For the longest time I've wanted to try out one of Sony's A7 series of cameras, and I finally got the chance this weekend when a friend of mine let me borrow his A7II. I've been considering replacing my ageing Canon gear with a camera from the Sony A7 series (mostly for video), but I've had some reservations about it, and so it was a great opportunity to try out the system. I haven't spent that much time with it yet, so this isn't by any means a full review. Instead, consider this more of a hands on, first impressions kind of report.
Now that the Sony A7RII is shipping to customers, there are lots of reports coming in about the camera. More importantly there are now raw files available online that you can download and check out, and Lightroom and ACR (along with Capture One) all now support the camera too. I've been reading a lot about this new Sony for a while now, and I am very interested in it, as it seems like Sony has really listened to its customers and created a very impressive camera.
After my first rather unprofessional test of the A6000 with the new XAVC codec last week, I set out to create a better video on Friday. This time I used my good Nikon 24-120 lens and a tripod. Unfortunately I still had a few issues, but they were entirely my own fault. Still, I think it's a nice result, and I was lucky as some interesting things happened while I was filming.
There was a nice little surprise for Sony A6000 owners yesterday when Sony announced a new firmware for the camera. Version 2 added one big new feature, and that is the XAVC-S codec. Up till now, if you were recording video on the A6000 you were stuck with the rather awful AVC-HD codec and a low bit rate, and frankly the quality wasn't the best. You could record uncompressed HD from the HDMI port on the camera, and having tried that in the past, the difference is remarkable. But adding an external recorder defeats the purpose of having a small camera. With the new firmware, Sony is adding a much better codec and the results are pretty great.
I'm a big fan of Sony Products, and anyone who follows this blog knows that I've a soft spot for their cameras. I currently have an A6000 and I've previously shot with a Nex 7. I've also been eagerly following the developments of the A7 line with great interest. I've said it before, but Sony are one of the few companies really innovating in the imaging space. Not only are their sensors used by pretty much every other major company now, but they're constantly pushing the envelope in the camera market. From the RX1 which brought a superb full frame sensor to the compact camera form factor, to the A7 Line which made full frame really affordable and small. The A7 line certainly isn't perfect, but with the recently announced A7 R Mark II Sony are getting pretty close to it.
It’s hard to believe it, but a few days ago Canon announced the official 10th anniversary of its game changing 5D Camera. The Canon 5D was the first digital camera to make full frame affordable and to it to the masses. It was the first enthusiast camera to have a full frame sensor, and it brought with it a huge step up in terms of image quality when it was first released back in May 2005. I was one of those who bought one of the 5Ds in the first year of its release, and it was a game changer for me too, in terms of my photography.
I recently upgraded my phone to an iPhone 6 plus (from an iPhone 5) and I was curious to see what the camera was like, especially with Apple's recent publicity on the matter. I was out in the city today for a little while so I decided to try it out. I didn't spend too much time with it, so I don't really have any major opinions as to the quality yet, but instead here are some images that I shot, and some observations on using it.
Recently I had an opportunity to try out a friends Nikon D800 and I’ve been wanting to write about the experience ever since. I realise that the D800 is a few years old now and has been superseded by the D810, but as the camera is selling for quite a reasonable rate second hand now, I thought some people may still be interested. This isn’t going to be a review as such, but rather a personal take on what it was like to use it.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about what the then rumoured 5K iMac would mean that for photographers, and how you would now be pixel peeping on such a display even just looking at images. It was sort of a tongue in cheek piece, but now that the Retina iMac is real, I thought it would be important to have another look at the implications of a 5k display for photographers. If you're considering one of these new iMacs (I know I am !) then there are a few things you may want to ponder first!
New Offerings from Panasonic and Canon at Photokina
This year's Photokina exhibit in Germany is shaping up to be very interesting, especially if you are into the high end compact camera market. With smart phones obliterating the low end of the compact camera market, manufacturers have been looking at the high end as an alternative way to keep the segment alive. So far the leaders in this space have been Sony with the RX100 line and Fuji with it's X30 (and previously X20, and X10). There have been other high end compacts of course, but the it was the RX100 in particular that generated the most interest with its large 1 inch sensor. Well, it now has some interesting competition.
The first is Panasonic with its gorgeous looking new and cryptically named LX100. This is a new high end iteration of Panasonic's LX series of premium compacts. The design is reminiscent of the company's 10 year old, but still a classic LC1 four thirds camera (before it went to micro four thirds) The new camera has a 4:3 sized sensor with 16megapixels, although it uses Panasonic's multi aspect ratio sensor technology, so it's really only 12mp. It also has retro-styled physical controls, a very high quality EVF and a superbly specced zoom lens. The lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-75mm at an amazing F1.7 - F2.8. This is really impressive for a small camera. The real killer feature though can be found in the video specification. The diminutive panasonic shoots 4K Video. Yep, you read that right. And the quality seems to be pretty good too, although I can't find any details of the bit rate used when recording 4K.
I actually have a history with Panasonic cameras. In fact have three of them. My first was one of the early cameras in the LX line, the LX-2 which is still considered a classic. At the time it's claim to fame was a high quality lens, which it certainly had, and a larger than average sensor (again, at the time). It was a good little camera for it's day, and was highly regarded, although it doesn't really stand up to today's cameras.
Canon G7 X
Canon has also come out with a large sensor high end compact camera, and it too is looking pretty impressive spec wise. It features a 20mp 1 inch sensor, whose specifications are eerily similar to the sensor in Sony's RX100 line.
Canon's compact offering is in a smaller body than Panasonic's (at least it looks that way from the photos) and offers a longer range zoom lens, and a tilting screen. The lens is a 24-100mm equivalent, at f/1.8-2.8. The camera has less physical controls than the panasonic and lacks an EVF but it does have a very useful built in ND filter. Canon have posted a nice little video showcasing the new camera's capabilities.
Funnily enough, I have a history with Canon compact cameras too. My very first compact camera was a Canon Ixus. I bought it while on holidays in France one year. (A long time ago) and I still have some of the images I took with it. Again, not great by today's standards, but it was a lovely little camera for its day. I've always liked Canon's compacts thought. The newer ones have really nice colour rendition, so I'm curious to see this once it gets into the hands of real world photographers.
The real wildcard of the recently announced cameras was from panasonic, and it wasn't technically a camera, it's a phone. Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-CM1 smartphone with a 1 inch sensor and an f/2.8 Leica 28mm equivalent lens. Once again, it seems to be another use of the magical 1 inch 20mp sensor that everyone seems to be using. All this is crammed into a very slim package. It's android powered and has a 4.7 inch 1080p screen (impressive for a camera, and a phone)
It will be interesting to see how this fares in the real world. Spec wise it's impressive, but things like battery life and usability will play a big factor. Still, a smartphone with a 1 inch sensor !!!!
See this story on Tech Crunch for more details.
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