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Equipment

Meike teases three new lenses: 50mm F1.7, 25mm F2.0 and 25mm T2.2

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 12:44pm

Chinese accessory and optical manufacturer Meike has posted a picture on its website of three lenses it intends to launch in the coming months. Two stills lenses are promised, a 50mm and a 25mm, as well as a 25mm designed for movie shooters.

It is reported that the first will be a 50mm F1.7 for mirrorless systems—including the Canon EOS M mount—which is due in the middle of next month. A 25mm F2 shown in the same graphic is quite a different design to the 50mm, and different also from Meike’s existing mirrorless and APS-C range of lenses, so it isn’t easy to guess what systems this model will be aimed at. The third lens is a 25mm T2.2 Cinema lens, which appears to be the company’s first foray into this video market.

Finally, as for how much these lenses might cost, it's worth noting that the company's current 50mm F2 retails for about $80... so they tend to be pretty affordable.

For more information, visit the Meike website.

Categories: Equipment

Samsung's new ISOCELL Dual module will bring dual-cameras to budget smartphones

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 12:28pm

Dual-camera setups that allow for better zooming and a background-blurring fake bokeh effect have become pretty much a standard feature on flagship smartphones; however, they are still far less common on cheaper 'budget' devices. That's all about to change. The image sensor division of device maker Samsung just launched the new ISOCELL Dual camera module, which was specifically designed for use in budget devices.

The new module comes with a built-in set of algorithms and functions and can be configured two ways: either for low-light performance by combining image data from two sensor, or to provide a bokeh effect feature. For the low-light setup, Samsung couples two 8MP sensors; for the bokeh effect, the module is assembled with a 13MP and 5MP image sensor combination.

Samsung will likely use the module in its own entry-level devices but, like it does with its sensors, RAM modules and other components, the company is also offering the technology to other OEMs. This will allow smaller companies to integrate dual-cam technology into their products without the need for large R&D budgets and software optimization.

We should see the first production smartphones using the ISOCELL Dual module sometime later this year.

Categories: Equipment

Scammers are peddling fake 'KODAKCoin' to unsuspecting victims

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 11:44am

Kodak is warning potential investors that "KODAKCoin" offerings found online aren't the real thing. According to an email sent to potential investors, and shared by AdAge, scammers have started listing KODAKCoin for sale despite its lack of official availability. Buyers aren't getting the new cryptocurrency, they're simply losing real-world cash.

In January, Kodak announced plans to launch a blockchain-based image rights management platform called KODAKOne and its own cryptocurrency called KODAKCoin. In a status update published on January 31st, Kodak said it has received interest in its digital currency from more than 40,000 potential investors. The company is now entering an "accredited investors" phase during which time it will verify the status of interested potential investors.

Now, scammers are taking advantage of the hype around cryptocurrency in general and the confusion around KODAKCoin specifically to try and steal some money.

Scams involving initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies are huge at the moment thanks to bitcoin's recent record value and growing public awareness of the digital currency market. Facebook recently blacklisted advertisements involving cryptocurrencies and ICOs from its platform due to the number of scams, and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton testified before Congress about the topic yesterday.

Editor's Note: If you're confused as to why exactly Kodak decided to get into cryptocurrency and bitcoin mining, give the op-ed below a read. Not everything with the Kodak name on it is connected to the company many of us know and love (or loved).

Categories: Equipment

DxOMark report reveals just how far smartphone cameras have come in the last 5 years

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 11:18am
DxOMark chart shows that overall scores for smartphone cameras have steadily improved over the last 5 years.

If you're looking for the most drastic and impressive improvements in the world of imaging, the (sad?) fact is, you'll want to look at smartphone manufacturers. And this is what DxOMark highlights in a fascinating retrospective titled "Disruptive technologies in mobile imaging" that looks back on 5 years of testing smartphone cameras.

Not that the Sonys and Nikons and Canons of the world haven't made improvements—and who knows when the next generational leap in image sensor technology will take place—but as the saying goes: necessity is the mother of invention. Given the size limitations of our ever-thinner and lighter smartphones, its phone manufacturers who have had to be most creative when it comes to improving image quality.

That, in a nutshell, is what DxOMark breaks down in its retrospective, taking a close look at everything from how smartphones have improved their ability to eliminate noise without losing texture, to exposure improvements, autofocus, video stabilization, zoom, and the recent advancements in bokeh simulation.

Exposure is one of the areas that has seen drastic improvements. These images were captured at just 1 Lux, showing how the 808 PureView falls far short of the iPhone 5s, which in turn falls significantly short of the Galaxy S7 "thanks to better tuning and noise reduction."

The area where smartphone cameras seem to have improved most is in their ability to toe the line between decreasing noise and maintaining texture. Without simply increasing the size of the image sensor, this is a difficult balance to strike if you're using just image processing, so newer phones take care of this in three ways:

  1. Optical image stabilization to allow for longer hand-held exposures
  2. Temporal noise reduction (TNR) that combines image data from multiple frames
  3. Multiple camera modules (currently dual, maybe soon triple)

These techniques have helped manufacturers make huge leaps forward in the past 5 years:

This side-by-side comparison shows just how much better the iPhone X is at avoiding and cleaning up noise than the iPhone 5s. But even the iPhone6, which used the same camera module as the 5s, benefitted greatly from improved software.
But the iPhone X isn't even the best at this trick. Here it is compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2, and Huawei Mate 10 Pro.

DxOMark's conclusion after sharing all of this data is unsurprising, and one of the reasons why we're keeping such a close eye on the newest smartphone camera tech:

We can see that camera hardware and image processing have been evolving alongside each during the past 5 years, and at a much faster pace than in the “traditional” camera sector.

DSLRs and mirrorless system cameras are still clearly ahead in some areas, but in terms of image processing, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and the other players in the DSC market are behind what Apple, Samsung, Google, and Huawei can do. Thanks to their hardware advantages, the larger cameras don’t actually need the same level of pixel processing as smartphones to produce great images, but there is no denying that the performance gap between smartphones and DSLRs is narrowing.

That's a good summary, but if you want to dive into all of the comparisons—between phones of the past and today, and between the best phones on the market right now—head over to DxOMark and read their full retrospective.

Categories: Equipment

Reckless drone video under investigation for flying directly above passenger jet

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 9:48am

A drone pilot has enraged the entire UAV community after sharing a video in which he flew his drone directly above a passenger jet flying out of Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport. The stunt was captured in a video by the camera drone, which shows it facing the jet before turning to fly in the same direction and quickly dropping altitude to get closer to the aircraft. The drone then chases after the plane but quickly falls behind.

The video was first shared privately on the Facebook group 1% FPV by someone posting under the name "James Jayo Older." Some concerned members took a screen capture of the video and shared it outside of the Facebook group to bring attention to the dangerous stunt.

The FAA has since confirmed that it is investigating the flight, which has been heavily condemned by drone enthusiasts and the general public alike. Federal regulations prohibit drones from being operated above 400ft, near airports, and around aircraft—this pilot seems to have blatantly violated all three rules. Operating a UAV at such a close distance to an aircraft could put the entire flight at risk.

According to the FAA's website, recreational drone pilots are required to alert air traffic control towers (when present) and airport operators ahead of time about flights happening within a 5 mile radius of an airport. "However," the FAA notes, "recreational operations are not permitted in Class B airspace around most major airports without specific air traffic permission and coordination."

The FAA has an online system where anyone can report a drone violation.

Categories: Equipment

Olympus announces PEN E-PL9 equipped with 4K and Bluetooth

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 1:24am

Olympus has announced the PEN E-PL9, which improves upon its predecessor in terms of design and features. The camera has a more pronounced grip and larger mode dial, and its faux leather wraps around the body. The E-PL9 finally has a built-in flash, so you no longer need to tote around the small external flash that came with earlier models.

The E-PL9 uses a 16MP Live MOS sensor as well as the same TruePic VIII processor found on the E-M10 Mark III. While the E-M10 III has in-body 5-axis image stabilization, the E-PL9 is limited to three axes. The two cameras share the same 121-point contrast-detect AF system with face and eye detection.

The most significant new features are 4K video capture (at 30p) and Bluetooth. The latter allows for quick pairing and the ability to have tagged photos transferred while the camera is turned off. Olympus has also added a 'Sweep Panorama' feature (nine years after Sony pioneered it,) a new Instant Film art filter and improved automatic scene selection.

The E-PL9 will come bundled with the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 'EZ' power zoom lens. Available colors include black, brown and white. The camera will be available outside of North America in mid-March for €699 with the kit lens. Pricing and availability in North America will be announced in the weeks to come.

Press Release (EU)

The new Olympus PEN E-PL9: The camera to put you in touch with your creative side

Hamburg, 07. February 2018 – While increasing numbers of people discover the joys of photography through their phones, the progression to a camera may be more than a little daunting. Boasting an envy inducing look and distinguished build quality, the new Olympus PEN E-PL9 delivers the jump in quality and creative control usually seen in much larger offerings. It also makes the transition a lot less painful through touch screen access to its new Advanced Photo mode.

Petite dimensions hide a versatile range of photographic expressions boosted further by compatibility with Olympus’ much lauded line up of more than 20 M.Zuiko lenses, such as the superb M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 for portraits that combine a flattering perspective with beautiful natural bokeh.

Film fans can now take advantage of in-body stabilized blur-free 4K movies while the new built-in flash ensures E-PL9 users are always ready for adding a splash of extra light. Anyone who can’t wait to share their new masterpieces online can take advantage of the new combined Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to smartphones.

Due for delivery in mid-March, the Olympus PEN E-PL9 will be available in white, black or brown as body only or in a kit with lens (see below for choices and pricing).

It’s all about expression

The increase in creative options a camera brings too often comes with a scary menu system to match. Seeking to break down those barriers, the Olympus PEN E-PL9 lets you start your journey of photographic experimentation gradually via touch screen selection of creative programmes before moving on to more traditional settings. Select AUTO mode to let the camera identify many photographic situations from faces to groups and even movement and choose the best setting for you in the blink of an eye. Feel the need to adjust – fear not, a touch screen control with sliders allows you to adjust brightness, colour and contrast amongst other common settings. Tilt the screen down for a superior quality selfie and you can even touch select e-Portrait to smooth skin tones in camera. All of that comes in a very small and lightweight camera body that gives away both a traditional and modern feel.

Art not just for art’s sake

Olympus pioneered Art Filters way back and touching the screen brings them to life in a new way, making comparing the effects live on screen easier than ever. Besides Bleach Bypass, Instant Film is also new to the list of now 16 Art Filters – a nostalgic nod to the exaggerated colours of the early instant cameras. Use in daylight and the effects are subtle. Use at night on people with flash and a potentially dull shot is transformed: darker areas becomes green and skin is given a warm glow, an image is created that has a modern touch with a nostalgic feel.

Building on this, Olympus has made access to scene modes available through the touch screen too. Simply double tap the image that most closely matches what you see in your mind’s eye and the camera chooses the appropriate settings. The innovative access to simpler creative control is the new Advanced Photo (AP) mode. Olympus pioneered techniques like Live Composite used to be buried deep in the camera menus, often lying undiscovered. Want to take a photo of your friend creating a light painting in front of a lit up building at night? Used to be almost impossible, now tap the icon in AP mode, put the E-PL9 on a solid surface and off you go. Explore the delights of multiple exposure, HDR, sweep panorama, even focus bracketing – a technique that is a boon for close ups.

A learning process

A new set of easy access video “How To” guides hosted on the free OI.Share app, that handles the wireless transfer of images from camera to phone, provide useful tips for operating the E-PL9. Speaking of image transfer: the E-PL9 combines Bluetooth LE with Wi-Fi to ensure that the camera is always connected with your smartphone even when “asleep”. Want to see and import some images you just shot but the camera is back in your bag? No problem. Open the app and wake up the camera without needing to get it out and switch it on.

Quality through technology

What else does the E-PL9 have up its sleeve to help your photographs stand out from the crowd? Another Olympus pioneered innovation is in-body Image Stabilization (IS). Reducing blurry shots in low light, this system is married to the fast TruePic VIII image processor from the acclaimed Olympus camera flagship OM-D E-M1 Mark II which allows the camera to choose higher shutter speeds* further improving the chances of sharp results in challenging conditions.

Learning to love lenses

A system camera lives and dies by the lenses available to suit an ever expanding range of subjects. Many current Olympus PEN users head straight for the M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8 portrait lens. Why? If you come from taking portraits on phones or compact camera, the lenses are often a wider angle to be more flexible. Sadly for the human face, wide angles tend to distort features. A classic portrait lens like the 45mm F1.8, slightly flattens the perspective which is more flattering. The wider aperture also delivers a natural looking blurred background (bokeh). While phones increasingly mimic this effect, the right lens sets an image apart. One area where a system camera really excels is getting in close: macro photography. Try our “all-day” go-to macro lens M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro with the E-PL9. For capturing details in jewellery, food, material or flowers it opens a whole new world.

On top of the currently more than 20 Olympus M.Zuiko lenses it is possible to use hundreds of legacy lenses via various adapters.

Kit choices, pricing & availability

> Olympus PEN E-PL9 body only at EUR 549 RRP*** incl. VAT from mid-March 2018

> Olympus PEN E-PL9 with M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ Pancake lens at EUR 699 RRP*** from mid-March 2018

Categories: Equipment

$2,500 Sony a7S II vs $50,000 ARRI Alexa Mini: Can you tell the difference?

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 5:32pm

Brent Barbano—co-founder of camera rental community ShareGrid—recently took a trip to Flashbox Films in Hollywood to meet up with co-owner Will Kamp and do one of those "affordable camera vs crazy expensive camera" tests the internet seems to love (and hate) oh so much.

So what did they test? They put the $2,500 Sony a7S II, an affordable filmmaking favorite, up against the $50,000+ ARRI Alexa Mini, a professional-grade filmmaking monster. Here's how Brent introduces the comparison:

The Sony a7s II has been a game-changer for filmmakers and creatives across the world. Cinematographers and photographers have been creating amazing images with this mirrorless camera that can rival some of the best. So, we thought we'd put it to the test and do a side-by-side comparison of the Sony a7S II and the ARRI Alexa Mini. Can you tell the difference?

Well... can you? Check out the video above to watch the footage, or scroll through the slides in the gallery below:

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Brent and Will were obviously impressed by just how similar the final footage turned out to be, and if you're curious how you did on this 'test,' you're in luck: ShareGrid was kind enough to give DPReview readers the answer key early.

The initial plan was to update it in the video description on YouTube this Friday, but if you've made your picks, you can scroll down and see which slide was which down below.

Answer Key

Some of you may have noticed, others may not, but the cameras didn't actually switch sides between shots. The Sony was always on one side, and the ARRI was always on the other. But... which was which? It turns out A was Sony, and B was ARRI:

SLIDE 1

A: Sony a7S II

B: ARRI Alexa Mini

SLIDE 2

A: Sony a7S II

B: ARRI Alexa Mini

SLIDE 3

A: Sony a7S II

B: ARRI Alexa Mini

SLIDE 4

A: Sony a7S II

B: ARRI Alexa Mini

Categories: Equipment

Atech's Blackjet UX-1 Cinema Dock might just be the ultimate memory card reader

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 4:28pm

It's not often a memory card reader turns heads, but the Atech Blackjet UX-1 Cinema Dock might just be that card reader. Using a 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 connection, the UX-1 can transfer data from SSD, XQDm CFast, CF, SD and MicroSD cards at blistering speeds from one of its seven media slots.

The reader is compatible with Mac and PC systems, and if 7 media slots isn't enough, it features dual Thunderbolt ports to allow up to four more UX-1 readers to be daisy-chained to the same computer.

The speed of the reader allows users to download files from all seven media slots at the same time, and heavyweight content can be worked on directly from the cards. Users can load drives into both 2.5-inch SSD slots and choose RAID-0, RAID-1 or JBOD configurations, and the reader can be mounted in a standard 1U rack system.

The Atech Blackjet UX-1 costs $500 and will ship this quarter. For more information visit the Atech website.

Press Release

BLACKJET UX-1 THUNDERBOLT™ 3 cinema dock

Atech Flash Technology (AFT) manufacturers of industrial and professional media card readers and storage solutions will be launching their new premium line of products under the Blackjet brand. Their latest media reader named the Blackjet UX-1 Cinema Dock features dual SSD docking solution plus five multimedia card slots supporting media cards XQD 2.0, CFast 2.0, CompactFlash, SD, and microSD.

The Blackjet UX-1 is designed to be used in any standard industry rack mount system.Blackjet UX-1 utilizes the large bandwidth 2,750 MB/s of Thunderbolt™ 3, which allows you to ingest, edit and archive your creative content simultaneously from all six media formats at their maximum speeds.

Blackjet UX-1 is compatible with existing Mac® and Windows® Thunderbolt 3 computers, but it is also compatible with Mac® Thunderbolt 2 computers when used with the Apple® Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.

Pricing and Availability

The Blackjet UX-1 will have a suggested MSRP of $499 USD and will be shipping in Q1 2018.

Key Features

  • Media Reader for popular media formats SSD, CFast 2.0, XQD 2.0, CF, SDXC and microSD
  • Dual SSD can be RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD (Software RAID)
  • Dual Thunderbolt™ 3 Connections with speeds of up to 40Gb/s
  • 2nd Thunderbolt 3 port supports Daisy Chaining of five additional Thunderbolt devices, a 5K display, or one USB device
  • Rack mountable for 1U specifications
Categories: Equipment

Huawei's Mate 10 Pro is finally available for pre-order in the US

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 4:18pm

AT&T and Verizon may have pulled out of selling the Huawei Mate 10 Pro in the US—under a little bit of political pressure—but luckily, you can still get your hands on Huawei's latest flagship smartphone and it's well-reviewed "co-engineered with Leica" dual camera.

The Chinese manufacturer announced that pre-orders for the unlocked version of the Mate 10 Pro are starting in the US today, in-store and online at electronic retailers including Amazon, BestBuy, Microsoft, Newegg, and B&H. The phone will initially be available in Midnight Blue and Titanium Grey. A Mocha Brown variant will make it to the stores in the near future. In addition, the souped-up Porsche Design version of the Mate 10 Pro will be available online starting February 18th.

We spoke to a Huawei spokesperson to confirm, and even though you won't be able to purchase a Mate 10 Pro through a carrier, the unlocked device will operate on GSM networks in the U.S., including: AT&T, T-Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Simple Mobile and Tracfone. As an added bonus, customers that pre-order between now and February 17th will receive a $150 gift card from the retailer from which it was purchased.

If you are contemplating replacing your current device, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is definitely worth a closer look. Its Leica-co-engineered camera performed very well during our testing, and it's a great device is general use as well. The regular Mate 10 Pro in its various colors goes for $800 unlocked, while the special Porsche Design version will retail for $1,225 when it starts shipping in 12 days' time.

The 'Best Smartphone at CES' Now Available in the U.S.

Award-winning HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro now available for pre-order in-stores and online at BestBuy, Amazon, Microsoft, Newegg, and B&H with a $150 gift card promotion until Feb. 17

PLANO, Texas, Feb. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Pre-orders for the highly acclaimed HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro will begin on Feb. 5in-stores and online at major electronic retailers including Amazon, BestBuy, Microsoft, Newegg, and B&H. Customers who pre-order the device from now until Feb. 17 will receive a $150 gift card from the retailer in which it was purchased. The HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro will begin shipping Feb. 18.

Available in Midnight Blue and Titanium Grey now, and Mocha Brown soon; the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro's stunning design is matched only by its performance. Featuring the world's first AI-enhanced processor with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU) in a smartphone, the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro achieves new breakthroughs in computing capacity to deliver up to 25 times better performance and up to 50 times greater energy efficiency for AI-related tasks.

Partnering with renowned camera maker Leica, Huawei co-engineered the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro's dual camera with AI capabilities that enables users to take professional quality photos without having to adjust the camera settings. The camera's computer vision technology supports real-time scene and object recognition to automatically choose and adjust camera settings to capture the best photos possible.

"Huawei prides itself in delivering premium, high-performing devices that are elegant, secure and user-friendly, and the award-winning HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro embodies all those characteristics and more," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group. "The HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro has the ideal combination of camera, battery life and performance; and was designed for how individuals use a smartphone today."

Highlighting the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro's mobile AI capabilities, intelligent and intuitive new Leica camera, long-lasting battery life, and elegant design; the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro has earned 42 awards to date from global technology media, including "Best Smartphone of CES" from TechRadar, "Best of CES 2018" from Android Police, "2018 CES Top Pick" from Android Central and "Best Smartphone of 2017" from Android Authority. Editors from Android Central even proclaimed the device as Huawei's "best phone ever."

In addition to the HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro, the new Porsche Design HUAWEI Mate 10 will be available online at major retailers, including Best Buy, Amazon, Microsoft, Newegg, and B&H. Retailing for $1,225 starting Feb. 18, the Porsche Design HUAWEI Mate 10 combines luxury aesthetics with cutting-edge mobile engineering and technology. Porsche Design HUAWEI Mate 10 showcases a race track inspired design in a Diamond Black body, and features 6GB of RAM, 256GB of ROM and a customized UI to perfectly complement its premium experience.

Categories: Equipment

Camera makers continue to ignore photojournalist pleas for encryption

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:41pm
Photo by Markus Spiske

In late 2016, more than 150 professionals sent a letter to camera makers requesting that they add encryption to their camera products. This encryption, as it does with other devices like smartphones, would help protect content on the camera and its media cards. "Without encryption capabilities," the letter explained, "photographs and footage that we take can be examined and searched by the police, military, and border agents in countries where we operate and travel, and the consequences can be dire."

More than a year has passed since the letter was circulated, and major camera manufacturers have largely failed to introduce encryption-based security on their camera products. Tech website ZDNet recently quizzed major camera manufacturers about potential plans to introduce encryption, and the response was underwhelming.

Fuji failed to respond to the site's request for info, while Sony declined to discuss any product roadmaps related to camera encryption. Canon declined to talk about "future products and/or innovation." Both Olympus and Nikon gave more extensive answers, though neither indicate any real progress on the topic.

Nikon, for its part, gave a canned response that it is listening to photographers and "will continue to evaluate product features to best suit the needs of our users." Olympus' response wasn't much better, with a company spokesperson saying that the maker will "continue to review the request to implement encryption technology in our photographic and video products, and will develop a plan for implementation where applicable in consideration to the Olympus product roadmap and the market requirements."

While photographers and filmmakers aren't entirely without encrypted options, those options (mainly smartphones) are far less capable than the professional gear they'd otherwise use. Apple and Samsung have both focused heavily on encryption-based security for their mobile products, and Android users in general have the ability to toggle on encryption in the OS's settings. Is it time for camera makers to catch up?

Categories: Equipment

Landscape photography: Don't miss the moment for the photo

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 1:19pm

In the pursuit of timeless landscape photography, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. That is, to miss the moment for the photo.

Too often, photographers—myself included—focus on tiny imperfections in their images, yet miss the grandeur of the scene before their eyes. We can scrutinize over every pixel, while neglecting the people who are there with us sharing in nature’s spectacle. We search and yearn for perfect sunsets, only to set ourselves up to feel dejected when our idealized expectations fail to meet ‘mediocre’ realities.

Yet, over time, we begin to discover that the endearing value of landscape photography lays not in the final image itself, but in everything behind it and beyond it. In the effort—the literal blood, sweat, and tears—we exert to capture the image. In the memories forged along the way; the memories preserved decades later through the photo. The lasting value lies in the process itself.

In landscape photography, the means do not merely justify the end. The means are a worthwhile end in and of themselves.

Natural beauty, appreciated

The pursuit of capturing stunning landscapes exposes photographers to moments of wonder the majority of the population will rarely if ever have the privilege of experiencing. It grants us opportunities to witness scenes ignorant observers may dismiss as being ‘photoshopped’. Little do they know, these views do exist beyond the wallpapers of their desktop computers—should they have the curiosity and desire to look for them.

Once bitten by the landscape bug—and for those of you who have been, you know what I mean—the unscratchable itch encourages us to get out there as often as possible. To see the sun rising over Sydney Harbour while the city sleeps. To brave freezing winter nights and gaze up at the tapestry of stars in the Milky Way. To hike through forests, in the rain, in order to experience the torrential fury of waterfalls at full flow.

It encourages us to see the artistic potential in scenes taken for granted by untrained eyes. To look for alluring elements in seemingly mundane scenes—a fallen tree trunk acting as a leading line or a coastal rock channel aligned to catch the rising sun for a few fleeting weeks each year. To truly appreciate when the sky explodes in color on sunset, knowing all too well the countless times it doesn’t.

It’s these moments that open our eyes to the wealth of beauty that our natural world has to offer. Moments that leave those who witness them all the richer for it.

Explore with wonder

Not only does the pursuit grant us picturesque scenes to reflect fondly upon, it also exposes us to an emotion not often felt since childhood: a daring sense of wonder.

When viewing the work of my peers, I’m regularly exposed to fantastical scenes so different from what I know. It leaves me inspired to wander through these foreign lands and see how I might put my own unique spin on capturing them. From the scarred canyons of Iceland to the sandstone monuments carved into the American West.

Yet this act of discovery needn’t—and shouldn’t—only apply to grand overseas adventures. It can be found just as easily closer to home.

There’s a sense of wonder in humbly exploring your local countryside in search for the perfect skeleton of a tree. In researching familiar locations on Google Earth and then driving down ungraded side-roads not knowing what the next bend holds. Or in hiking out under the light of the crescent moon on way to an astrophotography shoot.

Express yourself

Life is full of customs to limit how you behave, to restrict what you can and can’t do. And for good reason. There’d be utter chaos should we wake up wanting to drive on the wrong side of the road…

But in our approach to photography, and the work we create, we can be our true selves. We can pursue the facets we like best while leaving behind those we don’t.

Two photographers can look at the exact same scene, yet walk away with starkly different images. One may focus on the weathered bark of an old tree and produce an elegant black and white, while another captures the entire grand scene, opting for an an ethereal Orton Effect in post-processing. Neither method is wrong. Nor is either more correct. Both are merely personal interpretations by the artist.

Dedication to the ongoing pursuit—the capturing, processing and sharing of work—allows us to experiment with new approaches, gear and techniques. It's a humble process of trial and error to see what works for us and what doesn’t. Ultimately, through this continual refinement of our craft, we establish a look and feel to our images that becomes uniquely our own.

Personal achievement

Succeeding in landscape photography requires a healthy amount of discipline. Discipline to wake at 4am. To drive for an hour out to location. To battle the elements as we set up our gear. To wait and watch the sunrise fizzle out. And to then return home without taking a single decent image.

All to do it again next week, and the week after that.

It takes grit to push through the disappointment in failing to capture the ideal image you had envisioned. Grit to push on through the lows, so that when you reach the highs of a great image—and you will—you have the perspective to truly appreciate what you have created.

As landscape photographers, we must push ourselves. To reach beyond the known, safe certainties of our comfort zones. Be it leaving the warmth of our bed on a dark winter’s morning or embarking on an overnight hike through the bush. The pursuit allows us to challenge and exceed what we think we can achieve. We persevere with our craft and come through the other side the better for it.

Not just a solo pursuit

Who said landscape photography was a lonely pursuit?

Social media has changed the game for photographers. Instagram in particular has become the default portfolio of work for many. The platform allows us to not only draw inspiration from the works of others, but to directly engage and communicate with them. To discover new locations and new ways of viewing tried and true ones.

This works both ways, too. When you share your unique take on a location, no doubt it encourages like-minded photographers to get out and discover those locations for themselves. While it’s tempting to view their work as piggybacking off your hard work, it needn’t be a zero sum game. Through open sharing, we can teach and inspire one another to work harder, to create more. And as a profession, we are the better for it.

If you’ve ever struggled with the discipline aspect to landscape photography (I know I have) try to arrange meet-ups on location with like-minded peers in the field. Not only will their attendance commit you to venturing out, but it then becomes a shared learning opportunity for you both. Local Instameets and Facebook groups are great opportunities to better know the photographic community in your area.

But the social component isn’t limited to just other photographers. Consider inviting those closest to you on the next location scout. Or offer to act as tour guide for a friend, introducing them to new locations they never knew existed.

Case in point

Consider this photo above. On a recent trip across The Ditch, we were staying on New Zealand’s east coast. I knew I wanted to capture the famed Wanaka Tree under the light of dawn, but we were at the end of our travels and the tree was far away on the other side of the island. So, like all mad photographers, I decided to drive four hours through the night to get there in time.

Beside me on the road trip was my 75-year-old grandma, a former Kiwi-turned Aussie. The drive through the night proved to be a great opportunity to bond with her—a rarer opportunity with each passing year. As we drove through the towns of her childhood, she told stories of her past growing up in NZ. And likewise, I had time to share with her my current creative pursuits.

However, once we arrived in Wanaka, the clouds had rolled in to block out the rising sun. And so too our chance of capturing the image we had sought.

And in the car we waited, laughing to each other after coming all this way to be met by less than ideal conditions. Yet, after some time, a fleeting gap in the clouds lit up the fresh new growth on the foreshore and on the tree itself. Together, we hurried down to the lake and both snapped a handful of shots before the clouds returned again.

We couldn’t stop pinching ourselves on the drive back for having been so fortunate to have those brief few moments to take the shot, but upon reflection, it wasn’t getting the shot that made it worth it. Rather, it was the time spent bonding, and the moment shared. While it turned out to be a pretty picture, for me it was an even more memorable moment.

Take a moment for the moment

The classic adage states that it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s of greater importance. And that’s an apt mantra to keep in mind when we go about our landscape photography—both literally and figuratively.

Landscape photography demands much from the photographers who pursue it. It demands we invest our time and our effort into the craft. That we invest without guarantee we’ll walk away with the stunning award-winning image we so dreamed of.

With that in mind, the next time you find yourself on a beach on sunrise or on a hike through the bush... stop. Stop to appreciate the effort you’ve put into preparing for the photo. Stop to take solace in knowing that you’re in the thick of life, immortalizing the scene in front of you through your art. Stop and take a moment, to appreciate the moment.

And then take the shot.

Mitch Green is a Melbourne based Travel and Landscape photographer. He can be found via his website, through Instagram, or down by the beach at 5am waiting for sunrise.

Categories: Equipment

How I built a large-format (8x10) video camera

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:48am

Large format, for me, has always been the dream. Not for its ridiculously high resolutions—the 12 megapixels of my Sony a7S are more than plenty for me—but for its unique depth rendering. There is an enchanting quality to the depth of field produced by a huge chunk of vintage 8x10 glass that is near impossible to replicate on a smaller format, mostly thanks to the ridiculous equivalent aperture that would be required.

My longing for large format without the expense and and hassle of chemicals led me to build a pretty unique camera rig with very promising results.

The camera works by projecting an image from a large format lens (an Industar-37) onto a large matte white screen. The projected image is then captured with an off-axis camera (a Sony a7S) and wide-angle lens (an Irix 15mm F2.4). The 15mm is shifted upwards (using a Kipon shift adapter), which allows it to record a centered image of the screen with none of the perspective distortions that would come from simply pointing the camera up, and still be well out of the way of the light path.

I am not really sure if it should be called a ‘large format camera’ or a ‘large format adapter’—is format determined by the size of the imaging plane, or that of the sensor? Usually those are one and the same but not with a rig like this—but either way it records real large format images and just from my first results, I think they look fantastic.

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Beyond just digitizing large format photography, the rig opens up the really exciting possibility of large format video. It is absolutely incredible to see the large format image come to life, and it is something the world hasn't really seen before. Dynamic range and resolution are only limited by the camera you put inside, and I am just using a consumer camera. I can’t wait to see how the rig performs with cinema gear.

The main downside of of the the design is sensitivity. The process of re-imaging loses about 6 stops of light, so an ISO 100 shot outside the camera becomes an ISO 6400 one in the rig. Thankfully, many modern cameras have excess sensitivity for bright environments so the camera works great in well-lit scenes, although it definitely struggles without proper lighting like the indoor scenes in the video above.

Large format ‘reimaging’ rigs have been made before (quite successfully by Gonzalo Ezcurra), but with one key difference: they project onto ground glass and record the image from behind, instead of reflecting the image off a diffuse surface. This method works, but ground glass is never a truly perfect diffusing filter, so there will always be a hotspot at the center of the image and some grain pattern introduced as well. The hotspot can be reduced—really, just enlarged so it looks more like a vignette and less like a spotlight—by moving the camera further back with a longer lens, but then the already huge setup just gets longer and less practical.

My version has the advantage of a folded optical path: since the image is bounced off a screen instead of going through a ground glass, the rig is about half the size of these other experimental reprojection cameras. It is still rather unwieldy, but this size difference is enough to allow shoulder mounting and really improve usability to the point being a genuinely useful tool instead of just a novelty.

I am currently working on an updated v2 version with a host of improvements, but I have really just skimmed the surface of the new possibilities with a camera like this.

Zev Hoover is an 18 year old photographer/videographer based in Natick, MA. His work has been widely featured, ranging from the Boston Globe to a BBC mini-documentary, and he has received awards including the Flickr 20-under-20 Award and 500px ‘innovation’ contest winner. You can find more of his work on his website: zev.tv

Categories: Equipment

Google enables HDR+ for Instagram and other apps on Google Pixel 2

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:30am

Google's latest generation Pixel 2 smartphones come with the built-in Visual Core dedicated imaging processor that powers the HDR+ mode's sophisticated multi-frame-stacking computational imaging functions and other camera features. However, Visual Core wasn't activated when the Pixel 2 devices were first launched, and only was enabled for developers in November last year.

The latest Android update now brings the power of Visual Core to all Pixel 2 users, an update smartphone photographer should be very excited about.

This update mainly means that Google's excellent HDR+ mode is now available on all apps that call the camera and target API level 26, not just Google's own Camera App. According to Google, this includes popular examples such as Instagram, Whatsapp or Snapchat, but we hope it also covers some of the powerful third-party camera apps available on Google Play.

Previously, those apps relied on a much more basic camera API that could not produce the same image quality as HDR+.

The Android update for the Google Pixel 2 will be rolling out over the next few days, along with other software improvements, so make sure you install the newest version as soon as it becomes available to take full advantage of the phone's camera capabilities.

Categories: Equipment

Panasonic Lumix G9 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1 II

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:00am

Introduction

Announced late last year, the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 gives Micro Four Thirds shooters looking for a high performance stills-oriented camera another option. Previously, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II was more or less alone in its class, and remained unchallenged for over a year (unless you count the video-focused GH5 as a direct competitor). Even considering its age, the E-M1 II still fetches a $2000 body-only price, with the G9 undercutting it slightly at $1700 body-only.

So how do these Micro Four Thirds flagships compare head-to-head? Take a look at our feature-by-feature breakdown.

Image quality

The G9 and E-M1 II both use a 20MP Four Thirds sensor, and it's fair to say they match up pretty evenly in this category. They do of course use different processors, which will make a difference, and Panasonic has made a lot of effort to refine the G9's JPEG engine since the GH5. But we'd expect them to perform quite similarly, and broadly speaking they do.

Analyzing each camera's performance in our studio testing, the E-M1 II produces slightly nicer JPEG sharpening and colors at base ISO, but the G9 pulls just ahead at high ISO. The difference is subtle, but it's one we noticed.

Both cameras offer a high-resolution mode, assembling a large file from multiple images taken while shifting the sensor slightly. The E-M1 II's JPEG output is rendered at 50MP while Panasonic chooses to output 80MP, but both produce an 80MP Raw file. There's some question over whether you really get 4x the resolution from this pixel-shift method.

If you're very picky and base ISO JPEG rendering is a priority, we think the E-M1 II holds a slight advantage

These modes are best suited for still life, but nevertheless Panasonic and Olympus have both made efforts to improve results for long exposures of moving subjects. Testing the G9 on some street scenes and the E-M1 II on a waterfall (the one from Twin Peaks, naturally), we came away with some decent results. In both cases you'll see artifacts if you look closely, but they're usable images for certain applications.

Differences in this respect are very, very subtle. If you're very picky and base ISO JPEG rendering is a priority, we think the E-M1 II holds a slight advantage. If it's the very best high ISO JPEG detail and color you're after, the G9 does a bit better in that category.

Video

Panasonic is the better established player in the video game, but don't count the E-M1 II out just yet. Both cameras offer UHD 4K capture, but the E-M1 II also adds 24p DCI resolution, for a more cinematic aspect ratio. In DCI you also get a maximum bitrate of 237 Mbps, which generally makes for better capture of random motion in clips. Thus its 4K video looks very good, while we found its 1080p footage disappointingly soft.

If you need the very best 4K capture, we give a slight edge to the E-M1 II

The G9 offers 60p UHD 4K compared to the E-M1 II's 30p UHD footage, but tops out at 150 Mbps. Both cameras provide video niceties like touchscreens that enable tap-to-focus and flip-out LCDs. It's worth noting that HDMI ports and headphone/microphone jacks are on the left side near the screen's hinge and can be slightly blocked when the LCD is unfolded on both cameras. The robust image stabilization systems on both cameras are also beneficial to video shooters. In our experience, they're both effective for handheld video and give a reasonably steadicam-like appearance to footage.

Again, neither camera has a huge advantage in this category. If you need the very best 4K capture, we give a slight edge to the E-M1 II. But for overall video quality, the G9 comes up with 4K/60p, and we think it's the better buy. Of course, those who very serious about video would want to look to the G9's sibling, the GH5, where you'll find 4:2:0 output that seems to have been withheld from the G9.

Burst rate

The G9 is just a hair faster when using continuous autofocus – 20 fps with e-shutter / 9 fps mechanical shutter to the E-M1 II's 18 fps with e-shutter / 10 fps mechanical. But perhaps more impressive is the G9's near-infinite buffer depth: it will carry on shooting at 9 fps with mechanical shutter for over 600 frames. The E-M1 II is no slouch in terms of buffer depth, but we did find ourselves irritated with the camera locking us out of playback while the buffer cleared.

The E-M1 II does offer an interesting pre-buffer feature, however. Once you half-press the shutter Pro Capture mode is enabled, saving 14 frames from before you push the shutter. This makes it more likely you'll get the shot when your own reaction time might be too slow.

If you have a particular use case that demands a nearly bottomless buffer depth, we'd suggest leaning toward the G9. If you find yourself hitting the shutter button just a moment too late too often, that might shift things in favor of the E-M1 II. For all others, it's a wash.

Autofocus

The bad news for the G9 is that it only offers contrast-detect autofocus, but the good news is that it uses the most capable CDAF system we've ever tested. In continuous focus mode it performed admirably in our bike test, though the very slight 'wobble' inherent in its CDAF-based "Depth from Defocus" system made for a bit of a distraction and not-quite-tack-sharp images here and there.

The E-M1 II offers 121-point phase detect autofocus, and is capable of seriously impressive results. However, we were disappointed by a tendency of the camera to jump from a subject to the background, in continuous autofocus mode. We found C-AF to be very good at tracking subjects for candid portraiture in single shot drive mode, but not quite reliable enough to compete with industry-leading continuous AF systems.

It's worth noting that the G9 requires Panasonic lenses to utilize Depth from Defocus, and thereby unlock its best AF potential. If you have a stash of Olympus lenses already, you'd be better off sticking with the E-M1 II. If that's not a limiting factor, we'd recommend the G9 for fast action if you can live with the occasional, slightly less than razor sharp image. If your AF needs are less demanding, we have found the E-M1 II's AF to be better suited for casual use.

Stabilization

Sensor-shift stabilization is a standout feature on both of these cameras. Both offer a 5-axis based sensor-shift system with nearly-physics-defying 6.5 CIPA-rated stops when coupled with a compatible lens using optical IS. The G9 claims 6.5 stops with the 200mm F2.8 IS attached, as well as at wide focal lengths on non-stabilized lenses. The E-M1 II should be good for 6.5 stops with the 12-100mm F4 and 300mm F4 Pro lenses; with all other lens combinations Olympus claims 5.5 stops.

These two cameras have among of the best stabilization systems on the market

In our testing, the G9's stabilization provided slightly better results than the E-M1 II's. At 200mm the G9 gave us 5 2/3rd stops; the E-M1 II provided 5 stops. In our shooting, that translated to getting some sharp shots down to 1/5sec. At 24mm, the G9 gave a 3-stop advantage; the E-M1 II provided 2.5-stops. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

It's good news all around in this category – these two cameras have among of the best stabilization systems on the market. The G9 came up slightly stronger in our testing, but the differences are slim indeed.

EVF

Panasonic paid a lot of attention to the EVF in developing the G9. That effort resulted in a 3.68M-dot OLED panel with both 60 fps and 120 fps refresh modes. The E-M1 II's EVF is also an OLED and plenty nice, but it offers a lower magnification (0.74x to the G9's 0.83x) and lower resolution (2.36M-dot).

We're confident in calling the G9's EVF superior. If that's a major consideration in your purchase, chalk one up in the Panasonic column.

Operation & handling

If there's any category that comes down to personal preference more than anything else, it's this one. The G9 is a larger, slightly more DSLR-shaped camera. It offers a top panel status LCD, which is quite rare in its class. Both cameras are weather-resistant, highly customizable, and provide those lovely aforementioned flip-out LCDs.

Here's where we'd strongly encourage you to get to your local camera shop, hold both of these cameras in your hands and see which one feels better. Some of the DPR staff find Olympus cameras onerous to set up and prefer Panasonic's Quick Menu screens. Some of us love Olympus' interface and consider that it's worth the trouble setting it up. To each their own.

Conclusion

There are enough similarities between these cameras that it's reasonable to choose one over the other based on a spec that stand out to you. Does the G9's top-panel status LCD speak to you? Does the E-M1 II's excellent DCI 4K capture meet your specific need? Either camera will get you good image quality, industry-leading image stabilization, strong autofocus, and excellent customizability.

For our money, the E-M1 II feels like the better buy for the stills shooter, and the G9 better for someone who wants a stills camera with an excellent video feature set (with a hat tip to the E-M1 II's DCI 4K, of course). We felt the E-M1 II's AF wasn't as strong for fast moving subjects, but performed admirably in a host of casual shooting situations. It's also the smaller of the two, so anyone looking for a light, always-at-your-side everyday camera would be pleased with the E-M1 II.

The existence of the G9 can only mean good news for Micro Four Thirds shooters
in either camp

The G9 is just a little bigger and bulkier, which some shooters will prefer, and in our testing we thought it did a bit better keeping up with fast moving targets if you can deal with the DFD system's inherent wobble. That lovely big EVF will be a revelation to some users who thought they'd never love an EVF.

Really though, we're splitting hairs. There's very little to separate the two, and if you already have either brand's lenses, you'd do just fine to stick with that brand's stills flagship camera.

And the truth is, the existence of the G9 can only mean good news for Micro Four Thirds shooters in either camp. More competition means better products in the future, and that's a win in our book.

Categories: Equipment

Yosemite's Horsetail Fall 'firefall' event will require a vehicle permit this year

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:43pm
Photo by Ambitious Wench (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

For two weeks every February, Yosemite's Horsetail Fall appears to be composed of flowing lava rather than water when illuminated by the setting sun. This beautiful illusion is referred to as a "firefall," and it draws a large number of visitors who want to witness it in person. Due to the expanding size of these crowds, officials have announced that visitors (including photographers) will need to get a vehicle permit.

The permit requirement is an effort to deal with traffic issues and visitor safety, according to ABC7, which reports that officials are working with Yosemite Hospitality, Yosemite Conservancy, and the Ansel Adams Gallery on the matter. Details for the upcoming event are available on Event Brite where free reservations can be made.

According to the event page, Yosemite visitors planning to arrive via vehicle will need a permit to access Northside Drive between Yosemite Valley Lodge and El Capitan Crossover. Northside Drive will be closed to those without a permit from February 12th to February 26th.

A total of 250 parking permits are being offered for reservation on the Event Brite site.

The reservation requires visitors to provide vehicular information, including license plate, car make and model, and car color. Those who successfully reserve a spot will then need to pick up their permit from The Ansel Adams Gallery on the day of the reservation. Additionally, 50 or more first-come, first-serve permits will be offered at the gallery until 3PM each day.

According to the event page, in addition to getting a vehicle permit for the designation part of Northside Drive, visitors who want to see the firefall can either take a Yosemite Hospitality guided tour or hike to the viewpoints.

Categories: Equipment

Huawei may be the first to launch a triple-camera smartphone

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 5:21pm
Image: Forbes / Weibo

With dual-cameras pretty much a standard-feature on high-end smartphones these days, it was only a matter of time before the first manufacturer would announce a mobile device with three (or even more) camera modules per side. If rumors are true, it looks as if this manufacturer will be China's Huawei.

Unlike in previous years, the Chinese device-maker won't launch their new premium model at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of this month. Instead, the P20 (as the new model is likely to be called) will be announced at a stand-alone event in Paris on the 27th of March.

According to a report by Forbes, the P20 will be the first smartphone to come with a triple-camera, offering a total resolution of 40MP and a 5x optical/digital hybrid zoom. Additionally, the front camera will feature 24MP resolution.

As, with previous models, the cameras have reportedly been co-developed with German optics manufacturer Leica.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro features a dual cam co-engineered with Leica.

There are no further details regarding how the triple-camera technology exactly works, but we would assume the typical image output size will be considerably smaller than 40MP, and the high pixel count is mostly used for hybrid zoom and computational imaging purposes, such as de-noising and HDR.

The Mate 10 Pro is already one of the best smartphone cameras we have tested in a while, so it'll be interesting to see what performance Huawei can squeeze out of a device with an additional camera module. We'll know more in a few weeks time.

Categories: Equipment

Rumor: DJI Mavic Pro II will sport 1-inch sensor, may arrive in March

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:09pm

When the DJI Mavic Air came out, we pretty much knew right away that it wasn't the sequel to the Mavic Pro (or Pro Platium) that many had been hoping for. Following in Apple's nomenclature footsteps, DJI's Mavic Air is kind of like the MacBook Air—still powerful, but mostly built for extreme portability, not as a followup to the MacBook Pro.

Fortunately for those people who are still waiting for a true Mavic Pro successor, it sounds like you won't have to wait very long.

According to a new report from DRN, the upcoming DJI Mavic Pro II is already in production, and may see its official announcement as early as March, 2018. What's more, DRN got its hands on some rumored specs, claiming the Mavic Pro II will have:

  • A 1-inch CMOS sensor with 28mm lens
  • A 4820 mAh battery that will give it 35 minutes of flight time
  • Binocular rear sensors

They're also expecting it to take design cues from the sleeker Mavic Air, only in a larger package that can carry the bigger sensor and battery.

As with all rumors, nothing is confirmed until DJI says so, but the drone rumor mill should really heat up ahead of any official announcement in March. In the meantime, the folks at Autel might need to get a head start developing their next drone; that Autel EVO that out-specs DJI's Mavic Pro Platinum... it might not be superior for long.

Categories: Equipment

Zack Arias on Unsplash and the 'race to the bottom'

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:52am

When commercial photographer Zack Arias first heard about Unsplash—an image sharing website where photographers share high quality work 100% royalty free—his blood began to boil. It seems, for all intents and purposes, like the 'race to the bottom' that has plagued the photo industry for years has reached its nadir.

But instead of just getting angry and ranting about it online, Arias reached out to one of the cofounders, interviewed him about his creation, and came back today with a lengthy discussion titled "Thoughts on Unsplash."

If you feel like the current opinions out there on Unsplash are too shallow and don't deal with the real issues behind how Unsplash is used by designers, bloggers, and even major brands around the world, Arias' video will be a breath of fresh air. He dives into every aspect of this "business model" for photographers, addressing:

  • The legal nightmare that comes up when using images of identifiable people on Unsplash, many (read: most) of which have NOT been model released.
  • The legal night mare that comes up when using images of identifiable brands and property on Unsplash, many (read: most) of which have NOT been released either.
  • Why getting hired to do commercial work after being "discovered" on Unsplash is the exception, not the rule. Most Unsplash users just take your photo and leave, they don't look at your profile and consider hiring you.
  • Why he's personally offended and annoyed by tech startups that "use other people's money to gamble with an entire industry of people's livelihood."

The full video is 42 minutes long, and Arias hits all of the bases that are so often ignored when a discussion about Unsplash comes up. Check it out for yourself, especially if you've considered posting (or already do post) your work to Unsplash.

Categories: Equipment

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:12am

The Panasonic GH5S is a video-focused Micro Four Thirds camera built around what the company markets as a 10.2MP sensor. It's best understood as an even more video-centric variant of the GH5: it can shoot either DCI or UHD 4K footage natively (one capture pixel = one output pixel) at up to 60p.

Panasonic wasn't the first company to introduce high quality video to what was otherwise a still camera, but with its GH series it has been constantly expanding the range of professional video features appearing in consumer stills/video cameras. The GH5S takes this logic one step further, by lowering the sensor resolution and omitting image stabilization to make a more single-minded video tool, rather than an hybrid intended to be similarly capable at both disciplines.

The ability to shoot DCI 4K at up to 60p with no crop is the most obvious distinction between this and the standard GH5, but the differences run deeper:

Key specifications

  • Oversized 'Multi Aspect' sensor with dual gain design
  • 10.2MP maximum usable area from at around 12.5MP total
  • DCI or UHD 4K at up to 60p
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal capture at up to 30p
  • 8-bit 4:2:0 internal 60p or 10-bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI
  • 1080 footage at up to 240p (with additional crop above 200p)
  • Hybrid Log Gamma mode
  • ISO 160 - 51,200 (80 - 204,800 extended)
  • AF rated down to –5EV (with F2 lens)
  • 3.68M-dot (1280 x 960 pixel) OLED viewfinder with 0.76x magnification
  • 1.62M-dot (900 x 600 pixel) fully articulated LCD
  • 14-bit Raw stills
  • 11 fps (7 with AFC) or 1 fps faster in 12-bit mode
  • USB 3.1 with Type C connector

As well as the ability to shoot DCI 4K at higher frame rates, Panasonic also claims the GH5S's larger pixels and 'Dual Native ISO' sensor will mean it shoots significantly better footage in low light.

Differences vs GH5

  • "10.2" megapixel oversized sensor (vs 20.2MP Four Thirds sized sensor)
  • Dual-gain sensor design with two read-out circuits
  • Fixed sensor (no internal stabilization) for use with pro stabilization systems
  • DCI 4K available in 59.94, 50, 29.97 and 25p (GH5 is 23.98 / 24p only)
  • 1080 mode
  • AF rated to work in lower light (–5EV vs –4EV)
  • 14-bit Raw available
  • VLog-L enabled out-of-the-box
  • Time code in/out
  • 'Like709' and 'V-LogL' color profiles available in stills shooting
  • Mic socket offers Phantom Power and Line-level In options
  • LUT-corrected display available in playback as well as capture
  • 120fps viewfinder mode

Beyond these changes, the GH5S keeps the rest of the GH5's capabilities, with matching codec options and the same support tools, such as vectorscopes, wave forms and preview modes for anamorphic, Log and Hybrid Log Gamma shooting, for instance.

As on the GH5, Panasonic recommends the use of V60 rated cards or faster for shooting 400Mbps video. However, the V60 standard itself seems to be vague enough that even some nominally V60-compliant cards are still not fast enough. The company says to use either its own brand V60 or V90 cards or to stick to well-known manufacturers with a proven history of producing fast cards (and, ideally, to buy from a source with a good return policy).

Multi-aspect sensor

The GH5S uses a chip that natively shoots DCI or UHD 4K, meaning one pixel on the sensor is used to produce each pixel in the final footage. The sensor, like that on the GH1 and GH2, is oversized. This means it can shoot different aspect ratios using the full extent of the imaging circle projected by the lens, rather than simply cropping down from the 4:3 region.

As well as using the maximum amount of pixels and silicon for each aspect ratio (with consequent image quality benefits), this also means that the diagonal angle of view is preserved, whether you shoot 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or in DCI 4K's roughly 17:9 aspect ratio.

It also means that the GH5S should offer a fractionally wider angle-of-view than the GH5 when shooting video, especially when capturing DCI footage.

The only downside is that the use of a larger region could limit the use of APS-C and Super35 lenses in conjunction with focal length reducing adaptors, such as SpeedBoosters. A 0.71x reducer needs to capture a roughly 30.5mm image circle to cover the GH5S's larger video region, while a 0.64x reducer needs a 33.8mm image circle, both of which are larger than is guaranteed to be projected by an APS-C lens. You'll almost certainly be OK with the 0.71x adaptor, since that's been shown to work with the majority of APS-C lenses but with the 0.64x versions it's likely you'll have to check on a case-by-case basis.

Dual Gain

Panasonic describes the GH5S as having 'Dual Native ISO,' which is standard video terminology for a dual gain sensor design. Such chips have two read-out modes, one that maximises dynamic range at low sensitivity settings and a second designed to minimize noise but at the cost of dynamic range, at higher settings (the second mode changes the 'conversion gain': essentially increasing the pixel's voltage output). It's something we first encountered in Nikon's 1 Series cameras but that's become increasingly common over the past few years, resulting in visible improvements at high ISO settings.

The only difference we can see between the approach taken by Panasonic is that it lets you limit the camera to either one of the sensor's modes, whereas other brands just change mode in the background, without the user ever knowing.

One of the only concepts fuzzier than 'ISO' sensitivity itself is the videography term
'Native ISO'

From a stills point of view, the two circuits are used from ISO 160 - 640 and from ISO 800 and upwards, respectively. You'll see talk of the camera having 'Native ISO's of 400 and 2500' but this is perhaps best completely ignored.

One of the only concepts fuzzier than 'ISO' sensitivity itself is the videography term 'Native ISO,' which essentially appears to mean 'setting at which the quality is good but that gives room to move either up or down from.' This should not be confused with the idea of base ISO, which is the setting with the minimal amount of amplification, which usually results in the widest dynamic range.

Lower pixel count

The other thing Panasonic says contributes to giving the GH5S a performance boost in low light is the adoption of fewer and therefore larger pixels.

In general terms, there's no significant advantage to large pixels over small ones: individually they have access to more light (which usually means less noise when viewed 1:1) but once you scale things to a common size, the noise and dynamic range levels tend to be similar. Instead, using more but smaller pixels can have a resolution benefit, even if you then downsize. This is because pixelated systems can only capture a certain percentage of their nominal resolution, but sampling at a higher resolution then downsizing (oversampling) can preserve some of the higher frequency detail it initially captures.

By concentrating on video capture, Panasonic is able to pick sides in this struggle

However, readout speed and processing/heat constraints mean very few cameras currently offer oversampled video, instead sub-sampling their sensors to find the ~8.5MP needed to capture 4K footage. This creates a tension between the needs of high-res stills photographer and lower-resolution of video capture. By concentrating on video capture, Panasonic is able to pick sides in this struggle.

The most obvious benefit is that it's quicker to read out fewer pixels. So, while the latest processors are fast enough to generate oversampled footage from high pixel counts, the sensor read-out rate risks creating significant rolling shutter. Having fewer pixels means the GH5S should have less rolling shutter than the GH5.

Having a lower pixel count also means the GH5S is also able to include an anti-aliasing filter that reduces the risk of video moiré, without having to worry about limiting the stills resolution.

Just as we expect to see better pixel-level noise from larger pixels, logic would also lead you to expect greater pixel-level dynamic range (even though again, this advantage tends to disappear when you compare images at the same size). This additional pixel-level dynamic range is the reason the GH5S needs to offer 14-bit Raw files: because you need the extra bit-depth to provide room for that additional dynamic range.

No stabilization

From a photographic perspective it may seem odd to remove image stabilization from the camera but for high-end video shooting, Panasonic says it makes sense. Sensor-shift IS systems operate by 'floating' the sensor using a series of electromagnets. Even when they're 'off' they're not locked in place, they're simply set so that the electromagnets aren't attempting to correct for movement. This has the side-effect that, which mounted on a professional stabilization rig, there's a risk of the sensor being shaken around.

For high-end video work, Panasonic says its users would prefer to use dedicated gimbals and dollies, rather than internal stabilization, and that means physically locking the sensor in place to avoid unwanted interactions between these systems and a floating sensor.

However, regardless of what Panasonic says, there's also the limitation imposed by the oversized sensor: since the camera captures right out to the edge of the image circle there's simply no room to shift the sensor without risking capturing footage of the inside of your lens barrel. This is highlighted in the one situation in which the GH5S does offer digital stabilization: when combined with a lens offering optical stabilization. When engaged, the video has to crop-in slightly to provide room to pan and scan around the sensor.

Review Publication History
January 8 Introduction, video specifications, video features, first impressions
January 29 Raw Dynamic Range & Log and DR in video sections added
February 5 Image Quality, Video Quality and Conclusion added
Categories: Equipment

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