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.

 

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.

Mar 312014
 

This wireless sound gadget can be used in conjunction with e.g. your computer devices or your iPhone for instance, making it possible to watch the movies you made (e.g. that you transferred to your iPad or Android device with your Wifi enabled camera). Maybe you will be interested in reading about this device only because you intend to go running listening to your favorite mp3 music.

Anyway, IMO this Sony Bluetooth® Wireless Sports Headset MDR-AS700BT is good enough to catch your attention.

Lupico_140327__FXE4304

 

The Sony Bluetooth® Wireless Sports Headset MDR-AS700BT is sold in a terribly annoying packaging. You can either choose to destructively rip it apart – or if you are more inclined to save the bundle e.g. for later resale you will have to fumble quite a long time to free your new headset of its plastic and cardboard prison. Once you get hold of the Quick Start Guide there is no stopping you. It is all you need to get to grips with the new device. Now you only need to charge the 3.7 V built-in lithium battery (for about 1.5 hours) via the included micro-USB cable and you are ready to go.

 

So here is what I liked and disliked about the new gadget:

+ handling easy to comprehend (using the Quick Start Guide)

+ crisp sound – a little “bass-y” but not too much (frequency response 2.4GHz band i.e. 2.4000GHz-2.4835GHz)

+ water resistant makes it a perfect companion for outdoor sports

+ good Bluetooth® connectivity (tested on iPhone)

+ remote control on earpiece works flawlessly

+ long lasting battery life (up to 9 hours of listening)

– comparably steep Price (street price around $ 75/ € 90)

– quite uncomfortable (IMO) plastic neck band (or let me call it a bracket) that is positioned over or rather behind the ears and behind the head

– permanently blinking LED on one earpiece is annoying in dark surroundings (I taped mine and this way got rid of the distraction)

– no plug adapter supplied to charge via wall socket

– fumbly packaging

 

Final Word

This Sony Bluetooth® Wireless Sports Headset MDR-AS700BT is a fun gadget you can take with you running or use e.g. when you want to watch movies streamed from your iPad or other gear. The sound is wonderful considering this is a wireless device. Do not expect anything beyond that though. If you can live with a little discomfort around the ears (and maybe you will not even face this problem), this headset is a winner and can be highly recommended.

Need any more infos? Just go to a Sony site here and get all the technical data you need.

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.

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 😉 .

Nov 262013
 

The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH just happens to be my favorite wide-angle lens. Actually, this is probably the best wide lens I have ever used.

Lupico_131109_DSC01927-Leica21-3.4SE

IMHO nothing can compare to what can be achieved using this lens on a digital Leica. I had loads of fun putting the little gem to use with my Leica M9 and Leica M Typ 240. The results were nothing short of spectacular. 

I was pretty happy when I heard Sony was introducing a full-frame mirrorless ILC (camera with interchangeable lenses) which would let me mount my Leica M lenses using commonly available adapters. But would the results be adequate? Previous tests with the Sony NEX 7 did not work out the way most people thought, so there was always room for doubt. Using ultra-wideangle lenses might prove a problem – or maybe not.

 

Image: Sony Corp.

Image: Sony Corp. / Sony A7R with Carl Zeiss Sonnar FE 35mm f/2.8

 

Some early adopters and professional reviewers have already had the chance to try the new Sony Alpha A7 and Sony Alpha A7R and have posted first look (p)reviews. Some have been full of praise, especially in combination with the new Carl Zeiss Sonnar FE 35mm f/2.8 prime lens (as depicted above). Others have more than hinted there might be color shift and other complications using legacy lenses.

I was hoping I would be able to keep on using my Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH with the new Sony, so I had to give this combination a go myself. My local dealer finally gave me a call saying he had the new Sony body in shop and I was able to take a look at the offer. Unfortunately there was little time and I was only able to take a few quick snaps. Only JPG using Auto ISO and standard camera settings straight out of the box. Nothing professional, i.e. only some basic shots without interest in art or composition 🙂 .
I actually chose a quite demanding city setting simply to push the new Sony with the UWA Leica lens to its limits. I used f5.6, aperture priority, Auto ISO and OOC JPG straight out of the camera. No compensation for shadows and no post processing applied (except for change in file size and e.g. blanking out faces for use of the images in this blog). But see for yourself.

 

Lupico_130101_DSC00013Leica21-3.4SE Lupico_130101_DSC00015Leica21-3.4SE Lupico_130101_DSC00008Leica21-3.4SE Lupico_130101_DSC00003Leica21-3.4SE Lupico_130101_DSC00014Leica21-3.4SE Lupico_130101_DSC00018Leica21SE

 

These first snaps may not be a professional test under ideal conditions and the results may be somewhat limited. I simply did not have enough time for anything more. And I guess the resulting pictures (with bad light, out of box camera settings and not using RAW format) are quite o.K. – sort of…

I do not see myself as a pixel peeper. But these quick snaps with the Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH on the Sony Alpha A7 did not really get me overly excited. I had high hopes for this lens combo. Some minor color shift, vignetting and distortion at the edges may be manageable in post processing. But do I really want to go to all the trouble? Do I want to spend hours manipulating files in Photoshop or Lightroom? Not really.

There may be cause for hope. The Sony Alpha A7R with its offset microlens design might be able to handle Leica UWA lenses better than the Sony Alpha A7. But that remains to be seen. Due to the higher pixel count (36mp compared to 24mp) the results might be even more disillusioning. Native lenses for the new Sony Alpha full-frame  system will probably be the best bet. But there are only few to choose from right now. The Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 and the Sony 28-70 kit zoom are available right from the start but no UWA will be available for some time to come. The Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH I was hoping to use with a Novoflex adapter does not seem to be an ideal stand-by player. I will probably wait on the sideline until there are more lenses to choose from.

The camera itself was a pleasure to handle. Just as pleasing as the Sony RX1 which I used quite extensively in the past few months. But I am just not quite willing to sell off any other camera in favor of this machine. The Sony sure is a great piece of equipment. But the glass is what really makes a system stand out and there simply is not enough to choose from right now. Adapting Sony A-lenses may be good for photographers with existing Sony equipment but adapting legacy lenses may prove to be more restricting – not only considering the lack of Auto Focus. I did not like the focus peeking on the Sony Alpha A7 too much. I just could not see it well enough (at least not with standard settings using red highlighting color). Split screen focussing or rangefinder focussing in general seems a lot easier to handle.

Nonetheless this full-frame camera offering is quite outstanding and will probably frighten the competition to death. In time no doubt this will develop into a killer system. Some more full-frame lenses is all it will take to push me over.

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