Cameras

5 facts about dual-camera smartphones

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It’s amazing how smartphones have become the breeding ground for the latest camera technology. Dual-camera setups, in particular, have raised phone photography to yet another level.

Like adding more processing cores to a phone’s chipset, the idea of having two cameras at once came from the need to push past the physical limits of a single module, and introduce a whole new world of features in the process.

Now that it’s becoming the norm, we have to sort out some facts and myths about the latest trend.

The dual-camera setup isn’t exactly new

It may only be taking off now, but dual-cam setups have been around for a long time. In fact, the LG Optimus 3D and HTC Evo 3D, which were the first smartphones to introduce the feature, came out way back in 2011.

dual-lenses-future-20161123-06

The first-ever dual-camera smartphone, LG Optimus 3D

Their implementations were different from what we’re experiencing today, however. Five years ago, 3D content was a thing, and both television and smartphone manufacturers produced compatible devices like the two aforementioned phones. Everyone eventually agreed that 3D technology was best left in the past, and the idea of having more than one camera on a handset took a backseat for several years.

Not all dual-cameras are the same

Even though brands advertise their phones as having double the number of cameras, you need to look a little closer at how the modules work in tandem.

One of the more popular executions is the Leica-infused Huawei P9. It uses a pair of color and monochrome image sensors to produce sharper photos with greater clarity when operating together. You can also choose to rely solely on the black-and-white sensor to create stunning imagery.

Huawei P9

The Leica-branded Huawei P9

Another well-designed implementation is on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus. Its cameras have different focal lengths, meaning one has the usual wide-angle look while the other provides further zoom, so it’s like having a zoom lens sans the clunky mechanism.

LG’s flagship V20 and G5 smartphones have a similar style to Apple’s. The difference is in the length of the zooms, wherein there’s an ultra-wide-angle lens instead of a zoomed-in unit. This makes LG’s version better suited for landscape photography and large group pictures.

It’s not a gimmick or passing fad

Equipping two cameras addresses several limitations in smartphone photography, such as introducing optical zoom without adding bulk and improving image quality on already-tiny sensors.

In order to add camera functionality while keeping the frame as slim as possible, the only currently known solution is to add more modules side by side. If anything, we could be seeing more lenses on smartphones someday, and look back at twin setups as prehistoric tech.

More lenses doesn’t mean more expensive

It’s easy to associate such an innovation with high-end handsets, such as the $769 iPhone 7 Plus and $559 Huawei P9, but entry-level smartphones have been feeling the love, too.

Huawei P9 and iPhone 7 Plus

The Huawei P9 (left) and iPhone 7 Plus (right)

Huawei’s more budget-friendly Honor sub-brand released the dual-cam-equipped Honor 6X for only $150; before that, there was the US-bound Honor 8 retailing for $400. Chinese rival Xiaomi also offers a $225 Redmi Pro, which is the company’s first phone to have a dual-camera setup — even before the mighty Mi 5s Plus.

There’s more to improving image quality

On the topic of existing technologies, it’s important to note there are several other factors that contribute to image quality. For one, the size of the image sensor matters; a larger one can take in more light and may produce a shallower depth of field for creamier backgrounds behind subjects.

Another important element is aperture. By having a larger maximum lens opening, more light can pass through, and, in turn, enable you to have a higher shutter speed for capturing fast-moving objects without too much motion blur.

iPhone 7 Plus zoom

Real-time zooming with the iPhone 7 Plus

Finally, we have image stabilization. It comes in two forms: optical, which utilizes a physical mechanism to steady shots, and electronic, which uses software magic to predict shaky hand movements. When using either of the two, photos normally turn out a lot less blurry, as long as the subject stays in place.

With more and more smartphone manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon, we can’t wait to see what radical designs there’ll be next year.

[irp posts=”4954″ name=”Apple iPhone 7 loses to Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in DxOMark camera test”]

 


This feature was produced in collaboration between GadgetMatch and Innity Philippines.

Cameras

The Sony A7S III is a low light video beast

And then some

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Finally! After years of waiting, we now have the successor to Sony’s video-centric mirrorless camera — the Sony A7S III.

It’s been six years since the release of the Sony A7S II, and its successor carries on the many features that made it an absolute must-have for videographers both amateur and professional.

Taking professional video further

The A7S III offers in-camera 4K recording up to 120 frames per second(1), 10-bit depth and 4:2:2 color sampling. It has a more flexible and efficient post-production workflow with a variety of advanced movie recording modes such as All-Intra and MPEG-H HEVC/H.265 coding (XAVC HS).

If you’re worried about a mutli-cam production, the Sony Alpha team has taken that into account as well. It has three color gamut settings S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, and S-Gamut3.Cine that make it easy to match with footage shot with other cameras.

Footage taken with the camera is also ready to go as is. The S-Log3 gamma curves as well as support for HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile produces footage with a minimal need for post-production.

The A7S III also allows up to 4K 60p 16-bit RAW output to an external recorder via HDMI Type-A connector, offering additional post-production flexibility.

BIONZ XR for better image quality

The A7S III is equipped with the new CMOS image sensor and BIONZ XR image processing engine. This all in the service of producing that legendary S-Series sensitivity with significantly enhanced color reproduction and texture renderings for improved overall image quality.

The base ISO has been lowered to 80, resulting in a normal range of 80-102,400 (expandable to 80-409,600 for video and 40-409,600 for stills). This provides more flexible ISO plus wide dynamic range with low noise at all settings.

It also improves AWB (Auto White Balance) performance with a new “Visible light + IR Sensor” that helps to achieve more precise white balance under artificial lighting.

Advanced AutoFocus

AutoFocus (AF) has been one of the features that Sony just has been absolutely good at and that carries over to the A7S III. It offers Fast Hybrid AF by combining phase-detection and contrast-detection AF.

This means it can track subjects over a wide area with outstanding speed, precision and smoothness, even when using a narrow depth of field. This is further enhanced by Sony’s e-mount lenses capable of Fine focus expression.

For environments with a lot of movement, Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF are available to maintain constant focus on the intended subject.

Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF improves detection performance by 30% over the previous system. It ensures accurate, reliable detection, even when the subject’s face looks away.

The A7S III is now touch screen so real-time tracking can be done in that manner. Real-time Eye AF is automatically initiated when an eye is detected.

The camera includes several AF features for professional users including AF Transition Speed in seven settings. It has rack-focus transitions and five AF Subject Shift Sensitivity settings to customize how easily AF will switch or stay with the locked-on subject.

It’s now also possible to Touch Focus during manual focus mode on the LCD screen or remotely from the Imaging Edge Mobile application.

Better cooling implemented

Naturally, this much power will generate plenty of heat. The A7S III’s design takes this into consideration.

A newly developed unique heat dissipating structure keeps the image sensor and image processing engine temperatures within their normal operating ranges. This keeps things cool even during extended continuous recording sessions at 4K 60p 10-bit 4:2:2 video lasting an hour or more.

The new heat-dissipating structure requires no fan or cabinet vents allowing Alpha 7S III to maintain dust and moisture resistance.

Maximum stability

A camera built video can’t be without proper stabilization.The Sony A7S III is the first Alpha series camera to include Active Mode with 5-axis optical in-body image stabilization to support especially difficult handheld movie shooting.

It’s the first Alpha series E-mount body to feature a side-opening vari-angle rear screen. It’s perfect for gimbal-mounted shots, complicated angles, handheld operation and more.

The screen rotates sideways, up and down, and features a 3.0 type 1.44 million-dot (approx.) touch panel LCD monitor, for optimal visibility even in bright outdoor environments. FINALLY.

Not a slouch in photography

Just because it’s video-focused, doesn’t mean it neglected still images. The A7S III has a fast Hybrid AF system with 759 phase-detection AF points covering 92% of the image sensor.

Users can continuously shoot more than 1,000 uncompressed RAW images at up to 10fps, or up to 8fps in live view mode, with either the mechanical or electronic shutter.

High speed transfer, redesigned menu

The A7S III features two CFexpress Type A compatible media slots. These support UHS-I and UHS-II SDXC/SDHC cards for high write-and-read speeds while keeping the camera body compact.

CFexpress Type A cards are ideally suited to high-speed continuous RAW still image shooting as well as 4K 120pi movie recording at high bit rates.

High-speed data transfer to a PC is possible at about 1.7 times faster than that of SD card. The dual slots can be set to relay mode for extended continuous recording of even the highest bit rate data as well as simultaneous recording and sort by format type recording.

The menu system, which some have noted to be somewhat of a black hole, has been redesigned for easier navigation. Switching to video mode automatically prioritizes video settings. Same is true for the various photo modes.

Pricing and Availability

The new Sony A7S III Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will be available in September 2020 for approximately US$3,499.99. It will be sold at a variety of Sony’s authorized dealers throughout North America.

In Singapore and the Philippines, it will be available in October 2020. Pricing will be announced soon.

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Cameras

Associated Press will equip their journalists with Sony mirrorless cameras

Including all AP photographers and videographers around the world

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Renata Brito covering protests in the Spain-France border

Sony has been known as one of the leading imaging brands. Recently, they teamed up with Associated Press (AP) to bring Sony cameras and lenses to all AP visual journalists around the world. If you’re not familiar, AP is a renowned global news agency with journalists coming from 250 locations in 100 countries.

Originally, AP has been relying on one brand for their stills, while a completely different brand for their video footage. In an interview conducted by DPReview with J. David Ake, AP’s Director of Photography (DoP), he told how “excited” he is considering both teams can now work together well.

He also stated that the whole equipment transition will take a little over a year. Completely switching from DSLR cameras to mirrorless cameras will help them shoot more silent — which is favorable to avoid disruptions when covering a particular event or scene.

For photographers, they’ll receive the ultra-fast Sony a9 II, which will also be the standard kit for most journalists. Meanwhile, most videographers and entertainment shooters will have the Sony a7R IV with a massive 61-megapixel sensor.

Georganne Moline competes in women’s 300-meter hurdles at the Weltklasse ZŸrich Inspiration Games at Mt. San Antonio College on Thursday, July 9, 2020, in Walnut, Calif. Athletes competed from seven different locations around the world. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Other than that, Sony is also offering AP 4K XDCAM handheld video cameras and a range of Sony’s 57 E-mount lenses including top-of-the-line G Master models. The switch is favorable as Sony is the only company that offers native long-telephoto prime lenses for mirrorless cameras.

Other brands that offer mirrorless models use a completely different lens lineup and usually require mounting adapters that add more hassle when working around the field.

Moreover, AP and Sony will work harmoniously to improve the workflow and efficiency of field operations by testing 5G capabilities through its Xperia line. However, it was unclear whether they’re talking about the Xperia 1 II or the top-tier Xperia PRO variant.

You can find out more about the collaboration through their short video here.

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Cameras

Moments: Liwliwa, Zambales

Beach breaks are good for your health!

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Moments: Liwliwa, Zambales

Whenever life throws me a curveball, I make it a point to book a weekend by the beach. As far as my personal experience goes, the answer to most problems is a quick beach fix. Even in films, we’ve seen how basking under sunlight and hearing the sound of the ocean can improve our well-being.

Luckily, the Philippines is a country where beaches and islands are just a few hours away be it via bus, car, ferry, or plane. So one sunny weekend before the country went on lockdown, I went to a beach break where surfers and beach rabbits can de-stress from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

If you’re considering going on beach vacations at some point in your lives, here are some reasons why:

Elevate your mood

ICYDK, being exposed to sunlight can help boost our mood since it increases the release of  Serotonin — a feel-good hormone in our brain which helps us feel calm and happier. But before you soak some sunshine, make sure you apply sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays!

Relax your brains

City life is bustling and crowded; there’s so much going on. When near any body of water, particularly the ocean, our minds start to relax and ease from its soothing sounds. It’s easy for our brain to process, which allows us to go into a meditative state allowing your mind to breathe, just like it would during a yoga session or mindfulness exercise.

De-stress by doing nothing

We’re all busy with jam-packed schedules, why not let yourself recuperate by doing nothing? Not all beach trips have to be filled with tight itineraries; that’s a fun way to ruin a weekend break. Sometimes, all you need is to nap and leave your phone behind while under a big, beach umbrella, listening to the ocean’s lull. In my friend’s case, it’s read a book while lying on a hammock.

Anything blue won’t make you feel blue

Unlike the common blues, the blue sky we see when we’re at the beach doesn’t make us feel down. Unbeknownst to many, colors have a big impact on our mood. This is true especially for blue, which has a calming and relaxing effect. It’s a restorative color that rejuvenates your heart, mind, body, and soul just by looking at it.

Sand helps with fitness

Working out is one of our favorite activities on the beach, whether it’s mastering yoga positions, running through dunes early in the morning, or playing volleyball during sunset. Our bodies work harder just by stepping on sand because the soft surface requires greater force. However, the sand also absorbs the energy exerted, which guarantees low-impact on any strenuous activity we do.

Taking beach breaks on a beach break

If you’re new to the jargon, beach breaks are surfable waves breaking onto a beach. It’s different from Point Breaks, which produces long, perfect waves you can ride.

Both beach breaks and point breaks are mostly found near surf towns. In the Philippines, there are three accessible surfing spots when you come from Manila: San Felipe in Zambales, San Juan in La Union, and Baler in Aurora.

Taking a beach break on a surfing spot with lots of beach breaks can do wonders for your well-being. It has everything you need: the sun, the sand, the blue sky, and the sound of crashing waves.

Wherever your next ride would be, always arm yourself with a compact camera to document your adventures, and have your friends tag along. Moments are best enjoyed when you have companions.

 

Video was taken using Sony RX100 VII at Kapitan’s Liwa Surf Resort, San Felipe, Zambales


Moments is a travel video series that aims to show that anyone, using any device — whether a DSLR or an inexpensive smartphone — can capture life’s moments and make something beautiful out of it.

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