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Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

All articles from Digital Photography Review
Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
  1. Top 10 sample galleries of the year #3: the Fujifilm X100F

    We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 and at long last we've reached our top 3 galleries. Holding it down with the bronze medal is the Fujifilm X100F.

    What do you say about a camera like the X100F? It's a staff favorite for sure – we gave it a gold award in our review. Even after publishing that, we found ourselves taking it on road trips and using it to photograph Seattle's famous cherry blossoms. We were even fortunate enough to get our hands on an early version of the X100F prior to its release and shot a beta sample gallery as well. Check that out below:


    Top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017:

    #10: Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art
    #9: Fujifilm GFX 50S
    #8: Nikon D7500
    #7: Olympus Tough TG-5
    #6: Sigma 85mm F1.4
    #5: Fujifilm X-T20
    #4: Leica M10
    #3: Fujifilm X100F
    #2: To be revealed on 11/23
    #1: To be revealed on 11/24

  2. 2017 Buying Guides: Best cameras for every kind of photographer

    There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.

    In each of these guides you'll find one or two main recommendations, and detailed content on several other cameras that deserve your consideration. Our recommendations span product class and cost, but if you'd rather shop by price, click here

    If you're specifically looking for a compact camera, check out our phones, drones and compacts buying guide hub here


    Maybe you want better photos in low light. Maybe you're tired of digital zoom. Whatever the reason, if you're looking for a capable, beginner-friendly camera to grow and learn with, we've got you covered in our guide to best cameras for beginners.

    Best cameras for beginners


    Quick. Unpredictable. Unwilling to sit still. Kids really are the ultimate test for a camera's autofocus system. In this guide we've compiled a shortlist of what we think are the best options for parents trying to keep up with young kids.

    Best cameras for parents


    There's no doubt that the digital revolution made it easier than ever before to pick up a camera and start learning photography. But it hasn't necessarily gotten easier to choose a first camera. We're here to help.

    Best cameras for students


    Whether you're piling the family in the minivan for a trip to the Magic Kingdom or backpacking through Southeast Asia, you're going to want to capture the experience with photographs.

    Best cameras for travel


    Are you a speed freak? Hungry to photograph anything that goes zoom? Or perhaps you just want to get Sports Illustrated level shots of your child's soccer game. Keep reading to find out which cameras we think are best for sports and action shooting.

    Best cameras for sports and action


    Video features have become an important factor to many photographers when choosing a new camera. Read on to find out which cameras we think are best for the videophile, at a variety of price points.

    Best cameras for video


    Landscape photography isn't as simple as just showing up in front of a beautiful view and taking a couple of pictures. Landscape shooters have a unique set of needs and requirements for their gear, and we've selected some of our favorites in this buying guide.

    Best cameras for landscapes


    Those shooting portraits and weddings need a camera with a decent autofocus system, which won't give up in low interior lighting. Good image quality at medium/high ISO sensitivity settings is a must, and great colors straight out of the camera will make your life much easier. These days, video is a big deal too. Read on to see which cameras are best suited to those tasks.

    Best cameras for people and events

  3. 2017 Buying Guides: Best cameras for any budget

    Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets from around $500 to well over $2000 and listed our favorite choices. So, if you want to give that special someone a holiday gift that won't bust your wallet, we've got you covered.

    If you're looking for a camera for a specific use case, we have plenty of suggestions right here.

    The cameras in this buying guide are light and portable, and several feature selfie-friendly LCDs. Generally speaking, you won't find a lot of direct controls or a lot of customizability, and 4K video is rare, but for those seeking a point-and-shoot experience with better image quality, these cameras fit the bill.

    Best cameras under $500


    The cameras in this buying guide tend to offer more direct controls than cheaper models, better autofocus systems, and some feature 4K video capture as well. Some of them are easy to pick up and use, while others require a bit more work to get the hang of.

    Best cameras under $1000


    Cameras in the $1000-1500 price range have excellent sensors (some full-frame), advanced autofocus systems and 4K video capture. Expect plenty of direct controls and customizability and, in some cases, weather-sealed bodies.

    Best cameras under $1500


    As you approach the $2000 price point you'll find flagship APS-C and Four Thirds cameras, built for speed and durability. You'll also find a handful of full-frame ILCs and DSLRs, with their own unique selling points.

    Best cameras under $2000


    If you're a serious enthusiast or working pro, the very best digital cameras on the market will cost you at least $2000. That's a lot of money, but generally speaking these cameras offer the highest resolution, the best build quality and the most advanced video specs out there, as well as fast burst rates and top-notch autofocus.

    Best cameras over $2000

  4. 2017 Buying Guides: Best compacts, drones and phones

    Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.

    If you want a compact camera that produces great quality photos without the hassle of changing lenses, there are plenty of choices available for every budget. All of the cameras in this buying guide have zoom lenses, with focal length ranges mostly spanning around 24-70mm (equivalent).

    Best pocketable enthusiast cameras


    The long zoom cameras in this buying guide fit into the enthusiast category, meaning that they offer solid build quality, electronic viewfinders and (usually) 4K video capture. All of these long zooms have 1"-type sensors, which slot in between the micro-sensors in phones and cheap compacts, and Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensors in interchangeable lens cameras.

    Best enthusiast long zoom cameras


    The fixed lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it's here that you'll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C format to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, so image quality is top-notch.

    Best fixed prime lens cameras


    All of the products in this guide fall into the 'buy and fly' category, meaning they require no extra components or customizations. Options range from personal 'selfie' drones to advanced models capable of producing professional-grade photos and video. Best consumer drones


    In 2017 phone manufacturers turned to software and computational imaging methods to achieve better detail, wider dynamic range and lower noise levels, as well as high-quality zooming and DSLR-like bokeh effects. We've put the latest flagship smartphones through their paces and can point you in the right direction.

    Best smartphone cameras

  5. UPDATED: Sony a7R III is still a star eater

    We sent some files to our friend Jim Kasson for analysis, and he confirms that the Sony a7R III is definitely still a Star Eater, despite several claims to the contrary that have been published online over the past week. That said, while his analyses don't suggest so, our images shot in the field suggest at least some improvement (more on this in the 'real world' section below).

    Looking at Kasson's graphs, one can clearly see the noise reduction kick in at 4s and above in Kasson's Fourier transform energy plots. Indeed, in our own shots of the stars with the a7R III and latest a7R II bodies, while the a7R III looks slightly better, all bodies only show stars that are larger than one pixel with a few neighboring pixels. This suggests that smaller (single pixel) stars are indeed 'eaten' or dimmed due to a spatial filtering algorithm.

    At a 3.2-second exposure, the 'spacial filtering' (Star Eater) is mild to non-existent: noise (in dB) is similar at all frequencies, so your stars shouldn't be affected. Credit: Jim Kasson

    But as soon as you hit 4-seconds, spacial filtering kicks in, which you see here as a drop in noise (in dB) at the highest frequencies (the right side of the graph, where 0.5 f / fs is the Nyquist limit). That means the smallest details have noise reduction applied to them, causing similar Star Eater problems that were seen in the a7R II. Credit: Jim Kasson

    Real-world examples

    We did our own night sky shootout of an a7R III vs. an a7R II v3.30 vs. an a7R II v3.00. Below, you can compare the a7R III vs. an a7R II with v3.00 firmware (which Jim confirmed to have similar noise reduction in his analyses):

    Many parts of the image, especially where stars are densely concentrated, show little to no difference between the Mark III and Mark II (v3.00). But if you look at sparser lower contrast regions, the Mark III does show an improvement: there are stars that aren't there in the Mark II shot, and there's generally more 'pop' to the stars. This is encouraging, but it's also difficult to rule out how the spatial filtering algorithm interacts with shots that might be ever-so-slightly focused differently.

    Should you care?

    While it's possible Sony may have tweaked the spatial filtering algorithm, the difference is often subtle, and we're still not seeing any pixel-sized stars in any of our shots (indeed, Jim Kasson visually shows us that single pixel-size detail is removed at 4s and above). But on the other hand, we still got some very nice starry skies out shooting in Sedona. Have a look at the full a7R III shot below and compare it to a similar one from the a7R II v3.00.

    A real-world nightscape shot with the Sony a7R III and a Sigma 14mm F1.8 lens. Sure it may be munching small, single-pixel stars, but many stars do remain, while hot pixels are suppressed. Whether or not this matters to you is something only you can decide. Click to view at 100%.

    15s, F1.8, ISO 3200, LENR off.

    While we have yet to do a direct comparison of a star field vs. a camera that doesn't employ such an algorithm, we can say this with confidence: while a lot of stars still survive 'Star Eater', the a7R III continues the trend of noise reduction that dims or erases small stars at exposure longer than 3.2s. There's some sense in this: Sony is ostensibly using this algorithm to avoid hot pixels that might otherwise riddle long exposures. But some nightscape and astro- photographers wish to be given a choice as to whether or not this form of noise reduction is applied. Alternatively, the noise reduction could (reversibly) be applied in post.

    And so, this seems a missed opportunity for Sony, which could have offered a choice to its users. Instead, the forced noise reduction may give pause to dedicated astrophotographers who can opt for cameras without this issue (see a similar energy plot for the Nikon D850 at 30s). Other photographers happy with the number of stars still in their shots likely won't care.

    Other photographers happy with the number of stars still in their shots likely won't care

    We'll be investigating further to see if the improvements we noted in portions of the Mark III image over the v3.00 Mark II one are real, so stay tuned.

  6. Facebook just doubled the resolution of photos in Facebook Messenger

    Photo messaging has been around for a long time, but as smartphone cameras get better and better, this form of 'visual communication' is only becoming more common. That's why, earlier today, Facebook announced a major update to Facebook Messenger that doubles the resolution of the photos you send from 2K to 4K—or, more specifically, to a max of 4096 x 4096 pixels.

    "We heard that people want to send and receive high resolution photos in Messenger," reads the release from Facebook, "and considering people send more than 17 billion photos through Messenger every month, we're making your conversations richer, sharper, and better than ever."

    And just in case you're wondering: this resolution bump should not affect speed. According to Facebook, "your photos will also be sent just as quickly before, even at this new, higher resolution."

    Here are a few before and after samples that show what doubling the resolution from the previous 2K looks like IRL.

    *The images on the left were reproduced to reflect the previous default resolution at 2K. The images on the right reflect the new default resolution at 4K

    To take advantage of the new feature yourself, update your FB Messenger app to the latest version and every photo you send should automatically go out at up to 4096 x 4096 pixels.

    For now, the feature is limited to iPhone and Android users in the US, Canada, France, Australia, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. Additional countries will be added 'in the coming weeks.'

    Press Release

    Making Visual Messaging Even Better - Introducing High Resolution Photos in Messenger

    By Sean Kelly & Hagen Green, Product Managers, Messenger

    The way people message today is no longer limited by just text; visual messaging as our new universal language is much more emotional and expressive. Whether you're catching up over moments big and small — like a recent vacation, an amazing meal at a new restaurant, a new member of the family, or the first snow day of the year — sharing photos of our experiences brings our conversations to life.

    We're making significant investments in how people communicate visually on Messenger. That's why today, we're excited to share that people can send and receive photos in Messenger at 4K resolution — or up to 4,096 x 4,096 pixels per image — the highest quality many smartphones support. We heard that people want to send and receive high resolution photos in Messenger — and considering people send more than 17 billion photos through Messenger every month — we're making your conversations richer, sharper, and better than ever.

    Your photos will also be sent just as quickly before, even at this new, higher resolution.

    You may be curious how much of a difference 4K resolution makes. Take a look at the before and after examples in the gallery above. On the right at 4K resolution, once you zoom in, the photo is much sharper and clearer so you can see every detail. That's what we mean by bringing your conversations to life.

    To send and share photos at 4K resolution, first update your Messenger app to make sure you have the latest version. Then open a conversation and tap the camera roll icon. Select the photo, tap send, and the person you're messaging with will receive the high resolution photo.

    Starting today, we are rolling out 4K resolution on both iPhone and Android to people in the US, Canada, France, Australia, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. In the coming weeks, we're planning to roll out 4k resolution to additional countries.

    We know that every message matters to you, no matter how or what you're sharing. We appreciate that you continue to use Messenger to connect with the people you care about most.

  7. Video: first look at the Leica CL

    Meet the Leica CL, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor. It uses Leica L mount and sits alongside the Leica TL2. The CL differs from the TL2 by offering an electronic viewfinder and a traditional control layout. Find out what else it's got going for it in our 90 second 'First look' video.

  8. The Leica CL is (almost) what the TL should have been

    Hands-on with Leica CL

    'What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.'

    If you know your Bible (which I must admit I don't – I had to look this phrase up to get the exact wording) you'll know that this oft-quoted proverb comes from Ecclesiastes 1:9. In a year that saw the commercial release of new versions of the Summaron 28mm F5.6 and Thambar 90mm F2.2, it may appear that that Leica's product planners have been a bit stuck on this passage of late.

    With the release of the CL, a casual observer with a decently long memory might assume that the company's retro obsession has struck again, but not so fast...

    Hands-on with Leica CL

    While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. It's digital for starters, and shares a lot of its core specification with the 24MP TL2, while offering a more conventional handling experience and a built-in viewfinder, in a body similar in size to the X2 (or depending on your era and preferred frames of reference, the IIIG).

    We've been using Leica's newest mirrorless interchangeable lens camera for a little while now – click through for our first impressions and a deeper look at the CL's feature set.

    Control Interface

    The T/L and TL2 are beautiful cameras, but their touchscreen-focused user interfaces take some getting used to, and to be completely honest I never got used to them. The CL offers a more conventional handling experience which after extended use, I'd describe as being a hybrid of the TL2 and the Leica M10.

    The twin control dials on the top of the camera serve as the main controls for exposure adjustment, and each has a switch at its center, which enables the dial function to be modified. Whether or not you get on with these dials is probably down to personal preference, but I really wish that one of them was on the front of the camera, for operation with my index finger (rather than my thumb).

    Top LCD screen

    Nestled between the twin control dials is the tiniest LCD I've seen since the Ricoh GR1. At 128 x 58px it serves as a basic status display for current exposure settings, and it automatically illuminates in low light (very handy).

    Electronic viewfinder

    Another very welcome addition to the CL compared to the T-series is a built-in viewfinder. Adding an accessory finder to the TL/2 is entirely possible, and makes the cameras more versatile, but it also makes them a lot bulkier. Plus the black Visoflex finder isn't a good aesthetic match for the brushed aluminum cameras, and Leica owners care about that sort of thing.

    Electronic viewfinder

    The CL's viewfinder isn't completely flush with the top of the camera, but the slight bump (rather reminiscent of the Olympus PEN-F) doesn't add much bulk, and the high resolution (2.36MP) and good magnification (0.74X equiv.) provide a crisp, clear view. Eye-relief is a sunglasses-friendly 20mm and a poppable-lockable +/-4 diopter is on hand for wearers of prescription eyeglasses.

    Rear touch screen

    The CL's 3", 1.04 million-dot rear LCD is fixed, and touch-sensitive. Unlike the TL2 however, the CL's conventional button and dial interface means that the touchscreen is by and large an optional, rather than integral part of the handling experience.

    I say 'by and large' because I have had cause to curse the CL's touchscreen on several occasions since I've been using the camera. In touch AF mode, the CL works as you'd expect it to. You hold the camera out in front of you and touch the screen, and the AF point is positioned at the spot you just touched. But if you then raise the camera to your eye, especially if you're shooting vertically, it is more or less guaranteed that your nose will reposition the AF point to the very top of the image. This is the kind of operational quirk that I associate with earlier, more primitive touch implementations, and it is hugely annoying.

    While it is easy to steer clear of touch-AF and touch-shutter modes through the AF mode menu settings, there is unfortunately no way to disable swipe gestures and image review scrolling and zooming touch features. More than a few times I have found myself accidentally 'swiping' (read: lightly brushing) the screen from the right which switches the CL into movie mode.

    Swipe gestures

    The trouble is that once you're in movie standby mode: a) you might not actually realize at first, which is confusing and b), assuming you got there accidentally, it is far from obvious how to get back to normal stills mode. The first couple of times I encountered this issue (bear in mind that I didn't have access to a user manual) I actually gave up and did a hard reset to factory settings just to get back to the business of taking pictures.

    When I raised the issue with our contact at Leica, he informed me that a long touch followed by a swipe on the left of the screen switches back to stills mode. He also reminded me that the button in the center of the leftmost control dial can be used to switch between exposure modes (including movie).

    This is all well and good, but I really wish it was possible to disable the swipe gestures altogether.

    24MP sensor

    The CL's sensor is a 24MP APS-C Bayer-type, without an AA filter. Leica claims 14 stops of dynamic range, which seems about right given the ~40MB Raw files (bearing in mind that we're not allowed to lab test this early production sample). JPEG image quality is exactly what I'd expect after using the TL2, and compares well to competitive 24MP APS-C cameras.

    Alongside Ricoh (and Samsung, RIP) Leica is one of the few companies to offer Raw shooting in the .DNG format, which is always good to see – and makes shooting pre-production sample galleries for DPReview much easier. Perhaps as an indication of its enthusiast/semi-pro pretensions, when you reset the CL to factory settings (which as previously noted I have done, more than once) it defaults to RAW + JPEG capture.

    Disappointingly, but not surprisingly at this point, the CL offers neither in-camera stabilization nor automatic sensor cleaning. Since like many mirrorless cameras the CL's sensor is fully exposed when the lens is removed from the camera, dust can (and in my experience does) get into your pictures unless you're very careful.

    Mechanical + E-shutter

    The CL's shutter is a hybrid mechanical/electronic type. It is fully mechanical to 1/8000sec, and fully electronic up to an equivalent shutter duration of 1/25,000sec. A full-time 'silent' E-shutter mode is also available, but interestingly, electronic first-curtain shutter is not an option. I haven't seen any evidence of noticeable shutter-shock during my shooting so far, but we'll be sure to test this in the lab once we receive a reviewable camera.

    The CL's maximum shooting rate is a respectable 10fps, with focus locked. Leica claims that this performance is thanks to the new shutter, in combination with the CL's Maestro II image processor – the same generation processor (though not necessarily the same chip) that we've seen used in the TL2 and M10.

    4K / 30p, 1080/60p

    The CL is the second camera in the L-mount lineup (after the TL2) to offer 4K video capture, at 30p. Overall, despite the headline 4K mode the CL's video feature set is pretty unremarkable. 4K/24p capture is not possible, and with no microphone socket, videographers are limited to in-camera microphones for audio recording. The microphones are visible in this image, just forward of the CL's hotshoe.

    Battery

    The CL uses the same Panasonic-manufactured BP-DC12 battery as the Q, and offers an unremarkable CIPA rating of between 220-240 shots per charge. In normal use I've found that (unsurprisingly) this rating is conservative, but for people who regularly shoot a lot of video, I'd definitely recommending bringing a spare – especially if you're planning on being away from a charger for a while.

    Part of the reason I say this is that the CL does not feature a USB socket and as such, there's no option for USB charging, which is a shame.

    New 18mm pancake lens

    The L-series lens lineup is still relatively small, but it grows slightly with the addition of the Elmarit 18mm F2.8 pancake prime – the lens that was mostly attached to the front of the CL during my time with the camera.

    New 18mm pancake lens

    The Japanese-manufacturered Elmarit is tiny at only 20.5mm (0.8in) in length and lightweight at only 80g (2.8oz), but makes up for its skinny dimensions with a big fat price-tag. The 18mm F2.8 will be available in black or silver, either on its own for $1295 or in a kit with the CL.

    M-Adapter L

    The Leica CL is also fully compatible with the M-Adapter L, which enables virtually any M-mount (and most Leica thread-mount, via an additional adapter) lenses to be used with a 1.5X crop. Modern M-mount lenses with 6-bit coding can be 'read' by the CL, allowing for in-camera profile corrections to be applied.

    This is my battered old LTM 5cm F1.5 Summarit, which becomes a battered old 7.5cm equiv., when mounted on the CL.

    Final thoughts (for now)

    On balance, the Leica CL is a nicely-designed camera that is pleasant to use. It's not perfect, but compared to the T/L and TL2 that came before it, it's more practical for everyday photography and easier to get to grips with. The built-in viewfinder is excellent, and I appreciate the more or less conventional button-and-dial interface, and the straightforward, M10-inspired menu. Less convincing is the touchscreen implementation. While the ability to set focus by touch in some AF modes, and scroll through / zoom into images in playback is really handy, the frequent problem of the AF point being repositioned by my nose, and the 'always on' swipe functionality did frustrate me.

    Image quality from the CL's 24MP sensor seems excellent, although I'm not wholly convinced by the 18mm lens. During my time with the CL I've used it almost exclusively with the new 18mm F2.8 pancake, and I can't deny that it's a pretty powerful combination – as well as being truly pocketable. Unfortunately, off-center sharpness isn't as good as I would hope from a $1200+ prime, and the ~F4 equivalent aperture (in 35mm terms) limits its usefulness for low light photography, or anything where you might want a modicum of foreground/background separation.

    That said, there are other, very good quality lenses in Leica's T-mount lineup, and the CL will play very well with all of them, albeit at the expense of some pocketability.

    What do you think of the new Leica CL? Let us know in the comments.

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