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End of life for Denoise Projects, and special offer

18 Jul

The imaging software industry is in motion. While companies like Serif (makers of Affinity-branded software) and Macphun are making a dash from the Mac to the Windows platform, and following Google’s recent abandonment of the Google Nik Collection of plug-in and stand-alone applications for tasks such as black and white conversion, colour adjustment, film simulation, sharpening and denoising, another applicant for this market is now showing signs of slowing down.

Like Google, Macphun and others, German publishing house Franzis also develops a variety of tools in its “Projects” series for the above tasks, each usually sold separately. Among them are tools for HDR and focus stacking, and Franzis also develops and sells other imaging software not branded as “Projects”, and is the German distributor of Silkypix raw processing software.

Franzis has now announced discontinuing Denoise Projects Professional, a specialised program and plug-in for removing digital image noise. It is unclear if other discontinuations will follow.

According to the publisher, Denoise Projects automatically detects and removes “all” seven types of noise. Other Franzis Projects products work with a high floating point bitrate, and the tech specs for Denoise Projects imply that it requires 32 bit GPU acceleration, while the FAQ mentions it can save 32 bit TIFF. It was not explicitly stated whether 32 bit floating point processing is used internally.

Those interested can find a 70% off offer here.

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$700 less: Nikon D7500 is specced-down D500

12 Apr

For 700 Dollars less than a D500, Nikon has introduced the D7500 without the advanced autofocus module and additional card slot. However, microfocus adjustment using Live View is available. The maximum continuous shooting rate is 8 frames per second, and buffer depth is a reported 50 raw files, with no information on RAW+ buffer depth or buffer clearing times. (A fast-clearing buffer is better than a deep one!)

ZPR-NIKON-D7500-FRONT

The Nikon D7500 (Nikon promotional image)

At 20 megapixels, the D7500’s resolution is down from the D7200’s 24 megapixels, and instead matches the D500. Nikon claims that weather sealing has been improved. The body is also a little less beefy than the D500, and very similar in size to the D7200, although small design changes have been made:

Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 16.02.02edit2

Size comparison with related models

To get an impression of the image quality to be expected, take a look at my previous articles:

Pentax KP, affordable DSLR for low light

28 Jan

Ricoh just took the wraps off the Pentax KP, a rather compact magnesium alloy body DSLR with a 5-stop, 5 axis stabilisation system and ISO 819,200. The body is not particularly beautiful, but inside it waits a noise reduction co-processor that, by first appearances, rivals DxO’s PRIME software, but acts instantaneously. (If you’ve used DxO’s engine, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

05_kp_black_2040

The Pentax KP
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Technical expose:High ISO images are noisier on average than low ISO ones. The noise cannot be neatly compressed, increases file size and slows down the process of writing files to storage (SD card in most cases). This can affect frame rates. In order to keep the frame rate up, Pentax used to apply noise reduction in RAW from ISO 3200 (several models including at least the K-5, K-5 II, K-5 IIs, K-30 and K-50). This was not configurable and led to mushy images that did not respond well to further noise reduction using other methods. So the way to work with these cameras was to underexpose ISO 1600 by up to three stops, depending on your need – not the best idea if you want to maximise colour tonality, but it got the job done.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-32-51

Where the magic happens:
the accelerator unit.
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

But from samples I’ve seen, the new co-processor, dubbed in the latest press release a “state-of-the-art accelerator unit”, renders such concerns obsolete. In the samples, ISO 6400 looks rather clean, and I’m curious to take a closer look at ISO 12,800. Several in the Pentax community have commented that they might delay their entry into full frame based on this camera’s performance, so the pressure is on for Pentax to bring the accelerator unit and high ISO performance to an updated K-1 full frame camera.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-37-31

Pure edge detection
in Live View
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Launch price for the Pentax KP is going to be 1100 Euros/Dollars; the Pentax K-70 with similar performance up to ISO 102,400 (also has accelerator unit) is about 400 Euros/Dollars cheaper.

08_kp_silver_2040

Display articulation
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Conclusion: The Pentax KP’s combination of five stops of stabilisation with state-of-the-art in-camera noise reduction will save you money on bodies, lenses, and software, as Pentax leapfrogs the competition. Bring on the night!

PS: Check out the separately posted ISO 819,200 sample image to see what it can do!

PPS: Also check out this comparison of ISO 102,400 after noise reduction in the KP and K-70.

Low light photography? Affordable? Look no further!

27 Jan

Ricoh just took the wraps off the Pentax KP, a rather compact magnesium alloy body DSLR with a 5-stop, 5 axis stabilisation system and ISO 819,200. The body is not particularly beautiful, but inside it waits a noise reduction co-processor that, by first appearances, rivals DxO’s PRIME software, but acts instantaneously. (If you’ve used DxO’s engine, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

05_kp_black_2040

The Pentax KP
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Technical expose:High ISO images are noisier on average than low ISO ones. The noise cannot be neatly compressed, increases file size and slows down the process of writing files to storage (SD card in most cases). This can affect frame rates. In order to keep the frame rate up, Pentax used to apply noise reduction in RAW from ISO 3200 (several models including at least the K-5, K-5 II, K-5 IIs, K-30 and K-50). This was not configurable and led to mushy images that did not respond well to further noise reduction using other methods. So the way to work with these cameras was to underexpose ISO 1600 by up to three stops, depending on your need – not the best idea if you want to maximise colour tonality, but it got the job done.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-32-51

Where the magic happens:
the accelerator unit.
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

But from samples I’ve seen, the new co-processor, dubbed in the latest press release a “state-of-the-art accelerator unit”, renders such concerns obsolete. In the samples, ISO 6400 looks rather clean, and I’m curious to take a closer look at ISO 12,800. Several in the Pentax community have commented that they might delay their entry into full frame based on this camera’s performance, so the pressure is on for Pentax to bring the accelerator unit and high ISO performance to an updated K-1 full frame camera.

screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-12-37-31

Pure edge detection
in Live View
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Launch price for the Pentax KP is going to be 1100 Euros/Dollars; the Pentax K-70 with similar performance up to ISO 102,400 (also has accelerator unit) is about 400 Euros/Dollars cheaper.

08_kp_silver_2040

Display articulation
(Source: Ricoh promotional materials)

Conclusion: The Pentax KP’s combination of five stops of stabilisation with state-of-the-art in-camera noise reduction will save you money on bodies, lenses, and software, as Pentax leapfrogs the competition. Bring on the night!

PS: Check out the separately posted ISO 819,200 sample image to see what it can do!

What’s the deal with the Pentax K-70?

9 Jun
SLR camera with grey top plate, otherwise black and with a lens and lens hood, facing front.

Pentax K-70 in “silky silver” finish.

Ricoh have gone all-out with the introduction of the Pentax K-70, which includes not only weather sealing, a 24 megapixel sensor, 14 bit RAW and new noise suppression, but also pixel-shift resolution. So what distinguishes it from the 24 megapixel, 14 bit, pixel-shift K-3 II?

SLR camera with grey top plate and lens without hood, photographed facing the camera. Green LED illumination around shutter button indicates camera is switched on.

Pentax K-70 in “silky silver” finish.

The 1/6000s top shutter speed suggests that the K-70 retains the noisier shutter unit from the K-r lineage, and doesn’t have ultrasonic dust removal, which has been consistently reserved for the K-5 and K-3 product lines. The flip-side is that the K-70 should easily achieve the advertised 4.5 stops of stabilisation if the K-3 II can do so with its extra baggage.

If you don’t need GPS and AstroTracer, this camera will be an easy purchase to make for its advertised US $650 price tag.

Nikon D500 finally announced

5 Jan

After hopes and rumours, Nikon finally lifted the covers on the D500, successor to the D300S. Resolution will be 20.9 megapixels, buffer depth 200 RAW images – that’s 20 seconds’ worth at the 10fps maximum burst rate. Ruggedness is said to be comparable to the D810.

CX-6vwtVAAAk_r2

Presumed to be Nikon promotional image.

This may be the model that firmly establishes XQD memory cards as beyond niche, although an SD card slot is also provided. So rather than dual anything slots, the camera has one for XQD and one for SD, with no word yet on whether they can be jointly configured so that the SD card gets the JPEGs and the XQD the RAWs, say.

153 autofocus points and 4k video round off the primary feature list. In terms of operability, Nikon offers a tilting screen, built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and continuous Bluetooth tethering with a smart phone.

I would speculate that the sensor is an in-house development and manufactured by Renesas, as is the usual case when Nikon doesn’t want to walk the mainstream road of stock sensors from a third party like Sony or Toshiba. There is also discussion that the Bluetooth feature was pilfered from Samsung, whom we’re expecting, as per rumours, to shortly give a clearer idea of the business relationship they may have entered with Nikon.

With a price tag of US$2000 at launch, it might be a while before the Pentax K-3 stops being nicknamed the “Nikon D400”. Or before you’ll stop trawling eBay for a used D800 with its similar and competitive crop mode, or new D750 with ambitions to similarly be an action compatible camera (but needing bigger lenses).

As a personal comment, the large buffer really makes me feel that someone out there is listening, and fulfils my prediction from 16 months ago. Combined with the very fast write performance suggested by the inclusion of an XQD card slot, the buffer performance alone may justify the launch price, particularly for sports and wildlife shooters.

More details on Pentax’ retractable kit zoom lens

10 Feb

With the release of the Pentax K-S2, Pentax is also releasing a new kit zoom lens, the retractable HD Pentax DA 18-50mm f/4-5.6 DC WR RE. It’s a retractable lens that needs to be manually zoomed forward to its operating distance before you can use it. I suspect in actual operation, this will feel seamless to the user. In exchange, you get the world’s shortest DSLR zoom lens (when it’s stowed away in your bag):

combined

It starts at a sensible f/4, collapses to 1.5 inches (41mm), is weather-sealed, and claimed by Ricoh to be optically superior to its predecessor, the 18-55mm (AL II design) kit zoom. The filter thread is 58mm rather than the 52mm previously used by Pentax. This could be an indication that they are adjusting filter thread sizes on APS-C to be more in line with future full frame lenses. (Previously, 52mm was used on both the 18-55mm and 50-200mm lenses, which were sold together in a dual lens kit with some cameras; the 55-300mm which also exists in a DA-L plastic variant that is exclusive to such bundles (but only available in some localities), always used a 58mm thread.) The front element does not rotate when zooming or focusing. Also, contrary to some rumour, this is not a power zoom lens.

It has a “silent” DC focus motor and HD and SP coatings. Ricoh US customer service told me that the lens must be moved to its extended position manually using the zoom ring, no second motor involved, which presumably helps with both the shortness and longevity of the lens. So everything about this lens is “silent” to the extent that manual operation and DC motors are.