Adapting a 100-year-old lens to shoot video on a new camera

Mathieu Stern is curator of the Weird Lenses Museum.

This lens spent 100 years in the dark, the last think it captured must have been the horrors of the World War I ... i think it was time to use it for something more light and positive. I took this Kodak Vest Pocket camera lens with me for a short trip to Vienna (Austria) to shoot some test footage. I must say i was pretty amazed by the sharpness and the quality of the image i saw on my screen.

It does look great. The go-to practical glass for getting this old-timey look is Soviet M42-mount Zeiss Biotar knockoffs, especially the Mir 1-B 37mm and the Helios 44-2 58mm.

I figure that the magic happens because old uncoated glass offers poor contrast, effectively compressing light and shadow into a thinner range: a bug in 1960 but a useful feature in 2020, where the resulting flat, grayish image can graded in real-time on pocket computers. The upside is capturing a filmlike range of light on everday video sensors. The downside is the loss of information in general--push too hard in the lab and it'll just look nasty. Which is good. Read the rest

Shipping container converted into a large format camera, darkroom, and gallery

UK educator and photographer Brendan Barry converted a shipping container into a large format film camera. Inside is a self-contained darkroom to develop the photos along with a gallery to display them. He describes it as “the world’s biggest, slowest, and most impractical Polaroid camera.”

Above is Exploredinary's documentary about the Container Camera. And you can read more about the project at PetaPixel.

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Watch this drone dodge soccer balls hurled at it

Researchers from the University of Zurich's Robotics and Perception Group designed an event camera system for drones. In the video above, the fun starts at 1:25. As explained by IEEE Spectrum, "These are sensors that are not good at interpreting a scene visually like a regular camera, but they’re extremely sensitive to motion, responding to changes in a scene on a per-pixel basis in microseconds. A regular camera that detects motion by comparing one frame with another takes milliseconds to do the same thing, which might not seem like much, but for a fast-moving drone it could easily be the difference between crashing into something and avoiding it successfully."

HEADS UP!

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Ingenious DIY Etch-A-Sketch digital camera

Martin Fitzpatrick built the Etch-A-Snap, a digital camera with an automated Pocket Etch-A-Sketch as its display on the back. Each photo takes between 15 minutes to one hour to be sketched. From Two Bit Arcade:

Photos are processed down to 240x144 pixel 1-bit (black & white) line drawings using Pillow and OpenCV and then translated into plotter commands by building a network graph representation with networkx. The Etch-A-Sketch wheels are driven by two 5V stepper motors mounted into a custom 3D printed frame. The Etch-A-Snap is entirely portable and powered by 4xAA batteries & 3x18650 LiPo cells.

Find links to the plans and code here: "Etch-A-Snap: The Raspberry Pi powered Etch-A-Sketch camera" (Two Bit Arcade)

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Watch the fantastic "Bullet Time" results of this high-speed camera array

Tesla500 rigged an array of 48 high-speed cameras "capable of recording 68 gigapixels per second - 720p at 72000fps!"

Bullet Time meets Moore's Law.

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How to turn a chocolate easter egg into a pinhole camera

In this delightful project, Will Gudgeon turned a frozen chocolate easter egg into a fun and effective pinhole camera. The first step is to eat the contents. "The main challenges were it melting, cracking and light leaks around the seal," Gudgeon writes.

"How to Make a Pinhole Camera Out of a Chocolate Easter Egg" (PetaPixel)

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How to make your own camera lens from sand and rocks

Andy George made his own camera lens with borax, river sand, and soda ash. From PetaPixel:

“It has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done,” George says after completing his lens. “Every single step in the project has been a huge pain.”

Making clear glass took over a dozen tries, annealing the glass pucks took at least four attempts, and grinding the lenses themselves took at least 30 hours of continuous grinding.

Sure, the lens is cloudy and, er, imperfect, but HE MADE HIS OWN DAMN CAMERA LENS FROM SCRATCH!

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Review: Moment 58mm Tele smartphone camera lens

I dig Moment's high quality smartphone camera lenses for the convenience that they offer. I don't always have my Sony RX100 III on me. It often isn't even charged and ready to use. But where ever I roam, I typically have my smartphone with me: thanks to Moment's lenses, I'm able to up my iPhone's photographic game to almost reach the heights that my pocket-sized Sony shooter affords. What's more, the money I've spent on their glass feels like a good investment. Should I ever pull together enough scratch to upgrade to a new iPhone, all I'll have to do in order to use the lenses I own is buy a new case for it. Currently, Moment makes cases for Apple, Samsung, and Google hardware and, as of earlier this week, OnePlus.

The one Moment lens that I used more than any other was their 60mm tele lens. It provided 2x optical zoom over what my old iPhone SE could manage on its own. My dual lens iPhone 7 Plus? Same thing, only better: when paired with the iPhone's native optical zoom, you wound up with 4x optical magnification. A couple of years ago, it allowed me to shoot this:

Not bad! But here's the thing: when you use the 60mm with a dual lens camera phone, like the iPhone X, which typically has a wider field of view, the images captured aren't as crisp at the edges as they are in the center. With the photo above, I was able to crop and correct for some of this in Lightroom, but it's a pain in the ass. Read the rest

Use this guide to buy the right memory card for your Cyber Monday purchases

If you want to get the most out of dedicated digital audio players, smartphones, cameras, drones, tablets or game systems, you'll need to pair it with the right memory card. No problem: head down to Best Buy or log into Amazon and you ca--shit there's a ton of the frigging things. You can buy the first, least expensive one that you see. That'll work for some things... but not all of the things. Some devices can benefit from speedier, more expensive memory cards. Knowing which card to jam into which thing can be daunting. Thankfully, Gizmodo's David Neild has put together a quick, easy-to-understand guide to figuring it all out.

From Gizmodo:

To start with you’ve got a choice of sizes: The standard SD ones (mostly for digital cameras and bigger gear) and the smaller microSD ones (originally developed for, and still used in, smartphones). Extra letters after the SD mean a newer, improved standard, with room for greater capacities and faster speeds—these include HC (High Capacity) and the latest XC (Extended Capacity), and both are used across the SD and microSD form factors today.

Yeah, it's pretty dry stuff. But it's well presented and deeply useful.

So, before you buy a new memory card to go along with your new digital whatever this Monday, you'd do well to stop by Gizmodo first.

Image by CompactFlash.jpg: André Karwath aka AkaSecure_Digital_Kingston_512MB.png: Andrew pmkMS-PRO-DUO.JPG: KB AlphaXD_card_typeH_512M_Olympus.png: og-emmetMicroSD_card.jpg: KowejaMemory_Stick_Micro.JPG: The original uploader was J Di at English Wikipedia..Later version(s) were uploaded by Toehead2001 at en.wikipedia.derivative work: Moxfyre (talk) - CompactFlash.jpgSecure_Digital_Kingston_512MB.pngMS-PRO-DUO.JPGXD_card_typeH_512M_Olympus.pngMicroSD_card.jpgMemory_Stick_Micro.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Pro photographer challenged to spot difference between $500 camera and $4,000 camera

How much better is a $4,000 EOS R than a $500 Rebel T100? Peter McKinnon invited a professional photographer to look at photos taken with both cameras and try to tell which camera was used. He didn't do a great job. Read the rest

Mobile speed displays are filming plates and faces

Justin Rohrlich warns that those mobile trailer-mounted signs displaying your MPH are also recording number plates and taking photos of the driver and passengers. The cameras are being retrofitted to existing models. Read the rest

Broken film camera hacked into supercool wrist-cam

Photographer Alireza Rostami scavenged the lens and shutter from his broken Chinese Seagull TLR camera to create this fantastic wrist-worn camera complete with a self-timer. More at PetaPixel.

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Umbrella-camera and other Soviet spy cams up for auction

Next Thursday, Aston's auctioneers will sell off a private collection of cameras including some fantastic Soviet-era spy cams. According to the auction house's camera specialist, the most curious item is a camera containing a second camera (image below):

At first glance this appears to be a normal Zenith E camera it it's case, but opening it reveals a hidden miniature F-21 AJAX-12 camera. The camera is mounted so the f2.8 28mm lens is pointing out of the side edge of the case. On pressing a small button on the bottom of the case the internal mechanism cleverly raises a hidden internal flap, the camera shutters fires and the flap immediately closes shut. The user simply carries the camera over their shoulder in the normal way, but can take pictures at 90 degrees without raising any suspicion as it looks like the camera is in it's case and not being used. The camera uses 21mm film and has a clockwork drive for multiple shots without detection.

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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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