Posts Tagged ‘What’s’

What’s the Best Aperture for Portraits?

23 Feb

The post What’s the Best Aperture for Portraits? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

the best aperture for portraits

Choosing the best aperture for portraits doesn’t have to be complicated…

…but there are some guidelines to follow if you want your shots to look stunning.

And in this article, I’m going to break it down for you. I’ll share with you my favorite apertures for different types of portraits – so that you can confidently pick the perfect aperture whenever you’re out shooting!

Let’s get started.

Best Aperture for Portraits family by a forest
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 185mm |1/350s | f/4 | ISO 2000

Why is aperture important in portrait photography?

Aperture matters for several reasons:

First, aperture is one of the three components of exposure. If you don’t get your aperture right, you might end up with a too-dark or too-light image.

And, because of its effect on exposure, your aperture limits your shutter speed and ISO.

The right aperture also puts your viewer’s attention squarely on your subject and regulates your depth of field to get just the right amount of background blur.

Now, the best portrait lenses have wide apertures of f/2.8 to f/1.2. With these lenses, you can capture photos in virtually any lighting condition, plus you can create dreamy bokeh behind your subject.

As you consider what aperture to use when shooting portraits, you also need to pay attention to the focal length of your lenses, as well as how close you’ll get to your subjects.

A wide aperture on a 35mm lens won’t blur the background as much as a wide aperture on an 85mm lens. Also, longer focal lengths require fast shutter speeds to reduce vibration, unless the lens or camera has built-in stabilization. Wide apertures can help get those fast shutter speeds without requiring a high ISO (and a high ISO might result in unwanted noise or grain).

girl sitting on a trail
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/180s | f/2.8 | ISO 250

What is the best aperture for portraits?

The best aperture for individual portraits is f/2 to f/2.8. If you’re shooting two people, use f/4. For more than two people, shoot at f/5.6.

These aren’t the only apertures you can use, and there are certainly other elements to consider. But if you want great results, you can’t go wrong with these rules of thumb.

They’ll help ensure your portraits are sharp and your subjects are all in focus.

Best Aperture for Portraits woman headshot
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/350s | f/4 | ISO 2000

Apertures in portrait photography: A detailed breakdown

Unfortunately, there is no single best aperture for portraits. There are myriad factors that affect the final photo, so you’ll need to adjust your aperture depending on your subject.

Let’s take a closer look at some different shooting scenarios and the apertures I recommend:

The best aperture for individual portraits

While I stand by my earlier recommendation for an f/2 to f/2.8 aperture, you should consider those apertures as starting points, or as an insurance policy of sorts. Depth of field is so thin at wider apertures that it’s best to start a bit smaller than your lens’s maximum aperture value, simply to make sure your bases are covered.

After all, shooting at f/1.2 can keep a person’s eyelashes in focus while their iris ends up blurry!

Best Aperture for Portraits senior graduation
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/250s | f/2.8 | ISO 100

Note that, when using a wider focal length, you can shoot at larger apertures, because the depth of field won’t be as shallow.

For example, if you use a 35mm prime lens, you can go all the way to f/1.8 or wider and keep plenty of your subject in focus.

One caveat: Some lenses, especially less-expensive zooms and even some primes, lose sharpness at maximum apertures. For that reason, I recommend shooting conservatively and not always going as wide as you can.

Of course, each lens is different, so test out different apertures and see what you’re comfortable with.

Best Aperture for Portraits child smiling
Nikon D7100 | Nikon 35mm f/1.8 | 1/750s | f/1.8 | ISO 200

I like to take a two-pronged approach when shooting portraits.

First, I always use Aperture Priority mode paired with Auto ISO. This lets me specify the aperture while my camera takes care of the shutter speed and ISO.

Since the aperture is my primary consideration, I need to get that right. As long as my camera doesn’t drop below a certain shutter speed or go beyond a specific ISO value, I know my photos will be fine.

Second, I always start by taking several shots with a smaller aperture. It’s how I cover my bases; that way, I know I have at least some shots where everything is in focus and the depth of field isn’t too shallow.

Then, like stepping on the gas pedal of a sports car, I spin my camera dial and widen the aperture. This lets me turn my portraits up to 11, and clients love the results – but I know that, if my depth of field does turn out too shallow and something isn’t in focus, I can always rely on the narrow-aperture shots I started with.

Best Aperture for Portraits senior closeup
Nikon D750 | Nikon 85mm f/1.8G | 1/180s | f/1.8 | ISO 250. I took lots of shots at f/2.8 and then went all the way to f/1.8, knowing I had a fallback plan if the wide-aperture photos didn’t turn out sharp. Fortunately, the f/1.8 shots were great!

The best aperture for small group photos

Selecting the right aperture for small groups depends on a number of factors.

Though you can’t go wrong with f/4, there are variables to consider that will help you get the best shots possible.

(One reason f/4 works well is that it gives you depth of field wiggle room while still producing great results.)

When photographing a single subject, it’s essential to get the eyes in focus, or at least the one eye that is closest to the camera.

But when working with small groups, you ideally want everyone’s eyes in focus. So the depth of field should be wider, which requires a smaller aperture.

Fortunately, when shooting groups, you’ll be positioned farther back from your subjects, and this will deepen the depth of field.

An f/4 aperture strikes a great balance between blurring the background, sharpening your subjects, and giving your clients frame-worthy photos.

parents and child
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/250s | f/4 | ISO 900

Note that apertures wider than f/4 can work, but people must be aligned perfectly with one another; otherwise, there’s a good chance someone will be out of focus.

So apertures such as f/3.5 and f/2.8 tempt fate, and you might not realize it until it’s too late.

In fact, if your subjects are too far out of alignment, even f/4 won’t do the trick. Look at the photo below; the mother is holding her son on her lap, and his eyes are sharp while her head is blurry. She is only a few inches behind her son, and f/4 resulted in her being out of focus:

mother and child
Nikon D750 | Nikon 85mm f/1.8 | 1/250s | f/4 | ISO 800. The mother’s eyes are just a bit blurry, which could have been fixed by using a smaller aperture of f/5.6.

Even though f/4 is my go-to aperture for small group photos, it’s a good idea to get shots at smaller apertures, as well. Otherwise, things can get so chaotic that you might not have time to check all your shots, and only after you load your images in Lightroom will you realize that you didn’t get everyone in focus.

This has happened to me more than I care to admit! For that reason, I recommend taking some pictures at f/5.6 even if you’re pretty sure you nailed the shot at f/4.

And by all means, go wider, too. Just be aware that, as the number of people increases, you are far less likely to get everyone in focus.

husband and wife
Nikon D750 | Nikon 85mm f/1.8 | 1/250s | f/3.3 | ISO 500. I opened up the aperture after getting several great shots at f/4, and I ended up with some beautiful images.

The best aperture for large group photos

The larger the group, the smaller the aperture, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Smaller apertures mean less light enters the lens, so you have to use slower shutter speeds and/or higher ISO values.

Plus, shrinking the aperture keeps the background sharp – so you won’t get the creamy background that many clients love.

Therefore, f/5.6 is a great place to start when dealing with large groups.

Best Aperture for Portraits family walking
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 130mm | 1/180s | f/5.6 | ISO 1100

There are exceptions to this guideline. You can use a wider aperture if you’re able to get everyone positioned (somewhat) in alignment.

Of course, this isn’t always possible, especially when kids are involved, since they tend to be somewhat less predictable. But if you have the option, it’s worth trying larger apertures.

That is, as long as you’ve already captured some small-aperture photos to make sure your bases are covered!

Best Aperture for Portraits family standing
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/180s | f/4 | ISO 1250

When doing large group shots, you are usually standing much farther away, so depth of field isn’t as much of an issue compared to single-person portraits.

You still have to be careful when using wide apertures, but sometimes you simply need to let in a lot of light and a wide aperture is the best option.

When shooting the image below, I was losing daylight as a light drizzle came on. I lined everyone up on my homemade photo benches and shot this picture at f/4.

family sitting
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/500s | f/4 | ISO 2200

After getting a couple of shots at f/4 and f/5.6, I went all the way down to f/2.8. The result is okay, but the adults in the back row are just a bit out of focus. The image isn’t worthy of printing; let it serve as a cautionary tale about the importance of using smaller apertures like f/5.6 for large groups.

family sitting
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/400s | f/2.8 | ISO 1100

The best aperture for close-up portraits

Doing extreme close-up portraits, whether with macro lenses or close-up filters, can be exceedingly tricky.


Because the depth of field is incredibly thin. Wider apertures further increase this issue, so it’s best to shoot in well-lit conditions and use a small aperture like f/5.6.

child closeup
Nikon D750 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8 with a close-up filter | 1/90s | f/5.6 | ISO 6400

Wide apertures can work fine when doing macro photography with still subjects, but people (especially young children) move around so much that it helps to have some depth of field breathing room.

baby closeup
Nikon D750 | Nikon 50mm f/1.8 with a close-up filter | 1/180s | f/5.6 | ISO 6400

The best aperture for portraits: Final words

Choosing the best aperture for portraits isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of experience and practice.

I recommend starting with the advice I’ve laid out here, but don’t be afraid to tweak it to suit your own style.

For example, you can’t go wrong shooting single-person portraits at f/2.8 – but over time, you may decide you prefer going much wider.

Or perhaps your clients like the look of smaller apertures with more depth of field. The choice is yours, and as long as you like the results, then there’s no bad option!

husband wife portrait
Nikon D750 | Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 | 200mm | 1/500s | f/2.8 | ISO 800
Q: Is f/2.8 enough for portraits?

A: Certainly! Many lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and this is a great middle ground for letting in enough light while still keeping the depth of field under control.

Q: I only have a kit lens. Can I use it for portraits?

A: Kit lenses work just fine for portraits, though they typically don’t have apertures that go as wide as prime lenses. I recommend zooming in as far as your kit lens will go and using your maximum aperture, even though it might only be f/5.6. This will blur the background as much as possible.

Q: Can I shoot large group portraits with very wide apertures?

A: Yes, but make sure everyone is lined up so your depth of field is under control. I shot this group photo at f/2, and it only worked because everyone was in a straight line:What's the Best Aperture for Portraits?

Q: I want to use a very wide aperture in bright sunlight, but my photos always turn out overexposed. How can I prevent this?

A: You’ll either need a very fast shutter speed or an ND filter.

Q: Do I need to get an expensive f/1.4 lens to shoot portraits?

A: Absolutely not! F/1.8 prime lenses are outstanding for portraits and won’t break the bank. Canon and Nikon make affordable 50mm f/1.8 lenses, and many other manufacturers have relatively inexpensive options, as well. Don’t ever fall into the trap of thinking you have to spend thousands of dollars to get great portraits!

Q: My camera has a Portrait mode. Should I use that for portrait photography?

A: You can, though I recommend using Aperture Priority mode; it lets you select the exact aperture you want to use. Portrait mode tries to make decisions based on available light and can give you apertures that are wider or narrower than what you might want.

The post What’s the Best Aperture for Portraits? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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Sony a7S II vs a7S III: What’s new and why it matters

13 Nov


The five-year gap between the launch of the a7S II and the announcement of the a7S III had some people wondering whether Sony had given up on the idea of a video-focused a7 model. The enhanced video capability of the core a7 line made that seem plausible (the a7 III does many of the things the a7S II did).

But the Mark III is here and it represents more than just a Mark II brought up to competitive spec. Instead it’s the most serious video camera the Sony Alpha range has ever seen and makes the older camera look rather basic, by comparison.

More frame-rate flexibility

The biggest changes come in terms of video spec, as you might expect. The a7S II could shoot UHD 4K at up to 30p and the highest-quality setting captured 8-bit 4:2:0 footage at up to 100Mbps in the X AVCS format. It’s fair to say the a7S III goes a little beyond this.

In terms of frame rates, the a7S III can shoot 4K at up to 60p using the full width of its sensor or at up to 120p if you accept a very slight crop down to a native 3840 x 2160 region of the sensor. Its thermal management has been significantly re-worked to ensure that these capabilities don’t come at the cost of reliability: Sony says it should be able to shoot over an hour of 10-bit 4K/60 footage.

High bit depth/bitrate video

The a7S III also gains 10-bit, 4:2:2 internal capture for the first time, which means its Log footage is much more flexible in the edit and has better color resolution than the 8-bit 4:2:0 capture of the a7S II.

There are also many additional format options on the newer camera. In addition to XAVC S footage, the a7S III can capture video in the H.265-based XAVC HS format (which uses more efficient compression to offer higher quality at the same bitrates). This pushes the burden of decompression onto your computer, but if this is too demanding on your editing machine, the Mark III can shoot All-I footage in the XAVC S-I format. This is less compressed so means bigger files but less processing work for less powerful computers. It’s possible to capture All-I footage at up to 120p if you use the camera’s slow-mo function to reduce the frame rate to 30p or 24p and, therefore, the write-speed to a more reasonable level.

If you need still-more flexibility in your footage, the a7S III can output a Raw stream to an external recorder, over its full-size HDMI socket. The a7S III allows for full-frame (4264×2408) 16-bit RAW output (up to 60p) with a choice of color space; while also recording supported formats internally.

The Mark III also records the information from its gyro sensors, which can be used for applying more effective shake correction when post-processing.


Another major change in the a7S III is the adoption of on-sensor phase detection autofocus. This is far more useful for video than the contrast detection autofocus used by the Mark II, which inevitably involves racking focus back and forth while recording, which can be visually distracting.

By contrast, the a7S III uses the latest AI-trained phase detection system that can identify and track eyes, faces, heads and bodies of humans, making it generally very reliable when it comes to staying focused on a subject, even if they look away from the camera. There’s also a subject tracking mode if you tap the screen to choose a subject.

That said, we have seen instances of it trying to re-focus mid-clip with static shots featuring subjects who aren’t moving. You can reduce the risk of this by setting the AF Subj Shift Sensitivity, but this makes the camera less likely to refocus if your subject is moving back and forth a little.

So, while lots of a7S users are likely to continue to manually focus their footage, the provision of decent autofocus should extend the types of use the a7S III can be put to.

Card slots

To accommodate the increased video bitrates, and to make the camera more usable, generally, the a7S III has more storage options than before.

The a7S II had a single UHS I card slot: fast enough for its ~100Mbps (12.5MB/s) max output rate, but without any redundancy or overflow capability. The a7S III has twin dual-format card slots, which can use either UHS II SD cards or CFexpress Type A media in each slot (the connection pins are on opposing sides of the slots, so SD cards need to be flipped over). This provides more shooting options and means that capture at up to ~600Mbps (75MB/s) is possible.

Menus and interface

One thing that upgraders will notice is that the a7S III features a completely re-worked menu system. The essential ordering and categorization is similar, so it shouldn’t take too much adapting to, but the arrangement is flipped 90 degrees and there are more obvious visual cues to help understand where you are in the menu structure and where the setting you’re looking to change might be.

The camera’s customizable ‘Fn’ menu remains essentially the same but can now be configured separately for stills and video modes, which wasn’t the case on the a7S II. In fact much of the menu system is now separated for stills and video, meaning that your settings for one style of shooting need not carry-over to the other. This makes switching back and forth much faster.

The Mark III also has a My Menu tab, so you can assign the settings you access most often to that tab for quick access.

Better buttons and dials

Sony’s ergonomic design has come a long way in the five years since the launch of the a7S II. The grips are better proportioned, the dials are better positioned and the buttons are easier to press.

On top of this, the a7S III gains an AF joystick and a much more prominent AF-On button, which can be used to initiate a single AF acquisition when in Manual Focus mode. Collectively, these help add up to a camera that’s quicker and more comfortable to use.

Screens and viewfinders

Sony has made a lot of the new viewfinder in the a7S III. At 9.44M dots, it’s the highest resolution viewfinder we’ve yet seen, and way beyond the 2.36M dot panel in the a7S II. On paper that’s twice the resolution in each dimension, but the camera only really makes full use of this in playback mode.

For most a7S III users, the bigger difference is likely to be the provision of a fully-articulating rear LCD screen, rather than the tilt up/down example on the older model. It’s a layout familiar to, and preferred by, many videographers.

What’s more, the a7S III finally makes comprehensive use of a touchscreen, allowing it to be used to position the AF point, navigate menus and zoom/swipe in playback mode, providing another means of operating the camera.


Another major improvement for the a7S III is the inclusion of a much larger battery than its predecessor. The a7S II is one of the last of the series to use the rather small NP-FW50 battery, whereas the a7S III uses the NP-Z100. This greatly increases the camera’s recording duration. And, while there are plenty of circumstances in which both cameras will simply be powered over their USB ports, the inclusion of a larger, higher-capacity battery means the a7S III can be used for longer as a standalone unit, making gimbal and drone work simpler, for instance.

For photography

We’ve always considered that the a7S series makes more sense for videographers than stills shooters: the ability to quickly read-out the relatively low pixel count as 4K footage sets the camera apart to a much larger degree than any difference in low light stills performance. It’s no coincidence that this model has the most comprehensive video feature set of any Alpha-series camera, so far.

Stills shooters will certainly benefit from the ergonomic and autofocus improvements of the new camera, along with the revised menus, but we wouldn’t expect the a7S III to offer a significant difference in low light stills performance at anything other than very high ISO settings, thanks to the upgraded Exmor R backside-illuminated sensor and other signal processing improvements.


It should come as no surprise that the a7S III is a much better camera than the preceding version: the general level of technology has moved a fair way forward in the past five years, particularly in terms of video. And Sony’s ergonomics have certainly progressed a long way in that time, too, with the a7S III moving things beyond any of its recent stable-mates.

But this feels like more than just a camera brought up to contemporary standards. The a7S II was a relatively minor update to the original a7S: the addition of in-body stabilization was a big deal, as was the ability to record its sensor’s output as 1:1 4K rather than the superlative 2:1 1080p of its predecessor. But it always felt like a dependable, but unambitious camera, and its core capabilities were added to mainstream a7-series models within a matter of years.

By contrast, it’s hard to imagine 10-bit capture, 4K 120p, 16-bit Raw video output being extended out across the a7 range so readily, simply because non-videographers don’t necessarily need them. Rather than being a basic video tool whose appeal was its large sensor, the a7S III feels like a much more complete compact video production camera, making it a much more credible rival to the likes of Panasonic’s S1H.

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Canon EOS R5 vs. R6: What’s the difference?

13 Jul


Canon’s EOS R5 and R6 are designed to act as mirrorless versions of the hugely popular EOS 5D and EOS 6D series of DSLRs. The relationship is very similar, with the R5 offering list of capabilities that will appeal to a variety of professional as well as enthusiast photographers.

But the R6 offers a strong feature set in its own right. We thought it’d be helpful to delve into the differences, to see just what you gain and give up by choosing between the two.


The most obvious difference between the two camera is resolution. The R5 is based around a new 45 megapixel sensor, meaning it offers more than enough resolution for all but the most demanding of tasks. We’ve not had a chance to test the sensor fully yet, but there’s no question that it delivers in terms of detail. We’ll know more about things like dynamic range once we have full Raw support, but the last generations of Canon sensor have done well in this regard.

The R6, meanwhile, is based around a 20MP sensor, said to be closely-related to the one in the 1D X III. It’s a chip we saw perform well when we tested that camera, and we suspect Canon chose to use it here to let the R6 keep up with the R5’s burst shooting speeds. 20MP is sufficient for a wide range of photography, but it may be a deciding factor if you shoot for print publication or demanding clients.

Both cameras include anti-aliasing filters. And, while these have somewhat fallen out of favor as pixel counts have risen and the need for them has been reduced, Canon still clearly believes they have a valuable role to play. Whether it’s their faith in the sharpness in the new RF lens designs, or experience with providing tools to wedding photographers who can’t risk moiré creeping into critical images,

In-body image stabilization

Despite the price difference, both cameras are said to have the same image stabilization system, rated at up to 8EV, depending on the lens it’s used with.

It’s a five-axis sensor-shift system that works collaboratively with the IS system in RF lenses. Canon says the unprecedentedly high rating is achieved by the in-body and in-lens systems constantly communicating with one-another.

Canon hasn’t commented (and we’ve not yet had time to test) how well the IS systems work with EF lenses, that don’t have the greater communication bandwidth of the RF mount.

Continuous shooting

Another specification common to the two cameras is their continuous shooting rate. Both cameras can shoot at 12 fps with their mechanical shutters or 20 fps in e-shutter modes.

The R5’s higher pixel count makes this harder to maintain. At 20 fps, it’ll write at least 84 Raws + Large/Fine JPEG files to a CFexpress card, a number that increases to 170 shots if you just shoot JPEG. In 12 fps mode you’ll get 90 Raw + Large/Fine HEIFs, 160 Raws with JPEGS and 180 Raw files. Moving to C-Raw boosts most of these numbers by around 50%. HEIF and JPEG figures are similar whether you use CFexpress or a UHS-II card, but Raw shooting definitely benefits from the faster card format.

The R6’s most limited burst with a fast UHS-II card is 140 Raw + Large/Fine HEIF files. Move to Raw+JPEG and it increases to 160 shots in a burst, or 240 if you just shoot Raw. If you move across to C-Raw the numbers more than double, and shooting C-Raw, HEIF or JPEG only will see you get over 1000 shots in a go. Not shabby for the more basic model.

Viewfinder and screens

One area in which Canon has decided to differentiate between the two models is display resolution. The R5, commensurate with its higher price tag, has the latest 5.76M dot OLED EVF, paired with a 2.1M dot rear LCD. The R6 has a 3.68M dot EVF and slightly smaller 3.0″ 1.68M dot LCD.

However, it’s noticeable that both use the same viewfinder optics to give a solid 0.76x magnification and 23mm eye-point. And both viewfinders can be run at 120Hz for a more OVF-like shooting experience.

We’ve seen some criticism of this decision, but the 3.68M dot panel in the R6 is still very good. It’s comparable to the one in the Nikon Z6 and higher resolution than the viewfinder in the Sony a7 III. Only the Panasonic S1 (which shares the R6’s launch price) gets a 5.76M dot display in this class, so it’s up to you to decide whether foregoing the best available finder is a fair trade-off for the areas in which the R6 out-specs the Panasonic.


Video is one of the biggest areas of difference. The R5’s sensor is designed to shoot 8K video at up to 30p (though this can also be output as perfectly 2:1 oversampled 4K footage, if that makes more sense for your workflow). It also includes the option to internally record Raw video, which means 8K to avoid the need for sub-sampling or cropping. It can also shoot 4K/120p from the full width of the sensor, but this doesn’t use all the available pixels, so is likely to be less detailed.

The R6, meanwhile, shoots 4K footage at up to 60p. It uses what is effectively a 16:9 crop from what would be a full-width DCI capture, which means it’s slightly cropped-in (it’s a 1.07x crop). But again it benefits from the same impressive stabilization capabilities.

Canon hasn’t withheld any video tools from R6 users: both cameras have headphone and mic sockets and offer both focus peaking and zebra exposure indicators. Like the R5, the R6 can capture C-Log or HDR PQ video as 10-bit 4:2:2 H.265 files and has view assist modes for both.


There are major differences to the video-shooting experience, though: the R5 offers a full range of video exposure modes, including Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Custom modes, whereas the R6 only shoots in Program or full Manual mode. That said, the R6 does let you use Auto ISO in manual mode and lets you adjust the aperture in 1/8th EV steps, so you can get a decent degree of control or automation, if you need it.

Beyond the resolution differences and Raw capture, Canon has clearly decided that the wider DCI aspect ratio and All-I encoding are higher-end requirements, so they’re only available on the R5.


The bodies look similar at first glance but the differences stack up the closer you look at them.

The most visible difference is that the R5 has a top-plate settings display, whereas the R6 has a conventional exposure mode dial. The R5 has a full-size ‘N3’ three-pin screw-in remote release socket on its front plate, whereas the R6 has a simpler ‘E3’ three-pole 2.5mm headphone-style connector as one of the ports on the camera’s left flank. On the R5 that space is taken up with a flash sync port.

The construction of the two cameras is different, too. Both have primarily metal construction with a polycarbonate rear plate, but the components themselves are different. The R5’s body is slightly more angular in places and the camera as a whole is heavier than the R6. Canon says the R5 is sealed in a way that’s up to the standards of the 5D series of DSLRs, while the R6’s weather-proofing is a match for the 6D cameras.


Autofocus is another area in which the two cameras are essentially matched. Both have the latest iteration of Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system, with 100% coverage both horizontally and vertically across the frame.

Both use AF systems which have been trained by machine learning. This provides the subject recognition capabilities that underpin their Human and Animal detection modes. The snappily titled ‘EOS iTR AF X’ system can detect human eyes, faces and heads, and the eyes, faces and bodies of animals including cats, dogs and birds. You can tell the camera whether to prioritize focus on humans or animals (or show no preference) and it will maintain focus on the subject, even if a person looks away, and switching from body-AF to eye-AF as an animal gets closer.

The R6’s AF is rated as working in light as low a -6.5EV when used with an F1.2 lens, or -5EV in video mode. The R5 is rated down to -6EV in stills and -4EV in video, again with an F1.2 lens attached.

Battery life

The different internals have an impact on the cameras’ respective battery life figures. Both share the latest 16Wh LP-E6NH battery and can use older LP-E6-type batteries if you have them.

The R5 is rated at 320 shots per charge through the viewfinder and 490 shots using the LCD, in default mode. Shifting to the higher refresh rate mode sees these drop by around 30% to 220 and 320 shots, respectively.

The R6 posts slightly better results: 380 shots per charge using the viewfinder in standard mode and 510 via the LCD. Again there’s about a 30% reduction if you engage the faster viewfinder mode, with the endurance dropping to 250 and 350 shots per charge for the EVF and LCD.

Both cameras can be recharged if you have a high-current USB-C charger or power bank.


The R5’s 8K video and 45MP stills produce a lot more data than the R6, so Canon has equipped the camera with a CFexpress slot, in addition to a UHS-II SD card slot. As we’ve seen, the SD card slot can’t clear the buffer as fast during burst shooting, and can only record IPB-encoded 8K video, so it’s worth buying some CFexpress cards if you need to make full use of the R5’s capabilities.

The R6’s lower pixel count means a fast UHS-II card is sufficient for both stills and video. The use of the SD format not only means you’re more likely to already own some compatible memory cards, but also that you can fill your pockets with a single card type, if you ever expect to fill both.


Both cameras have built-in Wi-Fi for transferring video and stills, either to a smart device, a computer or even over FTP. The R5 has both 2.4 and 5GHz radios, while the R6 is only compatible with the slower (and often more congested) 2.4GHz networks.

Both cameras let you separately select which files to transfer when you’re shooting Raw + JPEG and Raw + HEIF, so you can set it to upload just the JPEGs for standard DR images but upload the Raws for when you’re shooting HDR PQ HEIFs, for instance.

As well as the difference in frequency bands the cameras can communicate over, it’s also only the R5 that can be used with the WFT-R10A wireless grip accessory. This adds more powerful Wi-Fi transmission and has an Ethernet connection for dependable fast file transfer.

Dual Pixel Raw

One notable R5-only feature is Dual Pixel Raw. This separately retains data from both halves of the pixel, meaning that it’s possible to reconstruct some depth information about the scene, even after the photo has been taken.

This opens up various processing options, both in-camera and when using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software. DPP already offers a focus-shift feature but the new camera adds the internal options ‘Portrait Relighting’ which selectively brightens parts of the image, based on depth and face recognition data. There’s also a Background Clarity option that we haven’t yet had a chance to use.


And there you have it. Other than the resolution differences, the R6 has a lot in common with the more expensive R5. Of course there’s a price to be paid for the R5’s extras: specifically a recommended retail price of $ 3899, compared to the R6’s $ 2499.

Which camera interests you more is likely to depend a lot on what kinds of photos you take and how you plan to use the video. But we hope we’ve teased-out enough of the differences to help you understand whether there are any unexpected differences or omissions you might have overlooked.

If you are about to reach for your credit card, there might be one more factor to consider: the R5 is available in late July, whereas you have to wait until late August for the R6.

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Is the Sony ZV-1 the best vlogging camera, and what’s it like for photography?

07 Jun

For vlogging, and beyond?

The Sony DC-ZV-1 is an interesting camera. It re-arranges some familiar components into a camera explicitly designed with vloggers in mind.

However, while it’s not part of the RX100 series (or even part of the Cyber-shot lineup), enough of its technology comes from those cameras that we think some people will at least consider it as a stills camera.

We’re going to look at how the ZV-1 stacks up against the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V (specifically the ‘M5A’ variant), first as tools for vlogging and then as compact stills cameras.

For vlogging vs. Canon G7 X III

We’ve already detailed the vlogging-specific features that the ZV-1 offers, and many of these give it a clear advantage over the Canon G7 X III, when it comes to shooting facing-the-camera video.

Underpinning most of the ZV-1’s benefits over the G7 X III is its autofocus system. Part of this is the inclusion of phase detection elements, meaning the camera can assess depth before refocusing the lens (which is critical for keeping video in focus, without too much hunting), but also Sony’s AF algorithms, which have got very, very good at both subject tracking and face / body recognition. There are other features that distinguish between the two cameras but dependable autofocus is perhaps the most compelling.

Beyond that, the ZV-1’s other key benefit is its vlogging-friendly microphone setup. The three-capsule mic is designed specifically to pick up the sounds of someone addressing the camera. The results are much better than the G7 X III.

For vlogging vs. Canon G7 X III

The ZV-1’s fully articulated screen is also likely to be preferable to the G7 X III’s flip-up screen for most vloggers. The ZV-1’s screen doesn’t extend totally to be totally in-line with the camera body (it’s angled 4 degrees back, even when fully pulled forward), but that’s not a difference likely to have any real-world impact.

Both cameras shoot 4K in both 30p or 24p (or 25p in PAL regions), should you decide your vlog would benefit from a more cinematic look.

In terms of endurance, Canon says it expects the G7 X III to record 4K footage for up to 10 minutes per clip, whereas the ZV-1 by default stops after 5. However, disengaging the overheat warnings on the Sony removes this restriction.

For vlogging vs. Canon G7 X III

The G7 X III can broadcast straight to YouTube if it’s connected to a wireless network (including your phone, if it can operate as a hotspot). However, the utility of this feature is a little questionable. For a start, how often will you be trying to vlog from a situation where you have Wi-Fi but can’t connect your camera to a computer and use either camera? But, more pressingly for most of us, YouTube only allows live streaming from mobile devices (including the G7 X III) if you have 1000+ people following you on your account.

This isn’t a big hurdle if you’re already established to any degree, but it reduces the value of the feature if you’re trying to choose a camera to start vlogging with. If you’re looking for a device to start an empire from, both can livestream if you connect them to a computer (though the ZV-1 is only promising Microsoft Windows support at the moment).

Both can directly Wi-Fi their video footage to a smartphone, for anything you’ve pre-recorded, in FullHD or 4K.

For vlogging vs. the iPhone

Another rival device for vlogging is a good smartphone, not least because there’s a chance that most of us already have one.

In their recent video, DPRTV’s Chris and Jordan used an older iPhone XR to shoot some footage alongside the Sony. Its lens offers a similarly wide angle-of-view to the Sony, while the iPhone 11 goes wider. The selfie camera on the iPhone 11 has focus fixed in a way that covers vlogging distances, but has no way to imitate Sony’s ‘Product Showcase’ AF mode if you want to focus on something nearer to the camera.

As Chris discovered when testing the two side-by-side, the iPhone appears to be rather better at stabilizing its footage than the ZV-1. And, for all Sony’s talk about improved skintones, the iPhone version looks pretty good, to our eyes.

Ultimately, while Sony appears to have more money than most camera companies to develop technologies such as machine-learning-derived AF systems, it seems to be some way behind Apple, which has been working hard to apply processing power and extreme cleverness to the output of its phones for several generations. The iPhone’s exposure and processing, while perhaps edging towards over-tone-mapped ‘bad HDR’ territory, generally looks really good. You’d have to shoot Log or HLG and color grade the ZV-1’s footage to get a comparable result.

The larger sensor of the ZV-1 should give it an edge when it comes to indoor video and, of course, it can provide a shallower depth-of-field look (which phones don’t yet even attempt to simulate in video mode) but is that enough to counteract the convenience offered by an internet-connected smartphone?

For stills vs. RX100 VA

The ZV-1 isn’t supposed to be a stills camera, in the sense that Sony isn’t particularly promoting it that way. But it shares enough with the RX100-series that we’d expect at least some people to see it as a means of getting something like a viewfinderless RX100 V without having to forego multiple generations of improvements by opting for the RX100 II.

Instead, in many respects the ZV-1 could be seen as an RX100 V without a viewfinder but with all the updates of the RX100 VII (including things like a touchscreen, that weren’t added in the M5A revision to the RX100 V). These updates include what Sony calls ‘Real-time Tracking’ and ‘Real-time AF,’ which refer the the camera’s ability to track a subject, switch to face or eye AF if that subject is a person, and continue to track them even if they face away from the camera.

The RX100 VA’s AF system is recognizably older: Tracking isn’t as sophisticated, eye AF requires you hold down a custom button to activate it and there’s a separate (and even less good) tracking system in video mode.

So what else do you gain or lose?

For stills vs. RX100 VA

As you’d expect, the ZV-1 omits a number of features that we’d expect from an RX100-series camera. There’s no EVF, no built-in flash and no control ring around the lens. There’s also no exposure mode dial (it’s replaced by a Mode button).

But in their place you get a more prominent grip to hold the camera with and a flash hotshoe if you want to attach an external flash or other accessories. And, as we say, you get another feature that the RX100 V was missing: a touchscreen.

The more prominent [REC] button on the top of the ZV-1 allows the removal of the tiny version set into the thumb rest of the RX100 V. Neither camera lets you re-purpose this button if you’re really not interested in video.

The control ring around the lens, the built-in flash and the EVF all mean the RX100 V is a better stills camera if you’re an experienced photographer, want flexibility and some direct control, but with its touchscreen and superior AF system, the ZV-1 might be the better point-and-shoot.

For stills vs. Canon G7 X III

We’ve already seen that the ZV-1’s autofocus and mics give it a clear benefit over the Canon G7 X III as a vlogging camera. But given they’re similarly priced and are both 1″ sensor compacts with short, bright lenses and no viewfinder, it’s probably fair to see how they stack up on the stills side of things.

The ZV-1’s autofocus benefits continue to shine in this situation, as does its lens, which is significantly sharper, particularly at the wide-angle end. However, the G7 X III’s 24-100mm range is appreciably longer than the 24-70-ish equiv reach of the Sony.

The Canon also has a dedicated exposure compensation dial, a clicking control ring around the lens and a built-in flash, which help make it a more engaging camera to use, if you wish to take control over your photography. We also found the grip – designed solely for holding the camera facing away from you – more comfortable than the one on the ZV-1.


The ZV-1 promises to be a more capable vlogging camera than any other we’ve seen. Its generally excellent (and, crucially, dependable) autofocus is a huge part of this, and features such as product showcase mode have clearly been carefully developed to make this capability as easy to exploit as possible.

But building the ZV-1 primarily from existing RX100 components does appear to have limited the camera, somewhat. The 24mm-equiv wide-angle capability (26mm equiv by the time the slight crop of the 4K video mode has been factored-in), isn’t as wide as some users prefer for to-the-camera presenting, especially if you then need to engage the camera’s digital stabilization, which crops-in still further.

Similarly, while the G7 X III doesn’t offer any audio monitoring, either, it does seem odd that Sony hasn’t gone to the effort of providing a means to do so, either via USB or Bluetooth. Instead it’s limited to capabilities we’ve seen in existing RX100 models.

But, for all that, the Sony ZV-1 is the most overtly vlogging-focused camera on the market. In addition, although it’s not intended, we think it might also be a better point-and-shoot camera than the RX100 V. The more prominent grip, the touchscreen and the removal of the control ring may also make it a better (and less expensive) family camera.

For vlogging though, we suspect that the ZV-1’s biggest rival will be high-end smartphones, which offer a lot of capability without the need to buy a separate device.

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DPReview TV: What’s in Jordan’s camera bag?

04 Jun

DPReview TV host Jordan Drake schleps around a lot of camera equipment. In this video he shows us what gear he carries in his ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2 camera bag to make the magic happen.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Introduction
  • Jordan's bag
  • Camera and lens
  • Headphones
  • Filters
  • Off-camera recorder
  • Microphones
  • Microphone accessories
  • Color Checker card
  • Grip equipment
  • Cleaning products
  • Camera support
  • Jordan's drink of choice

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RAW vs DNG: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter?

08 Feb

The post RAW vs DNG: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.


As a photographer, you have no doubt heard people talk about file formats, specifically RAW and JPG. Some people shoot only in RAW, others like JPG, and many photographers use both. Each format has benefits and drawbacks, but if you want the most amount of control over your pictures, you probably shoot in RAW. However, there is a third option you might not even know about: Digital Negative, or DNG. With this other format in the mix, the issue isn’t so much RAW vs JPG, but RAW vs DNG.

Image: DNGs can speed up your Lightroom workflow, but there are some tradeoffs to be aware of.

DNGs can speed up your Lightroom workflow, but there are some tradeoffs to be aware of.

Understanding RAW

RAW files, unlike JPG files, store all of the light and color data used to capture an image. That means you can recapture blown-out highlights, make better white balance corrections, and have a great deal of editing freedom you don’t get with JPG.

Nikon, Canon, Sony, and others all let photographers shoot in RAW, but each of their RAW files is different. For example, the file extension for a Nikon RAW file is NEF, Canon is CRW, and Sony uses ARW.

As a result of this, cameras from these manufacturers process and store RAW data a little differently. Third-party editing software has to interpolate and reverse-engineer the method used to create the RAW files.

This is great for camera makers because they can tweak their hardware and software to work really well with their own RAW formats. However, it’s not always the best for photographers and editors.

Image: RAW and DNG files give you plenty of editing room that JPG does not offer. Nikon D500, 85mm,...

RAW and DNG files give you plenty of editing room that JPG does not offer. Nikon D500, 85mm, f/1.8, 1/4000 second, ISO 100

Digital Negative

Adobe developed the Digital Negative (DNG) format in 2004 as an open-source alternative to the proprietary RAW formats that most camera manufacturers used.

What Adobe did was essentially level the playing field by giving everyone access to the same format for working with RAW files.

DNG is open-source, which means anyone can use it without paying licensing fees. A few manufacturers like Pentax and Leica support DNG natively. However, for everyone else, there are easy ways to convert RAW files to DNG and get all the benefits of the latter without the hassles of the former.

DNG is particularly useful if you use Adobe products, like Lightroom and Photoshop, but other editing software support it too.


The photo information in each file is identical, but there might be some reasons to choose one over the other.

When looking at the RAW vs DNG issue, there are some important benefits as well as drawbacks that you might want to consider before you switch.

However, please don’t look at this as a matter of which format is better.

Neither RAW nor DNG is objectively superior; both have advantages and disadvantages. The point is to give you enough information to make an informed choice about which format works for you.

DNG benefits

1. Faster workflow

The main reason many people use DNG files is related to editing efficiency when using Lightroom. Since DNG and Lightroom are both made by Adobe, it stands to reason that they would work well together.

If you have ever found doing some simple operations with RAW files in Lightroom frustrating, like switching photos or zooming in to check focus, you will be shocked at how fast things like this are when using DNG files.

Switching from RAW to DNG has made a huge difference for me in speeding up my Lightroom workflow.

Image: Nikon D750, 40mm, f/1.4, ISO 360, 1/180 second.

Nikon D750, 40mm, f/1.4, ISO 360, 1/180 second.

2. Smaller file sizes

File size is another area where DNG has an edge in the RAW vs DNG debate. Although, it might not be quite as important now with storage so cheap compared to ten or twenty years ago.

DNG files are typically about 20% smaller than a RAW file, which means you can store more of them on your computer. If you are limited in storage space, DNG just might be a good option for you.

Image: I converted a folder of RAW files to DNG. Both contain the exact same data for each photo, bu...

I converted a folder of RAW files to DNG. Both contain the exact same data for each photo, but the DNGs are much smaller. The entire folder of RAW files is 1.75GB, whereas the folder of DNG files is 1.5GB.

3. Wide support

Because DNG doesn’t require a proprietary decoding algorithm, like RAW files from major manufacturers do, there is wider support from a variety of editing software. Various archival organizations, such as the Library of Congress, even use this format. That means it should work just fine for most photographers too. Personally, knowing this helped settle the RAW vs DNG debate for me, but you might prefer another solution.

4. Wide support

One additional benefit of DNG has to do with editing metadata and how it is stored. Lightroom is non-destructive, meaning that any changes you make to an image, you can alter at any point in the future. The original file remains untouched, and a record of your edits is stored separately.

When working with RAW files, these edits are written to a very small file called a sidecar. However, if you use DNG, all your edits are stored in the DNG file itself. Most people consider this an advantage since it requires fewer files to store and manage, but it can be a drawback which I explore later in this article.


Nikon D750, 40mm, f/1.4, ISO 1000, 1/3000 second

DNG Drawbacks

1. File conversion

Since most cameras don’t natively shoot in DNG format, you need to convert your RAW files if you want to use it.

Lightroom can do this automatically for you when importing, but it does come with a drawback that may be significant. Depending on the speed of your computer and the number of RAW files you import, the conversion to DNG can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

This could be problematic for some people in high-speed workflows such as sports and other action photography. Personally, I don’t mind. I just do the import/convert operation before dinner or at another time when I don’t need to start editing immediately.

I like to think of this initial conversion time as the culmination of all the seconds I used to spend waiting for RAW files to render, but all rolled into one lump sum. It’s a tradeoff I’m happy to make, but some people might find this a dealbreaker and stick with traditional RAW formats.

Image: Converting lots of RAW files to DNG can take a great deal of time. And this is time that some...

Converting lots of RAW files to DNG can take a great deal of time. And this is time that some photographers don’t have.

2. RAW metadata loss

Another drawback to the DNG format is that some of the RAW metadata gets lost during conversion. All the usual metadata you would expect is intact such as exposure, camera information, focal length, and more. But some information like GPS data, copyright information, and exact focus point don’t always transfer over.

Additionally, the built-in JPG preview gets discarded in favor of a smaller preview, which is another trick Adobe uses to bring down the size of DNG files.

Whether this information matters is up to you. Personally, I find none of the lost metadata a dealbreaker.

3. Multiple editors

One other issue you might want to consider is whether your workflow involves having multiple editors work on the same RAW file.

If that’s the case, then the lack of a sidecar file could be problematic. Essentially, the sidecar acts as a storage locker for all your edits. The RAW file is untouched, but the sidecar stores a record of your edits. This means that if you have two people working on the same RAW file, you can share your edits just by copying the sidecar files.


Edits to RAW images get stored as sidecar files. You can send these sidecar files to other editors to share your RAW edits (as long as they have the original RAW files).

If you use DNG, you have to share the entire DNG files, which can be problematic compared to the ease of copying a tiny sidecar file.

For most people, this probably won’t matter, but for those who work in editing rooms or production houses that rely on sidecar files to store edits, DNG might not be the best option.

Finally, if you research this issue long enough, you will hear some trepidation about the longevity of DNG since the biggest camera makers, like Canon, Nikon, and Sony, do not officially support it. Personally, I’m not too worried about this since DNG is a widely-adopted industry standard, and if it’s good enough for the Library of Congress, then it’s good enough for me.

How to use DNG

If you want to give DNG a try, you can start by converting some of your existing RAW files. In your Lightroom Library module, select the RAW files you want to convert and then choose Photo->Convert Photo to DNG.


I recommend checking the values you see here, though if you are ready to go all-in, you can also select the option to delete originals. The “Embed Fast Load Data” option is what really speeds things up in Lightroom.

Un-check the option to use lossy compression if you want to retain all the data from the RAW file instead of having Lightroom toss out some in favor of a smaller file size. Also, you don’t need to embed the RAW file since doing so will more than double the file size of your DNG.
Another option is to use the Copy as DNG setting when importing photos from your memory card. This will add a great deal of time during the import process since Lightroom converts every one of your RAW files to DNG.

However, for me, the tradeoff is worth it since DNGs are so much faster to work with in Lightroom compared to traditional RAW files.



As with many aspects of photography, the answer here isn’t black and white, and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The question of RAW vs DNG isn’t about which format is better, but which format suits your needs.

There is no data loss when working with DNGs, but there are some issues compared to RAW files, and it’s important that you make an informed choice.

If you have experience working with DNG files and would like to share your thoughts, I would love to have them in the comments below!

The post RAW vs DNG: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Simon Ringsmuth.

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Our Fujifilm X-Pro3 initial review: What’s new, how it compares

23 Oct

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is a 26 megapixel mirrorless interchangeable lens camera built around a clever optical / electronic viewfinder and designed to look like a classic rangefinder.

This, the third iteration of Fujifilm’s first X-mount camera gains titanium top and base plates but the most noteworthy feature is an LCD panel that faces the back of the camera and needs to be flipped down to use it. The viewfinder and rear screen are the main distinctions between this and the similarly-specced X-T3.

A low-resolution status panel on the back of the camera speaks to the underlying ethos of the camera, which we’ll look into in more detail on the next page.

Key Specifications

  • 26MP APS-C BSI CMOS sensor
  • Optical/Electronic hybrid viewfinder
  • Fold down rear LCD
  • Rear-facing Memory LCD status panel
  • Titanium top/bottom plates
  • 4K video at up to 30p, 200Mbps
  • 11 Film Simulation modes, now with ‘Classic Neg’

The X-Pro3 will be available in a painted black version for $ 1799 or variants with a silver or black hardened, coated surface for $ 1999.

What’s new and how it compares

The X-Pro3 looks a lot like its predecessors except for one major change.

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Body and controls

A new titanium top plate, rear ‘sub monitor’ and hidden flip-out LCD round out the major body updates.

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First impressions

Photo editor Dan Bracaglia took a pre-production X-Pro3 on holiday to Northern California. Here are his thoughts on the hidden rear screen.

Read more

Sample gallery

The X-Pro3 gains the ‘Classic Negative’ film stimulation. Check out examples of it and more in our hardy samples gallery.

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Nikon Z50 initial review: What’s new, how it compares

11 Oct

The Nikon Z50 is a 20MP mirrorless camera: the first time the company has put an (unstabilized) APS-C sensor behind its new, larger ‘Z’ lens mount. The company says the camera is designed to attract a generation of users who don’t consider themselves to be photographers.

Alongside the camera, Nikon has announced two lenses designed for this sensor size: a 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 collapsible standard zoom and a 50-250mm F4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom – both with built-in image stabilization (which Nikon calls Vibration Reduction).

Key specifications

  • 20.7MP CMOS sensor
  • Twin control dial interface
  • Up to 11 fps shooting with AE/AF, 5 fps with live view
  • 4K video at up to 30p
  • 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder
  • Rear touchscreen tilts up by 90° or down by 180°
  • Bluetooth-enabled Wi-Fi (via Snapbridge app)
  • Creative Picture Control effects

Correction: The original version of this article stated the 4K video would be cropped. We are told this won’t be the case on production cameras.

The Z50 will be available for sale from November, with an MSRP of $ 860, body-only. Adding the 16-50mm zoom takes the price to $ 1000 and a two-lens kit with both DX zooms takes the list price to $ 1350.

The Z50 is compatible with the FTZ mount adapter, allowing it to use F-mount DSLR lenses. The adapter is not included in any of the kits announced so far.

What’s new and how it compares

The Z50 is Nikon’s first APS-C mirrorless camera. We take a look at what it offers and how it squares up to its rivals.

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Body and controls

We take a look at the new camera and how it operates.

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First Impressions / Shooting Experience

Reviews editor Carey Rose spent a couple of hours shooting with a near-final Nikon Z50.

Read more

Sample Gallery

We’ve shot a series of images using a pre-production Nikon Z50 with a variety of lenses.

View gallery

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iPhone 11 vs. iPhone XR: What’s the difference?

20 Sep

iPhone XR vs. iPhone 11

Let’s start with the obvious difference between the latest iPhone and the last-generation XR: the XR has a single, standard wide-angle camera. The new iPhone 11, on the other hand, has a dual camera system – one standard wide and one ultra-wide. The 11 gets an updated front-facing camera too: a 12MP sensor compared to the XR’s 7MP, and 4K/60p video versus HD video. And of course, it’s capable of the infamous ‘slofie.’

How much of a difference that extra camera makes depends on what you like to take pictures of. In our experience, having that ultra-wide lens as an option is very handy.

All images are courtesy Apple

Portrait Mode

The iPhone 11’s additional rear-facing camera also provides an advantage when shooting in Portrait Mode. It uses the slightly different perspectives of the ultra-wide and wide lenses to help create a more accurate depth map than the XR is capable of with its single camera, which only uses depth data generated from its dual pixel sensor combined with machine-learning assisted image segmentation. This should translate to better Portrait Mode images, with improved separation between subjects and their backgrounds.

Plus, the iPhone 11 is better suited for pet Portrait Mode photos like the one above, and who can resist those eyes?

Other camera features

There’s a lot more to a smartphone camera than just hardware these days, and that’s especially true of the camera in the iPhone 11. Apple has included a new Night Mode which is automatically enabled in low light levels, combining data from multiple image captures to produce a brighter more detailed image – very similar to Google’s Night Sight. The 11’s Smart HDR mode has also been improved – it’s able to identify human and pet subjects, and render them appropriately while applying different processing to the rest of the image.

And later this fall, Apple will add a Deep Fusion mode via software update. While it also uses data from multiple frames, the end result is a larger 24MP file. That’s quite useful if you’d like to make larger prints from phone images. We’ll reserve judgement until we’re able to test this feature of course, but it’s potentially a big step forward for Apple’s camera system and we’re glad to see it in this sub-$ 1000 device in addition to the flagship Pro models.

These added features are powered by a new A13 Bionic processor, one of the key hardware advantages that the 11 offers over the A12-powered XR.


The XR and 11 are identical in size and both offer a 6.1″ ‘Liquid Retina HD’ display, which is Apple-speak for ‘LCD.’ Stepping up to the 11 Pro will of course get you a nicer OLED display with better contrast and brightness, but that’s not a differentiating factor between the XR and iPhone 11. Interestingly, you’ll need to step up to the 5.8″ 11 Pro if you want a smaller phone.


The XR is rated IP67 and the 11 is IP68, meaning both are fully protected against dust, but the iPhone 11 offers better protection against moisture. Apple states that the phone can withstand up to 30 minutes in depths of up to 2 meters; the XR can safely be submerged for the same amount time in depths up to 1 meter.

If you plan on taking your phone into the pool that extra waterproofing could make a difference depending on how deep you swim. But if you’re more worried about everyday scenarios like, say, a tumble to the bottom of the toilet, then it’s safe to say both phones would survive just fine.

Battery life

The iPhone 11 offers slightly better battery life. According to Apple, it will deliver one hour of extra performance compared to the XR – up to 17 hours of non-streaming video playback vs. 16 hours, for example. If you’re a power user who watches a lot of video on your phone that hour might make a difference, but if you’re just looking for a phone that will get you through a typical day then either will likely suffice.


So who should buy the iPhone 11, and who should save the extra cash and get the XR? If photo-taking is any kind of priority, then we think the 11 is worth the extra money. Its use of more sophisticated photo processing will make a noticeable difference to photo quality, especially in low light, and an additional ultra-wide angle lens could prove a huge benefit when shooting landscapes or group photos, or in tight quarters.

The iPhone XR is still a perfectly capable camera though, with color rendering that we prefer over the Google Pixel 3. If you aren’t one to push the limits with its capabilities in low light, and you don’t need the ultra-wide lens of the 11, the XR will serve you quite well.

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Sony a7R IV initial review: What’s new and how it compares

18 Sep

The Sony a7R IV is the company’s fourth generation, high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera and is built around a 60MP BSI-CMOS sensor. Relative to previous generations, it promises more robust build quality, refined controls, the company’s latest autofocus implementation, and more.

Despite its high resolution, it can shoot at up to 10 frames per second with full autofocus and shoot 4K video either from the full width of its sensor or from an APS-C/Super 35 crop. It also gains a 16-shot high-resolution mode that can be used to generate 240MP images of static scenes.

Key takeaways

  • 60MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor
  • Powerful yet easy-to-use AF tracking system
  • 10 fps burst shooting (12-bit Raw mode)
  • 5.76M dot OLED viewfinder
  • 4K video from full sensor width (sub-sampled) or oversampled from roughly-Super35 crops
  • 4 or 16-shot high resolution modes (up to 240MP images for static subjects)
  • S-Log 2, S-Log 3 and ‘HLG’ video modes (8-bit only)

As well as an increase in resolution, the a7R Mark IV sees an increase in price: at $ 3499, it’s being launched for $ 300 more than the a7R III was.

What’s new and how it compares

The a7R IV comes with a host of refinements both inside and out – here’s where to find them.

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Body, handling and controls

From redesigned buttons to a deeper grip, the a7R IV feels substantial without weighing you down.

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Sample gallery

Check out our sample gallery to see what 60MP of resolution could do for your photography.

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