Canon EF-M 32mm f/1.4

In all the buzz around the Canon EOS R full frame mirrorless, almost unnoticed, Canon announced the EF-M 32mm f/1.4 STM lens for the EOS M:

Aimed at entry- and enthusiast-level photographers, the EF-M 32mm F/1.4 STM is a small (1.99in/50.5mm long) and light (8.29oz/235g) lens that’s the 35mm-equivalent of a 51mm lens, which provides an angle-of-view that’s similar to the human eye.

It is the fastest lens for the system, an almost equivalent to the 50mm f/1.4 found on the EOS line. If I had an EOS-M, I’d probably get it to supplement the 22mm f/2 (pancake).

But will that system live in parallel from the EOS-R? For how long?

Fujifilm X-T3, third of its name

And third time is a charm. Just yesterday Canon announced their fullframe mirrorless, Fujifilm just announced the third iteration of the Fujifilm X-T series, the X-T3. This is not a revolution in Fujifilm’s lineup: it is not a switch to fullframe as they do not have to do that, but an improvement.

I bought a Fujifilm X-Pro1 in 2012, pre-ordering it. This was the first generation camera of the series with all its quirks, and back then there was only 3 prime lenses. The X-series lineup is very compelling with many excellent quality and reasonably priced lenses, all in a relatively compact package, thanks to the APS-C sensor size.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera
My X-Pro1 setup in February 2017

I haven’t had the chance to see the X-T3 yet. This is based on spec and reviews.

What does the X-T3 brings to the table? It replaces the now 2 years old X-T2, with a wide range of improvements: a newer sensor up to 26Megapixels and a faster processing unit, with faster autofocus. An improved EVF with a faster refresh rate and higher resolution.

New video capabilities make this camera a good contender in the movie camera segment, with native 10bits 4:2:0 internal recording (sadly in HEVC H265), and 4:2:2 on an external recorder. The headphone jack no longer require the battery pack. 4K 30fps no longer crop, only the 60fps is cropped x1.18. The Eterna film simulation found in the X-H1 has been added as well. Sadly the flip out screen found on the X-T100 isn’t part of the upgrade. Fujfilm, pretty please!

Another interesting feature is the sports shooting mode where the captured image is cropped x1.25 allowing the viewfinder can show the outside of the frame, with a burst rate of 30fps.

Hit

  • Added Eterna film profile
  • 1080p at 120fps, 4K in 30fps full frame and 60fps in x1.17 crop
  • new video recording capabilities
  • Mic and headphone jack
  • Two card slots

Miss

  • No flip out screen, unlike the X-T100
  • No in body stabilisation

A welcome update, I’m now holding off to get the X-T3, mainly motivated with my foray into moving pictures.

Cinema5D X-T3 review.

About that EOS R control ring

One of the new features of the EOS R is the control ring. Similarly found on the Canon PowerShot G7X, a ring that you can use to control things, at the tip of the lens. Like the G7X, the ring does click when rotated and can be heard. According to Canon you can get it disabled (YouTube):

“This clicks will make a slight audible sound as you rotate the ring. For critical video shooters concerned about the possibility of recording this sound, Canon service technicians can modify your RF lens and remove the click stops for a fee.”

That’s right. Not with a button like on the G7X MarkII but sent back to the service center.

EOS R, Canon strikes back

After all rumors, a week after Nikon, Canon has released the EOS R, that appear to be a 5D MarkIV stuffed into a mirrorless package; some people say it is more like the 6D MarkII. The EOS-R feature the new RF mount, and 4 RF lenses have been announced, as well as 3 EF to RF adapters. At US$ 2,300 body only (CAD 3,000 up North), it is a bit more expensive than its competition.

All of this is based on the specs as I haven’t had the privilege to see one, even less touch one.

  • 30 Megapixels full frame sensor
  • 4K movie mode, not using MJPEG, but crop 1.7x
  • Canon C-log
  • New RF mount 20mm flange that allow a much slimmer design
  • Control ring on the lens
  • Fast dual pixel autofocus with many focus points

Early reviews say the autofocus works fast, whether in stills or movie mode, as well as with adapted EF lenses. This is good news.

Here is the 4 lenses lineup:

  • RF 35mm f/1.8 IS STM Macro (CAD 650)
  • RF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM (CAD 1,450)
  • RF 50mm f/1.2 L USM (CAD 3,000)
  • RF 28-70mm f/2 L USM (CAD 3,900), it is huge and fast.

Only the two cheapest one have IS.

Now the EF to RF adapters. Plural as there are three. There is the basic one for CAD 130 that just connect the lens, a second one that for CAD 260 provides the control ring that EF lenses are missing, and a third one that provide drop in filters (but no control ring) for much more money depending whether it is a ND filter or a circular polarizer. This is an essential part to convince Canon DSLR users that the don’t lose their heavy investment in lenses.

What is the control ring? It is an extra ring on RF lenses that can be mapped on the camera to perform a specific function. You can use it to change the aperture, the ISO, the shutter speed or other things. And this is the same ring that one of the EF adapter provides so that you have the functionality with EF lenses.

Hit

  • Flip out screen
  • Mic and headphone jack
  • EF adapter
  • Initial lenses appear to be high quality
  • Optional control ring EF adapter
  • The RF 28-70mm L f/2 lens, is that the fastest zoom lens ever?

Miss

  • 4K is x1.7 crop
  • 120 fps is 720p only (they call it HD just to confuse people, while 1080p is FullHD)
  • Battery life
  • No in body image stabilisation
  • Only the 35mm and the kit 24-105mm lenses have IS
  • Limited slow motion to 1080p60
  • One card slot
  • A bit more money than the Nikon or the Sony
  • Initial lens lineup quite pricey

While far from perfect, Canon seems to have released a compelling and capable package. It really feels that they deliberately crippled some features (like the video capabilities) to protect higher end system. With a steep starting price, there is no guarantee that this will have the success they hope given the fierce competition ; with patience it might just become in a few years, the only interchangeable lens camera system sell.

Nikon Z, finally

Nikon finally officially announced the Nikon Z, their new mirrorless digital camera system. Mirrorless is not new for Nikon as they just discontinued the Nikon 1, but this time they are getting serious.

And there is a lot of hate about the Nikon Z, haters are gonna hate.

So let’s review what’s the offer:

The Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7, are the first two mirrorless cameras with a full frame sensor from Nikon, and they use the new Z-mount. Priced at US$2,000 and US$3,400 respectively, they fall in the same proce, the Sony α7III and α7RIII. Both cameras share a lot in their design, handling and appearance. The main differentiator between them is the sensor resolution, maximum ISO, maximum FPS and number of autofocus points, like the two Sony models mentionned.

Note: I haven’t seen it nor touched it – I’m not part of that circle of people. This is a commentary on the specs, you have been warned.

One little distinguishable feature, that you can already find on some of the Fujifilm cameras like the GF50 or the X-H1, is the top LCD screen. A matrix of dots instead of predetermined display: this allow a greater flexibility in what can be displayed.

The controversy comes from the memory card slot. First, there is only one: there is a (relatively small) number of people in that market segment that want two slots, as a safety against losing a shoot when a memory card fails. Second, and that’s probably the worst in my books, is the use of the XQD format. No. Not yet again a format nobody else uses.

Z-mount

Let’s talk about Z-mount a little bit. Since 1959, Nikon has been using the F-mount on their SLR system. Neither autofocus nor digital made them change the lens, even though there are different classes of F-mount depending on the presence of an aperture ring or screw autofocus (ie the autofocusing system is on the body with a mechanical coupling, instead of in the lens). Since Nikon managed to go that far without changing the mount, why doing it now?

As I explained in a previous post, a mirrorless system would allow a shorter flange distance to be able to benefit from a more compact form factor. Since that make the lens incompatible, why not changing the mount? This is were the Z-mount comes. Dropping all the legacy baggage it address some of the issues. One of them is the diameter that has prevented from making very wide aperture lenses. At 55mm, it is probably one of the largest diameter for that size of sensor (or film format), and Nikon already announced a Noct lens: Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95 lens.

With a flange distance of 16mm, not only you have a slim body, but you also have more possibilities in term of adapted lenses. And there will be an F-mount adapter priced at US$250 that will allow using F-mount lenses immediately, albeit you lose some of in-body image stabilization efficiency by having only 3-axis VR.

3 lenses will be available in Z-mount at launch, priced a bit over the top:

At least 9 other Nikkor Z lenses are planned until 2020, including Nikkor Z 58mm f/0.95

Video

Video isn’t forgotten with the Nikon Z. A range of resolution and frame rates, with 4K HD up to 30 fps, and 1080p HD up to 120 fps for smooth slow motion, mic in, headphone out. A notable omission is the flip out screen, but this is on par with the Sony. The 1080p120 mode is cropped, while all the other modes are full frame.

Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter has some praise for the Z6 on the specs (video):

You can shoot 10-bits N-log 4K in full frame, albeit with an external recorder, with a camera that cost around US$2,000. Something that is usually cost much more. He also believe Nikon colour science is superior to Sony, something that will have to wait to be confirmed.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter

The Nikon Z seems to be a glimpse into what Nikon think is its future in the field of high-end camera. From what I can see, they stroke the balance to be able to satisfied advanced users (professionals or not), both in the area of photo and video, and will be able to handle the transition away from DSLR which I believe is happening.

I wouldn’t call the Nikon Z ground breaking. They don’t seem to do anything that no one else did before, but it looks like they engineered a camera system that seem to have almost all the ingredients to work. While not perfect, and a first generation product, I’m pretty sure the Nikon Z will be damn fine cameras, and their pricing is within the competition.

One more thing

Nikon is sorry that the Z7 is Selling so Quickly… and Canon has an announcement in that area soon.