Viewing entries in
Tech rumours

Panasonic’s New “Post-Focus” Feature Could Be a Godsend for Product and Still Life Photographers

Bundled with the 2.0 version of their firmware, the Post-Focus feature, demonstrated back this summer, lets you accomplish exactly what it’s name says; change your image’s focus point after having taken the photo. While this works similarly to what Lytro is doing, it achieves it by shooting a burst of photo at 30fps and 4K resolution. Then, using the touchscreen on the back of the camera, you can select any focus point, save different versions of the same composition and use focus peaking while being zoomed in to determine to best location for an ultra-precise focus point. This new feature is available on the Lumix DMC-GX8 the DMC-G7 and the DMC-FZ330 and is available since yesterday.

From Digital Photography Review’s website, here’s Panasonic’s press release:

 

Panasonic Frees Photographer’s Creativity with New 'Post Focus' Technology

LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330 enable any area of a photograph to be in-focus after shooting  

Panasonic is encouraging photographers to shoot first and focus later with a new technological function called ‘Post Focus’.  After taking a picture, the function enables photographers to select whichever part of the image they want to be in-focus with an easy one touch operation. Developed with Panasonic’s existing 4K Photo technology, Post Focus not only prevents out-of-focus misshots but also offers greater creative freedom, and is now available via a firmware update for the LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330.

Post Focus has been made possible by combining the high-speed, high-precision DFD (Depth from Defocus) auto focus technology and Panasonic’s 4K technology, made possible by the Venus Engine. Burst images in 4K resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels) are shot at 30 fps while detecting up to 49 areas of a frame for focus points at different depths of field.

Operation of the Post Focus function is straightforward and easy.  Turn on post focus, compose and take your picture. Then, while reviewing the images simply touch the area you want the focus to be and a new image with the selected focus area will be produced as a separate photo.

In addition, this function can be used for creative purposes in different types of photography such as portrait, landscape and especially macro, where the optimal control is needed. Focus peaking, 5x magnified zoom and other fine adjustment settings can be used for even greater focus control. Several different impressions can be taken out of one picture by changing the focus and defocus within the image to select the desired subject. This assures that the photographer can select the best shot instead of out-of- focus misshots.

The Post Focus firmware update will be available at 01:00 GMT on 25th November, 2015 on the LUMIX Global site (http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/) for the LUMIX DMC-GX8, DMC-G7 and DMC-FZ330.

 

Here are two videos of it in action:

 

Now, if this feature gets to evolve a bit, it will be especially useful and will let product photographers like myself focus on the creative aspect of the shot rather than on making sure it’s all in focus. Plus, the results are hopefully going to be smoother because it's entirely computerized and doesn’t introduce the sloppiness of a human. Picture this, you set your shot the way you like it, trigger the camera, let it doing its thing and be left with tens of focus-stacking ready images. The camera could even stitch the files internally, but I’m fairly positive on the fact that I’d like to keep the files and combine them myself on a dedicated software running on a resourceful machine. As it is today, I would not use Panasonic’s new feature. First, I’d have to switch camera system, which I would not enjoy doing at all. Also, the best camera of the three, the DMC-GX8, only has a Micro Four-Third sensor, which will not resolve the best deal of details. Probably the biggest deal breaker for me is the fact that the files are limited in resolution to 4K. I get why Panasonic chose to go with such a resolution and 30fps, I really do, but I can’t help other than wanting to use the full potential of the sensor. I wouldn’t mind having the camera take a minute or even more the record all of the shots, but let me take advantage of all of those megapixels I have. Another point is the fact that you are limited to using continuous lighting since no studio strobe will be able to keep up with the rate of shooting the camera will sustain, hence why it would take more than a minute to complete all of the images. Finally, the output file are JPEGs and, again, that makes me feel like I am missing on the chance to use the full potential and every bit of sharpness that the sensor-lens combo has to offer. The feature will keep improving and, perhaps, camera like the a7R or a7R II will offer a variant of such utility directly targeted at product and still life photographers (and landscape shooters too!).

It’s certainly a step in the right direction for Panasonic and the photography industry in general. The only use I would make out of this feature today is shooting e-commerce images where you need to do several tens of them a day and sheer sharpness and details retention isn’t as important since you won’t be blowing them up onto ads or billboards. Anyways, let us know your thoughts and feelings for this new and exciting feature in the comments below!

Cheers,

Tristan

Finally, Sony Will Release an Update Enabling 14-bit RAW

On November 18, 2015, Sony will release a software update to the a7 II. It’s main feature is the ability to now save 14-bit uncompressed RAW files. Previously, the camera was only capable of outputting 12-bit “RAW” images. This is, for me, a very important addition to the camera. Technically speaking, it is supposed to add 12 288 more shades per colour channel, or a bit less than 2 trillion colours overall.

 

Now, this feature is directly tied to user request. About 10 months ago, Change.org member J.C. started a petition to push Sony to enable true uncompressed RAW output on the a7. More than 2000 Sony enthusiasts, including myself, have signed the petition back then. Well, Sony has listened and we now have a software update to show for it. The a7S II and a7R II already support this feature. It’s really nice to see that the company actually listened to its users.

I am shooting on the a7, and I, too, want this feature. The same sensor and processor is the both the a7 and a7 II. I’m not sure why they haven’t announced a software update for the a7 and a7R yet. Maybe they prefered working on the second generation first. Anyway, I’m quite sure that the hardware is capable of handling the update.

Sony also added phase detection autofocus to the A7 II and the ability the assign a custom function to the movie recording button. If you, too, would like to see all of the a7 series cameras be able to output 14-bit RAW, please signed the petition.


Cheers,

Tristan

What is Apple's Metal?

Metal, as introduced by Apple last year for the iOS platform, is an API that should give better performance from the CPU and GPU on Apple's computers. They released it first on mobile with iOS 8 last year. The company touted that this would dramatically increase game performance, leading the prettier and more complex graphics. It seems to have been pretty successful.

At WWDC 2015, Apple announced that they would release the same for Macs with the new version of their operating system, OS X. The current version is OS X Yosemite. On September 9, Apple will probably give us more information on OS X El Capitan, which is going to include Metal. A download date should be known.

Now, the reason I'm bringing this up is that Metal is advertised as being able to increase performance in, amongst other, the Adobe CC suite of programs. And we're talking pretty noticeable boosts here. Being a GPU oriented update, video people using Premiere Pro and After Effects should see the biggest increase. However, Photoshop and the like will go up in speed as well. As soon as I can get my hands on it, I will do a comparison of the speed it takes to output files and apply heavy filters in Photoshop using my MacBook the see whether or not it is really speedier.

I hope I will conclude with positive numbers. Who doesn't like to have free speed upgrades?

Cheers,

Tristan

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS: The 5 Features It Needs To Earn Its Place In My Toolkit

Honest talk here: Sony’s FE lens lineup sucks. It just does. As of February 7th, there is 7 first-party FE (full-frame E-mount) lenses. Canon, on the other hand, offers 79 EF lenses for their DSLRs. However, I do see Sony making real efforts to bring some more and they have the on-going collaboration with ZEISS that produces the Loxias. In a few days, at CP+ 2015, Sony will announce 4 new FE lenses (+ 2 wide-angle adapters). One of them is the long awaited 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. A commercial product photographer needs a macro. I am really looking forward to buying it so here are the features it must sports in order to be in my toolkit. In no particular order.

1. True Macro

To me, a macro is a macro. We should stop saying that X lens is macro if it doesn’t even offer 1:1 reproduction. So, I want true 1x or greater macro reproduction on this lens. With that, I can fill the frame with the subject. It happens too often that I’m at the minimum focussing distance of a lens and that 75% of the image is negative space. I then need to crop and I lose Image Quality (IQ) and megapixel count. Not optimal.

2. Build Quality

Build quality is also important to me. As all Sony G lenses are made of really nice polished metal, I expect this one to be, too. In addition, I want it to be heavy and feel amazing. I do need to give to Sony that they make - along with ZEISS - some of the most beautiful lenses available (design-wise). Based on the product photos I saw, all the boxes will be checked.

What Sony showed us at Photokina 2014

3. Focus Ring

As a product photographer, I need/want the images to have the highest possible IQ. I highlighted the settings I set my a7 at to achieve it. But, what does all of this effort is worth if the image isn’t even in focus? So, I’d like a big, nice and smooth focus ring to facilitate MF. Additionally, it should turn at least 270° so that it is more precise. Again, given the images, that should be obtained.

4. Image Quality

D’uh. Given that this lens is a prime, a macro, a G and made specifically for the a7/II/R/S, it should yield to some exceptionally sharp photos. However, I’ll wait for the reviews to come out and for DxO to mark it. I’ve used a FE G lens (the 70-200 f/4) in the past and really found it sharp. So, that 90mm should surpass it with no problems.

5. No Vignette

I hope that this product from Sony will not vignette too much. Again, given its characteristics, it shouldn’t and if it does vignette, it will probably be gone by 1 stop. It should be noted that this is not so much important since I mostly always shoot at f/8. At f/8, the vignette is gone on almost all lenses. Nonetheless, a lens that vignettes only a little is a lens that usually is of a very good quality.

Since I’m a commercial product and still life photographer - spending 95% of my time in the studio - I really don’t mind the weight/size of the lens. It’s nearly identical to the Canon 100mm Macro L and that means it will range between 125mm to 130mm. Perfectly fine with me. Not much for the weight is known yet, we’ll have to wait to the 13th of February to know the exact specifications. To continue, this lens has a focus limiter and OSS (Optical Steady Shot, Sony’s optical image stabilization) switch. They don’t make the deal for me but it sure is nice to have those two features included. Finally, Sony says that the target shipment date is in March 2015 (pretty surprised by how close it is).

What are some of your favourite characteristics of the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS? Are you planning on buying one? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,

Tristan

P.S.: I will update the images of this blog once the official photos are released (Done!)