Vimeo user Don Rob shared a wonderfully creative and joyous use of stop motion animation...
What's going on in the camera industry? Kodak is beleaguered, Nikon and Sony have been hit hard by Thai flooding, and now the (recently) former-CEO of Olympus has dropped an amazing tale of corporate misdeeds on the part of the Olympus Japan - to the tune of $670 million. $670 million that disappeared into an account in the Cayman Islands. Really.
Have you seen this? It's wild.
FT.com: Ex-Olympus boss alerts UK authorities (video)
"The E-P3 is finally the camera that the PEN has always promised to be."
I owned an E-PL2 for a day or so before I returned it and purchased a Sony NEX-5. After reading this review, I think it might be time to reexamine the Oly lineup.
I'm a fanboy when it comes to new cameras. I obsess about new lens systems and bodies, drool over every rangefinder development and generally stalk press releases around the time of CES and Photokina. All of that fervor has fairly recently been replaced by a new obsession. Not a new camera or lens, but a whole new platform for camera technology.
Lytro's light field camera is a breakthrough. It effectively eliminates the need to focus a camera and instead, provides photographers the ability to selectively refocus an image after it's been captured. The research team at Lytro describes it like this:
The light field is a core concept in imaging science, representing fundamentally more powerful data than in regular photographs. The light field fully defines how a scene appears. It is the amount of light traveling in every direction through every point in space. [...] The light field sensor captures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. This directional information is completely lost with traditional camera sensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as a single amount of light.
What Lytro has achieved is incredible. It's likely to be prohibitively expensive for the foreseeable future but no doubt will trickle into mainstream camera systems. So until then, check out these amazing examples of what can be achieved with a single snap of the shutter. Once you click around a bit you can imagine how this would be a revolution for news and sports photography - allowing a photographer the liberty of rapidly snapping a shot without worrying about focus.
Try it out. Click on the images below to see how their software allows you to change the focus of an image. Remember, this is using information captured in a single snapshot - not many images layered on top of each other.
Another interesting example that shows the power of their technology. Click on the buildings in the background to bring them into focus.
Check out more cool examples at the Lytro gallery.
I'm excited to get my hands on the Pentax Q mini interchangeable lens camera. With a 47mm equivalent f/1.9 kit lens and the promise of a wide range of Holga/Diana-like toy lenses, this might displace my Sony NEX-5 in the race for portability and expression. Check out the Ars post for more details and an awesome pic of this little guy hanging on a key chain. Seriously.
About nine months ago I downgraded from my Canon SLR to the powerful but diminutive Sony NEX-5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Since I've been using it I've been both thrilled (speed, build quality, features, picture quality) and disappointed (lens line-up, lack of physical buttons and viewfinder). The last disappointment on my list comes in the form of the manual focus performance.
I figure if you have an interchangeable lens camera then you might as well us it. Given the relative lack of interesting lenses from Sony and pretty poor aperture of most of them, I bought an old school Konica Hexanon 40mm f/1.8 and I couldn't be happier with the photos (see below). The one thing that still has me down is the process of using the manual focus lens on the NEX-5. While Sony does offer a manual focus assist mode that provides a magnified view of your subject so you can lock in sharp focus, I find that more times than not it's just too difficult to get a sharp picture. It may be related to the size of the camera, the placement of the button, the level of magnification or any number of things - in any case, it needs something better...and something better this way comes.
Sony NEX-5 with Konica Hexanon 40mm f/1.8 manual focus lens.
Today, Sony is set to release a firmware update for the NEX-5 (and NEX-3) that is derived from work on the new NEX-C3 that's due out on the market soon. While there are a few interesting updates (like real-time image effects), the real treasure of this release is it's Manual Focus Peaking Mode. If you're an aspiring amateur like me, you've probably not heard of peaking mode. I did a little hunting online to learn more and I'm really excited.
So what is peaking mode? Peaking mode is a manual focus assistance that provides you real-time (i.e. on display) feedback of what is and is not in sharp focus. In Sony's implementation, that comes in the form of a subtle red outline of the elements in the frame that are in focus. With peaking mode, one can skip the fumbling that happens when trying to get to the manual focus assist zoom magnification and simply have a look at the complete picture. Not only is it a win for framing of your scene, it's a win for speed. Manual focusing is, obviously, a slower process than automatic focus. Peaking mode should bring those two options closer together in speed and further open up the NEX system of cameras to the staggeringly large world of high quality manual focus glass that was produced well before the dawn of digital photography.
Peaking mode in action: