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Lytro poised to forever change filmmaking: debuts Cinema prototype and short film at NAB

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 13:13
Lytro debuted its Cinema prototype to an eager crowd at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. It sports the highest resolution video sensor ever made.

Lytro greeted a packed showroom at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada to demo its prototype Lytro Cinema camera and platform, as well as debut footage shot on the system. To say we're impressed from what we saw would be an understatement: Lytro may be poised to change the face of cinema forever.

The short film 'Life', containing footage shot both on Lytro Cinema as well as an Arri Alexa, demonstrated some of the exciting applications of light field in video. Directed by Academy Award winner Robert Stromberg and shot by VRC Chief Imaging Scientist David Stump, 'Life' showcased the ability of light field to obviate green screens, allowing for extraction of backgrounds or other scene elements based off of depth information, and seamless integration of CGI elements into scenes. Lytro calls it 'depth screening', and the effect looked realistic to us.

'Life' showcased the ability of Lytro Cinema to essentially kill off the green screen

Just as exciting was the demonstration of a movable virtual camera in post: since the light field contains multiple perspectives, a movie-maker can add in camera movement at the editing stage, despite using a static camera to shoot. And we're not talking about a simple pan left/right, up/down, or a simple Ken Burns effect... we're talking about actual perspective shifts. Up, down, left, right, back and forth, even short dolly movements - all simulated by moving a virtual camera in post, not by actually having to move the camera on set. To see the effect, have a look at our interview with Ariel Braunstein of Lytro, where he presents a camera fly-through from a single Lytro Illum shot (3:39 - 4:05):

The Lytro Cinema is capable of capturing these multiple perspectives because of 'sub-aperture imaging'. Head of Light Field Video Jon Karafin explains that in front of the sensor sits a microlens array consisting of millions of small lenses similar to what traditional cameras have. The difference, though, is that there is a 6x6 pixel array underneath each microlens, meaning that the image made up of only pixels on the sensor at any position (X,Y) underneath a microlens represents the scene as seen through one portion, or 'sub-aperture' of the lens. There will be 36 of these 'sub-aperture' images though, each providing one of 36 different perspectives, which then allows for computational reconstruction of the image with all the benefits of light field.

The 36 different perspectives affords you some freedom of movement in moving a virtual camera in post, but it is of course limited, affected by considerations like lens, focal length, and subject distance. It's not clear yet what that range of freedom is with the Cinema, but what we saw in the short film was impressive, something cinematographers will undoubtedly welcome in place of setting up motion rigs for small camera movements. Even from a consumer perspective, consider what auto-curation of user-generated content could do with tools like these. Think Animoto on steroids.

Front of the Lytro Cinema, on display at NAB 2016. There are two optical paths, one for the actual light field capture, and the other for previewing the live view and dialing in creative decisions like exposure, focus and depth-of-field at the time of capture. With light field, though, those decisions are reversible.

We've focused on depth screening and perspective shift, but let's not forget all the other benefits light field brings. The multiple perspectives captured mean you can generate 3D images or video from every shot at any desired parallax disparity (3D filmmakers often have to choose their disparity on-set, only able to optimize for one set of viewing conditions). You can focus your image after the fact, which saves critical focus and focus approach (its cadence) for post.* Selective depth-of-field is also available in post: you can choose whether you want shallow, or extended, depth-of-field, or even transition from selective to extensive depth-of-field in your timeline. You can even isolate shallow or extended depth-of-field to different objects in the scene using focus spread: say F5.6 for a face to get it all in focus, but F0.3 for the rest of the scene.

Speaking of F0.3 (yes, you read that right), light field allows you to simulate faster (and smaller) apertures previous thought impossible in post, which in turn places fewer demands on lens design. That's what allowed the Illum camera to house a 30-250mm equiv. F2.0 constant aperture lens in relatively small and lightweight body. You could open that aperture up to F1.0 in post, and at the demo of Cinema at NAB, Lytro impressed its audience with - we kid you not - F0.3 depth-of-field footage. A Lytro representative claimed even faster apertures can be simulated.

The sensor housing appears to be over a foot wide. That huge light field sensor gets you unreal f-stops down to F0.3 or faster

But all this doesn't come without a cost: the Lytro Cinema appears massive, and rightfully so. A 6x6 pixel array underneath each microlens means there are 36 pixels for every 1 pixel on a traditional camera; so to maintain spatial resolution, you need to grow your sensor, and your total number of pixels. Which is exactly what Lytro did - the sensor housing appeared to our eyes to be over a foot in width, sporting a whopping 755 million total pixels. That should mean that at worst, you'd get 755/36, or roughly 21MP final video output. Final output resolution was a concern with previous Lytro cameras: the Illum yielded roughly 5MP equivalent (sometimes worse) stills from a 40MP sensor. However, as we understand it, the theoretical lowest resolution of 21MP with the Cinema sensor means that output resolution shouldn't be a concern for 4K, or even higher-res, video.**

The Lytro Cinema is massive. The sensor is housed in the black box behind the orange strut, which appears to be at least a foot wide. It's thermally cooled, and comes with its own traveling server to deal with the 300GB/s data rates. Processing takes place in the cloud where Google spools up thousands of CPUs to compute each thing you do, while you work with real-time proxies.

The optics appear as massive as the resolution, but that's partly because there are two optical paths: one for the 755MP light field capture, and the other to give the cinematographer a live preview for framing, focus, and exposure. The insane data rates for the light field capture, on the order of terabytes for every few seconds, means that Lytro Cinema comes with its own server on-set. The sensor is also actively cooled. The total unit lives on rails on wheels, so forget hand-held footage - for now. Bear in mind though, the original technicolor cinematic camera invented back in 1932 appeared similarly gargantuan, and Lytro specifically mentioned that different versions of Cinema are planned, some smaller in size.

Processing all that data isn't easy - in fact, no mortal laptop or desktop need apply. Lytro is partnering with Google to send footage to the cloud, where thousands of CPUs crunch the data and provide you real-time proxies for editing. Lytro stated the importance of integration with existing workflows, and to that end is building plug-ins to allow for light field video editing within existing editors - starting with Nuke. But Lytro is going a step further: they suggest the light field is the ultimate mastering format, and they're capable of converting all content - from footage to visual effects - into a 4D light field so you can, at any time, go back and re-render your film for any display device. This will be particularly important with the advent of holographic and other innovative light field displays

Thousands of CPUs on Google's servers crunch the data and provide you real-time proxies for editing

The 4K footage from the Lytro Cinema that was mixed with Arri Alexa footage to create the short 'Life', viewed from our seating position, appeared comparable to what one might expect from professional cinema capture. CEO Jason Rosenthal commented that the short film was shot on both cameras to speak to how interchangeable footage can be with other cameras. Importantly, the footage appeared virtually noise free - which one might expect of such a large sensor area. Furthermore, Jon Karafin pointed out there are 'hundreds of input samples for every one output sample', which means a significant amount of noise averaging occurs, yielding a clean image, and a claimed 16 stops of dynamic range. In fact, in 'Life', noise had to be added back in to get the Lytro footage to match the Alexa.

That's incredibly impressive, given all the advantages light field brings. This may be the start of something incredibly transformative for the industry. After all, who wouldn't want the option for F0.3 depth-of-field with perfect focus in post, adjustable shutter angle and frame rate, compellingly real 3D imagery when paired with a light field display, and more? With increased capabilities for handling large data bandwidths, larger sensors, and more pixels, we think some form of light field will exist perhaps in most cameras of the future. Particularly when it comes to virtual reality capture, which Lytro also intends to disrupt with Immerge.

It's admirable just how far Lytro has come in such a short while, and we can't wait to see what's next. For more information, visit Lytro Cinema.

* If it's anything like the Illum, though, some level of focusing will still be required on set, as there are optimal planes of refocus-ability.

** We're not certain of the actual trade-off for the current Lytro Cinema. It's correlated to the number of pixels underneath each microlens, and effective resolution can vary at different focal planes, or change based on where focus was placed. This may be one reason for the overkill resolution - to ensure that at worst, capture is high resolution enough to meet high demands.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Nikon announces delays for DL-series and other compacts

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 11:31

Nikon has announced delays of some recently announced compacts, including the DL-series compacts, the Coolpix A300/A900, B500/B700 and the KeyMission 360. In a statement issued today, Nikon also indicates that its part suppliers in the Kumamoto Prefecture affected by recent earthquakes are experiencing delays which will have an inevitable impact on production across much of its product range, but it's unclear to what degree the revised shipping dates are related. Sony appears to be one of those affected suppliers, as its sensor production is currently shut down, and a Fujifilm subsidiary that produces LCD components may also have a trickle-down effect. 

The Nikon DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL24-500 1"-sensor compacts were originally scheduled for a June release, and a new shipping date has yet to be determined. Nikon cites 'serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing' as the cause for the delay.

According to Nikon, the Coolpix A300 and B500 will be delayed until May 2016, and the Coolpix A900 and B700 are pushed back until July 2016. All four were originally scheduled for an April release. The news is worse for the KeyMission 360 action cam. Originally expected this spring, it won't ship until October 2016.

Press release:

Update on digital camera release

April 20, 2016 TOKYO - Nikon Corporation announced today delays in the release of new digital cameras and the effects of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.

Delays in the release of new digital cameras

The new Nikon compact digital cameras, COOLPIX A300 and B500 will be available in May 2016, the COOLPIX A900 and B700 will arrive in July 2016 and the Nikon KeyMission 360 action camera will be available in October 2016 as more time is required for software adjustment.

The new COOLPIX products were originally scheduled for release in April and the KeyMission 360 action camera was announced for a spring 2016 release.

In addition, the premium compact cameras, Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8, DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8, and DL24-500 f/2.8-5.6, will be delayed due to the serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing built into the three new premium compact cameras, originally scheduled for a June 2016 release.

The new release date has yet to be determined and we will announce the information as soon as it is decided.

The effects of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes

The suppliers of parts for Nikon products such as digital cameras with interchangeable lenses, interchangeable lenses, and compact digital cameras, which include those mentioned above, were affected by the series of earthquakes that started on April 14 in Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan, and this will inevitably impact our production and sales.

We are currently investigating the situation, and we will announce the details as soon as they are confirmed.

We sincerely apologize to our customers, business partners and all those who have expressed interest in these models for the delays. We are making every effort to bring these models to market at the earliest possible date without compromising on our standards and the total Nikon product experience.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Kumamoto earthquake keeps Sony sensor factory shuttered

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 10:17

The major earthquakes that struck Japan on April 14th and 15th have closed Sony's Kumamoto factory, which primarily manufactures sensors for digital cameras. Due to ongoing aftershocks and inspections of the buildings and manufacturing equipment, it's not clear when the Kumamoto factory will be back in business.

The company's factories in Isahaya City and Oita City were shuttered briefly, but have since resumed normal operations. Sony says that the impact on its financials is 'currently being evaluated.'

Nikon says that it too may see production delays as a result of suppliers affected by the earthquakes (Sony is a known supplier of Nikon's sensors).  

Press Releases:

Status of Sony Group Manufacturing Operations Affected by 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes

(Tokyo, April 18, 2016) Sony Corporation ("Sony") extends its deepest sympathies to all those affected by the earthquakes in Kumamoto.

Due to the earthquake of April 14 and subsequent earthquakes in the Kumamoto region, the following Sony Group manufacturing sites have been affected:

Operations at Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation's Kumamoto Technology Center (located in Kikuchi Gun, Kumamoto Prefecture), which primarily manufactures image sensors for digital cameras and security cameras as well as micro-display devices, were halted after the earthquake on April 14, and currently remain suspended. Damage to the site's building and manufacturing lines is currently being evaluated, and with aftershocks continuing, the timeframe for resuming operations has yet to be determined.

Although some of the manufacturing equipment at Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation's Nagasaki Technology Center (located in Isahaya City, Nagasaki Prefecture), which is Sony's main facility for smartphone image sensor production, and Oita Technology Center (located in Oita City, Oita Prefecture), which commenced operations as a wholly-owned facility of Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation on April 1, had been temporarily halted, the affected equipment has been sequentially restarted from April 17, and production has resumed. Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation's Kagoshima Technology Center (located in Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture) has continued its production operations after the earthquakes, and there have been no major effects on its operations.

Sony has confirmed the safety of all of its and its group companies' employees in the region affected by the earthquakes.

The impact of these events on Sony's consolidated results is currently being evaluated.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Huawei clarifies Leica involvement in P9 camera design

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 09:51

Huawei has released a statement clarifying Leica's involvement in creating its P9 and P9 Plus camera module. Read more

Categories: Photo Gear News

Getting Together With Ctein in London UK

The Online Photographer - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 06:44
From Roger Bradbury Recently TOP's friend Ctein wrote: "Paula and I will be in London the first two weeks of May, in case someone there wants to arrange a get-together while we're in town.” I'm arranging the get-together (I'm Roger... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Prime time: Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN | C full-production sample gallery

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 06:00

We had our first opportunity to shoot with the Sigma 30mm F1.4 Contemporary at CP+, spending some time with a pre-production lens taking in Japan's freshly snow-coated landscapes. With a full-production lens in hand and good weather in the air, we've put the Sigma 30mm through its paces a little closer to home. Designed for Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-mount cameras, the featherweight prime is at home on Sony's a6300 and a6000. Take a look at what this combo can do.

Quick Note on AF

On Sony E-mount cameras, this lens focuses stopped down at your shooting aperture (we're not certain if it's Sony camera bodies, or the lens, that dictates this behavior). This leads to increased chances of hunting as you stop down your shooting aperture: for example, if you're shooting at F5.6, you may notice the lens rack back and forth more than if were you shooting at F1.4, especially if you're in a continuous AF mode. Unfortunately, this behavior is becoming more commonplace as newer Sony cameras tend to be reluctant to open the iris for AF acquisition, but we've also noticed this 'stop-down focusing' to adversely affect some lenses more than others. This lens, along with Sony's own FE 50mm, in particular, can be problematic. Let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Miggo wants to 'DSLR your iPhone' with the Pictar grip

DPReview News - Wed, 04/20/2016 - 05:00
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Accessory manufacturer miggo has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new iPhone grip that it says brings DSLR-style controls to many current iPhone models. The Pictar grip uses conventional buttons, wheels and dials to deliver a traditional camera experience that makes the photo feature of the phone easier to navigate, and the company claims the app that complements the grip allows greater camera control than the standard iPhone interface.

While most devices that connect wirelessly with smartphones do so using potentially battery-draining Bluetooth, the Pictar grip communicates with an iPhone app using high frequency sound that humans can’t hear but which the phone's microphone can. It's definitely a unique approach, and it's not clear whether it will drive your dog crazy.

Turning the wheels and dials creates unique tones that instruct the app what it is the user wants to do. All of the controls can be customized to suit the user, but by default one of the top plate dials is set to deliver exposure compensation while the finger wheel on the front of the camera is used as a zoom or, when pressed, to switch from front to rear cameras – for selfies.

The Pictar grip is adjustable which allows it to work with a range of past, current (excluding the larger 6s Plus) and future models, and as there is no physical communications plug or socket the company says its device is not reliant on Apple maintaining its current form factor or connections.

The Pictar grip provides a cold shoe for microphones and lighting, as well as a tripod socket on its base. It is powered by a CR ½ AA battery which miggo says will last between six and eight months. The miggo Pictar will cost $90 and, if the campaign is successful, will come to market in December.

For more information see the miggo website, and the Pictar Kickstarter campaign page.

Press release:

miggo Transcends the Limitations of Mobile Photography with the Launch of Pictar

Inspired by classic camera design, Pictar unleashes the true photographic power of iPhones

New York – miggo, which first made its worldwide debut with the innovative Strap & Wrap and Grip & Wrap protective carrying solutions for digital cameras, today unveiled its most revolutionary offering yet - Pictar. High-tech and cutting edge, Pictar is an ergonomically advanced Camera-Grip for the iPhone that brings the familiar controls of a DSLR right to users’ fingertips.

Key features of Pictar include:
- Five user programmable wheels/buttons for full user control.
- Ergonomic grip for one handed use.
- Revolutionary communication between hardware and App via ultrasonic sounds.
- Compatibility with most iPhone models (4-6s and planned support for future models).
- Control over iPhone camera features not possible in the native App.

While the digital camera incorporated in each new generation of the iPhone has improved dramatically, what has stayed the same since its introduction is the way consumers hold the device and navigate its features and settings. With that in mind, when it comes to taking a photo, it’s not very ergonomic and simply does not compare to the traditional experience offered by that of a dedicated DSLR. Advanced shooters welcome a DSLR’s physical controls which put frequently used settings right at their fingertips - something Pictar was designed specifically to replicate. By bringing these physical controls to the iPhone, Pictar offers unprecedented control and gives users the ability to take their iPhone photography to a completely new level and transform the way they use it to take photos and video.

“As the adage goes, the best camera you have is the one you have with you,” said Guy Sprukt, co-founder of miggo. “It’s no secret that one of the most popular smartphones in the world is also one of the most widely used digital cameras.  The image quality of the phone can rival that of some of the best digital cameras on the market. With Pictar, we’re looking to give users – whether they be professionals or social shutterbugs -- the ability to DSLR their iPhone and completely unleash its full potential.”

The Pictar project is the result of over a year of extensive research and development focusing on alleviating the shortcomings as it relates to the ergonomics and control of the iPhone. miggo’s product design engineers devoted significant resources to developing a solution to address these shortcomings and help deliver an experience that’s more natural, more comfortable, and that delivers better results.

Key shortcomings addressed by Pictar include:
* Poor control - while touchscreens have proven to be the method of choice for many of today’s mobile devices, they simply aren’t fast enough when it comes to navigating menus or accessing camera controls. Because of this, users choose to simply press capture or record i.e. take the pictures on Auto and fail to truly experience what the iPhone could offer.

* Uncomfortable grip- sleek and slim, the iPhone simply does not offer users a comfortable or secure grip when using the device to capture photos or videos. Due to the way users are forced to hold the phone, it’s often easily dropped or results are often not sharp enough because of an unsteady hand, especially when operating with just one hand.

Pictar features five external controls which operate key settings and includes a patented, revolutionary interface which utilizes high-frequency dual tone sound to activate and control the camera, saving significant battery power compared to standard Bluetooth connectivity. In addition, the ergonomically designed grip allows for one handed operation and sharper images.

In addition, users will also benefit from the optional hand and neck straps, which offer peace of mind, saving Pictar and the user’s iPhone from damage in the event of accidental drops. Both straps feature quick release buckles which enable the user to effortlessly switch between both to suit their needs. Moreover, for safe storage, miggo also includes a stylish padded pouch. Manufactured from neoprene, the pouch will protect Pictar when not in use and can also be attached to a belt or bag for easy transport.

External controls and features include:
1. Multi-state shutter button - electronically calibrated to provide maximum sensitivity, just like that of a traditional DSLR. Pictar’s shutter button offers a "half press" mode to lock focus and exposure for easy tracking of a moving object or to create a desired composition, as well as full-press for immediate shutter release.

2. Zoom ring - located right under the index finger, the rotating zoom ring alleviates the need to touch the screen to pinch-and-zoom, making it easy for the user to zoom in and out with just one hand. The zoom ring can also be programmed and changed by user to suit specific needs.

3. Selfie button - clicking the zoom ring will switch between the iPhone's front and back camera for easy "selfie" shots.  Like the rotation of the zoom ring, the button can also be programmed and changed by user to suit specific needs and control other settings.

4. Exposure compensation wheel – located on the rear of Pictar, the exposure compensation wheel helps the user determine the exact level of exposure. Based on the user’s preference, the exposure compensation wheel - like Pictar’s selfie button and zoom ring - can also be programmed and changed from its default setting to control other features

5. Smart wheel – customizable, the smart wheel allows users – beginners and advanced - to control a variety of functions. In default mode it changes the camera's preset modes: sports, landscape, portrait and for the more advanced users, full manual, aperture priority and more. Advanced photographers can choose to program the smart wheel to control other functions, such as manual mode, shutter speed, iso, flash modes and white balance settings.

6. Tripod mount – for those photographers looking for added stability, for landscapes or for video recording, Pictar offers a ¼" standard tripod mount located on the bottom of the device.

7. Cold shoe - located on top of Pictar, the integrated cold shoe will allow users to mount a variety of LED lighting accessories or mics for added creativity and control.

A powerful, dedicated app featuring patented high-frequency dual tone sound control:
Pictar is designed to communicate with the iPhone via a dedicated camera app which unlocks key features inaccessible on the native app to iPhone users. Each of the physical controls found on Pictar drive a specific function or setting and does so using high-frequency dual tone sounds. Each physical control is assigned a specific tone, and with each turn of a dial, press of a button or turn of a wheel, Pictar omits a sound that – when detected by the app – generates a corresponding action. The high-frequency dual tone (18,500 – 20,000 khz) is inaudible to the human ear and significantly increases battery life when compared to Bluetooth connectivity. Using a standard CR ½ AA battery which is easily found worldwide, miggo estimates 6-8 months of use before the need to replace the power source is required.

The Kickstarter campaign is now live with an introductory price of $90 USD. Full retail availability is slated for December 2016.

miggo was founded 2013 by a group of designers with extensive experience in developing award-winning camera cases and bags, as well as a passion for bringing to market innovative concepts for carrying and supporting cameras. In just three years, miggo expanded its portfolio to include patented game-changing camera carriers, multi-functional camera and binocular straps and innovative compact tripods. These products are successfully marketed in over 30 countries around the world.

Today, with two highly-successful Kickstarter projects under the company’s belt - the 2014 “Strap & Wrap” campaign and the 2015 “agua” campaign – miggo returns to Kickstarter for the third time with its sights set on the trend of mobile photography. With Pictar, the company’s new state-of-the-art grip enclosure, miggo is giving consumers the ability to truly unleash the power of their iPhone camera and take their mobile photography to a completely new level. 

For more information please visit www.mymiggo.com or follow us on Facebook.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Clyde Butcher Book

The Online Photographer - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 17:21
This is time-sensitive so I thought I'd better alert you: pre-orders for Clyde Butcher's new book are 15% off and signed by Clyde. I know he has a lot of fans! Back to not working, Mike Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Nikon SnapBridge now available for Android, iOS to follow this summer

DPReview News - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 11:59

Nikon's SnapBridge app is now available for Android. First announced as a feature on the Nikon D500, SnapBridge allows photographers with a compatible Nikon digital camera to maintain a connection to a mobile device using Bluetooth low energy. Read more

Categories: Photo Gear News

TOP on Staycation

The Online Photographer - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 08:41
Longtime reader David Raboin passed by TOP Rural HQ the other day. Unfortunately he couldn't stop in to say hello—he's an airline pilot, and recognized Keuka Lake (on the right) from the cockpit. The larger, closer lake is Seneca. Okay,... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Tamron SP 90mm F2.8 DI Macro VC USD real-world sample gallery

DPReview News - Tue, 04/19/2016 - 04:00

Tamron's venerable 90mm F2.8 Macro is re-born. This iteration, announced in February of this year, offers stabilization, 1:1 magnification and focusing as close as 13.9cm/5.5in. And as far as full-frame primes go, it's on the less-expensive side at $650. Spring is definitely springing in Seattle, and an abundance of tulips (we're really not kidding, there are tons of them) provided a great starting point for our real-world Tamron 90mm F2.8 sample gallery. 

Categories: Photo Gear News

Huawei P9 Leica-branded dual-cam made by Sunny Optical

DPReview News - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 14:16

The Huawei P9's camera may bear Leica's name, but the innovative dual-cam module comes from Sunny Optical Technology of China. Read more

Categories: Photo Gear News

Phottix launches Cerberus adapter for using hotshoe flashes in Bowens and Elinchrom studio head modifiers

DPReview News - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 11:43

Flash manufacturer Phottix has launched a new adapter that is designed to allow hotshoe flash units to be used with standard studio accessories, such as softboxes, umbrellas and snoots. The Cerberus consists of a universal grip that holds the flash directly in the middle of an adapter ring that can be used to attach existing studio flash accessories in the Bowens S, Elinchrom and the Phottix Transfolder softbox range. The idea is that if users already have studio light modifiers they can use them with their hotshoe guns instead of having to buy accessories dedicated to smaller units.

The clamp used is the Phottix Griffin, which has a pair of spring-loaded jaws that close around the head of the flash unit, leaving the hotshoe free for remote triggers. The clamp is attached to a mounting bracket that can be fitted with the adapter ring to suit the mount of the modifiers you want to use. The unit is called Cerberus after the three-headed hound of Hades from Greek mythology because its interchangeable mount can accept modifiers in three different fittings.

The kit comes with a Phottix Varos Pro BG jointed Umbrella Adapter that is used to mount the whole kit on to a lighting stand or tripod. The Phottix Cerberus multi-mount kit, which includes the Bowens and Elinchrom rings, costs $92.50. For more information visit the Phottix website.

Manufacturer's dramatic product video:

Press release:

Meet the Phottix Cerberus Flash Mount

There’s a new mounting system in town – the Phottix Cerberus Multi Mount.

The Phottix Cerberus Multi Mount is your all-in-one mounting solution for hot shoe flashes. Use your hot shoe flashes with Bowens-compatible accessories, Elinchrom-compatible accessories, and the Phottix Transfolder Softbox range.

The Cerberus system comes with:

  • Phottix Griffin with Phottix Easy-Folder-Compatible Mount and Phottix Varos Pro BG *
  • Cerberus Elinchrom-Compatible Mount
  • Cerberus Bowens-Compatible Mount
  • Cerberus Phottix Transfolder-Compatible Mount

Like the mythical Cerberus, the Phottix Cerberus Multi Mount has three heads. The standard round mount works with the range of Phottix Transfolder Softboxes. Add the Bowen-compatible mount – and traditional S-Mount compatible accessories can be used with your hot shoe flash. Swap that out for the Elinchrom-compatible mount and use Elinchrom’s vast array of accessories with your hot shoe flash.

The durable and patented Phottix Griffin Universal Flash Mount holds many popular hot shoe flash models secure in a synthetic-lined spring-loaded clamp. The system was designed to be both durable and easy to use. A Phottix Varos Pro BG Umbrella Adapter is included to mount the Phottix Cerberus Multi Mount to a light stand or boom. The Phottiax Griffin is available on its own as well as being included with the Cerberus Multi Mount set.

Several configurations of the Phottix Cerberus are avaialble. Talk to you local Phottix dealer or buy from the Phottix Online Store.

* Note: The Phottix Griffin Mount with this set is affixed to the Phottix Cerberus Softbox Mount and cannot be removed. Varos Pro BG does not come with metal Coldshoe and male 3/8” and ¼ “ screw.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Lexar offers microSD dongle with an Apple Lightning connector

DPReview News - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 10:19

Lexar has launched a microSD-to-Apple Lightning reader for transferring files from a media card directly to an iPhone or iPad. The dongle works in conjunction with an iOS file management app, and is designed to make file transfers possible from other devices, whether a camera, drone, or another phone at fast speeds via a wired connection.

“Users no longer need to wait until they’re back in front of their main computer at home or in the office to upload content captured on-the-go,’ said Lexar product marketing manager Steffi Ho. According to the company, the card reader’s Lightning connector can fit in 'most iOS cases.'

The microSD reader is priced at $41.99; though it officially launched for purchase today, Lexar's website still lists it as 'coming soon.'

Press release:

New Lexar microSD Reader with Lightening Connector Allows for Rapid Transfer and Easy Offload of Content for On-the-Go Users   

Reader Designed for Management of Video and Photo Content from Sports and Aerial Cameras to the Latest iOS Devices

MILPITAS, Calif., April 14, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lexar, a leading global brand of flash memory products, today announced the Lexar® microSD™ Reader, allowing users to easily offload content from their sports camcorder or aerial camera to an iPhone® or iPad®. The small, portable reader features a Lightning® connector for quick transfer of files on the go, allowing users to view and playback photos and videos on their Apple device*. It also works with an easy-to-use and free file management app on the App Store®.**

“Users who are looking to capture more content in real time while on the move can find it challenging to manage that content, especially in an iOS device,” said Steffi Ho, product marketing manager, Lexar. “Shooters can now take advantage of the large screens and connectivity of their iOS devices by editing and uploading content captured on their action sports and aerial cameras wirelessly. Users no longer need to wait until they’re back in front of their main computer at home or in the office to upload content captured on-the-go.”

The new microSD Reader also allows users to offload files and store more on the card, creating more device space to capture content on the go. It also provides an easy way to move files from Android™ or other microSD-based device to an iPhone or iPad, and swap content between iOS devices. It has a small, portable design that makes it easy to take on the go, and its Lightning connector fits with most iOS cases, providing simple plug-and-play functionality. Furthermore, the microSD reader works with a free file management app on the App Store, allowing users to back up files when connected.

All Lexar product designs undergo extensive testing in the Lexar Quality Labs, facilities with more than 1,100 digital devices, to ensure performance, quality, compatibility, and reliability. The new microSD Reader is available for purchase in April 18, 2016 with an MSRP of $41.99, and includes a one-year limited warranty. For more information about Lexar products, visit www.lexar.com.

*Files supported: Music—MP3/CAF/ACC/AIF/WAV/AIFF/M4A. Video—AVI/FLV/MP4/MOV/M4V/MKV/MPG/RM/RMVB/WMV.

** App required for product use.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Fujifilm X70 Review

DPReview News - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 09:30

The Fujifilm X70 is fixed-lens APS-C compact camera with a 16.3MP X-Trans sensor and a 18.5mm (28mm field of view equivalent) F2.8 Fujinon lens. It shares many design elements and some specifications with Fujifilm's popular X100-series, but omits their hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder - or indeed any kind of built-in viewfinder at all. Instead, the X70's user interface employs a Fujifilm first: a touchscreen. And a tilting one, at that.

What the X70 does share with the X100 lineup is a metal chassis adorned with dials upon dials, putting camera settings exactly where you left them every time. It's a setup that any vintage camera user can appreciate, but one that still makes sense in the digital age. It also represents a completely different approach to this camera's closest competitor, the venerable Ricoh GR (II)*.

Let's see what else the X70 brings to the market:

Fujifilm X70 Features:
  • 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS II APS-C sensor
  • Fixed Fujinon 28mm equiv. F2.8 lens
  • 77-point hybrid autofocus system (49 PDAF+CDAF points, plus 28 CDAF)
  • 3" tilting 1.04M dot touchscreen LCD
  • Abundant physical controls, including shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation
  • All-metal build
  • Both mechanical (leaf) and electronic shutter
  • Digital 35mm and 50mm teleconverter with upscaling to full-resolution
  • Wi-Fi

The fixed-lens 28mm camera segment already has quite a few current and defunct members, including the Nikon Coolpix A, Ricoh GR II, Sigma DP1Q and Leica Q. Still, the Fuji has plenty going for it. Of these cameras, the closest competitor is definitely the Ricoh GR II. Let's take a look at its specs against the X70:

  Fujfilm X70 Ricoh GR II  Effective pixels 16 megapixels 16 megapixels  ISO Auto, 200-6400 (expandable to 100-51200) Auto, 100-25600  Aperture F2.8 - F16.0  F2.8 - F16.0  Autofocus Modes
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
 Focus Range 10 cm (3.94") 30 cm (11.81")
Macro mode: 10 cm (3.94")  Rear Screen Tilting

Fixed

 Battery Life (CIPA) 330 320  Weight (inc. batteries) 340 g (0.75 lb / 11.99 oz) 251 g (0.55 lb / 8.85 oz)  Dimensions 113 x 64 x 44 mm (4.45 x 2.52 x 1.73″)

117 x 63 x 35 mm (4.61 x 2.48 x 1.38″

The X70 and GR II offer very similar feature sets. Both use 16MP APS-C sensors, but the GR is able to beat out the Fujifilm in both size and mass, although that doesn't suddenly make the Fujifilm big. In fact, they're almost the same size.

The similarities to the Ricoh GR II are almost uncanny.

So is the X70 a travel camera? A landscaper's lightweight companion? A street shooter's delight? Come with us to look deeper in to the X70 and to find out just how it fits in (and stands out) in this corner of the market.

* We put the (II) in parentheses because the main hardware differentiation between the 3 year-old Ricoh GR and last year's GR II is the addition of Wi-Fi. The lens, AF, and sensor all remain the same.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Learning to Print: Solid Advice

The Online Photographer - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 08:35
These were both comments to the "Open Mike" post on Sunday about learning how to print. I thought they deserved their own post. Bob recently retired from a career making beautiful high-end studio portraits of dogs (how can you not... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

In the thick of the action: Nikon D5 real world samples gallery

DPReview News - Mon, 04/18/2016 - 04:00

With a newly designed 20MP full-frame sensor, an advanced autofocus system with 153 phase-detect points, a robust build with full weather sealing and 12 action-freezing frames per second, the Nikon D5 has been getting plenty of attention around the DPReview office over the past couple of weeks. It's a purpose-built machine: we don't think there's a camera in the world that can keep erratically moving subjects in focus during fast bursts like the D5 can. But it's good at a lot else as well.

We've toted it to tennis matches, a rugby match, up and over the Cascade mountains, along the Puget Sound waterfront and even a styled wedding shoot. After all, though the D5's specs may indicate it's geared toward the discerning sports shooter, that doesn't mean Nikon's new flagship wouldn't make a great (though hefty) all-rounder for photographers shooting all day, every day.

Categories: Photo Gear News

Open Mike II: A Question for the Mavens

The Online Photographer - Sun, 04/17/2016 - 10:01
I like the word "maven." It means "an expert or connoisseur" (with subtle undertones of "know-it-all"), and, like many of my favorite words, comes from Yiddish. Yiddish words enhance our vocabulary far out of proportion to their numbers. Who doesn't... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

Open Mike: Learning to Print

The Online Photographer - Sun, 04/17/2016 - 07:08
A reader contacted me the other day wanting a recommendation of a book, PDF, video or online course to learn about photo printing. It's been so long since I recommended one that I really don't feel I know the landscape... Michael Johnston
Categories: Photography

A small project: iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

DPReview News - Sun, 04/17/2016 - 04:00
iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

As far as small cameras go, the Samsung NX Mini is one of the most impressively small we've come across. The Mini manages to fit a 20.9MP 1"-type sensor into a super-slim body that's just 22.5mm thick. It's been discontinued, but when we saw iFixit post a disassembly guide for the littlest NX we just had to see what was inside. See some of the highlights from a safe distance here, and if you're feeling adventurous head over to iFixit and find a step-by-step guide to taking the NX Mini apart.

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

After removing the battery and various screws from the battery compartment and external flash port, you'll be ready to unscrew the lens mount. That teeny, tiny lens mount.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

Removing a few more screws from the bottom of the camera frees the front housing, revealing the sensor and NFC chip. Relative to the camera body, the 1"-type sensor looks pretty big.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

The NFC target lives on top of the battery compartment, which can be removed as seen here to reveal the motherboard underneath. The sensor cover has also been removed at this stage, giving a better view of the 20MP chip underneath. And that's the next bit to go...

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

A little spudger action frees the sensor module from the motherboard so it's ready to be carefully removed.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

There's one more screw to remove to disconnect the motherboard, and just above it is the Wi-Fi antenna. Of course, you'll want to carefully disconnect the ribbon cables connected to the motherboard before it goes anywhere.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

This step requires some careful spudger work to release the ribbon cables...

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

...and once those have all been removed the motherboard is free.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

The flash assembly is the last piece to come out of the chassis, and takes with it the Wi-Fi antenna as it's removed.

Image courtesy of iFixit

iFixit Samsung NX Mini disassembly guide

The tilting LCD twists free of the housing and there you have it – one tiny camera in lots of tiny pieces. Check out the whole guide on iFixit for the play-by-play disassembly instructions.

Image courtesy of iFixit

Categories: Photo Gear News
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