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Archive for February, 2017

Feb
28

Nikon D3400 and D5600 firmware updates now available

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Nikon has released firmware updates for the Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D5600, both of which have received a very small improvement that addresses the same bug: "Fixed an issue that resulted in unreliable connections between the camera and the iOS 10.2 version of the SnapBridge app."

The Nikon D3400 firmware is updated to version 1.11 and is available here; the Nikon D5600 firmware is updated to version 1.01 and is available here.

Via: NikonRumors

Feb
28

Nikon D3400 and D5600 firmware updates now available

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Nikon has released firmware updates for the Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D5600, both of which have received a very small improvement that addresses the same bug: "Fixed an issue that resulted in unreliable connections between the camera and the iOS 10.2 version of the SnapBridge app."

The Nikon D3400 firmware is updated to version 1.11 and is available here; the Nikon D5600 firmware is updated to version 1.01 and is available here.

Via: NikonRumors

Feb
28

Hasselblad to introduce 120mm macro for the X1D with three more lenses to follow

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Medium-format camera manufacturer Hasselblad has announced that it will introduce four new lenses over the next twelve months for its X1D mirrorless model. The new lenses will be a 22mm wideangle, a 65mm moderate wide, a 120mm macro and the system’s first zoom – a 35-75mm.

The first lens to arrive will be the XCD 120mm F3.5 macro that will have a maximum image scale of 1:2 and a closest focus distance of 0.43m from the camera sensor. The focal length on the X1D sensor will deliver the angle of view we’d expect from a lens of just longer than 90mm on a 135 format system. As you’d expect, the lens has an integrated shutter and will be able to achieve synchronisation with flash at shutter speeds of up to 1/2000sec. The lens uses 10 elements in 7 groups and an internal floating focusing mechanism. It will weigh 970g and will measure 150mmx81mm.

Hasselblad says the flat field reproduction makes the lens ideal for accurate macro work, but that the moderate telephoto focal length will also suit portrait photographers. The autofocusing system is effective throughout the entire distance range, and the smallest aperture available will be F32.

While the 120mm macro is due to arrive in June there is no date yet for the release of the other lenses, but the company expects to make them available within the next twelve months. No technical data has been provided other than their focal lengths. Pricing will also be released closer to the availability dates. For more information on the Hasselblad XCD lens range visit the Hasselblad website.

 Hasselblad XCD lenses  Approx equiv focal length
 Existing lenses  
 45mm F3.5  35mm 
 90mm F3.2  70mm
 30mm F3.5  24mm
 New lenses  
 22mm 18mm
 65mm  50mm
 120mm F3.5 Macro  95mm
 35-75mm  28-60mm

Press Release

Hasselblad announces four new XCD lenses for the X1D

Combining Compact Format with the Highest Optical Quality

Following the hugely successful launch of the ground-breaking X1D in 2016, Hasselblad is delighted to introduce four new XCD lenses. The XCD 120mm Macro lens is the first to complement the existing XCD lens family, and will be available at the end of June 2017.

The exceptionally high performing 120mm F3.5 lens brings together the compact format of the XCD range with the maximum optical quality across the frame with a flat image field. Providing a new versatility to the X1D user, the lens is suitable for both close-up work up to a 1:2 image scale, and also as a mid-range telephoto lens for portrait or other photography requiring a longer focal length. Auto or manual focusing goes from infinity to 1:2 without the need for extension tubes.

Like the other XCD lenses, XCD 120mm Macro lens has an integral central shutter offering a wide range of shutter speeds and full flash synchronisation up to 1/2000th second.

Hasselblad Product Manager, Ove Bengtson commented: “The XCD 120mm Macro lens complements the existing XCD dedicated autofocus lenses which were developed to support optical quality and portability. This is the first addition to the X1D range of lenses in 2017 and we are excited to launch more lenses later in the year.”

Over the next 12 months, Hasselblad will also launch the XCD 35-75mm Zoom*, XCD 65mm*, and XCD 22mm Wide Angle* lenses. By the beginning of 2018, the X1D will have access to seven dedicated XCD lenses and all twelve HC/HCD lenses using the XH lens adapter.

XCD 3,5/120mm Macro Technical Specification 

  • 3.5/120 mm Macro
  • Focal length: 120 mm
  • Max aperture: F3.5
  • Min Aperture: F32
  • Image scale: 1:2
  • Angle of view: (diag/hor/ver): 26°/21°/16°
  • Integral central shutter
  • Full flash synchronisation up to 1/2000 sec
  • Size: diam 81 mm, length 150 mm
  • Filter diameter - 77mm
  • Weight: 970 g

Specification subject to change without notice.

Feb
28

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

Filed Under Digital Photography School, Post Production Tips

This article will walk you through some tips for how to set up a basic portrait post-processing workflow that can help you save time and stay organized.

The problem

When you’re new to photography, everything is exciting. Every time you come home with a full memory card, it’s a mad rush to the computer to see what you have captured. You’re eager to see every image and each one is treated as a separate entity with every technique you’ve come across. This is great. That excitement is what will keep you moving forward with photography and it is how you rapidly learn and grow as a photographer. That’s how it was with me, at any rate.

What happens, however, as you start taking more and more images? For example, regular portrait sessions a couple times a week can lead to an overwhelming amount of photographs. Approaching every frame as an individual becomes time-consuming and inefficient. If you’re not careful, you’ll have a backlog of images going back months and months. Often, many of your photos will be forgotten at the wayside.

The solution to this problem is to develop a portrait post-processing workflow.

Defining workflow

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

Straight out of the camera before any adjustments in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

After portrait post-processing workflow steps in this article were applied.

In the simplest terms possible, a workflow is a checklist of repeatable actions that you work through as you go through a task. If it helps, in business the equivalent be would systems and in manufacturing, it could be compared to an assembly line.

You can have a workflow for any part of the photographic process, from planning and coordinating sessions to setting up and tearing down equipment and finally the post-processing stage.

This article will outline the steps of the post-processing workflow that I’ve been using on my portraits for a few years.

Starting point

Because every photographer has their own way of importing, organizing and editing their images in Lightroom (and other software), this article starts at the beginning of the post-processing stage for individual images. It assumes you will have already imported your photos into Lightroom and you have already edited (culled) down to the keepers.

Lightroom

This workflow uses both Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Each program offers its own strengths. To take advantage of them, consider using both with the Adobe Photographer membership – get 20% off (only $7.99/month) by using this link only for dPS readers.

Color corrections

The first step is to conduct any color corrections to your image. I do this in one of two ways. The first involves a ColorChecker Passport. If you don’t have one, just skip past it (or purchase one here on Amazon.com and follow along).

Xrite ColorChecker Passport

In your Lightroom catalog, find the photo you took with the ColorChecker Passport in it. Go to File>Export and export the image as a DNG to a folder where you can find it.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

To work in the ColorChecker Passports proprietary software, you need to export your image as a DNG.

Now open the software that came with your Xrite ColorChecker Passport, and import the DNG you just exported into it.

The software does a pretty good job of aligning the photo to the ColorChecker, but if it fails, just follow the instructions on the screen.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

The Xrite ColorChecker Passport’s software allows you to create custom color profile unique to each lighting setup.

Press the Create Profile button and give it a name that has something to do with the images you are going to be working on. For example, if you’re working on portraits of Jane Doe in a wedding dress which you took on April 15th of 2017, you could name the profile: JaneDoeWeddingDress041517. That’s optional, of course, but it will help you should you decide to revisit these photos in six months time.

Now, reopen Lightroom, find the image of the ColorChecker Passport, and open it in the Develop Module. Scroll down the panels on the right until you find the Calibration tab.

At the top, there will be the word Profile followed by Adobe Standard. Click there and choose the profile name that you just made in the external software (in the example below I called it “PortraitWorkflow”.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

Once created and imported into Lightroom, color profiles can be returned to at any point in the future.

This process has built a custom color profile, individual to the lighting present in the scene. This is a vital step if you want to get the most accurate colors in your photographs.

White balance with the ColorChecker Passport

In the right-hand panel, scroll back up to the top basic panel. Select the eyedropper. To correct the white balance in your image, click in any of the white or gray boxes on the ColorChecker in your image. That will correct your white balance automatically. Each box will have a different effect on your images, so feel free to go through them all to see which works best, or which you prefer.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

Any of the white and gray squares can be used to set your white balance. They all have different effects, so experiment until you’re happy.

Press CTRL/CMD+Shift+C and in the dialog box click the Check None box. Tick off only the boxes for Calibration and White Balance, and then click Copy.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

Setting the color profile and white balance to an entire set of images at once can save you heaps of time.

With your settings copied, you can go back to the Library Module and select all of the photos that you want these settings applied to. Select them and press CTRL/CMD+Shift+V to do this.

Make sure you deselect the group of images afterwards by pressing CTRL/CMD+D.

White balance in Lightroom

If you don’t have a ColorChecker Passport, you can set your white balance manually by using the eyedropper (click on something neutral in the image) and sliders at the top of the Basic tab. Once you’re done, you can copy and paste the settings to the other images in your set as described above.

Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized

To adjust white balance manually, use the eyedropper and sliders at the top of the Basic panel.

Lens Corrections

The next step is to find the Lens Corrections tab and click both the Enable Profile Corrections box and the Remove Chromatic Aberration box.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - lens corrections

Enabling lens corrections will correct any distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations in your images.

Doing this will correct any distortion caused by your lenses and it will usually deal with any chromatic aberrations. It’s a simple step, but it can make a world of difference to your final images.

Before you move on, however, always zoom in and move around your image looking for any chromatic aberrations (look at the edges of the image) the software failed to correct. It’s usually very good, but sometimes it will fail in tricky lighting situations where there’s a lot of backlighting. For portraits, pay close attention to catch lights in the eyes. If you find any chromatic aberrations there, simply go to the Manual section of the Lens Correction tab, choose the eyedropper and click into any color halos that you find.

Basic Adjustments

For portraits, I try to keep my basic adjustments at this stage to a minimum. I will use the exposure slider as needed, the White and Black sliders minimally, keep the Clarity slider between +15 and -15, and often reduce the Vibrance to -10.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - basic adjustments

For more natural portraits, keep your adjustments subtle.

The reason for keeping these adjustments minimal is that they are global adjustments (apply to the entire image). I prefer to work with local adjustments in Photoshop, which give you much more control over the image. But, it is also possible to do local adjustments in Lightroom using the Adjustment Brush, Radial Filter and Graduated Filter if you would prefer.

Client proofs

NOTE: When working on proofs to send to clients so they can make their final image selections, this is where I usually stop. There is little need to spend up to an hour retouching a photo that will never see the light of day. Colour corrections and maybe a few small contrast adjustments are almost always enough at this point.

Black and White (optional)

If you intend to work in black and white and you like doing your conversions in Lightroom, this is the stage where I do the conversion process using the black and white sliders.

If you intend or prefer to do your conversion in Photoshop, then skip this part and make it the first step once your image is opened inside Photoshop.

Export

With the Raw processing complete, it’s time to export (or open) your image into Photoshop. Press CTRL/CMC+Shift+E to bring up the Export dialogue box. Choose a location and name appropriate to your own organizational system and export the image as a TIF or PSD (either of those formats will retain all your layers when you save your work). Close Lightroom and open your image in Photoshop.

NOTE: Alternatively you can open your RAW file directly from Lightroom into Photoshop by right-clicking the image and selecting: Edit In > Edit in Adobe Photoshop – OR – Edit In > Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.

Photoshop

Blemishes

The first step of this workflow in Photoshop is to remove temporary blemishes from your subject’s skin. Create a new empty layer by pressing CTRL/CMD+Shift+N and pressing OK.

You can use either the Spot Healing Brush Tool or the Healing Brush Tool, or a combination of both. Once you’ve selected your tool, ensure that the All Layers option is selected in the drop-down menu labeled Sample. Also, ensure that you are working on the new empty layer (you just created above) in order to keep things non-destructive.

While using the healing brushes, zoom in to at least 200% on your image and use a brush that is only slightly larger than the blemish you are trying to remove. If you are using the Healing Brush tool, take a new sample after every click by pressing Alt/Option+Click to ensure the best results.

How far you go is going to be a matter of personal preference. I like to limit this step to only temporary blemishes and leave scars and beauty marks unless I’m asked to remove them by the subject.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - blemish removal

Before blemish removal.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - blemish removal

After blemish removal.

Note: It is possible to remove blemishes in Lightroom, but it is a time consuming and awkward process compared to Photoshop in my opinion. If Lightroom works better for you, go ahead and use it.

Color casts

Although we already covered color corrections in the first step, I like to revisit it at this stage. For example, in this image, the background is still too warm for my taste. Create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - hue/saturation layer

In the Properties tab, find the icon that looks like a pointing hand. Click it and then find a place in the image you want to adjust the colors. In this image, it’s in the background.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

With the pointer selected, click into any area of a colour cast you want to change.

Now adjust the sliders in the Hue/Saturation Layer until it has the desired effect on the color you are trying to change.

In this image, the background and the subject shared a lot of the same warmth. To keep them separate, use a layer mask. Click into the layer mask on your Hue/Saturation layer and press CTRL/CMD+I to invert it (hide all).

Now select the Brush tool (B) and set your foreground color to white and your opacity and flow to 100%. Paint into the areas (on the mask not the layer) you want to be affected by your Hue/Saturation layer. If you mess up, just switch your foreground color to black and paint over the mistake.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

Before Hue/Saturation Adjustments

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

After Hue/Saturation Adjustments

Dodging and burning

The next step is to deal with contrast. Instead of using the contrast sliders at the raw processing stage, it is best to use a technique like dodging and burning for small, local adjustments to get the most control over your images. There are a lot of different methods for dodging and burning, but I prefer the gray layer method.

By using multiple layers, you can obtain really fine control over the contrast and the tones in specific parts of your image with little effort. For example, you can have a set of layers for skin tones, another set for the clothes, a set for hair, and another set for eyes all independently adjusted. You can learn how to dodge and burn here.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - dodge and burn

Before dodging and burning.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - dodge and burn

After dodging and burning.

High Pass Filter

The last step of my workflow before saving is to use a High Pass filter to sharpen things up a bit. To use the High Pass filter, merge all of your existing layers into a new one by pressing CTRL/CMD+alt+Shift+E. Zoom into 100%, select the layer that was just created, and go to Filter>Other> High Pass.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - high pass filter

As long as you are working with a high-resolution file, set the radius between two and five. If you’re working with a smaller file, move the slider to the left until the preview image looks like a faint outline of your original image (as seen below). Press OK.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips - high pass filter to sharpen

It’s pretty easy to go overboard with the High Pass filter. Try to keep it as subtle as possible.

On the Layer Palette, change the blending mode to Soft Light or Overlay. This is more personal preference than anything, but Overlay will give a far more pronounced effect than Soft Light. I prefer Soft Light for portraits and Overlay for other subjects. The last step is to reduce the opacity of the High Pass layer. Zoom into 100% and move the opacity slider to the left until you can barely see the effect.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

Use either the Soft Light or Overlay blending modes for your High Pass layer. Soft Light will be more subtle, while Overlay will be more pronounced.

Saving your image

When the image is finished it’s time to save it. This will different for everyone depending on your own organizational system, but I prefer to save files as 16-bit TIFFs with layers intact. Doing this means that you can go back and adjust any part post-processing at any time. It also means you can go back to your full resolution file at any time to create smaller images for web use and the like without potentially losing them. The downside to this is that 16-bit TIFF files can get very large and they do take up a fair amount of hard drive space, but to me, the peace of mind is worth it.

In the end

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

Straight out of the camera and before any adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips

After adjustments and retouching in Lightroom and Photoshop.

The amount of time it takes to get through this workflow varies from image to image. Some photos take five minutes, others take closer to an hour. Overall, having a workflow like this will save you countless hours of work. Knowing exactly what steps you’re going to take before you sit down removes a lot of guesswork and saves time. This is invaluable when you start doing sessions a couple times a week.

Obviously, this exact workflow may not be for you. However, I encourage giving it a try and then developing your own workflow that fits in with your style and existing skills.

The post Basic Portrait Post-Processing Workflow Tips to Help You Save Time and Stay Organized by John McIntire appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
28

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

Filed Under Cameras and Equipment, Digital Photography School

Portable light sources are essential to your photography toolkit when you’re ready to progress beyond natural lighting and take your images to the next level. While off-camera flash photography can be intimidating, LED lights can be quality solutions that are much easier to operate. One of the leading LED lights for photographers is the popular, yet pricey, Westcott Ice Light. If you’re looking for a similar solution that is significantly more affordable, the Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wandd might be for you!

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

BrightSaber Pro Versus BrightSaber Travel

As its name suggests, the Polaroid BrightSaber looks very much like a sci-fi lightsaber, so it has the immediate bonus of functioning as a fun conversation piece or photography prop. But the main intent of the BrightSaber is to serve as a handheld portable continuous (LED) light source for photography or videography.

To be clear, there are two versions of this light, and they are quite different. The Polaroid BrightSaber Pro looks more like the Ice Light; it is more powerful, and thus more expensive at $169.99. There is also the BrightSaber Travel, which is less powerful, yet much more affordable at $69.99. This article is focused on the travel version.

BrightSaber Travel Specs

  • Dimensions of 16.4 x 5.4 x 2.1 inches
  • Item weight of 1 lb (450g)
  • Array of 98 efficient, low heat 32000k bulbs
  • 10 power settings for variable lighting output
  • Three included color filters and diffuser
  • Easy disassembly
  • 50,000 hour LED life
  • Tripod screw at the base for mounting on a light stand or tripod

What’s in the Box

  • Polaroid BrightSaber Travel portable lighting wand
  • Detachable wand handle
  • 3 color temperature filters and diffuser
  • Rechargeable lithium ion batteries and battery charger
  • Battery charger cables

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

Pros

Intuitive and easy to use

Out of the box, the devices arrives in two separate pieces that must be snapped together. The button controls are located on the handle, which is also where the two included lithium ion batteries must be inserted. For most people, assembling the BrightSaber Travel will be a pretty intuitive process. Once assembled, the light works as advertised. The few buttons enable you to turn the light off and on and choose from 10 power settings to adjust the level of brightness needed. Unlike most other lightsaber LED lights out there, the BrightSaber Travel is flat rather than round. A thinner profile truly makes it easier for traveling.

Nice quality of light

The BrightSaber Travel packs an array of 98 low-heat 32000K LED bulbs that produce a very nice quality of light. If you wish to change the color temperature, you can simply slide on one of the three color gels included, or snap on the included diffuser panel. Due to the specific size and shape of the BrightSaber, it’s not very easy to get your hands on other color gel choices without resorting to a DIY solution.

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

Lighting was done with the Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

Affordable

It’s really difficult to argue about the low price point of the Polaroid BrightSaber. Even the Professional version is significantly more affordable than the popular Ice Light, and the Travel version is even cheaper! While there are other competitively priced light saber-esque LED lights on the market, none of them are produced by as reputable a brand as Polaroid.

Cons

No bag included

As mentioned above, there are quite a few moving parts to the Polaroid BrightSaber Travel. There are the two pieces that must be snapped together, two lithium ion batteries, three color gels, and one diffuser.

Unfortunately, there is no bag included that will hold all of these pieces together, thus increasing the chance of losing parts. The lack of a bag is especially perplexing since this device is intended for travel use and its unique shape and size make it difficult to fit into standard camera bags.

Non-standard batteries

Another downside to the BrightSaber Travel is its use of two non-standard batteries. They look like elongated versions of double AA batteries, and in my experience, they take an extremely long time to charge. It would be preferable for the device to use either one single rechargeable battery like the BrightSaber Professional does, or to use two standard batteries that can be more easily replaced.

In Conclusion

If you’re seeking a portable, handheld LED light to one-up your photography, I highly recommend checking out the Polaroid BrightSaber. It comes in either the BrightSaber Pro version or the more affordable, slightly less powerful Travel version. Both work very well at extremely affordable prices.

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

The Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand next to the Ice Light.

First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand

Side by side with the Ice Light

The post First Look: Polaroid BrightSaber Travel LED Wand by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Feb
28

Sony FE 85mm F1.8 sample gallery and first impressions

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The Sony FE 85mm F1.8 joins Sony's full-frame E-Mount lineup as the most affordable native lens that offers a short telephoto focal length. Other full-frame systems have had comparably low-cost 85mm lenses for quite a while, and it's nice to see Sony filling in some of the gaps for budget conscious users.

The FE 85mm balances superbly on Sony's a7-series bodies, and though it's no G Master lens, it feels solid enough. Focusing is silent and fairly quick (contrary to Sony's 'nifty fifty' FE 50mm F1.8), and it has excellent sharpness wide open, even well off-center. It's even sharper by F2.5, seemingly peaking by F4. There's an awful lot of purple and green fringing wide open though, as you'll see in our gallery, but this is to be expected, and is indeed common, in lightweight fast primes (they're far less distracting by F4.5). Careful software corrections might be able to take care of most of it (remember: it's lateral CA that's easy to remove, not axial), albeit typically at a cost to other areas of the image - download a few of the Raw files to see for yourself.

On an a7R II, this lens focuses wide open, quickly and accurately.

Of particular interest is our observation that this lens, currently, focuses wide open* on an a7R II (or, technically, opens up to F2 if you've selected an aperture smaller than wide open). This addresses one of our largest complaints with recent Sony lens releases that focus stopped down, often slowing focus in low light or forcing otherwise capable phase-detect AF systems to revert to contrast detect-only. It appears that, at least for now, Sony's recent 100mm STF and 85mm F1.8 lenses address this issue, and without an image cost to boot: take a look at our aperture series with our LensAlign target here (please choose the option to 'Open Link in New Window'), and you'll note no focus shift as we stop down (the lens was focused once wide open, then switched to MF for the series). You can also judge problematic apertures for axial CA in this series, as well as how circular out-of-focus highlights remain as you stop down the 9-bladed aperture.

Oddly, the same doesn't hold true on other Sony bodies: the lens focuses stopped down at the shooting aperture on an a7 II, a7S, and a6300/6500. Oddly, this sometimes leads to slight front-focus at smaller apertures on those cameras, though it's not a huge deal as the focus shift is often masked by the increased depth-of-field. It's interesting from an academic standpoint though - as focusing at the selected aperture should increase focus accuracy, not decrease it. We have our hypotheses, but for now, we've reached out to Sony for comment. 

Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

See our Sony FE 85mm F1.8 sample gallery


 *Note this only holds true for AF-S and for initial focus acquisition in AF-C, after which the lens stays stopped down, presumably to avoid having to constantly open and close the aperture during continuous drive. We still wish this weren't the case, as (1) AF-C is often useful even in Single drive mode, and (2) DSLRs are fully capable of opening and closing the aperture in between shots, even at 14 fps. There may be other nuances we're missing that explain why Sony chooses to focus stopped down, but the inconsistencies between bodies is confusing. Rest assured, we are in constant discussion with Sony engineers about this issue.

Feb
28

Ricoh R Development Kit 360 degree camera will be available for pre-order in May

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Ricoh has released pricing and full specifications for the Ricoh R Development Kit 360 degree live streaming camera that was first shown to the public at CES earlier this year. The company has also announced it is starting to take pre-orders for the device on the Ricoh R website starting in May. The kit will be available at a price point of $499.

The RICOH R Development Kit is capable of live-streaming fully spherical, 360-degree video in 2K resolution at 30 frames per second. The footage is stitched on the device in real time to fit the standard Equirectangular Projection Format. Streaming video can be output via HDMI or USB, and, when using a power adapter, continuously up to 24 hours. The camera can also record onto a micro SD card. 

The kit consists of the camera, camera stand, a software development kit (SDK) as well as image-control tools and source code. Thanks to an open API the camera is controllable via USB. Ricoh says potential applications include live streaming of events, telepresence, computer vision and surveillance. Full specs are available on the Ricoh website

Press Release:

Announced at CES 2017, RICOH R Development Kit delivers up 24 hours of fully spherical live streams

TOKYO and BARCELONA (Mobile World Congress 2017, Hall 8.0 J3), February 27, 2017-Ricoh today announced it is taking pre-orders of the RICOH R Development Kit, featuring the industry's first camera capable of delivering up to 24 continuous hours of fully spherical, 360-degree live video streams. Showcased at Mobile World Congress 2017, the camera can be pre-ordered from http://ricohR.ricoh, with shipments scheduled to start in May 2017. The sales price will be $499.

Using Ricoh's fully spherical imaging technology, the RICOH R Development Kit can live-stream fully spherical, 360-degree images in 2K resolution at 30 frames per second. Unique to RICOH R technology is the stitching of video within the camera in real time to the Equirectangular Projection Format, which is the standard format for fully spherical images. Video is then output via HDMI® or USB, and—by using an AC power adapter– continuous, live streaming up to 24 hours is possible. The camera records onto a micro SD card, which enables the body to be extremely thin and lightweight.

The RICOH R Development Kit consists of the camera, camera stand, downloadable software development kit (SDK), plus image-control tools and source code. Using the camera's open API and the "RICOH R Console" image-control tool source code available through GitHub, the camera can be controlled via USB, which will enable its use in a variety of environments and industries such as telepresence and computer vision.

Feb
28

CP+ 2017 Canon interview: ‘We want to be number one in the overall ILC market’

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Mr. Mizoguchi and Mr. Tokura took the time at CP+ 2017 to discuss Canon's future with us. 

Just prior to CP+ 2017, Canon announced three new consumer cameras in the mirrorless EOS M6, the DSLR EOS 77D and EOS Rebel T7i . We had the chance to catch up with Canon while in Japan covering CP+ and discussed the company's current state of affairs, as well as its future (in relation to mirrorless).

Specifically, we spoke with Go Tokura, Executive Officer and Chief Executive for Image Communication Business Operation and Yoshiyuki Mizoguchi, Group Executive of ICB Products Group, Image Communication Business Operation.

Please note that this interview was conducted through an interpreter, and has been edited slightly for clarity and flow.


What is Canon’s main strategic focus going forward into the next product cycle?

We can break down our focus into two areas: improving our network connectivity and video. We still have a lot of room to grow in the video area in terms of what we can offer. And in terms of customer strategy, we want to continue to build new users, specifically enticing more entry-level users.

Where do you see most demand for 4K, and are you beginning to see beginners ask for 4K video?

Whether you’re a professional or at the entry-level, you likely want high-quality video. And we think there is potential for the entry-level to grow. So we will obviously be looking at introducing our 4K technologies down to the entry-levels at some point.

But introducing 4K to the entry-level is linked to the 4K TV market. How quickly that takes off and penetrates will tell us how and when we should introduce 4K to more affordable cameras. 

Looking at 4K TV saturation, what kind of time-frame does that suggest and when do you think it will be necessary to have 4K in every part of your product line?

We obviously have to look at the technical feasibility of it, cost-wise, as well as [the challenge of power consumption]. Those factors will tell us how we will introduce 4K technologies going forward.

We will continue to challenge and overcome these technical hurdles that we are seeing at moment in introducing 4K into our entire product lineup. But it is important to keep in mind that we don't want to harm the original inherent concept of these products. 4K should compliment, rather than hinder.

The Canon EOS Rebel T7i was announced earlier this month. It shoots 1080/60p. Will we ever see a Rebel with 4K video? Probably, it's just a matter of when.  

Does Canon have any ambitions to become a manufacturer of high quality monitor displays for enthusiasts and consumers?

We don’t have any plans to enter the consumer display panel market.

We’ve seen companies creating affordable cine lenses for mirrorless videographers. Do you see an opportunity in that market segment?

The Cinema Lens market, including for mirrorless, is a great market. When it comes to cinema lenses you have demand for everything from the professional to the affordable. Overall we’d like to increase the breadth of our share of the market on the affordable end. So we will continue to spend our efforts on that.

The EOS M series continues to expand. What is the long term goal of the M series in terms of market share?

That is a difficult question to respond to with a simple answer because we don’t have a particular number set in terms of getting the market share for the mirrorless market. This is because we are a company that produces [both mirrorless and DSLR], as a total package.

Our intention is to become number one in the overall ILC market: mirrorless and SLR. Different regions would have different penetration and different market share of mirrorless products.

The EOS M5 is Canon's flagship mirrorless camera. 

Specifically, which markets are leaning more toward mirrorless and which more toward SLR?

In the Southeast Asian market we’re seeing a real high demand for mirrorless, while the US has the least mirrorless penetration. In terms of the Japanese market we’re seeing a slight majority [of] mirrorless at this time. But having said that, compared to two years ago we’re now seeing a slowing down of mirrorless taking over. We were expecting to see more mirrorless taking off, keeping that momentum, but that has not happened.

Do you think there could be a professional-level EOS M model sometime in the future?

Obviously we think it could be possible, there is a potential, but we do not want to put a time frame on that.

Do you think in a similar way, we may begin to see the L-series lens line expand into EF-M?

The demand for that is still quite limited and so we won’t be able to say. But obviously as people start to look for more professional-level quality and performance, we will extend our lens line to respond to what the customer is looking for.

Canon has yet to introduce a Dual I.S. system into its mirrorless cameras for fear the stabilized sensor will increase the size and weight.

If the EOS M series begins to eat away at sales of Rebel DSLRs, do you regard that as a good thing or a bad thing, or is it just inevitable?

We’re letting the customer, market and demand tell us how we should go about approaching different regions. Because if you’re looking at a market with a high level of mirrorless penetration, we would obviously look to push forward with the EOS M series in that region. And we will watch and see: are Rebel users moving on to the EOS M? Frankly, if that becomes inevitable, it is something we will support. Having said that, overall we are looking to simply be number one the combined SLR and mirrorless market, offering a total package.

Has there been any demand from customers to introduce something like Dual IS into Canon’s mirrorless cameras?

We do get customers saying they want more and better IS. However, in the mirrorless market for us, it's all about satisfying the desire for a small, light-weight camera. In terms of introducing sensor-based stabilization into our EOS-M series, I think it will add weight, which might deter some of our mirrorless customers. Which is why we think optical IS is the way to go for us.

That said, we are aware that our competitors have already introduced this style of sensor-based stabilization. And we do see the merits of having optical and sensor based IS working together. What we’re looking at is trying to evolve ourselves in terms of developing technology so that we can downsize and reduce the weight of a sensor-based IS system.

You’d mentioned Wi-Fi capability being an area of focus in the future. Is that a result of user feedback? If so, what kind of feedback have users given?

Yes that is the result of direct user feedback, like that from our customer service centers. Most responses are regarding “how to use” Wi-Fi, which implies that many customers find it difficult to use. Overall, we can summarize what customers are looking for, regarding connectivity, is overall ease-of-use. To respond to that demand, we’re working to make connecting simpler and have incorporated Bluetooth technology into some of our cameras.

Do you have any plans to enter the VR or 360 markets?

We’re always looking to see what sorts of new visual means of expression we can offer to our customers, 360 imaging included. So, yes, we are considering how we can leverage 360 technology.

That said, we’re already seeing a lot of 360 cameras out there in the market. There are many players at the moment, but none have actually achieved big, great success. I think that’s telling, [and suggests that] that there is something lacking. In other words, if we were to come out with a Canon 360 camera, we would need to have Canon-like added value, ideas and concepts. Unless we do that I think there’s no meaning.

Do you think 360 is going to become the next 3D, where people talk about it for a few years, then it just goes away?

There is a lot of hype at the moment. But in terms of new visual expression, I think there is a value 360 technology adds to the visual world. i don’t think it will die out as 3D did.

Another way to look at it is 360 technology is not just about taking the photo, or the satisfaction of making an image , but how to display it, and how to leverage what you’ve actually taken. I think there has to be a total package for 360 technology to advance into the future. 

Will Canon introduce a VR camera like Nikon did with the KeyMission 360? Only if they see it adding value to the market.

We’ve seen several brands put out retro-style cameras in recent years. Canon has a long history in the analog camera market. Has there been any talk of launching a product that is a throwback to Canon’s film heritage?

I can't give a detailed answer to this question, but we do have these customer demands and we’re hearing them. But it's not to say we’ll be shifting a lot of focus onto such a product, but its rather we are feeling out of what the customer is looking for at the moment.

However I don’t think making such a camera is just about the retro design, it's about having a retro look and feel, but with the evolution of features Canon currently has to offer.

Tokyo Olympics are coming up in 2020, obviously we’ll see Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses on the sidelines. but how long do you think it will be before we see mirrorless cameras shooting major sporting events?

It's difficult to project into the future. Looking at mirrorless and it's current state at the moment, and the timeframe between now and 2020, I don’t think I can envisage mirrorless at the Olympic games.

People [like Reuters, AP etc.] who come as press to something like the Olympics and bring their own gear, obviously they can’t make mistakes - its a once in lifetime opportunity. So my guess is the majority will still be using the cameras they are used to for the time being. In other words, DSLRs.

Film sales are up in 2017. Has there been any talk of perhaps introducing a new Canon film camera? Like an EOS 1V Mark II?

I can say in terms of new products: doubtful. But there are people who still love film and we still offer the EOS-1v from our existing line of film cameras.


Editor's note:

We've interviewed Mr Tokura on several previous occasions, and we were pleasantly surprised with the responses what we received to a lot of questions. 

Specifically, it is encouraging to hear just how much Canon values the feedback of its customers. It seems like a lot of decisions about the future are based, at least in part, on customer feedback. All the more reason to be a vocal consumer!

On the same point, it's exciting to hear that Canon is beginning to regard 4K video capture as something that perhaps it needs to offer in all ILC products, regardless of price. I just hope it makes its way to the Rebel series soon. 

Canon's response to our question about a potential entry in the VR realm was interesting. Essentially, they feel that it is something they will only commit to if they truly feel like they can launch a 360 product that will do right by their customers. 

On a similar note, though we may never see an a digital reincarnation of the AE-1, it's pretty cool to hear that Canon is aware of a customer desire for a retro-designed Canon camera, but (unsurprisingly) won't make one unless it marries current tech with old-school design principles. 

That said, we were a little disappointed to see Canon continue to view mirrorless as a consumer technology and not as something with a potential, in the near future, to be something pro sports and photojournalists reach for.

Canon is a brand with a strong identity, and while we at DPReview may feel like perhaps they entered the mirrorless market a little on the late side, Canon's caution into jumping into industry trends too quickly doesn't seem to have done the company any obvious harm. But please, give us 4K at the consumer level. 

Feb
28

Opinion: Nikon’s ‘back to basics’ approach is a no-brainer

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

Feb
28

Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art pre-production sample gallery

Filed Under News: Digital Photography Review

The newly announced Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art has the low light shooters on our staff all excited. Super-wide lenses with such fast maximum apertures are rare, and we've got high hopes for one with Sigma's 'Art' designation. We jumped all over the chance to take a pre-production version of the lens out for a spin in Yokohama, Japan during CP+ 2017. We're looking forward to spending more time with the lens, but for now here are some initial samples. 

See our Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art
pre-production samples

Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

Please note that all samples in this gallery were taken with a pre-production lens