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canon cameras - Google News

Google News


New Atlas

Sony a9 review: This mirrorless DSLR-killer moves the goalposts
New Atlas
We've already touched on the a9's amazing low light performance, but doing an ISO noise test really pounded home for me the enormous gap between Sony's sensors and the disappointing efforts from Canon lately. Sticking the camera on a tripod, I took a ...

Posted: July 25, 2017, 5:26 am

New Jersey Herald

360 camera, drones: AP team gears up for a melting Arctic
New Jersey Herald
They packed a full line-up of wide angle, fixed focal length, zoom and telephoto lenses to go with their Canon DSLR camera bodies; a Panasonic P2 video camera; and several GoPro action cams with external microphones. To keep the pictures steady on a ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 10:35 pm

How Canon's Low-Light 'MoonCam' Saw into the Shadows for Nat Geo's Earth Live
Studio Daily
Then he stumbled on the Canon ME20F-SH, got wind of the camera's ability to reach 4 million ISO, and got an early demonstration of what it could do; he knew it was ideal for the new nature show he'd been developing. “I thought, 'This could open up a ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 7:34 pm

TrustedReviews

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM
TrustedReviews
The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS II USM is a mid-range telephoto zoom lens for Canon's DSLR cameras, incorporating both optical image stabilisation and a new, fast and silent Nano USM motor for autofocus. It can be used on cameras with both APS-C ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 2:33 pm

HuffPost

Panasonic GH5 Review
HuffPost
But the video autofocus tracking unfortunately is well behind Sony's newest cameras and the dual pixel system in Canon cameras. While I find those systems to be reliable enough when used on a gimbal or when tracking a bride down the aisle, I did not ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:47 pm

PetaPixel (blog)

Canon 6D Mark II Dynamic Range is a Big Disappointment - PetaPixel
PetaPixel (blog)
The first dynamic range tests of the new Canon 6D Mark II DSLR are trickling onto the Web, and one thing seems to be clear: the results are very disappointing ...

and more »
Posted: July 20, 2017, 6:34 pm

Fuji cameras - Google News

Google News


Ubergizmo

Fujifilm X-T2S In-Body Stabilization Will Reportedly Work For All Fujinon Lenses
Ubergizmo
The Fujifilm X-T2 was launched last year but it seems that rumors of a possible refresh have been making its rounds. Just earlier this month a report from Fuji Rumors suggested that a Fujifilm X-T2S could be in the works, and that one of the camera's ...

Posted: July 25, 2017, 3:50 am

HuffPost

Why Are Instant Cameras A Thing?
HuffPost
CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) projects that 20.7 million digital cameras will be shipped globally in 2017. So the number of instant cameras that Fuji will sell this year will equal more than a third of all standard digital cameras sold ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 10:01 pm

PetaPixel (blog)

Review: The Sony a9 is the Camera of a Wedding Photographer's Dreams
PetaPixel (blog)
Then Fuji came on the scene with their X-T1. I liked the idea of a quiet, mirrorless camera, that was small. Having borrowed one for a trip to Romania, I discovered it wasn't quite there for me in terms of performance. The Fuji X-T2 followed a while ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 8:52 pm

TechRadar

Celebrating 100 years: Nikon landmarks
TechRadar
Immediately after it was established, Nippon Kogaku merged with Fuji Lens Seizo-sho in 1918. The following year, the Oi Dai-ichi Plant, where Nikon's first cameras would eventually be made, was completed, and the company started to research optical ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:10 pm

PetaPixel (blog)

The Top 10 Camera Films Preferred by Photographers
PetaPixel (blog)
While Fujifilm is making huge progress on the digital side of photography and imposing its Instax line as the standard for instant films, they've been letting analog photography fall to the side of the road. Their catalog is getting smaller and smaller ...

Posted: July 22, 2017, 6:42 pm

Fstoppers

Fstoppers Reviews the Godox Thinklite TT350F Flash for Fujifilm X
Fstoppers
This means that if you have a Godox TTL strobe like the AD200, you'll want to update the firmware on that so you can utilize the TTL functions with your Fujifilm cameras. At the same time, you get access to 1/8,000 second sync speed. Of course, your ...

Posted: July 15, 2017, 6:46 pm

nikon camera - Google News

Google News


Fstoppers

Nikon Announces the D850... Sort Of
Fstoppers
The announcement of the development of the D850 is a letdown, because it means we won't see the actual camera for some time still. Furthermore, we barely have new details to share based on the announcement. In a statement that coincides with Nikon's ...
Nikon announces development of their next flagship DSLR: the Nikon D850imaging resource
Nikon Announces Development Of D850ePHOTOzine (press release)
Nikon Confirms Development Of D850 DSLRChannelNews
PhotoReview.com.au -Australian Photography + digital
all 11 news articles »
Posted: July 25, 2017, 4:49 am

Development of Digital SLR Camera Nikon D850
PR Newswire (press release)
MELVILLE, N.Y., July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of the next generation full-frame, high-resolution, high-speed digital SLR cameras with the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Nikon D850.

Posted: July 25, 2017, 4:03 am

PetaPixel (blog)

Review: The Sony a9 is the Camera of a Wedding Photographer's Dreams
PetaPixel (blog)
Until 2016, I had photographed weddings using nothing but Nikon cameras. First the D90, then D700, D3s, D4 and then the D4s (while dabbling with the D800, D810, and D750 in-between). I love/loved my Nikons and never regretted avoiding Canon at any ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 8:52 pm

TechRadar

Celebrating 100 years: Nikon landmarks
TechRadar
The following year, the Oi Dai-ichi Plant, where Nikon's first cameras would eventually be made, was completed, and the company started to research optical glass production – although it wouldn't be until 1923 that the company would begin test-melting ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:10 pm

Digital Trends

Curved sensors won't be just for smartphones, full-frame Nikon patent suggests
Digital Trends
Curved camera sensors could mean lighter lenses and sharper images — and a new patent suggests Nikon is looking to bring the tech into a pro-level model. The patent, filed in Japan, P2017-125904A, details a 35mm lens, but that lens is designed to work ...

Posted: July 21, 2017, 10:31 pm

PetaPixel (blog)

Nikon Patents 35mm f/2 Lens for Full Frame Camera with Curved Sensor
PetaPixel (blog)
Nikon has patented a new 35mm f/2 lens… for a full frame curved sensor. The news has sparked speculation that Nikon could be planning to use a groundbreaking curved sensor in its upcoming mirrorless camera. The patent, P2017-125904A, was spotted by ...

Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:57 pm

pentax camera - Google News

Google News


PhotographyBLOG (blog)

Canon EOS 200D Review
PhotographyBLOG (blog)
The difference between Canon (and Nikon) and the others is that Sony, Olympus and Pentax have opted for stabilisation via the camera body, rather than the lens, which therefore works with their entire range of lenses. Canon's system is obviously ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:14 pm

PDN Online

Hands-on With Ricoh's Pentax K-70
PDN Online
While the K-70 isn't a flagship, it has many of the signature features found on higher-end Pentax models. Among them is the Pixel Shift Resolution System that uses the camera's shifting sensor to create an ultra-high resolution, low noise image from a ...
Review: Pentax KPLivemint

all 2 news articles »
Posted: July 18, 2017, 12:05 pm

The Mercury

TasWeekend: Photographer's African inspiration
The Mercury
It's the culmination of years of practice that includes fine art, wedding and architectural photography. Entirely self-taught, Hamilton got her first camera as a kid before her dad gave her his old Pentax when she was 15. She still has it – kept on her ...

Posted: July 15, 2017, 6:00 am

South China Morning Post

Leica M10: the US$6895 digital camera even analogue photographers can't resist
South China Morning Post
In the past few years, though, as my favourite 220 film made by Fuji and Kodak has been discontinued, I have reluctantly started using a couple of digital cameras: the Pentax 645Z, a and the Canon 5D Mark 111, which has the ability to switch between ...

Posted: July 8, 2017, 7:02 am

TechRadar

Optical delusions: Pentax K-01
TechRadar
The mirrorless K-01 was supposed to signal the re-emergence of Pentax after a pretty crappy 2011. Those 12 months saw parent company Hoya offload Pentax to Ricoh, while the brand managed to launch just four compact cameras and the ill-conceived Q ...

Posted: July 6, 2017, 10:24 am

imaging resource

Firmware Friday: Lots of news from Nikon, Leica, Pentax, DJI, Metabones and Nissin
imaging resource
This week, Firmware Friday brings news from three camera manufacturers (Leica, Nikon and Ricoh/Pentax), as well as from DJI (drones), Metabones (optical adapters), and Nissin (flash strobes). Since cameras are our main focus here at Imaging Resource, ...

Posted: June 30, 2017, 9:37 pm

Sony cameras - Google News

Google News


New Atlas

Sony a9 review: This mirrorless DSLR-killer moves the goalposts
New Atlas
As my couple of weeks with the Sony a9 come to an end, it feels to me like those barriers have been smashed through, and the DSLR's days are numbered. It's just that good. This is the future of the professional-level camera, and it kicks all kinds of ass.

Posted: July 25, 2017, 5:26 am

PetaPixel (blog)

Review: The Sony a9 is the Camera of a Wedding Photographer's Dreams
PetaPixel (blog)
Until 2016, I had photographed weddings using nothing but Nikon cameras. First the D90, then D700, D3s, D4 and then the D4s (while dabbling with the D800, D810, and D750 in-between). I love/loved my Nikons and never regretted avoiding Canon at any ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 8:52 pm

The Hindu

Sony India to launch futuristic camera soon
The Hindu
Sony India will launch full-frame mirror-less camera with CMOS sensor with a capacity to click 20 frames per second without generating any noise in India next month. Disclosing this during an exclusive chat with The Hindu here on Saturday, Sony Digital ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 4:10 pm

RedShark News

Sony FS5 update adds ability to change minimum ISO and more
RedShark News
The Sony FS5 has half the power draw of the FS7 as it's not as powerful a camera but the much smaller size and lower price of the Sony FS5 should also mean it can find applications where it's larger sibling might not be as useful. Hopefully these ...

Posted: July 24, 2017, 2:03 pm

HuffPost

Panasonic GH5 Review
HuffPost
But the video autofocus tracking unfortunately is well behind Sony's newest cameras and the dual pixel system in Canon cameras. While I find those systems to be reliable enough when used on a gimbal or when tracking a bride down the aisle, I did not ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:47 pm

Pocket-lint.com

Sony A6500 review: A mini mirrorless powerhouse
Pocket-lint.com
The Sony A6500 is the company's 2017 flagship mirrorless camera with a crop sensor, sitting below the Sony A7 full-frame line-up. The A6500 joins an already bustling series across the wider A6000 range, with several cameras at different specifications ...

Posted: July 21, 2017, 9:01 am

Panasonic cameras - Google News

Google News


Women Love Tech (press release) (blog)

Panasonic's LUMIX LX10 Review: Stunning 4K Images Captured In A Palm-Sized Camera
Women Love Tech (press release) (blog)
Launched late last year, Panasonic's LUMIX LX10 adds to their wide variety of enthusiast to professionally classed cameras. Notably, the LX10 incorporates a larger 1-inch sensor (producing an enormous 20.1 Megapixel image) that provides greater ...

Posted: July 25, 2017, 7:46 am

New Jersey Herald

360 camera, drones: AP team gears up for a melting Arctic
New Jersey Herald
They packed a full line-up of wide angle, fixed focal length, zoom and telephoto lenses to go with their Canon DSLR camera bodies; a Panasonic P2 video camera; and several GoPro action cams with external microphones. To keep the pictures steady on a ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 10:35 pm

HuffPost

Panasonic GH5 Review | HuffPost
HuffPost
Before the Panasonic GH5, you needed at least $8000 to find a camera with a feature list as ridiculous as this. While the GH4 was the first major compac...
LUMIX GH5 – Beating the “Battle with Heat” – Irish Tech NewsIrish Tech News

all 4 news articles »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:47 pm

Engadget

The best point-and-shoot camera
Engadget
Read the full article here. After researching and testing more than 30 high-end compact cameras over the past three years, we recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 if you're looking to take the best pictures possible with a camera small enough to slip ...

Posted: July 21, 2017, 3:00 pm

Economic Times

Panasonic P55 Max review: Old school design, but power-packed ...
Economic Times
Currently, the only phone to offer a 5.5-inch display, 5000mAh battery and Android 7.0 in the sub Rs 10000 price range.

and more »
Posted: July 20, 2017, 8:17 am

WIRED

Hack Brief: 'Devil's Ivy' Vulnerability Could Afflict Millions of IoT Devices
WIRED
... security cameras and other physical security devices used by the ONVIF consortium, whose nearly 500 members include companies like Bosch, Canon, Cisco, D-Link, Fortinet, Hitachi, Honeywell, Huawei, Mitsubishi, Netgear, Panasonic, Sharp, Siemens, ...

and more »
Posted: July 18, 2017, 2:00 pm

Samsung cameras - Google News

Google News


India Today

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 to come with 3x zoom dual cameras, says Analyst
India Today
Samsung confirmed to launch the most anticipated device of the year -- Note 8 on August 23. The South Korean company in its official teaser confirmed that the Note 7 successor will come with a massive display and S Pen. Now, Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at ...
Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, Note 9 All Rumored to Feature Dual Rear Camerasgizmochina (blog)
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 dual cameras to flaunt 3x optical zoom featureTheAndroidSoul (blog)
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 dual cameras to support 3x optical zoomGizbot
Geeky Gadgets -BGR -YouTube
all 318 news articles »
Posted: July 25, 2017, 3:47 am

The Verge

The best phone you can buy right now (2017)
The Verge
Samsung's Galaxy S8 / S8 Plus is the best phone for most people. It's available across all four US carriers and unlocked. It has the best display on any smartphone right now, a head-turning, premium design, a top-of-the-line camera, reliable battery ...

and more »
Posted: July 24, 2017, 4:10 pm

Express.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S8 v OnePlus 5 - Which of these flagship smartphones is the BEST?
Express.co.uk
Samsung has also shipped one of the most impressive smartphone cameras on the market. However, for all of its brilliant features – the Galaxy S8 did have a number of flaws, most notably the rear fingerprint scanner, which will leaving you wondering ...
Samsung C7 2017 specs revealed with a Dual Camera leakGoAndroid (press release) (blog)
Samsung's first dual camera smartphone won't be Galaxy Note 8, but it doesn't matterInternational Business Times, India Edition
Exclusive: New renders give us our best look yet at Samsung's Galaxy Note 8BGR
TmoNews
all 145 news articles »
Posted: July 22, 2017, 9:38 am

Notebookcheck.net (press release)

Samsung Galaxy C10 spotted with dual cameras
Notebookcheck.net (press release)
Although many rumors claim that the Galaxy Note 8 would be the first Samsung handset to feature a dual camera setup, it looks like a few mid-rangers with this technology inside are also heading for the market, as shown by the latest Galaxy C10 leaked ...

Posted: July 17, 2017, 12:08 pm

Android Headlines

Dual Camera Variant Of Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) Leaks
Android Headlines
Samsung had introduced the Galaxy J7 (2017) back in June, and now a dual camera variant of that handset has just surfaced. The Galaxy J7 (2017) launched alongside the Galaxy J3 (2017) and the Galaxy J5 (2017), and all of those phones sport a single ...
Alleged Samsung Galaxy J7(2017) renders with rear dual cameras leakedGizbot
Samsung Galaxy C7 (2017) Chinese variant leaks in render with dual rear camerasThe Tech Bulletin
Samsung Galaxy J7 With Dual-camera Setup Poses For the CameraGeeky Gadgets
Alphr -GameSinners (press release) (blog) -Twitter
all 243 news articles »
Posted: July 14, 2017, 11:43 am

Business Insider

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 leaks suggest a dual camera and a fix for one of the biggest drawbacks of the Galaxy S8
Business Insider
A leak of a case render for the Galaxy Note 8, spotted by Android Headlines, reinforces rumors that the Galaxy Note 7 successor will have a dual-lens camera and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. If the leaks are accurate, it looks like the Galaxy ...
Galaxy Note 8 Leak Exposes Samsung's Smartphone SuperpowerForbes
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) Chinese Edition Showing Its Dual Rear Cameras Surfaces in Leaked Photosgizmochina (blog)
A Samsung First Is Coming to the Galaxy Note 8Tom's Guide
Deccan Chronicle -GameSinners (press release) (blog) -I4U News -Slashleaks
all 247 news articles »
Posted: July 10, 2017, 2:57 pm

 

 

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Techradar Photography and Video Capture

TechRadar - Photography & video capture news

TechRadar UK latest feeds

With the likes of Photokina, CES and CP+ trade shows now distant memories, you may think the photography rumor mill might be quietening down over the summer months, but things never stand still and it's time for an all-new camera rumors article.

Combining the latest industry gossip, emerging trends in the digital photography market and our own tech insights into what each of the major camera makers can do – and what they might do next.

We've taken a look at all the main rumors doing the rounds, and while some are fairly predictable upgrades to current cameras, it can be a bit more tricky in other cases, where we've had to sift the genuine leaks from the wild speculation.

So let's take a look at what we think we might see from the major manufacturers in the not-too-distant future…

Canon rumors: Now we've seen the EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS 6D Mark II, what else are we likely to see? Canon's recently launched the EOS M5, but will we see a full-frame mirrorless camera from Canon?

Nikon rumors: With the 50MP Canon EOS 5DS and 42.4MP Sony A7R II stealing some of the thunder of the 36.3MP D810, we expect Nikon to fight back with the D850 (or maybe D820). We could also see a replacement to the under-loved retro-inspired Df, but perhaps this time it could be mirrorless, while the Nikon D750 could get an update, too. 

Sony rumors: We've just had the announcement of the Alpha A9, so we could possibly next see a 70MP+ sensor in an Alpha A7R III. 

Fujifilm rumors: Fuji's been pretty busy recently - we've had the GFX 50S, X-T20 and X100F, while last year saw the fabulous X-T2 and X-Pro2, but we could see the 24MP sensor make its way into replacements for the X70 and X-E2S?

Panasonic rumors: With a raft of announcements at Photokina including the long awaited GH5, things are a little quiet at the moment.

Olympus rumors: It's a similar story for Olympus too, but as soon as we hear anything, we'll update you here.

Canon full-frame mirrorless camera

If the rumors are true, Canon is working on a full-frame mirrorless camera

Predicted specs: The sensor from the 1D X Mark II or 5D Mark IV | Existing lens mount

CanonRumors is also reporting that Canon is working on a mirrorless full-frame camera, and the good news is that it's likely to use an existing lens mount, which is in no doubt causing the engineers at Canon some huge headaches.

Nikon D820

Nikon D850

Will Nikon strike back in the pixel count battle?

Predicted specs: Full-frame 42-46MP sensor | 4K video recording | 5fps continuous shooting

For a while the Nikon D800 (or D800E), and then the D810, was the camera to buy for detail resolution if you didn't want to make the move up to medium format. That honour has now been passed on – but while the Canon EOS 5DS and 5DS R may seem the most logical contenders for this title, a significant number of photographers have turned towards Sony and its 42MP Alpha 7R II.

As Nikon uses Sony sensors in its cameras it seems likely that the D850 (also possibly called the D820) will have a 42MP sensor or as a recent rumor on Nikon Rumors suggests, between 45-46MP. 

We expect to see 4K video recording capability in the D820 (it's pretty much taken as read that this will be a feature of all new cameras), and an improved AF system, with rumors pointing to the same sophisticated system as found in the D5 – meaning a step up to 173 points.

CompactFlash compatibility will disappear, with the D850 featuring both an SD card slot along with an XQD slot as well. 

Nikon D760

A gentle upgrade over the ageing D750 would strengthen Nikon’s FX offerings

Predicted specs: Full-frame 36.3MP sensor | 4K video recording | Tilting touchscreen

The D750 may be a well-loved and affordable full-frame option in Nikon’s stable, but it's over two years old now and could do with a boost to compete against a handful of more recent full-frame arrivals. Nikon Rumors has reported that a Honduran newspaper – of all sources – has stated that a D760 is imminent, so what could this offer? If the D820 appears with even more pixels, could we see the D760 take advantage of the 36.3MP sensor to replace the current 24MP chip? A top shutter speed of 1/8000sec could be on the cards, which makes sense as the D750’s maximum 1/4000sec shutter speed is a understandable compromise to help it be attractively priced, but a compromise nonetheless. 

It would be surprising to find such a camera arrive without 4K video recording, particularly after the 4K-enabled D500 and D5. It’s also likely to have a tilting screen like the D750, although Nikon would no doubt want this to match its D500 sibling in offering touch sensitivity too.

Nikon Df II

Nikon Df II

Perhaps Nikon will turn its retro-styled FX SLR into a retro-styled FX CSC?

Predicted specs: Mirrorless design | Class-leading electronic viewfinder | Nikon F-mount

Everyone got very excited about the Df when it was announced, but its high price and relatively low pixel count in comparison with the D810 made it something of a luxury purchase. The traditional-style controls also aren't as well implemented as on Fuji's X-T1, which was launched around the same time.

It's possible that the Df II will 'just' correct the handling issues of the Df and have a higher resolution sensor - maybe even using the D5's 20MP sensor. However, it's no secret that Nikon has lost market share to Sony and its Alpha 7-series of full-frame retro-styled compact system cameras, and the company needs to stage a comeback.

Rumors have been circulating for a while that Nikon has a full-frame mirrorless model on the way, and the Df design could provide an ideal starting point – albeit with a few significant modifications, like the removal of the mirror and the introduction of an electronic viewfinder.

Whether we'll see it break cover in 2016 is less likely. With 2017 Nikon's centenary year, we could see Nikon hold off until then.

Nikon 1 J%

Nikon 1 system

Will we ever see another Nikon 1 mirrorless camera again?

The last Nikon 1 system camera was the 1 J5, announced back at the beginning of April 2015, and we haven't seen sight or sound of a new model since.

The arrival of Nikon's new range of DL compact cameras at the beginning of last year, all featuring 1.0-inch, 21MP sensors, with specifications that seemed to cast a shadow of the current 1 system offerings, with many people questioning the need for Nikon's current mirrorless offering now these compacts had arrived.

These models though, after over a year of delays have been cancelled, but there hasn't been a whiff of a 1 system rumor in ages either. Could Nikon be quietly admitting defeat?

Sony Alpha

Sony Alpha A9R

Could Sony launch a high-end pro-spec mirrorless flagship camera?

Predicted specs: Full-frame 70-80MP sensor | Same body as Alpha A9 

With the arrival of the fabulous looking 24MP, 20fps Alpha 9, what can we expect next from Sony? 

While the full-frame 42MP Alpha 7R II is clearly still has one of the best sensors available, we can't help but speculate that Sony are going to try and get even more pixels on a full-frame sensor, potentially almost doubling the resolution offered by the A7R II and pitting it against medium format cameras. 

Put this sensor in the Alpha A9's body with its more polished control layout and the Alpha A9R could be a monster of a camera.

Sony Alpha A7 III

Rumors are growing that we could see an update to Sony's enthusiast full-frame mirrorless camera

Predicted specs: Full-frame 24MP sensor | Joystick AF control | Advanced AF system

Rumors are starting to pick-up that we'll see an update to the Alpha A7 II, and one that'll benefit from the trickle-down of technology from the Alpha 9

That means we could see the 24MP sensor make its way into a more affordable body, and while we don't expect to see it capable of rattling off 20fps to rival the A9, we should see a serious speed increase too. 

We'd also be surprised if the A7 III gets the same awesome 693-point AF system as the A9, but again, we'd expect to see a big leap over the AF system in the A7 II. To quickly toggle between AF points, expect Sony to give the A7 III the same mini joystick that's on the A9.

Fuji X200

Fujifilm X70F

A new sensor and processing engine, plus an improved AF system look on the cards for Fujifilm's pocket premium compact camera

Predicted specs: 24MP APS-C format sensor | 28mm equivalent lens | Improved AF system

We've just had the X100F announced with a number of new improvements, so we can expect Fujifilm to turn its attention to the X70 update next.

We'd be incredibly surprised if it doesn't get a resolution upgrade, increasing the pixel count from 16 million to 24 million as we've seen with Fuji's other recent announcements.

We reckon Fujifilm will stick with the 28mm equivalent prime lens, but it might be tempted to up the ante a little by increasing the maximum aperture from f/2.8 to f/2 for even better low light performance and depth of field control, but it may 'just' use a new optical design or coatings to boost performance.

Or perhaps we'll see multiple versions - maybe one with a fast 50mm f/1.8 equivalent optic. 

Fujifilm has been working hard on improving the autofocus systems in its cameras, and this seems likely to continue, so we can expect the X70F to focus more quickly than the X70, with better low-light responses.

Fujifilm X-E3

A moderate update to Fujifilm affordable rangefinder-style mirrorless camera

Predicted specs: 24MP APS-C format sensor | Touchscreen | 4K video capture

The current rangefinder-styled X-E2S sits alongside the popular X-T10 in the Fujifilm mirrorless range. While one of the newer models, it's the odd-one-out when it comes to its sensor, utilising the ageing 16MP chip, so we'd expect a X-E3 with a 24MP sensor to fall into line with the rest of the range.

AF is likely to be tweaked for snappier performance, while awe could see a touchscreen and 4K video capture.

Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:48 pm

As Nikon celebrates its 100th anniversary, we take a look back at some of milestones in the company's history.

1917: the birth of Nikon

The Oi Dai-ichi Plant (now the Oi Plant) was completed in 1918, enabling the production of optical glass for Nikon’s first products

Nikon began as Nippon Kogaku K.K. (Japan Optical Industries Co., Ltd) on 25 July 1917, within the Tokyo Keiki company at 120 Haramachi, Koishikawa-ku (present-day Hakusan 4-chome, Bunkyo-ku) in Tokyo. 

The design and mass production of cameras and interchangeable lenses wasn’t the company’s focus, as Nippon Kogaku would find its feet – and build its reputation – with the design and production of optical instruments such as rangefinders and microscopes.

At this point in Japan’s history, the production of advanced optical instruments was a matter of national urgency. Entrusted with this objective was Koyata Iwasaki, the president of Mitsubishi and nephew of Mitsubishi founder Yataro Iwasaki.

To realise this ambition, plans were made to establish an optics company by merging the Optical Instruments Department of Tokyo Keiki Seisakusho and the Reflecting Mirror Department of Iwaki Glass Manufacturing, to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kogaku K.K. 

Immediately after it was established, Nippon Kogaku merged with Fuji Lens Seizo-sho in 1918. The following year, the Oi Dai-ichi Plant, where Nikon’s first cameras would eventually be made, was completed, and the company started to research optical glass production – although it wouldn’t be until 1923 that the company would begin test-melting dedicated optical glass.

1932: Nikkor brand name established

Historically, Japan had been reliant on other countries for the supply of photographic lenses, but there was a strong desire to produce lenses domestically. Designers were dispatched to Europe to observe its optical industry, and devoted their time to gathering information on photographic lenses, visiting camera store after camera store in Berlin. In addition, eight German designers were brought to work at Nikon, including renowned optical engineer Heinrich Acht.

After much trial and error, the company produced its first lens in 1929, the Anytar 12cm f/4.5. A range of lens models were subsequently developed, and the prospect of photographic lens manufacture became a reality. When considering a brand name, Nikon settled upon NIKKOR after deciding to combine the ‘NIKKO‘ abbreviation of the ‘Nippon Kogaku‘ company name, with the letter ‘R’ often used as a suffix for photographic lens names at the time. This name was registered as a trademark in 1932.

1946: Nikon is adopted as a brand name

When deciding what to call a compact camera developed to meet the strong demand for domestically produced cameras, the company came up with the name ‘Nikorette‘, which was tentatively used. The company eventually shelved this idea, opting to use the Nikko base and added an ‘N’ to the end, which creates a more masculine impression in the Japanese language, and thus the official Nikon name was born.

1948: Nikon Model I

Though it’s now a brand, the name ‘Nikon’ was originally ascribed to the first camera produced by company Nippon Kogaku. By the middle of the 1930s, the company was making screw-mount lenses for Leica and early Canon cameras, but camera production didn’t commence until after World War II.

Less than two years after the completion of blueprints in September 1946, the company’s Nikon Model I was launched in March 1948. It was the first sold as ‘Nikon’, but ‘Model I’ was added to the name to distinguish it from later cameras.

The design and construction of the Nikon I was an intriguing blend of both pre-war Contax and Leica rangefinders. These were indisputably the premier 35mm-format cameras of the time. In terms of shape, it resembled a 1936 Zeiss Contax. Like that camera, the Nikon I also used a bayonet lens-mount system, instead of Leica’s screw mount. Film-loading was done via a removable back (again a Contax feature) rather than a removable base (favoured by Leica). However, the Japanese designers preferred a horizontal-travel cloth shutter, in the style of Leica, over the vertical-travel metal shutter of Contax.

The Nikon Model I was highly anticipated after being advertised in magazines and via other channels before its release. At the time, supply could not keep up with the demand for domestically produced cameras, but the real battle began the moment the camera went on sale. Designers had to take on board plenty of feedback from customers, but they responded by overcoming any issues one by one, and quickly made improvements.The Nikon M followed in 1949, and the Nikon S the following year.

1959: Nikon F

The first SLR camera made by Nikon. It proved to be a landmark camera with a specification that included interchangeable prisms and focusing screens, a depth of field preview, a large bayonet lens mount and a fully removable back. No other SLR of the day had this degree of detail.

During the 1960s, it was the main choice for war photographers in Vietnam, while press pros liked its 250- exposure back and motor drive for shooting the launches of both the Gemini and Apollo space capsules.

By the time the F was succeeded by the F2 in the early 1970s, over 860,000 of its bodies had rolled off the assembly line. The bayonet lens mount it introduced is still a feature of every Nikon DSLR.

1967: Nikon F Photomic TN

Visually, there’s little to distinguish the TN from the T, but this iteration of the Nikon F gave the world its first taste of centre-weighted metering, a feature that to this day still makes the specifications sheet of Nikon DSLRs.

1971: joining the space race

In January 1971, Nikon agreed a contract in response to a request from NASA. This was to supply cameras to record the Apollo 15 mission to the lunar surface to be launched that year, and for the Apollo 17 mission planned for the following year. The Photomic FTN was selected as the base for the development.

NASA gave Nikon designated specifications to ensure that these cameras would function correctly in the extreme environments of space. These included use of NASA-specified materials such as lubricants and high shock-absorption characteristics, and to prevent possible problems due to the reflection of sunlight, the exterior of the devices were to be matte black. The 55mm f/1.2 lenses that were to be mounted to the cameras also had to be finished in matte black.

By June, all of these criteria had been satisfied and the company supplied NASA with nine cameras. These products were heading for the moon the following month with the launch of Apollo 15. The NASA-specification Nikon Photomic FTN was also later adopted as a special camera system used in Skylab, a mission which would see three astronauts living in space over a prolonged period. 

The cameras were designed to photograph the Earth’s ozone layer and Auroras.

Nikon used the space programme to pioneer new technologies, and in 1991 it constructed a DSLR for the Space Shuttle. Known as the Nikon NASA F4 electronic still camera, it featured a digital back on an F4 body, a separate processor and a laptop computer mounted on a playback-downlink unit (PDU). Compact and bijou it wasn’t!

1971: Nikon F2

Although the Nikon F evolved through the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1971 that a ‘true’ successor to the mainline camera arrived. The Nikon F2 was designed with four requirements in mind: it had to maintain the highest possible quality, offer easier and automatic operation, be faster to shoot 

with and, crucially, maintain the ‘F’-system compatibility with interchangeable lenses and accessories.

The camera featured improved functionality and refined details such as a reliable 1/2,000 sec high-speed shutter to satisfy professional photographers, 1/80 sec flash sync (the original F offers 1/60 sec), a 2-10 second slow shutter that utilised a self-timer mechanism, a built-in ready light, a large-size mirror, hinged rear-lid and a more convenient shutter button position.

1972: Nikomat (Nikkormat) EL

The Nikomat (Nikkormat outside of Japan) was developed with serious enthusiasts in mind, and while the EL wasn’t the first SLR camera to feature a built-in auto-exposure mechanism (that honour went to the Nikon AUTO 35), it was the first-generation electronic camera from Nikon to offer aperture-priority auto-exposure with exposure memory lock. 

1977: NOCT-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2

Nikon’s reputation for producing high-quality lenses has been enhanced over the years by an ability to manufacture specialist optics that few other lens makers would consider. One such lens was the 58mm f/1.2 Noct-NIKKOR AI. 

One of the rarest of all NIKKORs, it was designed for handheld low-light, night-time and astronomical shooting (‘Noct’ is an abbreviation of nocturnal). The Noct-NIKKOR was made for use at maximum aperture. 

The f/1.2 aperture meant it was the fastest NIKKOR lens ever made (along with the 50mm f/1.2 AI and 55mm f/1.2 NIKKORs). More significant was the optical performance: at f/1.2, image sharpness and contrast at the centre were as good as other standard lenses when stopped down. The key to this was a hand-polished aspherical coating on the front lens element, which also contributed to a smoothly defocused bokeh. 

1980: Nikon F3

As a flagship model, the Nikon F3 adopted brand-new electronic technologies of the day, such as the first electronic shutter control and aperture priority auto-exposure control mechanism. The camera also featured new functions such as an LCD viewfinder display, TTL sensor located at the bottom of the camera mirror box, and Speedlight TTL light control. 

But when Nikon decided to create a mark of distinction for its new camera, it called in one of Italy’s greatest product designers, Giorgetto Giugiaro, whose product design was honed in the car industry on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Audi 80 and Lotus Esprit. The red line on the F3 was important because it marked the first time that colour had been added to the exterior of a pro SLR. Giugiaro also added a red stripe to the company’s first autofocus compact, the L35AF, when it launched in 1983. An identity was born.

“The red line was really a style point to add a bit of flair to a professional camera that had been all in black,” Giugiaro said in a 2007 interview. “It’s natural, however, for something that is functional to evolve into something beautiful.” The F3’s red line changed into a thicker stripe on the F4, and then into an elongated ellipse on the F5. By 2003 it had been replaced by a red triangle on the D2H. The creative process continues with the D4 and D800, on which the triangle has been flattened to resemble a red brow beneath the sub-command dial.

1988: Nippon Kogaku K.K. becomes Nikon

On 1 April 1988 the Nippon Kogaku K.K. company restarted as the Nikon Corporation. At the time, the Nikon brand already possessed an excellent reputation in a number of fields. The name was changed in order to make it easier to expand as an international company, and to take advantage of its reputation for reliability. 

1988: Nikon F4

Less than five years after the launch of the F3, the rapid development of camera technology meant Nikon began planning a replacement for its flagship camera. 

Autofocus was of primary concern because body-integral AF systems were in their infancy and many pros remained unconvinced about relying on AF. Nikon knew that the success of the F4 depended on it possessing the most advanced and dependable body-integral AF system of the time. 

By the launch date of September 1988, the F4 had won over doubting pros by including focus tracking for moving subjects – the first Nikon to do so – and being the first pro Nikon body to include a built-in winder.

Giorgetto Giugiaro was hired again, and his design emphasised the camera’s level of automation by replacing cranks and levers with buttons and dials.


1999: The Nikon D1 revolution

Based on the concepts of ‘superb image quality’, ‘ultra-high speed’ and ‘ease of use,’ the project to develop the Nikon D1 DSLR camera was begun directly under the president. The challenge he set was to bring the project to fruition within two years. 

Team leaders asked for three years, on the grounds that two years was insufficient, as the company did not possess much accumulated digital technology at that time. The response was “Nikon does not have that much time right now” and the company endeavoured to make it happen in just two short years.

The D1 was a ground-breaking device that offered the comprehensive strengths of excellent image quality, operability and functionality while being only about a third of the price of competitors’ products, at JPY 650,000, thereby spurring on the popularisation of digital SLR cameras. 

The D1 featured a 2.7MP image sensor, 4.5-frames-per-second continuous shooting, and was of course compatible with the full range of Nikon F-mount lenses. The design was based on the F5 and had the same general layout of controls, which helped to ensure that existing users of Nikon film SLR cameras were able to transition from film to digital relatively seamlessly. 

Since then, Nikon has continued to produce advanced flagship models exceeding professional expectations, right up to the new D5 DSLR, but it’s the D1 that is rightly seen as a major milestone in the digital photography era.

2000: First for Vibration Reduction

Nikon was the first manufacturer to include optical Vibration Reduction (VR) in a camera (1994’s Nikon Zoom 700VR / Zoom-Touch 105 VR QD), but its first interchangeable lens with built-in VR followed six years later. The AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED enabled pictures to be taken handheld at a shutter speed that was three stops slower than you ordinarily could without using a VR lens, and still get sharp results – assuming the subject wasn’t moving of course.

2007: Nikon D3

Nikon’s first full-frame camera was announced in the summer of 2007, going on sale early the following year. Nikon described the new 36 x 24mm sensor as ‘FX format’ and didn’t stack the extra space with more pixels – the D3 actually had slightly fewer pixels (12.1MP) than the D2X (12.2MP). 

The D3’s specification improved on those of previous pro models in every sense. For example, it featured a record-beating continuous drive of 9fps, a 51-point autofocus system and a 3in LCD monitor with a 922,000-dot screen.

Pros were also impressed by the auto ISO mode, which set the ISO rating to meet your desired shutter speed. This is a common feature now, but was pioneered with the D3. The camera was also praised for its lack of noise at higher ISO ratings. Here was a body that proved you could shoot at ISO1,000, 2,000 or higher with confidence.

2008: Nikon D90

Filmmakers have been quick to take advantage of the cinematic look that affordable and easy-to-position DSLRs can bring to their productions. But it was the Nikon D90 that really started the video-recording revolution.

The first DSLR with a dedicated movie mode, the D90 offered HD video and sound recording. With a maximum resolution of 1,280x720 pixels at 24fps, it trounced all but a few digital compacts, made MiniDV camcorders look a bit sick and, with its comparatively large APS-C sensor and access to the vast NIKKOR lens range, it was capable of providing perspectives not possible with typical HD camcorders.

2012: Nikon D800/D800E

It’s hard to believe that the D800 is only five years old. With its FX-format sensor packing 36.3 effective megapixels, the excitement surrounding its announcement was unprecedented. Although it has a more densely populated sensor, the D800 utilised many of the new features of the previously announced 16.2MP D4 in a smaller body and at a cheaper price. These include the EXPEED 3 processor, the 51-point Multi-Cam 3500 FX autofocus system and the same 91K-pixel metering system. It was also capable of focusing right down to -2 EV, which, coupled with its ability to shoot at up to ISO25,600, made it the low-light shooting king.

The D800 was available in two versions: a ‘standard’ body, plus a special edition, the D800E. The latter had a modified filter over the sensor with no anti-aliasing qualities, allowing for a potentially greater amount of detail to be resolved.

2017: D5 and D500 100th Anniversary Editions

So here we are. One hundred years on from the day Nippon Kogaku was formed to further Japan’s interests in the world of optical instruments. And it’s fair to say that Nikon has been instrumental in furthering our knowledge of the world through its optical excellence.

Nikon has prepared a range of special-edition cameras, lenses and accessories to mark its 100-year milestone. Heading the line-up are 100th Anniversary Editions of the current flagship FX and DX DSLRs – the D5 and D500 – each of which features an attractive metallic grey body with a 100th Anniversary logo on one side of the pentaprism.

Both the D5 and D500 are supplied with specially designed body caps and embossed leather straps, each of which features the 100th Anniversary logo, and come cocooned in a bespoke metal case with a plate engraved with the 100th Anniversary logo, along with the camera’s serial number.

To distinguish the special-edition D5 further, not only is it supplied with an anniversary booklet that celebrates Nikon’s contribution to space exploration, but the bottom of the camera is engraved with the message: ‘Nikon – contributing to manned space flight since 1971’. 

This feature was originally published in N-Photo Magazine, to subscribe, click here

Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:10 pm

The Google Chromecast is not only one of the most useful and innovative gadgets of the last few years, it's also dazzlingly cheap. And if you're looking to pick one up for the cheapest possible price, you've come to the right place!

Chromecast is a Wi-Fi HDMI dongle that you plug directly into your TV. From there you can use your smartphone or tablet to 'throw' video at your TV over Wi-Fi – whether it be Netflix movies, live football matches from the major broadcasters or simply just a funny YouTube video. On this page we'll find you the best prices for the Chromecast Ultra, Chromecast 2 (or just Chromecast now) and Chromecast Audio and explain how they differ.

What is a good Chromecast deal?

This one's easy. The standard price for a Chromecast 2 is $55. You should never, ever pay more than that because you can always find one for that price.

cheap chromecast deals

Chromecast 2 deals

The Chromecast 2, or 'new Chromecast' as it's also known, is very similar to the now almost-extinct 2013 Chromecast. Sure, it looks a little different. And it's got slightly faster network performance and a few other tweaks such as coming with a dangly cable instead of as a rigid stick. But, essentially, it's the same product in a different shape – that's why the prices were basically the same. If you can find one for the same price, get this new one.

cheap chromecast audio deals

Chromecast Audio deals

While it doesn't offer true multi-room streaming at the moment (fingers crossed that comes soon), this easy-to-use and affordable device modernises any trusty set of wired speakers you already own with wireless capabilities. In doing so, it also opens them up to features that will grow and get even better over time. Got an old set of speakers or an ancient iPod dock? Turn it into a wireless speaker with Chromecast Audio!

cheap chromecast ultra deals

Chromecast Ultra deals

The 4K Chromecast Ultra is the newest member of the Chromecast family. If you have a 4K TV or are planning on getting one, it's certainly worth picking one of these up. This micro streamer cheap, effective and makes the jump from 1080p to 4K HDR seamlessly.

Chromecast Ultra deals are usually around $95, so anything cheaper is an added bonus.

Posted: July 24, 2017, 1:38 am

You only have to go into a high-street retail store or look online to get an idea of the sheer number of digital cameras on the market. There are so many brands, types and technologies now available, with each one claiming to be the best (of course!), that it can be really difficult to make sense of it all.

But it's possible to break all these competing cameras down into a few basic types, and once you do that it becomes much easier to figure out the kind of camera that's right for you. 

That's what we've done with our expert guide, and you can follow the links at the bottom of the pages to find which is the best camera currently available in each category.

So we'll start with the basics and work up through the more advanced cameras to the types the professionals use. But you don't have to stay with us all the way. Treat this guide like sightseeing tour – when you've got to where you want to go, just step off the bus!

Is a smartphone as a good as a regular point-and-shoot compact camera? Apart from not having a zoom, it almost certainly is.

There's nothing wrong with the cameras in smartphones. The best smartphones have really good cameras built onto, even if they don't have quite the same impressive amount megapixels as dedicated digital cameras. 

The thing to remember though is that it's not all about the amount of megapixels you have – a smartphone with a 8MP camera or above is all you need to produce sharp, detailed shots for Facebook and Twitter, while you can even produce moderately-sized, decent quality prints to hang on your wall if you get a shot you really love.

Take the iPhone 7, for example, with its 12MP camera and easy to use controls, it can produce shots every bit as good (better, often) as a regular point and shoot compact camera.

This is also the camera you'll probably have with you all the time, and the one you'll rely on for capturing your life as it happens, with these photos often ending up as the pictures you will value most in the years to come.

Apple iPhone 6S

Your smartphone is the camera that you'll always have with you

Pros: It's the camera you always have to hand, the results can match those from a regular point-and-shoot compact camera, you can share instantly to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can get apps with amazing effects and additional tools and they can be easy to use.

Cons: In most cases you get a fixed focal length lens – you can't zoom in on distant subjects; the fixed lens is often a wide-angle - great for selfies and getting loads in the frame, but not for flattering portraits; smartphones aren't so easy to hold; limited control over shooting settings.

If you want to capture your life's adventures, maybe you need an action cam, not a regular point-and-shoot camera.

You can overcome the limitations of your smartphone's camera easily enough with a 'proper' camera, but just before we look at these in detail, there's another option to consider – action cams. If capturing your life's adventures is your thing, why not do it with video, not stills? 

Action cams are tough and simple to use, and come with a whole range of different mounts so that you can attach them to handlebars, skateboards, helmets, the dashboard of your car… even your pet!

They've been popularised by the GoPro Hero range, but there are now dozens to choose from, including bullet-style cameras to fit to the side of a helmet, say.

Action cams shoot good-quality Full HD footage (some, like the Hero5 Black can even shoot 4K) through fixed focal length wide-angle lenses. Some are completely waterproof, while others come bundled with waterproof housings.

Action cams are the complete antithesis of traditional camcorders – they're so cheap that you don't mind giving them a battering, they're small enough and light enough not to get in the way, and they're so simple that all you need to know is how to press a button.

Pros: Cheap, tough and simple, surprisingly good Full HD movie quality (in some cases 4K), you can mount them on practically anything.

Cons: Fixed wide-angle lenses mean there's no zoom capability,  while there's little control over exposure. Stills are snapshot quality only.

Our pick... GoPro Hero5 Black

GoPro really had to step up its game if it wanted to remain at the top of the action cam pile, and the Hero5 Black is a great reminder of why the name is so revered and why it's our top pick. Simple to use, the addition of a rear touchscreen, voice control and GPS make it one of the most feature-packed cams currently available. Video footage is now smoother than ever too, while the ability to shoot stills in raw, and the Wide Dynamic Range feature, make the Hero5 Black more versatile than ever.

Read the full review: GoPro Hero5 Black

Cheap point and shoot cameras might look like an easy upgrade from a smartphone, but they have limitations of their own.

So assuming your smartphone doesn't offer the versatility you need, and that you're into decent quality stills rather than immersive action video, then a regular digital camera is the way to go.

Point and shoot compact cameras are cheap, and they come with zoom lenses and more control over exposure, white balance, focus and other settings than you'll get with a smartphone.

The zoom lens is the killer feature. Smartphones offer 'digital' zooms, but that's not the same at all, because these simply crop in on a smaller area of the picture, so you're losing resolution. Typically, a cheap point-and-shoot compact will have a 5x zoom which goes wider than a smartphone lens – handy for cramped interiors and tall buildings – and much longer, so that you can fill the frame with people and subjects when they're further away.

But the picture quality isn't necessarily better. Cheap cameras have cheap lenses, which can produce mushy definition at the edges of the frame or at full zoom, and the sensors are not much larger. Sensor size is a key factor in picture quality, as we'll see later on. Point-and-shoot cameras typically have 1/2.3 inch sensors, which are about half the size of your little fingernail, and scarcely larger than those in a decent smartphone. Forget about megapixels – the sensor size is what limits the image quality.

Pros: Versatility of a zoom lens; much more control over exposure, color and focus; easier to hold.

Cons: Quality often no better than a smartphone, sometimes worse.

Our pick... Sony Cyber-shot WX220

Sony W800

If you're wanting a compact camera that can do a better job than your smartphone the Cyber-shot WX220 ticks a lot of boxes, especially when you consider the extra flexibility offered by the 10x optical zoom, running from 25-250mm. Images are bright and punchy, with decent detail – ideal for sharing online or printing at typical sizes – while it's nice to see Wi-Fi connectivity included as well. The 2.7-inch screen is a little on the small side, but that does help to keep the dimensions of the camera to a pocket-friendly size. The WX220 may not have lots of bells and whistles, but what it does do, it does well.

Read the full review: Sony Cyber-shot WX220

Travel compacts, or 'long zoom' compacts, give you point and shoot simplicity but a much longer zoom to capture a wider range of subjects.

A cheap point-and-shoot compact is a relatively small step up from the camera in a smartphone, but long-zoom 'travel' compacts take their main advantage – the zoom lens – a whole lot further. A 'travel compact' is essentially a point-and-shoot camera but with a much, much longer zoom range, typically 30x.

The idea is that you have a camera that still fits in your pocket, but has such a colossal zoom range that you can photograph practically anything, from beautiful landscapes to far-off landmarks.

After all, when you go on vacation you want a camera small enough to go in a pocket so that it doesn't get in the way when you're doing other things, but versatile enough that you won't miss any once-in-a-lifetime photos.

Travel compacts have the same size sensors as point-and-shoot compacts, but this is changing, with models like the Panasonic Lumix ZS100 (known as the Lumix TZ100 outside the US) getting larger 1-inch sized sensors, while the lenses are generally better quality, quite apart from their increased zoom range. Some have more advanced exposure modes for controlling the shutter speed and lens aperture independently, and may even capture RAW files for higher-quality processing back on the computer. Some, like the Lumix TZ100 / ZS100 again, even have built-in electronic viewfinders.

If your budget can stretch to it, a long-zoom travel compact is almost certainly a better bet than a cheaper point-and-shoot model. You gain a lot and sacrifice nothing.

Pros: Massive zoom range that copes with almost any kind of subject; quality generally slightly higher than a point-and-shoot compact; may have more advanced controls.

Cons: More expensive; still uses a small sensor (with some exceptions) which limits the ultimate picture quality, especially in low-light conditions.

Our pick... Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100

Panasonic TZ100

It might not have the longest zoom range for a travel compact camera, but Panasonic's Lumix ZS100 / TZ100 is still our pick of the travel compacts. Panasonic has managed to squeeze a much larger sensor into the ZS100 (TZ100 outside the US) that enables the pixels to be about 2.4x bigger than they are in models like the Lumix ZS70 / TZ90 and this helps the ZS100 produce much higher quality images. The 10x zoom ranging from 25-250mm might look limited compared to some rivals, but the optics are decent and for general photography, you shouldn't need anything more. You also get an electronic viewfinder that makes it easier to compose images in bright sunny conditions and 4K video recording. It all adds up to be a powerful, if pricey option.

Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100

Bridge cameras have DSLR-style controls and massive zooms, but image quality isn't a strong point unless you want to pay a premium.

If the size of the camera isn't important but you like the idea of a do-it-all camera with a super-long zoom lens, then a 'bridge' camera is the next logical step.

The name 'bridge camera' comes from the way these cameras are designed to bridge the gap between a regular compact camera and a DSLR. In fact, bridge cameras often look like DSLRs, with a characteristic 'fat' body, a chunky grip on the right hand side, an exposure mode dial on the top and the program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual (PASM) modes of DSLRs. Many models now shoot raws as well, but check the specification to make sure.

But while bridge cameras offer monumental zoom ranges, such as the amazing 83x zoom on the Nikon Coolpix P900, there are limitations. In order to achieve these zoom ranges at a manageable size and cost, the makers use the same-sized 1/2.3-inch sensors as you find in smaller compact cameras. You get the look and feel of a DSLR, but you don't get the image quality.

There are exceptions, though. In the past couple of years the likes of Sony and Panasonic have launched bridge cameras with much larger 1-inch sensors, notably the Sony RX10 III and Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 (known as the Lumix FZ2000 outside the US). This comes at the expense of zoom range (though still very impressive and more than adequate for most shooting situations) and, well, expense generally, but most keen photographers would swap a little zoom range for a big step up in quality.

Pros: Massive zoom range; DSLR-style controls and features; versatility and value for money.

Cons: Small sensor size limits the quality (with some key exceptions); detail often quite soft at full zoom; autofocus systems rarely match DSLRs for responsiveness.

Our pick... Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500

Sony RX10 III

The new Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 / FZ2000 uses a 1-inch sensor, and while the zoom tops out at 480mm equivalent, which is relatively short for a bridge camera, that's still plenty for all but the most extreme everyday use. We'd certainly sacrifice a little for of zoom range for better and faster optics. We love the FZ2000 because it delivers both image quality and zoom range, but if you're looking for something a bit cheaper, the older Lumix FZ1000 is also worth a look.

Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500

A high-end compact is perfect for quality-conscious enthusiasts who want a 'proper' camera small enough to fit in a coat pocket.

Where bridge cameras deliver the most bang for your buck, a high-end compact camera offers a different route towards better pictures. Here, you're not paying for a huge zoom range, but for a larger sensor, a better lens, DSLR-style controls and features and (sometimes) DSLR picture quality.

High-end compact cameras are designed for enthusiasts and experts who want a camera small enough to carry round when a regular DSLR would just be too intrusive or impractical.

The zoom range is nothing special – it's about the same as you'd get in a regular point-and-shoot model, with some opting for a fixed focal length - but combined with a bigger sensor, better lens and more advanced controls, you can expect image quality to be on a completely different level from your smartphone or point-and-shoot compact.

At one time, most high-end compacts had 1/1.7-inch sensors just a little larger than those in point-and-shoot cameras, but now there are models with larger 1-inch sensors (see the Canon G7 X II, Panasonic Lumix LX10 / LX15 and Sony RX100 V) and even Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic Lumix LX100) and APS-C sensors (Fujifilm's X100F) - the same size as those in some compact system cameras and DSLRs.

Pros: DSLR features and DSLR-approaching quality in a pocket-sized camera.

Cons: Even the cheapest aren't cheap, and the most expensive really are expensive; you can't change lenses.

Our pick... Fujifilm X100F

It may be one of the more expensive options and it's not a compact for everyone, but if you're after a high-quality camera, you're not going to be disappointed with the X100F. Everything about it oozes class. It has a fixed 35mm equivalent f/2.0 prime lens that's paired with a DSLR-sized 24.3MP APS-C sensor that delivers cracking results. There's also the tactile external controls and clever hybrid viewfinder - you have the option of electronic and optical views make it a joy to shoot with. You'll need some photo knowledge to get the best from it, but  the X100F is an exquisite camera.

Read the full review: Fujifilm X100F

Digital SLRs offer big sensors and interchangeable lenses, and they mark the first step into 'serious' photography.

DSLRs are still considered the number one choice for 'serious' photographers, and they make great cameras for students too because they teach all the basic principles of photography without costing a fortune.

A DSLR is fundamentally different to the cameras covered so far because you can swap lenses. This is where digital cameras split into two main types.

So far we've been looking at so-called 'compact' cameras, though it would be more accurate to call them 'fixed lens' cameras, since they're often far from compact! This includes point-and-shoot cameras, action cameras, travel zooms, bridge cameras and high-end compacts.

But the second type is 'interchangeable lens' cameras, which is where you get into DSLR territory (and compact system cameras – more on these shortly).

DSLRs are perfect for anyone who wants to take their photography more seriously

Being able to change lenses really opens up a whole new world of photography. DSLRs often come with 'standard' zooms, or 'kit' lenses, which cover an everyday range of focal lengths, but you can also get telephotos, super-wide-angle lenses, macro lenses for extreme close-ups, fisheye lenses and fast (wide aperture) prime lenses for atmospheric defocused backgrounds.

DSLRs are perfect for anyone who wants to take their photography more seriously, not just because you can change lenses, but because they have large APS-C sensors that deliver much better quality than the smaller sensors in most compact cameras. You also get full manual controls, the ability to shoot raw files and an optical viewfinder that gives you a bright, clear view of the scene in front of the camera.

Pros: Interchangeable lenses; full manual controls; raw files; APS-C sensor for a big step up in quality.

Cons: Big and bulky compared to most compact cameras; focusing in 'live view' on the rear screen is comparatively sluggish on most models.

Our pick... Nikon D3300

Nikon's D3400 might have replaced it, but the D3300 is still our top pick. Why? Unless you want improved connectivity, then the D3300 is pretty much identical to the D3400 and that bit cheaper. The 24.2MP sensor resolves bags of detail and like much like pricier Nikon DSLRs, it does away with an anti-aliasing filter to maximise image sharpness. This is also a very easy camera to live with. Its clever Guide Mode is a useful learning tool that gives real-time explanations of important features, whilst the collapsible 18-55mm kit lens is great when you're on the go. It's a shame you don't get an articulated touchscreen display or Wi-Fi connectivity, but Nikon does make a cheap plug-in Wi-Fi adaptor if that's a deal-breaker for you.

Read the full review: Nikon D3300

Mirrorless 'compact system cameras' also take interchangeable lenses and they're a new and fascinating alternative to DSLRs.

Until recently, the DSLR design was the only choice for photographers who wanted interchangeable lenses – but it has its drawbacks. The optical viewfinder on a DSLR is great, but if you want to use the LCD display to compose your shots, just like you would on a compact camera, they're much less effective. That's because to do this a DSLR has to flip up its mirror and swap to a slower, more laborious autofocus system.

So camera makers have introduced a new breed of 'mirrorless' cameras, also known as 'compact system cameras (CSCs). These are just like supersized compact cameras, but with bigger sensors and interchangeable lenses, just like DSLRs. The absence of a mirror means that the cameras can be made both smaller and lighter, and the latest models use new and more sophisticated autofocus systems that put them on a par with DSLRs.

A lot of mirrorless cameras are very similar in their handling to a DSLR

All mirrorless cameras let you compose images on the rear screen with no loss of autofocus performance. Indeed, on many mirrorless cameras this is the only way to take pictures, because cheaper models don't have viewfinders.

It's worth paying the extra for a camera with a viewfinder, though, because these can be invaluable in bright light, where the glare can easily swamp the screen on the back. On a mirrorless camera, though, the viewfinder is electronic rather than optical. Electronic viewfinders can show you the image exactly as the sensor will capture it, but many still prefer the optical clarity of a DSLR viewfinder.

For the time being it looks as if DSLRs and mirrorless cameras will co-exist. Neither type is better than they other – they're really on a parallel path – so it really comes down to which type you prefer.

Fuji X-T10

Some mirrorless come without a viewfinder - more compact, but can be an issue in bright light

Pros: Small and light; mechanically simpler than DSLRs; full time 'live view' with fast autofocus.

Cons: Some models don't have viewfinders; electronic viewfinders lack the clarity of a DSLR's optical system; so far, the range of lenses available is more limited, but is growing.

Our pick... Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

We loved the original E-M10 for its size, versatility and value for money, but the E-M10 II adds features that take it to another level. The old camera's 3-axis image stabilization system has been uprated to the 5-axis system in Olympus's more advanced OM-D cameras, the viewfinder resolution has been practically doubled and the continuous shooting speed, already impressive at 8fps, creeps up to 8.5fps. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. It's small, but it's no toy – the E-M10 II is a properly powerful camera.

Read the full review: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

Moving up to a full-frame camera brings a modest increase in quality and a big increase in price, so make sure it's worth it.

Most 'amateur' DSLRs and compact system cameras use APS-C size sensors. These are many times larger than the sensors in the average compact camera and deliver the kind of quality needed by professional photographers – or very nearly.

Although many professionals are perfectly happy with the quality they get from an APS-C format camera, it's more likely they'll go for a 'full-frame' camera (the frame is the same size as old 35mm film). These have sensors twice as large again as APS-C and deliver a further improvement in image quality. The differences are not always obvious, but at this level any improvement is useful.

Full-frame DSLRs are the next set-up for most users

You'll also need a full-frame camera if you want the very highest resolutions currently available – the latest holder of this record is the 50-megapixel Canon EOS 5DS.

Most full-frame cameras are DSLRs. Canon and Nikon make full-frame DSLRs aimed at serious professional users and cheaper full-frame models for advanced amateurs – so the full-frame format is not exclusively for pros.

Sony is following a different path with its full-frame A7-series compact system cameras, like the excellent Alpha 7R II. These look like regular DSLRs but they're more compact and have electronic rather than optical viewfinders. The mirrorless design and full-time live view makes them perfect for shooting video, too, and this is growing in importance as more and more pros find themselves asked to shoot video as well as stills.

Nikon D810

If you want a mirrorless full-frame camera, take a look at Sony's Alpha A7 range of cameras

Pros: Maximum quality thanks to the full-frame sensor; often designed for tough, daily use; high resolution or high continuous shooting speeds a speciality

Cons: Expensive to buy and that goes for full frame lenses, too; pro models are bulky and heavy

Our pick... Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon's EOS 5D series of cameras has a rich heritage – the original EOS 5D bought full-frame photography to the masses, the Mark II unleashed Full HD video capture for the first time on a DSLR, and while the Mark III became a firm favourite amongst photographers. The 5D Mark IV pretty much tweaks and improves on everything before it. With a new sensor that delivers pin-sharp results, a 61-point AF system that's incredibly advanced and some very polished handling, the EOS 5D Mark IV has to be one of the best DSLRs we've seen. A serious investment, but you won't be disappointed.

Read the full review: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Video-enabled DSLRs have replaced pro camcorders for many videographers, but it's mirrorless cameras which are now driving the technology forward.

Photography isn't just about still images any more. Traditionally, video has been seen as a completely separate subject with a different set of skills, but that's changing – and fast. It's as easy to shoot a video on your smartphone as it is to take a still, and almost all compact system cameras and DSLRs are capable of professional quality video that makes a dedicated camcorder unnecessary.

It all depends on what you want to shoot and what you want to do with it afterwards. If you want to share movies with your friends, a smartphone is ideal and can deliver surprising quality.

Phones aren't built to survive the rough and tumble of extreme sports, of course, but action cams are, and many TV companies use regular GoPro-style cameras to capture footage they could never have recorded with a conventional camera.

If you need to shoot commercial-quality video for your own projects or paying clients, both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can do the job. DSLRs were the first to bring pro-quality movie modes and are still the favorites amongst pros, but mirrorless cameras are catching up and have key advantages; notably full-time live view with fast and smooth autofocus.

Panasonic GH4

Some models offer a wealth of features to help you capture commercial quality video

And it's mirrorless cameras which are at the forefront of 4K video. Panasonic is pushing the idea of stills-from-movies with the likes of the GH4, and the ability to capture high-quality 8-megapixel stills at 30 frames per second as a by-product of the 4K video capability in its latest mirrorless cameras.

If you're choosing a camera for video, the normal rules about sensor size don't apply because even 4K video is at a lower resolution that still images. The key for video is processing power and camera design.

Right now, DSLRs are a good, conservative choice for movie makers shooting full HD, but mirrorless compact system cameras are the ones pushing back the boundaries of video, including 4K.

Our pick... Panasonic Lumix GH5

It’s hard to know where to start with the GH5. Rather than using a cropped area of the sensor when shooting 4K as was the case with the GH4, the GH5 uses the entire width of the chip and then downsamples the footage in-camera. This also means that framing won’t be cropped, and you’ll be able to use your lenses as if you’re shooting stills. Currently the Lumix GH5 allows you to shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at 60p with a bit rate of 150Mbps, while Full HD video is obviously also possible, up to a very impressive 180p. That's not all, as the GH5 offers color subsampling at 4:2:2 and a color depth of 10-bit, delivering greater color information and richer graduations. The GH5 also offers live output to external recorders such as Apple ProRes via HDMI, as well as simultaneous internal recording. That's certainly a comprehensive video spec, but Panasonic is also planning to introduce a number of firmware updates over the coming months to bolster the GH5's recording capabilities even further. 

Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix GH5

Posted: July 20, 2017, 9:08 am

The most common question people ask when buying their first DSLR is whether to side with Canon or Nikon. Indeed, even more experienced photographers tied to one system often think about what they would gain by switching sides. 

The fact is that both companies make excellent DSLRs. Nevertheless, at any given point they each have slightly different offerings on the market, and so it follows that some models will be better suited to your specific needs than others. 

To that end, we’ve rounded up the main DSLRs currently available from the two (bar the most senior models designed for professionals) and compared them with their rivals in the same price bracket.

Whether you’re a photographic novice looking for your first camera, an enthusiast keen on exploring a range of options or a more advanced user looking for a full-frame powerhouse, read on to get the best idea of what your money gets you. 

Canon vs Nikon: Entry-level DSLRs

If you’ve got up to £450/$500 or so to spend on your first DSLR, you’re very much spoilt for choice. Not only do you have a raft of brand new models to consider, but there are also many older ones that manufacturers typically subject to discounts and cashback offers to hook you into their system.

Currently, the cheapest options are the Canon EOS 1300D (known as the EOS Rebel T6 in the US) and Canon EOS 100D (known as the EOS Rebel SL1 in the US), as well as the Nikon D3300 and the newer Nikon D3400. There's also the new EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, that replaces the ageing SL1/100D, but we're still waiting to test that. It does mean you might be able to track down a good deal on the older model though! 

Current cashback offers on the first two Canon DSLRs price them very aggressively against Nikon’s offerings, although Nikon’s two models do have a slight edge with their spec sheets.

Canon EOS 1300D / Rebel T6

Canon EOS 100D / Rebel SL1

For example, both the D3300 and D3400 have 24MP sensors and can shoot at 5fps, and each is furnished with an 11-point AF system. By contrast, the EOS 1300D and EOS 100D have 18MP sensors and can only shoot at 3fps and 4fps respectively, with a 9-point AF system apiece. Not huge differences, and potentially not too important for those just wanting to get started, but something to consider nonetheless.

The EOS 100D’s main draw is that it’s painfully small, so it may make you more inclined to use it more often than the others, although the newer EOS 1300D has a more refined features set. 

Nikon D3300

Nikon D3400

Nikon’s D3400 isn’t a significant upgrade over the D3300, and the fact that it doesn't offer automatic, built-in sensor cleaning places it at a disadvantage to the others. Being quite new also means that it doesn't offer quite the same value as its competitors either, but the price has dropped quite a bit since its launch last year. 

While our review of the D3300 noted that some may prefer a broader range of physical controls, that camera is perhaps the strongest model out of the quartet. If, however, you’re on a tighter budget the EOS 1300D might just be a better option for you.

If you’ve got a little more to spend you've got perhaps even more choice. From Canon you've got the Canon EOS Rebel T5i (known as the EOS 700D outside the US), Canon EOS Rebel T6i (EOS 750D), Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D) and the EOS 77D

From Nikon, there's not quite the same amount of models to pick from, but the Nikon D5300 and Nikon D5600 are still very strong contenders. 

Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D

Canon EOS Rebel T6i / EOS 750D

Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D

Starting with the EOS Rebel T5i / EOS 700D, the main differences between this model and its cheaper siblings (the EOS Rebel T6 and EOS SL1 on the previous page) include a touchscreen LCD that you can pull away from the camera, as well as a hybrid AF system that keeps focusing during video recording. 

It also shoots at a slightly faster 5fps but offers the same 18MP sensor resolution as the more junior models. When we came to review the camera, we praised its image quality and loved the flexibility of its LCD, even if the touchscreen means of operation meant that it easily attracted fingerprints.

The EOS 700D is quite a bit cheaper than the Nikon D5300, although the D5300 has many advantages. These include a 24.2MP sensor with no low-pass filter, a 39-point AF system, a larger 3.2in LCD screen (though there's no touchscreen functionality) and Wi-Fi built into the body. 

Collectively, this adds up to a much better proposition, although it doesn't have a touchscreen, which may be a deal-breaker. We weren’t so crazy about the D5300’s AF speeds in live view when we reviewed the camera either, although we were otherwise left with positive impressions.

Nikon D5300

Nikon D5600

For a little more cash the Canon EOS Rebel T6i / 750D is also well worth a look. Although our review found that it didn't quite match the D5500 for detail, we loved its handling and the way the touchscreen controls had been implemented, and felt it was overall a worthy upgrade on the EOS 700D. 

Next up is the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D. The direct successor to the T6i / 750D, it'll set you back a bit more as it's a newer camera, but it comes with a newer sensor (though the resolution remains the same at 24.2MP) that delivers better noise performance at higher ISOs and a great improved AF system. The EOS 77D is pretty much identical to the T7i / 800D as far as spec goes, but offers more body mounted controls - useful if you're a slightly more experienced user.

That leaves the Nikon D5600, which features a 24.2MP sensor that produces very detailed images, along with an articulating touchscreen, decent 39-point AF system and polished handling. These all combine to make the D5600 one of the most well-rounded entry-level DSLRs available.

If you’re after something more advanced than each manufacturer’s most basic offerings, you’ll be looking towards models such as the Canon EOS 80D, Nikon D7100, Nikon D7200 and the new Nikon D7500.

Canon EOS 80D

Nikon D7100

Nikon D7200

Nikon D7500

All four occupy a similar kind of price bracket but there are differences. Over the D7100, Nikon’s D7200 has many advantages, including a newer processor, built-in Wi-Fi, a broader sensitivity range, better battery life, a more generous buffer and a second-generation 51-point AF system that promises better low-light shooting. 

The D7200’s sensor is a 24.2MP DX-format unit, instead of the 24.1MP one inside the D7100, but both lack an anti-aliasing filter for better detail retention. 

We were perfectly pleased with images from the D7100 in our review, so if you’re not too fussed about having a stronger spec sheet the D7100 is a great buy. Then again, you do get a lot more with the D7200 for not a great deal more money.

Does the much newer Canon EOS 80D give either something to worry about? Well, with an articulating LCD that’s sensitive to touch, a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that provides continuous focus in stills and movies and an all-cross-type 45-point AF system, the answer is a definite yes.  

We found the EOS 80D’s focusing system worked brilliantly when we tested it, although it’s a comprehensive system whose control may overwhelm some. Nevertheless, with 7fps burst shooting also on board – which the D7200 can only manage at a crop setting – it’s very much recommended if you reckon you’ll be shooting both action and videos.

That leaves the new D7500. This latest addition to Nikon’s DSLR line-up represents the biggest revamp we’ve seen in the D7xxx series since the D7000 replaced the D90. The combination of Nikon's 20.9MP sensor and EXPEED 5 image processing engine from the D500 (see below) in an even more compact and affordable body make it a very tempting proposition.

Pro-spec APS-C DSLRs

Two further models are nestled between these and the full-frame offerings from each manufacturer. 

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II and more recently launched Nikon D500 each provide action photographers with a compelling proposition. While their sensors are more or less evenly matched at 20.2MP and 20.9MP respectively, the D500’s sensor lacks an anti-aliasing filter, which should help it to capture slightly better detail. 

EOS 7D Mark II

Nikon D500

Up until the D500 was released, the EOS 7D Mark II’s 65-point all-cross-type AF system sounded impressive, but Nikon’s D500 has trounced this with a 153-point AF module with 99 cross-type points (although only 55 of these can be manually addressed by the user). 

Both cameras can shoot at 10fps, but the D500 promises up to 200 Raw frames versus the 31 Raw frames from the Canon, although both can capture JPEGs indefinitely at this rate. Together with 4K video recording, a broader ISO range and a larger, higher-resolution, touch-sensitive screen that can be tilted relative to the camera, the D500 outguns its rival in many areas.

The fact that it only offers 20MP may put some off, and all of its advantages very much come at a steep price. If price is no issue than the D500 is very much on top, with its strong spec sheet and excellent performance meaning that it should remain relatively future-proof, but there’s no question that the EOS 7D Mark II is currently the better value deal. 

Most people looking at a DSLR at this level are after a one that’s furnished with a full-frame sensor, and both manufacturers provide a range of solutions.

These are roughly spread across two price levels. At the lower end there’s the Canon EOS 6D, Nikon D610 and Nikon D750, with the first two priced within about £50/$75 of each other. 

Canon EOS 6D

Nikon D610

Nikon D750

The 24.3MP Nikon D610 has the advantage of a higher-resolution sensor than the 20.2MP Canon EOS 6D, together with a slightly larger LCD and two card slots. It also has a 39-point AF system with 11 cross-type points, which is great for all-round use.  

The Canon EOS 6D, meanwhile has built-in Wi-Fi and GPS to recommend it over the D610, and although its focusing system only has 11 points – with just one cross-type point – this can focus better in lower light levels than the D610’s. 

Together with its slightly broader ISO range, it’s therefore more likely to appeal to those who imagine they will be using it in low light with some frequency. Then again, the D610 offers a built-in flash, which is nowhere to be found on the EOS 6D.  

So what about the D750? Well, for just over £200/$250 more than those two, you get a tilting LCD screen with a higher resolution, a more refined 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type points and better video specs (including a headphone port). 

Image quality is also measurably better than the D610’s. In fact, we didn't have too many gripes with it when we came to review it. Particularly if low-light shooting or video is key, the D750 is our pick of the bunch.

There's also the recent arrival of the Canon EOS 6D Mark II that looks like it could be a excellent update, but we're still in the process of reviewing, so we'll be able to tell you more soon.

High-end options

Canon and Nikon each have a number of options at the £2000/$2500+ end of the full-frame scale, but the main four are the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EOS 5DS (and its EOS 5DS R sibling) and the Nikon D810

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 5DS

Nikon D810

Prices vary considerably here, so it’s worth thinking about what’s your primary concern. If it’s resolution, then the 50MP EOS 5DS wins hands down, as the sensors inside the others range from 22.3MP on the EOS 5D Mark III through to 30.4MP on the EOS 5D Mark IV and 36.3MP on the Nikon D810. 

If video is more of a concern, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV makes the most sense, partly because it’s the only camera to offer 4K, which makes it the most future-proof. Of course, the Nikon D810 and EOS 5D Mark III are also capable of excellent HD video, and they are much cheaper too.

Indeed, while we showered the EOS 5D Mark IV with praise and awarded it with a full five stars in our review, right now it’s the D810 and EOS 5D Mark III that are perhaps the best options for many. Once again, they may not be the newest models, but each has a well-rounded feature set that should please those working across a range of genres and their age allows them to offer excellent value for money.

Posted: July 19, 2017, 11:18 am

Selective adjustments are one of the most powerful tools in Lightroom, so it's no surprise to hear that it's been one of the most requested features when it comes to what users would like to see next on Lightroom for iOS. And the good news is that it's now here, in the shape of the Selective Brush. 

Using the new tool, you can selectively brush in enhancements in any part of an image, while those using an iPhone 6S or later with 3D Touch can vary the intensity of the effect by pressing softer or harder; iPad Pro users using an Apple Pencil have the same capability. 

There's also a new Details Tab, which allows global control over sharpening and noise reduction.

Finally, with the iPad Pro and Pro2 offering performance that makes them a viable laptop replacement for some photographers, the iPad interface for Lightroom gets an overhaul.

Android experience

As well as improvements to Lightroom for iOS, Lightroom for Android has been redesigned from the ground up to deliver what Adobe promises to be a faster and more efficient user experience, with every screen redesigned.  

Lightroom for iOS can be downloaded for free from the App Store, while Lightroom for Android can also be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.

Posted: July 19, 2017, 9:59 am
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The Nikon D7500 marks the biggest departure yet for Nikon’s D7xxx series of enthusiast-focused DSLRs, with the camera borrowing quite a bit of the tech from Nikon's top-of-the-range DX-format DSLR, the mighty D500.

Nikon is keen to stress, however, that this new camera isn't a direct replacement for the D7200, which will continue to feature in the Nikon line-up, but rather slots in above it.

So does the D7500 muddy the waters by adding an extra layer of confusion to the Nikon DX-format range? Or does it do enough to stand out among some pretty impressive stablemates?

Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 20.9MP
  • 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 922,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

One of the biggest shake-ups the Nikon D7500 brings is the change of sensor. While both the D7100 and D7200 sported 24MP chips (as, for that matter, did the entry-level D3400 and D5600), here Nikon has opted to use the slightly lower-resolution 20.9MP sensor from the D500, which, as in that camera, is teamed with Nikon's EXPEED 5 image processor.

As on the D500, omitting the low-pass filter has enabled Nikon to eke out that bit more detail from the 20.9MP sensor, and while it may seem quite a sacrifice to lose almost 4MP compared to the D7200's 24.2MP, the minor drop in resolution does have advantages, particularly when it comes to sensitivity. 

Compared to the D7200’s ISO range of 100-25,600, the D7500’s 100-51,200 standard offers an extra stop of flexibility, but it’s the expanded range that impresses. There’s a low setting of ISO50, while the upper ceiling is a staggering ISO1,640,000. The reality is that these upper sensitivities are likely to be pretty much unusable, but the benefits will be felt further down the sensitivity range, and if the new camera performs like the D500 it should impress in this regard. 

While both the D7100 and D7200 sported 3.2-inch displays that sat flush with the camera body, the D7500 has a 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen display with a 922,000-dot resolution (the D500 has a 2,359,000-dot resolution). There’s also an eye-level pentaprism optical viewfinder that offers 100% coverage.

We’re pleased to see 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video capture arrive on the D7500, at 30, 25 and 24p for up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds. As usual there are lower-resolution video modes, and Full HD footage can be shot in 60p for slow-motion playback. In addition, 4K UHD timelapse movies can be created in-camera, and there's electronic Vibration Reduction to reduce the impact of camera shake when shooting movies hand-held.

The D7500 also offers simultaneous 4K UHD output – to card, and uncompressed via HDMI – as well as a headphone and microphone jack for pro-level audio recording and monitoring.

Speaking of cards, the D7500 only features a single SD card slot, not two, as on the D7200, which will no doubt be a disappointment for some potential buyers.

As we’ve seen with the D500, D3400 and D5600, the D7500 sports Nikon's SnapBridge technology, enabling the camera to stay permanently linked to a smart device over a low-power Bluetooth connection (or via Wi-Fi). This means that after the initial connection has been made images can be transferred automatically to your phone whenever you shoot. 

Build and handling

  • Weighs 640g / 1lb 6.6oz
  • 5% lighter than the D7200
  • Comprehensive weather sealing

The Nikon D7500 is 5% lighter than the D7200 (and 16% lighter than the D500), and tips the scales at a modest 640g / 1lb 6.6oz. Despite this minor weight saving though, it feels reassuringly solid in the hand.

Compared to the D7200 the handgrip is that bit deeper, and this, combined with the soft-texture coatings on the front and rear of the grip, ensures that the D7500 feels secure and comfortable in the hand. 

The D7500 is chunky enough that when we held the camera our little finger didn't slip off the bottom of the grip, which is just as well as those who want even better purchase and a more comfortable vertical shooting experience will be disappointed to hear that currently there isn't an optional vertical grip available.

Like the D7200, the D7500 is weather-proofed, so you'll be able to keep shooting when the elements turn against you. Interestingly, the magnesium alloy panels in the D7200's construction have disappeared, and are replaced by a single monocoque construction in an effort to save weight, although despite this apparently retrograde step this still feels like a well-made piece of kit for the price – it certainly doesn't feel plasticky.

There have also been some tweaks to the Nikon D7500's button placement compared to the D7200.

On the top plate the metering mode button has disappeared, to be replaced by a dedicated ISO button, as we saw on the D500. Its position has shifted slightly to be closer to the exposure compensation control, making it easier to reach when the camera is raised to your eye.

Moving round the back of the D7500, the general control layout remains virtually identical to the D7200. Metering mode now takes the spot vacated by the ISO control, while the 'info' and 'i' buttons have swapped sides.


The rear display is a touch slimmer than the D500's when you pull it out and away from the body. It can be tilted downwards and upwards, while it's nice to see some touchscreen functionality arrive on a D7xxx DSLR. 

There's obviously tap-to-focus control (you can also tap the area of the screen where you want to focus and trigger the shutter at the same time), while the touchscreen makes reviewing images that much quicker too – you can swipe through photos and pinch-zoom images. The menus can also be navigated via the touchscreen, a first for a Nikon DSLR.

The drop in screen resolution, to 922,000 dots from the D7200's 1,299,000, seems a bit of a backward step however – it's even lower than the D5600's 1,037,000-dot resolution, but in our time with the camera this didn't seem to impact on the user experience, with a decent amount of clarity and good color rendition. 

Autofocus

  • 51-point AF, 15 cross-type AF points
  • Group-Area AF added
  • Auto AF Fine Tune

While the Nikon D7500 borrows a lot from the D500, it doesn’t get the same sophisticated 153-point AF system the D500 enjoys. Instead, it gets an uprated version of the 51-point AF system that was in the D7200.

This system may be getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s a tried and tested one that’s still well specified. Fifteen of the 51 AF points are the more sensitive cross-type variety, which offer greater precision and accuracy, while the coverage can be configured down to 21 and nine points if you wish.

This AF system might be getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s a tried and tested one

The D7500’s AF system now gets a Group-Area AF mode, which we first saw on the D810. This promises to enhance subject detection and tracking, with the D7500 constantly monitoring five different AF fields, and improves focus acquisition and background isolation.

When using with 3D tracking, the D7500 does an excellent job of following subjects through the frame

Another subtle difference from the system in the D7200 is that the AF system is hooked up to a different metering sensor, which is used to aid image recognition when focusing. While the D7200 uses the older 2016-pixel RGB sensor, the D7500 enjoys the same 180,000-pixel RGB sensor as the D500, which when combined with the decent coverage of AF points across the frame  delivers reliable AF tracking performance.

Away from 3D tracking, and the D7500's Dynamic AF mode (using 9, 21 or 51 AF points) is again, very good

Like both the D500 and the D5, the D7500 gets the Auto AF Fine Tune feature, which when in Live View enables users to automatically calibrate autofocus with specific lenses if required.

Despite the Live View AF not being quite as fast as rivals, it still does a decent job


Autofocus in Live View can be a bit of a clunky experience with many Nikon DSLRs, but it's a bit more refined on the D7500. It's not a match for Canon's excellent Dual Pixel AF system that we've seen in several recent cameras, but focusing is better than we've experienced with a lot of other Nikon bodies, while the ability to tap-focus using the touchscreen speeds things up greatly.

Performance

  • 8fps burst shooting
  • 180K-pixel metering sensor
  • 950-shot battery life

With a raft of mirrorless cameras, such as the Fujifilm X-T2, overshadowing the 6fps burst shooting performance of the D7200, it’s no surprise to see the Nikon D7500 offering 8fps.

Helped by the new EXPEED 5 image processor, the D7500 can shoot a burst of 50 raw files before the buffer needs to clear – quite an improvement over the D7200’s 18 raw files at 6fps.

The D7500's metering system performs very well

As we've touched upon, the D7500 inherits the D5 and D500’s 180,000-pixel RGB sensor, which handles metering and white balance, as well as informing the automatic scene recognition system to help improve autofocusing with better subject detection.

As expected the metering system performs very well, consistently delivering spot-on exposures, while the Auto White Balance does a solid job too. 

There's a new battery as well – the EN-EL15a is good for 950 shots before it needs charging. That's streets ahead of most mirrorless cameras, for which you'd need two or more batteries to even think of getting that kind of endurance, but it's actually down 150 shots from the D7200's 1,100-shot battery life – undoubtably one of the trade-offs for having the more powerful EXPEED 5 image processor on board here.

Image quality

  • ISO100-51,200, expandable to 50-1,640,000
  • Impressive dynamic range
  • Excellent noise performance

With the same sensor as the fabulous D500 at the heart of things, the results from the Nikon D7500 are predictably excellent.

It may have slightly less pixels than more affordable DX Nikon DSLRs, but unless you're going to spend most of your time shooting at ISO100, the minor drop in resolution is a compromise worth making.

Don't be put off by the D7500 having 'only' a 20.9MP resolution – there's still plenty of detail

This is underlined when you look at images through the ISO range. Shots taken at the lower end of the sensitivity range display excellent levels of detail, but the camera really starts to shine as you bump up the ISO setting. 

While detail does suffer a touch at ISO6400, results stand up remarkably well. Increase the sensitivity a further stop to ISO12,800, and while there's now a hint of chroma (color) noise in shots, results are still very good.

At ISO100 JPEG files look very clean

Further up the D7500's sensitivity range, at ISO6400, results still look very good

Even at the highest native setting of ISO51,200, image quality holds up very well

As you'd expect, luminance (grain-like) noise becomes more pronounced at ISO25,600 and ISO51,200, but the results are still some of the best we've seen from a camera at these sensitivities. 

Once you go beyond the realm of the camera's native sensitivities, things do tail off. That said, results at Hi1 (ISO102,400) are actually pretty good for such a high value, but banding starts to creep into images shot at Hi2 (ISO204,800); we'd caution against using anything higher, as results can look pretty murky and suffer from a severe lack of detail. 

The Auto White Balance is very good, while colors have a nice punch


Dynamic range is also very impressive. It's possible to recover shadow detail in a shot that's been underexposed by some five stops – even six at a push – and still end up with a very satisfactory shot. 

Verdict

This latest addition to Nikon’s DSLR line-up represents the biggest revamp we’ve seen in the D7xxx series since the D7000 arrived and replaced the D90.

Getting one negative out of the way first, we can't help feeling that the absence of any magnesium alloy in the Nikon D7500's construction is a cost-cutting exercise, although having said that the monocoque construction certainly feels durable enough. 

That aside, there are certainly a lot of tempting features on offer here. The new camera may not get the 153-point AF system from the D500, but the enhanced 51-point system in the D7500 still puts a lot of rival systems in the shade, while the 4K video capture, tilt-angle touchscreen display and 8fps burst shooting are some of the highlights of this very well-specified camera.  

The most exciting thing about the Nikon D7500, though, is the appearance of Nikon's 20.9MP sensor and EXPEED 5 image processing engine in a more compact and affordable body. This is something that's bound to attract the attention of both new users and existing ones who are looking to upgrade, but  who can't quite justify the leap to the D500.

Think of the Nikon D7500 as the D500's smaller brother then – and that can only be a good thing. 

Competition

Nikon D500

The D500 is Nikon's top-of-the-range DX-format DSLR, and a camera that the D7500 borrows a lot of features from, including the 20.9MP sensor. Pay the extra though and you get even better AF performance, thanks to a brilliant 153-point AF system that'll cope with pretty much anything. Marry that to a camera that can shoot 10fps for 200 shots and a rock-solid build, and you have one of the best DSLRs out there.

Read the full review: Nikon D500

Nikon D7200

Nikon's D7200 has been a firm favorite amongst enthusiast photographers, and it's easy to see why. Packing in a brilliant sensor that's complemented by an impressive specification, there's little not to like. The D7500 is the better camera overall, but the D7200 is that bit more affordable, and should still be a tempting proposition.

Read the full review: Nikon D7200

Canon EOS 80D

Perhaps the biggest non-Nikon rival to the D7500 is Canon's EOS 80D. It's a hugely capable enthusiast DSLR, although it's edged out by the D7500 when it comes to performance. That said, if you're going to be shooting a lot with the rear display, you may be tempted by the EOS 80D's rear vari-angle screen and brilliant Dual Pixel AF.

Read the full review: Canon EOS 80D

Posted: July 5, 2017, 10:52 am

The successor to 2015’s EOS M3, Canon’s EOS M6 arrives with a handful of features inherited from its relatively new big brother, the flagship EOS M5. The two share similar intentions and are aimed towards a similar kind of user, but with a slightly pared-down feature set, the EOS M6 arrives with a more appealing price tag. 

Canon may have got off to a slow start with its mirrorless line, but it's made up for this in recent years. It now has four models in its EOS M portfolio, covering the full spectrum from beginner to enthusiast. This model in particular appears to be well suited to anyone who cut their teeth on the original EOS M or EOS M10.  

That said, it’s launched into a very competitive market. Price-wise it not only goes up against a slew of well-regarded models from other manufacturers, but also older, more advanced cameras whose age has allowed them to fall to temptingly low prices. 

The former camp includes Fujifilm’s X-T20, Sony’s A6300 and Panasonic’s Lumix GX8, while in the latter there’s the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II and Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver among others. You can even buy a full-frame Sony A7 kit for just a little bit more.

Features

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

Like the EOS M5, the EOS M6 has been furnished with a 24.2MP sensor designed with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology. 

This allows the camera to perform full-time phase-detect AF to help keep focusing fast, as well as nice and smooth when recording video, and is one of the main changes from the older 24.2MP sensor inside the EOS M3, which offered Canon’s alternative Hybrid CMOS AF III system.

The sensor works with Canon’s DIGIC 7 processing engine, which is said to provide better subject detection and tracking over the previous DIGIC 6 engine. Another thing it allows is 9fps burst shooting, which drops to 7fps with continuous autofocus enabled, and the camera joins many other recent EOS models in allowing raw files to be processed in camera post-capture.

The EOS M6’s LCD screen is competitively specced, measuring three inches in size and bearing 1.04 million dots. It’s touch-sensitive and tilts downwards over a 45-degree angle, although you can also pull it right round to face the front. Unlike the flagship EOS M5, the EOS M6 doesn't incorporate an electronic viewfinder, although you can use one of two external models – either the tilting EVF-DC1 or the newer, fixed EVF-DC2 – by slipping them into the hot shoe. 

While a number of rivals are offering 4K video recording at this level, Canon has opted for Full HD video at frame rates up to 60p instead. This may disappoint some, although the presence of Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF system and a touchscreen that can be used to adjust focus during recording, together with the further option of using an external microphone, mean it’s still worth considering if video is your thing. 

The fact that you can flip the LCD all the way around to face the front also means this camera is likely to appeal to vloggers, while the inclusion of five-axis digital image stabilization when recording video should help keep things a little steadier if you tend to shoot footage while moving around. 

Image stabilization for stills is not provided through the body, but via compatible lenses equipped with their own stabilization systems. If, however, such a lens is used when recording video, the two systems combine to provide a Combination IS system.  

If there’s one area where the EOS M6 shines it’s connectivity options. Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth are all present, with the latter meaning you can keep the camera hooked up to your smartphone at all times. 

Canon claims you can get around 295 frames per charge from the EOS M, regardless of whether you’re using the LCD screen or a separate viewfinder. You can, however, boost this figure to around 425 frames by enabling the Eco mode in the menu system – when you do so the camera's screen will darken and turn off more quickly than normal when the camera isn't being used.

Everything is recorded to SD, SDHC or SDXC media, with support for the UHS-I standard.

Build and handling

  • Five separate physical dials
  • Integrated flash and hot shoe
  • Weighs 390g

In terms of the Canon EOS M6's design, there have been no great departures from the EOS M3 – and that’s no bad thing. With a sculpted grip and a range of buttons that can be extensively customized, there’s a great deal to love. 

There’s been some reshuffling of controls, although the only difference of any significance is the addition of a further dial on the top plate. This now means the top plate offers two command dials, together with mode and exposure compensation dials, which is in addition to a further control dial on the back of the camera. 

This brings to total number of dials to five, which is excellent for those who prefer to access things manually rather than via menus and touchscreens – though you’ll no doubt opt for touchscreen operation at many points when you see how extensively this can be used to operate the camera.

Thanks to the design of the grip the M6 generally feels good in the hands, although those with larger hands may find it a little cramped, and prefer a model with a grip more akin to that found on a DSLR. The eyelet for the camera strap also interferes with holding the camera comfortably, but if you tend to keep your camera hanging from your neck you won't mind this.

The Canon EOS M6 weighs just 520g with its memory card, battery and EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens in place, and, thanks to the collapsible construction of the lens, it’s more compact than the average compact system camera at this level. 

While the focal range of the kit lens in 35mm terms equates to 24-72mm – that wide–angle figure being very compared to some other kit lenses – the fact that the lens only offers a maximum aperture of f/6.3 at its telephoto end is somewhat disappointing.

Unlike some of its rivals, the M6 appears to use polycarbonate for its top and bottom plates, although the four dials on the top plate are made of metal, and the bulk of the body is finished with a smart rubber that feels as good as it looks. It’s a shame not to see more robust magnesium-alloy paneling, but attention to detail is still strong and no corners have been cut.

Autofocus

  • 49-point AF system
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Focus peaking with color and peaking level control

The camera’s sensor uses 49 areas to autofocus as standard, although you can also manually shift a point around all but the peripheries of the frame. You can also use the touchscreen to tap the subject on which you want the camera to focus, and employ the Smooth zone AF option to keep track of erratically moving subjects within a small portion of the frame.

Focusing speed is generally very good, though not quite as snappy as some rivals

Autofocus performance is generally sound. In good light the Canon EOS M6 is able to bring subjects to focus in good time; perhaps not quite as rapidly as some rivals, but certainly fast enough for static subjects. With its EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM and EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lenses, it does this practically silently too.  

Thanks to its Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, the M6 is generally very capable of keeping track of a moving subject when set to focus continuously, although as with any such system, the extent to which it manages this is heavily dependent on what you're trying to track. For example, a runner wearing clothing that contrasted well with their background proved to be no issue for the system, but it wasn't quite as reliable when focused on a dog among grass that was only occupying a small portion of the frame. 

When using manual focus you can call upon focus peaking, with red, yellow and blue colours on offer, together with high and low peaking levels to choose from. The peaking outline isn’t quite as thick as on some other models, although this is arguably a good thing as it obscures less of the subject’s details, thus helping with accuracy.  

Performance

  • 7fps burst shooting
  • 295-shot battery life
  • Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth

There’s only the briefest of delays after you flick the power switch, and if you already have an AF point selected the Canon EOS M6 generally finds focus very quickly. If you tend to leave the camera’s autofocus system on its more automated default option it may take a whisker longer to identify the scene, but it’s certainly still speedy enough for all but the most critical situations.  

With a fast memory card the camera manages 18 simultaneous raw+JPEG frames before slowing down, and 28 JPEGs when tested in the same way – perfectly respectable figures for such a model. It takes around six seconds to clear the former and less than two for the latter, and while the camera locks up as this happens – which means you can't enter the menus – this is potentially only an issue in practice if you're using a slower card, which would lengthen these times.

You're able to browse the menus and captured images without any lagging, and even when zooming into images there’s virtually no lag as you use gestures to zoom and swipe around, while if you make use of the freely rotating rear control dial you can zip through a series of images at great speed. 

Thanks to the combination of physical controls, the touchscreen and the camera’s general responsiveness, once you get used to the layout of controls and functions you can operate the EOS M6 very fluidly. The fact that you can customize so many of the camera’s controls, and place so much within a custom My Menu, only makes it better. 

The tilt-angle touchscreen allows you to shoot from a range of angles

The EOS M6's LCD screen responds very well to touch, and while some of the virtual controls are on the small side, you’re unlikely to want to control everything via the screen (the main menu, for example). Should you find the screen isn't bright enough outdoors you can easily boost its brightness through the menus, although one strange issue is that the top plate renders some of the screen’s touch controls inaccessible when the screen is flipped through a 180-degree angle.

Another oddity is the lack of a selectable electronic shutter, a feature that’s pretty much standard on such models. Its absence means you can't shoot as discreetly as you can on rival models, as there’s essential no way to silence the M6's mechanical shutter (which is a shame, given the quiet AF performance from the two aforementioned lenses). This also means you can't access shutter speeds faster than the 1/4000 sec limit imposed by the mechanical shutter, although this is arguably less of a concern here, when you consider the lack of wide-aperture lenses in the current EOS M portfolio.

Image quality

  • Four metering patterns
  • In-camera raw processing
  • 5-axis IS during video recording

The Canon EOS M6 offers evaluative, centre-weighted, partial and spot metering options, and left to the default first of those settings it manages to cope well across both balanced and tricky lighting conditions. It’s a good idea to keep the Peripheral Illumination correction option enabled, as this helps to lift the slight darkness that can form around the peripheries of the frame, and the Auto Lighting Optmizer also proves useful in high-contrast situations.

The EOS M6's evaluative metering does a very solid job

The default Picture Style is Standard, although a comparison with the Auto Picture Style shows the latter to do a much better job of reproducing most colors. Greens and blues in particular appear somewhat undersaturated on the Standard option, so Auto is perhaps a better choice if you’re shooting outdoors, particularly if the scene contains skies and foliage.

The EOS M6's Auto Picture Style does a better job of producing greens and blues than the Standard setting

The auto white balance system appears to be nice and accurate under both natural and artificial sources, and even when these are mixed, although it can remove some of the warmth of incandescent sources. Many recent cameras  feature an option that allows the user to keep white balance on Auto while preserving this warmth, but it's not present here. Still, there is enough control through the various options to allow for all the tweaking you need.

The camera's Auto White Balance does a sound job in both natural and artificial light

One of the strengths of the Canon EOS M6 is just how much you can do with images post capture. In-camera raw processing allows you to edit files and save them as new JPEGs, and while it would be good to see this functionality fleshed out and expanded, the fact that you can control everything through the touchscreen makes the process very quick and easy. On top of this, options to resize images, adjust their aspect ratio and crop finely means you can achieve a fair bit without needing to go anywhere near a computer.

While the M6’s video capabilities fall short of delivering the same kind of detail and clarity as some rivals, it records perfectly decent Full HD video. The ability to use the touchscreen to shift focus between different parts of the scene is particularly useful, with the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system moving smoothly and discreetly as you do this.

Verdict

In isolation, the Canon EOS M6 has plenty going for it. It’s small and light, responsive in use and blessed with a focusing system that’s very capable across both stills and video capture. 

Image quality is decent straight out of the box, and once you acquaint yourself with the camera’s behaviour you can improve on this. There’s also plenty of physical control on offer, and plenty of ways in which you can customize the controls to better serve your shooting, while the many post-capture options that are available help you output your images easily and quickly.

Still, it’s difficult to identify exactly what it the M6 offers that places it ahead of its very capable rivals. 

With no 4K video, no viewfinder, no electronic shutter and a build quality that falls short of what's offered elsewhere at this price point, the M6 has a hard time justifying its asking price – and when you add in the separate viewfinder, this comes to a figure not far off the cost of the viewfinder-equipped EOS M5, which makes you wonder why you’d want to opt for the separate combination when you can just get everything in one.

Competition

Fujifilm X-T20

With key functionality inherited from the co-flagship X-T2 and packed inside a handsome, robust body, the X-T20 has garnered a lot of attention since it landed last year. Over the EOS M6 it boasts 4K video recording, an integrated electronic viewfinder and an AF system that can be expanded from 91 AF points up to 325. Its native lens range is also broader, although its screen isn't as flexible as the EOS M6’s, and there's no NFC or Bluetooth.

Read the full review: Fujifilm X-T20

Panasonic Lumix GX8

Not the newest Lumix but perhaps the closest to the EOS M6 in terms of form, price and target audience, the GX8 has the advantages of a dust- and splash-proof body, an integrated viewfinder, 4K video recording and an electronic shutter over the EOS M6. While its 20.3MP sensor may seem less capable on the spec sheet, the fact that it manages to offer what it does at a significantly cheaper asking price than the M6 makes it hugely appealing, and the fact that it's compatible with a far broader range of native lenses sweetens the deal even further.

Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix GX8

Sony Alpha A6300

Key advantages offered by the 24.3MP A6300 include 4K video, a much more refined AF system with a staggering 425 phase-detect AF points, a built-in electronic viewfinder and a weather-sealed body. It doesn't completely walk all over the EOS M6, though; its display is smaller, less flexible and not touch-sensitive, while Bluetooth is absent.

Read the full review: Sony Alpha A6300

Posted: July 3, 2017, 3:28 pm

The DJI Inspire 1 made quite a splash when it first launched, offering a raft of cutting-edge features and the ability to swap out the camera lens depending on your shooting goals. It's still one of the best drones around, but the market is evolving – and that's where the Inspire 2 comes in.

While it looks very much the same as the previous Inspire model, this new drone is packing a wide range of enhancements under its hood. It's even better at avoiding obstacles, and ships alongside a new Zenmuse camera, the X5S. It also has a dual battery setup for increased stamina.

DJI's rivals have upped their game in recent years, but the Inspire 2 is a different proposition entirely, and comfortably leads the manufacturer's range of flagship, professional-spec drones; the more frugal amongst you will be disappointed to learn that it costs a lot more than the company's more consumer-focused Spark, Mavic and Phantom lines.

Price and availability

The base unit costs around £3,000 / $3,000 / AU$5,200, but once you factor in the latest Zenmuse X5S camera you can expect that price to rise to around £6,000 / $6,200 / AU$10,700 depending on the retailer and what other items they choose to bundle with it.


If you opt for the older X4S camera then you'll still get quite a bit of change from £4,000 (approximately AUD $6,750, USD $5,120), so it depends on how serious you are about getting the best possible package. The Inspire 2 is available direct from DJI in a wide range of territories, or from multiple specialist retailers both online and on the high street.

Design

If you're familiar with the DJI Inspire 1 then the Inspire 2 won't come as too much of a surprise, at least in terms of looks. It retains the same quad-prop layout as its forerunner, and once again utilizes super-tough carbon fiber material for the arms, giving the drone impressive strength. 

DJI has revised the bodywork, too; gone is the white plastic of the previous model, and in its place we have a rather fetching magnesium aluminum composite. Another major change is the introduction of a new forward-facing FPV camera and obstacle-avoidance system, mounted in a bar on the front of the drone, and there's also a dual-battery setup for increased stamina. 

The net result is that the Inspire 2 looks even more like something that Skynet has sent back in time to kill John Connor than its predecessor.


The drone itself doesn't have a camera attached, but you can pick one from DJI's range of Zenmuse cameras (the one shipped with our review unit is the X5S). It's possible to swap the camera out so that you have the right lens for the job at hand, making this the ideal device for professional photographers and video creators who need complete control over their shooting setup.

Build and handling

The original Inspire 1 was built like a tank, but the Inspire 2 is even tougher thanks to its revised aluminum shell. The carbon fiber arms mean bumps and bashes won't damage the unit, with the only weak spots being the plastic, quick-release propellers – which are easily replaceable should they get damaged – and the camera itself, which is also replaceable, although at a much greater cost.

The build quality is almost irrelevant, however, because of the sheer number of countermeasures DJI has included in the Inspire 2. The aforementioned FPV camera and obstacle-avoidance system track for incoming objects 30 meters ahead, while the upward-facing infrared sensors scan for objects five meters above the drone, which is handy when you're flying in enclosed spaces. Terrain detection sensors fitted to the bottom of the Inspire 2 round off the package.

The upshot of all this tech is a drone which is (almost) impossible to crash; it's intelligent enough to avoid bumping into trees or smashing into the ground, although it's worth noting that with the full suite of object avoidance features enabled you're limited to a top speed of 45mph – should you feel confident enough, you can disable these to achieve speeds of around 58mph.


If your enthusiasm gets the better of you and you allow the drone to fly out of sight, the 'return to home' function means you won't end up flushing your £6,000 investment down the toilet by accident.

All these features notwithstanding, it's worth noting that the Inspire 2 is one of the most agile drones we've had the pleasure to test. Not only is it lightning fast, it's quick to respond to user input and – when in the air – is as rock-steady as they come, even in moderate wind.

Performance

As was the case with the Inspire 1, the Inspire 2 is controlled with a dedicated remote that links to the drone via a powerful pair of antennae. There's no screen, so you have to connect your Android and iOS smartphone to the remote via a wired connection – you also need to install DJI's GO 4 app, and not the DJI GO app used with the Inspire 1 and other, older DJI models. 

Once you're in the app you can perform tasks such as calibrating the camera, toggling beginner mode on and off (which limits the distance the drone can travel from its starting point) and much more besides. It's also possible to access the drone's automated flight modes, one of which – Spotlight Pro – allows you to track moving objects with unnerving accuracy.

While other drones have boasted this ability, Spotlight Pro is a real step above anything else on the market. According to DJI, it utilizes "advanced visual tracking algorithms" to stick to moving objects like glue, offering up the kind of images and footage that would, in normal circumstances, require a second camera operator to capture (which, incidentally, is also an option with the Inspire 2 – it's possible to have one remote controlling the drone while a second 'slave' remote controls the camera).

Spotlight Pro is available in the TapFly, Waypoint, and Point of Interest 'intelligent flight' modes , and is an incredibly potent addition to the Inspire 2's already impressive arsenal of features.

Battery life is always a concern with drones, and when you consider all of the additional tech that has been thrown into the Inspire 2, you'd be forgiven for fretting about the impact on stamina. However, DJI has thought of this, and has included a dual-battery setup which boosts your flying time to around 25 minutes.

Naturally, this figure will vary depending on how hard you're pushing the drone – we got over 25 minutes during a gentle flight – but it's a solid benchmark to work to. Charging both batteries simultaneously is easy using the bundled charger – this has four slots in total, so you can purchase more batteries and keep them topped up at all times.

Video and photo capture

DJI's Zenmuse line of cameras has grown alongside its range of drones, and the latest offering – the X5S – has been designed with the Inspire 2 in mind. A Micro Four Thirds snapper, it has a bigger sensor than previous iterations, which means more detail and more vibrant colors. It really is like having a high-end professional stills camera in the air, enabling you to take some truly awe-inspiring static images.

When it comes to video, the Inspire 2 – when twinned with the X5S – creates a setup which most industry professionals would be envious of. 4K might be big news with other drones, but this bad boy can record in 5.2K, albeit at 30 frames per second. 4K is possible at 60 frames per second, and you can scale down to 720p if you wish – although when the footage is this good, heaven knows why you'd want to.

We liked

The Inspire 2 is a joy to fly, with great responsiveness, incredible speed (even with the object avoidance systems switched on) and good stamina, thanks to its twin battery configuration. The DJI GO 4 app is packed with features, including some excellent automated flying modes, and if you buy the Inspire 2 alongside the Zenmuse X5S camera you've got one of the best aerial image and video capture devices money can buy.

We disliked

We grumbled a bit at the price of the Inspire 1, but the Inspire 2 is a whole new world of expensive. You'll need to spend around £6,000 / $6,200 / AU$10,70  to get the setup we've reviewed here, and when you consider that many people might not even spend that much on a car, DJI's flagship offering is going to be totally out of reach for most casual users, making it a drone aimed almost exclusively at industry professionals who will see a return on that investment.

Verdict

The original Inspire 1 was an impressive piece of kit, but the Inspire 2 outperforms it in practically every respect. The design has been improved, with cheap-looking plastic being replaced by metal composite bodywork, while the vastly superior object avoidance tech means you can breathe a little easier as your expensive investment takes to the skies.

A twin-battery arrangement gives more than 25 minutes of flight time, while the ability to swap camera lenses to suit your shooting goals will make this very attractive to serious photographers and video creators – it also ensures the drone is future-proofed to a degree. Add in a fantastic and fully-featured smartphone app and dedicated remote control and you've got a truly epic piece of kit – but the price tag for the best package will put it out of the price range for casual drone users.

If you're not too concerned with the enhanced object avoidance tech and 5.2K video recording, it might be wiser to consider the aging (but still great) Inspire 1 or the DJI Phantom 4, both of which can be purchased for a fraction of the cost without sacrificing too much essential functionality.

Posted: July 1, 2017, 2:15 pm

The original Canon EOS 6D was the most affordable full-frame DSLR available when it was launched some five years ago. While it probably lacked some of the headline-grabbing specs of pricier models, it offered users a sound entry into full-frame photography. 

With a raft of rival models now overshadowing the EOS 6D, rumours of an update have been circulating for an inordinate amount of time. Now the wait is finally over – and we've managed to get our hands on a sample of the EOS 6D Mark II at the official press event to gather some first impressions.

Features

  • New full-frame CMOS sensor, 26.2MP
  • DIGIC 7 processing engine
  • Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth

Canon has improved things across the board for the new model, but the big news is that the camera arrives with a fresh 26.2MP full-frame sensor. This can be adjusted to ISO40,000 before you need to venture into expanded sensitivity settings, which themselves reach a setting equivalent to ISO102,400.

The 6D Mark II also boasts the latest DIGIC 7 processing engine, which is claimed to be an impressive 14 times faster than the previous DIGIC 6 version. This is also the first time we’ve seen it employed inside a full-frame EOS model – it's previously only been used inside APS-C bodies and PowerShot compacts.

Naturally this camera can also record video, but Canon’s decision not to include 4K capabilities is likely to divide opinion. The 6D Mark II tops out at Full HD quality, at frame rates up to 60p, although there is a 4K timelapse option alongside this, which stitches images together into a 4K-resolution video.

Canon’s justification for leaving out a standard 4K option is that this camera is aimed at a slightly different type of user to those who might take advantage of it. This may well be the case, although we can't help drawing comparisons with models that do manage to offer 4K proper.

The EOS 6D Mark II makes use of a glass pentaprism viewfinder that offers approx. 98% coverage, which represents a marginal 1% improvement on the 97% offered by the EOS 6D. While it’s certainly nice in use, and a step in the right direction, it falls short of the approx. 100% coverage offered by other full-frame models, such as Nikon’s D750 and Pentax’s K-1

Another improvement over the EOS 6D is the LCD screen, which is now a 3-inch vari-angle design that resolves images with 1.04 million dots and is fully responsive to touch. Other features include the full Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth trio of connectivity options, plus GPS, together with flicker detection, a 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, and five-axis digital image stabilization for video recording.

Build and handling

  • Aluminum alloy/polycarbonate body
  • Dust and drip resistant
  • First full-frame EOS with a vari-angle screen

Build quality is one area where the EOS 6D Mark II meets and exceeds a few expectations. The body is crafted from a mixture of aluminum alloy and polycarbonate with glass fibre, with both dust and drip resistance ensured through various seals.

The grip is excellently sculpted, and ensures the camera fits very comfortably in the hand, while the weight of 765g with battery and card in place is just 10g heavier than the original EOS 6D. It feels very well balanced in the hand, although admittedly we only got the opportunity to handle it with the relatively lightweight EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens.

Both the mode dial and LCD screen move nice and freely, and the fact that the LCD has a nice, thick profile and a deep groove to its side into which you can slip your thumb also means you can pull it away from the camera easily and at speed. The top plate LCD is also pleasingly large in size, and with masses of information, which is pleasing to see at a time when displays on other cameras are shrinking.

If you're a left-eyed shooter you may find that your nose is in the way of the rear control dial when your face is up to the camera; a longer eye-point may have helped here. Another minor inconvenience is that the menu pad on the rear isn't quite as prominent as it could be, which makes it a little more awkward to press comfortably than on some other cameras.

Autofocus

  • 45-point all-cross-type AF system
  • 27 points at f/8, with 9 cross-type
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF system

The original EOS 6D came in for a fair bit of stick for only having an 11-point AF system, with just a single cross-type point in its centre. For this latest model, however, Canon has employed a system that’s very similar to the one inside the recent EOS 80D.

This features 45 points in total, and all of these are cross-type (so able to resolve detail in both the horizontal and vertical planes), with the centre point being f/2.8 and f/5.6 dual cross-type. Furthermore, 27 of these remain operational when using a lens, or lens/teleconverter combination, with a maximum effective aperture of f/8, with nine remaining cross-type. 

You also have a fair bit of control over customizing the setup as a whole, and the fact that the system is sensitive down to -3EV is great for those who may be using it in poorer light. Canon’s impressive Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is also on board, and this makes light work of focusing when using either live view or video. 

In use, we couldn't find any cause for concern on the pre-production sample we handled. The command dial on the top plate makes it easy to quickly shift the AF point, and the system seems to get a lock on subjects well. It'll be interesting to see how well this does next to the systems inside some Nikon models, however, as those have become very advanced in recent generations.

Performance

  • 6.5fps burst shooting
  • Flicker detection
  • Burst depth up to 21 raw frames / 150 JPEGs

Next to the original EOS 6D, Canon has not only upped the maximum burst rate from 4.5fps to 6.5fps, but it’s also slightly increased the burst depth, from 17 raw frames to 21. The 150-frame burst depth for JPEGs is admittedly quite a drop from the 1,250 limit on the EOS 6D, although a 150-frame burst depth is hardly limiting.

It’s interesting to see that Canon hasn't included UHS-II support, which might have improved this, although any benefit would depend on how quickly the camera can deal with this information to begin with. Either way, this isn’t a camera aimed especially at sports photographers, and 6.5fps is a very credible burst rate for such a model, potentially suiting it to situations where the original EOS 6D may have fallen short.

Canon has also added to the same flicker detection option that we’ve seen on many previous EOS DSLRs, to help maintain consistency when shooting under artificial light sources. This is great news for those shooting indoors, perhaps events or sports, where such lighting is commonly used.

Early verdict

Canon has made some significant improvements to the bones of the EOS 6D, with a fresh sensor, a faster processor, a much more credible AF system and a stronger burst rate heading a long list of changes. 

This is somewhat reflected in its asking price, which does make you question whether it’s been elevated too far out of its 'affordable full-frame' bracket. Yet, when you consider just how much cheaper it is than the next full frame model in Canon's line-up, the EOS 5D Mark IV, the price seems somewhat justified. 

It feels great in the hand, and the ability to pull away the screen and control it by touch is a huge bonus. The lack of a 100% viewfinder is a pity, and the fact that the model also misses out on 4K video will disappoint some; however, there should be enough here to keep the target market happy.

Posted: June 29, 2017, 4:00 am

With the recent expansion of its EOS-M mirrorless system, and with its compacts getting steadily more powerful, it seems that Canon has already catered well for those who are after a camera that's small and unintimidating, but still powerful enough to take excellent shots.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see the brand refreshing the entry route to its well-respected EOS DSLR system with the EOS Rebel SL2 (known as the EOS 200D outside the US), and the fact that it replaces a four-year-old model – the EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D means there’s a fair bit the company has changed. We got some hands-on time with a sample of the new model prior to its official announcement.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS Sensor, 24.2MP
  • Full HD video recording
  • Guided interface

In place of the outgoing Rebel SL1 / 100D's 18MP APS-C sensor and DIGIC 5 processor, we now have a 24.2MP sensor and DIGIC 7 engine. Canon says the sensor has been used previously, although the engine is the latest-generation version that also appears in the new full-frame EOS 6D Mark II.

It comes as no surprise that Canon’s Guided UI, which popped up in the recent EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, has also been included here. This allows the user to switch the interface to one that makes better use of graphics to explain how to achieve certain things, although you can opt for the more standard system if you feel confident enough.

Canon cites the EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D as “the perfect replacement for the avid smartphone photographer looking to step up to their first camera”. And, to tempt them in it has included a new selfie mode, together with skin smoothing and background blurring controls. Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth are also on hand to further ease the transition. 

There's no 4K capture unfortunately, but videos can be recorded in Full HD up to an impressive 60p. 

Overall, there are no obvious holes in the spec sheet, and those just getting started should find everything they need here.

Build and handling

  • World’s smallest DSLR with a vari-angle screen
  • 390g with battery and memory card
  • Three different finishes

Aimed at the style conscious as well as the selfie conscious, the EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D is available in three finishes. There’s a white version and a silver/tan option, although most people will likely prefer the more sober black version. This has a pleasingly matte finish that’s particularly fetching against the silver-toned controls on the top plate. Overall, it looks far smarter than it ought to for such an entry-level model. 

Design-wise, the most significant changes include the grip, which is now pleasingly deep, as well as on the top plate, where pretty much everything has been restyled. Canon has opted to have the mode dial recessed into the top plate itself, and has also gone with a new power control that allows immediate access to movie recording. There are also dedicated buttons for connectivity and display, in addition to the previous ISO button.

This setup places a little more direct control in the user’s hands, and with the new grip, the overall result is generally positive. While it’s a small camera the grip means there’s a good deal of it to get hold of comfortably, and both mode and command dials are really pleasing to use. The ISO/Disp buttons are somewhat spongy, however, while the shutter release button has a certain hollowness to it. There’s no issue with the controls on the back, however, all of which travel well.

Autofocus

  • 9-point AF system
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF system
  • Touch focus

The new model sports a 9-point AF system, just like the EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D did. While some may have liked to see Canon ramp things up with something a little more advanced, the system itself is an impressive performer. It proved its worth in both good light and darker indoor conditions, and found focus against low-contrast subjects better than expected.

Overall focusing performance is boosted by two key additional factors over the EOS Rebel SL1. First, there's Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which allows the camera to use phase-detect AF when using live view and during movie recording. Canon even goes as far as claiming this is the world’s fastest system of its kind (among APS-C-based, interchangeable-lens cameras with phase-detect AF pixels incorporated into their sensors).

Furthermore, as the camera now offers a large touchscreen, you can set focus exactly where you want with your finger and leave the camera to capture the image. This feature wasn't present on the EOS Rebel SL1 / 100D, and combined with the vari-angle LCD it means you can capture certain images far more easily than you otherwise might be able to.

Performance

  • DIGIC 7 processor
  • Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • UHS-I compliant

The fact that the camera makes use of the same DIGIC 7 engine as pricier models is a good sign, and the pre-production sample we got our hands on was certainly responsive in use. In fact, a side-by-side comparison with the EOS 6D Mark II, which uses the same processor, showed the EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D to bring up the menu, Q menu and so on with a little less delay. 

There’s also little to complain about with the touchscreen. In use, it shows excellent sensitivity to touch, while its 1.04 million dots is great to see at this level, considering this is one area where manufacturers sometimes make concessions.

Many of the features we’ve seen on much pricier EOS models have also made the cut, such as the various lens aberration corrections and the timelapse movie mode. Impressively you even get in-camera raw processing, which is great for those who want to share their creations immediately. 

Overall, there seems to be plenty of space for the user to grow into as they become better acquainted with what their camera offers. 

Early verdict

Although the EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D is clearly designed for those taking their first steps in the world of DSLR photography, it’s encouraging to see that Canon hasn't skimped on providing a positive user experience. From the Guided UI and revised exterior design to the fast AF system and responsive touchscreen, this is a camera that feels great, and which, based on our brief hands-on time, appears to perform as we'd expect it to. 

Do we have any concerns? Canon’s main hurdle may be price and competition. Even if we just look at Nikon’s DSLR offerings at around the same price or less, you've got three capable options: the D3400, D5300 and D5600. And that’s before you consider mirrorless alternatives.

Still, Canon deserves praise for making this such an easy camera to warm to, and it's unlikely that anyone looking to get going with DSLR photography will be disappointed. It’s small, light, easy to use and responsive – if the image quality proves to be up to the same standard, Canon will have another smasher on its hands.

Posted: June 29, 2017, 4:00 am

Drones may be getting smaller and more affordable than ever, but few have yet to be a hit with the honest-to-goodness mainstream audience. The DJI Spark hopes to be the first to make its mark with a blend of compactness, automated features and an affordable price point.

No larger than can of soda and likely smaller than that super-sized smartphone you have in your pocket, the DJI Spark is an amazing example of how small drones can get. While it might be tiny, this drone comes fully packed with technology, including obstacle detection, GPS, stabilization and the ability to recognize hand gestures as flying commands.

Controlling a drone with just a wave of our hand is easily the coolest thing we’ve ever done and the closest we’ve ever come to being a Jedi. However, if you look past the headlining features, the DJI Spark runs into a few unavoidable issues that come with the limitations of being so small.

Pricing and availability

With a starting price of $499 (£519, AU$859) the DJI Spark is the company’s most affordable drone. At this price point it competes with other affordable drones like the $549 (£439, AU$649) Parrot Bebop 2 and $399 (£439, AU$629) Yuneec 4K Breeze.

That said, for 500 bucks you’re only getting the drone by itself without a remote controller. If you want the physical controller and the extended range that comes with it, that’ll be an additional $149 (£159, AU$259). Alternatively, the $699 (£699, AU$1,199) Fly More combo comes with the remote controller, a set of replacement propellers, an additional battery, battery charging hub and shoulder bag.

Design

It’s no joke that the DJI Spark is as small as a can of soda. Measuring in at a scant 143 x 143 x 55mm and 300 grams (10.6 ounces), the mini drone is something you can easily stuff into any bag or even hang off the back of your belt.

The DJI Spark also comes in a small foam box that’s really no bigger than a headphone case we would normally put into our bag. The included storage box also has compartments for four replacement propellers and two extra batteries.

Aside from its small size, the Spark is DJI’s first drone to be offered in a variety of colors: Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red and Sunrise Yellow. The splash of color is welcome piece of personalization in a world of drones that have thus far been a mix of gray, white and black.

In terms of looks, the Spark is a lot like a shrunken DJI Mavic Pro, and that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. It has a very similar angular body with a camera hanging right underneath the front sensor array.

One key difference of the Spark is its limbs don’t fold into the drone like the Mavic Pro and GoPro Karma Drone. The good news is you can fold the propellers to make it a smaller package and these rotor blades will also lock into flight position once they start spinning.

Unlike most other drones, the DJI Spark also has stubbly feet rather than extended landing gear. This is in part to keep the drone as small as possible while also making it comfortable enough to hold when landing the drone onto your palm. That said, the Spark’s tiny feet make it harder to land on uneven and rocky surfaces.

Build and handling

The DJI Spark might be small, but its main body feels dense and solid as a brick. The drone’s limbs feel just a sturdy thanks to some heavy ribbing. With nearly zero visible seams along the drone’s body, it’s clear that most of the Spark’s fuselage is molded from one solid piece of plastic.

Taking off with the DJI Spark takes mere seconds of setup with attaching the propeller guards, turning it on and linking it to your smartphone through the DJI Go 4 app.

Alternatively, you can skip the controller and command the DJI Spark with just hand gestures through the new feature called PalmControl.

Spoilers, this is easily the DJI Spark’s coolest hat trick.

You can have the drone take off from the palm of your after it scans your face. From there you can wave your hands at it to take control of flying it like a Jedi moving objects with the force. Waving your hand commands the drone to fly up and away from you, after which you can form a picture frame with your fingers to have it take a selfie.

Although PalmControl feels intuitive enough, it is also very finicky if you want to do anything beyond the basic navigation commands. You have to wave at the drone in just the right way, and selfies only trigger a third of the time when we make the picture frame gesture.

Another catch of PalmControl is that you need to be within 10-feet of the drone for it to recognize your gestures.

When everything lines up and PalmControl does work perfectly, it feels like magic. Flying a drone becomes spontaneous without a controller. It’s also much more inviting to less-seasoned aviators and tech-savvy people who want try their hand at flying drones.

In fact, we started the drone in PalmControl several times and after just a few moments of instruction we passed control to our friends and family members with ease.

Counter to its small size, the DJI Spark comes with powerful motors that make it nimble in the air. However, at the same time, the Spark visibly struggles to hover in the presence of a heavy breeze, as it shakes in the wind at an off axis. This is especially problematic, as the camera gimbal can’t articulate far enough to compensate for the tilting drone and give you a level horizon line.

At one point in our review, we had to catch the drone before it drifted into a railing on the pier and flipped into the water. The drone was saved from a dip in the drink, but in the process we sustained minor lacerations.

Despite our turbulent experience with the DJI Spark outside, this was the first drone we could reliably fly indoors. It’s maneuverable and predictable enough to be used with the PalmControl gesture commands, and we even had it autonomously follow us through a narrow hall using ActiveTrack.

Speaking of autonomous modes, DJI has also introduced new four automatic flight maneuvers called Quickshots, which are a lot like GoPro Karma Drone’s Auto Shot Paths. The four modes include, Dronie for taking an aerial selfie, Helix plots an upward spiraling path, Rocket sends the drone straight into the sky with the camera looking down, and lastly, Circle has the drone rotate around the user.

Aside from the new features, DJI intelligent flight modes return to the Spark including TapFly to automatically navigate to preset points. ActiveTrack, which we’ve mentioned before, programs the drone to do its best to keep you in the same position in the frame while avoiding obstacles as it flies.

That said, you shouldn’t become too overconfident about the DJI Spark’s intelligence.

Front facing smarts

While the DJI Spark comes collision detection technology as part of its FlightAutonomy system, many of these sensors are front facing only. The obstacle avoidance sensor array consists of just a main camera and forward-facing 3D Sensing System.

Meanwhile, the downward-facing vision system, dual-band GPS (Global Positioning System), GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and a high-precision inertial measurement unit all help the drone navigate and tell you where it's flying.

DJI Spark can sense when you’re about to send it flying into a pole, but it won’t detect when it’s about to back up into a tree. It’s a limitation you’ll need to keep in mind when you’ve plotted a flight path or enabled Quickshots. Still, we’ll take the few sensors this drone has over the completely blind GoPro Karma Drone any day.

It’s also impressive that all these sensors feed information into a single Intel Movidius Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit, which takes care of the collision detection, gesture recognition on top of image processing for the main camera.

Similar VPU chips have made their way into DJI’s drones for the last three years, but this is the first to feature a fully built gesture recognition system according to Remi El-Ouazzane, Vice President of Intel New Technology Group and General Manager of Movidius.

The limits of going small

One of our other big problems with the DJI Spark was its limited connectivity, which is due in part to its small size not allowing for a bigger Wi-Fi antenna and also not having the remote controller in hand. When connected to a smartphone, the drone’s effective range is 328 feet (100m); in our experience, the signal starts degrading around the 50- to 75-meter mark.

In more urban areas – such as the pier and city parks – even flying the drone 35m away would cause our video feed artifact and cut out. Worse yet, our control over the drone would intermittently cut out leading to jerky motions or overexaggerated maneuvers.

A lot of these problems are solved by the dedicated remote controller. However, it’s an additional $149 (£159, AU$259) purchase if you’ve just bought the drone. 

It’s a required accessory in our book, as it extends the range of the drone to 1.2 miles (2km) and makes it reliably responsive. All the connection hitches we encountered with using just the smartphone by itself disappear and using the physical joysticks gives us more precision for our aerial maneuvers. That said, you’ll lose a signal if you try to control the drone through a wall or send it too far away.

With the remote controller, you can also shift the drone into sport mode, which allows it to fly up to 31 miles per hour. Combined with DJI’s Goggles first-person view headset for $449 (£499, AU$769), the DJI Spark could make for an interesting racing drone for beginners.

Another shortcoming is DJI rates the Spark’s battery life at 16 minutes, which ends up being closer to 12 minutes of flight time, since you’ll want to reserve juice for landing safely. It’s the shortest battery life we’ve seen from DJI’s drones, but at the same time its impressive given the Spark’s power pack is so small. The GoPro Karma Drone runs for just as long with a battery that’s easily five times larger.

Another good bit of news is the Spark can also be charged up through its microUSB port, allowing you to top it off with a portable power bank or plugging it in while you get coffee. Even with this convenience though, you’ll likely need a spare battery (or two) if you mean to do anything more than a quick flyby and a few selfies.

Video capture

In terms of recording capabilities, the main camera is equipped with a 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that can capture Full HD video at 30p and 3,968 x 2,976 resolution images. In front of the digital sensor is a 25mm (35mm equivalent) f2.6 lens that captures an effective 81.8-degree field of view.

The maximum video resolution is a step down from the DJI Mavic Pro and GoPro Karma Drone, which can both record video at 4K resolution. We would say this is an unfortunate downside of the entry-level price, but the lower-priced Yuneec 4K Breeze can also shoot Ultra HD video – admittedly while sporting far fewer features.

So it’s actually electronic image stabilization – on top of a two-axis gimbal – that ends up eating up pixels around the edges and prevents the DJI Spark from shooting in 4K. The good news is all of this stabilization eliminates most vibrations caused by the drone flying around or wind blowing against it.

The backbone of the DJI Spark’s video shooting capabilities is the DJI GO 4 app, which catalogs every piece of content you capture with the drone. From there you can select clips to be combined automatically into highlight reels and share them. Just remember to transfer the original video files, which unfortunately doesn’t fix the low quality songs that are included with the app.

This last level of automation makes it that much easier record and produce video without much knowhow.

We liked

Controlling a drone with just your hand is easily one of the coolest things we’ve ever done with technology. Palmcontroling the Spark is intuitive enough for anyone to start flying, and it’s also just plain fun.

For $499 (£519, AU$859), you also won’t find another drone packed with as many features as this. From Palmcontrol to Quickshots, Spark simplifies the intimidating aspect of drones – flying them. Meanwhile, the DJI Go 4 app automates the video editing process in a way that most users can also appreciate.

We disliked

We wished the DJI Spark was more stable in the air and had a longer battery life, but these are the limitations of going so small. Given our intermittent connection issues with controlling the drone through a smartphone, you’ll definitely want to invest in a controller for the extended range along with a few extra batteries.

Final verdict

There’s no question the DJI Spark is the company’s most approachable drone yet with intuitive gesture controls, a compact frame and low-enough price to compete with other affordable quadcopters. From the PalmControl, Quickshots and deeper smartphone integration, DJI has broken multiple barriers of entry that make drones seem intimidating.

That said, the DJI Spark experience isn’t flawless, especially if you don’t use it with a controller. The gesture controls can be finicky and require a bit of patience. The short flight time also basically requires you to carry around spare batteries. 

DJI is a company that constantly iterates and updates its drone, so we’re sure the DJI Spark will get better with time. Until then, the DJI Spark is a great drone for its price and one you’ll definitely want to check out even if it isn’t completely perfect.

  • The best drones: DJI, Parrot and more for pros and beginners
Posted: June 21, 2017, 4:34 pm
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Canon Camera News

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