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Updated: 21 min 27 sec ago

Gear of the Year 2017 - Allison's choice: Google's HDR+ mode

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 06:00

I was told. And I believed. But I didn't quite understand how good Google's Auto HDR+ mode is. After shooting with the Pixel 2 in some very challenging lighting conditions, I'm a believer.

Google's HDR+ mode is really, really good. And I'm prepared to defend it as my Gear of the Year.

Like I said, I was told. Our own Lars Rehm was impressed with Auto HDR+ in his Google Pixel XL review of last year. In his words: "the Pixel XL is capable of capturing decent smartphone image quality in its standard mode but the device really comes into its own when HDR+ is activated... The Pixel camera is capable of capturing usable images in light conditions that not too long ago some DSLRs would have struggled with."

So heading out with the Pixel 2 in hand, I knew that was a strong suit of the camera. I was looking forward to testing it on some challenging scenes. Things didn't look too promising though as the day started off pretty miserably.

The afternoon forecast looked better, but any Seattlite can tell you there are no guarantees in October. I figured I had a day of dull, flat lighting ahead of me that I'd have to get creative with. I was happily proved wrong.

The clouds started to thin out mid-afternoon. On a long walk from the bus toward Gas Works Park, I came across this row of colorful townhouses. The sun was behind them, and I snapped a photo that looked like a total loss as I composed it on the screen – the houses too dark and lost in the shadows. I didn't want to blow out the sky to get those details in the houses, so I just took what I figured was a dud of a photo and moved on. So what I saw on my computer screen later was a total surprise to me: a balanced, if somewhat dark exposure, capturing the houses and the sky behind them.

Am I going to print this one, frame it and put it on the wall? No. But I'm impressed that it's a usable photo, and it took no knowledge of exposure or post-processing to get it.

Gas Works used to be a 'gasification' plant owned by the Seattle Gas Light company and was converted into a park in the mid-70's. Some of the industrial structures remain, monuments to a distant past surrounded now by green parkland and frequented by young families with dogs and weed-vaping tech bros alike. On a sunny afternoon in October it was, both literally and figuratively, lit.

I was convinced my photos were not turning out, but I kept taking them anyway. It'll just be a deep shadows, blue sky kind of look, I thought. Little did I know that the Pixel 2 was outsmarting me every step of the way.

Back at my desk with the final photos in front of me, I was genuinely impressed by the Pixel 2. Did it do anything that I couldn't with a Raw file and about 30 seconds of post processing? Heck no. But the point is that this is the new normal for a lot of people who take pictures and have no interest in pulling shadows in Photoshop. They will point their cameras at high contrast scenes like these and come away with the photos they saw in their heads. If you ask me, it's just one more reason why smartphones will topple the mighty entry-level DSLR.

Apple's catching on too. HDR Auto is enabled by default in new iPhones and veteran photographer/iPhone user Jeff Carlson is also impressed by how the 8 Plus handles high contrast scenes.

While smartphone manufacturers have been increasingly implementing HDR as an always-on-by-default feature, they've also been making these modes smarter and the effect more aggressive. What previously took technical know-how, dedicated software, and multiple exposures is now happening with one click of a virtual shutter button, and it's going to keep getting better.

Categories: Photo News

Top 10 sample galleries of the year: #9 is the Fujifilm GFX 50S

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 04:00
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We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Images in each of these galleries have been viewed more than 1 million times – and it's no coincidence that the products featured are also some of our favorite pieces of gear released this year.

Sliding in at our #9 spot is the Fujifilm GFX 50S medium-format camera. We first got our paws on this digital beast while at the CP+ 2017 tradeshow in Japan (check out the other cool products we saw there). In fact, much of the above sample gallery was shot in the streets of both Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan. You can read all about that experience right here.

The GFX 50S is truly a fascinating camera – it represents Fujifilm's entrance into the digital medium format market, while maintaining the ethos of APS-C X-series cameras. Find out why we gave it a gold award in our review.

Top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017:

#10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
#9: Fujifilm GFX 50S
#8: To be revealed on 11/17
#7: To be revealed on 11/18
#6: To be revealed on 11/19
#5: To be revealed on 11/20
#4: To be revealed on 11/21
#3: To be revealed on 11/22
#2: To be revealed on 11/23
#1: To be revealed on 11/24

Categories: Photo News

Instagram testing feature the lets you follow hashtags

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 15:35

Instagram is making it easier for users to follow subjects they care about by introducing support for following hashtags. In its present form, Instagram only supports following accounts, but a new test some users have spotted extends this ability to individual hashtags, presenting the tagged content in the follower's feed.

The feature was first brought to light on Twitter, where social media consultant Pippa Akram posted this screenshot:

Ok this is new. What does this do @SimonSocialMM @BizPaul @NatalieTFG any ideas? I've followed 2 but can't find what that means!! pic.twitter.com/LlCBk4Wmfv

— Pippa Akram (@Social_Pip) November 9, 2017

In its current iteration, Instagram allows users to tag content with hashtags, such as #city or #landscape, and other users can search for content with those tags and see it in the search results. Adding the ability to follow hashtags directly would allow users to revisit their favorite hashtags again and again without having to search for them every time. A pretty useful feature, especially if you regularly visit Instagram for photography inspiration and ideas in your particular genre.

Unfortunately, for now, Instagram has kept quiet about this new feature, but if and when it rolls out to all users, we'll let you know.

Categories: Photo News

This Kickstarter wants to revive the Ihagee Elbaflex film camera in Nikon F-mount

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 14:51

Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence there remains, it seems, a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is what the manufacturer is calling a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex, which was the name for Exakta cameras sold in West Germany during the late sixties and early seventies. This remake, however, comes with a Nikon F mount.

The new model will have a fully mechanical shutter with speeds of 1/2sec to 1/500sec + B, and a single stroke wind-on crank. It will be fitted with a PC socket for flash, a hotshoe, and a flash sync speed of 1/60sec. The use of the Nikon mount obviously allows it to use old and modern lenses, though there’s no mention of the extent of the aperture coupling.

The camera doesn’t need batteries to operate as it has no built-in meter (the company says users can use an app on their phone instead), but there is an ISO dial around the rewind crank just in case.

The new camera is said to be the result of a collaboration between German and Ukrainian engineers, and the camera will be built in the Arsenal factory that made the Kiev cameras. The use of the Nikon lens mount is perhaps an echo of the Kiev 17 35mm film camera that also used the Nikon mount.

It’s hard to be certain what the new camera is actually based on as it uses a wooden grip and modern looking buttons and dials. The new manufacturers suggest it is an Exakta Varex llb, but it has none of the distinctive body styling, antique knobs or interchangeable pentaprism/wasitlevel finder—and the Varex llb was out of production by before the name change occurred in 1969.

The Elbaflex name was introduced to get around lawsuits by the original Ihagee owner to force the East German Ihagee East (as the company became known after the war) to pay him royalties for use of his brand. The use of the name Elbaflex is once again being used to avoid conflict with the current owners of the Exakta brand name.

The manufacturer expects the body to retail for $1500 when it ships in August 2018, but early backers can get it for $530. You can get the camera in a choice of four colors, and there's also a special deal that includes the Meyer Optik Trioplan 50mm or the Lydith 30mm.

For more information, visit the Ihagee Kickstarter campaign page.

Press Release

Kickstarter Launches for the Rebirth of the Ihagee Elbaflex 35mm Analog Camera

New Analog Camera Has a Nikon F Mount

(Dresden, Germany) The famous Ihagee camera brand is making a comeback, launching a Kickstarter campaign today for its first offering, the Elbaflex, a 35mm analog camera with a Nikon F mount, stylish wooden grip and a full two-year guarantee.

The Elbaflex has a simple, yet beautiful design that is aimed at the photography purist. Its designers say the fully-manual camera is intended to make a statement that the art of photography is about taking your time and making each frame meaningful.

Early Kickstarter backers can get the Elbaflex for pledges that start at $529, as well as bundles that will include either the Trioplan 50mm or Lydith 30mm, both of which are fully-manually and made by German lens manufacturer Meyer Optik.

The camera is expected to be shipped to Kickstarter backers in August 2018, though the first 100 cameras are expected to ship to early Kickstarter backers by July 2018. The Elbaflex, which will be handmade, is expected to have a retail price of $1,500 and be on the market in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The company takes its name from the German camera pioneer that in 1936 produced the famous Kine-Exakta, a camera which eventually became known as the Elbaflex in the 1970s.

The new Ihagee Elbaflex is a collaboration between a team of German and Ukrainian engineers. The German side includes former engineers and technicians who have many years of experience in the production of analog and digital cameras, as well as lenses, for Leica and Schneider Kreuznach. They will provide the engineering and design leadership, while the Ukrainian side, which includes former members of the famous Arsenal factory in Kiev, will oversee production.

Categories: Photo News

Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod attaches a printer to your smartphone

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:45

Motorola has officially announced its Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod, a small Polaroid instant printer that attaches directly to the back of the Moto Z smartphones.

The printer uses Polaroid's Zink ZERO-INK Paper to produce 2 x 3-inch prints, and has a physical button to launch the phone's camera. The printer also supports printing existing photos from Google Photos, Instagram, and Facebook.

Here's a closer look:

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The Insta-Share Moto Mod, which was recently leaked ahead of its debut, is a full-size camera backing with a classic Polaroid design... but it's actually a little bit more than just a printer. Users are able to add customizations to images before printing, including borders and filters, and the resulting prints have an adhesive backing for use as stickers.

The Moto Mod will be available from Verizon some time this week followed by other markets "in the coming months," according to Motorola. No word yet on pricing.

Categories: Photo News

Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens relaunched with 7 mount options

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 13:01

Mitakon has relaunched its Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens, now offering it in 7 mount options: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L (the listing says Leica T). This Mitakon lens features an F1.4 to F16 aperture alongside a clickless manual focusing ring, 1.6 meter minimum focusing distance, 11 elements in 5 groups (including three large extra-low dispersion elements), and a weight of 3kg / 6.6lbs.

Mitakon's lens caught popular attention a couple years back as the world's fastest 135mm lens. As with its original launch back in October 2015, the Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is priced at $3,000. The lens is currently listed for pre-order through the Shotenkobo Online Store with a reservation price of ¥60,000 / $530 USD.

Categories: Photo News

Kodak reveals how and when its bringing back 35mm Ektachrome film

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 12:53
Photo: Kodak

Kodak first announced the rebirth of Ektachrome way back in January at CES. Along with Kodak Alaris—who will distribute the 35mm Kodak Professional Ektachrome film for stills shooters—the company said it would bring back Ektachrome by the end of 2017... and then promptly stopped talking about it.

But if you were worried that Kodak had given up on the idea, fear not: in a new episode of the Kodakery podcast, a few of Kodak's higher ups (including Marketing and Product Manager Diane Carroll-Yacoby) updated the world on the progress of the Ektachrome reboot, how they're making it, and what testing still stand between your hands and a fresh 36-shot roll of the stuff.

You can listen to the entire Kodakery podcast update below:

The first half of the podcast is mostly a photography and history lesson: discussing the origins of Ektachrome, its 'characteristics' (read: limitations), and how Kodak has managed to bring it back to life after discontinuing it in 2013. But if you want to get into the "how and when" of the matter, you'll want to skip to the 22 minute mark.

That's where we get to learn about how difficult it is to bring back a film like Ektachrome—which is made up of 80 ingredients, some of them no longer available to purchase—and how Kodak is making the economics of Ektachrome work by creating it in smaller, more sustainable batches.

You'll want to listen to the discussion to really get the details of how the film is made, but here are a few of the most interesting tidbits about the revival process (for us anyway):

  • Kodak has managed to either find or manufacture all 80 ingredients required to make Ektachrome.
  • Much of the process so far has involved retooling the formula so it will work on the machines available to them, because they no longer have all of the equipment they had when Ektachrome was being developed previously.
  • They've already produced some 'pilot coatings' that they are testing to ensure they're ready to mass produce Ektachrome that's up to snuff.
  • When they're ready to go, they will be making rolls using a coater that produces the film on sheets that are 4 feet wide and 6,000 feet long. The first of these 'wide' rolls will be produced before the end of 2017, and will be used for internal testing.
  • Kodak will be making a single (4ft x 6,000ft) roll for the first production run, so they don't have to hold on to too much inventory at one time.
  • Kodak Ektachrome's market release is planned for 2018.

Eastman Kodak itself will produce all of the film and plans to distribute the Super 8 cinema version of Ektachrome, while Kodak Alaris will distribute the 35mm slide film for stills shooters. For now, we still don't know exactly when Ektachrome is coming back in 2018, but as soon as we do, we'll let you know so you can mark your calendars.

Categories: Photo News

Gates unveils underwater housing for RED cinema cameras, will probably cost around $15K

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 11:21

You’d have to be pretty brave to immerse your $50K RED cinema camera beneath the waves—or very sure of the quality of your underwater housing. Fortunately, underwater specialist Gates has been making housings for cinema cameras since 1969, and they just released their newest (not their first...) housing for RED cameras last week.

The new Pro Explore from Gates Underwater Products is designed for Red’s DSMC2 series of bodies, and thus will look after and allow access to the controls of the Weapon, Epic-W, Scarlet-W and Red Raven cameras.

The company hasn’t released any detailed spec yet, but claims the new housing is lightweight and easy to transport and that small PL lenses and DSLR lenses can fit within its domed ports. There’s a rear door for quick access to memory and the battery, and 14 assignable buttons to control the camera’s features.

Gates says the Pro Explore will come with a housing for an external monitor as well as tool kits, spare parts and cables.

The Gates Pro Explore will go on sale in the next month or so, but the price has yet to be announced. I can’t imagine it will be cheap. The Pro Action housing, which can go to 200ft, costs around $15,000.

For more information, visit the Gates website.

Press Release



Cinema to commercial, Natural History to enthusiast, Pro Explore delivers comprehensive features for the traveling underwater professional.

Gates Underwater Products – manufacturer of the world’s most reliable underwater housings – today announces the Pro Explore Underwater Housing. A dedicated, purpose built motion imaging acquisition tool for the RED DSMC2 platform, Pro Explore breaks barriers in underwater high resolution 8K imaging in a compact, travel-friendly rig.

Pro Explore Key Features include:

  • Expedition ready, Pro Explore packs tight and travels light.
  • Latched rear shell for fast media / battery change;
  • Full Camera and Lens management via housing controls and REDMOTE Controller
  • Tailored design for the RED DSMC2 for the finest user experience, including 14 assignable buttons to access *anything* on the camera;
  • Compact PL and all DSLR lenses readily supported;
  • Diverse V-Lock battery support including REDBRICK, Blueshape, and the popular travel friendly SWIT 8192-S 192 WHr split battery;
  • 60 and 80 series port compatibility;
  • Stackable Port Rings (SPR’s) cover a wide range of lenses with one base set;
  • Surface SDI and Gig-E options for topside DP viewing or AC camera control;
  • Surface, close-range wireless connectivity with foolcontrol;

“While Pro Action is perfect for high intensity, fast action situations, I needed a dedicated rig for my type of shooting on Helium 8K. Pro Explore is it. Control, flexibility, size. And a Gates…of course.”

Like all Gates professional systems, you get the works. Pro Explore housing price includes numerous items like RT47 External Monitor housing (with shade extension), Seal Check Lite, woven carry lanyard, tether points, spare kit, tool kit, interface cables, and more. Port and SPR’s are ordered a la carte to fit your lens(es) of choice and application.

Pro Explore is well considered for accessories, like:

  • GT14 underwater lights. 14,000 lumens, 90 CRI and 5000K color temperature;
  • Light bar offering a variety of light mounting options using the Ultralight Control System;
  • Support for Gates RT7 and RP5 External monitor housings;
  • Cheeseplates for mounting to poles, booms or your own rigging;

“Gates is part of my production team. I count on Gates to be there when needed. Tech support, parts, whatever – response is fast and experienced.”

Pro Explore is a Gates through and through. Durable, reliable, ‘bulletproof’. And backed by Gates legendary factory direct service and 2 year renewable warranty. Only Gates offers this level of commitment to your success.

Price: To be announced
Availability: Q4 2017

Categories: Photo News

Adobe's Lightroom Downloader lets you rescue your image library from the cloud

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 11:01

Adobe has released Lightroom Downloader app, an application that pulls original image and video files from the cloud and stores them locally in a folder.

The Lightroom Downloader app is available for both Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra, and requires users to log in with their Lightroom account. Once the login is complete, users are prompted to choose a hard drive location to which the cloud content will be downloaded.

As Adobe explains on its help site, Lightroom Downloader pulls all of the cloud video and image files and parks them in a date-based folder in a user-specific hard drive location. Any edits made to these original, raw files will be written into XMP sidecar files alongside the raw files.

In instances where only a Smart Preview is cloud synced, Adobe says its app will download the DNG Smart Previews for those photos.

Categories: Photo News

YI 360 VR camera can livestream in 4K, supports Vive and Rift headsets

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 10:41

Chinese company YI has introduced a new consumer camera called the YI 360 VR. This model features a pair of cameras with 220-degree f/2.0 aspheric glass lenses, one on the front and another on the back, that simultaneously record footage. The resulting videos have up to a 4K/30fps resolution if stitched in-camera, while footage stitched using the camera's PC app maxes out at 5.7K/30fps resolution.

The YI 360 VR is compatible with both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets. The camera supports recording 4K video for up to 60 minutes per charge, and you've got integrated dual-band WiFi for livestreaming in 4K.

Users are able to preview the footage in five modes: little planet, stretched view, panoramic, round, and dual VR. Here's a quick introduction that gives you an idea of the kinds of shots you can expect from the YI 360 VR:

YI is offering its 360 VR camera through Microsoft's website and its physical Microsoft Store US locations for $400 USD. Live demonstrations of the camera are offered in stores as well.

Press Release

YI Technology’s High Quality, Live 360 VR Camera Now Available at Microsoft Stores for $399

The pocket-sized camera is the first to shoot 360 degree video in 5.7K at 30fps, with instant in-device stitching for 4K footage and live-streaming.

SEATTLE, November 13, 2017YI Technology (YI), the leading provider of advanced, intelligent imaging technologies, announced availability today of its unique YI 360 VR camera (“YI 360”) at Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and Microsoft.com. The YI 360 makes high-end virtual reality video easy and accessible to anyone who wants to create and share content.

With a simple, handheld and mountable camera design, the YI 360 VR is the first VR camera to combine high-fidelity, 360-degree video capture, an easy mobile application along with 4K instant, in-device stitching and 4K live-streaming to any sharing channel. With these innovations, the YI 360 VR™ provides a complete solution for creating immersive, 360-degree video experiences easily, quickly and anywhere.

“At YI Technology, we challenge ourselves to bring the most innovative technologies together in a way that is simple, enjoyable and useful for anyone, from kids to professionals. VR is no exception,” said Sean Da, CEO of YI Technology. “Today’s solutions for 360 capture and sharing force users to choose between an affordable low quality, low resolution product and an overly expensive, highly complicated product. That is why we worked so hard to perfect YI 360 VR. By combining the best components, rigorous industrial design and many years of testing, we eliminated the cables, confusing interfaces and bulky components and added 5.7K fidelity, 4K in-device stitching and 4K live-streaming, all in a handy, affordable package.”

Already known for its YI 4K+ Action Camera, the YI M1 Mirrorless Digital Camera and the YI HALO professional 3D camera, YI’s launch of the YI 360 VR Camera offers users a consumer-grade, affordable yet professional quality option for capturing and sharing 360 degree footage.

Vivid, Easy, Live - Key YI 360 VR Features:

  • Two 220-degree 8 aspheric glass lenses with f/2.0 aperture
  • In-camera video stitching for up to 4K/30fps
  • PC application for 5.7K/30fps video stitching
  • Built-in 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi for live-streaming in 4K
  • Five video preview options within the app including stretched view, little planet, round, panoramic and dual VR view
  • Up to 60 minutes battery life recording at 4K/30fps
  • Compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets

Pricing & Availability

At $399, YI 360 VR™ is now available for purchase at Microsoft Store locations in the U.S. and Microsoft.com. Go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/d/YI-360-VR-Camera/8ZG9K9SM5BSZ now to purchase or to find a store near you to see a live demonstration YI 360’s vivid capture and live sharing for yourself.

Categories: Photo News

DJI Spark Review: Small but mighty

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 06:00

The DJI spark is a diminutive drone that just screams to be put in your bag and taken everywhere you go. It's likely to appeal to all levels of users thanks to its extremely compact size and strong feature set, but this miniaturization does come at a cost. Compared to most larger models it has shorter battery life, lacks a 3-axis gimbal and, notably, does not support 4K video capture. But, did we mention that it's really small?

With an MSRP of $499, the Spark doesn't have a lot of direct competition from models of comparable size and feature sets, though the closest alternative is probably the Yuneec Breeze 4K. If size isn't a critical factor there are models with more impressive specs, such as DJI's own Phantom 3 Standard and Phantom 3 SE, in the same price range.

The Spark is also available in a 'Fly More' combo that adds a remote controller, charging hub, spare props, propeller guards, and extra battery for $699.

Key Features
  • 12MP 1/2.3" CMOS sensor
  • 2-axis mechanical gimbal
  • 1080/30p video
  • Vision system for accurate positioning
  • Gesture control
  • 16-minute flight time
  • Compact size

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's qualify this review (and really, any drone review). A drone is not a flying camera. Rather, a drone is an aircraft with a camera attached to it. Therefore, the true value of a drone is a balance between the aircraft and camera.

Since we're looking at two distinct pieces of hardware merged together, let's look at each one individually, beginning with the aircraft. We've included the Yuneec Breeze and DJI Phantom 3 SE for comparison.

DJI Spark Yuneec Breeze 4K DJI Phantom 3 SE Take-off weight 300g 385g 1236g Dimensions 143x143x55mm 196x196x65mm 247x247x193mm Maximum flight time 16 minutes 12 minutes 25 minutes Maximum speed

50km/h (31mph) [with controller]

18km/h (11mph) 58km/h (36mph) Obstacle avoidance Yes Yes No Maximum operating range

100m [2km with controller]

100m 4km Controller


Optional Yes Price $499 $399 $599

The thing that's obvious right away is how much smaller the Spark and Breeze are compared to a full-sized Phantom, though the Phantom will stay in the air quite a bit longer. The Spark has some notable advantages over the Breeze, including a much higher maximum speed (when used with the optional controller) and a mechanical gimbal. Both have a limited operating range of 100m, but if you pair the Spark with the optional controller the range extends significantly. Chances are good you'll want the controller.

Now let's take a look at the camera and gimbal.

DJI Spark Yuneec Breeze DJI Phantom 3 SE Sensor size 1/2.3" CMOS 1/3.06" CMOS 1/2.3" CMOS Resolution 12MP 13MP 12MP Lens (equiv.) 25mm F2.6 Not specified 20mm F2.8 Lens FOV 81.9º 117º 94º Max photo resolution 3968x2976 4160x3120 4000x3000 Image formats Jpeg Jpeg Jpeg, Raw Max video resolution 1080/30p UHD 4K/30p

DCI 4K/24p/25p

UHD 4K/30p

Bit rate 24 Mbps (H.264) Not specified 60 Mbps (H.264) Gimbal type 2-axis mechanical None 3-axis mechanical

The cameras in all three models are similar in size to the ones found in many smartphones. They're not going to be low light champs, but they're still capable of producing good photos and video. What really jumps out here is the Spark's lack of a 4K video option. Of course, HD is usually fine for web streaming, which we suspect will be a pretty common use case for this model.

What's all this mean? The Spark is an extremely small, lightweight drone that seems perfect for throwing into a backpack, tossing into carry-on luggage, or just having with you all the time.

OK – let's talk about what it's like to actually fly this tiny beast.

Categories: Photo News

Top 10 sample galleries of the year: #10, the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 04:00
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Between now and the end of the year we'll be counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Images in each of these galleries have been viewed more than 1 million times – that's a lot of eyeballs! And it's no coincidence that the products featured are also some of our favorite pieces of gear released this year.

First up is the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art lens – one of only two lenses to make our top 10 list. It's not only super sharp, but boasts the widest aperture of any 14mm on the market. Plus, we found its ability to isolate subjects in a wide field of view to be particularly cool/unique. It's also capable of producing gorgeous sun stars.

So take a peek at our gallery to see what this gem of a lens is capable of. And sit tight for our #9 most popular sample gallery of the year.

For more on the Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art, check out our astrophotography gallery as well:

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#10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
#9: To be revealed on 11/16
#8: To be revealed on 11/17
#7: To be revealed on 11/18
#6: To be revealed on 11/19
#5: To be revealed on 11/20
#4: To be revealed on 11/21
#3: To be revealed on 11/22
#2: To be revealed on 11/23
#1: To be revealed on 11/24

Categories: Photo News

DxOMark republishes Pentax 645Z results and it's as good as we always suspected

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 12:03

In a move likely to completely silence all whispers of chicanery, DxOMark has finally published its results for Ricoh's Pentax 645Z. The camera just misses out on being hailed as the best stills camera sensor ever (as it would have been, when data was first published for the camera back in 2015), but it still scores a very impressive 101 points.

And, as we know, points mean... Er...

Several years after its release, the 645Z still holds its own in the company of some excellent cameras built around similar sensors.

The results themselves are very similar to those of the Hasselblad X1D 50c, which itself is based around a very similar Sony CMOS sensor (albeit for at least $3000 more). How much of the difference can be ascribed to better readout circuitry, how much to the Hasselblad's use of 15-bit Raw files (I mean, that extra 0.1EV of DR has to live somewhere), and how much is simply within the tests' margin of error it's impossible to know.

Still, we can now be certain that, while not quite the best sensor in the world, is 99% as good as the best sensor DxO has tested.

In all seriousness, though, whatever the reason for the delay, it's a seriously impressive performance from a very aggressively-priced camera. And, since we have first-hand knowledge of how difficult it is to get a 645Z for long enough to do extensive testing on, we think it's great to see its performance recognized.

Click here to read DxOMark's assessment

Press Release:

Pentax 645Z: A great choice for medium-format shooters

PARIS - November 14, 2017 - DxOMark has just published the results of its in-depth analysis of the Pentax 645Z medium-format camera. With an overall DxOMark sensor score of 101 points, the Pentax 645Z has the second-highest-scoring sensor we’ve ever tested, beaten only by the 51.4Mp Sony sensor in the Hasselblad X1D-50c. The 645Z achieves extremely good sub-scores, indicating that it can capture a huge range of colors and tones in a single file.

It’s clear from our testing that the Pentax 645Z’s sensor is extremely capable, coming within a whisper of matching the performance of the Hasselblad X1D sensor. Its high dynamic range and color sensitivity make the 645Z ideally suited for capturing the types of scenes that are traditionally favored by medium-format photographers — landscapes, weddings, portraits, and other photographic genres that require capturing images with lots of detail, low noise, and smooth tonal gradations.

In addition, the Pentax 645Z controls noise well, making it suitable for use in relatively low light, and perhaps expanding the range of conditions in which medium-format cameras are traditionally used.

Categories: Photo News

Camera battery explosion causes chaos at Orlando International Airport

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 07:35
Photo by Ashim D’Silva

An exploding lithium-ion camera battery caused a panic at the Orlando International Airport on Friday, resulting in 24 flight cancellations as well as temporary chaos as a terminal was evacuated. Witnesses say the exploding battery made a sound similar to a gunshot, prompting people to flee the area.

Though frightening, the situation proved mostly harmless as officials discovered the source of the sound: a camera battery that had exploded inside of a traveler's bag, which began smoking as a result. Orlando Police have since posted tweets advising the public that no shots were fired in the airport, but instead that "a lithium battery in a camera exploded in a bag ... the bag was smoldering." No one was hurt in the incident.

UPDATE: Again, NO shots were fired at MCO. A lithium battery in a camera exploded in a bag; that was the noise people heard. The bag was smoldering; no one hurt. Thank you for helping us get the word out.

— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) November 10, 2017

The incident follows a recent recommendation by the FAA that airlines ban passengers from checking devices with lithium-ion batteries in bags due to their volatility and the fire risk they pose, instead suggesting they pack them in their carry-on luggage.

Categories: Photo News

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV review

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 06:46

The Sony DSC-RX10 IV is premium superzoom bridge-camera (DSLR-like form factor) with a 24-600mm F2.4-4 equivalent zoom lens and a 20MP 1"-type stacked BSI-CMOS sensor: the same used by the Sony RX100 V. This new sensor brings phase detect autofocus to the RX10 series for the first time, adding the depth-awareness that is important for focusing long lenses. The camera is also faster than its predecessor and can shoot at 24 fps with AF and auto exposure (compared to 5 fps).

The processor is borrowed from the flagship Sony a9, which should mean excellent subject tracking. In short, this camera packs speed, AF ability and lens reach into a convenient package, not to mention 4K video. So is it the most capable all-in-one camera on the market? Read on...

Key specs:
  • 20MP 1"-type stacked BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 24-600mm equivalent F2.4-4 stabilized zoom lens
  • 24 fps burst shooting in JPEG + Raw, with full AF and AE
  • 315-point phase-detection autofocus system covers 65% of frame
  • Detailed 4K video capture with well-controlled rolling shutter
  • High frame rate video capture
  • Touchscreen
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Updated menus

We feel like this camera will appeal to a variety of users including those seeking an all-in-one camera with serious reach for casual shooting, travel or vacationing. But advanced videographers may also find this camera tempting thanks to a laundry list of video features and good quality UHD capture.

Key features compared

The body is almost identical to that of its predecessor, using the same outstanding lens. However the RX10 IV offers a touchscreen that can be used as a touchpad for placing AF points with your eye to the finder or for selecting a point of focus in still or video mode. There are a few other minor differences between the two cameras as well:

Sony RX10 IV Sony RX10 III Sony RX10 II Panasonic FZ1000 Panasonic
FZ2500 MSRP $1699 $1499 $1199 $899 $1199 Sensor 20MP 1"-type stacked CMOS sensor 20MP 1"-type stacked CMOS 20MP 1"-type stacked CMOS 20MP 1"-type BSI-CMOS 20MP 1"-type BSI-CMOS ISO range (native) 100-12800 100-12800 100-12800 125-12800 125-12800 Lens (35mm equivalent) 24-600mm F2.4-4 24-600mm F2.4-4 24-200mm F2.8 25-400mm F2.8-4 24-480mm F2.8-4.5 Built-in ND filter No No Yes No Yes AF system Phase detect Contrast detect Contrast detect Contrast detect Contrast detect AF points 315-point 25-pt 25-pt 49-pt 49-pt Fastest shutter speed

1/32,000 sec
(e-shutter), 1/2000 (mechanical)

1/32,000 sec
1/2000 (mechanical)

1/32000 sec
1/2000 (mechanical)

1/16000 sec
(e-shutter), 1/4000 (mechanical)

1/16000 sec
(e-shutter), 1/4000 (mechanical)

EVF resolution 2.36m-dot 2.36m-dot 2.36m-dot 2.36m-dot 2.36m-dot LCD 3" 1.44M-dot tilting 3" 1.23M-dot tilting 3" 1.23M-dot tilting 3" 921k-dot fully articulated 3" 1.04M-dot fully articulating Touscreen Yes No No No Yes Burst rate 24 fps 14 fps 14 fps 12 fps 12 fps Video 4K/30p 4K/30p 4K/30p 4K/30p 4K/30p High-speed video Up to 960 fps @ 800 x 270

Up to 960 fps @ 800 x 270 Up to 960 fps @ 800 x 270 120 fps @ 1920 x 1080 120 fps @ 1920 x 1080 Wi-Fi Yes, with NFC and Bluetooth Yes, with NFC Yes, with NFC Yes Yes Battery life (CIPA) 400 shots 420 shots 400 shots 360 shots 350 shots Weather sealing Yes Yes Yes No No Dimensions 133 x 94 x 145mm 133 x 94 x 127mm 129 x 88 x 102mm 137 x 99 x 131mm 138 x 102 x 135 mm Weight 1095 g 1051 g 813 g 831 g 915 g

As you can see, the RX10 IV stacks up nicely next to its siblings and direct competitors. For someone primarily concerned with stills, the RX10 IV seems like the obvious choice, especially if you plan on shooting action: it's got the fastest burst rate of the bunch and is the only camera in its class with phase detection.

But for videographers, the FZ2500 with its fully-articulating touchscreen, built-in variable ND filter and similar zoom range might make it the more sensible choice, especially given its lower price point (though we found its lens performance inferior to its Sony counterparts). You don't get the cool, super-high-speed frame rate options offered by the Sony cameras, but 1080/120p is not too shabby.


The RX10 IV is available now for an MSRP of $1699.

Categories: Photo News

Google explains the Pixel 2 hybrid video stabilization

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 06:32

Most smartphone cameras, even those with optical image stabilization systems, rely on electronic stabilization only for stabilizing video footage. Google's new Pixel 2 devices however are managing to combine both optical and electronic stabilization for ultra-smooth handheld footage and panning.

A new post on the Google Research Blog now explains in quite some detail how the system is working. As you would expect from a software company like Google, advanced algorithms making use of the company's expertise in the area of machine learning are the key to the solution.

Motion information is collected from the optical stabilizer and the device's built-in gyroscope. In a next step the Pixel 2 devices then use a filtering algorithm that pushes video frames into a deferred queue, analyzes them and uses machine learning to predict where and how the camera is going to move next.

The system can correct for more types of motion than conventional stabilization systems, including wobbling, rolling shutter and even focus hunting. Virtual motion is used to correct for strong variation in sharpness when the device is moved very quickly.

The system might still have scope for improvement but with a video score of 96, including a very high sub-score of 93 for stabilization, the Pixel 2 is already performing very well in the DxOMark Mobile ranking and makes us look forward to future generations of Google's AI-powered hybrid stabilization system. For more detail read the original article on the Google Research Blog.

Categories: Photo News

Ten Nikon D5 DSLRs will arrive at the International Space Station tomorrow

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 13:39

Back in August, NASA's love affair with Nikon cameras made the news when the space agency ordered 53 unmodified Nikon D5 DSLRs that it would use on the International Space Station and for 'training purposes' here on Earth. Ten of those D5 cameras are scheduled to make it to the ISS this week.

Packed aboard the Orbital ATK OA-8 Space Station Cargo Resupply Mission that took off this Sunday at 7:19am Eastern time, the camera are scheduled to arrive at the ISS tomorrow morning around 4:50am (you can actually watch live coverage of the rendezvous on NASA TV starting at 3:15am).

Nikon tells us that NASA is "reusing Nikon lenses and accessories previously launch with the Nikon D4 and D2Xs cameras," and planning to keep the D5 cameras in circulation for 12-18 months. With any luck, the astronauts aboard the space station will use them to capture more images like these:

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NASA's relationship with Nikon began in 1971, when the Nikon Photomic FTN (a modified Nikon F) went to the moon with the astronauts of Apollo 15. Fast forward to 2008, and NASA ordered its first digital cameras for use in space, a set of six Nikon D2XS DSLRs, followed by an order for 11 Nikon D3S cameras in 2009, 38 Nikon D4 DSLRs in 2013, and another 10 D4s in 2016.

The only question now, I suppose, is when is the Space Agency going to replace its glass? NASA's latest order of Nikon glass was placed in 2013, when 64 NIKKOR lenses were delivered to the space agency. If astronaut photographers are anything like us Earth-bound folk, that means they've been drooling over 'better' lenses than they currently have since about... three days after they got those lenses.

Categories: Photo News

Kodak will lay off 425 employees after reporting millions in losses

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:22

Kodak recently disclosed its third quarter fiscal results, revealing that it had a GAAP net loss of $46 million on $379 million in revenues during its Q3 2017. This marks a sharp downturn of fortunes for Kodak, which saw $12 million in net earnings during the same quarter last year. "An overall print market slowdown and rising aluminum costs have impacted our commercial print business," explained Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke in a release.

Clarke went on to explain that Kodak is, "taking immediate actions to accelerate cost reduction and reduce investments to sharpen our focus as we continue to actively pursue changes to the Kodak product and divisional portfolio." According to New York Upstate, "accelerate cost reduction" translates to the Eastman Kodak Company cutting 425 jobs.

The quarter had its upsides for Kodak, however, which reports that its Kodak Sonora Plates saw a 24% growth in Q3 and its Flexcel NX revenue grew 2% year-on-year. Overall, Kodak's CFO David Bullwinkle said the company anticipates generating cash during Q4 2017. "We plan to improve our cash balance through reducing working capital and through cost actions," Bullwinkle explained, "including focusing investments in technologies most likely to deliver near-term returns."

Categories: Photo News

Stunning 'orbital drone-lapse' captured by flying a drone in huge circles

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 11:00

It's difficult to stand out when creating a time-lapse these days—from the storm-lapses of Mike Oblinski, to the 'flow-motion' hyperlapses of Rob Whitworth, to the award-winning work of Michael Shainblum, it seems like it's all been done. Until, that is, someone comes up with something like 'Low Earth Orbit.'

This drone-lapse from Folegandros Island, Greece was captured by Hong Kong-based production company Visual Suspect using a simple 'orbital' technique; translation: they flew a drone in massive circles while recording time-lapse.

The results look like something out of Google Earth, but instead of static low-res images from orbit, you have living landscapes captured in HD. Here's an explanation of the "how" and "why" by the creators themselves:

Orbital drone movements are the ones with power to convert two dimensional images into dancing focal layers escaping out of the frame. We wanted to further explore the technique, with high altitude long orbits, along with ones very close to the ground, we call them "Orbital drone-lapses". These shots are a mix of automatic and manual flights.

Categories: Photo News

Professional photographers explain why they shoot Panasonic Lumix

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 06:13

Being a professional photographer used to mean carrying around heavy SLRs and medium-format camera, tripods and cumbersome accessories. As cameras have evolved to become smaller and smaller, those days are over.

Panasonic was a pioneer in the mirrorless camera market, and over the past decade its G and GH-series cameras have been adopted by a wide range of photographers, including professionals in various different fields. In a new video by filmmaker Griffon Hammond, professional photographers Daniel J. Cox, Ben Grunow, William Innes and Jennifer Maring explain why they choose to shoot with Panasonic Lumix cameras.

Panasonic's latest G-series camera is the impressive flagship Lumix DC G9, which features a suite of powerful features including high frame-rate stills shooting and 4K video.

Read more about the G9 here

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Categories: Photo News