Wednesday, September 08, 2010

iOS4 and HDR photography

Apple Releases iOS 4.1 for iPhone and iPod Touch: "Right on schedule, Apple has released iOS 4.1 for the iPhone and iPod touch. The update, known as Build 8B117 and available for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and second- and third-generation iPod touch models, brings several new featu..."

The feature I'm most excited about is HDR photography. I just returned from a beautiful Maine labor day weekend hiking/climbing in Acadia National Park, boating on a 100 year old schooner, and though I brought my old SLR, I did all my photographs on my iPhone, and I don't think my photos suffered too much.

Partly since my SLR was the 1st consumer dSLR on the market so is almost 10 years old, but also as the fstopper blog shows, an iPhone can take professional photos so long as you have the right lighting, but also, I'm excited with the idea that in the near future, camera upgrades will be primarily based on software rather than hardware, (see this Tech Review article). That should allow much faster innovation.

HDR represents such an innovation. For those who don't know, HDR stands for high dynamic range. Our eyes have a very high dynamic range relative to a camera. Meaning when we are indoors and look out a window, our eyes can see details both in the relatively dark room and in the bright outside at the same time. A camera has to choose.

iPhone4.1 HDR from my office:

One typical sign of amateur photography is a failure to take this into account, for example when a person's face is in shadow (and pitch black) when photographed against a sunny landscape.

One of the advantages of a dSLR over a point and shoot is that it gives you an extra stop or two of dynamic range. But HDR can go far further.

In recent years HDR techniques have made up for this deficiency by having you take several photos and then merging them afterwards. The iPhone apparently now does this automatically.

One thing I did miss this weekend is the polarizer filter I have on my SLR which R- took advantage of, but maybe a future digital tool will make up for it.

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