News

Meyer Optik Trioplan 35+ Kickstarter unlocks colorful lens trio reward

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 19:06

Meyer Optik has an active Kickstarter campaign seeking funding for its new Trioplan 35+ Fine Art Lens, and though 22 days remain in that campaign, backers have already well exceeded the company's $50,000 base funding goal. As a reward for the high amount pledged (about $480,000 total at the moment), Meyer Optik has announced the launch of a new limited edition reward: green, red, blue and titanium versions of the Trioplan lens.

According to Meyer Optik, it took a total of six minutes post-launch for the Kickstarter campaign to reach its $50,000 funding goal. Over the following week, the Kickstarter went on to raise in excess of $420,000, and the company has launched the special Kickstarter stretch reward as a result. Says company CEO Dr. Stefan Immes, ‘The new colors are strictly limited in quantity and, therefore, [are] a real collector’s item.'

The crowdfunding campaign now includes pledge options for the new colors, of which 50 units are available per color. All four special ‘super limited color edition’ Trioplan lenses are priced at $799 and are estimated to ship to backers this upcoming November.

Via: Photography Blog

Categories: News

Apple launches new 9.7" iPad and limited edition iPhone 7 in red

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 18:12

Apple has today announced a new 9.7" iPad model that is simply called the iPad and replaces the iPad Air 2. Compared to the latter, the A8X processor has been replaced with the A9 chip that is also being used in the iPhone 6s. Due to a larger 8610 mAh battery the new model is at 7.5mm also 1.4mm thicker than the iPad Air 2. The rest of the specifications, including the 9.7" display with a resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels, the 8MP/F2.4 rear camera and the 1.2MP front camera remain unchanged. TouchID with Apple Pay is on board as well. 

In an unusual move, Apple has lowered prices. In the past 9.7" iPads started at $499. The 32GB base version of the new model is only $329. The 128GB variant will set you back $429. An additional $130 gets you the cellular version of the respective models. The new iPad will be available in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold starting March 24 in the US and 20 other countries. Apple also reduced the price of the iPad mini 4 which now comes in only one storage version with 128GB at $399. The cellular version is $529.

In addition to the iPad, Apple also launched the (Product) Red edition of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Proceeds of the (Product) Red line go towards charitable causes – in this case, they go to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS programs.

The new models only come as 128GB and 256GB storage versions. The red iPhone 7 starts at $750, the Plus version is $870. In both cases an additional $100 gets you the 256GB model. The devices will be available from March 24.

Also new is a video sharing app called Clips. It lets you treat your videos with a large variety of transformations, overlays and filters and also offers a number of more conventional video editing features. Final results can be shared to any app but Clip lacks some of the social networking features of apps like Vine or Snapchat. 

Categories: News

Android 7.1.1 update for OnePlus 3T brings improved video stabilization

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 17:55
In our review of the OnePlus 3T we were in general quite impressed by the device's camera performance and thought the 3T represented excellent value for money. However, video stabilization was a point of criticism as panning could lead to noticeably shaky footage.    OnePlus claims to have fixed the issue with its OxygenOS 4.1.0 update which is based on Android 7.1.1. and says the performance of the electronic video stabilization is now on the same level as the Google Pixel. Looking at the sample clip we recorded after installing the update we'll have to agree. Stabilization is noticeably improved and panning is now buttery smooth, allowing for very steady hand-held shooting.     Other new features and improvements of the update include the following:
  • Upgraded Android 7.1.1
  • Updated Google security patch to 1st March 2017
  • Added expanded screenshots
  • Improved picture taking of moving objects with blur reduction
  • Improved WiFi connectivity
  • Improved bluetooth connectivity
  • General bug fixes

The over-the-air (OTA) update will be incremental. So if you own a OnePlus 3T and haven't received it yet, don't despair, it should arrive on your device within the next few days. 

Categories: News

US bans most electronic devices, including cameras, on flights from eight countries

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 16:52
 Image: Etihad

If you are planning to fly to the US from some Middle-Eastern and African countries and carry camera equipment or other electronics, you should probably have a closer look at the new rules put in place by the Trump Administration on Tuesday. 

Passengers departing from 10 airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates won't be allowed to carry on electronic devices larger than a cellphone. This includes laptops, tablets and cameras. 

The new rules took effect at 3 a.m. E.D.T. on Tuesday, and must be followed within 96 hours by foreign airlines flying to the United States from the affected airports – but not US-carriers. It is currently unknown how long the ban will remain in place.

According to Royal Jordanian airlines, medical items are exempt from the ban and banned electronic items can still be transported in checked baggage. Officials estimate that overall 50 daily flights to the US will be affected. Homeland Security says the ban is not based on a threat of an imminent attack.

Categories: News

Fujifilm X-T20 Review

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 14:41

The Fujifilm X-T20 is a midrange SLR-styled mirrorless camera that sits above the X-E2S and below the X-T2. The X-T20 replaces the X-T10 and offers a host of new features, including Fujifilm's latest 24MP CMOS sensor and image processor, faster burst shooting, any improved autofocus system, 4K video capture and more. In many ways, it's a smaller, less expensive 'little brother' to the X-T2, a camera that earned a Gold Award when we reviewed it last year.

The X-T20 finds itself in a competitive field of both 'mirrored' (DSLR) and mirrorless cameras. Buyers are likely to find themselves deciding between midrange DSLRs like the Nikon D5600 and Canon EOS 77D, as well as mirrorless models such as the Sony a6300, Panasonic GX850 and the Olympus E-M5 II.

Fujifilm X-T20 Key Features:
  • 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor
  • Up to 325 selectable AF points (169 of which offer phase detection)
  • 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • 3" 1.04M-dot tilting touchscreen LCD
  • 4K UHD video at up to 30 fps, with clean output over HDMI
  • 8 fps continuous shooting with AF, 5 fps with live view
  • 2.5mm jack for external microphone or wired remote control
  • Dials for exposure compensation, shutter speed and drive mode

The X-T20 is more about the overall package than one or two specs that standout. That said, the 24MP sensor has proven its worth on the X-Pro2 and X-T2, and the AF system has also been refined in a good way. The EVF is a pleasure to use, though the touch functions on the tilting LCD are limited. The burst rate hasn't changed since the X-T10, but the buffer size has been dramatically increased. 4K video has also been added, helping to keep the X-T20 at an even level with the best of its peers.

And let's not forget the design of the camera which has become a trademark of Fujifilm's X-series models. The classic DSLR-style design isn't getting old (at least for this reviewer) and the build quality is very good for a $900 body.

Compared to...

Below we'll lay out the similarities and differences between the X-T20 and the Sony a6300 and OIympus E-M5 II mirrorless cameras, along with the Canon EOS 77D DSLR.

  Fujifilm X-T20 Sony a6300 Olympus E-M5 II Canon EOS 77D MSRP (body) $899 $999 $1099 $899 Sensor 24MP APS-C 24MP APS-C 16MP Four Thirds 24MP APS-C Color filter X-Trans Bayer Bayer Bayer Lens mount Fujifilm X Sony E Micro Four Thirds Canon EF/EF-S ISO range
(expanded) 100-51200 100-51200 100-25600 100-51200 Image stabilization Lens-based Lens-based In-body Lens-based AF system Hybrid1 Hybrid1 Contrast-detect Phase Detect + Dual Pixel AF2 LCD type Tilting Tilting Fully articulating Fully articulating Touchscreen Yes No Yes Yes Viewfinder (magnification3) EVF (0.62x) EVF (0.7x) EVF (0.74x) OVF (0.51x) Max shutter speed
(Electronic) 1/4000 sec (1/32,000) 1/4000 sec 1/8000 sec (1/16,000) 1/4000 sec Built-in flash Yes Yes No
Clip-on, rotating/ bouncable included Yes Flash x-sync 1/180 sec 1/160 sec 1/250 sec 1/200 sec Burst rate
(with AF) 8 fps 11 fps 5 fps 6 fps Mic/headphone
jacks Yes / No Yes / No Yes / No Yes / No Video UHD 4K @ 30p UHD 4K @ 30p 1080/60p 1080/60p Wireless Wi-Fi Wi-Fi w/NFC Wi-Fi Wi-Fi w/NFC Weather-sealed No Yes Yes No Battery life 350 shots 400 shots 310 shots 600 shots4 Dimensions 118 x 83 x 41mm 120 x 67 x 49mm 124 x 85 x 45mm 131 x 100 x 76mm Weight 383 g 404 g 469 g 540 g

1. Hybrid denotes contrast and on-sensor phase detection.
2. Dual Pixel AF is a variation of on-sensor phase detection that has left/right-looking diodes on every pixel, rather than masked-out pixels on traditional PDAF systems.
3. 35mm equivalent
4. Live view battery life rated at 270 shots.

Lots to talk about before we really dive further into the X-T20. The X-T20 is remarkably competitive with its peers: sometimes an equal and other times surpassing the other cameras. The only area in which it falls a bit short is with regard to its electronic viewfinder, which is smaller than the other two mirrorless cameras (though it's larger than what you'll find on the EOS 77D). It's not weather-sealed like the a6300 and E-M5 II, so if you want that on a Fujifilm you'll need to step up to the X-T2, which is nearly double the price. 

Categories: News

Satellite eye on Earth: February 2017 – in pictures

Vibrant vegetation in a Venezuelan lake, Saharan dust in snowy Sierra Nevada, cloud vortices in South Korea, a vast solar farm in China, and a lone ship in the Atlantic are among our satellite images this month

Every so often, a vibrant green colour infuses the waters of Lake Maracaibo. Floating vegetation – likely duckweed – was swirling in the Venezuelan lake when Nasa’s Aqua satellite flew over in February 2017. Most of the time, Maracaibo’s waters are stratified into layers, with nutrient-rich, cooler, saltier water at the bottom, and a warmer, fresher layer near the surface. But after heavy rains, the layers can mix and make the lake an ideal habitat for plant growth. A narrow strait roughly 6km (4 miles) wide and 40 km (25 miles) long connects the lake to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea. The influx of saltwater through the strait makes Maracaibo an estuarine lake. This mixing causes the water currents responsible for the concentric swirl pattern, according to Lawrence Kiage, a professor of geoscience at Georgia State University.

Continue reading...
Categories: News

Thinking about buying a Fujifilm GFX 50S? Read this first

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 10:30

Fujifilm’s GFX 50S announcement has turned a lot of heads, and for good reason. We love Fujifilm cameras. It’s hard not to – they offer excellent ergonomics with a level of direct control that photographers itch for, and Fujifilm’s color science renders images that harken back to the days of film, while retaining all the advantages of digital. Meanwhile, the X-Trans color filter array (CFA) offers a number of advantages compared to traditional Bayer CFAs, showing decreased false color and a slight noise advantage due to a (relatively) greater proportion of green pixels.

Ultimately, though, the image quality of Fujifilm’s best cameras was limited by their APS-C sized sensors, which simply cannot capture as much light as similar silicon in larger sizes. And if you’ve kept up with our recent technical articles, you’ll know that the amount of total light you’ve captured is arguably the largest determinant of image quality.

'Fujifilm skipped the arguably saturated full-frame market and went straight to medium format.'

That left many of us wondering when Fujifilm would step up to full-frame (35mm). But Fujifilm went one better – they skipped the arguably saturated full-frame market and went straight to medium format. In a rather compact, lightweight mirrorless form-factor at that. That made a lot of sense especially when you consider Fujifilm’s heritage in medium format film cameras, and its experience making medium-format lenses for other brands.

So, finally, here comes the GFX 50S: Fujifilm ergonomics and colors, but with all the advantages offered by larger sensors. But while heads turn, eyes widen, and colleagues fight over who gets to take the camera out for a shoot, personally I’m in need of a little convincing. And think you should be too, if you’re thinking about plopping down a fat wad of cash for this seemingly drool-worthy system.

But what’s not to like, you ask? Bear with me…

Theoretical advantages of larger sensors

The potential advantages of larger sensors can broadly be split into four areas: noise in low light, dynamic range, subject isolation (shallow depth-of-field), and resolution. But zoom into the following 36MP at 100% - are any of those lacking?

ISO 64 on a Nikon D810 gets me medium format-esque signal:noise ratio (image cleanliness), along with subject isolation I can't get on medium format just yet, not at this focal length anyway (which would require a non-existent 44mm F2.5 MF lens). The incredible sharpness of this lens means I get good use out of those 36MP even wide open at F2. Photo: Rishi Sanyal (Nikon D810 | Sigma 24-35mm @ 35mm F2)

The question is: does the GFX 50S currently deliver on all, or any, of these advantages over what the best of full-frame has to offer? Let’s look at each separately.

Low light (noise) performance

For the same f-number and shutter speed (or ‘focal plane exposure’), a larger sensor is exposed to more total light. The same light per unit area is projected by the lens, but the larger sensor has more area available capturing it. An image made with more light has less relative photon shot noise (the noise that results from the fact that light arrives randomly at the imaging plane). The more light you capture, the more you ‘average’ out these fluctuations, leading to a cleaner image (that’s the laymen’s description of it anyway; read about it more in-depth here).

That’s why a full-frame camera generally gives you cleaner images than your smartphone.* So if more light means better images, that’s a clear win for the GFX 50S, right?

Not so fast...

No, literally, not so fast. The lenses available for the GFX format simply aren’t as fast as those offered by full-frame competitors. The fastest lens on Fujifilm’s GFX roadmap is F2, which in full-frame equivalent terms is F1.56** (the concept of equivalence is out of scope for this article, but you can read about it in-depth here; for now, just remember the GFX has a reverse crop factor, relative to full-frame, of 0.79x). And most of the current MF lenses hover around F2.8 and F4, or F2.2 and F3.2 equivalent, respectively. That means that if they had the exact same underlying silicon technology (or sensor performance), a full-frame camera with a F2.2 (or F3.2) lens should do just as well as the GFX 50S with its F2.8 (or F4) lens. Even if were were to think ahead to the MF 100MP sensor Sony provides in the Phase One cameras, its 0.64x crop factor at best yields a F1.3 full-frame equivalent lenses from the one F2 lens announced, still not beating out the Canon 85/1.2, and barely beating out the plethora of available F1.4 full-frame lenses. So even if the newly announced G-mount lenses cover the wider medium format image circle (which I'd sure hope they would), things still aren't so exciting.

But full-frame can do better than that: F1.4 and F1.8 lenses are routinely available for full-frame cameras, typically for less money too. An F1.4 lens projects twice as much light per unit area than a F2 lens, and 4x as much as a F2.8 lens, amply making up for the 1.7x smaller sensor surface area of full-frame.

That means full-frame cameras can capture as much, or more, light as the GFX 50S simply by offering faster lenses. But wait, it there's more...

$(document).ready(function() { ImageComparisonWidget({"containerId":"reviewImageComparisonWidget-62035337","widgetId":489,"initialStateId":3472}) })

Companies like Sony have poured a lot of R&D into their full-frame (and smaller) sensors, and the a7R II uses a backside-illuminated design that makes it more efficient than the sensor used in the 50S. It also offers a dual-gain architecture that flips the camera into a high gain mode at ISO 640, allowing it to effectively overcome any noise introduced by the camera’s own electronics. In other words, the a7R II’s sensor is better able to use the light projected onto it, relative to the MF sensor – ironically a sensor made by Sony itself - in the G50S (or Pentax 645Z, or Hasselblad X1D). This allows it to match the low light noise performance of the larger sensor in the GFX (and Pentax 645Z and Hasselblad X1D) even at the same shutter speed and f-number. See our studio scene comparison widget above.

'The Sony a7R II’s sensor is better able to use the light projected onto it, relative to the MF sensor'

So if we start with parity, guess what happens when you open up that aperture on the a7R II to an f-number simply unavailable to any current medium format system? You guessed it: you get better low light performance on full-frame. Whoa.

Dynamic Range

Although the same f-number and shutter speed give a larger sensor more total light, they receive the same amount of light per unit area. Most sensors of a similar generation have broadly similar tolerance for light per unit area (technically: similar full well capacity per unit area). But a larger sensor devotes more sensor area to any scene element, so can tolerate more total light per scene element before clipping. That means that for the same focal plane exposure, despite clipping highlights at a similar point, a larger sensor will render shadows (whose noise levels define the other limit of dynamic range) from more total light. And the same logic that applies to low light noise applies here as well: more total light = less relative shot noise and less impact of any noise from camera electronics. That means cleaner shadows, and more dynamic range.

So another clear win for the larger sensor GFX, no? Well, no. Because someone poured a lot of R&D into the Nikon D810 sensor (noticing a trend here?), giving it higher full-well capacity per unit area than any other sensor we’ve measured to date: its ISO 64 mode. Each pixel can hold more total charge before clipping, relative to equally-sized pixels on any other sensor in a consumer camera. That means it can tolerate a longer exposure at ISO 64, longer enough (at least 2/3 EV, or 60% more light) to capture as much total light as the 68% larger sensor in the GFX 50S exposed at its base ISO (100). Don’t believe us? Check out our real-world dynamic range comparison of the Nikon D810 vs the Pentax 645Z, which ostensibly shares the same sensor as the GFX 50S:

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In this shoot-out, we exposed each camera to the right as far as possible before clipping a significant chunk of pixels in the brightest portion of the Raw (in the orange sky just above the mountains). The D810, in this case, was able to tolerate a full stop longer exposure***, which allows its (pushed) shadows to remain as clean as the 645Z. That's the (scientific, not baloney) reason we claimed the Nikon D810 to have medium format-like image quality. Because its dynamic range and overall signal:noise performance at ISO 64 rivals many current medium format cameras their base ISOs (though not the huge new 100MP MF Sony sensor in the new Phase One). Just look at its massive SNR advantage (read: image cleanliness) for all tones at ISO 64 over the Canon 5DS R at ISO 100 - we intend to plot the Fujifilm GFX 50S on the same graph, and don't expect it to show any advantage to the D810. Because science.

Read about this all more in-depth in our D810 review here, and check out Bill Claff's quantitative data that shows a 0.22 EV base ISO dynamic range difference between the D810 and 645Z - hardly noticeable, much less something to write home about.

‘OK but it’s not fair to compare ISO 64 to ISO 100!’

Fair enough, there’s a little more to the story. ISO 64 does require more exposure than ISO 100, either via a brighter lens, or longer exposure time. But one might argue that under circumstances where you care about dynamic range – i.e. high contrast scenes – you’re typically not light-limited to begin with, and can easily give the camera as much light as needed. Either because you’re shooting on a tripod, you’re using studio lights and can just crank them up, or because there’s so much light to begin with (it is a high contrast scene, right?) You’re working at or near base ISO anyway, so you shouldn’t have trouble adding 2/3 EV exposure by opening up the lens or lengthening the shutter speed a bit.

'You’re working at or near base ISO anyway, so you shouldn’t have trouble adding 2/3 EV shutter speed'

But, yes, if you’re in a light-limited situation (i.e. you’re not shooting at base ISO) and it’s high enough contrast that you care about dynamic range (have to expose for highlights then push shadows), then the GFX 50S will have the upper hand here. But dare I say, that’s quite the niche use case: keep in mind that most situations demanding higher ISOs tend to be in lower light, where you care more about general noise performance, not dynamic range (since low light scenes tend to have lower contrast). And if that’s what you care about, there’s the a7R II which, although it may clip highlights a bit earlier, can give you as good, or better, low light noise performance… [link back to Noise section above].

But I'll concede – if you want both the base ISO dynamic range of the D810, and the low light noise performance of an a7R II (albeit with F2 or slower lenses), then the GFX might be your ticket.

Shallow Depth-of-Field

As we calculated in our ‘Low light (noise) performance’ section above, the fastest lens on Fujifilm’s roadmap is ~F1.6 full-frame equivalent, with most current available lenses being F2.2 equivalent or slower. Since full-frame routinely has F1.4 (equivalent) lenses available, you actually get more subject isolation, and blurrier backgrounds, with full-frame than with medium format.

And, no, the ‘but larger formats have more compression because you use longer focal length lenses for the same field-of-view’ argument is false. Just say no to the compression myth. For equivalent focal lengths/apertures, there's no extra compression. Compression is relative only to equivalent focal length and subject distance (or subject magnification), and its relative distance to the background. Not the format you're shooting on. Don’t believe us, have a look for yourself:

46mm F2.8 on APS-C is roughly equivalent to 70mm F4.3 on full-frame - meaning the two shots above should be virtually identical. And they are, save for a tiny bit more DOF in the full-frame shot because F4.5 was the closest I could get to F4.3. Now, of course, you can get shallower DOF on full-frame, for example by shooting at F2.8. But that's because those faster lenses are available for full-frame.

They're not in Fujifilm's lineup, which includes two F2.8 lenses, one F2 lens, and a few F4 lenses - which are equivalent to F2.2, F1.6, and F3.2 in full-frame terms, respectively.

Without brighter lenses, there’s just no reason to get excited about medium format for subject isolation and blurry backgrounds. If you're a bokeh fanatic, full-frame’s arguably the sweet spot.

Resolution

OK, finally, some good news. Well, theoretically anyway.

If you have two differently sized sensors with the same pixel count, the smaller one will be more demanding on its lens (it samples the lens at more lines per mm for the same scene frequency). Manufacturing larger lenses is also slightly easier, since the same relative tolerance level can be achieved, despite a larger absolute variance.

So if you’re looking for true 50MP of detail across the frame, you’re more likely to get it with the GFX 50S than with a comparable 50MP full-frame sensor, simply because of the realities of lens design and tolerances. That said, we’ve been told that some of the newer full-frame lens designs were designed with 80 to 100MP in mind, on full-frame sensors. And with the eye-popping performance of some of the newest full-frame lenses we’ve seen, from varied manufacturers, we’re not inclined to disagree. We’ve seen some 50MP files from the 5DS R paired with truly stellar lenses where we simply can’t imagine anything better, resolution-wise. In fact, at ~F5.6-6.2 equivalent, I'm not seeing a major resolution advantage of the medium format cameras over the full-frame cameras in our studio scene comparison tool, and the 50MP full-frame image below isn't exactly starved for resolution, is it?

50MP Canon 5DS R image, shot with a Sigma 24-35mm F2 lens at F2. At F2 full-frame equiv., this image would have been impossible to shoot on the Fujifilm GFX 50S without a 44mm F2.5 lens, which doesn't exist, nor is on Fujifilm's roadmap. And despite the 5DS R's smaller pixels for the same total pixel count sensor, this image isn't exactly starving for resolution and sharpness at 1:1 viewing, thanks to modern lens design. Photo: Rishi Sanyal

Put another way: if you’re seeing eye-popping resolution at F2 above and here and here (and even at F1.4 on some new lenses) when viewing a Canon 5DS R 50MP full-frame file at 100% (do click on the above image and view at 100%), do you want or need a truer 50MP? Or do you want even more than 50MP, particularly if it'll come at the cost of more depth-of-field, since there are hardly any F2 equivalent lenses that'll give you the subject isolation and background bokeh you see in the full-frame shot above?

Only you can answer that question, but it is true that physics being physics, larger sensors will always tend to out-resolve smaller sensors with equivalent glass. And so this is the area where we most expect to see an advantage to the Fujifilm system, especially over time as we approach 100MP, and beyond. It’s probably easier for a F1.8 prime paired with the GFX 50S to out-resolve a F1.4 prime on a 5DS R when both systems are shot wide open, but whether that will be the case (or if Fujifilm will even make a F1.8 or brighter prime for the system) remains to be seen. I certainly don’t think it would be a cheap combination.

Thanks, DPR, for saving me money / killing my hopes and dreams

Still excited about the Fujifilm GFX 50S and Hasselblad X1D? Perhaps you still should be. You get Fujifilm ergonomics and color science in a body capable of far better image quality than Fujifilm's APS-C offerings. But remember you can emulate much of that color science in Raw converters with proper profiles (we're looking into a separate article on this). More importantly, remember that equivalence tells us that a F1.8 medium format prime is what the GFX 50S actually needs to at least match the performance from modern full-frames paired with F1.4 lenses, from the perspective of noise and shallow depth-of-field. And that’s before you consider the advanced silicon technologies we’ve seen in different full-frame (and smaller) sensors that we haven’t yet seen in any medium format sensor. These advances have, for example, allowed a Nikon D810 to catch up to the dynamic range of the Pentax 645Z at base ISO, and the BSI, dual-gain a7R II sensor to catch up to the GFX 50S in low light noise performance.

Still, as I've said, physics is physics. For equivalent apertures and final output resolutions, we do expect medium format to yield a slight resolution advantage, thanks to its lower demands on resolving power of lenses. But the extent of this advantage, especially given some of the tremendous progress we’ve seen in recent lens designs, remains to be seen: I'm not starving for eye-popping detail at 1:1 viewing of 50 and 42MP files when pairing a 5DS R or a7R II with stellar modern prime lenses.

'as medium format evolves, the same gains we see in full-frame over smaller sensors might find their ways into the format.'

Of course, as medium format evolves, the same gains we see in full-frame over smaller sensors might find their ways into the format. But this will require both the silicon to keep up, and for the development of faster lenses. At least as fast as the fastest lenses full-frame offers. One thing does make us hopeful - recent conversations with some forum members alerted us to the fact that certain full-frame lenses, like the Zeiss Otus primes, actually project an image circle large enough for at least a square crop on Fujifilm's new MF format. That would essentially get you high quality F1.1 equivalent glass on the GFX 50S. Cool, if you can focus it, anyway... (the GFX focus even with native lenses is anything but fast or intelligent, by the way). But if we see more and more fast full-frame lenses able to cover the image circle of the GFX G50S, then we're more likely to actually experience the benefits of the larger sensor format, though native fast lenses (that aren't slow unit focus, please) are really what we need.

Else, the potential advantages may be outweighed by the disadvantages: the extra weight, heft, price and severely lacking autofocus. And the GFX 50S has given up some of the noise and false color advantages their X-Trans cameras show...

For now, we hope that looking at the problem through the lens of equivalence at least gives you an idea of how big (or small) you can reasonably expect the differences to be. Maybe it even saves you a dime or two. Or makes you want to yell at us for bringing up equivalence, again.

But at the end of the day, equivalence has left me rather equivocal about the GFX 50S. What about you? Let us know in the comments below.

Footnotes:

* It’s also why ‘multi-shot’ modes yield cleaner images than single shots: these modes essentially capture more total light, averaging out shot noise. It’s also why brighter scenes generally look cleaner than low light scenes: more light = more photons captured = less relative shot noise = higher signal:noise ratio (SNR, or ‘cleanliness’ in laymen terms).

** The GFX 50S’ 44x33mm sensor has an effective 0.78x crop factor, so you can multiply the MF lens’ f-number by 0.78 to get the equivalent full-frame f-number.

*** We don’t control for T-stop, which could partially explain the drastic exposure difference. This doesn’t affect our experiment though, as we applied well-vetted 'Expose to the Right' (ETTR) principles for a fair comparison

Categories: News

Pentax KP sample gallery

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 09:00

The Pentax KP packs tons of features into one of their most petite bodies yet. It offers a new 5-axis SR II IBIS system, ISO expansion up to 819,200 and interchangeable grips. We like how the camera looks, but what about its pictures? Take a look at our sample gallery to see for yourself.

See our Pentax KP sample gallery

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Categories: News

£10,000 of Sigma lenses up for grabs in Amateur Photographer of the Year competition

DP Review News - Tue, 21/03/2017 - 07:01

The UK’s Amateur Photographer magazine has launched its 2017 Amateur Photographer of the Year competition and is offering a total of £10,000 worth of Sigma lenses in prizes. 

The competition is run over the course of eight rounds with monthly closing dates from the end of April to the end of November. Each month has a different theme and winners are picked by the Amateur Photographer judging panel and through an online voting system run by Photocrowd. At the end of the year, an overall winner will be selected to win the top prize.

Anyone can enter, but AP points out that entrants who live outside the UK would need to pay any applicable import tax on their winnings.

Monthly prizes will amount to approximately £1000 of Sigma lenses, cameras and flash units each, while the final winner will take away £2000 worth of kit in the shape of Sigma’s 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art and the 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art, along with a Sigma USB Dock. Monthly winners of the Photocrowd vote get a year’s subscription to the magazine.

Weekly magazine Amateur Photographer has been running this competition for 26 years, but this is the first time entry has been allowed via an online system. For more information see the Amateur Photographer website and the competition’s Photocrowd page. Entry is free.

Monthly themes:

MARCH
Magical monochrome - Black & White
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art (£749.99) + Sigma EF-610 Super Flashgun (£259.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,009.98

APRIL
Hit the streets - Street Photography
SIGMA dp2 Quattro (£899.99) + VF-41 Viewfinder (£199.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,099.98

MAY
Small wonders – Macro
105mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro (£649.99) + SIGMA EM-140 DG Macro Flash (£379.99)
Total Prize Value: £1029.98

JUNE
City clickers- Cityscapes / Architecture
SIGMA sd Quattro + 30mm F1.4 DC HSM Art (£1049.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,049.99

JULY
Into the wild – Wildlife
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary (£999.99) + Sigma USB Dock (£39.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,039.98

AUGUST
Creative eye - Abstract Art
SIGMA 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM | Art (£949.99) + SIGMA 82mm WR CERAMIC PROTECTOR (£104.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,054.98

SEPTEMBER
Land lovers - Landscapes
SIGMA dp0 Quattro (£899.99) + VF-51 / Viewfinder (£199.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,099.98

OCTOBER
Face to face – Portraiture
SIGMA 85mm F1.4 DG HSM ART (£1,199.99)
Total Prize Value: £1,199.99

GRAND PRIZE
SIGMA 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (£1199.99) + SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (799.99) + SIGMA USB Dock (£39.99)
Total Prize Value: £2,039.97

Overall Prize Value = £10,624.83

Categories: News

Perfect touch: man-made works that dovetail with nature – in pictures

From a red bridge emerging from mist in rural Japan to a tiered stream stepping down a hillside, Toshio Shibata’s photographs – gathered for a new exhibition in New York – take a positive view of our impact on the landscape

Continue reading...
Categories: News

Real 3D images of Mars make up this video of a simulated flight over the red planet

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 20:17

It took photographer and self-proclaimed space enthusiast Jan Fröjdman three months to produce a video turning NASA anaglyph images of Mars into a simulated flight over the planet. NASA's high-resolution imagery offers depth information and comes from HiRISE, a camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

Fröjdman converted the still images into panning video clips using reference points – 33,000 of them – and color-graded the images. He describes it as an effort to visualize the planet in his own way, rather than as a strictly scientific endeavor. It's certainly a mesmerizing way to spend 4 minutes.

Categories: News

Lomo'Instant Automat Glass Magellan has a wide-angle glass lens

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 19:39

Lomography has introduced what it says is the first instant camera featuring a glass wide-angle lens: the Lomo'Instant Automat Glass Magellan. That lens uses a multi-coated surface to reduce glare, as well as an F4.5 aperture and three zone focusing settings: 0.3m, 0.6m and 1m to infinite. Those who pre-order will also get four color filter gels.

This is the latest version of the camera Lomography first launched on Kickstarter back in August. The Lomo'Instant Automat automatically adjusts the aperture, shutter speed and flash, and offers other high-tech features such as a lens cap that doubles as a remote shutter release and an LED film counter. The model uses Fujifilm Instax Mini film and is powered by a pair of CR2 batteries.

Lomography is currently offering the Glass Magellan model on its website for pre-order at $189. Deliveries to those who pre-order is estimated to start in the middle of April.

Via: Lomography

Categories: News

U.S. Supreme Court seeks permanent full-time photographer

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 18:19
Photo by Joe Ravi, used under CC-BY-SA 3.0 license

The United States Supreme Court is hiring a new full-time, permanent photographer who will be tasked with documenting a variety of things related to the Supreme Court, including employees, buildings and artwork the Court has in its collection. This individual will also be tasked with 'managing public access' to the Court's Photographs Collection, per the job listing.

The job listing was posted on March 13, and it will be live until March 27 at 11:59PM EST. The chosen photographer will be located in Washington D.C. and will work with the Court’s Curator’s Office performing the above duties, as well as photographing various events. Those interested in the position must be a U.S. citizen, pass a security background check, and must meet the minimum qualifications.

According to the job listing, a qualified applicant will possess both 3-5 years of 'progressively responsible [photography] experience' as well as a Bachelor’s degree. In lieu of that experience, the applicant needs 'any directly related experience that has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the principles, practices and techniques of photography, image processing and image management.' The college degree requirement can be waived if the applicant has 'at least four years of additional experience.'

As well, the job listing says the applicant must know how to operate Nikon and Hasselblad gear, including accessories, artificial lighting, and video cameras. The applicant also needs digital image processing skills, Digital Asset Management software experience, proficiency with Microsoft Word/Access/Excel and Adobe Creative Suite, and more.

Interested photographers can apply via the USA Jobs link below. Applications require a cover letter and resume, form OF-306, the completion of an online questionnaire, and a portfolio link with three examples of multiple types of photos, including special event photographs, individual portraits, and more.

Via: USAJobs.gov

Categories: News

Oberwerth launches Donau line of leather lens pouches

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 18:08

German manufacturer Oberwerth, best known for its high-end leather camera accessories and bags, has launched its new Donau line of leather lens pouches. Like other Oberwerth products, the pouches are handmade in Germany from soft cowhide leather. A surface finish provides stain protection and should preserve the natural material's shine for a long time to come. In the interior the pouches are lined with non-pilling wool felt to keep your valuable glass scratch-free. 

The Donau pouches come in sizes S, M, L and XL to accommodate lenses of various dimensions but at a width of 9.5 cm/3.74 in and a diameter of 9 cm/3.54 in even the biggest XL version seems more suitable for a large prime rather than fast tele-zooms lenses. The pouches are available now, starting at $150/€139 for the small size. The XL variant will set you back $214/€199. More information is available on the Oberwerth website.  

Categories: News

The home of the L-series: We tour Canon's Utsunomiya factory

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 14:00
The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Recently, following the CP+ 2017 show in Yokohama, we were granted the enormous honor of a guided tour through Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory. Canon has been making lenses in Utsunomiya since 1977, and we were the first journalists ever to be allowed to see the L-series assembly line.

Utunsomiya (indicated with the dropped pin) is the capital and largest city of Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern Kantō region of Japan - about 80 miles north of Tokyo.

On February 27th, we made our way from Yokohama to Utsunomiya in the company of several representatives from Canon Inc., and our friends Dave Etchells and William Brawley from Imaging Resource. Click through this slideshow to see what we found.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Plant Manager Kenichi Izuki introduces his team. Of the six 'Master Craftsmen' within Canon, two of them work at the Utsunomiya plant. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Izuki explains what the Utsunomiya plant does. As you can see, several different families of products are manufactured in Utsunomiya, from high-end broadcast and EF lenses to components for office equipment.

The 2-story plant itself employs around 1,700 people and covers an area of almost 80,000 square meters (roughly 20 acres). 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Painted yellow lines snake through the corridors of the Utsunomiya factory. These are 'read' by robotic carts that carry components to various parts of the plant on pre-programmed routes.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Why, here's one of them now!

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

One of the two 'Master Craftsmen' at the Utsunomiya factory, Mr Saito explains the incredibly fine tolerances involved in the creation of 4/8K broadcast lenses. Canon claims a tolerance of +/-30 nanometers. As such, if one of the finished elements were scaled up to the size of an Olympic stadium, the surface variation would be no thicker than a plastic grocery bag. 

Yes, you read that correctly.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

To make these lenses, first you must make the tools which shape them. In the foreground, on the left you'll see a steel 'prototype standard'. Every element in a broadcast lens was born here, from a prototype standard - effectively a 'master', rather like a shoemaker's last, from which the element takes it essential shape. Canon stores thousands of them.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

On the left is the diamond plate, which takes its shape precisely from the prototype standard. This is used to make the lens polishing tool. Each grey disk on the plate is a diamond grindstone. On the right is the polishing tool itself, with its array of polyurethane pads, which is used to polish a single side of each glass element.

Each surface of every element takes roughly 90 minutes to polish, and this is done by hand.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

The grinding and polishing process of broadcast lens elements explained. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

A replica prototype standard, with a measurement tool on the right. The tool is incredibly accurate, and is used to check for surface inaccuracies. Even a divergence of 0.1 microns (1/10,000th of a millimeter) from design parameters would be considered unacceptable.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Mr Saito demonstrates how a diamond plate is shaped by hand, using a large (and very heavy) carborundum disk. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

With decades' of experience, Master Craftsmen (or 'Takumi') can tell when to apply more or less pressure by feel alone. Some processes, like this one, are considered so critical that they must be performed by hand.

It typically takes between 25-30 years before a lens polishing technician attains the status of 'Meister', and their experience is essential to the production line. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, an element is being smoothed. Afterwards it will be centered, and then polished. Every day, the manufacturing process uses 400 tonnes of water, which is purified and re-used continually in a 'closed loop' system.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Not everything is done by hand. When it comes to EF lenses, Canon is expanding its automated manufacturing capabilities. We were extremely privileged to be shown this lens element polishing machine, which processes glass elements from a raw 'cake' of glass right through to final polishing, without any human intervention. 

During our tour, this particular machine was processing elements for the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM. From a raw cake of unpolished glass to a finished element the process of grinding, polishing and centering takes about 30 minutes. If this were done in the traditional (non-automated) manner it would take about 3 days per element. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Here's a single element from the Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM at the beginning of its life, as a cake of raw glass. This is what gets fed into the polishing machine. A finished element emerges from the machine every two minutes, and we're told that all of the non-aspherical elements in the new Canon EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are processed in this way. 

Aspherical elements are produced using a separate high-precision molding process, which happens elsewhere in the facility, behind closed doors. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Canon is at pains to point out that machines like this can only be created as a result of the Master Craftsmen's decades of experience. The machines themselves are made in-house too, by Canon's Production Engineering Headquarters. 

Although there has been a factory on this site since 1977, Canon opened the current building in 2005. According to Masato Okada, Deputy Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations, this move provided an opportunity for Canon to completely revamp its lens production methodology.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

After watching elements being polished, the next stage of the tour is lens assembly. Before we set foot in this area of the facility, we need to don coveralls and take a cool, refreshing 'air shower' to make sure we don't accidentally contaminate the production line. Here's Barney, trying not to brush against the (sticky) walls of the decontamination room. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

This area of the factory is where Canon's high-end L-series lenses are assembled. Like the broadcast lenses, much of the assembly process for fast prime telephotos is still done by hand. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, a Canon assembly line Meister (her badge tells us she's been a Meister for 17 years) works on the front assembly of a telephoto prime lens. 

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

A finished EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM is checked by computer before its final housing is put on.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

'OK' - this one passed! You can read up on Zernicke Polynomials here, if you like that sort of thing.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

This finished lens is being checked on a computerized test rig, which measures the lens's optical characteristics in three positions, across 48 points of a proprietary test chart (which we're not allowed to show, sorry). The camera is a modified EOS 5D Mark III. We don't know exactly how it's been modified, but our guide mentioned some firmware and hardware differences compared to a stock model. 

Interestingly, information about the lens's optical characteristics is saved to a chip inside the lens itself. This data can be read and updated by Canon if and when the lens comes back for service. This allows information to be gathered about the durability of certain components over time and allows Canon to learn about long-term wear patterns.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Although rarely-used now, some lenses are still occasionally tested partly by using the traditional 'projection' method. Here, in a darkened room off to one side of the assembly line a technician (just visible in the background, under the image of the chart) is inspecting the image projected through a telephoto prime lens.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Increasingly, Canon uses automated assembly processes for its L-series zooms, which have a comparably higher sales volume than telephoto primes and broadcast lenses.

Again, the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is at the forefront of developments in automation. Roughly 50% of the assembly process of this lens is automated and Canon tells us that, they're aiming for 80% automation within a year.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Because the non-aspherical elements in the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM are polished automatically, and 50% of the assembly process is done by machines, the number of people involved in the manufacture of the new EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM is relatively small. Roughly 10% of the manpower required if it were manufactured entirely by hand, we're told.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Here, the view from a tiny camera inside the assembly machine shows a technician what's happening. A EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM's focus positioning brush switch is being installed – a highly delicate procedure which requires extremely precise positioning.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

Here's another one of those modified EOS 5D Mark III lens checking cameras, this time hooked up to a finished EF 16-35mm F2.8L III USM.

The home of the L-series: Inside Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory

It passed! We get the impression that very few lenses don't. From start to finish, it takes roughly 24 (non-continuous) hours to manufacture each 16-35mm.

Editors' note:

It's impossible to come away from Canon's Utsunomiya plant without an appreciation for the vast amount of expertise employed by Canon in the manufacturing of its high-end lenses. One striking aspect of the assembly process of broadcast lenses is how many steps are deemed so critical that they must be accomplished by hand. In the broadcast lenses assembly line we were told repeatedly that 'this process is too complex to be performed by a machine'.

One of the reasons that Canon's broadcast lenses are so costly is that as we saw, each element is hand-polished - often by someone with a minimum of 30 years' experience. Internally, assembling one of Canon's high-end broadcast lenses is considered among the most difficult jobs in its entire production line.

Manufacturing high-volume EF lenses in this way would be impractical (the wait-times for new models would likely stretch into decades...) but even so, when it comes to fast telephoto primes, much of the process is still performed by hand.

'anyone that fetishizes the words 'made by hand' should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.'

Perhaps most impressive though is the automation. Canon has clearly invested a lot of time and energy (not to mention money) in automated lens polishing and assembly. We've been lucky enough to visit several factories, run by several manufacturers, and Canon's Utsunomiya plant is definitely the most advanced that we've seen. Automation of critical lens polishing and assembly processes makes perfect sense for mass-produced products, and anyone that still blindly fetishizes the words 'made by hand' should try shooting with the EF 16-35mm F2.8L III sometime.

Canon's self-calibrating lens polishing machines (designed and manufactured in-house) are capable of incredible precision, and the data gathered by automated testing and eventual servicing can be used in any number of different ways, to improve quality control over time.

After watching the entire assembly process from lens element polishing to final QC checks, we're most excited by the possibilities which emerge from Canon's inclusion of a chip inside each recent lens, which saves data about its own specific optical characteristics.

'This could allow for... a bespoke 'lens profile' to be applied automatically'

As well as data-gathering and long-term quality control improvement, this also opens up the possibility that at some point a lens's specific optical characteristics might be made available to the camera to which it is attached. This could allow for automatic AF fine-tuning, or potentially even for a bespoke 'lens profile' to be applied automatically to correct for optical characteristics unique to that one lens. This isn't possible right now, but we're told that Canon is working on making it a reality.

What did you make of this tour through Canon's Utsunomiya factory? Let us know in the comments. 

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Categories: News

Behind the scenes: An interview with the heads of Canon's L lens factory

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 14:00
From left to right, Mr Hayakawa, Mr Okada and Mr Izuki, the three men in charge of development and keeping things running smoothly at Canon's Utsunomiya lens plant. 

Following the CP+ 2017 show in Japan, we headed to Canon's Utsunomiya lens factory to take a tour (see what we found) and interview the gentlemen who oversee all operations and development. This included Kenichi Izuki, the Plant Manager, Masato Okada, Deputy Chief Executive of Image Communication and Products Operations and Shingo Hayakawa, Deputy Group Executive of Image Communication and Products Operations.

The Utsunomiya plant is where all Canon's L series, cinema, and broadcast lenses are produced. It's also where all Canon lenses are designed. Many of those designs can be attributed to the three men pictured above. In fact just before we started the interview Mr Izuki informed us that he had been lead designer of the EF 35mm F2 IS lens we'd chosen to document the factory tour. So there's also a pretty good chance you have one of them to thank for your favorite Canon glass!

Please note that this interview was conducted through an interpreter, and has been edited slightly for clarity and flow.

The magic place where all Canon L lenses are born. What percentage of L lenses are manufactured in the Utsunomiya lens plant?

Because this is the 'mother' factory, 100% of L lenses are made here.

How many different lenses can be manufactured simultaneously in this plant?

Basically, we create all lenses every day [including L-series EF, Cinema EOS and broadcast]. The only exception is some of the broadcast lenses.

Which lenses in particular are the most difficult to manufacture and why?

Any large super telephoto lenses because of the size of the glass elements. In terms of skill required for lens assembly: the TV broadcast lenses are most difficult.

How many lenses are produced at this lens plant every year, both in terms of types of lenses and total units?

We do not disclose total production for this plant. That said, Canon has produced a total of 120 million lenses over the years. Of course, many of those are kit lenses, which are not produced here, but in our facility in Taiwan.

Mr Izuki, the plant manager, teaching us about the lens production process.  Tell us a little bit about the history of the plant.

The facility as a whole has been here for forty years, however prior to 2005, we were located in an older building on the other side of the property. And the land where the current plant sits was initially owned by the Du Pont family. When they returned it to the prefecture, we bought it.

The current lens facility opened in 2005. When we moved in we completely revamped our lens-making machines and devices. Not all, but the majority. This helped to push [us] to a higher standard of quality.

Over the past 40 years, lenses have changed a lot, with autofocus introduced, aspherics, etc., what was the largest paradigm shift in lens technology?

We are reaching the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the EOS line. It was at that time, in 1987, that we moved into autofocus. When we did that, I believe we were the first ones to go fully-electronic mount autofocus. Because the motors were built into the lens we had a significant competitive edge.

As DSLR resolution increases, it can be a challenge to achieve precise focus because AF errors are more noticeable. How do you reduce this risk in the manufacturing and quality control process?

Overall precision is something customers are increasingly requiring. In this factory, we have increased the level of precision of our machines so that lenses have more accurate autofocus.

A lens going through QC testing. Information from the test will be saved on a chip in the lens. During the tour it was mentioned that Canon lenses now store their quality control test data using on-board memory. Can that data be used to improve autofocus reliability?

We do store data from final lens testing on each unit. I won’t be able to speak in greater detail other than saying, yes, in theory, that data could be used to achieve higher autofocus performance [better AF precision] with a DSLR.

How long does it take a lens like the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM to make its way from start to finish in the assembly line?

From raw material being polished, to the final tested product being boxed: about 24 hours of work, in theory. But the physical production would actually take longer. This is because we are producing parts in batches and there are machines that need to be fitted. These variables aside, if you take the actual time of labor, assembly and packaging, it is about 24 hours.

You mentioned you were looking to hit an 80% automation rate in this facility. What kind of efficiency gain does that represent?

It’s difficult to say in terms of time, but I can say it use to take about 70 people to make a lens like that prior to automation, now we need about 6 or 7.

As production becomes more automated will you require fewer skilled manual workers?

In one sense yes. But it’s not about firing the rest of these people, it’s about allowing them the time to build up their skills. This way they can face challenges and difficulties like increasing precision and performance. So we’ve essentially been able to allocate these workers to a different environment.

A lens in the final assembly process. It can take 25-30 years to become an Assembly Meister at Canon's Utsunomiya plant.  Typically how long does someone train before they attain the title of 'Meister'?

In terms of the level of 'Lens Meister,' it would take 30-35 years. For 'Assembly Meisters", 25-30 years.

Now that the process for assembly, element polishing and quality control is so automated, we're curious how many lenses pass QC the first time vs those that have to go back for re-calibration.

In terms of maintaining a level of quality before going into mass production, we do a lot of checking and scenario building [using a super computer] to make sure everything will go right. Once a lens goes into mass production we can safely say that we have seen no lenses returned for further calibration.

What impact did the 2011 have on this facility and how long did it take to recover?

A lot of the ceilings came down. We took a big hit in that regard. But, we were able to come back into operation within about 2 to 3 months.

While not the most exciting photo, if you look very carefully, you might see some minor impressions on the linoleum. This is (subtle) evidence of the 2011 earthquake, which caused some ceilings to collapse. The yellow tape line is used by computerized robots in the factory. Did you implement any changes as a result of the earthquake?

We have fortified the building, so that it is more earthquake-proof. And the assembly tools we use are put together in such as way that they are shake-proof.

Are there major differences in how you QC test broadcast and cinema lenses vs EF lenses?

The concept for testing is basically the same. But, in terms of broadcast/cinema lenses there are some unique customizations that we offer depending on the particular cameraman or filmmaker. If they want to zoom by hand, for instance, we can accommodate the pressure of the mechanism to their requirements.

A lot of your users use EF lenses for video creation. Has that changed the way you design some EF lenses?

In terms of stills shooter, when it comes to autofocus, the faster the better. On the other hand, videographers tend to require a variance in autofocus speed. Sometimes they want a slow effect. So we had to create a motor that could actually do both fast and slow focus. This is why we introduced Nano-USM. It's in both the 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM and the 70-300mm F4-5.6 IS II USM.

Will that kind of autofocus be used more in the future as video becomes more of a requirement for users?

Yes. 

At any given time, how many new lenses are in development at this facility?

I can not give you a number, unfortunately. But I can say that new lenses are in development as we speak. So I hope you look forward to them.

Results of a QC test.

Editors note (by Dan Bracaglia):

Let me begin by saying how grateful I was to be given access to Canon's lens factory and what an honor and privilege it was to sit down and interview the creators of some of Canon's most legendary glass. In my six and a half years writing about photography, this was one of my most memorable and rewarding experiences. 

As you might expect, there were nearly endless points of fascination. Some of which are covered in this interview, others in our factory tour slideshow. Something that particularly interested me is the fact that all the information from a lens' final calibration and quality control check is saved on a chip within the lens itself. The idea here is this information can been used, in theory, when a lens comes back in for cleaning or recalibration. It also means that at some point, perhaps camera bodies will be able to access this information, which could lead to better AF precision. This is solid forward thinking on Canon's part. 

I was also intrigued to find that Canon manufactures every L lens in the same factory. Not only that but every current lens in the L series is being made every day. As you might imagine, security at the facility is very tight. 

"Canon, it seems, recognizes just how important pushing lens development is"

Also hearing Canon put a concrete number on their automation goals (80%) was interesting. Of course you could read that as Canon displacing workers with machines, but throughout the tour and the interview, our guides made it clear that automation wasn't about replacing workers, rather dedicating more workers to research and development. Canon, it seems, recognizes just how important pushing lens development is, all while maintaining a high level of quality control. Automation offers just this. 

And I'm not ordinarily one to be starstruck, but when Mr. Izuki told me he designed the Canon EF 35mm F2 IS, my jaw dropped a little. There's nothing quite like standing of front of the creator of one of your favorite lenses. Speaking of favorites, we also asked Mr. Hayakawa, Mr Okada and Mr Izuki which Canon lens they've designed/worked on over the years they are most proud of. We got some great answers. We'll be posting those in a separate article soon, so stay tuned!

Barney, just prior to entering the factory floor. We also went through a room that blasted us with air. Dust is the enemy in a lens factory.   
Categories: News

Best photos of the day: cat show and candlelight protest

The Guardian’s picture editors bring you a selection of photo highlights from around the world, including Las Fallas in Valencia, Somalia famine and retired circus bears

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Categories: News

Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 sample gallery

DP Review News - Mon, 20/03/2017 - 10:00

Like its predecessor, the Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 G2 offers moisture-resistance, and we couldn't be more grateful. We put the updated telezoom to work in one of the rainiest months in recent Seattle history. With improvements to autofocus as well as image stabilization, it's a substantial upgrade and, thankfully, a lens that's not afraid of a few showers.

See our Tamron SP 70-200mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2 sample gallery

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Categories: News

Caroline de Bendern: 'leave campaign was lies and xenophobia'

Activist, who became symbol of 1968 protests when she was photographed in Paris, prepares to march against Brexit

Her image has been symbolic of the national mood once before. Recreating a 19th-century masterpiece of Lady Liberty leading the French to revolution, a statuesque portrait of Caroline de Bendern emerged as a defining image of the protests that swept Europe in the summer of 1968.

Now almost five decades on, the British former model and disinherited aristocrat is taking to the streets again – to demonstrate her opposition to Brexit and fly the flag for the European Union at this week’s Unite for Europe march.

Related: Spirit of 68: French countercultural art – in pictures

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Ray K Metzker's Abstractions – in pictures

Metzker was a modernist who experimented with formal techniques to create new ways of seeing. His evocative cityscapes mark him out as one of the great masters of American photography

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