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Posts tagged with "camera"

Halide 2.5 Adds New Macro Mode

Halide 2.5 is out, and it includes a brand new Macro Mode. Macro photography is an exclusive feature of the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. Still, Halide has managed to make its Macro Mode available on the iPhone 8 and newer models thanks to some cool machine learning tricks.

Switching to Macro Mode and dialing in precise focus is simple with Halide 2.5.

Switching to Macro Mode and dialing in precise focus is simple with Halide 2.5.

Macro Mode is easy to use. When you open the app, auto-focus (AF) is selected by default. Tap it, and the focus controls slide into place with the auto-focus at one end of the app’s focus dial and Macro Mode (the button with the flower) at the other end. Select Macro Mode, and you’ll see a new focus dial with smaller increments appear. The Halide team says this enables sub-millimeter focusing for extra-precise close-up focusing.

Halide takes its close-ups by first switching to the camera on your iPhone that can take the closest shots. Focusing is handled by its precision focus dial, and the final step is to enhance the image’s details using an AI-based enhancement process. That last super-resolution step is what allows Halide’s Macro Mode to be used on cameras on older models of iPhones and to enhance Apple’s own macro system too.

In my testing over the past day, the results have been impressive. I’m especially fond of the precise focus dial that allows for minute adjustments that make a difference at such close range.

If you’re a Club MacStories+ and Club Premier member, head over to the new Photography channel in our Club Discord to see even more of my experiments with Halide’s Macro Mode and share your own macro shots.

Halide is available as on the App Store as a subscription for $2.99/month or $11.99/year or for a one-time payment of $49.99. The app also offers a 7-day free trial.


Matthew Panzarino Tests the iPhone 13 Pro’s Cinematic Mode and Interviews Apple Executives

Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch’s Editor-in-Chief, put the iPhone 13 Pro camera’s new Cinematic mode through its paces at Disneyland in an excellent real-world test of the new feature. Panzarino also spoke to Kaiann Drance, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide iPhone Product Marketing and Johnnie Manzari, a designer on Apple’s Human Interface Team about how Cinematic mode works.

As Manzari explained:

“In cinema, the role of gaze and body movement to direct that story is so fundamental. And as humans we naturally do this, if you look at something, I look at it too.”

So they knew they would need to build in gaze detection to help lead their focusing target around the frame, which in turn leads the viewer through the story. Being on set, Manzari says, allowed Apple to observe these highly skilled technicians and then build in that feel.

“We’re on set and we have all these amazing people and they’re really the best of the best. And one of the engineers noticed that the focus puller has this focus control wheel, and, and he’s just studying the way that this person does this. Just like when you look at like someone who’s really good at playing the piano, and it looks so easy, and yet you know it’s impossible. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do this,” says Manzari.

“This person is an artist, this person is so good at what they do and the craft they put into it. And so we spent a lot of time trying to model the analog feel of a focus wheel turning.”

To make it all come together into one, coherent feature, Apple’s engineers had to solve a long list of technical challenges:

Some of the individual components that make up Cinematic Mode include:

  • Subject recognition and tracking
  • Focus locking
  • Rack focusing (moving focus from one subject to another in an organic-looking way)
  • Image overscan and in camera stabilization
  • Synthetic Bokeh (lens blur)
  • A post-shot editing mode that lets you alter your focus points even after shooting

And all of those things are happening in real-time.

Despite everything that goes into Cinematic mode, Panzarino notes that the battery impact of using it throughout the day was surprisingly slight.

Cinematic mode isn’t without its flaws, which are covered in the story, but it’s worth watching the entire video that Panzarino shot during a Disneyland visit with his family to get a sense for it yourself. If you study the video closely, you’ll pick up on the places where Cinematic mode struggles. However, sitting back and casually watching the video like you would after a vacation or if a friend sent it to you, the flaws largely fade into the background. I’m eager to test Cinematic mode for myself, and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s necessarily fine as it is, but I also expect that it will be a net positive in a lot of circumstances.

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Austin Mann Puts the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max Cameras Through Their Paces

Specs only tell part of the story of new hardware. They’re important, but they only hint at what’s possible. Put that hardware in the hands of someone who can push it to its limits, and those hints of the possible become concrete examples of the actual. When Apple announced the iPhone 13 Pro, the stats suggested the device’s camera was poised to leap forward. Austin Mann’s review of the 13 Pro’s camera confirms it with a series of stunning photographs from Tanzania.

One of the new Camera features I’m looking forward to most is the ability to take macro photos. Mann explains that:

Although the iPhone 13 Pro still only has three lenses, the addition of macro capability is like adding a new lens altogether, and for the serious photographer I think it’s perhaps the strongest advancement in this year’s camera system.

Macro is more than just improved focus distance. It offers a new way of seeing and opens up an entirely new world of photography and storytelling.

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source [austinmann.com](https://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-13-pro-camera-review-tanzania)

Taken using Photographic Styles. Source austinmann.com

Mann also covers Photographic Styles, which he says allow for a relatively subtle shift of the look of photos without feeling like a flat image-wide filter has been applied, explaining when he’d use them even as a pro photographer:

Of course, I’m usually shooting ProRAW on client projects, but there are times when I just want great looking images right now versus maximum processing control later. Photographic Styles will be perfect for that.

Finally, I thought this insight about Cinematic mode was interesting:

As I watched this piece, particularly the interview in Cinematic mode, it dawned on me that we’re moving beyond the world of just computational photography and into the realm of computational videography. The release of Cinematic mode marks another one of those fundamental shifts where software, unbounded by the limitations of hardware, has opened up entirely new possibilities in the creative process.

From the reviews I’ve seen, Cinematic mode feels like early Portrait mode in terms of how well it works. Although there’s obvious room for improvement, Portrait mode has come a long way in recent years, and it’s exciting to think Cinematic mode may do the same too.

As usual, Mann’s review is full of fantastic shots of the landscapes, people, and nature of Tanzania, which are beautifully shot and are excellent examples about what’s possible with the iPhone 13 Pro.

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Lux Delivers an iPad Version of Halide That Addresses the Unique Challenges of iPad Photography

Students are finishing up the year here in the US, and nothing says graduation season like a relative gripping an iPad with two hands to snap photos of a graduate at a family gathering. It’s easy to poke fun at iPad photography, but those aren’t easy shots to get with Apple’s tablet. Both of your hands are occupied, and the viewfinder is huge and partially obscured by the app’s UI. If you’re at one of these events and see a relative struggling to take the perfect family portrait with their iPad, before you assume that they cut you out of the frame on purpose, show them Halide. The brand new iPad version of the app from the team at Lux makes taking iPad photos more natural and, of course, offers all the advanced features available in the iPhone version of the app.

I don’t take many photos with my iPad, and I doubt I ever will. The camera hardware isn’t as good as it is on the iPhone, and I don’t find myself in situations where I have my iPad but not my iPhone. However, once in a while, I’m using my iPad and want to capture a moment quickly without digging my iPhone out of my pocket. For those occasions, I’m going to use Halide because the app’s thoughtful design makes the experience far superior to other camera apps I’ve tried on the iPad.

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Logitech Circle View Doorbell Offers Superior Camera Hardware with the Benefits of HomeKit Secure Video

For nearly a year, I had a Logitech Circle View camera perched above the front door of my house, which allowed me to keep an eye out for visitors and deliveries. The wide-angle lens was able to capture my front stoop as well as my yard, providing an excellent perspective on what was happening outside.

That setup worked extremely well. In fact, my two Circle View cameras are so reliable that I had begun thinking about replacing a second outdoor camera from Canary that I was using in the back yard. That’s why when Logitech got in touch to see if I wanted to try its new Circle View Doorbell, I jumped at the chance. I figured that if it worked out, I could migrate the Circle View to the back yard. I was also intrigued by some unique features of Logitech’s doorbell and eager to see how well they worked in practice. I haven’t been disappointed.

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Hands-On with the Apple Store’s Insta360 ONE X2 Camera Bundle

Source: Insta360.

Source: Insta360.

Starting today, Insta360 is offering an exclusive bundle of the Insta360 ONE X2 camera and an assortment of accessories through Apple’s online store for $479.99.

I’ve been intrigued by Insta360’s action cameras since coming across them during CES in 2020. I bought a DJI Osmo Pocket when it launched at the end of 2018, which sold me on the notion of a tiny, versatile camera that integrates with the iPhone. So, when Insta360 offered to send me the Apple Store bundle to try, I was curious to see what it can do and what a 360-degree perspective would add to the mix. I’ve only had the ONE X2 for a few days during a brutal Chicago cold snap, so my use of the camera has been limited. Still, the excellent app integration has made getting started a breeze, so I wanted to share my first impressions.

The Insta360 ONE X2 bundle being sold by Apple is a great starter package that includes the ONE X2 camera, an Invisible Selfie Stick, an extra battery and case to carry it, a 32 GB MicroSD card and SD card adapter, two charging cables (USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to Lightning), a carrying case, and a soft pouch. Separately, the camera retails for $429.99, and with the accessories, the entire package would cost around $511 based on the prices listed on Insta360’s website. However, through Apple’s online store, you can purchase the kit for $479.99, saving some money and getting everything you’ll need to get started.

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Apple Spotlights iPhone 12 Photography

Source: Apple

Source: Apple

For the past several years, Apple has shown off some of the best photos taken with the current-generation iPhone. In a press release today, the company highlights 17 beautiful images taken around the globe, as a showcase of what the iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max can do. It’s one thing read about the latest iPhone camera technology, which today’s press release recaps. However, it’s something entirely different to see what the latest hardware and software can do in the hands of a skilled photographer.

A few of the many photos highlighted in Apple's press release. Source: Apple.

A few of the many photos highlighted in Apple’s press release. Source: Apple.

In 2019 and 2020, Apple’s January photography announcement was accompanied by a photography contest judged by Apple employees and a team of professional photographers. This year’s press release makes no mention of a contest, which is understandable in light of the global pandemic.

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Pro Photographer Austin Mann Explains ProRAW

With the release of iOS 14.3, Apple’s ProRAW image format is available in its Camera app and third-party apps like Halide Mark II. Travel photographer Austin Mann, who has been testing ProRAW, published a story explaining why the new format matters, demonstrating the scenarios where it makes the biggest differences, and sharing tips on how and when to use the format.

As Mann explains:

Pro photographers traditionally choose to shoot in RAW because it offers more control. Where there is more data (more color, more range, more everything), there is more latitude to push an image to achieve a vision, and now with ProRAW we have this luxury built right into the native iPhone camera app.

However, ProRAW doesn’t abandon computational photography completely. Instead:

the iPhone camera only leverages the computations that are absolutely necessary for accurate imaging, but gives us complete control over preference parameters like white balance, noise reduction, sharpening, and more.

HEIC image (left) ProRAW image (right). Source: [austinmann.com](http://austinmann.com/trek/iphone-proraw).

HEIC image (left) ProRAW image (right). Source: austinmann.com.

To test ProRAW, Mann took some 30-second Night mode images of the Geminid meteor shower using the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The contrast between what could be achieved by editing a HEIC file versus a ProRAW file in Lightroom is compelling. With the HEIC image, many of the details in the image were lost but with the ProRAW file, Mann was able to preserve the stars in the night sky and the fine details of a rock.

Mann also has side-by-side comparison shots that demonstrate the difference between ProRaw’s 12-bit color and HEIC’s 8-bit color. The differences are more subtle but still noticeable.

Not all photos benefit equally from being shot in ProRAW, and because the files are much bigger than HEIC images, it’s worth understanding when it makes sense to use ProRAW. According to Mann, the format works best for shots with which Apple’s computational photography has the most trouble, such as very low light and high dynamic range scenarios.

Be sure to check out Austin Mann’s entire article for additional examples of ProRAW in action, tips on when and how to use the format, and his interview with Rene Ritchie about ProRAW.

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PetaPixel Interviews Apple Executives on iPhone Camera Design Philosophy

PetaPixel had the opportunity to interview iPhone Product Line Manager Francesca Sweet and VP of Camera Software Engineering Jon McCormack regarding the new cameras in the iPhone 12 line. They cover the design philosophy behind iPhone camera systems, the new Apple ProRAW file type, and the enlarged sensors in this year’s iPhone cameras. PetaPixel’s Jaron Scheider writes:

Apple says that it’s [sic] main goal for smartphone photography is based around the idea of letting folks live their lives, and capture photos of that life without being distracted by the technology.

“As photographers, we tend to have to think a lot about things like ISO, subject motion, et cetera,” McCormack said “And Apple wants to take that away to allow people to stay in the moment, take a great photo, and get back to what they’re doing.”

He explained that while more serious photographers want to take a photo and then go through a process in editing to make it their own, Apple is doing what it can to compress that process down into the single action of capturing a frame, all with the goal of removing the distractions that could possibly take a person out of the moment.

The full article is well worth a read, and includes a variety of interesting quotes from the interview.

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