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sony 12-24mm impresses lensrentals with great sharpness, reasonable price

roger cicala (not pictured) is a difficult man to impress, but he's been waxing lyrical over at lensrentals about sony's new 12-24mm wide zoom.

as well he should – our own shooting suggests that despite its (relatively) modest price, sony's new zoom is an excellent performer, which rivals or bests its nearest competition. for now, roger's testing is limited to mtf measurements only, but his initial measurements are impressive to say the least.

these mtf graphs show averaged performance at the wide and long ends of 12 copies of sony's 12-24mm zoom. in roger's words, "this is really good".

tested against the sigma 12-24mm f4 art, the sony lens offers similar performance, which is impressive given the size and weight disparity between the two lenses. if you're curious about what the sigma's mtf performance looks like in the real world, take a look at our review.

and despite costing $1000 less, the sony 12-24mm at least matches the excellent measurements from canon's 11-24mm f4.

read the full article at lensrentals.com

check out our gallery of samples from the sony 12-24mm f4






video: removing a stuck lens filter... with a band saw

what do you do when your cheap lens filter is so badly stuck on your very expensive canon 24-70mm f2.8l ii usm lens, that even a specially-designed filter wrench won't get it off? if you are former mythbuster adam savage, you take that puppy to your band saw and scare the crap out of the lens owner.

that's what he did for one of the latest videos on the tested youtube channel, when fellow host norman chan got yet another filter stuck (the second one in 6 months) on his $1,800 lens.

the footage is a bit terrifying for gear lovers, but have no fear: no lenses were hurt in the making of this video. what savage does is cut two small notches into the rim of the lens filter, one on either side. then, after expanding those notches with a file, he slots in a solid metal ruler and uses it to torque the filter clean off.

the moment of truth...

watch the video up top to see the whole cringe-worthy process for yourself, and then send this video to the biggest canon gear head on your mailing list. nothing like a mild heart attack to really get you over that wednesday hump...






samsung launches isocell image sensor brand

samsung electronics has introduced its image sensor brand isocell at the 2017 mobile world congress (mwc) shanghai. samsung originally launched the isocell technology, which reduces crosstalk between pixels through physical barriers, in 2013 and has now decided to use the moniker as a brand name.

“samsung isocell is a brand that represents the essence of our leading pixel technologies. we expect the isocell brand to help consumers easily acknowledge and confide in camera performance as well as overall quality of the device,” said ben hur, vice president of system lsi marketing at samsung electronics. “with our advanced image sensor technologies, samsung will continue to bring innovation to cameras used in smartphones and other applications.”

isocell sensors comprises four sub-brands: bright, fast, slim and dual which are tailored to specific mobile device market demands:

  • isocell bright sensors deliver bright and sharp images with high color fidelity and reduced noise in low light environments
  • isocell fast sensors provide fast autofocus onto still or moving objects even when dark
  • isocell slim sensors adopt the smallest pixel sizes available in the market at 0.9-1.0um, yet produce high quality images for the slimmest devices
  • isocell dual sensors can be mixed and matched in various combinations on consumer devices to bring about features demanded in the latest dual camera trend

the latter works in a similar way to the dual-camera modules in more recent huawei high-end phones. combining an rgb with a monochrome sensor. if the rumors are true we will see the isocell dual sensors for the first time in the upcoming samsung note 8 which is likely to be launched around the ifa trade show in berlin at the beginning of september.






handevision iberit 90mm f2.4 lens launches for leica m-mount

handevision is now shipping its all-metal iberit 90mm f2.4 short telephoto lens for leica m-mount 35mm and full-frame cameras. this lens features an f2.4 to f16 aperture, as well as four element in four groups, manual focus, a 49mm filter thread, 10 diaphragm blades and a 70cm / 2.3ft minimum focusing distance. the lens was announced back in 2015, and the series was shown off at this year's cp+.

the lens is currently listed in black and silver color options for pre-order at $569 on b&h photo and adorama.

via: leicarumors






tutorial: how to photograph glassware on a white background

photographing glassware on white is a product photography staple; unfortunately, it's also notoriously difficult. so how do you capture clear glass on a white background with all of those glorious specular highlights you see in magazines? this tutorial by photographer dustin dolby of workphlo will show you exactly how.

dolby has made a name for himself in the tutorial space recently for his extremely simple, but also effective, product photography setups.

hs quick-and-dirty style might not appeal to everyone—many of his setups require a bit of cleaning up in post-production as a result—but if you're working with extremely limited gear there are few photographers out there who can show you how to make better use of it.

here is his basic setup for glassware photography:

when he zooms out, you can see dolby's extremely simple (but effective) setup.

as you can see, dolby has stacked two glasses on top of each other in order to get a perfect 'reflection' without actually using a reflective surface. these two glasses are placed on some basic stand in front of a stripbox, which is placed over a simple speedlight.

the dark highlights in the glass are reflections of the darkened room compared to the bright white strip box/background. they can be made thicker or thinner by moving the stripbox further from or closer to the glasses, respectively.

finally, the last step in the whole process is to bring the images into post and, if you want perfect symmetry, cut and mirror your preferred half of the glass onto the other side. that way, the image looks magazine 'perfect' like the final examples at the end of the video.

check out the full tutorial to see dolby's process from start to finish, and if you have any suggestions on how you would improve on or simplify his process drop them in the comments below.






lensbaby announces velvet 85 f1.8 lens for 'lustrous skin tones'

lensbaby has announced the velvet 85 f1.8 lens for interchangeable lens cameras. the lens is available in canon, nikon, sony e, sony a, pentax k, samsung nx, fuji x and micro 4/3 mounts and focuses manually. like the velvet 56mm, it is designed to offer an atmospheric, soft rendering at wide apertures.

lensbaby says the lens "combines lustrous skin tones with the added compression and sublime bokeh of high-quality 85mm portrait lenses." construction of the velvet 85mm comprises four elements in three groups and the lens has a 67mm filter thread. the minimum focus distance is 24cm (9.5in). the velvet 85mm f1.8 is currently available for pre-order for $499.95 and will begin shipping july 11th.

more information and sample images are available on the lensbaby website.






hasselblad to open first own branded retail store

camera manufacturer hasselblad will be opening its first own retail store on 30th june. the store will be located at the fotografiska center for contemporary photography in stockholm, sweden and carry the full range of hasselblad cameras, lenses and accessories, encouraging visitors to explore the hasselblad brand. hasselblad and fotografiska will also partner to host photography workshops for both amateur and professional photographers.

johan åhlén, chief marketing officer of hasselblad, said: “our cameras were born from a love of photography and we are excited to partner with fotografiska to spread our passion and inspire a more conscious world through the power of photography. our new store and workshops represent our commitment to hasselblad users and our desire to enhance the future of photography.”

per broman, founder of fotografiska, said: “we are honoured to collaborate with an iconic swedish camera brand like hasselblad on the opening of its first store. we share the same values and devotion for photography and together with hasselblad’s renowned technical excellence and creative vision, we aim to welcome photography enthusiasts around the world. it is a perfect match for our 535 000 guests who visit us every year for inspiration via the very inclusive art form of photography.”

the shop's location at the entrance of fotografiska looks like a perfect choice for hasselblad. the center has an exhibition space of 2,500 square meters and features four major and between 15 and 20 minor exhibitions per year. past highlights include exhibitions of the works of such renowned photo artists as annie leibovitz, david lachapelle, anton corbijn as well as hasselblad ambassador’s erik johansson, hans strand and cooper & gorfer.

press release:

2017-06-27

hasselblad partners with fotografiska in stockholm to open its first hasselblad branded store

on 30th june hasselblad will be opening its first own retail store. the store will be located at fotografiska in stockholm, a centre for contemporary photography. the hasselblad store will be home to a full range of hasselblad cameras, lenses and products, while encouraging visitors to explore the hasselblad brand.

hasselblad and fotografiska represent and showcase the world’s best photography. the collaboration will enable hasselblad and fotografiska to provide access to a full range of hasselblad cameras, while also sharing their joint knowledge on the expertise and art of photography. the two companies will also partner to host inspirational photography workshops to help develop both amateur and professional photographers’ skills.

johan åhlén, chief marketing officer of hasselblad, said: “our cameras were born from a love of photography and we are excited to partner with fotografiska to spread our passion and inspire a more conscious world through the power of photography. our new store and workshops represent our commitment to hasselblad users and our desire to enhance the future of photography.”

per broman, founder of fotografiska, said: “we are honoured to collaborate with an iconic swedish camera brand like hasselblad on the opening of its first store. we share the same values and devotion for photography and together with hasselblad’s renowned technical excellence and creative vision, we aim to welcome photography enthusiasts around the world. it is a perfect match for our 535 000 guests who visit us every year for inspiration via the very inclusive art form of photography.”

the shop will be located at the entrance of fotografiska, an international meeting place where everything revolves around photography. the museum has an exhibition space of 2,500 square meters, and features four major exhibitions per year and approximately 15-20 minor exhibitions. past exhibitions have showcased the work of annie leibovitz, david lachapelle, anton corbijn as well as hasselblad ambassador’s erik johansson, hans strand and cooper & gorfer.

to discover more about the collaboration, visit fotografiska.eu/hasselblad.






travel photography and the journey towards a new review style

ok, i’ve got my passport, i’ve got my boarding pass and the camera is in my bag. we may be stuck in rush-hour traffic, but i’ve made it from the office to the cab and, at this point, success or failure is out of my hands. i’m on holiday (or vacation, depending on how you look at it).

if only i’d remembered to grab the charger and spare battery that i’d left charging. without usb charging, this means i’ve got maybe one day’s worth of battery for a two week trip.

taken towards the end of my holiday. if i'd not bought myself a universal charger upon landing in london, i wouldn't have been able to take this shot.

this got me thinking about the needs of photographer while traveling and how they differ from the kinds of photography i usually do.

context is all

so, while we’ve long considered usb charging to be a ‘pro’ in our camera reviews, it’s rarely felt as essential is it did in this moment. and although my particular circumstances brought it into especially tight focus, even for the less harried and forgetful traveler, it’s still an immensely useful feature to have. the plane i traveled on had us plug sockets, then i spent several days in the uk before heading for mainland europe: the only socket i regularly encountered was usb. so, while usb charging is a feature i rarely feel strongly about in my day-to-day photography, it matters a lot in this particular use-case.

use-cases like this are going to play an increasing role in our reviews

and, as it happens, use-cases like this are going to play an increasing role in our reviews. most people buy cameras to fulfill a specific requirement, rather than deciding ‘i really want a single-dial, mid-level dslr,’ so we’re looking to re-format our reviews to discuss our findings in those terms. we’re still going to do all our standard tests, looking at factors such as jpeg quality, raw performance and autofocus, but we’ll tend to discuss the cameras in terms of their strengths and weaknesses for specific tasks. the aim is that this will make it easier to recognize which of our criticisms will be relevant to you in your shooting, as well as helping to ensure we stay focused on real-world relevant matters.

a bright lens and a capable low-light camera aren't the worst thing to have on a summer's evening in paris.
i tried to establish exactly what i meant by "travel camera".

travel is going to be one of the core use-cases that we address in every review, so the past two weeks gave me a chance to test my assumptions about the demands that travel places on a camera. for this trip, i’d decided to pack the canon eos m6 and 22mm f2 lens. after all, i’d just recommended it as a plausible mirrorless ilc alternative to something like a fujifilm x100f: i figured i ought to practice what i preach and try living with my own recommendations. but, rather than just thinking about how the m6 performed as a travel camera, i also tried to establish exactly what i meant by 'travel camera.'

you never know what you're going to end up shooting, when traveling

one of the underlying assumptions for all our use-cases will be that anyone buying a camera cares enough about image quality that they’ve decided their phone isn’t good enough, so all of them will have image quality at their core. individual use-cases, such as social photography might put a greater emphasis on low light shooting than sports photography tends to, but there’ll certainly be some overlap. travel is, perhaps, the clearest example of this. in principle, travel photography sounds like a superset of all the other use-cases: you could end up shooting some sports and action or some social or landscape photography, just further away from home than usual.

a tourist might have different requirements from the photographer on a dedicated photo expedition, but there's overlap in what they need.

the needs of the traveler

my trip made it clear to me that there are some requirements specific to travel photography, though, and also that i’d already considered some of them when choosing the camera in the first place. although a prime lens is inherently more limiting than a zoom, the 35mm equiv. offered by the canon ef-m 22mm is the single focal length i personally find least restrictive. since travel can include a wide variety of photography, flexibility is a fundamental factor.

there are some requirements specific to travel photography... flexibility is a fundamental factor

the other consideration i’d already made was that the m6 with 22mm lens is small enough to carry with me at all times. the need to shoot in bright weather meant a viewfinder would have been useful, but i also know that a full sized dslr would spend too much time in my hotel room and not enough time slung over my shoulder. the m6 with a small lens is just about small enough that i’ll carry it nearly everywhere and it offers enough in the way of image quality that i don’t mind it not being pocket-sized. obviously some people travel specifically for their photography but in this instance, photography was a secondary consideration, so compromises had to be made.

cheers! the eos m6 made a good traveling companion that i didn't mind carrying with me. this is as close as i get to selfies, though

other than the need for portability and ease of charging, the third travel-critical function i discovered was the m6’s wi-fi. although i wanted image quality beyond what my phone was capable of, i also wanted to be able to use the images i was capturing. whether on facebook, instagram or twitter, there were moments i saw on my trip that i wanted to share.

shot in 1:1 on the m6, wi-fied to my phone and then up to instagram

a picture of my parents, standing outside one of their favorite restaurants? emailed to my dad before we’d even walked back to the hotel. an entertaining pictogram, telling people not to dispose of their turtles in a public pond? posted to twitter, while waiting for our train to leave. i wasn’t transferring enough images to make it worth using the full-time bluetooth connection but the m6’s relatively quick and properly reliable image transfer system proved hugely useful.

a 36mm equivalent lens is pretty flexible, but there are times you feel its limitations.

there’s a huge difference between sharing a few selected shots ‘as it happens’ and subjecting your friends and family to a slide show a month after you get back. this became especially apparent when my girlfriend got me to use the m6 to wi-fi some of the photos from her pre-wi-fi camera, so that she could share them asap.

i already knew that i'd find the lack of viewfinder a challenge in sunny weather

i went on holiday to see my family, catch up with some friends, rather than expecting any great voyage of discovery. and, consistent with this, my choice of camera didn’t produce any profound revelations. i already knew that i'd find its lack of viewfinder a challenge in sunny weather (though this was nothing compared with the challenge of the 40°c/104°f temperatures that it brought to madrid). without access to a computer, i also found myself missing fujifilm's choice of film simulations, but again, this wasn't particularly unexpected.

the compact size of the m6 meant it was in my carry-on bag on the flight home, meaning i could grab it as we flew over greenland.

but, while my trip didn’t throw up many surprises about the m6, it did give me plenty to think about as a photographer abroad, and how my needs change in differing circumstances.






samsung launches isocell image sensor brand

samsung electronics has introduced its image sensor brand isocell at the 2017 mobile world congress (mwc) shanghai. samsung originally launched the isocell technology, which reduces crosstalk between pixels through physical barriers, in 2013 and has now decided to use the moniker as a brand name.

“samsung isocell is a brand that represents the essence of our leading pixel technologies. we expect the isocell brand to help consumers easily acknowledge and confide in camera performance as well as overall quality of the device,” said ben hur, vice president of system lsi marketing at samsung electronics. “with our advanced image sensor technologies, samsung will continue to bring innovation to cameras used in smartphones and other applications.”

isocell sensors comprises four sub-brands: bright, fast, slim and dual which are tailored to specific mobile device market demands:

  • isocell bright sensors deliver bright and sharp images with high color fidelity and reduced noise in low light environments
  • isocell fast sensors provide fast autofocus onto still or moving objects even when dark
  • isocell slim sensors adopt the smallest pixel sizes available in the market at 0.9-1.0um, yet produce high quality images for the slimmest devices
  • isocell dual sensors can be mixed and matched in various combinations on consumer devices to bring about features demanded in the latest dual camera trend

the latter works in a similar way to the dual-camera modules in more recent huawei high-end phones. combining an rgb with a monochrome sensor. if the rumors are true we will see the isocell dual sensors for the first time in the upcoming samsung note 8 which is likely to be launched around the ifa trade show in berlin at the beginning of september.






hasselblad to open first own branded retail store

camera manufacturer hasselblad will be opening its first own retail store on 30th june. the store will be located at the fotografiska center for contemporary photography in stockhom, sweden and carry the full range of hasselblad cameras, lenses and accessories, encouraging visitors to explore the hasselblad brand. hasselblad and fotografiska will also partner to host photography workshops for both amateur and professional photographers.

johan åhlén, chief marketing officer of hasselblad, said: “our cameras were born from a love of photography and we are excited to partner with fotografiska to spread our passion and inspire a more conscious world through the power of photography. our new store and workshops represent our commitment to hasselblad users and our desire to enhance the future of photography.”

per broman, founder of fotografiska, said: “we are honoured to collaborate with an iconic swedish camera brand like hasselblad on the opening of its first store. we share the same values and devotion for photography and together with hasselblad’s renowned technical excellence and creative vision, we aim to welcome photography enthusiasts around the world. it is a perfect match for our 535 000 guests who visit us every year for inspiration via the very inclusive art form of photography.”

the shop's location at the entrance of fotografiska looks like a perfect choice for hasselblad. the center has an exhibition space of 2,500 square meters and features four major and between 15 and 20 minor exhibitions per year. past highlights include exhibitions of the works of such renowned photo artists as annie leibovitz, david lachapelle, anton corbijn as well as hasselblad ambassador’s erik johansson, hans strand and cooper & gorfer.

press release:

2017-06-27

hasselblad partners with fotografiska in stockholm to open its first hasselblad branded store

on 30th june hasselblad will be opening its first own retail store. the store will be located at fotografiska in stockholm, a centre for contemporary photography. the hasselblad store will be home to a full range of hasselblad cameras, lenses and products, while encouraging visitors to explore the hasselblad brand.

hasselblad and fotografiska represent and showcase the world’s best photography. the collaboration will enable hasselblad and fotografiska to provide access to a full range of hasselblad cameras, while also sharing their joint knowledge on the expertise and art of photography. the two companies will also partner to host inspirational photography workshops to help develop both amateur and professional photographers’ skills.

johan åhlén, chief marketing officer of hasselblad, said: “our cameras were born from a love of photography and we are excited to partner with fotografiska to spread our passion and inspire a more conscious world through the power of photography. our new store and workshops represent our commitment to hasselblad users and our desire to enhance the future of photography.”

per broman, founder of fotografiska, said: “we are honoured to collaborate with an iconic swedish camera brand like hasselblad on the opening of its first store. we share the same values and devotion for photography and together with hasselblad’s renowned technical excellence and creative vision, we aim to welcome photography enthusiasts around the world. it is a perfect match for our 535 000 guests who visit us every year for inspiration via the very inclusive art form of photography.”

the shop will be located at the entrance of fotografiska, an international meeting place where everything revolves around photography. the museum has an exhibition space of 2,500 square meters, and features four major exhibitions per year and approximately 15-20 minor exhibitions. past exhibitions have showcased the work of annie leibovitz, david lachapelle, anton corbijn as well as hasselblad ambassador’s erik johansson, hans strand and cooper & gorfer.

to discover more about the collaboration, visit fotografiska.eu/hasselblad.






travel photography and the journey towards a new review style

ok, i’ve got my passport, i’ve got my boarding pass and the camera is in my bag. we may be stuck in rush-hour traffic, but i’ve made it from the office to the cab and, at this point, success or failure is out of my hands. i’m on holiday (or vacation, depending on how you look at it).

if only i’d remembered to grab the charger and spare battery that i’d left charging. without usb charging, this means i’ve got maybe one day’s worth of battery for a two week trip.

taken towards the end of my holiday. if i'd not bought myself a universal charger upon landing in london, i wouldn't have been able to take this shot.

this got me thinking about the needs of photographer while traveling and how they differ from the kinds of photography i usually do.

context is all

so, while we’ve long considered usb charging to be a ‘pro’ in our camera reviews, it’s rarely felt as essential is it did in this moment. and although my particular circumstances brought it into especially tight focus, even for the less harried and forgetful traveler, it’s still an immensely useful feature to have. the plane i traveled on had us plug sockets, then i spent several days in the uk before heading for mainland europe: the only socket i regularly encountered was usb. so, while usb charging is a feature i rarely feel strongly about in my day-to-day photography, it matters a lot in this particular use-case.

use-cases like this are going to play an increasing role in our reviews

and, as it happens, use-cases like this are going to play an increasing role in our reviews. most people buy cameras to fulfill a specific requirement, rather than deciding ‘i really want a single-dial, mid-level dslr,’ so we’re looking to re-format our reviews to discuss our findings in those terms. we’re still going to do all our standard tests, looking at factors such as jpeg quality, raw performance and autofocus, but we’ll tend to discuss the cameras in terms of their strengths and weaknesses for specific tasks. the aim is that this will make it easier to recognize which of our criticisms will be relevant to you in your shooting, as well as helping to ensure we stay focused on real-world relevant matters.

a bright lens and a capable low-light camera aren't the worst thing to have on a summer's evening in paris.
i tried to establish exactly what i meant by "travel camera".

travel is going to be one of the core use-cases that we address in every review, so the past two weeks gave me a chance to test my assumptions about the demands that travel places on a camera. for this trip, i’d decided to pack the canon eos m6 and 22mm f2 lens. after all, i’d just recommended it as a plausible mirrorless ilc alternative to something like a fujifilm x100f: i figured i ought to practice what i preach and try living with my own recommendations. but, rather than just thinking about how the m6 performed as a travel camera, i also tried to establish exactly what i meant by 'travel camera.'

you never know what you're going to end up shooting, when traveling

one of the underlying assumptions for all our use-cases will be that anyone buying a camera cares enough about image quality that they’ve decided their phone isn’t good enough, so all of them will have image quality at their core. individual use-cases, such as social photography might put a greater emphasis on low light shooting than sports photography tends to, but there’ll certainly be some overlap. travel is, perhaps, the clearest example of this. in principle, travel photography sounds like a superset of all the other use-cases: you could end up shooting some sports and action or some social or landscape photography, just further away from home than usual.

a tourist might have different requirements from the photographer on a dedicated photo expedition, but there's overlap in what they need.

the needs of the traveler

my trip made it clear to me that there are some requirements specific to travel photography, though, and also that i’d already considered some of them when choosing the camera in the first place. although a prime lens is inherently more limiting than a zoom, the 35mm equiv. offered by the canon ef-m 22mm is the single focal length i personally find least restrictive. since travel can include a wide variety of photography, flexibility is a fundamental factor.

there are some requirements specific to travel photography... flexibility is a fundamental factor

the other consideration i’d already made was that the m6 with 22mm lens is small enough to carry with me at all times. the need to shoot in bright weather meant a viewfinder would have been useful, but i also know that a full sized dslr would spend too much time in my hotel room and not enough time slung over my shoulder. the m6 with a small lens is just about small enough that i’ll carry it nearly everywhere and it offers enough in the way of image quality that i don’t mind it not being pocket-sized. obviously some people travel specifically for their photography but in this instance, photography was a secondary consideration, so compromises had to be made.

cheers! the eos m6 made a good traveling companion that i didn't mind carrying with me. this is as close as i get to selfies, though

other than the need for portability and ease of charging, the third travel-critical function i discovered was the m6’s wi-fi. although i wanted image quality beyond what my phone was capable of, i also wanted to be able to use the images i was capturing. whether on facebook, instagram or twitter, there were moments i saw on my trip that i wanted to share.

shot in 1:1 on the m6, wi-fied to my phone and then up to instagram

a picture of my parents, standing outside one of their favorite restaurants? emailed to my dad before we’d even walked back to the hotel. a silly pictogram, telling people not to dispose of their turtles in a public pond? posted to twitter, while waiting for our train to leave. i wasn’t transferring enough images to make it worth using the full-time bluetooth connection but the m6’s relatively quick and properly reliable image transfer system proved hugely useful.

a 36mm equivalent lens is pretty flexible, but there are times you feel its limitations.

there’s a huge difference between sharing a few selected shots ‘as it happens’ and subjecting your friends and family to a slide show a month after you get back. this became especially apparent when my girlfriend got me to use the m6 to wi-fi some of the photos from her pre-wi-fi camera, so that she could share them asap.

i already knew that i'd find the lack of viewfinder a challenge in sunny weather

i went on holiday to see my family, catch up with some friends, rather than expecting any great voyage of discovery. and, consistent with this, my choice of camera didn’t produce any profound revelations. i already knew that i'd find its lack of viewfinder a challenge in sunny weather (though this was nothing compared with the challenge of the 40°c/104°f temperatures that it brought to madrid). without access to a computer, i also found myself missing fujifilm's choice of film simulations, but again, this wasn't particularly unexpected.

the compact size of the m6 meant it was in my carry-on bag on the flight home, meaning i could grab it as we flew over greenland.

but, while my trip didn’t throw up many surprises about the m6, it did give me plenty to think about as a photographer abroad, and how my needs change in differing circumstances.






analog revival rolls on: rollei vario chrome slide film coming soon

dear film photographers! rollei vario chrome 135-36 is a medium to high-speed color reversal film that is intended for photography under low-level daylight illumination or under other light sources using proper filtration. rollei vario chrome has a medium degree of sharpness, its image results are characterized by a slightly visible grain and a warmish image tone. as the name of the film suggests it has a broad exposure latitude from 200 to 400 iso (dx coded at 320 iso). if you intend to project the slides we suggest to shoot the film at 200 iso whereas 320-400 iso is preferable for scanning applications. pre-sale will start next week on monday july 3rd. we expect the supplies to arrive in week 28 so that we'll be able to start shipping between july 10th and 14th. we hope you'll like the film as much as we do and thank you all for the support.

a post shared by macodirect (@macodirect) on


well this is some unexpected, but exciting news: german photography shop and producer of rollei-branded film, maco direct, has announced rollei vario chrome 135-36. it's an iso 320 color reversal film stock with medium sharpness and a warm tone, which sounds perfect for grey seattle days.

that brings the count to four new, reformulated or resurrected film stocks that will become available this year. the others include: kodak ektachrome, ferrania p30 b/w film, and a reformulation of lomochrome purple 400 film. not to mention lomography also announced three new single-use cameras and german film maker adox announced it will doubled the size of its film plant. all this means more options for analog diehards.

you can pre-order a roll (or more) of rollei vario chrome come july 3rd, and orders will begin shipping as soon as the middle of the month. of course, it makes some sense to wait and see what images from this new film look like, unless you're the gambling type. in that case, please share your results as soon as possible.

has this rollei news whet your appetite for film? here are 10 excellent, affordable film cameras that are easy to track down and get started with.






2017 iphone photography award winners announced

the grand prize (left), first place (top right), and second place (bottom right) winners of the 2017 iphone photography awards. photos courtesy of ippa, individual credits below.

when the iphone photography awards were established in 2007, the first iphone had just been released and its 2mp images were... well, they were nothing to write home about. fast-forward to 2017, and the winners of this year's 10th annual ippas are stunning, taking full advantage of a decade's technological advancement.

this year's winners were selected from 'thousands' of entries that poured in from over 140 countries around the world. let's take them one by one:

grand prize

this year's grand prize and title of iphone photographer of the year went to sebastian tomada for his photograph titled 'children of qayyarah'. photo © sebastian tomada

the grand prize winner, titled 'children of qayyarah', was captured by sebastian tomada, a photojournalist based in new york city and the middle east.

as the title suggests, the image was captured in qayyarah, iraq. it was shot on november 4th, 2016 after islamic state militants set fire to oil wells in the city. the image was captured with an iphone 6s.

1st place

first place went to photographer brendan o se from ireland, for her striking photograph titled 'dock worker'. photo © brendan o se

photographer brendan o se—a university teacher/teacher trainer in cork, ireland—was awarded 1st place in the competition for his portrait of hands titled 'dock worker'.

the photograph was taken on an early morning walk around the docks in jakarta in april of 2016. "these were the hands of a dock worker who was taking a break," says o se. "i was struck by the texture created by the accumulated dirt on his hands."

this photo was also taken with an iphone 6s.

2nd place

second place was awarded to photographer yeow-kwang yeo of singapore for his portrait titled 'the performer'. photo © yeow-kwang yeo

coming in 2nd behind o se and tomada is photographer yeow-kwang yeo, formerly a mechanical engineer and business administrator who decided to change tracks and devoted himself entirely to photography in 2007.

his photograph, 'the performer', was captured at a performance of traditional chinese street opera.

"instead of shooting their performance, i decided to go the back of the stage to capture the performers’ preparation activity," says yeo. "i spotted this experience performer who is taking a short rest and was waiting for his turn to perform. i was attracted by the lighting of the old plastic curtain, electric fan, and the overall calm atmosphere."

the photo was captured with an iphone 6 plus.

3rd place

third place in the overall competition was awarded to photographer kuanglong zhang of shenzhen, china for his image 'the city palace'. photo © kuanglong zhang

the 3rd and final award handed out in the ippa's main photographer of the year category went to chinese photographer kuanglong zhang, a freelance photographer living in shenzhen city. this photograph was taken in udaipur, a city zhang calls 'one of the most romantic in india.'

"in the city palace, i snapped a moment of one of the staff gazing out of the window," says zhang. "[it's] as if he saw the slowly historic course of the palace’s construction, which was quite an attractive moment."

the photo was taken with an iphone 7.

to see more winning images from the other 19 categories the ippa ran, or if you'd like to learn more about each of the photographers above, visit the ippa website by clicking here.


all photos used with permission, courtesy of ippa.






the miggö pictar is a pricey camera grip for iphone photographers

miggö pictar
from $99 | www.mymiggo.com

many photographers would probably agree that the image quality of smartphone cameras has improved rapidly over the past few years and in many cases now rivals the output from some conventional digital compact cameras. however, even if the image quality of the smartphone camera in your pocket is all you need, there is still one area in which conventional cameras offer undeniable advantages over smartphones: ergonomics.

multi-touch smartphone displays are great for general use and navigation of mobile devices, but many photographers prefer physical buttons and dials for setting camera shooting parameters over virtual controls on a screen.

enter the miggö pictar camera grip. it attaches to your iphone and provides a number of customizable physical controls, plus a tripod mount and a cold shoe connector. the pictar is available in two versions. one is compatible with the iphones models 4s, 5, 5s, 6, 6s, se and 7 and will set you back $99. the other fits the larger iphone plus models, including the latest iphone 7 plus flagship, and is $10 more expensive.

i've been using the pictar grip with an iphone 7 plus for a few days. here are my impressions.

features, ergonomics and build quality

attaching the pictar to your phone is straightforward process. you 'click' the phone in place where it is safely held thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism. once attached to the phone and connected to the pictar app the grip offers most essential controls that you would expect on a conventional camera.

the pictar's chunky rubberized grip allows for comfortable and secure holding.

the shutter button supports half-press for focusing and locking exposure and two dials at the back of the grip are by default configured for dialing in exposure and changing the shooting mode. a front dial acts as a zoom ring, pressing it switches to the front camera. this configuration makes sense but if you don't like how things are set up by default, the pictar app allows for an impressive amount of customization. you can have a different setup for each shooting mode and even create custom profiles.

the pictar offers a range of controls and features you would normally find on a digital compact or interchangeable lens camera.

thanks to its rubberized grip the pictar is comfortable to hold, even with only one hand, and most of the controls can be easily reached. only the front dial is in a slightly inconvenient place which means you have to loosen your grip slightly when using it. that's not much of a problem when you hold the phone and grip with both hands but makes for slightly unstable shooting in one-handed use. on my test unit the front dial is also a little stiff, making it difficult to dial in the desired zoom factor with precision.

the grip's open design allows for attachment of most add-on lenses that don't need a phone case but you cannot charge your iphone while the grip is in place. a cold-shoe mount lets you use lights or microphones with your phone and at the bottom of the grip you'll find a standard tripod mount.

two dials on the back allow for quick adjustment of shooting mode and parameters.

two major drawbacks of the pictar are build quality and power supply. it's made of quite cheap-looking plastic which stands in stark contrast to the iphone's premium materials. the buttons feel quite flimsy as well and the spring mechanism makes creaking noises when the iphone is being attached. i have had no particular quality issues during my relatively short test but it remains to be seen how the pictar will stand up to longer travels or intense daily use over time.

power is supplied by a 1/2aa battery which miggö says should last between 4 and 6 months. i had no issues with battery life during my testing but those batteries aren't cheap and, depending on where you are, not always easily available. in this day and age even the cheapest devices seem to be usb-rechargable, and it's a shame that the pictar doesn't offer this feature.

pictar app

the pictar camera app displays all essential shooting information. a histogram, virtual level and framing grid can be activated in the settings.

to use the grip you have to download and install the dedicated pictar app first. instead of bluetooth it communicates with the phone via 'ultrasonic os'. essentially, the grip sends out ultrasonic frequencies that are picked up by the iphone's microphones with a unique frequency for each function. according to the pictar makers, this drains less battery on both devices. everything worked well during our test and all of the grip's physical controls were responsive and reliable at all times.

the app's user interface is simple and well-designed. it shows all important camera settings and gives you the option to display a grid, histogram and virtual horizon. you can set focus and exposure points on the display and in some modes one shooting parameter is adjusted on a virtual slider but otherwise most settings are modified via the grip's physical dials and buttons.

the customization options for the physical controls are almost endless.

the mode dial lets you switch between auto, manual and shutter speed and iso priority modes. there's also a macro mode and a sports modes, which biases toward using higher isos for faster shutter speeds, and a filter mode which allows for some live image manipulation. a video mode is included as well, but manual control is limited to exposure compensation.

unfortunately the pictar app does not offer the option to shoot images in raw format, and there is no button to switch between the iphone 7 plus dual-camera lenses but you can assign that function to the front button if you want to. unlike on a conventional camera a press of the shutter doesn't take you back to the capture screen from review mode or when using another app.

conclusion

in my experience there are two types of mobile photographers: purists who like mobile photography for its inconspicuousness and want to keep their device as compact and portable as possible, and those who like to use any gadget they can get their hands on to enhance their smartphone's camera capabilities or feature set.

if you belong to the latter group and also like to have manual control over your shooting parameters the pictar grip could definitely be for you. the dials and buttons offer quicker adjustment than most on-screen controls and the tripod and cold-shoe mounts will be appreciated by most more serious photographers.

on the downside, the pictar does feel a little cheap for a $100 device. we'd also prefer usb-recharging to relatively obscure 1/2aa batteries. raw support in the camera app would have been nice, too, especially when considering the photographically minded target users. that said, quite a few buyers will probably get the pictar for its attractive retro-look alone. more information is available on the pictar website.

what we like:

  • good ergonomics and comfortable grip
  • easy to use
  • customizable configuration
  • well-designed app

what we don't like:

  • cheap plastic material
  • requires fairly obscure 1/2aa battery
  • slightly stiff front dial makes precise zooming difficult
  • no raw support in camera app





blackmagic design slashes video assist prices

blackmagic design has dropped the prices of its video assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. the smaller, 1080-capable model with its 5" screen has $100 knocked off its price, taking it down to $395 while the 7", video assist 4k drops $300 to a price of $595.

we recently took a look at the benefits of using an external monitor/recorder, and have been pretty impressed with our experiences of using the video assist 4k thus far.

the company has given no further details of the firmware update which promises the addition of waveform and vectorscopes, which was due to be released in june. we'll be publishing a review once the update is available.

press release:

blackmagic design announces summer special price for video assist and video assist 4k

fremont, california - june 27, 2017 - blackmagic design today announced a new summer special promotion for blackmagic video assist and blackmagic video assist 4k. during this promotion, customers can save us$100 on the purchase of a blackmagic video assist, and us $300 on the purchase of a blackmagic video assist 4k. that means blackmagic video assist can now be purchased for only us $395 and blackmagic video assist 4k can be purchased for us$595 from blackmagic design resellers worldwide while stocks last.

the video assist summer special makes it easier than ever for customers to add professional monitoring and broadcast quality recording to any sdi or hdmi camera. with the new summer special pricing for limited stock, customers will be able to buy a video assist for each of their cameras.

the blackmagic video assist family of products gives customers better monitoring and higher quality recording than is available on many cameras. older cameras often feature custom and hard to use file or tape formats, while lower cost consumer cameras often have poor quality file formats and small screens, limiting their professional use. blackmagic video assist solves this problem because it works with every type of camera from dslrs to older tape based camcorders, and even the latest digital film cameras. customers get a large professional on set monitor, along with 10-bit broadcast quality prores and dnxhr recording.

in addition to professional monitoring and recording, the blackmagic video assist 4k model will also support powerful built in scopes such as a waveform monitor, rgb parade, vectorscope and histogram in the upcoming video assist 2.5 update, along with extremely high fidelity audio recording and microphone inputs.

“video assist is an incredibly versatile tool and has become an indispensable part of everyone’s production kit,” said grant petty, blackmagic design ceo. “it’s the perfect portable field monitor and recorder, and now customers can get them at an even lower price so they can add them to all of their cameras while stocks last!”

blackmagic video assist 4k key features

  • 7 inch lcd touch screen with 1920 x 1200 high resolution monitor.
  • professional 10-bit 4:2:2 prores or dnxhd recording up to ultra hd 3840 x 2160p30
  • dual high speed uhs-ii sdhc card recorders use readily available, inexpensive sd card media.
  • dual recorders allow non-stop recording and provide a backup if one fails.
  • 2 mini xlr connectors with 48v phantom power for connecting microphones.
  • -128dbv electrical noise floor for high quality audio recording.
  • lanc connection for remote control.
  • auto start/stop recording using hdmi or sdi triggers.
  • includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12v dc power input.
  • full compatibility with editing software such as davinci resolve, final cut pro x, avid and premier pro.
  • all in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
  • includes 6g-sdi input allowing it to be used as an ultra hd monitor.

blackmagic video assist key features

  • 5 inch lcd touch screen with1080p high resolution monitor.
  • professional 10-bit 4:2:2 prores and dnxhd recording in hd.
  • includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12v dc power input.
  • full compatibility with editing software such as davinci resolve, final cut pro x, avid and premiere pro.
  • all in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
  • includes 6g-sdi input with downconverter allowing it to be used as an ultra hd monitor.

availability and price

blackmagic video assist is available for us$395 and blackmagic video assist 4k is available for us$595 during the summer special promotion, with limited stock now available from blackmagic design resellers worldwide.






blackmagic design slashes video assist prices

blackmagic design has dropped the prices of its video assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. the smaller, 1080-capable model with its 5" screen has $100 knocked off its price, taking it down to $395 while the 7", video assist 4k drops $300 to a price of $595.

we recently took a look at the benefits of using an external monitor/recorder, and have been pretty impressed with our experiences of using the video assist 4k thus far.

the company has given no further details of the firmware update which promises the addition of waveform and vectorscopes, which was due to be released in june. we'll be publishing a review once the update is available.

press release:

blackmagic design announces summer special price for video assist and video assist 4k

fremont, california - june 27, 2017 - blackmagic design today announced a new summer special promotion for blackmagic video assist and blackmagic video assist 4k. during this promotion, customers can save us$100 on the purchase of a blackmagic video assist, and us $300 on the purchase of a blackmagic video assist 4k. that means blackmagic video assist can now be purchased for only us $395 and blackmagic video assist 4k can be purchased for us$595 from blackmagic design resellers worldwide while stocks last.

the video assist summer special makes it easier than ever for customers to add professional monitoring and broadcast quality recording to any sdi or hdmi camera. with the new summer special pricing for limited stock, customers will be able to buy a video assist for each of their cameras.

the blackmagic video assist family of products gives customers better monitoring and higher quality recording than is available on many cameras. older cameras often feature custom and hard to use file or tape formats, while lower cost consumer cameras often have poor quality file formats and small screens, limiting their professional use. blackmagic video assist solves this problem because it works with every type of camera from dslrs to older tape based camcorders, and even the latest digital film cameras. customers get a large professional on set monitor, along with 10-bit broadcast quality prores and dnxhr recording.

in addition to professional monitoring and recording, the blackmagic video assist 4k model will also support powerful built in scopes such as a waveform monitor, rgb parade, vectorscope and histogram in the upcoming video assist 2.5 update, along with extremely high fidelity audio recording and microphone inputs.

“video assist is an incredibly versatile tool and has become an indispensable part of everyone’s production kit,” said grant petty, blackmagic design ceo. “it’s the perfect portable field monitor and recorder, and now customers can get them at an even lower price so they can add them to all of their cameras while stocks last!”

blackmagic video assist 4k key features

  • 7 inch lcd touch screen with 1920 x 1200 high resolution monitor.
  • professional 10-bit 4:2:2 prores or dnxhd recording up to ultra hd 3840 x 2160p30
  • dual high speed uhs-ii sdhc card recorders use readily available, inexpensive sd card media.
  • dual recorders allow non-stop recording and provide a backup if one fails.
  • 2 mini xlr connectors with 48v phantom power for connecting microphones.
  • -128dbv electrical noise floor for high quality audio recording.
  • lanc connection for remote control.
  • auto start/stop recording using hdmi or sdi triggers.
  • includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12v dc power input.
  • full compatibility with editing software such as davinci resolve, final cut pro x, avid and premier pro.
  • all in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
  • includes 6g-sdi input allowing it to be used as an ultra hd monitor.

blackmagic video assist key features

  • 5 inch lcd touch screen with1080p high resolution monitor.
  • professional 10-bit 4:2:2 prores and dnxhd recording in hd.
  • includes slots for 2 hot pluggable batteries as well as 12v dc power input.
  • full compatibility with editing software such as davinci resolve, final cut pro x, avid and premiere pro.
  • all in one design, mount to cameras, hold in your hand or set up on a table with the included kickstand.
  • includes 6g-sdi input with downconverter allowing it to be used as an ultra hd monitor.

availability and price

blackmagic video assist is available for us$395 and blackmagic video assist 4k is available for us$595 during the summer special promotion, with limited stock now available from blackmagic design resellers worldwide.






metabones enables 10 fps shooting with af for canon glass on sony a9

if you were disappointed by reports that the sony a9 struggles with long adapted canon lenses, you might be able to take some comfort from metabones' latest firmware update. the update for ef-e smart adapter mark iv/v and ef-e speed booster ultra adds autofocus support for medium and high burst modes on the sony a9. however, since adapted lens support maxes out at 10 fps with af, high burst mode simply runs at medium speeds (10 fps electronic, 5 fps mechanical).

we've have had a chance to give this update a go with a number of canon mount lenses (including sigma lenses), and are impressed with the results: with wider lenses (85mm and wider), you get phase-detect af over most of the frame at 10 fps in wide and flexible spot modes. with longer lenses (70-200/2.8, 100-400/4.5-5.6), focus starts to falter outside of the central region - something that doesn't happen with native e-mount lenses. in l drive mode (3 fps), the camera opens up the aperture in between shots - both for adapted and e-mount lenses, allowing the camera to continue focusing beyond f11 (at frame rates higher than 3 fps, the camera reverts to manual focus at apertures smaller than f11 - with both adapted and native lenses).

in manual focus mode, you can shoot up to 20 fps with adapted lenses. this is quite an impressive update for the metabones adapter, and we've confirmed it to function significantly better with the a9 than the sigma adapter (which has yet to issue a firmware update for the a9).

the firmware is available for download now from metabones.

firmware upgrade for ef-e smart adaptertm mark iv/v and ef-e speed boostertm ultra

relevant products

this information is for the following models:

  • ef-e smart adaptertm mark iv/v (model number mb_ef-e-bm4 / mb_ef-e-bt4 / mb_ef-e-bt5)
  • ef-e speed boostertm ultra (model number mb_spef-e-bm2 / mb_spef-e-bt2 / mb_spef-e-bt3)

about this download

  • name: firmware update v0.57 for ef-e smart adaptertm mark iv/v and ef-e speed boostertm ultra
  • release date: 26 jun 2017
  • benefits and improvements:
    - added autofocus support during high speed and medium speed continuous drive (up to 10fps) on sony a9 ("green" mode only). experiment with the "priority set in af-c" setting for the best compromise between hit rate and frame rate for your shooting style. overall performance depends on lens used. the camera does not use hunting while tracking is in operation. if subject movement exceeds the measurement range of the ospdaf sensor, autofocus pauses. this is by design. the measurement range of the ospdaf sensor decreases as the focal length increases. except for the original mark i smart adapter this feature is available for all subsequent speed boosters and smart adapters.
    - enlarged pdaf area on supported cameras when adapter is in advanced mode, with the advisory that af performance may be unsatisfactory outside of the central portion of the frame.
    - enabled af illuminator (advanced mode only).
    - there is an af accuracy issue when using af-s or dmf on sony a9 and telephoto lenses with metabones in "advanced" mode, which affects this and all previous firmware versions. green mode, which is set by default on sony a9, is not affected (except for the original smart adapter mark i, which does not support "green" mode). a9 users are advised to not use "advanced" mode but stick with the default "green" mode. in addition, some telephoto lenses rarely exhibit this issue, such as ef 200/2.8l ii usm, ef 400/5.6l usm and tamron 150-600/5-6.3 vc usd a011. investigation of this issue is still in progress.
    - fixed af issue with ef-s 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 is stm and ef-s 18-135/3.5-5.6 is nano usm lenses.
    - fixed smooth iris support for 40/2.8 stm, 50/1.8 stm and sigma 50-100/1.8 dc hsm art 016.
    - fixed cn-e 18-80 t4.4 l is kas s servo zoom used by the camera's zoom rocker and the lens' rocker in alternation.
    - fixed cn-e 18-80 t4.4 l is kas s auto iris when adapter is in green mode, where extremely bright conditions no longer causes the iris to close completely.
    - fixed aperture display with canon ef 300mm f/4l is usm lens and kenko pro 300 teleconvertter.
    - corrected w-t zoom scale display in "advanced" mode for speed booster and kenko pro 300 teleconverter (except mark i/ii/iii and original speed booster).
    - faster aperture diaphragm for still photography in advanced mode when live vide mode is set to setting effect off.
    - led (if available) now shows solid magenta when adapter is connected to usb waiting for metabones app to run.





instagram is testing 'favorites' list to make private sharing easier

instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, according to the verge, though it may roll out to everyone in the future. 'favorites' is a response to users who want more control over who they share content with, but without having to set their account fully private.

'favorites' is described as a single list of friends that is private and customizable. instagram users can add and remove individuals to/from the list at any time, adjusting who can see photos and videos shared privately. speaking to the verge, instagram product lead robby stein explained, 'people are trying to hack instagram to create smaller audiences, and we're trying to recognize that.' content shared to only favorites is tagged with a special green badge.

any number of users can be added to someone's favorites list, though they won't get a notification about it, instead only knowing they're on the list when they see content tagged with the green badge. instagram has been working on the feature for more than a year and anticipates rolling it out to a larger number of users 'in coming months.'

via: the verge






the miggö pictar is a pricey camera grip for iphone photographers

miggö pictar
from $99 | www.miggo.com

many photographers would probably agree that the image quality of smartphone cameras has improved rapidly over the past few years and in many cases now rivals the output from some conventional digital compact cameras. however, even if the image quality of the smartphone camera in your pocket is all you need, there is still one area in which conventional cameras offer undeniable advantages over smartphones: ergonomics.

multi-touch smartphone displays are great for general use and navigation of mobile devices, but many photographers prefer physical buttons and dials for setting camera shooting parameters over virtual controls on a screen.

enter the miggö pictar camera grip. it attaches to your iphone and provides a number of customizable physical controls, plus a tripod mount and a cold shoe connector. the pictar is available in two versions. one is compatible with the iphones models 4s, 5, 5s, 6, 6s, se and 7 and will set you back $99. the other fits the larger iphone plus models, including the latest iphone 7 plus flagship, and is $10 more expensive.

i've been using the pictar grip with an iphone 7 plus for a few days. here are my impressions.

features, ergonomics and build quality

attaching the pictar to your phone is straightforward process. you 'click' the phone in place where it is safely held thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism. once attached to the phone and connected to the pictar app the grip offers most essential controls that you would expect on a conventional camera.

the pictar's chunky rubberized grip allows for comfortable and secure holding.

the shutter button supports half-press for focusing and locking exposure and two dials at the back of the grip are by default configured for dialing in exposure and changing the shooting mode. a front dial acts as a zoom ring, pressing it switches to the front camera. this configuration makes sense but if you don't like how things are set up by default, the pictar app allows for an impressive amount of customization. you can have a different setup for each shooting mode and even create custom profiles.

the pictar offers a range of controls and features you would normally find on a digital compact or interchangeable lens camera.

thanks to its rubberized grip the pictar is comfortable to hold, even with only one hand, and most of the controls can be easily reached. only the front dial is in a slightly inconvenient place which means you have to loosen your grip slightly when using it. that's not much of a problem when you hold the phone and grip with both hands but makes for slightly unstable shooting in one-handed use. on my test unit the front dial is also a little stiff, making it difficult to dial in the desired zoom factor with precision.

the grip's open design allows for attachment of most add-on lenses that don't need a phone case but you cannot charge your iphone while the grip is in place. a cold-shoe mount lets you use lights or microphones with your phone and at the bottom of the grip you'll find a standard tripod mount.

two dials on the back allow for quick adjustment of shooting mode and parameters.

two major drawbacks of the pictar are build quality and power supply. it's made of quite cheap-looking plastic which stands in stark contrast to the iphone's premium materials. the buttons feel quite flimsy as well and the spring mechanism makes creaking noises when the iphone is being attached. i have had no particular quality issues during my relatively short test but it remains to be seen how the pictar will stand up to longer travels or intense daily use over time.

power is supplied by a 1/2aa battery which miggö says should last between 4 and 6 months. i had no issues with battery life during my testing but those batteries aren't cheap and, depending on where you are, not always easily available. in this day and age even the cheapest devices seem to be usb-rechargable, and it's a shame that the pictar doesn't offer this feature.

pictar app

the pictar camera app displays all essential shooting information. a histogram, virtual level and framing grid can be activated in the settings.

to use the grip you have to download and install the dedicated pictar app first. instead of bluetooth it communicates with the phone via 'ultrasonic os'. essentially, the grip sends out ultrasonic frequencies that are picked up by the iphone's microphones with a unique frequency for each function. according to the pictar makers, this drains less battery on both devices. everything worked well during our test and all of the grip's physical controls were responsive and reliable at all times.

the app's user interface is simple and well-designed. it shows all important camera settings and gives you the option to display a grid, histogram and virtual horizon. you can set focus and exposure points on the display and in some modes one shooting parameter is adjusted on a virtual slider but otherwise most settings are modified via the grip's physical dials and buttons.

the customization options for the physical controls are almost endless.

the mode dial lets you switch between auto, manual and shutter speed and iso priority modes. there's also a macro mode and a sports modes, which biases toward using higher isos for faster shutter speeds, and a filter mode which allows for some live image manipulation. a video mode is included as well, but manual control is limited to exposure compensation.

unfortunately the pictar app does not offer the option to shoot images in raw format, and there is no button to switch between the iphone 7 plus dual-camera lenses but you can assign that function to the front button if you want to. unlike on a conventional camera a press of the shutter doesn't take you back to the capture screen from review mode or when using another app.

conclusion

in my experience there are two types of mobile photographers: purists who like mobile photography for its inconspicuousness and want to keep their device as compact and portable as possible, and those who like to use any gadget they can get their hands on to enhance their smartphone's camera capabilities or feature set.

if you belong to the latter group and also like to have manual control over your shooting parameters the pictar grip could definitely be for you. the dials and buttons offer quicker adjustment than most on-screen controls and the tripod and cold-shoe mounts will be appreciated by most more serious photographers.

on the downside, the pictar does feel a little cheap for a $100 device. we'd also prefer usb-recharging to relatively obscure 1/2aa batteries. raw support in the camera app would have been nice, too, especially when considering the photographically minded target users. that said, quite a few buyers will probably get the pictar for its attractive retro-look alone. more information is available on the pictar website.

what we like:

  • good ergonomics and comfortable grip
  • easy to use
  • customizable configuration
  • well-designed app

what we don't like:

  • cheap plastic material
  • requires fairly obscure 1/2aa battery
  • slightly stiff front dial makes precise zooming difficult
  • no raw support in camera app





sony announces new 20mp 1-inch sensor for industrial applications

sony's sensor division has announced a new 1-inch type sensor with an effective pixel count of 20.48mp. the new cmos sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning. the chip can also record dci 4k (4096 x 2160) video at up to 60 frames per second and output 12-bit full-resolution images at readout speeds approaching 22 frames per second.

the new sensor has similar specifications to the chips used in sony's rx100 line of high-end compact cameras and rx10 superzoom models but appears to be designed specifically for industrial and surveillance applications. full specifications are available on the sony semiconductor website.