Inspired by do-it-yourself camera parts and projects, Ping-Hsun Chen and Ruha Cheng took things a step further and released a retro-style RUHAcam kit built around a Raspberry Pi Zero W connected to the High-Quality Camera Module.
As noted by Digital Camer World, the RUHAcam takes the 12.3MP Sony IMX477 Sensor powered Raspberry Pi digital camera with adjustable back focus support for C- and CS-mount lenses — shown in the video above — and adapts it into a fully 3D printed digital camera that can be built at home. Builders will need some additional components, the details of which can be found in the project’s GitHub page here, as well as the link to the software required to run the system for free using the MIT license.
This little homemade system boasts a built-in 2,000mAh Li-Pi battery, a 2.2in Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) display that behaves as both the viewfinder and review screen, and the 3D-printed body that is inspired by classic film SLR cameras. The C and CS-mount lenses are typically found on CCTV systems and 16mm film cameras, so there should be no shortage of online stocks for those who don’t already own them. To save some time, the Raspberry Pi dealers offer two lenses with their camera kit: a 6mm CS-mount for $25, and a 16mm for $50 (14mm and 37mm full-frame equivalent field of view, respectively).
The Sony sensor included in this kit is also capable of capturing 4k video, so with future updates from the Raspberry Pi community, this little system could be used to capture some incredibly versatile and creative works of art. The Raspberry Pi High-Quality Camera Module is a small and very affordable programmable computer that’s about the size of a credit card. This particular system costs about $50 and is meant to encourage people, especially children, to learn computer programming languages like Python and Scratch.
Cheng and Chen have also stated they plan to improve the software for the RUHAcam to add new and better controls to the user interface, as well as being able to communicate with smartphones to easily share and edit images captured by the device.
Image credits: Photos by Ping-Hsun “penk” Chen and used per MIT license here.
Despite lots of gorgeous resolution and a beautiful solid metal design, the $6,400 Hasselblad 907X 50c is not without its problems. It lacks a traditional viewfinder and has noticeably slow autofocus.
It’s a system that took a fair bit of practice to get used to, but once you manage to figure out the camera’s quirks, you are sure to fall in love with the images you create with it. It’s up for debate if that effort is worth it in the end, as as much as the 907X gets right, frustrating design limitations hold it back from truly spreading its wings.
Hasselblad’s latest medium format digital system is not only a throwback to the classic looking film systems of the companies early days, but also a beautiful metal 50-megapixel box that can operate as both a standalone digital system or as a digital back for classic Hasselblad V-System cameras that were made from 1957 and beyond. While it is slightly smaller than the other medium format bodies that the company has made in the past, it is still jam-packed with every feature you have come to expect from the Hasselblad name.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this system is the lack of a “traditional” viewfinder — electronic or optical — built into the camera. That said, there is an optional optical viewfinder for $499 that you can mount onto the system that has a fairly wide field of view and is detailed with markings for the XCD 21,30, and 45mm lenses to give you some idea for your image framing. It is definitely a neat-looking addition that adds a touch of flair to the system, but I didn’t find much use for it personally, even when shooting outdoors in bright light. In fact, shooting in bright light, in general, is tough with this camera.
If you’ve never shot with a top-down system before, the first few hours using this system can feel a tad awkward since you have to look at the rear touch screen display by holding it at eye level, or taking advantage of flipping the screen out a full 90 degrees to give you a little more flexibility with positioning. Luckily, I have been shooting with an old Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) system for a few years so the transition wasn’t hard to get used to. You can shoot this system using a shutter button located on the bottom corner of the camera much like traditional film systems, or by mounting an optional grip ($729) that provides you with four additional button, two dials, and a small joystick for more manual control over the system. Personally, I preferred using the grip to shoot since it allowed for much faster and easier setting changes.
The battery and dual SD memory card slots are found on the right side of the camera behind a “hidden” USB-C port on the left-hand side that is used to tether or charge the system. Under the touch display, there are a series of ports hidden under a rubber door that includes connections for headphones, mic, and flash ports. It is worth noting that while all of these connections and slots are hidden, there are zero claims of weather sealing anywhere on the product pages for this system. So if you plan on taking the 907X out in any sort of non-perfect weather, do so at your own risk.
If you have ever used traditional TLR systems or any of the classic Hasselblad film cameras, using the 907X will feel quite familiar. If not, then it’s definitely going to shake things up and leave you with a bit of a learning curve to figure out, especially if you opt to use the camera without any of the optional accessories for added functionality.
Without the grip, you’ll notice there’s only one dial on the system that encompasses the shutter button on the front of the camera. By default, this will adjust the f-stop, but holding the small button on the opposite side of the camera down while spinning this dial will adjust your shutter speed. All other controls like ISO and shooting modes are only accessible via the touchscreen display on the back of the system. That’s not something that everyone will like, but the nice thing is the touch screen is incredibly responsive and smooth which makes even zooming in on image previews and moving forward/backward an absolute breeze.
The menu system on the 907X is actually quite refreshing. Compared to systems like Sony and even Nikon, the Hasselblad 907X menu is incredibly simplistic and easy to use. There are 5 buttons below the 3.2-inch touch screen with almost every function you need access to accessible by the touch functions. The menu is fully customizable letting you place your “favorites” in the order you’d prefer.
Another feature worth covering in this section is the Phocus 2 app for mobile devices. Connecting this system is incredibly easy and allows for some very handy camera controls if you decide to shoot it remotely. If you set it up, you can also download full-size JPEGs right to your phone or mobile device for fast client or social sharing.
There’s a lot of good things packed into this medium format system, but it is worth mentioning that battery life is not one of those things.
It is by no means the worst I’ve experienced and since many camera manufacturers are able to offer all-day life in batteries much smaller in size, I was hoping for even just a little more out of them. In the real working world, I would recommend having no less than two spare batteries with you so you’d not have to worry about a full day of shooting. This should let you keep a rotation of charged batteries going if you’re not in a position to plug the camera into a USB-C power source while on set.
The 907X can also shoot video. However, there is no stabilization available and the max resolution for video is 2.7K at 29.97fps which crops the image to 16:9. This crop was surprising to me given the native 4:3 ratio of the system for stills but, despite these not-so-impressive video specifications, the incredible colors you get from your stills also apply to your video. Just be sure to have things locked down on a tripod and pre-focused before you start shooting as even light jostling of the camera is extremely noticeable in the footage.
Image Quality And Dynamic Range
The photo quality is where things really stood out for me and my testing. The 907X system with the CFV II 50C is capable of capturing 50MP images at 8272 x 6200 pixels, which is significantly larger than a standard full-frame system but the sensor isn’t exactly new — It’s the same sensor as the X1D released in 2018.
Even without a brand new sensor, there’s just something about the colors that come out of this rig that are jaw-dropping. I’ve worked with a lot of systems over the years and there’s just something about the color you get out of the Hasselblad systems that I love. Maybe it boils down to personal editing style, but the image colors are almost exactly where I want them straight out of the camera, and I find they require very few adjustments.
The Hasselblad 907X has 14 stops of dynamic range available. While this was incredible at one point, it isn’t anything crazy anymore. However, what I found is the 907X will leave you with an incredible amount of detail in those recovered highlights and shadows to a degree that I feel exceeds expectations for those coming from full-frame or smaller.
While the camera can shoot from ISO 100 to ISO 25,600, there is a very noticeable grain present once you hit that ISO 6400 mark. It is not “bad” as it really reminds me of shooting on film, but be aware that the low-lit shots will have noise in them that is very visible.
Once you get comfortable with the intricacies of the system, you’re bound to notice the first major “flaw” in this camera and that’s just how slow and noisy the autofocus is. The 907X with the CFV II 50C back will definitely force you to change the way you shoot. In a weird way, it is kind of like jumping back to film shooting after years of digital-only.
Unlike some of the other recent cameras I have been testing which have made speed and burst shooting a primary feature, the Hasselblad makes you slow down, stop, and really appreciate what you’re putting into the photo. Clearly, this system isn’t aimed at action shooters since you have to frame, adjust the ISO, shutter, aperture, and then adjust the focus before snapping the final shot.
This is not a deal-breaker in the grand scheme of things, but it’s definitely worth being aware of if you’re a shooter who needs faster autofocus for your work. The system isn’t really designed with a street photographer or action shooter in mind but is instead meant for more thought-out, planned shoots in controlled environments. I missed focus on so many photos just trying to photograph my dog while doing some testing with the system.
What I Liked
Discreet, vintage-looking system (if you leave off all the accessories)
Very responsive touchscreen
Mobile app is very easy to setup and use
Gorgeous color science and medium format image quality
Classic historic feel
Additional accessories increase “usability”
Modular design makes using with older systems easy and fun
Not exactly cheap, but still one of the more affordable modular Medium Format Systems on the market
What I Didn’t Like
Additional accessories are expensive
Very slow and noisy autofocus
Weak battery Life
Video features are available but very limited
Lack of a “true” viewfinder makes shooting outdoors in bright conditions difficult
Missing traditional hot/cold shoe mounts for accessories and triggers
For the Love of the Photos, Not the Experience
This system is aimed at a professional studio, fine art, and commercial photographer. The ideal customer is one who is looking to combine the unique look and shooting experience with photos that reach incredible quality. If money isn’t an issue, and you want to flex a retro style with your medium format digital system, then perhaps the Hasselblad 907X and CFV 50C should be on your radar.
For most everyone else though, as much good as the camera offers it has so many other major pitfalls. It’s expensive, slow, the battery life is poor, and while its design is great for use in a controlled environment like a studio, it’s not really good for anything else. It’s a bit frustrating, to be honest, and expensive: everything together without any lenses is going to cost around $7,500. The camera body retails for $6,400, the grip kit is an additional $730, and the optical viewfinder adds on $500 more. Adding lenses is going to rack that price up even higher.
What there is to like here is bogged down by other issues that come very close to souring the whole experience.
Are There Alternatives?
There are several other medium format systems available for a similar price including the $5,750 X1D II 50C, the $4,499 Fujifilm GFX 50R, the $5,499 Fujifilm GFX 50S, and then some Phase One XT & XF Medium format systems that range in price from from $6,000-9,000. All of these systems offer you a suite of capabilities and lenses that’ll let you capture nearly anything you want to shoot. Each brand can offer more options, and more expensive medium format systems as well should you really want to dive down that rabbit hole. Specifically, the X1D II solves some of the issues that plague the 907X by offering a dedicated viewfinder and more buttons, but it doesn’t fix the slow autofocus or the battery life.
The bottom line is, there are a lot of systems out there for you to choose from at very similar prices. The decision on what to buy boils down to your personal preference of design, color science, and specific features available within each system. One benefit the Hasselblad system has going for it is the ability to use older film bodies with the digital back, along with its wide variety of lenses, which should make it an easier decision if you have some of those cameras in your kit already.
Should You Buy It?
Probably not. The 907x is a fantastic-looking retro camera that is undeniably fun to shoot. Hasselblad should be commended for the design here, as medium format cameras rarely look this good. Additionally, if you already own Hasselblad cameras and lenses, want to do more with medium format systems, and want to do it in style, then yes, it can be recommended.
But there are not a lot of people that fit into that extremely tight niche.
The colors and detail of the raw files straight out of the camera are honestly some of the best I have ever worked with and shot on to date. But, to be fair, while the colors may not be as nice straight out of the camera, with proper lenses you can get just as much detail out of the similarly priced Sony Alpha 1, get a better overall experience out of any of the current Fujifilm GFX cameras, or save yourself a few thousand dollars and use the Nikon Z7 II.
It appears Samsung is having exploding phone issues again, although it’s not the battery this time, but the camera. US-based attorneys at Hagens Berman have filed a class-action lawsuit against Samsung over defective Samsung Galaxy S20 devices that experience the camera glass shattering unexpectedly during what they describe as normal use. The lawsuit was filed […]
I’m not the first on the block to write about the Fujifilm X-E4, but I finally got around to doing it and I’m glad that I did.
Full disclosure: Fujifilm North America sent me the Fujifilm X-E4 free of charge along with the new 27mm f/2.8 II, thumb grip, and bottom plate hand grip, so basically the entire kit. However, there were no strings attached and I was not required to talk about the camera nor make any content with it.
The X-E4 is Fujifilm’s 5th camera in this series. You may be shaking your head wondering why it’s called the X-E4 and not the X-E5. Well, I’m going to tell you so just be patient. Originally this new camera line was named — can you guess? — the X-E1. No surprise there but then we had the X-E2 and then a variant of the second camera named the X-E2s which was surpassed by the X-E3.
The X-E3 was the first camera in this line to do away with the beloved D-pad. Oddly enough I rarely miss it nowadays and that’s just fine because the new X-E4 has carried over the tradition of the missing D-pad. In fact, the whole camera is extremely minimalistic in its approach. At first glance, this may seem problematic but after shooting it all week long, I hardly noticed the missing buttons and actually found it liberating to a degree.
The day before my getaway to sunny Sarasota, Florida, with my wife Nikki, three boxes arrive at my doorstep. The Fujifilm X-E4 and the 27mm lens in one, a thumb grip that attaches to the hot shoe in another, and in the last box a bottom plate which also has a substantial grip and Arca Swiss type tripod mount milled into the bottom portion. It allows easy access to the bottom trap door which houses the battery.
Sadly, this same trap door is used for the single card slot similar to the Fujifilm X100V, which is a shame because I found it extremely difficult to remove the SD card from its slot location while having the bottom plate grip attached.
One thing to note is that the thumb grip and bottom plate grip come at an extra cost, and they just might be needed because without them you are left hold what is basically a magnesium flat box similar to that of a Leica M or Leica Q. While speaking about the X100V, it’s only necessary to address the obvious: which do you buy? In my honest opinion, the two cameras couldn’t be more different even though they share similarities.
What Makes Them the Same?
Overall build quality. Yes, I’m aware the X100V is weather resistant and the X-E4 is not, but in terms of materials, they are the same. This was not always the case. When I owned my X-E3 and X-E2S they felt a bit on the plastic side. All that is gone now and the edges are just as refined with the X-E4 as they are with the X100V.
They house the same sensor, the 23.5mm x 15.6mm (APS-C) X-Trans CMOS 4, giving you 26.1 megapixels.
They are roughly the same size depending on what lens you attach to your X-E4. They both have flip-up screens and an EVF.
In every aspect they have a similar shooting experience.
What Makes Them Different?
Well, what most apparent is the X100V is a fixed 35mm focal length camera that utilizes a leaf shutter. The X-E4 is an interchangeable lens camera that uses a standard shutter.
The X100V has a hybrid optical and digital viewfinder an OLED screen with 3.69 million dots whereas the X-E4 uses only a Digital viewfinder which has an OLED screen with 2.36 million dots. Truth be told the difference to my eyes was negligible.
The X100V has a flip-out screen whereas the X-E4 has a full tilt screen which can be flipped 180 degrees to uses as a selfie screen.
The X100V has a built-in 4-stop ND filter which now is accessible in video and the X-E4 has none.
The X-E4 will shoot 30fps with a 1.25x crop. The X100V will spit out 20 fps with the same crop factor.
Both have similar video specs but again you’re limited with the X100V both is lens choice as well as screen display options. The X-E4 houses its ports on the left which includes the standard 3.5mm jack whereas the X100V has them on the right and uses an odd 2.5mm jack.
The X100V has a Manual, Continuous, and Single-shot switch on the body of the camera. This is not the case with the X-E4, where a menu dive is necessary or one must assign a custom function button.
The X-E4 has two custom function buttons if you count the AEL/AFL which can be assigned and one front control dial only which is clickable but you get three custom function buttons with the X100V as well as the assignable AEL/AFL button and both front and rear control dials.
The X100V has a built-in Flash and the X-E4 has… well, nothing!
17 Film Simulations with the X100V and the X-E4 will give you 18 with the addition of Eterna Bleach Bypass however both are missing the new Nostalgic Negative even though the X-E4 was released alongside the new GFX100S.
The X100V has a separate ISO dial within the shutter dial. Again the X-E4 requires a menu dive and a custom-assigned button for ISO changes. I use my AEL/AFL for this task.
I’m also enjoying the new menu style of the X-E4 where they have added color logos to the film simulations similar to that of the rear screen on the XPro3. They have also added a feature where you can simply update your film recipes much easier now with their “Auto Update Custom Setting” feature.
So now that I have broken my own rule by spewing out specs for each camera I need to sum up which to buy. Well… I’m not going to tell you that. That would be a personal choice dependent upon what and how you shoot. I’m certainly happy I have both but it’s going to be a hard sell for me to replace the X100V. In fact, most cameras will never be able to do that based on my shooting style, but I do see the value in the X-E4 and I think it’s worth its weight and a powerhouse in its own right.
I never found myself wanting or needing a different camera while dedicating myself to the X-E4 while vacationing for the week. The X-E4 would probably be better compared to the Fujifilm X-Pro line of cameras than that of the X100 series as it shares many of the same traits with that lineup.
The 27mm f/2.8 II is new and improved? Well, yes if you consider weather resistance and an aperture ring a positive, which I certainly do. However, with that said and out of the way, your images are going to be the same with the original version of this lens. I have seen numerous first-gen 27mm lenses on sale so you may get one at a bargain price. If water resistance and the aperture ring are not important to you, then go for it. For me they were and the aperture ring was a biggie in my book.
I think this was one of the reasons I rarely used my old 27mm and it’s a shame because I absolutely love the 40mm effective focal length and the pancake profile is perfect for having a small camera rig to walk around with. I found the lens to be very sharp and exhibit very little distortion. Even though the lens has been updated, we are still getting the noisy focusing that we had in the previous version.
I will leave you with a few snaps I took with the Fujifilm XE-4 while on vacation.
Overall I found the camera to be extremely responsive and a perfect companion for a day out on the streets. Small enough to place in a bag or large sweatshirt pocket when having the tiny 27mm attached.
I found the 27mm a great all-around lens. Wide enough for street (being close to a 35mm focal length) and also close enough to 50mm to offer some subject isolation and portrait snaps. If one is lucky enough to own the Fujifilm X-E4, you would be hard-pressed to find yourself in a situation where this camera would not perform in a way that you expect it to.
About the author: Joseph D’Agostino is a wedding, event, family, and portrait photographer based in New Jersey. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of D’Agostino’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.
You can now see the world from a wolf’s point of view. This 3-minute video is the first-ever camera collar footage shot from the perspective of a wild wolf.
The video was released by the Voyageurs Wolf Project, which studies wolves in the Greater Voyageurs Ecosystem of Minnesota. The group trapped a lone wolf, sedated it, put a camera collar on it, and released it back into the wild.
The camera captured the wolf running around in the forest, gnawing on a deer bone, stomping through a river, hunting fish trapped near a beaver dam, and more.
“What is particularly fascinating is that this wolf (V089, a lone wolf) knew how to hunt and catch fish,” the project says. “He can be seen eating 3 different fish, which were all killed and consumed at the same spot along the Ash River. Based on the amount of time this wolf spent in this spot, it is clear this wolf killed more than 3 fish.”
The camera collar was programmed to shoot 30 seconds of footage at the beginning of every daylight hour. With 14 hours of daylight, a total of 7 minutes of video was gathered on a daily basis.
“7 minutes of footage a day is not that much,” the project writes. “Luckily, we still captured some really neat stuff!”
The wolf was equipped with a Vectronic-Aerospace camera collar, which scientists use for wildlife studies. Nikon and GoPro have both dipped their toes in the doggy camera market in the past, but neither of those products gained much traction.
In addition to learning a lesson for next time (that the wolf’s scruffy beard can block a good portion of the frame), the footage revealed interesting things about wolf behavior.
“Up to this point, we had only documented wolves from a single pack (the Bowman Bay Pack) hunting and killing fish at the same small creek,” the project writes. “However, this footage clearly demonstrates that other wolves in our area know how to hunt fish and they do so in different areas.
“This revelation—in addition to some other info we learned in 2020 (i.e., we had another wolf from the Paradise Pack that went fishing…more about this soon!)—provides insight into the genesis and persistence of unique predation behaviors in wolf populations!”
Given all the choices when it comes to a new camera, it can be quite an ordeal to research and decide on just one. While it mostly depends on what you need as a photographer. If you’ve been leaning more towards picking up a mirrorless camera, then you’re in the right place and we’re here to help.
Mirrorless cameras have been popular in recent years for their compact size, superb performance, and growing lens selection. The style is quickly replacing DSLRs as the technology in mirrorless is rapidly outpacing that of DSLRs, which have all but stagnated. They’re often the best choice for most people, so we generally recommend looking at mirrorless cameras when you’re deciding on your next camera.
When it comes to any digital camera, mirrorless included, there are entry-level and pro options, and you can go for a crop sensor (often called by its more official name of APS-C), Full-Frame (more akin to classic 35mm film size), or even medium format (much larger sensor). All these sensor types have pros and cons, so weigh your options carefully. Whether you’re opting for a mirrorless camera for the first time or looking to upgrade your existing one, below are our suggestions for the best ones you can get your hands on this year.
What We’re Looking For
The main draw of mirrorless cameras lies in having the latest technology and high-resolution sensors in a more compact and lightweight package compared to most DSLRs. Fast burst mode capabilities, reliable connectivity, excellent video recording, image stabilization, and decent low-light shooting capabilities are some of the most in-demand features for photographers of all levels. Of course, being interchangeable lens cameras, they should also have a good selection of native lenses available in popular focal lengths.
While smaller and more lightweight, the latest mirrorless cameras don’t always come cheap, so below are our picks you can reference to help you make the right decision the first time.
With specs that make it really impressive on paper, it’s not surprising to find a lot of hype focused on the $6,500 full-frame Sony Alpha 1. In our recent review of the Sony Alpha 1, however, we’ve found that it does live to Sony’s promise of being a camera that can do whatever you want out of it.
With features like a new 50.1-megapixel sensor resolution, 15-plus stops dynamic range, ISO sensitivity of up to 32,000, incredibly fast autofocus, 30 fps continuous shooting mode, and weather sealing, you have a capable mirrorless camera for all your photography needs.
Likewise, video capabilities are superb, with 8K video and a host of high framerate options in both 4K and Full HD. Tie these features up with better battery life and improved body and you have a great choice for an all-around mirrorless camera.
The only major thing that may hold you back is the $6,500 price, especially if you don’t really need this high-end, professional model yet. The Alpha 1 earns that price, however, as it is the only camera on the market that offers these high-end, pro-focused features. If you want the best that money can buy, this is it.
The $3,900 Canon EOS R5, the company’s 2020 flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, remains a top choice for pros or anyone in need of excellent gear for a wide range of photography projects. With key specs that include a 45-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, 8K video capture and other filming modes, up to 12 fps (mechanical shutter) – 20 fps (electronic shutter) continuous shooting mode, weather sealing comparable to EOS 5D Mark IV, high-resolution viewfinder, fully articulating rear screen, and up to 8 stops of image stabilization (with the right lenses), it’s definitely one of the most capable options out there.
The highlight of this model is the 100% coverage Dual Pixel II AF system. While some photographers would argue Sony’s autofocus is superior, Canon is no slouch either. With a highly-rated autofocus system that covers the entire frame and implements reliable eye detection and subject tracking, it’s easy to capture perfectly focused shots of both human and animal subjects. However, there is one major caveat — if you’re planning to shoot a lot of videos, best beware of overheating issues.
As a camera that boasts the features to keep up with a true hybrid workflow, however, it’s really hard to beat the EOS R5: it is a complete package that works for a wide range of shooters. Canon has made great strides in improving dynamic range and the image quality of the R5 is top-notch because of that. Against others who offer high resolution, video features, and compete in this price range, the Canon EOS R5 is just a nose ahead.
Many of the cameras on this list have outstanding video capabilities, and so do many models that have been released in the last couple of years. However, if you’re planning to get a mirrorless camera primarily for video use, consider the $3,500 Sony a7S III.
The third version of Sony’s video-focused full-frame series boasts of features that include UHD 4K video at up to 120p, 16-bit Raw video output, 10-bit 4:2:2 internal video, and 5-axis in-body stabilization. It also sports a 12 MP BSI CMOS sensor, a Bionz XR processor, a 9.44M-dot EVF, and a fully articulating rear LCD screen. These features and specs are paired with major enhancements such as a redesigned touchscreen menu system, a sizable high-resolution viewfinder, ergonomic improvements borrowed from the a9 and a7R IV, and two dual-format card slots that take either UHS-II SD cards or CFexpress Type-A cards.
When it comes to a compact video camera that keeps the form factor of a modern mirrorless camera, the Sony a7S III is the one to beat.
Coming close second to this camera is the full-frame Panasonic Lumix S1H, also especially designed for videographers. It also features advanced video capabilities that include 6K resolution, video scopes, 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording, anamorphic capture, and full V-Log gamma. On top of all that, the S1H is also an outstanding 24MP camera for stills. Unfortunately, its autofocus capability and internal recording options come up just short of what Sony offers.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the slightly more expensive Sony FX3 is basically the a7S III repackaged into a smaller body but comes with more pro-focused physical features like a camcorder-style detachable handle and mounting points for camera cages designed directly into the body.
Medium format mirrorless cameras have been steadily gaining the preference of professional photographers who require the ultimate image quality with the most accurate color reproduction. While medium format sensors sacrifice autofocus and shooting performance speeds, they are well known for having the best possible image quality in a modern digital camera. If your goal is to make incredible studio portraits or beautiful high-resolution landscape images, medium format might be for you.
Freshly introduced, the $6,000 Fujifilm GFX 100S is already making rounds as the medium format camera to beat.
The GFX 100S boasts impressive features like a 102-megapixel BSI-CMOS sensor, improved image stabilization at up to 6EV, 4K 30p video capabilities, up to 5.0 fps continuous shooting, and multi-shot 400 MP mode for stationary subjects — all in a relatively small and compact body. If you’re a fan of Fujifilm’s Film Simulation, you might also enjoy the additional “Nostalgic Neg” mode, which is inspired by the look of Stephen Shore’s iconic color photography.
Lately, it feels like Fujifilm’s biggest competition in the medium format space is itself, and that’s certainly the case here with the 50R, 50S, and 100 all coming in as solid options (although the 100S is our pick as the best of the bunch). While there are options from Hasselblad, feature-for-feature the Fujifilm is just superior right now, even if lens options favor Hasselblad. For now, most photographers are going to find the Fujifilm GFX 100S to check the most boxes.
Crop sensor doesn’t mean bad — it just means a smaller sensor. This can mean weaker low light performance and dynamic range, but it also means that the entire camera package can be smaller: smaller bodies and smaller lenses. For a traveling photographer, the slight tradeoff in image quality is worth the lighter camera bag. These days, that tradeoff isn’t even significant, as is the case with our pick here.
Fujifilm’s latest 26-megapixel $1,700 X-T4, the “sister model” of the earlier X-T3, is an outstanding option. The X-T4 makes improvements over its predecessor, like better autofocus, the addition of in-body image stabilization, faster continuous shooting at 20 fps, additional processing options, and a larger capacity battery.
Other key features that make it a great choice for both stills and video include 4K capture at up to 60p, 1080 video at up to 240 fps, a fully articulating rear touchscreen, dual UHS-II card slots, a 3.68M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, the inclusion of 12 Fujifilm Film Simulation modes, and USB charging via USB-C type connector.
Recently, many competitors are launching entry-level full-frame cameras for around the same price as the X-T4, and tout better image quality thanks to the larger sensor. And while that’s all well and good, the compact nature of the X-T4 sensor is what makes it so attractive. And while image quality might be better on a bigger sensor, the X-trans sensor is no slouch: images captured with the X-T4 are fantastic. Additionally, the added cost of the full-frame sensor has to come from somewhere, and those entry-level cameras will cut video features, frame rate, or autofocus capabilities to keep those costs down. The X-T4 doesn’t have to do that. It’s one of the best cameras you can buy period, and our pick for the best crop sensor camera available.
If you’re just starting out your photography journey on the mirrorless camera route, you definitely don’t need the pricey pro models with all the bells and whistles. If the Fujifilm X-T3 or X-T4 caught your attention but are a bit too expensive, the $900 Fujifilm X-T30 may be a better fit.
This is because the X-T30 carries many of the features of the pricier X-T3. These include a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor, X-Processor 4 Quad Core-CPU, tilting 3-inch touchscreen display, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and up to 20 fps continuous shooting mode. Other features that make the X-T30 a good choice for beginners include Hybrid AF system with 425 phase-detect points (so you don’t miss that shot), dedicated dials for drive, exposure compensation, and shutter speed settings, and DCI and UHD 4K 30p video. All of these are housed in a noticeably smaller package than the X-T4, which can also be an advantage if you’re looking to start with a more compact option.
Shooting the X-T30 side-by-side with the X-T4 often feels like hardly a tradeoff at all. Sure, it’s a smaller, more consumer-friendly camera and doesn’t have all the higher-end photo and video chops, but it has plenty and is capable of making beautiful images. The design is easy for a newcomer to approach and won’t break the bank either. While you could consider something like the Sony a6400, we think that the confusing menu and number of options can overwhelm a new shooter, and that overall the Fujifilm X-T30 is the better pick for more people. If you aren’t afraid to spend just a little bit more, the X-S10 is also a solid pick and has a more “traditional” body design that is akin to offerings from Sony, Canon, and Nikon. It’s also a great camera, and you can read our review of it here.
A few years ago I built an ultra-large-format (ULF) camera that is 24 inches by 24 inches. While it was a pretty huge camera, it was a simple build it was just two square standards, one for the front and one from the back that were connected by a big bellow.
There was no support base or focusing rails and I just support the two standards by using two tripods, so it was not the most stable camera. After a while, I dismantled the whole setup and recycled the wood and the bellows so I thought that would be the end of my Ultra Large Format (ULF) camera building adventures but who knows?
Then a while back, my friend passed me a big lens and it got me thinking of rebuilding an ultra-large format camera again.
The story was that my friend came across a camera collector near a local market during one of his walks and spotted this big lens. Money changed hands and he brought over the lens.
After some research, I discovered that it is an aerial lens. It was used in an aerial camera mounted on aircraft for surveillance photos, probably during World War 2 or later. The lens weighs 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) and the focal length is 36 inches and has the biggest aperture at f/6.3. However, no brand or maker’s mark can be found on it. It may be one of the few lenses that were made by different companies during the war.
As the lens is so heavy, I built a wooden lens support for it. It is made with a few pieces of wood and I cut some curves that will fit the front part of the lens. I also designed it so that there are two height adjustments as my camera design will be of a rectangular shape and there may be a need to mount the camera at different heights for landscape and portrait orientation.
Watch the video about the lens here:
As I do not have the space for a ULF camera, I decided to just make one from corrugated cardboard boxes. I opted for a sliding camera design but with a twist in the back design. It has 2 sleeves holes cut out at the sides so that I can put my hands inside to load the paper. The “dark slide” would be at the back of the camera covering up the ground glass when I need to load the photo paper and doing exposure.
With no removable film holder, I would load the paper would by sticking it on the ground glass using magnets. I am not sure this is considered innovative, but I must say I have never come across a similar design in other cameras.
Watch the video about the camera building here:
While the camera has a working aperture, there is no shutter control for it. Initially, I built a simple cardboard lens cap for it and use it to control the exposure. You “remove and place back” the lens cap for exposure. This is a common method to control exposure in barrel lenses. However, this method will not work if I were to take my own self-portrait.
As the lens is so big (diameter ), it is hard to find a commercial shutter like the common Packard shutter for it. Again I built a flap shutter for it. Then I just use rubber bands (or elastic bands for longer-lasting elasticity). I tied a long string to it so to open the shutter just pull the string to pull down the flap. When the string is released, the flap will be pulled back by the elastic bands.
Watch the video about the shutter building here:
Here are photo negatives shown next to a Nikon F2 for a perspective of scale:
Here are positive photos after digital conversion:
Overall this is a successful prototype build that helped me to test (1) the lens itself and (2) the camera design.
Hopefully I will have the resources to build a more permanent ULF camera in the future.
About the author: Cheng Qwee Low is a (mainly) film photographer based in Singapore. In addition to using cameras ranging from 35mm to ultra-large-format 8×20, Low also enjoys alternative processes such as kallitype and albumen printing. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Low’s work on his website and YouTube. This article was also published here.
Frequent readers know that I have been covering —and taming— camera shyness for several years, and that I have actually documented three types of camera shyness. They also know that I encourage camera manufacturers to eliminate shyness via firmware updates, and I suggest multiple workarounds to solve them in workflow articles. The difficulty many people have is how to determine whether their camera is shy or outgoing in a particular live mode (spatial resolution together with framerate). Many other tech journalists have reviewed the Shinobl for its primary purpose as a monitor for exposure and framing of an image. In this targeted review, I’ll cover a particular feature others haven’t: How great an instrument the Shinobi monitor is to instantly check shyness of your cameras in each particular mode, so you can act accordingly. Of course, I’ll give you a refresher about the three camera shyness types and explain why the Shinobi is actually better than any other Átomos device for this shyness detection mission.
Refresher regarding desired framerates
As I have covered before, the only justification for higher framerates in final delivery is if you are covering fast action, like sports or gaming. That is when it is justifiable to use high framerates in final delivery, like 50p or ≈59.94p in final delivery. If you are only covering talking heads, it is a tremendous waste of bandwidth to use such high framerates. Given a limited bandwidth budget, each frame will need to be compressed more to achieve the extra frames per second. That’s why, if you are covering only talking heads for web streaming, you are better off with a lower final delivery framerate like:
≈23.976p (sometimes rounded to 23.98)
Of course, even higher framerates are available with some cameras for super slow motion, but that goes beyond the scope of this particular article.
Refresher about the three types of “shy” camera situations over HDMI
There are three types of 1080p shyness in cameras over HDMI, in order of importance: PsF, Telecine and Doubling.
Type 1: PsF (progressive segmented frame)
I am separating PsF (progressive segmented frame) into three subcategories:
When the shy camera is set to image (and sometimes also to record internally) with a common progressive framerate (in ex NTSC regions) like ≈29.97p, it sadly outputs the signal as PsF (progressive segmented frame), in other words, disguised as ≈59.94i. To be more specific, it takes each progressive frame and segments it into two artificial fields, each with half of the original pixel resolution and each with 540 intertwining lines to add up to the original 1080. Unlike true 1080i —where each field can potentially have different temporal (time) information when there is movement, with PsF the temporal information of each artificial field is always identical.
Similarly, when the shy camera is set to image (and record internally) with a common progressive framerate (in ex PAL regions) like 25p, it sadly outputs it the signal as PsF (progressive segmented frame), in other words, disguised as 50i.
The third PsF case is very rare nowadays and never happens with HDMI, but only with some SDI and with very expensive cameras, where with the ≈23.976p (aka ≈23.98p) rate the camera sadly outputs the signal as PsF (progressive segmented frame), in other words, disguised as 47.952. (In the case of HDMI, shy 1080p cameras in ≈23.976p use a telecine method with a 2:3 (aka 3:2) pulldown explained ahead.) This rare case is outside the scope of this article.
Type 2: Telecine with pulldown
To make the ≈23.976 fit in a more standard ≈59.94i television rate, telecine performs a complex assignment to make pieces of the original frames “fit” into ≈59.94 fields, some of which contain the same temporal information and others don’t.
This is illustrated in the above graphic, which I created in 2008 to illustrate my very first article in ProVideo Coalition magazine. The instructions for the pulldown (i.e. “Put the first progressive frame in both fields of the first interlaced video frame. Now, put the second progressive frame in both fields of the second video frame in the first field of the third video frame, then…”) seem as twisted as the Twister game which dates back to 1966.
Type 3: Doubling of progressive frames per second
When set to image and record ≈29.97p, some shy 1080p cameras double the number of frames per second to ≈59.94 progressive frames per second on the HDMI or SDI output. Similarly, when set to image and record 25p, they double the output framerate to 50p (50 progressive frames per second) over HDMI or SDI. As long as your hardware can accept high progressive framerates like 1080/50p and 1080/≈59.94p (i.e. more recent models like the UltraStudio Recorder 3G, ATEM Mini, ATEM Mini Pro, ATEM Mini Pro ISO), this is the easiest type of shyness to solve, and doesn’t require the video mixer (“switcher”) developers/manufacturers to do anything special, as several already have at my request to properly resolve PsF and telecine while retaining all of the original image quality. To solve type 3 shyness, the user/operator should simply set the camera menu and the session in the video mixer for the desired delivery framerate (1080/25p or 1080/≈29.97p) and the mixer or software will simply skip half of the repeated progressive frames per second. This solution is not perfect (and does not help with type 1 or type 2 shyness), but has been the best way to solve type 3 shyness when your camera suffers from it over HDMI, until it became possible (with some cameras) it is solved by outputting 4K UHD over HDMI. However, that is only appropriate if you have a reasonable way of downscaling from 4K UHD to 1080p in real time, at a reasonable cost, and at the matching original framerate, as covered in past and upcoming articles.
Why the Shinobi is ideal to test camera shyness in each mode
Most other portable monitors I have seen sadly round non-integer framerates to the closest integer and many don’t even indicate whether the incoming signal is presented is progressive or interlaced. Fortunately, the Shinobi —and other products from Átomos— display non-integer incoming framerates to two decimals. (I would prefer three in the case of 23.976 but I’ll accept 23.98 as close enough for the purpose of camera shyness. It’s certainly much better than rounding it to “24”, which is a completely different but acceptable framerate even in 2021.) In addition, the Shinobi indicates whether any HD input is progressive or interlaced. In that sense, the Shinobi goes beyond its published specs
Even though other similar devices from Átomos can also display incoming framerates up to two decimals, they also have a wonderful feature (for internal recording) that Átomos actually added at my request several years ago: Those monitor/recorders (and some converter boxes) from Átomos can additionally perform reverse telecine to compensate for type 1 and 2 camera shyness. That feature is great for the purpose of recording in Átomos recorders, but if the operator is not very careful, the Átomos recorder can be doing reverse telecine and displaying the end result, not the original incoming type. That is the one reason why the Shinobi is better than the monitor/recorders, i.e. when you are planning to use the signal another way, i.e. live streaming or to feed a video mixer (“switcher”), since the Shinobi is completely foolproof to detect shyness, when that is the primary goal. With the other monitor/recorders, it could be displaying the result after an inverse telecine process, which is great for internal recording, but subject to human error as a standalone shyness detection instrument.
Examples when the Shinobi detects camera shyness
As you may have read in my recent article called Sony ZV-1 camera framerate shyness + outgoing modes via HDMI & USB (illustrated above), the Shinobi helped me determine when the ZV-1 is shy and also when the ZV-1 is guilty of rounding non-integer rates to the closest integer in menus and onscreen displays. The Shinobi always displays rates to two decimals and also indicates whether it’s progressive or interlaced (although that interlaced indication actually means that it’s PsF when the camera is set to image and/or record progressive internally).
Above, the Shinobi reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and record internally 1080p at ≈29.97p. However, the ZV-1 is sadly outputting double the rate over HDMI: ≈59.94p, i.e. type 3 shyness.
Above, the Shinobi reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and record internally 1080p at 25p. However, the ZV-1 is sadly outputting double the rate over HDMI, i.e 50p. type 3 shyness.
Above, the Shinobi reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and record internally 1080p at ≈23.976p. However, the ZV-1 is sadly outputting ≈59.94p over HDMI, type 2 and 3 shyness combined. With a different setting in the ZV-1, it outputs 1080i at 59.94i (not shown in the photo), which is type 2 shyness.
Above, the Shinobl reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and output 4K UHD at ≈29.97p and is fortunately not shy.
Above, the Shinobl reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and output 4K UHD at 25p and is fortunately not shy.
Above, the Shinobl reveals that the ZV-1 is set to image and output 4K UHD at ≈23.976p and is fortunately not shy. However, both devices round it to 23.98.
Whether we like it or not, camera manufacturers are still making shy cameras in 2021 for reasons that no longer make sense. The Shinobi from Átomos is the best standalone and foolproof device to test camera shyness and to know exactly what the camera is actually outputting, so we can take evasive action, as I have covered in many other articles. Of course, the Shinobi is also great to check your framing, focus, lighting and exposure, as many other tech journalists have covered in their reviews. I am glad that Átomos cooperated with me to reveal a different Shinobi feature that nobody else seems to be promoting.
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No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units, including Átomos. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcastingCapicúaFM or TuSaludSecretaprograms, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.
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