April 22nd, 2016

Earthquake Rattles CMOS Image Sensor Market


A series of devastating Earthquake hit Japan earlier this month, claiming 44 lives and destroying infrastructure across the island of Kyushu.

The quakes also appear to have dealt a blow to Sony’s CMOS image sensor business.

Sony’s factory in Kumamoto, located near the epicenter of the quake, has been taken offline indefinitely while the company assesses the damage.

The factory makes CMOS image sensors for digital cameras. Sony is a market leader in CMOS chips used in both digital cameras and smartphones with an estimated 40 percent market share, so any supply disruption will inevitably lead to product delays and, potentially, higher prices as supply shrinks.

Sony’s smartphone sensor factories are back online but there’s no word yet on how much damage its digital camera sensor business has sustained. The Kumamoto factory was primarily focused on sensors for still cameras, not smartphones.

UPDATE: In its quarterly earnings release, Sony nows says the factory won’t be brought back online until at least the end of May.  According to Reuters, both Canon and Nikon have said Sony’s plant halt would affect their camera production. We’ve reached out to both Canon and Nikon for more details.



March 16th, 2016

Taking the Sony G Master Lens Series to Task

Sponsored by Sony

An image from Quiles' shoot at the unveiling of the G Master Lens line. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/200 of a second, ISO 200 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

An image from Quiles’ shoot at the unveiling of the G Master Lens line. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/200 of a second, ISO 200 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

When Sony unveiled the new G Master Lens line at Industria Superstudio in New York City in February, attendees were treated to a live shoot by portrait photographer Miguel Quiles in Studio 2. Two models acted out a fashion-meets-Bonnie-and-Clyde scene in hotel room set, which included daylight streaming in through the window and ambient lamp light. Quiles’ images from the event are rich in color and detail, and Quiles says with the G Master series, he never has to make any concessions in his work.

Quiles' set at Industria Superstudio featured mixed lighting in a room rich with color and textures. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/125 of a second, ISO 400 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

Quiles’ set at Industria Superstudio featured mixed lighting in a room rich with color and textures. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/2.8, 1/125 of a second, ISO 400 with the Sony FE 24-70mm GM lens.

“With most lenses, you are making a compromise between fast autofocus, great color, great sharpness and great bokeh. You [usually] never get all of those in one lens,” says Quiles. But the G Master series was engineered using extreme aspherical lens elements to deliver unbelievable resolution and detail, producing beautiful bokeh and backgrounds that transition smoothly from sharp to soft.

Quiles has switched over to the lenses in his commercial, portrait and wedding shoots, and he’s seen the difference in his imagery. One of his favorite lighting set ups—what he calls “the dramatic portrait”—utilizes multiple strobes to cast a range of light and shadows across his subjects’ faces. The Sony G Master FE 85 mm F1.4 GM enhances his go-to lighting further, thanks to the focal length’s ability to take flattering images that separate his subjects from the background.

This image was created using a one-light setup: A main light umbrella with a small silver reflector below for fill, with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 50 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

This image was created using a one-light setup: A main light umbrella with a small silver reflector below for fill, with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 50 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

While he loves an 85mm lens, going so far as to call it his “workhorse focal length,” Quiles says that in the past he had to assume that certain percentage of the images from a shoot would be out of focus, and he considered that the trade-off of using an 85mm lens at a wide-open aperture. But the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM has an uncanny ability to combine creamy backgrounds and bokeh effects with tack-sharp detail on the subject. “The images coming out of the [G Master 85mm] are insane,” says Quiles. “When I show people the shots, they think I did something in post.”

The new Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens.

The new Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens.

When Quiles isn’t using the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM, he’s shooting with the FE 24-70 mm F2.8 GM, which he calls the “versatile all-round lens that Sony shooters have been waiting for.” Quiles says that the 24-70mm outperforms other similar lenses that he’s used. “You can use it to shoot wide and not have distortion. You get beautiful color saturation. You can shoot gorgeous portraits with it. You get tremendous detail and cinematic-quality bokeh,” says Quiles. “It does everything.”

This portrait was made using a one-light setup: A medium-sized octabox with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 100 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

This portrait was made using a one-light setup: A medium-sized octabox with the subject against a collapsible background. Shot with the Sony α7R II. Settings: f/1.4, 1/200 of a second, ISO 100 with the Sony FE 85mm GM Lens.

But as a portrait photographer, an 85mm is his bread and butter, and Quiles is more than happy to share how the Sony G Master 85mm stacks up against the equivalent Zeiss Batis, his prior go-to lens. He recently posted an online video weighing the pros and cons of each. According to him, the G Master 85mm edges out the Batis in image quality and wins in build with a grippier manual focus and aperture control rings and a beautiful, large piece of glass. The Batis is a little smaller and lighter for travel and recreation. But for professional photographers like himself, for which durability, optical quality and longevity are key, he thinks the G Master FE 85mm F1.4 GM is the only portrait lens you’ll need. He says: “You buy that lens and you don’t really have another reason to ever go out and buy another.”

For more information on Sony’s G Master Lenses, visit AlphaUniverse.com/lenses.

March 9th, 2016

The New Gear from WPPI 2016

WPPI 2016 has seen its fair share of product intros. We’ve paced the halls to bring you a few of the highlights.

Canon PRO 2000_01_fv_A

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 & PRO-4000

The 24-inch wide PRO-2000 and 44-inch PRO-4000 use the same ink set and print head technology that was introduced in the PRO 1000 and deliver a higher Dmax and better gloss uniformity than earlier models.

They also employ Canon’s Chroma Optimizer, the first time it has been used in the company’s 24 and 44-inch printers. Outside of the reformulated ink and more precise print heads, the construction of the printers has been improved to reduce vibrations that could impact print sharpness. Workflow enhancements include the use of three L-COA PRO processing chips for faster data crunching and built-in hard drives so print jobs can be quickly off-loaded from a PC and onto the printer.

Both models feature a 3.5-inch color touch screen, USB ports and wireless printing. They support three different ink tank sizes, a new 160ml cartridge plus 330ml and 700ml tanks. Thanks to the use of a sub ink tank, all ink cartridges drain completely before needing a refill.

The printers will work with an optional multi-function roll system which can act as a dual media roll or a take-up unit.

The PRO-2000 will sell for $2,995 or for $3,795 with the roll system. The PRO-4000 will set you back $5,995 or $6,995 with the roll system.

Wireless Flash System - Image

Sony Wireless Flash

Sony shooters will soon get their hands on their very own wireless flash transmitter, the company announced today at WPPI.

Due this summer, the FA-WRC1M wireless radio commander and FA-WRR1 wireless radio receiver will have a maximum range of 98 feet.

Sony says the system will be able to control a maximum of 15 separate flash units in up to 5 groups of flashes. You’ll have both manual and automatic control over the exposure of connected flash units and hit flash sync speeds of up to 1/250th of a second. There’s also high speed sync (HSS).


Profoto Beauty Dish

Profoto hit WPPI with new modifiers for its B2 on/off-camera flash system. The new OCF Beauty Dishes will be more compact and lighter than the company’s standard light shapers. They’ll have fewer parts too, so they’ll be easier to mount.

There will be two Beauty Dishes, both for $179. They’ll both have a deflector plate, an optional diffuser and come with a carrying case. The white dish will deliver a soft and more even light when the silver dish will deliver a bit more contrast.



Solidiphy uses 130 Canon Rebel S1 DSLRs, all attached to a synchronized trigger and strobe lighting, to create an immersive, multi-angled image of a person. The Rebels are housed in cabinets arranged in a circle, about 14 feet in diameter–although the size of the system can vary depending on your needs.

After you trigger the shutters, the 130 JPEGs are sent to your PC where they are then uploaded from Solidiphy’s software to the company where the products are 3D printed. Solidiphy charges a wholesale price on printed products and has suggest retail prices, though photographers are free to set their own prices.

Solidiphy can produce cake toppers, figurines, Lego heads and more. Turnaround times range from 7-10 days.

Solidiphy isn’t cheap. It costs $130,000 and the price includes installation, set up, training and support. You’ve got to move a lot of figurines to recoup your investment, but the quality of the 3D print is lot higher than other 3D printed figurines we’ve seen.

More From WPPI 2016:

Three Things We Learned from Sue Bryce on Making Money in Portraits

A Photo Booth for the GIF Era

All the WPPI Product News in One Place


January 6th, 2016

CES 2016: Sony’s Action Cam Gets New Tricks


Sony came to CES with a new HD action cam in tow.

The HDR-AS50 isn’t 4K capable, but delivers several new features for Sony’s action cam line.
Among them is a new live-view remote (the LVR-3) that’s 30 percent smaller than the existing remote. The remote is now able to turn the camera’s power on and off, which Sony says can help prolong the camera’s battery life.

There’s also a new, higher-resolution display on the camera body. Face detection has been added to Sony’s Highlight Movie Maker function—a feature that automatically compiles a highlight reel from footage based on cues from the camera’s sensors (i.e. scenes get flagged during fast turns, acceleration and now, whenever faces are detected in the frame).

Also new is the ability to change the angle of view on the camera, selecting between wide (1.0x) or narrow (1.4x). Finally, Sony added a tripod socket, dedicated power button and louder recording beep to its action camera.

The AS50 features a CMOS sensor and records in Sony’s XAVC codec with frame rates up to 120p. It incorporates the same digital image stabilization system incorporate in the FDR-X1000. There’s also a 4K time-lapse mode that captures a series of still images and exports them as a 4K movie file.

The camera will be joined by several new accessories, including a new underwater housing good for 60 meters, a grip/tripod unit that can hold both the camera and LVR remote, and a new cap clip for recording point-of-view footage.

The AS50 ships in Feb for $200 (including the underwater housing) or for $350 when bundled with the new LVR remote.


Follow PDN’s CES 2016 coverage here.


January 5th, 2015

Sony Brings Its Action Camera Into the 4K Era




GoPro no longer has the 4K action camera market to itself. At CES, Sony has added 4K (3840×2160) recording to its new flagship action camera, the FDR-X100V.

Several advanced functions from Sony’s A7 camera line have also trickled down to the X100V, including full pixel readout during recording, which reduces jagged edges and false colors by pulling all of the data off the CMOS sensor. When shooting in 4K at 30 frames per second, you’ll enjoy bit rates of 100Mbps or 60Mbps when shooting at 24 fps. The X100V can record in full HD at up to 120 fps or at 240 fps when shooting at 720p resolution. It also supports Sony’s XAVC S codec.

The optical image stabilization system has been revamped from earlier action cams with a specific emphasis on stabilizing the camera for use on drones where low amplitude vibrations can induce nauseating jitters. The lens will provide the same 170-degree angle of view as previous Sony action cams.

Sony has added wind reduction to the stereo microphone as well as automatic exposure control and white balance settings to give pro users more latitude when adjusting exposure.X100V_in_the_box-1200

Also new for Sony’s 2015 action cam line is a Loop Recording feature, which lets you designate a recording time interval and when the camera hits the end of the allotted time, it will automatically loop back to the beginning and start over-writing previously recorded footage with new video. You can set loop recording at 5, 20, 60, or 120-minute intervals or set it to unlimited and it will use the entire capacity of your memory card.

For those in search of a quick, shareable highlight reel from the day’s adventure, a new Highlight Movie Maker function uses algorithms pegged to the cameras gyro sensor to flag content recorded when the camera was moving or turning rapidly and compiles the clips automatically into a short movie.

The X100V will be slightly larger than Sony’s existing action cams, so it won’t be compatible with older waterproof cases. Look for it in March for $500 or for $600 when bundled with the new RM-LVR2 live view remote. The new remote is waterproof to a depth of 10 feet and lets you control Sony’s action cameras and preview images.

AS200V_side1-1200If you don’t need the 4K experience, Sony’s new full HD HDR-AS200V updates the AS100V with Loop Record, Highlight Movie Maker, the full pixel readout functionality and a wind-reduction microphone. It will also ship in March for $300 or for $400 with the new live view remote.


September 15th, 2014

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


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 12th, 2014

Sony Courts Filmmakers with New Full Frame Lens

Sony’s continued its push to make its full frame mirrorless system attractive to filmmakers with the new FE PZ 28-135mm F G OSS, the first full-frame lens with a power zoom for smoother focusing. SELP28135G_A-1200

The new E-mount lens is part of Sony’s effort to boost its full frame cameras among filmmakers by tackling three issues that bedevil still photo lenses during video shoots: changes in angle of view during focusing, focus shifts during zoom and the movement of the optical axis during zooming.

The new lens will combat these maladies with a supersonic wave motor drive and a double linear motor to reduce focus noise.

The FE PZ 28-135 will also have separate control rings for focus, zoom and aperture and features a maximum aperture of f/4. Optical image stabilization is also on hand to keep things steady—it can be switched off via a button on the lens barrel.

The new lens is set to ship in December for $2,499.

May 15th, 2014

Sony Adds RX100 III, the Sequel to Our Favorite Pocket Camera of 2013

Sony just launched the pocket-friendly but powerful RX100 III, which is the follow-up to our favorite pocket camera of 2013. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill for a camera that’s just an 1.5-inch thick and weighs around 10 ounces.

The Sony RX100 III is not an overhaul of RX100 Il — thankfully, since that was a very well designed little camera — and even uses the same 20.1-megapixel 1.0-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor as its predecessor. It also has about the same dimensions as the previous model — 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches — though might be slightly thicker.

The new Sony RX100 III does, however, add some significant new features — particularly relating to the lens — including the following highlights:


April 6th, 2014

Sony Announces 4K-Shooting, Full Frame 12.2MP A7S Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera

Sony just took the wraps off a brand new full-frame interchangeable camera that can also shoot 4K video: the 12.2-megapixel Sony A7S. The Sony A7S joins the 36.4-megapixel A7R and 24.3-megapixel Sony A7, which were announced last year and are the first two mirrorless cameras with 35mm sensors.

Sony-A7SWhat differentiates the Sony A7S from those two models — and just about every other full-frame model on the market — is its ability to shoot 4K video. It’s no coincidence that this 4K-shooting camera was announced right before the NAB show in Las Vegas, which is traditionally the domain of high-end video products.

The Sony A7S also features a BIONZ X image processor, which lets it shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 409,600.

Read the rest of this story on the new Sony A7S on PDNOnline. 

February 3rd, 2014

BREAKING: Hasselblad Launches HV, a High-End DSLR Based on Sony A99

Hasselblad-HV_front_wHasselblad has just announced the new HV, a 24.3-megapixel, full-frame digital SLR that appears to be based on the Sony A99 from 2012. According to a press release posted on Hasselblad’s website, the HV camera will sell as a kit with a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for for 8,500 Euros, or $11,500 USD. (The Sony A99 retails for $2,800, body only.)

Hasselblad, which is known primarily as a manufacturer of medium-format camera systems, has collaborated with Sony in the past for its Lunar, and Stellar mirrorless digital cameras, which are based on Sony’s NEX models, but revamped as luxury items and sell at much steeper prices.

In describing the Hasselblad HV, Hasselblad’s CEO Ian Rawcliffe said the new camera is designed to be stylish, ergonomic, and rugged, and is built with “premium materials like titanium, high-grade aluminium and latest ‘tough as nails’ PVD coatings.”

“This camera is aimed squarely at people who don’t just love taking pictures – but love taking them in real style,” Rawcliffe said in the press release. “And the HV doesn’t just look good; it feels good to hold too.”

Check out some more photos of the Hasselblad HV after the jump. More info on the new camera at Hasselblad’s website.