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Equipment

Ultimate OM-D: Olympus E-M1 Mark II Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 10:13am

Olympus' OM-D EM-1 has been one of our favorite mirrorless cameras since its introduction in 2013. It impressed us with its build quality, image quality, ridiculous amount of manual control (that's a compliment) and boatload of features. Three years later, it's still very competitive.

To say that Olympus has topped itself with the E-M1 Mark II is an understatement. The company told us that this camera was overdeveloped, and it shows. Its blazing dual quad-core processors allow for 60 fps burst shooting (18 fps w/continuous autofocus) and ridiculously fast image playback. Combine that with one of the most advanced autofocus systems we've seen and 5-axis in-body image stabilization – along with what made the original so impressive – and the Mark II is a force to be reckoned with.

One thing about the Mark II that makes us pause is its price. Its MSRP of $2000 is higher than that of Nikon's D500 and full-frame D750 (both are $1800), and the Mark II's Four Thirds is small in comparison to the D500 and other APS-C cameras and tiny versus full-framers. 

Key Specifications
  • 20MP Live MOS sensor
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization system
  • 121-pt hybrid AF system
  • 60 fps burst shooting (18 fps with continuous AF)
  • Fully articulating 3" LCD display
  • High-res electronic viewfinder
  • Cinema (DCI) and UHD 4K video
  • 50MP High-Res Shot mode
  • Weather-sealed body
  • USB 3 (Type-C)

Compared to Olympus E-M1 and Nikon D500

We are including the D500 here since it's target audience is in the same vein: those who want high-speed shooting and an advanced AF system. As mentioned above, they both have a similar MSRP.

  Olympus E-M1 II Olympus E-M1 Nikon D500
Sensor 20MP Four Thirds 16MP Four Thirds 21MP APS-C
ISO range (expanded) 64-25,600 100-25,600 50-1,640,000
Image stabilization In-body (up to 5.5 stops*) In-body (up to 4 stops) Lens only
Autofocus system 121-point hybrid 81-point hybrid 153-pt phase-detect
Burst mode (electronic) 60 fps (AF-S)
18 fps (AF-C)
11 fps (AF-S) N/A
Burst mode (mechanical) 15 fps 10 fps (AF-S, no IS)
6.5 fps (AF-C)
10 fps
LCD 3" fully articulating touchscreen 3" tilting touchscreen 3.2" tilting touchscreen
Viewfinder 2.36M-dot EVF (0.65x equiv. mag) Optical
(0.67x equiv. mag)
Flash GN 9.1 external GN 7 external None
Video capture DCI/UHD 4K (237Mbps) 1080/30p (24Mbps) UHD 4K (144Mbps)
Video output 4:2:2 over HDMI N/A 4:2:2 over HDMI
I/O ports Headphone, mic, remote, flash sync, USB 3, HDMI Mic, remote, USB, HDMI Headphone, mic, remote, flash sync, USB 3, HDMI
Storage Dual SD (UHS-II/UHS-I) SD (UHS-I) SD + XQD
Wireless Yes Yes Yes, with Bluetooth and NFC
Weather-sealed Yes Yes Yes
Battery life (CIPA) 440 shots 350 shots 1,240 shots
Dimensions 134 x 91 x 69mm 130 x 94 x 63mm 147 x 115 x 81mm
Weight (CIPA) 574g 497g 760g

* 6.5 stops with Olympus 12-100mm lens

Accessories

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At the time of its launch Olympus also debuted a number of accessories to go along with the E-M1 Mark II. The one most people will likely purchase is the HLD-9 battery grip ($249), which doubles battery life and offers two control dials and two custom buttons. It also features a DC-in jack, so the battery can be charged right inside the grip via an outrageously priced AC adapter.

Also available is the powerful FL-900R external flash ($299), which has a guide number of 58m, built-in video lamp, wireless control and the ability to fire at 10 fps. The STF-8 Macro Flash Set ($479) has fully adjustable (and removable) left and right flashes, manual control down to 1/128 power and support for focus stacking. Both of these flashes are weather-sealed.

For those who want to take the camera underwater there's the PT-EP14 housing ($1299). It works down to 65m/196ft and numerous brackets, weights and arms are available. Naturally, you'll need a housing for whatever lens you attach.

Categories: Equipment

2016 Roundup: Best Camera Drones Under $1500

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 7:00am

The past few years have seen an explosion in the popularity of drones, and they're being used for everything from video production to aerial panoramas. It's an exciting time to dive into this technology.

Drones can be expensive, but there are good values to be had, even under $1500. In fact, some of the models in this round-up have been used for prize-winning photography as well as for major feature films.

Before buying a drone, think about how you intend to use it. Some are better for video, while others may be better for pictures. Some still photographers prefer to shoot with 4K video and 'frame grab.' As with any tool it's about picking what's right for you.

One thing to remember is that specifications are designed to catch your eye. But remember, as with any camera, it’s not all about a single specification; it's about combining the features and specifications that matter most to you and meet your needs.

In addition to core specs, many drones have features such as 'follow-me' or subject tracking modes that can be used to make operation easier, or even automate shots. For instance, if you want to shoot video but have a difficult time orbiting, spiraling, or doing a fly-by pan while keeping your subject in frame, these features can be an immense help (if they work properly). Also, consider how easy a drone is to fly. The guidance system and stability of the drone will help determine this.

It's a crowded market and there are a lot of drones available for under $1500, but we'll take a look at some of the most common models you're likely to run into:

Finally, we'll try to help answer the question "Which drone should I buy?"

Categories: Equipment

Announcing the PDN Gift Guide 2016

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 11/23/2016 - 4:00am

Our friends at Photo District News just published their annual Gift Guide, including gift ideas from the reviews team here at DPReview. Alongside our personal recommendations, you'll find contributions from the team at PDN, and Rangefinder Magazine.

So whether you're shopping for a special photographer in your life, or just as an end of year treat to yourself (we won't tell anyone), this guide is a great place to get some inspiration.

Categories: Equipment

Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Lens Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 4:21pm

The Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art was first announced September 16th, 2016. This is Sigma's widest zoom lens offering to date and joins Sigma's growing list of Art lenses. The lens is priced at just under $1600, which makes it a fierce competitor to Canon's EF 11-24mm F4L USM lens which is priced at just under $3,000.

The Sigma is available in Canon, Nikon F (FX) and Sigma SA Bayonet mounts and will most likely appeal to landscape and architecture photographers that are looking for an extremely wide field-of-view (12mm gives around a 122° diagonal field of view).

The looming question is: does the extreme difference in price effect the build quality and performance of the Sigma? In this review we will be looking at the Sigma's performance and just how it stacks up against the Canon 11-24mm F4L.

APS-C

If you're an APS-C shooter, the Sigma can be utilized on that platform with an equivalent focal length of 19-38mm and an equivalent aperture of F6.4. It's worth noting however that Sigma already offers a considerably less expensive 10-20mm F3.5 which would be a 16-32mm F5.6 equivalent, which would be a much better wide-angle option. For this reason we're not going to consider this lens for use on APS-C in this review.

Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Headline Features

  • 12-24mm focal length
  • F4 maximum aperture
  • Ring-type Ultrasonic Focusing
  • Available in Canon EF, Nikon F (FX) and Sigma mounts

Specifications Compared

  Sigma 12-24mm F4 DG HSM Art Canon EF 11-24mm F4L USM
Price (MSRP) $1,599.00 $2,999.00
Lens Type Wide-Angle Zoom Wide-Angle Zoom 
Focal Length 12-24mm 11-24mm
Filter Thread  None None (rear insert-type)
Image Stabilization No No
Lens Mount Canon, Nikon F (FX), Sigma SA Bayonet Canon EF
Aperture Ring No No
Maximum Aperture F4  F4 
Minimum Aperture F22 F22
Minimum Focus 0.24 m (9.45″) 0.28m (11")
Diaphragm Blades   9 (rounded) 9 (rounded)
Elements   16 16
Groups   11 11
Special Elements/Coatings Super Multi-Layer Coating, F-Low Dispersion and aspherical elements, including an 80mm large-diameter molded glass aspherical element

Super UD, UD, and 4 Aspherical Elements, SWC, Air Sphere, and Fluorine Coatings, Rear element fluorine coatings

Autofocus Yes Yes
Motor Type Ring-type Hypersonic Ultrasonic
Full Time Manual Yes Yes
Focus Method Internal Internal
Distance Scale  Yes Yes
DoF Scale No No
Weather Sealing  Dust and Splash Proof Construction with rear rubber gasket Full Weather Sealing
Zoom Method  Rotary (extending) Rotary (internal)
Weight 1151g (2.54 lb) 1180g (2.60 lb)
Dimensions 132mm (5.2") x 102mm (4.0") 132 mm (5.2″) x 108 mm (4.25″)
Hood Included Yes (built in) Yes (built in)

The Sigma and the Canon share a rather large number of the same features with respect to lens design. The main differences between the two lenses are highlighted in green. The Canon has a slight edge over the Sigma in terms of build quality with full weather sealing, where the Sigma offers a 'moisture resistant' rubber gasket on the lens mount and water-repellent coatings on the front and rear lens elements.

Both lenses are very heavy and are nearly identical in size and shape, and both feature built-in lens hoods. Neither lens accepts standard screw type filters, but the Canon has a slot to accept rear gel filters. The Sigma has that familiar Art build that feels very robust in hand but lacks the same 'sealed' feeling that the Canon lens provides due to its water resistant external construction.

The Canon has a slight advantage over the Sigma in terms of the zoom method as the Sigma has an external extending zoom whereas the Canon's is internal. Being that the Sigma isn't fully weather sealed this could be a weak point in the design in terms of moisture penetrating the lens during adverse or wet weather conditions. 

With these specifications in mind, we will now be looking at how well the Sigma performs to determine how it fairs in our head-to-head comparison with the Canon 11-24mm F4L. 

Categories: Equipment

Godox launches mini radio flash unit for Sony mirrorless cameras

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 2:52pm

Flash and accessory manufacturer Godox has announced a new small flash unit that it says is designed to go with the Sony mirrorless range of cameras. The Godox TT350S features 2.4GHz radio control and TTL exposure metering, and offers a guide number of 36m@ISO 100. The company says that the unit is compatible with the Sony a7R II, a7R, as well as the a58 and a77ll SLT cameras. Some RX models are also able to pair with the unit.

The radio controlled system allows the TT350S to work alongside other Godox radio flash units and studio heads, and the flash can operate as a master or slave in multiple-head set-ups. Three groups are programmed into the control system along with 16 channels, while the maximum working range is said to be 30m. High speed sync is provided via an HSS mode that can work with shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 sec, and the unit can be switched from TTL to manual operation to make use of 22 output levels from 1/128th power. An automatically zooming head covers focal lengths of 24-105mm, and a hinge allows the head to tilt but not to swivel.

The TT350S is powered by two AA batteries which the company claims should be good for 210 full power bursts. There is no official pricing yet, but one UK ebay seller is offering pre-orders for £73 and says delivery is expected early January.

For more information about the TT350S visit the Godox website.

Categories: Equipment

Sony a7 II firmware version 3.30 now available

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 1:51pm

Sony has released firmware version 3.30 for the Sony a7 II camera. The update is a very small one, improving the amount of light at the edge of images taken when using the flash.

The features and improvements added by the previous update, version 3.20, remain:

  • Adds support for the Radio-controlled Lighting System
  • New lenses are supported.
  • Phase-detection AF is supported
  • The lens name will be correctly recorded in the EXIF
  • The AF can be used in movie recording mode with the SEL85F14GM
  • Adds the 14-bit uncompressed RAW format option
  • Adds Phase-detection AF support for A-mount Lens Adaptor LA-EA3 (LA-EA1)
  • Adds a MOVIE button custom key settings that can be assigned for the movie recording function
  • Improves camera function and provides picture improvement for the new lenses (SEL35F14Z, SEL24240, SEL28F20, SEL90M28G)
  • Provides enhanced image stabilization system in half-pressing the shutter, in Focus Magnifier, in movie recording, and other functions

The Sony a7 II version 3.30 firmware can be downloaded now from Sony's website.

Categories: Equipment

Action-packed: Sony a6500 First Impressions

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 7:00am

Sony a6500 First Impressions

by Dan Bracaglia

ISO 200, 1/3200 sec at F4. Shot using the 70-200mm F2.8 G Master lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

I spent two and a half days shooting in Austin, Texas with the Sony a6500 on a Sony-sponsored press trip. This was the first time most journalists, including myself, had got a chance to put hands on the camera, let alone shoot with it. One of my favorite things about these trips is getting to talk to other writers to see how their experiences with the camera compare. While specific opinions on the a6500 varied, there was one aspect of the camera everyone seemed to agree on: the touchscreen on the a6500 is a letdown.

Of course the addition of a touchscreen is not the only thing the a6500 has going for it, the camera also receives 5-axis in-body image stabilization, new menus, a deeper buffer and front-end LSI (which stands for Large Scale Integration - basically an additional chip providing more processing power). Not to mention it retains the 425-point on-sensor PDAF system, the same viewfinder, the same video specification and the same 8 fps burst rate (with Sony's implementation of live view) as its mid-range sibling, the a6300 (11 fps with no live view).

Usability and speed

ISO 6400, 1/1000 sec at F2.2. Shot using the 85mm F1.4 G Master lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

We spent the first day shooting all sorts of fast action subjects, including basketball. I've shot a lot of college basketball games in my life (close 100) but this was the first time shooting a game using a mirrorless camera. And you know what? I really enjoyed it! I mainly stuck to the 'wide' AF area, though occasionally switched to the 'Flexible Spot-M' option. In both cases my hit rate was just as good as when using a sports-oriented DSLR: nearly all my shots were in focus! 

I found the responsiveness of the shutter, from the time I pressed it, to the time the photo was taken, near instantaneous. And following the action at 8 fps was no problem, I didn't notice any EVF lag (I switched the EVF refresh rate from it default of 60 fps to 120 fps).

"My hit rate was just as good as when using a sports-oriented DSLR."

In the two days with the camera, Sony managed to cram in not only an opportunity to shoot basketball, but the chance to also shoot skateboarding, tennis, rodeo, lacrosse, live music and flying disk dogs. In each scenario, I walked away impressed with the hit rate. Simply put, for action photography the a6500's AF system, fast burst rate and a deep buffer make it a very tempting/capable choice.

This image was part of a 50+ photo burst. ISO 6400, 1/3200 sec at F4. Shot using the 85mm F1.4 G Master lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

Furthermore, while shooting long bursts, I almost never encountered a 'Writing to memory card, unable to operate' error screen, which is a breath of fresh air having used the a6300. Even after shooting a burst of 50 or so Raw+JPEG files, I was able to hit the playback button and see the most recent image to clear the buffer. The a6500 also features a buffer countdown in the upper left corner so that users know how many images are left before it's fully cleared.

New Menu

Sony makes some of the most technically capable cameras on the market but the user experience has always been a bit rough around the edges. Of course many folks, by dedicating the time to learn and work around Sony's peculiarities, they are able to tolerate any U.I. shortcomings and get the most out of these cameras. But for the rest of us, picking up a Sony for the first time can feel confusing, frustrating and uninspiring.

Menu heads are now color-coded and there is a dedicated video menu.

The a6500, with its new menu system and faster processing is a major step in the right direction for overall usability. Menu heads are color-coded and there is now a separate video menu. But there is no 'My Menu' style option for customizing a menu page, something offered by most other camera makers. To some degree, we'd have just preferred a customizable menu over Sony's reorganization, to collate most-used menu items that still remain unassignable to the camera's Fn menu.

On a positive note, I encountered far fewer error screens than I'm used to when shooting with a Sony. Still, I did occasionally hit one. And there is nothing worse than trying to dial in a setting only to encounter an 'Invalid operation,' screen. Hey Sony, instead of tossing up an error, why not make a suggestion so that users know what settings to change to avoid more error messages (and include direct access to the setting that needs changing)?

The touchscreen

I had super high hopes going into this shooting experience that the a6500's touchscreen was going to be awesome. It's not. I owned an LG Dare cellphone in 2008 and the a6500's touch implementation reminds me of that. It's unresponsive when tapping and laggy when dragging one's finger. Not only that, the touchscreen cannot be used for anything other than moving AF points and flipping through images in playback. How silly is that? Numerous times I found myself hitting the Fn.menu button and then tapping one of the icons on the screen, only for nothing to happen.

Furthermore, the a6500 is a premium camera with a premium price point, but only one top plate control dial. A touchscreen is the perfect answer to a lack of physical control points, but by limiting its use, Sony shot themselves in the foot.

"The touchscreen on the a6500 is the one feature of this camera that does not feel up to par with everything else."

Still, its encouraging to see touch capability make its way into this line of camera. No doubt Sony knows how to make a decent touchscreen: it manufactures smartphones for crying out loud, so here's hoping the next generation actually nails the touchscreen. Because the touchscreen on the a6500 is the one feature of this camera that does not feel up to par with everything else.

It's not completely without merit though. I quite enjoyed using the flip-out screen at the skatepark we visited to get super low angles and the touchscreen allowed me to easily choose my point of focus. Still, the focus squares can be difficult to see in very bright or very dim light.

ISO 640, 1/1600 sec at F5.6. Shot using the Somny 10-18mm F4 lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

Using the touchscreen as an AF touchpad was also a disappointing experience. The responsiveness is not fast enough, the points are hard to see and there is a noticeable delay when dragging one's finger around (pretty much the same experience as just using the touchscreen).

There are three touchpad area modes: 'Whole Screen,' 'Right 1/2 Area' and 'Right 1/4 Area.' The 'area' refers to which portion of the screen will activate touchpad AF and are meant to help avoid accidentally changing one's AF point with say, your nose. When using 'Right 1/2 Area' for instance, only the upper half of the right side of the screen will engage the touchpad. And when using 'Right 1/4 area' only the upper quarter of the right side of the screen will engage the touchpad. Honestly, I was hard put to tell the difference between 'Whole Screen' and 'Right 1/2 Area.' Also when I put the camera in 'Right 1/4 Area' I found it nearly impossible to get the touchscreen to work at all!

I also found it pretty difficult, though possible, to use touchpad AF when shooting through my left eye. There is an option to turn the touchpad off when shooting vertically, so as to not change one's AF point with their nose. But seeing how unresponsive the touchscreen is, I never ran into this issue. I guess that's one plus of the lack of responsiveness. Users can choose whether to just use the touchscreen, just the touchpad, both or neither.

Using the Touchscreen during video capture

Like all Sonys, the 'Lock-on AF' area modes are greyed-out when shooting video. And as such, there is no intuitive way to tap-to-track when recording video. You can track (though not tap) by assigning a button to toggle 'Center Lock-on AF' on and off. But shooting video this way is pretty annoying as you must wait until your subject is dead center to begin tracking. Also the 'Center Lock-on AF' option seems to use an older tracking algorithm.

In the 'Wide' AF area mode, if you tap the screen, it turns on something called 'Spot AF,' which just maintains focus on the chosen point. Based on this video by cinema5D, I'm convinced there is some way to use touch-to-track in video mode. I have a hunch that if you turn 'Spot AF' off in the menu and tap the screen, it may engage tracking. I'll have to wait until we get the camera into the office to confirm this, but either way, engaging tap-to-track in video mode is far from intuitive and the exclusion of lock-on AF area modes in video is inexcusable at this point.

Image Stabilization

ISO 3200 1/2 sec at F4.5. Shot using the 24mm F1.8 Zeiss lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

It's exciting to see image stabilization make its way into Sony's APS-C mirrorless line. Initial impressions using image stabilization to shoot stills are positive. The above image was shot at 1/2 sec using the 24mm F1.8 lens. Ordinarily I could probably hold a shot steady, with no IS, down to about 1/30, maybe on a good day, 1/25 sec. So right there we're seeing a nearly 4-stop advantage using IS at a normal-ish equiv. focal length.

Using IS while recording video made it easier to shoot hand-held at wide to normal focal lengths, like in the clip above. However at longer focal lengths the IS system is very jumpy. You can see an example of that in the clip below.

Having just finished testing video IS on both the Panasonic FZ2500 and Panasonic G85, I'm not all the impressed with the Sony's video IS performance. Of course both the cameras mentioned use smaller sensor, which in theory should be easier to move around. But more to the point, those cameras offer something the a6500 does not: an option to combine mechanical IS with electronic (digital) IS. Although digital IS tends to slightly crop (and then upscale) footage and therefore costs some image quality, it can lead to impressively glidecam-esque footage.

Physical Improvements over the a6300

The a6500 (left) features two top plate custom keys and toothier dials compared to the a6300. The battery door on the a6500 (left) has also been redesigned. It seems less flimsy than that on the a6300. The camera also gains a deeper grip.

The a6500 gains some very minor physical improvements over the more basic model, including an additional top plate custom function (C2) button. The C1 button has moved to the top shelf, and is now eminently more usable than the one that provided almost no haptic feedback on the a6300. A comfier grip, more similar to that offered on the a7 II models. The control and mode dial also have a nicer tooth to them and the bottom battery door has been redesigned and now feels more secure.

The Takeaway

Make no mistake, the Sony a6500 is a very good camera. It's lightweight, fast and capable. Still, I can't help but think Sony may have benefited holding off on the release to spend more time refining it. After all, it is the company's top tier APS-C mirrorless offering (this despite one top plate control dial). Because some aspects of the camera operation just feel unrefined.

For instance, when shooting 4K video, the screen automatically dims. There is no way to use the 'Sunny Weather' option: it's simply greyed out. This makes the a6500 nearly impossible to use in bright sunlight while shooting 4K video with the LCD. And I'm told the reason is to mitigate overheating, which seems like a thoughtless fix to a known issue, and one that creates a new issue entirely. 

I always close with a rock and roll shot: ISO 1600, 1/800 sec at F2.2. Shot using the 85mm F1.4 G Master lens. JPEG edited to taste in Adobe Lightroom.

The image stabilization is useful when shooting stills, but initial impressions in video mode have us less impressed. The new LSI processor goes a long way to making the a6500 a more usable camera than the a6300. The buffer depth, while we have yet to fully max it out, is impressive. And the camera does not lock users out of settings while the buffer clears. The new menus are also a step in the right direction. Still, there is room for improvement in terms of organization of items and adding a customizable page.

Two days shooting with it proved to me that the a6500 is the most usable Sony APS-C camera on the market and certainly a refinement over the mid-level a6300. I was impressed at how capable it is for sports and action (almost no noticeable EVF lag) and it can certainly capture some lovely-looking 4K video (just watch out for rolling shutter). But the touchscreen, one of the main things you get for the extra $400 over the a6300, is simply not good enough. And for that reason I didn't love the a6500, but I did like it.

Categories: Equipment

LensRentals tests the Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 FL ED

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 11/22/2016 - 4:00am
Sarah McAlexander, Lensrentals.com, 2016

Our friends at LensRentals have acquired a supply of Nikon's new 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED AF-S VR. Nikon's PR department has been making big claims about this third generation of its workhorse zoom, so Roger Cicala et al. have done us all a kindness by putting it on their optical bench and publishing the results. 

While he finds a bit of sharpness gained at the wide and long end of the range, Cicala is most impressed with performance at 135mm, calling it 'night and day' compared to its predecessor. 

Take a look at the full blog post for all of the test results, and yes – even a comparison against Canon's 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM.

Categories: Equipment

Manfrotto launches stylish Windsor Collection bags

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:31pm

Manfrotto has launched its new Windsor Collection, a series of camera bags including the Windsor Backpack, Windsor Messenger (small and medium sizes) and the Windsor Reporter. All four bags are designed to carry camera gear in ‘flawless style,’ with the backpack being the largest of the bunch and the Messenger S bag being the smallest.

The Manfrotto Windsor Backpack can accommodate a DSLR with an attached 70-200mm F2.8 lens and two extra lenses, as well as a 15" laptop, a tripod (via external leather straps), and various accessories. In contrast, the Windsor Reporter is a shoulder bag large enough for a DSLR with an attached 24-70mm lens and two other lenses.

The Windsor Messenger S, meanwhile, is large enough to hold a compact system camera with a standard lens, according to Manfrotto, plus one or two other lenses, or an entry-level DSLR plus ‘multiple lenses' and a tablet. The medium-sized Messenger can accommodate a medium DSLR with an attached 70-200mm F2.8 lens and two or three other lenses, plus a tablet.

All four bags feature similar styles and materials, including a water repellant coating, the Manfrotto Protection System for protecting gear from bumps and leather trim. All four bags are available now, with the Windsor Backpack priced at $170, the small Windsor Messenger at $120, the medium Messenger $140, and the Windsor Reporter at $130.

Press release

Manfrotto Launches Lifestyle Windsor Camera Bags

Four stylish models suitable for different equipment configurations

Upper Saddle River, N.J. (November 17, 2016) – Manfrotto, a leading global innovator and manufacturer of premium photo, video and lighting support products and accessories, announces the launch of the Manfrotto Windsor Collection, a stylish addition to their Lifestyle camera bag offering. The Windsor Collection features genuine leather trim, premium water-repellent fabric and metal details. The interior of each model is enhanced with a tartan pattern lining. This collection was designed for photographers who enjoy traveling in comfort while having their equipment within easy reach.

Key features:

  • Superb quality photography carrying solutions
  • Carry gear safely, comfortably and in timeless style on field trips
  • A variety of models to hold different equipment configurations
  • The perfect bags to explore with – even when not taking pictures

The new Collection caters to a variety of photographic styles:

The Manfrotto Windsor Camera and Laptop Backpack for DSLRs – a perfect choice for field trips, this bag features a removable padded internal compartment which holds a medium DSLR with up to a 70-200 mm lens attached and two additional lenses. Equipment is always at hand through the quick-access side opening, so no shot is missed. All delicate essentials stay safe in the top compartment. The internal photography insert can be removed to turn what is a camera backpack into a traditional one. A padded compartment fits a 15” laptop and two adjustable leather straps on the front of the bag keep a tripod secured.

The Manfrotto Windsor Camera Reporter Bag for DSLRs is a shoulder bag designed to keep photography gear safe in flawless style. It fits a medium DSLR with a 24-70 lens attached, an additional 70-200 mm lens and up to two standard lenses. When photography is not on the agenda, it remains a perfect bag for everyday use. With plenty of pockets, it keeps personal items and a 13” laptop securely organized. It also features a hidden side pocket to store a water bottle and two adjustable leather straps on the front of the bag which can keep a tripod secured. An adjustable shoulder strap and shoulder pad provide additional comfort.

The Manfrotto Windsor Camera Messenger for Compact System Cameras come in two sizes, Medium and Small. The Medium size fits a medium DSLR with up to a 70-200 mm lens attached and two to three additional lenses. A 15” laptop is kept safe in its own padded compartment. The Small size holds a Premium Compact System Camera with a 24/70 lens and two additional lenses. It features a safe compartment for a tablet. All personal items can be safely stored on the inside and outside zippered pockets. The adjustable shoulder strap and the shoulder pad provide additional comfort. A zippered top opening gives you the ability to access your gear in the fastest way possible.

All four models are engineered with internal dividers, providing maximum protection for photographic equipment and other electronic devices. Lenses and accessories are kept safe in the special protection areas at the heart of the bags. The dividers can easily be configured to accommodate varying photography equipment requirements.

Model #’s:

MB LF-WN-BP Lifestyle Windsor Backpack $169.99
MB LF-WN-RP Lifestyle Windsor Reporter $129.99
MB LF-WN-MM Lifestyle Windsor Messenger M $139.99
MB LF-WN-MS Lifestyle Windsor Messenger S $119.99

For additional information about Manfrotto, visit manfrotto.us. Follow Manfrotto on Facebook at facebook.com/ManfrottoSchoolOfXcellence, on Twitter @manfrotto_us or instagram.com/manfrottoimaginemore.

Categories: Equipment

2016 Roundup: Interchangeable Lens Cameras around $500

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 2:16pm

Entry-level interchangeable lens cameras have never been so affordable or more capable. There are plenty of choices around the $500 mark that will take better pictures than most cameras ever made.

They don't always have the very latest sensors or the premium build quality of their more expensive midrange siblings, and their controls tend to err on the side of simple, rather than extensive, but they tend to be excellent value and comparatively easy to use.

All of these cameras - both mirrored and mirrorless - produce good image quality, offer respectable performance and can record Full HD video. The majority have Wi-Fi to make it easier to share images to a smartphone. Many of them are targeted toward beginners, with 'help' systems that point out the best settings to use for various shooting situations.

Those unfamiliar with DSLR and mirrorless cameras may be wondering what advantages and disadvantages each brings to the table. DSLRs are larger cameras, with a more 'traditional' shape and control layout, as well as an optical viewfinder. While they're great for shooting stills, they're not as well suited to video capture, and focusing using live view tends to be sluggish. Mirrorless cameras are typically smaller and are very capable video shooters, and live view focusing is much faster than most DSLRs. Two negatives about mirrorless cameras are that battery life isn't nearly as good as a DSLR and - especially true in this class - they often lack a viewfinder.

Let's take a look at several entry-level ILCs, with US MSRPs in the $500 region, kit lens included:

Categories: Equipment

GoPro compensates Karma drone users with free HERO5 cam for recall

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 1:59pm

At the beginning of November action-cam maker GoPro announced a recall of its new Karma drone after a small number of the approximately 2500 units sold lost power during operation. GoPro stressed that even those users whose drones appeared to be operating normally should stop using them immediately. 

Now at least US buyers of the Karma will receive some sort of compensation for going through the troubles of returning the drone and having to find a replacement. GoPro is offering American Karma buyers a free HERO5 Black action cam once they return the drone and all accessories. Presumably, apart from making customers happy, this move should also speed up the return process and ensure as many of the faulty drones as possible make it back to GoPro. The company says it is planning to start shipping the Karma again as soon as the issue is resolved.

Categories: Equipment

Fotodiox introduces full automatic Nikon to Sony E adapter

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 1:48pm

Accessory manufacturer Fotodiox has introduced a new adapter that allows Nikon lenses to operate with a full range of automatic functions when hosted on a modern Sony E-mount camera body. The Fusion Smart AF Adapter accepts Nikon G AF-I and AF-S and provides connections between the lens and a Sony compact system camera body so that the user can enjoy autofocus as well as the ability to automatically stop down the lens and to trigger vibration reduction in lenses that have it. The adapter uses power from the camera to drive the lens, and EXIF data is passed back from the lens to be recorded in the image file created by the camera.

The company says that the adapter works best with Sony’s latest bodies that feature phase detection autofocusing systems, such as the a7R II. The adapter works with bodies that use contrast detection but the AF is a lot slower.

As Nikon uses a physical lever to close the iris of its lenses Fotodiox has used a motor within the adapter to handle that function so lenses that have no aperture ring don’t have to used wide open all the time. This also means that metering works without the user having to manually stop the lens down and that the camera’s semi-automatic exposure modes to operate.

The Fotodiox Fusion Smart Adapter costs $370. For more information visit the Fotodiox website.

Press release

Fotodiox Pro Announces Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter for Full Function Control

Fotodiox Pro, creator and distributor of several lines of specialty solutions for videography, cinematography and photography, has announced their new Nikon to Sony FUSION Lens Adapter. Available now on Fotodioxpro.com, the Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter allows photographers to mount Nikon lenses onto Sony cameras and maintain electronic communication between the two, delivering decades of legendary Nikon imaging expertise to the hands of full frame or APS-C Sony E-Mount camera users.

“The Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter is truly the first of its kind, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with our customers,” said Bohus Blahut, marketing director for Fotodiox Pro. “What makes it such a breakthrough is the presence of FUSION Drive – a built-in motor that physically moves the lens’ internal aperture control lever. Nikon lenses are notorious for maintaining mechanical aperture control while many other functions are electronic, but FUSION Drive, which we built for the very first time for this Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter, solves that issue.”

By installing the Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter on a full frame or APS-C Sony E-Mount camera, Nikon AF-I and AF-S lenses gain auto-focus, full aperture control for Auto / Aperture Priority / Program AE modes, EXIF data transmission (on compatible models) and image stabilization (on compatible models). The Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter is also compatible with fully manual vintage Nikon F lenses as a manual adapter.

Photographers are advised that the FUSION Adapter is designed to work best with newer Sony cameras that have “Phase Detection Auto Focus”, such as Sony a7, a7II, a7rII, a6000, a6300 and a6500 cameras. The Nikon to Sony FUSION Adapter’s performance will be significantly slower with older Sony cameras that rely solely on “Contrast Detection Auto Focus”.

Categories: Equipment

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10/LX15 Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 11:24am

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 (LX15 in some markets) is a 20MP large-sensor compact with a bright F1.4-2.8 24-72mm equivalent zoom lens. Which is to say, it's a very capable pocket camera. And, being a Panasonic, it has video specs and clever video-based features to back up its stills capabilities.

Panasonic's LX cameras have always had the enthusiast in mind, built around larger-than-average sensors with short but bright lenses and as many direct controls as can sensibly be fitted onto a pocketable camera body. They helped reinvigorate the enthusiast compact sector and prompted a series of imitators before the much larger sensor of Sony's RX100 rendered them irrelevant.

Key specifications

  • 20MP 1"-type CMOS sensor
  • 24-72mm equivalent F1.4-2.8 zoom
  • 7 fps continuous shooting with autofocus
  • 4K video at up to 30p
  • 5-axis, digital and optical stabilization in 1080 video
  • 4K Photo mode
  • Post Focus and Focus Stacking modes

The LX10 is Panasonic's first direct response to the big-sensored Sonys. The company has already built an excellent series of compacts that address every other niche you can think of: the long zoom stills/video FZ1000 and FZ2500, a large sensor ZS100 version of their well respected travel zoom series, and a larger sensor photographer's camera, the LX100. But the LX10 is a head-to-head competitor for Sony's pocket wonders.

The approach is a little different: unlike the RX100 III and IV, the LX10 doesn't have a viewfinder. Instead, it offers a touchscreen interface and a screen that can be tilted upwards. In many respects, the LX10 is a logical post-1" successor to the last of the smaller sensor models: the LX7.

The camera also offers Panasonic's 4K Photo mode, which offers a series of ways of specifying when the camera should capture a video clip from which stills can then be extracted. It also has Panasonic's Post Focus mode that captures a video clip of the camera racking focus, so you can choose to grab the frame with optimal focus, after the fact.

Compared with its peers

The LX10 means there are now three brands building small cameras with 1"-type sensors and short, bright zooms (and Nikon promising a comparable 'DL' model at some point). We've also included the LX10's big brother, the LX100 in this comparison, just to show what you get if you have room to carry its additional size.

  Panasonic
LX10
Sony
DSC-RX100 IV
Canon G7X
Mark II
Panasonic
LX100
MSRP $699 $999 $699 $899
Sensor area 116 mm2 116 mm2 116 mm2 180 mm2
Lens range (equiv) 24-72mm 24-70mm 24-100mm 24-75mm
Aperture range F1.4-2.8 F1.8-2.8 F1.8-2.8 F1.7-2.8
Control dials Aperture ring
Command dial
Lens ring (stepless)
Lens ring (stepless)
Four-way/dial

Lens ring
(stepped/
stepless)
Exposure Comp
Four-way/dial

Aperture ring
Shutter dial
Exposure Comp
Lens ring (stepless)
Four-way/dial
Viewfinder No  2.36M-dot No 2.76M-dot
equiv.*
Rear screen Tilt up
Touchscreen
Tilt up/down Tilt up/down
Touchscreen
Fixed
Video capability 4K/30p
1080/120p**
4K/30p
1080/120p
1080/30p 4K/30p
1080/60p
Built-in ND Filter No Yes
(Auto for stills)
Yes
(Auto for stills)
No
Flash Built-in pop-up (bounceable) Built-in pop-up
(bounceable)
Built-in pop-up
(bounceable)
Clip-on hotshoe flash
Battery life (CIPA) 260 280
(230 with EVF)
265 300
(270 with EVF)
Dimensions
mm (in)
105 x 61 x 42
(4.1 x 2.4 x 1.7)
102 x 58 x 41
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6)
106 x 61 x 42
(4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7)
115 x 66 x 55
(4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2)

*The LX100 uses a field-sequential display that updates red, green and blue information in sequence and, as such, does not require three dots to make up each three-color 'pixel.'
**1080/120p is a dedicated high speed video mode, with limited control.

Equivalent apertures

The chart below breaks down the equivalent aperture for each camera, as you work your way through the zoom range. Our article here explains the concept of equivalence, but at a high level all you need to know is that the lower the line is on the graph below, the blurrier the backgrounds you'll be able to get and, typically, the better the overall low-light performance.

LensEquivalentApertures(["Equivalent focal length (mm)","Panasonic LX100","Sony RX100 IV","Canon G7 X II","Panasonic LX10"], [[24,3.7434,"Panasonic LX100 at 24mm: F3.7",4.90909090909091,"Sony RX100 IV at 24mm: F4.9",4.90909090909091,"Canon G7 X II at 24mm: F4.9",3.8181818181818183,"Panasonic LX10 at 24mm: F3.8"],[25,3.9636,"Panasonic LX100 at 25mm: F4.0",5.454545454545455,"Sony RX100 IV at 25mm: F5.5",null,"",4.0909090909090917,"Panasonic LX10 at 25mm: F4.1"],[26,4.1838,"Panasonic LX100 at 26mm: F4.2",6.0000000000000009,"Sony RX100 IV at 26mm: F6.0",null,"",4.90909090909091,"Panasonic LX10 at 26mm: F4.9"],[27,4.404,"Panasonic LX100 at 27mm: F4.4",null,"",null,"",5.454545454545455,"Panasonic LX10 at 27mm: F5.5"],[28,4.6242,"Panasonic LX100 at 28mm: F4.6",6.8181818181818183,"Sony RX100 IV at 28mm: F6.8",null,"",6.0000000000000009,"Panasonic LX10 at 28mm: F6.0"],[29,null,"",null,"",null,"",6.8181818181818183,"Panasonic LX10 at 29mm: F6.8"],[30,4.8444,"Panasonic LX100 at 30mm: F4.8",null,"",null,"",null,""],[31,null,"",null,"",null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Panasonic LX10 at 31mm: F7.6"],[32,null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Sony RX100 IV at 32mm: F7.6",6.0000000000000009,"Canon G7 X II at 32mm: F6.0",null,""],[34,5.0645999999999995,"Panasonic LX100 at 34mm: F5.1",null,"",null,"",null,""],[37,5.2848,"Panasonic LX100 at 37mm: F5.3",null,"",null,"",null,""],[39,null,"",null,"",6.8181818181818183,"Canon G7 X II at 39mm: F6.8",null,""],[41,5.505,"Panasonic LX100 at 41mm: F5.5",null,"",null,"",null,""],[44,5.7252,"Panasonic LX100 at 44mm: F5.7",null,"",null,"",null,""],[52,6.1655999999999995,"Panasonic LX100 at 52mm: F6.2",null,"",null,"",null,""],[54,null,"",null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Canon G7 X II at 54mm: F7.6",null,""],[70,null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Sony RX100 IV at 70mm: F7.6",null,"",null,""],[72,null,"",null,"",null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Panasonic LX10 at 72mm: F7.6"],[75,6.1655999999999995,"Panasonic LX100 at 75mm: F6.2",null,"",null,"",null,""],[100,null,"",null,"",7.6363636363636367,"Canon G7 X II at 100mm: F7.6",null,""]])

Just as the specs suggest, the LX10's lens is broadly similar to that of the Sony RX100 III and IV. It's 2/3EV brighter at first but by 30mm equivalent they're both already down to F2.8 (F7.6 equiv). So although it should offer a similar performance to its big brother, the LX100, at wide angle, the bigger camera maintains an advantage across the rest of its zoom range.

Categories: Equipment

What's changed? Comparing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and E-M1 II

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 11/21/2016 - 6:00am

Olympus OM-D E-M1 versus E-M1 II

The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 II is quite a camera. Capable of shooting at up to 60 fps at full resolution and packing high-bitrate 4K video and in-body stabilization, the E-M1 II is a powerhouse. But if you already have an E-M1, is it worth the upgrade?

In this article, I'll compare several of the key areas of differentiation between the E-M1 II and its predecessor, to help you answer that question. 

Sensor

The E-M1 II's maximum output resolution of 20MP might not match the 24MP+ sensors of larger-format competitors, but 20MP is quite enough for most purposes, and a nice step up from the 16MP of its predecessor. 

If 20MP isn't enough, the E-M1 II incorporates Olympus's high-resolution multi-shot mode, first seen in the OM-D E-M5 II. This allows the camera to produce 50MP JPEG and Raw files by combining several exposures taken with the sensor shifted by single-pixel increments. This mode is best suited to still life subjects (to avoid issues created by movement in the scene) but from our initial testing it seems like the E-M1 II does a good job of correcting some of the nasty artifacts that limited this mode's usefulness in the E-M5 II. 

Speed

Resolution isn't everything, of course. As well as more pixels, the sensor in the E-M1 II can also output data 3 times faster, allowing for full-resolution capture at up to 60 fps in electronic shutter mode. A maximum shooting rate of 18 fps with continuous autofocus makes the E-M1 II a significantly more interesting camera for shooting fast action than the original E-M1.

The E-M1 II's high-speed USB 3.0 interface (C-type) is handy for quickly transferring files to a laptop if you've forgotten a card reader. Finally - a good reason to buy a new MacBook Pro...

Autofocus

The original E-M1 wasn't exactly a slouch in the AF department, but the E-M1 II takes things to a whole new level. This new, faster sensor features 121 on-sensor phase-detection AF points, which cover 75% of the imaging area vertically, and 80% horizontally. All of these AF points are cross-type. The original E-M1 offered 37 phase-detection AF points, in a smaller central area of the frame.

The extra phase-detection AF points and the broader coverage mean that the E-M1 II is even more versatile when used with one Olympus's range of older Four Thirds (non-Micro) lenses.

AF Tracking

These improvements, coupled with a dedicated processor for AF, means that the E-M1 II is capable of full-resolution shooting at up to 18fps with AF tracking. Compare this to a maximum frame-rate of 9 fps with AF from the E-M1 (running firmware 4.0). 

With the new E-M1 II, it's also possible to use the rear LCD screen as a touch-pad to manually position the active AF point by touch, with your eye to the viewfinder. In addition, adjustable AF-C tracking sensitivity, and four 'AF Target Modes' allow the E-M1 II's autofocus system to be quickly tweaked to suit different kinds of subjects. 

Ergonomics

The E-M1 II is ergonomically very similar to the E-M1. A slightly deeper hand grip makes the new camera feel a little more secure in the hand (depending, I suppose, on your hand size) and the tripod socket has been centered in the E-M1 II, in line with the lens axis. This is generally a good thing (and can be very handy for things like nodal panoramas) but it does mean the tripod socket is now closer to the battery door. The door has increased in size thanks to the bigger battery, which combines to incresae the risk of the door being occluded when the camera is mounted to a tripod.

The only thing that some users might argue has gone backwards in the E-M1 II compared to the original E-M1 is the rear screen's articulation. If the E-M1 II is incorporated into a video rig, with microphone or headphones plugged in and video output to an external recorder over HDMI, the folding screen can foul these cables when extended. The tilting screen of the original E-M1 is arguably less versatile, but can be used without snagging the I/O ports.

In-body Image Stabilization (I.B.I.S)

Both the E-M1 II and its predecessor feature 5-axis in-body image stabilization, but the Mark II improves the feature to offer a maximum benefit of 5.5EV, compared to 4EV in the older model. For anyone used to shooting according to the 'one over equivalent focal length' rule this means that at 50mm (equivalent) the E-M1 II should be hand-holdable down to as low as half a second, in favorable conditions, whereas the E-M1 would be safe down to 'only' around a quarter of a second. With the new stabilized 12-100mm zoom, the E-M1 II offers up to 6.5EV of shake compensation.

As well as stills, the E-M1 II's I.B.I.S is also useful when shooting video footage. The E-M1 was capable of capturing extremely smooth and shake-free video, and the E-M1 II is even better.

Video

One of the most significant improvements offered by the E-M1 II compared to its predecessor is a totally revamped video mode. Capable of 4K video at up to 30p, the E-M1 II boasts a maximum bitrate of 237 Mbps during DCI 4K/24p capture. A 'flat' picture profile in movie mode is a nice addition to the E-M1 II's video feature set, too.

The E-M1 produces very nice-looking video (and as previously noted, it's tilting screen doesn't foul the camera's I/O ports) but it's limited to 1080/30p in normal use, and isn't capable of clean output over HDMI to an external recorder. The E-M1 can capture 4K footage, but only in time-lapse movie mode.

One final note - it's not really fair to call it a 'downside', but if you plan on shooting 4K with the E-M1 II, do make sure to budget for a high-capacity UHS-II or UHS-I Speed Class 3 card. 

Durability

The E-M1 and E-M1 II are both tough cameras, built to a high degree of quality and intended to withstand use in unfavorable conditions. As such, both are weather-sealed and both can operate in freezing conditions. The E-M1 and E-M1 II have the same rated operating range of -10 to +40 degrees C, and both can handle being left out in the rain, but the E-M1 II's shutter is rated to a higher count of 200,000 exposures (the E-M1 is rated to 150,000). Whether this translates to substantially better durability in normal use is hard to say, but more pictures = more better.

Battery life

A less abstract measure of durability is battery life, and in this respect the E-M1 II also outperforms its predecessor, offering a maximum endurance of 440 shots (CIPA) in normal use from its larger, beefed-up battery and up to 950 when 'quick sleep' mode is used. These figures actually seem conservative judging from our shooting so far, during which we've routinely experienced 1000+ shot endurance in normal (stills) shooting.

The original E-M1 can shoot for a rated maximum number of 350 shots but the same applies - you can expect better endurance if you're not shooting video or constantly reviewing images. 

Twin card slots

Speaking of shots, the E-M1 II offers two SD card slots, as opposed to the E-M1's single slot. The additional card can be used as overflow or backup storage, or as a dedicated card for storing video clips. Note that only the upper slot is UHS-II compatible, so that's where you'll want to save those 4K video clips.

Verdict

There's absolutely no doubt that the new OM-D E-M1 II is a better camera than its predecessor in virtually every way. It's rare these days that we see successor models which so roundly outperform the models that they replace. We might have expected the viewfinder and / or rear LCD screens to get a bump in resolution, but arguably, neither really needed improvement.

All told, the E-M1 II is a very impressive update to the original E-M1. But it's also heavier, and more costly. We'd strongly suggest spending the extra cash if you can afford it (we can't see the E-M1 II being outmoded any time soon) but if you're mostly a slow-speed stills photographer, the original E-M1 won't disappoint. 

Categories: Equipment

2016 Holiday Gift Guide: $500 and up

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 6:00am

2016 Holiday Gift Guide: $500 and up

Shopping for photographers is hard. In fact, shopping in general is hard. We'd like to help everyone involved out a little bit, whether you're shopping for a photographer or taking a break from the stress of holiday shopping to #treatyoself. If you're really looking to invest in a gift that keeps on giving, we've got some ideas for big budgets.

Fujifilm X70

$700/£499
buy now | fujifilm.com

Photography and travel: the eternal love/hate relationship. Photographers love taking photos while they travel, but hate carrying the gear they need to make high quality images. If you know a frustrated traveling photographer, encourage him or her to slim down and simplify with the Fujifilm X70. With a fixed Fujinon 18.5mm (28mm Equiv.) F2.8 Lens, 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II Sensor, 77-point AF system, 1080p video, and a 0.5 second startup time the X70 is not likely to disappoint in the quality image department.

But perhaps equally impressive is the fact that Fujifilm was able to incorporate physical controls for aperture and shutter speed, shooting modes, exposure compensation and eight customizable buttons all in a compact body that measures 4.45 x 2.52 x 1.73 in (113 x 64 x 44 mm) and weighs just 12 oz (340 g). Your traveling photographer will be able to take this camera anywhere and come home with excellent images.

DJI mavic pro Drone (ships Dec 1)

$1000/£999
buy now | dji.com

Drones are a lot of fun. They allow photographers to photograph and film from angles and locations that would otherwise be extremely expensive (helicopter time is around $600/hr) or downright impossible. But until now, high quality drones have been fairly bulky to carry around. The DJI Mavic Pro changes that with a clever folding design that allows the drone to pack up to about the size of a small loaf of bread.

Despite the small size, the Mavic Pro offers a 4K video/12MP still camera stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal. Flown with the included controller or directly from a smartphone, it has multiple flight modes to assist in tracking, framing, and ground/obstacle avoidance. With a 27 minute flight time, 4.3 mile range, top speed of 40 mph (64 kmh), and a form that fits into a small backpack, the DJI Mavic Pro is ready to go anywhere.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 - 256GB / 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 

$1075/£1050 
buy now | microsoft.com

Is it a tablet? Is it a laptop? Since the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 can run the full version of Adobe Photoshop, does it really matter? With up to a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of ram, and 1TB of storage, the Surface Pro 4 packs a lot of computing power in a very small 1.73 lb (0.8 kg) package. In addition to the ability to run Photoshop and Lightroom, photographers will appreciate the 12.3" 2736 x 1824 screen, built in SD card reader, 9 hour battery life (depending on usage) and a clever Pixelsense pen/stylus that takes away all the pain of trying to manipulate tiny photo details with fat fingers. For those who think tablets are good for nothing more than Netflix and Angry birds, the Surface Pro 4 will be a real eye opener.

Olympus PEN E-PL8 w/14-42mm lens

$650/£499
buy nowgetolympus.com

We often know people who are interested in photography, but don’t know where to start. They would like to step up from their phone camera, but find a trip to the camera store or browsing Amazon to be overwhelming. Not only are there a staggering array of options on the shelves, but the complexity of today’s high end digital cameras make 'serious' photography seem inaccessible. A great solution for these people is the Olympus PEN E-PL8 with 14-42mm (28-84mm equiv.) F3.5-5.6 lens kit.

The E-PL8 strikes a great balance between being easy to use and non-threatening for the new photographer, and producing high quality images. On the outside, the body and controls are clear and straightforward. On the inside, the imaging guts of the E-PL8 are the same as the highly rated Olympus E-M10 II, a 16 MP Live MOS sensor with 1080p HD video capabilities. A 3-axis in-body image stabilization system will help keep images sharp and videos smooth, and 14 Art Modes encourage creativity.

Perhaps most importantly, the E-PL8 provides an entry into the Olympus Micro Four Thirds system. So when the time comes for an E-PL8 owner to step up to a more advanced camera, lenses and accessories will be able to move along with them.

Panasonic DMC-LX10 (avail Nov 28)

$700/£600
shop.panasonic.com | buy now

If you’ve done any photography equipment research as part of your holiday shopping, you could be forgiven for thinking that the world revolves around DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and a few select compacts. Where are the high-quality-yet-pocketable, large-sensor fixed-lens cameras? Panasonic’s reply is the newly released Lumix DMC-LX10 (also known as the LX15 in some markets).

With a 1”-type 20.1 MP sensor, a Leica 3x DC Vario-Summilux 8.8-26.4mm (24-72mm equiv.) F1.4-2.8 lens and a shirt-pocket size, the LX10 continues Panasonic’s long history of high-end compact cameras. A 180-degree upward tilting touchscreen, 4K video capability and five-axis image stabilization round out the feature set. Packed in a suitcase for a trip around the world or a purse for a trip to the beach, the LX10 should be an excellent companion.

Profoto D2 500 Air TTL Monolight two light kit

$3000/£2410
buy now | profoto.com

A photographer afflicted with Gear Addiction Syndrome will experience many different stages. Point and shoot to DSLR, small prime lens to big constant F2.8 zoom, and small bag under the desk to camera closet overflowing with cameras and tripods and accessories.

Lighting upgrades are just as momentous, and the move from speedlights to studio strobes is an important evolution for those who are serious about studio and portrait photography. Speedlights are great learning tools and can produce wonderful results, but they simply do not have the power or flexibility that something like the Profoto D2 500 Air TTL Monolight can provide.

With 500 Ws of power and an incredibly fast 0.03-0.6sec recycle time, the D2 500 has power and quickness that no speedlight can match. 10 stops of adjustment, up to a 1/8000 high speed shutter sync, built in radio triggering, and optional Canon or Nikon TTL capabilities help to harness and control that power. Upgrading into the world of serious studio lighting is a big step up, but for many photographers, it is an important one.

Mola Mantti 43.5-Inch Beauty Dish

$800/£642
buy now | mola-light.com

One of the most popular lighting accessories in recent years has been the 'Beauty Dish.' With a light quality more soft and even than on-camera flash but more directional than a softbox, beauty dishes are a staple of the fashion industry. Unsurprisingly, studio photographers have found that they make excellent portrait options. However, virtually all beauty dishes are 16-28" in diameter and are more suitable for head and shoulders or 1/2 body shots. To get the beauty dish lighting effect for full-body or group portraits at reasonable working distances requires a particularly big dish.

They don’t come much bigger than the Mola Mantti 43.5" beauty dish. It is a beast of a dish and will provide the perfect lighting to make next year’s family holiday photo look like it came from the pages of Elle Magazine.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens

$1200/£722
buy now | sigmaphoto.com

The 85mm focal length is a classic. These lenses are beloved for their compact size and large apertures. They're perfect for environmental portraits because of their short working distance and perfect for tighter shots because of their ability to blur the background. An 85mm lens would be a great gift for any photographer interested in boosting their 'people photography' game. Right now, there is arguably no better 85mm lens on the market than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art.

With a super fast F1.4 aperture, 14 elements in 12 groups, and a newly updated Hyper Sonic Motor, this lens maybe the most technologically advanced 85mm lens ever designed. With its creamy wide-open bokeh and sharpness across the frame, the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art lens will make portraits pop like no slow kit zoom lens ever could.

iPhone 7 Plus

$770/£620 
apple.com

One trillion photos were estimated to have been taken in 2015. The camera type that took 75% of those images? No, it wasn’t a DSLR or a mirrorless or any other high-end tool from the photographic industry. It was the camera in our pockets, the smartphone. A smartphone is the camera we have with us for almost every waking minute of our day. As everyone knows, the camera you have with you is better than any camera you leave at home.

So if 75% of our images are going to come from our phones, it behooves any serious photographer to prioritize camera quality when deciding on a phone. The Apple iPhone 7 Plus should be a strong contender for that choice. A fast F1.8 aperture, 4K video, optical image stabilization, and water resistance are all standout features. Even more impressively, its innovative dual camera design gives you two focal lengths to choose from (28mm and 50mm), allows 2X optical zooming, and can use data from both to simulate narrow depth of field in a special 'portrait' mode.

DNP DS620A dye sub printer

$900/£1120
buy now | dnpphoto.com

Do you know someone that simply loves to print photos for friends and family? Do they have a library full of photo albums? Have they taken out a second mortgage to pay for inkjet ink cartridges? Do they spend more time waiting in line at the local photo lab than they do with their family? Maybe it's time for them to step up to a professional dye sublimation printer.

The DNP DS620A can produce everything from 2 x 6" photo strips to 6 x 8" prints and in high-speed mode will create a 4 x 6" photo in just 8.3 seconds. More compact than most inkjet printers, the DS620A’s dye sublimation technology will not dry out or clog in between uses. To top it all off, at $0.14 per 4x6, prints from the DNP DS620A are cheaper than most photo labs. Plus – no waiting in line.

Leica M-P 'Grip' by Rolf Sachs edition

$15000/£12050
leica-camera.com

Looking for that special gift for the photographer who has absolutely everything? Need to make sure that the Ansel Adams in your life stands out from the crowd at the next preschool holiday pageant? Look no further than the Leica M-P 'Grip' by Rolf Sachs edition. The already high-end Leica rangefinder’s familiar leather body covering was replaced with red-nubbed rubber (reminiscent of a shower mat) that Leica says, 'lend the camera a uniquely eye-catching look and simultaneously create an entirely new haptic experience.'

For most of us, just trying not to drop the $15,000 special edition M-P would be enough of a haptic experience. But perhaps that is why Leica and Rolf Sachs thoughtfully provided the extra grip. But if you're paying that much for a camera, it would be nice to have something more than a shower mat keeping it from hitting the floor. Perhaps something like this handy wrist strap?

Categories: Equipment

A colorful journey through Morocco with the iPhone 7 Plus

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sun, 11/20/2016 - 5:30am
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Resource Travel Editor Michael Bonocore loves the Northern African country of Morocco, having traveled there previously to lead a team for The Giving Lens. So when an opportunity came along to return to Morocco this October, Bonocore couldn’t resist.

Although he normally travels with a Sony a7R II, Bonocore noticed that he always managed to come home with lots photos taken on his mobile phone, so he challenged himself to try a new approach to travel photography. Could he tell a beautiful and cohesive story about his journey through Morocco using only his new iPhone 7 Plus? Based on his portfolio of images, we think you’ll agree that the answer is yes.

Read the full article and see more of Bonocore's photos at Resource Travel

Categories: Equipment

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