Technologizer posts about Digital Photography

I’m wary of digital-photography breakthroughs until they’ve proven themselves in the real world–anyone else remember Foveon?–but Lytro’s technology for cameras that let you focus after capturing an image does sound amazing.

Posted by Harry at 1:36 am

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TechCrunch says that it’s got its hands on a massive cache of info about an unannounced photo-sharing app for the iPhone–from Facebook. And it says that the app looks amazing.

Posted by Harry at 9:44 am

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Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible

A man, a company, and the most wildly ambitious consumer-electronics device of its era.

By  |  Posted at 3:00 am on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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Polaroid co-founder Edwin Land with an SX-70 and an SX-70 snapshot in his Cambridge, Massachusetts office on November 1st, 1972. Photo: Joyce Dopkeen/Getty Images

What makes a gadget great? You might argue that it’s determined at least in part by how many lives the product in question touches. Back in 2005, when I helped choose a list of the fifty greatest gadgets of the past fifty years, we ranked the Sony Walkman as #1 and Apple’s iPod as #2. Fabulous gizmos both; I suspect, however, that they wouldn’t have topped the list if they hadn’t been bestsellers of epic proportions.

The SX-70–specifically, the SX-70 which I bought at an antique store in Redwood City, California in April of 2011.

But greatness isn’t a popularity contest–not primarily one, at least. Maybe it has more to do with the concept expressed by Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law: making technology indistinguishable from magic. By that measure, I can’t think of a greater gadget than the SX-70 Land Camera, the instant camera that Polaroid introduced in April 1972. We ranked the SX-70 eighth on that 2005 list, but the sheer magnitude of its ambition and innovation dwarfs the Walkman, iPod, and nearly every other consumer-electronics product you can name.

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I’m at Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference, not the Wall Street Journal’s D9–but I’m monitoring the news from there, too. One of this morning’s D9 guests was Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who announced a new, improved search feature and (as expected) a photosharing service in partnership with Photobucket. The latter new feature is arriving “over the next several weeks.”

Posted by Harry at 11:12 am

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Four Technological Holy Grails

By  |  Posted at 1:45 am on Friday, April 15, 2011

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If you could somehow transport me as I was fifteen years ago to 2011, the old me would be flabbergasted by how much technology improved in so little time. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you showed 1996 Harry an iPad, I’d insist that it was either a hoax or witchcraft.

But if 1996 Harry stuck around in 2011 for a while and used modern tech products, I’d also be surprised by some things that haven’t changed. Annoying things. Annoying things that I would have assumed would have been fixed long before the second decade of the new millennium rolled around.

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Eye-Fi Rolls Out Direct Mode and a New Card

By  |  Posted at 12:35 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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Eye-Fi, the folks who make the unique SD cards with built-in Wi-Fi, are just about ready to launch the most interesting improvement they’ve made since they unveiled their first cards. Previewed in January at CES, it’s called Direct Mode, and it will let you transfer photos from a camera with an Eye-Fi card directly and wirelessly to an iPhone (or other iOS device) or an Android phone or tablet–where you can then upload them to the Web using Eye-Fi’s  apps or use them with any phone app that involves photos, such as Instagram, Path, Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter.

If, like me, you do much of your photography these days with a phone but aren’t crazy about the results, this is potentially a more exciting application of Eye-Fi’s technology than its original features, which require that you be within range of an available Wi-Fi network to get photos off your camera and onto the Internet.

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Stephen Shankland of Cnet reports that Google is about to introduce a graphics file format that stores photos and other images much more efficiently than JPEG, the planet’s dominant image format. Good luck with that: JPEG 2000, an earlier attempt to render JPEG obsolete, never caught on. Neither has JPEG XR, an open standard originally created by Microsoft which I haven’t thought about since it was announced back in 2006. (Back then, it was called Windows Media Photo; it was renamed HD Photo before ending up as JPEG XR.)

Posted by Harry at 11:41 am

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Roxio Creator: Cheap n’ Simple 3D

By  |  Posted at 5:30 am on Tuesday, August 24, 2010

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Full disclosure: I think of myself as a 3D skeptic. On balance, I think its impact on the movie business is pernicious–sixty years after the first 3D boom, it remains a gimmick, not an artform. As for 3D TV, much of the enthusiasm I’ve witnessed so far comes from TV manufacturers rather than consumers, and the need to pay for all those pricey glasses still seems like an overwhelming gotcha.

Despite all that, I kind of like the approach to 3D in Roxio’s new Creator 2011, the new version of a venerable swiss-army knife package for creating, editing, and sharing media of all sorts. If you happen to be one of the few folks who own a 3D camera or camcorder, a 3D HDTV, or a laptop or monitor that works with Nvidia’s $200 3D Vision active shutter glasses, Creator ‘s new 3D features will work with them. But they don’t require any special equipment other than the pair of blue-and-red lens cardboard spectacles that come in the box, and you don’t need to know anything about 3D to give them a whirl.

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Fuji’s Second-Generation 3D Camera: Are You Ready to Give Your Pictures Another Dimension?

By  |  Posted at 8:41 am on Thursday, August 19, 2010

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At a very interactive product launch, Fujifilm this week rolled out a point-and-click camera that lets people display 3D photos on either a 3D TV or a PC. If you own the right kind of laptop or desktop PC monitor, you don’t even need to wear 3D glasses to view the third dimension of your work, Fuji officials said at the event at New York City’s Museum of Natural History.

Nevertheless, the new FinePix Real 3D W3 digital camera comes with an HDMI interface for instant viewing of 3D pics on virtually any manufacturer’s 3D TV with the assistance of stereographic 3D goggles. The camera will compete with a couple of new Sony models which, like the W3, are due to ship next month.

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Are Cameraphones Killing the Point-and-Shoot? Not Yet, Not Hardly

By  |  Posted at 10:54 am on Tuesday, July 6, 2010

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Over the past few days I’ve had fun taking photos with a couple of neat new cameras…that happen to be phones. They’re the iPhone 4 and Verizon’s upcoming Droid X, and their cameras are the best in any phones I’ve ever used. So much so that they left me pondering the future of point-and-shoot cameras that aren’t phones.

Phones have already killed traditional PDAs dead. The best ones also render media players such as an iPod largely superfluous, and the days of standalone GPS handhelds are clearly numbered. Are we nearing the moment when a meaningful number of people will skip buying a separate camera in favor of snapping photos with a phone?

Some thoughts on that in a moment–but first, my impressions of the photographic capabilities of these two handsets. When I had plenty of natural light, I liked most of the photos from both phones quite a bit…although even the nicest portraits I took looked slightly out of focus and lacking in detail. In murkier environments, the iPhone performed better than the Droid X, although the LED flashes on both phones aren’t very useful. (They only made a noticeable difference when there was very little available light, and even then tended to produce unflattering, fuzzy portraits.)

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Slightly Creepy: Frame Wizard Makes Still Pictures Move

By  |  Posted at 2:35 pm on Thursday, June 24, 2010

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One of the more interesting items being demoed Wednesday in New York was FaceCake’s Frame Wizard, a picture frame that does more than just cycle through your pictures with pretty transitions. The technology has been out for a little over a year, but the company appears to be again pushing it as we come into the holiday season.

Here’s a video shot on YouTube of the picture frames so you get an idea of what it does — its better illustrated by this then me telling you about it:

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Picnik isn’t just my favorite online image editor–it’s one of my favorite Web-based applications, period, with a clever user interface that improves on that of desktop apps rather than just imitating them. And now Picnik is part of Google. Hearing that Google has acquired something I love always leaves me in a quandary, since you never know if the company in question will turn out to be the next YouTube or the next Jaiku. But this much is true: It should be pretty easy to figure out how to make Picnik’s cool tools into a welcome part of Picasa Web Albums

Posted by Harry at 4:25 pm

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Fotobabble, which launched today, lets you share and embed photos with voice-over narration you create on a PC, Mac, or–this is the neatest part–iPhone. Not bad, but it would be nice to see it add the ability to create albums, so you could do things like upload an entire vaction’s worth of narrated snapshots. (Right now, the “Fotobabbles” you create consist of one photo apiece…)

Posted by Harry at 11:54 pm

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Adobe is celebrating Photoshop’s twentieth anniversary today. (The program, created by brothers John and Thomas Knoll, actually goes back to the late 1980s, but Adobe shipped its first version on February 19th,1990.) Here’s a fun video from Adobe with a 1990 clip on the whole shocking idea of digital photoretouching, and a new conversation between the men who made the app.

Posted by Harry at 10:40 am

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Five Digital Photo Gifts for 2009

By  |  Posted at 3:33 pm on Monday, November 30, 2009

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My favorite digital photo sites have some new surprises for 2009, and I’ve checked out a couple of new-to-me sites with holiday goodies too. If you’ve stocked up on digital photos all year, here are five gift ideas that take advantage of your personal image archive.

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