P&S Digitals Reviews

Fuji X100: Exceptional But Frustrating

Fujifilm FinePix X100

Nothing beats a real–world user review, right? Michael Reichmann ( recently had a go with a Fujifilm X100, which he summarized as “exceptional but frustrating.”

The review highlights what we’ve all been anticipating about the X100, but with a few caveats. Here’s his noteworthy observations:

  • This is a no nonsense camera. None of the various dummy modes in consumer cameras are available.
  • Build quality and handling is good, while keeping weight ideal.
  • Autofocus performance is good, but not as fast as a Panasonic GH2.
  • Manual focusing is a little disappointing, confirming that the manual focus ring is fly–by–wire and not mechanical. The optical and electronic viewfinders both have their downsides and may not be as good as everyone expects.
  • Despite being just 12 megapixel, the APS–C sensor is “comparable to a Nikon D3.”
  • The rear control dial is not as useful as it needs to be and seems to be just an afterthought after the camera’s initial design.
  • The software’s menu system (and rear controls) is rather not as user–friendly as expected.

There’s a lot more in the said review so you’d probably want to check it out. For now, this helps us see the Fuji X100 in its true form, with less of the nostalgia magic it has been so full of.

Bodies Reviews

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’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. 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.


Leica M9 Stories


More on Leica M9, because some of us can only read about it and never own one in this lifetime.

  • “At the risk of sounding sexist, owning and working with an M Leica is like being involved with a very beautiful and intelligent woman that sometimes makes you a bit crazy with her demands. Frustrating yes, but overall more than worth the effort involved. ” — An M9 in Paris, Luminous landscape
  • “If you love rangefinders, if you love Leica, if you are passionate about photography, the M9 is a great camera for you. If you shoot with DSLR’s and want a lighter camera that will become an extension of your mind and go with you everywhere, the M9 is a camera you will love. I can go on and on but I will stop here. The bottom line…” — Steve Huff
  • And then here’s a bunch of photos and words on the Leica M9.
Lenses Reviews

Tamron 10-24 reviewed

Tamron 10-24 mm f/3.5-4.5

The Tamron 10-24mm ultrawide has been on the radar for most shooters looking for a cheap wideangle lens so this review over at should provide helpful. For the money you pay, this lens is certainly a good one. A good buy.

P&S Digitals Reviews

Compact digicams for SLR shooters

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

I know a lot of our readers are SLR shooters, and most likely not all of us enjoy lugging around a digital SLR everyday. It’s just not practical — which is why most of us look for a serious compact camera that works effectively for everyday use.

The Canon Powershot G10 and the Nikon Coolpix P6000 leads most models in this field, mostly because of the badges they carry. Good brand translates to good sales after all. Personally, I’d prefer the Ricoh Caplio GX200 I mentioned some time ago. It is a not–so–secret favorite of many compact shooters. Recently, the Panasonic Lumix DMC–LX3 has also been getting good attention. It’s just like the GX200 having a lens that sports a 24mm wide end, but only faster. It handles noise better too, somehow.

Links Reviews Software

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 reviewed


Buying a new camera these days usually comes with free software. If you’re lucky enough to get photo editing software to come with it, it will probably be Adobe Photoshop Elements. You won’t be getting full–version Photoshop, that’s for sure, but if you’re lucky you’ll have the more recent Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.

What’s impressive about this new version is that it inherits the feel of Photoshop Lightroom’s interface. Everything is easier to use, in a streamlined workflow.


Editing is straightforward and provides tools for commonly photo editing tasks.

There’s a full review over at PhotographyBLOG, perhaps Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is what you need.

Flashes Reviews

Sunpak PZ42X TTL Flash


Considering a flash for your new digital SLR? Instead of getting the Nikon SB–600 or the Canon 430EX II, why not consider the Sunpak PZ42X flash?

The Sunpak PZ42X is a worthy alternative for SLR shooters looking for a dedicated flash. If you’re not after the techo–gizmo features found in more expensive models, this Sunpak might just do the job. I’ve personally tried one and it’s just as good as my Sigma EF–500 Super, but without the weight. I lose high–speed (focal plane) sync and multi–flash effects, but I rarely need them anyway.

For an everyday use flash, the Sunpak PZ42X gets the job done. It’s a lot cheaper than the Canon 430EX II and still a few dollars cheaper than the Nikon SB–600, just good enough for a budget–limited enthusiast.

List price for the three flashes mentioned:

  • Sunpak PZ42X: $149.95
  • Canon 430EX II: $279.99
  • Nikon SB–600: $172.95
Lenses Reviews

Canon EF-S 18-200mm IS Review

Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

I’m sure a lot of us have been eagerly waiting for reviews of the Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, now here’s the first one from DPReview!

The lens gets the “recommended” badge but with reservations. If you manage to read the complete review though, you’d realize that there are several compromises in this lens that would make you reconsider buying one. The cons they’ve mentioned will make you think twice:

  • Poor sharpness across much of the frame at 18mm and wider apertures
  • Pronounced barrel distortion at wideangle, and pincushion distortion around 50mm
  • High levels of chromatic aberration at either end of the zoom range

At USD $700, maybe it’s a bit too much money for something so plain and ordinary? But then again, you get impressive range with extremely useful image stabilization. I’m sure this lens appeals to certain types of photographers, but right now I’m just not sure if I’m one of them.

Reviews Software

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Reviewed

Wondering what’s new with Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 4? has a review of the latest version of the software, another significant step in the graphic tool that is in every photographer’s arsenal. Here are some of the noted changes in this version:

Adobe Photoshop CS4

  1. User interface changes: Tabbed interface by default
  2. Masks & Adjustments panel: A separate panel for quick access to this set of tools
  3. Rotating, Panning, & Zooming: Revised behavior allowing for better control
  4. Compositing: Improved from previous version
  5. Seam Carving: A new approach to cropping/resizing photos
  6. Printing: Better integration and color matching with various brands of printers
  7. Camera Raw: New version adds features similar to Lightroom 2.0
  8. Bridge CS4: Numerous enhancements

It seems there’s a lot to like in the new version especially if you’re coming from a version older than CS3. Of course cost is still a major consideration as Photoshop is no piece of cheap software. Read their review for more details on Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Bodies Reviews

Nikon D3 First Use

Nikon D3

Wondering how impressive the Nikon D3 can be in the wild? James Russell over at Luminous Landscape got to use one while shooting an assignment in Osaka, Japan and seems very impressed.

Being a RAW shooter, he was apprehensive about testing it since the RAW tools for the D3 were not yet up to speed. Because of this, he used JPG for his out. Surprisingly, the untouched JPG output was so good that he could apply his RAW workflow to it and achieve the results he wants.

I don’t think it would be a surprise to see most pros shoot with a Nikon D3 in 2008, because it seems to be every camera it was designed to be.

Lighting Reviews

Cactus PT-04 Radio Triggers

Cactus PT-04 Radio Triggers

Fellow blogger/photographer Luis Cruz helped me acquire the popular Gadget Infinity radio triggers, also called the “ebay triggers” by the crowd. Both of us got single transmitters paired with two receivers for a fairly flexible portable lighting setup.

I had my first gig with the setup and it performed acceptably well, just as I expected. It is no pocket wizard, but does the job. A good value especially considering the price, since you can get a radio setup similar to mine for less than 5,000 pesos/100 dollars.

A comprehensive review of the Cactus PT-04 Radio Triggers is also available over at PhotoNotes.

News Reviews

Nikon D3 previewed

Nikon D3

I’m sure the recent series of digital SLR announcements from Nikon and Canon is still fresh in memory, and among them, certainly the full–frame Nikon D3 is distinctly remarkable.

And now, we finally get a chance to hear something about it! DPReview has their hands–on up for everyone’s perusal, so here’s their first–on–the–web Nikon D3 preview.


Canon EOS-40D Hands-On

Canon EOS 40D - front view.

Looking for a hands-on review on the Canon EOS-40D? We found two reviews to give you the lowdown on Canon’s new model.

  • Canon EOS-40D: A Hands-On Report

    My time with the 40D was short, but I found that shooting about a thousand frames over a long weekend was all I needed to be able to draw some preliminary conclusions. These are, in brief, that the image quality of the 40D is excellent, continuing the industry-leading results that Canon has offered for the past 5-6 years. I didn’t see any breakthrough in low noise at the highest ISOs, but as with the EOS 5D ISO 400 is essentially noiseless and can be used as an everyday speed. Noise doesn’t really become an issue until ISO 1600 and even then isn’t that objectionable.

    I’m sure that once the major camera testing sites have done their thing there will be lots of charts and graphs to validate this perspective, so if these turn your crank, wait for them. In the meantime, I find that the IQ of the 40D is on a par if not even slightly better than that of the Canon 5D, which up until now has been my benchmark for DSLR image quality both at low and at high ISO.

    The bottom line is that the Canon 40D is the most DSLR for the money that Canon has ever offered. Certainly in its price range there doesn’t seem to be anything that can touch it. Move up a notch in price though and the forthcoming Nikon D300 may well put the squeeze on Canon’s hegemony in the DSLR marketplace. Time will tell, and no matter what happens we’ll all benefit from the renewed competition.

  • Canon 40D image quality shootout

    The conventional wisdom is that full frame SLRs will always produce the highest IQ. APS-C cameras while good, just can’t match full frame sensors. With the exception of the Nikon D2X which is pretty much the equal of full frame SLR’s at ISO 100, I’ve never seen a camera break with this wisdom. The D2X was until recently the Nikon flagship camera and costs about $4500. The IQ I see in the 40D images from ISO 100-800 is 95% the match of the 5D. At 1600 the shadow noise of the 5D looks to be a tad bit better than the 40D, but not by a large margin. The 40D’s tonality and richness in color gives the 5D a real run for the money. The only area I see the 5D looking better is in low contrast highlight regions. It manages to pull out a tad more detail. The 20D does okay in the shadows, but in the midtones and highlights just can’t match the richness of the 5D or 40D. It’s images while pretty good have a flatter tonal appearance. This subtle richness gives the 5D images the 3D effect people often talk about.

Read them well before you bite on that itch to upgrade. ;)

Lenses Reviews

Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS Reviewed

Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS

Not too long ago, Nikon wowed many SLR users with their introduction of the AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED, a lens that quickly became the envy of Canon users and other shooters trapped in other lens mounts.

More than a year after, Sigma capitalized on the Nikon 18-200 VR’s success among the all–in–one crowd by announcing the Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS, a lens certainly not unlike the Nikon bestseller. Several months after their announcement, the Sigma 18-200 OS has now made it to consumers and has received favorable feedback.

Well–known PBase user lightrules has quickly reviewed the Sigma 18-200 OS against the Canon 17-85 IS USM, a competitor it’s trying to beat in the walkaround range category. Considering the impressive range of the Sigma, the Canon is marginably better in some respects, notably corner sharpness. Center sharpness though is very good, capable of holding its own against the Canon. The Sigma 18-200 OS’s optical stabilization is reportedly a little better than the Canon 17-85 IS USM, and lightrules has some sample photos to illustrate. Both ephotozine’s and photozone’s reviews suggest that the Sigma 18-200 OS can be very useful as a walkaround lens.

Such is the Sigma 18-200 OS’s usefulness that even several users from the forums find it worthy of their gear list, keeping it handy as a light travel photography solution. However, another lens has also made it on their list: the Tamron 18-250 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro.

Is this going to be the battle of the superzooms?

Bodies Reviews

Review: Nikon D40X

Nikon D40X

Just half a year ago, the digital SLR market was busy speculating on Nikon’s entry level DSLR that will break the 500 dollar mark, which turned out to be the Nikon D40.

The D40 was a groundbreaker upon its entry, and even up to this point. But with the introduction of the Nikon D40X just a few months after the D40, they have agains raised the bar in the competitive DSLR scene. Now with a 10-megapixel sensor and 3 frames per second continuous shooting, this new body can sit well against its more expensive sibling, the D80, and other offerings like the Canon EOS 400D/XTi or the Sony Alpha A100.

But how do we really know how good it fares? Well, our friends over at DPReview have reviewed the Nikon D40X, giving it a “Highly Recommended” badge. It would be nice to try this one for a day. ;)

Bodies Links News Reviews

Preview: Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro

Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro

Fujifilm announced in Photokina 2006 their newest digital SLR, the Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro. This camera will replace the S3 Pro with lots of improvements and new features. The company has not been up to pace with their development compared to rivals Canon, Nikon, and Sony, though they certainly have a good following backed by the imaging advancements they’ve made in the past few years.

Our friends from LetsGoDigital were able to get their hands on a pre–production sample of the S5 Pro and expectedly, sensor technology and imaging quality are among the Fijifilm body’s strengths. Still, the verdict is wide open especially when compared to the excellent Nikon D200, a direct competitor of the S5 Pro.

Will the Fujifilm Finepix S5 Pro stand out against the rest of the DSLR field? In a few months, we should find out.

Lenses Reviews

Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM Review and Samples

Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM

Most of our readers have been eagerly awaiting the Sigma APO 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC HSM, a unique lens for APS-C sensor digital SLRs. A few weeks ago, this wonderful f/2.8 lens started shipping to the first batch of buyers.

This telephoto zoom appears to be a good buy for photographers with limited budget, though care must be taken as it exhibits the same issues as other Sigma lenses, like focusing inconsistency. A Sigma 50-150 user has posted his review of this lens and states that this lens is sharp at f/4 and smaller, so its f/2.8 designation is quite of questionable value. Chromatic aberration and front-focusing was also noticed, so take note of these issues before acquiring this lens.

Another user has shared samples from the Sigma 50-150, perhaps a lucky guy who managed to get a very good copy. From his samples, this lens should be very good if you get an excellent unit. But is the trouble really worth it? At its price range, the Canon 70-200mm f/4L is just within range and should be a better value. And you get more reach in the long end of the zoom.

Bodies Links Reviews

Nikon D40 Reviewed

Nikon D40 has finally reviewed the Nikon D40, the nice little camera we mentioned just a few weeks ago. This camera is revolutionary for its price with a body–only tag of 499 USD, and 599 USD for the kit version.

The Nikon D40 gets a “Highly Recommended” seal from Phil Askey, with him noting:

One thing which stood out for us when we reviewed the D80 was its responsive performance, the feeling of instant connection between the photographer and the camera. So imagine I was very happy to find that the emphasis on responsiveness has been carried through to the more affordable D40. Indeed apart from a very slightly slower viewfinder blackout and probably slower auto-focus (although not measured) the D40 doesn’t really feel any slower in use and for some functions is actually faster thanks to smaller files.

In many ways, Nikon has progressed much more than Canon for almost a year now. The release of the D200 followed by the D80 and now the entry–level D40 makes them very competitive in almost all levels of the DSLR market. The D40 should further solidify their market share and with a price finally hitting the 500 dollar point, they should remain uncontested at least for a few months. This being a model for first–time DSLR buyers, its shortcomings shouldn’t be a big hindrance since its users will most likely have no prior SLR investments, be it in lenses or other accessories. Will Nikon continue to dominate in 2007?

Bodies Lenses Links Reviews

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1

Several months ago, Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-L1, their first interchangeable-lens digital SLR camera. This camera is a direct product of its partnership with Olympus and its Four Thirds System. The DMC-L1 is a unique digital SLR with an interesting feature set; it is the the first with a dedicated shutter speed dial and aperture ring. These makes it closer to the hearts of analog shooters from decades ago.

Michael Reichmann reviewed the Lumix DMC-L1 last August and somehow liked the camera. However, he criticizes it in some aspects considering Panasonic should’ve learned its lessons from the cameras it released before it, the Panasonic LX-1 and the Leica Digilux 2/Panasonic LC1. Of importance is the DMC-L1’s value as compared to Nikon’s D80 and Canon’s EOS 400D/Rebel XTi, making it somehow lacking in many respects. No matter what unique features Panasonic may serve, it is still the market that will decide. Unfortunately for them, it will likely lean towards the D80, 400D/Rebel XTi, or Sony’s Alpha A-100.

For a comprehensive rundown on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1, read the Luminous Landscape review as well as its feature page on DPReview and its own site.

Lenses Links Reviews

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM reviewed

Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

Several weeks ago, Canon announced the release Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, the IS version of the excellent 70-200mm f/4L. Eagerly awaited by Canon shooters as an alternative to the expensive 2.8L series, the first review of this lens is now online at

Feedback on the first lucky users of this lens is very impressive, reporting consistent sharpness as good as the original f/4L. Now with image stabilization to boot, this should be the better walkaround telephoto. Read the full review for the complete details on this excellent piece of glass.