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Equipment

Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary for Sony E-mount sample gallery

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 01/03/2018 - 7:00am

The Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary is an ultra-fast wide-angle prime for Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras. The lens features low-dispersion elements, a nine-blade aperture and weather-sealing, all for under $450.

We'll be posting a gallery from the Micro Four Thirds version of this lens in a few days.

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Categories: Equipment

Rock n Roll unveils handcrafted leather 'Hendrix' camera straps

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 3:40pm

Rock n Roll straps has launched The Hendrix Straps, a product line containing three handcrafted leather camera straps composed of between 52 and 64 individual leather pieces. The company bills its camera straps as ideal for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, explaining that the leather is supple enough to wrap around a wrist in addition to draping around one's neck.

The Hendrix camera strap features leather components that have been cut, threaded, and then stitched by hand, a process that takes more than two hours, according to Rock n Roll. Each strap is 24mm / 0.9in wide with two length options—100cm / 39in and 125cm / 49in—and three color options—Black, Red Dot Special Edition, and Cigar Brown.

The 100cm Hendrix strap (any color) is €120.00 (~$145 USD) excl. VAT, while the 125cm strap is €130.00 (~$156 USD) excl. VAT.

Categories: Equipment

Why you should own a 135mm F2 lens

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 12:29pm

Image quality, weight and value for money. We have come to accept that most lenses are strong in only one or two of these three factors, that I personally focus on when researching lenses to buy. Sometimes though, we stumble upon a great lens design which is strong in all three. One of the prime examples of such a design is the "nifty fifty"—the 50mm F1.8 lens construction that many lens manufacturers provide. Another example is the 100mm (or sometimes 90mm) F2.8 macro lens. If you buy a nifty fifty or a 100mm macro lens you simply cannot go wrong—you will get a great and handy lens for your money, with great image quality.

Today I want to talk about another such lens design: The 135mm F2 lens. I use the word design, because although the available 135mm F2 lenses aren't the exact same optical formula, they share many important traits. Perhaps you have seen the photos of masterful Russian portrait photographers such as Elena Shumilova or Anka Zhuravleva. They create a beautiful, mesmerizing dreamscape in their photos, and their secret weapon, besides an impeccable sense for aesthetics, is the 135mm F2 lens.

The moment I tried the Samyang 135mm F2 for the first time after purchasing it, I immediately felt that it was a very special lens. I took a few shots with the lens on my way home after buying it. I was blown away when I loaded the photos into my computer. I had of course heard that this lens is supposed to be very sharp, but I had never before had such a full blown "wow" experience when reviewing the sharpness of a lens.

The flawless image quality is only half the story though. Another thing that makes people go "wow" over the 135mm F2 lens design is the bokeh, which can be so creamy that distant backgrounds almost render as gradients. The 135mm F2 lens design is truly special, and in this article (and the video I made), I want to try to convince you as well.

Subject Separation

There are only a handful of foolproof strategies for making a great photograph. One of them is simplicity: A clear, simple subject that constitutes a shape, standing out and contrasting against a calm and simple background.

When you shoot a 135mm F2 lens at F2, your subject will stand out in this beautiful way, often without much work needed from you as the photographer. Just place your subject against a distant background, and half of the job is done. Even if the background is very close to your subject, somehow the optical construction in the 135mm lens will still manage to separate the background beautifully.

The Creamiest Bokeh

To achieve creamy bokeh, a lens should have a wide maximum aperture and a long focal length. One very popular lens for bokeh fiends is the Canon 85mm F1.2—it can produce extremely creamy out of focus backgrounds. But I would argue that a 135mm F2 lens produces even greater bokeh, thanks to the long focal length that compresses the background far more than the 85mm lens.

You would be hard pressed to find any other lens on a full frame camera that produces creamier bokeh. There are, of course, outliers—such as the legendary unicorn lens Canon EF 200mm F2—but that one isn't a great alternative unless you are cool with spending $5,700 and carrying around something about as wieldy as a fire hydrant.

Unreal Sharpness

When I was on my way home after purchasing my first 135mm lens (the Samyang/Rokinon one) I took a few quick snapshots just to try out the lens. The first shot I ever took with this lens was of my neighbor's cat, as it was sneaking around in a bush. When I got home and loaded the photo into Lightroom I was blown away by two things.

First of all, the background separation and the bokeh: I had photographed lots of animals in bushes before, but never before had I seen the bush melt away in the way it did with the 135mm lens.

Second of all, the incredible sharpness of the photo: I have owned many lenses, most of which I bought because they were supposed to have world-class sharpness, but the Samyang 135mm still stands out to me.

Never before (nor after) have I seen a lens with this level of sharpness wide open. Perhaps this impression of unreal sharpness is strengthened by the contrast to the extremely creamy bokeh you typically get in the same photo.

Close Focus Ability

Most of the available 135mm F2 lenses have a very short minimum focusing distance in relation to the focal length, creating a magnification ratio of around 0.2 - 0.25. This is great news if you like to photograph small things up close. These lenses go about as close as you could get without a dedicated macro lens.

Low Weight

Lenses with extreme sharpness and bokeh tend to be heavy. For example, the legendary Canon 85mm F1.2L weighs in at 1025g, and the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art isn't too light either at 1130g.

Sure, not all 135mm lenses are lightweight—Sigma's new 135mm F1.8 is rather heavy at 1130g—but if you look at the Samyang 135mm F2, which is pretty much flawless optically, it weighs only 830g. And if you want autofocus, I would recommend the Canon 135mm f2.0L, which is incredibly light for its performance at just 750g.

Extreme value for the money

While there are certainly pricey 135mm F2 lenses out there (such as the aforementioned Sigma 135mm F1.8 Art, or the Carl Zeiss 135mm) there are a couple that give you extreme value for the money. When you buy a lens with fantastic sharpness and image quality at all apertures, you typically expect it to cost $1,200 on up. But like a glitch in the matrix, an anomaly that shouldn't exist, you can get the Samyang/Rokinon 135mm for as little as $430 brand new. The only downside with that lens is that it is manual focus, which might not be suitable for photographing sports or children. Otherwise this lens is absolutely incredible.

If you want autofocus and great value for money, buy the Canon 135mm, as it has almost the image quality of the Samyang, and you can get it for under $1,000 new. The Canon is about as sharp as the Samyang, but it has some very slight chromatic aberration. I would recommend buying it used if you want to save some money, with the added benefit that you can re-sell it at the same price as you bought it for, effectively giving you the opportunity to "rent it" for free.

Which One to Buy?

If you want the best value possible for your money, and can survive without autofocus, buy the Samyang. If you must have autofocus, and care about weight, buy the Canon. If you want the best possible image quality, and you must have autofocus, and you don't care if it is a bit heavy (maybe you need it for studio use), buy the Sigma. Include the Carl Zeiss in your research though, it might be an interesting lens for you, even if it is a bit pricey for what you get. If you are a Nikon user, of course have a look at the Nikon AF Nikkor 135mm f/2D DC and compare it to the other lenses mentioned in this article.

Whatever lens you pick in the end, you will make a great purchase. All of them are extremely sharp and produce mouth-watering bokeh, and all of them are reasonably priced for what you get. I have only owned my 135mm for less then a year, but already it is one of my top three most used and most fun lenses.

Micael Widell is a photography enthusiast based in Stockholm, Sweden. He loves photography, and runs a YouTube channel with tutorials, lens reviews and photography inspiration. You can also find him as @mwroll on Instagram and 500px.

This article was originally published on Micael's blog, and is being republished in full with express permission.

Categories: Equipment

Google Camera mod brings Pixel 2 portrait mode to older devices

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 10:59am
Portrait Mode on the Google Pixel 2

Google's Pixel 2 comes with one of the best-rated smartphone cameras in the world, and is one of very few single-lens devices to offer a background-blurring, fake bokeh portrait mode. Unlike dual-lens setups, the camera uses machine learning and neural networking to generate a foreground-background segmentation on both front and rear cameras. On the rear, the Pixel 2 also uses depth data from the image sensor's dual-pixel technology for this task.

Thanks to Charles Chow, developer of the Camera NX Google camera mod, the feature is now also available to users of the original Google Pixel as well as the Nexus 5X and 6P smartphones. Portrait mode was included in version 7.3 of the Camera NX app but, due to a lack of dual-pixel technology on older Google Android smartphones, uses the exclusively software-based approach of the Pixel 2's front camera.

The developer says the functionality has so far only been tested on the Nexus 5X, although it should work on Nexus 6P and first generation Pixel phones as well. If you want to try Camera NX and the new Portrait Mode you can find all technical details and download links in Charles' article on Chromloop.

Categories: Equipment

Take a look inside Hasselblad's camera factory in Sweden

DPReview.com - Latest News - Tue, 01/02/2018 - 9:00am

Take a look inside Hasselblad's camera factory in Sweden

Hasselblad’s factory is located in Gothenburg – Sweden’s second largest city. The company has operated in Gothenburg since 1841, but it only became a camera manufacturer in 1941. Today's HQ, down the river from the city centre, is where the company makes both the H-series cameras and the newer X1D mirrorless model.

During a recent visit I was shown around the factory and was lucky enough to get permission to photograph the production line in detail. They knew I was coming so any secret stuff was tucked away safely out of sight, but it was just as interesting speaking to the staff and finding out about the components of the cameras, what they do and seeing how they are made.

There were three things that really struck me about the factory. The first is that it is a lot smaller than other similar plants I’ve visited in the past. I was escorted almost all the time I was there, but there was no reception desk where I had to sign in, and I didn’t even have to wear a visitor’s badge – I guess because everyone knows everyone else and strangers stand out. The company employs 180 people worldwide, with only 40 people at the factory - and 30 of them working in production.

The second thing that caught my interest is the number of components that have been designed to be used in both H6D and X1D, thus making manufacturing more efficient. The third is the hand-made nature of the products. I’m used to factories powered by robots and automation, but this was a world of hand-tools and humans.

Click through this article for a tour.

The factory floor

This is the main area of the assembly line where the H6D and X1D are produced. I had expected to see the processes in a linear fashion from start to finish, but actually it seems different components are assembled as they are needed and each worker performs a range of tasks. This photo doesn't show the whole factory, as there is an R&D area that I couldn’t go into, but this is where the current shipping products are put together. Hasselblad designs all the components itself but has most of them made by external suppliers, mostly from Sweden.

In this picture an X1D’s audio system is being tested in the foreground, and to the left a H6D body is being put together. In the distance, shutter units are being made.

Making the shutters

The shutter units start with a moulded ring of plastic onto which the components are attached. The company makes two sizes of shutter unit, both of which can be used in HC and XCD lenses for the H cameras and the X1D. The smaller, a 20mm shutter, uses one piezo-electric motor to open and close the iris, while the 28mm version has two.

A detailed shot of shutter unit, mid-assembly.

Making the shutters

So far the XCD lenses have only used the 20mm unit, but I’m told future lenses will use the larger one as well. The upcoming fast 80mm XCD lens will be a candidate for the larger shutter as its maximum aperture will be wider than f/2.

Measuring tension

The worker assembling the shutter units tests the tension of the shutter release mechanisms with her thumbs, as over time she has come to know what the right tension feels like. Once she thinks she has it right she tests each switch with a meter to verify her instincts.

After hand-testing the shutter release tension, the technician checks with a measuring tool.

Building the iris

Each blade of the lens iris is riveted by hand. It is then cleaned and attached to the main shutter mechanism.

Testing shutter accuracy

Each shutter unit is tested for accuracy and consistency of performance using a collimator and a device that measures the shape and size of the iris opening. Each aperture setting is tested multiple times, as is each shutter speed. If the unit isn’t up to scratch the operator on the testing desk either fixes it or sends it back a stage for investigation.

This shows a short sequence from a shutter accuracy test, measuring the shutter opening time and iris size. Other long term tests are carried out about once a week, and involve a shutter unit being put in a machine that triggers it for days on end. I was told the shutter life of Hasselblad lenses is quoted as over 1 million actuations.

H6D handgrips

The day I was at the plant, handgrips for the H6D were being made. There's quite a lot of circuitry to fit into a small space.

50MP back for the A6D aerial camera

Here is the back of an A6D aerial camera being assembled. The main parts that go into the back are the 50MP sensor unit, the processing board and the control board. I was amazed that the company uses 32GB micro SD cards in these backs, but was told the calibration and firmware files the back uses are very big.

The ribbon cables and the boards are all connected by hand and fitted into the back during a delicate, pains-taking process.

Tilt and shift adapter

Here’s a HTS 1.5 tilt and shift adapter being put together. The adapter provides ‘large format’ movements for six of the company’s H system lenses. It allows up to 18mm of shift in both directions and 10° of tilt, while multiplying the focal length by approx. 1.5x because of its thickness.

Tilt and shift adapter

Again, the device is assembled by hand, with each screw being secured in place with thread-locking glue.

Assembling the auxiliary shutter

Between the mirror box and the sensor of the H series cameras there’s an auxiliary shutter that has to be sprung with exactly the right tension. Again this shutter unit is assembled by hand from a number of small components and then tested by touch while the tension is adjusted.

The man working at this station told me he needed the tension to be about 0.9 Newtons, and then tested the one he had just made to find he was only 0.02 N out. He said it took a few months of continuous manufacturing for him to be able to get the tension right by touch.

Adding the AF module and shutter mechanism

The aluminum chassis of the H6D is made at a foundry not far from the factory and has remained very much the same since the original H1. The final assembly of the body looks very complicated, as there is a mass of ribbon cable to fit between the boards, as well as the auxiliary shutter, the mirror mechanisms and the AF module. The chassis, the steel mount and the body shell are all made in Sweden.

The shot on the left shows the AF module of the H6D, which sits behind the main mirror. The last shot shows the chassis loaded with electronics and ready to be fitted into the body and to have the handgrip attached.

Mechanical tests for the H6D

In this picture, H6D bodies await mechanical testing and measuring. The length of the body can’t vary by more than 0.02mm in order for the autofocus to work. This machine is used to measure the position of the AF module and the AF mirror, and to match the view of the viewfinder with the sensor via the position of the mirror.

Each body is then attached to a metal block for the orientation sensor to be calibrated - a process that helps facilitate the company’s True Focus feature. This feature measures the angle the camera moves during a focus-lock-and-recompose routine, so that the added distance between the image plabe and the subject can be compensated for in the focusing.

Calibrating the H6D

In a clean room each H6D undergoes its individual calibration procedure. First the sensor and filters are checked for dust and dirt, and cleaned until they are spotless. Then the sensor is checked for dead pixels and the color characteristics, dynamic range and brightness response are measured.

Calibrating the H6D

Each camera has its own calibration program which is loaded onto the body and fired up every time the camera starts. The calibration data is saved at the factory should it ever need to be reloaded to the camera.
It takes about an hour to calibrate each body.

X1D mechanical tests

Once assembled the cameras go through a series of mechanical and systems tests to ensure they are functioning correctly. Operators take a series of pictures with each model and check the audio system, among other things.

X1D mechanical tests

The technician looking down a long dark box is checking there’s no light leaking from the side of the rear LCD panel.

Profiling X1D bodies

Color response is recorded and adjusted so that the camera will produce ‘Hasselblad Color’. As with the H6D, each X1D body has its own tailor-made calibration which is loaded to the internal memory. That’s why the cameras take a couple of seconds to start up.
Each camera takes about 700 pictures during the calibration process.

Profiling X1D bodies

Here an X1D is being calibrated, and the monitor shows the characteristics that are being checked with. As can be seen, in this example the sensor (which is CMOS, not CCD as marked) isn’t aligned within tolerances, so it will be adjusted.

Final checks and cleaning

The last part of the process involves a bright light and a high powered magnifying glass. A lady personally inspects every model that leaves the factory for dirt, dust and marks. She cleans each body very carefully, rubs and polishes, before she is satisfied and it can be boxed.

Final checks and cleaning

X1D bodies towards the end of the production and checking process, before being boxed and shipped to customers all over the world.

Categories: Equipment

Sample gallery: Utah with Scott Rinckenberger and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 III

DPReview.com - Latest News - Mon, 01/01/2018 - 9:00am
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We recently spent some time in Moab, Utah with seasoned adventure photographer Scott Rinckenberger. The area's incredible landscapes and wide array of outdoor activities made for a very photogenic few days – here are some of the still images Scott captured along the way. For the full story behind the photos, check out our video.

This is sponsored content, created with the support of Amazon and Olympus. What does this mean?

Categories: Equipment

2017 in review: a look back at December

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sun, 12/31/2017 - 9:00am

December brings with it colder weather and early much-too-early sunsets (at least here in Seattle), as well as a chance to look back on the last twelve months. 2017 saw the continued rise of the smartphone coupled with uncertainty in the interchangeable lens and compact camera market. Will there be fewer camera manufacturers a year from now? We'll find out soon enough.

As you might imagine, December a quiet month for camera announcements. Information about the next generation of smartphones started to trickle out, including news of the upcoming Snapdragon 845 processor and the Huawei P11, which may feature three cameras. December also marked the arrival of the iMac Pro that, fully loaded, will set you back more than $13,000. Speaking of Apple, Final Cut Pro X received a much-needed update, adding HDR, VR and curves support.

2017 saw the continued rise of the smartphone coupled with uncertainty in the interchangeable lens and compact camera market

The end of the year brings with it lots of "best of" competitions, and some like National Geographic's Nature Photographer of the Year, Sony World Photography Awards and the always entertaining Comedy Wildlife awards are worth a look. We joined the competition parade and shared our favorite products of the year, which were drawn from our latest Buying Guides. We also pitted the Nikon D850 against the Sony a7R III and compared the portrait modes of the Google Pixel 2 and Apple iPhone X.

For those seeking more pretty pictures, we posted galleries for the Olympus 45mm and 17mm F1.2 Pro lenses, the Rokinon AF 50mm F1.4 FE and, naturally, the iPhone X. We also cranked out two reviews, of the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III and G9 X Mark II.

See all December content

Leica, Leica, Leica

In addition to announcing a special red edition of its M (Typ 262) body, the company also reported a 6% increase in revenue compared to the last fiscal year.

Read more about the red Leica M

Read more about Leica's earnings

And, in drone news...

December was a busy month for drone regulation. In a not very surprising move, the Federal Aviation Administration banned drone usage near US nuclear facilities. Over in Holland, the country's drone-catching eagles are being retired due to a lack of demand and training difficulties. A shame, since that would've been fun to watch.

Read more about new FAA regulations

Read more about drone-catching eagles

Canon EOS 7D Mark III on the way? (Of course!)

The rumor mill is buzzing about an update to Canon's venerable EOS 7D series of APS-C DSLRs. Rumor website CanonWatch says that the third revision is coming before next summer, which even if the rumor itself isn't based on any solid facts, still seems like a pretty safe bet. We made a wish list of what we'd like to see in the next 7D, as well.

Read more about Canon 7D Mark III rumors

Photographing the Northern Lights

Photographer and DPReview contributor José Francisco Salgado teamed up with our own Dale Baskin to share tips on how to capture this amazing phenomenon.

Read full article

Categories: Equipment

2017 in review: a look back at November

DPReview.com - Latest News - Sat, 12/30/2017 - 9:00am
This shot from Dan's Gear of the Year writeup wasn't taken in November but it seemed apt for an overview article.

November is usually a fairly quiet time for the industry: all the cameras the manufacturers are hoping will sell around Christmas have been announced. Well, except for Leica, which always likes to set itself apart - this time by launching a new model in mid November. Still, there was plenty going on in the wider world of photography:

The internet has always made rather more liberal use of other people's images than is legally allowed but it's generally only the egregious examples that tend to get pursued. US TV network CBS bucked that trend by going after a photographer who'd used a screengrab from a forty-year old TV show on social media. Meanwhile, another photographer took action against pop star Bruno Mars for using one of her photos on social media without seeking the appropriate license.

The UK's National Air Traffic Service published a video showing the knock-on effects of breaching drone rules

Speaking of licenses, the UK's National Air Traffic Service published a video showing the knock-on effects of breaching drone rules, after four planes and their passengers were diverted to other airports in response to one incidence of careless droning. It's probably no surprise that tighter rules may be implemented in the UK, and that DJI has the ability to track its drones.

Meanwhile Eastman Kodak announced more job losses, just four years after a bankruptcy restructuring that saw it exit the photography market. However, at the same time, the company also gave an insight into the work it's doing to recreate its Ektachrome filmstock.

But, just because all the camera makers were able to put their feet up until after Christmas*, that didn't mean we could do the same. Instead, we worked to test and evaluate the a7R III and put together the best-informed review we could, only for it to really complicate our Gear of the Year and DPR Award choices. But those are a topic for next month...

* I mean, I'm pretty sure that's what happens.

Sony a7R III review

We put a lot of effort digging into the a7R III's performance. The sensor was common to both this camera and the Mark II but enough changes had been made that we wanted to make sure we'd experienced and captured those differences and improvements. And what improvements...

A first look at the Leica CL

The Leica T and TL series cameras have tended to split opinion, with their minimalist design and touchscreen interfaces. The CL is a much safer product, though: traditional controls and pared-down classic styling. Barney took a closer look.

Canon 85mm F1.4L IS USM

An 85mm F1.4 has long been one of the glaring omissions from Canon's lens lineup. Not content to just fill that gap, Canon decided to make an image stabilized version worthy of its 'L' designation. As you can imagine, we were pretty excited to get out shooting with it.

New Fujifilm Raw-conversion software

Fujifilm released a Raw converter but one with a difference: all the processing is done by the camera.

Take a closer look

Categories: Equipment

Grand Canyon time lapse records rare cloud inversion

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 4:50pm

In search of some tranquility on this last Friday before 2018? Well, Skyglow project collaborators Gavin Heffernan (of Sun Chaser Pictures) and Harun Mehmedinovic have just the video for you. They captured remarkable time-lapse footage of a cloud inversion in Arizona's Grand Canyon. This event occurs when an upper layer of warm air traps the cold air in the canyon, and the canyon fills with rolling fog and clouds for a spectacular sight.

Turn down the lights and experience a few minutes of peaceful clouds that are reminiscent of ocean waves - and don't forget to turn up your headphones for the full effect.

Via: Laughing Squid

Categories: Equipment

Selfitis, the obsessive taking of selfies, may be a real mental disorder

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 4:12pm

A viral article published in 2014 claimed that the American Psychiatric Association had established a new mental disorder called "selfitis" -- that is, the obsessive taking of selfies. That article, though fake, inspired a real exploratory study to determine whether a condition like the one described in the article could exist...and, the research shows, it very well may.

Of note, the fake viral article had claimed that selfitis existed across three levels of severity: borderline, acute, and chronic. To determine whether that could be true, researchers Mark D. Griffiths and Janarthanan Balakrishnan conducted interviews with a focus group of 225 Indian university students to attempt to create what they called the Selfitis Behavior Scale (SBS) based on those three severities.

Having created the SBS, and as explained in the recently published study, the researchers then attempted to validate it using exploratory factor analysis (EFA). For this, they recruited 734 total students, and identified 400 students as belonging to one of the three severity categories they'd outlined -- the breakdown being 34% borderline, 40.5% acute, and 25.5% chronic. The most severely affected age group was 16- to 20-years-old at 56%, while 21 to 25 was the next highest age group at 34%. As well, men represented 57.5% of the categories, while women represented 42.5%.

As a result of the EFA, the two researchers were also able to identify half a dozen factors referred to in the study as "selfitis motivations" -- they include social competition, seeking attention, modifying mood, boosting self-confidence, conformity, and enhancing one's environment.

The researchers note that the study has some limitations, including that the data was self-reported and "subject to many well-known biases." However, it indicates that a mental disorder like "selfitis" could possibly exist and that it is worth further investigation. "As with internet addiction," the study states, "the concepts of “selfitis” and “selfie addiction” started as a hoax, but recent research including the present paper has begun to empirically validate its existence."

Via: PetaPixel

Categories: Equipment

Adaptalux' miniature lighting studio gets Laser, UV, and Arm-s lighting arms

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 1:16pm
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Adaptalux Studio, the miniature lighting studio launched on Kickstarter in 2015, is on the receiving end of some new special effect lighting attachments called the EFX Lighting Arms. The new lighting arms bring three special effects to Adaptalux Studio: Laser, UV (ultraviolet), and Arm-s (super-bright with a TIR lens).

As with the existing Adaptalux arms, these new EFX Lighting Arms plug directly into the Studio and are flexible enough to be arranged in nearly any position. Adaptalux explains that its UV EFX arm features a purple anodized connector, while the Arm-s has a silver finish connector and the Laser arm has a red finish connector, helping distinguish them from each other and existing arms.

The UV EFX arm features a UV LED coupled with a UV Band Pass Filter, the latter of which is able to filter out 99% of visible light, according to Adaptalux. The Arm-s EFX arm, meanwhile, has a super bright white LED joined by a built-in TIR lens, which "greatly improves the amount of light reaching the subject," the company explains. Finally, the Laser EFX arm features laser diodes with a focus-able lens to produce a red beam of light.

Adaptalux has 48 hours left in its EFX Lighting Arms Kickstarter campaign, where it's already raised about $16,000 more than it needed to bring this idea to fruition. But funded or not, backers have 2 more days to get a single pack of either the Laser Arm or Arm-s Arm for a pledge of $50, a single pack with the UV Arm single pack for a pledge of at least $70, or a triple pack with all three arms for a pledge of $160.

Here are video intros to all three of the new arms, embedded for your viewing pleasure:

Shipping to Laser/Arm-s single pack backers is expected to start next April, while UV single pack backer shipments are expected to start in May 2018. To learn more or put down your pledge before the campaign ends, head over to Kickstarter.

Categories: Equipment

2018 Shoot & Share Photo Contest opens for entries on January 8th

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 12:44pm

Wanna pit your skills against tens of thousands of other photographers... for free? You'll soon have your chance. The 2018 Photo Contest by Shoot & Share—which bills itself as the world’s only free & fair photo contest—will start accepting entries on January 8th.

What sets this particular contest apart is the voting process. No hoity-toity group of judges sifting through your entries, the whole system is democratic.

Every entrant is allowed to submit up to 50 photos in a total of 25 categories, and those photos are voted on by everyone else (including you). Photos are shown to you at random, and you vote for your favorites. As Shoot & Share explains it, "No one knows who took the photos, but everyone votes for the winners. The photos with the most votes win!"

Here's a fun intro video Shoot & Share put together:

The democratic draw of this contest as summed up best, perhaps, by DPReview Editorial Manager Wenmei Hill:

"It's huge, it's free, and it's a big ego boost (or destroyer, depending on how good a photographer you are) for tons of photographers."

Prizes for the 2018 contest haven't been revealed yet, but all 25 categories will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, in addition to a Grand Prize Winner for the contest as a whole. According to the contest site, "Last year, there was over $1,200,000 in free memberships, software, credit, gifts, workshops, and more," given away.

Not bad for a totally free and extremely democratic contest.

To learn more about the 2018 Photo Contest or see last year's winners, head over to the contest website. And if you plan to participate, you have just over a week to curate your best shots for submission.

UPDATE: Several readers have expressed concern about some of Shoot & Share's terms and conditions for this contest: specifically, the part that says you allow them to use your images with photo credit.

To clear up any misconceptions, we reached out to Heather Keys, the company's head of Marketing and Business Development, to ask how contestants' photos have been used in the past. Here's what she said:

In the past, the photos from the contest have been used to promote various community activities as well as used to promote future contests (always with photo credit included).

At times, we have reached out to those photographers that submitted images during the contest to request to use certain submitted photos in promotion of some of the products we offer (PASS.us and Agree.com ). With that said, we've always requested permission and offered compensation if we ever used submitted photos for promotion of our software tools.

Categories: Equipment

Yongnuo announces YN 14mm F2.8 in Canon mount

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 11:03am
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Yongnuo has made a name for itself as the go-to brand for cheap photo gear, and that includes several Canon lens alternatives (some of which seem like outright clones) that sacrifice some quality while slashing 60-80% or even more off the price. So far, Yongnuo has released its own versions of Canon's 50mm F1.8, 35mm F2, 85mm F1.8, and 100mm F2. And today, they add one more to the list.

Meet the Yongnuo YN 14mm F2.8: a lens that looks very similar to Canon's own 14mm F2.8L II. Here they are side by side:

According to Yongnuo's description, the YN 14mm F2.8 sports 12 lens elements in 9 groups (Canon's has 14 elements in 11 groups) and a 7-blade aperture (Canon's has 6 blades). The other big difference is the focus motor. The Canon 14mm F2.8L II USM has an ultrasonic motor, while Yongnuo's 14mm sports a standard DC motor; expect a much louder experience if you're going to try out this lens.

The minimum focusing distance (0.2 meters), aperture range (F2.8-F22), magnification (0.15x), and angle of view (114°) are all identical.

Finally, the Yongnuo 14mm F2.8 will feature the same USB connection as the company's 100mm F2, allowing for firmware updates that could help sand down the lens' rougher edges after it makes its way into consumer hands.

For now, we don't know when the Yongnuo YN 14mm F2.8 will officially arrive at online retailers, but we'll keep an eye out for you.

As for cost, the Canon 14mm F2.8L II retails for $2,100. And while we don't yet know exactly how much Yongnuo plans to charge for the YN 14mm F2.8, you can bet it'll cost a whole lot less than two grand. To give you a frame of reference, Canon's 100mm F2 USM lens goes for $500; the Yongnuo knock-off is just 160 bucks.

To learn more about this lens, head over to the Yongnuo website.

Editor's Note: The post has been updated to more clearly point out the differences between the Yongnuo 14mm and Canon 14mm F2.8L II. Our apologies if the original came off as misleading by using the term 'clone'.

Categories: Equipment

GorillaPod unveils the Mobile Rig: A flexible tripod with two extra accessory arms

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 9:47am

GorillaPod has launched a new flexible tripod product called the Mobile Rig. With Mobile Rig, smartphone filmmakers get two extra arms in addition to the smartphone mount, making it possible to attach a small secondary camera or accessories, such as lights and a microphone. And, of course, Mobile Rig has the same flexibility as past GorillaPod tripods.

The GorillaPod Mobile Rig includes a pair of arms, each with 1/4"-20 connection points, as well as a pair of Cold Shoe mounts and a single GoPro mount. Joining those is the GripTight locking mount for securing a smartphone to the tripod. The tripod is made of aluminum, ABS plastic, zinc-aluminum, stainless steel, and TPE.

GorillaPod Mobile Rig is in stock on JOBY's website for $100 USD.

Categories: Equipment

2017 in review: a look back at October

DPReview.com - Latest News - Fri, 12/29/2017 - 9:00am
Leica's Thambar-M 90mm F2.2 costs $325 per aperture blade - and it has 20 of them.

October – in America anyway, the month of costumes, changing leaves and inebriated frights. This year, I dressed up as a sheep for halloween (apologies to anyone who saw that), so the 'frights' part is pretty suspect. Anyway, I digress.

This past October was also a great month for gear releases as well. As you see above, we have Leica's Thambar 90mm F2.2, as well as Olympus' 17mm and 45mm F1.2 Pro lenses. Sigma released a 16mm F1.4 'Contemporary' lens for both Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-mount, and Google released two new Pixel phones that offer groundbreaking (for phones) photographic results. Last, but not least, Canon released a new PowerShot flagship in the G1 X Mark III.

We published our full review of the Nikon D850, as well as a review of Fujifilm's very likable X-E3

And while the camera companies were busy, so were we. We published our full review of the Nikon D850, as well as a review of Fujifilm's very likable X-E3. And our own Dale Baskin looked back on the Samsung NX1 for one of our most popular editions of Throwback Thursday.

We would, of course, be remiss to ignore the release of the new silver edition of the Leica Q. Like so many Leica 'special editions,' its could be easy to dismiss, but we're big fans of the highly capable Q and also fans of the new design – even though it comes at a $245 premium over the all-black model. Maybe silver paint is more expensive than we thought.

Photo Plus Expo 2017: Full coverage

This year's PPE saw new releases from several manufacturers, from more or less conventional compact cameras to some really out-there products (ahem - Leica Thambar...). As usual, DPReview was there with full coverage

The California Coast with the Canon EF 28mm F2.8 IS

We spent some quality time with Canon's compact EF 28mm F2.8 IS USM on the California coast in October - read how it performed.

Read our Canon 28mm F2.8 IS shooting experience

Looking (further) back at the PowerShot G5

As Canon announced the newest G-series flagship in the G1 X III, Barney looked back at the PowerShot G5 - a remarkable camera that he picked up for the princely sum of $9 at a local thrift shop.

Read about Barney's thrift shop PowerShot G5

Check out our full D850 review to find out why it's just so darn good.

See the Nikon D850 review

Categories: Equipment

Apple apologizes for iPhone performance issues, offers discount on battery replacement

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 5:46pm

In a "letter to our customers" posted on its website, Apple took a more active stance in the iPhone slowdown 'scandal' that has been making headlines over the past week. The company once again explained why it was reducing performance on older iPhone models, but the letter went a step further, apologizing to customers for the lack of transparency and offering a few potential solutions to placate angry iPhone users.

The letter first describes how batteries age, and explains that the company changed its power management system to reduce "unexpected shutdowns" on iPhone 6 and SE models last year. (Apple did the same with iPhone 7 models recently).

In response to negative feedback from customers (and perhaps lawsuits) Apple will be reducing the price of replacement batteries by $50 (to $29) for out-of-warranty iPhones. Furthermore, the company plans to release an iOS update that will, "give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone's battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance."

The battery replacement program will begin in January and run throughout 2018. More information will be posted soon on apple.com.

Categories: Equipment

Apple facing several lawsuits over intentionally slowing down old iPhones

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 12:31pm
Photo by Robin van der Ploeg

Earlier this week, we shared the news that Apple had admitted to slowing down older iPhones—an accusation originally leveled at the company by several Redditors and bloggers who found their phones' performance had been cut in half, and would only return to full performance with a battery replacement.

This admission, in which Apple defended this 'feature' as benefiting users, has now sparked several lawsuits.

Background

Last week, Apple confirmed that older iPhones—specifically iPhone 6/Plus, iPhone 6S/Plus, and iPhone SE—were indeed being slowed down on purpose, but denied any malicious intent (e.g. trying to trick people into upgrading to a newer iPhone).

Instead, in a statement to The Verge, Apple said the 'feature' had been implemented, "to deliver the best experience for customers" by preventing sudden shut downs or damage to the internal components that can be caused by an older battery trying to provide peak current it just can't handle anymore.

This explanation makes sense, and several technologically savvy commentators online (and even some readers in the DPReview comments) speculated that other companies likely do this same thing. But the lack of transparency—essentially only admitting that this was being done after being called out publicly—left many Apple users upset... and a few of them are doing something about it.

And Now

According to USA Today and The Verge, several lawsuits have been filed against Apple over this iPhone throttling. In the United States, suits have been filed in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York among others, but the lawsuits over this admission extend as far as Israel, according to Reuters.

One of the first, a proposed class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles filed last Thursday by two consumers, claims breach-of-contract because users never agreed to allow Apple to slow down their iPhones.

The latest suit, filed by five iPhone users in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, seeks class-action status and accuses Apple of fraud, deception and breach-of-contract for not notifying users that it was slowing down old iPhones. The lawsuit states that, had they known batteries were to blame for their phones slowing down, these plaintiffs would have chosen to replace their batteries instead of purchasing a new phone.

Apple has not released any comment on the lawsuits filed thus far.

Categories: Equipment

Canon and Sony dominate Lensrentals' most rented gear of 2017 list

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 11:24am

Lensrentals has released its most rented gear of 2017 list, and the results are very interesting. You can check out the full list here, but we thought we'd point out the three things that immediately caught our eye.

1. Sony's claim that it's beaten Nikon to take the #2 position in sales of full-frame interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs) is backed up by the rental data. According to Lensrentals, for the first year ever, Sony has out-rented Nikon and "is slowly closing the gap to Canon."

2. That said, Sony's top renting piece of gear—the Sony a7S II—only reached the number five spot behind four Canon products; the Canon 24-70mm F2.8L II, Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS II, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and Canon EOS 5D Mark IV took the numbers one, two, three, and four spots, respectively. Canon may not have released anything overly exciting this year, but there's no doubt it's still the best-selling camera brand in the world.

3. Finally, the last bit that caught our eye is that a battery—Sony's NP-FW50, which was recently replaced the the NP-FZ100 that our own Richard Butler loves so much—took the number 6 spot, beating out some seriously popular gear like the Canon 50mm F1.2L and Canon 6D. This just foes to show: upgrading the Sony a9 and a7RIII to the much bigger FZ100 battery was an absolute necessity.

To see the full list and breakdown, or dive into a few other categories like last year's most-rented list or the most popular new equipment rented in 2017, head over to the Lensrentals blog.

Categories: Equipment

2017 in review: a look back at September

DPReview.com - Latest News - Thu, 12/28/2017 - 9:00am
Hey look, it's our whole planet, just a tiny speck floating in a vast nothingness. This image is courtesy Cassini, a spacecraft we sent to its demise in September. Photograph copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

September is the month when we finally accepted that 2017 was really happening and it wasn't all a bad dream. We also found out what it looks like when you don't heed the advice given in a thousand articles about photographing the eclipse. Spoiler alert: you get melted aperture blades.

As they are wont to do, more than a few photos went viral. That ridiculous lawsuit over the monkey selfie finally ended, may we never type the words 'monkey selfie' again, and we talked to photographer Justin Hofman about his much-shared photo of a seahorse clutching a Q-tip. Oh, and Cassini plunged toward Saturn and burned up in its atmosphere, but it was supposed to do that. Thanks for all the cool photos, Cassini!

What's old is new again – and for sale at Nordstrom right next to the handbags

The Sony RX10 IV and the Fujifilm X-E3 were the most notable conventional cameras launched in September. A little company called Apple also announced some new photo-taking-devices: the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X. To top it all off, RED announced more details about its Hydrogen One phone, which actually doesn't cost much more than an iPhone X.

On the other end of the technological spectrum, Polaroid rode the analog nostalgia wave with the OneStep 2 instant camera. What's old is new again – and for sale at Nordstrom right next to the handbags.

See all September content

Hands-on with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV

The RX10 IV, as the name suggests, is the fourth in Sony's series of 1"-type sensor, long zoom compacts. The Mark IV is the first to offer phase detection autofocus alongside a series of changes designed to boost the speed and capability of the camera, for both stills and video shooting.

See our Sony RX10 IV hands-on

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X-E3

In early September, Fujifilm took the wraps off the X-E3. Successor to the X-E2S, we'll admit that the X-E3 took us rather by surprise. After the release of the X-T10 and X-T20 we had assumed that the rangefinder-style X-E line was all but dead.

See our Fujifilm X-E3 hands-on

iPhone X: What you need to know

Apple's iPhone X wasn't much of a surprise by the time Tim Cook told us all about it, but there's still a lot going on inside the all-screen-all-the-time device. Here's a recap of the major photography-related highlights.

Learn more about the iPhone X's photo capabilities

Monkey selfie, monkey do

Ah, monkey selfie, the story that just wouldn't go away.

Read the full article

Categories: Equipment

Free Lightroom alternative Darktable is now available on Windows

DPReview.com - Latest News - Wed, 12/27/2017 - 1:56pm

Free Lightroom alternative Darktable was recently updated to version 2.4.0, an update that is joined by a new milestone for the open source software: for the very first time, it has been ported to Windows. The Windows port is incomplete at the moment, lacking a few features like printing support, but the team said in a blog post that, "we are confident that it's quite usable already and hope you will enjoy it."

Darktable is an open source "virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers," and one that frequently pops up on "free Adobe alternative" lists online; however, until now, it had only been available for Linux and Mac. Version 2.4 brings numerous changes and some new features, including: tweaks to design elements, support for the basic import of Lightroom 7 settings, removal of the 51200 ISO limit, some usability improvements such as the ability to make new module instances using the middle mouse button, and a new haze removal module (among others).

The update also applies numerous bug fixes, adds new camera, noise profiles, and white balance preset support, changes some dependencies, and adds new software translations.

As for the Windows port, Darktable says this version currently has "a few limitations," such as needing special drivers to tether. It also has some bugs, one of which is apparently a lack of non-ASCII character file name support when exporting and importing TIFF files. Still, the Windows version gives PC users something to play around with until the next update... and the one after that. Before long, Darktable for Windows might become a very popular Adobe alternative that will cost you 0 dollars and 0 cents.

Darktable 2.4.0 can be downloaded now from GitHub. The full version changelog can be found in the team's announcement post.

Categories: Equipment

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