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Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field 127

New submitter katiewilliam (3621675) writes with a story at Hardware Zone about a new feature that Google's working on for Android phones' built-in cameras: the illusion of shallow depth of field in phone snapshots, which typically err on the side of too much in focus, rather than too little. Excerpting: "The Google Research Blog [note: here's a direct link] revealed that there's quite a fair bit of algorithms running to achieve this effect; to put it in a nutshell, computer vision algorithms create a 3D model of the world based on the shots you have taken, and estimate the depth to every point in the scene."
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Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

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  • Why? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 19, 2014 @03:40PM (#46796005)

    Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect? It seems just as stupid as adding a large lense flare.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @03:51PM (#46796055)

    Because often, what you can't see is as important as what you can. Imagination is important. Composition is important, and emotion is important.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @04:03PM (#46796109) Homepage

    Because it makes the intended subject stand out more.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @04:30PM (#46796223)

    You know, your eyes have a substantial depth-of-field effect, too. You often don't notice, because your mental ability to pay attention to objects is tied pretty strongly to where your eyes are actually focusing, so anything you look at is in focus (because you focus on what you're looking at). However, you can really notice when you look at images that have deep DoF or, say, 3D movies (where they can't possibly get the DoF right).

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @05:10PM (#46796409) Journal

    Consider this picture [] of a spider dining on its prey--possibly a cricket.

    What's important? the spider, the web, the meal.
    What's not important? the storm drain, the foliage

    It's not completely successful, but both the foliage and the storm drain are out of focus, while the spider, the meal, and the web are in focus. The aperture control on a large sensor camera lets the photographer select where the blurriness ends, and where it begins. Generally, the longer the focal length of the lens, the more dramatic the effects of opening up the aperture. Since camera phones use short focal length lenses, the blurring effect is quite subtle, and is often insufficient to draw in the viewers eye.
    In this particular case, it's a macro shot, so even a very narrow aperture (f/16) involves some blurriness. Quite often, macro-photographers use very narrow apertures-- f/16-f32, in an attempt to resolve all of the interesting aspects of their subjects.

  • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <> on Saturday April 19, 2014 @06:49PM (#46796853) Homepage Journal

    Why would I want to ruin large parts of a good image with this effect?

    Portrait photography.

    Or any time when the presence of crap in the background degrades the photo. That candid picture of your Mom sharing a moment with your aunt would look great if it were not for the Ronald McDonald billboard in the background.

  • Re:"subject" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday April 19, 2014 @10:14PM (#46797703)

    And, of course, shallow depth of field is a huge fad, and there's an entire generation of kids who won't ever be able to tell where they were in any of their childhood pictures.

    Wow lets step back a bit. Though I guess someone called the automobile a fad at some point.
    The battle for wider apertures dated back to post war. The 1950s was all about big lenses, wide apertures. I fondly recall using a Canon R mount 50mm f/1.2. Not a very sharp lens but provided incredibly narrow depth of field. Mind you it wasn't until the FE mount in the 80s they managed to get a 50mm f/0.95, something which Leica managed quite a lot earlier on their M series cameras in the 1960s.

    Now that the history lesson is over, how about an art lesson. Depth of field is used to direct attention. If you want someone looking at a subject rather than the image on the whole you can isolate the subject by blurring the background. I did this on my holidays and I'm going to look back and think about what I looked like at the time who the hell cares where I was. If I wanted to take a photo of where I was I would do so. Now on the flip side, why the hell would you want to ruin a perfectly good photo of the Pantheon or some other wonderful place by standing in front of it? Why would you want to give up artistic control to some passer by telling them to look through the viewfinder and push the button.

    You seem to know the technical details of how something is done, but not have a clue of why someone would do it. Go to your grandpa and ask him if he used wide apertures when he took photos. You'll likely find him don his oversize framed glasses and say "Kid, I was the master of bokeh before it was cool."

    Fad indeed.

BLISS is ignorance.