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Equipment

DxOMark Mobile report: OnePlus 2

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 2:35pm

Like its predecessor the OnePlus 2 offers the specification of a high-end phone at a budget price point. The camera's 13MP resolution isn't anything out of the ordinary these days, but optical image stabilization and a laser-assisted AF system tend to be found only on expensive top-end models. Additionally, the OnePlus 2 is capable of 4K video and can record 720p slow-motion footage at 120 fps. But in the end, a healthy spec list isn't enough to put the OnePlus 2 at the top of DxO's mobile rankings.

Categories: Equipment

To the point: LensRentals shows how to use Autofocus Fine Tune

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 2:01pm

DSLR autofocus has been the Gold standard for decades but the higher accuracy and precision offered by some mirrorless cameras risks tarnishing this image. However, many modern DSLRs include an option to fine-tune the autofocus behavior to help optimize their performance. Guest writer Joey Miller has written a short guide to how to make use of this feature, over on the LensRentals blog.

You don't necessarily need any specialist equipment to fine tune your lenses. But if you're going to go to all this effort, it might be worth it. Photo: Joey Miller

The article builds on the work Roger Cicala has already done, looking at the reasons that fine tuning is needed, with one of the main reasons being to cancel-out the effect of the combined tolerances of your camera body interacting with the combined tolerances of the specific copy of the lens you're using.

As we reach higher pixel counts, this imprecision is being highlighted in ever more detail (it was always there, but your camera wasn't letting you examine the problem in such fine detail).

Miller uses a Canon setup as an example, with up to two corrections per lens being possible (a 'Wide' and 'Tele' value being available for zoom lenses). But even this is a rather blunt instrument when it comes to achieving perfect accuracy. Given the variation we encounter using off-center focus points, a more complete solution would require something more like the Olympus system for Four Thirds lenses, which allowed two values per lens, per focus point. The best correction value can also change with subject distance, which is why Sigma's USB dock offers the ability to set four different values for four different subject distances.

Even if such control over calibration were possible for the end-user, it would be so arduous as to be nearly impossible. Products such as Reikan FoCal can help, but it's still fairly involved, and the situation-to-situation, day-to-day variability we've noted with some systems means even these don't completely solve the problem. Thankfully, the process looks as if it's about to be made simpler, with Nikon's D5 and D500 gaining something we've been proposing for several years now: an automated fine tune system that checks the results of its contrast-detect AF in live view mode to calculate the corrections needed to fine tune its secondary sensor phase-detection system. It's rather rudimentary in that only one value can be entered for any lens and body combination, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. 

Categories: Equipment

All cameras are great, but that doesn't make choosing one any easier

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 8:00am

It's often said all modern cameras are good. And it’s true: That's the reason most of the cameras we review get some kind of award. But it's also close to meaningless. It seems to imply that it doesn't matter which camera you buy, yet that's as far from the truth today as it's ever been.

The thing that stood out to me as we selected our recommendations in our recent roundups was that, no matter how much technology improves and cameras converge, there's still a huge difference in terms of what each camera does well and what it falls down on. Which means there’s still a right and a wrong camera for you.

Not just any camera will do

It is also true of course that it's your own skills, rather than the limitations of technology, that are most likely to hold you back. But again, this doesn’t mean that just any camera will do.

One of the most witless arguments I regularly see is: ‘it won’t improve your photography – Ansel Adams would get better photos using an iPhone.’ (And it’s always Ansel Adams, isn’t it?).

Follow that logic to its conclusion and none of us would ever use a proper camera. Sure, a great photographer will be able to take better photographs using any old camera, but they’ll probably take an even better photo if you give them a better camera - especially if it's a better camera for them. And, while it’s obvious that a better camera won’t instantly make me a better photographer, it could result in me enjoying photography more.

There is no ‘best’ camera

Predictably enough, there were howls of outrage at the cameras we recommended, with owners of other brands passionately advocating for the camera they've chosen. And it's easy to see how this comes about: along with a healthy dose of post-purchase justification I'd like to think that a lot of these people have bought cameras that are well suited to their needs. But this doesn't mean they'd be well suited to everybody else's.

We recommended the Sony a6000 in our roundups because it's probably the best all-rounder in its class: it's got a viewfinder, really good video, excellent autofocus and competitive image quality (despite its age). Yet it's not the camera I'd buy for myself, in this category.

Just look at the mid-range interchangeable lens camera category. There is no camera that's best at everything so in the end we selected the Sony a6000. It no longer offers the very best image quality or the very best specs, nor is it the stand-out leader for video at this point. However, without knowing more about the person we're recommending it to, it stands out as the best all-rounder because it's consistently competitive in every respect. By this same logic, we didn't end up recommending a couple of cameras that we as a team really like.

The Fujifilm X-T10, for instance, is a cracking little camera, it borrows most of its technology from the much more expensive X-T1 and retains just about everything we like about that camera (the JPEGs, the controls, the choice of lenses...). However, its continuous autofocus simply isn't a match for the likes of the a6000, NX500 or D5500 and its video is a significant weak spot, meaning it was never going to be one of our overall recommendations. And yet, for a certain type of photographer, it's the best camera in its class.

Know your needs and be willing to grow

One of the key lessons, then, is that it's important to think hard about what you want to use a camera for and what your priorities are. And just as a good camera can encourage you, a limited camera can limit you.

The Nikon D5500 offers some of the best image quality in its class, a well worked-out user interface, great autofocus and excellent battery life. But it's also one of the bulkiest cameras in its class, one of the least video-friendly and one of the few not to include twin control dials for the price.

I regularly see comments saying 'I don't care that my camera isn't very good at Movie shooting/Dynamic Range/Autofocus tracking, I never use it.' Which increasingly prompts me to wonder whether that person might use the feature more it their camera was better at it. As I review cameras it's occasionally frustrating to have to continue to use a feature that doesn't work very well. I know I'd just stop using it if it wasn't my job to persevere. So, before you consider your next upgrade, think carefully: might you use a feature more if it was easier to use or gave better results?

It still matters

This is why I think saying 'all cameras are great' is such an unhelpful statement: because they're not equally great at everything and the differences still matter.

The Fujifilm X-T10 is the last camera I'd choose for video work and its continuous autofocus isn't a match for the best of its peers. Yet there are plenty of people I'd recommend this camera to. Or the Olympus E-M10 II, for that matter.

The difference between the best and worst autofocus performance is the difference between it being easy to get the shot and there being a high chance you'll miss the moment. The difference between the best sensor and the weakest is the difference between you having the latitude you need when you get to Lightroom and having to work out how to hide the noise. The difference between the best movie shooting camera and the worst is the difference between being able to easily capture great-looking footage and finding yourself thinking ‘can I really be bothered with this?’

So yes, most modern cameras are amazing, but not all of them will encourage, support and inspire you in your photography. And that’s got to matter, hasn't it?

Categories: Equipment

Leica announces €80,000 prize fund for 2016 Oskar Barnack Awards

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 5:00am
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Leica has increased the value and volume of prizes on offer for the forthcoming Oskar Barnack awards for 2016, with the winner taking home €25,000 in cash on top of a €10,000 M system camera and lens. The newcomer prize has been doubled to €10,000 in cash, and the winner will also receive a Leica rangefinder kit. 

The competition theme will be the relationship between man and the environment, and entrants are expected to submit a series of 10-12 images that work together ‘with acute vision and contemporary visual style – creatively and innovatively’. As well as the main award there will be ten awards of €2500. 

Submitted pictures must have been taken in 2015 or 2016, and all entrants for the main competition must be professional photographers. Prospective professionals who are 25 years old or younger can enter the Newcomer Award – for which there will be a main prize-winner and a further ten photographers will have their work 'recognized'.  

An online public voting process will also take place via the i-shot-it website, and the winner of that will receive €2500 as well. Voters will be entered into a draw for Leica compact cameras.

The competition opens on 1st March and the closing date will be 15th April 2016. For more information visit Leica's Oskar Barnack awards website, and to see the submission of last year’s winner, visit the Leica gallery of Swedish photographer JH Engstrom. You can see other successful submissions in the general winners’ galleries

Press release: 

Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2016

Prestigious photographic competition continues in 36th year with brand new features and prizes

Now in its 36th year, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, an international photographic competition for professional photographers as well as up-and-coming photographers under the age of 25, continues its rich tradition in 2016 with numerous new features and significantly more attractive prizes. 

The recipients of this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Awards will be honoured at an official prize-giving ceremony, to be held in Germany for the first time in many years. Furthermore, the prize value for the winner of the ‘Newcomer Award’ has been doubled to a total of 10,000 euros and, for the first time, the work of ten further entrants will be recognised. 

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2016 competition is open for entries from 1 March 2016. Photographers interested in taking part can now submit their applications and photographic projects online, with a closing date of 15 April 2016. Terms and conditions of entry can be downloaded from http://www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com/

With prizes amounting to a total cash value of 80,000 euros, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award is one of the industry’s most prestigious photographic competitions. The winner in the main category will be honoured with a cash prize of 25,000 euros and Leica M-System equipment (a camera and lens) with an additional value of 10,000 euros. The prize money for the Newcomer Award has been doubled this year: the winner in this category will receive a cash prize of 10,000 euros and will also be presented with a Leica rangefinder camera and lens. 

In addition to the main categories, a further ten photographers will be awarded cash prizes of 2,500 euros each and, for the first time this year, will also be recognised as being among the twelve best photographers in the competition. The portfolios of all the finalists will be presented on the web site and published in a special issue of LFI Magazine. 

A judging panel of prominent international experts selects the winners, focusing particularly on the photographers’ unerring powers of observation, and how they show the relationship between man and the environment, expressed graphically in portfolios of up to twelve images. 

The members of this year’s jury are: Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director Leica Galerien International (Salzburg), JH Engström, photographer and last year’s award winner (Karlstad, Sweden), Christine Ollier, Art Director Galerie Filles du Calvaire (Paris), Chris Boot, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation (New York) and Lorenza Bravetta, Director, Camera – Italian Centre for Photography (Turin).

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award will also include the presentation of a public award, with the winner being chosen by online voting at http://www.i-shot-it.com/, the online platform for photographic competitions. The winner in this category will receive a cash prize of 2,500 euros. A prize draw for non-cash prizes of Leica compact cameras will also be held for all those who participated in the online voting process.

Categories: Equipment

Nikon releases D500 4K UHD sample video

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:09pm

Nikon has released a 4K UHD sample video recorded with the newly unveiled D500 DSLR. The Nikon D500 and full-frame D5 are the first Nikons to offer support 4K UHD capture at 3840 x 2160 at 30p/25p/24p. Open the clip above in YouTube, select 2160p and throw it into full-screen mode for the full effect – though you might want to proceed with caution if heights make you queasy.

Categories: Equipment

Still GReat: Ricoh GR II studio scene and real-world samples

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:13pm
The Ricoh GR II and a predecessor from the days of film – the Ricoh GR1

The Ricoh GR II is a modest update to the well-regarded Ricoh GR, as well an evolution of a beloved film camera, the Ricoh GR1. In this version, the high-quality formula remains: an 18.3mm (28mm equiv.) F2.8 lens in a compact body with a 16MP CMOS APS-C sensor inside. While the update doesn't bring any image quality changes, it does offer a chance to run the new camera through our studio test scene, as it will be an obvious competitor to the Fujifilm X70 when it arrives. Take a look at how it holds up against other 16MP compacts, and see how the street-friendly camera performs out-and-about.

Categories: Equipment

Otherworldly? Lomography introduces Jupiter 3+ lens

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 5:00am
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Lomography has resurrected another classic Russian lens to sit next to its Petzval 85mm and 58mm lenses. This time, the company has revived one of the Jupiter designs that are so popular in our Adapted Lens Talk forum. The 50mm F1.7 lens is offered in L39 mount with an included M-mount adapter. See the press release below for all of the details.

Press Release:

NEW JUPITER 3+ LENS (1.5/50 L39/M)

A BOLD, BEAUTIFUL & BRIMMING-WITH-BOKEH RESURRECTION FROM
THE ZENITH OF RUSSIAN OPTICAL DESIGN

  • A Resurrection of Planetary Proportions from the glory days of rangefinder photography
  • Unsurpassed Character with super-fast performance and incredible low light ability
  • Handcrafted Construction of solid chrome-plated brass and Russian glass optics
  • Rich Russian Heritage based on the iconic Jupiter lens

A RESURRECTION OF PLANETARY PROPORTIONS

Designed by the highly experienced Lomography team and manufactured by the expert technicians at the exact same Zenit factory in Russia as the original lens, the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens retains the strong character and Soviet spirit of its forbearer — crisp sharpness, smooth, natural colors and lush, dreamy bokeh — while transcending it in many ways. With substantial improvements on design and compatibility, Lomography is extremely proud to introduce the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens to their line of exquisitely handcrafted Lomography Art Lenses over half a century since the original Jupiter 3 lens was released.

UNSURPASSED CHARACTER

Equipped with a versatile 50mm focal length and fast f/1.5 maximum aperture, the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens allows you to effortlessly capture every moment from portraits to everyday life. It has an outstandingly shallow depth of field at large apertures and yields stunning results in all kinds of settings, whether you’re shooting in low light or bright sunshine. Subjects will pop out from the frame while the defocused areas will be drenched in beautiful bokeh, resulting in an extremely unique image quality that makes this lens incredibly special and gives a character entirely its own!

HANDCRAFTED CONSTRUCTION

With years of knowledge and experience, the skilled and dedicated team of technicians at the Zenit Factory in Russia has produced the lens to the highest quality. In addition to having a modified 0.7m closest focusing distance (an improvement from 1m on the original lens), the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens is directly compatible with L39 and M mount rangefinder and mirrorless digital cameras, as well as many more using adapter mounts.

Constructed from chrome-plated solid brass, the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens is much more durable than the original Jupiter 3 lens, which was made out of aluminum, so it will last for many, many years to come.

RICH RUSSIAN HERITAGE

First developed in Soviet Russia in the late 1940’s, the original Jupiter lens was crafted by the optical pioneers at the Zenit factory in the suburbs of Moscow and came to be loved for the incredible character it gave to
the images captured with it. Since then, it’s been used to capture millions of photographs around the world. But
production of the Jupiter 3 was halted in 1988 and the option to find one has become more difficult as time goes on. Lomography is proud to bring this lens back into the spotlight and make it available once again to
a new generation of photographers. The New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens is being produced in small batches and thus will be available on a very limited first-come, first-
served basis in the Lomography Online Shop.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

  • Focal Length: 50mm
  • Aperture: f/1.5 - 1/22
  • Lens Mount: L39, includes Leica M-mount adapter
  • M-mount Adapter Frame Line 
  • Triggering: 50mm frame line
  • Rangefinder Coupling: Yes
  • Minimum image circle: 44mm
  • Field of view : 46 degrees
  • Flange distance: 28.8mm (L39 mount) 27.8mm (M mount)
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.7m
  • Filter Thread Requirement: 40.5mm
  • Lens Construction: 7 elements in 3 groups

Order the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens

http://shop.lomography.com/jupiter-3-plus

Visit the New Jupiter 3+ Art Lens Microsite

http://www.lomography.com/jupiter

Categories: Equipment

Sony offers free inspection and service for RX1R II 'light leak' issue

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 4:03pm

Sony has posted an advisory on its support website for owners of the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II regarding reported 'light leak' issues. Those who have experienced photos with 'unwanted light' can send the camera to Sony for free inspection and repair if needed.

Only a certain set of cameras are affected, with serial numbers falling between 6310198 and 6311127. If that's you, Sony can be contacted at 1-239-245-6360 in the US. The company says that this inspection service will be offered through the end of March 2018.

Categories: Equipment

Going Pro: We interview Fujifilm execs in Tokyo

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 3:28pm

Toru Takahashi, (l) Director, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fujifilm's Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Divison and Toshihisa Iida, (r) General Manager of the Sales and Marketing Group of Fujifilm's Optical Device & Electronic Imaging Products Division.

Both men are pictured at Fujifilm's Tokyo headquarters at the launch of the X-Pro2 and X70.

Last week, Fujifilm announced several new products including two major new cameras - the X-Pro2 and X70. DPReview was at the launch event in Tokyo where we made time to sit down with two senior Fujifilm executives - Mr. Toru Takahashi and Toshihisa Iida. As well as the new cameras, we also spoke about Fujifilm's long-term ambitions, which cameras sell best in which countries and Samsung's apparent exit from the camera market.

Our questions are in bold yellow, and Mr. Takahashi's responses are indicated by TT while Mr. Iida's are indicated by TI in the following transcript, which has been edited slightly for clarity.

The X-Pro2 clearly replaces the X-Pro1 but is it the new flagship? Or does it sit alongside the X-T1?

TT: We have two flagships. The X-T1 and the X-Pro2. [Even after] the launch of the X-T1 the X-Pro2 still had a function. We have two different kinds of photographers to cater for.

Can you explain more about these different kinds of photographers as you see them?

TT: When we started the X-series with the X100 we were aiming at street photographers. And the X-Pro1 and now the X-Pro2 are extensions [of that concept]. The X-T1 is for those photographers who like to photograph sports, nature and wildlife. What they like to shoot is different, so we need to provide for two different kinds of photographers.

It has been four years since the X-Pro1 was announced - did you always intend to replace it with the X-Pro2?

TT: Of course. The X-Pro1 was our first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. We knew it wasn’t perfect. And we’re always persuing the perfect camera, so we always knew we’d have to improve on the X-Pro1. And now the time has come.

So why did it take so long?

TT: It’s not easy to improve this kind of camera! That’s one reason. The biggest element is the processor. The speed [of the X-Pro2] is much faster, in every respect. So that’s one reason it’s taken so long.

Fujifilm's X-Pro2 brings several updates compared to the original X-Pro1, including an improved hybrid viewfinder, better autofocus and significantly increased resolution.

Can you tell me approximately how long it took to create the X-Pro2 from the original design concept?

TI: Since we produced the original X-Pro1 we got a lot of feedback from photographers, and we tried to improve it with various firmware upgrades. After receiving all that feedback we started designing [what became] the X-Pro2. Also we asked for feedback on operability. For example, it’s a small change but all the buttons on the back of the X-Pro1 are on the right side of the LCD, not the left side. This research took one year or so, and then we decided ‘OK this will be the right product’. Of course at the same time we were developing the sensor and the processor. So maybe two years, in total.

Mr. Takahashi - you mentioned in your presentation at the press conference that Fujifilm is not interested in becoming involved in a ‘pointless technical race’. What did you mean by that?

TT: We think that the most important thing is overall image quality. So for example just increasing [pixel count] won’t make a better picture. We [also] need better high ISO image quality. It’s always a tradeoff, and to find the optimal point is very difficult. That’s the reason we why we picked the APS-C image format. A 35mm full-frame sensor is bigger, but it’s difficult to handle and will make the camera bigger. So we’re trying to pursue the optimal [combination of qualities] for photographers.

A lot of photographers still regard full-frame as a better format - do you think in the future that Fujifilm will create a full-frame camera?

TT: First of all, I think you need to understand their thinking. Because of 35mm film, they’re convinced that sensors should be [this format]. But it’s not true. Now, you can shoot detailed images [on the X-Pro2] at ISO 3200. In the film age, the maximum ISO was 400-800. So things are changing, and innovations have occurred but [some photographers’] mentality has not changed. I think we can offer the best picture quality by using the APS-C format.

TI: If we could create a camera of this [X-T1 / X-Pro2] kind of size with a larger format sensor, that would be good, but the lens is analog technology so a bigger format means a bigger size, and weight.

Is there anything that Fujifilm will never compromise on?

TT: As I mentioned before, picture quality. And because we picked the APS-C format, also size and operability.

Historically I know it has been a little more difficult in America to sell cameras which are smaller. There seems to have been a feeling that bigger cameras are more professional. Is this still true, or is this changing?

TT: I think that kind of mentality is gone. Remember at the beginning of the home video age, people had huge cameras for shooting their family occasions, but that was ten, twenty years ago. The mentality has changed - even though [Americans] still have big cars!

TI: I think that the American consumer is very smart. I respect them a lot. Their number one priority I think is actually performance, not size and weight. Asian consumers care more about [smaller] size but for Americans the quality and performance are the priorities. So if big cameras offer much better results, they’ll pick them. But when small camera systems [achieve parity] they’ll start to buy into smaller systems.

Fujifilm's X-A2 is a budget X-series model aimed at beginners and compact camera upgraders. Although it has not sold well in the USA, we're told that thousands are sold every month in Thailand, where they are popular with young female photographers.

I learned yesterday that the X-A2 is very successful in some countries - specifically Thailand. Can you give me some idea of how your sales differ globally, from country to country?

TI: At the professional level - so cameras like the X-Pro1, X-T1 and hopefully the X-Pro2 as well - we can sell them across the world. They’re very popular in Japan, Germany and in the USA. But cameras like the X-A2, while they haven’t done as well in the USA, they’re popular in Asian countries.

Young women are buying these cameras, and the primary reason they like them is for their rendition of skin tones. Mirrorless sales are now double compared to DSLRs [in these countries] and we’ve captured a large market share. The latest market data from Thailand for example shows that Fujifilm is number one in terms of value within the total interchangeable lens system.

What are the essential ingredients of the Fujifilm X-series?

TT: Product design is a key point of differentiation. We do this by ourselves. So sensor design, although we don’t make the sensors by ourselves. We design our processors, but of course we do not manufacturer them so we require other companies. But [whether we manufacturer a component or not] we stick to designs that we’ve come up with [in house]. So [the sensor in the X-Pro2] is a good example. This is a 24MP sensor that can produce something like 30-36MP equivalent resolution. Design is our strength I think. And lenses. We have very strong lens design capabilities. Lenses, we have our own technologies, we make lenses by ourselves.

I was pleased to see that apparently, video quality in the X-Pro2 has been improved. Is this a consequence simply of the higher resolution sensor and a difference in sampling, or has the processing been improved?

TT: It’s due to processing.

TI: It’s also due to the sensor readout speed. Because of the copper circuitry the sensor reads out very quickly and the camera’s sensor is powerful enough to process all of this information.

Previous generations of X-Trans had a lot of moiré - what was the cause of that?

TT: It was because of the X-Trans filter pattern. They bayer-pattern is very simple, but we chose X-Trans, which is complicated. And I won’t say that video quality was the number two priority, but the number one priority was still imaging. So we needed to focus on movie image quality, and now thanks to the faster sensor and faster processor [in the X-Pro2] even with the complicated filter pattern we’re able to improve the quality of the video a lot.

In the past you’ve primarily focused on the needs of stills photographers - are you moving into trying to appeal to video shooters too?

TI: Also we have a lot of customers who use Fujinon cine lenses and they’ve made specific requests for these lenses to be useful on our X-series cameras. They want one set of lenses for everything. So we’re listening to feedback from these customers and from our X photographers.

TT: And as you know, still imaging and video are merging anyway...

In your opinion, what is the perfect sensor resolution for all purposes?

TT: We should separate commercial photographers [in this discussion]. I think we can satisfy [most] photographers with the APS-C format, but commercial photography is different. Excluding commercial usage I think 24MP is good enough and more than this I think would require a larger sensor format than APS-C.

TI: The megapixel race means much less in [cameras like the X-series]. Output quality is everything. So at the moment we think that 24MP is maybe not the maximum resolution, but certainly the best. Considering lens resolution, it is the best resolution for APS-C. If we increased to 28 or 30MP there would be more disadvantages than advantages. Of course technology changes and I can’t predict the future, but at the moment 24MP is the best.

The only manufacturer to go above 24MP in the APS-C format is Samsung, which has recently apparently retreated from the mirrorless camera market. How do you react to that?

TT: I am not surprised. I think that their cameras are mechanically good, but something is missing. Heart, or emotion. That’s just my personal opinion.

TI: Samsung’s processing engines are so powerful, as in the NX1. But a camera is more than just a processor. It’s a lens, sensor, processor, ergonomics and operability and also [customer] service and everything.

The slimline X70 boasts a 16MP APS-C sensor and a fixed 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens.

A lot of the X70’s features are taken from the X100T. Do you anticipate the customer base being different for the X70 versus the X100T?

TT: I like both cameras very much. But for me, the X70 is the perfect camera to carry around, and if someone asked me to pick up either camera I’d pick up the X70. It’s more flexible for picture-taking. It is 28mm, and [although] F2.8 is a little dark, it is bright enough. For me, 28mm [is perfect] and it’s smaller than the X100T. Someone who already owns an X100 might buy an X70.

TI: I had a discussion with one photographer who specifically said that he was going to buy the X70 in addition to his X100T. Two cameras, both small cameras, one with a 35mm lens and one with a 28mm. More flexibility.

TT: This is just my personal opinion but 24mm would be even better, but we couldn’t make [the X70] this size if it had a 24mm lens.

Something we’re interested in at DPReview is the emergence of virtual reality imaging. Is this something Fujfilm is looking into?

TT: For the moment we want to work on the basics. Products like GoPro are popular, but the cameras are nothing special. We like to provide our customers with something special and unique so for now, that area is not an are we’re [interested in] pursuing.

What kind of company will Fujifilm’s camera division be in five years’ time?

TT: We’d like to be at least in the top three companies in the camera business by market share.

And how will you achieve that?

TT: As you know, mirrorless cameras have many advantages over DSLRs. That is a fundamental fact. So we pursue this approach, while the other two manufacturers [Canon and Nikon] stay with DSLR. But I don’t think they will stay there forever!

So you think that Canon and Nikon will be forced to move into mirrorless?

TT: They will. For sure. But the question is just how soon.

And the other company of course is Sony…

TT: Sony has a big advantage, they make their own sensors. That is a very big advantage for them, but they are weak in lenses.

TI: And they are weakened by having so many formats. APS-C, full-frame, [across both] DSLR and mirrorless. So their lens division must be under a lot of pressure!

Where are the remaining gaps in the X-series lens lineup?

TT: Customers are requesting more compact lenses. Our 35mm F2 is one example. So we may need to supplement this lens [with others of this kind].

TI: And also photographers are challenging us to make more telephoto primes. And astrophotographers want fisheyes, and also [we have requests] for tilting lenses. So although the volume [of those products] might not be as big, photographers are asking us.

Fujifilm's new 100-400mm telezoom, pictured under assembly in Fujifilm's factory in Sendai, northern Japan.

We talk a lot about digital imaging, but Instax is still very popular. Why is that, in your opinion?

TT: Instax is being used by the younger generation. They have never seen prints! So a print popping out the side of a camera is a [novelty] for them. And physical pictures. Exchanging pictures has become a new mode of communication.

Do you think film in general will have a resurgence?

TT: No, I don’t think so. The infrastructure [is no longer in place]. We have to continue to supply film and maintain our labs for another 10-20 years, maybe but I don’t think we can change the [downward] trend.

You mentioned in your presentation that demand for film peaked in 2000. Can you give me a current idea of how that compares to demand today?

TT: We sell less than 1% of that amount now. Across all formats. But we have to supply film to photo enthusiasts. They demand it of us, so we do.

Editor's note: Barnaby Britton

I've spoken to Mr. Iida many times over the past few years, both in interviews and privately. As always, he was candid and thoughtful when I spoke to him in Tokyo most recently. I have not met Mr. Takahashi before, but he impressed me with his candor, humor and obvious enthusiasm for photography. A keen amateur photographer before taking on his current role, Mr. Takahashi is very obviously someone with a clear idea of what makes Fujifilm unique, and a vision for how the company will develop in the future.

It was clear during our conversation that both Mr. Iida and Mr. Takahashi are proud of and pleased with the X-Pro2, and for good reason. As the successor to the original X-series interchangeable lens model it is perhaps the purest expression yet of the original concept behind the system. Fujifilm has yet to convince us that it can truly cater to the modern sports or wildlife photographer (the X-T1 is certainly no slouch but its autofocus system cannot compete with the likes of Nikon's 3D tracking and as Fujifilm admits, the X-series lacks much in the way of serious long glass) but the X-Pro2 is an easier camera to get right and its appeal is obvious. It's not too big, it's not too small, its viewfinder is excellent and let's be honest - it looks great. In short, it has precisely the same appeal as the original X-Pro1 and X100 but improves upon those models with significantly more resolution, better ergonomics (I love the AF joystick) and - after the passage of four years - a much more mature lens lineup.

And of course, better video. Although we haven't yet tested the X-Pro2's video mode in any depth, it certainly seems that the worst of the issues that afflicted previous X-Trans models are gone. Fujifilm's focus is still primarily on stills shooters but we're optimistic that the X-Pro2 is at least usable for video, if not entirely optimized for it. I get the feeling that the poor quality video of previous models in the X-series was something of an embarrassment for Fujifilm and it's good to see the company making an effort to improve this feature. Part of the reason for this improvement is processing, and part of it might also be the increased resolution of the new sensor and a change in how the data is sampled to create a video signal. Regardless, both the new sensor and upgraded processor are good news for stills photographers, too. With significantly more resolution than the previous generation this new 24MP sensor is a big step up for the X-series and our first impressions of image quality are very positive.

I agree with Mr. Iida when he says that for now, pixel counts much beyond 24MP are of limited usefulness on APS-C format sensors, and I very much doubt that Fujifilm will ever create a full-frame camera built around the 35mm film format. However, I would not rule out a move into medium format. Fujifilm has a long history of creating cameras and lenses built around medium format film (and, it is rumored, also around medium format sensors) and with the X-series reaching maturity, I would not be at all surprised if Fujifilm unveiled a new medium format digital system at some point. And don't forget: 2016 is a Photokina year...

Speculation aside, it is interesting to note that it was me, not Mr. Iida nor Mr. Takahashi that brought up Sony. Mr. Takahashi told me that he wanted Fujifilm to be in the top three camera manufacturers, but it was obvious that he was imagining Canon and Nikon to be the other two brands in that trio. Perhaps he was thinking in terms of competition in the APS-C space (representatives from more than one manufacturer have suggested to me privately that they doubt whether Sony is serious about sub full-frame formats in the long term) or maybe - to Mr. Iida's point - he thinks that Sony will flounder as a consequence of supporting too many systems.

My personal opinion is that Sony will be fine, and will continue to concentrate on the full-frame space alongside Canon and Nikon, but that Fujifilm will side-step them all by focusing on APS-C and (in the longer term) medium format platforms. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Categories: Equipment

Leica launches its first rugged camera with the X-U Typ 113 underwater compact

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 3:07pm
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German camera manufacturer Leica has announced it has produced a waterproof, shock-proof and dust-proof compact camera that uses an APS-C sensor. The Leica X-U Typ 113 joins the X family of compacts, but offers waterproofing to 15m / 50ft and a body that is designed to be used both beneath and above the waves.

The camera uses a 16.3MP CMOS sensor like the other models in the X series, but sports a 23mm F1.7 Summilux ASPH lens that delivers the same angle of view as a 35mm lens would on a full-frame camera. The lens can focus down to 20cm and features a flash housing directly above the axis of the front element that reduces the distance between the flash and the subject – which will be useful underwater, as illumination drops off quickly. The flash has a guide number of only 5m at ISO 100, and according to Leica has an operating range of 0.3-2m at that ISO setting. 

The camera shoots both Raw and JPEG files, and has a movie mode that records at 30 fps in 1080 HD resolution. When used underwater a press of the UW button activates Underwater mode, which adjusts the white balance accordingly and sets distortion correction to suit the conditions.

Leica says the camera was designed in collaboration with Audi Design, and that the top plate is made from high grade aluminum and the body coated in 'high-grip TPE armoring'. 

The camera is available now, and costs £2400 / $2,950. A floating neck strap is available for £50 / $95 and a wrist strap for £32 / $65. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is Leica's first ever commercially available underwater camera.

For more information see the Leica website

Press release:

Built for the challenge – born for adventure: Introducing the Leica X-U

New outdoor camera from Leica delivers outstanding picture quality in the harshest conditions   

Leica Camera has unveiled its first camera designed specifically for outdoor and underwater photography – the Leica X-U (Typ 113).  

Incorporating a fast Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format) with underwater protection filter, and a large APS-C CMOS sensor, this fully waterproofed member of the Leica X family delivers images with exceptional brightness and clarity, even in the harshest of conditions.  

Created for the adventurous photographer, the Leica X-U allows the user to capture breathtaking underwater moments in perfect detail, at depths of up to 15 metres. Shock-resistant, dust-sealed and shatter-proof, this rugged camera is the ideal companion for any outdoor expedition or adventure – whether it’s action or underwater shooting, extreme sports, travel, architectural or landscape photography – and also offers video capture in full HD quality.  

Optimum picture performance is guaranteed, thanks to the cutting-edge technology the X-U shares with all models in the Leica X range. Combined with its professional 16.5 MP (16.2 MP effective) APSC CMOS sensor, the Leica X-U’s premium Summilux 23 mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens ensures natural colour reproduction and outstanding resolution, even at the closest focusing distance of 20 centimetres. Its fast f/1.7 maximum aperture also offers the freedom to explore the creativity of selective focusing. In addition, due to the camera’s excellent resistance to stray light and flare, the Leica X-U is the perfect choice for an extensive range of indoor and outdoor lighting conditions – at any time of day or night.  

Made in Germany in collaboration with Audi Design, the stylish yet minimal Leica X-U focuses on the essential features: simple and intuitive operation, as well as ultimate precision. With a top plate made from premium aluminium and high-grip TPE armouring, the body ensures exceptional usability, handling and durability, as well as water resistance to a depth of up to 15 metres.  

Designed to embrace the elements, and for the most ambitious photography projects, the Leica X-U incorporates a non-slip body, a toughened monitor screen cover, and a failsafe double locking system for the battery compartment and memory card slot. These robust protective features ensure that photographers can concentrate fully on their subject, with full confidence in the camera’s durability.  

Furthermore, the minimal, intuitive design of the Leica X-U puts the most important creative tools directly at the photographer’s fingertips. Aperture and shutter speed can be set quickly and easily using the straightforward, typical ’Leica-style’ dials, while a practical underwater snapshot button ensures the camera is ready to capture the wonders of the underwater world immediately – without the need to search through menus. Thanks to the camera’s high resolution three inch screen and a wide range of useful automatic features, it takes just seconds to find the precise settings the photographer requires to capture their decisive moment.

Additionally, with its anodised aluminium control dials and an integrated flash above the lens, the Leica X-U is a perfect example of exceptional quality and attention to detail.

For those on a challenging professional assignment or a magical holiday of a lifetime, important moments can also be recorded in full HD, cinema-quality video – with a choice of 1920x1080 or 1280x720 pixel resolution, at 30 full frames per second in MP4 format. And whether the footage is intended for a professional production or a home movie to share with friends and family, the Leica X-U delivers high quality results that perfectly capture that special adventure.

Categories: Equipment

1.4 and More: Canon EF 35mm F1.4L II comparison

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:30pm

Canon is making some big claims about the development put into its 35mm F1.4L II. Its new Blue Spectrum Refractive optical element is claimed to minimize longitudinal chromatic aberration, and a new 9-blade aperture promises smoother bokeh. Initial MTF charts provided by Canon showed improvements in resolution and sharpness over the old 35 F1.4, and the Sigma 35 F1.4 Art as well. Once a copy landed in our hands, we decided to test these claims.

Sharpness

These shots were all focused wide-open in Live View on the bottom of the Space Needle, and shot within a few minutes of each other with the cameras white balance setting on 'Daylight.' They were then processed with no exposure corrections or WB corrections in ACR using the 'Adobe Standard' camera profile.

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When used wide-open, the differences between these three 35mm F1.4 lenses seem fairly significant. The new Canon shows little to no chromatic aberration on the tower of the Space Needle, an area where the other two struggle. It also shows better performance wide-open in the extremes$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1864").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1864); }); }) of the image$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1865").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1865); }); }). At F2$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1872").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1872); }); }) the Sigma starts to catch up in overall IQ towards the center, and the first version of the Canon starts to narrow the gap at F2.8$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1869").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1869); }); }), although in this specific area it never quite catches up. There are areas where there is a similar amount of sharpness$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1870").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1870); }); }) behind the Mark I's aberrations, and there are places where it is far behind$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1873").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1873); }); }) the Mark II version. These inconsistencies are part of the wonderful world of copy variation, and these lenses are by no means hand-selected examples. Overall, the Canon EF 35mm F1.4 L II does perform a step above the competition.

Copy Variation

After shooting this comparison on the Canon EOS 5DS R, we were concerned with how poorly the EF-mount Sigma 35mm F1.4 performed off-center. While we didn't have access to more EF-mount versions at the time, we did have a Nikon F-mount Sigma 35mm F1.4 in the office, which we adapted to a Sony a7R II with a Metabones adapter to re-shoot the comparison. While we were at it, we also threw in the Sigma 24-35mm F2 zoom, to see how it stacks up against two of the best 35 primes in the business. We adapted both the EF-mount Canon 35/1.4L II and EF-mount Sigma 24-35mm F2 to the same Sony a7R II via a Metabones Smart Adapter IV for a fair comparison. Result of this comparison are below. Please keep in mind the general caveats surrounding adapters and adapted lenses, especially around compounded mount tolerances affecting off-axis performance (which we see little evidence of). 

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Immediately, we see that a better copy of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art performs admirably against the new Canon 35L II, at least matching, if not slightly exceeding, center sharpness wide open$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1926").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1926); }); }) and even at F2$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1927").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1927); }); }). The story is a little different at the extremes$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1924").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1924); }); }) of the scene$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1922").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1922); }); }): although we see a great improvement in this copy of the Sigma 35mm, it still does fall behind the Canon wide-open with a hint more coma at the extremes. At F2.8$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1925").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1925); }); }) we see the gap between the Sigma 35mm and the Canon 35mm close, while the 24-35 F2 trails slightly behind.

The Canon 35L II continues to perform better with respect to chromatic aberration, though. The extreme variance in performance from copy-to-copy of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 is certainly concerning, and is a good reminder that discerning buyers should test their copy. Interestingly, Roger Cicala has actually found greater copy-to-copy variation with the Sigma 35mm Art in comparison to the Canon 35L II (see Conclusion of this article). This is also a reminder that any internet shootout (save for Roger's work) is generally prone to only being valid for the copies tested. We hope to circumvent this issue by - in the future - performing these sorts of shootouts with a copy that represents the performance of the average of a population.

Longitudinal CA

Method

Here we look for longitudinal chromatic aberration (CA), which manifests itself as green or magenta fringing behind or in front of the plane of focus. This is particularly an issue with fast primes, and isn't as easy to remove in post as one would like. Low amounts of longitudinal CA are, therefore, extremely welcome in fast primes that photographers are prone to shoot wide open, and Canon makes some bold claims in this department with the 35L II.

For this test we used our Lens Align tool, which shows green and magenta fringing quite easily in the horizontal black lines around the plane of focus.* The slight differences in lens size, optical center, and focal length meant moving the camera slightly to hold magnification constant. Focus was set wide-open on the center target in LiveView, then locked in place for the sequence.

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It looks like the Blue Spectrum Refractive optical element does what Canon developed it for. The 35L II is far ahead of the other two in terms of controlling chromatic aberration, although once again the Sigma is not very far behind. But even at F2$(document).ready(function() { $("span#imageComparisonLink-1874").click(function() { ImageComparisonWidgetLink(1874); }); }) the Sigma hasn't quite caught up, which in theory makes the new Canon the better choice for photographers looking to shoot wide-open.

Bokeh Comparison

While shooting the Longitudinal CA test, we put a net of Christmas lights a few feet behind our Lens Align tool to create beautiful balls of bokeh, giving us a way to visualize differences between the three lenses' out of focus characteristics. Hover your mouse over any given aperture of any given lens to have the main image switch to a full-frame view of the resulting shot.

Canon 35 F1.4L 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16
Canon 35 F1.4L II 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16
Sigma 35 F1.4 Art 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11

16

Comparing the new Canon to the old Canon, we can see the effect of the new 9-bladed aperture. Stopped down, the 'bokeh balls' have points to them on the older lens, whereas the new lens produces smooth out of focus areas. The odd number of aperture blades also ensures that the new 35 produces brilliant, multi-pointed sunstars.

It's important to note that all lenses show relatively similar-sized 'bokeh balls', suggesting that subject isolation characteristics should be relatively similar between all these lenses. That said, because bokeh and sharpness fall-off is complex, we can't make sweeping judgements about overall bokeh characteristics at any given plane; simply that, overall, it's unlikely that there are drastic difference between these lenses in terms of ability to isolate subjects and throw backgrounds out of focus.

All in all, what theses tests show is that the $1799 sticker price of the new Canon EF 35mm F1.4 L II does offer some significant advantages over its predecessor, but only a slight advantage over the Sigma that only high-megapixel bodies can really expose the differences in. The biggest advantage it provides is usable wide-open results with nearly no corrections required, which is getting tougher to achieve as resolution goes up. Hats off to Canon for the achievement, but hats off to Sigma for still remaining competitive at a much lower price.

* The rulers on the top and bottom of the chart are NOT part of the tool and are there for framing purposes only. These rulers are not parallel with the focus plane, and should not be used to judge sharpness in any way.

Categories: Equipment

Panasonic to launch Lumix DMC-CM10 without phone functionality

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 7:17pm

Panasonic has announced that the next version of its Lumix DMC-CM1 smartphone will dispense with its phone functionality to concentrate on being a camera. The Lumix DMC-CM10 will initially only be available in Japan, and is very much the same as the original DMC-CM1, but while it will run on the Android 5.0 operating system it will not be equipped to make phone calls. It will, however, be equipped with LTE communication facilities, and will be able to send text messages and send and receive data via telephone networks with an appropriate SIM card in place. Panasonic will provide its own network access for users as part of its Wonderlink service, where CM1 and CM10 owners can get 3GB a month with 150Mbps download speeds for 1480 yen/£9/$12.50. 

The camera appears to have the same lens and sensor as the DMC-CM1, and exactly the same body and features. It will be available from 25 February in silver and only 500 will be made per month. While the price isn’t clear yet it appears from the Panasonic store in Japan that it will be around 100,000 yen/£600/$850. 

For more information see the Panasonic Japan website

Categories: Equipment

Benjamin Von Wong's Shark Shepherd photoshoot captures an underwater fantasy

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 6:39pm

Photo by Benjamin Von Wong

Photographer Benjamin Von Wong has released photos and a video from his new Shark Shepherd photo shoot, which features a model in a white dress in the sea as sharks swim nearby. The shoot took place in Fiji and aims to expose a less-often seen side of sharks as peaceful creatures. 'I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes and show that it is possible for us to co-exist together in perfect harmony,' said Von Wong in a post on his blog.

In his PIX 2015 talk, Benjamin Von Wong discusses his journey from taking what he describes as 'ordinary' photos to creating 'extraordinary' imagery. Throughout his career, he's made a name for his surreal images that blend practical elements, fantastic locations and post-processing. For Shark Shepherd, nothing has been added in post-processing – the photo shoot features model Amber Bourke, a champion free diver, with assistance provided by divers Steve Hathaway and Kris McBride. According to Von Wong, the shoot took place over three days with more than six hours of waiting for curious white tipped reef sharks to swim up close. The sharks were described as being like 'squirrels at a park,' getting close out of curiosity but darting away quickly when someone moved.

Categories: Equipment

A classic reinvented? Domke Chronicle Review

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 1:56pm

Domke Chronicle Ruggedwear Review
$349/£296 www.tiffen.com

Domke has a long history of making bags that to serve the needs of working photographers. From day one, Domke bags have been designed for accessibility, durability and style that intentionally avoids attracting attention, and have enjoyed popularity with generations of pro photographers. A few years ago, after gathering input from professionals and longtime customers (myself included), Domke introduced the Next Generation line, bringing modern updates to its classic bag.

For a little background, I've used a Domke J-2 (a ballistic nylon version of the F-2) as my standard DSLR working bag for almost 15 years. I don't use it to carry every little thing. I don't use it when I want to travel light and fast. I don't use it when I'm going to be hiking up a mountain. But I use it when I know I'm going to be in and out of my bag all day long. Weddings, kids' birthdays, family reunions and the like all require quick and easy access to bodies, lenses and accessories. The J-2 has served me well for years and despite its age, still looks and functions well enough that I could take it to a wedding tomorrow. 

As a long time user I was interested to see what the Next Generation bags had to offer. Since the Chronicle is the Domke Next Generation bag closest in size to my old J-2, I figured that was a good place to start. Domke even calls the Chronicle 'The grandchild of the F-2.'

Specifications

  • Exterior: 15.75" (L) x 7" (W) x 10" (H) (40 cm x 17.8 cm x 25.4 cm)
  • Interior: 12.25" (L) x 6.5" (W) x 9.25" (H) (31.1 cm x 16.5 cm x 23.5 cm)
  • Weight: 4.2 lbs. (1.9 kg)
  • Fabric/color choices: RuggedWear Black, RuggedWear Military, Canvas Khaki/Black and Cordura Black
  • Fits a medium DSLR and 2-3 lenses plus accessories

In Use

In many ways, the Chronicle, and much of Domke's Next Generation lineup, is very similar in design to its classic bags. That being said, there are a number of upgrades, some minor and some more significant. In use, the Chronicle will feel familiar to anyone who has used a Domke bag in the past. The Gripper Strap on your shoulder, side pockets for accessories, metal snap hooks to close the main compartment's flap, and a removable grab handle strap are all there and just as useful as ever.

The Next Generation bags bring a new fabric to the Domke lineup, Ruggedwear. Ruggedwear is a waxed-canvas fabric that Domke claims combines toughness, water resistance, and a retro 'well-worn' look. In my book, it's pretty good looking and seems as tough as my other Domke bags. The top access zipper makes grabbing your camera or changing a lens significantly quicker. This is a feature I highly value on my shoulder bags and feel that it is exactly the kind of functionality that other Domke bag users will value.

The expandable side and front pockets reduce overall size of the bag while still giving you options for tucking in that one last piece of equipment. A redesigned top flap and side rain hoods offer more reliable protection from the elements. The velcro 'silencers', small flaps that cover the velcro closures and keep them from making noise, are a neat idea, but I have to admit that I have yet to use them. The antique stainless hardware is a nice upgrade. Sadly, the plastic clips that attach the grab strap are a significant downgrade. They feel flimsy enough to break in the very near future. I wish Domke had used their traditional metal clips.

New plastic clip on the left, classic metal clip on the right.

Moving away from Domke's standard 1/2/4 section inserts, the Next Generation system offers an extensive system of internal divider options. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways you can set up the Chronicle. It comes with three dividers, two full width and one half width (along with one movable 'pocket'). The dividers have velcro edges and stick to the sides or to each other in just about any position you choose. If those provided do not give you enough options, Domke sells additional dividers along with pockets, pouches, and padding that will help you set up your bag in just about any configuration. The Chronicle only comes with three of these dividers, which I feel is too few considering its price tag. I would have liked to see 1-2 more dividers included.

Like my Domke J-2, the Chronicle has a well padded and removable baseplate. Unlike most older Domke bags, the Chronicle has four padded 'walls' around the sides. This has the advantage of giving your gear an additional measure of protection that it wouldn't have in a softer-sided traditional Domke bag. It also has the effect of giving the bag more boxy structure than the older bags. The Chronicle doesn't form to your hip or back when carrying it. Sure, you could remove the walls, but unlike the J-2 with its inner lining of velcro or the F-2 with its inserts, the Next Generation divider system has nowhere to attach without the 'walls.' 

The gear capacity of the Chronicle is really dependent on how you set up the dividers. My default for shoulder bags is to have a large space on one side for a body+lens and then the lens dividers over to the other side. For me, this is the best compromise between maximizing space and still being able to quickly grab my camera. This was how I set up my old J-2 for every wedding I shot and it is how I set up the Chronicle. With this layout, I was pretty easily able to carry my 6D+ 24-70/2.8, 16-35/2.8, 70-200/2.8 a speedlight and assorted other small accessories.

By setting up the dividers so that things are a little more tightly packed, you should be able to also fit in a spare body or a couple of prime lenses pretty easily. A mirrorless kit is almost swallowed by a bag this size and generally I would suggest something smaller (perhaps the Domke Next Generation Herald). But depending on the body you use and the number of lenses you carry, the Chronicle could easily haul a lot of mirrorless gear and keep it accessible.

New vs Old

Compared to the old J-/F-2 designs, I really appreciate some of the new features. The expandable side pockets, the quick access zipper, and divider system top that list. In addition, the Chronicle's new top flap and side 'ears' do a better job of protecting gear from the elements than the smaller J-2 flap.

Historically, I have thought I preferred the less structured shape of the J-2. It hugs my side better and feels as if I can move through crowds more easily. But in recent years I have come to realize a few things about shoulder bags. Past a specific size, a big shoulder bag is just a big bag no matter what. While a bag like the J-2 might protrude slightly less than the Chronicle, they are still pretty big. Furthermore, a more structured bag is a lot easier to actually use while working. The added stiffness aids in getting gear in and out; you aren't fighting with the bag to get a lens back into its divider.

"For as much as I've always respected the world-weary photojournalist look of the older Domke bags, I think the Chronicle is just a little more classy looking"

Finally, the more rigid design of the Chronicle makes it unlikely to tip over when set down on the ground. Overall, I could work with either of these bags. The J-2 (and the F-2 before it) has had years of hard use proving its worth. However, the Chronicle has enough important improvements that I would choose it if I had to pick just one. To be honest, for as much as I've always respected the world-weary photojournalist look of the older Domke bags, I think the Chronicle is just a little more classy looking, particularly in the Ruggedwear fabric. 

What's the Bottom Line?

The Domke Chronicle Ruggedwear is a solid, well-designed bag that should stand up to the abuse that serious photography can dish out. And let's be honest, updating a classic can be difficult. Look at the historical joke that 'New Coke' has become. Domke, however, has stayed true to its soul with the Next Generation line and most specifically, with the Chronicle. Most all of the updated features are solid improvements with very few misses.

Yes, this is a premium bag at a price that starts to edge close to the truly high-end offerings out there. But this is not simply a fashion accessory either. At the end of the day, just like the old F-2, this is a bag one can work out of. It is a bag that should be as at home coming out of a staff photographer's trunk as it is at a wedding or portrait session. Most everything you truly need out of a shoulder bag is here, and there's very little that you don't.

What we like:

  • An update of a classic functional design
  • Overall construction quality
  • Made in the USA
  • Top zipper access
  • Expandable side pockets
  • Velcro silencers
  • Extensive divider system

What we don't like:

  • Premium price tag
  • Plastic clips on grab handle
  • Too few dividers included
  • Boxy shape

Final Rating: 

Categories: Equipment

Manfrotto introduces next generation of on-camera LED panels

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 5:39pm
Left: CROMA2, Right: MICROPRO2

Italian accessory manufacturer Manfrotto has introduced three improved LED panels that are designed to be used by professional and serious enthusiasts in the hot shoes of their cameras. The new panels, which are powered by Litepanels, are the CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and the SPECTRA2. Each of the new models features surface-mounted LEDs, with new lenses that improve the intensity of illumination in the light path thus delivering better efficiency and less fall-off. The company also says the new technology benefits the accuracy of color rendition. 

The CROMA2 and MICROPRO2 panels are very similar, except that the CROMA2 offers variable color temperature so that it can work in both tungsten and daylight situations – as well as those in between. Using a mixture of daylight and tungsten LEDs, the dominance of colors can be controlled via a continuous dial between 3100K to 5600K. The CROMA2 has a maximum output of 900lux, while the MICROPRO2 can manage 940lux. 

The SPECTRA2

The SPECTRA2 is a smaller panel with a maximum output of 650lux, and is daylight only. A dimmer switch allows its power to be reduced to 50%. 

There is a range of diffusers and colored filters available for each of the panels, and they all run from 6 AA type cells, an AC adapter or an L-Type Li-ion battery. They all have a ball and socket tripod head included, and the larger panels come with AC adapters and a bracket for an L-Type battery. For the SPECTRA2 these are optional extras.

The SPECTRA2 costs $219.99/£154.95, the MICROPRO2 $349.99/£259.95 and the CROMA2 is $418.99/£329.95. 

For more information visit the Manfrotto website.

Press release: 

Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, imaging equipment and accessories industry, announces the new generation compact LED lights for professional and advanced hobbyist videographers and photographers. 

CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and SPECTRA2 offer the latest LED technology available (SMT - Surface Mount Technology) in a portable size, which guarantees images with perfect color rendition and improved optical efficiency.

These on-camera LED panels, powered by Litepanels, are part of the new ready to use Manfrotto LED lights. 

CROMA2 AND MICROPRO2: COMPACT NEW LED TECHNOLOGY

A new range with the same design, the SMT LED panels embed innovative lenses, which have been specifically created for high efficiency and CRI (Colour Rendering Index).

The intensity of the LED devices can be controlled by the user - CROMA2 up to 900lux and MICROPRO2 up to 940lux. The colour temperature in CROMA2 can be regulated from 3100K to 5600K, which makes this device the perfect versatile LED panel to match the existing ambient lighting. MICROPRO2 is Daylight 5600K and permits the colour correction thanks to the diffuser and gel filter included in the pack.

CROMA2 and MICROPRO2 operate on six AA standard batteries, from mains through the included AC adaptor or on L-Type Li-ion batteries through the included battery adaptor.

Compact and powerful, thanks to the included ball head they can be used for both on camera as well as off camera use.

SPECTRA2: MINI BUT POWERFUL

The most compact LED Panel in the professional range - high efficiency in the palm of your hand. SPECTRA2 features the state-of-the-art LED SMT technology, which guarantees images with perfect colour rendition and flicker-free functionality.

SPECTRA2 is perfect for on camera use with the included new ball-head, as well as for off camera use.

The LED device is dimmable, capable of emitting 650lux, and provides a further increase in the light output thanks to the boost mode (+50%). The colour temperature of the LED Panel is Daylight 5600K but it can be changed thanks to diffusers and filter gels.

SPECTRA2 can operate on six AA standard batteries and offers, as optional, AC or L-Type Li-ion batteries adaptors.

These new powerful and compact Manfrotto LED lights guarantee best performance with a high quality light. CROMA2, MICROPRO2 and SPECTRA2 represent the top range of on-camera units.

Categories: Equipment

MaxCurve curve editing tool for iOS connects with Photoshop on a desktop

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 3:36pm

MaxCurve is an app for iPhone and iPad that, as the name suggests, relies predominantly on curves for image editing. Overall, there are 20 curve adjustments available which are grouped into so-called kits. Another key feature of MaxCurve is its ability to connect, via Wi-Fi, to a desktop version of Photoshop that is running on a Windows PC or Mac. Read more

Categories: Equipment

Macphun Aurora HDR version 1.2 update released

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 2:55pm

Macphun has released Aurora HDR Pro version 1.2, adding a few new features and several improvements to its image editing software. The update includes support for .EXR and .HDR image files, compatibility with Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Raw files, and support for Photos for Mac editing extensions.

In addition to the new features, Aurora HDR 1.2 brings several improvements to the application. Macphun claims that the user interface has been improved for 11-inch and 13-inch laptop displays, chromatic aberration reduction has been improved, and the application's overall performance has been boosted as tools like HDR Merging are now faster.

Improvements:
  • Better Raw file handling for images created by Panasonic, Olympus and Fuji
  • Updates to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop plug-ins for enhanced support to keywords, metadata, and "F" Screen mode
  • Enhanced masking brush for better smoothing on edges
  • Improved clipping results for overall HDR effect in shadows and highlights
  • Chromatic aberration reduction has been significantly improved
  • Better UI support for 11" and 13" displays at multiple resolutions
  • Improved performance and various bug fixes. Faster HDR Merging, faster Deghosting, enhanced Chromatic Aberration Reduction

Existing Aurora HDR users can update to version 1.2 within the application for free, while new users will need to buy a license for $39.99 USD.

Via: Macphun Blog

Categories: Equipment

Two views on the X-Pro2: Hitting the streets with Fujifilm's flagship

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 8:00am

You probably know all about the X-Pro2's specs by now, but what's it like to shoot with? Sam and Richard hit the streets of Georgetown, Seattle with the camera to see how it handles different types of shooting. What did they like? What came up short? Follow them and find out...

For the specs and more detail about the camera, read our Fujifilm X-Pro2 First Impressions Review.

Categories: Equipment

The power of a photograph: Lynette Johnson and Soulumination

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sun, 01/17/2016 - 8:00am

In 2005, wedding and portrait photographer Lynette Johnson founded an organization that would have a profound impact on over 1,400 families. Celebrating its 10th year, Soulumination is a non-profit that provides free professional photography sessions for individuals and families facing truly devastating circumstances – the loss of a child (or a parent with young children) to terminal illness. Now with almost 50 volunteer photographers, Soulumination provides a loving remembrance to comfort families and loved ones through extremely difficult times. 

In her PIX 2015 talk, Johnson discusses her work founding and growing Soulumination. She's also joined by 'Soul Mom' Debbie, who brings a heartfelt perspective on just how important it is to have photographs that celebrate the life of a loved one. Lynette and Debbie give a moving talk, one that really illuminates how priceless a photograph can be.

Watch the talk and visit Soulumination's website to learn more about their mission. The organization is currently running a ten-week campaign celebrating its ten years, hoping to raise $100,000 to continue helping families.

Categories: Equipment

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