Thursday, May 31, 2012

DxO Mark Lays The Smack Down On The 5D Mark III

DxO Mark has published an extensive work-up of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800. Essentially, they say the the 5D Mark III is more expensive than both the Mark II and the D800, and that it offers little to no benefit over either.

I'm glad to see such a dry, well-known website lay some smack down on what was a stunning show of corporate arrogance. Three years after the 5D Mark II inadvertently revolutionized filmmaking, Canon delivers a warmed-over "upgrade" or $1,000 more.

The points addressed in the review are as we have seen discussed in the dozens of reviews that have trickled out: too expensive, no real upgrade over the Mark II, is completely beaten by the sensor in not just the D800, but also the D3s, D3x, D4, Pentax K5, and matched by the Sony NEX 7 (those last two are APS-C and obviously are inferior as regards ISO).

I'm ranting about this because I hate seeing corporate arrogance prevent development and progress. I hate it when a company so visibly rests on its laurels and, in the case of Canon, tries to milk more money from its market through product trickery.

Now Canon is screwed. The Blackmagic Cinema camera blows Canon's new C-Series (I consider the C to stand for "crap") out of the water and Nikon's still cameras are now significantly superior. If I didn't already own so much Canon crap, I wouldn't care about this. But as it stands, I've got a few grand invested in the system of a company that is arrogant and intransigent. I'm glad that Nikon and Sony are interested in trying new things, and Fuji has truly captured my attention.

Sorry Canon, the market is moving on without you.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 Review Randomly Leaks Out

It's amazing how badly companies other than Apple manage their launches.

Panasonic has provided very little about the only lenses of theirs about which anyone cares. I have no idea why, since, again these are the only lenses about which anyone cares!! One would think that Panasonic would want to keep their customers abreast of these lenses with a 24-hour live Twitter feed. But no. Instead, they just bumbled around, vaguely hinting that they still remembered that they manufactured cameras.

Panasonic released teaser pictures last year, then hinted about their apertures, showed demo units, had a few guys hang around trade shows with blank expressions on their faces, and then... went silent for months. Now, out of the blue, DSLR magazine has released a review of the lenses. We didn't know anything about them up until now. No launch, no official pages, no nothing. Just suddenly, a review.

Sigh. Ah well, at least Panasonic finally managed to get the damned lens out. The review is excellent. The lens is super-compact and appears to be quite sharp. Contrast, as near as I can tell, is good. This is, without a doubt, the first world-class lens that Panasonic has produced.

Just the pictures give you an idea of how well-built it is. It's shiny, metal, and compact, and just oh so beautiful. Obviously, you are paying for this quality. It will be, far and away, the most expensive Micro 4/3 lens produced, at well over $1,000, and actually in the mid-range of 4/3 lenses, with only a few Olympus lenses costing much more. Truly, to step up, one would have to spend more than twice as much on the Olympus 14-35mm f/2.0. I'm not sure that I care that much about one more stop of exposure.

Importantly for pixel-peepers, this lens actually appears to outperform the Olympus 12-60mm 4/3 lens, which has been an absolute darling for the last seven years. That's enormous news. Those of us who bought into Micro 4/3 have been crying for an equivalent to this lens for THREE YEARS. Praise Allah, Panasonic has finally provided!

If Panasonic's GH3 doesn't disappoint, they are comin' on home. f/2.8 isn't quite fast enough to be my all-the-time lens, I'd want at least f/2.0 for that, but f/2.8 is damned close. This is the first Micro 4/3 product to get me excited, basically, since the GF1, and is everything that I ever wanted the 14-45mm to be.

UPDATE: A few hours later, DPReview posted a preview of this very lens. Their short time with the lens gave them a positive impression, and they also mention this as the first truly serious lens that Panasonic has produced.

Their test photos reveal a good lens. There are a few points, especially at 12mm, where contrast appears a bit down at f/2.8, but this could be a fluke. I'd consider this to be a minor quibble, since everything else appears to be very high-performing.

Moreover, these photos were apparently taken straight from the camera. And while the E-M5 has excellent JPEGs, the real test of the lenses capabilities will come with RAW images.

This lens will likely not replace my 20mm as my go-to, Micro 4/3 lens, nor my 25mm Leica/Panny as my second-in-command, but it's the only zoom thus far that is acceptable for most lighting environments. Unless the GH3 is a massive disappointment, I will almost undoubtedly buy this lens.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nokia 808 Pureview Video Samples Appear

A Youtube user got his mitts on a Nokia 808 Pureview and rendered a video. The only way to describe it is stunning. Now, if only everything else about the phone wasn't total crap. I don't like Windows Phone very much, but I have to admit, if Nokia released a WinPho phone with this camera inside, I'd buy it. No hesitation. Just take my money!

UPDATE: For some reason, the original uploader deleted his video. This smells like an official "leak" to me, since it's already available from a few other uploaders, one of whom I have posted here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nikon D800 Finally Gets Real Review

DPReview throws no small amount of praise at the foot of the D800, but they do levy a couple of good points against it. First, this has the absolute best images quality of any Full-Frame camera on the market. Everything right down to its high-ISO performance is stunning. It doesn't quite match the Pentax 645d in resolution, but that is to be expected. It is still far more than almost anyone could ever want, and frankly, I'd rather have this than the Pentax for almost any kind of shooting.

Ergonomics are excellent, with a similar set-up to the D700. The viewfinder is good. And goodies like uncompressed HDMI video sweeten the pot to the point of cake batter. This is the first camera in a long while where I can't really think of anything wrong with it. This will be a world-class camera for a decade.

As I mentioned, DPReview does point out a few faults, if you can call them that. First, the continuous shutter is a bit slow at only 4fps. You can get 6fps in reduced resolution mode, but why would you want reduced resolution? Isn't that the point? To me, this isn't much of a problem. I'm more concerned with the buffer, and fine JPEG's let the camera go for a good ten seconds before filling it. If you do that in spurts, you'll likely never hit the limit.

While the slow continuous shutter eliminates the possibility that this camera can ever be the ultimate all-rounder, it still would be more than a match for damn-near everyone. Nikon has taken everything great about the classic SLR layout and made it better. Nikon appears to have learned from their mistake with the hilariously overpriced Nikon D3X and delivered a world-class camera at a price that almost any serious enthusiast can afford.

As I've said before, I'm still going to wait to see what Sony produces. I'm absolutely leaving Canon's system, no doubts about that anymore, and the cross-compatibility of Sony's A-lenses and NEX mount are a very attractive proposition, even in the face of the D800. Olympus' great showing with the E-M5 will keep me in the 4/3 system, and really, the only place to go from there is Full-Frame, which I guess negates the NEX advantage. Nikon or Sony. Decisions, decisions.