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Updated: 48 min 32 sec ago

Leica M7 film camera comes to an end

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 3:51pm

Leica has discontinued its M7 film camera after 16 years of service. According to the Red Dot Forum, which is run by the Miami Leica store, the last of the M7 standard and ‘a la Carte’ bodies has been built and no more will be made. The Miami store lists the camera as ‘Out of Stock’ but models will remain in circulation elsewhere until they are sold through. The UK Leica stores have stock listed at £3900 and New York at $4795 – the same price as the Leica MP and £/$100 more than the M-A film bodies.

The M7 caused a bit of a stir when it arrived with features that required battery power to operate – particularly the electronic shutter. Without power users are restricted to shutter speeds of 1/60sec and 1/125sec, whereas models before the M7 had used an entirely mechanical shutter and could therefore continue working in the event of a flat battery- or no battery.

The M7 also brought aperture priority to the M range, a feature that has found a place in a number of M bodies, but not all, since, and it was the first M to feature a DX code reader to automatically set the ISO for the internal metering system by ‘reading’ a code printed on the film cassette.

Ironically, while the slightly modern M7 will descend in to history with its new-fangled electro-wizardry, two perhaps less helpful film models will continue the previous traditions of fully mechanical shutters and all-manual operation. The MP and the M-A remain on the product list, though the MP seems to be widely listed as Out-of-Stock in official Leica stores.

For more information see the Red Dot Forum and the Leica website.

Red Dot statement

Leica M7 Film Camera Discontinued

Today marks the passing of a legend, the venerable Leica M7. First introduced in 2002 as the follow-up to the M6, the Leica M7 brought a more modern aperture priority mode and electronically-controlled shutter to a classic mechanical M design. The M7 was also the first M camera with a built-in DX code reader for ISO detection. The camera has been well-loved for over 15 years, but all good things must come to an end.

Effective immediately, Leica will no longer produce any more new M7 cameras, in black or silver. There still might be a handful in stock at various dealers, but once sold out, no more will be coming from Wetzlar. The same goes for the a la Carte program. No M7-based configurations will be accepted or built for customers wanting a custom camera.

While this is certainly sad news for analog lovers, fear not. The Leica MP and Leica M-A film cameras remain current items in the catalog and will continue to be produced.

Categories: Equipment

Wildlife photography in Yellowstone with Jake Davis and the Panasonic Lumix G9

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 10:00am

April in Yellowstone National Park is a unique time. The park, which covers 3500 sq mi / 5600 sq km in the western US, is still quiet before the busy tourist season, and the weather fluctuates wildly from day to day. Wildlife photographer Jake Davis showed us around Yellowstone during this unusual period, capturing the local residents in all kinds of conditions with the weather-sealed Panasonic Lumix G9.

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

Categories: Equipment

Does sensor size still make a difference?

Mon, 05/28/2018 - 9:00am

We've seen huge breakthroughs in the computational photography techniques in the latest smartphones, as well as the launch of some excellent small sensors in more traditional cameras. Does that mean that bigger is no longer necessarily better?

To answer that question, let's look at why big sensors tend to produce better image quality and what smaller-sensored cameras and smartphones are doing to close the gap.

Benefits of larger sensors

The three main benefits that prompt people to move to larger sensors are the ability to blur the background with shallow depth-of-field, exhibit less noise in low light situations and the ability to capture a wider dynamic range between the brightest and darkest areas of the image. Since these all primarily stem from getting more light, it presupposes that you have a lens with a wide-enough aperture to let in enough light, but this is usually possible. Collectively, these three factors mean that large sensor cameras can usually produce better-looking images. They can't make up for the photographer, of course, but if used by the same person, the bigger sensor usually 'wins.'

Computational photography allows small sensors to imitate the effects of a larger sensor, while leaps forwards in sensor performance can help small sensors produce better-looking images. But do these advances mean you no longer need a larger sensor?

Computational photography

The most visible example of computational photography in widespread use are the portrait modes in the latest smartphones. These use a variety of techniques but fundamentally they make some attempt to assess the depth in the scene, then apply differing amounts of blur at different depths, to simulate shallow depth-of-field.

The results aren't always totally convincing and won't necessarily satisfy the kind of demanding photographer that looks for particular character to the out-of-focus rendering (bokeh) of their lenses. However, as processing power and machine learning continue to improve, the results will only get better. And for many applications, will quickly exceed the threshold of being considered 'good enough' for an increasing number of people.

This image was taken using Portrait mode on a modern smartphone. As well as simulated shallow depth-of-field, computational photography has added artificial lighting effects to the subject's face.

Computational photography can also help with low light and high dynamic range scenes. Again, it's increasingly common for smartphones to be able to shoot multiple shots, then combine them. The processing is getting sophisticated enough that this can even be done with moving subjects, without the user even necessarily realizing that this is what their phone is doing.

Because most noise in photography comes from the randomness of light, shooting the same scene again and again helps to average out this randomness, just as rolling a die repeatedly helps you get a clearer picture of whether it's weighted.

The results will start to rival the output of
larger sensors

The same can be done in good light, sampling the scene several times (sometimes with different exposures), to extend the dynamic range beyond what could be achieved in a single exposure.

Unlike the shallow depth-of-field effect, which is simulated, these multi-shot techniques directly compete with larger sensors, since they allow the image to be constructed from more light. At which point, the results will start to rival the output of larger sensors, so long as the combination of images and movement cancellation is clever enough.

More advanced sensors

We've seen some very good small sensors in recent years, whose performance can narrow the gap with those above them. The adoption of technologies such as back-side illumination have allowed sensors to become more efficient (capturing more of the light that's shone on them). Again, since most of the benefits of larger sensors come from them generally receiving more light during any given exposure, an increase in efficiency can help smaller sensors narrow this gap.

G1 X Mark III
ISO 500
F3.2 (F5.2 equiv)
G7 X Mark II
ISO 160
F2 (F5.5 equiv)

The Canon G1 X Mark III offers an APS-C sensor to the G7 X Mark II's 1" sensor, but the latter uses a more efficient BSI design.

This only goes so far. Partly because these technologies are also likely to have some benefit when they 'trickle up' to larger sensor sizes. This widens that gap back to the extent you'd expect, just based on the size difference. Also, the gaps between most popular sensor sizes are proportional to at least two-thirds of a stop, which is more of a difference than technology advances tend to compensate for.

Small sensor advantages

There are also areas in which small sensors offer an advantage over large ones, with readout speed being the most obvious one. In general it's quicker to read out the data from small sensors, which brings a series of benefits. The most obvious is that it allows improved video quality, either through being able to read all the pixels, enabling more detailed capture, or simply through a reduction in rolling shutter.

The RX100 V's stacked CMOS sensor with DRAM incorporated into the chip allows faster readout, which boosts video and autofocus performance.

The other advantage, of course, is that it makes it quicker and easier to offer many of the computational photography benefits discussed earlier in the article.

There are ways to improve the readout speed of large sensors too, such as the stacked CMOS sensor that 'trickled up' from Sony's smartphone and 1"-type sensors to the full frame a9. This incorporates readout circuitry and RAM into the sensor to allow faster readout. But this comes at a considerable cost premium, as these chips are extremely complex and time-consuming to make, making it difficult for large sensors to match some of the capabilities of smaller chips.

Convenience of small sensors

The other potential advantage of small sensors is that they allow cameras to be smaller. This tends to means lenses with smaller physical apertures, which is one of the main things that hold the image quality of small sensors back, but the trade-off is cost and convenience. So, although you can buy mirrorless cameras with large sensors, it'll be the ones with smaller sensors that will provide the smaller overall package, most of the time.

For all the bluster you sometimes encounter with people claiming to be committed enough that they always carry a full DSLR kit around with them, most people find it's easier to carry a small camera with you. And you know what they say about the camera you've got with you…

Is bigger still better?

Overall then, for conventional, single-shot photography, there's no substitute for making a photograph using more light, and it's usually easier to give a large sensor more light since it has a larger area to capture light. In that sense, bigger sensors are still better. However, that's not the same as saying 'you need a bigger sensor.'

Even though a larger sensor may be able to produce a better result, smaller sensors are getting better and better all the time

Improvements in sensor tech, the availability of large sensor compacts with bright lenses (that help get more light to their sensors), and advances in computational photography allow better images than ever before from small sensors.

At which point, we come back to the question of what's 'good enough.' Which isn't so much about accepting limitations, but more about being able to attain a quality you're happy with for what you're trying to achieve. So even though a larger sensor may be able to produce a better result, smaller sensors are getting better and better all the time, exceeding ever higher 'good enough' thresholds such that you may reasonably conclude that you don't need any further improvement.

Categories: Equipment

DPReview TV: How to get correct exposure when shooting video

Sun, 05/27/2018 - 9:00am

Have you experienced frustration when using your camera to shoot video? Confused about T-stops, ND filters and the right shutter speed to use? This week, Chris and Jordan take a break from gear reviews to discuss the things you should know to get proper exposure when shooting video. Get some practical tips and learn about Chris and Jordan's exposure square... or is that an exposure trapezoid? Tune in to find out.

You may also want to read our article, A photographer's intro to the world of video, for more useful tips.

A photographer's intro to the world of video

Finally, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Categories: Equipment

Not your ordinary camera bag: Rhake waterproof pack with Camera Capsule insert review

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 9:00am

The Rhake Weatherproof Bag + Camera Capsule
$365 (bag) + $130 (insert) | MissionWorkshop.com

The Rhake pack has a roll top giving it a decent degree of expansion.

The Rhake waterproof backpack by Mission Workshops doesn’t look like an ordinary camera bag – instead it looks a lot more like a high quality bike messenger pack or something you might take on a weekend trip when packing light. And that’s the point. The bag’s 22L main compartment is designed to be multi-functional. Once you slide the Capsule Camera insert ($130) into the Rhake you have a camera bag with a utilitarian design, albeit with a very high price tag.

The Capsule Camera insert that slides into the Rhake pack.

Though this pack is not designed specifically with photographers in mind, I was intrigued to find out just how functional it could be.


  • Exterior: 21 x 13 x 5 in / 53 x 33 x 13cm
  • Interior Volume: 22L
  • Capsule Insert: 9.75 x 17.75 x 4.25in / 25 x 45 x 11cm
  • Laptop Compartment: Dedicated 17in Exterior Pocket
  • Weight: 3.1lbs / 1.4kg

Design & construction

The first thing I noticed about the Rhake was the high quality construction – Mission Design guarantees their products for life – which makes me believe that this thing was built to last. The bag is made of weatherproof nylon fabric called HT500 that is apparently exclusive to the company. It gives the pack an understated look and a good degree of water and stain resistance.

The Rhake pack's laptop compartment can fit up to a 17" computer. The pack also has a dedicated tablet compartment.

The second thing I noticed about this bag was the amount of organizational pockets. There are technically two zippered compartments that are large enough to fit a laptop (a dedicated exterior pocket, shown above left, and a second one within the 22L main compartment). On the back of the bag, opposite the exterior laptop pocket, there is a mesh water bottle pocket that tucks away when not in use.

There are numerous options for organization within this bag to suit your tastes

The front of the Rhake features a dedicated 10” tablet pocket and two accessory pouches (one at the top of the bag and one at the bottom) for stashing chargers, spare batteries or other items that need to be accessed quickly.

There are two zippered front pockets with plenty of room to organize smaller odds and ends. There are also two accessory pouches, one at the top (accessible via the roll top) - and one at the bottom (accessible via zipper).

There are also two larger zippered front pockets, one of which is filled with three smaller interior zippered mesh pockets. In short, there are numerous options for organization within this bag to suit your tastes.

The straps are well-padded and a horizontal strap offers added stability.

The back of the Rhake is made of perforated foam and there is a luggage handle pass-through for use with roller bags. The straps have a nice amount of padding and feature an additional horizontal buckled strap.

The camera insert can be accessed from the top of the bag. A look inside the Rhake pack once the camera insert has been removed.

The Camera Capsule insert is accessed from the top of the Rhake pack. The inside can be customized to your taste using the padded partitions. There’s also a back pocket in the insert where you can slide in an 11" laptop or tablet.

A close-up look inside the Camera Capsule insert. I was able to fit two bodies, several lenses and a flash.

In the field

All of my photographer friends who saw the Rhake in action immediately complimented the style of this bag. It looks good, and it can comfortably hold a large amount of gear. I loved the many organizational pockets and those tiny mesh interiors were a great place for all of my miscellaneous items that I end up with at a shoot.

Once it’s packed, the front is snapped together and the top rolled shut, the Rhake pack is a surprisingly compact gear bag with the ability to expand to hold a large amount of equipment.

Its compact silhouette made it a good for riding the subway (even during rush hour) and hauling it around didn’t make me feel like I was in danger of destroying a shoulder.

There's no way to access most of the gear stored within the Camera Capsule insert unless you completely remove it from the bag

Unfortunately, there is one glaring design flaw with the Rhake: there's no way to access most of the gear stored within the Camera Capsule insert unless you completely remove it from the bag. For some photographers, this might seem like a minor oversight; after all the Rhake is a multi-functional bag, but I found this design element to be really inconvenient. It was easy enough to access my main camera body through the top zipper, but if I wanted to switch lenses I needed to totally unpack the 22L compartment – which is kind of a pain when working in the cramped quarters of a dark music venue.

When the bag is fully packed it also takes a little bit of elbow grease to remove the Camera Capsule from the main compartment. I imagine that with more use the bag’s structure will become less tight, but on the shoots I took the Rhake to I found myself having to spend a few extra moments safely removing the capsule from the bag. The Camera Capsule essentially fills the 22L compartment, making it difficult to stash anything else in there (a jacket, supplies for an overnight trip, etc.). I’d be curious to see how the Rhake would function with smaller camera inserts like the Topo Camera Cubes.

What’s the bottom line?

The Rhake’s construction is high quality, the design is aesthetically pleasing and it can hold a good deal of gear without looking bulky, making it great for everyday use. But the bag is pricey and the multi-functionality aspects make certain elements of the design inconvenient for photographers. Ultimately, if you're looking for a dedicated camera bag, there are other more cost-friendly and functional options out there. However, if you want a pack that can pull double duty as a bike bag or a weekend travel pack, the Rhake might be for you.

What We Like:

  • Utilitarian design
  • Durable construction
  • Slim profile
  • Ample organizational pockets
  • Holds a lot of equipment
  • Multi-functional bag, could be used as a camera bag or for something else

What We Don’t Like:

  • High price tag
  • Inability to access lenses in Camera Capsule without unpacking


Categories: Equipment