Sony Venice – A close look at the dynamic range and noise.

By alisterchapman

Venice-base-T4_1.1.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.

I have been working with Sony’s color science guru Pablo at the Digital Motion Picture Center at Pinewood, looking at the outer limits of what Sony’s Venice camera can do. A large part of the reason for this is that Pablo is developing some really nice LUT’s for use on dailies or even as a grade starting point.

As part of this process we have shot test footage with the Venice camera ourselves and also looked long and hard at test shots done by other cinematographers. Last week we were able to preview a beta version of the cameras dual ISO modes. This beta firmware allowed us to shoot tests at both 500 ISO and 2500 ISO and the results of both are equally impressive.

I can’t share any of the test footage shot at 2500 ISO at this stage. The firmware is still in it’s early stages and the final version may well perform a little differently (probably better). But I can share some of the footage shot at 500 ISO.

Please remember what we were exploring was the extreme ends of the exposure range. So our little test set was set up with some challenges for the camera rather than trying to make a pretty picture.

We have deep, deep shadows on the right behind the couch and we also have strong highlights coming off the guitar, the film can on the shelves and from the practical lamp in the background. The reds of the cushion on the couch look very different with most Rec-709 cameras as the colors are outside the Rec-709 gamut.

Another aspect of the test was to check the exposure rating. For this I used my Sekonic lightmeter to measure both the incident light and the light reflected by the Kodak grey card. My light meter gave me T4 → continue…


Photo story of the week: Flowing under a solar storm

A night of stunning Northern Lights dancing above Haukland Beach, the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.

The serene stream that flows from the surrounding mountains and pours into the Norwegian Sea curved into a beautiful shape, paralleling the curves of the Auroral display. Haukland is a very good location for shooting Aurora, since it has numerous interesting features (such as the mountain and the stream), and since any water left stationary frequently freezes over and supplies more variety and interest. It’s also relatively shielded from artificial lights.

This image was taken in the winter of 2016 during my Lofoten workshop. I used a Sony A7R and a Samyang 14mm F2.8 with a Metabones adapter. The photograph was taken at F2.8, ISO 3200, and 8 sec exposure. The high ISO, wide aperture and long exposure were used to counter the darkness and produce a balanced exposure.

Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez’s work on Instagram, Facebook and 500px, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates. Erez offers photo workshops worldwide.

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From:: DPreview

Large format macro: a crazy wet plate photography experiment

Austrian wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter is back with another crazy large format photography experiment. This time, he decided to find a way to shoot macro photos on a large format wet plate camera. To do this, he actually had to stack two wet plate cameras front to back, bellows fully extended.

Markus documented the whole experiment on his blog, and shares a behind-the-scenes ‘Making Of’ look at the shoot in the video above. His subject was a little snowdrop from his garden, with a simple tin-foil background for some pretty bokeh. But getting any sort of magnification with a large format camera is no easy feat. He needed a lot of distance between his film plane and the little flower.

That’s why he decided to ‘connect’ two large format wet plate cameras together, giving him enough extension to magnify the flower onto an 18x24cm plate.

Here’s a diagram that shows the difference between your standard “full-frame” size, a 10x12cm plate, and an 18x24cm plate (left) and that same diagram overlaid on the final plate:

The next problem he faced was getting enough light. The farther the plate is from the subject, the more light he needs—the plate has an ISO value of about 0.5—and he was pretty far away from his subject. The trick to solving this problem, says Markus, is using fresh chemicals and a LOT of artificial light.

“Freshly mixed chemicals are more sensitive to light,” he tells DPReview. “If I had used older chemicals, I’m not sure if this macro shot would have been possible.” Add to that two flashes of 7,000W of light, and you’ve got JUST enough exposure to make this work.

Mix all of this together and here’s what you get. Scroll → continue…

From:: DPreview

Report: Agfa Vista film is no more, stock drying up world-wide

According to a report by Japan Camera Hunter, Agfa Vista color negative film is no longer being produced. The site says the information—which has been rumored for a few months—has now been confirmed by ‘reliable industry sources,’ and that supplies are drying up around the world.

The film has become popular for its low cost and punchy colors, but obviously not popular enough for it to remain in production.

Since the demise of AgfaPhoto GmbH in 2005, the film was distributed by Lupus Imaging and Media, a marketing company that bought the rights to use the Agfa name on a range of items from film to memory sticks. At first, the company slit the remaining stock from Agfa’s factory in Leverkusen, but in more recent times it is widely believed Fujifilm was the manufacturer of the Vista films.

Japan Camera Hunter’s dramatised Death of Vista illustration.

Agfa was one of the very early experimenters with color photography, bringing a color emulsion to the market shortly after Kodak introduced Kodachrome. Agfacolor Neu was much easier to process, however, as it needed only one pass through the chemistry to develop all three colors.

Rolls of Agfa Vista in both ISO 200 and 400 varieties are still available from specialist stores and even Amazon UK, so panic buying hasn’t quite taken hold yet. But JCH doesn’t expect stock to last too long.

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From:: DPreview

Photo story of the week: Locomotion

In November 2013, I was fortunate enough to backpack through Southeast Asia with my partner. We visited some incredible places, met some of the nicest people and experienced many amazing moments along the way, but the place that is most memorable for me would be the quiet town of Hoi An, in Vietnam. It is located on the coast of the East Sea in the South Central Coast region of Vietnam.

The thing that convinced me to travel SE Asia was definitely the change of lifestyle from western society and, of course, their culture. I have always been fascinated by the diversity of different cultural lifestyles. Everywhere you look in Asia, especially around the cities and busy little towns there are photo opportunities waiting to be captured. Sometimes the action is difficult to keep up with when you are standing in the middle the bustling streets with people scattered everywhere. Taking a steady shot is impossible when so much spontaneous movement is going on around you.

This is when the cinematic technique comes into play—namely: panning. This works a treat for some unique and fun images. I spent most days walking the streets with my camera hanging from my shoulder, ready for moments like these to come by, and the majority of my photos from Hoi An were of local people riding their bicycles and scooters through town.

This image is of two young Vietnamese boys riding a bicycle through Central Market. I stopped my aperture down to F16 and shot a low ISO of 50 to eliminate as much ambient light reaching my sensor. This gave me an exposure of 1/4 sec: quick enough to pick up definition in the subject, but slow enough capture motion blur. I locked my auto focus onto the boys as they → continue…

From:: DPreview

Sony a7 III sample gallery updated

We’ve just updated our Sony a7 III sample gallery with more photos from Sony’s press event, representing a variety of shooting situations. All photos are straight-out-of-camera JPEG files, but we have also included Raw files so you can download and test them with your favorite Raw processor as soon as support becomes available.*

We found no further examples of PDAF-related striping as we selected additional images for this gallery. Notably, none of the new images added were shot with the FE 85mm at F1.8, leading us to believe the issue is prompted by certain combinations of cameras, lenses, and lighting conditions. We’ll be continuing to investigate this relationship as soon as a production camera arrives.

See our updated Sony a7 III gallery

* Note some JPEGs in the gallery appear underexposed, shot intentionally to retain blacks and because there is little noise benefit to ISO amplification beyond the a7 III’s dual gain step at ISO 640. We’ll process the Raws of these images when support is available and update this gallery. The underexposure is not indicative of metering issues.

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From:: DPreview

Major ON1 Photo RAW update adds tethered shooting, better noise reduction and more

ON1 just released a major update to its photo editing software ON1 Photo RAW. The update, version 2018.1, brings with it a host of feature upgrades, including: better auto-alignment for the HDR mode, improved high ISO noise reduction, and more detailed image sharpening. The update also includes a new tethered shooting function for certain Nikon and Canon DSLRs, as well as a new import utility that allows metadata to be added as images are sucked in from the camera.

Video files can now be seen in the browser, and new sort features allows user to browse imported images in a number of ways, such as by file type, date, file name or rating. Users can also batch rename groups of images, and a date-and-time editing function lets you adjust the recorded moment an image was shot.

Finally, the company has also made some changes to the way images are debayered to improve the amount of micro detail preserved in the final render.

ON1 says its priorities are image quality and processing/handling performance:

“Version 2018.1 isn’t just about the new features, although there are many powerful new additions,” says ON1 Director of Product Dan Harlacher. “Image quality and performance are the top priorities in every update, and we are very excited for our customers to experience these improvements for themselves in this update.”

New users can take advantage of a free trial, or purchase the software in its entirely (usually $120) for a special limited-time price of $80. If you’re already using Photo Raw 2018, the new version is free.

For more information, visit the ON1 website.

Press Release

ON1 Photo RAW 2018.1 – New Update Available

Portland, OR – March 1, 2018 – ON1, Inc. is pleased to announce the immediate availability of the new → continue…

From:: DPreview

Irix launches Edge ND32000 15-stop ND filter for ultra-long-exposure photography

Irix Lens has announced the availability of its new Irix Edge ND32000 neutral density filter. This new model is a more powerful alternative to the company’s ND 1000 filter, offering a whopping 4.5 optical density and 15-stops of light reduction, which Irix says allows for up to five minutes of exposure at F16 and ISO 100 on a sunny day.

The Irix ND32000, which is available now for 160 EUR (~$200 USD), is made with NANO-coated optical glass that is waterproof and oil-resistant. The filter has a 95mm x 1.0 thread for screwing it onto a lens to prevent light leakage, as well as a 3.5mm frame thickness without thread.

According to Irix’s website, the ND32000 is compatible with the Irix Blackstone and Firefly 15mm F2.4 lenses.

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From:: DPreview

CP+ 2018: Hands-on with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and D FA* 50mm F1.4

Hands-on with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and D FA* 50mm F1.4

Although the changes separating the K-1 Mark II from its predecessor are small in number, the new model occupies a big chunk of the Ricoh-Pentax booth at this year’s CP+ show in Japan. We were able not only to get our hands on the camera, but also the company’s upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW that we’d only previously seen behind glass.

And though we couldn’t save any pictures taken with the camera, we got a chance to quickly try out the maximum ISO value of 819,200 and hand-held Pixel Shift mode – read on to find our impressions.

Hands-on with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and D FA* 50mm F1.4

Ergonomically, the K-1 Mark II is to all intents and purposes identical to the K-1, and the control scheme is identical its predecessor. With a UI that’s well-sorted and an impressive amount of direct controls, this isn’t a bad thing.

Hands-on with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and D FA* 50mm F1.4

Indeed, the only noticeable physical change to the body is the name on the front of the camera, and existing K-1 users that send their cameras in for the $550 upgrade will have the new name painted on their older models. Functionally, we’re told that an upgraded K-1 and a factory-fresh K-1 Mark II will be identical.

Hands-on with the Pentax K-1 Mark II and D FA* 50mm F1.4

Thanks to the new ‘accelerator’ in the imaging pipeline, the K-1 Mark II is able to shoot at ISO 819200, which is an increase of two stops compared with the original K-1’s → continue…

From:: DPreview

Sony Venice. Dual ISO’s, 1 stop ND’s and Grading via Metadata.

By alisterchapman

With the first of the production Venice cameras now starting to find their way to some very lucky owners it’s time to take a look at some features that are not always well understood, or that perhaps no one has told you about yet.

Dual Native ISO’s: What does this mean?

An electronic camera uses a piece of silicon to convert photons of light into electrons of electricity. The efficiency at doing this is determined by the material used. Then the amount of light that can be captured and thus the sensitivity is determined by the size of the pixels. So, unless you physically change the sensor for one with different sized pixels (which will in the future be possible with Venice) you can’t change the true sensitivity of the camera. All you can do is adjust the electronic parameters.

With most video cameras the ISO is changed by increasing the amount of amplification applied to the signal coming off the sensor. Adding more gain or increasing the amplification will result in a brighter picture. But if you add more amplification/gain then the noise from the sensor is also amplified by the same amount. Make the picture twice as bright and normally the noise doubles.

In addition there is normally an optimum amount of gain where the full range of the signal coming from the sensor will be matched perfectly with the full recording range of the chosen gamma curve. This optimum gain level is what we normally call the “Native ISO”. If you add too much gain the brightest signal from the sensor would be amplified too much and exceed the recording range of the gamma curve. Apply too little gain and your recordings will never reach the optimum level and darker parts of the image may be too dark to be seen.

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500px acquired by Chinese licensing giant Visual China Group

500px—the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace that once seemed like it would singlehandedly take down a floundering Flickr—has been acquired by Visual China Group (VCG), the world’s third-largest visual content provider and a company that has been called the “Getty Images of China.”

The news was released earlier today both via press release and on the 500px ISO blog (Full disclosure: I served as Editor in Chief at 500px from December, 2014 until April, 2016), where the move is being painted as an “investment in community growth” that will use VCG’s significant distribution channels to try and expand 500px’s worldwide community-based photo licensing services, among other things.

The relationship between the two companies actually began in 2015, when VCG led 500px’s Series B of funding with a $13 million dollar investment and entered a joint venture to expand 500px’s reach into China, launching While no financial details have been shared about the acquisition, Canadian start-up news website BetaKit is reporting that VCG paid just $17 million more to acquire 100% of 500px shares, a number 500px refused to either confirm or deny.

The homepage of, the Chinese version of

If you’re still a regular 500px user, the natural question is “what happens now.” And at least according to 500px, the news is good:

This means a lot of exciting things are on the way. By joining forces with VCG, we’ll be able to consistently deliver more innovative features to help you amplify your personal brand, connect with millions of like-minded creatives, and inspire you to improve your skill set as a photographer, as well as reward your talent and creativity with new incentives.

New products and services rolling out this year include:

Sony is working on high-sensitivity dual-camera setup

If you were hoping for the new Sony Xperia XZ2 models to feature a dual-camera setup, you were disappointed. Sony is by far the largest maker of image sensors but the Japanese manufacturer’s own smartphone models still have to make do without the dual-cam technology that has almost become a standard on high-end devices.

That said, there is a good chance the wait for a Sony-branded dual-camera smartphone might be worth it. Sony executives told us the company was working on a dual-camera solution that would allow for low light shooting with ultra-high sensitivities – ISO 51200 in stills mode and ISO 12800 for video.

A test scene with extremely low illumination inside a black box is used to demonstrate the performance of the the dual-cam prototype (top) compared to a current model (bottom).

No further technical detail was provided at this point but given the camera module will be powered by a new “Fusion” Image Signal Processor, it’s fair to assume the high sensitivities will be achieved by some kind of computational imaging process, merging image data captured simultaneously on the two sensors of the dual-camera.

This is not a totally new concept – for example Huawei is merging image data from an RGB and a monochrome sensor on some of its dual-camera models – but given Sony’s bold high ISO claims there is a good chance its engineers have found another secret ingredient to boost performance to new levels.

Sony claims the new system is pushing smartphone low light performance into ILC territory.

A low-light demo setup behind the scenes at the Sony booth shows that the new system is capable of capturing good exposures → continue…

From:: DPreview