iPhone 7/7+ Raw Capabilities

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Would an iPhone 7 raw capture have produced more shadow detail, more highlight detail, and less sky noise than this iPhone 6 standard camera shot?

While the internet is flooded with negative articles about the iPhone 7 series and how little new they have to offer (a great way to get clicks, whether you have anything meaningful to say or not), there are, in fact, a number of very interesting new features, especially in the 7+. I will wait to discuss the dual cameras and what they offer for phone photography, as well as the wide gamut P3 colorspace of the new iPhones, until I actually have one in hand (the prudent way to write about any product), but in the meantime I can’t resist commenting on another feature of the new phones, or for that matter other recent iPhones, running iOS 10.

That would be the ability to shoot raw images. Not that the native camera app which Apple supplies (and which accounts for the vast majority of images shot with iPhones) offers such an option; but it is available for third parties to use. Adobe is making a splash by supporting this capability in their Lightroom camera function. But first, lets step back, and think about what raw really means.

Raw means nothing, unless there is more than 8 bits (256 levels) of meaningful data available. So the value of raw functions of any type with iPhones will depend on how much meaningful raw data is actually captured, and made available for use, from these phones.

Experience with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras has shown that ten bits of data is good, and twelve bits is better. But where does such “extra” data show up, since screens often don’t display more then 256 levels per color channel anyways?

It shows up mostly when you make significant adjustments to the file, to open the shadows, or enhance the highlights. And the peculiar way that bit depth in files works, extra bits allows us to keep much more highlight detail, while leaving more bits for further down the range. However, unless the dynamic range captures meaningful data, not noise, in the deep shadows, then the value of that extra depth is questionable.

So what we will be looking for from raw capture as we test the iPhone 7 and 7+ (and iOS 10 with phones from the 6s forward) is the ability to produce more highlight and shadow detail, and the ability to make big density shifts in editing software, without causing “thinness”, which shows up as posterization in one or more zones after the edit has been made.

How will the iPhone 7 series perform in raw mode? These are tiny sensors, which are therefore prone to much more noise, especially in the shadows, and in dim lighting. Perhaps the 7+ with its dual camera functionality will be able to reduce that noise a bit, but  don’t expect  raw capture from the iPhone 7 and 7+ to respond like a recent generation DSLRs when editing. But we can hope that this will provide at least incremental improvement on previous iPhone images.

The real question is whether the improvements by shooting with Lightroom raw, over the standard iPhone camera, is large enough and frequent enough for us to use the Lightroom camera as our default, go-to choice for shooting.

Copyright C. David Tobie

The Tables have Turned, and now David Saffir Needs Your Assistance

David Saffir, shooting in Paso Robles CA, earlier this year

David Saffir, shooting in Paso Robles CA, earlier this year

We are writing this note for distribution to all the places where David Saffir has generously provided his expertise and wisdom over the years; please distribute as appropriate.

Many of you will recognize David’s name. Some from the excellent book he contributed to our Mastering Digital Series, named Mastering Digital Color. It still sits on my resource volume shelf. Others have heard David speak at venues from Sammy’s in California to B&H Photo in New York. And in recent years you may have had the opportunity to discuss photography, videography, and digital workflow with him in the Datacolor booth at a number of tradeshows. Thousands of you would recognize his voice from the webinars we co-hosted for Datacolor on a wide array of photo and video topics. Finally, there are those who have followed David’s personal blog, as well as his frequent contributions to the SpyderBLOG.

Like many photographers, David is an independent contractor. This means he has to pay for his own health insurance, most recently through the Affordable Care Act. Recently David’s wife underwent major surgery, and the bills, above what insurance covered, had already begun to mount. During her recovery David suffered a major stroke, leaving one side of his body paralyzed. Neither of the Saffirs will be able to return to work any time soon.

An account has been set up on David’s behalf, and any donations to it will be used towards the Saffir’s rapidly growing short-term expenses. Donations can be made payable to David Saffir, and sent to his sister Cynthia Saffir, 2266 Pelham Ave. Los Angeles CA 90064. Alternately, you can donate via PayPal, account name csaff@yahoo.com. All donations, of any size, will be much appreciated.

We will keep you informed of David’s progress, as further information becomes available. Thank you for your assistance.

 

David Tobie, on behalf of Mike Ritzer, Ken Sklute,

and a growing list of other photography friends.

 

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2014. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Mac Edition Radio Interview with C. David Tobie & David Saffir

MacEdition

Harris Fogel  caught up with David Saffir and myself at PhotoPlus Expo, and spent an evening discussing color management, as it relates to photography, mobile, and video. Here’s a MacEditionRadio.com audio interview that captures some of that conversation. Thanks, Harris, for an interesting evening, and a very professional interview!

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Time Lapse Photography – Give It a Shot for Free

Time lapse photography consists of a series of still images, taken at intervals, which can be played back as a fast-motion video. Timelapses can be taken with a wide range of cameras, and don’t necessarily require much special equipment. This article will serve as an intro to the basics of low-cost time lapse.

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Can I Shoot Time Lapse Without Buying Any Special Hardware?

That really depends on what you own now. In order for images in a time lapse to register correctly with one another, it’s necessary to have your camera stable while you shoot the series. This typically means using a tripod. For DSLRs, this could mean a serious tripod, but for test purposes, or for simple web-grade time lapses, a low cost tripod and camera holder such as the Joby Mpod Mini Stand is fine. Using a stand that only holds your phone horizontally will avoid Vertical Video Syndrome, and assure your videos fit on-screen appropriately.

Image Courtesy of Joby

Image Courtesy of Joby

Can I Shoot Time Lapse Without Buying Any Special Software?

Some cameras have the ability to shoot multiple exposures over time built into the camera firmware, and available in the camera’s menu options. For more flexibility, some type of external timer and trigger system is typically used. Triggertrap’s iPhone and Android apps are free, and offer simple time lapse functions that can be used with the phone’s internal camera, as well as a broader range of functions for triggering external cameras. So its possible to be creating sample time lapses instantly, at no cost, if you have some system for holding your phone steady. Applications from freeware to top-end Adobe apps, can be used to composite your time lapses once shot and edited.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

What Types of Time Lapses Can I Shoot?

Triggertrap has multiple modes, including standard, even interval time lapses, TimeWarp, which speeds up as it shoots, DistanceLapse, which shoots the same number of frames per block, mile, or kilometer, even if the conveyance carrying the camera slows down and speeds up with traffic. These three modes are available for your smartphone camera, as well as external cameras. Star Trail mode, creating night shots with the stars rotating around the north (or south) pole, and a bulb ramping mode, which is more advanced than we will cover here, are only available for external cameras.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Traggertrap can also be triggered by sound (great for fireworks, gametrails, etc) vibration (which could use the same examples as sound) or even facial recognition, all of which work with internal phone cameras as well as external cameras. It also offers two HDR modes, which are designed for merging multiple exposures into single images with an increased dynamic range. The HDR functions are external-camera-only.

Where Would I Go from There?

Once you are comfortable with the concepts of time lapsing, the next likely step is to get a Triggertrap Mobile Dongle and Camera Cable (total cost at the Triggertrap website of slightly over $30US) to control your real camera wirelessly from your smartphone. As well has adding new functions that only an external camera is capable of, and improved resolution and sharpness, the biggest plus to time lapsing with a DSLR is the increased light sensitivity; evening is the most exciting time for urban time lapses, and the low light sensitivity, and better handling of light sources within the image frame without halo effects, offer much improved night-shots using a DSLR instead of a phone-camera. While add-on wide-angle lenses make wide angle possible with phone-cameras, telephoto lenses on DSLRs offer a whole new range of opportunities.

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Image Courtesy of Triggertrap

Where Does It End?

Who says it has to end? With the beauty of landscape time lapses with clouds rushing by, rivers and roads with cars and watercraft moving through, and all the interesting activities of urban locations, the possibilities are endless. And that is before even considering the human factor. Documenting the ebb and flow of people in a subway station, or cars at traffic lights from above, are just a few suggestions. Then there are bulbs popping up and flowers bursting open and birds building nests, for macro photography lovers. Even the traffic on an anthill can be mesmerizing when time lapsed.

What are the Other Hardware Options?

If time lapsing becomes a serious interest, than advanced tools can be added that enrich the time lapse experience. The first addition is typically a dolly track. Dynamic Perception makes a series of professional track systems that allow your camera to move gracefully during a time lapse, adding dimensionality, as close-up objects move against the background during the process. 3 axis robots, such as those built by Emotimo allow an even wider range of motion, moving from the landscape to the sky vertically, or panning side to side during a time lapse. Combining both allows a camera to move past an object while swiveling to keep it in the center of view, much as a person does when walking or riding by an object of interest.

Image Courtesy of Revolve

Image Courtesy of Revolve

Tiny tracks and robots are becoming more available for low cost alternatives to this type of pro equipment, such as Glidetrack’s Mobyslyder and the Revolve Camera Dolly.

Image Courtesy of GlideTrack

Image Courtesy of Glidetrack

Editing and Color Managing Your Time Lapses

One of the advantages of time lapse work over most types of video, is that it is actually a series of still images. This means it is possible to shoot in RAW mode, and gain the advantages of better highlight and shadow control, as well as making it easy to color manage one shot, and then apply those color corrections to all the images in the series. Shooting a SpyderCube or SpyderCheckr can help you determine the settings for your time lapse work, and SpyderLensCal can assure that your focus is in exact zone desired. Back in the studio, those Cube or Checkr shots can then be used for RAW adjustment before creating your time lapse from your individual images.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

To Power, Filter, and Protect – CagePro for your GoPro Camera

Tehkron has announced a new cage for the GoPro Hero3+ cameras called CagePro, which serves multiple purposes.

CageProHeader

Protection

We all know the types of abuse GoPro cameras see; its all in a day’s work for a GoPro to be used in high activity, accident-prone situations. So an outer cage for the GoPro is a useful tool unto itself.

CageProFront

 

Support and Attachment

Convenient attachment methods for GoPro cameras can also come in handy, since crazy action angles are what GoPro is about. A second version of the cage is available with a top handle, offering even more options for support and attachment.

CageProHandle

 

Power

Perhaps the most unique feature of CagePro is that it holds standard batteries (the same batteries used in the Canon 5D Mk ll and lll, and 7D) to provide long-life power to your GoPro. Anyone who has spent time working with GoPro videography will instantly understand the value and convenience of this option; not only can you power your GoPro for longer, you can interchange batteries with your DSLR cameras, which you may be using on the same shoot.

CageProBat

Filtration

GoPro cameras are used in uncontrolled situations, and typically they adjust to bright conditions by shortening the shutterspeed. As we learn from our DSLR video work, this is not ideal. In the DSLR video world, we would compensate for this by adding a neutral density filter to the camera to allow shutter speed and aperture to not be sacrificed for the sake of not blowing out the highlights. The 62mm front threads on the CagePro housing allow ND and other filter types to be mounted. Again, if you have 62mm threaded lenses, this will allow you to interchange components with your DSLRs and your GoPros.

The Last Word

Is CagePro an accessory you can’t live without? That will depend on your particular brand of action videography; but I can see a lot of value in this product for GoPro shooters. At prices of $150US and $180US for the cage or the cage plus handle, this is an affordable addition to the action shooter’s gear.

All Images Courtesy of Tehkron

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Gear Organization – What’s Inside Your Camera Bag?

EtCeteraHeader

Why will we pay a small fortune for a camera bag, but nothing for the organizers we put inside it?

Heads turn when I pull out a serious camera bag. But once I open it, the magic ends. I have random cases and pouches from companies ten years dead, and even an old electric shaver kit inside. So one of my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions was to improve the quality of my gear organizers this year. Given the state of the calendar, I needed to move quickly.

What’s Out There for Organizers?

After looking at the choices out there, I began to realize why I was still using such a motley crew of random containers: everybody wanted to sell me a camera bag, but no one wanted to supply organizers to go inside it. Perhaps because they were convinced that no one would pay for organizers when they have a random set of small, low cost cases already. However, I stuck with my resolution, and moved forward.

What Did I Choose?

I simplified the process by acquiring the entire Gura Gear <www.guragear.com> line of organizers: their Et Cetera Cases bundle, and their Et Cetera Pouches bundle. It seemed simpler to try all three sizes of each, and find out if I might need more of a particular size, then to attempt to guess what sizes and quantities would be needed in advance.

The Gura Gear Et Cetera Pouch Set

The Gura Gear Et Cetera Pouch Set

How Are They Constructed?

Gura Gear’s cases and pouches are well designed, bringing the durable materials and quality details that we expect from their camera bags down to the smaller scale of organizers. Fronts are transparent, to simplify finding what you need without opening more cases than necessary. Zippers are high quality, and zipper pulls are color-coded. Interior dividers are adjustable, and larger cases have interior edge bands as well. All the cases have a small strap loop, which can be used to secure them. The pouches are similarly made, with shallow edges instead of the deeper sides of the cases. Both cases and pouches have tape loops at each end of the zippers, which function as pulls, and could be also be used for securing the pouches (which do not have straps) if the need arose.

What’s the Value of This Design?

This type of organizer is not intended to become a freestanding camera bag; it’s designed to live inside a camera bag or gear case, so the fewer extra features on the outside, the better. Slick, smooth, and uninterrupted is the goal for an internal case; long straps, pocket flaps, and other interferences are not desirable.

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Medium Et Cetera Case, showing zipper tabs, zipper pull, loop handle, and card holder

What Sizes for What Gear?

Both the cases and the pouches come in Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear sizes. The simplest solution is to gather all your gear, and test how it fits in the various cases, and what breakdowns naturally occur. Batteries and chargers in one case make sense for some users; others will take batteries on-site where there is no electricity, and not want to backpack the chargers into such sites. Breaking down chargers and cords together makes a different type of logic, but then all the parts for a given set of lights can’t be broken out from other lights or from camera battery chargers. In many instances more, smaller, cases offer more flexible packing options than fewer, larger ones, and reduce the number of times gear needs to be rebundled before packing. I suspect that in the long run the greatest advantage of dedicated gear containers for me will not be time savings on site-time, but savings on prep time, and greater assurance that I have what I need.

Large Et Cetera Case, as my Capture Calibration Case

Large Et Cetera Case, as my Capture Calibration Case

How Did It Work Out?

The cases and pouches proved ideal for a wide range of gear. The largest case is ideal for the multiple SpyderLensCal units I use for video focus pulling, the multiple SpyderCube units I use for lighting set up, and the multiple SpyderCheckrs I use to for White Balance with the gray cards, and color calibration with the color cards. The pouches proved equally ideal for cables, converters, dongles, and small gear. If I have a complaint, it would be that none of the containers, except the largest case, is more than 7 ¾” long (20cm), and I seem to have a lot of items just a bit longer than that.

Small Et Cetera Case, filled with chargers and related cables

Small Et Cetera Case, filled with chargers and related cables

What Other Storage Solutions Might I Need?

The possibilities for gear storage and transport are infinite. But the one item clearly not covered by this type of case and pouch system is media storage wallets. For video shooters using drives, these cases could be ideal, but for still photographers using cards, a wallet makes the most sense. Gura Gear offers a series of such wallets, as do a number of other companies. Keep the juggling act of card changing in mind when you shop for a wallet design. Avoiding wallets with awkward roll-up functions or zippers makes the process of pulling out a wallet and swapping cards as simple as possible. Having separate sections for different types of cards, or for full and empty cards, is another key feature.  

At What Cost?

Dedicated organizers are not inexpensive; especially not well designed ones. Purchasing a full array of dedicated cases and pouches runs more than a low priced camera case. However, the more I work with the Gura Gear Et Cetera organizers, the more I appreciate the value of having the right case for every use, and the same system for all cases. It saves a few seconds identifying the right container, and a few more with the smooth-working zippers and pulls. And it makes it easy to purchase more cases exactly fitted to need and size, as more gear is purchased, or to move into video work. Compared to the cost of their contents, the cases are a steal. For my review of Gura Gear’s Bataflae Camera Packs, please click here.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

Spyder Photo & Video Products Win International Press Association’s Best-In-Show Award at PPE

Datacolor won a Best In Show award for the Spyder line of products for Photo and Video from the International Press Association‘s IMPress Magazine, shot at Photo Plus Expo in New York City last week. Below is a link to the video interviews IMPress shot with me at the Datacolor Photo Plus Expo booth.

PPE Interview Capture

Click Here to View Videos

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2013.   Video Copywrite IMPress Magazine. Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page