Sep 032015
 

 

Nothing seems to be a more tedious task than the need to fill out paperwork. Especially if the paperwork has to be sent back and forth between you and a client multiple times. Luckily, Agree.com is a website that aims at making contracts easy to compile and sign for photographers (and videographers, designers, and more). Let’s take a moment to try out the service and is if it delivers on its promise of simplicity.

At this time, you need an invite code to join Agree but we were able to secure one for testing purposes. Others interested can head over to the site to join the current waiting list. We will be testing the free version of Agree that allows us to create and have up to three action contracts at a time. We will discuss the full pricing options towards the end of this article.

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Jul 082015
 

oprohero4session

GoPro has just announced a new action camera, it’s smallest camera yet. The new GoPro HERO4 Session is 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the HERO4 Black and Silver, and its cube-style design is strangely similar to Polaroid’s Cube+ action camera.

Here’s a second video that introduces the camera and its specs/features:

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petapixel

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May 132015
 

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TV manufacturers have found that one of the most reliable ways to get consumers to buy a new TV is to push more pixels. The big jump was from Standard Definition (480 horizontal pixels using interlaced scanning) to High Definition (1080 horizontal pixels using progressive scanning). Today, we’re being pushed to buy “4K” TVs, but that definition switches the emphasis from horizontal pixels (there are 2160 of those) to the spec’s vertical pixels (3840) because it’s so much bigger than 1080.

Recently, however, an entirely new buzzword has entered the manufacturer’s vocabulary: High Dynamic Range (HDR). Suddenly the discussion isn’t just about more pixels, but better pixels. At its most basic, HDR delivers greater contrast between light and dark areas of a video image. How does that work and how important will it end being to your TV enjoyment? I shall endeavor to enlighten you.

How HDR works

If you’re familiar with High Dynamic Range at all, it’s likely via a setting on your smartphone or digital camera. As its name implies, the feature increases the dynamic range—the ratio of light to dark—in your photographs. It accomplishes this by photographing the subject three times at different exposures, doubling the light in each picture. The three images are then blended into one (in a program such as Photoshop, if the device doesn’t handle it internally) that retains the darkest and brightest parts from the first and third exposure, respectively. The result should be a brighter, more detailed picture that’s much closer to what your eye sees.

The idea behind HDR video is similar: It increases the range of brightness in an image to boost the contrast between the lightest lights and the darkest darks. If you’re having difficulty grasping how that translates into a more realistic image on your screen, think of the subtle tonal gradations a fine artist creates in a charcoal drawing to build the illusion of volume, mass, and texture, and you should begin to get the picture. But HDR doesn’t just improve grayscale; its greater luminance range opens up a video’s color palette as well. “Basically, it’s blacker blacks, whiter whites, and higher brightness and contrast levels for colors across the spectrum,” says Glenn Hower, a research analyst at Parks Associates.

The result is richer, more lifelike video images. Rather than washing out to white, as it would in conventional video, a ray of sunlight reflecting off a lake in HDR will gleam, and a bright cloud will appear soft and cottony. Basically any image your current TV would render shadowed, dull, muddy, or bleached out will look nuanced, vibrant, and strikingly realistic in HDR.

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techhive

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Apr 242015
 

Sony presented some amazing new products at NAB 2015. Here Claus Pfizer speaks  to these new HDR developments.

Apr 162015
 

If you’re in the business of making drones for photography, it takes a bit to stand out from the crowd these days. Drone-mounted cameras are only getting better, and the vehicles themselves are only becoming more capable of accommodating higher quality lenses and equipment. Freefly Systems is looking to add another element to the airborne filmmaking mix with a professional-grade UAV that can fly with a camera above its body.

The hexacopter comes ready to fly out of the box, with a whopping 15 lb (6.8 kg) payloadThe company claims that the vehicle also has regenerative brakingThe hexacopter comes ready to fly out of the box, with a whopping 15 lb (6.8 kg) payload The company claims that the vehicle also has regenerative brakingView all
Seattle-based Freefly Systems unveiled its Alta drone at this week’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, along with some impressive filmmaking gear. The hexacopter comes ready to fly out of the box, with a whopping 15 lb (6.8 kg) payload to tow bulky, high quality shooters such as the 6K Red Dragon, Sony F55 and the Alexa Mini.

While impressive, carrying cutting edge cinematography equipment isn’t what really sets the Alta apart from competitors. In addition to toting a camera underneath, the company’s MoVI stabilizers can just as easily be mounted to the top to enable shooting from entirely new angles. We’ll admit, our first reaction was along the lines of, “why would you need to do that?” But the Alta’s promo footage quickly put such skepticism to bed.

Freefly Systems

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Apr 152015
 

 

 

While still leaving many questions unanswered, Technicolor is using this week’s National Association of Broadcasters Show to reveal more of its plans to support high dynamic range, a feature that expands the range between the whitest whites and blackest blacks that can be seen on a TV or movie screen.

Announced steps include HDR color grading services for movies, TV shows and commercials. Also, the company plans to license what it calls an Intelligent Tone Management plug-in, developed to help broadcasters to create HDR content in their own facilities.

Hollywood is interested in HDR, but a challenge to a rollout is that various, some proprietary, formats are appearing.

Technicolor said its color grading services would launch in Los Angeles in June, supporting the HDR guidelines set by the UHD Alliance, an industry coalition that includes most of the Hollywood studios. Those guidelines, however, have not yet been set; Technicolor is hopeful something might be in place in the foreseeable future.

The Intelligent Tone Management plug-in was created to analyze video in real time and provide colorists with more control of luminance in the shadows, mid-tones and highlights. The company plans to license the plug-in, which is being tested with a planned release in June.

At NAB, Autodesk is demoing the plug-in with the Autodesk Lustre color grading system and Blackmagic Design, with its DaVinci Resolve color grading software. FilmLight also is planning support for its Baselight grading system.

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Apr 142015
 

For photographers, finding the perfect way to capture the moment can become an obsession. Sometimes you want to depict real life, but other times you just want to convey a feeling. A vision. A dream.

Impression is designed to help you realize your vision by transforming your photos into realistic-looking studio art. Easy-to-use presets (47 of them!) allow you to pick and choose across entire art movements in a few simple clicks. What’s more, you can pull from a huge store of creative adjustment options to make masterpieces uniquely yours. No prior knowledge of art is required – all you need is a photo and an unbounded imagination!

Click the image below to visit the Topaz Impression page at Topaz Labs.

Impression-Interface

Here is an image I processed with Topaz Impression with about three minutes of practice:

jeepny5

 

 

Apr 132015
 

Blackmagic Design today announced Blackmagic URSA Mini, a compact and lightweight Super 35 digital film camera that looks to bring all the greatness found in the original URSA in a size that is far more convenient for all-day use, as the original URSA is quite large and heavy. URSA Mini features the same new 4.6K image sensor that was just announced for the full size-URSA, switchable global or rolling shutter, up to 15 stops of dynamic range, a large 5 inch fold out viewfinder and dual RAW and Apple ProRes recorders.

Blackmagic URSA Mini is available in 4 models, customers can choose either EF or PL lens mounts and 4K or 4.6K image sensors. Prices for the Blackmagic URSA Mini start at $2,995 for the 4K EF model.

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Apr 072015
 

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Panasonic will introduce a new Micro Four Thirds hybrid photo/video camera at the 2015 NAB show (April 11-16th). Here are some of the rumored specs:

  • 4K video
  • 18MP photo
  • 16+ stops of dynamic range
  • Improved lowlight capabilities
  • Improved skintones
  • Improved highlight rendition
  • Useable ISO (almost no grain) up to 12,800
  • The new camera will basically have one of the best stills and images/color rendition/dynamic range compared to the competition
  • Price tag is expected to be high – similar to the  AF101: around $3k-$4k

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Mar 022015
 

“For the first time, the exhilarating image quality, low-light capabilities and speed of a Nikon DSLR are available with the convenience of built-in Wi-Fi® and Near Field Communication (NFC). Introducing the D7200, the new star of Nikon’s DX-format line-up. Whether you’re a passionate photographer or videographer looking for a tool to ignite your creativity, a pro in need of a nimble second camera or someone looking for an ideal blend of versatility and convenience, the D7200 is ready for your challenge.”

–Nikon
Buy it now

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Feb 272015
 

Alex Chacón, the creator of the “Most Epic Selfie Video of 2014”, has taken the selfie game to a whole new level. He traveled to Veracruz to combine his passion for selfies and drones creating a unique and amazing road-trip video shot entirely on a drone. The “dronie” concept combines a selfie in motion captured by a drone (quadcopter)! Come on board and watch him explore the majestic land of Veracruz from a whole new perspective!

Feb 252015
 

“If you get excited by the thought of applying realistic painterly effects such as impasto, oil, watercolor, or pastel to your photos, or if you dream of mimicking the brushstrokes of legendary artists like Monet, Van Gogh, O’Keeffe, Degas, and Cezanne, Topaz Labs’ Impression plug-in will have you dancing in the streets. I absolutely LOVE it! The hardest part is choosing which preset to use because there are so many breathtaking options. In today’s tutorial, we’ll take a close look at Impression. I’ll share all of the amazing not-so-obvious features.”

Mark S. Johnson Photography

Feb 232015
 

From the Arri press release:

“ARRI announces the new ALEXA Mini, a versatile additional tool in the ARRI ALEXA camera range that combines a compact and lightweight form factor with the same unparalleled image quality that has made the ALEXA system a gold standard for the industry. Designed for specialized shot-making, the ALEXA Mini perfectly complements a full ALEXA shooting kit and allows crews to eliminate the complications of working with third-party cameras by keeping everything within a single system that is trusted all over the world.

To maintain ARRI’s famously rugged build quality in a small and lightweight camera, a number of unique design solutions have been incorporated. These include highly integrated and environmentally sealed electronics, a lightweight carbon housing and a solid titanium PL mount that connects directly with the new internal sensor mount to ensure a super-stable flange focal distance, even when using large lenses. Nimble in use and hardy on set, the ALEXA Mini is a go-anywhere tool, easy to transport in backpacks or as carry-on luggage.

The ALEXA Mini can be operated in a number of ways: by wireless remote control, as a normal camera with the ARRI MVF-1 multi viewfinder attached, or with an on-board monitor and controlled via the user button interface on the camera body. Light enough to be comfortably held at arm’s length in a hand rig, its compact size and extremely quiet operation also make it ideal for tight shooting conditions. The symmetrical design permits filming in any orientation, including upside-down and in portrait mode, while multiple accessory points enable highly creative mounting solutions. In addition, the ALEXA Mini’s interchangeable lens mount can be replaced with any of those designed for the ARRI AMIRA, allowing the use of B4 video and EF mount stills lenses.

Equipped with a 4:3 sensor, automatic de-squeeze mode for anamorphic productions and frame rates of 0.75-200 fps, the ALEXA Mini records ProRes or uncompressed ARRIRAW either in-camera to CFast 2.0 cards or to a specially-designed external Codex recorder that can record image streams from up to four ALEXA Minis simultaneously — a compelling option for multi-camera setups such as 360° plate shots. Images from the ALEXA Mini will perfectly match those from all other ALEXA cameras, making the final grade easier and quicker.

Integrated functionality is at the heart of the ALEXA Mini’s efficient and self-contained design. A built-in lens motor controller allows new active lens motors to be connected directly to the titanium PL mount, while ARRI Lens Data System (LDS) technology provides frame-accurate metadata that can save time and money both on-set and in post. Wi-Fi connectivity means that iOS or Android devices can be used to remotely control camera functions such as the motorized internal ND filters, which permit rapid responses to changing light conditions without adding bulk to the camera configuration.

The body design is optimized for use with new-generation brushless gimbals, multicopters and other specialized rigs. It is compact enough in the lens direction to allow the use of standard PL mount lenses even on lightweight and space-constrained rigs, such as gyro-stabilized aerial systems. The camera’s superb low-light performance makes it perfect for underwater work; dedicated underwater housings are currently being developed by leading manufacturers.

Like the ARRI AMIRA, the ALEXA Mini can record 4K UHD ProRes images, facilitating real-time 4K UHD output and simple pipelines for high-resolution deliverables. More importantly, the Mini and all other ARRI cameras with the ALEV III sensor offer unrivalled overall image quality by focusing not just on spatial resolution, but also on other parameters such as colorimetry, skin tones and High Dynamic Range (HDR). This is equally true whether the chosen output is HD, 2K, 4K UHD or one of the native resolution outputs like uncompressed ARRIRAW 2.8K or ProRes 3.2K, ensuring that images captured with the ALEXA Mini are future-proof, whatever new industry standards emerge.”

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Feb 192015
 

Magnetic Stereo: Plugin for magically balancing audio from your stereo mic in FCPX.
Use a stereo mic or field recorder? Magnetic Stereo by Audiofile Engineering is a magical way to quickly balance your stereo audio.
crumplepop.com

Feb 172015
 

With fun features such as a “selfie screen”, pared down controls and a user-friendly interface, the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is primarily aimed at point-and-shoot users. However, experienced photographers can find plenty of depth to keep their interest, with enough manual control to feel serious, and with the option of adding accessories such as an electronic viewfinder.

If you’ve seen the marketing for the latest Olympus PEN E-PL7, and are put off by its selfie screens and the like, then don’t be. It’s not all gimmickry, with style high on the agenda. The E-PL7 certainly is attractive and there’s more than just its looks on offer.

As the sixth model in the E-PL series, does the E-PL7 offer enough to keep it up to scratch compared to the entry-level compact system camera competition?

There is no mistake that the E-PL7 belongs to the PEN “Lite” range, but this sixth iteration is a step in the right direction towards the more luxury Olympus PEN E-P5, adopting the traditional rangefinder style with faux-leather body-finish (previous E-PL versions feature a smooth and therefore more slippery finish). The model in for review is the black and silver version, which looks lovely, but the camera is available in other colours too.

Read more: pocket-lint.com

 

Feb 172015
 

The Blu-Ray Disc Association has put together a more or less conclusive agreement on a batch of standards for the next generation of their once very popular Blu-ray discs. The new 4K Blu-ray versions of these discs have been in the making since at least the middle of last year and are expected to be released towards the middle or end of 2015.

According to the latest news on the new, concreted standards from the BDA, the association will support three different High Dynamic Range technologies in its new 4K Blu-ray discs. These include specs from both Dolby Vision, the HDR system that is being offered by Philips and a joint HDR standard that comes from Technicolor and is part of the MPEG/SMPTE proposals of the company.

Also important is the fact that the new Blu-ray 4K disc specifications fit in with the “Recommendation 2020” protocol that has been put forth by the EBU and includes proposals not only for the much wider color gamuts that will come with HDR but also delivers the highly important technology of “better pixels” that is being promised for ultra HD. “Better pixels” are supposed to dramatically improve the visual quality of the 4K resolution screens that emerge with them even though UHD screens already offer some of the best picture quality in existence today.

According to “Large Display Monitor”, the trade magazine that originally reported on the new UHD Blu-ray standards, the combined specs for better pixels, HDR variations and other improvements to 4K visuals will indeed be embraced by the Blu-ray Disc Association by the middle of the year.

The 4K Blu-ray discs themselves, and the media players that support them should both then start appearing later in 2015; though Panasonic has already unveiled a 4K Blu-ray media player at the International CES 2015 in January of this year.

Read More at 4k.com

Feb 022015
 

The latest buzz in the Sony and Canon rumor mills is that the next round of high megapixel sensors for both companies, will be produced through a joint venture.imageAccording to the report, published both on Canon Watch and Canon Rumors, the new 50MP sensors that we have been hearing so much about from Canon and Sony, are actually the same sensor. The rumor states that by way of a patent share, Canon would get the benefit of Sony’s sensor design and Sony would get the advantage of Canon’s Dual Pixel AF, the resulting 50MP sensor would be used in both companies’ high megapixel bodies.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the best of both worlds. If you are a Canon shooter, you get a HUGE increase in dynamic range and sensor quality, while retaining the awesome abilities of the Dual Pixel AF. If you are a Sony shooter, you gain the advanced AF ability of the Dual Pixel AF (something we know many mirrorless offerings still struggle with), while maintaining your superb sensor performance.

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slrlounge

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Jan 092015
 

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A new “Ansel Adams Act” introduced in Congress could have big implications on photographers’ rights across the United States. The bill aims to “restore the First Amendment rights of photographers” by removing restrictions on taking photos in public places.

Introduced on January 2nd, 2015 by Republican US Representative Steve Stockman of Texas, the document discusses the disturbing trend in recent years of the US Government creating regulations that prohibit or restrict photography in places such as national parks and public spaces, and of subjects such as government buildings, police officers, and other government workers.

Even when these laws don’t exist, people “have been instructed to prohibit photography from public spaces, and threatened photographers with arrest or seizure of photographic equipment,” the bill says.

Stockman argues that this is a violation of “freedom of speech and of the press” against the principles of the First Amendment. “Still and motion photographs are speech,” he says. “It is contrary to the public policy of the United States to prohibit or restrict photography in public spaces, whether for private, news media, or commercial use.”

The bill’s solution is to make sure that photography in public spaces is not prohibited (the government would need a court order to do so), that the government will not charge photographers to shoot on public land, and that photographic equipment cannot be seized or tampered with.

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petapixel

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Jan 062015
 

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This is all centered on the fact that the new sensor is based on the same 4.2 micron pixel design as the new 7D Mark II. If you take that 4.2 micron pixel design, and extrapolate that into a full frame sized sensor, then you get roughly a 52MP sensor.

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slrlounge

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Dec 222014
 
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“Taken during the Mayana Soora Thiruvizha festival, which takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam, the day after Mahashivarathiri (the great night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in southern India.” –Mahesh Balasubramanian. Location: Kaveripattinam, Tamilnadu, India Mahesh Balasubramanian / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest / Via travel.nationalgeographic.com

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“Green Lake (Grüner See) is located Tragöss, Austria. In spring, snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 metres. This phenomenon lasts only a few weeks, covering the hiking trails, meadows, trees.

The result is magical-to-watch diving landscapes.” –Marc Henauer Marc Henauer / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest / Via travel.nationalgeographic.com

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