Category Archives: Software

Topaz Video Enhance AI Review – Delphineous

This review represents what I think of Topaz Labs Video Enhance AI, after using the product over a few weeks in quarantine with various video types.

Source: Topaz Video Enhance AI Review – Delphineous

I am working with the trial version currently. My thoughts based on my tests – so far:

For upscaling high quality HD video (shot on a Lumix GH-2 originally) to 4K, this works very well with a noticeable detail improvement. Looks more like 3K video than 4K, but it is a very nice improvement.

For upscaling old 640×480 video, the enhancements are very limited. Depending on the upscale model used, the enhancements could look a bit like over done noise reduction with sort of a cartoon quality to the final result. I did use it successfully on some old archival footage (from poor quality B&W film) and it did a subtle bit of noise reduction which was useful, but not super valuable for the effort it required. Better noise reduction would have also looked frame to frame to identify dust and scratch marks and eliminate them – but I did not see that happening.

Some reviewers (like the one reviewer above) say they have ripped high quality SD DVD content and gotten relatively good upscale results to an HD-like level.

My view is that Video Enhance AI has some value in noise reduction of old films, but didn’t remove dust and scratches. At $199, its fairly pricey and time consuming to process old films with only a small benefit. If instead, the goal is to upscale some old HD video – those results are quite noticeable and good. If you need that, it might be a handy tool to have available.

Another product Topaz Gigapixel AI provides upscaling of still images. Some people have output video to JPG images and the used Gigapixel to upscale all of the images. I found Gigapixel only works on relatively high quality images. In other words, don’t try to scale up a 640×480 image – its barely usable. However, you can upscale an HD still (1920×1080) to a pseudo 4K (3840×2160) image. The more detail you start with, the better the upscaling.

I took some 16 megapixel images and did a 2x upscale – and this did indeed produce generally nice, some what more detailed, high resolution photos.

My camera (Lumix G9) has a built in high resolution mode that uses the in body image stabilization to move the sensor in tiny increments, taking 8 photos in high speed succession, and then integrating them into a super high resolution photos. This works very well for stationary subjects. Some have instead shot a conventional photo (20 MP) and then used Gigapixel to create a pseudo high resolution photo – with surprisingly decent results.

I view Gigapixel as another tool to consider – but not a panacea.

I  highly recommend Topaz Denoise AI, and Topaz Mask AI. I use both of those all the time. I also use Sharpen AI some of the time – but Mask AI has its own sharpening capabilities and much of the time, I prefer those results to  those of Sharpen AI.

Sharpen AI does have two unique features – the ability to rescue a blurred photo (from camera shake) or one that is slightly out of focus. I have tested the blurred rescue and it works quite well!

Anyway, I definitely recommend Denoise AI and Mask AI. Hands down excellent products.

Video Enhance AI is fine if used primarily to upscale HD to higher resolution – and time is not a big deal as this can take quite a while.

Gigapixel AI works very well on clean input images of good resolution. But don’t expect it to upscale poor resolution images.

Sharpen AI works well too – but sharpening is perhaps not my thing. However, I have found it did an amazing job on some blurred photos taken slightly telephoto from a moving boat. That was pretty cool.

Next Adobe Creative Cloud update drops support of earlier Windows 10 and Mac OS 10.11 #AdobeCC

‘As we prepare for our next major release of Creative Cloud, we wanted to share some information on updated operating system requirements,’ says Adobe. ‘To take advantage of the latest operating system features and technologies, the next major release of Creative Cloud will not support Windows 8.1, Windows 10 v1511 and v1607, and Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan).’

Source: Adobe won’t support older operating systems with its next major Creative Cloud update: Digital Photography Review

I canceled my Adobe CC subscription some time ago and now use combinations of Affinity Photo, ON1 RAW or Capture One, depending on the system, including some very old computers.

“Google Introduces #VR180 Creator for #3D and #VR Video Editing” #VR3D

Great to see a resurgence of 3D, now in the VR space:

Google introduced its new VR180 creator to help VR camera owners shoot 3D videos and immersive photos using affordable hardware.The tool allows anyone to create and edit VR and 3D content thanks to the simple user interface and beginner-friendly tools.

Source: Google Introduces VR180 Creator for 3D and VR Video Editing

Facebook introduces “wiggle 3D” photos-coming this summer #3D #VR #VR3D

Startup and Technology News

Source: How Facebook’s new 3D photos work | TechCrunch

From my quick reading of the article, this is a new application for Facebook but I am not seeing that this is anything new. They use a collection of photos to determine a depth map, and then use the depth map to create a wiggle 3D image. The interpolate – excuse me – use a “convolutional neural network” – to interpolate missing pieces to create a smoother 3D effect.

Facebook fuses VR, News Feed with 3D posts 

Facebook users can now interact with and use 3D content across the Facebook News Feed and its virtual reality (VR) platform called Facebook Spaces

Source: Facebook fuses VR, News Feed with 3D posts – Business Insider

Facebook’s concept of 3D is objects and characters modeled as 3D graphics. You can drag the objects around to give a sense of looking at them in 3D – but these are not stereoscopic 3D features.

Adobe to increase the price of some Adobe Creative Cloud plans

Adobe announced a price increase for some Adobe Creative Cloud plans in the United States, Canada and Mexico. T

Source: Adobe to increase the price of some Adobe Creative Cloud plans in North America | Photo Rumors

Lightroom 5.7 was getting on in years and does not support two newer cameras I have. I’ve switched to Adobe alternatives. I will keep LR 5.7 (since that is one I did not have to pay by the month to use) to access my photo library, but otherwise, I have moved on past Adobe. Adobe’s focus is the professional market, not amateur.

Snapchat to introduce “3D” feature (but is it 3D?)

As part of another movie promotion:

Screen Gems is partnering with Snapchat again on a 3D lens for its upcoming fifthquel Underworld: Blood Wars.

Source: ‘Underworld: Blood Wars’ Tie-In: Screen Gems & Snapchat Reteam | Deadline

From the various news reports, it sounds like its a 360 degree view. As you rotate your phone about, you see the full 360 degree panorama (or may be sphere). It does not sound like it is 3D at all.

#ELSEWHERE introduces #3D viewing system based on iPhone and viewing lenses

It’s a $50 setup that says it dynamically converts any image or video screen into 3D, doing a 2D to 3D conversion. It works in conjunction with an iOS app. Looks like it uses the iPhone camera to collect images, the app to do a 2D to 3D conversion into side-by-side viewing, and then uses the “3D viewer” to enable parallel view on the Phone screen’s side by side image. I think.

Parallel viewing glasses is not new. But using an iPhone camera to record 2D and then converting in real time to 3D is a neat trick. Provided you want to watch it on your iPhone. Photo, below, form the Elsewhere web site:

frames

This post is a bit more info on our previous post which did not have any details.

Source: ELSEWHERE

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.