We all knew it was on its way. The question was when. Here's Nikon's press release...
London, UK, 7th January 2014
Nikon today announced that it is preparing for the release of its next-generation flagship model, the Nikon D4S D-SLR camera. The camera, designed for the world’s top photographers, will be exhibited before it is officially released at the Nikon booth at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. International CES is one of the world's largest consumer technology exhibitions and runs from 7th to 10th January 2014.
As Nikon's new flagship model, the D4S will offer significant advances over the Nikon D4 D-SLR camera that include even better image quality through the adoption of a new image-processing engine, and more advanced autofocusing performance.
The Nikon D4S represents a combination of Nikon's advanced camera development technology heritage and years of experience working closely with photographers. Designed to expand the possibilities for professional photographers who require the best possible performance in extreme environments, the Nikon D4S will particularly benefit those in the fields of sports, press, and nature photography.
Nikon began as an optical device manufacturer developing and manufacturing optical lenses. This year marks the 97th anniversary of the company's establishment. Nikon will continue to develop high-performance, highly functional products based on the optical technologies it has cultivated over its long history.
Our order is already in. As soon as we know more, we'll let you know!
Sony entered the action camera market with the AS15 Action Cam. In all honesty, its timing couldn't have been worse as within days GoPro announced the Hero 3 Black Edition that firmly showed Sony the door. It was a shame as in some ways, Sony was onto something. The design lends itself to applications where the GoPro was bulky but it still required a waterproof housing. The AS15 had Sony's superb SteadyShot which undoubtably made a big difference but the fact was, the image quality just couldn't begin to compete with the GoPro. Such a shame. I saw its replacement, the AS30 and my heart sank as in reality it wasn't going to be enough improvement to even justify stocking.
Then last night we learnt of this - the HDR-AS100VR! Whilst it may look the same (albeit it's white), it's a whole new animal.
So let's start with the body first of all. Very simply it's splashproof so unless you're planning on going underwater, you don't need a housing. If you're going underwater, you can still get a housing (shown at the bottom of this blog). If you need to mount the camera sideways or upside down, no worries - you can flip the image accordingly.
On the front of the camera, you'll spot a Zeiss lens - that's a Zeiss Tessar 170 degree wide angle lens. Behind it is a 13.5 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor backed up by the powerful new BIONZ X image processor. All bodes well for what should be good image quality. But it gets better as due to that processor, the ActionCam can record at up to 50 Mbps using the new XAVC S video format (50p). Want to shot faster? It will record 120fps at 720p or 240fps at lower res with full sound.
The ActionCam can be controlled wirelessly with the wrist band Live-View Remote which is supplied with the ActionCam. In fact this unit can now control up to five AS100VR units. Features include stop/start recording, viewing shots and adjustment of modes and settings.
The AS100VR features a new Interval Still recording function that automatically shoots a sequence of still photos at a selectable interval (between 1 and 60 seconds). It will then replay them in sequence.
Interestingly for pro users, the camera features colour profiles so you can choose a neutral image profile for grading later in post. Also this camera features time coding!!! There is a new function called 'User bit' that can record information such as date/time/scene number - useful when using more than one camera.
Connectivity wise, you'll find it now surprise to see NFC and Wifi so connection and remote control from phones and tablets is a given. Have to say that PlayMemories App is not quite as slick as the GoPro App but bear in mind you don't really need it when you've got an LCD on the wrist remote - that's a bit advantage over the GoPro.
We'll be expecting to stock these around March 2014 but hope to get our hands on one to try in the next month or so. You can find out more details about the camera on our detailed page.
Sony have announced today the new AX100E, their smallest 4K camcorder yet, recording in XAVC S format.
Anyone familiar with Sony's smaller camcorders like the NX30 and NX70 will be firmly at home with the AX100E.
Those that follow Sony's 4K history will know that they announced the AX1E (or Z100 for pro users) last year at IBC. Thing was, in all honesty it wasn't really ready to go as it could only record in XAVC (S for the AX1) - AVCHD recording is still yet to come with a firmware update and you're confined to using XQD media which is pretty expensive, certainly compared to SDHC. We were also not hugely impressed with the low light performance but then think back to the good old HD/SD debate some 9 years ago. The FX1 and Z1 were rubbish compared to the good old PD170 simply due to fact you were cramming more pixels into the same space and expecting them to be sensitive enough to overcome their smaller size. Wasn't going to happen.
So is the AX100E any different? Well it uses a new backlight 1 inch Exmor R CMOS sensor which is good news as at least it's starting off with a reasonably sized sensor. It would be interesting to find out if this is related to the one in the RX10 as we know that is already pulling all the info off the sensor and then digitally downsampling to HD (although this one is backlit). The AX100 features the new BIONX X image processing engine - it's this that's allowing that 4K processing power (once again something that the RX10 possesses). So could the RX10 be already capable of filming in 4K? Question for another day!
Back to the AX100E, size wise it's in between the NX30 and NX70 which equates to being some 75% smaller and 66% lighter than the AX1/Z100. So small enough to be reasonably compact but big enough to at least handle.
The BIONZ X processor uses area-specific noise reduction and detail reproduction processes to offer the best possible image in compromised conditions. We know Sony's good at low light performance so it will be interesting to see how this compares to the AX1 (which is disappointing).
Lens wise, there's a newly-developed Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with 12x optical zoom with 11 groups & 17 elements. It features Sony's brilliant Optical SteadyShot. It's good to see Sony's included 3 ND filters built into the camera.
Handling is pretty good with a large lens ring that can be allocated to focus, zoom or exposure. You've still go the side-mounted dial that you can also the assign to things like gain.
Sony's has given the AX100E Dual Video Recording so you can record on XAVC S (at up to 4K/60Mbps or HD/50Mbps) or AVCHD formats whilst at the same time recording a lower resolution MP4 format which can then be transferred wirelessly to a tablet for either review or sharing! Connectivity is provided by WiFi and NFC so you can download to a tablet or use it to remotely view and control the camera.
Audio is handled either internally on the built in 5.1 system or there is a stereo minijack input. You do have the option of attaching balanced XLR inputs via the hotshoe. Media is either SDXC Class 10 or above or Memory Stick PRO Duo (Mk 2) or above.
Sony have mentioned that the camera can capture at a high frame rate at 720p. Still trying to get to the bottom of what that frame rate is - bear with us!
We're still not quite sure whether the camera will be Global or not as Sony's press release spec is rather confusing. As soon as we know, we'll update this.
The camera should be with us in May. Expect Sony's PSE division to come out with a Pro version using the XAVC codec which offers even higher bit rates.
Sony have released some sample footage, shown below -
Fuji have announced today the arrival of the new XF56mm f/1.2R lens. This is going to really appeal to portrait photographers with a 35mm equivalent of 85mm and a very fast max aperture of f/1.2.
Like the XF23mm f/1.4R, the 56mm is constructed from metal (including the aperture and focusing rings) to give a nice quality feel.
Optically the lens features 11 elements in 8 groups to deliver excellent results. Fuji have included their HT-EBC coating to reduce ghosting and flare whilst the seven blade rounded diaphragm ensures a creamy smooth bokeh effect that most will be buying this lens for.
So say hello to Sony's new AVCHD camcorder - the HXR-NX3.
Look familiar? Well it should as visually it's pretty similar to the good old Sony HXR-NX5. We're a great fan of the NX5 as for video journalism it's perfect - good quality and nice and easy to use. The NX3 differs in using AVCHD 2 which allows full 1080 50p recording at 28Mbps. The camera also features Slow & Quick Motion - available without any extra processing - which allows the frame rate to be set between 1fps to 50fps. The three CMOS sensors are all new at 1/2.8inch in size boasting good dynamic range and excellent low light performance.
You've got dual media slots so you can record either in simultaneous or relay modes. Interestingly enough, you can also configure different start/stop buttons for each card slot!!
The lens looks the same as the NX5 but nothing wrong with that - a 20x optical zoom. There's a larger 3.5" LCD display (up from 3.2"). There's a built in LED light - yes, it's not huge but better than nothing, putting out 200 lux at 1m.
You've got Wifi/NFC for remote control from a tablet. It is also supposed to transfer MP4 video to a smartphone via Wifi. Both of these functions are accessed through the Sony PlayMemories app - we've had varied success with different models so will be interesting to test this.
We suspect that this camera will just build on the NX5's demand as a surefooted performer than can cope with most scenarios and provide even the beginner shooter with excellent footage.
We should have the cameras in stock Jan/Feb 2014. Until then, feel free to have a look at Sony's official video, DP'd by our good friend Den Lennie. After that, have a look at the BTS video - some interesting tips for you!
Good news - Canon have finally now sorted the C300 firmware update. It had been made available a couple of weeks ago but there was an issue with colour balance. This has now been sorted and we will now get our models updated.
Details of the update are as follows -
EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera & EOS C300 PL Cinema EOS Camera
1. Fixes a phenomenon where the previous Firmware Version 184.108.40.206.00 offered incorrect colour balance.
2. Ability to move the magnification viewing area around the LCD using the MAGN Function.
3. Support for a 1440x1080/35Mbps recording mode.
4. ISO up to 80,000 has been added.
5. Added functionality to support the optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E1.
6. A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
7. Using the optional Canon WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, the camera's remote-control application allows two users to access the same unit via a Wi-Fi® link providing simultaneous camera operation and control and metadata input simultaneously.
8. [Lens Exchange] and [ND+/ND-] have been added as functions that can be allocated to any assignable button.
9. A new Wide DR Gamma setting provides an expanded dynamic range of 800%.
10. Flicker Reduction has been improved.
EOS C300 Cinema EOS Camera only
11. Provides Push Auto Iris and One-Shot AF operation.
12. A new AE Shift function and the selection of various light-metering modes are now available when used with some Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and Canon EF Lenses.
13. Ability to assign the two control dials to operate either Iris or ISO sensitivity independently.
14. Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven (7) Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and fifteen (15) Canon EF Lenses.
15. A function has been added to enable continuous focus and iris setting on a subject in the middle of the screen when one of the two EF STM lenses** is attached.
**[EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM], [EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM].
Gamma information will not be shown correctly in the metadata of clips filmed on the Wide DR Gamma setting included in Firmware Version 220.127.116.11.00 and above when using the bundled software application Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.1 or earlier. Therefore, we recommend our customers install Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.2. The installer for this application has already been released.
Is it that time of the year already?! Yup, next week we head up to Manchester for the BVE North show. We'll be bringing along some equipment and are obviously on-hand to try and answer any questions we can!
The show runs for two days - Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th November from 9.30 to 18.00 on the Tuesday and 9.30 to 16.30 on the Wednesday.
The Canon C100 has been a very popular camera for us. Why? Because it's got a great sensor, it's really portable and the image quality is superb. You can have a lovely short depth of field shot one moment and next close the lens down, bump up the ISO and treat it like a ENG camera. If you're worried about the AVCHD quality (which is more than good enough for most people), bolt on a Ninja (a lot of our clients do more for ease of workflow). In fact our only real gripe with the camera is the lousy viewfinder but we can offer a Zacuto ZFinder that solves that one!
Up to now, the camera has supported One Touch AF with AF enabled lenses. This is hugely useful when you run out of hands or time to grab a shot. Canon did announce that the C100 would be upgraded to use the STM lenses for full time AF but today they have announced another little surprise - the addition of Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus. We first saw this on the EOS 70D and I'm a real fan of it. Yes we don't need to use AF all the time but sometimes it's really useful (imagine having face tracking when filming bride and groom walking down aisle and still with a short depth of field).
One Touch AF fans will be delighted to hear that the camera's focus speed will double as well!
We'd expect Canon to announce more STM lenses going forwards as they are far quieter for this application but the AF will work with any EF/EF-S lenses.
The only big shame is not having a touchscreen for shifting focus points - this has been incredibly useful on the EOS 70D, just using your finger on the LCD to change the point. It's a really good feature.
We'll be upgrading our C100's as soon as it becomes available and as we're buying more of them early next year, all of them will be suitably equipped.
Below is the official release from Canon -
Canon has announced a major feature upgrade for its EOS C100 digital cinema camera, with the addition of Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus. This technology, first seen in the EOS 70D DSLR, offers continuous autofocusing with all EF and EF-S lenses1 and will be available from Q1 2014.
The EOS C100 is a large sensor video camera designed with the single shooter in mind, already offering functions such as One-shot AF, Push Auto Iris, auto white balance and built-in microphone to aid individual camerawork.
Dual Pixel CMOS AF expands shooting possibilities for lone users by providing smooth, accurate autofocus with a huge range of lenses. For cameramen requiring more precise control the responsiveness of the One-shot AF function has been greatly enhanced through a doubling of the camera's focus speed.
The upgrade, an extra-cost option, utilises the existing Super35mm sensor in the EOS C100. It will be implemented at Canon Regional Competence Centres and is expected to be available in Q1 2014.
WHAT IS DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF?
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is a sensor-based, phase detection autofocus (AF) technology designed to provide smooth, high-performance continuous focus in movies.
It is a unique, Canon-developed technology, ideal for fast and accurate autofocus, helping filmmakers to create stunning footage which maximises the creative options offered by fast lenses and shallow depth-of-field.
First seen in the EOS 70D DSLR, this groundbreaking advance has now been adapted to fit the capabilities of the EOS C100 and optimised for video shooting, providing fast, natural focussing in a familiar visual style. Capturing a subject and retaining sharp focus, even when moving, has never been easier.
DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF COMPATIBILITY WITH EF LENSES
Dual Pixel CMOS AF provides continuous autofocus with any EF lens1, spanning EF and EF-S, fixed focal length, wide-angle and telephoto lenses. One-shot AF operation is supported by 104 different EF lenses. The system marks a significant advancement with greatly improved AF speeds.
EVOLVING GROUNDBREAKING TECHNOLOGY
With the ability to make a subject stand out with a limited depth-of-field, comes a requirement to keep control over focus if the main subject moves or the point of focus changes. Dual Pixel CMOS AF was developed so that control of focus during moviemaking is made easier and smoother.
Although Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology was not fully developed when the EOS C100 started shipping, it was identified as an opportunity to offer users enhanced functionality and added value at a later date. Canon has since developed the supporting technology to provide the benefits of Dual Pixel CMOS AF in a large sensor camcorder.
EOS C100: A LARGE SENSOR CAMCORDER
Launched in 2012, the compact C100 features a specification designed around the needs of single operators. Its advanced imaging system utilises the widely used AVCHD codec, with a 35mm CMOS sensor capturing 8 megapixel resolution to provide 1920x1080 (Full HD) resolution video. Recording on SD cards1 at up to 24Mbps with 4:2:0 colour sampling, the C100 delivers sharp, vivid, professional-quality video. An uncompressed signal can also be output directly to external recorders via an integrated HDMI terminal, complete with embedded timecode data.
KEY FEATURES OF DUAL PIXEL CMOS AF IN THE C100
Continuous AF with all EF and EF-S lenses
Improved One Shot AF – now twice as fast and compatible with 104 EF lenses
AF LOCK function allows user to change the framing
So here is Nikon’s new SLR.
We’ve been teased over the last couple of weeks as to what it might be
so, what is it exactly?
It takes only a millisecond to see where Nikon is aiming
this camera – with a design going back to the look of classics like the F3,
it’s bound to pull on the heart strings of older Nikon users that just want a
decent old fashioned camera, without the frills, but with the image quality.
The top of the camera is covered with an array of knobs for shutter speed, ISO and exposure control and a very small digital display - it's old school.
The good news is that the 16.2mp sensor is taken from the
D4. It’s coupled with an EXPEED 3 image
sensor giving a native ISO range of 100-12,800 that can be expanded to an ISO
equivalent of 50-200,800.
The new shutter unit is capable of shooting at up to 1/4000th
sec. The Df is able to shoot
continuously at 5.5fps. The AF unit is taken from the D610 and is a 39-point
system. That’s a shame as it’s not as
good as the D800’s 51-point system.
The viewfinder is the same as in the D800 and D4 providing
100% coverage and 0.7x magnification and on the back you’ve got a decent 3.2in
Build quality is something you’d expect with the Df and
magnesium alloy has been used for a fair amount of its construction – the body
has the same level of dust and moisture resistance as the D800.
Two things apart from the design show where this camera is
aimed. Firstly there’s no video function
at all. I do get lots of older Nikon
shooters (most retired photographers) that have a go at me at shows for Nikon
not having a non-video camera. So here
you go – Nikon has answered your prayers – one less thing for people to
complain to me about!!!
The second point is the Df’s ability to use a collapsible
metering coupling lever which means you can attach non-AI older lenses. So in Manual or Aperture Priority modes, this
enables full-aperture metering. Clearly
manual focusing is going to be an issue and Nikon have allowed the focus point
illumination to be turned off in the viewfinder. Not only that, Nikon claim to offer an
improved Live View display (though quite how it can improved beyond magnifying
the view shall be interesting to see).
Peaking would have been nice.
So it’s small and lightweight for a D-SLR which is great
news. The design will appeal to a great
many people. There will be little to
fault with the build quality and we already know what great IQ the D4 has so no
BUT (and it’s a big but) I see literally thousands of photographers around the country each year and if I’d actually had a pound for
every single person that has complained to me (mostly D700 users) that Nikon
have ignored their plea to introduce a true successor to the D700, I’d be
writing this somewhere very hot and sunny on a beach. Why oh why, if Nikon’s going to build new
models out of its existing technology, can’t they just put that D4 sensor in
the D800 body and charge a realistic price for it? People have ageing D700’s that need replacing! And that's before we get to those waiting for a true D300s replacement.
Retro is cool no doubt but at least the likes of Fuji and
Olympus have pushed the boundaries with new technology and produced stunning
cameras in their own rights, regardless of how they look. I can't help feeling that Nikon's too late with this (and also is somewhat ambitious with its pricing).
I wish them all the luck in the world with this camera but
I can’t help but feel there will be a fair number of Nikon photographers
who will be just shaking their head.
Foolishly I’d hoped that there would be significant advances
here. Most bizarrely it seems that it’s
down the likes of Sony and Fuji to push new barriers. Nikon still have a gaping hole in its range
for their pros. Whilst Canon have possibly the best DSLR range they have ever had, let’s hope they now take the opportunity to show us something forward thinking.
Where has the year gone?! The clocks have gone back and Christmas is only around the corner. Last year we were told off for not posting up our Christmas offer early enough so we've hopefully done better this year!
Unlike last year, we're clearly explaining right from the start how the offer will work. Regardless of what price you pay, we plan to deliver our Christmas hires on Wednesday 19th December. Clearly we don't know what the weather has in store but we will aim to get the equipment out as soon as we can that week.
Collection will be Thursday 2nd January 2014 for all bookings (unless you have extended your hire).
So how does the charging work? It's simple - the later you book, the cheaper the hire will get BUT if you are after a specific camera, lens or accessory, you run the risk of it being booked out! Rather than customers working by guesswork, these are the dates when it all changes -
Any bookings made up to the end of Saturday 30th November - the charge will be equivalent to a one week hire.
Bookings made from Sunday 1st December until the end of Sunday 8th December - the charge will be equivalent to a weekend's hire.
Bookings made from Monday 9th December onwards - the charge will be equivalent to a day's hire charge.
Last year our warehouse was completely empty and we would expect this year to be no different. All we would suggest is if you are after something specific and perhaps in high demand, don't leave it too long (and before you ask, all Sony a7/a7r's have already been booked!!!).
*Standard courier charges apply and insurance will charged for the full length of hire. Please note that this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or special Club/Organisation discount.
All bookings will be treated on a first come, first served basis. Please note that making an enquiry, either by email or phone, or submitting an availability request does not constitute booking the equipment.
As with last year, we are staying open late for both the Monday and Tuesday in the last run up to Christmas. Our last day of dispatch is Thursday 19th December. Please bear in mind that in the event of adverse conditions, we may have to move this earlier. If we do, we will also move our late nights earlier to give people the chance to ensure they can get their bookings through in time.
Our usual opening times are from Monday to Friday : 8.00am to 6.00pm.
We know only too well how hard it is to sometimes think of Christmas presents. Well we've come to rescue - give them a Hireacamera Gift Voucher.
Yes we know it's still October (just) and Christmas for a lot of us is still a while away but it's always good to be prepared!
We can offer you vouchers of any size you want (we did have some quite amusing amount requests last year). All you need do is give us a call with your details and we'll do the rest!
Better still, if you buy the gift vouchers during November, as part of our 10th anniversary celebrations, we'll add in a small present of our own - we'll give you 5% off! So if you purchase a £100 voucher, you'll pay only £95!
It’s easy with all of the massive coverage of the new Sony
a7/a7r to overlook Sony’s other release but in some ways I think the new Sony
RX10 could be at least, if not more, significant.
We get lots of customers wanting a dual purpose camera that
does pretty much everything and it’s not just for personal use. Businesses are no different in their needs
and much like everyone else, they have a limit to their expenditure and just how much kit they want to carry.
So what if you do want something that does everything? Surely there are compromises? Of course there are. Let’s stick around the £1,500 mark for
expenditure. What does that buy you?
On the camcorder side, I’d recommend the Sony NX30. I know of several very well known filmmakers
that have bought these little beauties.
Why? Because they are so great
for simple pieces to camera. The
Steadyshot lets you get away with murder, the Exmor chip punches beyond what
you’d expect for its size, you’ve got XLR balanced connections and it’s even
got a projector for reviewing footage (and it’s not a gimmick – I’ve used it in
several hotel rooms!).
But if we had to take some serious still images with it, the
honest answer is it doesn’t really cut the mustard. Yes it will shoot stills at same time as
video and yes, you can shoot with a resolution as high as 24.1 megapixels. But the reality is it is a pain for trying to
shoot decent stills.
So let’s look at things from a camera point of view. The best option I’ve tried recently is the
Canon 70D – I took one with me to IBC recently as I needed something to record
videos on new products for our internal training but I also needed a decent
camera for shooting stills to then transfer up to the web for customers to see
I’ll be honest, it was a superb solution and my opinion of
the camera was very much transformed. I
was doing solo pieces to camera on a small tripod so having a reversible screen
made it easy to frame up. I left the
focus on AF with face tracking and not once did it miss a beat. The stills were as you’d expect from a Canon DSLR. The great thing was being to immediately pull
them over to my iPhone via WiFi for posting up on the web.
Were there any issues?
The 70D is not great at shooting video in low light and like many DSLRs
it does suffer from moire and aliasing so you need to just bear in mind what
you’re shooting (and to an extent what you’re wearing!).
But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something that was
really dual purpose – that combined the best qualities of these two cameras in
one package? Well I do think that
perhaps the new Sony RX10 is just that.
It looks like any other bridge camera so nothing to exciting
there. But when you start to look
further into it, you discover something way more exciting. The sensor is the same 1” CMOS sensor found
in the RX100 with a powerful BIONZ X processor backing it up. You’d expect a reasonable zoom range on the
lens and you’d be right – it’s an impressive 24-400mm (35mm equiv) focal
length. What you wouldn’t be expecting
is that it’s got a constant aperture of f/2.8 and is actually a Carl Zeiss T*
coated lens!!! That’s hugely significant
because typically with lenses of this ilk would be sporting apertures of around
So surely with a lens like that, it’s not what you’d call
small. Well, true, it’s not as compact
as most mirrorless cameras but it’s comparable to one of the smaller DSLR’s
with a kit lens. It’s worth mentioning
now that the camera is moisture and dust resistant as well.
Looking first at the photo side of things, it really is
incredibly easy to use. The Sony RX100
is one of our favourite pocket cameras as that image chipset packs a huge punch
and the RX10 doesn’t disappoint. I
first got my hands on one whilst sitting at the back of an auditorium watching
Philip Bloom giving a presentation in what can only be described as appalling
light. Yes I had to bump up the ISO but
with Optical Steadyshot and that excellent lens, I was astonished with what I got away with
(please read this in perspective – this is only a 1” chip so don’t go expecting
full frame sensor levels of low light performance). I then took the camera outside and snapped
away – what impressed me was how easy it is to use. You’ve got an iris ring on the lens barrel
and the rear dial adjusts shutter speed.
Turning the menu dial adjusts ISO.
If you want to shoot in Priority mode, you’ve got exposure compensation
right on top of the camera. Zooming in
and out can either be done with the zoom ring or by the servo button by the
The OLED Tru-Finder is great to use. You can control the amount of info you want
to see in it which is nice. It’s not
quite as big as the a7 one but I suspect that was to try and keep the housing
size down. The LCD tilts up and down and
is pretty good, even in bright light.
Thing is with such a good viewfinder, I found myself rarely using the
Those that dread Sony’s NEX menus (they are an acquired
taste) will be delighted to hear the RX10 uses Sony’s Pro menu system. If you’re used to Canon menus, you’ll be
right at home. There’s also a quick menu
which gives you access to the most used options instantly. And it gets better, the button layout is
hugely configurable. You can select
nearly any function (I understand it’s about 40 – the list was quite long!) to
one of 6 buttons. Want expanded focus or
peaking? Not a problem.
So we’ve established that it shoots great stills. But it gets better as the RX10’s trick card
is just about to be dealt – shooting movie.
So let’s first talk about the connections here. The camera’s got two 3.5mm jack connections –
one for a stereo microphone and one for headphone monitoring. It’s also got a Micro-HDMI port that supports
uncompressed clean HDMI! Finally you’ve
got Sony’s hotshoe assembly that they introduced first on the a99 and
VG900. This means you can attach an XLR
adaptor to the camera giving you two balanced inputs.
From an operational point of view, Sony have really thought
about using this camera. Turn the camera
upside down and you’ll find an option to de-click the aperture!! Yup, that gives you smooth noise-free
adjustment of the aperture ring during filming.
Focusing wise, you can choose to use AF or MF. The AF is pretty good and the face tracking
works really well. It’s worth just
mentioning at this juncture that the RX10 uses just contrast detection and
doesn’t have the phase/contrast on-sensor combo of something like the Canon 70D. But because it’s a smaller sensor, the AF’s
not working as hard and to be honest, I thought it was pretty quick (just not
as quick as the a7 I’d just put down which is FAST). Manual control is okay – just bear in mind
that there is no direct connection between the control ring and the lens. You’ve got adjustable peaking and expanded
focus to help you out (and they work during recording as well).
One addition I wasn’t expecting was the ND filter
option. You can either assign it to a
customized button or it’s one click away in the Function menu. Both Kanta from Sony’s Pro Team and I were
trying to figure out how this worked. I
can only assume it electronically reduces the sensitivity of the sensor as we
couldn’t see any physical action switching between it. However it does it, it
really does work. We were testing on an
unusually bright day outside the bright white building at Pinewood Studios and
having just put down an a7 that was screaming out for a variable ND to put on
the front, the RX10 really showed off its ‘solution in a box’ credentials.
So all good but it doesn’t stop there as there is something
very significant that I didn’t actually realize until Kanta explained to
me. Very simply, the camera doesn’t skip
lines when processing the video off the sensor.
It actually uses the entire pixel array for each frame (up to 60 times a
second) and then sub samples the raw image data digitally to produce the final
HD 1920x1080 video. So in theory there
should be a massive reduction in moiré compared to normal large sensor still
cameras. As far as I know, this is the first camera to do this. It's not a case of manufacturers not knowing how to do it, merely a case of processors not having been quick enough before to cope. The camera was only a
prototype so I have to take the footage as only being an indication of what it will be in
the full production camera but I thought it was hugely impressive.
Frame rates, it supports 24/25/30/50/60p rates recording on
AVCHD up to 28mbps to SD cards.
Whilst some may see it as a gimmick, I love the Wifi/NFC connectivity. Using Sony's PlayMemories App, you can not only transfer photos to your camera for sharing but you can also remotely control the camera (start/stop & zoom) and use your phone as a monitor - useful for one man shooting and framing.
So where’s the catch?
Well clearly the sensor isn’t going to be as good in low light as larger
sensor cameras – that much was clear when we compared the a7 to the RX10 when
shooting Phil at the back of the auditorium – there was a significant
difference. The XLR connection can be a
bit of a pain – you need to use a bracket.
If you use Sony’s, it stops you tilting the LCD. It’s all small things but at least we CAN put
XLR connections on the camera. There’s
still nothing stopping you just putting a Rode mic on top anyway! Whilst we're on the subject of sound, I do need to point out that you've got audio monitoring on the camera and you can adjust the audio even whilst you're recording!
I’m not a huge fan of fly-by-wire manual focusing but I
accept that you have to draw the line somewhere in such a complete
solution. We also found that the servo
zoom significantly slows down when recording – I assume that’s to keep it
Lastly you’re stuck with that lens which might be a bit
restrictive for real shooters. Fine, use
a D-SLR then. For me, having a built in
f/2.8 with a 24-400mm equiv lens, makes this camera so unique. Okay, I accept that it’s effectively an
equivalent aperture of about f/7.6 but it let’s in a damn site more light than
anything else out there.
So who’s going to use this?
I can see huge potential for this camera. Our corporate clients will absolutely love it
as they’ve got a one stop solution that’s incredibly easy to use and cost
effective with it. I suspect our stock
will be well travelled – we support a huge number of charity trips to the far
corners of the earth where dual purpose equipment is favourable.
The great news for everyone is that Sony has really pushed
things on and I know they are not stopping there – there are plenty more ideas!
We should have the cameras end of November with a full range
of accessories to support them.
The strangest thing happened to me today –
I came away genuinely excited from playing with some new Sony products. I am one of their greatest fans but I am also
one of their harshest critics (as certain members of both the Professional and
Consumer teams will happily testify to!).
So often in the past I’ve eagerly awaited a
new model’s arrival only to be hugely disappointed after getting my hands on
it. The Sony a99 was supposed to be one
of those cameras yet despite it still being a very impressive stills camera (we
have one at home and are very happy with it), for something pertaining to be
biased towards movie making, it was a disappointment. Yes it had some great features never before seen on an SLR sized camera BUT it omitted some essentials that should have been there and would have completed it. Once again, it was a case of ‘if only’.
If I am truthful, I could sense the
frustration because the fact was, Sony had the knowledge to produce something
far better – the question remained as to when, if ever, we were going to see
One thing that was going to cause issues - however great an Alpha camera became, it still had an Alpha mount. The simple fact is not many a shooter has
Alpha/Minolta lenses or at least if they do, they are in a small minority. This was where Sony’s E-Mount really made
huge sense and when the Sony VG900 was finally launched, that had confirmed
what we all needed to know – the E-Mount could contain a full frame 35mm
sensor. That same E-Mount with adaptors
could take nearly any lens mount.
From then onwards, it was just to be a
waiting game – how long before Sony would come out with something and more
importantly, would it be any good or just another frustratingly lost
By the time most people had woken up to the
news of the Sony a7/a7r, I’d already committed to buying them. Once again, I’d decided to part with some
quite serious money completely blind (I’d also ordered a suitable stock of
lenses and accessories as well) and so I had more than just a vested interest
in getting my hands on them!
Today I did just that and I’ll cut to the
chase, I have no wish to cancel my order at all. We’ve all now read reviews, watched Youtube
videos and already feel we know the cameras without even seeing them in the
flesh. But still there’s nothing like
actually getting your hands on something! This wasn't so much a technical test - more like getting a feel for the camera and giving some feedback to Sony.
So what’s so good? Well if you’re a movie shooter, you’re going
to be happy to hear that for the first time ever, all the functions operate
independently of each other. That means
if you want to shoot manually but still have push to touch AF, you can – no
longer is it a case of either fully auto or fully manual. The custom keys are infinitely configurable and
allow you to add things like peaking (in a range of colours and intensity),
zebra and expanded focus (that also works whilst you’re recording). You can configure the LCD screen to what you
want to display but now it includes a histogram in video mode along with real
time audio monitoring (and again, you can adjust whilst recording). I should mention that you can also attach balanced XLR inputs via the hotshoe.
So what’s it like to handle? Well, first let’s get the bad news over and
done with. The start-stop button is not
really well sited. You need a third
joint in your right thumb to really press it without causing some shake – it’s
a shame but I did find myself getting more used to it. The customizable buttons work well and I found
pretty quickly I could use them by touch with my eye up against the OLED
viewfinder. Ideally I'd have liked a bigger eyecup but it's workable. Ah yes, that viewfinder - it
works very nicely indeed. Sony produces some of the very best OLED screens and this one is no exception - everything you see on the LCD is replicated in the
viewfinder, great for days like today when it was just too bright to see the screen at times.
Those who despise the NEX menu system will
be delighted to find the Alpha pro system. Everything’s pretty explanatory and there’s a
function button to take you quickly to the most used functions. Because you can use this and the custom keys, it's rare you have to enter the menu.
I used the a7r first with the Zeiss 50mm
prime. I’ll be honest, for manually
focusing it’s not great – as the focus ring is not directly connected, it can
be a little hit and miss pulling focus.
I doubt this will be a huge concern for most movie shooters as they won’t be using
these lenses anyway – they’re more than likely to use existing glass with
adaptors. (One quick note – if you’ve
already got an EF Metabones adaptor, unless it’s a newer Mk3 version, you’ll
have problems with vignetting - IS works fine though.) You have
got AF there if you want it. On the a7r,
it’s acceptable – I wouldn’t call it dramatically fast but it’s not that
bad at all - comparable with the Canon 70D. Like that camera the a7/r come with face
tracking which worked well on video.
So the question on everyone’s mind – what
was the footage quality like? Well I
only had the cameras for a brief play and whilst I was allowed to keep the footage,
it’s still a pre-production camera.
However, considering the pixel count and lack of low-pass filter, I was
pleasantly surprised. Yes, it did have slight issues with some fabric shots but then that’s to be expected, surely? We expected the a7 to be better (more of
which in a bit).
Codec wise, it’s a global camera so you’ve
got AVCHD 24/25/30/50/60p all recording onto SD card. It’s also got a clean HDMI output (although
it is micro-HDMI which is a bit fiddly – we’re going to have to find a fixing
solution before customers break them!). You also got separate jack connections for mic and headphones.
Onto stills with the a7r and just wow! Comparisons have been made with the Nikon
D800 and judging by what I’ve got on my Mac, that’s not completely unfair. Whilst I have access to RAW files, only
Sony’s Digital Image Converter will handle them which is a shame as it’s not
the greatest bit of software. Colours were nicely represented and the detail is definitely
there in the shadows and highlights – it’s just such a pain to do anything in
DIC. Hopefully Adobe will have support
for it soon enough.
Focusing on stills with the a7r (excuse the pun), you
haven’t got the phase detection you have with the a7 and it is slower but it’s
not THAT slow. Also it doesn’t have that
contrast detection tendency to hunt – it just goes straight to the point of
If I were being picky, I would say the
shutter mechanism is just a weeny bit too loud – did it really need to be like
that? Wedding photographers will find it
a pain – certainly people will be aware of you taking shots where and when you
Low light tests were really brief due to
time available so I’m not going to comment except to say that some indoor shots
we did with the a7r came out better than I expected when compared to the RX1
and I am sure that the production version will improve on that further as they refine the noise levels.
Onto the a7. Stills wise, first thing you notice is the
speed of focus – it’s really quite quick.
SLR quick? Well I wouldn’t like
to say but it’s pretty good and I'd say as fast as a low end full frame DSLR like a D600. I don’t
think a 1DX is really going to start sweating yet but it’s way better than I
thought it was going to be (rather used to my laborious focusing speeds on my
RX1!), especially considering the size of the sensor. Stills image quality is actually very
comparable to the RX1, which is not really much of a surprise as it uses the
same sensor (although updated and using different algorithms).
So onto video. Well it's a bizarre one. On the footage I had, the fabric shot was fine but the chairs didn't hold up as well as the a7r. But surely it's better? [EDIT I managed to get my hands on another couple of cameras and a7r seems better - surely this must be a pre-production firmware issue??] I hope that they have fixed it and we’ll find
out soon enough. Looking at the footage,
it does seem a tiny bit soft but again I didn’t have time to play around with
the profiles other than to leave them flat. [EDIT - okay I know why it was soft - that lens was not focusing on AF sharply]. Both of them show slight aliasing which is a shame and amazingly it's the a7 that's the worst - once again the 5D MkIII beats them.
So what have I learnt about the a7/a7r
today? Even my brief play with them has
made me smile. All of the operational
issues have been resolved – Sony has really listened and come up with the
goods. Stills image quality is
definitely up there with the best but then as someone that uses an RX1 on a
regular basis, I never expected anything else. I can’t wait to get my Summicron’s on the
a7r. When Fuji replace their X-Pro 1, it's going to need to be very special indeed.
Lens wise, there are two primes and two zooms worth considering at launch but Sony will build on this and we know that Zeiss will be bringing out their own offerings in addition to those produced by Sony with their name (full frame Touit anyone?). As we've said, you're not just limited to E Mount unless you want AF (interestingly we quickly tested an EF lens fitted with a Metabones Mk III adaptor - AF does work but it's quite a lot slower).
The big question is over the quality of the
movie footage and on first look, it’s certainly an improvement. Is it good enough? I do
really hope it is. I’ll leave someone far better qualified than
me to make that call once they’ve used them extensively (I’m sure you can guess
who that might be). Today wasn’t a
technical challenge – it was getting a feeling for the cameras. The honest truth is that even if the movie footage isn't groundbreaking, as stills cameras both the a7 and a7r are very impressive indeed and we shouldn't forget that these are primarily stills cameras. It would just be nice to have the icing on the cake!!
I have to say I think both models are reasonably priced. It’s great for us as we
can pass that onto our hire customers and we’ll be shortly getting them up on
our website. We should have them in
stock for the end of November but considering the number of enquiries we have
already had, it may be 2014 before most get their hands on one to play with!
One quick note – if you are thinking of
buying one, please do consider buying a battery grip. Even on my brief play, I got through battery
power pretty rapidly!!
I haven’t mentioned the RX10 here. I’ll do a separate post on that as if
anything, that was the real surprise of the day and needs explaining further.
We love the Canon EOS-1D X. Sure, it's overkill for most people and the Canon 5D Mk III will do a pretty fine job for most applications but you have to be impressed with the 1D X. It's ability to deal with rapid fire applications is astonishing.
Interestingly Canon have released details of an upcoming firmware upgrade saying that 'the features provided by firmware Ver 2.0 are designed for more efficient automation that takes the task of changing settings from the 'heat of the moment' and enables photographers to concentrate on creativity and more efficient operation.'
Full details from Canon are shown below -
EOS-1D X Firmware Version 2.0
Firmware Version 2.0 incorporates the following key functional enhancements:
Improvement of AF accuracy in low light with AI Servo
The new firmware further refines the AF sequence in order to improve autofocus performance in low light. The AI Servo focusing algorithm has been improved to allow more time for light sampling during AF activation prior to shutter release, enhancing AF performance in low-light situations. This is due to the initial AF control being based on the new “+2 focus priority” setting in AI Servo 2nd Image Priority, which has better measurement capabilities under low-light conditions. Upon full depression of the shutter button, settings from AI Servo 1st Image Priority take over and then settings from AI Servo 2nd Image Priority are applied on any subsequent images in the burst. This increases AF performance in low light while ensuring the probability that the first image in a burst sequence will be as sharp as possible.
Expanded AF parameters
To improve tracking performance, additional parameters for acceleration/deceleration tracking in AI Servo AF have been added to provide photographers with more precise control when photographing rapidly moving subjects that may quickly or suddenly accelerate or decelerate. In response to feedback from professional photographers, two new settings have been added to handle slower changes in speed compared to the previous firmware. Currently, the AF parameters are -1 / 0 / +1. The new firmware enables the parameters to be increased to -2 / -1 / 0 / +1 / +2. This is a feature that sports photographers in particular will find useful, when shooting over a long distance or where obstacles such as football players cut across in front of the main subject during tracking.
Improvement in exposure control
A new feature that utilizes the EOS-1D X’s wide ISO range. The new firmware enables greater exposure control when using Auto ISO. Photographers can set aperture and shutter speeds as desired and still achieve the correct exposure when the light conditions change whilst retaining creative control. In response to user feedback, Canon has increase the minimum shutter speed option of Auto ISO to enables photographers to freeze moving subjects by now being able to select a minimum shutter speed as high as 1/8000th of a second. Exposure Compensation can now be used with Auto ISO in manual exposure to adjust the exposure for challenging lighting conditions (e.g. a very dark or very bright background). This new function can be activated through the Quick Control Dial or by using the Main Dial while pressing the SET button.
Increased customisable options
Faster control is the goal of firmware Version 2.0 by increasing the number of customisable features. It is now possible to assign the ‘One Shot/AI Servo’ setting to M.Fn2 button, for example. This new customisation enables a combination of selectable settings to be assigned to the AE Lock and AF-ON buttons via Custom Controls include: Currently selected AF point vs. pre-registered AF point, AI Servo AF configuration sets (Case 1 through Case 6), One-Shot AF vs. AI Servo AF and Currently selected drive mode vs. 14fps Super High Speed drive mode. With these new options, photographers can reconfigure their EOS-1D X camera on the fly, while keeping their eye on the viewfinder to maintain concentration. For example, the camera could be set up for One-Shot AF and single shot drive mode on the shutter button, AI Servo AF in Case 1 with high-speed continuous drive mode on the AE Lock button, and AI Servo AF in Case 4 with super-high-speed 14fps continuous drive mode on the AF-ON button.
EOS-1D X Firmware Version 2.0 is available to download from January 2014. Firmware Version 2.0 is for cameras with firmware version 1.2.4 or earlier.
Another week and another show! This time it doesn't involve a huge trip as it's just up the road at Brands Hatch Race Circuit in Kent. We'll be there with some sample kit and would love to see you for a chat! Registration's free - click on the image above to go to the Photovision website.
It's no secret that I'm huge fans of both the Sony RX100 and RX1. The RX100 is everything you'd want a compact to be with its excellent 1in sensor. I know of many pro photographers that have one in their arsenal for pleasure and also as backup. The RX1 produces just stunning results and is the first Sony camera for a while that our regular customers haven't wanted to hand back!
Sony have decided to expand the RX range further with the introduction of the RX10 premium bridge camera. Bridge cameras have always had a bit of bad image for real enthusiasts as they have always been a bit of a compromise with a mediocre long zoom lens and small sensor - the upshot being that unless the light was great, the performance was less than ideal.
The RX10 is somewhat different. First off, it's got the same 1" 20.2 megapixel sensor as the RX100. That's a great place to start as I've used the RX100 in plenty of low light situations and it never ceases to please. Next off is the lens - it's quite special. Sony have fitted a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm (35mm equiv) zoom lens with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8!! Better still it also incorporates Optical Steadyshot. So finally we really do have an great option for those wanting an all-round performer without the need to carry numerous lenses (I can see this being very popular on safari).
AF is said to be speedy and responsive, thanks to a new Direct Drive SSM mechanism. Lock-on AF accurately tracks moving subjects, even it is disappears momentarily behind something in the foreground and then reappears. There's a choice of three selectable sizes for the spot AF frame. This can cut the risk of accidental focus errors with very small subjects (you do have a macro option available).
To view your subjects, Sony have incorporated a new high-contrast OLED Tru-Finder offering a wide (33 degrees) viewing angle. The 3" White Magic LCD tilts up and down allowing you to hold the camera high or low.
The RX10 features on-board WiFi and NFC connections, allowing easy transfer of footage or remote control from your smartphone or tablet.
Finally let's cover the movie side of things. Footage can be shot in 25p/50p in AVCHD with full control in manual mode. Sony offer a clean HDMI out feed allowing footage to be recorded on an external recorder like the Atomos Ninja 2. We have still to find out whether Sony have finally included an expanded focus in movie mode or a histogram. As soon as we get our hands on one, we'll let you know! There are jack connections for audio and headphones and you'll be pleased to see you've got an audio level meter and adjustable levels. Additionally you can add the XLR-K1M adapter kit to give you pro-quality sound recording with two balanced XLR connections.
Now we've had the new Sony a7/a7r Full Frame Mirrorless camera announced, it seems fair to expect some new lenses to use with them! Well, this morning 5 new lenses were announced, 3 from Zeiss and 2 from Sony.
Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS
So this is quite exciting as this is Zeiss' ever full frame E-mount zoom lens. The 24-70mm focal range has to be one of the most popular with 35mm shooters as it lends itself ideal for everyday shooting whether it's portraits or landscapes you're after. The lens features Optical Steadyshot giving you assistance at slow shutter speeds.
The lens design features five aspherical elements with one ED glass element. The T* coating cuts glare and internal reflections to boost contrast.
Finally the lens is resistant to dust and moisture.
Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA
So to the first of the primes, this is an obvious choice for portraiture and low-light shooting, offering a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture. This also should produce a lovely bokeh.
The lens contains a 9 blade circular aperture and like the other full frame lenses, is dust and moisture resistant. The T* surface coating is used to ensure glare and internal reflections are cut to a minimum.
Sonnar T* FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
The second of the Zeiss primes offers the popular focal length of 35mm. As this was designed primarily for street photographers, it was made small and light (weighing only 120g). As with the other full frame E-mount lenses, it features the T* coating to cut down on glare and is dust and moisture resistant.
FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS
This is expected to be the 'kit' lens offered with the a7 if you don't buy it body only. The good news is that it features Optical SteadyShot. You might need it as the maximum aperture ranges from f/3.5 to 5.6. Again it's dust and moisture resistant. Unlike the other lenses, we have no plans to stock this lens for hire as we suspect that everyone will want the Zeiss 24-70mm in preference!
FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS
This is a really interesting lens as this is the first really premium mirrorless telephoto zoom. The lens has been designed to be used with the Sony a7/a7r for sports and wildlife applications and offers a maximum f/4 aperture throughout the focal range. You've also got Optical Steadyshot to help you out as well.
The optical design features Advanced Aspherical elements, Super ED and ED glass elements and Sony's Nano AR Coating is designed to reduce flare and ghosting.
Design wise, it looks like someone's shrunk a full size 70-200mm as it features barrel-mounted buttons for focus hold, focus range and panning modes. And of course it has monopod mounting as well.
All of these lenses will be appearing around early December and we'll look to stocking them as soon as we can (with the exception of the 28-70mm).