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Manfrotto launches secure backpack with concealed rear opening

Published on May 10, 2016 by in News

Accessory manufacturer Manfrotto has launched a new backpack that hides the opening of its main camera compartment between the bag and the person carrying it. The Advanced Rear backpack's main compartment zipper is between the shoulder straps on the back side of the bag, so that when it is being carried no one can open it from behind.

Manfrotto says that the lower part of the bag is big enough for a professional DSLR along with three wide aperture zooms as well as accessories such as flash units. The camera compartment in this lower section is removable and comes with its own zipped cover so items can be stored when the rest of the bag is being used for something else.  The top section can be used for more accessories or personal belongings.

An additional pocket is suitable for a 13in laptop, a tablet and documents up to A4 in size. A tripod can be attached via the tripod pocket, and a cover is built-in to protect against rain and dust. The company says that the pack is a suitable size to carry as hand luggage on most airlines.

The Manfrotto Advanced Rear backpack costs $159.99/£119.95. For more information visit the Manfrotto website.

Press release:

MANFROTTO PRESENTS: Manfrotto Advanced Rear Backpack

Manfrotto, world leader in the photography, imaging equipment and accessories industry, announces the launch of the new Manfrotto Advanced Rear Backpack.
The Advanced Rear Backpack can be used as a camera backpack, a laptop backpack, or just as a protective camera case.

Protective for photographers
Featuring the Manfrotto Protection System, the lower part of the bag is dedicated to holding photographic equipment, and will safely hold a professional DSLR camera body with up to 3 lenses. The zip for the camera compartment is hidden on the back of the bag, giving maximum security to your equipment. The camera compartment is completely removable, meaning the bag can be transformed into a spacious daypack.

Practical for travellers
The new Manfrotto Advanced Rear Backpack features plenty of space for personal belongings when you are travelling. The front pocket can store a 13” laptop, A4 documents, 10” tablet and small book and can be opened separately without affecting your camera equipment. The side pocket is suitable for a notebook and water bottle and the upper compartment can contain other documents and personal items. The zips can also be locked for further security.

The bag comes with a dedicated tripod compartment, a side pocket perfect for a small tripod and a branded rain cover to keep equipment protected in all weather conditions.

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Keeping the faith: Pentax K-1 video overview

Published on May 10, 2016 by in News

Pentax shooters have waited a long time to join the full frame club, and with the release of the K-1 DSLR that wait is finally over. But thanks to its 36MP sensor, some innovative features, and a very aggressive price point, the K-1 will likely appeal to photographers outside the Pentax sphere as well. We take a look at what makes this camera unique.

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RNI Flashback App Applies Film-Like Filters to iPhone Photos

Published on May 10, 2016 by in News

A dead-simple way to emulate the film look on digital photos

The RNI Flashback app automatically applies film-like filters to iPhone photos…
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Published on May 10, 2016 by in Fashion, Glamour


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The ultimate hiking partner? Sony’s RX10 III goes the distance

Published on May 10, 2016 by in News
Mount Rainier, captured from the trail up Mount Teneriffe, near North Bend in Washington State. ~200mm (equivalent), ISO 800. Still another 2 miles to go until lunch, and another 400mm to go before the RX10 III's maximum telephoto setting.

Sony's new Cyber-shot RX10 III might look a lot like the older RX10 II, but its lens is really something else. With an effective focal range of 24-600mm, the RX10 III is one of the most versatile cameras we've ever used. But focal range is only part of the story - it's optical quality that impresses us most. And boy, are we impressed.

Hiking with the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

A very short shooting experience by Barnaby Britton

Caveat: This is not a review, nor is it sponsored content. This is a shooting experience based largely on a single day of picture-taking, during a hike. Four miles up a mountain in the sunshine, four miles down in the dark. One memory card half-filled, one battery half-emptied. All shots were processed 'to taste' from Raw and all are un-cropped. Your mileage (both literal and figurative) may vary.

I've been searching for the ideal hiking camera for years. Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest I've tried and rejected DSLRs, fixed-lens primes, travel zooms, super-zooms and several iPhones. Recently, I've been packing my Ricoh GR II for its small size and sharp lens, but the lack of a viewfinder really limits its usefulness in some conditions.

The last time I brought a DSLR on a mountain hike I almost left it tucked under a rock on the trail, rather than drag it all the way up (that was the old, famously brutal Mailbox Peak trail, for any PNW natives reading this...).

Pretty good flare performance, considering the complex lens. This shot was slightly adjusted in ACR to bring out a little detail in the shadows. 24mm equivalent, ISO 100.

It's been a few years since I experimented with a superzoom compact camera, after a couple of bad experiences with sub-par lens performance. I've always liked the idea of them, but all too often I've been disappointed by the results in practice. These days, though, as my colleague Jeff likes to remind me, the good ones are actually pretty good.

OK, sure, but 'pretty good' for a super zoom is only 'OK, ish' by the standards of a shorter-lens compact or interchangeable lens camera, right? Well, that's what I thought, too. Until...

We knew the sensor is good from our experience of using the RX100 IV, but the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III's major selling point is its lens. And the lens in the RX10 III is, as far as I can tell, made of magic. I genuinely have no idea how Sony's engineers packed a 24-600mm equivalent lens of such high quality into a camera this small. It defies all reason. From wide-angle all the way to extreme telephoto, the RX10 III's lens delivers impressive results. Weirdly impressive.

As well as distant details, the RX10 III is capable of capturing sharp images of tiny things, very close to the camera. Like these wildflowers. 24mm equivalent, ISO 100.

Now, obviously I could take technically better shots with a DSLR and a fast zoom, or for that matter a prime lens compact like the GR II. Portraits with shallower depth of field, landscapes with critically better edge-to-edge sharpness and all the rest. But this past weekend a DSLR was out of the question. If I'm hiking up a mountain in 80+ degree weather, I'm traveling as light as possible. Most of the weight on my back this weekend was drinking water, and although it's a fairly chunky camera, the RX10 III was light enough to clip onto the shoulder strap of my backpack with one of these, without me noticing the weight too much over a seven-hour hike. 

Mount Teneriffe on a hot day is a pretty demanding hike, but the view from the top makes it worthwhile. 40mm equivalent, at ISO 100.

The Ricoh GR II is lovely, but I knew that from Mount Teneriffe we'd be looking at three peaks - Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Glacier Peak, as well as Mount Si and Mailbox, a little closer at hand. So 28mm just wasn't going to do the job. We timed our hike so that the sun would be go down shortly after we summited, and I knew that I wanted a nice, closeup (ish) shot of Mount Rainier's famous purple glow (see the picture at the top of this page).

Exposed for the highlights, it was easy to brighten shadow areas in this shot using Adobe Camera Raw. 24mm, ISO 100.

You can't really see here, but just where the blade of grass meets the horizon to the right of my subject, is Seattle's distinctive skyline. See below for a shot taken from the same vantage point at 600mm.  

A lot of the prejudice about long zoom compact cameras comes from a misunderstanding of how to interpret their lens performance, especially at the long end. Atmospheric distortion and haze from moisture, pollen and pollutants will reduce the sharpness of any telephoto lens, especially on warm days.

So if your telephoto shots look like they were taken through a frosted bathroom window, the lens might not be the culprit. On the other hand, if everything in your pictures looks like someone went over the edges with a magenta highlighter pen - well, that's the lens.

Seattle at sunset, from almost 40 miles away. 600mm equivalent, at ISO 100. Moderate 'dehaze' applied in Adobe Camera Raw. 

I had no such issues with the RX10 III (which was reassuring, since it costs $1500) but as always, I was shooting Raw, so what little fringing I did see in my images was easy to correct. Likewise, Photoshop's 'dehaze' control in Camera Raw came in very useful to bring back some clarity to images taken at the telephoto end of the RX10 III's lens. 

Mount Baker, seen through more than 90 miles of pollen-laden air, just before sunset. This shot didn't require quite so much dehazing as the last one. 600mm equivalent, ISO 250.

During a day's shooting during which my hiking partner and I walked a roundtrip of about 13 miles up and down a 4500ft peak, the RX10 III nailed virtually every shot. And that's everything from a knee-level picture of some tiny wildflowers a few centimeters away from the lens, to a 600mm capture of Mount Baker, 90 miles away from my vantage point and half lost in haze (above).

We hiked about half of the trail back to the car in the dark. For the last half mile we were accompanied by an owl. This grab shot was taken at ISO 12,800, by the light of our headlamps. At 95mm equivalent, there's no motion blur at 1/15sec.

From these sunset landscapes to ISO 12,800 snapshots of an owl that followed us back to our car at the trailhead, every time I looked at something and went 'oooh' and tried to take a picture of it, the RX10 III - and its insanely wide-ranging lens - got me the shot that I wanted. 

Hiking through the forest just before sunset. 50mm equivalent at ISO 6400.

We're working on a more scientific assessment of the RX10 III's lens right now, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy our updated samples gallery (now with Raw files!).

I've only been using the RX10 III for a few days, and I haven't even shot a second of video yet. There are plenty of things I don't like about it, too (confusing menus, clunky ergonomics, no touchscreen, laggy GUI, the aluminum zoom and focus rings scratch the minute you look at them) but somehow, despite all that, I'm already planning next week's hike.

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Century-Old Statue Destroyed By Selfie-Shooting Tourist

Published on May 9, 2016 by in News
Destroyed Statue by Selfie Taker

Ugh, this is a bummer

A century-old statue reportedly suffered a tragic fate at the hands of an idiot trying to take a selfie…
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JPEGmini Photoshop extension aims to top Adobe’s ‘save for web’

Published on May 9, 2016 by in News

Beamr, the software company behind the content-aware JPEGmini image compression application, has introduced an extension for Adobe Photoshop. Dubbing it the 'The Save For Web button Adobe should've made', the company claims the extension will save users time and produce better results than Adobe’s default Save For Web settings.

JPEGmini is an image compression package that analyzes individual sectors of an image and applies different degrees of compression to each sector according to its content. The designers claim that its compression results in no visible degradation of the image, but that it can reduce file sizes by up to 80% while 'preserving their full resolution and quality.' The smaller files save space on a hard drive and are also lighter for emailing and web hosting, according to the company.

The Photoshop extension comes as part of the JPEGmini Pro bundle, along with a plug-in for Lightroom, which costs $99. Photoshop CC 2015.1 is required to use the extension. For more information visit the JPEGmini website and read our test of a previous version of the software

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2016 Roundup: Interchangeable Lens Cameras $500-800

Published on May 9, 2016 by in News

The $500-800 category (based on US MSRP) features quite a few strong offerings, some of which should satisfy first-time camera buyers with easy-to-use interfaces and point-and-shoot style functionality. Others are aimed more at seasoned-enthusiasts, offering direct manual controls and high-end features.

At this price point, all of the cameras use either Four Thirds or larger APS-C-sized sensors and all can shoot Raw. And while a larger sensor can mean the potential for better image quality and more control over depth-of-field, the difference in size between APS-C and Four Thirds is not enormous. As such, small differences notwithstanding, the vast majority of cameras in this roundup have what we would consider to be very good image quality.

All of the cameras in this selection are reasonably small in size (compared to pricier ILCs), but the number and arrangement of control points, grip size, build quality and weight all vary quite a bit. As do the inclusion of features like like 4K video capture and in-body image stabilization.

Let's take a look at the currently available interchangeable lens cameras that fall into the $500-800 price range (give or take).

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Interview: Behind the Scenes with Getty Images Sport at the 2016 Summer Olympics

Published on May 9, 2016 by in News
Olympic Photography Getty Images

Ken Mainardis explains the massive task of photographing the Olympics—before the first picture is taken at Rio

Ken Mainardis, VP of Sport for Getty Images, explains how the agency is making sure the Olympics get the photographs they deserve…
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Pentax K-1’s Pixel Shift challenges medium-format dynamic range

Published on May 9, 2016 by in News

The Pentax K-1 has produced one of the best dynamic range performances we've yet seen. As our testing of the camera continues, we've been looking through the results of our Raw dynamic range test and we've been very impressed. And that's before we looked at the benefits brought by Pixel Shift Resolution mode.

Raw Dynamic Range

Exposure Latitude

In this test we look to see how tolerant of pushing exposure the Pentax K-1's Raw files are. We've done this by exposing our scene with increasingly lower exposures, then pushed them back to the correct brightness using Adobe Camera Raw. Examining what happens in the shadows allows you to assess the exposure latitude (essentially the dynamic range) of the Raw files.

Because the changes in this test noise are primarily caused by shot noise and this is mainly determined by the amount of light the camera has had access to, the results are only directly comparable between cameras of the same sensor size. However, this will also be the case in real-world shooting if you're limited by what shutter speed you can keep steady, so this test gives you an idea of the amount of processing latitude different formats give.

Compared with the Nikon D810, the Pentax does a great job. There's less chroma noise visible after a 5 and 6EV push, suggesting the Pentax is adding even less noise to its images than the already very good Nikon. It's a similar story when compared with the Nikon D750. The difference compared to the Sony a7R II is even greater, marking the K-1 as one of the best results we've ever seen.

The picture is slightly muddied by the D810 offering an ISO 64 mode, which can tolerate around 2/3EV more exposure before clipping, allowing longer shutter speeds that provide a shot noise benefit commensurate with that. This doesn't stop the K-1's result (from a camera with a list price roughly half as much) from being hugely impressive.

The difference is even bigger in Pixel Shift Resolution mode. Because it samples the scene multiple times, it effectively collects more total light, which means less shot noise. As you might expect, the result from the four 1/320 sec exposures used to create the 1/320 + 6EV image show similar levels of noise to the 1/80th second exposure shot in single image mode (a 2EV advantage), only with the greater sharpness that Pixel Shift mode brings. This lower noise means you can push the files to a tremendous degree - far beyond what the Nikon D810's ISO 64 mode allows.

ISO Invariance

A camera with a very low noise floor is able to capture a large amount of dynamic range, since it add very little noise to the detail captured in the shadow regions of the image. This has an interesting implication: it minimizes the need to amplify the sensor's signal in order to keep it above that noise floor (which is what ISO amplification conventionally does). This provides an alternate way of working in situations that would traditionally demand higher ISO settings.

Here we've done something that may seem counter-intuitive: we've used the same aperture and shutter speed at different ISO settings to see how much difference there is between shooting at a particular ISO setting (and using hardware amplification) vs. digitally correcting the brightness, later. This has the advantage that all the shots should exhibit the same shot noise and any differences must have been contributed by the camera's circuitry.

You can see all the K-1's full ISO Invariance results here and its pixel shift results here. The K-1 is as close to being ISO Invariant as we've seen, meaning there's no cost to shooting at ISO 100 and pushing the files later, rather than using a higher ISO. This means you can keep the ISO down and protect multiple stops worth of highlight information that would otherwise be pushed to clipping by the hardware amplification.

ISO invariance isn't an end in itself: there are cameras such as the Sony a7R II that are ISO variant because their higher ISO results are so good, not because their low ISO DR is deficient. However, a look at our standard test scene shows its high ISOs are extremely good, so you're not losing much in comparison with these dual-mode sensors. The K-1's files have a very high level of flexibility when it comes to processing.


In conclusion, the K-1 gives one of the best Raw dynamic range results we've ever seen, when shooting in single shot mode and absolutely outstanding results in circumstances where you can use the pixel shift mode. The multiple sampling of the same scene effectively gives a 2EV dynamic range boost, meaning it out-performs both the D810 and the 645Z by a comfortable margin. Less noise (though multiple captures) and multiple 14-bit values at every pixel mean it can give outstanding levels of DR wherever you can use the Pixel Shift mode.

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