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GoPro overhauled its range of action cameras last year, adding more features to its 'entry level' point of view (POV) devices and further improving its top spec cameras to cement its reputation as king of the action cams.

Granted, there are now plenty of rival offerings that aim to tempt buyers away from the biggest name in sports and action shooting, but few can compete with the level of features and image quality offered by the Californian brand.

The Hero5 Session sits in the middle of GoPro's current camera lineup, borrowing many elements from its bigger Hero5 Black brother (which has just been superseded by the Hero6 Black), yet featuring the scaled-down simplicity and exterior packaging of the more affordable Hero Session.

It may sound confusing, and there's a big price disparity between the four cameras, but the key thing to note is that the Hero5 Session shoots in 4K at 30fps, like the Hero5 Black, while stills are captured at 10MP (as opposed to 12MP by the Hero5 Black) and it features GoPro's ProTune feature for easier post-production editing.

In short, it's easiest to think of the Hero5 Session as a Hero5 Black lite, albeit one without the handy rear touchscreen or the professional-grade performance. 

Features

  • 4K video capture at 30fps
  • 10MP still images
  • No rear touch display

GoPro knows its audience, which is why it can get away with offering a number of cameras over a range of prices with very similar features.

But for those wanting professional touches, such as ultra-sharp image quality via an all-glass lens, excellent low light performance and 4K filming at 60fps, then the Hero6 Black is definitely the camera to plump for.

That said, the Hero5 Session still manages to cram a hefty amount into its diminutive shell, including the aforementioned 4K at 30fps video resolution, ProTune options and other pro-grade features, not to mention voice control and excellent smartphone connectivity.

It is a lot more expensive than the near identical-looking Hero Session, but that camera doesn't support 4K video, nor does it sport voice control or the Superview, Linear and Narrow fields of view.

Features-wise, though, it's more useful to compare the Hero5 Session to its bigger brother, because side-by-side there's very little to separate the two bar a slightly reduced frame rate at certain video resolutions, the lack of RAW and WDR still image files, and the much more user-friendly rear touchscreen display.

The small differences in quality will be difficult to spot for anyone using the camera on a casual basis, but the fact that the Hero5 Session doesn't have a rear screen or an interchangeable battery will be reason enough for those using their camera on a regular basis to jump to the more expensive Hero5 Black or Hero6 Black.

Design and accessories

  • Features just two buttons
  • Simple design
  • USB-C connection

The Hero5 Session really is a masterclass in simplicity, as this small cube (it's only marginally bigger than pool cue chalk) features just two buttons and one side flap that houses the USB-C port and MicroSD card slot.

The shutter button on the top also acts as a power-on switch, and will start recording video automatically (if the relevant settings are activated) when depressed.

A much smaller, and infinitely more finicky button on the rear scrolls through the various menus and settings on the camera.

It takes a little while to get used to one-button control, and there will likely be multiple shaky video clips of feet and sky captured as users accidentally record when they merely meant to power-up the device.

However, things are much simpler when the Hero5 Session is linked to GoPro's app, which acts as both the rear screen (for setting up shots) and as a hub for browsing menus and adjusting settings.

The Hero5 Session comes with a small exterior housing – it can't be mounted to anything without this

Just behind the big red shutter button is a small white-on-black display that displays the mode (video, photo, burst, etc), the number of files recorded, the battery level and whether voice control and Wi-Fi are activated.

If you don't have your phone to hand this is also the only screen via which you can adjust and navigate menus, which isn't exactly good news for anyone with imperfect vision, as it's so small, although it remains bright enough to use in the dark.

The Hero5 Session also comes with a small exterior housing – it can't be mounted to anything without this. But, unlike previous chunky plastic coverings, this is simply a thin plastic jacket that sports GoPro's recognizable mounting system at the bottom.

There's also a USB-C cable and a small selection of adhesive mounts to get you started, and in all honesty that's all that's really required with this miniature Hero.

The camera itself is so small and light that it's incredibly easy to stick it to the side of a bicycle helmet, for example, without the need for additional accessories. 

Regardless, the camera's exoskeleton (GoPro calls it a frame) is compatible with the vast array of GoPro accessories, which cover everything from floating selfie sticks to headband mounts and much more.

Build quality and handling

  • Waterproof down to 10m (33ft)
  • Voice activation
  • Can be tethered to smartphone app

The fact that the GoPro Hero5 Session is essentially a small rubbery cube doesn't do much for its aesthetic appeal, but it does mean there's very little to go wrong.

One of the complaints we had about the Hero5 Black chiefly surrounded its interchangeable lens cover, which became damaged on our test model and started letting condensation in.

There are no worries with its smaller sibling, as the lens is neatly housed behind some reinforced glass that's secured by eight robust little screws.

In fact, the Hero5 Session feels like it can handle more punishment than its more expensive counterpart, and this is reflected in the fact that GoPro doesn't offer any additional housing.

Straight out of the box it's waterproof to 33ft (10m), which makes it perfectly suitable for most water sports, while the small and lightweight build means it can be easily mounted in unusual places to capture cool angles.

As previously mentioned, the lack of easily accessible settings can be a bit of a chore when you're out and about, while the simple task of flicking between video and stills capture is more time-consuming than it needs to be.

GoPro does throw in voice activation in this model, with the device responding to a list of commands such as "GoPro, take a picture" or "GoPro, turn off"; this makes switching between modes slightly easier, although if there are people around to hear you there's the risk that you'll appear to be muttering to yourself.

We found tethering the unit to GoPro's smartphone app to generally be the best way to tee up video and still imagery, and to adjust settings when out and about, but obviously this won't be practical in all circumstances – not many people take their iPhone surfing.

Unfortunately, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tethering going full steam we did find that the already-poor battery time was reduced considerably, and with no option to swap-out the battery filming sessions can be brought to an abrupt halt. 

Performance

  • USB charging
  • GoPro app is comprehensive
  • Easy to produce engaging videos

We spent a long time with the GoPro Hero5 Session, taking it on hikes along Portuguese cliff tops to capture the local surf, attaching it to a motorcycle and putting it to good use at a local skate park, and the results were always impressive.

Granted, it can be annoying and fiddly to access menus using just the tiny screen atop the unit, but many users will find video and stills settings that work for them and just stick to those.

Tethering to a smartphone is an easy solution to interface issues, but it does have an adverse effect on battery life. Regularly having to find a power outlet to charge the device was probably one of the most vexing aspects of our time with the Hero5 Session.

Many users will find video and stills settings that work for them and just stick to those

The GoPro app is comprehensive, and allows for imagery and video to be browsed and downloaded to a smartphone for later editing in Quik Stories, arguably one of the simplest ways to produce engaging short films to date.

This separate free app requires the user to feed in the desired clips and the software will then do all the hard work, offering a variety of edit styles, background tunes and font types to create neat short films that can be directly uploaded to social platforms.

Image quality

  • Generally slick-looking video
  • New Linear mode provides less barrel distortion
  • No raw file support for stills

GoPro has a reputation for delivering some of the best video and stills image quality in the action camera market, and the Hero5 Session doesn't let the side down.

With ProTune, users can adjust color settings (GoPro Color or Flat for easier post-production), adjust white balance, shutter speeds, ISO limits and EV compensation settings to get the results they want.

Unfortunately, all of this has to be done via the app, which can be time-consuming, especially if the Wi-Fi connection between camera and phone is proving temperamental, although a recent software update should have corrected this.

There's also a burst mode that fires off an impressive 30fps at 10MP, which should prove invaluable for those wanting to grab the perfect shot of some high-octane action.

Still images are fine for snaps, but there's no raw support

The same ProTune options are available for still images, while field of view choices include wide, with the classic GoPro barrel distortion, or Linear, which aims to reduce the fisheye effect.

The resulting shots look good, but the lack of a raw format option will be slightly annoying for those who like to enhance their shots in editing software such as Lightroom or Photoshop. 

Also, the more expensive Hero5 Black features a WDR (wide dynamic range) photo mode, which uses a similar technique to smartphone HDR technology to create perfectly exposed snaps, and it's sorely missed in this device.

That said, footage recorded in 4K at 30fps is as smooth and indulgent as you'd expect, while there are multitude options of frame rates and resolutions to suit most situations. 

Colors appear bright and vibrant, with good contrast between light and dark areas, while numerous field of vision modes makes it really easy to capture the action.

SuperView can feel a little extreme, but manages to cram in a remarkable amount of action for such a small lens, while the Linear and Narrow modes are good for those wanting to move away from the typical – and slightly tired – action camera POV.  

Finally, the additional noise reduction is noticeable, particularly during our high-speed motorcycle test, where the sonorous exhaust note was clearly picked out over the wind noise that usually blights action cams.

Verdict

The video and image quality captured by the smallest camera in the GoPro range certainly belie its pocket-sized packaging. Clips appear vibrant and smooth, while stills imagery is crisp enough to feature on websites and social media with little or no enhancement.

A lack of a raw file option does reduce the scope for tweaking still images, but at the highest 10MP resolution shots are detailed enough to take into post-production software and print at a decent size.

The footage from the Hero5 Session is at the very top of the action camera quality spectrum, with excellent color definition, top-quality audio and a bunch of professional features that see this model creeping up on its larger and more expensive Hero5 Black model.

Granted, for those wanting full control over their video and the best image quality possible, the Hero5 Black or new Hero6 Black are the GoPros to go for, but the Hero5 Session is lighter and more portable than those cameras, and almost as good at capturing the moment.

As an action camera to pack for your travels it's very difficult to ignore, and as a back-up to support the Hero5 Black or Hero6 Black on larger shoots, and for capturing tricky shots where only a small and easily mounted camera can get the job done, it's perfect.

The lack of rear screen can be frustrating, the battery life is pretty poor and GoPro's voice command system is a little erratic, but the lack of such features is reflected in the price – and what you do get for your money is pretty impressive.

Competition

Posted: October 16, 2017, 3:36 pm

The Nikon D850 is finally here. After months of speculation, and Nikon itself teasing us back in July that the camera actually existed and was in development, the D850 has been officially announced – and boy, does it look like it's been worth the wait.

Superseding the brilliant 36.3MP D810 that's loved by both pros and enthusiasts alike, the D850 certainly has big shoes to fill. That said, while the D810 ticked a lot of boxes for photographers, its modest burst shooting speed of 5fps meant it wasn't the perfect all-round DSLR.

Nikon doesn't appear to be holding back with the D850, though, boosting numerous areas of the camera's performance to make it appear (on paper at least), the most well-rounded DSLRs we've seen. Is the D850, then, the ultimate DSLR?

Features

  • Full-frame CMOS sensor, 45.4MP
  • 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

While the D810 retained the same 36.3MP resolution as the groundbreaking Nikon D800/D800e, it's been eclipsed by both the 50.6MP Canon EOS 5DS and 42.2MP Sony Alpha A7R II. The D850, though, gets an all-new 45.4MP full-frame back-illuminated sensor (BSI), which is a hefty increase in pixels over the D810, and only marginally behind the 5DS.

Thanks to the light-collecting elements being closer to the surface of the sensor, the BSI design should deliver better low-light performance than previous sensors. Just as we've seen with the D810 (and D800e), the D850 forgoes an anti-aliasing filter, which means even more detail can be eked out of the sensor, although there is the added risk of moiré patterning. 

On the occasions where you don't want (or need) to shoot at the D850's full resolution, there are two reduced size options, 25.6MP and 11.4MP, recording either raw or JPEG files. We can certainly see this feature appealing to news and sports shooters who'll want to transmit images as quickly a possible to picture desks, and might have otherwise passed up the D850 in favor of the 20.8MP Nikon D5

Another trick up the D850's sleeve is the camera's DX Crop mode, in which the perimeter of the viewfinder is masked to provide a view equivalent to that of an APS-C-format DSLR. The resolution drops, as you're only using a portion of the sensor, but thanks to the D850's huge resolution you'll still be able to capture 19.4MP files – that's impressive stuff, and not far off the 20.9MP resolution of both the D500 or D7500. There's also a new 1:1 aspect ratio at 30.2MP.

Compared to the D500 (and, for that matter, the D5), the Nikon D850 has quite a modest ISO ceiling of 25,600, with a native base sensitivity of ISO64. This is no surprise really when you consider how densely populated the sensor is, but there is an extended sensitivity range up to an ISO equivalent of 108,400 (Hi2), while landscape photographers will be happy to learn that the D850 also has a Lo1 setting equivalent to ISO32.

The D850 sports a new 0.75x optical viewfinder – that's the largest magnification factor ever on an FX Nikon DSLR, and also a touch bigger than the 0.71x viewfinder on the 5DS. Unlike the D810, the D850 also features a tilt-angle, 3.2-inch 2,359,000-dot touchscreen. It's similar in spec to the one on the D500, but offers greater touch control, enabling you to navigate the menus as well as touch to focus, trigger the shutter and review images. 

The D850 can shoot 4K UHD video in FX format with no sensor cropping at up to 30p, allowing you to take full advantage of the field of view of your lenses. Lower-resolution video modes are also available, including Full HD footage in 60p, while 4K UHD timelapse movies can be created in-camera.

If 4K timelapse footage isn't quite enough for you, the D850 can also create a full resolution time-lapse videos in third-party software thanks to the camera's built-in intervalometer – you can now create a new folder and reset the file numbering for each timelapse sequence, and avoid the rigmarole of stripping out the desired files yourself.

The D850 drops the CompactFlash card slot that was on the D810 in favor of an XQD slot

There's also an electronic Vibration Reduction system to reduce the impact of camera shake when shooting movies handheld, and there are ports for an external microphone and audio monitoring.

The D850 drops the CompactFlash card slot that was on the D810 in favor of an XQD slot and the performance advantages that brings (although at the moment Nikon is the only manufacturer to take up this storage format on its cameras), while the SD card slot supports cards up to UHS-II. 

The D850 gets Nikon's SnapBridge connectivity for wireless transfer of images, which establishes a low-energy Bluetooth connection between the camera and your smart device. Images can then be transferred from camera to device via as you shoot at either 2MP or full resolution (though we'd avoid this with 45.4MP files), or individually if you select images on the camera. For speedier Wi-Fi transfers you can use the app to browse and select the images you desire.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy body
  • Comprehensive weather-sealing
  • Weighs 1005g

The Nikon D850 may share similar proportions to the D810, but quite a bit has changed. 

Pick up the camera, and if you're coming from a D810 or D800, the first thing that strikes you is the re-worked grip. It's now that bit deeper, and much more comfortable to hold than its predecessor, especially for longer periods. 

As on the D500, Nikon has omitted the pop-up flash in an effort to make the camera even sturdier. Some may be sorry to see this feature disappear – we've found it useful in the past for triggering remote Speedlights – but it's always felt like a bit of a weak link on a pro-spec DSLR.

And with no pop-up flash, a tough magnesium alloy body, and weather seals to protect it from the elements, the D850 feels every bit the pro DSLR you'd expect it to be. It's incredibly well made, and there's no question this camera's up for the rigors of professional use.

Compared to the D810, the controls have also been tweaked on the D850 – in fact, if you've been shooting with the D500 or D5, it should be pretty much home from home for you, and if you're planning on using different bodies side by side it should making switching between them pretty seamless.

If you're coming from a D810 though, you'll notice that the top plate arrangement has changed for a start, and it's much better for it. The ISO button now sits just behind the shutter button, which makes it easier to adjust single-handed; it's an improvement on the slightly awkward positioning on the D810, where it sat in the cluster of four buttons above the drive mode selector.

The D850 offers a refined shooting experience

Round the back, and along with the tilt-angle display the other notable addition is a small AF joystick, like the one we've seen on both the D500 and D5. This enables you to quickly select your desired focus point, although you can still use the eight-way controller on the back of the camera if you prefer. Its positioning means it falls under the thumb easily; if we're being super-picky it would be nice to be able to assign this as the back-button focus control as well, but the AF-On button is positioned just above the joystick.

As on the D500, you can set the majority of the controls on the Nikon D850 to light up (along with the top-plate LCD) by rotating the on/off switch beyond the 'on' position – it's a really useful feature that makes it much easier to quickly change settings in poor light.

All in all, the D850 offers very refined shooting experience. You'll be able to happily shoot and tweak core shooting settings without taking your eye away from the viewfinder.

Autofocus

  • 153-point AF, 99 cross-type AF points
  • User-selected array limited to 55 points
  • Impressive coverage across the frame

The 51-point autofocus system in the D810 is still one of the best performers out there, but Nikon has equipped the D850 with the same Multi-CAM 20K AF module as its flagship D5. 

In our book this is one of the best, if not the best, autofocus systems we've seen on any camera to date. It features an impressive 153 AF points, of which 55 are user-selectable, while 99 are the more sensitive cross-type points for even greater precision. That's not all – AF sensitivity goes all the way down to -4EV for the central AF point (with the remainder focusing down to -3EV), which should enable the D850 to focus pretty much in almost complete darkness. 

As we've experienced with the D5, the system is excellent, with sports and action photographers unlikely to be disappointed by the D850's autofocus performance. 

If you're coming from the 51-point AF system in the D810 you'll notice the difference, particularly in poor light – even in these tricky conditions the D850's ultra-sensitive AF snapped into focus incredibly quickly. 

We tested the D850 in a range of conditions, with its toughest challenge coming when we shot the Tour of Britain's Time Trial stage. With cyclists going flat-out, the D850 didn't let us down; focusing speed was incredibly quick, even letting us grab shots when cyclists appeared in the frame without warning, while it would happily track fast-moving subjects as they moved towards and across the frame. 

As with the D5 (and the D500), Nikon has included its clever automated procedure for fine-tuning lenses on the D850. It's an incredibly useful tool for tweaking the performance of prime lenses for critical focusing, and the system on the D850 has been improved to make it even easier to set up and calibrate your lenses.

Something the D850 can't quite match Canon's latest DSLRs for is Live View performance. While the Dual Pixel CMOS technology used in the likes of the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV can rival that of mirrorless cameras, Live View focusing with the D850 is still a little clunky; it's better than previous models, but still not as swift as it could be. 

Performance

  • 7fps burst shooting (9fps with battery grip)
  • 51 shot raw file buffer
  • 1,840-shot battery life

Despite the decent increase in pixels over the D810, the Nikon D850 features an increased burst shooting speed, up from 5fps to 7fps, making it an even more versatile piece of kit.

Furthermore, attach the optional MB-D18 battery grip to the D850 with a large EN-EL18B battery (as used in the D5) inserted, and that rate will increase to 9fps. This certainly compares favorably with the 5fps shooting speed of both the Canon EOS 5DS and Sony Alpha A7R II, and considering the size of the files the D850 has to process, the 51-shot buffer (at 14-Bit raws) is also very impressive.

The D850's standard battery is the EN-EL15 – it's the same power pack used by the D810, but Nikon has managed to squeeze even more life out of the battery here to deliver a staggering 1,840-shot life. To put that in perspective, you'd need seven NP-FW50 batteries with the Alpha A7R II to reach anything like the D850's battery capacity, or two LP-E6N batteries with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Something that's bound to appeal to wedding and social photographers is the D850's ability to utilize an electronic shutter to shoot silently at 6fps in Live View mode. Need more speed? Select the DX crop mode and you can shoot 8.6MP pictures at an impressive 30fps.

The D850's Matrix metering system performs well in a range of lighting conditions

The D850 employs a 180K-pixel RGB sensor (the same as the D5's), offering metering down to -3EV. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you're shooting long exposures with ND filters you can now rely fully on the D850’s AE and AF without needing to detach the filter. In our tests, the D850's multi-zone Matrix metering system performed very well under a range of lighting conditions, while the breadth of the camera's dynamic range (more on that in a bit) means you've got a fair bit of leeway should the camera get it wrong.

The D850 features three types of auto white balance to cover you for most scenarios. Auto 0 should faithfully render whites under any light sources, Auto 1 maintains a balance of the original subject color and ambient lighting, while Auto 2 renders colors with a natural sense of warmth, retaining the color of incandescent lighting.

The optical viewfinder is stunning; it's incredibly large and bright, while the clarity of the rear touchscreen display doesn't disappoint.

Image quality

  • ISO64-25,600 (expandable to ISO32-108,400)
  • Additional 25.6MP Medium and 11.4MP Small raw file sizes
  • Built-in focus stacking

As you'd expect from a sensor packing 45.4 million pixels, the level of detail the Nikon D850 is capable of resolving is impressive. You'll be able to produce large prints rich in detail, although it goes without saying that to make the most of the sensor you'll need the best glass.

When it comes to high-ISO noise performance, again the D850 doesn't disappoint. Images up to ISO3200 display excellent levels of detail, with minimal noise, while at ISO3200 there's barely any luminance (grain-like) noise in images, and no hint of chroma (color) noise.

Push above that to ISO6400, and while luminance noise is slightly more pronounced, it's still very good – we'd be more than happy to shoot at this sensitivity. Even at ISO12,800 and ISO25,600, while noise is more noticeable it's still well controlled, and results are more than acceptable. Above that we'd try to avoid the two extended settings, which see saturation dropping off a tad; however, with some tweaking in Lightroom or similar it might be possible to get a satisfactory result at ISO51,200.

The D810 has always impressed with its dynamic range performance, and the good news is that despite the extra pixels populating the D850's sensor it appears to be a similar story here. It's possible to severely underexpose a shot and be able to happily recover shadow detail without unwanted noise encroaching on the shot. 

Manually shooting focus-stacked images can be a chore, but the D850 introduces a focus shift photography function, which enables it to shoot a sequence of up to 300 frames, while gradually and automatically shifting focus position from the start point to infinity. The shutter release interval can be set from 0-30 seconds, while the focus step width can be selected from 10 levels. 

You'll need an image-editing program like Photoshop to then combine the pictures in post-production, but this looks like a great way to quickly shoot highly detailed macro images

Verdict

It's felt like a long time coming, but the Nikon D850 has definitely been worth the wait. To say the specification is comprehensive is an understatement; the D850 is packed with desirable photographic features, while it backs these up with impressive performance and stunning image quality. 

Live View focusing speeds could still be better, while the rather rudimentary SnapBridge connectivity offered is disappointing; but those issues aside, whether you're shooting weddings, landscapes, portraits, action or wildlife, the D850 won't leave you wanting.

A much more versatile proposition than the D810 (and its closest rivals), the D850 is a brilliant DSLR, and perhaps the most well-rounded camera we've ever tested.

Competition

Posted: October 16, 2017, 2:50 pm

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

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

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

Features

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build and handling

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

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

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

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

The PowerShot G1 X Mark III is in actual fact only a bit bigger than the G5 X, but despite its diminutive proportions it still provides a secure purchase thanks to the sculptured front grip and pronounced thumb rest. 

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

Autofocus

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

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

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

Performance

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

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III can shoot at a pretty rapid 7fps, while if you need even more speed you have the option of shooting at 9fps, provided you're prepared to have focus locked at the first shot. 

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

In the brief time we had with the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, our first impressions were very good. The viewfinder is nice and crisp, while the touchscreen interface has to be one of the best around – it's easy to use, and really responsive.

Battery life is pretty limited, however, at just 200 shots – you'll definitely want to consider additional batteries if you're going to be out for the day or weekend. 

Image quality

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

We had a chance to shoot with the pre-production model, and while we'll have to wait until we get hold of our full review sample to report in greater deal, we were impressed here too.

With the G1 X Mark III using a sensor that's almost identical to the EOS 80D's, there are no nasty surprises when it comes to image quality. Detail rendition appears very good, while noise is also handled well.

Straight out of camera JPEG file at ISO5000

Early verdict

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

The sticking point might be the $1,299/£1,149 asking price, especially when you compare this camera to DSLR or mirrorless rivals. However, if you're set on a premium all-in-one compact camera,the G1 X Mark III doesn't look that bad when you compare it to similarly priced rivals. The fabulous Fujifilm X100F costs more, but doesn't offer a zoom lens, while the slightly more affordable Sony RX100 V offers a longer zoom and snappier performance, but with a smaller 1-inch sensor. 

All things considered, Canon may have hit the sweet spot for enthusiast photographers with the PowerShot G1 X Mark III – we'll update this hands-on review with our full and final verdict once we've reviewed it in depth.

Posted: October 16, 2017, 2:18 pm

Most people will buy a camera bag to stash a whole heap of gear in, and will want that gear to be well protected, which means bags can often be large, cumbersome affairs that aren't much fun to lug around for long periods.

Not so ONA Bags' The Bowery. This is a compact messenger bag that's aimed at those who want to travel light and carry only essential kit – perfect for wondering round the city or a short break. 

The design of The Bowery doesn't shout 'camera bag', but the stylish retro design certainly looks the part. It's beautifully crafted from a premium water-resistant waxed canvas (more costly nylon and leather versions are also available), and finished off with a leather trim and a tuck-clasp closure on the front. 

And this definitely isn't a case of style over substance – the Bowery is no fashion item masquerading as a camera bag. It's padded with a closed-cell foam to protect your kit from any external knocks. Slightly disappointingly though, it only comes with a single padded insert – this might be fine for some, but should you want to to carry more than a couple of lenses it could be an issue. 

Capacity

With internal dimensions of 254 x 152 x 101mm, The Bowery is nicely compact. It's ideal for mirrorless camera users; you'll be happily able to fit one body in it with a lens attached, while there's plenty of space for an additional (short focal length) lens. There are also two small front pockets in which you can store additional batteries, memory cards and leads. 

While The Bowery may be more suited to mirrorless camera kit or a premium compact, DSLR users shouldn't disregard it – we managed to squeeze in a full-frame DSLR with standard prime lens attached with some room to spare. 

While the strap isn't padded, it's nice and comfy and can easily be adjusted. It can be easily detached as well, should you want to use The Bowery as a dedicated protective camera insert that you can slip into a larger bag. 

There's certainly no shortage of messenger bags to choose from these days, in a range of shapes and sizes, but if you want something a little bit special then The Bowery, even allowing for its premium price, won't disappoint.  

Posted: October 12, 2017, 11:15 am

Looking at the tiny GoPro Hero 6 Black, it's nearly impossible to tell it apart from last year's GoPro Hero 5 Black. Luckily, there are plenty of noteworthy differences on the inside.

The Hero 6 has GoPro's first custom chipset, aptly named the GP1 processor, enabling 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and super-slow-motion video in Full HD at 240fps.

There's also superior dynamic range, better low-light performance and improved image stabilization, while offloading your footage is now three times faster over a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection. It makes a difference.

Check out our unboxing of the GoPro Hero 6 Black below.

We tested the GoPro Hero 6 Black out for a full day at GoPro's 'Extreme' launch event, and we'll upload more footage as we process it. Here's what we think so far.

Design

The GoPro Hero 6 doesn't look any different from the Hero 5, and that's a good thing. This action camera is a discreet as ever with a very small front logo, on this otherwise black-on-dark-gray device. You can't even see the logo when the camera is wearing its frame.

It's compact too, extremely durable, and finally waterproof (down to 33ft or 10m) without the need for a housing.

It has a 2-inch touchscreen on the back that allows for replay video and photos, and it uses what seems like the world's tiniest touch-based user interface. It comes with a sturdy plastic frame that allows for all sorts fun camera mounts.

The entire design is incredibly tight, snuggly fitting the microSD card right up against the user-swappable battery (confirmed to be the same battery as the Hero 5, which is nice for cross-compatibility). GoPro has packed a lot of camera into this old design, and we're even more impressed with it here.

Video and photo quality

This is where the GoPro Hero 6 sets new benchmarks. We were able to shoot 4K video at 60fps, and dial the slow motion back to 120fps at a 2.7K resolution and 240fps at 1080p.

The GoPro Hero 6 Black is built for catching action incredibly fast.

Everyone else who wants to record video at a normal frame rate will benefit too. Hero 6 has beefed up image stabilization, which slightly crops footage to reduce shakiness. It's noticeable, but don't throw away your GoPro Karma Grip as software-based stabilization can only correct so much.

Low light has always been a GoPro shortcoming, but the Hero 6 also delivers improved dynamic range, giving it better image quality both indoors and out (and everything in between). All of this comes thanks to the GoPro Hero 6's processor.

Interface and apps

The Hero 6 Black takes uncompromised video, but offloading that raw GoPro footage has increasingly been a pain due to large file sizes and older phones. The company is tackling this with a three-pronged approach

This new camera, and updated mobile operating systems like iOS 11, support a new video codec: High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). It can halve file sizes, and that's going to save both your iPhone's internal storage and camera-to-phone transfer time.

Second, transfer times were faster in our early testing, and that's thanks to the fact that the Hero 6 utilizes the 5GHz wireless frequency, which can be three times faster than what we experienced on the Hero 5.

Third, QuikStories returns as a way to transfer and compile your footage into a automatic video collage. It adds video, photos, transitions and even music. The best part is it's fully editable if you want to make changes. 

Taking GoPro video isn't the hard part. Transferring hours of 4K 60fps video and 240 fps super slow motion movies can feel like a chore. 

The Hero 6 Black does a good job at chipping away at the tasks involved. But we still find offloading and editing action camera footage still takes practice and discipline. There's a reason it has such a dedicated fan base.

There's still more to be done though. Although it's easy enough to switch the frame rate to 240fps stationary, it's not nearly as simple when you're speeding down a dirt path through the woods in the middle of a bike ride. 

We'd rather have voice controls allow us to say "GoPro, record a slow motion video." The GoPro Hero 6 supports voice commands, but it's not part of the command list yet (just "GoPro, record a video" works).

Early verdict

GoPro Hero 6 Black is instantly the best action camera you can buy based on the specs. The big highlight is 4K at 60fps and super slow motion 240fps at 1080p footage in such a small, versatile action camera make it a cinematic marvel.

At $500 or £500, though, the Hero 6 Black is $100 or £100 more than its now price-reduced predecessor, the Hero 5 Black. And that's before you factor in all of the mount accessories you can to buy.

Is slow motion video worth the extra money? No, not for most people. But everyone will be able to take advantage of the improved image stabilization, wider dynamic range and better low light performance. The faster transfer speeds and small file sizes are a good universal perk as well. That's worth the step up in price, even if everything looks the same on the outside.

Posted: October 6, 2017, 12:27 am

There was a time when the idea of getting a 4K-ready drone for a price that didn't require you to remortgage your home was the stuff of a madman's dreams, but the rapid advancement of this particular field of gadgetry means such opulence is now well within the grasp of even casual aerial photographers.

Drones like the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K are paving the way for a low-cost revolution by offering professional-standard video recording that doesn't cost the earth. The Q500 4K captures excellent footage, comes with a wide range of extras and is easy to get in the air – and it offers all of this for a fraction of the cost of its more famous rivals – with some caveats, of course.

Price and availability

If you're shopping on a budget it's possible to order the most basic Q500 4K package from as little as $700, but the more feature-rich bundle – which includes a robust flight case and other goodies – retails for around $800 direct from the manufacturer. If you're in the UK you can expect an almost like-for-like conversion on price, although some retailers are selling the bigger bundle for less than £700. 

Design

Unlike some of its more expensive rivals, the Typhoon Q500 4K has a lightweight plastic chassis to keep costs down. This means the drone is more likely to incur serious damage in a collision, but for those shopping on a tight budget the trade-off is likely to be acceptable.

The top half of the drone is dominated by its four rotors, while the 4K gimbal-mounted camera sits directly underneath. Batteries are loaded into a compartment on the rear of the unit, and two helicopter-style skids protrude from the bottom, complete with soft foam pads to ensure a comfortable landing.

There are five lights on the Q500 4K – one on the underside of each rotor, with a fifth light on the rear so you can see which way the drone is facing when it's in the distance.

Build and handling

Because Yuneec has opted for a largely plastic build as opposed to metal or carbon fiber, the Typhoon Q500 4K is astonishingly light – especially when compared to the likes of the DJI Inspire 2, which is of a similar size.

However, it's clear that Yuneec's offering isn't going to perform as well in a straight fight with a brick wall or tree. While we mercifully avoided any serious bumps during our review period, we dread to think what a high-speed collision could do to those plastic arms; with a little pressure it's possible to flex them quite dramatically, which would hint at a drone that isn't designed to withstand excessive force.

Thankfully, once it's up in the air such issues are largely forgotten; the Typhoon 4K proves to be an agile and responsive drone that's a joy to control, thanks to the bundled ST10+ Personal Ground Station controller. Festooned with buttons and boasting two incredibly precise analog sticks, the Android-based controller presents a drone's-eye view of the action via its 5.5-inch touchscreen, while flashing up important information during flight.

Unlike so many other expensive drones on the market, this controller features a built-in screen so you don't have to tether your smartphone to the device; the result is a much more elegant solution, albeit one which requires a massive amount of time to fully recharge – our ST10+ was connected to the wall socket for around four hours before it was totally topped up.

With user-friendliness in mind, Yuneec has even gone so far as to include an SD card, which contains the user manual and some informative videos which not only show you how to unbox the unit, but how to charge it, how to install the props and how its flight modes and features work.

Performance and battery life

The lightweight frame of the Q500 4K provides decent stability when in the air, although it's not quite as rock-solid as some of DJI's top-line offerings. Even a light wind is enough to cause the drone to wobble, but thankfully the footage captured by the gimbal-mounted camera isn't affected.

The drone's built-in GPS system means it can hover on the spot for prolonged periods without drifting, while the autonomous modes – such as 'Follow Me' and 'Watch Me' – are easy to activate, and take some of the effort out of flying.

Follow Me does exactly as you'd expect: the drone automatically tracks the position of the ST10+ controller, while Watch Me fixes the drone's camera on the pilot, irrespective of where it's flying.

Both modes performed superbly, but it's worth noting that unlike more expensive drones, the Q500 4K lacks sophisticated collision-avoidance systems. It maintains a safe distance between itself and the person controlling it, but will happily smash into other nearby objects if you're not careful on those controls.

The Typhoon Q500 4K comes with two 5400mAh batteries, each of which offers around 20 to 25 minutes of flight time, depending on what activities you're engaged in – using the autonomous modes will drain the battery quicker than simply controlling it manually, for example.

The battery has to be physically removed from the back of the drone in order to charge it, and charging time clocks in at around two hours, which makes the fact that you get two batteries in the more expensive bundle quite a bonus – it means you're getting as much as 50 minutes of flight time when you venture out into the field, and it's even possible to plug the battery charger into your car's cigarette lighter for topping-up on the road.

Video and photo capture

1080p might have been a big deal in the world of drone-based photography a few years back, but now it's all about 4K. The Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K can manage ultra-high definition video at 30 frames per second, but if you're willing to take a drop in quality you can record 1080p at 60fps, as well as capture slow-motion footage at a whopping 120fps.

Still images from the Typhoon 4K's CGO3 camera have very good dynamic range

The drone's CGO3 camera is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal, and boasts a 115-degree field of view, with the resultant footage impressively free from distortion or warping around the edges. The only negative we experienced was a weird effect around the sides of the picture when shooting directly into the sun, although we have to admit we didn't have the bundled UV filter installed.

Photographs are equally impressive thanks to the 12-megapixel sensor, and because there are dedicated buttons on the ST10+ controller, alternating between video and still image capture is a breeze.

We liked

For such a reasonable price, the Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K really does pack in a lot of features. The 4K video footage is excellent – even if it's not 60 frames per second – and the ability to effortlessly switch to 1080p slow-motion capture allows even the most inexperienced of flyers to record some amazing footage.

The autonomous modes are easy to master, while the bundled ST10+ controller's built-in screen is something of a rarity, even in high-end drones. Finally, the Q500 4K is agile and responsive in the air, making it fun to fly.

We disliked

If you're used to drones that feel like they could withstand a direct hit from a bazooka then the Typhoon Q500 4K might seem a bit flimsy and cheap; the body is almost entirely plastic, and we're not sure it would survive a full-speed collision with the branches of a tree, let alone something more solid.

The drone's lack of advanced object avoidance systems means you need to be quite careful in busy or built-up areas, and it's also a shame that the battery lasts, on average, for only around 20 minutes, and takes so long to fully top-up.

Verdict

The Yuneec Typhoon 4K may not have as many features as some of the leading drones on the market, but its lower price point will be particularly attractive for novice aerial photographers.

While the plastic bodywork is off-putting, there are plenty of positives here, including the superb ST10+ controller with its built-in screen, superb image quality and above-average maneuverability and responsiveness.

Posted: October 1, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Olympus: Compare The OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s Movie Feature to Competitors

 

By: Olympus

Originally published on Sep 19, 2016

Capture smooth video footage with the new OM-D E-M1 Mark II with Movie Comparison features.

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DJI – Introducing the DJI Mavic Pro

By: DJI

Originally published on Sep 27, 2016

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

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

Maximum range specification is provided as a performance measurement only.

http://dji.com/mavic

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