Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Polaroid goes on sale this week

It looks like the new Polaroid film (the Impossible Project) is slated to go on sale this week in the UK.

I'm looking forward to it. I have an old 1970's era Polaroid camera I'm looking forward to breaking out this year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Problem with new 5D Mark II firmware

It seems that Canon has made an announcement that the new 2.0.3 has a bug.  We can assume that a new version will be coming shortly to address this issue.

This release added new video features to the camera.  The problem is that the new audio doesn't work if a manual record volume is set in one of the 3 custom modes (C1/C2/C3).  You can read more about this issue at this LINK.

There's a reason I don't install new firmware updates the day they're released.  It's also a good idea to download and archive old firmware updates so you can roll back should you find a problem with a new firmware release.  You must do this before a new release is posted as Canon removes old firmware releases from their website upon issuing an update and they won't give it to you no matter how much you beg and plead.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Model Release for iPhone

I just found yet another reason to love my iPhone.

There is a new application for getting professional model releases signed and emailed to you in PDF format right from your iPhone.  That's right, how cool is that?  I don't know how many times I've forgotten to bring a release form in my camera bag, but my iPhone is always with me.

The application is named "Easy Release".

You can even insert a picture into the model release, store them on your phone and sort by name, shoot name, etc.  It's also handy in that it does property releases as well. 

How much?  Well, it's $9.99.  I'll let you guys know how it works as I've already downloaded my copy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pentax Releases New Medium Format Camera

It's been in the making for 5 years now.  Often times spoken about as "vaporware" by the online community due to so many perceived false starts, Pentax has formally announced the launch of the new medium format 40MP 645D camera.

It appears to be an impressive camera.  It touts a Kodak made CCD sensor that's claimed to be "high performance" with an effective resolution of 40 megapixels.

It shoots to two SD/SDHC cards and has a new 11 point AF system that is claimed to give good coverage of the view finder area.

It does only sport a 98% coverage view finder though, which shouldn't be too much of an issue for most users.

It also sports a new HDR function that takes 3 different exposures and automatically merges them into a single high dynamic range image.

So far we don't have a firm price.  I'm hoping it comes in below $10k as that would really change the market landscape and potentially push Canon and Nikon to offer competitive products.  We can only hope!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Nikon: Canon G11 will have competition

It's not every day that you hear a big-wig inside a major camera manufacturer saying the competition has a camera that is the "benchmark by which other compact digital cameras are measured".  But that's exactly what Kevin Egan, the UK's Senior Product Manager for Nikon, said regarding the G11 recently in an interview with Amateur Photographer magazine.

Egan went on to tell the magazine that there is a new Cool Pix camera planned to take on the G11 toe to toe in the not to distant future.  Egan didn't elaborate on a launch date, but eluded to the fact it was in the works.

So far nothing credible has surfaced on the typical Nikon rumor websites.  But rest assured, there's something brewing at Nikon, perhaps it's related to my previous blog post about some marketing shenanigans going on in France.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

1D Mark IV Sensor Test Results

Clarkvision.com is a great reference site to get down to earth scientific data about any given sensor from the major manufacturers.  Unlike some testing sites, Clarkvision explains to you the nuts and bolts of their testing methodology.

They recently tested the Canon 1D Mark IV and concluded the following:
The Canon 1D Mark IV sensor sets new performance standards, including higher sensitivity per pixel (a combination of filter transmittance times effective fill factor times quantum efficiency), lower read noise, and lower fixed pattern noise. Hopefully the new technology that went into this sensor will makes its way into other cameras as well. That will enable a new era in performance, especially for high ISO / low light photography.
In essence, the Canon 1D Mark IV is the most advanced, lowest read noise, highest per pixel sensitivity cameras they've ever tested.  That's an amazing conclusion and one that is quite exciting for 1D Mark IV owners.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New "Scientific" Auto Focus Test

A new auto focus test that's touted as being "scientific" has been posted online.

On the surface it looks like the 1D Mark IV wins this competition handily, easily besting the D3 and the new D3S.  The new Mark IV also tops the 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III in this test.

Actually, the news that the 1D Mark IV tops the 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III is about the only useful information I can pull from this test as the testing methodology is seriously flawed.  The D3 and D3S are not given a fare shake in this test, and honestly, its this factor that completely invalidates this test IMHO.

The test parameters are listed on the site and this sentence in particular is what concerns me most about the validity of this test:

These tests are all done using the default camera settings and default custom function settings.
It certainly sounds fair that all cameras are tested with default settings, but in the case of the D3 and D3S by default they give priority to shutter release over auto focus.  That means, by default, the camera will fire at its max continues shutter release speed without giving any consideration to whether the camera actually has focus or not.

Conversely, the 1D4 by default gives priority to AF lock over shooting speed.  This means it will slow the frame rate down if necessary as it won't fire until it thinks it has AF lock.  So in essence you have one camera (D3/D3S) firing wildly as fast as it can with no consideration to AF lock and you have another camera firing only when it has AF lock and likely at a slower frame rate.

If they wanted to make a truly representative test, they would set "a1 AF-C priority selection" on the D3's to "release + focus" allowing the camera to behave in the same manner as the 1D Mark IV and redo the tests. Withing correcting this oversight in their testing methodology, I don't see any validity to the test results.

EDIT (3/4/10):

I posted my concerns about the testing methodology to the blog and the author amended his blog post with additional information.  Check out the total number of frames fired by both cameras.

Canon 1D MKIV Results
Trial 1
45 in focus out of 50= 90% in focus
Trial 2
56 in focus out of 60= 93% in focus
Trial 3
48 in focus out of 55= 87% in focus
Trial 4
49 in focus out of 55= 89% in focus
Trial 5
52 in focus out of 58= 90% in focus

Canon 1D MKIV Overall= 89.4% in focus

Nikon D3s Results
Trial 1
29 in focus out of 46= 63% in focus
Trial 2
37 in focus out of 47= 79% in focus
Trial 3
46 in focus out of 53= 87% in focus
Trial 4
40 in focus out of 52= 77% in focus
Trial 5
38 in focus out of 47= 81% in focus

Nikon D3s Overall= 77.4% in focus

I find these numbers to be quite interesting.  It would appear that the D3S doesn't shoot 9fps as claimed by Nikon even under ideal circumstances and with the camera set to ignore focus priority and to fire as quickly as it can.  It continuously posted fewer frames than the 1D4.  It stands to reason that if the camera had been set to focus priority the number of frames fired would have gone down even further.

That means the 1D4 can shoot much more quickly than the D3S which might be a very important feature to sports or action shooters.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Something is Brewing with Nikon!

Nikon is circulating odd cards that give out very little info (see image to right - click to enlarge).  Well, the assumption is that the mailers are coming from Nikon, we don't really know for sure since they aren't marked by any company.  They are high quality direct marketing pieces and appear to be a count down starting with the number 8.  A number 7 appeared now too.

The colors suggest it's from Nikon and the fact that the people receiving them are Nikon owners.  These are appearing in France.

It's speculated that they are the precursor to the rumored EVIL cameras the Nikon rumor forums have been chatting about.  This would be a huge development, and quite exciting.

Of course perhaps it's the lead-up to the much anticipated D800.  Who knows, but I'm excited regardless.  New stuff is always exciting, don't you think? 

Monday, March 1, 2010

5D Mark II Firmware Update

Canon has announced their latest firmware update to the 5D Mark II.  Version 2.0.3 promises improved manual control over video by adding 24 frames per second and scaling back their previous 30 fps to 29.97 fps for TV production standards.

This is welcomed new for those that use their 5D MkII's for video.  Personally, I couldn't care less about this upgrade.  I've used video on my 5D MkII less than 10 times.  I'm simply not impressed with it.  Sure, the quality is amazing but the focusing is a nightmare and I don't care to invest in additional Panavision lenses and external mics to get quality video out of the body.  I'm strictly a still image kind of guy.

So, what does firmware update 2.0.3 offer us 5D MarkII shooters that use their DSLR's for that good old fashioned still image stuff?  Nothing that I can tell from the rumor sites and press release (pictured - click to enlarge).

Canon doesn't usually offer new features with their firmware updates to bodies.  They usually reserve that for new body releases.  This marks a historic first for Canon.  Maybe they'll give us a usable AUTO ISO function in the next firmware update for the 5D MkII.  You know, something us traditionalists that actually use DSLR's for picture taking might be able to sink our teeth into.