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Canon rises at Sony’s expense in the Japan mirrorless camera market

BCN Retail’s latest rankings are out for the Japanese camera market, which has been showing some pretty alarming trends over the last few months. Primarily that Sony’s share of the full-frame mirrorless market has plummeted from 60% to 43.9% and falling while Canon’s has gone up from about 25% to 34.7% and looking to keep […]

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Yongnuo just announced a new 35mm f/2 lens for full-frame Sony E mount

Yongnuo has announced a new YN35mm F2S DF DSM lens for full-frame Sony E Mount cameras. It appears to not just be their existing 35mm f/2 for DSLRs with an extended barrel, either, but a completely new lens design. Whether or not it’s their own design or they’ve “borrowed” somebody else’s, I don’t know, but […]

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Latest Version of Premiere Pro Can Natively Decode ProRes RAW Video

As part of its massive batch of MAX announcements, Adobe has included a much-needed update feature into Premiere Pro: the ability to natively decode ProRes RAW.

According to DP Review, the ability to decode ProRes RAW in Premiere was selectively available earlier this year, but only for Windows machines running Nvidia GPUs. With this update, that restriction is lifted, and any machine – either macOS or Windows – running the latest version of Premiere Pro will be able to edit ProRes RAW video natively.

Specifically, on macOS, users will need to be running macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, or macOS Mojave 10.14.5 or later.

On Windows machines, system requirements include an NVIDIA, AMD or Intel Display card with the latest drivers, 4GB or more video memory recommended for Nvidia and AMD GPU cards, and the latest ProRes RAW Decoder from Apple.

You can read the full list of system requirements here.

The support is not just limited to Premiere. ProRes RAW import is supported on After Effects, Media Encoder, and Rush.

It should be noted that the support isn’t as extensive as what can be found in Apple’s Final Cut Pro X. Full control of ISO and White Balance settings are not available as they are in the Apple editing platform, but you will be able to access Exposure and ColorSpace (this feature is not included with Rush, but can be accessed in After Effects, Media Encoder, and Premiere).

Premiere Pro also gains the ability to use ProRes RAW to log color space conversion.

ProRes RAW recording has been made easier thanks to support from external recording company Atmos. The company has brought ProRes RAW recording capability to more than 20 cameras via the Ninja V recorder including a number of Panasonic, Sony, Nikon, and Canon cameras.

(Via DP Review)

Sony shooters rejoice, you can now tether directly into Lightroom

Here is a screenshot I did not think I’ll see. Lightroom connected and tethered with a Sony A7III. I mean, Sony has been tethering with Capture One for ages, but Lightroom Classic? Uh uh! Mostly because Sony and Adobe never found a way to share the needed codebase. But now comes Tether Tools, and fr […]

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Sony Imaging Edge Webcam software finally lets you use your Sony cameras on a Mac

Sony has now released the Mac version of its Imaging Edge Webcam software, which allows you to use thirty six of Sony’s A & E mount interchangeable lens cameras and fixed lens cameras as webcams on your computer. Sony first released the software back in August, but it was only available for Windows at that […]

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Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creatives

Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creativesSony announced the Spatial Reality Display (SR Display), said to offer designers and creators in film the means to bring ideas to life in stunning 3D displays, without the need for special glasses or HMDs.

Sony first showed the new Spatial Reality Display (SR Display) to attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year, but now the company has it available for sale… if you’ve $4,999.99 to buy this display that does not require virtual reality glasses or any other type of headset. You also need a powerful computer to use it. Sony recommends an Intel Core i7-9700K @3.60GHz or faster, and a graphics card such as NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER or faster.

While it is obvious that this does not mean that 3D TV is going to return – if it ever was here! –  it is also true that these technologies have a place and a market. Sony Electronics says that the SR Display, made with Sony’s award-winning Eye-Sensing Light Field Display (ELFD) technology, “enables creators across a variety of industries, from automotive and industrial design, to Computer Graphics (CG) and Visual Effects (VFX) designers and creators in film to bring ideas to life in stunning 3D displays.”

“We’re excited to bring the world’s best technology to bear, moving the design and creation industry forward, particularly as the shift to digital has become so pronounced,” stated Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America. “This technology drives new versatility, allowing us to advance an entirely new medium and experience for designers and creators everywhere.”

Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creativesThe technologies in the Spatial Reality Display

Sony claims that all you need are your eyes to experience this “extraordinary 3D image quality”. The company says that the SR Display uses spatial reality to combine the virtual and physical world, and creates an incredible 3D optical experience that is viewable to the naked eye. This is made possible by several technologies:

  • High-speed Vision Sensor – The SR Display is based an innovative high-speed vision sensor which follows exact eye position in space, on vertical, horizontal and depth axes simultaneously. The display monitors eye movement down to the millisecond, while rendering the image instantaneously, based on the location and position of the viewer’s eyes. This allows creators to interact with their designs in a highly-realistic virtual, 3D environment, from any angle without glasses.
  • Real-time Rendering Algorithm – Additionally, the SR Display leverages an original processing algorithm to display content in real-time. This allows the stereoscopic image to appear as smooth as real life, even if the viewer moves around.
  • Micro Optical Lens – The micro optical lens is positioned precisely over the stunning 15.6 inches (diag.) LCD display. This lens divides the image into the left and right eyes allowing for stereoscopic viewing with just the naked eye.

Sony’s dedicated SDK makes it easy for designers to create content for the Spatial Reality Display. The SDK is compatible with industry-standard tools Unity and Unreal Engine, so creators can work within an already-familiar production environment, and can be used to develop interactive applications in gaming, VR, construction, and automotive design. The SR Display developer site has more info.

Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creativesSR Display used in “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”

Sony says that “for filmmakers, graphic artists, engineers and product designers in corporate and industrial settings, the cutting-edge 3D visual technology of the SR Display delivers a futuristic, yet highly practical visual experience, where detailed colors, textures, contrasts and brightness fuse, to form a new medium for image, character and product design and visualization.” The company adds that “for example, in the automotive industry, there is potential to integrate the product early on in the new vehicle design ideation process, improving quality, speed and the tangible nature of the concepts themselves.”

“At Volkswagen, we’ve been evaluating Sony’s Spatial Reality Display from its early stages, and we see considerable usefulness and multiple applications throughout the ideation and design process, and even with training,” commented Frantisek Zapletal, Virtual Engineering Lab US, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “We’re excited to continue blazing trails and collaborating with Sony to find practical use cases for this innovative product at Volkswagen.”

To highlight the capabilities of this “cutting-edge technology”, Sony Electronics collaborated with Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures subsidiary Ghost Corps on the upcoming Ghostbusters film, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” scheduled for release in 2021. The collaboration focused on using the Spatial Reality Display to bring both familiar and new film characters to life, through the groundbreaking visual medium.

Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creativesFrom pre-visualization to 3D modeling

“We have been working with the Sony team to bring Ghostbusters characters and assets to life using Sony’s Spatial Reality Display,” noted Eric Reich, brand and franchise executive at Ghost Corps. “Moving forward, we could see potential benefits from pre-visualization to 3D modeling. The display offers a new approach to visualizing concepts and characters, making understanding the finished product that much easier.”

You may thing that this is something new, but you’re wrong. In fact, ProVideo Coalition mentioned, on June 14, 2019, a live demonstration of another 3D solution, the world’s first holographic desktop display, by the Looking Glass Factory, during that month’s meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. The event, under the title “Building Truly Immersive Experiences: Are You Ready for the Holodeck?”, hosted a panel discussion by representatives of companies that are founding members of the Immersive Digital Reality Alliance, IDEA.

It was during the meeting that Looking Glass Factory, a company dedicated to building the holographic future, demonstrated its Looking Glass, introduced in 2018 as, claims the company, “the world’s first desktop holographic display for 3D creators”. Looking Glass Factory has a massive 32-inch and headset-free, the Looking Glass 8K, which as the company says “is optimized for viewers of any visual acuity and age. Everyone can just see it.”

Sony Spatial Reality Display: 3D without glasses for creatives
The Looking Glass 8K, a 32-inch display

Ultra-D, holographic displays and VR

Although companies like Stream TV Networks continue to suggest that their technology Ultra-D can bring 3D to the living room, the reality of the market does seem to suggest otherwise. The Sony Spatial Reality Display, although 3D, is aimed at a completely different market, as are the holographic solutions from Looking Glass Factory. In the end, for a real immersion in 3D, nothing beats what Virtual Reality offers, even if wearing a helmet may not contribute to make the experience comfortable for many.

One thing is true, though, and I do speak from experience: once you try Virtual Reality, you’ll want to add it to your platforms to discover the world of storytelling. There is no real immersion looking at a screen, even 3D, because as soon as you gaze elsewhere the magic is gone. Not in VR, and Head Mounted Headsets like the upcoming HP Reverb G2, which is both light and has excellent resolution, may help to attract more people to the experience of VR. Which is just another platform or means to reach an end, like the Sony SR Display is.

If you’re curious about the Spatial Reality Display and want to know more, Sony will be hosting a virtual demo of this product on October 22, 2020 at 12pm PT for creators to see how the product works and to ask questions. If you are interested in attending the demo, please follow the link to register.

As noted earlier, the Sony Spatial Reality Display has a suggested retail price of $4,999.99 USD and $6,649.99 CAN. It will be available to order on Sony’s direct e-commerce site and other retailers in November.

Deep Discounts on Sony Cameras and Lenses This Week

Though you can probably attribute the timing to Amazon Prime day (which takes place October 13-14), discounts on Sony camera equipment are not just reserved for Amazon’s buying holiday. Starting today and through the end of the week, you can score discounts on everything from the a9 and a7R IV to a host of lenses anywhere Sony is sold.

Though the notable sales include the most popular Sony cameras, the total discounts Sony is offering are extensive. The discounts are good anywhere Sony products are sold, so you don’t need to wait for Prime Day to start in order to take advantage of the savings.

Most notably, you can grab the Sony a7R IV and a7s II for $500 off, and the a9 for $1000 off, along with several other cameras like the a6000 and the a6100 with two kit lenses both seeing a $100 discount.

A host of Sony lenses, including Sony’s highest-end G-Master lenses, are on sale between $100 and $200 off. That includes the 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and the 16-35mm f/2.8 GM which can each be had for $1,999.

All those plus Cyber-Shot cameras, action cams, camcorders, camera bundles, and even accessories are all discounted by some degree in the United States through October 16. You can view the full list of discounts here.

New Lightroom Plug-In Allows for Tethered Capture with Sony Cameras

Tether Tools has announced the new Smart Shooter 4 plug-in (SS4) that enables full Sony camera tethering support for Adobe Lightroom Classic. Additionally, Tether Tools says SS4 will make for a faster and more stable connection with Nikon cameras.

The SS4 plugin supports tethered shooting and camera control inside of Lightroom Classic for Canon, Sony, and Nikon cameras. In addition to full camerea control via a computer, the plug-in will allow you to automatically apply Lightroom presets to images as they are imported into catalogs in real-time. You can also save the captured images to both your computer and the memory card simultaneously.

The software also allows for multi-camera connectivity, giving you the option to toggle up to 8 cameras in Lightroom or control and trigger those cameras from the Smart Shooter interface.

Smart Shooter comes in two versions, both for a single user, and can be purchased from Tether Tools’ website. Smart Shooter 4, which costs $69.95, can be used with one camera and offers tethered shooting, remote control, live view, and prepackaged scripts. Smart Shooter 4 PRO costs $195.95 and has the functions from the base version but offers the multi-camera control functionality, barcode and QR code scanning, external API integration, and custom scripting.

The biggest takeaway here is the ability to properly tether Sony cameras inside of Lightroom. To this point, the process has been protracted and uses two applications: a combination of the Sony Imaging Edge application and Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom would only be able to work as the viewer and editor for the photos, while the Sony app would act as the controller and send those files to a predetermined folder on your computer. So while remote camera control with Sony wasn’t impossible before, it wasn’t particularly straightforward either. Tether Tools’ value proposition here is the combination of these tasks into one system inside of Lightroom.

For more information on the Smart Shooter 4 application, visit Tether Tools’ website.

Is There Anything Nikon Can Do to Keep Up With the Competition?

On the 14th of October, Nikon is set to announce its latest cameras. These are due to be updates to the Z 7 and Z 6 mirrorless cameras. There are a lot of expectations, but the biggest expected update for these cameras is… the second card slot.

The Uphill Battle

Public sentiment hasn’t been in Nikon’s favor for some time now. Currently, the company sits in fourth place in the mirrorless division, and it doesn’t look like it’s gaining any significant ground. Companies like Sony and Canon have cemented their positions already and unfortunately, Nikon just doesn’t have any seriously compelling offerings. In some sense, it feels as though Nikon is constantly playing catch up with the rest of the market.

The Nikon Z 6, for example, released back in November 2018, is an alternative to the Sony a7 III; a camera that was released a whole seven months before it. The problem is that the Z 6 is essentially just a copy and paste version of the Sony. Aside from a few knick-knacks, the features are pretty much the same.

The Nikon Z 6 (left) and Sony a7 III (right).

A similar comparison could be made between the Z 7 and the Sony a7R III, which is a camera that was superseded more than a year ago. It’s no surprise that Nikon has been slipping in the market because it seems to be playing catch-up with its current main competitor.

The Nikon Z 7 (left) and Sony a7R III (right).

This is one of the key reasons why it’s going to so difficult for Nikon to fight back, especially against Sony. The hand-me-down strategy they have with Sony sensors is inevitably going to keep them a few steps behind. In essence, Nikon is trying to compete against Sony with both arms tied.

Admittedly, I am oversimplifying the Sony and Nikon relationship, however, I doubt Nikon will be producing cameras with next-generation sensors before Sony does.

Even the rumored Z 9 camera has leaked specifications that are essentially the same as the EOS R5, except that it’s already late.

Lenses

The first few lenses that Nikon announced for its mirrorless system were pretty boring. Sure, Nikon announced the 58mm f/0.95 Noct too, but this lens is nothing more than an impractical, bragging rights badge of honor. I doubt very many people will be moving over to the Nikon system purely because of the Noct. The main lenses that Nikon initially announced were overpriced f/1.8 lenses.

The $8,000 Nikon NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct.

These f/1.8 lenses were priced close to what some f/1.4 lenses cost, which creates several problems. First, it creates a steep barrier for entry. Most people like to shoot with inexpensive f/1.8 prime lenses because they generally offer enough quality. This also means that any potential f/1.4 lenses will probably cost far too much. It just doesn’t create an attractive ecosystem.

Consider what Canon did with its f/1.8 and f/2.0 lenses. Both the 35mm and 85mm are priced reasonably and offer brilliant quality. They are relatively sharp wide open and offer macro features too. Weighing up the systems, Canon looks like the better option.

From left to right: the $499 Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM, the $599 Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM, the $850 Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S, and the $800 Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S.

Sony, too, has a range of inexpensive lenses available. The 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses, all of which offer great quality results, without a ridiculous price point.

From left to right: the $450 Sony FE 28mm f/2, the $250 Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, and the $599 Sony FE 85mm f/1.8.

Considering how similar the cameras are between Nikon and Sony, it’s the lenses that really make the difference and Sony has better options available.

Autofocus

Nikon has come a long way since its DSLR days when it comes to focusing using the image sensor. Both the Z 6 and Z 7 have pretty good autofocus features. Unfortunately, it’s not competitive enough.

Canon has been developing its Dual Pixel AF technology for almost a decade. Cameras like the 70D, which was released all the way back in 2013, came with this feature. For video, there still isn’t anything that really beats this AF system. This gave Canon a great deal of experience in this department and it’s something that has really carried Canon forward.

The latest cameras from Canon have incredible AF features and this is all with DPAF.

Sony has also been working hard on developing its AF technology and has come a long way since the original a7 camera. Currently, Sony might have the best overall AF system for mirrorless cameras.

Unfortunately, Nikon is still noticeably behind in this area. It’s pretty difficult to recommend Nikon over Canon and Sony when the AF system isn’t up to par.

Playing it Too Safe?

Nikon seriously needs to update its AF system and that is, unfortunately, easier said than done. I’m hoping that the latest cameras due to be announced this month will have a much better AF system. If it’s on par with Canon and Sony, then that by itself will make a huge difference.

The AF system needs to be effective for both video and photography because these are all hybrid cameras now.

For lenses, Nikon really needs to consider producing a line of inexpensive f/2 lenses. The f/1.8 slot has already been taken with the current pricey options; however, Nikon could create a low price entry point with f/2 primes. I also think that Nikon should completely skip the f/1.4 line of lenses and jump straight to f/1.2 primes instead. That way there is a greater gap between the inexpensive options and the “premium” lenses.

The key thing that Nikon needs to do is to not play it so safe. We already have Sony producing all of the “standard” lenses and the somewhat reserved mentality to new camera systems. Sony is already the “safe” manufacturer, whereas Canon is the company producing crazy 8k cameras, drop-in filter adapters, and f/2 zoom lenses. Canon has also produced two super-tele f/11 prime lenses, which shows that it isn’t afraid to take risks. Aside from an ornamental mantelpiece f/0.95 lens, Nikon hasn’t taken any real risks.

Between all of the manufacturers, Nikon is playing far too safe and due to this, it just doesn’t have a significant enough unique selling proposition (USP).

Accepting the Niche

It may be an idea for Nikon to accept a smaller portion of the market and scale back its organization to match. Directly competing with Sony and Canon may just not work, so Nikon needs to come at this problem from a different angle. I think Nikon should start producing more niche type products, specifically for individual photography segments.

Nikon could potentially approach lens design similar to how Venus Optics does. Laowa lenses are pretty odd in comparison to many regular lenses and that’s what makes them utterly brilliant.

The Venus Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro probe lens.

What if Nikon produced a full-frame version of a technical camera all with tilt and shift capabilities built-in? The lens mount in the new Z system is huge and if Nikon coupled it with a few large image circle lenses, I think that could work pretty well. Add 16-bit raw files to it and I think that would be a pretty incredible system.

I appreciate these are some outlandish suggestions, but the point is that we don’t need another company offering what Sony already is. Nikon needs to acquire a new identity.

Final Thoughts

I appreciate that many people may not like the comparison I’m making between Nikon and Sony. Some of you may want to point out certain differences between both mirrorless systems, but ultimately, they’re pretty interchangeable… except that Sony is doing it better.

This is why I think Nikon really needs to reevaluate its strategy and adjust its identity a little.

Nikon has done so much for the industry and it would be a dire shame to see this company fail. I’m hoping that I’m wrong and this dip in the market for Nikon is just a blip. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look that way, and I really hope that Nikon can find a way through this.


About the author: Usman Dawood is the lead photographer of Sonder Creative, an architectural and interior photography company. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Dawood’s work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube.