We can count on one hand the number of times a waterproof camera was the only suitable option for any given photo shoot, but drizzle and even flash monsoons can strike at any moment, especially in some locales. Most clothing and other analog gear can survive such attacks of mother nature nearly unscathed, but smartphones and cameras are another story altogether — unless they’re coated in head-to-toe weather sealing, of course. Pentax may not be a top player in any digital imaging category, but the company does have a few serious DSLR contenders, and should be taken seriously for anyone in the market for a new ILC. The manufacturer’s latest swappable-lens model, the K-30, is quite a respectable beast, and a fairly solid value at $900 with an 18-55mm kit lens. Beneath that steel and polycarbonate black housing there’s a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor with shift-based stabilization, a 100-percent FOV optical viewfinder, a color-adjustable 921k-dot 3-inch LCD and a bevy of manual control options, for stills and video alike.
Canon touts EOS Rebel T4i with improved video focusing system, EF-S 18-135mm and EF 40mm silent lenses (hands-on)
There wasn’t much reason to upgrade with last year’s T3i, but that’s certainly not the case with the Canon EOS Rebel T4i. This new entry-level DSLR packs a redesigned 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with brand-new focus capabilities, enabling the camera to use both phase- and contrast-detection autofocus when paired with one of two new STM lenses. The center portion of the sensor uses traditional phase-detection technology, while points nearer to the perimeter aid by recognizing contrast in a scene, enabling a more accurate autofocus technique for both stills and video shooting. On the video front, the new lenses — an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM for $550 or the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM “pancake” for $200 — allow for much more silent zoom and focusing during video capture, so you don’t need to worry about those sensitive stereo mics picking up mechanical noise. The camera still did a bit of focus hunting while recording video during our hands-on, but autofocus performance was quite impressive while capturing stills, even in low light.
Pentax didn’t wait long after a rather conspicuous leak to make the details official: welcome the K-30, the company’s spiritual successor to the long-serving K-r. The camera makes its biggest numerical jump in sensor size, from 12.4 megapixels to 16, but you’re primarily shelling out for a much tougher body that’s both resistant to rain as well as to dust and temperature extremes; one of the cheapest cameras to do so, if you go by Pentax’s word. We’re slightly down on the light sensitivity being unchanged from three years ago at ISO 100 to 25,600, though you can now shoot video at a much higher 1080p at 30 frames per second — and that French catalog was wrong about a drop in burst speeds, which still top out at a healthy 6 fps. Should you be committed to the K-mount ways, stores will have the K-30 in July at $850 body-only and $900 for an 18-55mm kit. While you’re in the shop, there will also be a new 50mm f/1.8 prime lens to pick up for $250.
Canon unveiled its highly-anticipated EOS 5D Mark III just 10 days ago, but we already have a pre-production sample in-hand, and will be putting it through its paces over the next week. Today’s installment focuses on high-sensitivity still image shooting, which we conducted at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea. We chose a dimly lit temple as our test subject, shooting a handful of images at ISO settings ranging from 800 to the camera’s top native sensitivity of 25,600, and extended modes of ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400. All images were captured at f/8 with a 24-105mm L lens.
As expected, the camera offered excellent performance at all of the native settings — as you can see from the image above, there’s some noise noticeable when viewing an image at full size, though considering the camera’s top resolution of 22.3 megapixels, we hardly see ISO 25,600 being an issue. Jumping beyond the top native range did yield significant noise, but assuming you’re shooting for the web, even these settings are usable. Chances are, you won’t often be examining images at a 1:1 pixel view, so jump past the break to see how each of the four frames represented above will look when scaled to a web-friendly 600-pixels-wide resolution, then hit up our source link to grab full-res JPEGs of each image captured during the shoot.
Remember when we were in a tizzy about the Nikon D4, way back in January? We got to play with this tank of a DSLR a bit, but sadly weren’t permitted to actually publish any of the photos or video that we shot with the thing. Sure, we’ve seen some samples of it in action, but it’s not quite the same. Thankfully, the company made our late-February that much better, allowing us to take the D4 on a jaunt around the city, a couple of weeks ahead of its mid-March launch. We strolled around Washington Square Park and 6th avenue, with the beast of a camera in-hand, shooting tourists and scenery, before popping by a subway station to have a go with the camera’s purported excellent low-light capabilities that we’ve been hearing so much about. Click on through to take a look at some sample video.
Thirty six megapixels. That’s the native resolution of Nikon’s long-awaited FX-format digital SLR. The D800 was designed with all professional photographers in mind, but with 36.3-megapixel captures (yes, that also means 36.3 megapixels in RAW, or 15.4 in DX format), the Japanese camera maker’s latest DSLR output is likely to far exceed the needs of many. It also limits low-light shooting capabilities — the D800 is a full-frame camera, but even so, with a standard sensor capturing 36.3 megapixels, its high-ISO performance is unlikely to match the likes of the D4, or Canon’s new 1D X. It’s for this reason that Nikon limited the camera’s top native sensitivity to ISO 6400, or 25,600 in Hi2 extended mode. Want to see more? Thumb through the gallery below and jump past the break for a closer look at the latest full-frame DSLR to hit the market.
After getting our eager mitts on Nikon’s long overdue D3 successor, aptly named the D4, we got a second chance to revisit our fat-bodied, photo-taking friend at the company’s CES booth. The 16.2MP DSLR features a 3.2-inch LCD screen and is capable of 1080p video capture at 30fps. But that’s not why we went back for more and it’s not why you’re reading this right now. We were keen to put the D4′s big, bad networking capabilities to the test — one of which links an array of up to ten of the cameras together for simultaneous, remote shooting over WiFi. Unfortunately, this feature requires use of the TW-5A wireless dongle, which is still awaiting FCC certification and could not be demonstrated. Neither could the imaging company show off the one-to-one connection that allows an auxiliary camera to be controlled from a primary unit. We did get to briefly interact with the camera’s native web server running on a laptop, from which you can snap shots, toggle settings (like ISO and shutter speed), playback and download your recordings. You can catch a peek of the interface and an extra look at this sought after shooter after the break.
Nikon announces D4 DSLR camera: full-frame 16.2 MP sensor, 204,000 extended ISO, XQD support, $6,000 price tag
More than two years after the D3S began shipping and roughly a half-decade after we first got a peek at the D3, Nikon has finally announced the full-frame DSLR’s long-awaited successor. As expected, the Nikon D4 boosts both megapixel rating (to 16.2) and extended ISO (204,800 at Hi-4), and includes a brand new full-frame FX-format sensor. Video capture also jumped from 720/24p to 1080/30p, but so did the camera’s somewhat-out-of-reach price tag — you’ll be dropping $5,999.95 when the D4 hits stores in late February. You’re clearly not spending all that hard-earned photo dough for nothing, though. There’s also a 91k-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Meter III, compared to a 1,005-pixel meter in the D3S, enabling the camera to evaluate the color and brightness of a scene with much greater precision, yielding much more accurate results. And since the D4 reportedly offers phenomenal low-light performance, you’ll probably be using it quite often in the dark — letting you get good use out of the new back-lit controls.
Photographers can preview images using the 921k-dot 3.2-inch LCD, which offers a 170-degree viewing angle and ambient light sensor. HD video can be previewed on the display as well, or directly through the HDMI port, which also supports uncompressed 8-bit preview video output with optional overlay. Naturally, the D4 is fast. It can power on and be ready to shoot in approximately 0.012 seconds, and can capture 10 fps stills at full resolution with full auto focus and exposure. Willing to lock both AF and AE? The D4 goes to 11. A new 51-point AF system offers full cross-type focusing that’s compatible with all Nikon lenses, even when paired with a teleconverter. The D4 includes two card slots with support for both UDMA-7 CF and the recently-announced XQD format, which brings write speeds of up to 125 MB/s — enough to capture 105 consecutive RAW images at 10 fps. You’ll find full details and specs on the D4 just past the break, along with an overview of Nikon’s new AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G FX-format lens, which is set to ship in March for $499.95.
There are some cameras that we absolutely love, some we find downright disappointing and others that get the job done, albeit with mediocre results. Samsung’s digital imaging devices typically fall within that last category — they’re moderately innovative, generally affordable and often well-designed, but when it comes to image quality and performance, we’re left… underwhelmed. So, when we first had a chance to try out the CE giant’s new NX200 at IFA in Berlin, we weren’t expecting a mind-blowing imaging device.
The NX200 is Samsung’s latest entrant into the interchangeable lens (ILC) category — it’s a mirrorless model, to be more precise, and a fairly impressive one at that — at least when you glance at the spec sheet. It’s the company’s latest ILC to use an APS-C size sensor, which is the largest we’ve seen in a mirrorless cam. This sensor type implies that the NX200 may have a chance at competing with Sony’s NEX-C3, which has been our top pick in the category, and its 20.3 megapixel rating suggests that Samsung wants to be taken seriously here, with a true contender on its hands. But has Samsung delivered a winner? Jump past the break for our take.
Remember the Lumix GF1? It was one of Panasonic’s first Micro Four Thirds cameras, setting the bar quite high for models to come. But the GF1′s successors — the GF2 and GF3 — did not live up to expectations, with the company gradually shifting the series towards transitioning point-and-shoot users, and away from early adopters who grew accustomed to the performance and build quality offered by that beloved early mirrorless cam. Now that familiar look and feel is back, in the form of the Lumix DMC-GX1. The 16 megapixel ILC includes a Live MOS sensor and Venus engine, with a maximum ISO of 12,800. Like other Panasonic G-series cameras, the GX1 uses a Micro Four Thirds mount, and is compatible with both Panasonic and Olympus lenses, including the standard 14-42mm zoom that ships with the $800 kit, or the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm retractable lens that comes packaged for $950. Existing lens owners can pick up just the body for $700.
What we really missed was the solid feel of the GF1 — everything from the housing to the controls felt well-made, while the design of later GF models, was… underwhelming. Picking up the GX1 helped to restore our confidence in the series — it was a pleasure to hold. There’s quite a bit of power under the hood, too. We weren’t able to test the GX1, which is expected to hit stores in mid-December, but Panasonic promises autofocus speeds of 0.9 second — you can focus simply by touching your subject on the 3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen. There’s also an external EVF option, which attaches to the camera’s hot shoe and offers a 1.44 million-dot display with 100-percent field of view. Movie buffs can capture 1080/60i HD video, with either MP4 or AVCHD compression. It goes without saying that the GX1 can shoot in RAW, and offers the complete gamut of advanced shooting modes. Of course the features don’t stop there, so jump past the break for the full PR from Panasonic.
Man, is this thing ugly. But when it comes to cinema cameras, looks are the last thing on a cinematographer’s mind — performance is where it counts, and with the Canon C300, its compact size is an asset as well. We haven’t had a chance to shoot with Canon’s new flagship cinema cam, but we’ve heard from plenty of folks who have, including director Vincent Laforet. The C300′s incredibly compact size allows cinematographers to work in environments that aren’t typically accessible to big rigs — you can shoot with this camera just as easily as you can with a DSLR, hand-holding it for quick shots, with a waist-mounted Steadicam system for walk-around shoots or even mounting it on a small remote-controlled helicopter, as Laforet did during his three-day Mobius shoot.
The C300 will be more familiar to cinematographers — photojournalists may have access to the cam, thanks to its $20,000 price tag (that’s a relative bargain, believe it or not), but you can’t pick this up and fire away without taking some time to learn the interface. It has quite the solid feel, as you’d expect from a camera in this price range, though it’s not as heavy as it looks — you won’t want to hold it in your hand for a full day of filming, but quick shots probably won’t be an issue. The system is modular, so you can add and remove components as you wish — industry standard connectors let you hook up cinema gear, which is something you could never do with the 5D Mark II. The small form factor and price tag to match should help Canon gain some ground in Hollywood, but we’ll wait for a chance to shoot some footage before drawing any firm conclusions. In the meantime, we’ll have to take Laforet at his word — which you’ll find just past the break.
Canon C300 makes an appearance in Vincent Laforet’s Mobius, find the short and behind the scenes right here (video)
A New York Times photojournalist turned Hollywood director, Vincent Laforet has become synonymous with DSLR video, after his short film Reverie helped catapult Canon’s 5D Mark II into the world of digital filmmaking. And after playing such a significant role in launching that camera, we certainly weren’t surprised to see Laforet make an appearance at today’s Canon Cinema event, with his short film Mobius getting some time on the big screen. The film follows a photojournalist who stumbles upon a Cartel execution, but it also tells the story of Canon’s tightly-veiled C300 cinema camera, which the company launched just moments ago. Laforet used a pre-production C300 (note the green tape button labels) to shoot Mobius in the Mojave Desert under a variety of harsh conditions, including powerful sunlight and near-darkness, in both extremely hot and chilly temperatures — the camera appears to have performed extremely well, given both the remote shooting environment and tight production schedule.
Canon has yet to reveal the C300′s price tag, which we expect to far undercut the $120,000 Arri Alexa kit, but its sheer portability makes it a more appealing option for filmmakers — especially those with limited time and other resources. Laforet was able to shoot his film with a very small crew, since the C300 can be operated by just one photographer. The director used the camera mounted on a tripod, tethered to a variety of helicopters, sitting on the road and even hand-held, like a camcorder or DSLR. Laforet shot with Canon’s new FK30-300 telephoto cine zoom PL-mount lens, along with a variety of EOS mount lenses, and notes that the camera’s form factor makes it even easier to shoot with than a DSLR like the 5D Mark II. Its cost — somewhere in the range of $20,000 — should also put it within reach of not only Hollywood cinematographers, but also television directors and even documentary filmmakers and news photojournalists. We won’t see the C300 hit the market until late January 2012, so jump past the break for a sneak peak at Mobius to see Canon’s new cinema flagship, along with a rather comprehensive behind-the-scenes video.
Well, we have to hand it to Canon — this was one tight-lipped product launch. The imaging company just unveiled its C300 cinema camera at Hollywood’s Paramount Studios, in front of a crowd of hundreds of journalists and film industry elite, including Martin Scorsese. Canon is no stranger to the professional photography community, but it has yet to make a name for itself in Hollywood, where cameras such as the Arri Alexa and RED EPIC dominate the digital filmmaking world. The C300 may not appear to be overwhelmingly powerful on paper — stock features include an EF or PL mount (not both), 1080p capture, a pair of CF card slots, timecode and HD-SDI output — but judging by the sample films we saw today, its incredibly powerful sensor and versatile form factor are likely to play a more significant role in making this camera a success.
Fujio Mitarai is saying that the camera is especially well-suited to accurate color reproduction, particularly skin tones. We’re also receiving word that the C300 will cost somewhere in the range of $20,000 — how’s that for affordable? It contains a Super 35mm CMOS sensor and delivers up to 4K resolution with the outfit’s new “top-end” EF zoom lenses, which come in four flavors: two 14.5-60mm lenses and two 30-300mm. And the lenses keep on coming, with three EF prime lenses in 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm variations. That CMOS sensor offers 1920 x 1080 pixels for the reds and blues and 1920 x 2160 for greens. Like we said before, list price for the C300 will be $20,000 when it hits stores in late January 2012. And that appears to be it for this very long announcement, but we’ll have our first impressions soon. Full PR awaits you after the break.
Most of the interchangeable lens cameras we’ve seen to date seem to follow a standard mold: they have similarly sized bodies, comparable designs and either an APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensor at the core. But recently, some manufacturers — namely, Nikon and Pentax — have begun shrinking camera bodies in an attempt to make them even more appealing to point-and-shoot users. The result: a smaller, lighter, more fashionable ILC — that also happens to have an itsy bitsy image sensor. Sensor size, not megapixel rating, translates directly to image quality, but also lens and body size, so you can either have an incredibly small body with an incredibly small sensor, or a larger body with a larger sensor. Are you willing to pay a premium for the “world’s smallest” interchangeable lens camera, even if it has the same size sensor used in many point-and-shoot cams available for a fraction of the cost? Pentax seems to think that you are — to the tune of $800.
The 12.4 megapixel Pentax Q is tiny — it’s so small, in fact, that you wouldn’t be alone in mistaking it for a toy. There is a fully functional camera inside that petite magnesium alloy housing, though it’s admittedly not as powerful as you’d expect an $800 camera to be. The pricey kit ships with an 8.5mm f/1.9 lens, and you can grow your collection from Pentax’s modest selection of Q-mount lenses, which also happen to have laughably small focal lengths (a 3.2mm fish eye, anyone?), due to the 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor’s massive 5.5x multiplication factor. So how does the Q fare when it comes to performance and image quality? Jump past the break to find out.
It’s been a long time coming, but the patience has paid off with Sony’s A77 finally getting its first pro review. Sure, the $1,400 cost of entry (body only) will weigh heavily on even the most enthusiastic cameraman conscious. But, what’s a few hundred dollars when it comes to a camera that Popular Photography says has “radically changed the world of DSLRs”? It seems only the rival Canon 7D holds a candle to this would-be king, besting Sony’s latest when it comes to noise and performance at higher ISOs. However, the A77 wins on its all-around charm, with a 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS-C sensor, articulated LCD screen, world-first OLED EVF and impressive video-shooting chops. Video-wise, that top dollar gets you a high-end performance of 60fps at 1920 x 1080 with the fast phase-detection auto-focus we’ve also seen on its predecessors, the Sony A55 and A33.
Popular Photographydoes add a single caveat to the largely very positive conclusion: video enthusiasts should probably hold tight to see what Canon and Nikon counter with. Especially if you’re in possession of multiple lenses. Aside from that, what’s stopping you? Dig in to all the nitty-gritty details below, and we’d advise cutting down on those impulse eBay purchases — this magnesium-alloyed beauty will certainly make a financial dent when it lands, if not a physical one.
Remember that cute little Micro Four Thirds camera that Olympus unveiled in June? Well, we just got word that the PEN E-PM1 Mini will ship next month, with an equally petite $500 price tag — including a 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens. The company is positioning the 12.3 megapixel camera as an upgrade for point-and-shoot users, as “the easiest PEN to use,” thanks to a new, simpler user interface and 23 Scene-Select modes. Still, the E-PM1 is a very capable interchangeable lens camera (ILC), and includes a 3-inch 460k-dot LCD, 1080i HD video capture, RAW shooting and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800, along with Manual, Aperture Priority, and Shutter Priority shooting modes. The Mini will be available in purple, pink, brown, white, silver, and black — our color of choice. Jump past the break for the full scoop from Olympus.
Sony is on a roll with some fairly incredible product unveilings this morning. The Alpha A65 is almost an afterthought when compared to today’s NEX-7 and A77 announcements, but this $900 (body only) DSLR targets the vastly popular entry-level category, while still including a new OLED electronic viewfinder, 24.3 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor, and 1080 / 60p AVCHD video capture. Many of the A77′s other features made the cut as well, including Sony’s Translucent Mirror Technology, an ISO range of 100-16,000, object tracking autofocus, and a high-speed shooting mode (though the pricier model can shoot 12 fps, compared to 10 fps on the A65). You will be missing out on the A77′s nifty three-way tilt and swivel LCD, though the A65′s display does support tilt. Also missing is a 19-point AF sensor (the A65′s has 15 points), a secondary text LCD, and support for an optical vertical grip. Jump past the break for a brief video walkthrough from Sony, along with a sneak peek at the A77.
When it comes to cameras, digital SLRs are a breed all their own. Many DSLR owners don’t upgrade their bodies often — if at all — and even fewer would consider a switch to a competing camera system, especially after investing in a handful of high-end lenses. Manufacturers need to push innovation even further to target this segment of the market — when some cameras cost thousands of dollars and already offer excellent performance, simply releasing a body with more megapixels and HD shooting options won’t prompt photographers to pull out their credit cards. With its excellent 24.3 megapixel sensor and high-res OLED electronic viewfinder, however, Sony’s $1,399 Alpha A77 may just be the DSLR upgrade you’ve been waiting for. We spent a few days with a pre-production A77 paired with Sony’s brand new 16-50mm f/2.8 lens ($1,999 in an A77 kit), and were very impressed with what will undoubtedly be a worthy successor to the well-received A700. Jump past the break for our initial impressions, along with plenty of still photo and HD video samples.
Without a doubt, today’s biggest news on the NEX front is Sony’s 24.3 megapixel NEX-7. But for photographers looking for a bit less power (and a lower $600 body-only price tag), the NEX-5N delivers some of the 7′s headline features in a slimmed-down magnesium-alloy body. Sony boosted the NEX-5′s sensor from 14 to 16 megapixels in the N, also adding 1080 / 60p AVCHD video capture, a 10 fps continuous shooting mode, a touch-enabled 3-inch LCD, and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600. The mid-range NEX cam also supports an optional XGA OLED electronic viewfinder, which attaches to its accessory port and carries a price tag of $350. We should note that although the accessory port appears to be similar to that used on the NEX-C3 and previous gen NEX-5, the OLED attachment is only compatible with the 5N. Want to know more? Jump past the break for a brief overview video, and check out the rather comprehensive gallery of press shots below.
There’s no question that Canon and Nikon still dominate the interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, but with Olympus, Panasonic, Sony, and now Pentax all launching compact, inexpensive, mirrorless models in recent years, the legacy manufacturers have some catching up to do. In an interview confirming the restoration of pre-quake production levels in Japan, Canon camera division head Masaya Maeda told Reuters that the company is “considering the technical aspects” of creating a mirrorless camera, following up by saying “we will launch an interesting product next year.” The comment doesn’t exactly make a mirrorless Canon a sure thing, but it’s as solid a commitment as we can expect for now.
One possible concern for Canon is that entry into the new ILC category would cannibalize the company’s higher-end point-and-shoot offerings, which likely offer higher margins. But if mirrorless models gain market share over traditional DSLRs and Canon doesn’t have its own cam to match, the company could find itself racing to catch up, rather than dominating the ILC category as it has done in the past. Competition from Canon isn’t likely to start a price war, since there isn’t much elasticity at this point, but it could put pressure on other manufacturers to push the limits with image quality, accessory selection, and perhaps even lead to a future lens standard — though we’re probably more likely to see a Pentax Qthat can actually capture DSLR-quality images far before manufacturers decide to adopt a universal lens mount.