Dateline 7 February 2016

John Gall

PF

It was with regret that we received the news that John had felt it necessary to resign from his position as our chairman. Although his health continues to improve he does not feel able to continue his duties in this post. The good news is that he hopes to join us at meetings in the not too distant future and, perhaps, to get involved in one of the extra events.

Members' Presentations – 4 January 2016

Reports by Peter Flower

Although these talks were about different countries they were not travelogues. In both cases they commented on the people and customs that were encountered during visits to them.

A Tale Of Two Cities – Jill Flower

Jill presented a series of images and amusing commentary about two cities, Amsterdam and London. The first set of photographs resulted from a mid-December one-week trip to Amsterdam with a large group of students from Reigate School of Art. During this time they would visit a number of museums and art exhibitions to gain inspiration for their work, but also enjoy the delights of the city during their leisure time. Needless to say they had all been given a thorough health and safety briefing beforehand, especially about the hazards of coffee and cake shops which might sell products somewhat different to that in English tea rooms! There were also warnings about trams and bicycles. At least the trams create a noise on the rails and have bells as a last-resort indication of their approach. Cyclists on the other hand ride around on stealth machines that emit no sound, take no prisoners (either on the road or pavement) and regard the sounding of bells as something for wimps.

Amongst the early images were those of flower markets, also featuring cannabis plants at a bargain price! The following images show these plants and what appear to be toy characters who have used the finished product!

Jill's photographs concentrated on people and the general street scene of the city. Inevitably there was graffiti and hundreds of bikes in evidence, but it wasn't only bikes that were chained to lamp-posts for security!

The following collage shows bikes in use. Jill commented that it was often difficult to take any shot where someone did not intrude, as seen in the second photo. However, no photographic outing would be complete without the inclusion of one of her favourite Lego people!

There were also photographs of the fellow students. These are just two of many that Jill took of Alice, one of the girls on the trip. Just days before the trip the long blond hair had been cropped and dyed blue.

She also featured in some fun pictures that included the creation of some surreal shadows from pavement mounted floodlights.

The final Amsterdam collage of pictures show part of the giant 'Amsterdam' lettering, with people clambering all over it, a moving shot of a skater on the ice rink, an example of the light show installations seen on an evening boat trip around the canals and an artistic view of litter.

Jill then switched the subject to London. The photographs had been taken during three visits to the Photo 24 event organised by Advanced Photographer. Many will remember the fact that Will Cheung, editor of the magazine, gave the keynote talk as part of the society's 75th anniversary events in 2013. At that time he announced the first Photo 24 photographic challenge event to take place on the longest day (21 June). We took part in that event and those of the subsequent two years. Just a few photographs from those visits were shown.

The first collage features a variety of London street market scenes. Deptford market is full of bargain items for sale. However, Jill pointed out the lady in the first bottom row monochrome image, standing on a step-ladder. Despite the fact that items on her stall were extremely low-priced she was keeping a watchful eye out for potential thieves! The person in the other monochrome image is a friend who runs this mobile coffee stall from the back of his van. The other shot on the bottom row is of Columbia Road flower market. This is a venue that we had visited previously on a Chatham Challenge. The Photo 24 event proved less popular than our own with the vendors, largely due to the numbers of large DSLRs and lenses being pointed at them. Needless to say, we were using much more discrete cameras!

The following collage features a couple of amusing images. It will be seen that Londoners do not necessarily tether their bikes to street posts in quite the disciplined way that Amsterdamers do! This photograph was taken at a point where we were within sight of the Shard. One of the challenges was to provide an image that had some reference to the Shard without showing it as the main subject. The second shot shows a rather unflattering view of my rear as I bent down to photograph the bike with the Shard in the far background. This attracted the attention of yet another photographer who was attempting much the same shot.

Spending time wandering around the different areas of London is a sure way to view a wide variety of subject matter. The charming photograph of the young girls admiring their reflection in the large mirrored exterior of the impressive Laban Building, Deptford, was just one of many. Jill had the good fortune to capture the cyclist in a quiet side-street, passing the humorous 'bottom line' graffiti on the wall. The girl singer was outside an historic pub, and it's not every day that you see some guy carrying a television past a big red bus that has become part of a bar and restaurant.

The final selection shows underground travellers completely engrossed in their activities, not noticing that they are being photographed, how obsessed people are in getting into the picture, and a colourful experiment with a fish-eye lens.

The combination of photographs from the two cities provided an interesting insight into the variety of street imagery that is available to the observant photographer.

Senegal: A Volunteer's Viewpoint – Hannah McGettrick

Hannah McGettrick recently joined the society. A set of photographs from her visit to Senegal was exhibited in December at the Community Centre and some were then transferred to the Harlequin Centre in Redhill. On the 5 February they returned to the Community Centre. Her talk included these and further images in which she explained the details of her visit during a volunteer placement with Y Care International in the Ziquinchor region of Senegal. The placement was made possible through the International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme, a UK government funded programme that brings together young people to help fight poverty overseas. With support through ICS, Y Care International sent volunteers to work with local YMCAs in Senegal.

Hannah and the other volunteers worked on a number of projects, including helping ChildFund to distribute shoes, interviewing beneficiaries of Comic Relief Funding and helping a group of disabled entrepreneurs with their soap-making business.

The photographs in this exhibition are just a small selection of those taken during Hannah's involvement in the project. They show many of the beneficiaries of the aid that was provided and include charming pictures of the the young children assisted in their education and supplied with footwear. It was explained that the footwear was supplied by the company, TOMS Shoes, who donate on the basis of one pair for every one which is purchased normally from them.

The first photograph in the following collage shows the registration process being done in a school for the provision of shoes. It will be noted that the children are sitting four to a desk, in contrast to those in private education, sitting two to a desk and wearing smart school uniforms. Hannah explained that some of the children were reticent about having their photographs taken, but this is obviously not the case with the group outside the public school waiting for the handout of shoes!

Aid was given to many of the women to set up small business enterprises. Some of these, in their very colourful clothing, were photographed by Hannah. Reading from top left and down, the first woman from the village of Gonoum was a beneficiary of Comic Relief, as was the second. The next photograph is of a woman selling textiles on Cap Skirring Beach. The following three were also beneficiaries of Comic Relief funding. Finally, there is a charming shot of a mother carrying her baby Senegalese style.

Although parts of the country are very arid the trip did take in a region which was much more fertile, as can be seen in the following images. The first shot was taken at Casamance, the greenest region of Senegal, and the second shows a man returning from an allotment area. Fishermen on the Casamance river, Ziguinchor, feature, as do the shops in a local market.

The simple living condition are evident in the photograph that Hannah took of meal preparation. This showed the very basic cooking facilities and she explained that the food seen, made from fish and rice, would be shared between up to ten people. The second photograph is of a well that was funded by Comic Relief aid. The surrounding area had been made safe from unexploded mines after the civil war enabling locals to access an essential water source. Vicky, the girl in the pink dress, was the daughter of Hannah's host family. The other image shows sisters from the village of Gonoum. It will be noted that the younger one is in urgent need of correctly fitting shoes!

The final set of pictures shows the volunteer team who were involved with this project and local YMCA youngsters with their banner.

Hannah's talk and the images that she showed us gave an interesting insight into the work of aid agencies and the benefits that are provided to these communities. It was obviously a voluntary project that gave her a good deal of enjoyment and the society is proud to have provided her with financial and organisational support to set up her exhibitions.

Touching The Light – 11 January 2016 – Ken Scott ARPS

Report by Peter Flower

 © All photographs in this report are copyright of Ken Scott ARPS

Ken is a mountaineer and photographer from Sussex. He has walked and climbed extensively in Britain, Europe and North America, and in 2011 completed a 500 mile unsupported trek through the Pyrenees from Atlantic to Mediterranean. In his talk he explained his passion for mountaineering, an interest spanning over 30 years, and showed us how it had influenced much of his photography. At the beginning of his talk he tried to recall the date of the previous talk that he had given to the society. I was able to remind him that this was on 4 April 2011, under the title '1101 Days And Counting'. I could recall this only because I had written on this subject in December (Newsletter No. 76) in the context of a '365 Project' (where photographers take a photo every day of the year) by another speaker. At the time of his previous visit Ken had suffered an illness whilst climbing Mulhacén, the highest peak on mainland Spain in 2006 that resulted in a very prolonged recuperation period. This extended into the following year and resulted in an inability to undertake the photography that he loved best. This was the reason for his subsequent take-up of a 365 Project in late 2007, and the principal subject of that talk. Whilst it entertained him during his recuperation it was no substitute for time spent in the hills and his feelings were summed up in the title of the following photograph taken on a train when two of his best mates were walking and climbing that week on Skye and around Kintail whilst he was working. (We used this photograph in the original report)

Dreaming of Skye

Whilst this discipline of taking at least one photograph each day was useful therapy, and is an activity that he continues, he was obviously very happy to get back into the hills and mountains. It is there that he really comes alive. As he explained the taking of photographs in these environments came about as an adjunct to the mountaineering activities. It is there that he is able to enjoy, and record, the natural light in the landscape. Being aware of the light was the principal objective. He expressed a number of philosophies which I have paraphrased. Scenery does not change, but the light does. The most important factor is the light. It is important to react to the changes in light. If changes are happening fast you need to react quickly, but be happy to be patient and wait for that special moment. Become familiar with the changing environment and trust your instincts on the timing of the ideal lighting for the scene. Recognise the difference between a marvellous subject and a marvellous picture.

Early in his talk he expressed the importance of choosing a good viewpoint. He was critical of photographers who took shots from a car park rather than trekking a short distance to a spot which gave a better view. Also, of those who opted for the traditional viewpoint (indicated by the tripod holes!) rather than seeking out something different. He illustrated this point by showing the following images. In the first a group of photographers can be seen to the right at just such a location for the conventional view of the lake shore, whereas in this case the most important factor is the light on the mountains. The second is an image which must be familiar to most of us even if we haven't been there.

The view of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park from the top of the moraine rock-pile is one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada. That view of the mountains behind the lake in Valley of the Ten Peaks is known as the Twenty Dollar View, as Moraine Lake was featured on the backs of the 1969 and 1979 issues of the Canadian twenty dollar note.

Ken showed a series of photographs taken in the mountains. In order to fully enjoy a period of time in these high places and to experience the effects of differing light on the scenery he often camps overnight in a simple tent. His stories of some of the extreme weather conditions that this might involve are an indication of his dedication to this pursuit. It is, perhaps, something that most of us would not wish to emulate! However, the reward is to experience, and document, many of the sublime vistas that we were shown. Just a few examples appear below. Some of these show how cloud formations are affected, either by the prevailing winds or temperature inversions. A photograph in the Basque Pyrenees shows inversion and cloud division on the Spanish-French border and an image from the Canadian Rockies shows the affect of inversion.

Pic d'Orhy Summit and Inversion                                        Canadian Rockies, 1985

It will be obvious from the date on that last photograph that some of Ken's images date back to the days of film and have since been scanned digitally. Other images show the dramatic skies and their affect on the lighting of the landscape.

Beinn Eighe, Torridon 2009                                                         Padarn Bridge, Snowdonia 2010

Skyburst, Snowdonia 1987          Roughten Beck, Lake District 1999          Fain Bothy, Dundonnell 2001

We are all very familiar with the sight of a rainbow in the sky and the conditions under which it can be observed. Not so many will be aware of the the variations in 'bows' that can occur. Ken showed many examples of these. Just two are illustrated below. The first is the Brocken Spectre, so named because of original sightings on the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany's Harz Mountains. The Brocken spectre (or Brocken bow) is an apparently greatly magnified shadow of an observer cast against mist or cloud below the level of a summit or ridge and surrounded by rainbow coloured fringes resulting from the diffraction of light. The image is sometimes likened to a god-like one. The second is an example of a fog bow. This is a similar phenomenon to a rainbow, but it appears as an arch in fog rather than rain. Because of the very small size of water droplets that cause fog, smaller than 0.05 millimetres, it appears as a white arc, rather than a multi-coloured one.

 

Another aspect of phenomena that are more often observed over mountain areas were the lenticular wave clouds.

Sierra Wave, Alpujarras 2014                                           Goat Fell, Arran 2002

Although some weather patterns and light conditions could be anticipated there were always times when quick reactions were needed to capture the changes. One such incident occurred with the following image. He had given up on capturing this particular sight and was making a tricky descent when his friend pointed out the imminent occurrence of this spectacular light condition. Ken made the difficult climb back up just in time to capture this photograph.

Fireclouds, Cwm Glas 1989

As a humorous aside to this tale Ken, who is also a judge, said that he often had to remind himself to be careful about comments such as 'the composition might have been improved if you had moved to the left'. So often in the mountains this would leave you in space with a several hundred foot drop!

Although the talk was mainly about Ken's time in the mountains there were also many images of general scenery. However, these still demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that these were captured in dynamic lighting conditions.

Sunburst, Basque Pyrenees 2011                                    High Street Wall, Lake District 1994

Closer to home, he showed a number of images that continued to show his mastery of light. Many of these were from his ongoing 365 Project which now numbers well over 3000 images.

The final images are of Ken and his friend, Wayne, enjoying their time in the mountains.

Ken Scott, Pic d'Orhy Summit, Basque Pyrenees 2011             Wayne, Col d'Elhorietta, Basque Pyrenees 2011

 

Summing up, Ken's talk and accompanying images provided us with an excellent evening's entertainment. As was said earlier in this report, the landscape does not change. Whilst it is exciting to visit the mountains the real magic comes with the changes in light. Ken's photographs enabled us to share his passion and to enjoy those remote views.

More of Ken's photographs, and details of the workshops and holidays that he organises, can be found at the following web address.

www.touchingthelight.co.uk/

 

Additional information

Because we did not have time for questions at the end of the meeting I emailed Ken to ask him for some additional information for the benefit of myself and members. My questions and Ken's answers are shown below.

PF: You mentioned camera equipment - a Pentax ME Super (I believe) in the days of film and a Sony NEX camera in the digital era.

Could you give details of cameras and lenses that you take with you, particularly on your mountain treks?

KS: Yes in the old days of film I carried a Pentax ME Super with 50mm, 200mm and 24mm lenses. About 80% of my images were shot with the 50mm. Now and on long treks I carry the Sony NEX (to be upgraded soon) with 18-55mm.

PF: How do you cope with batteries (recharging?) and memory cards (Can you back up images whilst you are remote?)

KS: Camera batteries have to be charged at campsites on the mains although I do have a solar charger that would do the phone and, in an emergency, boost the camera battery. I know I can get three days shooting out of the NEX battery.

PF: How do you carry the camera kit?

KS: On expeditions, in CCS waist-mounted pouches - waterproof and shockproof. Normally a LowePro slingshot.

PF: You mentioned presetting the camera for quick response - details?

KS: Always Aperture Priority AE, lens set to f8/f11 and hyperfocused. Modern camera seem to have completely neglected helpful marks on the lens barrel for hyperfocal distances. My workflow is a) set aperture for required depth of field, b) check shutter speed, c) only use support or uprate ISO if shutter speed is to slow to hand hold.

PF: Any other details you would like to add?

KS: Too many to list really, but in essence my philosophy is travel light; shoot responsively in the moment; no planning, no preconceptions, no expectations.

 

Roy Ticehurst

Information from Steve Lawrenson – 21 January 2016

I had a phone call from Mary Ticehurst this morning.

Mary and Roy were two of our most long-standing and enthusiastic members for many years until ill health caught up with them.

She tells me that Roy died two days ago in hospital where he had been for some time. His body has been donated to medical science so there will not be a funeral or memorial service although there was talk of a Wake for family members only.

Mary continues to live at Vogan Close with the assistance of regular and frequent visits from her carers.

At her request I pass this information on to you all so that those who remember them are aware of the situation and can convey their feelings as appropriate.

Saturday Natter – 16 January 2016 – Organised by John Fisher

PF

This event was held at Denbies Café, Dorking, as part of the latest Extra Events programme. Members had been invited by John to join him from 10.30am to bring cameras, chat about anything photographic and socialise generally. It could also be an opportunity for new members to get to know existing ones and perhaps obtain advice on any queries that they might have about equipment or photographic techniques. Almost twenty people turned up and gathered around a group of tables in the centre of the café. There was a great deal of animated discussion on a wide range of topics which continued until just after 1pm. By this time the place had almost filled with diners and we felt a little conspicuous just sitting at the group of tables, not eating but merely surrounding a large number of empty coffee cups!

This was such a successful initial event and it was generally agreed that it might become a regular monthly one in the future.

The photograph of the gathering comes courtesy of Jill Flower who stood on a chair to take this aerial shot with the fish-eye lens on her Olympus PEN E-PL7 camera.

 

The images in the following collage show most of the people who attended. They are from Lester Hicks who was experimenting with his recently-purchased Panasonic TZ70 camera.

 

Note: The next Natter was on Saturday 6 February. The introductory ‘Saturday Natter’ was such a success that John Fisher proposes that we make it a regular activity for the foreseeable future – so put first Saturdays of each month, from 10.30am at Denbies café in your diaries now. John suggests “Although there will be no agenda, can we say that if anyone has something in particular that they want to talk about, to let me know and I will mention it so the others can think about it and see if they have anything to contribute?” Contact John Fisher on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Third Print Competition – 18 January 2016 – Judged by John Warren

Peter Flower

We do not normally comment on competition events. Views will vary widely on the quality and fairness of judging so this is a perhaps a subject left well alone. However, some incidents that took place this time are worthy of mention. John was said to be a fairly new entrant to the SPA judging panel, but I have to say that this was not evident from his performance on the evening. He brought a sense of humour to the event and appeared to be confident in his judgments. This was perhaps most evident in a decision that he made about two of the prints that were awarded 10 marks. I cannot remember an occasion when the potential top-marked entries were not all assembled in the 'I'll look at them later category' when decisions about grading between 9 and 10 marks were made. This time was an exception. John was very decisive in respect of the following two entries in the monochrome class which he immediately awarded 10 marks.

 

© Hare Today – James Godber                                        Alice – Jill Flower

Amusement was caused by a number of of prints that popped up in two different classes with slightly mysterious titles, like 'Flight Noams345'. It should be added that this was doubly confusing because they featured people rather than aeroplanes or anything even remotely related to flight. The mystery was explained after the tea break when Grahame Singleton had explained the reasoning to John Warren (a minor rebellion against having to provide titles!).

New members

PF

The success of James Godber, as reported above, prompts me to comment on the the fact that not only have we attracted a significant number of new members in recent months, but also that they are taking an active part in events. Forgive me for not mentioning all the names but amongst the notable new recruits are twins, Nick and Bob Walker. 'New' is strictly speaking not accurate because they were regular members many years ago, so long ago that very few will remember that time! They left when family responsibilities took up so much of their leisure time but have now rejoined us as associate members. There has also been an influx of female members, a number of whom were at the Saturday Natter.

Review of 2015

Techman

This review limits itself to comments about the enthusiast and professional level cameras and lenses that have been released during this year. Looking at the release statistics it has not been a particularly active year but there have been some important trends in respect of the technology incorporated in the new models. Perhaps the most significant has been increasing move to the introduction of mirrorless models. These have enabled much lighter and compact cameras to be made available to the enthusiast who still values quality images. A significant aspect of these cameras is that, in many cases, they have not been introduced at a price to undercut that of conventional DSLRs. The individual models from each manufacturer are commented on below. Their introduction dates are shown in brackets.

Canon had a fairly quiet year. The most significant models released were the EOS 5DS and 5DS R variants that brought 50 megapixel sensors. At the lower end of the DSLR range there were a pair of models, the EOS 750D and EOS 760D (Feb 2015), that were so similar in specification that one questioned the reasoning. Following a hesitant start in the previous year Canon released two mirrorless models, the M3 (Feb 2015) and M10 (October 2015). It is noticeable that the M Series cameras are labelled as EOS. Both have the EF-M lens mount, a variation on the existing EF and EF-S mounts. Four new lenses were introduced.

Nikon had an even quieter time. Just two enthusiast-type models were released, the D5500 (January 2015) and D7200 (March 2015). Both of these were relatively minor upgrades to previous models, the D5300 (October 2013) and D7100 (February 2013). A niche product, the D810A (February 2015), was a specialized version of the regular D810 that had been modified for specific types of astrophotography. Nikon seemed to have concentrated its efforts on the lens line-up, with no less than 8 being released.

Fujifilm continued with the expansion of its X series range of cameras. The X-T10 (May 2015) was a lower-priced and slightly lower specified version of the popular X-T1. Also sharing nearly identical specifications to the X-T1, the X-T1 IR (August 2015) added advanced infrared technology to see light from the ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR) portions of the light spectrum (approximately 380nm – 1,000nm). The X-T1 IR is a premium mirrorless camera specifically designed for professionals, utilising the XF lens range. A more compact model, the X-A2 (January 2015) was also added to the range. 6 lenses were also introduced during this year.

Leica released a number of significant full-frame new models, the Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) (April 2015), Leica Q (Typ 116) with a fixed 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens (June 2015), Leica SL (Typ 601) (Oct 2015) and Leica M (Typ 262) (Nov 2015). It was significant that both the Leica Q and Leica SL were equipped with electronic rather than the usual optical viewfinders. The SL in particular came with the highest resolution (4.4 million pixels) viewfinder of any camera. Three new lenses were also introduced.

Olympus limited itself to the introduction of upgraded models, the OM-D E-M5 II (Feb 2015) and OM-D E-M10 II (Aug 2015) plus three new lenses. The cameras were equipped with in-body 5-way image stabilisation.

Panasonic released three models, the GF7 (Jan 2015), G7 (May 2015) and GX8 (July 2015). The first two retained the 16 megapixel sensors that have appeared in previous micro four thirds (M4/3) models. The GX8 introduced a 20Mp sensor which for the first time included image stabilisation. Historically, Panasonic models had relied on lens optical stabilisation. The new sensor enabled compatible lenses from Olympus (which relied on in-body stabilisation) to be used without any dis-benefit. Three new lenses were released.

Pentax announced two new cameras, the K-S2 (Feb 2015) and K-3 II (April 2015) plus 5 new lenses.

Samsung only introduced one new camera, the NX500 (Feb 2015). This was a lower priced version of the flagship NX1, without the optical viewfinder. As reported in previous Newsletter 76 it has already been announced that the NX1 will no longer be sold in this country and it is speculated that the NX500 and other Samsung models may be discontinued as well.

Sony continued its expansion of the A7 range with mark 2 versions, the A7R II (June 2015) and A7S II (Sept 2015). In addition to their own introduction of 6 new lenses there were two significant E-mount lenses, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 and Loxia 21mm f/2.8 from Zeiss. (These join a number of Zeiss lenses that already fit Sony cameras) The ability to use Canon lenses, utilising a Metabones adapter, as reported in Newsletter 73, means that the Sony owner has a wide choice of lenses available. There had been speculation that, with so much emphasis on the A7 range, the Sony DSLR range might be allowed to wither but the announcement of the SLT-A68 (Nov 2015) disproved this for the time being.

 

Host of new cameras announced early in 2016

Techman

Within the first few days of the New Year several manufacturers announced a series of new models. On into early February the flow of new model announcements continue.

Nikon

The D5 full-frame model replaces the D4S (February 2014). The sensor increases from 16 to 21 megapixels. It has a native ISO range of 100 to 102,400. This is expandable from 50 up to an amazing 3,280,000 (which enables it to record images in conditions where human vision is challenged). The camera has a new 153 point AF system with 99 cross-sensors.

The current body price is £5199 at WEX and other outlets.

The D500 APS-C model replaces the D300S (July 2009). The sensor increases from 12 to 21 megapixels. It shares many of the features of the D5. Although not as impressive as the D5 the native ISO range of 100 to 51,200 is expandable from 50 to 1,640,000.

The current body price is £1729 at WEX and other outlets.

 

Note: As this item was about to be published news was received that photographers who have waited a long time for the D300S replacement are going to have to keep waiting a little longer. Nikon Japan has released a statement (in Japanese) pushing the D500's initial March release back to late April 2016. Nikon cites high demand for the camera as the cause of the delay. It seems that the D500's battery grip and WT-7A wireless transmitter are also delayed.

Canon

The company introduced two new bridge cameras -

SX540 HS 24-1200mm equivalent 50x BSI-CMOS

SX420 IS 24-1008mm equivalent 42x CCD sensor

and three compact Powershot ELPH models -

180 CCD 28-224 8x

190 IS CCD 24-240 mm 10x

360 HS CMOS 25-300 mm 12x

Note: What is surprising about these new models is that some still retain the CCD sensor. It should also be noted that the Canon SX60 HS with its 21-1365mm equivalent 65x BSI-CMOS from September 2014 still remains the model with the longest equivalent zoom range. However, even this is trumped by the Nikon Coolpix P900 introduced in March 2015 with its 16 megapixels sensor and 24-2000 mm (83.3×) zoom lens.

Panasonic

Two new compact models have been released. Notably each has an electronic viewfinder.

TZ80 1/ 2.3” sensor 18 Mp 24-720 mm

TZ100 1” sensor 20 Mp 25-250 mm

Phase One

In complete contrast to these compact cameras PhaseOne has announced a 100MP back for its modular XF medium format camera system, with a CMOS sensor co-developed with Sony. Despite being described as 'full frame' the sensor is 53.7 x 40.4mm, making it two and a half times larger than the 135 format to which the term is most often applied. The 'full frame' MF sensor guarantees that the full field-of-view of MF lenses can be realized, compared to the cropped fields-of-view a number of previous MF backs, such as the IQ250, yielded.

The Phase One XF 100MP camera system offers 16-bit colour output and a claimed 15 stops of dynamic range, presumably at the base (native) ISO setting of 50. Impressively, an electronic first curtain is automatically used when shooting with Vibration Delay or Mirror Up, ensuring the large focal plane shutter doesn't shake and soften the image when shooting at susceptible shutter speeds with non-leaf shutter lenses. The camera body, back and 80mm Schneider Kreuznach lens will cost about $49,000 in the USA.

The amazing picture quality available from this camera is shown in the following example image.

 

Shortly before, on 2 December 2015, Phase One announced that it had acquired the assets of Mamiya Digital Imaging Company, Ltd (MDI) and appointed Makoto Honda as the new president of Phase One Japan. Mamiya has held a long and established reputation in the camera sector. As a 45 percent shareholder in MDI since 2009 Phase One has developed detailed insight into the camera & lens design and production process and engineered important improvements through its close collaboration with the MDI team in Japan. With this transaction, Phase One now also took total ownership for all aspects of design and development of medium format camera systems, central shutters & lenses.

Fujifilm

The company announced three new models, illustrated below -

 

X-Pro2

24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (APS-C)

273 Autofocus points (77 of which PDAF)

2.36M-dot OLED/Optical hybrid viewfinder with pop-up picture-in-picture tab

ISO 200-12800, expandable to 100-51200 with Raw shooting at all settings

1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed and 1/250 sec flash sync

 

The unique hybrid viewfinder giving a combination of optical and electronic view

 

Fujifilm X70, a fixed-lens compact camera designed in the spirit of the company's X100-series. This takes the design of the X100, shrinks it down, and adds a 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens (compared to the 35mm equiv. F2 optics on the X100). The hybrid viewfinder from the X100 is gone, but in exchange users get Fujifilm's first touchscreen LCD (3" in size), which can also tilt 180 degrees. The X70 has direct controls for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation, just like its big brother.

Fujifilm X-E2S is an update to the company's premium rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, the gold award-winning X-E2, which was introduced back in 2013. Probably the most significant feature is an improved Hybrid AF system (similar to that of the X-T10), which adds 77-point zone and wide/tracking modes to go along with the 49 points that were already available on the X-E2. It has an electronic shutter allowing shutter speeds as high as 1/32000 sec as well as totally silent shooting. Top ISO is 51200.

It retains the 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS Sensor II. The way that this sensor differs from the conventional Bayer pattern of colour filters is shown below.

The company also announced FUJIFILM Camera Remote, an application which can operate wireless-equipped digital cameras by remote control to shoot images and to view images and movies in the camera and to transfer them to smartphones or tablets. It is also possible to add GPS location data to the image using the information acquired from the smartphone or tablet. This is similar to applications available for other camera makes but is now improved and can be used with FinePix series or X series cameras.

Relating to the current camera market I was interested to read the results of a discussion with two top executives of Fujifilm, a small section of which is reproduced below.

Comment by Fujifilm executives – to Barney Britton of DP Review (Published 20 January 2016)

Toru Takahashi: We’d like to be at least in the top three companies in the camera business by market share.

TT: As you know, mirrorless cameras have many advantages over DSLRs. That is a fundamental fact. So we pursue this approach, while the other two manufacturers [Canon and Nikon] stay with DSLR. But I don’t think they will stay there forever!

BB: So you think that Canon and Nikon will be forced to move into mirrorless?

TT: They will. For sure. But the question is just how soon.

BB: And the other company of course is Sony…

TT: Sony has a big advantage, they make their own sensors. That is a very big advantage for them, but they are weak in lenses.

Toshihisa Iida: And they are weakened by having so many formats. APS-C, full-frame, [across both] DSLR and mirrorless. So their lens division must be under a lot of pressure!

With acknowledgement to Barney Britton and DP Review)

Olympus

The company announced a new model, the Olympus PEN-F, on 27 January. This is a model which fits into the line-up between the existing fairly compact PEN E-PL series and the top-of-the-range OM-D cameras which have the appearance of smaller DSLRs. In many respects the PEN-F bears a close resemblance to the Panasonic GX8 and inherits the same improved 20 megapixel sensor. It also has an electronic viewfinder, positioned at the far left (when viewed from the rear) and a fully articulated rear touch-sensitive screen. An unusual feature in modern cameras - Olympus has even brought back the traditional screw-in cable release option on the shutter release button. Another unusual feature, available on some other recent cameras, is the ability to use multi shot technology that enables the camera to produce 50 megapixel equivalent images in JPEG and an 80mp RAW file. This obviously is best for static scenes and performance while on a tripod but it does allow for superb detailed images when needed. There are many other new features, too numerous to mention, but the camera will appeal to those who value light weight and the number of external control wheels that give rapid access to so many functions.

Canon

The company announced a new flagship model on 2 February 2016. This is the Canon EOS 1DX Mark 2. It is the company's latest pro-level DSLR, now built around a 20.2MP CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF technology. The body is very similar to the earlier model but incorporates many new advanced features. These include improved autofocus system, giving 14 fps with AF/AE tracking, 61 point / 21 cross-type (all individually selectable) focus points, much improved continuous burst speed (utilising the new CFast 2.0™ card), touch-panel LCD screen for focusing, inbuilt GPS and 4K video capability.

Pentax full-frame camera coming soon

Another 'teaser' announcement has been made on the official Pentax website, as follows -. 'The HD PENTAX-D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR lens has a 17-element, 12-group optical construction featuring three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements, one anomalous-dispersion glass element, and three aspherical elements. It delivers high-contrast, high-resolution images with extra-fine details across the image field — from the centre to the edges — while effectively compensating for a variety of aberrations.

When mounted on a PENTAX 35mm full-frame digital SLR camera body, this lens can be used as a standard zoom lens, with a zoom ratio of approximately 2.9-times, covering focal-length ranges from ultra-wide angle to standard.'

The announcement was accompanied by a number of shadowy images, one of which we publish below.

Sony

 

On 3 February the company announced a long-awaited replacement for its A6000 camera. This is the A6300. This provides improvements in many areas. The previous model was renowned for its fast focusing and tracking capabilities. The new model with its '4D FOCUS™' system can lock focus on a subject in as little as 0.05 seconds, claimed to be the world’s fastest AF acquisition time. Focusing is further enhanced by a significant increase to 425 phase-detect points which reach out to the corners of the frame.

Capable of continuous shooting at up to 11 fps with AF the A6300's 425-point hybrid AF system features 'high-density' tracking algorithm. This dynamically activates AF points around a subject and adjusts them depending on the motion of the subject itself. Additionally, the A6300 is capable of uninterrupted live view at up to 8 fps, potentially addressing one of the biggest shortcomings of mirrorless cameras when it comes to fast action shooting.

At the same time Sony announced a new line-up of lenses for its full-frame cameras known as G Master (GM). These are the company's high-end lenses that sit above its 'G-series' lenses and will command a premium price. The first three GM lenses include FE 24-70mm F2.8, FE 85mm F1.4 and FE 70-200mm F2.8 OSS. The aim is for high resolution (50 lpmm), to match that which can be captured by the latest high megapixel sensors currently available, and to give superior bokeh. Aspherical lenses are much more difficult to manufacture than simple spherical types. Sony claim that their new lens elements achieve extreme surface precision that eliminates optical imperfections.

Canon EOS 100D and 1200D pricing

PF

Comments were made by Techman in the review of 2015 that mirrorless cameras were competing with conventional DSLRs on the basis of quality rather than attempting to undercut them on price. On a recent visit to Currys/PC World I was amazed to see just how cheap it is possible to purchase a basic Canon camera kit. The following prices are currently being promoted by Jessops.

Jessops – Canon EOS 100D + 18-15mm IS STM lens plus Tamron 70-300 mm lens £399.

Jessops – Canon EOS 1200D + 18-55 mm DC lens + Tamron 70-300 mm lens £289.

When you realise that the Tamron 70-300 mm lens alone is on sale at Jessops for £89.99 it highlights just how cheap the Canon bodies and kit lenses are.

Just a short time previously they had been offered with a Canon cash-back which made them even slightly cheaper.

 

 

And finally . . . . .

Hmmm . . . that last one was a bit overexposed and focus was not spot on. Perhaps f/5.6 at 1/250th second with ISO 200 should do it, and I'll set face recognition.

Follow-up

In Newsletter No. 74 of 16 October 2015 we featured some very amusing images by Markku Pajunen. In the Amateur Photographer edition of 19-26 December 2015 Technical Editor, Andy Westlake, chose another image by the same photographer as his 'image of the year'. I subsequently emailed Andy to refer him to the fact that similar images had featured in our Newsletter. I did not receive a response so was surprised when an edited version of my email appeared in the 'Inbox' (correspondence) of AP on 23 January 2016.

The item is reproduced below.