Our next meeting is on Thursday 16 November 2017 at 19h00.
Set Subject is: Print in Monochrome
There's an incredibly talented online community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers who spend their free time bringing iconic black-and-white photography to life in color. You typically find their work on Facebook, Reddit, or occasionally featured on photo blogs, but we've never seen it published in any official printed capacity we'd want to display on a coffee table... until now.
Retrographic: History's Most Exciting Images Transformed Into Living Color is a photo book released in September that any photo lover would be proud to own and display. A labor of love created alongside the aforementioned colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers, the book is the brain-child of author, photo-curator, and Royal Photographic Society member Michael D. Carroll.
"Through the careful selection of striking images and dedicated colorization research, Retrographic takes the reader on a visual tour of the distant past," explains Carroll. "Many of these moments are already burned into our collective memory through the power of photography as shared by people across the 190-year long Age of the Image. And now, these visual time capsules are collected together for the first time and presented in living color."
The book contains 120 images in all, including some of the most iconic and influential in history—The Burning Monk, V-J Day in Times Square, The Wright Brothers' First Flight, and many many more. As Carroll explained to us over email, the idea was to present people with a photographic history they could more easily relate to:
There is a tendency for people of the present to look back at history in black and white, which can be highly aesthetic in that black and white makes the subject look pleasing to many people. However, black and white can make the viewer feel detached from the subject. We hope that adding color breathes life into historical images and reconnects people to those who went before and helps us to understand and empathize with them.
And if the colorized photos aren't enough, the book's remaining 73 pages are filled will "informational gems" and narrative, including a forward by Royal Photographic Society Ambassador Jeff Vickers.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Our #6 gallery was looked through more than 1.3 million times. So what product attracted this number of eyeballs? Why, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art lens of course.
Oh the portraits you will take! This lens is capable of outstanding image quality – read our full review and find out why we gave it a gold award. Not only that, it's one of the most affordable 85mm F1.4 lens available. So peak through our gallery and see just what all the hype is about.
#10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
#9: Fujifilm GFX 50S
#8: Nikon D7500
#7: Olympus Tough TG-5
#6: Sigma 85mm F1.4
#5: To be revealed on 11/20
#4: To be revealed on 11/21
#3: To be revealed on 11/22
#2: To be revealed on 11/23
#1: To be revealed on 11/24
The bride and groom, Tim and Kylie, were married two years ago in Long Beach and between all the formalities and rainy weather they were left feeling a little empty handed and did not get the photos they imagined. They wanted to remarry and to be intentional about making their day about everything they could ever imagine.
They are both very into fitness and outdoorsy people
None of us had been to Norway prior. We were worried about there being crowds at the Trolltunga or the visibility upon arriving to the top. We checked the weather every day for a week before arriving and every day it said it would be sunny. But on the day of their wedding, heavy rains were in the forecast. Although it rained throughout the hike, we miraculously had somewhat of clear skies with epic clouds that added a little bit of drama to the composition of the photos.
The hike took us a little longer than it typically would: 14 hours total. We all had backpacks weighing around 35lbs. We also had rogue weather... it would be windy, raining and then just stop. Although it was definitely physically difficult, your brain is so stimulated from being surrounded by such beauty that it makes it enjoyable. There is some out of this world scenery and half the time you can't even believe what's around you.
It is our instruct as humans to want to capture what is around us to make it last and sink in. So as you can imagine being in an unbelievable place with something around every corner you want to snap every second. But on this particular hike the main goal was to be intentional in capturing the story of what was happening, really zoning in on the dialog between the couple and place.
For me, this particular wedding and photos represent one of the biggest challenges I've come across in shooting photography: the mental game. I literally had to jump over obstacle after obstacle, but pushing through always pays off. There's nothing like being at the top of an immense landscape or mountain, literally or figuratively, looking into your viewfinder, and knowing that everything that came before was so worth it.
Nick Falangas is a professional photographer, half of the husband and wife duo that make up Priscila Valentina Photography. He is constantly striving to push the boundaries and create exceptional photography.
Photographer Ryan Earl and filmmaker Nick Arcivos of AmnesiArt recently created an extremely impressive cinematic short film. Impressive not only because the shots were gorgeous, well-planned, and well-executed... but also because the entire thing was shot on an iPhone X.
The film is called 'Made in Paris', and it's a cinematic portrait of Elise Lepinteur, protégée of world-famous pastry chef Christophe Adam.
It was shot and edited over the course of four days, but unlike Matteo Bertoli's recent 4K iPhone X short film, Nick didn't shy away from using a little bit of gear to help take the shots to the next level.
"We produced and edited this short piece in only 4 days with the help of Gitzo monopods, a DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal and a Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal," he tells DPReview. "For the macro shots, we used iPro Lenses by Schneider Optics. The audio was recorded with a Rode Lavalier Mic, Rode NTG3 Shotgun and a Zoom H4N, and we also used a Marsace MT-01 table tripod and a cheap Andoer mini dolly."
For lighting, Nick tells us they used three LED lights: a Litepanels MicroPro, a Yongnuo YN300 Air Pro, and a Litepanels Astra 1x1. For the interview, they only used the MicroPro and the Astra 1x1.
Here are a few behind the scenes photos that Nick shared with us, showing how some of the shots in the film above were captured:
As for how the phone performed, Nick and Ryan were seriously impressed:
We were blown away by the quality of the OLED screen, its size is perfect for monitoring the shoot. Results are even better than last year iPhone 7, colors are more vibrant, and we found the dynamic range was improved.
Apple also finally provided the option of shooting 24 FPS in the Camera app. Before, we had to essentially rely on Filmic Pro, so this time we only used it for the fridge and flour (slo-mo) shots. It was the only way for us to monitor and start recording with the Filmic Remote app.
Does the final footage match what you could capture with a more serious video camera like the Panasonic GH5 or a cinema monster like the Arri Alexa? No, definitely not. But Nick and Ryan summed up our thoughts well when they said, "when we look at the results, even for us as pro filmmakers, it is hard to believe it was shot on a smartphone."
Check out the full video up top, scroll through some beautiful screen grabs below, and then visit the AmnesiArt website and YouTube Channel for even more filmmaking goodness to inspire you this Friday afternoon.
All photos by Ryan Earl and Nick Arcivos, and used with permission.
Few would argue that in 2017 the mobile device industry is a major driver of imaging hardware innovation. Long gone are the days when the size of the image sensor and the aperture were the major determining factors for image quality. Instead, phone manufacturers have turned to software and computational imaging methods to achieve better detail, wider dynamic range and lower noise levels, as well as high-quality zooming and DSLR-like bokeh effects.
High-powered chipsets with built-in image signal processors and sensors with very fast read-out times make it possible to combine image data that is captured by dual-lenses, or several frames recorded in quick succession, within milliseconds. These methods produce image quality that would have been unthinkable on a smartphone only a few years ago and often surpasses basic compact cameras.
Thanks to those advances in software, but also new hardware concepts, such as dual-cameras, hybrid AF-systems and more powerful image signal processors, current smartphone cameras are better than ever before. Here is our selection of the best models available in 2017, noting where their particular strengths lie.
Dual 12MP-camera | 28/52mm equiv. focal lengths | F1.8 and F2.4 apertures | OIS | 4K/60fps video | 5.8-inch display
Apple's brand new flagship iPhone X pulls all the technological plugs and comes with features and specifications that we haven't seen on any iPhones or even other smartphones before. The iPhone X offers a marginally faster F2.4 telephoto lens than its cousin iPhone 8 Plus and, compared to last year's 7 Plus, adds optical image stabilization in the telephoto lens. On the video side of things the X is capable of recording 4K footage at 60 frames per second and slow-motion clips at 1080p resolution and 240fps.
As you would expect, all the new technology has a boosting effect on image quality and the iPhone X is currently ranked second on DxOMark.com, behind only the Google Pixel 2, and with the currently highest Photo score of 101 points.
But the iPhone X not only offers outstanding image quality, it improves on the imaging viewing experience too. The iPhone X's wide gamut OLED is the most color accurate device on the market, partially thanks to iOS' internal color management but also because of display calibration. That's a benefit to anyone who takes and looks at photos on their mobile device.
The device also comes with a number of innovative features. Portrait Lighting is an AI-powered feature in beta that works with front and rear cameras. It allows users to apply different lighting styles on top of simulated-bokeh-portraits. The iPhone X also used Face-ID to unlock the device, relying on an array of cameras and sensors at the top of the edge-to-edge display.
What we like: Excellent detail and dynamic range, natural bokeh mode, 4K video at 60 fps
What we don't like: Price, underexposure and red-eye with flash
Dual-camera | 16MP 1/3.1" / F1.6 / OIS main camera | 13MP / F1.9 super-wide-angle | 4K/30fps video | manual video control | 6.0-inch display
The LG V30 is the Korean manufacturer's latest flagship smartphone and comes with an unusual dual-camera setup. Instead of a telephoto lens the V30 offers a secondary super-wide-angle that lets you squeeze more scene into the frame, without the need for accessory lenses.
The V30 also sets itself apart from the competition with a very comprehensive video mode that comes with manual control over shutter speed and sound recording levels, among many other parameters. You can also choose from 15 new Cine Effect color presets that are based on film genres and the Point Zoom mode allows for stable zooming into a target in the frame rather than the center.
In testing for our forthcoming review we found the V30 to deliver excellent video image quality. Still images are good as well, with wide dynamic range and good sharpness across the frame, but levels of detail lag just a touch behind the very best on the main camera and can be pretty low on the super-wide-angle. Still, the V30 is an excellent option for mobile videographers and those who appreciate a super-wide-angle.
What we like: Great video feature set and stabilization, super-wide-angle offers new framing options, excellent display
What we don't like: Poor detail on super-wide-angle, zoom quality, no bokeh mode
Dual-camera | 12MP / F1.7 / 26mm main camera | 12MP / F2.4 / 52mm | OIS | 4K/30fps video | 6.3-inch display
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the Korean company's late entry to the dual-camera game but has immediately set new standards. The camera module combines a 26mm equivalent 12MP wide-angle module with a 52mm equivalent tele camera.
The secondary camera comes with a smaller sensor and slower aperture than the main module, but together with the iPhone X the Note 8 is one of very few dual-cam smartphones to offer optical image stabilization in both lenses. In DxOMark's Mobile testing the dual-camera setup achieves outstanding results, including the best zoom performance among all current smartphones. Good detail and a natural looking bokeh mode also contribute to the high overall score of 94 points.
In the video department the Note 8 comes with 4K resolution and a 240fps slow-motion option. With its massive 6.3" Quad-HD+ display and S-Pen stylus the Note 8 is also an interesting option for those photographers who like image editing on the device. It stands up very well in our comparison against the iPhone X, making it a great option for any Android user.
What we like: Class-leading zoom, large display and stylus, good bokeh mode
What we don't like: Lower DR than some competitors, price
12.2MP 1/2.6" sensor | F1.8 aperture | OIS | 4K/30fps video | 5.0-inch display
The original Pixel was one of last year's best smartphones and there is no doubt version two is following right in its footsteps. The Pixel 2 is one of the few current high-end smartphones with a single-lens camera but it makes up for a secondary camera with a host of advanced Google software features.
Despite a slightly smaller image sensor than on the predecessor, the Pixel 2 achieves excellent dynamic range and very good detail in all conditions, earning it the best overall performance and the current top spot in the DxOMark Mobile ranking. Testers were also impressed with the video mode that combines optical and electronic stabilization for ultra-smooth footage.
The Pixel 2 might have to make do without a secondary lens but thanks to Google's software wizardry and Dual Pixel technology (split left/right pixels) it's still capable of creating a usable fake bokeh Portrait Mode effect, and digital zoom has improved over the previous generation as well.
Early Pixel 2 adopters have reported some display troubles but Google has taken measures to fix them, making the Pixel 2 an easy recommendation for any mobile photographer. As a bonus the device comes with an integrated but currently dormant image processor called Visual Core. When it's activated via a software update in the near future, it should give the Pixel 2's image quality another boost.
What we like: Class-leading detail and dynamic range, excellent hybrid video stabilization, "pure" Android operating system
What we don't like: Display issues on early units, lower zoom and bokeh performance than closest competitors
Dual-camera | 12MP RGB and 20MP monochrome sensors | F1.6 aperture | OIS | 4K/30fps video | 6.0-inch display
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is not a cheap smartphone but will cost you significantly less than the Leica M10 or pretty much any other Leica camera for that matter. So, if you always wanted to carry a Leica in your pocket but are strapped for cash, the Huawei device might be a good compromise. It doesn't come with the famous red dot but, like the P10 and several other recent Huawei smartphones it has a Leica badge right next to its camera module.
It's not all about the badge though. The Mate 10 Pro comes with an innovative dual-camera setup that combines a 12MP RGB sensor with a 20MP monochrome chip. Image data from both sensors is combined computationally to achieve better detail, increased dynamic range and lower noise levels. The high-resolution monochrome sensor also allows for a 2x lossless zoom and a unique Huawei feature: a monochrome mode that doesn't simply convert RGB images, but captures black and white images natively.
And Huawei isn't relying on hardware alone on the Mate 10 Pro. AI and neural networking are applied to improve the quality of the fake bokeh mode and power the automatic scene selection's object recognition. Motion detection reduces motion blur in low light conditions.
The combination of innovative hardware and software concepts pays off and at 97 points the Mate 10 Pro achieves one of the best overall scores on DxOMark, tying the iPhone X for second place in the ranking.
What we like: Great detail in low light, monochrome mode, decent zoom and bokeh
What we don't like: Limited slow-motion video options
Traditional camera manufacturers fail beginner photographers over and over.
They'll gladly sell you a camera with a kit lens, but they've struggled to help beginners with any of the challenges that come after taking it out of the box.
It's not for lack of trying; every manufacturer has some form of beginner-friendly mode that will tell you how to open the aperture wider for sharp subjects with blurry backgrounds. But when you put a slow kit lens on a typical entry-level camera, you quickly find that there's more to it than just opening or closing the aperture.
And as your memory cards fill up with photos, you realize there's so much more to photography than just pointing a nice camera at a subject – from composition to editing to how the heck do I get these off my camera and on to my phone so I can share them? It ends up being a frustrating experience, and that nice new camera ends up on a shelf at home.
I recently paid a visit to a little boutique on University Avenue in Palo Alto that's taking a radical approach to bringing photography to beginners.
Relonch doesn't sell anything you can walk out of the store with, and it's not a hardware company. Their 'Photo Club' lends out its Relonch 291 camera free of charge. Specifically, it's a Samsung NX camera stitched up inside a brightly colored leather case. Only the viewfinder, shutter button and diopter are exposed – no LCD, no dials, everything else is off limits.
I know, I know, to a seasoned photographer, this is a vision of hell. But for a beginner who doesn't really want those things, it's kind of genius.
Here's how it works: you reserve the camera in advance and borrow it for, say, the length of a vacation. The camera uses a 4G data connection to automatically send a preview of each photo taken to a companion app. The previews are just that – they're screenshot-proof because they're sepia-toned and watermarked. You select the photos you want to keep at a $1 each. At that point they're sent to the cloud for processing, and back to your app where they're yours to keep.
Interestingly, instead of a kit zoom Relonch 291 comes with a fast prime attached. And you aren't just handed a camera when you walk in the door – you also get a crash course in photographic composition.
During this lesson there's no mention of shutter speeds or f-stops because there's no need – the camera handles all of that. Instead, it focuses on getting the user to try different composition techniques that take advantage of the shallow depth of field afforded by the lens and larger sensor.
Yuri Motin, a Relonch co-founder, takes me through the introductory session that a typical customer gets when first picking up a camera. And let me tell you, it is a rare customer experience. Nobody at Best Buy ever made a cup of Cuban espresso for someone buying their first DSLR.
|Relonch automatically processes Raw images, making adjustments to exposure, white balance, sharpening and so on. This is a photo Yuri took of me with one of the cameras. Bless the facial-recognition-skin-smoothing algorithm that produced this image.|
A little cafe setup at the camera club allows you to try focus-and-recompose to put either your subject or the coffee in front of them in focus. Another scenario I'm guided through is using the handle of a suitcase to frame Yuri in the background, pretending to charge his phone while sitting on the floor. It's a common scene to anyone in an airport, but an opportunity for a candid portrait that many beginning photographers would overlook.
|I didn't frame this exactly how Yuri told me to but he gave me a passing grade anyway.|
Relonch has cleverly addressed many of the pains beginning photographers feel. Sending the images to your smartphone happens automatically. Curation is built in – instead of coming home with hundreds of photos, you have only your favorites. The fast prime lens offers much shallower depth-of-field than your typical slow kit zoom, and the composition lesson helps first time photographers use it to their advantage.
And then there's the look of the thing – the brightly colored leather case gives the camera a dual purpose as a fashionable accessory. It's not a look everyone will want to sport, but if you ask me it's miles ahead of any attempt by Canon or Nikon to dress up an entry-level DSLR.
Relonch announced its 291 camera just under a year ago, and at that point planned to loan cameras at a rate of $100 per month, with the same image editing process baked in. There was a catch, though – only your best photos were delivered to your mobile device, and they didn't arrive until the next day.
In the end, Relonch launched with a pricing plan that's easier to stomach, and the service is now aimed clearly at travelers. And that's a pretty smart move, because I hear this line a lot:
"I'm going to [insert exotic location here] and want to take better photos than my phone takes, what camera should I buy?"
That answer is getting more and more expensive, because the difference between what your phone and a $500 camera can do is rapidly shrinking. Paying by the photo rather than sinking a grand into a camera system you may or may not continue to use after the trip sounds like a fair value proposition.
And it's also true that these days people, especially 'The Youths', seem perfectly happy to pay a little bit at a time for something they don't own, rather than invest a lot of money up front to own it. Not all that long ago it seemed unfathomable to pay a fee every month to access your music collection, or drive a car you don't own and pay by the hour. But the Spotify-ing, Zipcar-ing generation is happily embracing a life owning less.
Still, there's another hurdle in the way. Relonch's business model may have partially been made possible by the smartphone, but it's a double-edged sword: smartphone cameras might just become good enough to render it unnecessary.
Yuri isn't worried about that. When I ask him what Relonch thinks of the rise of bokeh imitating Portrait Modes, he says they welcome more beautiful photos in the world. He doesn't see the smartphone as a competitor, because he believes that once they try it, Relonch's members prefer the participatory experience of taking photographs with a traditional camera, with a viewfinder. And with curation built into the experience, Relonch's customers end up with photos they want to revisit again and again.
But does that audience really exist? I'm less convinced. While that may be true for a small portion of the photo-taking population, camera makers know all too well that there are plenty of people whose desire to carry less stuff around overrides the appeal of using a dedicated camera, no matter how much better it is. If Relonch is counting on growing its business they'll have to tap into a market that seems to be happily retreating to their increasingly capable smartphones.
Relonch might not in the end survive the rise of smartphone photography, but it seems to me that they're onto something. You certainly can't beat the smartphone by insisting that every camera user learn the intricacies of exposure and post-processing to get the results they want. Smartphones – and to an extent Relonch – meet these consumers partway and do the rest of the leg work.
It's time to pay attention, traditional camera manufacturers of the world.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At #7 we have the Olympus Tough TG-5. And here we thought the compact camera market was dead!
All joking aside, this is a lovely little camera. Read why we called it 'best rugged compact you can buy right now.' It features a 25-100mm equiv zoom lens and has a hermetically sealed body making it waterproof down to 15m/50ft, drop proof from 2.1m/7ft, crush proof up to 100kg/220lb and freezeproof to -10C/+14F.
And for more on the TG-5 here's another full gallery we shot with it on a trip to the Washington Coast:
#10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
#9: Fujifilm GFX 50S
#8: Nikon D7500
#7: Olympus Tough TG-5
#6: To be revealed on 11/19
#5: To be revealed on 11/20
#4: To be revealed on 11/21
#3: To be revealed on 11/22
#2: To be revealed on 11/23
#1: To be revealed on 11/24