The diminutive Nikon 1 series of cameras, including the J1 reviewed here and the coming V1, introduces the new CX-format CMOS sensor to the interchangeable lens, mirrorless camera field, which we dub Compact System Cameras. The sensor is smaller than APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors, coming in at a 2.7x multiplication factor using standard 35mm focal length designations. The 10.1-megapixel sensor has a native speed of ISO 100, with speeds up to 3200, and 6400 with a 1 EV push.
“Lighting is really common sense and personal observation. This is applied to a few rules of photography which cannot be broken and to others which I tend to bend a little.”—Paul Beeson
A monolight or monobloc to our European friends is a self-contained studio flash that is typically, but not always, powered by an AC power source and allows for different light modification devices, including reflectors, light banks, or umbrellas. The key phrase in that last sentence is self-contained. To my way of thinking the biggest advantage monolights possess is just that—if you’re shooting on location or for that matter anywhere and the power pack in a pack and head system stops working, so do you. If you have a couple of monolights and one of them fails, you can still shoot.
The Aurora Orion light kit arrived on my doorstep at the busiest time of the year for me. At the end of the summer I take hundreds of high school seniors and thousands of “one shot” photos of the underclass students at high schools. So while it has taken me a while to get around to writing the report, I have used these lights to take thousands of pictures, and I was really glad to have a light kit that I could just pick up and walk out the door with and have all I needed in one really nice travel bag.
The compact Olympus E-PL3 has a retro body design and is available in different colors. The camera has a large swivel LCD on the back which allows the user to flip the monitor up and down. This is handy but is not as flexible as a swivel monitor that allows side-to-side movement. The LCD screen is a standard TFT screen instead of the OLED system used by the Olympus E-P3.
The Leica X1 ($1,995) is a fixed focal length, non-interchangeable lens compact with a fast f/2.8 lens and 12.9MP CMOS APS-C sensor. Introduced over a year ago in silver and recently in black, it keeps apace with firmware upgrades, the most recent of which is claimed improvement of JPEG quality and enhanced AF speed in low light.
On-board image processors have become more powerful and diverse in their functions, and cameras like the Ricoh GR Digital IV ($649) offer more than just point and shoot still and video recording. Indeed, the Ricoh seems designed to appeal to those who would rather have their special effects in hand than take the time to apply them later. But the camera offers more than just tricks, though there are plenty of those, and its portability, ease of use and flexibility might appeal to those who want to go beyond cell phone snapshots and effects. Its fast, fixed focus lens, aperture- and shutter-priority exposure modes and a host of Scene modes that go beyond the norm make it a fascinating study in the state of photography today.
I was quite impressed with Nissin’s initial lineup of shoe-mount strobes. The Di866 Professional (now the Di866 Mark II) is quite innovative and versatile in its own right, sporting a full-color menu interface, while providing TTL wireless operation. There’s also the Di466 (for Nikon, Canon, and Four Thirds cameras). And the Di622 has been updated to the largely revamped Di622 Mark II, now the subject of this review.
The Einstein monobloc strobe is listed at 640 watt seconds (ws) of power, has a bright 250-watt modeling light that can vary proportionally with the flash output, a 12 flash per second (fps) claimed capability, and a constant 5600˚K color temperature, no matter what the power level. Also, a claimed nine f/stop range, from 2.5 to 640 ws, and Paul C. Buff’s proprietary IGBT technology fill out the bill. It’s solidly built, using a Lexan housing instead of metal. It’s not very big, but is bigger and about a pound heavier than the company’s AlienBees units that many photographers, including myself, use.
Increasingly, manufacturers are coming out with cameras and speedlights that support wireless TTL flash operation. What this means for you is a simplified approach to using dedicated flash units off camera—especially multiple speedlights, alone or mixed with other light sources. With wireless TTL you’re free to move the off-camera flash a few inches or a few feet here or there, not to mention modifying the light in any desired fashion, and all without having to recalculate exposures, use a flash meter, and link everything together with wires. The camera’s metering system does the math for you. Beyond that, wireless TTL assures you that all speedlights on and off camera will fire in sync.
The new Nikon P7100 offers many function buttons and dials along with a large mode dial on the top to choose standard exposure modes like P, S, A and M. The camera offers a full automatic mode, scene modes and special effect modes (like B&W, sepia tone effect, “High Key” effect and more). In addition, the P7100 offers three user modes that can be saved as U1-U3 and accessed directly on the mode dial.
The Olympus E-P3 is the follower of the E-P2 and E-P1, the first Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras that were offered as “retro style cameras”. The E-P3 offers the same image sensor as the E-P2, with a nominal resolution of 12MP, but the E-P3 uses a newly developed image processor unit called “TruePic VI” plus offers some enhancements in the AF-speed. The automatic focusing system is really fast and showed a very good performance during our tests. In addition it has some special modes like “AF tracking mode”, which will help both photographers and videographers.
This is a test report on the new Panasonic FZ48 integral lens camera. The camera looks like a compact SLR. It has a big grip on the right hand side of the body, which allows for comfortable handling for shooting, important for a long-range zoom such as this.
The SD1 is Sigma’s new flagship SLR system. It uses a brand new sensor with Foveon technology and a nominal resolution of 14.8 MP. This means that the camera is able to record RGB information for every single pixel. Standard digital cameras use sensors with the “classic” Bayer pattern, which means that every single pixel detects only one color information (red, green or blue) and then must undergo color interpolation.
The A-35 is based on the Sony SLT system, which means the camera uses a translucent mirror system. The mirror is fixed and therefore the camera doesn’t offer an optical SLR viewfinder; instead, it uses a high resolution electronic viewfinder and an LCD monitor – just like a CSC (compact system camera).The ELV of the Sony A35 has a resolution of 1.15 million RGB dots and shows a very crisp and clear image.
The Sony NEX-C3 is an ultra compact CSC (compact system cameras) system with an APS-C sized sensor. The camera offers a resolution of 16 MP (megapixels), which is similar to some Sony SLT cameras like the SLT-A35. The main difference in the concept of the NEX cameras is the very compact body and the fact that the camera doesn’t work with an optical or electronic viewfinder, but only with the LCD screen on the back as viewfinder and control monitor.