Tag Archives: telephoto

Oppo Find X3 Pro brings microscopy to phones!

Oppo Find X3 Pro

There is always an outlier when it comes to phone innovation and we have to give it to Oppo in 2021 as it seems to have created a phone that really delivers features that seemed impossible just months ago.  The Oppo Find X3 Pro can deliver the usual 4k 30p and 60p video and up to 720p 480fps slow motion along with the common standard of 240p at 1080p.  Where the phone jumps ahead of the pack is the inclusion of a real microscopy camera module that has a ring light to boot.

The Microscope camera can deliver a mind-altering 60x microscopy range magnification that looks so good that you might think it was taken with a professional clinical microscope.   It will not be enough to show blood cells that usually require over 100x to be appreciated but it delivers detail on small insects, fibers, textures, and electronics that previously required a complicated camera setup attached to a multi-lens instrument. → Continue Reading Full Post ←

Huawei P20 Pro Slow Motion 960fps 720p Mode!

Huawei P20

Huawei’s P20 Pro is a beautiful phone that merges the sleek design of the Samsung Galaxy series with the Apple front screen notch while not compromising in camera design with a 3 sensor + lens combo that may be the best camera solution on a phone yet. In fact, DPreview has an article on the stills camera performance here. They call it “the most innovative mobile device we have seen in quite some time”  which is a tall order considering how good the competition camera’s like in the Pixel 2 XL, Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X have gotten.

What interests us, however, is the slow-motion mode which allows the phone to shoot a 0.25sec burst of 720p video at 960fps which is slightly above the time recorded by the Galaxy S9 and Sony Xperia XZ series of last year but still below the new Xperia XZ2’s 0.4 seconds at 720p this year.  We were not impressed with the quality of either phone when it came to overall resolution and artifacts so we were skeptical about the Huawei P20 Pro since the start.

Huawei P20 Pro Main Specs:



Type AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Size 6.1 inches, 93.8 cm2 (~81.9% screen-to-body ratio)
Resolution 1080 x 2244 pixels, 18.7:9 ratio (~408 ppi density)
Multitouch Yes – With gestures
 Battery 4000 mAh
Operating SYSTEM OS Android 8.1 (Oreo)
Chipset Hisilicon Kirin 970
CPU Octa-core (4×2.4 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A53)
GPU Mali-G72 MP12
Internal MEMORY Card slot No SD Expandable
Internal 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
CAMERA Specs Primary Triple: 40 MP (f/1.8, 1/1.7″, OIS) + 20 MP (f/1.6) + 8 MP (f/2.4), Leica optics, 3x optical zoom, phase detection and laser autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash
Features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama mode.
Video 2160p@30fps, 1080p 60fps, 720p@960fps
Secondary 24 MP, autofocus, f/2.0, 1080p

MSRP in the UK:

Asia and Europe release, no planned release for the USA but will work on GSM carriers if imported or bought as an import model.

HUAWEI P20|P20 Pro: Meet the new Huawei P20 Series by Huawei:


HUAWEI P20 Pro: 3X Optical Zoom by Huawei: → Continue Reading Full Post ←

Solar Eclipse Slow Motion Recording?

We have received quite a few messages about how to shoot the solar eclipse next Monday, August 21st 2017 in slow motion.  After all the more frames you capture, the more temporal detail that will be preserved but there is a threshold when diminishing returns from shooting high fps take a toll on image quality, dynamic range and color accuracy.

In short, the rule of shooting the total solar eclipse at high speed will be based on timing on one hand and detail retention on the other. We have found in our research that you really do not need more than 120fps in order to get a great solar corona snapshot with enough detail and variance.  24 and 30fps regular frame rates are also good and perfectly acceptable.

When to shoot?

A totality even during a solar eclipse averages about 2 minutes only. That is the point at which the moon obscures the sun completely and the elusive solar corona is visible to the naked eye and optical instruments.   The corona is so dim compared to the regular shine of the sun that it is completely washed out when you point cameras at the fiery orb.  The Eclipse is the rare occasion where you are able to see and record the magnetic field of the sun interact with its atmosphere of super heated gas.

2017 Total Solar Eclipse’s Path Across the U.S. by NASA:

So the first part is getting there into the totality path which you can see in red from the NASA animation above.  If you are not inside that path you will not experience the full totality of the event, and will only see a partial solar eclipse.

If you do not know when or where exactly the eclipse will be this finder application on the web by VOX will make it very easy to find. Just use your zip code to see if you are covered by it. Below is the Salem Oregon 97301 Zip code shown.

Now that you are ready to watch it and track it, you will need a steady tripod and or ideally an electronic telescope mount.  Since totality is only slightly above 2 minutes in duration even a cheap electronic mount will be able to keep the sun centered.  You will need to mount your camera and use the appropriate solar filter to frame the sun and not damage your camera sensor.  A direct sun shoot can heat up sensor surfaces and cause some damage to the pixel array. Some sensors are better than others at standing the sun’s harmful rays but if you can avoid it by using solar film in the front of your lens. ND and Variable ND filters still allow a lot of infrared light in which can damage the lens.

Note that your eyesight need much more protection for direct viewing. The video below shows 5 ways to look safely at the eclipse.

5 ways to safely view the 2017 total solar eclipse by The Oregonian:

Beware fake solar eclipse safety glasses by CBS News: → Continue Reading Full Post ←

Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 with 120fps HD!

Panasonic Lumix ZS70

Panasonic has released a new compact super zoom camera in the  Lumix DC-ZS70 (TZ90 outside of US & Canada). The camera is no slouch with a 20.3 MP new MOS Sensor with their Lumix Depth from Defocus or DFD AF technology; present in cameras like the GH5 & GX85. The camera also re-stocks the bundle with the compact lens that is able to offer 30X, 24-720mm in 35mm equivalent terms.

The camera also has 4k video at 30fps but excludes for some reason the 24p mode which film makers crave. Slow motion features are present but modest at 1080p 60fps and 720p 120fps which work across the entire 30x zoom range.  This camera is a powerful point & shoot option that won’t break the bank at $447.99 USD MSRP.

Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 Main Features:
  • 20.3MP 1/2.3″ MOS Sensor
  • Leica DC Vario-Elmar 30x Zoom Lens
  • 24-720mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • 1.166m-Dot Live View Finder
  • 3.0″ 1.04m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • UHD 4K Video Recording at 30p
  • 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.
  • ISO 6400 and Up to 10 fps Shooting
  • 4K Photo Modes
  • Focus Stacking and Post Focus
Panasonic Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 Video Features:
Video Resolution 3840 x 2160 (30p), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 30p), 1280 x 720 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
Shooting Modes
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Dolby Digital
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60i / 24 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Dolby Digital
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60i / 17 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Dolby Digital
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 20 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1280 x 720 @ 120p / Mbps, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1280 x 720 @ 30p / 10 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC

Panasonic Lumix TZ90 by Panasonic:

Looking at the video performance it’s easy to see the Panasonic TZ90 will not win any prizes with a 30x lens zoom range. The images look a bit dreamy and soft depending on the lens mm range. The 4k footage is detailed but not class leading with chromatic aberration apparent. It is also hindered by it’s smallish 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm) BSI sensor which at 20MP is a little cramped for light gathering. The dynamic range suffers greatly in harsh contrast conditions but there is no doubt the camera will match or exceed most smartphones.

The AF uses the Depth from Defocus algorithms that work most of the time but the continuous performance is not good for VLoging as faces will come in focus but hunt sporadically creating a completely blurred image at times.  The DFD technology works perfectly for still images but suffers in video as evidenced in the GH5 Autofocus tests that have created quite a bit of negative press for that camera.  Panasonic needs to fix these algorithms in video mode to be able to at least remain in focus with face detection.  Loosing focus while perfectly still on faces with little motion makes this technology a no go for the needs of VLogers worldwide.

The Slow Motion capability should be marginal and the zoom range will be good for far away subjects like birds and other wildlife. 120fps is hardly class leading as the Sony RX cameras offer better value for money “See our Best Slow Motion Cameras of 2016”  albeit with a more limited zoom range.

There is a small crop when shooting 4k compared to 1080p so you will for instance get 35mm in 4k when full HD will use the whole wide aspect at 30mm. You will have to keep that in mind.

Vlogging with the Panasonic Lumix TZ90 by Photogearnews:

We will try to get slow motion samples of the Lumix TZ90 / ZS70 camera when available but rest assured this is not a slow motion enthusiast’s tool.  You should look at Sony’s RX100 III & IV for a better overall camera. We expect the RX100 IV to be price competitive within $100 USD in less than a year’s time as new models are introduced. If you can afford a more pricey but increasingly future proof camera with amazing Slow Motion and continuous AF capabilities then we suggest you check out the RX100 V.

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New LUMIX TZ90 / DC-ZS70 Press Release:

24mm Ultra-Wide-Angle 30x Optical Zoom* in a Compact Body for 4K VIDEO/4K PHOTO

Newark, NJ (April 18, 2017) – Panasonic is proud to introduce a new LUMIX DC-ZS70 as a new model in the popular “Travel Zoom” ZS series. By upgrading the sensor to 20.3-megapixel resolution, the LUMIX ZS70 boasts a 30x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent: 24-720mm) packed in a pocket-sized body while enabling 4K VIDEO/4K PHOTO capture. The new tiltable rear monitor allows users enjoy a variety of selfie shots including 4K selfies and panoramic selfies.

The versatile ultra-wide-angle 24mm 30x optical zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens is useful in virtually all situations. Having passed Leica’s stringent standards, the LUMIX ZS70 boasts exceptional optical performance with stunning clarity and minimum distortion and flare. 

The new 20.3-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor allows users to capture high-quality images even for high-sensitivity recording in dimly lit environments. 

The LUMIX ZS70 is capable of recording smooth, high-resolution QFHD 4K videos in 3840 x 2160 at 30p (60Hz) in MP4. *1*2 Taking advantage of 4K technology, users can capture fleeting photo opportunities at 30 fps in 8-megapixel equivalent resolution as a 4K PHOTO. Additional functionality based on 4K technology are also available. Post Focus enables users to easily select the in-focus area after shooting. The Focus Stacking function allows users to adjust the depth of field after shooting by combining multiple images shot with the Post Focus function, all inside the camera. In addition, the LUMIX ZS70 incorporates a Light Composition function with which the camera synthesizes the images by choosing and saving brighter pixels. This makes it possible to produce more luxurious, dramatic images of situations such as fireworks or night scenes inside the camera with ease. 4K Live Cropping in video recording achieves stable panning or zooming with high-resolution 4K video footage. Users can make perfect Full-HD videos by adding impressive effects after recording the original footage in 4K. Thanks to camera’s digital operation, this can be done without physically moving the lens.

For even faster response and higher mobility, the LUMIX ZS70 integrates the DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology*3 to achieve ultra-high-speed AF of approx. 0.1 sec. It contributes to high-speed burst shooting at 10 (AFS)/5 (AFC) fps. The LUMIX ZS70 also features a variety of AF functions, such as Touch AF, 49-point AF, and Low-light AF that help users to get the best results in a wide range of shooting situations.

The 3.0-inch 1,040k-dot rear monitor with touch control tilts up by 180 degrees and the camera goes into Self Shot mode automatically once the monitor is flipped. In Self Shot mode, various functions for selfies are available on the LUMIX ZS70, including a newly added 4K Selfie mode. The beauty functions enable users to shoot portraits – especially of women – more attractively with Soft Skin, Defocusing and Slimming effects. After shooting, aesthetic/make-up retouching can even be applied inside the camera with the Beauty Retouch function. And users can choose to capture the background clearly or defocus it depending on the situation with Background Control mode. Panoramic pictures can also be shot in Self Shot mode. A 0.2-inch 1,166k-dot EVF (Electronic View Finder) with eye sensor is also equipped for easy shooting even in sunny outdoor conditions. The Control Ring on the lens barrel enables quick, intuitive operation. For more creative freedom, RAW image recording, Creative Control filter mode, and Creative Panorama mode are available.

With Wi-Fi® connectivity, users can also connect the camera to their smartphone or tablet to expand the flexibility in shooting, storing, and sharing images. 

Packing a powerful 30x optical zoom and 4K VIDEO/4K PHOTO shooting performance in an ultra-compact body, the new LUMIX ZS70 offers the enjoyment of a high-quality photo/video shooting and selfie experience in versatile ways any time and any place.

Other Features

5-axis HYBRID O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)+*4, Creative Control, Panorama Shot, AC/USB Charging

Hasselblad True Zoom Signaling the Future?

Hasselblad True Zoom moto mods

The recently announced Hasselblad True Zoom is an add on module for the Moto Z + Moto Mods™ smartphone platform which lets you add modules to your already very capable phone to increase it’s feature set.  A Pico Projector, a much larger battery, a JBL speaker set and now the Hasselblad True Zoom 10x Optical zoom are the current back plate options for this new ecosystem.

What may look like a gimmick to some; it may be the advent of a personalized and very powerful experience for the future of smartphone use. What if you could add the advantages of a larger camera sensor and higher frame rates with built in processing to your phone when needed. What if you could add a built in microscope back plate to the phone for biologists on the field or a sensor module for tracking scientific concepts with the phone as a central part of experiments. The sky seems to be the limit here.

Hasselblad True Zoom Specs:

  • Compatible phones
  • Moto Z Droid, Moto Z Force Droid, Moto Z Play Droid
  • Dimensions: 152.3 x 72.9 x 9.0 – 15.1 mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Sensor resolution: 12MP CMOS BSI
  • Video resolution: 1080p Full HD at 30fps
  • Mics: 2 Stereo
  • Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch
  • Pixel size: 1.55 um
  • Aperture: f3.5-6.5
  • Zoom: 10x optical/4x digital
  • Focal length: 4.5-45 mm (25-250mm 35mm equivalent)
  • Macro : 5cm @1x – 1.5m @10x
  • Flash: Xenon flash
  • Image stabilization: Still: OIS Video: EIS
  • ISO equivalent – Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Capture modes – Photo, panorama, video, professional, night landscape, night portrait, sports, day landscape, back light portrait
  • Focus modes- Manual focus: select focus ROI Focus lock
  • Pro mode: Focus, white balance, f-stop, ISO, exposure
  • White balance: Auto, incandescent, fluorescent, sunny, shade
  • Color effects: Color, black & white
  • Red eye reduction: Auto
  • File format –  Still: JPG, DNG (RAW) Video: MPEG4
  • Storage Internal phone: 32GB-64GB microSD phone: up to 2TB Cloud: Unlimited via Google Photos
  • Battery life: Phone dependent
  • Connectivity: Phone connectivity: 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi
  • GPS: Phone: Enhanced geolocation
  • Carrying case: Included

What jumps at you right off the bat is the 10X zoom lens and features like dual microphones, real flash and RAW image recording.  Also the real limitations when it comes to video recording start to sour the excitement a bit.  At a maximum frame rate of 30fps 1080p the camera has no high speed mode at all, (big dissappointment) here was a chance to improve on the limited zoom reach of slow motion capable phones.

The RAW photo mode is not new for phones either; many already offer a RAW image recording format which helps with developing the detail and color of images but with a sensor size of 1/2.3″ there is really not much to be excited about here either.   The aperture limits of  f3.5 wide -6.5 10x zoom is also slow even by phone standards which have in some cases f2.2 wide angles.  With small sensors the aperture of a lens matters a lot. It seems the Hasselblad True Zoom is making a case for it’s name by making the lens the centerpiece and focus of the entire module design.

Introducing Moto Mods™ – by Moto:


The real value of the Moto Mods ecosystem is that it is very easy to extend a phone’s capabilities by just snapping a magnetic back. In a few iterations we may find that the camera we would really like to buy is just one module away and easy to add to your existing phone. → Continue Reading Full Post ←