Leica SL

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Leica-SLIt’s a Leica. And it’s a mirrorless camera. Not a rangefinder, a mirrorless camera. Oh, and it’s full-frame.

Aimed at pro photographers, made in Germany, and sporting a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor. This just gets more and more interesting.

Developed for the Leica SL, the camera’s electronic viewfinder is the first to feature Leica EyeRes technology. The company says it has a latency time below the threshold of perception, a resolution of 4.4 million pixels and a magnification reminiscent of a medium-format camera. The EyeRes viewfinder is activated simply by looking through it. In addition, the camera also has a nearly 3-inch back panel display with a viewing angle of up to 170° and touchscreen menu navigation.

The Maestro II series processor and 2 GB of buffer memory make it possible to capture consecutive exposures at rates of up to 11 frames per second at full resolution, and 4K video with a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Pictures can be saved simultaneously to an SD memory card as both a JPEG and DNG. The company claims the camera achieves the best performance currently possible in the professional camera class.

The full-frame sensor is said to deliver impressive dynamic range, excellent contrast rendition, exceptional sharpness, the highest resolution, and noise-free images in almost all lighting conditions.

Shutter speeds range from 30 minutes to 1/8000 sec. ISO maximum is 50,000.

While there are new lenses for the camera, see below, it is also designed to use Leica M lenses, supporting all their functions.

Videos can be recorded in UHD at 30 frames per second or even in Cine4K at 24 frames per second. In full HD, the camera records video at up to 120 frames per second and makes use of the entire sensor area.

As soon as the camera is in video mode, the display shows only relevant information for video recording, such as safe area, aspect ratio, zebra function, or the recording level of the microphone. An optional audio adapter allows you to connect an external microphone and the audio recording level can be set without accessing the menu. Videos can be output in 4:2:2 10-bit format in 4K resolution over HDMI 1.4.

Body components machined from solid aluminum and precisely engineered seals around controls and in the lenses provide optimum protection against dust, moisture and splashes, says Leica. Integrated ultrasonic sensor cleaning removes dust and dirt from the sensor. The glass covering the back panel display is extremely scratch-resistant and features an anti-reflex coating.

Now, those new lenses. Leica says they are distinguished by superior optical and mechanical precision. The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH. is the standard zoom lens in the system’s lens portfolio. There’s also the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8–4 and the Leica Summilux-SL 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. Further Leica SL lenses will follow, says the company.

All lenses for the Leica T camera can be used without an adapter. In addition, appropriate adapters allow Leica S, M, and R system lenses and lenses from other manufacturers to be mounted on the Leica SL.

The Leica SL body will be on sale mid-November. The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH. zoom lens will be available at the same time. The Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 1:2,8-4/90-280mm ASPH will be available in the second quarter of 2016, and the Leica Summilux-SL 1:1,4/50mm ASPH. will be available Q4 of 2016.


Nikon D600

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The rumours have been flying, and now we do, indeed, have Nikon’s smallest, lightest, and most affordable full-frame DSLR, the D600.

Aimed at photo enthusiasts, Nikon says it has pro-grade photo and video features with wireless sharing and capture capabilities.

We have a newly developed high-resolution CMOS sensor and Expeed 3 image processing engine.

The 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor (35.9 x 24 mm) provides a wide ISO range from 100-6400 (expandable to 50-25,600) for maximum low-light flexibility yielding clean images with minimal noise and accurate colour, says the company.

The full ISO range can also be used while capturing HD video in challenging light.

The processor delivers stills and Full HD (1080p) videos that exhibit faithful colour reproduction and tonal range throughout the frame, notes Nikon.

The D600 offers Nikon’s Scene Recognition System and 2,016-pixel RGB sensor.

The camera has a 39-point AF system with the new MultiCAM 4800FX AF module. This AF array offers AF modes to let users select a single point, continuous AF, Dynamic AF, or use 3D tracking to keep pace with a moving subject throughout the frame. The system features nine cross-type sensors while seven AF points are fully functional when using compatible Nikkor lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8.

Nikon claims the D600 is ready to shoot in 0.13 seconds, with a 0.052 second shutter release.

The camera is capable of bursts of images at 5.5 fps at full resolution with full AF.

Dual SD card slots are compatible with the latest SDXC and UHS-1 high-speed standards.

The optical viewfinder offers 100 percent frame coverage.

The D600 offers several scene modes and features, including one-touch access to Picture Control functions through a new dedicated button. Photographers can also shoot images in High Dynamic Range (HDR).

Video? Oh yes. Full HD at varying frame rates and resolutions including 1080p video at 30, 25 or 24p, and 720p video at 60, 50 and 30p. When shooting HD video at the highest quality setting, up to 20 minutes can be recorded, or up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds in normal quality.

The LCD is 3.2-inches with automatic brightness control.

There’s full manual control of exposure, and you can switch between FX and DX-format (1.5X) at Full HD for a telephoto boost or to adjust depth of field.

Users can opt to focus manually, or use full-time AF while recording. Vdeographers have the ability to capture audio with the onboard microphone, or record stereo audio externally using the mic input. Audio can be monitored through the headphone jack and levels can be displayed on the LCD with peaking.

In addition to the ability to play back HD video and images through the HDMI terminal, users are also able to experience pro-grade video features in the D600. For monitoring and streaming applications, the image can be displayed on the LCD screen while simultaneously shown on another monitor through the HDMI, regardless of whether they are shooting data.

The D600 adds the ability to transfer uncompressed videos via the HDMI connection, which can then be routed to a digital recorder or similar device.

An optional wireless adapter allows users to connect wirelessly to their D600. When connected, users are able to share images taken with the D600 through their mobile device to their social circles, as well as send and download images from their camera to a compatible device. The adapter also allows users to remotely fire the D600’s shutter from up to 15.24 m (50 ft) away.

A built-in Speedlight commander can control multiple Speedlights. The camera can also control up to two individual Speedlight groups.

Okay, a smaller and lighter camera. Does that mean a lesser camera? Doesn’t look like it. The body of the D600 is sealed with gaskets for resistance against dirt and moisture. The camera is built with a magnesium alloy top and rear construction. The shutter has been tested for 150,000 cycles, and sensor cleaning is also employed.

The battery is rated for approximately 900 shots. The optional MB-D14 Multi Power Battery Pack extends the grip for comfort and can effectively double the battery capacity when using two batteries.

To avoid accidental engagement, the shutter button has been recessed, while the Mode Dial can be locked.

The Nikon D600 is scheduled to be available September 18 at a suggested $2,179.95 for the body only or $2,749.95 for the body with the AF-S Nikkor 24-85 mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens.

Sony α99 DSLR

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The successor to Sony’s flagship α900 DSLR, the α99 features a new 24.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor, a unique dual phase-detect AF system, translucent mirror, and a number of other technologies.

The camera combines the Exmor CMOS sensor with a highly advanced BIONZ image processing engine and a newly-developed separate multi-segment optional low-pass filter. Assisted by an all-new front-end LSI, the BIONZ engine can process massive amounts of image signal data from the sensor at very high speeds, says Sony. Together with a powerful new area-specific noise reduction (NR) algorithm, it allows to the camera to achieve 14-bit RAW output, rich gradation and low noise.

The processor also gives the α99 a maximum sensitivity range (in expanded sensitivity mode) as wide as ISO 50 – 25600, a range of nine stops.

The camera can shoot a burst of images at up to 6 fps at full resolution or up to 10 fps in Tele-zoom high speed shooting mode.

The camera’s main focusing system – a 19-point AF system with 11 cross sensors – is complemented by a 102-point focal plane phase-detection AF sensor overlaying the main image sensor. Using translucent mirror technology, light is passed to both phase-detection AF sensors simultaneously and continually, measuring subject distance and position more completely than other cameras, according to Sony. This Dual AF System permits ultra-fast, accurate autofocusing that maintains tracking focus even if a subject temporarily leaves the frame.

The AF-D (depth) continuous autofocus mode utilizes the Dual AF system for wider and more dense coverage of the frame, significantly improving AF performance with fast or erratically moving subjects against complex backgrounds.

During movie shooting, AF Duration control provides reliable depth focusing information and ensures that the camera maintains proper focus on its subject when objects or people cross the focal plane.

A new AF range control allows photographers to manually select foreground and background distance to which the AF system will not respond, especially useful for shooting fast moving sports or animals through a nearby wire mesh or in front of a complex background.

The camera is said to be the first full-frame DSLR to offer Full HD 60p/24p progressive video recording to meet AVCHD Ver 2.0 specifications and Full-time Continuous AF Movie mode, allowing smooth, non-stop tracking of moving subjects. Other enhancements include real-time Full HD video output via HDMI, and uninterrupted ‘dual-card’ recording using both of the camera’s media slots.

While shooting video, a new silent, programmable multi-control dial on the front of the camera body allows silent adjustment of common settings during shooting including exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, aperture and much more.

An audio level display and adjustable audio record levels are joined by a headphone jack for accurate in-the-field monitoring.

Additionally, the multi-interface shoe provides balance audio input for the optional XLR-K1M adaptor kit, which adds a high-quality mono shotgun microphone and pro-standard XLR connections for dependable audio acquisition.

The camera’s XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder offers 100% frame coverage on the viewfinder screen with what Sony says is exceptional brightness, contrast, clarity and resolution. The electronic viewfinder will also maintain a 100% field of view with DT lenses optimized for APS-C sensor cameras, converting the angle of view automatically for image recording and display.

A three-way tiltable XtraFine LCD display offers WhiteMagic technology to boost overall screen brightness. It’s especially useful for framing and shooting with the LCD in outdoor, sunny conditions.

The alpha99 is the world’s lightest 35 mm full-frame interchangeable-lens digital camera, Sony claims. Constructed of high-rigidity magnesium alloy panels, it weighs 733g (without lens and battery). Translucent mirror technology, which eliminates the need for a full-frame moving mirror mechanism and heavy glass pentaprism, also contributes to the extremely light design.

The camera is weather-sealed and all buttons and controls have been ruggedized.

A redesigned shutter block has been tested to approximately 200,000 releases.

The camera’s ergonomics include a re-designed grip and differentiated designs of several switches and buttons for intuitive fingertip operation. A new exposure mode dial lock prevents accidental rotation, and a newly-developed Quick Navi Pro interface gives quick, intuitive one-handed access to common shooting parameters and controls.

The new model can also be operated via remote PC connection. Supported functions include switching between still and video shooting plus automatic transfer of still images from camera to PC for an improved studio workflow.

The Sony α99 is expected to be available in October.

Sony Cyber-shot RX1

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A full-frame compact camera? Believe it.

It’s the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and it has a full-frame 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor and Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 35 mm f/2.0 fixed lens in a surprisingly small and lightweight camera body.

The camera measures approximately 4.5 inches wide by 3 inches tall (let’s call that 11.4 x 7.6 cm) and weighs slightly more than a pound (which is about 454 g), which makes it significantly smaller and lighter than any full-frame DSLR.

The Carl Zeiss lens not only delivers spectacular image quality all the way to the edges of each frame, says Sony, but it also incorporates a near-silent in-lens shutter and is far more compact than comparable lenses of interchangeable design.

The camera also features full manual control options and an intuitive user interface.

The full-frame is more than double the area of APS-C sensors commonly found in much bulkier DSLR cameras, and is capable of resolving the finest image details and most subtle textures for rich colour reproduction and an impressively broad dynamic range, says the company.

The large sensor size also boosts the camera’s sensitivity range to ISO 100 – 25600, with the option to shoot as low as ISO 50 in expanded sensitivity mode.

ISO settings as high as 102400 can be achieved using Multi Frame Noise Reduction. This allows the camera to capture natural, low noise handheld images in near-dark conditions without needing flash.

The Carl Zeiss lens – which Sony terms a “premium” lens – features newly designed optics including an Advanced Aspherical (AA) glass element, which is said to contribute to the camera’s extremely compact dimensions without sacrificing optical performance.

A macro switching ring on the lens barrel instantly shortens the minimum focusing distance to approximately 20 cm (from image plane).

The RX1 also features an enhanced BIONZ processing engine that rapidly handles data from the sensor and also powers full-resolution burst shooting at up to 5 fps.

The processor can output image data in 14-bit RAW format.

Dedicated lens rings allow for fingertip control of focus and aperture, while a DSLR-style Focus mode dial on the front of the camera enables easy switching between focus modes.

Top-mounted exposure compensation and mode dials are strategically placed for simple access and operation, while custom function and AEL buttons on the back panel are also easily accessible.

The new camera features a Quick Navi mode for fast, intuitive adjustment of camera settings. Sony says this is especially useful when using the camera with an optional viewfinder.

A memory recall (MR) mode is accessible via the mode dial so photographers can store and instantly recall up to three sets of camera settings.

Other refinements include an MF Assist function that magnifies a portion of the image while framing to simplify fine focus adjustments, as well as a Peaking function that highlights sharply-focused areas of the image on screen.

Additionally, the RX1 features By Pixel Super Resolution digital zoom technology, which allows for magnification of image size without sacrificing pixel count. This is said to deliver far higher quality results than achievable with conventional digital zooms.

A Smart Teleconverter function crops a central portion of the image sensor, boosting effective magnification by 1.4x or 2x, for an effective 49 mm or 70 mm focal length. And with the high pixel count on that full-frame sensor, you should still get generous amounts of fine detail.

The RX1 can capture high-quality, low-noise Full HD movie footage at a choice of 60p or 24p (progressive) frame rates. There’s a full complement of P/A/S/M exposure modes during video shooting.

The new camera also features 13 different Creative Styles for fine-tuning images, plus a wide range of Picture Effect treatments. It has Auto HDR and D-Range Optimizer, bracket shooting (Exposure, DRO or White Balance) and Auto HDR shooting modes, and there’s a Digital Level Gauge that indicates camera pitch and camera roll on the LCD screen for straight, even landscape and architectural shots.

The camera’s Multi Interface Shoe (aka hotshoe) accepts a range of accessories. Options include a high-quality OLED XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF which allows for even greater manual focusing precision as well as an external optical viewfinder featuring Carl Zeiss optics. Also available is a thumb grip.

The Cyber-shot RX1 is expected to be available in November. Expect it to be priced well above the level of any point and shoot you’ve come across before, and more than most DSLRs, for that matter.