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2017.04.17

Hanoi

As I continue my Round-The-World trip, I have been camera-spotting on 4 continents! Keep in mind that these observations are based on a random sample but it is clear that the landscape of digital cameras have changed.

  • DSLRs are still very popular. We see tons of entry-level APS-C cameras, mostly with kit lenses, and also plenty of full-frame ones and high-end lenses, some also on mid-range DSLRs.
  • Mirrorless are extremely popular in Europe and the far-east. Japanese tourists and Western Europeans now sport much more mirrorless cameras than any other types.
  • South Americans prefer mirrorless and we see few DSLRs there. We still see a good number of standard point-and-shoot cameras. Canon and Sony are easily the most popular brands there.
  • Europeans are partial to mirrorless cameras, mostly sporting Olympus. A huge percentage of cameras carried by Europeans are OM-D or PEN, at least 70%. The rest of mirrorless seems mostly divided equally between Sony and Panasonic.
  • In Africa, cellphones dominate by a huge margin. Tourists from northern Europe and, in particular Russia, bring a lot of large full-frame DSLRs there, followed by a good number of full-frame Sony mirrorless.
  • Asia is still divided. The Vietnamese particularly carry a surprisingly high number of DSLRs, mostly APS-C entry and mid-level models. Japanese seem to carry at least 80% of mirrorless cameras. Here Fuji makes quite a showing, at least 40% of mirrorless. This is followed by Olympus and then by Panasonic in similar numbers.
  • Americans more often than not carry DSLRs. When not with a DSLR, we now see a good number of premium compacts, mostly from Sony. Premium Panasonic cameras also make frequent appearance in the hands of tourists in Asia. Lots of people still use ultra-zooms from Canon and Nikon as a travel camera.
  • Spotted exactly one Nikon 1 camera. Spotted exactly 2 Leica digital range-finder, on one couple which had matching cameras and lenses. The majority of people carry one DSLR per family, although see a number of couples with two or two mirrorless. There are couple with different systems (one Fuji, one Olympus, for example), does that cause many arguments? ūüôā

Mirrorless cameras are growing very strong. It is clear that Sony made some good sales! Fuji though has had the most dramatic progress. Before their mirrorless cameras were launched, Fuji has a small part of the market but now it is quite significant. Some of their premium cameras are quite popular too. Pentax, now under the Ricoh helm, is going the other way. Only 2 Pentax were spotted in the last two months of travel.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.04.12

Yesterday Nikon unveiled a new APS-C DSLR to replace the D7200 reviewed here with a revised design featuring the same class-leading sensor as the very recent Nikon D500. The Nikon D7500 has all capabilities expected of a professional digital camera. Its weatherproof body features a large 100% coverage viewfinder and dual control-dials, plus a high number of external controls including traditional mode-dial, drive-mode dial and a top-plate status display.

Nikon D7500

The big news is certainly that the D500 sensor has already been passed one camera down. Nikon is solidifying its lineup by have two parallel high-end APS-DSLRs, the D500 and D7500 now, just like it does among entry-level DSLRs with the D5600 and D3400. The main difference is that the D500 is faster and more durable. The sensor now used in the D7500 is remarkable as the most sensitive APS-C CMOS sensor to date. Its native sensitivity range is an impressive ISO 100-51200 yet expands to a stellar ISO 1.6 millions! Its resolution of 20 MP is slightly lower than the 24 MP of the D7200 it replaces. Note that this is not the first time a newer camera reduces the megapixels count compared to its predecessor.

This sensor is capable of 4K Ultra-HD video at 30 FPS vcapture thanks to the same EXPEED 5 processor also found in the D500. For maximum sharpness, the Nikon D7500 does not use an Anti-Alias filter. The processor is energy efficient, allowing the D7500 to capture 950 images on a single charge.

Despite not being top in the lineup, the D7500 is decidedly fast. It can shoot continuously at 8 FPS with a buffer for 50 RAW files or 100 JPEG images. The 51-Point Phase-Detect AF system covers a large portion of the frame and is capable of continuous autofocus during burst shooting.

Nikon D7500

New to this model is a slim tilting 3.2″ touchscreen LCD with 920K pixels. ¬†Its double hinge is flexible while keeping ¬†the screen aligned with the camera. The front has been redesigned slightly with a deeper grip.

The Nikon D7500 is scheduled to ship around the middle of Summer 2017 for a suggested retail price of $1249 USD or $1699 CAD.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.03.04

Copacabana Night

Greetings from Brazil loyal Neocamera Readers! Recently, I started an  80-day journey around the world, a life-long dream of mine.  The likelihood of being able to do this for me as akin to planetary alignment! This year though, all the pieces fell into place and so the work began to line up travel segments back-to-back to create a personal journey through 12 countries on 4 continents. Over the next 2 months, I will travel 36076 miles to completely circle the globe towards the East.

This amazing journey-of-a-lifetime is being chronicled on Facebook at CircleTheGlobe. Follow the adventure as I take my trusty and well-used digital cameras to capture the light across the globe. Stay tuned for plenty of photography, camera and travel articles, plus new expect new stunning fine-art travel photography at Neoluminance. Thank you for your readership and all the kind comments!

Neocamera Updates will Resume in Late May 2017.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.01.25

Ricoh unveiled this morning the Pentax KP, the first APS-C DSLR to finally feature triple control-dials, already having the only Full-Frame DSLR with triple control-dials, Ricoh has been keeping its lead when it comes to efficient camera operation. The new Pentax KP features a radical change from previous Рand absolutely superb Рergonomics which have remained nearly perfect since the introduction of the Pentax K-7.

Pentax KP

A new imaging pipeline makes its debut in the Pentax KP. At its core is a 24 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor without Anti-Alias Filter and mounted on a 5-axis image-stabilization system effective to 5-stops according to the CIPA standard. This new ultra-high sensitivity sensor offers a standard ISO range of 100 to 819200, besting all but one APS-C DSLR, the Nikon D500 which can reach a full-stop more sensitivity, although it needs to reach into Expanded Sensitivity range to do so. The KP has a new image processor that offers more controls over image rendering, including 4 levels of Clarity.

The KP is very full-featured and ready for professional use, although a number of features were cut back from the K-3 II. As any professional camera, it offers a 100% coverage viewfinder in a weatherproof body with plenty of controls. The optical viewfinder has a large 0.95X magnification while the body is actually freezeproof to -10C. As already mentioned, the KP offers triple control-dials, allowing direct control over all exposure parameters. Although the dial controlling the third control-dial function is not directly labelled with ISO, any of its 3 customizable positions can be set to sensitivity. The traditional Mode-Dial offers all Pentax modes, including Sensitivity Priority, TAv and 5 User modes. Bulb now allows timed exposures of up to 20 minutes, in additional to standard Bulb mode.

This new DSLR is a hair smaller than the K-3 II but 12% lighter at 700g, compared to 800g. The new design is less sturdy though since it has a tilting LCD on the rear, although tempered-glass still protects its surface. Several features have been omitted which puts in question that the KP can replace the K-3 II within the Pentax DSLR lineup. Compared to the latter, the KP lost its Dual SDXC Card-Slots, both IR Receivers, the GPS, the Sync-Port, the HDMI Connector and the top Status Display. The USB connection has been downgraded to USB 2.0 too. In terms of performance, the KP has a maximum continuous drive speed of 7 FPS vs 8.3 FPS and a maximum mechanical shutter-speed of 1/6000s vs 1/8000s. The Pentax KP makes up for the latter though with its Hybrid Shutter which can capture images at 1/24000s. Continuous Drive is further limited by a shallower buffer for 28 JPEG images or 8 RAW files, while the K-3 II manages 60 JPEG images or 22 RAW files.

Pentax KP

A few new features made their way into the Pentax KP. WiFi is the most obvious one and could potentially make up for the loss of IR receivers. This new camera still supports a Wired Remote-Release, although those are slowly getting out of style. Multiple Exposure and its automated version, called Interval Composite. can now merge up to 2000 frames. Interval Movie, aka Time-Lapse Video, can be recorded in 4K Ultra-HD with intervals up to 24h and up to 500 frames. When set to Full HD or less, up to 2000 frames may be used to create a Time-Lapse Video. A new Star Stream feature works similarly to Time-Lapse Video but is designed to capture star-trails in motion. With the removal of the built-in GPS, the KP gets back a built-in popup flash.

The extremely versatile Shake-Reduction mechanism offers the same benefits as previous cameras while its performance has been improved in many areas. Stabilization is now effective to 5-stops, up from 4.5. The mechanism can simulate an Anti-Alias filter with 2 or 3-frame bracketing available for the simulation. Sensor cleaning has been improved too with the new DR II system. Composition can be adjusted along 3-axis as before. The same mechanism that stabilized the sensor can correct for tilted horizons, up to 1¬į when Shake Reduction is enabled or 1.5¬į when disabled which is a little less than the 2¬į possible for previous¬†3-axis Shake-Reduction system.

Bracketing has been expanded to control which exposure parameter is changed between frames. Depth-Of-Field Bracketing changes Aperture, while Motion Bracketing changes Shutter-Speed. Both these new modes are limited to 3 frames, so 5-frame brackets usually vary both parameters.  WB and other Virtual Bracketing have been removed.

The autofocus system of the KP remains the same SAFOX 11 unit as on the K-3 II. It offers 27 AF-points, of which 25 are Cross-Type. Autofocus sensitivity still does down to an impressive -3 EV, albeit this is no longer class-leading.

The body offers a choice of 3 grip sizes which are all included as an introductory promotion. The layout of controls on the back of the camera remains very similar to the K-7 and onwards, although there are no longer separate AE-L and AF-L buttons.  Stills, Live-View and Video are neatly their own secondary modes now. The spring-loaded DOF-Preview function of the power-switch is now gone, as is the Metering button. It remains to be seen if the new Pentax KP design can indeed improve upon now classic Pentax ergonomics. Many elements remain the same, including the nearly-magical Green button, although the front control-dial has be completely changed and the new third control-dial plus its configuration dial take away space previously used for a top Status LCD.

The Pentax KP is scheduled to be available at the very end of next month for a price of $1099 USD. Canadian pricing has not been announced yet. Preorders are already being accepted by Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama which is running a promotion during the pre-ordering period. One lucky buyer of the KP will get their camera for free!

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.01.20

DxOMark just published their score for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the latest flagship mirrorless digital camera from Olympus. The Mark II version of the E-M1 is built around and entirely new imaging pipeline with a new 20 megapixels High-Speed CMOS sensor and TruePic VIII processor which together can deliver 60 FPS continuous drive and 4K video at 24 FPS. This speed is an entirely new level for a Micro Four-Thirds camera as is the launch price of $2000 USD.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II achieved a DxOMark score of 80, the highest of any Micro Four-Thirds digital camera by a significant margin, surpassing the excellent Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 reviewed here which scores an impressive 75. Breaking down the E-M1 Mark II score into its 3 components gives it 23.7 color bit-depth, 12.8 EV dynamic-range and a whopping 1312 Sports points which related to High-ISO performance. The previous champion scored 23.5 color bit-depth,, 12.6 EV dynamic-range and 806 Sports points. This means that the leap in performance is mostly due to vastly improved image-noise.

Sensor-size is still a big deal when it comes to image-quality. Physics say this should be so yet Olympus is managing to close the gap with its latest technological advancements. As a comparison, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II gets the same overall score of 80 as the Pentax K-3 reviewed here (as was as the current Pentax flagship, the K-3 II which uses the same sensor) and the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III. The K-3 was launched in 2013, while the 1Ds Mark III in 2007, meaning there is about a 4 year gap between Micro Four-Thirds and APS-C, while a 10 year gap between Micro Four-Thirds and Full-Frame.

Bit-depth is not that big a deal. Most cameras score rather closely with APS-C bit-depth being 24.8, just slightly over 1-bit per pixel more than the E-M1 Mark II. The best Full-Frame gets 26 bits, a little more than 1-bit extra. Medium Format leads this core with a respectable 26.5 bits-per-pixel.

Dynamic-range is much more critical to photography. Here, the best APS-C camera scores 14.1 EVs, while the best Full-Frame 14.8, compared to 12.8 EV for the latest Olympus mirrorless flagship. Recall that a one stop difference means twice the brightness can be captured in highlights. This is where sensor-size dominates the most. As such, Micro Four-Thirds cameras, even those launched over 3 years ago like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, do not score much less, 12.2 for the GX7 for example.

Low-light performance is also dominated by sensor-size, yet in this case can be minimized by sensor-design. The highest scoring APS-C camera scores 1438 which is less than half of what the best Full-Frame camera can deliver, which is 3702.  Surprisingly, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II scores a 1312 which is remarkably close to the best current APS-C score. This could mean that APS-C sensors are due for a refresh or that Olympus is managing to reach minimal noise from circuitry, leaving only Photon noise which is simply always there.

Did Micro Four-Thirds bring down the gap in terms of low-light performance as much as is physically possible? Only time well tell but, with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, there seems to be little reason to carry-on the bulk of an APS-C camera and its compatible lenses!

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

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