|Volume 14, Number 1||13 January 2012|
Welcome to the 323rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We take a peek at Lightroom 4 before the guys get their hands on the Nikon D4 and Canon G1 X. Onward!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/adobe-lightroom-4-beta/index.htm on the Web site.)
In the middle of a dry December, we attended an hour briefing on Lightroom 4 with Product Manager Tom Hogarty. We've been following Lightroom's development since its inception. With each revision our wish list shrinks. This time we checked off video and soft proofing, to name the two biggest new features.
But an hour later we found ourselves impressed by less glamorous enhancements like the simplified but more powerful dynamic range editing and new local adjustments.
And we were frankly delighted to see the photo book options developed in partnership with Blurb.com.
Taken together we found quite a few invaluable new features in Lightroom 4. This preview is based exclusively on the briefing but there's plenty to chew on while you're downloading the beta. Let's take a look.
Lightroom 4 enables manual GPS tagging of images simply by drag-and-dropping an image onto a map displayed within Lightroom. So you can subsequently find images not just by when they were taken but by where they were taken -- even if your camera doesn't record GPS data.
The GPS data is recorded in Lightroom's database record for the image and only written to the image's Exif header on export.
The Map module requires you to be online to access the Google Map data within Lightroom just as Lightroom 3's GPS mapping function did. But you aren't sent to your browser from Lightroom with the new version. You stay in Lightroom.
If your camera or smartphone tags images with GPS data, you can map a group of them at once, too. And Lightroom can also plot a GPS track log on a map.
You can also define a Location that you can assign to images taken within a certain area. And if you don't want to share the GPS data of a particular location, you can enforce privacy settings based on the location.
Adobe wanted to add more functionality than basic asset management to its video support, Hogarty said, so you won't have to leave Lightroom to work with your clips.
To start, the Premiere and Production Suite team ported their video rendering technology into Lightroom for this release. "So you never have to worry about fidelity," Hogarty said.
There are now non-destructive trimming controls with in and out points, JPEG frame captures and poster frame selection to identify the clip.
Still image editing has a lot of controls to tweak the image but without those controls in video, the video clip doesn't match the enhanced still. With Lightroom 4, a subset of traditional still controls in Quick Develop can be applied to the video. You can also apply a filter to a clip. Hogarty's demo of this was particularly impressive.
Sharing video is also enhanced with drag-and-drop to Facebook and Flickr exports. Export to disk has been simplified as well as expanded to include a lot of popular options. Quality, for example, ranges from Low, Medium, High to Maximum with a text description of the target values ("1920x1080, 29.970 fps, 22 Mbps" for Max, for example).
You can't include video in Lightroom 4 slide shows.
Some collections of images just cry out to be preserved in book form. But looking at a blank photo book layout can be "a daunting experience," Hogarty said. "Album design is not easy." To help kickstart the layout process, Lightroom 4 includes presets that load a filmstrip of images into a book format.
Images can easily be rearranged by swapping them and dragging them to new locations. Layout options are numerous (photos per page) to avoid the complexity of building them from scratch in InDesign. An auto layout preset can randomly pull out page layouts from a group of favorites as a starting point for a book.
Text rendering came from the Photoshop and InDesign teams just as the video technology came from the Premiere and Production Suite teams. Options for size, opacity, tracking, baseline, leading, kerning and more are available with sliders and text boxes for entry.
Formatting set in any Adobe application is maintained when pasted into the Lightroom layout.
A Document bar lets you save a "saved book" with all your layout settings so your work won't disappear when you leave the module.
To print the books, Adobe has partnered "tightly" with Blurb in San Francisco to match Lightroom layouts to their capabilities and include cost information before you click the Buy button. Blurb handles the fulfillment.
The design goal for this version was to see how easy they could make it to get the most out of your images. There's too much confusion in the controls, Hogarty said.
So they simplified them -- but made them more powerful. They divided the histogram into discrete regions: black clipping point, shadow brightness, exposure, highlight brightness and whites for the clipping point. As a result, you can easily bring out detail in the shadows while independently maintaining highlight detail just by using a slider.
The Clarity tool has also been updated to deliver midtone contrast without haloing around the edges.
To get these advantages, you use a new process version, Process Version 2012. Older process versions are respected, as in the past, but you can update an image to the latest process version automatically or manually. Presets store process versions so will need updating to take advantage of the new features.
Local Adjustments. With the new shadow detail enhancements, there's a chance noise will be enhanced in the darker areas of the image, too. So there's now a local noise adjustment control. There's also a new highlight reduction/increase local adjustment control.
In mixed lighting situations global white balance options never quite gets the job done, Horgarty said. But a local white balance adjustment control now lets you adjust the color cast of just part of an image.
There's also a moire control local adjustment to avoid patterned fabric artifacts.
Lens Corrections. Hogarty said Adobe has partnered with lens companies to provide 350 lens profiles in the current version of Lightroom. "Our progress over the last year and half has been amazing," Hogarty said.
Chromatic aberration is applied on a per-image basis after image analysis now with a Remove Chromatic Abberation checkbox. Previously the profile was used but could make things worse if there was a discrepancy between focus distance and the profile's understanding of it, for example.
Lightroom 4 provides previews based on printer profiles that highlight which colors are out of gamut (won't print accurately). That's more useful than the sort of preview you get in the Photoshop print dialog because it shows you exactly where the issues are.
You can consequently make an intelligent adjustment for that profile but Lightroom knows you are making a compromise for this particular printer so it makes a virtual copy of the image with the correction rather than modify the original edit.
Gamut isn't the only issue when printing, Hogarty noted. Overall brightness and contrast is an issue, too. Prints are darker than screen images. So Lightroom will let you apply an adjustment to the print module.
One important factor not included in the new soft proofing function is paper color, which varies quite a bit from one product to another. But any monitor display of a print equivalent is only going to be an approximation anyway. The real value of Lightroom's new soft proofing is in its gamut warnings.
Print output isn't the only thing you can soft proof, though. You can also soft proof to the sRGB color space for the Web.
Hogarty mentioned a couple of other new features worth noting:
Tips. Per module tips are now available throughout the modules to help those just getting started, explaining important aspects to a module.
Email. Select your photos, pick a preset for size and select the email service you've set up to "save a lot of clicks."
The Lightroom 4 public beta is now available on http://labs.adobe.com "for any photographer interested in providing feedback in our discussion forums," according to the company.
Whether you're running Windows or OS X, this is a great chance to try one of the most efficient and competent image editing solutions available and provide some input into its future direction.
- No ownership of Lightroom is required to use the beta for the full duration.
- Download: http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom4/
- Forum: http://forums.adobe.com/community/labs/lightroom4/
THE NEXT STEP
As a public beta, Lightroom 4 remains a work in progress. We look forward to giving it a test drive as soon as we can download it. There are a lot of features, in fact, we're anxious to put to work right away.
Of course, there are two sides to the public beta coin. The other is contributing to the product's development by participating in the Lightroom forum, contributing your feedback.
That's really how Lightroom got built in the first place and why it's developed in the direction it has. And, frankly, why it's as valuable a tool for photographers as it is.
By SHAWN BARNETT, MIKE TOMKINS, DAVE ETCHELLS and ZIG WEIDELICH(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d4/nikon-d4A.HTM with a Live Q&A transcript at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d4/nikon-d4A.HTM#live-qa on the Web site.)
Nikon's professional workhorse dSLR camera gets more than a single-digit upgrade to its model number in the new D4. Though similar in size and shape to its predecessors, the D4 now uses a 16.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with a new EXPEED 3 image processor to deliver very high dynamic range and low noise across a wide range of ISO settings.
But the improvements don't stop there. Largely eliminating the need for a flashlight in low-light situations, many of the buttons are illuminated -- a great idea for a high-end camera whose key feature is excellent performance in low light. Indeed, while standard ISO settings range from 100 to 12,800, that can be extended to 50 on the low end and 204,800 on the high side. Pretty impressive.
Other new items include a 3.2-inch LCD with VGA resolution, the ability to enlarge images up to 46x and an ambient light sensor to automatically brighten or dim the screen based on lighting conditions. The 51-point AF array improves sensitivity to -2 EV and can accommodate lenses up to f8. Video is also upgraded from the D3S's 720p to 1080p at 30fps.
Sensor. The D4 is based around a newly-developed FX-format CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 16.2 megapixels, up from the 12.1-Mp chips used in the earlier D3 and D3S models. Total resolution of the Nikon-developed sensor, which has dimensions of 36.0x23.9 millimeters, is 16.6 megapixels. The design features gapless microlenses and an anti-reflective coating and has a pixel size of 7.3 microns, down from 8.45 microns in the D3 and D3S.
In the sensor's native 3:2 aspect ratio, the D4 outputs images at resolutions up to 4928x3280 pixels. There are also two cropped 3:2 aspect ratio modes which yield an effective 1.2x or 1.5x focal length crop and a 5:4 aspect ratio mode which uses the full height of the image sensor, but trims the sides. In all modes, there are three resolution options available.
Processor. Output from the new image sensor is handled by the company's latest-generation EXPEED 3 image processor, quite a step forward from the EXPEED processors of the D3 and D3S. This allows an improvement in performance vs. the earlier models, even though sensor resolution has been increased. The D4 has a 16-bit imaging pipeline.
Sensitivity. The D4 offers a standard ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 12,800 equivalents, unchanged at the top end from the D3S but returning to the ISO 100 base sensitivity of the original D3. The ISO sensitivity range can be also extended to an impressively wide ISO 50 to 204,800 equivalents. ISO sensitivity step sizes of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV are available across the entire range from 50 to 25,600 equivalents, with 1 EV steps above this point.
The D4 also offers an Auto ISO function, which now takes into account the mounted lens type, automatically selecting higher shutter speeds when the attached lens has a longer focal length. It's possible to manually skew the Auto ISO function toward faster or slower shutter speeds, with five step control.
Performance. As well as providing the processing power to extend the camera's sensitivity range despite the higher sensor resolution, the EXPEED 3 image processor enables an increase in burst shooting performance. It's now possible to shoot full-resolution Raw or JPEG images at up to 10 frames per second with autofocus and autoexposure. By locking the AF and AE from the first shot, this can be increased still further to 11 full-res frames per second. Burst depth is 200 frames when using JPEG Normal compression.
The D4 starts up in approximately 0.12 seconds and has a claimed shutter release lag of 0.042 seconds.
Optics. The D4 provides a Nikon F-mount with autofocus coupling and contacts. As you'd expect, the D4 is compatible with almost every F-mount lens made since 1977, although some lens types will have a few limitations.
Displays. On the rear panel of the D4 is a new 3.2-inch diagonal LCD panel that's just slightly larger than the 3.0-inch panel of the D3 and D3S. Total resolution of the scratch-resistant panel is unchanged from the earlier unit at 921,600 dots, which equates to 307,200 pixels in a 640x480 array. Also unchanged is the wide 170-degree viewing angle both horizontally and vertically and 100 percent frame coverage.
The LCD now includes an auto brightness adjustment using an ambient brightness sensor, saving the user needing to adjust LCD brightness manually as ambient conditions change. It's possible to zoom in up to 46x on the monitor, to check critical focus.
Of course, the D4 also has both top-panel and rear-panel monochrome status displays, just as found in its predecessors.
Viewfinder. There's also a new eye-level pentaprism viewfinder whose coverage is 100 percent when used in uncropped FX 3:2 aspect ratio mode and 97 percent when in the 1.2x or DX cropped modes. For the cropped FX 5:4 aspect ratio mode, coverage is 100 percent vertically, but only 97 percent horizontally. When shooting in modes other than the native FX-format 3:2 aspect ratio, a translucent LCD in the viewfinder of Nikon's D4 partially masks the inactive portions of the frame. The viewfinder has 0.7x magnification at 50mm and -1 diopter, an 18mm eyepoint and a diopter adjustment range of -3 to +1m-1, all unchanged from the D3 and D3S. The only significant difference from the earlier viewfinder design is that this one is quite a bit less tall, reducing the size of the viewfinder prism hump and is coated with a new thermal shield finish.
Illuminated Controls. Photographers who do a lot of low-light shooting will be pleased to find that key controls on the rear of the D4 are now backlit, making it much easier to tell which buttons you're pressing, even in total darkness.
Focusing. The D4 debuts the next-generation version of Nikon's 51-point autofocus module, now dubbed Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX. The new sensor has an improved working range of -2 to +19 EV (ISO 100, 20 C/68 F) and adds a Focus Release mode which uses focus priority for the first frame and then release priority for subsequent frames.
Of the 51 points arrayed across the sensor, 15 points located at the center are cross-type, sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail and nine of these work at apertures up to f8 with compatible Nikkor lenses mounted on the TC14E or TC17E teleconverters, while the centermost point works at up to f8 with compatible Nikkor lenses and the TC20E teleconverter. (The remainder work as cross-type sensors to f5.6 or lower.)
The new color matrix metering sensor, also used for scene detection, dramatically improves 3D tracking performance, particularly with smaller subjects. Other improvements include the ability to see which supporting autofocus points are being used in Dynamic AF mode at the touch of a button and to have the camera retain the orientation of selected AF points when the camera is rotated.
As well as using the full 51 points of the AF array, it's also possible to select single-point, 9-point or 21-point modes. Again thanks to the increased resolution of the matrix metering sensor, the D4 now offers face detection autofocus even when shooting through the viewfinder.
Shutter/Mirror. The D4 offers shutter speeds ranging from 1/8000 to 30 seconds, in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, as well as a bulb position. Flash X-sync is at 1/250 second. The self diagnostic shutter unit is said to have a rated life of 400,000 cycles and includes a mirror balancer that reduces bounce, improving autofocus performance and reducing mirror blackout.
Exposure. The D4 has a new metering sensor with 91,000 pixel resolution. The 3D Color Matrix Metering III metering mode compares metered scenes to a large in-camera database of scene types and it can now follow up to 16 human faces even when using the optical viewfinder.
The D4 provides an exposure compensation range of -5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV. Additionally, it's possible to bracket from two to nine frames, in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1.0 EV, both for flash and available-light exposures.
White Balance. Nikon has also improved white balance performance in the D4, which should now yield more reliable results in general and also includes an option to retain the warmth of incandescent lighting in Auto mode, something we've seen from quite a few other manufacturers, following on from Pentax's Color Temperature Enhancement feature in the K-7 prosumer SLR. Direct Kelvin white balance has also been improved and now offers finer-grained 10-Kelvin steps.
As well as Auto, four Custom positions and Kelvin, there are a selection of twelve preset modes: incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy and shade. White balance can also be bracketed, saving two to nine copies of each image with varied white balance.
Flash. The D4 includes both an ISO 518 standard flash hot shoe with sync and data contacts and a safety lock and an ISO 519 standard sync terminal with locking thread. i-TTL flash exposures are metered using the new 91,000 pixel metering sensor. The D4 supports Nikon's Creative Lighting System. with the SB-910, SB-900, SB-800 or SB-700 Speedlights as a master flash, the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander as commander and the SB-600 or SB-R200 Speedlights as remotes.
Creative. Although clearly aimed at professionals, the D4 adds a feature more common on consumer dSLRs: high dynamic range photography. HDR mode captures two exposures with 3.0 EV difference in exposures and combines them into a single image. It's not clear if this includes microalignment capability, but three smoothing levels are available: low, medium or high.
Nikon's Active D-Lighting function, which tweaks the tone curve for more balanced exposures, includes one additional strength level beyond those in the D3S, which is Extra High. Active D-Lighting can bracket two to five frames.
The D4 also includes Nikon's Picture Controls function with six presets (Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape) which can be customized. There's now a dedicated button on the camera for access to picture controls, making it easier to change modes to suit your subject.
Mic and Monitor. Now you can hear what you're recording thanks to the headphone jack on the D4.
Video. Nikon has clearly put a lot of work into the D4's video capability. It can now capture Full HD (1080p; 1920x1080 pixel) video at either 24 or 30 frames per second (25 fps for PAL) where its predecessor was limited to 720p at 24 fps. At 720p (1280x720 pixel) resolution, 60 fps is possible (50 fps for PAL). Video can be shot using data from pixels across the entire width of the image sensor in FX mode or with either a 1.5x (DX-format) or 2.7x focal length crop, taking data from the center of the imager, without affecting the video resolution.
Shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity can be changed during recording. There's also full-time contrast detection autofocus capability, operating either in face detection, wide area, normal or subject tracking modes, as well as the ability to focus manually. Nikon claims the D4's fast readout has reduced the likelihood of rolling shutter (aka jello effect.)
Videos use H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format compression with B-frame macroblocks and linear PCM audio. Maximum clip length is 20 minutes. Although there's a dedicated Movie record button, you can also use the Shutter button to start and stop recording.
Audio levels for the built-in monaural microphone can be adjusted automatically or manually in a 30-step range, while external stereo mics have a 20-step adjustment range and the levels for either can be monitored on the LCD. The D4 also includes a standard 3.5mm stereo audio output for live audio monitoring.
The live feed can be piped to the HDMI port as an uncompressed full HD signal to record it with an external device and/or route it to an external monitor. The signal can be mirrored on the LCD at the same time. When streaming to the HDMI port, the D4 doesn't write to the CF or XQD card slots, however.
You can also select a frame rate and shooting interval for time-lapse photography and have the results saved as a video that plays back at speeds ranging from 24x to 36000x.
Connectivity. Connections include USB High-Speed data, a Type-C mini HDMI high definition video output, an RJ-45 wired Ethernet port, a 10-pin remote terminal (also for GPS devices), a 3.5mm stereo microphone jack (with support for plug-in power) and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack (for monitoring audio during video capture). The new ports leave no room for the older composite A/V output, however.
Wireless File Transmitter. While the D4 supports the older WT-4A file transmitter, it is also compatible with a new wireless file transmitter, the 802.11n WT-5A. Transfer can be initiated automatically or manually. The WT-5A draws its power from the camera body via a new port beneath the strap lug on the left side of the camera body.
Nikon is also developing a mobile application (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2012/01/nikon-d4-ipad-integration.html) to control the camera via the WT-5A.
GPS. A compact GPS receiver can geotag images as they're captured. As well as Nikon's own GP-1 hotshoe-mounted GPS receiver, the D4 is also compatible with NMEA0183 version 2.01 or 3.01-compliant GPS receivers, which can be connected to the camera using an optional MC-35 GPS adapter cord and the receiver's own connector cable with 9-pin D-sub connector.
Storage. The D4 has dual flash card slots and can be configured to write images simultaneously to both cards, write Raws to one card and JPEGs to the other or use one card as primary and the second as an overflow when the first card is full. Only one of the slots accepts CompactFlash cards (Type-I only, including UDMA-7 cards). The other accepts the just-announced XQD-format memory cards, a smaller, faster format introduced by the CompactFlash Association last month.
The D4 can write either 12-bit or 14-bit Raw images with lossless or lossy compression or completely uncompressed. It can also save images as RGB TIFF files, Baseline-compliant JPEGs at 1:4, 1:8 or 1:16 compression levels or as both Raw and JPEG formats at the same time. A nice plus for wire service photographers is that the D4 can generate IPTC data in-camera, instead of at download time, streamlining the tagging process.
Power. The D4 draws power from a rechargeable EN-EL18 lithium-ion battery, rather than the EN-EL4/EN-EL4a pack of its predecessors. The new battery is rated at about 22Wh (2,000mAh at 10.8v). CIPA testing suggests the EN-EL18 will deliver up to 2,600 shots per charge. The battery is charged via the Quick Charger MH-26. An EH-6b AC Adapter can be used to power the D4, requiring the EP-6 Power Supply Connector.
Pricing and Availability. U.S.-market availability for the D4 is currently slated for late February. Suggested retail pricing should be approximately $6,000.
By SHAWN BARNETT and MIKE TOMKINS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM with a Live Q&A transcript at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM#live-qa on the Web site.)
Every major camera manufacturer save one has entered the market for compact system cameras, digital cameras with small bodies, mostly larger sensors and interchangeable lenses, all without a complicated mirror box system. That one hold-out continues to wait, but Canon drops a few hints in the design and choice of sensors with the new flagship of the G-series, the G1 X. With a sensor that's just a little larger than a Four Thirds and just a little smaller than APS-C, the G1 X could be a hint of things to come.
Canon emphasizes that the G1 X does not replace the G12, instead representing the apex of the line. Coming in at a considerably higher price of $799 MSRP, a full $300 more than the G12, it is indeed a departure.
Sensor. The G1 X is based around a brand-new, Canon-developed CMOS image sensor that's closely related to those featured in some of its EOS-series dSLRs, but with a slightly smaller size and a narrower aspect ratio. At 18.7x14mm, it's the largest image sensor ever featured in a Canon PowerShot. Compared to a typical Canon APS-C sensor, the new chip is very close to the same height, but with a 4:3 aspect ratio, about 11 percent narrower than a 3:2 aspect ratio chip would be. Effective resolution is 14.3 megapixels and we understand that on the pixel level, the new chip has a similar pixel structure to the 18-megapixel CMOS sensor featured in several current Canon SLRs.
Compared to the 1/1.7-inch sensor featured in Canon's previous G-series flagship, the PowerShot G12, the G1 X's sensor has about six times greater surface area and according to Canon, should yield about nine times greater light sensitivity. That's not the only area where the larger sensor will show an advantage, however. The Canon G1 X should also offer wider dynamic range and be capable of producing a much shallower depth-of-field, making it easier to isolate your subjects from their backgrounds.
Aspect ratio options other than the native 4:3 include 4:5, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1.
Processor. Output from the Canon G1 X's new image sensor is processed by a DIGIC 5 image processor, as seen in the PowerShot S100 and SX40 HS announced last Fall. Compared to previous generations, DIGIC 5 is said to offer improved burst shooting performance and better noise reduction. It also enables better white balance for flash exposures, thanks to an ability to take account of both the flash and ambient light in the scene and compensate for these separately.
The G1 X has a 14-bit image processing pipeline.
Optics. On the front panel is a feature that sets it apart from other large-sensor fixed-lens camera models. Where in the past, we've only seen prime lenses on cameras like this, Canon has gifted the G1 X with a 4x optical zoom lens, covering 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from 28 to 112mm-equivalents. Maximum aperture varies from f2.8 at wide-angle to f5.8 at telephoto, while the minimum aperture is f16 and there's a built-in neutral density filter.
The G1 X's lens offers an interesting alternative to system cameras. At 4x optical zoom, it provides more range than is typical of the kit lenses bundled with system cameras and it does so in a depth of only about 2.5 inches when retracted, giving it a slight advantage over even the tiny Pentax Q, let alone larger system cameras. Of course, with no way to change lenses, the G1 X is more limiting than a system camera should you wish for a little more at either end of the 4x zoom's range, but arguably the G1 X's lens offers enough range (and a small enough size) to make it an attractive solution as a second camera for a dSLR owner.
The G1 X also includes the same Intelligent IS image stabilization system which we saw previously in Canon PowerShot models announced last Fall. This now offers six different modes of operation, which take account of different shooting situations such as shooting macro photos, panning to follow action or shooting with the camera mounted on a tripod and configures the IS system appropriately. It also provides for a greater range of correction when shooting movies.
It's also possible to attach standard 58mm filters to the Canon G1 X, but unfortunately this requires an optional body adapter that attaches to a bayonet around the base of the lens, under a removable trim piece.
Sensitivity. The G1 X offers an ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 12,800 equivalents. As you'd expect given the larger sensor, that's a much wider range than the 80 to 3,200 equivalents offered by the G12, although it doesn't quite reach as far at the lower end of the range. As noted previously, the new DIGIC 5 image processor also plays its part in the G1 X's wider sensitivity range.
While ISO sensitivity was set with a physical dial on the G12's top panel, that's not the case on the G1 X, likely due to the greater number of sensitivity options available, as well as the addition of a pop-up flash on the top deck. ISO sensitivity is now set as a secondary function of the Up Arrow button on the G1 X's rear panel four-way multi controller.
Performance. Canon's DIGIC 5 processor also allows a noticeable increase in the G1 X's burst shooting performance when compared to the G12, at around a manufacturer-rated 4.5 frames per second. Unfortunately, the burst depth of just six frames means that you'll fill the buffer in just 1.3 seconds or so. By contrast, although the G12 was limited to a rather pedestrian two frames per second, it could keep shooting for as long as ten seconds or more in a single burst.
Focusing. As with almost all mirrorless cameras, the G1 X focuses using contrast detection, which operates on data streamed by the image sensor.
Viewfinder. The G1 X has an optical viewfinder located directly beneath the flash hot shoe, but as a mirrorless camera, the viewfinder has a completely separate optical path. It sights through a small window on the camera's front, above the top right quadrant of the lens and zooms to roughly match the field of view of the main lens. Like any such arrangement, it will work better with distant subjects, with an increasing degree of parallax error the nearer your subject becomes. Catering to those with less than perfect eyesight, it does have a diopter adjustment function, although the corrective range wasn't available at press time.
Display. Although the viewfinder provides a handy backup under bright sunlight or when trying to conserve battery, there's a whole generation of photographers who've been brought up taking their photos at arm's length and indeed even us curmudgeonly types have pretty-much begrudgingly accepted this shooting style ourselves. Most photographers will likely be doing their shooting on the G1 X's LCD panel then so it's good news Canon has selected a high-res 3.0-inch display with 922,000 dots, whose resolution equates to approximately VGA (640x480) pixel resolution, with each pixel comprising separate red, green and blue dots.
The LCD itself is mounted on a tilt/swivel mechanism -- Vari-Angle, in Canon parlance -- similar to that on the Canon Rebel T3i. This allows for viewing from almost all angles including in front of the camera, even when tripod-mounted. It's a design that's particularly handy for shooting self-portraits, a fairly common use-case for a compact camera and also makes it easy to shoot low to the ground or high over your head. As an added bonus, the design allows the LCD to be closed facing inwards toward the camera body, providing a modicum of protection against knocks, scratches and smudges on the panel itself.
Exposure. As you'd expect, the G1 X includes a full complement of Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual exposure modes, plus both Auto and Scene modes. There's also a Creative Filters position on the Mode dial, along with two Custom positions that allows the photographers' chosen camera settings to be saved for quick recall.
With ISO sensitivity control now having been moved to the rear panel, the lower ring of the double-decked, "wedding cake"-style dial on the G1 X's top panel is now given over to exposure compensation control, freeing up the space occupied by the G12's separate exposure compensation dial for a popup flash strobe. Exposure compensation is available in 1/3 EV steps, within a +/- 3.0 EV range.
White Balance. The G1 X includes the company's Multi-area White Balance feature, a function of its DIGIC 5 image processor. This applies only for flash exposures captured in Smart Auto mode, but in these circumstances, allows more natural and accurate white balance. It works by taking account of -- and correcting for -- flash and ambient light white balance separately.
Flash. The G1 X's flash strobe is positioned at top left of the camera body, adjacent to the full-sized hot shoe. It's a popup flash, but doesn't deploy automatically under any circumstances. Instead, it's released with a mechanical slider located directly behind the flash head itself.
The G1 X's hot shoe, meanwhile, is compatible with Canon's Speedlite flash strobe lineup, as well as other shoe-mounted accessories such as the Macro Twin Lite and Macro Ring Lite.
HDR. High dynamic range shooting mode combines multiple shots into a single output image. Information on how many shots can be combined, the difference in exposure level and whether the feature includes microalignment capability weren't available at press time, but as with other cameras that offer this capability, it will likely be of use only with relatively static subjects.
Video. Movie mode is accessed via the Mode dial or a separate Movie record button on the rear panel. The G1 X can shoot progressive-scan movies at resolutions up to Full HD (1920x1080 pixels; 1080p), at 24 frames per second. Movies include stereo sound and both optical zoom and continuous autofocus are available during movie capture.
The G1 X also offers 720p higher resolution for Canon's Movie Digest function, introduced at the start of 2011, which now operates at higher resolution in the G1 X.
Pricing, Availability. The Canon PowerShot G1 X will go on sale in the U.S. in February at an estimated price in the region of $800.
Intending, as always, to provide the most thorough photography coverage on the Web, we introduced a couple twists for CES 2012 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/topics/ces+2012).
First, we tapped into Twitter to involve our readers in our in-depth interview process. Second, we conducted Live Q&A sessions in which industry leaders fielded your questions. To see the results, visit the links in the precedes to our two camera reviews above.
-- Dave Etchells
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Special Report: Consumer Electronics Show with PMA@CES 2012 http://www.imaging-resource.com/topics/ces+2012
- Previewed: Nikon D4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/nikon-d4/nikon-d4A.HTM)
- Previewed: Canon G1 X (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1X/G1XA.HTM)
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe
Visit the Panasonic Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f
Read about the Canon Pro-1 printer at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeb680a
Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5
Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
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RE: Canon Pro-1
Very informative review, Mike. I read the test prints in the review were made with Print Quality setting set to High. With the Pixma Pro-1 is it also possible to choose the Setting Fine:1 in Custom Print Quality mode to get more detail?
I also heard that the highest Print Quality Setting Custom Fine:1 can only be used with satin, pearl, semigloss and glossy papers. Is that true?
-- Jimmy Duney(The High setting in the Print Quality dialog gives print quality priority over printing speed. So we were telling the printer we were most concerned about how the print looked, not how long it took to print. And our print times show that. That does set a default value in the Quality slider of the Custom settings for Print Quality. For Platinum Pro it's a 3 of 4, for semi-gloss (or satin) and glossy it's 2 of 4. We've got quite a few test prints on a variety of media lined up, so we'll report on this further. -- Editor)
RE: Film Scanners
To add to the long (and never-ending!) discussion of scanners:
Initially I was slightly disappointed with my new film scanner's resolution vs. images taken with my dSLR. So, I examined my 30 to 40 year-old Ektachromes with a low-power microscope and discovered it was not the scanner's fault at all! Mostly it was due to the lenses I used at the time! It's amazing how much lens -- especially zoom lens -- technology has improved since the '70s!
The other cause of unsharpness was me and my sometimes hasty manual focusing! :-(
-- Lee Bornholdt(Interesting, Lee. Lens design wasn't bad in the 1970s, when computer design enabled some important advances. Although there were certainly some lousy lenses back then. But autofocus was unheard of. Even with minor back and front autofocusing issues, it can beat a manual stab at it (especially when the aperture is wide open). -- Editor)
You made me think again, Mike. The lenses in question were Tamrons I purchased in the late '60s while in the Air Force. High quality at the time. Perhaps most of the problem was my myopic manual focusing after all!
RE: An Old 'Fool'
I am a 62 year old "fool" who now wants to start "playing" with photographing. I bought a Nikon D3100.
I know very little about taking proper photos. For many years I have used one of the "Point, Press and Pray" cameras. I am now really interested in using the camera to its full potential.
What do I need? Maybe a book(s) on when to use ISO, White balance etc. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.
-- Gert Oosthuizen(Well, Gert, we're just going through a nice book that talks about that very subject. It's Ibarionex Perello's "Chasing the Light." He discusses how to set your camera manually so you're prepared for what you find. We also like "Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers" by Harold Davis. He explores the interaction between the three axis of exposure: ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Those are all set automatically on a point-and-shoot, but they're creative options on a dSLR like the D3100. -- Editor)
Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com) released Lightroom 4 Beta [MW] with "refined technology for superior shadow and highlight processing, expanded management capabilities including enhanced dSLR video support and the ability to create beautiful photo books from within Lightroom."
Adobe also rebranded Carousel as Revel (http://blogs.adobe.com/photoshopdotcom/2012/01/adobe-revel.html), releasing a minor update to the iOS and Mac OS X application with the name change.
Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) released "the final version of Bibble 5.2.3 -- including support for 15 more cameras and many additional improvements and bugs fixes. The software has been sold to Corel (http://www.corel.com), which employed the entire team to immediately release its $99.95 AfterShot Pro 1.0 [LMW] photo management software based on Bibble.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released Media Pro 1.2 [MW] with better XMP sidecar functionality, more flexible annotations/metadata imports; plus people and event annotations/metadata IPTC-Extended mapping.
The company also released Capture One Pro 6.3.3 with a number of enhancements.
Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has announced Snapseed for Nvidia Tegra-powered tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x). The company also released Snapseed for Mac OS X. We recently reviewed the iOS version (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/snapseed/index.htm).
Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has released an X2 firmware update to improve camera compatibility and Direct Mode operations.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released GraphicConverter 7.6 [M] with highlight and shadow adjustment, color balance, histogram equalization, a metadata tab in slide show preferences, support for scanning from network scanners and bug fixes.
Western Digital (http://www.wd.com) has introduced My Book Live Duo [MW], a personal cloud storage system combining "the benefits of shared storage and remote access with double-safe backup or increased capacity of a dual-drive system with RAID technology."
TriPlay (http://www.triplay.com) has announced MyDigipack (http://www.mydigipack.com), a new cloud storage service to access, edit and share photos and videos from mobile phones. The free basic package includes 1-GB of storage and one multimedia message. Premium storage and messaging packages are available starting from $0.99 a month.
Easysector Software (http://www.easysector.com) has released Batch Photo Watermarker [W].
BosStrap (http://www.bosstrap.com) has reengineered its Sling Strap with a fail-safe design. The BosStrap One Piece attaches to a camera eyelet not the tripod socket.
We note the passing of Eve Arnold (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/arts/design/eve-arnold-photographer-dies-at-99.html?_r=1&hp), the first woman to become a full member of Magnum Photos and "believed that women saw the world through a different lens."
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That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news SLR Gear: http://www.slrgear.com New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/new-on-ir Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/camera-reviews Q&A Forum: http://www.photo-forums.com Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/BETTERPICS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher