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First Hands-On Impressions of the Sony RX10 IV, the All-In-One Bridge Camera With 24 fps Stills Shooting

Last week Sony announced the latest updates to their lineup of RX cameras which utilize a small but powerful one-inch sensor. I had the opportunity to use the new RX10 IV for an afternoon of photographing action and a musical performance. Here are my initial thoughts from the experience.

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Author: Ryan Mense
Posted: September 22, 2017, 12:40 am

New 'Tomb Raider' Film Poster Ridiculed for Photoshop Neck Fail

The first trailer for the latest "Tomb Raider" film has been released along with an official poster, which is drawing all the wrong kinds of attention due to a Photoshop fail.

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Author: Jack Alexander
Posted: September 21, 2017, 9:00 pm

Using Reflectors to Take Better Portraits

There are several different ways to light up your subject for portraits, sometimes we can get caught up in needing more lights for our sets while forgetting there are other tools that can help. Reflectors can very beneficial in bouncing additional light in a cost-effective way. Whether it’s the sun, available light, or your own artificial light, reflectors can help you control the light. Aaron Nace over at Phlearn shows several ways to use a reflector, or a few, on-set to improve your portraits.

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Author: Alex Ventura
Posted: September 21, 2017, 8:00 pm

Top 10 WeeklyFstops: Leading Lines

Well, we did it. We have successfully started the weekly Fstoppers photo theme. It was not only great to see so many submissions, but the response from people hearing about the idea has been excellent. There are so many photographers out there looking to explore new techniques and grow their photography skills we are excited to see all the different ways to portray a theme prompt. Let us take a look at how the entries for leading lines went. Also, make sure you check out the new theme revealed at the bottom of this article.

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Author: Michael B. Stuart
Posted: September 21, 2017, 7:00 pm

Chris Burkard Shares the Story of How a Trip to Norway Changed His Career

Chris Burkard has made an impressive career out of photographing adventure in some of the most beautiful places in the world. With over 2.8 million followers on Instagram, it's safe to say he is one of the most successful outdoor adventure photographers shooting right now. However, this wasn't always the case and like a lot of photographers, Burkard once found himself dissatisfied with where he was in his career. That's when a trip to Norway's Lofoten Islands changed everything.

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Author: Michael DeStefano
Posted: September 21, 2017, 6:00 pm

Tenba Air Gear Cases Handle 400 Pounds of Stacked Weight With Less Burden of Other Plastic Hard Cases

For traveling photographers and videographers, the hard plastic case is an essential piece of kit in order to get equipment from point A to point B safely. Tenba is looking to improve upon this experience with the Air Case Attaché collection.

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Author: Ryan Mense
Posted: September 21, 2017, 5:50 pm
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Techradar Camera and Camcorder reviews

TechRadar - Cameras and camcorder reviews

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The Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D outside the US) is the latest in a long line of entry-level Canon DSLRs that can chart their heritage back to the original EOS Digital Rebel (EOS 300D) that arrived back in 2003.

Since then, the various iterations and updates that have come and gone have been firm favorites with both new and more experienced users alike.

Canon's current EOS Rebel T6i / EOS 750D has established itself as one of our favourite entry-level DSLRs. It's packed with a range of features perfect for the new user, while the polished handling makes it a pleasure to use.

But that camera is now two years old and beginning to show its age, and with Nikon updating its entry-level range with the likes of the D3400 and D5600, and with a slew of new mirrorless rivals from various manufacturers being thrown into the mix, an update from Canon was always on the cards.

The EOS Rebel T7i / 800D offers a number of improvements over its predecessor, although not all of them are obvious from a glance at the spec sheet,so let's take a closer look at the Rebel T7i / 800D…

Features

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

While the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D sports the same 24.2MP resolution as the Rebel T6i / EOS 750D it replaces, the sensor has been overhauled we’re told, and uses the same technology we've seen in the EOS 80D.

Canon wouldn't elaborate on what exactly has changed, but we can speculate that it uses the same on-chip digital-to-analogue conversion technology that we've seen in the EOS 5D Mark IV to handle noise better. 

The new sensor is partnered with a new DIGIC 7 image processor. We've seen a DIGIC 7 chip already in the likes of Canon's PowerShot G7 X II compact camera, but this is quite a different proposition. Canon claims it can handle 14 times more information than the DIGIC 6 processor that was in the T6i / 750D, which again should help deliver a better high-ISO noise performance, as well as an improved autofocus performance too.

We'll look at the autofocus in more detail a little later, but sensitivity-wise the Rebel T7i / 800D offers a range of ISO100-25,600 – that's an extra stop over the T6i’s expanded 12,800 ISO ceiling, while there’s a Hi setting equivalent to ISO51,200 also available. You’ll just have to select this in the custom setting.

Canon has opted to stick with the same 3.0-inch, vari-angle touchscreen display with a resolution of 1,040,000 dots. A slight boost in resolution, or increase in size to 3.2-inches (matching the Nikon D5600), would have been welcome here, but perhaps Canon may have felt improvements were unnecessary here, as it’s already one of the most polished touch interfaces out there.

It's perhaps a little underwhelming to see only Full HD capture

With 4K video capture becoming more of a standard feature on cameras, especially the mirrorless rivals which the Rebel T7i / 800D will be going up against, it's perhaps a little underwhelming to see only Full HD capture offered.

Footage can be captured at up to 60p though, up from the T6i / 750D’s 30p, while Canon has equipped the Rebel T7i / 800D with a 5-axis image stabilization system for shooting hand-held footage. Designed to work with video but not stills, the system is designed to counter unwanted camera movement, while IS-equipped lenses will also work in conjunction with the system.

There’s also a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack port, but no headphone port to monitor audio – something that’s pretty standard on cameras at this price point. 

The T6i / 750D supported Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and the T7i / 800D builds on this. There's now the option to set up a low-energy Bluetooth connection so that you can always be connected to the camera. We’ve seen something similar with Nikon’s SnapBridge connectivity, enabling 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. The Camera Connect app itself has also been updated to make it more user-friendly, and to help guide you through the controls.

New 18-55mm lens

The arrival of the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D also heralds a new 18-55mm kit lens that’ll be offered as a starter kit with the camera. The Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM is 20% smaller than its predecessor, and a little slower (the older lens had a variable maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.6) thanks to its collapsible design, but offers up to four stops of image stabilization. As we’ve got our hands on one of the first T7i / 800D’s available we’re using the older lens for this review, but we'll update once the new optic becomes available.

Build and handling

  • Aluminum alloy and polycarbonate construction
  • Design little changed from previous models
  • Weighs 532g

Like the Rebel T6i, the T7i features a aluminum alloy and polycarbonate construction, but has managed to shave about 20g from the weight of the camera, which tips the scales at 532g with a battery and card.

However, while we don’t doubt that the quality of the construction of this camera is very good, the predominantly matt plastic exterior finish of the camera just doesn’t feel that nice to the touch. If we’re being harsh, it feels quite cheap, especially when compared to mirrorless rivals like the Panasonic Lumix G80/G85 and Fujifilm X-T20

While it's not going to trouble most mirrorless rivals when it comes to size, the T7i / 800D is still pretty compact, while the textured hand grip is pleasingly deep, allowing you to get a firm grasp on the camera.

Design-wise, little has changed from its predecessor, with minor tweaks to the rear of the camera. The indent to release the rear vari-angle display is now next to the viewfinder, rather than to the right-hand side, while the left-hand side of the viewfinder has a slightly gentler slope to it. Otherwise the design is almost identical, with the same control layout as the T6i / 750D. This is no bad thing though, as the T6i / 750D is a nice camera to use.

There’s a decent (but not overwhelming) amount of body-mounted controls dotted around the camera. On the top plate are a single command dial and dedicated controls for ISO, autofocus and display, while there’s a host of regularly used settings on the rear.

There’s also a Quick menu that's accessed by pressing the Q button. This gives you rapid access to some key features that can either be adjusted using the camera’s physical buttons and dials, or by touching the screen to toggle between settings. We reckon that even if you’re not used to using a touchscreen on a camera, it’ll soon become second-nature to you – the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D’s touchscreen interface is very intuitive, and integrated seamlessly with the camera’s menu system. 

The vari-angle display offers a useful range of movement to assist in a range of shooting situations

The T7i / 800D uses a cheaper pentamirror design (rather than the pentaprism that’s used in more advanced DSLRs) that shows approximately 95% of the scene as on the D5600. The display is nice and bright (if a little cramped), but you'll need to take care when composing shots to avoid unwanted elements encroaching on the edges of the frame – we found on a couple of occasions when reviewing shots on the rear display that annoying stray elements had crept in.

If you're going to be relying on the rear touchscreen more when composing shots, the good news is that you get 100% coverage here. Clarity and sharpness are good, while the vari-angle display offers a useful range of movement to assist in a range of shooting situations.

Autofocus

  • 45-point AF, all cross-type
  • Sensitive down to -3EV
  • Dual Pixel AF for Live View

The EOS Rebel T6i / EOS 750D employed Canon's tried and tested 19-point phase-detect AF system, which was starting to look a little dated even when it was launched a couple of years back. Canon has overhauled this for the Rebel T7i / 800D, upping the coverage to 45 points – and that's not the whole story, as Canon has also made all 45 points cross-type for more accurate AF.

(Cross-type sensors are sensitive in both the horizontal and vertical planes, so when the camera's focusing it's more likely to lock onto its target than a sensor that's sensitive to one plane, which can mean you have to rotate the camera to achieve focus.)

As well as this, focusing is sensitive down to -3EV, so even in poor light you shouldn't have any issues. We test the AF under poor artificial light and it performed well, only struggling when presented with some almost pitch-black conditions. Finally, 27 of the AF points are sensitive even at wider apertures down to f/8 – perfect if you're planning to use a moderately slow lens and teleconverter together.

The T7i / 800D's focusing system delivers solid performance

The T7i / 800D’s phase-detect system works very well – focusing speed was pretty snappy even with the 18-55mm lens we used, while subject-tracking performance is noticeably better than the T6i / 750D, thanks to the 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that helps the AF system track subjects. 

As there’s no dedicated joystick for AF point selection, this is done via the four-way button arrangement on the rear of the camera, which works pretty quickly, while there are four AF modes to choose from: selectable single point, Zone AF (uses 9 AF points in a selectable block), Large Zone AF (can select the central 15 AF points, or the 15 points either side) or Auto Selection AF (uses the entire coverage, with the camera selecting the AF points).

The Dual Pixel AF system impresses

The Rebel T7i / 800D also gets Canon's Dual Pixel AF for Live View photography and video capture. It's certainly a welcome improvement over Canon's rather clunky Hybrid CMOS AF III system, which was used in the older model and wasn’t a patch on its mirrorless rivals for speed and operability. 

With 49 AF points arranged in a 7 x 7 grid, this new system is much improved and delivers smooth and fast focusing, especially when used in tandem with the touchscreen when selecting your desired point of focus. It’s so much better than the older system, and better than the system used by the Nikon D5600 – and good enough to trouble some mirrorless systems.

Performance

  • 6fps burst shooting
  • User guide on camera
  • 600-shot battery life

Thanks in part to the DIGIC 7 image processor, Canon has managed to boost the continuous shooting speed to 6fps in the T7i, up from the T6i's 5fps. It's a modest jump, though, and with mirrorless rivals offering faster burst shooting this is another area where it's a shame that Canon hasn't been tempted to try and squeeze out even more performance from the new camera.

Battery life has seen a big improvement though, and many mirrorless rivals would struggle to match the T7i / 800D's 600 shot capacity – up from the T6i's 440. There is a caveat though, as solely using the rear display, if that’s how you like to shoot, will see battery life drop to 270 shots, while it lags behind its closest rival, the Nikon D5600, which can take an extra 220 shots (820 in total) before the battery will need recharging.

Getting to grips with creative photography can be daunting for new users, which is where Nikon's graphical Guide Mode on the likes of the D3300 has done really well in the past, so it's welcome to see Canon introduce something similar on the T7i / 800D.

The T7i / 800D sports a new guide mode

Canon has introduced a clean-looking graphical interface that helps users by explaining settings, and offering advice on what effects each will have on the final shot. For instance, if you’re in Aperture Priority mode the display will illustrate what settings are needed for a blurred or sharp background, with additional info being displayed to help you further understand what’s going. For new users this will certainly be of benefit, while more more experienced users can disable this feature in the menu if they wish, and stick with Canon's more traditional menu system.

Metering is weighted to the AF point, so it can trick the metering on occasion, as here

The T7i / 800D uses the same 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor as the T6i / 750D, with 63-zone Evaluative, Partial, Centre-weighted and Spot metering options. The evaluative system does a good job most of the time, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the weighting applied to the active AF point can mean you need to use exposure compensation in high-contrast situations; we experienced a couple of occasions where the same shot threw up two different exposures simply because we shifted the AF point slightly.

The white balance system performs very well, while the option of an Ambient Auto White Balance mode has its uses, delivering slightly warmer results that can be welcome, while White Priority can deliver clean, neutral results even in artificial lighting.

Image quality

  • ISO100-51,200
  • Noise performance much improved
  • Pleasing color rendition

The EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D's new 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor performs very well. While there's probably not much to choose between this new sensor and the one in the T6i / 750D in terms of out-and-out resolution, with both performing very well, it's improvements elsewhere that make the difference.

The 24MP sensor is capable of delivering a decent amount of detail

Perhaps the biggest improvement is in the way the camera handles noise. Images appeared very clean at low sensitivities and displayed good saturation, but it's further up the sensitivity range where the big improvements are evident.

Processed raw file at ISO1600

Raw files edited in Adobe Camera Raw looked very good, with images looking very clean even at ISO6400. While there's some luminance (grain-like) noise, it's very fine in structure, and there's hardly any noticeable chroma (color) noise present. Saturation has suffered a touch however, although it's still very good.

As you'd expect, image noise is much more pronounced at ISO25,600, with saturation and detail suffering on top of more noticeable noise. Despite this though, results are still pretty sound all things considered. We'd avoid using this setting where possible, but it does provide that bit of flexibility if you really need to get a shot in poor light.

As we've come to expect, colors are pleasing when it comes to JPEG output, although images arguably lack the 'bite' and clarity of some those from some rival cameras, so we'd suggest tweaking one of the Picture Styles or shooting raw.

Dynamic range is also that bit better, but still not quite a match for rivals – there's just not the same latitude in raw files to recover highlight and shadow detail as with, say, the D5600 or X-T20.

Dynamic range is improved, but still not quite a match for the best

This isn't unique to the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D by any stretch, but to make the most of this camera you'll want to ditch the 18-55mm kit lens as soon as you can – there's some pretty pronounced distortion present, while sharpness could be better. Fortunately, there are a wealth of optics out there that will do the well-performing sensor justice.

Verdict

Canon is hardly rocking the DSLR boat with the new EOS Rebel T7i / 800D – although with the T6i / 750D proving such as success it would have been daft to start from scratch.

That said, there have been a number of welcome improvements. The new sensor impresses, with great performance at high ISOs, and delivers detail-rich images (though to get the best from the camera you'll want some decent glass).

The autofocus too is a decent improvement over the T6i / 750D, with a solid 45-point AF system that's backed up by excellent live view AF. 

The newly designed graphical interface will certainly make the camera even more appealing to new users – combined with the logical control layout and polished touchscreen it makes for a hassle-free shooting experience.

It's disappointing not to see 4K video capture here though, especially as mirrorless rivals are now offering it, while perhaps the biggest disappointment is the camera's finish. While it's similar to previous models, the onslaught of mirrorless models that feel that much nicer in the hand, and the relatively high launch price, exacerbate this shortcoming.

If you can get over these issues though, and if you're looking for a well-rounded and easy to use camera with which to take your first steps in the world of DSLR photography, the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D is certainly worth a look.

Competition

Posted: September 20, 2017, 3:48 pm

The D3300 may have been replaced by the D3400, but that's no reason to discount this entry-level DSLR. In fact, while the D3400 costs a little bit more (though prices are continuing to fall), the D3300 is the better buy right now.

Despite the growing popularity of mirrorless cameras, the entry-level DSLR market is still incredibly popular for those looking to take the next step in their photography journey.

Nikon's range of D3xxx models has proved incredibly popular over the years for new users looking to expand their creativity thanks to their blend of easy handling and solid performance, backed-up by an impressive range of lenses and accessories.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots
  • 1080p video capture

The Nikon D3300 features a high resolution 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which is pretty impressive when you consider the enthusiast-focused (and much higher priced) D7200 shares the an almost identical sensor with it. Like the rest of the Nikon range, the D3300's sensor does away with a low-pass filter on the sensor as well, which means even more detail can be captured.

In addition to this, the native sensitivity range runs from ISO100 to 12,800, and there's an expansion setting that takes it to the equivalent of ISO25,600, that should provide plenty of flexibility for a range of lighting situations.

Like the Nikon D5300, the D3300 sports Nikon's now second-generation processing engine, the EXPEED 4, allowing the D3300 to shoot continuously at a maximum rate of 5fps, while it can sustain this burst rate for up to 100 fine quality JPEGs. Not probably quite a match for some mirrorless rivals, but more than enough for most people's needs.

The EXPEED 4 processing engine is also responsible for allowing the D3300 to record Full HD movie footage at frame rates up to 50p/60p and with continuous autofocus. Helpfully, there's a microphone port as well as a built-in stereo mic for better sound recording during movie shooting. If you want 4K, you'll either have to look further up the Nikon line-up or at some mirrorless competition like the Panasonic Lumix G7.

Unlike some (pricier) rivals sporting articulating screens, the 3.0-inch display on the rear of the D3300 sits flush to the body. The absence of a touchscreen interface is also a little disappointing, especially when you consider how many of the camera's controls are changed via the screen itself. If these are deal-breakers, then you might want to look further up the Nikon range to the D5600 or rivals from Canon. 

Like pretty much every DSLR at this price point, the D3300's optical viewfinder only offers a 95% field of view. While it is bright and clear, not being 100% does mean that there is a chance of something appearing in the final image that you didn't notice when framing up your shot.

There are a host of Special Effects on tap, allowing you to jazz-up JPEG files and videos with a collection of styles. Nikon has boosted the list of effects to 13 for the D3300, and it now includes Pop, which increases colour saturation, Toy Camera, which creates a retro effect, and Easy Panorama. These effects can be previewed in real time on the LCD screen, so you can see exactly what you'll get once you trigger the shutter.

Connectivity options are pretty limited, so if you want to wirelessly transfer images you'll have to invest in the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter to make it so. If you want a connected entry-level Nikon DSLR, you'll want to get the D3400. Featuring Nikon's SnapBridge technology, this functionality allows the D3400 to be connected wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet. 

Build and handling

  • Polycarbonate construction
  • Small and lightweight body
  • Weighs 460g

The D3300 is the second DSLR from Nikon to use a monocoque construction - this means that the chassis is made from a single piece of material. Lighter than the D3200 it replaced, the D3300 is actually a bit heavier than the D3400, with Nikon managing to shave a very modest 15g off the 410g body-only weight of the D3300. 

The grip is still deep and comfortable to hold, with the textured surface making it feel particularly secure in the hand.

The new 18-55mm kit lens that the D3300 will probably most likely be purchased with is now collapsible. While by no means small in comparison to compact system camera lenses of the same equivalent zoom range, when collapsed the lens is quite a bit shorter than its predecessor, making it easier to fit into a small bag when not in use.

When you want to use the camera (with this kit lens attached), you'll first need to press a button on the lens barrel to expand it back into normal proportions. This does mean that start-up time from packed away is a little slower than other cameras, but you can of course leave it extended if you need a quicker start.

There isn't a huge number of buttons on the D3300, which is to be expected of an entry-level camera. On the top plate you'll find a mode dial for switching between exposure modes, such as fully automatic, aperture priority and the newly incorporated Effects mode. Also on the top plate you'll find the exposure compensation button (for use in automatic and semi-automatic modes) and an info button, which helpfully turns off the rear display, preventing it from being a distraction while using the viewfinder.

A sort of quick menu is accessed on the D3300 by pressing a button labelled 'i' on the back of the camera. After you've pressed this, use the directional keys to pick a setting you want to change – such as white balance – and then press OK to bring up the different options available to you. Unfortunately, this menu isn't customisable, so if there's something on this menu you rarely use, you're stuck with it.

There is also a function button near the lens mount. By default holding this down will allow you to quickly change the ISO, but you can change this to control JPEG quality, white balance or Active D-Lighting. ISO seems like a sensible choice since it's something you'll probably need to change the most often out of the options available.

Autofocus

  • 11-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
  • AF-assist illuminator
  • 3D-tracking AF

Meanwhile, there's an 11-point AF system that we've seen on a host of previous models, which has a central cross-type AF point for extra sensitivity.

It's a little unremarkable, especially when compared to some mirrorless rivals, but its a tried and test system that does a solid job.

Autofocusing speeds are pretty high, especially in daylight or well-lit conditions. It's rare for the kit lens to hunt around to acquire focus, and rarer still for it to present a false confirmation of focus. Speeds do drop a little in lower light conditions, but it's only when it gets very dark that the lens struggles to focus at all.

It performs very well, allowing you to track a subject across the D3300's 11 AF points

The D3300 also sports Nikon 3D-Tracking technology and while it's not as advanced as that found on more sophisticated models, it performs very well, allowing you to track a subject across the D3300's 11 AF points.

Changing the AF point is very simple. All you'll need to do is press the directional arrow keys to move around to the point you need. As the central AF point is cross-type, it is more sensitive than the others, so you may find it beneficial to focus and recompose in certain situations, or, if you're just aiming for speed.

It's worth bearing in mind, though, that focusing speeds drop significantly when using Live View, so it's only really recommended you use that if you're shooting something stationery, or you're shooting from an awkward angle and can't compose using the viewfinder. This is where mirrorless rivals definitely have the edge.

Performance

  • 5fps burst shooting
  • Helpful Guide mode
  • 700-shot battery life

The D3300's interface has a pleasingly modern appearance, with the high resolution giving the display beautifully rounded edges and displaying the interface's colors well.

When shooting, the camera displays three circles which represent shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity (ISO). These displays change as you alter settings using the scrolling dials, most obvious being the aperture circle which closes and opens to represent the opening and closing of the aperture blades. If you're new to creative photography, this is a great way to get to grips with the basics.

The D3300 has a dedicated 420-pixel RGB sensor to gather exposure, white balance and focus information to inform the Automatic Scene Recognition system. 

In the majority of everyday shooting conditions, the D3300's general-purpose matrix metering system does a good job of producing accurate exposures, while the camera's automatic white balance also performs well. It manages to produce faithful colors even while shooting indoors, where under artificial lights produces images which are hard to fault, hardly erring towards warm tones at all, which is excellent to see in an entry-level DSLR.

Battery life is very good too, lasting for around 700 shots - better than similarly priced mirrorless rivals, though not quite as impressive as the D3400's 1200 shot battery life. 

Image quality

  • ISO100-12,800, expandable to 100-25,600
  • No low-pass filter
  • Punchy colors

As expected, the D3300 has excellent resolving power. Even when zoomed in to images at 100% reveals that very fine details can be seen. 

With such a high pixel count (24 million pixels), there comes the increased chance of noise appearing in images. The D3300 handles low light, high sensitivity situations very well. Noise only really starts to become particularly apparent when shooting at ISO 3200 above, and even then it's acceptable, or certainly preferable to a blurred or missed shot.

Image smoothing is something that can be seen right the way through the sensitivity run, but at the lower end of the spectrum it's not particularly noticeable, only when examining images very closely at 100% does it become apparent. When printing at normal sizes, such as A4, or sharing online, it doesn't present a problem.

One of the benefits of having a large pixel count is the ability to crop images and still retain a decent resolution, but this is something to bear in mind if you've been shooting at a high sensitivity and want to crop an image. Any image smoothing or noise may become more apparent the more you crop the image.

Verdict

With the Nikon D3300, you get a lot of seriously good kit for your money. For starters, the 24MP sensor is capable of producing excellent levels of detail. Then there's the interface. The crisp and clean look off the D3300's Guide Mode continues to be something which makes this camera appealing to novice users, helping you get to grips and understand the basics of photography as you shoot, whilst the collapsible 18-55mm kit lens is great when you're on the go. 

While the autofocus system might not be overflowing with AF points, the 11-point AF system works very, with a decent 3D-Tracking mode for moving subjects. Autofocus could be snappier in Live View however, while it's a shame you don't get an articulated touchscreen display (you'll want the D5600 if that's what you're after) or Wi-Fi connectivity, but Nikon does make a cheap plug-in Wi-Fi adaptor if that's a deal-breaker for you.

These niggles aside and when you factor in the excellent battery life and the wealth of lenses and accessories available, not forgetting the excellent value it is right now, and the D3300 is hard to beat if you're looking for your first DSLR.

The arrival though of the D3400 with a virtually identical spec and built-in connectivity for roughly the same price means the newer camera just edges it. 

Competition

Posted: September 20, 2017, 8:40 am

If the GoPro Hero5 Black is the current undisputed heavyweight champion of the 4K action camera world, the scores of cheaper rivals that are currently coming through the ranks are the young and feisty contenders for its crown.

But so far none of them has managed to topple GoPro's relatively expensive offering, even if cheaper rivals claim to boast similar spec-for-spec attributes, proven sensors and comparable technology.

Cameras from Yi Technology (notably the YI 4K Action Camera), Olfi and Veho have come close in terms of design and performance, but have typically buckled in the final round.

Despite the scores of battered and bruised challengers before it, however, Chinese manufacturer SJCAM thinks it has what it takes to trouble the champ, and its latest SJ7 Star model boasts the sort of features that, on paper, appear to make it a contender.

Features

  • 4K video capture at 30fps
  • 12MP stills (up to 16MP via interpolation)
  • 166-degree wide angle lens

Like its GoPro rival, the SJCAM SJ7 Star offers an interactive rear touchscreen via which you can control most of the functionality. At two inches wide, it's easy to view and to navigate.

There's also the option to download the free SJCAM app, which is available for iOS and Android and connects via the smartphone's Wi-Fi, for previewing shots and rapidly editing settings.

Expect plenty of video resolution options, with 720p and 920p at 120fps catering for the extreme slow-motion moments, 1080p at 120fps bumping up the resolution somewhat, and 2.7k at 60fps or 30fps and 4K at 30fps offering the sharpest footage.

The camera also packs gyro stabilisation, which aims to digitally smooth out bumps in video recording

The SJ7 Star matches the aforementioned GoPro pound for pound, and even records 4K natively (rather than via interpolation), meaning image quality and clarity are superior to the previous SJ6 model.

However, the twice-the-price GoPro Hero 5 still manages to keep the upper hand in a number of areas, including its built-in waterproof casing (there's no need for a separate case any more), ProTune video options (the dream for anyone wanting greater control in post-production), HDR images and voice control.

The camera also packs gyro stabilization, which aims to digitally smooth out bumps in video recording, although this is only available in 1080p at 30fps or lower resolutions.

That means full 4K and 2.7K can feel bumpy, while super-smooth, super-slow-motion clips could be out of the question.

Design and accessories

  • Three color options (black, grey and rose gold)
  • Plenty of basic mounts in the box
  • Waterproof casing included

There's not too much to write home about in terms of design. The SJCAM SJ7 Star is a matchbox-sized action camera with all the glamor of, well, a matchbox.

It comes finished in all-over grey, or with a black (as seen here) or rose gold facade, but essentially it's a small rectangular box with a tiny lens at the front, two rubber buttons (settings and power), a shutter button on the top and a touchscreen at the rear.

On the bottom there's a small hinged door that houses the 1000mAh lithium ion battery pack, which isn't as powerful as those found in the aforementioned rivals, including the Yi 4K and GoPro offerings.

The SJCAM SJ7 Star is fashioned from hard plastics and rubber, and feels fairly substantial as it is but the packaging contains numerous cases, including a waterproof case that allows the camera to be taken to depths of 30m.

SJCAM also includes a touchscreen hinged back door that can be used at depths up to 3m, but its plastic is far too tough and inflexible to allow proper use of the rear screen.

The casings and accessories use a GoPro mounting system, with many featuring 3M adhesive pads, but the plastics used feel cheap and brittle.

The waterproof casing, for example, uses a small latch and hinge mechanism for opening and closing. That tiny plastic hinge requires some pretty sturdy nails to open it the first few times, and the process can actually prove painful if your hands are cold or wet.

Build and handling

  • Responsive touchscreen
  • Accessories feel cheap

Charging the SJCAM SJ7 Star, and transfer of files, is taken care of via a standard mini-USB cable, which is good news if, like us, you have loads of cables hanging around.

We found that GoPro's use of the newer USB-C cables meant we had to keep the provided wire under lock and key through fear of losing it and not being able to charge the camera. Not so with SJCAM.

There's no visual indicator to show that the unit is charging when it's switched off, meaning the screen has to be activated if you'd like to check status; an indicator on the front of the camera wouldn't go amiss.

Once fully charged, the SJ7 Star starts up quickly, and there's very little delay between start-up and recording or shooting, although the one-button shutter means it's a little more fiddly to switch between stills and video.

To do so, you have to swipe left or right on the rear touchscreen, or swipe up to access the various modes, including self-timer, video lapse and burst photo options.

Accessing this menu is quick and easy, with the touchscreen proving responsive, but exiting menus and clicking on the smaller icons can be fiddly, and often takes multiple attempts.

The various mounts are simple and intuitive to use, while the thumb screws tighten and loosen without a struggle – an issue that typically blights cheaper cameras.

There's also a handy universal mount that screws into most tripod systems, for those who fancy getting creative with timelapse photos or who simply want steady video footage, although the SJ7 Star will have to be placed inside one of the provided cases first.

Performance

  • f/2.5 lens
  • Sony IMX117 sensor and Ambarella A12S75 chipset
  • Gyro stabilisation only at 1080p at 30fps and below

For this particular test, we took the SJCAM SJ7 Star out cycling, attached it to a car during some high-speed tyre testing, and packed it in a rucksack for a sunny hike along the beach.

Cycling is always a good workout for any built-in image stabilization, and in this case it's very easy to see the results with the technology activated, as it resulted in smooth footage when attached to some shaky handlebars.

The SJ7 Star also supports a quick capture mode, which sees video begin recording when the camera is switched on, although annoyingly this isn't the case when the camera goes into standby mode.

Here, the shutter must be depressed once to wake the camera up, and then again to take an image or start recording.

A recent firmware update has improved a number of handling issues, such as the slow-reacting touchscreen menus and some crashing, while app functionality is greatly improved.

On that note, the app is a nice addition to the overall package; it borrows many elements from the GoPro stable, including the design and layout, and it works well and proves easy to navigate.

The SJ7 Star creates its own Wi-Fi network, which you can easily connect your smartphone to in a matter of seconds. Once connected, the app then allows all of the settings to be adjusted, video resolutions changed and files browsed and downloaded to the device.

It feels a lot more intuitive to adjust settings via the app, as the small touchscreen on the back of the camera can be fiddly to use, and it's irksome to constantly have to remove it from one of the protective housings.

Expect battery time to be depleted much quicker when Wi-Fi is activated, though.

Image quality

  • Sharp and colorful video
  • Plenty of resolution options
  • Stills suffer from barrel distortion

Video quality from the SJCAM SJ7 Star is pretty good. Bright blue skies appear vibrant and image detail is good, even at 1080p and 30fps; there is some grain, and edges aren't particularly sharp, at this resolution, but that's to be expected.

There's an almost bamboozling number of resolution, frame rate and view angle options to chose from, but we found that 1080p at 60fps seemed to offer the best trade-off between image quality and file size, while it offers good flexibility in post-production.

Unfortunately, there isn't an option to shoot the video flat (to allow for greater flexibility in post), nor is it possible to capture stills in raw. That said, only minor tweaking in Lightroom was needed to create some nice imagery, even at 12MP resolution, although barrel distortion in stills is a big issue.

Still files look pretty good as long as you don't mind serious barrel distortion

The latest GoPro features a dual microphone set-up, which does a great job of cutting out wind noise for an improved soundtrack. The SJ7 Star's lack of such technology is noticeable, and the audio captured on a blustery ride was pretty much unusable.

You'll only get around 50 minutes of footage when shooting in 4K resolution, but this produces by far the best picture quality of all the settings.

We rode around with the camera mounted the back of our fixed-gear bicycle on a sunny day, and were impressed by the vivid colours and sharp detail. In the clip below t's possible to make out the tiniest patterns in the tarmac, even when travelling at speed.

But the lack of image stabilization at this resolution is a big drawback, as the 4K footage would have been far more pleasant if the annoying scuttle and shake produced by an uneven road surface was digitally reduced.

Editing and apps

  • Basic app functionality
  • Doesn't allow in-app editing
  • No video preview option

Unfortunately, neither the SJCAM SJ7 Star nor the app allows for any editing, with the app serving only as a tool to download clips and stills to a smartphone and correctly line up a shot.

That said, the app is extremely simple to use, and we found that our iPhone 7 had no problems connecting to its built-in Wi-Fi, although it would occasionally drop signal, forcing us to re-connect.

It is possible to review still imagery and video, as well as download selected files to a device, although the app requires video to be downloaded before it can be previewed, which is a pain.

The lack of in-app editing could prove a stumbling block for some potential buyers, as the likes of GoPro and YI Technology understand that not everyone has the time to sit down and put a slick edit together, and so offer easy solutions for creating neat clips that can be instantly shared via social media.

Verdict

Native 4K is impressive in a camera at this price point, as is the rear touchscreen and the liberal spread of cutting-edge features, but there are a couple of things that let the SJCAM SJ7 Star down.

The lack of image stabilization when shooting in 4K will likely disappoint anyone looking to capture professional-quality imagery, while GoPro's ProTune settings are naturally a big draw for those looking to get creative in the edit.

It's also not possible to shoot still imagery in raw, and the rear touchscreen can be slow, and irritating to use on a regular basis. However, we experienced a similar sensation with the far pricier GoPro Hero5 Black, and a firmware update did make it more responsive.

We were impressed with the overall video quality, especially when stabilized at 1080p, while the still imagery was sharp and perfectly acceptable for lower-resolution use cases after a few minor tweaks.

Granted, the SJCAM SJ7 Star lacks some of the cool features of the GoPro, such as voice activation, GPS and the ability to make quick and easy video clips via a smartphone app, but it delivers strong footage at a fraction of the price.

Competition

Posted: September 15, 2017, 4:35 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: September 8, 2017, 3:50 pm

The Alpha A6500 is Sony's flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, and boy does it pack a lot of tech. 

Sony left it just six months before updating the Alpha A6300 with the A6500, but while this might sound like a premature update, the Alpha 6500 gains a number of key features, including in-body image stabilization to further blur the line between Sony’s APS-C lineup and its Alpha 7 full-frame range of mirrorless cameras.

Sony has also equipped its new camera with a greatly enhanced buffer to make it a tempting proposition for shooting action, while there's also the welcome addition of a touchscreen interface. The inclusion of these new features makes the A6500 one of the most fully featured crop-sensor cameras on the market right now.

Features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch, vari-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

While the Sony A6500 sticks with the Alpha 6300’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor and 4D focus system (with 425 phase detect AF points), there are welcome improvements elsewhere.

It’s notably the first Sony APS-C camera to come with 5-axis in-body image stabilization, just as we've seen with Sony's second-generation Alpha 7 series of cameras like the Alpha A7R II. And the great news is that this not only works with Sony's non-stabilized optics, but can be used in conjunction with Sony's OSS stabilized lenses.

Sony has also overhauled the buffer of the A6500, delivering a considerable boost in performance that sees the camera capable of capturing 307 full-size JPEG files or 107 raws, all at a quick 11fps burst rate – quite an improvement from the A6300's 44 JPEG and 22 raw limit.

That's still a far cry from the Nikon D500's bottomless 200-raw buffer, but it beats out most cameras – including absolutely crushing the Canon EOS 7D Mark II's buffer capacity of 31 raw files.

A faster large-scale integration (LSI) chip and image processing algorithm improve texture reproduction while reducing noise. With this new chipset and code, the A6500 specifically produces less noise in the mid-to-high portions of the camera’s ISO100-25,600 (expandable up to ISO51,200) sensitivity range.

The Alpha 6500 also gains a touchscreen (though resolution remains at the same 921k-dots), allowing you to change your focus point on the fly, which can be really useful when shooting video. 

Likewise, there's the same XGA OLED Tru-Finder, with a 2.36-million dots resolution and 120hz maximum refresh rate, as on the A6300, although the eye cup is a little softer.

While the Sony Alpha A6500 gains no additional video capabilities over its predecessor, it basically comes with everything the videographer could want. 

You have 4K (3840 x 2160) at 25p and 30p recording in a Super 35mm format. In this mode, the camera uses its entire sensor to capture 6K source to avoid cropping. The oversampled video data is then crunched down to a final 4K output with enhanced depth and detail. 

Full HD recording is also available if you want to deal with smaller files, and the option to go up to 120p means you can capture slow motion video. 

Video professionals will also be glad to hear that the Sony A6500 samples 4K footage at 4.2.0 internally and 4.2.2 externally over HDMI. Plus it has all the flat picture profiles you would want for grading footage later.

Despite the wealth of video features, we're disappointed to see that, as on the A6300, there's no headphone jack on this camera. In order to monitor your audio you'll need to keep a close eye on levels on-screen, or plug in an external monitor with an audio-out.

Build and handling

  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Practically identical to the Sony A6300
  • Weighs 453g (1lb)

Outwardly, the Sony A6500 is largely identical to its predecessor. It’s still a half-metal, half-plastic construction built around a magnesium frame, while components such as the power switch, battery hatch and controls are plastic. 

The A6500 is a smidge thicker than the A6300, at 53mm compared with 49mm, to accommodate the in-body image stabilization system; both cameras are 120mm wide and 67mm tall. The extra components also add 49 grams to the weight, bringing the A6500 in at 453g (1lb).

A deeper grip is one notable change that we actually appreciate, as it allows us to get a better hold of the camera. Where the A6300 had a single custom function button to the right of the shutter button, the A6500 has two, both located between the shutter button and the mode dial.

Because of relatively clean design on the top of the camera, the A6500 is able to offer both a built-in flash and a multi-interface shoe in addition to the electronic viewfinder, together with two large dials – a command dial and another for changing the shooting mode.

As we've seen with the A6300, the back of the A6500 follows a tried-and-tested formula, with a handful of well-marked controls and the loosely moving control wheel enabling you to navigate menus and scrutinize images with ease.

The 3.0-inch display pulls away easily from the back of the camera, while it's stiff enough to remain in the position to which it's adjusted. That limited versatility of the touchscreen control is disappointing though - it’s only useful for changing the focus point while taking photos and video, although you can also use it as a touchpad to change your focusing point while looking through the viewfinder – a feature we’ve seen on the Fujifilm X-T20 and Olympus Pen-F. If you're wanting to swipe through photos, pinch to zoom and have more interaction with on-screen controls, forget it.

The menu system is comprehensive, with 35 separate screens, but thankfully this time Sony's decided to color-code them - something missing from the A6300, making it a bit easier to find what you need. 

Autofocus

  • 425 phase-detect AF points
  • 169 contrast-detect AF points
  • 0.05 sec AF speed

The Sony Alpha A6500 inherits one of the densest AF system going, coming equipped with the same 4D Focus system we loved so much on the A6300. 425 phase-detect AF points combined with 169 additional contrast-detect points enable the camera to find focus incredibly quickly.

We tested the AF on a variety of subjects, from ice hockey to fast and erratic moving drones, and the A6500's AF system did a spectacular job of finding focus and staying locked on. It's an impressive system that you can really rely on. 

Performance

  • 11fps burst shooting
  • 107 shot raw file buffer
  • 350-shot battery life

As we’ve mentioned, the Sony A6500 is a veritable speed demon, thanks to processing speeds being comprehensively boosted over the A6300.

The A6500 has been treated to the Alpha A99 II’s potent processing engine. This gives the A6500 a burst shooting buffer of up to 307 JPEGs when shooting at 8fps, giving you 35 seconds of firepower. Alternatively, at 11fps the camera can capture 200 JPEGs in a single bout or 107 raws.

The A6500's multi-zone metering system didn't get thrown by tricky lighting either, metering perfectly on the dot without any overexposure or underexposure. 

Battery life on the Sony A6500 is average at best

As with most Sony cameras we've tested recently, the A6500's auto white balance can be a little sticky and doesn't change instantaneously, although it does adapt faster than previous models. There are about a dozen white balance modes, including three custom settings which you can meticulously tweak to the right color temperature and tint.

Battery life on the Sony A6500 is average at best. Although it's rated for 350 shots, we only got through about half an evening of shooting images and a few minutes of 4K footage. You'll need to pick up a few spare batteries, especially if you plan to shoot Ultra HD movies, which drains the camera at a rate of 1% per minute of video.

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600, expandable to 51,200
  • Good quality JPEGs straight from camera
  • 6,000 x 4,000 image size

Sony’s 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor delivers outstanding performance in the A6300, so it’s no surprise that it’s been carried over to the A6500. In terms of image quality, the Sony A6500 is an amazing camera for stills. 

The quality of JPEGs straight out of the camera is very good, with images displaying good levels of sharpness and contrast, while the A6500's DRO system does well to slightly bring up shadow areas, to make images more suitable for immediate use.

As we've seen with the A6300, image noise is generally very well controlled across the sensitivity range when shooting JPEGs, and images are perfectly usable even at higher settings such as ISO6400. We suggest though using the A6500's Low noise reduction setting as the camera's Normal noise reduction setting appears somewhat heavy handed in its approach to high-ISO images.

We used the A6500 with Sony's excellent Sony E 16-70mm f/4 Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* ZA OSS zoom lens and found the level of detail in raw files to be very impressive, while the camera's dynamic range doesn't disappoint either. It's possible to brighten the image a good amount to recover shadow detail without unwanted noise ruining the shot. 

Verdict

We might be able to count the Sony A6500's five new features on one hand, but they add up to a much faster and robust camera than was the A6300. Of course, it would've been nice if these features had debuted in the A6300; however, if you’ve been waiting for an APS-C Sony with nearly the same capabilities as the company’s full-frame A7 Mark II, this is it.

Despite our reservations about the fiddly controls and dense menu system, no other camera does as much as the Sony A6500 does, and while being more affordable to boot. It keeps up surprisingly well with many higher-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras for sports – and if you’re looking to get serious with video, you won’t find a much better option.

Competition

Posted: September 5, 2017, 9:51 am

The outgoing OM-D E-M10 Mark II embodied everything a mirrorless camera should be – a high-quality camera that feels great in the hand, offers an extensive feature set with bags of control and produces great images, yet doesn't take up much space in your bag. 

The new OM-D E-M10 Mark III looks to build on that success, and make itself your indispensable traveling companion. 

Price and availability

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III will be available in body-only and kit options. The former is set go on sale at £629.99/US$650/AU$999, while a kit with the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 II R lens is priced at £649.99 in the UK. 

Potential purchasers looking for something more compact will also have the option of a second kit, which includes the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6 pancake optic and is priced at £699.99/US$800.

Features

  • Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 16MP
  • 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

Like the E-M10 Mark II (and the original E-M10 Mark I for that matter), the OM-D E-M10 Mark III sticks with a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, but gets Olympus' latest TruePic VII image processing engine (used in the brilliant E-M1 Mark II), which Olympus believes will deliver improved low-light shooting performance.

A boost in resolution to 20MP would have been welcome here too, but perhaps Olympus was concerned that it might cannibalize sales further up the OM-D range.

The E-M10 Mark III sports the same highly effective five-axis in-body image stabilization system as the Mark II, which delivers a claimed four stops of compensation to reduce blur and shake in both stills and video. 

The new camera also retains the same 2,360,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that impressed us in the Mark II, along with the same 3.0-inch 1,037,000-dot LCD touchscreen on the back of the camera. 

One notable update is to the E-M10 Mark III's video capabilities, with the new camera able to shoot 4K video footage at up to 30fps, while it's also possible to shoot Full HD footage at 60fps.

Olympus has also overhauled the E-M10 Mark III's camera assist shooting modes. iAuto mode becomes simply Auto, and promises to deliver better blur-free images, while the Scene (SCN) mode has been upgraded.

There's also now a Advanced Photo (AP) mode, allowing photographers to fine-tune images, as well as use the likes of Live Composite and Multiple Exposure without the need to dive into the camera's main menu.

Finally, the E-M10 Mark III's Art Filter (ART) collection grows to 15 with the arrival of a new Bleach Bypass effect. 

Build and handling

  • Revised design and grip
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Weighs 362g

We've always been impressed with the build and finish of the E-M10 range, and the Mark III is no different. Constructed from magnesium alloy, the E-M10 Mark III and has a solid, durable feel that certainly feels much more premium than DSLR rivals like the Canon EOS Rebel T7i (EOS 800D).

The shallow but effective grip on the Mark II has been beefed up, with the enlarged front grip offering a more satisfying hold without sacrificing the E-M10 Mark III's diminutive proportions. 

The E-M10 Mark III maintains the pleasing retro design of the Mark II, but with a few revisions once you look a little closer, most notably to the dials on the top plate. 

The retro-styled power switch carries over from the Mark II – pushing this beyond the power-up position pops up the flash – but the design of the three dials has been refined, with the main mode dial more pronounced.

As before, the shutter release is at the centre of the front-most dial and within easy reach of your index finger, while the rear and mode dials are easy to operate with your thumb. The mode dial doesn't have a lock, but as we've found with the Mark II, it isn't easily knocked out of position in use.

Autofocus

  • 121-point AF
  • Coverage across most of the frame
  • Face Priority AF and Eye Detection AF

The AF performance of the outgoing E-M10 Mark II really impressed us as well, and the system in the E-M10 Mark III appears to be even better.

There's a boost in contrast-detect AF points, from 81 to 121, which combined with the addition of the latest TruePic III image processor should deliver even snappier focusing speeds.

In the brief time we had with the camera we were impressed with the focusing speed, even with relatively poorly-lit subjects. We'll be able to report back in more detail once we've shot for a longer period with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, in particular on how the AF Tracking performs.

Performance

  • 8.6fps burst shooting
  • Mechanical shutter up to 1/4000 sec
  • Electronic shutter up to 1/16,000 sec

As far as burst shooting is concerned, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III gets a very modest speed boost over the Mark II, from 8.5fps to 8.6fps. While that's only a marginal improvement, it's still quicker than the likes of Fujifilm's X-T20 (8fps), and noticeably quicker than either the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D (6fps) or Nikon D5600 (5fps). 

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • +/-3 EV exposure compensation in 1/3 or 1/2-stop increments
  • 15 Art filters

We had the chance to take a few test shots with the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, and its JPEG files look pretty good. 

We'll have to shoot more with the camera to get better idea of how it performs, but JPEG images at ISO400 hold up well. There's perhaps a hint of luminance (grain-like) noise visible at 100%, but nothing untoward, while there's a good level of detail visible in low-to-mid-sensitivity range shots. Noise is controlled well up to around ISO6400, when some areas in JPEGs start to take on a slightly painterly appearance when viewed at 100%.

JPEG image captured at ISO400

JPEG image captured at ISO6400

Early verdict

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not be a massive leap forward over the Mark II, with much of the camera's specification remaining the same, but Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras.

A boost in resolution would have been welcome, but despite this the OM-D E-M10 Mark III should still become a popular choice amongst enthusiasts and new users alike.

Posted: August 31, 2017, 8:00 am
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Major Camera Manufacturer’s News

nikon camera - Google News

Google News


ExtremeTech

Nikon D850 Field-Tested: Possibly the Best DSLR Ever
ExtremeTech
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Nikon had 32 men and 0 women test its new camera | KFOR.com
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CNN

6 of the best travel cameras you can buy now
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Canon's M-i1 Mini Projector Can Beam Your Camera's Photos Wirelessly
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Fuji cameras - Google News

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CNN

6 of the best travel cameras you can buy now
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Fujifilm X Raw Studio to Offload RAW Conversion from CPU to Camera
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Coming Soon: Profoto Air Remote for Fuji Cameras
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Limited Edition Silver Pentax K-1 Announced
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Panasonic launches camera-centric budget smartphones Eluga RAY 500, Eluga RAY 700 in India
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Darren Miles: My Top 5 Favorite Photography Related Websites

 

By: Darren Miles

http://www.DarrenMiles.com – Southwest Florida – Bonita Springs based, Family, Portrait, Wedding and Real Estate Photographer.

Links to the websites mentioned here:

www.PhotographyBlog.com

www,PetaPixel.com

www.Strobist.com

www.ThePhoblographer.com

www.FredMiranda.com

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Canon Camera News

canon cameras - Google News

Google News


Android Central

The Canon Rebel t6i DSLR camera is down to a great low price refurbished
Android Central
Please stop pretending your smartphone photos are awesome just because you tilted the screen and put a sepia filter on them. Step up your photography game with a real camera - a digital SLR. Canon's refurb store regularly has some of the best deals on ...

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Digital Trends

This Canon projector is smaller than a tablet but creates an 84-inch screen
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CNN

6 of the best travel cameras you can buy now
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Canon's M-i1 Mini Projector Can Beam Your Camera's Photos Wirelessly
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cinema5D news

Canon Modular Camera In The Works | cinema5D
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IBC 2017 has seen the announcement of an upcoming Canon modular camera for uses ranging from action cam to professional broadcast.

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Dear Canon, What Happened To Your Innovation?
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Canon Announces 3 New 4K Video Cameras For Documentary, News and Events
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Comparing Canon and Sony Full Frame Cameras That Cost Under $2000
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Photographers now have a number of options for full-frame camera bodies that can be had for less than $2,000, but how do they stack up? This video from The Slanted Lens compares three of them: the Sony a7 II, the Canon 6D Mark II, and a used Canon 5D ...

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Canon Opening a New Camera Factory in Japan Heavy on Automation
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Posted: September 2, 2017, 4:33 pm

 

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