Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Canon G3 X Review

Canon G3 X

One of Canon's most popular compact cameras is the SX series (SX710 HS, SX700 HX, etc.). In a compact rectangular box form, you get lots of zoom... more than the competition even. The SX 710 HS and cameras like it  are generally casual shooter cameras, made for photographers who like the idea of a "big spec" camera but who aren't in love with the larger size requirements of a traditional DSLR-like bridge camera. Very often, the buyer of a big zoom EVF-less compact really only wants a compact camera, but is lured by the promise of the big spec number... E.g. "30x zoom, 50X zoom, etc.

To that end, the Canon G3 X is the high-end version of this concept, much like how the G7 X is the high-end embodiment of the S120. Canon, being the largest player in the camera market can afford to do multiple segments as such, whereas the rest of the industry is consolidating onto a few key products. From a casual consumer perspective, a smaller EVF-less large sensor camera seems like a good idea, but from an enthusiast shooter's point of view, the point-and-shoot style layout would be viewed politely as a brave choice. Given the sales success of the G7 X, can the G3 X do the same?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Nikon D7200 vs Sony A7 Mark II

Left: Nikon D7200 with Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS   Right: Sony A7mII with FE 24-70mm f/4

Following the previous post that looked at the Nikon D750 versus the Sony A7 Mark II, two initial conditions can be roughly established:

  • The Nikon D7200 is roughly one stop less in image quality (noise, dynamic range) relative to the D750 by virtue of its smaller sensor. Both cameras show JPEG rendering improvements over their predecessors due to the current generation of Nikon EXPEED processors.
  • The Sony A7 Mark II, even though it is using a similar (but not identical) sensor is not as good as the Nikon D750 with out of camera JPEG's, and is limited by its compressed 11-bit RAW format

One wonders: how does the crop-frame D7200 compare to the full-frame Sony A7 Mark II? That might seem like a absurd question; of course full frame is better than APS-C. What's really the crux of the issue is whether or not Nikon's execution of APS-C can keep pace with Sony's implementation of full frame. The results might surprise you....

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Nikon D750 vs Sony A7 Mark II

Left: Nikon D750     Right: Sony A7 Mark II


The Nikon D750 and Sony A7 Mark II  are the zeitgeist of the 2015.... at least as far as the camera manufacturers would prefer. Nikon and Canon have been trying to move their enthusiast shooters upmarket as far as possible, and for Nikon, that means switching users from APS-C to full frame. Sony, even if they aren't being accused of it, is also doing the same thing, as there as been a marked proliferation of full frame FE-mount lenses in 2014-2015 at a time when their traditional APS-C E-mount lens range has remained stagnant. In other words, these two cameras are representative of how the camera companies are trying to shape the camera market.

For all of the little stumbles (shaded flare issue and one firmware update) that the D750 has gone through, it is probably the best refined concept of what a DSLR could be at the moment.... capable, full featured and most importantly in this day and age, smaller and lighter than what came before. It's not perfect, but it is pretty much excellent at the core of what it is.

The Sony A7 Mark II is a more ambitious device, and arguably representative of what the future of cameras will be. It is an improvement over the first A7, a good camera that had more than a few Version 1.0 traits, but compared to the many, many times that Nikon has iterated their serious DSLR range, the Sony is still the new comer on the black. Smaller body, built in image stabilization, on-chip phase detection during live view. All of these are useful and crowd pleasing, but do they add up against the tried-and-true DSLR form factor?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sony RX100 Mark IV Review

Sony RX100 Mark IV

The Sony RX100M3 was one of the best received cameras for first time shoppers and young families looking for something to take quality photos with.

Wait, what?

The RX100 cameras have never been inexpensive, but since the very beginning they have been universally well regarded. Even if they are loaded with specs that appeal to hardcore enthusiasts, the product line has successfully crossed over from high-end enthusiast to mass-market consumer. This is is no small feat; there are many good cameras, but few at the higher end compel casual shooters.

Taking a step back, the camera industry has gone through a sea-change these past few years. It used to be that if you wanted quality you bought a DSLR, and if you wanted portability you bought a compact. Mirrorless and high end compacts have changed that and made for more choice in between. Whereas before casual shoppers spend somewhere between $500 to $700 USD for an entry-level DSLR, they are now more likely to spend the same amount on a mirrorless camera or a RX100M3. It's a rational choice; for almost the same quality as a DSLR from 3-4 years previous, you get a smaller and more compact system.

The RX100M4, however, will likely not follow in that tend. When it comes to high end products, Sony deliberately aims for the top of the market with their halo products. That was true for the previous iterations of this camera, but there are diminishing gains to contend with. the RX100M4 has cutting edge technology and performance. Conceivably, one day it too will be an older camera that is overshadowed by the next biggest thing, but even when that day comes, its  biggest competition will still be its predecessor.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Nikon ME-W1 Review


Nikon's ME-W1 is an affordable wireless microphone that has some interesting options. The device works by BlueTooth and has a transmitter with an omni-directional microphone; both transmitter and receiver have input ports for hooking up other microphones to the apparatus. It's a promising option for the hobbyist, but does it deliver?