Friday, 10 April 2015

Nikon announces the Nikon 1 J5

Earlier this month Nikon announced the next camera in the Nikon 1 mirrorless series - the J5.

Feature summary from the press release...

"fast continuous full-resolution shooting frame rate at 20 frames-per-second (fps) with full Autofocus, a new 20.8-megapixel Backside-illuminated (BSI) 1-inch CX-format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 5A image processing and a slew of creative modes"

Key Specifications

  • 20 fps at full resolution with Autofocus
  • up to 60 fps with AF fixed on the first frame
  • new EXPEED 5A image processing 
  • AF system featuring 171 Contrast-Detect and 105 Phase Detect AF points
  • 1-inch CX-format 20.8-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor 
  • ISO range from 160-12,800 
  • 1,037k-dot touch LCD display with a 180-degree tilt
  • built-in Wi-Fi and NFC 
  • 1080/60p HD video and shooting at up to 120 fps (at 720p)
  • 4K video at 15p 

Price and Availability

A release date has not been set yet, but the following combinations and prices are being suggested:
  1. J5 with the 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens (SRP) of US $499.95
  2. A kit with both the 1 NIKKOR  10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens and 1 NIKKOR VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 for US $749.95 SRP in Silver/Black and Silver/White only. 
  3. The Nikon 1 J5 with the 1 NIKKOR 10-100mm f/4-5.6 lens for US $1,049.95 SRP in Silver/Black and Silver/White only. 

Thanks for reading.


Canon announces the XC10 4K Camcorder

This week Canon announced the XC10 Camcorder for "Creative Multi-Media Image Makers".

The interesting thing is this is a 4K/Full HD Video shooter as well as being able to produce 12 Megapixel still images.

From the press release...

"In addition to the camcorder's 4K and Full HD video capture capabilities, the XC10 camcorder includes a one-inch 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, with a 10x Wide-Angle Zoom Lens with a 2x Digital Teleconverter and Optical Image Stabilization allowing for rock-steady video and still image shooting. This new digital camcorder is ideal for creative individuals and professionals who are interested in cost effective 4K video production, as well as multimedia journalists and news agencies looking to easily expand into 4K Electronic News Gathering (ENG) coverage."

Key Specifications

  • 12-Megapixel Canon CMOS sensor delivers up to 12 stops of dynamic range
  • 10x Zoom Lens offers a 35mm-equivalent zoom ratio of 24.1-241mm for still photos and 27.3-273mm for movies
  • DIGIC DV5 signal processor
  • 5-axis image stabilization (full HD only)
  • dedicated microphone and headphone jacks along with a built-in microphone 
  • rotating hand grip to allow ability to shoot both movies and still images  
  • wireless networks capablity allowing operation through a web browser, a compatible smartphone or tablet
  • still-photography with up to 3.8 frames-per-second
  • ISO speeds from 160 to 20,000 

Price and Availability

Canon are currently indicating an availability in June 2015 for an estimated retail price of US $2,499.00 

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Preview of the new Nikon D7200

Preview of the new Nikon D7200 - how much better than the Nikon D7100?

The Nikon D7200 was announced 1st March 2015. 

If you believe Nikon Australia's website, the Nikon D7200 is "the most advanced DSLR in Nikon’s DX range". Enough said?

With any upgrade to a previous model, the obvious questions include, 'How many features are above and beyond the outgoing model?' and 'Should I ditch my D7100 and upgrade to the D7200?'

With most new DSLR models, the older model will likely be sold alongside it for a period of time. The outgoing model usually being discounted to clear stocks. So the other thing you may be wondering is whether this a chance to pick up a D7100 at a bargain price? Or is it better to lay out a bit extra for the new model?

US retailer B&H Photo is indicating on their website that the brand new Nikon D7200 will be available 19th March 2015, although the US website is officially saying "The Nikon D7200 will be available in early April 2015". 

The D7200 will be offered either as body only, or in kit form with the NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. Suggested retail prices are US $1,199.95 for the body and US $1,699.95 for the kit.

Whenever it actually lands, Australian retailers shouldn't be too far behind.  

Trying to judge image quality of the new D7200 will be difficult until someone gets their hands it. For this preview we'll look at a comparison of some key specs that differentiate the Nikon D7200 over the outgoing Nikon D7100. In terms of image quality, only a handful of full resolution samples currently exist on the web, we'll take a look at a couple of these as well.

Key Specifications

  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter
  • 3.2" 1,229k-Dot LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
  • Multi-CAM 3500 II DX 51-Point AF Sensor
  • Native ISO 25600, B&W to ISO 102400
  • 6 fps Shooting for Up to 100 Frames
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • In-Camera Time Lapse, Up to 9,999 Frames

ISO Range

Nikon D7100: 100 - 25,600
Nikon D7200: 100 - 25,600 (expanded 51,200 and 102,400 in black & white mode)

So there is an extra 2 stops available, but note this expanded ISO range is only available for Black & White (51,200 for BW1 and 102,400 for BW2).

As way of comparison, the maximum ISO range for the Canon 5D Mark III is 25,600, and the recently announced Canon 5DS 6,400.

So what does an image with the Nikon D7200 at ISO 102,400 look like? Unfortunately of the 4 full resolution samples available on the Nikon Japanese website, all of them were shot at ISO 100, so we'll have to wait and see.


Nikon D7100: No
Nikon D7200: Yes

Nikon describes the D7200 as their first DSLR with built in Wi-Fi and NFC.

What this allows you to do is share your D7200 photos via a compatible smartphone or tablet with NFC. Once connected, you can use your smart device to browse photos and share by text message, email or posting online to social media. You can also use your smart device as a remote control for the D7200.

For more information check out:

Buffer Depth

Nikon D7100: 6 Raw, 50 JPEG
Nikon D7200: 18 Raw, 100 JPEG

Nikon's press release describes this as being able to capture up to "100 shots with a single burst of continuous shooting". 

The caveat for doing so is "When a 16-GB SanDisk SDHC UHS-I memory card (SDSDXPA-016G-J35) is used, and an ISO sensitivity setting of ISO 100 is applied".

I'm not sure I've ever had a need to shoot at this rate, but obviously depending on your photography this may be important to you.


The only full resolution samples currently available are from the Nikon Japan website - four in total.

Manufacture samples are always heavily biased so not too much should be read into them.

Here is one of the samples from the Nikon Japan website:

Source: Nikon Japan website, 1.3 seconds, f/11, ISO 100, Jpeg Fine (8-bit), NIKKOR 18-140mm ED VR at 18mm. Original Image 6000 x 4000

And another:

Source: Nikon Japan website, 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, Jpeg Fine (8-bit), NIKKOR 18-140mm ED VR at 100mm. Original Image 6000 x 4000.

2 x 100% crops of original image:

The ability to resolve detail would appear excellent.

Full resolution versions of the above, plus 2 additional full resolution samples can be found at:


Based on current pricing at B&H Photo, the Nikon D7200 body is being listed at US $1,196. In comparison to the model it replaces, the D7100 is listed as US $996. So unless the D7100 gets discounted heavily there seems no point to even look at the D7100, the D7200 is shaping up as a much better camera at roughly the same price point.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Preview of the new Canon 5DS, better than the 5D Mark III?

Preview of the new Canon 5DS, better than the 5D Mark III?

With the 5DS being recently announced, you may be wondering if this is the replacement for the 5D Mark III?

Time will tell whether the 5D Mark III is eventually dropped, but when released no doubt the 5DS will be sold alongside the Mark III.

There are some obvious questions like, 'Is the 5DS better than the 5D Mark III?', 'Should I put off purchasing a Mark III until the 5DS is released?', 'Should I trade in my Mark III and upgrade to the 5DS?'.

In almost all ways the 5DS is looking the be a better camera, but interestingly not in all respects.

Until someone gets their hands on the 5DS and does some shooting with it we won't know for sure.

US retailer B&H Photo is indicating on their website that the brand new Canon EOS 5DS & EOS 5DS R will be available for purchase 29th June 2015. List price for the 5DS is US $3,699.00.

Australian retailers hopefully won't be too far behind.  

So let's look at a few specs that might make you think twice before rushing in to trading in your 5D Mark III.

More Pixels

Canon 5D Mark III: 22.3
Canon 5DS: 50.6

So yes the 5DS is better.

50.6 megapixels means an image area of 8688 x 5792 for the 5DS, compared with the 5D Mark III of 5760 x 3840.

This is an extra 2928 pixel in width, and an extra 1952 pixels in height; or approximately 50% more pixels width and height.

So this is definitely a useful increase and allows for more cropping (or printing really really big images). The question is do you need the extra pixels?

Low light capability

This is one area which has interestingly actually gone backwards from the 5D Mark III.

Canon 5D Mark III: 25,600
Canon 5DS: 6400

The introduction of the large full frame sensor meant that pixels didn't need to be crammed so closely together. This has resulted in better dynamic range and less noise, so ability for manufacturers to push ISOs.

So why has canon restricted ISO to 6400, is it because the extra pixels mean that noise becomes an issue past 6400?

If you are consistently pushing beyond 6400 this may make you stop and think. At the very least wait til real samples are done at high ISOs


2 videography features have been dropped from the 5DS compared to the Mark III.

The first is 'Uncompressed HDMI output' and the second being a Headphone jack.

Both are available on the 5D Mark III but not the 5DS.

So this will either be important to you not.


The only samples available for the 5DS at the moment are from the Canon website.

Manufacture samples are always heavily biased so not too much should be read into them.

Source: Canon US website, 1/125 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100, EF 70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM. Original image 5792 x 8688

100% crop of original image:

The ability to resolve detail is quite amazing.

A second example from the Canon website:

Source: Canon US website, 1/125 sec, f/4.0, ISO 800, EF 24-70mm F4L IS USM. Original image 8688 x 5792

and 100% crop of original image:

This is at ISO 800 and there is some noticeable noise. We'll have to wait for more samples to really see what low light noise is like when the ISO is pushed, and interesting what that is in direct comparison to the 5D Mark III.  

Difference between the 5DS and 5DS R

The short answer is most of us will go for the 5DS, it is the most general purpose (and slightly cheaper) camera. The 5DS R will be for particular shooters only.

The Australian Canon website describes the difference as...

"The EOS 5DS R features a Low Pass Filter (LPF)...For the EOS 5DS R, blurring is not applied and the resulting image is resolved to a higher level. However, false colour can happen as a result – this manifests itself as colour patterns and swirls in certain textures. These textures are usually always man made, such as fabrics and brick work for example. Users of the EOS 5DS R will need to perform post processing to get the most out of this model...The EOS 5DS is suited for general high resolution photography (portraits, landscapes, architecture), whereas the EOS 5DS R, with the LPF cancellation effect, should be used away from man-made objects and is particularly suited to landscape photography, and for instances where the photographer has the technical ability to counter for moire ie, by changing fabrics, recomposing, post production, etc"


Whether the 5DS will eventually replace the 5D Mark III only time will tell. 

Based on the initial specs it seems right not to call it the 5D Mark IV. 

The 5DS appears to be more of a specialist camera for particular shooters. It's not so much a general do it all camera like the 5D Mark III. If you want to shoot video, shoot in low light and don't need the 50 megapixels, then you may well be better off with the 5D Mark III. Based on current pricing on B&H Photo, the 5D Mark III is also US $1,200 cheaper.  

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 8 March 2015

Recover images from a damaged SD card

Attempting to recover images from a damaged SD card

Ever had an SD card stop working? Now worried you may have lost all the photos on the card?

A family member recently had hundreds (actually more like thousands) of photos recorded on the card, but the camera stopped recognizing the card.

Inserting the card into a laptop via a USB adapter, Windows didn't recognize it as valid and prompted to format the card. Fortunately they chose not to format it.

What to do?

The good news it is possible in some cases to restore in part or all your photos.There are actually many tools out there, some free, some you'll need to pay for.

The program I used to attempt recovery of the photos is called Zar Data Recovery

Zar Data Recovery is a Windows tool and is designed for more than recovering your holiday snaps. It claims it can recover lost files from your laptop/desktop as well, including formatted drives, both external and internal and deleted files stored in FAT32 and NTFS.

The paid for full version gives you everything, but the freebie version gives you the digital image recovery option that we want in this case. The website claims it is possible to recover photos in the following situations:
  • the images were deleted before copying to the PC
  • the card was accidentally formatted
  • some camera failure occurred and the images are not accessible any longer

The Process

Firstly download the setup program from

After running the setup start up Zar Recovery.

It's recommended to connect the SD card to your PC with a card reader, rather than via the camera. So I took the recommended approach.

Follow the instructions as provided on the website, but a summary of what you'll need to do is as follows:

After starting Zar Recovery select 'Image Recovery' for the recovery type.

Then select the device the SD card is plugged into. Normally this will be labelled 'USB Reader' or similar, and usually the last drive letter (assuming the card was the last thing plugged into a USB port). In our case it showed as Generic Card Reader and drive letter 'E:'.

Select the drive letter for the card you want to restore from, the click Next to begin the process.

Once the scan is complete you see a list of files for selection to recover. We'll simply select all of them and then click Next.

Choose a destination for the recovered photos and select 'Start Copying'.

Have a look at the recovered photos in the folder you selected above.

In our case we recovered 1895 files, pretty much all the files we suspected were on the disk - so success.

The results will obviously vary depending on what happened to the card, so expect anything from nothing, to getting absolutely everything back.

Now that you hopefully have your photos back, what next? Hopefully you already know the answer - back them up!!


Yes it is possible to recover from what may seem a mini disaster.

Tips to try and avoid this situation:

1. Format the card prior to using it for the first time.

2. Regularly take copies of the photos off your photo card and store somewhere safely. I use multiple backup strategies including physical hard drives and cloud hosted storage. There are a lot sites that allow you store/backup your photos into the cloud. Outlook for example gives you free OneDrive space

3. Once you've backed up your photos, re format the card again before the next photo shoot. I know some people who keep shooting for years without copying off the photos...avoid this if you care about the photos at all.

4. Use good quality cards. The only time I've had troubles is with generic brand memory cards. I now only use Sandisk and have never had an issue.

5. If you're in the middle of a shoot (or maybe on holidays), and have no way to easily copy off your photos, carry a few memory cards with you and swap in a fresh card ever so often. If one fails at least you'll have photos off the other cards.

6. And lastly, look after the card. Store it in it's little plastic container, avoid dropping and leaving it out in the elements

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, 28 February 2015

Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens review with samples

Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 G Lens Review

Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 G lens


The Nikon 28-80mm f3.5-5.6 G lens was included as a kit lens on many Nikon film cameras in the 90's.

The review of this lens will be with real world examples bolted onto a full frame DSLR.

The lens I'm using was extracted from a Nikon F55 film camera. I picked it up for less than $50 a few years back.

In part due to a well known blogger, these lenses are now hard to find. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 on ebay. Trying to find a good example is hard.

So what images do you actually get with this lens on a full frame DLSR? Let's find out...


Weight: 190g (so practically nothing)
Construction: mostly plastic
Close focus: .35m or 14inch (so very close)

What happens if I drop or bump it? It will break and you throw it away.

What we're using to test

We'll be testing this lens bolted onto a Canon 6d full frame DSLR. 

Why are we pairing a Nikon lens to a Canon body? Because I parted with my Nikon DSLR a while back.

To pair the Nikon lens to the Canon 6d we're using an adapter. This one is around $20 and provides no electronic controls - it's all manual including focusing without a focus aid.


All samples are straight out of the camera, no manipulation or cropping unless specifically stated.

Close Up

80mm at f5.6

100% centre crop

80mm at f5.6

Note the falloff in the corners in the above shot. This is expected as we're shooting at the lenses limits, and it's a kit lens. 

No problem with centre sharpness however.

100% centre crop

Stopping down the aperture improves things considerably - another two examples, one at 5.6 and the other stopped down.

80mm at f5.6

80mm stopped down
Note the colour differences between top and bottom of frame are purely because of lighting conditions. The thing to note is the improvement of drop off by stopping down.

The brick wall

28mm at f3.3
Above is another example of this lens at it's limit - this time 28mm and f3.3.

Notice the distortion and fall off in the corners. Corner sharpness suffers. This is not unexpected in a lens such as this.

However if you stop down the aperture, things get a lot better.

28mm stopped down

 Still a reasonable amount of distortion but sharpness in the corners improves noticeably.

100% centre crop
100% bottom left
Note this was manually focused without focusing aids, so you should expect sharpness to be better than these examples.

More samples




If you do find one of these, don't shoot wide open, stop down the aperture to find the sweet spot.

Good luck if you decide to hunt one on ebay...if at all possible inspect before buying...given it's construction not all Nikon 28-80 G lenses have survived in good condition.

Thanks for reading.