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Updated: 1 hour 9 min ago

Voigtlander-Cosina announces 21mm F3.5 lens for Sony E-mount systems

6 hours 25 min ago

Voigtlander-Cosina Japan has announced its new Color Skopar 21mm F3.5 E-mount lens.

This is the eighth Voigtlander-Cosina lens designed specifically for Sony's full-frame E-mount support. As with past lenses, the Color Skopar 21mm F3.5 features full EXIF support. In addition to having the extra metadata there, this also means Sony's in-body image stabilization should work without issue when shooting with the lens.

The lens constructed of nine elements — including one aspherical element and one anomalous partial dispersion element — in eight groups. It has a minimum focusing distance of 20cm/7.87in and uses a ten-blade aperture diaphragm.

The diameter of the lens is 62.8mm/2.47in and the length is 39.9mm/1.57in. It weighs just 230g and features a 52mm filter size.

Below are a collection of sample images provided by Voightlander-Cosina:

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The lens is currently available for pre-order and is expected to start shipping in October 2018. Voigtlander-Cosina Japan has it listed for ¥85,000, which equates to roughly $758 at the current exchange rate. Fred Miranda notes though that the price is suspected to be $799 when it lands stateside.

Categories: Photo News

Sony announces lightweight FE 24mm F1.4 G Master prime

8 hours 10 min ago
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Sony has taken the wraps off of its new full-frame 24mm F1.4 G Master prime lens. Despite that fast maximum aperture, Sony has created a remarkably small and light lens compared to its peers, with a weight of just 445 grams (15.7 ounces). Compare that to the Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art shown below, which is 50% heavier and considerably more bulky, albeit cheaper.

It's a departure from traditional GM lenses, which tend to be large so as to not sacrifice optimal performance. This lens bucks the trend by prioritizing both optical performance and size and weight.

Sony's new 24mm F1.4 GM is significantly smaller than the Sigma equivalent to its left. In hand on a Sony body, it feels more like a F1.8 prime, which is really quite an achievement for a F1.4 lens, particularly one with the optical performance of the 24mm GM.

The 24mm F1.4 GM has a total of 13 elements, including two XA (extreme aspherical) which significantly reduce coma, and three ED elements. Sony's Nano AR coating reduces flare and ghosting, and so far, we're impressed by the lack of distracting flare artifacts and high contrast images even when shooting into the sun. 11 aperture blades yield smooth bokeh and circular out-of-focus highlights even when you stop down to F2.8, as well as 22-blade sharp sunbursts if you stop down further with bright, pinpoint light sources.

Focus is is driven by a new, evolved Direct Drive SSM motor that deliveries 'approximately three times greater thrust' than the previous system, but with high positional accuracy, according to Sony. In our initial tests, it's faster to focus than the Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art, so we're impressed by the speed of focus considering its F1.4 maximum aperture.

Its manual focus ring offers a linear response: a rarity on mirrorless lenses and useful when shooting video. It almost feels like a mechanically coupled focus ring. An aperture ring (with a 'de-click' feature), customizable focus hold button and AF/MF switch are also available. As with all G Master lenses, the 24mm F1.4 is weather-sealed.

Focus is silent, and there's minimal focus breathing. That combined with the linear focusing behavior and small lightweight design makes this lens very suitable for video.

The Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM will ship in October for $1400. Stay tuned for in-depth analyses of the optical characteristics of this lens, but in the meantime you can judge the performance yourself from our sample images, linked below. And if you're itching to assess sharpness, have a look at our aperture progression of a cityscape at the end of our sample gallery.

View our Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM sample gallery

Watch DPReview TV's first impressions

Press Release

Sony Expands Full-Frame Lens Lineup with Launch of 24mm F1.4 G Master™ Prime

New Large Aperture Wide-Angle Prime Lens is the most compact and lightest in its class[i] , with superb sharpness even at F1.4

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 20, 2018 – Sony Electronics, Inc. – a global leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer – has today introduced an exciting new addition to their acclaimed G Master series of full-frame E-mount lenses, a 24mm F1.4 prime lens.

Expertly engineered to deliver best in class performance across all aperture settings, the new FE 24mm F1.4 GM (model SEL24F14GM) utilizes Sony’s most advanced optical technologies to satisfy the needs of the most demanding photographers. The new lens is the most compact and lightweight in its classi, measuring approx. 3.0 inches x 3.64 inches and weighing only 15.7 ounces, with a filter diameter of 67mm. Built to meet the strict standards of Sony’s flagship G Master series, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM offers exceptionally high resolution and beautiful bokeh, two qualities that are signature attributes of the G Master brand.

“We are continuing to evolve our lens lineup to maximize the power of our innovative α camera lineup, ” said Neal Manowitz, vice president of imaging solutions at Sony Electronics. “The new 24mm prime brings an exciting new perspective to our flagship lens series. With its incredibly lightweight design and signature G Master quality, our 30th native full-frame mirrorless lens opens up a new world of creative opportunities for today’s photographers, videographers and multi-media creators.”

Realizing consistently high resolution across the entire frame, even at F1.4, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM boasts a new optical design comprised of 10 groups with 13 elements, including two XA (extreme aspherical) and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. The incorporation of two XA elements effectively suppresses sagittal flare[ii] to ensure that point light sources like distant stars can be accurately reproduced, making the FE 24mm F1.4 GM a compelling proposition for astrophotography. For impressive clarity, Sony’s unique Nano AR Coating is applied to reduce lens flare and ghosting, even in landscape shots where the position of the sun can be problematic with a normal lens.

This outstanding performance is packaged in an extremely compact and lightweight body weighing it at only 15.7 ounces, a welcome relief for landscape or adventure photographers that are hiking, climbing or traveling over long distances. This advantage is further compounded when the FE 24mm F1.4 GM is paired with one of Sony’s award winning α7 / α9 cameras. The lightweight lens design has been realized in part by the development of a new high power DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) that delivers approximately three times greater thrust than the previous focus system, enabling fast response, high positioning accuracy and quiet operation for both stills and movie shooting.

This incredible lens is also a perfect complement to Sony’s APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras such as α6500 and α6300, and brings the total number of native Sony α E-mount lenses to 48[iii].

In addition to its landscape and starscape shooting abilities, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM also has excellent close up performance of 0.24 meters (0.79ft.) and delivers soft and natural bokeh, a feature that is common across Sony’s entire G Master series of lenses. This is achieved by extreme control over factors like spherical aberration, and axial and lateral chromatic aberration, at the design and manufacturing stages, as each lens is individually tested and adjusted to achieve maximum performance.

The FE 24mm F1.4 GM also includes a number of professional controls that aide ease of operation for both stills and movie shooting. These include an aperture ring that allows direct, intuitive aperture control, and a focus ring that features Linear Response MF for fine, responsive manual focus control. There is also a customizable focus hold button, and a focus-mode switch that makes it possible to quickly select auto or manual focus to match changing shooting conditions.

Pricing and Availability

The FE 24mm F1.4 GM will ship in October 2018 for approximately $1,400 US and $1,900 CA. The lens will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.

[i] Compared to other full-frame 24mm F1.4 auto-focus prime lenses. As of September 2018 press release, based on Sony research

[ii] A phenomenon that results in an unnatural spreading of point light sources that appears somewhat like a bird spreading its wings and becomes more pronounced towards the image periphery. It is most common in large-aperture lenses

[iii] Including converters, excluding discontinued models

Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM specifications Principal specificationsLens typePrime lensMax Format size35mm FFFocal length24 mmImage stabilizationNoLens mountSony FEApertureMaximum apertureF1.4Minimum apertureF16Aperture ringYesNumber of diaphragm blades11OpticsElements13Groups10Special elements / coatingsXA (extreme aspherical) + ED elements, Nano AR coatingFocusMinimum focus0.24 m (9.45″)Maximum magnification0.17×AutofocusYesMotor typeLinear MotorFull time manualYesFocus methodInternalDistance scaleNoDoF scaleNoPhysicalWeight445 g (0.98 lb)Diameter75 mm (2.95″)Length92 mm (3.62″)SealingYesColourBlackFilter thread67 mmHood suppliedYesHood product codeALC-SH154
Categories: Photo News

DPReview TV: Sony 24mm F1.4 GM

8 hours 10 min ago

In this episode of DPReview TV we take a look at Sony's brand new 24mm F1.4 GM lens, a desirable focal length for many photographers. How does it perform? Chris and Jordan give us their first impressions.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

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Categories: Photo News

Sony 24mm F1.4 GM sample gallery

8 hours 10 min ago
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Sony's new FE 24mm F1.4 G Master lens is surprisingly lightweight and compact for a wide, fast prime. Having spent a little bit of time shooting with it, we've got some initial images to share. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at this new G Master lens.

See our Sony 24mm F1.4 GM sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm X-T3 firmware update fixes distortion, memory card lock issues

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 18:10

Fujifilm released a firmware upgrade (v1.01) for its X-T3 mirrorless camera that addresses issues with distortion compensation when using the electronic shutter in continuous high shooting mode. A bug where the mechanical lock on SD cards was ignored has also been fixed, along with unspecified 'slight defects'.

The update can be downloaded here.

Read our Fujifilm X-T3 First Impressions Review

Categories: Photo News

Polarr Deep Crop app crops your images like a pro

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:52

Cropping has the potential to turn a good photo into a great one, or even save a shot that would otherwise have ended up in the digital trashcan. Software company Polarr has now launched a new AI-powered app for iOS that should make finding the perfect crop much easier.

Deep Crop's algorithms have been trained to find the most interesting elements in a photo using

using 200 million cropping data points from real photographers.

Source image Crop 1 Crop 2 Crop 3

The company also says it has achieved an 20x efficiency boost in RAM and power usage for offline AI- systems, allowing for the app to run locally on your iPhone. This means there's no need for internet connectivity and your image material won't be uploaded to any external servers.

When you launch the app, all images in your camera roll will be displayed, and tapping on a photo will show you suggested crop options. By default, you'll see smart crops of various ratios but it is also possible to specify an aspect ratio.

If you don't like the apps' suggestion you can repeat the process as many times as you like to see more crops. Once you like the result it can be exported or shared in the usual ways.

Source image Crop 1 Crop 2 Crop 3

In its current state Deep Crop is pretty much a one-trick-pony but we'd expect the technology to be integrated into one of Polarr's more comprehensive applications, such as Photo Editor, at some point in the near future. In the meantime the app can help you achieve better crops or simply discover new perspectives when viewing your own images.

Polarr Deep Crop is available on the Apple App Store now.

Categories: Photo News

Loupedeck is now compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 12:42

In June, Loupedeck launched an update to its editing console, including a physical redesign and added Capture One compatibility. Now, a big new software update aims to make the device attractive to an entirely new user group – the Loupedeck+ is now compatible with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, allowing for its use in video editing.

Configuration of the controls is customizable to adapt to your workflow, and configuration setups can be exported for sharing or use across multiple consoles. It is possible to create several LUTs (color lookup tables) for fast and efficient alteration of color and the system also supports flexible timeline navigation, content trimming and clip adjustment.

If Adobe Premier isn't your video editor of choice, you might still be able to use Loupedeck in the future, as the company says it will be rolling out mode video software integrations later this year.

Loupedeck chief Mikko Kesti said in a statement:

"Our mission is to keep on improving the editing workflow, so it's only fitting our next step is in the video editing space. Just like we developed the Loupedeck+ exclusively from community feedback, we felt it was imperative to listen to what our users had to say and make the device's functionality even more well-rounded, providing all the same editing functions that photographers have at their fingertips to videographers. Users can now count on Loupedeck+'s intuitive design and user-friendly approach to enhance their video editing quality and increase their output. Our ongoing partnership with Adobe made introducing these new capabilities with its Premiere Pro CC suite an easy decision."

Categories: Photo News

First lens adapters for Nikon Z already appearing

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 11:02

British photographic engineer MTF Services is claiming to have created the world’s first third-party lens adapters for the new Nikon Z system, with a collection of four units designed to allow cinema lenses to be mounted on the mirrorless full frame bodies. The adapters are made with stainless steel and HE30 aluminum, and feature a toe support with steel helicoil 1/4" threads.

The lenses the adapters are aimed at are PL, Panavision, B4 and Arri bayonet, so they are intended to appeal to filmmakers and broadcasters. The adapters come pre-shimmed, and spare shims will be included.

The PL to Nikon Z version is available to order on the company’s site for £350 + VAT (approx $460), and the other models are expected to follow soon. For more information see the MTF Services Lens Adapter website.

Categories: Photo News

Think Tank updates its Hydrophobia rain covers, introduces new compact 'Emergency' line

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 08:50

Think Tank Photo has released the latest versions of its Hydrophobia rain covers and introduced a new pair of compact rain covers it calls the Emergency Rain Cover.

The Hydrophobia V3.0 Rain Covers come in five different configurations to fit various DSLR cameras and Sony full-frame mirrorless camera setups. In Think Tank Photo's own words, the Hydrophobia V3.0 Rain Covers are 'considered the most protective weather protection on the market.'

Hydrophobia V3.0 Rain Covers are made of a three-layer material and feature a DWR coating for extra protection against moisture. The stitches across the entire cover are seam-sealed and a rainproof front element cover is included so your lens doesn't get splashed when sitting idle.

If you don't feel like carrying an all-out solution for keeping your gear dry, Think Tank Photo has also released a new thinned-out version of its rain covers. They're called Emergency Rain Covers and as the name suggests, they're a more compact, lightweight solution for keeping your gear safe from the elements in emergency situations.

Emergency Rain Covers come in two sizes: small and medium — and they weigh just 99g/3.5oz and 114g/4oz, respectively. Compared to the approximately 300g/10.5oz of the full-size Hydrophobia Rain Covers, it's quite the weight savings.

The small is meant to keep a gripped or standard camera body protects with smaller primes or zooms attached. Specifically, Think Tank Photo mentions 16–35mm F2.8, 14–24mm F2.8, 24–105mm F4 and 24–70mm F2.8 lenses, but it's safe to say most super-wide to standard lenses (35-70mm) should work fine. The medium Emergency Rain Cover can also keep a gripped or standard camera body protected with a 24–70mm F2.8 or 70–200mm F2.8 lens attached. Again, there are plenty of other lenses that would work beyond the two Think Tank Photo mentioned.

All of the rain covers are currently available to purchase through Think Tank Photo's online shop. The Hydrophobia Rain Covers start at $115 for the 24-70 size and go up to $150 for the massive 300-600 version. The small and medium emergency rain covers retail for $35 and $40, respectively.

Categories: Photo News

Fujifilm X-T3 added to studio test scene comparison

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 07:00

Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors and detail types you'll encounter in the real world. It also has two illumination modes to see the effects of different lighting conditions.

The X-T3 boasts a brand-new 26MP BSI image sensor, which is likely to appear in the next generation of Fujifilm cameras. We've added the X-T3 to our studio test scene comparison to take a first look at how the new sensor compares to the competition.

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Read our Fujifilm X-T3
First Impressions Review

Categories: Photo News

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM sample gallery

Wed, 09/19/2018 - 06:00
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Of the four lenses launched alongside the Canon EOS R earlier this month, the RF 50mm F1.2L USM was one that we were excited to get our hands on. As soon as it landed in our office a few days ago we got started on a dedicated gallery, shot in Raw mode on the new Canon EOS R.

You'll notice that quite a lot of the images in this gallery were shot at F1.2, because, well, why not? This is lens is seriously sharp wide open and a lot of fun to shoot with. See for yourself how it performs.

View our Canon RF 50mm F1.2L gallery

Categories: Photo News

Nikon stops all activity in Brazil after ending sales in 2017

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 14:05

Last year, Nikon announced plans to end its sales in Brazil as part of a "global scale restructuring," a decision that went into effect on December 31, 2017. Though product sales ended, the company maintained its Brazil-based customer and technical support business segments in the nation, but that too has come to an end.

In a statement last week, Nikon Brazil revealed that it is ending all of its activities in the country. Nikon Group will still offer technical assistance and warranty repairs for valid warranties, but photography equipment owners will need to submit those requests through the Nikon Brazil website. Any out-of-warranty requests will be handled by Nikon USA.

Since the shuttering of its e-commerce sales in December 2017, photographers seeking Nikon gear in Brazil have had to rely on parallel imports brought into the country through non-official channels, without valid warranties.

Via: PetaPixel

Categories: Photo News

CatLABS of JP ceases efforts to keep Packfilm alive after two years of trying

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 08:39

Two-and-a-half years after it announced plans to keep Packfilm alive, CatLABS of JP has announced it's no longer continuing its efforts.

Typically known for its impressive collection of analogue photography products, CatLABS of JP announced in March 2016 that it had plans to revitalize Packfilm — an endeavor further expedited by Fujifilm's discontinuation of its Packfilm offerings. Over the next two years, CatLABS of JP spent a great deal of time and capital looking for the puzzle pieces it needed to keep Packfilm alive.

'We had begun a globe-trotting effort to secure things for the future, and met (sometimes secretly) with top executives from companies all around the world, (Japan, Germany, France, China and the US),' says CatLABS of JP on its update page. 'We visited factories, warehouses and dungeons, walked knee deep in dust and detritus to try and uncover some long lost or forgotten piece of technology we hoped would aid us in this quest. We met with suppliers, designers, chemists and engineers and secured what would potentially be the base upon which a new production line would be built.'

As you can imagine, it wasn't a cheap process. After two years of research, travel and communications, CatLABS of JP realized its efforts and capital would be better spent elsewhere. Thus, the effort to keep Packfilm alive is officially over.

On the page announcing the end of its efforts, CatLABS of JP thanks its supporters, saying 'we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us along the way. We got thousands of emails and phone calls, and while [we were] not able to respond to all of them, know that we took each and every one of them to heart - it has meant the world to us to know there is a strong and active analog community out there.'

Despite the ending of its own efforts, CatLABS of JP ends its update with a call to action for analog photographers around the world — get out there and buy what Packfilm remains in an effort to show how many photographers around the world still use it.

'Those who have been lamenting the demise of Packfilm (FP100c) and those just jumping onboard now, should know that Packfilm was and still is readily available around the world (and probably will still be available for the next few years), says CatLABS of JP. 'Everyone should go out and buy some now, buy lots of it and go shoot. Its the only way to keep the industry going.'

CatLABS of JP even links out to another effort to keep Packfilm alive, a revival aptly named Save Packfilm. In addition to an online community full of resources to show support, Save Packfilm is also launching a Kickstarter in two days to help crowdfund its efforts. To find out more information and to be notified when the Kickstart goes live, head on over to the Save Packfilm website.

CatLABS of JP ends its farewell with a simple request 'as always - BUY MORE FILM. SUPPORT THE INDUSTRY.'

Categories: Photo News

Summer in 360: Exploring Seattle with the GoPro Fusion

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 07:00

The GoPro Fusion is a small, tough camera designed to make it easy to capture 360-degree video and stills with minimal editing. We took the Fusion out recently on a typically hot Seattle summer day to see what it can do.

Joining DPReview's Carey Rose was adventure photographer Aly Nicklas on a day that took in everything from a hottub boat to Seattle's famous 'gum wall'.

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

Categories: Photo News

Nikon Z7 gallery updated with full-production samples

Tue, 09/18/2018 - 06:00
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Our updated gallery features a mix of full-production Nikon Z7 samples as well as pre-production shots from our initial launch coverage. Dive on in for a mix of out of camera JPEGs as well as Raw conversions. We'll be updating this gallery frequently as our Nikon Z7 review comes together – so check back soon.

See our Nikon Z7 gallery update

Categories: Photo News

Chroma Chrono is a programmable RGB camera flash for colorful long exposures

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 13:54

A new Kickstarter campaign seeks funding for Chroma Chrono, a programmable RGB camera flash that emits multiple colors during long exposures. Users can program the flash using a web interface accessible on any device with a web browser and WiFi; the system enables users to choose the flash colors and the on/off duration for each color.

Chroma Chrono features a high-intensity RGB LED, a WiFi-enabled microcontroller, and three AA batteries. Users can connect the flash to a standard hot shoe or trigger it remotely via a Prontor-Compur adapter. The camera flash currently exists as a final production prototype with anticipated manufacturing if the Kickstarter is successful.

Backers are offered an early bird Chroma Chrono flash for pledges of at least £120 / $164.

Via: Kickstarter

Categories: Photo News

Think Tank Photo launches dual-access, water-resistant Lens Case Duo lineup

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 08:50

Think Tank photo has launched a new line of protective lens cases it cals Lens Case Duo. The six cases in the lineup feature a soft, padded liner and two skippered access points: one from the top of the case and one from the side.

Each of these cases can be used on their own or together as a modular system. The two methods of accessing the lens inside make it easy to pair with either a belt system or stuffed inside a backpack — whatever your setup requires. The larger cases, designed for massive primes and telephoto lenses, include a shoulder strap in the event you prefer to carry it as a sling of sorts.

Currently, the Lens Case Duo comes size different sizes: 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40. The smallest of the cases (5) is meant to hole a small prime or kit lens. At the largest end of the spectrum, the biggest case (40) can hold telephoto zoom lenses, such as Canon and Nikon 70-200mm F2.8. You can find a full list of suggested carrying capacities on Think Tank Photo's announcment page. Each of the bags come in black and green color ways, feature a water-repellent coating, and have two small neoprene pouches on the front.

These bags bear a striking resemblance to Think Tank Photo's waist belt lens pouch line-up, so it's nothing new, really. The only notable difference we see is the ability to access the pouch from the side in addition to the top. Also, these don't feature a built-in rain pouch like Think Tank Photo's belt system pouches do.

The Lens Case Duo 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40 are available for $21, $22, $27, $29 and $33, respectively.

Categories: Photo News

Canikon full-frame mirrorless: What we expected, what we got and where we go from here

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 06:00

It took them a while but Canon and Nikon finally entered the full-frame mirrorless market this summer with the launch of two brand-new lens mounts. Canon's RF mount is the company's first 35mm format lens mount since 1987, and Nikon's new Z mount replaces the almost 60 year-old F-mount, as the company's main standard going forward.

Including Leica's SL line (but not its legacy M mount), this makes four full-frame mirrorless systems currently on the market. Of the legacy DSLR makers, Ricoh is now the only company not to offer a mirrorless solution, while Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic continue to bypass full-frame, developing their larger (Fujifilm GFX) and smaller-format (APS-C and Four Thirds) mirrorless platforms in favor of developing new mount standards.

Kenji Tanaka of Sony nailed it when he predicted that both Canon and Nikon would enter the full-frame mirrorless market within a year

Back in spring, fresh from the CP+ tradeshow in Japan, I went back through the interviews that we conducted in Yokohama, looking for additional insights and common threads that might indicate where the industry as a whole was heading. One consistent message from almost all of the executives that we spoke to was that more full-frame mirrorless systems were coming, and soon. Kenji Tanaka of Sony nailed it when he predicted that both Canon and Nikon would enter the full-frame mirrorless market within a year. In fact, it would be less than six months from that conversation that the RF and Z mounts were announced.

Read our roundup of executive interviews from CP+ 2018

It's been obvious for some time that beyond a certain point, mirrors and prisms would become barriers to technical innovation in digital cameras. The question was not if but when that point would be reached. Mr Tanaka again: "If cameras are going to develop, [...] manufacturers are going to have to develop mirrorless technologies". And this makes sense, as sensor technologies are developing far faster than the outdated technologies behind secondary AF and metering sensors or mechanical shutters.

Over the past few years we've seen the messaging around mirrorless change from claims of a size and weight advantage compared to DSLRs (which was always a bit of a stretch, once wide-aperture lenses are introduced into the equation) to a more technical argument, based around the inherent benefits of getting rid of that pesky mirror - and that even peskier prism. The four big ones are, in no particular order: more useful viewfinders, faster maximum frame-rates, potential for more advanced (and more accurate) autofocus with intelligent subject recognition, and seamless video integration. Some of those advantages are of course interrelated.

As Canon and Nikon enter the marketplace, Sony's APS-C and full-frame mirrorless lineups are already very established.

Both Canon and Nikon had been laying the required groundwork for a serious mirrorless system for years, but it was left to the likes of Sony, Olympus and Panasonic (and - lest we forget - Samsung) to really push the limits of what mirrorless cameras could do in actual, shipping, cameras. The headline performance features in cameras like the Sony a6000-series, a7R/a9, Olympus E-M1 II and Samsung NX-1 for example would simply not be possible if they were constrained by traditional DSLR design.

Remember when I said a few months ago that the Nikon 1 System wasn't dead? Well, it's definitely dead now

To be fair, the same could be said of the Dual Pixel autofocus system in (say) Canon's EOS M50, or the rapid capture rates and fast on-sensor AF of the V models in Nikon's 1-System lineup, but neither the EF-M nor 1-System were ever aimed seriously at enthusiasts or professional photographers. Oh, and remember when I said a few months ago that the Nikon 1 System wasn't dead, it was just sleeping? Well, it's definitely dead now.

What's that you say? Enough of the preamble? You're starting to think that you already read this article several times already? Fair enough.

In that case, you'll remember that back then I did something that no sensible technology writer should ever do, and indulged in some light prediction-making. Here's how things turned out.

Prediction #1: The announcement of 4K-capable full-frame mirrorless cameras from one or both of Canon and Nikon before Photokina.

100% correct. Notwithstanding some debate over whether or not the EOS R is really a capable 4K camera, thanks to its ~1.8X crop and rolling shutter issues. We're disappointed to see such limited 4K video features in the EOS R, but not completely surprised. The video capabilities of Nikon's Z6 and Z7 on the other hand did surprise us, and represent a confident step by the company in the direction of becoming a serious manufacturer for enthusiast videographers. Nikon even surprised us by introducing incredibly capable video AF, a compliment reserved up until now for only Canon Dual Pixel AF. Not anymore.

Kenji Tanaka, Senior General Manager of Sony's Digital Imaging Business Group, pictured in Yokohama for the 2018 CP+ show where he accurately predicted that Canon and Nikon would join Sony in the full-frame mirrorless space within a year. Prediction #2: Canon will make a relatively simple adapter for EF lenses to its new mount, Nikon will have a more difficult job.

In fact, Canon made three adapters, one a simple EF-RF adapter, and the other two to add a control ring and drop-in CPL/Vari ND filters, respectively. The latter two certainly don't count as 'simple', but Canon's engineers' lives were undoubtedly made easier by the fact that EF was already a fully-electronic lensmount.

Nikon meanwhile did face a more difficult task, but actually exceeded my expectations. The FTZ adapter allows full or partial compatibility with a very large number of F-mount lenses, including older lenses with mechanical aperture actuation. Given the challenges of adapting a 60 year-old mount standard to a new mirrorless platform, this is no easy trick to pull off, even if users of many non-AF-S lenses will be disappointed to lose autofocus.

Prediction #3: Nikon might use the open Sony E-mount standard.

Well, I got that one dead wrong, didn't I? In fact, we're glad that Nikon didn't go down this route (which in fact, wiser heads have since told me might not even have been an option in the first place). The Z mount is both wider and offers a shallower flange-back distance compared to E, which has advantages when it comes to adapting lenses from other mounts, as well as potentially for future native Z lens development.

The new Nikon Z mount features an internal mount diameter of 55mm and a very short flange back distance of 16mm. Prediction #4: Neither Canon nor Nikon will attack the pro market with their initial mirrorless cameras.

I was half-right on this one. Neither company released a truly 'professional' model in the same mold as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II or D5, but the Nikon Z7 is a bit more camera than I expected, and for some photographers (not by any means all) it could replace the excellent D850. Where the Z7 falls down is when it comes to autofocus. Performance doesn't look like it's up there with the best 3D tracking implementations in Nikon's DSLRs, and the UX is very different. Prosumer maybe, but 'pro'? Not quite.

The Canon EOS R, showing off its single card slot. The Nikon Z7 (which uses XQD media) has been criticized for offering similarly limited redundancy.

Canon meanwhile, bless their hearts, did exactly what we thought they'd do. The EOS R is not the mirrorless 5D IV that a lot of people were hoping for (despite sharing a sensor) and is, in fact, more of a 6D-class product, albeit with some unique features. It would be a mistake to think that the EOS R represents the pinnacle of Canon's mirrorless ambitions, and we fully expect more pro-oriented cameras to follow it over the next couple of years.

I've written elsewhere that the camera I am reminded of most when looking at the EOS R is in fact the 30 year-old EOS 650 - a midrange SLR that nonetheless, had a huge impact on the consumer photography market. And the EOS 650 didn't even have a single card slot! Can you imagine such a thing?

Prediction #5: A slow build-up of core native lenses will follow the new cameras, and development will ramp up towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Nikon's Z-mount roadmap shows what the company has in the pipeline for the next couple of years through 2020 - an important year for both Canon and Nikon thanks to the Tokyo Olympics.

Nikon launched the Z system with a small range of what look like excellent, but not exactly flagship lenses, alongside a roadmap that fills out the lineup into - you guessed it - 2020. Nikon's roadmap contains some much more serious-looking glass, albeit nothing longer than 200mm, for now.

Canon meanwhile has not released a lens roadmap (in fact I don't think Canon has ever published such a thing) but launched the EOS R alongside a brace of very impressive wide-aperture lenses, including an L-series 28-70mm F2 and 50mm F1.2. Lenses which, going by their size and price alone, are probably not destined to be purchased by many EOS R shooters.

As predictions go, I'd call that a respectable showing, but there's a lot we don't know. I'd love to find out, for example, what Canon's plans are for expanding its RF lens lineup over the next few months, but since Canon doesn't 'do' lens roadmaps we can only guess (and hope). I think we're all eager, too, to see truly 'professional' mirrorless cameras from both Canon and Nikon to compete with the likes of Sony's sports and action-focused a9.

I'm also curious about the future (assuming there is one) for APS-C mirrorless models from both companies. Canon already has an APS-C mirrorless system, but its decision to develop the RF mount in parallel to its older EF-M standard and without the option for cross-adaptation is interesting, and forecloses the option of a smooth-ish upgrade for existing EF-M customers.

This illustration, from Canon's white paper on the new RF mount, shows how similar the mount dimensions of the new mount are to the existing EF standard. The big difference is the much shorter flange-back. Canon's EF-M mount has a shorter flange-back distance and much narrower throat diameter, which means that EF-M lenses are not adaptable to RF. On the plus side, the larger throat and small flange-back distance of the RF mount allows for large rear lens elements, which can both help keep lenses smaller while reducing many optical aberrations.

Of course, Canon's EF-S lenses can't be mounted to full-frame EF DSLRs, either, but APS-C photographers have always been told that if they were really smart they could save up for EF lenses then upgrade seamlessly to a full-frame camera later. Canon's obvious lack of interest in developing new EF-S lenses over the past decade served as a strong hint, in fact, that the company really wanted its APS-C DSLR customers to do exactly that. Canon's mirrorless customers won't have the option. Will there ever be an APS-C RF or Z-mount camera? I'm not sure, but there's no obvious reason why either company couldn't create a line of APS-C format RF/Z mirrorless cameras in the future.

So what's next? Another prediction that I made back in spring - and a pretty safe one - is that new mirrorless cameras will be followed by new third-party lenses, for both the new mounts and for Sony's existing full-frame E-mount.

Tamron's upcoming 28-75mm F2.8 was the first third-party zoom lens designed natively for full-frame mirrorless cameras. It will not be the last.

With Photokina just around the corner, we're fully expecting new native E-mount Tamron and Sigma lenses, but it might be a while before either company catches up with the new Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts. Why? Because unlike Sony (but true to form) neither mount is 'open'. E-mount isn't open-source (you can't just download the complete specification from Github, for example), but Sony does provide information to certain third-parties like Sigma and Tamron for those manufacturers to use when developing native E-mount lenses.

In order for those third-party lens manufacturers to offer RF or Z-mount lenses, they'll have to reverse-engineer the standard. Anyone who remembers the bad old days of the 90s and early 2000s, where third-party lenses for (especially) Canon would routinely stop working when new camera bodies were released, might not be looking forward to this prospect...

But that's just speculation, not prediction. And its all in the future - for now, let us know what you think of the new Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts in the comments.

Read our complete Canon EOS R launch coverage

Read our complete Nikon Z6/7 launch coverage

Categories: Photo News

iPhone XS, XS Max and XR cameras: what you need to know

Sun, 09/16/2018 - 06:00
Introduction

On Wednesday Apple launched its new iPhone models for 2018, the XS, XS Max and XR. The two XS devices come with OLED HDR displays, that offer a 60% improvement in dynamic range compared to the iPhone X. On the iPhone XS the screen measures 5.8", on the Max variant it is 6.5". Both devices come with a dual-camera setup that combines a wide-angle main camera with a 2x tele module.

The iPhone XR is a more affordable model and has to make do with a 6.1" LCD display and a single-camera setup. The iPhone XS and XS Max will be available first, shipping September 21st in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations. The XS starts at $999; the XS Max starts at $1099. The iPhone XR will ship October 26th starting at $749 with 64GB, 128GB and 256GB configurations.

At first sight the new cameras aren't much different from last year's iPhone X but improvements have been made in terms of hardware, software and features. On the following pages we take a closer look.

Camera hardware

The iPhone XS and its larger sibling XS Max share the same dual-camera setup. On paper the specifications look pretty much identical to last year's iPhone X but there is an important change: the 12MP sensor in the wide-angle camera now comes with larger pixels (1.4 µm, up from 1.22 µm) for improved low light capabilities and dynamic range.

The F1.8 aperture on the 6-element wide-angle remains unchanged and the 12MP tele-module with F2.4 aperture is the same as before as well. The tele comes with six elements as well and both lenses are optically stabilized.

The most affordable of the new devices, the iPhone XR, comes with the same wide-angle camera as the XS and XS Max but has to make do without a tele-lens.

New Neural Engine and ISP

The new iPhone's A12 Bionic processor has been upgraded in several areas compared to its A11 Bionic predecessor. It comes with faster and more efficient processing cores and a more powerful GPU. More importantly, though, the 8-core Neural Engine is now more directly involved in image capture and processing and strongly linked with the image signal processor (ISP).

For example, the Neural Engine helps improve facial recognition and image segmentation. The latter helps distinguish the subject from the background and plays an important role in Apple's bokeh mode portrait images.

The processor's additional speed also allows for more image information to be captured and processed. This has enabled the Apple engineers to create the new Smart HDR feature, which they claim is faster and more accurate than the HDR mode of previous iPhone generations. The company says that the device is capable of performing one trillion operations on each image that is captured.

Bokeh-effect in Portrait mode

A background-blurring bokeh effect has been available in the iPhone's Portrait Mode for some time now. In the new models the feature has been refined, however, and now offers adjustment of depth-of-field for stills in the native camera app.

At launch, this will only work in post-processing after the photo has been taken, but a software update this fall will enable a real-time preview at the point of capture. You can set the aperture on a virtual slider on your screen from F1.4 to F16 and see the results instantly, allowing for easy optimization of that portrait look.

Thanks to the updated Neural Engine, Portrait mode is now also better at distinguishing subject and background. Advanced depth segmentation allows for a more realistic bokeh effect with fewer artifacts.

In the iPhones XS and XS Max the camera can also make use of the secondary tele lens to for subject segmentation. The iPhone XR has to make do with a single-camera setup but is still capable of generating a convincing portrait look.

On the XR the camera uses the sensor's focus pixels for parallax and then segmentation masking. Thanks to the device's processing power, the depth effect is still visible in real time but currently only works with faces.

Smart HDR

Smart HDR is another new camera feature made possible by the new iPhones' beefier processor and updated Neural Engine. Smart HDR is quite similar to Google's approach to HDR on its Pixel devices and continuously captures a four-frame buffer while the camera app is open. This means when the shutter is pressed the image is captured instantly, with zero shutter lag.

In addition, Smart HDR captures several interframes at different exposures and a long exposure for added shadow detail and intelligently combines all frames of the same scene. The system picks and blends the best parts of each frame in order to create the final image. This helps reduce ghosting artifacts on moving subjects and create a well-balanced HDR look with good detail in both highlight and shadow areas.

Video

The new model also come with improvements in the video department. As before, the new models can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second and 1080p Full-HD at up to 240fps, allowing for smooth slow-motion footage with good detail.

When limiting the frame rate to 30 fps, the camera can extend dynamic range which will be specifically noticeable on the HDR10 enabled displays of the XS and XS Max. Thanks to the larger sensor in the main camera and increased processing power, low light performance has been improved as well, with lower noise levels and brighter exposures in very low light. In addition all cameras come with an all-new video stabilization system.

Categories: Photo News

Blackmagic Design announces new Blackmagic RAW codec for video

Sat, 09/15/2018 - 05:00

Blackmagic Design has announced the public beta of its new Blackmagic RAW video codec. The company says the new format combines the benefits of shooting Raw video with the ease of use and smaller file sizes usually associated with compressed, gamma-encoded video files.

Raw video typically produces very large files and requires lots of processing power to edit when compared to compressed formats. Blackmagic says it has addressed this problem by moving part of the de-mosaic process into the camera, which is able to provide hardware-based acceleration. By performing this process in-camera, editing software like DaVinci Resolve won't need to work nearly as hard to decode the files.

Blackmagic RAW supports two types of compression: constant quality or constant bit rate, allowing users to prioritize image quality or file size based on what they're shooting. Images are encoded using a non-linear 12-bit space designed to provide both high quality color data and dynamic range. According to Blackmagic, its new Raw format will also provide more accurate skin tones and color thanks to its Generation 4 Color Science. (All of this processing does make us wonder whether these Raw files are completely comparable to the Raw files we're used to in the still imaging world.)

The Blackmagic RAW public beta can be downloaded immediately for use on the URSA Mini Pro camera.

The company says the new Raw format will also simplify media management by creating single files rather than directories of still images, as is the case with CinemaDNG. When files are edited in software like DaVinci Resolve a sidecar file will be created, similar to a Raw photo in Adobe Camera Raw.

Speaking of DaVinci Resolve, Blackmagic has just released version 15.1, which includes full support for Blackmagic RAW. For users of Blackmagic cameras, this means it will be possible to shoot, edit, and color grade using the same files through the entire workflow.

Blackmagic has released DaVinci Resolve 15.1, which fully supports its new Blackmagic RAW codec, and is available for download immediately.

For users of other software platforms, Blackmagic has announced a Blackmagic RAW Developer SDK that will allow third party developers to add support for the new format in other applications.

Users can download the public beta of Blackmagic RAW for use with the URSA Mini Pro through the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta update, with the final version shipping in several weeks once testing is complete. DaVinci Resolve 15.1 is available for download immediately from the Blackmagic website. If you happen to be attending IBC 2018 in Amsterdam, you can stop by the Blackmagic booth for a demonstration.

Press release:

Blackmagic Design Announces Advanced New Blackmagic RAW Codec

Revolutionary new and modern codec that’s easier to use and much better quality than popular video formats, but with all the benefits of RAW.

IBC 2018, Amsterdam, Netherlands - September 14, 2018 - Blackmagic Design today announced the public beta of Blackmagic RAW, a new and very modern codec that combines the quality and benefits of RAW with the ease of use, speed and file sizes of traditional video formats. Blackmagic RAW is a more intelligent format that gives customers stunning images, incredible performance, cross platform support and a free developer SDK.

The Blackmagic RAW public beta will be demonstrated on the Blackmagic Design IBC 2018 booth at #7.B45. Customers can download the public beta for use with URSA Mini Pro cameras via the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update. In addition, DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Update, which includes support for Blackmagic RAW, is also available free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.

Blackmagic RAW has been in development for years and is a next generation codec that features multiple new technologies such as an advanced de‑mosaic algorithm, extensive metadata support, highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing and more. It can be used from acquisition throughout post production for editing and color grading, all from a single file.

Traditional RAW codecs have large file sizes and are processor intensive, making them hard to work with. Video file formats are faster, but suffer quality problems due to the use of 4:2:2 video filters that reduce color resolution. Blackmagic RAW solves these problems with an intelligent design that moves part of the de-mosaic process into the camera where it can be hardware accelerated by the camera itself. This results in incredibly efficient encoding that gives customers the same quality, bit depth, dynamic range and controls as RAW, but with much better performance and smaller file sizes than most popular video codecs. Because the processor intensive partial de-mosaic is done by the camera hardware, software such as DaVinci Resolve doesn’t have to do as much work decoding the files. In addition, GPU and CPU acceleration make decoding of frames incredibly fast, so you get extremely smooth performance for editing and grading.

Blackmagic RAW is much more than a simple RAW container format. Its intelligent design actually understands the camera and the sensor. This means the image data, along with the unique characteristics of the image sensor, are encoded and saved into the Blackmagic RAW file, giving customers much better image quality, even at higher compression settings, as well as total control over features such as ISO, white balance, exposure, contrast, saturation and more.

In addition, Blackmagic RAW uses Blackmagic Design Generation 4 Color Science for superior imaging that results in reproducing extremely accurate skin tones and gorgeous, lifelike colors that rival those of cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Images are encoded using a custom non-linear 12-bit space designed to provide the maximum amount of color data and dynamic range.

Blackmagic RAW also makes it easy for any software developer to access all this technology. The free developer SDK lets any third party software application add Blackmagic RAW support on Mac, Windows and Linux. The Blackmagic RAW developer SDK automatically handles the embedded sensor profile metadata, along with Blackmagic Design color science, for predictable and accurate image rendering that yields consistent color throughout the entire pipeline.

Blackmagic RAW features two types of file compression. Customers can choose either constant quality or constant bitrate encoding options, depending on the kind of work they are doing. This lets them prioritize image quality or file size. Constant quality uses variable bitrate encoding so complex frames are encoded at higher data rates to preserve detail and maintain the highest possible quality. Blackmagic RAW Q0 has minimum quantization and yields the highest quality, while Blackmagic RAW Q5 uses moderate quantization for more efficient encoding and a smaller file size. Blackmagic RAW 3:1, 5:1, 8:1 and 12:1 use constant bitrate encoding to give customers the best possible images with predictable and consistent file sizes. The ratios are based on the unprocessed file size of a single frame from the camera’s sensor, making it easy to understand the relative amount of compression being used.

The pristine camera native quality of Blackmagic RAW Q0 and 3:1 are perfect for effects heavy feature film and commercial work. Blackmagic RAW Q5 and 5:1 are extremely high quality making them great for episodic television and independent films. Blackmagic RAW 8:1 and 12:1 offer high quality and speed, making it suitable for productions that wouldn’t normally consider shooting RAW. Now, more customers than ever will be able to use high quality RAW images in an incredibly efficient way that was impossible before.

“Blackmagic RAW could entirely change the workflow going from camera through post production,” said Kees Van Oostrum, Director of Photography and President of the American Society of Cinematographers. “A superb image quality, fine detail and incredibly small file sizes could possibly make Blackmagic RAW the go to format for filmmakers. It will be an important change for post because the editorial team can work with the camera original files, which are fast enough to use for everyday editing. That means less confusion in regards to creative choices I make at the camera. The images can now travel throughout the entire workflow because we’re shooting, editing and grading with the same files! Blackmagic RAW could be a game changer in the way films, television shows and commercials are made.”

Blackmagic RAW dramatically simplifies and speeds up post production workflows. DaVinci Resolve 15.1, which was also released today, includes full support for Blackmagic RAW. The performance of Blackmagic RAW is much faster in DaVinci Resolve than any other RAW format. This makes editing, color correction and visual effects incredibly fast. In addition, working with single files instead of folders full of still image sequences greatly simplifies media management. When the RAW settings are changed in DaVinci Resolve, a .sidecar file can be generated or updated if one already exists. When opened in other software applications that support Blackmagic RAW, the .sidecar file, which contains the RAW settings made in DaVinci Resolve, will be automatically used to display the image. If the .sidecar file is removed then the file will be displayed using the embedded metadata instead. This innovative new workflow gives customers a non-destructive way to change RAW settings while working between different applications.

Featuring a fully scalable design and completely modern CPU and GPU acceleration, Blackmagic RAW is optimized for AVX, AVX2 and SSE4.1 enabled processors, multi-threaded, works across multiple CPU cores and is GPU accelerated with support for Apple Metal, CUDA and OpenCL. Frame decoding and image processing is extremely fast, making it super smooth for editing, color correction and visual effects in DaVinci Resolve. Another benefit of media being stored as single files, and not image sequences, is it makes media management easier and file copying much faster.

The free Blackmagic RAW Developer SDK is available on Mac OS, Windows and Linux. This SDK takes care of all the work for developers, so adding support for Blackmagic RAW to third party software applications is easy and fast. Developers get access to GPU and CPU accelerated algorithms for decoding files, along with unique information about the camera’s image sensor so their applications can accurately decode and display the files. The SDK features highly descriptive and flexible metadata options designed to support today’s modern workflows. Metadata is embedded directly in the .braw file or it can be stored in a .sidecar file. Metadata is important because it contains the RAW settings along with information for the slate, iris, focus, focal length, white balance and a lot more. The metadata in .sidecar files can be used on top of the embedded metadata without overwriting it. Blackmagic RAW also supports frame based metadata so customers can access values, such as focus distance, that often change on a frame by frame basis.

“Blackmagic RAW is the world’s only truly modern, high performance, professional RAW codec that is open, cross platform and free,” said Grant Petty, Blackmagic Design CEO. “It’s exciting because customers can get the visually lossless image quality of RAW with the speed of traditional video workflows. Best of all, there are no hidden licenses or ongoing fees. Blackmagic RAW has been designed to provide the industry with an open, elegant and standardized high quality image format that can be used across products and in customer workflows absolutely free!”

Availability and Price

Blackmagic RAW is available today as a public beta via the Blackmagic Camera 6.0 Beta Update for URSA Mini Pro. The final release of Blackmagic RAW is expected to ship in several weeks’ time once further testing is complete.

The DaVinci Resolve 15.1 Update, which features support for Blackmagic RAW, has also been released and can be downloaded today free of charge from the Blackmagic Design website.

Categories: Photo News

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