Digital Camera Reviews

Canon EOS 6D – New More Affordable Full-Frame Digital SLR - Mon, 2012-09-17 00:00

As expected, Canon is introducing another new digital SLR at the Photokina tradeshow this year. Priced at $2100, the new Canon EOS 6D is a more affordable option for Canon photographers who want the benefits of a full-frame camera. The EOS 6D has a 20.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, DIGIC 5+ processing, full HD video and an 11-point auto focus system. In spite of its lower price, the EOS 6D has a lot of the same features as the new 5D Mark III, including DIGIC 5+ processing, 63-zone dual-layer metering and ISO 25,600 sensitivity. But Canon also gave it a couple of cool new features – built-in Wi-Fi and GPS.

Canon EOS 6D Key Features And Specs

  • New 20.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ image processing
  • Sensitivity range: ISO 100 to 25,600, expandable to ISO 50, ISO 102,400 (stills-only)
  • 11-point auto focus system
  • 4.5 frames per second high-speed burst
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video at 30, 24, and 25 frames per second – 720p at 50 or 60 frames per second
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Built-in GPS
  • In-camera multiple exposure
  • In-camera HDR
  • 3-inch, 1.04-million-dot LCD display
  • SD memory card slot
  • 100k-cycle shutter

The Canon EOS 6D will be available in December, 2012. It will sell for US $2,099.00 for the body alone or $2,899.00 in a kit with the EF 24-105mm f/4L IS zoom lens.

Official Canon EOS 6D Press Release >>

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New Fujifilm XF1 Camera Puts Quality & Performance In Your Pocket - Sun, 2012-09-16 21:00

Fujifilm has added a new camera to their X-Series digital camera line. The new Fujifilm XF1 has the same excellent 12-megapixel 2/3-inch CMOS sensor they used in their popular X10 compact camera (read our Fujifilm X10 review). But unlike the X10, the XF1 is made to fit in your pants pocket. It has a 4x 25-100mm f/1.8-4.9 optical zoom with a manual zoom ring – one of the other features that set the X10 apart from other high-end compact cameras. The lens collapses almost completely into the camera when the camera is off and the power switch is integrated into the lens. To power up the camera you twist the lens and pull it out of the body to put it in standby and then turn it on by rotating the zoom ring (see photos, below). And like the rest of Fujifilm’s X-Series cameras, the XF1 has a great build and beautiful, distinctive styling.

Fujifilm XF1 Key Features and Specs:

  • 12-megapixel 2/3-inch CMOS sensor
  • 4x f/1.8-4.9 (25-100mm equivalent) with manual zoom
  • Power switch integrated into lens
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video
  • 3-inch 460k-dot LCD
  • Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 12,800
  • P,A,S,M shooting modes
  • RAW shooting
  • Film simulation modes
  • Magnesium front and back covers
  • 10 frames per second high-speed burst
  • Built-in pop-up flash

As is befitting a member of Fujifilm’s X-Series premium camera line, the new XF1 has full manual exposure modes (P, A, S, M) and RAW shooting. It also full HD video and it can capture up to 10 frames per second.

The Fujifilm XF1 is scheduled to be available next month (October, 2012). The suggested retail price is $499.99 and it comes in three faux leather finishes – black, tan and red.

Fujifilm XF1 Press Release >>

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Canon PowerShot S110 Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Canon PowerShot G15 Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Fujifilm XF1 Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Canon EOS 6D Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Olympus PEN E-PL5 & E-PL2 Preview Reviews - Sun, 2012-09-16 16:00

Sony Alpha SLT-A99 Full-Frame Translucent Mirror DSLR - Fri, 2012-09-14 19:23

I think 2012 should be called “Year of the Full-Frame.” Seems like everyone’s got a new full-frame digital SLR – including Sony. It’s been four years since they introduced their first full-frame camera, the 24-megapixel A900; and Sony photographers have been anxious for a replacement. In the past couple of years Sony has introduced a bunch of new APS-C digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras with groundbreaking features and design. The new Sony Alpha SLT-A99 puts all of that creativity and innovation in a full-frame DSLR. The resolution of the A99 is the same as the 24-megapixel A900 but all similarities end there. The SLT-A99 has a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, 60p full HD video, an electronic viewfinder, Sony’s exclusive Translucent Mirror design, and a brand new dual phase-detect AF system. It even has built-in GPS. Spec-wise, I believe the Sony A99 is the most advanced digital SLR on the planet.

“The new ?99 camera is the ultimate combination of Sony’s expertise and rich history of image sensor production coupled with our truly innovative approach to camera design. It redefines what can be accomplished with a full frame DSLR camera.”

Mike Kahn, director of Sony’s alpha camera division

Sony Alpha SLT-A99 Key Features and Specs:

  • New 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS full-frame sensor
  • Built-in sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Sensitivity: ISO 50 – ISO 25600
  • Translucent mirror design
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video (24p, 60i, 60p)
  • Headphone jack and adjustable audio levels with audio levels display
  • New “Dual AF” dual phase detect auto focus system
  • 2.3-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • New 3-inch 3-way tilting 1.2-million-dot LCD display
  • 15-point AF system
  • Continuous auto focus in movie mode
  • 6 frames per second high-speed burst
  • 200k-rated shutter
  • Built-in GPS
  • Weather and dust-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Dual memory card slots – SD & SD/memory stick
  • New silent, programmable multi-control dial on front of body
  • Price US $2800 (body-only)

At first glance, the A99 looks a lot like the current Nikon and Canon full-frame digital SLRs. But look a little closer and you quickly find it’s very different. Instead of an optical viewfinder it has a 2.3-million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF). That means everything you can see on the LCD you can also see in the viewfinder. And even more important, you can use the EVF while recording video, adding a third point-of-contact for steadier handheld video. The A99 is the only full-frame DSLR with built-in sensor-shift image stabilization. Unlike Nikon and Canon DSLRs, where the image stabilization is in the lens, the A99 compensates for camera shake by moving the sensor. That means you don’t need to buy special lenses to benefit from image stabilization technology. The A99 is the only full-frame camera with a tilting LCD display. That’s huge for videographers and photographers who work on a tripod. But I think the most important exclusive feature is the A99’s Translucent Mirror Technology (photo, below), which earned Sony our 2010 Camera of the Year award when they introduced it in the SLT-A55 (2010 Camera of the Year page). The transparent mirror allows the A99 to use the same phase detect continuous auto focus for live view as well as still photos. Only Sony uses a transparent mirror and no other camera maker has been able to achieve really useable continuous auto focus for digital SLR video recording. The A99 is also the only digital SLR that can shoot 1920 x 1080 full HD video at 60 frames per second. Slow mo, anyone?

Although the technology above is new to full-frame cameras, most of it has been standard on Sony’s APS-C sensor SLT cameras for a couple of years now. The A99’s most significant new features are in the auto focus system. It has a brand new “dual phase-detect AF system,” which has a 19-point phase-detect array on the mirror – the standard place for a DSLR auto focus sensor; and a 102-point “focal plane phase-detection AF sensor” right on top of the imaging sensor – sort of like a second anti-aliasing filter. On the new AF system, Sony says, “light is passed to both phase-detection AF sensors simultaneously and continually, measuring subject distance and position more completely than other cameras.” I’ll have to use the A99’s new AF system to pass judgment, but the technology certainly sounds good to me.

The A99 also has a couple of interesting new auto focus features: AF-D (depth) continuous auto focus mode and AF range control. The AF-D auto focus mode takes advantage of the new Dual AF system to better track subjects moving in three dimensions. In other words – it tracks a subjects as they move parallel to the lens as well as towards and away. It’s supposed to be better at tracking erratically moving subjects – football players or dogs, for example. Sony says it can even continue to track a subject if they leave the frame. That sounds like magic to me. AF range control lets you set limits on how close and far the camera will focus. This will be especially useful for sports photographers who have to shoot through fences as they can set the camera to only focus beyond the fence.

Sony announced a bunch of new accessories along with the SLT-A99. There’s a new 300mm f/2.8 telephoto lens designed especially for sports and wildlife photographers, the 300mm F2.8 G SSM II (SAL300F28G2) lens; and they also announced they’re working on a new full-frame Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 prime, which should be available in the spring of 2013. There’s a vertical grip for the A99, an RMT-DSLR2 Remote Commander, an HVL-RL1 Ring Light; and the new dust and moisture-resistant HVL-F60M hot shoe flash, which includes built-in LED lights for video. Also for video, Sony has a new XLR-K1M XLR Adaptor Kit, which includes a shotgun mic and adds two XLR terminals to the camera for professional mics, mixing boards, etc.

As usual, Sony’s pricing is very aggressive. At $2800 for just the body, the SLT-A99 isn’t at all cheap. But when you start comparing the features and prices of other full-frame digital SLRs, it looks very, very good. The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 will be officially introduced next week at the biennial Photokina tradeshow in Germany and it’s scheduled to be in stores next month – October, 2012.

Sony Alpha SLT-A99 Press Release >>

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Nikon Coolpix S6300 (Blue) Reviews - Thu, 2012-09-13 00:26
In the face of stiff competition, the Nikon Coolpix S6300 is an above average point-and-shoot made slightly better by a low price, simple operation, and nice features.

Nikon D600 Full-Frame Enthusiast DSLR Announced - Wed, 2012-09-12 20:18

Last night, Nikon announced a new mid-range, full-frame DSLR, the D600. Designed for enthusiasts or pros on a budget, the 24-megapixel Nikon D600 offers the image quality and performance of a professional full-frame digital SLR in a smaller, lighter and more comfortably-priced package. At $2100 it’s still not a cheap camera but it costs less than other current full-frame cameras. The D800 makes a lot more sense now, too. I believe the D600 is the full-frame camera most Nikon photographers were hoping for when the D800 was announced. As much as some photographers might thing they need a 36-megapixel camera (the D800), most of us are better off with smaller, easier-to-handle files. And at 24-megapixels, the D600 still has more than enough resolution for all but the most detail-needy.

Nikon D600 Key Features & Specs:

  • 24.3-megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED 3 image processing
  • New 39-point MultiCAM 4800FX AF system
  • Sensitivity from ISO 100 to 6400, expandable from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600
  • 5.5 frames per second high-speed burst with continuous auto focus
  • 3.2-inch 921k-dot LCD display
  • 1080p full HD video at 30, 25 or 24p, and 720p at 60, 50 and 30p
  • Live, uncompressed output via HDMI port
  • Full time auto focus in video mode
  • 100% coverage optical viewfinder
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • 1/200th second flash synch
  • Dual SD memory card slots
  • Dust and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • 150k-rated shutter
  • Battery capacity – approximately 900 shots per charge
  • Price: $2,099.95 body-only

Most photographers seem very pleased with the Nikon D600 announcement. Everyone seems happy about the price. At $100 less than the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, it’s the most affordable full-frame DSLR on the market. The key differences from the D800, other than resolution and price, are the body design, the auto focus system, the sensitivity range and the burst rate. The D600 body is clearly based on the D7000 so if you’re used to Nikon’s pro DSLR controls there may be a bit of fumbling at first. But for photographers upgrading from a Nikon DX-format camera, the D600 controls will be very familiar. And don’t let the DX-style design fool you. The D600 is built for abuse. Like Nikon’s other high-end DSLRs it’s got a dust and weather-sealed body with a magnesium alloy chassis. It’s also got a 100% optical viewfinder and a shutter rated for 150,000 exposures. The one design decision I really don’t like is the lack of CompactFlash support. The D600 has dual SD card slots. This is great for photographers upgrading from consumer-level DSLRs or point-and-shoot cameras. But most serious and professional photographers who’ve been shooting for a few years own CompactFlash cards. They’re more reliable, better-built and they’re harder to lose. It would have been nice if Nikon had given the D600 at least one CompactFlash card slot.

Since I’m an action shooter, I always take a close look at a new camera’s auto focus and burst rate specs. The D600’s 5.5 frames per second max burst rate is decent for sports, although still a bit on the slow side compared to top-of-the-line pro DSLRs like the D4 and Canon’s EOS-1D X, both of which can machine gun through more than 10 frames per second. Still, anything over 5 FPS is good for shooting action, in my opinion. The D800’s native high-speed burst is 4 FPS – not fast enough for a real sports camera. However, it can shoot 6 frames per second with the optional battery grip. I was hoping the D600 would also get a boost from a battery grip but I checked with Nikon and that’s not the case – 5.5 FPS is as fast as it gets.

The D600 has a brand new 39-point Multi-CAM 4800 auto focus system with 9 cross-type sensors. The new auto focus array doesn’t have as many points or cover the same area as the 51-point AF array in the D800, D3s and D4; but it’s a lot better than the auto focus systems in the DX-format DSLRs many prospective D600 buyers will be upgrading from. The D600’s new auto focus module also has 7 sensors that will auto focus with apertures as small as f/8. This is great for wildlife and sports photographers who use tele-converters to pull the critters and action in closer. Since it’s a brand new system, the D600’s auto focus performance is a bit of an unknown. However, after using a lot of Nikon DSLRs I’ve come to really trust their auto focus performance. I would be really surprised if this one wasn’t totally sports-worthy.

Great image quality is a given with the D600. Full-frame sensor – that’s all you need to know. People will need to compare, though. Until I have one to do my own studio tests with, I won’t know how it measures up compared to other full-frame DSLRs. It will definitely be better than any APS-C camera, though. There’s no doubt about that. The D600’s sensitivity rating isn’t as broad as the D4 or the D800 and I expect that means it’s not quite as good in low light. But that’s really splitting hairs because it costs hundreds less than the D800 and thousands less than the D4. As usual, dpreview had a pre-production camera and they’ve already got samples posted. I looked through their D600 gallery and the low light images look great. I really can’t say if the image quality is better or worse than the D800 or D4. But the dpreview ISO 6400 photo sure does look good.

The D600 looks like a great camera for photographers looking to upgrade from an APS-C DSLR to a full-frame camera. I actually think the D600 is the best full-frame Nikon DSLR for most photographers. The D4 and D800 are really specialized cameras – the D4 for photojournalists and sports photographers; and the D800 for commercial and studio photographers. But the D600 will fit pretty much everyone just right – especially when you consider the $2099 (body-only) price. You won’t have to wait long for the D600, either. It’s supposed to be available September 18th – that’s next week. All the cool kids are gonna have them.

If you think I missed anything or you have something to add, please comment below. Your comments make this article more useful for everyone.

Nikon D600 Press Release >>

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The Amazing Sony RX1 Compact Camera – Full Frame Sensor & f/2.0 Lens - Wed, 2012-09-12 18:43

Sony continues to surprise me with their willingness to take chances on non-traditional camera designs. The new Sony RX1 is their biggest gamble yet. The RX1 is a high-end compact camera with a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss lens that sells for nearly $3000. And I thought the $600 Sony RX100 was expensive. I’m sure that sounds crazy to a lot of you. But this is a crazy camera – one that some of us have literally been dreaming of for ten years. Back before digital took over, there were cameras like this – with fast, premium optics, made for serious photographers who were willing to pay to have the best. But until now, no one has been willing to take a chance on a compact digital camera of this caliber. Leica and Sigma both have really nice fixed lens compacts with APS-C sensors. But Sony is the first company with the huevos to go full frame. And it could very well get them another Camera of The Year.

Sony Cybershot RX100 key Features & Specs:

  • 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T lens
  • Nine-bladed circular aperture
  • ISO 100 to 25,600 (ISO 102,400 with Multi Frame Noise Reduction)
  • 1920 x 1080/60p AVCHD full HD video
  • RAW shooting
  • Full range of exposure modes – P,S,A,M
  • 1.4x or 2x Smart Teleconverter (effective focal lengths: 49mm or 70mm)
  • 3-inch 1,229k-dot LCD display
  • 5 frames-per-second high-speed burst
  • Manual focus assist and focus peaking
  • Pop-up flash and flash / accessory hot shoe
  • Digital level

Never before has there been a camera this small with this kind of performance. The RX1’s full frame sensor (see sensor comparison, below) makes shooting at ISO 6400 or even 12,800 totally realistic. The 35mm focal length has been a favorite for Leica M rangefinder photographers for half a century. It’s traditional for street photography, photojournalism, wide-angle portraiture and event photography. With the 9-bladed f/2.0 aperture, the RX1 will have gorgeous bokeh. It’s going to be the ultimate unobtrusive street, party, people and travel camera.

For a quick hands-on look at the Sony’s new RX1 full-frame compact camera, check out this official Sony intro video:

Click here to view the embedded video.

For those times when the 35mm focal length is too wide, there’s a Smart Teleconverter feature that takes advantage of the high-resolution sensor and crops to 49mm or 70mm effective focal lengths. For the videographers, the RX1 records full HD video at 60 frames per second or 24 frames per second. And of course, it has P, A, S, M modes and RAW capture.

For those who can afford the $2800 entry fee, the Sony Cybershot RX1 will be available in November – just in time for you to get me one for Christmas.

Sony Cybershot RX1 Press Release >>

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Sony SLT-A57 Reviews - Wed, 2012-09-12 16:00

Apple’s iPhone 5 Camera – What’s New? - Wed, 2012-09-12 14:32

It’s the most popular camera in the world – for today, anyway. The new Apple iPhone 5 is official. Yeah, it’s a smart phone but it’s also arguably the most popular camera in the world. Even though I don’t believe camera phones should replace real point-and-shoot cameras, there’s no denying the reality that for most people, their cell phone is all the camera they want or need. And today, the new iPhone 5 is king.

So what’s new in the iPhone 5 camera? For one, it now has a name –the “iSight” camera. Perhaps they decided to brand it because the camera specs are basically the same as the iPhone 4S? It appears to be using the same 8-megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and f/2.4 lens, although the lens does have a new scratch-resistant sapphire glass protective cover. That’s the same kind of glass Leica uses to protect the LCD display on their legendary M9 P digital rangefinder camera. According to Apple, there are some real performance improvements, though; namely, improved speed and image quality. The iPhone 5’s new A6 processor is supposed to be about twice as fast as the previous processor and taking a picture should be about 40% faster. Cellular data connectivity has been upgraded to LTE and the Wi-Fi specs have been improved so uploading party photos to Facebook should be faster.

As far as actual photos go, low light performance and noise reduction have been improved so image quality should be better – especially in poor lighting. That’s pretty remarkable since the iPhone 4s already had excellent image quality. The iPhone 5 has a larger, 4-inch widescreen (16:9) Retina display with better color saturation. That will make composing, browsing and sharing photos more enjoyable. The widescreen display will also make recording and watching videos more comfortable. Like the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 records 1920 x 1080 full HD video but Apple says they’ve improved the electronic video stabilization so handheld video won’t be as shaky. You can also take still photos while recording video – something you couldn’t do with the iPhone 4S. Finally, Apple included built-in panorama stitching. With the iPhone 5 you can create huge (up to 28 megapixels) in-camera panoramic images just by panning the camera across a scene and letting the phone do the rest.

For reference, here’s a table comparing the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s camera features and specs:

iPhone 5 Camera iPhone 4S Camera Sensor 8-megapixel backlit CMOS 8-megapixel backlit CMOS Processor A6 CPU Dual-core A5 CPU Display 1136×640 4-inch (diagonal) Retina display 960×640 3.5-inch (diagonal) Retina display Video 1080p full HD at 30 FPS 1080p full HD at 30 FPS Lens f/2.4 aperture f/2.4 aperture Auto focus Tap to focus Tap to focus Face detection Yes Yes Flash LED flash LED flash Image Stabilization For video – improved For video Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n; 802.11n on 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11b/g/n; 802.11n on 2.4GHz 4G LTE Data Support Yes No Dimensions 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm) 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches (115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm)

Don’t think the iPhone 5 is the greatest point-and-shoot camera ever introduced, though. The main thing it’s missing, and the main reason I carry a separate, dedicated point-and-shoot camera, is a zoom lens. My “real” pocket camera has full manual exposure controls and a 14x zoom lens. And so I don’t have to wait until I get home to share my photos, I use an Eye-Fi wireless SD card (Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Review) that allows me to transfer my photos wirelessly from the camera to my iPhone . I’ve got the best of both worlds – a real camera with great controls and a big zoom – and connectivity.

You’ll be able to pre-order an iPhone 5 in the US on September 14th (Friday). It will come in white or black and a 16GB phone will set you back $200 with a 2 year contract. If you want to be the first on your block busting out Instagrams with your new iPhone 5, better pack your cooler, sleeping bag and a lawn chair and get a spot in front of your local Apple store now. I confess – I plan to buy an iPhone 5 to replace my iPhone 3G. But mostly for the smart phone features. I’ll still be packing a “real” camera in my other pocket.

iPhone 5 Press Release >>

New Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs Flagship DSLRs Announced - Wed, 2012-09-12 08:22

Pentax announced a new flagship digital SLR this week. The Pentax K-5 II has a weatherproof stainless steel and magnesium body, a 16.3-megapixel APS-C imaging sensor, full HD video and a new SAFOX X auto focus array, which they claim gives it the “broadest autofocusing EV range (-3 EV to +18 EV) in its class.” There’s also a second model, the 5-K IIs, which has all the same features but drops the anti-aliasing filter for more detail and better low light performance. The 16-megapixel CMOS sensor appears to be the same as that used in the K-30, but with updated PRIME II (PENTAX Real Image Engine) imaging processing. Based on expanded sensitivity, compared to the K-30, I expect the image quality has been improved by about a stop.

Pentax K-5 II & K-5 IIs Key Features and Specs:

  • Rugged, weatherproof body
  • 16.28-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 12,800 (expandable to ISO 80 to 51,200)
  • New 11-point SAFOX X AF sensor useable from -3 EV to +18 EV
  • Sensor-shift SR Shake Reduction for image stabilization with all lenses
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video
  • 100% optical viewfinder
  • 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display
  • 7 frames per second high-speed burst
  • Electronic level
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • Battery life – approximately 980 images per charge

The Pentax community has been grumbling about this round of Pentax camera announcements. They were hoping for something more than another APS-C sensor DSLR. The pros and serious enthusiasts who own Pentax systems would really like a full frame DSLR in their upgrade path. Pentax does make a medium format digital camera, the award-winning 645D. But so far, all the digital SLRs they’ve made have had smaller, APS-C sensors. Instead of a bigger sensor, the Pentax digital SLRs have always offered a better feature set than comparably-priced competitor cameras. And the Pentax K-30, which I am testing right now, surprised me with its excellent image quality – much better than I’m used to seeing from APS-C sensor cameras. I expect the same is true for the K-5 II. It may not be the EOS-5D Mark III competitor that some Pentax shooters were hoping for. But after my experience with the K-30, I am pretty confident that it has better image quality and features than comparably-priced Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

If you’ve been looking at high-end APS-C sensor digital SLRs and haven’t looked at Pentax yet, the Pentax K-5 II and K-5 IIs definitely deserve your attention. Both cameras should be in stores and available from online dealers next month (October, 2012). The K-5 II will sell for $1,199.95 for just the body. It will also be available as a kit with either the DA 18-55mm WR zoom or DA 18-135mm WR zoom lens, for $1,349.95 or $1,549.95, respectively.

Pentax K-5 II DSLR Press Release >>

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Pentax Q10 Miniature Mirrorless Camera - Tue, 2012-09-11 16:02

Pentax has expanded their mini mirrorless Q camera system with a second camera, a new telephoto zoom lens and a K-mount lens adapter. For the most part, the new Pentax Q10 appears to be the same as the original Q (Pentax Q Announcement), which Pentax introduced a little over a year ago. Like the Q, the Pentax Q10 is “barely larger than a deck of cards,” it uses a point-and-shoot-sized 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS sensor with 12.4-million pixels, it has full manual controls (P, A, S, M) and DNG RAW shooting and it captures full HD video. But even though the sensor specs look the same, Pentax does say the Q10 has a “newly adopted CMOS image sensor” with “higher quality images and faster autofocus (AF) operation. ” The new lens and K-mount adapter are the real news here. The new 15-45mm (83-249mm equiv.) telephoto zoom lens is the 6th Q-mount lens, hence the “06” moniker. It has a fast, non-variable f/2.8 aperture and it’s a perfect complement to the “02” 3x (27.5-83mm equivalent) standard zoom lens.

Pentax Q10 Key Features and Specs:

  • “Newly adopted” 12.4-megapixel 1/2.3-inch backlit CMOS with improved image quality
  • 5.5x sensor crop factor
  • Lens: Q-mount
  • Faster auto focus performance
  • Sensor-shift SR Shake Reduction for image stabilization with all lenses
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD video
  • 3-inch 460k-dot LCD display
  • Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 6400
  • Auto Picture mode, 21 scene modes and P, A, S, M modes
  • 5 frames per second high-speed burst (JPEG-only)
  • Built-in, adjustable HDR mode
  • Flash hot shoe and built-in pop-up flash
  • Dimensions: 4 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches (101.6 x 58.4 x 33mm)

For a toy-like camera that has a point-and-shoot sensor, an f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens is a pretty bold move. If you look at the mirrorless lens options, fast aperture zooms are a rarity and no other camera company makes a fast telephoto zoom comparable to the new Pentax 15-45mm f/2.8 (below). Increasing the number of Q-System compatible lenses in a huge way, the new Adapter Q allows the use of all K-mount lenses on the Q and Q10 cameras. The adapter has its own mechanical shutter to eliminate rolling shutter effect and there’s a 5.5x conversion factor – great news for sports and wildlife shooters but not so great for wide-angle photographers. With the 5.5 crop factor a standard 50mm K-mount lens will effectively be converted to 275mm; or a 200mm lens would have the reach of an 1100mm. Pentax says there are 25 million existing K-mount lenses. So photographers who already own a Pentax system or those who don’t mind a bit of pawn shop or eBay shopping have a of new lens options for the Q and Q10 – although most K-mount lenses will be bigger than the actual camera.

The Q10 is cute and the new telephoto zoom and K-mount adapter are cool. But there’s no getting around the Q10’s point-and-shoot sensor. In the West, we’re mostly obsessed with image quality and the 1/2.3-inch sensor just can’t compete with the Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras and all things cute and cuddly are supposed to be super popular in Asia so I’m sure that’s the real target market. I’ll admit, the first time I saw it in person, I was enamored by the Q’s diminutive charm (Pentax Q First Impressions). But ultimately, I don’t see it as being more than a novelty camera – at least in North America. After all, I can buy a pocket superzoom camera with a comparable sensor and 14x or longer zoom for a lot less money.

If you’re a camera collector, a Pentax lover or just someone who likes cute stuff, the Pentax Q10 will be in stores next month (October 2012). It will come in red or silver and sell for US $599.95 with the “02” 3x kit lens. The new Pentax “06” 15-45mm f/2.8 zoom lens and Adapter Q should be available at the same time. They will sell for $299.95 and $249.95, respectively.

Pentax Q10 Press Release >>

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Nikon D600 Reviews - Tue, 2012-09-11 16:00

The Impossible Lab – Instant Prints From iPhone Photos - Mon, 2012-09-10 17:05

Do you love Polaroid / instant prints but, like most of the world, you actually take most of your pictures with your camera phone? Well, if you’ve got an iPhone, then the Impossible Project has a solution. They just announced a new Kickstarter project to fund something they’re calling, “The Impossible Lab;” a device for making instant prints from iPhone photos. Polaroid stopped making instant film in 2007 but that didn’t stop artists, hipsters and Polaroid fans from wanting the instant gratification you get watching a Polaroid print come out of the camera and develop right in front of your eyes. So in 2010, against all odds, the Impossible Project began producing replacement film for Polaroid instant cameras (The Impossible Project article). Their new project, The Impossible Lab, will allow iPhone users to make instant prints on Impossible Project instant film.

To see it in action, watch the Impossible Lab demo video below:

The Impossible Lab is just the first product planned around what The Impossible Project is calling the, “Film Processing Unit” (FPU). They plan to show a working prototype of The Impossible Lab at the Photokina tradeshow in Germany, next week (September 18-23, 2012). Not an iPhone user? They’re also looking into designing an Android version, although that’s a little trickier since there are so many different Android phone form factors. That being the case, what they should probably do is make an adjustable phone cradle or sell different cradles for people who own different kinds of phones. That would also address future phone form factors, like the iPhone 5.

For those who don’t know about Kickstarter, it’s a “crowd funding” Web site where entrepreneurs can ask the public for capital to help them complete a project. The Impossible Lab Kickstarter project has set a goal of US $250,000 and as I write this article they have approximately 750 backers who’ve committed about $150,000. The funding deadline for The Impossible Lab is October 8, 2012 and the estimated delivery date is February, 2013. The retail price for the Impossible Lab is projected to be US $299.

The Impossible Lab Kickstarter Page >>

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Sony Alpha NEX-6 Reviews - Mon, 2012-09-10 16:00

Sony SLT-A99 Reviews - Mon, 2012-09-10 16:00