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Nikon KeyMission 360 price and specs appear on retailer's website

DPReview News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:16

The Nikon KeyMission 360 action camera was unveiled at an event in early January, and while Nikon offered some details about the model, it did not reveal the price. Now, nearly a month later, the camera has surfaced on German retailer Cyberport's website with a list price of €499 and a features list.

The KeyMission 360 records 4K UHD video, is waterproof to depths of 30m/100ft, shockproof from heights up to 2m/6.6ft, and has electronic image stabilization, according to Nikon. The product listing includes some additional specs, including support for microSDHC/SDXC media cards, WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth, an integrated microphone, non-removable Li-Ion battery and USB 2.0.

Nikon said during its January event that it is aiming for a Spring 2016 release; it has not confirmed pricing.

Via: NikonRumors

Categories: Photo Gear News

Readers' Choice Awards 2015: The winners

DPReview News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:44
Readers' Choice Awards 2015: The Winners

At the end of last year we asked you to vote for the best cameras and lenses of 2015. Across two rounds of voting DPReview readers did just that, selecting the top overall photography products of 2015. It was no easy feat, as 2015 brought huge advancements in stills and video technology, but with thousands of votes tallied it's time to declare a winner. See how the votes stacked up.

Runner-up: Nikon D7200

In the runner-up position, coming third in our final poll is the Nikon D7200. The D7200 just edged out the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV to take the third highest number of votes at 9.9% of the overall vote. Both formidable cameras in their own categories, the D7200 nabs the runner-up title with its DX-format 24.2MP sensor, sophisticated AF system and enjoyable handling and ergonomics.

Runner-up: Olympus OM-D E-M5 II

'How do you follow up a classic?' is the question we found ourselves asking of the OM-D E-M5 II. Taking the second-place position in our final poll with 12.9% of the overall vote, the E-M5 II does a fine job of following up its well-regarded predecessor, and its class-leading 5-axis image stabilization system helps it stand out among last year's notable products.

Winner: Sony a7R II

It was our Product of the Year and now that the votes are in, we know it was yours too. The Sony a7R II left a major impression on the industry in 2015 with its sheer capability: a 42MP sensor, built-in image stabilization and 4K video, for starters. Winning by a landslide, the a7R II took 36% of the overall vote.

Thanks to everyone that voted, and we hope that you're all looking forward to more great gear in 2016!

Categories: Photo Gear News

Bokeh, the Pen F, and The Maltster of Yetminster

The Online Photographer - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 09:47
Thud! What was that that just hit the ground like a limp sack of deflated ego? Enter "loser dot com" in your address bar and see what comes up. (For 21 years now, the owner of the domain, Brian Connelly,... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

X-Factor: Canon's EOS-1D X Mark II examined in-depth

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 20:00
Introduction

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is the company's latest flagship camera. Its lineage and price tag make clear that it's aimed at professionals, but what does that really mean? We've had our hands on a prototype, so click through this slideshow for a closer look the all-new Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. 

Handling

The first thing to notice is how similar the body layout and design is to previous models. More so than any other part of the market, pro-level cameras need to be consistent with their predecessors. Working professionals need to be able to pick up the new camera and use it perfectly, the first time they take it out. This may not mean using it to its full potential but, at the very least, it needs to perform as well as the camera they've been using.

To give some idea of how familiar pro shooters become with their cameras, our team photojournalist Jordan Stead's first response upon picking up the camera was: 'I noticed the AF selection joysticks have changed. They're larger and less pointy.' Indeed, the AF selection joysticks are considerably larger, gaining 5D-series-style crenelations around the edges, while maintaining the portcullis-like surface pattern.  

Handling

Unfortunately, leaving everything the same isn't always a good thing, as it can mean the camera's behavior doesn't keep pace with its evolving feature set.

The EOS-1D X II lets you use Auto ISO in manual exposure mode and allows the use of exposure compensation to set the target brightness. However, the +/- exposure compensation button on the top plate doesn't work in M mode: instead you need to customize a different button to set exposure compensation, or remove your eye from the viewfinder and use the Q menu. This makes little sense when you have a dedicated exposure compensation button.

A gripe, and a like

There's also no quick way to switch between having the camera automatically select a starting AF point vs manually selecting one in continuous AF tracking (AI Servo with iTR). Instead you have to dig through the menus to specify this. We believe some photographers will want to manually choose their subject by selecting an AF point and initiating focus with it, but it would be nice to quickly switch to an auto mode - where the camera selects the nearest target - to respond to a quickly changing scenario.

While we're on the subject of quickly switching AF modes, though, it's worth highlighting one of our favorite custom controls: OneShot<-->AI Servo and AF<-->. Assigning a button to these features allows you to quickly swap between single and continuous AF, and between two AF area modes commonly used (e.g. single point vs. all 61 points). This allows a photographer to quickly adapt to changing scenarios. 

Making a class-leading AF module better

By now Canon shooters should be very familiar with the 61-point AF system that debuted in the 1D X, and a version of which can also be found in the 5D Mark III and 5DS/R cameras. This module has been updated for the better in the 1D X II. It offers 24% more vertical coverage, by moving focus points further apart, which also increases the central AF area by 8%. The center AF point is now sensitive down to -3EV in One-Shot AF, which will be a boon for low light - and we think particularly wedding and event - photographers.

Speaking of wedding and event photographers - one consistent complaint leveled at the 1D X was the lack of continuous AF point illumination. This could make it difficult to, for example, follow a dark subject on a wedding dance floor with your center AF point long enough for it to lock focus. In these situations, we'd often find ourselves activating the AF grid (which lights up all points red) on a 5D Mark III just to get a glimpse of where our selected AF point was in relation to the subject. 

With the 1D X II, you can choose to have AF points constantly illuminated, with your selected AF point indicated by red-lit square brackets, while every other AF point is indicated by red dots. Two levels of brightness that are user-selectable control how bright red points appear. In AI Servo mode, you can have your selected AF point lit red as long as the subject is in focus, but we'll withhold judgement on the exact implementation until we've been able to use a production camera. 

Intelligent AF with a 360k-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor

The metering sensor on the 1D X II has experienced a significant increase in resolution. With 360,000 RGB+IR pixels, it's the highest resolution metering sensor we've ever seen. This should lead to accurate metering, and also enables the camera's anti-flicker shooting feature, which delays the shutter firing so that it syncs-up with the brightest moments of the fluctuations that occur with some artificial lighting. 

But the implications of a high resolution metering sensor are most exciting for autofocus. Why? Think of the metering sensor as a low resolution image sensor that can be used to find faces and recognize objects so it can tell the AF system which points to use to follow them (something Canon refers to iTR, and we generally refer to as subject tracking). The main image sensors of DSLRs can't be used to do this (as they can on mirrorless cameras), because they are blocked by the reflex mirror between exposures. However, the metering sensor, embedded in the viewfinder hump, can see the scene in front of the lens whenever the mirror is down. This has prompted the use of increasingly high resolution sensors to provide the cameras with scene and subject awareness. For example, Nikon announced a 180,000-pixel RGB metering sensor in their recent D5/500 announcements (we analyzed its implications here).

So how does it work? Our initial impressions are that subject tracking remains a bit erratic and highly dependent on your shooting scenario - in other words, on the face of it, not as versatile as Nikon's class-leading 3D tracking. While we'd expect it to remain very good at following subjects well-isolated in depth (typically distant subjects shot with telephoto lenses, such as birds), it doesn't appear to be quite accurate enough to track, say, the eye of a face.

We were somewhat surprised by this, given the pinpoint precision Nikon 3D tracking is capable of with a far lower resolution 91,000-pixel RGB metering sensor, and given the accuracy with which the 1D X II itself tended to focus on eyes of faces in One-Shot AF (with 61-point Auto AF). Our guess is that when it comes to iTR, Canon continues to rely heavily on distance information to subject track, which may serve it well for birds-in-flight, distant wildlife, and sports photography, but is known to have its limitations.

In other words, it's not just about how many pixels your metering sensor has, but how you use them. It should be noted though that these impressions are based on limited use of a pre-production camera, so we're not drawing any definitive conclusions at this stage. And at the end of the day, that the camera can focus or subject track at all at 14 fps is nothing short of impressive.

Face detection in viewfinder shooting

Face detection in OVF shooting is nothing new: cameras like the original 1D X, 5DS, 7D Mark II, and most full-frame Nikon cameras also have this ability. But with the 360,000 RGB+IR pixel sensor, the 1D X has the potential to recognize faces better. Does it?

In our brief time with the EOS-1D X Mark II, face detection indeed appeared to work very well. When the camera is set to iTR (Face Priority), and 61-point mode with Auto selection, in single AF (One-Shot) mode the camera is really good at finding the nearest face and focusing on it – and it even appears from our initial testing to prioritize eyes or the plane of a person's cheeks. Traditionally, we’ve found face detection in OVF shooting on Canon cameras like the 7D Mark II and 5DS to focus on the nose – possibly due to the low resolution of the metering sensor and the camera ostensibly just telling the PDAF system to focus in the general vicinity of the face (dedicated PDAF systems tend to prioritize the nearest object - like noses). With the spatial resolution of a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor, though, we expect the eyes to be distinguishable features, and we found the majority of shots shot with ‘Auto’ AF area with face priority to be focused on or near the eyes, less so the nose. The system was also good at not getting confused by objects obstructing parts of faces - impressive

That said, results were less impressive in continuous AF mode (AI Servo), where iTR kicks in and can lead to erratic results. In Servo 61-point AF with iTR, we found the camera to start on or near the eye of a detected face, but then wander off to a nose, or the subject’s hair. This is consistent with our previous experiences – we’ve found iTR to be somewhat inaccurate at sticking to your initial subject (e.g. the eye of a face), potentially due to its heavy reliance on distance information over pattern recognition for subject tracking. However, we would’ve expected the 360,000-pixel RGB+IR sensor to significantly increase the accuracy of iTR for subjects such as faces and facial features, and nearer objects in general. Yet our initial impressions are that if it does, it’s not obvious (as yet).

Please note, though, again, that our initial assessment is based on use of a pre-production EOS-1D X Mark II.

Backwards compatibility

As well as offering familiar ergonomics, the camera offers a good degree of backwards compatibility. For example, the Mark II uses a new battery, the LP-E19 but is still able to make use of the LP-E4 batteries used by its predecessor. 

This means that any professionals who've built up a collection of LP-E4 batteries with their previous cameras. However, the difference between the two isn't simply a matter of capacity: reverting to the older packs will see the maximum continuous shooting rate from from 14 fps (with 16 fps in live view) back to the 12/14 fps rate offered by the original 1D X. The new battery also offers an impressive figure of 1210 shots on one charge, according to CIPA standards.

CFast / Compact Flash

This attempt to maintain backwards compatibility risks adding complications, though. For existing users, the camera includes a CompactFlash socket but to cope with greater data throughput, the main slot uses the outwardly similar but physically incompatible CFast format.

We have concerns about the wisdom of using two such similar cards alongside one another in the high-pressure circumstances the 1D X II will be used in. It's a concern echoed by pro shooter Jordan Stead:

'I'll probably stick with [CompactFlash] for now: there don't seem to be enough advantages to CFast if you're not shooting 4K,' he says. 'Also, I'd worry about whether you can accidentally try to mash the wrong card into the wrong slot, because they're so similar. If you're on the sidelines, dealing with runners [running cards back from the camera to a laptop], they're not going to know the difference - I'd worry about them breaking my card reader or bringing me the wrong card.'

Speed benefits

With a CFast card, the camera can shoot nearly as many Raw files in a burst as the original 1D X could manage with JPEGs (170 vs 180), meaning that beyond the increase in storage required, there's effectively no performance cost to shooting Raw.

The significance of this may not so much be a question of having such a large buffer, but in the fact that it essentially removes one of the key limitations to shooting Raw.

'For the shooting I do, [a 12 second buffer] is unnecessary,' says Stead. 'I can't remember ever shooting more than 3 or so seconds in a burst, but it's good to know that you're never going to hit its limit [literally, with unlimited JPEG shooting].'

What is it?

And several other upgrades have also been made that reduce any impact of the larger file sizes that Raw brings. The speed of the Ethernet port has been increased from 100Mbps to 330Mbps while the new WFT-E8A Wi-Fi accessory now supports the substantially faster 802.11ac standard. There's also a USB 3.0 connector, giving plenty of high-speed options for file transfer.

All of these make it easier to transfer large files off the camera quickly, however you're delivering your images.

On the go

On top of this, the camera's post-shot in-camera Raw processing has been improved, and it's now possible to apply all the digital lens corrections previously offered by Canon's Digital Photo Professional software in the camera as a post-processing option. This allows lens-specific distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration and color blur to be corrected. The camera's JPEG engine also gains a diffraction optimizing function that tries to correct for diffraction if you shoot using small apertures.

The 1D X II also features built-in GPS. 'GPS is cool, too - it's another thing that the camera is embedding for you, meaning that you don't need to stop and add that information yourself,' highlights Stead.

Video capabilities

Looking closely at the EOS-1D X II's video capabilities tells an interesting story. The camera still lacks the focus peaking and zebra warnings offered on the Cinema EOS cameras the company makes for professional video work. And, for that matter, the Log Gamma option that appeared on the 1D C (so it's not clear whether this camera eliminates the need for a 1D C II). The camera can also only output 1080 footage over HDMI, which suggests Canon doesn't expect (or want) it to take the place of one of its more video-focused models.

Video for non-videographers

Saying that the 1D X II doesn't appear to be designed for professional video doesn't mean it can't offer video for professionals; it merely depends on which profession. With its touchscreen-operated Dual Pixel AF system, the 1D X II should be one of the easiest cameras to capture footage with if you're not an experienced videographer. The autofocus should be able to refocus without distracting focus wobble simply by tapping the screen. What's more, tracking sensitivity and AF speeds can be adjusted for movie recording, allowing videographers to optimize continuous focus for their particular application. 

We're a little perplexed, though as to why this Dual Pixel AF isn't available for continuous AF in stills shooting. Clearly, continuous Dual Pixel AF is possible (Movie Servo AF), yet it's simply disabled for stills.

The only thing we're surprised to see is that it doesn't appear to be possible to use Auto ISO and exposure compensation when manually exposing in video. Setting the shutter speed and aperture, then leaving the camera to use ISO to maintain a pre-specified brightness is one of the easiest ways to shoot.

But what about 4K?

The biggest upgrade in the camera's video spec is the addition of 4K shooting but, interestingly, this can only be captured using the Motion JPEG format and the wider-than-16:9 DCI 4K aspect ratio (4096 x 2160 pixels). Both of these choices seem odd: the All-I H.264 compression the camera uses for its 1080 footage would be a more efficient choice of codec and the 16:9 UHD flavor of 4K is better suited to certain applications.

However, along with 4K capture, the 1D X II includes tools to grab 8.8MP frames from its 4K files: at which point the decision to save every frame as an individual JPEG makes slightly more sense. Wedding shooters might even use this feature to document receptions in complete silence: despite the 1D X II gaining a continuous silent drive mode like the 5DS/R, it's not all that silent. 

The 1D X II also gains a headphone jack, important for monitoring sound levels during video recording.

First impressions

Overall, the EOS-1D X II looks pretty much exactly as we thought it would look. It's a solid, high-performance DSLR that works in basically the same way as its predecessors. It improves on them in several respects, which will matter for those that depend on key aspects Canon has improved - F8 autofocus across the entire array, for example, could be game changing for some. But overall, it does not represent a major paradigm shift in either Canon's state-of-the-art, or the digital camera market as a whole. This isn't a criticism - this is what progress looks like at the very top of the market, where letting working professionals get the shot they need matters a lot more than piling on fancy features.

That said, there are two main ways in which we think the camera may prove particularly significant, once it gets into the hands of pro photographers.

The first is autofocus performance. Canon has been developing its iTR autofocus tracking for some time and there's still a chance it'll shine when put to use in the field (despite our initial impressions of its accuracy). And the fact that iTR and AF in general even function at 14 fps is amazing. In the EOS-1D X Mark II, Dual Pixel AF makes its debut in full-frame format. This not only offers fast, precise, and decisive AF in video, but also accurate and quick AF in Live View for stills shooting, albeit of static subjects, without the need for lens-specific calibration, ever.

The second area in which the EOS-1D X Mark II could raise the bar is workflow. The 1D X II features a series of improvements that could make Raw shooting much easier to incorporate into a high-speed press photography workflow. Equally if it helps stills-focused photojournalists to shoot effective video clips, it could prove to be much more of a breakthrough than it initially seems.

It's this second aspect that caught Stead's eye: 'Everything seems designed to help get the images out of the camera and onto the wires as quickly as possible, without the need for a computer - whether you're a JPEG or Raw shooter. It looks like the perfect sports/wire service camera.'

Categories: Photo Gear News

Key features explained: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 20:00
Introduction

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is the company's latest pro-level DSLR, now built around a 20.2MP CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF technology. It uses a body that's the most subtle possible evolution of the classic 1D design, which makes sense, given how many of its long-standing professional users will need to find it familiar the moment they use it. Inside, though, almost every aspect of the camera's feature set has been overhauled - from the autofocus system to the video capability, the ISO range to the card format it uses. Let us talk you through the biggest changes.

Autofocus improvements

The EOS-1D X II features a similar AF module to that found on the previous flagship 1D X, as well as on the 5D Mark III and 5DS/R, but comes with some notable improvements. For a start, the coverage is larger, with the central region expanding vertically by 8% and the 20 points on the left and right flanks extending vertically 24% more than before.

All 61 points can now focus at F8, which will be very useful when shooting telephoto lenses with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. 41 of those points are cross-type, having both horizontal and vertical line sensitivity. 5 central points are dual cross-type and have wider baselines that offer high precision focusing for F2.8 and faster lenses. The center point works down to -3EV in One-Shot AF. It's not available in AI Servo because it requires a longer sampling interval, which would slow down AI Servo.

Also improved is AF point illumination, based particularly on feedback from wedding and event photographers. Points can now remain lit red when focusing, which helps you keep your AF point over your subject in dim situations. Additionally, two brightness levels are available so you can fine tune brightness based on your preference.

You can read more specifics about the very similar previous 61-point module in our EOS 5DS coverage here.

Metering Sensor

The 1D X Mark II gets a new metering module. It's now a 360,000 pixel sensor that is used both for metering and to provide scene awareness to Canon's 'Intelligent Tracking and Recognition' (iTR) autofocus system.

The sensor itself is a two-layer CMOS chip, with red, green and blue information captured by the top layer and infrared detected further down into the silicon.

Touchscreen LCD

The LCD screen on the back of the camera has received a significant upgrade. It's now 1.62 million-dot, up from 1.04 million-dot. This represents a move from 720 x 480 to 900 x 600 pixels and the increase in resolution is noticeable. Images look crisp and clear on the back, thanks especially to Canon's 'Clear View' technology that uses optical coatings to reduce reflections.

The LCD is also touch-enabled, but you can only use touch to select a focus point in Live View, either for stills shooting, or to refocus on subjects during movie shooting. It cannot be used to operate menus, nor (annoyingly) is it enabled in playback.

Battery

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II ships with a new battery, which allows for 1210 shots on one charge. The nice thing is, the battery compartment remains backwards compatible with the older 1D X battery. However, if you use the older battery, frame rates will drop to 1D X levels (12 fps with AF, 14 fps in live view or with the mirror locked up). Heartbreakingly slow, we think you'll agree. 

Dual Pixel AF

Dual Pixel AF makes its debut on a full-frame sensor with the 1D X II. Every pixel on the sensor is split into two separate photodiodes, one left-looking and one right-looking. Comparing the phase difference between strips of left-looking vs. right-looking pixels essentially allows the camera to determine exactly how much to move the focus element to acquire focus, much as the dedicated phase-detect module in DSLRs do. Approximately 80% of the frame is available for focus using Dual Pixel AF, and the technology is particularly useful not just for this extensive coverage, but for the inherently accurate focus it provides - because focus is performed at the imaging plane, there's little possibility for mis-focus and the inaccuracy issues dedicate phase-detect sensors in DSLRs display.

Perplexingly, Dual Pixel AF can only be used in One-Shot AF in Live View, meaning it can't be used to continuously focus (though it can for movies). We weren't given any reasons as to this limitation, and given that continuous focus is certainly possible - as it works during movie shooting - it seems an odd omission.

Read our original coverage of Dual Pixel AF, with an in-depth look at how it works, here.

Canon embraces CFast (and Compact Flash)

Canon has decided to adopt the CFast standard while also providing a CompactFlash slot for backwards compatibility. The logic of this move is to 'futureproof' the camera. For now, Canon has provided the option for super high-speed data rates without alienating its existing audience, who most likely have a large collection of CF cards.

Should you own a CFast card, you'll be able to capture 170 Raw files in a burst: just a fraction below the 180 JPEGs that its predecessor could manage (the Mark II will shoot JPEGs continuously until you run out of card space). CFast is also required for 4K video recording.

Video capabilities

On paper, the EOS-1D X Mark II has very impressive video specifications - moving far beyond what its predecessor was capable of and incorporating most of what the more niche EOS-1D C offered. The standout spec is the ability to shoot DCI 4K footage (4096 x 2160 pixels) at up to 60 frames per second. This capability is the same as the 1D C, though the X II doesn't include that camera's Log Gamma option.

To give faster access to video shooting there's a Video/Live View switch around the live view button just to the right of the viewfinder. In addition, the camera gains a headphone socket for audio monitoring during recording.

Full HD options

In terms of 1080 video, the camera can record at up to 120 or 100 frames per second (without audio) or at 60, 50, 30, 25, and 24 frames per second, depending on whether you've got the camera set to PAL or NTSC mode. Interestingly there's also the option to capture true 24p footage, as well as the 23.98p approximation offered in NTSC mode.

The camera can output a 'clean' signal across its HDMI port, for use with an external recorder or monitor (which could be used to provide focus peaking and zebra warnings, if needed), but this stream is 1080 only, not 4K.

Touch-to-focus video

The other video-friendly hardware change on the 1D X II is the addition of touch sensitivity to the rear LCD. This is only used for a very limited number of features but one of these is to position and re-position with autofocus point during video recording. Combined with the camera's Dual Pixel AF sensor design, this should make it easy to adjust focus in video without the risk of the lens over-shooting or adding distracting focus wobble to video clips, as can happen with contrast detection autofocus.

Touch to focus can also be used for One-Shot AF in stills Live View shooting. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Canon announces flagship EOS-1D X Mark II full-frame digital SLR

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 20:00
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Canon has announced its new flagship DSLR, the full-frame EOS-1D X Mark II. It features a new 20.2MP CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF, and uses a pair of Dual DIGIC 6+ processors to capture 4K video and shoot continuously at up to 16 fps. The camera has a native ISO of 100-51200, expandable to 409600.

The new 61-point autofocus system has 41 cross-type sensors and 24% larger frame coverage than its predecessor. Its center point is sensitive to -3EV in OneShot AF. In live view the camera uses the latest iteration of Canon's Dual Pixel AF technology for high-speed focusing in OneShot mode. The metering system has also been updated to use a 360k-pixel RGB+IR sensor, which the company says improves subject - including face - detection and tracking.

As with its predecessors, the 1D X is as rugged a camera as you'll find. It's magnesium alloy body is fully weather-sealed and has a shutter that will last for approximately 400,000 cycles. In addition to its large optical viewfinder (now with better, adjustable AF point illumination), the Mark II has a 3.2" Clear View II LCD with 1.62 million dots, up from 1.04 million dots. The screen is touch-enabled, but only for autofocus point selection in Live View. Another new addition is a built-in GPS (with an e-compass), which sits in a 'hump' on the top of the viewfinder. Otherwise, the design of the Mark II is very similar to that of its predecessor.

Performance-wise, the 1D X II can shoot continuously at 14 fps with autofocus, and if you lock the mirror up, you can shoot up to 16 fps with locked focus and exposure. If you're using the older LP-E4N battery, the top shooting speeds drop to the same frame rates as the 1D X (12/14 fps). If you're using a CFast card you can take an unlimited number of JPEGs or a whopping 170 Raw images in a single burst, or 12 seconds of shooting at 14 fps. The 1D X II also has a slot for standard CompactFlash cards. When it comes to connecting to a PC you can choose from the camera's USB 3.0 or Ethernet ports. Wi-Fi requires the use of Canon's $600 WFT-E8 wireless file transmitter.

One of the most significant additions to the 1D X II is support for 4K (DCI) video capture. It can capture 4K video at 60p using the M-JPEG codec (which allows for easy frame grabs) as well as 1080p at frame rates of up to 120 fps. You'll need to use a CFast card in order to record more than a few seconds of 4K video though. Dual Pixel AF enables continuous autofocus in video, and touch focus makes the experience a breeze. The camera does not offer focus peaking or zebra patterns natively, but they are visible when using an external recorder. As one would expect given its place in Canon's lineup, the 1D X Mark II has both headphone and mic jacks.

The EOS-1D X Mark II will be available in April for $5999 (body only), or bundled with a 64GB CFast card and reader for $6299.

Press release:

Fast, Formidable, and 4K, All-in-One Camera: CANON U.S.A. Introduces the EOS-1D X Mark II Professional Digital Camera 

Delivering Precise and Reliable Performance with Versatility for Any Photo or Video Professional

MELVILLE, N.Y., February 1, 2016 – Rising to meet the rigorous and evolving demands of professional photographers and videographers, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, is proud to announce the new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera. With a new 20.2 megapixel 35mm Full Frame Canon CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors, the EOS-1D X Mark II professional digital camera delivers stunning image quality and speed. Combining the ability to capture high-resolution still images at speeds up to 14 frames per second as well as stunning high-definition video up-to-4K 60P featuring Canon’s proprietary Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus (AF) technology, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera becomes the ideal camera for any professional image creator. 

The new flagship Canon EOS-1D X Mark II features several firsts for EOS cameras including:

  • Newly developed 20.2 megapixel 35mm Full Frame Canon CMOS sensor;
  • Continuous shooting speeds of up-to-14 frames per second (fps) with Auto Exposure (AE) and predictive AF for viewfinder shooting and up to 16 fps1 in Live View mode; 
  • Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors that transfer image data at extremely high speed for extended bursts during continuous shooting – up-to-170 consecutive RAW images at 14 fps. When shooting JPEG images you’re only limited by memory card capacity2
  • Capable of shooting 4K 60P and Full HD 120P video with Dual Pixel CMOS AF;
  • Enhanced wireless functionality (with the optional accessory Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E8) that supports the new high-speed IEEE 802.11ac standard and the  ability to easily transfer photos and videos to compatible smartphones using Canon’s Camera Connect app*; 
  • Digital Lens Optimizer to help correct aberrations in-camera (a feature that previously required post-processing on an external computer); 
  • Improved 61-point viewfinder AF with expanded coverage and all AF-points selectable and supported to a maximum aperture of f/8; 
  • Improved AI Servo III+ predictive AF algorithm for better accuracy; 
  • Continuous red illumination of all AF points within the camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder II.
  • Compatibility with both CF and CFast memory cards for optimal performance and versatility.

The Ultimate EOS Camera: Continuing a Legacy of High Speed and Performance

Building on the success of the Canon EOS-1D X professional digital camera, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera is designed to deliver high-performance, speed, and image quality, with improved comfort for professional photographers. In addition to the new 20.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors, the new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera includes an improved 61-point High-Density Reticular AF II system with all AF points selectable by the user (and up to 41 cross-type points depending on the lens in use). The improved AF system includes expanded coverage that supports AF at maximum apertures up to f/8 with all 61 points for high precision autofocus even when using EF super-telephoto lenses with an EF extender. The camera also boasts excellent dynamic range and reduced color noise compared to its predecessor throughout its standard ISO speed range of 100 - 51,200. Expansion ISO speeds of 50, 102,400, 204,800 and 409,600 are also available.  A first for the Canon EOS-1D series, this camera also features a 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with enhanced precision and performance compared to its predecessor, improving facial recognition and tracking, as well as nature scenes. Additionally, the advanced AE system can detect and compensate for flickering light sources such as sodium vapor lamps that are often used in gymnasiums and swimming pools. When enabled, this anti-flicker system automatically adjusts shutter release timing to help reduce disparities in exposure and color especially during continuous burst shooting.

For filmmakers and photographers looking to do more than still photography alone with a DSLR camera and EF lenses, the EOS-1D X Mark II camera offers high resolution DCI 4K video at frame rates up-to-60p, with smooth movie recording to an in-camera CFast 2.0 memory card. An additional card slot supports standard CF memory cards up to UDMA 7. The built-in headphone jack supports real-time audio monitoring. Two additional EOS ‘firsts’ include 4K Frame Grab and 120p Full HD recording. The camera’s 4K Frame Grab function allows users to isolate a frame from recorded 4K video and create an 8.8 megapixel still JPEG image in-camera. When combined with the EOS-1D X Mark II’s high-sensitivity full-frame CMOS sensor, the new camera’s ability to record Full HD video at frame rates up to 120p will allow videographers to produce high quality slow motion video even in extremely low light. To make video shooting even more intuitive, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s touch-screen LCD allows videographers to select the camera’s AF point before and during video recording with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which provides responsive, accurate and quiet camcorder-like video autofocus to DSLRs.

“The innovations within Canon’s new EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR camera clearly set a new standard for professional cameras,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “In developing the EOS-1D X Mark II camera, we looked to incorporate user-requested performance enhancements to bring professional photographers the ultimate EOS camera, a camera that has matured and been developed to meet their evolving needs.” 

“Having f/8 capability on all 61 AF points is a tremendous benefit to wildlife photographers," noted nature photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Charles Glatzer. “In order to capture tight shots of animals without disturbing them, I frequently have to use very long lenses—sometimes with an extender attached, which further diminishes the aperture. The improved AF allows me to frame the shot exactly the way I envision it, without having to compromise.”

“This camera is a huge step forward,” remarked acclaimed photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Damian Strohmeyer. “Shooting sports in a gym at 8,000 ISO, it looked as good as 800 ISO from a generation or two ago. The images are tack-sharp, and the autofocus just doesn't miss. I've been amazed by what I've seen so far.”

“The autofocus was awesome,” agreed Peter Read Miller, sports photographer and Canon Explorer of Light.  “The higher frame rate coupled with the speed of the CFast card was a definite advantage. It just never buffered out, even shooting RAW.”

The new EOS-1D X Mark II camera also offers a built-in GPS** receiver with compass for precise geo-tagged information of latitude, longitude, elevation and direction. This is especially valuable to wildlife photographers and photojournalists who need to track their locations, as well as providing sports photographers the ability to sync a multiple-camera setup with extreme accuracy and precision. It is also possible to use the camera’s built-in GPS to automatically sync the camera’s time to the atomic clock, an invaluable feature to professionals.  An improved grip also makes the camera easier for photographers to hold and maneuver while shooting. In response to feedback from professional EOS users, the AF points in the EOS-1D X Mark II camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder II can be illuminated in red for improved visibility, especially when shooting in dark locations. AF sensitivity in low light has been doubled from EV -2 to EV -3 at the center AF point when the camera is set to One-Shot AF, enabling the camera to autofocus in extremely dark shooting conditions such as a moonlit nightscape. Viewfinder AF coverage has also been increased for greater compositional flexibility.

As with all EOS-1D series cameras, the EOS-1D X Mark II’s rugged construction and magnesium alloy body is weather resistant. The camera also features improved controls and more in-camera image quality enhancements than ever before, including a Digital Lens Optimizer function offering high quality aberration correction which can now be achieved without an external computer. This feature makes it easier for professional photographers to deliver finished files to their clients, especially in situations when access to a personal computer is impractical or inconvenient. 

The estimated retail price for the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is $5999 (MSRP) for the body or $6299 for the Premium Kit which includes a 64 GB CFast memory card and card reader. The new camera is scheduled to begin shipping to authorized Canon USA dealers in April 2016***. For more information and the full list of product specifications, visit: usa.canon.com/EOS1DXMarkII 

* With the download of the free Canon Camera Connect app. This software enables you to upload images to social network services. Before uploading images, please be aware that image files may contain privacy-related information such as people and places. If necessary, please delete such information. Canon does not obtain, collect or use such images or any information included in such images through this software. 
** In certain countries and regions, the use of GPS may be restricted. Therefore be sure to use GPS in accordance with the laws and regulations of your country or region. Be particularly careful when traveling outside your home country. As a signal is received from GPS satellites, take sufficient measures when using in locations where the use of electronics is regulated.
***Availability, pricing and specifications are subject to change without notice. Actual prices are set by individual dealers and may vary.

1. Continuous shooting speed may vary depending on the shutter speed, the aperture, the lens being used, the battery charge and various camera settings
2. Burst rate using CFast card

EOS-1D X Mark II specifications PriceMSRP$5999 (body only)Body typeBody typeLarge SLRBody materialMagnesium alloySensorMax resolution5472 x 3648Other resolutions4368 x 2912, 3648 x 2432, 2736 x 1824Image ratio w:h3:2Effective pixels20 megapixelsSensor photo detectors22 megapixelsSensor sizeFull frame (36 x 24 mm)Sensor typeCMOSProcessorDual DIGIC 6+Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGBColor filter arrayPrimary color filterImageISOAuto, 100-51200 (expands to 50-409600)Boosted ISO (minimum)50Boosted ISO (maximum)409600White balance presets6Custom white balanceYes (5 slots)Image stabilizationNoUncompressed formatRAWFile format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.3)
  • Raw (Canon CR2, 14-bit)
Optics & FocusAutofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Manual focusYesNumber of focus points61Lens mountCanon EFFocal length multiplier1×Screen / viewfinderArticulated LCDFixedScreen size3.2″Screen dots1,620,000Touch screenYes (for AF point selection only)Screen typeTFT LCDLive viewYesViewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)Viewfinder coverage100%Viewfinder magnification0.76×Photography featuresMinimum shutter speed30 secMaximum shutter speed1/8000 secExposure modes
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
Built-in flashNoExternal flashYes (via hot shoe or flash sync)Flash X sync speed1/250 secContinuous drive16.0 fpsSelf-timerYesMetering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)AE Bracketing±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)Videography featuresResolutions4096 x 2160 (60p, 30p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p), 1920 x 1080 (120p, 60p, 50p, 25p, 24p, 23.98p)FormatMPEG-4, H.264, Motion JPEGMicrophoneMonoSpeakerMonoStorageStorage includedCompactFlash + CFast 2.0ConnectivityUSB USB 3.0 (5 GBit/sec)HDMIYesMicrophone portYesHeadphone portYesWirelessOptionalWireless notesrequires WFT-E8Remote controlYesPhysicalEnvironmentally sealedYesBatteryBattery PackBattery descriptionLP-E19 lithium-ion battery & chargerBattery Life (CIPA)1210Weight (inc. batteries)1530 g (3.37 lb / 53.97 oz)Dimensions158 x 168 x 83 mm (6.22 x 6.61 x 3.27″)Other featuresOrientation sensorYesGPSBuiltInGPS noteswith e-compass
Categories: Photo Gear News

Phottix announces next generation of Odin TTL flash controllers

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:39
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Flash and accessory manufacturer Phottix has released details of the second generation of Odin flash controllers that will go on sale mid-February. The Odin II units, which allow wireless TTL control of hotshoe and portable studio flash units, will add two extra control groups and 28 additional channels to the radio trigger’s reach, and will make the user interface easier to handle. 

The Odin system, which is compatible with Nikon, Canon and Sony cameras can be used with the company’s battery-powered Indra 500 and 300 portable studio flash heads, as well as the company’s Mitros hotshoe flash units. The new models also add an AF assist lamp, 10 new custom functions and digital ID for channels 5 to 32 to ensure the correct units are communicating. 

The Odin system is divided into transmitters and receivers, and Phottix’s own flash units have the receivers built-in. Photographers using Canon, Nikon or Sony branded flash units can use their hotshoe flash units with an Odin receiver to take advantage of the better range and connection of radio transmission over the line-of-sight systems camera brands tend to produce. Radio also works better when shooting outside in bright conditions.

The company says that new firmware will be released for the Mitros and Indra flash units to make them compatible with the new features. 

The Canon and Nikon models will be available first, with those for Sony cameras arriving in late April. The transmitters will cost £160, while receivers will be £125.

For more information visit the Phottix website.

Press release: 

Introducing the Phottix Odin II TTL Flash Trigger

Phottix adds cutting edge functionality and features to its flagship trigger

Eagerly anticipated by thousands of Odin customers, the Odin II is the result of requests from Professional Photographers demanding more from their TTL flash systems.  Phottix is delivering on its promises to provide the very best system available today. 

Unrivalled Control and Streamlined User Interface

The Odin II allows more control than ever before.  The controls are logical, simple to use, and allow extremely fast adjustments.

With five groups, A, B, C, D and E, the dedicated quick access buttons allow changes to be made by simply turning the new thumb wheel which is perfectly placed below the improved large LCD screen to adjust the compensation.  The backlit LCD panel shows the settings at a glance.  Now you can control five channels or groups of lights at the touch of a button, in TTL Mode or in a combination of full manual mode and TTL - the choice is yours.  When switching a group off, its display line disappears from the screen, showing just the groups remaining active.

Backward Compatibility

The Odin II system is compatible with the original Odin system, Phottix Mitros+ Speedlights, the award-winning Indra360 and Indra500 TTL Studio lights, Strato and Strato II receivers, and Atlas II in receiver mode.  Using channels 1 to 4 you can work with the kit you already own with the Phottix Odin II.

More Channels and Digital ID

To take advantage of the Phottix Odin II, a total of 32 channels can be used, channels 5 to 32 use the full functionality of the Odin II receiver, including a user-set digital ID for the ultimate in secure triggering.  Users can remotely control Speedlight zoom settings, providing the perfect coverage from a wide angle to a spot light.  When shooting with the Phottix Indra360/500 series, the Odin II transmitter also offers remote modelling light control and full light ratio controls.

High Speed Sync and Overdrive Sync

High Speed Sync with TTL flashes and Overdrive Sync with manual enable flash photography at up to 1/8000 second for creative photographers.  The newly added AF assist light makes autofocus a breeze in dimly lit locations.  An additional ten custom functions allow users to customise the Odin II, including switching on/off the audible beep, screen brightness, an AF Illuminator function and the ODS system control functionality, as well as a full factory reset should you need it.

Firmware Updates

Firmware upgrades for the Phottix Mitros+ and Phottix Indra360/500 will soon be available to take advantage of the new features of the Odin II - these will be announced shortly via the Phottix Journal and on the Phottix.com website.

Major Features 

  • 5 groups A, B, C, D and E
  • 32 channels with user-set Digital ID on channels 5 to 32
  • Group buttons and thumbwheel control for fast operation
  • TTL Power Control +/- 3EV
  • Manual Power Control 1/1 to 1/128th
  • High Speed Sync – up to 1/8000s on compatible cameras
  • Second Curtain Sync (Nikon and Sony only)
  • AF Assist Light
  • Flash zoom control
  • Modelling Light Control with Indra500/360
  • 2.4 GHz, Range up to 100 metres
  • Compatible with Indra500/360 TTL, Mitros+, Odin, Strato, Strato II and Atlas II
  • Always up to date via the latest Firmware.

Odin II for Nikon and Canon will be available from all Platinum Dealers week commencing 15th of February 2016, the Sony Odin II is expected to arrive in late April.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Behind the scenes at Fujifilm's factory in Sendai, Japan

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:27
Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

After the official launch of the X-Pro2 recently in Tokyo, Fujifilm invited a select group of press to visit its Taiwa assembly plant near Sendai to see the camera being put together. As well as the X-Pro2, we were also able to see the assembly lines for the X-T1, X100T, and several lenses. Fujifilm has been making optics since the 1940s, and although the construction workers of that time would not recognize much of the technology used in lens construction today, a lot of the assembly is still done fairly traditionally, by hand. 

The first step when visiting any assembly plant, is to sterilize yourself. No, not like that, but by donning head-to-foot protective clothing and scrubbing your hands with alcohol. It's a time-consuming, uncomfortable but necessary step in order to prevent contamination of the assembly line. I do very much regret keeping a sweater on underneath the overalls though. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, a worker in Fujifilm's Taiwa plant uses a sonic motorized screwdriver to assemble the company's 56mm F1.2 prime lens. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Journalists take photographs of the various lens groups that make up the new 100-400mm zoom, laid out on a table at Fujifilm's Taiwa plant, which is about 20 miles outside of the city of Sendai. 

The elements themselves are not ground and polished in Sendai, but like other components they are shipped in, ready to be turned into complete lenses. Fujifilm has three additional facilities in Japan that mold and polish glass lens elements and machine various other components.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, a worker performs the delicate job of attaching the PCB to Fujifilm's new 100-400mm telezoom. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The 100-400mm zoom takes roughly 4 hours to assemble, in its progress from a box of bits to a finished lens. These lenses are almost complete, and await the final assembly and testing phases of their construction. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Fujifilm's new 100-400mm telezoom being assembled. As with other factories we've visited in Japan, a lot of the assembly is done by hand, and aside from calibration, there's little automation in the assembly lines of either lenses, or cameras in Fujifilm's factory. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, a 100-400mm zoom undergoes final testing. This process (which involves racking the zoom and focus ring to various points, repeatedly) is partly automated - presumably to avoid the human operators from getting repetitive strain injury.

Almost all of the other calibration tests and checks are confidential, which means no photos. None taken by humans, anyway.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

A 100-400mm gets the finishing touches added, prior to being boxed up for shipping. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Several completed 100-400mm zooms are placed in plastic trays before being wrapped and boxed-up for shipping.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, a worker examines one of the groups destined to become part of Fujifilm's much smaller 35mm F2 prime lens. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Again, a majority of the steps in the assembly of this lens are manual, with little automation. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

We were impressed by just how many of the stages in assembly appear to be visual inspection. A single worker might inspect hundreds of these components in a day.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, lens groups are arranged in trays ready to be inspected.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Ultraviolet light is used to 'cure' the cement that holds elements securely in their groups. Gone are the days of screwing elements together using friction and using shims to adjust their precise alignment.  

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, several 35mm F2 primes sit in trays awaiting the final stages of their assembly.  

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The front bezel of the 35mm F2 is attached with four screws. Once this is done, the screws will be concealed by the nameplate ring. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

And here are the finished lenses with their nameplates attached, ready to be boxed and shipped. Much simpler than the 100-400mm zoom, the 35mm prime takes only about 80 minutes to assemble, in total. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The day we toured Fujifilm's factory was the first 'official' day of production for the new X-Pro2. Of course workers have been putting final shipping cameras together now for some time, under a veil of secrecy ahead of the product launch in mid-January.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Although outwardly similar to the original X-Pro1, the X-Pro2 is a completely redesigned, considerably more complex camera than the first X-series ILC. It should be - Fujifilm has had four years to gather feedback from users of the original camera. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Like the lenses, the X-Pro2 arrives in Sendai as a collection of partly-finished components ready for final assembly. Here, a worker performs the delicate job of connecting the various wires and ribbon connectors that will bring the camera to life.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The X-Pro2's firmware isn't 'hardwired' but has to be manually uploaded to every camera individually, in one of the final stages of assembly before the cameras are boxed up for shipping. Doing it at this late stage decreases the risk that firmware will need to be loaded more than once if an update is required. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, a worker is attaching the small plastic window over the X-Pro2's focusing lamp before applying the leatherette material that covers much of the outside of the camera's body.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

One of the trickiest (and most manual) stages in the construction of the X-Pro2 is applying the leatherette material to the camera body. This is done slowly, carefully, and entirely by hand.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The material is carefully pressed into place around the lens throat, and various control points. Bubbles are worked out by scraping the material gently with a plastic 'spudger'. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The X-Pro2's grip is attached using a very strong adhesive, and firm adhesion is ensured by placing the camera in a mechanical press that applies firm and even pressure to the join. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Here, finished X-Pro2 bodies await final checks before being boxed up for shipping. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

The X-Pro2 isn't the only camera that is put together in Sendai. Fujifilm also assembles the X-T1 in the same facility. Here, a collection of X-T1 top-plates await assembly.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

And this is what happens next. The X-T1's magnesium-alloy top-plates are introduced to the electronic viewfinder assembly, ready to be mated with the main body of the camera, further down the assembly line.  

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Dials! Thousands of dials! Here, trays and trays of X-T1 ISO dials sit waiting to be introduced to their host cameras. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

A well as the X-Pro2 and X-T1, the Sendai plant is also home to the X100T assembly line. We wanted to take this lonely-looking X100T home with us, but apparently that's not allowed.

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

That's OK - we like the black ones more anyway. Here, a number of almost-finished X100T bodies sit in trays waiting for their rear control plate and LCD screens to be added. 

Sendai was badly hit by the earthquake of 2011, and some of the buildings at Fujifilm's Taiwa plant had to be abandoned due to structural damage. One of those buildings housed the original assembly line for the X100, and after the earthquake, assembly was moved across the street and into the building that we visited.  

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

And here's where they all end up - X-Pro2s, X-T1s, X100Ts and lenses. These large boxes contain finished products, ready to be shipped to retailers and distributors worldwide. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Well, almost ready. Even once they're placed in their retail packaging and stacked in the larger shipping boxes, one in 10 of all the cameras and lenses assembled in the factory are removed, unboxed, and checked by hand to ensure that any given batch is free from manufacturing defects. 'Made in Japan' really does mean something, even today. 

Behind the Scenes of Fujifilm's Factory in Sendai, Japan

Happy 5th anniversary, Fujifilm X-series!

Categories: Photo Gear News

Photo Mate R3 brings improved Raw editing on Android

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:16

Photo Mate, arguably the most comprehensive Raw image editing app for Android, has received a substantial update. Version R3 comes with an all-new rendering engine for both Raw & JPEG editing. This includes improvements to all the important adjustments, such as contrast, shadows, highlights and exposure. Read more

Categories: Photo Gear News

Nikon apologizes for awarding prize to digitally altered photo

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:01

Last week, Nikon Singapore chose an image submitted by photographer Chay Yu Wei as the winner of a 'casual photo contest.' Critics quickly pointed out that the airplane featured in the image had been digitally inserted, given away by the highly visible white square around the plane's silhouette. Nikon and Yu Wei have both issued apologies over the submission, with Nikon saying it will bolster its image reviewing process 'to avoid similar situations in the future.'

Nikon, which has since deleted the original Facebook post awarding the photograph, posted a status update on Saturday that reads:

We have heard your comments and feedback on this, and you are right – we should not compromise standards even for a casual photo contest. We have dialogued internally, with the community and with our loyal fans, and Yu Wei has also posted his own views on this issue. We have made an honest mistake and the rousing response from the community today is a reminder to us that the true spirit of photography is very much alive. Moving forward, we will tighten our image review process to avoid similar situations in the future. Thank you once again for all your responses today – for your humour and most of all, your candour and honesty. We hope not to disappoint you in the future and to continue to have your support.

Most sincerely, your Nikon team

Yu Wei posted his own lengthy apology on his Instagram account, saying in part:

Like one user commented, I was on a photo walk in Chinatown and I chanced upon that set of ladders. I snapped a picture of it, and subsequently felt that a plane at that spot would make for an interesting point of view. Hence, I inserted the plane with PicsArt and uploaded it to Instagram. That's how I use Instagram, sometime it's to showcase the work I'm proud of, sometimes just to have fun. This case, that small plane was just for fun and it was not meant to bluff anyone. I would have done it with photoshop if I really meant to lie about it, but no, it was a playful edit using the PicsArt app and uploaded to Instagram. When my friends commented with some questions, I also answered it jokingly, saying it's the last flight of the day and saying it was my lucky day that I did not wait too long. At that time, of course everyone who read it took it as a joke, before this issue arrived and it is taken seriously.

However, I made a mistake by not keeping it to Instagram as a casual social media platform. I crossed the line by submitting the photo for a competition. I meant it as a joke and I'm really sorry to Nikon for disrespecting the competition. It is a mistake and I shouldn't have done that. I also shouldn't have jokingly answered Nikon that I caught the plane in mid-air and should have just clarified that the plane was edited in using PicsArt. This is my fault and I sincerely apologise to Nikon, to all Nikon Photographers, and to the photography community as general.

While Nikon's apology seems genuine, we can't help wondering how such an obviously altered image slipped through. We're also not quite convinced by Wei's apology, and DigitalRev points out that the concept for the image may not even be his either. What's your take on the controversy? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Olympus PEN-F Reality Check

The Online Photographer - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 08:43
Guest post written by Gordon Lewis When I discovered a few days ago that Olympus was introducing a digital version of its landmark PEN-F camera, I admit I was excited. It has the look of the mechanical cameras that photographers... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Design, looks and desire: Olympus does it again

DPReview News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 07:45

You really can't tell whether a camera is any good just by looking at it. Some people do indeed think that they can, but they will be people who admit quite openly that they know nothing about cameras. To those unfamiliar with the market, and the reasons we need different body shapes, some cameras will simply look more 'professional' than others. And bigger cameras will inevitably be considered much more serious than those whose designers have gone to great lengths to make compact.

Colorful cameras are obviously less credible than ones that have silver bits on them, and infinitely less credible again than ones that come cloaked entirely in matte black. Chrome and silver can make some believe the subject of their gaze is antique, and those that have no fancy knobs or shiny bits may be considered simply old-fashioned. 

Our use of Leica rangefinders when I worked as a cruise ship photographer prompted more than one jolly passenger to remark that there seemed to be no relationship between the extortionate prices the company charged for pictures and the state of the old-fashioned equipment we were forced to use. The passengers believed that our featureless, sparkle-less, prism-less, block-shaped cameras, that we had to focus ourselves, were relics of a former era. That indeed we were using M4s in 1991 instead of the M6s of the day is neither here nor there, as they essentially both look as ancient as each other. When we explained that these cameras cost of lot of money the response was generally that perhaps we should take our mother shopping with us to avoid being ripped-off. 

It's expected that the uninitiated will make quick decisions about a camera just by the way it looks, and in many cases to base a buying decision on its visual credentials. Serious enthusiasts and professional photographers would never do that of course. That’s why all camera brands design their cameras to look plain and unexciting. 

I'm just looking, dear

As much as the more sensible of us declare that all their camera equipment purchases are grounded in logic, there are very few of us that cannot be influenced by the way a camera looks. That doesn’t mean we have to buy the best looking model, but I think that most of us will at least admire the style of the new Olympus PEN-F.

Those milled dials on the top plate and the neat flared appendage on the port-side forward facing are undeniably attractive. They may even create a twitching credit card in the pockets of those who had no prior idea they were in the market for a new camera. The clunky metallic dials may not represent the practicality of some other ways of working, but they certainly make for a more appetizing visual than a collection of black finger wheels ever could.

Olympus’ repurposing of the film rewind post, with its gnarled head, to become the on/off switch, is a clever piece of work that lends the whole design a convincing impression of both heritage and originality, rather than looking like just another retro reproduction. 

Creative license

It is ironic perhaps that the design of 2016’s PEN-F has very little in common with the original model. That it has a lens and is available with a chrome or black top are about the only similarities. In my opinion, the PEN-F of 1963 was actually less than absolutely gorgeous unless decorated with ‘Hollywood’ lighting, used in a classy portrait or featured in a period drama.

'the new PEN-F is left looking more like the love-child of the Leica lll than it does anything from the Olympus archive of the early 1960s'

The rather-too-long top plate of the original makes the lens appear off-balanced compared to the central mount and active top plate of the 2016 model. The original also had no dials on the top plate and the action required to rewind a film was achieved with a crank handle rather than a gnarl-headed post. Olympus generally didn’t use big top-plate shutter speed dials until the OM series of 35mm SLRs, and it ran out of the gnarl-headed rewind posts after cameras like the 1948 35 1 – the first 35mm camera to be sold in Japan. 

So in the new PEN-F what we are looking at is some historical fiction rather than a recreation. But that’s OK, history often looks much better with a heavy dose of make-believe – just ask Asterix and Obelix

While the link between the new and old PEN-F models might not be as strong as it is between the original Leica MP and the ‘modern’ MP, I don’t think anyone is going to lose any sleep over it. The point is that the new model is very good looking, and good looking gets attention from photographers and ultimately helps to sell cameras. 

Looks versus logic The Fujifilm X100 - massively popular even before it had been tested, and fortunately just as popular afterwards!

Fujifilm might have a fantastic X-Trans sensor in its X-series cameras, but I expect a good many of those X-T1 and X-Pro1 bodies sold because they look so cool. I know there were enormous back orders for the X100 even before it had been tested by anyone, which demonstrates that plenty of people were prepared to put their money down even before they knew if the camera was any good.

The strength of the X series design has even outweighed the widely acknowledged sluggish AF performance of some of the models, and we hear proud owners making excuses as though for a fondly looked on three-legged dog. ‘Yeah, I know the AF isn’t that great, but it’s such a beautiful camera. I love using it.’ Like the Sirens of Greek mythology, the intoxicating curves of a well-toned camera body can prove a powerful draw to a normally logical person. 

I suppose a company’s heritage can reduce the risk of a good looking camera performing badly when you buy before you try, and it’s reasonable enough to expect that the PEN-F will operate as well as the OM-D bodies and the top-tier of the current PENs (and our initial impressions have been positive). More importantly perhaps there is no reason for us to think that it will NOT perform at least just as well. 

A wolf in wolf’s clothing

It will be interesting to see how sales of the PEN-F compare with those of Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GX8. It is after all very similar in terms of key specification – probably the same sensor, enhanced touch functions including touch-pad AF, the same viewfinder position (minus the articulation) and the same lens range to choose from. In fact, the bodies are so astonishingly similar that the PEN-F looks more like a stylish adaptation, or a flattering imitator, than a competitor – but to my eye at least the PEN, with its contours, layers and more rounded feel takes the beauty pageant rosette. The designers have done a great job. 

A camera has to perform, of course, and it won’t sell well otherwise, but an eye-catching design that appeals to the right audience is an important differentiator and often what gets the product noticed, mentioned in the press, remembered by the public and purchased in a crowded market. 

With all things being mostly equal – except that Olympus has more heritage in the camera market, and Panasonic has 4K and a head-start – I suspect that it will be on looks that most people make the choice at the camera counter between the GX8 and PEN-F.

Not for the first time The O-Product, from 1988

Olympus has had quite a history of designing original and cool-looking cameras, and I suspect its success over the years has been as much down to the person wielding the drafting pencils as it has the people with the spanners and screw-drivers. Outstanding creations from the archive include the O-Product, the Ecru, the delightful XA and the Mju and Mju-mini digital cameras. My teenage son bought a Trip 35 from an online store that restores and re-covers them, and he thinks it is one of the coolest cameras ever made – to the best of his knowledge, of course. The model he has was likely created 20 years before he was – a better example of enduring design would be hard to find. 

The Olympus Trip 35 was in production for twenty years, and sold 10 million units from its introduction in 1968 The XA series was popular for its looks and bolt-on flash unit as well as for its sophisticated controls. Launched in 1979 the XA4 was the last model, going on sale from 1985

Is it OK to buy and love a camera because of the way it looks? Yes and no. If you buy only because of the way it looks you are about to risk your money, but if style and grace sway you from one good product to another that’s probably alright. I guess it is a question of why we take pictures and why we are into photography. Some people like their cameras more than they like taking pictures or looking at the pictures they take, while for some the end result is the be-all and end-all of the process and anything beyond pure functionality is extraneous.

Most people can find a balance between the two – we buy the best we can, and can give ourselves permission to enjoy the way our equipment looks. Photographers are supposed to be creative people, and creative people like looking at and using nice things. We can choose to remember that there are many reasons for getting into photography and many for continuing to take pictures, but for most of us it is supposed to be enjoyable. We don’t all have to be seduced, but we can allow ourselves to admire some beautiful design, whether for you that’s the PEN-F or a Canon Rebel. Either way, Olympus is certainly going to cause a stir with this new design, just as it has done so many times before. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Open Mike: Valentine's Day (and Some Hard Math)

The Online Photographer - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 09:11
A cheerful plug—this is not objective or disinterested, because I love this book (I own a print from it), and Peter is a good friend, and Peter paid me generously to help publicize the book when it first came out.... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

DPReview News - Sun, 01/31/2016 - 05:00
Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Sunrise over Bagan, 2012. Photo by Christopher Michel

It's telling that DPR regular Christopher Michel corresponded with me about this piece while he was en route to Antarctica. He considers freelance photography his third career, one that has taken him to the proverbial ends of the earth and beyond. From a U-2 spy plane to the North Pole, he's searched all over for stories and images that inspire. See some of his work here and find out more about him in our Q&A.

You can see more of Michel's work on his website and follow along with his adventures on Twitter. Would you like to be featured in an upcoming Readers' Showcase? Let us know! Be sure to include your DPR user name and a link to your online portfolio.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica, 2013. Photo by Christopher Michel

Tell us about yourself and your history with photography.

I’m on my third career. After college, I flew for the Navy as a Navigator and Mission Commander aboard P-3 Orion Sub-Hunting Aircraft. After a tour in the Pentagon, I went off to grad school and became an entrepreneur. And for the past 8 years, I’ve been a freelance photographer and writer.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Moscow subway, 2014. Photo by Christopher Michel

When did you know you wanted to pursue photography as a career?

In 2008, I took stock of my life and decided that my real passion was telling stories through images and writing. I’d been taking photographs since 1998 and with each click of the shutter, my passion grew. Today, I better understand why I love photography so much. It isn’t about magnesium bodies or polished glass – nor even about great images. It’s all about where my camera takes me – and it has taken me to places I couldn’t have even imagined. Some of those places are physical but many more are emotional – conversations, friendships, and adventure that just wouldn’t have been possible without my camera and a deep commitment to story.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Spacesuit Selfie aboard a U-2 Spyplane at 70,000 feet, 2012. Photo by Christopher Michel

You’ve been to some pretty remote locations. Where have you traveled to photograph, and what have been some of your favorite locations?  

Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a chance to photograph some of Earth’s most extreme locations – from the jungles of Papua New Guinea, to both Poles, and to the edge of space aboard a U-2 spy plane. Antarctica is my favorite place on Earth – I’m actually writing this from Ushuaia, poised to embark on my 5th journey to the Crystal Desert.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Morning Kora in Lhasa, Tibet, 2010Photo by Christopher Michel

What’s been the toughest assignment you’ve taken?

Fortunately, my toughest assignment was also one of my favorites. I was asked to be HH The Dalai Lama’s photographer during a three-day visit to the United States a few years back. It was an incredible opportunity to spend time with someone who has influenced the lives of millions – and he didn’t disappoint. He’s one of the kindest, nicest, and most caring humans I’ve ever met… calm, spiritual, compassionate, and full of love and humor. Everything you might imagine.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

The Edge of Space in a U-2 Spy Plane, 2010. Photo by Christopher Michel

(cont.) So, why tough? Well, juxtapose this serene man against a backdrop of super celebrity and hyper-security. Imagine thousands of followers and fans everywhere we went – from street corners to massive venues. Imagine celebrities, motorcades and lots of armed State Department Security people. And then there is me – often finding myself between HH and all the people who want to be close to him. So, it was an almost overwhelming contrast between serenity and pandemonium. Unlike many other shoots, I had access but very little control over where I was or where we went. I tried as hard as I could to both capture the moment and blend in – I succeeded most of the time but not always. 

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

An emperor penguin jumping out of the water, 2013. Photo by Christopher Michel

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been?  

High level – everywhere. The more I visit a place, the more I feel that I’ve just scratched the surface. But someplace completely new? Well, I’d like to do a piece on the Ocean’s explorers – telling the story of the scientists and submariners who research Earth’s last great frontier. So if any explorers out there want a photographer to come along, I’m game.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

A DC-3 in Gould Bay, Antarctica, 2013. Photo by Christopher Michel

What do you shoot with?

I use different cameras for different purposes.  

Walking around:

  • The Leica Q and/or Leica M240 (50MM Noctilux and 35MM f/1.4) 
  • General assignments (Congo, etc)
  • Carrying both Leica Q & Sony A7RII (w/ Sony FE 24-240mm). 

If I’m in more extreme locations, I use the Nikon D4 (foul weather) & D810. I’ve also been shooting the Mamiya 7II – captured some really unique shots with it at the North Pole.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Sunrise at Torres Del Paine National Park, 2013. Photo by Christopher Michel

Do you take on personal projects in addition to assignments? Do you have any you plan to work on in the near future?

Yes. I mostly freelance so have an opportunity to pick stories of interest and then pitch them! I’m just back from a very interesting assignment in the Democratic Republic of Congo for IDEO.org and the American Refugee Committee. Coming up: Antarctica, Indonesia, and Svalbard.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

North Pole, 2015. Photo by Christopher Michel

What role has social media played in developing your ‘brand’ and business as a photographer?

Hard to say. I get lots of licensing requests from my work on Flickr. I have 1.8M followers on G+ - not sure it has made much of a difference. So, I think it is helping but it’s hard to quantify.

Readers' Showcase: Christopher Michel

Democratic Republic of Congo, 2016. Photo by Christopher Michel

What advice would you give an aspiring photojournalist?

Well, I can say what’s worked for me. Tenacity & Love. Tenacity to get the assignment, shot and story. And love for the process and for the people I encounter along the way. I feel like I’m learning every day from the pros in the field.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Better together: A photographer's trip to Southeast Asia with a limbless man

DPReview News - Sat, 01/30/2016 - 05:00
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'If I Can...' is the motto Chris Koch lives by. Born without arms and legs, the Canadian travels as a motivational speaker, challenging his audiences to live their lives to their greatest potential and push beyond difficulties. Portrait and wedding photographer Anna Tenne happened to meet Chris before he gave a presentation in her town of Coonabarabran, Australia. When Chris mentioned to her it was a lifelong goal to visit Southeast Asia, a spark ignited and eventually inspired the two fast friends to pack their bags and head for Thailand.

Tenne's aim was to help Chris spread his message while she photographed the journey. But what she didn't expect, as she tells Resource Travel, was how much the trip would teach and inspire her. Chris' contagious smile is evident in her photos, and the positive impact he has on the people he meets is plain to see. Take a look at some of her photos here and head to Resource Travel to read the full story.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Sony camera and sensor business units report drop in sales in 2015

DPReview News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 19:07

Sony Corp. released its third quarter 2015 earnings report [PDF], in which the company disclosed notable drops in both camera and image sensor sales. It has also lowered the forecast for both business units, though both are still expected to make a profit in the current fiscal year.

Note the drop in camera sales but increase in operating income due to the shift to higher-end models.

Sales in the Imaging Products unit dropped by 5%, due to decreases in unit sales of digital still and video cameras, reflecting 'a contraction of the market, partially offset by an improvement in the product mix of digital cameras reflecting a shift to high value-added models.' In other words, they're selling fewer cheap compacts and more RX and a7-series cameras. Operating income went up by over 20%, however, due the aforementioned shift to higher-end digital cameras.

Image sensor and battery sales are way down in Q3 2015 vs Q3 2014, and the forecast for FY2015 has been lowered considerably.

The image sensor business took an even bigger hit. Sales in the Devices unit decreased by over 12% year-on-year due primary to a drop in sales of image sensors as well as batteries. Operating income dropped ¥65.5bn ($540m) to –¥11.7bn ($97m), due in large part to a write-down in assets related to batteries. While not specific to digital cameras, the company's statement mentioned a 7.5% drop in sales to external partners.

Sales in Q1 and Q2 2015 were down more than 500k units each year-on-year and the company's forecast shows the gap widening in Q3 2015.

Sony also revised its October forecasts downward for both business units. The Imaging unit's estimated sales has been reduced by 1.4% and now stands at ¥710bn (compared to ¥724bn in FY2014), while the forecast for the Devices business has been brought down by 11.3% to ¥940bn (compared to ¥927bn in FY2014). Both units are still expected to make a operating profit in FY2015, however.

On other item of note from the company's earnings call mentions the Oita manufacturing facility it recently bought from Toshiba. Sony says that they are considering using a portion of the factory for producing 'logic' (processors) rather than photodiodes (sensors) in order to reduce the cost of its sensors. While the company is considering this change to 'mitigate the downsized rate in [the sensor] business', it is 'confident in the long-term prospects of image sensors.'

Categories: Photo Gear News

Manfrotto introduces carbon fiber version of its 190Go travel tripod

DPReview News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 14:59
The new carbon fiber version of the Manfrotto 190Go, with the existing aluminium version behind it

Manfrotto has launched a new lighter version of its 190Go travel tripod that is made with carbon fiber. The new model joins the aluminum version of the existing 190Go, and is essentially the same other than the amount it weighs – and costs. While the aluminum version weighs 1670g / 58.9oz, the new carbon fiber model is notably lighter at 1350g / 47.61oz. Both can manage 7kg / 15.43lbs of equipment and have a maximum shooting height of 147cm / 57.87in.

The 190Go Carbon fiber will be available legs-only or in a kit with the 496RC2 ball and socket head or the new 804 Mark ll 3-way pan-and-tilt head. UK prices are as follows (US pricing is yet to be announced): 

  • 190Go! Carbon fiber 4-section - £309.95
  • 190Go! Aluminium 4-section (for reference) - £159.95/$199.99
  • 190Go! Aluminium kits with 3 way head or ball head - £214.95
  • 190Go! Carbon fiber kits with 3 way head or ball head - £359.95

For more information visit the Manfrotto website

Categories: Photo Gear News

YoCam is world's smallest waterproof 'life' camera

DPReview News - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 11:41

A new pocket-sized camera called YoCam, claiming to be the world's smallest waterproof wearable camera, has been successfully funded through crowdfunding site Indiegogo. Available for pre-order now, Molify’s YoCam features a versatile design suitable for a variety of situations, including underwater recording.

YoCam is indeed small at 85 x 30 x 21mm / 3.3 x 1.2 x 0.8in and 55g / 1.9oz, and is compatible with mounts like clips and lanyards as well as being waterproof to a max depth of 6m / 20ft. The camera has a maximum video resolution of 2.7K / 30fps with an F2.0 aperture, 140-degree wide-angle lens. Features include P2P remote connections for live video feed monitoring, image and video stabilization, HDR, a life-logging mode for continuous capture and a looping video option.

Molify also has a line of accessories for YoCam, including a Bluetooth remote control, an adapter compatible with 'almost every action camera accessory on the market,' a 3-in-1 magnetic stand, clip and clamp mount, 'AnyBar' bar mount, a suction cup mount, wrist strap, dog harness mount and lanyard.

Pre-orders can be placed on the YoCam Indiegogo page for $169, while the retail price is $199. Shipping to backers and those who pre-order is estimated to start this April.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Can't Think of One

The Online Photographer - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 06:51
A number of years ago, the art photographer John Gossage had an interesting insight: that there existed not a single body of work in all of art photography taken with a super-telephoto lens. There and Gone, consisting of photographs of... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Nikon Japan announces price increases of up to 18% for lenses and flash units

DPReview News - Thu, 01/28/2016 - 14:36

Nikon has released details of price increases it will implement in the Japanese market from the beginning of March this year. The changes will affect a total of 73 of its DX and FX lenses, as well as three teleconverters. In addition, 21 lenses for the Nikon 1 system will be included, the FT1 mount adapter and six Speedlite flash units along with the systems associated wireless remotes. Newer lenses, such as the recently announced AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6G/VR, the 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR, the 24-70mm F2.8E ED VR and the 24mm F1.8G ED are not included in the list. 

The degree of increase varies across the board, but some products, such as the SB-300 flashgun, will face a price hike of close to 18%. Others though will be increased by less than 5%. 

The company cites pressures from increasing costs of raw materials for the price rises, and claims that it has done all it can to absorb the additional costs itself.

As the information was intended only for the Japanese market there is no mention of the rises coming into force in other regions. We'll update this story with more details as and when we receive them.  

For more information see the notice posted on the Nikon Japan website

Categories: Photo Gear News
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