First Impressions: Hasselblad X1D II (Better in Every Way Possible)

The Hasselblad X1D II has a bigger emphasis on improving many of the problems of the first camera.

Photographers who went ahead and purchased the original Hasselblad X1D will be happy that they bought into the system; because the Hasselblad X1D II is promising to not only be much more affordable but is supposed to best its predecessor in every way possible. Hasselblad admitted to us in our press preview of the camera that they did everything that they could with the hardware. But there are limitations. With the Hasselblad X1D II, the company is looking to up its ante across the field. Still, a camera designed for the photographer on the go that needs medium format quality and performance, one of the coolest things that they’re doing is making a very useful tethering solution via the iPad. This is bound to be useful when on location with a producer/creative director/client over your shoulder. We had under an hour to play with the new Hasselblad X1D II recently, and here are our initial thoughts.

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First Impressions: Fujifilm GFX 100 (And Why It Needed IBIS)

The Fujifilm GFX 100 features a 102MP sensor with image stabilization and backside illumination.

Last week, Fujifilm invited us to a top secret briefing on the west side of Manhattan where they unveiled the long-awaited addition to the company’s Medium Format Mirrorless camera lineup: the Fujifilm GFX 100. We had seen renderings of the GFX100 before and even got to fondle a mockup of it in Las Vegas during WPPI, but this is the first time that we got to spend some hands-on time with the genuine article itself, albeit in pre-production but near-final trim. The star of the Medium Format GFX 100 show is the brand new 102 MP sensor that is not only backside illuminated but also stabilized. In fact, it’s the first medium format digital camera to have image stabilization on the sensor.

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Camera Review: Fujifilm X-T30 (Honey, Fuji Shrunk the X-T3!)

lightweight mirrorless cameras

The Fujifilm X-T30 is a more affordable and shrunken down version of the highly regarded X-T3, albeit with a few caveats

While most of the digital imaging industry has been concentrating their efforts on introducing Full Frame Mirrorless cameras for the better part of the past year, photographers that prefer lighter and more compact Crop Sensor bodies got some new hotness of their very own to lust after in the form of the Fujifilm X-T3 and the Sony A6400. Both flagship APS-C cameras have proven to be massively popular for consumers to professionals alike, but what if you wanted the same level of performance but in an even svelter and more condensed package? As luck would have it, the engineers over at Fujifilm managed to answer that question with the X-T30, the company’s latest compact Crop Sensor Mirrorless camera. Fujifilm managed to incorporate almost all of the best of breed innovations found within the X-T3 into the XT30 while bringing both the size and the cost down. After spending a few short hours with the pre-production sample during the top-secret press briefing when the X-T30 first launched, Fujifilm was kind enough to provide a final production model of the camera to us so that we can evaluate in comprehensively in typical Phoblographer fashion.

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Review: Canon EOS RP (Well Worth the Money for Almost $1,200)

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The Canon EOS RP isn’t at all a bad camera; and it’s bound to flood the market during the holiday season.

When I look at and think about the Canon EOS RP, I see the strategy for Canon that they’ve been imparting for many years. Said strategy goes something like this: bundle the camera with a printer and a lens and do an instant rebate with the retailers to simply move the product. Then also add in an adapter for EF mount lenses. Do this around the holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Black Friday. As much as this camera may be designed to flood the market, it honestly isn’t all that bad of a choice. The Canon EOS RP is a good entry level camera and perhaps one that photographers first picking up a dedicated device can grow with for a long time. And for those who ask if there is an auto mode and who don’t want to worry about anything else, you can do that too while the rest of us make horrified faces at you.

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Review: Sony a6400 (The Sony a9 with an APS-C Sensor)

The Sony A6400 packs near-A9 level AF tech into a compact Crop Sensor package.

Up until recently, Sony’s focus seemed to rest with their Full Frame mirrorless cameras, but the Japanese consumer electronics giant reaffirmed their commitment towards APS-C cameras when they announced the A6400 back in January of this year. Featuring the company’s latest advancements in autofocus technologies, the Sony A6400 is positioned interestingly between the existing A6300 and crop sensor flagship A6500. It’s not quite the halo product some were hoping for, but it is certainly no slouch by any measure.

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Review: Leica Q2 (Almost a Perfect Camera, But Still Not There)

The Leica Q2 on paper showed a whole lot of promise; but in real life practice it didn’t surprise as much as its predecessor.

When I first got the Leica Q2 in my hands, I really wondered if Leica had created a perfect full frame point and shoot. And in some ways, I think that they did; but in other ways I believe that it wasn’t thought out fully despite the big deal of it being given some of the best weather sealing on the market. Targeted as a backup camera for professional photographers and as a camera for photographers who want to travel a lot, the Leica Q2 offers a lot. In addition to the tank-like exterior, it boasts a 47.3MP full frame sensor in addition to a high resolution EVF. The focal length is still a 28mm f1.7 lens but this time it is not only weather sealed but offers optical image stabilization. The camera can also shoot at 10fps to help you capture the decisive moment. And while the Leica Q2 delivers beautiful images, I’m still not sure that I can give it a full stamp of approval.

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Review: Pentax K1 Mk II (A Camera That Was Born to be Wild)

gear doesn't matter

The Pentax K1 Mk II is a solid camera, but does it offer enough to make it a viable choice in 2019?

The Pentax K1 Mk II was launched in March of 2018 with little fanfare. Its predecessor the K1 launched in 2016 and made much more of an impact due to the fact that it was Pentax’s first Full Frame DSLR. The camera introduced features that had never been seen before in a DSLR, and the 36 Megapixel sensor was capable of producing beautiful images. So why was there so little excitement in regards to the K1 Mk II? The Pentax K1 Mk II is almost the exact same camera as the K1. The body is the same, the sensor is the same, the main image processing unit is the same; the only changes are an additional processing unit which works in tandem with the main processor, a slightly faster autofocusing system, higher ISO output, and a new handheld pixel shift mode. Are these updates really enough to make it a worthwhile buy over the now cheaper, Pentax K1?
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First Impressions: Leica Q2 (This Could be The Most Perfect Leica Yet)

We should have had the Leica Q2 a long time ago, but we were all traveling and I personally got pretty sick.

Before I begin this first impressions about the Leica Q2, I should apologize. While others have their reviews ready, I was fighting off pneumonia and so as of my writing this first impressions I’ve had the Leica Q2 in my hands for less than a few hours. But given what I’ve seen thus far, there is a lot of promise for a professional photographer who wants a fixed lens camera in the form of the Leica Q2. It’s weather sealed–as you can clearly tell from my product images. There is indeed a massive full frame sensor in there and Leica’s lenses are often second to none. The build quality and size are also top notch–but I’m seeing a few flaws in certain areas.

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Special Report: Shooting Street Photography With the Ricoh GR III in NYC

The Ricoh GR III is the successor to one of the most celebrated digital cameras in the street photography community.

If you were to sit there and compile a list of cult cameras, the majority of them would be analog–but in the digital world one can consider the predecessors to the Ricoh GR III to be cult classics. Along with the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras, the Ricoh GR has been fascinating street photographers for years. Like its film predecessors, the Ricoh GR III is a compact camera designed to be low profile with a sharp lens, fairly simple controls, and designed to let the photographer really just shoot. The Ricoh GR III was announced around Photokina 2018 last year, and it was met with mixed feelings. Some wanted a full frame sensor while others clamored for weather sealing and better battery life. Mentally, I let these things slide and made justifications for why they weren’t included in the camera, but the really big one for me was removal of the little pop-up flash.

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First Impressions: Fujifilm X-T30 (Look What They Did to the JoyStick)

The Fujifilm X-T30 features most of the tech from the X-T3 in an even smaller body.

While most of the digital imaging industry has been focusing heavily on full frame mirrorless cameras as of late, Fujifilm has remained firmly committed to their crop sensor mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras–and that’s evident with the Fujifilm X-T30. The company has built up a very loyal following thanks in large part to the excellent build quality, well thought out ergonomics, and overall refined user experience that is core to every Fujifilm camera’s DNA. The fact that Fujifilm has managed to incorporate some of the latest digital imaging innovations into their cameras while keeping them very competitively priced further sweetens the pot. With the newly announced Fujifilm X-T30, Fujifilm incorporated a lot of the advancements found within the much-loved X-T3 that was released last year and crammed them into an even more compact camera body. The XT-30 shares the same 26.1 MP 4th generation X-Trans APS-C CMOS 4 sensor as well as the 4th generation Quad-Core X-Processor 4 CPU as the top of the line X-T3.

We got our hands on the Fujifilm XT30 yesterday during a press briefing, and shot with it briefly in around a rather snowy and wet New York City.

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First Impressions: Canon EOS RP (A $1299 Full Frame Camera)

The Canon EOS RP represents the company’s attempt to win the entry level users over at a $1,299 price point.

Alas, we aren’t being treated to Canon’s high end EOS R camera, but with the Canon EOS RP we’re getting a pretty interesting candidate in the mix. The Canon EOS RP is being aggressively priced at $1,299 and has the same sensor at the heart of the Canon 6D Mk II. That wasn’t always my favorite sensor, but after Tony Northrup’s video on it a while back the internet swooned over it again. My issue is that in Lightroom, we found the highlight recovery to be awful but in Capture One it was quite good. Beyond this are some head scratching features in the Canon EOS RP, like silent shooting mode being a dedicated shooting mode with no manual controls in the same way that you get with the Canon EOS M50. This isn’t the case with the EOS R, which has an option for silent shutter photography. Maybe with the professional level camera, Canon will finally take this feature seriously–and during my time in New Orleans with the camera, I heard many other journalists agree.

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Review: Fujifilm XF10 (A Surprisingly Capable Point and Shoot)

The Fujifilm XF10 is a point and shoot camera that seriously surprised me in so many ways.

When the Fujifilm XF10 was announced, I genuinely felt it to be a very sort of lazy announcement from Fujifilm. It uses their 24MP APS-C sensor, it isn’t X Trans, and it doesn’t have Acros or any of the newer film simulations. Instead, it was pretty much like the X-T1 in some ways but brought into a point and shoot camera and with a higher resolution sensor. For $499.95 though, I’m pretty shocked. This camera proved to me that it is not only incredibly capable, but that it’s also a camera that I’d be happy to bring with me everywhere.

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First Impressions: Panasonic S1 (Should Sony Be Scared?)

The Panasonic S1 feels like Canon, Nikon and Pentax had a love child, got rid of the mirror and went into an open relationship with Sigma and Leica. 

When Panasonic announced at Photokina last year that they were coming out with new full frame cameras in cooperation with Leica and Sigma, I think that the entire photo industry was put on notice. There are lots of folks who think that Panasonic created the first real, major threat to Sony in terms of something that professionals would want to use. The Panasonic S1 is only one of the new cameras that the company announced, but during our recent visit to Panasonic’s headquarters, it was the only one available for us to play with. This camera truly feels like a DSLR and in no way feels like a mirrorless camera that we’ve seen and held before. It throws all of the retro aesthetics and idea of embracing a small size out the window and instead does the human equivalent of taking up extra seating space unnecessarily in a public area. When you get your hands on it, you’ll feel the exact same way.

2/28/2018: Updated with Sample images

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Review: Olympus OMD EM1X (Would You Do This to a Camera?)

While the Olympus OMD EM1X feels fantastic in my hands, this camera gives me less faith in the Micro Four Thirds system.

When I first got word of the Olympus OMD EM1X, it was through reading rumors on the web. But they turned out to be true–and I’ve got very mixed feelings about that. This camera has a lot going for it in the form of fantastic ergonomics, weather sealing that I’ve never seen thus far in a camera, dual cards slots, and the addition of AI in the camera designed to help the photographer. One should think of this camera as the Olympus OMD EM1 Mk II on steroids as it is designed to be a great option for those who are heavily invested into the system and who do their job with it. But then there are a lot of things that really make me scratch my head.

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First Impressions: Sony A6400 (with Tons of Image Samples)

Sony is targeting the vlogging crowd with their latest crop sensor Sony A6400 camera

At their headquarters in San Diego, the Sony A6400 was unveiled, the company’s latest APS-C Mirrorless camera. Situated between the Sony A6300 and A6500 Crop Sensor cameras, Sony is incorporating quite a lot of cutting edge technology into their brand new A6400. The Sony A6400 features the company’s latest generation 24.2 megapixel BIONZ X image processor with enhanced skin tone reproduction, as well as a tiltable, flip up touch screen capable of facing forward. This clearly indicates Sony designed the camera with the vlogging crowd in mind. According to the statements made at the press conference, the Sony A6400 is capable of achieving a blazingly fast autofocus speed of 0.02 seconds, shooting continuously at 11 FPS with AF & AE tracking using the mechanical shutter, and features enhanced Real-time Eye AF, and newly developed Real-time Tracking as well as Real-time Eye AF for animal subjects. For the video shooters out there, the A6400 can record 4K HDR videos as well as make time lapse recordings.

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Review: Nikon Z6 (The Better of Nikon’s Two Initial Mirrorless Cameras)

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The Nikon Z6 is a fairly competent entry-level interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, but we were definitely hoping for more.

When Nikon first announced the Z6, we were certainly hoping for a camera system that would blow us away. Instead, what we got was a camera system that felt half-baked at best. Coming into the mirrorless marketplace five years later than the competition, you would expect Nikon to avoid pitfalls that have plagued competing camera manufacturers, but the reality is they seem to be making a lot of the same mistakes. Nikon got quite a bit right with the Z6, and it is certainly a decent enough entry-level interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, but wow us it most definitely did not.

Editor’s note: This review is going by an experimental new standard that we’ve outlined. Each section receives its own rating and in this case, the Nikon Z6 can earn a maximum of 25 stars with each section having a maximum 5 star rating.

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Review: Fujifilm GFX 50R (One of the Best Cameras I’ve Ever Tested)

The Fujifilm GFX 50R is the camera I’ve been waiting for such a long time.

As you can probably tell from the lede of this article, I’m incredibly happy with what the Fujifilm GFX 50R is capable of doing for so many reasons. For the first time, we have a medium format camera that isn’t really designed to be used in the studio and that is actually highly capable. That’s not to say that good things can’t be done with the Hasselblad X1D, but it’s a camera that has had its large share of issues thus far where Fujifilm hasn’t had their medium format cameras riddled with problems. While the Fujifilm GFX 50R is an incredible camera, I still can’t stop but sit here and wonder at how much further the system is capable of going. To that end, they’re a company that could honestly be much further ahead and yet they aren’t.

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Review: Yashica Y35 (The Camera for a Digital Photographer to Step Up to Film With)

The Yashica Y35 isn’t to terrible of a camera; but it’s surely difficult to wrap your head around.

I purposely have taken my time reviewing the Yashica Y35 to figure out if it’s really as bad an awful of a camera as some folks are making it out to be. For the uninitiated, the Yashica Y35 is a camera that was funded and created off of Kickstarter. This isn’t the original Yashica, but instead a Hong Kong company who took it over and decided to create something fundamentally different from most other cameras out there. To emulate the look, feel, and experience of film cameras the company created a camera that doesn’t have a back LCD screen and that requires you to buy film packs to get a different look. Then you plug your SD card into the camera and get the images. On top of that, you’ll need to shoot then advance the film lever, and only then can you shoot again.

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First Impressions: Nikon Z6 (A More Affordable, Lower Resolution Z7)

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Nikon’s Z6 is an excellent entry level, Mirrorless famera for photographers who aren’t megapixel conscious.

When Nikon first announced they were finally entering the Full Frame, Interchangeable Lens, Mirrorless camera market with the Z6 and Z7 back in August of this year, only the 45.7MP Z7 was initially available. From a business standpoint, it certainly made sense that Nikon would want to release the top-end Z7 first as demand for the brand new camera system would surely skyrocket, especially since Nikon was playing catch up when it comes to Mirrorless. Fast forward to today, three months after initial announcement; the Z6 is finally available. With a more modest resolution of 24.5MP and a lower autofocus point count of 273, but boasting faster frame rates (12 FPS in the Z6 vs nine FPS  in the Z7) and double the ISO sensitivity (a maximum of 51,200, expandable to 204,800 in the Z6 vs a maximum of 25,600, expandable to 102,400 in the Z7). Pricing for the Nikon Z6 is also much more reasonable, coming in at only US $1995.95 compared to the Z7’s US $3,399.95. Nikon recently invited us down to Florida to test the brand new Nikon Z6 in a variety of different conditions, and our experiences so far have been fairly positive. Despite having a lower resolution and autofocus points, the Z6 may actually be the Mirrorless camera that will suit the needs of more photographers when compared to the Z7, especially if you’ve already got a good selection of F mount lenses and are looking to stay with Nikon while moving into the Mirrorless world.

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Review: Nikon z7 (A Most Frustrating Camera in the Most Subtle of Ways)

The Nikon z7 (oddly named the Nikon Z 7 by Nikon) isn’t a completely awful camera despite what online reviews have said.

When I first had the chance to play with the Nikon z7, I felt like Nikon had given us a with camera a whole lot of promise despite guaranteeing a groan out of a photographer every time that they try to bring their images onto their computer. But then we found issues with the autofocus, and quite frankly some of those autofocus issues were pretty awful. On paper, the Nikon z7 sounds like it would knock the ball out of the park. In real life practice though, it wasn’t up to par of so many other options out there. But with a BSI 45.7MP full frame sensor that has 493 focusing points, this seems like a camera that is a dream for so many shooters out there. Unfortunately, it’s not pulling me away from Sony any time soon.

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Review: Leica M10-D (Almost the Leica That I’ve Been Waiting For)

The Leica M10-D is the ultimate evolution to the Leica M10 series of cameras and brings with it ergonomic changes that I don’t expect most people to understand.

When I walked into a meeting with Leica and saw the Leica M10-D, it reminded me of the very few times that I gasped with utter and pure excitement in the industry; when Sony announced their radio flashes/transmitter, when Capture One finally started to work closer with Fujifilm, and when Kodak announced that Ektachrome was coming back. And for the most part, I’m writing my review of the Leica M10-D from the point of view of a fanboy simply because I don’t expect most people to understand the camera. One side will call me a spoiled, hipster millennial and the other side may label me as an elitist snob with full conviction that Leica paid me a ton of money to write this. This post is being written with pure joy and admiration at what Leica has done with the Leica M10-D, but I am also fully acknowledging where it’s gone wrong.

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