News aggregator

Delayed: Nikon Japan pushes D500 to end of April

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

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

The Kidding Camera

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

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

Hands on with Sony's a6300 and G Master lenses

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

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

Sony a6300

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

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony a6300

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

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

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

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

Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM

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

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

Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM

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

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

Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM

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

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

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

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

Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

Video: A quick look at the Sony a6300

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

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

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

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

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

Shooting fast action bursts with a DSLR-esque live feed

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

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

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

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

Autofocus subject tracking

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

Autofocus in video

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technologies behind G Master lenses

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

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

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

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

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

Press release:

Sony Launches New G Master Brand of Interchangeable Lenses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New FE 85mm F1.4 GM Telephoto Prime Lens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing and Availability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release:

Sony Introduces New α6300 Camera with World’s Fastest Autofocus 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unrivaled AF Performance

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

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

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

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

Powerful 24.2 MP Exmor CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Processor

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

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

Ultimate 4K Resolution and Other Professional Video Capabilities

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

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

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

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

Enhanced Operability and Ergonomics

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

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

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

Pricing and Availability

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

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

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

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

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

5.      1.6x in 30p setting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme made easy: GoPro HERO4 Session review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's included

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

Compared to Siblings

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

  HERO4 Session  HERO4 Black  HERO4 Silver  HERO+ Max Video Resolution

1440/30p

4K (UHD) 2160/30p

4K (UHD) 2160/15p

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Photo Gear News

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
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