Casio EX-Z300′s Make-Up Mode

Casio’s announcement of additions to the Exilim line include the EX-Z300, as well as the EX-Z19, EX-Z85 and EX-Z250. The EX-Z300 is a 10.1 megapixel model with a 3-inch LCD display, along with a special feature: a “Make-Up” mode. This mode works like the cloning tool in Photoshop does: it blurs and smooths blemishes in the camera when you take a picture.

Samsung offers a similar mode on one of their newer compact cameras, called Picture Perfect. It seems likely that this sort of in-camera airbrushing will become popular, at least in consumer cameras. After all, who doesn’t want to look their best?

Photosynth Leaves Beta

As of this morning, Microsoft’s Live Labs project, Photosynth, is out of beta. The application / browser plugin combination allows you to stitch standard photos into 3-D panoramas.

Currently, Photosynth is Windows only — if you aren’t a Windows XP or Vista user, you’ll have to wait to get your photo-stitching fix. Photosynth uses a desktop application for creating your own ‘synths,’ and a browser plugin to see them online, if you choose to upload your work. All synths are public.

I’d recommend trying out Photosynth with only a few photos at first — it can take quite a bit of time to build a complex synth, though the end result is worth it.

We covered a new Photosynth demo at the beginning of the month.

Photographers Face Paranoia in UK

The Telegraph has an article this week about the paranoia that even casual photographers are facing in the UK. Photographers have been chased down by police for taking photographs while in a town centre. The writer behind the article, Sam Delaney, described his own experience sitting in a coffee shop while simply taking a look at a camera he had borrowed:

As I sit familiarising myself with this new toy, I sense suspicious glances from the people sitting beside me. I tell myself I’m probably just imagining it. I hold the camera up to my face, point the lens through the window at the busy street outside and peer through the viewfinder. The first thing I see is a large, bearded, angry-looking middle-aged man thrusting two fingers in a V-sign at me.

His story gets better. Delaney left the coffee shop, hung the camera around his neck and walked towards some nearby stores. The lens cap was on, but a security guard immediately homed in on Delaney and announces that photographing the area is prohibited. The guard insisted that Delaney put away the camera or leave.

There are so many incidents these days when photographers are assumed to be up to no good, simply because they’re taking photographs. How did photography become a crime?

A Zoom Lens For Your iPhone

If you have an iPhone 3G and aren’t satisfied with its photography abilities, there’s now something of a solution on the market. Brando, primarily a company catering to mobile needs, is selling a zoom lens for the iPhone. They’re calling it a phone telescope, saying that it’s capable of 6x zoom, although more precise specifications don’t seem to be available.

Brando’s selling the lenses for $19.00. It’s approximately six inches long and is mounted to a crystal case that your iPhone slides into. Despite Brando’s name for the device, it does not appar to telescope.

Despite the fact that other cell phones have the same camera quandries as the iPhone, I don’t think we’ll be seeing lenses for other phones.

Newsweek Provides Glimpse Into Olympic Photogrophy

Officially, Newsweek’s Visions of China photo blog focuses on the athletes and events of the Beijing Olympics. But there are a few hidden gems that show off all the hard work that goes into the photos making it into Newsweek and other publications.

Two posts have particularly stood out so far: “Preparing for the Biggest Organized Event of Them All” and “More Than a Ten Hour Wait for an Event That Lasts Less Than 10 Seconds.”

Ever wondered what equipment a Newsweek photographer takes to the Olympics? In the first post, Vincent Laforet describes his equipment and how he packs it. What about the set up for photographing an event like the men’s 100 meter race and the problems photographers are running into in Beijing? Laforet covers all that in the second. These two posts provide a lot of insight into all the work that goes into photographing the Olympics, and there are plenty of great photos throughout the rest of the blog.

EISA Announces Award Winners

The European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) just published their picks for the 2008-2009 Award Winners, including for the Photo category. The EISA’s choices:

Photographer’s Caluculator on the iPhone

If you have an iPhone, PhotoCalc may provide you with a handful of photographer’s tools without having to carry around any reference materials. The iPhone application from Adair Systems offers a whole list of calculators for both professional and hobbyist photographers, as well as several reference documents that a photographer might need to consult on the job.

The calculators include the following:

  • Exposure Reciprocation
  • Depth of Field and Hyper-focal Distance
  • Flash Exposure
  • Sunrise/sunset/solar noon

You can configure PhotoCalc to use English or metric units as well as half or third stops.

PhotoCalc is priced at $3, not bad for what looks like an excellent reference tool that happens to fit in your pocket.

Photoree: Bookmarking Reaches Images

You have StumbleUpon for websites and Last.fm for music, but the choices for bookmarking and recommending photos are much slimmer. Photoree is an opportunity to see thousands of photographs — to see what images other photographers are creating.

The system is very simple: just like with other recommendation sites, you create a profile and note a few photos that you like from the Photoree colection. From there, Photoree recommends photos that match your taste. You can browse through photos, create your own personal collection and even use the Creative Commons images that you find through the site.

Photoree has also simplified sharing photos. While there are quite a few sites dedicated to sharing photos you’ve taken with your friends and family, there are few options for passing along a photo someone else took but that you enjoy. Your options are pretty much limited to pasty an unwieldy URL into an email. Photoree offers options for sharing photos easily with your contacts.

Shutterfly’s New Share Sites

Shutterfly has added to its photo sharing and printing services by launching Share Sites. Share Sites provides users with a personalized web site to share photos with friends and family — a virtual photo album.

Share Sites offers up better designs than similar sites have offered in the past, as well as a very simple user interface. Someone with very little online experience can navigate these photo albums, if not create one themselves. With Share Sites, Shutterfly is not precisely competing with Flickr or Photobucket. Instead, their efforts compete with Kodak and Snapfish.

Despite the ease of use, Share Sites does have some potential for more advanced users — especially those who often work with clients, friends and family who aren’t up to speed with online photo options.

Flickr Makes Geotagging Easier

Flickr has made it easier for photographers to geotag images uploaded to the photo-sharing site. If you take a look at your photos on Flickr, there is a new option in the Additional Information section, labeled “Add to your map.”

Click on that link and you can mark where your photo was taken on a map, direct from Yahoo! Maps. Not my first choice on mapping options, but considering Yahoo! owns both, it isn’t a surprise. It looks like there is an element of feedback from the photos folks tag on Flickr and Yahoo! Maps. According to the Flickr blog:

As the odds are you know more about your local neighborhoods than we
do, when you edit a location on the pop-up map you can also see other
nearby options and choose one. Over time if everyone continuously tells
us we’ve got somewhere wrong, we can feed it back into the system and
update it for everyone else.