Video: The next time you complain about spending thousands of dollars on a precision camera lens, stop and think about all the all hard work that went into its design and creation. As camera maker Mats Wernersson reveals, were you to make a lens yourself, you'd be spending days ensuring every last component was flawless.
DJI, the world's largest consumer drone manufacturer, has a problem. ISIS, the terrorist organisation, has been turning off-the-shelf drones into flying bombs and making headlines in the process. So what's DJI doing about this? The company very quietly created no-fly zones over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
So far, 360° videos have mostly worked as novelty items that are rarely impressive. But I have to say this motion graphics exercise that starts in a sort of Max Headroom-ish outer space blasts through a deconstructed Tokyo and finally turns into a Space Odyssey-style head trip is one of the finest examples of the technique that anyone's produced.
On Thursday, the US Center for Constitutional Rights challenged the NYPD's body camera policies, asking a judge to block the city's forthcoming pilot program, which is slated to outfit 1000 officers with body cameras as early as next week. The cameras were supposed to be a step forward for police accountability and transparency, but the CCR says the current policy dictating their use gives officers too much discretion about when to record, and makes it too difficult for the public to see the footage after the fact.
So. You need a new camera, right? Your old one is looking a bit... old. So you need a new camera. And that camera should be Sony's brand new a9, a $6999 mirrorless full-frame monster that can shoot 20 frames per second without blacking out your view — your view, by the way, is through a brand new ultra-bright and high-res OLED electronic viewfinder. In-body image stabilisation, full-frame 4K video capture, a shutter speed of up to 1/32,000sec — this is the camera to end all cameras.
For a few years now, Sony's been the most innovative name in the camera game, besting incumbents like Nikon and Canon in several categories with awesome point-and-shoots, like the RX100 line, and the truly game-changing A7 full-frame mirrorless line. Far from just an innovator, there are signs the company's efforts are finding an audience: A few days ago Sony claimed to have overtaken Nikon as the second best-selling producer of full-frame cameras, the big expensive cameras preferred by anyone who makes their living shooting pictures. But Canon, with its super fast 1D series of full frame cameras, is still king when it comes to big, badarse professional cameras used for shooting sports and NatGeo covers. Well, until now — Sony's new A9 has all the trappings of a dethroner.
Instead of propping up a camera on a tripod for an entire year to capture a timelapse of the seasons changing, Will Strathmann piloted his drone over some amazingly scenic landscapes in the spring, summer, fall, and winter, recreating the same flight path as closely as possible each time.
GoPro needs a nice, clear-cut win. The company that makes such good action cameras it's become nearly synonymous with the product has had a rough time. Last year, it had to lay people off and delay the release of its drone after declining sales and improved competition put a severe dent in its coffers. Then, that new drone was recalled because it kept falling out of the sky. After that, the latest iteration of the GoPro action camera was released and sales were sluggish. So, in an effort to fabricate a win, GoPro is begging people in the US to trade in their old GoPro camera for a new one.
On Friday, the New York Police Department, the largest police department in the US with about 34,000 officers, released its body camera policies. The NYPD held extensive public comments and met with several civil rights groups, but the policies are largely a disaster and undermine the goals of the body camera technology — accountability and transparency.
Netgear's Arlo is one of our favourite security cameras for two reasons — it's entirely wireless, and entirely rain-proof. Now there's an upgraded version called the Arlo Pro, with two-way audio and a wider field of view, as well as all the original's weatherproofing and HD video recording.
On Wednesday, Axon (formerly "Taser") announced its offer to outfit every cop in the US with a free body camera, with rollout beginning as soon as the end of the month. About 20 per cent of US police departments use body cameras. The overwhelmingly majority of all police departments have no policies about how best to use the cameras, what to do with footage, or even when to record.
On Wednesday, stun gun maker Taser announced that it's offering free body cameras to every police department in the United States. That's 700,000 cops across 18,000 departments. Rebranding itself as "Axon" (as in the nerve fibres that connect neurons throughout the human body), the company said in a press release that it's "going 'all-in' to empower police officers" and will offer departments free cameras and storage for an entire year.
Nikon is, ostensibly, a remarkable company. Sure, it had to lay off quite a few people last year, and back in February, it cancelled a hotly anticipated line of cameras. But Nikon's a tech-based company that's managed to innovate and survive a hundred years. Nikon started as an optics company and has endured as one, even as photography has evolved considerably. Few companies can claim the same! What better way to celebrate 100 years of (mostly) success than with the release of... a Swarovski crystal version of one of its most iconic products?
Being on location isn't always possible as a photographer, so what can you do instead? Bring the location to you, of course. Or build it... in miniature. Camera maestro Vatsal Kataria has been refining two crafts at the same time — one behind the lens and the other behind a paintbrush — to create (and snap) tiny replica scenes featuring everything from cars to helicopters.
A proper Steadicam rig that can capture smooth tracking and chase shots usually requires thousands of dollars (not including the camera) and a highly-skilled operator. As a cheaper workaround, these filmmakers used a gyro-stabilised camera drone that they held in front of them like a traditional film camera.
Time and time again, police officers shoot, and sometimes kill, civilians holding harmless objects, later claiming they mistook them for guns: A mobile phone, a bible, and a Wii controller. In early February, police body camera manufacturer Taser announced that it had acquired the artificial intelligence startup Dextro Inc — a "computer vision" research team that claims it can use object recognition software to train officers to better discern actual threats. But privacy experts find the surveillance and profiling possibilities offered by this latest, but certainly not last, upgrade to police body cameras unsettling. Moreover, the question remains: The cameras may be getting smarter, but are they actually making the public safer?