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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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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Nikon (Finally) Announces the D500 Pro-level Crop Sensor DSLR

Nikon D500 with AF-S 16-80mm
Nikon D500 with AF-S 16-80mm f/3.5-5.6ED VR

Nikon today announced the new and highly anticipated D500, a pro-level DSLR with a crop sensor (DX) which shares quite a bit of features of the D5. It has a 20.9MP APS-C sensor as well as the new EXPEED 5 image processor found on the D5. This is the long-awaited successor to the very popular D300S.

ISO sensitivity, while not as high as the D5, is still an impressive 100 to 51,200. This can be expanded to 50—1,640,000. In terms of continuous shooting speed, the D500 can shoot at up to 10fps using the same 153-point AF system as the D5. On the D500, these AF points cover almost the whole of the frame. A large buffer allows for 79 14-bit raw files in burst mode.

Nikon D500 (Rear), showing the 3.2" tilt/swivel LCD touch screen.
Nikon D500 (Rear), showing the 3.2″ tilt/swivel LCD touch screen.

Being a pro-level camera, it has a rugged weather sealed body like the D810, and features a magnesium-alloy top/rear and a carbon-fibre reinforced front. At the back of the camera is a 3.2″ tilt/swivel touch-screen LCD with 2.4 million dots, similar to the one found on the D750, The viewfinder has a 100% coverage with a magnification of 1.0x, giving a bright and big view. Storage duties are performed by a XQD slot and a regular SD slot.

On the video side of things, the D500 can shoot 4K/30p and 1080p at various frame rates. Like the D810, it features Picture Controls and an uncompressed HDMI output. New to the D500 are in-camera 4K time-lapse, Auto-ISO smoothing and the ability to send 4K video to the card and HDMI outputs simultaneously.

The D500 also features SnapBridge, a new technology developed by Nikon which lets you establish an always-on Bluetooth connection between the D500 and a smart device. This allows you to do automatic image transfers between devices and is addition to the more common WiFi and NFC options which are also available on the camera.

The D500 will be available in March 2016 with a SRP of US$2,000. There’s also an option to purchase it with the AF-S 16-80mm f/3.5-5.6ED VR lens for US$3,070.

CK: Wow, this sure took Nikon a long time! When I was looking to upgrade my D200 many years ago, I didn’t have that much options. The D300/300S was getting a bit long in the tooth, making the D7000 more attractive as an upgrade. Of course, the D7000 isn’t a pro-level camera, and didn’t handle as nicely as the D200, but it’s decent enough. Many photographers have also yearned for a D300-type successor but none was coming. Nikon has basically ignored the pro DX shooters for a long time. We probably got to thank Canon for coming up with the EOS 7D Mark II which kicked Nikon in the you-know-where.

Too late however, at least for me. Many photographers, myself included, have moved on to APS-C mirrorless cameras. That said, this still looks like a very impressive camera to be had.

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Nikon Announces the D5, the New Flagship DSLR With ISO Up to 3,280,000

Nikon D5 (front)
Nikon D5 (front)

Nikon announced the D5, a new flagship DSLR today, featuring a new AF system, 4K video recording, and an expanded ISO range of up to 3,280,000. Yes, you read that right. You can shoot at an ISO of 3.28 million. Though that’s an expanded ISO rating, the native ISO is still an impressive 102,400. In comparison, the previous flagship, the D4S, only had a native ISO of just 409,600.

Nikon D5 (Back)
Nikon D5 (Back)

The D5 features a 20MP full-frame CMOS sensor which can shoot stills at up to 12fps (14 with the mirror locked up) and video at 4K 30fps. The image processor is a new Expeed 5. The new AF system makes use of 153 AF points, of which 99 are the cross-type.

A 3.2″ LCD with 2.36 million dots serves as the display, while the viewfinder covers 100% with a magnification of 0.72x. Connectivity-wise, the camera has a 1000 Base-T 400Mbps Ethernet connection for fast image transfers. Nikon said this is up to 1.5x faster than the D4S.

The D5 will be available with two storage options—a dual CF model as well as a dual XQD one. The latter gives the photographer read/write speeds of up to 35% faster than CF cards.

The D5 will be available from March at a SRP of US$6,500.

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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!

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Nikon Df Review

Nikon Df with the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition
Nikon Df with the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition


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 SLR. The two biggest standout features of the camera are the much talked about and much hyped manual film SLR design and user interface, and the less discussed, but still noteworthy, D4 sensor, in what is probably the only way to get it at an affordable price point without having to wait for the D4 itself to be obsolete and on sale in the secondary for three pieces of toast and a cup of coffee.

We have looked at the Df before, but now that we have handled it and shot with it for a longer period, what did we think? Continue reading Nikon Df Review

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Three Guys First Thoughts: Nikon Df

Nikon Df

The Nikon Df has attracted a lot of attention, given the buzz on the Internet. Given a giant in camera makers has elected to things a little differently, it’s a no wonder. We spent some time yesterday at the media event hosted by Nikon Singapore, so what did we think of it?

Update (30/05/2014): Our review of the Nikon Df is now live!

Continue reading Three Guys First Thoughts: Nikon Df

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Nikon Announces the D5300 DSLR With WiFi, GPS and No Anti-aliasing Filter

Nikon D5300
Nikon D5300

Looks like it’s a week of camera announcements! Barely a year after releasing the D5200, Nikon followed up with some enhancements in the form of the D5300. Like the Nikon D610 announced earlier, this is a small update which adds WiFi, GPS-tagging and the removal of the anti-aliasing (AA) filter, the last of which is quite the norm these days for new cameras. Other improvements include a larger optical viewfinder, larger 3.2″ LCD screen, 1080/60p video and a new Expeed 4 image processor allowing for up to 5fps burst shooting. The resolution remains at 24 megapixels.

The camera will be available in black, red or grey for US$1399.99 as a kit with the new 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G this month.

YS: Umm, why? Was the D5200 a camera in desperate need of replacing? I guess the D400 is probably dead by now.

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Kit Lenses Aren’t All That Bad

I recently came across a piece by Marco Arment, developer of the popular Instapaper app titled “SLRs aren’t worth it if you’ll only use the kit lens“. In the blog post, Marco wrote:

I’d go further and suggest that you shouldn’t buy an SLR if you only ever plan to use its kit lens or an inexpensive zoom lens. Kit lenses and low-end zooms produce blurry, distorted, drab images — they can look decent on blogs or phones, but the flaws become apparent when you see them on big Retina screens or printed at larger sizes.

While I fully agree with Marco that one should definitely not buy a DSLR if you have no intention of using anything other than the bundled kit lens, I have to disagree with the blanket statement that kit lenses “produce blurry, distorted, drab images”. Not all kit lenses are as bad as he described. Not to start another Nikon vs. Canon war, but from what I’ve heard from their respective users, Canon’s kit lenses are indeed unspectacular. Whether they really produce blurry and distorted images I can’t really comment as I’ve not used them myself.

Continue reading Kit Lenses Aren’t All That Bad

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