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VOLUME 72 NUMBER 4, 2016 www.avhub.com.au

ADAM FERGUSON On The Challenges Of Photographing In Conflict Zones

BEAUTY & BR AINS Fujifilm’s Brilliant X-Pro2 On Test BenQ Shows How To Make An Award-Winning Photo Monitor


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Volume 72 No. 4, 2016

A recommended publication of the

Editor/Technical Editor Paul Burrows, Hon.FAIPP pburrows@nextmedia.com.au Art Director Kristian Hagen Production Editor Edgar Kramer Regular Contributors Andy Cross, Robyn Hills, Rosemary Ann Ogilvie, Bruce Usher, Alison Stieven-Taylor Advertising Sales Lewis Preece Advertising Traffic Diane Preece dpreece@nextmedia.com.au

Contents Volume 72 No.4, 2016

Division General Manager Jim Preece jpreece@nextmedia.com.au Production Manager Peter Ryman Circulation Director Carole Jones Group Editor Jez Ford PROPHOTO SUBSCRIPTIONS 1300 361 146 or +61 2 9901 6111 Locked Bag 3355, St Leonards NSW 1590 Subscribe online: www.avhub.com.au FOR iPAD, ANDROID, PC/Mac www.zinio.com/prophoto OR Apple Newsstand

6 News & New Products Making (big) headlines in this issue is Hasselblad’s launch of the world’s first digital medium format mirrorless camera, the X1D, complete with a new lens system. Fujifilm

Above and this issue’s main front cover photograph are by photojournalist Adam Ferguson, who has recently returned to conflict zone photography after recovering from the trauma of surviving a helicopter crash in Kurdistan. Alison Stieven-Taylor’s interview begins on page 16.

unveils the much-anticipated X-T2 – which incorporates many of the flagship X-Pro2’s features – and Olympus joins the video actioncam club.

16 Profile – Adam Ferguson Surviving a helicopter crash while on assignment might put you off frontline photojournalism for good, but Adam Ferguson has kept going and also expanded into new areas of photography.

Level 6, Building A, 207 Pacific Highway, St Leonards, NSW 2065 Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590 Telephone (02) 9901 6100 Fax (02) 9901 6198 www.nextmedia.com.au Chief Executive Officer David Gardiner Commercial Director Bruce Duncan ProPhoto is published 6 times a year by nextmedia Pty Ltd, ACN 128 805 970. ©2016 All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the prior permission of the publisher. ProPhoto is entirely produced in Australia, and is designed on an HP workstation xw6200 using Adobe InDesign. Printed by Bluestar WEB Sydney, distributed by Gordon & Gotch. The publisher will not accept responsibility or any liability for the correctness of information or opinions expressed in the publication, the content of any published images, or for the loss or damage to any item submitted for publication or review. Correspondence and manuscripts are welcome and books, apparatus and materials may be submitted for review. All material submitted is at the owner’s risk and, while every care will be taken nextmedia does not accept liability for loss or damage. Privacy Policy. We value the integrity of your personal information. If you provide personal information through your participation in any competitions, surveys or offers featured in this issue of ProPhoto, this will be used to provide the products or services that you have requested and to improve the content of our magazines. Your details may be provided to third parties who assist us in this purpose. In the event of organisations providing prizes or offers to our readers, we may pass your details on to them. From time to time, we may use the information you provide us to inform you of other products, services and events our company has to offer. We may also give your information to other organisations which may use it to inform you about their products, services and events, unless you tell us not to so. You are welcome to access the information that we hold about you by getting in touch with our privacy officer, who can be contacted at nextmedia, Locked Bag 5555, St Leonards, NSW 1590.

© 2016. ISSN 1328-715X Online at www.avhub.com.au

26 On Trial – Fujifilm X-Pr The X-Pro1 was a truly great camera – and responsible for taking the mirrorless interchangeable lens concept into the professional arena – so what do you get when Fujifilm upgrades just about every feature and specification in the X-Pro2? Something pretty special, that’s what.

34 On Trial – Nikon D5 Nikon’s new flagship redefines D-SLR autofocusing performance and it’s fast… especially with the mirror locked up. If you need a tough-as-nails, no-compromise pro-grade D-SLR, the D5 is your camera.

46 On Trial – BenQ SW2700PT 27-Inch Photo Monitor As more photographers realise the importance of having a calibrated photo monitor, this market is starting to grow and companies such as BenQ are bringing their expertise in displays to bear. It’s working, because the new SW2700PT is the winner of this year’s TIPA Best Photo Monitor award.

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FIRST FRAME VOLUME 72 NO. 4

Welcome Back Hasselblad… We’ve Missed You

Reasons to celebrate the world’s first digital medium format camera system. here are a number of reasons to celebrate Hasselblad’s announcement of the world’s first digital medium format camera system (the full details are in this issue’s news section). Firstly, it marks a return to original thinking by the famous Swedish marque. The last few years have been pretty uninspiring and it looked for a while there as if Hasselblad was incapable of responding to its much more active rival in digital medium format, Phase One. While the Sony-based clones weren’t as damaging to the reputation as some asserted, they were a big distraction and, it has to be said, a big waste of resources. I well remember going to the launch of the Lunar – a Sony NEX-7 dressed up in fancy clothes – at Photokina 2012 and not only being stunned at just how misguided the whole project was, but also noting how most of the Hasselblad personnel manning the displays didn’t quite believe what was happening either. To Hasselblad’s credit, it’s actually emerged from this debacle with a pretty remarkable home-grown product and, critically, its all-important relationship with Sony still intact. To make sure nobody is missing the point, the new X1D’s body is engraved “Handmade In Sweden”, and not on the base either, but on the top plate where it can be easily seen. Back in 1948 Victor Hasselblad turned the rollfilm camera world upside down with his modular 6x6cm SLR which was designed to combine compactness, flexibility and performance. It took a while to refine,

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but when the much-improved 500C arrived in 1957, medium format photography was changed forever. The basic concept was subsequently copied by just about everyone, and the 500 Series cameras rival Leica’s RF line for just how many significant moments in global history they have recorded. Hasselblad did it again with the 35mm XPan – another dramatic rejigging of the portability-versus-performance equation – a camera still much in use around the world because there has never been a digital equivalent… until now. The front profile of the X1D pays homage to that of the 500 Series cameras (a stylised version was actually the company’s logo for a while), but Hasselblad has been careful not to go too far down the retro route. So the new camera looks thoroughly modern and has, among other features; touchscreen controls, built-in WiFi and, of course, an electronic viewfinder. It’s ambitious, it’s innovative, it’s brave, but it’s also pure Hasselblad… as much as a new Hasselblad camera should be in 2016. There are wider implications too. The X1D is mirrorless. Need I say more? OK, I will. Hasselblad joins Leica, Olympus, Fujifilm, Sony and Panasonic in believing this is the future for both enthusiast-level and professional interchangeable-lens cameras. As with Leica and the SL, Hasselblad’s investment in this configuration is considerable, but it will pay off longterm and it is yet another important endorsement of mirrorless. Handle the X1D and the point is made even more powerfully… here is a camera that’s smaller and lighter than most full-35mm SLRs, but has a 50 megapixels ‘medium format’ sensor with, surely, a 100 MP model to come down the track. It just makes sense.

And because it makes so much sense, digital medium format photography just got a big shot in the arm too. It’s estimated, roughly, that the global market for annual sales of DMF cameras/systems is 8000 units. It’s hard not to see the X1D easily doubling this over the next 12 months which, of course, is good news for Hasselblad, but also for key component suppliers such as Sony. An increased demand for its big sensors will keep Sony developing them (important because I’m not convinced that the electronics giant actually wants to be in this sector with its own camera, as has been suggested elsewhere), while the DMF business as a whole will benefit from a significantly larger user base and an increased awareness of why big is still ultimately better when it comes to pixel size. For a while back there it looked as if Hasselblad might not have survived and that would have been a tragedy. It took Leica a while to find its way in the digital era – balancing the importance of its past with the imperatives of its future – but it’s there now and will only get stronger. The X1D is Hasselblad’s first step along this road, but it’s the right camera at the right time… and beyond the product itself, there’s the clear evidence that the people now in charge actually understand the challenges ahead and how to maintain the marque’s identity and integrity, but also find a way to profitability. I can’t help thinking that Victor Hasselblad, wherever he may be now, is applauding loudly.

Paul Burrows, Editor


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Hasselblad Launches First Mirrorless Digital Medium Format System XPan And SWC Reincarnated In The New X1D Camera In what could arguably be as significant a new camera announcement as the original 1600F back in 1948, Hasselblad has announced the world’s first medium format mirrorless digital camera. The Hasselblad X1D – the designation stands for X Series Model 1 Digital (so there’s obviously more to come) – is an all-Hasselblad design and built in Sweden to fully wash away the aftertaste of the Sonybased models of the last few years. Designed to appeal to both prosumer and professional users, the X1D features a very stylish and slimline aluminium and fully weather-proofed bodyshell with a built-in XGA (i.e. 2.359 megadots resolution) EVF (sourced from Epson) and a 7.62 cm fixed TFT LCD monitor screen with touch controls. Hasselblad says the X1D can operate in subzero temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius. The body alone weighs just 725 grams with its 3200 mAh lithium-ion battery pack installed and, on its shortest side, it’s a mere 71 mm in depth. The X1D body is being built in Sweden at Hasselblad’s Gothenburg facility and carries the legend “Handmade In Sweden”. On the inside is the Sony-made 53 megapixels (total)

CMOS sensor – with a 32.9x438 mm imaging area – which Hasselblad already uses in a number of its capture products including the new H6D-50c. In the X1D its sensitivity range is extended to an equivalent of ISO 100 to 25,600, and allows for a shutter speed range of 60-1/2000 second. There’s a full set of standard ‘PASM’ exposure modes – set via a pop-up dial – with multi-zone, centre-weighted average or spot metering patterns. The flash hotshoe is compatible with Nikon Speedlights for TTL auto flash control and, as the new system’s lenses are leaf-shutter types, flash sync is at all speeds. The dynamic range is quoted at 14 stops and files are output as 16-bit RAWs (3FR format), 8-bit TIFFs or JPEGs. Continuous shooting is possible at up to 2.3 fps and the X1D has dual SD format memory card slots. An ‘XPan’ mode captures 2.6:1 aspect ratio panoramas. The camera records Full HD (1080/25p) video with H.264 compression and has built-in stereo microphones. It’s also equipped with both a stereo audio input for connecting an external microphone and a stereo output for headphones. The X1D has built-in WiFi and a GPS receiver. Importantly too, the X1D has autofocusing – with multi-point contrast-detection measurements – and is accompanied by two new compact XCD mount prime lenses with a third to come at this year’s Photokina. Just like the original XPan, the X1D can be fitted with either a 45mm f3.5 standard wide lens (equivalent to 35mm; the focal length multiplier is 0.79x) or a 90mm f3.2 short telephoto (equivalent to 70mm). Launching at Photokina will be a 30mm wide-angle (equivalent to 24mm). As with the updated lenses that arrived with the H6D platform, the XCD leaf shutters are rated

to at least one million actuations. Needless to note, the XCD lenses – which are made in Japan – are also weather-sealed. A mount adaptor allows for the fitting of the existing H System lenses with full functionality including autofocusing. AF operations include singleshot, face-detection, continuous and subject tracking. The touchscreen controls allow for touch focusing. Other features include a programmable self-timer, intervalometer, USB 3.0 and mini (Type C) HDMI connections, a ‘clean’ HD video output and up to +/-5.0 EV of exposure compensation. Hasselblad says the X1D is “true to our heritage” and embodies the marque’s “core principles”. Given Victor Hasselblad devised his legendary 6x6cm SLR to deliver high imaging performance with a comparatively compact and portable high-end camera system, the X1D seems to be very much in the spirit of his original vision. Hasselblad sees the X1D competing with both high-end D-SLRs such as the Canon EOS1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 – it’s significantly more compact than either – and high-end mirrorless cameras such as the Leica SL and

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2. It will no doubt also compete with the existing medium format D-SLR systems, offering a much more portable and, in most cases, more affordable alternative. While the X1D is undoubtedly very good for Hasselblad, it’s also good for the digital medium format sector and it’s not hard to see this one camera possibly doubling global sales of DMF systems over the coming year. Locally the X1D body is priced at $17,498 when packaged with the XCD 45mm f3.5 lens, and $21,697 for a twin-lens kit which adds the XCD 90mm f4.5 lens. Hasselblad products are distributed in Australia by C.R. Kennedy & Company. For more information please visit www.hasselblad.com.au Availability is expected to be from August.


T2 Time At Fujifilm Perhaps not so much of a surprise, but still a very welcome arrival, Fujifilm’s new X-T2 upgrades its SLR-style X-mount mirrorless camera to a similar spec level to the flagship X-Pro2. Retaining very similar styling to its predecessor, the X-T2 has the same higherresolution 24.3 megapixels ‘X-Trans CMOS III’ sensor as the X-Pro2 – mated with the ‘X-Processor Pro’ high-speed engine – but it’s the first X Series model to have 4K video recording at 3840x2160 pixels (i.e. Ultra HD). At 25 fps, this gives a bit rate of 100 Mbps, and the X-T2 also has a ‘clean’ video output (for both 2K and 4K) via its HDMI terminal for recording to an external device. The stereo audio input for connecting an external microphone has been upgraded to the standard 3.5 mm connector. As before, the bodyshell is a magnesium alloy casing with weather sealing and insulation, again with the provision for fitting an optional battery grip (called the ‘Vertical Power Booster Grip’) which now accommodates two battery packs and provides a number of performance enhancements,

including continuous shooting at 11 fps and an extended 4K recording. It also allows for in-camera battery charging and has a stereo audio output for connecting headphones (also a standard 3.5 mm fitting). There have been a few revisions to the control layout including redesigns to the main dials and the addition of the joystick control from the X-Pro2 for quicker switching of the focusing point. The OLED-type EVF is much the same as before (0.77x magnification and 2.36 megadots resolution), but the X-T2’s LCD monitor screen now has both horizontal and vertical tilt adjustments, the latter allowing for low-angle shooting when using the portrait orientation. The EVF now offers a refresh rate of 100 fps in the camera’s ‘Boost’ mode, and can operate at a shooting speed of 5.0 fps without any black-out. The X-T2 has a new autofocusing which still employs a hybrid contrast/phase detection system, but now has a total of 325 measuring points with 169 of them using phasedifference detection. The number of ‘Zone Focusing’ points increases from 49 to 91 with

f these using phase-difference detection. ilm says the autofocusing speed is just seconds while the shutter release lag is reduced to 0.045 seconds. Similar anon’s and Nikon’s higher-end D-SLRs, subject tracking function with continuAF operation can be fine-tuned for the of subject movement and, among other meters, the response to an interruption ed by a blocked shot. Various pre-set sing scenarios can be selected and also tuned. Low light sensitivity extends down .0 EV. The X-T2’s focal plane shutter now has a speed of 1/8000 second with flash sync up to 1/250 second, but a sensor-based ter is also provided which has a top d of 1/32,000 second. This also allows for tinuous shooting at 14 fps, but otherwise standard camera (i.e. without the optional er grip) is capable of 8.0 fps. The buffer ory has been increased to enable a burst of 83 best-quality JPEGs or 33 RAW files (with lossless compression, 27 uncompressed). Dual SD memory card slots are provided, both with UHS-II support. Other notable new features include the addition of the ACROS and Classic Chrome ‘Film Simulation’ presets, an ‘F-Log’ flat colour profile for video recording, an intervalometer (for time-lapse sequences) and wireless TTL flash control when fitted with the new EF-X500 accessory flash unit. Fujifilm has also revealed plans to launch three more new X-mount lenses over the coming year or so, starting with a 23mm f2.0 weather-proofed wide-angle (equivalent to 34.5mm). Coming later are a 50mm f2.0 and 80mm f2.8 macro (both also weatherised). The latter replaces the previously planned 120mm f2.8 macro which was deemed to be too big and heavy. There are currently 20 Fujifilm X-mount lenses available (plus two teleconverters) and three models from Zeiss. The X-T2 will be available locally from September and is priced at $2499 (body only). For more information visit www.fujifilm.com.au

BRIEF EXPOSURES German accessory-maker Novoflex has introduced a mount adaptor that enables Canon EF lenses to be used on the Leica SL mirrorless camera. The SL-EOS adaptor is electronic so it supports autofocusing, auto aperture control and the relaying of lens-based EXIF data (but not optical image stabilisation). Novoflex says the SL-EOS enables around 30 Canon lenses to be used on the SL. Locally, the adaptor will be available from the end of July priced at $859. Novoflex products are distributed in Australia by Mainline Photographics, on telephone (02) 9437 5800 or visit www.mainlinephoto.com.au

Fotospeed products have returned to the Australian market with the company launching a selection of inkjet printing papers. The line-up includes the Signature range which comprises Smooth Cotton 300, Natural Soft Textured Bright White 315, Platinum Baryta 300 and Platinum Etching 285. Also available are the Fine Art and Photo range, plus specialist media such as the Fotospeed Panoramic paper which has a unique 3:1 aspect ratio. With a height of 210 mm, this paper can be used in almost any A4, A3 or A2 format printer. For more information visit www.fotospeed.com.au


NEWS

09

INDUSTRY, PEOPLE & EVENTS

MAKE A DATE EXHIBITIONS – EVENTS – WORKSHOPS – SEMINARS Current to 31 August: Exhibition. Henry Talbot: 1960s Fashion Photographer. Eighty previously unseen photographs by fashion photographer Henry Talbot during his time working with Helmut Newton in Melbourne and drawn from the collection of the National Gallery Of Victoria (NGV). At NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne, Victoria 3000. Gallery hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm daily. For more information telephone (03) 8620 2222 or visit www.ngv.vic.gov.au — Current 4 September: Exhibition. Tracey Moffatt – Laudanum And Other Works. Photography series and video montages draw from the gallery’s collection, including Laudanum 1998 and Plantation 2009. At the Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, NSW 2000. Telephone (02) 9225 1744 for more information

or visit www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au Admission is free. Gallery hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm daily (open to 9.00pm on Wednesdays). — Current to 18 September: Exhibition. Cindy Sherman. Showing for the first time in Australia and presenting a series of large scale photographs made since 2000 which feature Sherman dressed in a theatrical array of costumes. At the Queensland Gallery Of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Stanley Place, South Bank, Brisbane, Queensland 4101. Gallery hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm daily. Ticketed admission. For more information telephone (07) 3840 7307 or please visit the website at www.qagoma.qld.gov.au — 10 September 2016 to February 2017: Exhibition. New Matter – Recent Forms Of

Photography. Recent works by Australian and international photographers who interrogate the limits of photographic representation. Artists include Jacqueline Ball, Walead Beshty, Matthew Brandt, Zoë Croggon, Christopher Day, Cherine Fahd, Todd McMillan, Justine Varga and Luke Parker. At the Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, NSW 2000. Telephone (02) 9225 1744 for more information or visit the website at www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au Admission is free. Gallery hours are 10.00am to 5.00pm daily (open to 9.00pm on Wednesdays). — 20–25 September 2016: 2016 Photokina World Of Imaging. The world’s largest exhibition of new imaging products and processes. At the Köln Messe, Cologne, Germany. Visit the website at www.photokina-cologne.com for more information.

teds.com.au/pro

Photo taken on an X-T2 by Steve Christo

Fujifilm X-T2 Body Making the choice between high-quality Fujifilm cameras even harder is the arrival of this his highly anticipated follow-up, the Fujifilm X-T2. Utilising the same much lauded 24MP X-Trans C CMOS III APS-C sensor that can be found in the company’s other recent big ticket sequel, the X- ro o 2, there is little doubt this camera will deliver in terms of image quality. Retained from the hugely successful X-T1 is the compact, weather-sealed DSLR-like body, although with some adjustments j t t made. AF performance has been advanced even further than the X-Pro 3.0” MP 2’s, while 4K video has been included as XTRANS POINT TILT FRAMES 4K CMOS AF SCREEN PER SEC VIDEO well as a mic input.

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Olympus Gets In On The Action

P

With the video actioncam market continuing to boom, Olympus is the latest ‘photo company’ to head for the great outdoors. The new Stylus TG-Tracker is styled like a mini camcorder and records 4K video, Full HD video and 8.0 MP JPEGs. Video clips are recorded in the MOV format using MPEG-4 AVC/H .264 compression. Data is recorded to a microSDHC/XC memory card, and the camera combines a 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor with Olympus’s ‘TruePic VII’ image processor. The camera’s bodyshell is fully waterproofed down to 30 metres (so there’s no need for an additional housing), is shockproofed to withstand a drop of just over two metres, freeze-proofed down to -10 degrees Celsius and crush-proofed to withstand a 100-kilogram equivalent force. A very neat touch is the incorporation of an LED illuminator with 60 lumens brightness and which can also serve as a torch. Additionally, the camera’s ‘Field Sensor System’ records GPS, altitude (or depth), temperature, direction and accelerometer data to provide movie-plust l ( h n in th l Tr

There’s nothing like a dip into the archives to reveal

app on iOS or Android devices). Built-in WiFi allows for the wireless sharing of 2K movie clips and still images. Available in either black or bright green, The Stylus TG-Tracker has a 13.9mm f2.0 lens (35mm equivalent) which gives an angle-of-view of 204 degrees (diagonally). Auto exposure control operates over a range equivalent to ISO 100 to 1600, and the fastest shutter speed available is 1/24,000 second. Exposure control is automatic, but a compensation adjustment of up to +/-2.0 EV is available for fine-tuning. An underwater detector sensor activates at depths of beyond half a metre and sets the auto white balance accordingly. Five axis electronic image stabilisation is provided and footage can be m nitored via a fold-out 3.8 cm CD colour screen. he TG-Tracker is powered lithium-ion battery which pus says is good for 95 minof continuous video shoothe battery can be recharged mera via the USB. The ra is supplied with a mount tor, ‘steady grip’ handle and ens port. he Olympus TG-Tracker is riced at $499. More inforation is available from ww.olympus.com.au

just how much things have changed in the imaging industry, especially over the last couple of decades. In the early 1980s, pros were considering shooting with 35mm film and struggling with the idea of increasing camera automation… well, exposure control at least. Here’s a selection of what was on the pages of this magazine 35 years ago when it was called Professional Photography in Australia. This is a snapshot of the July/August 1981 issue. COVER PHOTOGRAPH / Beven Williams, Western Australia TEST REPORTS / Quantum Calcu-Light XP and CalcuFlash II hand-held meters PEOPLE AND PLACES / 1981 Merit Awards (now Australian Professional Photography Awards) / Travel and sports photographer Gary Lewis (Melbourne) profile / Photographics ’81 report (including launch of Rolleiflex SLX 6x6cm SLR) THE ISSUES / Putting a monetary value on professional photography services THE ADVERTISERS / Mark’s Camera Store – Industrial Division brands / Ilford – Ilfospeed 2001 paper processor and 5250 dryer / Ilford – Ilford XP1 400 chromogenic B&W film / Hanimex – Durst Magica 300 daylight enlarger/printer / Hanimex – Fujifilm professional films and papers / Agfa-Gevaert – Agfapan Vario-XL chromogenic B&W film / Maxwell Photo-Optics – Nikon F3 professional 35mm SLR / PICS – Elinchrom studio flash systems / PICS – Toyo-View large format view cameras / PICS – Bowens Quad studio flash system / Eveready – Energizer batteries / Townsend Colortech – professional processing services / Kodak – Kodak Tri-X B&W film / Ted’s Industrial Sales – Contax 35mm SLRs and Horseman view cameras / Mini-Log – Colour processors for film, papers and Cibachrome II / Photape – Rowi, Hansa and Hauck darkroom products / C.R. Kennedy & Company – Hasselblad 6x6cm SLR system / Kayell Photographics – Cambo large format view cameras / R. Gunz (Photographic) – Hoya filters.


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BenQ Celebrates TIPA Award For Photo Monitor

Pentax Launches FeaturePacked ‘APS-C’ D-SLR Ricoh Imaging is certainly doing its bit for the D-SLR, and following the full-35mm Pentax K-1 comes a new mid-level ‘APS-C’ model called the Pentax K-70. It incorporates many of the features from the high-end Pentax D-SLRs, including the Pixel Shift Resolution system (for creating higher resolution images), the ‘AA Filter Simulator’ to eliminate moiré patterns and the variable-tilt LCD monitor which was introduced on the K-1. The K-70 has a new CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of 24.2 megapixels and a sensitivity range equivalent to ISO 100 to 102,400. The sensor is mated with a nextgen ‘PRIME MII’ image processor which enables continuous shooting at up to 6.0 fps and a 4K ‘Internal Movie’ mode. Image stabilisation is via sensor-shifting which is claimed to give up to 4.5 stops of correction for camera shake. The K-70 gets a new hybrid autofocusing system which employs a combination of phase-difference detection and contrast-detection measurements. The ‘SAFOX X’ AF module employs 11 focusing points – nine of them cross-type arrays – and has low light sensitivity down to EV -3.0 (at ISO 100). Exposure metering is via a 77-segement sensor and the K-70 has a top shutter speed of 1/6000 second.

BRIEF EXPOSURES Coinciding with the launch of its new X-T2 (see page 8), Fujifilm has announced a significant upgrade for its X-Pro2 flagship mirrorless camera. Available from October, firmware Version 2.0 for the X-Pro2 will update its AF algorithm to that of the X-T2

The sensor shifting mechanism also enables Pentax’s ‘Astro Tracer’ facility which operates in combination with the optional O-GPS1 GPS receiver to track stars and ensure they’re rendered as sharp points. A new ‘Timer’ mode allows for timed exposures of up to 20 minutes. There’s a full glass prism viewfinder which gives 100 percent coverage and the vari-angle LCD monitor screen has a resolution of 921,600 dots. Other notable features include built-in stereo microphones, a built-in WiFi module, a built-in flash, dual-delay self-timer (which also works with continuous AF operations) and two multi-function buttons. The K-70 has a compact bodyshell which is fully weather-sealed to make it water-proof and dust-proof plus it’s insulated to allow shooting in sub-zero temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius. Accompanying the K-70 is the new HD Pentax-DA 55-300mm f/.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE which is a compact and weather-sealed telezoom lens (equivalent to 82-450mm). Local availability and pricing has yet to be announced, for more information visit www.pentax.com.au (excluding the latter’s scenario options), allow for wireless TTL compatibility with the new EF-X500 accessory flash, add more auto power-off timing options (15 / 30 seconds and one minute), and improve the parallax correction function for easier use when the viewfinder is in optical mode. For more information visit www.fujifilm.com.au

Following the selection of its SW2700PT 27-inch LCD display as the 2016 Best Photo Monitor by the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), BenQ has been celebrating winning a category that has been hotly contested in the past by rivals including LG and Samsung. “We are honoured to be named Best Photo Monitor, as the one and only display awarded by TIPA,” commented Conway Lee, President of BenQ Corporation. “It validates our continuing effort to lead the professional markets with purpose-engineered visual devices tailored for specific vertical applications.” The BenQ SW2700PT has a 2560x1440 pixels (WQHD, 3.7 megapixels) high-resolution and 350 lux high-luminance display, incorporating IPS wide-angle viewing technology. Its 14-bit 3D look-up table (LUT) with Delta E≤2 (CIE) provides a 99-percent replication of the Adobe RGB colour space, comprising over one billion discrete colours. The SW2700PT offers on-line hardware-calibration with two preset modes so calibration can be saved directly into the monitor. It’s supplied with a detachable shading hood to prevent glare and ambient light interference, and offers a wide choice

of connections, including Displayport, DVI, HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0 and audio output. There’s also a memory card reader and OSD controller for quick switching between customised display settings. Other features include a B&W Photo mode, adjustments for tilt and height, and a ‘Palette Master Element’ to support external colour calibrators such as the Datacolor Spyder 4 and Spyder 5. The BenQ SW2700PT is priced at $1299 and for more information visit www.BenQ.com.au


CANON EOS-1D X MARK II

CANON EOS 5DS R

“Equipped with a newly-developed 20.2 megapixels (effective) full-35mm CMOS sensor, Canon’s new D-SLR flagship offers continuous shooting at up to 14 fps, or up to 16 fps in live view mode.”

“Rivalling the resolution of many digital medium format cameras, the CMOS sensors in the Canon EOS 5Ds R and EOS 5Ds deliver an impressive 50.6 megapixels (effective) with continuous shooting at 5.0 fps.”

` Rugged, weather-proofed all-metal bodyshell ` Expanded ISO 50 to 409,600 sensitivity range ` Cinema 4K resolution video shooting ` 61-points AF and 360,000 pixels RGB+IR metering

` Maximum image resolution of 8688x5792 pixels ` Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body ` Dual memory card slots 0for SD and CF formats ` 61-points AF with 41 cross-type sensor arrays

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Best Photo/Video Professional Camera

Canon EOS 5DS R Best D-SLR Professional/High Res

CANON’S VERSATILE A2 PHOTO PRINTER WINS 2016 TIPA AWARD Desktop 17-inch format model is crowned Best Photo Printer by global imaging magazine group.

F

ive Canon imaging products won their respective categories in the prestigious 2016 TIPA Awards which are judged annually by the Technical Image Press Association, a global group comprising 30 of the world’s leading photography magazines. Canon’s winning products this year include the

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EOS-1D X Mark II and EOS 5Ds R high-end D-SLRs plus Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 A2 format photo printer. Held each year since 1991, the TIPA Awards recognise the best photo and imaging products announced during the previous 12 months, based on such criteria as innovativeness, use of leading-edge technologies, design

and ease-of-use. Canon won its first TIPA Award in 1993 (for the EOS 100 35mm SLR camera) and has subsequently won awards every year since for a grand total of 78 products and technologies. The imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 represents a new breed of photo printer, combining many of the performance aspects of Canon’s wide-format professional floor-standing printers with the convenience of a more compact desktop design. Consequently, the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 ticks a lot of boxes for both professional and enthusiast-level shooters. It employs a newly-developed pigmented inkset called Lucia PRO which comprises 12 colours to give an extended colour gamut and smoother gradations. In fact, the PRO-1000’s increased colour gamut represents 110 percent of the existing PRO-1 model’s on lustre or gloss paper and 119 percent on matte papers. The Lucia PRO inkset comprises Photo Black and Matte Black – using separate channels – plus Grey and Photo Grey to give enhanced B&W printing. It also includes a gloss optimiser to reduce the bronzing effect when printing on lustre or gloss papers. Silicon oil has been added to the Lucia PRO inks to improve their resistance to scratching


Canon ImagePROGRAF PRO-1000 Best Photo Printer

“THE PROFESSIONAL PRINT MAKER WILL FIND THE STRENGTH AND QUALITY OF OF THE PRO-1000 APPEALING, WHILE THE KEEN ENTHUSIAST WHO APPRECIATES TOP CLASS MACHINERY WILL BE EQUALLY ATTRACTED.”

Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 has been voted Best Photo Printer in the 2016 TIPA Awards.

A FOCUS ON CANON The PRO-1000 can handle papers up to 400 gsm in weight, including canvas. It has WiFi, Ethernet and USB connectivity, and is supplied with Canon’s Print Studio Pro Version 2.0 plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom or Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional editing software which includes the Accounting Manager function – as also provided on the larger format models – to record the costs of ink and media for determining print production prices. In selecting the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 as Best Photo Printer for 2016, the TIPA Awards judging panel noted, “Combining the convenience of desktop use with a 17-inch wide paper capability and many of the features from Canon’s higher-end pro-level models, the PRO1000 represents a new class of photo printer for enthusiasts. It uses a new 12-colour Lucia PRO pigmented inkset and Canon’s precision ‘FINE’ print head with a tubular ink delivery system that results in faster print speeds and stable print-to-print quality. There is a newly formulated Photo Black ink, while both it and the Matte Black have their own channels so no ink swap is needed when changing papers. A vacuum paper feeding system keeps sheets absolutely flat during printing, ensuring more accurate ink placement regardless of the paper weight and type.”

Trevern Dawes, CAMERA Magazine and abrasions. Ink cartridges of 80 millilitres capacity extend the time between replacements. The PRO-1000’s 1.28-inch print head (which is 1.5x larger than the PRO-1’s) employs 18,432 nozzles and Canon has developed a new image processing engine – called L-COA PRO – for more precise ink droplet placement and mixing of the inks while also reducing the processing time. An A2-size colour print (with 25 millimetre borders) on high gloss paper can be produced in six minutes. Equipped with the air feeding system found in Canon’s large-format imagePROGRAF inkjet printers, the PRO-1000 virtually eliminates paper skewing, regardless of paper weight and type, while also achieving more accurate ink placement. Additionally, non-firing nozzle detection and correction helps eliminate banding.

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PROFILE ADAM FERGUSON

Adam Ferguson Surviving a helicopter crash while on assignment might put you off frontline photojournalism for good, but Adam Ferguson has kept going and also expanded into new areas of photography. INTERVIEW BY ALISON STIEVEN-TAYLOR

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Photography by Adam Ferguson, copyright 2016.

On His Own Terms


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PROFILE ADAM FERGUSON

ustralian photojournalist Adam Ferguson was in Kurdistan on assignment for The New York Times in August 2014 when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed. While Ferguson wasn’t badly injured, he was shaken up, and the experience left him feeling apprehensive about heading into a conflict zone again in a hurry. In 2015 he moved back to Australia from Thailand where he’d

been based for a couple of years, and began working on a personal project that was far removed from the conflict work that he’s built his reputation on. “I’ve been doing a survey of regional Australia, going back to my roots… which is what a lot of photographers do after too much war,” explains Ferguson when I caught up with him in Sydney. “I feel like I’m living the war photographer’s cliché, you know you’ve spent so much time working abroad and you start to get a little bit exhausted by it and there’s something internal that kind of clicks and you want to go

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back and understand your own story a little bit more.” Originally a country boy from Dubbo, Ferguson says, “I feel like I have an affinity with regional Australia and I’ve been travelling around and taking portraits of young Australians. I’ve been really slowing down, working with film – medium format portraiture – and it’s a different beast”. But you can’t keep a photojournalist grounded for too long and, while he has enjoyed working on this personal project, when The New York Times suggested he take an assignment in Afghanistan in March he didn’t hesitate. It was the first trip to a war zone since the helicopter crash. Before he left he told me, “I am a bit nervous about going back… it does a funny thing to you. I think I cope with what I do fine, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me. Knowing that I am going back and am pushing out into a few areas that are a bit dicey, I was

feeling tense about it. But it’s all pretty calculated and I don’t take stupid risks”. When we touched base again in April he was in London working with a designer on his book on Afghanistan, a project he began on his first trip in 2008 and one that he has added to each time he’s returned. “I realised I wanted to go back to finish my book and give it a bit of a longer arc,” he said of the tome which is to be published later this year.

Therapeutic About his apprehension about returning to a conflict zone Adam Ferguson says,


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Photography by Adam Ferguson, copyright 2016.


PROFILE ADAM FERGUSON

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“Purely from a personal perspective, going back was kind of therapeutic. I feel like I got there and worked and overcame a few demons. It was really interesting to be there at this point in the war and I felt quite relaxed to be honest”. In Afghanistan Ferguson took the new Fujifilm X-Pro2 out for a spin. He is a recently-appointed ambassador for the brand and was uncertain how the camera would perform compared to the usual high-end D-SLR he lugs around. “I am in love with the Fuji camera,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m not just saying this because I am an ambassador, I am serious!” He reveals he ended up shooting most of his work in Afghanistan on the X-Pro2, including a portrait of the Afghan president which he shot for The New Yorker magazine. “Everything I shot after that was on the Fuji. That’s what I’m using now”. Ferguson had two slide shows of his work from Afghanistan on The New York Times Website in April, all of which was shot on the X-Pro2.

Photography by Adam Ferguson, copyright 2016.

Self-Funded When Adam Ferguson started out as a photojournalist he positioned himself in India, and made South Asia his beat. In the early days he self-funded two trips to Afghanistan “…because no one was going to send you into a conflict zone if you didn’t have experience”. As he began to amass a collection of images, he drew the attention of some of the world’s most eminent publications including The New York Times which, today, is one of his “best” clients. Later this year he’ll move to New York where he plans to base himself for the next few years. “I have a pool of editors who use me, I’m pretty lazy actually, I should be pitching more,” he laughs. “A lot of my colleagues pitch stuff all the time, I do occasionally. It’s not so much pitching, it is more engineering assignments around things I am interested in and, if I’m working in those spheres, people notice and tend to jump on the bandwagon and support work and give you assignments that contribute to your own larger body of work”. Adam Ferguson earns his living as a photojournalist and, increasingly, as an editorial portrait photographer. He’s shot several covers for TIME in the last couple of years including Joko Widodo the Indonesian President, Taiwanese politician Tsai Ing-wen and then president of Myanmar, Thein Sein.

Different Headspace Adam Ferguson says that shooting portraiture puts him in a “totally different

headspace” to his reportage work. When he was assigned to photograph Joko Widodo, TIME asked him how he might approach the portrait. “I said he’s a populist president who is coming after this very stifled era of Indonesian politics, so I want to portray him as emerging from darkness almost… and that’s exactly what I did. I got 12 minutes with him and, for a politician, that’s quite a lot”.

“If you witness people suffering greatly – regardless of which side of the conflict they are on – it affects you. It makes you really question why you are there taking pictures… what the value of those pictures is… your position in the world.”

With the leader of Myanmar Ferguson had six minutes. “The whole time his handlers were telling me to stop taking pictures and I had to grab him by the hand and beg him for another couple of minutes,” he relates. When you have such limited time, it’s necessary to be fully prepared. Ferguson explains that he spends a couple of hours before the talent arrives in order to work out the lighting and where best to position the sitter. He runs tests on his assistant so that when the politician arrives he’s ready to leap into action. As far as interaction with the sitter goes, he says there is little time for anything more than a few pleasantries and instructions on where to stand or sit and look. It’s not possible to pigeonhole Adam Ferguson as his work is extremely varied. In addition to conflict and portraiture, he also shoots reportage stories across a diverse subject base. His coverage of the Nepal Earthquake featured on the cover of TIME

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PROFILE

and in other publications. Recently he shot a portrait of Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri elder, at his home in Narrandera for The New York Times’s story called “A New Wiradjuri Dictionary”. Another story, this one for the magazine WIRED, documented the illegal sand-mining industry in India.

Big Questions Photojournalists tend to be lone wolves traversing the world to capture images, but Ferguson says there is definitely a fraternity. “We are all aware of each other’s work and it’s kind of important, especially when you’re diving into a difficult situation, you need allies. So every time I go into a breaking news situation, I work out who’s there pretty quickly. I always know a couple of people and we keep in touch, share information and sometimes transport. If someone drops off assignments, you normally take them in and they share your car and expenses too.” He continues, “Traditionally there were much larger budgets to keep a bigger pool of freelance photographers working and I think that pool is smaller now. I see this especially when I am working in places that are expensive to operate in such as conflict zones. Even in the years since I’ve been freelancing – since 2008 when I first started to cover conflict –I remember there were a

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lot of freelancers around. In Iraq last time I was there, there were very few”. Like many photojournalists, Adam Ferguson wrestles with the big questions around whether photography can affect social change and help people. “If you witness people suffering greatly – regardless of which side of the conflict they are on – it affects you. It makes you really question why you are there taking pictures… what the value of those pictures is… your position in the world.” But at the end of the day it is the belief in photography’s capacity to inform and educate that drives him. He says the proliferation of images today makes photography “…even more important because pictures are a primary mode of communication now. In the last two years, more pictures were made than in the last century. It’s a universal language, we all relate to it, see it and understand it to varying degrees. But you can still gain something from it. I think it makes photography the most important it’s ever been”. Alison Stieven-Taylor is a writer and photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Visit her blog www. photojournalismnow.blogspot.com

Photography by Adam Ferguson, copyright 2016.

ADAM FERGUSON


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ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2

Work And Play FUJIFILM X-PRO2 It may look very much like its ground-breaking predecessor, but Fujifilm’s new X Mount flagship is essentially changed in every way, both inside and out. A great camera is made even greater. REPORT BY PAUL BURROWS

rangefinder camera, was too much for some, despite some obvious attractions. Sony’s SLR-styled A7 series and Olympus’s top-end OM-D models have subsequently given mirrorless a big boost among higher-end users – as has Fujifilm’s own X-T1 – so the X-Pro2 arrives to a much more receptive (as well as better informed) audience. None of this detracts from the fact that its predecessor was a brilliantly conceived and executed design. It further developed Fujifilm’s innovative and ingenious hybrid optical/ electronic viewfinder (in particular to accommodate zoom lenses) and the pioneering ‘X-Trans’ sensor design which eliminated the need for an anti-aliasing (or optical low-pass) filter… well before this idea became trendy. If anything, despite its retro styling, the X-Pro1 was a camera ahead of its time. Sensibly then, Fujifilm has stuck with the same basic configuration, but while the X-Pro2 may still look a lot like its predecessor, there isn’t much here that hasn’t been redesigned, revised or upgraded. According to a senior Fujifilm executive, “It looks the same, but basically we’ve changed everything”.

Taking The Wheel

At first glance the X-Pro2 may not look very much different to its predecessor, but on closer examination it’s evident that a lot has been changed.

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WHILE MIRRORLESS CAMERAS ARE steadily eating into the lower end of the D-SLR market, the professional sector has proved to be a harder nut to crack. There are a couple of reasons for this. The sector is traditionally… well, traditional, and it’s been well and truly dominated by Canon and Nikon for decades. Both are hanging onto their D-SLR businesses like grim death, but the case for the reflex mirror is becoming harder to defend. Fujifilm was the first to mount a challenge, with the X-Pro1 which, perhaps because it was styled like a

On the outside the styling is distinctly Leica M-esque, so the X-Pro2 still looks classically purposeful and, of course, classically elegant. Fujifilm has resisted the temptation to make it any smaller, so it remains a fairly substantial machine by mirrorless camera standards, but obviously smaller than any comparably-featured D-SLR. Importantly, the tough magnesiumalloy bodyshell is now fully weatherproofed (61 seals in all, plus subzero insulation) which was at the top of the wishlist for many users of the X-Pro1 given its obvious appeal for location work. There’s a bigger and more ergonomically-shaped grip – effectively eliminating the need for an accessory add-on – but the real deals as far as the X-Pro2’s handling is concerned are a new front input wheel (a.k.a. the front ‘Command Dial’) and, on the rear panel, a jog-type controller for selecting autofocus points (and called, in a tell-it-like-it-is manner, ‘The Focus Stick’). The additional


ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 input wheel has both rotational and press-in actions (the latter to change functions), and significantly enhances exposure control efficiencies, especially when shooting in manual. Milled dials are retained for shutter speeds and exposure compensation, but the latter is significantly larger than before with an expanded setting range of +/-3.0 EV, plus a ‘C’ position which gives access to +/-5.0 EV, the extra settings then selected via the front input wheel (press it in to change the function). The shutter speed dial is also a bit beefier than before, mainly in depth, and its top disc incorporates a window through which can be read the ISO setting. Yes, in a glorious piece of retro-design, Fujifilm has returned to the lift-and-turn method of setting the film speed… sorry, the ISO sensitivity. Don’t laugh, it really works… it eliminates the need for an additional dial, but is still equally efficient and you get the ISO read-out exactly where you need it. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways, and even if this was a bit before your time, it’ll still feel quite intuitive. On the camera’s side is a new compartment cover which opens to reveal dual memory card slots – another much-requested feature – for SD devices and with support for UHS-I speed SDHC types and UHS-II speed SDXC. These slots can be configured for a sequential changeover, simultaneous recording of two files (i.e. to create a

Rear control panel is largely unchanged from that of the X-Pro1 and centres on a four-way navigator key pad. Thumbrest has been reprofiled.

Connection bay includes a stereo audio input which also doubles as the wired remote trigger’s connection.

back-up) and a RAW+JPEG split. Having the dual slots is, of course, excellent, but so is the fact that the memory card slot is no longer in the camera’s base with the battery. The rear panel’s layout is basically unchanged except for the shifting of some buttons to accommodate a wider, 3:2 aspect ratio, LCD monitor screen which also has a higher resolution of 1.62 megadots (versus 1.23 million on the previous model) and a 60 fps refresh rate. It’s still fixed though, and doesn’t have touch controls.

Info-tainment The optical viewfinder’s window is a major reason why the Fujifilm’s X-Pro models look so much like Leica RF

fully optical or fully electronic viewing, but the clever bit is that you can have the optical viewfinder with the key digital display elements. Additionally, there’s an ‘Electronic Range Finder’ (ERF) display which appears as a small panel inset at the lower right corner of the frame. This is a TTL feed direct from the sensor and provides a magnified view from the active focus point – without any parallax error – which is very handy indeed. With manual focusing, the ERF panel will also show the focus peaking display which, on the X-Pro2, can be set to red, white or blue at either low or high intensity levels. The optical finder has a brightline frame which automatically adjusts with a zoom lens and a built-in magnifier so it can be switched to handle focal lengths longer than 35mm… otherwise the picture frame would become very small indeed. Fixed brightline frames are provide for the 18mm, 23mm, 27mm and 32mm focal lengths and, once the magnifier is switched in, 35mm, 56mm, 60mm and 90mm. All this is done via a lever on the front panel which is flicked left or right to change the viewfinder type, and incorporates a button to engage or disengage the magnifier. Obviously there are lenses

In a glorious piece of retro-design, Fujifilm has returned to the lift-and-turn method of setting the film speed… sorry, the ISO sensitivity. cameras – at least from the front – and the X-Pro2 has all the hybridbased developments that have been introduced with the successive editions of the fixed-lens X100. In case you aren’t familiar with the basic concept of Fujifilm’s hybrid viewfinder, it can be switched between

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ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2

IN DETAIL Here’s a blast from the past. ISO settings are selected by lifting the outer rim of the shutter speed dial and turning. Welcome back to 1972… it works well though.

Exposure compensation dial has an extended marked plus/minus range, but you can go to +/-5.0 EV via the ‘C’ setting and using the new front input wheel.

Another very welcome update… the new front input wheel (a.k.a. the front ‘Command Dial’) makes operations such as manual exposure control very much easier.

The hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder has all the upgrades introduced with successive versions of the X100, including the nifty ‘Electronic Range Finder’ inset tab.

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longer than 90mm in the ever-growing Fujifilm X Mount system – including a new 100-400mm telezoom – in which case you simply switch to using the EVF. This is now a TFT LCD panel with a resolution of 2.36 megadots which can be configured – along with the LCD monitor screen – to show a selection of camera settings (you choose), an AF/MF distance scale with a depthof-field indicator, electronic level, realtime histogram, guide frames and an exposure compensation scale. And, thanks to the hybrid design, you can have all these elements in the optical view as well, the only difference being that the auto-rotate for EVF/monitor displays isn’t available. So, you might well ask, why bother with having an optical finder at all now that the EVFs are so good? Glad you brought this up, especially as we’re now pretty convinced EVFs are the future, but… even the best can’t ultimately match an optical finder, and the main advantage with the X-Pro2’s is that you can see what’s going on outside the image frame, which has always been the key capability of a classic rangefinder camera and allows you to better anticipate exactly when a shot is going to come together. Fujifilm’s hybrid design provides the best of both worlds, mixing some aspects or simply relying on one display type when it’s the most

Insiders The inside story starts with an allnew sensor which Fujifilm is calling the “X-Trans CMOS III” and which embodies a host of new design features. It’s ‘APS-C’ size, of course, but with a higher effective pixel count of 24.3 million – the highest so far in a Fujifilm X Mount camera – giving a pixel pitch of 3.91 microns. A new ‘Floating Diffraction Amplifier’ is designed to reduce noise, and redesigned microlenses enhance sensitivity. The read-out speed at 4000x6000 pixels is 28 fps – twice as fast as the X-Pro1 – which is partially achieved by replacing the traditional aluminium wiring with copper to reduce resistance (similar to Sony’s A7R II). Copper also allows for thinner wiring which helps reduce noise. The native sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 12,800 with a two-stop ‘push’ to ISO 51,200. The ‘X-Trans’ name refers to Fujifilm’s unique 6x6 RGB colour filter clusters – as opposed to the standard 2x2 RGBG Bayer pattern – that’s designed to minimise moiré effects. The sensor’s number-crunching is handled by a new dual-core ‘X Processor Pro’ engine which delivers a bunch of speedy numbers including an 85 fps refresh rate for the EVF (when in High Performance mode), a shutter lag time of 0.05 seconds, a start-up time of 0.4 seconds and a fastest AF time of 0.06 seconds (more about autofocusing shortly). The maximum continuous shooting speed is 8.0 fps, with a bigger buffer memory allowing a burst of 83 best-quality JPEGs or 33 RAW files. At this speed, the autofocusing and metering are locked to the first frame, and if you want continuous adjustment you have to slow down to 3.0 fps (but obviously the burst length increases). RAW files can now be captured either as uncompressed files or with lossless compression if you have a need for speed as the file size essentially halves.

What hasn’t changed from before is the enjoyment factor… except perhaps that it can now be ramped up to enthralling. The X-Pro2 experience is a thoroughly involving one...” appropriate for the subject or situation. Given the marked improvements in EVFs over the last few years, it’s now more likely than ever to remain unique, but there are still compelling reasons for having both options on tap, and it puts the X-Pro2 in the mix whether you’re contemplating a new D-SLR or a new high-end mirrorless camera.


ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 The new ‘X-Trans’ CMOS sensor incorporates dedicated pixel arrays for phase-difference detection autofocusing, which is employed in conjunction with contrast detection measurements depending on the subject or situation. There’s now a total of 273 focusing points in a 21x13 array, 169 of them using phase-difference detection measurement in a 13x13 array (hence the need for the greater precision of the new eight-way jog controller). However, in the Zone or Wide/Tracking modes, the X-Pro2 switches to a 7x11 points array and focusing is via a 3x3 points cluster, which is moved manually in the former and shifts automatically in the latter (the bigger zone allowing for improved tracking accuracy). Larger point clusters – 5x5 or 7x7 – can also be selected, depending on the size of the subject. Switching between continuous and single-shot AF operations is performed manually via a switch on the front panel (unchanged from the X-Pro1) and this also selects manual focusing. We’ve already mentioned the ERF tab in the optical viewfinder with its magnified image and focus peaking display, and obviously both these devices are available in the EVF to assist with manual focusing. Another option here is the ‘Digital Split Image’ which is also offered on the X-T1 and X100T, albeit in different configurations. On the X-Pro2 it takes the form of a fairly big box superimposed over the centre of the image – either in mono (which helps it stand out better) or simply transparent – and with three splits which are misaligned when the subject is out of focus. Focusing the lens brings the four sections together – just like the old optical split-image rangefinder – but frankly the digital version doesn’t work nearly as well. The splits are actually very hard to see unless you have very contrasty vertical edges – and the centre split is effectively obliterated by the level indicator if it’s switched on – and you really need to be a long way out-of-focus to notice the offsets. All this is even worse if you opt for the colour (i.e. transparent) display. You can zoom in when using either EVF or monitor screen which helps a little, but using focus peaking is far more

TEST IMAGE Test images taken with the Fujinon XF 18-35mm f2.8-4.0 R LM OIS zoom and XF 14mm f2.8 R prime wide-angle, and captured as JPEG/ large/fine files in the shutter-priority auto mode with the Vivid ‘Film Simulation’ preset and sensitivity settings between ISO 200 and 800. Sensor’s increased resolution (20 percent better than that of the X-Pro1) is evident in the enhanced definition and detailing. The dynamic range is excellent straight out of the camera, and noise is very well controlled essentially all the way up to ISO 6400.

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ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 effective. You can also have the digital split image in the OVF’s ERF tab, but here it’s just so small that it’s virtually impossible to see what’s going on. Of course, the problem here is that you still need to see the image itself so the splitimage panel can’t be too dark, but the splits need to be more distinct for this feature to be truly useful.

Get The Look The X-Pro2 relies on the same 256-segment metering system as its predecessor, with the choice of multi-zone, centre-weighted average, fully averaged or spot measurements. Usefully, the spot meter can now be linked to the active focusing point (or points cluster). As noted earlier, there’s a new focalplane shutter assembly with a faster top speed of 1/8000 second and tested to 150,000 cycles. However, the X-Pro2 also has a sensor-based shutter with a speed range of 1-1/32,000 second and

don’t have an aperture collar have a switch for moving between auto and manual diaphragm control (the latter done from the camera in this instance). The white balance presets remain as before, with a choice of seven (including for underwater) to supplement the auto correction, but there’s now the capacity to make and store three custom measurements (compared to just one previously). Fine-tuning and auto bracketing are also available for white balance control. There are actually five bracketing modes – all operating over sequences of three frames – the additional options being for exposure, ISO, dynamic range and the ‘Film Simulation’ presets. The X-Pro1 expanded these presets significantly over what we’d seen before, but Fujifilm has been adding to them since, so the X-Pro2 gains the Kodachrome-lookalike Classic Chrome and an all-new monochrome setting called ACROS after Fujifilm’s famous fine-grained B&W negative film. The standard monochrome ‘Film Simulation’ preset is actually based on Fujichrome Provia minus any colour, but ACROS is designed to have a tonality curve which emphasises detail in the highlights and mid-tones but gives enhanced smoothness in the shadow areas as a balance. The noise reduction algorithm is also different and actually processes to noise to look like film grain. And the effect varies with the ISO setting. Just in case you’d like to do this with the other ‘Film Simulation’ presets, there’s now a ‘Grain Effect’ function among the X-Pro2’s other image processing options.

While the X-Pro2 may still look a lot like its predecessor, there isn’t much that hasn’t been redesigned, revised or upgraded.” which, importantly, operates silently. Either shutter option can be used or a hybrid operation which gives the full 30 seconds to 1/32,000 seconds range, automatically switching between the two as required. The maximum flash sync speed is upped to 1/250 second. As before, there isn’t a built-in flash and external units sync via either a hotshoe or a PC terminal. The ‘B’ setting allows for exposure times of up to 60 minutes. The shutter speed dial also has a ‘T’ setting which accesses the longer exposure times from one second to 30 seconds. As on Fujifilm’s other higher-end X Mount cameras, the main auto exposure modes are selected by setting the speed dial and/or the aperture collar on the lens to ‘A’… which, of course, eliminates the need for a separate mode dial. The X Mount lenses which

30

Top panel view shows just how traditional the X-Pro2’s control layout really is… you can’t beat those milled dials.

THE MENUS The menus have been redesigned and re-arranged to further improve operational efficiencies.

Two menu pages are devoted to focus-related settings. The X-Pro2 now has a hybrid phase/contrast detection system boasting a total of 273 points. Info display in the main monitor screen provides an extensive amount of information. Usefully, the battery’s remaining power is shown as a percentage (see top right).

New ACROS ‘Film Simulation’ presets replicate the look of Fujifilm’s famous fine-grained B&W negative film.

Right now, this only has Weak or Strong settings, but it’s not hard to see this selection expanding in the future. As with the standard B&W ‘Film Simulation’ presets, there’s a choice of additional ACROS settings with yellow, red or green contrast-control filters. Additionally, the colour saturation, sharpness, highlight and/or shadow


ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 tone (i.e. contrast) and noise reduction can be adjusted for each preset. There’s a choice of three manual settings for dynamic range expansion processing – called 100%, 200% and 400% – or an automatic correction which assesses the brightness range in the scene and tweaks both the exposure and the tone curve accordingly. Furthermore, up to seven customised shooting presets can be created via a total of nine adjustments, including Film Simulation, Grain Effect, white balance, and noise reduction plus the standard picture parameters. Also on the X-Pro2’s menu is ‘Lens Modulation Optimiser’ (LMO) processing (which detects and corrects for diffraction blur), an intervalometer, a multiple exposure facility (well, actually double exposures only) and a selection of eight ‘Advanced Filters’ which includes all the usual suspects – Toy Camera, Miniature, Soft Focus, Partial Colour and Pop Colour.

Command Centre In addition to revising the external controls, Fujifilm has given the X-Pro2 a redesigned menu system which is much cleaner and crisper in appearance than before, and has a new arrangement of chapters which include Image Quality Settings (now separated from Shooting Settings), AF/MF Settings, Flash Setting and a customisable My Menu which can be loaded with up to 16 frequently-used items. Additionally, as introduced on the X-Pro1, there’s a ‘Quick Menu’ display which also provides direct access to a range of the most commonly-used capture and camera setting adjustments (again numbering 16)... either as a base bank or corresponding to the seven custom shooting set-ups. Alternatively, you can create a customised ‘Quick Menu’ of your own, selecting from a total of 25 functions. Navigation is via the four-way keypad with the rear input wheel then used to adjust the settings. However, unlike some quick menus, clicking on a function tile doesn’t bring up a sub-menu and instead the settings are simply changed within that tile. A total of six external controls are customisable – three ‘Fn’ buttons plus the left, right and bottom keys of the navigator pad. As mentioned earlier, you

can also vary the functions of the input wheels, but only within the realms of exposure control. We’ve also already mentioned the various customising options available for the viewfinder and monitor displays, but it’s worth noting here that this is now much-simplified via the Display Custom Settings page in the Set Up menu. Both the EVF and monitor can be adjusted for brightness and colour balance, and switching between the two can be done manually or automatically via the proximity sensor in the former’s eyepiece. This now also includes a strength adjustment, something that was curiously missing from the X-Pro1. The main monitor provides the option of a third display mode for info only, which is mainly designed to be used in conjunction with the EVF. It provides a host of information including an AF point grid, a real-time histogram, exposure settings and a bank of 15 capture settings. The image replay/review screens include a thumbnail accompanied by capture data, a highlight warning and a brightness histogram. The in-camera editing functions include RAW-to-JPEG conversion, Fujifilm’s ‘PhotoBook Assist’ feature (which allows for up to 300 images to be organised for reproduction in a photo book) and direct printing to an Instax instant print device. This is achieved via something that the X-Pro1 definitely didn’t have – built-in WiFi. In addition to wireless file sharing, the Fujifilm Camera Remote app allows for a wide selection of camera operations – including focusing, exposure settings, the ‘Film Simulation’ presets and selftimer – to be controlled from a mobile device. Remote file browsing is also available and images can be geotagged from a smartphone’s GPS.

New jog-type controller on the rear panel – rather ingloriously called the ‘Focus Stick’ – speeds up the selection of focus points or zones… handy as the X-Pro2 has a lot more of them than its predecessor.

The hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder has all the upgrades introduced with successive versions of the X100, including the nifty ‘Electronic Range Finder’ inset tab.

Fujifilm has pretty well ticked all the wish list boxes, especially with the adoption of dual memory card slots… the card compartment is now in the camera’s side rather than the base.

Making Movies There’s still something of an impression that video isn’t a huge priority for Fujifilm, but that said the X-Pro2 is still the best-equipped X Mount camera in this area so far. There aren’t any proorientated video features such as a zebra pattern generator, time coding or an uncompressed output, but a solid set of the basics is available nonetheless. Clips are recorded in the Full HD 1080p or HD 720p resolutions – at 60,

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ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 but subsequently can’t be changed. As with the X100T, you can have the video feed displayed in the optical finder via the ERF tab. It’s small, but then having a wider view as well can help with anticipating the action. It wouldn’t have taken much to turn the X-Pro2 into a serious video camera because the fundamentals are all there, particularly with the new sensor and processor, but as it is, it falls some way short in both controllability and higherend features. Just as well it’s quite brilliant at being a stills camera then.

Speed And Performance

50, 30, 25 or 24 fps – in the MOV format with MPEG 4 AVC/H .264 compression. Now that a full-pixel read-out is possible from the new sensor, the video IQ improves significantly, especially sharpness and definition, which are excellent. The autofocusing works well and exposure control is very reliable. The X-Pro2 has built-in stereo microphones with the option of manual levels control. A non-standard 2.5 mm stereo audio input is provided for connecting an external mic (it’s otherwise the remote controller’s socket). The top panel’s ‘Fn’ button is, by default, the video recording start/ stop button. Functionality includes continuous AF with face detection, the ‘Film Simulation’ presets (including the new ACROS B&W options and Classic Chrome) and up to +/-2.0 EV of exposure compensation. In a nutshell though, not a lot can be changed once recording starts. The peaking display and the Digital Split Image panel are available to assist with manual focusing. Apertures and shutter speeds can be preset prior to recording,

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TEST IMAGE The ACROS ‘Film Simulation’ preset delivers smoother tonality combined with excellent definition. New ‘Grain Effect’ function processes digital noise to look like film grain, and the effect varies with the ISO setting.

In the light of the continued increase in camera speeds and data handling capabilities (including 4K video), we’ve again upgraded our reference memory card. The new device is a Lexar 128 GB SDXC UHS-II/U3 (Speed Class 3) Professional card which is tagged ‘2000x’, meaning a data read transfer speed of 300 MB/second and a writing speed of 260 MB/second. As the fastest 128 GB UHS-II card yet available, it should handle whatever we throw at it. Set to JPEG/large/fine capture, the X-Pro2 recorded a burst of 114 frames in 13.996 seconds, giving a shooting speed of 8.14 fps. The speed is pretty close to the quoted spec, but the burst length far exceeds Fujifilm’s number which is not something we see very often… most cameras don’t even get close before slowing down markedly. The test file sizes were around 14 MB in size so that’s a fair amount of data being processed. Also speedy is the hybrid autofocusing system, but response times are noticeable faster when using the phase-difference detection points, of which 49 can be manually selected. A chance to try out the auto tracking with fast-moving racing cars showed that it’s a long way ahead of the previous model and, indeed, many other higher-end mirrorless cameras, although it has to be noted that it’s still not in the league of the latest pro-grade D-SLRs such as Nikon’s D5. Fujifilm suggests that 24 MP might well be the practical resolution limit for an ‘APS-C’ size sensor (so what happens next could be interesting), but the X-Pro2’s imaging performance doesn’t seem to be compromised by the

smaller pixels. Obviously, it’s all about the data processing which Fujifilm has always excelled at (remember comparing the Fujifilm D-SLRs with their Nikon equivalents?) and it’s evident here too, even before you start experimenting with the ‘Film Simulation’ presets. Obviously, not having an anti-aliasing filter helps with the sharpness and definition, which ensure the finest of details are beautifully resolved. The dynamic range is also very good straight out of the camera, but Fujifilm’s expansion processing is one of the few that seems to actually make a difference, particular to the tonality in the brighter highlights. The manual settings become progressively available as the ISO is increased – DR100% at ISO 200, DR200% at ISO 400 and above, DR400% from ISO 800 onward. Noise is well controlled up to ISO 1600 and still quite acceptable at either ISO 3200 or 6400, neither of which exhibit a significant loss of either colour saturation or definition, although a slight blotchiness in areas of continuous tone is evident at the higher setting. This becomes markedly more noticeable at ISO 12,800, although again neither saturation nor sharpness are significantly diminished. At ISO 25,600, though, things are starting to look decidedly messy. The colour reproduction with the Standard ‘Film Simulation’ preset is realworld accurate across the spectrum, but it’s what you can do with the others that’s ultimately more interesting, especially in terms of creating images which are more film-like in their colour palettes (and, it has to be said, tonal qualities), balancing colorimetric – or real colour – with expected or ‘memorised’ colour. If you shoot RAW, the ‘Film Simulation’ presets are profiles and the various parameters can be adjusted post-capture.

The Verdict Much changed in the four years since the X-Pro1 was launched, not the least being a much wider acceptance of mirrorless cameras and their migration into the enthusiast-level and professional sectors. Back then the X-Pro1 was the only game in town when it came to pro mirrorless cameras, but now there’s quite a bit of choice from the superb Olympus OM-D E-M1 to the also-brilliant (but eye-wateringly expensive) Leica SL.


ON TRIAL FUJIFILM X-PRO2 The hybrid viewfinder gives the X-Pro2 a unique point-of-difference and, more importantly, still works exceedingly well in practice, its usefulness further enhanced by the nifty ERF picture-in-picture tab. The changes to the control layout contribute to a smoother and more efficient workflow, as does the new menu system… here many small changes add up to a big difference. However, it’s the new

SPECS

‘X Trans’ sensor – aided by its high-powered processor – and the hybrid AF system which are real heroes, ensuring the X-Pro2 can match it with the big guns of the D-SLR world as well as its mirrorless rivals. B&W aficionados will just love the ACROS ‘Film Simulation’ presets and the Grain Effect function, which really is a lot cleverer than it looks on paper. What hasn’t changed from before, though, is the enjoyment

FUJIFILM X-PRO2 $2699

Type: Professional digital mirrorless camera with Fujifilm X bayonet lens mount. Focusing: TTL automatic hybrid system using both phase-difference detection and contrastdetection measurements. 273 measuring points (21x13 pattern) in total, 169 for phase-difference detection. Single-point, zone (7x7, 5x5 or 3x3 point clusters) and wide/tracking modes. Face/ eye detection. Manual switching between oneshot and continuous AF modes. Adjustable AF frame (five settings). Full manual override with zoom assist, focus peaking display or ‘Digital Split Image’ electronic rangefinder (colour/ monochrome). Sensitivity range is EV 0 - 18 (ISO 100). AF assist provided by dedicated illuminator. Metering: 256-point multi-zone, centreweighted average, full average, spot and TTL flash. Metering range is EV 0 to 18 (ISO 100/f2.0). Exposure Modes: Continuously-variable program with shift, shutter-priority auto, aperture-priority auto and metered manual. Shutter: Electronic, vertical travel, metal blades, 30-1/8000 second plus ‘B’ (up to 60 minutes). Flash sync up to 1/250 second. Sensor shutter has a speed range of 1-1/32,000 second. Exposure compensation up to +/-5.0 EV in 1/3stop increments. Viewfinder: ‘Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder’ optical/electronic type. LCD-type EVF has 2.36 mega dots resolution, 100% vertical/horizontal scene coverage and 0.59x magnification (35mm equivalent). OVF has 92% vertical/horizontal scene coverage and 0.36x/0.6x magnification (according to the lens focal length). Automatic brightline frame adjustment and superimposed digital displays (including real-time histogram). Automatic/manual switching between the OVF/ EVF and the LCD monitor screen. Eyepiece strength adjustment built-in. ‘Electronic Rangefinder’ (ERF) displays small EVF in the optical view. Flash: No built-in flash. External flash units connect via hotshoe or PC terminal. Additional Features: Magnesium alloy bodyshell sealed against dust and moisture with insulation for subzero temperatures down to

factor… except perhaps that it can now be ramped up to enthralling. The X-Pro2 experience is a thoroughly involving one, not just because this camera’s unique combination of character and capabilities make it an absolute delight to use, but because the new sensor-and-processor combo deliver such a rewarding performance. Few other pro-level cameras can make business such a pleasure.

body only.

-10 degrees Celsius, AE/AF lock, auto exposure bracketing (up to +/-2.0 EV over three frames), multiple exposure function (two shots), multimode self-timer (2 and 10 second delays), audible signals, auto power-off, cable release connection, wired remote trigger. DIGITAL SECTION Sensor: 24.3 million (effective) pixels ‘X-Trans CMOS III’ with 23.5x15.6 mm imaging area and 3:2 aspect ratio. Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 20012,800, extendable to ISO 25,600 and 51,200. Focal Length Magnification: 1.5x. Formats/Resolution: Two JPEG compression settings, RAW output (lossless compression or uncompressed) and RAW+JPEG capture. Three resolution settings at 3:2 aspect ratio; 6000x4000, 4240x2832 and 3008x2000 pixels. Three resolution settings at 16:9 aspect ratio; 6000x3378, 4240x2384 and 3008x1688 pixels. Three resolution settings at 1:1 aspect ratio; 4000x4000, 2832x2832 and 2000x2000 pixels. 24-bit RGB colour for JPEGs, 42-bit RGB colour for RAW files. Video Recording: MOV format at 1920x1080 pixels; 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 fps (progressive scan) and 16:9 aspect ratio, and 1280x720 pixels; 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 fps and 16:9 aspect ratio. MPEG 4 AVC/H.264 compression. Stereo microphones built-in with manual levels adjustment. Stereo audio input provided. Full HD clip length limited to 14 minutes and 30 seconds. Recording Media: Dual slots for SD, SDHC (with UHS-I support) and SDXC (with UHS-II support – Slot 1 only) memory cards. Sequential, Back-Up and RAW/JPEG slot file management modes. Continuous Shooting: 83 JPEG/large/fine frames at up to 8.0 fps or 33 RAW (compressed) frames with AF/AE locked to the first frame. Low speed continuous mode captures at 3.0 fps with continuous AF/AE adjustment. White Balance: TTL measurement. Auto mode, seven presets and three custom settings. White balance compensation (amber-to-blue and/or green-to-magenta) in all presets, and white balance bracketing. Manual colour

temperature setting from 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin. Interfaces: High-Speed USB 2.0 (micro USB), micro HDMI (Type D), 2.5mm stereo audio input. Additional Digital Features: Sensor cleaning, 7.62 cm RGBW LCD monitor (1.62 mega dots), 15 ‘Film Simulation’ modes (Standard/Provia, Vivid/Velvia, Soft/Astia, Classic Chrome, Pro Neg High, Pro Neg Standard, ACROS, ACROS+Yellow, ACROS+Red, ACROS+Green, Monochrome, Monochrome+Yellow, Monochrome+Red, Monochrome+Green, Sepia), ‘Grain Effect’ (strong, weak, off), eight ‘Advanced Filter’ effects (Toy Camera, Miniature, Pop Colour, High-Key, Low-Key, Dynamic Tone, Soft Focus and Partial Colour [Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Blue/Purple]), ‘Lens Modulation Optimiser’ (LMO) processing, intervalometer (up to 999 frames), pixel mapping, dynamic range expansion (Auto, 100%, 200%, 400%), adjustable image parameters (Colour Saturation, Sharpness, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone), real-time histogram display, electronic level display, grid displays, guidance displays, depth-of-field preview, bracketing functions (AE, Film Simulation, Dynamic Range, ISO, White Balance), high ISO noise reduction (plus/minus four levels), long exposure noise reduction (On/ Off), seven custom set-up memories, sRGB and Adobe RGB colour space settings, playback/ editing functions (RAW Conversion [11 adjustable parameters], Erase, Crop, Resize, Protect, Image Rotate, Red-Eye Removal, Copy, PhotoBook Assist), auto playback, multi-image playback, 9/100 thumbnail displays, zoom playback, silent mode, Instax print, customisable ‘My Menu’ (16 items), built-in WiFi module, PictBridge and DPOF support. Power: One 7.2 volt/1260 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (NP-W126 type). Dimensions (WxHxD): body only = 140.5x82.8x45.9 mm. Weight: body only = 445 grams (without battery or memory card). Price: $2699 body only. Distributor: Fujifilm Australia, telephone (02) 9466 2600 or visit www.fujifilm.com.au


ON TRIAL NIKON D5

Off To Work NIKON D5 The D5 is Nikon’s most accomplished D-SLR to date, but is it enough to stop pros contemplating a mirrorless camera for their next upgrade? REPORT BY PAUL BURROWS

growing number of photographers don’t want the size or weight either. It may still be hard to see pro-level mirrorless cameras like the Leica SL or Hasselblad X1D posing too much of a threat just yet (limited lens choices being one issue), but the likes of Sony’s A7R II, Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 (or X-T1) and even the top-end Micro Four Thirds models are a different ball game. The lens systems are already extensive and growing, the EVFs work well and, in just about all cases, the specs are comparable (certainly in terms of shooting speeds which are no longer hobbled by a reflex mirror mechanism). In other words, the reasons to stick with an SLR design – apart from tradition – are being whittled away. When, for example, you can have a 100-400mm zoom lens that’s effectively a 150-600mm (Fujifilm) or even a 200-800mm (Panasonic MFT), but no bigger or heavier than the classic 70-200mm then maybe it’s time for a rethink. Nevertheless, despite there now being potential alternatives, it’s arguable that there still isn’t an absolute direct mirrorless competitor to the Nikon D5 (or, indeed, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II) when all the elements of a pro-level D-SLR system are weighed up (no pun intended). It’s these elements that Nikon is seeking to capitalise on with the D5, again notably with the autofocusing and the lengths it has had to go to in order to extract some extra shooting speed. Just whether it’s enough to attract anybody other than owners of D4s or D3s though, remains to be seen.

Go Faster

There is no question Nikon’s D5 is an awesome piece of kit. The autofocusing performance, in particular, has to be seen to be believed and it betters just about every key spec of the already hugely-capable D4S. But, but, but… A few years ago we’d have been thumbing through the superlatives dictionary to find new ways to praise

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a camera like the D5, but the camera world has moved on and big, bulky D-SLRs are playing to a steadily reducing audience. In reality, the pro-level Nikon and Canon D-SLRs have always been fairly specialised machines as not everybody has required such durability and speed, but for a number of reasons – including external influences – a

Nikon has had to work hard to deliver the sort of performance capabilities it wanted to give the D5; mostly notably continuous shooting at 14 fps with autofocus fixed to the first frame and 12 fps with continuous adjustment. This is quite a feat because, back in 1996, Nikon could only achieve 13 fps with the specially-built F3H HighSpeed by giving it a fixed half-mirror and resorting to stop-down metering only (no autofocusing, of course). Both the F4 and F5 were available by then, but the more mechanical F3 was easier to rework for high-speed shooting. Fast forward 20 years and you can have 12 fps with continuous AF


and metering – both state-of-the art systems – and, thanks to a much bigger buffer memory, burst sequences of up to 200 frames, even when shooting 14-bit RAW frames. But the reality is tha with the reflex mirror operating, the top speed is 12 fps and the D5 only does 14 fps with the mirror locked-up which… well, say no more. To achieve the 12 fps the D5’s mirror uses a stepping motor which essentially turbo-charges the upward movement and then serves as powerassisted brakes on the downward movement, primarily to minimise bounce which, of course, wastes precious time. The new mirror assembly also minimises the black-out time which assists with subject tracking… something that’s pretty important for what is now, primarily, a sports action camera. It goes without saying that the D5’s viewfinder is fantastic – well, it’s optical, innit – with 0.72x magnification and 100 percent coverage. The image quality is always going to be better than anything an EVF can deliver – even the brilliant 4.4 megadots Epson panel in the Leica SL – but this is no longer really the issue. Today’s EVFs are better than ‘good enough’ and there are just so many other advantages, but let’s move on. While it’s actually no bulkier than its D4-series predecessors (or, indeed, the D3 models before that), the D5 now feels big… and heavy. There’s no question it’s very comfortable to handle – Nikon’s ergonomics remain exemplary – and within that bulk is a fully-integrated vertical grip, but smaller cameras are now the new normal, even with full-35mm format sensors. And we’re not necessarily talking about mirrorless cameras here… Nikon’s brilliant D750 is what actually immediately springs to mind. The D5 is, of course, built tough. This is a camera designed to shrug off the wear and tear of heavy-duty professional use in the great outdoors. Sports photography, in particular, can be very demanding on cameras because it’s all about capturing the action and the welfare of your gear is a secondary consideration… if it gets a few thumps and bumps along the way, so be it. Then there’s often dust, spray, snow, mud or rain. The D5’s magnesium alloy

Rear control panel centres on navigational keypad and dual jog controls (the second for the vertical grip) for selecting AF points. It also serves as the AE/ AF lock.

and junction, and the new shutter is good for 400,000 cycles. There’s no built-in flash to compromise the bodyshell’s overall integrity and, for the same reason, the large 8.1 cm LCD monitor screen is fixed. There’s a big jump in the resolution to an impressive 2.359 megadots, but more significantly, there’s now touchscreen controls. When the D5 is switched to live view,

through images for playback which is made even faster via a ‘Frame Advance Bar’ device. Curiously though, touch controls aren’t available for the normal camera operations such as navigating the menus.

In Command Like its predecessors, the D5 has two LCD info displays; a bigger one on the top deck and a smaller panel on the camera back which is mostly dedicated to the image quality settings, but also shows some key settings such as the white balance and drive mode. Both have builtin illumination and, as before, all the control buttons are backlit too (including now those for playback and delete) which is very, very useful. There’s a pair of memory card slots, but rather than mixing formats, Nikon now offers a choice, so you can have

To achieve a 12 fps shooting speed the D5’s mirror uses a stepping motor which essentially turbo-charges the upward movement and then serves as power-assisted brakes on the downward movement. the touch control functions including moving the AF point and a very nifty ‘Spot White Balance’ which sets the white balance for wherever you tap on the screen. Operations such as entering copyright data can now be

35


ON TRIAL NIKON D5

IN DETAIL

Built-in microphones are adjustable for levels and frequency response.

The viewfinder eyepiece has built-in shutter and strength adjustment. Lens is interchangeable with a fluorinecoated option for shooting in the rain.

AF area mode selector is positioned on the lens mount. Centre button is pressed in to access settings which now number seven.

Rear panel info display is mostly devoted to image file info. Button at far left is new and accesses a faster way of changing drive modes.

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a D5 with a dual XQD slots or one with dual CompactFlash slots. It’s an interesting choice given the popularity of SD and even CFast (certainly over XQD), but mixing formats was always a compromise so at least now you can standardise. The card slot management options include simultaneous recording to create back-ups or the separate recording of RAW and JPEG files when shooting with RAW+JPEG. The basic control layout is largely unchanged from that of the D4/D4S and so includes the distinctive dial-like button cluster on the top panel, front and rear input wheels (a.k.a. ‘Command Dials’), and the ‘Multi Selector’ navigator pad and ‘Sub Selector’ joystick on the rear panel. The top-panel control now has function buttons for the exposure modes (a logical change), auto bracketing and metering, while a selector wheel located below sets the drive mode (or ‘release mode’ as Nikon calls them). The old ‘Mode’ button astern of the shutter release is replaced by the ISO button which was previously less convenient to access as it was below the back panel’s info display. There are two new multi-function buttons – called ‘Fn2’ and ‘Fn3’ – which join the existing ‘Fn1’, ‘Pv’ and ‘AF-On’ buttons, but the scope for customising the D5’s operation is still comparatively limited. That said, Nikon has made it much easier to assign the various functions via new set-up screens for

nothing is getting wet or dusty which doesn’t have to. The USB connector is upgraded to mini-B 3.0 and there is both a stereo audio input and an output (standard 3.5 mm minijack terminals) as before, plus HDMI and Ethernet. On the front of the camera body is the PC flash socket and ten-pin remote terminal, again with individual covers.

Looking In On the inside the D5 is essentially allnew compared to the D4S – the sensor, processor, AF system, metering system, mirror mechanism and the aforementioned shutter – with an attendant enhancement to all relevant specs. The new sensor is a CMOS device with an imaging area of 35.9x23.9 mm – which Nikon calls the ‘FX’ format – and a total pixel count of 21.22 million. Unlike on a number of lower-level Nikon D-SLRs, an optical low-pass filter is retained. The new sensor is powered by Nikon’s latest-generation ‘Expeed 5’ processor which delivers a range of performance enhancements including, interestingly, to the JPEG quality “straight out of the camera” (to quote Nikon). Better noise reduction processing along with the sensor’s revised architecture gives a native sensitivity range equivalent to ISO 100 to 102,400 and an extension, perhaps appropriately tagged ‘Hi 5’, up to ISO 3,280,000. Yes, you read it right… three-point-two-eight million, but to be honest, don’t get too excited. The D5 may be able to capture images at this stratospheric ISO setting, but whether you can actually use them for anything is debatable as the noise issues from ISO 409,600 (i.e. ‘Hi 3’) upward are manifold. You’d have to think these ultra-high ISO settings are more about bragging rights than anything that has ‘real world’ usefulness. More practically, though, there’s also a one-stop ‘pull’ to ISO 50. As before, images can be captured as JPEGs, TIFFs or RAW files in a variety

The new autofocusing system is the D5’s main party trick and the ‘Multi-CAM 20K’ AF module is the most sophisticated ever seen and employs 153 measuring points, 99 of them cross-type arrays.” still photography and video recording. Custom settings are still saved to ‘banks’ (four in all), but the process is lot less clunky now. The left side of the camera (as viewed from behind) mostly comprises the camera’s many connectors, each with their own cover which means


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ON TRIAL NIKON D5

THE MENUS

Menu design and navigation is unchanged from the D4 models and remains the most logical in the D-SLR world.

In-camera lens corrections are provided for vignetting and distortion.

4K video shooting is the UHD resolution at 30, 25 or 24 fps. Maximum clip durations now at the standard 29 minutes and 59 seconds following a firmware upgrade.

New autofocus system employs a total of 153 points of which 55 can be manually selected. Revised ‘Lock On’ parameters enhance tracking reliability.

IN DETAIL New ‘Fn2’ button is customisable (new ‘Fn3’ is on the back panel).

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of configurations – either 12-bit or 14-bit colour and with lossless compression, lossy compression or uncompressed. The maximum image size is 5568x3712 pixels. There’s a big choice of image sizes and formats, including ‘APS-C’ (a.k.a. the ‘DX’ format in Nikon parlance) which can be set to automatically select when a DX Nikkor lens is fitted. JPEGs can be set to one of three compression levels – fine (at a 1:4 ratio), normal (1:8) or basic (1:16) with the option of setting either ‘optimal quality’ or ‘size priority’ compression regimes. RAW files can be capture in large, medium or small sizes. The various in-camera JPEG processing functions are pretty much the same as those offered on the D4S, but with a few additions. There’s a new ‘Picture Control’ preset called Flat and which is designed to optimise the dynamic range when shooting video to make colour grading easier in postproduction. It’s worth noting here that the D5 is the first Nikon D-SLR to offer 4K video shooting and the original, very limited clip duration of three minutes has now been fixed via firmware upgrade. The remaining six ‘Picture Controls’ are unchanged – Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape with the option of creating up to nine user-adjusted versions. The Monochrome preset replaces the colour adjustments with a set of contrast filters and a choice of nine toning effects each with seven levels of density. ‘Active D-Lighting’ (ADL) processing is available for dealing with contrast to optimise the dynamic range and there’s the choice of five manual settings from Low to Extra High 2 or auto correction. Alternatively, there’s a multi-shot HDR function which captures two images – one underexposed, the other overexposed – with a preset exposure adjustment of 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 EV or, alternatively, automatic adjustment based on the scene’s brightness range. Multiple exposures – between two to ten – can be created with the options of Add or Average exposure adjustment or, new on the D5, Lighten or Darken modes which use only the brightest or darkest pixels respectively. Auto bracketing functions are available for ADL, exposure, flash (or exposure and flash combined) and white balance. Bracketing sequences

can be up to nine frames. The D5 offers three auto white balance correction modes called ‘Keep White’, ‘Normal’ and ‘Keep Warm’. ‘Keep White’ is the newcomer and is designed to give white whites in situations where there are different types of lighting, both natural and artificial. All three operate over a range of 3500 to 8000 degrees Kelvin. Alternatively, there’s a choice of 12 presets (seven for different types of gas-ignition lighting), provisions for storing up to six custom settings, finetuning and manual colour temperature control over a range of 2500 to 10,000 degrees Kelvin.

Light Work White balance measurement accuracy is enhanced overall courtesy of using the D5’s new RGB-sensitive metering sensor which is at the heart of the camera’s ‘3D Colour Matrix Metering III’ system. The new sensor doubles the pixel count of the previous one from 91,000 to 181,000, so it’s able to measure even smaller points. The measurement options are multizone, centre-weighted average, highlight weighted and spot. As on all top-end Nikon D-SLRs, the size of the centreweighted meter’s central zone can be varied; in this case set to 8.0 mm, 12 mm (the default), 15 mm or 20 mm. Metering sensitivity extends down to -3.0 EV at ISO 100. The standard set of auto exposure control modes is backed by an AE lock and up to +/-5.0 EV of compensation plus, of course, the auto bracketing mentioned earlier and which can be set to sequences of up to nine frames. The new shutter has a speed range of 30-1/8000 second with flash sync up to 1/250 second and the D5 also gets a sensor shutter (a.k.a. an electronic first curtain shutter). Nikon doesn’t use this to get any more speed, but to enable near-silent operation in live view and, with mirror-up shooting using longer lenses, to further eliminate vibrations (but, somewhat curiously, not in the high-speed 14 fps mode). The recent firmware upgrade Version 1.10 for the D5 adds automatic flicker detection for dealing with the switching characteristics of gas-ignition lighting (i.e. fluorescent types) which can affect both exposure and colour balance


ON TRIAL NIKON D5 when shooting at faster shutter speeds. The anti-flicker capability detects the frequency of a light source’s blinking and subsequently times the shutter release to minimise the effect, even with continuous shooting. The D5’s ‘Silent Live View’ shooting mode has got a bit lost among the rest of the headlines, but it allows for JPEG/ large/fine capture at 15 fps for five seconds at low speed or at 30 fps in the high speed continuous mode. This is the D5 doing its best imitation of a mirrorless camera. The metering sensor is one element of what Nikon calls a ‘Scene Recognition System’ which, along with the AF module, analyses a scene to determine aspects such as back-lighting and colour content. This shouldn’t be confused with scene modes – not surprisingly, the D5 doesn’t have any – but it’s designed to fine-tune the autofocusing, exposure control and white balance.

Stay Focused The new autofocusing system is the D5’s main party trick. Nikon has always had the edge over rival Canon when it comes to AF performance and it’s determined to stay ahead. Thus, Nikon’s new ‘Multi-CAM 20K’ autofocus module is the most sophisticated ever seen and employs 153 measuring points, 99 of them cross-type arrays. Fifty-five points are manually selectable, and 35 of these are cross-type arrays. The spread of measuring points is not only wider and deeper than before, but they’re also more densely packed which enhances the detection speed and accuracy, especially with smaller subjects or targets. Overall sensitivity extends down to -3.0 EV – logical, given this is the metering’s limit too – but the central AF point will keep working down to -4.0 EV. Fifteen focus points (nine of them user-selectable) can operate with a maximum aperture as slow as f8.0… and all 153 operate down to f5.6. The AF system has its own high-powered processor – with a new AF algorithm for subject detection and analysis – to handle the continuous adjustment at 12 fps. There’s a choice of seven AF area modes; including ‘Dynamic Area’ set to nine, 25, 72 or 153 points, ‘Group Area’ which picks a point and then uses

TEST IMAGE

the surrounding points for further finetuning, ‘3D Tracking’ which taps into colour information to follow a moving subject, and ‘Auto Area’ which does exactly what it says on the tin. The ninepoint ‘Dynamic Area’ has been added via the firmware upgrade V1.10. Tracking can be optimised via a revised ‘Lock On’ function which is adjustable for the type of subject movement (using a scale from Steady to Erratic) and the response to an interruption caused by a blocked shot (from Quick to Delayed). Microadjustment is available to fine-tune for the focusing characteristics of individual lenses (up to 20) and it’s now done automatically which is both more convenient and more reliable. Why is

Test images shot with AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G and AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8G ED VR lenses. JPEG/large/fine capture using the Vivid ‘Picture Control’ preset and shutter-priority automatic exposure control. The new AF system is lightning fast and extremely reliable, even with very small subjects… nothing else gets close here. Image quality is excellent with clear improvements in the definition of fine detailing, smoother tonal gradations and a better dynamic range. Noise levels are impressively low up to ISO 6400 and acceptable up to ISO 25,600. However, the posted maximum of ISO 3,280,000 is, perhaps not surprisingly, pie-inthe-sky.

this needed? Because, believe it or not, even in this era of precision manufacturing, no two lenses off a production line actually focus in exactly the same way.

On Review The mass of autofocus points make for a busy viewfinder display – especially when all 153 are on duty – but only the selectable ones are shown as small squares, the rest are represented merely as dots. A grid guide is available in the viewfinder along with dualaxis level indicators. You can also have the grid guide display in the live view screen along with a more elaborate ‘virtual horizon’ level dis-

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ON TRIAL NIKON D5

The D5 comes in two flavours – for XQD memory cards (as shown here) or CompactFlash devices.

VIDEO

Mix of skills

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play and a real-time histogram. Autofocusing in live view is via contrast detection measurements using the imaging sensor with, as noted earlier, the capacity to locate the focus point via touch (although, the actual focusing still has to be done conventionally via the shutter release of ‘AF-On’ button). Manual focus assist is via a magnified image, but there isn’t a focus peaking display which has to be considered a significant oversight these days. The review/replay options are pretty much the same as those of

the D4S, including pages of four, nine or 72 thumbnails; zooming up to 21x and a slide show. Individual images can be displayed full-frame with or without capture info or as thumbnails with a brightness histogram alone, a full set of histograms or a brightness warning (which can be also cycled through the individual RGB colour channels). There’s also up to eight pages of capture data which are shown superimposed over the image and the first five provide just about everything you need to know, 24 items in all. The last three depend on whether the D5 is fitted with an optional GPS receiver or IPTC presets are embedded. A selection of in-camera editing functions are available via the Retouch Menu and these include ‘D-Lighting’ (for dealing with contrast), distortion, perspective, straighten, image overlay, a couple of basic filter effects (warm and skylight) and RAW-to-JPEG conversion. New is something called ‘Side-bySide Comparison’ which allows for the retouched image to be compared directly with the original. Incidentally, there’s also a split-screen view available

Our test D5 was the XQD version and it came with Lexar’s 1400x XQD 2.0 card in the 64 GB capacity which has a maximum write speed of 185 MB/second (and up to 210 MB/s read speed). With JPEG/large/fine capture the D5 rattled off a burst of 142 frames in 11.625 seconds which equates to a shooting speed of 12.21 fps. The average file size was 10.5 MB and there was virtually no delay writing all this data (nearly 1.5 GB) to the XQD card. We timed it at under a second. So even if you do fill the buffer, the camera will be ready to go again almost immediately. Bear in mind that if you opt for the CF card version, it won’t deliver quite the same burst lengths or buffer-clearing speeds. Clearly, though speed is the D5’s forte because the new AF system also excels here. It’s fast and unerringly accurate – even with very small subjects – while being reliable in all manner

The D5 is a bit of a contradiction when it comes to its video recording capabilities. It can’t compete with the EOS-1D X Mark II here because the Canon is also specifically designed to be a pro-level video camera. As it also replaces the EOS-1D C, it’s equipped accordingly. The D5 has a number of pro-level video features, but inexplicably lacks others – a couple of them quite basic such as a focus peaking display. As noted earlier, the D5 records 4K video, but in the Ultra HD resolution of 3840x2260 pixels rather than the pro-preferred Cinema 4K res of 4096x2160 pixels as on the EOS-1D X II, and at 25 or 24 fps only versus the Canon’s 50, 25 or 24 fps (PAL standard, progressive scan). The clip length with 4K shooting has been extended to the full 29 minutes and 59 seconds that’s allowable under European taxation laws (relating to video cameras). Additionally, the recent firmware upgrade Version 1.10 allows for the automatic creation of a new file at 4.0 GB (for up to eight files).

The D5’s UHD image quality is superb with very low noise characteristics up to ISO 6400, and 4K clips can be recorded simultaneously to a memory card and an external device via the HDMI terminal which is handy for creating back-ups. The built-in stereo microphones are adjustable for level (over a useful range too) and there’s a choice of two frequency response settings called ‘Wide Range’ and ‘Vocal Range’. There’s also a low-cut filter for dealing with wind noise. Both a stereo audio input and an output are provided. The recent firmware upgrade also delivers another video-orientated feature, namely electronic image stabilisation (i.e. by shifting the image area on the sensor) which is available for both Full HD and 4K recording. This provides three-axis correction (up/ down, left/right and rotational) and can be combined with the optical image stabilisation in VR-equipped Nikkor lenses. Carried over from the D4S is the very handy ‘Power Aperture’ function

which enables smooth, stepless adjustment of the lens iris. Any of the ‘PASM’ exposure control modes can be used and the ‘Picture Control’ presets, including obviously the new Flat option which is specifically designed for video recording. Continuous autofocusing is also available when shooting with the options of face-detection, subject tracking or normal/wide area modes, but in practice it’s pretty sluggish and there isn’t a true touch-focus facility… you can only move the focusing zone this way, not actually focus. It’s a bit of a mixed bag and you get the sense that even Nikon isn’t convinced that videographers will opt for the D5 over other more-able D-SLRs in its line-up, including the ‘APS-C’ D500. The D5 records 4K UHD video at close to a ‘DX’ format crop anyway. The Canon EOS-1D X II is a far superior package here should you want to use a high-end D-SLR for shooting video, but there are also many better-equipped mirrorless cameras for this application, starting with Sony’s A7S II.

in the D5’s live view, although here it comprises two zoomed-in sections from the scene primarily to assist with focusing and alignment.

Speed And Performance


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ON TRIAL NIKON D5 of lighting conditions, including when it’s dark enough that you’d normally expect hunting to be an issue. The focus tracking also works exceptionally well, even with quite small subjects travelling at high speeds. To be frank, the improvements to the autofocusing performance are just so significant that this alone is worth upgrading from the D4 or D4S. The new metering system is also very reliable, although this is really no surprise given Nikon’s track record in this department. The imaging performance is no surprise either. As noted earlier, Nikon has done some work on enhancing the JPEG quality straight out of the camera – probably because pros such as sports and news photographers mostly shoot JPEGs given their tight deadlines – and there are improvements evident in the crisper definition of fine detailing, smoother tonal gradations and a better dynamic range. Some of this is down to the increase in resolution over the D4S – which is close to 25 percent – but much of it can be attributed to the Expeed 5’s new image processing algorithms. While, of course, the D810 and even the D750 still deliver higher resolution, the D5’s sensor has a superior signal-to-noise ratio which not only manifests itself in the dynamic range, but also the high ISO performance which is brilliant up to ISO 6400 and still very good at ISO 12,800. Even ISO 25,600 is useable, albeit with some mottling in areas of continuous tone and a small reduction in the colour saturation, but the definition still holds together well so detailing is much less compromised. Consequently, as was the case with the original ‘gloom-buster’, the D3, these ultra-high ISO settings are still very much on the cards if you’re shooting B&W… the luminance noise simply looking like film grain and quite acceptable (of course, here the D5 also goes well beyond the venerable D3).

The Verdict On one level the D5 is just a better D4S which means it’s still a big and heavy D-SLR primarily aimed at working photographers who need, above anything else, a very tough and reliable camera. This market still undoubtedly exists, but it’s becoming harder to see D-SLRs like the D5 (and EOS-1D X Mark II)

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The top panel is substantially the same as that of the last few Nikon pro D-SLRs and is dominated by the large info display panel.

appealing to photographers outside this ‘demographic’ given there’s a steadily increasing number of mirrorless options which can also tick most, if not all, of their boxes… plus add innovation to the list. And it’s also telling that the D5 delivers some of its best capabilities when it’s not using its reflex mirror and optical viewfinder (including when shooting video). That said, the Nikon D5 may be old school, but it’s gloriously old school. It may also be a big camera, but it handles well even with a long lens fitted, and the improved ergonomics give even more efficient operational workflows. The new AF system is brilliantly accurate in any situation, including when tracking something fast-moving at 12 fps, and you just know that this camera isn’t

The D5’s sensor has a superior signal-to-noise ratio which not only manifests itself in the dynamic range, but also the high ISO performance which is brilliant up to ISO 6400 and still very good at ISO 12,800.

going to let you down when the going gets tough. There are a few disappointments though… the touchscreen controls aren’t fully implemented and nor are the 4K video capabilities (even with the clip duration extended). Opportunities have been missed here, but then coincidentally both are related to when the camera is in a mirrorless configuration. Just sayin’. Sooooo… beyond being a Nikondedicated sports or wildlife shooter, why would you buy the D5? Well, it’s a lot cheaper than a Leica SL or the Hasselblad X1D, and is backed by a much more extensive lens system. It has a superior AF system to the Sony A7R II, particularly in terms of tracking fast action, and is generally much superior when it comes to continuous shooting. However, the Sony has twice the resolution at nearly half the price and its lens system is growing by the minute. In the end, it probably now all comes down to desirability and fortunately, as well as its many laudable features and specifications, the Nikon D5 has this in spades. So, in other words, if you really want one, go ahead and buy one… you won’t be disappointed.


AWARDS 2016


ON TRIAL NIKON D5

SPECS

NIKON D5 $8949

Type: Professional digital SLR with Nikon F (D-type) bayonet lens mount Focusing: Automatic via 153-point wide-area system using phase-detection type CCD sensor with 99 cross-type arrays. Focus points may be selected manually or automatically and either as single points or in groups (9, 25, 72 or 153) plus Group-Area AF mode which uses a wider detection zone made up of five points. Points re-orientated for vertical shooting. One-shot and continuous modes both with a predictive function. 3D Tracking and face recognition modes. Sensitivity range is EV -4 - 20 (ISO 100). AF assist provided by built-in illuminator. Contrast detection autofocusing in live view mode and with video recording. Manual focus assist in live view via magnified image (up to 11x). Automatic micro-adjustment for up to 20 lenses. Metering: 181,000 pixels RGB ‘3D Color Matrix III’, centre-weighted average (with variable diameter weighting – 8.0mm, 15mm or 20mm), spot (4.0mm/1.5%), highlight weighted and i-TTL flash via 1005-pixel sensor. Metering ranges are; 3D Color Matrix and C/W average = EV -3 to 20, spot = EV 2 to 20, highlight weighted = EV 0 to 20 (f1.4/ISO 100). Exposure Modes: Continuously-variable program with shift, shutter-priority auto, aperture-priority auto, metered manual, i-TTL auto flash and manual flash. Shutter: Electronically-controlled, vertical travel, focal plane type, 30-1/8000 second plus ‘B’. Flash sync to 1/250 second. Exposure compensation up to +/-5.0 EV in 1/3, ½ or one stop increments. Viewfinder: Coverage = 100% vertical/horizontal. Magnification = 0.72x (50mm lens at infinity). LCD displays and LED focus point indicators. Standard focusing screen has AF zones and on-demand grid lines. Eyepiece strength adjustment and built-in shutter provided. Flash: No built-in flash. External flash units connect via hotshoe or PC terminal. Additional Features: Magnesium alloy bodyshell sealed against dust and moisture, illuminated buttons, auto exposure bracketing (up to nine frames), auto flash bracketing (plus AE and flash bracketing), depth-of-field preview, AE lock, flash compensation, all exposure adjustments in 1/3, ½ or full stops; multi-mode self-timer (two to 20 seconds, one to nine frames with adjustable intervals), auto flicker detection, mirror lock-up, quiet and silent shutter modes, two external LCD read-out panels with built-in illumination, audible signals, wired remote control terminal, wireless remote control, 49 custom functions. DIGITAL SECTION Sensor: 21.33 million pixels CMOS with 35.9x23.9 mm area. Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 100-102,400 (extendable to ISO 50 and 3,280,000). Focal Length Increase: None.

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body only. Estimated average street price.

Formats/Resolution: Three JPEG compression settings (1:4, 1:8 or 1:16), uncompressed TIFFs, and lossless compressed or compressed RAW files. Three resolution settings at 3:2 aspect ratio; 5568x3712, 4176x2784 and 2784x1856 pixels. Three resolution settings at 1.2x image size (30x20 mm); 4640x3088, 3472x2312 and 2320x1544 pixels. Three resolution settings at 5:4 (30x24 mm); 4640x3712, 3472x2784 and 2320x1856 pixels. Three resolution settings in ‘DX’ format (24x16 mm); 3648x2432, 2736x1824 and 1824x1216 pixels. Additionally, still images can be captured in the movie mode in the ‘FX’ and ‘DX’ formats and 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios, again at three resolution settings. RAW (NEF) images are captured at 5568x3712 pixels in either 36-bit or 42-bit RGB colour, or at 4176x2784 and 2784x1856 pixels with 36-bit RGB colour. RAW+JPEG capture is possible (with all JPEG compression levels). TIFFs are captured at 5568x3712, 4176x2784 and 2784x1856 pixels in 8-bit RGB colour. Video Recording: 4K UHD at 3840x2160 pixels and 30, 25 or 24 fps (progressive scan) and 16:9 aspect ratio (maximum bit rate is 144 Mbps). Full HD at 1920x1080 pixels and 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 fps (progressive scan) and 16:9 aspect ratio (maximum bit rate is 48 Mbps). HD at 1280x720 pixels at 60 or 50 fps (progressive scan) and 16:9 aspect ratio (maximum bit rate is 24 Mbps). MOV format with MPEG-4 AVC/H .264 compression. ‘FX’, ‘DX’ or ‘16:9 Movie Crop’ frame formats. Stereo sound recording with auto/manual adjustable levels, adjustable frequency response and wind noise filter. Stereo microphone input and headphone output provided. Clip duration limited to three minutes for UHD recording, ten minutes for Full HD recording at 42 Mbps. Clip duration limited to 29 minutes and 59 seconds, but a new file is automatically started when the 4.0 GB file size limit is reached. Video Features: Index marking, power aperture control, live frame grab, time lapse recording, auto flicker detection, electronic image stabilisation, uncompressed output via HDMI connection with simultaneous recording to a memory card. Recording Media: Two slots for either CompactFlash (UDMA 7 speed compliant) or XQD memory cards. Overflow, Backup and RAW Primary-JPEG Secondary file management modes. Continuous Shooting: Up to 200 frames at 12.0 fps with JPEG/large/fine capture or up to 200 RAW (lossless compressed, 12-bit or 14-bit, using XQD cards). Up to 14 fps with mirror lock-up. Low speed continuous shooting mode can be set from 1.0 to 10.0 fps. Continuous AF and AE adjustment at up to 10.0 fps. At up to 3.0 fps in quiet mode. White Balance: TTL measurements using 180,000 pixels RGB metering sensor. Auto/manual control with 12 presets and six custom settings. White balance fine-tuning available for AWB and all presets plus manual colour temperature setting (2500-

10,000 degrees Kelvin, in ten degree increments or mired units) and white balance bracketing (up to nine frames). Three auto correction settings – Auto 0 ‘Keep White’ reduces warmer hues under artificial lighting. Auto 1 ‘Normal’ balances subject colour and ambient lighting. Auto 3 ‘Keep Warm Colours’ maintains warmer hues under incandescent lighting. Spot white balance measurement available in live view. Interfaces: USB 3.0, HDMI output (mini Type C), Ethernet (1000 Base-T), 3.5mm stereo audio input, 3.5mm stereo audio output. Additional Digital Features: Active sensor cleaning, dual-axis ‘virtual horizon’ display, live view functions (with contrast-detection AF), 8.1 cm LCD monitor (2.539 megadots resolution), ‘Active D-Lighting’ contrast control (Auto, Low, Normal, High, Extra High 1, Extra High 2), ADL bracketing, seven ‘Picture Control’ presets (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and Flat), adjustable ‘Picture Control’ parameters (Sharpening, Contrast, Clarity, Brightness, Saturation, Hue) with ‘Quick Adjust’, B&W filters and toning effects, nine user-defined ‘Picture Control’ modes, multiple exposure facility (up to ten frames with Add, Average, Lighten or Darken exposure adjustment), intervalometer (up 89,991 shots with exposure smoothing), HDR multi-shot capture (Smoothing High/Normal/ Low, Exposure Differention 1/2/3 EV), sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces, long exposure noise reduction (Off, On), high ISO noise reduction (Off, Low, Normal, High), grid guide (for viewfinder and live view screen), real-time histogram in live view, dual-axis level indicator (for viewfinder abnd live view screen), auto ISO with auto minimum shutter speed control, in-camera lens corrections (distortion and vignetting) image comments input (up to 36 characters), auto image orientation, adjustable image display time, slide show, 4/9/72 thumbnail displays, histogram displays (brightness and/or RGB channels), highlight alert, playback zoom (up to 21x), in-camera editing functions (Trim, Resize, D-Lighting, Red-Eye Correction, Straighten, Distortion Control, Perspective Control, Filter Effects, Monochrome, Image Overlay, RAW Processing, Edit Movie, Sideby-Side Comparison). PictBridge compliant. May be fitted with optional WT-5 or WT-6 WiFi wireless data transmitters and GP-1/GP-1A GPS receivers. Power: One 10.8 volt, 2500 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (EN-EL18a type). Dimensions (WxHxD): Body only = 160.0x158.5x92.0 mm. Weight: XQD version body only = 1235 grams (without battery pack ormemory cards). CompactFlash version body only = 1240 grams (without battery pack ormemory cards). Price: Body only = $8949. Estimated average street price. Distributor: Nikon Australia Pty Ltd, telephone 1300 366 499 or visit www.mynikonlife.com.au


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AWARDS 2016

TIPA 2016 WINNERS BEST PROFESSIONAL FLASH

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ON TRIAL BENQ SW2700PT

Photo Finish BENQ SW2700PT 27-INCH PHOTO MONITOR BenQ enters the crowded 27-inch QHD-res photo monitor field with a winner. The SW2700PT is a solid performer on many levels, combining usability and affordability. REPORT BY PAUL BURROWS

A rigid plastic shade hood is supplied with the monitor and is easy to both assemble and fit.

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Professionals have known it for a long time, but the importance of having a properly calibrated monitor as part of a managed digital imaging workflow is now filtering down to enthusiast-level photographers. The consequence is a growing market for monitors designed specifically for photographers and it’s logical that the companies already manufacturing displays for other applications – such as gaming or entertainment – are moving into this space, including BenQ. It started out fairly quietly, but BenQ has had to step up things now that its 27-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD panel won TIPA’s Best Photo Monitor award earlier in the year. EIZO, of course, has well established itself as the maker of monitors for photographers, but brands such as Samsung, LG and ViewSonic are competing here too – especially on affordability and value – so BenQ has faced some competition, but its SW Series products have quickly found a following. The first thing that’s noticeable when unboxing the SW2700PT is that the stand, while stylish, is also very heavy duty. The main arm is very beefy – despite there being a big aperture to serve as a cable run – and it fits to the wide base via a substantial metal four-claw bayonet mount. The mount for attaching the screen itself is also metal and employs large-sized lugs so the whole set-up is hugely stable, eliminating the wobbles that can be an issue with flimsier mounts. The standard VESA screen mount allows for wall mounting as an alternative. There are the usual adjustments for tilt and swivel plus a generous 14 centimetres of height with an enlarger-style counter-balanced arrangement so it’s exceptionally smooth, but braked so it won’t succumb to the force of gravity and descend unassisted. Additionally, the screen can be pivoted through 90 degrees to be used in the portrait orientation.


ON TRIAL BENQ SW2700PT

The monitor itself looks businesslike and also feels well-built with a slightly curved back, matte black trim and a semi-gloss faceplate to minimise glare. The unit is supplied with a hood which is assembled from five rigid plastic panels each lined with black felt. It simply and easily clips together. The middle of the three top panels incorporates a sliding hatch to allow a calibration spider to be dropped through – somebody has been thinking – but on the negative side, the located lugs on the side of the monitor are very flimsy and break easily if you use just a bit of force when detaching the hood (which we did!). Of course, many users will simply fit the hood and leave it there, but also the lugs look to be easily replaceable as they’re simply screwed on the main frame rather than being an integrated moulding. A wired OSD (On-Screen Display) remote controller is supplied and this circular device sits

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in a well in the base, making various setting changes as easy as pushing a button (more about this shortly).

True Colours The panel is an ‘Advanced HyperViewing Angle’ (AHVA) type display with a maximum definition of 2560x1440 pixels which, at this screen size, gives a resolution of 109 ppi. The AHVA technology is a derivative of In-Plane Switching (IPS) and designed to enhance the offaxis image performance by minimising

The stand is exceptionally strong – probably the best in the business – so the monitor screen itself stays very stable. The circular well in the base accepts a wired OSD controller for easy switching between colour modes.

It’s pretty easy to see how the SW2700PT impressed the TIPA judges. It delivers excellent resolution and definition, with accurate colour reproduction and impressive uniformity of brightness.

any brightness reduction or colour shifts when viewing the screen from the sides. Consequently, there’s a wide viewing angle of up to 178 degrees, both vertically and horizontally. This is a true 10-bit display so there’s a palette of over one billion colours to produce smoother shading, colour transitions and tonal gradations. It’s calibrated before being shipped from the manufacturer and this report is included in the supplied documentation, sealed in its own plastic sleave. BenQ claims a colour gamut spanning 99 percent of the Adobe RGB colour space, but the monitor can also be set to sRGB, Standard, Photo, B&W and Low Blue Light modes. This last mode is mainly designed to reduce eyestrain when using the monitor for non-photo applications. You can, of course, perform your own hardware calibration, but it’s first necessary to install BenQ’s proprietary Palette Master Element software which is available as a free download and runs on both Windows and iOS systems. Palette Master Element supports a range of colorimeters including the Datacolor Spyder 5 and X-Rite i1 Pro/ Pro 2. It’s easy to set-up and use, and offers the option of basic and advanced calibration sequences which are run via on-screen prompts. While it’s necessary to purchase the colorimeter, this is still a less expensive option than going for a monitor with built-in calibration. Mind you, the BenQ SW2700PT performs pretty well straight out-of-the-box and while we did do our own calibration with a Spyder 5, it didn’t really result in any significant improvement over the ‘factory fresh’ settings.

In Control Two calibration results can be stored along with two custom set-ups and there’s considerable scope for adjustment as far as the latter is concerned. The parameters include brightness, contrast, sharpness and black level which are adjusted via sliders; plus colour temperature (5000, 6500 or 9300 degrees Kelvin presets and a userdefined setting), gamma, hue and saturation. Six gamma settings (1.6, 1.8, 2.0,


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ON TRIAL BENQ SW2700PT IN DETAIL Two USB 3.0 (downstream) and an SD card reader are located on the side of the bezel.

Function buttons are located underneath the bezel, but are all unmarked. The three on the left can be assigned different functions.

The connections bay includes pretty well everything the photographic user will need.

Height adjustment includes a pointer and is counterbalanced for smooth adjustments.

– and the various sub-menus pop-up in the same order, but it can still take a while to memorise what does what which is why the remote controller is such a handy feature. The connection options comprise HDMI (Version 1.4), Display Port, DVI-DL (dual link) and USB 3.0, but in the case of the first three, only one port for each. The OSD controller has its own mini-USB connection. There’s also a slot for SD memory cards which frees up one of the main USB ports for the great many photographers using this format. It’s pretty easy to see how the SW2700PT impressed the TIPA judges. It delivers excellent resolution and definition, with exceptionally accurate colour reproduction and impressive uniformity of brightness (which is always a challenge with backlighting using LEDs). Neither banding nor posterisation were in evidence, but the colours are beautifully rich and the gradation from saturation to subtle is seamlessly smooth. The colour fidelity is complimented by deep, solid blacks. The quality of the physical elements is also to be commended, especially the stability of the mount. The provision of the shade hood is a big plus, only let down by the pretty flimsy slivers of plastic that are meant to hold it in place.

The Verdict

2.2, 2.4 and 2.6) are provided for optimising the contrast ratio and colour saturation to the application. Also adjustable are various system functions such as the menu display time, auto power-off timings, and audio settings. Usefully, the menus can be set to automatically rotate when the monitor is used in the portrait orientation. It’s also possible to program the keys on the wired remote controller to set the colour mode – enabling, for example, a quick switch to B&W – or provide easy access to the calibration and/or custom set-ups. The controller also has a four-way keypad for navigating the menus along with ‘OK’ and ‘Return’ buttons, so it provides a much more convenient and efficient method of making adjustments than using the on-monitor controls (which, for starters, are all unmarked). However, should you prefer it, customisable keys are also provided on the monitor itself, located along the underside of the bezel on the righthand side. The defaults are for input selection, colour mode and brightness, but there are options for contrast, colour temperature, gamma and colour gamut. Accessibility is OK for these controls – although you essentially find them by feel

50

In many ways, the BenQ SW2700PT defines a mid-range photography monitor. The feature set is very much tailored to this application with the option (at least for some) of simply using the factory calibration – which delivers a truly excellent result with nothing more to do – but with the capacity to calibrate via colorimeter should it be needed for very critical work. The set of connections is definitely more photo orientated than anything else (even video), likewise the fine-tuning possibilities and the nearfull coverage of the Adobe RGB colour space. All this is topped off with the remarkable colour accuracy, contrast and sharpness which is as good as you’d get when paying twice as much… so you can throw value-for-money into this mix. The overall build quality is also a cut above what you’d normally expect for the BenQ monitor’s price. So, whichever way you look at it, a clear winner.

SPECS

BENQ SW2700PT 27-INCH PHOTO MONITOR $1299 Panel Type: 68.6 cm (27 inches) AHVA (IPS) TFT LCD with RB-LED backlighting. Display Area: 596.7x335.6 millimetres (full scan). 16:9 aspect ratio. Native Resolution: 2560x1440 pixels (109 ppi). Viewing Angles: 178 degrees horizontal and vertical Brightness: 350 cd/m² (typical). Contrast: 1000:1 (typical). Display Colours: 1.07 billion. Colour Range: 99 percent of Adobe RGB 1998. Internal Processing: 10-bits per colour. Height Adjustment Range: 14.0 centimetres. Mount Adjustments: -3.5-20 degrees tilt, 35 degrees left/right swivel, 90 degrees pivot (for portrait format), 130 mm height. Connections: DVI-DL, Display Port 1.2, HDMI 1.4, USB 3.0 (two downstream, one upstream), 3.5 mm headphone output. Features: 14-bit LUT and 3D LUT, SD memory card slot, five picture presets (Standard, sRGB, Adobe RGB, B&W, Photo), Delta E ≤ 2 (CIE) colour accuracy, on-line hardware calibration with two preset modes, low blue light mode, display colour adjustments (colour temperature, gamma, gamut, hue, saturation, black level), three colour temperature settings (5000, 6500, 9300 degrees Kelvin with R/G/B gain adjustments), wired remote controller, two custom set-ups, three customisable function keys, three customisable feature/set-up keys. Shading hood supplied. Dimensions (WxHxD): 652.8x566.7x322.8mm (including stand at highest setting). Weight: 8.3 kilograms (including stand, but without hood). Price: $1299, includes a shade hood and cables (DVI, Display Port and USB). Three-year warranty. Distributor: BenQ Australia, visit www.BenQ.com.au


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