The Lytro is the first commercially available light-field camera. There’s been a lot of buzz (and even controversy) surrounding this revolutionary focus-later device, but it’s not clear whether this is an important development or just a gimmick. Frederick interviewed the folks at Lytro before the camera was released, and now I’ve spent two weeks putting it through its paces, learning about the science and technology of light-field photography, and figuring out whether you might want to own one. Watch the review on All About the Gear.
The Nikon DF (for “Digital fusion”) is at first glance the technology of a Nikon D4 sensor (at half the price of a D4) in a D600-class body that touts compatibility with classic Nikkor lenses. But that’s just the full half of the glass.
I spent three weeks with this strange beast and while I love the image quality and compatibility with old lenses, it’s an ergonomic disaster. Frederick probes deeper to discover both the half-full and half-empty attributes of Nikon’s play in the retro-camera world.
Olympus claim the OM-D E-M1 has the fastest autofocus of any camera, but is that really true? The E-M1 also has a new 16MP sensor, but does it deliver better images than the popular OM-D E-M5, which now sells for almost half the price? Check out the latest episode of All About the Gear.
I’d like to welcome our new sponsor and partner, Hunt’s Photo and Video. If you click on the image below it will take you to a special offer to save $200 on the OM-D E-M1 + lens through February 28, 2014.
The long-anticipated Sony a7 and a7R have been called the cameras of the year by some. I was an early fanboy, but does the a7 live up to the hype and my expectations?
The a7 and a7R are the first full-frame, mirrorless, autofocusing interchangeable-lens cameras. Together, they’re strong competitors for the Leica 240 and the Nikon D800E. But the native lens selection is meager. The sweet spot may be to combine the new Sonys with third-party lenses.
Frederick Van Johnson and I explore the Sony QX10 and QX100 “lens cameras” in this episode of All About the Gear.
Once again, Sony is showing that it’s not afraid to innovate and put out breakthrough products that might be a bit ahead of their time. The QX cameras are definitely in that category. Not yet ready for prime time, they may be more an indication of what’s to come than the end of a line.
In this episode of All About the Gear, Frederick Van Johnson and I discuss the Panasonic Lumix GX7.
The GX7 is competing for top honors in the world of micro four-thirds (MFT) cameras, particularly against the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the new E-M1. Continue reading
The Sony RX100 II has been called by many the best pocket camera. In this episode of All About the Gear, Frederick Van Johnson and I explore why.
End of the year means “out with the old and in with the new”. As I downsize from big Nikons to the Sony Alphas and upsize from the NEX series, I’ve got some gear to sell.
- Nikon D600 w/24-85mm lens $1,500 (original box, etc.)
- Nikon 18-200mm G VR $325
- Nikon 24mm f/2.8 D $200 (original box, etc.)
- Nikon 35mm f/2 D $250 (original box, etc.)
- Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D $75 (original box, etc.)
- Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G $425 (original box, etc.)
- Nikon 135mm f/2 DC $950 (a very unique lens!)
- Sony NEX-7 w/18-55mm lens $850 (original box, etc.)
Sony 50mm f.1.8 $200
- Really Right Stuff D600 L-bracket $120
- Really Right Stuff D000 L-bracket $100
- Canon S95 $150 (original box, etc.)
Although much of the buzz this year has been about small, mirrorless cameras, the big-boy DSLR makers (Nikon and Canon) haven’t been entirely asleep at the switch. The new Canon 70D is most notable for it’s groundbreaking Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus sensor, which is used in video and Live View modes. The Canon 70D and an explanation of autofocus technologies are the topics of this episode of All About the Gear.
This image I made of a very popular location here in Marin County, California, generated a lot of online feedback. Because I used such a variety of post-processing tools and techniques, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to explain the workflow here. This presentation is an experiment and I look forward to hearing what you think of this format, particularly compared to screencasts and videos.
The slideshow below contains an image for each step in my process. If you hover over it you can pause it or move it forward or back. Below the slideshow is a scrolling area with the corresponding explanations. Click on any image to see it 2x larger. It should work on your mobile devices, too.
In a to-be-published edition of All About the Gear (#9, Canon 70D) I explain the differences between all the autofocus technologies: contrast, phase-detect & cross-type and Canon’s new Dual Pixel system. It’s a complicated and important enough topic that I’ve decided it’s worth a blog post all its own.
We had high expectations for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a remake of the 1947 film starring Danny Kaye. The new version is directed by and stars Ben Stiller, who was present (along with an entourage of producers and 20th Century Fox executives) at the Mill Valley Film Festival closing-night screening. This was only the second time the film had been seen by the public, the first having been at the New York Film Festival.
In the end, we were disappointed. This is a major production, being heavily promoted for a Christmas release. It’s a “pretty good” movie, but left us feeling that it lacked a certain energy.
There are so many good films set in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it’s almost become a genre all its own. (One we loved was a documentary in 2010 called My Precious Life.) But because there have been so many, the bar has been set fairly high for new ones. Five years ago at the Mill Valley Film Festival, we were treated to director Eran Riklis‘s marvelous Lemon Tree. The producers of Zaytoun, (“olive” in Arabic) convinced Riklis to direct another film in this genre, and while it’s certainly a well-done film, it doesn’t quite measure up to his earlier work.
Last night we were treated to the North American premiere of Taru Mäkelä‘s new feature, August Fools. It turned out to be one of the very best films at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival. Films from Finland are often some of our favorites, but they’re typically dark and gritty like the great 2009 Helsinki. Even the Finnish comedies tend to be on the dark side. August Fools skirts the edges of that tradition as a smart, uplifting comedy set in the dark context of the Cold War.
Writer/director/editor Hirokazu Koreeda‘s latest feature Like Father, Like Son (Japanese with English subtitles) won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which primed us with high expectations. Many others at the screening just loved it. I found it to be a very competent and even satisfying film, but not one I’d suggest you go out of your way to see, particularly given how many truly terrific films we’ve already seen at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival.
I don’t shoot a lot of panoramas, but I’ve always been curious about the GigaPan robotic camera mounts that automate capturing complex panoramas that include hundreds or even thousands of individual images. Thanks to BorrowLenses.com, I was able to get hold of one to test for episode #6 of All About the Gear.
This is the fourth film adaptation of Knut Hamsun‘s 1898 Norwegian novel, Victoria. The story is familiar: boy and girl from opposite sides of the tracks since childhood just can’t seem to overcome the social differences keeping them apart in young adulthood. But don’t let this seeming predictability keep you away. This is an excellent film — one of the best I’ve seen this year. (In Norwegian with English subtitles.)
One of my personal guidelines when selecting films to see at a festival is to avoid anything with “coming of age” in the description. Based on the glowing reviews for Farah Goes Bang at this year’s Mill Valley Film Festival and the fact that it won the Nora Ephron Award at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. I thought I’d take my chances. Fail. I think I’ll re-institute my policy next year.
Some films are almost impossible to categorize, and Imagine, written and directed by Andrzej Jakimowski, is one of them. It’s about a blind teacher, Ian (Edward Hogg) who brings controversial techniques to an institute for the blind. Instead of using canes to get around, he teaches echolocation, the use of sounds like heels on pavement and tongue clicks as a type of SONAR to identify objects and hazards. The kids and the management of the institute are quite skeptical of his techniques, but he persists.