News aggregator

Open Mike: I Miss IBIS

The Online Photographer - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 22:13
I never learn. I'm like Charlie Brown kicking Lucy's football.... I was thinking that the A6000 replacement might have IBIS. The A7 cameras have IBIS; the Olympus cameras have IBIS. It was rumored that the A6000 replacement would have IBIS.... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Framing fashion with Dixie Dixon

DPReview News - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 05:00
At the age of 20, most people are just beginning to figure out what careers they want to pursue. Dixie Dixon got an early start in photography, so by 20 she had years of experience under her belt and a clear direction in mind – fashion photography. As New York prepares to host Fashion Week 2016 in a few days, we're re-visiting Dixon's PIX 2015 talk. An engaging speaker, she discusses getting her start in fashion photography and an unlikely first 'break' in the business photographing swimsuit models for a reality TV show.
Categories: Photo Gear News

Heavy hitter: Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM first shots

DPReview News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 15:37
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Sony has made some strong claims about its new G Master lens series. Unveiled earlier this week, the FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM is one of three in the lineup to make its debut, giving Sony's full-frame mirrorless customers a fast, constant standard zoom for the first time. We had a few moments to shoot with the lens at Sony's press event in New York, and while we only provide a small sampling of shots at this time, we will be updating this gallery as soon as we can. 

Our initial impressions are extremely positive: sharpness appears to rival prime levels wide open, and there's very little axial chromatic aberration to speak of. Sony's claims may not be exaggerated at all.

We need to make a note about lens corrections: it seems that the camera we were handed had vignetting and chromatic aberration corrections turned on. The way this feature works is that these corrections are applied even in Raw mode (technically, vignetting correction is applied prior to writing the Raw file, while chromatic aberration correction information is embedded in the Raw and irreversibly applied by ACR).

The good news is that we've looked at Raw conversions from third-party converters that ignore the CA correction profile, and CA from this lens appears to be very minimal. Watch this space for more sample images, hopefully very soon.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Samyang adds 14mm and 35mm lenses to Xeen cinema system

DPReview News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 12:19
The 14mm T3.1 Samyang Xeen lens

Korean lens manufacturer Samyang has added two new wide angle lenses to its Xeen series of full-frame video lenses. The new focal lengths are 14mm and 35mm, and while the 35mm conforms to the family-standard maximum aperture of T1.5 the 14mm opens only to T3.1. The Xeen system now contains a total of five lenses as these two join the existing 24mm, 50mm and 85mm.

All the lenses are manual focus only, and feature focus and aperture gear rings in identical positions so that they can be switched quickly in and out of the same rig. Filter rings also match, and users have a choice of metric or imperial focus scales. The lenses come with interchangeable mounts, and adapters are available for Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, PL and Micro Four Thirds bodies.

The 35mm T1.5 Samyang Xeen lens

Samyang is proud of the way its lenses render out-of-focus highlights, and the new 35mm complements the existing lenses with its 11-blade diaphragm. The wider lens uses a 9-bladed iris.

The lenses should be on sale by March at a cost of £1599.

For more information visit the Samyang Xeen website

Press Release:

Two more XEEN Lenses announced by Samyang to complete a Perfect Five-Lens-Set

SEOUL, February 5th, 2016 –Global optics brand, Samyang Optics, has announced the release of 2 new lenses: XEEN 14mm T3.1 and 35mm T1.5. These two lenses, along with the existing 24mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5 and 85mm T1.5 lenses, create a perfect balanced five-lens-set for filming video and cinema with the outstanding image quality from resolving power for 4K+ production.

XEEN is a specialized brand in professional video-cine lens launched by Samyang Optics in 2015. The XEEN lenses are designed with Samyang Optics' know-how and have outstanding optical performance for 4K+ with the X-Coating Technology, ensuring maximum image quality to create a cinematic look.

The 24mm x 36mm negative size allows XEEN to not only work with full frame cameras, but also with Super 35, APS-C and APS-H cameras. The lenses are available in five different mounts - PL, EF, F, E, and MFT and two different focus scales - metric and imperial units. Also, the aluminum metal housing is known for its reliability in various shooting conditions.

Most of the XEEN lenses come in a bright T1.5 aperture. The lenses deliver high quality footage with clear contrast and impressive colours, even under less-than-optimal lighting conditions. The large aperture also creates a pleasing bokeh effect for a cinematic look.

“Thanks to the rise of multi-channel networks, the demands for video creation is internationally surging and the expectation of video quality is also increasing,” stated a XEEN official. He continued, “to satisfy the international needs, we have completed the first five lenses which deliver a high-quality cinematic image.” As an answer to the future product plan, he carefully disclosed that two more XEEN lenses will be announced in the second half of the year.

Created to deliver infinite possibilities, XEEN14mm and 35mm lenses will be globally available in early March. The recommended retail price of each lens is £1599.00 inc VAT.

More detailed product information is available on the official website ( and Facebook ( or Samyang Lens Global Facebook (

Categories: Photo Gear News

GoPro to discontinue three cameras and exit entry-level market

DPReview News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 11:41

This week, GoPro announced it will discontinue three of its six available action cameras and abandon the entry-level market. This follows the company’s preliminary fourth quarter results revealed last month. GoPro had stated at the time that poor holiday sales would likely result in low quarterly revenue, and that it would layoff 7% of its workforce as a result.

In a conference call this week, GoPro’s founder and CEO Nick Woodman said the company’s recent misfortunes aren’t due to increased competition. 'Growth slowed in the second half of the year,' said Woodman, 'and we recognize the need to develop software solutions that make it easier for our customers to offload, access and edit their GoPro content.'

GoPro is banking on the improved software reversing its sales numbers, but it isn’t clear what other plans may be in place. Woodman said the company will be 'delivering this new experience in 2016, period.' In the meantime, though, GoPro anticipates its first quarter sales will be below analysts' $300 million expectation, falling between $160 and $180 million.

GoPro will stop selling its HERO+ LCD, HERO+ and HERO entry-level cameras in April, making the $200 HERO4 Session its least expensive model.

Via: Financial Times

Categories: Photo Gear News

Quick-Release Plates (and an Idea)

The Online Photographer - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 07:01
Luke made a comment to the "Kidding Camera" post noting the problem of tripod mounts getting in the way of the battery and card door. Looking at the Fuji X-T1 baseplate—a piece of machined metal for which they want $100,... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Quote o' the Day: Marjorie Salvaterra

The Online Photographer - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 14:07
"A photographer’s job is to shoot something no one else would see." —Marjorie Salvaterra, quoted in the caption of "Marilyn," a portrait in LensCulture's "Making Portraits of People," curated by Andy Adams of FlakPhoto - Mike Original contents copyright 2016... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Leica T firmware version 1.5 update adds Wi-Fi Direct feature

DPReview News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 11:23

Leica has released firmware version 1.5 for the Leica T, adding Wi-Fi Direct functionality for transferring images wirelessly. After updating, Leica T owners can set up a mobile hotspot through which images are shuttled between the camera and an iOS mobile device running the Leica T app. In addition, firmware 1.5 speeds up the camera's wireless reconnection with known networks and improves reconnection reliability.

The Leica T for iOS app is available from iTunes. The new firmware version 1.5 update is available through the Leica T website.

Via: Leica Rumors

Categories: Photo Gear News

'We want to make lenses that can be used forever': Sony engineer discusses G Master lenses

DPReview News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 11:05

'We want to make lenses that can be used forever,' says a senior engineer behind Sony's new G master lenses. At the launch of the ‘G Master’ range of high end lenses, we spoke to Motoyuki Ohtake, Distinguished Engineer in Sony’s Lens Design Department about the process and the philosophy behind the latest lenses.

The development process series involved re-thinking several parts of the design and manufacturing process, he says.

Motoyuji Ohtake, Distinguished Engineer, Opto Design Department, Core Technology Division, Digital Imaging Business Group at Sony.

To understand how the lenses came about, he explained the usual process of lens development. ‘Sometimes we propose a new lens but often it comes from the product planning department [the marketing department that assesses potential requirements and demands]. We then make a series of rough designs, some are big, with high optical performance, others are more compact but maybe not so optically strong. We discuss which design to proceed with, based on what we think is the optimal balance or cost, performance and size to make the perfect product.’

After deciding which of the initial designs to pursue, there’s a great deal of collaboration between teams, he explains: ‘we work with the mechanical team, the lens motor team, the lens control team, the lens element team and maybe the equipment team who will have to prepare the manufacturing process.’ Each of these team feeds its expertise into the design. ‘Maybe the optical team proposes a new lens design and the motor team tells us which motor is best. Or warn us if the focus will be too slow. They feed back about the mechanical aspects,’ he says.

The G Master series required many of these teams to re-think their parts of the process, from design to manufacture.

Re-thinking basic assumptions

‘For the G Master lenses we decided we would assess the spatial frequency at 50 lines per mm,’ says Ohtake: ‘Usually lens makers, including ourselves, evaluate lenses at 10 and 30 lpmm (or 10, 20 and 40 for Carl Zeiss-branded optics).’

‘At the start of the process we all agreed we should change the spacial frequency [to a more challenging target],’ he says: ’but which is best to get good performance? We could design for 100 lpmm but the lens would become very bulky and long - which might not be a very practical lens. A balance of the size and the optical performance was very important.’

The target of 50 lpmm wasn’t dictated by the company’s 40MP camera or 4K video, he says. ’All our FE lenses were designed for at least 40MP. Because we have an image sensor team within Sony, we get to see the sensor roadmap, so we’ve been designing for this all along with FE. With the G Master we’d like to make lenses that can be used forever.’

A focus on bokeh

But it’s not just the more stringent frequency assessment that was developed for the G Master lenses, Ohtake explains: ‘We had to discuss what good bokeh means. We have some designers from Minolta who understand that the spirit of the ‘G’ lenses was good bokeh in the background but we had no way to evaluate that.

‘We looked at what is considered good bokeh and how it affects not just the background rendering but also the transition from perfectly sharp to out-of-focus regions. We developed a way to evaluate bokeh and were able to make a simulation. This meant we didn’t have to build a lens to see how it performed, we could now computer model it before taking a design too far.’

This is a significant change, Sony says, as it means bokeh can be one of the primary design considerations, rather than being something that can only be adjusted later in the process, once the main aspects of the design have been settled upon.

Another piece of the puzzle - shape and smoothness

This analysis of the factors that affect bokeh showed that both the precision of the lens molding and the smoothness of the lens surface could have an effect.

‘Traditionally it was very hard to achieve both: current technology gives a roughness on the scale of 20-30nm on the aspheric surface. Improving this usually involved polishing, which can then lead to the lens element being slightly unevenly shaped.’

‘We developed a new way of making the lens element and a new molding process, including a new machine. Now we can get roughness down to around 10nm and get a more accurate shape to the aspherical surface.’

AF technologies Ohtake wouldn't budge when we asked which his favorite lens was, but immediately reached for the 85mm F1.4 when we took this group shot.

The first three G Master lenses use three different AF motor technologies between them - emphasizing Ohtake’s point that different technologies work better in different contexts.

The 24-70mm F2.8 uses a Direct Drive SSM system (piezoelectric element). This is very fast, very quiet and very precise. We used a linear motor for the 24-70mm F4 but this lens has a heavier focus element, so direct drive was a better choice.

The focus element in the 85mm F1.4 was even heavier, however. ‘For the 85mm we use a ring type focus motor. This is very good for heavy lens elements and our lens software team developed a good algorithm so that it works well with contrast-detection autofocus' (a traditional weakness for ring-type designs).

Finally, the 70-200mm uses a combination of a linear actuator and a ring-type focus motor. ‘The focus group had become too heavy so we separated the two focusing lenses. One is very heavy, so we used a ring type motor for that one, then used a linear motor for the other. The ring type is used to quickly achieve approximate focus and the linear motor is used for the high precision aspect.’

Still correct to optically correct

Discussing the idea that bokeh and sharpness have previously been in conflict, we asked Ohtake about other trade-offs. We’ve been told that the ability to correct lateral chromatic aberration in software makes lens design easier, since you don’t have to correct it optically, which can quickly complicate the lens design and detract from other parameters.

Not for G Master lenses, he explains. ‘Light doesn’t separate nicely into red, green and blue' (the color channels that most cameras capture, and which can be adjusted, relative to one another, to correct lateral CA). It’s a continuum with each wavelength being displaced slightly differently. ‘To get the really high contrast we wanted in G Master, we had to suppress it in the lens.’

The future of APS-C

We also asked Ohtake about Sony's APS-C lenses for E-mount. His team likes designing APS-C lenses, he says: ‘The focus elements are light, so it’s easier to design. We have all these focus motor technologies in-house and we’d like to try them in APS-C lenses if that’s what the Product Planning team says is required.’

Categories: Photo Gear News

Panasonic and Fujifilm reveal joint sensor development, offering global shutter

DPReview News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:38
Cross-sectional image of conventional Back Side Illumination (BSI) CMOS sensor compared to Panasonic's Organic Photoconductive Film (OPF) sensor. (Image courtesy of Panasonic.)

Panasonic has announced that it has developed a new sensor using Organic Photoconductive Film (OPF), developed by Fujifilm, that is capable of recording a much wider range of tones (up to 3 EV greater dynamic range) than current silicon-based sensors, and in which each pixel is read out simultaneously to effect a true global shutter.

We first heard about this collaboration back in 2013, and it appears that the companies have made progress during that time. Similar to InVisage Quantum Film technology, the OPF sensor employs a thin, light-sensitive film on top of CMOS silicon circuitry. Panasonic says that the separation of the light conversion medium and electronic charge storage removes some design trade-offs that need to be made with conventional CMOS designs. The design allows for a larger active pixel area that makes it 1.2x more sensitive to light than normal photodiodes. Decoupling the photoconversion and storage areas also allows for the ability to store more total charge (higher full well capacity), resulting in 10x, or 3 EV, greater dynamic range. 

Additionally, the OPF layer is only 0.5 microns thick, or four to six times thinner than silicon photodiodes that are typically 2-3 microns in depth. According to Panasonic this expands the incident angle of light that can be collected to 60 degrees, compared to 30-40 degrees for conventional silicon sensors, which should allow greater flexibility in lens design. It should also help reduce false color and vignetting.

In addition to better sensitivity and dynamic range, the new technology brings other benefits as well. In particular, the OPF-based sensor will provide global shutter, by allowing all pixels to be exposed essentially at the same time by turning on and off the entire photosensitive area at once. The net effect is that all the lines of the sensor are essentially exposed simultaneously, as opposed to line-by-line as is the case with traditional 'rolling' electronic shutters. This helps avoid the dreaded ‘jello effect’ often seen in video, or the distortion of fast moving objects. It also helps avoid flickering and banding with artificial light sources, which with a 'rolling' shutter otherwise result in different rows on the sensor being exposed while the pulsating light source is on vs. off.

When combined with Panasonic’s historical strength in video-oriented products this will likely get the attention of the videography crowd. The potential benefits don't stop there though. Panasonic has also developed a method of recording sequences of images at slightly different exposure values, that it calls Variable Sensitivity Multiple Exposure Technology. The process can track the direction of motion in the scene by tracing the subject as it moves across the scene becoming gradually darker from one frame to the next. If the camera knows it applied less exposure to the second frame than to the first, it can determine in which direction the subject is moving and at what speed. This could be of great assistance to AF algorithms.

The company is not absolutely clear about what practical uses it will put this new sensor to, but says ‘We expect this technology to be used widely in motion capture applications and also extend to other applications that have been thought to be difficult to realize unless high saturation global shutter or variable sensitivity multiple exposure.’ Panasonic is also developing a system for using cameras that replace wing mirrors in cars, and this technology will probably see the light of day in that area first, but the lessons learned will be very useful for its regular camera business. 

Press release:

Panasonic develops 10times Higher Saturation & Highly Functional Global Shutter Technology by controlling of Organic-Photoconductive-Film on CMOS Image Sensor

Osaka, Japan - Panasonic Corporation today announced that it has developed a new highly functional global shutter[1] technology for CMOS image sensor using organic photoconductive film (OPF)*1. This technology enables to capture high speed moving object up to 10 times brighter*2 scene in global shutter mode. In OPF CMOS image sensor, charge-storage function and photoelectric-conversion function can be set independently. By utilizing the unique feature of OPF CMOS image sensor, this technology solves the degradation of saturation signal[2] in conventional image sensor with global shutter function. Motion direction can be detected from acquired object's signal level in one picture by fine control of shutter sensitivity by changing applied voltage to OPF which is hardly realized by conventional CMOS image sensors.

The newly developed highly functional global shutter technology contributes to high speed image sensing of moving objects without image distortion which appears in conventional shutter operation under very bright scene. We expect this technology to be used widely in motion capture applications and also extend to other applications that have been thought to be difficult to realize unless high saturation global shutter or variable sensitivity multiple exposure.

The new technology has the following advantages.

1. Wide incident angle (60 degrees), high sensitivity, high saturation and highly-functional circuits due to a unique feature of OPF, in which an OPF for photoelectric-conversion and a readout circuits are independent.

2. High saturation signal up to 10 times larger*3 than conventional image sensors with global shutter function due to Photoelectric Conversion Controlled Global Shutter Technology.

This development is based on the following new technologies.

1. CMOS Image Sensor Design Technology, in that, an OPF photoelectric-conversion part and a circuit part can be designed independently.

2. Photoelectric Conversion Controlled Global Shutter Technology that is realized by controlling of organic photoconductive film sensitivity.

3. Variable Sensitivity Multiple Exposure Technology which can detect the motion and its direction by changing image capturing sensitivity in each frame.

Panasonic holds 60 Japanese patents and 41 overseas patents (including pending) related to this technology.

Panasonic will present part of the research at the international conference ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuit Conference) 2016 which is to be held in San Francisco, USA on January 31 to February 4.


*1: We are using an organic photoconductive film (OPF) that FUJIFILM Corporation has developed.

*2: Saturation signal per pixel area, compared with conventional silicon based CMOS image sensor with global shutter function.

More on the Technology

1. The OPF CMOS Image Sensor Design Technology, in that, photoelectric-conversion part and a circuit part can be designed independently.

The conventional image sensor consists of a silicon photodiode for capturing light, metal interconnects and an on-chip micro-lens. And, both a photoelectric-conversion function and a signal charge-storage function are executed by a silicon photodiode. On the other hand, in an OPF CMOS image sensor, a photoelectric-conversion function is executed by an OPF, instead of a silicon photodiode, and a signal charge-storage function is executed by circuits beneath the OPF. Both functions are almost independent, so an OPF CMOS image sensor can achieve the following features.

Expansion of the incident light range to 60 degrees and reproduction of faithful color.

An OPF with high optical absorption coefficient[3], instead of a silicon photodiode, is adopted, the thickness of an OPF has been reduced to just 0.5 microns, four to six times thinner than silicon photodiodes. Since the conventional silicon photodiode needs at least 2 - 3 microns in depth, the range of incident angles was limited to around 30 - 40 degrees. An OPF, achieved with the OPF CMOS image sensor technology, has enabled the expansion of this range to 60 degrees, efficiently utilizing light entering at an angle for faithful color reproduction with no color mixing. It also gives greater flexibility in lens designs, facilitating the reduction of overall camera size.

Boost of sensor sensitivity by 1.2 times compared to conventional silicon image sensors to deliver clear images, particularly in dark conditions.

The transistors and metal interconnects in each pixel, fabricated using Panasonic's semiconductor device technology, are coated with an OPF. The area of the light receiving section becomes limited in conventional image sensors because of the existence of metal interconnects and the need to form a light shield film to prevent light incidence into areas other than the photodiode in each pixel. However, an OPF CMOS image sensor technology coats the sensor with an OPF, which can harvest all the light received on the sensor. This unique structure and high quantum efficiency of OPF boosts sensor sensitivity by 1.2 times compared to conventional silicon image sensors to deliver clear images, particularly in dark conditions.

Cross-sectional image of conventional Back Side Illumination (BSI) CMOS image sensor and OPF CMOS image Sensor

Design of OPF and circuits completely independent and realization of high-performance (high-saturation)

In the architecture of an OPF CMOS image sensor, the OPF, that converts light into electric signals, and the circuits, that store electric signal charges and readout electric signals, are designed completely independently. Therefore, by selecting an OPF, photoelectric-conversion characteristics, wavelength, sensitivity, etc., can be set with flexibility.

Moreover, in conventional image sensors, it is necessary to place both a silicon photodiode and circuits (transistors and capacitors) on silicon substrate in each pixel, so an area of circuits is limited. On the other hand, in an OPF CMOS image sensor, it is not necessary to place a silicon photodiode, so high-performance circuits, such as high-speed or wide dynamic range[4], can be formed on a silicon substrate.

In particular, in an OPF CMOS image sensor, by providing a large capacitor for storing signal charge, a saturation value[2] of electric signal can be significantly increased from conventional image sensors.

2. Photoelectric Conversion Controlled Global Shutter Technology that is realized by controlling of organic photoconductive film sensitivity.

Conventional CMOS image sensors with global shutter function require storage located near photoconversion area which makes it difficult to simultaneously shrink the pixel size and enlarge the saturation signal. Developed "Photoelectric conversion controlled global shutter technology" realizes shutter function by controlling of photoelectric conversion efficiency by only modulating applied voltage to OPF, without additional in-pixel circuit and no degradation of saturation signal. And developed "high saturation pixel technology" by pixel gain switching operation can capture under extremely bright scene, up to 10 times or more saturation signal per unit square pixel than conventional CMOS image sensor with global shutter function. This technology will solve imaging problems caused by rolling shutter distortion, flash bands[5] and LED flickers[6] in very bright scene.

Comparison of Global shutter pixel structure

3. Variable Sensitivity Multiple Exposure Technology which can detect the motion and its direction by changing image capturing sensitivity in each frame.

Conventional multiple exposure cannot detect the direction of motion because the capture sensitivity is fixed. Panasonic have developed "variable sensitivity multiple exposure technology" by controlling the voltage applied to OPF with elapse of time, which is hardly realized in conventional silicon based image sensor. We can get several images of different exposure time and different exposure sensitivity in one picture that enables character recognition by choosing optimum exposure time, so direction of motion can be detected by acquired object's signal level. This technology enables sensing of moving object detection and motion directions.

Technical Terms:

[1] Global shutter

Shutter operation which can capture the image at the same time in all pixels.

Ordinary CMOS image sensor operates in rolling shutter mode in which exposure and shutter operation is executed row by row.

[2] Saturation/Saturation signals

Maximum amount of electric signal that can be handled by image sensors. Receiving a signal greater than this value leads to highlight clipping.

[3] Optical absorption coefficient

A constant value that indicates how much light is absorbed into a material, when incident light enter to the material.

[4] Dynamic range

Range of brightness that can be captured. (the ratio between highest and lowest signal can be captured by image sensor)

[5] Flash band

stripe shaped contrast appears in captured image, because light flashes during image sensor capture the image row by row pixel (rolling shutter operation).

[6] LED flicker

Imaging phenomenon resulting in incomplete image capture, caused by a LED's (traffic, headlights, signs, etc.) frequency and a camera's imaging speed.

Captured images of rotating propeller by different shutter mode

Multiple exposure images by Variable exposure time and sensitivity

Categories: Photo Gear News

Delayed: Nikon Japan pushes D500 to end of April

DPReview News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:43

Nikon shooters have waited a long time for a D300S replacement, and it appears that they're going to have to keep waiting a little longer. Nikon Japan has released a statement (in Japanese) pushing the D500's initial March release back to late April 2016. Nikon cites high demand for the camera as the cause of the delay. It seems that the D500's battery grip and WT-7A wireless transmitter are also delayed.

Come April, the D500 will be available for $1,999.95 body only or with the 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VR lens for $3,069.95.

Categories: Photo Gear News

The Kidding Camera

The Online Photographer - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 05:15
Ralph Kidding, of Kidding Camera Company, yesterday held a press conference to announce Kidding's new camera. We've removed all the interesting bits of his talk and just extracted clues to the technical specs of the new camera, because that's the... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Portrait time: Sample gallery from Sony's new 85mm F1.4 GM lens

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 23:00
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After Sony showed off its a6300 and trio of new lenses, our staffers were able to grab an a7R II and start shooting. Above we've put together a small selection of images taken with Sony's new 85mm F1.4 GM portrait lens. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Hands on with Sony's a6300 and G Master lenses

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 14:24
Hands on with Sony's a6300 and GM lenses

At a press event in New York City, Sony unveiled a new mirrorless camera and three new lenses – but not just any mirrorless camera, and not just any lenses. The Sony a6300 is the much-anticipated followup to the very successful a6000. And for its full-frame range, Sony introduced a new lens class: G Master. The company has placed the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS, FE 85mm F1.4 GM and FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM in a category unto themselves, with an emphasis on resolving power and bokeh. We spent some brief moments with all of the new hardware – take a look.

Sony a6300

Front and center of this morning's announcements is the a6300. Boasting a newly designed 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, the camera's most impressive feature is arguably its 425 phase-detect AF points with 'Advanced 4D Focus.'

The a6300's 4K video tech is impressive too. The camera reads the equivalent of 6K's worth of data from its sensor and downsizes it to 4K/UHD - without pixel binning - which promises a big boost in video quality.

Sony a6300

Sony stuck with a familiar design when shaping the a6300, including these top plate mode and command dials, which will look very familiar to a6000 users. 

Sony a6300

It may look like its predecessor on the outside, but the a6300 uses a sturdier magnesium-alloy construction, with weather-sealing.

Sony a6300

The rear panel looks much the same as the a6000 as well, except for the addition of a switch toggling between AEL and AF/MF. The tilting 3" 921k-dot LCD is still present, and still not a touchscreen, but the viewfinder has been significantly upgraded to a 2.36 million-dot OLED panel.

Sony a6300

A pop-up flash is another welcome carryover from the a6000. With a little pressure, the flash can be tilted backward at a slight angle for a bounce effect.

Sony a6300

The Sony a6300 is expected to ship in March, and will sell for $1000 body-only or $1150 paired with a 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom kit lens (not the more expensive 16-70mm F4 seen here).

Sony a6300

Autofocus speed was a strength of the a6000, and the a6300 brings the next evolution of that system with some lofty claims including focus acquisition in as little as 0.05 sec. The a6300 also boasts a minimal blackout period between shots, and can manage to supply a live view feed at up to 8fps - a major breakthrough for mirrorless cameras. 

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

The first of Sony's three ultra premium 'G Master' lenses is the FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM. The focus (no pun intended) of the GM lenses is resolution and bokeh, courtesy of high quality glass and a new XA (extreme aspherical) lens element. All three lenses are weather-sealed.

The 24-70 has 18 elements in 13 groups which include the aforementioned XA element, as well as ED and Super ED elements. A Nano AR coating reduces flare and ghosting. The lens also features nine circular aperture blades.

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

The minimum focus distance on the 24-70 is 0.38m/15in. with a max magnification of 0.24x. The lens uses 82mm filters. Control-wise the lens has switches for focus mode and zoom lock as well as a stop focus button.

The 24-70mm F2.8 GM will be available in March for $2200.

Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM

Next is the long-awaited fast 85mm prime. This F1.4 lens has a whopping 11 circular aperture blades - the most of any Sony lens yet - as well as XE and three ED elements.

The lens' Super Sonic wave Motor uses a pair of position sensors to ensure accurate focus.

Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM

As you can see, the 85mm F1.4 GM has a manual aperture dial (with switchable click-stops), AF/MF switch, and focus hold button. 

You'll be able to pick up this monster of a lens in March for $1800.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

The 70-200mm F2.8 steps into Sony's FE line as the first fast constant aperture tele-zoom, looking the part of a sports shooter's lens. Sadly, working samples were not available for press to use at the launch event, and its price is still TBD.

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

What we do know is that it will have 23 elements in 18 groups, which includes one XD, four ED and two Super ED elements. Like the 85mm lens, the 70-200 has 11 circular aperture blades. It uses two focus motors to optimize speed and accuracy. The front elements have a ring-type SSM while the rear parts use a double linear motor. The minimum focus distance is just 0.96m/38in.

Controls are as you'd expect from a high-end tele-zoom. There are switches for AF/MF, focus distance limit, image stabilization, and IS mode. There are two IS modes: standard (mode 1) and panning (mode 2). The lens also has a zoom lock and buttons for holding focus.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Video: A quick look at the Sony a6300

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 14:05

Earlier today Sony introduced its new a6300 APS-C mirrorless camera, an update to the very popular a6000 model. DPReview's Richard Butler was at the event in person and had a chance to get some hands-on time with the new body. In this video he gives us a quick look at Sony's new crop-sensor flagship camera. 

For more information about the Sony a6300, as well as full specifications, have a look at our news story.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Sony a6300 videos show off tech that may challenge last remaining DSLR strongholds

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:25

Sony has just announced the APS-C a6300, an update to the immensely popular a6000. Its technological advances seem poised to break down some of the last remaining strongholds of DSLRs. Sony has released videos demonstrating some of these features on the a6300, including one showing 8 fps live view bursts with AF tracking, a comparison of this mode vs. a DSLR, and another video demonstrating AF with subject tracking in 4K video.

Shooting fast action bursts with a DSLR-esque live feed

The a6300 potentially addresses one of the largest shortcomings of mirrorless cameras for action shooting: the often stop-motion playback of last-shot images, as opposed to a live feed, when shooting continuous bursts.* We recently reported on Nikon's calling out of this particular weak point of mirrorless cameras, so Sony's response in the a6300 today seems timely. Essentially, the a6300 offers a live feed in the EVF or on the LCD during 8 fps continuous shooting, in between short blackouts, with continuous AF. This should make it much easier to both pan the camera and still keep your subject in the frame, or keep your selected AF point(s) over your subject. Have a look at 1:00 in the video below.

Live feed with no blackout at all (a la Nikon 1) is arguably the holy grail for mirrorless, and though Sony hasn't quite gotten there yet, it's taken a giant step toward making action shooting as practical on mirrorless as on DSLR. Furthermore, as Heading of Digital Imaging Neal Manowitz correctly points out in the video clip below, these advances also mean that the advantages of EVF, like immediate exposure preview, can now be combined with the immediacy of an optical viewfinder during action shooting. Especially with the newly updated 120 fps EVF.

Ultimately, how well this live feed works for fast action shooting - especially compared to DSLRs - will be largely dependent on the length of those blackouts between shots. Our initial impressions are very positive though: the blackouts appear very short in duration as we shoot these boxers in action in our hands-on video here. Sony claims that the length of blackouts is competitive when compared to a $1000-class DSLR, and demonstrates this effectively in the direct a6300 vs DSLR shootout at 10:04 in the video below (courtesy of Dave Etchells): 

While a comparison against a $1000 DSLR might seem like a relatively low bar, the fact that Sony is getting a live feed off the sensor at all in between shots at 8 fps represents significant progress in the realm of mirrorless cameras. In comparison, a DSLR doesn't have to do anything but return the mirror to get you this 'live feed' through the optical viewfinder between shots. This is one reason many action photographers have stuck with DSLRs: the live feed in between shots helps a photographer follow moving subjects to either keep them in the frame or to keep the selected AF point over the subject. The technology in the a6300 seems poised to remove DSLR's stronghold in this regard.

Autofocus subject tracking

The a6300 also appears to have impressive AF subject tracking accuracy, following not just the dog but the dog's face in the demo video above. We'll reserve judgement until we get our hands on one, but previous Sony cameras had a tendency to wander off to other areas of the subject when using general subject tracking, so the results presented in this video indeed appear impressive in comparison. The expansive 425-point array also mean the camera can track the subject to almost any point in the frame, and all of these points purportedly work with A-mount lenses mounted via a LA-EA3 adapter (we expect Canon mount lenses to work as well, with appropriate adapters).**

Autofocus in video

Sony has also released a video demonstrating impressive AF in 4K video recording with native mount lenses. There appears to be little hunting, with fast refocusing and even subject tracking available during movie recording. Have a look below.

This should be a boon for videographers, assuming Sony now allows one to easily specify the subject before tracking it. On the note of specifying a subject, it's a huge shame that a touchscreen isn't paired with this capable video AF system for focus point selection.

At least on paper, we think that these advances mark some significant progress for mirrorless (it's too bad we can't say the same for the a6300's ergonomics), and we'll be curious to see how the systems perform when we get our hands on a production a6300.

* To be fair, this isn't the first mirrorless to provide a live feed in between shots in bursts: for example the Nikon 1 provides a live feed with no blackouts at all. It's just the first larger-sensor camera to do so at such high frame rates, and with - it appears - very short blackouts.

** It remains to be seen if subject tracking is available in any mode save for 'Wide' with 3rd party lenses though: subject tracking has been severely limited with 3rd party glass on the a7 II and a7R II due to the inability of the photographer to specify the subject, since it's only available in Wide area mode.

Categories: Photo Gear News

berkameras! (PhaseOne IQ3 100MP and Canon EOS 1D X Mark II)

The Online Photographer - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:24
The PhaseOne A-series IQ3 100MP medium format camera (Is überkamera a real word in German? I have no idea.) No lights action camera First, the new location überkamera. (Well, one of two, the Nikon D5 being the other.) Canon has... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Sony releases three premium 'G Master' lenses for FE-mount

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:19
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Sony has created a new lineup of lenses for its full-frame cameras known as G Master (GM). These are the company's high-end lenses that sit above its 'G-series' lenses and, as you might imagine, command a premium price. The first three GM lenses include FE 24-70mm F2.8, FE 85mm F1.4 and FE 70-200mm F2.8 OSS.

In addition to the lenses, Sony also released a pair of teleconverters (1.4x and 2.0x) for use with the new 70-200mm F2.8 lens.

At the press conference announcing the new lenses the company placed enormous emphasis on the importance of high resolution and high quality bokeh. Says Senior Technology Manager Mark Weir: "Being a leader in image sensor technologies, we have a unique insight into where sensor and camera technology is going, and we put this insight into our lens design."

Technologies behind G Master lenses

Sony mentioned they're now designing G Master lenses to a 50 lines per mm standard, a step up from the 10 and 30 lines/mm MTF traces we're used to seeing. Regarding bokeh, Sony explained that the lifelike nature of an image in either still or video is determined by the nature of the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas, and that an abrupt shift between the sharp region and the background can look artificial. Their research shows that this often comes down to a lack of precision in the preparation of the lens elements, and less than optimal positioning the optical cavity. Sony indicated that G Master lenses can be shaped to within 1/100th of a micron of their design spec to address this problem. 11 aperture blades on the new 85mm and 70-200mm lenses also indicate a serious commitment to smooth out-of-focus areas.

Additionally, each G Master lens employs a different drive mechanism for optimal AF performance. The 24-70mm uses a Direct Drive Supersonic motor (SSM), which we've previously noted to confer incredibly fast, accurate, and silent AF to the FE 35mm F1.4 lens. Sony boasts this focus motor to offer 0.01mm precision of focus group placement. The 85mm F1.4 uses a ring drive. The 70-200 sports a dual implementation: two focus groups at either end of the lens are drive by different actuators. A ring drive SSM drives the front AF group while dual linear motors drive a floating rear group. The result is fast continuous autofocus and silent AF for video, as well as in impressive minimum focus distance of <1m.

Sony also emphasized their development of advanced simulation techniques that make it possible to control things like bokeh right from the design stage. Previously, it was difficult to judge the effects of optical design without first building the lens - simulation technologies now help Sony see the effects of iterations on the optical design.

These lenses feature dust and moisture resistance, and also dedicated control buttons like AF/MF and Focus Hold that will be ergonomically useful and make for a more DSLR-like experience. The 85mm F1.4 also has an aperture ring that can be switched between click and non-click functionality.

The first G Master lenses will be available in March, with the 24-70mm listing for $2200 and the 85mm listing for $1800 in the U.S. The 70-200mm will follow in May, with pricing yet to be determined.

Press release:

Sony Launches New G Master Brand of Interchangeable Lenses

Three new models including 24-70mm F2.8 Zoom, 85mm F1.4 Prime and 70-200mm F2.8 Zoom deliver unrivaled imaging experiences 

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their flagship G Master™ brand of interchangeable lenses.           

Sony’s new brand includes three new E-mount full frame lenses including a 24-70mm constant F2.8 standard zoom, an 85mm F1.4 prime and a 70-200mm constant F2.8 telephoto zoom.   Representing the ultimate blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh, the new lenses feature Sony’s innovative optical element technology, design and calibration.  This allows them to produce still image and video content with a level of detail and expression that has never before been possible. 

“The new G Master brand represents the finest and most impressive group of lenses that Sony has ever brought to market,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics.  “With our knowledge of what the future will bring for digital imaging, we have designed these lenses and can ensure that the G Master brand will inspire and ‘wow’ photographers and videographers for years to come.”

New FE24-70mm F2.8 GM Standard Zoom Lens

Featuring some of the most advanced lens technologies in market today, the new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM (model SEL2470GM) is the ultimate choice for those seeking the highest possible optical performance for portrait, travel and event photography or even simple everyday shooting1. 

The new lens is built with three aspherical elements including a newly developed, extremely precise XA (extreme aspherical) element that reduces aberration and delivers the ultimate resolution throughout the entire zoom range and aperture range, as well as from corner to corner of all image files. Additionally, an ED (Extra-low-Dispersion) glass element and Super ED glass element keep chromatic aberration to a minimum while maximizing resolution and bokeh without any unnatural coloration. 

The lens features a 9-bladed aperture that maintains a near circular shape at all settings and is coated with Sony’s original Nano AR coating to suppress reflections and ensure spectacular contrast and clarity.    

The new FE24-70mm F2.8 GM lens has a direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Wave Motor) focusing system that works with incredible efficiency thanks to a new set of algorithms that positions the lens elements quickly and accurately. The motor is smooth and quiet, making it an ideal choice for shooting both still images as well as movies.

To maximize usability, the lens is dust and moisture resistant and features a compact, streamlined design that includes AF/MF switch as well as focus hold, zoom lock and hood release buttons.

Two new matching filters for the FE24-70mm F2.8 GM lens have also been introduced, including the VF-82MP MC protector and VF-82CPAM Circular PL filter..

New FE 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto Prime Lens

Designed as the ultimate portrait lens, the long-awaited new FE 85mm F1.4 GM telephoto prime lens (model SEL85F14GM) strikes a perfect balance between resolution and bokeh in a compact package.

The lens features a new XA (extreme aspherical) element as well as three ED glass elements that work together to ensure that the in-focus areas are captured in extremely high resolution while the surrounding out-of-focus areas dissolve smoothly into a beautiful soft backdrop. It has a circular aperture with 11 blades – the most ever used in an α lens – that ensures bokeh is smooth and visually appealing.  Externally, the new model has Sony’s original Nano AR Coating, which is of particular importance in a portrait lens as it reduces flare and ghosting, even with backlit subjects or similarly challenging lighting conditions.

For accurate autofocusing, the FE 85mm F1.4 GM lens includes a ring drive SSM motor system that provides ample power and speed to drive the lens’ large, heavy focus group. It’s also equipped with two position sensors to support flawless focus control of the large, heavy lens elements.   

This new professional portrait lens is dust and moisture resistant and also has an aperture ring with on/off switchable click stops that can be adjusted based on whether a user is shooting still images or movies.  It also has an AF / MF switch and a focus hold button.2

New FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Telephoto Zoom

Covering the frequently used 70-200mm focal range, the new FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS telephoto zoom lens (model SEL70200GM) offers extremely high rendering, AF performance and image stabilization, making it a versatile choice for shooting wildlife, sports, weddings and a variety of other events and locations1.

The new flagship telephoto zoom model delivers extraordinary sharpness and clarity throughout the entirety of its zoom range thanks to its three advanced lens elements including XA, Super ED and ED glass components, as well as its Nano AR coating. 

The new FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS lens features a floating focusing system – implemented in an α zoom lens for the first time – that contributes to an impressive minimum focusing distance of merely 0.96m and ensures AF performance is optimized during both still and video shooting. The lens includes a SSM (Super Sonic Motor) plus dual linear motors that work together to move large lens elements quickly - a task that requires a high level of drive control and ensures focus accuracy. The new model also has built in Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization for capturing sharp, blur-free subjects at all focal lengths and a rotating tripod mount that allows the camera to be quickly removed from a connected tripod as needed. 

The new 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens is dust and moisture resistant with an additional fluorine coating added to the front lens.  It also has a focus hold button as well as a focal range limiter. 

Sony has also announced new compact 1.4x and 2x Teleconverters  – models SEL14TC and SEL20TC respectively – that offer even greater reach while maintaining the overall streamlined design and feel of the 70-200mm lens.3   

Pricing and Availability

The new FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Standard Zoom and 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto prime lenses will be available in March for about $2,200 and $1,800, respectively.  In Canada, they will be sold for $2,900 CA and $2,400 CA, respectively. 

The new 70-200mm F2.8 GM Telephoto Zoom Lens and its compatible 1.4x and 2x Teleconverters will be available in May.  Pricing is not yet available for these models. 

The new G Master Series of interchangeable lenses will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.  

1.      A software update may be required to provide compatibility of lenses with some cameras. See the Sony support site for additional details.

2.      Limitations apply to AF operation when shooting movies with certain camera bodies. A software update may be required to provide AF compatibility of FE 85mm F1.4 GM with some cameras during movie shooting. See the Sony support site for lens/body compatibility details.

3.      SEL70200GM is only compatible lens at the time of announcement

Sony 24-70mm F2.8 GM & 70-200 F2.8 GM OSS specifications  Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GMSony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSSPrincipal specificationsLens typeZoom lensMax Format size35mm FFFocal length24–70 mm70–200 mmImage stabilisationNoYesLens mountSony FEApertureMaximum apertureF2.8Minimum apertureF22.0Aperture ringNoNumber of diaphragm blades911OpticsElements1832Groups1318Special elements / coatingsOne extreme aspherical, one super ED, one ED element + Nano AR coatingOne double-side aspherical and one extreme aspherical element + Nano AR coatingFocusMinimum focus0.38 m (14.96″)0.96 m (37.8″)Maximum magnification0.24×0.25×AutofocusYesMotor typePiezoelectricRing-type ultrasonicFull time manualYesFocus methodInternalDistance scaleNoDoF scaleNoFocus distance limiterYesPhysicalWeight886 g (1.95 lb)1480 g (3.26 lb)Diameter88 mm (3.45″)88 mm (3.46″)Length136 mm (5.35″)200 mm (7.87″)SealingYesColourBlackGrayZoom methodRotary (extending)Power zoomNoZoom lockYesFilter thread82.0 mm77.0 mmHood suppliedYesHood product codeALC-SH141ALC-SH145Tripod collarNoYes Sony 85mm F1.4 GM specifications Principal specificationsLens typePrime lensMax Format size35mm FFFocal length85 mmImage stabilisationNoLens mountSony FEApertureMaximum apertureF1.4Minimum apertureF16.0Aperture ringYesNumber of diaphragm blades11OpticsElements11Groups8Special elements / coatingsExtreme Aspherical, Super ED, ED elements + Nano AR coatingFocusMinimum focus0.80 m (31.5″)Maximum magnification0.12×AutofocusYesMotor typeRing-type ultrasonicFull time manualYesFocus methodInternalDistance scaleNoDoF scaleNoFocus distance limiterNoPhysicalWeight820 g (1.81 lb)Diameter90 mm (3.52″)Length108 mm (4.23″)SealingYesColourBlackFilter thread77.0 mmHood suppliedYesHood product codeALC-SH142
Categories: Photo Gear News

Oh, wow... Sony announces 24MP a6300 with incredible AF and 8 fps live view bursts

DPReview News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 07:18
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Sony has introduced the long-awaited update to its popular a6000 mirrorless camera: the a6300. Featuring a newly developed 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor and a completely revamped '4D' AF system with 425 phase-detection AF points, the a6300 sits at the top of Sony's APS-C mirrorless lineup. It also appears poised to break down one of the last remaining strongholds of DSLR by a live feed of the action in between frames, with minimal blackout, at a respectable 8 fps shooting rate, with AF.

Key Features:
  • 24MP CMOS APS-C sensor with copper wiring
  • 425-point on-sensor phase-detection AF system
  • 11 fps continuous shooting (8fps continuous live view)
  • 2.4m dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder with 120 fps refresh rate
  • Silent shooting in continuous drive (3 fps with AF/AE)
  • Max ISO of 51200
  • 4K video capture up to 100 Mbps
  • Phase-detect AF compatible with A-mount lenses via LA-EA3 adapter
  • Magnesium alloy design with upgraded dust and moisture resistance

Capable of continuous shooting at up to 11 fps with AF, the a6300's 425-point hybrid AF system features 'high-density' tracking, which dynamically activated AF points around a subject and adjusts them depending on the motion of the subject itself. The 425 phase-detect points, impressively, reach all the way out to the corners of the frame.

Perhaps the biggest news is that the a6300 is capable of uninterrupted live view at up to 8 fps, potentially addressing one of the biggest shortcomings of mirrorless cameras when it comes to fast action shooting. Traditionally, mirrorless cameras tend to show only a stop-motion sequence of last-shot images at the highest shooting frame-rate, which makes it hard to follow a subject and keep an AF point over it. Live view in between short blackouts at 8 fps brings the a6300 much closer to the experience of a DSLR with optical viewfinder. Especially with the updated 120 fps refresh rate of the high-resolution (now 2.4m dot) EVF. At the launch event in New York this morning, Sony showed a video reminiscent of Nikon's recent DSLR vs. mirrorless comparison for fast action shooting at CES, albeit comparing the a6300 to a <$1000 DSLR. Results looked impressive.

Notably, the a6300 can use all of its 425 phase-detect points to quickly focus A-mount lenses using a LA-EA3 adapter, which indicates this is now a standard feature that will be available across future E-mount cameras. We also expect phase-detect AF to work with other 3rd party lenses using adapters like the Metabones Smart Adapter.

The a6300 is capable of 4K video capture at up to 100 Mbps. The camera uses a 20MP (6K) region of the sensor to offer 2.4x oversampled 4K video with full pixel readout, and no pixel binning. Videographers should be able to expect sharp, low noise footage, even in low light since almost the entire sensor is sampled.

The progress in technology is impressive, and we're pleased to see the magnesium alloy design with upgraded dust and moisture resistance. However, the lack of a touchscreen or direct AF point selection with a dedicated joystick or control will continue to be problematic for some. The a6300 will be available in March for $1000 body only.

Press Release:

Sony Introduces New α6300 Camera with World’s Fastest Autofocus 

New Mirrorless Camera Features World’s Fastest AF speed1 and Highest Number of AF points2 plus Newly Developed 24.2 MP APS-C Sensor, High Resolution 4K video recording and more 

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced the latest addition to their award winning lineup of mirrorless cameras, the α6300 model. 

The camera boasts an unrivaled 4D FOCUS™ system that can lock focus on a subject in as little as 0.05 seconds, the world’s fastest AF acquisition time1.  Additionally, the α6300 has an incredible 425 phase detection AF points that are densely positioned over the entire image area – the world’s highest number of AF points on any interchangeable lens camera2, and can shoot images at up to 11 frames per second with continuous autofocus and exposure tracking,

The impressive new mirrorless model also has the ability to  support full live-view continuous shooting on the Tru-finder or LCD screen at up to 8 frames per second, ultimately producing a real-time shooting experience that combines all the benefits of an electronic viewfinder with the immediacy of a through-the-lens optical viewfinder. 

The versatile α6300 is equipped with a newly developed 24.2 MP (approx.. effective) APS-C sized Exmor CMOS sensor that works together with a BIONZ X image processing engine to produce outstanding image quality throughout the entire ISO sensitivity range ISO 100 – 51200 3.  It can also shoot and record high resolution 4K video with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in the popular Super 35mm format.

 “The α6300 is yet another example of the dominant innovation that Sony continues to bring to the industry, especially from the mirrorless space,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics.  “With this new model, we’ve combined the world’s fastest and most extensive AF system with a superb image sensor and many of our most advanced imaging and video technologies, creating a package that can far exceed the performance of any DSLR in its class.   This camera connects you with the action like never before.” 

Unrivaled AF Performance

Sony’s new α6300 camera builds upon the acclaimed 4D FOCUS performance of the α6000 model, utilizing a Fast Hybrid AF system that combines high-speed phase detection AF with extremely accurate contrast AF and allows it to capture and lock on to moving subjects in as little as 0.05 seconds1.  The camera’s High-density Tracking AF technology positions 425 phase detection AF points over nearly the entire field of view, allowing it  to accurately focus throughout a wide area – even on small, fast objects that other cameras would fail to recognize. 

In addition to the extensive AF coverage, the α6300 debuts a new High-density tracking AF technology that significantly improves subject detection and tracking performance.  This new technology can quickly activate a large number of AF points surrounding a subject – approximately 7.5 times more density than the α6000 – and intelligently adjust them in accordance with the subject’s motion.  This is a particularly powerful feature when used with high-speed 11 fps continuous shooting or the new 8 fps continuous live-view mode, which provides 100% accurate framing for fast moving subjects on the LCD screen or viewfinder.

Of note is the fact that the camera’s 425 phase detection AF points, enhanced tracking and focus accuracy are all available on the α6300 when using A-mount lenses4 with a mount adaptor like the Sony LA-EA3.  This is a first for Sony E-mount interchangeable lens cameras with an APS-C sized sensor, as the only other cameras to feature this capability are the full-frame α7R II and α7 II models.

Other enhancements to the α6300 include silent shooting functionality the ability to use AF in focus magnifier mode, expanded flexible spot AF, Eye AF in AF-C mode and more. 

Powerful 24.2 MP Exmor CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Processor

In order to maximize efficiency and overall camera performance, the α6300 features a new 24.2 MP sensor that is an ideal match for its BIONZ X image processing engine. 

The new image sensor employs copper wiring in its structure, which improves light collection efficiency and significantly accelerates readout speed. The BIONZ X processor features an upgraded image processing algorithm designed to maximize the sensor’s overall capabilities.  Together, the two key components work together to produce images with low noise and exceptional resolution in sensitivity settings up to ISO512003, in particular in the mid-to-high sensitivity range. 

Ultimate 4K Resolution and Other Professional Video Capabilities

In another first for non-full-frame Sony interchangeable lens camera, the new α6300 offers internal 4K movie recording in Super 35mm format.  When shooting in 4K, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 20 megapixels of information – approximately 2.4x5 (6K equivalent) as many pixels as 4K UHD and then oversamples the information to produce high quality  footage with exceptional detail and depth.   

The camera utilizes the XAVC S codec6 during video shooting, which records at a high bit rate of 100 Mbps7 during 4K recording and 50 Mbps during standard Full HD shooting, ensuring maximum detail and clarity in both video formats.  Additionally, the camera will focus approximately twice as fast as its predecessor during movie shooting thanks to its new and improved AF system.  AF speed and AF tracking sensitivity are also adjustable for expanded creativity.  

Other professional caliber video features include the ability to record Full HD at 120 fps at 100 Mbps7, another first for α interchangeable lens cameras with APS-C sized sensors.  This mode allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD8 (24p or 30p) resolution with AF tracking.   The new α6300 also offers S-Log gamma recording9 for wide dynamic range shooting – approximately 14-stop latitude in S-Log3 gamma setting – and supports S-Gamut for a wider color space.  Both options allow for greater creativity for processing video post-production.

Also included on the new camera is a microphone line input that accepts external microphones and also supports XLR input with Sony’s XLR adapter kit, as well as Gamma Display Assist, a new function that allows users to monitor images or check focus when recording S-Log movies. The new model has enhanced Zebra functionality for greater exposure control.  Picture profile settings are available, as well as Time Code / User Bit and much more. 

Enhanced Operability and Ergonomics

The α6300 camera is equipped with a high contrast, high-resolution XGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 2.4 million dots that offers exceptional corner-to-corner visibility.  There is also a new mode available for the viewfinder that allows display of images at 120 fps, ensuring that action is displayed smoothly with very few afterimages, making subject tracking through the Tru-finder easier than ever.    

Aesthetically, the new α6300 camera features an extremely solid feel in hand thanks to its robust, magnesium alloy design.  It can be customized to fit nearly any shooting style or preferences, with 9 customizable buttons that one of 64 different functions can be assigned to.  The camera adds a digital level gauge as well as upgraded dust and moisture resistance10, a reinforced lens mount structure and a new shutter release button and mode dial with improved operability and grip.

The new α6300 camera is Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™, which add a variety of creative capabilities to the camera.  It also supports QR code for easy connection to non-NFC smart phones.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α6300 interchangeable lens camera will be available in March for about $1,000 for the camera body or for about $1,150 paired with a 16-50mm F3.5 – F5.6 kit lens (model SELP1650).  Prices for the Canadian market will be about $1,350 CA for the body and about $1,500 CA for the camera kit.  It will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout each region.   

1.      Among interchangeable lens cameras equipped with an APS-C sized sensor as of February 2016, based on Sony research.  Measured using CIPA-compliant guidelines and internal method with an E PZ 16-50 F3.5-5.6 OSS lens mounted.  Pre-AF off and viewfinder in use.

2.      Among interchangeable lens cameras as of February 2016, based on Sony research

3.      Expandable up to ISO 51200 for stills and up to ISO 25600 for movies

4.      A-mount lenses with SSM or SAM only. Users can choose phase-detection AF or contrast-detection AF in AF System menu.

5.      1.6x in 30p setting

6.      An SDHC/SDXC memory card with a Class 10 or higher speed rating is required for XAVC S recording

7.      UHS Class 3 memory card is required for recording at 100Mbps

8.      Number of pixels required for Full HD movie recording is readout from the image sensor

9.      S-Log2 and S-Log3 are based on processing pictures.

10.   This camera is designed for optimal dust and moisture resistance, but is not waterproof or splashproof. For FE lens only

Sony Alpha a6300 specifications PriceMSRP$1000 (body only), $1150 (w/16-50mm lens)Body typeBody typeRangefinder-style mirrorlessBody materialMagnesium-alloySensorMax resolution6000 x 4000Other resolutions3:2 (4240 x 2832, 3008 x 2000), 16:9 (6000 x 3376, 4240 x 2400, 3008 x 1688)Image ratio w:h3:2, 16:9Effective pixels24 megapixelsSensor photo detectors25 megapixelsSensor sizeAPS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)Sensor typeCMOSProcessorBIONZ XColor spacesRGB, Adobe RGBColor filter arrayPrimary color filterImageISOAuto, 100-25600, expandable to 51200Boosted ISO (maximum)51200White balance presets10Custom white balanceYesImage stabilizationNoUncompressed formatRAWJPEG quality levelsExtra fine, fine, normalFile format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.3)
  • Raw (Sony ARW v2.3, 14-bit)
Optics & FocusAutofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYesDigital zoomYes (2x-8x)Manual focusYesNumber of focus points425Lens mountSony E (NEX)Focal length multiplier1.5×Screen / viewfinderArticulated LCDTiltingScreen size3″Screen dots921,600Touch screenNoScreen typeTFT LCDLive viewYesViewfinder typeElectronicViewfinder coverage100%Viewfinder magnification0.7×Viewfinder resolution2,359,296Photography featuresMinimum shutter speed30 secMaximum shutter speed1/4000 secExposure modes
  • Auto
  • Program
  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority
  • Manual
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Macro
  • Sports Action
  • Sunset
  • Night Portrait
  • Night Scene
  • Handheld Twilight
  • Anti Motion Blur
Built-in flashYesFlash range6.00 m (at ISO 100)External flashYesFlash modesFlash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Rear Sync., Slow Sync., Red-eye reduction, Hi-speed sync, WirelessFlash X sync speed1/160 secDrive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous (Hi+ / Hi / Mid / Low)
  • Self-timer
  • Bracketing
Continuous drive11.0 fpsSelf-timerYesMetering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)AE Bracketing±5 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)WB BracketingYesVideography featuresResolutions4K (3840 x 2160 @ 30p/24p), 1920 x 1080 (120p, 60p, 60i, 30p, 24p), 1280 x 720 (24p)FormatMPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S, H.264Videography notesSupports X-AVC S up t0 100 Mbps, ACHD to 28MbpsMicrophoneStereoSpeakerMonoStorageStorage typesSD/SDHC/SDXCConnectivityUSB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)HDMIYes (micro-HDMI)Microphone portYesHeadphone portNoWirelessBuilt-InWireless notes802.11b/g/n with NFCRemote controlYes (via smartphone)PhysicalEnvironmentally sealedYesBatteryBattery PackBattery descriptionNP-FW50 lithium-ion battery & chargerBattery Life (CIPA)400Weight (inc. batteries)404 g (0.89 lb / 14.25 oz)Dimensions120 x 67 x 49 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.93″)Other featuresOrientation sensorYesTimelapse recordingYes (downloadable app)GPSNone
Categories: Photo Gear News

Extreme made easy: GoPro HERO4 Session review

DPReview News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 12:00
GoPro HERO4 Session review Waterproof, ruggedized, incredibly-small and lightweight, the Session is a no-brainer to toss in your bag or coat pocket before heading out on an adventure. 

The GoPro HERO4 Session is the company's latest action camera release. Unlike GoPros before it, the Session is completely waterproof without the need for any housing. It is also the smallest, lightest GoPro to date, 50% smaller than the HERO4 (Black or Silver) and 40% lighter.

The GoPro HERO4 Session is capable of video capture at the following resolutions and frame rates:

 Video Resolution Frame rate  1920 x 1440  30 fps, 25 fps 1920 x 1080  60 fps, 50 fps, 48 fps (in Ultra Wide mode only), 30 fps, 25 fps 1280 x 960  60 fps, 50 fps, 30 fps, 25 fps 1280 x 720  100 fps, 60 fps, 50 fps, 30 fps, 25 fps 848 x 480  120 fps, 100 fps

The Session has dual microphones - one on the front and another on the back - for improved audio quality. The camera will automatically choose to prioritize one mic over the over, depending on the scenario. Stills can be captured at a frame rate as fast as 10 fps (limited to 1 sec bursts). Images are captured at 8MP resulting in a 3264 x 2448 still.

The Session can also capture time-lapses. Available intervals include 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 secs.

Auto Low Light, a feature that determines video frame-rate based on lighting conditions, gives the promise of better low light video quality, something that action cams are not particularly good at. It's worth noting that video files will playback at the selected frame-rate and resolution when using Auto Low Light.

ProTune, an option that allows users to dial in more advanced settings, is available on the HERO4 Session. Selecting ProTune allows users to set their ISO limit (either ISO 400 or ISO 1600), and toggle sharpness on and off. The Session also features a spot meter mode, that, as you may have guessed, determines exposure based on a small point in the center of the frame.

What's included

In addition to the unit itself, the GoPro HERO4 Session ships with just enough to get you started, including: a standard frame, a low-profile frame, one curved adhesive mount, one flat adhesive mount, a ball joint buckle and mounting buckles. A Micro-USB cable is also included for charging and transferring files directly from the GoPro to a computer.

Compared to Siblings

The price of the GoPro HERO4 Session recently dropped to $200. Here's how it sizes up against GoPro's other current offerings:

  HERO4 Session  HERO4 Black  HERO4 Silver  HERO+ Max Video Resolution


4K (UHD) 2160/30p

4K (UHD) 2160/15p

1080/60p Photo Resolution 3264 x 2448 4000 x 3000 4000 x 3000  3264 x 2448  Waterproof (without a housing) Yes  No  No No  Max Still Burst 10 fps 30 fps 10 fps 5 fps  Weight 74 g 152 g 147 g 123 g  Street price $200 $500 $400 $200 Design

The HERO4 unit itself is a tiny 1.5" cube. The body has only two buttons: the large record button on top, located directly in front of the LCD, and a small Info/Wi-Fi button on the lower portion of the back (see lower image). Press the record button once to turn the camera on and start capture - by default the video will be 1080/30p. Press and hold the record button for two seconds to start a time-lapse. By default it will shoot a photo every half-second. In both cases, hitting the record button again stops capture and powers the device down.

Users can change video and still capture settings, in addition to turning on Wi-Fi by hitting the Info/Wi-Fi button and poking through the options. However, the two-button ergonomics can make for a pretty confusing user experience. We found it much easier to change settings by using the GoPro app. 

The LCD on top displays the battery life, recording mode, resolution and clip length (when capturing video), or the number of photos left (if you’re shooting a time-lapse). A small switch on the side of unit, when pressed, reveals the Micro-SD card slot and Micro-USB port (see below).

The HERO4 Session is impressively tough. The body is coated in a rubber-like material, and the door containing the Micro-USB port and microSD slot appears well-sealed. We're not entirely sure what kind of glass the front element is made of, but several run-ins with a flying skateboard didn't even leave a scratch. Seriously, we beat this unit up quite a bit over the course of field testing it, with no damage to speak of. 

Categories: Photo Gear News
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