Nikon Announces New DL Line of 1″ Premium Compacts With a Trio of Cameras

Nikon DL 18-50 f/1.8-2.8
Nikon DL 18-50 f/1.8-2.8

Nikon announced a new line of 1″ premium compact cameras dubbed the DL (which stands for “Digital Lens”) targeted towards serious photographers. It uses the CX-format 1″ BSI CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.8MP and a maximum ISO Of 12,800. Powered by a EXPEED 6A Image Processor, the DL series of cameras are capable of 60fps continuous shooting with fixed AF, and 20fps with continuous AF.

Nikon DL 24-85 f/1.8-2.8
Nikon DL 24-85 f/1.8-2.8

The three cameras covers a wide range of focal lengths—DL 18-50mm f/1.8-2.8, DL 24-85mm f/1.8-2.8 and DL 24-500mm f/2.8-5.6. The first two models looks more or less alike, and somewhat reminiscent of the Coolpix A released in 2013. The DL 24-500 on the other hand, looks more like the P900 and the recently announced B700.

Nikon DL 24-500 f/2.8-5.6
Nikon DL 24-500 f/2.8-5.6

The DL 18-50 and DL 24-85 both features a 3″ tilting LCD with a resolution of 1.037 million dots, while the DL 24-500, like the B700, has a fully-articulated screen. All three cameras are capable of 4K video recording at 30fps, 1200 fps slow motion, HDMI output to an external recorder, still photos from video, RAW file recording, and a standard hot shoe. Wireless connectivity is provided by Bluetooth/NFC as well as WiFi. The DL 24-500 features a high-resolution OLED EVF with 2.359 million dots, while the other two has optional EVFs which can be purchased separately.

All three cameras will be available from early summer at US$850, US$650 and US$1000 respectively.

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Nikon Announces a Trio of Long-Zoom Compact Cameras

Nikon Coolpix A900
Nikon Coolpix A900

Nikon announced a trio of long-zoom compact cameras, two of which supports 4K video recording. They will have a new naming scheme, with the “A” series replacing the “L” series, and B” series replacing the “P” series.

First, we have the compact A900, with a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor, 35x (24-840 equivalent) f/3.4-6.9 zoom lens and a 3″ tilting LCD. It is also capable of 4K video recording at 30fps.

Nikon Coolpix B500
Nikon Coolpix B500

Next up, the 16MP Coolpix B500 which is powered by 4 AA batteries (Wow, this is very rare today!) and has a 40x optical zoom (22.5-900mm equivalent) f/3.0-6.5 lens. There’s also a 3″ tilting LCD but video recording is limited to just 1080p at 30fps.

Nikon Coolpix B700
Nikon Coolpix B700

Last but not least, there’s the B700 with a 60x zoom covering the equivalent of 24-1440mm at f/3.3-6.5. Like the other two, it also has a 20MP BSI CMOS sensor. In addition to the 3″ LCD is fully articulated, the B700 also has a 921k-dot EVF. Video recording is up to 4K at 30fps.

The three cameras will be available later this spring at US$399, US$299 and US$499 respectively.

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Canon Announces the EOS 80D, an Update to the 70D With 24MP

Canon EOS 80D
Canon EOS 80D

Canon has announced the EOS 80D, an update to the popular EOS 70D. The resolution has been bumped up to 24.2MP, still on a APS-C sensor. The AF module 45 cross-type AF points and an updated Dual Pixel AF for Live View still and video recording. Canon claims that the new AF module is capable of focussing down to -3EV at the centre point. Video recording capabilities have also been updated to allow for up to 1080/60p recording.

The EOS 80D has a native ISO range of 100-16,000, expandable to 25,600. The viewfinder offers approximately 100% coverage while the 3″ fully-articulated rear LCD has a resolution of 1.04M dots. Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC as well as GPS are also available on the EOS 80D.

The Canon EOS 80D will be available in March for $1,199 for the body alone, or $1,799 when bundled with an updated EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit lens.

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Pentax Announces the K-1 Full Frame DSLR

Pentax K-1
Pentax K-1

Ricoh has finally joined the full-frame bandwagon by announcing the Pentax K-1, their first full-frame DSLR today. It has a 36.4MP CMOS sensor sans AA filter for maximum sharpness. Moiré is controlled by means of a AA Filter Simulator feature. It also has 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization and a 33-point AF system having 25 cross-type sensors. The viewfinder covers “nearly 100%” with a magnification of 0.7x, while the 3.2″, 1.04M-dot rear LCD not only tilts but rotates as well, allowing you to position the screen to your desired angle easily. This is a first to be seen on a DSLR. Here’s a video from CNET showing how it works.

Being a professional camera, the K-1 body is rugged and weather-sealed, dustproof and cold-proof thanks to 87 sealing points. It also has 2 SD card slots. A cool feature, also not seen on other DSLRs, is the Operation Assist Lights. These small white LEDs help you do things like change lenses or swap memory cards in dark environments without having to use an external light source like a torch or headlamp.

The K-1’s ISO can be set between 100–204,800, while the maximum shutter speed is 1/8000. It can shoot continuously at 4.4fps. The video specifications are somewhat disappointing though, with the K-1 supporting only up to 1920×1080/60i.

Along with the K1, Ricoh also launched 12 full-frame lenses, including a 15-30mm f/2.8 wide angle zoom and a 28-105 f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom.

The Pentax K-1 will be available from April 2016 for $1,800.

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Sony Introduces a Trio of New Lenses Under the Premium “G-Master” Series

Sony G-Master Lenses and Teleconverters
Sony G-Master Lenses and Teleconverters

Along with the a6300, Sony has unveiled a new range of flagship lenses which they dubbed the G-Master series. The first three lenses under this series are: The 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4 and 70-200mm f/2.8. These sit above their previous high-end G series lenses, and therefore also command a premium price. Along with the lenses are two new teleconverters (1.4x and 2.0x) to go with the 70-200mm f/2.8.

Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM
Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM
Sony 85mm f/1.4GM
Sony 85mm f/1.4GM
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM
Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 GM
Sony 2x Teleconveter
Sony 2x Teleconveter
Sony 1.4x Teleconveter
Sony 1.4x Teleconveter
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Sony Announces the a6300, Said to Have the World’s Fastest AF

Sony a6300
Sony a6300 with 16-70mm f/4

There sure are many camera releases over the last month! The latest is Sony’s new a6300 announced today. It boasts the world’s fastest AF and the world’s highest number of AF points. Every camera manufacturer seems to be claiming this, and Sony’s fine print qualifies that it has the fastest AF among APS-C cameras as of Feb 2016, and the highest number of AF points applies to interchangeable lens cameras as of Feb 2016 based on their research.

The super fast AF is achieved by Sony’s 4D FOCUS system that can lock focus on a subject in as little as 0.05s (hmm, sounds like other cameras too). It also has an incredible 425 phase detection AF points that are densely populated over the entire image area. It can shoot up to 11fps with continuous AF and exposure tracking.

The a6300's 425 AF points (screen grabbed from Sony's video)

The new a6300 supports full live-view continuous shooting on the Tru-Finder EVF or LCD screen at up to 8fps. This produces a real-time shooting experience that combines all the benefits of an EVF with the immediacy of a TTL optical view finder.

The XGA OLED-based EVF has 2.4M dots and a 120fps frame rate for smooth, lag-free viewing, whilst the tilt 3″ LCD screen below it has a resolution of 921,600 dots. Unfortunately, it’s not a touch screen. The magnesium-alloy body is sealed from the elements and has 9 customisable buttons.

Sony a6300 tilting LCD
Sony a6300 tilting LCD

The camera has a 24.2MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor, that together with the BIONZ X image processing engine produces outstanding image quality within the ISO range of 100–51,200 (expanded.) The sensor uses copper wiring within its structure, which Sony said will “improve light collection efficiency and significantly accelerate the readout speed.”

The video capabilities are pretty impressive. The a6300 can capture 4K with full pixel readout and no pixel binning in Super 35mm. This is done by using a 20MP (6K) region of the sensor to offer a 2.4x oversampled 4K video, giving a sharp, low noise footage, even in low light. A S-Log3 gamma setting as well as S-Gamut are available to achieve a higher dynamic range and wider colour space, allowing for greater creativity for video post-production.

The Sony a6300 will be available from March for US$1,000 (body only) or US$1,150 with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens.

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Canon’s Answer to the Nikon D5—The Canon EOS 1DX Mark II

EOS-1D X Mark II with EF 35mm USM FRT
EOS-1D X Mark II with EF 35mm f/1.4 L II USM

Canon has announced the answer to Nikon’s recently released flagship, the Nikon D5, with their own flagship, the EOS 1DX Mark II. This is a 20.2MP DSLR with an ISO range of 100 to 51,200, expandable to 409,600. The new AF system consists of 61 AF points, 41 of which are cross-type sensors, and has an overall 24% larger frame coverage than the previous model. The centre AF point is sensitive to -3EV and is compatible with lenses with a maximum aperture of up to f/8, ideal for users of teleconverters.

The EOS 1D X Mark II can shoot at 14fps with AF and up to 16fps with the the mirror locked up in conjunction with a locked focus and exposure. The buffer is good for a whopping 170 RAW images in a single burst, and an unlimited number of JPEG images if you are using a CFast card. There is also a slot for standard CompactFlash cards. PC connectivity is via the camera’s USB 3.0 or Ethernet ports, while WiFi requires the use of a US$600 WFT-E8 wireless  file transmitter.

Being a professional camera body, the 1D X Mark II is built from magnesium alloy and fully weather-sealed. The shutter is rated at 400,000 cycles, which will last you 8 consecutive days of shooting continuously at 14fps. At the back of the body is a 3.2″ Clear View III LCD with 1.62M dots. It’s touch-enabled for AF point selection in Live View, There is also a built-in GPS which sits in a hump on the top of the viewfinder.

On the video side of things, the 1D X Mark II can shoot 4K video at 60fps, just like the Nikon D5. Canon says there are “virtually no restrictions” when it comes to video recording, and exFAT support allows videos larger than 4GB to be recorded without having to merge files.

The most interesting feature of the 1D X Mark II is the built-in image optimisation. The new Digital Lens Optimiser technology stores information about the optical flaws of lenses and then fixes them digitally without impacting the camera’s performance. This is probably similar to what some mirrorless cameras are doing to fix various lens aberrations in-camera.

The Canon EOS 1D X Mark II will be available in April for US$5,999 for the body alone, or US$6,299 when bundled with a 64GB CFast card and a card reader.

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Fujifilm X-Pro 2, X70 and X-E2S Launched in Singapore

Entrance to the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 / X70/ X-E2S launch event
Entrance to the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 / X70/ X-E2S launch event

Fujifilm Singapore launched the X-Pro 2, X70 and X-E2S at a launch event at Suntec City last Friday (29 Jan 2015.) A giant sticker of a Fujifilm X-Pro 2 frames the entrance to the hall where the event was held—visitors walk through the lens mount to get in. Cute! A mini exhibition of photos made by the new X-cameras—the X-Pro 2, X70 and X-E2S greets the visitor as he walks into the hall.

Mini Exhibition
Mini Exhibition
X70 Gallery
X70 Gallery

The event started off with Mr. Favian Loo, Marketing Manager of Fujifilm Singapore with a short speech of Fujifilm’s development over the past 5 years. The cameras were then launched and presented by a woman dressed as Cat Woman and another in traditional Japanese gear, both who paraded the camera to dozens of flashes popping and cameras clicking.

Models presenting the camera to the audience
Models presenting the camera to the audience
Cat Woman
Cat Woman with Fujifilm X-Pro 2

Up next on stage is Mr. Makoto Oishi, Camera Product Planner of Fujifilm Japan, who presented on the advanced technologies found on the X-Pro 2 and X70. It’s rather interesting to know that the shutter/ISO speed dial of the X-Pro 2 consisted of 38 individual parts!

Mr. Makoto Oishi
Mr. Makoto Oishi

Popular local street photographer, Mr. Chia Aik Beng, more popularly known as ABC, shared his experience with the X70 in Tokyo. The small and light X70 allowed him to discreetly take street photos, as well as freely roam the city without the burden of a DSLR system. In fact, he walked up and down the famous Shibuya crossing for 3 hours!

Street Photographer, Chia Aik Beng, on stage
Street Photographer, Chia Aik Beng, on stage

Another X-Photographer, Mr. Ivan Joshua Loh. Ivan shared with the audience how he was skeptical of mirrorless systems in the beginning, but soon switched after he tried the X-Pro 1 for his commercial work. He has since used the X-T1, X-Pro 1 and now the X-Pro 2 for his work as they are, according to him, as good as a full-frame DSLR.

Commercial Photographer Ivan Joshua Loh
Commercial Photographer Ivan Joshua Loh

Fujifilm’s Ambassador, Ms Belinda Lim made an appearance at the event, sharing her experience with the X-cameras during her recent trip. She also added that the video quality from the X-Pro 2 is good enough to function as a backup vide camera in case the one used by her video crew fails.

Ivan and Belinda
Ivan and Belinda

Next, we were ushered to the next room where we can have a hands-on experience with the newly launched cameras (and a couple of the older ones as well.)  I spent a short time with the X-Pro 2, and in my excitement, I did not take photos of it. Then again, you probably already knew how it looked like anyway. Here’s a shot of the interior, though.

Interior of the X-Pro 2
Interior of the X-Pro 2

The first couple of things I did was to test out how much faster the improved AF is, and it is indeed a big improvement over the original X-Pro 1. In my unscientific tests of randomly pointing it at stuff and trying to acquire focus, it is at least as fast as my X-T1 with firmware 4.0. However, chatting with other users seem to reveal that the different units on the show floor seem to perform slightly differently in terms of AF speed. We were told they are still pre-production units, which might explain the anomaly.

Shutter and ISO dial
Shutter and ISO dial

The EVF is also much improved over the 4-year old X-Pro 1. With a much higher refresh rate and resolution, it’s now a joy to use. It reminded me of the time I first tried the X-T1 and got totally impressed. Not being a rangefinder person, I don’t have much comments on the OVF, but the ability to automatically change the framelines according to the lens used might appeal to some.

One nice touch of the X-Pro 2 is the little joystick at the back of the body for AF point selection. This works far better than the (originally) mushy D-Pad found on the X-T1.

Visitors checking out the cameras
Visitors checking out the cameras

Moving on to the X70, it’s roughly the same size as the Ricoh GR, but with a nicer aesthetic design (to me anyway.) The tilt LCD screen is perfect for creative angles and shooting the selfie/wefies that are all the rage these days. The downsizing has meant that Fujifilm did not include an EVF on the camera, but there is an optional optical viewfinder which can be mounted to the hotshoe that you can buy. AF speeds unfortunately isn’t great, though not as slow as the original X100. I’d say it’s roughly similar to the X100S. Maybe the lighting conditions at the event weren’t ideal.

Fujifilm X70
Fujifilm X70
Fujifilm X70 tilt screen
Fujifilm X70 tilt screen

Build quality wise, both felt solid in the hands.

I didn’t try the X-E2S as it’s not much of a change over the X-E2. In fact, the X-E2S and X-T1 were pretty much neglected at the test stations, with everybody clamouring over the X-Pro 2 and X70.

The X-Pro 2 is now available from your favourite dealers at S$2,799, the X70 at S$1,199.

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