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Updated: 12 min 39 sec ago

First iPhone X hands-on field test with sample photos

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 07:30

iPhone X pre-orders only just started, but our friend Chase Jarvis of CreativeLive somehow got his hands on one of the very first smartphones out in the wild. Naturally, he took this amazing opportunity to run around New York City like a maniac and create the first hands-on field test of the iPhone X!

We spoke to Chase in New York before any of this went public, and he was kind enough to share some sample photos and his just-published video with us first.

Keep in mind that this video and the photos below (more on the CreativeLive blog) are not for pixel peeping or deep technical dives. We'll be getting our own review unit and you can be sure we'll test that stuff with the same technical fervor you've come to expect from DPReview. Instead, what Chase wanted to do was share his first impressions and a few snapshots after using the device for just a couple of hours.

The good news? Those impressions were extremely positive. No device is perfect, but Chase writes time and again that the iPhone X "felt like the future."

The point is simple. Just like the first iPhone helped us see the future we couldn’t quite put into words, so does the X. It’s more than just an incremental upgrade from the previous versions. With the iPhone X you can feel the future again in the smartphone.

Check out a few sample photos from Chase below, and then head over to the CreativeLive blog for more of his thoughts on the phone and a few more photos.

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Categories: Photo News

Sony a7R III dynamic range improved, nearly matches chart-topping Nikon D850

Tue, 10/31/2017 - 07:00

Sony has claimed 15 EV dynamic range from its newest ILC iteration: the a7R III. Is it true, or is it like Sony's odd claim that the a7S had 15 EV dynamic range? Turns out: Sony has some strong footing in its claim here.

The Sony a7R III retains its dynamic range even in bursts. That's a big deal for a Sony ILC

At the launch event in NYC, we were able to gather enough data to measure the 'engineering dynamic range' of the a7R III.* And boy is it impressive. Possibly even more important: for the first time the a7R III retains this dynamic range even in continuous drive. That's a big deal for sports and action photographers. But how true is Sony's claim?

The Sony a7R II already had impressive Raw dynamic range, with the ability to expose short enough to keep highlights from blowing, but with low enough sensor noise to lift shadows without too much noise. The a7R III improves on this.

Oh and think this image is too dark? Wait till you view it on a HDR display, which is another can of worms altogether the stills industry should be discussing.

Photo: Rishi Sanyal

Sony has found a way to reduce shadow (or 'read') noise in its files such that the final output has higher dynamic range, and cleaner shadows if you need them, than files from its predecessor. To summarize it in a number at base ISO: 13.6 EV at the pixel, or for a 42.4MP file. Or 14.8 EV if you like to compare to DXO numbers (and only generate 8MP images from your 42.4MP camera). Either way, that's a nearly half-stop improvement over its predecessor. See our table below, which also compares the a7R III to the full-frame chart-topping Nikon D850, ranking based on highest performer:

Pixel Dynamic Range 8MP 'Print' Dynamic Range Nikon D850 (ISO 64) 13.78

15.03

Sony a7R III 13.63

14.84

Nikon D850 (ISO 100)

13.27 14.53 Sony a7R II 13.21 14.41

While the Nikon D850 is the top performer here, its important to note that this is only the case if you can give the D850 the extra ~2/3 EV light it needs at ISO 64 (which you often can if you're shooting bright light or a landscape photographer on a tripod). At ISO 100, the a7R III dynamic range actually exceeds that of the D850, thanks to incredibly low read noise. That's impressive for a camera constantly running its sensor in live view.

At ISO 100, the a7R III dynamic range actually exceeds that of the D850... impressive for a camera constantly running in live view

Keep in mind, though, that if you can give the D850 the extra exposure to take advantage of its ISO 64 dynamic range, all tones in your image benefit from the higher signal:noise ratio—even midtones and brighter tones will be more amenable to post-processing and sharpening thanks to being more 'clean' and less noisy to begin with. The D850 is able to tolerate as much total exposure as the medium format Fujifilm GFX 50S, as we showed here. That's what allows one to get unbelievably crisp, 'medium format-like' like files from a Nikon D810 (just zoom in to 100% on that shot and tell me you're not impressed).

But the Sony a7R III gets you nearly there. While in some circumstances the Nikon D810/D850, or medium format, may afford you slightly cleaner more malleable files, the a7R III takes a significant step at closing the gap. And that's nothing short of impressive for a mirrorless ILC constantly running its sensor for a live feed (and all its benefits).

As for Sony's marketing, it sounds like the claim of 15 EV is believable, but only technically if you consider how your images look when shrunk to 8MP files. To be fair, there's some benefit to comparing dynamic range figures after resizing camera outputs to 8MP, since it's a common basis for comparison that doesn't penalize cameras for having higher resolution (and therefore smaller pixels).

In depth vs. a7R II

Let's take a deeper dive. Here are our 'engineering' dynamic range measurements of the a7R III vs. the a7R II. 'Engineering' dynamic range means we are measuring the range of tones recorded between clipping and when the shadows reach an unacceptable noise threshold where signal is indistinguishable from noise (or when signal:noise ratio = 1). Have a look (blue: a7R III | red: a7R II):

The a7R III shows a 0.42 EV, or nearly a half a stop, improvement in base ISO dynamic range over the a7R II. That's not insignificant: it will be visible in the deepest shadows of base ISO shots of high contrast scenes. How did Sony do this given the already low levels of read noise its known for? Possibly by going to better or higher native bit-depth ADCs, something Bill Claff had suggested based on our largely 12-bit findings of the Sony a9's output. But let's save that for the PST forums.

Suffice it to say the a7R III improves on low ISO dynamic range, without sacrificing anything on the high end

It's worth noting our a7R II figures are higher than DXO's published 12.69 EV (13.9 EV 'Print') figures, possibly because they tested an older unit prior to uncompressed Raw and improvements to Sony's compression curve. We retested it literally today with the latest firmware, and get figures of 13.2 EV or 14.4 EV normalized for 'Print' (Bill measures 13.3 EV, which you can see by clicking the camera name in the legend). See our 8MP, or 'Print' normalized, dynamic range figures below. These are more comparable to what DXO might report, for the benefit of your own comparative efforts (blue: a7R III | red: a7R II):

You can see the Sony a7R III encroaching on the ~15 EV rating of the Nikon D850 at ISO 64, but at ISO 100 on the Sony, thanks to lower read noise. Impressive, though keep in mind again that the overall image quality improvement of an ISO 64 file from a D850 is due to total captured light (and it's all about total captured light, which you can read about here).

Independently, our friend Bill Claff has tested the a7R III and also shows a similar 0.3 EV improvement over the Mark II (you can see the dynamic range numbers by clicking on the relevant camera in the legend at the upper right). He also shows the slight advantage of the Nikon D850 over the a7R III, which comes in at 13.7 EV vs. the a7R III's 13.6 EV at the pixel level.**

Sony: a job well done. And all this at no cost to high ISO performance (we have comparisons coming showing parity between high ISO a7R III and a9 performance). Now please offer us visually lossless compressed Raw so we don't have to deal with >80MB files for no reason. :)

ISO-Invariance

A camera with such great dynamic range performance suggests it's probably fairly ISO-invariant, but is it?

Well, yes and no. It's ISO-invariant in exactly the way it should be, but not so in the ways it shouldn't be. Confused? Read on.

The a7R III, like many Sony predecessors, has a second gain step at the pixel level that amplifies signal, at the cost of higher tones, to preserve higher signal, and less noise, in dark tones. But it does so at a higher ISO—640 to be exact. At this point, the camera has amplified its signal in the analog domain so much that any remaining noise barely affects it.

That's why the camera shows no difference between amplifying that ISO 640-amplified signal digitally (in-post) or in the analog domain in-camera. While we'll have a more rigorous and controlled ISO-invariance test coming soon, you can see even in our cursory test at the launch event below that comparing ISO 6400 vs ISO 640 shot at the same exposure but raised 3.3 EV in-post to maintain the same brightness as ISO 6400 shows no difference at all in noise performance.

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What's the advantage to the latter? 3.3 EV of highlights you otherwise lose by amplifying to ISO 6400 levels in-camera, but that you don't lose if you ask ACR to digitally brighten 3.3 EV in post (anything that gets blown from that 3.3 EV push can easily be recovered in ACR since it's there in the Raw file).

Below ISO 640 there's some extra noise to, say, shooting ISO 100 and boosting 6 EV in post as opposed to shooting ISO 640 and boosting 3.3 EV in post. But there's simply no excuse to the camera's traditional ISO 6400 method of shooting ISO 6400-appropriate exposure and then boosting the analog signal 6 EV in post to get ISO 6400 levels of brightness; instead, 2.7 EV of that push could be done in the analog domain by switching dual gain to ISO 640 levels, but the remaining 3.3 EV push should be saved for Raw conversion in order to retain 3.3 EV (or more) of highlight detail. Indeed, this is easily seen in Bill Claff's 'Shadow Improvement' graphs that show little to no benefit to analog amplification above ISO 640 on even the Sony a7R II (or ISO 400 on the Nikon D850). And only a highlight cost of stops, upon stops, upon stops, since tones get amplified above the clipping point of the ADC at higher ISOs.

I'm going to use this as an opportunity to ask manufacturers like Sony, Nikon and the like: please accept the digital revolution that even your video departments have accepted (in their 'E.I.' modes). Please stop throwing away highlight data for almost no shadow benefit to ostensibly stick to poor antiquated 'film' analogies, or to work around CCD/CMOS read noise limitations that no longer exist. We've been singing this tune since 2014 when we designed our ISO-invariance test, and it's even more relevant today with dual-gain architectures. ACR understands digital 'push' tags and you can brighten the image preview (and JPEG) as necessary. This is not to single out Sony: Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic are just as easy to blame, if not Canon of late after having modernized its sensor architecture to catch up with the rest.

-Rishi Sanyal, 2017

Footnotes:

* Sony's claim that the a7S had 15 EV dynamic range was patently false, as even the a7R II which has been measured to have less than 15 EV dynamic range performs better. But since there's not standard for dynamic range measurement, it's hard to say whether or not anyone's claim is right or wrong - manufacturers can claim whatever they wish.

** But again, that's not the whole story until you consider the higher signal:noise ratio of all tones at ISO 64 on a D850 compared to ISO 100 on any other full-frame at ISO 100.

Categories: Photo News

Peak Design announces 5L Everyday Sling camera/drone bag

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 21:00
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Peak Design announced the 5L Everyday Sling, a small light-weight bag that can be carried as either a sling or a fanny-pack. The smallest bag in the company's Everyday line, it's got room for a full frame DSLR with a moderate-size lens, a mirrorless system with a few lenses, or a DJI Mavic Pro/Spark + controller + accessories. There are two interior pockets, one of which can fit an 11" tablet, as well as an additional exterior zipper pocket.

The exterior is made off weatherproof nylon canvas, like all bags in this line, and both zippers are also weatherproof. Colors include in ash with leather accents or black with black accents. Retail price is $100.

Categories: Photo News

Video: The story behind Albert Watson's iconic Steve Jobs portrait

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 13:26

Albert Watson is one of the best, and best-known portraitists in the world, and in this video by Profoto he tells the story behind one of his most iconic shots: THE portrait of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

It's a photo that you have no doubt seen—be it on the Apple homepage the day Jobs passed, or on the cover of Walter Isaacson's biography of the tech giant—but the story behind it takes just 2 minutes to tell. Watson explains how he instantly earned Jobs' cooperation, how he got Jobs to look into the camera with his trademark intensity, and how the portrait came to adorn the Apple website on the day Jobs passed away.

Hear the story from Watson himself in the video above.

Categories: Photo News

X-Rite unveils i1Studio: An all-in-one spectrophotometer that can calibrate all your devices

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 13:02

X-Rite has launched the i1Studio, an all-in-one spectrophotometer designed to make it easy to color calibrate a variety of devices—including projectors, scanners, monitors, printers, and mobile devices. The spectrophotometer is joined by new i1Studio software, the ColorTRUE Mobile App for calibrating iOS devices, and the ColorChecker Calibration for Cameras, a standard 24-patch target.

The i1Studio offers dedicated profiling for the aforementioned devices, as well as Black & White prints. Module features include ambient light measurement, Flare Correct, adaptive profiling technology, support for several video standards including NTSC and PAL, multiple monitor profiling, and extended user controls over luminance, gamma, contrast ratio, and white point.

The device's related software is based on the platform X-Rite used for its 1Profiler software, promising a "perfect balance" between controls and automation alongside what X-Rite describes as a "streamlined user experience." ColorMunki Photo & Design customers are offered a complimentary i1Studio software update, as well.

The kit is available now from X-Rite for $490 USD.

Press Release

X-Rite Announces its New i1Studio for Expert Color Results from Capture-to-Print

All-In-One color control solution with unmatched versatility for cameras, scanners, displays, printers, projectors and iOS mobile devices

X-Rite Incorporated, the world leader in color management and measurement technologies announces the i1Studio, an all new start-to-finish color management solution that delivers expert results from capture through to print.

The i1Studio enables exceptional color accuracy for photographers, filmmakers and designers of all levels to achieve consistent and predictable results across their workflow – saving time and money. The package comprises the i1Studio all-in-one spectrophotometer, i1Studio software, X-Rite’s market leading ColorChecker camera calibration tools and the ColorTRUE mobile app.

“Photographers tell stories with their pictures. Along with light, color plays an essential role in telling these stories. We want to make sure that your story is told as perfectly as possible, whether it’s color or black and white. Managing color should be easy with getting accurate repeatable results every time as the ultimate goal. i1Studio provides an intuitive, start-to-finish color management solution for every device in our users’ workflow so they can easily achieve this goal and get amazing results.”

Liz Quinlisk, Marketing Director Photo & Video, X-Rite.

The i1Studio package comes with:
  • i1Studio Device: The all-in-one i1Studio spectrophotometer is the only device creatives will need to profile their monitors, projectors, scanners, mobile devices and printers.
  • NEW i1Studio software for Displays, Projectors, Scanners and Printers: The i1Studio software, based on X-Rite’s award winning i1Profiler software, provides an easy to navigate interface that delivers expertly calibrated and profiled monitors (including video pre-sets), projectors, scanners and printers, including a new dedicated Black & White print module for creating custom profiles for five unique B&W looks.
  • ColorChecker Calibration for Cameras: The included industry standard 24 patch target allows creatives to create custom camera profiles, set a custom white balance and have a neutral starting point no matter what light photographers are shooting in for a more streamlined editing process. (Also includes Adobe® Lightroom® Plug-In)
  • ColorTRUE Mobile App for iOS Devices: A simple way to calibrate Apple® iOS mobile devices for a true mobile to desktop color match of all images. (Downloadable from Apple App Store)

X-Rite’s i1 brand has long been the choice for color perfectionists around the world and is now extended to the i1Studio.

Amongst its wide array of features, i1Studio includes dedicated profiling for Black & White prints, scanners, mobile devices and video monitors. The new i1Studio software is engineered on the same platform as X-Rite’s i1Profiler, offering a streamlined user experience with the perfect balance of automation and creative controls. This gives users more options and more control, while delivering prints perfectly matched to their creative vision.

X-Rite’s i1Studio is now available through our global reseller network and on xritephoto.com, xritephoto.eu and xrite.com.

Existing ColorMunki Photo & Design customers can obtain a complimentary upgrade to i1Studio software at xrite.com/geti1Studio.

Categories: Photo News

Your iOS apps could be spying on you via the iPhone camera

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:22

If you want to be sure nobody is spying on you through your laptop webcam the best thing to do is cover the lens. The same might be true for the camera in your Apple smartphone.

Felix Krause, a developer at Google, has found that any iOS app could secretly use the iPhone camera to record images and video of the user if given permission to access the camera. Krause developed an app for demonstration purposes that shows how an app could use either front or rear cameras to capture images and video in the background when the app is loaded.

Recorded footage or images could be directly transferred to cloud servers without the user being aware or receiving any notifications. The camera could also be used to run real-time face recognition, possibly even identifying the user.

The good news is that Krause's app is not approved for distribution through the iTunes App Store. Hopefully such malicious behavior would be picked up during Apple's pretty strict review process. However, if you want to be entirely certain the best options seem to be covering the lens or not granting camera access to any app you don't trust 100 percent. The latter could limit the app's functionality, however.

For a better idea of the issue watch the video below that shows his proof-of-concept app in action or read the report on his website.

Categories: Photo News

Nikon shuts down camera factory in China, blames 'the rise of smartphones'

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 11:11

Earlier today, the Nikon board of directors announced plans to close Nikon Imaging (China) Co., LTD (NIC)—a subsidiary based in Wuxi City, Jiangsu, China, where NIC employed some 2,500 workers at a factory that produced compact digital cameras and DSLR lenses. The closure, says Nikon, is due to "the rise of smartphones" and the "rapidly shrinking" compact camera market.

Nikon's announcement of the closure lays the blame for this cut squarely on the shoulders of the smartphone revolution.

In recent years [...] due to the rise of smartphones, the compact digital camera market has been shrinking rapidly, leading to a significant decrease in operating rate at NIC and creating a difficult business environment. In this context, the Company conducted rounds of thorough reviews and discussions on the global manufacturing structure optimization measures stated in the company-wide restructuring plan announced by the Company in November 2016. The Company has decided to discontinue operations of NIC.

Nikon says expenses related to the closure of the factory and "discontinued operations of the consolidated subsidiary" are expected to reach about 7 Billion Yen (~$62 million USD).

Of course, the end of Nikon Imaging (China) doesn't mean the end of Nikon cameras in China. According to Nikkei, Nikon controls 30% of the digital camera market there, and Nikon itself says it will "continue proactively developing business and services in China." This move is simply in keeping with a harsh if unsurprising (and "old news") reality: the smartphone has killed the entry-level compact.

Categories: Photo News

This neural network turns smartphone snaps into 'DSLR-quality photos'

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 10:53

Researchers at ETH Zürich have developed an AI-powered system that can turn your measly smartphone snapshots into images that look like they were recorded with a full-blown DSLR... or so they claim.

The project is called 'DSLR-Quality Photos on Mobile Devices with Deep Convolutional Networks' and part of the abstract on the project home page reads as follows:

Despite a rapid rise in the quality of built-in smartphone cameras, their physical limitations—small sensor size, compact lenses and the lack of specific hardware—impede them to achieve the quality results of DSLR cameras. In this work we present an end-to-end deep learning approach that bridges this gap by translating ordinary photos into DSLR-quality images.

Of course, the term "DSLR-quality images" could mean many things, but it looks like the software is currently focusing on sharpness, color and tonality. This is in contrast with what smartphone manufacturers tend to refer to as "DSLR-quality images" and what they try to replicate with 'Portrait' mode photos: depth-of-field, or rather the lack of it.

To create the software the team started by by training a deep learning system by feeding it photos taken of the same scene using a smartphone camera and a DSLR. This approach worked well but could only improve the quality for the specific smartphone in question. A more sophisticated second version only needs to see two sets of images from different cameras to understand how to apply the image quality from one to the other; in other words: you can feed any photo into the system and apply the image quality of a target camera to it.

The results still need some fine-tuning on occasions—for example, some of the sample shots on display show color casts or a loss of detail after going through the process. However, test images tend to be better exposed and more vibrant. The most obvious improvements can be achieved with smartphone cameras on older or lower-tier devices though.

The scientist hope to eventually use their neural network for modifying the shooting conditions rather than the image quality of the camera. For example, you could turn a photo that was taken on a rainy day into one captured in bright sunshine... for many photographers this might be just a step to far.

If you want to try the current version yourself, you can do so on phancer.com.

Categories: Photo News

First samples: Leica Thambar-M 90mm F2.2

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 10:43
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Leica just announced a new lens – a redesigned version of the classic 90mm Thambar F2.2 from the 1930s. We're working on a full gallery, but in the meantime, Leica has sent us some exclusive first samples.

Take a look at our exclusive Leica Thambar sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Mevo Plus is a pro-tier livestreaming 4K camera for Vimeo Live

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 08:53

Following the finalization of its Livestream acquisition earlier this month, Vimeo has announced a new camera for Vimeo Live called Mevo Plus. This hardware joins the original Mevo camera and is compatible with Vimeo Live, the company's livestreaming platform. The original Mevo camera will be phased out, according to Venture Beat, as the improved Mevo Plus becomes the main camera product for Vimeo Live.

Vimeo Live was announced in late September as a livestreaming platform, "specifically meant to address the needs of professional event creators." Now, those same professional event creators have a dedicated camera that is integrated with this service, although the Mevo Plus also works with Periscope, Livestream, Facebook Live, Twitter, and YouTube.

Mevo Plus features a 150 f/2.8 glass lens, 12.4MP Sony 4K sensor with a 3840 x 2160 capture resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, and 30fps frame rate. Video content can be recorded to the device or can be streamed using Ethernet, WiFi, and LTE. Other features include a six-axis motion sensor, forward-facing speaker, magnetic base, 150-degree FOV, and a built-in battery able to power the camera for up to an hour. The full list of tech specs are available here.

Mevo Plus is priced at $500, and the original Mevo model is now discounted to $300 as the remaining inventory is sold off.

In addition to offering Mevo Plus by itself, the company is also offering a Mevo Plus Pro Bundle for $800, a $100 discount over the bundle's regular price. The bundle includes the Mevo stand, case, Mevo Boost accessory device, and a tripod. Click here to find out more or order one for yourself.

Categories: Photo News

Dubblefilm unveils pre-exposed 35mm Kodak film stocks Moonstruck and Sunstroke

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 08:39

Dubble and KONO! have teamed up to launch two new films called Dubblefilm Sunstroke and Dubblefilm Moonstruck. Both varieties are 35mm Kodak film that has been pre-exposed to give photographs unique color effects based on which version of the Dubblefilm that is used. The pre-exposure is performed using KONO!'s Reanimator machine.

KONO! is European company that sells a variety of film products that have been "pre-exposed, produced or reanimated on machines" designed by the company, according to its website. Dubble, meanwhile, is a photo-mixing mobile app that allows users to combine two images to simulate a double exposure effect.

Talking about the new film, Dubble explained in a statement that Dubblefilm is the result of The Reanimator, which "produces a mix of digital and analog film manipulation directly onto 35mm." The Sunstroke film produces an effect that emulates camera light leaks, while Moonstruck adds color tones to photos, the effects of which vary based on shooting conditions.

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Dubblefilm is being offered through its own dedicated website, where Moonstruck and Sunstroke are sold individually for €12 each or together for €22 combined. Both varieties are 200 ISO, 24-exposure 35mm film and use the standard C-41 process.

Categories: Photo News

Google software update will address some Pixel 2 XL display issues

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 08:22

Google has responded to criticism over the Pixel 2 XL's 'dull' display colors, confirming that the company will release a software update in the coming weeks that adds a new saturated colors mode. With this mode, Pixel 2 XL owners will have the option of increasing the vividness of the screen so that it is comparable to the bright saturation found on some other OLED smartphone displays.

Criticism about the Pixel 2 XL's pOLED display arose shortly after the review units went out, with complaints including reports of dull colors, graininess, a strong blue tint when viewed at an angle and, in some cases, reports of display burn-in. Google's VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz addressed two of those issues, the burn-in and vividness, in a post on Google's forums.

Google is standing by its previous statement that the Pixel 2 XL's display was designed to show "a more natural and accurate rendition of colors." Queiroz points out that the phone does contain a feature to boost the display color by 10%, but if that's not enough to satisfy some users, they'll soon also have a new mode that provides "more saturated colors." This mode will arrive in a software update for both Pixel 2 handsets "in the next few weeks."

As for the burn-in issue, Queiroz stated in his forum post that Google began investigating the issue on October 22nd when it received the first user report about the potential problem. During its testing, Google found that the issue, which is officially called differential aging, is "in line with that of other premium smartphones" and won't impact how the phone is used on a daily basis. He also explained that Google uses software "to safeguard the user experience and maximize the life of the OLED display, and we’ll make ongoing software updates to optimize further."

Finally, Google has announced that it is now providing Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones with a global 2-year warranty.

Categories: Photo News

Canon G1 X Mark III pre-production sample gallery

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 06:00
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The Canon G1 X III isn't a whole lot bigger than the G5 X, but it hosts a much bigger APS-C sized sensor. Consider its 24-70mm equiv. lens, Dual Pixel AF, built-in EVF and generous dedicated controls and you've got a versatile tool that juuuuust fits in your coat pocket. We've been shooting with a pre-production model; the JPEG images in this beta gallery have been down-scaled to 90% at Canon's request.

See our Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III pre-production sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Canon EOS M100 shooting experience and gallery

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 06:00

Washington State is known as the Evergreen State, a slogan that is emblazoned on automotive license plates from Seattle to Spokane. New York is the Empire State. Montana is Big Sky Country, and Florida is the Sunshine State.

What about Idaho? Famous Potatoes.

Seems to me there's a lot more to Idaho than just potatoes. Processed and cropped to taste in Adobe Camera Raw using the Camera Landscape color profile. Great exposure in full automatic mode.
ISO 200 | 1/250 sec | F2.8

While on a recent road trip through Idaho, this topic of state slogans came up with a few traveling companions who happen to live in state capital, Boise. In all fairness, it does look like there is an updated slogan. "Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations." Eh. Somehow, it still fails to capture any sense of the awesome beauty that I experienced on my first trip through the north-western part of the state, along the Snake River and Hells Canyon and through the Clearwater Mountains.

The primary reason for this trip was to get some more shooting time in with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II. But I also threw the new, beginner-friendly Canon EOS M100 with the 22mm F2 pancake prime into my jacket pocket for capturing some of the lighter moments on the trip.

And given just how much of a thing I have for large-sensor compact cameras with prime lenses, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I really, really enjoyed it.

What Canon got right Not a bad parking spot. Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw using the Camera Neutral profile.
ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F5.6

The most important thing that Canon got right with this camera is that it's just fun to use. With a good full Auto mode, and an easy switch over to Program Auto or Aperture Priority, it was easy to just yank the M100 out of my pocket, take a quick shot, and put it back in at a moment's notice. This was especially handy on, say, the top of a mountain with failing post-sunset light.

Despite the fairly serious guts in the M100, which include Canon's newest 24MP APS-C sensor and Digic 7 processor, the M100 doesn't feel like too 'serious' a camera to use. While it sometimes seemed overkill to take out the 6D II for some photos of late-night photo editing or a trip to the pool hall, the EOS M100 just seems made for such photographic opportunities.

Image processed to taste in-camera using tuned monochrome settings, with increased sharpening and contrast - still another good exposure from full Auto mode.
ISO 6400 | 1/40 sec | F2.8

It's also true that default sharpening and noise reduction values aren't really our favorites on Canon's recent cameras, but if your main purpose is getting better photos than what your cellphone can capture and then uploading to Instagram, it doesn't seem to be too much of a problem. Speaking of cellphones, the built-in NFC on the M100 (which the older M10 also has) makes pairing with Android phones an absolute breeze.

And if you find yourself needing to tweak your images, the M100 is one of the few entry-level Canon cameras that allows for in-camera Raw processing, which is a really nice touch. It also makes it easier to find your preferred settings.

The tilting touchscreen combines with the excellent Dual Pixel AF to make shooting from the hip a really addictive experience.

Smartphone cameras are steadily improving, but there's no way my phone could handle this sort of thing. Processed and cropped to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 2000 | 1/60 sec | F2 Things to consider

Of course, there's also a couple things Canon could improve. I mean, look at this USB port. Just look at it.

What's wrong with this picture?

First off, that's a mini USB port, not the far more common micro USB port, so good luck finding a cable should you need to transfer over USB. The bigger issue is that the USB port included on the M100 does not support USB charging – something that's also true of Canon's EOS M5 and M6.

These cameras, particularly the tiny M100, practically beg to be travel cameras, at least with the pancake prime. Even if I'm traveling ultra-light, I'll need a charger for my phone, and being able to share that between the phone and camera means one less power brick to lose. Plus, if I do lose it, a generic USB charger is damned near ubiquitous compared with something that works specifically with Canon's LP-E12 batteries. And if you already have a bigger Canon kit with its own chargers, do you really want to carry another dedicated charger?

Besides that, I do wish that the M100 came with the M6's screen mechanism. The fact that the screen only flips up makes shooting top-down difficult, but it's better than a screen that doesn't tilt at all, particularly given the M100 lacks a viewfinder. Of course, a more complex screen mechanism would likely mean a bigger physical size, so there's no free lunch here, I suppose.

Tilt-up screens - great for low angles with pets and kids, lousy for high angles of whatever it is you might be eating. Out-of-camera JPEG in auto mode, cropped to taste.
ISO 200 | 1/250 sec | F5

Lastly, there's no getting around the limited native lens ecosystem for Canon's EF-M mount. Seriously, I love the 22mm F2, but it's the only compact, fast prime they've released in five years. The 35mm macro option is great to have, and the 11-22mm wide-angle is of high-quality, but is it too much to ask for a native fast 50mm equivalent? Given the system's size, packing an extra lens or two isn't going to be too much of a stretch for people who are into photography, but there just aren't great options out there right now.

The wrap

This Idaho roadtrip got me thinking. We did, of course, do a lot of serious photography with the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, including some portraits with Canon's gorgeous new 85mm F1.4L IS as well as some off-road action with something called an RZR. For the more serious stuff, the 6D Mark II was far and away the better tool.

But after a full day of shooting, when I'd stumble across some nice light or a casual moment I wanted to capture, I found that having the M100 in my pocket was a godsend, especially if it was my main option while the 6D II's batteries were charging, or files were backing up, or I simply didn't want to carry a full-frame DSLR with me out to dinner.

The EOS M100 was great for when I wanted to unwind from using a full-frame DSLR all day, but still have the capability to snag some nice photos. Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 4000 | 1/60 sec | F2

For the serious photographer, the M100 doesn't make much of a case for itself as that user's only camera. But for someone looking for a fun second camera, or a smartphone user looking to get into more serious photography with an excellent and easy-to-use touchscreen interface (i.e. the camera's intended audience), the EOS M100 – with its updated sensor, processor and autofocus system – is definitely worth a look.

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Categories: Photo News

Photo of the week: I Am Legend

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 07:00

At first glance this image seems much akin to "Wanderer above the Sea of Fog," a lonely hiker standing at the edge of a cliff. This is no coincidence as Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings have always been a great inspiration to me. Their striking iconography and atmosphere are unparalleled; however, this image was not taken in Germany, Friedrich’s home country, but in Japan.

Most might not be able to tell, since the fog doesn’t allow for our gaze to wander off into the distance. But some might have heard of the location it was shot before: the isle of Yakushima. It is a small island about 100 kilometers south of the southern most main isle of Japan called Kyushu. Its great expanses of temperate rainforest have since 1993 been part of the UNESCO World Heritage due to their diverse endemic flora and fauna. Some of the island’s Japanese Cedars are up to 7,000 years old.

The forest is often engulfed by clouds hanging in the mountains which reach up to almost 2,000 meters in altitude. To explore the woods was one of my main goals when I travelled to the island earlier this year. Even though it’s the rainiest part in all of Japan I just couldn’t help to go. What awaited me was beyond what I had expected.

It was much like what I had seen in Princess Mononoke—a movie the setting of which was largely inspired by the forests of Yakushima. Actually so much so, that there is now a small part of the forest titled “Mononoke no Mori,” which translates as “Mononoke’s Forest.

For four days I hiked with my friend Philipp Lutz along the Yakushima traverse, witnessing the forest’s and mountain’s beauty. Part of the allure of the place was the fact that it is not very well known in the western landscape photography realms; something which comes as no surprise, given the language barrier and its distance to Europe and the US mainland. Luckily my friend and I do speak some Japanese, so it wasn’t as hard for us to obtain the information we needed to get around.

This specific image was taken on the third day on the island on our way up to Miyanoura-Dake, the highest elevation of the island. Originally we had planned to get up that day, but the islands paths were quite long and winding, offering so many photo opportunities such as this one, that we spent much time just shooting the forest scenery instead of treading on, arriving a day later than anticipated.

Due to the topography of the island the upper slopes of the mountain ranges are almost always engulfed in fog. When we went through the undergrowth for some time we came to a cliff where I almost stumbled down the slope as the path was taking us through the ravine you can see on the right side of the image. The old cedar trees were omnipresent and lend the forest its distinct, primordial character. With this image I tried to combine the aforementioned iconography of “The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” with the island’s unique fauna and mood to forge an atmospheric rendition of what it was like to hike through this one of a kind landscape. It is times like these where I feel like telling people that I am inspired much by landscape painters is more than just a educational phrase to encourage students in my workshops to look beyond photography to find meaningful inspiration. I for myself might not have taken this image had I not looked at so many of Friederich’s works.

This is something with may be lost on the younger generation and the myriads of instagram selfies on cliffs, but the image type is not even a product of out post-modern, self-referential crave for admiration. Instead it is part of a long tradition dating back hundreds of years.

Nicolas Alexander Otto is a semi-professional landscape photographer based out of North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. He writes for different online and print media, teaches workshops for several agencies, sells prints and calendars and offers post processing sessions. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook and Instagram.

Categories: Photo News

Sony a7R III UHD 4K sample video clips

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 06:00

The Sony a7R Mark III can shoot UHD 4K video at 24 and 30p using the full width of its image sensor or over-sampled footage using a Super 35 crop. We had a quick moment to shoot sample clips while at a Sony-sponsored shooting event earlier this week in New York City. All the clips were shot hand-held, using the camera's tracking AF function and the new 24-105mm F4 lens.

The first clip was shot in UHD 4K/24p at the camera's highest bit rate using the full sensor. You'll notice the tracking jumps off the subject midway through the clip, only to re-acquire toward the very end. You can download the clip here.

The next clip was shot UHD 4K/30p using the Super 35 crop mode (also hand-held, using tracking). In this mode, the camera shoots using a 5176 x 2924 pixel region and down-samples it to produce highly detailed 3840 x 2160 UHD 4K footage. In theory, this footage should look better than the full frame footage. You can download the clip here.

The final clip above was also shot in UHD 4K/30p, but this time Full Frame for the sake of comparison. You can download it here. We'd expect the difference between the quality of the clips to be exaggerated in lower light, where the Super 35 mode is actually using more of the sensor, even though the full frame mode is taking its footage from a more dispersed area.

For more out-of-camera samples, check out our Sony a7R III sample image gallery.

Categories: Photo News

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 03:00
Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

Zeiss just announced a new prime lens for full-frame Canon and Nikon DSLRs: The Milvus 25mm F1.4 is very big, very heavy, and should be very high-performing – and we just got our hands on one.

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

The new Milvus 25mm F1.4 is the fourth widest lens in the family – which ranges from 15mm to 135mm – and brings the total number to Milvus lenses to 11, four of which boast fast F1.4 apertures. As we'd expect from previous lenses in this series, build quality is extraordinarily good. If you can handle the size and weight, the experience of using a Milvus is nothing short of luxurious.

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

Optical construction comprises 15 elements in 13 groups, including a grand total of six aspherical elements, for a (claimed) almost total reduction of CA. If that sounds like an expensive way to make a lens, it is. The Milvus will cost $2400 (but that's still a lot less than a new Leica Thambar).

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

At 123mm (4.8 inches) long and 1225 g (43.20 oz), the Milvus 25mm F1.4 is a large, heavy lens. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV shown here is a pretty chunky camera, but the Milvus makes it look like an Olympus OM-D E-M10 III...

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

Announced earlier this year, the Milvus 35mm F1.4 is similarly tank-like, weighing in at 1174 g (41.40 oz).

Hands-on with Zeiss Milvus 25mm F1.4

As well as being slightly lighter, the Milvus 35mm F1.4 is a little less expensive than the 25mm too, at $2228.

Categories: Photo News

Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN 'C': hands-on and additional details

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 13:20
Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

Sigma has used the Photo Plus Expo show in New York as a launchpad for an all-new lens – the 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary is a fast, high-quality prime for cropped-sensor Sony E-mount and M43 cameras.

In person, the new lens is a relatively small, but beautifully well-made prime that fills a useful gap in focal lengths for both systems. On a Sony E-mount APS-C format camera, it is equivalent to 24mm, while on a Micro Four Thirds ILC it becomes an effective 32mm medium-wide.

Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

Sigma claims that despite being a 'C' (Contemporary) class lens, the new 16mm should have performance in line with the company's premier 'Art' series. As far as build quality is concerned, that's definitely true. Mechanically, this lens is gorgeous – something that is exemplified in the large, very smooth manual focusing ring.

Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

At 92.3mm (3.6 inches) long, the 16mm is relatively compact, but becomes a lot bigger with the included hood attached, beginning to dwarf the Sony a6300 shown in this image. But at 405g (14 oz) it's relatively heavy for its size.

Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

Optical construction comprises 16 elements in 13 groups, including two aspherical, two SLD (super-low dispersion) and three FLD ("F" low dispersion) elements. That's an impressive number of specialized elements and the just-published MTF graphs suggest that sharpness at optimal apertures will be impressive.

Nine rounded aperture blades should ensure pleasant bokeh at wide apertures.

Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

While Sigma typically doesn't make any specific claims about weather-sealing, a thin rubber ring around the lens throat should help keep dust and moisture from entering the camera. As you can see from the engraved text in this shot, minimum focus is 0.25m (about 10 inches).

Hands-on with new Sigma 16mm F1.4 DC DN | Contemporary

No details on pricing and availability of the 16mm F1.4 have yet been released, but we're looking forward to trying out a production sample as soon as they become available.

Categories: Photo News

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 10:30
Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

We're at the Photo Plus Expo show in New York, where Fujifilm is showing off its new XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR and GF 45mm F2.8 R WR prime lenses.

First up is the snappily-named XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR. It's equivalent to a 122mm prime on X-series bodies, and as you can see, it's a big lens. It also fills an appropriately big gap in Fujifilm's historical lens lineup, being the first of Fuji's X-mount lenses to give full 1:1 macro reproduction.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

As usual for Fujifilm's current lenses, the 80mm offers the option of manual aperture control via a dedicated dial, and a large focusing ring provides very fine control over focus, if required.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

The XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR is optically stabilized, and is rated to provide around 5 stops of correction. This should help greatly in the macro focusing range, as well as making the lens more usable in general, in lower lighting conditions.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

Toggle switches on the lens barrel allow the photographer to restrict the lens's focusing range, as well as activate / deactivate the OIS stabilization system. The XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR is weather sealed (that's what the 'WR' means) and like all of Fujifilm's high-end lenses, it's built to a very high standard of construction.

The Fujifilm XF 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR will be available next month for $1200.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

The Fujinon GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a very different beast. Designed for Fujifilm's medium-format GFX 50S, it offers an equivalent field of view to 36mm on a full-frame camera.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

At 490g (1.08 lb) the 45mm F2.8 is small and light by the standards of medium format lenses, and should be a useful prime lens for everyday shooting. A broad focusing ring and dedicated aperture control dial allow for manual control if desired.

Hands-on with new Fujifilm X and GF lenses

Optical construction comprises 11 elements in eight groups, including one aspherical and two ED elements. Again, the 'WR' designation means that this lens is sealed against dust and moisture incursion - just like the GFX 50S.

The Fujinon GF 45mm F2.8 R WR will be available next month for $1700.

Categories: Photo News

Leica's 'new' Thambar-M 90mm F2.2 costs $325 per aperture blade

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 09:59
Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

Leica's newest lens is actually one of its oldest. The Leica Thambar-M 90mm F2.2 is a (slightly) modernized recreation of a classic 1930s design, famed for decades thanks to its unique soft focus rendering for portraits. At $6500 it costs a pretty penny too, which for our own amusement we figured works out to $325 for each of its 20 aperture blades.

We're at the Photo Plus Expo show in New York, where we just got our hands on Leica's latest crazy diamond. Click through for a closer look.

Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

Cosmetically, the new Thambar is virtually identical to the original. The biggest difference is that now, it's designed natively for the M-mount rather than the original screw-mount (and 6-bit coded). As such, it can be used on modern rangefinders (like the M10 pictured above) without adaptation.

Sorry about the weird color balance in this image by the way. I have no excuse.

Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

Yes, that is a 20-bladed aperture. The optical construction of the new lens is the same as the original - four elements in three groups - but in a concession to the needs of 20th Century photographers, the elements are now single-coated.

Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

There are two reasons the original Thambar is famed among Leica collectors. One is its scarcity, and the other is its unique rendering. 'Soft-focus' would be a bit of an oversimplification - its more of an ethereal glow. I can't describe the appearance very well in words, but people who love it really love it. The effect can be varied by stopping down the aperture. There are some sample images at the end of this writeup.

Note the twin stepless aperture scales - that will be explained a minute.

Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

The white aperture ring refers to the effective aperture when the special 'center-spot' filter is attached. This filter allows photographers to modify the unique rendition of the Thambar.

Hands-on with Leica's new classic 90mm Thambar

A dedicated screw-in hood can be reversed on the lens for storage. Without the hood or filter, the new Thambar weighs in at a respectable 500g (1.1lb) and is available now, for $6500.

Categories: Photo News

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