A busy few weeks at Arsenal HQ. Some major improvements [finally] going out in this release. You'll notice we bumped the version number to 0.9.14, since this is a really large release.
- Sony Camera Improvements
There are a ton of improvements in performance and stability for Sony cameras in this release. This includes fixes for live view lag, speed improvements to exposure bracketing, triggering, and setting changes. We also improved the Sony connection workflow on older Sony cameras. Lastly, lots of bug fixes in this release for Sony cameras. This includes enabling all Sony models other than the A77, A77 II and A99 that are on our supported camera list (we’re still working on those three).
One thing that didn't make it in this build was the multipoint/focus stacking for the older Sony cameras. It's working well, but needs a bit more testing. It should be in the next release.
2. New Multipoint, Whole Scene, and Focus Stacking System
Arsenal's early development (3 years ago) was done mostly on a small group of Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras (the ones I owned back then). As we've spent more time using other cameras, we've seen some shortfalls in the multipoint, whole scene, and focus stacking system. David (our VP of focus-related things) took everything we learned and rebuilt most of our multipoint focusing system from the ground up. The new system has been a long time coming, but it is quite a bit faster and gives much improved results on many cameras. The new system is able to leverage the camera’s autofocus system to more quickly determine optimal focus positions (so you may hear some autofocus beeps while it’s running). When things calm down a bit, we'll do a blog post diving into some of the interesting technical challenges that had to be overcome. Give these enhanced features a try, we think you'll really like the results.
3. Power Management/Device Heat
"Arsenal runs hot" has been the joke around the office. There's a lot of processing power packed into a small space. Phillip, our electrical engineer, spent the past few weeks doing tons of additional benchmarking, charting, testing, and working with customers on their feedback. The end result is new profiles for managing cpu frequencies and voltage. The tl;dr is 20% longer battery life on Arsenal (on average) and the unit runs cooler (which is great because we were losing some power to heat).
4. Handheld Mode Improvements
By popular request, we've added a blue LED animation to indicate when Arsenal is running in handheld mode. You can disable it in settings in the app if it isn’t your cup of tea. The previous release had one issue that would cause it to leave handheld mode sometimes, so this made things a bit confusing. In this release, we improved how handheld mode deals with not detected cameras, failed shutter, and a few other edge cases.
We also spent a good chunk of the past two weeks working through our bug list. Getting the above list out the door means we should have more time to focus on the longer tail of bugs, camera specific issues, documentation, and UI improvements, so expect an increase in the speed of getting resolutions out the door.
A few things on the radar for the next release or two:
- Camera-Specific Improvements
We still have a handful of the less used cameras that we need to make improvements on. A few, like the X-T1, D3100, D3000, you’ll see a ‘camera not supported’ message until we can get them up to par (the experience just wasn’t great on these, and we didn’t want folks trying to troubleshoot or having a poor experience while we worked through it). We’re working on these as a very high priority over the next couple of weeks.
- Saving Stacks/Handheld Mode images
Saving any types of stacks to the SD card is still something we’re working through. You can share/save the image from the image preview, but we’re working through writing back to the SD card. Additionally, some users are reporting handheld mode images not writing back to the SD card. We’re working through that as a high priority.
- Camera-Specific Setup Screens
About 15% of the cameras we support need some minor camera-specific setup to work with Arsenal. Here's a quick round up of what that usually means:
- Some cameras require AF Mode be set to Flexizone AF[ ], or Live View Single Point
- Disable "PreAF" (it makes the camera refocus when it detects movement)
The next release will have better indicator messages when first connecting a camera. We'll also be building out a system so you can see notes specific to your camera model directly in the app.
- Firmware File Size
It's pretty large at the moment. Current firmware updates contain three things: 1) the OS/firmware, 2) the Arsenal software, and 3) the AI models. Up until now all three have been changing on most releases. We're almost to the point though where only the software will change for most releases. The software is only about 30MBs. In a future firmware update, we can move to building smaller firmware update files if a full update isn't needed.
- Smart Mode Improvements
We've gotten a ton of great feedback and sample photos from people using Arsenal in all kinds of situations. Expect to see a big Smart Mode improvement in the next few releases.