Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the give-your-mom-an-easter-bokeh dept.

Input Devices 127

New submitter katiewilliam (3621675) writes with a story at Hardware Zone about a new feature that Google's working on for Android phones' built-in cameras: the illusion of shallow depth of field in phone snapshots, which typically err on the side of too much in focus, rather than too little. Excerpting: "The Google Research Blog [note: here's a direct link] revealed that there's quite a fair bit of algorithms running to achieve this effect; to put it in a nutshell, computer vision algorithms create a 3D model of the world based on the shots you have taken, and estimate the depth to every point in the scene."

cancel ×

127 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

2 1/2 D (1)

thsths (31372) | about 5 months ago | (#46795987)

There is no 3D modelling involved. And the results are, well, mixed.

Re:2 1/2 D (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46796095)

computer vision algorithms create a 3D model of the world

Sounds like 3D modelling to me, albeit guessed at from the content of a 2D photo.

Re:2 1/2 D (5, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46796251)

Depends what you mean by 3D modelling. Looking further at the article, it's a depth mapping technique for each pixel. Which is more analogous to DOOM than Quake. Remember those restrictions? No bridges in the map, no tables. Just a single height for the floor and a single height for the ceiling at any map position.

As the OP says it's 2.5D not 3D.

Re:2 1/2 D (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 5 months ago | (#46796859)

If you have a depth channel you could displace a 3D plane in camera space and render that in 3D. So 2.5D/3D is a bit arbitrary.

If you had a perfect 3D model and the one photo though you still wouldn't have enough information to render true Depth of Field. The real problem isn't 2.5D/3D it's the fact that there is no parallax information for occluded information. That can be interpolated well enough for simple situations but ultimately you're trying to infer data which will cause artifacts.

Re:2 1/2 D (1)

mlyle (148697) | about 5 months ago | (#46796911)

Note a depth mapping technique for each pixel isn't Doom-style restrictions unless the camera is in an unusual orientation.

You can have tables, etc. Every pixel has a distance from the camera to the object estimated. Since the camera is probably in a horizontal location this works. What you -can't- know about are objects behind other objects from the camera's standpoint, or stuff behind the camera. This is mostly OK for faking depth of field.

Why? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796005)

Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect? It seems just as stupid as adding a large lense flare.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 5 months ago | (#46796055)

Because often, what you can't see is as important as what you can. Imagination is important. Composition is important, and emotion is important.

Re:Why? (2, Funny)

citizenr (871508) | about 5 months ago | (#46796517)

and emotion is important.

but I have aspergers you insenitive clod!

Re:Why? (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 months ago | (#46796863)

Those who claim aspergers have no right to call anyone insensitive.

That is just SO wrong.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 5 months ago | (#46796745)

Because often, what you can't see is as important as what you can. Imagination is important. Composition is important, and emotion is important.

Right, the thing is though theres more going on to depth of field than just "This part of the image in focus, and that part out of focus". I mean its definately a useful effect because it pretty much defines what part of the photo your supposed to be looking at, but good shallow DOF really is quite an amazing effect down well and terrible when done bad.

On my 50mm lens (I recomend a 50mm to ANYONE whos playing with SLRs. Its a cheap lens, handles great in low light and very easy to take attractive photos with) the depth of field also interacts with light so you see these great specks of light all through the background and other esoteric effects that really enhance the effect. If I just put the background out of focus with a blur, it'd be just.... well blury.
Finally its not a linear blur either. Some parts are more in focus than others and this adds to the effect because its how your eye does it too.

The test photo in the article just makes it look like someones put a lasso tool on the model, inverted it, then just done some sort of blur on the background. Its just not the same as the DOF on a real wide apearature camera.

Re:Why? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 months ago | (#46797249)

You're describing Bokeh [wikipedia.org] . And yes, it is one of those techniques that done well, can greatly enhance a picture. There are entire web sites and discussion groups devoted to the topic - which lens, camera, technique is best and who is a total poser. There have been numerous attempts to do this in software, all of which have yielded meh results. I suspect that Google's attempt will be another one of these, but who knows. Perhaps they will finally figure out how to let photographers match their $15,000 DLSR rigs with an $800 smartphone and a .99 app.

Re:Why? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 5 months ago | (#46799265)

I'm a little bummed about this. My first reaction was, "Oh, cool. This is just like the idea I had a few days ago." Then, I realized they're trying to do it from a single photo instead of taking advantage of the camera hardware to obtain actual depth info.

You have a lens that can focus. Take your shot, throw the focus off as far as you can (in whichever direction you can move the focus farther, by some definition of farther), then take a second shot. You can then compute some reasonable approximation of distance for every pixel without guessing. You can also likely compute a reasonable bokeh based on the size and location of bright areas in the out-of-focus areas and based on how much they spread in the out-of-focus shot. It's not perfect, but I suspect you could get close enough to fool just about anybody.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46798209)

Posting anonymous because I just modded you up. A few things I wanted to add: First, yes, absolutely agree about cheap 50mm lenses. Canon makes a $100 one that is awesome (much nicer ones can be had for $300). That said, I've toyed around with the simulated depth of field in the new camera app and actually the results I got were better than the demo photo (which, as you rightly pointed out, looks like a cheap lasso selection w/blur). The effect is actually pretty convincing; it does, however, create undesirable artifacts; the overall quality of the photo seems a good bit lower. As a geek, I love it; as a (very) amateur photographer, it makes me want to grab my SLR and purchase a replacement 50mm lens (the first one died from fall damage--real life is not like borderlands2).

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46796109)

Because it makes the intended subject stand out more.

Re:Why? (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about 5 months ago | (#46796231)

Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect? It seems just as stupid as adding a large lense flare.

lenses that can achieve a narrower field of focus are the more expensive ones, so there is established artistic value. Lens flare can also have value, and is really difficult to use effectively, so there is probably also a market for that.

Re:Why? (1)

grcumb (781340) | about 5 months ago | (#46797325)

lenses that can achieve a narrower field of focus are the more expensive ones, so there is established artistic value.

I'm not really taking issue with your conclusion, but a decent quality 50mm lens (widely known as a portrait lens because of its shallow depth of field) can be got new for about $200. And I got a beautiful 1984-vintage 105mm prime lens for $250 a few years back. It's an exception to the rule, yes, but sometimes the glass is less expensive than the camera body. That said, if you've got good lenses, they can make up for a lot of shortcomings in the camera body.

My own feeling about algorithms such as this is that they'd be better off chasing the ideal of perfect focus for everything - or better yet, for pseudo-3D renderings - those would be more desirable goals, IMO. I suppose it's possible to get the same effect as really good glass, but something tells me the laws of physics (well, optics) will always win over computed logic.

Re:Why? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 months ago | (#46799213)

decent quality 50mm lens (widely known as a portrait lens because of its shallow depth of field)

Widely known where? Round these parts it's a 90 or a 105, assuming you're talking 35mm film.

Re:Why? (1)

Geeky (90998) | about 5 months ago | (#46798879)

There are other reasons they're more expensive than purely artistic. They cost more to make for a start, but also give you benefits such as a brighter viewfinder and the ability to take pictures in lower light. The last is less relevant now, because high ISO performance is modern DSLRs is so good, but even so, more light getting in helps the camera focus in low light.

Re:Why? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 5 months ago | (#46796285)

Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect?

It's for camera phones: crappy, non-adjustable lens and cheap, noisy sensor. So it isn't a good image; deliberately blurring the picture can distract you from the fact that it is *not* a good image.

Re:Why? (2)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 months ago | (#46796925)

Quality bridge cameras ($300+ models) also have the ability to mimic a narrow depth of field. That can be very useful in wedding party photography, etc, where capturing candid portrait shots is critical to the photographer's success, and he will not have time to swap between lenses on his DSLR.

On my Fuji HS25EXR, the camera identifies the subject with its face recognition technology and takes 2 or 3 shots, The foreground is handled normally but the extra images are used to double or triple expose the background for the shallow DOF effect. Results are often quite good and can reduce the amount of post work by quite a bit.

Re:Why? (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 5 months ago | (#46797741)

Quality bridge cameras ($300+ models) also have the ability to mimic a narrow depth of field.

If you have a real camera and lens, just shoot with the lens wide open and fast shutter speed; you'll have a narrow depth of field with no computer wizardry needed.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46798101)

All you need is the lens wide open (Low F-stop number). If you use a fast shutter speed, you'll just get blur.

Re:Why? (1)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 months ago | (#46798343)

I guess a lot depends on what you define a "real camera" to be.

For me, any camera body + lens combo that costs more than $750 is unrealistic. That's more than I can afford to replace if I lose it while kayaking. I'm happy with bridge cameras, and there are advantages in being able to go from wide angle to telephoto without swapping lenses. It does mean that you have to rely on the firmware for narrow DOF, etc-- but it is a reasonable trade-off.

Re:Why? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46796295)

Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect? It seems just as stupid as adding a large lense flare.

For the same reason they use spotlight and shade in theatre shows, and floodlights on a sports field.

If you want a utilitarian document recording a place or event, such as a traffic cop taking a picture of a illegally parked car, then you can't do better than having every pixel in focus.

If you want something with artistic merit then you can use focus just as you can use light and shade to draw attention to one part of the image, and away from the background.

Re:Why? (5, Insightful)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46796409)

Consider this picture [flickr.com] of a spider dining on its prey--possibly a cricket.

What's important? the spider, the web, the meal.
What's not important? the storm drain, the foliage

It's not completely successful, but both the foliage and the storm drain are out of focus, while the spider, the meal, and the web are in focus. The aperture control on a large sensor camera lets the photographer select where the blurriness ends, and where it begins. Generally, the longer the focal length of the lens, the more dramatic the effects of opening up the aperture. Since camera phones use short focal length lenses, the blurring effect is quite subtle, and is often insufficient to draw in the viewers eye.
In this particular case, it's a macro shot, so even a very narrow aperture (f/16) involves some blurriness. Quite often, macro-photographers use very narrow apertures-- f/16-f32, in an attempt to resolve all of the interesting aspects of their subjects.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46799407)

That is dumb. Less information. I want to have everything crisp. I want to see everything I can. Not some artsy bs. Damn hipster old notalgic tech bullshit.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Will.Woodhull (1038600) | about 5 months ago | (#46796853)

Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect?

Portrait photography.

Or any time when the presence of crap in the background degrades the photo. That candid picture of your Mom sharing a moment with your aunt would look great if it were not for the Ronald McDonald billboard in the background.

Re:Why? (1)

jandersen (462034) | about 5 months ago | (#46798245)

That candid picture of your Mom sharing a moment with your aunt would look great if it were not for the Ronald McDonald billboard in the background.

Hmm, perhaps. But I have increasingly over the last few years seen so many, brilliantly clear photos with fabulous colour etc etc which are so achingly dull because the photographer has no sense of the artistic and no experimental curiousity. Despite the fact that with a digital SLR camera it is cheaper and easier than ever to experiment: just try and then throw out the failures.

Personally, I have started on taking deliberately imperfect pictures; I am particularly fond of under-exposure - it is surprising how much structure you can find in a seemingly black photo, using eg. edge-detection in GIMP.

creamy bokeh (1)

LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) | about 5 months ago | (#46796029)

comes with a new 'Lens Blur' feature that lets you adds creamy bokeh to your pictures.

Yeah, hi, I have a question. Does it have to be creamy?

Re:creamy bokeh (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46796115)

creamy bokeh

Be careful not to stutter when you say it.

Re:creamy bokeh (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46796525)

Yeah. What if you want catadioptric bokeh?

I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796037)

First off, small lenses typically have terrible distortion that, even when corrected post, lend themselves to lower contrast images that often have weird artifacts as the LoCA is scrubbed out. Secondly, my full frame lenses suck in a hell of a lot more light. Thirdly, photographic lenses are often full of speciality optics that eliminate corner performance problems such as saggital chroma, lens flare/ghosting and of course, Google Glass/smart phones are only really good in daylight for things up to two metres away.

You'll take my Haruo Sato designed lenses away from me when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 5 months ago | (#46796103)

As is obligatory in any discussion of phone cameras, there is a fundamental difference between a device designed solely for photography, and one where photography is a relatively minor feature in a device designed mostly for mobility and communication. Advancements in this second field should be considered in an entirely different light (if you'll pardon the pun).

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46796161)

Distortion lowers contrast? I thought internal reflections lowered contrast. Also, while all you've mentioned is true, I'd expect that lenses of moderate quality (and reasonable aperture) are probably possible, if expensive, in the thickness budget (which seems to be the limiting parameter in phones). But people certainly aren't ready to pay for such lenses in cheap phones.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 months ago | (#46796205)

He seems to be mixing some terms a little bit. Correcting distortion lowers sharpness -- though for any image displayed only at 1080p, it probably makes no difference. Correcting some other aberrations, like chromatic aberration (CA) lowers contrast (and sharpness). Higher sensitivity in a digital sensor lowers contrast a whole lot more, though. That, and poorly-controlled lens flare, usually the major driver of low-contrast images out of smartphones. If you take a picture in daylight, don't point it right at the sun, and have a clean lens, the picture comes out pretty good.

I don't have a good sense as to how good the smartphone lenses are now. But people are now making pancake lenses for interchangeable-lens cameras that are tiny and of very high quality. I suspect that it's not to hard to engineer good smartphone lenses, either.

The problem is that with such a small sensor, you need very bright lenses to get shallow depth of field or good low-light performance, and those are just plain hard to make.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46796219)

Wow. You're so awesome. You own a big-boy camera and know all the fancy photography words!*

That's what you wanted to hear, right? Because I can't think of any other good reason for you to post this.

The "muggles" have all got cameras now. This is just a nice bit of software that'll make their shots a bit more fancy.

Get over it.

(*disclaimer: so do I, but I don't use it as an excuse for scoffing at those who don't)

You'll take my Haruo Sato designed lenses away from me when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

No-one's coming for your lenses, you self-aggrandizing lunatic.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46796259)

Wow. You're so awesome. You own a big-boy camera and know all the fancy photography words!*

This being slashdot, I think it's appropriate to discuss the technical aspects of photographic lenses. You might even learn something by reading it with an open mind.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 5 months ago | (#46796609)

You'll take my Haruo Sato designed lenses away from me when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

But it's not an Apple board, so there's no need to be so smug about it.

Re:I'll stick with my F 1.4 lenses, thanks (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46797007)

This being slashdot, I think it's appropriate to discuss the technical aspects of photographic lenses.

The AC wasn't trying to start a discussion. He just wanted to sneer down his nose at people using "inferior" tech.

We all know real cameras take better photos than smart phones, and this software isn't going to suddenly close the gap, so I don't know why the AC was acting so threatened and insulted.

Google rules when it comes down to blurriness. (4, Funny)

MindPrison (864299) | about 5 months ago | (#46796041)

Just take a look at the auto-blurring used in street-view, nothing beats it. My neighbors dogs face was blurred instead of their kid. ;)

Re:Google rules when it comes down to blurriness. (1)

koan (80826) | about 5 months ago | (#46796283)

It blurred my penis but not my face.

Re:Google rules when it comes down to blurriness. (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 5 months ago | (#46796553)

My neighbors dogs face was blurred instead of their kid. ;)

just line on "Guess Her Muff"

Lumin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796099)

Lumin pretty much does this by the virtue of how it works. Nothing new to be seen here.

Not new (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796105)

Another 'new feature' that's been out for over a year. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/focustwist/id597654594?mt=8 Kinda like the 'awesome' photosphere which MSFT had out for 2 years (as photosynth) before they did it.

Re:Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796217)

...and in BlessN900 app for Nokia N900 since 2010.

Re:Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796313)

Lumin has been out for years and does it too.

Skynet target mode (1)

hessian (467078) | about 5 months ago | (#46796117)

When Google finally reveals its true name, Skynet, this is the technology that will allow its T-1000s to exterminate most of humanity.

But don't worry, they'll be sure to take an instagram of your death and post it to your Google+ livestream so your friends and family can mourn.

(There will also be ads for bereavement-related products. Neither Google nor Skynet are monopolies, honest.)

Call me a rock wielding barbarian (2, Informative)

smchris (464899) | about 5 months ago | (#46796127)

But I absolutely, totally LOVE depth of field. Screw the art school graduates. I bought a large screen digital tv for the illusion of a window upon the world.

I would like to think -- I sincerely HOPE -- that artificially inducing audience "focus" by depth of field will be as quaint as silent movie captions in 50 years.
 

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (4, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 months ago | (#46796223)

You know, your eyes have a substantial depth-of-field effect, too. You often don't notice, because your mental ability to pay attention to objects is tied pretty strongly to where your eyes are actually focusing, so anything you look at is in focus (because you focus on what you're looking at). However, you can really notice when you look at images that have deep DoF or, say, 3D movies (where they can't possibly get the DoF right).

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46796497)

IIRC, Gravity had 3d lens flare.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796587)

It also had a crappy story. This one is so much better and shorter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxiZj3747ZI. I wouldn't mind ditching lens flares along with crap stories.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796225)

I would like to think -- I sincerely HOPE -- that artificially inducing audience "focus" by depth of field will be as quaint as silent movie captions in 50 years.

Of course, I immediately wondered if they made porn that way. Rule 34!

My guess is that Rule 34 will be alive and well in 50 years. Not everything about technology is transient.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#46796245)

The human eye has it's own depth of field characteristics plus a much greater dynamic range and resolution than any large flat screen.

So your large screen is going to fall short of that illusion.

"subject" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796247)

I would like to think -- I sincerely HOPE -- that artificially inducing audience "focus" by depth of field will be as quaint as silent movie captions in 50 years.

The point of inducing focus is because not everything in the frame is as important as everything else.

Yes, if you're on top of the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China, you may want to have the entire panorama in focus.

But if you're at (say) a street festival you may only want your friends in-focus, and not the fellow in the background who is mid-bite through a kebab. The important part of the picture for the grand parents is the smiling grandchild, not the playground's wing set in the background.

Can boken be overdone? Sure. A 1mm think depth of field is overdoing it, but so is shooting at f/16 everywhere. But even a thin DoF and the right can result in some magical results:

http://regex.info/blog/2012-05-28/2001#i110569bw

Re:"subject" (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#46796389)

Can boken be overdone? Sure. A 1mm think depth of field is overdoing it, but so is shooting at f/16 everywhere. But even a thin DoF and the right can result in some magical results

Just because you know what you're talking about, and we're among friends:

It's bokeh, with an 'h'. And it refers to the character [wikipedia.org] of the blur, not the blur itself. If you've got an image, say f/3.4, a hipster might say "nice bokeh" to you, but he means that you have a good lens, not that you've selected a good aperture. And then he might also suggest you make a "glisse" print. ;)

And, of course, shallow depth of field is a huge fad, and there's an entire generation of kids who won't ever be able to tell where they were in any of their childhood pictures. *That* will seem very "early 21st century" in a couple decades.

Re:"subject" (2)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 5 months ago | (#46796533)

Bullshit.
A well done wide-open portrait with tack-sharp eyes and everything else blurred connects you with the model like no other shot could. I know it sounds hipsterish, but it's an immutable reality.

Re:"subject" (3, Insightful)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46797703)

And, of course, shallow depth of field is a huge fad, and there's an entire generation of kids who won't ever be able to tell where they were in any of their childhood pictures.

Wow lets step back a bit. Though I guess someone called the automobile a fad at some point.
The battle for wider apertures dated back to post war. The 1950s was all about big lenses, wide apertures. I fondly recall using a Canon R mount 50mm f/1.2. Not a very sharp lens but provided incredibly narrow depth of field. Mind you it wasn't until the FE mount in the 80s they managed to get a 50mm f/0.95, something which Leica managed quite a lot earlier on their M series cameras in the 1960s.

Now that the history lesson is over, how about an art lesson. Depth of field is used to direct attention. If you want someone looking at a subject rather than the image on the whole you can isolate the subject by blurring the background. I did this on my holidays and I'm going to look back and think about what I looked like at the time who the hell cares where I was. If I wanted to take a photo of where I was I would do so. Now on the flip side, why the hell would you want to ruin a perfectly good photo of the Pantheon or some other wonderful place by standing in front of it? Why would you want to give up artistic control to some passer by telling them to look through the viewfinder and push the button.

You seem to know the technical details of how something is done, but not have a clue of why someone would do it. Go to your grandpa and ask him if he used wide apertures when he took photos. You'll likely find him don his oversize framed glasses and say "Kid, I was the master of bokeh before it was cool."

Fad indeed.

Re:"subject" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46798419)

You and your friends know what you look like. No need to take a picture of you with a blurred Pantheon in the background. Take yet another picture of it with you in front to show you were there, if you feel like.

I don't know if this is a fad but the left picture in TFA is so much better than the right one. I can see everything, the photographer can't know what is important for me. Photography != painting

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 5 months ago | (#46796311)

Depth of Field isn't an all or nothing thing. Thegoal is being able to control it so you can create the image you want. Love a picture that's sharp corner to corner? Great! Want a picture that emphasizes the subject and blurs the background or vignettes the corners? That's great too!

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 5 months ago | (#46796363)

This was my initial reaction too, it's like glorifying the gramophone record in an age of practically unlimited bit depth and sampling frequency. However, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the full precision of current tech. Lo-fi effects can be nice in the right place, finally we have the ability to choose, to get the occasional buglike feature instead of the other way round.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

Animats (122034) | about 5 months ago | (#46796427)

Some movie directors are still bitching over the disappearance of film grain. There are companies putting unnecessary film grain in digital images. [cinegrain.com]

We need to get to 48FPS or better, so slow pans over detailed backgrounds look right. No more strobing!

(Instead, we're getting 4K resolution, which is only useful if the screen is in front of your face and a meter wide.)

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | about 5 months ago | (#46796675)

About as unnecessary as room tone to a soundtrack.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (2)

bws111 (1216812) | about 5 months ago | (#46796617)

Interesting that you use the phrase 'window upon the world.' Ever look through a real window with an insect screen on it? Now imagine that instead of clearly seeing the house across the street, what you see is the house with a neat grid in sharp focus upon it. That is what you are asking for.

A photo where everything is in equally sharp focus is absolutely not what your eyes see, unless you are standing on a cliff and seeing only things that are far away.

In real life your window upon the world would only have a very small area in sharp focus.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about 5 months ago | (#46796867)

But I absolutely, totally LOVE depth of field. Screw the art school graduates. ..... -- I sincerely HOPE -- that artificially inducing audience "focus" by depth of field will be as quaint as silent movie captions in 50 years.

You are talking as if choosing a shallow depth of field is something new, and necessarily "artistic". It's neither. A shallow depth of field is a practical way of eg taking scientific natural history (think bugs) photos without the background distracting; also of taking people's portrait pictures ditto. It has been used that way since the early days of photography. Generally, until now, only the more expensive cameras have had this kind of control; snapshot cameras (of which phone cameras are a modern example) have not, so that much is new.

And OTOH some artistic photography does have great depth of field - there was a group of photographers called the "Group F64" who took such photos. You have probably heard of Ansel Adams (or have certainly seen his pictures) who was a member of this group.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796963)

I suggest you go to a broadcasting industry tradeshow exhibition and find the stand where they show off UltraHD/Super Hi-Vision.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UltraHD

They sometimes have a small theatre where they show off 8K on a projected screen. 7680x4320 pixels, 80Hz (although they have faster framerates) and Rec. 2020 colour space.

You do get an effect of 'hyper reality', meaning that the image you see on the screen (such as a tree at a distance) is resolved at a higher quality by the eye than reality (a tree at the same distance, but in real live). I didn't really notice at first since I have better than average vision while wearing glasses, but my mother definitely noticed who has much worse eyes.

So using a high resolution and sharp image would actually be noticeable as being to sharp.

You may also be interested in what the BBC is doing with 300 fps television, this framerate helps our eyes track moving objects on a screen. Our eyes tracking moving images helps us to fully resolve the moving object. The sharpness difference between 50fps and 300fps is quite amazing.

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (2)

xigxag (167441) | about 5 months ago | (#46797195)

If anything, DOF will become more important as home screens get larger and sharper. It's an important tool in showing the audience where to look in a shot. Otherwise, staring at that gigantic screen would sometimes be like a live action "Where's Waldo."

Re:Call me a rock wielding barbarian (1)

Teun (17872) | about 5 months ago | (#46797509)

The stuff produced for large screen HD is typically done with lenses that by themselves have a great bokeh as it is called, no need to have processing done by Google.

And by consequence you must have endured many instances where this 'isolating of the subject by minimal depth of field' was intended to be part of the scene.

Engrish (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46796129)

there's quite a fair bit of algorithms

I'll wait for version 2, with 50% more algorithms.

A more interesting feature is vertical video (3, Interesting)

reg (5428) | about 5 months ago | (#46796265)

The best feature of the new camera app is that if you try to take vertical video it puts up an overlay telling you to hold it right! Hopefully everyone will copy this!

Re:A more interesting feature is vertical video (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796601)

The best feature of the new camera app is that if you try to take vertical video it puts up an overlay telling you to hold it right! Hopefully everyone will copy this!

Vertical Video Public Service Announcement [youtube.com]

Yep (1)

koan (80826) | about 5 months ago | (#46796273)

It's a pain in the ass to use on the tablet "too fast.... too fast"

God help us (1, Interesting)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 5 months ago | (#46796299)

Just what is needed . . . another Photoshop-esque filter for all the douchebag hipsters of the world to make their snaps look even more deep and brooding.

Re:God help us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796573)

Maybe if you didn't spend so much time around these "douchebags" it wouldn't be such an issue for you, eh?
 
The solution is provided by a simple reevaluation of the problem.

Overcoming hardware limitations with software (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#46796347)

The summary makes it sound like this is an algorithm tuning problem - "err on the side of too much in focus" - which isn't the case. It's a byproduct of sensor size.

Even with real cameras the rule of thumb is a full frame (35mm film equivalent size) camera, at a given focal length, has a stop "better" depth of field than a camera with an APS-C sensor taking the same picture - so a Nikon D7100 would need to shoot at f/2.0 to get the same blurring as a D800 shooting the same photo at f/2.8.

Most camera phone sensors are rather tiny compared to real cameras.

On a side note... pedants may going to have fun nitpicking all of this apart. :-)

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (2)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 5 months ago | (#46797073)

DoF has no link to FoV. Hence, having an APS-C or Full-Frame sensor does not change the DoF. It just barely changes your "feeling" of it, because of the larger FoV.

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46797715)

I hear comments like this all the time. The reality is you've changed your FoV so you're now taking a completely different picture. If you want all other things staying as equal as possible, then to take the same photo on an APS-C camera as a Full Frame camera you'd need to switch to a narrower lens and step back from the subject. Oh your subject - camera - background ratio now changed, and so has your depth of field.

Or are you going to tell me all camera are equal because if you over expose your image by 100 stops you get a perfectly white frame on every camera?

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 5 months ago | (#46797949)

This is not about photography. This is about Optics.
All cameras are different. And If you think that the camera types you would use, with their sensor size norms, aperture norms, quality norms, are the only one in the world : you are wrong.

 

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46798201)

It's about camera software. You view that it isn't about photography is outright indefensible.

From the first line in the fucking original source:

One of the biggest advantages of SLR cameras over camera phones is the ability to achieve shallow depth of field and bokeh effects

YOU are wrong. Now please take your pointless and irrelevant argument elsewhere.

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 5 months ago | (#46798219)

The claims. The previous claims are only about optics. I am not talking about the content of the article (yet)...
I feel sad for you now...

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46797167)

Exposure values, or "stops", have little to do with why smaller sensors have greater depth of field.

For a given field of view, a smaller sensor requires a shorter focal length than a larger sensor. Given the same f-stop, longer focal lengths have shallower depths of field. So, to produce an image equivalent (other than for DOF) to that of a full-frame camera with a 50mm lens, an APS-C camera will use a 35mm lens, and will have a correspondingly deeper DOF.

Some cameras deal with that limitation by using filters to reduce the amount of light reaching the lens and increasing the aperture size. The Pentax Q series, for example, puts electronically controlled two-stop neutral density filters in the lenses to help with both DOF and diffraction given the tiny 1/1.7" and 1/2.3" sensors that they use.

Re:Overcoming hardware limitations with software (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46797721)

Exposure values, or "stops", have little to do with why smaller sensors have greater depth of field.

Correct, however opening the aperture is a workaround to creating as similar an image as possible providing you haven't hit the limits.

Nokia is knocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796373)

and Teh G is gonna have to pay. AGAIN!

More Google innovations: (2)

Snufu (1049644) | about 5 months ago | (#46796393)

Digital TV with artificial interference.
Digital audio player that simulates permanent scratches in vinyl records.
Automobile interior that smells like horseshit.
Digital camera that 'exposes' (erases) your photos if you open the battery compartment incorrectly.

Re:More Google innovations: (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 5 months ago | (#46796567)

digital audio systems that minimize background noise.

Re:More Google innovations: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46797369)

-> Digital TV with artificial interference.

We see that all the time in movies. Whenever there is electrical interference, the computer monitors always behave as though they are old-school CRT monitors :)

Can it simulate bokeh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796469)

I have blurred out backgrounds of photos to bring attention to the foreground, but it never looks the same as when you actually use a large apeture on a SLR.

Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (2)

SeaFox (739806) | about 5 months ago | (#46796493)

The reason cell phone camera err on the side of too much in focus is because they originally were all fixed-focus lenses. If you didn't have a high depth of field, you'd have to make sure your subject was an exact distance from the camera to get them in focus. Even once we had focusing lenses the auto-focus software wasn't the greatest at determining what the real subject of the photo was supposed to be.

You know what would give a great shallow depth of field? A better lens in the camera. A lens with an aperture that could open up to lower f-stops would give a REAL depth of field effect, plus it would make the camera just plain better at taking pictures -- better low-light performance, less noise in high ISO speeds captures.

Re:Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 5 months ago | (#46796613)

And you know why it will never exists? Because the shallowness of the DoF is determined by the diameter of the aperture AND you cannot simply put a diameter larger than a few mm on these devices. This compared to the 30mm~70mm entrance aperture of the objectives on current DSLRs.

That's why they are trying the computational way...

Re:Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (2)

bws111 (1216812) | about 5 months ago | (#46796679)

You need more than a good lens. You need a bigger sensor, and more distance between lens and sensor. And that ain't gonna happen in a phone whoe goal is to be thin and lightweight.

Re:Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796817)

So if you want to take proper pictures, you need to use a proper camera? Whudathinkit?

Re:Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 5 months ago | (#46796835)

The problem is the focal length of the lens not the quality of the design. With such a small sensor (due to the size constraints of a cell phone package) you have to have extremely short lenses. Even if you had F0.8 in order to get a reasonable portrait focal length you're looking at single digit focal lengths.

That wouldn't work (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 5 months ago | (#46797347)

unless the sensor were much larger. even at fast focal ratios, a cell phone sensor still has close to infinite depth of field if you're focusing on any subject closer than a few inches away. The smaller the sensor size, the shallower the depth of field for a given focal ratio. That's why large and medium format lenses don't have to be as fast as 35mm.

Re:That wouldn't work (0)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 5 months ago | (#46797373)

The smaller the sensor size, the shallower the depth of field for a given focal ratio.

Hahahaha, but no.

Re:Better idea: Improve cell phone camera lenses. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 5 months ago | (#46797735)

You know what would give a great shallow depth of field? A better lens in the camera. A lens with an aperture that could open up to lower f-stops would give a REAL depth of field effect, plus it would make the camera just plain better at taking pictures -- better low-light performance, less noise in high ISO speeds captures.

A typical phone camera has an aperture of around f/1.8 to f/2.5. You care to tell me how you would get past the laws of physics to improve on this? I mean the lens is already nearly a ball to focus light on such a tiny dot. One could increase the sensor size but then the lens would need more physical separation to the sensor making the thickest component in a phone thicker still.

Software AF is simple contrast detection. Every phone I've used has the ability to select the subject to focus on, so why would this have any baring on depth of field.

My eyes!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46796827)

Could they not have used somebody a little less unattractive for the first comparison photos? Jesus Christ.

I think I know why they are doing this!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46797317)

I think I know why google is doing this, it's to combat complaints about google glass taking unwanted/unwelcome images of people.
This is an attempt to help aleiveate people's fears about glass. If they can say that all the background of images taken with glass will be blurred beyond recognition that will go a long way with normal people that were worried about being filmed by glass

I am not a fan of glass in anyway shape or form! Blurred background or not !
BNZ is too lazy to login

*is* working on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46797331)

*is* working on? It's already released.

I saw this a few days ago on my son's upgraded nexus phone. The neat thing is you can adjust the focus after taking the picture.

The problem with blur (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 5 months ago | (#46797375)

The problem with "artistic" blur: shrink the image a bit, and the blur is gone!
(Try it and be amazed).

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46797959)

And my ex-wife simulated Shallow Depth of Character!

hope they allow exporting of depth map (1)

jinchoung (629691) | about 5 months ago | (#46798355)

that would be really useful for extracting mattes and such in photoshop!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>