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Updated: 31 min 15 sec ago

First Impressions: Sony FE 400 F2.8 GM OSS

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 10:00am

First Impressions: Sony FE F2.8 GM OSS

We first gazed upon Sony’s new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens at CP+ earlier this year. This past weekend I had the chance to use it in-person at a Major League Soccer match between the New York Redbulls and Dallas FC.

Paired with the Sony a9 and vertical grip, the combination easily met - and in some cases, exceeded - what I’ve come to expect in terms of AF performance, bokeh and handling for a pro sports camera+lens combo. Continue reading for my first impressions from the field, and check out our full gallery from the match below:

See our Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS samples

Fast AF speed

ISO 1000 | 1/2000 sec | F2.8

This shooting opportunity - arranged by Sony - felt like the perfect real world scenario to put a 400mm F2.8 through it paces. I’ve shot a lot of soccer at the collegiate level over the years, mostly with a 300mm F2.8, but never at the professional level. Despite my inexperience, I walked away with a hit rate close to 98% mostly using the Zone area AF mode; this really impressed me.

Though I initially set the camera up with the intention of using back button AF, I ended up using the half press shutter to activate autofocus nearly the whole time. Most sports photographers would avoid this as it can lead to missed shots: decoupling the two allows you to hit the shutter without the risk of driving focus onto the wrong subject or into a hunt. But the Sony drove focus in the correct direction, locking onto my intended subject, pretty much every time.

Prior to the match, Sony talked about how the lens' design had been optimized for speed and super fast tracking even at the a9's top burst speed of 20 fps. I mostly shot at 10 fps, but found the lens kept up marvelously.

Beautiful bokeh and background separation

ISO 1250 | 1/1000 sec | F2.8

While I started the game with the lens slightly stopped down, I opted to open the 400mm up to F2.8 as the sun began to set. These wide open shots in particular display beautiful background separation, with lovely bokeh, thanks in part to an 11-blade circular aperture. For sports photographers, the quality of a lens' bokeh is obviously second to sharpness and AF performance, but lovely bokeh sure is nice to have.

A little lighter

At 2.9kg / 6.4lb., the lens weighs about 1kg less than the Canon 400mm F2.8, but make no mistake - this is still a heavy piece of kit. Sony says it’s light enough to shoot hand-held. I'll admit I'm not the world's strongest man, and 15 minutes of free-arming that lens definitely left me a little sore the next day.

Sore arms aside, it's worth calling out that Sony's 400mm feels exceptionally balanced. This is because much of the glass, and therefore weight, is located toward the back of the barrel resulting in a lens that doesn't tend to pull forward/down as much as some similar telephoto primes. The build quality is also excellent - exactly what you'd expect of a pro-level tele. Above is the lens' magnesium alloy shell.

Compatibility with teleconverters

ISO 1250 | 1/1000 sec | F4 | 560mm (1.4x teleconverter)

The 400mm F2.8 is compatible with both Sony’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. The former provides an equivalent field of view of 560mm and F4, the later 800mm and F5.6. The above is an example taken with the 1.4x teleconverter.

Other bits

As you would expect for $12,000, the lens has image stabilization with three different modes for various sports/action scenarios. It also has a customizable ring - located right in front of the focus ring - that can be set to do things like engage the APS-C crop mode on the camera, for more reach. There's also a drop-in filter tray near the lens mount.

One of my favorites things about this lens is a bit more superficial: the snazzy orange ring around the front of the carbon fiber hood. Perhaps in years to come, we'll see that orange ring more often along the sidelines.

Final thoughts

ISO 1250 | 1/1250 sec | F2.8

To many, the 400mm F2.8 was the final piece of the puzzle that had been missing in Sony’s glass line up. With this new telephoto prime, Sony is getting closer to being able to claim that it has a lens to meet the needs of any working photographer.

But now that the upper end of the market has been addressed, I implore you Sony, address the needs of the more modest end too. This $12K 400mm F2.8 is a huge accomplishment, but how about a reasonably-fast sub-$500 prime? A 35mm F1.8 perhaps...

Categories: Equipment

Sample gallery: Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 10:00am
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We first heard about Sony's pro-level FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens back in the winter. This past weekend we finally had the chance to put this impressive sports/wildlife lens to the test at a professional soccer match – read our first impressions. We even had the chance to toss on the Sony 1.4x teleconverter for some shots at an 560mm equiv. field of view. Have a look for yourself at the results.

Categories: Equipment

Rumor: Samsung Galaxy S10 to feature triple-camera

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 1:27pm

We only recently published our Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review but the smartphone business is extremely fast moving and we are already seeing the first rumors surrounding Samsung's next generation Galaxy S10 models which should be due for release sometime around the end of February 2019.

The S10 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Korean manufacturer's high-end Galaxy S line and is expected to come in three variants, with the the top-of-the-line model featuring a Huawei P20 Pro-style triple camera.

Little is known about Samsung's approach to the triple-camera concept but it's fair to assume it will offer similar features and specifications as Huawei's solution

On the Huawei a wide-angle RBG camera is combined with a monochrome sensor and a tele-camera with 3x zoom factor. So far little is known about Samsung's approach to the triple-camera concept but it's fair to assume it will offer similar features and specifications as Huawei's solution. That said, Samsung is expected to develop and implement its own sensors to differentiate the Galaxy S10 from the competition.

The Galaxy S10 base model is rumored to come with a single-camera and a 5.8" display. The second variant in the line is expected to offer a dual-camera, likely an upgraded version of the Galaxy S9 Plus setup, and the same display size, albeit with with Samsung's trade-mark curved edges.

The top-end version could feature a larger screen with under-display fingerprint reader and the aforementioned triple-camera. For now Huawei's P20 Pro is still the only smartphone with a triple-camera in the market but it looks like next year could see both Apple and Samsung enter the triple-camera segment.

Categories: Equipment

MagnetMod launches Kickstarter for new 'revolutionary' softbox system

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 12:20pm

MagnetMod has launched a new crowdfunding campaign for a trio of new products that makes up what it calls a 'revolutionary new softbox system,' The three new products are the MagShoe, MagRing and MagBox and as the naming scheme suggests, these products are made to work together to create an easy-to-use studio setup on the go.

The first piece of the puzzle is the MagRing. Designed to simplify softbox setup times, the MagRing is a magnet-based speedring that lets you mount one or two speedlights to a tripod in a matter of seconds. The MagRing is constructed of a metal base with two locking plastic doors to keep your speedlight(s) in place.

Next up is the MagBox, 'the world's first magnetic softbox,' according to MagnetMod. Hyperbole aside, the MagBox is a 24-inch octabox that includes a built-in gel holder, a zipper for easily swapping out gels, and a unique set of diffusers to help you get just the look you're going for.

Specifically, the MagBox includes a standard cloth diffusion panel that you'd find inside most soft boxes. However, it also includes what MagnetMod calls the FocusDiffuser. This internal diffuser is designed in such a way that it supposedly recreates the look of a gridded softbox or beauty dish without the light loss you'd get actually using a grid. Based on the GIF below, it appears to work as advertised.

If you're worried about magnets being the only thing holding the MagBox to the MagRing, there's not much reason for concern. As MagnetMod shows, the hold is strong enough that a small 'Magnetic Field Disrupter' is needed to release the MagBox from the MagRing. In the words of MagnetMod, 'even if you tilt your softbox at a deep angle or (for some reason) shoot inside a wind tunnel, the MagBox and the MagRing are staying put.'

The last of the three new products is the MagShoe, 'the baller coldshoe of the future.' This redesigned coldshe attachment improves upon traditional mounts in almost every way imaginable. Speedlights lock into place with a simple twist of a lever and a squeeze trigger makes it easy to tilt back and forth to get the angle you want. It even has a built-in hole for mounting an umbrella.

As will all of MagnetMod's past Kickstarter campaigns, this new trio of products has surpassed its $100,000 goal with 57 days to go. Pledges start at $49, which will get you a single MagShoe, and go up from there. To find out more and secure your pledge, head on over to the Kickstarter campaign.

Categories: Equipment

Leica SL 16-35mm F3.5-4.5 sample gallery

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 9:00am
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The 16-35mm F3.5-4.5 is currently the widest lens in Leica's full-frame SL system, and it's one that the company hopes will cover a lot of use-cases for SL owners. With a loaner lens in hand and plenty of daylight hours to burn, we've been out shooting with the 16-35mm long enough to determine that it's very, very sharp. It's no lightweight of course, and feels every bit as solid as its 990g / 2.2lb suggests. Take a look through our sample images and see what it can do.

Categories: Equipment

Adobe AI spots tampered images by focusing on noise and artifacts

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 3:07pm

Adobe researchers have developed a neural network that can identify Photoshopped images. The technology was detailed in a newly published study [PDF], which points out that it is often difficult for humans to notice altered parts of an image. However, differences between the original image and edited elements typically persist despite any attempts to obfuscate them, such as applying a Gaussian blur, and machines can be trained to spot those discrepancies.

Various differences may exist between original and edited image elements, such as different noise patterns and contrast levels. Manual adjustments to these edited elements can make them virtually indistinguishable to the human eye. Adobe's neural network, however, can not only identify these changes, but also determine the type of tampering technique used to edit the image.

The system involves a two-stream Faster R-CNN network with end-to-end training in identifying manipulated images. The first, called an RGB stream, looks for various tampering artifacts, including big contrast differences and altered boundaries. The second, called a noise stream, looks for inconsistencies in the image's noise to identify edited elements.

In the study, researchers explain:

We then fuse features from the two streams through a bilinear pooling layer to further incorporate spatial co-occurrence of these two modalities. Experiments on four standard image manipulation datasets demonstrate that our two-stream framework outperforms each individual stream, and also achieves state-of-the-art performance compared to alternative methods with robustness to resizing and compression.

Such technology could prove useful for verifying the authenticity of images used in photojournalism, photography contests, and similar situations.


Categories: Equipment

Apple launches service program for MacBooks affected by keyboard issues, offers free repairs

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 11:46am

Apple has launched a new service program for select MacBook and MacBook Pros potentially affected by a keyboard issue that results in sticky, unresponsive keys and repeated characters when typing.

The service program comes after three separate class action lawsuits were filed against the Cupertino company for issues related to MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards.

In a statement provided to 9to5Mac by an Apple spokesperson, the program 'covers a small percentage of keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models which may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly or don’t appear when pressed or keys that feel “sticky” or aren’t responding in a consistent manner.'

If believe your MacBook or MacBook Pro is being affected by the above issues, the first step is to check whether or not your model is part of the service program. To do this, go into the Apple () menu in the upper-left-hand corner of your Mac and select 'About This Mac.' Below are the eligible models:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)

If your MacBook or MacBook Pro is one of the above models and is experiencing keyboard issues, the next step is to set up the repair process. You can have the repair done at an Apple authorized service provider, make an appointment at an Apple retail store, or mail in your computer to Apple's repair center.

Before any repairs are made, Apple will verify whether anything needs to be fixed. If it does, Apple will 'service [the] eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge.' The repairs will consist of either replacing the affected keys or potentially replacing the keyboard as a whole if required.

You can find more details on how to get your device repaired by going to Apple's documentation page detailing the service program.

Categories: Equipment

Sony RX100 VI vs Panasonic ZS200 vs Panasonic ZS100: which is the best travel companion?

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 9:00am


Sony's RX100 may have ushered in the era of the 1" sensor compact, but it took Panasonic to combine these larger sensors with the long-lens flexibility that defines a travel zoom. This shouldn't be a surprise, since Panasonic spearheaded that type of camera back in the days when small sensors ruled the Earth.

The RX100 VI, with its 24-200mm equivalent lens, marks Sony's entry into the travel zoom sphere, pitching it squarely up against Panasonic's ZS/TZ models: the ZS100 and ZS200. So how do they compare?


The Panasonics, with their longer lenses, are a little larger in every dimension. They have viewfinder eye-pieces extending slightly from their upper left-hand corners. This extra space finds some use, though, with both cameras offering control dials on their top right shoulders, which the Sony lacks. The ZS200 even finds space for a rubber strip down the front of the camera, making it much easier to grip in a stable manner. The Sony comes closest to counting as pocketable. The RX100 series have added a couple of mm here and there over their lifetime, but although they've been creeping up in size compared with enthusiast compacts, the RX100 M6 is still a pretty reasonable size for an 8x travel zoom.

All three cameras have metal bodies but in each case it's a fairly thin shell, so don't expect any of them to put up with much rough-and-tumble.


The Lumix DC ZS200 has by far the greatest lens range of this trio but, in order to keep the size of the camera down, also has the least bright lens of the three. Its F3.3-6.4 maximum aperture is the most limited in terms of low light performance, and it gives a little less control over depth-of-field at traditional portrait focal lengths.

The ZS100 sits in the middle of the group, with a 25-250mm equivalent lens and F2.8-5.9 maximum aperture, while the Sony opts for the most modest zoom range (~24.5 to 200mm equivalent) but in combination with the brightest aperture range.

F2.8-4.5 isn't much to shout about if you compare it with the short, bright zoom on the RX100 V, but it's noticeably brighter than those of the Panasonics. The RX100 VI maintains a value of F4 up to and a little beyond 100mm equivalent, meaning it can shoot a passable portrait, as well as a wide range of holiday snaps.


We've been pretty impressed with the autofocus performance of the Panasonic ZS / TZ cameras. It's not pro sports level but it's pretty good at subject tracking and produces a pretty reasonable hit-rate, even when shooting at 10 fps.

However the RX100 VI is playing at a rather different level. One of the main things you're paying for in this camera is its fast sensor with on-sensor phase detection. This, along with algorithms Sony developed for its a9 pro sports camera, means hugely impressive autofocus performance. Even at its maximum shooting rate of 24 frames per second, it's able to track moving subjects very effectively.

Even if you don't shoot fast-moving subjects or rattle-off 24 fps bursts, the RX100 VI's autofocus can be very useful. While the Panasonics are able to identify and focus on subjects' eyes as part of its Face Detection mode, the Sony's Eye AF system outperforms it by a significant degree, in terms of both speed and accuracy. If you hold down a button to engage Eye AF you can essentially depend on your subject being perfectly focused.


All three cameras feature viewfinders, which is hugely useful when shooting in bright light, adding to the flexibility of all these cameras. The ZS100 has the smallest, lowest-resolution finder of the three, followed by ZS200, with the RX100 VI offering the highest resolution as well as the largest viewfinder image.

Camera Resolution Magnification
(35mm equiv)
Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS100 1.17m dot equiv 0.46x Field-sequential LCD
Panasonic Lumix DC ZS200 2.33m dot equiv 0.53 Field-sequential LCD
Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 VI 2.36m dots 0.59x OLED

The Sony has the upper hand in this respect, since it has a bright contrasty OLED viewfinder, whereas the Panasonics use field-sequential lower contrast LCDs. These refresh one color after another, rather than showing red, green and blue at the same time. The resulting 'rainbow effect' can be off-putting for some users and becomes more visible in low light.

Image Quality

All three cameras perform very well in terms of image quality, compared with older travel zooms or contemporary smartphones, thanks to their large, 1"-type sensors. A 13.2 x 8.8 mm chunk of silicon isn't much when compared with most interchangeable lens cameras, but it's enough to offer in the region of a 3EV difference to a smartphone shot at the same F-number (though multi-shot and computational techniques allow some of the latest phones to compete).

Panasonic and Sony have historically ranked somewhat poorly in our estimation when it came to JPEG color, but both have made significant improvements with their recent models. These improvements, combined with some of the most sophisticated noise reduction and sharpening available see us leaning towards the Sony when it comes to JPEG quality.

Lens performance tends to be somewhat variable with the complex, collapsible lenses used in this class of camera but we've been impressed by what we've seen of the Sony lens, so far, whereas we haven't encountered a ZS200 that could maintain sharpness across its full (extensive) zoom range.

Low light performance is somewhat hindered by the cameras' relatively slow maximum apertures, which give them less access to light, meaning noisier images than you can get with the likes of the RX100 V or LX10 with their shorter but brighter lenses.


All three cameras offer 4K video at up to 30 frames per second but they achieve it in very different ways. The Sony samples the full width of its sensor then processes and downsizes this higher-res footage to UHD 4K resolution. This allows it to capture more detail than the Panasonics, which use a 3840 x 2160 pixel crop from the center of their sensors.

Using a crop means the Lumixes are effectively using smaller sensors, which means less total light capture and noisier footage, as well as losing any wide-angle capability from their lenses. The Sony also offers a range of advanced video features such as the ability to shoot Log footage.

However, a major drawback for all three cameras is that none of them incorporate ND filters in their lenses, nor do they include filter threads for attaching one. This suggests video was fairly low down on the list of priorities in their design.

Aftermarket options exist that glue a threaded mount onto the front of the lens. However, given how delicate these lenses are, we think you'd have to be pretty committed to shooting video to take this approach (and, ideally, fairly careful each time you apply torque to attach a filter).

Add to this the lack of mic sockets on all three cameras, and you can pretty much rule them out for serious video work, unless you're really fond of the booming, rasping interruption of wind noise or are willing to give up the convenience and compactness of the camera by carrying a separate audio recorder.


All three cameras have comparatively limited direct control. Each has a mode dial from which it's entirely possible to engage P, A, S or M exposure modes, but none of them appears designed with constant settings changes in mind.

As alluded to earlier, the Panasonics do have an edge here though, thanks to the additional control dial on their top right corners. The function of this dial can be reconfigured, which you may wish to do, depending on how you like to shoot. This ability to customize the dial's function and its more convenient location make it much more convenient than the small, fiddly dial on the back panel of the Sony, which you need to re-arrange your hand position to reach.

The RX100 VI has the most sophisticated Auto ISO system, reducing your need to directly control this, the ZS200 doesn't offer quite so much ability for fine-tuning and the ZS100 is the least clever, with you just having to hope it'll make the right choices for you.

All three cameras have free-rotating dials around their lenses. These are great for controlling continuously adjustable settings, such as zoom or manual focus but give no tactile feedback to help indicate when you're adjusting discrete settings, such as aperture value, ISO or exposure compensation, which can lead to accidental settings changes.


The RX100 VI is the first of its line to include a touchscreen and, like other recent Sonys, this can be used to position the AF point, both when the rear screen is being used and as a touchpad when the camera is to your eye.

Panasonic was the first brand to use the rear screen as a touchpad, so it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that its touchscreen implementation is rather more polished. The Lumixes may lack the ability to specify which areas of the screen should/shouldn't be active in touchpad mode, but they allow the use of the touchscreen for a much wider range of functions.

The menus in the ZS100 and 200, while different, are both touch sensitive. Both cameras also offer a customizable version of their Q.Menus, which are designed with large, easy to press buttons. You can customize the Sony's comparable 'Fn' menu but you can't interact with it via the touchscreen.


Overall, then, it looks like an easy win for the Sony. It's the smallest, and has the brightest lens. It may be the shortest zoom of the three, but it includes a range that will be enough for most applications, so this shouldn't be limiting.

Our impressions so far are that it also has the best lens, the best autofocus and video that's both cleaner and more detailed. There are also a couple of things the RX100 does that the Panasonics can't. Its frankly ridiculous continuous shooting performance may be a differentiator for some photographers, and its Eye AF performance alone would make a huge difference for anyone taking portraits.

Where it loses out is in terms of control. The Panasonics have an extra control dial and make much more extensive use of their touchscreens, which makes it easier to take control over them when you're shooting. They also trounce the Sony in terms of battery life, offering between 25 and 50% longer battery life depending on the model. This may be a deciding factor for anyone traveling.

Then, of course, there's the price. Even at list prices, the RX100 VI's $1200 price tag makes it 50% more expensive than the ZS200 and 70% more expensive than the ZS100. This price difference on the street is likely to be still larger, given how long the ZS100's price has had to drop since launch.

The Sony certainly promises a lot more but you also have to pay for that. Whether it's worth it for you is something we'll try to reveal in our forthcoming review.

Categories: Equipment

DPReview TV: Sony RX100 VI review

Sun, 06/24/2018 - 9:00am

Sony recently announced the RX100 VI, the newest addition to its compact camera line. With six iterations of the RX100 series now in circulation, how does this new model stand out from the rest? Chris and Jordan take the camera for a spin and tell us what they think about the new, longer lens, the updated viewfinder and more. They even manage to fit in some well earned hammock time in the process.

Read our RX100 VI first impressions and RX100 VI: What you need to know articles to learn more.

RX100 VI first impressions

RX100 VI what you need to know

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

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Sony RX100 VI sample gallery

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Categories: Equipment