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February 1st, 2016

Canon’s 1D X Mark II vs. Nikon’s D5

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With Canon’s launch of the 1D X Mark II and Nikon’s announcement of the D5, we now have the official specs for two of the industry’s most anticipated flagship full frame DSLRs. While we haven’t had a chance to test them yet, here’s how they compare on paper across some of the key metrics:

Image Sensor

Nikon D5: 20-megapixel CMOS

Canon 1D X Mark II20-megapixel CMOS

ISO

D5: 100-102,400 (native); ISO 3,280,000 expandable

1D X Mark II: 100-51,200 (native); ISO 409,600 expandable

Continuous Shooting

D5: 12 fps with AF; up to 200 RAW and/or JPEG frames using XQD cards; up to 14 fps in live view

1D X Mark II: 14 fps with AF; no limit on JPEGs, 170 RAW files to CFast; up to 16 fps in live view to CFast card

Autofocus

D5: 153 points with 99 cross points and 15 points supported to f/8

1D X Mark II: 61 points with 41 cross type, all points supported to f/8

Low Light Focusing

D5: -4 EV

1D X Mark II: -3 EV

Video Recording

D5: 3840 x 2160 @ 30p internal; Full HD @ 60p

1D X Mark II: 4096 x 2160 @ 60p internal; Full HD @ 120p

Connectivity

D5: USB 3

1D-X Mark II: Built-in GPS, USB 3

Memory:

D5: One body version sells with two CF slots; another with faster XQD

1D X Mark II: One CFast and one CompactFlash card slot.

Weight:

D5: 50 oz.

1D X Mark II: 54 oz.

Price:

D5: $6,500

1D X Mark II: $5,999

January 14th, 2016

How Nikon Plans to Make Transferring Images to Your Phone Easier Than Ever

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While the D5 and D500 understandably took top billing, Nikon made another announcement at CES that’s worth highlighting.

That news is an update to the company’s SnapBridge wireless image transfer technology.

The new SnapBridge takes advantage of Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless technology designed to maximize power consumption for tiny connected devices (the so-called “Internet of Things”). With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), both your smartphone and your Nikon camera will stay connected, allowing image transfers from camera-to-phone to occur automatically and in real time.

Unlike the original SnapBridge, a user won’t have to manually initiate an image transfer to a mobile device–those will now happen as you shoot. You won’t lose Internet access on your mobile device while you shoot, either, so you can post images to social media as they populate your camera roll. Basically, BLE keeps the connection between camera and smartphone live and when it’s time to actually start transferring data, the connection switches to standard Bluetooth for better bandwidth, then back to BLE when you’re done.

You’ll only need to configure you camera and mobile device once, then it will be automatically recognized after that. You can pair up to five devices to a single camera.

To take advantage of the new SnapBridge, you’ll need to have the free SnapBridge app (iOS and Android) on your phone. The application allows you to key in image info (copyright, text and logos) as well remotely view your scene and activate your camera’s shutter.

By default, SnapBridge sends images as 2-megapixel JPEGs to your device, but you can also opt to wirelessly send full-sized JPEGs to your phone/tablet as well. It also takes time and location data from your mobile device and syncs it to the camera, so your camera settings are always aligned with the local time zone.

Nikon said that the updated SnapBridge technology will be rolled out to “almost every” Nikon camera in 2016, starting with the D500.

Get all the photo and filmmaking news from CES 2016.

 

January 5th, 2016

Nikon Unveils D5, D500 and New 4K 360-Degree VR Camera

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Following a brief internet tease, Nikon revealed the much sought-after specs for its newest flagship full frame DSLR, the D5. The camera checks off a lot of boxes including super-high ISO, 4K video recording and a burst mode of 12 fps with tracking AF engaged.

The company also pulled back the curtain on its new flagship crop sensor camera, the D500, and marked its entry into the action camera market with a new 360-degree camera.

But first, the big gun.

Here are the D5’s highlights:

    • The camera features a newly developed 20-megapixel CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 100-102,400 with extended settings for ISO 50-3,280,000 (not a typo!).
    • EXPEED 5 Image processor
    •  4K videos recording (3840x2160p30) with clean HDMI out
    • 153 AF points, including 99-point cross sensor and 15 points functional at f/8 plus a new AF processor
    • Continuous shooting at 12 fps with AF tracking up to 200 frames when shooting 15-bit lossless RAW
    • focusing down to -4 EV illumination
    • a 3.2-inch, 2.36 million dot touchscreen display
    • dual memory card slots
    • 100 field of view through the viewfinder with a magnification of .72 times
    • USB 3.0 connection
    • Battery EN-EL18a

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The D5 will be sold in a body with two XQD card slots or a model with two CF card slots. Both models are due in March for a body-only price of $6,500. Nikon says the XQD cards will deliver image transfer speeds 35 percent faster than CF cards. (More images of the D5 are below.)

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Nikon also debuted a new flagship DX (crop sensor) camera in the D500. The highlights:

  • a  20.9-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor with a native  ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable to 50-1,640,000
  • 10 fps burst shooting (up to 79 shots in 14-bit uncompressed RAW) with AF and AE engaged
  • Same AF system as the D5 with a 153-point AF array that fills the frame from side to side
  • A 3.2-inch touch screen display
  • A dual memory card slot for SD cards and XQD cards
  • Updated SnapBridge technology for easier wirelessly photo transfers via Bluetooth.
  • 4K recording at 3840x2160p30

It will ship in March with a body-only price of $2,000.

 

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There were fewer details on Nikon’s entry into the 4K camera market. The company plans to call the lineup KeyMission with the first camera, the KeyMission 360. It will offer a pair of image sensors/lenses on either side of the device to capture and stitch a single 360-degree still or 4K video. It will be waterproof to a depth of 100 feet and shock resistant. Electronic VR will keep things steady.

Nikon will have more details closer to the spring, when the camera is set to launch.


nikon_18-55_af-p-550x316Nikon also added a pair of DX format 3.1x zoom lenses, the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G.

According to Nikon, these are the first “AF-P” lenses for Nikon digital SLR cameras, which incorporate stepping motors to drive autofocusing. They offer retractable lens barrels and two aspherical lens elements. The AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR also features vibration reduction good for a CIPA-rated 4 stops of compensation.

The lenses accept 55m filters. Prices weren’t announced.

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Finally, Nikon released a new speedlight, the SB-5,000. It’s the first Nikon model that operates via radio frequency without requiring a direct line-of-sight. It will have a range of 98 feet.  When paired with the WR-R10 and the D5 or the D500, this speedlight can control up to six groups / 18 speedlights. The flash will offer a programmable “i” button for access to frequently used settings.

It will ship in March for $600.

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December 28th, 2015

Photo Gear Repair Rates: LensRentals Crunched the Numbers

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LensRentals has released a comprehensive overview photo gear repair rates after 24 months in the field. PDN has the exclusive details.

First, a quick primer on how LensRental generated their numbers. The company bases its results on “repair events”—or an instance of when a piece of equipment is sent to the repair department. According to LensRental, just because a camera body or lens is sent to the repair shop doesn’t necessarily mean it’s busted.

“When a customer reports an issue with a piece of equipment, it is always sent to the repair department for a thorough check,” the company tells us. “It could simply be a case of user error, or the customer’s equipment that is actually in need of repair.” Other cases of repair are simple cleanings like dust removal, even dust removal for cosmetic reasons. So you shouldn’t automatically associate a high level of repair events with defective construction.

The LensRental data was derived from relative repair percentages and average rentals and rental days for each item in a given category. They then developed a curve that best matched each data set, the company tells us. “What we found for each group is that a linear curve fit best. In other words, our data found that a lens has the same likelihood of failing on its 40th rental as it does on its [first] rental. We used the equations to generate predicted repair rates, based on the average rentals and rental days for each item. We generated a ‘Repair Score’ by dividing the predicted rate of repair by the actual rate of repair.”

A Repair Score greater than 1.0 indicates an item with an actual repair rate that is lower than the predicted repair rate, and a score below 1.0 indicates a repair rate that’s higher than predicted.

It’s important to point out the LensRental data may not be indicative of typical use. As the company tells us, “even an item with a poor score in our data is not necessarily likely to fail in the hands of a typical consumer.” For one thing, the data doesn’t account for directly for item weight or internal complexity. Lens data also doesn’t take into account image quality. For instance, tack sharp lenses are often adjusted if there’s a slight softening at an edge whereas a lens that’s less sharp to start with may not get flagged for as many optical adjustments. In this way, sharp lenses may end up being repaired more than average to keep them at the top of their game.

So here are the repair scores across several categories, keeping in mind that higher scores indicate lower-than-predicted rates of repair:

Camera Bodies
DSLR: 1.14
Mirrorless: .79

DSLR Brands
Canon 1.1
Nikon: .95
Sony .8

Mirrorless Camera Brands
Fuji 1.28
Sony 1
Olympus .97
Panasonic .92
Leica .92

DSLR Zoom Lenses
Canon 1.18
Tokina 1.11
Nikon 1.12
Average 1.11
Sony 0.95
Sigma 0.90
Tamron 0.71

DSLR Prime Lenses
Zeiss 1.20
Canon 1.08
Average 1.01
Sigma 0.90
Nikon 0.85
Sony 0.83
Pentax 0.59
Rokinon 0.53

Mirrorless Primes
Panasonic 1.57
Sony 1.26
Olympus 1.14
Voigtlander 0.99
Average 0.95
Zeiss 0.93
Fuji 0.77
Leica 0.69

Mirrorless Zoom
Olympus 1.25
Sony 1.06
Panasonic 1.05
Average 1.04
Fuji 0.92

Zoom Types
Wide Angle 1.31
Normal 1.09
Telephoto 1.07
Supertele 0.68

See Also:

10 Things We Learned About Cameras and Lens from LensRentals

The Best Advanced Compact Cameras You Can Buy Today

Our Favorite Photo Gear of the Year

November 18th, 2015

Nikon Says a D5 Is Under Development

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At some unspecified time, this will no longer be Nikon’s flagship DSLR.

Anyone speculating that Nikon would follow up its D4S with a D5 can bask in vindication. Nikon announced that it is indeed developing a new full frame flagship DSLR to be named the D5.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all they said about it.

Nikon also revealed that a new wireless transmitter (the WT-6) and new speedlight (SB-5000) will also be joining the ranks, though again, no other information about them was disclosed.

In the absence of concrete information, feel free to speculate wildly as to what the D5 will deliver. Given the role the D4S plays for many professionals, we’re undoubtedly going to see a camera that delivers rapid burst modes, speedy autofocus and much, much more.

March 2nd, 2015

The New Gear from WPPI 2015

 

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The WPPI Show kicked off this week in Las Vegas with a few new products. You can follow all the gear news from WPPI here. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Nikon D7200

An update to the company’s D7100, the APS-C (DX format) camera boasts a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor with no optical low pass filter. It will offer a more generous buffer and faster processing than its predecessor, enabling the D7200 to shoot at 6 frames per second for up to 18 14-bit RAW files (up from the D7100′s six), 27 12-bit RAW images or 100 JPEGs. Drop the camera into 1.3x crop mode and you can bump continuous shooting up to 7 fps.

You’ll enjoy a native ISO range of 100 to 25,600 with an option to expand beyond this range to 51,200 and 102,400 when shooting in black-and-white.

The D7200 also sports a 51-point autofocus system that uses Nikon’s new Advanced Multi-CAM 3500II DX high-density system to keep your subjects in focus. There are 15 cross-type sensors to pin down moving subjects, with a center point that works down to f/8. Shutter speeds range from 1/8,000 sec. to 30 sec. with a bulb mode available for longer exposures. The shutter is rated for up to 150,000 cycles.

In a first for Nikon, the D7200 has both Wi-Fi and NFC so you can quickly pair the camera with mobile devices to share images and remotely control the camera.

Nikon’s Picture Control settings are now available in live view mode and can now be previewed in real-time on the camera’s 3.2-inch display. There are a pair of SD card slots and you’ll enjoy 1,110 shots per charge from the camera’s battery, according to CIPA standards.

On the video front, the D7200 records 1080p video at up to 30 fps or up to 60 fps when in 1.3x crop mode. You’ll have Auto ISO sensitivity in manual mode for the first time to control exposure transitions without altering shutter speed or aperture. There are also zebra stripes to alert you to over-exposed highlights during video recording.

The D7200 ships in April and is available for pre-order now for $1,200 (body) or $1,700 (with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens). (more…)

February 10th, 2015

Nikon D810A Captures the Heavens in a New Light

D810A_14_24_front34r.lowNikon will release a special version of its D810 DSLR, the D810A, that has been modified for astro-photography applications.

The D810A incorporates a modified infrared cut filter that lets the camera capture the red hydrogen alpha gas emissions from stars and nebulae. According to Nikon, the camera is four times as sensitive to light on the 656 nanometer wavelength, enabling it to capture celestial details that would otherwise be missed by conventional digital cameras.

The D810A will also feature a new long exposure manual mode that will deliver exposures as long as 15 minutes. For exposures longer than 30 seconds in live view mode, the camera also offers a Virtual Exposure Preview Mode, which generates a preview of the image on the camera’s display.

To enjoy the full benefits of the D810A, the camera will need to be mounted to a telescope and Nikon cautions that the camera is not recommended for Earth-bound subjects. The D810A is due in May though a price has not been finalized.

In other Nikon DSLR news, the company will release a “filmmaker’s kit” for its D750 DSLR. The kit will combine the camera body, the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G lens and the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens. You’ll also find two additional EN-EL15 batteries, an ME-1 Stereo Microphone, one Atomos Ninja-2 External Recorder, and Tiffen 67mm and 58mm Variable Neutral Density Filters (8-Stops). 

The filmmaker’s kit ships at the end of this month for $4,000.

 

January 5th, 2015

Nikon Adds D5500 DSLR, Telephoto Lens at CES

D5500_BK_55_200_frttopAfter a year spent filling out its advanced full-frame DSLR lineup, Nikon came to CES 2015 ready to entice advanced amateurs with the new D5500.

The camera sports a 24.2-megapixel DX format (APS-C-sized) sensor with no optical low pass filter and a native ISO range of 100 to 25600. It was built using the same monocoque design approach responsible for the D750’s relatively light-but-tough build.

It’s capable of burst speeds up to 5 frames per second in JPEG and RAW and sports a 3.2-inch, vari-angle touch screen display. Video can be recorded at 1920×1080 at up to 60 fps and Nikon has carried over the flat picture control setting, stereo microphone and audio inputs from the D750.

The D5500’s autofocus system features 39 points with nine cross-type sensors.

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Rounding out the feature set is Wi-Fi and a battery rated for 820 shots by CIPA.

The D5500 will sell body-only for $900 beginning in February. Throw in an 18-55mm kit lens and you’ll pay $1,000. Nikon will also sell a kit that bundles an 18-140mm lens for $1,200.

Joining the D5500 will be a new 3.6x zoom lens. The AF-S DX 50-200mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR II ($350, February) offers three stops of Vibration Reduction and a silent wave motor.

Nikon will also replace its 300mm f/4 lens in February with the new AF-S Nikkor 300mm F/4 E PF ED VR lens. It uses a phase fresnel design that helps to shed a full pound and a half of weight and 30 percent of size vs. the earlier generation lens. It has an electro-magnetically controlled diaphragm which delivers more consistently when shooting at faster frame rates, Nikon said.

The lens’ Vibration Reduction technology offers up to 4.5 stops of correction with a sports mode and tripod detection.

The telephoto lens will retail for $2,000.

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September 12th, 2014

Nikon’s New D750 Brings Several Firsts to the FX Line

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Nikon rolled out the pre-Photokina red carpet for its newest full frame digital SLR: the D750.

Situated between the D610 and D810, the D750 will have several firsts for Nikon’s full frame lineup including a new 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi capability, a vari-angle LCD and a new build that makes it the thinnest DSLR in the company’s lineup.

According to Nikon, the slender build is due to its monocoque design. The body features magnesium alloy parts integrated with carbon fiber in the front and grip assembly to make a light yet weather-resistant package. The vari-angle LCD screen will be 3.2-inches in size and feature 1,229K dots for high-resolution viewing.

The D750 features a native ISO range of 100-12800 and can extend as high as 51200 or to a low of 50. It uses the same EXPEED 4 processing engine found on the D810 as well as its 91,000 pixel 3D Color Matrix Matrix III metering sensor. There’s also a highlight weighted metering option for shooting spot-lit details against black backgrounds. D750_24_120_top_2

The AF system features 51 points including 15 cross type sensors, 11 of which are compatible with teleconverter lenses shooting at f/8 or faster. The camera’s Advanced Multi-Cam 3500-FX II AF system can track objects in continuous shooting mode at the camera’s maximum burst speed of 6.5fps in either RAW or JPEG. A first for any Nikon DSLR, the D750 can lock focus on subjects in as little as -3 EV illumination.

It features a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000, shy of the D810’s 1/8000 and it’s rated for 150,000 cycles.

Nikon also added a new clarity parameter to its picture controls to adjust mid tone contrast. Like the D810, there’s also a flat picture control to deliver more dynamic range during video shoots (ideal for color grading in post-processing). All the picture controls are adjustable in .25 increments.

As noted above, the D750 is Nikon’s first FX-series camera to offer built-in Wi-Fi. Using the company’s Wireless Mobile Utility App you can  transfer images to smartphones or use mobile devices as real-time viewfinders and/or remote triggers. With the UT1 communications unit and the WT-5a wireless transceiver, you can enable wireless FTP transfers or trigger and operate the camera in HTTP mode through a web browser (where you’ll see a real-time live view preview as well as have the ability to start and stop recording).

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Video Features

When it comes to video, the D750 borrows heavily from the D810’s feature set. It offers 1920 x 1080 HD video recording with a choice of 60, 30 or 24fps with full manual control over exposure settings. The Power Aperture function gives shooters the ability to seamlessly and steplessly open and close the aperture during recording, another goodie derived from the D810.

Video is recorded to the D750’s two SD card slots and can also be simultaneously output to external recorders and monitors via HDMI.

On the audio front, there’s a built-in stereo mic, external mic input, and a headphone jack for audio monitoring.

The D750 will ship this month for $2,295, body only. A kit including the 24-120mm lens will ship in October, though pricing wasn’t announced.

More Gear

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In addition to the the D750, Nikon added  the AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED wide angle full frame lens to its lineup. It’s the company’s first wide angle lens with an f/1.8 aperture. It features a seven blade diaphragm, two ED elements, two aspheric elements and a 77mm filter size. It will ship in September for $799.

Finally, there will also be a new speed light in the Nikon lineup. The SB-500 has a guide number of 24 at ISO 100 and covers a 16mm angle for full frame cameras (24mm for DX sensors) with a head that swivels vertically at a 90 degree angle and rotates at 180 degrees. It incorporates a 100lux LED for video lighting and accepts a pair of AA batteries. It will also ship in September for $249 with a small stand so you can mount it to a tripod or on a table top for off-camera use.

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June 26th, 2014

Nikon Unveils 36.3MP, Full-Frame D810 Pro DSLR with No Optical Low Pass Filter (Hands-on Preview)

Nikon-D810-(front)-webNikon took the wraps off its latest professional digital SLR this morning: the 36.3MP, full-frame D810, which uses no optical low pass filter (OLPF) in an effort to optimize resolution and increase sharpness and dynamic range.

We got some hands-on time with an early version of the Nikon D810, which is designed to replace both the D800 and D800E models from 2012.

The 35mm-sized, CMOS chip in the Nikon D810 has the same resolution as the sensors in the D800/E models, but a Nikon representative we spoke with during our hands-on time with the camera said it has been “newly designed.”

He stopped short, however, of calling it a brand new chip.

The Nikon D810 will go on sale in late July for $3,299.95 (body only), which is about $300 more than the D800 debuted at in 2012, but the same price as the D800E. The first two images of the D810 in this story were shot during our hands-on time with camera; the rest were provided by Nikon.

Read more of this story about the Nikon D810 and see more images here.