Learning to “see in 3D” to improve 2D photos

As a 3D stereographer, I am always aware of the 3D space in front of me. And when shooting 2D, I often wish I was shooting 3D!

The key idea, in this linked column, is that by learning to see in 3D, we can improve our 2D photos. You might think “seeing in 3D” is obvious – after all we see a 3D world around us. But truly, as 3D photographers know, learning to see in 3D is a technique all unto itself.

About negative space, looking 3D and some other things.

Source: About negative space, looking 3D and some other things. By Dirk Dom – STEVE HUFF PHOTOS

The demographics of camera users

The author, at the link below, notes that those under 30 predominately use their smart phone to take photos.

Older travelers use compact point and shoot cameras, and middle aged and older often shoot with higher end DSLRs.

One thing I noticed on my trip to the UK , specifically London, was the abundance of cameras.

Source: Cameras, Cameras, Everywhere | Garden Walk Garden Talk

A recent Nikon item said that 55% of their DSLR sales are now going to consumers upgrading from smart phones.

My observations are in line with those of the linked article. I noticed this summer an increase in the number of travelers using an actual camera, rather than a smart phone. “Bridge cameras” – which look a bit like DSLRs but have a built-in, non-interchangeable lens, are popular.

The market is shifting a bit back towards real cameras. My hunch is many consumers will start out with larger cameras but eventually retreat to smaller cameras as they find the size and weight becomes cumbersome.

I suspect the 1″ cameras, with excellent image quality and good low light performance, may be the sweet spot for size, quality and convenience.

As the next blog post notes, post processing software is enabling small cameras to begin to rival their big cousins’ features. Software tools today provide high quality noise reduction, enabling small sensor cameras to work more like big sensors, and software tricks can even simulate bokeh.

Using 2 cameras to create fake narrow depth of field images

Small sensor cameras – such as smart phones and point and shoot cameras – are unable to create significant blurring of the background or foreground. Narrow depth of field is mostly limited to large sensor cameras – or to long telephoto shots.

But, two camera sensors may be used to measure depth in the scene. One camera is used for the actual photo and the second for depth. Parallax, or the difference between the two camera images, varies by distance to the subject. This information is used to blur the original image based on distance to the subject. (Blurring is done by averaging local pixels together using a simple average or a weighted average.)

This means that software creates the narrow depth of field effect, rather than large sensors and expensive lenses.

The HTC One M8 smart phone has this feature today. The linked article gives examples of how this works, in practice. Take a look at their sample photos!

We compare the HTC One M8 camera with a Fuji X-M1 to see what its bokeh-style effects are really like.

Source: HTC One M8 Camera vs A Proper Camera: Fake Bokeh On Trial

Note that if the cameras are very close together, as is typical on a smart phone, the ability to accurate measure distance a long ways from the camera is greatly diminished. Image resolution and interaxial spacing both impact the capability of this feature.

Rumors are that the iPhone 7 will feature dual cameras for the same reason – to create narrow depth of field photos using tiny sensor cameras built in to the phone.

Currently, the best narrow depth of field comes from DSLR full frame cameras and expensive, large aperture lenses.

But post processing software is eliminating many advantages of the full size cameras. Modern post processing noise reduction enables many small sensor cameras to perform more like their big cousins in low light. And now, with dual cameras and depth processing, little cameras may soon deliver narrow depth of field at lower cost than the big guns.

This should be worrisome to the DSLR makers. Particularly as increasing numbers of shooters would prefer to travel light – and not have to carry big camera bodies and heavy lenses.

Noise Reduction using Neat Image

I took the following photo using a Nikon 1 V2, 1″ sensor camera, at ISO 800. This is a big enlargement of a tiny section of a photo of a Titan II rocket launcher (from underneath). This was a very dark location, in the basement of the Evergreen Aviation Museum building.

I processed this image using Neat Image 8, the latest version of the Neat Image noise reduction software. You can see the remarkable improvement from the original, at left, to the noise reduced version, at right.

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Today’s noise reduction software enables even small sensor cameras to produce remarkable results in low light.

Noise reduction is built in to Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, and Lightroom, RAW Therapee, Affinity Photo, and nearly all image editing software today.

3rd party tools are available in the Google NIK Collection (Dfine2 tool), and the Noise Ninja “community edition” or commercial edition.

Each noise reduction software applies its own methods for noise reduction. You may find that some programs work better on some types of photos than others. I have used Neat Image 7 for a long time and just began using Neat Image 8. For most photos, I just use Lightroom and a combination of “Masking” and Noise Reduction. But for tougher photos or those where I want the best result, I generally turn to Neat Image.

Original Image, after Neat Image processing, and then re-compressed using Mac Preview to 55% to keep the size under 2 MB for upload (in other words, this is a moderate lossy compression version).

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DPReview suggests Nikon 1 development has ended

DPReview, mentions in a review about the Canon EOS-M mirrorless camera, that DPReview thinks Nikon has ended development of the Nikon 1 system.

Dpreview believes Nikon 1 is no longer in development

Nikon Rumors quotes DPReview saying that DPReview believes the Nikon 1 is no longer in development. DPReview does not provide a source – seems like its a guess, and as good as any other guess that we are making. The quote is buried in a sentence inside a review of the Canon EOS M, explaining why they are not including comparisons of the Canon mirrorless camera with the Nikon 1.

Will Nikon abandon the customers who have invested in the CX lenses? Or will they perhaps release a DL-camera body with an interchangeable lens feature?

The 1″ sensor is not dead at all. All the camera makers are moving to 1″ sensors as the smart phone market ate their point n shoot and compact camera sales. The 1″ sensor, with greater dynamic range, higher resolution and improved low light capabilities provides a differentiation from the smart phone.

Smart phone shooters, however, while interested in better image quality, are probably not going to start carrying camera bodies and a handful of lenses. They will opt for cameras with included zoom lenses. Sony, Panasonic, Canon all now have 1″ sensor cameras like that – because that is where the market has gone – and Nikon will be there with the DL-series. A 1″ sensor with a nice zoom (preferably fast) are clearly a step up from the smart phone.

This summer, while camping, I am noticing an up tick in the number of vacationers again shooting with a real camera (versus smart phone), and especially those using “bridge type” cameras. Those are the cameras that sort of look like a DSLR, but with a builtin zoom lens (not interchangeable). I suspect this is where the low end of the market is going – and where many smart phone shooters are also going, particularly when they seek zooms and megapixels.

Olympus OM-D-E-M1 for US $799 – 24 hour sale

Olympus is having a 24 hour sale on the OM-D E-M1 Body

Promotion expires 11:59pm EST on 8/15

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Camera Body
+ $31.96 in Adorama Rewards
$799 with Free shipping
Black: http://adorama.evyy.net/c/77972/51926/1036?u=http://www.adorama.com/iomem1b.html
Silver: http://adorama.evyy.net/c/77972/51926/1036?u=http://www.adorama.com/iomem1s.html

I shoot with an E-M10 – for still shooting, the Olympus cameras are fantastic!

Point n shoot photography

Recently, I have been experimenting with what I can achieve with a mere “point and shoot” camera. Both of these photos were taken with an Olympus XZ-2, which ranks at the high end of point and shoots, but has only a 1 / 1.7″ sensor.

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This photo was also taken with the Olympus XZ-2. While the originals are 12 MP images, all of these have been resized to 640 pixels wide for display here. They look much better full size!

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I also shoot 1″ sensor cameras (Nikon 1) and will post some of those photos another time.

For now, here is a link to some nice night time photos taken in Paris by someone using a 1″ sensor Sony RX100 camera. I think the 1″ sensor size is going to be a “Sweet spot” for cameras, producing exceptionally good images. As sensor technology improves, we are also seeing remarkable low light capabilities of these smaller sensor cameras (as compared to 4/3ds, APS-C or full frame).

1″ not only produces exceptional results but lenses are quite small relative to the larger format cameras, producing a small and lightweight package for professional quality results.

4K 3D Stereoscopy VR 360 camera for US $399 (not yet available)

Source: STEREOSCOPY :: Arcinteractive, Inc. presents TwoEyes #VR – 4K 3D Stereoscopy 360 camera (1/1) –

This product is not yet in production and the release date has not been provided. However, this is an intriguing product for spherical VR 360 in 3D, compared to the complexity of and time consuming processing of combining numerous cameras together to create VR 360 or 3D VR 360. Hope it comes to market!

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