Voigtlander announces 3 new native E-mount lenses →

October 09, 2015 |

Voigtlander today announced three new native E-mount lenses: the 10mm f/5.6 Hyper Wide Heliar, 12mm f/5.6 Ultra Wide Heliar, and 15mm f/4.5 Super Wide Heliar.

The 10mm lens is the first ever Full Frame lens in that focal length. As for the other two lenses, this is what Mathieu Gasquet wrote over at MirrorLessons:

The 12mm and 15mm lenses are based on the current VM versions. What’s new is that these E-Mount lenses will have electronic contacts so that the camera will be able to record exif data, including the focal length. Also, when using the focus ring, you can automatically activate the focus magnifier assist as you can do with the Zeiss Loxia lenses. Since the lenses will also communicate information such as the focusing distance, the A7 mark II series should be able to use 5 axis sensor stabilisation instead of only 3 axis.

All three lenses look great, although personally, I’m not really interested in any of them. They’re just too wide for my current needs.

A more important thing to note, however, is what this represents: yet another historical advantage of DSLRs — a wealth of high quality and affordable 3rd-party lenses — going out the window.

It was only a matter of time before traditional 3rd-party lens makers like Voigtlander, Sigma and Tamron started doing native E-mount versions of their lenses. Voigtlander has been the first to market, but I’m willing to bet both Sigma and Tamron will follow suit sooner than you think.

With every passing month and year, the list of reasons to buy a DSLR over a mirrorless camera keeps getting shorter.

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Marco Arment releases Overcast 2 →

October 09, 2015 |

Great news from Marco:

After a year of work, Overcast 2 is now available as a free update for everyone. It’s mostly a major under-the-hood improvement, with relatively few user-facing changes. But they’re pretty good, I think.

And now, all features are free, and I’m trying a new business model.

Overcast 2 adds some really awesome features like streaming, which will allow you to start playing an episode immediately, instead of having to wait for it to fully download to your device. I’ve been looking forward to this feature ever since Overcast was first released, and I can’t wait to try it out.

As for the new business model, Marco is now offering a $1 monthly patronage option within the app:

If only 5% of customers become monthly patrons, Overcast will match its previous revenue.

Patrons may get special features in the future if I can’t afford to offer something to everyone (due to hosting costs, etc.), but today, patronage is simply that: supporting Overcast directly, because you want to. And if you’d rather not, no hard feelings.

Simple, easy, and respectful towards his customers. In other words, quintessentially Marco. I’m sold.

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NASA Apollo images: exposure & color corrected →

October 08, 2015 |

Fantastic work by Matthew Gore over at Light & Matter. He took some of the recently released images of the Apollo space program and “fixed” them:

Some of the images are already iconic, but the vast majority of them are new to me, and I’ve now spent countless hours enthralled by them. Perhaps it’s the years that I spent processing and gazing at rolls of negatives, but there’s something about looking at a dozen mediocre images… some in focus, some poorly framed, others under-exposed, some with motion blur… that increases the impact and brings home the reality of all of them.

Unfortunately, the scans have not been corrected for color and exposure, so they tend to be flat and tinted. For those of you who like the Instagram-filter look, they’re just fine; it does add a bit of vintage charm. My instinct, though, is to repair them… to try to give them them accurate color and the crispness of a full-tonal range.

The difference an accurate white balance makes is striking; I much prefer the corrected images.

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Microsoft has warmed Vlad Savov’s cold cynical heart with hot new hardware →

October 07, 2015 |

Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge:

The very concept of a Microsoft hardware event still feels weird to me. Software constitutes half of Microsoft’s name and most of its DNA, and yet today we were treated to a 110-minute presentation showing off Microsoft’s hardware-engineering acumen. And the whole thing was so breathlessly exciting that it felt more like 110 seconds. The most inspiring, intriguing, and frankly irresistible new hardware today is coming from Microsoft.

No hyperbole here whatsoever. But wait, there’s more:

Having already shown us the software part of its new strategy with Windows 10, Microsoft today completed the equation with delightfully attractive new hardware. It has rekindled my excitement for new devices, at the tail end of a year where innovation seemed to be either lacking or all too predictable. Today, Microsoft surprised, wowed, and delighted. It generated passion where there once was pessimism. Kudos!

I get it, Microsoft’s event was exciting, and the new products they announced look polished and well designed. The Surface Book, in particular, is an interesting take on the tablet/laptop duality, and it may prove to be a very successful product for Microsoft. But really, Savov’s level of excitement in this piece is just too much for me.

I could be wrong, but this feels a heck of a lot like he’s trying very hard to create buzz, rather than being genuinely excited about what he’s seen.

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Disney artists go hands-on with upcoming iPad Pro and Apple Pencil →

October 07, 2015 |

Juli Clover, over at MacRumors:

Disney Story Artist Jeff Ranjo shared a Periscope that demonstrates the iPad Pro in action, and several images of the Disney team’s drawings were shared on Twitter. The Disney team was using a beta version of popular drawing app Procreate, which has been updated to work with the iPad Pro, and an iPad Pro version of Paper by Fiftythree was also shown off.

That was cool to watch, but I’m not sure how representative it is of the iPad Pro’s capabilities in the hands of regular humans. I mean, those guys are so incredibly talented I’m sure they could draw just as well with something as crude as a piece of paper and a simple pencil.

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Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle on the controversy over ‘Steve Jobs’ →

October 07, 2015 |

Great interview with the writer and director of the upcoming movie ‘Steve Jobs’:

Sorkin: Mrs. Jobs, Tim Cook, Bill Campbell—they have not seen the movie and have not read the screenplay. I don’t begrudge Laurene Jobs any of what she’s feeling right now, especially on the anniversary of her husband’s death. From what I’ve read that they’re assuming of what’s in the movie, that it’s a hit job, I think if they do see the movie they’ll be pleasantly surprised. But I can’t emphasize this enough: They haven’t seen the movie.

Boyle: You respect the personal grief. This guy is one of the most important figures in our lives, and these people [tech executives], I’m afraid, they have to be written about. They have to be examined. There will be many, many more films made about them. The world is changing beyond recognition. Apple is pretty good on issues like data and privacy, but we have to examine these people in a big political way or in a personal way, like this film tries to do.

Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve’s wife, recently voiced her concerns about the movie, stating that “any movie based on [Walter Isaacson’s] book could not possibly be accurate”. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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How focal length affects how you see →

October 06, 2015 |

Interesting thought from John Bosley:

Your choice of focal length will affect what you see. Would you agree with that? What if I also said that your choice of focal length will affect how you see? That’s a whole different story, now isn’t it? Instead of discussing how focal length affects your view when you look into the viewfinder, I want to talk about how focal length can affect how you look at everything around you before you ever even see it in the viewfinder.

He goes on to make an excellent point. Well worth a read.

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Europe’s highest court strikes down Safe Harbour data sharing between EU and US →

October 06, 2015 |

Landmark ruling today by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Sebastian Anthony, writing for Ars Technica:

According to an earlier CJEU statement (PDF), “the access enjoyed by the United States intelligence services to the transferred data constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life and the right to protection of personal data, which are guaranteed by the [Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU].” Another issue, according to the Advocate General, was “the inability of citizens of the EU to be heard on the question of the surveillance and interception of their data in the United States,” which therefore amounts to “an interference with the right of EU citizens to an effective remedy, protected by the Charter.”

Because the CJEU was ruling on an issue in Ireland, the Irish court is expected to make its own judgement shortly. It is likely that the Irish court will side with the CJEU. When that happens, one of two things will need to happen: Facebook, and many other US companies with Irish subsidiaries, will need to keep European data within the EU; or the US will need to provide real privacy protection for EU data when it flows back to the US. As the latter is unlikely due to pressure from the NSA and other intelligence agencies, we suspect most US companies will opt for the former.

I’m glad to see the EU stepping up to protect the privacy of its citizens.

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