Tag Archives: Camera

Use the free Microsoft Research Image Composite Editor to create panorama photos

Microsoft Research makes their Image Composite Editor available for free. Use the ICE to create high quality panorama photos by stitching together many photos.

This photo was created out of 34 photos taken on a 12 megapixel point n shoot camera – the end result, after overlaps and cropping, is a 78 megapixel image.

This is a size reduced 1920 pixel wide version of the original. On the original, I can just about zoom in to cars on the bridge. This photo was taken from the site of the Astoria tower, Astoria, Oregon, overlooking the Columbia River where it joins the Pacific Ocean.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Canon announces 250-megapixel image sensor

Canon has today announced a new ultra-high resolution CMOS image sensor that packs approximately 250 megapixels into an area smaller than a United States postage stamp.

Source: Canon announces whopping 250-megapixel camera sensor – TechSpot

Using a Computar c-mount lens on the Nikon 1

These photographs were taken with a Nikon 1 V2 and a Computar f/1.2 12.6-75mm c-mount television camera lens. For improved sharpness, I usually shoot this lens at f/4 as it is soft at f/1.2. I also use a 0.6 ND filter so that I can use the lens wide open.

The lens is used with a c-mount to Nikon 1 mount adapter ring. The lens is primarily useful only at the long end of the lens, otherwise there is vignetting. However, for the used price, this produces a rather excellent, fast telephoto lens for the Nikon 1.

Click on any photo for a larger version.

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Low light image quality test: Nikon 1 V2 and J1, Lumix GH-2 and GH-4

I tested the low light image quality of the Nikon 1 J1 (electronically the same as the Nikon 1 J2 and the Nikon 1  V1), the Nikon 1 V2, the Lumix GH-2 and the Lumix GH-4.

The Nikon 1 is a 1″ sensor camera with a 10 MP image resolution and the V2 has just over 14 MP. The Nikon 1 is also an interchangeable lens camera.

The Lumix cameras are micro-four thirds sensors. In the 3:2 ratio in which these photos were taken, both have just over 14 MP of image resolution.

The Nikon 1 camera images were shot with the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm lens, at f/1.8 to f/2.5. The cameras were set to Program mode. White balance was set to Auto.

The Lumix cameras were shot with the Lumix 14-42mm kit lens, at 25mm (equivalent to the Nikon 18.5mm lens field of view) at about f/5.6. The cameras were set to Program mode and white balance was set to Auto. I realized afterwards the GH-4 was also set to a “Custom” photo setting that I use to reduce the highlights so it was not quite identical to the GH2.  The 1 Nikkor prime lens is also sharper than the Lumix kit lens.

These are 1:1 extractions of RAW images from Lightroom 5.x. All shots are at ISO 800 as my goal was to test low light situations.  Noise reduction and sharpness setting were what ever the default was at – thus, no attempt was made to clean up the noise. These tests are not laboratory quality – but the kind of tests that us hobbyists do to better understand our gear!

You can click on any photo to see the full size image.

LOWLIGHT EXAMPLES AT ISO 800

Nikon 1 J1

J1-800

Nikon 1 V2

The V2 shows a slightly higher noise grain than does the J1 (V1 equivalent).  However, the J1 is a 10 MP sensor and the image enlargement is not the same. When the J1 is resized to match the V2, the noise grain is closer in appearance to the J1.

Also note that in the smaller sensor J1 and V2, magenta chromatic aberration is apparent at lower left. This is easily fixable in Lightroom.  Also, those faint pink splotches captured in the V2 images were captured to some degree with all the cameras. There is a reflection from something going on – I just never noticed it before.

V2-800

Lumix GH-2

Interesting to see that the GH-2 had a lower exposure selection. Not shown, but an open window to the left of this section of the photo was bright for all of these photos.

There appears to be a very slight bit of chromatic aberration at lower left or at least some slight flaring at the high contrast points.

Lumix800

Lumix GH-4

The GH-4 did better on the auto exposure, white balance and the chromatic aberration. Even though the GH-4 is using the exact same lens as was used on the GH-2 photo above. That implies the GH-4 is doing some image processing on this RAW file that the GH-2 does not do. While there are differences in white balance making the grain harder to see in the GH-2, manually adjusting the exposure in Lightroom showed fairly similar levels of grain.

GH4-800

LOWLIGHT COMPARISON J1 VERSUS V2 AT ISO 1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW

J1-ISO1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

J1-ISO1600-Processed

V2 ISO 1600 RAW

V2-ISO1600

V2 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

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IMAGE RESOLUTION 1:1

The following is not a fair test. The Nikon 1 cameras used the 18.5mm prime lens while the Lumix used the 14-42mm kit lens. Unfortunately, I do not have a Lumix prime lens (25mm) which is needed to make this test fair.

What this does show is that the Nikon 1 with the prime lens is very sharp – perhaps sharper or at least on par with the 4/3ds camera with the kit lens. Each photo taken with the lowest ISO setting.

Nikon 1 J1 – ISO 100

J1-100

Nikon 1 V2 ISO 160

V2-160

Lumix GH-2 ISO 160

GH2-160

IMAGE RESOLUTION 3:1 ENLARGEMENT

Nikon 1 J1 – 10 MP sensor

J1-100-3

Nikon 1 V2 14+ MP Sensor

Because the J1 has fewer pixels, the 1:1 image above shows a wider area. Still, it is surprising how good the 10 MP image looks compared to the 14+ MP image.

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J1 ISO 100 Resized

With the images reset to roughly equal sizes, the greater resolution of the V2 becomes apparent. Here, the J1’s 10 MP image is enlarged to match that of the higher resolution V2. Bear in mind that these are really bad case/low light situations too.

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V2 ISO 160 

If you look carefully, you can see slightly more detail on the ceramic cup, at left, and you can see more detail in the writing on the spice container in the middle.

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J1 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

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V2 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

While the resolution improvement in the V2 is visible, it does not have nearly as much visual impact as you would expect in going from 10 MP to 14 MP. Note the word “Original” in the yellow band area – the word “Original” is readable in the 14 MP version but not so well in the 10 MP version. Still … not a lot of difference, is there?

V2-equal

Lumix GH-4 ISO 400 3:1

Even at ISO 400, the GH-4 looks slightly better than the Nikon 1 V2 at ISO 160  (above). I did not shoot this test photo at ISO 200 (or using the expanded ISO setting on the GH-4, I could go as low as 100 – but there is apparently no improvement in image quality at that setting).

GH4-400-3

I did not shoot the test photo with the GH-2.

Conclusions

Small sensor cameras are doing better and better as each new product is announced.

The Nikon 1 J1 is already up to the J5 generation with 20+ MP and a better low light sensor. The V2 is presently up to the V3, with the V4 rumored to appear soon (and assumed to be similar to the J5 sensor).

The Lumix GH-2 is now up to the GH-4 generation.

In well lit areas, the Nikon 1 V2 appears to hold its own very well against the larger 4/3d sensor (the GH-2 and V2 are roughly comparable in that they were both sold around the same time). I have generally avoided shooting at ISO 800 and have probably never shot at ISO 1600! However, after these tests, I am comfortable that I can get decent results on any of these cameras at ISO 1600.

In low light, the larger sensor of the GH-2 and the GH-4 cuts the noise. You can probably shoot the GH4 at an ISO setting double that of the V2, for the same noise level. Not a big surprise.

The 4/3ds sensor also has noticeably wider dynamic range but none of these tests demonstrate that feature.

None of these cameras compete directly with full frame sensor cameras and their better low light capability. But then, they cost a tiny fraction of the cost of the full frame camera. If you are not shooting extreme low light situations, the smaller sensors may be entirely fine – which is the case for me.

I did these tests because I am thinking I may carry only the Nikon 1 V2 on some future trips. Not only is the camera small, but the lenses are small too and weigh very little compared to larger formats.

In the real world where most of us post photos to FB or Flickr, the image resolution we look at with this detailed pixel peeping just does not matter. These photos will all look fine on line.

As long as I am not shooting a lot of low light situations, there is not a big difference in image quality and I can usually control for the slightly narrower dynamic range of the 1″ sensor by shooting RAW and if necessary, using exposure compensation to control for bright highlights and dark shadows.

#CES2013 #CES Report on consumer 3D cameras

Consumer 3D cameras are not selling.

The Lumix 3D1 is still being sold but I picked up word that sales are slow and it might not be continued, perhaps later in 2013.

Fujifilm is no longer manufacturing the Fujifilm W3 (confirmed) but is continuing to sell from existing inventory. I was told by a Fujifilm staff member who knows the issues well, that sales have dropped off sharply on the W3 – if demand were to ramp up, they can immediately run another production run. However, reading between the lines, its not ramping up – to illustrate, B&H Photo and Walmart.com both listed the camera as discontinued. At least from their sales. But if two huge vendors discontinue selling the product, then sales volumes will not be ramping up.

Toshiba has no cameras on display at the show and no one had any information on the Toshiba Z100, which is pretty much half priced at Amazon and B&H right now.

The Sony Bloggie 3D is no longer being made, but they are showing the new Sony TD30 which updates the TD10 which updated the TD10 video cameras. These uniquely record two full 1920×1080 video streams, producing very high quality 3D video images. Sony is also showing their digital recording binoculars, which view and record in 3D. They were also showing a prototype of a new model that is smaller and lighter and which will be available this coming year – no info on time or price.

 

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The big announcement though, is Samsung’s NX300 and the new integrated 2D/3D lens. The 3D images I saw looked very good. Here’s a view of the camera with the dual 2D/3D lens in place:

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The camera can output a live 3D video over HDMI, and they were using that to show live pictures of convention goers. The Samsung reps I talked to felt that the other 3D cameras on the market were too low end (my thoughts too). The early adopters for 3D are not low end consumers, but the semi-serious amateurs who buy $500 to $2000 cameras and look for quality.

The NX300 is an APS-C sensor, a very high quality camera system, and the world’s first single lens 3D camera. The parallax is quite good based on what I could see (both naked eyes and using active shutter glasses on their monitor). Here is what the parallax looks like – click on the image for a bit bigger version (due to being on a cellphone link, I’m using smaller picture sizes than usual):

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I am very impressed with the NX300 3D image quality. If a wider angle lens version of this became available, I could see using this as a primary 3D still and video camera.

GoPro is the other vendor that continues to have a 3D solution. They have a package that combines two GoPro Hero cameras and a sync cable between them, plus some 3D alignment capabilities in their Cineform Studio (free and pro versions).

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Consequently, a mixed bag on 3D consumer cameras – sales are confirmed as not being great at the low end.

But Samsung might have figured it out, though. The 2D/3D lens is a darned good 2D lens and will likely be bought just for that. If sales are decent, Samsung will introduce more lenses featuring the 3D capability.

Everyone is showing 3D TVs, including 4K 3D TVs (I don’t know where you’ll get 4k content for a while yet – there will be a new Bluray spec for 4k but its not done yet.) I really liked the Samsung Ultra 3D TV (4K) – wonderful image quality. It seems that the extra resolution enables some very fine parallax to be used – something to think about. Such fine detail would be lost in lower resolution renderings.

3D is being shown, but its not all over hype at this point. It’s just 3D. Stream TV, an R&D firm from Europe was showing the best, hands down, glasses free 3D display. They also have a tablet glasses free 3D display.

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The technology pieces are coming together. I don’t think the marketing has been where it needs to be yet, on consumer 3D image capture.

I cross posted parts of this to two 3D related photo groups on Yahoo.

Other items of interest

LG had the world’s largest 3D video wall. Their sample video made outstanding use of “theater space” projecting images 20 feet or more in front of the screen and at times, nearly over the viewer.

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The Winbot is a great idea – it is a window cleaning robot. I think the price quote was $299.95. Considering the bother of cleaning windows, this is an amazingly well targeted product. Cleans an entire window like this in a few minutes.P1000784

 

 

This year’s new thing is giant smart phones – how big is too big? I have no idea. But 5 inches and I think even 6 inches are being shown in places.P1000795

 

 

Sony has a lot of software accessories now. Some, not all yet, are beginning to understand how software can add value and differentiate their products from competitors. Another example would be Nokia, who is adding a large number of software-based features, available only to owners of Lumia phones.P1000773

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Online 3D Photo Web Sites

The following web sites are more than just Flickr – they provide online 3D editing tools. You typically upload two images, a side by side 3D image or an MPO file – and then make alignment and other changes “in the cloud”. Once done, your finished 3D image can be stored in your online photo gallery and viewed in multiple formats, as selected by the viewer – such as side by side cross eyed views or anaglyph.

  • Phereo.com
  • Dualfoto.com
  • 3dMedia.com (uses offline composition software, web site does not display photos on my NVidia GPU – because I do not have a stereo monitor)
  • This list is to be continued …
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Fujifilm W3, Lumix 3D1 and Toshiba Z100 3D cameras all appear to be “discontinued” but…

In the last two weeks, many 3D cameras have been marked as discontinued or their price has been slashed, suggesting they are being discontinued, or their availability has been sharply curtailed.

It is likely that vendors are clearing out inventory the week before Christmas in anticipation of announcing new 3D cameras at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show during the 2nd week of January.

B&H Photo has marked the Fujifilm Finepix 3D W3 camera as “discontinued”; Walmart.com says the same thing. I own this camera and find it a lot of fun for shooting quick 3D stills. A lot easier than my dual camera setups!

Amazon has marked the dual lens, dual camera 3D Toshiba video camera down to $159.95; B&H was at $149.95Toshiba Camileo Z100 3D Digital Camcorder Camileo Z100

That is a remarkable price for a stereoscopic 3D video camera recording dual video channels (at 960×1080) – and amazingly, the Z100 includes an external mic input too. Main drawback is lack of image stabilization to control for shaky handheld shots.

The Panasonic Lumix 3D1, which was carried by Amazon itself until a few weeks ago, is now only carried by resellers: Panasonic digital cameras Lumix 3D shooting black DMC-3D1-K. And B&H Photo lists this camera as “discontinued”.

My guess: We will see many new 3D cameras at the 2013 CES!

I plan to be at CES and will be filing reports on cameras, especially micro-four thirds systems, 3D photo and video cameras, and tablet computing devices. Some of my camera items will appear here and at least one other web site. More info as we get closer to CES!

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Felts Field, in #3D anaglyph

Two photos taken using dual Kodak Playsport Zx3 cameras with their tiny wide angle lens adapters. Not bad for a 5 MP camera – I bought two of them, used, for $75. The little wide angle adapter were practically given away by Kodak as they have left the digital capture business and I was lucky to rummage through their online store as the price went down to really low.

Both photos are red/cyan anaglyphs – you’ll need a pair of red/cyan glasses to view in 3D.

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