September News Mixer: 32 Float, Nik, Canon and Apple

Another month went by with some interesting HDR gossip. Some of them we talked about before, some are still up in the clouds, some are rather surprising.

 

32 Float is shipping

Unified Color's new 32 Float is awesome, it will add more HDR features to your Photoshop CS3/4 than an update to CS5 will ever do. It's exactly the same interface and workflow like HDR Expose, just running as plugin inside Photoshop. The advantages are:

  • tighter workflow integration
  • mix different styles by tonemapping layers
  • use Photoshop's HDR Merge function

Download the 30-day demo to see for yourself.

 

Nik Software is getting serious

In the meantime Nik Software is blowing the hype whistle for their own Photoshop plugin called HDR Efex Pro. The new website shows a promo video with pretty high production value, and you can sign up for a demo webinar. Nik HDR efex is still two months away from release, it will have a preset system and really cool targeted adjustments with Nik's infamous Control Points. Here is a recording of an earlier webcast, if you really want to know.

 

Canon announces 8 - 15 mm Fisheye Zoom L-Lens

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Big news for panoramic photographers who want to keep their camera bag lean and their setup versatile. Canon's new Fisheye Zoom Lens will allow circular shooting for a quick 3-way pano shoot as well as fullframe shooting for higher resolution 6-way panoramas. Plus all the in-betweens. Currently only the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye is the only lens that comes close, expectations are high that Canon's L-glass will deliver better optical performance.

The Canon 8-15mm Fisheye is announced for the first quarter of 2011 and the rumored price is $1500.

Further reference: Official Canon Product Page, some full-res example shots by Joergen Geerds, a zoom movie showing the FOV range by Canon Europe, and a vivid discussion in the Panorama Community.

 

Canon G12 gets point-n-shoot HDR mode

The rumormill has spit out a feature sheet of the upcoming Canon G12, mentioning fully automatic HDR generation via 3-frame bracketing. Mind you, that this won't result in an HDR image you can tonemap al gusto, but rather in an JPEG where the camera has done all the creative work for you. Just like the Fuji EXR models and several other pocket cameras do it. Useful? Maybe. Real HDR? Hardly.

See, the problem with these dumbed-down HDR modes is that they give HDR a bad reputation. If I have to read on Wired.com a witty statement like this, the damage is already done.

Other “highlights” include in-camera HDR for making hideous, over-colored tone-mapped photos by combining three images.

 

Apple iDevices will also have an HDR shooting mode

There's no better indication of mainstream compatibility than having a topic featured in a keynote from Steve Jobs. Around 7:00 minutes into the recording, Jobs reveals that the Camera App in iOS 4.1 will have an HDR mode out of the box. That affects iPhones and iPods, but more so several 3rd party app developers that have previously published dedicated HDR apps.

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We'll have to see how this turns out, Mr. Jobs already mentioned automatic 3-frame bracketing and instant processing. Highly unlikely that you will get access to a 32-bit file, in fact I suspect a frame blending algorithm ala Enfuse behind. Jobs drops a hint that at least the center exposure is saved separately from the merged result, but it's unclear if the full bracketing sequence will be accessible for re-processing.


Well, it is what it is. I would rather see Apple and Canon concentrate on features for the power HDR users who made HDR so popular in the first place, than catering to the mob. Where is the firmware update that enables extra-wide bracketing on Canon SLRs? When can we get the CoreImage bug fixed that cripples EXR support in Snow Leopard? Your toys are neat, but we demand power tools.


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