Earlier this year, I wrote a detailed review of the Sony A7R, where I expressed a number of serious concerns with the camera, some of which were serious enough to be categorized as “deal breakers”. Soon after, Sony announced the much-anticipated A7R II mirrorless camera, a second iteration of the high-resolution line of A7-series cameras. Although many of us knew what to expect from the A7R II based on what we have previously seen on the Sony A7 II, there was new technology incorporated into the A7R II to make it a very appealing camera among both enthusiasts and professionals. Just like the A7 II, the A7R II gained five-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and a different ergonomic design with a much more comfortable to hand-hold protruded grip. And those are relatively minor changes compared to the changes from the original A7R. Not only does the A7R II get a faster and much more reliable AF system with a whopping 399 focus points, but it also gains a brand new 42 MP back-illuminated (BSI) sensor. In addition, Sony addressed the serious shutter-shock issue by not only reducing the overall noise and vibration caused by the shutter mechanism, but also by introducing an electronic front-curtain shutter release option, which completely gets rid of shutter-related blur in images. And lastly, with the latest firmware upgrade, the Sony A7R II also gained the ability to shoot uncompressed RAW, giving the ability to take a full advantage of the sensor. I have been shooting with the Sony A7R II since it was announced, so let’s take a closer look at the Sony A7R II and see how it performed both in real world and lab environments.
Just like many other Nikon shooters, you might be wondering what Nikon has got up its sleeve when it comes to mirrorless. With so many manufacturers now competing in the mirrorless market, it is sorely disappointing to see Nikon being stuck with its 1″ CX sensor mirrorless offering, which despite its many strengths, is far from gaining popularity among enthusiasts and professionals. Unfortunately, for some manufacturers like Samsung, jumping into the mirrorless bandwagon has been challenging to say the least. Despite very strong offerings like the Samsung NX1, the company has not been able to gain a solid market share to stay afloat and its “mirrorless experiment” seems to be coming to an end, with the company’s announcements to discontinue sales of its products in a number of countries. In fact, based on these events, the future of Samsung’s NX line does not look good at all. But there is hope – today’s rumors indicate that Nikon is doing something completely unexpected, which is buying the Samsung NX mirrorless technology. According to Mirrorless Rumors, Nikon has already acquired the technology and the official announcement will be revealed in January of 2016, at the CES.
We have been asking folks at JPEGmini to give our readers a heavy discount and our request has been fulfilled! Today only, starting at around 9 PM Eastern Time, B&H will be hosting a mega sale on the Deal Zone for JPEGmini Pro. The software will be heavily discounted from its $149 price to only $59.99! That’s a killer price for this software package that will optimize your JPEG image library and compress it without losing quality. I have written extensively about JPEGmini at PL and you can see my original JPEGmini Pro Review, along with the last two posts on how JPEGmini can help in reducing your storage needs.
B&H has two killer deals available today for DxO OpticsPro 10 Elite Edition ($99.50) and X-Rite ColorChecker Passport ($49), which have been heavily discounted by 50% (both deals expire tonight). I have never seen these packages priced with such a heavy discount, so it is a good opportunity to grab both before the price goes back to normal.
A killer Black Friday-only deal from our friends at B&H Photo Video today only (ends in 6 hours!) – a brand new Apple 15.4″ MacBook Pro with Retina for $1,599 with free shipping. That’s a whopping $700 discount on a high-end laptop. This thing is a beast, because it comes with a 2.5 Ghz Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of PCIe-Based Flash Storage and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU. It will easily handle pretty much anything you throw at it and it will run both Lightroom and Photoshop smoothly. Definitely a great deal we highly recommend!
Starting from today until December 1, 2015, we have all the products on sale. The Sensor Gel Stick (both versions) is discounted by 10%, while the Sticky Paper is discounted to $9.99. The biggest sale is on our Level 1 Photography Basics – it has been discounted to $99 ($149 regular price) and the USB version is $20 more.
Although Tamron pioneered the release of the first 150-600mm lens, Sigma followed suit by releasing two versions of lenses with exactly the same focal length and aperture ranges. The smaller and lighter version, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary (the one we are reviewing today), targets the same market as the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, while the much larger and heavier “Sport” version is something unique to Sigma, with no other equivalent competing offers from any other manufacturer. Being able to reach 600mm without spending a lot of money has been a big dream of many wildlife photographers on a budget, because anything close to the 600mm range typically translates to a very large expense – as much as $12K for the latest generation 600mm f/4 lenses. While the current 150-600mm lenses cannot offer the maximum aperture of f/4, they give a huge focal range to work with, which can be particularly useful when photographing subjects at varying distances. As many 600mm prime lens owners know, shooting with long glass is not an easy task due to both weight and atmospheric haze concerns. Such lenses can be quite limiting when the action is close, such as when photographing bears in Alaska, or taking pictures on an African safari. For such occasions, many pros love the 200-400mm f/4 lenses, because they give that flexibility to shoot action at both close and long distances. However, the high cost and the weight concerns are still there, making such lenses prohibitive for budget-conscious enthusiasts and pros who prefer shooting hand-held. And that’s when the 150-600mm lenses come to the rescue, offering great performance in a lightweight and relatively low-budget package. At just over $1K and a total weight of 1930 grams (4.25 pounds), the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a very attractive lens for sports and wildlife photographers. In this review, we will be taking a closer look at this lens and compare it to the Tamron 150-600mm lens that we previously reviewed and loved.
With the Black Friday and Cyber Monday super-sale days approaching, manufacturers and retailers have been making advanced preparations to make it more than just a single day or two-day sale event. Today, both Nikon and Canon are offering something truly appealing for those who are just starting out. The Nikon D3200 combo with two kit lenses is discounted by a whopping $480 to bring the deal down to $396.95, which is a steal! If you have family members who are interested in photography (I am thinking of buying this kit for my son), this would make a very nice holiday gift. And price-wise, the 55-200mm VR II alone retails for $350 and if you add the price of the 18-55mm VR II, you are already at $600, so in this case, Nikon is not only giving away the D3200, but you are also getting a $200 reward for buying this entry-level kit!
Ever since I published my JPEGmini review and subsequent articles like the last one on reducing backup storage needs, I have received some emails and comments from concerned readers, who do not understand the point of using JPEG compression software, particularly when there are other existing commercial or free tools available. In this article, I would like to address some of these concerns and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the JPEGmini software.
Determining the ideal JPEG quality setting in both Photoshop and Lightroom can be challenging, because we often see two different values to choose from. Photoshop gives us compression levels from 0 to 12 when saving JPEG images through the “Save” or “Save As” dialog, while Lightroom only allows us to input a percentage. While percentages are easier to understand than numbers from 0 to 12, as we relate to 100% being the “best image quality” easier, Adobe also created a confusion as to what number represents what percentage, since the ranges of numbers are not provided in any of the help documents. The truth is, the percentages we see in Lightroom do not really scale from real 0 to 100 in single digits. Adobe simply mapped the 0 to 12 scale to the percentage scale. This ultimately means that changing from one number to another, like from 85% to 90% might make no difference whatsoever in compression or image size, while changing from 84% to 85% would make a big difference.