Neptune Photo Newsletter
May 2016 Volume 52
by Steve Zimic
Fuji X70 Large Sensor Compact
Somehow this little gem flew under my radar when it was announced back in January so I thought I'd give it a look. Fuji's managed to squeeze quite a bit of performance into a very compact package with a 16MP APSC sized X-Trans sensor and a fixed 28mm f2.8 lens. Probably the main feature that allows for such a diminutive camera is the absence of a viewfinder. Instead Fuji gives you an articulated screen that tilts downward 45?? and up to 180?? for those all important selfies. The screen also has touch screen capability for focus selection and shutter activation - a Fuji first. Perhaps even more useful is the touch-screen's ability to zoom and scroll through shot images.
Like all the X series cameras, the amount and placement of controls is excellent making the camera a pleasure to use. Rather clever on Fuji's part, is the ability to change the function of one of the many buttons by simply pressing and holding it until all the options appear on screen, avoiding a trip to the menu - sweet. Carried over from the older X100, the aperture control is conveniently placed around the lens with two protruding tabs for easy access. Body construction is all metal including the knurled dials on top of the camera. The somewhat retro styling can be further enhanced by ordering a silver version.
There is a shoe mounted, passive optical viewfinder available for $200. Perhaps more appealing though is the wide angle attachment lens (WCL-X70), that brings the effective focal length to 21mm for the rather affordable price of $200. Fuji claims no loss of image quality with this lens and of course there's no loss in F-stop values. The same claim is made for the wide attachment lens for the X100 - which I have and totally agree with. With Fuji's renowned image quality and a street price of only $699, this would make a great street camera or just carry it around as an everyday camera. More info can be found on Fuji's website.
Ricoh GR II
The Fuji X70 (above) does have some very close competition with this camera, and costs $100 less at the moment. From a size perspective they are very close, with the Ricoh being a bit thinner due to the collapsing lens and lack of articulated display. Both cameras have metal bodies, however ergonomically I would give the edge to Fuji with more external and intuitive controls. Where the Ricoh shines though is with its APSC 16MP Foveon sensor, which is sure to deliver superior image quality. According to reports I've read, the lens quality may have an edge over the Fuji, most notably in the corners. Another advantage is NFC communication with your smart device and a retractable lens with built in lens cap. So if you like the idea of a compact camera that rivals the performance of a DSLR, you may want to give this camera a closer look here.
Olympus Tough TG-870
As the name suggests, this is one of those beat me up cameras that will go 50 feet under water and withstand a crushing of over 200 pounds. Where this model stands alone from the competition is with its ultra wide 21-105mm equivalent optically stabilized lens which is ideal not only for underwater photography but landscapes as well. Also totally unique for an underwater camera is the articulated display, flipping a full 180?? vertical. Imaging is done via a 1/(2/3) inch 16 MP sensor which is pretty typical in performance to most ultra compact cameras on the market, so don't expect spectacular 16x20 prints. Like the previous model GPS is included and upgraded to deliver faster satellite acquisition. Video is 1080P so with its ultra wide lens this makes a great action cam for any sport in any weather conditions and down to 14??F. For a little over $200 this is one 'tough' deal to beat. Check it out on the Olympus site here.
Camera Shipment Delays
Due to the recent earthquake in Japan, there are likely to be significant delays to certain products. Besides the tragic loss of life, many factories have suffered serious damage or are in an unstable condition. Sony has shut down their sensor production factory and Nikon has announced long delays for their new DL, A and B series compacts. I imagine other delays not yet reported will ensue, so be patient and say a prayer for our friends in Japan.
Nikon D7200 version 1.01 - Fixes a bug where static could be heard during movie recording. Also a problem with negative exposure compensation not being applied to raw files when performing in camera editing has been fixed. Be sure to save any custom settings before doing the upgrade.
Leica SL Version 2.0 - Focusing points go from 49 to 529 and a new top shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec is added.
Sony A7R II version 3.20 and A7S II version 2.10 - This firmware allows video in XAVC S format to be recorded to a standard SDHC class 10 card. Formerly SDXC cards were required. There are some recording restrictions when using the SDHC card, so read the notes associated with the firmware to see if it's appropriate for you.
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