Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art Review

Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG “Art” : Prime lens perfection?

We know the new Sigma 85mm f1.4 “Art” lens performed amazingly in the lab when tested by DxO, now online review site Cameralans has published a user review and here’s what they concluded:

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Review Image

From Cameralabs:

“The Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG HSM Art is the latest addition to Sigma’s hugely successful series of “Art” lenses. My tests show that the new lens delivers excellent optical performance: it’s very sharp across a full-frame sensor right up into the corners whether at infinity or normal distances. In fact it produces the sharpest FF/FX-corners of any 85mm I’ve seen with very low coma. And it has a superbly soft Bokeh which makes for very pleasing out-of-focus rendering. Its focus is fast and quiet plus the lens features sealing at the lens-mount and can be updated and adapted to one’s needs from your computer through the separately available USB-dock. Add Sigma’s build-quality of the “Art” series and the option to swap the lens-mount should you change your system or mount it on Sony’s E-mount via Sigma’s MC-11 adapter and you should have a clear winner.

The new Sigma 85/1.4 Art finally brings Sigma’s 85mm prime up to the performance one can expect from a modern lens designed with 36+ MP sensors in mind: It offers the best performing FF/FX-corners and the softest Bokeh of any 85mm lens I know. Plus it is astonishingly resilient against strong contra-light. And although it is not the sharpest in the center, has a little more longitudinal CAs than others, and is a huge and heavy beast of a lens I’d award Sigma’s new 85/1.4 Art a Highly Recommended”.

Good points
Very good image quality across the full-frame area.
Smoothest Bokeh in its class.
Weather sealing at the lens mount.
Quiet and fast AF operation.

Bad points
AF needs fine-tuning via USB-dock.
AF is not the most accurate.
LoCA could be lower.
No image stabilization.

February 2017

Sigma 85mm f1.4 “Art” : As good as it get

Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG “Art” : Amazing value and performance

The technical review site DxO that undertakes lab test inorder to score lenses on their optical prowess has published its test of the Sigma 85mm f1.4 ” Art” prime lens and it produced the highest score EVER.

Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Review Image

The  Sigma which is designed for full frame DSLR’s was paired to a Nikon D810 and D800E both 36mp full frame cameras.

It will be interesting to see if the lens can maintain its amazing performance on more resolute 48mp and 50mp sensor’s, I  can’t see why not?

Once again Sigma’s “Art” lenses have proved themselves as good ( and if not better) than their big named more famous rivals.

February 2017

Panasonic G80 : Worth serious consideration

Panasonic Lumix G80: Don’t dismiss this gem from Panasonic

Online review site Cameralabs has posted a full and detailed review of Panasonic’s mid-level mirroless micro four thgird (M43) camera, the Panasonic Lumix G80.

Here’s a few thoughts and observation from the review.

From Cameralabs:

“Panasonic’s Lumix G80 / G85 is a highly compelling entry into the competitive mid-range market. Like most rivals at this price point, the G80 / G85 offers a viewfinder, articulated touch screen, loads of manual control and Wifi, but goes beyond the pack by additionally packing great quality 4k video, built-in stabilisation that rivals industry leader Olympus, and a weather-sealed body and kit zoom; the icing on the cake is Panasonic’s innovative 4k Photo which exploit 4k video to shoot 8 Megapixel ‘stills’ at 30fps, or adjust the focus or effective depth-of-field after the event. It all adds up to a camera that’s hard to beat for the money.

When comparing the G80 / G85 against the competition, the first most obvious difference is the sensor: a 16 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor that’s both smaller and lower resolution than the 24 Megapixel APSC sensors used by Sony, Fujifilm, Canon and Nikon. But it’s important to note Panasonic has eeked everything it can out of this sensor and in my tests there wasn’t a great deal of discernable difference in real-life detail between them. Even in low light they performed similarly up to 1600 ISO. At higher sensitivities, the APSC sensors suffered from lower noise, but you need to ask yourself how often you’ll need to shoot above 1600 ISO, especially when you take the G80 / G85’s superb image stabilisation into account. If you need to freeze action in low light, such as indoor sports or street photography in the evening, and you demand the cleanest results, you may be better-served by a bigger sensor, but for most situations the G80 / G85 will be more than good enough”

“Panasonic’s Lumix G80 / G85 is a feature-packed camera that stacks-up very well against its rivals. As a mid-range mirrorless camera, you’ll enjoy the usual features including a decent viewfinder, articulated touch-screen, loads of manual control and built-in Wifi, but the G80 / G85 goes the extra mile with great quality 4k video, built-in stabilisation that rivals industry leader Olympus, and a weather-sealed body and kit zoom. Panasonic’s unique 4k Photo modes let you extract stills from video, refocus and even adjust the depth-of-field after the event, and while continuous autofocus during fast bursts is bettered by some rivals, it’ll still track action at 3-6fps with big zooms, and the single autofocus remains one the best around. Overall I find it hard to think of a better general-purpose all-rounder at this price point – highly recommended!”

Good points
Good quality images out-of-camera, close to 20MP models.
Weather-sealed body with big EVF, articulated touch-screen, UHS II slot.
Very impressive built-in stabilisation for stills and videos.
Great quality 4k video with mic input.
Very fast single autofocus speed that also keeps working in very low light.

Bad points
No movie frame rates above 60p, so limited slow motion possibilities.
Rear buttons are too small and flush to the surface.
No USB charging in-camera.
Needs to slow to 3-4fps for continuous AF and live feedback.
Refocusing during movies not as confident as rivals with PDAF.

February 2017

Pentax KP: New APS-C DSLR Announced

Pentax KP DSLR : A Typical Pentax (not a bad thing at all)

Pentax has announced a APS-C compact DSLR the Pentax KP.

Looking a bit like a Nikon Df the new camera packs a new ‘high sensitivity’ 24MP CMOS sensor ( which tops out at ISO 819,200) and internally the camera boasts an improved in-body image stabilization system which promises up to 5-stop of stabilisation.

The camera has an electronic shutter that tops out at 1/24000 sec and a mechanical one which goes to 1/6000 sec.

Like  other Pentax models, the KP supports Pixel Shift Resolution as well as AA Filter Simulation.

The KP uses the same SAFOX 11 autofocus system as the K-3 II, meaning that it has 27 points, 25 of which are cross-type.

The KP’s body is relatively compact in size (its sized like a beafy mirrorless camera which looks like a sort of Nikon Df) and in typical Pentax fashion its sealed against dust and moisture, and functional down to +14F/-10C. It has a pentaprism viewfinder with 95% coverage and a 0.63x (equivalent) magnification (regrettably no 100% coverage), as well as a tilting 3″ touchscreen display with 921K dot resolution.

In typical Pentax fashion you’ll have the ability to change the camera’s grip, with three sizes to choose from, a nice touch.

January 2017

Confirmed: The EM1 II is the best M43 camera

Olympus OM-D EM1 : Worth every penny?

At last cameralabs has completed its in-depth review of the M43 powerhouse which is the Olympus OM-D EM1 II and the article makes a fasinating read.

Basically tye review confirms what every other review has concluded bar none, that the EM1 II is a true and proper powerhouse camera, a genuine high performing “Pro” focussed model that on many levels can and does compete with its bigger APS-C equipped rivals.

Am getting one its just a question when.

Quick Overview of the Olympus OM-D EM1 II

The Olympus OM- EM1 II is the new high -end flagship Micro Four Third ( M43) camera body from Olympus.

The camera is equipped with a brand new 20 Megapixel Live MOS sensor that also has 121-point embedded phase-detect AF points which cover a larger area of the frame than the previous EM1. The phase-detect points are all the sensitive cross-type that work and work alongside a contrast-based system for both Single and Continuous AF. The new beefed up AF system works for Micro as well as older Four Thirds lenses plus Panasonic lenses are supported.

The in-body stabilisation system has been improved to offer a claimed 5.5 stops of compensation or a scarsely believeable 6 to 6,5 stop stabilisation with lenses that support Sync IS (presently only M.Zuiko 300mm telephoto and the new 12-100mm f4 IS PRO zoom)

Impressively the EM1 Mark II will shoot at its full resolution (including RAW) up to 18fps with continuous AF or 60fps with single AF, and deploys a dedicated quad-core processor to AF duties.

The viewfinder still uses an LCD ( as opposed to OLED) and is the same size and resolution as the one in the EM1, but now features a faster 120fps refresh and 6ms response, while the touch-screen has become side-hinged and fully-articulated.

For video joining 1080 video there is 4k UHD and Cinema4k recording at 102 and 237Mbps respectively.

Finally there’s now dual SD memory card slots, a higher capacity battery with quicker charging, and the rugged better sculptured body remains dust, splash and freeze-proof.

All in all one hell of a spec list.

Review From Cameralabs

“Good points
Best-in-class built-in stabilisation for stills and movies.
Tough weather-proof body with twin card slots and great ergonomics.
Effective continuous AF up to 18fps (electronic) or 10fps (mechanical).
High speed bursts up to 60fps, including full-res RAW (48 frames at top speed).
Very good JPEGs from camera; come close to 24MP APSC in resolving power.
Large battery for mirrorless, and quick charging too.
Great quality 4k UHD and C4k video. Flat profile option.
High Res mode generates images up to 50MP under ideal conditions.
Pro Capture mode buffers up to 14 frames prior to shutter press”.

“Bad points
No indication of shots remaining in buffer during burst shooting.
Can’t playback images while buffer is emptying (but can still shoot).
Auto ISO not available above 6400 ISO nor in Movie manual mode.
Autofocus during movies can be hesitant and inconsistent.
Timelapse movies at low frame rates when encoded in 1080p or 4k.
Articulated screen can interfere with mic, headphone and HDMI ports.
No battery charging in-camera over USB.
Sensor output not as clean as larger formats above 6400 ISO in my tests”.

From Cameralabs: Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II final verdict

“The Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II takes the popular weatherproof Mark I, deepens the grip, adds twin memory card slots and employs the most generous battery of any mirrorless camera. It improves the already amazing stabilisation, adds a minor boost in resolution and offers a cunning composite mode which under the right conditions can increase the resolving power up to 50 Megapixels.

The major upgrades though concern video and autofocus. The EM1 Mark II shots great quality 4k and Cinema4k video which work a treat with the stabilisation, while a new embedded AF system can genuinely track moving action at up to 18fps; switch to Single AF and it’ll even shoot up to 48 RAWs at 60fps. It all adds up to a supremely confident and capable camera that can capture images where others can’t, but you’ll really have to need the 4k and or burst capabilities to justify the professional price tag. There’s a lot of very compelling rivals for the same or less money. But if you’ll exploit the feature-set, the EM1 Mark II becomes one of the most powerful and desirable cameras in its class and justifies its asking price regardless of format”.

My Take:

There is VERY little realistically that Olympus could have done to improve on the EM1 II bar maybe a more resolute viewfinder (Like the one in the new Panasonic GH4) and allowing in-camera USB charging?

Image quality is as close to the very best APS-C cameras as to make no real world difference so long as you keep to sub ISO 1600 and even so higher ISO settings are still perfectly useable.

True the EM1 II isn’t cheap but the sort of performance and technolgy it packs was always going to come at a cost.

If your a current M43 user and seek the best take a long hard look at the Olympus OM-D EM1 II

January 2017