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These are the winners of the UK’s Landscape Photographer of the Year contest

DP Review Latest news - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 08:19
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The winners of the 2017 "Take a View – Landscape Photographer of the Year" contest have been announced—a competition that aims to find the best images of the UK from photographers around the world. This year’s winner of the top prize and title was Benjamin Graham with a nicely uncomplicated view of the dunes at West Wittering in West Sussex.

The competition, which is in its 11th year, has a prize fund of £17,000. £10,000 goes to the Landscape Photographer of the Year, £1,000 to the winners of the four adult categories and the youth prize, and £500 to second placed images in the adult categories.

This year's winners are:

Landscape Photographer of the Year
Benjamin Graham

Classic view
Rachael Talibart

Living the view
Paul Fowles

Urban view
George Robertson

Your view
Neil Burnell

Youth winner
Andrew Bulloch (15)

The competition also had prizes from sponsors Network Rail (Jon Martin wins a trip to photograph the Forth Bridge in Scotland) and VisitBritain (Graham Niven), and from Fujifilm for the best print, Lee Filters and The Sunday Times. For a full list of winners and to see all the winning images visit the Take a View: Landscape Photographer of the Year website.

The winning images and those in the shortlists will form a book as well as a free exhibition that will be held in London’s Waterloo station from November 20th, 2017 through February 4th, 2018.

Press Release

Landscape Photographer of the Year 2017 The Winner is Announced

A photograph of the UK’s stunning coastline wins the top prize for the third year running, as Benjamin Graham’s image of the dunes at West Wittering in West Sussex becomes the eleventh winner of the overall title: Landscape Photographer of the Year. The judges chose Benjamin’s image from thousands of entries celebrating the richly diverse landscape of the UK.

Winning the top prize of £10,000, Benjamin was attracted by the ambiguity of the scene:

“As well as its minimal simplicity, I particularly like the indeterminate scale of the image. The double S-curve could be two metres long or two thousand... It was actually about twenty.”

Charlie Waite, one of Britain’s leading landscape photographers and founder of the Awards spoke about the winning image:

“Benjamin’s image has a hypnotic and contemplative quality that acts as an antidote to turbulent times. When at the coast, we often just stand and gaze out to sea and seem to gain some kind of spiritual well-being from doing so. This image suggests the same emotional experience and the composition leads the eye on to infinite calm.”

From flower fields and land patterns to romantic castles and historic bridges, the winning photographs in the ‘Take a view - Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards’ not only display the talent of their creators but also inspire visitors to explore and discover the wonders of the British countryside.

The Young Landscape Photographer of the Year title has been awarded to Andrew Bulloch, whose image of an urban skatepark set against a backdrop of the Northern Lights shows a meeting of the man-made world with one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena.

For the third year, the Awards are being held in association with VisitBritain and the GREAT campaign to showcase the diversity of amazing moments and experiences that can be only be had on a trip across Britain. The VisitBritain ‘Home of Amazing Moments’ Award was offered for the photograph judged to best capture the spirit of the campaign. The winning image, by Graham Niven, of an early morning boat trip on Loch Garten in the Cairngorms is taken from a viewpoint that allows the viewer to feel involved and part of the ‘amazing moment.’

VisitBritain/VisitEngland Chief Executive, Sally Balcombe said:

“As Graham’s spectacular image shows, Britain’s diverse and stunning scenery offers a visual feast in which the viewer can imagine themselves at the centre of the experience. It is a fantastic example of how images stir our emotions and fire our imaginations, motivating and inspiring us to explore new locations and landscapes.”

Congratulations also go to the winners of this year’s other Special Awards. The Network Rail ‘Lines in the Landscape’ Award was won by Jon Martin for his view of a train crossing Barmouth Viaduct over the River Mawddach in North Wales (right) and ‘Poppies in a field of linseed’ by Julian Eales, won The Sunday Times Magazine Award. Will Milner wins the Adobe Prize for his photograph of Durdle Door at night, Mark Cornick receives the Fujifilm Print Prize for his architectural view of a London building and Rachael Talibart’s seascape at Birling Gap in East Sussex is awarded the LEE Filters Prize.

The exhibition of winning entries will again be held on the Balcony at Britain’s busiest station, London Waterloo, giving thousands of visitors the chance to see the very best of the British countryside in the very heart of the capital. Opening on Monday, November 20th, the exhibition is hosted by Network Rail and will run for twelve weeks, closing on February 4th, 2018, before heading off on a tour of selected stations countrywide. Admission is free.

All the winning and commended photographs from the competition can be found in the Awards book ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year: Collection 11’ by AA Publishing, which is available now.

Categories: Photo News

Macphun unveils Luminar 2018, takes on Adobe Lightroom CC

DP Review Latest news - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 07:43

Macphun—the photo editing software company that will rename itself 'Skylum' at the end of the year—has just unveiled the latest version of its full-featured photo editing suite Luminar. Meet Luminar 2018: a photo editor and (eventually) digital asset manager that seeks to compete with Adobe's Lightroom at a time when many Lightroom users are looking for an out.

Available for pre-order starting today, Luminar 2018 features speed improvements, a dedicated RAW develop module, LUT support, AI-powered filters that can do some strange/interesting things like create intelligent light rays, and a digital asset management system (coming soon) that will allow you to organize your photo library sans subscription.

Macphun is very much hoping disgruntled Lightroom users will give Luminar 2018 a go:

Luminar 2018 has been re-built from the ground up for dramatic performance boosts.

[...]

Instead of stuffing menus with boring effects and old technology, Luminar only puts in filters that photographers want and need. Luminar offers more than 40 filters to correct color, sharpen details, and release creativity. New filters include the ability to enhance color with Brilliance, selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image with Dodge & Burn, as well as the ability to change the lighting in a photo with Sun Rays.

Want a whole new way to stylize images? Try the new Lookup Table adjustments, known as LUTs . Creative color, perfect black and white conversions, and even digital films stocks are just a click away. Lightroom users who rely on custom presets created for Lightroom can also easily convert those presets into LUTs (with a free 3rd party tool) and use them inside of Luminar 2018.

Here's a closer look at the interface:

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And a few before and after images to show what Luminar 2018 can do when you put it to work on your images:

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Most of the features discussed will launch with Luminar 2018 later this month, with the exception of the DAM, which is scheduled to ship "in 2018." Pre-orders start today at a special discount price of $60 for new users (usually $70) and $40 for users of the current Luminar (usually $50).

To learn more about Luminar 2018, head over to the Macphun (soon Skylum) website by clicking here.

Press Release

The new Luminar 2018 takes on Adobe Lightroom

New Luminar 2018 delivers a breakthrough photo editing experience for photographers on Mac & Windows with new filters, tools, non-destructive editing, major speed boosts, and a digital asset management platform that will arrive in 2018.

San Diego, CA - November 1, 2017 — Macphun, the California-based software developer today announced Luminar 2018. New users will be able to purchase Luminar 2018 for $59, and current users of Luminar may upgrade at a special price of $39. Preorders start November 1 at www.macphun.com/luminar.

Luminar 2018 offers everything a modern photographer needs for photo editing, including new filters powered by artificial intelligence, major speed improvements, a dedicated RAW develop module and a forthcoming in 2018 digital asset management platform. Users will also benefit from the new intelligent Sun Rays filter, LUT support, and real-time noise removal. With adaptive workspaces that match styles of shooting, Luminar adapts to deliver a complete experience that avoids clutter and complexity.

Luminar 2018 has been re-built from the ground up for dramatic performance boosts. Existing filters deliver richer colors and depth in less time. A brand new streamlined user interface speeds up working with presets, filters, and masks. With full support of pro options like layers, masks, and blending modes, complex repairs and photo composites can be easily accomplished.

And, importantly, Luminar works on both Mac- and Windows-based desktop computers*.

“We’ve taken the time to listen to photographers, and what they want is performance and quality. The less time photographers have to spend in front of computers, the more time they have for taking pictures,” said Alex Tsepko, CEO of Macphun. “Our mission is to get Luminar streamlined with just the tools and controls photographers need. The goal is simple: enable the best-looking images with the least amount of effort.”

Luminar offers a new RAW Engine that can handle high-quality images faster. Plus, it's easy to solve image problems caused by camera lenses with Lens Correction features that resolve vignette, distortion, and color aberrations. If the photo has unwanted perspective problems, a new Transform tool can quickly solve them.

Instead of stuffing menus with boring effects and old technology, Luminar only puts in filters that photographers want and need. Luminar offers more than 40 filters to correct color, sharpen details, and release creativity. New filters include the ability to enhance color with Brilliance, selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image with Dodge & Burn, as well as the ability to change the lighting in a photo with Sun Rays.

Want a whole new way to stylize images? Try the new Lookup Table adjustments, known as LUTs**. Creative color, perfect black and white conversions, and even digital films stocks are just a click away. Lightroom users who rely on custom presets created for Lightroom can also easily convert those presets into LUTs (with a free 3rd party tool) and use them inside of Luminar 2018.

Luminar 2018 will become available in November 2017, and in 2018 a free update will provide a new image browser/digital asset manager to help photographers manage their image libraries.

Photographers will be able to sort, rate, organize, and backup their photos at great speed. The new digital asset management platform in Luminar will work without subscription and will work with any storage (cloud or local). It will also bring a number of unique features, that the current Lightroom library can’t boast.

* Workspaces, Clone & Stamp, blend modes for layers, luminosity masking, flip and rotate, as well as some other tools and features will be available in the Mac version at launch, and arrive in the PC version with free updates by the end of the year.

** Look-Up Table (LUT) - is mathematically precise way of taking specific RGB image values form a source image – and modifying them to new RGB values by changing the hue, saturation and brightness values of that source image. LUTs are used creatively to impose a specific ‘Look’ on a source image.

Availability

Pre-order for Luminar 2018 will run from November 1 until November 16.

Pre-order customers will receive a special price and value-add bonuses such as:

  • A pack of signature presets & textures from a Pro photographer Nicolesy.
  • An exclusive pack of LUTs.
  • 1-year Power plan from SmugMug ($72 value). For new accounts only
Pricing

Mixed-computer households can share the same product key for Mac and PC which can be activated on five devices.

Current users of Luminar may upgrade at a special pre­-order price of $39

New users can purchase Luminar at a special pre­order price of $59

The retail price for Luminar 2018 after November 16 will be:

$49 upgrade for current Luminar HDR users

$69 for new users

The digital asset management platform will arrive in 2018 as the free update for all the users of Luminar 2018.

Categories: Photo News

Canon 85mm F1.4L IS USM sample gallery

DP Review Latest news - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 06:00
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The Canon 85mm F1.4L, announced at the end of August, updates the company's series of 85mm primes with a useful new feature: image stabilization. The lens isn't as fast as the 85mm F1.2L II that came before it, but should offer the ability to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds.

True to its L-series branding it's dust- and weather-sealed, and it ships this month for $1600. DPR staffer Carey Rose and friend of the site Michael Bonocore have been shooting with it on the road and closer to home – take a look at some sample shots.

See our Canon 85mm F1.4L IS USM
sample gallery

Categories: Photo News

Honeywell Smart Home Security System Release Date, Price and Specs - CNET

CNET Reviews - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 05:00
Honeywell's Smart Home Security System hits Indiegogo today, and it looks kind of awesome.
Categories: Photo News

Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 review - CNET

CNET Reviews - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 04:00
The Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 surround kit offers great looks and decent performance, but audio quality, especially from the sub, falls short of competitors.
Categories: Photo News

Behind the scenes: Capturing creepy Halloween wet plate portraits

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 16:55

While most people will be out experimenting with a little chemical called Ethanol on Halloween, at least one photographer decided to use some Ethyl Ether and Silver Nitrate instead. Markus Hofstaetter—whose work we've featured in the past—decided to take a few wet plate collodion portraits this Halloween, and documented the entire process in a creative 360° video.

The main shot Hofstaetter was after is actually not the hard-core looking skull portrait in the GIF at the top. Instead, he wanted to take a self-portrait in the style of Walter White "Heisenberg" of Breaking Bad.

"I feel always like him when I prepare the chemicals for my collodion wet plate process," Markus writes on his blog. He also went for an imperfect look. By not cleaning the edges of the plates after the silver bath and not cleaning the plate holder. "It's not always about perfection."

Here are a few BTS shots, the final images, and a couple of high res crops from the wet plate scans Markus sent over:

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Speaking to DPReview, Markus explained some of the particulars of his process:

I like to use trays for sanitizing my plates much more than typical silver bath tanks. That’s because mamut plates are easier to handle, the alcohol (that comes from the collodion coating into the silver bath) can easier evaporate in a tray and it’s so much easier to fill 2 Liters of nitrate back in a bottle with a tray.

All Chemicals I use are self-made and the collodion is typically done on the day before the shooting to get the plates more sensible to light. I make developer and fixer occasionally – these are very stable. The silver bath is Maintained two to three times a year.

As you can see in the video, I forgot to wear my glasses when I put the plate into the silver bath tray the first time – this is very dangerous!!! Because one drop of silver nitrate in your eye will blind you. Never happened before – but I was kind of busy with the 360 cam :(

Normally I wear masks too (the Ether in the Collodion is unhealthy), but I didn’t want to get indents on my face from the mask. You would have seen that in the picture.

To see more from Markus, be sure to visit his website, check out his blog, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Photos, GIF and Video by Markus Hofstaetter and used with permission.

Categories: Photo News

Lexar responds to rumors: will continue making XQD memory cards

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 16:21

Almost 2 weeks ago, Nikon Rumors reported that B&H Photo had discontinued Lexar's line of XQD cards. In light of Lexar's recent acquisition by Chinese flash storage manufacturer Longsys, people assumed the worst—for once, they shouldn't have.

Yesterday, Lexar responded directly to Nikon Rumors on Twitter, assuring the publication (and everyone else) that the it will continue producing XQD cards, which are currently used by some high-end Nikon DSLRs like the Nikon D5 and Nikon D850. Here's the response in full:

Hi Nikon Rumors! We will continue producing XQD cards and will fulfill B&H's inventory in a few weeks - hang tight! :)

— Lexar (@lexarmemory) October 30, 2017

Exactly what Lexar's future looks like, we still can't say. Longsys has been quiet except to say that "the innovative solutions and excellent support that they have experienced from Lexar will continue." For now, that apparently extends to XQD cards.

Categories: Photo News

Leica Q in Silver brings a new look to the compact camera

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 15:52
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Leica has announced a new silver version of the Leica Q camera, giving customers the option of buying a model featuring a silver top plate, baseplate, and silver lens. The back of the new Leica Q Silver model is black, giving the camera what Leica describes as a 'modern take' on the two-tone color arrangement.

This rendition of the Leica Q features control elements that have been given the silver touch, while the lens sports red engraved focal length numbers and distance scale. All of this is rounded out by the same high-grip pattern found on the regular model's black leather trim. The Leica Q in Silver is otherwise identical to the standard model, including its 24MP full-frame sensor.

Leica stores, boutiques and dealers will begin offering the Leica Q in Silver late next month for $4,495 (the all-black Leica Q retails for $4,250).

Press Release

Leica Camera Announces the Leica Q in Silver

A new look for the ground-breaking compact camera complements its innovation and classically elegant style

Leica Camera reimagined the photographer’s everyday camera with the Leica Q, featuring a trailblazing design, full-frame sensor, the fastest lens in its class, and an interface for easy and intuitive handling. Today, Leica Camera announces a new style for the same innovative technology that many photographers now call their favorite Leica camera yet – the Leica Q (Typ 116) Silver Anodized.

DESIGN

A silver top plate, silver baseplate and silver lens create a striking appearance for this new version of the Leica Q, while the rear of the camera is a sleek and refined black – achieving a modern take on the classic silver and black two-tone look. The characteristic, high-grip pattern of the standard Leica Q black leather trim has been maintained, while the control elements are redesigned with a silver finish. Red engravings of the distance (feet) scale and the focal length numbers on the lens add a colorful accent to the classic look of the camera.

Functional elements within the Leica Q are designed clearly and logistically, for optimum efficiency. For example, the Leica Q control menu provides rapid access to all essential controls and enables users to program personalized settings.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

The technical specifications of the silver Leica Q are identical to those of the standard black model. Its incredibly fast lens (the Leica Summilux 28 mm f/1.7 ASPH.) and full-frame sensor (24 megapixels) make the Leica Q a perfect tool for street photography and low light, as well as architecture and landscape shots. An integrated high resolution electronic viewfinder (3.68 megapixels) offers photographers reliable control of their composition. These features, full HD video capabilities, Wi-Fi integration and more ensure that even the finest details of every subject are captured in a snap, and easily accessible at all times.

The Leica Q in Silver will be available at Leica boutiques, stores, and dealers at the end of November 2017.

Categories: Photo News

Macphun has changed its name to 'Skylum' now that it's not Mac-only

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 15:25

Macphun—the Mac-based software company that launched about seven years ago—branched out onto the Windows platform this year with the debut of its HDR and Luminar products for PC. In light of that, Macphun has decided to change its name to the platform-agnostic moniker Skylum, explaining in a blog post that, "we think that this name is a better fit, since we’re no longer a Mac-only developer."

The company will fully transition to the Skylum name in early 2018.

Categories: Photo News

Novoflex introduces electronic lens reversing system for Sony E-Mount

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 15:20

German accessories manufacturer Novoflex has launched a version of its Retro Reverse Adapters for the Sony E-mount system. The adapter allows users to reverse-mount lenses for macro shooting while maintaining full electronic control of the lens via the body controls.

The system works by using a pair of cable-connected rings that communicate information from the camera to the rear of the lens, even when it is mounted away from the body.

Reversing a lens is a quick way of achieving macro and close-up abilities, but Sony E-mount lenses need to be connected to the camera to operate at apertures other than the widest. This adapter, which has been available for Canon EOS users for some years, allows the lens to be mounted in reverse with no loss of control or EXIF information.

The adapter also allows a bellows unit to be fitted between the camera and any Sony E lens, reversed or not, for extra-high magnification work while still maintaining contact between lens and body.

The Novoflex NEX-RETRO will retail for $440/£309/€350. For more information, visit the Novoflex website.

Press Release

Sony Users Now GO RETRO with NOVOFLEX!

New NEX-RETRO from NOVOFLEX

Allows users with Sony E-Mount cameras (e.g. Sony Alpha 7/Alpha 9 series, Alpha 6000 series, etc.) to reverse mount their existing lenses to achieve closer focus. NEX-RETRO transfers all electronic functions such as aperture control, EXIF data and autofocus, from the reversed lens to the camera body as if it were mounted directly.

Look More Closely

With a 18-105 mm zoom lens in reverse position, you get an image ratio of 1:7 at 105 mm and 2.8:1 at 28 mm expanding the versatility of your zoom lens exponentially. The adapter itself has a 58mm filter thread. Stepping rings are available for other filter sizes.

The Common Thread

In addition to reversing the lens on the camera, NEX-RETRO allows the Sony E-Mount system user to incorporate NOVOFLEX bellows systems for even closer focus and greater magnification ratios.

Highlights

  • Bring to life the finest details: NEX-RETRO allows reverse mounting of Sony E-mount lenses for close focus macro applications.
  • No compromise in flexibility: NEX-RETRO retains complete electronic functionality between Sony E-mount lenses and bodies.
  • Precision engineering: NEX-RETRO is the perfect tool to make the perfect picture even better.
Categories: Photo News

Rylo 4K 360° camera uses a one-tap app to produce cinematic videos

DP Review Latest news - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 15:00

Launched today by a company of the same name, Rylo is a 360-degree camera that uses some nifty software to produce "beautiful, cinematic video" that is "impossibly smooth." You just focus on shooting, and Rylo can just about handle the rest.

Rylo relies heavily on companion software that makes it possible to transform the raw 360-degree content into smooth videos, including ones that follow specific points of interest or that track a specific object. The camera can also be used to generate stabilized, moving time-lapse videos.

The portable little camera features integrated horizon leveling and stabilization to produce smooth videos in the absence of a stabilization rig, something possible "no matter the conditions," according to the company. To capture the raw 360° video it uses a pair of lenses—one on the front and the other on the back—both with a 208-degree FOV and fixed F2.8 aperture. Content is captured as 4K 360° 30fps footage and can be output in a variety of ways: from 6K 360 panoramic photos, to 4K 360° video, to standard 1080p.

Rylo includes a 16GB microSD card for storage, but supports cards with capacities up to 256GB. Other features include an anodized aluminum alloy body, small OLED display, and a single button for both powering on the device and recording. The internal rechargeable battery supports about 60 minutes of continuous recording.

But the specs aren't the key thing here; Rylo really shines when coupled with its related software and all of the features it enables.

The company bills its product as a way for anyone to shoot and produce cinematic video. "The combination of Rylo's hardware and software gives anyone the confidence and creative freedom to get the perfect shot every time," company CEO Alex Karpenko explained in a press release.

After capturing footage, the user plugs the camera into the smartphone where the companion mobile app automatically offers one-tap options to edit the video. This process reduces the editing time from hours to minutes, according to the company. Whether that final footage is as good as the footage "hours" would have produced is, of course, dependent on your skill as a video editor.

Here's a quick intro that shows you how this impressive little camera works:

Rylo is only available through the Rylo website in the US for now, but will arrive soon on Amazon. The camera costs $500 USD and will start shipping next month.

Categories: Photo News

First iPhone X hands-on field test with sample photos

DP Review Latest news - 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

DP Review Latest news - 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.

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