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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 – and absolutely superb – ergonomics 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° when Shake Reduction is enabled or 1.5° when disabled which is a little less than the 2° 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

2017.01.19

Ultra HD, also known as 4K video, is becoming a significant differentiation factor among camera buyers. While HD was of interest mostly to videographers, 4K video has enough resolution to interest photographers. With each frame having a resolution of 3840×2160 for 4K or 4096×2160 for Cinema 4K, there is now enough details to make a medium size prints from Ultra HD video. Each extracted image offers 8 MP at a 16:9 or slightly wider aspect-ratio.

Given that 4K is captured from 24 FPS to 60 FPS, this allows action to be captured at its peak by shooting a video and then extracting the desired frame. Many Panasonic cameras offer this feature with various options such as pre-buffering and continuous buffering. Even with a camera that simply record 4K, one can use Video Editing software to extract a frame. This can be taking further by applying Multi-Frame techniques to a group of frames extracted from 4K video.

For all these reasons and for those who are just looking for a 4K camera, Neocamera is introducing a new icon:

4K Video Icon

Just like all Neocamera icons, the new 4K Video icon will appear whenever the a camera that can record Ultra-HD video is listed or appears in a title. The Camera Search by Feature tool allows the direct selection of this icon to only show 4K-capable cameras. Results can be refined by the 4K icon should a search results in a set of cameras which contain both cameras that are 4K-capable and some that are not.

Enjoy Finding Your Next 4K Camera Now!

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.01.19

Fuji GFX 50S

Fuji unveiled the final version of their Medium Format Mirrorless Digital Camera. This is only the second such camera on the market with the Hasselblad X1D-50c just arriving at the end of last year. The new Fuji GFX 50S launches a new mirrorless platform based on a completely new Fuji G-mount.

The Fuji GFX 50S is built around a 51 megapixels CMOS sensor with 0.8X FLM and a 4:3 aspect-ratio. The sensor can output images at 3 FPS which the processor is fast enough to process in real-time with no buffer-depth limit. Outputing such huge RAW files is intense, so buffer-depth reduces to 13 frames in RAW mode. This mirrorless can also record 1080p HD video. Unlike the X1D-50c, the GFX 50 has a built-in Hybrid Shutter with a total shutter-speed range of 1/16000-30s, plus Bulb exposures up to an hour.

This mirrorless camera offers highly efficient ergonomics with dual control-dials, plus direct dials for ISO and Shutter-Speed. A number of customizable buttons are featured on the camera which also includes a top monochrome status display, a rear 2-axis tiling 2.4 megapixels 3.2″ LCD and a detachable EVF with a class-leading 3.7 megapixels and 0.85X magnification! This should make the GFX 50S one of the easiest and most efficient digital cameras to use on the market. The detachable EVF allows the insertion of an EVF tilt and rotation mechanism, for added flexibility. The body of the GFX 50S is fully weatherproof and freezeproof down to -10C.

Fuji expects to ship the GFX 50S at the end of next month for $6500 USD. Amazon, Adorama and B&H Photo are accepting pre-orders at these links.

Along with the new Medium Format Digital Camera, Fuji already unveiled 3 compatible G-mount lenses to be available around the same time:

All these lenses are weatherproof and freezeproof to match the camera. Follow the above links for their full specifications and pre-ordering options.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2017.01.19

Today Fuji announced three new cameras and four new lenses. Part of the announcement unveiled upgrades to two extremely well-regarded X-series cameras, the X100T and the X-T10. which is the smallest mirrorless camera to get awarded our rare Excellent+ rating.

Fuji X-T20

The Fuji X-T20 is looks extremely similar to its predecessor, keeping all of its ergonomics and controls. What has changed is a new 24 megapixels X-Trans CMOS III sensor with 425-Point Phase-Detect AF built-in. This sensor achieves one more stop of standard sensitivity and features much faster read-out. It can now shoot at 14 FPS with the Electronic-Shutter and record 4K video at 30 FPS.

The new X-T20 is expected to ship next month for $900 USD or $1200 CDN. Amazon, Adorama and B&H Photo are all ready to accept pre-orders at these links. Canadian customers may also order directly from Amazon Canada.

Fuji X100F

The Fuji X100F is the replacement for the aging X100T. This premium fixed-lens camera offers a rangefinder-style with a bright 35mm-equivalent F/2 lens. It provides the same Hybrid Viewfinder as its predecessor. Outside, the X100F adds a control-dial and AF-Point Selection joystick. The rest of changes are internal. It seems to use the same X-Trans CMOS III sensor with 425-Point Phase-Detect AF as the X-T20, although the processor cannot read-out as fast. Unlike the X-T20, the X100F can only record 1080p HD video and shoot at 8 FPS.

The Fuji X100F is scheduled to ship next month for $1200 USD or $1700 CDN. It can be pre-odered at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Adorama and B&H Photo.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

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