iPhone’s Camera

14 04 2017

iPhone’s Camera …
a shining example for silent innovation

I took this shot with my iPhone 6S Plus in Ban Dong Pong, a small village near Khon Kaen, Thailand, where I retired last year. It shows an ISUZU truck for carrying rice harvesting machines (or Apple’s iCar to keep project Titan top secret?).

The problem with too much megapixels

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus came with 12-megapixel rear-facing cameras, a major improvement over the 8-megapixel cameras from recent years.

Images now pack 50% more pixels than before so you can see more details, and you also get 50% more “focus pixels” than in the previous iPhones for faster auto-focus.

Cameras with more megapixels usually sacrifice image quality in certain ways. Normally when you pack so many pixels so close together, it creates artifacts called “crosstalk”: inaccurate colors and noise in your images.

Apple’s team worked on new techniques to maintain image quality and size despite the extra megapixels, including a technology called deep-trench isolation, which separates photo diodes and helps to maintain accurate, precise colors.

Thanks for reading.





iPhoneography

19 03 2017

It was 42C / 108F when I took this photo with my iPhone 6S Plus.

Well done iPhone. Shortly before I took the photo my device stopped working but came back to life after removing Apple’s Silicon Case which seems to hamper heat dissipation.

About the image
Wat Phra That Phanom is the sacred precinct of the Phra That Phanom chedi, located in the Nakhon Phanom Province, Thailand. According to legend, this structure contains The Buddha’s breast bone, and as such, it is one of the most important Theravada Buddhist structures in the region.

Thanks for 🏄 by.





Just a camera shot

21 12 2016

The surrounding area of Ban Dong Phong, a small village near Khon Kaen, Thailand, where I live since 4 months.

The shot was taken with my iPhone 6S Plus at 6:30 this morning.

Modern smartphones can replace classical cameras not only for normal users like me. Most often it’s not the image quality which is important but the brain adding lots of thoughts to it.

Thanks for dropping by.





iPhone’s Camera

4 12 2016

Photos taken with my iPhone 6S Plus in our garden in Khon Kaen, Thailand


More …

Photography School





Photostream

12 06 2014

Photo Stream is Apple’s cloud-based photo sharing service that allows easy sharing of photos between devices regardless of their operating system. The photos can be viewed on the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch an Apple TV as well as on Macs and Windows-based PCs.

The feature was added to iOS 5 received some new features in iOS 6 and a few minor tweaks in iOS 7.

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You can turn on Photo Stream for any of these supported devices, and your latest photos will automatically be shared between any devices on your Apple account that have Photo Stream turned on.

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This means you don’t have to actively download photos on your iPad that you took with your iPhone, if both devices have Photo Stream turned on, the photos will be privately shared automatically.

Shared Photo Stream …

Apple’s Shared Photo Stream was introduced in iOS 6.0. While the default Photo Stream works for any device on the same Apple ID, Shared Photo Streams allows you to share a specific set of photos. You create a Shared Stream, give it a name, collect photos you want to share and then post it as a Shared Stream to family, friends or colleagues. You can even have multiple Shared Photo Streams with different recipients.

Photos taken with the device are not automatically shared. So there is no worry that the photo you take will automatically goes out to everyone. In order to share a photo with your Shared Photo Stream, you have to select the photo in the Photos app and specifically share it. You can also access Shared Photo Streams between your own devices, including Apple TV. And while the name implies ‘Shared’, you don’t have to share the photo stream with any of your friends. You can use it as a private stream between your devices.

Understanding Photo Stream …

On iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) every photo you take (screen shots too) will be added to your Photo Stream and automatically uploaded to iCloud.

Note
Photos will only upload when the device is connected to Wi-Fi and only the photos taken after Photo Stream is turned on will upload to iCloud. Once those photos are uploaded they are viewable in My Photo Stream album on your iOS device. ‘My Photo Stream’ album is located inside the Photos app, under albums, on devices that are connected through iCloud. This only works if Photo Stream is enabled on each device and all devices use the same iCloud account, that means the same Apple ID. Once you have each device logged into the same iCloud account you can setup Photo Stream.

If you want to use Photo Stream it’s worth knowing what it’s not. It is not an online photo container (like Google Drive) that just syncs photos between all of your devices. This might be the source of misunderstanding and complaints of iOS users.

Think of it like this …

Photo Stream is a constant flow of images (a stream) that acts as a conduit to route photos to your other devices. It’s like water. At anytime you can grab a bucket, dip it in, fill it up and haul it to a different location (the camera roll, a friend, etc). Otherwise you have no control over the water; just how much you take and where you forward or save it.

If you take a photo with an iPhone without connection to a WLAN (which is almost often the case when making a walk) the photo is saved in the Camera Roll of your device. Coming home, your device connects to your WLAN and the upload of photos to Photo Stream starts. Now you can view them e.g. on an iPad.

Photo Stream is totally automatic, but if you have a Mac, you can choose to turn off automatic uploading when you set up Photo Stream in iPhoto or Aperture. This can be useful if you regularly import very large numbers of photos.

iCloud stores your new photos for 30 days so your devices have plenty of time to connect and download the photos. Your iOS devices keep a rolling collection of your last 1000 photos, and you can save your favorite shots to your Camera Roll or any other album to keep them on your device permanently. Because your computers have more storage, they can keep all your Photo Stream photos.

Manual transfer …

If you deleted photos in your Photo Stream they will be deleted on all of your devices which is a consequence of the automatic syncing feature.

In some cases it’s necessary to re-transfer photos deleted from the Photo Stream to your other devices. This can be done

  • by using a cloud storage like Box or Dropbox
    Open the cloud provider’s client application, choose photos from Camera Roll and upload them to the cloud storage. On your other device then download them to its Camera Roll.
  • by using an app
    like PhotoSync (by touchbyte) instaShare (by Lukas Foldyna) or Safety P+V (by 83 Technology) which allows direct transfer between two devices using a common WLAN or a Bluetooth connection.
  • by using Airdrop
    which lets you quickly and easily share photos, videos, contacts — and anything else from any app with a Share button. Just tap Share, then select the person you want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. No setup required.
    Unfortunately AirDrop is not available for previously supplied iPhone 4S, 4, etc. and iPad 3rd Generation, iPad 2, etc. So there still will be a need for other ways.

But there is also a simple solution which lets you transfer photos without using a cloud storage, an app, or Airdrop even if the devices you want to transfer to are not in the same WiFi network and cannot be connected via Bluetooth. What you need is a connection to the internet (cellular or WiFi). It’s a kind of transfer to remote devices with the help of Shared Photo Stream.

Here are the steps …

Creating a stream

In the example I called this stream (photo) EXCHANGE.

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The new stream is immediately created on all of your devices even if the device is not connected to a WiFi network but to a cell net. Even if there is no internet connection yhe stream is created but only on your device and it’s created on all other devices if your device reconnects to the internet. Try it out by creating a stream in Airplane Mode.

If you didn’t enter any recipients of this new stream you will see the subtitle ‘Shared by you’ which indicates that shared photos are only available on devices using your Apple ID.

Streaming photos

If you now want to stream photos, select them, tap on iCloud, and select the stream you want to assign them to. Tap on Done.

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Depending on the transmission rate of your cellular connection it takes just some seconds and the photo is already available on your other devices which might be thousands of miles away. A family member (or all optionally entered recipients) can view the shared photos.

Deleting streams …

If you delete selected photos or Shared Photo Streams they are immediately deleted from all your devices and people you shared photos with cannot access them any longer.

That’s what you should keep in mind when removing photos from the Photo Stream. If you didn’t save them in the camera roll or any other local storage you will lose them forever.

Limitations …

iCloud limits the number of photos that can be uploaded to My Photo Stream or shared photo streams within a given hour, day, or month to prevent unintended or excessive use. Learn more in My Photo Stream and iCloud Photo Sharing.

Photo Stream upload limits

The My Photo Stream limits below are established based on anticipated upload patterns. Currently, My Photo Stream upload limits are as follows:

  • 1,000 photo uploads per hour
  • 10,000 photo uploads per day
  • 25,000 photo uploads per month

If you exceed one of these limits, your uploads to My Photo Stream will be paused temporarily and you may see a notification message on your device. Your uploads will resume automatically after you no longer exceed one of the limits, such as in the following hour or on the following day.

iCloud Photo Sharing limits

The current iCloud Photo Sharing hourly and daily limits are as follows:

  • Maximum combined number of photos and videos from all contributors per shared stream, per hour: 1000
  • Maximum combined number of photos and videos from all contributors per shared stream, per day: 10,000

These sharing limits are separate from the upload limits above. For example, in the same day you could upload 10,000 photos to My Photo Stream and then share those 10,000 photos or 10,000 other photos.

Additional Limits

  • Maximum shared streams an owner can share: 100
  • Maximum shared streams a user can subscribe to: 100
  • Maximum subscribers per shared stream: 100
    (the number of subscribers on each shared stream)
  • Maximum combined number of photos and videos from all contributors per shared stream: 5000
  • Maximum number of comments per photo or video in a shared stream: 200
    (a comment can be either a Like or a text entry)
  • Maximum characters per comment: 200
  • Maximum number of invites a shared stream owner may send per day: 200

Some further information …

Storage

Photos uploaded to My Photo Stream or shared photo streams are not counted against your iCloud Storage. The photos that you upload to My Photo Stream are stored in iCloud for 30 days to give your devices plenty of time to connect to iCloud and download them. Find out how to save photos from My Photo Stream or a shared photo stream to your Camera Roll or computer.
The following image file types are supported for Photo Stream: JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and RAW.
The following video file types and file formats are supported for iCloud Photo Sharing: MP4 and QuickTime file types, and H.264 and MPEG-4 Video file formats. Videos can be up to 5 minutes in length.
When importing photos to an iPad using the Camera Connection Kit, photos are saved directly to Camera Roll. If Photo Stream is enabled and you are connected to a wireless network, you could potentially reach any of the limits listed above. To avoid this, disable Photo Stream when importing photos to iPad when using the Camera Connection Kit.
When importing large numbers of photos to either iPhoto or Aperture, you could potentially reach any of the limits listed above if you have selected Automatic Upload in the Photo Stream preferences. Both iPhoto and Aperture will pause uploading to Photo Stream when the maximum has been reached. Uploading will automatically restart at the next hour, day, or month, depending on which limit was reached.

Quality

On a Mac or PC, your photos are downloaded and stored in full resolution. On iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV, your Photo Stream photos are delivered in a device-optimized resolution that speeds downloads and saves storage space. Dimensions will vary, but an optimized version of a photo taken by a standard point-and-shoot camera will have a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution when pushed to your devices. Panoramic photos can be up to 5400 pixels wide.

Turning off Photo Stream

If you sign out of iCloud or turn off My Photo Stream on an iOS device, all the images in My Photo Stream are removed from that device. The images in My Photo Stream on your other devices are not affected. Images added to My Photo Stream are saved on the iCloud server for 30 days from the date you added them to My Photo Stream. If you sign in to iCloud with the same Apple ID and turn on My Photo Stream on another device, those photos will automatically download to this device. Before turning off My Photo Stream, it’s a good idea to save any photos that you’d like to keep to your Camera Roll. To do so go to My Photo Stream, tap on Select, tap on the photos you want to save, tap on the sharing control (bottom left), and tap on Save to Camera Roll.

Backup

Shared photo stream content is not automatically backed up. Photos and videos must be saved locally before backing up your device. Any comments or Likes attached to a shared stream photo or video are not be saved with the photos or video.

Source Apple Support (modified)

No normal user will exceed these limits. The good news is that photos uploaded to My Photo Stream or shared photo streams are not counted against your iCloud Storage. But what you should know is that your iCloud backups include images saved in your camera roll. So don’t forget to organize the storage by periodically transferring photos from the camera roll to an appropriate storage e.g. your computer or to other cloud storages like Box, Dropbox, iDriveSync, OneDrive, or Google Drive.

About people …

If you open a Shared Photo Steam you will find the control ‘People’ with the following options:

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With ‘Public website’ you get a link for sharing an album on social networks.

Summary …

Using Shared Photo Stream is a simple way to transfer photos by just using Apple’s built-in apps. It just works.

Related links …

Photo Syncing

iOS Device Backup

iCloud Troubleshooting

Thanks for visiting iNotes4You.





Text Recognition (2)

21 06 2013

Part 1 of ‘Text Recognition’ outlined the theory of optical character recognition and pointed to applications for Windows PCs.
Now it’s time to look upon apps for the iPad and iPhone.

Some indispensable features …

Within an OCR capable app I expect

  • Zoom functionality
  • LED flash On/Off
  • Multi-Page processing
  • Availability of ‘Open in another app’
  • Cropping
  • Editing to correct OCR processing

I reviewed three apps. All of them are designed for iPhone but can be installed on an iPad as well with the well-known limitations (only portrait mode, app size with zoom factors 1x and 2x).

  • ImageToText
    is a free app and works accurately.
    A bit strange about it is that you need to send your scan via E-Mail in order to get the text-based version. If that works for you, the app works quite well and doesn’t cost you anything.
  • TextGrabber
    is a well-designed app and turns photos of text, coming from your built-in camera or elsewhere, into digital, editable text. What makes it great is that it’s generally accurate and it’s easy to use.

    Other apps offer more features to adjust to images that are not perfect (perspective, contrast, etc.). But in most cases it’s the faster job to eliminate some errors in converting than to try out uncountable adjustments to increase the quality.

  • Prizmo
    is rather expensive. What you get is a comprehensive OCR app that is pretty accurate. If you want something that can handle regular text as well as business cards, bills, and whiteboards, Prizmo is a valuable option. It will also read recognized text back to you, which certainly has its useful applications as well. There are different voices available (Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish) for which you have to pay about $3.50 each.

The test environment …

I fed the apps with two different pages but took new photos with each app as each app had varied requirements and preferences for the camera.
There is a simple page and one with a simple table.

Here is the dish for OCR capable apps.

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The results …

All photos have been taken from within the apps.
The device was an iPhone 4S without using it’s LED flash.

ImageToText

The image shows the apps screen and the returned E-Mail containg the converted text.

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Conversion of tables can be used to extract data line by line.

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Features of ImageToText compared with criteria:

YES Zoom functionality
NO LED flash On/Off
NO Multi-Page processing
NO Availability of ‘Open in another app’
NO Cropping
NO Editing to correct OCR processing

TextGrabber

TextGrabber offers full camera control as well as cropping.

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Sharing and translating (using Google Translate) are additional features of TextGrabber.
I checked the translation into German and it was pretty good in this case. But obviously this depends on the content. I saw Google translations from US English into German where the result was as disastrous as the Titanic case.

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Converting tables into text is not usable.

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Features of TextGrabber compared with criteria:

NO Zoom functionality
YES LED flash On/Off
YES Multi-Page processing
NO Availability of ‘Open in another app’
YES Cropping
YES Editing to correct OCR processing

Prizmo

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Converting tables into text is not usable.
Prizmo offers a special feature for converting bills. If a photo is taken there is vertical divider line with which lables on the left side con be separated from prices on the right side. But even with this functionality 50% of the extracted lines were invalid.

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This images gives you an impression of some other features.

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Features of Prizmo compared with criteria:

YES Zoom functionality
YES LED flash On/Off
YES Multi-Page processing
YES Availability of ‘Open in another app’
YES Cropping
YES Editing to correct OCR processing

A pretty nice feature if Prizmo is that scans are saved in the documents folder with the original image and the extracted text.

Summary …

There is no need to spend much money for an OCR capable app.
By the way: The prize of Prizmo is not far away from being dubious.
Admittedly Prizmo presents a perfect UI and many additional features other apps don’t offer.

Prizmo was updated on 2013-05-15 and I checked it again regarding scanning of tables. The result: Text recognition still perfect, table recognition still bad.

The results of using additional features of TextGrabber or Prizmo didn’t improve the quality of the result. Some features had the reverse effect of what was intended.

The best result in converting an image to text was achieved by the free app ImageToText.
The reason seems to be obvious because there is no OCR processing implemented in the app. By sending the image to an external webserver some grown-up OCR software there can do the job.

Do not try to begin digitizing lots of personal or business documents with one of these apps as it is suggested on websites and other media.

In no case a conversion was free of errors and manual corrections were necessary.
But it’s better to have one of these apps than to manually write down text from on image if this occurs occasionally.

What about PDFs …

If you have a document in PDF file format there is a simple solution to extract the text:

  • Open the document e.g. in
    PDF Expert (Readdle)
    Documents (Readdle)
    GoodReader (Goodiware)
    Adobe Reader (Adobe)
  • Mark the text
  • Copy the text to the clipboard

Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.
Comments and Likes are appreciated.





Text Recognition (1)

19 06 2013

Did you ever need the content of a printed document but couldn’t find the associated file?
Copy word for word into a new document is a suitable task only for short notes.
Did you ever see a text far away from your device you would like to quote?

As you read these words on iNotes4You, your eyes and brain are carrying out OCR operations without you even noticing. Your eyes are recognizing the patterns of light and dark that make up the characters displayed on your device. It took you a long time learning all the patterns and absorbing their meaning. Your brain now can figure out what I’m trying to say (sometimes by reading individual characters but mostly by scanning entire words and whole groups of words at once).

Reading handwritten text of different people improves your experiences with extracting the concealed information. Your brain is like a database saving all the different mutants of a character.

Transferring printed documents to digital text makes the job easier and you don’t have to spend your precious time for typing it manually into a new document. Luckily, you can use your iOS device to do OCR (Optical Character Recognition).

Take a snap of the document with your iPhone and hey, presto.

OCR in action

OCR software extracts all the information from the image and converts it into text. To do this job a stand-alone algorithm implemented in a software application is not sufficient. It must be supported by a database when it comes to non-unique results e.g. a ‘g’ or ‘q’ in a word. The algorithm then has to ask the database wether the first or an alternate variant is a well-known word.

There are many causes preventing the technique to do the job without errors. The error frequency is mainly determined by the following disturbances:

  • Color
  • Formatting
  • Contrast
  • Orientation
  • Incomplete characters
  • Font type
  • Surrounding non-text elements
  • and more …

Most of the problems can be avoided by using a special font set called OCR-A.

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Converting with 100% accuracy in 100% of the time would be nice, but we’re talking about OCR on an iPhone or iPad and not about an expensive professional equipment.
The important thing is that you provide the best source image possible. This generally means a flat page with clear text and sufficient lighting. If you can do your part and take a good picture all apps seems to have no trouble doing the job with occasional manual corrections.

Microsoft OneNote …

Microsoft OneNote is part of the Office suite and offers OCR.
Just open OneNote drag the image into the workspace and use ‘Copy text from image’. Depending on the image quality and the amount of not-wanted surrounding information you have to do some manual editing.

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Unfortunately the free app Microsoft OneNote for iOS devices does not support OCR.

FreeOCR …

This free OCR software uses the Tesseract OCR engine (HP), one of the most accurate open source OCR engines available.

FreeOCR offers a simple UI with two windows (left=the original image / right=the extracted text). It supports most image files and multi-page TIFF files.

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Steps to do by OCR software …

  • Loading image as bitmap
    The source usually is a file with one of the well-known formats BMP, JPEG, PNG and so on. PDF files must be supported as well, many documents are stored as images in PDF format and the only way to extract text from such files is to perform OCR.
  • Detecting the relevant image features
    Many OCR algorithms expect some predefined range of font sizes and foreground/background colors so the image must be rescaled and inverted before processing when necessary.
  • Reducing disturbances
    An image can be skewed or it can have a lot of optical noise, so deskew- and despeckle-algorithms are applied to improve the image quality.
  • Converting to bi-tonal image
    Many OCR algorithms require bi-tonal image, therefore color or grayscale must be converted to black-and-white image. This process is called ‘binarization’ (reducing to two colors) and in some cases it is an important step because incorrect binarization will cause a lot of problems.
    In other cases, the algorithm performs better on the original image and so this step is skipped.
  • Lines detection and removing
    This step is required to improve page layout analysis, to achieve better recognition quality for underlined text, to detect tables, etc.
  • Page layout analysis
    This steps is also called ‘zoning’. At this stage OCR system must detect positions and types of the important areas of the image. It has to identify columns, paragraphs, captions, etc. as distinct blocks. This is important in multi-column layouts often used in newspapers and tables.
  • Detection of text lines and words
    This might be a complex task when analyzing layout-oriented articles in magazines because of different font sizes and space between words and lines.
  • Combined-Broken characters analysis
    It’s a common situation that some characters look broken or touch each other. So OCR has to separate characters and virtually complete their shapes.
  • Recognition of characters
    This is the main algorithm of OCR. An image of every character must be converted to appropriate character code. Sometimes this algorithm produces several character codes. For instance, recognition of the image of ‘I’ may produce ‘I’, ‘1’, or ‘l’ codes and the final character code has to be selected by looking on the context.
  • Dictionary support
    This step can improve recognition quality, some characters like ‘1’ and ‘I’, ‘C’ and ‘G’ may look similar and the dictionary must help to make the decision.
  • Saving results
    The last step is to transfer the pure text into a suitable output format e.g. a searchable PDF, DOCX, RTF, TXT. The greatest challenge is to keep the original page layout for columns, fonts, colors, pictures, background etc.

A sneak peek …

There are a lot of OCR apps for iOS devices. Cost varies and so do feature sets. Some are limited towards scanning business cards. In any case the image should not look like my image above.
Anyway you must keep your feet on the ground. Forget suggestions of app developers that you can convert all your printed documents into readable text.

Part 2 of ‘Text recognition’ is coming soon and compares valuable apps for iOS devices as there are ImageToText, Text Grabber, and Prizmo.

Thanks for dropping by.








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