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…

V2_BK_back.low

Image of Nikon 1 V2 back: Nikon Corp.

V2_10_30_WH_top.low

Image of Nikon 1 V2 top: Nikon Corp.

V2_10_30_BK_front.low

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.

 

Lupico_140225__FXE4245

 

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?

Feb 252014
 

No doubt there is going to be a follow up to the very popular and highly successful Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M2 sometime this year, probably in late summer. But what will it be?

How will the coming Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M3 (i.e. Mark III) be able to outperform the currently available Mark 2 (i.e. Mark II) and more importantly the competition?

Some people in the know are already hinting at the possible features – although things are still under development and there might even be last minute changes. It all depends on market development and things can change quite rapidly nowadays.

So, I won`t be singing “I heard it through the grapevine” just yet. Take everything with a huge grain of salt. But there are some specifications that are so very likely, that you might consider them if you are on the brink of buying your next pocket camera.

Lupico_140225__FXE4245

Image of the current Mark 2. What will be changed?


Added or improved features:

  • Touch screen 
    This is overdue. Users are demanding touch functionality equivalent to e.g. the Sony NEX-5n. The question is: will the screen be fully articulate or be equivalent to the version used on the Mark 2?
  • GPS
    No camera in this segment of the market should go without GPS anymore. Highly probable to be added in the Mark 3.
  • Lens with 24mm equivalent wide angle setting instead of the 28mm starting point
    This is difficult to achieve if you have compact size in mind. But Sony probably will not disappoint here. It remains to be seen if the zoom range will also be bettered on the long end. This is rather unlikely. As is an improved f-stop. The camera was not designed for pro purposes but rather for high end enthusiasts. It all comes down to size over features.
  • 4k video
    Even some of the mobile phones from Sony are expected to have 4k video in 2014. It would be a pity, if this feature would be left out in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M3 (Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III).
Lupico_140225__FXE4244

Cyber-shot touch screen?

 

Anything else? Likely. The 1″ sensor of the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark III could be tweaked a little and the knobs could be refined a bit. The overall body size and weight will change ever so slightly. In all probability nothing really surprising to be seen here.

 

Lupico_140225__FXE4243

Any more bells and whistles for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M3?

 

To sum things up: evolution rather than revolution. Then again, the anticipated changes might turn the new Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100M3 into a dream machine for all those enthusiasts looking for a backup camera or one they can take everywhere in a shirt pocket.

One more thing. Obviously the naming might still be altered. Sony has already done some changes in their lineup by killing the NEX name. It should not come as a complete surprise if the new Cyber-shot will be called “RX200” just to show there is more to it than the usual “same procedure as every year” updating scheme. Very likely we will see more rumors soon. Watch out for the month of July. The mist will clear up by then.

But don´t take my word for it 😉 .

Jun 272013
 

Lupico_130423_DSC-RX1R von Sony_09


Sony has announced an updated version of their very popular full frame compact camera Sony DSC-RX1. The new Sony DSC-RX1R will come without an optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter which promises even sharper images. The R-version will also support Sony`s proprietary TRILUMINOS color technology. The latter lets you enjoy expanded color gamut on any TV equipped with a compatible display. That is about all that has been updated. The previous Cyber-shot model featuring the optical low pass filter on the sensor will be kept available alongside the new offer. Both will have the same price tag. Consumers will have to decide which version they prefer.

 

The basic specs of the new Sony DSC-RX1R:

  • 24.3 MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • no low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter
  • Zeiss Sonnar T * 35mm f/2 lens
  • 3″ LCD screen (1.229.000 dot resolution)
  • built in flash
  • hot shoe for external flash or viewfinder
  • Auto HDR feature
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Full HD 1080p Video (24 or 60fps)
  • high speed AF
  • up to 5fps burst speed (full frame)
  • on sale from August 2013 for €3.099/$2798

 

This new R-version (of a camera that has already received a lot of praise for its outstanding image quality) is a welcome little update. Removing the anti-aliasing filter is a clever move too. No doubt it will entice a few photographers who did not pull the trigger yet and were waiting for an early update. Removing the filter seems quite in vogue nowadays. Since Nikon did it with the Nikon D800E consumers are raving about having cameras without the anti-aliasing filter. It promises sharper images at the price of possible difficulties with artifacts such as moire. For the most part this can easily be compensated for in post processing. So this is no big deal unless you want to use the Sony primarily for videos. With only a fixed 35mm lens attached this would be highly unusual anyway.

 

Lupico_130416_DSC-RX1R von Sony_01Lupico_130416_DSC-RX1R von Sony_06

 

Basically the Sony DSC-RX1 and Sony DSC-RX1R can boldly be described as high end point and shoots. But the full frame sensor makes both camera models quite unique. The only 35mm non-DSLR camera that comes close in resolution and image quality is the Leica M Typ 240 (see my previous review). With the AA filter now removed the Sony DSC-RX1R might easily trump that nice piece of German engineering. We will have to see a real comparison to confirm this. According to Dpreview (see their report) the new Sony DSC-RX1R does have the edge over the older Cyber-shot RX1 when it comes to sharpness with a slight but noticeable increase in resolution.

The new Sony may not be what most photo geeks were craving for. No doubt a full frame compact mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses is in the pipeline and Sony will probably be releasing it as early as the end of 2014 – but nonetheless the incremental update of the fixed lens full frame camera will fill the void until then. No other manufacturer has yet had the cojones to produce a camera like that. This leaves Sony with quite a unique selling point with no competition anywhere in sight. The price may be high for point and shoots in general but compared to inferior offerings in the same price range this cam seems like a steal. Just look at the Leica X Vario (see my article). This may be a nice enough camera on its own but in my opinion you would have to be a very passionate Leica follower to prefer an APS-C camera with a slow fixed zoom lens rather than to choose a full frame offering featuring a superb 35mm Zeiss lens all coming in at about the same price.

 

Lupico_130423_DSC-RX1R von Sony_10

 

The only thing to beef about is the lack of a built-in viewfinder. For me this is a no-go. It does not seem to bother most people though. If you don`t mind squinting your eyes in bright light or if you can afford to pay around €400/$450 for the optional external viewfinder Sony EV1MK, the Sony DSC-RX1R may be just what you have been looking for. Maybe the previous version will come down in price over time. Bargain hunters will be on the prowl soon.

 

Lupico_130625_DSC-RX1R_DSC-RX1 von Sony

All images: Sony Corporation

May 152013
 


According to Olympus, their newly announced mirrorless E-P5 is an homage to the PEN F which was one of the milestones for the company 50 years ago. Back then the PEN F happened to be one of the smallest portable film cameras with interchangeable lenses and quite affordable compared to bulkier SLR systems at the time.

The E-P5 wants to follow in the footsteps of its great ancestor offering the latest digital camera technology in a retro-design lightweight all-metal body. Indeed, Olympus takes pride in proclaiming the “best-ever image quality achieved by a PEN“.

These are some of the basic specs:

  • seamless full-metal body design with no visible screws
  • 16MP CMOS sensor (same as E-M5)
  • 2 x 2 Dial Control system with 2 metal dials and a switch for full manual control
  • new mechanical shutter allowing speeds up to 1/8000th second
  • up to 9 frames per second burst mode
  • focus peaking
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • fast auto focus with Super Spot AF and Touch Shutter AF
  • high resolution touch LCD (approx. 1 million dot resolution)
  • built-in flash
  • WiFi with smartphone interactivity
  • priced at € 999 / $ 1.399 body only and available from June 2013
  • bundle with optional viewfinder VF-4 and 17mm f1.8 lens possible

ID: 3586

 

The listed specs show this camera has a lot going for it. When comparing the OM-D E-M5 to this newly announced E-P5 you can`t help but notice the PEN is the technologically more advanced camera. It incorporates WiFi, focus peaking and a higher resolution touch screen. The mechanical shutter with speeds up to 1/8000 will be a good enough reason for many to choose the latest PEN as their go-to camera or as a backup to rival even the latest DSLRs. High speed can be of great benefit when wider apertures need to be used in bright lighting conditions or if motion freeze is of importance (e.g. when shooting sports).

ID: 3554

 

The OM-D has something up its sleeve though: It has the built-in EVF most serious photographers demand. And it has to be considered that the PEN will be a lot less pocketable with the separate viewfinder on top. But for most users the 3“ tilt-angle screen with its 1 million dot resolution will probably be all that is needed to check for composition. Personally I do not fancy cameras without built-in EVF or OVF – but many people just do not care or even see the external viewfinder as an advantage e.g. because it can easily be upgraded to newer versions when they appear on the market.

ID: 3602 ID: 3865

 

The OM-D also has weather sealing and might eventually come a little cheaper than the E-P5 when bought with the additional VF-4. If you want the best of both worlds you will have to hang around for the OM-D successor or the rumored OM-D pro, one of which might appear late 2013 or early next year. That is, if you are into Micro Four Thirds at all and don`t need bigger sensors for even better resolution.

But resolution and pixel peeping is not what Micro Four Thirds is all about. It is more about size and speed and this is where the new EP-5 excels. Apart from the above mentioned shutter speeds this PEN also features incredibly fast contrast detect auto focus. Choosing a very small AF point will enable very high precision focussing with minimal shutter lag. This is very useful when doing macro photography.

Users of Apple or Android smart phones will be able to operate the camera remotely. It will even be possible to embed GPS information using the Olympus Image Share 2.0 software.

The current range of Olympus lenses for Micro Four Thirds

When it comes to lenses for mirrorless systems, there is nothing like Micro Four Thirds. Favorite focal lengths can be picked from a wide pool of more than 40 lenses not only made by Olympus but also produced by Panasonic (who jointly developed Micro Four Thirds with Olympus). Aside from that there are numerous third party lenses available from Tamron, Sigma, Voigtlander and other manufacturers.

 

Manual focus can be a lot more precise with the added Focus Peaking finally also made available in this Olympus camera. Manual control of the camera should be a breeze in general. Olympus uses dual function thumbwheels on the rear and front of the camera. This „2×2 dial control“ also comprises a switch that enables choosing 2 different settings alternately. If you get to know your way around you can easily switch between iso and white balance or aperture and exposure time setting for example.

Shooters that prefer not to do too much in post processing will enjoy the numerous digital art filters or scene modes such as Cross Process and High Key. Not to forget video: H.264 stereo recording with a resolution up to 1920 x 1080 (30p) is possible and should be adequate for most non-professional filming needs.

 

All in all this little cam could be just the ticket for fans of Micro Four Thirds. The stylish metal body design without visible screws (except for on the base of the camera) will appeal to photography enthusiasts that are not easily attracted to more modern looking designs (e.g. Sony NEX) and prefer full manual control and tech features that can usually only be found on much larger DSLRs.

May 082013
 

Nikon Coolpix A (photo: Nikon Corp.)


I have been looking for a nice little cam to serve as backup when I am out and about carrying my DSLR equipment or my Leica M gear. I usually do not have much space in my bag, so I am in need of a very compact solution. Of course sometimes I do not want to carry anything big at all (let alone a camera bag) and only wish for a reliable and capable small cam to slip into my back pocket. Well, could this be it, the Nikon Coolpix A?

The specs sound impressive for such a small package:

  • 16.2 MP CMOS sensor (DX-format)
  • 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) f/2.8 retractable lens with manual focus ring
  • 3.0“ (7.5 cm) 921k-dot LCD monitor
  • aluminum alloy body (top surface covered by magnesium alloy)
  • mode dial for manual exposure control (PASM) and U1/U2 personalized settings
  • RAW shooting mode
  • approx. 4 frames per second continuous shooting
  • optional optical viewfinder and wireless mobile adapter
  • 1920 x 1080/30p Full HD video recording
  • current price around € 950 / $ 1.100

The new fixed lens compact camera Nikon Coolpix A shows that Nikon is capable of putting an APS-C size sensor into a very compact camera body. Especially in black it looks quite sleek and straight forward and comes with nearly all the bells and whistles serious shooters demand. Previous Nikon users will feel right at home with the GUI i.e. the menu settings, which look much like the ones on Nikon DSLRs. The mode dial makes selecting your favorite settings easy, even incorporating the special user settings U1/U2, which come in handy when you do not want to fumble with controls all day and just want to reset to your own preferences.

Nikon Coolpix A mode dial (photo: Nikon Corp.)

Nikon Coolpix A screen (photo: Nikon Corp.)

Image quality is also much like what you would achieve with the latest 16 MP Nikon DSLRs. But of course being a compact, it is using a fixed 18,5mm lens (which is the equivalent of 28mm). This focal length is quite demanding and may not be suited for everyone. A 35mm lens would have been more mainstream.

Some of the photo blogging luminaries have begun putting the „A“ through its paces and have written extensive reviews. You can have a look at some of the mostly favorable opinions following my link pick to Ming Thein and Steve Huff.

So, this little Nikon should not be a bad camera at all. In fact it would be quite terrific for my use – if it had an electronic viewfinder (EVF) and interchangeable lenses to go with it. But of course it has not. Instead Nikon is trying to enthuse with a very compact camera featuring a comparably large sized sensor. But it is not the only fish in the pond. The recently announced Ricoh GR will have almost the same features, same size sensor and be priced a little lower (about € 200 / $ 300 less). Of course there are numerous others to consider. If I wanted to spend a lot of money (around €/$ 2.800), I would go for the Sony RX1. It not only has a nice and bright f/2.0 Zeiss 35mm lens but also packs a whopping 24 MP full frame sensor. Then again, this would not be quite as compact anymore.

These cameras all have one thing in common. They are trying to lure customers with compact dimensions, good optics and big sensors, aiming at enthusiasts and pros that do not want to carry heavy equipment all the time. They are all very capable when it comes to image quality but it seems like all camera makers are desperately trying to avoid competing with DSLRs.

All except Fuji. They never looked back when they quit the DSLR business a couple of years ago and they are now putting all their efforts into products that really appeal to customers. Next to the X-Pro 1 and the XE-1 the popular Fuji X100/X100s really nailed it IMHO. While still keeping to compact dimensions, the Fuji features the EVF most of us are desperate for and also offers a superb APS-C size sensor with great color output and low-light performance. They are selling like hot cakes – and rightly so.

The XE-1 is my go-to camera at the moment and I am quite happy using it as a backup to my DSLR or Leica M. But when it comes to choosing a pocketable alternative, I am still undecided. If the Nikon A had that darned EVF instead of a clumsy optional add-on thingy, I would buy one in a heartbeat. But as it goes, I am still on the fence.

Nikon Coolpix A with optical viewfinder (photo: Nikon Corp.)

 

If Nikon were to introduce such a camera and maybe even throw in some interchangeable lenses, they would probably have to build another factory to meet demand.

So, what is Nikon waiting for? Are they only testing the water with the new Nikon Coolpix A? Will there be a „serious“ compact ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) soon?

We shall see … 🙂

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