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Hands On with the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD for Sony E-mount

As a landscape and travel photographer, I often carry around an ultra-wide-angle 14mm lens and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. Last week I was able to test the latest addition to the Tamron series for full-frame mirrorless cameras: the 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD. And I think I’ve found the perfect addition to my usual 2-lens kit.

This lens has an enormous range and is extremely light and small. This, in combination with the sharpness, makes it a perfect and super fun do-everything lens. And with a retail price of approximately $550 (about half the price of the Sony version), this is certainly a lens that I’m willing to buy.

First impression

At just 545 grams, the Tamron 70-300 is extremely light compared to most other telephoto zoom lenses. Set it next to the Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G at 854 grams, for example, and you really notice that difference.

The tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD next to the 28-75mm f/2.8.

If you have used one of the other lenses from the Tamron series, then using this lens feels like coming home—it works exactly like the others in the range. The build is plastic but feels professional, and there are two rings on the lens: one for focus and one for zooming. Both rings feel good and run smoothly, and there are no buttons or switches on the lens.

In terms of complaints, I think it would be nice to have a lock to prevent creeping (which this lens does a little bit) but it’s not a deal breaker. The lens also extends during zooming, so it doesn’t remain “the world’s smallest telephoto zoom lens” for long… just FYI.

The filter size is 67mm, just like with all other lenses from the Sony E-mount series. I find this very useful when I work with filters as it saves a lot of money and hassle. There is also a detachable lens hood, which I really like.

Finally, I found the auto-focus to be both fast and quiet, and the lens is super sharp, especially when you shoot it between f/4.5 and f/11.

In the field

I had a week to test this lens before sending it back, and I tried to use it in a variety of situations. In the end, I was able to use the lens for: Landscapes, Macro, Wildlife, Portraits, and Abstract photography, and have included samples from all of my tests below.

For landscape photography, macro, and wildlife I actually prefer extreme focal lengths. For example: a 14mm or an extreme telephoto zoom. For travel and portrait photography, I find flexibility and speed important. Often I don’t have time to keep switching lenses, so the range of the 70-300mm is super handy for me.

Light harps in the Speulderbos. This is one of those moments where you have to respond quickly and it is nice to be flexible with focal lengths.

This lens can be used at 70mm, 85mm, 135mm, and 200mm for travel photography, portrait, and also landscape. Then, if you want to capture more intimate landscapes or macro photography, you can keep going into 200-300mm territory. This alone is already a reason for me to choose this lens over a 70-200mm or 70-180mm.

I find that photos taken with a focal length of 200mm to 300mm look more interesting to me, perhaps because it’s not often used to capture landscapes.

Landscape

As mentioned above, the fact that you can photograph a wide landscape at 70mm and a more intimate landscape at 300mm gives you a lot of flexibility— you will be able to capture a lot of different shots in a short time without having to switch lenses.

A few fallen trees create extra light in the forest. Focal length: 80mm Exposure: 2.0s, f/10, ISO 100
A lonely tree on a hill, Amsterdam water supply dunes, sunset. Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/4s, f/10, ISO 100
Focal length: 230mm | Exposure: 2.0s, f/10, ISO 100

Macro

This lens can also be used for macro-like photography. The bokeh is nice to look at and you can work well with the depth of field. I could just shoot some macro images by hand by combining a shutter speed of about 1/100s with the IBIS of the Sony.

In the picture below you can see the bokeh of this lens is pretty impressive for an aperture of f/6.3.

Handheld shot. Focal length: 215 mm | Exposure: 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 800

Portrait

Portraits can certainly also be shot with this lens. Between 70mm to approximately 200mm you have a lot of flexibility and options for framing. If I were to do a really focused shoot for portraits, I would rather opt for the 28-75mm f/2.8 so that I can quickly switch between 35mm, 50mm, and 75mm, but that is a personal preference.

Wildlife

To be honest, I’ve never photographed wildlife before. So I went out to a national park to photograph foxes and deer, and I have to say, I am really happy with the results! At 300mm I could photograph beautiful moments easily, without having to get very close to the animals.

The first image was shot at 300mm and then cropped a bit. With a 200mm or 180mm, this could not have been done without sacrificing too much resolution.

Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 1000
Focal length: 280mm | Exposure: 1/160s, f/6.3 ISO 800
Focal length: 200mm | Exposure: 1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 800

Abstract

If the weather is not going well and there is no nice sky, I prefer to grab a telephoto zoom and start photographing details and abstract images. I can really spend hours on this. Ripples in the water, waves, ice, leaves, everything.

Conclusion

The Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD hits three really important points at once: it’s very sharp, it’s reasonably fast, and it’s affordable. It’s also great for traveling due to the weight and size… so I guess that makes 5 points. I would personally choose this lens over a 70-200 because of the extra range and the reasons mentioned above.

The build of the lens might not be as good as the Sony G and G-master lenses but this is something I am willing to give up. I’ve taken my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 to Iceland, Mount Everest in Nepal, and the jungle in the Philippines and it is still working perfectly, so I don’t think build will be a problem.

In the end, for me, the versatility and affordability of this 70-300 beats the speed advantage of a 70-200 f/4 or f/2.8, no question.


Author’s Note: Please keep in mind that the above images were taken with a pre-production model of the lens.


About the author: Thomas Kuipers is a travel and landscape photographer Based in Amsterdam. He started out fascinated by the night sky and astrophotography, but the local light pollution eventually pushed him towards landscapes, architecture, portraiture, travel and nature. His passion is to inspire people and create awareness of how beautiful the things around us really are.

You can find more of his work on his website or by following him on Instagram. This post was also published here.

Canon Will Definitely Release an APS-C Sensor EOS R Camera in 2021: Report

For many months, the Canon rumor mill has been split on whether or not a crop-sensor EOS R camera would ever be announced. Some said yes, others scoffed, but finally a reliable source has “confirmed” that this camera is indeed coming, and it will arrive next year.

The report comes from Canon Rumors, who has been trying to track down some sort of confirmation of this news for months. According to CR, an APS-C sensor RF mount camera is definitely coming, and it’s scheduled to be released in the 2nd half of 2021, though there will not be any RF-S lenses to go along with it.

It will reportedly be the smallest EOS R camera in the lineup, even smaller than the EOS RP, and will be targeted at sports shooters and videographers. That probably means lightning-quick continuous shooting speeds, high-speed video frame rates, and Dual Pixel AF II; and, in fact, CR’s source confirmed that last spec.

By the sounds of it, what we have here is a mirrorless 7D series camera that will compete with the likes of the Nikon D500 and the upcoming Pentax K-3 Mark III. It also provides a hint at how Canon plans to keep the EOS M and EOS R lineups separate: focusing its high-end APS-C aspirations on the RF mount and letting the EOS M series handle the rest. After all, there’s no need to design cheaper, slower RF-S lenses if this is going to be a baby R5.

That’s all we know for now, but with at least 8 months standing between us and this camera announcement, expect more details to emerge in the new year.

Sony a7C Images Appear “More or Less Identical” to Those Taken on a7 III

Imaging Resource, one of the most reputable camera testing organizations online, today released its sample gallery for the Sony a7C. After comparing the images to the same photos taken on the Sony a7 III, they look strikingly similar.

Though the still-life sample images that Imaging Resource publishes may not be aesthetically pleasing, they do serve as an excellent reference point for comparisons since the lighting, subjects, and camera angle never changes. In this case, the images that Imaging Resource published today can very easily be compared to the ones captured with the a7 III in 2018.

When the a7C was announced earlier this year, it was immediately obvious to experts that the sensor in the new compact camera was the same as the one in the a7 III. It should be noted that this sensor has been used in a host of cameras from across the industry as it has good resolution, ISO performance, and dynamic range. Reusing the sensor is by no means an inherently bad thing. Additionally, though it is often argued that much changes over time when it comes to the use of sensors, the only thing that really matters is image quality and if that was in any way improved.

PetaPixel spoke with William Brawley, the Senior Editor at Imaging Resource, about their findings with the a7C versus the older a7 III. Though he stopped short of a definitive evaluation stating the results are the same, which is challenging to do given how lightly they have to tread over making overarching statements like that, he did say that he wasn’t able to discern a major difference.

“Based on lab shots side by side, the a7C and a7 III certainly look strikingly similar, if not more or less identical,” Brawley said. “High ISO performance at, for example, ISO 1600 to 6400 look great and indeed very similar, with similar noise reduction/high ISO detail at in-camera default settings.”

Here is a side by side example of the same section of an image shot on both the a7C and a7 III, both at ISO 1600, at 100%:

Left side: Sony a7 III; Right side: Sony a7C

You can make your own comparisons using any ISO from the two cameras by downloading the a7C files here and the a7 III files here.

This evaluation can be looked at two different ways. One perspective is that Sony did not make any changes to its camera and simply wished to resell older technology repackaged into a smaller body. Another perspective is that Sony made the a7 III, which was and still is an excellent camera, even more desirable by packaging it into a smaller form factor.

How you choose to view this is entirely up to you, but know that when it comes to image quality, you can get the same, or nearly the same, results regardless of which of the two cameras you choose. Both cameras are nearly identically priced as well, with the Sony a7C just $100 more than the a7 III at the time of publication.

For more on the Sony a7C and its evaluation, head over to Imaging Resource’s full review in progress.

Image Credits: Imaging Resource, and used with permission.

Sony a7S III vs. the iPhone 12 Pro: An Unfair Comparison?

Lee Morris of Fstoppers has uploaded a 6-minute video where he pits the iPhone 12 Pro against his Sony a7S III. You would think this comparison wildly unfair, and it is, but there are some surprising results from his findings.

First, one thing needs to be made clear: though the YouTube video title states that the test is a “4K HDR test,” it actually is not. While Morris does show what HDR footage looks like when imported to a non-HDR timeline in Adobe Premiere and he also shows what the footage looked like on his iPhone, the video shared here is not in HDR and was not edited in any HDR mode. So, in short, HDR is not tested.

Aside from that, Morris does show that in ideal conditions (bright a bright, sunny day), the iPhone 12 Pro does surprisingly well when viewed side-by-side with the a7S III footage at 100%. In order to see a real difference, Morris needed to zoom in considerably on the footage to 400%. Additionally, while the a7S III does look better when pixel-peeped thanks to its larger sensor and better optics, the bitrate of the footage also plays a significant role. The lower bitrate of the iPhone 12 Pro results in severe artifacts appearing in footage with motion.

Though the iPhone 12 Pro did not stack up well against the a7S III when it came to autofocus, it did significantly outperform the Sony in footage stabilization.

Morris also noted that of the three cameras, the main camera is the best, the telephoto is also quite good, but the wide-angle lens was in his opinion “really blurry.”

All in all though, the iPhone held up well when it came to quality versus the dedicated video camera. So while it was likely an unfair comparison to make, the results weren’t nearly as far apart as some might expect. That said, Apple’s process for extracting files off the iPhone isn’t particularly easy. Morris spends nearly the last two minutes of the video showing how irritated he was with that particular process.

You can watch more from Lee Morris on the Fstoppers YouTube channel.

iFixit Teardown Reveals the Cameras Inside the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

Yesterday, iFixit finally tore into the brand new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (the Pro Max isn’t available yet) during a 1 hour and 30 minute-long live stream. And about 44 minutes in, they got to the part we’re most interested in: the cameras.

If you followed the announcement coverage, you’ll know that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro both feature a wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle cameras, with the Pro adding on a telephoto camera and a LiDAR sensor for depth scanning and low-light autofocus. The biggest photo-related upgrade—a much larger sensor for the wide-angle imager—is being reserved for the Pro Max.

Knowing all of this, it isn’t much of a surprise to find out that that iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are pretty much identical in terms of design. So identical, in fact, that they use the exact same camera connectors, even though the 12 Pro has an extra camera and a LiDAR sensor to deal with. As a result, the 12 includes a piece of plastic “spacer” to fill in the empty space where the other two modules would normally go.

You can see all of this in the iFixit images below:

“Turns out these phones are so similar, that where the Pro keeps its extra camera module + LiDAR sensor, the standard 12 has… a plastic spacer,” writes iFixit. “Surprisingly, both iPhones use the same camera connectors—even though the Pro has three cameras while the standard 12 has two. It’s a clever bit of socket sharing that allows Apple to use the same logic board design for both. We successfully installed the Pro’s triple camera module onto the dual-module 12 and got it to work! But only at 1x zoom.”

Check out the full teardown recording up top to see these things for yourself, and get an up-close look at the dual- and triple-camera modules inside these phones.

Of course, this feels kind of like a warm up… the opening act for the teardown we’re really excited about: the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple made much of the “47% larger” image sensor with IBIS that’s inside that phone—promising some major performance improvements along the way—and we’re very curious to see how it compares to the iPhone 12 Pro module above.


Image credits: Photos courtesy of iFixit, CC BY-NC-SA.

Caltech’s Latest Camera Shoots 3D at 100 Billion Frames Per Second

Earlier this year, Caltech’s Lihong Wang showed off a camera that could shoot 70 trillion frames per second – that’s fast enough to watch light travel. His most recent creation, however, goes a step further. While “only” 100 billion frames per second, it shoots in three dimensions.

The technology in it is similar to that 70 trillion frames per second camera, but it sacrifices speed for the ability to shoot in three dimensions. Even though the camera is significantly slower than Wang’s previous camera, it’s still fast enough to take 10 billion photos in the time it takes a person to blink.

In a new paper, titled Single-shot stereo-polarimetric compressed ultrafast photography for light-speed observation of high-dimensional optical transients with picosecond resolution, Wang condenses the technology down to a much more succinct SP-CUP. In this particular SP-CUP design, Wang based the idea off how humans perceive depth. We can see distances and measure differences because we have two eyes, which make it much easier to determine if an object is close or far away.

According to Science Mint, Wang described the method akin to putting the camera in stereo.“We have one lens, but it functions as two halves that provide two views with an offset. Two channels mimic our eyes.”

Wang believes the technology can best be put to use helping researchers better understand the physics of what is called sonoluminescence, which is a phenomenon where sound waves create small bubbles in water or other liquids. As those bubbles collapse rapidly after formation, they emit a burst of light.

“When a bubble collapses, its interior reaches such a high temperature that it generates light. The process that makes this happen is very mysterious because it all happens so fast, and we’re wondering if our camera can help us figure it out.” Wang says that some people consider that to be one of the great mysteries of physics.

The whole journal posted here is pretty high level, but if you’ve got the smarts to keep up with what Wang describes, the technology is sure to impress.

(Via Science Mint)

Exclusive: Shooting Portraits with a Pre-Production Nikon Z7 II

Audrey Woulard, a new addition to Nikon’s team of ambassadors, has provided an exclusive first look at images created with the upcoming Nikon Z7 II mirrorless camera as well as her thoughts on what she likes best about the upcoming new flagship.

Woulard was given the opportunity to use a pre-production model of the upcoming Nikon Z7 II with very little advance notice. “You don’t get any info,” she told PetaPixel, referring to what is provided by Nikon. “No camera name, no camera info. So you go into it, in my experience, fairly blind. It’s a good thing because you don’t overthink it – I’m the queen of overthinking.”

When asked what about the Z7 II she noticed as improved over the original, Woulard says that the changes Nikon has made mix particularly well with what she expects from a camera for the kind of work she does.

“The thing that I have seen improved that lends itself really well to the way that I typically photograph is the dynamic range. The different situations I am in, I can go from bright sun, to really dark areas. So I’ve found that to be absolutely improved and so much better,” she said.

100% Crop

“In regards to focusing, I religiously photograph really wide open. I’m going to push the aperture as wide as the lens will go. There was a lot more detail from head to toe, I felt that the focus system was a lot better.”

Woulard explained that the improved autofocus options allowed her the freedom to work in her ideal format. Because the camera tracks so well, she said, Woulard was seeing improved clarity in her images even when she and her subjects were moving during the capture process. “I’ve got kids moving and I encourage them to move. He’s walking, and I’m walking with him. When they’re moving, I’m moving. The focus system was much better.”

Nikon sent the pre-production camera out to Woulard with not only short notice, but with a comparatively small window of time to use it.

“It wasn’t a lot of time,” she said. “I’m talking like two weeks to put together a full-on shoot. That included getting permits because I do photograph downtown in Chicago. It was intense.”

Nikon did not give Woulard specific instructions on what it was expecting. Instead, the company just asked her to be herself. “They told me, ‘We want you to do what you do, shoot how you shoot.’ So I pretty much scheduled different looks and lighting all in one day. I started at like 10 AM and wasn’t done until about 5 or 6 PM.”

Though the images have a consistent look to them, Woulard admitted it wasn’t due to any pre-planned concepts. She said she makes her best work when thriving on chaos and the pressures of the moment.

“I had no concept, to be honest with you,” she said, laughing. “Part of the way that I photograph is that my goal is to have some sort of connection with the people I am photographing. An actual concept? That’s too much pre-planning for me.”

Woulard says that when she shoots, she’s aiming for a specific look to the light mixed with engagement with the subjects. “Anything that happens organically, happens. I typically will use the beauty of light downtown, bokeh with different lighting which will bring in color into my background. Then I rely on fashion.”

Woulard used the pre-production Nikon Z7 II primarily with the 85mm f/1.8, but also with the 50mm f/1.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 sprinkled in. She used primarily ambient light but accentuated it with a single Profoto B10.

You can see more of Woulard’s work on her Instagram, Facebook, website, and Ambassador page.

Image Credits: Audrey Woulard and used with permission.

Yongnuo Unveils Full-Frame 35mm f/2 Sony E-Mount Lens with Autofocus

Yongnuo is no stranger to affordable alternatives to first-party products. What started with its cheap speedlight alternatives shifted to remarkably affordable mostly-plastic lenses, and the latest full-frame 35mm f/2 lens for Sony E-Mount is the latest in the company’s large library of options.

According to the product announcement, the YN35mm f/2S DF DSM was designed to work on full-frame E-mount camera bodies (but as DP Review mentions in its coverage, why Yongnuo chose to display the lens on an APS-C Sony camera is a mystery) to allow for “night scenes, street photography, food, and other subjects.”

The lens features a function key (Fn) like many other first-party Sony lenses, which allows you to program a shortcut operation via the menu. The company states that in addition to being small and light – the latter benefit coming from the lens’ largely plastic construction – is a CNC stepping motor. Yongnuo says that compared to a traditional DC motor, the digital control stepping motor (DCM) has “high focusing accuracy, and quieter focusing action, which is suitable for photo shooting and video recording.” Seeing as modern Sony lenses are starting to incorporate a linear motor that offers very fast focusing speeds and near-silent operation, it’s nice to see Yongnuo attempting its own take on mimicking the performance of Sony’s more expensive options. How it compares in actual side-by-side performance is to be determined, however.

The 35mm f/2 features 9 lenses in 8 groups, a nano-multilayer coating to reduce ghosting and flare, one aspheric lens to reduce aberrations, a low dispersion lens, and a 7-bladed aperture. And while as mentioned the lens is mostly plastic in its construction, it does have metal bayonet mounts and gold-plated contacts that allow the lens to transmit autofocus, aperture control, and EXIF data to the camera. The lens also includes a USB-C port that is likely for firmware updates.

The product announcement does not state when the lens is set to be available nor its asking price, but based on other lenses of similar aperture speed and focal length, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it listed for under $150.

You can view the full product announcement on Yongnuo’s site here.

(Via DP Review)

Hands On: Street Photography with the Ricoh GR3 in Japan

I’ve always tried to create visual content with the highest possible quality and resolution, paying a lot of attention to detail and composition. In the beginning of my career that meant using large and medium formats, but lately, one of my favorite cameras is quite the opposite.

I’ve done a lot of studio work and have always been intrigued by hardware. I used Hasselblad, Sinar P2, Fuji 68 and Pentax 67 cameras for a long time, but with the digital mirrorless revolution I ended up favoring lighter and more compact systems like the X1D and the Canon R5. Still, resolution and quality were always top of mind, so I tended to stick with full-frame or medium format.

I’ve always been a fan of Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Frank, but it wasn’t until I came across Vivian Maier’s images in late 2008 that I was inspired to pursue street photography. From the beginning, I realized that smaller cameras would be more appropriate. I normally don’t ask people for permission as I try to capture candid situations–I shoot and then I smile and normally people smile back.

I started with the full-frame Sony RX1 and then I moved on to a Leica Q2, but when I first tested a GR3 I got hooked. A pocket size camera with a 24MP APS-C sensor, touch screen and IBIS? I was impressed. Recently, I had the chance to put the GR3 through its paces on a trip to Japan, where I did a lot of street photography and came back with some of my favorite photos thus far, cementing my love of this unassuming little camera:

www.puffybrain.com

The GR3 is perfect for street photography. The best candid images always happen when you least expect it, and having a full-featured camera that fits in your pocket is really great. This little camera is less intimidating also; since it looks like a basic point & shoot, you can avoid unnecessary confrontations.

The fixed focal length 28mm lens is ideal for street shooting and the f/2.8 is fast enough to shoot at dusk. I also really like the Snap mode where you can shoot from the hip with camera always focused on a predetermined distance (I personally set it at 2 meters).

The AF system is pretty fast; plus, you can touch-screen on an area you’d like to focus on and there’s also face detection and macro mode which can come in handy. I always shoot in RAW + JPG, usually in the B&W high contrast mode, with Snap focus enabled and the aperture set to f/8. This way I can preview my results in black and white and decide if I want to use color later on.

The only two significant issues I had with the camera were the battery life–you need at least couple of batteries for a 1/2 day shoot–and the noise that it produces in low-light situations.

So… am I going to sell my beloved Leica Q2? Nope, I don’t think so… the depth of field control, the EVF, and the full-frame 47MP sensor are all very important to me. But I’m convinced the Ricoh GR3 is the best option when I don’t have (or don’t want to carry) my Q2 in my backpack.


About the author: Caesar Lima’s artistic approach is meticulously crafted. With an emphasis on the unusual, Lima thrives on doing the wrong thing. The personal side project and reportage outlet for high-end commercial, fine art, and beauty photographer Caesar Lima, “Puffybrain” is to the street photography as Lima is to the studio sork. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.