If your loved one is into action sports, filmmaking or photography, a camera or accessory would be a highly appreciated gift, to say the least. And there’s never been a better time to own a new camera, as the latest technology will let them take better photos and video than ever. It can be difficult to know where to start, though, with all the camera models out there, let alone the numerous accessories like backpacks, memory cards, tripods and more. Fortunately, we’ve done all the research and found cameras at a wide range of prices, along with accessories that will help your giftee get the most out of their gear.
Canon EOS R100
Fujifilm Instax Square SQ40
GoPro Hero 12 Black
Joby Gorillapod 3K Stand
WD My Passport SSD
Lowepro ProTactic BP 350 AW II Backpack
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag
Nanlite LitoLite 5C RGBWW Mini LED Panel
Rode VideoMic Go and Wireless Go II
Lexar Professional 1667x 64GB SDXS UHS II card
ProGrade Digital CFexpress 2.0 Type B Gold card
Amazon Basics 60-inch tripod
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
SmallRig SD Memory Card Holder
Lenspen L-DSLRK1N lens cleaning kit
Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio 18.6
Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-gifts-for-photographers-and-videographers-140040483.html?src=rss
You can snag the well-regarded GoPro Hero 12 Black action camera bundle via Amazon for as part of a larger Black Friday event, representing a savings of 22 percent. This deal includes the camera itself, a carrying case, an extra battery, a head strap and a handler stick.
This is the We enjoyed the Hero 12 calling attention to the improved battery life when compared to last-generation, allowing for 35 minutes of continuous use. Remember, this deal comes with two rechargeable batteries, so that adds up to around 70 minutes of near-continuous use. You’ll have to perform a quick swap, but you should be able to get right back into the action.
The Hero 12 also features Bluetooth audio streaming, so you can wear wireless earbuds while hosting a vlog or when creating a live commentary video. The latency here is basically imperceptible and this technology also allows you to control the camera from afar via voice commands. In other words, you won’t have to edit out those clumsy seconds when you walk toward the camera to turn it off.
The camera includes a larger image sensor when compared to the Hero 11, for slightly improved visual clarity. You can also experiment with different aspect ratios via the same footage and the camera offers a 8:7 mode across every setting. Otherwise, many of the advertised metrics remain static from the last-gen, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. This deal is also available if Amazon isn’t your bag.
Black Friday means savings on cameras for content creation, travel photography and more. This year is no exception as all the major manufacturers, including Sony, Canon, DJI, Nikon, GoPro, Fujifilm and Nikon have some stellar deals. Sony is offering its latest compact vlogging camera, the ZV-1F, at just $398 ($100 off), while Canon's new EOS R100 mirrorless APS-C camera is available with a kit lens for just $449. Panasonic has its full frame Lumix S5 on sale for $1,298 (38 percent off), DJI's Avata Pro-View combo is $999 (30 percent off) and GoPro's Hero 11 is down to $300, for a savings of 14 percent.
Sony's ZV-1F is its third and most affordable vlogging camera, designed for creators as a "step up" from smartphones. It does that job well thanks to a lightweight body, built-in high-quality microphone, flip-out display, best-in-class autofocus and excellent image quality. The 20mm fixed lens makes it better for vlogging than the ZV1 with a 24-70mm, but the lack of a zoom is its biggest drawback.
Canon's 24.2-megapixel R100 gives buyers the benefit of a mirrorless camera, namely the ability to change lenses. It also offers features like 4K 24p video, decently fast 6.5 fps shooting speeds with autofocus, excellent image quality and more. The main issue is the lack of a flip-out display, so it's not an ideal vlogging camera. It normally costs $600 with a 16-50mm lens, but you can now pick one up for $450, making it the cheapest APS-C mirrorless camera by a good margin.
we gave the Hero 11 Black a largely positive review when it launched in September. The camera is an iterative upgrade over the excellent Hero 10 Black, meaning it still allows for crisp video at up to 5.3K/60 Hz, 4K/120 Hz, or 2.7K/240 Hz (for extra slow-motion shots), excellent stabilization that keeps moving footage looking smooth, and a rugged, waterproof design that's small enough to fit on a helmet, bike handle, surfboard, or most other tight spots.
With the arrival of the Lumix S5 II, Panasonic is offering some stellar deals on its predecessor, the S5. It’s smaller and costs less than the Lumix S1, but it actually delivers better video features. That includes a flip-out display, five-axis in-body stabilization and 10-bit 4K recording at up to 60 fps. The autofocus is faster and more accurate than the S1, but not as good as Sony and Canon’s systems for video. Still, at this price, it's one of the best cameras currently available for content creators.
The Avata is a solid little drone that produces decent-quality 4K 60p log footage. Its biggest advantage over other drones is the speed and maneuverability, along with the propeller guards that let you operate the drone around people. It does have some weird flaws and limitations — the Googles 2 aren’t ideal if you wear glasses, plus the motion controller isn’t ideal for precise FPV flying. Still, there aren’t many other ready-to-fly drones that can do what it does.
Nikon's Z6 II improves the original with faster speeds, improved eye-detect autofocus and more. You can shoot 4K at up to 60 fps, and grab photos at up to 14 fps. It also offers features like a flip screen, 3.69-million dot EVF and more. It's normally $1,997, but you can save $400 with Amazon's current deal.
Other notable camera and accessory Black Friday deals
Those products are just a smattering of what's available, but there are others as well. Panasonic also has its brand new S5 II mirrorless camera — its first with phase-detect autofocus — on sale for $1,698 for a savings of $300 (15 percent).
Sony also has its new A7 IV camera on sale for $2,298, saving you $200 off the list price, while the A7 III is marked down to $1,498 ($502 off) — the best price we've ever seen on this model. It's also got deals on a large number of lenses — to see more, check out its Amazon camera store. Meanwhile, if you're looking for the latest Panasonic cameras in a bundle, the company has a few solid deals, and Nikon has multiple bundles as well.
Sony has just unveiled its latest pro-oriented mirrorless camera, and we now know why it took them four years to develop it. The Alpha A9 III is the first full-frame camera on the market with a global stacked sensor, a sort of holy grail in the photographic world. It allows for some wild specs, like 120fps shooting speeds with no blackout, up to a 1/80,000th of a second shutter speed and zero rolling shutter — albeit with a 24.6-megapixel resolution that may disappoint some.
The new tech opens up a lot of new possibilities for photographers. Without the constraints of a physical shutter (no, there isn't one), it can shoot full-resolution, blackout-free 14-bit RAW bursts at up to 120fps with a 1.6 second buffer (around 180 shots). Sony also installed the latest Bionz XR image processor and "high-density focal plane phase detection AF" that allows for real-time autofocus (AF) tracking.
"A designated AI processing unit uses real-time recognition AF to recognize a wide variety of subjects with high precision," Sony explains in the press release. "By combining high-speed performance of up to 120 fps with highly accurate subject recognition performance, it is possible to easily photograph scenes and moments that cannot be seen with the naked eye."
The global shutter also allows for shutter speeds of 1/80,000th of a second (1/16,000th during continuous shooting), ten times faster than most cameras. Compatible flashes can be synced all the way up to the maximum shutter speed, rather than being limited to much lower speeds in electronic shutter mode — normally around 1/250th to 1/500th of a second. It also allows the shutter speed to be finely adjusted to eliminate flicker in video. And Sony is offering a 1-second pre-burst feature that can capture scenes before the shutter button is pressed, reducing the possibility of a missed shot.
The stacked global shutter provides large benefits for video, as well. It's Sony's first camera to support 4K 120p video with no cropping and does so with no rolling shutter distortion (skewing), along with 4K 60p with 6K oversampling. It also offers 10-bit recording with S-Log3 capture in all video modes (including 4K 120p), along with S-Cinetone borrowed from the company's high-end Venice lineup that "makes human skin tones and subjects stand out beautifully," Sony said. It should be one of Sony's best-focusing cameras for video, as all the photo subject tracking features work in that mode, too.
It's got a long list of other features you'd expect on a high-end Sony camera, most notably in-body stabilization with up to 8 stops of shake reduction. The electronic viewfinder is Sony's best with 9.44 million dots, and It resolves the rear display tilt vs. flip debate by doing both of those things. And to help clear the buffer as quickly as possible, the A9 III supports fast CFexpress Type A cards on top of SD UHS II, much like the Alpha A1.
Other specs show an ISO range of 250-25600 (expandable to ISO 125–51200) with a minimum ISO that's a bit on the high side. That shouldn't bother photographers on sunny days, given the extremely fast shutter speeds, but video shooters will need ND filters to block some light.
What will be a key for this camera is the image quality and low-light sensitivity, given that this is an all-new sensor and there's not a lot of data on global shutters. Sony didn't release any sample photos yet from what I've seen, so upcoming reviews of this model will be key. The Alpha A9 III goes on pre-order tomorrow for $6,000, with a vertical grip available for $400 — but won't arrive until next spring.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-sony-a9-iii-is-the-fastest-full-frame-camera-ever-thanks-to-a-global-stacked-sensor-175522418.html?src=rss
Panasonic’s 25.2-megapixel Lumix G9 II arrived with a lot of fanfare, as it’s the company’s very first Micro Four Thirds camera with hybrid phase-detect autofocus. And from the first day of launch, Panasonic promoted it as the ultimate small-sensor wildlife and action camera, thanks to the hyper-fast 60 fps shooting speeds and relatively high resolution.
However, I (and others) noticed that it held a lot of promise for content creators, too. The superior hybrid AF is also better for video than past models and it offers up to 5.8K 60p video, 4K at 120p, incredible stabilization and even SSD ProRes capture. On paper, it’s superior to the company’s vlogging-dedicated GH6, though it lacks the latter’s fan and a few other minor features.
That gives the G9 II a bit of an identity crisis. Is it the ultimate content creator camera, an action shooter’s dream or the ultimate hybrid camera? To find out, I’ve got a retail camera with the final production firmware and RAW photo support.
Physically, the G9 II is more like the full-frame S5 II than the six-year-old G9. Gone is the softer, rounded G9 design, in its place a more angular, hard-edged body. It’s relatively large for a Micro Four Thirds camera, weighing 658 grams (OM system’s OM-1 weighs 599 grams), though it has exactly the same heft as the original G9.
The design is more businesslike than pretty, but I like the practicality of it. The ridged grip is secure, and it has every control you need, including a joystick, front, back and rear control dials, a setting dial, shooting dial and numerous buttons. A few things have changed from the G9, as the dual dial on the left is now just a single shooting dial, the on/off switch is in a better location and it has a front shooting dial. This is now a template for Panasonic cameras, so if you’re used to models like the GH5, you’ll adapt quickly.
The menus are easy to use as well, but I wish it had a dedicated photo/video switch with separate controls. For instance, if you set V-log on video, that setting carries over to photos too – and you definitely don’t want that. To keep photos and video apart, you’ll need to employ one of the custom “C” dial settings.
The 1,840K dot LCD display fully articulates for vloggers and self-shooters, of course, and most controls are available by the touchscreen. It comes with a decent 3,680K dot OLED viewfinder that’s on par with other cameras in this price range, like Fujifilm’s X-T5. I’d prefer a little more EVF resolution on a flagship camera, particularly for bird shooting, but it’s not bad.
The G9 II uses the same battery as the S5 II, allowing for a middling 390 shots on a charge. Video endurance is better than the GH6, though, lasting nearly 100 minutes at 4K 60p.
A feature I didn’t expect is SSD recording. That lets you record high-bandwidth ProRes files to an external drive via the USB-C port. It does require some rigging, but is an amazing time saver, as you can edit the files directly with no transcoding needed. It also has a pair of SD UHS-II card slots, but no support for CFexpress like the GH6.
There’s a nice full-sized HDMI port, but the G9 II doesn’t yet support RAW video recording. You also get microphone and headphone jacks, along with a USB-C port that supports 10Gbps transfer speeds and fast PD charging.
With a new sensor and processor, the G9 II is a speed demon – but this is Panasonic’s first crack at phase-detect autofocus. That does show at times, via issues like occasional lag and an AI feature set lacking compared to rivals.
It can shoot RAW plus JPEG bursts with the mechanical shutter at up to 10 fps, or 60 fps in the SH60 electronic shutter mode with continuous autofocus. If you don’t need that kind of speed (and don’t want to fill the buffer up too rapidly), it also offers 20 fps bursts in electronic mode. Panasonic also introduced a pre-burst mode, which continuously cycles bursts through 1.5 seconds before you fully press the shutter – helping you catch a shot even if you’re a bit slow.
It has a large buffer that allows for over three second bursts at 60 fps and non-stop shooting with the mechanical shutter. However, it takes longer than other cameras to clear the buffer – up to a minute in some cases – due in part to the slowish SD ports. This can be quite annoying, as the camera effectively stops working while the buffer clears.
Still, that kind of speed is impressive – provided the autofocus can keep up. Luckily, the new phase-detect system on the G9 II is mostly up to the task. Shooting at 60fps with eye-detection enabled, the large majority of my shots were in focus with a subject running toward the camera.
It wasn’t quite as reliable for more distant subjects when using Panasonic’s new 200-800mm equivalent telephoto, and didn’t initially lock in as fast as I’d like. The eye detect autofocus, however, was generally reliable for both human and animal subjects. It lacks a specific setting for birds, but the system does seem to automatically switch between birds and deer, for instance, if you’re shooting in the woods.
It can also track motorcycles and cars, and though I didn’t test it on the former, it does a good job tracking vehicles. There’s no “auto” setting either like you’ll find on Canon’s latest models, so you have to go in and switch focus modes manually if you’re shooting a pet and its owner.
In other words, Panasonic is off to a good start but has a way to go to catch up to Sony’s ultra-reliable and more intelligent AF. I expect that to improve over time, though.
If you’re concerned about rolling shutter in electronic mode, don’t be. Readout speeds are fast for a non-stacked sensor, so skew and other issues aren’t an issue except in extreme situations like airplane propellers.
Panasonic has included the same in-body stabilization system as the GH6, so it can reduce shake by up to 8 stops, or 7.5 stops with ultra telephoto lenses. It’s very effective for shooting handheld, letting you grab photos at a quarter second or less with no blur.
The G9 II has the same 25.2-megapixel resolution dual gain sensor as the GH6 but image quality for photos is better, with less noise at lower ISO levels.
With five extra megapixels over the original G9, it takes sharper shots and provides some extra detail over rivals like the OM-1 – letting you crop in a bit more. JPEG colors straight out of the camera look great and require little retouching.
The dual-gain sensor also makes it good in low light for a Micro Four Thirds Camera. Very little noise is visible up to ISO 1600, and it’s well managed beyond that up to about ISO 12,800, as long as you expose correctly. That said, it’s always better to have more light with a small-sensor camera, as noise levels can quickly get out of control, particularly with underexposed shots.
RAW files are relatively easy to edit and give you room to dial down highlights or bring up detail in shadows. Again, the small sensor puts it at a disadvantage to full-frame cameras in that regard, however, as more noise will appear at higher ISOs.
The G9 II now has a dynamic range boost function applied automatically. It uses both the high- and low-gain circuits, and combines them into one photo, HDR style. That helps boost dynamic range in bright sunlight and other tricky situations.
The handheld high-resolution mode, meanwhile, combines multiple images into a single 100-megapixel shot, with no tripod required. It works surprisingly well for shots like landscapes with limited movement, drastically boosting resolution. I did notice that the high-resolution JPEG files have an artificial look when you zoom in though, as if the camera is trying to add non-existent detail. For that reason, I’d suggest enabling RAW when using the feature.
Finally, Panasonic took a page from Fujifilm with a new black and white color profile called Leica Monochrome. It was developed in partnership with Leica, obviously, and features brighter highlights and more contrast. It’s easily the nicest photo “look” setting I’ve seen on any Panasonic camera (it’s great for black and white video, too).
Panasonic might not want to hear this, but if I was a content creator looking for a Micro Four Thirds camera, I’d purchase this model over the like-priced GH6.
Yes, the GH6 has a few advantages. It can capture ProRes video directly to CFexpress cards, while you need to rig up an SSD to do the same on the G9 II. It also has a fan that allows unlimited video recording, so it is better for event videographers. Finally, you can output RAW video to an external recorder.
Aside from that, the G9 holds its own. Both can capture 5.7K at up to 60fps, or 120p 4K, and the G9 II supports 10-bit V-Log recording and 4K internal capture with high data rates and easy-to-edit I-frame files, exactly like the GH6. And you can do high-bandwidth ProRes recording via the USB-C port – again, just like the GH6.
The lack of a fan limits the G9 II’s recording times, but not substantially. 4K and 5.7K recording times are effectively unlimited at 30 and 60 fps. Even 4K at 120fps can go over 20 minutes, and few users would ever need that.
And the G9 II does things the GH6 can’t. The phase-detect AF is clearly superior for video, eliminating wobble and focusing much quicker (though the same AF caveats for photography apply). It also has a lower 500 ISO floor for dynamic range-boosted V-log recording, compared to ISO 2,000 for the GH6. That makes it more practical to shoot in sunlight, where the benefits of log and dual-gain are greatest.
As with the GH6, stabilization is excellent for video, though Sony’s ZV-E1 is a touch better. Boost Mode provides near-tripod levels of smoothness for static shots only. Turning on E-Stabilization eliminates the need for a gimbal in some cases (though the electronic IBS on Sony's ZV-E1 is a hair better). That mode also corrects warping at the edges with wide-angle lenses, a first for mirrorless cameras. As a content creator myself, the stabilization alone would make me reach for the G9 II instead of potentially more capable cameras like Canon’s R6 II – because I know I can capture great footage without a tripod.
4K video is oversampled and thus very sharp, though the cropped 4K 120p is a bit softer. Dynamic range is outstanding in V-log mode, so it’s easy to adjust later, especially at the base ISO 500. Colors are natural, and low-light capability is solid for a small-sensor camera thanks to the dual gain system. So video quality-wise, I have no complaints.
That said, there are a few handy content creator features found on Sony and Canon cameras missing here, like Sony’s dedicated product showcase and focus breathing compensation.
With all that, the $1,900 G9 II is one of the most capable hybrid cameras I’ve seen. The handling, speed and improved autofocus make it a compelling option for wildlife photographers. But the excellent video capabilities and quality makes it a great choice for content creators as well.
Panasonic’s main competition on the photography side is the $2,000 OM-1. The G9 II has more resolution, but the OM-1 has a faster stacked sensor. For photos, either is a good choice, depending on what you need. However, the G9 II is far superior for video.
On the content creation side, Sony’s $2,200 ZV-E1 is a clear rival, and is a touch better for vloggers. Panasonic’s own GH6, currently discounted to $1,700, is another option. However, neither of those models can touch the G9 II on the photography side. Perhaps the best fully hybrid alternative would be Fujifilm’s X-H2, as it offers both speed and video chops, but it costs $600 more. All told, if you’re someone who tends to do both photography and video, the G9 II is a great choice.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/panasonic-g9-ii-review-its-best-micro-four-thirds-camera-to-date-120020562.html?src=rss
We've now hit the second day of Amazon's October Prime Day sale (aka Prime Big Deal Days) and it's proving to be a great time to pick up a new camera. Vloggers, photographers and other creators will find plenty of good discounts on new and recent gear and accessories. We're seeing discounts on mirrorless cameras, action cameras, photo accessories and more, so if you want to update old equipment or are just picking up your first mirrorless, now's a good time to shop. And if you've got a budding photographer on your holiday gift list, a few deals fall in the sub $1,000 mark and could make a great introductory camera. You can see the full lineup of our recommendations in our camera guide.
Though it's been displaced by the Hero 11 and 12, GoPro's Hero 10 is still the third-best action camera available. The GP2 processor enables features like HyperSmooth 4.0 (which stabilizes footage), tone mapping, noise reduction and a 5.3K maximum resolution at up to 60fps. It can also shoot in 4K at 120fps and 2.7K at 240fps. Like the previous model, the Hero 10 Black has a front screen to make it easier for you to shoot video of yourself, and it supports new horizon leveling options and faster navigation.
Nikon Z 30 with 16-50mm zoom lens
Nikon's Z30 is a DX (APS-C) camera designed for vloggers and creators. It offers 4K using the full width of the sensor, 120fps slow-mo at 1080p, a flip-out display and AI powered hybrid phase-detect AF. It also offers outstanding image and video quality, with dynamic range on par with more expensive cameras. The drawbacks are the lack of an EVF and autofocus performance that’s not on par with Sony’s devices.
As Sony’s former flagship APS-C camera (until the A6700 came along), the 24.2-megapixel A6600 still has a lot to offer. It comes with features like real-time AF tracking, a pop-up screen, in-body stabilization, solid battery life and generally excellent photo quality. It's also a great travel camera thanks to its compact size. It is a bit old now, having come out in 2019, but it's an attractive option at this relatively low price.
Canon EOS R3
Canon’s EOS R3 can shoot bursts at up to 30 fps with autofocus enabled, so it’s ideal for sports and action. It’s a very solid option for video, offering 6K at up to 60 fps in Canon’s RAW LTE mode, or 4K at 120 fps. Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus is excellent, and it offers eight stops of shake reduction, a flip-out display and even eye detection autofocus. However, the resolution is limited to 24 megapixels, so it’s not as great for wildlife or landscapes as Sony’s A1 or the R5. The other drawback is the $6,000 price, but Amazon's sale makes it more palatable.
Panasonic Lumix S5
With the arrival of the Lumix S5 II, Panasonic is offering some stellar deals on its predecessor, the S5. It’s smaller and costs less than the Lumix S1, but it actually delivers better video features. That includes a flip-out display, five-axis in-body stabilization and 10-bit 4K recording at up to 60 fps. The autofocus is faster and more accurate than the S1, but not as good as Sony and Canon’s systems for video. Still, at this price, it's one of the best cameras currently available for content creators.
The 24-megapixel full-frame Nikon Z5 is a stellar deal right now. It’s mostly aimed at photographers, with features like hybrid phase-detect autofocus and Nikon’s excellent color science. And for such a budget option, it has desirable features like five-axis in-body stabilization, dual fast UHS-II card slots, a 3.69-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder and a tilting touch display. Video isn’t a strong point, but it can handle 4K 30p with a crop and 1080p at 60fps.
The A6100 is a few years old now, but its autofocus system is still among the best thanks to its intelligent face- and eye-tracking, along with 4K 30 fps video. The color science and low-light capabilities are excellent, so photos are sharp and color accurate, even in dimly-lit environments. The drawbacks are bad rolling shutter and a low-resolution EVF. Still, the A6100 is the best camera in its price range.
Canon EOS R10
Canon’s 24-megapixel EOS R10 is the company’s second APS-C camera to launch in the EOS R mount ecosystem. It offers some nice features for its price range, like 4K 60p, 1080p 120p, a flip-out display, a built-in flash and very fast shooting speeds. The main drawback is excessive rolling shutter that can warp the image, but it’s ideal for casual users who are likely to buy it for vacations, kids sporting events and more thanks to the reliable AF. With features aimed at creators, you can grab it in a kit with a stereo microphone, tripod grip, wireless remote and an S18-45mm lens — saving you $100 in total.
Panasonic Lumix GH6
The Panasonic GH6 is aimed at content creators and largely does a good job of replacing the ultra-popular GH5. It has no-compromise video specs including ProRes support for 5.7K 30p video, 4K at up to 120 fps and full V-log support. With a new 25-megapixel sensor, the highest resolution yet on a Micro Four Thirds camera, it’s a better camera for photography. The GH6 still uses contrast detect only autofocus, though, and while improved, it lags behind rival Sony and Canon cameras.
Other notable camera and accessory Prime Day deals
Content creators have become a key segment in the mirrorless camera industry, and Sony fully embraced them back in 2020 with the launch of the ZV1 camera. It has since added no less than four models to its ZV lineup, with the latest being the 12-megapixel full-frame ZV-E1 — its most capable model by far.
It uses the same sensor as the $3,500 A7S III, a video-focused camera that’s also a low-light marvel. However, the ZV-E1 costs $1,300 less, so of course it’s missing some key features like an electronic viewfinder (EVF), dual high-speed card slots, a mechanical shutter and some physical controls.
At the same time, the ZV-E1 has some functions that the A7S III lacks, surprisingly enough. Most of those are in the area of AI, and very useful for vloggers, like auto-framing, advanced subject detection and dynamic stabilization. With the sensor and AI features combined, it’s not a spoiler to say that this camera is both a mini A7S III and a powerful vlogging camera at the same time. The sheer number of advancements also make it a technological tour de force.
The sensor might be the same, but the ZV-E1 looks radically different from the A7S III. Instead of Sony’s classic A7-style mirrorless form, the body is squat and chunky like an A6700 or full-frame A7C. It’s also significantly smaller and weighs a third less than the A7S III at 483g, making it Sony’s smallest full-frame camera to date.
Sony boasts that it’s built of recycled plastic, and that makes the camera feel significantly cheaper and less grippy than the A7 series. The grip is also smaller, but I was still able to get a reasonably firm grasp considering the lighter weight. Despite the lower-end materials, it is dust and moisture resistant.
As we’ve seen on numerous recent cameras, there’s a switch for photos, video and slow & quick, and each has its own dedicated settings. It has a prominent red record button on top, and like Sony’s other mirrorless vlogging camera (the APS-C ZV-E10) it has a zoom rocker for supported zoom lenses, and also works with Sony’s “Digital Zoom” feature.
Other than that, it’s significantly stripped down compared to the A7S III. While it does have a few vlogging-specific buttons like Product Showcase and Background Defocus, there’s just a single control dial on top (at the back) and no dial on the front – making it difficult to operate the camera using physical controls in full manual mode.
That said, the ZV-E1 is one of Sony’s first cameras that can be fully operated using touch controls. Most of the key settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc) can be changed in that way, and it also lets you tweak the display settings by swiping left or right. And of course, the LCD screen fully articulates for vloggers, though it’s a bit low-res at 1,030K dots.
Where the A7S III’s 9.44 million-dot EVF is the best on the market, there’s no viewfinder at all on the ZV-E1. I missed that feature when shooting on bright days, but the EVF does have a “sunshine” mode that automatically maxes out brightness.
It uses the same battery as Sony’s flagship models, so you get a generous 95 minutes of 4K 30p video recording and 570 photos on a charge. Luckily, the USB-C Gen 3.2 port lets you charge while shooting, and also supports high-speed transfers.
Along with headphone and mic ports, it’s got a micro rather than a full sized HDMI port, which isn’t ideal for a vlogging camera. It has just a single high-speed UHS-II card slot. Oddly the lack of a fast CFexpress type A slot doesn’t appear to limit video capture compared to the A7S III.
As you’d expect for a camera based on the powerful A7S III, video specs are impressive. It can handle 4K UHD video at up to 60 fps, though it’s lightly supersampled from the 12-megapixel, 4,240 x 2,832 sensor – so it’s slightly less sharp than higher-resolution Sony cameras like the A7 IV. Thanks to a recent firmware update, it can also shoot native 4K at up to 120 fps with no supersampling.
You can choose from high- and low-quality MP4 longGOP options, all with up to 4:2:2 10-bit color depth and 280 Mbps data rates. There’s also an I-mode at up to 4K 60p with 4:2:2 10-bit color that offers a more fluid editing experience with no transcoding. That setting uses higher data rates at up to 600Mbps (60 fps), so it requires expensive, high-speed V90 UHS-II cards.
Sony’s S-Log3 boosts dynamic range to 14-plus stops, and you can preview footage using Sony’s LUTs or install your own. If you don’t want the hassle of log, S-Cinetone also boosts dynamic range and is easier to tweak and edit later on.
What about overheating? Since it lacks the thermal capabilities as the A7S III, continuous recording times are shorter, particularly at 4K60 and up. In that mode you can expect less than an hour depending on the outside temperature. Content creators might be OK with that, but event shooters may need to look elsewhere.
Autofocus and AI
When it comes to autofocus, the ZV-E1 actually outshines the A7S III. That’s because it uses Sony’s new AI processor introduced in the A7R V, so it behaves more like that model –- particularly when it comes to image tracking.
It can now track human heads and bodies, not just faces and eyes. And besides people, it has specific settings for animals, birds, insects, cars, planes and trains. Unfortunately it does lack an auto setting, so it can’t automatically select the type of subject — you have to dive into the menus and do that yourself.
Subject tracking sets a new speed and reliability standard for mirrorless cameras, nailing autofocus consistently – even in tricky settings with fast moving subjects. That’s hugely important for vloggers, who often work alone. That said, even Sony’s system isn’t perfect, as it can occasionally lose a subject’s eyes in busy backgrounds.
AI powers other features too. For example, the built-in microphone is now directional, and can automatically aim toward the front, rear or all around, based on subject detection.
A key AI feature lets you digitally zoom an extra 1.5 times without much noticeable loss in quality. It works with the zoom rocker, and unlike with past ZV implementations, includes full subject tracking. That ability to zoom smoothly and automatically scale the image powers other features as well
That starts with the ZV-E1’s in-body stabilization. Optical-only offers 5 stops, enough to smooth handheld video without much movement. Active stabilization considerably boosts performance, but adds a slight 1.1x crop. However, dynamic stabilization is new and quite remarkable. It adds a 1.3x crop, but can effectively remove bouncing from footsteps, making it like using a dedicated gimbal – albeit with some loss in sharpness. With that feature, the ZV-E1 is the first camera that can really match the smoothness of the latest GoPro action cams.
The digital zoom teams up with subject tracking on two other new features as well. One is the Framing Stabilizer, which crops into the image, steadies the shot and keeps the subject in the center of frame, allowing for dolly-like smoothness.
Auto Framing, meanwhile, gives the illusion of camera movement. It first digitally zooms into the subject, then tracks it within the frame. You can choose a small, medium or large crop, different tracking speeds and more. You can even send an uncropped video to HDMI so you have two versions.
It also carries vlogger-centric features seen on other ZV models, including Product Showcase and Auto Depth of Field. As before, the latter automatically defocuses the background by instantly opening the aperture as much as possible. Product Showcase, meanwhile, ignores eye detection and quickly shifts focus to any foreground object brought in front of the camera. Finally, Breathing Compensation uses a slight digital zoom to maintain constant framing when changing focus.
As mentioned, 4K 30p and 60p video is slightly softer than Sony’s 30-megapixel A7 IV due to the lower resolution. On the plus side, the absence of pixel binning means no there’s no aliasing or other ugly artifacts that can ruin a shot.
The other positive aspect is far less rolling shutter than the A7 IV at the full sensor width. That means you can make quick pans or film fast-moving subjects without worrying about skewed video.
Apart from sharpness, image quality is superb. It delivers nearly 15 stops of dynamic range in C-Log3 mode, up there with the best mirrorless cameras. That allows for plenty of detail in dark shadows and bright highlights, even on sunny or dark days. S-Log3 mode, meanwhile, gives editors room to tweak video. Sony’s colors are accurate, though skin tones can lack the warmth I’ve seen on Canon models.
The ZV-E1 can’t be beat in low light. It has dual native ISOs at 640 and a whopping 12800. That allows for low-noise video all that way up to ISO 25,600, and manageable levels even at 51,200 – letting you shoot by moonlight or candlelight. In fact, Sony’s FX3 cinema camera with the same sensor was recently used to shoot a feature film called The Creator, specifically because it’s so good in low light.
Since it doesn’t have an EVF or mechanical shutter, I wouldn’t recommend the ZV-E1 for photography alone. That said, like the A7S III, it’s more than competent in a pinch.
The AF works just as well with photography, and has the same features and tracking modes. So you can count on this camera to grab sharp photos, even when shooting bursts at up to the maximum 10 fps or in low light. It’s actually a pretty good street photography or travel camera, as it’s small, silent and discreet. And with so little skew, I rarely missed the mechanical shutter.
Photo quality is outstanding, particularly in very low light. RAW images can easily be tweaked, even at high ISOs, and colors are accurate. The biggest drawback is again the lack of sharpness. That means there’s not a lot of room to crop into photos later, so you’ll want to get your framing right when you take the shot.
With all that it can do, Sony’s ZV-E1 is the best vlogging camera on the market and its rivals aren’t even really close. It delivers everything creators need like 4K 120p video, high dynamic range, unbeatable low-light capability, great ergonomics, the best AF on the market and a boatload of useful AI features. The main drawback is a lack of sharpness — but that’s only really noticeable if you’re pixel peeping.
The ZV-E1 costs $2,200, so its rivals include the $2,200 Panasonic S5 IIx, the $2,500 Canon EOS R6 II and Sony’s own $2,500 A7 IV. All of those cameras have sharper 4K video and electronic viewfinders, so they’re better hybrid cameras for both photography and video
The ZV-E1 beats them in nearly every other way, though, while breaking new ground with its innovative AI features. If you’re a content creator looking for a full-frame camera in that price range, I’d highly recommend the ZV-E1.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/sony-zv-e1-review-the-best-vlogging-camera-to-date-by-a-big-margin-140055155.html?src=rss
With its latest Instax camera, Fujifilm has separated the camera from the printer. The Instax Pal is a tiny palm-sized 4.9-megapixel (MP) camera that takes digital photos, then lets you print them to the bundled Instax Mini Link 2 printer with a variety of effects via the new Instax Pal app. Designed for users 13 and up, the idea is to "capture life's spontaneous moments for photo printing," the company says.
The camera is automatic, but aperture and shutter settings cover a wide range of shooting conditions, from interior to exterior. It's equipped with a wide angle lens and flash, and lets you shoot in a variety of ways. You can capture images by pushing the large shutter button on the back, or trigger it remotely using the Pal app. It supports interval shooting to capture scenes with 3, 6, 11 or 21 continuous images at three-second intervals.
There's a detachable ring for use as a finger strap, simple viewfinder (lol) or a camera stand for remote shooting. Other features include a speaker for audio prompts, a USB-C port for charging, a microSD card slot (the internal memory can hold 50 images) and even a screw mount for a tripod.
Via Bluetooth, the Instax Pal app gives you a view through the camera's lens for composing images and triggering the shutter. Images are then automatically copied to the app. You can adjust the exposure by +/- 2 EV and choose two between two quality settings, Rich mode (vivid, with more detail) and Natural mode. When you're ready to print, there's a bundle of effects that includes sepia, cool, vivid and soft, along with controls for brightness, contrast, rotate, crop, text, stickers, emojis and more.
Printing from the app is possible, but unfortunately requires a second Fujifilm app for the printer. It lets you print Instax Mini pictures (2.13 x 3.4 inches) in about 15 seconds, with a 1.5-minute development time. Quality is about the same as you'd get with an Instax Mini camera like the SQ40, since the process is the same — the only difference is that the Pal's camera is separated from the printer. The advantage to the second app is that you can also print photos from your smartphone's camera reel.
Photos can also be sent to friends via the Pal app, or posted to social media — all fitting for a camera marketed to teens. The only challenge is that it isn't cheap. The Instax Pal bundle arrives in late October (along with the app) for $200, while the new Soft Lavender Instax film designed for the bundle is $15.75 for a 10 pack (regular Instax film is about $13 for a ten pack). If you only need physical photos, other Instax Mini models are far cheaper at less than $100 — but the Pal does support both physical and digital photos, while giving you a smartphone printer to boot.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/fujifilms-instax-pal-is-a-tiny-digital-camera-that-lets-you-print-later-091509085.html?src=rss
So there’s a new GoPro in town. Maybe you saw a bunch of new features and wondered if the new camera is worth the upgrade from an older model? Maybe you want to know if it’s a better fit than a rival camera like DJI’s Action 4? Here we’ll go through everything that’s new with the Hero 12 and hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll feel ready to make an informed decision. There are some useful new tools, some neat hardware tweaks and of course, an important aesthetic update this time around. All of which we’ll get to below.
Okay, deep breath for this one as there’s a bit to unpack. Battery life has always been a bit of a pain point for action cameras. Their smaller form-factor, exposure to different and high performance needs (shooting 4K slow-mo, and so on) means they are constantly battling basic physics. GoPro’s claim then, that the Hero 12 offers “2x runtime” will have seen even the most ragged of outdoor filmers crack a smile. But remember, runtime isn’t the same as “record” time.
What we’re seeing here is an extension of the amount of time the camera can run at high power drain modes before it reaches its thermal limit and has to stop. So the claim is really that you should get about twice the recording time at the most demanding settings. If you’re shooting at good ol’ 1080p/30, for example, battery performance is only extended by a few minutes.
To test this, I pitted the Hero 12 against the Hero 11 in two scenarios, each at the opposite ends of the “intensity” spectrum. On the high end, we set the cameras to record at 4K/120 while walking with the camera on a standard grip. On the other end of the scale we recorded a basic 1080/30 video for as long as the camera could. Both were performed outside to allow for airflow, which is what the camera was optimized for.
The average duration for one continuous video was 35 minutes with the Hero 12 while the Hero 11 came in at just over 20 minutes. Those times are shorter than GoPro's own tests and projections, but mine were in static, slightly hotter conditions thanks to the local weather. Importantly, that represents over a 50 percent improvement over the Hero 11. Whether the conditions were ideal or not is less important than a noticeable difference between the two cameras. Initially, both cameras were giving similar runtimes, but I had left the Hero 12 on higher bitrate settings from previous tests which was bringing it back down to parity with the older camera.
(This section has been updated after further testing: 9/20/23 12:40pm ET)
I don’t think anyone was expecting this one, but it’s a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Using a microphone with a GoPro typically involves using the Media Mod, which is usually an $80 additional purchase. Even with that, going wireless requires having a compatible microphone. With the new Bluetooth capability, you can use the AirPods (or other Bluetooth headset) that you may already own.
I wouldn’t recommend using a microphone over Bluetooth if you can avoid it, as they’re typically designed for calls rather than delivering a standup to camera. That said, the quality is good enough for impromptu vlogs and or live commentary as you take part in your activity of choice. Either way, it’s a neat new feature that’s really easy to set up. I was worried about latency — a common problem with Bluetooth audio generally — but any there might be is barely perceptible.
This functionality also allows you to control your GoPro from afar using voice commands. I might wager that this is equally, if not more useful to a lot of people. GoPro’s voice commands are fairly reliable, so it’s nice to be able to ask the camera to take a photo from a distance so you don’t need to set a timer. Likewise, you can end a video without having to record those final seconds of you walking back to the camera to press the button. All these little time saves add up!
The big news with the Hero 11 Black was a larger sensor that meant you could do cool things like punch out different aspect ratio videos in 4K from the same source material. That source video was also usable on its own, if square-ish 8:7 video was something you needed. With the Hero 12, 8:7 mode is now available everywhere, including TimeWarp, TimeLapse and Night Effects modes.
An 8:7 TimeWarp is a fun addition, but the real gain here is the option to shoot in that mode, capture every pixel available to you, and then have the flexibility to do more with it later. For Night Effects, for example, you could output a vertical version for social media, and a 16:9 one for YouTube and both of them would be in full resolution. This is the only new direct video feature this time around, which will disappoint some potential upgraders, but for fans of those specific modes it’s good news.
Now that 8:7, full-sensor recording is available across the board, GoPro is seeking to make some of its use cases even easier. One such example is vertical capture mode. In short, since the Hero 11 there’s no technical reason why you need to rotate or mount the camera vertically as you can achieve full resolution 9:16 videos even with the camera positioned horizontally.
Essentially, this feature provides a way to record a video for social media without having to either remount it or to punch it out in 9:16 via the app. Thus, vertical capture greatly smooths the process from shooting on the camera to sharing with your followers. There’s not much more to say here other than it works as advertised and should save a fair amount of time for those who use that aspect ratio frequently.
HDR video in ultra-high resolutions
Dynamic range may sound like a technical setting for pro photographers, but it’s important even for casual users. As a camera tries to capture a shot, it will assess the lighting and adjust its exposure to maintain the best balance (unless you’re using all manual settings). When there are bright and dark areas in the same shot, the camera has to make a best guess. To improve on that, modern cameras have HDR modes specifically for times when there’s a “High Dynamic Range (HDR).” In short, the Hero 12 Black claims to be better than its predecessors in these situations.
Technically, the Hero 11 is capable of outputting HDR video (the Hero 12 and Hero 11 share the same internal hardware), but you usually had to do some legwork in post to get there. The Hero 12 has “HDR” as one of the shooting modes right in the menus making it a simple button push to get those more natural tones.
In side by side testing, there’s a marked difference between the Hero 12 and last year’s camera. In the same, sunny conditions during the day I found the sky was sometimes blown out on the Hero 11 when there were also a lot of shaded areas in shot as the camera tries to expose for both. The Hero 12 was able to handle the same lighting conditions without blowing out bright areas or under exposing the shade giving a more balanced image overall.
(Speaking of HDR, the GoPro 12’s implementation isn’t true HDR in the sense that it captures using the BT.2020 HDR color space — i.e., if you plug it into your Samsung HDR TV you won’t see it in HDR, but just regular TV mode. Rather, it takes two images of each frame in quick succession — like bracketing on a photo camera — one exposed for shadows and one for highlights, and combines them into a single image. The end result is more detailed skies, shadowy areas, etc.)
Back in the olden days, there was a light “hack” for getting the best selfie out of a GoPro: put the camera into Time lapse Photo mode and grab multiple shots just to be sure. In newer GoPros you have to grab a frame from a time lapse via the app as the camera automatically outputs a ready-to-share video. Interval Photo, then, revives some of that old functionality in a new, improved way. The basic gist is that you don't need to use a timer, instead you can capture multiple photos and pick the one you like best, such as the one below where I had all the time in the world to perfectly place my hand on top of the towers.
To prevent confusion, Interval Photo is a setting under the Photos menu and not the Time Lapse menu. From there you can set a wide range of intervals — from half a second up to two minutes — and use this with all photo types, including HDR and SuperPhoto (GoPro’s “auto” mode). This differs from a time lapse where the images are processed in a way that prevents sudden changes in exposure between photos for a smooth video. That’s to say, images are optimized for the resulting video. With Interval Photo, they’re standard photos for use as photos with no further processing.
Night Effects come to photos (kinda)
Another feature that builds on something that was introduced in the Hero 11 is the extension of the Night Effects (Star Trails, Vehicle Lights and Light Painting) to create a photo. These three effects use long exposures and witchcraft (maybe) to create videos with these dramatic light-based effects. With the Hero 12, you will now be presented with a photo alongside the video. There’s no extra action required to get this, it’ll just show up in your gallery automatically.
What you won’t see are any controls or any way to choose at which point of the video the image will be extracted from, the image appears to be based on the final frame of the video, which makes sense. That said, in our testing it generally produces good results (assuming your video was good in the first place!). Again, you’ve pretty much always had the option to extract frames from videos and with the Quik app that’s easier than ever before, but having one ready for you, is another welcome convenience.
Steve Dent contributed the following section.
GP-Log is designed to give creators more control over images by increasing dynamic range, specifically by allowing more detail in shadows and highlights. That can be combined with 10-bit encoding which boosts the total number of colors to billions, meaning subtle gradients (mainly in skies) will show less banding.
As ever with log, it can be a challenge to get a nice image out of it. The LUTs supplied by GoPro do an OK job, but significant tweaking is still required by the editor to gain any major benefits. Plus, it’s not a very aggressive log setting, so the boost in dynamic range is small, akin to DJI’s D-Log M setting. It does give editors who know what they’re doing more options, but if you’re unfamiliar with log, HDR is a much easier way to improve dynamic range – with no adjustments required.
New mounting option
If you’ve been using GoPros for any amount of time, you’ll be familiar with the “finger” mount system. It’s… fine. It’s certainly sturdy, which is what you want in an action camera, but it’s also fiddly and those thumb screws can get real tight, so tight that sometimes it feels personal. Sometimes you wish you could just use the tripod or selfie pole you already have without having to dip into your bag of adapters. Well, now you can.
Flip the GoPro Hero 12 Black over and lo and behold, you’ll be presented with a 1/4 inch thread (along with the sound of angels harmonizing, possibly). I have a bunch of the aforementioned GoPro-to-tripod mount adapters, but I can never seem to find them when I need them. I also have a bunch of small tripods that will get a lot more usage now that they are directly compatible with the GoPro. Not to mention, if you use your GoPro as a webcam, it’s not a lot easier to use with other streaming mounts and boom arms. I’m not sure what it says about the Hero 12 when this is my personal favorite new feature, but here we are!
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/gopro-hero-12-review-new-features-143039315.html?src=rss
Nikon has unveiled its latest full-frame camera, the 24.5-megapixel Zf with retro style and technology borrowed from the company's high-end Z8 and Z9 cameras. With a new sensor and processor, it promises powerful features like 14-fps max shooting speeds, advanced AI autofocus and 4K 60p video. At the same time, it's a highly manual camera with a lot of old-school touches and multiple colorways, all designed to touch that vintage-loving nerve.
The body and handling emphasizes manual controls, with no less than five dials on top to control shooting mode, video/photo/B&W, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. It also has a pair of shooting dials front and back and a D-pad style controller, but no joystick. The "grip" is just a small ridge. With all that, the Zf really does look like a an old school Nikon film camera — right down to the chrome-plated shutter release button.
The Zf's magnesium-alloy body is smallish, but not very light at 710 grams (Sony's A7 IV is 659 grams). It does offer "high dust- and drip-resistance" though, Nikon says.
The high-resolution 2.1-million-dot vari-angle touch display fully articulates for vlogging and selfies, while allowing touch function controls and focus point selection. For astro shooters, it has a "Starlight view mode" that boosts display brightness in dark scenes. Meanwhile, the OLED viewfinder has a decent 3.68-million dot resolution and 0.8 times magnification.
It has two card slots, but with a serious caveat. One is a high-speed UHS-II card slot, but the other is a UHS-I microSD slot — the only model with that combo as far as I know. The battery is a weak point, offering only 380 shots on a charge, compared to 580 for the Sony A7 IV. Other features include a USB 3.2 Gen1 port with charging support, mic/headphone ports and a micro HDMI connector.
Inside, it has a backside-illuminated (BSI) 24.5-megapixel sensor and Expeed 7 processor borrowed from the high-end Z models. That gives it autofocus powers akin to the Z8, including Nikon's 3-D tracking plus AI-powered subject detection that can find people, dogs, cats, birds, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trains and planes. It'll even detect far-away faces that take up as little as 3 percent of the frame's longest side.
As for image quality, the standard ISO range of 100 to 64,000 promises good low-light capability, and it has a pixel shifting mode that boosts resolution up to 96-megapixels for static scenes. In line with the retro styling, Nikon has a dedicated black & white mode (with its own dial setting), that enables multiple monochromatic settings ranging from flat to high-contrast "Deep Tone Monochrome."
It can hit 11fps shooting speeds in RAW mode (14fps with JPEGs) in electronic shutter mode (Nikon doesn't list specs for mechanical shutter) and offers a reduced-quality 30fps JPEG-only mode with a pre-burst option to ensure you won't miss a shot. The five-axis IBS (or vibration reduction, as Nikon calls it) reduces shake by up to 8 stops with a supported lens. Stabilization can be linked to the focus point, rather than just the center of the image as with most systems.
On the video side, the Zf can record full-frame 4K at 30p from a supersampled 6K image, or 4K60p with a DX (1.5 times) crop, along with 1080p/120p. Video can be captured with 10-bit H.265 recording, which will give users better color fidelity and more options in post. However, H.265 files require a powerful computer, meaning you might have to convert them to another format for editing.
Based on the specs, the Nikon Zf looks like a solid camera that can compete against models like Panasonic's S5 II and Sony's A7 IV. However, it sets itself apart from those models based on its retro styling and manual controls, which should appeal to a certain segment of buyers. The Nikon Zf arrives in October 2023 at a competitive $2,000 price for the body only, or $2,240 with the retro-styled Nikkor Z40 f/2.0 SE lens. If you want one of the other colors (Indigo Blue, Sepia Brown, Bordeaux Red, Sunset Orange, Moss Green, StoneGray), you'll pay $2,100 for the body only.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nikons-zf-full-frame-camera-puts-speed-and-video-power-in-a-retro-body-092033908.html?src=rss