Auto HDR and Zero Sharpness December 2012, Carl Garrard
Even though I think that Sony can improve the Jpeg engine in the A57,
there remains a scenario where I still will allow out of camera Jpegs
to be used. As the title of this article implies, I like to set my A57
for zero sharpness when using the Jpeg engine, and, use BASE ISO (as much as possible) along
with HDR. In a way the Jpegs are three times better than a
standard Jpeg considering there is a stack of 3 together into one.
Sharpening out of camera, means you control that process almost
completely yourself (as the OOC Jpegs at -3 sharpness are very soft
indeed and look nearly untouched as seen below).
Panasonic DMC-G3 Deal and Quick Review
December 2012, Carl Garrard
Panasonic DMC-G3Review- The last Panasonic I reviewed was the excellent DMC-L1.
That camera is truly a work of art, and shows what Panasonic is capable
of. And now the Panasonic G3 gets my attention. Yes it's a bit older but I don't feel constrained to just review new cameras. So lets get right onto my real bonafide quick review. Let me start by saying that I feel in a way Panasonic has been slipping lately- trying to keep up
so much with the heated race of m4/3 has left them a bit desperate with
designing and functionality. The newest designs just seem nervous to me, for lack of a better word- and the G3 is no exception. I didn't like the G1 nearly at all, so how does the G3 sit with me?
Sony sent us here at Photographic-Central (and AMW) a camera for review today, the *new* NEX-6 and 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Here's A Sony NEX-6 Amazon Deal
So I'll finally be able to put this camera to it's paces and let you
all know what I think of it. That's right, yes I will! More to follow
folks. The camera is charging and later on I will be using it low light as well as getting to know that menu system and getting the camera set up to my specifications. Lots in this little rangefinder styled camera to use, lots of tools oh yes, so I need time to get to know my new little friend...
B&H Photo and Video are running a deal on the G15 that expires on December 29th. For $419.00 you get the G15, a free 16gb class 10 SDHC card, a Pearstone camera case, free 2 day shipping and NO sales tax. Now this was a deal that was too good for me to even pass up. For those of you waiting... you might not want to push it. I think this is as good as it's going to get for quite a while. Jump on it. I'm not one to normally go out of my way to post deals on this blog but felt it was truly worthy of making it known. CANON G15 $419.00 B&H DEAL
Aberlour A'Bunadh Review- Single Malt Scotch Whisky Sherry Bomb!
Aberlour A'Bunadh (or, the origin) is my 14th whisky brand I've tried in the last 6 months or so. I'm new to scotch whisky, but I'm learning quickly. This particular whisky received very high ratings from several reviews and thus, peaked my interest. A local shop in Costa Mesa CA called High Time Cellars, stocks this beauty so I made a run there to try it out. Lets get right to the chase here, this malt lives up to all expectation in quality and overall deliciousness. I'm a big Springbank fan (a unique distillery look them up) so any Whisky that can impress me beyond that brand is worth recommending.
DPReview has posted the long awaited Sony A99 review. Sony's A99 is the current full frame flagship DSLR with a fixed semi-transparent mirror. It's more of a hybrid DSLR much like the Canon EOS 5D MK III in that it can shoot professional quality video just as surely as still images. The main difference between what Sony offers and what the competition offers are two things: An electronic viewfinder and a fixed semi-trans mirror system vs. a glass prism viewfinder and moving mirror. Take a look at what DPR have to say about the A99.
Canon G10 Review- A Powerhouse Compact
November 2012, Carl Garrard
Canon G10 Review- The Canon G10 has been said to be the wolf in sheep's clothing. That it can't deliver the goods from its brilliantly serious, enthusiast friendly, function follows form design. It's said that it's sensor is too small and noisy to deliver professional quality results above its lowest sensitivity. Lastly, that the G10 is really just as good as any other small compact camera's output of its time. Ultimately then, the greatest criticisms of the G10 surround its sensor and its processor. Three models have replaced it since, so all of that must be true right? Well, I certainly beg to differ. Read more.. Canon Powershot G10 Best Current Used Price
Fujifilm XS1- Preview- October has literally filled my office with cameras from several manufacturers, with the latest coming from none other than Fujifilm (a pleasant surprise). The XS1 arrived very quickly new in box: Pristine and untouched too (kudos Fujifilm). I first handled the XS1 back at CES when they were unfinished pre-production products, and although I had just a quick handle, the camera impressed me quite a bit. Today I used the real deal and although my testing is preliminary, I've enough to share a preview of the camera with a full review to follow later on.
I've had less than a half a day with the new Canon G15, but it's been a very pleasurable experience. Right out of the box and in the hand I knew this camera was the G series camera I've been waiting for from Canon. No it doesn't have everything I'd prefer, but its likely to be the best one yet. I know this line of camera well, I've owned, reviewed, or evaluated every G series camera since the G6. Therefore I'm intimate to what the G15 has in common with its predecessors already.
The Macallan- Thanks Neil: Neil Peart drums for my favorite progressive rock band of all time- Rush. He's recommended this whisky on more than one occasion, and to date I have not yet had the privilege of enjoying this fine crafted Scotch. Tonight was my first (and second/third) taste of The Macallan, and I can see why Neil endorses it so. Yes this post is a huge deviation from the normal camera related reviews I do here on this blog but nevertheless my blog was started as a free platform to talk about whatever I like. Hence I figured, I'd share some glee about a Scotch Whisky that I'd definitely recommend. The Macallan is a pretty popular brand as far as Irish Scotch Whisky goes, so for scotch fans this endorsement should come as no surprise.
Sony 18-135mm SAM f/3.5-5.6 Review
September 2012, Carl Garrard
Sony 18-135mm SAM f/3.5-5.6 Review: Sony's Alpha camera division has shown some interesting cards in the DSLR game of late. They've shown that they are listening more intently to enthusiasts needs than ever, both in the product types and how the products are being designed. It's a refreshing change of events that I'll be honest has taken me quite a bit by surprise. Ever a fan of a good bang for the buck lens, Sony introduced the 18-135mm SAM lens earlier this year when the announced the Alpha A37 SLT model. Yet its just now, that I'm getting around to actually testing this lens on one of Sony's better camera models ever- the Sony A57. Join me for a review adventure of galactical proportions (space helmet, on!).
Sony Alpha A57 Review and Thoughts
August 2012, Carl Garard
Sony Alpha A57 Review and Thoughts: Recently I've had the pleasure to use Sony's Alpha A57, after quite a hiatus from using Sony slt/dslr models. The break was needed, I had to detach myself from the EVF/SLR concept Sony were trying to pull off on the market in order to let that concept completely sink in. After the hiatus a few models emerged, and one of them being the A57. To me the A57 is the most mature SLT Sony has brought to the market, with none of the glitches that plagued earlier models and a sensor which, quite frankly, I feel to be superior as an overall design decision than other models.
Tamron Announces Development of SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD
September 2012, Carl Garrard
Woo hoo, another nice 90mm Macro lens. I reviewed Tamrons venerable older model so I'm quite excited to see how the new one performs. The older lens was tack sharp and made gorgeous images so its going to be difficult to improve upon that. Main improvements are the new optical design, addition of vibration control (VC), new sexy look, and USD (Ultra Sonic Drive). So a quieter, faster focusing, better performing optic is coming! Great news! By first impression this lens looks a lot like the very excellent 60mm f/2 macro that I fell in love with when I reviewed that lens at www.alphamountworld.com (both the 90mm and 60mm reviews are there). Can't wait to use this lens, sounds like it handles better and is faster and quieter to use in general. A great lens for portraiture more so than ever with those improvements.
This was announced from Sony Japan on a website so I don't have a lot of information. Looks like the A-Mount gets a new Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZA SSM lens in spring of 2013. This is an excellent edition to the 35mm Zeiss (and others) already available by plugging that gap, and strengthens Sony's already very solid lens lineup for the A-Mount even more. I guess things are going well for Sony at Photokina this year. More info on this lens later on as it develops.
Sony Alpha A99 Preview September 2012, Carl Garrard
Sony Alpha A99 Preview: Today Sony announces the long awaited (and rumored) A900 replacement, the Alpha A99 SLT. The A99 comes in with the same 24mp of resolution as the camera it replaces, but in a completely different form factor, improved weather sealing, a raft of video features, and of course the SLT mirror design. This is Sony's new flagship still image camera for the interim and shows Sony's full commitment to the SLT design with its full lineup now complete with SLT cameras and no traditional DSLR design on the marketplace.
Sony Cybershot RX1 Preview September 2012, Carl Garrard
Sony Cybershot RX1 Preview: The first fixed lens compact camera with a Full Frame sensor. Who thought it would be Sony, raise your hand? Of those few of you with hands raised, who thought it would be the Cybershot division? I doubt there are any hands in the air at this point. I am surprised, and pleasantly. Yes the price is high, yes this is a niche camera, but so what! Just when I thought (and I'm sure others did too) the Cybershot division were never going to make another "serious" camera again, Sony fire two shots nearly back to back. First the RX100 and now the RX1 model.
Sony NEX6 Preview: Sony's NEX 6 is a bold move for the NEX lineup of cameras. Sporting the wildly popular 16mp sensor (found in many other makers cameras including Sony's in the Alpha and NEX line), a new hotshoe, improved handling, built in EVF, and revamped menu system- this camera could really end up being the biggest seller of the new announcements easily. If you ask me, it looks like the Sony V3 replacement with lines and heritage back to those Cybershot glory days.
Samsung EX2F Review- I love me some serious compacts. My time with the EX2f's predecessor, the EX1 (TL500) although short, was pretty positive. I remember when that camera came out and how excited I was for Samsung to bring something like that to the market. At the time I had my hands full and couldn't do a review of that camera, and just never got around to doing one afterwards. But now, my slate is clean, timing is indeed everything. Lets get started...
Predictions: This camera may not be the high performance camera many are hoping for in terms of speed of frame rate or buffer capability- probably similar to the A77 on the latter. Likely the rumor of 24mp will indeed be true, but I also think the ISO level will not be very high at all- definitely not the 102K or even 51K ISO level. Sony SLR/SLT Best Prices
Sony NEX-5R- Announced and Previewed
August 2012, Carl Garrard
Sony NEX-5R Preview: Today Sony has launched its next generation 5 series NEX (pronounced en-eee-ex) mirrorless interchangeable camera. This new NEX-5R camera features a new tilt up screen, a 16mp dual autofocus system sensor with phase detection pixels built direct into its structure supplemented with contrast detect auto focus, a customizable control dial and function buttons, a touch screen LCD w/touch auto focus, digital level guage, wireless file transfer, upgraded battery life, 10fps shooting speed, full HD video, and a raft of Sony standard features like DRO, Multi-shot NR, Sweep Panorama, and many many others. Body only price? $650.00. BEST SONY NEX PRICES
Panasonic FZ200 Review (First Look) August 2012, Carl Garrard
FZ200 Review: Panasonic's FZ200 is probably the most exciting superzoom announcement that I can recall in the last 10 years, at least on paper. Today I decided to purchase my very own FZ200 as soon as I learnt that a local shop had (two) of them in stock. Packed jammed full of just about every modern feature you can ask for, plus the headliner 25-600mm f/2.8 zoom lens (constant aperture is right), I just had to get one despite the fact that I was just there to see it in the flesh and give it a try. Lets take a look. Prices Panasonic DMC-FZ200 -Black
Canon EOS 50D DSLR Review- Final
June 2012, Carl Garrard Canon EOS 50D Review- Final: Canon has quite a few good DSLRS on the market dating back to as far as 2003 as far as I'm concerned, which gives the DSLR shooter on a budget a lot of options at a much lower price than modern DSLR bodies. Canon's 50D is one such DSLR, and one in which I feel after looking back on comments (and withdrawing from memory) got a bad rap far more than it should. Comparing the 50D to today's DSLR's on specifications and you might find it has a lot more in common with them than you think a DSLR announced in August of 2008 should. This is one loaded DSLR with lots of resolution and features that, on paper at least, stands up quite well with today's newest DSLRS on the market- even against Canon's own EOS 7D (which is again about to be replaced). I've written much more detail in this final review than my initial impressions article, so read on if you'd like. Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP DSLR Current Price Check
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens Review
June 2012, Carl Garrard
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens Review: Today I had an opportunity to be one of the first to use Canon's new 40mm EF f/2.8 STM lens shipped by B&H Photo (personal purchase). I am a big fan of the 40mm focal length for both full frame and APS-C formats, and as such this review will be completed using two bodies with this lens on both aforementioned formats. My test bodies are the Canon 5D and Canon 50D DSLRS for this review. When Canon first announced this lens I instantly purchased it even though Canon offered to send me a review unit for evaluation. And I let them know that too. Canon 40mm EF f/2.8 STM Lens
Cybershot shooters have been wanting a full featured compact camera ever since Sony abandoned the idea in 2006 when they purchased Konica Minolta and started the Alpha DSLR system. The last Cybershot that catered to enthusiast needs was the Sony DSC-R1, back in 2005. The RX100 is the first camera to incorporate a raw file option since then. But, is the RX100 the camera that Cybershot shooters have been asking for years? I doubt it.
Canon EOS 50D Review- Initial Impressions: So recently I added a 5D for my full frame photography kit, and now the Canon 50D to do APS-C work. One is the family wagon, and the other is the sports car- metaphorically speaking. I chose the 50D because of its rigid and excellent body style, lighter weight, lower price, and yet highly featured set against the 7d to which I previously owned and subsequently sold.
I don't want video on a DSLR at this time, and rarely shoot above 3200 ISO. Also, and quite frankly, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on an APS-C body. The 50D ticked nearly every box initially, including weather sealing, so that was the choice I made. Now lets see how my initial impressions bear out.
If you relatively new to the A-Mount or, you are hunting around wondering what lenses to buy for your Minolta or Sony DSLR (etal), these are a list of 'must have' lenses for your kit. Know that none of the lenses listed here will break your wallet, and they all offer excellent optical performance in one or more important practical performance characteristics ( performance you'll appreciate when printing or looking at the images). Links are the best I could find for Amazon, just as a quick reference.