Nikon P7700 passes the DXO Mark bench with honors: The best compact camera Nikon has made to date, it seems to have been designed around a wish-list of all the things that a photographer or a serious amateur would want on an everyday camera.

"Best Nikon camera" means of course that-sensor wise, it is still a fair bit behind Fuji's X10, but ahead of Canon's Powershot G15. Ben Boswell from DXO Labs writes the conclusion:

"Nikon divides its cameras into a number of different categories: DSLR, Nikon 1 (their compact system cameras) and Coolpix, its compact range. Coolpix is further divided: All Weather, Life, Style and Performance. The Coolpix P7700 is at the top of the Performance division, which is in turn the top of the Coolpix Division. That is to say that this is, for Nikon, the best compact they make. This is a camera that has been designed around a wish-list of all the things that a photographer or a serious amateur would want on an everyday camera and Nikon have delivered something really good." . . . read more

Nasim Mansurov reviews and compares the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR and AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lenses.

Nasim uses a D800E as a test body:

"As you may already know, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II was a disappointment for some photographers, because it suffers from a “lens breathing” optical design, where the focal length of the lens varies depending on subject distance. At close distances, the 70-200mm loses quite a bit of the range, which can be a problem for those of us that like to fill the frame with small objects. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR does not have this problem – I measured its focal length and it was exactly 70-200mm, no matter how close or far I focused. Its optical formula is similar to that of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 . . . read more

Sigma 30mm EX DN lens for Sony NEX mount review at Photozone: Excellent performer, we know it, because we sell them....downunder!

I learned something today: Photozone.de now sells lenses...in Australia? Anyway, the Sigma lens seems to be an excellent performer, to the point of outresolving the NEX-7. I wonder how much better the new 'Art" series 30mm DN lens will be:

"The Sigma AF 30mm f/2.8 EX DN is capable of delivering an outstanding center performance straight from f/2.8 - it even broke the existing record for the Sony NEX 7 as of the time of this review. The lens is basically "diffraction-limited" in the image center so stopping down has no effect on the center performance anymore. The outer image regions reach a good level at f/2.8 and improve to very good (just) figures at f/4 to f/8. The overall performance diminishes from f/11 onward - this is a typical diffraction effect and no problem of the lens. . . . read more

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens Review by Andrew Alexander at SLR Gear: 'Performance at 50mm was unacceptable, even after we had to go through 3 copies of this lens to find the best one."

Another day, another review, and another case of a bad copy lens, an issue I too was confronted with time and again when i bough expensive Canon Glass in the past. Canon L=Lazy quality control? 

"Canon made a smart decision to offer a lower-priced alternative to its 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, in order to give Canon shooters of the more casual or economical nature a way to stay true to the brand name. Unfortunately the lens' performance at 50mm stands out as unacceptable, especially when you consider the lower-priced option here still costs $1,500. Coupled with the fact that we had to seek out the best version to get even these results, this does not breed confidence in the lens. . . . read more

The Panasonic Fz200 superzoom gets its DXO Mark badge: "It boasts a top specification but if image quality is more important the Canon SX50 HS or Nikon P7700 both rank higher in the DxOMark Sensor Scores and cost less on the high street too."

Panasonic is 'doing a Canon' here, and manages to spew out a flagship that ranks a bit lower than its predecessor, the FZ150. How on earth did they accomplish that? The sensor size is unchanged, and according to their marketing blurb the new one is better than the old, in every possible way:

"With an Overall DxOMark Sensor Score of 37 for the Lumix DMC-FZ200, compared to 40 for its predecessor the FZ150, this latest Panasonic Bridge camera maintains the good image quality of the DMC-FZ line. Despite the slightly lower score than its predecessor a difference of only 3 points equates to less than -1/3 of a Stop overall and in real world terms there’s no difference. The FZ200 also boasts some impressive specifications, the most notable of which is the fixed f/2.8 maximum aperture. If you’re after a compact style camera for sports and wildlife photography this is significant as it enables you to use lower ISO settings for better quality images when fully zoomed in. . . . read more

Yongnuo Speedlite YN568EX for Canon EOS, hands-on review by Mark Boadey at Lighting Rumours.

Yongnuo is by far the most serious company of the Chinese Speedlite cloners gang. Their YN568EX is a pretty close match for Canon's 580EX II, for a fraction of the money:

"I am very very impressed with the Yongnuo YN568EX. The build quality and feature set are excellent, even more so when you consider its price. Sure, there are some flaws but I have to give due credit to Yongnuo for the work they’ve put it on this; they have moved up in the world from those YN460 days. Yongnuo are starting to give the big guns a run for their money. I’d have no trouble recommending this speedlite as either an extra unit to your kit or as perhaps your first speedlite." . . . read more

Olympus 15mm f/8 body cap lens review at Camera Hoarders: "If you have an Instagram account, listen only to bands that sold 15 records or less and ride a fixie, the 15mm lenscap is the thing to have"

Ivan doesn't think very highly of the 15mm body cap lens:

Compared even to “low-end” Olympus 14-42 F/3.5-5.6 kit lens, the 15mm is nowhere near sharp. In all samples below, 14-42 used at the F/8 aperture gives clearly sharper images in center. Corners are even worse, where 15mm sometimes looks bad even when viewed scaled to my monitor’s size (24″). But keep in mind at all times, Olympus 15mm costs $ 40 and is smaller than smallest available lens for micro 4/3 system. There had to be a trade-off somewhere. There’s another issue though… when set to infinity, the lens has sharp corners, but somewhat blurred center; set at hyperfocal center . . . read more

Canon releases 4 new Pixma MXxxx all-in-one printers, now with new software, dual front trays, and optional XL and XXL ink cartridges.

Canon Press Release

Canon refreshes home office printer range with four new All-In-One devices: MX395 MX455 MX525 MX925

United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, 05 February 2013 – Canon today announces a refresh of its PIXMA MX printer range with the launch of four new All-In-One devices. The PIXMA MX395, MX455, MX525 and MX925 replace the PIXMA MX375, MX435, MX515 and MX715/MX895 respectively. Offering high-productivity and sophisticated software for home office environments, all the new printers feature print, copy, scan, fax and ADF functionality. . . . read more

Nikon Coldpix S800c review by Jeff Keller at DPreview: "Photo quality, battery life, and Wi-Fi reception are all things that need significant improvements"

This must be the very last device to be released with the Victorian era original Android version. Heck, even shacks in Asia putting together 49.99 toys have been putting at least Android 4 on their wares for the past year or so. I spent some quality hours with the S800c myself, and I honestly believe that the 'c' in the name stands for 'crap'. Jeff is a lot kinder than me however, he actually likes some aspects of the camera:

"Camera performance is good in most respects, with two notable exceptions. First, startup times. The camera takes 1.8 seconds to extend its lens and prepare for shooting. If the camera's been off for a while, then you'll have to wait for an additional 30 seconds for Android to boot up before the S800c is . . . read more

Canon EOS M review by Joshua Waller at EPZ: "The Canon EOS M is capable of taking pleasing photos with an extremely compact body, although there are some issues worth noting."

Joshua takes kind of a pity of the EOS M, a camera that-in my personal opinion, can take excellent images (of not too fast moving, but preferably totally inanimate objects) but sucks at pretty much everything else. But no need to worry my dear Canonistas, before this year ends we'll be blessed with at least a new, more capable mirrorless body + a couple of matching from Canon. Plenty of high-res jpegs and raw files accompany this review:

"There are cheaper competitors available than the Canon EOS M, with quicker focus, a larger choice of lenses, as well as features including Wi-Fi. In addition, the other systems available either feature a built in pop-up flash or smaller external flashes.

The Canon EOS M has a small well designed body with an easy to use 3 inch touch screen, however the limited number of lenses, as well as the extremely slow focus and short battery life are rather frustrating limitations holding the camera system back. It would be nice to see some of these issues resolved . . . read more

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Lens review at Photozone: You can't go wrong with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, if you can get a good sample. "

'A good sample'? I think this is the second review of this lens that mentions it..what's up with the QC Fuji? The anonymous reviewer from Photozone shares some more insight into this issue:

"The Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS may be the hottest reason to enter the Fuji system. It is amazingly sharp throughout the zoom and relevant aperture range. The amount of lateral CAs is generally quite low with the exception of 55mm @ f/4. The Fujinon is not without flaws, of course. Technically it suffers from a high barrel distortion at 18mm and the vignetting is a bit too high at max. aperture. However, these aspects are taken care of either by the camera itself or external RAW converters so you don't need to worry from a user perspective. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus) blur is pretty good for a standard zoom lens but it cannot rival the best prime lenses, of course. . . . read more

Exploring time-lapse films with the Fujifilm X-E1, by David Cleland at FlixelPix.com

time-lapse videos with the fujifilm x-e1 tutorial

David grabs a no-name intervalometer and wanders into the night:

"In conclusion I am at the bottom of a steep learning curve but I was impressed at the performance of the X-E1 and want to explore the technique further. I realise I have to be aware of battery live so kept a battery on charge for quick change over. Initially I thought changing the battery would ruin the lapse as the camera would change position but I have decided that the camera sitting in a single stationary position isn’t interesting.

I think I have the post production side of things covered so the next step is to master the capture process and then it is time to find some interesting locations to do a proper testing. If you have explored this technique and have any tips please post away in the comments, all advice would be greatly . . . read more

RIP: UK Photographer Danny Beath wins Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year award on the day of his funeral.

This is just sad :( Danny Beath, died in hospital on Monday after collapsing outside his home in Shrewsbury from a suspected heartattack. As a self-taught photographer, Danny received the Shropshire Photographic Society’s Photographer of the Year accolade nine times and recently won a Sunday Times landscape photography competition. He also won the first Wild Shropshire photography competition last year. Danny became interested in photography whilst studying for a PhD at Aberdeen University, he joined the university camera club to pursue his interest. Daily Mail reports:

"A photographer was revealed as the winner of a prestigious national award for a stunning picture of a lightning strike - on the day of his funeral. Talented Danny Beath, 52, had entered the Travel Photo of the Year competition seven times before but never won despite making the finals. His incredible image of a storm over poppy fields in Blackstone Nature Reserve in the Severn Valley netted him first prize in this year's contest. . . . read more

Lens Flare? Naah, this is angel sighting, plain and simple.

Jenny Smedley is (oh boy) among other things, 'a past life therapist, an angel consultant, and UK's leading expert in the subject of past life'. Also, according to her, she is known by many people (not me, promise) as 'the Angel Whisperer'. Where others see a typical lens/filter flare, she-and her readers, see angel sightings, check out the hilarious (or sad, depending on your viewpoint on modern society) details in the screenshot to the left. 

Sighted by Reddit user Ashdot1111 . . . read more

Battle of the bokeh: Kai W checks out the full frame 35mm royalty, and some models too.

After Top Gear gets canceled, because of Jeremy's nth remark for verbally abusing minorities/foreigners/the Welch or whatever, I hope we'll see Jezza and Kai doing a Top Photo Gear program together, with explosions, tanks (lots of optics in these nowadays) and even more explosions!

Back to reality now, this time Kai gets his hands on the crème de la crème of 35mm lense$: The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM, and the underdog that ate them all for breakfast, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM:

"The Battle of the Bokeh is back and we're looking at some fast 35mm lenses from Canon, Nikon and Sigma with the Canon 35mm 1.4L, Nikon 35mm G AF-S. This time, however, it's up to you to vote, and the video shows you the results of the blind-bokeh test. Which lens has the best bokeh?"

You just uploaded your picture and gave away your rights to it? Here's a site to help you go through the maze of TOS mines of the corporate sites.

Most of us use Flickr, Twitpic, Instagram, Smugmug, Facebook and the like, but how often do we read the extensive terms of services of each site? And even if we Do read them, there;s no guarantee we'll understand what's in front of us, unless we're law school graduates. The "terms of Service - Didn't read' initiative is here to help us, their motto is “I have read and agree to the Terms' is the biggest lie on the web.  We aim to fix that."  . . . read more

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with inbuilt 1.4 teleconverter hands-on review by Joshua Holko.

This is the second Canon lens to employ a built-in converter, after the FD 1200mm f5.6 that debuted way back at the Los Angeles Olympics. I wonder why Nikon did not resort to such a solution for its new 800mm f/5.6 lens, since the size of the dedicated 1.25x converter is truly diminutive in comparison to the lens body anyway. Back to the Canon 200-400mm, that has got to be one of the most expected pro lenses from Canon in ages, Joshua finds it to be very sharp wide open, 'at least as sharp as the EF 300mm f2.8 L IS lens, or even the EF 400mm f2.8 L IS lens.

The lens is a pre-production model, and it is mounted on a 1DX body, but at these huge lens sizes its rather the other way around. Kudos to Canon if that will be proven in a more controlled testing environment. Furthermore, we get to see the 1.4x converter in action, and Joshua finishes the review by assuring us that a 2.0x tele converter CAN be used with this lens, with only a minimal sacrifice in image quality, producing a 1120mm f8.0 max tele range!  . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII review at Camera Stuff Review: This is an absolute winner. It is a mechanically very solid lens, meeting the highest optical standards at all focal lengths and apertures.

Ivo Freriks tests the lens with a Nikon D800E Dslr Body:

"The resolution of this lens is amazing. On a D800E (on which the performance of the lens comes out very well), we even scored over 3500 line pairs per picture height at maximum aperture at all focal lengths. You do not come across this often. The corners remain behind a bit at f/2.8 (well - 1500 LP/PH is still a very good result) but already after stopping down 2 stops, you get above 4000 LP/PH. This lens draws sharper than many professional fixed focus lenses!" . . . read more

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH POWER OIS lens review by Lindsay Dobson

Cheap kit lenses need some review lovin' too, and Lindsay provides plenty of that. The pan(a)cake with the double vision was tested with a Olympus E-M5 camera:

"So why do I need another “kit lens” when I already have one? Good question. And the answer is convenience. Whilst the 12-50 can make a genuine addition to my casual (non-professional) kitbag thanks to its high degree of weather sealing and it’s genuinely useful macro capability, it is nevertheless a few inches long and when connected to a camera it isn’t pocketable. If I have the Panasonic Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH lens on my OMD instead, I immediately have what could reasonably be classified as a compact system, which will fit in a large coat pocket or in a make-up bag which can be placed inside my handbag. And this is the key thing about the 14-42 pancake zoom. I don’t know if it’s optically any better than any other variable aperture kit zoom (I . . . read more

Fujifilm X-E1 Versus X100 comparison at TR, and the winner is...the Olympus E-M5?

Well, that was distracting, but the darn OM-D keeps turning up in places it shouldn't. This time its in Tech Radar's Fujifilm 2 flagship cameras comparison, and their place among the top competitors, the NEX7, the GH3, and the E-M5. Things look pretty normal until the Raw performance comparison charts. Also noteworthy, the rather unimpressive results given by the GH3:                                                                  

"The signal to noise ratios of the TIFF images (after conversion from raw) from the Fuji X-E1 don't compare quite as well for signal to noise ratio as the JPEGs did, coming behind the Olympus OM-D at all sensitivities and below the Panasonic GH3 at ISO 200 and 400. The Fuji X-E1 beats the Panasonic at higher sensitivities though, and beats the Sony NEX-7 andFuji X-Pro1." . . . read more

Sony RX1 review by Joshua Waller at EPZ: Without doubt, the Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is capable of delivering stunning images.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX1 Digital filters

"The Sony Cyber-shot RX1 is currently unique in being the only compact camera with fixed lens and full-frame sensor. Due to the expense of developing a camera like this, it's likely to be unique in its field for a long time to come, with APS-C sized sensor (or smaller) compact cameras being developed in greater numbers. . . . read more

Sony NEX-5R review ay Ali Jennings at the Tech Radar: The Sony NEX-5R is not only a refinement of the Sony NEX-5N, but a significant upgrade.

Ali tested the camera with the 18-55mm kit zoom lens:

"The Sony NEX-R5 shows how compact system cameras are really coming into their own. The design doesn't have to rely on retro chic, but instead uses modern research and development to create a compact body shape that both fits the electronics and also feels comfortable to hold. The merging of the tilting screen design from the Sony NEX-F3 and the control dial feature of the Sony NEX-7 make this a very user-friendly camera for both the beginner and intermediate photographer. . . . read more

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 prime lens review at Camera Labs: This is superb performance made all the more remarkable by the tiny dimensions and relatively affordable price tag.

Gordon Laing is the reviewer, and he took the unusual step to use the Panasonic GX1 as the test camera: 

"The Olympus 45mm f1.8 is arguably one of the best lenses for the Micro Four Thirds system, whether you're using an Olympus or Panasonic body. This lens is so small and light you'll hardly know you're carrying it around, yet is capable of delivering industry-leading performance with pin-sharp details across the entire frame right into the extreme corners. With an effective focal length of 90mm and a maximum aperture of f1.8, the lens is ideal for portrait work and can deliver sharp detail on the subject with a satisfyingly blurred background behind it. Likewise for closer subjects down to the nearest focusing . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 G ED VR lens review at PhotoZone: An excellent lens that performs on a very high level, but Nikon should have included the tripod collar.

Markus Stamm tests the lens with a Nikon D3X Dslr body:

"The Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4 VR is an excellent lens that performs on a very high level. Resolution is generally excellent in the image center and very good at the borders and corners. Distortion is a bit on the high side at the long end of the zoom range, while vignetting and CAs are well controlled. The bokeh is quite smooth. The build quality is excellent, it's a bit annoying though that Nikon does not include the tripod collar with the lens. Thanks to a silent-wave drive the AF is silent and very fast. The new third-generation VR module is impressive and works very well. Which in summary means: a highly recommended lens." . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED macro lens review by Ming Thein: '...of all of the lenses I own, it’s the one that’s been with me the longest"

Ming Thein mostly uses this lens with the Nikon D800E Dslr body:

"I actually don’t have much to say about resolution and optics: what do you expect? It’s a macro lens. There’s almost zero distortion or field curvature, and nothing funny going on with the focal plane. Sharpness is already excellent at f2.8, though with the D800E you’ll probably have to go to f4 or f5.6 to hit peak resolving power across the frame. Note that diffraction softening will set in by around f13 or so with the D800E; I try not to go past f16 unless I absolutely have no choice. That said, you can get away with f22 on the 12MP FX cameras if you need to.

Something I’ve been asked in the past is why I don’t use the 105/2.8 VR instead for greater working distance; the answer is that for the kind of work I do, the 60 actually holds several advantages. Firstly, I don’t need as many extension tubes to achieve higher magnifications*; secondly, the lens itself has . . . read more

Fujifilm X-E1 review by Christopher Snow at Digital Camera Info: "The Fujifilm X-E1 is all of the fun and none of the frivolity of the X-Pro1"

"The X-Pro1 was 2012’s most fun new camera, but if you’re one of those people that thinks saving money is fun too, Fujifilm has the answer. By reducing the X-E1’s footprint and stripping out the novel—but unhelpful—hybrid viewfinder, the company has shaved $400 off the X-Pro1’s already-reduced price tag, all without sacrificing much of that model’s stellar performance.

For better or worse, our most enthusiastic praise is reserved not for the camera itself, but for the new kit lens. When the X-mount debuted, Fujifilm showed a commitment to high quality glass with its first three prime offerings, but many wondered if this performance would extend to a zoom lens. Now we know the answer. The X-E1’s 18-55mm kit lens is almost exactly as sharp as the XF 35mm f/1.4, which is really quite amazing for a zoom lens. We only wish the . . . read more

Wide-angle head-to-head: Sigma 14mm f2.8 EX Aspherical HSM vs Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/15 comparison at DXO Mark

This is a two-in-two test, the DXO Mark labs check out the Zeiss lens performance difference between Canon and Nikon mounts (5D Mark II vs D3x) and then pits the Zeiss versus the Sigma: 

"In DxO Mark’s testing the quality of the Zeiss lenses over the Sigma lens is very clear. A DxO Mark score of 17 for the Sigma lens is an OK score for a lens with this extreme wide angle: there are few wider corrected lenses on the market to cover full frame 35mm so if the lens were considered in isolation the score might possibly be accepted as a reasonable consequence of the focal length. However, when you look at the other lenses in this category the score does not look quite as good. Zeiss on the other hand have a shining DxO Mark score of 23 for their Nikon version, the highest for any lens of 20mm or wider with a Nikon FX mount (the Canon version scores a creditable 21). The Zeiss lens is much more expensive, nearly 4 times the price of the Sigma, so there will . . . read more

Metabones Speed Booster first impressions at DPReview: "Image quality is very impressive, with results that compare exceptionally well against a full frame sensor. You do pay a small price in terms of corner softness and CA."

This evaluation by the Diallo & Butler duo focuses more on stills photography rather than video, and this is why we like it. Nice explanation of the focal reducer technology, and with/without the SpeedBooster adapter side-by-side pics. . . . read more

System Camera Production increased 34% in volume, 43% in value during 2012, compact camera production shows further decline.

japan system camera production increased during 2012

A few notes: These numbers come from CIPA, Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association, and as thus, production numbers from China and Korea are not included. However, seeing the onslaught of Chinese branded digicams in markets everywhere, my guess is that China's compact camera output has not declined at all, and since Samsung's latest earning report stated a slight volume increase too, the Cassandras predicting the imminent demise of the compact camera segment can just pack up and go home. Also, the biggest increase in volume occurred in Europe, maybe photography is a good outlet for austerity related stress :)

Chris Cheesman at Amateur Photographer reports:
Production of interchangeable-lens cameras rose 34% in 2012 and shipments of lenses broke through the 30 million unit mark, Japanese trade figures have revealed. But total digital camera shipments – including compacts – dropped 15%, according to Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA).

. . . read more

Tamron 14-150mm F/3.5-5.8 Di III VC vs. Olympus M.Zuiko 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 vs. Panasonic Vario HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH MEGA OIS hands-off comparison.

micro 4/3 superzoom shootout, tamron vs olympus vs panasonic

For some reasons only known to Tamron's managers, the company chooses to enter the micro 4/3 format with a 14-150mm zoom, closely matching the popular Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4.0-5.6 and the elder Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH MEGA OIS lenses.

Now, if they had bothered to shave a millimeter or two off the wide end, it would have been really exciting news, but as it stands now, the micro 4/3 mount is served by no less than 11 zoom lenses all sharing the 14mm wide end. Is there enough playing field for the New kid?  . . . read more

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