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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
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CP+ 2017 - Fujifilm Interview: 'We hope that the GFX will change how people v...
24 Feb 2017 at 10:00am
Toshihisa Iida, General Manager of Fujifilm's Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division, posing with the new medium-format GFX 50S.

We're at the CP+ 2017 show, in Yokohama Japan where Fujifilm is preparing to ship its long-awaited medium format GFX 50S. 

We sat down with three Fujifilm executives, Toshihisa Iida, (general manager of Fujifilm's Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products Division), Makoto Oishi, (manager of Fujifilm?s Sales and Marketing Group, Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Products division), and Shinichiro Udono, (Senior Manager for the Sales and Marketing Group of the Optical Device and Electronic Imaging Division), to learn more about the GFX, some of the challenges of creating a medium-format system, and future plans for GX and X series development.

Now that the GFX is ready, and about to ship, this must be quite exciting for you.

Yes, absolutely. For the past four or five years we?ve been concentrating on the APS-C format, and a lot of people were asking us when we?d enter the larger format market. Once some time had passed, and we?d produced a good number of APS-C lenses, we started to look more seriously at large format to attract more customers. That was about two years ago.

The GFX 50S is a mirrorless medium-format camera built around a 43.8 X 32.9mm CMOS sensor. Although the camera borrows a lot of design cues from its smaller X Series cousins, the GFX offers a very different handling experience. Despite being based around such a large sensor, the combination of camera and 63mm prime lens is surprisingly lightweight and very well-balanced. 

Since the development announcement at Photokina we?ve received a lot of positive feedback from photographers. We started a program called the ?GFX Challenge?, where we loaned GFX cameras to photographers from various fields, in order to get feedback. Based on that feedback we refined the camera?s software. Now that we?re almost ready to ship, I can?t wait to get feedback from customers.

What kind of changes resulted from the Challenge feedback?

Most feedback was more or less as we?d expected. Photographers were surprised by how small and light the camera was. We made a few changes on the firmware side, mostly small refinements, like how the dials work, for example, to make it less likely that you?ll make an accidental control input (etc.)

What were the biggest technical challenges that you faced when moving from APS-C to medium format?

The sensor size is 4X as large, so speed and responsiveness were two major challenges. Readout speed, processing and autofocus.

Makoto Oishi shows off the 50MP medium-format sensor used in the GFX 50S. The GFX does not offer phase-detection - are the lenses designed to support this in the future?

Yes, definitely.

You?re joining Ricoh in the medium format market, and some long-established brands like Hasselblad and Phase One. Are you expecting other manufacturers to enter this market too?

We don?t know. Obviously, the other brands are focusing on full-frame at the moment. Obviously though we?d welcome any brand that joins this category, because it will increase awareness, and help the category as a whole.

When you were planning a product like the GFX, did you come up with any predictions about the growth of the medium-format market?

At the moment we?re just focusing on making the best product we can. We hope that the GFX will change how people view medium format, and this will help to grow the entire category.

What?s your medium-term strategy for growth in this product line? Will there be longer product cycles, for instance?

Obviously the sales volume will be lower, so the product life cycle will probably be longer. But whenever we have the right combination of the right hardware, the right sensor and the right processor, we?ll introduce a new camera.

When you were planning the GFX, what kind of photographers did you have in mind?

After our experience with the GFX challenge, we actually see a much wider potential audience than we?d originally thought. It will depend on what kinds of lenses we introduce. For example, we didn?t think that street photographers would use medium format much, but [based on feedback] we hope that we can reach a broader audience.

You have a six-lens roadmap for GFX right now - how will this lineup evolve?

After the announcement of the GFX we started to get a lot of requests from photographers about other lenses. For example a lot of photographers are asking us for telephoto lenses, in the 200-300mm range. Nature photographers for example. Also people are asking for a wide-angle, like a 15mm equivalent, and an equivalent to the 70-200mm on full-frame.

Fujifilm's recently updated lens roadmap for the APS-C X Series, including new lenses coming next year. We're told that ultra-wide and fast tele lenses have been requested for the GFX platform, too.  If you do develop those kinds of longer lenses, aimed at wildlife photographers, presumably the autofocus system will need to be able to keep up?

The autofocus algorithm in the GFX is the same as in the X Series, but performance is different. The readout speed of the sensor is critical, and that?s not the same. Compared to the X Series, the speed is more limited.

Is this something you?ll be working on in the future?

Yes absolutely.

When you started coming up with the concept for a medium format camera, did you ever consider using a non-mirrorless design?

When we started studying the possible design, we were aware that some of our customers wanted a rangefinder-style camera. ?It?s a Fujifilm medium-format, it has to be a rangefinder!? However, at least in our first-generation camera, we wanted to reach a wider audience. We concluded that a mirrorless design would be much more versatile. Mirrorless gives us more freedom, and more flexibility.

The GFX's 50MP sensor is 4X larger than the APS-C sensors in Fujifilm's X Series cameras. This entails a lot of extra processing power, which is one of the reasons why the GFX sensor has a conventional bayer pattern filter array.  Was it easier, ultimately, to design around a mirrorless concept?

There are fewer mechanical parts, which is simpler. No mirror or pentaprism also means smaller size and weight.

Did you design this camera with the intention that customers could use adapted lenses from other systems?

Yes of course. We made the flange-back distance short enough to accommodate mount adapters for legacy lenses. We are making two adapters, one for H (Hasselblad) mount, and one for view cameras.

When will we begin to see mirrorless cameras take over the professional market?

There are several things that mirrorless manufacturers need to focus on. Number one is speed, still, to attract sports photographers. Also viewfinder blackout, we need to innovate there. Maybe one more processor and sensor generation should be enough to make mirrorless beat DSLRs in every respect.

By the time of the Tokyo 2020 olympics, will there be mirrorless cameras on the sidelines?

I think so, yes.

From Fujifilm?

Hopefully!

Can you tell us about the new Fujinon cine lenses that you've released?

Yesterday we announced new Fujinon cine lenses, in what we?re calling the ?MK series. Fully manual zooms, and manual focus. Initially we?re introducing them in E-Mount versions, but X mount will follow. They?re designed to cover Super 35. The flange-back distance of E and X mount are very similar, so we can use the same optics.

The new Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9 and 50-135mm T2.9 cover the Super 35 imaging area (~APS-C) and are being released in Sony E and Fujifilm X mount.

We have an optical devices division, which markets broadcast and cinema lenses, and I really want to maximize synergies between the broadcast and photography divisions.

Fujinon is well-known in cinema lenses, but until now, the lenses have been very big and very expensive. But now we?re looking at a new kind of video customer, who?s getting into the market via mirrorless. Mostly they?re using SLR lenses, which aren?t perfect. So a lot of those customers are looking for more affordable cinema lenses.

Do you see most potential in the E-mount, for video?

Yes, we think so. But obviously we?re releasing these lenses in X-mount too, and increasing movie quality in the X Series is very important. Traditionally, Fujifilm has been more of a stills company, but when we introduced the X-T2, we had a lot of good feedback about the 4K video, especially about color. Of course we need to do more, and we need to develop more technology, but I think there?s a lot of potential.

For now, Fujifilm tells us that they see most potential in videographers using Sony's E-mount mirrorless cameras, but the company has ambitious plans to expand the video functionality of its X Series range.  Moving on to the X100F - what was the main feedback from X100T users, in terms of things that they wanted changed?

A lot of customers wanted improved one-handed operability. So we moved all the buttons to the right of the LCD, like the X-Pro 2. And the integrated ISO and shutter speed dial, for instance.

The lens remains unchanged - why is this?

We looked into whether we should change it, but it would have affected the size of the camera, and we concluded that the form-factor is one of the most important selling-points of the X100 series. Of course we evaluated the image quality, with the new 24MP sensor, but concluded that it was still good.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The X100F features the same 23mm F2 lens as its predecessors, but Fujifilm ran the numbers and saw no reason to update the lens for 24MP. We do wish there was a 28mm version, though.   Do your customers ask you for an X100-series camera with a 28mm lens?

Yes, of course. That?s why we have the 28mm wide converter for the X100, and the X70. And there?s potential to expand the fixed-lens APS-C camera range more.

Will X-Trans continue in the next generation of APS-C sensors?

For APS-C, definitely. For the GFX format, we?ll probably continue with the conventional bayer pattern. If you try to put X-Trans into medium format, the processing gets complicated, and the benefit isn?t very big.

How big is the extra processing requirement for X-Trans compared to bayer?

X-Trans is a 6x6 filter arrangement, not 4x4, it?s something like a 20-30% increase in processing requirement. 


Editor's note:

It's exciting to pick up and use a production-quality GFX 50S, after writing about it for so many months, and Fujifilm's senior executives are understandably keen to get the camera in the hands of photographers. Due to ship in just a few days, the GFX looks like a hugely impressive product,. We'll have to wait for Raw support to take a really detailed look at what the camera can do, but our early shooting suggests that image quality really is superb. 

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It was interesting to learn a little about the feedback process, by which Fujifilm gathered notes, impressions, and suggestions from professional photographers after the launch of the GFX last year. The end result is a very nicely balanced camera, both literally (it's surprisingly lightweight) and figuratively. Although obviously very different to the X series APS-C models, the GFX is simple to figure out, and easy to shoot with. When Mr Iida says that he hopes that 'the GFX will change how people view medium format', part of this comes down to handling. 

It was also interesting to hear that Fujifilm considered other types of design for the GFX. Are there concept renderings somewhere of an SLR design, or a rangefinder? Probably. Will we ever see a medium-format SLR or mirrorless from Fujifilm? Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the company releases a rangefinder styled medium-format mirrorless. An X-Pro 2-style camera with a medium-format sensor and a hybrid viewfinder? Yes please.

For now though, the GFX is quite enough camera to be getting on with. Beyond medium-format, indeed beyond still imaging, Fujifilm is eyeing the video market. While Fujinon cine lenses have been popular in the film industry for decades, Mr Iida has his eye on a new generation of videographers, who are growing up using mirrorless cameras like Sony's a7S and a7R-series. This makes sense, but it's interesting that the new Fujinon zooms will also be manufactured in X mount versions. This level of confidence from Fujifilm in its X series' video capabilities is good to see, and bodes well for future product development. 



CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes
24 Feb 2017 at 8:22am
CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Voigtländer announced three new lenses at this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, for the Sony E Mount. We're at the show, and we made our way to the Voigtländer booth earlier to take a closer look at the Nokton classic 35mm F1.4, Nokton 40mm F1.2, and Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 (pictured above). 

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

This is the Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2, which like all Voigtländer primes, is finished to a very high standard. A physical aperture ring with well-placed 1/3EV detents is positioned - rangefinder style - at the far end of the lens, and a broad, knurled focusing ring further back, towards the camera. The red, green and blue flashes are a nod to the older and much sought-after 125/2.5 APO-Lanthar.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Electrical contacts communicate EXIF to the camera body, which is a big advantage in manual lenses.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

At its minimum focusing distance, the 62mm can achieve a maximum magnification of 1:2. Not quite 'true' macro, but not bad. As you can see though, despite its modest focal length, the lens extends considerable when in its near-macro focus range. 

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

At infinity on the other hand, it's a pleasantly compact short telephoto prime.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

The Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 Aspherical was announced at Photokina 2016 as a concept, but is now moving towards production. Pricing and availability has yet to be confirmed.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Here is the Nokton 40mm F1.2 Aspherical - a fast, 'normal' prime lens for the Sony E mount. Cosmetically similar to the 65mm macro, the 40mm is more compact, obviously much brighter lens. 

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

The fastest 40mm ever made for full frame (in case you've been waiting for one) the 40mm Nokton is based on an older VM (Leica M) mount lens, but has been 'optimized' for Sony E mount.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Again, electrical contacts ensure that EXIF information is recorded to the camera. According to Voigtländer's (slightly imprecisely translated) press release, the 40mm Nokton features a 'weak aperture stop click release mechanism' for smooth, clickless aperture progression in video shooting. Full disclosure - we couldn't figure out how to engage it, but it's been a very long day. 

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

A close focusing distance of 40cm isn't amazing, but that's one of the tradeoffs of such a fast maximum aperture. Again, pricing and availability of the 40mm Nokton has yet to be confirmed, but we'll update this story if and when the information becomes available. 

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Another design adapted from an older lens, the Nokton classic 35mm F1.4 is an E-mount version of the M-mount Nokton that Voigtländer has been selling for some time. This lens was only on show under glass, so we didn't get to handle it. We'd expect it to be built to the same high standard as the older M-mount version though.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Another view of the Nokton 35mm, showing off its minimalist design.

CP+ 2017: Hands-on with new Voigtländer E-mount primes

Again, in the rangefinder style, the Nokton classic features a slim aperture ring positioned at the front of the lens. A broad focusing ring makes up most of the lens's length. 



Get your pictures in front a NASA photo editor by entering Astronomy Photogra...
24 Feb 2017 at 8:01am
Serene Saturn Winner Planets, Comets & Asteroids 2016 © Damian Peach (UK)

The Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition is set to open next week offering space photographers the chance to have their work judged by a picture editor from NASA as well as to win the top prize of £10,000. The competition is open to professional and amateur photographers who can choose from nine categories in which to enter their images. Entry is free but restricted to ten images in total all of which need to have been taken since January 1st 2016.

The winner of each category will receive a £1500 prize while those in runner-up positions get £500 and Commended images win £250. There are an additional two special awards for The Sir Patrick Moore Award Best Newcomer and for Robotic Scope Image of the Year ? both of which earn the photographer £750.

Joining the judging panel this year is photographer Rebecca Roth, the Image Coordinator and Social Media Specialist at NASA?s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She will judge alongside a collection of astronomers and astro-photographers as well as presenters from the BBC Sky at Night TV program. Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans is also on the judging panel.

The competition is open for entries from Monday February 27th and closes on Friday April 7th. It is run by the Royal Observatory Greenwich in the UK along with the BBC?s Sky at Night magazine. The Royal Observatory is a charitable organization and has some terms regarding additional uses beyond the realms of the competition that entrants should acquaint themselves with before submitting their work.

For more information see the Royal Museums Greenwich website and the terms and conditions page.

Press release

INSIGHT ASTRONOMY PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2017 ANNOUNCES COMPETITION DATES AND WELCOMES REBECCA ROTH OF NASA TO THE JUDGING PANEL

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Insight Investment and BBC Sky at Night Magazine, announces the dates for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 competition ? its annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, whether they are striking pictures of vast galaxies millions of light years away, or dramatic images of the night sky much closer to home.

Now in its ninth year, the hugely popular competition will open to entrants on Monday 27 February giving them a chance of taking home the grand prize of £10,000. Entrants will have until Friday 7 April to enter up to ten images into the various categories of the competition via www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto.

The competition also welcomes Rebecca Roth of NASA to the judging panel. Based in Washington D.C. Rebecca is a photographer, photo editor and social media specialist, currently working as the Image Coordinator and Social Media Specialist at NASA?s Goddard Space Flight Center. Rebecca has worked at NASA for nearly 8 years and is charged with sharing amazing images of our universe with the media and with the public through channels such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Prior to working at NASA, Rebecca worked as a photojournalist and photo editor for outlets including National Geographic Television & Film, Roll Call Newspaper, and USA Weekend Magazine. Of her latest role as a judge for the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017, Rebecca has said, ?At NASA Goddard, we build spacecraft and instruments, and invent new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe ? a favorite part of my job is sharing images of these spacecraft and the images they produce with the public. This will be an exciting and unique opportunity to see the spectacular images of space captured by the public themselves and discovering their photographic interpretations of the night sky and beyond.?

Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2017 has nine main categories:

- Skyscapes: Landscape and cityscape images of twilight and the night sky featuring the Milky Way, star trails, meteor showers, comets, conjunctions, constellation rises, halos and noctilucent clouds alongside elements of earthly scenery.

- Aurorae: Photographs featuring auroral activity.

- People and Space: Photographs of the night sky including people or a human interest element.

- Our Sun: Solar images including solar eclipses and transits.

- Our Moon: Lunar images including lunar eclipses and occultation of planets.

- Planets, Comets and Asteroids: Everything else in our solar system, including planets and their satellites, comets, asteroids and other forms of zodiacal debris.

- Stars and Nebulae: Deep space objects within the Milky Way galaxy, including stars, star clusters, supernova remnants, nebulae and other intergalactic phenomena.

- Galaxies: Deep space objects beyond the Milky Way galaxy, including galaxies, galaxy clusters, and stellar associations.

- Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year: Pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.

There are also two special prizes: The Sir Patrick Moore Prize for Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before, and Robotic Scope, acknowledges the best photo taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by 7 April 2017, and the winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory Greenwich from 14 September 2017.

Photographers can enter online by visiting www.rmg.co.uk/astrophoto and each entrant may submit up to ten images to the competition.



CP+ 2017: You want a Fujifilm GFX 50S (and we have the shots to prove it)
24 Feb 2017 at 2:20am

The Fujifilm GFX 50S is one of the most talked-about recent camera launches, and for good reason. Announced at Photokina last year, it's Fujifilm's first medium-format camera since the days of film.

It's based around a familiar 51.4MP sensor, uses a new G-mount and offers weather sealing. With its late February launch imminent, we've just taken delivery of a production camera, in Yokohama. Take a look at some of the first images from this potentially groundbreaking new system.

See our Fujifilm GFX 50S sample gallery



CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4
24 Feb 2017 at 1:53am
CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Ricoh has added two prime lenses to its full-frame lens roadmap for the Pentax K-1: the forthcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4 and 85mm F1.4. Although details are scant, we did sneak a peek at the 50mm, which was showcased in a plexiglass box on the show floor.

Here it is - the forthcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4 'reference lens'.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

If you look closely at the gold ring on the lens barrel, a strip of tape has been used to cover up some lettering, after the lens name. We wonder whether it conceals 'WR'. We'd expect flagship primes to be weather-sealed, but it's possible that this aspect of the specification has yet to be finalized.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Although this appears to be a cosmetically (more or less) final lens, it stayed firmly under plexiglass. We asked really nicely, but this was as close as we could get. 

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

Designed to cover a full-frame imaging circle, the 50mm and 85mm primes will, according to Ricoh, deliver 'high-contrast images and [a] beautiful bokeh (defocus) effect'.

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

The FA* denotes flagship, reference lenses, which should represent the pinnacle of image quality for the K-mount when they are eventually released. 

CP+ 2017: Ricoh teases upcoming D FA* 50mm F1.4

We'll add more details (and images) if we can persuade someone to lift up the box and show us the lens at close quarters, but for now, here's a picture of a Pentax KP that's been cut in half, just to tide you over.



Fujifilm updates X-mount lens roadmap
23 Feb 2017 at 8:32pm

Fujifilm's creation of cine lenses and a medium-format system doesn't mean it's forgotten its stills-shooting X-mount audience. The company has announced an updated lens roadmap, adding an ultra-wide zoom and a telephoto prime lens, both due in 2018.

The updated roadmap positions the 'Ultra Wide Angle Zoom' fractionally to the left of the existing 10-24mm F4 R OIS (15-36mm equiv), suggesting it's likely to cover a similar range but presumably with a different aperture value. Meanwhile, the 'Telephoto Prime' lens seems pinned around the 200mm (300 equiv) point.

The X-mount versions of the MK cine zooms are also added to the roadmap, joining the 80mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro as being expected in 2017.

 The latest version of the Fujifilm X-mount lens roadmap can be found here.



Cosina announces development of three Voigtländer E-mount lenses
23 Feb 2017 at 7:39pm
From left to right: Nokton classic 35mm F1.4, Nokton 40mm F1.2, Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2.

Cosina has announced the development of three manual focus Voigtländer prime lenses for Sony E-mount: the MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm F2 Aspherical, the Classic Nokton 35mm F1.4, and NOKTON 40mm F1.2 Aspherical. All three lenses offer complete E-mount support and will transmit EXIF data, will work with in-body image stabilization and allow automatic magnification when focusing.

Originally announced at Photokina 2016, the Macro APO-Lanthar 65mm F2 is one of the brightest Macro lenses for full-frame, and offers a reproduction ratio of 1:2. The Classic Nokton 35mm F1.4 is a redesign of the M-mount version, with optimization for the Sony's sensor. Finally, the Nokton 40mm F1.2 is the fastest 40mm for full-frame format, and will be one of the fastest E-mount lenses available.

Pricing and release dates for all three lenses are currently unavailable.



StyleShoots Live robotic photography studio uses AI to shoot and process photos
23 Feb 2017 at 7:02pm

A new robotic 'smart studio' device aims to increase brands' photography efficiency and productivity by replacing, to a certain degree, professional human photographers with artificial intelligence and a robotic camera/lighting system. Called StyleShoots Live, this smart studio is equipped with robotic lighting, a Canon 1DX Mark II camera, and machine intelligence for shooting, processing and exporting photos and video automatically.

StyleShoots, the Dutch company behind the smart studio, unveiled the product on Wednesday, saying it is ?designed to create instantly edited video and stills for fashion lifestyle and eCommerce shoots in minutes.? This is made possible via a large steel enclosure in which a model is posed. A variety of technologies then make technical decisions, adjusting lighting and camera settings as necessary to shoot content that matches brand-specified customized styles.

The resulting content is automatically processed, including things like cropping images to certain aspect ratios or stitching together multiple videos. The final content can then be reviewed by the human in charge and, if approved, exported for various platforms. A human is given control over the entire process via a built-in iPad Pro with a Live View mode of the model.

Speaking about the smart studio, StyleShoots? Head of Product Anders Jorgensen said:

'Fashion brands need to keep their customers engaged with fresh content every day - and video shared on social media is the most powerful form of storytelling. To keep up with the continuous demand, StyleShoots Live creates stills and video ready for publishing on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and websites within minutes - without any manual editing or post production.'

Of course, such a studio raises concerns about technology and its potential ability to replace human photographers with machines. In response to that concern, StyleShoots explained in a long FAQ sheet that it didn?t design its smart studio to be a replacement for humans. ?To run a fashion shoot,? the company explained, ?you need a creative eye to compose the shot, pose the model and style the clothes ? a robot can?t do that (yet).'

Source: StyleShoots



Huawei announces Honor VR 360-degree camera
23 Feb 2017 at 6:56pm

VR is widely viewed as the 'next big thing' and everybody wants their piece of the pie. Chinese manufacturer Huawei is no exception and at an event in Beijing the company has announced the release of a clip-on 360-degree camera for smartphones. It will be developed by Insta360 and marketed under Huawei's sub-brand as the Honor VR Camera.

?We?re thrilled to partner with Huawei to grow the global community of 360-degree and VR creators,? said JK Liu, founder and CEO of Insta360. ?Like us, Huawei is committed to reinventing photography, and they believe in our products as the best way to introduce users to the future of the camera.?

Technical specifications are scarce at the moment but we know the camera offers 3K photography and seamless livestreaming. As part of the partnership, Insta360 also developed an app for capturing, sharing and livestreaming 360-degree content.

Looking at the specs and images it is fair to assume the Honor VR camera will be based on the brand new Insta360 Air for Android camera, which comes with an F2.4 aperture, 3008 x 1504 photo resolution and 2560 x 1280 video at 30 frames per seconds. Like the Honor VR it connects to Android smartphones via a USB micro or Type-C connector. We have just received an Insta360 Air, so look out for a review soon. The Huawei VR should be available 'soon,' we expect to hear more detail at Mobile World Congress which starts on Sunday. 

Ming Zhao, president of Honor Huawei Business Unit, holds up an Honor VR Camera.

Ricoh announces development of Pentax 50mm F1.4, adds lenses to K-mount roadmap
23 Feb 2017 at 6:06pm

Pentax is displaying a prototype version of a new 50mm F1.4 for K-mount at CP+ 2017, and has also added an 85mm F1.4 and an unspecified telephoto zoom to their roadmap.

Press Release

RICOH to Exhibit One Reference Product at CP? 2017 Camera and Imaging Show

TOKYO, February 22, 2017 ?RICOH COMPANY, LTD and RICOH IMAGING COMPANY, LTD. is pleased to inform the exhibition of one reference product -- interchangeable lens currently under development -- at CP + 2017 , one of the largest and most comprehensive camera and imaging show in Asia. This annual event will be held from February 23rd to February 26th at the PACIFICO YOKOHAMA convention center in Japan.

Reference of Products Interchangeable lens for PENTAX K mount digital cameras Model name: D FA?50mmF1.4(tentative) Product information: An image circle accommodating the image size of 35mm full-frame digital cameras High-performance Star (?)-series lens with high-resolution , high-contrast images and beautiful bokeh (defocus) effect Price: Not decided Market launch: Not decided Notes: Model name, design, specification are all tentative and subject to change without notice. Price and marketing launch date will be announced at later date.

Buyer's Guide: Canon EOS Rebel T7i (800D) vs EOS 77D vs EOS 80D
23 Feb 2017 at 3:00pm

In February, Canon announced the EOS Rebel T7i (800D) and EOS 77D, adding two new choices to the company's already confusing lineup. In this article we'll break down what separates the T7i, 77D and the existing EOS 80D ? and which is the best one for your needs.

Spec comparison   Rebel T7i/800D EOS 77D EOS 80D MSRP (body only) $749  $899 $1199 Sensor 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Processor Digic 7 Digic 6 ISO range ISO 100-25600
(expands to 51200) ISO 100-12800
(expands to 25600) AF system  Dual Pixel + 45-pt all-cross-type Shutter speed 30 - 1/4000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec  X-sync 1/200 sec 1/250 sec LCD size/type 3" fully-articulating (1.04M-dot)  Viewfinder mag/coverage 0.82x / 95% 0.95x / 100%
('Intelligent') Control dials One Two Max Continuous 6 fps  7 fps Video 1920 x 1080 @ 60p/30p/24p Headphone jack No Yes Bluetooth Yes No Battery life (CIPA) 600 shots 960 shots Battery grip No Optional Weather-sealing No Yes Dimensions 131 x 100 x 76mm 131 x 100 x 76mm 139 x 105 x 79mm Weight (CIPA) 532 g  540 g 730 g

In most respects, the 80D is the better of the three cameras, which is what you'd expect given its price premium. Let's break it down into various areas for a closer look.

Body & Design

What really sets these three models apart are style and build quality. The EOS Rebel T7i is very much a Rebel. It's compact, plastic and has a single control dial and small-ish optical viewfinder. The T7i, along with the other two cameras in this comparison, has a 3" fully articulating touchscreen LCD.

The Rebel T7i's top-plate controls are all located on the right side. The EOS 77D adds an LCD info display in the place of the mode dial, which moves to the left. The optical viewfinder, LCD and most of the controls are the same on the T7i as they are on the 77D. The 77D adds a second control dial around the directional controller (with a lock switch) as well as an AF-On button for fans of back-button focus.

As you'd expect, the 80D is bigger and better in terms of build quality. The body is weather-sealed and the shutter is rated to 100,000 cycles (Canon doesn't say how long the Rebel and 77D will last, but it's probably safe to say 'not as long'.) Its pentaprism 'Intelligent Viewfinder' has 100% coverage and the ability to overlay all kind of information on top of the scene, such as focus point layout, composition grids and an electronic level. The grip is larger and, unlike the other two models, a battery grip is an optional extra. The 80D also offers a headphone jack, in addition to the mic jack found on the other two models.

The controls on the 77D are quite similar to those on the 80D. The 80D has a larger viewfinder and no labels on its directional controller. It lacks the Wi-Fi button found on the 77D. Again, the 77D closely resembles its big brother. The 80D has additional buttons, though, for AF, drive and metering. The Guts

The Rebel T7i, EOS 77D and EOS 80D share the same 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor. This sensor sees a significant improvement in Raw dynamic range over previous Canon sensors, though still falls behind most competitors. The Rebel and 77D have Canon's latest Digic 7 processor, compared to the Digic 6 on the 80D. Canon claims that the Digic 7 provides a full-stop improvement in JPEG high ISO noise levels compared to Digic 6, though comparing the Digic 7-powered EOS M5 against the 80D seems to contradict that. Raw noise performance in low light should be similar between all models. The native ISO range tops out at 25600 on Digic 7 vs 12800 on Digic 6. All three cameras can further expand their maximum ISO by a full stop. 

Canon says that the Digic 7 also improves subject-tracking performance, and when we reviewed the EOS M5 mirrorless camera, we found it to be a step above the EOS 80D. It's probably a safe assumption that the Rebel T7i and EOS 77D will perform as well as the M5 when live view shooting.

Digics aside, all three cameras use the same Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which we've found to be effective for both stills and video. They also share a 45-point, all-cross-type phase-detect system for shooting through the viewfinder as well as a 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that uses 'Color Tracking' to detect skin color and assist in focusing. We haven't found subject tracking (the ability of the camera to automatically shift AF points to track your subject around the frame) to be as reliable in viewfinder shooting as it is in Dual Pixel AF mode, though viewfinder AF has its own set of advantages.

When shooting through the viewfinder on all three cameras you'll get 45 all-cross-type points, with the center-point being dual-cross-type (high precision for fast lenses). Dual Pixel AF has phase-detect pixels built into the CMOS sensor, which allows for fast AF in live view and video. The phase-detect area covers 80% of the frame, as illustrated above.
Features

This is the area in which the three cameras start to diverge, though not dramatically. Let's start at the bottom with the Rebel T7i/800D.

The T7i offers Full HD video capture at 60p, 30p and 24p, as well as the PAL equivalents at bit rates of up to 60Mbps. You get manual exposure control and Auto ISO while capturing video, though it's not clear if the T7i will let you adjust exposure compensation in those situations (signs point to 'yes'). Nor is it clear if minimum shutter speed settings for Auto ISO will be available in all these models (it was oddly missing from the M5, albeit present on the 80D). Manual audio level controls are available, plus a wind filter.

You get to take advantage of Dual Pixel AF's solid subject tracking performance and easy rack-focusing courtesy of the touchscreen display. There's also a time-lapse movie mode and an HDR movie mode (shudder). Something that the Digic 7 allows for is 5-axis digital image stabilization for smooth video capture, which is a feature the 80D's Digic 6 does not support.

In terms of continuous shooting, the T7i can take up to 27 Raw, 23 Raw+JPEG or an unlimited number of JPEGs at 6 fps, assuming that you're using a high-speed UHS-I card. Battery life sits at 600 shots per charge (CIPA standard).

And then there's Wi-Fi, which is Canon's most advanced system yet. You get the usual Wi-Fi connectivity using the Canon Connect app, as well as NFC for quick pairing with Android phones. What's new is Bluetooth support, which not only makes pairing easy, but also maintains a constant connection so you can quickly turn your phone into a remote. When using the app with Bluetooth there's a shutter release button for shooting, plus a four-way controller for playback. If you want full-on remote control with live view, the app will automatically switch over to Wi-Fi.

Canon's new BR-E1 Bluetooth remote is compatible with the Rebel T7i/800D and the EOS 77D. Notice the W/T buttons, which can be used with the available PZ-E1 power zoom adapter (that only works with the EF-S 18-135mm PZ at this time).

Something new the T7i/800D brings to the table is Feature Assistant, which is very similar to the Guide feature on the Nikon D3000-series. When you rotate the mode dial, the LCD displays visual representations of what each mode does. Once you've selected a mode, you'll get a slider that illustrates the effect of aperture or shutter speed adjustment. It's pretty well-done for those who learn toward the beginner end of the spectrum. This feature is also available on the EOS 77D, though it's hidden by default.

So what features do you gain by stepping up to the EOS 77D, aside from the physical ones? Not a whole lot. You gain interval and bulb timers and a few more custom controls (due to the extra physical buttons). Everything else, including burst rate and battery life, is identical.

Moving up to the 80D mostly provides better performance and even more custom controls. Performance-wise, the max shutter speed rises to 1/8000 sec, the x-sync speed to 1/250 sec, and the burst rate to 7 fps. Battery life is rated at 960 shots per charge, and that's without the optional grip.

Feature-wise you gain a lot more control over autofocus settings, and an AF micro-adjustment tool is also available. What are you missing out on by having a slightly older camera? Really it's just Bluetooth and the 5-axis digital IS in movie mode (we can't imagine your average 80D buyer using the Feature Assistant very often).

So which is best for you?

The difficult decision isn't so much between the 77D and the 80D - the differences are pretty clear-cut. If you need something with much superior build quality, faster burst rates and more controls over autofocus, then it's your choice. While the 80D's live view subject tracking abilities may fall below that of the 77D (and T7i), image quality should be similar, despite Canon's claims to the contrary.

The Rebel T7i / EOS 800D showing off its new UI.

The choice between the Rebel T7i/800D vs the 77D is where it's a bit more challenging. Obviously, budget will be one thing any buyer will consider. If you're pinching pennies then you're probably going to choose the Rebel, whose innards are considering better than the T6i which it replaces. If you're willing to spend about $150 more, then we think that the EOS 77D is the better choice. It's not any larger, the extra control dial saves a lot of hassle and the LCD info display is a nice touch.


If you're trying to make this exact decision right now, or just want to propose alternatives, then head down to the comment section below. Let us know if we missed anything in this comparison, too!



CP+ 2017: Hands-on with Sigma's newest lenses
23 Feb 2017 at 1:46pm
Hands on with Sigma's four new lenses 

Sigma announced a whopping four new lenses just prior to CP+ 2017, in Yokohama, Japan. As soon as the show opened to the press, we headed straight to the Sigma booth for some hands on time. Three of the lenses announced are part of Sigma's high-end 'Art' series including the 24-70mm F2.8 you see above, as well as a 135mm F1.8 and a 14mm F1.8.  

Sigma also announced a 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens which is part of the company's more modestly-priced 'Contemporary' series.

Click through the gallery for hands on photos of each lens and some initial impressions of build quality, size and weight. 

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art

The Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 is surprisingly lightweight (for an Art-series lens) and reasonably compact. Here it is shown with the focal length set to 24mm. Build quality seems excellent and the 24-70mm F2.8 is weather and dust-sealed, with rubber gaskets visible on the mount. It is constructed from metal and 'thermally stable composite', which we can only assume is even better than metal, because it sounds fancier. 

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art

The lenses extends a couple of inches when zoomed in to 70mm. Here you can see some of the switches on the lens barrel including the manual/AF toggle as well as a switch to engage and disengage the image stabilization. 

Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art

The 24-70 F2.8 Art has a minimum focus distance of 0.37 meters (1.2 feet). It also feature a 9-blade circular aperture. Optical construction includes three SLD and four aspherical elements. 

Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM

Sigma also announced a new telephoto prime lens. Like the 85mm F1.4, the 135mm F1.8 DG HSM is a big lens, and pretty heavy too - weighing in at 1130g/40.2oz.

Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM

The 135mm F1.8 offers a minimum focus distance of 0.875 meters (2.9 feet). It uses a hypersonic motor to focus, which Sigma says should result in fast and 'exceptionally stable' AF. And a acceleration sensor 'detects the orientation of the lens' so the AF system can respond to 'varying loads on the focusing group due to gravity.' In laymen's terms, this means that autofocus should be just as fast, and just as accurate in both portrait and landscape orientations. 

Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM

Mounted on a Canon 5D Mark III you can get a sense of the physical size of the 135mm F1.8. Again, it features a dust and splash-proof construction. Of all the new Sigma lenses we handled, this one has the heftiest feel to it. It also features a 9-blade rounded aperture. 

Sigma14mm F1.8 DG HSM

Moving to the wide end of the lineup, the new 14mm F1.8 has a few of us on staff (especially those of us who like shooting in very low light) extremely excited. Fast, high quality wide-angle lenses for full-frame are pretty rare, and we suspect the 14mm F1.8 will appeal to more than just low light shooters. 

Sigma14mm F1.8 DG HSM

As you might expect, the 14mm F2.8 has a bulbous front element with a built-in lens hood. There's no filter thread, which is pretty standard for wide, fast primes. Optical construction is comprised of 16 elements, of which three are FLD (low dispersion) and four are SLD (super-low-dispersion).

Sigma14mm F1.8 DG HSM

Mounted on a Canon 5D Mark III, this image gives you an idea of how big this prime lens is. Like the other two new 'Art' lenses it features a 9-blade circular aperture, however it does not appear to be dust and weather sealed. It features a minimum focus distance of 0.27m (~10 inches) and uses a ring-type ultrasonic (HSM) focus motor.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

Last but not least is Sigma's new variable-aperture telezoom, the 100-400mm F5-6.4 DG OS HSM. Although reasonably long, it is impressively light considering the focal range. The lens weighs 1160g and measures 182mm in length. It features a dust and splash proof construction as well as optical image stabilization. The lens is shown here zoomed out to 100mm. 

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

When zoomed all the way in the lens barrel does extend considerably, which is common for lenses of this class. The lens can be zoomed in and out by either twisting the zoom ring or physically pulling the front of the lens outward and inward. 

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens

The 100-400mm has a minimum focal distance of 1.8 meters and features a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.8. It is built around a total of 21 elements arranged into 15 groups. It features four SLD (Special Low Dispersion) elements and focuses via hypersonic motor.

Pricing an availability on all these lenses is forthcoming.



Throwback Thursday: the Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L
23 Feb 2017 at 11:00am
Photo by Daniel Dionne

This week the Sigma 'Art' line gained a lens many had been clamoring for: a 24-70mm F2.8 zoom, which nowadays seems a required lens for many professional shooters. This week we go back to where it started: the original Canon 24-70mm F2.8L.

Look across all camera systems and you'll find that they all offer some sort of constant aperture 24-70mm or 'normal' zoom equivalent that covers this range. There's a good reason for it. This zoom range covers the wide area and the mild telephoto area, rather than all wide or all tele. It's a flexible range, and appeals to photographers of many different disciplines.

The odd thing is, the 24-70 is only 15 years old. In 2002 the very first 24-70, Canon's F2.8L, replaced its already highly regarded 28-70mm F2.8L. Since then, the 28-70 zoom has faded away and is typically only seen as a variable-aperture kit zoom, or affordable constant-aperture zoom lens. Everyone since has gone crazy for the 24-70.

Unusually, the 24-70 F2.8 was 'longest' at its wide-angle end. Photo by Cburnett.

The original had some very interesting design quirks. The zoom is 'reversed', meaning the barrel is at its maximum extension at 24mm, and is at its shortest at 70mm. With the lens hood mounted behind this extending element, the lens shade was able to provide the right amount of coverage for all focal lengths, as its extension relative to the front element is shortest at 24mm, and longest at 70mm, getting out of the way when wide, and providing extra shade when shooting at 70mm. 

The 24-70 is at its most compact at its full telephoto end. Photo by Cburnett.

Now, the term '24-70' is fairly ubiquitous, and is almost generic. Wedding shooters and photojournalists have led the way adopting it, attracted to its versatile field of view and constant aperture. By 2007 Nikon had released their own 24-70 F2.8 to replace their 28-70 F2.8. Sony came shortly after with the alpha mount 24-70 in 2008. Third party manufacturers followed suit, releasing their versions in the 2010's.

The Mark II version of Canon's 24-70mm F2.8 arrived in 2012.

When photographers ask questions like 'what lens should I choose for this shoot,' or 'I only have a budget for one lens, what should I get,' plenty of people will recommend a 24-70. What's really amazing is how its popularity can be traced to a single lens introduced just fifteen years ago.



Instagram carousel-style posts are finally here for everyone
23 Feb 2017 at 8:01am

Instagram has started rolling out a new feature to all accounts: an option to include multiple photos and videos in a single post. Starting with version 10.9 for iOS and Android, users can now select up to ten photos and videos to assemble slideshow-style posts. 

Creating slideshows is simple. Start a new post and instead of choosing one image, tap the 'select multiple' option to begin selecting images. You'll be able to drag and drop to re-order images before finalizing the post. In your Instagram feed, blue dots on the bottom of the post are your cue that a post is flippable. 

 

Around town with the Panasonic GX850.

A post shared by Allison (@allisonjo1) on Feb 22, 2017 at 1:16pm PST

Instagram users will recognize slideshows, since they've been an option for advertisers for a couple of years. It wasn't clear until recently whether Instagram would offer the feature to regular schmoes like us, but here we are. One gripe photographers may have though is that the feature forces the 1:1 crop on all slideshow content, unlike individual photo posts.

Are you looking forward to using multiple-photo posts on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.



Catch them all: high resolution poster shows every Pentax SLR ever produced
22 Feb 2017 at 8:36pm

Ricoh has released two posters charting the history of Pentax cameras, both in downloadable high-resolution PDF formats. These posters join the company's existing online Pentax History website, serving as large visual aids to complement the site's extensive product-by-product details.

The first of the two posters is dubbed the ?Pentax Archives,? and it shows camera models over the years starting with the Asahiflex I from 1952. Many of the cameras are accompanied by descriptions detailing the notable aspects of the model. The other poster shows every Pentax SLR from 1952 to 2017.

You can download them here:

Pentax Archives Every Pentax SLR from 1952 to 2017

Those interested in additional information can view the brand?s history archives sorted by year, film and digital categories here.

Via: PentaxRumors



 
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