Episode 282: The Arsenal 2, Is It For You?

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Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 282. In today’s episode I want to talk about a new photography device that students have been asking me about and that is the Arsenal 2 “Intelligent Camera Controller”.

Back in 2019 there was a Kickstarter Campaign for a new photography device that was supposed to make photography easier for anyone called the Arsenal. It was basically a little black box that attached to the top of your camera in the hotshoe and then plugged into your cameras data port using a USB Cable and then using the Arsenal app you could control your camera and get different types of photographs that were more complicated to make like Timelapse’s much more easily. The unit was buggy from what I read online and people were disappointed with it but now the company has released the Arsenal 2.

I missed out on the first unit as I had no personal need for any such thing being that I have been shooting for over 30 years. I can control my camera myself quite well and if I want to dabble into something new in photography I can figure it out. The Arsenal 2 is “supposed” the be able to take the guesswork out of certain types of photography and help you get “fantastic” results.

First let me start off my letting you know what cameras the Arsenal 2 works with as it is not guaranteed to work with ALL cameras on the market today. From the Supported Cameras page on their website https://witharsenal.com/supported-cameras

we have the following:

So as you can see we have a decent list of cameras with Fujifilm having the least amount of cameras supported, but since I have two X-T4s I should be good to go. Now the Arsenal 2 is currently in post Kickstarter status and you can buy one for $219 and for an extra $29 get the phone mount with it which allows you to attach your phone and Arsenal 2 both to the top of your camera at the same time and your phone basically becomes a larger LCD screen for your camera. You can also get a 128GB MicroSD card from them as well for $31.99, but you can get the same size Sandisk Extreme for $18 on Amazon so I’d get it there. Once the Arsenal goes full retail the prices increase to $275 for the unit, $40 for the phone mount and $40 for the MicroSD card.

But, what exactly is Arsenal 2 “supposed” to do for your photography? Well, let’s dive into that now using the information from the company themselves. Arsenal’s tagline is “Camera body meet Camera brain” Arsenal 2’s smart assistant AI suggests settings based on your subject and environment. It uses an advanced neural network to pick the optimal settings for any scene (using similar algorithms to those in self driving cars). Here’s how it works:

  1. Arsenal 2 quickly examines the scene. It uses image recognition to identify environment and subject-specific needs (e.g. fast shutter for birds or camera vibration).
  2. Arsenal then finds great settings by comparing the current scene with thousands of professional photos using a convolutional deep neural network.
  3. Lastly, Arsenal 2 optimizes settings based on 22 different factors like hyperfocal distance, sensor dynamic range and lens transmission.

Take Sharper Photos

Smart Assistant customizes settings based on the lens and camera you’re using, along with how they perform in different situations. Is your lens weaker at certain apertures? Arsenal 2 will move settings to avoid those weaknesses. Sitting atop your camera, Arsenal’s accelerometer can judge exactly how stable your camera is. It can then choose the perfect shutter speed to get sharp photos without noise.

Amazing Photos without Editing

Arsenal 2’s Deep Color uses a neural network to intelligently develop each photo. Deep Color is not a look or a filter. Instead, it produces a set of adjustments custom to each photo. The results are balanced yet powerful, rendering bold images that flatter every photo without being over the top. See the difference in these examples comparing a camera’s built-in colors to Arsenal 2’s Deep Color.

Full Wireless Control

Arsenal 2 lets you control your camera from up to 100 feet away. Tap to focus, change settings, see a live preview, and take the shot—all from your phone.

Live View – Compose the perfect shot. Easily add grids and a level to make sure you photo is perfectly aligned.

Focus – Focus with a tap. Use the focus loupe to dial in focus on a single point, or select multiple points and Arsenal 2 will make sure they are all in focus.

Settings – For times when you want complete control, you can set EV, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.

Capture Photos That Are Out of This World

Night photography is notoriously difficult. Arsenal 2’s Night Assist makes it easy. It can focus on the stars with a tap*, then calculate the perfect settings to get sharp, detailed night photos.

Get It All In Unbelievable Detail

Panoramas make for powerful photos, but there’s too much guessing involved. With Arsenal 2’s live panorama, you can be sure you didn’t miss anything. The Arsenal 2 Phone Mount accessory (sold separately) holds Arsenal 2 and your phone, so you can watch the panorama build as you shoot. When you’re done, crop the final output and it’s ready to share.

Stacking Made Easy

If there’s one secret of the pros in landscape and real-estate photography, it’s stacking. Stacking simply is taking multiple photos and merging them together to capture detail that is lost in a single exposure. Arsenal 2 makes stacking easy.

Magically Remove People from Shots

By combining multiple shots, Crowd Control can automatically remove people and other moving objects from your photos.

Always Shoot the Sweet Spot

Getting sharp photos isn’t easy. Arsenal 2 can automatically take and merge multiple photos at different focus positions (at the lenses sharpest aperture) to create incredibly sharp shots.

Great Shots in Tricky Light

Even with today’s high dynamic range cameras, it’s very common to lose details in the highlights or shadows. Arsenal 2 can automatically detect when detail is being lost and take multiple photos at different shutter speeds to capture all of the missed detail, then merges the photos for you.

Capture Long Exposures

Soft clouds and smooth water can really isolate a subject and simplify an otherwise complex scene. Normally you need expensive ND filters to capture long exposures. Arsenal 2 can combine multiple photos, averaging the pixel values to generate long exposures without the need for ND filters.

The Best Photo Review

Let’s face it, reviewing images on your camera’s tiny screen is never fun. With Arsenal, you can review them wirelessly on your phone. Flip through photos instantly, zoom in to see details at full-resolution, then share favorites right from your phone.

Pro Workflow, Without the Work

MICRO SD STORAGE

Arsenal 2 comes with a Micro SD card slot*. This allows you to save stacked photos, panoramas and Deep Color photos as JPG or 16-bit DNGs. Timelapses can be saved as 1080p h.264 videos.

REAL-TIME BACKUP

With the onboard Micro SD slot, Arsenal 2 can provide real-time backup of your photos as you take them, bringing peace of mind when shooting with a single card slot camera.

SAVE TO PHONE

Getting photos from camera to phone can be time consuming. Arsenal 2 gives you the option to have JPGs and timelapse videos save automatically to your phone’s Photo app.

Capture Stunning Timelapses

We love timelapses, so we designed the best timelapse interface on the planet. Set your parameters, then ask Arsenal 2 to adjust the exposure in changing light for a smooth day-to-night transition. You can even preview your timelapse while it’s being recorded. Once you start your timelapse, Arsenal 2 takes care of the rest. You (and your phone) can leave your camera working. Come back anytime to check on the progress or make adjustments while the scene is still being captured.

So for this episode I took my Arsenal 2 out with one of my Fujifilm X-T4s and I used my XF16-80mm F/4 lens. I shot a single frame of the American flag on our flagpole in our front yard. This first image is how it rendered out of Arsenal 2’s “Deep Color”.

And here is the same shot that I processed as a RAW file in Capture One Pro 22 myself using the Fujifilm VELVIA Film Simulation and I slightly tweaked the Highlights and Shadows.

As you can see the version of the image that I processed myself has far superior colors! Now Arsenal’s people say you can continue sliding the colors in “Deep Color” and I only slide them from the original Left to Right and stopped so I am NOT bashing them, I will give the unit a fair test during my Youtube review! So after hearing all of this I am sure you are thinking “Wow this thing is amazing, I need to run out and buy one now”!!! Well, hold off on that, let me test it and post my review video on my Youtube channel in the next couple of weeks and then you can decide on whether or not you want to part with your hard earned money. I have already read a few reviews on this product and some people sing its praises and some blast it as useless junk, so let me risk my money before you risk yours.

Also be sure to join the Liam Photography Podcast Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/liamphotographypodcast/ You can reach the show by call or text @ 470-294-8191 to leave a comment or request a topic or guest for the show. Additionally you can email the show @ liam@liamphotographypodcast.com and find the show notes at http://www.liamphotographypodcast.com.

You can find my work @ https://www.liamphotography.net on and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @liamphotoatl. If you like abandoned buildings and history, you can find my project @ http://www.forgottenpiecesofgeorgia.com. and http://www.forgottenpiecesofpennsylvania.com.

Please also stop by my Youtube channels Liam Photography

Forgotten Pieces of Georgia Project

Forgotten Pieces of Pennsylvania Project

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