Feb 052016
 

So you have seen the new press clippings and the new FUJIFILM X-Pro2 seems to be quite a monster of a camera. Should you still need the official news get hold of the link right here. If you are into Fuji stuff at all, this cam might just be the ticket. But wait…isn`t there a follow-up or refresh on the horizon for the great FUJIFILM X-T1? Sure there is!

Being a great fan of the X-T1 myself, I simply cannot get all too excited about the announcement of the X-Pro2. It has a few new features that would be nice to have. But some of these new features will probably make it to the X-T2 as well. The new 24.3MP X-TRans CMOS III sensor (or even a more recent update – see below), the joystick to quickly select AF-points and the dual card slot for SD-cards are most likely all set.

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It boils down to whether or not you like to rather have the OVF or rather an additional hybrid viewfinder and look through the eye cup without smudging your nose against the screen (X-Pro2) or if you prefer the centered position of the EVF which will probably get updated with even faster refresh rates limiting blackout times after shutter release to a negligible limit (X-T2). It is mostly ergonomics we are talking about. The look and feel – the individual preferences each photographer obviously has.

 

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But there is one more aspect to consider. The FUJIFILM X-T2 will probably not be released before the fall of 2016. By that time it is not unlikely that Sony will have given other companies access to their brand new 24MP sensor technology (e.g. that can be found in the new Sony Alpha A6300 – see my article here). Should Fuji use and adept this new sensor for the XT-2, this would further boost resolution and high ISO capabilities of the new cam. And of course the FUJIFILM X-T2 should also have a decent 4K video option on board. No doubt in my mind, the X-T2 will become the new FUJIFILM flagship. The X-Pro2 will then still be a good buy for all photographers who prefer the rangefinder experience. In any case, it is nice to have the choice.

 

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Images: FUJIFILM Corporation

Feb 042016
 

Alpha 6300 von Sony_04Sony has just announced its new top of the line APS-C camera. The new Sony Alpha A6300 will probably be available by March this year and as usual Sony is quick to remark the new cam will not replace the current Sony Alpha A6000 but rather complement it. Yeah…just wait until the stock is gone 🙂

The big question is: Can Sony lure enough professional photographers and enthusiasts alike away from worn-out equipment (as if it would make any difference to any of us how much equipment already filled the racks… 😉) and make them glow with excitement looking at the new top-notch APS-C marvel? Does it have all the bells and whistles potential buyers were hoping for?

Sony did not make any significant changes to the camera body – at least not very obvious ones. There are no real breathtaking ergonomical advantages – although the new body is now supposed to be made of improved magnesium alloy with weather sealing that is going to be better in preventing dirt and moisture from entering the precious.

Alpha 6300 von Sony_07

 

Images: Sony Corporation

Images: Sony Corporation

Not even the rumored touch screen was implemented. For many that alone may be a reason not to upgrade from previous Sony bodies. But of course there are loads of new arguments for restless photographers to do just that. Apart from the newly developed 24MP APS-C sensor that promises less noise and better resolution, the Sony Alpha A6300 will also sport an even faster autofocus with 425 phase detection and 169 contrast detection points. So you can now autofocus within 0.05 seconds. Then again, you would probably not be too put off comparing that to the “old” Sony A6000 with 0.06 seconds.

An updated EVF and LCD screen and (almost) uninterrupted live view, increased sensitivity range to ISO 51.200 are all welcome additions or rather upgrades. Apart from that the new Sony A6300 also manages to shoot video in 4K (at 120fps) with near Super 35mm size and full pixel read-out, S-log3 and lo and behold (something that was missing on the Sony A6000) an external microphone input.

Will that be enough to conquer new customers or make Sony fans upgrade from previous models? Only time (and sales statistics) will tell. No doubt the new camera is a nice one and can probably hold its own against the fierce competition from both the DSLR and mirrorless crowd. Priced at € 1.249 for the body alone it is going to be tough to sell next to the old Sony Alpha A6000 though. That proven photo tool can meanwhile be had for less than half of that.

Summing it up: Quite a nice cam with incremental changes – but with no real new surprise features. Nothing to write home about. It seems obvious Sony is holding back on revolutionary tech-features…probably simply because…they can. There frankly seems no real need for anything mindboggling yet. The competition (many dependent on Sony sensor technology) has not really made any attempts to leapfrog. Good for Sony.

Interested in the official Sony press release? Then klick here.

 

Jun 252013
 

Lupico_130625_Fujixm1-05So now Fujifilm has decided to shrink the X too. By omitting the Electronic Viewinder (EVF) the body size was reduced substantially making it far more compact than the next of kin Fujifilm X-Pro1 and XE-1. New features have been added and operator controls have been simplified to make the camera more attractive for casual shooters. This will make it a direct competitor to the popular Sony NEX-5R and all the other more basic compact Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) aimed at entry-level photographers and enthusiasts who appreciate more pocketable solutions.

In their news release Fujfilm describes the new camera quite adequately: “Compact and lightweight, the X-M1 offers enhanced operability whilst bringing the outstanding design, picture quality and performance of the multi-award-winning Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras not only to photo enthusiasts but also to a broader scope of users.”

 

The basic specs:

  • 16.3 MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • lightweight and very compact body (when compared to XE-1 and X-Pro 1)
  •  3″ LCD screen with 920K dot high definition (tiltable)
  • built in flash plus hot shoe
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Full HD Video at 30fps
  • 49 point AF
  • In-camera RAW processing
  • film simulations modes and advanced art filters
  • Q button for quick view of frequently-used menus
  • built-in Wi-Fi for easy image transfer to smart phones and tablets
  • available in black, silver and brown
  • on sale from August 2013 for €679/$799.95 body only  (also offered bundled with Fujinon lenses)

 

Lupico_130625_Fujixm1-02

 

Fuji has finally jumped on the bandwagon and now goes without a viewfinder as well. Apart from that, another feature has been omitted from the new line of lenses that have been announced with the camera. Both the Fujinon XC 16-50 f/3.5-5.6 OIS and the new pancake Fujinon XF 27 f/2.8 R now come without aperture rings. According to Fujifilm this was again done to achieve compact and light dimensions.

This may disappoint a few of the Fuji followers who celebrated the X line of cameras for their great professional-like operability but may indeed attract a new clientele. Prospective customers who otherwise might have chosen smaller size Micro Four Thirds or Sony NEX products, now may think twice and go for the superb retro design.

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Lupico_130524_X-M1_Silver_Back

With the X-Trans CMOS sensor the new Fujifilm X-M1 will again deliver outstanding image quality. A tiltable screen for nicer on-screen previews and Wi-Fi to enable quick and easy transfer of photos and videos to mobile devices and computers are features that are highly welcome. Small dimensions and the ability for one-handed camera operation makes the camera more attractive as an alternative to point and shoots or as a backup device to accompany DSLRs or existing Fujifim X series cameras. This new product might steal some more market share away from previously dominant top dog manufacturers. Especially Nikon with its 1-inch sensor mirrorless offerings may lose out on sales in future. There are no preeminent size benefits to justify small sensors anymore. Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and now Fujifilm show headfirst what can be achieved using great sensor technology coupled with highly appealing design. Nikon may not want to jeopardize DSLR sales but they will have to watch their back. DSLR-class image quality is now possible in a far more compact package. Check my article on the death of the DSLR.

Will I buy a Fujifilm XM-1? I am not sure yet. I am addicted to the use of a high quality viewfinder and will probably stick with my Fujifilm XE-1 for now. But the pancake might fit the bill to make the X more pocketable. Shame they got rid of the aperture ring though…

All images: Fujifilm Holdings Corporation

All images: Fujifilm Holdings Corporation

 

 

Jun 112013
 
Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG


The new Leica camera proclaimed as „Mini M“ has finally been unveiled. It is called the Leica X Vario (also denoted as Typ 107). A big marketing campaign with teasers of a closed box opening a little bit further each time as the campaign unraveled created a lot of buzz. Loads of speculative threads appeared on the net and Leica fans got all excited.

There were great expectations that finally there would be a Leica product that could compete with the likes of the Fuji X100s or even the Sony RX1. There were numerous rumors and hopes went high. The “Mini M” might be full frame, incorporate a viewfinder and feature a fast fixed lens. None of that came true.

A strangely leaked iPad image with specs far ahead of todays announcement was seen as fake by many – because it did not seem possible that Leica might be sandbagging that much.

In my own article I spoke about the notion the “Mini M” could appear in the dress of a Leica X2 featuring an APS-C sensor. I never would have thought Leica might put a bulky and slow fixed zoom lens on the camera though. But as it turns out, this highly anticipated new Leica product seems to be just like that – no more nice prime. Maybe the new cam will appease its critics with outstanding image quality. It is supposed to have a newly developed 16,2 MP sensor. Will it be a gigantic leap in sensor technology with superior low light performance eliminating noise at high ISO settings like nothing we have seen before? Hmmm…

 

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG


These are the basic specs of the new Leica X Vario

  • 16.5 (16.2 effective) MP CMOS APS-C sensor
  • Leica Vario-Elmar f/3.5-6.4 18-46mm (28-70 equivalent) fixed zoom lens
  • contrast-based AF with face detection
  • 3“ TFT LCD monitor
  • 1920 x 1080 Full-HD video (30 fps)
  • HDMI out
  • Lightroom 5 included (free download after camera registration)
  • price €2.450/$2.850)
  • available in Leica stores from today

More detailed information can be found following the link to Leica Camera AG.

 

Image: Leica AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image:  Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

 

Good thing I still have my Fuji XE-1. It has a great 16MP sensor too. But it also features interchangeable lenses and a very nice electronic viewfinder plus image stabilization included in many of the lenses. I cannot imagine why anyone would choose the new „Mini M“ when there are cameras around that are quite similar in size with far better features and pretty much equal quality – at a far lower price. The Fuji XE-1 bundled with the excellent Fujinon XF 18-55 f2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom only costs around €1.299/$1.199). For the Leica you will have to pay almost twice that much (also consider the additional costs for buying the external viewfinder at around €400/$500 and the not included lens hood at €100/$140).

Opinions may vary and there may be people who appreciate such a zoom lens on a camera like that. The new Leica X Vario is quite good looking and it does indeed resemble the Leica M Typ 240 in a way. The build quality (“Made in Germany”) will most probably be superb too. Still, in my book this camera is a missed opportunity for Leica. It lacks a full frame sensor, a built-in EVF and a fast prime lens. If Leica had only incorporated one of these three features, the new „Mini M“ might have had a „raison d’être“ for me – but as it goes this new Leica camera is somewhat disappointing.

May 232013
 

Leica today announced that it is going to add a new “family member” to the M line of cameras. They are teasing on their website and on Facebook with the image you can see below. A new Mini M does not come as a complete surprise but the timing of the announcement might have caught a few Leica followers off-guard.

The question is, what will the new camera have to offer? It is slotted right in between the full-frame M and the X2. This new Mini M could well be the highly anticipated APS-C version of an M-mount camera with Live View, maybe even featuring the previously missing built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder).

The OVF (optical viewfinder) would remain available only in the “big M” but all the M glass could still be strapped on. This is the most likely scenario although there are a huge number of Leica fans who would pray for a full-frame version of the “big M” with only the rangefinder removed in favor of a built-in EVF (see my report on the M Typ 240 for details on that). Either way, it should make the Mini M more affordable and it could serve as an ideal backup body for many.

Of course there is also a slight chance of the new Mini M appearing in the dress of the X2 with a fixed lens, APS-C and possibly a built-in EVF. This might not produce cheers all around but nevertheless it might put Leica back on track to counter the sales of cameras such as the Fuji X100s and Sony RX1. If it had the full-frame sensor of the M Typ 240 it too would be very well received (assuming it was priced accordingly). We will find out – in less than 3 weeks time…

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

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