One Small Modification Allows This Lens to Create ‘Magic Bokeh’

One Small Modification Allows This Lens to Create ‘Magic Bokeh’

After flipping a single lens element, this Iranian photographer was able to capture the most stunning and unique bokeh.

For filmmakers, bokeh is probably the richest, most decadent type of sweet cinematic treat, but the bokeh that Iranian photographer Alireza Rostami was able to capture with a specially modified vintage lens has taken visual confectionery to a whole new level. How did he manage to pull it off? By reversing one single optical element of a $70 Zenit MC Zenitar 50mm f/2 lens. The bokeh that came out after mounting the lens to his Canon 6D (outfitted with an MFT-to-EF mount adapter) will certainly take your breath away.​

You can view these images and the rest in the series on Rostami’s Instagram account.

Rostami explains to PetaPixel where his interest in optics and lens technology originated.

I am a researcher in the field of photography lenses from Iran, and my country doesn’t have the technology for manufacturing cameras and lenses. I’m motivated to research and discover this technology, so I began studying and collecting information about the history of photographic lenses and, consequently, the use of reverse engineering for camera and lens autopsy.

If you’re interested in seeing how Rostami modified the lens, which I’m assuming all of you are, then check out the video below, in which he goes through his process step by step.

Taking apart a lens and adjusting its elements is definitely an undertaking one needs to have some knowledge of and experience with if they want to be successful. But keep in mind, if you have a desire to learn more about how your lenses’ optics work or just want to try this modification out for yourself, the lens Rostami uses is just $70 (I saw it for as low as $40 on eBay), so it’s not going to be a huge loss if you fudge it all up. I say it’s worth a try!

5 Things You Should and Shouldn’t Do When Shooting Slow Motion

If you want to shoot better slow motion footage, you might want to consider these dos and don’ts.

When’s the last time you watched a film or video that didn’t have at least a few seconds of slow motion footage? It’s probably been a while (or never), right? Its ubiquity is partly due to how it can instantly give shots a lot of style without much effort, but despite the relative ease of capturing slow-mo, it’s actually even easier to fudge it up. In this video from Filmora, learn about five dos and don’ts of slow motion filmmaking that will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes.

The first thing new filmmakers learn about slow motion filmmaking usually relates to frame rate: the higher your frame rate, the slower your footage will be. So, they go out, set their frame rate to 60 or 120 (or higher), and are surprised when they find lots of issues with their footage, like underexposure and flickering. These issues are both incredibly common and incredibly avoidable if you know a few things about slow motion. Here are the tips mentioned in the video:

  • Adjust your shutter speed: Want to avoid weird artifacts and that weird ghosting effect you get when you shoot slow-mo? Then you’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is twice the inverse of your frame rate. So, if you’re shooting at 60 fps, set your shutter speed at 1/120 (or whatever’s closest), and if you’re shooting at 120 fps, set your shutter speed aaaatttt…1/140 (or whatever’s closest). That’s right!
  • Use enough light:  Now that your shutter speed is a lot faster, less light is going to hit your camera sensor. This means darker images. In order to ensure you can get a proper exposure, make sure you provide enough light for your scene.
  • Be aware of flickering: Okay, you’ve got some lights to properly expose, but…what kinds of lights do you have? Some will appear to “flicker” in playback, a phenomenon known as banding, but there are plenty of flicker-free light sources out there that you can use, or you can calculate your light source’s pulse frequency and camera settings to make sure you won’t produce that ugly strobe effect.
  • Overcranking: When it comes to slow motion, the slower the footage the better, right? Well, not always. Each frame rate setting produces its own unique look, from 24 fps to 1000 fps and beyond. Even if your camera can capture 240 fps, it may 1.) have a lower resolution, and 2.) have an aesthetic that doesn’t work as well as, say, 120 fps does for your project.
  • Overusing slow-mo: Everybody and their judgy Aunt Debbie loves slow-mo, but just like judgy Aunt Debbie, slow-mo is best when it makes an appearance occasionally. If you think you might be overusing it, ask yourself why you think the shot should be in slow-mo, what effect it’ll have on your audience, and whether or not it’s necessary to the story.
  • Use a stabilizer: Slow motion is a great way to hide unsteady footage, but if you did your due diligence and used a stabilizer, not only are you an overachiever but your footage is going to look milky silky smooth.
  • Use music: Footage captured in slow motion either doesn’t record audio or records distorted and unusable audio. So, be prepared to have some sweet tracks on deck to fill the silence.
  • Testing: Before you go out and actually capture your slow motion shots, you might want to do a few tests first. Make sure your lighting is sufficient, that there isn’t any banding, and, of course, that your focus is on point.
  • Speed ramping: To add a little flair to your edit, you can try a *cough* tragically overused *cough* editing technique called “speed ramping,” in which the speed of your footage changes between different frame rates. Typically, editors will have a clip play at 24 fps and then slow it down to 120 or 240 fps during a big moment, like somebody pulling off a sweet kickflip or something. (Peter McKinnon has a great tutorial on how to pull off speed ramping.)
  • Break the rules: You’re the boss of your own life and if you want to throw away all of these tips and try new things and be a friggin’ rockstar, then you do it, my love! Please experiment with slow-mo and discover stuff so the rest of us can play around with a cool new effect.

HDR Vs. Flash For Interiors And Real Estate Photography

I know that many of our readers are real estate photographers or have at least tried their hand at real estate photography. The most common method used to create ‘good enough’ real estate photos is HDR: whether it is tonemapping or exposure fusion, HDR is definitely the most-used method for real estate and beginner interior photographers. In this post, I’ll do a comparison between tonemapping, exposure fusion, single on-camera flash, and multiple off-camera flash, and show you the benefits (or disadvantages, rather) of each.

I’ve been shooting and writing about architecture, interiors, real estate, and generally everything that needs to look pretty but cannot be moved for awhile now, and it seems every time I post an article related to my field(s), there are plenty of comments debating the use of HDR and the use of flash in the comments. Flash users insult HDR users, HDR users insult flash users, everyone cuts a knee open, and everyone goes home disappointed. It is as dependable as the sun rising and setting – I honestly cannot remember any time when it hasn’t happened.

So on a recent shoot, I was presented with a perfect scene to demonstrate the differences between methods, and (here’s the important part) remembered to shoot it with this article in mind. I bracketed for HDR, shot for the highlights, the shadows, shot with flashes, shot with flashes again, and then moved the flashes around and shot again, just because I wanted to leave no stone unturned.

So let’s get to it, shall we? I know this is real edge-of-your-seat entertainment, so hold on tight.

The Scene

Let’s get a feel for what we’ll be working with. I was recently contacted to shoot this neat apartment in Westwood, Los Angeles, CA for a client of mine. Now here’s the fun part: I had an hour to create 10 images. That hour included unloading a huge Pelican case, scouting it, chit-chatting with the client to exchange ideas, and shooting it. I managed to finish early which allowed me to set up my little test and spend ten or so minutes on just this scene.

Here is a single exposure of the scene as my camera sees it. I dropped it on a tripod, spun the dials until the exposure meter was centered, and clicked off a frame. This is what resulted:

It’s about 2pm and sunlight is streaming in those floor-to-ceiling windows like crazy. No camera would be able to capture the deepest darks of that couch and the brightest brights of the exterior in one image in these shooting conditions. I’d bet my business on it.

If you’re familiar with the LA, or any other high-end real estate market, you’re well aware that the view here probably cost multiple millions of dollars, and letting it blow out isn’t going to make anyone very pleased with the photos. So we’ll need to make sure that we expose both the darkest darks and the brightest brights properly. Sure, we can just expose for the windows, but we’ll get something that looks like this:

And for obvious reasons, we can’t deliver that, either. We can expose for the interior:

Which might be deliverable depending on the circumstances, but really, it’s quite far from anything that I would even consider delivering. This would at least be useful as a scouting photo, but it still fails to accomplish what we’re being paid to do: to show off the interior and exterior views of this gorgeous apartment.

So in order to show off this space in the best possible way, we’ve got a couple options. Let’s start off with…

Tonemapped HDR

Loved by many, vocally hated by just as many, and used by everyone at least once in their careers, Tonemapped HDR is certainly one way to go about things. Tonemapping is what most people think of when the phrase ‘HDR’ is mentioned: those radioactive landscape scenes and, um, “artistic” renderings of city scenes are some popular applications for tonemapping:

Apologies to all Tomcat lovers around the world for that one. Usually, tonemapped HDRs are created by shooting three or five exposures spaced one or two stops apart, which are then merged together using a program like Photomatix. Using tonemapping can create some passable results, but the images quickly fall apart under scrutiny or enlargement. Here are the three images I used to create my tonemapped interior shot. One is, according to the camera, two stops underexposed, one is properly exposed, and one is two stops overexposed. In other words, a typical, run-of-the-mill application of HDR.

And after loading the three images into the Photomatix engine and playing with the result, this is what I was able to come up with:

At first glance, it’s not the worst thing in the world. We’ve got details out the window, details in the interior, and we can tell what’s going on. I guess if you were being paid $100 and the client expected you to shoot with a potato, you’d be in the clear. But upon further inspection, things really start to fall apart. The sky is a muddy mess with clipping everywhere, and there’s no real saturation or crispness due to the overexposed frame being entirely blown out in that area. The colors in the interior are incorrect (especially from the lights – tonemapping loves to oversaturate warm colors) and the transition between the interior and exterior around the windows is a bit rough. The shadow noise is also a bit unruly at 100%, but like I said, it’s not the absolute worst real estate marketing photo ever. I also spent way too much time massaging it in post to get it to look like this, and I can imagine that it’s very easy to screw something like this up if you aren’t very familiar with Photomatix’s controls.

Exposure Fusion HDR

Another popular method for photographing interiors is to use Photomatix’s Exposure Fusion program. This (in very unscientific terms) uses a different blending algorithm to create a more natural result, but at the expense of creative control, which may actually be a good thing. Exposure fusion averages the exposure across the scenes and takes bits and pieces from each exposure to create a more life-like image. Using the same base exposures, I was able to come up with this:

Which is a decent improvement from our tonemapped shot. Still, there are a number of issues with this shot. Try as I might, I wasn’t able to pull out the window view to get it to look the way it really should (well-exposed, good visibility) for a property like this. I could split a few more hairs, as well: the contrast in the scene isn’t really what I’d call ideal, and it’s kind of muddy overall. It doesn’t really scream “this is a high-quality, sharp, snappy marketing image that I’d want to print out for a magazine article to sell my expensive piece of real estate.”

Again, I spent some time in Photomatix pulling and pushing the sliders to get this to look as best as I could. If you were really devoted, you could bring this into photoshop and replace the exterior scene with a properly exposed one. But unless you’re getting paid a significant amount, it’s just not worth the time to mask out all of those details or pull out your hair dragging the pen tool around the screen for thirty minutes to do so. As Sweet Brown would say, “nobody has enough time for that.”

A deliverable shot, to be sure, given the right budget and client. But as I said, there is a lot of room for improvement. So let’s try another method: the flash.

On-Camera Flash

The single on-camera flash is another approach to this type of photography that I frequently see being used, oftentimes with utterly disastrous results. There are times where it can be perfect, however: in small rooms with white walls and big windows, a little kiss of light from an on-camera flash can really help to fill things in and add some sparkle to run-n-gun real estate photography. But in a challenging situation like the one we are faced with in this post, well, I’ll let you be the judge:

Okay. So it’s a Xerox, essentially. All of the information is there, presented in a very ugly format. But it’s there. There’s some light on the scene, you can see what’s going on, but…dang! That window is still long gone. My flash is already at full power, ISO 320, f8, 1/80th, bounced right into the ceiling. I’m letting some of the ambient light from outside fill in the scene to add some natural light and fill. But I really want to see that view, so what do I do? I bump up my shutter speed, which effectively puts me right at the edge of my sync speed and also kills all of the ambient light’s filling effect. Which gives us this:

So there’s our view, but we have completely destroyed any sense of ambience in the interior. Gorgeous, eh? Keep in mind that the flash is on full power here. That is one dark interior, and I can’t go any higher on my shutter speed or I’d cross the sync speed and lose a significant amount of flash power. I could bump my ISO or open up my aperture to increase my flash power, but again, I can’t make my shutter speed any faster because of the sync speed limits, and that would negate all of the gains granted to me by bumping the ISO and changing the aperture.

That light, though…is just…so…ugly. Yuck! How can we improve it? By using…

Multiple Off-Camera Flashes

Keep in mind that I had an hour to create ten images (plus details and vignettes, which I shoot with a prime lens, hand-held usually) for a client that called me at the last minute of the eleventh hour. This was a great client, so I wasn’t going to say no, and I was compensated fairly for my time and expertise. Yet I still wanted to create the best results possible given the time constraints, without resorting to HDR or shooting single exposures.

On my usual and ideal gigs, I usually shoot eight to ten images per day using multiple off-camera lights, and, often enough, I have an assistant helping out to speed things up. As you can imagine, I wasn’t able to spend that much time on each image here (2-3 minutes at most). But I think that the results speak for themselves: the window view is crystal clear, the interior looks relatively natural, the colors are all correct, and the shadows and transitions are natural and smooth, unlike all of the other methods I’ve touched on. I will admit that I cheated a bit here: I had to crop out the edges of a pair of umbrellas and crop down from the top of the frame to conceal a minor hotspot. I pulled some shadows and pushed some highlights in Aperture, and of course added the usual contrast and saturation. In reality, I spent no more time in Photoshop/Aperture caressing this image than I did on the HDR images. All things considered, however, the minor cropping and ‘cheating’ here produces a much better result:

Of course, it’s going to take time to be able to effectively light a dark interior in a way that captures every necessary piece of information in order to entice potential buyers. It’s not an overnight solution, and there is always room for improvement. I’m not 100% happy with the quality of light that I created in my final image here, but I spent all of ten minutes on this scene for results that, to me, appear to be the clear winner in the quality and deliverability categories. If I had more time I’d love to play with the composition, different lighting setups, using scrims and cookies, and all of that fun stuff to make a really killer image. I might even kick around for a few hours until the sun started to set to get an amazing twilight shot, but alas, I did not have that liberty on this shoot.


Four methods, all of them producing unique results. Do I believe that HDR and on-camera flash have their place? Absolutely. If you are just starting out, it might help to ease into interiors and real estate photography by using HDR to learn how to compose, get comfortable with the dynamic range and limitations of your camera, and realize how they can be improved. From there, slap a single flash in the hotshoe and master that. It might be ugly for awhile, but it will only get better in time. From there, I’d suggest making the jump to off-camera lighting. Can you create great images using HDR and exposure fusion or other methods that I haven’t mentioned here (for example, manual blending in Photoshop)? Yes, and people do. I may or may not think that those people might be insane due to the amount of time they end up spending in post, but they do. I also enjoy the fine control I can have over a scene when I am the one who is creating the light and mood, rather than being the one who is trying to work within a set of boundaries imposed on me by the scene. The more control I have, the better, but that is another article for another time.

If you’re on a time limit and don’t feel comfortable juggling five or more speedlights, then by all means get familiar with HDR and its Exposure Fusion engine. You’ll need to know the limitations of the program and what kind of scenes it will struggle with, such as the one in this post. But don’t let me mislead you: there are many situations in which HDR can be applied and used to great effect, it’s just that there are some situations where it definitely would not be my first choice.

Everyone has their preferences, and I’ve tried to lay out each method in an unbiased format so you can make your own decisions about how you shoot your interiors or real estate photography. But for me, when it comes to quality, my time, and pleasing my clients, it’s off-camera flash every time. Do note that architectural and commercial photography differs greatly from real estate photography, and a bit beyond the scope of this article.

Here’s a side by side comparison of HDR and Flash, to wrap things up. Note the snappy contrast, which was only bumped the slightest bit in Aperture. The lack of bloom around the windows, the smooth transitions, controlled dynamics and life-like colors of the flashed version when compared to the HDR version.

If you would like to see more of my work using off-camera lighting techniques for real estate, architecture and interiors, head on over to my website at or check out the strobist article detailing some more of my techniques and work. Those should give you a good idea of just what is possible with lights when it comes to shooting this genre of photography.

Light & Motion Introduces 2 Stella Kits for Filmmakers on the Move

LED Expert Light & Motion creates two full featured bundles, the Stella Pro and the Stella Action, to make solid state lights an easier choice for a small, active crew.

Whether you started with a kit from ARRI, Dedo, Lowel or Ianiro, chances are you first learned about lighting with a small kit of lights, contained in a single case, that had everything you needed to light a scene. The likelihood is also high that your kit was Tungsten-based, as were all the aforementioned standards. Even if you have graduated to regularly working with a grip truck, there are still shoots where logistical or budget constraints warrant the use of a kit. But as lighting technology changes, our kits have to change along with it, and Light & Motion is hoping that your next one will be LED-based instead of Tungsten.
Light & Motion Stella Pro KitCredit: Light & Motion
Using custom built rolling cases from Tenba with protective foam inserts to help with organization and protection, both kits feature the new single point chip, on-board LED units. As opposed to more typical LED fixtures, which usually feature an array of lights, the Stella is a single point source of light. When working with LED units, an exceptional amount of diffusion often has to be used to smooth out the fringed shadows you can get from the multiple-point source. With a single point unit and no diffusion, you should get a single, clean shadow. Depending on the design of the rear reflector, it’s possible there will be a double shadow, but it’s still better than the dozens of overlapping shadows you get with a flat LED panel.

Stella 5000 on a droneCredit: Light & Motion

Light & Motion has also focused on durability with the designs, including a claimed waterproof rating of 328 feet and a drop rating of 3 feet. Even if you aren’t planning on using this underwater, the ability to work with the kit worry free in a rainy situation (while waterproofing your camera and cabling, of course) is a real bonus. The lights all come with internal, rechargeable lithium ion batteries that deliver a minimum of an hour of use, and sometimes up to 4 hours, depending on the intensity of the output. This combination of long battery life and small form factor make them a natural fit for aerial work, and Light & Motion also makes a drone version of the Stella 5000 available.
Stella Action kitCredit: Light & Motion

The Stella Pro kits are built around three lights, ideal for a three-light interview setup but flexible enough for a variety of situations, while the Action kits are built around a single light, and are designed to make it easy to grab-and-go a single light unit with all the necessary accessories. The kits are available in a variety of configurations depending on the power of the light unit required.

Full options and pricing are available on the Light & Motion site.
Tech Specs:

Waterproof to 328′
Dropproof to 3′
Lithium-ion recharageable batteries
1000, 2000 and 5000 lumen intensities available
.6, 1.1 and 2.5lb weight respectively
5000K light balance
120° beam spread
KUPO “click” stands

DJI Mavic VS GoPro Karma:DRONE OVERVIEW- What do I get?!

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro: Which Drone Wins?

The global drone market (also referred to as an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV) is forecasted to eclipse $21B by 2022 representing a 20% uptick from 2016 according to market research company, Markets and Markets. While a great portion of this market is attributed to military or defense drones, the consumer drone industry is set to increase over 400% in the next five years due to technological advancements making drone flight manageable for beginners and increasing competition between top drone makers (Business Insider).

American camera maker GoPro recently unveiled its first drone, Karma, entering a burgeoning UAV industry and providing GoPro owners and enthusiasts a dedicated craft for flying their compatible GoPro cameras (sold separately from the Karma drone). Not to be outdone, leading drone manufacturer, DJI (short for Dai-Jiang Innovation), promptly broke news of its latest pocket-sized drone, the Mavic Pro, lending itself to numerous direct comparisons and discussions between the two from aficionados, aerial photographers, videographers, and content creators.

While the top speeds of both GoPro and DJI’s new drones (35 mph and 40 mph, respectively) are well within the new FAA rules “Part 107” recently released on June 21, 2016 for small unmanned aircrafts, both drones represent significant advancements in commercial drone technology particularly in portability, size, and maneuverability. As drones become increasingly popular and accessible in both price and portability, aerial footage (both drones feature live streaming capabilities) may begin to saturate photo and video media raising the bar for both content creation and audience expectations.

Beyond very notable size differences, each drone showcases a variety of new technological features. DJI’s Mavic Pro boasts the ability to be controlled and piloted through a user’s smartphone device with a number of auto-sensory features including obstacle avoidance and user follow automation. GoPro’s Karma features a removable gimbal and cloud-storage service (with GoPro’s new Plus monthly subscription) in addition to the camera brand’s suite of editing tools and apps.

To help consumers discern the salient differences between DJI’s Mavic Pro and GoPro’s Karma drone, influencer marketing company Mediakix shares the following infographic that breaks down each UAV over 20 primary categories ranging from basic specifications to camera capabilities to model pricing and availability dates.
GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro

GoPro Karma vs DJI Mavic Pro Infographic

ARRI Completes Alexa SXT, Adds to SkyPanel, Master Grips, and More

In the wake of IBC 2016, ARRI has new announcements in lighting, camera, and accessory lines.

SkyPanel LED gets a new edition with the S120-C, its biggest fixture to date. Joining the S60 and S30 family, the S120-C is twice as long as the S60 but weighs nearly the same. The S120 outputs a soft, even beam of light with an aperture of 50.8” x 11.8” (1290mm x 300mm) and consumes less than 400 watts. It is slightly brighter than the S60-C and has an efficacy of 9 lumens per watt.

ARRI claims to have completed the development of the Alexa SXT cameras (Super Xtended Technology).​​

The fully tuneable LED adjusts from 2,800 K to 10,000K with high color rendering and is dimmable from 0 – 100%. The thin profile of the S120 offers DMX control, onboard battery options, an EtherCon port for network connectivity, and a USB connection for updates. As you might imagine, ARRI has also released all the necessary accessories with the fixture: honeycombs, egg crates, barn doors, diffusion panels, and a new fabric barn door dubbed the FlexDoor.

Vibrant Color Selection (RGB+W Color Gamut)
High Color Rendering
Large Aperture (1290 x 300mm)
Low Power Consumption (400 W Nominal)
Tremendous Output – Brighter than 2kW Tungsten Soft Light
Lightweight and Compact
Interchangeable Diffusion Panels
On-Board Battery Connection (23 – 36V DC)
RDM Implementation
Available in Blue/Silver and Black
Fan Mode Selection


Good news for all Alexa XT EV, XT Plus, and XT Studio camera users: ARRI claims to have completed the development of the Alexa SXT cameras (Super Xtended Technology). For those who bought the cameras in 2015 and 2016, you can now upgrade completely free of charge to SXT at seven different locations including Munich, London, Los Angeles, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. If you happened to receive your XT prior to 2015, there is a paid option to upgrade to the full SXT version.

While SXT keeps the same sensor and user interface of the original Alexa design, its capabilities have been greatly extended. It’s now equipped with better electronics and a more sophisticated image processor that aligns with the Alexa 65. The SXT cameras can also manage more recording formats (HD, 2K, 4K UHD, or 4K Cine) with 16-bit in-camera processing up to 120fps. The SXT can also record a WCG (Wide Color Gamut) with images ready for color space standards like Rec 2020.

In addition to being able to record HDR, you can now also monitor in HDR. There’s also a new media bay that can accept SxS PRO cards, SxS PRO+ cards, CFast 2.0 cards, XR capture drives, and SXR capture drives.

As part of the ECS (Electronic Control System) line, ARRI has announced four new Master Grip handgrips to provide full control of focus, iris, and zoom settings on cine lenses, including adjustable motor speed, zoom response, and motor limits.

Based on the classic ARRIFLEX handgrips, they can be mounted on tripod pan arms or studio pedestal heads. The Master grips can be used as focus and zoom demands for multi-camera setups with camera control functions, including user button access and record start/stop for ARRI and third-party cameras.

ARRI Master Grips
Combining camera stabilization with lens and camera control, they’re available in right-side and left-side grips with either a rocker for smooth zooming or a thumb wheel for iris or focus control.

Master Grip Left Wheel MLW-1

Left-side camera handgrip
Assignable user buttons and a finger wheel for iris or focus adjustments.
Includes a steel ARRI rosette and two LBUS interfaces

Master Grip Right Wheel MRW-1

Right-side camera handgrip
Assignable user buttons and a finger wheel for iris or focus adjustments
Includes a steel ARRI rosette and two LBUS interfaces

Master Grip Left Rocker MLR-1

Left-side camera handgrip
Assignable user buttons and a control rocker for super-smooth zooming
Includes a steel ARRI rosette and two LBUS interfaces

Master Grip Right Rocker MRR-1

Right-side camera handgrip
Assignable user buttons and a control rocker for super-smooth zooming
Includes a steel ARRI rosette and two LBUS interfaces

Nasa Shows off new Red 4k Footage

NASA Shows Off Gorgeous 4K Space Footage Shot with the RED DRAGON Camera
Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 12.13.19 AM
NASA 6K RED EPIC DRAGON in Space – 4K Footage
Back in October, we found out RED’s EPIC DRAGON was going to space.

The 6K digital cinema camera has been in space for a number of months now, and NASA has begun uploading some of this 4K footage to their YouTube channel (in 4K, of course). Here is just the first taste of some of the fantastic images that astronauts on the International Space Station will be capturing for months and years to come:

The camera reached the International Space Station back in January:

The fifth SpaceX cargo resupply mission delivered this camera to the orbiting laboratory in January 2015. The camera’s ability to record at a high resolution as well as up to 300 frames per second made it the ideal recording device to capture dynamic events like vehicle operations near the station, such as docking and undocking. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station.

And here’s the newest clip that was just uploaded:

More from NASA about the clip and their goals:

In the video [above], astronaut Terry Virts extracts a floating ball of water, into which he inserts an effervescent tablet to watch it dissolve and release gasses in mid-air. Rodney Grubbs, program manager for NASA’s Imagery Experts Program at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says the footage itself is dynamic for its subject matter, and the detailed, high-resolution makes it especially riveting.

“This is a huge leap in camera technology for spaceflight,” Grubbs said. “These cameras have large sensors capable of very high resolution imaging at high frame rates. It is like having a high speed 35MM motion picture film camera, but it is compact, can use lenses we already have up there, and it is digital. No film to return to Earth.”

The RED camera is the same model used to record theatrical releases such as The Hobbit trilogy and television programs. Ultra-HD televisions capable of receiving and displaying 4K transmissions are now sold in stores.

While the 4K resolutions are optimal for showing on movie screens, NASA video editors are working on space station footage for public viewing on YouTube. You will be able to watch high-resolution footage from inside and outside the orbiting laboratory right on your computer screen. You will need a screen capable of displaying 4K resolution for the full effect, but the imagery still trumps that of standard cameras. RED videos and pictures are shot at a higher fidelity and then down-converted, meaning much more information is captured in the images, which results in higher-quality playback, even if you don’t have a 4K screen.

These are not the first 4K digital cinema cameras to make it to space, as Canon has sent up at least one C500, though I imagine the all-internal RAW recording and the high frame rates of the DRAGON are slightly better suited for NASA’s purposes. Since NASA has been using Nikon DSLRs on the ISS for some time, they’ve already got compatible lenses for the camera. It would not be surprising if RED is already working with NASA to try to get their new 8K camera up on the ISS at some point, which uses a full-frame (Vista Vision) 35mm sensor to deliver the same image quality as the 6K camera, but with higher resolution.

This Early Footage from Blackmagic’s 4.6K URSA Looks Pretty Stellar

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 12.26.02 AMBlackmagic URSA 4.6K Footage
In April, Blackmagic announced a host of exciting new cameras (as seems to be their ongoing April tradition).

Most excitingly, the company showcased a new 4.6K sensor with impressive dynamic range that will soon make its home in both the URSA and URSA Mini cinema cameras. In case you’re wondering how exactly that sensor performs, here’s some early footage, shot in 4:1 RAW with the original URSA:

To my eye, this is some of the nicest footage to come from Blackmagic’s cameras to date. This is a great sign because, coming from an early pre-release version of the upgraded URSA, the capabilities of the production versions of these cameras will likely be even better. With this footage, I’m struck by the clean, naturalistic colors and skin tones, the super smooth highlight rolloff (plus the lack of blown highlights when shooting daytime interiors against a window), and the fact that there aren’t any issues whatsoever when shooting directly into the sun. I’m inclined to say that Blackmagic is really starting to get the hang of this whole camera manufacturing thing, which is exciting news for independent filmmakers everywhere.

You can pre-order all of the 4.6K versions of both the URSA and the URSA Mini through B&H, and they’re expected to begin shipping later in the summer, or early fall.

GoPro announces its smallest, lightest action-camera yet, the HERO4 Session

GoPro announces its smallest, lightest action-camera yet, the HERO4 Session
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It’s not the size of the camera strapped to the ship…
GoPro HERO4 Session unveiled

UPDATED: Battery life information and other specs have been included, as well as a brand new HERO4 Session showreel – details below.

If you’ve always wanted to buy a GoPro camera but were put off by the advanced, pro-level functionality found in GoPro’s HERO4 Black, you’re in luck – GoPro has announced its most user-friendly camera ever: the HERO4 Session.

Operating the HERO4 Session is easier than it is on any of GoPro’s other cameras, with a single button used to perform the majority of its functions – A short press of the shutter button turns the camera on, starting video capture automatically, a longer press powers the camera on and switches it to Time Lapse photo capture mode, and you only have to press the button once more to save your recording or photo and turn it off again.

Just like with previous models, you can further refine your controls and settings by using the GoPro App or Smart Remote.
GoPro or go home
HERO4 Session Snowboarding

The HERO4 Session is 50% smaller and 40% lighter (74g) than GoPro’s HERO4 Black and Silver, at roughly a cubic inch in size, and has a Micro SD card slot, an non-removable battery (2 hours on a full charge), built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and a Micro USB port, so you can keep it going indefinitely.

Its reduced size and weight means that the HERO4 Session can be placed in areas that were previously impossible, such as on the bottom of a skateboard.

It’s also waterproof right out of the box to a depth of 10 metres, without the need for an additional case or dive housing, though it does come with standard and low-profile mount brackets, as well as a new Ball Joint Buckle mount.

HERO4 Session is also compatible with all existing GoPro mounts and accessories.
Technically (GO)Proficient
HERO4 Session Swimming

The HERO4 Session retains GoPro’s signature high-quality image capture capabilities, recording 1080p video at 60fps, 720p at 100fps and 1440p at 30fps (those after 4K video will have to opt for HERO4 Black), along with eight megapixel photos in its Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes.

The new model also features auto image rotation, placing your video capture the right way up, regardless of how you attach it to any given surface (it should be noted however, that the image will not rotate once it has commenced recording), and a new dual microphone system which automatically switches its sound recording between two microphones in order to minimise wind noise.

The GoPro HERO4 Session hits the street on July 12 for AUD$579.95 (US$399, £329), which is the same price as GoPro’s HERO4 Silver – check out the new HERO4 Session showreel below:

Dog snaps photos with heartbeat-triggered Nikon camera

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Grizzler the dog may not be Ansel Adams, but he captured some charming photos with a chest-mounted Nikon that takes a picture whenever he’s excited.
Grizzler wants to be the Robert Frank of the dog world.

Watch out, cat photographers, you have some competition from the canine world. A black-and-white dog named Grizzler is capturing arty images using a new system from Nikon Asia. Heartography consists of a heartbeat monitor, a camera and a special housing that includes a shutter trigger activated when the dog’s heart rate rises.

The proof-of-concept system seems to mainly be a publicity stunt for the Nikon Coolpix L31. The camera and 3D-printed case together are bulky, making the package an unlikely candidate for commercial production. It does give us a set of amusing images showing off all the things that get a dog excited, like people, upset cats and other dogs.
Grizzler the dog’s photographic masterpieces…

Grizzler won’t likely be hailed as a genius photographer. The camera is mounted on his chest, so all the images are taken at about a person’s knee level. There are a few surprises in the photo collection. Grizzler seems to be a fan of wild mushrooms, probably because he’s excited about the prospect of eating them. He has a couple photos of a van filled with canola oil and Heinz Beans, so he’s a bit of a foodie.

Grizzler does have a special touch with animal portraits. His work really captures the angst of a cat faced with a primal enemy and the curiosity of other dogs when meeting another of their kind. These are images human photographers can’t easily capture.

This publicity move wouldn’t be complete without a cutesy name. Nikon has dubbed the picture-taking pup a “pho-dog-rapher.”