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Winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

The winners of the 55th annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced earlier this week during a ceremony at the Natural History Museum, in London, which develops and produces the international event.

Over 48,000 images were submitted from 100 countries. The 19 category-winning images will be on display at an exhibition that opens Friday, October 18th, at the National History Museum before touring across the United Kingdom and internationally to locations including Canada, Spain, the USA, Australia and Germany.

The Grand Title Winner, titled 'The Moment' and captured by Chinese photographer Yongqing Baoas, is a humorous shot of a Himalayan marmot being scared by a Tibetan fox determined to find food for its three young cubs.

Open to photographers of all ages and abilities, entries for the next Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will open on Monday, October 21st and close on December 12th. Find out more, here.

Winner, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner 2019, Grand Title Winner: The Moment by Yongqing Bao

About the photo: This Himalayan marmot was not long out of hibernation when it was surprised by a mother Tibetan fox with three hungry cubs to feed. With lightning-fast reactions, Yongqing captured the attack – the power of the predator baring her teeth, the terror of her prey, the intensity of life and death written on their faces.

As one of the highest-altitude-dwelling mammals, the Himalayan marmot relies on its thick fur for survival through the extreme cold. In the heart of winter it spends more than six months in an exceptionally deep burrow with the rest of its colony. Marmots usually do not resurface until spring, an opportunity not to be missed by hungry predators.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS-1D X + 800mm f5.6 lens; 1/2500 sec at f5.6 (+0.67 e/v); ISO 640; Manfrotto carbon-fibre tripod + 509HD head

Winner, Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Winner 2019, Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Grand title winner: Night Glow by Cruz Erdmann, New Zealand

About the photo: Cruz was on a night dive with his dad when he saw a pair of bigfin reef squid in the shallow water. One swam off but Cruz quickly adjusted his camera and strobe settings, knowing that the opportunity was too good to miss. He shot four frames of the remaining squid before it too disappeared into the inky blackness.

Bigfin reef squid are masters of camouflage, changing their body colour and pattern using their reflective and pigmented skin cells. They also alter their appearance to help them communicate. During courtship, males and females display complex patterns to indicate their willingness to mate.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 100mm f2.8 lens; 1/125 sec at f29; ISO 200; Ikelite DS161 strobe; Aquatica 5D Mk II Pro housing

Winner, Animals in their Environment

Winner 2019, Animals in their Environment: Snow-Plateau Nomads by Shangzhen Fan, China

About the photo: A small herd of male chirus makes its way to the relative warmth of the Kumukuli Desert. These nimble antelopes are high-altitude specialists found only on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau. For years, Shangzhen made the long, arduous journey to observe them there. Here he drew the contrasting elements of snow and sand together.

Underneath their long hair, chirus have a light, warm underfur called shahtoosh. It grows tightly against their skin and can only be harvested by killing and skinning the chirus. Protection since the 1990s has seen their once-decimated numbers increase, but there is still demand – primarily from Westerners – for shahtoosh shawls.

Gear and specs: Nikon D5 + 600mm f4 lens; 1/1250 sec at f6.3 (+0.3 e/v); ISO 125; Gitzo GT5532S 6X tripod

Winner, Animal Portraits

Winner 2019, Animal Portraits: Face of Deception by Ripan Biswas, India

About the photo: Ripan was photographing a red weaver ant colony when he spotted this slightly strange individual. It may have the face of an ant but its eight legs give it away – on closer inspection Ripan discovered that it was an ant-mimicking crab spider. By reverse mounting his lens, Ripan converted it to a macro capable of taking extreme close-ups.

Many spider species imitate ants in appearance and behaviour. Infiltrating an ant colony can help them prey on unsuspecting ants or avoid being eaten by predators that dislike ants. This particular spider, says Ripan, seemed to be roaming around the colony, looking for a solitary ant that it could grab for a meal.

Gear and specs: Nikon D500 + 18–55mm lens (reverse mounted); 1/160 sec; ISO 200; Godox V860II flash

Winner, Behavior: Amphibians and Reptiles

Winner 2019, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles: Pondworld by Manuel Plaickner, Italy

About the photo: Every spring for more than a decade, Manuel followed the mass migration of common frogs. He took this image by immersing himself and his camera in a large pond where hundreds of frogs had gathered. There he waited until the moment arrived for the picture he had in mind – lingering frogs, harmonious colours, soft, natural light and dreamy reflections.

Rising spring temperatures bring common frogs out of their winter shelters. They head straight to water to breed, often returning to where they were spawned. Though widespread across Europe, their numbers are thought to be declining due to habitat degradation from pollution and drainage of breeding sites.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 17–40mm f4 lens at 20mm; 1/640 sec at f8 (+0.7 e/v); ISO 800; Seacam housing

Winner, Behavior: Birds

Winner 2019, Behavior: Birds: Land of the Eagle by Audun Rikardsen, Norway

About the photo: Audun carefully positioned this tree branch, hoping it would make a perfect lookout for a golden eagle. He set up a camera trap and occasionally left road-kill carrion nearby. Very gradually, over the next three years, this eagle started to use the branch to survey its coastal realm. Audun captured its power as it came in to land, talons outstretched.

Golden eagles typically fly at around 50 kilometres per hour but can reach speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour when diving for prey. This, along with their sharp talons, makes them formidable hunters. Normally they kill small mammals, birds, reptiles or fish, but they also eat carrion and have been known to target larger animals too.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 11–24mm f4 lens at 11m; 1/2500 sec at f14 (-1 e/v); ISO 800; Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT flash; Camtraptions motion sensor; Sirui tripod

Winner, Behavior: Invertebrates

Winner 2019, Behavior: Invertebrates: The Architectural Army by Daniel Kronauer, Germany/USA

About the photo: By day this colony of army ants raided their surrounds, mostly hunting other ant species. At dusk they moved on, travelling up to 400 metres before building a nest for the night. Positioning his camera on the forest floor, Daniel was wary of upsetting thousands of venomous army ants. ‘You mustn’t breathe in their direction,’ he says.

Army ants alternate between nomadic and stationary phases. These ants are in a nomadic phase, building a new nest each night using their own bodies. The soldier ants interlock their claws to form a scaffold while the queen stays inside in a network of chambers and tunnels. During the stationary phase they will stay in the same nest while the queen lays new eggs.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 7D + 16–35mm f2.8 lens at 16mm + extension ring; 3.2 sec at f22; ISO 100; Canon Speedlite flash

Winner, Behavior: Mammals

Winner 2019, Behavior: Mammals: The Equal Match by Ingo Arndt, Germany

About the photo: The guanaco turns, terrified, his last mouthful of grass flying in the wind as a female puma attacks. For Ingo, this is the culmination of months of work tracking wild pumas on foot, enduring extreme cold and biting winds. After an intense four-second struggle, the guanaco escaped with his life, leaving the puma to go hungry.

Because they are so abundant in Patagonia, guanacos are common prey of pumas. These big cats are solitary and hunt by patiently stalking before they pounce. Their robust hind legs allow them to take on animals bigger than themselves but they can also feed on smaller animals, such as rodents and birds.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II + 600mm f4 lens; 1/3000 sec at f4; ISO 1000; Gitzo tripod

Winner, Urban Wildlife

Winner 2019, Urban Wildlife: The Rat Pack by Charlie Hamilton James, UK

About the photo: On Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan, brown rats scamper between their home under a tree grille and a pile of rubbish bags full of food waste. Lighting his shot to blend with the glow of the street lights and operating his kit remotely, Charlie captured this intimate, street-level view.

Urban rat populations are rising fast worldwide and their association with spreading disease in humans inspires fear and disgust. Rats are smart and capable of navigating complex networks such as subway systems. Being powerful swimmers, burrowers and jumpers makes these rodents particularly well suited to city living.

Gear and specs: Sony α7R III + 16–35mm f4 lens at 24mm; 1/20 sec at f11; ISO 4000; Sony flash; PocketWizard trigger

Winner, Earth's Environments

Winner 2019, Earth's Environments: Creation by Luis Vilariño, Spain

About the photo: Red-hot lava from Kīlauea volcano instantly boils the cool Pacific Ocean where they meet at the Hawaiian coast. As Luis’s helicopter flew along the coastline a sudden change in wind direction parted the plumes of steam to reveal the fiery river. Quickly framing his shot through the helicopter’s open door, he captured the tumultuous creation of new land.

As the lava boils the seawater, it produces acid steam and tiny shards of glass, which combine to create a lava haze or ‘laze’. This eruption was Kīlauea’s largest in 200 years. For three months in 2018, lava spewed from the summit and surrounding fissures, eventually destroying over 700 homes and solidifying to create hundreds of acres of new land.

Gear and specs: Sony α7R III + 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens at 196mm; 1/4000 sec at f5.6; ISO 800

Winner, Black and White

Winner 2019, Black and White: Snow Exposure by Max Waugh, USA

About the photo: In a winter whiteout a lone American bison briefly lifts its head from its endless foraging. Max purposefully slowed his shutter speed to blur the snow and ‘paint lines across the silhouette of the bison’. Slightly overexposing the shot and converting it to black and white accentuated the simplicity of the wintry scene.

Swinging their huge heads from side to side, American bison sweep away snow with their muzzles to eat the grasses and sedges buried beneath. Originally a common sight, their largescale slaughter for meat and hides brought them close to extinction in the nineteenth century. But populations are recovering and wild American bison now thrive in national parks.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS-1D X + 100–400mm f5.6 lens at 200mm; 1/15 sec at f22 (+1 e/v); ISO 100

Winner, Wildlife Photojournalism

Winner 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism: Another Barred Migrant, Alejandro Prieto, Mexico

About the photo: It took Alejandro two years to take the perfect photo of a male jaguar. Under a luminous, star-studded Arizona sky, he projects it onto a section of the US–Mexico border fence to symbolise ‘the jaguar’s past and its possible future presence in the United States. If the wall is built,’ he says, ‘it will destroy the jaguar population in the United States.’

Jaguars are mainly found in South America but historically also roamed the southwest of the United States. Over the past century, hunting and habitat destruction have resulted in the species disappearing from this area. Any hope of establishing a breeding population in this region rests on the contentious border remaining partially open.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850 + Sigma 14–24mm f2.8 lens at 16mm; 30 sec at f2.8; ISO 1600; remote control; Gitzo tripod; Epson projector

Winner, Rising Star Portfolio Award

Winner 2019, Rising Start Portfolio Award: Frozen Moment by Jérémie Villet, France

About the photo: Entwined in each other’s thick spiral horns, two male Dall sheep pause during a fierce clash. For years, Jérémie had dreamed of photographing pure-white Dall sheep against a snow-clad alpine backdrop. Lying in the snow nearby, he battled with strong winds, heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures, determined to capture this moment of both ‘purity and power’.

Dall sheep thrive in arctic and subarctic regions of the world. They depend on steep, rugged cliffs and outcrops to provide them with places to escape from predators, while using nearby open grass and meadows to feed. In winter they favour areas with strong winds that remove snow and expose forage.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 400mm f2.8 lens; 1/1600 sec at f2.8 (+1.3 e/v); ISO 500

Winner, Plants and Fungi

Winner 2019, Plants and Fungi: Tapestry of life by Zorica Kovacevic

About the photo: Festooned with bulging orange velvet, trimmed with grey lace, the arms of a Monterey cypress tree weave an otherworldly canopy over Pinnacle Point, in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, California. This tiny, protected coastal zone is the only place in the world where natural conditions combine to conjure this magical scene.

Though the Monterey cypress is widely planted (valued for its resistance to wind, salt, drought and pests), it is native only on the Californian coast in just two groves. Its spongy orange cladding is in fact a mass of green algae spectacularly colored by carotenoid pigments, which depend on the tree for physical support but photosynthesize their own food. The algal species occurs widely, but it is found on Monterey cypress trees only at Point Lobos, which has the conditions it needs – clean air and moisture, delivered by sea breezes and fog. The vibrant orange is set off by the tangles of grey lace lichen (a combination of alga and fungus), also harmless to the trees.

After several days experimenting, Kovacevic decided on a close-up abstract of one particular tree. With reserve visitors to this popular spot confined to marked trails, she was lucky to get overcast weather (avoiding harsh light) at a quiet moment. She had just enough time to focus-stack 22 images (merging the sharp parts of all the photos) to reveal the colorful maze in depth.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850 + 70–200mm f2.8 lens at 112mm; 1/4 sec at f8; ISO 64; Really Right Stuff tripod + ballhead.

Winner, Under Water

Winner 2019, Under Water: The garden of eels by David Doubilet

About the photo: The colony of garden eels was one of the largest David Doubilet had ever seen, at least two thirds the size of a football field, stretching down a steep sandy slope off Dauin, in the Philippines – a cornerstone of the famous Coral Triangle.

Doubilet rolled off the boat in the shallows and descended along the colony edge, deciding where to set up his kit. He had long awaited this chance, sketching out an ideal portrait of the colony back in his studio and designing an underwater remote system to realize his ambition. It was also a return to a much-loved subject – his first story of very many stories in National Geographic was also on garden eels.

These warm-water relatives of conger eels are extremely shy, vanishing into their sandy burrows the moment they sense anything unfamiliar. David placed his camera housing (mounted on a base plate, with a ball head) just within the colony and hid behind the remnants of a shipwreck. From there he could trigger the system remotely via a 12-meter (40-foot) extension cord.

It was several hours before the eels dared to rise again to feed on the plankton that drifted by in the current. He gradually perfected the set-up, each time leaving an object where the camera had been so as not to surprise the eels when it reappeared. Several days later – now familiar with the eels’ rhythms and the path of the light – he began to get images he liked. When a small wrasse led a slender cornetfish through the gently swaying forms, he had his shot.

Gear and specs: Nikon D3 + 17–35mm f2.8 lens at 19mm; 1/40 sec at f14; ISO 400; Seacam housing; aluminum plate + ballhead; remote trigger; Sea & Sea YS250 strobes (at half power).

Winner, Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award

Winner 2019, Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award: Show Time by Jasper Doest, The Netherlands

About the photo: For 17 years Riku has performed skits three times a day in front of large audiences in a theatre in Japan. The appeal of these traditional and popular performances lies in the anthropomorphic appearance of the trained macaques. It took Jasper a long time to gain permission to take pictures of the performance, and he was appalled that an animal once considered a sacred mediator between gods and humans was now being ridiculed for commercial gain.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 24–70mm f2.8 lens; 1/160 sec at f10 (-1.7 e/v); ISO 2000

Winner, Wildlife Photographer Portfolio Award

Winner 2019, Wildlife Photographer Portfolio Award: The Art of Conception by Stefan Christmann, Germany

About the photo: Stefan was lucky to find this isolated couple courting – many pairs had already mated by the time conditions allowed him to access this remote spot. The serene backdrop of sea ice and a distant stranded iceberg softly lit by the setting sun gives no hint that the Antarctic winter is about to intensify.

Emperor penguins form a new bond each year and are monogamous for the season. Males perform a courtship call until chosen by a female. The female lies on the sea ice and signals that she is ready before the male climbs onto her back. ‘The male struggled to keep his balance,’ says Stefan.

Gear and specs: Nikon D810 + 400mm f2.8 lens; 1/400 sec at f5.6; ISO 800

Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:49 pm

Late last year, Adobe promised the future arrival of 'real Photoshop' for the iPad, something consumers expected would be a desktop-class offering able to compete with Affinity Photo and other apps already available on Apple's tablets. The Photoshop for iPad app entered private beta testing in late August ahead of its public launch and now details are starting to roll in from testers.

According to Bloomberg News, some Photoshop on iPad beta testers are reporting a lack of key features they had thought would be available in the app. Some of these missing or stunted features are said to involve core aspects of the software, including raw editing, layer styles, filters, smart objects, the pen tool and parts of mask creation.

One tester claimed the beta version of the app is 'inferior' to Affinity Photo and Procreate, two apps available on the iPad.

A promotional photo currently on Apple's website showing off a demo version of Adobe Photoshop CC, which still reads 'Coming to iPad in 2019.'

Adobe's Creative Cloud chief product officer Scott Belsky told Bloomberg that the final version of the software will include more features, which are being added close to launch because the company must work with Apple in order to bring the software to iPadOS. Instead of packing as many features as possible into the software before launch, Adobe told Bloomberg that its engineers focused on features they believed would be most desired by iPad users.

Users can expect the ability to sync their work with the desktop version of Photoshop using Creative Cloud, plus there will be support at launch for all Photoshop files and non-destructive editing. As well, users can expect 'entirely new tools' that revolve around native iPad features, namely the Apple Pencil and touchscreen.

Adobe says that it will continue to expand iPad on Photoshop's abilities over time following its launch in the coming months.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 5:51 pm

Tokina has announced the release of its new ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF lens for Canon EF and Nikon F mount crop-sensor cameras.

The re-designed lens is constructed of 13 elements in 11 groups, including two aspherical elements, a 'large' aspherical P-MO element and two all-glass molded low dispersion (SD) elements.

Other features include an aperture range of F2.8-F22, a nine-blade aperture diaphragm, a 77mm front filter thread and a minimum focusing distance of 30cm (11in). Tokina has included its One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism for easy switching between autofocus and manual focus by snapping the focus ring forward (for autofocus) or backward (for manual focus).

The Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF weighs 555g (19.58oz) and measures 84mm (3.31in) long. It is currently available for pre-order for $449 (Adorama, B&H) and will hit official retailers shelves on November 8, 2019.

Press Release:

Kenko Tokina announces release of the NEW ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF lens

NEW ATX-i Series from Tokina updates the Best-Selling super wide-angle lens for crop-sensor DSLR cameras from Canon and Nikon.

Huntington Beach, CA, October 17, 2019: Kenko Tokina, Japan’s leading manufacturer of premium camera accessories, is releasing the Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF super wide-angle zoom lens for crop-sensor DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon. Distributed in the US exclusively by Kenko Tokina USA, this new lens is ideal for photographers and video content creators who specialize in landscape, architecture, documentary, environmental portraits, and night sky imagery.

The Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF is re-designed for an improved user experience and better image quality. The constant- aperture lens provides excellent edge-to-edge sharpness and resolution. Reduces flare and ghosting, while maintaining excellent contrast and color. A new waterproof topcoat also makes it easier to clean.

Popular among cinematographers too, because the lens provides a wide cinematic feel, minimized breathing, no edge distortion while panning, and the overall weight and internal focus design makes it an ideal choice for gimbal work.

The One-Touch Focus Clutch Mechanism makes switching from AF to manual focus (MF) simple. While in AF mode the user only needs to snap the focus ring back toward the camera to engage “real” manual focus control. This gives photographers an authentic tactile MF feel with hard stops on either side of the focus range like traditional manual lenses. Additionally, the directional rotation of the focus ring matches the direction of proprietary Nikon and Canon lenses.

Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF MACRO

“This lens offers technical advancements over the current ATX version,” said Yuji Matsumoto, President at Kenko Tokina USA. “It offers enhanced performance and a sleek new look that matches the cosmetics of today’s advanced DSLR cameras.”

“It is an excellent upgrade to one of Tokina’s most popular lenses.” said Greg Napoli, National Sales Manager for Kenko Tokina USA. “The original 11-16mm lens has been a staple of our line-up for years and this new version will continue to find its way into more camera bags.”

Kenko Tokina announces release of the NEW ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF lens

The new Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 CF incorporates a complex optical design, with 13 elements in 11 groups. Using 2 aspherical lenses including a large aspherical P-MO element and 2 all-glass molded Low-Dispersion (SD) elements, the lens effectively suppresses chromatic and spherical aberrations. The front element provides super-low distortion and low light fall-off for straight lines and minimal exposure vignetting. Perfect for architectural, landscape, astrophotographers, and cinematographers.

Worldwide sales of the Tokina ATX-i 11-16mm F2.8 super wide angle zoom lens will begin on November 8, 2019 with authorized Tokina USA retailers taking pre-orders October 17, 2019.

Price: $449.00

More information is available at https://tokinausa.com.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 4:47 pm

Color calibration company Datacolor has announced a 64-bit update for its Spyder5 calibration sensor (Adorama, B&H) that will ensure the device is compatible with Apple's latest macOS Catalina update.

The update, which was required due to the lack of 32-bit application support macOS Catalina, is available as a free software upgrade for all Spyder5 owners.

Datacolor's newest calibration sensor, the SpyderX, is already 64-bit computable, so if you have the Spyder, there's no need to update. You can find out more information by visiting Datacolor's product page.

Press Release:

{pressrelease}

Datacolor Releases 64-Bit Upgrade for Spyder5 Software

Lawrenceville, NJ – October 17, 2019 – Datacolor®, a global leader in color management solutions, is providing all Spyder5 users with an upgrade of their software for monitor calibration. Datacolor will continue to ensure full compatibility with the latest operating systems for customers using the Spyder5 sensor. This is in compliance of new industry standards with the Apple operating system, which will no longer support 32-bit applications with the Catalina macOS 10.15 version.

The Spyder5 software upgrade is free for all users and can be downloaded from the Datacolor website.

Datacolor’s current monitor calibration solution - SpyderX, is 64-bit compatible. SpyderX is Datacolor’s fastest, most accurate and easy-to-use color calibration sensor, providing photographers, designers and videographers with the ultimate confidence and control over their creative vision.

More information about the SpyderX can be found at spyderx.datacolor.com. {/pressrelease}

Posted: October 17, 2019, 3:14 pm

A number of third-party services allow users to link their Instagram accounts in order to access certain features, such as photo printing services that enable customers to directly order prints of their Instagram images. Going forward, Instagram is offering its users more control over these authorizations, including which services are connected and when they were authorized.

Instagram detailed the new control on its press blog this week, explaining that users can now pull up a list of third-party services that are actively authorized on one's Instagram account by tapping Settings > Security > Apps and Websites.

The menu now displays 'Active' authorizations given to third-party services, including the name of the app, the date the link was authorized, direct links to the privacy policies for these linked services, and the ability to terminate the authorization by tapping a 'Remove' button.

Beyond that, Instagram has also launched a new authorization screen that appears in the Instagram app when third-party services request info from the user's account. This screen shows the name of the third-party service, which profile information it is requesting, and what kind of data it wants access to. Instagram users will need to manually authorize or cancel the request.

According to Instagram, users will see these new features rolling out 'gradually' over the next six months.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 2:00 pm

Hands-on with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Meet the newest member of the Olympus Micro Four Thirds family: the OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Coming in more than four years after its predecessor was released, Olympus has really stepped up the specs of the E-M5 III, managing to fit an awful lot from its higher-end E-M1 Mark II into a much smaller overall package. Is it worth the wait? Let's take a closer look and find out.

New sensor, autofocus system and stabilizer

To start, the E-M5 III comes with a new 20MP sensor and 121-point phase-detection autofocus system which are backed up by a new 'Truepic VIII' image processor, all of which are lifted from the E-M1 II. The resolution bump is welcome, of course, over the E-M5 II's 16MP of resolution, but the older camera only utilized contrast-detection autofocus. The adoption of phase-detection should make the E-M5 III a more tempting option for users that want to photograph moving subjects.

There's also an updated, more compact in-body image stabilizer, promising 5.5 stops of shake reduction with a non-stabilized lens, while putting on a stabilized lens gets you 6.5 stops using 'Sync IS'. That means you should be able to hand-hold pretty slow shutter speeds and still get sharp results, so you can keep your ISO value down in low light or simply leave a tripod at home in some situations.

Lastly, the new sensor and AF system now allow the E-M5 III to fire at a maximum burst rate of 10 fps with full autofocus and auto exposure (and up to a 30 fps mode with manual focus), and Olympus claims equal tracking performance to the E-M1 Mark II. It also gains a Pro Capture mode, which captures 30fps bursts, but saves 15 of them prior to the moment you hit the shutter - a great feature for peak action moments.

Top-plate controls

The top plate of the camera has been extensively redesigned, and is far more similar in layout to that of the E-M1 II. The power switch is in the same place as the old model, but the mode dial is now on the right side of the viewfinder hump instead of the left, and the left shoulder adopts drive and display buttons that are also customizable.

Clip-on flash

Just like its predecessor, the E-M5 III has no built-in flash, but Olympus includes the FL-LM3 compact clip-on unit that allows for tilting and bouncing. The external design helps the camera stay smaller and better sealed, but the fact that it can articulate makes it much more versatile than a fixed or pop-up strobe that's built in. It's a really nice touch, and as an added bonus, the flash is advertised as being splash and dust resistant.

Rear controls

The E-M5 III's rear control layout is actually pretty similar to the older model, which isn't a bad thing - but the 'Fn' switch is now textured for easier operation, and the top right thumb pad gains a dedicated ISO button. The screen is unchanged, coming in at 3" and 1.04M dots. Olympus has added the ability to drag your finger around on the touchscreen to move your autofocus point while the camera is to your eye - and you can quickly enable or disable this feature by double-tapping. Pretty snazzy.

The viewfinder has seen some updates as well, including...

OLED Electronic viewfinder

...an increased eyepoint spec, which should make it easier for eyeglass-wearers to get the full view of the 2.36M-dot panel. Plus, that panel is now OLED, which is a welcome update to the previous model's LCD tech thanks to greater contrast. Unfortunately, there has been a tradeoff - the magnification has fallen from approximately 0.74x to 0.68x.

Ports

Like the older model, the E-M5 III comes with a microphone port to get you better audio when recording video (and more on video very shortly), but no headphone port to monitor audio during recording. The other ports have been updated, though - gone is the proprietary USB / A/V-out connector (hooray!), and in its place are standard micro USB, micro HDMI and remote trigger ports. The camera can also be charged over its USB connection, but Olympus still includes a dedicated charger in the box, which we always like to see.

Video

The E-M5 III is, like Olympus' other models, now capable of shooting 4K video at up to 30 frames per second with no crop. We haven't yet been able to test its quality, but we expect it to look quite good. Even the lower-end E-M10 III can capture impressively detailed 4K footage, and the E-M5 III inherits that camera's effective digital stabilizer on top of the already good in-body stabilizer to smooth out hand shake. It also gains a DCI 4K video mode from the E-M1 II, with a theoretical maximum bitrate of ~237Mbps.

If high-speed video is more your thing, the E-M5 III tops out at a respectable 1080/120p.

Battery

Olympus has changed the type of battery the E-M5 III uses; it's now the BLS-50 unit that we first saw in the PL series, as opposed to the BLN-1 from the E-M5 II. It's more of a packaging and design consideration than anything else, as the new battery's capacity isn't much diminished (1210mAh compared to 1220mAh and 8.7Wh rather than 9.3Wh), and CIPA-rated battery life is likewise unchanged at 310 shots. As with all CIPA ratings, you can expect to get more shots than that in real-world use, but this rating looks a bit low against the competition.

UHS-II card slot

Another welcome update is the inclusion of a UHS-II card slot, which should speed up write times with compatible cards. This isn't especially common in this class of camera, and will come in handy if you're using the 30 fps Pro Capture burst mode.

Weather-sealing

Although the older E-M5 II was also described as weather-sealed, the Mark III now gains the same official IPX1 rating that Olympus' sports-shooting E-M1X earns. This technically means that it can withstand dripping water for 10 minutes, which may not sound super impressive, but the fact that these interchangeable lens cameras have ratings at all sets them apart from most of the market. Of course, we're not advocating you go and run your brand-new E-M5 III under the tap, but it should stand up well to shooting in inclement weather or environments.

And that's about it! We've long been fans of the E-M5 lineup, and we're happy to see that Olympus has crammed plenty of updates and refinements into the Mark III, all while keeping the size similar and even losing a few grams of weight. After all, so many cameras are so capable these days, we generally expect to see refinements of already good cameras rather than revolutionary changes.

But what do you make of Olympus' latest camera? Do you think it's worth the wait? Let us know in the comments.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 12:00 pm

In addition to the release of its E-M5 Mark III camera, Olympus has also announced the launch of the PEN E-PL10, a new Micro Four Thirds camera for the Japanese and Chinese markets.

The Olympus PEN E-PL10 is visually indistinguishable to the PEN E-PL9 both in the front and the rear of the camera. Like the PEN E-PL9, the E-PL10's 3" 1040k-dot touchscreen screen now flips down (instead of up) for easy video recording and selfies.

Internally, the camera doesn't look much different either compared to its predecessor. It features what we believe to be the same 16.1 Megapixel Live MOS sensor found inside the PEN E-PL9, as well as the same TruePic VIII image processor, 3-axis image stabilization (CIPA-rated for up to 3.5 stops of compensation) and contrast detection autofocus system. It also features the same 8.6 fps burst rate and 4K capture at up to 30 fps.

Olympus has added a new 'Fine Tune' option to adjust how strong the Art Filter effects are when applied to images.

On the connectivity front, the E-PL10 features a Micro USB port and Micro HDMI port on the side of the camera, as well as built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity for pairing with the Olympus Image Share app.

As with the PEN E-PL9, the E-PL10 will be available as body-only and a pair of kits. The first kit includes the M.Zuiko 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 'EZ' power zoom lens while the second 'Double Zoom Kit' also includes the M.Zuiko 40-150mm F4-5.6 R lens. Available colors include black, brown and white. Pricing isn't yet available, but the PEN E-PL10 is destined for the Japan and China markets in late November 2019.

Press Release:

Transform Your Photography While Embracing Creativity With the Olympus PEN E-PL10

A Compact and Sophisticated Interchangeable Lens Camera That You Can Take Everywhere

Olympus Corporation (President: Yasuo Takeuchi) is pleased to announce the newest micro Four Thirds System standard interchangeable lens camera, the Olympus PEN E-PL10, scheduled to go on sale in late November 2019. This model features a simple, sophisticated design packed with a wide array of expressive shooting functions. The compact, lightweight body is equipped with in-body image stabilization and a flip-downLCD monitor along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy even for beginner interchangeable lens camera users to enjoy capturing and sharing creative, expressive photographs.

Main Features

– Blur-free high image quality in various scenes, such as night scenes, telephoto shooting, and video recording

– Flip-down LCD monitor for shooting at any angle and useful Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly transfer photos from the camera to a smartphone

– Enjoy a wealth of creative expressions using Art Filters and interchangeable lenses

– A compact, lightweight body with a simple sophisticated design that matches your style

The Olympus PEN E-PL10 is equipped with in-body image stabilization and offers blur-free high image quality with a simple touch operation. It is packed with features that expand creative expressions, such as selfie, Art Filter for impressive, artistic finishes, and compatibility with various interchangeable lenses. By using the built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® in conjunction with the Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) smartphone app, the camera easily connects to a smartphone to transfer images and share them on social media. Tutorial videos are also available to learn shooting techniques using OI.Share, making it the perfect interchangeable lens camera for the beginner photographer. Packing versatile features for a rich array of photographic expressions in a simple, sophisticated, compact design, this is a model that you can take everywhere.

Olympus interchangeable lens camera systems’ biggest advantage is their amazing mobility thanks to the compact, lightweight camera system, including lenses. The combination of a high-resolution, high-performance lens lineup and powerful image stabilization results in sharp, high- quality photos and videos in a variety of scenes.

Main Features Details

Blur-free high image quality in various scenes, such as night scenes, telephoto shooting, and video recording

This model is equipped with in-body image stabilization, powerfully suppressing camera shake, which tends to occur when shooting at night, in dim indoor scenes, while shooting video and when using a telephoto lens. It also features TruePic VIII, the same image processor found in Olympus’ professional models, for clear images with minimal noise, even in low-light scenes. The combination of in-body image stabilization and TruePic VIII provides blur-free images.

Flip-down monitor for shooting at any angle and useful Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to wirelessly transfer photos from the camera to a smartphone

Flip-down LCD monitor

Simply touch the subject shown on the LCD monitor to simultaneously focus and activate the shutter (Touch AF Shutter). When the monitor is flipped down, it automatically switches the camera to Selfie mode for easy self-portrait shooting. You can also select e-Portrait for brighter, smoother skin, or switch to movie recording with a simple touch operation. Changing the angle of the LCD monitor also makes it possible to shoot from various perspectives.

Easy connection to a smartphone

Use the built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® and the Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) app to easily connect the camera and smartphone to import images and share on social media. By using the Share Order function, selected photos or videos on the camera will be automatically transferred to your smartphone once the camera is turned off. OI.Share also provides a Camera How To guide, containing tutorial videos of shooting techniques and a Digital Guidebook packed with other useful shooting tips.

Enjoy a wealth of creative expressions using Art Filters and interchangeable lenses

Art Filter

With 16 Art Filter options, you can capture creative photos with simple controls. Use the new Fine Tune option to adjust the level of Art Filter effects while checking the results on the screen to create a photo as you wish.

AP (Advanced Photo) mode

AP mode provides shooting functions that generally require advanced photography techniques with simple operations. Anyone can easily shoot a multi-exposure photo by just overlapping two images in Multi Exposure, and shoot light trails of stars or automobile lamps without the risk of overexposure in Live Composite. Silent mode, which mutes shutter and operation sounds, is now possible in P, A, S and M modes as well as AP mode.

Versatile interchangeable lenses

A versatile lineup of compact, lightweight, high-performance interchangeable lenses are available, including bright, single-focal-length lenses as well as macro lenses to achieve beautiful defocusing effects. You can choose the perfect lens depending on the subject to dramatically expand the possibilities of photographic expression.

A compact, lightweight body with a simple sophisticated design that matches your style

The E-PL10 is available in white, black, and brown. Each details of the colors of leather-feel materials and surface finish are carefully selected for exquisite texturing. This model is designed for a simple, harmonious look that is easy to match with any style. When paired with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 EZ standard kit lens, it is highly portable, and is lighter than a 500 ml bottle of water.

Other Features

1. Supports high image quality 4K video and the ability to extract still images from videos

2. Maximum 8.6 fps high-speed sequential shooting so you never miss a photo opportunity

3. SCN (Scene) mode lets you capture images exactly as you imagine simply by choosing a shooting theme

4. AUTO mode for capturing beautiful photos simply by pressing the shutter release button, and leaving all the necessary adjustment to the camera.

●Separately Available Accessories

Genuine Leather Body Jacket, CS-45B, Genuine Leather Shoulder Strap, CSS-S109LL II, and Genuine Leather Lens Cover, LC-60.5GL (now on sale)

These genuine leather accessories are designed to protect the camera and enhance its design. Available in white, black, brown, and light brown, so they are easy to match with any style.

Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:00 am

Olympus has announced the OM-D E-M5 Mark III - a more compact camera than its predecessor, which incorporates a lot of technology found previously in the higher-end E-M1 Mark II.

In order to reduce the volume of the camera, Olympus miniaturized several components, most notably the image stabilizer. Despite being smaller, the camera can still reduce shake by up to 5.5 stops on its own, and 6.5 stops with a compatible lens: both of which are a half-stop better than on its predecessor. Olympus also switched to a more compact battery, the BLS-50, while maintaining the same stated battery life numbers as the old BLS-1.

Aside from being smaller, the design of the Mark III isn't far off from that of its predecessor, with the major changes being adjustments to the top plate, improved weather-sealing (the camera is now IPX1-rated) and a new EVF. The Mark III's EVF is smaller than on the Mark II, with a magnification of 0.68x equiv. versus 0.74x, though it is OLED rather than LCD, promising a more lifelike, higher-contrast view.

From a technological perspective, the E-M5 III is basically a mini E-M1 II. It uses the same 20MP Four Thirds sensor and 121-point phase + contrast detection AF system, and includes features like a 50MP high-res shot mode, 30 fps burst shooting (10 fps with continuous AF), an anti-flicker mode and UHD/DCI 4K capture. The Mark III also gains additional Art Filters and Bluetooth.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark III will be available in late November in your choice of black and silver bodies. The body is priced at $1199, while adding the 14-150mm F4-5.6 II lens brings the cost up to $1799. A battery grip, the ECG-5, features a shutter release and control dial and will sell for $169.

Read our initial review of the E-M5 III

Press Release

NEW OLYMPUS OM-D® E-M5 MARK III EMPOWERS YOU TO BREAK FREE FROM HEAVY GEAR

A Compact, Lightweight Interchangeable Lens Camera Packed with Advanced Functions Derived from Professional OM-D Models

CENTER VALLEY, Pa., October 17, 2019 —Today, Olympus announces the newest addition to its OM- D lineup, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Featuring much of the cutting-edge technology found in the OM-D E-M1 Mark II professional model, this compact, lightweight, weather-sealed camera1 includes a 20 megapixel Live MOS sensor, powerful 5-Axis in-body Image Stabilization with up to 5.5 EV steps of compensation (6.5 EV steps with Sync IS), 30 frames per second sequential shooting, high speed and high precision autofocus capabilities using 121-point all cross-type on-chip phase detection AF, as well as versatile shooting features such as Live Composite and Focus Stacking and advanced features such as Cinema 4K Video and Pro Capture, all packed into a powerfully, portable body. Paired with the superior resolution of Olympus M.Zuiko® lenses, this weather-sealed system is the ultimate travel companion for the on-the-go photography enthusiasts.

Compact, Lightweight, weather-sealed System

Many components of the E-M5 Mark III, including the image stabilization unit, have been miniaturized in an effort to deliver the smallest body possible. Dramatic improvements in power-saving performance make it possible to use the more compact BLS-50 battery to enhance the lightweight, compact design. The compact system size means that users can shoot for long periods of time in locations where tripods cannot be used ensuring no missed photo opportunities. Experience complete system mobility when pairing the E-M5 Mark III with the diverse lineup of high-resolution, lightweight, interchangeable M.Zuiko lenses.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is equipped with features found in high-end OM-D models, packed in a compact body that is approximately 55% the volume of competitive full-frame mirrorless systems2. It features the highly acclaimed dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof weather-sealed design that Olympus is known for, to allow continuous shooting even in the most severe environmental conditions. The E-M5 Mark III delivers a modern take on the striking, iconic design of the traditional OM system with advanced styling, including a moulded exterior, refined grip and a retooled mode dial. The body also features an updated Custom Mode setting, to recall frequent settings for easy access while shooting. The BLS-50 battery contributes to the compact, lightweight body while offering a power saving design, allowing the same number of shots as its predecessor. The BLS-50 battery captures approximately 310 shots per charge.

Outstanding Image Quality

The OM-D E-M5 Mark III boasts the same 20 Megapixel High-Speed Live MOS Sensor found in the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, offering superior performance, exceptional clarity and speed in all aspects of image capture. Maximizing that performance are the TruePicTM VIII image-processing engine and 5-Axis Image Stabilization unit. When paired with high-resolution M.Zuiko Digital lenses, it is capable of capturing images with minimal noise even at high-sensitivity settings, and delivers high image quality with minimal distortion up to the edges of the shot.

The E-M5 Mark III features Anti-flicker Shooting to help suppress the effect of flickering light sources while using both the mechanical and electronic shutter.

High Speed AF Performance

The OM-D E-M5 Mark III is equipped with 121-point all-cross type On-chip Phase Detection AF for precision focusing, even for fast-moving subjects where focus is difficult, or in low light situations, a staple feature in the E-M1 Mark II. Unlike DSLR cameras, there is no degradation in AF precision when using a fast lens. The E-M5 Mark III offers high precision, high-speed focusing from the maximum aperture setting with all M.Zuiko Digital lenses, regardless of subject patterns. The algorithm has been improved over previous models, preventing focus from unexpected jumping to the background, even in mixed perspective scenes with near and far subjects.

Select from six AF target options, including single, 5-point, 9-point, 25-point, 121-point and small. AF/AE tracking supports 10fps high-speed sequential shooting (silent sequential shooting L) and 30fps with focus and exposure locked after the first frame, for capturing subjects with intense movements. The moving subject tracking algorithm utilizes AF information from both Live View images and recorded images to enable quick tracking of unpredictable subject movement and changes in subject speed. Experience superb AF operability while using the touch pad to move the AF frame while tracking a moving subject. Use the Touch Shutter/Touch AF on the LCD screen to select your area of focus within the frame.

Pair the E-M5 Mark III with M.Zuiko Digital lenses for quiet, fast focusing, using an actuator that enables high-speed, high-precision, quiet lens driving. The high-speed, high-precision AF of the E-M5 Mark III brings out the full potential of the superior focusing available with M.Zuiko Digital lenses.

Compact Image Stabilization Unit

The 5-Axis Image Stabilization device, including the actuator, has been redesigned for the E-M5 Mark III in order to deliver a higher level of stabilization in a smaller package, resulting in a smaller and lighter body. Based on camera shake information obtained from the high-sensitivity gyro sensor and image analysis, the TruePicTM VIII image processor precisely controls the image stabilization unit to provide up to 5.5 shutter speed steps of compensation performance, reducing blur caused by camera shake. Increase that to 6.5 shutter speed steps3 with 5-Axis Sync IS when the OM-D E-M5 Mark III is paired with M.Zuiko Digital lenses equipped with in-lens image stabilization4.

OM-D Movie 4K Video Capture

Record high quality, Cinema 4K video with minimal camera shake, even while shooting handheld. The E- M5 Mark III supports C4K 24p, Full HD 30 fps, All-Intra and Full HD 60p. Information from the On-chip Phase Detection AF sensor is used for optimal focusing when recording video. With this, users can record 4K 30P high-definition video. Combining 5-Axis Image Stabilization with electronic stabilization make it possible to record stable video with minimal camera shake. No special stabilization equipment is required, even during active movement.

Olympus Core Competencies

Olympus interchangeable lens camera systems’ biggest benefit is its amazing mobility, thanks to the compact, lightweight nature of the cameras and powerful image stabilization, combined with an entire lineup of high-resolution and high-performance M.Zuiko lenses--resulting in consistently sharp, high-quality photos and video.

Versatile Shooting Features

Long Exposure Shooting

Long exposure shooting is made easier with several amazing features pioneered by Olympus: Live Composite, Live Bulb and Live View. Live Composite creates a single image from multiple shots by compositing (stacking) them together. This mode combines long-exposure with compositing and is incredibly useful and easy-to-use. Applications for Live Composite vary from star trails, Milky Way, auroras, light painting, light trails, fireworks and so much more. Live Bulb allows the photographer to hold the shutter release to begin the exposure and watch the image build on the LCD screen. Simply release the shutter when you feel the image has reached the exposure of your liking. Live View sends a live image feed from the camera’s sensor to the LCD, allowing the user to compose shots from a variety of angles, with the ability to adjust composition, change exposure and white balance using the LCD screen.

Pro Capture

Pro Capture mode makes it possible to record scenes that are difficult to time at a full pixel count of 20M, such as a bird taking flight. From the moment the shutter button is pressed fully, 14 frames are retroactively recorded and retained, making capturing the perfect shot simple. Up to 30 fps high-speed shooting is available in Pro Capture H. RAW recording is also supported.

Focus Bracketing and Focus Stacking

Focus Bracketing can capture up to 999 shots with a single shutter activation while shifting the focal position slightly between each shot. The amount of focal shift can be selected from 10 levels, and recorded images can be combined into one single, evenly exposed image, using Olympus Workspace V1.1 image editing software. It is possible to create a single image with a depth of field that cannot be obtained simply by stopping down the aperture. Because the aperture is not stopped down too far during shooting, this feature also enables high image quality. The camera is also equipped with Focus Stacking, which automatically composites images on the camera. Eight photos with different focal positions are composited on the camera for a photo with a greater depth of field that is in focus from the foreground to the background.

50MP Tripod High Res Shot

Tripod High Res Shot shifts the image sensor in 0.5-pixel increments while capturing eight sequential shots. These shots are then merged into a single 50MP equivalent high-resolution photo. This feature is perfect for landscape shots, product photography in a studio, and other situations that require ultra-high-resolution images.

Other Features

Large, High-Visibility Viewfinder

This model features an approximate 2.36 million-dot, high-contrast OLED panel for vivid colors and an EVF (electronic viewfinder) optical system for minimal distortion to the edges of the screen. Such a design makes framing more accurate so the user can concentrate on shooting. The long eye point makes it easy to check overall framing, even when wearing glasses.

1/8000 Second High-Speed Mechanical Shutter

The E-M5 Mark III features a high-speed mechanical shutter that operates up to 1/8000 second, making it possible to shoot at a wide aperture setting for defocusing effects even when using a large-diameter lens in bright outdoor conditions.

SCN (Scene) Mode

In SCN mode, simply choose one of six themes and select the photo most like the scene you want to capture to activate optimal settings.

Art Filter

Equipped with 16 Art Filter options, you can capture creative photos using simple controls with the E-M5 Mark III. While checking the filter effect on the LCD monitor, you can create images that are uniquely your own.

Easy Wi-Fi® Connection to Smartphones via Bluetooth®

The E-M5 Mark III is equipped with Wi-Fi compatibility. Bluetooth can be used to automatically connect the camera to a smartphone simply by starting up the Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) smartphone app for transferring recorded images to a smartphone via Wi-Fi. By using the Share Order function, selected images on the camera can be quickly and automatically transferred to your smartphone.

Custom Mode

Register your frequently used camera settings to Custom (C on the mode dial) with the E-M5 Mark III. After being registered, simply set the mode dial to C to instantly activate and shoot using saved settings.

USB Charging

USB charging is available on the E-M5 Mark III for charging the battery on the move, when the camera is not in use.

Available Accessories

ECG-5 Dedicated External Grip (New, Sold Separately)

Compatible ECG-5 dedicated external grip for an expanded, sure grip, equipped with a shutter release and control dial.

Electronic Flash, FL-900R (Sold Separately)

This high-power flash with a maximum guide number of 58 synchronizes high-speed sequential shooting5. It has an angle of illumination of 24-200mm6 and 14-20mm7 when used with the wide panel. It features dustproof, splashproof, and freezeproof performance and can be used with the separately sold FR-WR Wireless Receiver for wireless7 flash firing via radio signal. It can also be used to wirelessly fire the bundled flash FL-LM3.

Electronic Flash, FL-700WR (Sold Separately)

This compact, lightweight electronic flash has a maximum guide number of 42. It delivers stable wireless communication even in bright outdoor locations and when used around obstacles and functions as a commander/receiver. Because it features a dustproof, splashproof and freezeproof construction, it can be used in any type of shooting scene. It can also be used to wirelessly fire the bundled flash FL-LM3.

Macro Flash, STF-8 (Sold Separately)

This macro flash is perfect for using the two heads to produce images with a greater sense of three- dimensional space and has a guide number of 8.5 (2 heads) or 6 (1 head). It features a dustproof, splashproof, freezeproof construction for outdoor use and supports the unique Olympus Focus Stacking feature for photos with a greater level of creativity. Lenses compatible with the bundled ring adapter are M.Zuiko Digital ED 30mm F3.5 Macro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro, and M.Zuiko Digital ED 12- 40mm F2.8 PRO.

Large Eyecup, EP-16 (Sold Separately)

This accessory blocks external light making the viewfinder easier to use. By using materials with elastic properties, the eyecup fits all eyes, regardless of whether the user is wearing glasses or not. Support from both the eye area and both arms improve stability for a posture that reduces camera shake.

Remote Cable, RM-CB2 (Sold Separately)

A pin jack-style shutter release cable equipped with a convenient bulb lock for long exposures. The cable is approximately 80 cm long.

Compact Gun Microphone, ME31 (Sold Separately)

A directional gun microphone is useful when recording sounds outdoors such as birds singing. The adoption of machined metal body makes it very sturdy. It can be attached to the hot shoe of the E-M5 Mark III with a commercially available hot shoe mount.

Pricing and Availability

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III will be available in both black and silver in late November. The camera body only will have a suggested retail price of $1,199.99 USD and $1,499.99 CAD and the camera body with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 II lens will have a suggested retail price of $1,799.99 USD and $2,249.99 CAD8.

1) When paired with a weather-sealed lens.
2) As of October 2019 and when large diameter standard zoom lens is attached.
3) M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO at a focal distance of f=100mm (35mm equivalent: f=200mm), halfway release image stabilization: Off, frame rate: high speed. CIPA standards compliant on two axes (Yaw and Pitch).
4) M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO, M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO (as of October 17, 2019)

5) Maximum 10 fps at a flash ratio of 1/32.
6) 35mm equivalent.
7) Electronic Flash FL-700WR or Wireless Commander FC-WR must be attached to the hot shoe of the OM-D E-M5 Mark III.
8) Launch offers may apply.


Olympus OM-D E-M5 III specifications

Price
MSRP$1199 (body only), $1799 (w/14-150mm lens)
Body type
Body typeSLR-style mirrorless
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Sensor
Max resolution5184 x 3888
Image ratio w:h1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels20 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors22 megapixels
Sensor sizeFour Thirds (17.4 x 13 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorTruePic VIII
Color spacesRGB, AdobeRGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Image
ISOAuto, 200-25600, expands to 64-25600
Boosted ISO (minimum)64
White balance presets7
Custom white balanceYes (4 slots)
Image stabilizationSensor-shift
Image stabilization notes5-axis
CIPA image stabilization rating6.5 stop(s)
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuperfine, fine, normal, basic
File format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.31)
  • Raw (Olympus ORF, 14-bit)
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points121
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier2×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3
Screen dots1,040,000
Touch screenYes
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeElectronic
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification1.37× (0.68× 35mm equiv.)
Viewfinder resolution2,360,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed60 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/8000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic)1/32000 sec
Exposure modes
  • iAuto
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
  • Bulb
  • Time
Scene modes
  • Portrait
  • e-Portrait
  • Landscape + Portrait
  • Night + Portrait
  • Children
  • Night scape
  • Sport
  • Hand-held Starlight
  • Fireworks
  • Light trails
  • Sports
  • Panning
  • Landscape
  • Sunset
  • Beach & Snow
  • Backlight HDR
  • Candlelight
  • Silent
  • Macro
  • Nature Macro
  • Documents
  • Multi Focus Shot
Built-in flashNo (Compact external flash included)
External flashYes (via hotshoe)
Flash modesAuto, redeye, fill, off, redeye slow sync, slow sync, 2nd-curtain slow sync, manual
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Sequential (hi/lo)
  • Self-timer
Continuous drive30.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 10 secs, custom)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±5 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes
Videography features
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Modes
  • 4096 x 2160 @ 24p / 237 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 23.98p / 102 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 120p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 52 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 202 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 25p / 202 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 23.98p / 202 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II supported)
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
USB chargingYes
HDMIYes (micro-HDMI)
Microphone portYes
Headphone portNo
WirelessBuilt-In
Wireless notes802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth
Remote controlYes (wired and via smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBLS-50 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)310
Weight (inc. batteries)414 g (0.91 lb / 14.60 oz)
Dimensions125 x 85 x 50 mm (4.92 x 3.35 x 1.97)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPSNone
Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:00 am

We recently joined Olympus in Moab, Utah for some preliminary shooting with the OM-D E-M5 III. That's why you'll find plenty of classic American Southwest scenery among our first sample images taken with the newest Digital OM camera – see for yourself. We threw in a few shots from the Olympia, Washington area for good measure.

See our Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III sample gallery

Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:00 am

Out-of-camera JPEG. Shot this using Olympus's Live Composite function, a handy feature that's long been included in OM-D cameras. LiveComp is enabled from within the 'Bulb' setting on the mode dial.

ISO 800 | 8 sec | F2 | Olympus 12mm F2 | 30 minute composite (cut short by clouds moving in)

The E-M5 III is essentially an E-M1 II in a smaller, 28% lighter package, with the same stills, video and AF capabilities as its bigger sibling. Combined with a modest kit of Olympus's M.Zuiko glass, the Mark III has the potential to be an excellent travel and adventure camera.

Olympus brought a small group of journalists out to Moab, Utah last week to get some initial hands-on field time with the E-M5 III (full disclosure: Lodging, transportation and meals were provided by Olympus). I've long been a fan of the E-M1 II as a travel camera, especially when kitted with the versatile 12-100mm F4 IS Pro for daylight shooting, and a small, fast prime like the 12mm F2 for low light shooting. And I've never stepped foot in the American Southwest, but the prospect of testing an "E-M1 II lite" in this new environment, definitely appealed to me.

The most significant differences between the E-M1 II and E-M5 III is the former offers a better grip and faster shooting, while the E-M5 III offers a lesser footprint and a lesser price tag. Given the amount of hiking we were planning on doing in and around Arches National Park, I was just fine trading some burst speed and grip real estate for less weight.

Our first day was spent touring all the sights in Arches National Park, including 'Park Avenue,' 'Balance Rock,' 'Garden of Eden,' 'North Window,' and 'Turret Arch.' You can see many photos of all of these spots in our sample gallery at the bottom of the page.

At each of these extraordinary locations I took note of the countless people snapping photos; many with smartphones, but plenty more with full-size cameras. How fortunate I felt to have the equivalent of 14mm to 200mm between two lenses (7-14mm F2.8 Pro and 12-100mm F4) without breaking a sweat. I especially felt bad for those carrying around bulky DSLRs with telephoto lenses attached: what a drag that must be in the heat of the desert.

Lens quality, versatility and compact size are huge selling points for Olympus

Lens quality, versatility and compact size are huge selling points for Olympus, as is image stabilization. Other systems have them beat when it comes to resolution, but it's hard to compete with the completeness and compactness of Olympus' Micro Four Thirds system, (especially considering their telephoto lenses). I think this undeterred dedication to a truly light-weight system helps set Olympus apart from just about everyone else. And I think it makes a lot of sense for them to capitalize on this compactness by releasing a slimmed down E-M5.

Out-of-camera JPEG. Olympus' black and white JPEG profile is a personal favorite.

ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F5.6 | Olympus 12-100mm F4 IS Pro @ 17mm

In addition to my desire to keep the gear load light while traveling, I'm also the kind of person that likes to share lots of photos along the way. Sure, I'll likely make some Raw conversions when I get home, but I definitely value cameras that make it painless to send files to my smartphone. And even though I signed an NDA agreement barring me from sharing anything during the trip, Olympus's Image Share app is pretty simple to pair and use.

I also appreciate cameras with appealing JPEG profile settings. With the E-M5 III, I found the default "Natural" Picture Mode a tad flat and "Vivid" a tad too punchy - in both cases I was able to adjust contrast, saturation and sharpening to my liking via the 'Super Control Panel'. Olympus's 'Monochrome' mode in particular suits my tastes nicely, especially when the 'Gradation' is set to "High Key" for an even more dramatic effect.

After a full day in the park and a hearty dinner, we wrapped up our evening capturing star trails at Balance Rock. Sadly, incoming clouds cut short our time to test out the camera's Live Composite feature: a fun and easy way to capture star trails. The image at the top of the page is an 8 sec exposure, with a 30 minute composite of the sky.

Out-of-camera JPEG. Shot using the high-res mode on a tripod.

ISO 200 | 1/320 sec | F5.6 | Olympus 12-100mm F4 IS Pro @ 18mm

Our next day began with a sunrise shoot from Dead Horse Point, looking out toward Canyonlands National Park. My bones are still cold just looking at the image above. The location was perched high up over the dessert floor with winds lashing us. With my E-M5 III on a Manfrotto BeFree tripod, I feared a gust would take the entire light-weight rig over the edge. I didn't want to have to explain that to the Olympus representatives, so I held on to the camera strap at all times, just to be safe.

Unlike some of my fellow journalists who likely needed finger amputations after this shoot, I brought a pair of gloves. Unfortunately the camera's small control points made it especially tough to operate. Seeing as I was shooting a stationary scene on a tripod, I opted to use the camera's 'High Res' shot mode: it's easy enough to access via a click of the drive button and a turn of the control wheel. Those actions I was able to complete with a glove on, but when I realized setting a shutter delay for this mode would require a deep dive into the menus, I cried just a little.

Ultimately, I think cold hands were worth getting the shot. And I look forward to pulling the above Raw file into Adobe Camera Raw and punching up the saturation a bit when support becomes available.

Out-of-camera JPEG. This was not my first rodeo.

ISO 250 | 1/2500 sec | F3.2 | Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro @ 150mm

After our morning shoot, a hot breakfast and a very long hot shower, we headed up the Colorado River toward Red Cliff Lodge Ranch, the site of many a famous John Wayne movie. Here we got to put the camera's autofocus, burst speed and dust-sealing to the test.

The fastest burst with continuous AF on the E-M5 III is 10 fps using the e-shutter (6 fps with the mechanical), compared to an 18 fps max burst on the EM1 II (also e-shutter). Despite being spoiled by the faster burst speeds of its sibling, 10 fps proved plenty fast enough for capturing cowboys wrangling cattle. And the camera's buffer depth and clearing speed also proved ample for my needs, even when shooting Raw+JPEG.

The E-M5 III's 121-point PDAF system is a huge improvement over the older CDAF system

The E-M5 II shares the same 121-point PDAF system as the flagship E-M1 II, a huge improvement over the previous model's 81-point CDAF system. Most of my action shots were made using the camera's 'C-AF+Tracking' setting which seemed to do a good job sticking to my chosen subject. A quick look through the bursts suggests a solid, though not class-leading, hit rate when using tracking in good light. Considering the random movement of my subject, heavy shadow and dust-filled environment, I was pretty pleased with the number of keepers.

Raw file converted in-camera with adjustments made to the exposure.

ISO 125 | 1/2000 sec | F5.6 | Olympus 40-150mm F2.8 Pro @ 40mm

I did struggle to follow the action occasionally - even with the EVF brightness maxed out to +2 and the camera pressed firmly to my glasses, the bright sun seemed to leak in. The EVF refresh rate is also locked at 60 fps, compared to 120 fps on the E-M1 II and the difference between the two is noticeable when trying to follow fast action. Still, despite my struggles seeing through the finder, I managed as best I could to get the shots. That is, until the dust clouds started getting kicked up, at which point I relied more on the LCD to frame.

By the end of the shoot my camera was absolutely covered in dust. I'd managed to keep the lens, EVF and LCD clean by blasting them with a rocket air duster every minute or so. I'd also been careful when changing lenses and followed sound advise to flip the power switch every so often to engage the supersonice sensor cleaning. Still, looking down at my black boots, now a shade of newspaper grey, I was worried some dust had still made its way to my sensor. But it didn't.

Of course sensor cleanliness isn't everything, dust and dirt can cause damage anywhere they get into a lens or body. Fortunately Olympus weather and dust sealing tends to be second-to-none, and the E-M5 III's IPX1 rating is the same as its biggest of siblings, the E-M1X, making it one of the few cameras to be tested to industry standard levels.

Out-of-camera JPEG. I preferred manually using an AF point over relying on Olympus' Face+Eye detect.

ISO 200 | 1/800 sec | F4 | Olympus 12-100mm F4 IS Pro @ 44mm

With the rodeo winding down and our cowboys at rest, I decided to flip on 'face+eye detect' and shoot some portraits. But I quickly realized Olympus' version of this handy feature, which they were the first brand to introduce, seemed less precise than what I've become accustomed to on other cameras. But of course, more testing is needed to confirm this. Still, I ultimately decided to rely on a single point instead.

The camera's touchscreen proved a tad unresponsive as an AF touchpad

There's no AF joystick on the E-M5 III so you either need to rely on the four-way controller to move your AF point/area or enable touchpad AF from within the menus. I prefer the latter method of dragging my finger on the screen with my eye to the finder to set my point placement. Unfortunately, the camera's touchscreen proved a tad unresponsive, not always activating when I touched it.

We soon departed the ranch for a few more scenic shoots before calling it a day. I used our time in the bus to juice up the E-M5 III's battery (via USB and a power pack), which was still near half charged, even after a full day of shots.

Out-of-camera JPEG.

ISO 80 | 1/8000 sec | F1.2 | Olympus 25mm F1.2 Pro

As I reflected on the last 48 hours of both scenic and high-speed shoots, I pondered the question, 'Would I recommend this to a friend for this sort of travel adventure?' The answer is most certainly yes. The E-M5 III offers good image quality (class-leading among its direct peers), reliable autofocus, high quality/stabilized 4K video capture, excellent protection from the elements and a huge system of high quality, compact zoom lenses. It's also got a lot of useful creative features, like LiveBulb/LiveTime and high-res mode.

Ultimately, my time spent in and around Moab, Utah left me with a strong desire to return to the area as soon as possible. I dream of driving my tiny Toyota Corolla through the entrance of Arches, friends in every seat, all of us taken aback by the enormousness of everything we see. Everything, that is, except the camera I choose to bring - it will very possibly be an Olympus.


Sample gallery

Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:00 am
Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is a 20MP Micro Four Thirds camera aimed at enthusiast photographers. It features the same sensor, AF system and 4K-video capture as the flagship E-M1 II and E-M1 X, in a considerably smaller, lighter package.

It's the first in the E-M5 line to offer on-sensor phase detect autofocus, which includes both face and eye detection modes. The updated AF system is complemented by a 10 fps max burst rate in AF-C. The camera also gets a new image stabilization system, an updated EVF and some small ergonomic improvements.

Key takeaways

  • 20MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 121-point hybrid autofocus system
  • 50MP high-res shot mode
  • 10 fps burst shooting with AF-C
  • Cinema (DCI) and UHD 4K video
  • Up 6.5EV of image stabilization (CIPA-rating) with supported lenses
  • 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder with 60 fps refresh rate
  • Extensive direct controls and articulating touchscreen
  • Weather-sealed body
  • In-camera USB charging
  • 1/8000 sec mechanical shutter speed

The E-M5 III will be available at the end of November for a body-only price of $1,199.99, CAN $1,499.99 in either black or silver. It will also be available kitted with the weather-sealed Olympus 14-150mm F4-5.6 II for $1,799.99, CAN $2,249.99.


What's new and how it compares

The E-M5 III is Olympus's smallest, lightest 20MP camera. Here's what else is new and how it stacks up against its peers.

Read more

Body and controls

The rear of the E-M5 III is largely unchanged, but some significant changes have been made to both the camera's top plate and the EVF.

Read more

Shooting experience

Photo editor Dan Bracaglia spent 48 hours shooting in the deserts of Southern, Utah, E-M5 III in hand.

Read more

Sample gallery

Curious what kind of files the E-M5 III produces? Have a look at our vast sample gallery.

Read more

Posted: October 17, 2019, 6:00 am

Google yesterday announced the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, updates to the popular line of Pixel smartphones.

We had the opportunity recently to sit down with Marc Levoy, Distinguished Engineer and Computational Photography Lead at Google, and Isaac Reynolds, Product Manager for Camera on Pixel, to dive deep into the imaging improvements brought to the lineup by the Pixel 4.

Table of contents:

Note that we do not yet have access to a production-quality Pixel 4. As such, many of the sample images in this article were provided by Google.

More zoom

The Pixel 4 features a main camera module with a 27mm equivalent F1.7 lens, employing a 12MP 1/2.55" type CMOS sensor. New is a second 'zoomed-in' camera module with a 48mm equivalent, F2.4 lens paired with a slightly smaller 16MP sensor. Both modules are optically stabilized. Google tells us the net result is 1x-3x zoom that is on par with a true 1x-3x optical zoom, and pleasing results all the way out to 4x-6x magnification factors. No doubt the extra resolution of the zoomed-in unit helps with those higher zoom ratios.

Have a look at what the combination of two lenses and super-res zoom gets you with these 1x to 8x full-resolution samples from Google.

Marc emphasized that pinching and zooming to pre-compose your zoomed-in shot is far better than cropping after the fact. I'm speculating here, but I imagine much of this has to do with the ability of super-resolution techniques to generate imagery of higher resolution than any one frame. A 1x super-res zoom image (which you get by shooting 1x Night Sight) still only generates a 12MP image; cropping and upscaling from there is unlikely to get you as good results as feeding crops to the super-res pipeline for it to align and assemble on a higher resolution grid before it outputs a 12MP final image.

We're told that Google is not using the 'field-of-view fusion' technique Huawei uses on its latest phones where, for example, a 3x photo gets its central region from the 5x unit and its peripheries from upscaling (using super-resolution) the 1x capture. But given Google's choice of lenses, its decision makes sense: from our own testing with the Pixel 3, super-res zoom is more than capable of handling zoom factors between 1x and 1.8x, the latter being the magnification factor of Google's zoomed-in lens.

Dual exposure controls with 'Live HDR+'

The results of HDR+, the burst mode multi-frame averaging and tonemapping behind every photograph on Pixel devices, are compelling, retaining details in brights and darks in, usually, a pleasing, believable manner. But it's computationally intensive to show the end result in the 'viewfinder' in real-time as you're composing. This year, Google has opted to use machine learning to approximate HDR+ results in real-time, leading to a much better viewfinder experience.1 Google calls this 'Live HDR+'. It's essentially a WYSIWYG implementation that should give photographers more confidence in the end result, and possibly feel less of a need to adjust the overall exposure manually.

"If we have an intrinsically HDR camera, we should have HDR controls for it" - Marc Levoy

On the other hand, if you do have an approximate live view of the HDR+ result, wouldn't it be nice if you could adjust it in real-time? That's exactly what the new 'dual exposure controls' allow for. Tap on the screen to bring up two separate exposure sliders. The brightness slider, indicated by a white circle with a sun icon, adjusts the overall exposure, and therefore brightness, of the image. The shadows slider essentially adjusts the tonemap, so you can adjust shadow and midtone visibility and detail to suit your taste.

Default HDR+ result Brightness slider (top left) lowered to darken overall exposure
Shadows slider (top center) lowered to create silhouettes Final result

Dual exposure controls are a clever way to operate an 'HDR' camera, as it allows the user to adjust both the overall exposure and the final tonemap in one or two swift steps. Sometimes HDR and tonemapping algorithms can go a bit far (as in this iPhone XS example here), and in such situations photographers will appreciate having some control placed back in their hands.

And while you might think this may be easy to do after-the-fact, we've often found it quite difficult to use the simple editing tools on smartphones to push down the shadows we want darkened after tonemapping has already brightened them. There's a simple reason for that: the 'shadows' or 'blacks' sliders in photo editing tools may or may not target the same range of tones the tonemapping algorithms did when initially processing the photo.

Improved Night Sight

Google's Night Sight is widely regarded as an industry benchmark. We consistently talk about its use not just for low light photography, but for all types of photography because of its use of a super-resolution pipeline to yield higher resolution results with less aliasing and moire artifacts. Night Sight is what allowed the Pixel 3 to catch up to 1"-type and four-thirds image quality, both in terms of detail and noise performance in low light, as you can see here (all cameras shot with equivalent focal plane exposure). So how could Google improve on that?

Well, let's start with the observation that some reviewers of the new iPhone 11 remarked that its night mode had surpassed the Pixel 3's. While that's not entirely true, as I covered in my in-depth look at the respective night modes, we have found that at very low light levels the Pixel 3 does fall behind. And it mostly has to do with the limits: handheld exposures per-frame in our shooting with the Pixel 3 were limited to ~1/3s to minimize blur caused by handshake. Meanwhile, the tripod-based mode only allowed shutter speeds up to 1s. Handheld and tripod-based shots were limited to 15 and 6 total frames, respectively, to avoid user fatigue. That meant the longest exposures you could ever take were limited to 5-6s.

Pixel 4 extends the per-frame exposure, when no motion is detected, to at least 16 seconds and up to 15 frames. That's a total of 4 minutes of exposure. Which is what allows the Pixel 4 to capture the Milky Way:

Remarkable is the lack of user input: just set the phone up against a rock to stabilize it, and press one button. That's it. It's important to note you couldn't get this result with one long exposure, either with the Pixel phone or a dedicated camera, because it would result in star trails. So how does the Pixel 4 get around this limitation?

The same technique that enables high quality imagery from a small sensor: burst photography. First, the camera picks a shutter speed short enough to ensure no star trails. Next, it takes many frames at this shutter speed and aligns them. Since alignment is tile-based, it can handle the moving stars due to the rotation of the sky just as the standard HDR+ algorithm handles motion in scenes. Normally, such alignment is very tricky for photographers shooting night skies with non-celestial, static objects in the frame, since aligning the stars would cause misalignment in the foreground static objects, and vice versa.

Improved Night Sight will not only benefit starry skyscapes, but all types of photography requiring long exposures

But Google's robust tile-based merge can handle displacement of objects from frame to frame of up to ~8% in the frame2. Think of it as tile-based alignment where each frame is broken up into roughly 12,000 tiles, with each tile individually aligned to the base frame. That's why the Pixel 4 has no trouble treating stars in the sky differently from static foreground objects.

Another issue with such long total exposures is hot pixels. These pixels can become 'stuck' at high luminance values as exposure times increase. The new Night Sight uses clever algorithms to emulate hot pixel suppression, to ensure you don't have bright pixels scattered throughout your dark sky shot.

DSLR-like bokeh

This is potentially a big deal, and perhaps underplayed, but the Google Pixel 4 will render bokeh, particularly out-of-focus highlights, closer to what we'd expect from traditional cameras and optics. Until now, while Pixel phones did render proper disc-shaped blur for out of focus areas as real lenses do (as opposed to a simple Gaussian blur), blurred backgrounds simply didn't have the impact they tend to have with traditional cameras, where out-of-focus highlights pop out of the image in gorgeous, bright, disc-shaped circles as they do in these comparative iPhone 11 examples here and also here.

The new bokeh rendition on the Pixel 4 takes things a step closer to traditional optics, while avoiding the 'cheap' technique some of its competitors use where bright circular discs are simply 'stamped' in to the image (compare the inconsistently 'stamped' bokeh balls in this Samsung S10+ image here next to the un-stamped, more accurate Pixel 3 image here). Have a look below at the improvements over the Pixel 3; internal comparisons graciously provided to me via Google.

Pixel 4

Daytime bokeh

Pixel 3

Daytime bokeh

Pixel 4

Nighttime bokeh

Pixel 3

Nighttime bokeh

The impactful, bright, disc-shaped bokeh of out-of-focus highlights are due to the processing of the blur at a Raw level, where linearity ensures that Google's algorithms know just how bright those out-of-focus highlights are relative to their surroundings.

Previously, applying the blur to 8-bit tonemapped images resulted in less pronounced out-of-focus highlights, since HDR tonemapping usually compresses the difference in luminosity between these bright highlights and other tones in the scene. That meant that out-of-focus 'bokeh balls' weren't as bright or separated from the rest of the scene as they would be with traditional cameras. But Google's new approach of applying the blur at the Raw stage allows it to more realistically approximate what happens optically with conventional optics.

One thing I wonder about: if the blur is applied at the Raw stage, will we get Raw portrait mode images in a software update down-the-line?

Portrait mode improvements

Portrait mode has been improved in other ways apart from simply better bokeh, as outlined above. But before we begin I want to clarify something up front: the term 'fake bokeh' as our readers and many reviewers like to call blur modes on recent phones is not accurate. The best computational imaging devices, from smartphones to Lytro cameras (remember them?), can actually simulate blur true to what you'd expect from traditional optical devices. Just look at the gradual blur in this Pixel 2 shot here. The Pixel phones (and iPhones as well as other phones) generate actual depth maps, gradually blurring objects from near to far. This isn't a simple case of 'if area detected as background, add blurriness'.

The Google Pixel 3 generated a depth map from its split photodiodes with a ~1mm stereo disparity, and augmented it using machine learning. Google trained a neural network using depth maps generated by its dual pixel array (stereo disparity only) as input, and 'ground truth' results generated by a 'franken-rig' that used 5 Pixel cameras to create more accurate depth maps than simple split pixels, or even two cameras, could. That allowed Google's Portrait mode to understand depth cues from things like defocus cues (out-of-focus objects are probably further away than in-focus ones) and semantic cues (smaller objects are probably further away than larger ones).

Deriving stereo disparity from two perpendicular baselines affords the Pixel 4 much more accurate depth maps

The Pixel 4's additional zoomed-in lens now gives Google more stereo data to work with, and Google has been clever in its arrangement: if you're holding the phone upright, the two lenses give you horizontal (left-right) stereo disparity, while the split pixels on the main camera sensor give you vertical (up-down) stereo disparity. Having stereo data along two perpendicular axes avoids artifacts related to the 'aperture problem', where detail along the axis of stereo disparity essentially has no measured disparity.

Try this: look at a horizontal object in front of you and blink to switch between your left and right eye. The object doesn't look very different as you switch eyes, does it? Now hold out your index finger, pointing up, in front of you, and do the same experiment. You'll see your finger moving dramatically left and right as you switch eyes.

Deriving stereo disparity from two perpendicular baselines affords the Pixel 4 much more accurate depth maps, with the dual cameras providing disparity information that the split pixels might miss, and vice versa. In the example below, provided by Google, the Pixel 4 result is far more believable than the Pixel 3 result, which has parts of the upper and lower green stem, and the horizontally-oriented green leaf near bottom right, accidentally blurred despite falling within the plane of focus.

Pixel 4

(dual baseline)

Pixel 3

(single baseline)

The combination of two baselines, one short (split pixels) and one significantly longer (the two lenses) also has other benefits. The longer stereo baselines of dual camera setups can run into the problem of occlusion: since the two perspectives are considerably different, one lens may see a background object that to the other lens is hidden behind a foreground object. The shorter 1mm disparity of the dual pixel sensor means its less prone to errors due to occlusion.

On the other hand, the short disparity of the split pixels means that further away objects that are not quite at infinity appear the same to 'left-looking' and 'right-looking' (or up/down) photodiodes. The longer baseline of the dual cameras means that stereo disparity can be calculated for these further away objects, which allows the Pixel 4's portrait mode to better deal with distant subjects, or groups of people shot from further back, as you can see below.

Pixel 4

Pixel 3

There's yet another benefit of the two separate methods for calculating stereo disparity: macro photography. If you've shot portrait mode on telephoto units of other smartphones, you've probably run into error messages like 'Move farther away'. That's because these telephoto lenses tend to have a minimum focus distance of ~20cm. Meanwhile, the minimum focus distance of the main camera on the Pixel 4 is only 10cm. That means that for close-up photography, the Pixel 4 can simply use its split pixels and learning-based approach to blur backgrounds.3

One thing we'll be curious to test is if the additional burden of taking two images with the dual camera setup will lead to any latency. The iPhone 11, for example, has considerable shutter lag in portrait mode.

Google continues to keep a range of planes in perfect focus, which can sometimes lead to odd results where multiple people in a scene remain focused despite being at different depths. However, this approach avoids prematurely blurring parts of people that shouldn't be blurred, a common problem with iPhones.

Oddly, portrait mode is unavailable with the zoomed-in lens, instead opting to use the same 1.5x crop from the main camera that the Pixel 3 used. This means images will have less detail compared to some competitors, especially since the super-res zoom pipeline is still not used in portrait mode. It also means you don't get the versatility of both wide-angle and telephoto portrait shots. And if there's one thing you probably know about me, it's that I love my wide angle portraits!

Pixel 4's portrait mode continues to use a 1.5x crop from the main camera. This means that, like the Pixel 3, it will have considerably less detail than portrait modes from competitors like the iPhone 11 Pro that use the full-resolution image from wide or tele modules. Click to view at 100%

Further improvements

There are a few more updates to note.

Learning-based AWB

The learning-based white balance that debuted in Night Sight is now the default auto white balance (AWB) algorithm in all camera modes on the Pixel 4. What is learning-based white balance? Google trained its traditional AWB algorithm to discriminate between poorly, and properly, white balanced images. The company did this by hand-correcting images captured using the traditional AWB algorithm, and then using these corrected images to train the algorithm to suggest appropriate color shifts to achieve a more neutral output.

Google tells us that the latest iteration of the algorithm is improved in a number of ways. A larger training data set has been used to yield better results in low light and adversarial lighting conditions. The new AWB algorithm is better at recognizing specific, common illuminants and adjusting for them, and also yields better results under artificial lights of one dominant color. We've been impressed with white balance results in Night Sight on the Pixel 3, and are glad to see it ported over to all camera modes. See below how Google's learning-based AWB (top left) preserves both blue and red/orange tones in the sky compared to its traditional AWB (top right), and how much better it is at separating complex sunset colors (bottom left) compared to the iPhone XS (bottom right).

Learning-based AWB (Pixel 3 Night Sight) Traditional AWB (Pixel 3)
Learning-based AWB (Pixel 3 Night Sight) iPhone XS HDR result

New face detector

A new face detection algorithm based solely on machine learning is now used to detect, focus, and expose for faces in the scene. The new face detector is more robust at identifying faces in challenging lighting conditions. This should help the Pixel 4 better focus on and expose for, for example, strongly backlit faces. The Pixel 3 would often prioritize exposure for highlights and underexpose faces in backlit conditions.

Though tonemapping would brighten the face properly in post-processing, the shorter exposure would mean more noise in shadows and midtones, which after noise reduction could lead to smeared, blurry results. In the example below the Pixel 3 used an exposure time of 1/300s while the iPhone 11 yielded more detailed results due to its use of an exposure more appropriate for the subject (1/60s).

Pixel 3

iPhone 11 Pro

Along with the new face detector, the Pixel 4 will (finally) indicate the face it's focusing on in the 'viewfinder' as you compose. In the past, Pixel phones would simply show a circle in the center of the screen every time it refocused, which was a very confusing experience that left users wondering whether the camera was in fact focusing on a face in the scene, or simply on the center. Indicating the face its focusing on should allow Pixel 4 users to worry less, and feel less of a need to tap on a face in the scene if the camera's already indicating it's focusing on it.

On previous Pixel phones, a circle focus indicator would pop up in the center when the camera refocused, leading to confusion. Is the camera focusing on the face, or the outstretched hand? On the Huawei P20, the camera indicates when it's tracking a face. The Pixel 4 will have a similar visual indicator.

Semantic segmentation

This isn't new, but in his keynote Marc mentioned 'semantic segmentation' which, like the iPhone, allows image processing to treat different portions of the scene differently. It's been around for years in fact, allowing Pixel phones to brighten faces ('synthetic fill flash'), or to better separate foregrounds and backgrounds in Portrait mode shots. I'd personally point out that Google takes a more conservative approach in its implementation: faces aren't brightened or treated differently as much as they tend to be with the iPhone 11. The end result is a matter of personal taste.

Conclusion

The questions on the minds of many of our readers will undoubtedly be: (1) what is the best smartphone for photography I can buy, and (2) when should I consider using such a device as opposed to my dedicated camera?

We have much testing to do and many side-by-sides to come. But from our tests thus far and our recent iPhone 11 vs. Pixel 3 Night Sight article, one thing is clear: in most situations the Pixel cameras are capable of a level of image quality unsurpassed by any other smartphone when you compare images at the pixel (no pun intended) level.

But other devices are catching up, or exceeding Pixel phone capabilities. Huawei's field-of-view fusion offers compelling image quality across multiple zoom ratios thanks to its fusion of image data from multiple lenses. iPhones offer a wide-angle portrait mode far more suited for the types of photography casual users engage in, with better image quality to boot than Pixel's (cropped) Portrait mode.

The Pixel 4 takes an already great camera and refines it to achieve results closer to, and in some cases surpassing, traditional cameras and optics

Overall though, Google Pixel phones deliver some of the best image quality we've seen from a mobile device. No other phone can compete with its Raw results, since Raws are a result of a burst of images stacked using Google's robust align-and-merge algorithm. Night Sight is now improved to allow for superior results with static scenes demanding long exposures. And Portrait mode is vastly improved thanks to dual baselines and machine learning, with fewer depth map errors and better ability to 'cut around' complex objects like pet fur or loose hair strands. And pleasing out-of-focus highlights thanks to 'DSLR-like bokeh'. AWB is improved, and a new learning-based face detector should improve focus and exposure of faces under challenging lighting.

It's not going to replace your dedicated camera in all situations, but in many it might. The Pixel 4 takes an already great camera in the Pixel 3, and refines it further to achieve results closer to, and in some cases surpassing, traditional cameras and optics. Stay tuned for more thorough tests once we get a unit in our hands.

Finally, have a watch of Marc Levoy's Keynote presentation yesterday below. And if you haven't already, watch his lectures on digital photography or visit his course website from the digital photography class he taught while at Stanford. There's a wealth of information on digital imaging in those talks, and Marc has a knack for distilling complex topics into elegantly simple terms.


Footnotes:

1 The Pixel 3's dim display combined with the dark shadows of a non-HDR preview often made the experience of shooting high contrast scenes outdoors lackluster, sometimes even making it difficult to compose. Live HDR+ should dramatically improve the experience, though the display remains relatively dim compared to the iPhone 11 Pro.

2 The original paper on HDR+ by Hasinoff and Levoy claims HDR+ can handle displacements of up to 169 pixels within a single raw color channel image. For a 12MP 4:3 Bayer sensor, that's 169 pixels of a 2000 pixel wide (3MP) image, which amounts to ~8.5%. Furthermore, tile-based alignment is performed using as small as 16x16 pixel blocks of that single raw channel image. That amounts to ~12,000 effective tiles that can be individually aligned.

3 The iPhone 11's wide angle portrait mode also allows you to get closer to subjects, since its ultra-wide and wide cameras can focus on nearer subjects than its telephoto lens.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 9:38 pm

Zhiyun, a leading gimbal manufacturer, announced the WEEBILL-S 3-axis gimbal earlier this week. Designed for mainstream mirrorless and DSLR cameras plus lens combos, the new gimbal offers ultra-low latency image transmission in 1080p with a brand new TransMount Image Transmission Module while ViaTouch 2.0 allows your smartphone to function as a professional monitor and multi-functional remote controller.

The latest iteration of the WEEBILL-S has a 300% upgraded power torque motor along with a 50% increase in responsiveness. It’s compatible with multiple camera/lens combos, including Sony’s A7 III+FE 24-70mm F2.8 or the Canon 5D Mark IV+EF 24-70mm F2.8. A unique ergonomic sling mode lets operators easily switch between high and low angle shots using the TransMount quick setup kit. The 8th version of the Instune algorithm enables the gimbal to automatically recognize the weight and selects the perfect motor strength for the best shooting accuracy.

The all-new image transmission module enables a maximum of 1080p / 30p streaming, 100-meter image transmission featuring LUT, pseudo coloring, focus peak, and zebra adjustment for professional monitoring and livestream publishing. The TransMount image transmission module allows you to add 3 devices to the stabilizer - a smartphone, tablet, or professional monitor. Interchangeable batteries enable you to run the device for 14 hours straight. You can charge your camera in real-time which comes in handy for day-long shoots. Other features include:

  • ViaTouch 2.0 which creates a seamless connection between smartphone and camera.
  • SmartFollow 2.0. enables you to select a point of interest from the ViaTouch 2.0 interface and the camera will follow its movement with ultra-low latency and a cinematic experience.
  • The all-new motion sensor control system, Sync Motion, gives you the advantage of controlling the stabilizer’s direction with a smartphone and an ultra-high responsive speed gives you an immersive filmmaking experience.
  • WEEBILL-S supports electronic focus and mechanical focus/zoom control with a control wheel on the grip, to realize a fast and accurate focus or zoom when shooting. Using the servo focus/zoom motor, users can control the zoom and focus for a more professional filmmaking experience.

The WEEBILL-S is available to order starting at $439. The Zoom/Focus Pro package retails at $519 while $679 will get you the Image Transmission Pro package.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 6:50 pm
Jessops' current online storefront

British photo retailer Jessops is looking for administrators to 'help salvage the struggling High Street brand,' according to BBC News.

Serial entrepreneur Peter Jones purchased Jessops from administrators back in 2013 in a joint venture with restructuring company Hilco Capital, after the photo retailer racked up £81M ($104M) in debt and closed more than 187 stores. At the time, Jones said in the below interview with BBC News that Jessops would reopen '30-40' of its stores with the intention of charging the same price in stores as it did online.

After not initially reaching Jones' £80M revenue goal during his first year of ownership (2015), Jessops ended up showing revenue of £80.3M and £95M in 2016 and 2017, respectively. However, recent trade conditions have negatively impacted revenue and as a result the company is reportedly looking for a company voluntary agreement (CVA) with landlords and lenders of the chain's 46 stores, leased under Jessop's retail property firm, JR Prop Limited. As explained by BBC News, CVA 'is an insolvency process that allows a business to reach an agreement with its creditors to pay off all or part of its debts [over an agreed period of time] and is often used as an opportunity to renegotiate rents.'

Dragons' Den star Peter Jones is preparing to call in administrators as he tries to salvage a future for @Jessops. https://t.co/jitAn9HZyG

— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 16, 2019

Sky News has reported store closures and rent cuts are expected, but sources close to Jessops say Jones is still optimistic about the presence of its brick-and-mortar locations, according to BBC News.

Sources close to Jones have also told Sky News that 'Mr Jones had decided that placing JR Prop into insolvency proceedings would provide the most effective means of streamlining Jessops' operations to ensure their survival.'

Jessops was established by Frank Jessops in Leicester, United Kingdom in 1935. Currently, Jessops' headquarters are located in Marlow, United Kingdom.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 6:10 pm

The newly unveiled Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones will not include three years of free 'original quality' Google Photos storage, the company has confirmed. Details about the change were quietly listed on the Google Store's Pixel 4 product page following the company's press event on Tuesday, revealing an elimination of the perk Google has offered since the launch of its original Pixel model.

All Android mobile devices come with free Google Photos storage for images and videos captured with the handset, but there's a catch: the content is compressed from its original quality down to 'high quality.'

The Pixel smartphone line has remained notable among its peers by offering atypically excellent camera quality, particularly in low-light environments. Before the Pixel 4, Google relied on computational photography, not extra lenses, to give its phones an edge. This time around, however, Google has taken steps to remain competitive with Apple by packing more than one camera into its newly unveiled Pixel 4 devices.

Many consumers, particularly photographers who prefer Android over iOS, have anticipated the launch of this phone specifically for its mobile camera capabilities. That makes Google's decision to end its free 'original quality' photo storage particularly baffling. Buyers must either sign up for a paid storage plan or settle for compressed backups.

No 3 free years of unlimited Photos storage in OG quality. Just cleared app data and didn't get any message on it.

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) October 15, 2019

As recently noted by XDA, the Google Store's Pixel 4 page reads, 'Never worry about storing, finding, or sharing your memories thanks to unlimited storage in high quality on Google Photos.' That feature comes with a small disclaimer that states:

Google Photos offers free unlimited online storage for all photos and videos uploaded in high quality. Photos and videos uploaded in high quality may be compressed or resized. Requires Google Account. Data rates may apply.

Google offers multiple cloud storage plans under its Google One subscription, which starts at $1.99/month for 100GB of storage if you pay annually. The Pixel 4 smartphone is available to preorder from the Google Storage now for $799.


Update (October 16, 2019): Corrected pricing of the entry-level Google One subscription plan.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 5:14 pm

Modern camera lenses are durable, but a little anecdote from Steve Boykin, writing for 35mmc, shows just how far weather-sealing has come in the past few years.

Four months ago, in June of this year, Boykin managed to lose his Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR lens while on a hike in the wilderness. This week, he managed to stumble across the lens while out on another trek and after a bit of cleaning up, he says the lens is in seemingly perfect condition, even after withstanding the summer heat, countless thunderstorms and freezing temperatures.

The location where Boykin found the lens

Boykin says he was walking along a path he's walked '30 or 40 times over the last few months' when he looked down and noticed the lens 'sitting on the ground a few inches from my foot.' Naturally, Boykin assumed the lens wouldn't work, due to the harsh conditions it incurred, but after getting home and removing the front B+W filter and rear lens cap, Boykin mounted the lens to his Fujifilm X-Pro1 and 'it came to life like nothing had happened.'

Despite there being some 'slight discoloration' on one side of the lens barrel (likely the side that was laying in the dirt) Boykin says the autofocus works 'like nothing ever happened' and both the aperture and focus rings rotate smoothly. Boykin credits much of the survival to the fact the front filter and rear lens cap were still attached, but even then it's an impressive feat for the lens to survive a third of a year in the desert with essentially zero protection.

To read the full story, which includes a pair of photos captured with the lost lens, head on over to 35mmc (and check out their other coverage on all things film photography related).


Image credits: Photos by Steve Boykin, used with kind permission from 35mmc

Update (October 16, 2019): Updated the first sentence of the article as to better explain the current state of lens weather-sealing.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 3:13 pm

Back in August photographic filter maker Sandmarc launched a line of hybrid polarized ND filters for smartphone cameras. Now the same type of filter has been released for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

Like the smartphone equivalent, the Hybrid Pro filter series combines the filter attributes of neutral density (ND) and polarizers into one single filter. Like a ND filter they help improve dynamic range of a shot in bright light, can help add motion blur to moving objects by allowing for slower shutter speeds, and offer more control over exposure and shutter speeds for film makers. Like a polarizer, they also help reduce reflections, protect highlights and boost color.

Sandmarc's Hybrid Pro filters are made from multi-coated and anti-reflective glass for accurate color transmission. The company says the aluminum frame material makes the filters both durable and lightweight.

A set of filters includes ND16/PL, ND32/PL and ND64/PL variants to cover shooting in a range of light conditions. The filters are available in 58, 67, 77 and 82mm diameters and can be pre-ordered on the Sandmarc website now. Pricing starts at $169.99 for the 58mm version.

Posted: October 16, 2019, 3:05 pm

Our testing of the Canon G7 X III continues, which means we've brought along on plenty of day trips and adventures to get a feel for its performance in a number of situations. Take a look at some of the resulting images while we finish up our testing.

See our updated Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III sample gallery

Posted: October 16, 2019, 1:00 pm

Camera bag manufacturer Shimoda has launched its Kickstarter campaign for the Action X Camera Bags, its latest camera bag series that builds upon Shimoda's Adventure Series. The Action X series includes three backpacks, two updated roller bags and a number of add-on accessories.

Pitched as an 'ultra-aggressive line of camera bags and accessories,' the Action X Series is made to withstand nearly any environment you throw at them while offering plenty of flexibility to fit your needs thanks to the internal Core Units and modular accessories.

Action X Backpacks

The X50 backpack is the mid-sized model that offers 50 liters of internal capacity at its smallest and up to 58 liters when the roll-top section is completely filled.

Starting with the backpacks, Shimoda is offering three sizes: the X30, X50 and X70. These bags offer roughly the internal volume, in liters, of their respective names and offer a roll-top design that can be used to shrink or expand the internal volume as needed.

Rolling the top closed is a fairly straightforward process, but in the event you forget, don't worry—Shimoda included instructions right on the bag.

Like their Adventure Series counterparts, the bags offer a number of features, including height-adjustable and swappable shoulder straps, a 15-inch laptop sleeve on the back panel, dual carrying handles, weatherproof designs and countless straps and attachment points for attaching almost anything to the bag, be it a water bottle, tripod, helmet, skis or even a sleeping bag.

Tucked inside the bag is a 50ºF down-alternative sleeping bag, a single-person hammock and an insulated sleeping pad with a windbreaker jacket underneath it all.

The most noticeable difference between the Adventure Series and Action X Series is the new roll-top design that compresses and expands to your needs. However, there's also a new removable belt and a number of new shoulder strap options, including a trio of female-specific shoulder straps, to ensure the most comfortable fit possible.

This is what the bag looks like folded up with the gear from the previous picture inside.

We were sent a pre-production X50 review unit (with a DSLR Medium Core Unit) to take original photos with for this article and test out before launch. Having spent time with Shimoda's Adventure Series bags in the past, it's clear from our time with the X50 backpack that Shimoda has been hard at work fixing a number of sore spots within its inaugural camera bag lineup.

The Core Unit's side flap now folds neatly into a little slot on the backpack's side access point, which makes it much easier to access a camera kit quickly without removing the bag from your back.

The most notable improvement from our experience with the bag was the updated side access pockets. On the original Adventure Series camera bags, side access was possible, but it seemed like a bit of an afterthought. The Action X Series dramatically improves side access with the V2 Core Units and a clever little slot in the side access panel that now allows the Core Unit to open with the side access panel on the backpack, making it exponentially easier to access a camera or drone without the need to entirely remove the backpack.

The side access is nice, but when you need access to all of your gear, this is how you'll get it.

The roll-top design of the Action X Series also proved to be a nice change of pace from the Adventure Series. Not only does it clear up clutter on the top of the bag compared to the Adventure Series, it was also beneficial when we needed to shrink or expand the internal storage depending on what gear we were carrying with us on a given day.

The shoulder straps attached to our X50 pre-production model were the standard straps. Also available is a padded strap and three different female-specific straps with thoughtful contours and padding location.

We didn't get to test out any of the new female-specific shoulder strap designs or the padded 'Plus' shoulder straps, but just having the option to swap out shoulder straps is a welcomed feature that very few other camera backpacks offer.

Updated Roller Bags

In addition to new backpacks, Shimoda has also launched updated roller bags: the Carry On and a new DV (Digital Video) version. The Carry On is essentially the same as the previous roller Shimoda offered, but improves durability and adds new 100mm wheels, which provide more clearance from the ground and are both smoother and quieter than the first-generation roller bags. The new DV version is identical to its Carry On counterpart, but larger in each dimension to offer more real estate when carrying larger video equipment and/or super telephoto lenses.

Core Units

As with Shimoda's adventure series, the new Action X Camera Bags work alongside Shimoda's Core Units to protect camera gear inside the bag and make it easy to transfer gear from one bag to another or from a backpack to a roller bag. The updated Core Units come in five sizes: Mirrorless Medium, DSLR Medium, DSLR Large, DV Large and DV Extra Large. Shimoda has provided the below graphic to show what bags are compatible with the different Core Unit sizes.

Aside from the new side-access functionality, the V2 Core Units are essentially identical to the first generation units, aside from the addition of two larger sizes.

Accessories

The Top Loader accessory is large enough to carry a camera body and lens or a small drone kit.

In addition to new bags and updated Core Units, Shimoda has also added a few new accessories, including a new Top Loader bag for smaller kits, a 4 Panel Wrap for organizing cables and a Stuff Sack Kit for compressing clothes and other gear.

Wrapping up

Shimoda has already surpassed its $30K goal on Kickstarter. There are countless kit variations available through Kickstarter, but the basic X30 Starter Kit — which includes the backpack, a Medium Mirrorless Core Unit and a Rain Cover — starts at $250. Prices go up from there depending on the size of bag you want and the Core Units and accessories you want alongside the bags.

The first backpacks are expected to ship December 2019 to 'Anywhere in the world.'


Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there’s always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 6:48 pm

The previously launched Meike 85mm F2.8 Macro full-frame and APS-C lens is now available for Nikon Z-mount, the company has announced. As with the Canon RF version that followed the model launched for Canon EF, Sony E/FE and Nikon F, the new Nikon Z-mount variant features 8 groups in 11 elements, an F2.8 - F22 aperture, 0 - 1.5x magnification and 0.25m minimum focusing distance.

Meike describes the lens as ideal for macro and portrait photography, offering a durable all-metal body and moisture and dust resistance, a metal bayonet, multi-layer coating to minimize reflections, manual focus ring, and included lens hood.

The full lens specs are:

  • Lens type: Manual macro lens
  • Mount: Canon-RF/Nikon-Z
  • Aperture: F/2.8-F/22
  • Lens Structure: 8 Groups 11 Elements
  • Coating: Multi-layer coating
  • Min. Focus: 0.25m
  • Magnification: 1.5:1
  • Filter size: 55
  • Length: 120mm (Nikon Z / Canon RF)
  • Weight: 500g
  • Lens angle: 28.2°—15.9°

The Meike 85mm F2.8 macro lens for Nikon Z is now available for $269.99 directly from Meike Global.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 5:58 pm

Third-party remote control camera app for Sony cameras, Camrote, has released a major update that brings new features and improved performance to the latest version of its iOS app.

In addition to general support for Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 13, Camrote version 1.2.0 also adds new wireless functionality for select Sony cameras. Specifically, the update adds support for zooming, 'BULB' time-lapse capture, and a new double-tap gesture to disable all Touch AF points from the app. Wales-based developer Simon Mitchell has also added Spanish localizations and made adjustments to the user interface throughout the app.

It’s here! 👏🏻 Download the 1.2.0 update now ☺️ pic.twitter.com/Q8SHGm3PEQ

— Camrote (@Camrote1) October 14, 2019

Mitchell says Apple Watch support and shooting presets are 'Coming Soon' while other unique focus-stacking, exposure ramping and other features are in the pipeline as well for future updates. No specific list is given for what cameras support what features of the latest update, so it might take a bit of trial and error to ensure it works with your Sony camera system.

To get the latest update, head over to the iOS App Store to download Camrote for free (with in-app purchases available to unlock time-lapse and geotagging functionality). You can keep up with Camrote updates via Twitter.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 5:14 pm

Google officially unveiled the Pixel 4 today, with the addition of a telephoto camera headlining the camera updates. Other improvements include an enhanced live view experience showing the approximated effects of HDR in real time, added controls for adjusting exposure and tone mapping prior to image capture, and an updated portrait mode with better depth mapping thanks to the additional rear camera.

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL offer 5.7" and 6.3" OLED displays respectively, each with a 90Hz variable refresh rate that Google calls 'Smooth Display.' Gone is the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the device, replaced by face unlock. Also new is a technology called Soli, comprising a radar chip that detects hand motions. Called Motion Sense, this feature makes it possible to skip songs and silence calls with a wave of your hand.

As is the case with high-profile phone launches, along with the main specifications the camera updates are also the center of attention (case in point: Annie Leibovitz made an appearance). In addition to the new F2.4, optically stabilized telephoto camera (about 48mm equiv.), Google has introduced improved Super Resolution Zoom for up to 8x digital zoom. In fact, the telephoto camera uses a hybrid of optical and digital zoom at its default zoom setting to achieve approximately 2x zoom.

The process of taking photos has been improved on the Pixel 4 as well. On previous models, the results of Google's impressive HDR rendering could only be seen after capture – now, machine learning is used to approximate the effect in real-time for a much more 'what you see is what you get' experience.

Google Pixel 4 initial samples

Additional exposure controls are also available during image capture. Two new sliders give users direct control of overall scene brightness and rendering of shadows, as compared to the single exposure slider offered by the Pixel 3. Google also says the Pixel 4's camera is more responsive and stable compared to the Pixel 3, thanks to 6GB of RAM at its disposal.

Portrait mode should see significant improvements as well. The mode now uses information from the telephoto camera as well as split pixels to judge subject distance, creating a better depth map than was previously possible only using split pixels. Portrait mode's range has also been extended, making it possible to capture large objects as well as human subjects from farther back than was possible on the Pixel 3.

While the telephoto camera lends depth information, the standard camera with a 1.5x digital zoom is used for the image itself. Background blur is now applied to the Raw image before tone mapping, with the aim of creating more SLR-like bokeh. The updated Portrait mode should also handle human hair and dog fur better, and Google says that its face detection has been improved and should handle backlit subjects better.

All camera modes will benefit from improved, learning-based white balance – previously used only in Night Sight

An astrophotography mode is added to Night Sight, using longer shutter speeds to capture night skies. Additionally, all camera modes will benefit from improved, learning-based white balance – previously used only in Night Sight. Google has also done some white balance tuning for certain light sources.

Google has reduced the number of front-facing cameras from two back down to one. Citing the popularity of the ultra-wide selfie camera, the Pixel 4's single front-facing camera offers a focal length that's a happy medium between the standard and ultra-wide options on the Pixel 3.

Google Pixel 4 pre-orders start today; Pixel 4 starts at $799 and Pixel 4 XL starts at $899. Both will ship on October 24th. It will be available for all major US carriers for the first time, including AT&T.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 3:01 pm

Skylum software has been teasing the release of its Luminar 4 image editing package for quite some time now, we've seen previews of a number of machine-learning tool, including the AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer filters, the AI Sky Replacement filter and the AI Structure filter which selectively enhances textures and detail in images.

Now the company has announced Luminar 4 will be shipping on November 18, 2019. Apart from the tools mentioned above the new version comes with a refreshed user interface and updated workflow. Luminar says the new software will make for a shorter learning process and 'While the software incorporates complex tools, they’re completely customizable and easy to use, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned professional.'

In the user interface filters are now called 'tools' and are organized into six tabs:

  • Tools: Basic tools, including Crop, Transform and Erase.
  • Essentials: Everything for basic Color and Tone Correction.
  • Creative: Photo processing tools for enhancing images creatively, including AI Sky Replacement.
  • Portrait: Tools oriented for processing portraits, including AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer.
  • Pro: More complex tools for advanced photo processing.
  • Deprecated: Tools left for compatibility of presets that have been created within earlier versions of Luminar.

Luminar 4 is available as a standalone application but also works as a plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom Classic and Photoshop Elements, as well as Apple Photos for macOS and Aperture.

The new software will be released on November 18 and set you back $89 for the full version or $69 for an upgrade. If you pre-order before the 18th you get the full version for $10 less and receive a one-year plan to SmugMug as a bonus. More information is available on the Skylum website.

Posted: October 15, 2019, 2:16 pm
Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

The Sony a7R IV is the company's fourth generation, high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera and is built around a BSI-CMOS sensor that outputs 60.2MP images. Relative to previous generations, it promises more robust build quality, refined controls, the company's latest autofocus implementation, and more.

Despite its high resolution, it can shoot at up to 10 frames per second with full autofocus and shoot 4K video either from the full width of its sensor or from an APS-C/Super 35 crop. It also gains a 16-shot high-resolution mode that can be used to generate 240MP images of static scenes.

Key features:

  • 61.2MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor
  • Powerful yet easy-to-use AF tracking system
  • 10 fps burst shooting (JPEG or Compressed Raw from 12-bit readout)
  • 5.76M dot OLED viewfinder
  • 4K video from full sensor width (sub-sampled) or oversampled from roughly-Super35 crops
  • 4 or 16-shot high resolution modes (up to 240MP images for static subjects)
  • S-Log 2, S-Log 3 and 'HLG' video modes (8-bit only)

As well as an increase in resolution, the a7R Mark IV sees an increase in price: at $3499, it's being launched for $300 more than the a7R III was.


What's new and how it compares

The a7R IV comes with a host of refinements both inside and out - here's where to find them.

Read more

Body, handling and controls

From redesigned buttons to a deeper grip, the a7R IV feels substantial without weighing you down.

Read more

Is it right for you?

We look at how the Sony a7R IV stacks up for a variety of types of photography.

Read more

Image quality

See how that 60.2MP sensor stacks up in our in-depth look at image quality here.

Read more

Pixel shift image quality

Sony's Pixel Shift tech allows for up to 240MP files - with some caveats.

Read more

Autofocus and performance

Thanks to an advanced (and really good) autofocus system, the a7R IV is capable of shooting far more than just landscapes.

Read more

Video

The a7R IV churns out impressive 4K image quality with good video autofocus, but has otherwise fallen a bit behind the competition regarding its full video feature set.

Read more

Conclusion

Whether or not you really need the resolution it offers, the a7R IV's capabilities make it an easy camera to recommend.

Read more

Sample gallery

Check out our sample gallery to see what 60MP of resolution could do for your photography.

Read more

Posted: October 15, 2019, 2:06 pm

Many smartphones today take great images in broad daylight. That's no surprise – when there's a lot of light, it doesn't matter so much that the small smartphone sensor doesn't collect as many photons as a larger sensor: there's an abundance of photons to begin with. But smartphone image quality can take a nosedive as light levels drop and there just aren't many photons to collect. That's where computational techniques and burst photography come in.

Low light performance is a huge differentiator that separates the best smartphones from
the worst

Low light performance is a huge differentiator that separates the best smartphones from the worst. And Google's Night Sight has been the low-light king of recent1 releases, thanks to its averaging of many (up to 15) frames, its clever tile-based alignment to deal with hand movement and motion in the scene, and its use of a super-resolution pipeline that yields far better resolution, particularly color resolution, and lower noise than simple frame stacking techniques.

With the iPhone 11, Apple launched its own Night Mode to compete with offerings from Android phones. It uses 'adaptive bracketing' to combine both long and short exposures (to freeze any movement) to build a high quality image in low light conditions. Let's see how it stacks up compared to Google's Night Sight and Apple's own previous generation iPhone XS.

The set-up

'Low light performance' is difficult to sum up in one number or picture when it comes to computational imaging. Different devices take different approaches, which ultimately means that comparative performance across devices can vary significantly with light level. Hence we've chosen to look at how the iPhone 11 performs as light levels decrease from evening light before sunset to very low light conditions well after sunset. The images span an hour-long timeframe, from approximately 500 lux to 5 lux. All shots are handheld, since this is how we expect users to operate their smartphones. The iPhone 11 images spanning this time period are shown below.

7:00 pm, evening light
1/60 | ISO 100
485 lux | 7.6 EV

7:25 pm, late evening light
1/8 | ISO 250
25 lux | 3.4 EV

7:50 pm, low light
1/4 | ISO 640
5 lux | 1 EV
8:05 pm, very low light
1/8 | ISO 1250
<5 lux | <1 EV

Note that Night Mode is only available with the main camera unit, not the 2x or 0.5x cameras (if you see Night Mode triggering in 2x mode, it's dark enough that the iPhone is actually using its main wide camera and cropping in). And before we proceed to our comparisons, please see this footnote about the rollovers and crops that follow: on 'HiDPI' screens like smartphones and higher-end laptops/displays, the following crops are 100%, but on 'standard' displays you'll only see 50% crops.2

Now, on to the comparisons. In the headings, we've labeled the winner.

Evening light (485 lux) | Winner: Google Pixel 3

Before sunset, there's still a good amount of available light. At this light level (485 lux, as measured by the iPhone 11 camera), the option for Night Mode on iPhone 11 is not available. Yet Night Sight on the Google Pixel 3 is available, as it is in all situations. And thanks to its averaging of up to 15 frames and its super-resolution pipeline, it provides far more detail than the iPhone 11.

It's not even close.

Take a look at the detail in the foreground trees and foliage, particularly right behind the fence at the bottom. Or the buildings and their windows up top, which appear far crisper on the Pixel 3.

iPhone 11 (Night Mode unavailable)

Pixel 3 Night Sight

Late evening light (25 lux) | Winner: Google Pixel 3

As the sun sets, light levels drop, and at 25 lux we finally have the option to turn on Night Mode on the iPhone. You'll see the Night Mode option as a moon-like icon appearing on the bottom left of the screen in landscape orientation. Below we have a comparison of the iPhone with Night Mode manually turned on next to the Google Pixel 3 Night Sight (also manually enabled).

iPhone 11 Night Mode (manually enabled)

Pixel 3 Night Sight

There's more detail and far less noise – particularly in the skies – in the Google Pixel 3 shot. It's hard to tell what shutter speeds and total exposure time either camera used, due to stacking techniques using differing shutter speeds and discarding frames or tiles at will based on their quality or usability. But it appears that, at best, the Pixel 3 utilized 15 frames of 1/5s shutter speeds, or 3s total, while the iPhone 11 indicated it would use a total of 1s in the user interface (the EXIF indicates 1/8s, so is likely un-representative). In other words, here it appears the Pixel 3 used a longer total exposure time.

Apart from that, though, the fact that the iPhone result looks noisier than the same shot with Night Mode manually turned off (not shown) leads us to believe that the noisy results are at least in part due to Apple's decision to use less noise reduction in Night Mode. This mode appears to assume that the longer overall exposures will lead to lower noise and, therefore, less of a need for noise reduction.

However, in the end, it appears that under these light levels Apple is not using a long enough total exposure (the cumulative result of short and long frames) to yield low enough noise results that the lower noise reduction levels are appropriate. So, in these conditions when it appears light levels are not low enough for Apple to turn on Night Mode by default, the Google Pixel 3 outperforms, again.

Low light (5 lux) | Winner: Tie

iPhone 11 Night Mode (default)

Pixel 3 Night Sight

As light levels drop further to around 5 lux, the iPhone 11 Night Mode appears to catch up to Google's Night Sight. Take a look above, and it's hard to choose a winner. The EXIF data indicates the Pixel used a 1/8s shutter speed per frame, while the iPhone used at least 1/4s shutter speed for one or more frames, so it's possible that the iPhone's use of longer exposure times per frame allows it to catch up to Google's result, despite presumably using fewer total frames.

Keynotes from Apple and personal conversations with Google indicate that Apple only uses up to 8-9 frames of both short and long exposures, while the Pixel uses up to 15 frames of consistent exposure, for each phone's respective burst photography frame-stacking methods.

Very low light (< 5 lux) | Winner: iPhone 11

iPhone 11 Night Mode (default)

Pixel 3 Night Sight

As light levels drop even further, the iPhone 11 catches up to and surpasses Google's Night Sight results. Note the lower noise in the dark blue sky above the cityscape. And while overall detail levels appear similar, buildings and windows look crisper thanks to lower noise and a higher signal:noise ratio. We presume this is due to the use of longer exposure times per frame.

It's worth noting that the iPhone, in this case, delivers a slightly darker result, which arguably ends up being more pleasing. Google's Night Sight also does a good job of ensuring that nighttime shots don't end up looking like daytime, but Apple appears to take a slightly more conservative approach.

We shot an even darker scene to see if the iPhone's advantage persisted. Indeed, the iPhone 11's advantage became even greater as light levels dropped further. Have a look below.

iPhone 11 Night Mode On

(Night Mode Off)

Pixel 3 Night Sight On

(Night Sight Off)

As you can see, the iPhone 11 delivers a more pleasing result, with more detail and considerably less noise, particularly in peripheral areas of the image where lens vignetting considerably lowers image quality as evidenced by the drastically increased noise in the Pixel 3 results.

Ultimately it appears that the lower the light levels, the better the iPhone 11 performs comparatively.

A consideration: (slightly) moving subjects

Neither camera's Night Mode is meant for photographing moving subjects, but that doesn't mean they can't deal with motion. Because these devices use tile-based alignment to merge frames to the base frame, static and moving subjects in a scene can be treated differently. For example, on the iPhone, shorter and longer exposures can be used for moving and static subjects, respectively. Frames with too much motion blur for the moving subjects may be discarded, or perhaps only have their static portions used if the algorithms are clever enough.

Below we take a look at a slightly moving subject in two lighting conditions: the first dark enough for Night Mode to be available as an option on the iPhone (though it isn't automatically triggered until darker conditions), and the second in very dim indoor lighting where Night Mode automatically triggers.

Night Mode

Standard Mode

Although I asked my subject to stay still, she moved around a bit as children are wont to do. The iPhone handles this modest motion well. You'll recall that Apple's Night Mode uses adaptive bracketing, meaning it can combine both short and long exposures for the final result. It appears that the exposure times used for the face weren't long enough to avoid a considerable degree of noise, which is exacerbated by more conservative application of noise reduction to Night Mode shots. Here, we prefer the results without Night Mode enabled, despite the slight watercolor painting-like result when viewed at 100%.

We tested the iPhone 11 vs. the Google Pixel 3 with very slightly moving subjects under even darker conditions below.

iPhone 11
Night Mode

iPhone 11
Deep Fusion

Pixel 3
Night Sight

Pixel 3
Regular camera

Here you can see that Apple's Night Mode yields lower noise than with the mode (manually) turned off. With the mode turned off, it appears Deep Fusion is active3, which yields slightly more detail at the cost of more noise (the lack of a smeary, watercolor painting-like texture is a giveaway that Deep Fusion kicked in). While both iPhone results are fairly good for such low light conditions, neither is as noise-free and crisply detailed as the Pixel 3 Night Sight shot.

We can speculate that the Pixel's better result is due to either the use of more total frames, or perhaps more effective use of frames where the subject has slightly moved, or some combination thereof. Google's tile-based alignment can deal with inter-frame subject movement of up to 8% of the frame, instead of simply discarding tiles and frames where the subject has moved. It is unclear how robust Apple's align-and-merge algorithm is, comparatively.

Vs. iPhone XS

We tested the iPhone 11 Night Mode vs. the iPhone XS, which has no Night Mode to begin with. As you can see below, the XS image is far darker, with more noise and less detail than the iPhone 11. This is no surprise, but it's informative to see the difference between the two cameras.

iPhone XS

iPhone 11

Conclusion

iPhone 11's Night Mode is formidable and a very welcome tool in Apple's arsenal. It not only provides pleasing images for its users, but it sometimes even surpass what is easily achievable by dedicated cameras. In the very lowest of light conditions, Apple has even managed to surpass the results of Google's Night Sight, highly regarded – and rightfully so – as the industry standard for low light smartphone photography.

But there are some caveats. First, in less low light conditions – situations you're actually more likely to be shooting in – Google's use of more frames and its super-resolution pipeline mean that the Pixel 3 renders considerably better results, both in terms of noise and resolution. In fact, the Pixel 3 can out-resolve even the full-frame Sony a7S II, with more color resolution and less color aliasing. Furthermore, iPhone's Night Mode sometimes gives you noisier results than with it turned off at these light levels where it's not quite dark enough for Night Mode to automatically turn on.

Second, as soon as you throw people as subjects into the mix, things get a bit muddled. Both cameras perform pretty well, but we found Google's Night Sight to more consistently yield sharper images with modest subject motion in the scene. Its use of up to 15 frames ensures lower noise, and its align-and-stack method can actually make use of many of those frames even if you subject has slightly moved, since the algorithm can tolerate inter-frame subject movement of up to ~8% of the frame.

If you're photographing perfectly still scenes in very low light, Apple's iPhone 11 is your best bet

That shouldn't undermine Apple's effort here which, overall, is actually currently class-leading under very, very low light conditions where the iPhone can use and fuse multiple frames of very long exposure. We're told the iPhone 11 can use total exposure times of 10s handheld, and 28s on a tripod. Google's Night Sight, on the other hand, tends to use an upper limit of 1/3s per frame handheld, or up to 1s on a tripod. Rumors however appear to suggest the Pixel 4 being capable of even longer total exposures, so it remains to be seen who will be the ultimate low light king.

Currently though, if you're photographing perfectly still scenes in very low light, Apple's iPhone 11 is your best bet. For most users, factoring in moving subjects and less low light (yet still dark) conditions, Google's Night Sight remains the technology to beat.


Footnotes:

1 Huawei phones have their own formidable Night Modes; while we haven't gotten our hands on the latest P30 Pro, The Verge has its own results that show a very compelling offering from the Chinese company.

2 A note about our presentation: these are rollovers, so on desktop you can hover your mouse over the states below the image to switch the crop. On mobile, simply tap the states at the bottom of each rollover to switch the crop. Tap (or click) on the crop itself to launch a separate window with the full-resolution image. Finally, on 'Retina' laptops and nearly all modern higher-end smartphones, these are 100% crops (each pixel maps 1 display pixel); however, on 'standard' (not HiDPI) displays these are 50% crops. In other words, on standard displays the differences you see are actually under-represented. [return to text]

3We had updated the iPhone 11 to the latest iOS 13.2 public beta by the time this set of shots was taken; hence the (sudden) availability of Deep Fusion.

Posted: October 14, 2019, 7:45 pm

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