Capture the world through new lenses

Are you getting a little bored of your 4:3, 16:9 or even 18:9 camera frames that provide a limited view of the world you are trying to capture? 360-degree cameras can represent a scene in an entirely new way, enabling the viewer to capture a greater range and sensory experience.

Among the many products in this rapidly growing photography category, Mi Sphere Camera is an well rounded, accessible device that elevates the user experience from just seeing the world in the front to the entire scenario of that location.

“A 360-degree camera is an important tool that allows consumers to make their own VR content,” said Huang Yetao, founder of MadV, the manufacturer of Mi Sphere Camera. (MadV is one of Xiaomi’s Mi Ecosystem companies.)

In addition to capturing 360-degree still photos, Mi Sphere Camera also allows users to record amazing panoramic videos at high speeds. Its six-axis electronic image stabilization corrects movement while skiing, skydiving, bungee jumping, or any other high-speed actions. It also has a 1600mAH battery, which is higher in capacity than many other products in its price category. The powerful battery supports up to 75 minutes of 4K video on a single charge during normal temperature conditions.

To accommodate the adventurer who uses the Mi Sphere Camera, the unit is water and dust proof, and can withstand being immersed in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.

The size is also an important attribute as the Mi Sphere Camera was designed for individuals who are often carrying a lot of equipment. In fact, the thinnest part of the Mi Sphere Camera is only 12mm, making it easy to transport and store as well.

With such specifications, users can focus on reaching the next peak, pushing their limits or exploring a new city knowing that their camera will capture each adventure to the fullest.

Comparison  

Life in 360, a YouTube channel focused on 360 photography, created a video comparing the 4K video effects of Mi Sphere Camera, INSTA One and Theta V — three popular consumer-level 360-degree cameras. After changing locations and light conditions with the three units, the reviewer found that Mi Sphere Camera did a great job in stitching and stabilization, and just as well as the others when it comes to the quality of 4K videos.

Below are the key specifications of the three 360-cameras portrayed in the video:

Device name Theta V INSTA 360 One Mi Sphere Camera
Image resolution 5376 x 2688 6912 x 3456 6912 x 3456
Video resolution 3840×1920@30fps 3840×1920@30fps 3456 x 1728@30fps
Size 45.2 x 130.6 x 22.9mm 96 x 36.5 x 25mm 78 x 67.40 x 12.00mm
Battery life Supports up to 40 minutes 4K video 820mAH 1600mAH
Image stabilization Not supportive Electronic image stabilization Six-axis electronic image stabilization
Water-proof Not supportive Not supportive IP67 water/dust-proof
Price $375.99 $299 $299.99

 

Mi Sphere Camera is now available for U.S consumers to purchase on Amazon, creating an opportunity for the beautiful moments in life to be captured in an entirely new way.

A Love Dream Created by Mi 6

With smartphone camera capabilities quickly matching and even surpassing those of DSLR cameras, professional photographers and consumers alike are resorting to their phones for everything from a professional headshot to the perfect Instagram picture. Recently, we held a portrait photography competition, attracting a wide variety of submissions, many shot on Mi 6 with our flagship dual-camera setup. Photographer An Shenlyu won the competition with his photography series called “A Love Dream.” We spoke with him after his win about what inspires him and his experience using Mi 6’s camera.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an independent photographer based in Shenzhen. I’m good at creating artistic portraits and I like building dreams by using photography to show my fantasies and dreams.

How did you become a photographer? How would you describe your style?

Two years ago, I began to take photos to keep a record of my life. Gradually it grew into an indispensable habit. When I get old, these photos can remind me of my past moments and emotions.

Speaking of photography style, I like emotional and touching images that can inspire me like poems and paintings can. I want my photos to mimic the colors and forms of oil paintings.

What do you think are the main reasons that your photography series, “A Love Dream,” won our competition?

Luck, I should say, because many photographers I admire also joined this competition. Another reason would be my style and attention to detail. I’ve been trying to put unrelated things together in the same scene and make them look comfortable and coordinated. To achieve this harmony, I need DIY tools and garments at the scene. For this series, I needed a cloth curtain in the middle of the water.To work out this effect, I used a wooden structure to fix the curtain. Additionally, the lanterns, oil paper umbrellas and other garments all took a lot of effort.

An Shenlyu shooting “A Love Dream”

How did you conceptualize the idea for “A Love Dream”?

My original idea for “A Love Dream” was to transform a dream scene into a reality, where a beautiful woman leans on a tree in the middle of a sea. Many people living in big cities like being close to nature, as it provides a change from their typical view of skyscrapers out the window. The photos were taken in a famous tourist destination in Dali, Yunnan, where trees grow in the vast waters. I had to wait for a sunny day to shoot the photos because sunshine defines the style, and if you take the photos on a gloomy day, it would completely change the feel and style of the photo.

Different from design, for which post-production is crucial, I think the most important part in photography is the content. Developing and executing creative ideas are crucial to me. I often watch movies, listen to music and see good exhibitions where I am inspired. Usually I first come up with a point, which then evolves into an image. Then I prepare tools and garments, contact models, check the weather forecast and pick a day for shooting.

What do you think are the key factors for portraits?

This is a rather complicated question. You need to pour your emotions into your photos, so that people can feel the resonance of emotion, even if they don’t know the person in the photo. A photo without emotion is just an ordinary photo and can’t be considered art.

Another important thing is that I love nature. When I come across a beautiful place, I imagine someone standing in the environment. I observe the natural light and figure out the best time, the best clothes, and the best tools and garments for shooting.

Tell us your feelings about Mi 6. Does it make photo shooting easier for you?

Mi 6 provided a good user experience. I appreciate the slogan “Picture Perfect Dual Camera. Its 4-axis OIS makes shooting easier. The sunlight was very strong on the day I shot “A Love Dream,” but the photos were still well exposed. In general, I like Mi 6’s color quality and its ability to capture an environment truthfully.


Can you share a few photo-taking tips with our Mi Fans?

For non-professionals, I think good photography composition is half the success of a nice photo. Photography composition is like the frame of a house. If the framework is good, the house will not look bad regardless of its decorations. The other half includes light, colors and theme, which can be improved through practice.

I often watch movies to learn from their composition and artistic practices. I also see a lot of good photography work, almost on a daily basis. After seeing enough beautiful things, your aesthetic and tastes will naturally improve.

*All the photos in this post are contributed by An Shenlyu. 

The bokeh effect: pro photographers’ take on dual-lens cameras

The word “bokeh” stems from the Japanese word meaning blur. In photography, it can be simply understood as background blur.

In the past, only DSLR cameras and delicate cameras could produce this effect. However, some say, a phone’s dual-lens camera is the future of mobile technology.

There are two mainstream dual-camera setups. One is RGB and monochrome. In this setup, one lens takes color photos with true and vivid color, and the other captures in black and white with rich detail and sharpness.

We have chosen another dual-camera setup on our Mi 6 and Mi 5X — a wide angle camera and a telephoto camera. Working simultaneously with a deep learning algorithm, the dual cameras can blur the background and make the main object appear clearer. With our camera, we have chosen a 52mm portrait lens on Mi 6 and a 50mm portrait lens on Mi 5X.

Take a look at some photos shot on the Mi 6 and Mi 5X dual cameras.

It’s still an open question whether dual-camera setups can produce the same “bokeh” as DSLR cameras, but at least one thing is certain, mobile phones are much more convenient to carry and much easier to use than DSLR cameras, and their photos are good enough for non-professionals to record everyday life and share to social media platforms.

We had a chat with some famous photographers about dual-lens cameras and whether their “bokeh” effects can parallel with DSLR cameras. The following are excerpts from our chats:

Song Xiaogang, chief photographer at South China Morning Post

“I think dual cameras’ bokeh is different from that of DSLR cameras, and the latter can more accurately blur backgrounds. However, mobile phones are compact and portable, and dual-lens cameras’ bokeh effects are enough for non-professional people to share on social media platforms.

Shot in the East 44th Hutong, Beijing, 16 July, 2017.  Shot on a smartphone. Photo by Song Xiaogang.

Wang Jing, chief photographer at China Daily, IPA (International Photography Awards) Deeper Perspective Photographer of 2014

“Dual cameras mark a new era of mobile photography. The bokeh effect on a dual-camera setup can parallel that of a DSLR camera if properly used.”

Military officers and people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) gather at the Kim Il-sung Gymnasium in Pyongyang, on April 14, 2012, before a meeting to mark the centenary of the birth of the country’s former leader Kim Il-sung. Photo by Wang Jing

Jason Lee, senior photographer at Reuters since 2005  

“To me, mobile cameras still have a big gap from DSLR cameras. The resolution is okay on a smartphone screen, but not on a computer screen. For professional photographers, DSLR cameras are still very important.”

A firefighter is taking a short break by the highway on the second morning of the powerful explosions in the Chinese port of Tianjin, 13 August, 2015. This is an original photo taken on a smartphone. It went viral and was re-shared over 10,000 times. Photo by Jason Lee

Aaron Ma, chief photographer at Sohu.com

“When the natural light is sufficient, the dual-camera’s bokeh is very good. When the light is poor, the image quality is compromised. In terms of pixels, mobile phones are hard to compare with DSLR cameras. Even so, I think mobile phones are enough for everyday use if you just want to take a record of memorable moments and share to social media platforms.

Gao Yuanyuan, a famous Chinese actress. Photo by Aaron Ma 

Jia Dai Teng Fei, chief photographer at Oriental Morning Post, member of WPP (World Press Photo) Master Class in 2012

“A mobile phone’s digital technologies can simulate traditional aperture and focal length and calculate which place on a photo should be blurred and where to be clear. I feel that dual-camera setup’s bokeh is enough for non-professionals, but as a professional photographer, I still rely on a DSLR camera. But the technology is developing very fast, so it’s likely that mobile technology will be good enough to replace DSLR cameras one day.”

Cao Xiuhu, 85, an aidman during the Korean War. Photo by Jia Dai Teng Fei