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Future iPhones may use optical image stabilization to create 'super-resolution' images

post #1 of 87
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Documents discovered on Thursday show Apple is hard at work on tech to take iPhone picture quality to new levels, specifically a "super-resolution" imaging engine that uses optical image stabilization to capture multiple samples that are then stitched together to form an incredibly high-density photo.

iphone-5s-camera-20130910.jpg


With the iPhone already one of the world's most popular digital consumer cameras, Apple is looking to build on its lead in the sector with new technology that significantly boosts picture resolution without the need for more megapixels.

According to a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday covering "Super-resolution based on optical image stabilization," Apple is testing out alternative and unique uses for existing OIS tech, a much different path than rival smartphone makers.


Source: USPTO


In very basic terms, the invention uses an optical image stabilization (OIS) system to take a batch of photos in rapid succession, each at a slightly offset angle. The resulting samples are fed into an image processing engine that creates a patchwork super-resolution image.

Traditional OIS systems use inertial or positioning sensors to detect camera movement like shaking from an unsteady hand. Actuators attached to a camera's imaging module (CCD, CMOS or equivalent sensor), or in some cases lens elements, then shift the component in an equal and opposite vector to compensate for the unwanted motion.

Physical modes of stabilization usually produce higher quality images compared to software-based solutions. Whereas digital stabilization techniques compensate for shake by pulling from pixels outside of an image's border or running a photo through complex matching algorithms, OIS physically moves camera components.



Apple's filing takes the traditional OIS system and combines it with advanced image processing techniques to create what it calls "super-resolution" imaging.

According to one embodiment, the system is comprised of a camera, an actuator for OIS positioning, a positioning sensor, an inertial sensor, an OIS processor and a super-resolution engine. A central processor, such as the iPhone 5s' A7 system-on-chip, governs the mechanism and ferries data between different components.

In practice, a user may be presented with a super-resolution option in a basic camera app. When the shutter is activated, either by a physical or on-screen button, the system fires off a burst of shots much like iOS 7's burst mode as supported by the iPhone 5s.



While taking the successive image samples, a highly precise actuator tilts the camera module in sub-pixel shifts along the optical path -- across the horizon plane or picture plane. In some embodiments, multiple actuators can be dedicated to shift both pitch and yaw simultaneously. Alternatively, the OIS systems can translate lens elements above the imaging module.

Because the OIS processor is calibrated to control the actuator in known sub-pixel shifts, the resulting samples can be interpolated and remapped to a high resolution grid. The process is supported by a positioning sensor that can indicate tilt angle, further enhancing accuracy.

Considered a low-resolution sample, each successive shot is transferred to a super-resolution engine that combines all photo data to create a densely sampled image. Certain embodiments allow for the lower resolution samples to be projected onto a high-resolution grid, while others call for interpolation onto a sub-pixel grid.

Finally, the super-resolution engine can apply additional techniques like gamma correction, anti-aliasing and other color processing methods to form a final image. As an added bonus, the OIS system can also be tasked for actual stabilization duties while the super-resolution mechanism is operating.



The remainder of Apple's filing offers greater detail on system calibration, alternative methods of final image construction and key optical thresholds required for accurate operation. Also discussed are filters, sensor structures like micron lenses and specifications related to light and color handling.

It is unknown if Apple will choose to implement its super-resolution system in a near-future iPhone, but recent rumors claim the company will forego physical stabilization on the next-gen handset in favor of a digital solution. As OIS systems require additional hardware, the resulting camera arrays are bulky compared to a regular sensor module with software-based stabilization.

Apple's OIS-based super-resolution patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Richard L. Baer and Damien J. Thivent as its inventors.
post #2 of 87
Wow, that's the biggest link I've ever seen.

So it extends on the 28 megapixel panorama shots.
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post #3 of 87
Yes please, implement this Apple! That, together with a f/1.8.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

Wow, that's the biggest link I've ever seen.

That happens every now and then while Huddle converts the article to the forum. Here's the actual link:
http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=2&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=(348%2F208.5.CCLS.+AND+20140508.PD.)&OS=ccl/348/208.5+and+pd/5/8/2014&RS=(CCL/348/208.5+AND+PD/20140508)
Quote:
So it extends on the 28 megapixel panorama shots.

Can you elaborate on that? As I understand it, the patent is on OIS.
post #4 of 87
It's funny/fascinating/strange/ironic how the term embodiment as used by the US Patent office is a forerunner of the concept of use cases.
post #5 of 87

OIS is always a welcome addition 

post #6 of 87

Seeing is believing...

post #7 of 87

My understanding is that our brains do essentially the same thing. This is extremely cool. I hope they can implement this relatively soon. 

post #8 of 87
What is our incessant need to know this information. Especially stuff that apparently puts Apple ahead of the game. Let's just get it out there so Samsung can start working on it too and call it something else. Gee freaking whiz.
post #9 of 87

The trouble with this approach, as I see it, is that you most need stabilisation in low light, when the camera is going to have to resort to a slow shutter speed.  A slow shutter speed makes it rather difficult to take multiple exposures in a reasonable time frame.

 

It will be very interesting to see if this makes it into production and how effective it will be.

 

Olympus make cameras with OIS that is bordering on magic.

post #10 of 87
Another gimmick with all of the rubbish filters and apps they slap on will convince people they are actually photographers. Just another way to dumb down consumers.
post #11 of 87
Hardly a gimmick and the potential has always been there with IS systems with moving parts. Instead of increasing resolution however consider moving the sensor so every resulting pixel has three samples (RGB) and producing a standard resolution image without interpolation.
post #12 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilly33 View Post

What is our incessant need to know this information. Especially stuff that apparently puts Apple ahead of the game. Let's just get it out there so Samsung can start working on it too and call it something else. Gee freaking whiz.

...he says on an Apple rumour site

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post #13 of 87
Well my iPhone 5 camera rattles. So I've always just considered that to be optical stabilization!
post #14 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapporobabyrtrns View Post

Another gimmick with all of the rubbish filters and apps they slap on will convince people they are actually photographers. Just another way to dumb down consumers.

Have you any idea how much more we photographers are willing to pay for IS on a Canon pro lens? Do you think they dumb down the DSLRs?
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post #15 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
 

...Olympus make cameras with OIS that is bordering on magic.

 

Canon has employed optical image stabilisation for over or close to, a decade.

 

When a scene is captured on two or more frames and the camera knows exactly what the intervening movement was (shake or otherwise - from data supplied by the actuators), the processor can perform sub-pixel interpolation (almost mentioned is one phrase in the article), which produces a physically higher resolution image. This is because each camera pixel samples a little bit of the neighbouring pixel's image field, essentially sampling the image at a higher resolution that the imaging system itself is capable of. Super resolution is a fair description. Apple's implementation might be novel, Canon and others use a different means but producing a higher resolution image this way has been understood for years.

 

So, no gimmick, physically valid outcome.

 

Rumour has Apple implementing both a zoom moveable lens, allowing a faster imaging system and sub-pixel interpolation through optical image stabilisation all in a tiny package. Once the iPhone 5 has been on the market for two years, mine will be for the new phone. All possible because some boffin working in a lab discovered that it was possible to produce gain in one of those new-fangled semiconductor materials under the control of another. :) 

 

Edit - moveable lens for focussing, not a zoom lens, duh.


Edited by IQatEdo - 5/8/14 at 7:47am
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post #16 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

The trouble with this approach, as I see it, is that you most need stabilisation in low light, when the camera is going to have to resort to a slow shutter speed.  A slow shutter speed makes it rather difficult to take multiple exposures in a reasonable time frame.

It will be very interesting to see if this makes it into production and how effective it will be.

Olympus make cameras with OIS that is bordering on magic.

My read is that the misalignment issue is being taken care of by the AI that stitches. The IS is making sure the low light images are as stable as possible of course. Good IS adds two or three F/stops in a pro lens, not sure what Apple will be able to gain in speed but I suspect they may in the same ball park. I have been predicting Apple will take on the high end camera makers for years. Sapphire lenses, AI, IS and so on. If they could start using massive or multiple sensors they solve the issue of digital zoom too since there is no pixel doubling if the data is there to crop from, light stays the same on the larger or multiple sensors if the lens is up to the task. Exciting times indeed! Now we need 4K from Apple in some device (which may not be an iPhone of course) and given the MacPro and Final Cur Pro X are geared for that I suspect it is coming. I'm not hanging up my Canon DSLRs or Sony 4K video camera any time soon but one day .... maybe.
Edited by digitalclips - 5/8/14 at 7:42am
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post #17 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

Canon has employed optical image stabilisation for over or close to, a decade.

When a scene is captured on two or more frames and the camera knows exactly what the intervening movement was (shake or otherwise - from data supplied by the actuators), the processor can perform sub-pixel interpolation (almost mentioned is one phrase in the article)
, which produces a physically higher resolution image. This is because each camera pixel samples a little bit of the neighbouring pixel's image field, essentially sampling the image at a higher resolution that the imaging system itself is capable of. Super resolution is a fair description. Apple's implementation might be novel, Canon and others use a different means but producing a higher resolution image this way has been understood for years.

So, no gimmick, physically valid outcome.

Rumour has Apple implementing both a zoom moveable lens, allowing a faster imaging system and sub-pixel interpolation through optical image stabilisation all in a tiny package. Once the iPhone 5 has been on the market for two years, mine will be for the new phone. All possible because some boffin working in a lab discovered that it was possible to produce gain in one of those new-fangled semiconductor materials under the control of another. 1smile.gif  

Edit - moveable lens for focussing, not a zoom lens, duh.

I wouldn't be shocked if Apple come out with a lens that focuses not by traditional movement but by shape shifting like the human eye lens. Then again there is the Field lens technology I hope they pursue with multiple focal planes embedded in one RAW image. That would be fun!
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post #18 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapporobabyrtrns View Post

Another gimmick with all of the rubbish filters and apps they slap on will convince people they are actually photographers. Just another way to dumb down consumers.

I take it you're still using a pinhole camera and wet plates? Those guys were real photographers, but they were accused of dumbing down painting.
post #19 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

I take it you're still using a pinhole camera and wet plates? Those guys were real photographers, but they were accused of dumbing down painting.

LOL

Then there was Johannes Vermeer who seems to have had the best of both worlds. 1biggrin.gif
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post #20 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


My read is that the misalignment issue is being taken care of by the AI that stitches. The IS is making sure the low light images are as stable as possible of course. Good IS adds two or three F/stops in a pro lens, not sure what Apple will be able to gain in speed but I suspect they may in the same ball park. I have been predicting Apple will take on the high end camera makers for years. Sapphire lenses, AI, IS and so on. If they could start using massive or multiple sensors they solve the issue of digital zoom too since there is no pixel doubling if the data is there to crop from, light stays the same on the larger or multiple sensors if the lens is up to the task. Exciting times indeed! Now we need 4K from Apple in some device (which may not be an iPhone of course) and given the MacPro and Final Cur Pro X are geared for that I suspect it is coming. I'm not hanging up my Canon DSLRs or Sony 4K video camera any time soon but one day .... maybe.


Massive sensors, image stabilisation by shifting the sensor, using huge pixel counts to allow for uncompromised digital zoom - you realise these are all things pioneered by Nokia very effectively and available now in their high end phones?  But lets not give any credit to any company except Apple.  As is well known, they are the only company capable of innovation.

post #21 of 87

Always someone to poo-poo the cameras that consumers actually love and use. It's not a dumbing down. The vast majority of people can't tell the difference between a pro shot and a good pic with an iPhone 5S.

 

I do understand the technical debate and that's something many of us enjoy. But I always stop short of saying iTunes sucks and will never be successful because it isn't some wildly huge, complicated file type. Or, like I've heard many photographers say, digital cameras will never overtake film because of x,y,z.

 

It's the content, stupid. Interesting photos are interesting because of the content.

post #22 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


Massive sensors, image stabilisation by shifting the sensor, using huge pixel counts to allow for uncompromised digital zoom - you realise these are all things pioneered by Nokia very effectively and available now in their high end phones?  But lets not give any credit to any company except Apple.  As is well known, they are the only company capable of innovation.

Where did I ascribe or not ascribe credit? Where did I mention innovation? I realize a lot of things, it is my area of interest above all other. I stated I hoped Apple to bring these things to market in their inimitable way. Many of the technologies I mentioned have been around a while but not getting traction, take Field Lens systems for example. How are Nokia doing by the way?
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post #23 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post
 

 

Canon has employed optical image stabilisation for over or close to, a decade.

 

When a scene is captured on two or more frames and the camera knows exactly what the intervening movement was (shake or otherwise - from data supplied by the actuators), the processor can perform sub-pixel interpolation (almost mentioned is one phrase in the article), which produces a physically higher resolution image. This is because each camera pixel samples a little bit of the neighbouring pixel's image field, essentially sampling the image at a higher resolution that the imaging system itself is capable of. Super resolution is a fair description. Apple's implementation might be novel, Canon and others use a different means but producing a higher resolution image this way has been understood for years.

 

So, no gimmick, physically valid outcome.

 

Rumour has Apple implementing both a zoom moveable lens, allowing a faster imaging system and sub-pixel interpolation through optical image stabilisation all in a tiny package. Once the iPhone 5 has been on the market for two years, mine will be for the new phone. All possible because some boffin working in a lab discovered that it was possible to produce gain in one of those new-fangled semiconductor materials under the control of another. :) 

 

Edit - moveable lens for focussing, not a zoom lens, duh.

 

Olympus's sensor shift IS has overtaken what Canon in lens stabilisation can achieve at all but long focal lengths.  1.5 to 2 second hand held exposures are possible with an E-M1 - or around 5 stops or more.  Which is why I mentioned it being near magic.  I am well aware in lens IS has been around for quite some time.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


I wouldn't be shocked if Apple come out with a lens that focuses not by traditional movement but by shape shifting like the human eye lens. Then again there is the Field lens technology I hope they pursue with multiple focal planes embedded in one RAW image. That would be fun!


And if they did they would be following in existing footsteps:

 

Quote:
Samsung files patent for liquid zoom lens... 

http://www.gizmag.com/samsung-liquid-zoom-lens-plans/16851/

 

in 2010.

 

Quote:
 
 
 
 

Varioptic programmable liquid lens for smart phone cameras

05/05/2011
lfwprodvarioptic050511
 
 
 
 
 

The B617 programmable liquid lens integrates optical image stabilization and autofocus functionality in the same element, for use in mobile products such as smart phones. It is shock-resistant and uses up to 90% less power than a VCM actuator. It fits into typical phone cameras.
Varioptic
Lyon, France

www.varioptic.com

 
post #24 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

Always someone to poo-poo the cameras that consumers actually love and use. It's not a dumbing down. The vast majority of people can't tell the difference between a pro shot and a good pic with an iPhone 5S.

I do understand the technical debate and that's something many of us enjoy. But I always stop short of saying iTunes sucks and will never be successful because it isn't some wildly huge, complicated file type. Or, like I've heard many photographers say, digital cameras will never overtake film because of x,y,z.

It's the content, stupid. Interesting photos are interesting because of the content.

You are totally correct. Apple as always brings technologies once costing a fortune to a level where people don't even know they have it but just use it. Mind you, if not for the those initially willing to pay the big bucks for new toys and companies always pushing the boundaries there would be no fun for the enthusiasts so i love both ends of the game.
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post #25 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Olympus's sensor shift IS has overtaken what Canon in lens stabilisation can achieve at all but long focal lengths.  1.5 to 2 second hand held exposures are possible with an E-M1 - or around 5 stops or more.  Which is why I mentioned it being near magic.  I am well aware in lens IS has been around for quite some time.



And if they did they would be following in existing footsteps:

http://www.gizmag.com/samsung-liquid-zoom-lens-plans/16851/

in 2010.

What is your beef? You seem to have an axe to grind here and seem bitter for some reason. I want my AAPL to go up and I want new toys to buy from Apple.

You are welcome to whatever floats your boat and I promise not to spend pages of text finding fault with it. Olympus is great equipment, I have an OM1 and OM2 and a dozen lenses I also use an Olympus Tough for scuba. I have more Canon equipment than I should. I have several Nikons and lenses and I have a Sony HDR and now a 4K video camera. I love technology especially in the video and photography field. So when i enthuse about what i hope Apple have coming please don't feel a need to tear me to shreds ... ok?
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post #26 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

LOL

Then there was Johannes Vermeer who seems to have had the best of both worlds. 1biggrin.gif

Ha! So says the dumbed down iPad painter David Hockney, if I'm not mistaken.
post #27 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapporobabyrtrns View Post

Seeing is believing...

That is the first thing that came to mind. Not so much because it is technically impossible, because it isn't, but rather you are adding a lot more variables into the mix. It will probably work well for landscapes but will have little usability for dynamic photos. I'd like to be proven wrong here. Even if I'm right I still see this as a useful feature especially if it means real optical stabilization in iPhones as a default feature.
post #28 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post
 

 

Olympus's sensor shift IS has overtaken what Canon in lens stabilisation can achieve at all but long focal lengths.  1.5 to 2 second hand held exposures are possible with an E-M1 - or around 5 stops or more.  Which is why I mentioned it being near magic.  I am well aware in lens IS has been around for quite some time.

 

 

Perhaps it didn't read this way but I was adding to, not at all criticising, your comment, sorry. Nice to read the name Olympus actually, really admired their film based SLRs back when...

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post #29 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapporobabyrtrns View Post

Another gimmick with all of the rubbish filters and apps they slap on will convince people they are actually photographers. Just another way to dumb down consumers.

The act of taking a picture is an art form that is not tied to the hardware. Good artists accomplish their results with the hardware they have on hand, new tools mean more opportunities to explore their creative potential.
post #30 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Ha! So says the dumbed down iPad painter David Hockney, if I'm not mistaken.

I haven't seen that new film on the topic have you? I'd like to see it. My mind is open but if I'd been around back then and known some science I'd sure as hell of use the camera obscurer! lol
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post #31 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I haven't seen that new film on the topic have you? I'd like to see it. My mind is open but if I'd been around back then and known some science I'd sure as hell of use the camera obscurer! lol

No, I didn't know about the film, only read reviews of the book, sorry to say. Enormously interesting, though. I'll be looking out for the film.
post #32 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

The act of taking a picture is an art form that is not tied to the hardware. Good artists accomplish their results with the hardware they have on hand, new tools mean more opportunities to explore their creative potential.

Personal example I have to prove your point. In the days of dark rooms and chemicals when i was a teenager, I totally gave up on extreme shallow DOF macro photography which I longed to perfect. Only when I got to see the 8 x 10 would i discover the focus just missed the tip of a fern frond or a butterfly's antennae. It was too costly and frustrating for me. Thanks to DSLRs, preview zoom and IS and so on, now 40 years later, I can select which part of the antennae is in focus and know what the results will look like as I take the photograph.
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post #33 of 87
Prior art: This same technique has been used by JPL for the last couple of decades to create super resolution images from mars rovers. Doing the same thing with a smart phone or any other camera is an obvious extension of the original idea. "Super resolution" is even the same name JPL used. I have been looking for ways to use this trick long before this patent and I am less than ordinarily skilled in the art of digital photography.
post #34 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

No, I didn't know about the film, only read reviews of the book, sorry to say. Enormously interesting, though. I'll be looking out for the film.

The guy behind the video toaster (if you are old enough to remember that) made it.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/tim-jenison-johannes-vermeer/#!K5vHI
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post #35 of 87
Originally Posted by gilly33 View Post
What is our incessant need to know this information. Especially stuff that apparently puts Apple ahead of the game. Let's just get it out there so Samsung can start working on it too and call it something else. Gee freaking whiz.

 

Well, it’s public knowledge, so it’s not as though our knowing about it makes Samsung know it any sooner. Not sure how you could believe that.

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post #36 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrangerFX View Post

Prior art: This same technique has been used by JPL for the last couple of decades to create super resolution images from mars rovers. Doing the same thing with a smart phone or any other camera is an obvious extension of the original idea. "Super resolution" is even the same name JPL used. I have been looking for ways to use this trick long before this patent and I am less than ordinarily skilled in the art of digital photography.

Agreed. I suspect nano technology will be brought to play in this field if it isn't already. Also i suspect arrays of many nano sensors will be better than one large one. Given a fabulous lens (sapphire??) the potential is mind boggling. The paradigm shifts coming in digital photography are going to be a wild ride ...
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nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
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post #37 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by bugsnw View Post

Always someone to poo-poo the cameras that consumers actually love and use. It's not a dumbing down. The vast majority of people can't tell the difference between a pro shot and a good pic with an iPhone 5S.
Nor should they be able to. It isn't the camera that makes a pro shot professional. At least not for professionals that take any effort at all when it comes to composition. A sports photographer on the other hand is very dependent upon his hardware.
Quote:
I do understand the technical debate and that's something many of us enjoy. But I always stop short of saying iTunes sucks and will never be successful because it isn't some wildly huge, complicated file type. Or, like I've heard many photographers say, digital cameras will never overtake film because of x,y,z.
Having worked for the last thirty years In Rochester NY, I've seen first hand many comments to the effect : "digital cameras will never overtake film because of x,y,z". Sadly that attitude caused many people to loose their jobs. In a similar vain cell phone cameras rapidly decimated the consumer low end point and shoot market as the technology rapidly became more than good enough.
Quote:
It's the content, stupid. Interesting photos are interesting because of the content.

Exactly! A professional in fact may employ many types of cameras to create the results he wants. He chooses the camera based upon what he is trying to create, the content. That content originates in the brain first.
post #38 of 87

Super-resolution images only if you hold the light-weight device even steadier than you have to already.

post #39 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

Super-resolution images only if you hold the light-weight device even steadier than you have to already.

Fear not, technology will take care if that for you 1smile.gif

Plus I think you maybe confusing optical zoom with sensor cropping. For the same picture taken under the same conditions: A sensor with the appropriate lens that is 10 x the size (of a 35 mm equivalent) requires the exact same exposure as a tiny 1.6 crop factor Canon DSLR.

To zoom in by cropping on the super image might result in the same size and crop as using an optical zoom but the latter has the square law to contend with and thus a choice of F/Stop and shutter to compensate.
Edited by digitalclips - 5/8/14 at 9:09am
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
Enjoying the new Mac Pro ... it's smokin'
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini.
Reply
post #40 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


LOL

Then there was Johannes Vermeer who seems to have had the best of both worlds. 1biggrin.gif

 

Love Vermeer's work. Beautifully rendered lives of often ordinary people.

Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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