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Smartphone front cameras might soon be placed below the display

by on Jan.19, 2018, under Reviews


Photo by Julián Gentilezza

With smartphone displays getting larger and moving to an 18:9 (or 2:1 if you prefer) aspect ratio and display bezels shrinking at the same time, there is hardly any space left at the front of new devices for physical controls or other components.

Physical home buttons and fingerprint readers have already largely disappeared from the front and moved to the rear or edges of devices; however, moving the front camera to the rear isn’t really an option (for obvious reasons) which is why devices like the iPhone X or the Essential Phone have ended up with unsightly notches at the top of their displays.

A new patent by Samsung could offer a solution: moving the front camera and other components, such as the earpiece and proximity and ambient light sensors, below the screen. A camera that can see through the display would also offer an additional advantage, allowing manufacturers to place it towards the center of the screen so that the camera and the face of the person you’re talking to would be roughly in the same spot.

While Samsung’s idea definitely looks like an elegant answer to the space limitations at the front of modern smartphones, nobody has built a suitable camera yet. That said, an earlier patent that has been referenced by Samsung, Apple and LG among others, suggests using an OLED display with a very high refresh rate. The system could then activate and deactivate the screen at a very fast rate and allow for camera recording during the inactive periods.

As usual with patents, there is no way of knowing if and when the technology will make it into a production device, but the idea of a totally seam- and bezel-less display is certainly an appealing one.



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Apple will stop automatically slowing down your iPhone, will let you decide

by on Jan.18, 2018, under Reviews


Photo by Suganth

Apple’s iPhone slowdown controversy has reached what seems like its final stage last night, when Tim Cook announced in an exclusive interview with ABC News that the company would give users the option to keep their older iPhones running at full speed, even once the battery had become, in Cook’s words, ‘unhealthy.’

The controversy began a few weeks ago when several iPhone users online shared benchmarks that showed older phones—iPhone 6 and 6s models—were being slowed down to less than half their original CPU performance. This led to wild speculation about so-called ‘planned obsolescence’: the idea that Apple was slowing down phones to encourage users to upgrade to newer models.

Apple admitted to releasing an update that slowed down iPhones whose batteries had become older, but the company was vehement that it was done in the users best interest—a way to prevent unexpected restarts. Cook reiterated this point in last night’s interview with ABC News.

“When we did put [the update] out, we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention and maybe we should have been clearer as well,” says Cook, explaining that Apple did notify users, probably in the update release notes. “And so we deeply apologize to anybody that thinks we had some other kind of motivation.”

In the short cut of the interview above, this apology is all that’s mentioned, but a longer version of the interview also revealed another very interesting tidbit: Apple’s forthcoming battery update will let users choose whether or not their phones are slowed down once the battery becomes ‘unhealthy.’

As MacRumors quotes from a longer cut they were able to embed:

We’re also going to… first in a developer release that happens next month, we’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery.

[…]

…we will tell someone we’re reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart. And if you don’t want it, you can turn it off. Now we don’t recommend it, because we think people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent. Our actions were all in service of the user. I can’t stress that enough.

Whether or not these changes—and the discounted battery replacements announced a couple of weeks ago—will be enough to get Apple out of a few of the lawsuits currently being pursued against the company is yet to be seen. But for users who wanted more transparency from the company, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.



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Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 OIS WR Macro sample gallery

by on Jan.17, 2018, under Reviews


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Announced in September last year, the Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro is the first X-series lens to give full 1:1 reproduction. It’s a 122mm equivalent on Fuji’s camera bodies, and provides weather and dust resistance. The lens is a tempting option for Fuji shooters looking for a portrait-friendly prime; see how it performs with the X-T2.

See our Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 Macro sample gallery



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