Feb 232016
 

I really got quite excited at first after learning about the new DL-line of compact cameras from Nikon all set to be delivered by June 2016 at comparatively modest prices. One inch sensor technology packed into cool looking compact camera bodies with lenses that sound up to the task and even a touch screen to top things up. Finally Nikon got the message…that was my first reaction. Then I caught up with the news. They left out the built-in EVF on both the Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 and the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8.

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By golly, it happened again. IMHO otherwise great new cameras have been crippled (without incorporating an EVF) and left to be more or less mediocre compared to products from competing companies. Maybe that is just me. But this will make it easy for Sony to remain in the driving seat. Even more so when they update the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV this year. That well established top-of-the-line professional compact camera already features a swell electronic viewfinder (EVF) that hardly leaves anything left to be desired. Now, if they could only make that LCD a touch screen…But if you ask me – I would gladly sacrifice the touch screen functionality for a decent EVF  – built-in of course and not only available as an accessory. That does not only leave the new Nikon cams a little too expensive for my taste (RRP without optional external EVF ranging from € 769 for the Nikon DL24-85 f/1.8-2.8 to € 959 for the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8) but also makes these photo tools much more difficult to handle and above all cumbersome to carry and stow away.

If you have no use for electronic viewfinders and are happy shooting the way you are used to from your smart phone, these two compact Nikon cameras may be what you desire nonetheless. The lenses seem to offer a great package after all and especially the Nikon DL18-50 f/1.8-2.8 is quite unique at this point in time. 4K-video and state of the art auto focus are nice features after all. The new small DL cameras kind of remind me of the old Nikon Coolpix A – but with zoom lenses instead of fixed prime ultra wide. See my article here.

Images: Nikon Corp.

Images: Nikon Corp.

Nikon still seems to fear cannibalism when it comes to their DSLR cameras. But would customers really be put off from buying a Nikon DLSR because of a readily available Nikon compact with built-in EVF? Would there be a stampede killing off all DSLRs driving potential buyers towards mirrorless offerings? Read this if you fear the end is near 😉 .

ARGH…

 

 

Need any more infos? Check out the Nikon press release here.

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.

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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.

 

Sep 252015
 

The new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are out and many of us are debating the question whether or not the top notch smart phones will be good enough for day to day use photography.

The simple facts and numbers may not overwhelm. But Apple has increased the resolution of the rear camera from 8 to 12 megapixels sporting a smaller 1,22 µm pixel size which means that sensor dimensions are basically the same compared to the previous iPhone 6/iphone 6 Plus and iPhone 5s at 1/3” sensor size. This makes for better photo quality since the higher megapixel count gives better overall resolution. The number of phase detection sensors on the chip has also been increased by 50% which makes the new iPhone focus pretty fast and neat. And when you look at the pictures the device can produce…wow. They seem a lot better than what some compacts managed to spit out only a year or two ago.

Can the latest iPhones replace the DSLR or semi-professional mirrorless solutions?

Of course not. But can they be a sufficient substitute for current compacts? That question may be more difficult to decide. When you look at top of the line compact cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark IV – well, there is no contest to be fair. The Sony with its 1 inch stacked sensor, much more versatile 24-70mm equivalent lens and better low light performance plus 4K video with uncompressed HDMI output will blow the phone out of the water. But the new iPhones will give a good fight for the money when going up against low to mid-level compacts or even compared to some of the more pricy gadgets.

                                 See Apple for detailed technical specifications of the new iPhones.

Naturally, the new iPhones will not be able to satisfy in all photographic situations. The small sensor size and the tiny lens alone make that impossible. And one thing I found was dreadful: the backlit scenes…well, let`s not talk about the results. You simply have to go and get your bigger sensor camera for something with ill lighting. And forget about the flash to compensate in this case. It is hard to notice the difference against backlit scenes – it is just not powerful enough.

But the facts are quite simple. Most of us like to carry as little equipment with as little bulk and weight as possible – especially when traveling. So the new iPhone makes a great companion for daily use. A cam that is ready anytime you want because you carry your phone most of the time anyway. When you do make a trip with the big guns (e.g. DSLR or mirrorless) the new iPhone is good for candid shots, as a backup or for great 4K video with 30 frames per second. The new iPhone 6s Plus also features optical image stabilization not only for photos but now even for video. That can hardly be topped unless you decide to use more substantial and far more expensive video equipment.

Many DSLR and mirrorless cameras only currently work with Full-Hd resolution. There is a lot of catching up to do for Canon and Nikon and the like. And would you carry a big camera plus high end compact alongside a device as capable as the new iPhone? Most likely overkill for most people – probably all in all not really a very sensible solution considering limited space in e.g. a backpack. So the iPhone has a lot going for it as an ever ready camera and no doubt will take another big bite from the camera market. It will sell like hot cakes – as usual…

It will not be the death of the DSLR (also see my previous article) or other bigger sensor cameras but many casual photographers might be confident enough with the results to eventually ditch their heavy equipment and settle for the one camera that will probably do the job 80% of the time: the new iPhone 6s/iPhone 6s Plus.

Any chance you might swap heavy gearbags for the new Apple device?

Apr 302014
 

Lupico_140225__FXE4245-2The new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M3 is going to be even hotter than anticipated. See my earlier post here. Digicameinfo reported on a leaked manual probably showing a significant change in lens design (see this link).

Sonyalpha Rumors also has a current update on all earlier rumors. It seems the new camera will be announced tomorrow May 1. Update: Will be announced at a later date (probably mid of May). According to the rumor site Sony indeed designed the lens with an equivalent of 24mm at the wide end and even managed to make it a lot faster (f/1.8-2.8) at the cost of ending up at 70mm at the long end. See this link to get the details there.

A few things I mentioned in my post end of February seem not to have made it to the finished product though. Whilst the screen will probably be tiltable, there is no mention of a touch functionality. The reason for this is the rumored integrated EVF. If true, this is big news indeed! The previous Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 is a magnificent little camera as it stands. With the EVF included with most other technical specifications left untouched (including body size and sensor), IMHO the competition will be left in the dust.

Sony leaving out the 4K video would be a bit of a disappointment but the rumored XAVC S format is not that bad either.

Another home run for Sony so it seems. But it won’t come cheap. Maybe it is time to get a good deal on a previous version RX100 – if you can resist the temptation of buying the new premium compact camera with the built-in EVF.

Feb 282014
 

I know a lot of folks like the looks of the Nikon 1 V2 (or Nikon V1 or J models for that matter) and are quite happy they have a great array of interchangeable lenses they can choose from. It is a nice camera for what it does. It is small and sleek, fast and handles quite well. The bulky looking EVF may put some people off – but at least it has got one. If you prefer not to have this EVF Nikon offers the option to buy a Nikon 1 J2 without EVF. So everyone should be be happy with that…

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Image of Nikon 1 V2 back: Nikon Corp.

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Image of Nikon 1 V2 top: Nikon Corp.

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Image of Nikon 1 V2 front: Nikon Corp.

 

Personally, I have tried it and liked the feel of it. But there is one thing I cannot understand. Why is Nikon limiting this camera to a 1 inch sensor? Why not develop an ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) and incorporate a trusted APS-C size sensor? The smallish body size probably could be maintained. Other manufacturers like Sony and Fujifilm have proven as much.

Well, the answer may be very simple. The sales of DSLR cameras. IMO there would be no real reason to choose an equivalent DSLR if there was an ILC that basically can do the same thing.

There is even talk of a new Nikon 1 V3 coming out in a few weeks time. According to Nikon Rumors this cam will be much of the same internally, have a rebuilt camera body that leaves out the integrated EVF (probably offering an external EVF instead – only optionally available so it seems 🙁 ) .

I never quite understood why anyone would choose an ILC with a comparably small sensor over a compact camera like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100M2 (Mark II or coming Mark III). If you can make do with such a small sensor (which is not that bad at all) why would you have to have interchangeable lenses? OK, it has got super fast AF and start-up time, loads of fps…but who needs that in combination with a 1″ sensor? It does not make sense to me. But as always your mileage may vary.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100M2 handles well, is quite a bit smaller and has a 1″ sensor that can more or less equal the one of the Nikon 1.  The lens covers most peoples needs (especially considering the compact size) with an equivalent 35mm focal range of 28-100mm and a fairly fast f/1.8 maximum aperture which is quite good in low-light providing shallow enough depth-of-field for adequate subject isolation in most cases.  Simply put: the lens delivers excellent results too.

 

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The anticipated new Sony Cyber-shot RX100M3 (or Mark 3) will have a few surprises in store and be hard to match spec-wise. Take a look at my earlier article at this link if you are interested. It will fight a hard battle against the rumored Nikon 1 V3 that will probably be announced in a short while too.

I know what I would choose. Do you?

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