ASC Awards 2020: Feature Film Nominees

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has nominated eight feature films in the Theatrical and Spotlight categories of the 34th ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards. Winners will be named at the organization’s annual awards on January 25 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. Last year’s Theatrical winner was Łukasz Żal, PSC for Cold […]

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Is That Photo Post-Processed? Yes, It Is.

Yes, it’s post-processed. I get this question all the time, like every other photographer on the planet, and it often sparks heated debates that challenge the notion of objective reality and the meaning of photography.

My claim is: all photographs are post-processed (in one way or the other).

Without diving too much into the technical details, and only touching digital photography, a photograph is the result of light hitting a digital sensor that records the image as a number for each sensel (sensor element). The sensels are arranged in what is called a Bayer Filter Mosaic.

A Bayer sensor pattern. Illustration by Cburnett and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I’m ignoring Foveon-like sensors, which work slightly differently, but they don’t really change significantly the nature of the argument.

The RAW image, which comes from reading the Bayer Filter Mosaic, can not be visualized without a transformation to create an RGB image that can be displayed on a screen or printed on paper.

The interpretation of the raw file to reconstruct colors from the Bayer Filter Mosaic (what is often referred to as “Color Science”) and produce the final image applies a number of subjective transformations and selectively throws away information. The subjective interpretation must happen somewhere between capturing an image and displaying it. Someone has to take the subjective decisions about what information to throw away, what information to keep and how to transform the information to be able to visualize it.

This is post-processing.

When you read “no filter” or “straight out of camera”, what you are really reading is “I’m leaving the post-processing choices to the engineers who designed the camera”.

As an artist, I want to make the decisions on how the final image looks myself, which is why I further post-process the images starting from the RAW file. But it’s not reality!

This is a common cry. What is reality, really? Two people in front of a scene will likely have different memories of the same scene and feel different feelings. Human memory is not photographic, anyway.

And photography must not necessarily be a faithful recording of reality. It can not be, anyway, faithful in the first place because the very concept of faithful reality can not be univocally defined.

My claim is that, in photography, any amount of post-processing, from straight out of camera to mixing different images taken in different places and different times, is legitimate as long as the author is faithful to their artistic intent.

My artistic intent is to produce an image that communicates my feelings in front of the scene in the purest form.

My artistic statement is an arbitrary choice that appeals to my sense of esthetics, to how I enjoy doing photography and to what I want to communicate with my work. I don’t claim this statement is universal, better or worse than any other artist’s statement or that it must apply to anyone else other than to me.

From my artistic statement, I can derive rules to apply to my photography. For example, I don’t substitute the sky in my images with a sky taken from a different location at a different time. It’s perfectly legitimate to do so, but since a different sky did not contribute to my feelings in front of a scene, this is something I do not do.

On the other hand, my artistic statement allows me to clone out elements, stretch and generally modify the geometry of my images. If I’m cloning something out of a scene, it means that this particular element did not contribute to my feelings in front of that scene.

Someone else might have noticed the same element in front of the same scene and might consider it part of their story. Both choices are legitimate.

So, yes, my photograph is post-processed to make my stories as strong as possible for you.

About the author: Francesco Carucci is a fine art landscape photographer who was formerly an accomplished game developer. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Carucci has produced several internationally recognized and exhibited works from the USA to China. You can find more of Carucci’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Nikon D780 DSLR Photos Leaked

Nikon is set to unveil its new D780 along with a number of other products at CES next week, but photos of the DSLR have just leaked onto the Internet, giving us a first glimpse at what Nikon has in store.

Nikon Rumors has published a full set of product photos showing the camera from every angle.

The back of the D780.
D750 for comparison.

We see that Nikon has left out an AF selection joystick (like what’s found on the back of the D500).

The AE-L/AF-L button has been shifted down, and an AF-ON button is now found above it.

The top of the D780.
D750 for comparison.

The ISO selection button has been moved to the top of the camera, right behind the shutter button.

Here are some additional views that provide information about the camera’s features and specs:

The D780 will reportedly pack a 24MP BSI CMOS sensor, improved low-light shooting, a more powerful image processor, dual USH-II SD card slots, 4K/30p video recording, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity, and more. Stay tuned.

PowerVision to launch PowerEgg X AI camera for drones at CES

PowerVision, a California-based robotics company, will launch its latest product, the PowerEgg X, at next week’s CES 2020 conference and trade show. The compact, egg-shaped device has multiple uses. It can operate as an autonomous personal AI camera, a handheld 3-axis AI camera, or as a drone. The PowerEgg X was created to fill a consumer demand for an all-in-one versatile and affordable camera that allows users to instantly share content, according to PowerVision.

The PowerEgg X took over 3 years to create, involved over 300 engineers, and 100 technology patents. The device weighs 522 grams (1.15 pounds) and measures at 165x100x100 mm (6.5×3.9×3.9 inches). Its 4K/60p camera has 1/2.8 inch CMOS 12MP sensor with a 78.4º field of view. It boasts facial recognition along with deep learning features that track and recall subjects, even if they’ve left the field view, plus it responds to hand gestures. In handheld mode, the device transforms into a 3-axis gimbal that produces stabilized UHD images with a battery life of up to 3.5 hours.

In drone mode, the PowerEgg X can fly up to 30 minutes in 19-24 mph winds. It features obstacle avoidance, precise landing, and comes with a waterproof case and landing pad allowing it to take off and land in the water. PowerVision claims it can fly in the rain, a first for the drone industry. Another is the ability for users to narrate in real-time by using their mobile phone’s microphone or a wireless earphone. Its proprietary SyncVoice technology automatically synchronizes with pictures, ‘effectively ending silent-aerial photography.’

“‘Innovate the Future’ is our mission and innovation is in our DNA,” said Wally Zheng, Founder and CEO of PowerVision. “Three years in development, PowerEgg X pulls together the technology consumers are seeking and puts it in a small, elegant egg shape. With smart-image recognition tracking, image mechanical stabilization, and simple video-editing tools, it is easy for anyone to shoot material as if they were a professional-grade videographer. By creating a multi-purpose device, PowerVision has reduced the user’s total purchase cost, storage requirement, increased ease-of-use, and giving the user unprecedented convenience.”

Starting at $899, the PowerEgg X will be available for purchase on PowerVision’s site along with other approved retailers including BestBuy, B&H Photo and Amazon on January 7th. Those attending the annual CES 2020 show can view it at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the South Hall, booth #26415, from January 7th – 10th.

Review: A Landscape Perspective of the Tamron 17–28mm f/2.8 Di III

My main objective in this article isn’t to provide an in-depth review of the Tamron 17–28mm f/2.8 Di III lens, but I hope to offer the reader a few insights in terms of how the lens performs from a landscape photographer’s perspective as a photographer who usually prefers to shoot ultra-wide-angle.

I received the Tamron 17–28 in October and have had time to play around with the lens a little; enough to form an opinion and to shoot some example images.

Full disclosure: I am an ambassador for both Tamron and NiSi.

First some specifications:

Field of view: 75° to 104° (diagonally)
Diameter: 73mm
Length: 99mm
Weight: 420g
Filter Diameter: 67mm
Number of Aperture Blades: 9
Elements/Groups: 13/11
Close Focusing Distance: 0.19m (17mm) — 0.26m (28mm)
Maximum Magnification: ~1:5.2 (17mm) — 1:6.0 (28mm)

The lens is surprisingly small and lightweight, and it balances very well on my old Sony a7R.

October still offers a decent Milky Way in the southern parts of Norway, so the goal of my first outing with the Tamron was stars.

f/2.8, 30 secs, 17mm, ISO 6400

The image below is a close crop of a section of the sky. What I noticed first and foremost is that there is almost no color fringing around the stars. Next, that coma is well controlled. The stars are stretched a little, but I blame that on a tad too long exposure time. A twenty-second exposure would probably have been a better solution. The 500 rule suggests, though, that at 17mm it should be possible to shoot 29-second exposures without stretching the stars.

I so vividly remember the first time I got a sunstar in-camera; how I jumped up and down from pure joy. I still enjoy getting a decent sunstar when out with the camera, but that first exhilaration has faded quite a bit I am afraid. Truth be told, I hadn’t expected the Tamron to produce such a beautiful sunstar at f/22 as we see in the next image. In other words, this was a pleasant surprise.

f/22, ISO 100, 17mm

Flare is very well controlled. I found a few small spots in the snow and a half-circle below one of the sunrays — all were very easy to clone out in Photoshop. I would say that there is basically no need to shoot an extra exposure with fingers obscuring the sun in order to avoid flare when shooting directly into the sun with the Tamron 17–28.

At the beginning of December, ice had formed on the lakes. I shot the scene below at both f/11 and f/22 something which should give us an idea about diffraction at narrow apertures when comparing the two.

f/11, ISO 100, 17mm

f/11 close crop:

f/22 close crop:

Not surprisingly, perhaps, that there is a modest loss of sharpness and details when shooting f/22.

I usually use the narrowest aperture for sunstars and also for focus stacking when I have subjects very close to the lens that are stationary. In addition to these exposures, I also shoot f/11 or f/8 exposures for the rest of the scene, or for the background when focus stacking. Needless to say perhaps that the various exposures are blended in Photoshop.

On January 2nd (on my birthday), I headed out for sunrise. These far north sunrises are late during winter and it isn’t a huge sacrifice trying to catch some morning colors. The first colors appeared when it still was pretty dusk and f/16 offered me what I wanted since I desired a 30-sec exposure in order to smooth the water. It blew a little so that waves disturbed the often calm surface of Tyrifjorden, which is Norway’s fifth-largest lake.

My tripod was around 40cm above the ground and I assumed f/16 would give me a sharp immediate foreground, and I hoped that such a narrow aperture wouldn’t cause too much diffraction in the background.

f/16, 30secs, 15mm, ISO 100

Diffraction wasn’t actually too bad. Both in Lightroom and Photoshop when zooming far into the image it was possible for me to identify the separate buildings where people probably had breakfast or coffee preparing for a new day. Not so easy to see on a webpage, though.

When it comes to filters I use the NiSi 100mm system which fits the lens perfectly. There is zero vignetting when shooting 17mm.
The afternoon the day before my birthday I was standing under a burning sunset sky. It was one of those sunsets which colors take your breath away and I entered a state of wow, as it were. In this instance, I had mounted the NiSi V6 filter holder with a NiSi CPL (circular polarizer), a NiSi 6 stop to extend the exposure time and a NiSi Medium filter to balance the light in the sky.

17mm, ISO 160, 20 secs, f/9.5

The image is more or less straight out of camera. I have only opened up the shadows in Lightroom to avoid any black clippings.

I have for several years enjoyed the Tamron 15–30mm and Pentax 15–30mm, and in my opinion, Tamron has produced yet another outstanding budget-friendly zoom lens which truly offers value for the money. Stars look great and so do sunstars with a minimum of flare. Sharpness and micro-contrast are more than good enough for my use — I am pleasantly surprised with both those characteristics of the lens. I had my doubts when I first held the small and lightweight lens in my hands, but they have effectively been put to rest.

About the author: Ole Henrik Skjelstad is a landscape photographer and math teacher from Norway. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Skjelstad’s work on his website, Flickr, 500px, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Why is Canon Putting Its Best Mirrorless Features Into a DSLR?

After Canon shared the development information on the impending 1D X Mark III last year, we called out that its specs not only blow away any previous notions of what a camera with physical moving parts could do but also noted that it’s got all the makings of a great mirrorless camera… with a mirror.

Recently more specifications on its upcoming camera leaked, and if they are to be believed we’re about to see a serious jump in performance on the video side, creating a camera with some hybrid shooting chops that, at least for now, outpace even the top-dog on the market: the Panasonic S1H.

So the question is, why does Canon continue to outfit its sports DSLR with the most advanced video capture features of its SLR-like cameras?

With 5.4K internal RAW video recording up to 60 frames per second, with also the option for C-Log if RAW isn’t your jam, the 1D X Mark III can do what no other hybrid camera on the market currently can, just like the 1D X Mark II was able to boast when it was first released.

Yes, both the Nikon Z6 and the Panasonic S1H either currently offer or will soon offer RAW video capture, but they’ll both require an external recorder in order to pull off that feat. The Canon 1D X Mark III can do it internally.

Assuming that the video features make use of the entire width of the full-frame sensor, those are some serious chops. It once again puts Canon in the conversation as a top-tier hybrid camera.

Given that Panasonic is much more entrenched into the video space and that it can’t currently offer 4Kp60 with Log in 4K using the full width of the sensor makes me pump the brakes on my expectations for the 1D X Mark III, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt for the sake of conversation here.

A source of significant confusion to me, a shooter who currently has a 1D X Mark II sitting by his side as he writes this, is: why? It’s either the 1D X series or the C series it seems like. You could argue the 5D Mark IV and the EOS R offers high-end video features since they both have C-Log capture, but offering Log these days feels like the least you can do as a standard feature.

By the way, you can thank Sony for that since it has been putting S-Log in nearly every one of its cameras for years — even point and shoot cameras (as an aside, the fact Log isn’t offered in the a9 series is one of the weirdest choices the company has ever made, at least from a consumer perspective).

I do like that the 1D X Mark III is shaping up to be absolutely killer at a wide range of tasks, and it continues the legacy of offering video specifications that outpace the current market, but it still doesn’t make a lot of sense. Canon started the whole hybrid camera thing and has thus far been the most reticent to build on that heritage. Hell, even Nikon has more advanced video features in its most recent cameras than Canon does.

Though pricing hasn’t been yet released, you can rest assured you’ll be able to buy multiple Z6 cameras for the price of one 1D X Mark III.

The 1D X Mark III is going to find its way into the hands of, mostly, sports photographers. That’s who the line is made for and who the camera is most appealing to. It’s bulk, price point, and likely lack of IBIS means that for shooters who lean more towards the video side of the hybrid spectrum, it’s a much tougher sell than the Panasonic S1H despite the fact it can do so much internally. This is assuming it can do everything that the leaks claim it can, and with the full-frame sensor.

If the 1D X can only do 60p with a crop factor, then its desirability against the current field comes down considerably. This, coming from a guy who works as a commercial cinematographer and filmmaker out of San Francisco and Portland, who shot with the 1D X Mark II as his A-camera for three years, and who used it as such as recently as last fall. Most of the slow-motion video in my reel below was shot on the 1D X Mark II.

In a market where mirrorless is king, where everyone else offers as many high-end video features as their cameras can handle, and where price points are way below where they once were, it is very perplexing why Canon continues to make the same decisions with its hardware. For years it has watched as the modern hybrid shooter leaned more towards Sony and Panasonic and away from Canon. Now even Nikon is more appealing, and Canon’s answer is… more of the same?

I have to address the popular notion that Canon just doesn’t want to “cannibalize” its cinema line. This is a thought process that has recently leaked over to the Sony fans as well as to why their cameras can’t do 60p 4K or offer 4:2:2 internal recording.

Let’s put ourselves in these companies’ shoes for a moment. Let’s say you have a technological limitation that prevents a feature. You’re not going to come out and say your product has a shortcoming somewhere — that would be publicly calling attention to your product and that hurts company value. Instead, you would dodge the question and point to a product that doesn’t have that limitation. That’s what Canon and Sony are doing.

In the case of Canon, the 1D X Mark II has two DIGIC processors in it to help manage the load of all that data required to operate its full suite of features. In its cameras with only one processor, you don’t see a good chunk of what’s on offer there. This then tells you that Canon likely has an issue with its processors and hasn’t been able to make certain features happen without doubling down on them.

So, these guys are not “protecting” their cinema lines. They know there is a difference between someone in the market for a hybrid sub-$5000 camera and someone looking to buy a $10,000+ EOS Cinema or Sony FS camera. They’re not so obtuse as to believe those customers could always feasibly overlap. So for any of you ready to jump in and claim the 1D X Mark III will be expensive enough to put it in the same realm as its cinema cameras and therefore protects that line from cannibalization, just know that’s not what is happening. There are other reasons.

I really hope that Canon can solve its problems and allow for its strategy to open up from this point forward. If at the end of 2020, the Canon 1D X Mark III is the best hybrid camera option from Canon, there will be a lot of disappointed Canon faithful out there.

Aputure & Quasar Science Lighting Masterclass: The Truth About RGB

Aputure is putting on a free lighting masterclass in Los Angelas on Thursday, January 9, 2020, from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM PST. The lighting masterclass is called “The Truth About RGB”. The class will be lead by Aputure’s Ted Sim and Quasar Science’s Tim Kang, as part of their FLEX (Film Lighting Experiences) Series. … Continued

The post Aputure & Quasar Science Lighting Masterclass: The Truth About RGB appeared first on Newsshooter.

Camera Comparison Chart 2019 – Updated with New Full-Frame Cameras

The latest update to the Camera Comparison Chart 2019 from Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock now also lists new full-frame cinema cameras. They added Canon C500 Mark II and Sony FX9 which finally started shipping. Sony Venice got updated with the new firmware with higher frame rates.

Camera comparison chart 2019. Source: Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock

It has become a yearly tradition, that Thomas Fletcher and Gary Adcock publish their camera comparison chart (you can check the 2018 version here). As Adcock said, it serves as a useful tool for cinematographers to help them educate producers with the large variety of tools available to them. This chart is compiled with information gathered from conversations with numerous cinematographers, rental houses, and manufacturers.

The list focuses on mainstream production cameras that are available for rental or purchase around the world. This means they also take cameras out from the list every year. According to Fletcher, a great deal of thought goes into determining which camera to put on (or take off) the list. As an example, you won’t find the Sony FS7 II in the latest edition of the comparison chart anymore. That camera most likely got replaced with the Sony FX9.

Camera Comparison Chart 2019 – Latest Update

The latest update reflects the new full-frame cinema cameras from Canon and Sony as well as the new firmware for the Sony Venice. These cameras were not included in the original version of the chart and the reason was that they were not shipping yet. That is one of the rules of this chart. Now, that both cameras are shipping, they have been taken on the list.

Camera comparison chart 2019 – Page 1. Source: Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock

The following large format cameras have been added or updated:

  • Canon C500 Mark II (added)
  • Sony PXW-FX9 (added)
  • Sony Venice frame rates (updated firmware with higher frame rates) – This is firmware 5.0, which should be available very soon in January 2020. We will keep you informed.

Camera comparison chart 2019 – Page 2. Source: Tom Fletcher and Gary Adcock

Please keep in mind the official statement of its creators:

Please note that portions of this chart are subjective. This is not scientifically tested and collected data. We have sincerely tried to assemble accurate information to share with the industry. Our goal is to help producers make an educated decision in our rapidly changing camera and optical landscape – that said – numbers do not tell the whole story – look at the images and consult your cinematographer. We encourage you to test for yourself!

As always, you can report any discrepancies to the Camera Comparison Chart via e-mail. Updates to the chart will be posted as necessary (without another email until the 2020 Camera Comparison Chart in late summer). Personally, I wonder when smaller cameras with 10-bit and 12-bit recording (like Blackmagic Pocket cameras, Panasonic S1H and other) will start finding their way into this list.

What do you think of the 2019 camera comparison list? Do you miss any information? Would you like to see some smaller mirrorless cameras on this list? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

The post Camera Comparison Chart 2019 – Updated with New Full-Frame Cameras appeared first on cinema5D.

Color Grading Basics – Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 Workshop with Simon Hall

Senior Blackmagic Design trainer Simon Hall presents a short workshop covering basics of color grading in DaVinci Resolve 16. He shows all parts of the Color page in Resolve and explains how they should be used. Simon also shows a few practical examples of primary and secondary color correction.

DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of color grading with Simon Hall. Image credit: cinema5D

During this year’s Photo & Adventure trade show in Vienna, Austria, the cinema5D team was in charge of the “Cine & Video stage” program at this show. We invited many interesting guests to talk about various topics. You can see the initial post here. We decided to publish the most interesting topics again in separate articles. You can await these to be published in the next weeks. This article is covering Simon Hall’s presentation showing the basics of color grading in Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16.

This content was originally streamed live from the Photo+Adventure – Film+Video Stage –  in November. We are re-publishing and highlighting some of the best content from the stage.

DaVinci Resolve used to be known mainly as a color grading software. It still is one of the most powerful software for colorists. In recent years it, however, also became a powerful NLE editing software. Blackmagic Design managed to concentrate lots of functions from various stages of post-production in one application.

DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of color grading with Simon Hall. Image credit: cinema5D

Simon Hall is a senior Blackmagic Design trainer and an experienced editor. In summer, he conducted a short DaVinci Resolve training for cinema5D and we decided to invite him to Photo & Adventure trade show to show basics of color grading in Resolve 16.

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of Color Grading

The focus of this short workshop is concentrated on the Color page of DaVinci Resolve 16 as that is where the whole color grading process happens. Simon starts the presentation with the description of tall the different windows in the Color page.

DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of color grading with Simon Hall – Layer nodes. Image credit: cinema5D

  • The top left-hand corner contains a Gallery. Users can save their grades there in the form of stills.
  • Next to the gallery in the middle, there is a Viewer monitor.
  • The top right-hand corner contains a Node window. Simon shows node workflow. He uses a few serial nodes and also explains layer nodes, which can bypass serial nodes. These are useful for instance when doing local color adjustments with qualifiers. Simon isolates the color of a face not to mess up the skin tones while grading as an example. Nodes can be labeled for better orientation because with complex grades, the node window can get a bit confusing.
  • The stripe in the middle is a thumbnail view. It includes all the clips from the timeline.
  • The bottom left-hand corner contains a window with many primary color correction tools. Most used ones are the primary color wheels – Lift (for shadows), Gamma (for midtones), and Gain (for highlights). Users can use these wheels to quickly correct exposure and color temperature of the clips. As an alternative to primary wheels, there are also log wheels. Log wheels are much more specific than primary wheels – the area they affect does not overlap so much. Log wheels are therefore useful for adjusting only a specific part of the image – for instance, highlights only. The danger with log wheels is they can give an unnatural look very quickly.
  • The bottom middle window contains many secondary color correction tools, like for instance more types of color curves or color qualifiers. With the help of 3D color qualifier and tracker, users can change colors of various objects in the clip, like the face which Simon used as an example.
  • Finally, on the bottom right we can find monitoring tools, like for instance many flavors of parades. Simon shows mostly RGB parade, which is useful also when adjusting the white balance of a clip.

DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of color grading with Simon Hall – Layer nodes. Image credit: cinema5D

Simon further shows the advantages of working with Blackmagic RAW. Users can work with Camera Raw feature in Resolve 16. With every clip, users can change ISO, color space, gamma, white balance, and more

Resolve also has a couple of OpenFX effects on the Color page. Simon shows a Face refinement as an example of an effect. It recognizes a face in the image and tracks it. Users can then play with different sliders and adjust the look of the face. There is Eye retouching, Eye bag removal, Lip retouching, color corrections and more adjustments available.

Simon also shows a new feature in Resolve called Object removal when he removed an airplane from a clip.

DaVinci Resolve 16 – Basics of color grading with Simon Hall – Object removal. Image credit: cinema5D

Resolve accepts a wide range of formats and it includes debayer settings for each of them, so users can grade material from virtually any digital camera. Simon also demonstrated how well Resolve 16 is optimized. It should be stable even on mid-range laptops, like Apple’s MacBook, which Simon used.

Simon Hall had of course very limited time on our stage, but Blackmagic Design offers free training manuals and online videos for DaVinci Resolve like we just reported about recently. 

Do you use DaVinci Resolve 16 for color grading or do you want to start? Did you find this short workshop useful? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

The post Color Grading Basics – Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 16 Workshop with Simon Hall appeared first on cinema5D.