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6 Pieces of Camera Gear That Improved a Landscape Photographer’s Work

6 Pieces of Camera Gear That Improved a Landscape Photographer's Work

Landscape photography requires a fair share of specialized gear, and knowing when to upgrade or what to splurge on can make a big difference in both your image quality and the ease and enjoyment of the experience. This excellent video features an experienced landscape photographer discussing six such pieces of gear that improved his landscape photography. 

Coming to you from Mark Denney, this great video discusses six pieces of camera gear that significantly improved his landscape photography. One of the most overlooked but useful purchases I made was a professional backpack. Landscape photography often requires multi-mile hikes to get to locations, and with a few dozen pounds of equipment on your back, proper ergonomics, padding, etc. can make a huge difference. Beyond that, you will often be exposed to the elements, and a good bag can offer all the sort of protection you need to be able to trust that your gear is not going to be ruined by a leak or the like. I have had mine for about eight years now, and it has not failed me yet. Check out the video for the full rundown from Mark Denney. 

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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Apple’s New iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max Boast Improved Cameras

Apple's New iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max Boast Improved Cameras

Apple's New iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max Boast Improved Cameras 1

Apple has announced the new iPhone 13 Pro (6.1″) and Pro Max (6.7″) devices featuring a familiar but improved design over the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.

The new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max may look similar to the last generation iPhones but there is a lot updated behind the glass and metal. The front of the phones has been redesigned allowing for a 20 percent smaller top-notch which gives a bit more screen space.

Speaking of the screen, it boasts a super retina XDR display with up to 1,000 nits of outdoor brightness, all protected by the Ceramic Sheild front cover which Apple boasts as being tougher than any smartphone glass. The device is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance as well.

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For the first time in an iPhone, Apple has finally implemented a faster refreshing display. The Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion has an adaptive refresh rate that will switch in real-time from 10Hz to 120Hz allowing for fast frame rates when users need it, and saving battery life when they don’t.

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The inside of the devices has been completely redesigned to be more efficient and allow for a larger battery which provides 1.5 to 2.5 hours of additional life over the previous generation of smartphones depending on the model. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are powered by the A15 Bionic chip which provides up to a 50 percent improved performance to the phones speed, graphics display, and touch reactivity and accuracy leveraging a new 5-core GPU and a new 6-core CPU that has two new high-performance cores and four new high-efficiency cores. On top of this, the device boasts a 16-core Neural engine that is capable of handling 15.8 trillion operations per second, allowing for a faster third-party app experience.

The biggest update to the new phone is by far the camera system with pre-build photographic styles, an entirely new set of sensors and lenses all optimized to work smoothly with iOS 15. They are powered by a new image signal processor (ISP) on the A15 Bionic chip for an “improved noise reduction and tone mapping.” Apple says this system is the best camera system ever on iPhone and all the cameras now include Sensor-Shift optical image stabilization (OIS).

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The new Ultra Wide camera features a much wider ƒ/1.8 aperture and a new autofocus system, which Apple says brings a 92 percent improvement for low-light environments and produces images that are brighter and sharper. iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max also boast a new 77 mm Telephoto camera, allowing users to get closer to their subjects while recording video and achieve even more classically framed portraits, offering 3x optical zoom for a total 6x optical zoom range on the camera system.

Below are a few sample photos captured with the new iPhone 13 Pro:

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On top of the improved sensors and a new 77mm telephoto camera, the new Ultra-Wide camera now supports macro capabilities allowing users to capture sharp images with a minimum focus distance of just two centimeters. Below are some sample images that show what can be captured with the macro mode:

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Of note, it does not appear as though users will have to go with the larger iPhone 13 Pro Max in order to get the better camera system, as the Pro and Pro Max both share the same cameras and features.

The new iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max devices bring more to the video side of things also adding ProRes support, Dolby Vision HDR, and a new “cinematic mode” that will apply real-time depth-mapping to the video allowing for precise “focus pulling” even after the video has been shot. This includes being able to shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second right on the device.

More details on what to expect from this mode are explained in PetaPixel’s coverage of the iPhone 13 and 13 mini.

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The new iPhone Pro is available in graphite, gold, sierra blue, and silver with 128G, 256G, 512G, and 1TB storage capacities starting at $999 for the 13 Pro and $1099 for the Pro Max. The phones are available for pre-order starting today and will hit store shelves on Friday, September 24.

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Best stylus for iPad: Improved drawing & writing

Person using stylus for iPad

Best iPad stylus for photographers White, Apple stylus pencil for iPad Apple Pencil 2nd Generation


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Still one of the best digital pens on the market.

Best iPad stylus for artists Black, digital stylus pencil for iPad with palm rejection Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil with Palm Rejection

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A great alternative to the Apple Pencil.

Best iPad stylus for note-takers Orange and gray Logitech digital pencil for iPad Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro

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A wonderful tool for taking notes.

By: Dan Bergstein

Time to give your fingers a rest and get better control of your work with the best styluses for iPads. Touting new, improved functions and a range of price points, the world of digital pens goes well beyond the iconic Apple Pencil. But how do you know which pen is the new king of iPad accessories and which is just a glorified twig? The stylus used for sketching and drawing may not be the best stylus for note-taking and photo editing. Explore your options, discover today’s latest and greatest features, and find the best stylus pen for artists, photographers, and anyone else who wants to get the most out of their iPad.

While using the official Apple Pencil seems like the obvious best choice for an iPad stylus, new features and precision from its competitors have opened up the stylus market. Today’s iPad styluses come in a wide variety of options, with plenty to choose from. But you don’t need to be overwhelmed. The most important part of any quality stylus is that it makes your work easier. Look for the options and ergonomics that suit your work. 

How much should you spend on a stylus?

There’s no denying that some of the best styluses for iPads have a shockingly scary price tag. Spending over $100 for something your finger can do for free is a huge barrier for entry to those new to stylus drawing. But many of these pricey pens are loaded with features that are well worth the money. 

For artists and designers, a stylus is required for creating content quickly and comfortably on an iPad. You’re paying for precision and convenience. Pressure-sensitive pens let users change line width on the fly, just like a real pen or brush. Tilt functions can also help cycle through different line types for shading. And high-tech sensors will detect and ignore your palm as it rests on the screen. Those bells and whistles aren’t cheap, but they are handy. 

If you don’t need all the pressure sensitivity in your drawing stylus, you can find inexpensive pens for less than $20. These get the job done, but only if the job is simple note-taking or doodling. The less expensive models are nothing more than a plastic barrel with a conductive rubber or plastic tip. However, they are a comfortable step up from using your fingers. 

Before the price of an iPad stylus sends you into recoil, look at the form and functions of these iPad accessories. The extra money may well be worth it if the tool eliminates frustration and increases productivity. 

Do you want a stylus that works well under pressure?

Pressure sensitivity is one of the biggest concerns for artists and designers. The ability to render lines of varying thickness in a natural motion makes sketching on a digital screen much easier. Programs like Photoshop recognize pressure-sensitive styluses and put them to good use. With a little practice, an old-school pen and paper artist will have complete control over their new digital canvas. 

Pressure-sensitive pens will need to sync up to your tablet (usually via Bluetooth) so the pen and the screen can communicate and give you the most accurate line possible. 

Tilt sensitivity allows users to alter the line like that of a traditional pencil. Tilt the stylus down and the side of the tip will create shaded markings. This is a fantastic tool for artists who do a lot of inking and shading to create shadow effects. However, if you’re just using the pen for note-taking, a tilt function may not be necessary. 

What type of tablet are you using?

Apple loves to update its products and operating systems. Before you buy any expensive stylus for iPads, check to make sure the pen is compatible with your current tablet. For example, the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation works with the iPad Pro 12.9 inch (3rd and 4th generation) and the iPad Pro11 inch (1st and 2nd generation). If your tablet is outdated, a new stylus will lose some (or all!) of its features. 

But don’t be afraid to pair another stylus brand like Adonit with your Apple product. These third-party pen makers have a proven track record of artist-worthy materials and will often work well with an iPad. Just read the specs and double-check that the pen is designed to work with your tablet.

The stylus must feel good in your hand

Do not overlook ergonomics. The stylus should feel solid, yet lightweight in your hand. Your thumb and forefinger should rest comfortably around the barrel. Your hand should not cramp even after twenty minutes of heavy use. And any additional buttons or controls should be easy to operate. 

You may think some iPad styluses look too big and bulky, but these larger pens actually feel great when you start using them. There will be a learning curve, especially for the more feature-rich styluses, so even if you don’t like the feel of the stylus right away, try it out for a few minutes if possible. It may look clunky, but after a couple of dashes and dots, you’ll get the hang of it and wonder how you ever worked with standard pens and pencils.

Don’t lose your iPad stylus

Losing a stylus is no laughing matter, especially if you paid $100 for the mighty pen. Even the best stylus for iPads has a tendency to disappear. The barrels of some stylus designs are round…very round. They will roll right off your desk if you’re not careful. There are magnetic pens and tablet cases that will keep your digital pen secured when not in use. Depending on the brand, you can even find dedicated pen holders that sit on your desk. A simple pocket clip can also ensure the stylus pen won’t scurry off the desk, or a  few strategically placed rubber bands may also do the tick. Whatever method you choose, don’t underestimate the stylus’s ability to slide away into the unknown.

The best stylus for iPads

No matter your budget, there is a new, high-quality stylus that can make creative work a whole lot easier. When you understand the different functions and features of the top tier digital pens, these new tools can be incredibly useful and worth the extra cash. But even if you need a simple stylus for jotting notes, there are new, affordable designs that feel great. 

The best iPad stylus for photographers: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation

White, Apple stylus pencil for iPad

High Quality Control

The industry leader still makes one of the best iPad accessories. Apple

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Let’s start with the all-star. The Apple Pencil 2nd Generation is the overall best stylus for drawing or photo editing on the iPad. It’s a precise instrument capable of multiple functions simply by tapping the side of the barrel. It works seamlessly with Lightroom, Affinity Photo, or Pixelmato. It connects magnetically to iPad Pro 12 and 11 for easy charging and device pairing. Simply set the pen along the top of your iPad and everything magically connects and charges. The second-generation Apple Pencil feels better than the original, with a matte finish and flat side that prevents it from rolling away. It’s not the cheapest stylus for iPads, but it is one of the best.  

The best iPad stylus for artists: Adonit Note+ Digital Pencil with Palm Rejection

Black, digital stylus pencil for iPad with palm rejection

Tons of Features

This stylus has all the power of an Apple Pencil in a less expensive package. Adonit

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Price matters, and not all of us can afford the $120 Apple Pencil. Fortunately, the Adonit Note+ has all the pressure and tilt sensitivity an artist needs for half the price of an Apple Pencil. Use the two shortcut buttons to make drawing and erasing easier. If your app of choice supports it, the Note+ has palm recognition sensitivity. And the pen feels solid and professional in your hand. The downside: No magnets. It must be charged via cable. And the pressure sensitivity is good, but not as great as the Apple Pencil. If you’re looking for a cheap alternative to the Apple Pencil but still want robust functionality, the Note+ is one powerful quill.

The best iPad stylus for note-takers: Logitech Crayon Digital Pencil for iPad Pro

Orange and gray Logitech digital pencil for iPad

Comfortable Grip

Jot down notes and ideas with a powerful stylus designed for everyone. Logitech

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Logitech had originally designed the Crayon digital pencil for schools, but it’s now one of the best all-around iPad styluses. The lines are fast and accurate, and the tilt control works well enough for quick doodles. If you need an iPad stylus for taking notes during a meeting or sketching out rough ideas, the Logitech Crayon is one of the best. The biggest drawback is the lack of pressure sensitivity, which means this isn’t ideal for serious artists who need greater control of the lines.  Plus, the price point is a bit too high for this to be a toss-in-the-backpack school stylus.  

The best iPad stylus for students: JAMEJAKE Stylus Pen for iPad with Palm Rejection

White stylus pen for iPad with palm rejection

Useful Palm Recognition

Give kids a powerful writing tool at a more affordable price. JAMJAKE

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An iPad can be your kid’s best friend, but trying to do school work on the screen is tough without a good stylus. The JAMEJAKE stylus has palm recognition, which is a must for kids who will easily get frustrated with unwanted lines and marks caused by their resting hands. At $25, it’s not the cheapest iPad stylus, but it will last longer than low-quality $5 styluses. This is the perfect stylus for students in middle school and high school who want to write and draw on their tablets. 

The best ipad stylus for multi-taskers: KECOW Active Stylus Pen Compatible for iOS&Android

White, aluminum stylus pen for iPad with dual touch function

Affordable and Versatile

Go from screen to screen with an inexpensive stylus that works with all tablets and smartphones. KECOW

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The KECOW Active Stylus is the mid-step between cheaply designed styluses that cost from $5 to a $50 high-quality digital writing instrument. There is no pressure or tilt sensitivity. There is no Bluetooth connectivity. This is a simple writing stylus that works well and feels great. Go from quick sketching on an iPad to writing notes on your smartphone without hassle or connectivity issues. Writing appears on screen without lag. It’s great for offices and meetings. Best of all, it’s more professional than the dollar store styluses and will make any work feel more important.   

FAQs

Q: Can you use any stylus with an iPad? 

No, you can’t use any stylus with an iPad. Today’s styluses are high-tech writing tools with features like palm recognition, pressure sensitivity, and tilt responsiveness. To accomplish those features, the stylus will need to pair with the tablet. Some styluses will only work with Microsoft and Android devices, and some iPad styluses will only pair with the latest generation of Apple tablet. That’s why it’s important to read the specifications of any stylus to ensure it will work with your tablet. That said, if all you want is a simple stick for making marks and writing notes, you can use just about any stylus you want. But you’re giving up many of the fun functions of truly digital pens. 

Q: Is there a cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil?

Yes, there is a cheaper alternative to the Apple Pencil. The Adonit Note+ is one of the best styluses you can get and costs much less than the Apple Pencil. It has all the functions of the Apple Pencil with one exception: It needs a cord to charge. The Apple Pencil uses conductive charging through its handy magnetic pen holder, making for a more elegant experience. But if you don’t mind charging your iPad stylus with a USB cable, the Adonit Note+ is a solid choice for the best stylus.

Q: Which is better: Apple Pencil or Logitech Crayon?

Between the Apple Pencil or the Logitech Crayon, the Apple-branded stylus is the clear winner. Engineered and designed specifically for iPads, the Apple Pencil works like a dream with easy connectivity, sensitive pressure control, and seamless app integration. The Logitech Crayon is a great stylus, but its lack of pressure sensitivity can be a dealbreaker for artists. The Crayon attempts to make up for it with a useful tilt function (tilt the stylus to create different line widths), but for professionals familiar with the pixel-precise pressure sensitivity of a Cintiq artist tablet, the Apple Pencil is the best all-around stylus for iPads.

FAQs

The final word on the best stylus for iPads

There’s no shortage of iPad styluses with all types of functions and price points. The key is to find an iPad stylus that not only has all the functions you need, but with a price tag you can afford. For students and younger iPad users, you may want to save money and get a basic digital pen. For artists and photographers who need precision, a high-end iPad stylus is well worth the money. Check the make and model of your iPad to find a stylus that works. And don’t get frustrated straight away—it may take a while before you become comfortable with the new writing tool. With a little practice, the best stylus for an iPad makes any creative endeavor easier and more productive. 

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DxO Unveils NIK Collection 4: New Meta Presets, Improved U Point Tech

DxO Unveils NIK Collection 4: New Meta Presets, Improved U Point Tech

DxO Unveils NIK Collection 4: New Meta Presets, Improved U Point Tech 19

DxO has released version 4 of the Nik Collection photo editing plugins. It contains major improvements to the U Point technology, seamless interactions with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom through the leveraging of smart objects, as well as a new and improved set of Meta presets.

This update comes just a year after the launch of Version 3 with the focus this time on Viveza and Silver Efex.

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The new Nik Collection 4 comes loaded with over 250 presets and an enhanced U Point technology for local adjustment controls. Along with these powerful updates comes an improved UI particularly notable with Nik Viveza and Nik Silver Efex. These two apps have been completely redesigned “to offer an optimal user experience, featuring a modern interface that is more beautiful and functional than ever.” The new interface makes it easier for users to directly access all available presets, filter by type or favorites, and identify tools through the new layout and palettes.

Improved U Point Technology

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A long-time favorite user feature of this software suite has been the U Point tool for localized adjustments. This allows users to apply adjustments locally without the use of complicated masks, which can speed up the user’s workflow. With this update, it is now possible to incorporate control points into customized presets.

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This means photographers can easily apply a similar style to multiple images while still preserving a specific area: users can choose to apply a specific color effect as well as a burred background to several portraits. The new U Point tool also includes a new color selectivity setting that provides the ability to regulate the saturation of a specific tone range. Editors can select the color they wish to edit, as well as the tolerance of similar color hues. Finally, the U Point tool has been updated to include fewer sliders, which DxO says makes it easier to view adjustments and rename them to optimize personal workflow experiences.

Meta Presets

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With Nik Collection 4, there is a new type of filter that has been added for use in Adobe Photoshop called “Meta Presets.” These are actions that combine the filters and settings of several Nik Collection Plugins into one to apply to images quickly and easily. There are 10 included with this release that are available directly from within the Nik Selective Tool panel for Photoshop as seen in the screenshot above. While it is currently not possible to save your own Meta Presets, it is a feature that the dev team is working on for a future update.

Improved Photoshop and Lightroom Workflow

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The Last Edit function, which lets users re-apply the last preset they used in one of the Nik Collection plugins while using Adobe Photoshop, has been extended to include Adobe Lightroom Classic. In addition, the new Smart Copy and Paste feature lets users selectively re-apply the effect of a plugin to one or several images directly in Adobe Lightroom without having to launch the software suite’s interface.

Better Black and White Images

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In an effort to help users create better black and white images, Nik Silver Efex has been updated to include a new tool called ClearView. First offered in DxO PhotoLab, the tool removes haze and enhances local contrast in a manner that isn’t as harsh as those found in the Dehaze tool within Lightroom when applied heavily. The technology allows editors to clean up haze in images while keeping the edges, details, and transitions looking natural.

More Presets

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As mentioned above, this launch comes with over 250 professional presets including 10 for Viveza and 39 for Silver Efex that were developed by working professional photographers.

Pricing and Availability

The Nik Collection 4 is available now from the DxO website for $100 instead of the regular price of $149 — and $60 instead of $79 for those upgrading from the previous version — until June 30, 2021. A fully functional, one-month trial version of Nik Collection 4 is available on the DxO website here.

It is worth noting that at the time of this release, the Nik Collection 4 does not natively support the M1 version of Adobe Photoshop. The development team has told PetaPixel that this is on their radar and they hope to have an updated and fully compatible installer soon.

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7 Tips That Improved This Landscape Photographer the Most

7 Tips That Improved This Landscape Photographer the Most

There’s an unscalable mountain of information in our hands, and while that has incredible power, it can also mean that finding profound nuggets of wisdom is difficult. Here are seven tips that one expert landscape photographer found the most useful.

Nigel Danson is a landscape photographer from my homeland, albeit in a far more photogenic location. Danson has created hundreds of videos of him working and many are filled with stunning imagery. However, what is particularly useful about Danson’s videos, is the education side, particularly for photographers in their early stages. Rather than go over some of Danson’s points in this video, I’ll offer what I believe to be one of the most valuable tips.

I think very few people have a natural talent for a skill, and it’s almost always the case that when a person is right at the top of their field, they got there off the back of that skill as the primary driving force. From what I can tell, the best ways to really improve are by brute-forcing your way to success. That is, practicing over and over, using constructive feedback to improve. However, if I were to give one tip to photographers looking to improve it would be “consistency”. Try to take at least one photograph every single day and don’t worry too much about how good it will be. You’ll soon start looking for different styles and compositions and this will both hone your eye and develop your technical abilities.

What tip has improved you the most as a photographer?

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Snap Launches Ambitious New AR Spectacles with Improved Camera Tech

Snap Launches Ambitious New AR Spectacles with Improved Camera Tech

Confirming a report from early March, Snap has officially announced its ambitious next-generation augmented reality (AR) Spectacles. They sound incredibly ambitous, but they also aren’t for sale.

The new, lightweight display glasses are made for creators and enables them to overlay what are called “Lenses” directly onto the world through immersive AR. The company says it is building a camera that “transforms how its community interacts with the world around them through access to contextual information and richer augmented reality experiences.” Given that Snapchat plays host to one of the most popular camera platforms with over 5 billion snaps created each day, the new Spectacles appear to be an ideal tool to work with and develop content for the AR.

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Tapping into the sense of sight, touch, and sound, the Spectacles use dual 3D waveguide displays and a 26.3-degree field of view that allow them to overlay Lenses on the world in front of the wearer. Powered by a new Snap Spatial Engine, the company says that Lenses react quickly and appear accurately in the wearer’s field of view with only 15 milliseconds of motion to photon latency. The display also dynamically adjusts up to 2000 nits of brightness which allows the Spectacles to provide a solid AR experience both indoors and outside. The new 134-gram Specs also include two cameras, four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, and a touchpad that allows for a multi-sensorial experience.

According to Snap, the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 powered AR Spectacles include a case that can charge the device up to three times that can juice the glasses for up to 30 minutes per charge. Snap does not specify how long it takes to recharge the specs once fully exhausted.

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App Updates

Beginning later in the year, users will be able to share clips from YouTube and YouTube Music directly into Snapchat. Additionally, Snap has announced a new integration with Bumble that will allow users to send selfies with Snapchat Lenses from within the dating app.

Snap has also shared its recently announced effort for a more “inclusive” camera system through an overhaul on how its camera functions. The company worked with several noted directors of photography from the film industry to learn techniques they use to best capture actors with darker skin tones. Previously Snap’s lenses did not always work consistently for people with darker skin, with the use of its new Camera Kit, developers can make its camera more inclusive.

This inclusivity initiative mirrors the one announced by Google earlier this week.

Scan and Camera Shortcuts

“Scan” is a feature that enables Snapchatters to search through millions of Lenses by matching what is seen through the camera to the most relevant AR experiences on Snapchat. Snap is bringing the Scan button to the forefront, placing it on the main Camera screen of Snapchat. Screenshop will give shopping recommendations from hundreds of brands when Snapchatters Scan a friend’s outfit. Also, Allrecipes will recommend recipes based on ingredients seen through the Snapchat camera.

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Scan will not only connects Snapchatters to Lenses seamlessly but will also offer suggestions for new ways to use the Snapchat camera with the addition of Camera Shortcuts. These are new combinations of creative tools that make it simple for users to creatively capture moments to share with friends. Camera Shortcuts suggest camera modes, Lenses, and soundtracks relevant to what is seen through the Snapchat camera, and begin rolling out today.

Lens Studio for AR Creators

Snap has also updated Lens Studio with advanced tools that empower creators to build even more robust, innovative Lenses across gaming, education, shopping, and more. This free application update adds the ability to refine the created Lenses over time. The application also features Connected Lenses, which will let friends interact together in real-time, whether located in the same room or across the world. Snap and the LEGO Group have already created the first Connected Lens to collaboratively build with LEGO bricks on Snapchat.

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Lens Studio now offers 3D Body Mesh, Cloth Simulation, and a Visual Effects Editor, which make AR look and move more realistically, as well as allowing creators to build Lenses that understand more than 500 categories of objects. As these Lenses become more advanced, new Lens Analytics give creators the information they need to build even more engaging and retentive experiences. Anonymous and aggregated data offer detailed insights to help creators learn from their audiences and build better Lenses while protecting privacy.

AR Try-On and Business Solutions

The company has also added new AR try-on experiences with fashion partners. Through the use of 3D Body Mesh and voice-enabled controls, Snapchatters can now say what items they’re looking to browse and try them on in AR. “Prada is tapping into new gesture recognition capabilities that let shoppers signal to the camera when they want to try on another item.”

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A new Creator Marketplace connects businesses with creators to build AR experiences, helping businesses elevate their presence on Snapchat by leveraging the expertise of the Lens Creator community.

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While these glasses and the associated partnerships and experiences sound incredibly ambitious, Snap isn’t making the new Spectacles something that everyone can experience. The company says the AR Spectacles are “not for sale, they are for augmented reality creators to reimagine the way we communicate, live, and explore the world together through AR experiences built-in Lens Studio.”

As such, Augmented Reality Creators can apply to get a pair through a website from the company here. Businesses and creators can get started at ar.snap.com.

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Adobe Photoshop Gets Huge Line-Up Of New Features & Adobe Lightroom Is Updated With An Improved Colour Grading Tool

Adobe Photoshop Gets Huge Line-Up Of New Features & Adobe Lightroom Is Updated With An Improved Colour Grading Tool

Photoshop New Photoshop Plug In Experience 2 |
 

 

It’s Adobe Max 2020 and as we expected, new updates have arrived for Adobe Photoshop desktop, Adobe Photoshop for iPad and Adobe Lightroom. The news comes after Adobe introduced a new version of Photoshop Elements 2021 which added new guided edits to the popular photo editing software. 

 

What’s New In Photoshop?

Photoshop Intelligent Refine Edge 1 |
 

There are several feature updates in Adobe Photoshop which are as follows: 

  1. Neural Filters
  2. Sky Replacement
  3. Select Sky
  4. Pattern Preview
  5. Easy to find and install plugins
  6. Improved Learn and Help menu
  7. Refine Hair
  8. Object-Aware Refine Edge
  9. Presets for Select & Mask
  10. Cloud Docs: Version History
  11. Cloud Docs: make available offline always
  12. Live Shapes
  13. Preset Search
  14. Colour Grading in ACR
  15. Reset Smart Objects
  16. Actual Size view preset

 

Neural Filters is a new workspace inside Photoshop that introduces non-destructive filters which are, like many of Photoshop’s features, AI-powered. Skin Smoothing and Style Transfer are the first finished filters to be introduced to users alongside 6 ‘beta’ filters which might work really well on certain types of images, but not as well on others and Adobe want to know what you think of them. 

 

Photoshop Neural Filters 5 |
Photoshop Neural Filters – Moving the light source

 

Smart Portrait is one of these first beta filters and helps you transform age, expression, pose, colours, and more. You can use the gaze and head sliders to change the direction of the eyes or head, or light direction to change the angle of the light source. Subtle changes are encouraged but Adobe does say you can go to town with the options if you really want to. 

 

Photoshop Neural Filters Head And Gaze Slider |
Photoshop Neural Filters Head And Gaze Slider

 

Other Neural Filters include Super Zoom which you can use to boost the resolution of smaller selections within a portrait or remove JPEG artefacts that result from JPEG compression. Depth-Aware haze simulates volumetric haze in your background to better highlight your subject while Colorize can be used to add colour to black and white images in one click thanks to smart technology that uses content-aware colour.

 

Photoshop Neural Filters Style Transfer 3 |
Photoshop Neural Filters Style Transfer

 

If you want to apply a style to your photo that’s taken inspiration from a particular artist, you can with the Style Transfer option. 

 

Photoshop Neural Filters |
Photoshop Neural Filters

 

Filters can be applied non-destructively using the smart filter feature, or applied directly to a layer, or generated as a new layer with the changed pixels. 

Perhaps taking cues from other software creators, the new Sky Replacement feature intelligently separates the sky from the foreground and allows you to create images with dynamic skies in just a few clicks. You can either select the sky yourself with Select > Sky and edit it or use Select > Sky Replacement, choose a new sky from the Adobe database or add your own, and leave the software to do the masking and blending for you. 

 

Photoshop Sky Replacement
Photoshop Sky Replacement

 

Algorithms are also used to make sure your foreground images matches the new sky so if you add a sunset, for example, the whole image will have a ‘golden hour’ look to it. You can also zoom in and select just a section of sky, or move the sky around to find the right configuration. 25 sky presets are currently available should you not have your own collection of skies to choose from. 

 

Photoshop Intelligent Refine Edge 2 |
Photoshop Intelligent Refine Edge 

 

Two new Sensei features have been added to Adobe Photoshop in the Select and Mask workspace and these are Refine Hair and Object Aware Refine Mode.

Refine Hair: This button can be found in the Options bar across the top of the Select and Mask workspace. It seeks out the people in your selection and refines the selection of their hair. 

Object Aware Refine Mode: It’s always been difficult to precisely select hair and other fine elements of an image, particularly when the foreground and background are similar in colour or hard to differentiate like the image above. Now you can click on the Object Aware button to set the Refine Edge mode to make these selections easier and quicker. The Object Aware algorithm has been trained to understand objects in the scene and thus work better with similarly-coloured or similarly-textured backgrounds.

 

Photoshop Discover Panel 1 |
Photoshop Discover Panel

 

The new Photoshop Discover panel combines in-app learning content, tutorials and a search tool in one place. AI will also recommend tips and tutorials for you, based on the actions you perform in Photoshop and one-click Quick Actions can be accessed so you can quickly remove a background, blur a background, make a black & white back background or enhance an image. 

Other new features include a pattern preview tool for those who create or work with patterns regularly, an improved way to create/adjust shapes, an option to reset smart objects in the Properties panel, a faster/easier to use plug-in, version history when working in cloud documents and preset search. 

 

Photoshop Cloud Documents Version History 2 |
Photoshop Cloud Documents Version History 

 

What’s New In Lightroom?

Lightroom MAX Release  Advanced Color Grading |
Lightroom MAX Release Advanced Color Grading

 

With the Lightroom update, you get access to a better Colour Grading tool that will replace the Split Toning tool and give photographers access to more advanced editing controls. The new Advanced Colour Grading tool will give photographers more editing precision by adding colour control for mid-tones in addition to highlights and shadows which can be adjusted via colour wheels. 

 

Lightroom Introducing Color Grading From Split Toning To Color Grading |
 

As well as Colour Grading, you also have access to new graphical watermarking so you can leave a logo stamp on photos and with Auto Versions, Lightroom will now automatically save versions of your edits across all of your devices so you can work and save a version on your PC then move to your iPad and go to the Versions tab to see the version you saved on your PC. 

 

Lightroom MAX Release Auto Versions |
Lightroom MAX Release Auto Versions

 

Under the Learn and Discover sections, your content feed will now intelligently prioritise content based on your activity within Lightroom and you can also stay connected with other photographers within the Lightroom community with the new Follow feature. The final new feature is Best Photos which uses AI to suggest a curated subset of images in an album based on various factors.

 

Lightroom MAX Release Learn And Discover Content |
Lightroom MAX Release Learn And Discover Content

 

In Lightroom Class and Camera RAW, GPU acceleration improves tool usage/speed and if you’re a Canon camera owner with Tethered LiveView, you can now see your camera’s real-time feed to adjust exposure settings and more from Lightroom Classic. 

 

Lightroom MAX Release Lr Classic And Camera Raw |
Lightroom MAX Release Lr Classic And Camera Raw

 

What’s New In Photoshop For iPad?

Photoshop Behance Library |
 

Photoshop Livestreaming In Photoshop On IPad |

 

There are fewer updates for the iPad version of Photoshop with just 4 new features so you can now edit image size, live stream, use the Behance library and there’s a new Document properties panel. There’s also a new Home Screen layout and updated Learn content. 

 

Our Thoughts?

We’ll be putting the new version of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to the test very soon so do keep an eye on our review section where these will be published. 

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Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom

The ZenFone 7 Pro is Asus’s new flagship phone. It keeps the interesting motorized flip-up camera cluster introduced in last year’s ZenFone 6, a neat trick that means the rear cameras are also the front cameras, but the ZenFone 7 Pro also adds a telephoto module to the main and wide cameras. Qualcomm’s top-end Snapdragon 865+ provides plenty of horsepower, paired with 8 GB of memory and 256 GB of fast UFS 3.1 storage plus a memory slot (the company’s non-Pro ZenFone 7 uses the vanilla 865 chipset and has 128 GB of storage, but is otherwise the same).

The main camera has a 64 MP sensor that bins down to 16 MP output — larger and higher resolution than the ZenFone 6’s main camera while maintaining the same pixel pitch. There is now a stabilized 8MP tele-module with an 80 mm-equivalent focal length lens to help with zoom performance. A new wide camera actually offers a slightly narrower field of view than the unit in the ZenFone 6, but now features dual-pixel phase detect autofocus, which makes it more flexible for closeup work than the fixed-focus wide module in the older phone.

Thus the ZenFone 7 Pro offers a range of enhancements over its predecessor, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the best phones on the market? Read our review to find out.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 36

Taking pictures with the Asus ZenFone 7 Pro

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary: 64 MP 1/1.72-inch Quad-Bayer sensor, 26 mm-equivalent lens with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF and OIS
  • Telephoto: 8MP 80 mm-equivalent (3x optical) lens with f/2.4 aperture, PDAF and OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12 MP 1/2.55-inch sensor, 16.6 mm-equivalent lens with f/2.2 aperture, dual pixel PDAF
  • Motorized rotation auto panorama mode
  • Dual LED flash
  • Video: 8K at 30 fps, 4K at 30/60/120 fps (4K at 30 fps tested)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ chipset

About DXOMARK Camera tests: For scoring and analysis in our smartphone camera reviews, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 1600 test images and more than 2 hours of video both in controlled lab environments and in natural indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. This article is designed to highlight the most important results of our testing. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera test protocol, click here. More details on how we score smartphone cameras are available here.

Test summary

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 37

115

camera

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro earned a DXOMARK camera score of 115, slotting in between the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (one point above) and the OnePlus 7T Pro (one point below). Its score is only two points shy of last year’s Apple 11 Pro Max, but is not quite on the same level as the best 2020 flagships.

The ZenFone 7 Pro does well enough with the photographic basics, with a few caveats. Exposure is accurate, although dynamic range could be wider, so high-contrast scenes can result in photos with blown highlights. Color rendition is generally pleasant, both indoors and out, though white balance missteps sometimes produce overly-cool shadows, and color accuracy drops in low light. In good light, the camera captures a lot of detail, though very fine texture is often lost.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 38

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro generally produces nicely rendered colors in outdoor shots.

The addition of a tele-camera module to the ZenFone 7 Pro improves its zoom performance radically over its predecessor, but it still lags behind that of the best devices. Noise and loss of detail hold back zoom performance, as well as limited dynamic range. While the phone’s reach on the long end has been improved, its wide camera goes the other way, delivering a field of view that’s not as wide as on last year’s ZenFone 6.

When the lights go down, the ZenFone 7 Pro performs adequately, but it’s not as comfortable in the dark as some of the competition. It sometimes underexposes low-light scenes, and though detail is good for subjects close enough to light with the flash, heavy processing generally takes a toll on image quality in dim light.

The bokeh mode that simulates shallow depth of field leaves room for improvement, with acceptable but not impressive segmentation between the subject and background, along with some distracting artifacts.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 39

Exposures are accurate and detail is generally good.

The ZenFone 7 Pro earns a Video score of 100. It records 4K video at frame rates up to 120 fps, but we tested it at its 4K 30 fps sweet spot (8K is also on the menu). Videos look pretty good overall and stabilization is quite effective, but dynamic range lags behind the better offerings, so be ready for some clipped highlights and shadows. Autofocus is fast, with efficient subject tracking, though refocusing is sometimes an issue. Even in bright light, noise is higher than we’d like to see. Detail in quite high in good light but drops below many competitors in lower light.

Photo scores explained

The ZenFone 7 Pro earns a Photo score of 122. In this section, we take a closer look at how each sub-score was determined and compare image quality against key competitors in a similar price bracket.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 40

Exposure and Contrast

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro achieves a respectable exposure score of 95. Exposures are accurate all the way down to very low light levels, but dynamic range is not as wide as in the very best devices, so you can expect some blown highlights when photographing challenging high-contrast scenes. That being said, we call these types of scenes “challenging” for a reason, and as you can see in the examples below, some very good phones also struggle with them. All three devices manage a good foreground exposure, but a lot of detail in the bright background is lost despite the best efforts of the HDR algorithms.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 41

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, good exposure, blown highlights

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 42

OnePlus 8 Pro, good exposure, blown highlights

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 43

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, good exposure, blown highlights

In this dynamic range torture test, all three phones expose correctly for the foreground while losing the color of the sky. However, the two comparison devices just manage to hold on to the fence at the top of the distant building, showing they handle a bit wider brightness range than the Asus.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, good exposure, blown sky

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 45

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, slightly less dynamic range

OnePlus 8 Pro, good exposure, blown sky

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 47

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, slightly wider dynamic range

Oppo Find X2 Pro, good exposure, blown sky

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 49

Oppo Find X2 Pro, crop, slightly wider dynamic range

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 50

Color

The ZenFone 7 Pro did quite well in our color tests, earning a solid score of 88. The Asus captures pleasant, accurate color outdoors and indoors, only really slipping at extremely low light levels, when saturation and accuracy drop. A bit too much blue can creep into the shadows in outdoor shots, but it’s not disastrous. In the examples below, we see that the Asus and OnePlus render the scene very nicely, while the Samsung (which under most circumstances delivers very nice color) goes for a cooler white balance.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 51

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro: accurate, pleasant color

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 52

OnePlus 8 Pro: accurate, pleasant color

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 53

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: slightly cool cast

The auto white balance system also works well in this indoor scene. The OnePlus put a slight green cast on the image, while the Samsung stays more faithful (and selects a brighter exposure — probably the right call, even though some incidental background detail is lost to overexposure).

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 54

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro: accurate, pleasant color

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 55

OnePlus 8 Pro: slight green cast

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 56

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra: accurate, pleasant color

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 57

Autofocus

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro earned a perfect score in our autofocus testing, quickly and accurately locking focus under any lighting condition. This is becoming par for the course with the best phones, but some still slip up more than the Asus.

This graph shows the results of our autofocus lab test at 20 lux (quite dark). The ZenFone’s points are clustered on and to the right of the moment the shutter button was pressed, showing almost no delay (thus giving an impression of instantaneous response). Some phones “preshoot” by pulling images recorded to the buffer before the button is actually pressed in an effort to offset reaction lag (we see this in the OnePlus 8 Pro results below), but the Asus does not do this.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 58

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, low-light (20 lux) autofocus performance

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 59

Texture

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 60

Noise

The ZenFone 7 Pro captures a lot of detail in good light, earning a texture score of 79 — not as good as the best, but perfectly respectable. Noise is fairly well controlled but more visible than with some of the competition.

In the examples below, we see that all three phones capture similar levels of detail, though the Asus has slightly overexposed for the scene. The ZenFone 7 Pro occasionally renders detail unnaturally (probably a sharpening issue), but things look good in this photo.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, outdoor detail

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 62

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, good detail

OnePlus 8 Pro, outdoor detail

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 64

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, good detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, outdoor detail

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 66

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, good detail

In lower light, the Asus is a bit less successful at juggling noise and detail. In the indoor example below, the Asus shows some noise on the model’s face that the other phones avoid. Larger structured detail is reasonably well rendered, but the Asus sometimes does away entirely with fine, low-contrast detail, and we see that here in the model’s corduroy shirt. In the ZenFone photo, portions of the shirt appear smooth. The Samsung maintains a subtle but consistent suggestion of the shirt’s texture, while the Xiaomi, the best performer in this regard that we’ve seen to date, is in a different league altogether.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, indoor detail and noise

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 68

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, missing detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, indoor detail and noise

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 70

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, more detail

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, indoor detail and noise

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 72

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, crop, excellent detail

The chart below confirms that noise levels in the ZenFone 7 Pro’s images are quite low in strong light but rise in lower light. The real-world examples above suggest that Asus may be smoothing away some low-contrast detail to achieve these noise levels.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 73

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, visual noise comparison

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 74

Artifacts

The ZenFone 7 Pro produces more artifacts than we like to see in the output of a high-end phone. The steepest penalty against its score was due to softness towards the edges of the frame, but our testers also noticed heavy ringing caused by oversharpening along high-contrast borders, along with distortion, cyan shift, and lens flare.

Here we see obvious corner softness:

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, artifacts

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 76

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, obvious corner softness

And here we see ghosting as the leaves flutter in the breeze, and ringing along the high-contrast boundaries of branches and sky:

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, artifacts

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 78

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, ghosting and ringing

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 79

Zoom

The biggest imaging change to the ZenFone 7 Pro over its predecessor is the addition of a dedicated telephoto module, and this helps to more than double its zoom score from 38 to 77. But zoom development is one of the hottest, most competitive areas of innovation in phone imaging technology, and even with the upgrade, the Asus is left in the dust by the best on the market, with our top score to date a full 40 points higher.

Its tele-camera lets the ZenFone hold its own at medium zoom range, delivering fairly good detail, albeit with restricted dynamic range and more noise than is ideal. In the examples below, it captures a bit more detail than the OnePlus, and a bit less than the Samsung (which has the advantages of a longer focal length for its tele-camera and higher resolution output). The Asus also holds the highlights much better than the Samsung, though not as well as the OnePlus, which opts for a higher-contrast, more saturated rendering that still keeps the shadows sufficiently bright.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, medium zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 81

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, good detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, medium zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 83

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, good detail

OnePlus 8 Pro, medium zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 85

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, good detail

At longer zoom ranges, the limits of the ZenFone’s 3X tele module become more apparent, as detail levels and contrast drop. In the examples below, the Asus image looks a lot like that of the OnePlus, except that the OnePlus retains the highlights in the pine tree while the ZenFone doesn’t. The Xiaomi captures far more detail than the other two, but like the Asus, it fails to keep the sunlit tree from blowing out.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, long zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 87

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, reduced detail and contrast

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 89

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, reduced detail and contrast

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, long zoom

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 91

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, crop, good detail and contrast

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 92

Bokeh

The ZenFone 7 Pro’s bokeh mode for simulating shallow depth of field in portraiture is not the phone’s strong suit. The small depth estimation errors that are common among the competition are on display here, especially (as usual) around very fine detail like hair, which is difficult to distinguish from the background, but the Asus sometimes flubs easier foreground subjects as well.

Perhaps most critically, the ZenFone 7 Pro often creates texture artifacts on the subject’s skin that produce an unnatural look. Extra noise, and a mix of excessive blurring and sharpening, can create strange effects. In the examples below, we see this in the plastic look of the model’s skin and the eyes that look over-processed. The OnePlus sample, by contrast, suffers from a lack of detail in the face but looks much better overall than the ZenFone’s crunchy rendering. The Samsung, our high scorer for bokeh mode at the time of this writing, showcases the state of the art with very natural-looking skin and good subject separation with a strong blur effect.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 94

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, unnatural texture and processing

OnePlus 8 Pro, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 96

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, reduced detail

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 98

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, crop, natural rendering

The Asus uses a wider field of view than most phones when capturing bokeh mode portraits, which can be less flattering; the difference is visible below. On the plus side, more distant backgrounds are nicely blurred, though many of the problems previously noted are also visible in the sample below. The Xiaomi produces a more natural-looking portrait than the Asus or the OnePlus, though it doesn’t compare as well to the Samsung’s output above.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 100

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, nicely blurred background

OnePlus 8 Pro, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 102

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, less background blur

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, bokeh mode

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 104

Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro, crop, nicely blurred background

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 105

Wide

The ZenFone 7 Pro’s wide camera produces pleasant enough photos, with accurate exposure and nice colors overall. As with the main camera, dynamic range is a little narrower than ideal, and shadows sometimes have a cold cast. Noise is often visible but not too intrusive.

The main problem with this wide camera is that it’s just not that wide. It defaults to the field of view of a 16.8 mm-equivalent lens, and you can pinch out to push it to 16.6 mm-equivalent, presumably achieved by reducing distortion correction. The ZenFone fits a bit less in the frame than the 14 mm-equivalent lenses that we see from Samsung, not to mention the 12 mm-equivalent ultra-wide module in the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra (though to be fair, the Xiaomi is in a different price category).

In the examples below, we see that the Samsung squeezes a bit more into the frame while offering greater dynamic range.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 106

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro: reduced field of view, less dynamic range

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 107

Samsung Galaxy S20 Pro: wider field of view, more dynamic range

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 108

Night

After dark, the ZenFone 7 Pro can’t keep up with the best night shooters, but still produces acceptable photos under low-light conditions.

In flash-auto mode, the phone detects faces and fires the flash appropriately, producing nicely exposed night portraits that contain a lot of detail. The Asus captures some background light as well, but underexposes beyond flash range in very low light. Skin tones are acceptable, though the comparison devices in the example below show that more pleasing renditions are possible. The Asus retains more detail and has a better background exposure than the OnePlus, while the Oppo has nicer color.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, flash-auto

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 110

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, good detail

OnePlus 8 Pro, flash-auto

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 112

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, less detail

Oppo Find X2 Pro, flash-auto

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 114

Oppo Find X2 Pro, crop, good detail

The ZenFone 7 Pro usually exposes accurately when shooting at night with the flash turned off, and white balance is generally accurate. In the cityscape below, we see that detail levels could be better, there’s some unnatural-looking processing, and colors are a bit desaturated. The phone’s HDR algorithms don’t do very well with retaining highlight information. The OnePlus doesn’t do much better, but the Oppo delivers a more pleasing image despite its slightly lower exposure.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, flash off

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 116

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, crop, lost detail and highlights

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 118

OnePlus 8 Pro, crop, lost detail and highlights

Oppo Find X2 Pro, flash off

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 120

Oppo Find X2 Pro, crop, better detail and highlight retention

At the lowest light levels, the ZenFone 7 Pro underexposes and has trouble maintaining accurate color. In these situations you can try the dedicated night mode, which captures a slightly brighter exposure than the default flash-off mode.

Video scores explained

A device’s overall Video score is derived from its performance and results across a range of attributes in the same way as the Photo score. The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro’s video scores are as follows: Exposure (80), Color (90), Autofocus (93), Texture (77), Noise (77), Artifacts (85), and Stabilization (93). In this section, we take a closer look at the device’s strengths and weakness for video, with some comparisons against key competitors.

Video performance is acceptable but not inspiring, earning an overall Video score of 100. Our testers noticed a slight tendency towards underexposure, though the chart below shows accurate if lower exposure than the reference devices. Dynamic range is somewhat restricted compared to some of the more capable competition, and our testers noticed clipping in both highlights and shadows — all factors that contributed to a subpar exposure score.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 121

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, video target exposure comparison

Objective testing reveals some weakness in the Asus’s video color rendition, but it’s not too bad perceptually. The main problem flagged by our testers was tone compression, most noticeable when the greens of foliage sometimes turn gray. Cool shadows were also an issue, though white balance outdoors was accurate overall.

Detail levels are fairly high, except when the lights get low.

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 122

Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, video texture comparison

Measured noise is fairly low in bright light but increases as illumination drops. In perceptual scoring, our testers noticed noise even when shooting in bright outdoor conditions (where it was visible in the shadows) and indoors in more subdued light, where it was more pervasive.
Asus ZenFone 7 Pro Camera review: Much improved tele-zoom 123
Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, video spatial noise comparison

Autofocus was fast and tracking was smooth in video mode under all lighting conditions. However, the ZenFone lost some points for problems with unnecessary refocusing. Stabilization was effective, with a good balance between keeping the image steady, avoiding frame shift, and maintaining consistent sharpness across frames.



Asus ZenFone 7 Pro, outdoor video



OnePlus 8 Pro, outdoor video



Xiaomi M10 Pro, outdoor video

Conclusion

The Asus ZenFone 7 Pro offers real benefits over its predecessor, but lands in our database closer to the better phones from last year than to this year’s leading contenders. Overall image quality is satisfying and the ZenFone has no trouble producing good-looking photos under most conditions. But the competition at the top is fierce: missteps in the handling of high dynamic range scenes, significant artifacts, and a problematic bokeh mode drag the score down compared to the top performers. Zoom performance is much improved thanks to the new telephoto camera, but its image quality is not up to what we see from the best available today, especially at longer zoom ratios.

The ZenFone can certainly record a satisfying 4K clip, though as with stills, performance lags behind the best options on the market.

The ZenFone 7 Pro’s standout quality is one that we don’t really quantify in our score: its flipping camera cluster. Performance that looks middling on a rear camera can be cutting edge by front camera standards, so mobile photographers who prioritize selfies should be sure to read our front camera review of the ZenFone 7 Pro.

Photo

Pros

  • Accurate target exposure
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Colors generally pleasant, indoors and outdoors
  • Fairly good detail
  • Flash portraits have accurate exposure and fair amount of detail

Cons

  • Slightly limited dynamic range
  • White balance often too blue outdoors, color inaccurate in low light
  • Ringing, ghosting, and softness towards edges of images often visible
  • Reduced detail and increased noise in medium- and long-range zoom
  • Depth estimation artifacts and unnatural blur gradient in bokeh mode

Video

Pros

  • Effective stabilization
  • Fast autofocus and fairly efficient tracking
  • Artifacts well-controlled overall
  • White balance accurate outdoors

Cons

  • Limited dynamic range
  • Noise visible
  • White balance color casts visible in lab testing
  • Low detail in dim light

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Nvidia Introduces Clever Solution for Drastically Improved Video Call Quality

Nvidia Introduces Clever Solution for Drastically Improved Video Call Quality

Due to the ongoing pandemic, many of us are making more video calls than ever. Unfortunately, depending on your location or the load on a video call company’s network, there is not always a lot of bandwidth available to produce a high-quality image. Nvidia is seeking to solve that issue with a clever technique. 

The pandemic has forced me to teach all my classes online from home, and while that has generally worked pretty well, one thing I definitely wish I could change is the quality of my video calls. My internet bandwidth is fine, but Zoom limits bandwidth of calls, as I am sure their network is under more stress than ever given the current situation. For those in rural areas with poor connections, the problem is even worse.

Instead of asking for more bandwidth, Nvidia has created a new technique to improve quality with the connection that is already there. The algorithm, called AI video compression, works using neural networks. First, instead of sending video at the normal 10-30 frames per second, it sends a few frames at a much slower rate. Next, the system analyzes the movements of key areas on a face and sends the data on these movements to the receiver. From there, the receiver’s computer uses that data to fill in the frames in between and animate the user’s face in a way that matches their natural movement. 

This creates video at normal frame rates but with much less data usage, allowing users to experience better video quality with the connections they already have. Nvidia estimates the bandwidth needed for equivalent-quality video to something like H.264 to be only about 10%.

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Canon Unveils the PIXMA PRO-200 Pro Photo Printer with Improved Inks

Canon Unveils the PIXMA PRO-200 Pro Photo Printer with Improved Inks

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Canon Australia has announced the PIXMA PRO-200 professional photo desktop printer, a successor to the highly-regarded the PIXMA PRO-100.

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The new PIXMA PRO-200 features an expanded range of color reproduction thanks to a new 8-color dye ink system that “enables high-image quality and high-productivity printing of artistic photographs,” Canon Australia says. The new system features newly developed magenta and black inks that “contribute to an expanded color gamut for reds and blues and more faithful reproduction of blacks while also improving black densities.”

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Canon Unveils the PIXMA PRO-200 Pro Photo Printer with Improved Inks 130

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The printer also features improved media capabilities, including “the ability for professional photographers to print on a range of photo paper surfaces and finishes up to 0.6mm thickness in addition to producing panorama size prints and gallery wrap support functions.”

A standard high-grade A3+ bordered color print can be completed in about 1 minute 30 seconds.

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Other features and specs of the PIXMA PRO-200 include 3 connectivity methods (Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB), a 3-inch LCD display, a compact design (footprint of 25.1x15x7.9in/639×379×200mm), a skew correction function (to prevent misalignment), and a maximum print resolution of 4800x2400dpi.

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Pricing and availability have yet to be announced by Canon Australia. It’s also unclear if/when the printer will be announced for other international markets, including in North America.

(via Canon Australia via Canon Rumors)

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