Friday, 20 February 2015

More creative potential with Wifi

The camera makers are fighting a battle against smart phones: People want to be able to share their pictures on social media, and this is very easy with the smart phone camera.

To increase the connectivity of cameras, Wifi has become a must have feature. And it does make it more easy to share your pictures with a connected device.

But Wifi also allows you to remotely control the camera, which is a very cool feature. Here is an example where I used it to take close up pictures of birds.

I used the Lumix GH4 with the Samyang 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens (click for my reviews).

To avoid getting dirt on the camera, I covered it with a transparent plastic bag:

I then placed it on the ground near some pigeons, and threw some bread crumbs in front of the lens to attract them. When using the smart phone app, you can see what the camera sees, and can remote control the shutter. It looks like this on the phone:

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Product news

We've had the CP+ trade show in Yokohama, and the major camera brands have been showing their new stuff. Here is a short summary of mirrorless camera news.


The big news from Olympus is the new OM-D E-M5 II. It looks a lot like the the predecessor, but has some improvements to the ergonomics, including a fully articulated touch LCD screen.

The new feature which is going to sell the camera, though, is the new sensor shift high resolution mode. It works by taking eight consecutive images, while offsetting the sensor. First, four exposures offset by one pixel in the two directions, designed to overcome the limitations of the Bayer sensor.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Mirrorless camera statistics from Japan

BCN ranking is a source for Japanese camera sales statistics. Looking at historic statistics from BCN, I have compiled this chart of the market shares of mirrorless cameras.

For the years 2009-2011, it is based on the 20 most selling camera models in Japan, including DSLR cameras. For 2012-2013, it is based on the 20 most selling mirrorless cameras. For 2014, it is, apparently, based on all mirrorless camera models. I skipped 2008, since it only contains one single mirrorless camera, the Lumix G1, giving a 100% Panasonic market share.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

New firmware for Lumix 35-100mm

Panasonic recently announced a new firmware for the Lumix X 35-100mm f/2.8 pro grade tele zoom lens (my review). Click here to download the firmware version 1.2.

Here is the lens mounted to the Lumix GH4:

So what exactly does this firmware update do? If you follow online forums, you will see some few, but quite vocal, people complain about "micro jitters" when recording video using this lens. Based on the press release explanation from Panasonic, it might appear that the firmware addresses this issue:

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Samyang 12mm f/2 review: Compact, inexpensive and well performing

Samyang is a third party manufacturer which tries to fill the gaps in system camera lineups with manual focus lenses. One common gap is affordable wide angle prime lenses, which they have filled with lenses like Rokinon 10mm f/2.8 and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8. What these lenses have in common, though, is that they are quite large, and relatively slow.

Now, a new lens has popped up, the Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2, which is fast, and quite compact in size:

From left: Samyang/Rokinon 12mm f/2, Lumix X 12-35mm f/2.8 (my review) and Lumix G 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 (my review) set to 12mm.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye

There is a new, expotic, and reasonanbly priced lens available, the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 circular fisheye. It was announced in April for DSLR mounts like Nikon F and Canon EF. In November, it was further announced in Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E mount.

So, should you buy this lens, and if so, in what mount? That's what I will be trying to answer in this article.

To help the review of the lens, I will be comparing it with a similar lens for Sony E mount, the Yasuhara Madoka 180 7.3mm f/4 (my review). Both lenses are shown below:

Left: Yasuhara Madoka 180 7.3mm f/4 circular fisheye lens. On the right, is the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 with an adapter for Sony E-mount.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A decade of affordable digital system cameras

In August 2003, Canon launched the EOS 300D. It was not the first digital SLR camera. Both Canon and Nikon had models preceding it. But it was the first truly affordable DSLR camera. Still a lot more expensive than a similar camera today, but it was sold at a price that most enthusiasts could justify.

Prior to this launch, people interested in photography would typically still use film based SLRs, or digital cameras without interchangeable lenses. So it is fair to say that the camera started a big change in the camera market: Affordable digital system cameras. Here is a look at what has happened over the last decade.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Mirrorless cameras: Smaller wide angle lenses

Compared with DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras have lost the mirror, obviously. This makes the construction simpler, but there is also a more important factor: It allows putting the lens mount closer to the imaging sensor, giving a shorter register distance.

A shorter register distance means that wide angle lenses can be constructed simpler. With a long register distance, typically for a DSLR camera, you need a complicated retrofocal optical design to make wide angle lenses. With a shorter distance, the lens design becomes simpler, and you can make smaller, lighter, and less expensive wide angle lenses.

Here is a good example. On the left, there is the Yasuhara Madoka 180 7.3mm f/4 (my review), designed for the Sony E-mount mirrorless system. On the right, is the Lensbaby 5.8mm f/3.5 with an adapter for Sony E-mount. Both are circular fisheye lenses for the APS-C sensor size. But the lens on the right is designed for use on DSLR cameras, with a longer register distance.

Beyond being designed for mirrorless and DSLR, respectively, the lenses are a bit different. The Lensbaby covers a slightly wider field of view, and has a marginally larger maximum aperture. The Yasuhara lens is more distorted in the edges, and has the better optical performance. But by and large, the lenses do the same thing. And there is a huge difference in the size. Which lens would you rather bring along?