PENTAX 645D Review

April 27th, 2010 43 Comments   Posted in Digital SLR Cameras

Pentax 645D Review

PENTAX 645D

PENTAX’s First Medium-Format Digital SLR Camera:

Designed to be the Top of Medium-Format Digital SLR Cameras,

Thanks to Super-High-Resolution Images

HOYA CORPORATION PENTAX Imaging Systems Division is pleased to

announce the launch of the PENTAX 645D lens-interchangeable, medium-format

digital SLR camera. Thanks to the incorporation of a large image sensor, equal in

performance to professional-standard digital camera backs, this high-performance

model delivers super-high-resolution images with approximately 40 effective

megapixels. It also offers outstanding dependability and superb operability and

maneuverability to make outdoor shooting effortless and comfortable for demanding

photographers.

The PENTAX 645D has been developed to provide super-high-resolution images

produced by large image sensors — something previously available only on

professional models — to serious landscape and outdoor photographers. It combines

exceptional image quality with excellent maneuverability and outstanding reliability

to simplify professional-level outdoor shooting. Thanks to the incorporation of a

large, high-performance image sensor (measuring 44mm by 33mm) and PENTAXoriginal

image-processing technology, it produces extra-sharp, super-high-resolution

images with approximately 40 effective megapixels. It features remarkable

durability and dependability, thanks to its lightweight but solidly built body

featuring a magnesium-steel-alloy frame, reinforced glass LCD panel protectors and

a reliable dustproof, weather-resistant construction. In addition, it is designed to be

compatible with the majority of the existing PENTAX 645 system, so that current

PENTAX 645-series camera users can take advantage of their valuable assets,

including high-performance smc PENTAX 645 interchangeable lenses.

Major Features

1. Unprecedented image quality

(1) Super-high-resolution images made possible by approximately

40 effective megapixels

The PENTAX 645D incorporates a high-performance CCD image sensor produced

by Kodak. It measures 44mm by 33mm, and is approximately 1.7 times larger than

its 35mm-format counterparts. Thanks to approximately 40 effective megapixels, it

assures a wide dynamic range to faithfully reproduce the prevailing ambience and

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the sense of depth in super-high-resolution images that are rich in gradation and

truthful in texture description. In order to bring out the full potential of the lens and

the image sensor and assure the highest level of image-resolving power, the CCD

unit is designed with no low-pass filters.

(2) High-performance, high-speed PRIME II imaging engine

The PENTAX 645D features the acclaimed, PENTAX-original PRIME (PENTAX

Real Image Engine) II as its imaging engine. Thanks to its high-speed dataprocessing

capacity and new algorithm exclusively programmed for medium-format

digital SLR cameras, this high-performance imaging engine produces super-highquality

images rich in gradation and faithful in color reproduction, while allowing

speedy data transmission of large-volume image data — even RAW-format images

as large as some 50MB per file.

(3) 14-bit A/D converter for faithful conversion of image data to digital signals

The PENTAX 645D features a high-performance A/D converter, which faithfully

converts the large volume of analog image data output by the large CCD image

sensor to digital signals carrying an extensive amount of image data, including

resolution and gradation.

2. Solid, maneuverable body

The PENTAX 645D’s main frame is made of lightweight but strong magnesiumsteel

alloy, while the chassis is made of diecast aluminum to minimize the expansion

and extension caused by heat and also to optimize kinematic accuracy and thermal

stability. The LCD panels — one on the camera’s top panel, another on the back

panel — are covered with tempered glass plates for extra protection. The PENTAX

645D’s body is also designed to be a compact and highly maneuverable mediumformat

camera, despite the incorporation of such dependable features as a dust-proof,

weather-resistant construction with 70 special seals, outstanding cold-resistant

performance to assure solid operation at a temperature as low as –10°C, and a newly

designed shutter unit with a top shutter speed of 1/4000 second that can withstand as

many as 50,000 shutter releases.

3. Dual SD/SDHC memory card slots

The PENTAX 645D has a pair of memory card slots for the recording of images on

both SD and SDHC memory cards. This dual-slot design gives the photographer

extra data-storage options: for instance, recorded images can be assigned to different

cards according to recording format (such as RAW or JPEG), or one of the cards can

be used as the backup of the other. The settings for each memory card slot can be

easily made by dedicated button.

4. Dependable DR II mechanism to minimize dust spots

The PENTAX 645D comes equipped with the highly dependable DR (Dust

Removal) II mechanism, which effectively minimizes annoying dust spots on

recorded images, even when the lenses are changed in dust-prone outdoor settings.

By shifting UV/IR-cut filters placed in front of the CCD image sensor at supersonic

speed using a piezoelectric element, this mechanism effectively and efficiently

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shakes dust off the image sensor. Thanks to the user-friendly dust-alert system, the

photographer can check at a quick glance for dust adhering to the image sensor prior

to the actual shooting.

5. Newly designed, high-precision 11-point wide-frame AF sensor

The PENTAX 645D’s new SAFOX IX + wide-frame autofocus system features 11

sensor points (with nine cross-type sensors positioned in the middle) to assure the

extra-high-precision focusing demanded of medium-format digital SLR cameras. To

develop this sophisticated AF system, the entire optical system was redesigned, at

the same time with the addition of the new functionality to analyze and make use of

the light sources data in the field of view.

6. Advanced 77-segment multi-pattern metering

The PENTAX 645D employs a state-of-the-art, 77-segment multi-pattern metering

system to assure super-high-accuracy light metering. The exposure accuracy is

further enhanced by collecting such additional data as image orientation (horizontal

or vertical) and the distance to and magnification of the subject using the sensors

installed inside the camera body, with the obtained data incorporated into exposure

calculations.

7. Large, easy-to-see optical viewfinder

Incorporated in the PENTAX 645D’s finder unit, a trapezoid-shaped glass prism not

only assures an approximately 98% field of view, but also greatly contributes to the

downsizing of the camera body. Coupled with a bright, easy-to-focus Natural-

Bright-Matte focusing screen, the PENTAX 645D’s viewfinder offers a large, clear

view of the subject.

8. Custom Image function to create desired visual effects with ease

The PENTAX 645D’s Custom Image function lets the user easily control an image’s

finishing touches to more precisely reflect the user’s creative intentions, or to more

faithfully reproduce the ambience of the scene. The user can select one of eight

modes, including the new Reversal Film mode designed to create images with the

colors that are typical of reversal film. In addition, all parameters — such as

saturation, hue, contrast, sharpness, key, and highlight/shadow contrast — can be

easily adjusted to desired levels, so that the photographer can shoot images with

great ease.

9. Versatile, multi-mode exposure system for faithful reproduction of creative

intentions

(1) Hyper Program function

The PENTAX 645D’s Hyper Program function allows the user to instantly switch

from Programmed AE mode to Shutter- or Aperture-Priority AE mode with a simple

turn of the electric dials positioned around the grip. A single push of the green

button shifts the exposure mode back to the original Programmed AE mode.

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(2) Hyper Manual function

When shooting in the Metered Manual mode, the PENTAX 645’s Hyper Manual

mode lets the user to instantly set the proper exposure for the subject with a single

push of the green button.

(3) Sensitivity-Priority mode

The unique Sensitivity-Priority (Sv) mode automatically selects the optimum

combination of aperture and shutter speed for the user-selected sensitivity. The

sensitivity can be shifted swiftly by electronic dial on the back panel. The variable

amount of the ISO could be configured to either 1/2 or 1/3 steps per click.

(4) Shutter/Aperture-Priority mode

Taking full advantage of the unique capability of digital cameras for the automatic

shifting of sensitivity at any time, the Shutter/Aperture-Priority (TAv) mode

automatically selects the most appropriate sensitivity for the user-selected

aperture/shutter-speed combination. It allows the user to effortlessly experiment

with a greater range of photographic expressions.

10. Large, easy-to-view 3.0-inch LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots

Positioned on the camera’s back panel, a large 3.0-inch color LCD monitor with

approximately 921,000 dots provides a clear, bright view of onscreen images and

menus. Since its wide-view design allows quick, effortless confirmation of the

monitor image from approximately 170 degrees both horizontally and vertically, the

photographer has little difficulty shooting images from low and high angles. The

LCD monitor is also treated with exclusive AR (Anti-Reflection) coating to

minimize reflections on the screen, even in the outdoor locations under bright

sunshine.

11. Long battery life

The PENTAX 645D is powered by a large-capacity, rechargeable lithium-ion

battery, which can capture approximately 800 images* when fully charged.

* Under testing conditions prescribed by PENTAX, when using a rechargeable D-LI90 lithium-ion

battery with no flash.

12. Other features

1) HDR (high dynamic range) function to create one composite image

with an extra-wide gradation range from three images with different exposures

2) Dynamic-Range Expansion function to compensate for both whitewashed

(excessively overexposed) and blacked-out (excessively underexposed) areas

3) Digital Level function for easy checking of the image’s levels

4) Automatic compensation of distortion and lateral chromatic aberration

(available in combination with the D FA 645- and FA 645- series lenses)

5) Versatile white-balance control system, including the CTE mode

designed to emphasize the dominant color components of the

captured images, which works especially well with such scene like sunset.

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6) Mirror shock/operation-noise reduction function to assure smooth,

quiet operation of the mirror during shooting

7) Attachment of copyright credits on recorded images

8) Compatible with the SDM (Supersonic Direct-drive Motor)

autofocus mechanism, designed to assure smooth, quiet operation

using the supersonic motor installed inside SDM lenses

9) HDMI terminal (for type C mini connectors) for high-resolution

image data output

10) User-friendly, color-classified control buttons/switches,

based on the color universal design concept

11) PENTAX Digital Camera Utility 4 software package, including

a RAW-data processing application (based on the popular

SILKYPIX RAW-data processing engine developed

by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory) and browser application

SIGMA AF 70-200/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Lens Review

April 24th, 2010 114 Comments   Posted in SLR Lenses

The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the new Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG OS HSM.This large aperture telephoto zoom lens incorporates Sigma’s original Optical Stabilizer function.

The lens covers a medium telephoto range of focal lengths from 70mm to 200mm and has a large maximum aperture of F2.8 throughout the entire zoom range. The OS (Optical Stabilizer) function offers the use of shutter speeds approximately 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible.  For Sony and Pentax mount, the built-in OS function of this lens can be used even if the camera body is equipped with an image sensor shift anti-shake system.

As compensation for camera shake is visible in the view finder, the photographer can easily check for accurate focus and ensure there is no subject movement.  Two FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have the performance equal to fluorite glass, and three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements provide excellent correction of color aberration.

High image quality is assured throughout the entire zoom range and an optimum optical power layout provides superior optical quality in all shooting ranges from close-up to infinity. Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghost.  This lens incorporates HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), ensuring a quiet and high speed AF as well as full-time manual focus capability.

The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 140cm (55.1”) throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:8.  The rounded 9 blade diaphragm creates an attractive blur to the out of focus images.  This lens is equipped with a Petal-type hood.  For digital cameras with an APS-C size image sensor, a dedicated hood adapter, which expands the length of the lens hood, is supplied.

Buy the Sigma AF 70-200/2.8 EX

JVC Everio GZ-HM550B Review

April 24th, 2010 109 Comments   Posted in Digital Video Cameras

JVC have completed their latest camcorder with Bluetooth, but then you might automatically assume the functionality of wireless short-range should be used to transfer media, you’re wrong. In reality, the JVC Everio GZ-HM550 uses Bluetooth technology for remote control, GPS geotagging, and even for a good monitoring using a hands-free.

Regarding the technical specifications of photography, the GZ-HM550 has a 10.6-megapixel CMOS which can record Full HD and enter 9-megapixel Stills, save files to its 32 GB of internal storage or SDHC card SD /. There is a Konica Minolta 16x zoom, face detection and recording time elapsed, and you can configure the camera to trigger automatically when motion is detected.

Include an app, no word on which platforms are supported allows users to control the recording, and playback zoom. Otherwise, you can pair a Bluetooth GPS puck and use it to geotag images and movies. Footage will automatically sync with Google Earth once you transfer to your computer. Finally, you can connect a Bluetooth headset, allowing you to monitor either during recording audio through the microphone GZ-HM550, or overlay track a director yourself. All this has a price, however, the JVC Everio GZ-HM550 is on sale now

Buy JVC GZ-HM550

Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM Lens Review

April 24th, 2010 117 Comments   Posted in SLR Lenses

The Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM is the first ultra wide zoom lens with a minimum focal length of 8mm, designed specifically for APS-C size image sensors. The Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens has an equivalent angle of view of a 12-24mm lens when used on digital cameras with an APS-C size image sensor.

The wide-angle of view from 121.2 degrees* produces striking images with exaggerated perspective, enabling photographers to emphasize the subject. Four FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have the performance equal to fluorite glass, compensate for color aberration. One hybrid aspherical lens and two glass mold elements give excellent correction for distortion and astigmatism. Incorporating an inner focusing system, the lens produces high definition images throughout the entire zoom range. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting while superior peripheral brightness ensures high contrast images throughout the entire zoom range.

The Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens incorporates HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor), ensuring quiet and high speed AF as well as full-time manual focus capability. It has a minimum focusing distance of 24cm throughout the entire zoom range which allows photographers to emphasize the subject by creating exaggerated perspectives. This lens has a compact construction with an overall length of 105.7mm and a maximum diameter of 75mm.

Buy the Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens

Sony DSC-W370 Cyber-Shot Review

April 17th, 2010 76 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370 digital camera is based around a 1/2.3″-type 14.1 effective megapixel Sony SuperHAD CCD image sensor with RGB color filter array, coupled to a Sony-branded 7x optical zoom lens. The Sony W370′s lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a rather tight 34mm wide angle to a useful 238mm telephoto. The lens has a two-step aperture with ND filter, which offers either F3.6 or F7.1 at wide angle; at telephoto the maximum aperture is F5.6, and the minimum aperture isn’t stated. Autofocusing is possible to a minimum of ten centimeters at wide angle, or 100 centimeters at telephoto. The camera can capture 4:3 aspect ratio images at up to 4,320 x 3,240 pixel resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio images at up to 4,320 x 2,432 pixels, or 30 frames-per-second video at 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) resolution or below with monaural audio, using MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 compression. In addition, the W370 includes Sony’s Sweep Panorama function for the first time in a CCD-based Cyber-shot camera, allowing automatic creation of a 243-, 167-, 127- or 88-degree panoramas in-camera by simply sweeping the lens across the subject.

On the rear panel of the Sony Cyber-shot W370 is a 2.7-inch TFT Clear Photo LCD panel with 100% coverage, and a resolution of 230,400 dots. This serves as the only method of framing and reviewing images, given that the Sony W370 doesn’t feature an optical viewfinder. The Sony DSC-W370 has a 9-point autofocus system, and does include a face detection and recognition system, capable of detecting up to eight faces in a scene and differentiating between children and adults. This capability is used to provide a Smile Shutter function that automatically triggers the shutter when your subject is smiling, as well as both anti-blink and blink-detection features. The W370 offers three methods for determining exposures – multi-pattern, center-weighted or spot metering. Shutter speeds from 2 to 1/1,600 second are possible under automatic control, and sensitivities ranging from ISO 80 to 3,200 equivalents are on offer, with ISO 80 to 1,600 available under automatic control. 2.0EV of exposure compensation is available, in 1/3 EV steps. The DSC-W370 also offers Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, useful for combatting blur caused by camera shake without adversely affecting image quality.

Nine white balance settings are available, including auto and seven presets, plus a manual white balance setting. As well as Intelligent Auto and Program modes, the W370 offers a selection of ten scene modes – High Sensitivity, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Soft Snap, Landscape, Beach, Snow, Gourmet, Pet, and Sweep Panorama – which offer a modicum of control over the look of images. There’s also an intelligent scene mode which can automatically select from a subset of eight scene modes – twilight, twilight portrait, twilight using a tripod, backlight, backlight portrait, landscape, macro and portrait – as appropriate. The Sony W370 includes a four-mode flash strobe with red-eye reduction capability. Flash range is stated as 0.2 to 5.0 meters at wide angle, or 0.5 to 3.2 meters at telephto, when using automatic ISO sensitivity. A two- or ten-second self timer allows the photographer to get in the picture themselves, or to avoid camera shake caused by pressing the shutter button when shooting on a tripod.

Images and movies can be recorded on Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick Duo, PRO Duo (Mark 2 only), PRO Duo High Speed, or PRO-HG Duo cards, as well as the more common Secure Digital and Secure Digital High Capacity cards. 19MB of internal memory is also available, enough to capturing a few of the most important photos should you forget to bring a flash card along. The Sony W370 includes HDMI high definition and NTSC / PAL standard definition video output connectivity, as well as USB 2.0 High Speed data connectivity. Power comes courtesy of a proprietary NP-BK1 Infolithium battery pack.

Sony DSC-W370 Cyber-Shot