The new Lytro Illum – changing digital photography?


Lytro has unveiled the Illum light field camera, its first new hardware since the original Lytro launched more than two years ago. Like its predecessor, the Illum captures information about the angle from which light has arrived, allowing it to calculate images with different perspective and focus. Lytro calls the images ‘living pictures’, which are presented in a proprietary interactive format.

The biggest change is the use of a much larger sensor: now a 1″ type, rather than 1/3″ type usually found in smartphones. Despite this more than sevenfold increase in sensor size, the Illum still offers a constant F2 lens, now with a more practical 30-250mm equivalent range. And, where this would give more control over depth-of-field on a conventional camera, here it should increase the ability to distinguish between focus depths on a light field camera.

Program, ISO priority, shutter priority, and full manual shooting modes are supported. The interface has also been revamped to run on Android, and includes shooting tools like a new depth overlay to help photographers visualize the three dimensionality of a scene while they frame the shot. It also has a 4-inch articulating touchscreen LCD with 800×480 pixel resolution, and a handful of physical controls.

These changes mean the camera has become considerably larger and more expensive, but should help address some of the concerns we had about the original cameras.


Rumors hint at pair of new Canon lenses

Rumors have been flying around the Internet in the last week about a pair of new Canon lenses. The first rumored lens is an EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM model, which could be a cheaper version of the existing F2.8 lens, or a replacement for the 17-40 F4L. The other speculated lens is an EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM which, according to the rumor mill, should be fairly inexpensive. The word on the street is that these lenses will be announced soon, so we’ll keep our fingers on the keyboard just in case.

Neil Young and Jack White to record LIVE onto vinyl

Rip up your Guinness Book of World Records. When Neil Young and Jack White come to The Tonight Show tonight, they’ll perform and press that one take to vinyl, their host Jimmy Fallon has announced.

Young recorded his new covers album A Letter Home on the refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine at White’s Third Man Records in Nashville. The device can record about two minutes of audio and press it onto a vinyl record. Young’s Fallon appearance with White comes after the former White Stripes member recorded and pressed his new “Lazaretto” single in, ahem, record time; White’s upcoming album, also titled Lazeretto, will come as a spectacularly packaged piece of vinyl in its own right.

Louis C.K. will also be on Fallon tonight, though it’s unclear whether his appearance will get its own insta-vinyl pressing.

Jack White’s ‘Lazaretto’ Vinyl Will Create a Hologram When It Spins

Jack White has done the expected by loading up the vinyl version of his forthcoming Lazaretto album with a ton of unexpected features. Naturally, everyone knew that the man who cut the world’s fastest record would give his June 10 set the Third Man Records treatment, but who could have predicted a holographic angel floating above the grooves while the ULTRA edition spins? Or “dual-groove” technology that allows for alternate electric and acoustic intros to the same song?

Yes, as the press release words it, “No single innovation would suffice.” There are so many bells and whistles, in fact, that it takes White and TMR’s Ben Blackwell nearly 10 minutes to demonstrate all of them in the video above (hologram at 6:25, FYI). We’ve listed all of the features below, and you can review them while listening to “High Ball Stepper” or “Lazaretto” itself. Pre-order the ULTRA edition here, and review White’s tour dates.

  • 180 gram vinyl
  • two vinyl-only hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels
  • one hidden track plays at 78 RPM and one plays at 45 RPM, making this a three-speed record
  • Side A plays from the inside out
  • dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped; the grooves meet for the body of the song
  • matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an unplayed 78 RPM record
  • both sides end with locked grooves
  • vinyl pressed in seldom-used flat-edged format
  • dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record
  • absolutely zero compression used during recording, mixing and mastering
  • Different running order from the CD/digital version
  • Utilizes some mixes different from those used on CD/digital versions

Does Vinyl Really Sound Better than CD?

The Difference Between Vinyl & CD

This is a big topic, but I will try to cover it on a high level. In really simple terms, the answer lies with the differences between analogue and digital. Sound sources are by definition, analogue, so from that perspective analogue is closer to the original sound source and technically superior. If you look at the picture below, you can see a basic demonstration of the difference between analogue wave forms and digital. Notice the fact that analogue is one continuous line, where as digital appears as a broken block line. This is because digital recordings take a snapshot of the analogue signal at a certain rate (for CDs it is 44,100 times per second) and measures each snapshot with a certain accuracy (for CDs it is 16-bit). Using higher sample & bit rates, will represent result in a more accurate representation of the original wave form and will reduce the amount of information lost and subsequently filled in with random digital information.

Analogue = Red

So why 44.1khz for CD’s?

This all essentially comes down to a well know audio theory call Nyquist Theorem, which dictates that in order to sample audio accurately the sample rate should be at least twice as high as the maximum frequency you need to capture, and with full the range of human hearing ranging between 20hz and 20,000hz, you should in theory be able to capture any sound at a high enough quality for even the best of human hearing.

Basically, and before this gets more complicated than I intended – even though CD sample rates capture the full range of human hearing according to Nyquist – many claim there are still some audible artefacts, such as aliasing, which mean that analogue recordings are in theory better. However, there are many other factors to consider here, including the fact that digital recordings have the ability to products greater dynamic range without noise floor issues, amongst other advantages. However, advocates of vinyl often praise it’s warmth and richness.

The Downside of Vinyl

So what’s the catch I hear you ask? Well, analogue audio signals are a representation of physical wave form intensities in a different form, such as voltages on a wire or magnetised particles on a cassette tape. In the case of vinyl, these wave intensities are represented by grooves carved into the record, which mirror the original waveform. In a perfect world, this means that little information is lost when compared to digital samples. However, it’s not quite as easy as that, and unfortunately, if only by physical wear and tear, or from specks of dust, or damage to the disc – analogue formats such as vinyl are subject to noise and static with age. The lesson here – look after your vinyl, and they will reward your ears for much longer!


Audiophiles may bicker over the differences between vinyl or CD, or digital vs analogue, and a well kept record, played on a great sound system is truly a wonderful thing. But for most people, the benefit of vinyl goes beyond this. It’s about the romance of it all, the procedure of putting a record on, and the joy of the format. In the words of Jack White (and I do love a quote to summarise) “There’s no romance in singing about an I-Pod”

Costa del Arnside – iPhone 4 Film

This is the short film I created for my third and final, solo, Mobile-Film task. The basic premise of the film was to try and evoke feelings of nostalgia in the viewer. The entire film was shot over a 1 day period at my home town of Arnside, a small, seaside, tourist village.

My main inspiration for this film came from a short film by Bertie Gilbert, a film maker with hundreds of thousands of subscribers on YouTube –

The majority of the film was filmed on iPhone 4 and one app was used in the production of this film, FilmicPro, a hugely beneficial app to anyone in the Mobile-Film industry. FilmicPro gives the user much more control of what image is being captured. The main benefit for me was the fact I could change the capture frame rate from 24fps down to 14fps, giving the footage that ‘jittery’, ‘home movie’ look. Noise was also added to the original footage, as well as film grain and tints of turquoise and orange in Premiere Pro, using the ‘tint’ effect. All these different layers contributed to the final effect, and I feel they worked really well.

For one particular clip in the film, where the music climaxes, I shot using the iPhone 5s. The reason for this was that I really wanted to take advantage of the ‘slow-mo’ feature. To create such a steady shot I used a mic stand as a tripod. I feel like the final outcome came out really well.

Equipment:  iPhone 4, iPhone 5, Mic Stand

Apps Used: FilmicPro, Slow-Mo

Song: Aquilo – You There

Lucky – iPhone 4 Film

This was a film a shot using the iPhone 4 and edited in Premiere Pro. The idea of the film was to try and create feelings of nostalgia in the viewer. I was going for a sort of 80’s/90’s home movie style. To achieve this I shot the film at 14fps, through the app FilmicPro. In post, I then added a film grain layer into Premiere and set the overlay percentage to the desired amount. A light leak layer was also added and the same process was carried out. Using the ‘Tint’ effect in Premiere allowed me to map the Whites and Blacks to a desired a colour, in this case, a ‘muddy’ orange and turquoise will give the film that home movie look.