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Four Clueless Photographers Trapped in Escape Rooms With 90 Minutes To Create the Perfect Image

Four Clueless Photographers Trapped in Escape Rooms With 90 Minutes To Create the Perfect Image

What is the greatest challenge you faced on a photoshoot? Your answer may very well include time pressure, an annoying art director, lack of gear, unknown locations, and much more. This is exactly what Profoto did to some four photographers who were asked to only take their camera to a secret location. 

There are four photographers involved. Erik Johansson strives to bring surrealism into his work. Martina Wärenfeldt creates magazine-style fine art portraits. David Bicho is a light guru who can create any light anywhere. Molly Barber is a conceptual photographer who brings drama and feminine power to her images. Four Clueless Photographers Trapped in Escape Rooms With 90 Minutes To Create the Perfect Image 1

With four different tasks to complete, each will race to create an image under the harshest conditions a photographer may find themselves in. Erik will have to create an epic image of a male model. Martina has to capture the character of a bright young magician who is in jail. David is tasked to mix his light with lasers and take an action-packed talent shot. Lastly, Molly will have only 90 minutes to transport her to the 1940s and create a dramatic yet classical hotel portrait. 

Four Clueless Photographers Trapped in Escape Rooms With 90 Minutes To Create the Perfect Image 2

Naturally, each of the four photographers knows light inside out and has experience being in different situations over the years; however, Profoto says that even pros like Molly, David, Martina, and Erik found the challenges to be, well, challenging. So, who escaped and who failed? Check out Profoto’s website!

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Skylum Is Launching a New Image Editor Called Luminar Neo

Skylum Is Launching a New Image Editor Called Luminar Neo

Skylum revealed Luminar Neo today, which builds upon the unique AI-editing technologies for which the company is well known. According to the company, Luminar Neo further re-imagines the image editing experience, which enables creators to be more expressive with fewer boundaries and rediscover the joy in their creative work.

“As the latest member of the Luminar family, we designed Luminar Neo to allow artists to take on more challenging image creation work and achieve results which often seem unattainable,” said Dima Sytnik, Co-Founder and CPO of Skylum. 

What Does Luminar Neo Do?

Expected features in this new editor include:

  • Transform photos with new relighting options. Luminar Neo analyzes each image to recognize the depth of a scene and its subject which allows precise control over exposure and tone.
  • Remove blemishes and distracting elements. Luminar Neo automatically recognizes and removes artifacts caused by a dirty camera sensor or lens. New tools make removing unwanted background elements easier than ever before.
  • Powerful background replacement. Take full control of the background for portrait photos by quickly replacing it with an all-new image or background.
  • Round-trip mobile image management. Our new companion mobile app makes it simple to add pictures captured on a mobile device to your Luminar Catalog. Once edited in Luminar Neo, results can be sent back to the mobile device for easy social sharing or viewing on the go.

The software is expected to ship this winter and will be available as a package deal with Luminar AI.

My Thoughts

It looks like another interesting effort from Skylum. It appears to be aimed at portrait photographers more than, say, landscape photographers, but it’s hard to tell until I have the software in hand. Still, LuminarAI has some excellent tools for portrait work, like skin smoothing, lighting controls, and bokeh. That makes me think there’s going to be some overlap with LuminarAI, and I’m wondering why they don’t incorporate these new tools into the existing product. I hope it’s not a ploy to soak photographers twice, once with LuminarAI and then again with Luminar Neo. Luminar says the two products have different workflows, and photographers are free to choose which is the better fit. 

In a more detailed response, Skylum says:

LuminarAI is the easiest-to-use image editor fully powered by AI for those who prefer a time-saving, template-driven workflow for quick results. The app can swiftly guide you to the best outcomes while still preserving editing flexibility. It’s a compact and easy-to-navigate application that already packs everything one needs for great results.

Luminar Neo is for those who want more editing options and more creative control. The app provides the ability to build detailed and expressive images with advanced layer-based workflow and flexible tools that can be applied in any order. It also boasts a high-speed core engine with background rendering and accelerated exports for more complex tasks. (while also retaining the features of Luminar AI).

In my own landscape work, I find LuminarAI a powerful and time-saving tool. They’ve got very creative people on the software end, but companies have to be careful to be not seen exploiting their users or there will be a backlash. We don’t have any real details on the specifics of this release. Skylum says Neo is not a replacement for AI and that LuminarAI will continue to be sold and supported. 

I look forward to getting an early release of Luminar Neo and will share my thoughts at that time. 

Here’s a link to sign up and purchasing info. The company says in the coming weeks, they’ll share more information on Neo.

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Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound

Vivo X60 Pro+ Display review: Solid performance

Unveiled in early 2021, Vivo’s smartphone X60 Pro+ 5G sits at the top of the Chinese manufacturer’s X60 flagship line. The device is co-engineered with German optics expert Zeiss and features a four-camera array on the rear, including a 50 MP main camera, a 48 MP ultra-wide, and two tele-lens modules. On the classy side of things still, the phone is encased in vegan leather, a subtle but meaningful touch extended as a token of effort towards the environment and the animals. Other specifications include a 6.56-inch FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset with 12 GB + 3 GB virtual RAM, and a 4200 mAh battery with fast 55W wired charging.

On the other hand, the V60 Pro+ lacks some features you might expect nowadays from a flagship device — such as an ultra-high-resolution display, Qi wireless charging, and IP-certified dust and water resistance. As for audio, the Chinese manufacturer merely mentions the phone’s CS43131 Hi-Fi chip and Hi-Res audio certification, for “phenomenal audio performance.” Let’s have a listen!

Audio specifications include:

  • One bottom-right, side-firing speaker
  • No headphone jack
  • USB-C earphones included

About DXOMARK Audio tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone audio reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate both Playback and Recording using only the device’s built-in hardware and default apps. (For more details about our Playback protocol, click here; for more details about our Recording protocol, click here.)

Test summary

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 3
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 4





  • Frequency response is unbalanced, lacking low- and high-end extension.
  • Strong compression at maximum volume induces noticeable volume variations.
  • Poor spatial performance (since the device is mono).



  • Decent bass presence for recordings made in loud environments
  • Correct sound-to-noise ratio in life videos
  • Decent envelope rendering with the memo app (Recorder)
  • Correct wideness in meeting use case


  • High-midrange prominence in all use cases
  • Poor performance in selfie videos, as a strong noise reduction algorithm crushes the signal.
  • Recordings made with the Camera app exhibit narrow wideness.
  • Noticeable artifacts in all use cases, especially in selfie videos

With an overall Audio Score of 51, Vivo’s latest top-of-the-line smartphone ranks among the lowest-scoring phones we have tested to date. Despite featuring cutting-edge technology in the optics domain, when it comes to audio, the X60 Pro+ 5G is equipped only with a single speaker. All spatial attributes are hamstrung by the monophonic playback and/or by the particularly unbalanced, midrange-focused, and inconsistent frequency response. If it hadn’t been for the excessive compression hindering both categories, dynamics and volume could have kept their heads out of the water thanks to decent attack and punch at nominal volume, correct maximum volume, intelligible minimum volume, and fairly natural volume steps. Artifacts is the only area in which the phone truly shines, with very few sonic artifacts perceivable regardless of the listening volume, and thus a sub-score only 4 points away from the class-leading Samsung Galaxy A52 5G. However, in landscape mode, the phone’s speaker is fairly easy to occlude.

All in all, due to its particularly poor performance in the spatial and timbre areas, the Vive X60 Pro+ 5G does not make an interesting on-the-go alternative for listening to music, watching movies, or playing games.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 6

Listening to music on the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G

As a recording device, the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G fares even worse, largely because of an extremely aggressive noise-reduction algorithm, although the other tested categories don’t help: high-midrange is prominent in all use cases; wideness is very narrow in videos made with the camera app; and this time around, artifacts are acutely noticeable. Of all our use cases, selfie videos are the least fortunate, with particularly poor wideness and a distinctively harsher noise cancellation. That all said, recordings made in quieter environments exhibit fewer artifacts, and recordings made in loud environments (such as a concert) offer good bass presence.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Audio overall score of 51 for the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G is derived from its Playback and Recording scores and their respective sub-scores. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user.


Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 7


Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

Timbre tests measure how well a phone reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

Although the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G’s playback is very midrange-focused, midrange itself isn’t consistent, and sounds are muffled because of a distinct lack of high mids. Bass and low-end extension are also critically lacking, but less so than with the X51 5G, per the graph below.

While the amount of treble is honorable, it is still insufficient to produce a clear tonal balance. These timbre shortcomings add up to a below-average timbre performance, with particularly low sub-scores across all our use cases.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 8

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G during gaming.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 9


Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (81)

DXOMARK’s dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, and how precisely it reproduces bass frequencies.

Surprisingly, despite the speaker’s poor timbre performance, dynamics results are decent. Attack is correct at nominal volume, punch is fairly impactful from soft to loud volumes, bass attack is precise, and volume dependency — the consistency of dynamic attributes across all listening levels — is particularly good.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 10
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 11

The recessed low-end impairs sustain and release for lower frequencies, and attack is dulled at soft volumes. At maximum volume, severe compression crushes dynamics and induces perceivable volume variations.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 12


Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (82)

The sub-attributes for perceptual spatial tests include localizability, balance, distance, and wideness.

At 25 in Playback Spatial, the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G scores merely two points higher than the new low in our database rankings for this category — namely its sibling, the Vivo X60 Pro. This is first and foremost because of the phone’s single speaker design. The X60 Pro+ 5G thus receives a 0 in wideness, which considerably hinders its spatial sub-score.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 13
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 14

Along with the playback’s blurry tonal balance, its mono reproduction also jeopardizes the localizability of sound sources in the mix. Unsurprisingly, the balance is shifted towards the top right corner of the device, where the only speaker fires. Finally, the midrange inconsistencies result in an unnatural distance rendering, with voices that seem cast from behind a veil.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 15


Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (79)

Volume tests measure both the overall loudness a device is able to reproduce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Although it is diminished by excessive dynamic compression, maximum volume is correct. Minimum volume is decently tuned, but it might be difficult to fully discern highly dynamic content such as movies or classical music. As for volume steps, they’re rather consistently distributed from softest to loudest, allowing the user to finely adjust the listening volume.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G71.1 dBA69.8 dBA
Vivo X51 5G71.3 dBA70.4 dBA
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G72 dBA68.3 dBA
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 16


Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Best: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G (96)

Artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back through a device’s speakers. Distortion can occur both because of sound processing in the device and because of the quality of the speakers.

Despite the strong compression previously mentioned, audio played back through the X60 Pro+ 5G’s speaker exhibits very few artifacts overall, including temporal. Bass distortion occurs only on synthetic signals such as a pure sine wave.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 17
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 18

No sonic artifacts were perceived at nominal volume across all use cases. Better yet, the gaming use case shows no artifacts at all, whether temporal or spectral, regardless of the volume. But the device’s speaker is very easy to occlude, which is expressly unsuitable for playing games.


Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 7


Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (88)

As a recording device, too, the X60 Pro+ 5G’s timbre performance is significantly below average. In videos recorded with the rear cameras, midrange still suffers from inconsistencies: while high mids are too prominent, low mids are notably lacking, and high-end extension is limited — just like the X51 5G, as shown in the graph below. This results in a both hollow and slightly nasal sound. The same high-midrange prominence and recessed high-ends are also noticeable in loud environment recordings, such as concerts.

Sound capture is even poorer in selfie videos, where an aggressive noise reduction algorithm (enabled by default) strongly impairs the overall rendering. Finally, bass presence is decent, but subject to the lack of low-end extension.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 9


OnePlus 8

Best: OnePlus 8 (78)

The phone’s performance for recorded dynamics is also among the lowest we’ve measured to date. In life videos, despite a correct sound-to-noise ratio (SNR), the envelope isn’t accurate: plosives in particular are affected by an ill-suited compression. While it becomes slightly better in memo app recordings, the overall dynamics performance still remains below average. In loud environments, although it is correct, the sound envelope is impaired by heavy compression — especially on loud bass hits.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 21
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 22

In selfie videos, the noise-canceling algorithm simply crushes the entire signal, including useful information. If background is certainly attenuated, voices do not gain in intelligibility, thus lowering the SNR. This ratio gets better in quieter scenarios such as our home use case, as noise reduction eases off and voices become more intelligible.

string(3) “279”
[“Samsung Galaxy A52 5G”]=>
string(65) “resources/Vivo/X60ProPlus/SamsungGalaxyA525G_MicrophoneTimbre.m4a”
[“Vivo X51 5G”]=>
string(56) “resources/Vivo/X60ProPlus/VivoX515G_MicrophoneTimbre.m4a”
[“Vivo X60 Pro Plus”]=>
string(61) “resources/Vivo/X60ProPlus/VivoX60ProPlus_MicrophoneTimbre.m4a”

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 23

Recording a selfie video with the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 12


Black Shark 4 Pro

Best: Black Shark 4 Pro (78)

As in playback, the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G’s spatial attributes in recorded audio are subpar. In videos filmed with the rear cameras, despite a wider and more precise stereo scene than with the X60 Pro, wideness is still very narrow and localizability is below average.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 25
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 26

The excessive noise reduction impairs both localizability and distance, the latter also affected by the midrange inconsistency. In selfie videos, wideness is so narrow that the stereo field almost feels monophonic. By contrast, in our meeting use case, it is appreciably wider.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 27

Recording a video with the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 15


Xiaomi Mi 10S

Best: Xiaomi Mi 10S (89)

As a recording device, the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G turns in a middling volume performance. Audio exhibits good nominal loudness overall, especially when recorded with the memo app. However, the maximum level reachable without noticeable distortion is only average. Here are our test results, measured in LUFS (Loudness Unit Full Scale). As a reference, we expect loudness levels to be above -24 LUFS for recorded content:

MeetingLife VideoSelfie VideoMemo
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G-22.1 LUFS-18.7 LUFS-27.5 LUFS-17.7 LUFS
Vivo X51 5G-29.2 LUFS-24.1 LUFS-20.5 LUFS-23.7 LUFS
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G-26.1 LUFS-22.3 LUFS-20.8 LUFS-21.5 LUFS
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 16


Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Best: Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders (90)

Surprisingly, the Vivo X60 Pro outperforms the X60 Pro+ 5G in this category. While the more affordable version gets an average sub-score, the Pro+ turns in a below-average artifacts performance. In recordings containing background noise, distortion can be perceived on loud sounds such as shouting voices.

In selfie videos, the aggressive noise cancellation induces both temporal and spectral artifacts — such as gating, compression, resonances, distortion, and hissing. You can hear it for yourself in this sample recording:

Recordings made in loud environments also exhibit compression and bass distortion. Whenever background noises get quieter, artifacts become far less noticeable.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 30
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 31
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 32


Apple iPhone XS Max

Best: Apple iPhone XS Max (58)

In view of what precedes, it should come as no surprise that the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G scores particularly low in this category. Due to the inconsistent frequency response and the excessive noise cancellation, the background sounds unnatural across all use cases and is even rendered barely audible in selfie videos.

Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 33
Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G Audio review: Image over sound 34


Vivo put most of its R&D budget into conceiving the utmost camera system for its ultra-premium smartphone, and it shows, with the Vivo X60 Pro+ 5G making it into the current top ten in our DXOMARK Camera ranking. But it winds up at the bottom of our Audio ranking with playback severely impaired by the phone’s single speaker design — a decision that’s hard to understand, given the Pro+’s top-tier status within the X60 flagship line. It is also hindered by a lack of timbre balance and consistency, and an excessive dynamic compression. As a recording device, it is heavily hamstrung by a particularly ill-adapted noise-canceling algorithm, too many sonic artifacts, a significant lack of wideness, and a high midrange-focused tonal balance.

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When and How to Upsample an Image

Upsampling is a tool in most post-processing software that allows you to increase an image’s resolution after taking it. Upsampling lets you boost, say, a 24 megapixel image to 48 megapixels, 96 megapixels, or 240 megapixels! But doing so doesn’t mean you’re actually capturing more detail.

This article covers everything you need to know about upsampling, including the best upsampling software today and my recommendation for how much to upsample a photo. 

What Is Upsampling?

Upsampling is a tool in post-production software to increase resolution. It’s most common in photography and graphic design to increase the resolution of an image, but it can also be used to increase the resolution of a video file (say, from 360p to 720p) or any other visual data.

However, upsampling isn’t a magic bullet. A 12 megapixel image will never contain as much detail as a comparable 48 megapixel image no matter how much you upsample it or what algorithms you use. Even if it could, you could just upsample the 48 megapixel image by a corresponding amount and still come out ahead!

Rather, upsampling is a fairly niche tool to solve a couple specific problems that you may come across occasionally when you work with images. It’s not something meant to be used all the time; doing so would only take up space on your hard drive without meaningfully improving the quality of your images.

When to Upsample an Image

There are two major situations where upsampling an image is a good idea. The first is when you’re working with a digital file that is extremely small, maybe just a few hundred pixels across. The second is when you’re printing an image and want to avoid pixelation in the details. I’ll go through both of those below.

1. Low Resolution Images

If you come across a tiny image online (public domain hopefully) and you want to put it in a presentation or send to someone, you may be wondering if you can use an upsampling algorithm to increase its level of detail.

In general, the answer is no – there is no possible way to increase an image’s detail if it wasn’t there in the first place. But what you can do is decrease its pixilation. Rather than a jagged “stair step” of pixels along a diagonal line, upsampling can give you a bit of a smoother edge.

This is a typical example scenario of what you’d be able to do with upsampling on a low resolution PNG (click to see larger):

How to Upsample an image PNG Bicubic Smoother

As you can see, it’s not a great improvement, but the second image does look a bit better. The pixellation has been replaced with some general softness, which I find preferable.

Although this isn’t the best upsampling algorithm that exists today, it’s representative of a typical process (in this case, Photoshop’s “bicubic smoother” enlargement). There are some artificial intelligence upsampling algorithms can do better – I’ll get to those in a moment – but there’s still no substitute for a high resolution starting image.

2. Printing Photos

Along similar lines, pixellation can show up if you try to make a large print in photography. Even with a fairly high resolution sensor like a 24 megapixel DSLR or mirrorless camera, massive print sizes (in the range of 24×36 inches and up) can look a bit pixellated upon close inspection.

Just like before, upsampling doesn’t actually add more details to a photo, although some of the newer artificial intelligence algorithms come close. Instead, upsampling can minimize pixellation and replace it with a bit of a blurriness instead.

Here’s a (very, very extreme) crop from a 24 megapixel image showing a palm leaf. Note how the detail looks before and after upsampling using the same “bicubic smoother” algorithm:

How to Upsample a Photo

It didn’t exactly get sharper, but it did get less pixellated.

Best Upsampling Algorithms Today

If you’re going to upsample, not all algorithms or software options are equally good. I have no allegiance to any particular company, but there is one general class of upsampling algorithms that is way ahead of the competition these days: artificial intelligence upsampling.

As far as I know, AI upsampling is available in five different software options at the moment: Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Camera Raw (which is part of Photoshop), Topaz Gigapixel, and Bigjpg. I haven’t tried Bigjpg but the other four all work similarly well as one another. (See my review of Photoshop Super Resolution for a few comparisons).

In the image below, you can see the difference between the traditional “bicubic smoother” upsampling algorithm versus an AI upsampler:

Bicubic Smoother vs Super Resolution Photoshop

The difference is even clearer in the vector image, although this is a best-case scenario for the AI upsampler because it’s just some lines and curves:

Bicubic Smoother vs AI Upsampling

If you don’t have Photoshop, Topaz Gigapixel, or any of these software options, you may not be able to use AI upsampling. But there are plenty of free software options which can upsample your photos, too, plus a few websites. Just Google around and you’ll find one that works. All of the free ones use similar algorithms as one another – about like Bicubic Smoother – and they get the job done if you just need some basic upsampling.

How Much to Upsample?

The usual goal of upsampling, at least for a print, is to eliminate low-level pixelation. So, it’s worth asking how much pixellation we can even see in the first place – in other words, how many pixels per inch (PPI) our eyes can resolve.

In doing research for this article, I found answers that ranged from about 600 PPI (source here) to 876 PPI (source here). Anecdotally, I can notice small differences between a 600 PPI print and prints with lower pixel densities if placed side by side, and some people definitely have better eyes than I do. However, this assumes you’re staring at the print as closely as your eye can focus rather than standing back from it as you’d usually do.

The typical standard for printing is 300 PPI, and while you may think that sounds low compared to 600 or 876, it’s hardly a bad standard and doesn’t give prints that look pixellated. But just to be on the safe side, when I’m printing on a paper with low texture, I generally upsample to at least 400 PPI instead and sometimes a bit higher. It’s hardly a difference worth worrying about, but if you’re already upsampling, there’s not much harm in aiming above the generally accepted 300 PPI.

Here’s a chart of some common print sizes with a 2×3 aspect ratio, plus the image resolution that will result in 400 PPI prints at each size:

Print Size (Inches)Print Size (cm)*Resolution Needed for 400 PPIMegapixels Needed for 400 PPI
4×610×151600×24003.8 megapixels
8×1220×303200×480015.4 megapixels
10×1524×364000×600024 megapixels
12×1830×454800×720034.6 megapixels
16×2440×606400×960061.4 megapixels
20×3050×758000×12,00096 megapixels
24×3660×909600×14,400138 megapixels
30×4576×11412,000×18,000216 megapixels
40×60100×15016,000×24,000384 megapixels

If these seem like surprisingly high resolutions needed for basic print sizes, remember that the figures above aren’t necessarily meant to be your camera’s resolution, but your resolution post upsampling.

An AI upsampling algorithm like that of Photoshop, Lightroom, or Topaz Gigapixel will quadruple your photo’s original resolution without major issues. Again, it doesn’t really add any more detail, but it does reduce pixellation and give a cleaner print. So, whatever resolution your camera has, multiply it by four to see your equivalent on the chart above.

For example, if you’re shooting with a 24 megapixel sensor, you’ll end up with a 96 megapixel image after the usual upsampling. Per the chart above, that’s a good fit for a 20×30 print or smaller. If you don’t need to stare at the print from a few inches away – which, let’s be honest, is almost never needed on such a large print – you can push it up to a 24×36 print and more. This article isn’t a treatise on how large you can print, just whether you should upsample before printing. Plenty of 8-megapixel and 12-megapixel images have been printed on billboards and look great, so don’t let the numbers above stop you.

That said, smaller prints (like 12×18 in the case of 24 megapixels) are going to look crisper than a huge enlargement, even if you used the best upsampling algorithm in the world. It all depends on how strict your standards are and how closely you’re viewing the print.

How to Upsample an Image

The actual process of upsampling couldn’t be easier. You load the image into your post-processing software and find the upsampling or image size tool. If you don’t already know where it is in your software, a thirty-second Google search should answer that. In Photoshop, for example, the AI algorithm is found in Image > Image Size > Resample > Preserve Details 2.0. In Adobe Camera Raw, you right click on the image and click “Enhance.” In Lightroom, you click on the image and go to Photo > Enhance in the top menu.

Once you’ve done that, it’s a simple matter of inputting your desired resolution (if that’s even an option; in Camera Raw and Lightroom, it just upsamples 4x automatically) and that’s it. All that you need to do now is save your image to be published or sent wherever you want.


Upsampling doesn’t add any more detail than you originally captured – it just reinterprets your image to reduce pixellation. Even in the best of cases, with a high-quality AI algorithm, the image won’t look as clean as a high resolution original.

Also, upsampling doesn’t work well unless you captured a pin-sharp photo in the first place, with minimal blur and minimal noise. So, make that your priority! The difference between a sharp versus blurry photo is far greater than the difference between an upsampled versus non-upsampled photo.

Still, in certain cases, upsampling can make a noticeable difference. Any time that you make large prints (or small/medium prints from a low resolution image), I recommend upsampling before sending the image off to the lab or home printer. Same if you’re trying to improve the detail in a low-resolution image online for a presentation.

Even though the differences may not be drastic, you’ll still get some more detail and less pixelation by upsampling compared to using the original. For a technique that requires very little effort, it’s hard to ask for more than that.

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Apple Clarifies Image Privacy Changes

Apple Clarifies Image Privacy Changes

Recently, Apple announced some new child safety features coming later this year in updates to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey. While the public generally seems pleased that Apple is taking steps to protect children online, there have been concerns about user privacy. In a recent interview, Erik Neuenschwander, head of privacy at Apple, clarifies a few points.

In this video, Sam from iUpdate breaks down the important new information from Apple regarding their CSAM detection, why they are implementing it now, and why they chose to use on-device scanning in addition to server-side checks.

As previously discussed, this topic is polarizing. While no one is advocating the production or sharing of inappropriate images of children, there are a number of people who claim that these new features go against Apples’ previous position of “Privacy is a Human Right.”

My own personal concerns about the way Apple makes compromises with some governments in order to trade in their territories have been somewhat eased, at least in the short-term, as these features will initially only be rolling out to the USA.

Apple previously conceded to the FBI and agreed not to end-to-end encryption on all iCloud backups, as reported by Reuters. Now there is a de facto backdoor to iCloud backups, law enforcement can request access to your data if you’re suspected of a crime. Apple also changed the way they store and manage data in China at the request of the Chinese government. 

There’s certainly an argument to be made that if you store your data on Apples servers, why shouldn’t they have access to it? I’ve also seen more than one person suggest that if you have nothing to hide, then it won’t be an issue.
Both of these points are good starting topics for any discussion about privacy rights in the modern world, but far too broad to give adequate attention to in this short follow up to Apples’ latest announcements.

What we know for sure is that iOS will be scanning your images on your device, iOS scans for objects and text in photos to allow contextual searches based on your image content and allow copying of text from images. As part of this, Apple will be searching for specific hashes that can be compared to a database of known CSAM images. These can be manually checked and reported to the authorities when appropriate. Apple will only have access to data backed up on iCloud, even though scanning is done on the device.

My own personal concerns about the precedent this technology sets haven’t been eased much. I am very excited about the quality-of-life improvements that on-device image scanning will bring, and it goes without saying that I don’t have any questionable or illegal images on my device. So, I’m safe, for now. Right?

Does this interview change your mind about the new features? Will you continue to use iCloud? Would you object if Adobe started to do the same with your Creative Cloud library?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Remember to be nice, even if someone disagrees with you.

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Apple Has Designed a ‘Folded’ Camera With Optical Image Stabilization

Apple Has Designed a 'Folded' Camera With Optical Image Stabilization

Apple Has Designed a 'Folded' Camera With Optical Image Stabilization 35

Apple has been beaten to the periscope “folded” camera punch by pretty much every other smartphone manufacturer, but it continues to design and patent new takes on the now-commonplace tech. It was granted a patent for a new design that includes folded optics and “lens shifting” capabilities.

Folded optics, or more commonly known as periscope cameras, are a design that allows smartphones to gain considerably more optical zoom than a typical lens design by placing the lens array parallel to the long edge of a smartphone body and bending the transmission of light to the sensor by using one or more prisms. The design has been used by Samsung, Huawei, and others to make smartphone cameras that sport massive optical zooming capabilities compared to what Apple offers.

This latest patent was filed in January of 2019 but finally granted and published on August 17 of this year, as noted by Patently Apple.

This design describes a camera with “folded” optics and lens shifting capabilities that can include one or more lens elements, prims, and in some cases a voice coil motor, autofocus motors, and optical image stabilization (OIS) systems. Some of the designs in the patent also include position sensors with respect to autofocus or optical image stabilization movement.

Of particular note is this schematic shown in figure 13A of the patent (below) which shows a folded optics arrangement that uses two prisms and an example of how an actuator would shift the lens group along multiple axes. Basically, it shows how Apple might integrate optical image stabilization into a periscope design.

Apple Has Designed a 'Folded' Camera With Optical Image Stabilization 36

The front element of the camera is located at the upper left side of the figure, while the sensor is pointed upwards and located on the bottom right. The optical arrangement can be seen in the middle and is capable of compensating for movement. Two prisms can be seen redirecting the light to create the “folded” camera system.

This patent expands upon periscope technology that Apple patented earlier this year that does not have any optical stabilization capability. Neither do two other patents filed by Apple at two other points in 2021.

While experts don’t expect Apple to actually introduce a periscope camera into its iPhone line until at least 2023, the company still seems pretty active in patenting designs for the technology. It’s unclear which one of these patents — or a combination of patents — will eventually make it into an iPhone, but those who wish that their iPhones had better optical zoom than just the 5x zoom available on the iPhone 12 Pro Max probably don’t think that day can come soon enough.

Apple’s full patent can be read on the United States Patent Office’s website.

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How to Deal With Online Image Theft

How to Deal With Online Image Theft

Image theft is both morally wrong and also incredibly frustrating. As a photographer, my images have been stolen so many times that it now no longer upsets nor surprises me. Until recently there wasn’t a great deal I would do about it, but now I have a great system.

For me, image theft is a fact of life. It comes in many forms, from the blogger who simply doesn’t know better, to the ad agency that are publishing outside of the usage agreement. Both of which are usually fixed with little issue through a nice conversation. Then we have the stranger ones, there are currently a few photographers out there who are using my images in their portfolios, a few ad agencies far away in different countries who are claiming that my work is their own, and even a few companies offering prints of my images seemingly from nowhere in the world. 

Dealing with these types in the past has been so far down my list of things to do. Dealing with people who are committing theft is never fun, there will be no reasoning with them and the time you will lose just really isn’t worth it. I also find it to be a very negative experience, and I would rather spend that time and emotional effort in a more positive way of making money. That is until I came across this latest method and system that I discuss in my video. It both removes any stress from you, and gets someone else to do all of the leg work!

How do you deal with image theft?

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Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures

Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures

Focussed on the sharp, perfectly composed, and exposed shot? Why not try Intentional Camera Movement or multiple exposures to create something unique. You may quite like it.

Most of us as photographers are looking for sharp, perfectly composed and exposed images. It is what we are taught or have learned and so, therefore, try to achieve. Sometimes, though, it’s fun to change this up a bit. Intentional camera movement is exactly that, intentionally moving the camera when taking the shot to produce a creatively blurred image using longer shutter speeds. Multiple exposures are where you set the camera to take a series of multiple shots of the same scene or of varying scenes and elements to make up the resulting image. Your camera’s menu settings should allow you to do this. But if not, there’s a three-step tutorial below.

Intentional Camera Movement

At the time of taking these images, my longest focal length for shooting was the Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Lens, so all have been captured at 70mm. The longer the focal length, the shorter exposure required, plus the movement registers more quickly. The wider the lens, the longer the exposure and less movement recorded. You can also add an ND3 stop if conditions allow or depending on the type of effect you are seeking. Most of the exposures shown have shutter speeds of between 1/2th and 1/8th second. My choice of aperture for these was f/5.6, as I wanted slight clarity in any areas with little movement. The final effect you achieve will be up to you and will depend on the conditions when shooting. More blur, longer shutter. Another note I’d like to make is the tonality of the images shown. This is my choice to edit them with these similar tones, as I feel it complements the images and the dreary weather we get here. Plus, I’m a big fan of the artist J.M.W Turner and his works. You can opt for vibrant foliage and flowers or sunsets. It’s entirely up to you.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 37Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 38


Some photographers may tripod their shots and lock off any direction of movement that they do not wish and then take the shot. Think vertical panning of trees and horizontal panning of seascapes.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 39

However, if you handhold the shots, there are multiple directions you can move in; just don’t drop your camera! Flick your wrist, drop your wrist, spin, pan vertically or horizontally while rotating. Add a zoom blur while moving, though takes a bit of practice. All are fun to try, and all will produce varying results. Plus, there is nothing to say that during the editing process you can’t combine multiple exposures to get another unique image. It’s totally up to you.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 40

You will also find a great article and techniques on shooting intentional camera movement here by photographer and Fstoppers writer Jason Parnell-Brookes 

Multiple Exposures

Your camera’s menu should allow you to take multiple exposures of a scene, but if not, keep reading, as I have a brief tutorial on how to achieve similar results below. What I normally do when shooting these is set my camera to aperture priority, although manual works just as well, with the aperture being around the f/8 mark. My Nikon allows me to take up to 10 multiple exposures in an overlaid sequence, shown in the viewfinder, before creating the final JPEG. The in-camera blend mode is set to average. Please note if you are thinking of trying this, shooting in JPEG and not raw will save processing time in the following tutorial. I don’t refocus between images.

Most of the movements I make are only quite slight, overlapping, moving up or down, and rotating slightly. When rotating, I try to imagine a fixed center point of the scene in my viewfinder. I also find that higher-contrast scenes or scenes with varying colors produce better results. These images were photographed using the Viltrox AF 85mm f/1.8 Z Lens for Nikon Z.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 41

Smart Object Blending

If you choose to shoot these singularly instead of in-camera, try to visualize the rotation point of the previous image and don’t keep checking the playback. Smaller movements will result in better images I have found. As I mentioned the Z 7 records 10 multiple images and displays/overlays them in the viewfinder when I shoot, as will most cameras nowadays. It also records them as individual files, and this is what this tutorial is based on.

First, select all your images in Lightroom and then right-click, open in Photoshop as layers.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 42

Next, in Photoshop, select all your layers and convert them to a Smart Object. Don’t auto-align here, as we want them to be as you shot them.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 43

Once this has been completed, go to Layer- Smart Objects – Stack Mode – Meanm and let Photoshop do the rest. Remember if the images are raw files, this could take a minute or so. If you shoot in JPEG, the time will be much shorter. Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 44

The resulting image is in Photoshop.Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 45

From here, just go on to edit your image however you want. Below are both the in-camera image and the resulting Smart Object image using the tutorial above. Yes, there are differences, but you get the idea. Create a Unique Image with Intentional Camera Movement and Multiple Exposures 46

Have Fun

For myself, these techniques were born out of necessity due to one of my dogs being so impatient when out with the camera. I enjoyed shooting when out walking, just recording a scene or location that I would perhaps come back to. However, one of my dogs, Inca, had other ideas and would get up to all sorts of mischief when I stopped to shoot. So, to keep an eye on her and shoot, I would keep walking and do intentional camera movement on the move. She’s a lot better now, and now, I can stop for five minutes or so and do whatever I feel the scene dictates.

If you’ve tried intentional camera movement and multiple exposures, you’ll know that they can be quite rewarding at times and produce something unique. Plus the bonus is that you’re not so caught up with focusing and exposure effectiveness. I’m looking forward to trying multiple exposures with architecture when I head to the city.

If you haven’t tried it, give it a go; it can be fun and breathe a new dimension into your photography.

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How a Professional Landscape Photographer Creates an Image From Capture Through Editing

How a Professional Landscape Photographer Creates an Image From Capture Through Editing

Landscape photography is a challenging genre that takes the confluence of a lot of techniques, creative ideas, and more to bring an image to fruition, but it is quite rewarding when you see the finished photo. This awesome video tutorial will show you how a professional landscape photographer shoots an image, from choosing the right focal length all the way through the edit. 

Coming to you from Landscape Photography iQ with Tom Mackie, this great video tutorial will show you how he shoots a landscape photo from start to finish. One thing that I have always loved about landscape photography is how many distinct images you can get from a single scene, depending on the time of day, the weather, the season, and more. If you are newer to the genre, do not be afraid to experiment with different focal lengths. We almost all tend to default to using wide angle lenses for landscape work, and while they can certainly produce fantastic results, a telephoto can be an excellent way to explore your creativity. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Mackie. 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out “Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi.” 

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dark_lord’s latest blog : image enhancement ? still seen as ‘cheating’?


Image Enhancement – Still Seen As ‘Cheating’?

28 Jul 2021 9:46PM  
Views : 47
Unique : 46

It’s a long held belief that using software to enhance an image is the devil’s own work. I’m not talking about creating misleading, fake or fraudulent imagery but using simple basic adjustments that many images benefit from.

The idea for this blog came from reading a description of post-capture processing on an image uploaded for critique. It’s welcome to see someone detail their processing steps, so that we know what has been done to the image. It must be noted that these were bread and butter adjustments such as contrast, levels, and so on. It’s a pity the original unprocessed image wasn’t included so that a comparison and assessment of the changes could be made. Were the steps taken enough or did they go too far? That’s what’s needed in order to provide the most useful feedback. While different people will have different ideas, further small adjustments did improve matters.


Straight from the camera

That last sentence is the caveat. Ten different photographers will produce ten different results from the same image. I don’t mean because they use different gear (hough that could be the case), but give them a RAW file to work on and the same software to use you won’t get ten identical results. True, some will be quite close to one another, but some won’t. Indeed, a single photographer can easily create several versions all of which they like.

While it’s hard, if not impossible, to dial out personal choice and style, and I don’t advise anyone to go that route (unless they’re) there are good practices to observe. We all want our images to look as good as we want. It can be that we’re too close to our own work. Coming back a day later and evaluating what’s been done can be helpful. Sometimes a small comment is enough to make us see what needs to be changed. For example, on one of my images, quite a number of years ago now, reference was made to a slight magenta cast. It was there, and using the white balance picker on the white background made the image so much more viewable.


Colour Balance warmed, Shadows lifted, Curves adjustment

I’m talking about basic adjustments required in order to bring out the best in an image. Good colour, contrast, shadow and highlight detail retrieval, a crop maybe, and so forth. Nothing that creates a fraudulent result (for example removing or adding people from a street scene for political ends or creating artificial looking skin in a portrait, though those types of manipulation have ben done decades before digital appeared).


Straight from the camera

Years ago, photographers would choose a particular film for its characteristics. Velvia to a boost insipid tons in a drab northern European winter landscape, Astia for more natural skin tones. Filters would be used to control colour, polarisers to boost saturation. Not to mention the renditions of different black and white films together with contrast enhancing filters and control over the print using different contrast grades of paper. All of which are choices you have using the basic adjustments of which I described above. You’re just replicating what has always been done, albeit with a greater degree of control.


Levels and Curves adjustments and further Curves adjustment on the sky

The allegation of ‘cheating’ is misplaced and comes from a lack of understanding, mainly from non photographers who don’t understand either analogue or digital methods and would have had negative film processed at a low cost (that must mean good value and thus a good job) minilab and accepting the results as given. Even some dyed in the wool photographers at the start of digital photography regarded the greater control with scepticism, and I think, apart from the fact it was a change, considered it cheating because they didn’t understand computers and software not realising the potential and freedom to actually produce the style of images they always wished for. Yes there would be a steep learning curve, and that doesn’t suit everyone. There is also the fact that so much more responsibility was put on the photographer to come up with the goods. No more blaming it on the local photo processing lab.

There are still purists who don’t like post capture processing, preferring to accept the jpegs straight out of camera (or other device), not necessarily realising that a whole lot of processing has already been done defined by algorithms with no creative appreciation. That’s their choice of course. In the end they’re missing out on getting the best from their efforts.

So, for the rest of us, let’s continue with our adjustments.


Too far?

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021

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