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Posts tagged with "photography"

Austin Mann on the M1 iPad Pro for Pro Photographers

Source: Austin Mann

Source: Austin Mann

I always look forward to Austin Mann’s unique perspective on Apple hardware. His latest review is from Flagstaff, Arizona where he takes Apple’s new M1-based iPad Pro through its paces as he processes photos taken at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Mann cuts right to the chase:

As any photographer knows, one of the most time-consuming parts of the photo creation process is culling through thousands of images, making selects, and editing the images. Thanks to the M1 chip, faster internal storage, and a few other improvements, the new iPad Pro with M1 is the fastest image sorting tool I’ve ever used.

A great demonstration of the power of the new iPad Pro is the video in Mann’s post in which he moves rapidly through a large set of 60+ MB RAW photos. There’s absolutely no lag, making the iPad Pro a terrific tool for culling large collections of imported shots.

Unsurprisingly, Mann also concludes that the iPad Pro’s big, bright display and mobile data connection make it an ideal tool for previewing images on a sunny day and staying connected to research photo shoots. However, Mann’s wishes for the iPad Pro, like background importing of photos and the ability to connect multiple external storage devices, are precisely the sort of thing that is holding the iPad Pro back from being a more complete solution for photographers and other pro users. Despite the limitations, though, the new iPad Pro looks like a big step up for photographers, which I can’t wait to try with my own camera soon.

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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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Photo Editor and Organizer Darkroom Adds New Clarity Tool

Photo editing and management app Darkroom has been updated with a new Clarity slider that I’ve been testing on the iPhone and iPad for a couple of weeks now.

The new slider in the app’s editing panel is deceptively simple. Move the slider to the right to make the details of an image pop or to the left to smooth out the details. If you look carefully, though, you’ll notice that the increase in contrast isn’t uniform across a photo. You can turn the Clarity of a portrait down to smooth a person’s skin, for instance, without affecting their hair or eyes.

Source: Darkroom.

Source: Darkroom.

As Jasper Hauser explains on the Darkroom blog, the Clarity slider is logarithmic, meaning that the effect intensifies more quickly as you approach the endpoints. Picking a point in the middle of the slider’s range produces a subtler effect.

The effect works well with landscapes like the photo of skyscrapers along the Chicago River at the beginning of this story. You can see that increasing Clarity brings out the details in the windows of each building, and turning Clarity down softens areas like the water.

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

Clarity can achieve a wide range of effects like this shot where it is turned down, smoothing details

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo's details dramatically.

In contrast, turning up Clarity increases a photo’s details dramatically.

As Hauser explains, Clarity works by building a detail map of an image and then adjusting the contrast of its regions using an algorithm called a Fast Local Laplacian Filter. There’s a lot of math happening under the hood that Hauser links to if you’re interested in learning more behind what the Darkroom team has managed to incorporate into a simple slider interaction that’s yet another excellent addition to this Apple Design Award-winning app. To learn more about Darkroom’s features, be sure to check out our past coverage and interview on AppStories with Darkroom co-founder Majd Taby.

Darkroom’s latest update is available on the App Store.


Pixelmator Pro Teases ML Crop Feature and Announces a 50% Off Sale

Source Pixelmator.

Source Pixelmator.

Some of the most impressive additions to Pixelmator Pro in recent updates have been the ones that rely on machine learning. From the auto enhancement feature added in 2018 to last year’s ML Color Match and ML Super Resolution, a wide variety of the app’s tools have harnessed machine learning to help photographers edit their images. Today, the Pixelmator team announced that their extending Pixelmator Pro’s reliance on machine learning to its cropping tool with ML Crop.

Source: Pixelmator.

Source: Pixelmator.

ML Crop uses machine learning to analyze the composition of a photo and suggest how you might like to crop it with the click of a single button. From the video in Pixelmator’s blog post, which is excerpted in the GIF above, the feature looks promising. ML Crop joins features that let you quickly set primary and secondary colors for an image and edit colors in a composition using drag and drop.

In addition to the sneak peek at ML Crop, Pixelmator announced today that the app is currently on sale for 50% off, which makes it a great time to jump in and give Pixelmator Pro if you haven’t yet.


Darkroom 5.2 Improves Photo Management with New Flag and Reject Functionality

One of the greatest advantages of the iPhone’s camera hardware is that it’s easy to take photos wherever you are. That’s also a bit of a curse because there’s probably no greater friction in managing a photo library than sifting through a large stack of images looking for the ones you want to keep. The convenience quality of the iPhone’s camera means that I take more photos than ever, many of which aren’t shots I want to keep long-term. With today’s release of Darkroom 5.2, the photo editor that we’ve covered on MacStories before takes a significant step forward in making the process of culling the best images from an extensive photo collection easier.

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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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Developer Ben Sandofsky on ProRAW and Halide Mark II’s Implementation of the New Format

ProRAW is a big deal for iPhone photography. Joining Austin Mann’s article that I linked earlier today is an even deeper dive by Ben Sandofsky, a member of the Halide Mark II team. Sandofsky does a fantastic job of contextualizing the benefits of ProRAW and explaining how it has been implemented in Halide.

Before getting into the technical details, Sandofsky walks readers through a high-level overview of the limitations of the RAW format, concluding that:

ProRAW elegantly solves all of these problems and more. You can finally reproduce the results of the first-party camera, while retaining most of the editing latitude from traditional RAWs.

What’s more, as Sandofsky explains ProRAW is an extension of the open DNG file format, which should facilitate the implementation of support for ProRAW by third-party app makers:

This may be surprising to some: ProRAW is not a proprietary or closed format. Credit where it is due: Apple deserves kudos for bringing their improvements to the DNG standard. When you shoot with ProRAW, there’s absolutely nothing locking your photos into the Apple ecosystem.

Source: Lux Optics

Source: Lux Optics

Halide Mark II, version 2.1, is available on the App Store now and supports ProRAW in a number of interesting ways:

  • Photographers can take ProRAW-only or ProRAW+JPEG images, whereas Apple’s Camera app always captures both a ProRAW and JPEG image in one shot when the ProRAW option is picked. Capturing a JPEG alongside the ProRAW image is convenient for quick sharing, but having the option to dispense with it helps reduce file size, which is a real issue with ProRAW images that are typically around 25MB.
  • The new ProRAW options are available alongside the app’s existing RAW options by long-pressing the RAW button in Halide’s image capture UI to reveal a context menu, a new feature that makes switching formats faster than repeatedly returning to settings.
  • The same context menu lets users pick between 10-bit and 12-bit color, reducing file sizes where 10-bit color depth is sufficient.
  • Unlike Apple’s Camera app, you can also turn on ProRAW, and it will stay on even if you leave Halide and return to it later, although turning it on and forgetting it’s on will fill your storage fast.

I have only just begun experimenting with Halide’s new ProRAW support, but I like the context menu for quickly changing format and color depth settings a lot. The added flexibility the app provides for which formats are captured and the color depth used are welcome, too, but it will take some time to get a better sense of which to pick in different scenarios.

ProRAW is a fascinating combination of traditional RAW and computational photography that provides hints about where Apple may be headed with its camera sensors. I highly recommend Sandofsky’s article, which is the best explanation I’ve seen of what is happening under the hood with ProRAW and what the format means for beginner and expert photographers alike.

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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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