30 October 2013

Canon EOS 5D Mark III firmware update

Canon has updated the firmware for its EOS 5D Mark III camera.

You can download it from the Canon website.

Firmware Version 1.2.3 incorporates the following improvements and fixes (from the release notes):
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the flash may not fire depending on the timing of when the shutter button is pressed.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the AF microadjustment value may change.*
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the LCD monitor may show a line of false color along boundaries of high contrast.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the histogram of a LiveView image is incorrectly displayed when an HDMI cable is connected.
  • Enables the brightness of the camera's LCD monitor to be adjusted even when an HDMI cable is connected.
*The phenomenon listed in 2 was addressed with Firmware Version 1.2.1, and has been further improved with Firmware Version 1.2.3.

21 October 2013

Review: The Nikon D4 after more than a year of usage

I've been using the D4 for over a year now, so it is high time I evaluated it and gave it a practical review (as compared to my earlier, more theoretical, review based on pre-production models).

When the D4 was introduced, I was happy about many of its improvements. But there was also slight disappointment; not all I would have wanted to see in the new camera was done. And when I compared the new specs to Canon's 1Dx, I was almost tempted to switch (not really, but it goes to show how much I appreciated the improvements Canon put in their flagship camera). No wonder it took me 8 months to decide to finally buy the D4 as my primary camera, making the D3 a good second body for added flexibility (and backup). Great e.g., when shooting wildlife when having different focal lengths at the ready can be very helpful.

In the past year I have been using the D4 (and D3) in a wide range of shoots, from interior and architecture to wildlife. Both in good an (very) bad light. So how did the D4 hold up?


Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia)
Shot at ISO 6400, click to see crop at 100%
Though the D3 was no slouch at low light/high ISO photography, I had higher expectations of the D4 (certainly as the D3s already showed there was room for improvement here). I was not disappointed: with the D4 I am happily shooting up to ISO 6400 without bothering about noise, where with the D3 I was reluctant to go beyond ISO 3200. Sure there is visible noise at pixel level, but not only can you get rid of that by applying some mild noise reduction, it won't really show up in print anyway. I am picky by the way, and strive for optimal quality and resolution. If you're not too fussed about losing a bit of resolution, you can apply some more noise reduction and have adequate shots up to ISO 12800 for sure! Not bad.

An interesting note here is that from more than one Nikon / Canon switcher I have heard the story that they find their 1Dx to best the Nikon in the noise department. To be honest, I don't think this to be true though; it is a well known fact that where Nikon takes a very mild approach to in-camera processing, Canon is much more aggressive. I find it therefore very likely that Canon's results have had much more noise reduction applied than Nikon's and if you would apply the same noise reduction to both, Nikon's results should look at least as good. In this respect I trust the purely technical and objective measurements as done by DxO labs.

Verdict: Positive


With the D4 I now finally have a camera capable of video. I'm not much of a videographer (yet?), but I have shot a couple of video's with it and all I can say is that I'm quite happy. Especially the 2.7x crop mode where 1 video pixel is exactly one sensor pixel is very nice as it allows you to massively zoom in to your subject. Below video was shot in Denmark with a 600mm/f4 lens using the 2.7x crop mode, making it effectively a 1620mm lens, quite impressive…

Verdict: Positive


Here I can basically repeat what I wrote in my earlier report: I've always liked the handling of Nikon cameras, the new D4 has improved this even more. Especially the minor changes to the layout of the D4 as compared to the D3/D3s are very nice. Buttons are even better positioned and, the D4 held vertically now handles (almost) exactly as when held horizontally. The extra knob for changing the focus point took a bit of getting used to, but now I can no longer envision working without it! It's position and the fact that one is present in both horizontal and vertical orientation of the camera make this a really great addition.

On the handling side of things, the D4 now is finally capable of taking a series of bracketed shots in one go when using the self timer. Something Canon has had implemented for a long time already. Coupled with the exposure delay mode (minimising blur due to mirror-slap), you basically don't need to use a cable release any longer when taking bracketed shots for e.g., HDR photography. Nice.

Verdict: Positive

Memory Cards and Speed

Ok, it took an extra investment of a couple of new XQD cards and a card reader, but man, these new cards really fly! Shooting at ten frames a second for 7.5 seconds before your buffer runs out is really something. So much better than the just two seconds I had with the D3 (sure I could have invested in the buffer upgrade, but I thought €500 a bit much for it). The fast (and big) cards are also a boon for videographers. It is therefore surprising to see no other camera is yet using the new XQD format. Ah well, at least we now have a choice in cards from either Sony or Lexar which has brought down prices slightly.

Verdict: Neutral to Positive


Due to regulation changes in Japan, Nikon was forced to downgrade their very high capacity batteries to lower capacities. This has led to much aggravation amongst photographers as you ended up with yet another charger and set of spare batteries to buy (and they are not cheap!). The stupid thing was that even though the form factor stayed the same, there was no way to charge your old (e.g., D3) batteries with the new D4 charger. A big mistake. Interestingly there now seems to be an accessory available from Nikon to allow this, trouble is this BT-A10 adapter only works with a new MH-26a charger, not with the original D4 charger (MH-26). Sigh.

Verdict: Negative

Auto Focus

The specifications promised us better autofocus. And in one respect they certainly did deliver: I can use the autofocus under much worse lighting conditions than I could before. In this respect, the new AF system is definitely, and welcome so, improved.

What matters for me most though is the ability to follow a moving subject and keeping that in focus. Nikon was always well respected in this area, especially compared to Canon who were struggling here a bit sometimes. My hopes where therefore quite high.

I can't say I'm overwhelmed though. In fact, I have the feeling the D4 might actually be slightly worse than the D3 in this respect. The D4 does seem to focus faster, but it doesn't seem to follow as well as the D3. This is just a feeling though and I haven't done any scientific testing here. It is probably also the case that I am pushing my gear a bit more than before, but still. It kinda makes me jealous of the Canon 1Dx which I hear really shines in this area…

Verdict: Negative to Neutral


I do like the D4, and it certainly was a great upgrade to my D3, but I still think Nikon could (should) have done better in a lot of respects.

End verdict: Neutral to positive

Here's a (non-exhaustive) list of remarks/findings:


  • Two axis virtual horizon – no more need for a separate bubble level
  • Self timer multi shot – mostly gets rid of the requirement of a cable release
  • Buffer size – being able to shoot for 7.5 seconds at 10fps is awesome
  • Video – Full HD and a very versatile 2.7x crop mode
  • Noise – The ability to shoot up to ISO 6400 without too much noise is awesome
  • Auto ISO – Very easy to switch between auto and non-auto ISO
  • Ergonomics – Improved over the D3 (which was already good), the extra button for changing the focus point is also welcome


  • Megapixels – 16 is adequate, would have liked around 20 better though
  • Frame rate – 10fps is nice
  • Battery life – even though the battery is of lower capacity, I still get about the same number of shots as with my D3
  • Memory cards – XQD is really nice and fast but its a new format and only one slot is XQD, the other is still CF


  • Auto focus – doesn't seem to be as good as hoped
  • Saving settings – the use of memory banks for saving common settings is still a mess (luckily you don't really need them much as all frequently changed settings are at the press of a button anyway)
  • Battery – while I can sort of live with the fact that Nikon had to introduce a new battery, I can not live with the fact that you can't charge your old batteries in the new charger
  • Auto ISO – Why oh why do they still not allow you to configure you auto ISO settings from the “my menu”?


  • Fix all the negative points (some should even be doable in a firmware update, I think)
  • More megapixels so DX crop is still usable
  • A separate shooting menu for video and photography (so you can have e.g., different white balance settings, colour space, picture control, etc. for video an photo)

20 October 2013

New Nikon Lens: 58/1.4

On top of the two new cameras, Nikon also announced a new lens: the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G. This new lens brings back memories to the famous Noct-NIKKOR lenses and is designed to perform best wide open, delivering a silky smooth bokeh.

Type Type G AF-S lens with built-in CPU and F mount
Focal length 58mm
Maximum aperture f/1.4
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 9 elements in 6 groups (including 2 aspherical lens elements, and lens elements with a Nano Crystal Coat)
Angle of view Nikon film SLR and FX-format D-SLR cameras: 40° 50′
Nikon DX-format D-SLR cameras: 27° 20′
Focusing Autofocus controlled by Silent Wave Motor with separate focus ring for manual focus
Minimum focus distance 0.58 m (1.90 ft) from focal plane
Maximum reproduction ratio 0.13x
No. of diaphragm blades 9 (rounded diaphragm opening)
Diaphragm Fully automatic
Aperture range f/1.4-16
Filter-attachment size 72 mm (P = 0.75 mm)
Dimensions Approx. 85 mm maximum diameter x 70 mm (distance from camera lens mount flange)
Weight Approx. 385 g (13.6 oz)

New Nikon DSLR: the D5300

In addition to the recently introduced D610, Nikon also just presented an update to the D5x00 series: the new D5300. A DX format camera with built in Wi-Fi (a new feature for this type of camera!).

Full specs (from Nikon)

TypeSingle-lens reflex digital camera
Lens mountNikon F mount (with AF contacts)
Effective angle of viewNikon DX format; focal length equivalent to approx. 1.5x that of lenses with FX format angle of view
Effective pixels24.2 million
Image sensor23.5 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor
Total pixels24.78 million
Dust-reduction SystemImage sensor cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data
(optional Capture NX 2 software required)
Image size (pixels)6000 x 4000 (Large). 4496 x 3000 (Medium). 2992 x 2000 (Small)
File formatNEF (RAW): 12- or 14 bit, compressed. JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1 : 4), normal (approx. 1 : 8), or basic (approx. 1 : 16) compression. NEF (RAW)+JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
Picture Control SystemStandard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; selected Picture Control can be modified; storage for custom Picture Controls
MediaSD (Secure Digital) and UHS-I compliant SDHC and SDXC memory cards
File system DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0, DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras) 2.3, PictBridge
ViewfinderEye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
Frame coverageApprox. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical
MagnificationApprox. 0.82 x (50 mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, -1.0 m-1)
Eyepoint18 mm (-1.0 m-1; from center surface of viewfinder eyepiece lens)
Diopter adjustment-1.7 - +1.0 m-1
Focusing screenType B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen
Reflex mirrorQuick return
Lens apertureInstant return, electronically controlled
Compatible lensesAutofocus is available with AF-S and AF-I lenses. Autofocus is not available with other type G and D lenses, AF lenses (IX NIKKOR and lenses for the F3AF are not supported), and AI-P lenses. Non-CPU lenses can be used in mode M, but the camera exposure meter will not function. The electronic rangefinder can be used with lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.
TypeElectronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
Speed1/4000 - 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV; Bulb; Time
Flash sync speedX=1/200 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 s or slower
Release modeSingle frame, continuous L, continuous H, quiet shutter release, self-timer, delayed remote; ML-L3, quick-response remote; ML-L3; interval timer photography supported
Frame advance rateContinuous L : Up to 3 fps. Continuous H : Up to 5 fps (JPEG and 12-bit NEF/RAW) or 4 fps (14-bit NEF/RAW). Note: Frame rates assume continuous-servo AF, manual or shutterpriority auto exposure, a shutter speed of 1/250 s or faster, Release selected for Custom Setting a1 (AF-C priority selection), and other settings at default values.
Self-timer2 s, 5 s, 10 s, 20 s; 1-9 exposures
Metering modeTTL exposure metering using 2016-pixel RGB sensor
Metering methodMatrix metering: 3D color matrix metering II (type G, E, and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses). Center-weighted metering: Weight of 75% given to 8-mm circle in center of frame. Spot metering: Meters 3.5-mm circle (about 2.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point
Range (ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20 °C/68 °F)Matrix or center-weighted metering: 0-20 EV. Spot metering: 2-20 EV
Exposure meter couplingCPU
ModeAuto modes (auto; auto (flash off)); programmed auto with flexible program (P); shutter-priority auto (S); aperture-priority auto (A); manual (M); scene modes (portrait; landscape; child; sports; close up; night portrait; night landscape; party/indoor; beach/snow; sunset; dusk/dawn; pet portrait; candlelight; blossom; autumn colors; food); special effects modes (night vision; color sketch; toy camera effect; miniature effect; selective color; silhouette; high key; low key; HDR painting)
Exposure compensationCan be adjusted by -5 - +5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV in P, S, A, and M modes
BracketingExposure bracketing: 3 shots in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV. White balance bracketing: 3 shots in steps of 1. Active D-Lighting bracketing: 2 shots
Exposure lockLuminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
ISO sensitivity (Recommended Exposure Index)ISO 100-12800 in steps of 1/3 EV. Can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.7, or 1 EV (ISO 25600 equivalent) above ISO 12800; auto ISO sensitivity control available
Active D-LightingAuto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, Off
AutofocusNikon Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, 39 focus points (including 9 cross-type sensor), and AF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1 ft 8 in.-9 ft 10 in.)
Detection range-1 - +19 EV (ISO 100, 20 °/68 °F)
Lens servoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status. Manual focus (MF): Electronic rangefinder can be used
Focus pointCan be selected from 39 or 11 focus points
AF-area modeSingle-point AF, 9-, 21-, or 39- point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, auto-area AF
Focus lockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Built-in flashAuto, portrait, child, close up, night portrait, party/indoor, pet portrait, color sketch, toy camera effect: Auto flash with auto pop-up. P, S, A, M, food: Manual pop-up with button release
Guide NumberApprox. 12/39, 13/43 with manual flash (m/ft, ISO 100, 20 °C/68 °F)
Flash controlTTL: i-TTL flash control using 2016-pixel RGB sensor is available with built-in flash and SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, SB-400, or SB-300; i-TTL balanced fill-flash for digital SLR is used with matrix and center-weighted metering, standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR with spot metering
Flash modeAuto, auto with red-eye reduction, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye reduction, fill-flash, red-eye reduction, slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction, rear-curtain with slow sync, rear-curtain sync, off
Flash compensation-3 - +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
Flash-ready indicatorLights when built-in flash or optional flash unit is fully charged; flashes after flash is fired at full output
Accessory shoeISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts and safety lock
Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, or SB-700 as a master flash or SU-800 as commander; Flash Color Information Communication supported with all CLS-compatible flash units
Sync terminalAS-15 sync terminal adapter (available separately)
White balanceAuto, incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual, all except preset manual with fine-tuning.
Live View
Lens servoAutofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); full-time-servo AF (AF-F). Manual focus (MF)
AF-area modeFace-priority AF, wide-area AF, normal-area AF, subject-tracking AF
AutofocusContrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected)
Automatic scene selectionAvailable in auto and auto (flash off) modes
MeteringTTL exposure metering using main image sensor
Metering methodMatrix
Frame size (pixels) and frame rate1920 x 1080, 60p (progressive)/50p/30p/25p/24p, high/normal. 1280 x 720, 60p/50p, high/normal. 640 x 424, 30p/25p, high/normal. Frame rates of 30p (actual frame rate 29.97 fps) and 60p (actual frame rate 59.94 fps) are available when NTSC is selected for video mode. 25p and 50p are available when PAL is selected for video mode. Actual frame rate when 24p is selected is 23.976 fps.
File formatMOV
Video compressionH.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding
Audio recording formatLinear PCM
Audio recording deviceBuilt-in or external stereo microphone; sensitivity adjustable
ISO sensitivityISO 100-12800; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.7, or 1 EV (ISO 25600 equivalent) above ISO 12800
Monitor8.1 cm/3.2-in. (3 : 2), approx. 1037k-dot (720 x 480 x 3 = 1,036,800 dots), vari-angle TFT monitor with 170 ° viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment
PlaybackFull-frame and thumbnail (4, 12, or 80 images or calendar) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, photo and/or movie slide shows, histogram display, highlights, auto image rotation, picture rating, and image comment (up to 36 characters)
Video outputNTSC, PAL
HDMI outputType C mini-pin HDMI connector
Accessory terminalWireless remote controllers: WR-1, WR-R10 (available separately). Remote cords: MC-DC2 (available separately). GPS units: GP-1/GP-1A (available separately)
Audio inputStereo mini-pin jack (3.5mm diameter); supports optional ME-1 stereo microphones
StandardsIEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Communications protocolsIEEE 802.11b: DSSS/CCK. IEEE 802.11g: OFDM
Operating frequency2412-2462 MHz (channels 1-11)
Range (line of sight)Approximately 30 m/98 ft (assumes no interference; range may vary with signal strength and presence or absence of obstacles)
Data rate54 Mbps. Maximum logical data rates according to IEEE standard. Actual rates may differ.
SecurityAuthentication: Open system, WPA2-PSK. Encryption: AES
Wireless setupSupports WPS
Access protocolsInfrastructure
Location data
Receiving frequency1575.42 MHz (C/A code)
Supported languagesArabic, Bengali, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Power source
BatteryOne rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL14a battery
AC adapterEH-5b AC adapter; requires EP-5A power connector (available separately)
Tripod socket1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
Dimensions (WxHxD)Approx. 125 x 98 x 76 mm (49.2 x 3.9 x 3 in.)
WeightApprox. 530 g (1 lb 2.7 oz) with battery and memory card but without body cap; approx. 480 g/1 lb 0.9 oz (camera body only)
Operating environment
Temperature0 °C - 40 °C (+32 °F - 104 °F)
Humidity85% or less (no condensation)
Supplied accessoriesBS-1 accessory shoe cover, DK-25 rubber eyecup, BF-1B body cap, EN-EL14a rechargeable Li-ion battery (with terminal cover), MH-24 battery charger, AN-DC3 strap, UC-E17 USB cable, EG-CP16 audio/video cable, DK-5 eyepiece cap, ViewNX 2 CD, Reference CD (contains the Reference Manual)

Nikon releases Camera Control Pro 2.15.0

Nikon released a new version of their Camera Control Pro application for remote control of a camera from a computer using either a wired connection or a wireless connection. The only change in version 2.15.0 is the added support for the D610 camera.

The new version can be downloaded from the Nikon support sites: EU / USA.

14 October 2013

Nikon releases ViewNX 2.81

Nikon has released an update for it's image browsing and editing program ViewNX. The new 2.81 version adds support for the new D610 and Nikon 1 AW1 cameras.

Fixes and Enhancements

Both Mac and Windows versions
  • Support for the D610, and the Nikon 1 AW1 has been added. 
Mac version only
  • Frame rate settings of 50fps and 60fps have been added for Size settings of 1280 x 720(16:9) and 1920 × 1080(16:9) in the Create movie dialog when File > Create Movie... is selected in Nikon Movie Editor.
    However, the following two conditions must be met to select a Frame rate of 50fps or 60fps.
    • Movies added to the storyboard must have been recorded at a frame rate of 50p or 60p, and they must be originals (unedited by any movie editing software).
    • File type must be set to a type other than MOV (MotionJPEG/Linear PCM).
As always you can download the new version from the Nikon support sites: EU / USA.

8 October 2013

Nikon announces the new D610 DSLR

Today Nikon announced the successor of the affordable Nikon D600 full frame camera. The most notable updates of the D610 are improved improved white balance and shutter mechanism (with new quiet continuous shooting options and a slightly higher frame-rate).

The Nikon D610 will be available in the shops from 18 October at a price of around $1999/€1969.

Full specifications (from the Nikon website)

Quality comes at a price: the new Zeiss 55mm/1.4 lens

The lens is specifically designed for high megapixel (30+) DSLRs and is said to deliver the best results (when compared to similar lenses). The new Zeiss OTUS 55mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*, comes at a very hefty price though. However, with a price of nearly $4000, it is definitely not a lens for the casual shooter…

Oh, and like the other high quality Zeiss lenses, it is a manual focus only lens (but that should not surprise you).

The lens is available in Canon (ZE) and Nikon (ZF.2) mount.