Nikon Df Review
Three Guys’ Review: Nikon D5300
Nikon Singapore D4s Launch Event

Six More Cameras From Leica Announced At Photokina

Leica S-E (Typ 006)

Leica S-E (Typ 006)

I have never seen Leica release so many cameras at Photokina, Leica is really on a roll. Other than the two rangefinders – the M Edition 60 LCD-less digital rangefinder and M-A film rangefinder camera, Leica has also announced 2 medium format cameras, a couple of compact APS-C cameras and two rebranded Panasonic cameras.

First up, the pair of Leica medium format S-series cameras. The Leica S-E (Typ 006) is an “entry level” model in their lineup, featuring a 30x45mm, 37.5 megapixel CCD sensor with a 12-stop dynamic range. The 2GB buffer lets you shoot up to 32 full-size DNG photos at 1.5 frames per second before slowing down.

The Leica S-E has a dual shutter system, comprising of a conventional focal plane shutter which lets you shoot at up to 1/4000th of a second. Used in conjunction with the electronic shutter of Leica CS lenses however, and you can shoot at up to 1/1000.

The weather-sealed S-E also has a 3″ 922k-dot LCD display made from Corning’s Gorilla Glass to protect from scratches. Yours for just €13,000 or US$16,900.

Leica S (Typ 007)

Leica S (Typ 007)

The next medium format is the top-of-the-line Leica S (Typ 007) featuring a 30x45mm 37.5megapixel CMOS sensor paired with Leica’s Maestro II image processor. It’s capable of shooting up to 3.5fps in stills mode, and 4K, 60fps 4:2:2 video in video mode. The AF system has been improved for faster and more accurate focussing, and the camera also comes with Wifi and GPS.

Like the S-E (Typ 006), the S (Typ 007) also features a 3″, 922k dot LCD display made of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. You can pre-order yours from B&H for just US$25,400.

With the big guns out of the way, let’s talk about the smaller cameras.

Leica X (Typ 113)

Leica X (Typ 113)

The Leica X (Typ 113) is a premium minimalist compact camera with a 16.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. It also does 1080p video at 30fps like any other modern compact. The lens is a fixed Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7. Featuring full manual controls, it’s capable of up to ISO 12,500 and shoots at a maximum of 5fps in either JPEG or DNG. No viewfinder though, so you’ll have to compose on the 3″ 920k-dot LCD. Price? US$2,300.

Leica X-E

Leica X-E

The Leica X-E is basically like the Leica X but without the video capabilities and a slightly slower and longer lens in the form of a 24mm f/2.8 Leica Elmarit. The LCD is also smaller at 2.7″. It’s slightly cheaper, at US$1,800.

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)

Finally, we have a pair of rebadged Panasonic cameras. If you think the recently announced Panasonic LX100 is not classy or expensive enough for you, you can opt to pay US$300 more to get the red dot treatment in the form of the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109). Specs wise, everything is exactly the same as the LX100. It’ll cost US$1,200.

Leica V-Lux

Leica V-Lux

If you want both the red dot treatment AND a long zoom, then the V-LUX is the camera for you. This is essentially a Panasonic FZ1000, but with the Leica price premium. It’ll cost US$1350.

Panasonic Announces Lumix CM1 Android Smartphone Camera With 1″ Sensor

Panasonic Lumix CM1

Panasonic Lumix CM1

Photokina: Smartphone cameras always had small sensors to keep their overall size down. Even the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom and the Lumia 1020 with 41 megapixels have puny sensors. Panasonic has just announced what’s possibly the smart phone camera to end all smart phone cameras – the Lumix CM1.

This Android smartphone is equipped a 4.7″ screen and a 20 megapixel camera featuring a 1″ sensor. The lens is a Leica DC Elmarit lens offering an equivalent of 28mm f/2.8 in 35mm terms. Settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO are controlled via the manual lens ring and there’s a dedicated shutter button at the top of the device.

The phone side of the device has pretty standard features – a 4.7″ Full HD screen, 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, 2GB of internal RAM, 16GB of internal memory and a microSD card which supports up to 128GB, as well as a 2,600mAh battery. It runs Android Kitkat out of the box.

All these does not come cheap though. The phone (or camera if you like) will be available in France and Germany only for now, at a cool €900 (US$1165). Don’t think the Leica aficionados are going to spring for this though. Leica has something more “exciting” for them.

YS: Probably US$900 then, Euro pricing and all. Not particularly enticed for some reason. Maybe it’s the price, or the fact that the battery is kinda tiny. After use the Note series I don’t want to go back to a phone with a battery with less than 3,000 mAh.

Leica Unveils All-New, All-Mechanical M-A FILM Rangefinder

Leica M-A with Summarit 50mm f/2.4

Leica M-A with Summarit 50mm f/2.4

Photokina: Looks like Leica is on a roll. Not content with the LCD-less M Edition 60, Leica has also announced the fully mechanical film rangefinder camera in the form of the Leica M-A (Typ 127). In wanting to connect with the Leica M3 launched 60 years ago, the M-A eschews all forms of electronics and 100% mechanical. Like the M3, it also has no light meter. Even the shutter speeds take on the M3, with a top speed of only 1/1000s. This is even more “pure photography” than the Nikon Df.

The M-A has a lever to change the frame lines for 28/90mm, 35/135mm and 50/75mm. In a very fluffy marketing speak, Leica says, “It may have no monitor, no exposure meter, and no battery, but what it does have is a mechanical quality that makes Leica’s 100 years of experience instantly tangible. Photographers can read the shutter speed and aperture directly from the camera and lens and so concentrate fully on their subject. The acoustic signature of the shutter release of a Leica M-A is a delight that immediately reveals the precision-engineered excellence of its origin.”

If you can’t afford the €15,000 (US$19,500) Leica M Edition 60 and wants to get on the purer-than-pure photography bandwagon, the M-A is yours for just €3,850 (US$4,750) for the body alone. It even comes with a free roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 to get you started.

I really can’t think of why anyone would want this over say, a Leica M7. Or just buy a used M3.

YS: Or how about not buy them? Rangefinders are awful really; there’s a reason why the Japanese finally wrestled dominance from the Germans with the coming of the SLR.

Leica Attempts to Sell You Less For More With the 60th Anniversary Leica M Edition 60

Leica M Edition 60 with Summilux 35mm f/1.4

Photokina: Leica is a luxury/boutique camera maker and is never associated with value for money, but this announcement really takes the cake. To mark the 60th anniversary since the release of the Leica M3, the German camera maker has announced the limited edition Leica M Edition 60.

This is essentially a M-P Typ 240 digital rangefinder, but in attempting to return to the roots of the legendary M3, Leica removes the LCD screen that is now ubiquitous with digital cameras. In doing so, Leica wants you to shoot it as if it’s a film camera. In a statement, the company said, “Working with the Leica M Edition 60 demands the same care and attention as when working with analogue models. The sensor and electronics represent the pinnacle of contemporary, cutting edge technology. It allows the photographer to indulge in complete concentration on the subject or scene and savour the instant of capturing a special moment. Without the distraction of superfluous technical features. This is what makes the art of photography so immortal.”

Superb copywriting there, trying to sell people less for quite a lot money. I am rather surprised that Leica has not gone a step further and made it an internal memory-only camera, with enough to hold 36-37 exposures, to be much closer to the film experience. And while they are at that, they should have based this off the Leica M Monochrom instead.

The stripped down Leica M Edition 60 sans LCD but with a Summilux 35mm f/1.4 will go on sale for a cool €15,000 (US$19,500) from October. Now, I wonder if David will be interested in getting one, but he’ll have to hurry as there are only 600 units available worldwide.

YS: This isn’t for photographers, but for collectors. Move along.

The Dark Horse Rises: Samsung Announces NX1 with 4K and NX 50-150mm f/2.8

NX1 with 16-50MM_3

It may not be the camera system we need, but is it the one we deserve? Samsung has been slowly trying to gain traction, but it always seems that despite being second to the market with a mirrorless system, and having some really sweet lenses, its acceptance has been less than ideal. I do partly blame Samsung themselves, because for a company that can go toe-to-toe with the mind-share juggernaut that is Apple, it has taken a very low-key approach in the camera industry. The NX1 better change that, for it packs some serious specs. Continue reading

Panasonic Announces the Lumix DMC-LX100, Lumix DMC-GM5 and a Pair of New Lenses

Panasonic DMC-LX100

Panasonic DMC-LX100

Panasonic has announced a new member to the LX family – the DMC-LX100. Unlike the previous LX-series compact cameras like the highly successful LX3, 5 and 7, the LX100 incorporates a 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor. This effectively moves the latest LX camera into the Micro Four Thirds category along side the other Panasonic models such as the GM1.

The LX100 features a 24-75mm equivalent lens with an aperture of f/1.7-2.8 and supports 4K video recording at 30p. It also features WiFi and NFC for easy pairing to smart devices. This little compact also has a built-in EVF with XGA resolution and a fixed touch-capable 3″ LCD. No pop-up flash but a clip-on external flash is provided in the box.

The camera will be available in October, but no pricing information is available at this point of time.

Panasonic DMC-GM5

Panasonic DMC-GM5

Next up, we have the Panasonic DMC-GM5. Last year, Panasonic released the very compact DMC-GM1. It is well-loved for being almost similar to a compact camera in size, yet delivering images that much better as it has a Four Thirds sensor. One of my main gripes about it is that it lacks a viewfinder.

Today, Panasonic has addressed that by announcing the DMC-GM5, a compact Micro Four Thirds camera with a built-in EVF having 1.2m dots. That’s not all, it also has a hotshoe! Panasonic calls it the World’s Smallest Interchangeable Lens Camera with Live View Finder as of today. It also does 1080/60p HD video recording and features WiFi and NFC. There’s also a 24p mode with a max bit rate of 24Mbps for that cinematic look in your videos.

The DMC-GM5 will be available at US$899.

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm

Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S

Lumix G Vario 14mm

Lumix G Vario 14mm f/2.5 II

To go with the new GM5, Panasonic announced a pair of lenses – the Lumix G Vario 35-100mm f/4-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S and Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II ASPH. Both the lenses are designed to match the GM-series cameras with their compact. retractable design. The 35-100mm is a compact telephoto zoom covering the equivalent of 70-200mm and as its name implies, it features Optical Image Stabilisation. The 14mm II is a revised version of the previous 14mm.

Each of the lenses will be available for US$399.

YS: Some really quick thoughts here: I’m looking at both the GM5 (what is with the arbitrary jump in model numbers) and the LX100 and I have to say, I’m torn between both of them. Panasonic are starting to really raise their game here after a series of ho-hum Micro Four Thirds cameras like the GF5 and G6 and I’m liking it.

There’s also a firmware update for the GH4, which adds tethered shooting, which is really useful for some work, as well as features to make using 4K video to obtain stills less unwieldy. I’ve always been of the opinion that 4K video as a method for stills capture is currently hobbled by the software side of things: No one wants to sift through thousands of photos to get a few tens of keepers. Panasonic’s additions are somewhat vague now, in that the camera will set “optimum parameters for photo shooting” for recording format, photo quality and, um, brightness levels. If they are smart something like Nikon’s old Best Shot Selector and its variants found in the Nikon 1 would be a good start.

Mmm, makes me want to upgrade to the GH4.

Canon Announces the Long Awaited EOS 7D Mark II, a Slew of New Lenses to Go With It And a New PowerShot Compact Camera

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

The highly-rumoured and anticipated Canon EOS 7D Mark II is finally announced by Canon. Finally moving away from the overused 18 megapixel sensor found in many of Canon’s DSLRs, the 7D Mark II features a new, 20.2 megapixel sensor with Dual Pixel AF. One-upping the recently announced Nikon D750, it also features 65 cross-type AF points and a 10 fps burst shooting speed. The metering sensor is a new 150k-pixel, RGB+IR, 252-zone unit for enhanced precision in metering.

Just like the Nikon D750, the video mode is capable of 1080/60p HD recording. In addition to the optical viewfinder with a 100% coverage, the camera also has a 3″ Clear View II LCD with 1,040k-dot resolution to preview your images or provide a live view for your shooting.

The EOS 7D Mark II will be available in November for US$1,799 for the body alone or bundled with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM pictured above for US$2149.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

Along with the new camera, Canon has also announced a trio of new lenses – the EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM, EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM. At just 4.6 lbs., The EF 400mm weighs half the weight of its big brother, the EF 400mm f/2.8L and offers an additional four stops of image stabilisation using Canon’s improved optical image stabilisation. It will be available for US$6,899 in November.

Canon EF 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

Canon EF 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

The EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM also boasts an additional 4 stops of shutter speed and is meant to be a more economical alternative to the EF 24-105mm f/4L. It will be available in December for US$699.99.

EF-S 20mm f/2.8 STM

EF-S 20mm f/2.8 STM

The EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM is what Canon claims to be the smallest and lightest EF-S lens they’ve ever produced. As you can see in the photo above, it’s quite a pancake! This would make quite a good walkabout lens for street photography for Canon users using the cropped-sensor bodies like the EOS 7D Mark II. Both the EF-S 24mm f/2.8STM and the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM features stepping motors for quiet autofocus performance. The lens will be available in November for US$149.99.

Canon PowerShot G7 X

Canon PowerShot G7 X

Finally, Canon has also launched a new compact camera with a 1″ sensor in the form of the PowerShot G7 X. This is the first Canon compact camera to use a 1″ sensor, and it features a 20.2 megapixel BSI CMOS chip. A DIGIC 6 processor performs the image processing duties and the lens has a equivalent focal length of 24-100mm at f/1.8-2.8. The AF system has 31 points and the camera is capable of shooting continuously at 6.5fps.

Like many new cameras released recently, it’s equipped with a 3″ tilting touchscreen, WiFi and NFC for easy connectivity. Unlike the previous G-series compact camera, there is no built-in viewfinder on the G7 X though. It will be available in October for US$699.99.

YS: That’s going to make a lot of Nikon people unhappy – specifically those who have been waiting for the D300 replacement.

Also, that G7 X. It’s a great day for those looking for a pocket rocket. If the performance of the newer Powershots is anything to go by it should not lag behind the Sony RX100 cameras by too much. There’s always the Panasonics too. What choice!

Sigma Announces Three New Lenses and Two Teleconverters

img01_452img01_453

Sigma has also announced a bunch of lenses, starting with a pair of 150-500mm f/5-6.3 HSM OS lenses. A pair? That’s right. Sigma probably took a look at Tamron and envied them enough to produce a pair of such lenses, coming in at Sport and Contemporary editions. The main difference is the Sport version has more elements for better image quality (given they’re low dispersion glass I assume there will be less chromatic aberrations at least) and the Sport version is better built with weather sealing.  It is also going to be heavier at 2.8kg. Yikes that’s the 120-300mm f/2.8’s weight! No word on price and availability for either lens. Continue reading

More On Nikon’s Nikkor AF-S 20mm f/1.8G and SB-500

Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G

We briefly touched on the other Nikon releases, so here is a bit more detail, starting with the Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G. With it Nikon has pretty much refreshed and improved a lot of their primes from 20mm to 85mm. All that’s missing is a 24mm f/1.8G. If you told me back when I was still shooting film that for a bit more I could have got a f/1.8 instead of a f/2.8 version I would have said you were nuts. Continue reading

Nikon Launches the D750 Digital SLR

Nikon D750

Nikon D750

Nikon invited us and a few others into a small lunch event where they have also launched the Nikon D750 Full-frame Digital SLR. Along with it, Nikon has also announced the new AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED, the Speedlight SB500 and the Coolpix S6900 targeted at selfie-lovers.

The Nikon D750 features a 24-megapixel CMOS FX sensor, EXPEED 4 processor, 51-point AF system from the Nikon D810. And FINALLY, it has built-in WiFi and a tilting LCD found on many mirrorless cameras. The continuous shooting mode lets you shoot up to 6.5fps.

YS: Also, the Raw buffer is at 12, which is pretty decent, and also a big improvement over the D7100, which is what this camera reminds me of, but with that very nice 24 megapixel FX sensor.

CK: For film makers, the D750 has the same video features as the recently- announced D810, with 1080/60p and full manual exposure control with power aperture controls while recording.

The D750 body is also designed to be a bit smaller than the D810 without compromising the solid feel. Made with a “monocoque” structural technique, the body is made with a combination of carbon fibre and magnesium alloy, giving a good balance of weight and comfort in using.

YS: While I mentioned that this is like a D7100, that mainly refers to its specifications. The body itself, while sharing common a UI language, is clearly a new design. It has a slimmer profile and is actually very light. The carbon fibre mix that Nikon is now using is making for some very lightweight but rigid bodies.

Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 16-35mm f/4 (Right)

Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Left) and Nikon D810 with AF-S 16-35mm f/4 (Right)

Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.8D (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Right)

Nikon D810 with AF-S 50mm f/1.8D (Left) and Nikon D750 with AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (Right)

CK: First thoughts on the camera: Despite being smaller and lighter than a “pro-level” DSLR like the D810, the D750 feels solid in the hands. The grip is nice and deep, which makes it easier to hold.

As mentioned earlier, I am glad to see a tilting LCD finally appearing on semi-pro bodies like this. Prior to the D750, this can only be found in entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D5200. This 3.2″ Vari-angle LCD features 1,229k-dots and can tilt up and down by 90º.

Another nice addition is built-in Wifi. For the longest time, users of semi-professional and professional Nikon bodies have to rely on optional add-ons such as the Nikon WT-1 or Wifi-enabled cards like Eye-Fi/FlashAir to get Wifi capabilities. Again, this is commonly found in mirrorless cameras and I am glad Nikon has finally added it to the D750.

The nice and bright viewfinder has a 100% coverage, supplemented by an organic EL information display. This gives a nice, clear information display compared to the older LCD-style ones. The top LCD is now smaller than the other Nikon DSLRs like the D610, so some of the information now needs to be displayed onto the main LCD instead.

AF performance with the AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G and AF-S 16-35mm f/4G is excellent. Live View AF however, is still a little slow, probably similar to that of the D600/610.

For timelapse lovers, the D750 has a timelapse mode which will stitch together multiple shots taken at set intervals into a timelapse movie. The timelapse mode features “exposure smoothing” which should produce smoother-looking timelapse movies, but I have not managed to test that out properly.

YS: In my opinion, this is a camera that can actually go toe-to-toe with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III in most areas. Better sensor? Yes. Similar autofocus systems? Yes. Continuous shooting speed? Yes. Feature-for-feature the D750 ticks most of the boxes. Where it might fall behind a little is in the UI, with a few less buttons and a more mid-range feel to it. However the difference is not that big, as the 5DIII has less in common with the 1DX than the D810 has with the D4S. One major difference has to be the lack of a dedicated AF-On button, for you back-button AF users.

The camera will arrive later this month, with a US MSRP of US$2,300, which is a pretty reasonable price. What is not reasonable is the price for the battery grip, MB-D16, at US$485. 485?! This is even more expensive than the D800’s MB-D10, which I thought was plenty crazy. Why Nikon? Is that how you plan to increase profits? Because I have a hunch this is what pushes people to buy 3rd party battery grips. I know I would if I bought the D750, and this is someone who has used nothing but original battery grips all this while, from the F100 to my current GH3.

As for the 20mm f/1.8, which looks to be another good lens in Nikon’s growing range of f/1.8 primes, it will arrive later this month as well, for US$800. Ditto for the SB-500, which is a small flash with a LED video light, which will cost US$250. I already like it better than the SB-400 at the first glance, despite the higher price!