Nikon has been hyping the release of their new Z series flagship ‘Z9’ for weeks now. Much was already known about the specs of this camera – 8K 30 (at launch with 8K 60 coming in a firmware update in 2022), 4K 120, 45 megapixel stills, 20 fps shooting at full size, 120 fps shooting at 11 megapixel in JPEG. But the two details that were revealed today were the biggest – first, the Z9 doesn’t have a mechanical shutter. Now, all mirrorless cameras have the ability to shoot via an electronic shutter. But the Z9 is the first serious mirrorless camera to dispense with the mechanical shutter altogether.
One of the main reasons the mechanical shutter continues to live in most mirrorless cameras is something called “rolling shutter”. It’s a phenomena that occurs when shooting with an electronic shutter and the camera is panned while shooting, resulting in the contents being skewed during the pan. This is essentially due to the camera processor not being fast enough to process the data being fed from the shutter properly. Mitigating rolling shutter in stills and especially video is the holy grail on the path to eliminating the mechanical shutter. The benefit of dropping the mechanical shutter are immense. The mechanical shutter is one of the most fragile parts of the camera, and is one that usually has a rated lifespan of actuations before it becomes inoperable and needs to be replaced. So dropping the mechanical shutter should make the camera easier to manufacture and give it a longer lifespan.
The other detail that was a bit of a surprise was the price. $5499. While this is about $1000 more than the Sony Alpha A9 II, of which this camera will be competing with, it is also a more ‘pro’ offering in terms of body ergonomics and features. Most people (myself included), expected this camera to be a good $1000 more, since the D6 – which this camera is intended to replace – costs $6499. And it costs $500 less than the comparable Canon R3. So bravo to Nikon.
Time will tell if the Nikon Z9 will convince pro shooters to stay with Nikon. But if Nikon can manage to produce enough of these, I suspect they will have a hit with pro stills shooters and pro video shooters alike.
The yearly iPhone 13 event has come and gone, and pre-orders for the new devices (except for the Apple Watch Series 7) have begun. I was pretty adamant, based on the rumors, that I would skip the iPhone 13 and stick with my trusty Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro. However, a few things changed my mind.
First, the upgrades this year are pretty modest. But, when you are dealing with a product as mature as the iPhone, you aren’t going to get revolutionary features every year.
What did we get? With the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 13, we got bigger batteries, slightly better camera lenses and sensors (though still limited to 12 megapixels), a new sensor shift (ie, image stabilization) feature, and of course, a new processor – the A15 Bionic. The new processor is the key feature, as it powers some nice new software features. Specifically, the Cinematic Mode that is present on all the iPhone 13 models. This feature allows you to perform rack focus in video, something that is sure to elevate the iPhone 13 from a nice tool to augment filmmakers, to one that can be at the center of their workflows. Another software upgrade to the camera app, Photograph Styles, allows you to apply photo filters to the live image while you are shooting to see what the filters will look like before you capture the shot. Apple claims that these filters apply only to the areas of the photo that you would want them to – specifically, leaving skin tones as natural.
The Pro models now feature the same identical camera systems, so the only real differentiator between the Pro and the Pro Max now are battery life and screen size.
What Apple did to differentiate the standard models from the Pro models this year is small tweaks throughout the features. These consist of:
120hz refresh rate. This adaptive refresh rate ramps up and down depending upon what you are doing. But with support at 120hz for games, the gaming experience on the Pro models is going to feel significantly more premium than the base models. The big question is how will this affect battery life. I’ll let you know when my iPhone 13 Pro arrives.
More RAM (4GB on the iPhone 13 Mini/13, 6GB on the Pro/Pro Max)
Extra GPU Core – 4 on the standard models, 5 on the Pro
Batter cameras with faster apertures for the wide, ultra wide. Ultra wide cameras on the Pro models also feature auto focusing capabilities, giving them the ability to perform macro shots.
Ability to shoot in ProRes video recording. This is coming in a software update later this year. The ability to shoot in 4K ProRes is limited to the 256GB models (ProRes video formats created incredibly large files, and 128GB wouldn’t be enough to store more than a few minutes of 4K footage). 128GB models can shoot in 1080p ProRes.
So the value proposition is this: Apple improved the overall base model iPhone 13 experience in the batteries, cameras, processors, and added some nice video features (Cinematic Mode/Photograph Styles). The main reason to buy the 12 Pro (apart from the larger screen/battery of the 12 Pro Max), comes down to a better gaming experience, better photographic and video hardware and software), and the increased RAM giving your device the ability to keep more apps running simultaneously. I find the Pro value proposition quite smaller and more targeted this year than most other years. I’d really recommend the Pro models to people who either have to have the larger display size of the Pro Max, or people who actually use their phones for semi-pro or professional video applications. Everyone else will be better served to stick with the iPhone 13 standard models.
So the Series 7 Apple Watch is one of the smaller updates to date. It received a small upgrade in screen size, and really… not much else. There’s speculation based upon supply chain leaks about what was expected vs what was delivered that Apple scrapped the real Series 7 plans a few months ago, and instead scrambled at the last minute to put together a substitute release. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it definitely feels like this release is small compared to other years. No new ground breaking applications for the Series 7, just small refinements to screen size and some other software editions. If you have a Series 6, you can save your money until next year and not feel like you are missing out on a lot.
The iPad mini got an update that brings it inline with the iPad Air. There’s no more Home Screen button, replaced with the fingerprint reader on the power button like the iPad Air. I’m not a fan of this design, as you get a mixed experience – navigating your iPad with gestures like you have FaceID, but authenticating with putting your finger on the power button, which, depending upon how you are holding the device, can be a bit of a disruption.
Otherwise, you get a slightly underclocked A15 chip in the mini, 5G support (in the cellular models, but no mmWave support), and some new colors. Fans of the minis form factor will probably be happy that it got some love, but at a $499/649 price point. for 64GB/256GB configurations, the mini isn’t the value proposition it once was.
The base model iPad got a small update as well. It is now sporting an A13 processor and a true-tone display. The base model also went form 32GB to 64GB. The entry level iPad remains one of the better technology buys at $329, not just from Apple, but from any company. The spec bumped version now features 256GB of storage, but at an increased cost of $479. Otherwise both still use the same accessories and case sizes as before.
So what swayed me to get the iPhone 13 Pro instead of holding steady with my 12 Pro? First off, the new Cinematic Video features look impressive, and will be a welcome addition to my videography toolset. Second, the addition of macro photography is another feature that I could justify upgrading for. Finally, the improvement in battery life sealed the deal. Battery life on my 12 Pro hasn’t been bad, but I’ve noticed in the last month or so that I’m running out of battery regularly before the day is over. The Battery Health is rated at 88%, so I’ve had 12% degradation in about a year of everyday use. This isn’t terrible, but it’s enough that had I kept my iPhone 12 Pro, I probably would have opted for a battery upgrade before the year was out. Upgrading to the new model solves that problem for me, and gets me some very nice photo/video features as well.
If you saw/read my review of the TechArt TCZ-01 Adapter, you’ll have the main gist of what the Commlite CM-EF-NZ adapter does: it allows you to use your Canon EF glass on your Nikon Z camera. The Commlite adapter, in functionality, is nearly identical to the TechArt adapter. However, there are a few differences in the builds of these adapters.
The Commlite Adapter features it’s MicroUSB port (for firmware upgrades), in the adapter itself. The TechArt adapter MicroUSB port is attached to the lens dock (which is essentially the lens cap). In this regard, I find the Commlite solution better, as there’s always the possiblity of losing the lens cap and by extension, the ability to update the firmware.
The other major difference between the two is that the Commlite adapter features a built in tripod foot, similar to the foot that the Nikon FTZ adapter has. Unlike the FTZ adpater, the Commlite foot can be easily removed. I find that, while nice to have, I leave the tripod foot off most of the time. If I were adapting a heavier or larger lens (say the Canon 85mm 1.2 L), I could see the tripod foot being useful.
Performance wise, they were nearly identical. Both focused fast with the lenses I tested and either would be suitable to the task of adapting Canon glass to the Nikon Z bodies. Both captured EXIF data from the lens, but neither captured the lens brand name. For example, the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM lens just identified as a ’50mm f1.8′.
Between the two, I prefer the Commlite adapter over the TechArt. The MicroUSB port in the adapter vs. on the lens cap, and the removable tripod foot are advantages for the Commlite adapter. Additionally, the Commlite is $10 cheaper than the TechArt adapter. Either will get the job done, but the Commlite is my pick.
In you haven’t been living under a rock for the last week, you’ve probably seen the countless videos of the X-T4 in action. It seems Fujifilm blanketed anyone with a YouTube channel an X-T4 for review (except me, thanks Fujifilm). If you’ve watched any of those videos, you’ve seen the wonderful improvements Fujifilm has made to the X-T4 over the X-T3 – IBIS, bigger battery life and the fully articulating “vari-angle” screen being the stand out features. The X-T4, when it starts shipping at the end of April, is sure to be one of Fujifilms best sellers. But let’s take a minute to talk about what happens after the X-T4.
A few interesting nuggets of information accompanies the X-T4’s launch. First, is that the X-T3 will continue to live alongside the X-T4 in the Fujifilm lineup. At $1299 for the body, this is going to be a great camera at a great price. And really, if you are looking at buying either the X-T3 or the X-T4, and you don’t need or like the fully articulating screen, don’t need IBIS, or are OK with the smaller battery (and body size), the X-T3 will save you $400. What will be interesting to see is what happens on the next iteration. Will Fujifilm make an X-T3 Mark II? Will the X-T3 remain in the body lineup for years as is, while the X-T4 will receive a new sensor and processor on the next iteration? It will be interesting to see. Perhaps the more interesting nugget of information released was that Fujifilm has not abandoned the X-H line. The big differentiator between the X-T and the X-H lines was IBIS, and now that the X-T4 has gained that advantage, all that really separates the two lines are the body shape.
I suspect if the X-H line is going to soldier on, then Fujifilm sees it as a way to reach a market segment that the X-T line still isn’t reaching after it’s latest additions. Perhaps Fujifilm believes that with a bigger body, in the next iteration, they can give the X-H2 an even better implementation of IBIS. Or maybe they believe they can use the larger body to increase the processing power of the X-H2 to such that it could shoot at 30 fps and give it a buffer that can handle sustained sports shooting. Whatever they add to the X-H2, I’m sure it will position that camera as a more professional alternative to the X-T4. The biggest knock on Fujifilm and their current lens lineup is that there aren’t a lot of options for sports shooters. The XF 200mm f/2 R LM OIS WR is a beautiful, capable lens. But it doesn’t cover all the ranges a professional photographer shooting sports and wildlife might need. There’s a couple of lenses Fujifilm is releasing in 2020 that haven’t been identified on the lens roadmap. These lenses, when announced may tip their hand at what Fujifilm has in store for the X-H2.
As someone who has owned every X-T camera since the release of the X-T1, it’s been a joy to see Fujifilm build their camera lineup from a small, capable, lightweight DSLR replacement with a few compromises, to a fully tricked out DSLR killer with the X-T4. Video, which was just downright terrible on the X-T1, is now the signature feature of the X-T4. And it’s class leading. The sheer amount of video options that Fujifilm has stuffed in the X-T3 and the X-T4 is just showing off at this point. Sure, the removal of headphone jack on the X-T4 is a step backwards. But with the option to restore that feature via the dongle or the battery grip, it’s not a crippling feature. It’s just an annoyance on what is, one paper at least, nearly the perfect hybrid camera.
Autofocus, which was a joke on the original X-T1 is now in the same league as Sony, which is generally considered to be the segment leader in autofocus. And no other camera manufacturer has been as dedicated as Fujifilm in releasing firmware updates that improve AF with nearly each release.
So, those are my thoughts on the X-T4 and the future. What do you think? Are you happy that the X-T4 addressed the battery, articulating screen and IBIS? Are you going to upgrade to the X-T4? Do you think Fujifilm left space in their lineup for a new X-H2? Sound off below and let me know what you think.
If you are a Nikon Z shooter, and are looking to to expand your lens options beyond the small-ish selection of Nikon Z mount lenses and the large selection of Nikon F mount lenses, you have options.
Enter the TechArt TZC-01, a lens adapter that will allow you to use your Canon EF mount glass on your Nikon Z camera. TechArt also makes a version that will allow Sony E mount lenses to work on the Z mount as well, but for this review, I’m focusing on the Canon EF version.
The adapter is about what you’d expect from a lens mount adapter. It’s roughly the same size as the Nikon FTZ adapter, albeit without the tripod mount attachment that the FTZ features.
The adapter is built solidly, featuring a brass mounting ring, metal construction, and 1.45 oz / 41.0 g weight. If you are used to shooting with the FTZ, this won’t feel much different.
An unexpectedly nice feature of the TechArt TZC-01 is the lens dock, which is really just the lens cap. It features metal contacts to interface with the adapter, and a Micro-USB port, allowing you to deliver firmware updates to the adapter as they become available. How useful this feature is will ultimately rest with the manufacturer, and if they ever decide to issue a firmware update. But, it’s good to know that if Nikon ever issued a firmware update that rendered the TZC-01 inoperative, TechArt might be able to push their own firmware update out that would restore compatibility.
I jumped off the Canon system years ago, so I didn’t have many lenses to test against. My sole Canon EF lens I’ve retained – the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM II lens – aka the ‘nifty-fifty’, was the first test subject. Autofocus was quick, and all the standard auto focus options that are available to native Z mount lenses – Eye/Face autofocus and Animal AF – new to the Z with firmware 3.0 – worked great.
I rented the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L lens for testing as well from Aperturent. Being a macro lens, this is not a super fast focusing lens even when used on a native EF mount body. That said, the lens performed admirably on both the Nikon Z6 and Z7.
Using the adapter, the camera will pick up limited EXIF data from the lens. You will get the maximum F stop and the focal length, but not the lens brand name. For instance, the Canon EF 100mm f2.8 L lens identifies only as ‘100mm f2.8’. This isn’t a dealbreaker, as I noticed when I was testing out the Sigma 70-200 f2.8 Sport lens on the Nikon Z cameras with the FTZ adapter, it too didn’t report the brand name of the lens.
At $249.00, I’ll leave it to you to decide if the price is worth the benefit. I suspect if you love your Nikon Z cameras, and have access to a good selection of Canon EF mount glass, the price of admission is worth it.
There are some quality Canon EF lenses that don’t have a Nikon Z (or let alone a Nikon F) equivalent. The Canon EF 50mm 1.2 and Canon 85mm f1.2 come to mind. Both of those lenses are beasts and have some great optical characteristics (namely, the insane bokeh both feature). However, neither were autofocus speed demons when mounted on the Canon 5D IV, so I wouldn’t expect them to be any better mounted on the Nikon Z cameras. Still, until Nikon ships the 50mm. 1.2 S lens sometime this year, it’s an option.
If you are a Canon EF shooter moving over to the Nikon Z ecosystem, this adapter could be indispensable as you slowly convert you glass to native Z mount offerings, as they become available over the next few years.
The Nikon D780, the successor to the popular 2014 D750, has long been rumored to be released in early January. Nikon Rumors just published pics and pricing of the D780 (and two other lenses and a new Coolpix camera) that all but confirm it’s release.
Nikon D780 Specs:
12 fps continuous shooting speed
Eye detect AF (presumably in Live view)
273 AF areas in live view (just like the Z6)
Shutter speed: 1/8,000 – 900s
3.2-inch 2.36 million dot articulated TFT LCD tilting touchscreen
Price (including tax): body 14,800 RMB, 24-120 kit 18,300 RMB (around $2,000 for the body)
Not content with just releasing a new D750 successor, Nikon is also releasing the long expected AF-S Nikkor 120-300 f/2.8E FL ED SR VR. It’s expected in February of this year for about $10,000. You would kind of expect that this lens would be released alongside the D6, since they are considered to be Nikon’s one-two-punch for the 2020 Olympics, but the D6 release date still hasn’t been tipped.
Additionally, the ‘lost in the lens map roadmap reshuffle’ Nikon 70-200 f2.8 S lens for the Z camera system is revealed as being released in March of this year for about $2600 USD.
Today, I’m going to talk about the differences (and similarities) of XQD and CFExpress.
Now, if you are a Nikon Z shooter or a Sony Camcorder shooter, you already know what XQD cards are. For the rest of you, XQD is a format, developed by Sony, that allows for high speed transfers – 1gb/s to 4gb/s – and larger storage sizes – theoretically over 2TB (although the largest card you can buy at this time is 240GB).
XQD is designed for professional applications. The card itself is thicker and larger than an SD card, and it’s construction is generally sturdier and more robust as a result. The cards themselves are designed for fast read and write speeds, allowing you to clear the buffer of your camera quickly. For video, they are fast enough to write out full 4K 30 footage without any issues.
XQD cards are used in the Nikon Z6/Z7, D850, D500, D4s, D5, PhaseOne XF IQ4, and some Sony camcorders.
The XQD format was developed by Sony, but you can find XQD cards manufactured by Sony, Nikon (which are most likely Sony cards rebranded), SanDisk, Delkin, and Prograde. XQD cards tend to be more expensive than SD cards, but that can generally be attributed to their more rugged design, faster speeds, and generally higher reliability than SD cards.
Now, much has been made about the Nikon Z6/Z7 only having one XQD card slot, and while redundancy is an important tool in a professional setting, the higher quality and lower failure rate of XQD cards means that you shouldn’t need the extra card slot for reliability. Still, some people refuse to trust a camera that doesn’t offer a second card option for redundancy.
So what is CFExpress?
CFExpress is a card format that is physically the same size as XQD, and pin for pin compatible with XQD. Any device that uses XQD should be able to theoretically use CFExpress with a firmware update. CFExpress is not owned by an entity, like XQD is owned by Sony, so there isn’t the issue of licensing royalties that need to be paid when using CFExpress. CFExpress also uses two PCI lanes of PCI Express, which provides twice the throughput of XQD.
CFExpress cards are just now hitting the market, with cards by Sony, ProGrade and SanDisk being available now, and cards from Delkin, Lexar and Wise coming soon.
So late in 2019, Nikon released the long promised firmware update to allow the Z6/Z7 to use CFExpress cards. The update however, only promised compatibility – for now – with the Sony cards. Additional manufacturer card support is promised in the future, as Nikon has time to test and certify these cards with the cameras. The Nikon D850, D500 and D4s and D5 are still promised the CFExpress update, which should be coming in the near future.
So the obvious question is – if I own a camera that supports XQD cards, and now it also supports CFExpress cards, is there any advantage to switching to CFExpress cards?
And the answer, right now, is not really.
First of all, the prices for CFExpress cards vs similarly configured CFExpress are nearly identical.
Second, while CFExpress cards are faster than XQD cards, the camera writing the actual data hasn’t changed, and it can only write that data so fast. So while CFExpress gives you more read/write headroom than XQD, don’t expect your camera to be able to utilize that speed.
Another consideration in the switch from XQD to CFExpress is with any peripherals you use to read the cards. If you bought an XQD card reader to pull images in to your computer, don’t expect that XQD card reader to be able to read that CFExpress card. Sure, the manufacturer could theoretically provide a firmware update to make it compatible, but there has yet to be any XQD card reader that is getting this type of upgrade. Considering that most XQD card readers cost less than $50, I wouldn’t expect any of them to offer an upgrade path to CFExpress. Instead, they’re expecting that you will shell out another $50 or so for their CFExpress card reader. Such is the price of progress.
So in short, CFExpress is the future. Now that it has arrived, expect it to supplant XQD rather quickly, and when new cameras arrive that take advantage of it, expect it to offer even better read/write speeds than XQD. In existing cameras that have been upgraded to use CFExpress in addition to XQD cards, expect that you get another card options that will work just as well as XQD.
So if you are a XQD user, do you plan to update to CFExpress? Let me know down below in the comments.