Posts with «cameras & photography» label

Insta360’s X4 captures 8K 360-degree video

There’s a cult following for 360-degree cameras. While companies like GoPro and Ricoh continue to dabble in the category, Insta360 simply dominates it. Until today, the X3 was the ultimate 360 camera, with loads of features and shooting modes that were relatively easy to use. Insta360’s collection of selfie sticks, guards, cases and peripherals added even more cool tricks like bullet time effects and fast-zoom video effects. A few years later, we’re getting the Insta360 X4, with improvements prioritizing the fundamentals. There are higher-resolution camera sensors, a bigger battery and even more versatility, thanks to multiple resolutions and framerate options.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The Insta360 X4 doesn’t look hugely different from the X3. It has the same candy bar form factor, with two huge wide-angle lenses either side. It does seem more elongated, but I had no issue cramming it into my pocket during a week of testing.

The new camera has removable lens guards, which is an intelligent design improvement. Any damage or scratch to the lens will likely affect image quality, especially when it’s exposed in … adventurous settings. Previously, Insta360 offered sticky lens covers, but the X4 new lens has guards that can be twisted on and off the camera sensors. And they come included in the box, which is nice.

Both the USB-C port and battery compartment, where the microSD slot lives, are protected by solid covers with sliding locks. The Insta360 X4’s Type-C port now supports USB 3.0 speeds, arguably necessary when dealing with these higher-resolution videos and bigger files.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The button layout remains streamlined and familiar to anyone who’s used Insta360 cameras before. There’s a circular ‘shoot’ button (voice and gesture shooting options are built-in, too, but they’re a little less reliable), a mode switcher, a programmable Q button, and the power button. The 2.5-inch touchscreen is bigger, too, and most settings are only a few swipes away. It feels like using a smartphone, which helps make it intuitive.

However, the sheer versatility means there are a lot of menus to peruse. I never felt overwhelmed but during testing, I never quite managed to get Bullet Time and Time Shift to work anywhere near as well as I’ve seen on YouTube.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

Newcomers can power up the X4 immediately and capture video and stills without too much struggle. Naturally, for those who know what they’re doing, this is where things get fun.

The technical improvements focus on video, with the new ability to record footage at up to 8K 30fps or 5.7k at 60fps. Slow-mo video has been boosted up to 4K resolution, too. Insta360’s Me Mode, which captures traditional ‘flat’ video (in combination with its ‘invisible’ selfie stick), has been upgraded to 4K 30fps. In short, it captures more of everything compared to its predecessor. More pixels mean more detail with 360-degree video (or any capture mode). It also ensures that when you crop down to create clips for social media, the footage doesn’t appear too low-res. Plus, Insta360 claims that stepping down to 5.7K resolution to record video will offer better performance in low light, which seemed true during my tests indoors and in the evening.

Insta360 has considered the increased processing demands of higher-resolution content. The X4 has a 2,290mAh battery, 67 percent bigger than the X3's. According to the press release, it should be able to capture video for up to 135 minutes.

While we’re focusing on the upgrades, a lot of Insta360’s best camera features are carryovers from the X3. 360-degree horizon lock keeps all your footage level regardless of how you hold the X4, and there’s still impressive image stabilization and waterproofing up to 33 feet. While the X3 fixed many of the biggest problems with capturing 360-degree video, the X4 has boosted fidelity to the point where it’s possible to capture polished footage without much effort.

The X4 is now available to order directly from Insta360, priced at $499.99. That is $100 more than its predecessor but still less than the company’s pro-level $800 camera, the One RS 1-inch 360 Edition.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/insta360-x4-release-date-price-first-impressions-130001066.html?src=rss

Blackmagic's DaVinci Resolve 19 arrives with AI-powered motion tracking and color grading

Blackmagic Design released its annual NAB 2024 update and announced over a dozen new products, including a new version of its popular DaVinci Resolve editing suite. Other key products include the Micro Color Panel for DaVinci Resolve on iPad, a 17K 65mm camera and the Pyxis 6K cube camera.

Davinci Resolve 19

DaVinci Resolve has become a popular option for editors who don't want to pay a monthly subscription for Adobe's Premiere Pro, and is arguably more powerful in some ways. The latest version 19 takes a page from its rival, though, with a bunch of new AI-powered features for effects, color, editing, audio and more. 

DaVinci Resolve 19 'Color Slice' tool
Blackmagic Design

Starting with the Edit module, a new feature lets you edit clips using text instead of video. Transcribing clips opens a window showing text detected from multiple speakers, letting you remove sections, search through text and more. Other features include a new trim window, fixed play head (reducing zooming and scrolling), a window that makes changing audio attributes faster and more.

The Color tool introduces "Color Slice," a way to adjust an image based on six vectors (red, green, blue, yellow, cyan and magenta) along with a special skin tone slider. For instance, you can adjust any of those specific colors, easily changing the levels of saturation and hues, while seeing and adjusting the underlying key. The dedicated skin slider will no doubt make it attractive for quick skin tone adjustments. 

DaVinci Resolve 19 Intellitrack
Blackmagic Design

Another key feature in Color is the "IntelliTrack" powered by a neural engine AI that lets you quickly select points to track to create effects or stabilize an image. Blackmagic also added a new Lightroom-like AI-powered noise reduction system that quickly removes digital noise or film grain from images with no user tweaking required. 

"Film Look Creator" is a new module that opens up color grading possibilities with over 60 filmic parameters. It looks fairly easy to use, as you can start with a preset (default 65mm, cinematic, bleach bypass, nostalgic) and then tweak parameters to taste. Another new trick is "Defocus Background," letting users simulate a shallow depth of focus via masking in a realistic way (unlike smartphones), while Face Refinement tracks faces so editors tweak brightness, colors, detail and more. 

The Fusion FX editor adds some new tools that ease 3D object manipulation and on the audio (Fairlight) side, BMD introduced the "Dialogue Separator FX" to separate dialogue, background or ambience. DaVinci Resolve 19 is now in open beta for everyone to try, with no word yet on a date for the full release. As usual, it costs $295 for the the Studio version and the main version is free. 

Micro Color Panel

Blackmagic Design

BMD's DaVinci Resolve for iPad proved to be a popular option for editors on the go, and now the company has introduced a dedicated control surface with the new Micro Color Panel. It'll offer editors control that goes well beyond the already decent Pencil and multitouch input, while keeping a relatively low profile at 7.18 x 14.33 inches. 

A slot at the top front lets you slide in your iPad, and from there you can connect via Bluetooth or USB-C. The company promises a "professional" feel to the controls, which consist of three weighted trackballs, 12 control dials and 27 buttons. With those, you can perform editors, tweak parameters like shadows, hues and highlights, and even do wipes and other effects.

"The old DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel model has been popular with customers wanting a compact grading panel, but we wanted to design an even more portable and affordable solution," said Blackmagic Design President Grant Petty. It's now on pre-order for $509

Pyxis 6K camera

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Design is following rivals like RED, Sony and Panasonic with a new box-style camera, the Pyxis 6K full-frame camera. The idea is that you start with the basic brain (controls, display, CFexpress media, brain and sensor), then use side plates or mounting screws to attach accessories like handles, microphones and SSDs. It's also available with Blackmagic's URSA Cine EVF (electronic viewfinder) that adds $2,000 to the price. 

Its specs are very similar to the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K I tested late last year. The native resolution is 24-megapixels (6K) on a full 36 x 24mm sensor that allows for up to 13 stops of dynamic range with dual native ISO up to 25,600. It can record 12-bit Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) directly to the CFexpress Type B cards or an SSD.

It also supports direct streaming to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch and others via RTMP and SRT either via Ethernet or using a cellular connection. Since the streaming is built into the camera, customers and csee stream status and data rate directly in the viewfinder or LCD. The Pyxis 6K arrives in June for $2,995 with three mounts (Canon EF, Leica L and Arri PL). 

Blackmagic URSA Cine 12K and 17K

Blackmagic Design

Along with the Pyxis, Blackmagic introduced a pair of cinema cameras, the URSA Cine 12K and 17K models. Yes, those numbers represent the resolution of those two cameras, with the first offering a full-frame sensor 36 x 24mm with 12K resolution (12,888 x 6,480 17:9) at up a fairly incredible 100 fps. The second features a 65mm (50.8 x 23.3 sensor) with 17,520 x 8,040 resolution offering up to 16 stops of dynamic range. 

Both models will come with features like built-in ND filters, an optical low pass filter and BMD's latest gen 5.0 color science. The URSA Cine 12K will come with 8TB of internal storage, or you can use your own CFexpress media. Other features include live streaming, a high-resolution EVF, V-battery support, wireless Bluetooth camera control and more. The URSA Cine 12K model is on pre-order for $14,995 (with a copy of DaVinci Resolve), with April availability. The URSA Cine 17K is under development, with no pricing or release yet announced. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/blackmagics-davinci-resolve-19-arrives-with-ai-powered-motion-tracking-and-color-grading-090013746.html?src=rss

The new Blink Mini 2 home security camera is on sale for only $30 right now

The Blink Mini 2 home security camera was only announced a month ago, and it’s already on sale. The camera is 25 percent off in both colors — black and white — in a deal on Amazon, bringing the already budget-friendly system down to just $30. The Blink Mini 2 can be used indoors or outdoors, offers HD footage in the daytime or at night and has an LED spotlight. It can be paired with one of Amazon’s smart displays for Alexa voice controls. The camera is a plug-in device, though, so you’ll need to place it somewhere with an outlet.

You’ll also need to pick up the weather-resistant power adapter if you intend to put it outside. A bundle including that adapter is on sale as well, shaving $10 off its normal price of $50. Amazon-owned Blink announced the Mini 2 camera in March, touting improvements to image quality and the option for HD night view in color thanks to its spotlight. The camera also has motion detection and two-way audio, so you can hear what’s going on and, if you want, let whoever’s on the other side hear you too.

With the Blink subscription, you can get additional features out of the Mini 2. That includes smart notifications, like person detection, the ability to stream up to 90 minutes of live video and cloud storage for event clips. If you already own a Blink Video Doorbell, the Mini 2 camera can be used with that system to work as a chime when someone rings the doorbell. In the box you’ll get one camera, a mounting kit and stand, and one USB-C cable and power adapter for indoor use.

Purchasing the Mini 2 will get you a 30-day free trial of the Blink Subscription Plan, too. If you plan on keeping it after that, it’ll cost $3 per month per device. You can also opt to pay $10 per month to cover an unlimited amount of devices if you have a multi-camera setup.

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This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-new-blink-mini-2-home-security-camera-is-on-sale-for-only-30-right-now-144843425.html?src=rss

DJI's RS4 gimbals make it easier to balance heavy cameras and accessories

DJI occasionally knocks us sideways with cutting-edge innovation à la the Ronin 4D, but it's usually just refining existing products to stay ahead of rivals. That applies to the new RS4 and RS4 Pro gimbals, which boast multiple improvements over the previous RS3 models, particularly in the size and capacity of cameras they can support, but no new standout features. 

However, the company also unveiled the Focus Pro, a new version of its LiDAR focus system that works either standalone or with the RS4 Pro. This product is more on the cutting-edge side, adding a host of new capabilities to the company's gimbal and camera systems. 

DJI RS4

The mainstream RS4 gimbal is largely the same as the last model, with a carrying capacity of 6.6 pounds (3kg) that accommodates most mirrorless cameras and a good load of accessories. However, the tilt axis has been extended 8.5mm compared to the RS 3, giving you more balancing space for longer lenses or front-heavy add-ons like ND filters. It also uses DJI's latest 4th-gen stabilization algorithm for improved smoothness and control.

DJI

The RS4 can pair with the new Focus Pro Motor (more about that in a sec), allowing smooth focus and lens zoom adjustments at a speed 30 percent faster compared to the original DJI Focus Motor. As before, it uses dual-mode Bluetooth tech so you can pair with and control multiple cameras. 

Another new feature is improved stability in vertical shooting, steadying jolts for the influencer crowd even when walking or running. The redesigned gimbal horizontal plates allows for "seamless transitions to vertical shooting," the company said, allowing for more efficiency in video creation (to let you quickly get out an Insta Story while filming, for example). 

DJI

As before, it comes with automatic gimbal locking and unlocking for ease of use, along with Teflon coatings on all three axes for smooth operation. A new joystick mode switch lets you change from zoom to gimbal control and the customizable trigger can quickly turn on the FPV mode.

The RS4 supports multiple accessories via the RSA communication port, including DJI's RS Tethered Control Handle and third-party options (DJI has an SDK protocol for the RS family). IT also supports the new BG70 High-Capacity Battery Grip that extends runtime to 29.5 hours with a 2.5 hour charge time (compared to , while supporting power delivery to camera and USB-C accessories.

Finally, the RS4 supports DJI's Ronin Image Transmitter, delivering live-action high-definition feeds to other crew members and allowing for remote-control (focus, etc.) capabilities. 

DJI RS4 Pro

DJI

The RS4 Pro ups the carrying capacity to 10 pounds (4.5kg) as before, while adding side handles and extra mounting points for accessories. It adds a 20 percent motor torque boost to all axes (compared to the RS 3 Pro) to allow for more responsive tracking even with heavy cameras and accessories. 

DJI also introduced a car mount mode, optimizing the stabilizer for vehicle shoots, while updating vertical shooting capability and improving axis locks. Like the RS4, it has DJI's latest 4th-gen stabilization algorithm that's particularly helpful for fast-moving scenes when carrying a heavy camera.

DJI

The primary new capability is functionality with the Focus Pro LiDAR and Focus Pro Motor system, giving cinematographers autofocus capability even with manual focus lenses. It also supports remote control and image transmission, "allowing for remote gimbal operation and intelligent focus assistance," according to the company.

"In collaborative team shooting, the gimbal operator can control the RS 4 Pro gimbal through devices such as the DJI Master Wheels, DJI Ronin 4D Hand Grips, and DJI High-Bright Remote Monitor. Meanwhile, the focus puller can enable LiDAR Waveform on the High-Bright Remote Monitor for intelligent focus assistance, precisely controlling focus using the Focus Pro Hand Unit," DJI says. 

DJI Focus Pro

DJI

For creators and cinematographers, the Focus Pro is the most intriguing product in this release. It's a LiDAR focus system consisting of the Focus Pro LiDAR unit, Focus Pro Grip, Focus Pro Motor and FIZ Hand Unit. It gives the operator autofocus capability even with manual lenses, or lets them focus manually via a real-time view from the LiDAR's perspective.

The grip has a full-color touchscreen, 2.5-hour power supply, intuitive visual operation, auto-calibration and data storage for 15 lenses, along with Bluetooth capability for easy start/stop recording. The LiDAR, meanwhile, supports focus at up to 20 meters (three times more than before), and has an ultra-wide 70-degree view for focus. IT has 76,800 ranging points and a 30Hz refresh rate to minimize focus hunting and ensure reliable focus. 

DJI

Autofocus includes AF subject recognition and tracking, adjustable focus speed and selectable focus area modes, much like a regular mirrorless AF system. The AMF (auto-manual focus) mode, meanwhile, allows for instant switching between manual and autofocus for tricky shooting scenarios. It also helps camera or focus operators by showing the LiDAR waveform. I tried something similar with the Ronin 4D, and while it takes a while to get used to, it's very effective.

The FIZ Hand Unit allows full remote control over focus, iris and zoom for focus pullers. It uses stepless real-time damping for smooth control, while letting the focus puller be up to 160 meters away. Other features including faster motor speeds, 10ms latency and intuitive dial operation. 

Price and availability

The DJI RS 4 is now available for purchase starting at $549 and includes one Gimbal, BG21 Battery Grip, USB-C Charging Cable, Lens-Fastening Support, Extended Grip/Tripod (Plastic), Quick-Release Plate, Multi-Camera Control Cable, and Screw Kit. You can also pick it up for $719 in a combo with a Briefcase Handle, Focus Pro Motor, Focus Pro Motor Rod Mount Kit, Focus Gear Strip, a second Multi-Camera Control Cable, and one Carrying Case. The RS 4 Pro, meanwhile, starts at $869 or $1,099 with the high-capacity battery grip, with the same range of accessories for each.  

The Focus Pro creator combo (DJI Focus Pro LiDAR, DJI Focus Pro Grip, DJI Focus Pro Motor and DJI Focus Pro Carrying Case) is $999, or you can buy the All-in-One combo (with the FIZ Hand Unit as well) for $1,899. The RS BG70 high-capacity battery grip is sold for $149 by itself. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/djis-rs4-gimbals-make-it-easier-to-balance-heavy-cameras-and-accessories-130058134.html?src=rss

The best smartphone cameras for 2024: How to choose the phone with the best photography chops

I remember begging my parents to get me a phone with a camera when the earliest ones were launched. The idea of taking photos wherever I went was new and appealing, but it’s since become less of a novelty and more of a daily habit. Yes, I’m one of those. I take pictures of everything — from beautiful meals and funny signs to gorgeous landscapes and plumes of smoke billowing in the distance.

If you grew up in the Nokia 3310 era like me, then you know how far we’ve come. Gone are the 2-megapixel embarrassments that we used to post to Friendster with glee. Now, many of us use the cameras on our phones to not only capture precious memories of our adventures and loved ones, but also to share our lives with the world.

I’m lucky enough that I have access to multiple phones thanks to my job, and at times would carry a second device with me on a day-trip just because I preferred its cameras. But most people don’t have that luxury. Chances are, if you’re reading this, a phone’s cameras may be of utmost importance to you. But you’ll still want to make sure the device you end up getting doesn’t fall flat in other ways. At Engadget, we test and review dozens of smartphones every year; our top picks below represent not only the best phone cameras available right now, but also the most well-rounded options out there.

What to look for when choosing a phone for its cameras

Before scrutinizing a phone’s camera array, you’ll want to take stock of your needs — what are you using it for? If your needs are fairly simple, like taking photos and videos of your new baby or pet, most modern smartphones will serve you well. Those who plan to shoot for audiences on TikTok, Instagram or YouTube should look for video-optimizing features like stabilization and high frame rate support (for slow-motion clips).

Most smartphones today have at least two cameras on the rear and one up front. Those that cost more than $700 usually come with three, including wide-angle, telephoto or macro lenses. We’ve also reached a point where the number of megapixels (MP) doesn’t really matter anymore — most flagship phones from Apple, Samsung and Google have sensors that are either 48MP or 50MP. You’ll even come across some touting resolutions of 108MP or 200MP, in pro-level devices like the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

Most people won’t need anything that sharp, and in general, smartphone makers combine the pixels to deliver pictures that are the equivalent of 12MP anyway. The benefits of pixel-binning are fairly minor in phone cameras, though, and you’ll usually need to blow up an image to fit a 27-inch monitor before you’ll see the slightest improvements.

In fact, smartphone cameras tend to be so limited in size that there’s often little room for variation across devices. They typically use sensors from the same manufacturers and have similar aperture sizes, lens lengths and fields of view. So while it might be worth considering the impact of sensor size on things like DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, on a smartphone those differences are minimal.

Sensor size and field of view

If you still want a bit of guidance on what to look for, here are some quick tips: By and large, the bigger the sensor the better, as this will allow more light and data to be captured. Not many phone makers will list the sensor size in spec lists, so you’ll have to dig around for this info. A larger aperture (usually indicated by a smaller number with an “f/” preceding a digit) is ideal for the same reason, and it also affects the level of depth of field (or background blur) that’s not added via software. Since portrait modes are available on most phones these days, though, a big aperture isn’t as necessary to achieve this effect.

When looking for a specific field of view on a wide-angle camera, know that the most common offering from companies like Samsung and Google is about 120 degrees. Finally, most premium phones like the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S24 Ultra offer telephoto systems that go up to 5x optical zoom with software taking that to 20x or even 100x.

Processing and extra features

These features will likely perform at a similar quality across the board, and where you really see a difference is in the processing. Samsung traditionally renders pictures that are more saturated, while Google’s Pixel phones take photos that are more neutral and evenly exposed. iPhones have historically produced pictures with color profiles that seem more accurate, though in comparison to images from the other two, they can come off yellowish. However, that was mostly resolved after Apple introduced a feature in the iPhone 13 called Photographic Styles that lets you set a profile with customizable contrast levels and color temperature that would apply to every picture taken via the native camera app.

Pro users who want to manually edit their shots should see if the phone they’re considering can take images in RAW format. Those who want to shoot a lot of videos while on the move should look for stabilization features and a decent frame rate. Most of the phones we’ve tested at Engadget record at either 60 frames per second at 1080p or 30 fps at 4K. It’s worth checking to see what the front camera shoots at, too, since they’re not usually on par with their counterparts on the rear.

Finally, while the phone’s native editor is usually not a dealbreaker (since you can install a third-party app for better controls), it’s worth noting that the latest flagships from Samsung and Google all offer AI tools that make manipulating an image a lot easier. They also offer a lot of fun, useful extras, like erasing photobombers, moving objects around or making sure everyone in the shot has their eyes open.

How we test smartphone cameras

For the last few years, I’ve reviewed flagships from Google, Samsung and Apple, and each time, I do the same set of tests. I’m especially particular when testing their cameras, and usually take all the phones I’m comparing out on a day or weekend photo-taking trip. Any time I see a photo- or video-worthy moment, I whip out all the devices and record what I can, doing my best to keep all factors identical and maintain the same angle and framing across the board.

It isn’t always easy to perfectly replicate the shooting conditions for each camera, even if I have them out immediately after I put the last one away. Of course, having them on some sort of multi-mount rack would be the most scientific way, but that makes framing shots a lot harder and is not representative of most people’s real-world use. Also, just imagine me holding up a three-prong camera rack running after the poor panicked wildlife I’m trying to photograph. It’s just not practical.

For each device, I make sure to test all modes, like portrait, night and video, as well as all the lenses, including wide, telephoto and macro. When there are new or special features, I test them as well. Since different phone displays can affect how their pictures appear, I wanted to level the playing field: I upload all the material to Google Drive in full resolution so I can compare everything on the same large screen. Because the photos from today’s phones are of mostly the same quality, I usually have to zoom in very closely to see the differences. I also frequently get a coworker who’s a photo or video expert to look at the files and weigh in.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-camera-phone-130035025.html?src=rss

This camera captures 156.3 trillion frames per second

Scientists have created a blazing-fast scientific camera that shoots images at an encoding rate of 156.3 terahertz (THz) to individual pixels — equivalent to 156.3 trillion frames per second. Dubbed SCARF (swept-coded aperture real-time femtophotography), the research-grade camera could lead to breakthroughs in fields studying micro-events that come and go too quickly for today’s most expensive scientific sensors.

SCARF has successfully captured ultrafast events like absorption in a semiconductor and the demagnetization of a metal alloy. The research could open new frontiers in areas as diverse as shock wave mechanics or developing more effective medicine.

Leading the research team was Professor Jinyang Liang of Canada’s Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS). He’s a globally recognized pioneer in ultrafast photography who built on his breakthroughs from a separate study six years ago. The current research was published in Nature, summarized in a press release from INRS and first reported on by Science Daily.

Professor Liang and company tailored their research as a fresh take on ultrafast cameras. Typically, these systems use a sequential approach: capture frames one at a time and piece them together to observe the objects in motion. But that approach has limitations. “For example, phenomena such as femtosecond laser ablation, shock-wave interaction with living cells, and optical chaos cannot be studied this way,” Liang said.

SCARF
Institut national de la recherche scientifique

The new camera builds on Liang’s previous research to upend traditional ultrafast camera logic. “SCARF overcomes these challenges,” INRS communication officer Julie Robert wrote in a statement. “Its imaging modality enables ultrafast sweeping of a static coded aperture while not shearing the ultrafast phenomenon. This provides full-sequence encoding rates of up to 156.3 THz to individual pixels on a camera with a charge-coupled device (CCD). These results can be obtained in a single shot at tunable frame rates and spatial scales in both reflection and transmission modes.”

In extremely simplified terms, that means the camera uses a computational imaging modality to capture spatial information by letting light enter its sensor at slightly different times. Not having to process the spatial data at the moment is part of what frees the camera to capture those extremely quick “chirped” laser pulses at up to 156.3 trillion times per second. The images’ raw data can then be processed by a computer algorithm that decodes the time-staggered inputs, transforming each of the trillions of frames into a complete picture.

Remarkably, it did so “using off-the-shelf and passive optical components,” as the paper describes. The team describes SCARF as low-cost with low power consumption and high measurement quality compared to existing techniques.

Although SCARF is focused more on research than consumers, the team is already working with two companies, Axis Photonique and Few-Cycle, to develop commercial versions, presumably for peers at other higher learning or scientific institutions.

For a more technical explanation of the camera and its potential applications, you can view the full paper in Nature.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/this-camera-captures-1563-trillion-frames-per-second-184651322.html?src=rss

Sony A6700 review: The company’s best APS-C camera yet

Sony is so closely associated with full-frame mirrorless cameras that it’s easy to forget it also sells the A6000 APS-C lineup — particularly since the last one, the A6600, came out five long years ago in 2019. The flagship A6700 finally arrived last year, though, with a feature list that appeared to be worth the wait.

It’s the same price the A6600 was at launch four years ago, but addresses its predecessor’s main flaws by boosting resolution a bit and reducing rolling shutter. At the same time, it’s been likened to a mini-FX30 cinema camera as it has the same sensor and video capabilities.

I’ve never been a big fan of Sony’s A6000 series. But now that the A6700 has been out a while, I was keen to see if it lived up to some of the hype and how it compared to rival Canon and Fujifilm models. As you’ll see, it’s mostly good news with just a little bit of bad.

Body and handling

One of the things I’ve disliked about Sony’s APS-C bodies over the years is the usability and looks, especially compared to Fujifilm’s good-looking and easy-to-use models. I wouldn’t call the A6700 beautiful, but at least Sony has rectified the handling part.

The redesigned grip is larger and more comfortable, making it more comfortable to use over a full day. At the same time, Sony added a new control dial on the front, making the camera easier to use in manual or priority modes.

It includes a new dedicated photo, video and S&Q dial, letting you keep settings separate for each. Menus are a big step up too, as the A6700 uses the improved system from recent full-frame models. The only thing missing is a joystick, but the focus point can be adjusted using the d-pad-like dial on the back.

Steve Dent for Engadget

The A6700 is also the first Sony APS-C camera with an articulating display, so it’s better for vloggers than the flip-up display on past models. The relatively low resolution EVF is a weak point as it’s difficult at times to check focus, but it does the job most of the time. .

Another negative is the single card slot, but at least it supports high-speed UHS-II cards. Luckily, it has the same large battery as full-frame models, which gives it an excellent 570 shot CIPA rating.

Other features include microphone and headphone ports (along with support for Sony’s hot shoe audio accessories), a USB-C port for charging and data transfers and an HDMI port. The latter, unfortunately, is of the fiddly and fragile micro variety.

All of that adds up to a 6000-series camera I’d happily use for most types of work. Previously, I found those models not up to the job, especially for video.

Performance

Steve Dent for Engadget

Performance is more of a mixed bag, though. Lossless RAW bursts are possible at up to 11 fps, either in mechanical or electronic shutter modes. That compares to the 15 and 30fps for the similarly priced Canon EOS R7 and 15/20 fps for the Fujifilm X-T5. That’s quite a deficit considering the latter two have much higher resolution sensors.

The A6700 only stores up to 36 compressed RAW frames before the buffer fills, compared to 45 on the A6600 and comparable to rivals. Based strictly on speed, though, the R7 and X-T5 are better action cameras.

Fortunately, the autofocus is superb and that’s arguably more important for a consumer camera. In continuous mode, you’ll get reliable results even with fast moving subjects. And the AI tracking locks onto eyes and faces, ensuring you won’t miss important shots of rowdy kids, soccer games and more.

Steve Dent for Engadget

It also works with airplanes, animals, birds, cars or trains and insects. Unlike Canon’s auto system, though, you have to tell the A6700 exactly what you’re tracking. Once you’ve set it up the way you want, though, it’s a touch more reliable than Canon’s system, and significantly better than the X-T5..

The five-axis in-body stabilization is good but not great, offering 5 stops compared to 8 on the EOS R7 and 7 on the Fuji X-T5. Still, I was able to take sharp photos down to about an eighth of a second.

Rolling shutter was my main complaint with the A6600, but it’s now much improved and about as good as you get without a stacked sensor. It’s still present, though, so you’ll want to use the mechanical shutter for fast-moving subjects like propellers and trains.

Image Quality

With a new 26-megapixel sensor, The A6700 captures more detail than past 24-megapixel models. As mentioned, though, it’s lacking compared to the 32.5-megapixel Canon R7 and 40-megapixel X-T5.

Colors are mostly spot-on, but I still prefer Canon’s skin tones. JPEGs look good out of the camera, if a touch over-sharpened. With 14-bit RAW uncompressed files, I found plenty of room to adjust and tweak images, dialing down bright areas or adding detail to shadows. Keep in mind that when shooting bursts, though, RAW files are captured with only 12-bits of color fidelity.

There is a benefit to the lower resolution. The A6700 is better in low light than rivals, with noise well controlled up to ISO 6400. Images are usable up to ISO 12800, but anything beyond up to the ISO 102,400 limit is for emergency use only. It’s best to emphasize shadow exposure at high ISOs, as lifting those even a couple of stops creates excessive noise.

Video

The A6700 is so far above its predecessor for video that it’s useless to compare them. Rather, think of it as a cheaper, smaller FX30 cinema camera with the same image quality. The main difference is that the A6700 doesn’t have the same cooling capability, as I’ll discuss shortly.

It subsamples the full sensor width for 4K at 30 and 60 fps, so video is sharper than the X-T5 or R7. And the A6700 beats both of those models by having a 4K 120fps mode, though it’s cropped significantly at 1.58x.

Due to the relatively small body and lack of fans, you’ll need to be wary of overheating at 120p, as it’ll cut out after 20-30 minutes. For indoor shooting, you can generally shoot at up to 4K 60p without any stoppages with the “auto power temp” setting on “high.” Outside on a hot day, however, you may hit the limits and need to wait for the camera to cool down.

Like the FX30, you can shoot all video modes with 10-bit with S-Log3 capture. You can also load your own LUTs either to make log footage easier to monitor, or bake it into the final image.

Steve Dent for Engadget

Rolling shutter is still present, so you’ll still need to be careful with whip pans, fast subjects and the like. However, it’s far less bothersome than on past Sony crop sensor models.

It has a video feature that’s actually lacking on the FX3, namely auto-framing. That’s handy for vloggers as it can crop in and follow them as they move around the frame — with less quality loss than the ZV-E1 (this feature is finicky on the A6700 so be sure to test it first). It also offers focus compensation that digitally eliminates breathing, and again, this extra resolution compared to the ZV-E1 results in a sharper result.

Stabilization for video isn’t quite as good as the ZV-E1, though. The active mode is fine for handheld use and slow pans, but doesn’t do a lot to smooth out footsteps, and adds a 1.13x crop.

As for video quality, you’re seeing the same accurate colors and solid low-light capability as with photos. The 10-bit log options allow for plenty of flexibility in post, especially with contrasty images.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent for Engadget

The A6700 is easily Sony’s best APS-C camera yet, excelling at both photos and video, and offering much better handling. Despite being far more capable than the A6600, it carries the same $1,400 price.

As a photo camera, it’s slower than its main competition, the Canon R7 and Fujifilm X-T5, so those models are better for shooting action. Sony’s autofocus is slightly better though, and faster bursts are worthless if photos aren’t sharp.

As a video camera, though, it beats its main rivals across the board. All told, it’s a great option for content creators or hybrid shooters who favor video but do some photography. If that’s you, I’d highly recommend it.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-a6700-review-the-companys-best-aps-c-camera-yet-164540597.html?src=rss

Pansonic's powerful Lumix S5 II is $800 off with a prime lens

Panasonic's powerful full-frame mirrorless camera, the S5 II, is on sale at Amazon and B&H Photo Video at the lowest price we've seen yet. You can grab one with an 85mm f/1.8 prime lens for as little as $1,796, a savings of $800 over buying both separately — effectively giving you a discount on the camera and a free lens to boot. 

As I wrote in my review, the 24-megapixel S5 II was already a great value at $2,000 thanks mainly to its strength as a vlogging camera. It's the company's first model with a phase-detect autofocus system that eliminates the wobble and other issues of past models. 

Panasonic also brought over its new, more powerful stabilization system from the GH6. And it has the video features you'd expect on a Panasonic camera, like 10-bit log capture up to 6K, monitoring tools and advanced audio features. With the generous manual controls and excellent ergonomics, it's an easy camera to use. It also comes with a nice 3.68-million dot EVF and sharp rear display that full articulates for vlogging. 

For photos, it's reasonably fast and great in low light, thanks to the dual native ISO system. Other features include dual high-speed SD card slots and solid battery life, particularly for video. The main downside is noticeable rolling shutter, but that shouldn't be a dealbreaker for most users — particularly at that price.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/pansonics-powerful-lumix-s5-ii-is-800-off-with-a-prime-lens-084816863.html?src=rss

The best vlogging cameras for 2024

If you’re a content creator or YouTuber, camera companies increasingly want your business. Last year was no exception, with several new vlogging-specific models released by Canon, Sony, DJI and others. That means there are now over a dozen on sale, alongside regular mirrorless cameras that also do the job well.

Models specifically designed for vlogging include Sony’s new ZV-E1 full-frame mirrorless that launched last year, DJI’s Osmo Pocket 3 or Canon’s compact PowerShot V10. Others, like the new Panasonic G9 II and last year’s Canon EOS R6 II are hybrid mirrorless cameras that offer vlogging as part of a larger toolset.

All of them have certain things in common, like flip-around screens, face- and/or eye-detect autofocus and stabilization. Prices, features and quality can vary widely, though. To that end, we’ve updated our guide with all the latest vlogging cameras designed for novice to professional creators, in all price ranges. Engadget has tested all of these to give you the best possible recommendations.

Factors to consider before buying a vlogging camera

Vlogging cameras are designed for filmmakers who often work alone and either use a tripod, gimbal, vehicle mount or just their hands to hold a camera. It must be good for filming yourself as well as other “B-roll” footage that helps tell your story. The biggest requirement is a flip-around screen so you can see yourself while filming. Those can rotate up, down or to the side, but flipping out to the side is preferable so a tripod or microphone won’t block it.

Continuous autofocus (AF) for video with face and eye detection is also a must. It becomes your camera “assistant,” keeping things in focus while you concentrate on your content. Most cameras can do that nowadays, but some (notably Canon and Sony) do it better than others.

If you move around or walk a lot, you should look for a camera with built-in optical stabilization. Electronic stabilization is another option as long as you’re aware of its limitations. You’ll also need a camera with a fast sensor that limits rolling shutter, which can create a distracting jello “wobble” with quick camera movements.

Steve Dent/Engadget

4K recording is another key feature. All cameras nowadays can shoot 4K up to at least 24 fps, but if possible, it’s better to have 4K at 60 or even 120 fps. If you shoot sports or other things involving fast movement, look for a model with at least 1080p at 120 fps for slow-motion recording.

Video quality is another important consideration, especially for skin tones. Good light sensitivity helps for night shooting, concerts and so on, and a log profile helps improve dynamic range in very bright or dark shooting conditions. If you want the best possible image quality and can afford it, get a camera that can record 4K with 10-bits (billions) of colors. That will give you more options when it’s time to edit the footage.

Don’t neglect audio either — if the quality is bad, your audience will disengage. Look for a camera with a microphone port so you can plug in a shotgun or lapel mic for interviews, or at least one with a good-quality built-in microphone. It’s also nice to have a headphone port to monitor sound so you can avoid nasty surprises after you’ve finished shooting.

You’ll also want good battery life and, if possible, dual memory card slots for a backup. Finally, don’t forget about your camera’s size and weight. If you’re constantly carrying one while shooting, especially at the end of a gimbal or gorillapod, it might actually be the most important factor. That’s why tiny GoPro cameras are so popular for sports, despite offering lower image quality and fewer pro features.

The best action and portable cameras

If you’re just starting out in vlogging or need a small, rugged camera, an action cam might be your best bet. In general, they’re easy to use as you don’t have to worry about things like exposure or focus. Recent models also offer good electronic stabilization and sharp, colorful video at up to 4K and 60 fps. The downsides are a lack of control; image quality that’s not on par with larger cameras; and no zooming or option to change lenses.

The best compact vlogging cameras

Compact cameras are a step up from smartphones or action cameras, with larger sensors and much better image quality. At the same time, they’re not quite as versatile as mirrorless or DSLR cameras (and not necessarily cheaper) and they lack advanced options like 10-bit video. For folks who want the best possible quality without needing to think too much about their camera, however, they’re the best option.

The best mirrorless/DSLR vlogging cameras

This is the class that has changed the most over the past couple of years, particularly in the more affordable price categories. Interchangeable lens cameras give you the most options for vlogging, offering larger sensors than compact cameras with better low-light sensitivity and shallower depth of field to isolate you or your subject. They also offer better control of your image with manual controls, log recording, 10-bit video and more. The drawbacks are extra weight compared to action or compact cameras, more complexity and higher prices.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-vlogging-camera-151603452.html?src=rss

Fujifilm's X100VI is a big step forward for the TikTok-famous compact camera

Fujifilm's X100V was the toy to have over the last couple of years (thanks, TikTok) and the company has now released its successor, the 40.2-megapixel X100 VI, with large improvements across the board. While keeping the same retro form, it offers much faster shooting speeds, in-body stabilization, 6.2K 30p video and more.

The X100VI looks identical to the previous model, with the same styling and control positions. The series was conceived as a street photography camera, borrowing a lot of styling cues from Leica's famous rangefinder cameras. As such, it doesn't have the world's great ergonomics, but is light at 521 grams, discreet for shooting and can slide into a jacket pocket.

Fujifilm

Fujifilm elected to go with the same 40.2-megapixel (MP) APS-C sensor as the much bigger X-H2, significantly boosting resolution over the X100V. I think that's a wise choice as it gives the camera — which has a wide-angle fixed 23mmm f/2.0 lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) — more cropping options. The price for that is likely a small drop in low-light sensitivity.

Another big new feature on the X100VI is built-in 5-axis stabilization with up to 6 stops of shake reduction. Given the X100VI's small body, it's an unexpected but welcome feature, and will be a big help to street photographers taking candid shots on the fly. 

The X100V keeps the same 3.69-million dot hybrid optical viewfinder and 1.62-million dot LCD display, but the latter now tilts downward an extra 15 degrees to make shooting from above easier. It retains the same battery as before (CIPA rated for 300 shots), and unfortunately, the same slow UHS-I card slot. 

Fujifilm

The X100VI still shoots at 11fps with the mechanical shutter and 20fps in electronic mode, but autofocus is quicker and more capable, according to Fujifilm. It now offers the company's latest tracking and face/eye detection, along with animal/vehicle and other types of subject detection. 

Image quality should be improved as well with the extra resolution and a lower native 125 ISO. And since a lot of the newfound social media popularity of this camera is based on the film simulation modes, the camera comes with 20 built-in, including a new one called Reala Ace, designed to offer "faithful color reproduction and contrast tonality." 

Fujifilm

Finally, one usually doesn't think of video when it comes to this series, but the X100VI is surprisingly capable for a tiny compact. It can shoot 6.2K video at up to 30fps, 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 240fps. You also get 10-bit F-log and F-Log2 recording, shockingly good for a small, photo-centric camera with a fixed lens. The only downside is relatively low data rates (200Mbps max) due to the slow cards, but you can capture ProRes to an external recorder.

Fujifilm's X100VI is now on pre-order for $1,600 in silver or black, with shipping slated for early March 2024. The company is also offering a special edition version "engraved with the corporate brand logo from Fujifilm's founding in 1934" for $2,000. It has vowed to reduce the long lead times of the previous model by manufacturing it in China like other recent models. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/fujifilms-x100vi-is-a-big-step-forward-for-the-tiktok-famous-compact-camera-100918040.html?src=rss