Sony QX10

Frederick Van Johnson and I explore the Sony QX10 and QX100 “lens cameras” in this episode of All About the Gear.

Once again, Sony is showing that it’s not afraid to innovate and put out breakthrough products that might be a bit ahead of their time. The QX cameras are definitely in that category. Not yet ready for prime time, they may be more an indication of what’s to come than the end of a line.

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Canon 70D

MDe9150b77-2804-435d-aae4-9e3f164c7aa0 Although much of the buzz this year has been about small, mirrorless cameras, the big-boy DSLR makers (Nikon and Canon) haven’t been entirely asleep at the switch. The new Canon 70D is most notable for it’s groundbreaking Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus sensor, which is used in video and Live View modes. The Canon 70D and an explanation of autofocus technologies are the topics of this episode of All About the Gear.

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Gigapan Experiments

This afternoon I started work on a future episode of All About the Gear on which I’ll review the Gigapan EPIC Pro. Here’s my second attempt at a Gigapan image of the Golden Gate Bridge. Expand to full screen, zoom into it and pan. Check it out. (Sorry it’s Flash, but that’s how the Gigapan viewer works.)

http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/0c555d389b119fa2efea2ad3a943119c/options/nosnapshots,hidetitle,fullscreen/iframe/flash.html?height=400

32 images in a 4×8 grid. Shot with a Nikon D800E at ISO 100. 70-200mm f/2.8. 1/400 second, f/8, 200mm. Stitched in the Gigapan Stitch app. The limitation to the resolution here isn’t the 36MP camera, the lens or the application. It’s due to atmospheric aberration. A problem with long-distance shots at 6pm on a warm September day.

Sony RX1R — Visions of Cameras Future?

SonyRX1R

I’ve been shooting with the Sony RX1R for the past week as research for the next episode of All About the Gear. It’s certainly not perfect, but there are aspects of this camera that make it quite extraordinary. And now the word on the street is that the RX1R will be the basis for a full-frame Sony NEX body (ie, interchangeable e-mount) within the next month or two. If so, it will likely be the best (overall) interchangeable-lens full-frame-camera. Sorry Leica users, but it could be true.

Here’s an example. This 24MP image was shot at ISO 8000 (not 800!), f/5.6, 1/320 second. It’s pretty much straight out of the camera. (It has a permanently affixed Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens.) This image is scaled in your browser to 600×400 from a 1920×1280 JPEG, which in turn was made from the original 6000×4000 pixel RAW file. In other words, what you see below is 0.24MP or a 1/10 (linear) scale of the full-size image. There are 100x more pixels in the RAW file than what you see here. Click (maybe twice) to see the 1920×1280 version.

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Now take a look at three full-scale 100% crops from the above image.

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The image above shows the detail of an area with a lot of specular highlights. Much of it is beyond the depth-of-field limits, so don’t judge it for sharpness.

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This one, above, shows the level of detail in a non-highlight area. Two things of note: First, there aren’t any moire problems due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter on the RX1R’s sensor. I haven’t been able to create any moire patterns except when I worked very hard to do so.

Second, check out the noise in the shadows. Yes, it’s ISO 8000 so there’s some noise, but notice how natural it appears. It almost looks like film grain, and there’s certainly none of that annoying colorful “confetti” grain.

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Finally, the image above is from a very dark area of the original. Again, look how unobjectionable the noise is.

I plan to shoot at even higher ISOs, but so far I’d say that this sensor/lens combination looks as good to me as any lens on my Nikon D800E.