Canon cuts forecast, debuts two long-zoom models

Canon PowerShot SX400

Canon PowerShot SX400

The latest compact from Canon zooms 42x with optical image stabilization.
The PowerShot SX520 HS’s Zoom Framing Assist feature “intelligently controls the lens,” Canon says, “making it easy to locate the main subject by zooming out, and then zooming back in quickly and automatically for dramatic close-ups with face detection where applicable.” The $400 camera has a16-megapixel sensor and captures 1080p video — and its Hybrid Auto mode “creates a beautifully stabilized HD video clip (up to approximately four seconds) every time a user shoots a still image, then compiles the clips into a single movie that forms a “highlighted reel” for the day.”

Canon also debuted the PowerShot SX400 IS, with a 30x zoom, for $250.

“Our goal is to provide people who are passionate about photography with the imaging tools they need to capture the moments that inspire them,” the company says.


Meanwhile, the company lowered its full-year sales forecast citing slowing demand for standalone cameras.

Sales are projected to be $37 billion for the current fiscal year, Bloomberg reports, a 2.1 percent cut from the previous forecast. “Smartphones packed with advanced sensors and lenses are winning customers and cutting demand for cheaper compact cameras,” the report notes. “Canon sold 2.3 million compact cameras in the second quarter, a 36 percent decrease from a year earlier. Sales of the company’s single-lens reflex cameras dropped to 1.7 million from 2.1 million. Industry-wide, digital camera shipments declined about 35 percent from a year earlier in the first five months of 2014, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association.”


“Action camera” sales climbing

gopro hd cam

gopro hd camWhile the term implies that the rest of don’t get off the couch to take a photo, “action cam” is both a popular phrase and growing product category.

Market researchers at Futuresource Consulting report the Action Camera market will reach 9 million units in 2018. Also, “GoPro continues to maintain its position as the dominant market leader, despite a growing number of vendors vying for market share,” the survey finds.

“Worldwide demand for action cameras reached almost 5 million units in 2013,” the company adds, “which represented annual growth of 47 percent.”

Why the growth? “The relative importance of outdoor pursuits,” the analysts say, as well as “propensity to spend on emerging CE categories, and the use of social media are some of the main drivers of demand for action cameras.”

In 2013, Future Consulting adds, the majority of sales were for consumer applications, such as sports enthusiasts. The remainder was for professional applications, predominantly TV production.

A 20-page report provides an assessment of the market, forecasts to 2018, profiles the key regions, and reviews the latest developments in the competitive landscape, retail distribution, and product features.


Surveillance cameras in the home: Google subsidiary Nest acquiring Dropcam



Dropcam lets you check in on your home, no matter where you are in the world. But that’s not the only reason we’re excited about adding them to the Nest family. Our companies actually have a lot in common.”

That’s the word from Nest, which gathered plenty of acclaim for its smart connected thermostat — so much so that Google acquired the startup for more than $3 billion. Now the subsidiary returns the favor by buying Dropcam, maker of in-home WiFi-connected cameras — although for $555 million.

“Although this was a big decision for us, it wasn’t a difficult one to make,” says Nest founder Matt Rogers in a blog post. “Before deciding to extend an offer to Dropcam, we spent a lot of time looking at camera companies and technologies around the world. And I can say without a doubt, Dropcam has the best products, services, and customer experience in the business.”

What’s next? “The plan is for us to work together to reinvent products that will help shape the future of the conscious home and bring our shared vision to more and more people around the world,” Rogers continues. “For now though, not much will change. Dropcam products will still be sold online and in stores. And Dropcam customers will still continue to use their Dropcam accounts.”

As for fears this means Google will be watching you in your home, Rogers says “Like Nest customer data, Dropcam will come under Nest’s privacy policy, which explains that data won’t be shared with anyone (including Google) without a customer’s permission. Nest has a paid-for business model and ads are not part of our strategy. In acquiring Dropcam, we’ll apply that same policy to Dropcam too.”

Dropcam was founded in 2009, with products we “literally built ourselves,” writes co-founder Greg Duffy. “Nest and Dropcam are kindred spirits. Both were born out of frustration with outdated, complicated products that do the opposite of making life better.”



Not just squares: Creative tools on Instagram

instagram tools 2

instagram tools 2

Online image sharing service Instagram first gained fame for its filters (and its square crop). Now the company is part of Facebook, but keeps adding new capabilities — this time aimed at more creative users.

“We’re delighted to bring you a set of new creative tools on Instagram with the ability to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth and more,” the company says. “Inspiring creativity is incredibly important to us—and as the Instagram community grows, we’ve been excited to hear requests for more ways to creatively take hold of how your photos look and feel.”

Adjustment slider tool include brightness, highlights, shadows, and saturation. Users can also now adjust how strongly a filter is applied to a photo.

“You take a photo to capture a moment, but often what you see in the photograph doesn’t feel the same as what you remember,” Instagram adds. “From brightening up a photo of your dinner party to better capturing the warmth of a sunset portrait, these new creative tools help you bring out and share the beauty of the moment as you remember it.”

It’s a free update available now on iOS and Android.

There’s also more information here at PetaPixel and here at TechCrunch.

instagram stats

19th century photography superior to smartphones?

19th century slefie

19th century slefie

As with any headline ending with a question mark, the answer is “No” — but Shutterstock posts an amusing contrast and compare between how photographs were taken way-back-when and today.

“Gone are the days of hefty wooden cameras, painfully long exposures, and noxious darkroom chemicals,” the stock image service says on its blog. Now that so many people carry around devices that can take thousands of pictures and transmit them anywhere instantly, has the medium lost its significance? Was photography back then perhaps more special, or more joyful? Is humanity really better off with so much instant gratification? Let’s consider a dozen ways in which the clunky photography of the 19th Century was better than that of the modern smartphone you used to photograph your lunch.”

Read up on the 12 Reason old-timers had it better here.


Smile for the NSA

Log security cam

Log security camTake a selfie for surveillance? That’s what we all do, the New York Times reports: upload multiple photos of our faces, in which we even identify ourselves — and so provide intelligence gatherers with everything they need to find us at anytime.

“The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents,” the Times reports. “The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal… The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential.”

The full story is here.


3,600 cams: Largest 360-degree camera deployment in mass transit history

sentry camera

sentry camera

Surveillance camera manufacturer Sentry360 announced the largest 360-degree surveillance camera system in mass transit history: The Chicago Transit Authority, the nation’s second largest public transportation system. The final project included 3600 Sentry360 cameras on nearly 900 rail cars. On an average weekday, approximately 1.7 million rides are taken on the CTA.

“This project sets a new standard in public transportation video surveillance,” the company says. “Our solution will be examined and modeled in mass transit systems all around the world.”

In 2010, Sentry360 cameras were implemented under a CTA pilot program, funded by a Department of Homeland Security grant, to retrofit the existing rail car fleet with an on-board video surveillance system.


As the cameras would be exposed to harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme heat/cold, humidity, and vibration, as well as unregulated electrical power sourced from the 600VDC third rail, the pilot program focused on the effect of these dynamics relative to the video technology, Sentry360 says. “With over 800 potential rail cars to retrofit on a full-scale, the CTA needed a technology solution that was not only environmentally robust but also maximized the field of view with minimal cameras per car, supported by an open-standards IP architecture that allowed for integration with other systems.”

Traditional video surveillance cameras have an inherent flaw ─blind spots. Simply put, if a camera was pointed left and an incident occurred on the right, the camera was useless, the company adds. To achieve full coverage within a CTA rail car, up to six legacy-fixed field-of-view cameras would be required, resulting in six video streams to be recorded. During the extensive multi-year evaluation, Sentry360’s solution matched that coverage with no blind-spots, using only two Sentry360 FullSight 360-degree fisheye Ultra-HD cameras per rail car, “each with an all-seeing eye, delivering full coverage in every rail car,” substantially reducing the bandwidth for recording and streaming to two video streams while retaining all virtual pan/tilt/zoom functionality for both live and post-recorded video.

The success of the pilot enabled CTA to retrofit the Sentry360 solution to the remainder of the fleet. The unintended efficiency of the design allowed the CTA to add two additional 360° cameras per car, one within the railcar to provide redundancy for the initial two-camera solution and one outward facing camera to view the right-of-way as the train travels. Elimination of fixed field-of-view cameras inherently created extra recording capacity within the video surveillance system to allow the additional cameras while staying under budget.

More information is here.


Instagram images work for Ads

Instagram_logo small

Instagram_logo smallInstagram photos can make more effective advertising than studio shots and stock photos, reports Advertising Age, according to analysis by social media agency Laundry Service.

The company measured the performance of its campaigns using “organic” Instagram-style photos — defined as a non-glossy pictures shot outside of a studio — and found that they performed far better than their traditional-looking counterparts.

Using regular photos, the company saw a 2.35% click-through rate. With Instagram-style shots, that increased to as high as 8%.

The full story is here.


Yosemite bans drone cameras

drone camera


While we call ’em drones, they are really flying remote-controlled cameras: enthusiast use unmanned air vehicles to carry their cameras aloft and capture views and compositions unavailable from the ground. Some of the best of those shots have been taken in the landmark Yosemite National Park — but those futuristic imaging opportunities may already be a thing of the past, as the National Park Service has prohibited use of drones in Yosemite.

“Yosemite National Park advises visitors that the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) are prohibited within park boundaries,” the NPS bulletin says. “The use of drones within the park boundaries is illegal under all circumstances… This applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.”

NPS adds that Yosemite has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years. “Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park.”

Why the ban? Not so much safety, which would have been my first guess as mini-copters are in effect flying blades, and so can injure anyone they impact in a crowded environment. No, NPS says it’s because “drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel… Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls.”

What do you think? Is this the first of many bans? Should their be more such restrictions? After all, who wants every peaceful moment outside interrupted by a buzzing remote controlled helicopter with a camera aimed at you?


USA Today and Scoopshot: High-school photography turns to crowdsourcing

usa todau hs sports

usa todau hs sports

USA Today High School Sports, a provider of high school sports news, says it’s entered into a strategic partnership with photo crowdsourcing service Scoopshot to provide photo and video coverage for up to 18,000 high schools across the country.

Scoopshot provides software with which to shoot and upload still and video images into a central, authenticated database, and provides payment to each contributor each time their images are used. Scoopshot says it offers access to nearly 500,000 mobile photographers in 177 countries around the world, and its service is used by more than 70 global media outlets.

“This partnership will help provide us with a potentially unprecedented amount of visual content at scale for our coverage of high school sports around the country,” USA Today’s Sports Media Group says. The High School Sports group “will work with its network of more than 7,500 school athletic directors to introduce the Scoopshot partnership to their respective school journalism curriculums to enable high school students to not only learn new, rapidly changing media techniques, but to also allow them to get real newsgathering experience.”