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Nikon introduces ultra-fast AF-S 105mm F1.4E ED prime lens

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 20:00
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Nikon has unveiled the AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E ED, the fastest full-frame lens of its kind with autofocus. Resistant to dust and moisture, the lens uses 14 elements in 9 groups, including 3 ED elements, along with Nano Crystal and fluorine coatings. The lens has 9 rounded aperture blades, and the aperture is electronically controlled, which keeps exposure consistent while shooting high-speed bursts. As you might expect, this is a heavy lens, weighing in at 985g/2.1lbs.

The 105mm F1.4 is expected to ship in late August with a $2,199.95 MSRP.

Press release:

GLAMOROUS GLASS: NIKON CELEBRATES 100 MILLION NIKKOR MILESTONE AND THE INTRODUCTION OF THE AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED LENS

MELVILLE, N.Y. (July 27, 2016 AT 12:01 A.M. EDT) – Today, Nikon Inc. is celebrating a momentous NIKKOR production milestone as well as the announcement of the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED, a premium lens for the most discerning photographers. This luxurious new medium-telephoto lens is engineered to help create flattering images with gorgeous bokeh, while delivering impressive sharpness and beautiful color rendition. As a testament to a lasting legacy of high-caliber lenses, Nikon has also announced that NIKKOR lens production has reached the landmark achievement of 100 million units produced worldwide.

“Surpassing the 100 million lenses produced milestone is a great honor and a testament to the photographers who both love and rely on NIKKOR glass to get the job done,” said Kosuke Kawaura, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “The AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED represents the embodiment of the NIKKOR line of high-quality lenses, giving photographers a robust, well-balanced lens that provides intense sharpness, astounding image quality and background bokeh that is sure to be a favorite among portrait photographers.”

Captivating Image Quality
The AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED is a fast, full-frame (FX-format), medium-telephoto prime lens and is the world’s first1 to strike the impeccable balance of 105mm focal length and large f/1.4 aperture for a truly outstanding optic. This new NIKKOR lens is ideal for professional and advanced enthusiast photographers, especially those capturing portraiture, from in-studio fashion to a golden hour engagement session on the beach. These users will love the precise sharpness from this fantastic glass, which provides a flattering compression to subjects with a sensational, sultry bokeh. Beyond the gorgeous image quality lies stellar resolving power, especially when used with Nikon DSLRs such as D5, D810 or D750.

The 105mm f/1.4E is a fast lens with endearing character, providing stellar optical performance, even in the peripherals. Sharp rendering is attained for shooting distant subjects throughout the aperture range – from maximum aperture to being stopped down by several stops. Gradual alteration from the focal plane helps render subjects in high-fidelity with a natural depth, giving colorful portraits and landscapes that little bit of extra “pop” to help create a truly distinct image. The AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4 is also an excellent choice for low-light photography, as its large maximum aperture allows photographers to shoot at the fastest possible shutter speeds. Additionally, this lens can reproduce point light sources faithfully without sagittal coma flare, even on the edges of the frame.

Masterful Lens Construction
Decades of precision, knowledge and experience are put forth into every NIKKOR lens, and the AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED is an exceptional example of brilliant craftsmanship and Nikon technologies merging. Packed with the latest advanced optical innovations, the 105mm f/1.4 features Nikon’s electromagnetic aperture control technology for consistent exposures, even during high speed continuous shooting.2

On the outside, solid build quality is well-balanced for all-day shooting, while the lens is sealed and gasketed to resist dust and moisture. Additional Fluorine coatings are used on the front and rear elements, so that smudges, dirt or moisture are easily removed. Inside the lens, the optical formula consists of 14 elements in nine groups, which include three ED glass elements. A 9-blade diaphragm further helps to create a circular, pleasing out of focus area. The lens also features Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat technology to significantly reduce instances of ghosting and flare.

The new AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED joins other NIKKOR f/1.4 lenses in the Gold Ring Series, which include only premium primes with Nano Crystal Coat and pro-grade build quality. These other lenses include the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G, AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G, AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G.

A Landmark in the NIKKOR Legacy
Nikon is also pleased to announce that the total production of NIKKOR lenses for Nikon interchangeable lens cameras reached the landmark 100 million milestone in mid-July 2016.

With a robust line-up of high-quality lenses for all types of photographers, the NIKKOR name has become synonymous with a rich history of superior lenses. Nikon continues to introduce new NIKKOR lenses that further optical technology, utilizing cutting-edge techniques and knowledge from experience cultivated over its long history. Such revolutionary advancements include Nano Crystal Coat, which acts as a powerful anti-reflection coating, and significantly reduces instances of ghosting and flare. More recently, NIKKOR lens technologies such as the use of Phase Fresnel (PF) and Fluorite elements have helped to create smaller and lighter lenses with superb balance and handling. Many NIKKOR lenses now also feature a Fluorine coat that helps repel a variety of contaminants such as dust, dirt, water, oils and grease. The introduction of an electromagnetic diaphragm has also helped to create lenses that provide consistently crisp exposures, even during high-speed shooting.

Pricing and Availability
The AF-S NIKKOR 105MM f/1.4E ED will be available in late August for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $2,199.953. For more information on Nikon’s latest products including their newest NIKKOR lenses, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

1: Among AF lenses for digital SLRs compatible with FX-format image sensor; as of July 27, 2016; statement based on Nikon research

2: The lens incorporates an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism. The following cameras are compatible with this lens: D5, D4 series, D3 series, Df, D810, D810A, D800 series, D750, D700, D610, D600, D500, D300 series, D7200, D7100, D7000, D5500, D5300, D5200, D5100, D5000, D3300, D3200, D3100, Nikon 1 J1, J2, J3, J4 with FT-1, Nikon 1 V1, V2, V3 with FT-1, Nikon 1 S1, S2 with FT-1 

3: SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm F1.4E ED specifications Principal specificationsLens typePrime lensMax Format size35mm FFFocal length105 mmImage stabilizationNoLens mountNikon F (FX)ApertureMaximum apertureF1.4Minimum apertureF16Aperture ringNoNumber of diaphragm blades9Aperture notesRounded bladesOpticsElements14Groups9Special elements / coatingsThree ED elements + Nano Crystal and fluorine coatingsFocusMinimum focus1.00 m (39.37″)Maximum magnification0.13×AutofocusYesMotor typeRing-type ultrasonicFull time manualYesFocus methodInternalDistance scaleYesDoF scaleNoFocus distance limiterNoPhysicalWeight985 g (2.17 lb)Diameter95 mm (3.72″)Length106 mm (4.17″)SealingYesFilter thread82.0 mmTripod collarNo
Categories: Photo Gear News

Leica improves Q functionality with firmware 2.0

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 12:27

Leica's Q compact camera has been given a functionality boost with a firmware update that adds the option to shoot Raw-only, and extends the longest shutter speed from 30 seconds to 120 seconds. Firmware version 2.0 makes a number of changes to the way the full-frame 24MP camera operates adding some new features and fixing issues that made handling difficult in some cases.

The AF system functionality has been changed to allow different sized AF selection areas, while at the same time correcting an ability to focus on subjects outside the picture area when shooting in the cropped modes. Face detection also now reverts to multi-area AF when no face is detected in the scene. A useful new feature automatically switches the camera to use the rear LCD to display image review and menu navigation when the EVF is being used – for viewfinder photographers who prefer to see their images and menus in a larger format. Additionally, now user profiles can be accessed via the rather under-utilized Function button.

Leica Q owners can download the new firmware via the Leica website.

Press release: 

Leica releases firmware update 2.0 for Leica Q

Leica has released firmware update 2.0 for the Leica Q, bringing numerous new features to the highly successful full-frame compact camera. The update is available to download now from the Leica web site.

Leica works continuously in close collaboration with Leica photographers on the development and optimisation of its products, and, as a result, a number of enhancements in this latest firmware update have been based on specific customer recommendations and suggestions.

The first of several improvements, DNG format can now be selected as a separate option in addition to JPG and DNG + JPG, allowing photographers to save space on their memory card.

An optimised EVF mode makes navigation even easier than before. With this firmware update, a press of the Menu or Play button now allows the user to switch straight to menu control / picture assessment on the LCD screen.

The shutter speed range has been expanded and now includes speeds of up to 120 seconds.

‘User Profile’ is now directly selectable via the FN button, facilitating quick and easy access to all functions stored in a particular user profile.

The spirit level display has also been improved, remaining visible when the shutter release is pressed.

Three optimised autofocus functions bring further creative freedom:

  • The 1-field autofocus metering area can now be selected in three different sizes: small, medium and large.
  • AF motion in digital zoom mode for focal lengths of 35mm and 50mm has been limited to avoid focusing on objects outside the zoom range.
  • Face Detection has also been optimised: if no face is detected, AF now automatically reverts to multi-field autofocus mode.

Furthermore, a fourth information screen has been added, with the option to display the lower bar separately. The touch-controlled magnification function in playback mode has been revised, whereby double-tapping calls up the maximum enlargement or reduces the image back to original size.

Other new additions include a countdown display for long exposures / noise reduction, three modes available for the thumbwheel (Off/Auto/Exp. Comp.) and deactivation (Mode Lock) of the video button, if required. A change to WiFi password setting now allows the characters to remain visible when entered, and flash-unit compatibility has been extended to support the Leica SF 40 and SF 64.

Leica Q owners can download the firmware update from the Leica web site, or visit their local Leica Store or Leica Customer Care in the UK, for a complimentary firmware update service.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Adobe Lightroom launches for Apple TV

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 10:54

Adobe has announced the launch of Lightroom for Apple TV. The app is available now from the App Store, and is compatible with all fourth-generation Apple TV devices. Users must have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to log in and access their photos. Once logged in, photos can be accessed as collections and showcased in slideshows. You can't do any actual editing in the app - it's for viewing photos only.

Via: Adobe Blog

Categories: Photo Gear News

Popular Prisma photo app now available on Android

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 10:24

Just when we thought filter apps were falling by the wayside, along came Prisma – a wildly popular iOS app now available for Android. Prisma uses a mix of neural networks, artificial intelligence and cloud-based machine learning to apply a range of filter effects, mimicking styles of artists such as Munch or Picasso, to your images. Since its launch a month ago for iOS it has become one of the year's most popular imaging apps.

Until now, Android users had been limited to a buggy beta-version app, but today Prisma Labs, the developers of the app, has finally released the production version on Google Play. As on iOS, the app creates dynamic brush strokes and pencil drawings based on your images. Filters are fine-tunable and the final results can be shared in a variety of ways. Prisma for Android is compatible with devices running version 4.1 or newer of the Google mobile OS and can be downloaded and installed for free from the Google Play Store now. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Big Words and Sports Fans

The Online Photographer - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 08:08
It might surprise you to learn that most "big" (little-known) words aren't big. The least-known words (fylfot, gossypol, absquatulate, obloquy) are on average only one letter longer than common words known to most English speakers. Many five-syllable words (university, humiliation,... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

First impressions review: Lenovo Moto Z Force shows promise

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 04:00

The Moto Z Force is Lenovo's brand new, top-of-the-line smartphone. Currently exclusive to the Verizon network in the US as the Moto Z Force Droid Edition, we expect an international launch of the device in the near future. 

The device packs a 21MP image sensor with a 1.12 µm pixel size, an F1.8 aperture, on-sensor phase detection, laser-assisted AF and an optical image stabilization system into its camera module. The camera app offers full manual control and the Moto Z Force can save DNG Raw files with third party apps, such as Manual Camera.

The metal and glass body is just under 7mm thin and comes with a shatterproof 5.5" Quad-HD AMOLED display and a beefy 3,500 mAh battery. The Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM. Mobile photographers will also appreciate the microSD-slot for easy storage expansion. 

In addition, Moto Z Force users can select from several Moto Mods accessory modules which connect to the back of the device magnetically and via 16 connection points. So far there are the InstaShare projector, a JBL Soundboost 6 Watt speaker and a 2220 mAh battery pack. The Moto team has promised more Moto Mods for the future and according to rumors, one of them could be a camera grip. For now we'll have to make do without the latter, but that hasn't stopped us from shooting with the brand new Moto device. Read on for our first impressions. 

Image Quality

In bright light conditions the Moto's 21MP sensor resolves a good deal of detail. Under close inspection some smearing of fine detail and textures is noticeable, but on the other hand luminance noise is very well controlled. During our brief testing, exposure was reliable but in very bright scenes, such as the one below, the image processing's strong contrast can results in some clipped highlights. That said, overall the Moto Z Force does well in these conditions.

 ISO 50, 1/760 sec

Color tends to be quite saturated, but neutral and without any notable casts. This includes bright red tones which many smartphone cameras struggle with, especially under strong illumination.

 ISO 50, 1/452 sec

At higher ISOs the camera finds a good compromise between noise reduction and detail retention. The ISO 320 shot below was captured in a fairly well-lit interior space and shows very good edge detail. 

 ISO 320, 1/33 sec

The ISO 500 shot below shows some more luminance noise in the mid-tone areas of the frame but the noise pattern has a fairly fine grain and is not too intrusive. Chroma noise is well under control and the image still shows a very good amount of fine textures and detail.

 ISO 500, 1/25 sec

The Moto Z Force maintains good exposure and color down to very low light levels. The challenging lighting conditions in the shot below lead to some channel clipping in the illuminated stage area, but overall the scene is captured very nicely. The slow shutter speed of 1/10sec results in some blur on moving subjects but the optical image stabilization does a very good job at counteracting camera shake. 

 ISO 1250, 1/10 sec Special modes

The Moto Z Force comes with Motorola's usual HDR mode which does an efficient job of protecting the highlights in high-contrast scenes, such as the one below. Using the standard auto exposure mode, some clipping occurs on the light colored elements in the frame. Using HDR mode, image clipping is noticeably reduced. Shadows are lifted very slightly but overall the image still looks pleasantly natural.

 ISO 50, 1/1468 sec, standard exposure  HDR exposure

Night mode is not a new feature for Moto devices but the latest incarnation works in a slightly different way than before. In low light scenes the camera automatically triggers multi-frame capture which produces clean images but struggles with moving subjects, which often show pronounced motion blur. On the new device, night mode now saves a standard exposure in addition to the night mode image, allowing the user to pick the version which best suits their purposes.

The sample images below both report ISO 1000 and a shutter speed of 1/10sec in the EXIF data. However, as you can see at close-up view they look very different. The multi-frame night mode image on the left is cleaner but shows motion blur, even on slow-moving subjects. The accompanying standard exposure shows better edge definition on moving subjects but noticeably higher levels of luminance noise. 

Night mode Standard exposure 100% crop 100% crop

In video mode the Moto Z Force is capable of recording both 1080p Full HD and 4K footage. The combination of digital and optical stabilization keeps things steady and allows for smooth panning. The 1080p video below shows similar tonal characteristics to the still images and decent detail but very occasionally we found the lens refocusing for no obvious reason.

The 4K video mode offers noticeably better detail for those who need it. It also allows users to grab 8MP video stills for those occasions when the full 21MP still resolution is not needed.

First impressions 

With its solid build, large high-resolution screen and metal frame the Moto Z Force looks and feels like a premium device. The Snapdragon 820 chipset under the hood ensures the performance of the Android operating system matches the device's high-end exterior and the 3,500 mAh battery lets you shoot, edit and share images for a long time away from a power outlet.

The camera module's 21MP captures a good level of detail and offers plenty of scope for cropping. There are the usual signs of smearing of fine textures at base ISO, but in low light the camera finds a good balance between noise reduction and detail retention. In addition, night mode lets you pick between a clean multi-frame image that works best for static scenes, and a standard exposure that shows more noise but is capable of freezing at least some motion. 

Colors are mostly quite saturated and contrast is strong which can lead to some highlight-clipping in high-contrast scenes. However, HDR mode does a very efficient job of protecting highlight detail, and in addition the Moto Z Force allows for the capture of DNG Raw files with third party camera apps, such as Manual Camera. This allows you to apply your very own mix of contrast, saturation, noise reduction and other image parameters in post processing. Add the camera app's full manual control into the mix, plus the potential of a camera-grip add-on module in the nearer future, and the Moto Z Force is one of the year's most interesting mobile photography products thus far.

Categories: Photo Gear News

This is what it looks like when Getty prepares for the Olympics

DPReview News - Tue, 07/26/2016 - 03:00

Michael Heiman, Getty's Director of Global Event Operations, has his work cut out for him in Rio. He's been posting photos to his Instagram account showing the work going on behind the scenes as his team prepares to cover the Summer Olympics. From the not-so-glamorous task of installing cables, to the confusion caused when he wore a green shirt to a local hardware store, his posts have offered a fascinating look at what it takes to cover a colossal event like the Olympics.

And of course, there's the gear. Observe:

 

It takes a lot gear to cover the Olympics. This is just some of our lens.... #mygettyriooffice #rio2016 #cps #thankscanon #lotsofglass

A photo posted by Michael Heiman (@heiman225) on Jul 23, 2016 at 7:50am PDT

But what about the camera bodies? Glad you asked.

 

You obviously need some camera bodies to go with all that glass. #rio2016 #mygettyriooffice #gearporn #lotsofcameras #eos1dxmarkii #cps #canon #thankscanon #gettysport

A photo posted by Michael Heiman (@heiman225) on Jul 24, 2016 at 5:28am PDT

Not surprisingly, the table is loaded with Canon EOS-1D X Mark I and II bodies, with a couple of 5DSR bodies for good measure, and L-series glass as far as the eye can see. Just another day at the office, right?

Categories: Photo Gear News

Any Love for the D500?

The Online Photographer - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 18:00
Nikon the hibernating bear, hearing the twitter of little mirrorlesses from high in the trees, adds a flip-up screen Hey Nikonians, I know you're out there. Given how much dismay I heard during the many years of the APS-C eclipse... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Venus Optics to launch 'world's widest F2.8 rectilinear lens'

DPReview News - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 16:35

Chinese optical manufacturer Anhui ChangGeng Optical Technology Company Limited, or Venus Optics, is preparing to introduce a 12mm lens that it claims will be the world’s widest F2.8 lens with fully corrected distortion. Going under the Laowa brand name the lens will be called Laowa 12mm F2.8 Zero-D and will be officially announced on July 30th via a Kickstarter campaign.

Venus Optics says that the lens has almost no distortion, hence the ‘Zero-D’ in the name, and has loaned a test unit to a blogger Nicky Bay who has a preview with images on his website. The lens will be manual focus only, will feature an aperture range of F2.8 to F22 and is due to have a seven-bladed iris with clicking stops. The company is also said to be launching a Magic Shift adapter, according to Bay, that allows +/-10mm of shift while converting the lens to a 17mm focal length. The converter will be for Sony E-mount users only.

Specification published on the Laowa Facebook page.

Of course, this isn’t the world’s first rectilinear 12mm with a fast aperture, as F2 and F1.4 12mm lenses exist for the Micro Four Thirds system, and there are Zeiss F2.8 and F2 Samyang 12mm lenses for APS-C sensors, but this lens is designed for full-frame cameras.

The lens, which will be made in Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A, Sony E and Pentax K mounts, is expected to retail at $949, but supporters of the Kickstarter campaign will be able to get one from $649. The Magic Shift will cost $300 and a square filter adapter will be $50.

For more information on Venus Optics see the company website

Categories: Photo Gear News

Branco Ottico creates world's biggest contact print at 24 square meters

DPReview News - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 10:51

Do you lie awake at night wondering how big the world's largest contact print is? Wonder no more. It turns out Branco Ottico, an Italian photography group, created the largest contact print in the world during Phototrace Florence in September 2015. The project involved a 24 square meter (about 258 square feet) photo negative stitched onto an equally large sheet of canvas, and enlisted the help of strangers who placed their hands on the print for the nearly 13-minute exposure.

Their efforts resulted in a successful – and massive – cyanotype print. According to the group's website, the print now holds a Guinness World Record. The whole process has been documented in the newly published video below. Additional photos of the project are available on the group's Instagram.

Via: PetaPixel

Categories: Photo Gear News

The Weekly Flickr Video Series

The Online Photographer - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 10:07
A "face" by SteffenKahl from the "faces in places" project and book Here's something for those interested in the "curation" of digital images in the new era—that is, conceptualizing, editing, and redacting pictures into coherent and fully realized bodies of... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Flickr ownership changes hands as Verizon acquires Yahoo

DPReview News - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 07:42

Telecom giant Verizon will acquire Yahoo and its web properties, including Flickr and photo blogging site Tumblr, for $4.83 billion. It seemed possible that Yahoo might sell its photo-sharing sites separately, as the company announced in March that it was accepting bids for its web properties. Today's announcement confirms that both Flickr and Tumblr will remain a part of Yahoo as it changes hands to Verizon.

Verizon owns AOL and Huffington Post, a point that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer spins as a positive for her company's outlook. In a statement published on Yahoo today, Mayer emphasized that joining forces with AOL could help strengthen Yahoo's mobile offerings.

Regulators must approve the sale before it can be finalized, which is expected to be early next year.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Start-Up Speed and an Enduring Tic

The Online Photographer - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 05:31
Guest post by Christopher J. May Start-up speed with early digitals caused me to develop a nervous tic that still exists today. My first digital camera was a Canon D60. One of the subjects that I was shooting pretty heavily... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Nikon D500 versus D750: Which one is right for you?

DPReview News - Mon, 07/25/2016 - 03:00
Nikon D500 versus D750: Which one is right for you?

The Nikon D500 and D750 scored 91% and 90% respectively when we reviewed them. They both received gold awards. They're about the same size, pretty much the same weight and currently, they both cost about the same amount of money, too. So if you're a Nikon shooter looking to upgrade your camera, which one is right for you?

Join us, as we take a look at the main differences between the D500 and D750.

Sensor size

The largest difference - no pun intended - between the Nikon D750 and the D500 is in terms of sensor size. There's a small disparity in resolution (the D750 offers 24MP whereas the D500 lags a little, at 21MP) but more significant is the fact that the D750's sensor is full-frame. The D500, by contrast, is built around a smaller, DX format (APS-C) sensor, which introduces a 1.5X crop factor, meaning that a 50mm lens on the D500 offers a field of view equivalent to a 75mm lens on the D750. There is a plus side to shooting on a DX-format camera though - the 1.5X increase in effective focal length is very handy for telephoto shooting. 

Leaving aside the effect of the crop factor, typically, we'd expect full-frame sensors to offer better image quality in poor light, at high ISO sensitivity settings, and broader dynamic range, compared to APS-C and smaller sensors. The D500's sensor is very good, but physics is physics, and at any given ISO sensitivity, the D750's noise performance is about one stop better than the D500.

In terms of dynamic range, the D750 offers around 0.8EV more dynamic range at base ISO than the D500, which might not seem like a lot, but it's enough to make a difference in some shooting scenarios (like the scene above, which was exposed in Raw mode for highlights, with shadows and mid-tones brightened in post). On the flip side, the D500 provides an electronic first curtain shutter option, which allows landscape photographers to ensure vibration-free images – something that can be a challenge with the D750. 

Verdict: Both cameras offer excellent image quality, but if you need the extra dynamic range, the D750 is the better camera.

Depth of Field

We've already mentioned the crop factor inherent to shooting with the DX-format D500, but there are other consequences of the smaller sensor. For one thing, it's slightly harder to achieve shallow depth of field with APS-C sensors compared to full frame (you would need a 16mm F1.2 lens to achieve the same DoF as Rishi's 24mm F1.8 FF shot above).

This is because an F1.4 lens on APS-C is equivalent in DoF terms to an F2.1 lens on full-frame (and so on - F2.8 becomes equivalent to F4.2, F4 becomes equivalent to F6...). This might not matter much in everyday shooting, but if you're a fan of very shallow depth of field portraiture, the effect is both easier and cheaper to achieve on full-frame, if you consider the typical price (and size) difference between F1.4 primes and F1.8 equivalents. 

This is the reason why lens manufacturer Sigma introduced its 18-35mm and 50-100mm F1.8 zoom lenses - they're intended to provide a fast maximum aperture for APS-C users equivalent to the unofficial professional standard F2.8 on full-frame. 

Verdict: If you need shallow DoF, go for the D750, if you want extra reach, the D500 is a better choice.

Lens choice

Still on the topic of lenses, another thing to consider when weighing the D500 against the D750 is the fact that lenses designed specifically for the smaller APS-C format of the D500 won't work very well on full-frame. Nikon's DX and FX lens ranges are technically cross-compatible with all FX and DX format Nikon DSLRs, but most DX lenses vignette heavily on full-frame, greatly reducing the usable image area.

Also bear in mind that Nikon has a considerably better developed range of FX lenses than DX, and we strongly suspect that this won't change any time soon. As such, given that FX lenses can be used without any technical limitations on DX, if you're inclined towards the D500, you might still be better off investing in FX lenses – especially if you think you might move up to full-frame in future. The downside is that you might start off with some weird equivalent focal lengths (i.e., a 24-70mm will behave like a 36-105mm).

Verdict: We're calling this one a draw.

Speed

When it comes to speed, the D500 is a clear winner. In many respects a scaled-down D5, the D500 is significantly faster than the D750 and much better equipped to cope with the demands of action photography. A maximum frame rate of 10fps and seemingly infinite buffer (200 Raws) leaves the D750 in the dust.

It's not just about frame rate though. The D500 (pictured above) can also accept faster XQD memory cards, capable of data transfer rates up to 8 Gbit/s.

 A USB 3.0 interface and 1/8000sec maximum shutter speed (compared to USB 2.0 and 1/4000 respectively) cement the D500's action-shooting credentials.

Verdict: D500 wins, by a mile.

Autofocus

It's a similar story with autofocus. While the D750's 51-point AF system is extremely capable, and more than a match for pretty much any competitor in the sub-pro full-frame market segment (including the D810), the D500's AF system is in a different league.

The D500's AF system features 153 AF points, of which 99 are cross-type. Of this total of 153, 55 points can be manually selected, and the center point is sensitive down to -4EV. The D500's smaller sensor actually benefits its AF system, because it means that frame coverage is much broader than the D750 (and any other Nikon full-frame DSLR).

Combine an AF array that covers almost the entire imaging area with a huge degree of AF customization and 3D AF tracking (the D500's 180,000-pixel RGB metering sensor significantly boosts the performance of an already market-leading system) and you get an autofocus powerhouse.

Verdit: D500 wins.

Video

On paper, the D500 roundly beats the D750 in terms of video specification, thanks to the addition of 4K video – a feature that Nikon only offers on two DSLRs (the other being the flagship D5). But as good as the D500's 4K output is, using this mode does come with one big limitation.

In 4K video mode, the D500's crop factor increases from 1.5X to 2.25X. This is pretty limiting when shooting anything that requires a wide field of view, purely from the standpoint of finding a wide enough lens. Even Nikon's super-wide 10-24mm DX format zoom becomes an pretty standard 23-55mm equiv. (with a maximum aperture equivalent to F8-10 in depth of field terms). In HD video mode, there's not much to separate the two cameras. The D500 and D750 offer an extremely similar specification and deliver similar-looking video footage. The addition of a touchscreen on the D500 makes AF point positioning easier, but that's about it (and bear in mind that AF in video mode is pretty poor on both cameras, so you might find that you don't make use of this function much anyway), 

Verdict: If you need 4K, go for the D500 – just make sure you have a wide enough lens.

Flash

Nikon is pitching the D500 as a 'professional' DSLR, despite its sub full-frame sensor. As such, like the flagship D5, it lacks a built-in flash. This cuts down on weight, and also means a theoretically increased resistance to dust and water incursion. The downside is – well, there's no built-in flash.

We actually really like the small built-in flashes on cameras like the D750 and D810, not because they're particularly useful as flashes, but because they can be used to wirelessly trigger groups of Speedlites off-camera. That's conventional optical triggering, but unlike the D500, the D750 is not compatible with Nikon's WR-A10 wireless controller ($200), which allows off-camera flashes to be radio triggered (important when line-of-sight won't cut it).

Verdict: D750's built-in flash offers greater versatility (unless you need radio control), at the expense of reduced environmental sealing.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics and handling are pretty subjective. One person's ideal control system might be maddeningly complex to someone else. Some people really like touch-screens, some people can't see the point of them. Some members of the DPReview editorial team (who shall remain anonymous) actually like Olympus menu systems.

The point being that ergonomically, which of these two cameras is better depends on your personal preferences. Their basic control layout is extremely similar, but they do feel somewhat different in the hand. Despite its smaller sensor, the D500 is actually the larger, heavier (by more than 100g) of the two cameras. The D750 is surprisingly svelte for a full-frame camera, but the D500 feels like it could be used to bang in a few nails.

The D500 provides many more options for customization than the D750, available via a dedicated custom settings GUI. This makes it more versatile for a professional moving between different shooting scenarios.

It also offers a couple of other pretty major features that the D750 doesn't: a touch-screen, and backlit controls. We've found the D500's touchscreen invaluable for things like AF point positioning in live view (especially from awkward low angles) and backlit controls are a huge benefit if you do a lot of shooting at night. 

Verdict: D500 offers more. A touchscreen, more customization and backlit buttons.

Nikon D500 versus D750: Which one is right for you?

So if you've got a couple of thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket, which camera should you buy? 

The Nikon D750 (above) is one of our favorite DSLRs – ever. Its combination of refined handling, a highly capable autofocus system, a surprisingly small and light body and excellent image quality make it fantastic camera for everyday use. The D750 is one of those cameras that we consistently recommend to friends and family, and for most Nikon photographers, there are very few reasons to spend more on the D810.

But then along came the D500. It's an APS-C format camera, but not only is it more 'pro' than any previous DX format DSLR from Nikon, but it outperforms most of the company's full-frame DSLRs, too. The D500 is designed for heavy professional use, with an emphasis on speed and reliability. As we'd expect from a camera that shares so much with the flagship D5, the D500 is a real workhorse, and in many respects (shooting speed, autofocus, video spec, to name just the obvious things) it outmatches the D750, sometimes very significantly.

The D500 also offers 4K video, of course, but unless you really need it, we wouldn't recommend deciding between these cameras purely on the basis of this feature. The aggressive 2.25X crop in 4K mode is pretty limiting, apart from anything else. 

Final verdict

At the end of the day, if it were our money, we'd probably recommend the D500 over the D750. For a photographer interested in capturing sports or fast-moving action it's a no-brainer. The sheer speed of the camera, combined with an excellent AF system and the telephoto-boosting 1.5X crop factor make it a superb tool for this kind of photography. And of course, if you can live with some awkward effective focal lengths, the D500 is fully compatible with all of Nikon's current lenses. 

If you're not a keen sports photographer, you don't need 4K video, and you don't mind not having quite the latest and greatest AF system - go for the D750. You won't be disappointed.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Real world test: The Panono is a 108MP spherical camera

DPReview News - Sun, 07/24/2016 - 04:00
'Uh, what is that thing?'

'What is that thing?' That's the question I was asked pretty much every time I took the Panono out shooting. There is a lot of curiosity surrounding 360/VR content and my week spent fielding questions from curious onlookers as I dipped my toes into a new, more immersive photographic world is proof of that. In fact, only once did someone walk up to me and say "Hey I know what that is, its a 360 VR camera!" And it was a 12 year old child.

Damn know-it-all kids making us all look bad...

Yes, it can be tossed in the air to take a picture. 

So uh, what exactly is it? The Panono is the highest resolution 360-degree still camera currently on the market. A grapefruit-sized ball constructed of tough plastic, the Panono contains 36 separate cameras. Each camera uses a 1/4" sensor (a bit smaller than the sensor likely found in your smartphone) and when the files are combined, the result is a 108MP 360-degree image that allows one to pan and zoom around the scene. 

Panono started off as a thesis project, but was later successfully funded via crowd-sourcing campaigns (DPreview field-tested an early version in 2013). Designed in Germany and constructed in Poland, everything about the camera is surprisingly frustration-free and the controls are intuitive. I say 'surprisingly' only because Panono is such a new company and good UI often takes time to get right. But once paired with a smart device, taking shots, processing  and sharing them is all a breeze. 

For optimal viewing, open the 360 in full screen mode. This image was shot using the HDR-setting, which combines a properly-exposed image with one exposed for highlights. 

The design 

The Panono only has a single button on the top. Holding it down for a second turns the camera on and off. When it's switched on, the button can also be used to take images without the need for a smart device. However, for the best user experience, you'll want to use the app to set up and control the Panono remotely from a phone or tablet. 

Around the periphery of the Panono's one and only physical button is a glowing LED. It lights up when the camera is switched on and blinks whenever a photo is taken. If battery or internal space is getting low, part of the LED ring will illuminate red next to the corresponding symbol. While useful in dim conditions, the LED ring is near impossible to see in bright light.

There is a micro-USB port located at the very bottom of the camera for charging. It doubles as a mounting point for the Panono Adapter (to mount it on a tripod) and the Panono stick (a selfie stick). However when plugged into a computer via Micro-USB, the Panono is not discoverable. 

The app

Pairing with a device simply requires turning the Panono on and connecting to it via Wi-Fi. The password to connect is written directly on the side of the unit. Once connected, open up the app. At the bottom of the screen there are five icons. If you've properly paired the unit, green lines will appear above the camera icon (which is the shooting screen), indicating you are connected.

Most of the shooting controls are accessed via the center-most camera icon on the bottom. The app is also used to push images downloaded to your device to the cloud for processing. You can also view your processed 360s. 

Simply tap the green camera button to fire a shot. For more control over the camera's exposure and color parameters, tap the gear symbol. 

To take images from within the shooting screen simply tap the green camera button bottom center. By default the camera will beep and blink when a photo is fired (the beep can be turned off). For more controls, tap the gear symbol in the lower right. There you can control a number parameters, like dialing in a white balance or specific exposure. I found the auto exposure and white balance modes largely worked fine for the majority of the places I shot. But it's nice that those additional manual controls exist.

There is also a switch to toggle HDR mode on and off. If you're mainly photographing static subjects, HDR mode is very useful. You can see an example of it on and off below:

The above image was shot as an HDR file, the one below was not.

The camera has 16GB of internal storage. Once an image is taken it is stored locally within the camera and a low-resolution un-stitched version of the image will appear within the app's shooting screen for quick viewing. If you're please with the preview, simple tap "download from camera," and the files are transmitted to your device, but only temporarily - more on that in a moment.

It's worth noting that if you are shooting a non-HDR image, there is a 10-sec black out time between when a shot has been fired and when an additional shot can be taken. When shooting an HDR image, that time gap is closer to 30 seconds. When the camera is ready to shoot again, the circle around the camera symbol/trigger button will turn from white to green. 

Once back in the comfort of a proper Wi-Fi connection open the "Task" screen (2nd icon from the right). There you'll find all your transmitted 360's. With the tap of a finger you can upload them to the Panono cloud where their servers do all the hard work of stitching and processing – you can simply sit back and make yourself a cocktail. In about 10 minutes, your 360s will appear in your Panono account where you can share them either via a direct link, iframe embed or Facebook/Twitter/Google+. It's really that easy.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Canon EF-M 28mm F3.5 Macro real-world samples

DPReview News - Sun, 07/24/2016 - 04:00

'Get closer' is photo advice that the Canon EF-M 28mm F3.5 takes to heart. It can achieve focus as close as 9.4cm/3.7in, and brings a couple of built-in LEDs to the party to brighten things up. It's not perfect, but it's priced attractively and if you're a Canon EOS M shooter then we think this little lens is a great way to experiment with macro photography. Read more of our impressions on using it and take a look at a full gallery of samples.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Top tips for composing great landscapes

DPReview News - Sat, 07/23/2016 - 04:00

In this article I'll try to outline a handful of the key elements that I look for when composing a photo in the field. The process of composing a photo can be daunting at times, but I hope that some of these tips will help you to lay the groundwork for developing an eye for composition in landscape photography.

Compositional Visualization: See the ball, be the ball

Developing an eye for composition in landscape photography is something that takes a great deal of time and practice in the field. Practice, persistence and due diligence do pay off and over time you will find yourself becoming more comfortable behind the lens.

The Mossy Grotto in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is incredibly difficult to shoot due to the limited compositional choices. I hiked around for almost 30 minutes before I settled on this composition which had a lot of layering and some nice diagonal leading lines to help to lead the eye to the focal point.

Mossy Grotto, Columbia River Gorge, OR

Sony a7R, Canon 16-35mm F2.8, 16mm- multiple exposures used for focus stacking and water movement. 

One thing that I’ve learned over time is that you absolutely have to pre-visualize your shot. This process starts with four key elements - the direction of the light, the focal point, the foreground and the leading line(s).

The focal point is often the first thing that your eye gravitates toward. It could be a waterfall, a mountain or even a stand of trees. If your eye gravitates toward it chances are it may serve as a good focal point to build your composition around. The next step in the process is to look for a leading line that guides your eye through the scene to your focal point.

I decided to use the river you see in this image as the leading line in this composition because it was able to the lead the viewer to the main focal point without detracting interest from it. I also enjoyed how the light in the composition added layers and depth to the image as well.

Glacier National Park, MT

Sony a7R, Canon 16-35mm F2.8, 16mm, F11, 1/15sec, ISO 160, single exposure

The ‘line’ is figurative of course. It can be a rock formation, a river, a series of interesting trees, vegetation or foliage, flowers, or even a trail. Choosing the correct leading line can have a large impact on your image. It is important to note though that the leading line may not work depending upon the direction of the light in the scene.

Let the light guide your eye to the focal point in the image

All of the elements need to work together to form a pleasing composition. Let the light guide your eye to the focal point in the image. Shadows and light play a huge role in guiding your eye through the scene and, when used correctly, can add a great deal of depth and interest to your photo.

I chose the Lupine you see here as my foreground because I felt the colors complimented the sky well (blue/purple and yellows tend to work well together) and the light play in the flowers also helped to guide your eye through the scene to the focal point at the back of the image.

Sony a7R, Canon 16-35mm F2.8L II, 16mm, F10, 1/50sec, ISO 100, multiple exposures for focus stacking and sunstar.

Choosing the correct foreground can have a large impact on the success of your image. I always try to choose a foreground that offers a complementary color palette to the other elements in the scene such as the sky or mountains. I also tend to look for elements that add depth and interest to the overall image without overwhelming the viewer- it's a bit of a balancing act in regard to keeping the image dynamic yet visually pleasing. I also try to choose a foreground that offers a color palette that helps to 'connect' the overall image. When colors work well together they can really help to solidify an already aesthetically pleasing image.

Ted Gore recently published an excellent article on color theory that complements this article nicely. Using groups of colors that work in harmony and flow nicely can help to solidify an already robust composition and can add a whole new 'layer' of interest to the photo.

Categories: Photo Gear News

History of Digital Cameras

The Online Photographer - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 18:08
Olympus E-1 (2003). I'm still mystified why Olympus never updated this design. Note how odd the tiny viewing screen looks now. Yesterday's post was certainly interesting and even sent me scurrying to eBay to look at certain old digital cameras.... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Honor, Ethics, Character, and Cameras (Blog Notes for the Week)

The Online Photographer - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 12:06
(Political content warning. You have been warned! Not too bad though.) Let's face it—not the best week, for TOP or the United States of America. I hope you missed as much of the Convention as possible. It was, frankly, awful,... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Blincam is a wearable camera that takes a photo when you wink

DPReview News - Fri, 07/22/2016 - 10:01

A Tokyo-based startup has successfully crowdfunded a wearable camera concept called Blincam. Much the way Google Glass works, Blincam would attach to a pair of glasses and snap photos when the wearer winks or blinks. According to the team behind the product, the final product will be compatible with a mobile app that immediately provides access to photos taken with the camera.

Blincam is said to feature a patent-pending Eye Movement Sensor that detects when the wearer blinks, as well as an integrated speaker for playing a shutter sound, an LED battery indicator light, Bluetooth connectivity, microUSB, 32GB of internal storage and an 'HD CMOS' camera sensor. 

Blincam Co Ltd, the company behind the campaign, claims to have already developed an alpha version of Blincam, and that it has worked out most of the technical issues. The crowdfunding campaign is intended to raise part of the funds needed to launch the camera. The company anticipates starting deliveries to backers this coming December; as with other crowdfunding projects, however, it is possible the device will never come to fruition.

Categories: Photo Gear News
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