Initial Trial with "SMART" module of Arsenal
After yesterdays initial trial with the app and a brief try with the "TIMELAPSE" module, today I got some time to try out the "SMART" module. While the set up is smooth with some minor infrequent hiccups, overall there are some issues that need to be fixed and the app has a long way to go. By using this device over past two days, I have realized that the creator's intent is to make a better device/hardware initially and improve the app/software over time and I hope that would be realized sooner than later.
All today's trials were done indoors in not so great lighting conditions (as the intent was to test for the performance of the device/app at constrained conditions), I used a Nikon D750 camera with a Nikon 24-85 mm f/2.8-4. All the files here will have a complete metadata in them, follow the instructions below to view it.
For metadata, hover over any image and click on the i button (Red arrow)
Just to note here that this photo was not taken with Arsenal device.
the following were the scenes that were tried, this is just to give you a brief idea of the lighting conditions. Both these shots were taken from an iPhone 5S
I tried the following in the "SMART" module of the Arsenal app:
1. Take a shot with SMART mode, i.e. allow the app/device to make the decision.
2. Try Single point focus (only for one of the scenes).
3. Try multiple focus points.
4. Try exposure stacking.
5. Try focus stacking.
6. Take a shot of the scene with the camera auto mode (unfortunately I could do this to only one of the scenes)
7. Take another shot in the manual mode as per my experience and retouch with Lightroom (this again I was able to do for only one scene).
all the results are summarized below. I did try my best to keep the light conditions same throughout the time.
1. Take a shot with SMART mode, i.e. allow the app/device to make the decision
As you can see the results were not impressive at all, to say the least! I will be taking it outdoors to try it more and I guess it works better in better lighting conditions! and hopefully, it will work better over time (via firmware updates/app updates) at low light as well!
2. Try Single point focus
The 1st image from left acts as a representative of both the smart mode for the 2nd scene as well trying out single point focus. It takes approximately 15-20 s for the focus to lock, I expect that to improve over time.
3. Try multiple focus points
The overall sharpness of the image did improve significantly with multipoint focus, but it took more than 3 min for it to focus 4 points fully at the above lighting conditions (see screen shots below)! I tried the whole scene focus, but it took ages to focus on the lighting conditions as above and it didn't work out well, need to try that again!
4. Try exposure stacking
First I should note that for either exposure or focus stacking the app/device does not yet performs the stacking in the device, I believe Arsenal is aware of the issue and working on fixing it! For the 1st scene, it didn't work out well at all. Just like the full "SMART" overexposed the image, these series of images were overexposed as well and also for that scene it didn't even change the EV compensation values as well!! so I am not posting those images here but if anyone is interested all the images discussed here are available at full res at the following link (images labeled "exposure stacking-arsenal set-1"):
For the 2nd it fared better, but it just focussed on only 1 point and that could be because I didn't change from single point to the whole scene as it was taking quite long for that to happen! For raw images from this set open the link
and look for images labeled "exposure stacking-arsenal set-2"
5. Try focus stacking
Like I mentioned in the previous section for focus stacking the app/device does not yet performs the stacking in the device and I believe Arsenal is aware of the issue and working on fixing it! For the 1st scene, the issue was same like for exposure compensation and also the focus steps were not incremental and it changed aperture in between (10 images for stacking) it didn't work out well at all. so I am not posting those images here but if anyone is interested all the images discussed here are available at full res at the following link (images labeled "focus stacking-arsenal set-1"):
For the 2nd it fared better, I set 6 images to be stitched. For raw images from this set open the link https://www.keshavamysorephotography.com/Witharsenal/Smart-mode-1/ and look for images labeled "focus stacking-arsenal set-2"
6 & 7
for these check the link below and look for "in camera auto without flash", "in camera auto with flash" and "manual settings-1 & 2"
In summary, while the hardware looks well and good I would say the software/app has a long way to go in what it can do (even considering I am not the best person to be doing these kinds of reviews) and it definitely has the potential for it. It is still buggy and the creator/developer policy seems to be concentrate on hardware/device first and later push software/app improvements over time. I believe that's a sound model, but at least a decent initial product need to be present in peoples had to gain their trust. Hopefully, that will happen before it reaches the thousands that are waiting for it. Another immediate need is (this is based on many comments that I saw on KS & FB-please note that this is not true for all), to create a very understandable and simple video manual for using the device/app. If not, once few thousand people have the device on their hand and if it involves a steep learning curve, that could lead to serious trouble. I will keep updating or making new reports as I use it more and hope it will be helpful for everyone.