Monday, April 27, 2015

An Eye-Opening Experience & The Power Of Olympus

Ever since I got the Sony A7II, I have been using it almost exclusively, apart from my trip to UAE where it made sense to pack a MFT kit due to its small size, versatility and auto-focus (Will be covered in a different post. The pictures are ready). To be honest, I was having too much fun playing with the A7II and both the Zeiss and the legacy lenses while ignoring my Olympus kit, to the extent that I decided one day to sell all of my MFT kit and only keep the Sony with the single autofocus lens that I own. And indeed I put my MFT kit for sale, only to decline the first few offers I received. I just didn't have the courage to do it. But I kept using the Sony.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Samsung NX500 Review

In my previous post, I posited that the Samsung NX500 may be the camera that brings Samsung NX to the mainstream.  In this post, I present a preliminary review of the Samsung NX500.  I am evaluating it based on usage for shooting candid photos, not so much for professional use.  I'm comparing it primarily with the Sony a6000, which won DPReview's 2014 poll for Best Consumer Interchangeable Lens Camera by a landslide.

In this preliminary review, I will be discussing the following topics:
•Manual focus
•Image quality

Please note my evaluation is based primarily on the kit lens, and based on having used the NX500 for about 4 weeks.  I will post reviews of other lenses separately.  Unless otherwise specified, the NX500 samples here are from raw, converted in Samsung DNG Converter or Lightroom 6, with minimal adjustments, so they are representative of what you can readily get from the camera.  (Product shots are from the Olympus Stylus 1.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Save $70 on Lightroom 6 Upgrade

You've probably heard about the release of Lightroom 6, and the standalone price of $149 (and the CC subscription).  What was not so obvious is that you can pay much less for an upgrade if you have a previous version of Lightroom (even Lightroom 1.x, apparently).
To get the $79 desktop upgrade:
1. Go to this link
2. Scroll down to Photoshop Lightroom 6 and click Buy.
3. Click on the dropdown and change from Full to Upgrade.
4. Select your version of LR.
5. Click "Add to Cart" and enjoy the savings :)
Thanks to DPReview's Michael Uschold for this awesome tip! :)​

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fast 50mm Shoot Out: MFT vs FF (or why I bought the Sony A7II and a single FE lens)

You might remember from my previous posts about the Canon 35mm f/2, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 and the Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lenses how much I appreciate and love the 50mm focal length. To the extent that I previously mentioned that if I found a fixed lens FF camera with a fast 50mm (think Sony RX1 with a 50mm lens instead), I would sell all my gear and only use that camera and a single TTL flash. Unfortunately, that camera doesn't exist yet. So I bought something a bit different. Did it work? Hit the jump to find out.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Samsung NX500 [Temporary] Price Drop to $699!

NX500 with 20 f/2.8
Samsung has dropped the price of the NX500 (reviewed here) from $799 to $699 with kit lens included!  I don't know yet if this is temporary or permanent.  First impressions posted here.  I'm working on a more detailed review.

It's available from Amazon in black, brown, or white.  We would get a small commission at no cost to you.  As usual, 100% of our Amazon commissions will be donated to charity.

BTW the price of the NX1 has dropped from $1499 to $1299 (body only).  The price of the NX1 went back up to $1499, which might mean the NX500 price drop could also be temporary.

Update: the price of the NX500 went back up to $799

Monday, April 6, 2015

Testing the NX500's Samsung Auto Shot (SAS)

Happy Easter!
Over the weekend, I tested one of the NX500's features called Samsung Auto Shot (SAS), which was originally featured in the NX1.  SAS enables the camera to automatically take a shot at the peak moment of certain types of scenes such as baseball or basketball.

It's a feature that no one has asked for.  On the other hand, the target market of the NX500 includes parents and other family members who could use such a feature.  I think that SAS is also intended to showcase the speed of the DRIMEe V (and Vs, in the case of the NX500) processor.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Canon FL 55mm f/1.2 + Sony A7II

For some strange reason; unlike when used with the Olympus E-M1, I am really digging the look the Canon 55 f/1.2 is giving me when used with the A7II at wide-open or near wide-open apertures. I will not bother you with a lot of writing. Instead, I will leave you with a few of my favorite pictures taken a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hands-On Review of Sony a7000 Prototype!

Since January, everyone has been speculating about the rumored successor to the spectacular Sony a6000.  Photo convention after photo convention, everyone waited with baited breath for an announcement of the a7000, but none came.  But now it's here!  Sort of.  We got to try a prototype of the a7000 and it is indeed a worthy upgrade.  Check out these features:
  • New 28mp backside illuminated sensor that promises class-leading high ISO performance.  The new sensor also uses copper connections instead of aluminum, which improves conductivity and decreases noise. With these improvements, we predict a DXOMark score of at least 1671, and possibly as high as 1820 for it -- a significant improvement over the a6000's high ISO score of 1347.  The color also looks like it has improved, with more accurate rendition of reds.
  • Touchscreen LCD.  It makes choosing AF points easier, and is also tightly integrated with the controls, making it easier to select and change options.
  • Maximum shutter speed has increased from 1/4000 to 1/6000.
  • Sync speed has increased from 1/160 to 1/200.
  • Maximum ISO has increased from 25,600 to 51,200, although you'd have to be pretty desperate to use it at ISO 51,200.
  • Like the a6000, it has WiFi and NFC, but now they've added Bluetooth.
  • Video has been upgraded to 4k
  • Custom modes has been increased from 3 to 40 (!).  Yup.
We know the a6000's AF performance is legendary, so it's a tough act to follow. However, they've tried to do better by increasing the number of phase detection points from 179 to 205, of which 153 are cross-type.  We're still investigating how much of a real-world improvement it is, compared to the a6000, though in preliminary tests, it looks like it is noticeably better at tracking subjects.
A notable omission is the absence of an EVF.  Sony cameras either have an EVF or a touchscreen but not both.  Instead of an EVF, the LCD can flip 180 degrees for selfie shots.  It makes us wonder whether or not this is targeted more at the a5100, with a possible EVF-equipped version forthcoming.
They have also listened to the criticisms of the Sony 16-50 kit lens and are releasing a new version that is much sharper, while still being just as compact.  The new lens also features an additional customizable button, to which some camera functions can be assigned.  Indeed, there will be a new line of compact lenses that are comparable in performance if not sharper, at substantially lower cost than most current E-mount lenses.  Best of all, they're adding a very compact 50-150 2.8 with stabilization, at a comparable price to the 70-200 f4.
We're working on a more detailed review, so stay tuned!

Please note this is an April Fool's joke.  The camera pictured and the specs posted are real, however -- they are for the Samsung NX500. :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Samsung NX500: Unboxing and First Impressions

As I wrote last week, I found the Samsung NX500 to be impressive enough on paper that I ordered one.  Here is the unboxing:

I shot with it briefly today.  I'm still working on a preliminary review but here are my first impressions:

UPDATED 4/8/15  (see italics)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Packing A Small Do-It-All Kit For Travel

In a couple of hours, I will be on my way to UAE where I will be spending three days. I will be visiting both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I’ve never been there before, but I know that there will be excellent photographic opportunities there. So, instead of just taking the LX100 (which is a very capable camera, especially in video), I decided to take a more flexible setup. It has to be small, and it has to fit in my ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag.