41 Megapixel camera phone

Nokia also announced its new Nokia 808 Pure View, a Symbian Belle device with a 41-megapixel sensor camera with Carl Zeiss Optics. The device can capture seven pixels of information and merges it into one”perfect” pixel. Jo Harlow, the head of Nokias smart devices unit, said that the technology will come to other devices later, including perhaps to Windows Phone. The 808 will be available in May for $605 before taxes and subsidies.

via Nokia unveils Lumia 610, expands potential Windows Phone market – FierceWireless.

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Another 3D mobile phone announced

LG Reaffirms Commitment to 3D with Optimus 3D Max.

From a photography or video perspective, we may not be paying sufficient attention to the mobile smart phone category. There are now quite a few mobile phones featuring glasses-free 3D displays, and I also saw some 3D tablet demos at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. The latter were also glasses-free.

The problem is – what do people do with a 3D phone? There’s not a lot of content and may be only a few games that might be able to support 3D. Is watching a video, let alone a 3D video, something we want to do on our smart phone?

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Sled dog race in Stereoscopic 3D

I shot some video at a sled dog and skijoring race in north Idaho and shot it in 3D using two

English: Dog Sled Race
Image via Wikipedia

Lumix GH-2 cameras mounted on a short rail. This was the first time that I shot 3D both at a live event, and also, at times, handheld.

As a general rule, we want to shoot 3D using a tripod as it is important to keep the horizon horizontal because of how stereoscopic images map to our eyes when we watch the video. The handheld shots worked okay for my viewing, but for those not familiar with watching 3D video, this can cause a “sea sickness” feeling until you are used to it.

Shooting 3D at a live event adds additional challenges including that it is very hard to be thinking ahead in 3 dimensions – harder than expected. When shooting 3D we have to deal with not only “framing the image” but we also need to be thinking about depth and avoiding having objects or people only part way into the frame. If an object enters or exits the frame, it has to do so quickly.

That said, there are good scenes and bad scenes in this short video. The scene with racer #42 is particularly messed up. The version I uploaded also has some places where I did not get exact vertical synchronization between the left and right, fully aligned. My bad. I fixed that later but not in the upload version. I think my favorite scene comes near the end where a sled dog team is stretched out in front of me – nice depth!

Update: I’ve gotten better with the 3D video editing since I put this together!

Red/blue anaglyph – red/cyan glasses required.

Same video but in Youtube’s multi-format 3D. Click on the ‘3D’ label in the viewer to select your type of 3D viewing.

The race was the Pacific Northwest Sled Dog Championship, held at Priest Lake, Idaho. The event runs two full days and features both small and large dog teams and skijoring, where one or two dogs lead a cross country skier.

I will try to get a post up at some point with more details as to how I shoot 3D with two cameras and what I use for editing.

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Are inexpensive “steadycam” camera stabilizers worth it?

Anyone who has shot video for a while eventually wants a way to create

English: A simple steadycam Deutsch: Eine simp...
Image via Wikipedia

smoother handheld shots. I do a lot of my shooting while on my feet and walking, just the type of activity for which “steadicam” (steadycam) units are built.

But do inexpensive camera stabilizers deliver real value?

I  have not tested them but this guy has and he suggests they are not worth the money relative to the alternatives (yes, there are alternatives!):

For example, I use either my Manfrotto tripod and video head (about 8.5 pounds) or my monopod with a 3 or 4 pound weight at the bottom and get good results. I also have a home made setup with some pieces of pipe from the plumbing shop and a 2 1/2 or 5 pound weight at the bottom – this works best of all! For the monopod weight I use the athletic weight straps designed for walkers and runners. These “rollup” around the base of the monpod and are held in place with Velco linings. Available at any sporting goods store.

The trick is not so much the equipment but how you use it. First, you need a really wide angle lens. I use a c-mount 4mm lens on my GH-2, which works out to about a 21mm full frame equivalent lens. A lot of the really smooth walking scenes you see on TV or the Internet are often done with extreme wide angle lenses, such as a 16mm full frame equivalent. Wide angle lenses make the biggest difference and you are probably better off investing in a good wide angle lens than steady cam.

Heavier cameras also stabilized better than lighter ones. I get better results using my Canon XH A1 (about 5 pounds) than the little GH-2. But you will get physically tired, faster, with the heavier camera (I’ve carried the XH A1, on an 8.5 pound tripod, with a 3 pound weight, for several miles while shooting a parade. Do remember to do strength conditioning starting months in advance!)

Second, you need to learn how to walk, and this takes practice. Bend your knees, may be tilt slightly forward and hold your arms out slightly bent. Roll your feet as you walk (known as “roll stepping”). Walking backwards can be smoother than walking forwards.

Third, you can apply motion stabilization in your video editor. Most software now has good to very good stabilization algorithms. If you do this, use the minimum stabilization possible (too much and you end up cropping or re-sizing your original image and it ends up looking strange).

A good stabilizer, however, when properly used, is going to produce better results than the simple monopod or tripod with a weight. The question of you is, “What is your budget?” and “How often will you use it?”

Update: I have an idea for a simple add on to a monopod that may decouple many walking movements between the camera operator and the camera. I have some parts on order and will let you know how it turns out – if it runs out okay 🙂

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