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Entries must be in no later than Sunday 11 August 2019

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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

All articles from Digital Photography Review
Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
  1. Walmart mistakenly prices DJI Inspire 2 and Spark drones starting at $17.99
    Daniel John posted this tip in the Chicago Drone Pilots Facebook Group early Friday morning.

    Early Friday morning, retail behemoth Walmart offered up deals that were so unbelievable, they seemed too good to be true.

    Eagle-eyed shoppers took advantage of the lowest prices they've ever seen assigned to the DJI Spark Fly More bundle, priced at $17.99, a DJI Mavic Pro Bundle for $24.99, a DJI Inspire 2 Premium Combo with Zenmuse x5 for $42.99, plus Sony and Leica cameras, which typically start between $1,000 - $5,000, for $24.99 - $42.99. Those who purchased these items from retailer Ecom Electronics, in the narrow window of time they were available through Walmart.com, will have ultimately scored an unbeatable deal if Walmart chooses to honor these prices.

    Savvy shoppers like Wayne Douglas discovered deals beyond the DJI Spark Fly More bundle.

    I first stumbled across this error in pricing on the Chicago Drone Pilots Facebook Group. Curious to see if it was legitimate, I purchased on DJI Spark Fly More Bundle for $17.99 through my PayPal account. As of this writing, Walmart has processed my payment and has not issued a refund. Ecom Electronics has confirmed my order will arrive between Wednesday, August 21st and Tuesday, August 27th.

    Talk about a hustle. Some people maxed out their orders with a quantity of 12 units.

    Other people got creative, typed 'eCom Electronics' into Walmart.com's search bar, and came up with a Leica SL (Typ 601) Mirrorless Digital Camera for $22.99, a Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera Body for $22.99, and a Sony Alpha a7R Mirrorless Digital Camera for $42.99. Savvy shoppers pushed purchasing limits to the max and ordered up to 12 units of a deeply-discounted item. All of these low-priced offerings sold out quickly, returned to full price, and then were subsequently pulled from Walmart's site altogether.

    As soon as the word got out, items sold out in a matter of minutes and returned to full price before disappearing from Walmart.com completely.

    For those concerned about a possible scam, Walmart has a favorable reputation for honoring their mistakes, if sentiments in the numerous posts I've seen across online forums are accurate. Ecom Electronics, on the other hand, has a Better Business Bureau Rating of 'C.' No matter how painful the mistake, the Walton family, owners of Walmart, likely won't flinch as they are currently the wealthiest family in America with an amassed fortune surpassing $160 billion dollars.

  2. DPReview TV: Sony RX100 VII review
    Sony's RX100 VII has landed, but after seven(!) iterations you may be asking, "Is there anything left to add to this camera?" It turns out the answer is a resounding 'yes'. Watch Chris and Jordan's video review to learn what's new and why it matters.
    What do you think of the RX100 VII? Tell us in the comments!

    Get new episodes of DPReview TV every week by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

    Sample images from this week's episode

  3. The FAA is asking for input for its recreational drone test

    Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted recreational drone pilots access to Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). This removed a huge bottleneck for the pilots as they were extremely restricted on where they could legally fly. Understandably the public wanted to know if they'd be held to the same standards at Part 107-certified commercial remote pilots, who are required to pass a knowledge exam.

    The FAA has officially responded by issuing a Request for Information (RFI) this week. They are currently looking to identify and work with stakeholders in the industry on the administration of a new aeronautical knowledge test for recreational drone pilots. Thanks to significant technological advancements over the past few years, operating a drone is relatively easy to the point where they can be flown safely with minimal knowledge. By updating Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the government agency plans to educate current recreational pilots and bring them into the fold of safe, responsible small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) culture.

    The amended law will require recreational pilots to pass this newly constructed aeronautical knowledge and safety test, to demonstrate they understand the rules. The FAA is currently developing the testing material with stakeholders.

    The amended law will require recreational pilots to pass this newly constructed aeronautical knowledge and safety test, to demonstrate they understand the rules. The FAA is currently developing the testing material with stakeholders. They are currently looking for third-party entities, testing designees, to collaborate with on administering the knowledge training and test content across various FAA-approved platforms.

    Testing designees should have the ability to reach the widest audience possible and also develop a standard electronic record that will be issued immediately to the pilot upon successful completion of the test. They will also provide necessary documentation, similar to what a newly-minted Part 107 remote pilot receives, that can be shown to the FAA or local law enforcement if required.

    Those interested in participating are encouraged to review the RFI and respond by September 12, 2019.

  4. Arcane Photos is a decentralized, blockchain-based Google Photos alternative

    A new blockchain-based service called Arcane Photos has launched as an alternative to Google Photos and other cloud-based options for uploading and storing images. The new service is a server-free decentralized solution offering users encryption to protect images from potential data breaches and other privacy issues.

    Arcane Photos utilizes the Blockstack decentralized computing network to provide users with access to the new photo-storing service. In a post on Product Hunt, the product's creator Walterion explained:

    ‘The most challenging part for us was designing a blockchain app that doesn't look like a blockchain app! We wanted to make the transition from centralized to decentralized solutions as smoothly as possible. That is where Blockstack comes in to help us with a secure and decentralized authentication service, working on Bitcoin blockchain.Æ

    Arcane Photos can be used in any modern web browser and is joined by free office products similarly based on blockchain tech. The service's primary downside at this time appears to be a lack of options for purchasing more storage; 10GB won't last long for users who store large full-resolution images.

  5. Video: How to upcycle old TVs and monitors into a natural-looking light source

    Matt of YouTube channel DIY Perks has shared a video showing how old televisions and computer monitors can be repurposed to create a natural-looking light source that gives off a similar look to window light.

    The 13-minute video walks through the entire process, with Matt taking the time to explain each step of the project and each element involved in upcycling an otherwise faulty display into a cheap, DIY light source.

    A screenshot from the video showing the difference the fresnel lens panel makes in preventing light falloff.

    One of the key components that makes the light coming from TV and monitor backlights look so natural is a fresnel lens. As Matt explains in the video, these fresnel lenses, combined with additional diffusers, helps to reduce the inverse square law.

    The process itself is a bit cumbersome and will vary greatly from one TV/monitor to the next, but the basic principles seem to apply to most displays. You can either choose to re-wire the light source used in the original display or use Matt’s more convenient solution, which is to remove the original light source and put LED light strips in place so wiring and powering the setup is more convenient. Matt even links his preferred LED light strips, which have a decent CRI rating for the most natural-looking light.

    A screenshot from the above video showing Matt reinstalling the diffusion panel in one of his upcycled light builds.

    Unless you have the tools on hand, it isn’t likely an evening project, but it doesn’t appear to be too difficult either, especially considering similarly-sized light sources will come at a much higher cost than the DIY solution.

    Of course, be sure to properly recycle any components not used in the rebuild to minimize waste.

  6. Is the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R right for you?

    Is the Panasonic Lumix S1R right for you?

    Our full review of the Panasonic S1R is live, and in it, we go in-depth to cover the camera's image quality, handling, autofocus and more. In this article, we're going to take a straightforward look at how well-suited it is for some popular photographic use cases. And with a camera as capable as the S1R, there's a lot to dig into:

    • Landscape
    • Travel
    • Lifestyle and people
    • Family and moments
    • Weddings and events
    • Formal portraits
    • Candid and street
    • Sports and wildlife
    • Video work

    Follow along as we take a closer look at what works well on the S1R for each of these types of photography, and what doesn't.

    Landscape photography

    It should come as no surprise that the S1R is among our top picks for hardcore landscape shooters. After all, its sensor offers up a whopping 47MP of resolution, which should be enough on its own to satisfy most users. But, if for some reason you just want more, the S1R's high-res mode gets you to a staggering 187MP. The S1R does this by using its moving its sensor to capture eight total frames, resulting in an image that has four times the standard resolution. Panasonic's latest motion correction techniques are icing on the cake - they're effective, and you can see a detailed look at them here.

    Dynamic range is also an important consideration for landscape work, especially for those users photographing sunrises or sunsets. While the S1R's sensor can't quite match the absolute best full-framers in this area (which include Sony's a7R series as well as Nikon's D850), it's a solid performer and will offer more than enough flexibility for most users.

    The camera outputs very good JPEGs, and combined with in-camera Raw processing, you don't need an editing rig to get good results

    With those core considerations out of the way, let's also take time to mention that the S1R is built extremely well, and both the camera body and the (very sharp) S-series lenses should stand up to the elements with ease. Battery life isn't the best, but you can top up via the camera's USB-C connection if you're off the grid. The tilting screen makes for easy tripod work, and backlit buttons will help you out in the dark. Lastly, the camera outputs very good JPEGs, and combined with in-camera Raw processing, you don't necessarily need an editing rig with you to get good results.

    The biggest potential drawback to going on a wilderness hike with the S1R? Well, it's pretty heavy, especially compared with its mirrorless peers. Whether that's an issue is really up to you.

    Landscape photo by Dale Baskin

    Travel

    As we stated in the previous section, the Lumix S1R is a bit of a bulky beast in the mirrorless world. So if you're a world traveler that likes to travel light, well, you can probably stop reading now. However, if you're the type of person for whom photography is the reason for your travels, or you've got a back-breaking history of carting a full-frame DSLR kit in your carry-on, well, the S1R has a lot to offer.

    The S1R should handle whatever's thrown at it - rain, dust, the occasional door frame, and so on

    First of all, travel can be unpredictable, and the rugged nature of the S1R means it should handle whatever's thrown at it - rain, dust, the occasional door frame, and so on. It outputs some seriously nice JPEG images, with great color, detail and noise reduction, so you can easily send those to your phone for instant sharing with your mates back home. You can also leave the wall charger with those mates back home, thanks to USB-C charging, and though the dual card slots are mis-matched, you can use one as a backup and thus forego a laptop and external hard drive if redundancy is a concern.

    But what good is a camera without lenses? Thankfully, Panasonic's 24-105mm F4 'kit' zoom is a fantastic lens optically, and provides some great flexibility for all types of shooting. But - like the camera, it's a bit bulky. You can always throw the newly announced Sigma 45mm F2.8 into your bag as well, if you want a lighter, more casual walk-around option.

    Travel photo by Carey Rose

    Lifestyle and people

    Ah, lifestyle photography - the avid, influencing Instagrammer's bread and butter. For taking polished photographs of people doing things, like reading what looks to be an empty diary next to a porcelain ocelot, the Lumix S1R is a worthy and full-featured option.

    Of paramount importance here is connectivity, and the S1R's wireless options work well. Plus, good JPEGs and in-camera Raw conversion mean you can easily get the results you want onto the internet in short order. Adding to the artsy appeal, the S1R's full-frame sensor will allow for very shallow depth-of-field with the right lenses, if that's your thing.

    The S1R's full-frame sensor allows for shallow depth-of-field with the right lenses,
    if that's your thing

    But what good is all that if your images are out of focus? Well, not only does the S1R have lightning-quick single autofocus, but its Body/Face/Eye detection works well in continuous AF, and seems to minimize the distracting 'wobble' we see in the viewfinder when shooting in other autofocus area modes. Unfortunately, if you start to have too many detectable subjects in a scene, it can be awkward and frustrating to cycle between them.

    Lastly, it bears mentioning that between Panasonic, Sigma and Leica, there's a robust lens lineup for the S1R for all types of looks - though most of those lenses cost a pretty penny.

    Lifestyle and people photo by Dan Bracaglia

    Family and moments

    So, you're looking for a camera to capture fleeting moments of family and friends, and are considering the Lumix S1R for the purpose. The good news is that there's a lot going for the S1R here - the bad news is that there a few things working against it as well.

    I remember sitting down for breakfast with a friend at the bar of Jake's Cafe in Ritzville, WA, and plonking the S1R down on the counter. The waitress looked at it, said 'whoa,' and looked at me like I was crazy. The camera also took up about the same amount of counter space as my subsequent plate of buttery calories, so it mostly lived under the counter, carefully tucked between my feet.

    Do you really need 47MP images of your friends chowing down on their eggs? Probably not.

    Again, the main issue with the S1R comes down to its relatively large size and weight. Sure, it's not a Nikon D5, but to most people, it may as well be. Capturing fleeting moments means having a camera with you, at the ready, all the time. And frankly, there will simply be days, moments and events where you just don't want to lug it with you. Sad but true. Plus, do you need 47MP images of your friends chowing down on their eggs? Probably not.

    But let's say you have bigger biceps than I, and a bigger tolerance for the attention the S1R brings. You'll be rewarded with a solid 'Auto' mode for handing the camera off to novice users or family members, solid face detection for one or two subjects, excellent low-light performance for indoor or evening shooting, and the best video quality of all the high-resolution mirrorless bodies currently out there. Plus, the S1R is incredibly responsive in general operation, so you won't miss a moment because you're waiting for the camera. So if you do want to carry an S1R with you, it'll have no trouble helping you capture memories and moments with ease.

    Family and moments photo by Carey Rose

    Weddings and events

    Fun (and obvious) fact, the above image isn't of an actual event, but it is of an actual event venue. Anyway. For those hardened wedding shooters who are used to having two full-size DSLRs and F2.8 zooms, the Lumix S1R's size and weight won't be huge concerns (though someday, your spine will go into open revolt against you for all that you've done to it). But truthfully, the S1R has a lot to offer wedding and event shooters.

    The weather-sealing is great for when someone inevitably dumps a beer onto you as the dance party heats up

    First let's touch on the handling (pun!). The camera's large, deep grip is comfortable, and makes it easier to handle large, fast lenses. The incredible array of external controls means almost any setting is at your fingertips, without having to jump into menus - the layout of the autofocus switches and buttons is a particular strong point. Also, the weather-sealing and robust build are great for when someone inevitably dumps a beer onto you as the dance party heats up.

    Image quality is, as we've covered, superb, so no issues there. The dual card slots are mis-matched, but allow for redundancy. The camera's interface allows for easy switching between stills and video, and the faster-than-average 1/320th flash sync speed is welcome.

    But for a lot of wedding and event shooters, 47MP of resolution simply won't be necessary, and will devour hard drive space. First-party flash options are a bit limited, and the on-camera flash AF assist lamp is a bright LED which will distract (or simply blind) your subjects. Lastly, the burst rate of 6fps with autofocus might be too slow for some shooters and some moments, and occasionally, you'll find a mis-focused shot mid-burst. But overall, if you want or need the resolution, the S1R is a solid option for this type of photography.

    Photo of plants by Carey Rose

    Formal portraits

    Formal portraits, whether studio-based or in a more natural setting, are no problem for the Lumix S1R. First off, the image quality: The S1R gives you expansive resolution, options for very shallow depth-of-field, and excellent color (including skin tones) right out of camera. The fast 1/320th flash sync speed is a nice touch, and single AF is very fast and accurate. Face and eye detection are effective for single subjects as well.

    Eye detection will occasionally choose to focus on eyelashes, and not the pupil

    On the other hand, before you get too excited about the 187MP high-res mode for portraits, be aware that you cannot use traditional strobes with it - you'll need to use constant lighting thanks to the camera's electronic shutter. Also, eye detection will occasionally choose to focus on eyelashes, and not a subject's pupil. This might seem nit-picky, but remember, 47MP of resolution. You will see the difference. Lastly, Panasonic's own-brand flash system isn't terribly fleshed-out, but third-party options are plentiful.

    If you're a portraitist looking for your next high-quality body, the S1R could be just right for you.

    Photo of Dan 'I don't like having my picture taken' Bracaglia taken by Carey Rose

    Candid and street

    There are two key requirements for a camera to be good for street photography. The first is responsiveness - you need the camera to react at a moment's notice, when the light's just right, before your subject exits your composition. The second is subtlety, as you don't necessarily want to call too much attention to yourself. Now, you only get one guess as to which of these the S1R falls short at.

    Bingo - the S1R is big, with a lens lineup that is also almost universally big. When you carry the S1R around, people will look at you and think, "that person must be a photographer," or "that person's camera must take really great pictures," or "that person is a creep." It is a camera that will get you noticed, whether you want the attention or not.

    The S1R will reward you with responsive operation

    But if you're in a big crowd, or a big city, you may yet be able to blend in despite the S1R's imposing presence. In this case, the S1R will reward you with responsive operation, settings you can check on the top LCD, a touchscreen that tilts so you can shoot from the hip, and an option for a fully-silent electronic shutter. The connectivity will help you send a file off to a subject should you wish, and the weather-sealing means you don't have to cut your photo walk short if the weather takes a turn.

    Candid and street photo by Carey Rose

    Sports and wildlife

    The Lumix S1R isn't our first choice for shooting sports and action, but that doesn't mean the camera can't do it. First of all, the 47MP of resolution may simply be overkill for most action shooters - but on the other hand, that gives you cropping flexibility in post. The grip makes it easy to handle big telephoto lenses (and Panasonic's own 70-200mm F2.8 S Pro lens is coming soon), and the external controls make it easy to react to changing scenarios. If you choose to use the XQD card slot as your primary storage option, the buffer is deep, and for those on tight deadlines, the excellent out-of-camera JPEGs are sure to please.

    Count on some images mid-burst to be slightly front-or-back-focused

    But 6fps burst shooting with autofocus just looks awfully slow in this day and age, especially for capturing peak-action moments. The experience of using the S1R's big, beautiful viewfinder is marred by a distracting 'wobble' and resolution drop when using continuous autofocus - which you'll be using a lot when shooting sports. Also, count on some of those images mid-burst to be just slightly front-or-back-focused. It probably won't matter for a thousand-pixel-wide web display, but if you're the official team photographer shooting images for archival or print purposes, this may be a concern.

    In all, you absolutely can shoot sports and action with the S1R (after all, you can shoot sports with an ancient Speed Graphic if you're David Burnett). But if this is your main photographic calling, there are simply better options out there, and for a lot less money.

    Sports and action photo by Carey Rose

    Video

    There are no bones about it, the S1R is the least video-capable of Panasonic's new S-series full-frame cameras. But happily, our testing shows it to be the most video capable of the current crop of high-resolution mirrorless cameras. There's something to be said for that.

    Feature-wise, the S1R can shoot up to 4K/60p video, as well as 180fps high speed Full HD footage. There are a ton of customization options for separating settings between stills and video, and the in-body image stabilizer will smooth out your handheld clips. Body / face detection is the most effective way to track focus on people in video, the audio pre-amp is of good quality, and the camera shoots far longer than you'd expect on a single battery charge.

    No other high-resolution camera body on the market can touch the S1R's video quality and feature set

    But being based around a high-res sensor, there are some compromises that had to be made in the Lumix S1R. 4K capture comes with a minimum 1.09x crop, which admittedly isn't too bad. Cropping in further to Super35 will give you the absolute best 4K quality, but that's quite a crop depending on your lenses. Generic autofocus 'tracking' is unreliable at best, and unlike the cheaper S1, there are no options for HLG or 10-bit capture.

    But let's say that high-resolution stills are your top priority, and you may occasionally need to do some video on the side. In this situation, the S1R is easily recommendable - no other high-resolution camera body on the market can touch its video quality and feature set.

    The wrap

    And that's a wrap! If it isn't obvious, the Lumix S1R is a camera we really enjoyed reviewing and using - even if it's a bit of a bear to lug around. Our only real reservations concern its autofocus system and burst speeds - in this day and age of 10fps high-resolution competitors with hybrid AF systems, the S1R isn't a great fit for those that need to shoot lots of sports and peak action. But for other professional photographers that want a serious, versatile, high-resolution tool, the S1R is easy to recommend.

    To get all the nitty-gritty details on the S1R and its features and capabilities, check out our full review. Lastly, do you own an S1R? What do you like to photograph with it? What do you think of the camera overall? Let us know in the comments!

    Read our full review of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R

  7. Meike adds Canon RF, Nikon Z mount options to its manual focus 85mm F2.8 macro lens

    Hong Kong-based company Meike has launched new Canon RF and Nikon Z mount options for its full-frame 85mm F2.8 macro lens. The lens — which is currently available in Sony E, Fuji X, MFT, Canon EF and Nikon F mount systems — is a manual macro lens with an F2.8 to F22 aperture, 55mm filter size, 0 to 1.5x magnification, and 25cm (9in) minimum focusing distance.

    The lens is constructed of 11 elements in 8 groups and comes in at just 500g (1.1bs). Like its previous full-frame counterparts, the is features an all-metal body alongside three manual adjustment rings for focus, macro focus, and aperture.

    The 85mm F2.8 macro lens for Nikon Z and Canon RF is currently listed on the Meike website. No pricing information is available for these two new models, but the current versions currently retail for $269.99.

  8. Z Cam launches budget E2-F6 and E2-F8 6K and 8K cinema cameras for pre-order

    Chinese company Z Cam has launched its new full-frame 6K E2-F6 and full-frame 8K E2-F8 cinema cameras for preorder. The models, which were first introduced during NAB 2019, follow the previously launched E2 4K, offering consumers budget-tier high-resolution versions of the company's professional cinema camera. Both models will start shipping in October.

    The Z Cam E2-F6 and E2-F8 are cube-shaped cinema cameras sold without accessories, making the total cost to set up a fully workable cinema camera higher than the models' respective $4,995 and $5,995 prices. Both the E2-F6 and E2-F8 are available with EF / PL lens mounts, and both models likewise feature Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, ZRAW support and full-frame CMOS sensors.

    The E2-F6 model can shoot 4K / 120fps and 6K / 60fps footage with 15 stops of dynamic range, whereas the E2-F8 model can shoot 4K/6K/8K at 30fps with a claimed 14 stops of dynamic range. Both models feature 5G and 802.11n WiFi with an external antenna port, built-in stereo microphone, 3.5mm audio-in and audio-out stereo sockets, HDMI 2.0 Type-A, USB-C, two serial ports and aluminum alloy construction.

    The E2-F6 is slightly smaller than the E2-F8 at 91.2 x 99.2 x 89.1mm (3.5 x 3.9 x 3.5in) versus 91.2 x 99.2 x 99.1mm (3.5 x 3.9 x 3.9in) — the company hasn't disclosed the weight of either camera model. Both models can record in 8-bit H.264 and 10-bit H.265 with a max 300Mbps bit rate and 24-bit 48kHz audio. Likewise, both models are compatible with Sony NP-F series batteries, but they're not included with the cameras.

    Both the Z Cam E2-F6 and E2-F8 are available to order through B&H Photo.