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Panasonic entered the digital camera market in 2001, and in 2006 produced the first of its popular ZS range (TZ outside the US), a series of cameras with a small body and a large zoom range designed to appeal to travellers.

It's safe to say that in the 10 intervening years, lots of advancements have been made, many of which Panasonic itself has been first to introduce. ZS / TZ cameras have proved a big hit over the years, and with the shift towards more high-end features in compact cameras, Panasonic has now raised its game with a new model, the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100.

The most noteworthy change that the ZS100 / TZ100 brings is the move from a 1/2.3-inch sensor like the unit found in the ZS60 / TZ80, to a much larger 1-inch type device with 20.1 million effective pixels. One inch sensors have become very popular in the past few years, first with Sony's RX100 range, and more lately, with Canon's latest G series compact cameras.

Features

  • 1.0-inch CMOS sensor, 20.1MP
  • 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9 zoom lens
  • 4K video capture

A 1.0-inch sensor immediately raises the ZS100 / TZ100 above the level of many other rival travel cameras. It's the same same sensor as is found in Panasonic's top-end bridge camera, the very successful Lumix FZ1000. In the ZS100 / TZ100, it is combined with a new Venus Engine processor and a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 25-250mm f/2.8-5.9 zoom lens. There's also Panasonic's Power OIS stabilisation system for stills photography and 5-axis hybrid OIS stabilisation for video.

Despite the increase in pixel count over that of last year's ZS50 / TZ70, the fact that the sensor is 4x larger in the ZS100 means that the pixels are 2.4x bigger, which should be very good news for image quality and noise control in particular. This has given Panasonic the courage to give the ZS100 a native sensitivity range of ISO125-12,800, and there are also expansion settings of ISO80, 100 and 25,600.

The 10x optical zoom means that Panasonic is describing the ZS100 as belonging to an entirely new sector of the travel compact market – premium superzoom. All of the other small form (pocketable) one-inch sensor cameras are limited in their zoom range, so it's quite exciting to see the company coming up with a camera which should appeal even more to travelling photographers.

Given Panasonic's enthusiasm for all things 4K, it's no surprise that the ZS100 has 4K recording capability (at 30 or 25 frames per second) and 4K Photo modes are present to make it easy to shoot 8MP still images at 30 frames per second (fps). There's also Panasonic's latest addition to the 4K fold, Post Focus mode. In this mode the camera takes a sequence of images with different focus distances and you can choose the shot in which your subject is sharp post capture.

In addition, the ZS100 has 4K cropping which enables the composition of 4K footage to be improved and down-sampled to Full HD in-camera.

Another cherry on the specification cake is the fact that the ZS100 can record raw files as well as JPEGs

Viewfinders are making a welcome comeback to compact cameras and the ZS100 / TZ100 has a 0.2-inch, 1,160,000-dot electronic viewfinder built-in to make it easier to compose images in bright ambient light. Naturally this is accompanied by a larger screen on the back of the camera, and in this instance it's a 3-inch 1,040,000-dot unit that is touch-sensitive. Helpfully there's an eye sensor to detect when the camera is held to the eye to switch off the main screen and activate the EVF.

Another cherry on the specification cake is the fact that the ZS100 can record raw files as well as JPEGs. This sits well with the aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes that accompany the automated shooting options. Also, the shutter speed may be set to 60-1/2000 secs when the mechanical shutter is in use or 1-1/16000 secs with the electronic shutter. It should therefore be possible to freeze very fast movement and use the widest aperture in bright light.

Interestingly, although Wi-Fi connectivity is present, NFC technology is not – Panasonic says that this hasn't proved as widely used as expected. In terms of competition, the ZS100 goes up against the latest one-inch compact cameras from rivals Sony and Canon, including the RX100 IV and the G7 X Mark II – but neither feature such extensive zooms. Arguably, therefore, the ZS100 doesn't currently have any close competitors.

Build and handling

  • Solid metal construction
  • Black and Silver and Black finishes
  • Weighs 310g

One of the most exciting aspects of the ZS100 / TZ100 is that it's not a great deal bigger than the ZS60 / TZ80 announced at the same time. It's about 6mm (0.236 inches) thicker than the ZS60, plus 2.2mm (0.0866 inches) longer and 0.5mm (0.0197 inches) wider. That makes it just about small enough to slip in a jeans pocket and it has a metal body shell that feels solid enough to suggest it would survive being carried in that way over a long period of time.

The ZS100 looks fairly similar to the LX100, Panasonic's other current premium compact. It has fairly clean lines, along with a step in the top-plate. The camera will be available in black, or black and silver finishes, with the black and silver version having a red band around the small silver portion of the top-plate. This is a new styling for Panasonic, so it will be interesting to see if this appears elsewhere in the future.

On the front of the camera there's no texture or grip, but there's an indent which helps the camera to sit nicely in your hand. Nevertheless, it makes sense to attach the wrist strap to give an extra degree of security.

Almost all of the ZS100's buttons are grouped towards the right hand side of the camera, making it easy to use one-handed. On top of the camera are two large dials. One is an exposure mode dial which means you can quickly switch between shooting modes (there's a collection of automated and scene modes, along with more advanced program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual options).

The second dial controls different functions depending on the shooting mode you're in. If you're working in aperture priority, you can use it to alter aperture, or shutter speed if in shutter priority. It's in a convenient position for your thumb and has a satisfying amount of stiffness when you turn it.

There's also a ring around the camera's lens which, again, has a different default function depending on the shooting mode. Both this and the dial on top of the camera can be customised to change something else if you prefer. There are also a further four function buttons (marked Fn), which each have default functions, but can be changed to suit a different purpose if you wish. There are five more "virtual" function buttons, which are accessed via the touchscreen and are also customisable.

The (physical) Fn3 button accesses the ZS100 / TZ100's quick menu by default. You can use this menu to move quickly between common settings, such as ISO, metering and white balance. By default, two of the function buttons are used to access the camera's 4K photo modes.

The ZS100's electronic viewfinder is ready for action at any time that the camera is powered up and it doesn't need to be popped out for use

Unlike the electronic viewfinder in Sony's popular RX100 III and RX100 IV compact cameras with 1-inch type sensors, the ZS100's electronic viewfinder is ready for action at any time that the camera is powered up and it doesn't need to be popped out for use. Furthermore, there's a sensor which automatically detects when the camera has been lifted to your eye to switch on the viewfinder, and switch the screen off. Although undoubtedly useful and a bonus on a pocketable compact camera, the ZS100's viewfinder is small, and while the image is clear and sharp, because of its small size it's unlikely you'll want to use the viewfinder for every shot.

The ZS100 / TZ100's screen is touch-sensitive, which means you can use it to set the focus point, simply tapping an area on the screen you want to use (if you have 1-Area focusing selected). You can also use it to navigate through and around the main menu and the function menu. If you don't like using touch screens, the good news is that everything can also be controlled by a physical button, or a combination of buttons, if you prefer.

In order to use the super fast shutter speeds that the electronic shutter facilitates, you'll need to change from mechanical shutter in the camera's main menu. Once you've done this, you can move past the 1/2000 fastest shutter speed offered by the mechanical shutter and reach speeds up to 1/16000.

Autofocus

  • 49-point AF
  • Face/Eye detection
  • Post-focus function

Lumix cameras have always delivered the goods when it comes to AF speed, and the ZS100 / TZ100 is no different - in good light you can expect the camera to lock-on quickly with almost no delay. 

Even when the light levels drop, the ZS100 performs very well, though the contrast-detect AF will start to struggle when light levels are really poor - but that's to be expected.

Performance

  • 10fps burst shooting (6fps with continuous AF)
  • Decent optical quality
  • 300 shot battery life

The ZS100 / TZ100's all-purpose metering system provides generally accurate exposures, only failing slightly when photographing something with areas of high contrast – but it's no more than we would expect from any camera. Similarly, the automatic white balance system copes well when faced with different lighting conditions. Slightly warmer tones are produced when photographing under artificial light, so if you're concerned with ultimate accuracy, either switch to a preset value or set a custom white balance.

Detail is kept well throughout the ZS100's optical zoom range, with roughly the same amount of detail at the far reach of the telephoto zoom as seen at the wide angle end.

The ability to shoot at 10 frames per second (fps) is pretty impressive, while even with it dropping down to 6fps when you want to use the ZS100's continuous AF is nothing to be sniffed at.

At 300 shots, battery life is reasonable, but if you're intending to use the viewfinder quite a bit, this does drop to 240 shots, so if you're going to be away for a long weekend or longer, then it might be worth thinking about investing in another battery.

Image quality

  • ISO125-12,800, expandable to 80-25,600
  • Can record plenty of detail
  • Pleasing images straight from camera

As the ZS100 / TZ100 uses the same sensor as the FZ1000, we had high hopes that image quality would be good. Happily, those hopes have been borne out both by results from our labs and real-world images.

JPEG images display a great amount of vibrance and punch, without straying too far into unrealistic territory, while the overall impression of detail is fantastic.

At normal printing (A4 or smaller) or on-screen viewing sizes, the ZS100's images, have detail comparable with shots taken on cameras with much larger sensors, such as the GF7 (which has a Four Thirds sensor). And at 100% on screen, despite a little smoothing, it's hard to tell the ZS100's low sensitivity JPEG images apart from the GF7's.

Our lab tests indicate that the ZS100 / TZ100 competes very strongly with the Sony RX100 IV and Canon G5 X, all of which have 1.0-inch type sensors

Our lab tests indicate that the ZS100 / TZ100 competes very strongly with the Sony RX100 IV and Canon G5 X, all of which have 1.0-inch type sensors. For signal to noise ratio, the ZS100 beats the other cameras on test throughout the ISO 100-800 range, and most significantly at ISO200. From ISO 1600, the ZS100 is extremely closely matched to the other cameras, while at ISO 3200, the ZS100 beats both the Sony and the Canon.

It's a slightly more complicated picture for the raw format files, where at the lower end of the scale (ISO100-200) the ZS100 is beaten by the Sony and Canon cameras, but from ISO800 right up to ISO12,800, it beats all of the other cameras on test.

For dynamic range, the story is also a little more patchy. For JPEG images taken at the lower end of the scale (ISO200-800), the ZS100 is beaten by the Canon and Sony, but is still pretty good. At 1600, the ZS100 is pretty much tied with the Sony and Canon, while at ISO3200, the Canon beats the ZS100 very slightly, but the ZS100 beats the Sony. At 6400, all of the cameras are closely matched, but at 12800, the ZS100 wins out more significantly.

Looking at the raw format files, performance is particularly impressive. Although at ISO200 it is beaten ever so slightly by the Canon, from ISO 400 the ZS100 beats the other cameras on test, at times by quite a significant margin.

In terms of resolution, we can use a combination of the labs test and the real world images to make a judgement on how well detail is resolved. At the low-medium end of the ISO run (ISO200-1600), the ZS100 is capable of matching Canon's G5 X sensor, and is slightly worse than Sony's RX100 IV. However, at the higher end of the spectrum (ISO3200-6400), it's better than Canon and matches the Sony's capability, while at 12,800, the ZS100 is the best performer.

Looking at a corresponding raw file, it's clear that the camera is applying a fair amount of noise reduction to JPEG images. While that noise reduction generally results in natural-looking, low-noise images, if you're photographing something particularly detailed, you may appreciate the ability to bring that back by editing the raw format files.

When all noise reduction is turned off, images taken at ISO3200 (see shot above) and 6400 have visible chroma noise at 100%, but it's fairly evenly spread throughout the image and therefore easily tackled by noise reduction software. Even without noise reduction being applied the images still look decent at normal printing and viewing sizes.

Using the electronic shutter allows you to shoot at wide apertures in bright sunlight – this image above has been taken with a 1/16000 sec shutter speed.

Verdict

Panasonic takes aim squarely at the pocket-friendly 1.0-inch sensor compact camera market with the ZS100 / TZ100, upping the stakes with a 10x optical zoom, something which other manufacturers haven't yet produced.

Although 1.0-inch sensors aren't particularly new or exciting any more, when you couple one with a 10x optical zoom, the resulting camera becomes a much more flexible option which is bound to appeal to travelling photographers looking for something high quality, but convenient.

The ZS100 / TZ100 produces lovely JPEG images, while the raw format images give you good scope to bring out extra detail should you need it. The sensor happily competes with Sony and Canon, who have so far been the big players in the 1.0-inch sensor market. The large sensor facilitates decent low-light shooting, making it a good all-rounder camera.

It's also an enjoyable camera to use, with a good number of buttons and dials, a very responsive touch sensitive screen and an (albeit small) electronic viewfinder. There's also inbuilt Wi-Fi and a range of creative filters. It would perhaps have been nice to see a tilting or articulating screen, but that may have added extra bulk, and certainly extra cost to the camera.

Panasonic claims that it has created a new segment of the market with this camera, and it's hard to disagree with that claim.

Competition

Posted: December 13, 2017, 10:25 am

The Sony Alpha A5000 was the fourth compact system camera from Sony to appear after the company decided to drop its NEX name for E-mount cameras. Instead it uses the Alpha brand, often shortened simply to "A".

[Update: The Sony Alpha A5000 was launched at the start of 2014 and has since been superseded by the A5100, while higher models in the Alpha range have since become more competitively priced. A good entry-level option, but if your budget will stretch to it, you'd be better off with the 24MP Alpha A6000.]

The first model was the Sony a3000, an entry-level camera with a DSLR like design, more akin to the A-mount entry-level Alphas offered by the next company. The next two were the Alpha 7 and Alpha7R, two high-end, full-frame cameras.

Sony refreshes its range of compact system cameras, especially those at the lower – middle end of the ranges, roughly every 12 months. The a5000 was announced at CES and is a replacement for the NEX-3N. It sits below the NEX-5T, which is yet to be replaced, and the A6000, the camera which now sits at the top end of Sony's enthusiast APS-C range.

Sony A5000

Whereas the A7 and A7R are aimed at enthusiast and professional photographers, the a5000 joins the a3000 at the entry-level end of the line-up. This camera however takes the familiar NEX shape we've been used to for some time now, with a flat, compact (body only) design.

That's not to say it doesn't feature some of the features from those cameras higher up in the range. Inside the Sony Alpha a5000 is an APS-C format Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor with 20.1 million effective pixels and the same Bionz X processor as found in the A7, A7R and the recently announced A6000.

This combination allows sensitivity to be set up to ISO 16,000, but the maximum continuous shooting rate is more modest at just 2.5fps, or 3.5fps in Speed Priority Continuous shooting mode.

Although aimed at novices, the Alpha 5000 has advanced exposure modes (program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual) in addition to iAuto, Superior Auto, Scene selection and Sweep panorama for less experienced photographers. This means that users have room to grow as they learn about the camera.

Picture effects

There are also 13 Picture Effects such as High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera and HDR Painting that can be applied to JPEG images. Raw files can also be recorded, but not at the same time as using the Picture Effects.

There is no viewfinder on the A5000, but the 3-inch 460,000-dot LCD screen is a tilting unit that can be tipped up through 180 degrees to help when shooting selfies. It's worth noting that there is also no hotshoe or accessories port, so you can't add any external accessories to the camera.

In addition, NFC and Wi-Fi technology is on-board, with the former allowing quick connections to be made to NFC mobile devices such as Android smartphones and tablets.

The Wi-Fi connectivity enables Sony's PlayMemories Camera Apps to be downloaded to the A5000 to add extra functionality. These include options such as Direct Upload that enables images to be uploaded to Facebook, PlayMemories Online or Flickr; Smart Remote Control that enables the camera to be controlled by a phone or tablet; and Time Lapse to enable easy time lapse movie creation.

The a5000 is billed as the world's smallest APS-C sized interchangeable lens camera. It's not as small as the tiny Panasonic GM1, but that has a smaller (in comparison to APS-C), Micro Four Thirds sensor. The a5000 competes with other entry-level compact system cameras such as the Samsung NX2000, Panasonic GF6 and Olympus PEN E-PM2.

The a5000 is very similar in size, style and shape to the NEX-3N, which it replaces. Although the camera is in the flat, compact style of other NEX CSCs, it has a chunky grip which is textured and feels very secure in the hand. With heavy cameras, it's fairly unlikely that you'll often be using it one handed, but the a5000 is very light, so there's a good chance you might – in which case that chunky grip really makes it feel steady.

Additionally, almost all of the buttons on the a5000 are grouped on the right hand side of the camera, making them easy to reach with the thumb, again a good indicator that the camera is designed to be used one handed.

On top of the camera, around the shutter release button, is a switch for turning the camera on and off. There's also a zoom lever which you can use when a power zoom lens is mounted to the camera, such as the 16-50mm kit lens – you can also use a switch on this lens itself if you prefer. The zoom lever on the top of the camera is also used for zooming into images in playback to check focus.

Also on top of the camera (but at an angle so as to not accidentally knock it) is a dedicated movie record button. The only button not to be grouped on the right hand side of the camera is the button which is pressed to lift the flash, which can be found on the left hand side of the camera, next to the pop-up flash unit.

On the back of the camera is the tilting LCD screen. This is neither touch screen, nor fully articulated. It only tilts up, which makes it useful for shooting from above, or for self portraits (it tilts so far as to fully face the front); but for shooting from above, or portrait format images, it's less useful.

Sony A5000

As with most other Sony cameras, many of the buttons on the back of the camera can be customised to the settings you use most often, which is useful. There is a dial which doubles up as a four-way navigational pad, each of the directional keys here can be customised, as well as the button in the centre of the pad.

There's also another button in the bottom right of the camera, which has a question mark on it, which can be set to a particular function.

As there's no dial anywhere on the camera to switch between different shooting modes, such as aperture priority, fully automatic, manual and scene modes, this can be done in one of two ways. You can either navigate to Shoot Mode in the main menu (via the menu button), or you can set one of the custom buttons to quickly access Shoot Mode.

The scrolling dial on the back of the camera is used for altering aperture or shutter speed, depending on the mode you're shooting in. If you're shooting in fully manual, you'll need to press the down directional key (set to exposure compensation by default) to switch between the two parameters. If you're shooting in shutter priority or aperture priority, press the down key to access exposure compensation then use the dial again to dial in or down however much compensation you need.

Autofocus

Setting the autofocus point, as we've found with other Sony cameras, can be frustratingly laborious. There's no dedicated button for changing the autofocus point, but you can set one of the focus buttons to change the Focus Area, after which you'll be able to move around the screen to the point you require.

There seems to be no quicker way to do this, and it's a little annoying when you want to quickly move the spot. A touchscreen here would have made this very easy – but Sony seems very resistant to using this technology on all of its cameras. We'd recommend if you're looking for speed, setting the autofocus point to the centre and focusing and recomposing, only changing the autofocus point if you have the time (or inclination).

Sony has decided to simplify its menu systems across the range, so the NEX menu of old is no more – something which we're pleased about since that was a little confusing at times. Instead, the menu here is similar to those found on Alpha DSLRs, and will be the menu found on all Sony cameras from here on in.

This menu is sensibly laid out, being split up into different areas, such as camera settings, custom settings, playback and setup. It doesn't take long to get used to, and it's worth exploring the setup for some time to get used to the layout.

All of Sony's recent cameras have impressed us a lot when it comes to image quality. Generally speaking, some of the quirks of handling are usually more than made up for by the fact that image quality is so good.

Happily, the a5000 has proven itself to be no different. Once again, images contain lots of fine detail, while colours are beautifully saturated.

We were similarly impressed by images from the NEX-3N, and saw no reason why the a5000 would be any worse. In fact, including the latest Bionx X processor, should have a positive impact on results.

Bionz X processor

One of the benefits of the Bionz X processor is a reduction in noise when shooting at higher sensitivities. At ISO 800, noise is controlled very well, while lots of detail is kept. A small degree of image smoothing can be seen at the lower end of the sensitivity scale, while this increases as you move through the ISO range.

At ISO 3200, noise is apparent when zooming in to 100% - some areas of an image start to have a painterly effect, but, when viewing images at normal printing or web sizes, such as A4 or below, images are very good and more than acceptable to use. We'd happily use up to ISO 3200 for any images that weren't going to be printed at a very large size.

The automatic white balance setting is very good, producing accurate colours even under artificial lighting in the majority of instanceswe used it. You can alter the specific setting if you find it's not quite matching up to the correct whites, but we found that this wasn't necessary most of the time.

It's great to see accuracy in this area, where previous cameras tended to err towards orange or warm tones under artificial lights. Similarly, all-purpose metering does a good job in the majority of conditions in helping to produce a well-balanced exposure.

Although the A5000 doesn't claim speeds as quick as its more advanced stablemate, the A6000, or indeed Micro Four Thirds cameras, it is still pretty quick to focus, especially in good light. Focusing speeds drop a little in lower light, sometimes hunting around for a while before locking on, but it's rare for a false focus to be presented.

Sony A5000

The kit lens supplied with the A5000 is a 16-50mm PZ lens which we have seen before on other models including the 3N and the 5T. It's a decent all-round performer, offering a flexible focal length that will suit a good variety of subjects. Even though the maximum aperture of this lens is f/3.5 you can still get some nice shallow depth of field effects, thanks to the camera's large sensor.

Sony has some good additional lenses in its line-up, and while that number isn't quite as large as the number of proprietary Micro Four Thirds optics, there are quite a few useful additions.

During this test we also used a 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is great for shallow depth of field effects, portraits, or if you're shooting in low light, and would make a good second lens. We also used a 30mm f/3.5 macro lens, which is good for shots which require a lot of detail, such as still life.

A number of digital filters, such as Toy Camera, can be found on the A5000, which are worth experimenting with. It's a shame that you can't shoot these in raw format, so if you decide that you don't like the filter down the line, then you'll be stuck with it. If you want to be a little more flexible, then you can choose different Creative Styles. These allow you to shoot in raw format, and include settings such as Monochrome, Vivid and Portrait.

As part of our image quality testing for the Sony A5000 review, we've shot our resolution chart. These images were captured using a full-production sample of the camera.

For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our camera testing resolution charts.

Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:

ISO100

JPEG

ISO 100

ISO 100, Score: 26. Click here to see the full resolution image.

ISO 200

ISO 200, Score: 26. Click here to see the full resolution image.

ISO 400

ISO 400, Score: 26. Click here to see the full resolution image.

ISO 800

ISO 800, Score: 24. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO1600

ISO 1600, Score: 24. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO3200

ISO 3200, Score: 22. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 6400

ISO 6400, Score: 20. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 12800

ISO 12800, Score: 16. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 16000

ISO 16000, Score: 12. Click here to see full resolution image.

RAW

ISO 100

ISO 100, Score: 26. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 200

ISO 200, Score: 26. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 400

ISO 400, Score: 24. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 800

ISO 800, Score: 24. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 1600

ISO 1600, Score: 24. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 3200

ISO 3200, Score: 22. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 6400

ISO 6400, Score: 22. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 12800

ISO 12800, Score: 18. Click here to see full resolution image.

ISO 16000

ISO 16000, Score: 12. Click here to see full resolution image.

We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.

A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.

For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.

Here we compare the Sony A5000 with the Fuji X-A, the Panasonic GF6 and the Olympus E-PM2.

JPEG signal to noise ratio

JPEG signal to noise ratio

In this graph we can see that the A5000 puts in a relatively consistent performance which is pretty closely matched with the Panasonic GF6 and the Olympus PEN E-PM2. It is the Fuji X-A1 which really storms ahead here though, producing better results, by quite some margin, at every sensitivity setting.

Raw signal to noise ratio

Raw signal to noise

For the raw (after conversion to TIFF) files, it's a similar story here, with the A5000 putting in a decent performance. It is however beaten by the Panasonic GF6 and Olympus PEN E-PM2at the same sensitivities. At the very lowest sensitivity (ISO 100), it is almost exactly tied with the Fuji X-A1, but the Fuji takes over from ISO 400 and above.

JPEG dynamic range

JPEG dynamic range

For dynamic range, the Sony A5000 puts in a good performance in JPEG files across the sensitivity range. It is beaten by the Olympus PEN E-PM2 at every sensitivity, but it comfortably beats the Fuji X-A1, which has a much flatter dynamic range. In the Fuji's defence, this type of graph is borne out by warmly saturated, pleasing to the eye images, whereas the Sony's are more accurate.

RAW dynamic range

Raw dyanamic range

In terms of the raw files (after conversion to TIFF), the A5000 is very closely matched with the X-A1, demonstrating the processing that Fuji cameras apply to its JPEG images. This suggests that colours from the A5000 are very natural and true to life, something which I have found to be true in real-world testing. It is however the Olympus PEN E-PM2 which steals the show here, beating all of the cameras on test by a considerable amount, at every sensitivity.

1

Click here to see the full resolution image

The A5000 copes well when shooting in low light, producing bright, detailed images while keeping noise to a minimum.

2

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The 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens is a decent optic for a carry around lens, and seems likely to be the lens that most users will stick with.

3

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The A5000's metering system copes well in the majority of conditions, sometimes slightly under exposing meaning you need to dial in some positive exposure compensation.

4

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Creative Styles allow you to experiment with a different look for your images, without losing the ability to shoot in raw format. If you decide you want a colour version down the line, you'll be able to rescue it from the raw file.

5

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The A5000's sensor is capable of resolving lots of fine detail.

6

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Colours straight from the camera are bright and punchy, showing a nice level of vibrance and saturation without looking unnatural.

7

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There is a good range of lenses available for the Sony E mount. Since Sony has removed the NEX branding from its E-mount range of cameras, be careful which type of lens you're buying. This was shot with a 30mm f/3.5 macro lens.

8

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You can get attractive shallow depth of field effects from the A5000, thanks to its larger sensor.

9

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Another image shot with the 30mm f/3.5 macro lens. This kind of lens makes for a good second lens as it offers a 45mm equivalent focal length - a classic length for a variety of different subjects.

9

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Noise at mid-range sensitivities, like ISO 640, is hardly present at all - even when zooming in at 100%.

10

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At higher sensitivities, such as ISO 3200 here, noise is much more apparent when examining an image at 100%, but at normal printing and web sizes, it's much harder to see.

11

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The camera's automatic white balance system copes well in the majority of conditions to produce accurate colours.

13

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Another example of pleasingly saturated colours, straight from the camera.

14

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If you want to boost the saturation of images, you can alter Picture Styles to up the contrast. This has the advantage of being able to be shot in raw format, meaning you can view a "clean" version of the image.

15

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The 50mm f/1.8 lens for E mount is useful for shooting portraits, offering an equivalent focal length of 75mm.

16

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The 50mm f/1.8 lens also makes a good walkaround lens for street photography and so on, helping to isolate the subject from the background.

16

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The A5000 is suited to a wide range of subjects, including landscapes.

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Sony has been making cameras for long enough to know what its doing, and it hasn't produced any duds in some time. The a5000 joins the list as another reliable, solidly built compact system camera which will particularly appeal to beginner cameras.

It's ideally pitched at those looking for their first interchangeable lens camera, while its size and body shape make it likely to appeal to those who are stepping up from a mobile phone or compact camera.

The a5000 is capable of producing some great quality images which are packed with detail, are great at high sensitivities and have beautiful, warm colours. The kit lens is a decent performer, while the lens range for Sony E-mount cameras is good, and growing, so it's a system you can buy into and grow with.

Sony A5000

On the one hand, it's true that Sony puts a lot of thought into the way that people want to use its cameras, with options to customise buttons being a welcome one. On the other hand, some options are just that little bit more difficult than they should be. It shouldn't be so fiddly to change the autofocus point for instance.

We feel like we're repeatedly banging the same drum here, but a touchscreen would make this operation so much easier. Given that this camera is aimed at beginners who are probably used to touchscreens and Sony has this technology at its disposal, it's pretty disappointing that it chooses not to include one on its cameras.

It's nice though that the camera includes a tilting screen. As it only tilts up, it's not particularly useful for several angles, but for users who want to take self-portraits or shoot video, it is helpful.

There's plenty here to appeal to the creative photographer, with a range of digital filters being particularly appealing. It's also nice to have a panoramic mode, and Creative Styles for when you want to shoot in raw format. Again though, it's disappointing that digital filters can only be shot in JPEG only, not least because you'll need to dive into the menu and switch raw shooting off when you want to use them.

If you can possibly stretch to the extra cash, then the NEX-5T might be a wiser investment for those who might want something a little more advanced in the future. Not only does it produce great images, but it also has a touchscreen and an accessories port if you did want to attach a viewfinder or external flash.

We liked

This camera's small size is its headline feature, and Sony has done a good job of miniaturising to make a very small APS-C format camera. Although it's not as small as the Panasonic GM1, the sensor size is also significantly larger, so that's worth bearing in mind. The kit lens also retracts into itself, making the overall package small enough to fit in a large jacket pocket, and very neatly into a kit bag.

We disliked

Although this is an entry-level camera, it would be nice if Sony gave a little bit more for your money at this end of the range. While we appreciate that adding a touchscreen potentially bumps up the cost, it would make some of the frustrations of using the camera virtually non-existent. That aside, images are great, so if you can live with some of those quirks, or you're not the kind of user that is changing settings all that frequently, it is a good buy.

Final Verdict

Another decent, well performing camera from Sony here. The A5000 is a good buy for those looking for their first compact system camera, offering a decent range of options for both beginners and those who are a little more experienced.

Posted: December 13, 2017, 9:18 am

Will the 360-degree video format ever really catch on? The jury's still out, and it probably hinges on the extent to which virtual reality headsets take off. Realizing that videographers are hesitant about spending big money on 360-degree gear, Detu has come out with the Twin, a simple and affordable 360-degree camera aimed at casual users looking to capture footage that's a bit different to upload to social media. 

At around $180 / £200 / AU$275 the Twin is much more affordable than its closest competitor, the Ricoh Theta S, but that low price does set the alarm bells ringing. Can a 360-degree camera really deliver the goods at this price point?

Features

Let's not pretend the Detu Twin is anything other than an attempt to undercut the very similar-looking Ricoh Theta S, one of the more successful – and certainly one of the simplest – 360 cameras around.

It's got the same dual f/2.0 fisheye lenses that record video at 30fps, although while its rival manages Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) from each camera, the Detu Twin takes that down to a stretched HD-ready 1440 x 720 pixels, which isn't that much when you're filming a 360-degree landscape.

The Detu Twin establishes its own Wi-Fi Direct network to which you can connect a phone or tablet for the purposes of remote operation, video/photo uploads to a phone or to Facebook or YouTube, and – an upcoming feature not available at the time of this review – livestreaming to those same social sites. 

Design

Like the Ricoh Theta S, the Detu Twin is designed to be held in one hand. The two lenses are arranged on either side of the top of the device, with the standby and Wi-Fi buttons on one side.

It's a slightly flawed design; during operation it's too easy to switch off the Detu Twin while recording a video. However, the actual record button is a thumb-friendly design on the product's front. When you hold it down it lights up and makes a noise as recording begins, although when you're outdoors it's very easy not to see or hear these all-important notifications.

After seeing so many 360° cameras that can only be used while mounted on a phone – essentially limiting them to being used only for novelty selfies – it's a relief to see that the Detu Twin has a standard tripod thread on its base.

This unleashes some creative options, as you don't have to be in the video yourself (a 'set and forget' approach to 360-degree cameras is, in our opinion, one of the format's most appealing uses). So not only can the Detu Twin be used with any tripod and thus be positioned anywhere, but a selfie stick can be used to give it some height, and to keep the user out of shot. 

Alongside the tripod thread on the bottom of the camera are a small microphone and a mini HDMI output for linking the Detu Twin to a TV. It's also great to see a microSD card slot under a flap on the side, which can accept cards up to 64GB. Alongside that is a micro USB slot for recharging. 

Performance

The Detu Twin is easy to use, but provides only a short-lived experience. Despite being fully charged, our review sample failed to make it through a day of sporadic use. In total we managed just over 15 minutes of footage, which isn't much at all, although it's not much less than the Ricoh Theta S's 25 minutes.

Sadly the Twin can't be used while it's charging, although it would make sense to carry a portable power pack with you if you're out for the day, so that you can recharge the camera when you're not shooting with it. 

The 360 videos and JPEGs produced by the Detu Twin are of basic quality. Those 3040 x 1520 pixels – technically a 3K resolution – are stretched a long way, and the camera's MP4 files often blurry and blocky, although at least they're reasonably colorful.

The Twin works best when subjects are relatively close to the camera. It's also wise to make sure the main subjects – especially if they're people – are in full view of one or other of the lenses to avoid an odd-looking effect they won't thank you for; the parallax stitching that the Detu Twin performs in-camera is actually very good, but it's not quite perfect, although the line is barely noticeable on backgrounds (partly because of the low resolution video). 

App

Initially the app impresses. We were quickly able to connect to the Detu Twin's Wi-Fi network to edit and share videos from an iPhone, and it's also possible to monitor and operate the camera remotely via the app.

During our tests we had some issues sustaining a connection to the Twin, although after installing the camera's latest firmware we were able to start and finish video recording solely via the app without any stalls or drop-outs. 

The app itself is mostly impressive. It’s easy enough to transfer files to a phone, or to share them online, with various format options ranging from 'tiny planet’ to flat panorama.

However, we found the 30-second sharing limit on videos, which wasn't obvious at the outset, extremely irritating. In practice a 31-second video can be uploaded, but no more, which leaves any longer footage largely useless. 

Verdict

While it can't match the Ricoh Theta S for image quality, the far more affordable Detu Twin is nevertheless a decent entry-level product that would suit someone wanting to tip their toes into the world of 360 video.

It's easy to use and fun to experiment with, and its tripod/selfie stick thread opens up a lot of creative possibilities. However, the basic video quality, the 30-second limit on shared videos, and the super-short battery life (take a portable power pack) mean the Detu Twin can't be regarded as much more than a novelty camera. 

Posted: December 11, 2017, 3:28 pm

The Essential Review

This is TechRadar's review summary, which gives you all the key information you need if you're looking for quick buying advice in 30 seconds – our usual full, in-depth review follows.

The Fujifilm X-A3 is a great camera with a vintage-ish look that produces consistently good images. 

Designed as step-up from both a smartphone and a point-and-shoot compact, this entry-level mirrorless camera is reasonably priced, and reasonably easy to get to know, while images can be quickly transferred to a phone via the basic, but comprehensive and reliable, Fujifilm Camera Remote app. 

Fujifilm is clearly aiming this advanced camera at those who love taking photos, but who are aware that most of the best snaps they see on Instagram are taken with a 'proper' camera rather than a phone. Hence the attempt to woo the vain with a 180-degree tilting LCD screen and a mostly-effective 'smile' mode that takes a photo if it detects a cheeky grin. Ditto its dozens of Instagram-style filters and best-in-class Film Simulation modes.

Despite these everyman features though, the X-A3's user interface is as retro as its exterior, and will present something of a learning curve for beginners. 

There's no built-in electronic viewfinder (you'll have to pay a bit more for something like the Fujifilm X-E3 if you want one), but if you're the kind of photographer who doesn't mind composing their shots on an LCD screen, the X-A3's is pretty good; it's colorful and contrasty, with a wide viewing angle. 

Any photo taken on the X-A3 will indeed look much better than a phone can manage, but full creative control isn't as easy as on a DSLR, if that's what you're after. This is certainly a camera aimed at those looking for good-quality photos without getting bogged down in photography basics.

Reasonably small and lightweight, easy to use and – most importantly – supplying reliably detailed and colorful, clean images, the Fujifilm X-A3 has very few annoyances and is a likeable, dependable and good-value camera, with a capable 16-50mm kit lens. 

Who's it for and should I buy it?

Fujifilm is clearly aiming this advanced compact at those who love taking photos – including plenty of selfies – and who are ready to make the jump from their smartphone to a 'proper' camera. 

However, despite the X-A3 not being exceptionally complicated to operate, it's still a lot to take on for the average 'phoneographer'. Persevere though, and you'll be rewarded with colorful and detailed images that are a huge leap forward from those taken on your smartphone. 

Fujifilm X-A3 price

  • Current price: £479 / $549 / AU$949 with 16-50mm lens 

A good value mirrorless camera that's all about the images

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • JPEG and raw files
  • 16-50mm kit lens

For a relatively compact camera, the Fujifilm X-A3 features a large sensor – it's a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, similar in size to those in many DSLRs. While the resolution is identical to that offered by its more expensive siblings like the X-E3, X-T20 and X-T2, there's a subtle difference in the actual design of the sensor. Rather than getting Fujifilm's X-Trans technology, the chip here gets a more standard primary color filter design, and while there's nothing wrong with that per se, it won't quite be a match for its premium siblings in the image quality stakes.

The X-A3 has a native ISO range of 200 to 6400, which is expandable up to ISO25,600 if necessary, though we'd avoid using this other than as a last resort. The autofocus system is generally impressive, if not the quietest. 

The camera comes with an XC16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II lens as standard, which is versatile enough to suit most for everyday photography. However, the beauty of the mirrorless camera genre – aside from the reasonably lightweight, travel-ready form-factor – is the option to swap-out lenses, and, equipped with a standard Fujifilm X Series lens mount, the X-A3 is compatible with more than 30 different lenses. 

Unlike models higher up the Fujifilm range, the X-A3 can't shoot video in 4K, just Full HD. That's just as well, as the often-slow X-A3 certainly doesn't have the processing power to handle 4K. 

Retro design meets solid and simple handling

  • Lightweight at just 339g
  • 180-degree tilting touchscreen
  • Faux-leather exterior finishes

As with most Fujifilm cameras, there's a touch of retro about the X-A3. Our review sample came in a two-tone brown faux leather and metallic finish (it's also available with black or pink faux leather), and while there are some aluminium parts (including the front cover, top plate and top dials), it does have quite a plasticky feel. 

On the right-hand side of the camera is a rigid flap covering a micro USB slot via which you recharge the X-A3 (which we find preferable to a battery charging cradle) alongside a micro HDMI output. The undercarriage holds a compartment for the battery (rated at 410 shots) and a SD card slot. 

There's a fairly standard menu system that will be easy enough to master for DSLR owners, but likely off-putting to anyone upgrading from a smartphone

The X-A3's physical controls are limited, both by the size of the body and the camera's ambitions. On the front of the camera, next to the lens, is a tiny dial for toggling between single, continuous and manual shooting, while the back contains shortcuts to autofocus, timer, burst shooting and white balance settings.

There's a fairly standard menu system that will be easy enough to master for DSLR owners, but likely off-putting to anyone upgrading from a smartphone (there are eight pages of multi-screen lists). 

There are also buttons to initiate video recording, which is always helpful, and the usual 'quick menu' button for accessing oft-needed tweaks such as ISO, white balance and aspect ratio. A dial on the top of the camera is required to toggle through everything, and using this becomes second nature pretty quickly, while a second dial proved useful for manually adjusting exposure. 

The X-A3's LCD screen with 180-degree tilt presents some nifty usability options. For example, you can use the X-A3 to take selfies by turning the LCD screen 180-degrees and pulling it up slightly so that you can see your entire mug (albeit upside-down, but it's enough for framing purposes). Its 'smile mode' for selfies works really well, although in our tests it was also triggered by some random inanimate objects that definitely weren't smiling. 

The more serious photographer will appreciate that flip-up screen making it  easier to shoot over the heads of crowds, or to get down close to the floor and take shots from unusual angles without having to kneel/lie on the ground.

In our tests with an iPhone the Fujifilm Camera Remote app worked reasonably well; it allowed us to remotely operate the camera and make manual adjustments (most obviously to ISO and exposure compensation), and consistently maintained a connection over Wi-Fi. 

It's pretty much a one-page app, and when trying to escape from the remote viewing page the app always wants to disconnect from the camera, although despite this quirk we were able to transfer a batch of images successfully several times in a row. 

Image quality

  • Images have decent levels of detail 
  • Film Simulation modes are great
  • Panoramic mode 

Although we had a few different lens options for this review, we mainly used the 16-50mm kit lens that most buyers will get. This is restricted to f/3.5-5.6 aperture, but proved a good general-purpose lens in our tests.

It features a built-in anti-shake system, and handheld shots impressed, with autofocus working well (though its constant beeps and whirs get annoying). Touchscreen focusing is also possible, though it's best avoided if you want maximum sharpness. 

In another nod to the Instagram generation, the X-A3 has a decent selection of artistic filters. There are 10, including Nostalgic (to who?) Toy Camera, Miniature, which adds graduated blurring to give scenes the appearance of table-top models, and a Fisheye distortion effect. In addition you get Fujifilm's excellent Film Simulation modes, which provide more subtle and satisfying results, with 11 options to choose from.

The X-A3 does have a few other 'novelty' modes, and for the most part they work well. Hidden in the Advanced Filter menus is a Panoramic drag-and-drop mode, which makes a very loud fake shutter noise (the volume of which can be turned down), and produces a fairly soft image. There are also a plethora of selfie modes. 

The panoramic mode is easy to use and delivers pretty good results

Not convinced? Try these

If the Fujifilm X-A3 mirrorless camera isn’t for you, here are three excellent alternatives for you to consider... 

Posted: December 4, 2017, 3:41 pm

The Alpha A7R III is Sony's latest high-resolution mirrorless camera, and an update of the excellent Alpha A7R II, which was responsible for tempting many a photographer away from the comfort of their Canon and Nikon DSLRs. 

This latest model looks to draw on many of the technologies used in the speed-orientated Sony Alpha A9, which is just as well, because with the likes of Nikon's brilliant D850 offering a tempting combination of high resolution and high performance the Alpha A7R II was beginning to look a little pedestrian. 

With some impressive boosts to performance, as well as tweaks to handling and the peace of mind of a five-year guarantee, could the new Alpha A7R III see even more second-hand Canon and Nikon DSLRs appearing on the shelves of camera stores as more photographers make the switch to Sony? 

Features

  • Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 42.2MP
  • 3,686K-dot electronic viewfinder with 100fps refresh rate
  • 3.0-inch tilt-angle screen, 1,440,000 dots

While many might have expected Sony to boost the amount of pixels to match or exceed DSLR rivals like the D850 and Canon EOS 5DS, it's actually opted to stick with the same count as the Alpha A7R II.

At the core of the A7R III then is a 42.2MP back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor, although Sony has borrowed some of the innovations from the 24.2MP Alpha A9 and integrated them with this more densely populated chip. 

There are gapless microlenses and a new anti-flare coating for starters, while the Alpha A7R III features a new front-end LSI that almost doubles the readout speed of the sensor. It also takes advantage of the latest BIONZ X image processing engine, and combined, these enhancements deliver a boost of up to 1.8x in processing speeds compared to the A7R II.

Sony says the A7R III has a staggering 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings

The A7R III's sensitivity range remains unchanged (ISO50-102,400 at the camera's expanded setting), so those hoping for something to match the Nikon D850's expanded ISO32 setting may be a little disappointed. However, the new processing engine should be able to handle image noise better than its predecessor, while Sony also claims the Alpha A7R III will have a staggering 15-stop dynamic range at low sensitivity settings. 

The Alpha A7R III has the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) as the Alpha A9, with the Quad-VGA OLED EVF sporting a resolution of approximately 3,686k dots, and utilizing a Zeiss T* Coating to reduce reflections. On top of this, the A7R III supports a customizable frame rate for the EVF, with options of either 60fps or 120fps, again matching the 120fps offered by the A9.

Along with the EVF, the rear tilt-angle display has also been upgraded over the outgoing model; it now has a resolution of 1.44 million dots, and, just as we've seen with recent models like the RX10 IV, offers touchscreen functionality. 

Also as with the A9, Sony has shunned the XQD card format (even though it's now the sole manufacturer of that format), instead opting for dual SD card slots on the Alpha A7R III, with only one of those supporting UHS-II type cards.

The Alpha A7R III offers 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) video capture, with the option to use either the full width of the sensor or Super 35mm format mode, with the latter using the full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 5K of information, and oversampling this to produce what promises to be even crisper footage. 

As well as this, the Alpha A7R III now features a new HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) profile that supports an Instant HDR workflow, allowing HDR (HLG) compatible TVs to play back 4K HDR footage, while both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are also available. 

If you want to shoot Full HD footage you can capture this at up to 120fps, while there are ports for both a microphone and audio monitoring.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Dust- and moisture-sealed
  • Weighs 657g

The look and feel of the Sony Alpha A7R III broadly follows the design of the A7R II, but there are a host of tweaks and refinements when you start looking a little closer. 

While the new camera doesn't get the dedicated drive mode dial/focus mode selector that sits to the left of the EVF on the Alpha A9, it does get a similar multi-selector joystick.

It may seem a small thing, but the arrival of the joystick greatly improves handling over the A7R II, as it makes for much quicker AF point selection. The A7R III also sees the addition of a dedicated AF-ON button for back-button focusing, again as on the A9.

In fact, the rear of the camera mimics the control layout of the A9 – that means the A7R III gets an additional 'C3' custom button, while the rear scrollwheel is more pronounced, and less likely to be accidentally knocked.

The changes may be modest, but they combine to make the A7R III that much more user-friendly and satisfying to shooting with

The rear touch display, meanwhile, does away with an annoying quirk of the A7R II. If you were shooting from the waist with the screen angled outward, the older camera would think you had the camera raised to your eye, resulting in the feed being cut on the screen. The display on the A7R III disables the eye sensor when the screen is flipped out, allowing you to shoot at waist level uninterrupted. 

The body is slightly thicker than the A7R II, but fractionally slimmer than the A9, and features a magnesium alloy top, front and rear covers, as well as an internal frame. Sony has also increased the number of lens mount screws to six for enhanced durability, while all major buttons and dials are sealed, and there's sealing throughout the body, to protect the A7R III from dust and moisture.

The menu system has also been overhauled. Now color-coded, it's that bit easier to navigate, but the menu system on the Alpha A7R III is still incredibly comprehensive. That said, once you've tailored the various custom buttons to your desired settings, these, along with the body-mounted controls, mean there should be little need to be regularly diving into the main menu. When you do though, give yourself a bit of time to find exactly what you're looking for.

The changes may be modest, but they combine to make the A7R III that much more user-friendly and satisfying to shoot with. 

Autofocus

  • 399 phase-detection points
  • 425 contrast-detection points
  • Eye AF with enhanced tracking performace

Sony has improved the focusing system as well. The 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points from the A7R II remain (with 68% coverage of the frame), but Sony has bolstered the number of contrast-detection AF points from 25 to 400. 

Sony reckons this overhaul should improve autofocus speed, delivering up to roughly two times faster speeds in low-light conditions, along with improved AF tracking performance. 

The Alpha A7R III can also focus in brightness levels as low as -3EV. When you consider that's pretty much complete darkness, it's very impressive, although the D850's central AF point just edges it at -4EV.

As we've seen on other Sony mirrorless cameras, there's a wide range of autofocus settings. Wide or Zone modes are good for general photography and will take care of much of the decision-making for you, while Center mode uses the central AF point. 

There’s also a Flexible Spot mode (with the choice of three AF area sizes) that enables you to use the joystick to position the focus area pretty much anywhere in the frame, while the Expanded Flexible Spot mode takes advantage of additional AF points to assist with focusing. 

Focusing is fast in single servo mode, but it's when you flick the focusing over to continuous that the system really impressives. You get the same focusing modes as before, but with the addition of a Lock-on setting – use this mode and you'll find the Alpha A7R III can do a stunning job of tracking your designated subject as it moves round the frame. 

The Alpha A7R III's Eye AF has also been enhanced, and now uses the same autofocus algorithms as the Alpha 9. This means that when the A7R III is in AF-C mode and with Eye-AF activated, the system should be able to continuously track and focus on your subject's eye, even if they look down or away from the camera.

In our time with the camera this really impressed us. The A7R III managed to happily maintain focus on a subject in two challenging scenarios – while they were moving round the frame quickly as well as moving towards us, or looking down or away from the camera. 

Performance

  • 10fps burst shooting
  • 5-axis image stabilization
  • 530-shot battery life

While the A7R II could only manage 5fps burst shooting, the enhanced processing power inside the Alpha A7R III sees that rate double to 10fps, and that's with continuous AF/AE tracking. It can sustain this for up to 76 JPEG/raw images, or 28 uncompressed 14-bit raws. 

You have the option of using the A7R III's mechanical shutter to achieve this, or if you prefer you can opt for the camera's electronic shutter for silent shooting. And, rather than having to wait while the camera writes large quantities of images to the card, it's still possible to use many of the A7R III's key functions.

The Alpha A7R III is kitted out with Sony's 5-axis optical image stabilization system, and this has been tweaked for the new camera to deliver a 5.5-stop shutter speed advantage, improving on the A7R II's 4.5-stop system. To reduce the risk of vibration and image blur, especially when shooting at 10fps, there's a new low-vibration shutter mechanism. 

You can expect the A7R III to carry on shooting for 530 frames

The electronic viewfinder is excellent, with a clear and large view thanks to the fast refresh rate and 3,686k-dot resolution, while the rear display doesn't disappoint either. 

One of the biggest complaints levelled at the A7R II was its poor battery life, with just 270 shots possible if you were lucky. Sony has swapped out the W-series battery used in that camera and replaced it with its latest Z-series unit, and you can expect the A7R III to carry on shooting for 530 shots if you use the viewfinder, or 650 shots using the rear display. It's a welcome improvement, but still some way behind the likes of the Nikon D850's 1,840-shot rating.

Image quality

  • ISO100-32,000, expandable to 50-102,400
  • 15-stop dynamic range
  • 14-bit raw shooting

The Alpha A7R III is able to resolve an impressive level of detail; you'd be hard-pushed to distinguish between its images and those from the more densely populated sensors on the 45.2MP Nikon D850 and 50MP Canon EOS 5DS. At the end of the day, if you're planning to produce large A2 sized prints, you won't be disappointed with the files from the Alpha A7R III.

Noise control is another area in which the Alpha A7R III is very strong. Noise levels are kept well within acceptable limits, delivering pleasing results with natural-looking granular noise and minimal Chroma (color) noise even when you're shooting at the higher end of the native sensitivity range (up to ISO32,000). As with most cameras, we'd avoid resorting to the high expansion settings (the maximum here is ISO102,400) unless getting a shot is more important than its ultimate quality.

The Alpha A7R III's dynamic range performance is also very impressive. If you're shooting at low sensitivities and purposefully underexposing the shot to retain highlights, you'll have to really push the file in post-processing before you see any signs of quality beginning to deteriorate in the shadows. For general editing of raw files where you want to recover detail, you've got plenty of flexibility with the A7R III's files. 

Verdict

If Nikon thought it was going to have things all its own way with the D850, it should think again. Sony has taken one of our favorite mirrorless cameras and bolstered the performance to make the new Alpha A7R III a much more capable and well-rounded offering.

As we've seen with the D850, you no longer have to sacrifice performance for resolution or vice versa. The heady mix of 42.2MP and high performance that includes 10fps burst shooting and a very sophisticated AF system is bound to help this camera appeal to an even broader range of photographers than the older model. This is a camera that would be equally at home perched on a mountain as in a studio or on the sidelines of a football match.

For now, the Alpha A7R III is not only the most well-rounded mirrorless camera you can buy, but one of the best cameras out there.  

Competition

Posted: November 30, 2017, 4:50 pm

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is the latest in a long line of enthusiast-focused compact cameras, designed for photographers looking for something to complement their DSLR, or for those looking for a versatile alternative to a DSLR in a relatively compact body. 

The original PowerShot G1 was launched in 2000, and for a while that camera and its successors were the obvious choice when it came to choosing an enthusiast compact.

But with rivals like the RX100 series from Sony, the LX range from Panasonic and Fujifilm's X100 line, Canon's flagship PowerShot compact has struggled to stand out from the crowd in recent years. And it would be fair to say the outgoing G1 X Mark II, with its unique 1.5-inch sensor, missed the mark, so Canon is throwing everything at the G1 X Mark III.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS Sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
  • 1080p video capture

Where the G1 X Mark II used a 1.5-inch sensor, the G1 X Mark III uses a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS chip that's some 36% larger; it's nearly identical to the one in Canon's EOS 80D DSLR, delivering an ISO range from 100 to 25,600.

This is hooked up to Canon's latest DIGIC 7 image processor, allowing the PowerShot G1 X Mark III to not only handle data that much quicker than the older model, but promising to reduce the need to edit images thanks to an Auto Lighting Optimizer and Diffraction Correction.

The G1 X Mark III sports a slightly more modest zoom range than the older model, at 24-72mm compared to 24-120mm, and has a f/2.8-5.6 aperture range. It also offers a close-focusing distance of just 10cm, while the lens features a nine-bladed aperture, which Canon says will produce pleasing background blur.

To minimize blur caused by camera shake, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III features a dual-sensing image stabilization system that can compensate for movement by up to four stops.

There's also five-axis Advanced Dynamic IS for video recording. While we're touching on video, the PowerShot G1 X Mark III can shoot 1080p video at up to 60p – there's no 4K video capture here. 

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III also gets a panoramic sweep mode, allowing you to capture a 67MP image (24,064 x 2800 for horizontal shots, 16,000 x 4200 for vertical images), with the camera automatically stitching the panorama as you pan the camera.

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III features a built-in EVF – something that was missing from the Mark II – with a 2.36 million dot 0.39x Organic EL display, while there's a 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen display with a resolution of 1.04 million dots, identical to the screens on the latest EOS DSLRs, such as the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D.

There's Wi-Fi, NFC and always-on Bluetooth connectivity to enable you to remotely transfer images from your camera to a compatible smart device. Canon's Camera Connect app also lets you wake the camera from its slumber (provided you haven't turned the camera fully off), as well as browse photos and operate the camera remotely. 

Build and handling

  • 14.8mm thinner and 16% smaller than G1 X Mark II
  • Similar weather protection to EOS 80D
  • Weighs 399g

The design of the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is quite a shift from the Mark II, more closely resembling that of the PowerShot G5 X, and it's all the better for it.

The G1 X Mark II never felt that satisfying to hold, and felt unnecessarily cumbersome. The Mark III feels much better in the hand – despite squeezing in a larger sensor the camera is some 16% smaller and 14.8mm thinner, while the fit and finish are a noticeable improvement over the older model. There's a tiny built-in flash above lens, while the PowerShot G1 X Mark III is even dust- and drip-proof, with Canon stating that it offers similar weather sealing to the EOS 80D. 

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III is in actual fact only a bit bigger than the G5 X

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III is in actual fact only a bit bigger than the Powershot G5 X – you'd be hard pushed to tell their silhouettes apart. Despite its diminutive proportions though, it still provides a pleasingly secure purchase thanks to the sculptured front grip and pronounced thumb rest. The textured grip has a nice tactile feel as well, which adds to the overall satisfying feel of the camera. 

The controls are sensibly positioned, with the front command dial and top plate exposure compensation dial falling under the fingers nicely, while Canon has designed the shutter release to match those of high-end EOS cameras. There's now a single click-less control ring round the front of the lens as well, which can be assigned to functions such as manual focusing, or be used to zoom the lens, though we found the rocker switch positioned round the shutter button quicker to use for the latter. 

Autofocus

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Touch-and-drag AF
  • 49 AF points on a 7 x 7 grid

Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF has impressed us for Live View photography on its latest range of EOS DSLRs like the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, so it's no surprise to see it make an appearance in the PowerShot G1 X Mark III. 

Featuring 49 AF points arranged in a 7 x 7 grid, the system provides good coverage across the frame, although not quite edge to edge. Focusing is swift, with Canon stating 0.09 secs to acquire focus, while there's also the ability to touch and drag the AF area via the rear screen (even when using the EVF). 

We found autofocus performance to be very good on the whole. Focusing is quick in good light, and while speed drops a bit when light levels fall, it still seemed to focus happily in most instances. 

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III can do a solid job at tracking moving subjects as well, though it's not quite a match for the RX100 V's sophisticated AF system. We found it behaves better when the subject you're following contrasts more with the background, but it's still a capable performer.   

Performance

  • 7fps burst shooting (9fps with focus lock)
  • Polished interface
  • 200-shot battery life

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III can shoot at a pretty rapid 7fps, while if you need even more speed you have the option of shooting at 9fps, provided you're prepared to have focus locked at the first shot. This doesn't quite match the blistering 24fps offered by the Sony RX100 V, but it's a decent burst speed that should be up to the job for most of the scenarios the G1 X Mark III is intended for.

Buffer performance is also pretty respectable, with the camera capable of capturing 24 JPEGs or 19 raw files before it slows up – again, that's nothing like the RX100 V's 150 JPEG shots, but it should satisfy most potential users. 

The touchscreen interface has to be one of the best around – it's easy to use, and really responsive

The viewfinder is nice and crisp, while the rear display doesn't disappoint. The gapless design means viewing angles are excellent, while the touchscreen interface has to be one of the best around – it's easy to use, and really responsive.

The image stabilization system works very well – we found it was certainly possible to achieve nice, sharp shots with shutter speeds much slower than we'd otherwise be comfortable with.

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III uses real-time metering from the sensor, and offers Evaluative, Centre-weighted and Spot metering options, with the evaluative system doing a sound job under most lighting conditions. 

Battery life is pretty limited on the G1 X Mark III, however, at just 200 shots. This is a little less than the likes of the RX100 V's 220-shot battery life (which isn't that impressive to start with), so you'll definitely want to consider additional batteries if you're going to be out for the day or weekend. 

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • Panoramic shot mode
  • +/-3 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments

With the Powershot G1 X Mark III using a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor that's almost identical to the EOS 80D's, there are no nasty surprises when it comes to image quality. 

Detail rendition appears very good, while noise is also handled well. Results from ISO100 to 1600 appear very good, with pleasing color reproduction. While shots taken at ISO3200 and 6400 display some signs of luminance (grain-like noise), it's very fine in structure, while there are some minor hints of chroma (color) noise creeping in.

Overall though, these don't impact on images enough to make it become an issue. Above those settings files start displaying more pronounced luminance and chroma noise, causing detail and color saturation to suffer. While we'd avoid using ISO25,600 where possible, it's still possible to get a satisfactory shot. 

Lens performance is good – at 24mm it's nice and sharp at the centre wide-open at f/2.8, though when zoomed in to 72mm you'll need to stop down a little bit beyond the maximum f/5.6 maximum aperture to improve sharpness. Distortion is well-controlled in camera, while it was hard to spot any noticeable vignetting. 

Verdict

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is certainly a big improvement over the undercooked G1 X Mark II. The fact that Canon has managed to engineer a camera this size with a large APS-C sensor is very impressive – and even more impressive is the fact that this is the first APS-C format compact camera to feature a zoom lens, making it something quite unique. 

The sticking point might be the asking price, especially when you compare this camera to DSLR or mirrorless rivals. However, if you're set on a premium all-in-one compact camera, the G1 X Mark III doesn't look that bad when you compare it to similarly priced rivals. The fabulous Fujifilm X100F costs more, but doesn't offer a zoom lens, while the slightly more affordable Sony RX100 V offers a longer zoom and snappier performance, but with a smaller 1-inch sensor. 

All things considered, Canon may have hit the sweet spot for enthusiast photographers looking for a compact partner for their DSLR kit, or for those looking for a versatile and neat all-in-one solution that delivers DSLR-quality images.

Competition

Posted: November 29, 2017, 4:33 pm
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DJI – Introducing the DJI Mavic Pro

By: DJI

Originally published on Sep 27, 2016

The Mavic is DJI’s first compact, personal flying camera. Ultimate image quality and ultimate portability combine in one revolutionary device that will stay with you, whenever you need it to capture that sudden burst of inspiration.

Always follow applicable rules and regulations in your jurisdiction. Permits were obtained, where needed, in locations depicted in this video.

Maximum range specification is provided as a performance measurement only.

http://dji.com/mavic

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Hover Camera – Introducing the self-flying camera anyone can use

 

By: Hover Camera

Originally published on Apr 26, 2016

Hover Camera is the first autonomous flying camera of its kind that’s truly safe, portable, and easy-to-use.

Powering Hover Camera’s ease of use is Embedded AI, Zero Zero Robotics’ groundbreaking technology that packs a suite of AI algorithms into a tiny circuit board.

To learn more about Hover Camera, visit our official website:
http://GetHover.com/

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To join to be a Beta Tester, click the link below:
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Mini Gopro! Hero 4 Session: Full Review, Tests, Comparison Footage (WIRED)

 

By: WIRED

Originally published on Jul 6, 2015

If you hate GoPro’s rectangular shape, your prayers have been answered! Sort of. We took the new HERO4 Session into rivers, lakes, and surf, off cliffs and platforms, through trees and go kart courses. Our full review will tell you everything you need to know. -Brent | Subscribe for more:http://wrd.cm/15fP7B7

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MINI GOPRO! HERO4 Session: Full Review, Tests, Comparison Footage (WIRED)

Starring: Brent Rose

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