Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Couple of News Items

Microsoft has released PhotoSynth, a “revolutionary” software program. It can combine dozens up to thousands of images (maybe much more?) of a particular location or scene, and then create a 3D image of that place. Then you can “go into” the image and move around and zoom into tiny details. Several months ago I saw an online demo of the program and it was frankly baffling. My mind could hardly grasp what I was seeing. The closest thing to it that I can think of is a scene from Blade Runner, that old Harrison Ford/Ridley Scott classic. In one scene, Ford’s character feeds a photograph (it looked like a Polaroid to me) into a machine and then was able to go deeper and deeper into the image, going through doorways and checking out other rooms, chasing down images and scenes in mirrors—seeing details and views that weren’t visible in the original photograph. It was pure fantasy. At the time. PhotoSynth has nearly the same capability. Isn’t that weird?

Also, Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe have had their online/downloadable tutorial Fine Art Printing: From Digital Camera to Print published by Calumet Photo as a DVD. Reichmann is the man behind that great website Luminous Landscape. If you haven’t checked it out, please do so. I’d recommend the DVD based on my experiences with their tutorials. They produce quality goods.

And one more thing. Specs on a new Canon DSLR have been leaked--the 50D, which will supposedly replace the 40D. The 50D will have a 15.1 MP sensor and a high-resolution 3-inch LCD. This is, of course, unofficial, but I'm sure the official story will come out for Photokina. I just wish info had been leaked about the replacement for the 5D. Oh, well.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Digital Format Announced

Panasonic and Olympus have announced a new digital camera format called Micro Four Thirds. Both companies were early adopters of the original Four Thirds format. The size of the Four Thirds sensor is about halfway between point & shoot sensors and C-DSLR sensors.

The new cameras won't have mirrors and prisms and won't be, strictly speaking, SLRs. It will have the same video preview that point & shoots have now. The big, and signifcant, change is the lenses for the new system will placed at half the distance from the sensor as in current DSLRs and the lenses will be greatly reduced in size. Together this means significantly smaller and lighter cameras with nearly the resolution of full-sized DSLRs. At least, this could be the case. See, there are no cameras, lenses, or anything else at the moment for this new system. This is all on paper, so to speak. Maybe we'll see prototypes at Photokina in September this year, but I suspect that it may be a while before we have anything in hand.

Still, seeing that Leica is partnered with Panasonic for many of their digital cameras, this seems like a perfect opportunity for them. Small compact cameras with small compact lenses is just up their alley. At least it seems to me that they should be jumping all over this. It would be a way to be in on the start of a whole new system and format, and they wouldn't be forced to play catch-up with all the other camera companies like Canon and Nikon. They've always been good at creating and playing on their own terms in their own niche, and this is the best chance they've got to do this again. I hope this works out for them.