Leica designs new rangefinder

leica t

leica t

Leica says its new T camera system “combines pure design, handcrafted excellence, with an entirely new operating system.”

The mirror-free interchangeable lens camera is “pared-down to the essential functions,” the company says,  “with its purist design and perfect craftsmanship.” The camera body is manufactured from a single block of aluminum to “present clean lines, smooth surfaces and formal minimalism at its best.”

The Leica T has a 16-megapixel APS-C-format sensor, and is primarily operated through its 3.7-inch touchscreen interface. It also has WiFi and can be controlled with an iPhone or iPad.

Of course coming from Leica, it’s pricey for a 16MP camera: the body is $1850, and the first two lenses for the system, an 18-56mm F3.5-5.6 and a 23mm F2 prime, are $1750 and $1950. Want a viewfinder? That’ll be $595.

Lytro refocuses on higher-end photography

lytro illum

lytro illum

Imaging developer Lytro garnered lots of attention for its innovative light field photography which captures “the color, intensity and direction of every light ray flowing into the camera,” as the company puts it, “a massive amount of visual information that allows photographers to recreate sights and scenes on a truly experiential canvas.”

However, the first small camera, aimed at the mass market and priced at $399 in 2012, failed to gain popular acceptance as most decided they did not need a camera that delivered photos with less resolution than most phones, even if those photos could be refocused from foreground to background after capture.

Recently, post-capture refocus has been offered by other companies, including a free update last week from Google for its Android camera software. So clearly Lytro needed to market something else…

That something else turns out to be Illum, a “professional-grade” camera the company claims will “redefine the way we portray the world around us” and “give photographers a new medium capable of capturing visual experiences in their purest form — not as a static cross-section of reality, but an authentic, interactive window into their world.” The camera will let photographers “adjust focus, tilt, perspective shift, and depth of field,” Lytro says.

The camera has a new larger sensor, an 8x optical zoom (30mm-250mm equivalent) with a constant f/2.0 aperture, and a 1/4000 of a second shutter “capable of freezing motion under a wide variety of conditions.” There’s also a 4-inch articulating touchscreen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, GPS, and WiFi. It will ship in July for $1,599.


Blurb offers offset printing, Amazon distribution for custom photo books

blurb books

blurb books

Indie book publishing platform Blurb says its “easier, smarter book design and distribution service” includes direct distribution to Amazon, whose “reach, recognition, and search rankings will help Blurb authors reach a wide audience, especially with specific and niche content.”

Also, Blurb’s new BookWright software lets you “design and publish print and ebooks from the same file, at the same time, all in one place,” the company claims. “It’s the only free software tool that does this.” The color soft proofing “allows customers to see on their monitor how their printed book will look, on the specific paper they have chosen.”

Late last month the company announced more affordable offset printing, offering those publishing larger numbers of books greater profits at lower costs.

Blurb’s original business model “supports a minimum of one copy per title.” The new offering “expands Blurb’s position as the leading platform for self publishers to create and sell beautiful illustrated books,” the company says. “The number one request from self publishers is to increase profits from book sales, while businesses want to reduce book costs so the project comes in within budget. Our new offset print capability can reduce unit costs by as much as 40 percent or more over single copy print on demand.” Offset runs begin at 750 units or more with print locations in Hong Kong, the US, and Europe.

Blurb, founded in 2005, says it’s so far seen more than 1.1 million self-publishers produce 2.8 million unique titles.


Google gets blurry

google blur 2

google blur 2

Lens blur, that is. Bokeh has become the accepted term for artfully-applied blurry backgrounds. While much sought-after in some circles, it requires skillful manipulation of shallow depth of field to achieve the effect in-camera, or plenty of time to simulate the look in post-capture image editing with Photoshop or a similar tool.

Now Google is offering a free computational photography process for quickly and easily getting the same appearance — albeit only in the latest version of the camera app for its Android smartphones.

The Lens Blur tool in the new Google Camera app “lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo is taken,” Google says. “You can choose to make any object come into focus simply by tapping on it in the image. By changing the depth-of-field slider, you can simulate different aperture sizes, to achieve bokeh effects ranging from subtle to surreal (such as tilt-shift). The new image is rendered instantly, allowing you to see your changes in real time.”

google blur 1

The Lens Blur effect “replaces the need for a large optical system with algorithms that simulate a larger lens and aperture,” Google adds. “Instead of capturing a single photo, you move the camera in an upward sweep to capture a whole series of frames. From these photos, Lens Blur uses computer vision algorithms to create a 3D model of the world, estimating the depth (distance) to every point in the scene.”

You can read the full post from Google’s imaging engineers here.


New Eyefi Cloud makes digital camera images instantly available on any device


eyefiEyeFi has made another new stride in connectivity with Eyefi Cloud, a private, photo-centric cloud service that makes newly captured photos instantly available on a smartphone, tablet, PC or smart TV. Eyefi Cloud was designed for photo enthusiasts who want to shoot with a digital camera, but are frustrated with the time-consuming processes required to enjoy their photos on multiple devices. The company says their new Eyefi Cloud service, along with the Eyefi Mobi wireless SD card and Eyefi Mobi apps, makes every picture taken organized and instantly accessible, anytime, anywhere—to enjoy, curate and share securely and privately.

Discover more here.

RFID tags trigger photo capture — on a Zipline



Here’s a cool use of new technology to boost revenues from photography services: Radio Frequency IDs are low-power devices that emit identification signals. A new system at a Hawaiian zipline park uses RFID technology to trigger image capture and also assign the shot to an individual guest.


The Snapsportz system automatically sorts images, and retrieves each guest’s photos on demand. At interactive kiosks, guests order prints or digital copies, upload one or all images to a USB drive, or post images to their Facebook page.

“The current system is working extremely well and, with negligible additional cost, has more than doubled revenue for our entire zip line operation,” says the zipline facility, Princeville Ranch Adventures. “By ensuring high-quality image capture for our guests and making it effortless for them to find and share their images, we help ensure they get the most out of their zipline experience. And, because approximately 85 percent of guests choose digital versions of their images that lead to great reviews on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Instagram and other sites, it paints a picture of fun for our guests that also promotes our business.”

Color management and calibration bundled


spyderhd-product-018-310wSpyderHD is an integrated color management tools for imaging professionals seeking an all-in-one solution, says Datacolor.

Designed to color manage photo and video workflows from scene, to camera, editing, and final output, it includes the color sensor device, a display calibration application with functions for computer displays, video reference displays, and TVs, and a universal mounting system that securely mounts the device on screens up to 70 inches. The package is $349.

More information is here.


Flying camera improved

drone camera


drone camera

Camera-equipped quadcopters let you capture stills and video from previously unreachable heights — and the technology is still in its infancy. The latest model from DJI boosts image stabilization, has longer WiFi range, and flies twice as fast: it can now even shoot in 25 mile-per-hour winds.


The Phantom 2 Vision+ drone comes with a 14-megapixel camera that captures 1080p video, with new three-axis image stabilization that corrects pitch, roll, and yaw, for smoother video.


With an app and mobile device, the planes 700-foot range WiFi will show you what its aerial camera is capturing as it happens, as well as altitude, the plane’s distance from you, and its battery strength (a charge is good for 25 minutes). The drone also has GPS.


The Phantom 2 Vision+ drone is $1,299. 




Ricoh debuts faster low-cost medium-format camera

pentax medium format

pentax medium format

Of course, “low-cost” is a relative term when it comes to a medium-format camera and the larger sensor it requires, but Ricoh Imaging’s newest SLR will be “only” $8,500 — a category-low, the company says.

The Pentax 645Z SLR features a 51-megapixel sensor, with a 43.8mm x 32.8mm imaging area that is approximately 1.7 times larger than that of a 35mm full-size sensor. It captures three frames per second, as well as full HD video.

“It is not often that a camera can be referred to as a game-changer,” Ricoh says, “one that can provide photographers with the tools that not only enrich their craft but are capable of producing images so distinct they are easily set apart from the competition… thus altering the landscape of professional photography… The Pentax 645Z assures super-high-resolution images with a stunningly realistic sense of depth combined with vivid colors and rich shadow detail. The resulting images feature a uniquely distinct look and an unmistakable brilliance that clearly differentiate professional photographers to their clients.”

The camera has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second, a top ISO of 204,800, and a 3-inch articulated LCD. The magnesium alloy frame and  a die cast aluminum chassis have 76 weather-seals “for a cold-resistant, weather-resistant and dustproof shooting experience.”

 The Imaging Resource has a detailed look at the camera here.

reShoot: easier editing of iPhone video

reshoot S

reshootWhen making a video on an iPhone, “there’s no easy way to correct a mistake without having editing skills, say the developers of reShoot, which lets you rewind and re-shoot unwanted portions of video without resulting in multiple clips that you would have to piece together.

“reShoot enables almost anyone to be a film producer without requiring editing skills,” Wally World Media says. Its free app for iPhone and iPad lets you “add new footage to existing video recordings… Instead of capturing dozens of clips, it provides a single video stream or montage.”

There’s an explanatory video here.

The app is here.