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Thread: Smooth Reflection App

  1. #1
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    Smooth Reflection App

    Yesterday I went to Sunset Cliffs to photograph the sunset and test out the smooth reflection app. The app essentially duplicates an ND filter by averaging multiple images (there is a big thread on FM).

    The sunset was so nice I actually forgot to test out the SR app until the light was almost gone so I only made a few test pictures.

    The first pictures are:
    * single shot 1.6s f/11 ISO 100
    * HDR 5s/1.6s/0.6s f/11 ISO 100
    * Smooth Reflection 16x 1.3s f/11 ISO 100
    * Smooth Reflection 16x 1.3s f/11 ISO 100 - no adjustments

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    Except for the last picture, they have been synced to have the same adjustments in lightroom. As per the FM thread I exposed for the highlight (no overexposure).


    The next two pictures are comparisons of
    * single shot vs smooth reflection
    * HDR vs smooth reflection

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    They are screenshots at 2:1 on my retina laptop.

    In terms of noise it appears that the ranking is single shot << smooth reflection < HDR

    So far I really like the app and I can see myself using it more often. The pros are:

    * looks natural
    * provides more stop granularity than ND filters (I only have 3,6,10 stops)
    * in some cases I may be able to skip filters altogether or I maybe able to get away with a lower density ND filter
    * generates a single raw file (so easier workflow)
    * reduces noise over a single picture

    For the cons I see:
    * app is fiddly (you lose some custom settings like back button focus)
    * HDR is slightly better on noise
    * harder to time shots when waves are coming in
    Stephen Bay
    bayimages.net
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  2. #2
    Senior Member frozenbb's Avatar
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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    Thanks for starting this thread, Stephen, it broadly agrees with my brief experience with the app. As I said on the "Fun with..." thread, I do wish different shutter modes were selectable in app. I also wish the app aligned frames before stacking, though with good technique this isn't too important. Multi-frame hdr does seem better on the noise, though it's advantage goes away if you're stacking lots and lots of frames (say, 128 or 256).

    As you say, it's nice not to need ND filters, or at least to be able to use a weaker one if you do.

    I hadn't seen that thread on FM, so I guess I was late to the party! Good resource.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ggibson's Avatar
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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    Thanks so much for the images and comments!!!

    Very useful information. I was just looking into this app and the SkyHDR app myself, and purchased the latter to test out last night. I don't have any grad NDs for my Sony system yet, so I'm curious to see if it can replace that need. The fact that it can output a merged RAW file is very cool. Have you tested that app at all?

    A couple of questions on the Smooth Reflections app:

    1. Can it output a RAW file?
    2. Does it save all of the individual images or just merge them into one?
    3. Have you tried shooting star trails with it? Does it produce gaps in trails? (or with other moving lights like cars?)

    I have a CPL and 10-stop for my 16-35mm, but I'd definitely appreciate the flexibility in granularity between stops that the Smooth Reflections app seems to provide. Maybe a 3-stop is all that is needed really. Also, it would seem to eliminate risk of color-shift at with NDs and make it easier to compose since your preview will be getting a lot more light.

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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    Fred Miranda posted some very useful information regarding this app and the ND (stop) equivalents:

    From my calculations here are the number of images needed to match the equiv. ND filters:

    1 stop (2 shots)
    2 stops (4 shots)
    3 stops (8 shots)
    4 stops (16 shots)
    5 stops (32 shots)
    6 stops (64 shots)
    7 stops (128 shots)
    8 stops (256 shots)

    He also posted the equivalents with an added ND filter:

    Starting with a 3-stop filter:

    4 stops (2 shots)
    5 stops (4 shots)
    6 stops (8 shots)
    7 stops (16 shots)
    8 stops (32 shots)


    Starting with a 6-stop filter:

    7 stops (2 shots)
    8 stops (4 shots)
    9 stops (8 shots)
    10 stops (16 shots)
    11 stops (32 shots)

    The greatest use, for me (besides the convenience of not carrying around an array of ND filters) is eliminating a difficult color cast with high ND (>6) filters. Using a 3 stop filter plus app. seems very doable.

    Note - gleaning from other's experiences, it seems the app doesn't align the images. So a sturdy tripod is a necessity. Also, it apparently does a good job at eliminating most ghosts.

    I haven't had a chance to try out the app for anything serious. My RX1rII is currently in for replacement.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ggibson View Post
    Thanks so much for the images and comments!!!

    Very useful information. I was just looking into this app and the SkyHDR app myself, and purchased the latter to test out last night. I don't have any grad NDs for my Sony system yet, so I'm curious to see if it can replace that need. The fact that it can output a merged RAW file is very cool. Have you tested that app at all?

    A couple of questions on the Smooth Reflections app:

    1. Can it output a RAW file?
    2. Does it save all of the individual images or just merge them into one?
    3. Have you tried shooting star trails with it? Does it produce gaps in trails? (or with other moving lights like cars?)

    I have a CPL and 10-stop for my 16-35mm, but I'd definitely appreciate the flexibility in granularity between stops that the Smooth Reflections app seems to provide. Maybe a 3-stop is all that is needed really. Also, it would seem to eliminate risk of color-shift at with NDs and make it easier to compose since your preview will be getting a lot more light.
    I can answer the first 2. You have a choice of outputs, and RAW is one of them. It only saves a single image.
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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    The app relies on the mechanical shutter and there is a noticeable but small delay between shots. I suspect this would be fine for star trails but it's definitely not workable for vehicle lights if you have it break in the middle of movement. See this example picture: Sky HDR and Smooth Reflection Apps - FM Forums

    I suppose if the base exposures are longer (e.g. on the order of seconds) and the vehicle can move through the scene in that time it may work fine.

    FYI there is a light trail app in the play memories store. I haven't used it though.
    Stephen Bay
    bayimages.net

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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    I suspect a long exposure is a given for the usefulness of this app. The exposure is identical to what you would use without the app., the difference being the elimination of a high ND filter.

    Another note - definitely "expose for highlights" when using. According the FM, there is zero latitude at the high end.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ggibson's Avatar
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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    Thanks for the answers and added info on this app. Very nice that these apps output RAW, although like dandrewk noted, I wonder if the output is less flexible than a single RAW shot would have been. I may do some latitude testing with the SkyHDR app.

    I'm very happy to skip the square filters/holders if the SkyHDR can do the job instead. It's still not always a substitute for software blending if your horizon is anything but close to straight, but neither are filters anyways. I'll hang onto my CPL and a single ND to go along with Smooth Reflection. I don't think I'd want to use this app to blend more than 5 stops, since it would really start to wear down your shutter.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ggibson's Avatar
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    Re: Smooth Reflection App

    Also, I realized that these apps are great for getting grad ND or long ND exposures with lenses that don't play well with filters (either due to rounded/protruding optics or built-in lens hoods). No more having to cut the petals off the Voigtlander 15mm!

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