Category: Digital Photography

Photos not the right way up on your TV?

Media contents in Dropbox folder available on DLNA-capable Samsung smart TV

Pictures that are copied in using Windows Explorer may not always appear the right way up

A problem that can surface with some photos that you view using your Smart TV, set-top device or similar equipment is that they don’t appear the right way up.

It happens more so with those pictures that come in from an email whether as attachments or downloadable links, or from a cloud-storage service. Similarly it also happens if you transfer the pictures from your device to your computer using the operating-system’s file manager i.e. Windows / File Explorer or MacOS Finder by using the file-copy procedure. This latter process is something most of us do when we want to make digital pictures that we took at someone’s location available on their computer.

These cameras record information about the photo orientation as part of the picture file when you click the shutter

The main problem is that today’s cameras and mobile devices record the orientation of the photo in the file that represents the image as part of machine-readable EXIF metadata. Most of the file managers recognise this metadata and use it for creating the thumbnail that is seen for each file. Similarly, when you upload photos to an image-sharing or social-media site, you will find that these pictures will be shown the right way up thanks to this metadata. It is also true of image management software which even creates copies of the imported files that are the “right way up” as part of the image-import process.

Windows 10 File Explorer

Copying photos from your camera using Windows / File Explorer or other file managers may not guarantee the best results with photo-rotation metadata

But a lot of hardware media players like smart TVs, set-top devices and electronic picture frames don’t recognise this EXIF picture-orientation flag and show the picture with the incorrect orientation. It can be exacerbated with DLNA media-streaming setups where the DLNA media server doesn’t use this flag to rotate the picture to the correct orientation when it is being served to the client device. The same problem also extends to some photo-viewer and presentation software that doesn’t understand the EXIF photo-orientation tag properly.

Another situation that always surfaces with photo orientation is if you are photographing something on a table, floor or similar horizontal surface. Here, the camera or smartphone doesn’t properly register the orientation due to the orientation sensor being driven by gravity. In this situation you would still have to manually rotate the image even if you were importing it with software that understood this EXIF orientation metadata.

How can you work around these problem when you want to show images that are drawn in from email or copied over from that digital camera?

Cast To Device option to show picture on DLNA video player – may not always work properly with the EXIF photo-orientation metadata

One way would be to open each portrait image using a photo editor or bitmap image editor that understands the EXIF photo-orientation tag like Windows Paint or Adobe Photoshop, then save the image as a JPEG file using the software’s Save As command. This will typically rotate the image the right way up and strip off confusing EXIF tags. It would appeal to situations where you are preparing a folder of photos to be shown, perhaps on a USB stick or using “Cast To Device / Play To Device” on your Windows computer and a DLNA-capable video device.

For Windows users, especially those who regularly copy photos to their computer using Windows Explorer / File Explorer, there is a free program that can batch-rotate photos in a folder correctly. The program is called JPEG Autorotate and is freely available from its author’s site. Once installed, it appears as a secondary-menu (right-click) option to allow you to rotate a single image or all the photos in a folder including the subfolders without quality loss.

If you are using a computer as the primary storage or “staging post” for your digital image collection, the best path is to use the photo import functionality that is part of the image management software installed on it. Typically this will be Windows Photos, Windows Photo Gallery or Photos for MacOS (formerly iPhoto) that will be with your operating system. As well, make sure that the “rotate photos on import” option is selected in your software’s import settings.

This information will help you with making sure that digital pictures appear the right way up no matter the device you are using.

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Wi-Fi now the expected feature for digital cameras and camcorders

Wi-Fi as a feature for digital cameras and camcordersRecently, I have been going through news articles about the digital cameras that are being launched or premiered this year and most of them are offering a common feature. What is this feature?

It is Wi-Fi wireless-network connectivity which allows you to link your smartphone or tablet with your camera using the same technology that is used to link these devices to your home network and the Internet when you are at home.

One of the key advantages that Wi-Fi wireless connectivity offers is that it offers a wider bandwidth than Bluetooth which would earn its keep with transferring the high-resolution RAW or JPEG pictures to your computer or mobile device.

Camera set up as access point

The camera serves as an access point for the smartphone or tablet

The typical situation is that you have to install software on your smartphone, tablet or computer that is written by the camera’s manufacturer to take advantage of this feature. This software would allow you to transfer photos and video from your camera to your computing device or have the computing device’s screen work as a viewfinder for the camera. In a lot of cases, it could serve as a remote control for your camera such as to be able to trip the shutter remotely. If the computing device is a smartphone or tablet, you may have the ability to geotag the shots you took using your camera with the smartphone’s GPS sensor providing the information. As well. some Panasonic camcorders use this software to create a multiple-camera setup using your smartphone’s camera along with the camcorder’s own camera function.

Using your smartphone's wireless-tethering feature as an access point

Using your smartphone’s wireless tethering feature as an access point

As I have highlighted before, Ricoh uses an integrated Web page rather than a client-side app for their GR II digital camera when it comes to remote control. This would appeal to those of us who use regular computers or Windows smartphones as partner devices for our cameras.

In some situations, the camera may offer an “on-ramp” to a manufacturer-hosted Web gateway which allows you to upload and share the pictures using the Web. As well, some of these Web gateways may offer a further “on-ramp” to social-network, image-sharing or file-exchange services that you have accounts with so you can take advantage of these services.

Using an existing network

Your Wi-Fi-capable camera as part of an existing home network

But how can these cameras work with Wi-Fi? Most of these cameras can be their own access point, typically serving one device like a smartphone or laptop. But they also have the ability to connect to an existing access point. This can be of benefit when you use a phone with Wi-Fi-based tethering, a “Mi-Fi” router or your existing home or small-business network.

How to get the most out of this technology

Interlinking with your smartphone

Facebook and Dropbox desktop

Facebook and Dropbox can benefit here

If you use your smartphone or tablet to post pictures on Facebook, Instagram and the like, you can take the pictures you want to post using your Wi-Fi-capable camera rather than the smartphone’s rear-facing camera and these pictures could impress people more. This is because the good digital cameras implement optics that are better than what would be integrated in a smartphone’s integrated camera.

Instagram Android screenshot

… as can Instagram

Similarly, when you take those holiday pictures, you can take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS to geotag the pictures and use them as part of an interactive map that a social network may offer.

Here, you use the camera for most of the photography while your smartphone’s camera can work as a fallback if your application calls for something small and light and you don’t care about the quality. Similarly, your smartphone’s camera would earn its keep with video-conferencing.

The best network setup for the job

The Wi-FI feature along with the “remote-control” functionality will come in to its own when you dig out that tripod. Here, you could be able to interact with the subject yet keep tabs on how it will look in the viewfinder and how the exposure will come off using your smartphone.

An existing network served by a powerful router could earn its keep here if you need to be further away from the camera such as filming a presentation or interacting with a subject. If you are “out and about”, a Mi-Fi could serve this role easily because of it working as an access point on its own battery rather than you finding that the battery is being depleted very quickly during a long shoot.

What needs to be done

DLNA integration

Once you have NAS units, especially mobile NAS units being equipped with the Upload and Download functionaliy for their DLNA MediaServer functionality, these cameras would have to support DLNA MediaUploader functionality to allow you to deliver the pictures you took on to these devices.  Similarly the idea of “throwing” images and footage you just took to a DLNA-capable smart TV via your home network would need to be investigated as a feature for these cameras.

Here, this could be approached through identifying standards and specifications that apply to the photography and videography ecosystem. As well, this concept could be taken further to allow different software to gain access to the camera’s sensor or controls for different applications.

Wi-FI Passpoint support

Another area that may need to be worked on for these digital cameras and camcorders is support for WI-Fi Passpoint. This allows for a simplified yet secure login experience when you use these cameras with a public-access Wi-Fi hotspot like what your favourite hotel or café provides. Here, you are not dealing with a login Webpage which would be difficult, if not impossible, to use with a digital camera because of the absence of a Web browser and reliance on “pick-and-choose” data entry.

The concept of a “trusted device cluster” could be looked at in the context of Wi-Fi Passpoint so you can provide a surefire “local-network-link” between two or more devices that are using a public-access network. Here, it would earn its keep when you are controlling your tripod-mounted camera from your smartphone during a presentation or downloading those pictures to your Ultrabook or tablet while you are in your hotel room.

Wi-Fi as another path to control lighting and other peripherals

Serious hobbyists and professionals will be dealing with advanced lighting setups in order to get the best out of their photographs and footage. This may involve continuous-light devices like video and photo lights along with flash-based devices like Speedlites or studio flash units. LEDs are also making it more feasible to vary the lighting colour of a particular lamp at an instant.

Here, Wi-Fi along with some of the “Internet Of Things” proposals being put forward by the UPnP Forum and AllSeen Alliance could open up the ability to use your smartphone or camera as a control surface for your lighting setup. This would also include being able to trigger flash units manually or in sync with the shutter.

For video applications, Wi-FI technology could also earn its keep with picture-sound synchronisation by working as a “common path” to transmit SMPTE synchronisation data between audio recorders and video camcorders. This could allow for “best-quality” sound recording and multiple-camera setups with devices having their own recording transports.

Conclusion

What I see of this year’s trend for cameras and camcorders to have Wi-Fi wireless network abilities is something that will make them increasingly capable.

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Ricoh adds Wi-Fi and an integrated Web page to one of its compact cameras

Article

Ricoh GR II compact digital camera press picture courtesy of Ricoh Imaging

Ricoh GR II – with its own Web server

Ricoh GR II adds Wi-Fi and not much else to GR feature set | Digital Photography Review

The Ricoh GR II Adds Wi-Fi to a Cult Classic | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

Ricoh

GR II Compact Digital Camera

Product Page

Wi-Fi Feature page

Press Release

My Comments

Ricoh has released the GR II compact digital camera which maintains the features and calibre associated with original Ricoh GR compact digital camera camera.

But they added on a Wi-Fi direct link functionality with NFC setup. But unlike other similar setups, there isn’t dependence on you installing a platform-native app on your smartphone or tablet. Rather, the Ricoh GR II camera has its own Web server which shows up a control page which allows you determine how the camera is to take the shot. This includes things like setting up focus and exposure to taking the actual picture (“click”). This will benefit those of us who use a Windows phone or a regular computer to manage the camera.

As well, there is a platform-native “Image Sync” app for the iOS and Android platforms which will also allow you to download multiple pictures to these devices’ storage. This would be of benefit to those of us who are dumping a group of pictures to a Facebook album or Dropbox folder as well as using that picture on Instagram.

Another feature that this camera has is that you don’t need to use a special charger to charge up the camera’s battery. Here, you just connect it to the same USB charger that you use for charging your smartphone or tablet using an ordinary microUSB cable so there is one less item to worry about when travelling.

They could add other functions like a DLNA media server with upload and control abilities so that you could show these pictures on your Smart TV or upload them to your NAS via your home network.

What Ricoh is doing is that they are implementing digital-camera connectivity features that step out of the mold and make these cameras more universal.

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Panasonic has outlined what Wi-Fi can mean for your camera

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Panasonic

The wonderful world of Wi-Fi supercharges our latest cameras and camcorders (Blog post)

My Comments

LG G-Flex 2 curved Android smartphone - courtesy of LG

Panasonic is pushing the idea of apps as a Wi-Fi-linked control surface for cameras and camcorders

When Wi-Fi is added to a digital camera or camcorder, it is typically about being able to download the images or footage to a regular computer for editing and post-production.

But Panasonic is using Wi-Fi wireless networking for more than that thanks to the app-cessory model. Here, they provide a downloadable app that works as a control surface for the camera and can use the smartphone’s abilities to increase what the camera or camcorder can do.

For example, they have a “Jump Snap” feature which uses the accelerometer in your phone to detect the peak in a jump to cause the camera to take the picture as you jump. It also exploits the smartphone’s GPS so you can geocode your photos that you take with your camera. Let’s not forget the ability to use the smartphone’s screen to set up and take your photo, as what a control-surface app would do.

Sony FRD-AX33 4K HandyCam camcorder press picture courtesy of Sony America

Your smartphone could control one of these and add extra capabilities to it

For camcorders, the Wi-Fi ability allows for multi-camera filming like what the TV producers do in the studios. Here, the smartphone’s camera works as a second camera. This would lead to practices like picture-in-picture or real-time cuts/fades/dissolves being part of your videography. There is even the ability to purpose the camcorder as a network-capable video-surveillance camera with your smartphone or tablet serving as a monitor.

What I see of this is these apps could allow Panasonic and other camera manufacturers to add capabilities to their cameras and camcorders using a mobile-platform app.  The multi-camera filming could be improved upon by allowing multiple camera devices, especially digital cameras or camcorders with the good lenses, to work together for creating multiple video tracks or multi-camera views.

The current limitations with anything that will use a smartphone to add capabilities to a digital camera or camcorder is the fact that the software will only work with a certain range of products supplied by a particular manufacturer. Typically this could be limited to mid-tier and high-end products made since a certain model-year or generation.

Who knows who else will be turning out “app-cessory” setups for their camera and camcorder ranges?

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Nice camera and Android phone can work together

Article

You can use pictures from your good digital camera with your Android mobile device

You can use pictures from your good digital camera with your Android mobile device

Android customization – how to connect a USB flash drive to your Android device  | Android Authority

My Comments

I have a good Canon digital camera and have used it to take some pictures and, at times, place them on Instagram, MMS messaging or other services using my Samsung Android phone. But how do I do this?

Here, this is another virtue of “open-frame” computing which the Android mobile platform wholeheartedly supports. What I did was to purchase a USB “On-The-Go” (OTG) cable and a small SD card reader and used these to get at the pictures on my camera’s SD card. It may be easier to purchase this accessory online or through an independent computer, electronics or mobile-accessories specialist. You can use other memory-card readers with a USB “On-The-Go” cable to suit the memory card that your camera works with such as a CompactFlash card. You may also have to pay attention to the size of these accessories if you want to make sure you can stow them in your gadget bag or camera case.

USB On-The-Go cable

USB On-The-Go cable

Here, I may have to use an Android file manager like ES File Manager to discover the pictures in the camera’s DCIM directory on the SD card. There is even a special file manager pitched at USB OTG applications called OTG Disk Explorer Lite which can be the way if you don’t want to mess with a “full-bore” file manager app.

SD card connected to Android smartphone via OTG cable

SD card connected to Android smartphone via OTG cable

You may also have to look for a RAW or DNG file app in the Google Play Store which can export as JPEG if you are working with these ultra-high-quality “master” formats for your photos.

Here, I was able to share a good photo of one of Melbourne’s “art trams” via Instagram, simply by taking the picture with my digital camera, then using the USB OTG cable to share the picture on this photo-sharing service. Here, you would have to select the option as of you are picking photos from your image library on your phone, yet look for something like “USBStorageA” or something similar.

Digital camera card shown in ES Explorer Android app

Digital camera card shown in ES Explorer Android app

For MMS messaging, I would need to use an app to make “scaled-down” copies of the images to WXGA resolution to send these through that technology. The Android app I use is called “Reduce Photo Size” which makes a local copy of the reduced image so I can send it using MMS. I had used thsi technique when I went on a walk through a neighbourhood that had fond memories for a friend of mine whom I live with and wanted to share some pictures that I took with the Canon camera with those people via MMS which was effectively their “comfort zone”.

SD card reader small enough to stow in your gadget bag or camera case.

SD card reader small enough to stow in your gadget bag or camera case.

I pack these accessories in my camera’s “gadget bag” so I can share photos I have taken with it using Instagram, MMS or similar “mobile-only” services. This can even work with any of the mobile front-ends for the Social Web or cloud-upload services like Facebook, Google+ or Dropbox.

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HP to give the Sony VAIO Pro 13 and the Apple MacBook Air a run for their money

Article

HP Launches World’s First Workstation Ultrabook, Refreshes Workstation Lineup

From the horse’s mouth

HP

Product Page

My Comments

When Sony launched the VAIO Pro 13, they put up an 13” Ultrabook with a 1080p photo-optimised LCD screen that gave the Apple MacBook Air a run for its money when it came to computer needs for the working photographer with the MacBook Air only hanging on to its status by the virtue of long battery life.

Now HP have walked up to the platform with the ZBook Workstation 14 which is an Intel Haswell-driven 14” Ultrabook that can be described as a “workstation Ultrabook”. This one, which weighs in at 3.5 lb could have up to 16Gb of RAM and 1 Tb of hard-disk storage and the option of AMD FirePro discrete graphics. They had described this processing power as being suitable for photographers, video / multimedia and CAD work but one could easily tack on core gaming as another application.

Similarly, HP have put up the rest of the ZBook range as an answer to Sony’s VAIO laptop computers, especially the VAIO E series, for Windows-based graphics and multimedia computing on the road.

This is similar to another HP effort to call a computer that isn’t a three-piece ATX tower PC a workstation when they released the Z1 Workstation which was a modular all-in-one workstation.

Here, we are seeing computers like all-in-one desktops, ultraportable laptops and tablets, the types not being associated with serious graphics and multimedia work or hardcore games play, come up to the stage with specifications that match the requirements and these could usher in a new trend for advanced computing.

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Nikon to field the world’s first Android-driven camera

Articles

Nikon Coolpix S800c hands-on: a closer look at the Android camera (video) – Engadget

Nikon intros Android based 16-megapixel camera | HelloAndroid

My comments

Nikon is intending to launch a compact digital camera which is based on the Android operating system. This camera, known as the Coolpix S800c, runs Android 2.3.3 as its operating system but uses a separate baseline operating environment for photography. This is to allow you to have the camera ready to snap the moment you turn it on, even though the Android operating environment will start and make itself available through a “fall-through” icon. The same operating environment also comes in to play as a battery-saving measure.

Of course the Wi-Fi-enabled camera will have access to the Google Play app store so you can load up Android front-ends to social-Web services, messaging services and the like. Similarly you could load up DLNA server programs like TwonkyMobile to show the pictures you took on your smart TV via the home network. There is an integrated GPS function so you can geotag the pictures that you take.

As the Engadget article went on, it is so easy to think you could load a game like Angry Birds in to this camera and play it but this would drain the battery out too quickly.

The Nikon compact camera has the expectations like 16 Megapixel sensor and a 10x optical zoom. Most Android phone users will rejoice because this camera implements the same kind of OLED multi-touch display that these phones use.

I suspect that this camera is pitched at the smartphone market due to the common practice of using smartphones to take family snapshots and this could yield the concept of using proper Japanese camera optics and a smartphone operating environment for this purpose.

This could become a chance for Android to prove that it isn’t just an operating environment for smartphones, tablets and set-top applications, that it can be used across many device classes.

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Do you view or download that picture that you received in your Webmail

A common situation for Webmail users is that when the receive an email with one or more picture attachements in it, they are faced with an option to view or download the image. This is a situation that can perplex some novice computer users when they face these situations.

Viewing an image

When you select the “View” option for that image, you see the image using your Web browser. This can work well with some Web browsers but not with others and can be annoying if the browser that you are using either shows “actual size” only or while the photo is loading.

In some cases, some browsers such as Internet Explorer can provide a user interface for panning and zooming on digital pictures that can be frustrating and unintuitive to some users. It can be good enough if you are viewing small images or viewing an image “at a glance” with a properly-behaving browser.

Downloading an image

When you select the “Download” option, the image will be copied to your computer’s local storage and you are then presented the option to “open” the image or “save” it somewhere else.

If you “open” it, you use your operating system’s default image handler which, for most desktop environments, would be a dedicated image viewer or your image management program.  Some users may find this program’s interface more intuitive because it shows the image at best resolution on the screen yet allows them to use the image handler’s zoom and pan controls to view the detail.

You also have the option to “save” the image to somewhere of your choosing on your computer’s file system to “take it further”. This can be useful for saving it to a USB memory key so you can have it printed by your favourite digital photofinisher or to show on that digital picture frame or TV. Similarly, you could “save” it to your image library as something to “come back to” later; or to view using your DLNA-capable smart TV or video player.

What do you do?

Whether to view or download that image in your Webmail can depend on what you want to do with the image.

If you want to take the image further, it is best to “download” the image and use the “save” option. On the other hand, you can just “view” the image if you are comfortable with how your Web browser shows images or “download” if you find that the image viewer or image management program’s viewing interface does the job better for you.

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A digital camera that can be controlled by a smartphone

Article

CES: Samsung SH100 camera wants to be BFF with your smartphone – CES 2011 CNET Blogs

My Comments

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung had demonstrated a compact digital camera which has integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi functionality. It would have the usual benefits like uploading pictures to a computer or cloud-based storage service; and exhibiting pictures on a DLNA-compliant video-display device.

But this camera has a feature that has impressed me very much. It is to use the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone as an external viewfinder and control surface. This has been a function that I have been wishing for with digital photography and cinematography.

Here, this would work well with a photography situation that most of us encounter. When we are at a party or nightclub, we may want to take a picture of everyone on that dance floor dancing to that dance hit thumping through the speakers. Similarly, we may want to get a picture of the live band playing at that pub gig which is packed out. When we are outdoors, we may want to grab a picture of the floats that are part of the parade for example.

In these situations, you may need to lift the camera over your head but you won’t get a fair idea of what you are to photograph due to a small screen size or viewing the screen at an “off angle”. Here, you just end up taking a large number of “rough shots” that you will end up editing out for example.

Similarly, if you use your camera for wildlife photography for example, you will find it hard to take the right shot because the moment you get near the camera, you spoil the shot.

Here, Samsung has established a wireless link which uses the phone’s screen as a viewfinder and control surface for the camera. The user would have to download an app to the phone in order to achieve the functionality. This link is also set up so that pictures can be sent to the phone for sharing via the phone using MMS, email or Web-based services.

There have been further questions about other smartphones, whether based on Android, iOS or other platforms being able to have this functionality. What actually needs to happen is for device classes to be defined or existing device classes reused and amended for photographic / cinematographic applications. This is to provide remote viewfinder and status display as well as remote control of the shutter / recording start-stop and other aspects of the exposure. Similarly, the device classes also have to provide control of flashguns and other lighting in order to synchronise them with the exposure.

Here, the device classes should work with USB wired connections as well as wireless Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections.

Similarly, cameras could implement USB “On-The-Go”, Bluetooth “Object Push Profile” or similar technologies to allow a user to upload a picture to the phone. As well, the phone could provide dynamic scale-down of high-resolution images when sending pictures by MMS or email. This would avoid me having to take pictures with the phone rather than my digital camera if I intend to use the picture for a picture message for example and I can still use the good-quality imaging attributes of the camera to yield a good quality photo.

At least Samsung has taken a step in the right direction by enabling a digital camera to work with a smartphone for improved photography.

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RAW Image Support – W7/Media Center 32/64 bit « digitalmediaphile

RAW Image Support – W7/Media Center 32/64 bit « digitalmediaphile

http://www.fastpictureviewer.com/codecs/ 

My comments on these codecs

Barb Bowman (http://digitalmediaphile.wordpress.com) has found a useful resource on this website http://www.fastpictureviewer.com/codecs/ for those of you who want to keep the Windows platform relevant to your high-end digital photography needs.

Here, this site provides downloadable codecs and plugins that work properly with the RAW image files that are part of high-end digital photography. Some of these codecs may work directly with Photoshop for Windows or simply become Explorer codecs for use in thumbnails and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

The main thing I have liked about this is that the codecs don’t cost anything and, from Barb Bowman’s experience, aren’t likely to bog your computer down. This may avoid the need to just use the Apple Mac for your digital-imaging needs.

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