Experimental 1080p video footage offers an uncannily sharp snapshot of 1992 in Japan

Good-Night TOKYO was video recorded in 1992 using a high-definition camera with features that didn't become standard on consumer devices for 20 years: 1080 lines and 60 frames per second. The world depicted is clearly from decades ago, but is recorded with a sharpness and starkness that signifies the present day, at least in the U.S. and Europe. It's a fascinating artifact which reminds me how carefully composed period films and shows have to be, because the real world is in truth empty of old things and overstuffed with the new.

It doesn't say in the video description, but this was perhaps a trade pitch for Japan public broadcaster' NHK's high-definition LaserDisc specifications. Read the rest

Amazing birdseye photos taken by pigeons a century ago

In 1907, pharmacist and photography buff Dr. Julius Neubronner invented the "pigeon camera." Neubronner attached his cameras, with a built-in shutter timer, to his own homing pigeons and let them fly. For most people, the birds' photos provided a previously unseen view on the world. The images are collected in a new book, The Pigeon Photographer. From the New Yorker:

(Neubronner) showed his camera at international expositions, where he also sold postcards taken by the birds. Additionally, he developed a portable, horse-drawn dovecote, with a darkroom attached to it, which could be moved into proximity of whatever object or area the photographer hoped to capture from on high. These inventions represented a breakthrough at the time, allowing for surveillance with speed and range that was previously impossible. (Whether the cameras would actually capture the desired object, however, depended on luck and the whims of the pigeons.) The technology would soon be adapted for use in wartime—the cameras served as very early precursors to drones—although by the time of the First World War, just a few years later, airplanes were allowing people to do things that only pigeons could have done before.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

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Creepy new spy camera is so small it could be hiding anywhere

If you're not already wearing a tinfoil hat, it may be a good time to start: a pair of engineers based out of the University of Michigan have figured out a way to create a light-powered camera sensor that's only a millimeter in size: small enough to be practically invisible to a casual observer.

According to a paper published in IEEE Electron Device Letters by Euisik Yoon and Sung-Yun Park, the new camera has the potential to not only be insanely small, but also, self sustaining, thanks to a solar panel placed directly behind the camera's image sensor, which is thin enough that light, in addition to what's needed to create an image, is able to pass right through it. This could provide the camera with all the power it needs to be able to continue to capture images, indefinitely.  At a maximum of 15 frames per second, the images it captures aren't of the best quality, but they're more than adequate for creeping on an unsuspecting subject.

The good news is that, for the time being, the camera is nothing more than a proof-of-concept. In order for it to be deployed in the real world as a near-invisible surveillance device, someone a lot smarter than me will need to figure out how to store image data and transmit it using hardware that's just as discrete as the camera's image sensor and power source are.

Fingers crossed that it'll take them a while to work those issues out.   Image via pxhere Read the rest

Spy-cam shots from 1890

Math student Carl Størmer acquired a hidden camera in 1890, and put it to use on the streets of Oslo.

The results are close to 500 secret images that show a wide range of people in a casual, relaxed state. Working like a paparazzo, Størmer would greet his subjects and then snap away as they approached. Friendly salutations and suspicious glances play out across his work, serving as some of the first examples of street photography.

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Man unclear on how to get a camera out of his face

It's hard to describe this video, posted by Dan Cole, but I'll try.

1. A man objects to having a camera put in his face by a videographer who is talking vicariously through a glove puppet.

2. The man adopts a doomed strategy: trying to get the camera out of his face by fastidiously keeping his face in-shot while following the camera around.

3. He argues as he does so, occasionally with the camera operator, but occasionally with the glove puppet.

It gets so good at the end I'm almost certain it's staged – but not entirely. Read the rest

Cool short documentary on gear for filming bioluminescence

This neat short film explains the specialized split-beam camera Martin Dorhn developed to film bioluminescent animals without disturbing them. As the information comes through the lens, it's split so one camera captures infrared and the other captures the bioluminescence. Read the rest

Skydiving robot to capture video of skydivers

The Freefall Camera (FFC) is a robot that can be tossed out of a plane to autonomously track and capture video of skydivers doing tricks. At a predetermined altitude, the robot pops its steerable parachute and lands near specified GPS coordinates. The University of Nottingham researchers who developed the Freefall Camera presented their work at last week's International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. From IEEE Spectrum:

Building a robot that can successfully control its position and terminal velocity relative to another falling object is not something that’s been done before. There are freefall cameras designed to work in microgravity, but that’s a much different challenge: this camera has to be able to maneuver in a 120 mph (190 km/h) stream of air, which is all about passive aerodynamics. To steer itself, the FFC uses four vertical ailerons to control yaw (and eventually horizontal position), along with a pair of retractable flaps that increase or decrease the robot’s drag to slow it down or speed it up. A GoPro does the recording while a CMUcam5 vision sensor tracks colored blobs to stay locked onto its subject...

The tests showed that the FCC could generally track a human within 0.25 meters vertically, and 12 degrees of the center of the camera’s field of view. Occasionally, the camera would get confused by backgrounds or bright lights, so the next incarnation of the system will use an infrared beacon for tracking instead.

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They'll never see this tiny camera hidden in a screw

These tiny screw cameras are about $20 on Amazon (or $15 on eBay), with versions that plug into CCTV systems, composite inputs, and USB ports. There's also the bare camera, minus the fake screwhead. [via OPSEC]

The Amazon listing includes a photo of it installed in a public toilet door. Naturally, there are some customer questions:

Question: So do you give instructions for installing in public restrooms as seen in the picture?

Answer: You are welcome to check the wires diagram as below to see if it helps: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lraFgulcL._SL1000_.jpg … see more

By iSoter SELLER on August 4, 2017

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Lomography launches lens set designed to fit any camera

The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System is designed to recreate a vintage look without being completely terrible wide-open like the old C-mount trash glass you keep buying on eBay.

The Neptune Convertible Art Lens System consists of a lens base that’s mounted to your camera and several convertible lens components. By interchanging the front components, you can shoot photos or videos at three different fixed focal lengths — 35mm, 50mm and 80mm. An Art Lens System unlike any other; it offers you all the freedom of a zoom lens without compromising on prime lens quality, and it’s the only convertible Art Lens out there to work with a range of modern-day analogue and digital cameras. Each component is assembled by using the finest multi-coated glass and crafted to produce exceptionally sharp focus and strong, saturated colors for stunning high-definition images — even when you’re shooting close-ups at 0.25m/9.8” with Thalassa (35mm), 0.4/15.7” with Despina (50mm) or 0.8m/31.5” with Proteus (80mm). This is an Art Lens System that lets you take beautifully intimate shots, allowing you to get near enough to capture every last detail of your subject. And because it’s so small and lightweight design, you can take it with you everywhere.

That's $600 for a 35mm f/3.5, 50mm f/2.8 and 80mm f/4 set of very compact full-frame manual primes with drop-in aperture plates, natively mounted in Canon EF or Nikon F, with a custom adapter for whatever mount you got. "Compact" and "consistent" are the watchwords: on the photography sites, the old men of the mountain are all angrily pointing out that you can get the same results by attaching some ancient thriftstore artillery piece. Read the rest

New camera shoots at 5 trillion frames per second

Reserachers at Lund Univeristy in Sweden have developed a camera that captures images at a rate equivalent to 5 trillion frames per second, quintupling the previous high mark. Read the rest

It would cost more than $10k for a pro sports photographer to switch camera brands

Sony's cameras seem to be in a league of their own. So why do professionals stick with bulkier models from Canon and Nikon? One answer is glass—often just as pricey as pro-grade bodies, and you need a lot of it to be in business. DPReview's Dan Bracaglia suggests that Sony's latest full-frame model, the $5,000 A9, is so fantastic that many pros are talking about jumping ship, but should be cautioned by the sheer expense of doing so.

Using our example, the cheapest one could go full-on Sony, with most of the same kit is $22,870. After applying the $11,820 discount from having sold off all the Canon equipment, a photojournalist would still have to cough up about $11,050 to make the switch. Or they could simply take that $11,820 and buy a couple of a9 bodies and maybe a lens.

"Switching systems is a headache," he adds, "and sports photography gear is crazy expensive." Read the rest

Square prints at last for Fuji's instant cameras

Fujifilm's Instax cameras are fun, but the expense of the cartridges is a drag and you're either into the "illusion of truth" of instant photography or you ain't. The Instax Square heads past this by integrating a display so you can choose whether or not to print a shot. It also prints square photos, like old-fashioned Polaroids (albeit smaller), instead of the usual half-size or widescreen Instax slips.

The drag now is the basic price: $280! And despite my pooh-poohing of the idea that instant photography is any more truthful than "best selfie of 100" smartphone photography, I kind of wish they hadn't added filters. I suppose once you have a digital display, you've got some computing power in there, and that kind of feature creep is inevitable. Likewise, there's now a card slot to let you transfer photos to phone or computer. It's out in May, but you can order it already.

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ10 Instant Camera [Amazon link]

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Video from camera falling from airplane and landing in pig pen

An oldie but goodie. I was expecting the GoPro logo to pop up at the end.

"Camera falls from a sky diving airplane and lands on my property in my pig pen. I found the camera 8 months later and viewed this video."

(via Kottke)

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Snap is developing drone for users to share overhead videos and photos: NYT report

One of the products that Snapchat owner Snap Inc. is developing as “a modern-day camera company” is a drone, reports the New York Times today.

Sources for this bold claim are “three people briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.”

The drone would help users take videos and photographs from overhead, then share that visual data with Snap, and presumably, other users of the service.

Snap is scheduled to go public later this week in a long-anticipated IPO. Read the rest

How an old camera flash became the first Star Wars lightsaber

The legendary lightsaber that Obi Wan passed on to Luke in Star Wars: A New Hope was actually a modified battery tube from a 1940s Graflex camera flash. Once that was known, prop recreators drove up the price of the flashes, frustrating vintage camera geeks who appreciate the elegant gear for a more civilized age.

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Surveillance camera vandalized in Russia

An apartment-dweller in Tver, Russia installed a video camera on his or her front door, looking out into the stairwell, then uploaded a compendium of amusing and/or interesting moments to YouTube. The neighbors seem generally hostile to surveillance, though some of them are in no condition to notice it.

Google Translate suggests the following caption: "Pensioner, hammer and inadequate man camera shot war neighbors in apartment building in Tver."

Tip: use stickers. Legal, easily carried, completely effective, no damages. Read the rest

Kodak is bringing back Ektachrome film

Kodak's Ektachrome film, developed in the 1940s, was a favorite of National Geographic photographers. But digital cameras flatlined the sales and it was discontinued in 2012. A revived interest in film cameras has prompted Kodak to revive the beloved 35mm film. Look for it later this year.

From Kodak's press release:

Ektachrome Film has a distinctive look that was the choice for generations of photographers before being discontinued in 2012. The film, known for its extremely fine grain, clean colors, great tones and contrasts, became iconic in no small part due the extensive use of slide film by National Geographic Magazine over several decades.

Resurgence in the popularity of analog photography has created demand for new and old film products alike. Sales of professional photographic films have been steadily rising over the last few years, with professionals and enthusiasts rediscovering the artistic control offered by manual processes and the creative satisfaction of a physical end product.

Image: Wikipedia Read the rest

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