It’s been a while since I wrote a history article and two or three people seemed to like them. I’ve pretty much covered the development of early cameras and lenses so it’s time to consider the way we recorded those images so other people could see them. No, I’m not talking about Facebook. I’m talking about film. Actually, I’m talking about even before film, mostly, but I really wanted to work that ‘development of film’ bit into the title. Pretty great, isn’t it? OK, maybe not. Read more…
Facial recognition service Face.com has announced a new feature in its API: age detection. After analyzing a photograph of a person’s face, the software returns three values: minimum age, maximum age, and estimated age, along with the confidence level of the guesses. Applications for the new technology include enhanced parental controls and targeted advertising. If you want to test out the service yourself, you can play around with the API here (in the photo above, the correct age is ~47).
Samsung has developed what the company claims is the world’s first CMOS sensor that can capture both RGB and range images at the same time. Microsoft’s Kinect has received a good deal of attention as of late for its depth-sensing capabilities, but it uses separate sensors for RGB images and range images. Samsung’s new solution combines both functions into a single image sensor by introducing “z-pixels” alongside the standard red, blue, and green pixels. This allows the sensor to capture 480×360 depth images while 1920×720 photos are being exposed. One of the big trends in the next decade may be depth-aware devices, and this new development certainly goes a long way towards making that a reality.
Knowing how long to develop film for is easy if you use popular films and developers, but what if you want to use some obscure combination that isn’t well documented? If that’s you, check out the Photocritic Film Development Database. It’s a simple service that outputs development times for 1440 different film/developer combinations. For combinations that aren’t officially published, creator Haje Jan Kamps has come with a formula that estimates the time — a formula that he says is surprisingly accurate.
Contrast detection is one of the two main techniques used in camera autofocus systems. Although focusing speeds continue to improve, the method uses an inefficient “guess and check” method of figuring out a subject’s distance — it doesn’t initially know whether to move focus backward or forward. UT Austin vision researcher Johannes Burge wondered why the human eye is able to instantly focus without the tedious “focus hunting” done by AF systems. He and his advisor then developed a computer algorithm that’s able determine the exact amount of focus error by simply examining features in a scene.
His research paper, published earlier this month, offers proof that there is enough information in a static image to calculate whether the focus is too far or too close. Burge has already patented the technology, which he says could allow for cameras to focus in as little as 10 milliseconds.
This amazing image might look like a computer generated graphic, but it’s actually a composite photograph by NASA showing India’s population growth over the years. The white areas show the illumination visible in the country prior to 1992, while the blue, green, and red lights indicate new lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003, respectively. The four photos were tinted and then combined into an image that reveals where new populations are appearing. NASA definitely needs to do one for every country!
In the future, after you print photos onto paper using your camera, you’ll be able to scan them and share them on Flickr using your mouse. At CES earlier this year, LG showed off an amazing new mouse that lets you quickly scan images and documents by simply waving the mouse over them. Now it’s available — if you live in the UK, you can buy one from Dabs for £90 (~$150).
Twitter, Google+, and Facebook are one step closer to becoming clones of each other (at least when it comes to photo sharing) — Twitter has rolled out photo galleries that display the 100 most recent images Tweeted by users in chronological order.
The images included in user galleries can come from Twitter, yFrog, TwitPic, Instagram and other image sharing services supported in Twitter’s details pane. [#]
To view a user’s gallery, simply visit their Twitter page and click the thumbnails on the sidebar. Read more…
There’s a good chance the digital photos you’ve stored on hard drives and DVDs won’t outlive you, but what if there was a disc that could last forever? M-Disc, short for Millenial Disc, is a new type of disc that doesn’t suffer from natural decay and degradation like existing disc technologies, allowing you to store data safely for somewhere between “1000 years” and “forever”.
Existing disc technologies write data using an organic dye layer that begins to experience “data rot” immediately after it’s written, causing the disc to become unreadable after a certain amount of time. The M-Disc, on the other hand, actually carves your data into “rock-like materials” that are known to last for centuries, meaning there’s no data rot. Apparently NASA uses the discs to store data. Hopefully it becomes available and affordable soon…
Here’s some interesting innovation on the tech-side of photography: on August 24, Sony will be unveiling a new lens adapter called the LA-EA2 that will let customers use large Sony Alpha DSLR lenses on their small NEX mirrorless cameras. Unlike most lens adapters, this one actually does a lot more than adapt lenses — it has its own translucent mirror and phase-detection autofocus sensor to aid the camera in providing snappy autofocus. It’s almost like an accessory that helps turn small NEX bodies into a DSLR-style camera (except there’s still no optical viewfinder).