This release is the progression from v0.9.50 for most of our users, and v0.9.62 for our BETA testers (thanks again BETA team!). This release includes a ton of bug fixes, performance improvements, and all of the new features we started rolling out in the 0.9.62 BETA. We received a lot of great feedback from users of the seven new cameras for which we added support.
Before we jump into all of the details, a high-level summary of what's included in this release:
- New Cameras Supported: Canon EOS R, Canon EOS RP, Nikon Z6, Nikon Z7, Nikon D3500, Fuji XT2, Sony A6400
- SmartLapse: A new, simple managed timelapse workflow. You set up your gear, compose your shot, and let Arsenal do the rest with one simple tap on your phone.
- Share Timelapse: You can now share timelapses from the gallery (yah!)
- Auto Holy Grail Timelapses: Managed settings, while allowing custom interval and number of shots
- Timelapse Pre-exposure: Before a timelapse, Arsenal quickly calculates the correct exposure so there is no jump in exposure in the first few frames of the timelapse.
- Keep Mirror Up Between Shots (for timelapses): Allows you to control the trade off on DSLR's between battery life and aperture change flicker.
- Shorten shutter to keep interval (for timelapses): Control if Arsenal should shorten the shutter to maintain interval when light is limited.
- Slider Mode: Allow your timelapse slider (or similar devices) to trigger the camera while Arsenal manages settings.
- Long Exposure Noise Reduction warning: Arsenal now notifies you if LNR is enabled. (LNR doubles the shutter time and can result in missing timelapse intervals)
- Improved AutoExposure Model: Not just better timelapses, but better exposed, smoother timelapses
- Reworked Smart Mode Solver: Better at handling edge cases, also more testable on our end
- Sony Wifi Camera Focus Stacking: Now you can focus stack on your Sony Wifi camera! This one is a long time coming and we're really excited about it.
- Lots of bug fixes, performance improvements, UI improvements, etc...A few big fixes in this release, including handling of available aperture's changing when zooming lenses. We've also fixed one case where Arsenal would get into a state where it couldn't be connected to after a dropped connection; this should help those of you that sometimes get 'stuck' on a connecting screen.
Still in the works
We've got a few things we were hoping to get in this release, but rather than delay the release any further, we decided to roll it out and we'll do a follow up release shortly.
- Fuji XT2 handheld mode isn't ready yet (sorry, should be in the next release)
- The last component of Arsenal's timelapse system is the "post smoothing" that does a final round of smoothing to smooth out the 1/3rd stop jumps when settings are adjusted. We've been building a system to better deal with "natural flicker." The main place you see natural flicker is cars moving through a scene on a regular basis, or ocean waves. You want to smooth the rest of the scene, but not include the natural flicker in the smoothing calculations. The old post smoothing algorithm would take these sources of natural flicker into account when smoothing, which would cause certain scenes to have some flicker in the sky and foreground. We've been building a system that automatically identifies natural flicker and ignores it when calculating smoothing. (see one of our debugging visualizations here: https://youtu.be/hJlEOALrJ4M ) It's almost ready, but we didn't want to delay the release anymore, so we have to move it to the next release.
- A highlight protection feature is also in the works for Timelapses, but needs a bit more work also before it goes out the door,
Details on New/Upgraded Features:
New Timelapse UI
We got a lot of great feedback from our beta testing of the holy grail features in the last release. After talking with a lot of our users, we saw a need for a simpler interface for people who just want a simple start/stop interface to timelapses. Not wanting to give up some of the fine detailed control, we settled on creating a "SmartLapse" feature that does more of the timelapse management for you. The custom interval, number of shots, and holy grail ranges were moved under a "Custom" tag.
We hope this new interface provides a simple starting point while keeping available options for those who want to customize their timelapse.
Similar to mobile phone camera timelapses, Arsenal's SmartLapse changes the duration as more photos are shot to aim for a 10 second video. It begins with a fast shutter, then as the amount of video shot gets longer, it drops every other frame and doubles the interval. This makes for a quick and simple timelapse experience with no post work needed. If you've never shot a timelapse before, this is a great way to start.
To go with the features above, we [finally] have sharing timelapses directly from the app integrated. We had to make quite a few changes under the hood to make this work. Timelapse videos can now be viewed from in the photo gallery and shared from there. The videos themselves will stay around while their original photos remain on the card. They can be saved to your phone or shared through the OS's native share dialog.
Auto holy grail
For those who still want to customize the interval and number of shots, we added an "auto holy grail" option that doesn't require setting ranges for the holy grail. Auto holy grail has some smart defaults and will work well in most cases. That said, we still recommend custom holy grail ranges/priorities if you want to do things like have a consistent shutter speed for water in a scene, or prevent aperture changes (which can cause some visible vignette changes).
In SmartLapse, Holy Grail, or "Auto" camera settings timelapses, Arsenal requires the camera to be in manual mode so it can manage the settings/exposure. Settings are slowly adjusted to make sure the scene continually stays correctly exposed without introducting flicker from fast changing settings. The pre-exposure now runs for a few seconds before you start the timelapse so the first frame of the timelapse is correctly exposed.
NOTE: The few cameras we support that don't have live view exposure preview don't support this feature.
Advanced Timelapse Options
- Keep mirror up between shots Some DSLR cameras use an electromagnet to hold the mirror up. That means having the mirror up uses some additional power. Previously Arsenal always kept the mirror up between shots to prevent flicker introduced by changing aperture sizes. (Each time the mirror flips up and down, most cameras reset the aperture) When the aperture resets, it will not return to the exact same diameter (due to mechanical limitaitons.) This can mean a slight difference in the amount of light hitting the sensor and can introduce a slight flicker into the video.
The addition of this setting allows you to choose between more camera power use and no flicker, or slight flicker (which can be corrected in post usually) and less camera power use.
- Shorten shutter to keep interval During a timelapse, as the amount of light drops, the shutter time may need to become longer. When this option is enabled, Arsenal will do its best to make sure the shutter time, card writing, and processing time doesn't exceed the currently selected interval. This may require Arsenal to increase the iso, or drop the aperture, but will save your timelapse from changing intervals as it gets darker. If you disable this option, Arsenal will increase the shutter time as needed. (in Holy Grail mode, it will increase up until your max selected shutter range.) In the right conditions, this can result in a natural interval ramp as things get darker or brighter. That said, we recommend leaving this option on and ramping in post.
Note: This setting does not apply when "Basic" camera settings are selected.
External Triggering (Slider support)
We did quite a bit more work on integrating external triggers (sliders, pan tilt rigs, etc..) This requires an external trigger port that is not USB (sorry Sony users. If you really want to get this feature, there's probably a way to solder a Y cable that takes splits the extra trigger pins Sony adds and the USB-micro pins.) When you select the "Slider" option, Arsenal will wait for an external trigger. After an external trigger, it will pull in the shot, add the frame to the video preview, and select/update settings for the next shot. This lets Arsenal do holy grail transitions while your slider manages the interval.
When the holy grail features went to beta, we had some users reporting the gap between exposures exceeding the interval and what we would expect for processing time. We only recently realized what was happeing was these cameras had "Long Expsoure Noise Reduction" enabled by default. Normally LNR is designed to take a "dark" frame after a long shutter to remove hot pixels from the photo. The problem with LNR is the dark frame requires the same amount of time as the original shutter. So if it was a 5 second exposure, it would take an additional 5 seconds after the shot before the photo was saved to the card and another shot could be taken.
While we can't disable LNR automatically, we're working on a feature to automatically detect when its on (using the metadata from the first shot) and warn you.
Improved AutoExposure Model
The beta feedback has been invaluable in helping us improve our auto-exposure model. The latest version of the model does a much better job transitioning to extermely dark scenes, and now that the milky way is back out, we've had more time to test with it and improve things. At some point we'll do a full blog post on the auto-exposure model. Most cameras aren't trained to meter in near total darkness, so we had some interesting new challenges to solve.
Reworked Smart mode Solver
When you take a shot in smart mode, a few things happen. Arsenal looks at the scene you're shooting and finds similar photos in its dataset to your current scene. Next it clusters the settings used to take those similar photos. Finally it looks at the current "environmental constraints" to find settings for the current scene that render the scene in a similar way to the similar photos (while maintaining those envionmental constraints, if possible) This third part we call the "solver" (how to go from an ideal settings to real world settings) This release includes a completely rewritten solver. While a lot of the core techniques are the same, the new solver has much greater test coverage and improved handling in highly constrainted scenarios. The new test system will makes it easier for us to customize the solvers behavior for different situations. At the end of the day, the end result should be better photos in smart mode under tough conditions.
The latest batch of new cameras took a lot of work (partly because of a whole new mirrorless system for Canon and Nikon), we expect future new Canons and Nikons to go a lot faster now that we have support for the new systems.
In total we have seven new cameras added:
- Canon EOS R, Canon EOS RP, Nikon Z6, Nikon 7Z, Nkion D3500, Fuji XT2, Sony A6400
We're finally getting time to work on more cameras, so expect more soon in future releases.
The Details - Improved since the v0.9.50
- Interval and Number of Shot sliders now snap to more round numbers for those of you who couldn't live with numbers like 2,345 shots. (I feel your pain)
- Long Exposure Noise Reduction warning added. LNR doubles the shutter time, so if Arsenal chooses a 3 second shutter, it will take 6 seconds to take the shot. (3 to expose, 3 to do a dark frame to reduce noise) LNR can be an issue when running a timelapse. Arsneal now warns you when LNR is enabled and on cameras where it can (some Nikons), it disables LNR in Smartlapse.
- Smart mode/handheld mode now adjusts the shutter speed first when no subject motion is detected. This change should have minimal impact and will result in lower ISO in cases of static subjects
- Live view frame rate performance improvements (thanks for the hard work on this Ben)
- Added live updating when possible aperture values change. [This one fixes quite a few issues. Some lenses drop available apertures as you zoom them. At times Arsenal wouldn't realize those apertures were no longer options and would attempt to pick them in smart mode, timelapses, or handheld. Arsenal's UI and internal list now updates live as you zoom the lens.]
- Lots more work on Fuji XT2, Improved Fuji Focusing
- Improved padding on the delete/share buttons
- Improved timelapse performance for short intervals
- Improved the depth model for Sony Wifi focus stacking (also reduces the memory use, which was causing some stacks not to finish)
- Improve Fuji handling of RAW+JPG file name differences
- Improved database performace for cache management
- Fixed a rare condition where disconnecting from Arsenal would not put Arsenal back into the correct state for a new connection
- fixed an iOS crash related to disconnections
- Fixed handling of CR3 EOS R/RP files
- Fixed an issue where live view would not resume after iOS app was reopened after a short time being backgrounded in iOS
- Fixed a bug with timelapses not metering the scene correctly on some Canon's when starting a timelapse.
- Various EOS R/RP fixes
- Fixed a bug with showing/hiding zebra stripes and foucs peaking on iOS
- Fixed a tap to focus issue on Nikon D3x00's
- Z7 now toggles focus settings to fix focus stacking
- D3s now automatically switches to tripod mode to allow tap to focus outside of phase detect locations
- EOS R/RP video mode fix
- Fixed an issue with Sony Wifi camera connections that could crash the iOS app
- Added some handlers to deal with trying to read live view frames before the mirror is completely up
- Fixed an issue with accelerometer outputting invalid data
- Fixed a priority starvation issue with assets not being pulled under heavy cpu stress
- Added wrong USB mode detection to A6400
- Fixed slider timelapse mode support on the d850
- Fixed time delay trigger crash on iOS
- Fixed live view demo mode issue on iOS
- Non-active buttons now gray out on iOS when timelapse is running
- Fix bug where countdown timer can display a negative number on Android
- Fixed issue on the Canon T6i where it wasn't properly preventing autofocus when metering a scene
- Fixed an issue with hiding the shutter activity animation on android
- Fixed a focusing issue on the EOS R/RP
- Fixed an issue where EOS R/RP wouldn't enable screen/viewfinder when in handheld mode
- Fixed signal to noise ratio calculation on d800
- Fixed an issue where the slider timelapse would show the wrong number of shots
- Fixed an issue number of shots taken in a timelapse being off by one
- Fixed a rare condition where the camera gets stuck connection when connecting over a poor (very long distance) connection
- Auto-disable continuous AF on the EOS R/RP
- Fixed a timeout issue with sharing photos
- Fixed handling of non-numeric aperture values on Android
- Fixed a crash for out of bound focus points
- Fixed issue on Nikons where the camera would randomly decide to switch to recording to SDRAM instead of the card
- Various d3500 improvements
- Fixed issue with displaying timelapse progress on Android
- Added busy spinner on timelapses on Android
- Disabled live view on Sony Wifi cameras while timelapse is running (should save camera battery life)
- Updated iOS sliders to reflect option/values better
- Fixed an issue on Android where bottom drawer sliders would not update to the correct value
- Fixed a bug with Zebra stripes when camera was in portrait Orientation
- Fixed an issue with grids showing on the manual screen
- Fixed an issue with notifications showing up under the video screen layer on Android
- Fixed a bug in displaying focus points so that, when not on focus screen, points are hidden by default and only visible when added
- Changed the default timelapse number of shots
- Fixed a bug migrating settings from 0.9.50
- Added additional time delay options to Android
- Fixed a focus/grids issue on iOS
- Fixed smart screen event updating on Android
- Fixed a Z6/Z7 issue where it would disable camera screen