Sigma has done more for enthusiast APS-C than Nikon, Canon and Sony combined

There’s no reason APS-C can’t be a good enthusiast format, with the right lenses.

Full-frame is being touted as the future of enthusiast as well as professional photography. But I’d argue that APS-C is still a highly capable format and one that makes sense for a lot of people. That could be true for an even broader group if it was properly supported as an enthusiast format. And, I’d contest, one company has consistently done more to support the big brand’s users than the camera makers themselves.

The past few years have seen a wave of full-frame launches and, from the original EOS 5D through to the Sony a7 series and EOS RP, the falling prices of full-frame cameras have made them accessible to an ever-wider number of people. This focus on relatively profitable models (and lenses) is only likely to continue as the camera market contracts back to catering for a core of dedicated photographers, rather than trying to sell to everyone. But what does this mean for APS-C?

While all the buzz is around full-frame, the industry still sells more APS-C cameras and there are many, many times more of the smaller-chipped cameras in circulation than there are full-framers. Should these countless millions of cameras be seen as a temporary aberration, now being corrected, or can APS-C still be a good fit for enthusiasts?

The aberrant puny stepchild camera

Sony’s new a6400 camera has an APS-C sensor and some of the best autofocus performance around. It’s also got a decent lens on it in this photo, but it’s a lens that costs just as much as the camera itself.

There’s an argument that APS-C is simply a quirk of history: that camera makers only embraced it because it was the largest format they could manufacture affordably enough to actually sell, and that they were always going to revert to ‘full-frame’ as soon as it became cost-effective. But, while much of this is true, it that doesn’t mean that APS-C is too small or can only be a stop-gap. After all, there’s nothing intrinsically optimal about full-frame*.

After all, there’s nothing intrinsically optimal about full frame

You could equally make the opposite argument: that full-frame is an arbitrary reference point for comparisons that remained in the imagination because of the popularity of the film format it’s based on, not any inherent ‘rightness’ of it. But, I’d argue, it’s also because the SLR makers didn’t want to give up on all the money they’d invested in designing extensive lineups of lenses for film, so never really committed to APS-C as a serious format.

Serious support?

Way back, photographers could get a Nikon 17-55mm F2.8 ‘pro’ lens for APS-C cameras like the D80. Today, users can get the same lens or newer and more ambitious offerings from Sigma. (And the 35mm F1.8 DX seen here is one of only four DX primes Nikon has ever released.)

To make the most of any format, you need bright lenses. And that will mean different things to different photographers. I’m going to argue that what you really need is a choice of bright primes and F2.8 (or faster) zooms if you’re going to make a format useful to a range of enthusiasts.

Look across the ranges of Nikon and Canon and you’ll see a smattering of APS-C-specific lenses: a pro-grade 17-55 F2.8, a wide-angle zoom with a moderate maximum aperture and perhaps a macro or two. That’s often the extent of the support for enthusiasts. Sure there’ll be countless kit-zooms, maybe a mid-market 18-one-hundred-and-something and an 18-200mm for the all-in-one crowd. But look for a decent prime and chances are your options are limited to full-frame lenses.

To make the most of APS-C you really need
a choice of bright primes and
F2.8 (or faster) zooms

Want an 85-90mm equiv portrait lens? Shush! Buy a 50mm and learn not to frame so tight, or accept that you’ll have to use something longer, buy an 85mm and SPEAK UP A BIT so your subject can hear you. Looking for a 24mm equiv prime (hardly the most exotic request)? Well, sorry about that.

And it’s this lack of lens support, rather than any shortcoming of the format that I’d argue has always undermined it. Which is odd, as Nikon has, with the D300/D500 and D7000 series cameras, made some very nice enthusiast models. Likewise Canon with its EOS X0D models. But the net effect is the implication that full-frame is the ideal end-point and that APS-C isn’t suitable for enthusiasts: it’s purely a stepping-stone.

S for sufficient?

What’s that? An 85mm F1.8 equivalent prime? Fujifilm’s lens lineup lets you get ‘full-frame image quality’ when you need it, without having to lug full frame lenses round the rest of the time.

But APS-C can be a highly capable format. Like Micro Four Thirds, it can be small and affordable when you want it to be, but you can extend its capability considerably if you add a bright lens where you need it. Image sensors have improved to an amazing extent over the lifespan of APS-C, with technology improving to push both low light performance and dynamic range to new limits. And, while full-frame chips have gotten better by a similar amount, there’s no reason to think that people’s needs and expectations have become more demanding at the same rate.

APS-C can be a highly capable format: it can be small and affordable when you want it to be, but you can extend its capability if you add a bright lens where you need it

If APS-C has exceeded ‘good enough’ for a lot of applications, then what does it matter that full-frame has gotten even better? (I’ll concede that reviews can contribute to this: we can show which camera is better, but can’t tell you whether you, personally, need that improvement). Finally, it’s worth noting that in the era of mirrorless, there’s no direct connection between sensor size and viewfinder size/brightness, so there are fewer downsides than ever to APS-C.

Sigma to the rescue

Lenses like the Sigma 56mm F1.4 give you great low light performance and subject separation on crop-sensor cameras like Sony’s a6500.
ISO 1000 | 1/100 sec | F1.4

But in the end, you just need lens support. And I’d argue that Sigma has done more to support APS-C as an enthusiast format than the big camera makers have. Fujifilm should get some recognition: having picked APS-C as its enthusiast format, it’s built the most comprehensive lineup there’s ever been (and perhaps Canon’s 32mm F1.4 for EF-M is the beginning of something interesting for that system) but Sigma deserves credit not just for its commitment but also for its innovation.

Fujifilm has built the most comprehensive APS-C lineup there’s ever been

As a third-party lens maker, Sigma offered some affordable alternatives to the camera makers’ own, such as its 17-50mm F2.8, but it also branched-out to offer lenses that neither of the big two made. Its 50-150mm F2.8 remains one of my favorite lenses of the period: it offered the coverage of a 70-200mm had on film, but was smaller, lighter and cheaper, giving it a real advantage over an actual 70-200. (Pentax also deserves credit for its 50-135mm F2.8, part of the most complete own-brand APS-C lens lineups for DSLR).

But in recent years, Sigma’s commitment to APS-C has been redoubled: creating lenses that extend what you can expect the format to do. The 18-35mm F1.8 is a lens that lets APS-C cameras match the depth-of-field and low-light performance of a full-frame camera with a 27-52mm F2.8 zoom, obviating the need to upgrade, perhaps. On top of this, it’s made a 50-100mm F1.8, letting APS-C match a full-framer with a 75-150mm F2.8. Again, this lets an enthusiast who likes to dabble in sports gain ‘full-frame image quality’ for their sports shooting, without having to bear the weight and cost of full-frame when they’re shooting other subjects.

And onward

Sigma’s 16mm F1.4 is a fantastic lens for Sony E-Mount (and, of course, Micro Four Thirds)

Sigma’s continued this trend into the mirrorless space. Sony started its E-mount system with a 16mm F2.8 prime: exactly the sort of lens I was saying was always missing from the DSLR lineups (even if that particular lens is a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’). It’s produced a couple of interesting primes since then but now seems to have totally shifted its attention to full-frame. This again risking the door being closed on APS-C as an enthusiast format. But, again, Sigma has stepped in.

Not only has Sigma made a F1.4 16mm for Sony’s APS-C E-mount, it’s also created a 30mm and a 56mm F1.4. It hasn’t made any fast zooms for mirrorless, but this trio of primes again allows APS-C shooters to squeeze the most out IQ of their cameras, if they don’t need full-frame performance all the time. Something worth considering if you’re thinking about switching systems.

Another thing to consider might be that the standout lenses for the fledgling full-frame mirrorless cameras are often the 24-105mm and 24-70mm F4s: lenses that could be matched in capability by a 16-70mm F2.8 on APS-C. If anyone feels like making one. Hint, hint.

*Anyone saying it allows an ideal compromise between image quality and lens/camera size clearly hasn’t been keeping track of the increasing bulk of the lenses for the latest mirrorless full-frame cameras.

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Swiss lens manufacturer Irix is expanding into the Japanese market

Swiss optics manufacturer Irix has announced it’s expanding its presence into the Japanese market.

Founded in Switzerland in 2016 by an international team of professional photographers, Irix quickly expanded into all areas of the European market and beyond, creating unique and affordable lenses, filters and accessories for photographers around the globe.

The announcement appropriately comes ahead of CP+ 2018, which is taking place in Japan. Irix will be at booth G-62 every day over the course of CP+ (February 28th through March 3rd) and says ‘each guest will be able to test every Irix product and personally speak with Irix team members.’

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Wooden Camera Zip Box Pro – Tiny Mattebox Now Shipping

The Wooden Camera Zip Box Pro starts shipping today. Originally premiered at IBC 2018, the Zip Box Pro provides some common mod cons of a traditional mattebox but in a very compact form.

The original Zip Box was a glorified filter holder, made from rubber and with a metal clamp it simply wrapped around the front of your lens, holding a single filter in place.

The Zip Box Pro is much more of a lightweight mattebox.

Weighing about 12oz, the Zip Box Pro is super small, it can hold up to 3 stacked 4X5.65” filters, and has a ridged base so that 1-2 filters can tilt to eliminate glare.

There are no trays, the filters simply load from the front and secure via snap top clamp; included also is a carbon fibre top flag

There are two versions the Zip Box Pro Swing Away and the Zip Box Pro Clamp On.

Zip Box Pro Swing Away

The Swing Away version relies on a pair of 15mm rods in standard configuration, mounting via tension-based hinge.

The hinge has adjustment through 2 small allen threads; it can move 8mm in vertical direction as well as offering a small degree of tilt to the entire box (also for anti glare).

On the back there is a 114mm opening that can receive a cloth donut around the outside, or reduction rings on the inside to suit your front lens diameter. Available sizes are 110mm, 104mm, 95mm, 87mm, and 80mm.

Zip Box Pro Clamp On

The Clamp On version simply has a different back, there’s tension thumb clamp to attach to the front of your lens.

There are different sized clamp on backs to suit your specific lens – 114mm, 110mm, 104mm, 95mm, 87mm, and 80mm.

Isn’t it just a Bright Tangerine Misfit?

If you know your matteboxes you’ll notice straight away the similarities with the Bright Tangerine Misfit range. As an owner of both the Misfit and Misfit Atom I can chime in on their differences, as it’s clear each product brings something different to the table.

The Misfit Atom is lighter, but needs reducing donuts for clamp on use that don’t stick to one side (mattebox or the lens), this make lens changes longer-than-it-should. It does not have a swing away option.

The Misfit is the version with a swing away arm. The arm will provide more up/down adjustment than the Zip Box Pro, and also has more conventional stages with filter holder, albeit at much more weight.

The Zip Box Pro reducers look better than the Misfit Atom for sure – the Zip Box Pro Clamp On has physical different backs, making it much more efficient in the field, it also has the ability to hold up to 3 filters (v 2 on the Misfit Atom), and the anti-glare tilt action is quicker to access.

Therefore the Zip Box Pro kind of sits in the middle of the two Misfits – it offers a little more as a clamp on box to the Misfit Atom, and ‘gets by’ as a swing away before missing a few features of the heavier Misfit.

I can see the Zip Box Pro being a great option to people looking for a compact, lightweight solution for gimbal, aerial and remote camera use. It will also make a great ‘first mattebox’ for operators looking to delve into the world of professional filtration, but without too much investment and jump-up in workflow.

Prices for various options below.

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Atomos Shinobi – Well Priced Ninja V Without Recorder

The Atomos Shinobi is a new 5″ HDMI on-camera monitor with a 1000nits 1920×1080 HDR screen, known from the Ninja V. It is lightweight, runs on one Sony NP-F750 type battery and offers lots of features to help monitor the image and even sound levels. It is shipping now for $399 USD (and €399) plus tax.

The new Atomos Shinobi HDMI Monitor. Source: Atomos

In the industry, Atomos is mostly known for their HDMI and SDI on-camera video recorders, which happen to have great, bright HDR screens. The company is now launching their newest addition to their portfolio – a high brightness 1000nits 5″ 1920×1080 HDMI monitor, named Atomos Shinobi. The specs sound familiar? That’s right – it consists of the same HDR monitor as the popular on-camera recorder Atomos Ninja V.

Atomos Shinobi – Ninja V’s More Affordable Cousin

With its 200g (7 oz), the Shinobi is a lightweight device. For reference, the Ninja V weighs 320g (11.3 oz), not including the weight of the battery. The body of the monitor is made out of polycarbonate and should be durable. It has ¼” – 20 mounting points on the top and bottom, to allow flexible mounting. There is a headphone jack on the side, which allows users to monitor audio from most cameras – even if they don’t have a built-in audio headphone jack (So sound travels via HDMI). Clear on-screen audio level meters help monitoring audio, too.

As mentioned above, the Atomos Shinobi shares the same HDR 1920×1080 display and color processing found in the Atomos Ninja V recorder. The 1000nit brightness screen makes it easy to monitor the image clearly, even in daylight.  It has a pixel density of 427 PPI (pixels per inch) and is factory calibrated for color accuracy. The screen can display 10+ stops of dynamic range, when being used with Log or HLG HDR outputs. Atomos’ color science gives a complete range of in-built gamma presets to match popular cameras when shooting Log or HLG.

There is one HDMI-in port and a headphone jack on the left side. Source: Atomos

The Shinobi can run for up to six hours on a single Sony NP-F750 type battery, which lots of filmmakers probably already have in their kit. A clear on-screen battery gauge shows the status of the battery, indicating when it is running low. The battery plate is positioned in the centre for better balance when mounted to mirrorless cameras. There is one HDMI-in port, which can accept signals up to DCI 4K (4096×2160) at 30fps, or HD video up to 60fps.

Shinobi Backside with battery plate. Source: Atomos

Atomos Shinobi uses the AtomOS 10 system with the same touch-screen interface as all the other Atomos products. It allows users to quickly magnify the image or engage peaking to check focus, pull up false color, a histogram, zebras or waveform to gauge exposure, or add guides or markers to aid composition. With one swipe, all of the menus go away for a totally clear view of the image and its framing.

The Atomos Shinobi looks identical on the top and bottom side. Source: Atomos

For Log image monitoring, it is possible to easily load compatible LUTs directly into Shinobi’s built-in memory via SD card. The internal memory can take up to eight LUT files. In addition, countless LUTs can be kept on the SD card and loaded when needed. The same SD card slot can also be used to install any future firmware updates.

Atomos’ new multi-tool called Analysis sounds (and looks) quite interesting to me. It simultaneously shows the image, plus waveform, histogram, vectorscope and audio-level meters. In addition, there are multiple options inside each of these tools. This gives the operator a complete picture of what is going on within the image, at any time.

The Analysis Tool. Sourse: Atomos

A major benefit of Shinobi is that it can be properly color-calibrated, using the free Atomos software and the X-rite i1Display Pro probe. All monitors’ colors drift over time and routine calibration ensures that the colors remain as accurate as they originally left the factory. Also, there is a flip-screen function which mirrors the image – a valuable feature for vloggers.

The Atomos Shinobi is available for purchase now. The price is set at $399 USD (€399 in Europe) plus local taxes. I can see this bright monitor appeal to lots of mirrorless filmmakers, who don’t like external recording, and maybe even to beginning focus pullers, as the brightness is quite impressive.

What do you think about Atomos’ latest offering? Do you use a monitor for your work or is the camera’s viewfinder more than enough? Would you choose the Atomos Shinobi over the Ninja V? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

The post Atomos Shinobi – Well Priced Ninja V Without Recorder appeared first on cinema5D.

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Fujifilm X-T30 First Impressions

The Fujifilm X-T30 is a new APS-C mirrorless camera, offering 26 megapixels and using the Fujifilm XF lens mount.

We were shown a pre-production version of the X-T30 by Fujifilm ahead of today’s launch. We’ve shot some sample JPEG and RAW images with the camera and got some hands-on time with the X-T30.

So read on for our first impressions of the new Fujifilm X-T30 APS-C mirrorless camera…

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Fujifilm XP140 Tough Camera

The Fujifilm XP140 tough camera features a new processor, updated design and improved durability while maintaining a compact and lightweight body with a variety of automatic shooting functions.

The Fuji XP140 comes in four colours, Lime, Yellow, Graphite and and Sky Blue and will be available from March 2019 priced at £179.

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Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR Lens

The Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR is a compact, lightweight and stylish wide-angle lens for X Series mirrorless cameras. This lens features a focal length equivalent to 24mm (in the 35mm format) and has a maximum aperture of F2.8.

The Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR will be available in silver and black and will be available from March and May/June 2019 priced at £349 / $399.

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Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR Hands-on Photos

Want to see exactly what the new Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR lens looks like in the flesh?

Check out our extensive hands-on gallery of photos of the Fujifilm XF 16mm F2.8 R WR lens.

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Fujifilm X-T30 Hands-on Photos

Want to see exactly what the new Fujifilm X-T30 APS-C mirrorless camera looks like in the flesh?

Check out our extensive hands-on gallery of photos of the Fujifilm X-T30 mirrorless camera, including side-by-side comparisons with the X-T3 and the X-T20.

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Fujifilm X-T30 APS-C Mirrorless Camera

The new Fujifilm X-T30 mirrorless camera is designed for all photographers, from beginner to advanced.

The Fujifilm X-T30 comes in three colours, Black, Silver and Charcoal Silver, and will be available from March 2019 for Black and Silver and May 2019 for Charcoal Silver, priced as follows:

  • Fujifilm X-T30 Body Only – £849 / $899
  • Fujifilm X-T30 with XC 15-45mm lens – £899 / $999
  • Fujifilm X-T30 with XF 18-55 lens – £1199 / $1299

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Nikon Unveil Firmware Plans for Z7 and Nikon Z6 Mirrorless Cameras

Nikon have announced further details on the development of new firmware for its full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z7 and Nikon Z6. The firmware will enable new functions, such as Eye-Detection AF, RAW video output, and support for CFexpress memory cards. In addition, the cameras’ AF/AE functions will be improved.

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Atomos Shinobi 5-inch HDMI Monitor for $€399

The Atomos Shinobi is a high brightness 1000nit 5-inch HDMI monitor that’s perfect for vloggers, creatives and photographers. Shipping today, the Shinobi costs $399US / €399 / £339 plus local taxes.

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Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Full-frame Mirrorless Lens

The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S is the first f/2.8 pro lens for the Nikon Z full-frame mirrorless camera system. The Nikkor Z 24–70mm f/2.8 S is a professional lens that boasts an exceptionally compact build, advanced optics, and extensive weather sealing.

The Nikon Z 24–70mm f/2.8 S will be available from April 2019 priced at £2199 / €2599 / $2299.

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What would Ansel Adams Shoot with Today? Small is Beautiful by Delbert

What would Ansel Adams Shoot with Today? Small is Beautiful by Delbert – See his website HERE Poor Ansel wrecked his back carrying his very heavy 1930s photo equipment to out of the way locations. […]

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Video: first impressions of the Canon EOS RP

Got a couple of minutes? Then you have all the time you need to learn about Canon’s second full-frame mirrorless camera body. Technical Editor Richard Butler has been able to do some shooting with the camera and gives a full rundown of its feature set – and explains why it’s a compelling option for someone stepping into full-frame for the first time.

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Live Q&A with DPReview editors about the Canon EOS RP

Want to know more about the Canon EOS RP? Dying to ask a question that hasn’t been addressed anywhere else online? Join the editors of DPReview for a live Q&A about this new camera next Tuesday, Feb. 19 on our YouTube channel.

If you have a question but can’t watch live, leave it below in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer it during the event. We’ll post a direct link to the live stream shortly before it goes live. Here’s a list of what time to tune in depending on your location:

Location Time Day
Seattle 09:00 Tuesday
New York 12:00 Tuesday
UTC 17:00 Tuesday
Europe (CET) 18:00 Tuesday
Tokyo 02:00 Wednesday
Melbourne 04:00 Wednesday

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The Atomos Shinobi is a light, bright 5″ 1920×1080 HDMI monitor for $399

Atomos has released the Shinobi, a new super bright 5in 1920×1080 HDMI monitor designed with vloggers and photographers in mind.

The Atomos Shinobi weighs just 200g / 7oz thanks to its polycarbonate body and uses the same HDR display and color processing technology found in Atomos’ popular Ninja V monitor/recorder. It features a 1000nit screen for easy viewing in bright situations, has a pixel density of 427PPI, and includes a headphone on the side of the device to add external recording, even if the camera being used doesn’t have one built-in.

Atomos says the Shinobi comes color calibrated straight from the factory, but also includes calibration support using Atomos’ free software and the X-rite i1Display Pro probe. It features a six-hour battery life on a single Sony NP-F750 battery, which is cleverly placed in the middle of the device to help keep it balanced on top of cameras.

The device features Atomos’ AtomOS 10 touchscreen interface and all of the features that come with, including focus peaking, histogram, zebras, waveforms, guides, markers and magnification. There’s even a mirrored option for vloggers who will have the monitor facing backwards on their device.

Despite having just a 1920×1080 display with 60fps support, the Shinobi’s HDMI port can actually accept signals up to 4K (4096×2160) at 30fps. The screen displays 10+ stops of dynamic range when being used with Log or HLG HDR video and built-in gamma presets are included to match popular camera systems when shooting Log or HLG.

Up to eight LUTs can also be installed directly onto the Shinobi using its built-in memory, with the ability to add even more using the SD card slot. Once installed, the LUTs can be switched on-the-fly to compare one look to another.

The Atomos Shinobi is available now from B&H and authorized Atomos retailers for $399 USD.

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Kosmo Foto launches Mono 120 black-and-white film, now available for pre-order

Kosmo Foto has launched pre-orders for its Mono film in 120 format, adding the new product alongside the 35mm version launched in 2017. According to the company, the first batch of Mono 120 has entered production and will be sold exclusively through the Kosmo Foto shop. Future batches of the film will be available through Kosmo’s retailers and distributors, as well.

In its announcement today, the company explained:

Mono has proven to be really popular with film photographers – it’s now stocked in photography shops all over the world, and been bought by photographers from Greenland to Greece and Costa Rica to the Czech Republic.

Not everyone, however, shoots 35mm film. The resurgence that film has enjoyed over the last few years has also seen many people shooting on medium format cameras from humble Holgas through to Hasselblads.

So Kosmo Foto is very pleased to be able to say that Kosmo Foto Mono 120 is now available to pre-order.

According to Kosmo Foto, Mono features a traditional black-and-white chemistry that can be developed using Tetanal, Rodinal, Perceptol, and similar formulations, but it can’t be developed by mini-labs with only C41 processing. Mono 120 is suitable for use in a variety of shooting conditions, including both sunny and overcast environments.

Kosmo Foto requires pre-order customers to purchase at least three, but no more than 10, rolls of Mono 120 when ordering. Each roll costs £4.50 / $5.80 and is available now through the Kosmo Foto store; the company expects its first batch to be ready for shipment in May.

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This website uses AI to generate portraits of people who don’t actually exist

A new website called This Person Does Not Exist went viral this week, and it has one simple function: displaying a portrait of a random person each time the page is refreshed. The website is pointless at first glance, but there’s a secret behind its seemingly endless stream of images. According to a Facebook post detailing the website, the images are generated using a generative adversarial networks (GANs) algorithm.

In December, NVIDIA published research detailing the use of style-based GANs (StyleGAN) to generate very realistic portraits of people who don’t exist. The same technology is powering This Person Does Not Exist, which was created by Uber software engineer Phillip Wang to ‘raise some public awareness for this technology.’

In his Facebook post, Wang said:

Faces are most salient to our cognition, so I’ve decided to put that specific pretrained model up. Their research group have also included pretrained models for cats, cars, and bedrooms in their repository that you can immediately use.

Each time you refresh the site, the network will generate a new facial image from scratch from a 512 dimensional vector.

Generative adversarial networks were first introduced in 2014 as a way to generate images from datasets, but the resulting content was less than realistic. The technology has improved drastically in only a few years, with major breakthroughs in 2017 and again last year with NVIDIA’s introduction of StyleGAN.

This Person Does Not Exist underscores the technology’s growing ability to produce life-like images that, in many cases, are indistinguishable from portraits of real people.

As described by NVIDIA last year, StyleGAN can be used to generate more than just portraits. In the video above, the researchers demonstrate the technology being used to generate images of rooms and vehicles, and to modify ‘fine styles’ in images, such as the color of objects. Results were, in most cases, indistinguishable from images of real settings.

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