Friday (28-September-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Nighttime Autumn Sky Over New Jersey.

Evaluation of a Nikon KeyMission 360 camera including Night Sky video mode. Unlike the Garmin VIRB camera, the KeyMission camera does not have any external controls. It does have separate buttons for taking pictures or video recording. The camera and video settings are only available via the SnapBridge 360/170 app on Android or iOS devices. Communication between the app and camera is via BlueTooth or WiFi. The initial connection is via BlueTooth where the Camera Settings can be modified. Apparently, the BlueTooth in the camera is active, even when the camera is turned off.  The app indicates that the KeyMission 360 camera is already paired. When Camera Settings is selected, it takes several minutes to connect. During this time, the camera is turned on. Camera settings include: Date & Time, Sound Settings; Auto Off (change to 5 minutes or you will go crazy when learning how to use this camera); LED brightness; Charge by Computer (set to auto); Image Comment; Copyright information; Location Data; Firmware Version; Network Menu; Shooting Options; Format Card; and Reset All.

The Shooting Options Menu includes: Movies; Still Images; and Shooting Options. Movie Mode Includes settings for : Standard movie; Superlapse movie (2x, 4x, 6x, 10x, 15x); Loop recording (5 min, 10 min, 30 min, 60 min); Time-lapse movie (AE lock only; 2 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, and 30 sec); Night Sky (30 sec optimized for stars). Still images includes settings for: Image size (7744 x 3872 or 3872 x 1936); Self timer (2 sec or 10 sec). The images are JPG (no option for RAW images). That is too bad, I assumed Nikon would provide an option for saving RAW images. ARRG!!! Also, there is no option for interval shooting of still images. Double ARRG!!!

Finally, there is a Shooting options menu (that I assume applies to both movies and still images). It includes settings for: Underwater mode (yes/no); Active D-Lighting (yes/no); White balance (auto, daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, and cloudy); Color options (standard, vivid, and monochrome); Exposure compensation (+2.0 to -2.0 in 1/3 stop increments); and Restore default settings. So I set the Active-D lighting on, White balance auto, and selected Vivid in the color options.

If you want to do remote photography from the app, it needs to switch to WiFi mode. This takes a long, long time. It removes whatever WiFi source you are connected to and sets up a direct connection to the camera. This is why setting the auto off to 5 minutes is important. I often didn’t make a connection, and/or it took several times before the device and camera would connect. The manual makes some comment about problems when there are a lot of other WiFi devices nearby. Again ARGG!!! I wouldn’t trust the remote photography (Live View) for a mission critical shoot. But it is nice to have when composing a still image.

After it got dark outside, I set the KeyMission camera up on my back patio set up in Night Sky video mode. The camera takes take 300 30 second exposures (~2.5 hours) and then in the camera combines the front and back images into a 10 second 360 degree panorama time-lapse video (1080p, 30p).  Video viewing apps that are 360 aware allow the viewer to pan and tilt the image to see all directions around the camera. For this video, I was only interested in seeing the sky. The video viewing and editing program from Nikon (KeyMission 360/170 Utility) didn’t allow me to do this. I did find that the Insta360 Studio program did allow me to edit the video from the KeyMission camera.

KeyMission 360 Night Sky Time-lapse Video.

For comparison, I also set up a Nikon D810a camera with a 8-15 mm fisheye lens (ISO 200, 10 mm, f/8, 120 sec) to take a series of night sky images. These were processed with Capture One Pro, and then used to create a time-lapse video and a composite star trails image.  There appear to be a multitude of internal reflections in the 8-15 mm fisheye lens once the moon becomes visible.

Nikon D810a Night Sky Time-lapse Video.

Night Sky Star Trails Image. Composite of 211 images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 8-15 mm telephoto lens (200 ISO, 10 mm, f/8, 120 sec). (David J Mathre)
Night Sky Star Trails Image. Composite of 211 images taken with a Nikon D810a camera and 8-15 mm telephoto lens (200 ISO, 10 mm, f/8, 120 sec). (David J Mathre)

Thursday (27-September-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Autumn Yard Work in New Jersey.

After many days of rain, the sky was mostly clear and the grass needed mowing. I mounted a Garmin VIRB 360 camera on my lawn tractor. Then made the following time-lapse videos using Photoshop CC. The forward lens of the camera  faced the direction the tractor was going, so in the 360 panorama view I am split on both sides of the image based on how the image was stitched in-camera .

Garmin VIRB 360. Mowing the Yard 360 Panorama View.  Time-lapse video (1080p 30p)

Garmin VIRB 360. Mowing the Yard Little Planet View.  Time-lapse video (1080p 30p)

Garmin VIRB 360. Mowing the Yard Tunnel View.  Time-lapse video   (1080p, 30p)

Wednesday (26-September-2018) — New Jersey

Backyard Autumn Nature in New Jersey.

Today, I continued evaluating a Garmin VIRB 360 degree camera. The first thing that I like about this camera is that it has external control buttons, and a small LCD screen on the top to display the camera settings. The other cameras that I am looking at all require a smartphone or tablet for set-up and use. The Garmin camera also has a rechargeable battery that can be swapped out with a fresh battery. Two of the other cameras only have internal batteries. The Garmin camera can also be run with an external power supply connected to the micro USB connection port for shoots lasting more than 1 1/2 hours.

I initially set the camera up on my patio to do interval shots for a time-lapse video. In the camera (photo) mode you can set the interval time ( 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 sec). There is no setting for duration, which presumably means the camera continues to take images until the battery (power) runs out, the memory card is full, or the run is manually stopped. The camera also has an option to change the lens mode (360 degrees, forward lens, rear lens, and raw). The 360 degree mode provides an in-camera stitched 360 degree panorama image. The forward and rear lens modes provide a geometrically corrected 16:9 image from the front or rear lens. The raw mode provides separate fisheye images from the front and rear lenses. It should be noted that raw does not mean that the image is in a RAW format. All of the images are JPG format.

Garmin VIRB 360 – Out of the Camera JPG – Panorama View (1080p 24p)

The time-lapse video was created using Photoshop CC with no adjustments. The camera is automatically controlling the exposure, and white balance. The clouds are a bit blown out, and shadow areas a bit dark. I then connected an external power source which you can see in the next two short time-lapse videos while I am working on the garden in the patio. One converted to a “Little Planet” view and the other a “Tunnel View” using Photoshop CC.

Garmin VIRB 360 – Out of the Camera JPG – Little Planet View (1080p 10p)

Garmin VIRB 360 – Out of the Camera JPG – Tunnel View (1080p 10p)

I then left the camera running for the rest of the afternoon into the evening to see how long the external battery (GoalZero, Venture 30) would last. The camera was still running and taking pictures after 6 hours. For these time-lapse videos, I processed the images with Capture One Pro to decrease the blown out areas, and increase the shadow areas. This did take a lot of processing time.

Garmin VIRB 360 – Capture One Pro – Panorama View (1080p 60p)

Garmin VIRB 360 – Capture One Pro – Little Planet View (1080p 60p)

Garmin VIRB 360 – Capture One Pro – Tunnel View (1080p 60p)

Tuesday (25-September-2018) — New Jersey

Home Cooking. Hearty Whole Grain Rye Bread.

Another day of rain. The weather for the last few weeks is more like Seattle, Washington or Bergen, Norway. I decided to make some hearty whole grain rye bread. I ran out of rye flour, and the new batch I got is the whole grain version from Bob’s Red Mill.

I  set up a Insta360 One camera to take images for a time-lapse video of the process. While in Germany earlier this summer, my brother showed me the Insta360 One camera. I was impressed because it could take 360 degree images, and convert them into “little planet” or “tunnel view” images. I have created these type of images for several years by taking 20 or more images with a high-resolution DSLR or mirrorless digital camera, and then using the AutoPano Giga program to convert the images into a 360 degree view. (Note, I just read on Thom Hogan’s blog that Kolor will no longer be selling the AutoPano Giga program.) The process would take hours of processing, and required fast computers, and lots of memory. The images ended up being very large — often over a gigapixel in size. So I decided to try this new camera. Granted the image size would not be as large, but if only viewed on the internet does it matter? Also I would be able to make time-lapse 360 degree videos. I’ve created three time-lapse videos of the bread making (Panorama, Little Planet, and Tunnel View). Let me know what you think. There are some idiosyncrasies with the Insa360 One camera system that I will talk about later when comparing with other 360 degree camera systems.

Hearty Whole Grain Rye Bread Recipe: Rye Flour (1 cup); Sprouted Wheat Flour (1 cup); Bread Flour (1/2 cup);  Sorghum Flour (1/2 cup) Flax Seed (1/4 cup); Chia Seed (1/4 cup); Dill Seed (1 tbs); Anise Seed (1 tbs); Caraway Seed (1 tbs); Fennel Seed (1 tbs); dry milk (1/4 cup);  cocoa (1 tbs); instant coffee (1 tbs); salt (1 tsp); egg (1 large); flax oil (2 tbs); water (1 1/4 cup); Maple  syrup (1/3 cup). Above ingredients added to Panasonic Bread Bakery. Yeast (2 tsp) added to yeast hopper and the unit set for Whole Wheat Bread (Rapid) and started. Three hours later, the loaf of bread was removed and allowed to cool.

Bread Making – Insta360 One Camera – 360 Panorama View (1080p 24p)

Bread Making – Insta360 One Camera – Little Planet View (1080p 24p)

Bread Making – Insta360 One Camera – Tunnel View (1080p 24p)