May 022014
 

The Nikon V3 Arrives. 1st Impression report.

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UPDATE: A quick super fast generic J1 vs V3 JPEG OOC test is HERE.

My V3 review sample arrived today and I was excited to test it. FINALLY, the V3 we have been waiting for! WooHoo! Many of you here know I was and am a huge Nikon 1 system fan and my fave was the original V1. 

Then I opened the box and took the camera out. Uh Oh. 1st impression is that Nikon dropped the ball. The V3 is TINY, feels cheap (The $200 J1 feels nicer and better made), the EVF is cheap without a swivel and is quite small..but the killer for me? The V3 now takes MICRO SD cards! YUCK! Gone is the SD card slot and it is replaced by an itsy bitsy teeny weeny Micro SD card slot. I am not a fan of using Micro SD cards in a camera, especially one that costs $1200 as the V3 Kit package does.

So yes, my 1st impression was not a good one. I decided to load up the battery and take it out in my yard to test the AF and all of the other good stuff such as the new 10-30 Kit Zoom. Maybe it would wow me with something cool and unique or its overall abilities when in use…

…AF is very fast but no faster than the new $700 Sony A6000. Shutter sounds pretty nice, but no nicer than the new $700 Sony A6000. IQ? Same as the V1 and V2 in my limited snaps out back (which I do love). The new kit zoom seems softer than the old one. For $1200 Nikon has delivered the cheapest feeling and smallest V body yet. In comparison, the failed AW1 felt like a tank in comparison. Not sure who is making the decisions at Nikon these days but they do not seem to care about the 1 system nor the users who fell in love with the nice V1 and V2.

With such disappointment out of the gate I may not even do a full review. It does nothing to inspire me or motivate me. It feels cheap, it is too small, has nothing special about it and is a step backwards from the V1 and V2 in build, feel and maybe even IQ. The Micro SD card was a bad move as well.

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The new 10-30 zoom has pretty noticeable barrel distortion as well (looking at OOC JPEGS).

In the $1200 price range I would take many cameras over this V3, and even save some money while I was at it. I have been a huge Nikon 1 fan since the V1 but Nikon let us down with the V3, at least that is my opinion after an hour or so with it. Way too much competition with better cameras and lenses for less money. After messing with the V3 around the house for a while I would say that this camera should come in at around $399-$599 today simply because there is much better out there for less money (The Olympus E-M10 with lens for under $700 is a much better buy than the V3 and will outperform it in every way). This may be the nail in the coffin for the 1 system as what Nikon has delivered in a V3 falls really short of what was needed in todays market. I have some nice 1 system lenses so I may buy a V2 once it goes to fire sale clearance. I will be skipping the V3.

YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE V3 AT B&H PHOTO HERE. Maybe some of you will enjoy it :) For me, it is too much of a letdown as it could have been so much more. While I look at the positive in everything, I really have very little to say about the V3 that is good…or positive besides the fast speed that we always have had with the 1 system but I get this with the V1 and J1 already. I mean, it is a good 1 series camera but why buy a V3 that feels cheaper, is smaller, uses an external EVF when you can get a V1 or V2 that has a better feel, built in EVF, etc for much less?

Just a few of the alternatives that are a much better buy IMO: Sony A6000, Fuji X100s, Olympus E-M10, Panasonic GX7, or a Nikon V2. Maybe even a Leica C.

My next reviews? Sony A6000, Sony A7s, Leica C, Voigtlander 75 1.8 on the Leica M

Jul 262013
 

The Samsung NX300..my thoughts and a Guest User Report!

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1st up…

The Samsung NX300, my thoughts, a continued 1st look

by Steve Huff

I have had a Samsung NX300 with me for a while now. 1st with the 18-55 OIS Kit Lens and then a 30mm f/2 lens was sent to me by Samsung. They asked me to try out the camera and lenses to see what I thought as Samsung was extremely proud of what they have created with the NX300, which they feel is their best NX to date, by far. I ADMIT, I have never been a huge Samsung NX fan BUT NOT because of anything that has been lacking in quality. Rather, I have just been having too much fun with the other cameras that have come through the house. Samsung has always struck me as a jack of all trades kind of company. Phones, tablets, TV’s and everything Electronic, even more so than Sony so I do not see them as a “Camera Company” but an electronics Giant who wants to compete in the Camera market. Sony does the same but Sony purchased Minolta a few years back so they have that on their site..a real camera company from years past.

As for Samsung, I have shot with one or two of them in the past and enjoyed their ergonomics, build and even responsiveness but for some reason, not sure what it was, I never came back or actually bought one. When Samsung approached me about becoming a part of a program they were launching to help promote the camera, and offered me a free NX300 for doing so, I hesitated. I told them that I would happily review the camera if they sent me one but I could not keep the camera in exchange for constant posts or tweets about it. So I declined the offer but told them I would review the camera.

NX300 and 30 f/2 at f/2 – JPEG – ISO 200

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In the end I told them I would review it and then send it back to them when I was done. With it being so busy for me over the past 3 months I have had some use of the NX300 but not as much as I have liked because the newer cameras were my priority. With that said, I have to say that when I do pick up the NX300 it is a JOY to shoot and use. The build is really nice, the design is retro but modern and beats the Sony NEX series in the looks department for me hands down. The IQ is nice, and the dials are all solid and feel great. It is a well made machine. As I shoot I wonder why this  thing is not on the minds of more shooters.

DSC00535

The LCD is a nice 3.3″ display and touch screen and is gorgeous. The camera focuses fast and speedy and with the APS-C sensor inside, offers APS-C quality. So with all of this, why does Samsung struggle with sales? It seems that Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, Nikon and almost everyone else sells more cameras than Samsung. There are also many Samsung haters out there who seem to have a mission to trash talk them, for no good reason. The NX300 is a great camera. Lenses like the 30 f/offer a fast 50 equivalent and I hear that the 85 1.4 is stellar. No, not Hasselblad Stellar :)

ISO 1600 – JPEG

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I am starting to shoot the NX300 more and more now that I have the other reviews done but I can say my only real complaint is the fact that there is no EVF built-in or even available for the camera. I love my EVF’s :) So with that being my only real niggle so far, I look at the price of the NX300 with a lens included. $798 WITH 18-55 OIS Zoom lens. Not cheap but not expensive for an APS-C camera of this quality and build. The 30mm f/2 lens that gives an almost 50mm FOV is only $299, and is a great lens that seems to give better performance than most of the Sony NEX lenses.

The 30 f/2

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The NX300 has a 20MP APS-C sensor, Full HD video capability, Hybrid and FAST AF with Phase and Contrast detect, WiFi, Touch AF and control, and includes Adobe Lightroom software. It is just as capable as other APS-C sensor cameras though will not give you the Sony colors or Fuji colors. Instead it will give you a neutral color rendering that many may enjoy. I still have more testing to do with the NX300 but will enjoy getting out and using it more. So stay tuned for more from ME on this one.

Until then, check out a reader report on the NX300 below by Jon Seymour. 

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USER REPORT: Samsung NX300 – A Novice’s Point Of View

By Jon Seymour

I have owned this camera for just a few weeks now, and for me it arrived at exactly the right time. I was looking to make the switch from compact to DSLR, as I wanted to take photography a little more seriously than I had been the past few years, as I have started writing about music, and often travel to concerts for live reviews. It makes perfect sense then that I should want a better camera to get some better shots for my own articles. With the sheer amount of equipment available, I quickly found myself out of my depth, as I had absolutely no clue where to start. Enter the NX300, which I was lucky enough to receive as a competition prize, along with the 18 – 55mm F3.5 – 5.6 kit lens that’s bundled with it.

Pigeons Smart Mode Action Freeze 18-55mm

The first thing I was impressed with was the build quality. It looks the part, and feels weighty in your hand, and I really like the retro styling. What impressed me the most though, was how amazingly simple it was to assemble the camera and take photos straight out of the box. It’s billed as a smart camera, and it is exactly that. As a complete novice, you can switch it to auto, and obtain great results almost all of the time. The user interface is intuitive, and the built-in help menus display the various functions when you highlight them, so you know what each one does.

The camera is far cleverer than most amateur photographers, and I would wager could get better results than if you tried using it on manual, unless you had at least some idea of what you were doing. There is also a “smart mode” where you can select the type of subject you wish to photograph, and the camera optimizes the shutter speed, aperture, ISO and pretty much everything else, so all you need to do is just point it and shoot. Another really great feature is “Touch AF” whereby you tell the camera what you want it to focus on, just by touching the correct portion on the AMOLED screen.

Notre Dam 60mm Macro

As well as the auto modes, there are of course several manual modes that allow you to have more control over your photos. There are basically two kinds of manual modes. The assisted manual modes set up various values automatically, based on your selection of the manual function, and there are 4 of these, and there is the completely manual mode, so you can set the camera up exactly as you want it, without any help from the built-in computer.

The camera comes with several guide books, one of which is a comprehensive guide to photography explaining what all of the functions actually do, and what effect these will have on the finished photo if you change them. It’s a welcome addition to the package, and I have been able to explore the camera’s functionality in-depth, and gain some understanding of how to use it more effectively. The auto mode is great, but doesn’t always produce the results you want. This is where the manual modes really come in useful.

The AMOLED touch screen is clear, and you can select functions from that directly, or use the more traditional buttons placed on the rear of the camera. It’s this dual functionality that really makes the camera attractive, and anyone used to working a smart phone will be instantly at home with it, whereas those who are more used to the traditional control methods are also catered for. The only problem with the screen is that in bright sunlight, it’s really difficult to see it. It would be nice if there were some sort of hood or sunshield available, as this would make things a lot easier. Not having a view finder only adds to this problem, as quite often you are unable to see whether you’re getting the photo you want. There is a digital viewfinder available, but it’s an expensive add on.

The picture quality is really good, and it’s only when you go over ISO3200 that you really begin to notice some noise creeping in to the pictures. At lower ISO though, the pictures are great. It also sees colours quite well, even reds, so that’s a bonus. Also, with a 20.3mp sensor, it makes the images large enough to crop out any unwanted bits, and still be left with a reasonably sized picture.

High Jump 200mm 50mm-200mm Smart Mode Action Freeze

As an introduction to the more advanced world of photography, this is a very good product. It’s intuitive, easy to use, less cumbersome than a full fat DSLR, and will allow you to learn at your own pace, and it’s still fairly forgiving, even on the assisted manual modes. While there are many DSLRs on the market that may be able to produce better results than the NX300, they will cost considerably more. The NX300 though should be thought of as an extremely advanced compact camera, rather than a fully functional DSLR. There are a wide variety of lenses available, some of which I had the opportunity to use, and even in the hands of an idiot such as myself, produced some great photos.

I have spoken to a great many professional photographers who have used the NX300, and most of them have adopted it as a secondary camera, for occasions when a DSLR isn’t practical. A select few also said that they would use it as their primary camera, as even some of the higher end DSLRs will struggle to outperform it. As for me, well, it’s just begging to be explored. I have started to look at the world in a different way. I used to use a camera because I wanted to take pictures of things, but the NX300 has switched that on its head. I now want to take photographs, simply because I want to use the camera.

Spider Macro 18-55mm

The WiFi feature is also extremely useful, as you can link the camera to your smart phone via the free app available, and instantly transfer pictures from your camera to your phone. If you have an Android phone, you can also make further use of it, as there’s also a remote viewfinder app, which lets you operate the shutter remotely too, although only for photos at the moment, not video, it does come in very useful in bright sunlight when you can’t see the camera’s screen though. Speaking of video too, the recording quality is very good and it is true 1080p HD. The microphone is prone to a little wind noise, but of course, they usually are. It would be nice for an option to plug-in an external mic though.

The camera supports both JPEG and RAW formats, and both are very high quality. There are also many picture sizes to choose from, including square pictures for things like Instagram etc. The camera does suffer somewhat on burst mode and continuous shooting in RAW mode though, and it can render the camera unusable for several minutes while it empties the buffer onto the memory card. If you really must use the burst mode or continuous modes, you’re much better off with JPEG to be honest.

Eiffel Tower 18-55mm

It’s not a cheap camera by any means, but it does come with the full version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which is a very good piece of editing software. This is also something I’d not used before, and for the novices out there, it’s a lot less confusing than the full version of Photoshop. That said, this camera is an investment. If you want a point and click camera, then there are cheaper ones out there, but if like me, you’d like to get a more advanced camera and learn how to use it properly, but are confused by the world of the DSLRs then this is a camera that you should seriously consider. Personally, I think it’s an great piece of technology, and while it might not perform well enough for some professional photographers, it’s certainly good enough to outperform the DSLRs at the lower end of the market, and even many of the more expensive ones.

 Jon Seymour

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Jan 062013
 

fujifilm-x20-and-x100s-leak

The Fuji X100s and X20 announced! Hands on at CES coming next week!

Just what the Dr ordered! The new X100s puts fast AF as it’s priority! See my old Fuji X100 review here to see what this camera is replacing.

Finally! The FujiFilm X100s has been announced and it looks to be a pretty nice improvement over the aging and slow-ish X100. How so? Well Fuji is claiming the worlds fastest Auto Focus! What?!?!? FUJI? Worlds Fastest AF? Well, they say that the new Fuji X100s can AF in as little as 0.08 seconds but they also give a disclaimer saying *under certain conditions” which tells me that it will AF pretty fast in good light but not so much in low light, just like all other cameras on the market today. The addition of Phase Detect AF will surely help Fuji’s claim. Pretty exciting if you ask me.

All in all my guess is the X100s will AF much faster than the old sluggish (but beautiful) X100. It is good to hear that this camera has gotten such an update as the AF was the weakest link with the X100.

The X100s also gets the new X-Trans APS-C CMOS II 16MP sensor. I am guessing this will provide excellent IQ as Fuji IQ is always stellar and if you really want to know my thoughts, I would bet that this X100s will provide better IQ than the X-Pro 1 just due to the new processor and matched prime lens. This X100s appears to have the same f/2 lens as the X100 (which is the 24mm) that will give us a 35mm equivalent due to the APS-C crop. As for aperture you will have the light gathering capability of an f/2 lens but for Bokeh freaks, the lens will not give you the depth of field of a 35 f/2 but of a 24 f/2. So in 35mm terms it is more like a 2.8 when it comes to depth of field.

Also look for the digital split image feature which is a first and a new way for you to manually focus for Fuji. It also seems that Fuji has added some sort of Focus Peaking as well along with some new filters. We still get the Hybrid EVF with an OVF/EVF included and better high ISO capabilities.

It also seems that Fuji improved the startup and lag times and all in all it appears to be a nice upgrade from Fuji. In fact, my guess is this will be the little jewel in the Fuji line. Fastest AF of all X cameras, best high ISO performance, most responsive of all X cameras and sleekest and best looking of all X cameras. I think Fuji has a huge hit as there are many who love the X100 and would jump at the chance for a speedier version with better IQ thrown in to the mix as well. The X100 had plenty of “soul” and the X100s appears to have it too. Fuji is looking good lately!

I will be at CES this week so I am hoping to get over to the fuji booth for a hands on with the new X100s. Look for a video soon. No price yet but I am guessing it will come in around the same as the X100 was at launch or maybe $100 more at around $1299. I could be wrong of course but this is usually how it goes. 

The new X100s features and specs. 

·                  16.3 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor

·                  EXR Processor II

·                  High Definition Hybrid Viewfinder (OVF / EVF)

·                  FUJINON 23mm f/2 lens

·                  Intelligent Hybrid AF (with the world’s fastest AF speed of 0.08 secs (*1))

·                  Start-up time of 0.5 secs (*4)

·                  Shutter time lag of 0.01 secs

·                  Shooting interval of 0.5 secs

·                  High-contrast and wide viewing-angle 2.8-inch Premium Clear LCD (460K dots)

·                  Super Intelligent Flash

·                  Burst shooting rate of up to 6 frames per second at full resolution (max. 29 frames)

·                  Focus Peak Highlight function

·                  Digital Split Image display

·                  Artistic filters

·                  Full HD movie recording (60fps / 30fps)

 

The new Fuji X20, a nice looking upgrade to the X10 that looks gorgeously retro.

my X10 review is here

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Woohoo! Fuji has updated the X10 with the new and handsome X20 which now comes in black or silver. Say goodbye to the white orb issue of the X10 as this guy packs in an all new X-Trans 2/3″ CMOS II 12 MP sensor that has cured the issues that plagues the X10 (though I never had the issue during my X10 review period, it showed up in certain lighting conditions).

Upgrades from the X10 are cosmetic (color) as well as the promise of 20% less image noise so it will be better in low light. The X20 will also retain a zoom lens which is a 28-112 f/2-2.8 lens with an all new coating to minimize flare. There is also the same optical VF but this time we get a panel overlay onto the VF which shows the cameras settings. The VF still will only give us an 85% field of view.

The cool thing is that this camera also gets Phase detect focus much like thew new Sony NEX-6 and 5R which means the AF will be pretty fast. Fuji is set to take on the Sony RX100 for the title of “Best compact” but let us wait and see what lies ahead. I am hoping to handle an X20 at CES this week so look for a hands on report if this happens.

These two Fuji releases look like winners. Let’s hope they deliver the goods! I have no doubt that they will.

 

Oct 122012
 

Sony week Wrap Up and more thoughts on the Sony RX1

So here I am in my hotel room at the Carmel Valley Ranch on my last day with the Sony team and I have to say that this week has been incredible. When Matt from Sony told me it would be “EPIC” he was not kidding. Sony knows how to launch new cameras and they do it with style and substance like no other but how others should.

This was considered a “press event” so there were about 15 or so of the top Journalists in America here for this week where we all raced cars, flew in helicopters, at lunch at vineyards, photographed kite surfers at Waddell Beach, and hiked around Big Sur. Some of us also put on bee suits and worked with bees. We also drove down the coast to see some amazing sights as well as made many new friends and had some great times. Sony even had a contest at the end of the week and I won the “best photo” category with the following RX1 JPEG shot which was shot a f/2:

The whole purpose of this trip of course was so that Sony could “officially” launch their new cameras and letting all of us try them out all week shooting what we wanted and when we wanted. We chose what we wanted to shoot with and we did not have any restrictions or instructions. All Sony asked was for us to share our honest opinions, good and bad. This was very refreshing because some companies do NOT want you to share the bad, and when you do they start to snub you. I could name names but won’t. :)

I had a great time with some of the guys here including Chris Gampat from The Phoblographer, Photo John from Photography Review and Amadou Diallo from DPreview.

Chris Gampant from The Phoblographer as we were testing the Sony 500mm on the NEX-6 – shot with the 10-16 on the NEX-6

So let me say it was great to meet ALL of the guys who attended this event and if I head to Photo Plus in a couple of weeks I look forward to chatting more.

The RX1 – Final Thoughts on my 1st Look 

As for me, I am happy I came as I had quality time with the hot camera of the week, the Sony RX1. In fact, it was extra special because there are only 11 RX1′s in the world and only 4 of them were here. I want to thank Sony for letting me use one for a few days to put it through it’s paces. I made a video with it in my room even though I had bad lighting and I added some video samples in the video as well (taken with the RX1).

I found that during my time with the RX1 I really liked the size, the build, the lens spec, the QUALITY of the lens which is sharp corner to corner and the ISO performance in low light, which is the true test of ISO performance. Sony is climbing a little but of an uphill battle with the RX1 due to the cost of the camera because the “masses” are not into a fixed focal length lens. Many enthusiasts are, and these are the ones Sony made this camera for.

I know many who shoot with a Leica M9 and 35 Summicron. Just from the little I have seen I have no doubt that this RX1 can exceed the Leica M9 and 35 cron in quality, low light and even detail once I can process RAW files. The quality is there and it even hadles B&W conversions amazingly well. Below you can see a 100% UN scientific comparisons of simple JPEGS between the two, same focal length and same aperture.

The Sony RX1 at 2.8 – converted to B&W

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Below, the Leica Monochrom with 35 1.4 at 2.8

Sony puled out the stops on the RX1 with superb quality video as well. When shooting video it has rich color and a 3D pop if you shoot wide open. I am hoping  to explore the video side more when I get a review unit with final firmware. I am also excited to process the RAW files as all I have seen are JPEGS. The RX1 is an exciting camera and in regards to quality of build and files it is top notch. $2799 is pricey sure but so is a full frame Canon 5DIII (which I would take an RX1 anyday over a 5DII or Nikon D800..more on this below) or Nikon D800 or Sony A99!

The RX1 can not be compared to a DSLR in any other way except amazing full frame image quality and in fact the results I was getting from the RX1 beat the A99 in overall IQ because you do not have  to depend on the lenses and hope they are sharp. The 35mm f/2 built into the RX1 is perfectly mated with the sensor and it shows. I am not writing hype, I am writing fact as I always do. When a $2799 coat pocket full frame camera can match any of the big guns, for me, that is pretty special.

If someone offered me a FREE 5DII, Nikon D800E or RX1 and said I had to pick one..for me it would be the RX1 simply due  to the fact that I personally can not stand huge heavy cameras and lenses! The fact that the RX1 is up there in quality of these two with their best 35mm lenses means no contest for me. Those who say “you can get a 5DII for that money” really has no clue what they are saying as this camera is not for someone who wants a DSLR. It is for those who DO NOT want a DSLR but want kick ass DSLR full frame quality that is small and light.

Remember that to see the images the way they should be seen you have to click on the image below. It will open up a larger version. The shot below is just a snap of all of us hanging out while waiting for the rain to pass.

The RX1 is not an action camera though. If you shoot action or wildlife then go to the DSLR. The RX1 is for those who want high quality anywhere they go. Portraits, street shooting, candids, landscape, etc. This camera excels in any of  those situations much like a Leica does. In fact it even has some soul much like Leica and makes many other cameras (including the NEX series) seem flat and lifeless when looking side by side.

The RX1 is a serious tool and it does have a shutter speed dial on the back (seems to have been some confusion with this) by your thumb next to the playback button at the top. It has a dedicated EV dial, aperture dial on the lens, can focus as close as .2 meters and the detail, color and DR of the sensor is at the top of the heap.

Manual Focus and shooting in 50mm with the Sony RX1

BTW, Manual focus also works GREAT with this camera. Was a joy to MF using focus peaking and never had an OOF shot using it . The RX1 also has more tricks up its sleeve with its focal length multiplier. With the press of a button you can shoot in a 50mm focal length (cropped) and the samples look good and sharp in my quick JPEG tests. This is not just a simple “digital zoom” but instead the camera actually crops the photo and re processed the file to make sure it is nice and detailed.

A quick JPEG at f/2 in standard mode using the 35mm lens as it should be..in 35mm – ISO 800 as it was actually dark out though it appears to be light in the image. I am ONLY demonstrating the crop feature here, not IQ.

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and with a press of a button I turn on a 1.4 multiplier and get a 50mm equivilant

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and if you want to go to around 75mm press it again and get it

So while you have a native 35mm lens on board you can shoot in 50 or 75 equivalent modes without losing much of anything.  I will test this with portraits when I get the camera again (which I hope is soon)!

Bokeh

With a fast f/2 Zeiss lens there will be Bokeh to be found but remember this is a 35mm lens, not a 50 or 90 so the out of focus backgrounds will not be extreme like you get with a 50 Summilux Leica. You will get full frame depth of field with the RX1 though and the Zeiss Sonnar f/2 does a great job IMO.

35mm, f/2 ISO 2500 – taken to show Bokeh and DOF of the 35mm lens on the full frame sensor

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ISO 800 to show DOF and Bokeh – YOU MUST click the image to see the image how it is meant to be seen

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ISO 1000 at f/2

What I do NOT like about the RX1

Well, Sony asked me to be honest and of course the RX1 is NOT perfect. I wish they would have included a built in EVF and even added a tilt LCD.  I also wish it had a built in ND filter like the Sony X100 did as the max shutter speed at f/2 is 1/2000s. It is not a real issue as you can get an ND filter for $50-$70 and be done with it but would have been nice to have one built in. The price is a bit high but Sony has spent an incredible sum to develop this camera and it shows. If you want the quality of a full frame DSLR with an amazing fast lens and incredible quality sensor that will fit in your coat pocket and go with you anywhere then this is the ONLY game in town

I am sad to leave the RX1 but hope to see one soon for full review. When I do get one expect some crazy comparisons and full testing of the camera. I have a feeling the one I pre ordered will remain pre-ordered because once I test the RAW performance  this could very well be my one color camera while I hang on to my Leica monochrom for my serious B&W work. (though the RX1 is pretty damn good at this as well).

You can Pre-Order the RX1 at B&H Photo HERE

You can Pre-Order the Sony RX1 at Amazon HERE

BTW, I was told the RX1 will start to ship 1st week of December but they are making sure to get them out BEFORE Christmas :)

PS: I will be heading home this weekend so the site schedule will go back to normal with guest posts, daily inspirations, and the next installment in my Leica Monochrom review as well as an Olympus 75 1.8 review. STAY TUNED and as always thank you for reading my site. I appreciate each and every one of you who do.

Oct 112012
 

The Sony NEX-6 1st Quick Look Review (more in depth coming soon)

You can pre-order the new Sony NEX-6 with the new Kit Zoom for $999 at B&H Photo HERE.

Amazon has the NEX-6 in stock HERE!

Hey hey hey! I know MANY of you have been waiting for samples from the brand spanking new Sony NEX-6. I can not do a full review on this one until I get one at home for 2 or 3 weeks as I just did not have the time this week to shoot ALL of the new Sony cameras thoroughly as I spent most of this week on the RX1 (HERE and HERE) but I did indeed get some cool shots with the NEX-6 and at the same time I have discovered that I like it more  than my beloved NEX-7 that I have had for well over a year now.

SO THIS IS NOT A FULL IN DEPTH REVIEW, just a quick 1st look review! I will have a full in-depth as soon as I can get a hold of one of these guys long-term. That is when I will have crops, details, noise tests, etc.

The NEX-6 and new 16-50 Kit Zoom is a powerful combo

Another NEX? 

The NEX-6 is the latest and greatest in the NEX line and while it comes in UNDER the NEX-7 with the number 6 name in many ways it is a much better camera. At least I think so.

The big improvement here is that Sony has added an all new AF system for fast and snappy performance. The NEX-6 has Phase detect and Contrast Detect focus, it has the same EVF as the NEX-7 and the same body design and shape. The build is pro and it has a matte finish instead of the 7′s glossy look. The LCD is still as awesome as ever though it is not a touch screen. Sony also added WiFi support and you can even trigger this camera and preview real-time on your smart phone via an App on the camera.

Today we took a drive through Carmel, CA and I snapped this shot with the NEX-6 and new kit zoom 16-50, which I like so much better than the old 18-55. The new 16-50 is small and of great quality. The image below is from RAW and I added a color filter in Lightroom to show what can be done with a shot from this camera in about 15 seconds of clicks in Lightroom (cold color filter). I also did some dodging to bring out the rocks. The result is that it has some noise that would not normally be there but I like it anyway :) Click image for larger view.

In real world use I find the NEX-6 to be much quicker to AF than the 7 and it just seems very snappy and responsive which is good! The 7 at times seemed a bit slow when compared to the new breed of mirrorless like the Olympus OM-D. Sony did not take a break and just say “deal with it”..nope! Instead they ramped things up by combining Contrast Detect AND Phase Detect focus ala Nikon V1 for a much improved AF experience. This means that in good light the AF is near instant. IN low light it is faster than it was before in past NEX cameras. This is a pretty big deal and I am happy that Sony made this move. The NEX-6 feels like a 100% fully polished product..finally.

Always love scenes like this and the kit zoom did great once again. Click for larger.

The NEX-6 also has a 16MP sensor which I feel is about what an APS-C should top out at for best quality, sharpness, dynamic range and image quality. The 24 MP of the NEX-7 pushed the sensor a little to far I think and the result was less than stellar ISO performance and in some cases muddy results. The 6 hits the sweet spot for sure.

So be sure to check back here for a full in-depth look and review of this new NEX. Again, this is just a quick 1st look to show those who have been waiting some quick samples. 

The NEX-6 with 35 1.8 at 1.8 and ISO 640- click image for larger!

This week I was able to shoot the NEX-6, the new 35 1.8 lens and the new 10-18 ultra wide zoom and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with all of them. Once again I am writing this at 1 AM and I have to be up at 6AM so I need sleep but I wanted to let everyone see some new samples from the NEX-6 as I know many have been waiting..even if it is just a few samples so I have posted some quick samples on this page for you to peruse.

Before we drove some very cool cars we got instruction on how to do so on the track. The other guys here shot the usual 400mm action shots but I stayed with the 10-18 and kit zoom. Being different that everyone else is good :)

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We had access to just about any Sony lens made for the A99 and the NEX system – pretty damn cool! – Shot with the 10-18 at 10mm (15mm equivalent on the NEX system)

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A quick landscape shot using the 16-50 Kit lens. JPEG

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Again, the 16-50. It is a great kit lens. I like it. 

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This one was shot with the new 35 1.8 in a very dark aquarium. Click image for larger and EXIF is embedded.

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In the helicopter some of had a chance to shoot with the A99, NEX-6 and RX1 – OOC JPEG

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Sweep Panormama is still here! – OOC JPEG

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Jellyfish with the 35 1.8

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A nice JPEG sunset with the 35 1.8 at f/7.1

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The 16-50 at f/8

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New Kit Zoom!

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Again, the kit zoom at 16mm and f/7.1

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Trying out the mini effect from the helicopter

For those wondering if the NEX-6 is an improvement over the NEX-7 I would say DEFINITELY. It is quicker, snappier, more responsive, does not seem to overheat (in my limited use so far),has sharp IQ, comes with a great new kit zoom and even feels better with its matte finish. You lose the highly touted “Tri Navi” control system but to be honest I almost prefer the new set up as you still have your control dials. You lose nothing but convenience of having both dials at the top. Instead you now have one dial with the mode dial stacked on top and the mode dial on the back.

The NEX-6 is the best NEX yet.

 

You can pre-order the new Sony NEX-6 with the new Kit Zoom for $999 at B&H Photo HERE.

You can buy the NEX-6 and new Kit Zoom at Amazon HERE

Jul 222012
 

The Sony RX100 – My quick real world preview of this ultra sexy pocket rocket!

UPDATE: My final review of the RX100 is no up and it can be found HERE!

YES! Another X! The X1, X1, X100, X-Pro 1 and now the RX100! X must be the magic number, or at least camera manufacturers think so it seems.  I just took delivery of the “New X”, the  Sony RX100. A small pocket rocket powerhouse of a camera that just in a couple days has FAR exceeded my expectations of what can come out of a pocket 1″ sensor camera, all for under $650.

Someone on Google + told me this picture below was taken by an Olympus camera, not the RX100. Well, yes it was! It was a picture taken OF THE RX100 to show how it fits in my jean pocket. Could not have taken it with the RX100 now could I? But yes, it will fit in a front jeans pocket easily. I left it sticking out for illustration purposes :)

It is funny though as this is a camera that is NOT aimed at me because I am not a huge fan of small pocket cameras because the quality usually suffers. I am one of those who never cared for the Canon S100 as I found the quality good but no where near great, especially low light. Anytime I see these small cameras at a camera shop or even a Best Buy store I walk right by them because before now they all had some serious compromises. Well, not anymore. The days of pocket meaning “lesser quality” are over. The Sony RX100 is here and man… it means business. If Sony grew some balls when they released the NEX-7, they just grew bigger here as they are taking on the likes of the Nikon 1 system and possibly even more serious cameras. What? Yep, this little guy packs a serious punch and is versatile as can be.

ISO 1250, OOC JPEG, B&W, Click image for larger

Keep in mind!

This is ONLY my 1st look quick preview (this is NOT the review as the review will be much more detailed) as I have had minimal time with the camera but man, I know when a camera is special right away and when it is not even close to being special, or having magic. The RX100 is a special camera just due to the fact that it is tiny, super fast, has amazing IQ that rivals some DSLR’s, has exceptional quality video and a fast 1.8 aperture lens at the wide end. The lens gives you a 28-100 equivalent and the lens seems to be excellent. ISO performance is the best I have seen for this size of camera and the AF is blazing fast.

1st things 1st! My 1st look video  (specs of this camera can be found at the end of this preview)

My 1st day thoughts on the RX100:

Well, can one be in love after two days? Probably not but it feels like it. This camera opens up some great possibilities. It is tiny, silent and even blazing fast AND gives DSLR quality..well, correction… in some cases BETTER than DSLR quality (depending on DSLR and lens used). It fits in my front jeans pocket and is ready to roll at a moments notice. No, there is no EVF but this is a small camera that is meant for REALLY take anywhere pocket use. The LCD screen is easily visible even in the brutal AZ sun (can’t say the same for other cameras) as it has Sony’s “White Magic” technology that improves visibility in full sun.

It’s a fun camera but what is even more fun is when you look at your files and see how nice they are for coming out of such a small camera! Click on the following images to see larger sizes. The 1st one is ISO 3200 and all are OOC JPEGS.

The fast Zeiss lens helps and you can shoot at 28mm at f/1.8 and get nice results and even some decent Bokeh as well. The image below if of my son at ISO 6400. It is an OOC JPEG so you do see the NR but this is 6400, coming out of a pocket camera! I have not shot RAW yet but I will have RAW results when I post my full review of this camera.

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So this looks like it will be a hit for Sony. I can not wait to shoot it over the next couple of weeks to really put it through its paces and pit it against the Nikon V1 and just for fun, a Leica X2! Should be fun :)  I also was messing around and took some video and it looked beautiful as well. The built-in Steady Shot worked wonders and this Zeiss lens has a Zeiss feel about it, even in the video. I will have full video samples in my full review.

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In my hand the camera feels small but solid with a nice build. If it did have an EVF it would be flat-out my dream pocket cam. Then again, and EVF would have made it larger and that would have made it appeal to a different group of camera enthusiast, and not fit in my pocket! Me, I see this camera being taken with me anywhere and everywhere. Something  that many other cameras can easily achieve with a bag, but now I have that quality in my pocket it seems. I can not give any final evaluation on it until my review of course but so far so good!

The RX100 is in stock at Amazon at the time of this writing and has 14 reviews, all of them 5 star reviews! B&H Photo sold out their 1st shipment in a day but their RX100 page is HERE and you can pre-order from them if you desire. This may be the camera of the summer and I can see many buying it as a 2nd body to a more serious camera or even a camera for the wife, hubby or kids who do not know so much about camera modes, functions and features (because it’s easy to pick up and use). Exciting times!

My full review will be coming soon so keep your eyes peeled!

The specs of the RX100

20.2 Megapixel Exmor 1″ CMOS Image Sensor

The massive 20.2MP Exmor 1″ CMOS sensor captures ultra-high definition images that take full advantage of the camera’s sharp Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens. The sensor enables advanced column A/D processing that reduces noise levels, resulting in astonishing low light images with incredible smooth and clear details

Bright F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens with 3.6x Optical Zoom

This large-diameter F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens delivers refined background defocusing. It also features a premium multi-layered T coating that dramatically reduces ghost and flare caused by light reflection. Focal length (35mm equivalent) – Still 16:9: 29-105mm; Still 4:3: 30-108mm; Still 3:2: 28-100mm; Still 1:1: 36-127mm; Movie 16:9: 29-105mm (Std), 33-120mm (Active); Movie 4:3: 36-128mm (Std), 41-146mm (Active)

P/A/S/M Modes for Video & Stills

Enjoy a full range of controls for video and still shooting from iAUTO mode to P/A/S/M: Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. There are even on-screen prompts which help you refine your skills, build your confidence and exercise greater creative control

Capture JPEG Files, RAW Files, or Both

The RX100 saves pictures as compact JPEG files and/or ultra-high quality RAW files. RAW files save images prior to de-mosaicing, white balance, sharpness and color enhancement. This retains maximum latitude for enhancing the image on your PC

Full HD 1080/60p Video Capture

Record crystal clear movies in Full HD 1080p at 60 fps. This provides stunning, fast motion video with less distortion for playback on your HDTV. Plus, with dual recording for stills and movies, you can shoot both at the same time

Low-Light ISO 6400 Sensitivity

Capture incredibly clear low-light pictures without sacrificing detail, thanks to the low-noise Exmor CMOS image sensor and refined BIONZ image processor

High-Speed Auto Focus

To improve focusing speed and sensitivity, the Exmor CMOS sensor uses its rapid throughput to deliver high-quality image signals to the camera’s BIONZ processor, which provides intelligent response data to a high-speed actuator motor in the lens. The result is fast, DSLR-like focusing speeds even in low light

Up to 10 fps Burst Mode

Capture full 20.2 megapixel resolution images at up to 10 fps, helping to ensure that the decisive moment is captured such as the soccer ball flying into the goal. In addition, a mechanical shutter helps reduce distortion when continuously shooting moving subjects

Large 3″ Xtra Fine LCD Display

The 3″ (1229k dots) Xtra Fine LCD Display makes it easy to scroll through menus and preview pictures. Plus, the large display delivers brilliant-quality still images and movies while enabling easy focusing operation. It also features WhiteMagic technology, which increases visibility in bright daylight

Customizable Function Button

Assign up to seven different functions to the function button, to allow quick access to your most frequently used functions

Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode

Optical SteadyShot with Active Mode enables blur-free movies even while walking. Plus, the camera-shake compensation using Optical SteadyShot/Active Mode has been improved with the addition of electronic image stabilization, which makes it easier to obtain sharp, blur-free movies even when zooming in unsteady situations, such as shooting with one hand while walking

Memory Recall

MR (memory recall) mode can memorize up to three groups of the user’s preferred settings. The settings include zoom magnification, white balance, exposure compensation, date and grid lines. This enables quick switching of settings at the right moment

Sophisticated Design with Pop Up Flash

The sophisticated aluminum body is lightweight, slim and strong. There’s even an integrated pop up flash, which affords the convenience of flash photography everywhere you go

Auto Portrait Framing

Simply photograph a person and Auto Portrait Framing will save an additional, optimally framed image in portrait or landscape orientation. This mode combines Face Detection and By Pixel Super Resolution technologies with rule of thirds to provide beautifully composed and appealingly balanced full resolution portraits

Auto HDR Mode

Using auto HDR mode allows you to capture more scene dynamic range than a single exposure can handle – and more range than photo film. It combines the best highlight detail from one shot, the best mid-tones from a second shot and the best shadow detail from a third shot for one incredible image (up to 6 EV stops). Plus, it works in a split second (recommended for still subjects)

Face Detection / Face Registration

The camera can automatically detect and register up to eight individual faces and adjust focus, exposure, white balance and flash to help deliver crisp, properly lit images of family and friends. You can even prioritize children or adults

Multi-Aspect Ratio Recording for Still Images

Capture still images in any of four aspect ratios – 1:1, 2:3, 4:3, or 16:9 (vertical to horizontal). This provided the freedom to choose a ratio that matches the scene or the specific shooting purpose

3.6x Optical Zoom & 7.2 Digital Zoom

Most digital zooms use electronic cropping to get closer to the subject, resulting in unsharp images. With Clear Image Zoom the powerful processor compares patterns found in adjacent pixels and creates new pixels to match selected patterns, resulting in more realistic, higher-quality images. Clear Image Zoom digitally doubles optical zoom for closer photos

Four Focusing Modes

This camera has two Autofocus modes: Single-shot AF (AF-S) or Continuous AF (AF-C), which tracks moving objects. It also has Manual Focus for manual focusing freedom, and Direct Manual Focus (DMF), that first uses autofocusing to focus on the subject, and then allows fast and easy switching to manual focusing for even more precise adjustment

MF Assist & Peaking

Manual focus becomes much easier because peaking highlights the edges that are in focus in your choice of three colors (white, red, or yellow). This is especially helpful during macro or portrait photography where your focus setting can make or break your shot

Multi-Frame Noise Reduction

In this mode, the camera automatically shoots multiple images and layers them to produce a single noise-free image. This method provides noise reduction equivalent to a 2-stop lower shutter speed while maintaining the same aperture setting. Since the Multi Frame NR mode can be used in combination with P/A/S/M modes, it expands the user’s shooting flexibility

Photo Creativity

The Photo Creativity interface enables you to easily enjoy the creative expression of SLR-quality digital imaging without complex jargon. Changes can be combined, removed and viewed in real time on the LCD display, which makes it a breeze to make adjustments. Choose from several different Photo Creativity functions using the convenient control wheel and center button including: Picture Effect, Background Defocus, Color, Brightness and Vividness

Picture Effect Mode

Picture Effect is a fun and simple way to convert ordinary landscapes and portraits by heightening mood and emphasizing certain attributes. Effects include: Soft Focus, Posterization, Retro Photo, High Contrast Monochrome, Rich-Tone Monochrome, Miniature, Soft High-key, Toy Camera, Pop Color, Partial Color, Watercolor Painting, HDR Painting and Illustration

Creative Style Settings

Control how the camera processes your images with six finishing styles: Standard, Vivid, B&W, Sunset, Portrait and Landscape. You can even fine-tune contrast, saturation and sharpness to your personal taste

Sweep Panorama Mode

Capture expansive landscapes automatically. Press the shutter and sweep vertically or horizontally. The camera does the rest by continuously shooting images and stitching them together

Superior Auto Mode

In order to get cleaner, more dynamic pictures and fewer missed shots, the camera automatically recognizes the correct scene mode, then quickly shoots and combines up to six shots to produce images with greater clarity, optimum dynamic range using Backlight Correction HDR technology, and lower image noise using six shot layering technology. Superior Auto can intelligently detect 33 scenes for still images and movies, making it easy to get the best shot

Intelligent Scene Recognition Mode

Intelligent Scene Recognition (iSCN) automatically detects 33 different types of scenes for photos and 44 scenes for movies, and then selects the appropriate camera settings. In Auto Mode, the camera takes a single shot using the optimal settings. In Advanced Mode, the camera takes a photo with the optimal settings and, if in difficult lighting (low light or back light) immediately takes a second photo with another optimized setting so you can choose which to keep

Digital Level Gauge

The digital level gauge allows for easier leveling of the camera

May 242012
 

The Leica X2 1st Look Video and yes…Unboxing

The Leica X2 has arrived to my house for review so I made the video below to show you guys what it looks like. When the original X1 was released I did an unboxing video to show off the really cool box and the X2 keeps that same exact box and styling/packaging. Check it out below :) Also, I will be traveling this weekend so site updates will be slow until I return on Monday night/Tuesday. Enjoy!

Apr 232012
 

OM-D E-M5 greater Dynamic Range than the X-Pro 1? Plus 1st quick snaps…

You guys know I do not do “technical” tests with charts but some enjoy this scientific look into cameras and sensors. I have been shooting with the OM-D E-M5 for a few days now and absolutely love it. Without a doubt it is my top mirrorless choice right now. Above the Fuji, Sony and others. Why is this? Well, not only for its design, build, size, color, sharpness, high ISO performance and speed and responsiveness but also due to the lenses available. It also doesn’t hurt that tech radar.com just tested it and showed that using RAW, it outclasses the NEX-7 and Fuji X-Pro in Dynamic Range. IN fact, they say it measures better than any compact to date.

This test is from techrader.com and their OM-D review

Yes, Micro 4/3 has matured. I have been seeing great results in every area just shooting JPEG with the E-M5 and even the video is spectacular. So with the E-M5 I have been able to shoot JPEG in good light, low light, high ISO, bright light and low ISO and get superb results, great detail and sharpness and that Olympus color signature. Love it.

My early thoughts? It is fast, accurate, highly capable, and doesn’t really give up much of anything to the NEX or Fuji besides if you shoot at super high ISO’s like 6400 or 12,800 (then the Fuji beats it no question). Shallow DOF is attainable with the 45 1.8 and the soon to come 75 1.8 should be even better but you will still get a more creamy shallow look from cameras with larger sensors. So far the low light performance has exceeded my expectations as has the 5 Axis IS (which is sooo good for video..and no more “jello” effect). I would use this in pro situations due to the speed, accuracy, IQ and ISO performance. DR seems great as well, and is confirmed by the techradar report. More to come.

My review will be here soon, but do take a look at the results from tech radar.com   on this little jewel of a camera. Below are just a few fun snaps that I took this weekend while around town, nothing special but it does show that this camera is a big step up from previous PEN cameras in regards to low light and IQ. Clicking an image will make it larger and the EXIF is embedded in each photo. Again, this is NOT my review – I will be posting that soon-ish and it will be very detailed. I have a couple of trips planned where I will be taking the E-M5 with  me so I plan on giving it a real workout.

remember to click the images for larger view!

12mm at f/2 – OOC JPEG

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12mm at f.2 – ISO 1600 – OOC JPEG – sharp, detailed and noise is NOT offensive at all

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45 1.8 at 1.8 – ISO 400 – OOC JPEG

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45 1.8 at 1.8 – ISO 1000

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45 1.8 at ISO 1600 – OOC JPEG

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My beautiful fiancé with the 12 at f/2 – ISO 1600 – Was walking with low shutter speed so there is motion blur, this is not mis-focus (which has yet to happen with this camera)

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12mm f/2 – iso 200 – the color and detail of OOC JPEGS is great. Can’t wait for RAW support from Adobe.

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and something that was not attainable before…usable ISO 6400 – The X-Pro 1 does even better at 6400 but the OM-D is not too far behind. 

Remember, these were just quick snaps and all are JPEGS from the camera. I have yet to prices any RAW files.

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