iPhone 7/7+ Raw Capabilities

iphone6-sample-1

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

Apple Power Supply Cable Wear

IMG_6544I’ve seen a fair amount written about the problems with Apple Powerbook power supply cables wearing at the end near the power supply. I’ve seen various clip-ons or do-it-yourself gummy solutions that claim to reduce this issue.

Everyone’s assumption seems to be that there is not sufficient cable stress relief, meaning the cable bends tightly at one spot, rather than making a smoother bend over a longer distance, thus relieving the stress at the power brick.

Apple’s stress relief is, indeed, minimal. And yes, the methods suggested do extend that cable relief. But that only solves the problem if the assumed cause of cable failure is correct.

Observing what is actually happening with these cables, they are very supple; Apple would not want to ship a stiff cable, which cannot be wound-up conveniently. And this suppleness means the cable does not fatigue much from being tightly bent; this would be one reason why Apple does not supply an extended stress reliever.

Instead, the motion that I see causing wear in the cable has to do with the sheath not being bonded to the interior components, and a rotation occurring within the cable sheath. This twisting motion eventually stresses the cable sheathing, the internal wires, or both, causing cable failure.

Most stress relief designs do not address this issue. Anyone who has spent time on sailboats knows about the problems that side-winding a rope produces; wind it to the wrong side, and not only will you kink the rope, you may actually open up the strands, significantly weakening it. The ideal solution to avoid kinking, is to straight-wind a line or cable from the end, not the side, both winding and unwinding.

Applying this to power supply cables, the cause of twisting at the end, causing eventual failure of the cable is the method we use to wind and unwind the cable. If we wind it up overhand, but then, instead of reversing that process to unwind it, pull the cable over the end of the power supply, we are building a series of kinks into the cable, and increasing this twisting force every time we store, then release the cable.

Apple has designed their cable storage solution with end plates that force the user to straight-wind the cable both on and off the arms. However many of us do not open up these clips and store the cable on them, but instead wind the cable around the body of the power supply, or simply wind it up on it’s own.

This has two problematic results. First, it straight-winds the cable onto the power supply, or our fingers, but in most cases we pull the cable off the end of the supply, or sideways out of its self-coil to release, it, thus side-winding kinks into the cable in the process. The second problem is that the Apple winding arms are positioned to contain the short stress reliever, and eliminate force against it, or repeated motion of the cable at that point during storage and travel. Any other cable storage method will leave the cable exposed to force and repeated bending at this point, shortening its overall life expectancy.

So while a conveniently supply cable is prone to wear, the best solution to Apple power supply cable wear appears to be storing the cable in the manner Apple planned, plus being aware of the dangers of twisting the cord, and straightening out any kinks that may form, to avoid ongoing twisting of the cable at the point of attachment.

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.

TimelapseHeader

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

Color Analysis of the iPad Mini and Retina iPad Mini

Note: I am republishing this article, as it pertains equally to the new Retina Display iPad Mini, which shares similar screen color with the non-Retina version.

Characteristics of the Fourth Generation iPad with Retina Display

There are not too many surprises with the fourth generation full size iPad (wouldn’t it be great if Apple gave these products functional names?). Its largely a refresh for the sake of updating the processor and moving the connector system to the new Lightning Connector. Both worthwhile improvements, but not anything to concern us here. Still, there are more questions to be considered with the new iPad mini.

Characteristics of the iPad mini

The screen of the iPad mini offers the pixel-count of the pre-Retina iPads, in a smaller form factor. Not retina resolution, but somewhere in between the non-Retina full size iPads, and the Retina versions, by way of its decreased screen size. Many will choose to live with this enhanced, but not “Retinaed” resolution (yes, I just turned Retina into a verb) in return for the convenience of the smaller form factor and the lower price of the new mini. But what about its color characteristics for serious uses? Has Apple taken a step backwards there as well, in order to make the new mini more cost competitive in its (already populated) size range?

Earlier Testing

The answer is yes, and no. As we know from previous testing, the Retina iPad screens (and the iPhone 5 Retina screen as well) have been updated from the earlier, twisted, sub-sRGB color space of early iOS devices, to a color space very close to sRGB. The gamut plot below shows the iPad 3, with sRGB overlaid, as that order provides the clearest indication of their match.  The green primary of the iPad 3 actually exceeds sRGB by a bit, but overall this is a great match.

sRGB gamut over iPad3 gamut

We have also studied the gamut of earlier iOS devices, and seen how this gamut effects their display of web images (in sRGB) and web videos in Rec-709, which shares a number of key characteristics with sRGB. The image below is the second generation iPad, overlaid on the third generation iPad, showing the smaller and twisted gamut of the earlier screens. There is no doubt that the color accuracy of the sRGB-sized recent devices is superior to the older devices.

iPad2 gamut over iPad3 gamut

Color of the iPad mini

With that background information in mind, lets look at the gamut of the iPad mini in relation to sRGB. First, its important to note that the white point (global color tone) of the iPad mini is close to the target value of 6500K, and the gamma (ramp from black to white) is very close to the target value of Gamma 2.2. In the image below, you will recognize the earlier, sub-sRGB gamut, and twisted primaries, with the added twist of primary green, and well as primary blue, being offset sufficiently from the sRGB primaries to lie outside of sRGB, making color correction that much more difficult.

iPad mini gamut in blue, compared to sRGB in red

Conclusion

Yes, this gamut looks quite familiar, as you can see by comparing it to the previous illustrations. The iPad mini does indeed revert to the smaller, twisted shape of the earlier iOS gamut. Apple seldom takes a step backward in their relentless move forward, but here we have one example of it. So, if you were considering getting an iPad mini for use as a photo or video portfolio, please note that these color deficiencies will effect your results.

It is quite likely that in the next generation of iPad mini, Apple will move the device forward to a full sRGB gamut (and who knows, perhaps Retina resolution as well). So at this time the larger gen 3 and gen 4 iPads are the optimal iPads for display of critical color. It is possible to color calibrate the iPad mini with Datacolor’s SpyderGallery application, to produce corrected color (within the limits of the reduced gamut) in the Gallery viewer, or in other Apps if you launder your images through SpyderGallery. But for color critical uses, it may be worth holding off for a generation, to see what Apple has up its sleeve next time for the iPad mini.

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