photography

Autofocus on a Pi - ArduCam's new 16MP camera

ArduCam with other Raspberry Pi Cameras - v2 HQ and Autofocus 16MP

ArduCam recently completed a successful crowdfunding campaign for a 16 megapixel Raspberry Pi camera with built-in autofocus.

The camera is on a board with the same footprint as the Pi Camera V2, but it has a Sony IMX519 image sensor with twice the resolution (16 Mpix vs 8 Mpix) and a larger image sensor (1/2.53" vs 1/4"), a slightly nicer lens, and the headline feature: a built-in autofocus motor.

Autofocus performance

Getting right into the meat of it: autofocus works, with some caveats.

First, the good. Autofocus is quick to acquire focus in many situations, especially in well-lit environments with one main subject. Using ArduCam's fork of libcamera-still or libcamera-vid, you only need to pass in --autofocus and the camera will snap into focus immediately.

Modeling my Grandpa with 3D Photogrammetry

Today I released a video about how—and why—I 3D Printed my Grandpa and put him on my bottle of ketchup. Watch it here.

I sculpted a bust of my Grandpa in high school, gave it to my grandparents, got it back after he died and my Grandma moved out of her house (I wrote a tribute to my 'Grandpa Charlie'), and I kept on moving it around my office because I didn't have room for it:

Grandpa bust - terracotta by Jeff Geerling in 2001 - original statue
Grandpa by Jeff Geerling, terracotta, 2001.

I decided it had to go, but asked my extended family if anyone wanted the statue (thinking it would be sad to destroy it). One enterprising cousin suggested he could 'copy' the statue in smaller form using photogrammetry:

Beautiful 3D Print time-lapses with my Nikon D700 and Octolapse

After seeing GreatScott's video on creating great 3D Printing timelapses, I knew I had to make better 3D Print timelapses using one of my DSLRs.

I had already tried using my pi-timelapse script with a Pi Zero W and the Camera Module v1 and v2, but the quality is just so-so, plus it's not synchronized with the 3D printer, therefore at least on the Ender 3 V2, the printed object goes all over the place:

Unstabilized Pi Timelapse of 3D Print on Ender 3 V2 without OctoPrint or Octolapse

What I wanted was a stable and sharp timelapse of the entire process with high enough resolution to use in HD videos I produce for my YouTube channel.

So how did I get it working with my old but trusty Nikon D700? Read on...

I'm switching from Nikon to Sony mirrorless

First let me be clear: I'm not, nor have I ever been, sponsored by Sony, Nikon or any other camera manufacturer, and all my photography gear has been purchased with my own money (usually used since I'm not made of money).

With that out of the way, after waffling on the decision for over a year, I'm selling all my Nikon FX DSLR camera gear, and switching to Sony's APS-C mirrorless camera system.

Jeff Geerling's Nikon DSLR photo gear

But why?

For me, there are two major reasons:

Using a Nikon D750 as a webcam or for live streaming

You can use a Nikon D750 as a webcam or for live streaming, assuming you have a mini HDMI to HDMI cable and an HDMI interface for your computer.

While it's forte is stills photography, the D750 isn't bad at video; it can output up to 1080p at 60 frames per second, and has full-time autofocus, but the live view autofocus isn't that great, so I recommend manual focus if you don't have to move around much.

Why would you use a D750? Well, for the same reason you'd use most any other DSLR or mirrorless camera for video instead of a cheaper webcam or built-in camera on your laptop: the video quality is amazing!

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera - YouTube Video Series

Today I posted the first episode of a new series on the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.

Raspberry Pi HQ Camera with Tamron 8mm C-mount lens

I plan on releasing a number of videos in the series covering how to use the HQ camera in various settings, like for astrophotography, nature photography and video, as a webcam or for streaming, for time-lapse photography, and for general photography.

I'll be updating this post with all the videos as I publish them:

I replaced my office lights to get better video

Note: This blog post has an accompanying video: I replaced my office lights for better video quality.

Jeff holding overhead light in office

Earlier this year, I started recording more videos and doing live streams in my office. Originally I just used a webcam, a Logitech C920.

Jeff - Webcam C920 Before

This is a frame of video from that webcam. It's adequate, but not too flattering, and you can see there's a lot of contrast where one side of my face is bright and blown out, and the other side is 'muddy' or 'flat'.

Review: Nikon Z50

I've been shooting Nikon DSLRs since the D40 came out, and currently shoot with D700 and D750 FX bodies which have served me well for years.

In the past, I've rented a Z6—Nikon's first foray into pro-level mirrorless cameras—for a couple events, and I also own a Sony a6000 and have rented a Sony A7iii for a couple events. I have been very interested in the relentless march of technology in photography. From a couple old nice film bodies I started with, to the earliest digital cameras which had terrible IQ but the ability to instantly review and share photos, to DSLRs which quickly surpassed the quality of 35mm film photography, it has been an eventful 25 years.