While smartphone cameras have been improving rapidly in recent years, even top-of-the-line devices can fall short of the visual effects we really need. One area that can disappoint is that of field of view – the area that the lens is able to ‘see’. At CES we were lucky enough to test out Olloclip’s new 4-in-1 lens for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The lens offers 4 options – Fisheye, Wide-Angle, 10x Macro and 15x Macro. The device will take the iPhone’s photography and video-making capabilities up a couple of notches, and comes with a free clip and Lanyard for easy carrying and switching when you’re on a selfie spree. Watch the video above to see the device in action.
The Olloclip 4-in-1 is available now for £59.99. Visit Olloclip to find out more.
Japanese tech company Sony’s next shot into the smart-camera fray is on the horizon with the upcoming release of their a5100 camera. It promises to be an extremely lightweight, pocket-sized solution to photography needs, boasting a huge 24.3 megapixels and the ability to shoot full 1080p video. Sony promises “Crisp, blur-free action shots and soulful portraits. Smooth, cinematic Full HD movies. Better-looking selfies.” While this may be quoted, is this really going to be the go-to lightweight camera we’ve all been waiting for?
The company sure seems keen to advertise one of this camera’s key aspects – its strengths in video shooting. The camera will feature “Fast Hybrid AF with huge 179 focal plane phase-detection AF points for reliable tracking autofocus plus touch focussing and touch shutter release”. This means the camera is able to constantly focus and refocus an image during filming – resulting in a crazed pet, a photo finish or the winning penalty shot all recorded in crisp 1080p with no blurring in the image during filming. Touch shutter release will allow you to use the rotatable camera screen to take photos without the need for the shutter – touch a location on the screen and the camera will make it the focus of the image.
According to TechRadar, “The screen is also bright and clear, and responds quickly to touch.” The screen can be flipped up 180 degrees, making selfies easy to capture.
The camera is palm-sized and lightweight – weighing in at just 283 grams you could easily forget it’s in your pocket. It also has similar dimensions to a smartphone, making it easy to carry and serving, according to Sony, as “the serious choice for anyone who’s moving up from their smartphone’s camera or point-and-shoot compact snapper.” So if you’re looking for an upgrade on your smartphone’s camera but don’t want to restrict bag or pocket space, this could be a great choice.
The selfie lovers among us will have plenty to like here too. The company is quick to advertise the camera’s selfie-taking abilities, stating:
“Flip the large LCD screen through 180° and hold the ergonomically-styled camera body comfortably at arm’s length. Frame yourself with the conveniently positioned zoom lever: then release the shutter for great selfies.”
With the selfie trend showing no signs of slowing down, it’s clear that Sony want to make this aspect of modern photography easier for its consumers – all the more reason to want one of these cameras. Cnet were also keen on the camera’s selfie abilities, stating: “interface optimizations make Sony’s cameras stand out for selfies”
The a5100 also has Wi-Fi built in. This is a feature that has been under some debate – more serious camera makers have often opted to avoid building Wi-Fi into their cameras, while others, like Sony, see the potential here. The a5100’s wireless compatibility will allow seamless sharing of photos and video with others and storage devices – syncing your work onto a computer is easier than ever.
The camera will become available in mid-September 2014 and has an RRP of £420 for just the body, £550 with a 16-50mm lens kit, or £760 for both the 16-50mm lens and the 55-210mm lens kits.
What do you expect from your headphone these days? To give you good sound surely, and maybe a wireless connection to give you freedom of movement during your weekly jogging – but what about a camera?
Soundsight Headphones do just that! You can record video up to 720p HD resolution and take pictures up to 1080p HD all of that by just taping the left side. You may think why? But now a days it is all about sharing and been able to do that freely as possible. The headphone will last up to 4 hours with the camera in constant recording, 18 hours when using noise cancellation and 24 hours on standby. The headphones on-board memory is 8G and they come with a Bluetooth connection (through partner Tectonic Audio Labs) that promises to provide HiFi studio sound quality equal to when the headphone are wired. The headphones also have noise cancellation, USB audio output and has a frequency range between 16 to 20,000Hz.
Headphone are big business at the moment with news that Bose has just filed a lawsuit has reported in the media (Forbes) against Beats for patents infringing on the noise cancellation. This comes on the back of the other big news that Apple have now officially completed the purchase of Beats.
The headphones will come with a free standard app to download on your devices to edit your sound and video. Until the 30th of July you will be able to download the premium version for free and after that it will cost you $4.99 (£3.90).
With the app you will be able to “utilize the patented ColorTune™ auto-suggest feature to match video colors to music notes with a simple touch of the hand, trim, apply film-look filters, edit and Clip&Mix™ music from your device for video content through the SoundSight application”.
You can pre-order now at Soundsight for $349 (£205) for delivery by Christmas. Otherwise, if you want to wait and see what they’re like, they will be in retail by Spring 2015 for $499 (£293).
Rather than sit on their laurels and rely on appealing to the more serious photographer, digital cameras have reacted to the threat of smartphones by upping their game to include a range of modern technology standards and incorporating tricks of the trade that offer users the sort of flexible experience they’ve come to expect.
Many have also focused on providing a slim and light form factor without compromise on quality, an area in which Olympus’ new PEN E-PL6 excels. It features the world’s slimmest pancake zoom lens and is compatible with a range of four specialist lenses to deliver extra power and precision if you need it, alongside support for an optional electronic viewfinder accessory and flash strobe.
A series of options for creative types include 12 art filters and 6 art effects, which allow you to customise photos and movie clips with your own unique touches. A supplied FlashAir WiFi card means it’s quick and easy to transfer videos and photos to a smartphone via the Olympus app to upload to social media sites. It’s even catered for the “selfie” generation, with a large, tilt and swivel high-res LCD touchscreen for taking shots at original angles
Of course it’s no slouch when it comes to pure photography either, with a 16.1 MP sensor and TruePic VI image processor and a sensitivity range up to ISO 25600. When combined with any Micro Four Thirds lens it’s designed to be ultra quick out of the blocks – start-up and autofocus are almost instantaneous, ensuring you’ll always be in a position to capture that perfect shot. It also takes full HD (1080p) video which is optimised to minimise noise and offer a far wider dynamic range than typical compacts or smartphones can achieve, and added extras such as a level gauge when there’s no horizon, interval shooting for up to 99 shots at various intervals over a 24-hour period and a time-lag mode offer additional control in traditionally awkward environments.
The all-metal finish E-PL6 is available in black and white versions for £429.99 from mid-July.
Milled from a single block of aluminium, and designed in collaboration with Audi, the all-new Leica T is a fairly remarkable piece of kit. This is a radical departure for the German photography brand, introducing an entirely new operating system alongside Leica’s first touchscreen and their inaugural integrated Wi-Fi module.
Weighing less than 400g, the Leica T is equipped with a 16.5 megapixel CMOS image sensor that delivers a maximum image resolution of 4944×3278 pixels. Its minimalist design ensures everything is operated via four haptic controls and the 3.7-inch TFT touchscreen. The cool aluminium body has a pleasingly tactile surface, while the Wi-Fi capabilities enable wireless distribution of pictures and videos without the use of cables. An app for iOS devices is already available, enabling smartphones or tablets to serve as viewfinders and adjust the camera’s shutter speed or aperture values.
The Leica T’s shatterproof design and equally robust engineering has already won it praise from seasoned observers. Amateur Photographer complimented the “beautifully designed menu system” and its “excellent customisation”, as well as pointing out that the T’s “clean and minimal” design benefits from features like a pop-up flash and a strap that clips straight into the body shell. However, TechRadar concluded that form had been placed ahead of function, arguing that the T has been positioned “more towards the luxury end of the market, as opposed to the practical end”. As a result, “the design element is the key selling point, rather than actually using the camera.”
T3 described the new Leica as “a bold move in a market that’s flooded with compact system cameras”. They also acknowledged the strong accessory lineup, while pointing out that the £1,350 price tag will place it beyond the reach of many amateur photographers. Digital Photography Review concurred, saying only “well-heeled photographers are likely to get their hands on one…it is not in any way intended as a mass-market product.” However, their fulsome praise of the T’s “extraordinarily tactile and rather beautiful” design concluded with the observation that this is “the kind of camera that Apple might make, if it were so inclined.”
If the standard Leica T doesn’t provide enough functionality, it’s also possible to add accessories including an integrated high-res viewfinder with GPS. Semi-professional photographers can purchase the new Leica SF26 flash unit for greater brightness, and backwards compatibility is assured thanks to an adaptor that allows Leica’s popular M-Lenses to be attached to the T’s body.
Price: £1,350. Available from May 26th through authorised Leica dealers.
Californian action camera company GoPro has been synonymous with capturing the thrills and spills of extreme sports over the years – and this week the company released an improved version of its popular GoPro Hero 3+.
What made GoPro cameras so successful is how easy it is to attach the dinky little cameras to car windows, crash helmets, handlebars, surf boards, hats, belts – just about anything you can think of via a range of clever accessories. Before the days of GoPro, if you wanted to record yourself and your best evil kenevil impression you would probably have to have a cameraman to hand, and the last time we checked that’s not cheap.
With GoPro cameras, the Californian company ushered in new era of inexpensive self-documentation whereby thrill-seekers could wear the company’s cameras to record themselves doing just about anything, anywhere. And, unsurprisingly, they did. Several years later you’ll be hard pressed to find an extreme sports clip or epic fail on Youtube that wasn’t captured with a GoPro camera.
The company’s new Hero3+ features a bevy of improvements over last year’s version: it’s 20% smaller and lighter; battery life has been improved by 30%, lasting just over 2 hours on continuous record; Wi-Fi transfers are four times quicker using the GoPro App, and the camera is now waterproof to an impressive depth of 40 meters.
Gizmodo’s early hands-on with the camera noted that it produces significantly “sharper images” thanks to the improved lens, and colours were “better” balanced thanks for improvements with GoPro’s imaging software.
The GoPro Hero+ performs at its best when capturing footage at 1080p at a smooth 60fps. You can go up to 4K (3840 x 2160) but then the fps plummet to a choppy 15 fps – which is makes its 4K less than impressive. But the Hero 3+ can record high-speed/super-slow-motion 720p video at 120fps and 640 x 480 resolution video at 240fps.
Elsewhere there’s the inclusion of a new SuperView video mode that will no doubt please the diehards as it that allows for an even wider viewing angle, allowing users to capture more of their exploits and surroundings at the same time.
Check out some sample footage in this video:
As well as being tougher, lighter, and lasting longer on a single charge – the Hero 3+ has quite a few accessories to really help users get that perfect extreme shot. The Flex Clamp is a quick way to clamp a GoPro camera to a variety of objects. It comes with an optional opposable neck to achieve a wide range of camera positions. And the clamps jaws securely grip irregular shapes and slim objects thanks to its innovative design.
The Junior Chesty is a smaller version of our adult-sized Chest Harness. Perfect for kids ages 3+, the Junior Chest Harness is great for capturing footage of a child’s world from their perspective – from skiing and skateboarding to slides and swings.
There’s also a Head Strap & QuickClip; the QuickClip is a new accessory that now comes bundled with GoPro’s Head Strap. The QuickClip enables ultra-compact, low profile mounting to baseball hats, belts and other objects ranging in thickness from 3mm to 10mm.
The new GoPro Hero3+ come in three variations: the Hero3+ Black Edition is the flagship model, packing a 12-megapixel sensor, 4K video capture capabilities, the new low-light mode, and a remote. The identically priced Hero3+ Black Edition Surf is the same camera with surf mounts included. And the Hero3+ Silver Edition drops the price down but it has a lower-resolution 10-megapixel sensor, a slower burst mode that tops out at 10fps, and it lacks the 4K video mode and bundled remote.
It may look like a Wii controller, but this sleek and stylish handheld device is actually a significant consumer first. Unveiled late last month by Ricoh at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair, it is the first mass-produced fully spherical camera, simultaneously taking images through two 180-degree lenses and delivering remarkable results.
The system works through a bespoke twin-lens optical system that manages to capture everything around, above and below this slimline 95g device. Each six-megapixel JPEG is stored in the Theta’s 4GB internal memory, while you should be able to take 200 shots from one charge. That might be important, because there is no preview option before taking a picture, so it could require several attempts to capture that killer image. However, its photos do look fairly spectacular, presenting the world in a totally new way and adding real originality to even the most mundane images or ubiquitous locations.
Photos can be taken while controlling the Theta remotely, before they are sent to a smartphone using Wi-Fi and a free app. However, at launch, the only compatible handsets are the iPhone 4S and 5, running iOS 6.0 or above. Android compatibility is due before Christmas, meaning this might be a gadget best saved for a Dear Santa list.
Check out this video of the Theta we filmed during IFA 2013:
Reviews of the Theta have been positive but largely underwhelming, with CNET rather capturing the general mood. The reviewer pointed out that everyone who saw it was impressed by the device and its “mesmerising” views, but when price was mentioned, “the excitement quickly faded”. T3 concurred, summarising the Theta as “a nicely designed little gadget that’s easy to use and gives great results”, and also noting that its low-light performance is disappointing and the lack of a conventional camera makes this very much “a niche product”.
BGR described the Theta as “a next-level selfie machine”, while agreeing with the over-riding sentiment that its 360-degree imagery is too specialised and limited to achieve mass-market success. Taking a slightly different tack, Expert Reviews pointed out that its £329 purchase price could perhaps be better invested on a wide-angle DSLR lens, which would offer greater everyday practicality and long-term usability.
Ricoh designed the Theta and are also manufacturing it, with a dedicated website for image uploading (www.theta360.com) that incorporates functionalities like picture rotation, size editing and social network sharing. The proprietary nature of all this may deter loyal followers of certain other technology brands, but the Theta is well worth a look for fans of characterful and unique photography – particularly those with fairly deep pockets.
Price: £329. Available for pre-order from Ricoh’s UK website later this month.
Remember when camcorders first hit the mainstream consumer market in the 80s? They were huge, in both senses of the word. These bulky and heavy shoulder-born items suddenly unleashed a whole new load of fun as VHS’s became an almost household commodity with families being able to replay their own experiences and memories on the silver screen. The new found zest for homemade videos in the 80s led to the creation of shows such as the long-running America’s Funniest Home Videos and, in 1990, our own version, You’ve Been Framed.
Imagine and awe and bewilderment if someone had dug the new LEGRIA Mini from their pocket and said that in about 30 years from now this is what home camcorders will look like?
Yes you’ve guessed it Canon’s LEGRIA Mini is small. Although it’s not just the camcorder’s minute size that would cause the home video-infatuated consumerists of the 80s’ eyes to bulge in wonderment, but also its innovative design. Breaking away from the conventional design of the camcorder, the LEGRIA Mini’s built-in stand creates hands-free and flexible recording, enabling users to get in front of the camera themselves and participate in their videos – Perfect for those directors wanting to have a cameo role in their own video!
It has to be said that one of the most common home video mishaps is amateur video makers’ almost collective tendency to unwittingly crop off half of the action when filming. The LEGRIA Mini’s ultra-wide angle f/2.8 lens, which can capture stills at a 170 degree angle and video in full HD at 160, will hopefully eradicate the inelegance and embarrassment of showing a video when half of the action is out of shot. ‘Conventional’ recording is also achievable by tapping the screen to reduce the field of view to a 71 degree angle.
Different shooting options are available to the discerning LEGRIA cameraman by either flipping the LCD touchscreen out to the subject side or to the rear side. With a rotation switch system embedded into the camera, you need not worry that you’ll be displaying images upside down as the camera automatically puts the image the right way up.
Canon has always been at the forefront of image quality and combining a Canon-engineered high-sensitivity back-illuminated ½.3 inch CMOS sensor with an advanced DIGIC DV 4 processing platform for reduced noise, the LEGRIA Mini certainly promises to maintain Canon’s reputation for quality.
With the extraordinary rise of social media, sharing videos is a popular pastime, to say the least. With built-in Wi-Fi LEGRIA Mini users can share their creations until their heart’s content. Though not just on the social channels might we add, as the camera’s Remote Browser feature enables vids and images to be shared on other devices, such as tablets and monitors.
To conclude, the LEGRIA Mini certainly looks like a miniscule device just crying out to be picked up and played with and being made by Canon, we don’t doubt that its functionalities will be as impressive as its exterior. We’ll have to wait until mid-September though to be able to get our hands on one. Perhaps by then we’ll have some indication of the price.