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Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 10/11/2016 - 12:40pm

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DN DC Contemporary was announced February 2016, and sits atop Sigma's line of DN mirrorless lenses, with a two-stop advantage over their previous 30mm F2.8 offering.

As a Micro Four Thirds lens, it is one of only several current autofocus F1.4 prime lenses available, with its closest competitor being the Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4. While the Panasonic offers a field-of-view equivalent to a 'classic' 50mm lens, the Sigma ends up around 60mm. While that makes its focal length possibly a bit long for street shooting, it helps a little when it comes to portraiture and close-up work.

Let's see how the basic specifications between the Panasonic Leica 25 and Sigma 30 compare:

  Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN | C
Price $598 $339
Image Stabilization No No
Max Aperture F1.4 F1.4
Minimum Aperture F16 F16
Aperture Ring No No
Diaphragm Blades 7 9
Minimum Focus 0.30 m (11.81″) 0.30 m (11.81″)
Maximum Magnification 0.11x 0.14x
Motor Type Micromotor Stepper motor
Full Time Manual Yes No
Weight 200 g (0.34 lb) 265 g (0.58 lb)
Dimensions (DxL) 63 mm (2.48″)  X 55 mm (2.15″) 65 mm (2.56″) X 73 mm (2.87″)
Sealing None None
Filter Thread 46mm 52mm

Regardless of where it sits in terms of focal length and usability, the Sigma enters the opposite of a crowded marketplace as an autofocus F1.4 Micro Four Thirds prime. It also gets the advantage of being the cheapest autofocus F1.4 Micro Four Thirds prime available, even undercutting the price of some F1.8 options as well. 

Thankfully, the Sigma doesn't feel entirely cheap. The barrel is well made with a satin black finish and ridges for grip when mounting or removing the lens. Sadly, the plastic hood feels a little inexpensive, and doesn't feel like it clicks in to position with much confidence. Build quality of the lens itself is on par with the Pana-Leica, with both having smooth, sturdy focus rings with rubberized ridged grips.

The extra bit of diameter and length on the Sigma make it a bit bulky and unbalanced when mounted to some of slimmer Micro Four Thirds cameras, like the Olympus PEN series, or the E-M5 II. When mounted to a larger SLR shaped body, like the GH4, the Sigma fits nicely.

We're assuming the extra size, relative to the Panasonic stems from it needing to be large enough to cover an APS-C sized sensor, in its E-mount incarnation.

Does the discounted price mean the Sigma comes with discount performance? Can it shake off past stigmas about third party lenses and go toe-to-toe with a lens touting one of the most revered names in the business? Let's take a closer look at the numbers.

Categories: Equipment

Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary Micro Four Thirds Lens Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 10/11/2016 - 12:40pm

The Sigma 30mm F1.4 DN DC Contemporary was announced February 2016, and sits atop Sigma's line of DN mirrorless lenses, with a two-stop advantage over their previous 30mm F2.8 offering.

As a Micro Four Thirds lens, it is one of only several current autofocus F1.4 prime lenses available, with its closest competitor being the Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4. While the Panasonic offers a field-of-view equivalent to a 'classic' 50mm lens, the Sigma ends up around 60mm. While that makes its focal length possibly a bit long for street shooting, it helps a little when it comes to portraiture and close-up work.

Let's see how the basic specifications between the Panasonic Leica 25 and Sigma 30 compare:

  Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN | C
Price $598 $339
Image Stabilization No No
Max Aperture F1.4 F1.4
Minimum Aperture F16 F16
Aperture Ring No No
Diaphragm Blades 7 9
Minimum Focus 0.30 m (11.81″) 0.30 m (11.81″)
Maximum Magnification 0.11x 0.14x
Motor Type Micromotor Stepper motor
Full Time Manual Yes No
Weight 200 g (0.34 lb) 265 g (0.58 lb)
Dimensions (DxL) 63 mm (2.48″)  X 55 mm (2.15″) 65 mm (2.56″) X 73 mm (2.87″)
Sealing None None
Filter Thread 46mm 52mm

Regardless of where it sits in terms of focal length and usability, the Sigma enters the opposite of a crowded marketplace as an autofocus F1.4 Micro Four Thirds prime. It also gets the advantage of being the cheapest autofocus F1.4 Micro Four Thirds prime available, even undercutting the price of some F1.8 options as well. 

Thankfully, the Sigma doesn't feel entirely cheap. The barrel is well made with a satin black finish and ridges for grip when mounting or removing the lens. Sadly, the plastic hood feels a little inexpensive, and doesn't feel like it clicks in to position with much confidence. Build quality of the lens itself is on par with the Pana-Leica, with both having smooth, sturdy focus rings with rubberized ridged grips.

The extra bit of diameter and length on the Sigma make it a bit bulky and unbalanced when mounted to some of slimmer Micro Four Thirds cameras, like the Olympus PEN series, or the E-M5 II. When mounted to a larger SLR shaped body, like the GH4, the Sigma fits nicely.

We're assuming the extra size, relative to the Panasonic stems from it needing to be large enough to cover an APS-C sized sensor, in its E-mount incarnation.

Does the discounted price mean the Sigma comes with discount performance? Can it shake off past stigmas about third party lenses and go toe-to-toe with a lens touting one of the most revered names in the business? Let's take a closer look at the numbers.

Categories: Equipment

Western Digital gives My Passport and My Book drives a makeover

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 10/11/2016 - 8:00am

Western Digital has partnered with design firm fuseproject to create a new look for its My Passport and My Book external hard drives. They continue to offer the same hardware encryption, password protection and storage capacities of existing models, but they've been given a cosmetic update with new textures and vibrant colors.

The My Passport and My Passport for Mac drives will start at $79.99 and the My Book desktop drive starts at $129.99. Each comes with a two-year warranty.

Press release:


IRVINE, Calif., October 11, 2016 – Western Digital Corporation (“Western Digital”) (NASDAQ: WDC), today introduced modern and innovative redesigns of its My Passport®, My Passport for Mac, and My Book® hard drive lines, which have been highly recognized leading sellers for more than a decade. In partnership with fuseproject, an award-winning industrial design and branding firm, the reimagined products were built with the customer in mind. Developed to help make a connection between the device and user, the new drives also include password protection and hardware encryption so customers will love their hard drive as much as they cherish the content stored on it.

“As the storage landscape continues to rapidly evolve, and the bars for design and user-experience have increased, the team focused on the design and user experience to catapult My Passport and My Book to the next level,” said Jim Welsh, senior vice president, Content Solutions Business Unit, Western Digital. “Through the reimagined design language, we want to engage consumers in a conversation about how storage is core to their lives and how they feel more empowered by the real benefits of capturing, protecting and enjoying life’s precious memories.”

“The way we use data is changing; it’s becoming much more of a personal commodity, something we value,” says Yves Béhar, founder and Principal Designer at fuseproject. “Western Digital lies at the intersection of our physical life and the digital world, and we wanted to create a quality aesthetic that symbolizes this intersection.”

As part of the reimagined design, the My Passport drives will come in six vivid colors – Black, Yellow, Red, White, Orange and Blue – while still providing reliable portable storage that perfectly complements an on-the-go lifestyle. The My Passport for Mac drive is available in a stylish Black color. The trusted desktop storage device, My Book, combines personal style with a massive amount of storage space, up to 8 TB, so users can keep their photos, videos, music, and documents. Each storage device comes with an automatic backup solution for a seamless, user-friendly process, as well as password protection to keep your precious data safe.

The new WD® products include:

  • My Passport portable hard drives – trusted and loved portable storage, in a reimagined design, that fits in the palm of your hand
    • New attractive design with textured bottom
    • Password protection with 256-bit AES hardware encryption
    • Automatic backup with included WD Backup™ software
    • Up to 4TB capacity
  • My Passport for Mac drives – your MacBook® computer’s best friend
    • New attractive design with textured bottom
    • Password protection with 256-bit AES hardware encryption
    • Formatted for Mac OS® X and Time Machine® ready for easy backup
    • Up to 4TB capacity
  • My Book desktop hard drive – trusted, high capacity backup for PC and Mac®
    • Password protection with hardware encryption
    • Automatic backup with included WD Backup software
    • Up to 8TB capacity

Pricing and Availability

My Passport and My Passport for Mac portable hard drives are protected by a 2-year limited warranty and are available from wd.com and at select retailers and distributors around the world. My Passport drives have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $79.99 USD and the My Passport for Mac drive has a starting MSRP of $79.99 USD.

My Book desktop hard drives are protected by a 2-year limited warranty and are available from the WD store at wd.com and at select retailers and distributors. My Book drives have a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $129.99 USD.

About Western Digital

Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC) is an industry-leading provider of storage technologies and solutions that enable people to create, leverage, experience and preserve data. The company addresses ever-changing market needs by providing a full portfolio of compelling, high-quality storage solutions with customer-focused innovation, high efficiency, flexibility and speed. Our products are marketed under the HGST, SanDisk and WD brands to OEMs, distributors, resellers, cloud infrastructure providers and consumers.

Categories: Equipment

Google publishes gallery from upcoming Pixel smartphone

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 5:35pm
$(document).ready(function() { SampleGalleryV2({"containerId":"embeddedSampleGallery_0409860841","galleryId":"0409860841","isEmbeddedWidget":true,"standalone":false,"selectedImageIndex":0,"startInCommentsView":false,"isMobile":false}) });

Google's camera product manager Issac Reynolds has posted the first gallery from the company's upcoming Pixel smartphones, which received the highest DxOMark Mobile score to date. While we can't be sure if any processing has been conducted, we think the results  look promising. You can view and download the originals on Reynolds' Google Photos page.

Categories: Equipment

Google Panoramio to shut down on November 4

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 4:37pm

Google will be shutting down Panoramio, its website for sharing photos of the world, on November 4. Now that Google Maps and Local Guides both have a photo-uploading feature, says Google, 'we’ve decided to move forward with closing down Panoramio,' something the company first announced plans for back in 2014. Many users were unhappy with the original announcement, and little has changed now that the shutdown is weeks away.

Panoramio was an early Web destination for photographers and travelers to share location-specific photos, enabling anyone to pull up a location on a world map and view any available images of it. That same feature is now available on Google Maps; in fact, Panoramio users who have shared content will Google Maps will still have their photos appear on the latter service after Panoramio shuts down.

Panoramio accounts linked to a Google account will automatically have their photographs uploaded to Google Album Archive at full resolution, the company says. In addition, Panoramio users will retain access to their account photos (within Panoramio) until November 2017, though new uploads and interactions with photos will be restricted. Google is encouraging Panoramio users to sign up under its Local Guides program.

Users who want to abandon Google entirely can export their Panoramio photos via Google Takeout if they have a Google account. The only exception are legacy Panoramio accounts; in this case, photos can be exported as a zip file via account settings > ‘Data Liberation’ > ‘Get photos’.


Categories: Equipment

Winter is Coming: Here are some tips on what and where to shoot when it gets cold

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 10/10/2016 - 8:00am

Winter is Coming

Winter is only a month or two away and many photographers will find it challenging to press on through the dreary winter months; especially those of us that live in Seattle or other areas where wind, rain, sleet and snow pound the region for months on end.

In this article I've outlined some tips to keep your landscape photography fresh when the weather starts to head south.

Photograph Transitions

The transition between fall and winter offers up a unique opportunity to photograph fall color under a fresh dusting of snow. If the forecast is calling for snow toward the end of fall, head out and see what you can find!

The warmer colors of the fall leaves and foliage will be presented in stark contrast against the cold tones of the snow and can make for very interesting and dynamic images. The above image was taken in the central Cascade mountains of Washington state at the end of Fall.

Head to the Desert

This may sound like a weird tip, but if you have any sort of opportunity to visit the desert or the canyon lands of any kind during the winter, do it! Places like Bryce Canyon in Utah (pictured above) and the Grand Canyon in Arizona offer very unique conditions and compositions that the average tourist won't get to see during the summer months.

Snow can add a nice color contrast to the desert landscape and can also add soft textures to the arid environment. As an added bonus you won't have to deal with the crazy crowds and 100 degree temperatures.

Icy Waterfalls

Shooting waterfalls during the winter months can often times make even popular and well shot locations look refreshing and new. Multnomah falls is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in Oregon and even it can take on a different appearance during the winter.

The frozen spray from the falls can add some really nice textures and visual elements to your images. The snow can also contrast well with the icy blue water flowing over the falls.

  • If you plan to shoot waterfalls or any sort of moving water during the winter definitely invest in a good set of micro-spikes (for traction) to give you an extra edge for hiking and climbing.
  • Trekking poles (your tripod can work in a pinch) are also a great idea to help with stability and balance while transversing icy terrain. 
  • If your tripod comes with metal spikes or feet it's always good idea to bring them along as they may work better (or worse) depending upon conditions.
  • Hip-waders and Gortex can definitely help keep you dry and comfortable.

Let's face it, slipping and falling into a river or on a rocky slope isn't something you really want to do in cold weather.

The Mountains are Calling

Snow and the winter weather that comes with it can really add depth and layers to your images. Heading to the mountains with a longer focal length lens can really help to emphasize winter weather conditions such as fresh snow, low clouds and fog. 

When the weather looks to be heading south I love to head up to the mountains to check out how the conditions are shaping up for sunset and sunrise.

  • Bring waterproof and breathable layers, snow shoes and any other supplies that you may need when you find yourself hiking in cold conditions.
  • Packing a Jet Boil (or another source of heat) and some instant meals can be a lifesaver if you're in a pinch.
  • A GPS can be your best friend if your tracks get covered by fresh snow.
  • Check the weather forecasts often and do some research to ensure that you don't find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Chase the Storms

The sunsets that often follow winter storms can offer some of the most intense and gorgeous light that you can capture. To really take advantage of this try heading to the coast just as a low pressure system has begun to move on shore. It takes a bit of planning but the sunset/sunrise conditions on the back edge of the storm can be absolutely spectacular! The above image was taken in late winter at Cape Kiwanda on the Oregon Coast.

  • Check the weather forecasts hourly when planning a trip like this.
  • The National Weather Service here in the US is a great place to track weather and believe it or not the Weather Channel website offers some of the most accurate forecasts you can find on the internet. 
  • The NOAA Hi-Def radar smartphone App can give you a great deal of insight into minute by minute precipitation and cloud cover forecasts.

As an added bonus you won't have to deal with that pesky marine layer that often plagues the west coast of the US during the summer months. 

Stay Close to Home

If the conditions are just too dangerous or you just don't have time to plan a trip, look to areas near you for unique vantage points and compositions that can offer up very different photographic results during the winter months. This was taken near my home in Snoqualmie, WA. 

Get creative in your surroundings! This shot was taken with my Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS lens. Using longer focal lengths in your area can really open up new and exciting compositional opportunities. 

Categories: Equipment

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sat, 10/08/2016 - 8:00am

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

Lorenz Holder of Germany has taken the top prize for a second year in a row in the Red Bull Illume sports and action photography awards. His photo of pro BMX rider Senad Grosic took Overall Winner as well as the Athletes' Choice award. Read on to learn more about the winning image and see more category winners. An exhibition of the top images is underway in Chicago and will go on tour after October 9th – visit Red Bull Illume's website for a schedule.

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume. Overall Winner

'Senad and I were on the way to a different location early in the morning, when we passed this scenic spot. We saw a sign from the street and I had some pictures in mind that I’d seen from this bridge on the internet. When we got there the sun was just above the trees and it was lighting up the full color-spectrum of the autumn leaves in a very soft way.

One thing that was a little annoying was that the lake was covered with leaves which had fallen from trees, so the reflection of the bridge in the lake was just not there. But sometimes you just need a bit of luck – I had been on a fishing trip some days before and still had my fishing-boots and a net in the car. So got the stuff and tried to clean the lake by hand. It took a while until it was almost perfectly clean – at least where it was relevant for the picture. Luckily the sun was still very soft, so we had good light for the shot.

I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone.

We jumped back to the car and drove towards our originally planned spot. It was an awesome feeling to have shot this picture with more or less pure luck. Without the sign next to the road, we would have passed one of the nicest photo scenes.'

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM
ISO: 500
F-Stop: 8.0
Shutter Speed: 1/640

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Daniel Vojtěch / Red Bull Illume. Sequence by Sony Winner

'Red Bull asked me to do some portraits and action photos of the Flying Bulls. We had an air to air photoshoot and I knew it would be great for a sequence. An airplane is the only place from where you can see something like this. I did one fast attempt. After I stitched the sequence it was great, but I could still be a little bit closer.

We had another photoshoot on another day so we tried it again but I was much closer to the planes in front. It was cloudy so the final image looks very dramatic. The pilot also turned on the smoke so you can see the trail behind.

The camera I used for this photo was Nikon D5 and Nikkor 16/2.8 fisheye because there was almost no space and I wanted to show inside the part of the airplane I was sitting to show the pilot’s POV.'

Camera: Nikon D5
Lens: 16mm F2.8 AF Fisheye
ISO: 640
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/250

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Jody MacDonald / Red Bull Illume. Lifestyle Winner

'When I was young I used to look through National Geographic magazines and dream of adventures like this; train hopping through the Sahara on one of the world’s longest trains. I had dreamt of the oceans of sand, the loud noises of the train, the cold, the wind, the scorching sun, the unknown smells and sounds of the desert and the discomfort that goes with it. So when I was asked to dream up and photograph a trip in harsh conditions, a 700 kilometer journey through the Sahara desert in Mauritania came to mind.

After weeks of planning, our journey began in the capital of Nouakchott, from there my brother and I moved north through the interior to board the Mauritania Railway. Our risky rail journey started from the iron-mining center of Zouérat in the Sahara, and snaked through the barren desert toward the port of Nouadhibou on the Atlantic. We wanted to get to the coast to try to find some unexplored surf breaks and capture the spirit of adventure and exploration through this incredible landscape. Having only a few minutes to hop on the train in the middle of the night, we spent 15 long hours slithering through the desert on the three kilometer train that transports approximately 84 tons of iron ore across a country crippled by terrorism, slavery, and poverty.

I photographed this image with Leica’s new X-U all weather camera with a fixed 23mm lens. I used a shutter speed of 1/500 to stop the motion of the train and an f-stop of 7.1 at ISO 100.'

Camera: Leica X-U (Typ 113)
Lens: 23.0mm F1.7
ISO: 100
F-Stop: 7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/500

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Dean Treml / Red Bull Illume. Spirit Winner

'In this image Josh Neilson of New Zealand is supported by fellow paddlers (L-R) Barnaby Prees, Sam Sutton, Tim Pickering, Ben Brown, Jamie Sutton and Jared Seiler as he waits for a helicopter evacuation after a bad landing off Matze's Drop, Storulfossen, Norway on July 7th 2014. It left him with a broken L1 vertebrae.

I traveled to kayaking mecca Norway for a few days to shoot and hang with my Kiwi mate Ben Brown, one of the world’s most prodigious adventure kayakers. As fate would have it he dislocated his shoulder the day I arrived, but luckily he was traveling with some brilliant paddlers so I still had subjects to shoot.

On the last day we found ourselves at this spectacular waterfall, where five others made the run, then Josh went off. After a good entry the nose of his kayak was thrust up and he flat landed at the bottom, the impact breaking his back. His colleagues were immediately on hand to assist and stabilize Josh, and Ben, who had previously suffered a similar injury, was able to reassure Josh while a helicopter was summoned. Josh was flown to Lillehammer hospital and then on to Elverum for successful surgery. With determined rehabilitation in New Zealand, Neilson was back in a kayak one year later and subsequently traveled back to Norway to paddle their rivers again.'

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF 24mm F1.4L II USM
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 2.0
Shutter Speed: 1/2500

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Vegard Aasen / Red Bull Illume. Mobile Winner

'This winter some friends and I went to Hakuba in Japan to ski some deep powder and big mountains. The day this shot was taken was a really windy one but the snow was still really good, so we went out into the backcountry. One of my friends brought his DSLR camera, so I decided to not bring my camera because I wanted to ski instead of taking photos.

We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well.

A week later, I scrolled through my phone, while waiting for sushi at a restaurant. I had completely forgotten about the shot, so I was pretty stoked when I found it. I edited it to black and white in Photoshop Express on my phone, and was really happy with the result.'

Camera: HUAWEI P8
ISO: 64
F-Stop: 2.0
Shutter Speed: 1/3200

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Dean Treml / Red Bull Illume. Enhance Winner

'Jonathan Paredes of Mexico dives from the 28 meter platform on the roof of the Copenhagen Opera House during the first practice session of the second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Copenhagen, Denmark on June 20th 2013.

I remember while I was originally scoping out the location for this event thinking how surreal images could look without the diving platform jutting out, and just the small form of the diver, and the huge cantilevered roof dominating the frame, and even discussed it at the time with my wife (the photographer Romina Amato) who was also there.

As I am editorially focused the integrity of the image is paramount so the platform stayed, but while reading the categories of Red Bull Illume this image jumped into my mind and I figured a quick ‘fix’ to one of my shots couldn’t hurt, so this version of the image really came about thanks to the 'Enhance' category. '

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF 70-300mm F4-5.6L IS USM
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/4000

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume. Wings Winner

'My buddy Jimbo had been opening new hard routes in the area and we wanted to try and capture some of the climbs. With climbing photography it’s not often you can just walk somewhere to get a good angle – most good shots require some form of rigging. The angle of this image happened by chance. We were setting up for another shot but when I looked back I knew we had to change plans and grab the shot with the sea and horizon in the background, framed by this huge rock roof.

Lighting is also difficult, as climbers prefer to climb in the shade as cooler temperatures provide more friction between skin and rock. This often means overexposed backgrounds and underexposed foregrounds. The best I could do in this situation was to shoot somewhere in the middle.

The route is one of the hardest on Table Mountain. The last 'crux' section is near the top – you have a few pieces of protection below but there’s a final jump, or ‘dyno' for the last hold. The image captures what happens if you don't manage to stick that hold!

There was always a chance that Jimbo would fall, so I was ready for it. For the couple of seconds leading up to the big move I was holding my breath and ready to fire. I could definitely feel the adrenaline pumping! It’s a pretty big and impressive fall, but luckily far from the ground – that doesn't make it any less terrifying.

We had planned to grab some cool climbing shots, but in the end this image of Jimbo mid-air was the shot we felt captured the intensity of the climb. Jimbo did send the route that day – after a few more falls.'

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF 16-35mm F2.8L USM
ISO: 400
F-Stop: 3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/1600

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Ale Di Lullo / Red Bull Illume. New Creativity Winner

'I’d been working on shots through transparent surfaces for a few years but it was during a long drive across Europe that I had this idea. I was forcing myself to think of new angles and nothing really came to mind. But when I said to myself that the best ideas are the simplest ones, that usually you have the answer in front of you, I realized the shot was actually in front of me. It was right there, where most people spend a lot of time everyday – cars!

Nobody had done an extreme sport shot from inside the car having the rider riding on the windshield. I understood that a shot like this had to be made in an iconic spot and the spot had to be in a city so it was clear that New York City with all its bridges was the place. And what could have been better than a NYC cab to shoot from?

Choosing Aaron Chase as the rider was natural. He has been a friend for a long time and happened to be a pioneer of street riding in our sport and is almost a local in New York. It took us one year of preparation, one full day of work, involved a few people and a bit of money. But I kept shooting, all the while fearing I would break the windscreen, and 12 attempts later I nailed this shot.'

Camera: Canon EOS-1D X
Lens: EF 8-15mm F4L Fisheye USM
ISO: 640
F-Stop: 5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1600

Winning images from Red Bull Illume 2016

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume. Playground Winner

'I shot this unique location a couple months before this action shoot as a landscape picture because I just liked the whole structure and the way it was integrated into the landscape. It’s a viewing platform made of steel that has rusted over the years. You can walk up the stairs to enjoy the view over the lakes that surround the area.

I knew somehow, that there was the potential for it to be a location for an action photo. My first idea was to shoot snowboarding in it, but that was just impossible because of the limited space. I almost gave up on the idea, but then I bumped into Senad Grosic in Berlin one day and we talked a bit about spots and stuff. I showed him the landscape picture and he told me that we need to go back there to see what’s possible.

So Senad and I took a road trip and drove all the way to Senftenberg. We discussed and fine-tuned a plan that would look rad on photo. Senad had the idea to be dressed all white to give it more contrast, because I didn’t want to use flashes to keep the structure as evenly lit as possible. The angle is almost the same angle I chose for the landscape picture. It’s actually an architectural picture with the spice of action sports in it.'

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Lens: EF 24-70mm F2.8L USM
ISO: 500
F-Stop: 6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400

Categories: Equipment

We're hiring! Developers and Marketing experts needed

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 7:34pm

We're looking for two software development engineers, freelance writers and a marketing expert to join our team in Seattle, WA and help build the next generation of dpreview's content and community tools (and of course, get to play with all the latest photo gear). Check out the details on our jobs page.

Categories: Equipment

PhotoPlus Expo 2016 to offer 22 photo walks covering roster of topics

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 2:07pm

PhotoPlus Expo 2016 will offer attendees a total of 22 photo walks over a three-day span, giving them the opportunity to learn different skills and gain experience from top educators and photographers, including Me Ra Koh, Jen Rozenbaum, Michael Grecco, Brooke Shaden and Matt Kloskowski. The Photo Walk tours are scheduled to take place before and after Expo hours on October 19 through October 21 in New York City.

The full photo walk lineup:

OCTOBER 19 - 4:00PM – 6:00PM

“Make Every Woman Look Amazing” (PW01) Sold Out
Jen Rozenbaum
Learn how Jen Rozenbaum uses her eight points of posing to make any -- and every -- woman look amazing. Then, put what you learned into action to create your own "shamelessly feminine" portraits.

“Portraits Unplugged: Under and On the High Line” (PW02) Sold Out
Bobbi Lane / Lee Varis
Join photographers Bobbi Lane and Lee Varis for this photo walk around New York’s famed High Line. The key to successful natural light portraits is learning to “see” and find the light, then successfully place your subject in the light for the mood of the image. Lane and Varis will show participants how to scout for light and will demonstrate porch lighting and backlighting, the use of reflectors and diffusers, and how to make any location work once you have found the appropriate light. Models will be used throughout the session.

OCTOBER 20 - 8:00AM – 10:00AM

“On-Location Portraiture” (PW03)
Miguel Quiles (Sponsored by Sony)
Sony Artisan Miguel Quiles will demonstrate the process of shooting dynamic portraits on location, how to find the best locations, pose the subject and offer guidelines using both available light and off-camera flash. The shoot will include live models and offer a great opportunity to walk away with some amazing photos and invaluable tips.

“Capture the Action with Small Flash” (PW04)
Tony Gale (Sponsored by Sony)
Join Sony Artisan Tony Gale in a unique hands-on experience on the streets of New York City as he shows participants how to enhance their action photography with a small flash. Participants will learn how and why to use flash outdoors, how to use multiple small flash units to capture action, how and when to use high-speed sync, and much more.

“My Way, Your Way: Two Unique Perspectives on Off-Camera Flash” (PW05)
Moshe Zusman/Vanessa Joy (Sponsored by Adorama, Profoto, Miller’s Lab)
Moshe Zusman and Vanessa Joy will demonstrate their unique perspectives on off-camera flash. Start with timeless OCF lighting and posing scenarios with Joy and learning how to switch them up for more edge and drama with Zusman. Learn how to give your clients the best of both worlds quickly and easily while boosting studio sales and client satisfaction.

“The Art of Noticing” (PW06)
David Carol
The streets of major metropolitan cities are fast paced and chaotic. Our job as photographers is to organize the chaos—to be aware and to compose our images within the ebb and flow of humanity. The skills to photograph the subtleties of life can always be learned and improved. David Carol's class will teach participants how to find your style and present your photographic point of view to the world.

“Fairytales on the Streets of NYC” (PW07) Sold Out
Brooke Shaden (sponsored by WHCC and X-Rite)
Art can be created anywhere, even in the alleyways of NYC. Join Shaden as she discusses ways of masking the hectic and visually distracting streets to create timeless pieces of art that will utilize set design, compositing and storytelling. By using painterly techniques as well as the square format, traditional photographic properties are replaced by other worldly elements.

OCTOBER 20 - 4:30PM – 6:30PM

“Urban Landscapes—Light, Shadows and Utilizing Architectural Shadows” (PW08)
Michael Grecco (sponsored by Panasonic)
Michael will show participants how to hunt for light, manage shadow and use the great architectural background of the city to shoot your own urban landscapes. Michael will walk through some of his favorite New York spots known for their dynamic design, and illustrate how to strategically shoot from the magic hour and into darkness.

“Lite Lighting with Speedlites: The Power of Creative Lighting on Location” (PW09)
Rocco Ancora
Rocco will share his techniques in the art of lighting with Speedlights and remote flash set-ups. This Photo Walk is ideal for the photographer wanting to finesse their off-camera flash techniques and further develop their lighting skills. Models will be provided throughout the Photo Walk.

“Making Great Portraits on Location” (PW10) Sold Out
Scott Kelby (Sponsored by Lexar)
Join Scott Kelby, Lexar Elite Photographer and author of the book Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It, on the streets of New York City for a hands-on Photo Walk that will teach participants how to make amazing portraits on location. Participants will learn the secrets to making natural light work for you—how to harness it, tame it, and balance it with flash—to add more depth and dimension to your location portraits. Working with two New York City-based models, participants will have an opportunity to put what they learned into immediate practice.

“Become a Family of Photo Detectives” (Parents & Kids Photo Walk) (PW11)
Me Ra Koh (Sponsored by Sony)
Bring your child and experience a special, new photo adventure with Disney Jr. host, Me Ra Koh, The Photo Mom. She will teach parents and children alike how to find great light, capture action, hunt for defining details to tell a story, and use ordinary shapes and lines to create extraordinary photos. Sign up for this fun, creative, hands-on session that you and your child will never forget (children must be at least 4 years old).

“NYC from Above: “A Unique Way to Capture the Most Photographed City” (PW12) Sold Out
Vivienne Gucwa (Sponsored by Sony)
Join travel photographer, best-selling author and Sony Artisan Vivienne Gucwa for a different type of Photo Walk that will take you to the rooftops of NYC. In this Photo Walk, attendees will learn how to use ‘view from above’ angles to capture unique perspectives of an urban landscape and how to use changing light to enhance your work.

OCTOBER 21 - 8:00AM – 10:00AM

“Love the Process” (PW13)
David Carol
For David Carol, the most important aspect of street photography is noticing the world around him and showing the viewer something he or she may not have noticed themselves. During this informative and inspiring photo walk, Carol will show you his process and teach you to love it as much as he does. You'll learn how to harness the environment at-hand to focus on and expand your unique vision for making thought-provoking imagery. Come learn how to be process-oriented rather than results-oriented.

“Landscapes in the City” (PW14)
Matt Kloskowski (Sponsored by Sony)
Join Sony Artisan Matt Kloskowski for a hands-on photo walk that combines creative landscape photography with the urban city setting. Participants will learn about a variety of useful and creative techniques including long exposure photos, using apps to enhance shooting, ND Filters and Polarizers, shooting into the sun, when to use HDR techniques, and much more.

“Learning Headshots: In Front and Behind the Camera” (PW15)
Lori Patrick
Anyone can use a good headshot these days. In a preliminary discussion, Lori Patrick will share insights on finding clients, conduct a posing demo and discuss client intention. Learn about posing, expression, crop, usage, delivery and more. Attendees will practice in pairs, producing headshots of each other, with Lori available as coach.

“Make Every Woman Look Amazing” (PW16)
Jen Rozenbaum
Encore performance from Wednesday, October 19.

“Authentic Street Photography with your iPhone (PW17)
Robert Herman
Join Robert Herman, author of The Phone Book (Schiffer Books), a new monograph shot entirely with the iPhone and the Hipstamatic app, during a photo walk in a neighborhood near Penn Station. If you are interested in making more authentic pictures on the street, the iPhone is the camera for you. And now, with the release of the iPhone 6 and 6S with a 12MP file, the image quality is superb. Learn the techniques Herman used to make the great pictures that led to the publication of The Phone Book.

OCTOBER 21 - 4:30PM – 6:30PM

Lucky Shots: The Zen of Street Photography (PW18)
Doug Menuez
As the old saying goes, “luck favors the prepared.” On this Photo Walk, Doug Menuez will share how he combines his documentary techniques with a deliberate Zen mindfulness that allows him to enter a zone of hyper-awareness and concentration. He’ll also share his philosophy about respecting his subjects, discussing the fine line between telling their stories and exploiting them. Then, he’ll discuss choosing the right equipment and technical issues. Street photography brings a special kind of joy that involves embracing the mystery of life, especially in New York City.

“Beautiful Portrait in Unattractive Environments: No Flash, No Reflectors. Just Natural Light!” (PW19)
Peter Coulson
Peter Coulson will teach you how he finds the perfect lighting in any outdoor location. Participants will spend this hands-on photo walk learning how to see and use natural light, without any reflectors or flash.

“Adding Light to Your Environmental Portrait” (PW20)
Ira Block (Sponsored by Sony)
Environmental portraits are a powerful way to tell a story. Join Sony Artisan of Imagery and National Geographic photographer Ira Block as he teaches participants how to interact with their subjects to make them feel comfortable, relaxed and expressive. He will also discuss how to find locations that compliment and define your subjects controlling the light by adding reflectors, strobes, LEDs, candles or even flashlights.

“NYC Skyline and Hoboken Photo Walk” (PW21)
Katrin Eismann (Sponsored by Sony)
Join Sony Artisan, Katrin Eismann on a ferry ride to Hoboken, New Jersey, to photograph the NYC skyline and wander the parks and neighborhoods of the mile-square city. Participants will explore the tree-lined Stevens Institute of Technology campus, discover quaint streets lined with Brownstones, and wonder at the historical Hoboken Railroad Terminal. Participants will learn how to create unique images in the everyday environment by shifting perspectives, how to shoot during changing light, and tips for low-light shooting.

“The Sensational Portrait on Location” (PW22)
Joel Grimes (Sponsored by Canon)
Learn how to create dramatic portraits on location, using portable battery powered strobes. As an advertising photographer, Joel Grimes has been “strobing” subjects on location for over 30 years. Follow him out in the field as he demonstrates how to mix both strobe and ambient light, overpowering the sun; achieving shallow depth-of-field focus using ND filters while still using strobes and so much more.

Categories: Equipment

Video: Sony a6500 First Look

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 1:06pm

From a pure design standpoint, Sony's a6500 look all that flashy at first glance, but don't let the looks fool you. It may look like an a6300, but with an improved buffer, processor and a touchscreen (!), it's a compact force to be reckoned with. Get the low-down in our overview video. 

Categories: Equipment

Sony RX100 Mark V real-world samples

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 10:01am

The RX100 Mark V is pretty crazy - at it's full burst speed of twenty four frames per second, shooting full JPEG and Raw, I actually tended to dial it back to its 'medium' burst-shooting speed. With 315 on-sensor phase-detection autofocus points, I almost felt bad for doing so - but our 128GB cards were filling up fast. Rishi and I have enjoyed a hands-on shooting experience with the RX100 V, and have a variety of straight-out-of-camera samples for you to peruse - we're looking forward to uploading some more samples in the near future. This camera may well be the only serious photographic tool one would ever need. To get an idea of if the Mark V is right for you, take a look through our preliminary gallery.

Note: This is a preliminary gallery that we will be adding to. All images were taken with default parameters, including default sharpening and auto white balance. All images are straight-out-of-camera JPEGs with accompanying Raw files. 

Categories: Equipment

Photokina 2016: Fujifilm Interview

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 10/07/2016 - 8:00am
Toshihisa Iida, Fujifilm's General Manager of the Sales and Marketing Group, pictured at Photokina 2016.

Fujifilm chose last month's Photokina tradeshow as the venue to launch its new flagship mirrorless camera, the medium-format GFX 50S. At the show, we sat down with Toshihisa Iida, Fujifilm's General Manager of the Sales and Marketing Group and Toru Takahashi, Director, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fujifilm's Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Divisonto talk about the 50S, and why Fujifilm chose to skip full-frame.

Please note that the following interview has been edited slightly for clarity and flow. Our questions are in bold. 

Why did Fujifilm decide to move straight from APS-C to medium-format?

Soon after we introduced the X-Pro 1 many people started asking when we would be introducing full-frame mirrorless. We said at the time we were 100% committed to the APS-C format. We thought this was the best format from the point of view of image quality, and size and portability. We started with [only] three lenses, so we needed to focus on one format, to accelerate the lens lineup. As the years went by we started thinking maybe we could start looking at a bigger format, because we had a good lens lineup, and the technologies [in our APS-C line] were maturing.

Our next move was to decide what format we should move to. And soon after Mr Takahashi came into our division we made a decision. The difference between APS-C and full-frame is too marginal, so there was no point. So we decided to go for a bigger sensor format, to show a clear differentiation from APS-C.

APS-C is more speed, more portability – that’s our X-series. And our medium-format is for ultimate image quality. But still, you know – they have the same DNA. Design, operability, color management and so on. APS-C and medium-format can co-exist and complement each other.

The new Fujifilm GFX 50S offers a 50MP medium-format sensor in an impressively small, lightweight body. 

What did your X-series users tell you that they wanted from a larger-format camera?

Firstly, they said that with the X-series they could cover around 70% of their requirements. But they needed a bigger format, for example for outdoor billboards. And sometimes they needed to crop. So they required higher resolution. The other thing is we asked about usability. Our X-series is quite unique in terms of its user interface. Because our new camera is more geared to commercial applications, we asked whether the same dials were necessary. We had a lot of conversations about this with professional photographers. The conclusion was they all asked us to keep the dial operation.

The sensor at the heart of the GFX 50S looks very familiar. Is it the same sensor that we’ve seen in other medium-format digital cameras?

First, this is a brand-new mount. Based on our experience with the X-series, we wanted to make the flange-back distance smaller, to allow the lenses to be made more compact. The challenge is how to get the light hit the sensor evenly - in the center and also at the corners. In order to achieve that we customized the microlenses. The microlenses on this sensor are optimized for the short flange-back distance of the new mount, to ensure good corner illumination. Also we optimized the silicon process. We spent a lot of time and resources on this kind of customization.

What was the logic behind not including an X-Trans filter array in this system?

The sensor format is large enough that even without X-Trans, the image quality is very good. X-Trans is good, but it’s a complex filter array. Sometimes Bayer is more straightforward, and it makes Raw processing easier.


Did you include video in the 50S just because you could, or because your customers wanted it?

It’s not 4K, of course, it’s HD. But we know that more and more photographers are shooting video and we like to offer a unique proposition. Shallow depth of field, because of the bigger format – it will be interesting to see what kind of videos [photographers capture].

What are the challenges of introducing 4K video?

Many cameras can record 4K video, but the question is what kind of 4K video. The challenges for every manufacturer are power and heat. And there are two ways minimize their impact. One way is to make the camera bigger. The second way is to make the video file smaller, by recording video from a cropped area of the frame.

We think that it’s important to pursue the ultimate in quality, so on the X-T2 for example we tried to minimize the crop factor. Some manufacturers are offering crops of 1.5 X or 1.7X. This doesn’t help photographers at all. This is a new challenge for digital cameras that integrate stills and video features.

Do you have any figures for dynamic range of this sensor, compared to APS-C?

We do, but we’re still fine-tuning.

Some of the F2 and F2.8 lenses you’ve announced will give similar depth of field to F1.4 lenses on full-frame. At that point, what advantage is there to medium-format imaging?

By the numbers, depth of field might be similar, but we think that the actual images look different. And it’s not just about depth of field. There’s wider dynamic range, and greater resolution and so on. Overall there’s a lot of benefit from using a medium-format sensor.

The GFX lens lineup will feature three lenses when the 50S hits the market in spring, with six optics in the initial roadmap. 

And presumably a larger sensor doesn’t stress the resolution of the lenses as much as a similar resolution would on APS-C?

Correct. We designed these new lenses to be future-proof. The potential resolution of these new lenses is much higher than 50MP. Our benchmark is 4700 line pairs. So the lenses can resolve at least 100MP.

How do you see the mirrorless and DSLR markets evolving within the next 2-3 years?

Probably, in 2 years time, the size of the mirrorless market will exceed the market for DSLRs, globally. Already in some asian countries the mirrorless market is bigger than DSLR.

With the launch of the EOS M5, do you think it’s a good thing that Canon is finally taking mirrorless seriously?

We always welcome competition. Because the more competition, the faster the market will realize that mirrorless is the future.

Have you seen a change in the the kinds of people who are buying mirrorless cameras?

It depends on which category. When we introduced the X-Pro1, we were attracting photographers who were more likely to be street photographers. With the X-T1, and lenses like the 10-24mm zoom we started to capture landscape photographers. And the 56mm F1.2 was attractive to portrait photographers. If you look at our XA series, its a lot of young female photographers, who buy the camera as a companion to their smartphones. So different categories attract different kinds of photographers with different requirements.

One thing we’ve noticed is that at the end of the day, all photographers are looking for the best image quality and color reproduction.

The selfie-friendly Fujifilm XA lineup is apparently very popular with female customers, particularly in Asia.

Do you expect that the majority of people who will buy a GFX 50S will be existing X-series users?

That’s a difficult question. In our experience, in our showroom in Tokyo, the ratio of new customers to existing Fujifilm users who came in to look at the X-T2 for example was around 2:1. The ratio of new customers was much higher. And I expect that the same will be true of the GFX 50S.

How important is smart device integration in your product development?

It’s very, very important. The smartphone is not the enemy, it’s a complement to a camera. And how to enable connectivity between a smart device and our cameras is very important. We will focus on making it faster, smoother. Especially in Asian countries, girls are buying our cameras to take selfies, and straight afterwards they’re sending it to their friends from their phones.

Do you have a medium-format market share target in mind for the GFX 50S?

It’s difficult to say, because we’re really targeting high-resolution 35mm DSLRs with this product. The current medium-format space is full of cameras that are too expensive, too heavy and too bulky. The current medium-format market is small. People are buying 35mm full-frame cameras [instead]. So maybe our solution will revitalize the category.

Speaking of which, one of the most active new market segments is VR imaging. Are you looking that market?

I think that VR is mainly for industrial purposes. It can be applied to the consumer market but it’s very niche. So if we’re talking about consumer imaging, I don’t think that 360 cameras have a big audience.

Editor's note:

Fujifilm has been heavily hinting that a medium-format mirrorless camera was in the works for some time, and it's a relief to finally be able to see – and touch – an actual product. In my opinion, Fujifilm's decision to side-step (or rather leap-frog) the full-frame camera market makes a lot of sense. It's much easier for the company to differentiate (and capture a larger portion of the latent interest) when it's not competing against the likes of Canon, Nikon and Sony in an increasingly crowded field. The GFX 50S will unquestionably offer superior image quality to any of the current crop of full-frame cameras, and critically speaking, it will of course be streets ahead of the company's X-series, which is optimized for speed and versatility.

Fujifilm's decision to ditch X-Trans in the 50S is interesting, but not surprising. It is undoubtedly true that the benefits of X-Trans are proportionally greater on the smaller APS-C format than they would be on a medium-format sensor, and I suspect that the additional cost and complexity of using this proprietary array in the GFX 50S might also have been a factor. In addition, Fujifilm is well aware of the criticism leveled against it from some professionals that the X-Trans array makes file handling more difficult, thanks to limited support from third-party Raw converters. And Fujifilm will need the file handling process to be as smooth as possible if it wants to appeal to studio photographers with an established workflow. 

The fact that Fujifilm apparently has no particular medium-format market share in mind for the 50S is very revealing. For now at least, it seems the company won't measure the success of this camera by how many sales it steals away from Pentax, Hasselblad, Phase One and their ilk. What Fujifilm wants is for someone considering buying a Canon EOS 5DSR or a Sony a7R II or a Nikon D810 to buy a GFX 50S instead. Especially if that person is a commercial or landscape photographer who just wants the pixels. As such, at 'well under $10,000' with a 63mm prime lens, the 50S is priced to compete against these top-flight 35mm-style cameras.

Meanwhile, well-heeled X-series photographers (and of course the many professionals who have adopted the X-series over the past few years alongside full-frame gear from other brands) now have a true flagship camera to aspire to. A camera which is capable of higher resolution and better image quality, from a brand that they trust. And unlike traditional medium-format cameras, it doesn't weigh a ton and it doesn't cost the earth. I can't wait to see what it can do. 

Categories: Equipment

Hands-on with the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 7:11pm

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

Not surprisingly, the Mark V looks a whole lot like its predecessors. It continues to use a 1"-type 20.1MP sensor (more on that in a minute) and 24-70mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 lens, and sports the same pop-up viewfinder with 2.36M-dot OLED panel as the RX100 III and IV. The big improvements are all under the hood.

Phase-detection autofocus

The RX100 V's sensor is of a similar stacked design to the Mark IV's but gains 315 phase-detection AF points covering 65% of the frame. Combined with a front-end LSI chip, the RX100 V's AF system is capable of acquiring focus in as little as 0.05 sec.

The main benefit of phase detection elements on the sensor is that they give the camera an understanding of the depth and where your subject exists in the scene. This not only means faster focus but should also allow more reliable subject tracking, since the camera has additional information to help it determine your subject and its location.

Deeper buffer

That on-sensor phase detection isn't only useful for continuous shooting but it should come into its own when the continuous AF and continuous drive are used in conjunction with one another.

The camera can continue to use PDAF even at its top full-res burst speed of an impressive 24 fps. On top of this, its buffer is now deep enough that it can keep firing away for 150 shots, even with Raw.

PDAF plus 4K

The RX100 V's 4K video mode certainly looks good on paper: the camera uses a 5028 x 2828 pixel region to create UHD video, meaning it oversamples by 1.3x in each dimension. And with faster sensor readout, there's less rolling shutter to worry about.

The ability to use phase-detection autofocus while recording 4K video is a benefit, since it reduces the risk of the camera missing focus and having to hunt (and ruining your clips in the process). Sadly, without a touchscreen it's not quite as useful as it could be.

There's still plenty to make a video enthusiast happy: a 960 fps slow motion mode (that's upscaled to 1080/30p) for up to 8 sec, 1080/120p and S-Log profiles are all here.

Look but don't touch

On that note, here's a look at the RX100 V's LCD, and multi-tasking DPR staffer Carey Rose. The 3" 1.3M-dot screen flips up to a selfie-friendly 180-degrees, and also tilts downward by 45 degrees. Like we said, it's still not a touchscreen, and that's a shame. 

Wi-Fi on board

Wi-Fi and NFC haven't gone anywhere, but you'll find a new way to initiate the connection between the camera and your mobile device: QR codes are available for those of us without NFC, or next-to-useless NFC (we're looking at you, Apple.)

Battery life

All the advancements under the hood appear to have taken a toll on battery life: the RX100 V's battery is CIPA-rated to 220 shots compared to the RX100 IV's 280 shots. Most users will of course get much better performance than that in real world use (since the testing makes more use of flash and image review than most photographers). And there is good news – the RX100 V we've been using for initial shooting has performed way over the CIPA rating. Still, an spare battery wouldn't be the worst idea with an RX100 V purchase.

New waterproof housing

Sony has also unveiled an underwater housing compatible with the entire RX100 series, called the MPK-URX100A for those keeping score at home. It's rated to a depth of 40m/130ft and includes loads of control points to access settings with the camera locked safely inside. The housing will go on sale in November for $350.

Innovation doesn't come cheap

A long feature list commands an equally impressive price tag – the Sony RX100 V will retail for $1000 when it goes on sale in October. For the moment that's the same price as the Mark IV, but it seems highly likely that its price will come down before too long.

Look for more soon on the RX100 V as we put it to work, including a sample gallery.

Categories: Equipment

Hands-on and in-depth with the Sony a6500

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 3:16pm

Sony announces Alpha 6500

Sony has announced the a6500, its top of the line APS-C E-mount mirrorless camera. It may look a lot like the a6300 but it's a higher spec (and more expensive) sister model.

It's based around the same copper-wired 24MP CMOS sensor as the a6300 but it adds several key features: most notably in-body image stabilization and touchscreen control.

An even faster Alpha

The a6500 still features the same 425 on-sensor phase detection elements as the a6300 and still shoots at at same 11 frames per second maximum burst rate, but a deeper buffer and additional processor allow it to shoot over 300 JPEG frames in a burst (or 100 frames when shooting Raw + JPEG).

The buffer and additional processing power also allow faster image review after having shot a burst, the company promises, which should avoid the frustrating 'camera busy' warnings that previous Sonys have been prone to give.

The camera's shutter mechanism has been updated and has now been tested to (though not necessarily guaranteed to) 200,000 cycles. Maximum shutter speed remains 1/4000th of a second.

5-axis in-body image stabilization

The a6500 manages to squeeze a five-axis image stabilization system into a camera that's just 5mm deeper than the a6300. The system is rated as offering 5 stops of improvement when tested to CIPA standards using a 55mm lens.

This system recognizes the presence of Sony lenses with OSS stabilization and passes responsibility for correcting pitch and yaw to the lens. Sony does not claim any additional effectiveness for this approach but we'd expect it to help maintain the 5-stop figure when using long lenses, since lens correction is able to correct for a greater degree of movement than sensor shift stabilization can.

Touchscreen focus

One of the biggest additions to the a6500 over existing models is touchscreen control. Previously reserved for the company's more point-and-shoot orientated models, the touchscreen makes it quicker to specify the AF point position (a significant frustration with the a6300).

The touchscreen is solely used to set the AF point with no option to control settings or navigate the menus.

This touch-to-focus ability extends to video mode and video focus speed can be adjusted to provide slow, smooth autofocus pulls. However, the camera won't touch-and-track in video mode: only the older 'Center Lock-On AF' system that locks onto the subject at the center of the frame is available.

Touchpad AF

Like Panasonic cameras and the recent Canon EOS M5, the a6500's touchscreen can still be used as a touchpad to specify the autofocus point when shooting through the camera's electronic viewfinder. The control of the AF point is always relative, rather than absolute, so you swipe to move the AF point from its current position, rather than touching exactly where you want it to be.

The camera lets you select whether both the touchscreen and touchpad modes are available, letting you disengage the touch sensitivity if you only want to use it with the camera to your eye or only want it active when using the rear LCD.

There's also the option to disable either the right or left-hand side of the touchscreen, to avoid accidental nose focus, depending on whether you shoot left or right eyed. The touchpad can again be set to disable when you turn the camera into the portrait orientation.

Revised menus

In addition to the touchscreen, Sony has made several other adjustments to the camera's operation and control.

The menus have been rearranged to cluster related features together and are now color-coded to make it easier to recognize and remember where a setting lives.

In addition the camera gains a second custom button on the top plate, taking the total number of customizable function buttons to 10.

4K Video

The a6500 offers the same UHD 4K capabilities as the a6300. It can shoot 4K/25p and 24p from the full width of its sensor, meaning 1.56x oversampling in each dimension. This gives very highly detailed footage, compared to taking a 'native' crop from the sensor. 30p 4K is taken from a smaller crop.

Sony has said nothing about changes in thermal management, so it's likely the camera won't be able to shoot for the full 29 minutes in warm conditions or similarly long clips back-to-back. However, with the latest firmware, we haven't encountered overheating as a problem if you're shooting clips to edit together, so it's only extended shooting that's likely to be a problem.

We're more concerned about any interaction between the camera's fairly high levels of rolling shutter and the movement of its 5-axis image stabilization system. Stabilized 4K video could be a hugely valuable capability of the camera but we'll wait to see the footage before getting too excited.

Video capabilities

Like the a6300, the a6500 has a built-in mic socket but no headphone port for audio monitoring.

It also continues to offer the in-depth 'Picture Profile' video response modes including ITU 709 and both S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves. The camera records internally at up to 100Mbps for 4K recording and requires you us a U3-rated UHS-I card. It's happy to record to either SDXC or SDHC cards.

Internal recording is 8-bit 4:2:0 while HDMI out is 8-bit 4:2:2.

In summary

The a6500 is a very well specced camera: 5-axis stabilization, 11 fps shooting with AF, 4K UHD video capture with S-Log options, a comprehensive AF tracking system, weather-sealed body...

There are still a few things missing, though. Although the camera includes two command dials (one on the shoulder, one on the rear face of the camera), it has the same drawbacks as the a6300: both need to be controlled with the thumb. Worse still, it's likely that you'll have to shift your grip on the camera to reach from one to the other.

Still, the addition of a touchscreen and an even greater level of customization over the controls should give quick access to most of the features you need to change in-the-moment.

There's a price to be paid for these additional capabilities, though. The a6500 will sell for around $1400 or €1700 in Europe. As always, bear in mind the European price is likely to include VAT whereas the US price is usually quoted without sales tax. This makes it 40% more expensive than the a6300's list price and over twice the launch price of the more modest a6000.

So, while the technologies and capabilities of these three models are very different, the visual similarities risk causing customer confusion.

Categories: Equipment

Bowens introduces Generation X studio and portable flash heads with TTL radio control

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 2:58pm

UK flash manufacturer Bowens will use the PhotoPlus Expo to launch its new range of Generation X flash heads in the USA. The new range has a completely new design and features a portable model that is powered by an in-body rechargeable battery.

There are four heads in the new range: the XMT 500, XMS 500, XMS 750 and XMS 1000, all of which offer radio controlled triggering and control via new on-camera transceiver XMSR Trigger. The XMS mono-block heads are designed for indoor and in-studio use while the XMT 500 takes a removable lithium ion cell that the company claims delivers up to 500 full power bursts per charge. This portable head also offers TTL control for Canon, Nikon and Sony users.

All of the new heads have a high speed sync mode that allows shutter speeds as short a 1/8000sec, and the XMSR radio remote allows such high speed shooting with any brand of camera. The XMT 500 has a minimum flash duration of 1/10,309sec, and the XMS heads have shortest durations of 1/5180sec, 1/4800sec and 1/4400sec, which makes them all suitable for freezing action and moving subjects.

The XMS 500 has 7 stops of adjustable power, while the XMS 750 and XMS 1000 offer 8 stops. The XMT can manage 9 stops and has a lowest output of just 2Ws. The battery-operated head has recycle times of between 0.01 and 2 seconds, and the XMS 1000 can also recover from a full power burst in 2 seconds. Bowens claims each of the heads has a flash-to-flash consistency of +/-30°K and +/-0.05 stops.

Bowens is particularly proud of a new adjustment lever that allows the heads to be tilted very quickly without the user having to wind open a bolt. The new lever just flips open to allow the angle of the head to be adjusted and then flips back to lock the head in position.

XMT 500            $1,799.99/£1199
XMS 500            $1,099.99/£799
XMS 750            $1,299.99/£899
XMS 1000          $1,499.99/£999
XMSR Trigger    $ 289.99

For more information see the Bowens website.

Press release

Bowens Launches Game Changing Generation X Flash Range

Upper Saddle River, N.J. (October 5, 2016) – Manfrotto Distribution, Inc., distributor of Bowens products in the United States, proudly announces the launch of the new Generation X flash range by Bowens. These innovative units will debut in the U.S. at PhotoPlus Expo in New York City later this month and mark a renaissance for the legacy lighting manufacturer.

Generation X comprises two new flash systems: XMT – an all-in-one battery unit for location lighting and XMS – engineered to be the go-to system for photographers who need a function-rich and completely reliable flash in the studio.

Announcing the launch, David Hollingsworth, Marketing Manager, said, “Generation X is just the first step in relaunching Bowens to the imaging world. These barrier-breaking new products combine state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge design and are the result of many months of very intense market research and product development. They will be the vanguard of our plans for ongoing and regular new unit roll-outs in coming months and years.”

Added Hollingsworth, “We believe these are simply the best lights in their class available on the market today. New-look Bowens is creating beautifully designed and engineered products, tailored to our customers’ needs.”

John Gass, Technical Director said, “Generation X is the result of highly-focused analysis of our customers’ feedback through the years. These new units are revolutionary products which we believe are absolutely unbeatable in their class in terms of functionality, aesthetics and cost.”

He added, “For decades, customers have frequently described our products as ‘workhorses’ in the studio and on location. Now the workhorse has been transformed into a stallion; we tested the XMS at full power every five seconds over consecutive days and we couldn’t force this product to overheat.”

Generation X – at a glance:
The all-new 500Ws XMT boasts TTL and high speed sync functionality (up to 1/8000s) compatible with Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras: 9-stops of flash power adjustment; flash durations as short as 1/10309s: faster recycle times than ever before (as rapid as 0.01s): easy swap lithium-ion battery provides up to 500 full power flashes per charge: rear curtain sync; sync delay and strobe mode allow creative set-ups on the move.

The XMS, available in 500,750 and 1000Ws models (all fully controllable via the XMSR 2.4 Ghz radio control and trigger) features multi-voltage operation. These units offer outstanding specification with faster recycling times and flash durations. The XMSR model includes groundbreaking Bowens ‘Sync Offset’ functionality, enabling photographers to embrace any brand of camera to shoot at high sync speeds – up to 1/8000s.

The following models will be available this fall:
XMT 500 $1,799.99
XMS 500 $1,099.99
XMS 750 $1,299.99
XMS 1000 $1,499.99
XMSR Trigger $ 289.99

For additional information or to learn more about Bowens products, visit: https://www.manfrotto.us/bowens.

Categories: Equipment

Fujifilm X-Pro2 firmware 2.0 adds focus points, improves PDAF accuracy

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 2:37pm

Fujifilm has released firmware v 2.0 for the Fuji X-Pro2, bringing many tweaks, changes and bug fixes to the company's flagship APS-C camera. Among the changes is an increase in the number of focus points to 325, as well as improved phase detection autofocus accuracy via the X-T2’s AF algorithm, improved AF tracking in Continuous L burst rate shooting in AF-C mode, the addition of support for the EF-X500 shoe mount flash, new 15/30 second and 1 minute time options for ‘Auto Power Off,’ and improved optical image stabilization when using the electronic shutter.

The full firmware 2.0 changelog:

  • 1. The NUMBER OF THE FOCUS POINT has increased.(*) The options available are 91 POINTS(7x13) and 325 POINTS(13x25) on the NUMBER OF THE FOCUS POINT of the AF/MF SETTING in the Shooting Menu.
  • 2. Improvement of phase detection AF accuracy. By employing the new AF algorithm used in the X-T2, the AF accuracy has been improved.
  • 3. AF tracking function has been improved when CONTINUOUS L in the AF-C mode.
  • 4. In AF-C mode, AE function will work while pressing the shutter button halfway.
  • 5. AF tracking function works while CONTINUOUS shooting in the AF-C mode with the Electronic Shutter.
  • 6. AF tracking function works while CONTINUOUS H shooting in the AF-C mode instead of zone AF.
  • 7. STILL IMAGE(single frame shooting) is available when CONTINUOUS L in the AF-C mode.
  • 8. The focus point of Eye Detection AF has been changed to the eye closer to the camera.
  • 9. Compatibility with the Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500.(*) Additional functions like the multi-flash lighting, high-speed flash sync and so on can be used with the EF-X500. Accordingly, the FLASH SETTING and the Shooting Menu is dramatically changed.
  • 10. The items that can be assigned to the Quick Menu have changed.(*) FLASH FUNCTION SETTINGS and FLASH COMPENSATION have been added due to the compatibility with the Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500.
  • 11. The roles that can be assigned to the Function buttons have changed.(*) FLASH FUNCTION SETTINGS, TTL-LOCK and MODELING FLASH have been added due to the compatibility with the Shoe Mount Flash EF-X500.
  • 12. Addition of AUTO POWER SAVE.(*) AUTO POWER SAVE option has been added to the POWER MANAGEMENT of the Setup Menu. Select ON to save the power consumption and make the battery life longer.
  • 13. Addition of setting time in AUTO POWER OFF.(*) 15 SEC, 30 SEC and 1 MIN have been added to the AUTO POWER OFF of the POWER MANAGEMENT in the Setup Menu.
  • 14. S.S OPERATION option has been added to BUTTON/DIAL SETTING in the Setup Menu.(*) Select OFF to disable the shutter-speed fine-tuning using the command dials.
  • 15. Change of the CORRECTED AF FRAME in the OVF.(*) Specification of the CORRECTED AF FRAME of AF/MF SETTING in the Shooting Menu has been changed. OFF: The frame moves according to parallax to show the focus point. ON: The CORRECTED AF FRAME in the OVF is fixed on the recommended value described in the Owner's manual. If the minimum focus range of the attached lens is greater than the recommended value, the frame is displayed on the position of the minimum focus range. *Upgrade the firmware of the lenses after the firmware of the camera is upgraded.
  • 16. The phenomenon is fixed that in rare cases the magnification of the OVF doesn't switch appropriately when a lens is changed.
  • 17. The bright frame movement in the OVF has become more smoothly while zooming in and out.
  • 18. OIS function has been improved while using Electronic Shutter.
  • 19. The phenomenon is fixed that in rare cases frames of live view on a smartphone drop while using the application software "FUJIFILM Camera Remote".
  • 20. The phenomenon is fixed that exposure sometimes doesn't change appropriately in Aperture Priority AE while using an M MOUNT ADAPTER.
Categories: Equipment

Sony takes the wraps off of its Alpha a6500

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:32am

Breaking news: Sony has taken the wraps off of its new Alpha a6500 mirrorless camera at an event in New York City. Our own Carey Rose and Rishi Sanyal are reporting live and we'll be updating this story frequently, so keep refreshing this page!

The a6500 is now the company's top-end APS-C camera, sitting above the a6300. It maintains the 425 on-sensor PDAF points but gains a faster (LSI) processor to allow high speed operation. Sony also promises improved processing at high ISO settings, thanks to this new processor.

The camera gains 5-axis image stabilization which continues to work in both stills and video.

It also gains a touchscreen for faster operation. The rear screen works as a touchpad if you're holding the camera to your eye.

The buffer has been significantly increased, allowing the camera to shoot at 11 frames per second for over 200 frames.

It can shoot 4K video much like the a6300 but with the touchscreen allowing touch-to-pull-focus. The AF drive speed during video shooting can be controlled for smooth focus transitions. We're waiting to hear whether the more powerful processing capabilities help with rolling shutter.

The a6500 will be available for $1400/€1700 in the end of November and December for the US and EU, respectively.

Categories: Equipment

Sony announces Cyber-shot RX100 Mark V with 315 phase-detection AF points

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 10:14am

Breaking news: Sony has announced the latest version of its RX100 series: the Mark V. Our own Rishi Sanyal and Carey Rose are reporting live from Sony's event in NYC, so check back frequently for the latest information!

 The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V offers what Sony calls 'professional level AF performance' in the form of a new sensor with 315 phase-detection AF points over 65% of the frame, claiming the world's fastest AF speed at 0.05 seconds. It offers 24 fps shooting at full 20.1MP resolution with autofocus and auto exposure for up to 150 frames for JPEG + Raw. Sony has added a more powerful processing chip, along with a large buffer to cope with the data coming off the sensor.

The Mark V's video is also improved. It creates UHD 4K from a 5028 x 2828 pixel region. This means it oversamples by 1.3x in each dimension (1.7x overall), to give highly detailed 4K footage. The camera maintains the ability to use its phase detection AF during video shooting. 960fps slow motion is available with twice the recording duration of the RX100 IV – up to 8 seconds of 40x slow motion. An anti-distortion shutter is available up to 1/32000sec, and silent shutter is available even for 24fps burst shooting.

The camera's 3" 1229k-dot LCD tilts a full 180 degrees upward and 45 degrees downward. It retains a pop-up viewfinder, with a 2359k-dot OLED panel. Wi-Fi is available as expected, with the added benefit of being able to read QR codes to help make a wireless connection when NFC isn't an option. A new underwater case is available, compatible with the entire RX100 series and making it possible to use the camera up to 40m underwater.

 It will be available in October for $1000/€1200.

Categories: Equipment

iPhone 7 real-world sample gallery

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 10/06/2016 - 7:00am

The iPhone 7 lacks the dual camera modules of its iPhone 7 Plus sibling, but it still offers plenty of imaging features. It includes a 12MP sensor with optical image stabilization, 4K video recording and thanks to iOS 10, Raw image capture. We've already posted a preliminary iPhone 7 Plus gallery, but not wanting to neglect the iPhone 7, we went spent some time getting to know its sibling too.

See our iPhone 7 real-world sample gallery

Categories: Equipment