, at best, extremely bright lights, the company says, it “has the capacity to offer life-changing visual capabilities” even though the resulting vision is not the same as when these patients had normal vision.

Images captured by a miniature camera housed in the patient’s glasses are converted into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina. These pulses stimulate the retina’s remaining cells, resulting in the corresponding perception of patterns of light in the brain. The patient then learns to interpret these visual patterns thereby regaining some visual function.

The second-generation artificial retina chip is four times smaller than its predecessor and has 60 electrodes instead of just 16. It was designed at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The FDA approval follows two clinical trials, more than $100 million in public investment by the National Eye Institute, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation, and an additional $100M in private investments. It remains the first and only approved retinal prosthesis anywhere in the world, Second Sight says.



Sony unveils ILC, SLR, and compact cams


Just when you thought all the major players were done for the immediate future with making many new additions to their camera lines: Sony comes out with five models in not one, not two, but three distinct lines: compact, mirror-free interchangeable lens, and not-quite-traditional SLR [Sony’s camera has a non-moving translucent reflector].

And all this comes not only on the day when Sony’s major news is its latest PlayStation game console — but also when rumors point to even more ILCs to debut next month…

The cameras were announced in Europe, not the U.S. — but without further adieu, this weeks models are:

The Cyber-shot WX300, billed as the smallest, lightest camera that packs a 20x optical zoom — with optical image stabilization that the company says is “now around twice as effective at high-zoom settings as the previous-generation.” Also, the autofocus is approximately 3.6x quicker than the previous HX20V. The camera’s WiFi works with a smartphone as wireless remote control, “ideal for self-portraits and group shots when you want to be in on the action,” Sony notes. You can also send photos and videos to a smartphone or tablet. The 18-megapixel camera is $329.

The DSC-HX300 has an SLR-style with a 50x zoom with enhanced optical steadyshot. “The position of a second group of lens elements shifts rapidly to correct for tiny hand tremors,” Sony says. The 20-megapixel camera is $499.

The TX30 is a slim compact that’s waterproof down 10 meters, with a 5x zoom. A macro mode uses LED lights. The 18-megapixel camera is $349.

The WX300 and TX30 have the new Beauty Effect that automatically re-touches photos to remove skin blemishes, widen half-closed eyes and whiten teeth.


The newest NEX interchangeable lens model lowers the weight and the cost from previous designs. The 3N weighs just 210 grams. It has a tiltable 3-inch touchscreen, and 16-megapixel APS-C  sensor. With a $500 price and built-in flash, Sony is clearly making this an even easier step up from a compact cam.


The α58 interchangeable lens camera has a translucent mirror for speedy autofocus, and a new Exmor APS sensor with 20 megapixel resolution. The OLED electronic viewfinder “accurately shows the results of adjusting camera settings in real time,” the company says. “Instantly see the result of adjusting exposure compensation, aperture, ISO, white balance, and other parameters before you shoot — not after.”




Canon gets Real — Mixed Reality, that is


You’d think selling more cameras than anyone else would be enough — but Canon is expanding out into new realms — even unreal ones, or at least, virtually enhanced reality.

The MREAL’s head-mounted display and software “create the illusion that computer-generated visuals exist within the real world.” Canon says its new imaging solution for “Mixed Reality” simultaneously merges virtual objects with the real world, at full scale and in three dimensions.

The HMD has video cameras located in front of each eye, which capture real-world video, which is then processed and sent to a computer. Using image processing and directional-sensor data, the computer-generated graphics and the real world are combined with high precision and are displayed on the small monitors located inside the head-mounted display, Canon says. The optical system enlarges the video displayed on the small monitors to “create high-impact, three-dimensional images.

“By combining the rich, visual information of the real world and the flexibility offered by computer-generated images, MR offers an imaging experience that is a step ahead of existing virtual reality technology, which currently only produces computer-generated environments,” the company adds. The MREAL system can benefit companies in such industries as manufacturing, automotive, construction, aerospace, medical, defense, and entertainment. “Canon has a very strong commitment to the augmented reality space, and by leveraging our strong heritage and leadership in optics, we intend to deliver solutions based upon Mixed Reality for use in industries including manufacturing, aerospace and entertainment.”

Canon notes the MREAL System:

• enables customers to develop digital prototypes, identify potential design concerns to reduce prototype iterations, incorporate required characteristics more quickly and get products to market sooner.

• allows customers to make the leap “from screen to seen. With this new system, you can experience, examine, modify, manipulate, discuss, analyze, or present designs with a level of realism that allows complicated ideas and plans to come to fruition quickly and efficiently.”

• brings users to a 3D world where they can interact with virtually any given scene, landscape, environment or object. Designers can closely examine how components manufactured at different locations are expected to come together, or see how light will reflect off the interior trim of a car. Users can view intricate details of the 3D image from almost any angle.

More information is here.





Nikon removes anti-aliasing filter from newest SLR


For it’s latest SLR, Nikon says its “innovative sensor design delivers the ultimate in image quality by defying convention; because of the high resolution and advanced technologies, an optical low pass filter  is no longer used… The resulting images explode with more clarity and detail.”

The D7100 has a 24-megapixel sensor, and shoots six frames per second at full resolution. For video, the D7100 captures 1080/30p, or at 60i/50i (in 1.3x Crop Mode) for optimal playback on HDTV’s when connected via HDMI.

The camera has 51-point autofocus, a 3.2-inch LCD, and an OLED data display within the optical viewfinder.

An optional wireless adapter can transfer photos from up to 49 feet away.





Samsung sans 4G: Galaxy cam goes WiFi only


When Samsung debuted its Android-based Galaxy camera, one complaint was that it was all-but a smart phone that could not make calls, despite having a 3G/4G cellular connection — a connection the user had to pay for.

Now the company has iterated the design with a new model that forgoes the phone transceiver for simple straight-up WiFi-only communications. The plainly named Galaxy Camera (WiFi) runs the Android 4 operating system, “making shooting, enjoying, editing and sharing images from a single device easier than ever before,” the company says.

The camera has a 21x lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 4.8-inch touchscreen, and 19 shooting modes. Pricing wasn’t announced.





MIT, Rambus, promise improved image capture


It’s been a busy few weeks for new camera announcements — and now arriving are the technologies and components that will empower the next generation:



MIT chip processes photos instantly

First up we have a report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of a processor that handles computational photography tasks almost instantly — “a single chip that could perform multiple operations, consume significantly less power compared to doing the same job in software, and do it all in real time,” says one of the researchers behind it.

High Dynamic Range imaging for example, combining multiple shots into one image with wide dynamic range, will take on a few hundred milliseconds on a 10-megapixel image, rather than multiple seconds. This means it is even fast enough to apply to video, MIT adds. It can also be sued to instantly combine a images taken with and without flash.

The full story is here.


Rambus single-shot “Binary Pixel”

Also promising fast HDR and better low-light imaging is Rambus — but the developer says its Binary Pixel handles both with a single exposure.

The technology includes image sensor and image processing architectures with single-shot high dynamic range and improved low-light sensitivity for better videos and photos in any lighting condition, the company says.

“Today’s compact mainstream sensors are only able to capture a fraction of what the human eye can see,” says the company’s chief technology officer. “Our breakthrough binary pixel technology enables a tremendous performance improvement for compact imagers capable of ultra high-quality photos and videos from mobile devices.”

The Binary Pixel technology “mimics the brilliance of human visual processing by sensing photons using discrete thresholds similar to the rods and cones of the human eye,” Rambus adds. “This ‘binary operation’ creates dramatically better videos and photos from mobile and consumer devices that include the full gamut of details in dark and bright intensities.”

The tech is “silicon-proven technology for mobile form factors,” the company says, easily integratable into existing SoC architectures, and compatible with current CMOS image sensor process technology. “The Rambus binary pixel has been demonstrated in a proof-of-concept test-chip and the technology is currently available for integration into future mobile and consumer image sensors.”

More information is here.

An impressive video is here.





Aptina promises improved mobile imaging

Phone photography has improved a lot in recent years, but still suffers from the inherently small sensors crammed into the slim devices. Now sensor-maker Aptina says its “disruptive imaging technology” advances color filter and sensor design along with imaging and control algorithms to provide increased sensitivity and dynamic range.

The “new level of performance” will drive 1.1-micron pixel adoption into the Smartphone market, and the smaller sensors will surpass today’s top 1.4-micron BSI pixel sensors, Aptina claims.

The Clarity+™ technology increase camera performance while enabling thinner, slimmer mobile devices with higher resolution, Aptina adds, and increased performance for high quality still and videos image capture.

The AR1231CP  is a 1.1-micron, 1/3.2-inch BSI sensor, capable of 12MP resolution at 60fps, and 4K UHD video at 30fps. It is now sampling.

And: for forward-facing smartphone cameras, the AR0261 captures 1080p HD video or 720p at 60fps, which “enables new gesture applications that open up a new way for users to interact with their devices.” It is also sampling now.





Faster focus for phones


One key area in which cameras maintain a performance advantage over smartphones is autofocus speed — so of course many developers are looking to address that mobile market need. Recently, two companies unveiled innovations in the area:

With a new autofocus camera module for smartphones, DigitalOptics claims the “micron-level precision” of its mems|cam modules “harness the performance advantages of MEMS technology [microelectromechanical system] to deliver dramatically improved speed, power, and precision in smartphone cameras.”

mems|cam also uses just 1 percent of the power consumption of traditional voice coil motor autofocus technology, the company adds.

It will also allow for even thinner phones: DigitalOptics’ first mems|cam module, with an OmniVision image sensor, is an 8 megapixel, 1/3.2-inch format camera —and has as “ultra-low z-height of as small as 5.1mm.”

DigitalOptics is a subsidiary of Tessera Technologies.



poLight’s micro-optic autofocus components for mobile phones are based on deformable polymers and optical MEMs. poLight’s tunable lens actuator yields high-speed and low-power autofocus lenses. The “TLens” boosts smart phone camera performance with a response time 20x faster than traditional VCM technologies, the Norwegian company says while consuming 40x less power consumption.

Now poLight says its focusing technology’s high-speed focus and field-of-view stability “can create a new set of applications that will make a difference for camera-phone users.”

Touch & re-Focus software lets a user refocus a picture once it has been taken. “By simply touching the area where to focus on the smart phone screen, the new generated picture can then be saved at full sensor resolution… alternatively, the photographer may decide to get their image all in focus by using a simple slider from the application screen.”

An explanatory video is here.




Photoshop on a phone: Adobe Touches Android and iOS


While most of us take plenty of pictures on our phones, how many of us want to extensively edit them on the tiny screen?

Plenty, thinks Adobe. “Mobile phones are increasingly becoming the primary tool for people to take and edit photos, “the company says. “…Photoshop fans wanted some core Adobe imaging magic on their smartphones.”

The Photoshop Touch phone app “brings core features of Photoshop desktop software to mobile devices” and offers “intuitive, touch-based gestures and features,” Adobe says.

New features include layers, selection tools, filters, tonal and color adjustments, all with a 400-percent touch zoom. It can select and combine image elements with the Scribble Selection tool, Adobe adds. The $5 app can work with photos as large as 12 megapixels. [It’s a separate app — and purchase — from the previous tablet version.]

More information is here.




HP “brings photos to life”


Could this be a new way to incite picture printing? HP says it will “bring photos to life” with a mobile imaging app and “a new consumer printing experience” that uses augmented reality to embed short video clips into printed photos.

HP says its Live Photo app “will change the way consumers share greeting cards and tell stories,” and “change the way people share special moments and memories with family and friends.”

Live Photo heightens the intrigue and surprise of receiving a printed greeting card, the company adds, and, “for the first time mobile videos live on beyond the digital world making them truly part of the physical world as well.”

With a free app, you select a video from your phone’s camera roll, an automatically generated still image, and a template — then print the coded image, and send it to friends who use their own iPhone to “bring the still image to life on their screens.”

It sounds a little confusing, so HP has a video demonstration here.

More information is here.

HP Live Photos can also be shared through email or Facebook.




Phase One offers introductory app


High-end photography developer Phase One released Capture One Express 7, raw image processing and  editing software that offers features of its latest full package for a lower cost.

Express includes many of the advanced features found in Capture One Pro 7, the company says, such as noise reduction, detail recovery in shadows and highlights, and black and white conversions.

Capture One Express 7 also introduces a catalog structure that helps to organize, find, compare and select your images, Phase One adds.

The $99 software is “designed especially for dedicated photographers who appreciate the increased image quality and flexibility of shooting raw,” the Copenhagen-based company says. “Capture One Express 7 offers the essential tools to import, convert, organize, adjust, share and print superior-quality photographs in a fast, intuitive workflow.”




Nature photography — in the Mountains, Canyons, and Space


My primary love of photography is carrying my Sony ILC out and about on a hike. We’re starting our news coverage this week with three stories of capturing nature on camera — and only one of them concerns my neighborhood park, Yosemite.
Also up this week:
A camera aboard the International Space Station can be operated by kids.
Google goes grand — the Grand Canyon in an immersive online image collection, that is.

Photos from space

Aboard the International Space Station, Commander Chris Hadfield has been taking fantastic photos of out planet — and broadcasting them via Twitter on a regular basis, several per day.

Now he’s also helping students take photos from the space station while on Earth. Sponsored by NASA, EarthKAM — “Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students” — is an educational outreach program which allows middle school students to take pictures of our home from a digital camera on board the space station.

The project was initiated in 1995 and called KidSat. The KidSat camera flew on three space shuttle flights, and in 1998 was deemed successful and renamed ISS EarthKAM. The ISS EarthKAM camera flew on two additional space shuttle flights before moving to the space station. What model is used now? A Nikon D2Xs.
More information on EarthKAM is here.
Commander Hadfield’s twitter feed of photos is at ‏@Cmdr_Hadfield


Google packs cameras into the Grand Canyon

“No matter where you are, you don’t have to travel far or wait for warmer weather to explore Grand Canyon National Park,” Google says.

The Google team captured the “breathtaking imagery collection” with its Trekker, an Android OS-running, 40-pound backpack system with a 15-lens camera.

Google is displaying new panoramic imagery “of one of the world’s most spectacular national monuments.” the company says. “These beautiful, interactive images cover more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads, making our map of this area even more comprehensive, accurate and easy to use than ever before.”

With the browser-based immersive imaging, you can “take a walk down the narrow trails and exposed paths of the Grand Canyon: hike down the famous Bright Angel Trail, gaze out at the mighty Colorado River, and explore scenic overlooks in full 360-degrees.”

More than 9,500 panoramas “of this masterpiece of nature” are now available on Google Maps.

More on the Google cams in the canyon is in this Wired article.


Thirty filmmakers in Yosemite

Trying to convey everything that happens on a typical summer day in Yosemite National Park, thirty filmmakers on June 26, 2012 scattered throughout the park, focusing on “the more popular roadside attractions “that the vast majority of Yosemite visitors experience,” says one of the organizers, Steven Bumgardner.

On his yosemitesteve website, he’s presented a 15-minute video: “From thousands of photographs and hours of footage, we created this window into one day in Yosemite.”

The shots include hang glider pilots, climbers atop Cathedral Peak, and a helicopter rescue on Half Dome.

Anyone who’s done a lot of video editing appreciates what a time-intensive task it is. “I spent probably two full months off and on this fall and winter editing the project,” Bumgardner says, and it was only when I gave up the idea of a traditional documentary and started thinking of it as more of an art-doc that things began to fall into place. I was amazed that I was able to whittle it all down to under 15 minutes, keeping it quick and snappy and hopefully leaving the viewer wanting more.”




Capture the world in 3D — Tablet camera captures geometry, not just stereoscopic images


Like a lot of other imaging hobbyists, I’ve enjoyed playing around with 3D models of objects, settings, and even figures — but making a scene by hand is skilled, time-consuming task.

No longer.

The Lynx A is a simple-to-use device that yields usable 3D models that work in most modeling, rendering, and animation applications. “ Instead of outputting 2D images, it produces 3D models of whatever you point it at,” says Lynx Laboratories. “It’s the world’s first point-and-shoot 3D camera.”

The basic idea is not new — for example, we’ve covered a free app from Autodesk that will make a model when you just move your iPad around a small object — but the implementation here is. The handheld camera, akin to a tablet PC, can be swept across a room… and then it generates 3D geometry, colors, and textures for everything it takes a picture of. It can also capture motion, generating wide-ranging movements that can be mapped onto animated figures.

The tablet measures 11.5x8x1 inches, and weighs six pounds. It has its own Intel Core i5 2.6GHz processor, 500GB drive, and a 14-inch LCD. It has a VGA-res imager and a 3D sensor for capturing depth information.

Austin, Texas-based Lynx is raising funding — on Kickstarter of course — by asking for $1,800 as an advanced payment for the basic model. That might seem like a lot, but it’s a fraction of the cost of most professional products on the market yielding similar results. “If you cobbled together all the hardware and software you would need to accomplish these tasks, you’d end up dishing out a couple hundred grand,” the company says. “That’s not accessible at all. The Lynx device sells for about the same price as a full-framed DSLR, making it a serious value for small outfits and innovators trying to break into these technologies.”

It’s also faster, they add: “Capturing models takes minutes, while today’s methods take hours or even days.”
More information, and a cool video, is here.




PixelTone audibly edits images


The next time you talk to your computer while fixing a photo, it might not be because you’re losing it…. Instead, you might be directing your image editing app to carry our a command.

A team of Adobe researchers are working with the University of Michigan to develop PixelTone, which they bill as a multimodal interface for image editing” that combines speech and direct manipulation.

“We observe existing image editing practices and derive a set of principles that guide our design,” they write. “In particular, we use natural language for expressing desired changes to an image, and sketching to localize these changes to specific regions. To support the language commonly used in photo editing we develop a customized natural language interpreter that maps user phrases to specific image processing operations. Finally, we perform a user study that evaluates and demonstrates the effectiveness of our interface.”

A full video demonstration of the software is here.