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Google improves camera performance on every compatible Android smartphone!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
November 20, 2014, at 6:33 PM

Forbes Contributor Paul Monckton reports that Android 5.0 brings one amazing new change - Google managed to improve the camera performance on every compatible smartphone! It means that your Android smartphone will be able to take better pictures without any hardware change and this shows how important the software is - sometimes even more important than hardware. On the other hand we all remember what the Magic Lantern hack did to Canon's cameras and now it seems that Google managed to do the same with Android smartphones. The company achieved this amazging result thanks to built-in support for RAW image files at the operating system level. In other words photo apps get full control over the image data captured by the sensor and for example the JPEG compression can be lower, so the picture should be of higher quality.



According to Paul an app called L Camera allows to save your pictures in the DNG format and Paul tested it on the Android 5.0 developer preview. He used a Google Nexus 5 handset and as you can see above the difference is simply huge!

"While some of us may like to take advantage of professional imaging software to perfect raw images from our smartphones, support for raw will also be of benefit to those who just want to continue to use their phone’s camera as normal.

Because Android apps now have access to the full raw data rather than compressed JPEGs, they will be able to generate better quality results for you. This could mean higher quality filters on your Instagram pictures and the ability to brighten and darken photos much more than you’ve previously been able to while maintaining good picture quality. All of this can happen behind the scenes, without the need for the user to understand image processing."

Paul also admits that RAW files are strictly for those who want to edit and perfect their photos after taking them, but it's great to see that now you will be able to take full advantage of your phone's camera.

You can read the full article here.

Source: http://www.forbes.com

Thumbs up for FS7, thumbs down for URSA - a comparison of four cameras
Posted by Andrzej, motionVFX Team
November 20, 2014, at 3:11 PM

To put so much effort into writing a four camera comparison and call it a ‘fun comparison’ is an odd thing to do, however, Sareesh Sudhakaran from wolfcrow.com did just that. In his text he compares the available data about Blackmagic Design URSA, Sony FS7, Canon C100 MkII and JVC GY-LS300 – all of these from a agreeably close price range.  Three of them shoot 4K, only C100 MkII sticks out here. He writes:

This article is a comparison of the specifications of the Blackmagic Design URSA, Sony FS7, Canon C100 Mark II and the JVC GY-LS300 , with currently available information – to know how they fare against each other.

Sareesh used all available data - there’s a mention where it wasn’t possible – and put together into charts divided into several categories:

  • The basics (price, lens mount, included accessories)
  • Sensors
  • Video features
  • Media used
  • Audio features
  • Misc features

Looking at the specs only, Sareesh lists the major cons and pros for each of these cameras:

Pros:

  • Ursa – number and size of monitors, and shoulder-mounted form-factor
  • FS7 – viewfinder, built-in ND filters, size, wireless module and form-factor
  • C100 Mark II – OLED monitor, built-in ND filters, wireless built-in, auto focus, weight, battery life
  • LS300 – live streaming ability, ND filters, battery life and weight

Cons:

  • Ursa – size and weight!! No ND filters on current models; expensive batteries if you purchase “original” AB or V-mount batteries
  • FS7 – poor battery life
  • C100 Mark II – poor position of viewfinder
  • LS300 – it’s JVC? Just kidding. Maybe not.

He also draws another conclusion – by adding the media used cost per hour and battery cost per hour, it’s clearly visible that the cost of Blackmagic URSA, which uses CFast rises a lot, and therefore loses one of  its primary advantages as far as the price is concerned. These costs are not as scary for FS7, hardly comparable for Canon and JVC.

What’s his verdict? Well, it’s definitely not URSA that wins:

The Ursa, which seems great on paper, is not very practical due to its size and lack of built-in ND filters. Also, shooting 4K Prores is not for the target market that can only afford an Ursa!

He speaks most favorably about the FS7, which can be an investment for the future with what it gets you for the price – including log recording, good low light performance, form factor, UHD/4K and a good few of others.

To view all the charts with specs comparison, please visit Sareesh text at wolfcrow.com via this link.

Source: http://wolfcrow.com

The Samsung NX1 Review: good quality but h.265 is a pain in the neck
Posted by Andrzej, motionVFX Team
November 20, 2014, at 12:54 PM

Samsung’s announcement of NX1 mirrorless camera was a big piece of news for two major reasons: first of all, the camera offers 4K for $1500 (body only) and secondly it uses h.265 High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC). The latter was an astonishing move from Samsung, especially that NLEs don’t offer support for h.265 yet. The camera specs looked good on paper, but it had to be tested hands on to determine if it’s worth investing money in it.

Now, Andrew Reid from eoshd.com has posted an ‘evolving review’, with more promised to come, but with some very interesting observations already. His review can be divided into two major parts, the one he praises the technical aspects of the camera’s build – the sensor manufacturing method is ‘light years’ ahead of Canon and Nikon.

But let’s focus on the second part, which describes Andrew’s bumpy road to actually do anything with the h.265 encoded files. As mentioned earlier, there’s no support for HEVC from Adobe or Apple currently, which means you have to transcode to work with the NX1 files. The task is way harder than you might think:

First you have to plug the NX1 via USB cable into your PC or Mac, then scratch your head whilst it does nothing. Then you realise that for some reason the memory card needs to be present in the camera for it to communicate at all with your computer via USB. Then you turn on the camera and on your computer an i-Launcher install disk appears, as if hosted onboard the camera. The installer launches, i-Launcher installs and erm, launches, but then does nothing but send you to a website.

Another baffling thing is that to install the necessary software you have to give your consent to data collection – the app will collect everything connected with the photos you shoot, including the fact of sharing them on social network sites!

Here’s a screenshot Andrew posted:

Finally, Andrew arrived at the point he could transcode the files, but the software appears to be as poor as the way to get it:

The Samsung transcoding app itself, is shockingly poor. The UI on the Mac version won’t even allow you to drop movie clips over the app to bulk-add them, you’re forced back into the old style convention of clicking a button and tediously browsing directories to get to them. When you click a quality setting, the quality setting doesn’t show as selected in the drop down box. The app seems to be a rush job and a bad one at that

The H.264 settings in several quality settings again with no mention of bitrate. Instead Samsung have used the absolutely bizarre measurement of decibels for the H.264 compression options. So there’s the mysterious best quality option, followed by one that says “H.264 -2db”. All of them transcode from H.265 very slowly!

It appears that the entire software needs improvement, but if we put aside the trouble of transcoding the files (which should be temporary), Andrew says that the NX1 can become a worthy challenger:

(...) colour seems accurate and skin-tones natural. The AF system is unbelievably fast in good light and perhaps most of all I am pleased with how the whole thing is built and put together. It really does feel like a pro-grade body.

There’s been no sample footage so far, but as mentioned before, the review will evolve soon. For full review with numerous photos, head over to eoshd.com via this link.

Source: http://www.eoshd.com

Apple releases WatchKit tools for developers!
Posted by Andrzej, motionVFX Team
November 20, 2014, at 9:57 AM

Prior to the release of Apple’s ‘most personal device ever’, the Apple Watch, the company announced the release of WatchKit tools that will allow developers to design software for the Watch before it enters the market. In the official press release, Philip Shiller, Worldwide Marketing senior VP is quoted:

With the iOS 8.2 beta SDK, developers can now start using WatchKit to create breakthrough new apps, Glances and actionable notifications designed for the innovative Apple Watch interface and work with new technologies such as Force Touch, Digital Crown and Taptic Engine.

The press release links to WatchKit homepage, where there’s more info on the existing possibilities:

WatchKit apps have two parts: A WatchKit extension that runs on iPhone and a set of user interface resources that are installed on Apple Watch. When your app is launched on Apple Watch, the WatchKit extension on iPhone runs in the background to update the user interface and respond to user interactions. WatchKit provides three opportunities to extend your iPhone app to Apple Watch: WatchKit apps, Glances, and actionable notifications.

Aside from the info, the page contains a 28 minute long video introducing the technical aspects of building a WatchKit app. The video cannot be embedded, to watch it please follow this link to apple.com. Additionaly, at the bottom of the page you’ll find links to download section and various resources, including Programming Guide or Framework Reference.

The iOS 8.2 SDK beta with WatchKit is currently available for download for members of iOS Developer Program.

Source: http://www.apple.com

Trends from the Trenches - Canon 7D II, GoPro 4 Black, Lumix LX100 and more!
Posted by Michal, motionVFX Team
November 20, 2014, at 4:11 AM

The new episode of Trends from the Trenches is now also available and in the new video Jay P Morgan of The Slanted Lens and cinematographer Lars Lindstrom talk about products that were shown at PhotoPlus last week - such as new products from Lexar and LaCie and Lars shares a few thoughts on the GoPro 4 Black and the Lumix LX100. You will also hear some info on the MyMyk directional mic (which gets compared to the Rode VideoMic shotgun) as well as a short review of a LED kick light that can be controlled with a smartphone. And because they are doing the show at Samy’s Camera it also means the guys get to test new products on the spot and so you will see what Jay P and Lars thought of Canon’s new 7D Mark II.
 

 

Jay P also revealed that they have plans to change the name of the show - if you have a good idea for the new name, you can  post in the comments on the YouTube video before December 1, 2014, and if your suggestion gets picked, The Slanted Lens will send you a Photoflex 7-in-1 reflector of your very own.

Source: http://theslantedlens.com

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