Intel and Nvidia chips power a supercomputing center that tracks people in a place where government suppresses minorities, raising questions about the tech industry’s responsibility.
Over the past few years, streetlights in the city of San Diego have become “smart,” equipped with a slate of cameras and sensors that report back data on the city and its denizens. Following protests from privacy activists, the city mayor ordered the network disabled for the time being—but it turns out that city staff can’t turn the cameras off just yet without plunging the city into literal darkness.
Thousands of streetlight cameras were supposed to be disabled this fall, the Voice of San Diego reports, but there is no software switch for doing so. In lieu of disabling the cameras, the vendor responsible for them at the time instead simply cut off the city’s network access to the devices.
The Smart Streetlight project began five years ago, in 2015, when San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced (PDF) a new “partnership” with GE Lighting to deploy “a software-defined lighting technology that will help San Diego solve some of the city’s infrastructure challenges.”
Backyard birding has become the perfect pandemic pastime. Here’s how to draw more species to your yard, and maybe get a good photo, too.
On social media, people had some concerns about the Ring Always Home Cam. To put it mildly.
“There is insufficient evidence to prove a crime of negligent or reckless homicide” was committed, the Pima County Attorney’s Office said in a report released Monday.
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Chris Larsen knows that a crypto mogul spending his own money for a city’s camera surveillance system might sound creepy. He’s here to explain why it’s not.
Canon has finally fully revealed its much-anticipated R5 and R6 mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, and they look like very strong contenders for the field. The R5 is the new flagship of Canon’s mirrorless line, and it’s priced accordingly at $3,899 for the body alone. The R6 is its ‘affordable’ sibling at $2,499 for the body alone, and still includes an impressive list of features including some of the biggest autofocus system improvements common to the R5.
Canon EOS R5
The R5 is essentially now Canon’s top of the line interchangeable lens camera, barring the 1D X III. It has a 45 megapixel full-frame sensor, which is brand new with this camera, and uses the same DIGIC X processor found in the EOS-1D X III. Along with in-body image stabilization (which stacks with lens stabilization, if available), it has the ability to shoot 8K video at 30 frames per second – uncropped, meaning it uses the full resolution capabilities of that large sensor for maximum quality.
The R5 can capture 4K footage at up to 120 fps, and it can record 10-bit 4:2:2 footage using either C-Log and HDR PQ internally for maximum dynamic range and editing flexibility. This is really the camera that video pros and enthusiasts have been asking Canon to make, and beyond, since the 8K capabilities should mean it’s relatively future-proof.
Catering further to video pros, there are both mic and headphone jacks on the R5 body, and an optional wireless title transmitter grip can add an Ethernet jack and facilitates more advanced multi-camera linked shooting features. The R5 also features a fully articulating fold out display, and an electronic viewfinder with 5.76 million dot resolution. It’s weather sealed for outdoor shooting in a range of conditions, and has two card slots, including one CFexpress slot and one SD card slot.
For both still and video shooters there’s an autofocus system that uses Canon’s Dual Pixel technology to deliver AF across the entire frame. It can also detect human faces and yes, as well as the eye face and body of animals including not only dogs and cats but also birds – sure to be a popular feature among wildlife photographers. Also great news for still shooters is the 12 fps burst rate, which climbs to 20fps when using the software shutter.
Canon EOS R6
The R6 is similar in size and feature set to the R5, but has a much lower resolution 20.1 megapixel full frame sensor. It also shoots video at a maximum of 4K/60fps (with slight cropping), and has a lower resolution OLED EVF vs. its more expensive sibling. It also has Dual UHS-II SD card slots in place of the CF/SD combo on the R5, and less rigorous weather sealing. It also lacks the R5’s top e-ink display.
Still, it does include the same AF features and uses the same new battery type as the R5, and is compatible with the BG-R10 battery grip that also works with the more expensive camera. It finally sounds like a true and capable competitor to other options that have retained popularity among video enthusiasts and creators like the Sony A7 III even as Canon has released newer cameras like the EOS R and RP.
One potentially disappointing note for both cameras is regarding battery life, where the rating is around 320 shots with the LCD or just 220 shots on a full charge when shooting with the EVF. Sony’s A7R IV manages between 530 to 670 shots with the EVF and LCD respectively, for comparison.
New RF lenses
Canon’s camera hardware sounds like it delivers on a lot of what Canon fans, photographers and videographers have been looking for from the company for many years. But the real advantage of Canon’s system might reside in its RF glass, which has excellent reviews for all its existing lenses, and which is also gaining a bunch of versatile new products across the price range.
These include a new 100-500 f4.5-7.1 superzoom ($2,699), which includes built-in image stabilization and should be a fantastic option for birders and wildlife photographers. There’s also affordable new RF600mm ($699) and 800mm ($899) fixed aperture f11 primes that won’t be useful in low lighting but that should be fantastic for sports and wildlife outdoors. Finally, a new RF85mm F2 ($599) with close-focusing macro capabilities seems like an awesome mid-range portrait and close-up lens.
Canon is also releasing 1.4x ($499) and 2x ($599) teleconverters for its RF lenses, which is a standby that every well-rounded system needs.
The R5 is set to be available at the end of July, and the R6 is going to begin shipping at the end of August. The lenses range in available from July to October, and the extenders will be shipping at the end of July as well.
Everyone needs a webcam these days, whether for business meetings or the distant socializing accomplished via video calling — but if you’re like most, you’re using the built-in camera on your laptop or some piece of junk from years ago. But if you happen to have a nice big-brand camera, it’s easy to set it up as a standalone webcam and produce imagery that will be the envy your friends and colleagues.
Our guide to setting up a professional-looking home webcam solution with lighting, audio, and all the other fixins is here, but unless you’re using a capture card (that’s a whole other how-to) getting your DSLR or mirrorless camera hooked up to your computer isn’t as simple as it ought to be.
Surprisingly, you can’t just take a camera released in the last couple years and plug it into your computer and expect it to work. So far only Canon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic provide free webcam functionality to at least one desktop OS. For Nikon, Sony and Olympus, you may have to pay or put up with a watermark.
Here are the easiest ways to put each brand of camera to work. (Spoiler warning: For Macs, it’s mostly Cascable. I’ll mention that a few more times because people are probably just scrolling past this to their brand.)
Canon: EOS Webcam Utility
Canon released this software just a couple weeks ago and it’s still in beta, so there may be a few hiccups — but it supports both Windows and Apple machines and a good variety of camera bodies. There’s even some extra documentation and tutorials for the app at its microsite.
Compatibility is pretty good, working with any of their camera bodies from the last 3-4 years: the Rebel T6-T7i, T100, SL2, SL3, 5D Mk IV, 5DS, 5DS R, 6D Mk II, 7D Mk II, 77D, 80D, 90D, 1D X Mark II and Mark III, M6 Mk II, M50, M200, R, RP, PowerShot G5X Mk II, G7X Mk III, and SX70 HS. Download the software here.
If you’re having trouble, check out the third party apps listed for other brands below and see if you have more luck.
Fujifilm: X Webcam
Fujifilm’s solution is easy, but a bit limited. The popular X100 series is not supported, and Macs are left out in the cold as well. But if you have one of the company’s more recent interchangeable-lens bodies and a Windows 10 machine, you’re golden. Just install and plug in your camera with a normal USB cable.
Compatibility includes the X-T2, X-T3, X-T4, X-Pro2, X-Pro3, X-H1, GFX100, GFX 50R, and GFX 50S. Get that medium format setup going right and your eyes will be in focus but not your ears. Download the software here.
For Macs, Cascable is a useful bit of Mac software that acts as a bridge to your camera for a variety of purposes, and the author just added webcam capability. It has wide compatibility for both wired and wireless connections, and provides broader functionality than Fuji’s own software, but it isn’t free. But the current $30 price is probably less than you’d pay if you opted for a nice webcam instead.
If you’re confident fiddling around in command lines, this tutorial tells you how to get a Fuji camera working on Macs with a bit of fiddling around and some other third party software.
Panasonic: Lumix Tether
Panasonic just made the webcam-capable version of their Lumix Tether Windows app available, and you can tell from the paucity of the documentation that it’s a pretty barebones solution. The price is right, though. It works with the GH5, G9, GH5S, S1, S1R, and S1H. The company also posted a helpful start-to-finish tutorial on how to get going with streaming software like OBS here:
Cascable works well with a variety of Panasonic cameras, far more than the official app, even some superzooms that could be really fun to play with in this context.
There’s no official software to turn your Sony cameras into webcams, so we have to jump straight into third party options. For Windows users, Ecamm Live is probably your best bet, but it has limited Sony compatibility, only supporting the latest bodies. It’s $12 per month, but there’s a free trial if you want to give it a go first.
Cascable on Mac is again your best bet there, with support reaching back several generations to cameras like the NEX series and RX100 III.
It’s the same story for Olympus. On Windows, Ecamm Live has compatibility with the latest bodies — the E-M1 II, III, and X, and the E-M5 original and Mk II. No go on the PEN series, unfortunately.
On Mac, Cascable has wired support for many more Oly bodies, including Stylus cameras and the retro-style PEN F, which will probably resent being used for such a modern purpose.
Surprisingly, while Nikon recently put up a rather helpful page on streaming using its cameras, it doesn’t produce any of the software itself, referring the reader to a variety of third-party programs.
As before, Cascable seems like the easiest way to get your Nikon working with a Mac, and Ecamm Live for Windows — though for Nikons, SparkoCam is also a frequently recommendation.
Warnings to the webcam-curious
These methods may be easy, but they’re not completely without issues.
One potential problem is heat. These cameras were designed primarily for capturing stills and short video clips. Running full time for extended periods can result in the camera getting too hot to function and shutting down. A camera shouldn’t damage itself seriously, but it’s something to be aware of. The best way to avoid this is using a dummy battery with a power adapter — these are pretty easy to find, and will mitigate overheating.
Audio also may not be as nice as the image. For people doing serious video work, an external mic is almost always used, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same. Considering a solid mic can be had for under $50 and should provide a substantial upgrade to your device’s built-in one, there’s no reason not to take the plunge.
You may also want to check a few forums for the best settings to use for the camera, from making sure it doesn’t turn off after a few minutes to exposure choices. For instance, since you’re not doing stills, you don’t need to worry about sharpness, so you can shoot wide open. But then you’ll need to make sure autofocus is working quickly and accurately, or you’ll end up lost in the bokeh. Check around, try a few different setups, and go with what works best in your situation.
And when you’re ready to take the next step, consult our more thorough guide to setting the scene.
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Sony has taken aim at the suddenly enormous market of people who want to self-produce high-quality video with a minimum of setup. Its ZV-1 mutates the versatile RX100 series into a selfie video machine, and it could be the all-in-one solution many a vlogger has been searching for.
The new camera is very much based on the highly successful and acclaimed RX100, which over the years has grown in both price and capabilities but remains something the user is behind, rather than in front of. The ZV-1 rethinks the camera for people who need to work the other way round.
The 1″, 20-megapixel sensor and 24-70mm equivalent, F/1.8-2.8 lens are borrowed from the RX100, meaning image quality should be excellent (though vloggers may want a wider angle lens). But the camera has been customized with an eye to selfie-style operation.
That means the electronic viewfinder is gone, but there’s now a fully articulating touchscreen display. A powerful new microphone array takes up a large portion of the camera’s top plate, and the ZV-1 comes with a wind baffle or deadcat that attaches to the top hot shoe, giving the camera a flamboyant look.
A huge new dedicated record button is placed for perfect operation by a left hand holding the camera from the front, and the zoom dial should be thumbable from there as well. A new “background defocus mode” uses the widest possible aperture, naturally narrowing the depth of field with no need for all the AI rigmarole found on smartphones — and it’s smart enough to switch focus to the product a vlogger is being paid to promote when they hold it up close.
All told this could be a convincing works-out-of-the-box solution for people who may be juggling a panoply of hardware from multiple generations to get the same thing done. The proven RX100 image quality and reliability combined with ergonomic tweaks to make it more selfie-friendly might entice people thinking of putting together more complex setups.
At $800, or $750 if you order in the next month, it’s certainly more expensive than an entry-level setup but probably cheaper (and definitely easier) than getting a mirrorless, lens, mic, and other accessories you might need to match it.
For $399, this smartphone hits the high notes: speedy, a great camera and a nice screen. Took long enough, didn’t it?
More than a decade after announcing that it would keep Polaroid’s abandoned instant film alive, The Impossible Project has done the… improbable: It has officially become the brand it set out to save. And to commemorate the occasion, there’s a new camera, the Polaroid Now.
The convergence of the two brands has been in the works for years, and in fact Impossible Project products were already Polaroid-branded. But this marks a final and satisfying shift in one of the stranger relationships in startups or photography.
I first wrote about The Impossible Project in early 2009 (and apparently thought it was a good idea to Photoshop a Bionic Commando screenshot as the lead image), when the company announced its acquisition of some Polaroid instant film manufacturing assets.
Polaroid at the time was little more than a shell. Having declined since the ’80s and more or less shuttered in 2001, the company was relaunched as a digital brand and film sales were phased out. This was unsuccessful, and in 2008 Polaroid was filing for bankruptcy again.
This time, however, it was getting rid of its film production factories, and a handful of Dutch entrepreneurs and Polaroid experts took over the lease as The Impossible Project. But although the machinery was there, the patents and other IP for the famed Polaroid instant film were not. So they basically had to reinvent the process from scratch — and the early results were pretty rough.
But they persevered, aided by a passionate community of Polaroid owners, continuously augmented by the film-curious who want something more than a Fujifilm Instax but less than a 35mm SLR. In time the process matured and Impossible developed new films and distribution partners, growing more successful even as Polaroid continued applying its brand to random, never particularly good photography-adjacent products. They even hired Lady Gaga as “Creative Director,” but the devices she hyped at CES never really materialized.
In 2017, the student became the master as Impossible’s CEO purchased the Polaroid brand name and IP. They relaunched Impossible as “Polaroid Originals” and released the OneStep 2 camera using a new “i-Type” film process that more closely resembled old Polaroids (while avoiding the expensive cartridge battery).
Polaroid continued releasing new products in the meantime — presumably projects that were under contract or in development under the brand before its acquisition. While the quality has increased from the early days of rebranded point-and-shoots, none of the products has ever really caught on, and digital instant printing (Polaroid’s last redoubt) has been eclipsed by a wave of nostalgia for real film, Instax Mini in particular.
But at last the merger dance is complete and Polaroid, Polaroid Originals and The Impossible Project are finally one and the same. All devices and film will be released under the Polaroid name, though there may be new sub-brands like i-Type and the new Polaroid Now camera.
Speaking of which, the Now is not a complete reinvention of the camera by far — it’s a “friendlier” redesign that takes after the popular OneStep but adds improved autofocus, a flash-adjusting light sensor, better battery and a few other nips and tucks. At $100 it’s not too hard on the wallet, but remember that film is going to run you about $2 per shot. That’s how they get you.
It’s been a long, strange trip to watch, but ultimately a satisfying one: Impossible made a bet on the fundamental value of instant film photography, while a series of owners bet on the Polaroid brand name to sell anything they put it on. The riskier long-term play won out in the end (though many got rich running Polaroid into the ground over and over), and now with a little luck the brand that started it all will continue its success.