Soviet camera company Zenit is reborn!

Soviet camera company Zenit is reborn!
If you’re familiar with 20th century Soviet camera clones you’ll probably be familiar with Zenit. Created by Krasnogorsky Zavod, the Nikon/Leica clones were a fan favorite behind the Iron Curtain and, like the Lomo, was a beloved brand that just doesn’t get its due. The firm stopped making cameras in 2005 but in its long history it defined Eastern European photography for decades and introduced the rifle-like Photo Sniper camera looked like something out of James Bond.
Now, thanks to a partnership with Leica, Zenit is back and is here to remind you that in Mother Russia, picture takes you.
The camera is based on the Leica M Type 240 platform but has been modified to look and act like an old Zenit. It comes with a Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens that is completely Russian-made. You can use it for bokeh and soft-focus effects without digital processing.
The Leica M platform offers a 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD screen, HD video recording, live view focusing, a 0.68x viewfinder, ISO 6400, and 3fps continuous shooting. It will be available this year in the US, Europe, and Russia.
How much does the privilege of returning to the past cost? An estimated $5,900-$7,000 if previous incarnations of the Leica M are any indication. I have a few old film Zenits lying around the house, however. I wonder I can stick in some digital guts and create the ultimate Franken-Zenit?

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

See the new iPhone’s ‘focus pixels’ up close

See the new iPhone’s ‘focus pixels’ up close
The new iPhones have excellent cameras, to be sure. But it’s always good to verify Apple’s breathless onstage claims with first-hand reports. We have our own review of the phones and their photography systems, but teardowns provide the invaluable service of letting you see the biggest changes with your own eyes — augmented, of course, by a high-powered microscope.
We’ve already seen iFixit’s solid-as-always disassembly of the phone, but TechInsights gets a lot closer to the device’s components — including the improved camera of the iPhone XS and XS Max.
Although the optics of the new camera are as far as we can tell unchanged since the X, the sensor is a new one and is worth looking closely at.
Microphotography of the sensor die show that Apple’s claims are borne out and then some. The sensor size has increased from 32.8mm2 to 40.6mm2 — a huge difference despite the small units. Every tiny bit counts at this scale. (For comparison, the Galaxy S9 is 45mm2, and the soon-to-be-replaced Pixel 2 is 25mm2.)

The pixels themselves also, as advertised, grew from 1.22 microns (micrometers) across to 1.4 microns — which should help with image quality across the board. But there’s an interesting, subtler development that has continually but quietly changed ever since its introduction: the “focus pixels.”
That’s Apple’s brand name for phase detection autofocus (PDAF) points, found in plenty of other devices. The basic idea is that you mask off half a sub-pixel every once in a while (which I guess makes it a sub-sub-pixel), and by observing how light enters these half-covered detectors you can tell whether something is in focus or not.
Of course, you need a bunch of them to sense the image patterns with high fidelity, but you have to strike a balance: losing half a pixel may not sound like much, but if you do it a million times, that’s half a megapixel effectively down the drain. Wondering why all the PDAF points are green? Many camera sensors use an “RGBG” sub-pixel pattern, meaning there are two green sub-pixels for each red and blue one — it’s complicated why. But there are twice as many green sub-pixels and therefore the green channel is more robust to losing a bit of information.Apple introduced PDAF in the iPhone 6, but as you can see in TechInsights’ great diagram, the points are pretty scarce. There’s one for maybe every 64 sub-pixels, and not only that, they’re all masked off in the same orientation: either the left or right half gone.
The 6S and 7 Pluses saw the number double to one PDAF point per 32 sub-pixels. And in the 8 Plus, the number is improved to one per 20 — but there’s another addition: now the phase detection masks are on the tops and bottoms of the sub-pixels as well. As you can imagine, doing phase detection in multiple directions is a more sophisticated proposal, but it could also significantly improve the accuracy of the process. Autofocus systems all have their weaknesses, and this may have addressed one Apple regretted in earlier iterations.
Which brings us to the XS (and Max, of course), in which the PDAF points are now one per 16 sub-pixels, having increased the frequency of the vertical phase detection points so that they’re equal in number to the horizontal one. Clearly the experiment paid off and any consequent light loss has been mitigated or accounted for.
I’m curious how the sub-pixel patterns of Samsung, Huawei and Google phones compare, and I’m looking into it. But I wanted to highlight this interesting little evolution. It’s an interesting example of the kind of changes that are hard to understand when explained in simple number form — we’ve doubled this, or there are a million more of that — but which make sense when you see them in physical form.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Big cameras and big rivalries take center stage at Photokina

Big cameras and big rivalries take center stage at Photokina
Photokina is underway in London and the theme of the show is “large.” Unusually for an industry that is trending towards the compact, the cameras on stage at this show sport big sensors, big lenses, and big price tags. But though they may not be for the average shooter, these cameras are impressive pieces of hardware that hint at things to come for the industry as a whole.
The most exciting announcement is perhaps that from Panasonic, which surprised everyone with the S1 and S1R, a pair of not-quite-final full frame cameras that aim to steal a bit of the thunder from Canon and Nikon’s entries into the mirrorless full frame world.
Panasonic’s cameras have generally had impressive video performance, and these are no exception. They’ll shoot 4K at 60 FPS, which in a compact body like that shown is going to be extremely valuable to videographers. Meanwhile the S1R, with 47 megapixels to the S1’s 24, will be optimized for stills. Both will have dual card slots (which Canon and Nikon declined to add to their newest gear), weather sealing, and in-body image stabilization.

Nikon embraces a mirrorless future with Z series cameras and lenses

The timing and inclusion of so many desired features indicates either that Panasonic was clued in to what photographers wanted all along, or they waited for the other guys to move and then promised the things their competitors wouldn’t or couldn’t. Whatever the case, the S1 and S1R are sure to make a splash, whatever their prices.
Panasonic was also part of an announcement that may have larger long-term implications: a lens mount collaboration with Leica and Sigma aimed at maximum flexibility for the emerging mirrorless full-frame and medium format market. L-mount lenses will work on any of the group’s devices (including the S1 and S1R) and should help promote usage across the board.
Leica, for its part, announced the S3, a new version of its medium format S series that switches over to the L-mount system as well as bumping a few specs. No price yet but if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.
Sigma had no camera to show, but announced it would be taking its Foveon sensor tech to full frame and that upcoming bodies would be using the L mount as well.
This Fuji looks small here, but it’s no lightweight. It’s only small in comparison to previous medium format cameras.
Fujifilm made its own push on the medium format front with the new GFX 50R, which sticks a larger than full frame (but smaller than “traditional” medium format) sensor inside an impressively small body. That’s not to say it’s insubstantial: Fuji’s cameras are generally quite hefty, and the 50R is no exception, but it’s much smaller and lighter than its predecessor and, surprisingly, costs $2,000 less at $4,499 for the body.
The theme, as you can see, is big and expensive. But the subtext is that these cameras are not only capable of extraordinary imagery, but they don’t have to be enormous to do it. This combination of versatility with portability is one of the strengths of the latest generation of cameras, and clearly Fuji, Panasonic and Leica are eager to show that it extends to the pro-level, multi-thousand dollar bodies as well as the consumer and enthusiast lineup.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Canon and Nikon are reportedly both planning full-frame mirrorless cameras this year

Canon and Nikon are reportedly both planning full-frame mirrorless cameras this year
It’s going to be an exciting year for photographers — finally — as both Canon and Nikon are reportedly planning full-frame mirrorless cameras for debut before the end of 2018. It’s good news for consumers, because it means that both companies have been investing heavily in the next phase of digital photography, and that competition in the mirrorless world is about to heat up.
Photography is a difficult space right now because smartphones have been eating up the low-end and increasingly the mid-range market. Point-and-shoots are effectively extinct, and DSLRs are reserved for serious shooters — though those occupying the middle ground, such as Fujifilm with its lively X series and Olympus with its PENs and OM-Ds, have been prospering modestly.
Mirrorless cameras, which basically do away with the bulky mechanical bits of a single-lens reflex camera but have virtually no drawbacks from their absence, allow for a more compact camera that still seriously outperforms phones.

WTF is a mirrorless camera?

They seem quite clearly to be a big part of the future of photography, which is why every company has been investing heavily into the technology. Early results weren’t great, and it was clear that Canon and Nikon in particular have had their priorities divided: DSLR sales have been dropping, but flagship full-frame (that is, with sensors the size of 35mm film) DSLRs still represented the best of the camera world, embraced especially by professionals.
But inroads have been made, especially by Sony and Fujifilm, into even that professional space. The Alpha and X-Pro series have shown that mirrorless cameras can perform at least as well as DSLRs, and boy are they easier to carry around.
So, faced with either innovating and cannibalizing their own sales, or allowing competitors to eat their lunch, Canon and Nikon have chosen to do the former… after a couple of years of the latter, anyway. We’ve seen the early results from Canon in the form of the mid-range M50, but it seems Nikon has kept theirs under wraps.
Canon Rumors and Nikon Rumors report that the companies both plan to sell full-frame mirrorless cameras by the end of the year — in Nikon’s case maybe even by the end of the month.
Going full-frame means several things:

They believe their mirrorless systems are good enough to compete with SLRs at a professional level
They believe professionals are ready to make the transition to mirrorless
They are ready to do so themselves, cannibalizing and eventually winding down SLR sales

That last point is likely the scariest for them. These are companies that have been making SLR cameras for the better part of a century — it’s not just part of their core competency but key to their identity as camera makers. This is essentially a point of no return for them. Sure, SLRs will stick around for a while longer, but sooner or later the burden of improving and manufacturing them as sales decline and mirrorless systems take over will prove too much.
What about the cameras themselves? There are supposedly two from each company. Nikon’s have lots of rumored details, the most important of which are that there will be one high and one low megapixel model, in-body stabilization (allows for smaller lenses), a new lens mount and naturally an electronic viewfinder. Less is known (or rumored anyhow) about the Canons, but they will likely share many of these characteristics.
Don’t expect a lower cost to accompany this shift. These cameras will likely cost in the $2,500-$4,000 range, just like the SLRs they’re replacing.
This is also a chance to really go to town on the features and shooting experience; both companies need to make a big impression, not just with the customers they’ve lost to rival systems but to their own loyal shooters. So there may be other major changes, such as to the interface, layout and so on. Expect lots of digital integration like wireless tethering as well — better than the junk they’ve been foisting on us for the last few years.
Will this reverse the tide of smartphones taking over the photography world? No, but it’s heartening to see these rather inertia-bound companies finally embrace the future. I love SLRs, and I plan to shoot on them forever in one way or another, but as an occasional serious photographer I’ll be glad to give these new systems a try.
I’ve asked both companies about the rumors, but I doubt they’ll comment. On the other hand, if the rumors are true, we won’t have long to wait before they turn into facts.

Source: Gadgets – techcrunch

Photomyne raises $5 million for its A.I.-powered photo scanning app

Photomyne raises million for its A.I.-powered photo scanning app

Tel Aviv-based Photomyne, an A.I.-powered app that helps you bring your old photo prints online, has been benefitting from the subscription app boom to the tune of $5 million in Series A funding. Today, the app is used by a million people every month, and 250,000 people pay the $20 annual subscription for the expanded service. This adds a handful of additional features, including the option to build a family website where all your photos are uploaded immediately after being scanned.

There is something of a limited lifetime for apps that convert physical media to digital – at some point, everyone who wants to transition their old media to the web will have done so. Another issue is that some people will make scanning photos a one-time project. They’ll then save all their photos to their own device and cloud storage, and cancel their subscription.

And as those users drop off, physical media will continue to die out.

For those reasons, Photomyne will eventually need to expand into other areas – perhaps scanning other things beyond photos. As it has a couple of patents for things like scanning business cards, documents, and sticky notes, it’s clearly thinking about this, too.

But in the meantime, there’s still an audience of self-appointed family historians, who are making old photos available to their extended families, as well as older folks who grew up in the pre-smartphone era and now want to bring their memories online, too.

By leveraging A.I. technology which runs locally, in real-time, on mobile devices, Photomyne is able to speed up the fairly tedious process of photo scanning using a handheld device. That is, instead of having to focus on one photo – as with Google’s PhotoScan, for example – Photomyne lets you scan multiple photos in a single shot as you flip through the pages of old albums.

It then breaks those up into individual photos by auto-detecting the boundaries.

It also auto-rotates sideways photos, crops the photos, corrects the photo perspective, and saves them in a digital album where you can further filter them, share, or – with the subscription – save locally, backup to the cloud, sync to other devices, or publish to a family website.

The ability to scan more photos in one shot makes the app appealing to those who want to upload their entire collection of old photos to the web, instead of picking and choosing specific photos to import.

In addition, the app’s A.I.-based technology improves over time the more you use it, says Photomyne’s co-founder and CFO Yair Segalovitz.

And soon, the company plans to roll out other advanced features, too, he notes.

“We are focused on a new set of exciting features that we expect to release in the very near future. We intend to offer automatic color correction – such as fixing color decay – and the ability to search interesting photos in our 70 million-plus photo archive,” says Segalovitz.

To date, Photomyne has been downloaded 7 million times and is largely used in the U.S. and in Western Europe, though it’s starting to see growth in China, too.

The Series A round was led by Luxembourg-based Maor, a co-investment tech fund from Philippe Guez and Eric Elalouf. It also included participation from Israeli investors and others from its seed round a couple of years ago. 

With the new funding, the company plans to expand its team of 16 to around 25 and scale the business in Japan and South East Asia, in particular.

Photomyne is a free download on iOS and Android, but the full range of feature is only available to subscribers.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch