Monday, April 30, 2012

OM-G, OM-D Review Posted

DPReview has posted its review of the Olympus OM-D/E-M5 and the results are very good. The noise performance and detail retention of the sensor still indicates that, at its heart, it is the Panasonic G3 sensor. That said, Olympus worked their magic on it in a big way. Color retention is excellent, and dynamic range is finally in the same ballpark as the APS-C competition.

While the detail is similar between this and the G3, every other element of the images is a complete and total win for the Olympus. This reminds me of the same startling noise difference between the E-P1 and the Panasonic GF-1 at the beginning of this whole Micro 4/3 thang.

All of that said, there appears to still be a significant sensitivity problem. The OM-D image, while good, is the most exposed of all its competitors. The NEX-7 is significantly less-exposed. That means that in any given environment, you will have to use a smaller larger aperture, slower shutter, or higher ISO to achieve the same image.

Still, what's important is that it is still in the same ballpark. It is easily the best Micro 4/3 camera, and if you are invested in the Micro 4/3 system as I am, then that may very well be enough. It's not enough for me to ditch my trusty, old GF-1, but I have hopes for the E-M6. This hope is enough to keep me from jumping ship to Sony, and that's a big deal. This is the camera that Olympus should have produced three years ago.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nikon D3200 Impresses

Nikon's new entry-level D3200 has been put through some preliminary tests at good ol' DPReview and, considering that the camera's price, it impresses. It uses the same 24Mp sensor found in the Sony NEX-7 and A77, and the differences that can be found in the comparison appear to be mostly down to processing choices on the part of the manufacturer.

As far as detail goes, the NEX-7 appears to have the edge, sometimes noticeably. I'm assuming that Nikon chose a stronger AA filter, which apparently wouldn't be hard. If the moire seen in video tests of the NEX-7 is any indication, it has a filter that may as well not be there at all. Regardless, moire rarely rears its head in photos from the Sony, and with a sensor resolution so high, any extra detail is good.

Noise performance also seems to give the edge to the NEX-7, but the difference is small. Since we know that the sensor is the same, it must have to do with the pipes. Moreover, the D3200 seems to pull into the lead after ISO-3200, so they earn at least one win. Both this and the NEX-7 don't produce anything that's much print-usable past that point, but if you did want to go to this point, the D3200 would be your best choice. But even if the D3200 underperformed the NEX-7 in all ways, I would still give it accolades. These images for such an incredibly low price is truly kick-ass.

And that's the point that I want to stress. It's a high-performing, 24Mp sensor, with lens, for less than $700. For me, the takeaway is that Nikon is treating the growth of Fuji and Sony with some seriousness... as opposed to Canon. Because this camera is one hell of a contender. What does Canon give us? An $800 point-&-shoot, and a minor upgrade to their 5D with an extra $1000 tacked onto the price.

Keep up the good work, Nikon. Maybe I'll stop ragging on you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blackmagic Shows How It's Done

Blackmagic, a company of which I knew nothing until this morning, has dropped an absolute BOMB onto the world of video production. There is no way to say this without sounding like hyperbole, but the entire video production industry, both pro and amateur, has just been turned on its head. This is bigger than the release of the 5D Mark II. This is a paradigm shift.

How can I possibly justify the exaltation? Well just look at what this is. It is a camera, capable of true 2.5K resolution, with a global shutter, a gargantuan dynamic range, and connectivity and design aimed squarely at the professional... for $3,000. It leaves everyone else at that price so far behind as to make them seem like toys. Even cameras that cost two, three, four times as much do not have what this camera has.

After Canon disappointed with its arrogant and cynical creation of its Cinema cameras, I had grown despondent at the thought that the next few years of video cameras were going to be stagnant, held down by corporate arrogance and greed.

But no. I should have had confidence. Like so many areas in the world of technology, a company comes out of nowhere to drive innovation forward, and drive the stagnant, grotesque, old guard out of business. It is a revolution.

I think that Panasonic could have been this revolution with their GH2 and FS100, but like so many big companies, they didn't just drop the ball, they actively chose to not even pick it up. For amateur video, the GH2 remains my hands-down favorite, but for a step up, ignore everything that Canon is making. Ignore RED. Ignore Sony. This is your camera.

As EOS-HD posted a few days ago,
This camera will be hot… It will sell out instantly. It will get hyped to death.
Boy, will it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What Sensor Is In The E-M5?

I'm one of those fanatics who is debating what sensor is in the new Olympus E-M5. Up until now, everything that I have seen indicates that it is the same sensor as in the Panasonic G3 and GX1. That fact that Olympus is being cagey about who manufacturers the sensor all but confirmed to me that it was, indeed, the G3 sensor and Olympus was hoping to keep this fact hidden for as long as possible.

But now we have this, a review by TechRadar over in the UK that shows the RAW dynamic range to be absolutely spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, that I don't believe it. Their SNR charts don't line up at all with test photos from places like Focus Numerique, where the E-M5 doesn't even seem to do any better than the Canon G1X.

I don't yet know what to make of this, but if those dynamic range numbers hold up, than this is the Micro 4/3 camera that I have been longing for. That seems like a big if to me, though. I never expected this camera to hold up vis-a-vis ISO performance since that is simply a matter of physics. A smaller sensor receives less light. The ISO performance of APS-C will always be better than 4/3.

It makes me wonder what the actual shutter speed and aperture settings for the Olympus were. As we saw, the ISO accuracy of the test camera at DigitalKamera was the most inaccurate of any digital camera in quite some time, with all ISO settings being 2/3 of a stop off. I suspected that Olympus was doing this to game tests, but I can never know that for sure.

But that still doesn't explain the dynamic range. How can those results be so wildly ahead of even the NEX-7? Something doesn't line up, here. I hope it does line up, though, since this would be enough to keep me in the 4/3 system for the time being. That's pretty big.

So basically, real-world photos seem to indicate the G3's sensor with better pipes, but the few lab tests all make the camera shine. WTF? All I can wait for, I suppose, is the DxOMark results and DPReviews take on the camera.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Canon Announces New Camera. Shocks World With Arrogance And Greed.

Canon announced their new, 4K DSLR camera, the new EOS-1D-C. I won't go fully into why I now hate Canon, I've said so much already, but here's the gist of it.

This camera doesn't need to exist. It exists because Canon want to artificially differentiate their camera line-up, thus creating this new series of "pro" videographer cameras. All of the hardware in this camera could exist in the extant EOS-1DX for only a bit more money. Canon is charging an arm and a leg for it because they think that they can.

They left the 5D Mark III to rot, even though tons of pro -ya know, the people for whom Canon is supposedly making this system- videographers loved its predecessor. Canon is trying to purposely kill the DSLR video revolution because they can't milk as much money from it as they'd like.

Fuck you, Canon. I hope that Panasonic, Sony, and Nikon eat your lunch.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Nikon D800 Reviews Make Me Consider

The reviews of the Nikon D800 are truly fantastic. The sheer detail possible from the $2,999 camera is making me reconsider my aversion to entering any new system. Obviously, it only makes me reconsider -it's not enough to cause me to make the plunge- but just considering it is a pretty big deal for one of the biggest photo curmudgeons on Earth.

Obviously, the thing stopping me is that Sony hasn't yet announced their horse in the race. That, combined with the conservative limp-dickery of Nikon in the V1/J1 and the outright arrogance of Canon don't exactly instill positive feelings in me about either company.

That doesn't mean that I don't love traditional photographic principles, though. I've used both the Sony A77 and a comparable viewfinder on the Canon 7D, or the very bright viewfinder in the Sony A900, and I still prefer the basics. What I don't prefer is a camera company (Nikon and Canon) not including features seen in cheaper cameras because they have shunted these features into different categories for no other reason than differentiation and the opportunity to squeeze more money from their customer base.

The biggest feature that's rumored to be in the works at Sony that makes me wait is the ability to move the mirror on upcoming SLT cameras. For those who are not retarded, like me, the slight loss in sharpness and ISO performance caused by the SLT mirror is of little concern, but I am not like you. I am an idiot.

The D800 simply nails the tradtional principles so well, that it's lacking in a groundbreaking philosophical or technological push just seems less important. I'm still going to wait, but Nikon did good. I think that they should be recognized for that.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

X Pro 1, E-M5, NEX-7, and GX1 All Get Compared

A massive comparison of lenses, cameras, processors, and other cool things has popped up. You can view the Google Translated page dealing with the NEX-7 and E-M5 here. The X-Pro 1 comparison is here.

What stands out to me, which was also apparent after viewing the images at Imaging Resource, is that total noise levels below 3200 are very similar between the X Pro 1 and the NEX-5n/7. It's after that where the X Pro 1 shows a remarkable ability to retain fine detail. It must be the new RGB layout, because it is just so damned impressive.

What is disappointing, though, is that this adds further fuel to the assertion that the Olympus E-M5's sensor is nothing more than the GX1/G3 sensor with better pipes. Still... weather sealing; damn it's nice.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sony A101 Hides A Surprise

Some very solid rumors just came out about Sony's upcoming top-end SLT camera. This was assumed to be the A99, but if this camera is real, and its target is real, then the A99 may shoot for the same price target as the recently-deceased A850/900, namely, it will be in the $2,500/$2,000 range. That is fantastic. That means that Sony will fill the price bracket that Canon abandoned with the release of the 5D Mark III. $2,500 and under is an excellent price for photography enthusiasts.

Other details of the camera include a 100 Mp sensor, a random RGB matr... did I just write 100 Mp?

Yep. I did. And nope. I'm not drunk. Sony will be producing a 100 Mp sensor in standard 35mm format. I rarely exceed the need for 12 Mp. I've bumped into it on a few occasions. Likewise for 18 Mp. I have never bumped into a need for higher resolution at 21 Mp. Truly, I thought that the Nikon D800 is a bit overkill for nearly anyone's purposes.

Still, with RAW files that rarely exceed 50MB, and home storage stretching into the terabytes, it's not an unmanageable resolution.

100 Mp may actually be unmanageable. Assuming similar bit depths, that would give us RAW files of well over 150MB. I'd need to buy a new computer to manage files that big.

Still, who am I to say that people can't use the resolution. I'm sure that there are many studio photogs who operate at low ISO who would love a 100Mp SLR-style camera. More power to them.

The surprise that I mentioned, though, and that detail about which I most care, is the revelation that Sony will finally give us the ability to move the mirror! As I have mentioned, I didn't buy into the A77 because the translucent mirror resulted in a noticeable loss in ISO performance and sharpness in comparison to the NEX-7, which has an identical sensor. 24Mp was already pushing APS-C to its limits, the last thing that I wanted was another thing hitting the overall ISO performance of the camera.

But this, this changes everything. I imagine a camera that can be set to traditional SLR-style mirror actuation or be set to SLT-style static mirror. Lifting the mirror, then taking a landscape shot is also on order, because with 100Mp, mirror shake would have a palpably negative effect on final image sharpness.

The final part of the rumor is what I imagine will become the upgrade du jour for digital camera companies in the future: a new RGB matrix. As the Fuji X Pro 1 has shown, benefits in both detail and noise can be had by ditching the standard 2x2 layout.

But that is all beside the point. What matters is that Sony is letting us move the mirror out of the way. That alone makes their camera more attractice.