SanDisk Unveils the World’s Largest microSD Card, A 400GB Monster
Today, SanDisk released the world’s highest capacity microSD card to date: the 400GB SanDisk microSDXC Ultra UHS-I card. It’s targeted at mobile users who have a lot of data to store on their smartphones, including high-res photos and videos.
The card comes about a year after SanDisk previously broke records by creating a 256GB microSD card that was the world’s fastest of its size.
This time around, this new Class 10 card looks pretty robust, too: it’s water, shock, temperature, and even X-ray proof.
“Mobile devices have become the epicenter of our lives, and consumers are now accustomed to using their smartphones for anything from entertainment to business,” said Jeff Janukowicz, Sandisk Research Vice President. “We are collecting and sharing massive amounts of data on smartphones, drones, tablets, PCs, laptops and more.
“We anticipate that storage needs will only continue to grow as people continue to expect more sophisticated features on their devices and desire higher quality content.”
Western Digital, the company that now own SanDisk, says it leveraged its “proprietary memory technology and design” to allow for the increased capacity.
“We continue to push technology boundaries and transform the way consumers use their mobile devices,” said Sven Rathjen, Vice President of Western Digital. “By focusing on achieving new technology milestones, we enable consumers to keep up with their mobile-centric lifestyles with storage solutions they trust.”
The new microSD card is ideal for Android smartphone users and can hold up to 40 hours of Full HD video. The transfer times are fast too, with a read speed of 100 MB/s (that’s about 1,200 5MB photos per minute) and write speed of 10 MB/s. The card is also said to load apps faster, thanks to its adherence to the A1 App Performance Class specification.
Karl Lagerfeld Is Releasing A Collaboration With Vans
Vans will officially collaborate with legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld to give the classic checkerboard pattern a chic upgrade. According to WWD, Vans’ trademark pattern will now feature camouflage, “using a cameo motif depicting Lagerfeld’s iconic profile, with boucle fabric and a quilted letter K among other leitmotifs.”
The California-based favorite among skaters and street style aficionados will work with Lagerfeld on the hallmark “Old Skool” sneakers as well as other interpr…
Nikon D850 Has Same Image Quality at Double the ISO as the D810: Report
The Nikon D850 has generated a considerable amount of excitement among photographers today after its announcement, and here’s a new fact that will add even more fuel to the frenzy: Nikon says the D850 should have the same image quality at double the ISO as the D810.
“Nikon told us that the D850 should produce the same image quality (both JPEG and RAW) at twice the ISOs as the D810, a full-stop improvement,” Imaging Resource writes. “That is, the D850 at its top ‘native’ ISO of 25,600 should deliver the same image quality as the D810 did at ISO 12,800. If true, that’s a pretty significant improvement.”
“Nikon says dynamic range will be as good or better than that of the D810, despite the higher pixel count.”
Only tests will be able to determine if these claims are true, but if they are, this is a huge boon for photographers who often work in low-light environments.
Nikon also revealed to Imaging Resource that the new backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor design in the D850 — the first in a Nikon DSLR — isn’t primarily for low-light performance but rather for speedier shooting speed by providing “more flexibility in the chip’s wiring.”
And if you’ve been wondering about the origins of this new sensor, you’ll be interested to know that Nikon designed it themselves rather than use an off-the-shelf sensor from a sensor manufacturer (e.g. Sony).
“While Nikon contracts with a silicon foundry to actually manufacture the chips, Nikon confirmed that the D850’s sensor is entirely their own design,” Imaging Resource reports.
Shutterstock’s Randomized Watermark Protects Photos from Google’s AI
Google recently published a paper showing how easy it is for a computer to detect an identical watermark from a large collection of photos and then cleanly remove that watermark from each photo. Shutterstock has responded to Google’s AI by developing a new randomized watermark that counters it.
Google’s research found that many common stock watermarks can be removed since they appear identically across a huge number of online photos.
Shutterstock was actually notified about the search before the paper was published, and its engineers began working on a way to fix the flaws that Google researchers uncovered. Google’s conclusion was that to prevent computers from being able to easily isolate a watermark, you need to introduce random variations to your watermark. That’s exactly what Shutterstock decided to do.
“The challenge was protecting images without degrading the image quality,” Shutterstock CTO Martin Brodbeck says. “Changing the opacity and location of a watermark does not make it more secure, however changing the geometry does.”
Engineers developed a new watermark randomizer that results in no two Shutterstock watermarks ever being exactly the same now.
“The shapes vary per image and include contributor names,” Brodbeck says. “By creating a completely different watermark for each image, it makes it hard to truly identify the shape.”
Here’s what the standard Shutterstock watermark looked like prior to this new technology being rolled out:
And here’s what the new watermark looks like:
This new random watermark has been rolled out to all of Shutterstock’s 150 million+ photos and images. Google engineers already tested the new watermarks and found that they successfully foil Google’s watermark removal AI system.
DJI Will Disable Your Spark Drone If You Don’t Update the Firmware
DJI is releasing a new firmware update for the Spark camera drone, and this is one update that Spark owners will not want to ignore. If you fail to properly update your Spark, DJI will disable it and prevent it from flying at all.
But while the GoPro Karma’s issues were caused by a faulty physical battery clasp, the DJI Spark’s problem appears to be software based and something that can be remedied with a firmware update.
DJI announced today that the new firmware “enhances flight safety and performance” by improving the “battery management system to optimize power supply during flight.”
The firmware will be available later this week through the DJI GO4 App on smartphones and through the DJI Assistant 2 desktop program. Failure to comply will lead to your drone being grounded remotely by DJI.
“If the firmware of either the aircraft or the battery is not updated by September 1, Spark will not be able to take off,” the company says. “DJI decided on the option of a mandatory firmware update in order to maximize flight safety and product reliability which we consider as top priorities.”
Other secondary improvements in the new firmware include full integration with DJI Goggles, an optimized PalmLaunch function, improved QuickShot Dronie control accuracy, and better remote controller compatibility with new firmware updates.
In a sign of the growing maturity of drone photography and virtual reality gear, Lensrentals is expanding its rental gear list to include products in both categories. Headlining the company’s drone offering are several models from DJI, including the Mavic Pro, DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 drones, plus related accessories. When you rent a drone, you’ll be redirected…
Mikael Cho of Unsplash titled his post “The Future of Photography and Unsplash.” In the future, Cho claims, a photography license has no value. Photographers trade away the commercial rights to their existing work in exchange for exposure and a larger audience—to whom they can presumably sell something—other than their images.
“We believed the good from giving our images away would far outweigh what we could earn if we required payment,” Cho writes. Cho isn’t a professional photographer. According to his LinkedIn page, Cho worked in marketing and PR before assuming a creative director role for an apparently defunct company that, according to their Twitter profile, wanted to “help” people with ideas build their startups. Cho went on to co-found Crew, an online database of freelance designers and developers (who do not work for free), and then, in 2013, Unsplash. In response to questions PDN emailed him, he said the images he’s referring to “giving away” were commissioned for the Crew website. “We paid for the rights to the photos and confirmed permission from the photographer to use them on Unsplash,” he told PDN. So when Cho says “our images,” he’s not speaking as a photographer.
Earlier this year, when Cho announced in another blog post that Crew and Unsplash would split into independent companies, he also mentioned that they’d managed to raise $8.5 million from investors and still had roughly $5 million in the bank, about $3.5 million of which was funneled to Unsplash, Cho told me. “We do not make profit with Unsplash today,” he said.
Apple, Facebook and other companies have used Unsplash users’ images in product launches, in-store displays and social media ads. However, Cho says Unsplash did not earn any money from those “collaborations”: “The only money we ever received from Unsplash photos was to cover the cost of producing the Unsplash Book,” Cho told me. “All the profits of the Unsplash Book were split with Unsplash contributors featured in the book.”
The Lots of People Will See Your Images Argument: Cho argues in his blog post that photographers “don’t need to come with an audience or have an agent to be great on Unsplash,” and makes the claim that photos featured on Unsplash are seen more than those on Instagram or the front page of The New York Times. To support this assertion, Cho cites a single Unsplash contributor whose 28 photos have been viewed 140 million times, and downloaded more than 1 million times. Pressed for more evidence of this claim, Cho shared the following figures with me: A photo featured on Unsplash will get “an average of 20m views on Unsplash.com” and 100,000 downloads. He claims that each download generates 1000 views, and thus he arrives at a figure of 120 million views for a featured photo. Cho doesn’t say who downloaded the images and for what purpose, or how he knows how many views a downloaded Unsplash photo gets. So we have to take him at his word that if you put your photo on Unsplash it will get 120 million views. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not that sounds realistic.
The Other People Are Doing It Argument: Cho also cites examples of other creative professionals who have given their work away as a way to justify his company’s model. Timothy Ferris released a chapter of his book for free, Cho writes, and Chance The Rapper released his album Coloring Book via streaming services—he didn’t sell physical copies or downloads. These are false comparisons, however. Ferris gave away a chapter to promote book sales when Barnes and Noble refused to sell his book due to a dispute with Amazon, Ferris’s publisher. Apple Music paid Chance The Rapper $500,000 so their users would have a two-week exclusive on streaming the album, and the musician was also promoting his live performances, for which people still have to pay. Neither artist gave their work to another company and allowed them to use it for free to sell anything, which is what the Unsplash license allows.
He also writes that, “Filmmakers distribute trailers for free on YouTube to sell a movie. Musicians release free songs or entire albums on SoundCloud to sell concert tickets. Authors give free chapters and pour thousands of unpaid hours into blogs to sell a book.” Of course, none of this includes giving away the commercial license to the entire work. I asked Cho about these comparisons, and for examples of other creators who have given away free commercial licenses to their work. His point was not to make direct comparisons, he told me, but “to say that there have been platforms that enable us to express and connect either for the sole purpose of creative expression or creating an audience for something else.” I asked for examples of people who have given away a free commercial license to their work. He cited a blogger, the Wikipedia page for “Public Domain,” and Elon Musk giving away the Tesla patents. I am sure plenty of professional photographers will relate to that last one.
Photographers have and will continue to publish their work online and on social media as a way to grow their audiences. We’ve written extensively about how photo sharing platforms such as Instagram have allowed aspiring photographers to build careers in non-traditional ways and without the recognition of gatekeepers such as photo editors, curators, art buyers and creative directors. They do this by sharing their images and building an audience online, not by giving away for free the right to use their images in ads without compensation.
The Image Licensing Business is Declining Argument: Citing data from Shutterstock, Cho makes another argument in his blog post, which is that the value of a licensed photo continues to plummet. It’s true that the stock photo market has changed drastically in the digital age, and that increased supply has driven down the value of stock images, but many professional photographers still earn a portion of their yearly income through image licensing. Even the annual report figures Cho cherry picks from Shutterstock indicate that image licensing earned Shutterstock contributors $115 million last year, up from $100 million in 2015. True, they had almost 100k more contributors in 2016, so the average per-contributor earnings went down to $511, but it’s hard to claim there’s no value in licensing images—as long as someone else isn’t giving equivalent images away for free.
The “It’s a Way to Make Relationships” Argument: As his final point, Cho asserts that the real value of photos is “As relationship makers.” By publishing their images on Unsplash, Cho writes, “Many have booked client work after posting just a couple photos. Some have been flown around the world on photo shoots. Some have gotten enough work to leave their jobs and become full-time photographers. Some have been able to build audiences for new products.” The stories he shares, however, are not those of professional photographers. None of the writers have substantial client work on their websites. (One user did manage to raise more than $400,000 on Kickstarter for a modular organizer he created, although the connection between that project and Unsplash is unclear.)
When Cho writes, “Every Unsplash photo turns into a billboard for our contributors. And the future business model of Unsplash is about creating relationships through the unique attention and use each photo creates,” he presents no compelling evidence to justify asking his contributors to give away a free commercial license to their images. Nor does he explain the potential impact that giving images away for free could have on the value of images. He writes that “the most common uses for Unsplash photos are presentations, blogs, or personal projects.” Ok. But there are plenty of images available to people for non-commercial use via the Creative Commons license. Why, I asked him, is a commercial license necessary? “It provides clarity,” he told me. “Being able to use a photo however you want is much clearer than, ‘you can use this photo for X but not Y and not Z.’ We believe and are seeing there’s a net positive result for contributors from this clarity.” A Creative Commons license would allow for all of the relationship- and audience-building that Cho claims to want for his contributors, while guaranteeing that his contributors aren’t being taken advantage of by the “people who use Unsplash photos freely who may have hired a photographer if Unsplash didn’t exist.”
Unsplash has been in business since 2013, and it wasn’t until they recently reached out to professionals and asked them to contribute that this site even came to the attention of many in the professional photo community. The imagery on Unsplash isn’t likely to make it a competitor of professional photo licensing services anytime soon. I do hope, however, that aspiring professionals realize that their work has value, and that giving away their copyright to a platform such as Unsplash undermines not only that value of their own work, but of professional photography as a career.
KENZO Is Debuting Natasha Lyonne-Directed Fashion Film
Fashion films are having are moment amongst many fashion houses who are embracing the medium, and KENZO is the latest to put their stamp of approval on it. The French fashion house has collaborated with iconic film stars and producers resulting in two Tribeca Film Festival award nominations, and this year, KENZO has announced a film entitled Cabiria, Charity, Chastity written and directed by Natasha Lyonne (of Orange is the New Black fame) in her directorial debut, with an all-star cast of…