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September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Flash Memory Gets Faster

lexar_2000x_sdxc-300x400Between 4K video recording and increasing camera resolutions, the demands on flash memory cards continue to grow. At Photokina, a pair of key flash memory vendors rolled out their highest performance products to date.

Lexar’s new 2000x UHS-II SDXC cards will be capable of 300MBps read transfer speeds and write speeds up to 260MBps. Lexar claims they’ll be the fastest such cards on the market to date.

The cards will be bundled with an SD UHS-II card reader (the SR2) to support fast transfers to PCs via USB 3.0. You’ll have a choice of 32 or 64GB capacities for  $106 and $185, respectively.

If you’re willing to trade off some speed for price, the 1000x series of UHS-II SD cards offer read speeds of 150MBs and write speeds up to 95MBps. Capacities will range from 16GB to 256GB with prices between $32 and $547. No card reader will be bundled with these cards but Lexar will sell the SR2 as a standalone product for $30.

All of Lexar’s new products will be available in the fourth quarter.

SanDisk notched its own speed record at Photokina with the launch of its 64GB Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-I card. It boasts transfer speeds up to 95MB/s and is aimed at devices like Sony’s Xperia Z3 or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 that are adding 4K video recording to their list of features.

The 64GB card is available now for $300.

 

 

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Zeiss Offers New Leica M Lens

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Fast on the heels of Leica’s slew of camera unveilings, Zeiss has introduced a new prime lens for Leica M rangefinder cameras at Photokina 2014.

The Distagon T* f1/.4 35 ZM offers a 35mm focal length promising to perfectly match the view from the M’s optical viewfinder. The lens uses Zeiss’ T* coating to reduce flare and features 10 aperture blades.

The aperture can be adjusted in 1/3 increments via a ring on the lens. There’s also a focus ring on the lens’ all-metal barrel.

Zeiss says the lens will be due out before the end of the year for $2,290.

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Hasselblad Adds Wi-Fi to H5D-50c

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Hasselblad will bring a Wi-Fi-equipped version of its H5D-50c medium format camera to market later this month, the company announced at Photokina.

Building off the existing 50c, the new  model uses Wi-Fi to enable remote control and viewfinding through iOS devices.

There will be a few more enhancements to the 50c beyond Wi-Fi including a live view mode when the camera is untethered, an increased capture rate of 50 images per minute and longer exposure times of up to 34 minutes.

The updated 50c will also now accept film magazines and features a spirit level which can be used in tethered mode. ISO and white balance will now be displayed in the viewfinder as well.

Current 50c owners will be gain access to all the new features except Wi-Fi via a firmware upgrade later this month.

The Wi-Fi version of the H5D-50c will command a $1,000 premium over the standard 50c ($27,500, body only) .

H5D-50c owners who want Wi-Fi will be able to upgrade their current camera for the Wi-Fi version for about $650 between January and March 2015, at least in Europe.

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Leica Reveals 4K-Recording Medium Format Camera

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The newest member of the Leica S-series of medium format cameras, introduced at Photokina 2014, has a fairly novel trick: it can record 4K video.

The Leica S 007 won’t arrive until the spring of 2015, but when it does it will carry a new 37.5-megapixel Leica CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor  capable of delivering 3.5 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting with a 2GB buffer, full HD video recording using the full sensor area and 4K video capture as well. HD video will be recorded at 30, 25 or 24fps while 4K video will use a Super 35mm crop of the lens and be delivered at 24fps. Uncompressed video can be output to an external recorder via HDMI with 4:2:2 color sampling.

The camera will also feature predictive autofocus, a 3-inch LCD, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi for using mobile devices as remote controls and viewfinders.

The 007 will offer shutter speeds as high as 1/4000 sec. with flash sync available up to 1/1000 sec. It will offer 13 stops of dynamic range, 16-bit color depth and an ISO range of 100 to 6400. Images and video are saved to either CF or SD cards.

Leica won’t deliver the 007 until 2015 and it’s expected to cost $25,400 for the camera body.

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There will also be an entry-level Leica medium format camera: the S-E 006. It will employ a 37.5-megapixel CCD sensor with microlenses to evenly distribute light across the entire surface area of the sensor for improved clarity.

The S-E won’t be as fast as the 007, its continuous shooting mode clocks in at 1.5fps with a 2GB buffer capable of collecting 32 RAW files (DNG) or unlimited JPEGs. It will offer 12 stops of dynamic range and an ISO range of 100 to 1600. You’ll find a 3-inch LCD display and an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder and dual card slots for CF and SD memory cards. It will retail for $16,900.

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Leica X

Switching to advanced compacts, Leica’s new X (Typ 113) sports a 16.2-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor and a 23mm f/1.7 prime lens (35mm equivalent).

The X can record full HD video at 30fps and offers ISO sensitivities to 12500. It features a 3-inch (920k pixel) LCD display with 100 percent field of view and a hot shoe that will enable the use of optional viewfinders. It offers continuous shooting at 5fps for up to seven frames.

The X will be available this month for $2,295.

Also joining the Leica X family is the more budget-minded X-E. It will offer the same sensor as the X Typ 113 but a slightly slower 24mm f/2.8 prime lens. Also downsized is the LCD display: it’s 2.7-inches. The X-E will offer continuous shooting at 5fps and will arrive in stores this month for $1,795.

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Lux

Geared for sports and wildlife photographers, the new Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)  sports a 9.1-146mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens (25-400mm equivalent) with optical image stabilization and a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor. It will offer 4K video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, a 2.4-megapixel OLED viewfinder and a 3-inch tiltable LCD.

The V-Lux will be speedy too, capable of continuous shooting at 12fps. Pricing and availability weren’t announced.

The other new member of the Lux family, the D-Lux (Typ 109), will also offer 4K video recording using a 12-megapixel Four Thirds-sized sensor. 4K video is recorded at 30 and 24fps and HD video recording is also available.

The D-Lux will feature a 10.9-34mm f/1.7-2.8 ASPH lens (24-75mm equivalent). ISO sensitivities will reach 25600 and it will offer both Wi-Fi and NFC for wireless remote and viewfinder functions on mobile devices.

It sports a metal housing, a high-resolution, 2.8-megapixel viewfinder and a 3-inch LCD. It won’t offer a pop-up flash but Leica will bundle one in the box. It ships in November for $1,195.

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Leica M-P (Typ 240)

Rangefinder fans rejoice. Leica has updated its rangefinder camera in the M-P (Typ 240). Similar to the Leica M, the M-P features a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor and an expanded buffer of 2GB for continuous shooting at 3fps.

The M-P will feature a native ISO range of 200 to 6400 with the option to decrease to 100. The camera supports HD video recording at 25 and 24fps.

Its 3-inch sapphire glass LCD display is “almost unbreakable” Leica claims. Designed to be discrete, Leica swapped out their iconic red dot logo in favor a small “Leica” engraving to denote brand.

Other new features include a frame selection lever which projects six different focal lengths into the viewfinder. Pricing and availability were not announced.

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60th Anniversary Edition Leica M

The Leica M rangefinder system turns 60 this year and to celebrate, Leica is releasing an anniversary edition of the camera that fuses their M-P digital camera with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Audi Design gets credit for the exterior styling and Leica said that the bare-bones specs will put the focus on the skill of the photographer (there is, for instance, no LCD display and all images are saved as RAW DNG files).

There will only be 600 of these Anniversary Edition models on the market (engraved, of course, so you know yours is special) and they’ll be available next month for about $20,000.

 

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New Rangefinder Camera: the M-A

The flashbacks continue. Leica also introduced a new 35mm film rangefinder camera at Photokina: the M-A. It’s compatible with M-mount lenses and features a completely mechanical operation that lets you make adjustments to shutter speed (up to 1/1000 sec.) aperture and film speed.

It will ship in October for $4,500.

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New Lenses 

Beyond the new cameras, Leica introduced several new lenses at the show. The Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, a silver edition version of the 50mm lens already on the market. It ships in October for $11,350. A silver version of the 35mm Summilux-M lens ($5,450) will also be available at the end of October.

There are two new lenses for the T-series: the APO Vario-Elmar 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5 ($1,950) and the Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH ($1,950).

Lenses in the company’s M-series have also gotten a facelift: they’ll be available in black or an anodized silver finish and will now offer maximum apertures of f/2.4. Focal lengths will remain the same at 35, 50, 75 and 90mm.

September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Sony Debuts New E-Mount Wide-Angle Lens

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Amidst new cameras from many of its competitors, Sony came to Photokina 2014 touting new glass and several new accessories for its full frame E-mount camera system.

On the lens front, the Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 lens will arrive in October for $1,350. It features five aspherical elements and three ED glass elements to keep color aberrations at bay while retaining corner-to-corner sharpness. The lens will offer Zeiss’ T* coating on its surface along with optical image stabilization. It’s dust and water resistant too.

Sony also announced a new compact flash unit, the HVL-F32M. With a guide number of 32, it features a 5-second recycle time and draws power from a pair of AA batteries. It supports TTL or manual operation in 1/3 EV steps, high speed sync and is dust and moisture resistant. It will ship in December for $299.

To boost filmmaking with the A7 series, Sony is launching the XLR-K2M XLR box adapter kit. It clips onto a hot-shoe and features an onboard shotgun microphone. It can be used on the A7 series but also the A99, RX10 and NEX-VG900 camcorder.  The audio kit ships in October for $600.

Finally, Sony launched the RMT-VP1K wireless remote kit for any Sony camera with a multi-terminal. The $70 accessory has three channels and a 360 degree IR receiver. It can control shutter releases as well as start/stop movie recording. Look for the wireless receiver in Novemeber.

September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Panasonic Intros Lumix LX100 and GM5 (Hands-on Preview)

 

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Panasonic pulled back the curtain on an advanced Lumix compact camera at Photokina 2014. The Lumix LX100 is the first point-and-shoot with a 1.33-inch Micro Four Thirds image sensor and borrows many features from Panasonic’s high-end head turner, the GH4, including 4K video recording at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second (fps).

Beyond 4K video recording, the LX100 looks to be fast too, with a burst mode of 11fps. It uses the same contrast AF sensor that’s found in the GH4 which, along with the company’s Depth from Defocus technology, gives the LX100 the ability to lock AF in .14 seconds and track AF during 5fps burst shooting. Native ISO ranges from 200-25,600 and can be pushed down to 100.

The LX100 sports a bright f/1.7 lens with a focal range of 24-75mm. According to Panasonic, the lens has been so precisely engineered that they guarantee the lens elements are centered to within 3 micro-meters. There’s a 3-inch tilting LCD and a 2,764-dot live viewfinder, plus Wi-Fi and NFC for wirelessly pairing with mobile devices. Panasonic’s arsenal of creative effects can now be applied to images when shooting in A/S/M mode as well.

4K Photo Mode

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the new camera is its 4K Photo Mode. The mode lets you isolate an 8-megapixel still image during 4K recording by hitting the function button. When set to 4K Photo Mode, the LX100 sets picture quality and brightness settings that are ideal for still images and users can choose the aspect ratio they want to record in (4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or 1:1). The images are saved as JPEGs with complete EXIF data for each file. The new mode can be used in conjunction with a 4K loop record function that saves the last five 2-minute video clips so you can let the camera roll as you wait for the perfect photo op without devouring all your memory card space.

Panasonic is pitching the feature to portrait photographers in particular as a means of finding the perfect pose for a squirming subject, using still frames plucked from video instead of burst mode to stay on top of the action.

4K Photo Mode will also be available on the GH4 thanks to a firmware upgrade that Panasonic will roll out in October. The new firmware will also give the GH4 the ability to shoot tethered via USB and allow for more control over ISO during video recording.

DSC_0275Back to the LX100. Using the larger sensor, Panasonic was able to implement its Multi Aspect Ratio technology which lets you use various crops of the sensor as you adjust aspect ratio. So while the LX100′s sensor is significantly larger than the 1-inch sensor found on advanced compact cameras from Sony and others, the effective area depends on the aspect ratio you choose and is, at its largest, about 1.5 times larger than a 1-inch sensor (which is still a nice size for a camera this svelte).

We had the opportunity to get a brief hands-on with the camera and were impressed above all with its depth of field capabilities. The combination of the f/1.7 lens (which has nine aperture blades too) with the large sensor produces a very shallow depth of field  for a compact camera. While we didn’t have a chance to dim the lights and crank the ISO, we suspect it will hold up very well in low light environments as well.

Speaking of light, Panasonic decided to skip the pop-up flash on the LX100 but will bundle an accessory flash with the camera. There’s an aperture ring on the lens but no mode dial (you can pop into iAuto using a dedicated button on top of the camera and choose from Panasonic’s effects via a dedicated filter button, also atop the body). The construction is magnesium alloy, giving this advanced compact some reassuring heft when you hold it. There are dials on the top of the camera for setting shutter speed and exposure compensation.

The LX100 ships in November for $899.

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The DMC-GM5

Panasonic also announced the Lumix DMC-GM5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera at Photokina.

The 16-megapixel GM5 sports a live viewfinder with 100 percent color reproduction and 100 percent field of view with a resolution of 1,166k dots.  A new Face/Eye Detection autofocus mode will debut on the GM5 and other AF modes, such as Pinpoint, Low Light and One-Shot, are also available for your focusing pleasure. Touch focus is available using the 3-inch touch screen display.

The GM5 can burst at up to 5.8fps with AF tracking engaged to an unlimited number of JPEGs or seven RAW image files. The maximum shutter speed is 1/16,000 and the ISO reaches 25600.

You won’t find 4K on the GM5 but it will deliver 1080/60p HD recording in either AVCHD progressive or MP4 formats with AF tracking available during movie recording. Manual exposure control is available during movie mode as well. Panasonic is rolling out a new “Snap Movie Mode” in the GM5 that lets you record short clips of between 2 and 8 seconds that can be stitched in camera with a number of creative effects and transitions to create longer video montages.

It will include Wi-Fi but no NFC. Like the LX100, the GM5 won’t feature a pop-up flash but Panasonic will bundle an accessory flash in the camera’s box.

Look for the GM5 in November for $899.

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New Lens

Panasonic also launched a new lens, the G 14m f/2.5 ASPH is a Micro Four Thirds lens with a 28mm equivalent fixed focal length.

Due in November, the lens uses a stepping motor for quiet autofocus and a seven bladed diaphragm. It will cost $399.

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September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Canon Fires Out the 7D Mark II, G7X and New Lenses

 

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Canon has introduced several new cameras at Photokina 2014, including the EOS 7D Mark II, as well as three new lenses.

The 7D Mark II brings several firsts to the EOS line largely focused, if you will, around the camera’s autofocus system. It will be the first to run dual DIGIC 6 processors with a 10 frames per second (fps) burst mode that has an expanded buffer of up to 31 RAW images or 1,900 JPEGs (the older 7D topped out at 130 JPEGs).  It employs a new 65 cross-type AF system for better low light focusing as well as an improved version of Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF that uses sensors on the CMOS display for phase detection autofocus, improving accuracy during video recording. More firsts for the EOS line include a bulb timer and intervalometer for time lapse and long exposure photography as well as distortion correction for EF and EF-S lenses.

The 20-megapixel 7D Mark II uses a newly developed APS-C-sized sensor with an ISO range of 100-16000 (expandable to 51600). It will feature a new AF Area Selection lever around the multi-controller on the back of the camera to toggle between the camera’s seven AF selection modes without taking your eye off the scene. The AI Servo AF III algorithm on the 7D  Mark II will be similar to the one found on the 1D-Xand will allow tracking parameters such as tracking sensitivity and AF auto point switching can be customized.

Canon also improved the scene detection sensor, giving it a 150,000 pixel RGB+IR metering sensor with 252 zones. Enhancements to the auto exposure were also incorporated to help the 7D Mark II photograph under flickering light sources like sodium vapor lamps.

New Video Tricks

The 7D Mark II incorporates several changes to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology  to improve video performance. First, the 7D Mark II will offer adjustable movie servo AF speeds in five stop adjustments as well as the ability to adjust AF tracking sensitivity on a sliding scale. The area of coverage is unchanged from the 7D at 80 percent of the frame.

You won’t find 4K recording on the 7D Mark II however. Canon stuck with 1080/60p. You can output an uncompressed HD signal via HDMI to an external recorder. On the audio front, there is a stereo mic jack and a headphone jack with a silent control feature for adjusting audio levels during recording.

Canon also said that overall focusing speed, face detection performance and low light performance with low contrast subjects has also been improved.

You’ll find a 3-inch display plus a viewfinder with 100 percent field of view that can overlay data such as an electronic level display or grid. Built-in GPS is also on hand for geotagging images.

The 7D Mark II’s magnesium alloy body offers four times the moisture and dust resistance of the original 7D.

You can pick up the 7D Mark II in November for $1,799 (body) or in a kit with the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens for $2,149.

HR_G7X_3Q_CLThe G7X

Canon also trotted out a new advanced compact camera. The Powershot G7X will offer a 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 6 processor. Canon tweaked the image processing algorithms for this compact to mimic the highlight and shadow detail rendering in its more advanced EOS line.

The G7X, which is situated just beneath Canon’s G1x Mark II, offers an ISO range of 125 to 12800, Wi-Fi for wireless image transfers and NFC. There’s also a 3-inch, 1-million dot touch screen LCD display which can be tilted out from the camera body.

For fast action, the G7X can burst at 6.5fps at full resolution and records 1920 x 1080 video at 60fps.

A control ring on the lens offers the ability to change exposure settings (shutter speed, aperture and ISO) and a manual focus ring can be turned even during AF. The lens itself offers a focal length of 24-100mm with an aperture range of f/1.8-2.8 and a curved diaphragm for creating bokeh.

The G7X ships in October for $699.

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New Glass

Last, but by no means least, Canon has three new lenses in the EF family.

First up is the new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM, which Canon is styling as a portable telephoto, weighing in at 4.6 pounds or about half the weight of the f/2.8 version of the lens. The lens will feature a new gapless dual-layered diffractive optical element to reduce flare around backlit subjects. There are aspherical and UD elements on hand to combat optical aberrations and the front and back of the lens are coated with flourine to repel dust.

The 400mm will offer optical image stabilization good for up to four shutter speed steps of correction. Image stabilization can be used in three modes: standard, panning and exposure only. There are four programmable buttons on the lens and the lens can be manually focused in AF mode.

The EF 400mm f/4 lens ships in November for $6,899.

HR_EFS24_28_STM_3Q_CLAlso due in November is the new EF- S 24mm f/2.8 STM, the slimmest and lightest EF-S lens ever to roll out of Canon’s factory. This pancake lens features a seven bladed aperture and an electromagnetic drive aperture mechanism for quieter adjustment during video shooting.  The EF-S 24mm will sell for $149.

Finally, Canon announced the EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, its first for the EF series to use a screw-type stepping motor for quiet AF during video filming.

It offers optical image stabilization good for up to four shutter speed steps of correction. The seven optical elements are arranged in a new grouping and use a new AF algorithm for faster focusing, Canon said. The 24-150mm features a seven bladed aperture, two aspheric elements and a UD lens element.

Look for the 24-105mm in December. It will retail for $599.

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September 15th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Samsung Reveals 4K-Recording NX1 (Hands-on Preview)

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Samsung is making a concerted push at hybrid still and video shooters with its new flagship, the NX1, introduced at Photokina 2014. It’s one of the first cameras capable of recording 4K in the new HEVC codec, which promises more efficient compression than its H.264 predecessor.

We had a little hands-on time with the unit ahead of its Photokina debut and we think it will definitely pique the interest of video and still photographers alike.

New Sensor

The NX1 is built around a 28-megapixel backside illuminated, APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor (23.5 x 15.7mm). It’s a sensor of Samsung’s own design and is the first of its size to feature backside illumination. While it offers roughly 8 million more pixels than the NX30, the photo diodes are the same size (a space-saving consequence of the BSI sensor). This endows the NX1 with better low light performance, up to ISO 51200 (from a native 100). The sensor construction was also changed from polysilicate to copper, which Samsung says makes it faster and more energy efficient.

Video
One of the highlights of the NX1 is its 4K and Ultra HD video capture. The NX1 will record compressed 4K (4096 x 2160) direct to an SD memory card at 24 frames per second (fps) and compressed Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) footage at 24 or 30fps. It employs the new, more efficient H.265 or HEVC codec, which is what enables the NX1 to store 4K video to a Class 10 SD card rather than rely on an external recorder. The HEVC codec is used on many new 2014 4K televisions as well, so the NX1′s video can be played directly from a memory card on a compatible TV without prior transcoding.

You can also record uncompressed footage to an external recorder via the NX1′s HDMI 1.4 output. The NX1 can also record 4K to a memory card and output 1080p footage to an external recorder. What it can’t do is simultaneously record 4K to a memory card and an external recorder. There are mic and headphone jacks as well for audio recording and monitoring.

If 4K isn’t your thing, the NX1 also supports 1920 x 1080 HD recording at 60, 50, 30, 25 and 24fps.

Autofocus IMGP3443
Another highlight of the NX1 is its new autofocus system. It employs 205 phase detection points, of which 153 are cross type sensors, for 90 percent frame coverage. This phase system is combined with 209 contrast AF sensors enabling the NX1 to track focus on moving objects even while bursting at the NX1’s rapid 15fps.

The phase detection AF will also come as a boon to videographers since the NX1 will be able to lock focus faster and smoother than a purely contrast AF system could.

From our brief dalliance with the NX1, it was immediately obvious that the camera is fast. We aimed it outdoors at cars streaming down a busy New York Street and it locked focus quickly and burst rapidly. Reviewing the results in camera and we were impressed with how crisp (and reckless) the cabs appeared.

Rounding out the new AF features is its patterned AF assist beam which stretches out up to an 15m to help establish focus in very low light.

The DRiM processor has also been supped up from the NX30’s 64-bit chip to the NX1’s 128-bit engine. In terms of performance, the processing power delivers in-camera RAW image processing that’s three times faster than the NX30, in addition to a host of ultra-specific new scene modes such as Auto Shot. In this mode, designed for shooting baseball games, you highlight the batter and the path you suspect the pitcher’s ball will travel. The camera scans the scene at 240fps for the ball and Samsung promises the NXi will be able to reliably capture the moment the bat makes contact with the ball and snap a photo.

The new processor also powers a new multi-shot HDR mode that snaps two images in rapid succession so that even if objects are in motion in the frame, it wouldn’t scuttle your HDR composition. There’s a standard three image HDR mode in the camera too.

The NX1 offers a new, dust and weather-resistant magnesium alloy build. It feels sturdy in the hand, something professional shooters will feel right at home with. Samsung added a top LCD display for camera settings, another feature pros should appreciate. The pronounced hand grip gives you a firm hold on the NX1′s body. There will also be a battery grip for the NX1 that provides an extra 500 shots worth of life.

New EVF
The NX1 is outfitted with a new electronic viewfinder that Samsung says has a 5-10ms recycle time that is “imperceptible” to the human eye. In our time with the camera, the scene flashing by on the viewfinder’s OLED panel appeared extremely crisp. The main LCD display on the camera flips out between 45 and 90 degrees and has a resolution of 1,036k dots.

Connectivity
For connectivity with mobile devices, or for wireless 4K streaming, the NX1 uses the fastest possible Wi-Fi (802.11ac). It also uses Bluetooth for Wi-Fi authentication with a mobile device and for pulling metadata, like GPS coordinates, into image files.

The NX1 will ship in the middle of October for $1,499 (body only). There will also be a “pro kit” bundle that includes a 16-50mm S lens, the battery grip and an extra battery and charger for $2,799.

New Lens

Joining the new camera is another S series lens: the 50-150mm f.2.8 lens (77-231mm equivalent). It will offer four axis image stabilization good for four stops of correction and a nine bladed circular diaphragm. New for the S series is a custom focusing range button that, once pressed, will let you set focusing parameters on the NX1. According to Samsung, the custom focus button will only work on other NX series cameras with a firmware update and no upgrade is scheduled as of this writing.

The lens will be dust and splash resistant and will set you back $1,599. Availability hasn’t been finalized.

 

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September 20th, 2012

Photokina 2012: Hands-on with the 37.5MP Leica S Medium-Format DSLR-style Camera

We were on hand earlier in the week in Cologne, Germany for the Leica event where the company unveiled the new Leica S but only got a few minutes to check out this DSLR-style medium format camera amidst the hordes of excited onlookers.

So we paid a visit to the Leica booth at photokina the next day and got some in-depth hands-on time with this camera, which is the follow up to the well-received Leica S2 from 2008.

While the new Leica S uses the same Kodak-built, 37.5MP, 45 x 30mm-size CCD sensor as the S2 and looks very similar to its predecessor, there are many internal and external tweaks to this latest top-of-the-line pro model from Leica.

What’s in a Name?
But first, a bit about the name. As with its latest full-frame digital rangefinder — the Leica M — the company is now going for a general nomenclature for its highest end models, with the idea that similarly named iterations will follow. The approach has been compared to Porsche with its 911 sports car series, which maintain the general 911 name through the years while being upgraded. (Leica, Porsche…you see where this camera is being marketed, right?)

It’s an interesting approach which, I suppose, is more classy than just adding numbers at the end of a model name but I wonder if it will be confusing to prospective Leica buyers. (If it works for the new iPad though, perhaps it will also work for Leica’s products.)

Leica says it’s made over 80 improvements to the Leica S based on “consumer feedback from the market.” One thing they did not improve on, however, is the price: the Leica S will go on sale, body only, for $21,950 in December 2012. If anyone’s keeping score, that’s approximately the same price as the previous model, though the Leica S adds a new protection plan that increases the warranty to three years total.

(more…)

September 19th, 2012

Photokina 2012: Hands on with the New Phase One/Mamiya 645DF+ Medium-Format Camera and Lenses

Though new digital SLRs seemed to “steal the show” at photokina, with early announcements of full-frame models from Canon, Nikon, and Sony, there was plenty going on in the world of medium format. We stopped by the Mamiya booth and got try out the new 645DF+, a medium-format camera platform being sold under both the Mamiya and Phase One brands.

While it looks nearly identical to the previous 645DF model — aside from the added “+” designation — the new 645DF+ camera body has some several key upgrades.

For one, while the 645DF+ has the same phase detection-based three-point autofocus system with dual focal plane and leaf shutter switching as the previous model, the AF’s electronic algorithm has been completely rewritten and feels a notch faster and more precise.

While it can’t keep pace with, say, the blazing speed of Canon or Nikon DSLR’s AF, the 645DF+’s autofocus was brisk and had no trouble locking in on an array of subjects at the booth. (And, as is usual in these booth settings, lighting conditions were a mix of shadows, black backgrounds and dim convention hall and studio lighting, i.e. not ideal.)

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