mardi 6 novembre 2018

9 years of smartphone photography

I just received my brand new Google Pixel 3 and I'm quite excited about it, especially for its camera. It's supposed to be one of the best cameraphone of 2018, at least according to my favourite reviewers:  The VergeLes Numeriques and the tech guru MKBHD.
As I wrote in a previous post, I'm going to review this new Pixel 3 in comparison to the Fujifilm X-E3. But before all that, I wanted to look back on my previous phone's photos to appreciate how good those camera had become.

2009 - HTC Magic

2010 - HTC Legend

2011 - HTC Desire S

2014 - Motorola Moto X

2012 - Samsung Galaxy Nexus

2015 - Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

2016 - Samsung Galaxy S5

2016 - Samsung Galaxy S7

2017 - Samsung Galaxy S8

2018 - Google Pixel 3

Smartphone cameras definitely improved a lot in the past 9 years! Nowadays, I'm almost always happy with the colors and sharpness of a photo taken with my phone (granted there is enough light). It's not yet perfect though: I took the last picture with the Pixel 3 at dawn and there are some noticeable compression artefacts in the sky gradient. This should be easily avoided by shooting in raw but I hope I won't have to do it too often... 🤞🏽

samedi 20 octobre 2018

Low light photography

Like a lot of people, I've always loved taking photos. First, with my parents' cameras, mainstream Kodak or Pentax analog cameras, then in 2000, with my brother's one megapixel digital camera. I bought my first camera only in 2003: a cheap 3 megapixel HP camera. For the first time I could finally take pictures of anything without having to worry about anything.


One of my first shots with the HP PhotoSmart 735, in low light, trying not to use the flash...


It was awesome! I probably took one thousand photos with that camera in two years. One third of what my parents took in 30 years. Of course most of those photos are as uninteresting as the one above, but still, when I look at those photos it reminds me of what I was doing back then, a memory that would otherwise be completely lost in my brain. For me, photography has always been first and foremost a way to keep (good) memories. The beauty of a photo only has always come second to me. So I've always tried to take photos as close as possible to what my eyes witnessed. That's why I've always avoided flash or why I've never liked photo filters.

Most of the time I've managed to get the picture I wanted, unless it was in a low light environment, like inside a room. Without flash, those pictures has always been hard to take: I often ended up with blurry pictures and red tones like the one above. It didn't look like what I saw with my eyes.

Since 2003, I bought multiple cameras, each time hoping I would no longer have trouble taking photos in low light. It indeed improved each time. Nowadays, I mostly take photos with a FujiFilm X-E3 and I'm often happy with the result!


Taken in Rotterdam with the FujiFilm X-E3


The photo above was taken on the go, without a tripod. Thanks to the somewhat large sensor and the optical stabilisation of the lense, I can now take those kind of pictures in one shot. I just love it. Though it's not perfect yet. That picture was taken in 1/4 seconds. Which means that the people moving on the bottom right of the picture are blurry.

Fortunately, a lot of companies are working continuously on improving digital photography. And one company recently started working on it: Google. With their Pixel phones, they showed what can be done by adding a lot of computing power to a camera. And the results have been quite impressive. So I can't wait to finally get the Pixel 3 that I pre-ordered and check how good it is, particularly in low light.

I'll try to make a series of blog posts comparing real life uses of a camera with a great APS-C sensor like the X-E3 and a smartphone that heavily uses computational photography like the Pixel.

mardi 5 mars 2013

Stream your music to remote speakers

If you want to listen to music playing on your Macbook on remote speakers, this post is for you.

My setup :
- a Macbook playing music with Spotify
- a Google TV hooked up with great speakers

Simple $25 solution:
- install Airfoil on the mac
- install any airplay app on the Google TV, such as Airtight
- the setup is straightforward

Other solution (free or  $40 if you cannot live with relaunching the app every hour):
- install Nicecast on the mac
- install tinyPlayer on the Google TV
- in Nicecast, open the Source tab, select your source app (for example Spotify)
- in Nicecast, click on Start Broadcast
- in Nicecast, open the Share tab and note the streaming address. (for example http://192.168.1.2:8000/listen.m3u)
- in tinyPlayer, click on the menu button ( ⋮ ) and select More
- in tinyPlayer displayed menu, in the Stream category, click on URL and enter the previous address without the listen.m3u, for example http://192.168.1.2:8000

I prefer the Nicecast solution over the Airfoil one because with Nicecast you can stream the music to any device/app that can open an audio stream. Also, from my experience, Nicecast is less prone to network congestion.

But my current favorite solution uses some cool open source apps:
- icecast: a streaming server, it streams any sound data sent to it to the network
- soundflower: a sound app router, it redirects sound from one app to another
- butt: a streaming tool,  it sends sound from a sound device to icecast (or shoutcast)

The setup will look like :
spotify → soundflower → butt → icecast → any device that can stream http audio

By the way, soundflower is necessary because it can mute the macbook's speakers while redirecting spotify's output to butt.

Installation
Soundflower and butt both have .dmg package. To install icecast I suggest using another really useful tool for MacOS: brew. It's an apt-like tool. Once installed, just run brew install icecast.
Note that soundflower need a restart of MacOS.

Configuration
During the configuration I suggest you leave Spotify playing some music so you know where the sound is going.
icecast need a configuration file. You can use this simple one : icecast.conf.
In the soundflower menu, select None for both output:


Then click on the Audio Setup item. In the following dialog, right click on the Soundflower (2CH) item and select "Use this device for sound output".


At this step, you should have no sound at all.

You can now run icecast: icecast -c ~/path/to/icecast.conf

You can finally configure butt. Select Soundflower (2CH) in the Audio Device menu. Click on ADD on the Server category and fill it with the info from icecast.conf.


At this step, there should be no sound yet but you should see that butt is receiving sound.
To start streaming, click on the butt's Play button.


You should now be able open the music stream by accessing http://192.168.1.2:8000 from another device with a browser, VLC, or any other audio player.





dimanche 3 juin 2012

S'installer Ă  Chicago

Yey! Après 2 semaines à Chicago, j'ai emmenagé dans mon nouvel appartement! Craiglist + PadMapper m'ont permis de trouver un studio de 40m2 meublé, à 30min en transport du centre. Et pour 700$, c'est tout à fait dans le budget de Pictarine :)

Et sinon, pour donner une idée du coût de la vie à Chicago :

trajet metro/bus : 2.25$
carte illimité transport metro/bus : 86$
internet cable 3 Mega : 47$
forfait mobile illimité (2GB fair data) sans engagement : 60$
menu burger Arby's, frites, coca : 5$
pack 12 bieres budweiser 12oz (35cl) : 8$
café small starbucks : 1.80$



Pour le moment j'ai l'impression que la vie est moins cher qu'à Paris, mais je regarderai ça d'un peu plus près dans un mois.

jeudi 17 mai 2012

Paris - Chicago, J-4

Encore 4 jours et je quitte Paris pour Chicago. J'ai envie de partager à nouveau sur ce blog mon regard sur les US comme je l'avais fait lors de mon séjour de 6 mois à Atlanta en 2006.

En attendant, quelques mots pour fixer ma pensĂ©e dans le silicium : j'aime la France, j'aime ses valeurs, j'ai aimĂ© les Ă©tudes supĂ©rieures gratuites et de qualitĂ© dont j'ai bĂ©nĂ©ficiĂ©es, j'ai aimĂ© les 3 ans de mon premier travail, j'ai aimĂ© que les impĂ´ts que j'ai payĂ©s m'ont permis ensuite de crĂ©er Pictarine, j'aime la communautĂ© qui s'est crĂ©Ă©e autour du Camping.

C'est donc avec un peu de tristesse que je quitte ce pays qui m'a tant donné. Je ne sais pas pour combien de temps je le quitte, et j'y laisse à nouveau une partie de ma famille et amis.

Mais Ă  cĂ´tĂ© de cette tristesse, il y a l'Ă©norme joie de pouvoir continuer l'aventure Pictarine dans les meilleures conditions. Et avec Guillaume, on compte profiter de cette chance d'avoir Ă©tĂ© sĂ©lectionnĂ©s Ă  Excelerate Labs pour propulser Pictarine au sommet!