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Posts tagged with "photography"

Pixelmator Pro 2.0 Released with M1 Mac Support, An Updated Design, and New Effects and Presets

The Pixelmator team has released an extensive update to its image editing app, Pixelmator Pro. Version 2.0 is a Universal Mac app that supports both Intel and M1-based Macs. In addition to the under-the-hood support for Apple’s new SoC architecture, the update has an all-new Big Sur-style design and a host of new features like redesigned effects and presets browsers, the ability to customize the app’s layout, and a new app icon.

Pixelmator Pro’s new design is terrific, right down to its new Big Sur-style app icon. The app already featured a design with minimal chrome that stayed out of the way, focusing attention on the content, which is also a hallmark of Big Sur’s design. As a result, the update will look familiar to existing users but also fits right in with other apps designed for the latest version of macOS.

Changes big and small have been made throughout Pixelmator Pro’s UI. For example, like the Finder and Apple’s other system apps, button outlines are highlighted only when the pointer hovers over the icons in the app’s toolbar. The name of the document you’re working on has been left-justified too. Pixelmator Pro has also added a new zoom control to the toolbar for fast access to zooming in and out of an image using the pointer instead of a trackpad gesture or keyboard shortcut.

Pixelmator Pro's new effects UI.

Pixelmator Pro’s new effects UI.

Although the order of the tools along the right edge of Pixelmator Pro is customizable, the default position of the effects tool has been moved near the top of the window. When active, the effects tool opens a panel that is divided into six default categories of image effects, which can be modified by the user. The design is more compact than before and provides a live thumbnail preview of what the effect will look like if applied, making it easier to find the look you’re after. With the addition of even more effects, the new UI is a much more efficient way to browse through them.

Pixelmator Pro features preset workspaces.

Pixelmator Pro features preset workspaces.

The update also features four preset workspaces in addition to the app’s default configuration, which each move the toolbar and panels to different positions in the app’s window to accommodate photography, design, illustration, and painting workflows. You can also design and save your own setup dragging the app’s two panels and toolbar into positions that suit you.

You can define your own workspaces.

You can define your own workspaces.

Presets have been greatly expanded and enjoy the same sort of compact UI as effects too. The Pixelmator team says it has added over 200 new presets for photography, design, and illustration use cases, which allow users to work more efficiently. The app also has more than 50 new vector shapes in five categories from which to choose.

On the new M1 Macs, Pixelmator Pro benefits from its use of Apple’s Metal frameworks. The M1 Macs are designed to take advantage of Metal, which accelerates tasks in Pixelmator Pro like upscaling images using the app’s ML Super Resolution feature. The Pixelmator team says ML Super Resolution can be accomplished up to 15 times faster on an M1 Mac than was possible before.

I’ve said many times before that Pixelmator Pro is the image editor I use most often for my work at MacStories. The app is powerful but easy to use, dispensing with the steep learning curves of many other pro-level image editors. With version 2.0, the Pixelmator team continues to push the app forward with a design and underlying technologies that are perfectly aligned with where the Mac is heading, which is a reassuring indication that the app will continue to be one of the premier Mac image editors for a long time to come.

Pixelmator Pro 2.0 is available on the Mac App Store to existing users as a free update and new customers for $39.99.


Sebastiaan de With Reviews the iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera

Sebastiaan de With, Co-founder and designer at Lux (the studio behind the Halide Mark II camera app), has written a great review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera:

The Pro Max was the wildcard this year. Apple devoted a whole section of their keynote to it, and we got a ton of questions about it on our Twitter. Some reviewers on the internet panned it as an indistinguishable improvement from the iPhone 12 camera, while others called it quite good.

We’ll get into the iPhone 12 camera — we have a lot of thoughts on that. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max tests were quite surprising. So surprising we’ve decided to create this whole separate post about it.

De With clearly explains the impact of the Pro Max’s larger camera sensor, including detailing some scenarios in which the post-processing of Apple’s built-in Camera app can obscure the hardware’s superior results. Some excellent photographs are provided for comparison, and de With makes the point that the highest quality can be pulled from shots taken in RAW.

The whole article has an interesting viewpoint due to it coming from a team of experts on RAW photography. Make sure to give it a read and check out the photos.

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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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Austin Mann’s iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera Review

Austin Mann is back again, and this time the professional travel photographer has reviewed the camera in the iPhone 12 Pro Max. We linked to Mann’s iPhone 12 Pro review last month, but that story was focused heavily on this year’s software improvements. For the iPhone 12 Pro Max Mann has taken a detailed look at the hardware upgrades in Apple’s latest top-of-the-line camera system.

This time around Mann has journeyed through Zion National Park. The photos he gathered are gorgeous, and he had this to say of the experience:

All in all, this was one of the most unique and beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. You really should go experience the splendor for yourself — but for now, the iPhone 12 Pro Max served as an excellent camera to capture and share this adventure with you.

Don’t miss the photos and accompanying videos, as well as Mann’s full review over on his site.

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Halide Mark II Review: The Convenience of Computational Photography and Flexibility of RAW in an Elegant Camera App

iPhone photography has come a long way in the past 13 years. The original iPhone had a 2 MP camera that produced images that were 1600 x 1200 pixels. Today, the wide-angle camera on an iPhone 12 Pro has a 12 MP camera that can take shots that are 4032 x 3024 pixels.

Hardware advancements have played a big role in iPhone photography, but so has software. The size of an iPhone and physics limit hardware advances, resulting in diminishing returns year-over-year. Consequently, Apple and other mobile phone makers have turned to computational photography to bring the power of modern SoCs to bear, improving the quality of images produced by iPhones with software.

Computational photography has advanced rapidly, pushed forward by the increasingly powerful chips that power our iPhones. Every time you take a photo with your iPhone, it’s actually taking several, stitching them together, using AI to compute adjustments to make the image look better, and presenting you with a final product. The process feels instantaneous, but it’s the result of many steps that begin even before you press the shutter button.

However, the simplicity and efficiency of computational photography come with a tradeoff. That pipeline from the point you press the Camera app’s shutter button until you see the image you took involves a long series of steps. In turn, each of those steps involves a series of judgment calls and the application of someone else’s taste about how the photo should look.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else's taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

Apple has made great strides in computational photography in recent years, but it also means someone else’s taste is being applied to your images. Source: Apple.

In many circumstances, the editorial choices made by the Camera app result in great photos, but not always, and the trouble is, your ability to tweak the images you take in compressed file formats is limited. A more flexible alternative is to shoot in a RAW file format that preserves more data, allowing for a greater range in editing options, but often, the friction of editing RAW images isn’t worth it. The Camera app is good enough most of the time, so we tolerate the shots that don’t look great.

However, what if you could have the best of both worlds? What if you could capture a lightweight, automatically-adjusted photo and an editing-friendly RAW image at the same time, allowing you to pick the right one for each image you take? If you like the JPEG or HEIC image produced by Apple’s computational photography workflow, you could keep it, but you could always fall back to the RAW version if you want more editing latitude. That way, you could rely on the editorial choices baked into iOS where you like the results but retain control for those times when you don’t like them.

That’s what Halide Mark II by Lux sets out to accomplish. Halide is a MacStories favorite that we’ve covered many times in the past, but Mark II is something special. The latest update is an ambitious reimagining of what was already a premier camera app, building on what came before but with a simpler and easier to learn UI. Halide Mark II puts more control than ever into the hands of photographers, while also making it easy to achieve beautiful results with minimal effort. Halide also seeks to educate through a combination of design and upcoming in-app photography lessons.

By and large, Halide succeeds. Photography is a notoriously jargon-heavy, complex area. It’s still possible to get bogged down, fretting over which settings are best in what circumstances. However, Halide provides the most effective bridge from point-and-shoot photography to something far more sophisticated than any camera app I’ve used. The result is a camera app that gives iPhone photographers control over the images they shoot in an app that’s a pleasure to use and encourages them to learn more and grow as a photographer.

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Austin Mann’s iPhone 12 Pro Camera Review

Pro travel photographer Austin Mann has put the iPhone 12 Pro through its paces in Glacier National Park, Montana. You won’t want to miss the full selection of images shot by Mann who concentrated his testing on the low-light performance of the iPhone 12 Pro’s improved Wide lens, the addition of Night mode to the Ultra Wide lens, Smart HDR 3, and low-light portrait mode photos that take advantage of the Pro’s new LiDAR sensor for autofocus.

Mann also delves into the Camera app’s settings to reveal new controls provided to photographers. My favorite is the setting that allows the exposure settings to be preserved between shots. As Mann explains:

I’m absolutely thrilled about this new (and hardly talked about) feature. We now have true exposure adjustment that doesn’t revert back to auto mode every time a pictured is captured.

This adjustment remains even when you switch between .5x, 1x, and 2x lenses, or when switching modes. Even if you lock your iPhone and come back to it later, it still remembers your exposure settings. This is much more like working with a traditional manual camera and I love it.

Mann’s post includes other compelling additions to the Camera app’s settings as well as beautiful shots that do a fantastic job of demonstrating this year’s camera advances. What I’m most I’m most eager to see, though, what Mann thinks of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has what promises to be significantly better hardware than the iPhone 12 Pro.

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Understanding the Camera Enhancements Coming to the iPhone 12

Apple announced a lot of improvements to the cameras in its upcoming iPhone 12 line. The enhancements are a combination of hardware and software that look promising on paper, especially when it comes to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

As with past iPhone announcements, Sebastiaan de With, part of the team behind the camera apps Halide and Spectre, breaks down the changes, explaining what they mean for photographers. Probably the most significant hardware change is to the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s sensor. According to de With:

In addition to a better lens, the 12 Pro Max has the room to pack a new, 47% larger sensor. That means bigger pixels, and bigger pixels that capture more light simply means better photos. More detail in the day, more light at night. That combines with the lens to result in almost twice as much light captured: Apple claims an 87% improvement in light capture from the 11 Pro. That’s huge.

Also, the Pro Max gains a new image stabilization system:

But that’s not its only trick: the 12 Pro Max’s Wide system also gets a new sensor-shift OIS system. OIS, or Optical Image Stabilization, lets your iPhone move the camera around a bit to compensate for your decidedly unsteady human trembly hands. That results in smoother video captures and sharp shots at night, when the iPhone has to take in light over a longer amount of time.

On the software side, de With thinks Apple’s announcement of the new ProRAW image format looks promising, though it’s short on details at the moment and isn’t coming until later this year:

ProRAW, according to Apple, gives you the standard RAW along with this pipeline information, which should offer some fantastic flexibility when editing. Note that this might be a custom format; little is known, and it seems it was only announced and might be limited to the iPhone 12 Pro.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the camera announcements made earlier this week, so be sure to read deWith’s article for additional details.

I also recommend watching Tyler Stalman’s video about the new cameras. Stalman has been watching the evolution of Apple’s cameras carefully for a long time now, and his video is a terrific overview from a photographer’s perspective of what’s coming next.


Instagram Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary on the App Store with Classic Icons and Adds New Stories Archive and Anti-Bullying Features

As of today, Instagram has been on the App Store for ten years. To celebrate, the app has brought back classic icons from its past as well as variations on its current icon as an in-app Easter egg.

As The Verge reports, the icons can be accessed by going to Instagram’s settings view and then long-swiping down on your iPhone’s screen until a series of emoji appear. Keep swiping until confetti rains down, and the icons are revealed. Like me, you may also have to restart your iPhone for your Home Screen changes to take effect. In total, there are a dozen icons to choose from, excluding the default option.

Instagram's new Stories Archive views.

Instagram’s new Stories Archive views.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram has released a couple of other features too. From your profile page, you can access three years of archived Stories from a private calendar or map view. For National Bullying Prevention Month in the US, Instagram is also testing a feature that automatically hides comments similar to others that have already been reported by users as abusive. Warnings to people who post offensive comments are also being expanded to alert repeat offenders that their comments may be hidden from view or their accounts deleted.