Sony Releases the a7R III With 42MP, 10fps, 15-stop DR, 5.5-stop IS and 4K Video

Sony a7R III with FE 24-70mm f/2.8

Sony has pulled all the stops with the release of the a7R III, an update to the highly successful and highly-acclaimed a7R II. It probably has everything you could ask for—a resolution of 42MP, 15-stop Dynamic Rage (DR) and shoots at up to 10fps with full AE/AF tracking. This is twice as fast as the 5fps offered by the a7R II Additionally, the in-body image stabilisation provides 5.5 stops of stabilisation—the world’s highest for a full-frame camera. The buffer is able to store up to 76 JPEG/RAW photos and 28 uncompressed RAW files, and the updated BIONZ X processing engine is able to process them at 1.8 times faster than the a7R II. This means that you can still use many of the camera’s key features while a batch of photos are still being written to the memory card.

The a7R II features a ISO range of 100-32,000, expandable to 50-10,2400, and at the low ISOs, the camera is able to achieve an extremely high dynamic range of 15-stops. There’s also a Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, similar to what Olympus have on their OM-D E-M5 II, which captures 4 separate photos shifted by 1 pixel to produce a 169.2MP image.

The AF system has been substantially improved, with 399 phase-detection AF points spanning 68% of the image area, in addition to 425 contrast-detect AF points. With this improvement, the a7R III can lock focus twice as fast as the a7R II in low light. Eye AF is also twice as accurate as the a7R II.

At the back of the a7R III is a 3.686M dot OLE EVF with coatings that reduce reflections, and dirt resistance. The refresh rate can be toggled between 60 and 120fps. Below the EVF is a 1.44M dot tilting LCD screen.

Sony a7R III back

On the video side of things, the a7R III can record 4K video using the full width of the sensor, and also shoot in super 35mm without pixel binning. There’s Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), S-Log2, S-Log3 and full HD recording at 120fps at up to 100Mbps.

The Sony a7R III will be available from November at US$3,200.


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Canon Unveils the EOS 6D Mark II Full-frame DSLR for Enthusiasts

Canon EOS 6D Mark II with EF24-105mmF4L II

As rumoured for weeks, Canon has finally announced the EOS 6D Mark II, an update to the popular EOS 6D released some time ago. Powering the new camera is a 26.2MP full-frame CMS sensor, a slight increase over the 20MP one used in the Mark 1. Image processing duties are performed by a DIGIC 7, which is capable of an ISO range of between 100 to 40,000 (25,600 in the Mark 1.) High-speed continuous shooting speed has also been increased to 6.5fps, compared to 4.5fps on the Mark 1.

The AF system features 45 cross-type AF points, a significant improvement over the Mark 1 where it only has 11 AF points, with only the centre point being a cross-type. The sensor also has Dual Pixel CMOS AF which provides phase detect AF during full HD video recording. Sadly, there is no 4K video recording on this camera, which is quite a bummer.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II with LCD flipped open.

A 3″ fully articulated LCD screen graces the rear of the camera, a first of its kind on a full-frame DSLR. It also has dust and water resistance, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity as well as GPS.

Canon EOS 6D Mark II Rear View

The EOS 6D Mark II will be available from late July 2017 at US$1,999 for the body alone. You can also get it paried with a 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 STM for US$2,599 or with the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS for US$3,099.

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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 Releases the RX1R II—High-end 42MP Full-frame Compact With World’s First Optical Variable Low Pass Filter

Sony RX1R II
Sony RX1R II

Sony has released a Mark II version of the RX1R, a high-end full-frame compact camera released 2 years ago.

This new edition features what Sony’s claim to be the world’s first camera with a optical variable low-pass filter which can be set to off, standard or high. This lets you choose between having a very sharp image, with the increased risk of moiré, or having slightly reduced sharpness with better moiré control. You can even bracket your shots with the optical low-pass filter in different settings!

Here’s a video describing how it works.

The sensor is now 42MP,  compared to the 24MP from the first RX1R, with an ISO range of between 100-25,600, expandable to 50-102,400. It has also been improved to transmit data 3.5x faster than the original RX1R.

The lens is a fixed 35mm f/2 Zeiss Sonnar T*, featuring a macro shift ring for close focussing up to 14cm. A 9-blade aperture ensures a smooth bokeh while the in-lens shutter allows you to sync with your flash at up to 1/2,000s.

Sony has also implemented the pop-up EVF first seen on the RX100 III, but with an increased resolution of 2.4M dots. A 3″ swivelling LCD with 1.2M dots adorns the back of the camera. It can be tilted up 109 and down 41º.

Sony RX1R II Rear LCD
Sony RX1R II Rear LCD

For the AF side of things, the RX1R II has a 399 phase-detect AF points covering 45% of the frame, alongside 25 CDAF points. Sony claims that this is 30% faster than the original (which was rather slow.)

Unfortunately, all these goodness does not come cheap. Like the original RX1R, this is a premium, high-end product. At a cost of US$3,300, it costs more than the A7RII. Granted, the latter doesn’t come with a lens, but US$3,300 is still fairly expensive for a compact camera, though no more than that German brand. It’ll be available from November 2015.

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Leica Launches the Leica Q 24-megapixel Full-Frame Fixed Lens Compact Camera With a 28mm f/1.7 Lens

Leica Q
Leica Q

While we are all getting excited over Sony’s new camera releases today, that German luxury camera maker has also released a new camera! It’s the all-new Leica Q (Typ 116) (CK: What’s with all these funky numbers?), a full-frame fixed-lens compact camera with a 27mm Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens.

The camera features a top plate machined from solid blocks of aluminium, a body made of magnesium alloy, and laser-engraved lettering and marketings seen on other Leica cameras.

The Leica Q incorporates a 24-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor capable of ISO up to 50,000. with a burst mode of up to 10fps. Leica claimed that it has the fastest AF among full-frame compacts, something that I am rather skeptical about. Many camera makers have also claimed to have the fastest AF, but are disclaimed with specific conditions in which that is achieved. And with the only other notable full-frame compact being Sony’s RX1 series which have ridiculously slow AF, “fastest AF” isn’t hard to achieve.

Moving ahead with the times, the Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens in front of the camera features image stabilisation. Leica claims that it’s the fastest among the full-frame compacts, since Sony’s RX1’s 35mm Carl Zeiss is only f/2.

The touch-screen LCD offers a resolution of 1 megapixel and lets you focus by tapping an area in the frame. You can also manual focus using a physical ring on the lens like any other camera. A switch lets you toggle between MF and AF.

The 3.6-megapixel electronic viewfinder has a digital frame selector function which display frame lines for 28, 35 and 50mm, allowing you to shoot at 28, 35 or 50mm while having a 28mm field of view, just like a rangefinder camera. In essence, it’s basically cropping the full-frame image, but you have the ability to store the full-frame DNG image.

Leica has put up some sample images of the Leica Q, so if you are interested, you can head over to their web site and take a look. If that piqued your interest and you want one, you can get it for just US$4,250 and comes with a free copy of Adobe Lightroom 6.

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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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