Nikon D810 Review:Introduction The Nikon D810 is a mid-life refresh of the D800 cameras, which were lauded for pretty much the best 35mm DSLR you could get your hands on. The D810 consolidates the D800 and D800E models into a single variant, Continue reading Nikon D810 Review→
Nikon Df Review:Introduction The Nikon Df was introduced last year to a host of fanfare and hype, with the initial rumours going as far out as claiming to be a “full-frame” mirrorless camera which it is not; it is a standard F-mount Continue reading Nikon Df Review→
Three Guys’ Review: Nikon D5300:Introduction The Nikon D5300 follows in a line of entry level cameras that started with the D50, and eventually got bumped up half a tier with the D5000 line. By now it actually appears to house some significantly powerful internals, Continue reading Three Guys’ Review: Nikon D5300→
Architectural photographers using the Nikon system rejoice! Nikon has announced the PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E tilt-shift lens. For a long time, the ultra-wide tilt-shift lens market was dominated by Canons 17mm TSE while Nikon’s widest goes only up to 24mm.
The PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E offers a 97º field of view and can shift ±12mm and tilt ±7.5°. It contains three ED and two aspherical elements, and unlike the previous PC lens designs, the tilt and shift mechanisms can be adjusted independently from each other. This allows photographers to set the tilt either parallel or perpendicular to the shift.
The lens will be available from next month at US$3399.95.
AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR
Nikon has also released an update to their 70-200mm workhorse lens with a new optical design, improved vibration reduction as well as an electromagnetic diaphram.
The lens has 6 ED, 1 fluorite and 1 high refractive index element, and a Nano Crystal Coat reduces flare and ghosting. The front and rear elements are fluorine-coated to prevent smudging. The newly improved VR gives a 4-stop advantage compared to 3.5 in the previous model.
The lens will be available next month at US$2799.95.
Not to be left behind, Olympus at Photokina announced two new cameras and three new lenses. The first is the E-PL8, an entry-level mirrorless camera with a Four Thirds sensor. This is basically an upgrade to the E-PL7, with a redesign to the body, along with a new grip and top plate. Like its predecessor, it features a 16MP sensor and in-body image stabilisation. The camera will be available at US$549.99 for the body, and US$649.99 for the 14-42 IIR kit.
Like Panasonic, Olympus has also announced the development of a new flagship—the OM-D EM1 II. The new camera has a 20MP sensor and is able to shoot at up to 18fps in RAW with AF, or at up to 60fps in RAW without AF.
Olympus says that they have spent 4 years developing the new flagship camera, and the dynamic range and noise performance have been improved. The EM-1 II has 121 cross-type AF points, spread over a wider area than the predecessor. The AF system is completely new and improved in terms of performance, precision and operation. The camera can shoot 4K DCI video at a bit rate of up to 236Mbps.
Finally, Olympus has announced three new lenses: M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro, M-Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro and M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro.
The M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro gives an equivalent of 50mm, and is splash and dust proof. This is Olympus’s attempt at making a “perfect” lens, which promises high resolution wide-open, fast AF and well-controlled chromatic aberration. The lens will be available from October from US$1,199.99.
The M-Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS Pro is an all-round zoom, with a 35mm equivalent of 24-200mm. Used with the 5-axis IBIS of supported Olympus bodies, it offers up to 6.5 stops of image stabilisation. Minimum focus distance at the 12mm end is a mere 1.5cm and 27cm at the telephoto end. It is splash, dust and freeze proof, and will be available from November at US$1299.99.
Last but not least, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm f/3.5 Macro is an affordable macro lens with a magnification of 1.25x. It will cost US$299.99 from October 2016.
Perhaps the most exciting camera announced at Photokina is Fuji’s GFX 50S. This is a medium format, mirrorless digital camera built around a new series of “G” mount lenses that includes both primes and zooms. It has a 51.4MP CMOS sensor similar to the ones in the Pentax 645Z and the Hasselblad X1D. The camera looks somewhat like a large X-Pro II, and with the clip-on EVF, it looks like a large X-T1/X-T2. At 43.8×32.9mm, the sensor area is 1.7X larger than full-frame 35mm sensors, and 4X greater than Fujifilm’s APS-C cameras. The large sensor and pixel count allows the camera to shoot at various different aspect ratios.
Six lenses have been announced to go with the GFX 50S. They are:-
Standard prime “GF63mmF2.8 R WR” (equivalent to 50mm in the 35mm format)
Wide-angle standard zoom “GF32-64mmF4 R LM WR” (equivalent to 25-51mm in 35mm format)
Mid-telephoto macro 1:0.5 “GF120mmF4 Macro R LM OIS WR” (equivalent to 95mm in 35mm format)
Fast aperture mid-telephoto “GF110mmF2 R LM WR” (equivalent to 87mm in 35mm format)
Ultra-wide “GF23mmF4 R LM WR” (equivalent to 18mm in 35mm format)
Wide “GF45mmF2.8 R WR” (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format)
Fujifilm says the camera will be available in the first half of 2017 at “under $10K” with the 63mm lens.
Panasonic has announced a slew of new cameras at Photokina 2016 at Cologne, Germany. Here are all of them:-
DMC-FZ2500 (also called the FZ2000 in some regions)
First off, I can never understand why camera manufacturers have to adopt different model numbers for the same cameras in different regions… anyway, the FZ2500 is an update to the FZ1000, with a new lens, larger EVF as well as a variable ND filter. This is a video-focussed camera with the ability to capture both DCI and UHD 4K video at 30p / 24p at a bit rate of 100Mbps. In Full HD, the camera can record at up to 60p with a bit rate of 200Mbps.
The camera uses the same 1″ sensor as the FZ1000, matched to a 24-480mm f/2.8-4.5 equivalent lens. After the initial lens extension upon power on, the lens zooms internally. Hence, the lens does not move, much like how a camcorder would work. The aforementioned variable ND filter is adjustable from -2EV to -6EV in 2EV steps. The EVF now has a magnification of 0.74x and a 3″ articulating touch LCD is also available on the rear.
The FZ2500 will be available for US$1199 from November.
DMC-LX10 (LX15 in some regions)
Another camera with a different model number in some regions. The LX10 is a enthusiast compact camera in the LX series lineup with a 20MP 1″ sensor. It features a 24-75mm f/1.4-2.8 equivalent zoom and a 5-axis Hybrid OIS+ which combines both digital and optical image stabilisation. Like other new cameras, the LX10 is able to shoot 4K UHD at up to 30fps. There is no EVF but there is a 180º tiltable touch screen with a resolution of 1,040K dots.
The camera will be available at US$699 from November.
DMC-G85 (G80 in some regions)
The different model numbers continue with the DMC-G85. This is an update to the G7, with a 16MP Four Thirds sensor without an anti-aliasing filter. There is also weather-sealing, an improved EVF with a magnification of 0.74x (0.70x on the G7), and a Dual IS 5-axis image stabilisation system. Another improvement is in the shutter, with a new electromechanical shutter, which together with the magnesium front plate, cuts down the shutter vibrations and sounds.
The G85 will be available from November at US$899 for the body only, or US$999 with the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 Power OIS kit lens.
Finally, Panasonic also made a development announcement of the GH5. It will feature 4K/60p capability and will also provide 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video. There is also a 6K photo mode that extracts 18MP stills from burst footage, or 8MP stills from 4K/60p clips. No launch timing or price has been provided at this time.
Canon has announced the EOS M5, a new addition to the EOS M line-up with a much requested EVF. Like other contemporary mirrorless with EVFs, the one on the EOS M5 has a resolution of 2.36 million dots. There is no mention of the refresh rate, though.
The EOS M5 features a 24.2MP CMOS sensor, with image processing duties performed by a DIGIC 7 image processor. ISO range can be set between 100 and 25,600. With Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF, the M5 is the fastest focussing EOS M camera made to date. A Touch and Drag AF feature allows you to adjust the focus point by dragging the AF frame around the rear LCD, even when looking through the EVF. There is also focus peaking to assist in manual focussing.
The design of the camera has also been changed from the previous EOS M cameras. It now looks like one of the smaller Canon DSLRs instead of a large compact camera. On the back of the camera is a 3.2″, 162K-dot LCD screen which flips up 85º and down 180º, great for the selfie-loving crowd. Continuous shooting speed is up to 7fps (9 fps with AF lock). There is also an in-body, 5-axis digital image stabilisation for smoother video recording, even without IS glass. With compatible lenses, both in-body and lens stabilisation can be employed simultaneously.
On the connectivity side of things, the M5 features a low-energy Bluetooth Smart feature which maintains a persistent connection with your smart device. There is also NFC and WiFi as well.
Along with the EOS M10, Canon has also announced the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens which features 4 stops of image stabilisation. Used on the EOS M10, it gives an equivalent of 29-240mm.
Like the Nikon 1 series, the previous EOS M series of cameras have been rather lacklustre, with Canon not wanting to cannibilise the sales of their DSLRs. On paper, this seems like a big improvement. This being Canon’s 5th version of the EOS M, it remains to be seen whether this will finally be as good as the mirrorless cameras from the likes of Panasonic, Olympus, Fuji and Sony.
The EOS M5 will be available from November 2016 at US$980 for the body alone, or US$1099 with a 15-45mm lens. It’s also available with the newly announced 18-150mm lens for US$1479 from December.
Canon has announced updates to two of their lenses—the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM
This update of the 16-35mm f/2.8L features better durability and water resistance, and now has a large-diameter GMO dual-surface aspherical lens and a ground aspherical lens which supposedly fixes the Mark II’s edge-to-edge performance.
The lens will be available from late October at US$2,200.
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM
The new incarnation of the 24-105mm f/4 now features 4-stops of OIS (1 more stop from the previous version) according to Canon. The optical performance is improved as well, with the help of “air sphere coating”.
The lens will be available from late October for US$1,100.
W-E1 SD Card-Shaped WiFi Adapter
Canon says this was specifically created to bring WiFi capability to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II, though it’s also compatible with the 5DS and 5DS R. It’s supposed to be sold with the 7D Mark II to give it the same level of camera control and transfer capabilities as the newly released 5D Mark IV.
Unlike the SD WiFi cards like the Toshiba FlashAir and EyeFi, the W-E1 does not have any storage. As such, you would have to use the CF card slot for your images and/or videos. Used with the 7D Mark II, you can transfer both images and videos, but on the 5DS/5DS R, you can only transfer images.
The W-E1 will be available for US$50 starting in September.
After a long period of anticipation and rumours, Canon has finally announced the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The new camera features a 30MP sensor, 4K video and something called “Dual Pixel Raw”. The 30.4MP sensor is joined by a Digic 6+ image processor capable of shooting at 7fps for up to 21 frames of RAW and unlimited JEPG shots. It’s also capable of shooting 4K video at 30fps. A Canon first, the EOS 5D Mark IV’s Dual Pixel AF lets the camera focus continuously while shooting stills in Live View.
A major improvement is the AF system, which has 61 points and a 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor. This provides improved facial recognition, AF tracking and ability to focus down to a low light level of -3EV. The AF system is said to be similar to the one in the flagship EOS 1D X Mark II, and now covers more of the frame.
The so-called RAW Pixel RAW technology uses the two photodiodes that make up a pixel on the sensor, capturing separate info from each of them. This lets you correct for microfocus errors, correct ghosting/flare or perform “bokeh shift” after the shot is taken.
Connectivity-wise, the EOS 5D Mark IV has built-in WiFi, NFC and GPS support. This is a good thing, as other makers, like Nikon, has the WiFi and GPS as optional extras in their higher-end models.
The 5D Mark IV will be available from early September for US$3,500 for the body alone, or US$4,400 with the EF 24-70mm f/4L lens. You can also purchase it with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM for US$4,600 which was just announced. The last option will be available from late October.
Fujifilm has announced an update to their entry-level X-A2 digital camera with the X-A3. This is a “selfie-optimised” camera to go with the popularity of selfies today. It features an LCD which flips upwards by 180º so that you can compose that perfect selfie. A command-dial at the back of the camera lets you trigger the selfie shot while still having a good grip of the camera.
The sensor has been upgraded to a 24MP CMOS bayer sensor (no X-Trans here), and the AF system now has 49 points. No on-sensor phase-detection though, unlike the higher end Fujifilm cameras.
The camera will be available in Oct and will be available in silver, brown and pink at a price of US$600. Price includes a XC 16-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens.
Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR
Fujifilm has also announced the XF 23mm f/2 WR, a small and lightweight, weather resistant lens for the X-series cameras. As the WR moniker suggests, the lens is dust and water resistant, and can continue working down to temperatures of -10ºC. The lens features 10 elements in 6 groups, and a 9-bladed aperture. Fujifilm claims that the lens can achieve and AF lock in 0.05s when paired with the AF systems of the X-T2 and X-Pro 2.
This lens sure took a long time to be released, most likely, I feel, due to Fujifilm not wanting to cannibalise the sales of the X100 series, which also has a 23mm f/2 lens. Prior to this, the only other Fujinon lens that lets you have a ~35mm equivalent is the 23mm f/1.4, which is larger and heavier, while lacking the weather resistance. It’s also costs more.
The lens is available in both silver and black, and is available starting in September for US$450.
After weeks of anticipation, the Fujifilm X-T2 was finally launched in Singapore on 10 Aug 2016, a day after Singapore’s National Day. It was held in the Luxe Art Museum, a small museum near The Cathay at the end of Orchard Road. To cater to the large turnout, Fujifilm Singapore has organised two sessions of the launch event—one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. I attended the latter session.
The event started with Mr. Favian Loo, Divisional Marketing Manager of Fujifilm Asia Pacific giving us a rundown of the new features of the Fujifilm X-T2. Among them are an upgraded 24MP sensor (the same one used on the X-Pro 2), significant improvements in AF performance and 4K performance. There is also a specially designed vertical battery grip which further improves the performance of the X-T2, as well as to give a much longer battery life by allowing the user to use three batteries simultaneously. The two batteries in the grip will be consumed before the one in the camera body. As with modern-day electronic devices, the X-T2 batteries can also be charged using USB.
Next to present is Ms. Mindy Tan, the first female Fujifilm X Photographer. Mindy presented a photo slide show about the hutong in Beijing, China and her experiences in using the X-T2 while shooting her photo project. Unfortunately, the projector and the purplish light used in the event doesn’t do justice to her work. Thankfully, they are also presented as prints in the event grounds.
Next up is Mr. Benny Ang, followed by Mr. William Chua, both wedding photographers. They shared with the audience their experiences of using the X-T2 for their shoots and how the small size of the X-T2 helped them get their shots more easily. In particular, William told us about how the smaller X-T2 (compared to a DSLR) enabled him to shoot more easily in Morocco, where the people are camera-averse.
After the presentation, we finally got to lay our hands on the Fujifilm X-T2. There are also two live studio shooting sessions hosted by photographers Benny Ang and Ivan Joshua Loh. I headed straight to the demo stations, where there are a few demo units.
In the hands, the X-T2 body feels similar to the X-T1. The hand grip is now slightly deeper, making for a nicer feel. The lock on the ISO dial—one of those things I hate on my X-T1—is now improved. It’s now a toggle switch—press once to lock, press again to unlock. This is much better as I can leave it unlocked for ease of changing settings. The same lock is also implemented on the shutter speed dial, though I think that doesn’t really require locking in the first place. But still a good usability improvement.
Also, as you can see from the photo above, the X-T2’s shutter button now has a threaded hole for those of you who wants to use a traditional mechanical plunger-type shutter release or a soft-release button. The exposure compensation dial of the X-T2 now lets you do up to ±5 stops of compensation. This is done by setting the dial to the “C” setting, and dialling in the desired exposure compensation using the front command dial.
On the back of the camera, the next major change is the flip LCD screen. Besides flipping up/down for high/low angle shots, the LCD also flips horizontally. Unfortunately, it only flips to the right. It would be nice if it could flip to the left as well. Though improved, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between the X-T2’s EVF compared with my X-T1.
Like the recently-launched X-Pro 2, the X-T2 also features a joystick controller at the back. This works much better in selecting AF points than the rather mushy D-pad of the X-T1. On the X-T2, the D-pad buttons were also improved. They click more positively now compared to the X-T1. Definitely an improvement. With 91 AF points, the joystick is a welcome addition to easy selection of the desired AF point or group.
Another new change is the SD card door. On the X-T1, the SD card door slides towards you to unlock, much like some Nikon DSLRs. On the X-T2, there is now a lock lever on it which you must press in order to unlock the door. This implementation, though possibly more secure, is more fiddly when you need to change SD cards quickly. It’s probably not something you can do quickly when wearing gloves.
I also tried to test out the improved AF speeds as well. However, the first unit of the X-T2 I laid my hands on had a XF 16mm f/1.4, which isn’t very fast. Also, the rather dim (and lit with purplish lighting) show ground isn’t the best place to test AF performance. I tested with an unit mounted with a XF 35mm f/2.0 and AF speeds were similar to my X-T1 which I had with me. At the live studio setup, however, the X-T2 AF speeds were pretty good, focussing almost instantly on the models. I believe the firmware is still not the final version and is still being improved. The production version should be much better.
Another highlight of the X-T2 is 4K video recording. Again, the lighting conditions on the show floor weren’t good for this. The rather short security cable which the demo units were tethered to didn’t help either. On the X-T2, Fujifilm has removed the dedicated movie record button from the body. Movie recording is now its own drive mode which you set on a dial below the ISO dial. Once in movie mode, the shutter button will start the video recording. The X-T2 is able to record to the SD card slots or to an external recorder via the HDMI output.
Image quality is excellent. Here is a shot taken at one of the studio shooting areas, using a X-T2 and XF 50-140mm f/2.8. It’s slightly cropped but no other image adjustments were made.
High ISO performance looks pretty decent too. Here’s a shot at ISO 12,800. This is the highest native ISO of the X-T2 before going into one of the boost modes.
Hopefully, we can get hold of a review unit of the X-T2 from Fujifilm as it’s really hard to test out the camera at the event. But as of now, I quite like the improvements which Fujifilm has put in. The camera is available for pre-order from Fujifilm’s authorised dealers at S$2,599 for the body alone, or $2,999 with the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens.
Over two years ago, Fujifilm launched the X-T1, which won me over to the Fujifilm X system, I never looked back since. Today, Fujifilm announced the highly anticipated and much rumoured (and leaked) Fujifilm X-T2. Like the recently-launched X-Pro 2, the X-T2 features a 24MP X-Trans CMOS III CMOS with an ISO sensitivity of up to 51,200 (extended.)
The improvements of the X-T2 revolve over AF and video, with the AF system being boosted up to a whopping 325 AF points (there were only 49 in the X-T1.) Out of these 325, 169 has phase detection. Fujifilm claims that the X-T2 will be able to focus down to light levels of -3EV. On the video side of things, Fujifilm’s video capabilities were previously sub-par on the previous X-cameras, so I am surprised that the X-T2 will have 4K 30fps video recording capabilities. I am not sure how that performs, though. It does look like Fujifilm is serious about video on this camera, providing a 3.5mm microphone socket, on-screen audio-level monitoring and even a F-Log flat tone curve for easier post-processing. Mic levels can be adjusted by means of a customisable button.
The maximum shutter speed has been increased to 1/8000 when using the mechanical shutter (1/32000 with electronic shutter.) Fujifilm says that everything from the AF speed, start-up time, shutter lag and EVF blackout have been improved to the extreme, calling this “ultimate mirrorless camera.”
The EVF has the same resolution as the X-T1 with 2.36 million dots, but the refresh rate has been increased up to 100fps in Boost Mode. The display lag time has also been reduced to 0.005s. Blackout time has been halved from that of the X-T1 due to parallel processing of the live view and fast shutter charging, allowing continuous shooting up to 5fps in Live View. Brightness has been doubled on the X-T2’s EVF and there is now a auto-brightness function to allow easier viewing in bright lighting conditions. Another improvement is in the rear LCD—whereas on the X-T1 you can only tilt up/down, the X-T2’s LCD also flips to the right for waist-level viewing when shooting in portrait mode.
Finally, a special Vertical Power Booster grip is also available for the X-T2, which lets you use a total of three batteries (two in the grip, one in camera) for an increased maximum burst rate of up to 11fps (from 8fps) and 4K video recording up to 30min (from just 10.) Of course, this also lets you shoot many more shots than you can with a single battery. Like the X-Pro 2, the X-T2 also features a joystick control at the back for controlling the settings or navigating the UI. This, in my opinion, beats the rather mushy d-pad of the X-T1.
Photographers who like old school cable releases might like to know that the X-T2 now has a threaded shutter release button which allows you to use these mechanical shutter releases. On the X-T1, the only option is the electronic shutter release RR-90. Like the X-Pro 2, the X-T2 now features two SD card slots which can be configured as backup, overflow or video storage.
Overall, the X-T2 is a significant improvement over the X-T1. I can’t wait to get my hands on one to try it out. Fujifilm, if you are reading, maybe you can send us a review unit to check out.
No local pricing has been announced yet, but in the US, the X-T2 will be launched in September at US$1600 for the body alone or US$1900 when bundled with the excellent XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens. The Vertical Power Booster Grip will cost another US$330.