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Upwardly mobile: Sony a6300 Review

Published on March 17, 2016 by in News

The Sony a6300 is the company's latest mid-range mirrorless camera. Like the a6000 it still offers 24MP resolution but the autofocus ability, video capability, build quality, viewfinder resolution and price have all been increased.

The most exciting change from our perspective is the a6300's new sensor. Although the pixel count remains the same, the a6300's sensor has a whopping 425 phase-detection AF points ranged across the sensor. The a6000 already offered one of the best AF systems in its class, when it comes to identifying and tracking subjects, so an upgrade in this area sounds extremely promising. The sensor is also built using newer fabrication processes that use copper wiring to help improve the sensor's performance and possibly contributing to the camera's slightly improved battery life.

The a6000 has been a huge success and has dominated its field to the extent that its combination of capability and price still looks impressive even as it enters the twilight of its career (Sony says it will live on, alongside the a6300*). That model represented a dip down-market for the series, with a drop in build quality and spec relative to the NEX-6 that preceded it. The a6300 corrects that course, and sees the model regain the high resolution viewfinder and magnesium-alloy build offered by the older NEX-6 (and the level gauge, which was absent from the a6000).

Key features:

  • 24MP Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 425 phase detection points to give '4D Focus' Hybrid AF
  • 4K (UHD) video - 25/24p from full width, 30p from smaller crop
  • 2.36M-dot OLED finder with 120 fps mode
  • Dust and moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC connection option
  • Built-in microphone socket

As with the previous 6-series E-mount cameras, the a6300 features a flip up/down 16:9 ratio screen. The shape of this screen hints at the 6300's intended uses: video shooting, as well as stills. The a6300's movie features have been considerably uprated. It not only shoots 4K (UHD) at 24p or 25p from its full sensor width (or 30p from a tighter crop). It also gains a mic socket, the video-focused Picture Profile system (which includes the flat S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves), and the ability to record time code.

This added emphasis on video makes absolute sense, since the camera's stills performance is likely to be competitive with the best on the market but its video capabilities trounce most of its current rivals. The a6300 not only includes focus peaking and zebra stripes but, if its on-sensor phase detection works well, the ability to re-focus as you shoot with minimal risk of focus wobble and hunting, should make it easier to shoot great-looking footage.

All this makes it hard to overstate how promising the a6300 looks. A latest-generation sensor can only mean good things for the camera's image quality and an autofocus system that moves beyond the performance of one of our benchmark cameras is an enticing prospect. Add to that excellent, well-supported video specifications, a better viewfinder and weather-sealed build, and it's tempting to start planning for the camera's coronation as King of the APS-C ILCs. Perhaps with only the price tag floating over proceedings, threatening just a little rain on that particular parade.

Specifications compared:

As well as comparing the a6300 with the a6000 as its predecessor/sister model, we'll also look at what you get if you save up a bit more money and opt for full-frame, rather than APS-C. We think at least some enthusiast users will find themselves making this decision, so are highlighting the differences.

  Sony a6000 Sony a6300 Sony a7 II
MSRP (Body Only) $650 $1000 $1700
Sensor size APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm) APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm) Full Frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm)
Pixel count 24MP 24MP 24MP
AF system Hybrid AF
(with 179 PDAF points)
Hybrid AF
(with 425 PDAF points)
Hybrid AF
(with 117 PDAF points)
Continuous shooting rate 11 fps 11 fps 5 fps
Screen 3" tilting 921k dot LCD 3" tilting 921k dot LCD 3" tilting 1.23m dot LCD
Viewfinder OLED 1.44M-dot OLED 2.36M-dot w/120 fps refresh option OLED 2.36M-dot
Movie Resolution 1920 x 1080 / 60p 4K 3840 x 2160 / 30p, 1920 x 1080 / 120p, 60p 1920 x 1080 / 60p
Image stabilization In-lens only In-lens only In-body 5-axis
Number of dials Two Two Three (plus Exp Comp.)
Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec 1/4000 sec 1/8000 sec
Built-in flash  Yes Yes No
Hot shoe Yes Yes Yes
Flash sync speed 1/160 sec 1/160 sec 1/250 sec
Battery life
(with EVF)
360 shots
(310 shots)
400 shots
(350 shots)
350 shots
(270 shots)
Weight (w/battery) 344 g (12.1 oz) 404 g (14.3 oz) 599 g (21.1 oz)
Dimensions 120 x 67 x 45 mm (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8 in.) 120 x 67 x 49 mm (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 in.) 127 x 96 x 60 mm (5 x 3.8 x 2.4 in.)

A hit-for-six, slam-dunk, home-run?

If it's successful in its attempts to step up from the performance of the a6000 then the a6300 could be sensational. However, there are three questions that we'd like to see addressed. The first relates to handling: why does a camera costing this much only have one dial that you can access without changing the position of your grip? The rear dial isn't the worst we've encountered, but at this price point, we'd usually expect to find a dial under the forefinger and another under the thumb while maintaining a shooting grip.

The second relates to lenses. Sony is bundling the a6300 with the 16-50mm power zoom that's far more notable for its convenience than its optical consistency, a move that's likely to raise the question of what other lenses to fit. Sony offers a handful of reasonably priced APS-C-specific prime lenses as well as some more expensive FE-compatible full-frame primes. However, in terms of standard zooms, you're currently limited to the inexpensive 16-50mm, the older 18-55mm at aftermarket prices or considerably more expensive options such as the 18-105mm F4 or the 16-70mm F4 Zeiss that costs around the same amount as the camera again. The success of Sony's full frame a7 cameras is only likely to improve third-party lens availability but there's a risk that Sony's focus will be on those full frame users for the foreseeable future.

Our final concern is the lack of joystick or touchscreen to re-position the AF point. This may be mitigated during stills shooting if the lock-on AF system works well enough (starting AF tracking and then recompose your shot in the knowledge that the AF point will stay where you want it), but it appears to be a real omission for refocusing while shooting video. The a6300 is improved over previous models, in that pressing the center button on the four-way controller toggles into AF point selection mode, a decision that's retained even if you turn the camera off and on again. We'll see how significant all these concerns turn out to be, as the review unfolds.

Price and kit options

 The 16-50mm power zoom is far more notable for its convenience than its optical consistency.

The a6300 body has a suggested retail price of $1000/£1000/€1250, with a 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom kit commanding an MSRP of $1150/£1100/€1400. This is a significant step up from the a6000's $650/$800 launch price and even an increase compared to the similarly well-built NEX-6's $750/$900 MSRP.

 Review History
17 March 2016 Intro, Specs, Body and Handling, Operations and Control and Studio Comparison published
22 March 2016 Updated studio scene images published (inc electronic-shutter and better lens)
31 March 2016 Video and Video Shooting Experience pages added
6 April 2016 Autofocus, Image Quality, Raw Dynamic Range and Conclusion published

*Unusually, the manufacturer's claim that it'll live on, alongside its apparent replacement model seems plausible. The differences in spec and price could allow them to sit fairly comfortably alongside one another, rather than the claim simply meaning 'we'll keep saying it's a current model until most of the unsold stock has gone, to avoid angering retailers.'

 
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Japan Camera Hunter Introduces Branded Film: JCH StreetPan 400 Black and White

Published on March 17, 2016 by in News
Japan Camera Hunter JCH Street Pan Black and White Film

An awesome old film stock has been reborn

Japan Camera Hunter now has a signature branded black and white film

 
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How CNN’s Bill Weir Is Integrating Travel Photography to Tell Stories on ‘The Wonder List’

Published on March 17, 2016 by in News

A long-time broadcast journalist mixes travel photography with traditional TV

Bill Weir mixes travel photography and documentary TV for his CNN TV show, The Wonder List

 
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Phase One introduces second XF feature update and pair of Schneider Kreuznach lenses

Published on March 17, 2016 by in News

The Phase One XF camera system received a significant update today, with improvements to its autofocus system and user interface along with additional shooting tools such as focus stacking and HDR. Two new 'Blue Ring' lenses have also been added, along with an update to the company's Capture One software.

The update provides Phase One's medium-format XF system with tools to help automate focus stacking and time-lapse capture, as well as a self timer and automated HDR bracketing. The system's HoneyBee Autofocus Platform also gets an update, claiming increased accuracy in low light, better acquisition in low contrast scenes and 'improved hand held success.'

In terms of hardware, the Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS F2.8 and 240mm LS F4.5 join the system, manufactured 'to Phase One's highest standards' with metal lens hoods and milled aluminum AF/MF selector rings.

Capture One Pro 9.1 gets an update geared mostly toward fashion and still life work, with new workflow and image editing tools, including tools to correct uneven skin tone.

The XF system firmware update is free and available now from Phase One. The Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS F2.8 will cost $5390/£4490; the 240mm LS F4.5 will cost $6490/£5690.


Press release:

Phase One Releases XF Camera System Feature Update #2 

Adding New XF Tools, Lenses & Software

COPENHAGEN, March. 17, 2016 – Phase One, the world’s leading medium format camera system provider, today released a major XF Camera System update.  With new tools, hardware, and software solutions Phase One continues to help top photographers create incredible images. The Ultimate Camera System continues to improve.

Feature Update #2 includes the addition of two new ‘Blue Ring’ lenses, along with the release of Capture One Pro 9.1, an update to the software used by 8 out 10 of the world’s best photographers (see today’s related software announcement).

The Phase One XF Camera System stands out against all other camera systems in terms of its performance and philosophy. The XF Camera System offers unprecedented long-term value thanks to its emphasis on modular firmware implementation and integrated, modular hardware designs, all of which permit continual feature enhancements. 

Phase One’s XF Camera System Update #2 introduces: 

Integrated Sequence photography: 

-- Focus Stack Tool provides automated camera focus control throughout a sequence of captured images; ?

-- Time-lapse Tool offers automated capture sequence at user set intervals;

-- HDR Sequence Tool enables an automated bracketing sequence with unique metadata tags for Capture One integration; 

-- Self Timer Delay provides a quick and easy, fully customizable timer option from one half to sixty seconds. ?

Additional updates to the XF Camera System: 

-- HoneyBee Autofocus Platform update: Improvements have been made to increase accuracy in low light conditions, improve focus in various low contrast scenarios, and to provide improved hand held success;

-- New OneTouch UI: Improved design and integration for intuitive, seamless operation on or off the XF Camera System;

Phase One Adds Two new members to its “Blue Ring” Lens family: ?

-- New Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS f/2.8; a technical masterpiece and an artistic vision. The 110mm offers a ‘normal’ focal length view in stunning technical precision.

-- New Schneider Kreuznach 240mm LS f/4.5; the essential Telephoto lens. The 240mm is a must for any lens lineup, offering the definitive telephoto look for any shot.

The new lenses feature a metal focusing ring and AF/MF selector ring of precision milled aluminum, as well as a metal lens hood with anti-skid rubber edging. The lenses are manufactured to Phase One’s highest standards, including improved quality assurance measures and tighter tolerances for better, more reliable lens performance. 

For all the details, please go to: www.phaseone.com/XF-Platform-Update or book a demo on: www.phaseone.com/demo 

Phase One Releases Capture One 9.1 with improved XF camera system integration ?   

Capture One 9 continues to grow alongside the XF Camera System.  The new tools available within the XF are well integrated to Capture One 9.1, providing excellent workflow advantages with proprietary image sequence tags.  For all the details, please see today’s related press release, “Phase One Releases Capture One Pro 9.1 for Photographers”

Availability and Pricing 

Firmware for the XF Camera System Feature Update #2 is free and available for download here: http://www.phaseone.com/Download/Camera-Firmware

New Schneider Kreuznach leaf shutter lenses are available through Phase One photography partners worldwide: www.phaseone.com/partners?

Prices for Schneider Kreuznach 110mm LS f/2.8 -- 4.490 EUR / 5.390 USD Prices for Schneider Kreuznach 240mm LS f/4.5 IF – 5.690 EUR / 6.490 USD 

Optimized for use with the XF Camera System, Capture One is free when used with Phase One hardware. Capture One 9.1. is free for all current owners of Capture One 9. Owners of Capture One 7 and 8 can upgrade to Capture One 9.1 for 99 USD / 99 EUR.

Phase One Releases Capture One Pro 9.1

Boosting Workflow Performance for Pro Photographers

COPENHAGEN, March 17, 2016 — Phase One, the world’s leading medium format camera system and professional imaging software provider today released Capture One Pro 9.1. Focus for this release has been the fashion and still life photographer segment, with special attention to the demands of fast-paced work environments.  

Known by professionals for its excellent tethering abilities, color management, and intuitive, user-definable, interface, Capture One Pro is used by photographers that demand exceptional image quality.

Capture One Pro 9.1 builds on the design objectives for greater quality, power and precision introduced last year with version 9.0 -- adding workflow accelerators and providing a superior integrated workflow. 

Capture One Pro 9.1 is free to existing 9 users. To see the Capture One Pro 9.1 feature set in action, visit: www.phaseone.com/nineone

Capture One Pro 9.1 highlights include:

New Workflow Tools

-- ‘Copy from last’ has been re-designed for rotation, allowing for easier workflow when doing overhead shots; 

-- ‘Copy from last’ has been re-designed to allow the inclusion of metadata, making shot-to-shot application of copyright and other metadata easier and more intuitive; 

-- Rotatable Live View -- live view can be orientated for still life work with next captures mirroring the live view orientation; 

-- Improved Shortcuts -- a number of extra shortcuts are added to aid the professional workflow – reset counters, layer controls, and “select by...” are added to help in all areas of the workflow. 

New Image Editing Tools

-- New Skin Tone Uniformity Tool for saturation and lightness;

-- New Color Editor Tools -- the Color Editor Skin Tone Tool adds uniformity sliders for saturation and lightness, helping to correct for uneven skin tones.

Asset management tools

-- Export/Output keyword restrictions -- control and limit the keyword libraries output to final file;

-- Sequence tool management for the XF Camera System (with Feature Update #2) -- Images captured via the XF’s new Focus Stack, HDR Sequence and Time-lapse Tools are automatically tagged and can be automated in to collections easily  

“Capture One Pro 9.1 is about quality of life improvements for working photographers,” said James Johnson, Phase One Software Product Manager. “We’ve been listening to our core user base and made some valuable additions to the application, designed ultimately to help with efficiency. In the ever increasingly competitive marketplace, production value is all about better workflow and less work.” 

 
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Canon Inc. to make Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation a subsidiary

 
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Leica announces price and availability of 90-280mm F2.8-4 zoom for SL camera

Published on March 16, 2016 by in News

Leica has announced the price of its second lens for the new SL system and says it will go on sale within the next couple of weeks. The Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm F2.8-4 is set to cost £4650/$6395, and will join the existing Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 ASPH standard zoom lens that was released with the SL body.

The 90-280mm F2.8-4 was announced at the same time the SL camera was launched, as was a Leica Summilux-SL 1:1, 4/50mm ASPH which is due for release at the end of this year – possibly around the time of the Photokina show in Germany.

This latest lens is claimed to offer very fast AF, as well as 3.5-stops of optical image stabilization. Sealed against the weather and dust, the lens features a closest focusing range of 0.6-1.4m and can manage a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:4.8, so Leica says it is suitable for close-up work as well as for shooting at normal distances.

Sales of the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm F2.8-4 will begin on 24th March. For more information see the Leica website.


Press release:

New telephoto zoom lens for the Leica SL-System:
LEICA APO-VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 versatile zoom lens designed for a wide range of situations, from close-ups to travel to sports photography 

Leica Camera has today announced the latest addition to the Leica SL-System lens portfolio: the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4.
 
Available from 24 March 2016, this fast telephoto zoom lens offers a range of focal lengths that follows on directly from the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH., which launched with the SL camera at the end of last year. Together, these two lenses cover focal lengths spanning 24 to 280mm, providing the versatility to shoot a multitude of subjects and situations – from close-ups to travel and sports photography.
 
The Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 is characterised by its incredibly high speed and offers outstanding optical and mechanical precision. Its integrated optical image stabilisation (OIS) enables exposure times to be increased by up to 3.5 stops, and guarantees shake-free hand-held photography even at telephoto settings.
 
Furthermore, this exceptional zoom lens features an entirely new design, with dual internal focusing that ensures extremely fast and quiet autofocus, and delivers consistently impressive imaging performance at distances from infinity to its close focusing limit.
 
With a close focusing distance of 0.6 metres at 90mm and 1.4 metres at 280mm, and a reproduction ratio of 1:4.8 to 1:5, this versatile lens is particularly useful for close-up photography.
 
As with all Leica lenses, the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 was designed and developed by Leica’s optical specialists in Wetzlar, Germany, combining outstanding optical expertise, cutting-edge technology and premium materials – guaranteeing the consistently high quality that Leica photographers have come to expect. The design of the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 comprises 23 elements (in seven moving groups), seven of which are made from glass with anomalous partial dispersion, ensuring minimal chromatic aberration. The movement of the two focusing elements is provided by newly developed drive technology with linear positioning of the lenses by stepping motors.
 
This means the overall length of the lens does not change when either focusing or zooming. In addition, the lens hood supplied with the lens suppresses undesirable reflections and stray light, and prevents the risk of flare.
 
Furthermore, the Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 is sealed against dust and splash-proof, to protect it from the elements.
 
The Leica APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 features a detachable tripod plate to connect the lens to a tripod for easier handling. Its ergonomic design makes the lens easier to carry by hand and also allows the attachment of a lens belt. A lockable rotating tripod collar ensures the lens can be fixed at any angle, and features detents every 90 degrees for rapid switching from landscape to portrait format.
 
The current Leica SL-System portfolio will be extended later this year with the addition of the Leica Summilux-SL 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. prime lens (available in Q4 2016). Furthermore, the extensive compatibility of the Leica SL-System gives photographers access to the majority of Leica lenses ever produced. For example, all Leica T lenses can be mounted on the Leica SL without an adapter, while the M-Adapter T enables the use of almost all Leica M-Lenses constructed since 1954. In addition, Leica S-Lenses can be mounted with the S-Adapter L (available in May 2016), and the forthcoming R-Adapter (available Q3 2016) will allow Leica R-System lenses to be used with the SL camera.
 
Availability and pricing
 
The APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8-4 is scheduled to be available in the UK from authorised Leica stockists from 24 March 2016, at a suggested retail price of £4,650 including VAT.

 
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Mentor Series: Michael Berger Finds New Angles in Arizona

Published on March 16, 2016 by in News

Put a new spin on a classic site with a creative viewpoint

Michael Berger explores architecture in Arizona on a Mentor Series trip

 
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Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.5 / 6.5 update brings bug fixes, new camera support

Published on March 16, 2016 by in News

Adobe has launched Lightroom CC 2015.5 and Lightroom 6.5, bringing numerous bug fixes alongside new camera support and dozens of new lens profiles. The update fixes a few issues with the Panorama Merge feature, including bugs affecting Boundary Warp, as well as 'a ton of sync errors' and a couple missing features.

The new version of Lightroom takes care of dust spots in a smart way – remove spots from the first image, and the rest will be removed automatically as other images are merged. Additionally, bugs have been fixed that affected Boundary Warp, a tool that helps straighten curved edges of stitched panoramas.

Bug fixes unrelated to Panorama Merge include numerous unspecified syncing errors. Adobe also claims that syncing with the Android and iOS Lightroom apps is now faster. Mouse scrolling has been restored in Loupe view, and it has also reinstated scroll bars in the Book module for faster browsing. Finally, slideshows once again display images in high-resolution, whereas before a bug caused them to display at a 'much lower res than expected.'

The following camera models are now supported:

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
  • Canon EOS 80D
  • Canon EOS 1300D (Rebel T6, Kiss X80)
  • Nikon D5
  • Nikon D500
  • Olympus PEN-F
  • Olympus SH-3
  • Panasonic DMC-CM10
  • Panasonic DMC-GF8
  • Panasonic DMC-ZS100 (DMC-ZS110, DMC-TZ100, DMC-TZ101, DMC-TZ110, DMC-TX1)
  • Samsung NX3300
  • Sony Alpha a6300 (ILCE-6300)
  • Yuneec CGO4

Lastly, more than 70 lens profiles have been added for lenses from Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Samsung, SIGMA, and Sony, and there's support for the lens used by the Huawei Nexus 6P and LG Nexus 5X smartphones. The full list of newly supported lens profile is available here.

 
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DxO extends camera support with OpticsPro, FilmPack and ViewPoint updates

Published on March 16, 2016 by in News

DxO has introduced updates for its OpticsPro, FilmPack and ViewPoint software that adds support for six new cameras, as well as 50 additional camera/lens modules to the DxO Optics Module library.

The updates add support for the following cameras:

  • Canon Powershot G5 X
  • Canon Powershot G9 X
  • Leica Q (typ 116)
  • Sony DSC-RX1R II
  • Canon EOS M10
  • Leica SL

DxO OpticsPro v10.5.4, DxO FilmPack v5.5.4 and DxO ViewPoint v2.5.13 are available for download now from DxO. Through March 31, new users can purchase DxO's applications at a discount:

  • DxO OpticsPro 10 ESSENTIAL Edition: $64/£49 (instead of $129/£99)
  • DxO OpticsPro 10 ELITE Edition: $99/£79 (instead of $199/£159)
  • DxO FilmPack 5 ESSENTIAL Edition: $39/£29 (instead of $79/£59)
  • DxO FilmPack 5 ELITE Edition: $64/£49 (instead of $129/£99)
  • DxO ViewPoint 2: $39/£29 (instead of $79/£59)
 
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Here’s a Nice Video Reminder Of Just How Awesome Ansel Adams Truly Was

Published on March 16, 2016 by in News
Ansel Adams Photography Legend

He was truly the master

Ansel Adams was a truly amazing photographer and we could all stand to remember how he worked

 
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