Photography

Digital Photography Review - News

June 4, 2020
Hasselblad firmware includes video and focus bracketing for X1D II, 907X cameras

Hasselblad has released new firmware updates for its X1D II and 907X medium format cameras that will allow users to shoot video for the first time. The firmware also offers a focus bracketing feature that will help when an extensive depth-of-field is required in landscape or macro photography.

Firmware version 1.2.0 brings 2.7K 2720x1530 pixel video at 29.97p in 4:2:0 8-bit color, with a 1920x1080 option for those wanting FHD. The X1D II camera has had a video icon on the dial since it was launched, so now it can be made active.

The firmware also a white balance sampling tool and an Auto White Balance option for use on already captured images. The cameras already have a WB picker for sampling neutral areas of a scene in live view mode before the picture is taken, but these new options allow stored images to be used as a reference. The purpose of this is to allow the picker and AWB features to work when flash is being used, as sampling flash during live view isn’t possible – unless you are very quick. White balance settings also now display their color temperature and tint values to make matching light sources easier.

A new ratings system for captured images has been added to the playback menu to allow users to select favorites and to order images in-camera with a system that transfers in the EXIF data to image manipulation software. The press release doesn’t specify which software but we can safely assume that Hasselblad’s Phocus application will be able to read and display the ratings.

The focus bracketing feature allows users to specify the number of shots taken and the incremental differences between the focus positions. There’s also the facility to delay the first exposure to allow all vibrations from the camera to subside before the sequence begins.

A separate release sees new firmware for the XCD 45P lens that will make it compatible with the new focus bracketing feature and fixes an issue which saw the AF being cancelled if the user was holding the focusing ring of the lens.

For more information see the Hasselblad website, and download the firmware here.
There's also a Firmware 1.2.0 walk-through video on YouTube

Press release:

HASSELBLAD BRINGS POWERFUL UPDATES FOR EXPANDED CREATIVITY TO X1D II 50C, 907X SPECIAL EDITION AND XCD 45P


Introducing its largest firmware update to any Hasselblad camera at one time, Hasselblad launches Firmware Update 1.2.0 for both X1D II 50C and 907X Special Edition medium format cameras, in addition to Firmware Update 0.1.24 for the XCD 45P lens. A multitude of powerful features are added to the X1D II 50C and 907X Special Edition, including 2.7K/29.97 Video Recording, Focus Bracketing with all XCD lenses, Image Rating for simple image sorting and selection, White Balance Picker Tool, and more, resulting in further enhanced digital medium format camera systems that provide a wider breadth of creative possibilities. With the latest update to XCD 45P, Focus Bracketing can now be enabled on all X System cameras and 907X Special Edition cameras in addition to improved stability of auto focus and manual focus. Constantly striving to improve its camera systems with new updates and enhanced features, Hasselblad is determined to create even more powerful medium format shooting experiences for all types of visual artists.


FIRMWARE UPDATE 1.2.0: NEW FEATURES FOR BOTH X1D II 50C AND 907X SPECIAL EDITION

  • Video Recording: Expanding the imaging options of the X1D II 50C and 907X Special Edition, 2.7K (2720 x 1530) & HD (1920 x 1080) video capture has been added. Video can be recorded at 29.97 fps with 4:2:0 8-bit colour. The 2.7K resolution option delivers improved capture of detail, whilst balancing the storage space.
  • Focus Bracketing: Expanding the feature set of the?X1D II 50C and 907X Special Edition even further, Focus Bracketing allows a photographer trying to capture a subject with very limited depth of field, such as in macro or product photography, to capture a series of exposures of their chosen subject at a fractionally different focus point in each and then combine these captures in their chosen stacking software. The photographer will have full control over the number of frames in the sequence, the step size between each capture and an initial delay to allow any support system vibration to diminish. Note: Requires lens firmware?0.5.33 or later for all XCD lenses excluding XCD 45P. XCD 45P requires firmware 0.1.24 or later.
  • Image Rating: Image Rating can now be applied to all still image captures in camera, making image sorting and selection much easier when the captures are transferred to the user’s computer system. When in image playback mode, with the capture details overlay on screen, the photographer simply presses the star button or presses the displayed stars. All ratings are stored in the metadata of the captured image.
  • 2/3 stops added in Exposure Bracketing: The Exposure Bracketing function step options have been expanded to support 2/3 stops steps in addition to the existing steps.
  • Expanded White Balance Tools: The menu organization and selection of White Balance presets has been improved with display of colour temperature and tint at each setting. For the most precise colour, a Picker has also been added where the photographer can sample a neutral portion of the image to balance colour.
  • Auto White Balance based on captured image: Auto White Balance is now based on the captured image which means that AWB can also be used when shooting in Manual Quick Mode (Manual Quick Mode specific to X1D II 50C only). It also solves the issue when working with flash in tungsten lighting where, previously, the correct white balance showed in either Live View or the captured image – now the correct white balance is present in both Live View and the final still image.
  • New language: Traditional Chinese has been added to language options.


FIRMWARE UPDATE 1.2.0: NEW FEATURES SPECIFIC TO X1D II 50C

  • EVF proximity sensor settings: It is now possible for users to adjust the sensitivity of the EVF proximity sensor. The improved setting accommodates users whose typical handling style does not always engage the sensor or prefer to disable the EVF completely.
  • Reset custom buttons option: A menu option has been added that will allow the custom buttons to be returned to factory defaults.


FIRMWARE UPDATE 1.2.0: NEW FEATURES SPECIFIC TO CFV II 50C DIGITAL BACK IN 907X SPECIAL EDITION

  • Additional camera support: Cable-free operation with CFV II 50C Digital Back on 2000-cameras and unmodified 200-cameras added. Note: some cameras may not fully work due to mechanical tolerances of old cameras.
  • Auto White Balance: It is now possible to automatically set White Balance for captured images.


FIRMWARE UPDATE 0.1.24 FOR XCD 45P

  • Support for Focus Bracketing: Focus Bracketing is now available on the X1D II 50C and the 907X Special Edition. Firmware update 0.1.24 enables Focus Bracketing to be used on the XCD 45P.
  • Improved stability of AF & MF: Full time Manual focus input sensitivity has been modified, to reduce the possibility of AF stopping when holding the lens.
June 4, 2020
Fujifilm donates Instax cameras, film to hospitals in Europe to help staff connect with patients amid COVID-19

Fujifilm UK has announced it’s donated Instax instant cameras to 31 National Health Service (NHS) hospitals across the United Kingdom and 19 other hospitals across seven other countries to help hospital staff ‘share a smile’ with patients while still wearing their personal protective equipment (PPE).

With doctors, nurses and other hospital staff having to wear an extraordinary amount of PPE due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patients within the hospital are unable to have the more face-to-face interaction they’re more familiar with in less-chaotic times.

Left to right: [1-2] Healthcare workers at Florence Nightingale Group Hospitals, Turkey and [3] Azienda Socio-Sanitaria Territoriale (ASST) di Vimercate, Monza, Italy

‘Those working on the frontline in hospitals must put on gloves, gown, face mask, visor or air hoods before entering a hospital unit or caring for a patient – creating a full suit covering almost every feature,’ says Fujifilm in its press release announcing the initiative. It goes on to say:

‘This can make it difficult to reassure a patient, who cannot see a smile or a friendly face. PPE removes an important element of the personal connection that is usually so important between a clinician and patient. It can also heighten an already worrying and intimidating situation and make patients in ICU wards feel even more isolated.’

So, in its search to figure out how it can help NHS staff and patients alike throughout the COVId-19 pandemic, Fujifilm found a clever way to keep interactions a little more personal and friendly than otherwise possible while wrapped up in PPE. Through its donated Instax cameras, the staff is able to snap a photo of themselves and attach it to their gowns.

Fujifilm says roughly 120 Instax cameras and 7,500 Instax prints have been sent to hospitals in the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Russia, France and Denmark, with more expected to be shipped out to interested parties.

In addition to helping patients feel more connected with their caretakers, Fujifilm says it also has the added benefit of making inter-team communication easier and boosting morale, as it can be difficult to see who’s underneath all the PPE, especially considering hospitals have staff moving more frequently between floors and departments.

Fujifilm encourages any health teams interested in receiving a special Instax kit to contact them via email at [email protected]

June 4, 2020
Android smartphones can become soft bricked if you use the wrong photo for a wallpaper
A number of Android smartphones are at risk of suffering a fatal system error if the user sets a specific image as their wallpaper. The discovery was first publicized by popular Twitter account Ice Universe and has since been confirmed by users who tested the warning for themselves. The issue, it turns out, is the image's color space and Android's current inability to deal with it.

There's nothing inherently malicious about the image shared by Ice Universe; it shows an idyllic landscape complete with water, mountains and clouds. The problem, investigators have discovered, is that its color space is incompatible with Android, which currently doesn't have a method in place to detect this incompatibility and convert the image to color space it supports.

Setting the image as an Android wallpaper will cause the phone to crash; it will reboot, but soon crash again, in most cases doing this too quickly for the user to change their wallpaper to something else. As a result, the user is forced to factory reset the device, losing any images and other data that wasn't backed up beforehand.

As expected, this issue isn't limited to only this particular image -- any non-sRGB image may potentially cause the same crash. Android Authority recently spoke with a developer who shed light on the problem with a long, technical answer for those who are interested. Put simply: Android can only deal with sRGB images as wallpapers and doesn't currently know how to handle certain non-sRGB images, triggering an infinite loop of fatal errors that forces the user to factory reset their device.

As noted by multiple Android developers, as well as 9to5Google, not all Android phones are vulnerable to this bug, though many major ones are, including older Google Pixel phones, Samsung smartphones and more. 9to5Google's Dylan Roussel reports that the Pixel 4 XL running Android 11 doesn't not crash from this image while the Pixel 3 XL on Android 10 does.

In Android 11, the system will detect if the wallpaper's color space isn't supported and will convert it to something it does support. Though Android 10 doesn't have this same capability, it seems Google is already working on a fix for this problem, which means older Android phones that don't update to Android 11 will eventually be protected from the bug, as well.

Until that happens, however, there's a big problem for Android users: now that the bug has been widely publicized, there will no doubt be some people who deliberately seed these problematic images to mobile wallpaper websites in an effort to crash devices.

Though the bug doesn't totally brick the device, it does often force a factory reset; many users report being unable to resolve the issue in Safe Mode. This means that many users who aren't careful may end up losing some of their data.

Ice Universe notes that when the image is uploaded to other social media websites, it is converted and becomes safe to use with Android; only the image uploaded to Twitter retains its problematic color space.

To protect one's self, Android users can avoid publically offered wallpapers until the Android 11 update arrives, they can limit their wallpapers to their own images or official manufacturer theme stores or there's always the option of manually checking that an image is compatible before setting it as one's Android wallpaper.

June 4, 2020
Video: Mathieu Stern uses beet juice to create an 'anthotype' prints

Photographer Mathieu Stern is often using interesting camera gear, lenses and even trying unusual photographic processes. His latest project was to create an 'anthotype' print, also known as a phytotype. This photographic process was invented all the way back in 1842 by Sir John Herschel.

To create an anthotype print, you must use photosensitive material from plants. Materials ranging from flower petals, fruits and vegetables can be used. A sheet of paper is coated with the photosensitive material and then partially covered with an object or a photo positive before being exposed to light. The area of the paper which was not covered is essentially bleached, leaving color behind only in obscured areas of the image. There is no fixer used in this photographic process, so the paper remains sensitive to light.

As you can see in Stern's video below, for his anthotype print, Stern used beetroot juice. After filtering the juice, Stern applied it to a piece of paper and let it dry. He then repeated the process for a second and third coat. After preparing his paper, Stern placed one of his transparent positives over the paper and placed them both in a wooden frame. He then left the positive and beetroot paper in the sun for a week. You can see the full process and result in the video below.

If you are looking for a fun project to try at home, creating an anthotype is a neat option. Stern also recently tried his hand at the cyanotype photographic process. You can learn how this went by clicking here.

To view more of Mathieu Stern's work, be sure to visit his website. If you'd like to see his videos, you can view them on his YouTube channel. There you can find a lot of interesting experiments, including Stern creating a lens using ice, adapting many old lenses to his modern mirrorless cameras and much more.

Returning to Stern's inspriration, the creator of the anthotype photographic process, Sir John Herschel, led a very interesting life. Born in the late 18th century in England, Herschel spent time as a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, inventor and experimental photographer. Herschel also invented the cyanotype photographic process, which became the blueprint. His contributions to science were many.

With respect to photography, Herschel made numerous contributions. In addition to creating cyanotype and anthotype photographic processes, Herschel is credited as the first person to use the term 'photography' itself in 1839 and the first to use the terms 'positive' and 'negative' within the field. Also in 1839, Herschel's fixing agent was used by his friend, Henry Fox Talbot as Talbot raced against Daguerre to perfect a photographic process using negatives. That same year, Herschel himself made what is considered to be the first glass negative.

June 4, 2020
GoPro releases GoPro Labs, a beta update that adds experimental features to your HERO8 Black

GoPro has announced the release of GoPro Labs, a new program that allows GoPro HERO8 Black owners to sign up as beta testers to test out experimental features that haven’t yet made their way into final products. In GoPro’s own words, ‘Think of GoPro Labs as an insider look at innovative features our top engineers are playing with.’

The first release of GoPro Labs includes a pair of features that were first developed via internal [hackathons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackathons: ReelSteady GO optimization and QR Codes for camera control.

Earlier this year, GoPro acquired ReelSteady, a team of FPV drone operators and visual effects experts that have developed some of the most advanced stabilization and image correction software out there for GoPro cameras. Nothing has come from the acquisition as of this time, but the ReelSteady GO optimization in the GoPro Labs firmware update will allow GoPro HERO8 Black owners to optimize the in-camera rolling shutter correction to better work with ReelSteady’s post-production software.

Below is an example video from ReelSteady showing their image stabilization technology at work:

The QR Codes for camera control in the GoPro Labs firmware update is exactly what it sounds like. By creating custom QR codes with embedded commands, GoPro HERO8 Black owners can add new functions to their action cam without the need for Wi-Fi connectivity. Below are a few examples of features you can tweak via QR code:

  • Wake-up timer for remote start capture
  • Save favorite modes as a visual preset/QR code Motion detection start/stop — only capture video when something is happening
  • Speed detection start/stop — use GPS to determine your speed and automatically start capture at a defined speed
  • Camera scripting — e.g. shoot a time-lapse of a construction site but only during daylight hours (and many other detailed camera controls)
  • Personalize your GoPro with owner information Larger chapters for fewer files when taking long video captures — e.g. 4GB chapters will increase to 12GB.

GoPro has created and shared ten pre-built command QR codes with variables, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also create your own using GoPro’s list of action commands and settings commands. Additional support can be found on the GoPro Labs community within the GoPro forums.

To show off what’s capable with the new functionality, GoPro showed how the QR code camera control feature was used by GoPro Technical Fellow (and creator of the QR code feature), David Newman, worked alongside Northrup Grumman Corp. to capture the launch of a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Since the GoPro’s had to be set 72 hours in advance and not touched, he teamed up with his daughter to trigger each camera with a QR code before securing them to the launch pad. As the below video attests to, the results worked perfectly, despite none of the action cams having external power or displays.

GoPro says these features could one day be unveiled alongside a new camera, but also notes there’s a chance ‘these features may never make it to a camera release.’

If you happen to have a GoPro HERO8 Black on hand, you can read through the installation instructions and download the GoPro Labs firmware update on GoPro’s website. Below is a great rundown of the new features from YouTuber DC Rainmaker:

If you end up creating anything interesting with the GoPro Labs firmware, let us know in the comments below or contact us via our feedback form!