Cameras

Sony’s RX100 V and A6500 prioritize focusing and shooting speeds

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Photokina wrapped up over a week ago, but the camera launches keep coming. Sony, in particular, was rather quiet during the show, and now we know why. The company saved its major announcements for today, featuring the Cyber-shot RX100 V compact camera and A6500 mirrorless interchangeable-lens shooter.

Cyber-shot RX100 Mark V

Sony RX100 V front

Let’s begin with the smaller one of the two. The RX100 V is minor upgrade over the RX100 IV that came out last year, and we mean minor. Aside from looking just like its predecessor, the newest Cyber-shot shares the same 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel image sensor capable of 4K video recording as last year’s model. Other similarities are the 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens, 3-inch tilting LCD at the back (still no touchscreen, though), and 2.36M-dot OLED pop-up viewfinder.

The real star here is the 315 autofocus points that cover 65 percent of the composition frame. All are phase detection points, which leads to DSLR-like focusing speeds and much better subject tracking, even while recording videos. Equally impressive is the 24 frames per second continuous shooting at full image resolution.

Sony RX100 V back

According to Sony, it’ll cost about $1000 and will be available this month. If you’re an RX100 IV user looking to upgrade, we suggest holding back on this one, unless you feel your one-year-old camera is too slow. For everyone else, this is, once again, the best compact camera in the market — as long as you can afford it.

Sony A6500

Sony A6500 front

After releasing the A6300 earlier this year, Sony decided to unveil its successor just a few months later. Like the RX100 V, it’s difficult to justify the quick launch of the A6500 based on its looks, but all the upgrades are deep inside.

The A6500 carries over the same APS-C-sized 24.2-megapixel image sensor and 425 phase detection autofocus points of its not-so-old predecessor, as well as 4K video recording and burst shooting of 11 frames per second. What’s truly special is the in-body 5-axis image stabilization and touchscreen LCD on the rear.

Having image stabilization built in means that your shots will be steady even without optical stabilization from the attached lens. If your lens does in fact have a stabilizing motor equipped, your photos will look sharper all the more. With the promise of fantastic low-light performance, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more capable mirrorless camera at this size.

Sony A6500 back

Adding touchscreen functionality to the 3-inch display is another welcome feature. It can’t be used to navigate through menus and settings, but it’s perfect for selecting points of focus during photo and video shooting. You’ll also be glad to know that the A6500 is weather-sealed, making it a lot sturdier than the A6300.

You can purchase the A6500 beginning November for a price of $1400. Definitely not cheap, but if you’re out for the best APS-C mirrorless camera Sony has to offer, this is it. However, if you’re looking for a bargain, the A6300 will definitely go down in price, making it an eventual steal for its still-competitive performance. (Read more: Sony A6300 Hands-On)

Cameras

Fujifilm X-H1 is company’s first truly video-centric camera

More substance over style

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Fujifilm has made a reputation for itself with its classic-looking cameras and knack for coming up with a range of filters for all kinds of tastes. The X series of mirrorless cameras have been the flag bearers of the company, but none have really focused on video recording as much as the newly launched X-H1 we’re seeing right here.

It’s still a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera sporting an APS-C image sensor — which isn’t as large as a full-frame sensor, but helps keep the X-H1 more affordable and able to use Fujifilm’s growing selection of lenses.

Beginning March 1, you can buy the X-H1 for US$ 1,900 (body only). While that may still seem hefty to videographers on a budget, there’s more to the camera than just its professional design.

Fujifilm calls the X-H1 the best-performing entry in the entire X series line of mirrorless cameras. That’s a bold statement considering how great the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are, but there’s some truth to that.

For one, the X-H1 uses the same 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III found in the brand’s other high-end cameras. Combined with the X-Processor Pro image processor, it can shoot at an ISO ranging from 200 to 12800 and at a continuous speed of 14 frames per second.

What really sets it apart is the inclusion of in-body image stabilization. This means you can attach any compatible lens and you’ll have steady shots throughout your footage. As for the output itself, the maximum bit rate is at 200Mbps and you can hit up to 30fps for 4K content.

In terms of physique, it shares similarities with the medium format (and much pricier) GFX 50S. The most distinguishable feature is the monochrome display on top for a quick look at exposure settings, as well as dust and water resistance for outdoor shooting. There’s also a tilting 3-inch touchscreen LCD at the back and 3.69-megapixel electronic viewfinder.

There are more features geared toward serious videographers, but what’ll attract casual users more is the Eterna film simulation mode, which gives movies a more ideal, instantly attractive look, plus another mode to reduce flicker while shooting indoors under artificial lighting. Those who want to connect this to their smartphone will be glad to know there’s integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

The X-H1 has all the makings of a great addition to a cinematographer’s arsenal, but only time will tell if it’ll be able to stand against the giants of Sony, Canon, and Nikon.

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Camera Shootouts

GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison

Which is the action camera for you?

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GoPro is one of the biggest names in sports videography and is a name that first comes to mind when the need for a portable, easy-to-set-up camera arises. Although, the past couple of years were a bit hard for the company as sales plummeted, and after introducing their first-ever drone, some literally fell from the sky.

Still working hard on making another hit, GoPro has returned with their latest action camera, the HERO 6 Black, and it boasts some pretty impressive features. Will it be the saving grace the company needs right now? How does it fare compared to its predecessor, the HERO 5? We answer those questions plus more in this comparison.

Design

On the outside, nothing has changed with the new action camera at all. It’s made of the same robust, rubbery material that’s designed to go underwater for as deep as 10 meters without needing an extra waterproof case. Button placements are carried over — one up top to start recording and another one on its side to switch between shooting modes.

Underneath, the same 1220mAh battery is stored while connectivity ports are on the other side. Even the protective lens is still removable and replaceable. There’s virtually no way of telling the two apart except for the small print on the side of the camera.

Features

The biggest upgrade of the HERO 6 has more to do with output. It can now shoot up to 4K resolution at 60fps, whereas the previous HERO 5 topped out at 4K 30fps. It might seem like a small detail but having the option to shoot smoother video is always a good thing.

Another difference is frame rate. The HERO 5 Black can capture videos at a speedy 240fps but resolution is limited to 720p. The newer HERO 6 Black, on the other hand, can shoot the same 240fps rate at a clearer 1080p resolution.

For more flexibility, the HERO 6 can also shoot at 2.7K at 120fps so you get nice slow-mo video with the ability to resize or re-scale your footage if the need arises. Other features that differentiate the new action camera from its predecessor include better low-light performance and dynamic range.

Video Sample

Of course, all this means nothing if we can’t see for ourselves. I brought both cameras during my travels and you may refer to the embedded video below (starting at 2:46) for some sample video comparisons.

You can easily see that the sky from the HERO 6’s shots is more vibrant than the pale blue color from the HERO 5. There’s also a noticeable difference in exposure. The HERO 5 has darker blacks which, in this case, worked well since it was able to bring out more details on the snowy mountain.

Although both are set to auto white balance, footage from the HERO 5 still turns out to be warmer as seen in the indoor shoot.

In terms of stabilization, the new HERO 6 really stepped up its game to remove unwanted jerks and jitters. The difference is day and night, and it’s impressive how the HERO 6 almost looks like it was mounted on a gimbal thanks to its electronic image stabilization.

Don’t get us wrong, the HERO 5 also has its own EIS, but just not as good as the new flagship’s.

One more thing to notice when the camera’s EIS is turned on is that the HERO 5 needs to crop the image by 10 percent to achieve a smoother shot, while the HERO 6 has improved this and only crops about 5 percent of the original image.

Additionally, stabilization on the HERO 5 can only be used until 2.7K resolution at 60fps, while the HERO 6 supports stabilization until 4K. The only limitation here is that EIS maxes out at 30fps with no support for the higher 60fps.

Onto low-light shooting: Footage taken with the older HERO 5 couldn’t achieve the same level of clarity shot on the HERO 6. Colors are also livelier and digital noise has been reduced significantly on the latter.

Although there were instances, like when we went ice skating, that we preferred the color and details shot by the HERO 5. It looked more natural and the ice on the floor is still visible, unlike the one shot by the HERO 6.

Photo Samples

We now look at some photo samples from both action cameras.

This photo was taken at Italy’s oldest shopping mall and shows a good balance between light and dark areas. We like how the HERO 5 has a higher contrast which added detail to the metal structure of the mall. 

While waiting for a train, we see the sun lighting the Swiss Alps from behind with a dark and shaded station in the foreground. Again, we see a more vibrant blue sky from the HERO 6 with good details.

But look closer on the warning sign in front of you and the HERO 5 was actually able to deliver a better, more legible image. Even when you crop them to 100 percent, the smallest details seem to appear better on the HERO 5.

At night, both proved to be capable shooters, but the HERO 6 showed more details by effectively capturing the cracks on the floor. One thing that I had been complaining about with my HERO 5 is that it easily overshoots light flares, creating an unwanted glow and losing details.

It’s very much distracting here since it washed out the person’s face. Meanwhile, we’re happy that it was addressed on the HERO 6 as it’s clearly the better photo.

Zooming in to 100 percent shows that the green motorcycle has a livelier color and less noise on the HERO 6 compared to its predecessor. Here are more sample photos:

Battery Life

As mentioned earlier in this video, the HERO 6 Black carries the same 1220mAh battery capacity as the HERO 5 Black. So it should technically last for the same amount of time right? Well, no.

We conducted a battery test on the two at full capacities, same video settings, and started recording until they both drained their batteries. After more than an hour and a half, the HERO 6 actually gave up first at 1 hour and 42 minutes while the HERO 5 continued on and reached 2 hours and 5 minutes. That’s 23 minutes of difference and could go a long way in real-world shooting.

Responsible for this result might be the HERO 6’s newer custom processor. Yes, it could produce better dynamic range, low light shots, and stabilize the camera really well — but at the cost of a more power-hungry chip. That’s definitely a trade-off to consider.

Conclusion

So the question here is this: Should you upgrade to a HERO 6 Black from a HERO 5 Black?

Well, you first have to ask yourself the question: Will you be using it to shoot serious action scenes with really fast movement? Are you after the best quality there is? Or are you more of a casual user who just uses a sports camera to document your out-of-town trips?  

 

Because if it’s not for professional work, the HERO 5 Black is more than capable to document all your trips. It’s also worth every penny since it just dropped its price to US$ 299, making it a really attractive offering — not to mention longer battery life.

Although if you plan to use your action videos for broadcast and want to have a lot of flexibility in shooting and editing, then you can’t go wrong with the HERO 6 Black at US$ 399.

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Cameras

Leica Q Snow is white as snow and limited in quantity

In time for the Winter Olympics

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If the name Iouri Podladtchikov doesn’t ring any bells, it should now. Not only is this Swiss man a Winter Olympics gold medalist in snowboarding, he’s also the inspiration behind the beautiful camera you’re seeing here.

The Leica Q isn’t a new camera, but this Snow version certainly is. Built with the same precision and quality as the original, the Leica Q Snow has a silver anodized top plate carved from a single block of aluminum. In front we have premium cowhide leather with its own luxurious texture.

In addition to that, there’s a soft white leather case included, as well as a leather carrying strap in — you guessed it — pure white.

Podladtchikov, who also happens to be a photography enthusiast, already published two books to his name, and has a photography studio waiting to open. He had this to say:

“As a brand ambassador, it’s a fascinating feeling to have inspired a special edition of a camera, but I also see it as an enormous responsibility.”

While it’s obvious that the color white and “Snow” name are inspired by his love for snowboarding, he says that for him the color also symbolizes “carte blanche,” which means complete freedom to be creative.

As gorgeous as this camera is, we shouldn’t forget what a powerhouse it is. It has the same internals as the original Leica Q with a 24-megapixel full-frame image sensor, fast 28mm f/1.7 lens, built-in 3.68-megapixel electronic viewfinder, and Wi-Fi connectivity with a smartphone.

Availability is highly exclusive; only 300 units of this model have been manufactured and sales begin in March 2018. And for the price, it’s a staggering US$ 5,395.

You can check out this limited edition Snow in official Leica stores.

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