RED defines EasyHDR™ and HDRx™ in relation to Epic

RED's leader Jim Jannard has just posted an update on forum linking test footage which was taken in Las Vegas showing off Epic's HDR mode. He defines EasyHDR and HDRx as:

EasyHDR™- done in camera with "Magic Motion".

HDRx™- done in post with either "Magic Motion" or "MNMB" (More Normal Motion Blur).

If you've shot video at night with neon lights blinking like this scene you will instantly be amazed at the dynamic range that is being compressed. Best to check out the forum post and read the pages and pages of responses to get the gist of what's coming :)

UPDATE: September 23rd 2010
Amazingly detailed breakdown of Epic HDRx information posted on Pro Video Coalition by Adam Wilt. He spent 3 hours with Jim Jannard, Jarred Land and Deanan DaSilva (all staff) getting detailed information about Epic HDRx.
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Olympus E-5 extends AEB up to 7 frames


Great news for HDR shooters coming from Olympus today (with one little asterisk next to great).

Olympus announced an upgrade to its flagship DSLR line today, the E-5. Of particular note to HDR shooters is the expanded automatic bracketing which allows for 2, 3, 5 or 7 frames. The E-3 only shot 3 aeb so this new expansion in the E-5 model is a welcomed addition.

Here comes the asterisk... the 7 aeb maximum step between shots is only 2/3rds of a step, but the other options of 2, 3, or 5 aeb can step a full 1EV between frames. Why camera manufacturers can not figure out how to expand their firmware appropriately for high dynamic range scenes is mind blowing to HDR shooters. 7aeb with 1EV steps would have been perfect for many high dynamic range landscape scenes. If only Olympus would have programmed the firmware of the E-5 to have done full 1EV steps between frames! So close Olympus, but a tad shy of perfect. Here's the E-5 bracketing options below:

Bracketing options for 2, 3, 5 or 7 frames

2F - 0.3step ·2F-0.5step ·2F-0.7step ·2F-1.0step

3F - 0.3Step · 3F-0.5Step · 3F-0.7Step · 3F-1.0Step

5F - 0.3Step ·5F-0.5Step · 5F-0.7Step · 5F-1.0Step

7F - 0.3step ·7F-0.5step ·7F-0.7step

Noteworthy mentions:
  • Up to 1/8000th of a second
  • Level Gauge for alignment
  • 5 frames per second
  • Flip out LCD
  • 720p Video
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September News Mixer: 32 Float, Nik, Canon and Apple

Another month went by with some interesting HDR gossip. Some of them we talked about before, some are still up in the clouds, some are rather surprising.


32 Float is shipping

Unified Color's new 32 Float is awesome, it will add more HDR features to your Photoshop CS3/4 than an update to CS5 will ever do. It's exactly the same interface and workflow like HDR Expose, just running as plugin inside Photoshop. The advantages are:

  • tighter workflow integration
  • mix different styles by tonemapping layers
  • use Photoshop's HDR Merge function

Download the 30-day demo to see for yourself.


Nik Software is getting serious

In the meantime Nik Software is blowing the hype whistle for their own Photoshop plugin called HDR Efex Pro. The new website shows a promo video with pretty high production value, and you can sign up for a demo webinar. Nik HDR efex is still two months away from release, it will have a preset system and really cool targeted adjustments with Nik's infamous Control Points. Here is a recording of an earlier webcast, if you really want to know.


Canon announces 8 - 15 mm Fisheye Zoom L-Lens


Big news for panoramic photographers who want to keep their camera bag lean and their setup versatile. Canon's new Fisheye Zoom Lens will allow circular shooting for a quick 3-way pano shoot as well as fullframe shooting for higher resolution 6-way panoramas. Plus all the in-betweens. Currently only the Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye is the only lens that comes close, expectations are high that Canon's L-glass will deliver better optical performance.

The Canon 8-15mm Fisheye is announced for the first quarter of 2011 and the rumored price is $1500.

Further reference: Official Canon Product Page, some full-res example shots by Joergen Geerds, a zoom movie showing the FOV range by Canon Europe, and a vivid discussion in the Panorama Community.


Canon G12 gets point-n-shoot HDR mode

The rumormill has spit out a feature sheet of the upcoming Canon G12, mentioning fully automatic HDR generation via 3-frame bracketing. Mind you, that this won't result in an HDR image you can tonemap al gusto, but rather in an JPEG where the camera has done all the creative work for you. Just like the Fuji EXR models and several other pocket cameras do it. Useful? Maybe. Real HDR? Hardly.

See, the problem with these dumbed-down HDR modes is that they give HDR a bad reputation. If I have to read on a witty statement like this, the damage is already done.

Other “highlights” include in-camera HDR for making hideous, over-colored tone-mapped photos by combining three images.


Apple iDevices will also have an HDR shooting mode

There's no better indication of mainstream compatibility than having a topic featured in a keynote from Steve Jobs. Around 7:00 minutes into the recording, Jobs reveals that the Camera App in iOS 4.1 will have an HDR mode out of the box. That affects iPhones and iPods, but more so several 3rd party app developers that have previously published dedicated HDR apps.

Highslide JS

We'll have to see how this turns out, Mr. Jobs already mentioned automatic 3-frame bracketing and instant processing. Highly unlikely that you will get access to a 32-bit file, in fact I suspect a frame blending algorithm ala Enfuse behind. Jobs drops a hint that at least the center exposure is saved separately from the merged result, but it's unclear if the full bracketing sequence will be accessible for re-processing.

Well, it is what it is. I would rather see Apple and Canon concentrate on features for the power HDR users who made HDR so popular in the first place, than catering to the mob. Where is the firmware update that enables extra-wide bracketing on Canon SLRs? When can we get the CoreImage bug fixed that cripples EXR support in Snow Leopard? Your toys are neat, but we demand power tools.

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Smart IBL in Architectural Rendering

For freeware programmers there's no better compliment than happy users spreading the word.

Even better, when they do that with tutorials. That's why I just love this video, making great use of Steve Pedler's latest Cinema4D sIBL loader (which, by the way, has recently been updated to include a VRay setup.) Awesome results, even without using the background from the sIBL sets.

Smart image based lighting (sIBL) overview from rob redman on Vimeo.

On the flip side, I have always argued that Smart IBL works best when used as starting point. You get a head start, from 0 to 80% in an instant, but for an exceptional lighting it pays off to add a bit more. Just like in this second user tutorial, where the background and the mood come straight from the Barcelona Rooftops set, leaving you more time to finesse the final image. The tutorial is centered around 3dMAX and VRay, but the method is completely universal.

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RED's Epic to get Variable HDR mode

The web is buzzing with the teaser that RED's fearless leader Jim Jannard has just announced. He has posted several times on the Reduser forums that they have just completed a test using the not yet shipping EPIC. The test was on the just activated, "Variable HDR mode". The test charts they shot were not stills, but shooting 24fps and 1/48th shutter and Jim claims it encompassed 18 stops (per frame). Knowing the users on the forum would want proof, Jim invited over Michael Cioni, Founder of Light Iron Digital so that he'd have a third party to confirm the tests.

Michael Cioni's comment he posted on Reduser reads:

"Today I saw more stops from a captured R3D than I could with my own naked eye. No exaggeration. I've long talked about a world in which digital technology-driven dynamic range exceeds what the human eye can render. I am dangerously close to being speechless."

Michael Cioni, LightIronDigital

Jim then went on in later posts to say that it is unlikely they will have the Variable HDR mode enabled when EPIC starts shipping. It will likely be something that can be activated later (as has been the case with their current REDOne offering).

It will be interesting to see if RED gets out of the gate before Spheron ships any camera with their HDR video technology. Spheron was tight lipped at Siggraph and said they don't yet have any target dates for a working camera to buy. Regardless, Spheron's needs to be tethered to storage whereas it would seem RED already has figured out how to do this in R3D files. Interesting times in HDR Video!

In perspective, the Spheron camera promises 20 f-stops, current Top-DSLRs range around 13 f-stops, and human vision can make out 14 f-stops in a single view. So the RED EPIC's 18 f-stops are a pretty big leap for a mass market product, which the Spheron is probably not aiming for anyway.

The gossip started on Reduser in this thread.
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Introducing Michael James as new co-blogger

HDRLabs has always been a great place of collaboration, so many people are running HDR-related projects here:

It's a nice little community of HDR nuts, that makes this place into what it is. Open, professional, cutting edge.

In hindsight, having only myself bring you the news on this blog sounds rather silly. I'm always late and too often allow things to fall through the cracks. So, today the open spirit will extend to this news blog as well: it will be a shared space for multiple news reporters.

Say hello to Michael James

Michael James is a professional real-estate photographer in Florida, his clients are realtors, builders and architects. Michael was very quick to adopt HDR into his regular workflow, building up an impressive portfolio, and he became a strong HDR advocate by sharing his thoughts on He's shot more than 700 properties in the last 4 years, delivering about twenty tonemapped images each. That’s a track record of well over 14,000 HDR images captured and tonemapped for commercial use.

Michael, say hello to the world

I want to thank Christian for inviting me to play in his sand box here at HDR Labs. He and I never discussed the following, but I'll say it now. His book The HDRI Handbook had an instrumental role in my HDR workflow. Although I've adopted some new apps and workflows over the past couple of years, many of the concepts and techniques taught in his book spilled over into my pipeline.

I look forward to sharing news, tid bits and tips and tricks about HDR here on HDR Labs in the months and years to come.
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