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  • BCN Retail shows Canon catching Sony in the Japanese full-frame MILC market, Nikon stagnant — for now

    BCN Retail, a Japanese analyst firm that collects daily sales data of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras from online and in-person points of sale in Japan, has published (translated) its latest numbers, showing the breakdown of Japanese domestic market share in the full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) market.

    BCN Retail starts its report with partially encouraging news, noting the camera market, at least in Japan, has almost entirely recovered from the pandemic drop, with unit sales in the month of September being down just 2% and revenue from those sales down just 10% year-over-year (YoY). Lower numbers YoY is never a good thing, but considering the state of the camera market even pre-pandemic, these drops aren't terrible.

    According to BCN Retail’s latest numbers, Canon and Panasonic have seen a rise in market share over the past few months, while Nikon has more or less stayed even. Meanwhile, both Sony and Sigma have seen their market shares drop over the past few months.

    Full-frame mirrorless market share numbers: Brown (Sony), Red (Canon), Yellow (Nikon), Blue (Panasonic), Grey (Sigma). The dark blue and red bars at the bottom show unit sales and revenue (as a percentage of overall interchangeable lens camera (ILC) camera sales), respectively.

    BCN Retail says Canon’s rise in market share — now 34.7% — can be attributed to the release of its R5 and R6 mirrorless cameras, while Panasonic’s rise — now 5.8% — is attributed to the launch of its S5. Nikon’s market share saw a small increase in July, which could likely be attributed to the release of its entry-level Z5, but since August its market share has more or less stayed stagnant, sitting at roughly 13%. It’s possible its forthcoming Z6 II and Z7 II mirrorless cameras could give the company a boost, though.

    Meanwhile, Sony has seen its market share drop from roughly 60% back in May to now just 43.9%, only 9% ahead of Canon who, at the start of the year, had just 15% of the market share. Sigma, too, has seen its market share drop to just 2.6% after once being ahead of both Nikon and Panasonic back in May when the FP sales were hot.

    The Canon EOS R5 was the most popular full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) of September, according to BCN Retail.

    It’s worth noting these market share numbers are specific to the Japanese market and greatly impacted by new cameras launched within a given month or quarter.

    Back in the summer of 2018, Sony effectively had 100% of the full-frame MILC market share, as there were no other competitors. Within six months of both Canon and Nikon introducing their respective full-frame mirrorless cameras, Sony’s market share was effectively halved and since then, it’s been further chipped away at by Canon.

    This doesn't necessarily mean Canon or Nikon were eating into Sony sales at the beginning when the two first entered the market, as you can see unit volume also rose when Canon and Nikon introduced their mirrorless cameras, but now that sales have more or less returned to their pre-pandemic volume and Sony is further dropping in market share, it is possible we're starting to see Canon starting to pull away some of Sony's customers a bit.

    Canon EOS RP (left), Nikon Z5 (right).

    What should be interesting to see is whether Nikon’s new Z6 II and Z7 II take more market share from Canon or Sony or is simply converting more DSLR users and therefore adding to the sales volume rather than taking from elsewhere in the full-frame MILC market. In the past, it seems Canon’s numbers are more affected by the rise and fall of Nikon’s market share, whereas Sony’s are more affected by the rise and fall of Canon’s market share, but even with the charts, it's difficult to get the full picture without knowing the precise number of units being sold and the price at which they're selling for—two numbers that prove challenging to extrapolate from BCN Retail's numbers or even CIPA.

    BCN Retail also notes that full-frame sales have hit 10.7% of the overall interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market, marking the first time it’s been in double-digits. Revenue from full-frame MILC, as a percentage of the overall ILC market, also saw a dramatic jump to 25%. These are both the highest-ever numbers for the full-frame market, but BCN Retail does note this is because the average cost of a full-frame MILC tends to be 2.3x as much as a crop sensor ILC —¥230,000 (~$2,200) to ¥100,000 ($955), respectively.

  • NASA uses infrared imaging to discover water on sunlit surface of the Moon

    NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has used its onboard Faint Object infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) to discover water molecules on the sunlit surface of the Moon. For the first time, there are indications that water may be distributed across the Moon's surface, and not limited to just cold, dark areas of the lunar surface.

    SOFIA's infrared camera, used in conjunction with a 106-inch diameter telescope, picked up 'the specific wavelength unique to water molecules, at 6.1 microns, and discovered a relatively surprising concentration in sunny Clavius Crater.' This crater is one of the largest craters visible from Earth and is in the Moon's southern hemisphere.

    Casey Honniball is the lead author who published the results as part of her graduate thesis work at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Of the discovery, Honniball says, 'Prior to the SOFIA observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration. But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like drain cleaner. Without a thick atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should just be lost to space. Yet, somehow we're seeing it. Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there.' If you'd like to read the full paper, it has been published in Nature Astronomy.

    Data gathered using SOFIA's onboard camera shows water in Clavius Crater in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million, 'roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface.' Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters says, 'We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon. Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.'

    It's not a lot of water, about 1% of the water found in the Sahara desert, but it's a significant discovery. The work of the SOFIA team has uncovered new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the airless Moon. Further, water is a critical resource in deep space exploration. NASA's Artemis program is keen to learn more about the presence of water on the Moon, and ideally, discover a way to access water in its pursuit of establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2030.

    'Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers,' said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.' Bleacher continues, 'If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries.'

    As to how the water molecules ended up on the surface remains an unanswered question. One theory is that 'Micrometeorites raining down on the lunar surface, carrying small amounts of water, could deposit the water on the lunar surface upon impact.' Another theory involves a two-step process 'whereby the Sun's solar wind delivers hydrogen to the lunar surface and causes a chemical reaction with oxygen-baring minerals in the soil to create hydroxyl' which is then transformed into water by radiation from micrometeorites.

    'This illustration highlights the Moon’s Clavius Crater with an illustration depicting water trapped in the lunar soil there, along with an image of NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) that found sunlit lunar water.' Image and caption credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter

    SOFIA, which is a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner, typically focuses on very distant objects, such as black holes, galaxies and star clusters. In fact, the newly-published results are from SOFIA's very first mission looking at the Moon. The team was essentially testing the tracking capabilities of its equipment, and this test produced a significant discovery. Additional flights will take a further look at the lunar surface.

    SOFIA's standard observations take place during a 10-hour overnight flight and captures images at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths. You can view some of the images it has captured by clicking here.

    This is far from the first time NASA's camera technology has produced meaningful, significant scientific discovery. Looking to the future, NASA's Perseverance is currently about halfway to Mars, carrying a rover outfitted with a record-breaking 19 cameras. These cameras will capture incredibly detailed images of the Martian landscape.

  • Report: Zeiss' full-frame Android-powered ZX1 camera to be released on October 29, cost $6K

    Three weeks ago, the long-awaited Zeiss ZX1 camera reappeared for pre-order on B&H Photo after months and months of silence regarding the availability of the Android-powered mirrorless camera. While B&H has since pulled its listing, a new report from Nokishita claims the camera will be available on October 29 with an MSRP of $6,000/€6,000 (the same price B&H had it listed for).

    When B&H listed the Zeiss ZX1 for pre-order earlier this month, we contacted both B&H and Zeiss on the matter, but both passed on the opportunity to comment on the matter. Sometime between then and now, the pre-order option on B&H was removed with no further information on when we might see more. That is, until Nokishita published the above tweet earlier this morning.

    We have contacted Zeiss for confirmation and will update this article accordingly if we receive a response. While we wait to hear more about the camera, you can check out our hands-on with it back at CP+ 2019.

  • Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S sample gallery

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    The Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8 S completes the 'holy trinity' of traditional F2.8 zooms for Z-mount. Offering substantial weight and size savings over the previous AF-S 14-24mm F2.8 (and capable of accepting both screw-in and cut gel filters) the new zoom is more practical than its predecessor, but is the higher price reflected in its performance? Take a look at our sample gallery to find out.

    See our Nikon Z 14-24mm F2.8
    sample gallery

  • Video: Weird lens guru turns $20 Carl Zeiss projector lens into a swirly-bokeh camera lens

    Weird lens guru Mathieu Stern is back at it with a new video that shows images captured with two $20 Carl Zeiss projector lenses he converted into camera lenses.

    As with many of Stern’s DIY projector lens projects, both of these lenses — a 120mm F1.9 and a 105mm F1.9 — lack any way to focus and don’t have any adjustable aperture. While the adjustable aperture isn’t quite so easy to address, the video briefly shows how he uses an M65 Helicoid ring adapter to give manual focus abilities to the lens. Although not shown in the video, Stern then uses an M65 to Sony E-mount adapter to use the custom lens to his Sony camera.

    The resulting imagery captured with the lenses produces pronounced ‘swirly’ bokeh and gives a very sharp separation between the subject and the background. It’s not going to win any resolution or edge-to-edge sharpness contests, but considering you can pick up similar projector lenses for around $20 or so online and a set of adapters for your camera for roughly $50 or so, it’s a cheap way to get some unique shots.

    Stern has a full list of the components he used in the video’s description on YouTube. You can find more of his work on his YouTube channel and website, which also features his always-growing ‘Weird Lens Museum.’

  • Roger Cicala: why I don't use an MTF bench to test my own lenses

    Roughly clockwise from left: 300mm collimator, laser transmission testing, lens test projector, Trioptics Imagemaster HR optical bench, spectrometry measurement. It might not look like much, but the total cost is similar to really nice house in a small city (or a decent house in big city).

    I have a complete testing lab at my disposal: MTF benches, lens test projectors, spectrometers, lasers, an Imatest setup gathering dust in a back room; everything all the cool kids have. A lot of people assume I test the hell out of my own shiny new personal lenses after I buy them. (Yes, I buy my own stuff). I do test them, but not in the lab. I go out and take pictures with them.

    It’s not because I’m such a great photographer that my practiced eye can tell more about the lens through photographs than any lab test could. I’m a mediocre photographer. Years ago I tried making a living as a photographer. I sold some prints once, made enough to pay for maybe half a lens, and after another six months without a sale I decided to explore other methods of supporting my extravagant lifestyle.

    The lab is faster, gives tons of information, and makes cool graphs. But I still don't use it to test my personal lenses

    It’s not because the lab stuff doesn’t give useful information. The lab gives a LOT of useful information. Most people don’t have time to learn how to interpret it, or learn its value and limitations, but it’s useful information nonetheless. And the lab is fast; I can test a lens about 32 different ways in a couple of hours. My ‘test a lens with photography’ time is a half a day or more. So the lab is faster, gives tons of information, and makes cool graphs. But I still don't use it to test my personal lenses.

    Lab tests give a ton of precise information. Understanding and interpreting it is, I'll admit, not completely intuitive.

    That's because all lab tests have some major limitations. The biggest one is this: real images are 3-dimensional, they are focused at a variety of distances, and almost always contain foregrounds and backgrounds. Optical tests are two-dimensional slices taken at a fixed focusing distance with no background or foreground. The focusing distance is infinity for an optical bench. It’s a single, close distance for Imatest / DxO / and other computer image analysis methods.

    So, the lab tests tell me everything I want to know about the plane of exact best focus at one focusing distance. That’s really useful information, especially if you want to find out if a lens is optically maladjusted, want to know what kind of aberrations it has, or are interested in its maximum resolution. And it gives people numbers – the ammunition of choice in many a Forum War.

    Even a three-dimensional standard comparison image, such as the kind that DPReview and other sites use, is basically limited to one focusing distance. That distance is different for different focal lengths but it's always fairly close up. And, if it's an indoor target, the depth of those targets is usually only a few feet at most; it's not going to show you what the out of focus area 30 feet behind the image plane looks like.

    What I actually do to test a new lens

    Photographs give me far more information than the lab, even if it’s less exact. I don’t recommend brick wall or side-of-building photographs. Those are just 2-dimensional slices like the lab gives, but with more variables and less information. I want photographs of 3-dimensional subjects.

    With the right background (I prefer a field or yard of grass) you can quickly compare resolution at a half-dozen focusing distances. Sure, some lenses are about the same at all distances, but many are not. No zoom lens is equally sharp at all focal lengths. My favorite grass field is a hill behind my office that slopes up away from me. I focus on the mower tracks and quickly get images at several focusing distances.

    Simple grass slope image taken with a Canon 50mm F1.2 lens at F1.4.

    Grass (or pebbles or concrete or all manner of things that make fairly uniform photographs filled with fine detail) are great for figuring out the zone of acceptable sharpness (for you) of a lens.

    Repeating this set of images at several apertures lets me see at what aperture maximum center, middle, and edge sharpness occur (those are almost always different). It’s good to know things like there’s maximum center sharpness at F4 and the edges are at maximal sharpness at F6.3 or F8 or that they never get very sharp.

    Grass is also great because it gives you a nice sharpness comparison as you leave the area of best focus. I also recommend looking at what you consider the depth of field at each aperture and focusing distance. Depth of field is not an area of maximal sharpness. It is an area of acceptable sharpness; there is greater and lesser sharpness within the depth of field. Your definitions of ‘acceptable sharpness’ in your images may be greater, or less, than the calculated depth of field.

    You rarely see dramatic changes in a prime lens' field curvature at different focusing distances, but you will usually see a dramatic change in a zoom’s field curvature at different focal lengths

    More importantly, some lenses fall off of the sharpness cliff as they exit their area of maximal sharpness, others drift so slowly down the gentle sharpness slope that it really does seem as if the entire depth of field is maximally sharp. Also, that sharpness slope often changes at different apertures. Those are all good things to know.

    The other thing I do is to take some of my grass images and run them through a Photoshop ‘Find Edges’ filter or equivalent. This will let you visualize the field curvature of your lens and see how it varies at different focal lengths or focusing distances. (Pro tip: you rarely see dramatic change in a prime lens' field curvature at different focusing distances. You will, however, usually see a dramatic change in a zoom’s field curvature at different focal lengths.) That’s really useful information that few people know about their lenses. The find edges type filters are also a good way to look at depth of field at various apertures or with different lenses.

    Same image as above (Canon 50mm F1.2) run through a find edges filter – the field curvature is obvious. Field curvature of Canon 50mm F1.2 as measured on an optical bench. You get about the same information from the grass photo and find edges filter as you would from the $250,000 optical bench.

    Grass shots also give you a superb way to see if your lens is softer in one area or if the field is tilted. The grass image above is very slightly tilted, an amount that's about normal for a good prime lens. A more dramatic field curvature might look as though you’d rotated the dark area 15 or 20 degrees in Photoshop.

    About half the people who take building or brick wall images and think their lens is ‘decentered’ actually have a lens with a field tilt; the lens is equally sharp on both sides, but not at the same distance as center focus. It’s actually very hard to detect a field tilt by shooting a chart and evaluating a two-dimensional image.

    A large field tilt in a prime lens is unusual while a field tilt at some focal lengths of a zoom is pretty common. (I've seen 45 degree field tilts in zooms, but 10 degrees or so is routine.) If you return your zoom lens to the store for exchange, the replacement will probably have a different field tilt at another focal length.

    People like to talk about a lens’ bokeh like it’s one thing, but bokeh often varies

    If the lens is one for which I consider bokeh important, I use the a Bokelizer. Basically, this is a couple of strings of tiny Christmas lights hung in a three-dimensional pattern. I take some images at various focusing distances and evaluate the foreground and background in-focus highlights, as well as the in-focus lights. People like to talk about a lens’ bokeh like it’s one thing, but bokeh often varies in the foreground vs the background, at different focusing distances, and depending on how far off-center the object is for many lenses.

    Why do I look at in-focus lights, since they have nothing to do with out-of-focus highlights? Because comparing pinpoint light sources is a superb way to see if the lens is optically maladjusted. ‘Optically maladjusted’ means a lens that has a decentered, tilted or poorly spaced element. On the forums, people often refer to all of these issues as ‘decentering’ but that’s less than correct.

    Illustrations of the various types of optical maladjustments. In reality, a given lens usually has several small errors, rather than one single large one.

    Each of those optical maladjustments causes different optical problems and often they're apparent when looking at pinpoint light sources. Looking at pinpoint light sources also gives you an idea of the coma and other aberrations that the lens displays by design.

    This image was created from equipment in the repair department that basically just projects pinhole lights. You can easily see the difference between a good lens (upper half) and one that is slightly decentered (bottom half).

    Once I’m done with the stuff above, I go out and take the kinds of pictures that I bought the lens for. But the hour or two needed for the checks above gave me a lot of information about how to best use the lens’ strengths and weaknesses before I set off to shoot. It also shows me if the lens is optically maladjusted, and there’s no sense taking a bunch of photographs if I already know I’m going to return the lens.

    Will taking pictures tell me if I got a copy that’s every bit as sharp as the copy Reviewer Guy got? Absolutely not. Does it let me spout numbers in ‘my lens is better than your lens’ Forum Wars? Again, no. But it certainly does tell me if the lens meets my expectations and will do the job I want it to do. Lab tests give me all manner of information, but they can't tell me whether I'm going to like the images from the lens.

    It doesn’t matter to me at all if I have the sharpest copy of a lens or not. I just want to know if it's acceptable for the purposes I want to use it for

    To be completely honest, if I think the lens isn’t as sharp as I expect, then I may actually take it to the lab and measure it on the bench. I've done that maybe twice in the last ten years out of a few dozen lenses I’ve purchased, and both times it turned out that the lens wasn’t up to spec. So, really, I knew the answer without using the bench.

    Photographic testing won’t tell you if your lens is among the sharpest copies of that lens, or if it’s in the top half of the variation range or things like that. If you want to know that, then really you need to pay someone to test the lens on a test bench. Why don’t I do that? Because it doesn’t matter to me at all if I have the sharpest copy or not. I just want to know if it's acceptable to me for my purposes.

    Roger Cicala is the founder of Lensrentals.com. He started by writing about the history of photography a decade ago, but now mostly writes about the testing, construction and repair of lenses and cameras. He follows Josh Billings' philosophy: "It's better to know nothing than to know what ain't so."

  • DPReview TV: Best entry-level full frame mirrorless – Nikon Z5 vs. Canon EOS RP

    What's the best entry-level full frame mirrorless camera? We compare the Nikon Z5 to the Canon EOS RP to find out.

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Canon's ISO 4 million multi-purpose camera was used to record fluorescent life in the Amazon

    Award-winning artist and director Lynette Wallworth released her documentary Awavena in 2018 to critical acclaim. The project's director of photography, Greg Downing, utilized numerous cameras during production, including the specialized Canon ME20F-SH multi-purpose camera.

    Awavena follows the first female shaman of the Yawanawa tribe in the Amazonian rainforest. As part of the film, the crew documents an Ayahuasca vision quest and represents this experience using real footage captured in incredibly low light and CGI. Downing, with the aid of the ME20F-SH, captured footage of fluorescent insects and plants in nearly no light, something that Canon believes could have proven impossible for other cameras.

    This week, Canon shared a video going behind the scenes with Downing and the ME20F-Sh camera. You can view this below.

    If you'd like to view the trailer for Awavena, it can be seen below. Awavena is Wallworth's second mixed-reality VR film, following up on the Emmy-winning film, Collisions. Wallworth says, 'We engaged DP Greg Downing from XRez to film in the Amazon and brought the eminent Australian fluorescent biologist Dr. Anya Salih, my longtime collaborator, along on the shoot so we could film the previously unseen world of forest fluorescence as part of the vision sequence.' Wallworth's full artist statement about Awavena can be read here.

    While the Canon ME20F-SH camera is getting a bit long in the tooth, its technical specifications and features continue to impress over five years since it was announced. The camera utilizes a 2.26MP CMOS image sensor, which was originally announced all the way back in 2013. The sensor has pixels measuring 19μm, allowing for 1080/60p video capture in light levels as low as 0.0005 lux at a gain setting of 75 Db, which is equivalent to over ISO 4,000,000. The ME20F-SH supports Canon's EF and EF-S lenses. While Awavena represented Downing's first experience with the ME20F-SH camera, he has long relied upon Canon cameras for his work and has been a longtime Canon Professional Services member.

    Canon ME20F-SH camera

    This is not the first time footage from the ME20F-SH has been featured on our site. In 2016, Ben Canales recorded video of the Perseid meteor shower using the camera. You can see that footage below.

    In 2017, Canon outfitted an industrial done with the ME20F-SH all-purpose camera for nighttime surveillance. That video can be seen here.

    As PetaPixel notes in its coverage of Awavena, the ME20F-SH has been used to record the aurora borealis in real-time and record bioluminescent coral over 1,000 feet beneath the ocean's surface. You can check out these videos below:

  • Video: iFixit is currently showing a live iPhone 12 teardown

    If you’re wondering what all Apple managed to pack inside its iPhone 12, repair site iFixit is currently hosting a live teardown of one of Apple’s latest smartphone on its YouTube channel.

    The review started at roughly 1:20pm ET, but it’s still going on and is available to watch from the beginning if you’d prefer to take it all in. If iFixit comes across any interesting surprises, we’ll summarize them in an update to this article.

  • Yongnuo announces new 35mm F2 autofocus lens for full-frame Sony cameras

    Don't ask why Yongnuo decided to showcase a full-frame E-mount lens on an APS-C camera body...our guess is as good as yours.

    Chinese accessory and lens manufacturer Yongnuo has announced the release of a new 35mm F2 autofocus lens for full-frame Sony cameras.

    The new lens is constructed of nine elements in eight groups, including one low-dispersion element and one aspherical element. The lens also features what Yongnuo calls a ‘nano-multilayer coating,’ but doesn’t specify what elements this coating is applied to.

    The 35mm F2 has an aperture range of F2-F16, uses a seven-blade aperture diaphragm and has a minimum focusing distance of ‘about’ 35cm (13.7”). Its autofocus is driven by a digitally-controlled stepping motor (DSM) and an onboard USB-C port will allow for firmware updates, should Yongnuo release any to improve function or compatibility.

    A diagram of the lens' optical construction.

    While constructed mostly of plastic, the lens features metal bayonet mounts and uses gold-plated contacts, which transmit, in addition to data for autofocus and aperture control, EXIF data. Also present is a switch for turning on and off autofocus, as well as a Function (Fn) button that can be customized to perform a certain action or bring up a certain menu.

    There’s no word on when exactly the lens will go live or how much it will retail for, but you can keep an eye out on Yongnuo’s online shop and Amazon shop.

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