Nikon has just announced the Nikon 1 V3, an update to the existing Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless camera that was released two years ago. Unlike many of the recent camera introductions which have been relatively small improvements over previous versions, the Nikon 1 V3 is a substantial rework and renewal of the Nikon 1 V2 and frankly, the changes appear to be exciting. First, is a new sensor with more resolution (18.4 MP), better ISO sensitivity (12,800) and a new EXPEED 4A processor to accompany it. Second, there is an improved hybrid autofocus system which incorporates 171 autofocus points (171 points for contrast detection and 105 points for phase detection) for fast and accurate focus acquisition and tracking. For comparison, the V2 uses 135 focus points (135 for contrast and 73 for phase-detect). These alone would be nice improvements, but Nikon went further and improved the frame rate to a WHOPPING 20 fps at full resolution AND full autofocus. To put that into perspective, the new D4s which costs $6500 “only” shoots at the rate of 11 fps. Why stop there? How about a new tilting touch screen monitor with higher resolution than the previous V2? Finally, throw in built-in WiFi and you’ve made not just an incremental upgrade, but a totally new camera.
In this follow-up article to the mirrorless camera comparison, I will be comparing high-end options available on the market today from different manufacturers. While the mirrorless market has not shown healthy growth in the US and Europe lately, it is just a matter of time before the new technology makes its way into our daily lives and starts replacing lower-end/small sensor DSLRs. High cost is still an issue for now, but considering that mirrorless cameras use far less components than DSLRs, we will soon start seeing them at very attractive prices. In fact, many mirrorless camera models already have seen significant price decreases (remember the ridiculous Nikon 1 V1 $299 price drop?) and we will be seeing a lot more of that in the next few years. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing the top of the line mirrorless cameras on the market, specifically designed for professionals and photo enthusiasts that look for the best image quality, features, autofocus performance and a solid lens selection. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras and their published specifications.
|High-End Mirrorless Cameras #1||Fujifilm X-T1||Nikon 1 V2||Olympus OM-D E-M1||Panasonic Lumix GH4|
|* Denotes PL Subjective Rating|
|Lens Mount||Fuji X||Nikon 1||Micro 4/3||Micro 4/3|
|Announcement Date||Jan 2014||Oct 2012||Sep 2013||Feb 2014|
|Sensor Size (Diagonal)||28.3mm||15.9mm||21.7mm||21.7mm|
|Megapixels||16.3 MP||14.2 MP||16.3 MP||16.05 MP|
|Movie Recording||1920×1080 @ 60p||1920×1080 @ 60i||1920×1080 @ 30p||4096×2160 @ 24p|
|Native Lenses Available||12||11||16||19|
|Third Party Lenses||8||0||33||30|
|Image Quality (10)*||8||5||6||6|
|Autofocus Speed (5)*||5||5||5||5|
|Image Stabilization (5)*||4||4||5||4|
|Manual Focus (5)*||5||3||5||5|
|System Compactness (5)*||4||4||5||5|
|EVF Mil Dots / Quality (5)*||2.36 / 5||1.44 / 4||2.36 / 5||2.36 / 5|
|Build Quality (5)*||5||5||5||5|
|Design and UI (5)*||5||4||5||4|
|Manufacturer Link||Fujifilm X-T1||Nikon 1 V2||OM-D E-M1||Lumix GH4|
Before everybody kills me about hand-holding, I just have to say this – I was doing some personal testing / photography and wanted to see what this combination could do for me. So please be kind to me :) Let me be clear, the Nikon D4 is a dream camera and I loved that camera to death. I got the D4s, because a friend wanted my D4, so this deal worked out for both of us. Upon purchase, I found it hard to believe the D4 could be improved upon and it’s still too early for me to make a conclusion on that, as I have only had the camera for 2 days. I feel there is an improvement in ISO noise at higher levels, however, the new focusing system got me interested in this camera and today’s trip to the coast to shoot some owls was all about giving me a feel for what was possible. I hand-held this combination a lot today, because I tend to do that when shooting and I wanted to know if I could do it with the 800mm and also get a feel for the D4s abilities. Anyway, here are some real world shots from me, good or bad, it was awesome fun and I got some shots I am very happy with.
I think the Nikon D4s and 800mm might be a marriage made in heaven for me. The Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E snapped into focus on everything I threw at it and I feel it did better than the D4, which I wouldn’t have believed possible.
The first photo sample was taken just after sunrise. The mink was a fast little critter and hard to shoot, only showing himself for seconds at a time – I was panning to get this shot.
In this review, I will talk about my experience and impressions with using perhaps the finest tripod head I have seen to date, the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube. Targeted specifically at macro, architecture and landscape photographers that need ultra high precision, with the ability to handle large and heavy cameras, the “Cube” is a very specialized, high-end tool. It has been on the market for a few years and went through several changes. The version I tested is the most current model and this particular review is for the Flip-Lock quick release type head – the one that had the most problems (more on this below). As of today, Arca-Swiss manufactures two types of the Cube: one with the the “Flip-Lock” clamp and one with a “Classic” screw-knob clamp, both of which are capable of securely attaching Arca-Swiss compatible plates, rails and other accessories.
While Tom Redd and I are still waiting for the Nikon D4s sample to arrive next week, our wildlife guru Robert Anderson has already gotten a hold of the D4s and has been testing out his new favorite toy today. Rob was kind enough to send me some image samples from the camera at high ISO settings: 6400, 12800 and 25600. As you may already know, the Nikon D4s pushed the maximum “native” sensitivity level by a full stop from 12800 on the D4 to 25600. While some image samples and comparisons for the D4s have been available on the Internet, many of them lacked consistency to be able to do a more thorough comparison. Therefore, I asked Rob to take pictures of a real scene after sunset, shooting on a tripod at different ISO levels. Below you will find two different scenes that Rob graciously provided for our readers to enjoy. While we do not yet have comparisons of the Nikon D4s to the D4, we will post those comparisons as soon as we get a hold of the D4s next week!
Take a look at the below images from the first scene:
For the past couple of months, we have been working hard on creating a community-based site, where our readers could share their work, engage with others and advance their photography skills. We are happy to announce our first milestone – our community forums! For now we created sections related to Nature and Wildlife, Landscape, Portrait, Wedding, Street and Architecture, Macro and Sports Photography and going forward as we grow, we will be expanding to even more sections and sub-sections, work on creating interest groups, etc. For those that want to Buy and Sell their gear, there is now a dedicated section where our readers could create “want to buy”, “for sale” and “for exchange” threads to trade photography gear.
Thanks to the tax season in the USA, manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic have been aggressively pushing their sales, offering great rebates for cameras, lenses and accessories. So if you are looking for a good deal, now is a good opportunity to save some money (I do not expect to see good rebates / savings until the end of the year). Let’s start with Nikon. The good news is, Nikon has extended its lens savings program until March 29, 2014 and is now offering more rebates for those that are looking for camera + lens combo savings. These combo savings include such cameras as Nikon D3100, D3200, D5200, D5300, D7000, D7100. D610, D800/D800E and Df. Most of these cameras currently already have instant rebates and if you combine them with some lenses, you can save up to $680 off. Unfortunately, the lens selection is pretty small and mostly includes DX lenses. There is only one FX lens offered (70-300mm VR), from which you can slice off another $200, bringing the price down to under $400. You can access the rebates through the “Buy together and Save” link.
This is an in-depth review of the Linhof 3D Micro Leveling Head with dovetail track, a high-end precision geared tripod head specifically designed for handling medium to large format cameras and other specialized rails for macro and architectural photography. Fitted with an Arca-Swiss compatible screw-knob clamp, this specific version is designed to fit any kind of Arca-Swiss plate or rail (there is also another version of the same head, but with a quick-release “Quickfix” adapter that can be mounted directly to a camera).
After testing out the Manfrotto 405 Pro geared head, I realized that I needed something more precise and stable with no “play” whatsoever. Unfortunately, when it comes to professional gear heads, there are not that many options on the market today. Once you get into the high-end geared head territory, there are only three products on the market – the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube, the Photo Clam Multiflex (which is basically a Korean copy of the Cube) and the Linhof 3D Micro. When I pointed out that I was planning to review the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube and see if it would be suitable for my needs, one of our readers sent me some information about the Linhof 3D Micro and pointed out the fact that it uses an Arca-Swiss compatible screw-knob clamp. This immediately caught my attention, because the C1 Cube has been known to have an odd quick-release clamp that went through several revisions. I always prefer to use screw-knob clamps instead of quick-release versions, because some manufacturers like Really Right Stuff deviate from the original standard, which can create problems. As a result, I decided to test out both the C1 Cube and the Linhof 3D Micro to see which one would best suit my needs.
In this review, I will summarize my findings from about a month of use of both heads and discuss pros and cons of the Linhof 3D Micro, particularly when compared to the Arca-Swiss C1 Cube.
After I published the article on the recommended settings for the Nikon D600 / D610, I received plenty of requests from our readers that asked me to write a similar article for the Nikon D800 and D800E cameras. Since I own and use both frequently, I decided to expand the series to other cameras (and I do have plans to publish similar articles for Canon DSLRs as well). In this article, I want to provide some information on what settings I use and shortly explain what some of the important settings do. Please do keep in mind that while these work for me, it does not mean that everyone else should be shooting with exactly the same settings. The below information is provided as a guide for those that struggle and just want to get started with a basic understanding of menu settings.
One of our readers recently asked me to provide my settings from the Nikon D600 / D610 cameras that I use for my photography needs. While at first I thought that it was an odd request, it got me into thinking that many photographers probably get lost trying to dig through the many menu options. Since I have been shooting with Nikon for a number of years now, those settings are very easy for me to understand and I apply them over and over again for each camera that I work with. In this article, I want to provide some information on what settings I use and shortly explain what some of the important settings do. Please do keep in mind that while these work for me, it does not mean that everyone else should be shooting with exactly the same settings. The below information is provided as a guide for those that struggle and just want to get started with a basic understanding of menu settings.