Gear of the Year 2017 - Richard's choice: Sony NP-FZ100
I wrote, two years ago, that I thought the distinction between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras would disappear. Not that mirrorless would eclipse DSLRs, more that the differences would reduce to the point that the presence or absence of a mirror becomes the least relevant part of a discussion of two cameras.
As I was writing a comparison of the Sony a7R III and Nikon D850 today, I was suddenly struck by the realization that it might have already happened. I think there are a lot of interesting differences between the two cameras but very few of them have anything to do with the way we’d tend to categorize them.
With this in mind, my gear of the year is the Sony NP-FZ100. Or, to those of you not obsessed with product codes, the a9 and a7R III’s battery. The simple reason for this is the role it plays in rendering the difference between mirror-less and mirror-full cameras moot.
It all comes down to the idea of ‘good enough.’ And please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not talking about accepting the mediocre or tolerating the barely sufficient. Instead I’m referring to the threshold beyond which any further excess is, if not excessive, then at least superfluous: it offers no practical benefit.
Once I have enough battery life to get me through a demanding day of shooting, then any extra left in the tank is all very nice, but not exactly necessary. I recently spent a morning shooting both stills and video of a cyclocross race with the a7R III. Shooting a mixture of JPEGs, uncompressed Raws and 4K video, I comfortably churned out more than the 64GB capacity of my memory card and had to switch to a second. What I didn’t come close to doing was running the battery out. At the end of the racing, I still had more than 27% charge left, despite the sub-10°C temperatures.
|The move to the 'Z-Type' battery on the right is the difference between me having to worry about charging and carrying spare batteries and me never having to think about it.|
This suddenly eliminates the constant battery anxiety I’ve always felt with previous Sony mirrorless cameras (and that's without including the RX1R II, an otherwise fabulous camera whose butterfly-like lifespan prompts even its proponents joke “it’s like shooting film: you need to think about what you’re going to do with your 36 exposures”). Because when I’m shooting, I don’t ever want to be worrying about whether I’ve brought enough batteries, and which ones are charged. I don’t even want to have to think about it.
In fairness Panasonic got here first, having put a big battery in its GH models as far back as the GH3, but I didn't notice it to the same extent because I was primarily shooting video with those models.
More demanding shooters, be they photojournalists or longer-form filmmakers, can always attach a battery grip for longer duration, but for me, the FZ100 means the a7R III is able to surpass my ‘good enough’ threshold. So, while the D850 can boast a very impressive 1840 shots per charge, for me and my photography, that’s well into the territory of overkill.
So, as a technology that allows mirrorless cameras (hopefully of all brands) to offer the same practical benefits as their DSLR rivals, my gear of the year is a battery. Because it makes the a9 and a7R III into significantly better cameras, not just because it pulls another leg out from under all those tired ‘mirrorless vs DSLR’ arguments.
What must be the world's most camera-friendly airport has set out locations all around its perimeter fence specifically so photographers can get all the best angles unhindered by wires.
According to DJI, any drone model weighing over 250 grams will have AirSense Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers installed to help drone operators know when planes and helicopters are nearby.
Premiere Rush is targeted at Youtubers and vloggers who want to edit video on the go.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) sent out an alert on Monday stating drones manufactured in China are a 'potential risk to an organization's information.'
The new module might be implemented in the upcoming Galaxy Note device generation.
Chris and Jordan are kicking off a new segment in which they make feature suggestions to manufacturers for the benefit of all photographer-kind. To start things off, they take a look at the humble USB-C port and everything it could be doing for us.
The Olympus TG-5 is one of our favorite waterproof cameras, and the company today introduced the TG-6, a relatively low-key update. New features include the addition of an anti-reflective coating on the sensor, a higher-res LCD, and more underwater and macro modes.
We've long held Olympus' Tough cameras in high regard and the TG-6 is no exception. It offers top notch image quality for its class and lots of useful features. It's also a blast to shoot with.
A meticulously curated video from YouTuber Guy Jones highlights the evolution of street photography from mid-19th century to present day.
A big design is in the pipeline for the popular Godox shoot-through flash trigger, with a new control layout and a collection of new features - including Bluetooth connectivity
The iconic statues of Easter Island are at risk of getting destroyed thanks to tourists climbing on them and picking their noses.
The Honor 20 Pro looks like an attractively priced alternative to some more established flagship competitors.
We've been playing around with a prototype of the new Peak Design Travel Tripod and are impressed so far: it's incredibly compact, fast to deploy and stable enough for the heaviest bodies. However, the price may turn some away.
Peak Design is back at it again, this time crowdfunding the Travel Tripod, the company's 9th Kickstarter to date.
The Camera Store has reported that on May 15, 2019 their store was robbed of a Sony lens and camera, and an employee subsequently sprayed with bear spray while attempting to apprehend the suspect.
Voigtländer's 21mm F1.4 Nokton lens for the Sony E mount has been officially announced.
Google complies with an executive order and resulting blacklists that prohibits US companies to do business with certain foreign entities.
Dutch public broadcaster VPRO has published a documentary called '#followme' that takes a behind-the-scenes look at how some Instagram influencers game the system trough shady tactics.
Nikon says it will fix affected Z6 and Z7 camera units free of charge (including shipping), even if the camera is out of warranty.
Looking to get in on the instant camera fun? We tried every model and think the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 strikes the right balance between price and features – the Instax Wide 300 is our choice if you crave a larger format.
We talked to executives from Ricoh about the company's broad portfolio of imaging products, the GR III's warm reception and what they make of the surge in popularity of mirrorless cameras.
A new week, a new special edition Leica.
Reuben Wu's ethereal landscapes are lit by drone-mounted light sources rather than the sun or the moon. We talked with him about his process, the equipment he uses and what inspires him.
Earlier today, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice stating that recreational drone users are limited to where they can operate.
Chris and Jordan take a look at Canon's latest, tiniest Rebel and get a serious sense of déjà vu as they take a look at its still and video capabilities.
Nature photographer Erez Marom shares his experience shooting the famous Ijen volcano in Indonesia – from the best time to begin the hike to the crater to the equipment needed to withstand the toxic environment.
While Canon and Nikon have lost double-digit percentages year-over-year for their respective imaging divisions, Sony has managed to come out in the green, albeit not by much.
Photo software developer On1 has introduced an update of its raw processing application that it claims is up to 50x faster than the previous version and which includes a host of new features.
Don't expect any new features or functionality. These updates are simply to improve the overall stability of eight Sony camera systems.