Camera Raw 5.07 update for Mac OS

Another Camera Raw update has snuck out in the silent system updates. If you have your software update settings to update automatically, you probably have this already, but if not it's available now in the Mac Appstore update.

The update, version 5.07 adds support for just two cameras:

  • Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
  • Nikon D810

The update adds support for these cameras to Aperture, iPhoto and other applications that rely on the system's Camera Raw architecture.

Adobe Releases Photoshop Elements 13 and Premiere Elements 13

New Versions of Adobe's Consumer Photo and Video Editinng Apps

elements13.jpg

Adobe today has announced upgrades for its consumer photo editing application Photoshop Elements, and its consumer video editing software, Premiere Elements, bringing both versions to 13.

Photoshop Elements 13

Some of the new features listed for Photoshop Elements 13 include:

  • Tool for creating Facebook profile and cover photos. Allows you to combine graphics and text in an optimised template for \Facebook Profiles
  • Photo Merge Compose: Allows you to create photo remixes and mashups by pulling something out of one photo into another, and blend the colour and lighting for a realistic-looking scene.
  • Intelligent crop tool - Gives you variations of potential crops and lets you pick the one you want
  • Effects Variations - One click variations for applying effects

Premiere Elements 13

New features include the ability to add video in titles, improved video stabilisation. Favourite Moments is a new feature in which the user marks the best spots in a video, and Premiere Elements then automatically assembled into a movie. Another feature called "Video Story" applies a theme to your videos, adding transitions and music to your assembled clips

Photoshop Elements 13 and Premiere Elements 13 are available separately, direct from Adobe's website for $99.99 individually, or as a bundle for $149.99. Existing users can upgrade for $79.99 or $119.99 for the bundle.

Capture One Pro 8 Released

A First Look At Capture One Pro 8

Last week Phase One released an update to their powerful raw processing Application, Capture One. Capture One Pro 8 has lots of new features and is a fairly large upgrade to the software. I've been trying it over the last few days, and so far I'm liking what I see. I'll have a detailed review in a little while (as I like to have time to fully get to know a piece of software before reviewing it) but in the mean time I thought I'd share a first look and some initial impressions.

Capture One Pro as an Aperture Alternative

Since Apple announced that Aperture is to be discontinued many people have written to me suggesting Capture One as an Aperture alternative, especially those who don't like Adobe or Lightroom. There's no doubt that Capture One is certainly capable. It's a fully featured raw converter that also has some content management and library management built in. On the image processing front it has all of Aperture's features and more. Phase One has certainly taken notice of the situation and the opportunity too, because the latest version has added the ability to import an Aperture Library.

I'm working on a long article looking at Capture one as an option for Aperture Users, but in the mean time, for those who are considering it, they're certainly listening.

New Features

There are lots of new features in Capture One 8. Here are some of the highlights that the company mentions in it's literature, and my initial impressions.

  1. High Dynamic Range - Before you get too excited, this isn't the ability to do multi shot HDR blending and conversion within the software. It's basically a change in the highlight and shadow recovery algorithms. It works pretty well in practice, and is similar in operation to Lightroom's
  2. Repair Layers - These are new cloning and healing options. They work using the same interface as Capture One's previous layer system, but add support for cloning and healing
  3. Film Grain - Does what it says on the tin. There's a nice range of options here too, and the look is quite natural and pleasing.
  4. Keystone Correction - I haven't tried this yet, but it seems to be the same functionality as Lightroom's upright tool
  5. Speed - They claim that speed has been improved and they're not exaggerating. It's a much faster application now in 8 than it was in 7. The speed difference really is noticeable.
  6. Keywords - they've changed the interface for managing keywords, and keywords now have their own dedicated tool.
  7. Application Scripting - The Applescript library has been extended to offer more control
  8. Clarity - The new version now has 4 modes of clarity 'Classic', ‘Neutral’ 'Punch' and the new 'Natural'. Natural Clarity gives your images that extra punch while still looking natural and pleasing.
  9. Automatic Lens Correction. They've added profiling and automatic correction for supported lenses
  10. Web Contact Sheets - Lets you create a contact sheet on a web page.

That's most of the major new features, but there's lots of other little tweaks too. If you're an existing Capture One Pro user it's certainly worth the upgrade. If you're considering it they have a pretty generous 60 day trial available, and it's fully functional within that.

There are a few other important changes that have come with version 8 too, that aren't directly related to the software. The first is that Capture One Express is no longer available. From the Q&A

We do not sell Capture One Express licenses anymore. For users who already own licenses for an earlier version of Capture One Express, we have a special upgrade price for Capture One Pro 8.

The second big announcement is that they're now doing a subscription version too. I can hear the groaning already. The subscription price is €12 a month, but they're offering it at €8 per month at the moment. I know a lot of people aren't overly fond of the subscription idea, but at least they're keeping both options open (I bought the upgrade rather than a subscription by the way!)

Anyway, I'll try and get a full review up in a few weeks, and a specific take on it for Aperture users who are considering a cross grade.


VSCO Cam Updated for iOS 8

App gets manual camera controls and sharing extensions

My absolute favourite iOS photography app for OS is VSCO Cam from Visual Supply company. Today I opened the app store to see an update queued for VSCO cam, and to my joy, the list of new features includes iOS8's new manual camera controls. 

The update adds support for manual control of ISO, Shutter Speed, Exposure Compensation and White Balance. It took a second to figure out how they work, but it's pretty easy to discover once you play around with it for a little while. What is very interesting is the ability to manually control shutter speed. this makes it possible, and easy to do long exposures on the iPhone. 

The app also gets access to the new share extensions in iOS 8 and you can now send images to any service or app that supports share extension. The update is available now in the App store. 

Incidentally, If you haven't used VSCO Cam before I wrote a piece about VSCO Cam and its companion online sharing service VSCO grid on my photography blog a while ago.

iOS 8 For Photographers

A First Look at some of the New Camera and Photos features in iOS 8

With iOS 8 hitting the upgrade servers today, I thought that I would take a moment to give a quick overview of some of the new photography related features in this new version Apple's mobile operating system. I've been using the beta version of iOS8 for a few months now, and in that time I've grown used to the new settings and controls, and there are even one or two things that have become invaluable. What's new in iOS 8 can be broken down into three main areas. The Camera, The Photos App, and behind the scenes.

The Camera

There are a few big improvements to the main camera app in iOS 8 that bear mentioning. The first is exposure compensation. Finally you can adjust the exposure of the shot if the scene is too bright or dark, without having to resort to some sort of auto exposure locking jujitsu to get the exposure right.

To use the controls you simply tap on the focus square and a little sun icon will appear. Now you drag up or down to increase or decrease the exposure. It's a little tricky at first, but you get used to it. This little addition actually makes a huge difference in your iPhone photography. It makes it so much easier to get correctly exposed shots.

 

Behind the scenes, the camera API apparently has opened up manual control of the camera settings to third party apps, including exposure and white balance, so hopefully before long we'll start to see some innovative third party apps taking full advantage of this.

The other big addition to the camera in iOS 8 is a timelapse function. In typical Apple fashion it's quite minimalist in its implementation. You don't really have any control over the interval, at least that I was able to find. To use the feature you simply slide the camera controls to the right till you reveal the timelapse option, and then press the record button to start. When you're finished it will process the results into a video file. It's pretty straight forward. Here's an example of a timelapse that I made out the window of my hotel in Brussels during the summer.

The Photos App

The Photos app on iOS sees the bigger round of improvements. There are all new controls for processing your image, including some clever semi-automatic options.

When you choose to edit an image, the surrounding screen switches from white to black and you get the editing controls. At the top of the screen is a magic wand that applies automatic corrections. At the bottom of the screen, from left to right, the controls are: cancel, crop, filters, editing controls, and done. Cancel and Done are pretty obvious.

The crop tool gives you controls for cropping and straightening your image as well as rotating. Clicking on the button on the bottom left gives you a list of common aspect ratios. Unfortunately, there's no option for a custom aspect ratio.

The filters tab gives you a set of Instagram style filters. I've been using the beta for so long now, I can't remember what the previous ones were, so I'm not going to concentrate on this section too much.

The third button gives you access to the new adjustment controls. There are three main groups of controls: Light, Colour and B&W (Black and White). Called "Smart Adjustments", tapping on one of these controls gives you the intelligent, semiautomatic slider for that option. For example, tapping "Light" will give you a light slider. Drag it one way to increase exposure and the other to decrease. It's not just adjusting exposure however, it's also adjusting highlights, shadows, brightness contrast and black point, all in a clever way, that leaves you with just one control to deal with. If you want to, you can tap on the arrow beside a smart adjustment, for example "Light", to give you the full set of options which you can tweak manually. The same applies to colour and black and white. When you are using a particular control you can swipe up and down on the slider to move to the next or previous slider without having to go back out to the main controls and back in again.

Once you've finished processing your image, you can click done to save your edits. Edits are non-destructive, and you can go back in at any time and continue editing. You can also see your original, unedited image at any time by tapping on the image itself, and you can go back to the unedited image by tapping on the revert control that appears when you go to re-edit an image that you've made adjustments to.

Overall, the new editing functions are a welcome addition, and Apple appears to have integrated most of what was in the original iPhoto for iOS app. To be honest, I don't edit my photos that much on my iPhone anyway, but there have been times when the new controls have come in handy.

Behind the scenes

There are a couple of more important additions to the Photos app, and the underlying architecture that won't really become apparent until third party apps are shipping with iOS 8 support. The new APIs in iOS 8 allow for a few important changes to the way third party apps integrate with your camera roll.

The first is extensions, which was discussed during the WWDC keynote. Extensions will give you two new options in iOS 8. The first will allow you to send an image directly to a third party app, and the second will allow a third party app to insert controls and functionality into the photos app. During the beta period there were no apps available with this functionality, so I could test this out. I'll revisit this once there are third party apps out there supporting extensions

Another behind the scenes change, which got less fanfare, but is still a pretty big deal is the fact that third party apps can now access the camera roll directly, with your permission. In the past apps would have to import images from the camera roll and then export them back. In iOS 8 they can now write directly to the camera roll, so hopefully that means we wont end up with lots of little separate libraries in each of the different apps that we use.

iCloud Photos

The other headline feature of iOS 8 when it comes to photos is the iCloud features. With iOS 8 Apple gives you the option to store all your photos in the cloud, and access them across all your devices. Currently, as I'm writing this, this feature is in beta, and I only have iOS 8 on one device, so I haven't been able to test it. There doesn't seem to be any way to access the iCloud photo library via the mac yet, even in Yosemite. This may change closer to the release of Yosemite, but for now I haven't been able to test this properly.

Apple does give you the option to still use photo stream in conjunction with the new iCloud option, allowing you to still sync to Aperture and iPhoto for the time being. To enable this you need to go to Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and turn on "My Photo Stream"

 

Conclusion

There's some nice new features for Photographers in iOS 8 but the best is probably still yet to come. The real benefit of the changes Apple has made to the underlying architecture won't become fully apparent until third party apps start taking advantage, and when they do, I suspect that iOS 8 will see quite a renaissance when it comes to smartphone photography apps.