Category Archives: Techniques

How to stream 3D movies from your PC to your Gear VR 

Source: How to stream 3D movies from your PC to your Gear VR | Android Central

Samsung’s Gear VR is designed to work with Samsung smart phones. However, with the right viewing apps, it can sometimes be used to view VR and 3D videos with non-Samsung smart phones.

At the time I bought a Gear VR headset, it was apparently the only type of “Google Cardboard” Viewer headsets that included a diopter adjustment to correct for near or far sightedness. Basically, going back a year or two, VR viewers were unusable by most people over age 45 due to presbyopia (and the need to wear reading glasses as we get older).

I use the Gear VR to view some VR content using an old Nexus 4 phone and an app that supports either a Bluetooth mouse button for clicking. The Gear VR otherwise only supports clicking with Samsung phones but you can pair a Bluetooth mouse to your smart phone and use the mouse button (or the mouse pointer!)

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.

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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3D photos shot with dual Lumix GH-2 cameras

I used two Lumix GH-2 micro four thirds cameras, and two wireless remote controls. A remote receiver was used on each camera to activate the shutter, with a single remote control transmitter. Surprisingly (to me!) the two cameras synchronized very well.

I used two of these wireless remotes. Amazon says they work with any of these cameras – Panasonic: DMC G1, G2, G3, G6, G7, G10, GF1, GH1, GH2, GH3, GH4, GX1, GX7, L1, L10, LC-1, FZ20, FZ20K, FZ20S, FZ20S, FZ30, FZ30K, FZ50, FZ50K, FZ50S, FZ100, FZ200; Leica: DigiLux 2, DigiLux 3, V-Lux 4

This image is in cross-eyed viewing format – both trains were moving in these shots:

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Side by Side for parallel or 3D monitor viewing:

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Red/cyan anaglyph version:

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I have used the dual Lumix GH-2 cameras before but had to manually press the shutters on both cameras at “roughly the same time” – with the manual shutter control, I could not have photographed a subject like these two moving trains.

The inter-axial lens spacing is about 6 inches or 15 cm.

Using a c-mount lens on a Nikon 1 J2 camera

The Nikon 1 cameras – J1, J2, J3, J4, V1, V2, and V3 – use a “1 inch” sensor that is about the same size as “Super 16mm” film. The small’ish sensor is ideal for working with old 16mm lenses (I have one) or with various c-mount lenses. Ideally, the c-mount lens should provide a “1 inch” coverage. However, the photos below were shot using a Tamron 4-12mm f/1.2 lens having a 1/2 inch coverage. Except when zoomed in, in which case it covers the full frame with a very tiny amount of vignetting.
These macro photos amazed me – shot on an inexpensive Nikon 1 J2 with a CCTV c-mount lens! You can click on the photos for larger version, although these were uploaded at about half the horizontal resolution. The extremely narrow depth of field is pretty neat for a small sensor camera using an inexpensive wide angle lens!
The c-mount lenses I have used are often quite soft when the aperture is fully opened. Stopping the aperture down a bit improves sharpness. They also tend to have softness in the corners, or vignetting. This particular lens is very good for these close macro shots – the edge softness is obviously not a problem as it is supposed to be out of focus! But I would not recommend this lens for general purpose shooting of non-close subjects. I also have a Computer 12.5-75mm f/1.2 lens. This is useful mostly in full zoom (75mm end) but at f/1.2 it is very soft. Stopping it down to f/2 to f/4 greatly improves the image quality – and with the telephoto effect, does a good job for creating certain types of narrow depth of field. I would not use it as a general purpose lens, however.
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Using old camera lenses on micro four thirds cameras

Not that long ago, I used some old Minolta film cameras. These cameras used lenses with the Minolta MC/MD mounting system and I have several old lenses that can be used on micro four thirds cameras with an appropriate adapter.
Here’s my informal judgement as to work works well and what does not when using these old lenses on modern micro four thirds cameras. All of my tests were done on my Lumix GH-2, shooting JPEG images and evaluating the JPEGs as they came straight out of the camera. I did not do any tests in RAW mode.
Minolta 50mm prime f/1.4

  • f/1.4 – At f/1.4, this lens is soft, almost fuzzy, and with low contrast. Not recommended at f/1.4
  • f/2.0 – At f/2.0, this lens is clean with good contrast. I would rate this excellent for my own purposes at f/2.0 and above.

Minolta 50mm prime f/1.7

  • f/1.7 – At f/1.7, this lens is also very soft.
  • f/2.8 – I rate this aperture as “pleasant”. Its not really soft but its not quite a sharp either – but overall provides a pleasing, smooth quality to the image, yet with a very nice narrow depth of field.
  • f/4 – At f/4.0 the lens becomes very sharp.

Sigma 28mm prime f/2.8

  • This lens just does not work well at all until probably f/4, then its fine. The lens is useful, however, since it is a macro focus lens. The 28mm works like a 56 mm full frame equivalent lens on the micro four thirds format – but focuses down to about two inches (5 cm)!

Sigma 28-70mm UC Zoom f/2.8

  • f/2.8 – At both the 28 and 70mm zoom settings (56 and 140mm FF equivalent on m43ds) the lens is noticeably soft, probably better at the 70mm end than the 28mm end.
  • f/4 – At f/4 and above the images are excellent.

This Sigma 28-70mm lens is probably one of my favorite lenses on my Lumix GH2. Its great for shooting when I want a narrow depth of field, but provides excellent sharpness and contrast.
Other Lenses
Another popular old lens is most any Canon FD glass. I have not tested these but the reviews I have read of Canon FD lenses similar to those above, also perform similarly – such as the Canon FD f/1.4 lens being soft at f/1.4 but nicely sharp by f/2. These can be found on eBay for $30 to $70, sometimes including the m43 adapter ring. Older Nikon lens are also excellent and popular and available used.
Keep in mind that to use an old lens you need to ensure your camera can operate with a “no electronics” lens. The Lumix GH-2, for example, has a menu setting to let the camera operate even if “no lens is attached”.  I use this setting and then put the camera in “A” Aperture mode, and set the aperture and focus manually. My Nikon 1 camera only works in “M” mode when a non-Nikkor lens is attached – this works, but is not as convenient as using the “A” mode and letting the camera meter and choose a shutter speed for me.
Newer lens systems, like the Canon EF series can also be made to work but with limitations – these lenses do not have an aperture ring and the lens, by default, will also be in the wide open aperture setting. There is a trick to get around this but its cumbersome – mount the lens on an actual Canon camera, set the aperture using the camera settings, remove the lens and put it on the m43d camera and it retains the aperture setting. But why go to that trouble? Better off getting an original all manual lens like the Canon FD.
Both of these two photos were taken with the Lumix GH-2 and the Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 lens at f/2.8 to create the narrow depth of field look. You can click on these images – twice, in fact – to zoom in to larger versions. Both are reduced in size and compression from the originals, however.
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How to: Shooting landscapes in hyperstereo 3D

I like photographing landscapes in hyperstereo 3D because such photos often reveal hidden depth that we cannot see with our eyes or detect with our brain. This gives us an entirely new perspective on a scene.

My wife jokes that 3D photographers can take photographs with depth at any time, unlike 2D “flat photographers” who must wait around for the sun angle to give shadow contrast for enhancing depth features 🙂

When I take hyperstereo 3D, I almost always use a single camera. I start at the left most position and then take photos as I move the camera to the right. The picture of Mt St Helens was taken as a series of about 7 shots over about 70 feet of distance. I took a photo, walked to my right and took another photo. I did not have a good sense of the spacing that would be needed – and what the impact of close in subjects would have on the depth. So I just took many different lens spacings and chose the best later, when sitting at the computer.

For Mt St Helens, I knew I would need very wide lens spacing, which is why I took photos at 10 feet (over 3 meter) intervals. For closer subjects, I might only move the camera 1 foot (1/3d meter) between shots.

To keep the camera roughly aligned, I set the camera to display a grid overlay on the viewfinder. I position the crosshairs of the grid on a specific, very distant feature. As I move the camera, I keep the crosshairs pointed at that distant feature. In the case of the Mt St Helens volcano, which is many miles away, I use a corner of one of the snow fields as my alignment target.

If you think about how 3D works, if I was using a pair of precisely aligned cameras, each pointed off into the distance, at some point a long ways out there, the two cameras are effectively pointed at the same subject – we can’t distinguish, says, 6 inches of lens spacing, on a subject a few miles away!  For really distant subjects, a lens spacing measured in feet is still indistinguishable (in a practical sense).

After shooting, the photos are aligned and processed in Stereo PhotoMaker.