The Israeli army has a tactical intelligence device called the “Firefly” — a wireless camera that’s launched out of a grenade launcher, capturing eight seconds worth of imagery as it floats on a parachute from 500 feet in the air. It’s military grade technology that isn’t available to private citizens, but two hackers are trying to create a DIY version of the device for $500. Vlad Gostom and Joshua Marpet built their version of out of a 37mm flare gun, and showed it off this week at DefCon. They hope that, if perfected, the device could one day be useful for people ranging from law enforcement officers to search-and-rescue teams.
Thought the grain-of-salt-sized camera announced in Germany earlier this year was small? Well, researchers at Cornell have created a camera just 1/100th of a millimeter thick and 1mm on each size that has no lens or moving parts. The Planar Fourier Capture Array (PFCA) is simply a flat piece of doped silicon that cost just a few cents each. After light information is gathered, some fancy mathematical magic (i.e. the Fourier transform) turns the information into a 20×20 pixel “photo”. The fuzzy photo of the Mona Lisa above was shot using this camera.
Obviously, the camera won’t be very useful for ordinary photography, but it could potentially be extremely useful in science, medicine, and gadgets.
We’ve seen quite a few solutions for storing lens caps when they’re not in use, ranging from velcro attachments to small lens cap pouches. The Camera Lens Cap Holder is a new patent-pending holder by mechanical engineer Mark Stevenson that lets you attach your lens caps to your strap in the way they’re designed to be attached — they simply snap onto it in the same way they snap onto lenses. Stevenson is currently funding the project through Kickstarter, and a $15 contribution will pre-order you one of these holders.
Swedish Alex Breton spent 11 years and and $10 million developing the PrintBrush, a printer that lets you print onto paper by simply rubbing the handheld device across the surface. While traditional printers must move paper through a machine in order to accurately track the position of the page, the PrintBrush works more like an optical mouse, tracking the paper underneath with lasers. A camera-equipped PaintBrush is set to hit the market in early 2012, letting people everywhere print photos instantly on any flat surface!
Color photography was born on this day 150 years ago in 1861 when Scottish physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell and photographer Thomas Sutton — inventor of the SLR camera — shot the above photograph of a colored ribbon.
[...] Maxwell proposed that if three black-and-white photographs of a scene were taken through red, green and violet filters, and transparent prints of the images were projected onto a screen using three projectors equipped with similar filters, when superimposed on the screen the result would be perceived by the human eye as a complete reproduction of all the colours in the scene.
During an 1861 Royal Institution lecture on colour theory, Maxwell presented the world’s first demonstration of colour photography by this principle of three-colour analysis and synthesis, the basis of nearly all subsequent photochemical and electronic methods of colour photography. Thomas Sutton, inventor of the single-lens reflex camera, did the actual picture-taking. He photographed a tartan ribbon three times, through red, green and blue filters. [...] Because Sutton’s photographic plates were in fact insensitive to red and barely sensitive to green, the results of this pioneering experiment were far from perfect. [#]
Thus began modern color theory and the fundamentals behind how your DSLR captures color.
Did you know that Leica was actually the company that first invented autofocus? Between 1960 and 1973 the company patented a number of autofocus technologies, and then showed off the technology at photokina in 1976 and 1978. However, the head honchos of the company believed that their customers knew how to focus and preferred focusing themselves, so they decided to sell the patent rights to Minolta.
We covered the WVIL (wireless viewfinder interchangeable lens) concept camera at the beginning of the year when the design team behind it released a fake video of it being showed off at CES 2011. The above video is another neat glimpse at the supposedly patent-pending design, which puts all the camera functions in the lens itself, leaving the camera body to function as a wireless display and control panel. What do you think of the idea?
The applications of this on the consumer photography market are likely nil, but researchers at Ohio State University have invented a method of shooting 3D photographs using a single lens. The trick is that the lens is cut like a gem, giving it eight different facets in addition to the main face that “see” the subject from different perspectives. Custom software then takes in the image and processes the 9 different views to create a single 3D image. Read more…
If Doctor Octopus were to design a DIY flash accessory, it might look a little something like this. German microbiologist Marcell Nikolausz has been experimenting with using fiber optics to split a single flash unit’s light into multiple light sources. Optical fibers are threaded through Gorillapod-style Loc-Line channels, allowing flexible and stable positioning of the light sources. Each individual light source can be controlled using various modifiers (e.g. diffusers, gels, etc..), changing their quality and intensity.
For some sample photographs taken with this contraption, check out this set of photos. You can also learn more about Nikolausz’s experimentation on his blog.