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Friday, 29 January 2010


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I know people who would not think this is funny, at all! Which is, in and of itself, funny as hell.

Good show.


Face detection in Paris.

We went to visit the catacombs of Paris which have huge quantities of human remains piled neatly to each side.

The freaky bit was that our compact focused perfectly on the skulls. Large groups no problem even in very low light

I would like a "snout detection" mode that focused on pet faces in preference to human faces. Actually, it would be nice if it only focused on pet faces.

Only dogs and cats? What about a gerbil or ferret? Did they test this at a sideshow to see if it works with the dog-faced boy?

Next iteration -- a digital camera that automatically blurs the faces of people you no longer like, like ex-significant others.

Witness the difference between Olympus who do something NEW and put it into a nostalgia package, and this Pentax thing. Which seems absolutely free of (substantial) 'new'. Unfortunately.

"engineering and marketing declared it a feature"

ROTFL! After spending a dozen years working in the software industry, I'll say that this really DOES happen, and more often than you'd think.

Thanks, Hugh

Confounded briefly by this scene, my G11 selected the gentleman in the nice jumper / sweater for "face" recognition, rather than the young lady on the box behind him. So Canon is clearly ahead of Pentax in the race to recognize two dots, a snout and a hat as something needing a small circle of confusion.

Don Craig

Funny comment, but not as funny as the camera styling. The whole point of retro design is to hearken back to an thing in the past, much beloved by many. This hearkens back but raises the question as to why you would remind everyone of your failures.

As a software developer, I take the same view as Hugh. Unfortunately developing software (for cameras) is a cheaper proposition than doing the critical stuff like improving the optics and sensor.

Another worrying trend is using software to compensate for poor optics (or sensors). For example the Canon S90 has significant barrel distortion which is corrected in software. I hope this is an intermediate solution until they improve the lens.

Don't get me wrong - I love the convenience of digital but not at the expense of image quality. I wish the manufacturers would stop with the fripperies.

I think the styling proves Pentax has a sense of humor.

@Sven W: if the software can correct it invisibly, is it an image quality problem? I'll bet the easiest way to optically correct the barrel distortion would be to make the lens bigger, which isn't a very nice plan for a compact camera.

About ten years ago, I was working on a research project in which some Italian colleagues had built some fancy new face recognition prototype.

After presenting and demonstrating the technology (which worked reasonably well), our Italian colleague grabbed a few shots of his prime minister from the web, put them through the system, and... it failed on all of them.

"See!", he exclaimed, "This is proof that Berlusconi is not human!"

If this had been a 4/3 dSLR, it would have been the coolest thing ever. The Pentax 110 SLR was the coolest camera in the world to me, when I was seven.

Too bad they don't have software to detect terrorists' faces. Or burglars' faces. Or how about some photoshop tool to get rid of faces after a divorce.

Stop making fun of this. It could be big.

I love it, "...declared it a feature". Reminds me of the recent wired article on the new iPad where they go through a list of 10 things the iPad doesn't have and proceeded to call each "missing thing" a feature.

"... imbued with the "Shroud of Turin feature" whereby it recognizes and tracks the faces it detects on manhole covers, burnt toast, and twenty dollar bills."

Bravo, LOL!

"Many a small thing has been made great by the right advertising."
-- Mark Twain

Cyril's post made my day (I'm italian...). And like Ryan I'd like to dissent from Sven. I think that correcting by SW all the features in a lens that can be exactly predicted (like barrel distortion) makes a lot of sense, and not only in cheap camera/lenses. I'm not an optical engineer, but I presume that designing a lens is always a trade-off between the various parameters (and cost). Being able to skip one optimization can lead either to better optimization of others, or to cheaper lenses. Without compromising the image quality. So yes digital is great, if used sensibly. And back to face recognition, certainy a feature that any amateur would switch-off at once, but I bet it will reduce the number of failures for casual point-and-shooters. So more acceptable pictures and less ... dogs.

I'm guessing this is just another feature add-on that companies like Pentax cram into their cameras so that we are led to believe it's the next best thing and we have to have it. When the creative geniuses start running out of ideas these are the things that we end up with!

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