gear

Things that excited me at CES 2016 by Laura Daly

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas isn't normally the event that major products in photography are unveiled, especially since Photokina is coming up later this year.  However, there were a few stand-out announcements that caught my attention. And, no, this is not helping my GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) one bit...

Nikon D5/D500

First up, one (sort of) expected camera, and one that people thought had been lost forever to the realms of photography myth.  The Nikon D5 and D500 are definitely sibling camera bodies.  Both contain the same Expeed 5 sensor, the same 153 point AF system, and the same tilty touch screen (similar in design to the D750, although doesn't seem to be getting as much hate).  What does make the D500 stand out, however, is the ability to record 4K video.  Now, yes, the D5 does this too, but the D500 can record in full 4K at 30fps for 29 minutes.  This does make the D5's 3 minutes look a little pathetic - I'm not sure of the reason for the limit on the D5 (overheating?), and surely it will not do it any favours when Canon's 1Dx follow-up appears (rumoured to come later this year).

Nikon D500 microsite

Fujifilm XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFI1T5NNz3Q

Mmmm, giant lens...This was an expected announcement, as this lens has been rumoured, then rumoured to be delayed etc etc (it has also been on the Fuji product roadmap for a year or so).  However, it still looks impressive, with an equivalent 35mm focal length of 152-609mm, weather sealing (with a fluorine (PTFE maybe?) coating on the front element to help repel moisture) and 5 stops of image stabilisation.  I couldn't work out/figure out if the image stabilisation has two modes a la the Sigma super-teles and some of the Nikons, but this lens will definitely appeal to sports and wildlife photographers.  Again, another lens that will continue to make this system an attractive alternative to DSLRs.

Fujifilm EF-X500

Fujifilm-X500-Flashgun-1_1452846236

What's that I hear you say, a flashgun?  Big deal, right?  Well yes, because one of the things that possibly holds people back from switching fully to the X system is the lack of kit, like decent hot shoe flashes.  This flash unit has a high speed sync of 1/8000 sec (found on high end flashes like the Nikon SB-900) and it is weather resistant.  Both of these features were clearly showing that this was developed with the Fuji X-Pro2 in mind.

Samsung 2TB T3 SSD drive

T3_001_Front_Silver2

As the megapixel count on camera bodies stays consistently at 20MP or above, secure, reliable data storage is still a pressing need for many users.  Solid state drives (SSD) have been coming down in price for some time, and now we are at the point where you can get a useable amount of storage without having to sell your children house to afford it.  The other thing that makes this so attractive is its size - smaller than an average business card...which is just ridiculous...Write speeds are quoted to be 450 MB/s via a USB 3.1 type C interface, which is the current standard.

There were lots of other announcements, such as a plethora of drones and action cameras (including the relatively novel Nikon KeyMission 360), but the ones I have discussed seemed to offer the most innovation (or failing that, a major addition to a line-up).  We will have to wait and see what CP+ brings us in February...

If you spotted anything at CES that caught your eye, let me know in the comments below.

Gear thoughts by Laura Daly

I've been considering a camera body upgrade for a while now, as the limited dynamic range of the D90 (and its poor low light performance) are beginning to limit what I can get done out and about. Towards the end of last year, I went down to Wex in Norwich to have a hands-on with some potential candidates. I can't recommend doing this highly enough - some of my views and (mis)conceptions about certain bodies going in were shot down as soon as I got the cameras in the hand. d800 by d810

The image above was taken by a Nikon D810, of a Nikon D800. Although it was a big body, as soon as I got the D810 in the hand it felt amazing - solid construction, perfectly laid out buttons, and a big bright viewfinder. But the two shining features to me were the grip shape (sooo comfortable) and the feel of the shutter. It had such a satisfying clunk to it! In terms of the image, beautiful bokeh and colours straight out the camera (note - the image above has had some minor editing to reflect real-world use of the images). If this was the camera for me, I would need to remember two things - depth of field is crazy-shallow with the full frame sensor; and two, because of the ridiculous number of MP I would have to make damn sure my technique was spot on to produce clean, blur free images.

d800 detail

This is an image from the (slightly older but still awesome) D800, to show the amount of detail you can get from this camera. Now, it should be pointed out that I was not using the best lens while taking these test images (I just took whatever they were offering), but even so the level of detail is amazing. When viewed in Lightroom at 1:1, every bump on the body cap can be seen. For landscapes, this would just be incredible (especially coupled with the fantastic dynamic range - discussed by Dom Bower in this vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WRt32pRmLw).

d800 colour original

I just threw this image in at the end just to show an uncorrected image from the D800 (it has been sharpened slightly, but everything else is as it comes from the camera). Lovely, vibrant colours, again with excellent sharpness and detail.

Overall, I was really impressed with both bodies. Obviously, the D810 is newer, has the delicious-sounding new shutter and extremely comfortable grip. However, the D800 is still an amazing camera and has the added advantage of being cheaper (through the second-hand route). Either camera would be an amazing purchase, and considering the latest output issues with Nikon (flare, dust, oil...) these are both excellent options for any landscape (or indeed portrait) photographer. All I need to do now is decide which one...