Samsung TL500/EX1 launched

The growth of the digital SLR market has surely been astounding in the past few years, but it has not stopped the growth of advanced compact “point&shoot” cameras that allow for good photos without the bulk of an SLR system. The Limux LX3 is one perfect example, along with others that came after it like the Canon Powershot S90 and the G11, the Olympus E–P1 and E–P2, and the Leica X1.

Now Samsung has also joined the advanced compact camera market with their new offering, the Samsung EX1, also know as the TL500. Just like the LX3, it comes with a fast zoom lens, this one being an f/1.8-2.4 wide angle 3x (24-72mm equivalent) image stabilized zoom lens, a range that should be very useful to the type of shooters the camera is for. With the fast aperture available throughout the range, this camera will likely be a good low–light shooter.

The sensor used is a 1/1.7″ 10MP CCD, paired with a 3.0″ multi-angle AMOLED display. Full manual controls along with RAW output option puts this camera right up there with the LX3 and similar cameras, except for one—video recording will only be in VGA, utilising H.264 encoding. Still, I think this will be a very interesting camera.

Noktor 50mm f/0.95

Lenses designed with apertures that max out to f/1.0 have always held some sort of mythical magic to them, as if the extreme aperture option makes your photos great automatically. History tells us that some of the most popular f/1.0 lenses were not exactly versatile performers.

But modern technology should change that though. A new lens for the Micro Four Thirds format (MFT) boasts of something that sounds even more magical: the Noktor 50mm HyperPrime f/0.95.

Yes, that’s supposed to sound even better than f/1.0 and technically, it is! Since this lens is designed for MFT with a 2x crop factor, it is effectively a 100mm f/0.95, a very enticing idea. But DPReview.com notes the uncanny resemblance with the Senko 50mm f/0.95 C-mount CCTV lens, which may possibly be true if you consider that this lens only has manual focus and manual aperture controls. Still, this interesting lens will surely have special uses for the right market and artists.

Here’s more information on Noktor and its lenses.

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV reviews

Reviews of Canon’s top end EOS–1D Mark IV are now slowly making its way to the web. Now with ISO 102400 and an improved autofocus system, the 1D Mark IV aims to take the top spot among sports shooters, hoping to take away some of the Nikon D3 and D3S glory that their competitor has been enjoying.

Unfortunately, the supposedly improved autofocus performance still has a lot of room for improvement, as robgalbraith.com’s review would prove. To be exact, comparing the 1D Mark IV to the D3S:

To sum up, our experience with the D3S’ AF system is that it’s trustworthy and dependable enough for us to be confident using it for peak action sports. Not perfect: it needs to be a bit faster off the line, in addition to the other quibbles we’ve mentioned. But it does work as needed most of the time, which is in stark contrast to the experience of the EOS-1D Mark IV in the last month.

There goes Canon’s hope of finally sorting out a lingering complaint on the 1D series. If you’d recall, these issues dates back to the 1D Mark II, which was released quite a few years ago. Many pro shooters would say that the 1D series haven’t been as reliable as its Nikon counterpart when it comes to autofocus performance.

DPReview.com has also just released a review of the same camera, giving the 1D Mark IV its “Gold Award“, perhaps a new rating/ranking system that supersedes its Recommended/Highly Recommended/Etc. system.

Canon EOS-550D/T2i

Less than a year after Canon announced their first consumer digital SLR that shoots HD video, they’ve just announced the update to the 500D aptly called the Canon EOS–550D. The 550D, also known as the T2i in the North American market, takes a lot from Canon’s most recent pro–level APS–C SLR, the Canon EOS–7D.

The 550D has a similar 18–megapixel sensor with an ISO range of 100 to 6400. More importantly, this new camera shoots 1080P HD video at selectable frames per second settings: 30, 25, and 24 fps. 720P is also available with additional 50 and 60 fps settings. Simply said, the 550D is going to be the best consumer DSLR for video shooting. I’m sure this will be widely used by videographers looking to upgrade to a DSLR–based workflow.

Here’s DPReview’s coverage of the Canon EOS–550D.

I guess the news was wrong. (0)

Nikon versus Canon, the video. =) (0)

Olympus E-P2

olympus-e-p1

Even before it makes it way through most of the world’s camera markets, Olympus’ Micro Four Thirds camera E–P1 has been updated resulting in the new Olympus E–P2. The E–P2 is basically the same as the E–P1 save for the two new art filters for creative effects and the full manual controls for movie recording.

Yes, that’s another camera before we can even thoroughly try the E–P1. I’ve held an E–P1 a few weeks back, though very briefly, and I found it’s performance to be good. Focusing was better than P&S compacts though certainly not as DSLR fast. It felt a bit too big for a supposed “compact/rangefinder” alternative though.

Adorama has a review of the Leica M9, a good camera that many of us can’t buy anyway. (0)

You should read this article on sensor artifacts and CMOS rolling shutter, because not all sensors are equal. (0)

We all know that the Olympus E-P1 shoots 720P like most recent cameras, but are you wondering how well it can do it? Here’s an online commercial shot with an E-P1 and a bunch of old Asahi–Pentax lenses. Awesome! (0)

Why buy a medium format camera when you can build one yourself? (0)

The new Lensbaby Fisheye and Soft Focus Optics should provide more creative “vintage” options for your lensbaby lens without going completely analog. Marry the old skool look with your digital gear! (0)

TiltShift Generator is now a popular iPhone app but you should know that it once was a very popular web service and Adobe Air app. Yes, you can get the same look for free! (0)

User impressions on the Ricoh GRD3. Great–looking B&W from a small–sensor compact! (0)

Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 VC

Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF)

Officially, it’s called the Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF), quite a handful for a lens name. This was announced by Tamron a few weeks back and is an update to the previous non–stabilized model. If you recall the older model, it is a good performer for an f/2.8 zoom, especially if you consider it’s price.

Now for approximately a 20% surplus in price, you can now get the same sharp f/2.8 zoom with a Tamron’s “Vibration Compensation” technology, very much like Canon’s “Image Stabilization” and Nikon’s “Vibration Reduction”. With this update, this lens might give Canon’s 17-55 f/2.8 IS a run for its money, and at a much lower price.

The Nikon version of this lens was already shipping a few weeks ago while the Canon version starts shipping this week. I’m looking to get a Canon version, so hopefully I’ll have some sample photos soon. For now, here’s three web–resized samples from Tamron.

Canon’s 1D Mark IV versus Nikon’s D3s? (0)

Canon EOS-7D

Canon EOS-7D

This month’s been filled with so much news that I almost missed this one: the Canon EOS–7D. The latest pro–level APS–C SLR camera from Canon is better than ever. With an 18–megapixel CMOS sensor paired with dual DIGIC 4 processors, this camera is capable of shooting 8 frames per second of burst shooting. And with such an astounding rate, the shutter now rated to withstand 150,000 actuations, a significant increase from previous pro–level models.

Taking from the success of the EOS–5D Mark II and other recent cameras, the 7D also HD video. It captures Full HD video at 30p (29.97 fps), 24p (23.976 fps) and 25p, while allowing for full manual control of exposure. Another rarity for a Canon digital SLR is the intelligent viewfinder that provides 100% coverage.

About a month ago, I got the chance to handle a pre–production Canon EOS–7D in a wedding photography seminar. Ergonomics and handling compares to none, not even the 40D/50D or the 5D Mark II. It just feels really good in your hands, with all the controls in familiar spots while providing a few more additions.

When asked about the suggested retail price for the 7D here in the Philippines, the local didn’t have official word yet but it was expected to be 99,950 pesos. At that price though, the 5D Mark II seems to be the better deal. But recently, local forums and sellers have been offering preorders for the 7D in the 85,000 peso range. Cheaper compared to the SRP though still a steep price for another APS–C camera. I’d rather save and go straight to the 5D Mark II if I had the money. The 7D though might just be the camera for most shooters with a healthy lineup of EF–S lenses.

Here’s 3 instructables for DIY camera straps, because some of the good ones are just too damn expensive. (0)

Polaroid will be back next year with the help of the Impossible Project! (1)

The LX3 firmware version 2 that’s been released and pulled out a few weeks ago is now back as version 2.1. Now you can shoot in 1:1 ratio among other new niceties. For LX3 shooters like me, you can’t let this pass. (0)