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

Panasonic Releases a GM1 with a Selfie LCD, the DMC-GF7

Panasonic GF7

This one is a bit surprising, in the sense that most camera manufacturers are slowly giving up the low-end (Olympus has more or less abandoned the Pen, consolidating what was a three-camera line into a single-camera afterthought). The DMC-GF7 is basically a GM1 with a screen that flips up for selfies, and has a few tweaks to the button layout to cater to beginners. Everything else, including the 16 megapixel sensor and the kit lens seems to be the same.

The USA pricing for it is a bit of a shock for me, since at US$600 it is what the GM1 is here in Singapore. Lately pricing can vary quite a bit between Singapore and USA; while new cameras typically have little differences, the recent cameras have Singapore street prices 25% lower than the USA street prices. Still, for a company trying to push their margins up, I don’t think Panasonic will depress the entry level camera pricing by that much. So perhaps the GF series is no longer a budget camera, but a premium compact camera that is aimed at casual users.

The GF7 will be available in February, in both silver-trimmed black and pink.

Whirlwind Tour of CES 2015

I had some time off from my official duties for my company at the CES 2015 at Las Vegas earlier this week and did a whirlwind tour of the Central Hall, where most of the major camera makers are. This is a quick write-up of what I saw.

Nikon

Nikon recently released their new DSLR – the D5500 and the new AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR, so I decided to drop by Nikon’s booth to try them out.

Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

Nikon D5500 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The D5500 is a small upgrade from the previous D5300, and like the D750, it features a monocoque body design with a deeper hand grip. The deeper grip feels nicer in the hands compared to the D5300 which we reviewed earlier.

In our D5300 review, we were disappointed that the screen is not touch-enabled. With the D5500, Nikon has finally added a touch screen. Other than allowing you to change settings with a touch, you can also touch to focus/shoot, swipe through playback images or pinch to zoom, much like you would on a smart phone.

Performance-wise, it felt pretty much similar to the older D5300. Unfortunately, as it’s a pre-production unit, I wasn’t allowed to collect sample images on my own SD card.

Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR

Nikon D810 with AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR

This is the lens that YS is particularly excited about. I am amazed at how small and light it is. At 755g, it’s half the weight of the previous version of the 300mm f/4! Again, as it was a pre-production unit, I was unable to get sample images through the lens.

YSSQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE – it’s so tiny! Definitely can’t wait to try it out.

Nikon's Bulletime Setup

Nikon’s Bullet-time Setup

CK: One of the fun things at Nikon’s booth is a 360º bullet-time setup. There’s a long queue of people waiting to be captured Matrix-style by 48 Nikon D750s.

Over at the Nikon School Theatre, small flash guru Joe McNally was giving a presentation on, what else, using the Nikon Speedlights! A model was also on location for McNally’s demos.

Joe McNally and Model On Stage

Joe McNally and Model On Stage

Continue reading

Fujifilm Announces X-A2, XF2, and Updated Kit Lenses

Fujifilm X-A2 Front with Tilted LCD
In the doldrums that is right in-between CES and CP+, Fujifilm has announced a series of minor updates to some of their products. I know, it is not the most exciting thing, but look at it this way: The possibility of other announcements is still there. Normally manufacturers announce the less exciting products away from peak announcement period to avoid getting drowned out by other, more interesting products.

First up is the X-A2. As the entry level camera to the Fujifilm X system, the X-A2 now has a flip-up LCD screen for selfies. The 16 megapixel standard CMOS sensor is still the same, as is the rest of the camera.

Next up is the XQ2, which adds Classic Chrome film simulation mode. Yes, that is the only change from the XQ1. I am guessing Fujifilm wants to have another go with the XQ camera as the first camera got a lukewarm reception, even though it was competitive with Canon’s Powershot S120. It has the same 2/3″ X-Trans sensor along with a 25-100mm equivalent f/1.8-4.9 lens.

Finally the two XC kit lenses, the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 and the 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 have also been given modest updates. The 16-50 focuses closer to 30cm, down from 40cm, and the 50-230mm has slightly improved OIS. Fujifilm also claims better build quality for both of them, though it looks like the lens mounts are still going to be plastic.

The X-A2 will be available in February for US$550 with the 16-50 II, while the XQ2 will be available in February for US$400.

Nikon Announces D5500, AF-S 55-200mm II and AF-S 300mm f/4 PF VR

AFS_300_4E_PF

Oh my goodness. PMA@CES is here, and so far it has been a boring pile of rubbish compacts until now. Let me start with the real highlight for me: The Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4G PF ED VR.

Firstly let me preface that although I have never owned the AF-S 300mm f/4, I have always been impressed with the lens on the times I have used it, including with it on the Nikon 1 V2. Its incredible resolution even with the dense V2 sensor is remarkable, given it was a lens designed well before APS sensors even hit 6 megapixels. Even without VR I was contemplating getting it to pair with my V2 for extreme long telephoto work.

So imagine my surprise with the new lens. Not only did it add VR, but Nikon has chosen to use it to introduce their Phase Fresnel design. If you all remember, Canon introduced their Diffractive Optics design quite a while back, proclaiming it to be lighter and smaller, but making one of the debut lenses a 400mm f/4 meant that most of the weight savings came because it was a f/4 and not a f/2.8 lens; at 1.9kg it didn’t seem remarkably lighter than the old Nikon 2.8kg 400mm f/3.5 lens, which was also a third of a stop brighter, and was built like a tank. Made even more jarring that the new 400/4 DO is actually heavier than its predecessor at 2.1kg.

Nikon’s PF on the other hand, seems to have done something remarkable. To put it simply, it comes very close to the AF-S 70-300 VR in weight and size. The new lens is weighs just 755g. I am pretty much floored by this; the previous AF-S 300mm f/4 was 1.4kg, nearly twice the weight!

This of course, places me in one heck of a conundrum: With Olympus’s 300mm f/4 coming, it’s something to consider. There are quite a few factors I can think of right now, so I am going to spend some time to ponder on this a bit myself.

Anyway, on to the consumer releases: Continue reading

Sony’s A7II Features Five-axis Stabilisation

Sony A7II FrontSony’s announcement of the A7II was not a complete surprise to me; the aggressive discounts which were quite widely advertised for the A7 recently gave the impressions that something was up.

Now that the camera specifications are quite well-known, I guess the big upgrade that everyone is talking about is the 5-axis stabilisation. While reports have Sony saying that this is not Olympus’s technology, I can’t believe that they did not have some help from them. If it performs as well as the E-M1’s, it should be very effective for many uses, including videos. Expect an A7SII soon? One can hope! Continue reading

Panasonic Lumix Launch Event

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Panasonic organised a launch event at the Funan Digitalife Mall over the last weekend to launch their Lumix LX100, GM-5 and GH4 in Singapore. YS and I dropped by to get a hands-on on them, including the highly-anticipated Lumix LX100 (pictured above.)

I have been a long-time user of the old Panasonic LX3. It’s a great little compact camera with good image quality, manual controls and a fast zoom which starts at 24mm (equivalent) at f/2.0. It made for a great travel camera or for social settings when I don’t want to lug a heavy DSLR around.

YS: I myself had the LX2, which was before the LX3 really defined the LX class. It still was a pretty decent camera, at a time when Panasonic cameras had relatively noisy sensors. Remember them?

CK: I skipped the LX5 and LX7 when they came out as I didn’t think the changes are significant enough (more megapixels, slightly longer reach, etc.) But when Panasonic announced the LX100 with a Micro Four Thirds sensor, a fast 24-75mm lens which starts at f/1.7, 4K video recording and even an EVF, I was excited to get my hands on one to test it out. This launch event gave me that opportunity.

Following the previous LX models, the LX100 features knobs and dials for the controls, something of a trend right now with the likes of Fuji adopting it in their cameras. In fact, the top of the camera looks somewhat like a Fuji XE2. The body is bigger than my LX3 to cater for the bigger sensor and lens, but the overall size is still pretty compact. Due to the magnesium alloy body, the LX100 feels very solid in the hands.

YS: I would say it is more of a slow evolution: The LX7 after all added an aperture ring, so the extra dials seemed like the next logical step. Not one I am too fond of, however.

The camera is definitely larger than the LX7 that came before it, and I would even say it is no longer jacket pocketable, unless you like having a large bulge in your jacket. However it is still plenty small, and I would compare it to something like a Canon Powershot G camera.

CK: Like most modern Micro Four Thirds cameras, the LX100 focusses pretty quickly, though I still think the Nikon 1 series is slightly faster on this aspect. Having used to the big and glorious EVF of the Fujifilm X-T1, the LX100’s EVF looks small but refresh rate is pretty decent. It is definitely very usable, more so than the one on the Sony RX100 III, I’d say.

From the LCD, image quality is excellent, and high-ISO performance is pretty decent too. We weren’t able to use our own memory cards on the camera as there is a long queue of people clamouring over it and we didn’t want to hog it for too long. Hope to get a review unit from Panasonic soon, so that we can do a more in-depth review.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 will sell for S$1199 here, and there’s a current promotion with an additional 16GB SD card, original case, battery and $50 shopping vouchers.

YS: That’s a pretty decent price. I think for many enthusiasts this could be the one camera for all their photography needs. The wants, however, is a different thing altogether.

CK: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 was on display at the event, filming a water-drop setup to demonstrate still-image extraction from 4K video. Basically, a video of a drop of ink landing onto a bowl of water is captured as a 4K video, and the desired frame is extracted in-camera to obtain a still image. This might change the way photojournalism is done in future, where the photojournalist simply shoots video and select a frame later.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

The Panasonic/Leica CM1 phone was also on display at the event, but unfortunately it’s housed behind a display case and we can’t get our hands on it. It’s less bulky than I thought, though it housed a 1″ sensor for its camera.

YS: I am pretty sure it’s a mockup. As far as I know, it’s still only going on sale in France and Germany, sort of an experiment.

Panasonic/Leica CM1 Phone

Panasonic/Leica CM1 Phone

Finally, I also spent some time with the GM5, the followup to the GM1. The camera is actually smaller than the LX100, though once you add proper lenses to it it will no longer be quite as small.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5

The changes to the GM5 are minor, but they improve the camera handling a lot. Having a proper rear command dial makes settings easier to change, and the slightly larger frame makes it better to hold. The EVF is a real tiny affair, but it is serviceable. I really liked the GM1, so we shall see if I end up getting something silly one day. Christmas is not too far away after all!

That wraps out our coverage of the cameras on show. We will be trying to get a LX100 for review, so stay tuned!

Canon Announces EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USMAfter a very long time Canon has finally updated the venerable 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens. The new design uses a rotating zoom ring instead of the old push-pull, which is nicer to use if you ask me, and the optics should finally be a match for today’s modern sensors, unlike its 16 year-old predecessor, which I always thought was a bit dicey on digital. Not too different from its Nikon counterpart then.

I actually like these lenses loads on DSLRs; the extra reach is nice to have, and needing f/2.8 is less of an issue compared to the film days. The only problem with Canon was that the old 100-400 was just not as great compared to the 70-200/2.8 II, but now Canon users will have a nice dilemma on their hands.

Arrives in December in the US for US$2199.

 

 

Nikon 1 J4 Review

Nikon 1 J4 with 10-30mm PD Zoom

Interested in the Nikon 1 J4? Buy yours from Amazon US!

Introduction

Nikon’s 1 series of mirrorless compacts in general have not got a lot of respect outside of those who have actually used the cameras, but even the most ardent of fans have to admit that these cameras have their own issues, ranging from quirky UI, sensors optimised for speed over dynamic range, to just some bad marketing mistakes in general (like the insane prices that the J1 and V1 debuted with).

 Does the J4 finally get it alright? We take a look. Continue reading

Going Commercial: A Small Experiment

a.com_logo_RGB
If there is one thing you thing you have noticed about our site so far, it has been the lack of ads and anything commercial-related; we are simply doing this in our spare time. Well, we would like to write more for you, but doing so takes time away from the things that makes that thing that buys things, ie. money. While we are not going to stuff our site full of ads like some other sites do, we will be starting out with an Amazon affiliate program, just to test the waters. Bear with us as we experiment a bit, and thank you for reading Three Guys with Cameras!

Fujifilm Launches the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, X100T, X30 In Singapore

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Edition with XF 56mm f/1.2APD

Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Edition with Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2APD

Fujifilm Singapore launched the X-T1 Graphite Silver Edition, the X100T, X30, XF 54-140mm f/2.8 and XF 56mm f/1.2APD at One Rochester on 11 Oct 2014. The event was opened to anyone who registered, and I decided to check it out. Continue reading