A new patent application by Apple is showing off some of the technology we may be finding in the next generation camera. The application, which you can read in its entirety here, mentions a few new features, among them the ability to select multiple focus points, allowing the the phone to take over and adjust the aperture, exposure and even post-process to get the best possible picture for those points.
A few other notable features mentioned in the patent include motion tracking for focus, automatic sharpening of key areas, and the possibility of a dedicated image processor (instead of the image processing hardware built into the A5 chip?). Of course we can’t be sure that these advances will make their way into the next iPhone or that they’ll see the light of day at all, but just the fact that Apple is taking this much of an interest in improving an already good smartphone camera seems to bode well for the phoneotographers among us.
Sony is reportedly focusing on autofocus as one of the main battlegrounds it’ll wage war on in the DSLR market. According to sonyalpharumors, the company is working on a new A99 SLT camera that’s already being tested by photographers in the wild, and one of the main selling points of the camera is a whopping 102 autofocus points — all of them cross type. For comparison, Canon’s 1D X has 61 AF points with 41 of them cross type, and the Nikon D800 has 51 AF points with 15 of them cross type. Granted, the autofocus performance of a camera is much more than the number of cross-type points it has, but perhaps this is the beginning of a new “cross-type war” now that the “megapixel war” is cooling down a bit.
In a paper published in Science this week, Japanese researchers reported on a discovery that jumping spiders use a method for gauging distance called “image defocus”, which no other living organism is known to use. Rather than use focusing and stereoscopic vision like humans or head-wobbling motion parallax like birds, the spiders have two green-detecting layers in their eyes — one in focus and one not. By comparing the two, the spiders can determine the distance from objects. Scientists discovered that bathing spiders in pure red light “breaks” their distance measuring ability. Read more…
Claus Thiim captured this beautiful image of fireworks showing both in-focus and out-of-focus burst of light. The trick is to capture most of the photograph while focused on the fireworks, and then throw the lens out of focus shortly before the shutter closes.
On a slightly related note, check out this crazy video of an entire fireworks display released in just one minute (something went wrong).
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.
Canon’s new 1D X is an impressive fusion of the old 1D and 1Ds lines, boasting state of the art sensor quality combined with impressive speed, but there’s one downside that may be a big disappointment to some photographers: the camera loses autofocus when used with lenses with a max aperture of f/8.
While there aren’t any Canon lenses that naturally have an f/8 maximum, adding a 1.4x extender to a f/5.6 lens or a 2x extender to a f/4 lens results in a lens with a max of f/8. If you’re planning on upgrading to a 1D X but need extended reach (e.g. you do bird photography), you may need to shell out some extra cash for a faster lens.
If you’ve never used a rangefinder camera before, this video provides a visual look at how focusing works (a Leica M2 is used). Basically you’re given a second (smaller) image of the scene, and your goal is turn the focus ring until the two images match up for the subject you’d like to have in focus. Read more…
The Frazier Ultimate lens is like the universe’s anti-matter to the Canon 50mm f/1.0 that we shared yesterday. Rather than have a tiny depth of field and tons of bokeh, the Frazier lens is one that has massive depth of field, allowing both the foreground and background of the image to be in focus at the same time. It’s widely used in Hollywood and in wildlife documentaries, and the video above shows some of the visual tricks you can do when having infinite DoF.
In the future, focusing on the wrong subject when taking a picture might be a thing of the past. At Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference this year Adobe gave a demonstration of how plenoptic lenses can be used to allow focus to be arbitrarily chosen after the image is captured during post-processing. These are microlens arrays containing hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands (Stanford researchers used a camera with 90,000 lenses) of tiny lenses that record much more information about a scene than traditional single lenses. Read more…
I had another go at the Bible Heart picture but this time with a tripod to properly hold the flash so that I could get consistent lighting and a ring instead of a UV filter.
This was my intial set up. I changed it a little bit later on but this is basically what it looked like.
I used all manual settings to see where the shadow was going at first, and ended up using some really weird settings. I was at f/20 for aperture (which I never do) and you can see that basically everything is in focus. Haha.
Ahh… Finally got the heart as I wanted it to look! The first picture is what the shadow looks like from above (obviously distorted); it’s that way because John 3:16 is more to the end of the Bible and the page heights are different. Then I had to play around with what angle to shoot from to get rid of the distortion. After I figured that out…it was time to change some settings and ring placement. I then reverted to f/2.8 so that I could pick and choose what was in focus.
Here’s an intial shot I took with the ring in focus. It doesn’t have much meaning to it though:
Here’s one of the final pictures. I made the ring out of focus on purpose and then focused on the word “loved.”
Then I really wanted a picture from that top view perspective so then I turned to the middle of the Bible and took another couple of pics.