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Aujourd’hui — 27 septembre 2021News: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

Pixii announces new 26MP version of its APS-C Pixii digital rangefinder camera

In October 2018, French startup Pixii announced its first product, the Pixii camera. The original Pixii camera was a digital rangefinder with an M-mount. The aluminum body eschewed a back display and included an electronic viewfinder. The camera included a small OLED info display on top and a small number of buttons. The 12MP digital rangefinder eventually went on sale in July 2020 for just over $3,000. Pixii has now announced an updated version of its APS-C digital rangefinder Pixii camera, sporting a new 26MP image sensor, new viewfinder, USB-C support and more.

Perhaps the biggest change in the new Pixii camera is its image sensor. The new 26MP backside-illuminated APS-C image sensor is a big step up in terms of megapixel count compared to its 12MP predecessor. Pixii states that the sensor has up to 51Ke- full well capacity (FWC) and read noise as low as 0.83e-. The FWC equates to about 14 stops of dynamic range. Pixii writes, 'The new pixel design features an ultra-low noise floor, for a cleaner signal in underexposed areas. Its extended full-well capacity pushes dynamic range to a whole new level.' The sensor also features an extended ISO range. The original Pixii camera's ISO range was 200-6400. The new sensor's native ISO range is 160-12,800, and it has a +36dB gain range.

The new Pixii camera includes a new 26MP APS-C BSI CMOS image sensor

The new interactive viewfinder 'integrates a miniature display that projects key information directly into its optical viewfinder.' Unlike other rangefinder cameras, the new Pixii lets photographers view and interact with all camera settings like exposure speed, compensation or white balance without needing to look away from the viewfinder. You can change which settings indicator to display by rotating the menu wheel on the camera. The rangefinder assembly incorporates four distinct optical paths, and the wide view includes frame lines and a traditional rangefinder patch in the center. The viewfinder has 0.67x magnification, like the original Pixii camera. There are selectable frame lines for 28, 35, 40 and 50mm focal lengths.

Another upgrade comes in the form of USB-C connectivity. The USB-C connector allows for faster charging and a more accurate battery gauge. The camera has up to 25Wh charging capacity. Standard memory has been upgraded from 4GB to 8GB in the new Pixii camera. There are add-on memory upgrade options ranging from 32GB to 128GB. The 128GB storage option can hold more than 3,650 DNG files. Speaking of file types, the camera adds GPR format support, allowing photographers to compress DNG files at a higher ratio while preserving full RAW editing latitude. GPR works with most photo editing solutions, per Pixii, including Adobe Lightroom.

Looking at additional features, the Pixii camera has LUT-based color profiles, a monochrome mode for 16-bit single-plane monochrome DNG files, an electronic shutter with speeds up to 1/32,000s, native iOS and Android support and Bluetooth/Wi-Fi connectivity and more. To learn more about the new Pixii camera, click here.

'We listened to photographers using the camera and we addressed their feedback with this new model,' says David Barth, founder of Pixii. 'Crucially, we also engineered the upgrade path to let A1112 model owners upgrade their camera to the new sensor.' Regarding upgrade path details, it's not immediately clear how this will work. Still, it appears that Pixii has a solution for customers who purchased the original 12MP Pixii camera in 2020 or 2021 and would like the new 26MP image sensor.

The new Pixii camera will be available for preorder starting on September 30. The camera starts at $2,999 (2999 euros). The 32GB version will be available for around 3240 euros, 64GB for 3380 euros and the 128GB version for 3540 euros. US pricing for the models with upgraded storage has not been announced. Orders are expected to begin shipping on October 11.

Part one: iFixit's initial iPhone 13 Pro teardown reveals larger camera modules, bigger battery and more

The repair gurus at iFixit have published their teardown of Apple’s new iPhone 13 Pro smartphone. As always, the teardown reveals a number of interesting new components and details what’s changed since the iPhone 12 Pro.

Image credit: Images courtesy iFixit

The teardown starts before a single screw is loosened with the help of Creative Electron, who captured an X-ray view of both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max side-by-side. These images show off a number of differences compared to the devices’ predecessors, one of which is the addition of magnets around every camera module for optical image stabilization (in the previous generation, sensor-shift image stabilization was limited to a single camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max).

The iPhone 13 Pro (and 13 Pro Max) camera module (left) compared to the one used in the iPhone 12 Pro (right). Image credit: Images courtesy iFixit

With the X-ray out of the way, iFixit got right to it, taking off the display to reveal the neatly-labelled components inside. One of the changes on the new iPhone 13 Pro models is a smaller notch. With the display removed, iFixit discovered this was achieved through moving the earpiece speaker up to the very top of the device and combining the flood illuminator and dot projector into a single module.

The lenses used in the new iPhone 13 Pro camera modules are a bit taller than last year's models. Image credit: Images courtesy iFixit

As for the cameras, the basic layout is the same on the iPhone 13 Pro models as it was on the iPhone 12 Pro models, but the modules are noticeably larger, due to the larger sensors and longer focal length used in the telephoto camera module. iFixit doesn’t detail what sensors Apple is using in its teardown, but a report first posted to Weibo and shared by GSMArena reveals only Sony sensors are used inside Apple’s new iPhone 13 Pro models. The main camera uses a Sony IMX703 (1.9 μm) sensor, the ultrawide uses a Sony IMX772 (1μm) sensor, the telephoto uses a Sony IMX713 (1μm) sensor and the front-faceing selfie camera uses a Sony IMX514 (1μm) sensor.

Image credit: Images courtesy iFixit

With the cameras out of the way, iFixit moved on to the other components, including an L-shaped battery that measures in at 11.97Wh. This slightly larger battery (compared to that found in the iPhone 12 Pro), combined with the more energy-efficient Pro Motion display, results in a much better battery life. And, despite rumors that third-party battery swaps wouldn’t be possible, iFixit has confirmed its early tests show you can change batteries without issue, although the usual warning will be displayed.

iFixit plans on publishing the rest of the teardown at a later date, but for now that concludes their teardown of Apple’s latest flagship mobile devices.

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS 'Sports' lens field review

Introduction

The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is an ultra-telephoto zoom lens for full-frame and sub-frame mirrorless cameras based around either the Sony E-mount or the Leica L-mount.

With 35mm-equivalent focal lengths equating to 225-900mm with an APS-C crop, it's aimed primarily at still photographers looking to bring distant subjects up close, and will be of particular interest to wildlife and sports shooters.

Available from August 2021, list pricing is set at $1499.

Note that due to smoke from the 2021 California wildfires, our gallery shots from both Seattle and Calgary are affected by haze, which you should bear in mind whilst judging image quality, especially for more distant subjects. Additionally, overcast conditions for our Calgary team have necessitated the use of higher-than-typical sensitivities for some of those gallery shots.

All images edited in Adobe Camera Raw 13 unless otherwise noted, with adjustments limited to white balance, exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black levels. Sharpening and noise reduction at defaults.


Jump to:

Handling | Autofocus and focus breathing | Image quality | Conclusion | Samples


Key specifications:

  • Focal length: 150-600mm (225-900mm equivalent with APS-C crop)
  • Aperture range: F5.0 - F22 (wide) / F6.3 - F29 (tele)
  • Stabilization: Yes, 4 stops
  • Filter thread: 95mm
  • Close focus: 0.58m (22.8")
  • Maximum magnification: 0.34x
  • Diaphragm blades: 9
  • Hood: Included
  • Weight: 2100g (4.63 lb)
  • Optical construction: 25 elements in 15 groups (4 FLD, 2 SLD)

Depending upon whether you're an E-mount or L-mount shooter, alternatives to the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS 'Sports' lens differ dramatically.

On the L-mount, there aren't really any close rivals. The nearest would be Sigma's own 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS 'Contemporary' lens, but it doesn't come close to the telephoto reach of the 150-600mm. It's also weather-sealed only at the mount, whereas the 'Sport' lens has seals throughout.

But if you can live with those drawbacks, it's much smaller/lighter and more affordably priced at just $950. And you can save money on the much smaller filters it accepts, too. Although in fairness if you want a tripod mount – something that's included with the 'Sport' lens and its other alternatives – you'll want to budget another $130, for a total of $1,080 list.

ISO 320 | 1/640 sec | F6.3 | 600mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Sony E-mount shooters have a couple of excellent alternatives to consider, though: The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD and Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS.

The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 is only slightly less of a handful than the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3, even though it has less reach and is less bright at full telephoto. With tripod mounts attached, it's about 220g (7.8 ounces) lighter, and saves just 5.4cm (2.2") in length with a 1.6cm (0.6") narrower barrel.

Nor is it that much less expensive than the Sigma, with a list price of $1399 saving you just 7%. Although if you plan to use filters, you'll stand to save substantially more than the minimal list price difference suggests, thanks to its use of much smaller 82mm filter threads. And we didn't like its tripod foot as much as that included with the Sigma, as it lacks 90-degree click detents.

ISO 1600 | 1/400 sec | F6.2 | 476mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

But if you can live with those shortcomings, it saves at least a little in terms of heft and cost, rivals the Sigma in terms of sharpness, and its linear autofocus drive also feels significantly swifter. And video shooters will definitely prefer the Tamron if they want the least possible focus breathing, as it's a bit stronger for the 150-600mm.

As for the Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3, it's a substantially pricier lens, costing around a third more at its current list price of $2000. We wouldn't be too surprised to see that reduced over time, though. It's already been on the market for a couple of years now, and while it was until recently unrivaled, the much more affordable Sigma and Tamron will definitely steal some customers who'd previously been considering the Sony.

It's also quite a bit larger and heavier than the Sigma. Its barrel diameter is close enough that you won't notice the difference, but it's a full 5.2cm (2.0") longer. And it weighs 2.12kg (4.66lb), which sounds almost the same as the 2.1kg (4.63lb) Sigma unless you note the fact that Sigma includes its non-removable tripod mount in the weight figure, whereas Sony doesn't.

ISO 1250 | 1/250 sec | F11 | 236mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Yet despite being bigger, heavier and more expensive, Sony's lens has relatively few advantages. It's no brighter than the Sigma, and its focal range is quite similar too. In fact it's the 150-600mm which actually has a bit of an advantage at the wider end. A lens like this will likely see most use at the tele end which is identical for both lenses, though, so it's really something of a wash.

Nor does it show a huge advantage in sharpness, and while it has an 11-bladed iris instead of the Sigma's nine-bladed one, its bokeh isn't noticeably better either, though the Sony will retain circular out-of-focus highlights as you stop down a bit better. Where Sony's 200-600mm does score a firm win over the Sigma, though, is in its autofocus performance. Thanks to its linear autofocus motor, its appreciably faster at focusing, and so will remain your best bet if you need a 600mm zoom for faster-moving subjects like sports or more active wildlife.

Compared to...

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS

Price (MSRP)

$1499 $950 $1399 $2000
Mount(s) Leica L and Sony E Leica L and Sony E Sony E Sony E
Optical construction 25 elements, 15 groups 22 elements, 16 groups 25 elements, 16 groups 24 elements, 17 groups
Aperture blades 9 9 7 11
Weather sealed Yes Yes, mount only Yes Yes
AF drive Stepper motor Stepper motor Linear motor Linear motor
Minimum focus distance / max magnification 0.58 m (22.8″) / 0.34x 1.12 m (44.1″) / 0.24x 0.60 m (23.6″) / 0.32x 2.4 m (94.5″) / 0.2x
Filter size 95mm 67mm 82mm 95mm
Diameter x Length
(no hood)

L-mount: 109.4mm x 263.6mm (4.3" x 10.4")

E-mount: 109.4mm x 265.6mm (4.3" x 10.5")

L-mount: 86.0mm x 197.2mm (3.4" x 7.8")

E-mount: 86.0mm x 199.2mm (3.4" x 7.8")

93.0mm x 209.6mm (3.7" x 8.3") 111.5mm x 318.0mm (4.5" x 12.5")
Weight

2100g (74.1oz)

* Including non-removable tripod mount

L-mount: 1135g (40.0oz)

E-mount: 1140g (40.2oz)

* Not including removable tripod mount

1880g (60.8oz)

* Including removable tripod mount

2115g (74.7oz)

* Not including removable tripod mount

It's worth noting that all lenses here offer stabilization, but Sony and Tamron don't provide CIPA ratings for effectiveness. Both Sigma lenses are quoted as offering four stops of shake reduction.


Handling

As you'd expect for a lens of this type, the Sigma 150-600mm is pretty hefty. But it's not terribly heavy for what it is, and as the first ever Sports-line lens designed specifically for mirrorless, it definitely makes the most of its mirror-free format.

By way of comparison, Sigma's DSLR-oriented 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM 'Sports' lens is 2.7cm (1.0") longer with a 1.2cm (0.5") broader barrel. And it weighs a whopping 760g (1.68lb) or 36% more than its made-for-mirrorless sibling, even though its focal range and maximum aperture are identical.

Put another way, the mirrorless lens and a fully-loaded Panasonic S5 or Sony a1 body would tip the scales at just a little less than the unmounted DSLR lens alone! But be that as it may, it still weighs 2.1kg (4.62lb) without the camera. So while you can certainly shoot with it handheld if needed, for extended shooting sessions you'll likely find yourself wanting some support.

The included tripod mount can be removed or swiveled around the lens barrel with nice, firm click detents at the 90-degree positions.

The lens can be attached to a tripod via the included Arca Swiss-compatible mount which connects to a magnesium socket on the lens, or with the mount removed, can be used directly on a monopod. The socket is built into a non-removable rotating ring encircling the rear of the lens barrel whose rotation can be locked with a thumb screw. It has pronounced click-stops at the 90-degree positions, making it quick and easy to accurately switch between portrait and landscape shooting.

The remainder of the lens body is made from a mixture of aluminum and Sigma's Thermally Stable Composite material, a form of polycarbonate which is designed to expand similarly to aluminum. Build quality is exceptional; none of the controls feel loose, the focus ring is very nicely damped, and the substantial thumb-screw locking hood is a nice touch.

As you zoom in, you'll definitely notice the balance of the lens shifting forwards. It doesn't become too unwieldy, though, as you'll naturally find yourself supporting it with the same hand with which you're operating the zoom ring. With that said, if you plan on shooting handheld often, it's definitely best paired with a body that has a deeper handgrip for more stability.

The 150-600mm extends significantly in length as you zoom in, shifting balance forwards noticeably in the process.

Zoom control on the 150-600mm is unusually versatile, and operates in several different ways, as selected by a zoom torque switch which you'll find in between the zoom and focus rings on the side of the lens barrel. This switch has three positions, labeled 'L', 'T' and 'S'.

When set to its 'L' position, the zoom can be locked at its wide position, preventing it from being accidentally extended when stored or traveling. The 'T' position stands for "Tight", and while it allows the focal length to be adjusted with a twist of the zoom ring, there's enough resistance that the zoom shouldn't creep when the lens is oriented vertically.

Finally, the 'S' position stands for "Smooth", and as its name would suggest this reduces the torque substantially. The lens will definitely exhibit creep if pointed upwards or downwards too much in this setting, but the zoom can be adjusted with much less force. So little, in fact, that you can adjust focal length not just by turning the zoom ring, but also in a push-pull fashion by gripping the lens in front of the zoom ring, just behind the lens hood.

The zoom torque switch allows you to lock the lens when retracted, and adjust torque to prevent lens creep or allow push-pull zooming.

Zooming in this fashion is much faster and also makes it easier to adjust the focal length without accidentally straying from your subject at the longer focal lengths, especially when using the 150-600mm in concert with a teleconverter. And to help give your fingers a little extra purchase when zooming in this manner, the lens barrel narrows at the front half of the zoom ring, and then swells again right behind the lens hood.

As well as this rather clever zoom setup, the Sigma 150-600mm is also unusual in the sheer number of physical controls it offers. As well as the zoom torque switch you'll also find three customizable buttons on the top, bottom and left side of the barrel between the zoom and focus rings. These default to providing an AF lock function, but this can be customized depending on your camera body.

A little further towards the rear of the lens, you'll find another four switches. From top to bottom, the first two can select the focus mode, and enable an optional focus limiter that provides both 10m (33ft) to infinity or closeup to 10m (33ft) ranges. The third in the stack selects between the standard or panning-compatible modes for the four-stop optical stabilizer, or disable it altogether. (The panning-friendly mode would be useful for motor sports and similar subjects.)

As well as the zoom torque switch there are three customizable buttons, and four more switches in a stack towards the rear of the lens.

Finally, the bottommost switch is another customizable control, at least for L-mount shooters, who can use it to assign different stabilizer and focus limiter settings that are configured using the optional UD-11 USB dock accessory. Since, at the time of this writing, there isn't an equivalent dock for E-mount, Sony shooters instead get two preconfigured options for the time being.

When set to the 'Off' position on E-mount, the lens uses its default settings which are intended to be applicable to a wide range of subjects. Sigma refers to the 'C1' position for Sony as "Dynamic View" mode, and the 'C2' position as "Moderate View" mode. In our testing, 'Off' behaves as a good starting point for the IS system for general shooting. Switching it to 'C1' enables almost a boosted feel, with the lens working to keep the image as stable as possible, while 'C2' is a little less intense stabilization than 'off'. It still keeps high-frequency judders at bay, while keeping the scene fairly smooth – it's likely a good option for birders or those photographing other fast-moving subjects.

As you'd expect in a lens of this price and class, the Sigma 150-600mm is comprehensively sealed to keep out dust and moisture. With individual seals and gaskets at the lens mount, the seams between sections and every individual switch, button or ring, you should be able to shoot in inclement weather with a degree of confidence.

The front lens element has a hydrophobic/oleophobic coating that helps resist fingerprints or rain drops from adhering.

The front lens element is also coated to repel oil and water, helping both to keep it clear of errant raindrops and accidental smudges. In front, you'll find a set of 95mm threads with which to attach filters. Of course, with such a large filter diameter you'll likely find them quite pricey.

One last feature of particular interest is that the rear lens element is inset by quite some distance from the back of the lens. This allows the use of teleconverters, and while we didn't have these to hand during our review and so can't comment on image quality, there are two you can choose from – so long as you're an L-mount shooter, anyway.

Sigma offers both 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters for L-mount. Equipped with the TC-1411 teleconverter, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 is effectively a 210-840mm F7.1-9 lens. And with the TC-2011 teleconverter attached, it functions as a 300-1200mm F10-13. Sadly, neither teleconverter is available for E-mount shooters.

The rearmost lens element is deeply inset, allowing use of Sigma's 1.4x and 2x teleconverters for L-mount shooters. Sadly, E-mount equivalents aren't available.

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Autofocus and focus breathing

If there's a weak spot for the Sigma 150-600mm in comparison to its nearest rivals, it would have to be its autofocus performance. That's not to say it's bad, necessarily; it's still fairly responsive and as you can see from our galleries it's still up to tasks like wildlife or sports photography. But its stepping motor-based autofocus drive is definitely not as swift as the linear AF used in E-mount competitors from Tamron and Sony.

AF performance varies depending upon whether or not you're using the focus limiter, obviously. With the full range available, we saw an autofocus rack time of around 1.2 seconds. But enabling the more abbreviated 10m (33') to infinity range brought this down to around 0.8 seconds, a fairly dramatic improvement. We also noticed that AF performance tended to be better when refocusing from infinity to close-up than it was in the opposite direction.

ISO 1000 | 1/400 sec | F6 | 373mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

Overall, we'd term its autofocus performance as merely adequate. Unless you're on L-mount, where there are no close alternatives, you may want to consider a rival if you'll predominantly be shooting more active subjects. But if your subjects mostly won't vary significantly in distance from frame to frame, the Sigma 150-600mm will certainly do the job.

As noted earlier, the manual focus ring is extremely smooth and well-damped – on a Panasonic L-mount body, you can tell the camera whether you want the focus movement to respond to the speed that you turn the lens ring (non-linear response), or you can have it set so that whatever speed you turn it, the focus shifts proportionally and repeatedly to the amount of turn (linear response).

ISO 160 | 1/100 sec | F6.3 | 150mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

There's better news when it comes to close-up focusing, however. At the 150mm focal length, the Sigma 150-600mm can focus to as close as 22.8 inches, yielding a maximum magnification of 0.34x (1:2.9). That makes it quite a versatile lens, capable not just of bringing distant subjects up close, but also of handling close-up photography.

If you need to stay further back from your subjects to avoid disturbing them, though, you can still bring them at least somewhat close at the 600mm telephoto position while keeping yourself a good 3-4m (10-12') back from the scene. You won't be able to get nearly as close as you can at the 150mm focal length, though, as you can see in the side-by-side comparison below.

Close-up comparison: Photos taken at minimum focus distance at 150mm (left) and 600mm (right). Images edited in Capture One 21.

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Image quality

A good performance from the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 in most respects, with really great sharpness, a flat focal plane and mostly attractive bokeh. Detail-rich backgrounds can sometimes have a busy, distracting look, though, and flare can be a significant concern even with the lens hood mounted.

Sharpness

At the wide end of its zoom range, the 150-600mm does a really great job, even when shooting wide-open at F5. The focus plane is nice and flat, and detail holds up well to the very high 61-megapixel resolution of the Sigma fp L both in the center and corners. Stopping down to F9 does yield a slight improvement for the centers and a smidgen more in the corners, but you'll have to pixel-peep to notice the difference for either.

ISO 500 | 1/160 sec | F6.3 | 150mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Carey Rose

Of course, you're not buying a lens like this for the wide end of the range. At its 600mm telephoto, we're still very impressed with center sharpness even wide-open at F6.3, and there's only a slight improvement in stopping down to F9. The extreme corners definitely aren't as strong, though, even when focus is set there. And stopping down to F9 only brings a more modest improvement in sharpness.

Check out our sharpness tests in our sample gallery

For most shots, though, that's not going to be an issue. You won't typically put the primary focus of your image in the extreme corners, after all. Overall, we find ourselves very pleased with sharpness from this lens, and happy that the focus plane is flat enough that you don't need to focus differently for the center and corners.

ISO 250 | 1/250 sec | F5.2 | 161mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

Bokeh

The 150-600mm F6.3 mostly delivers on the bokeh front, too. It can definitely deliver luscious, creamy background bokeh and good isolation, just as you'd expect of an ultra-tele zoom. The falloff in bokeh as you approach and then pass the plane of focus is often quite pleasing, too.

We did, however, find that in some shots whose backgrounds were busy and packed with detail, the bokeh itself could also look rather busy and frenetic, though. (This dragonfly shot is a nice example, as is this flower and this shot of a jet ski on the lake.) This issue can be particularly apparent in transition zones and at the periphery of images, where mechanical vignetting increases.

ISO 250 | 1/250 sec | F6.1 | 423mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

We also noted some issues with specular highlights. The good news is that the nine-bladed, rounded aperture diaphragm yield nice, round out-of-focus highlights even when stopped down to F8 (though this is to be expected, since F8 isn't stopped down much from wide open, especially on the long end).

But we noted significant cat's eye effect quite a long way towards the center of the image frame when shooting wide-open towards telephoto, and even after stopping down to F8 it was still quite apparent, if noticeably improved. And while specular highlights are mostly fairly clean, we did notice some slight soap bubble effect at 150mm which became quite strong by the 600mm telephoto. This may contribute somewhat to the busy bokeh we detected in some situations.

ISO 2000 | 1/400 sec | F5.6 | 175mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Jordan Drake, edited in Capture One 21

With all of that said, overall we found ourselves very pleased by how this lens renders out-of-focus areas.

Flare and ghosting

Sigma includes a lens hood in the product bundle, and it's definitely worth using. It's rubberized on the end, secured by a thumb screw, and reversible so you can store it around the lens barrel when not in use.

The reason that you'll want to use the lens hood is that long telephoto lenses tend to have issues with flare, and this one is definitely no exception. And even with it mounted, when shooting towards bright light sources like the sun you can get a very significant loss of contrast and a washed-out look.

But with it mounted, you'll at least increase your chances of shielding the front of the lens from the sun in the first place.

ISO 100 | 1/800 sec | F6.3 | 600mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

Longitudinal / lateral chromatic aberration (fringing)

The Sigma 150-600mm exhibits some lateral chromatic aberration, visible as greenish and reddish fringing around edges at peripheries of the image. However, it tends to only be a few pixels wide at worst, on the fp L's high resolution sensor, and is easily corrected for in post-processing as you can see below:

Longitudinal chromatic aberration, which typically shows up as magenta and green fringing in front, and behind, the plane of focus, respectively, is well controlled on this lens, and we didn't find it to be an issue in any of our photos. There's the slightest bit of bluish fringing in the highlights in the water behind our subject in this photo, but it's so minor that we almost feel silly for having called your attention to it.

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Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Not as bulky as you might expect
  • Optional push-pull zoom is great
  • Plenty of physical controls
  • Comprehensively weather-sealed, impressively solid build quality
  • Four-stop optical image stabilization
  • Very sharp even when wide-open
  • Nice flat focal plane
  • Bokeh is well-rounded even at F8
  • Chromatic aberrations well-controlled
  • Decent close-up capabilities
  • Competitively priced
  • Autofocus performance lags rivals
  • Rather soft corners at telephoto
  • Bokeh sometimes feels overly busy
  • Significant cat's eye and soap bubble effects at telephoto, too
  • Quite prone to flare
  • Large filter size adds to cost
  • No USB dock for E-mount (yet)
  • No teleconverters for E-mount either

Since the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is available on both the Sony E-mount as well as for L-mount cameras from Leica, Panasonic and Sigma, our conclusions will differ depending upon the mount, even though it's basically the same lens for both platforms.

For L-mount shooters, the 150-600mm is basically unrivaled. The nearest competitor, Sigma's own 100-400mm optic, just isn't that close in its intent or capabilities. L-mount shooters also have access to the lens' maximal versatility, since the company's customization-friendly USB dock and range-extending teleconverters are only available on that platform.

ISO 640 | 1/640 sec | F6.3 | 453mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

For E-mount owners, however, there are a couple of direct rivals and also some caveats to bear in mind.

The lack of a USB dock accessory for Sony shooters means you have fewer choices when it comes to customization, at least until Sigma releases a similar accessory for E-mount. And the lack of first-party teleconverters for E-mount means that you'll either be limited to a 600mm telephoto or will have to assume the risk for trying a third-party teleconverter that could, if you're very unlucky, result in expensive repairs.

ISO 2500 | 1/640 sec | F6.1 | 429mm | Panasonic S1R
Photo by Jeff Keller

As for the rivals, the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 offers significantly better AF performance, is better-suited to video, and has both slightly less heft and a slightly lower price. But to get those, you'll limit your telephoto possibilities and forego any teleconverter support, as well as having to live with a less-bright maximum aperture towards telephoto. And the Sony 200-600mm offers better AF too, albeit for a much higher price and in a much bulkier package.

But overall, we find the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 to be a compelling offering on both platforms. Ergonomically it's great, in large part thanks to its clever zoom torque control and the push-pull zooming it allows. It's also a very sharp lens that's really not as bulky or expensive as you might expect for its focal range and maximum aperture.

ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F7.1 | 459mm | Panasonic S5
Photo by Chris Niccolls, edited in Capture One 21

And while it's a bit flare-prone and its bokeh isn't perfect, it can deliver luscious, creamy backgrounds for many subjects both near and far. Meanwhile, chromatic aberrations are very well controlled. Our major reservations really are around its autofocus speeds. But once you consider its optics, its all-weather versatility, an effective four-stop image stabilizer and a very reasonable price tag, it's easy to recommend not only for L-mount shooters, but even to those who've been considering its E-mount rivals.

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Scoring

Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | S
Category: Superzoom Lens
Optical Quality
Build Quality
Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Ergonomics and Handling
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports is a great option for Leica, Panasonic and Sigma L-mount shooters. It's sharp, controls chromatic aberrations well, and provides pleasing bokeh and subject isolation. Flare can be a concern though, and autofocus speeds aren't as snappy as its peers.
Good for
Landscape and wildlife photographers
Not so good for
Fast action photographers requiring best-in-class autofocus speeds
85%
Overall score

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DPReview TV review

See what our team at DPReview TV has to say about the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS.

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Sample galleries

Please do not reproduce any of these images without prior permission (see our copyright page).

Panasonic S1R

Panasonic S5 and Sigma fp L

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Hasselblad teases ‘Beyond Classic’ announcement for September 28

Hasselblad has posted a short video on its social media channels teasing an announcement set to take place at 1pm CEST (UTC+2) on September 28, 2021.

Hardly any information is shared in the 12-second ‘Beyond Classic,’ teaser, except for a pair of images showing off what appears to be textured grip and a nameplate against a leather-like material.

Beyond Classic | September 28th | 13:00 CEST pic.twitter.com/hXoxD1ER7Y

— Hasselblad (@Hasselblad) September 24, 2021

For now, keep an eye on Hasselblad’s social media channels for further updates. If any other details are released leading up to the announcement, we’ll update this post with the new information.

Hier — 26 septembre 2021News: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

The Beginning of Photography: The Drama of 1839

The drama of ‘39

'The Open Door' William Henry Fox Talbot. About 1843. Print from paper negative.

On January 6, 1839, François Arago, Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, announced Daguerre’s invention and spoke of his accomplishment publicly, although he said nothing of the specific methods involved.

By the middle of January, news of Daguerre’s invention had spread everywhere. Today, when imaging is so common and taken for granted, it’s hard to imagine how amazing the idea of taking a picture was in 1839. It created immediate headlines around the world.

Francois Arago painted by Charles Steuben, 1832.

The actual techniques used remained secret, however, since the French government had not yet officially bought the invention from Daguerre. The secrecy led to some suspicion that this was a trick or fake, and just like today, a few people 'proved' it was impossible. Most believed, though. This was an era when revolutionary new technology became available almost every year.

Who is this Arago of whom you speak?

For we photography types, Dominique François Jean Arago is just the guy who announced Daguerre’s invention, but in fact he was way more than that. He was born in a tiny village, graduated from a small college in 30 months, passed the examinations to enter the Ecole Polytechnique, got bored there, and went to work at the Paris Observatory. In 1806 he led an expedition to measure the Paris Meridian (which was used both to measure the size of the earth and to determine the length of a meter), became a prisoner of war, and on his release became the youngest member of the French Academy of Sciences at age 23.

Despite having left the Ecole Polytechnique as a student, he returned as the Chair of Analytic Geometry at age 27. He did work in magnetism and optics, confirming Fresnel’s wave theory of light and making important discoveries in the polarization and emission of light.

This is part of the reason he was so taken with Daguerre’s discovery; to Arago, photography was ‘the freezing or capture of light waves’. He may have gotten a bit too excited, though, as he really didn’t have the authority to make the purchase he promised Daguerre.

The chaos begins in England

The announcement of Daguerre’s achievement wasn’t published in England until January 19th – the telegraph wasn’t in use yet so dispatches went by rail and boat.

Let’s do an Aside!

Speaking of telegraphs, Samuel Morse, generally considered the inventor of the ‘modern’ telegraph, was in France trying to sell his telegraph system in 1838 and was introduced to Daguerre. Daguerre showed Morse his cameras, Morse demonstrated his telegraph to Daguerre, and they had an inventor-bromance-at-first-sight. Daguerre gave Morse a copy of his photographic instructions in the summer of 1839 before Morse returned to America.

Morse hadn’t sold his telegraph yet, so he supported himself by opening the first photography studio in the United States and teaching others photography*. Most of the early American photographers including Samuel Broadbent, Albert Southworth, Matthew Brady, Albert Sands, and Jerimiah Gurney were taught by Morse.

Samuel Morse, taken about 1840. The Morse family claimed the image was taken by Daguerre but this is unlikely, since the image is not a Daguerreotype.

But wait! There’s more! Why was Morse in France? Because the Germans, who were his original sales target, already had a crude telegraph in place, invented by their own Carl Steinheil. In 1840, Steinheil became the first German to use Daguerre’s methods and made some clear improvements to them; making negatives and then printing positives from them. He became more interested in photography than the telegraph, and eventually founded the Steinheil optical company which made cameras, lenses, and telescopes until the 1970s.

So, the two great advances of the 1840s, photography and the telegraph, are quite intertwined.

Back to England

William Henry Fox Talbot, he of too many names and too many interests (he had set aside his development of photography to work on an archeology book), heard of Daguerre’s invention as soon as it hit the English papers. His reaction was immediate, arrogant, and overblown — which would characterize most of his reactions for the rest of his life. After reading of Daguerre’s camera, he wrote (in typical Talbot dramatic fashion) that he was “placed in an unusual dilemma, scarcely to be paralleled in the Annals of Science”.

Talbot wanted both public credit and financial gain for his work on photography. Having no idea if Daguerre’s methods differed from his own, he immediately tried to establish precedence as the first inventor, filing patents for ‘making permanent images using a camera obscura’ (the only thing he knew Daguerre used). He rushed samples of his ‘photogenic drawings’ to the Royal Institute in London where they were exhibited on January 25th, only weeks after Daguerre’s announcement. He provided documentation that they had been taken as early as 1835, hoping that would make his images the earliest. (They weren’t).

Then he wrote letters to Arago and other academic societies stating that he would file disputes regarding the priority of Daguerre and presented a paper with the catchy title of “Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or, the Process by which Natural Objects May Be Made to Delineate Themselves without the Aid of the Artist’s Pencil”. Once he learned that Daguerre made positive images on silver plates, Talbot filed more patents: for images made on paper, for making negative images, and for printing positive images from negative images.

Talbot Wasn’t All Bad

You may have gotten the impression I don’t much like Fox Talbot, probably because I don’t like Fox Talbot much. I will actually taunt him a second time later in this article. But he was an intelligent man, a polymath and linguist who did work in mathematics, chemistry, botany, Egyptology, and art history. He published 6 books and almost 60 scholarly articles and was one of the premier translators of Assyrian cuneiform. He discovered Talbot’s Law, which determines the frequency at which interrupted images appear continuous, something Edison used when developing cinematography. And, of course, the calotype and photogravure are Talbot's inventions. So, I give the man his due; he did good science. He was just an insufferable jerk about it.

Hershel does science for the win...

Sir John Hershel, an acquaintance of Talbot’s and one of the premier scientists of the day, read of Daguerre’s achievements and then of Fox Talbot’s exhibition at the royal society in late January of 1839. With basically no other knowledge than ‘photographs had been’ made he wrote in his journal:

Since hearing of Daguerre’s secret and that Fox Talbot has something of the same kind, obviously, there are three requisites:

  1. Very susceptible paper
  2. Very perfect camera obscura
  3. Better means of arresting the further actions of light.

Within a few days he had sensitized paper with silver salts and made images — in fact he was exhibiting his own photographs within weeks. He was aware that both Daguerre and Talbot could not permanently fix their images, which slowly deteriorated over time. He knew that hyposulphite of soda (sodium thiosulfate) dissolved silver salts, so he used this to fix his images permanently. Rather than take out patents, he notified Daguerre and Talbot of this, and they both adapted “hypo” (as it has since been known to photographers) as their fixative. It remained in use for over a century.

Sir John Herschel looking quite back-to-the-futureish, etching from portrait by Evert Duyckinick, 1873.

Hershel also found Talbot’s terms ‘photogenic drawing’, ‘reversed copy’ and ‘re-reversed copy’ rather cumbersome and coined the terms ‘photography’, ‘negative’, and ‘positive’. Hershel also experimented with non-silver chemicals in an attempt to make the photographic process less expensive. He found he could create a similar light sensitive process using iron citrate and potassium ferricyanide which resulted in bright blue images: the Cyanotype. The low cost of this process (and the fact that Hershel didn't patent) made it popular for photography for a while, especially for scientific images, like those botanist Anna Atkins made. Cyanotypes later became the engineering printer of the times; the blueprint.

...and pours some gasoline on the fire

Trying to calm the furor over in England, Arago invited Hershel, Talbot, and other English scientists to come to Paris to view Daguerre’s work. Talbot was too busy filing patents and refining his technique, but Hershel went. Much to Talbot’s dismay, Hershel wrote publicly:

. . . compared to these masterpieces of Daguerre, Monsieur Talbot produces nothing but vague, foggy things. There is as much difference between these two products as there is between the moon and the sun.

Probably not realizing that Talbot was taking all this very personally, rather than scientifically, Hershel wrote directly to Talbot in a letter:

It is hardly too much to call them miraculous. . . every gradation of light and shade is given with a softness and fidelity which sets all painting at an immeasurable distance. His [exposure] times are also very short. In a bright day three minutes suffice.

There is no question Hershel’s description was accurate. The difference between a Daguerrotype (below) and Talbot’s images of the time (the image at the top of this article) is dramatic.

Daguerrotype of the Clark Sisters, circa mid 1840s. Photographer unknown. Image in public domain via Library of Congress.

Talbot, who initially required 30 minutes, at least, to expose an image, must have tossed his breakfast after reading Hershel’s letter. But Talbot was a stubborn man and just continued to insist his way was the right way. It was the right way, of course, but it would be a few years before that became apparent. Largely because of Talbot.

Daguerre’s triumph

At this point, May of 1839, Daguerre was still waiting for the French Government to actually pay for his invention. Arago wanted to make it “a gift to the world” but Daguerre wasn’t that altruistic. He didn't wait idly, however. He’d taken a rather broad interpretation of Argo’s definition of the world and decided that meant France. Plus he was aware of Tablot’s actions so he quietly had an agent take out patents on his invention in England.

Daguerre also arranged for his brother-in-law, Alphonse Giroux, to produce a wooden camera with lens supplied by Chevalier and a complete set of chemicals for his process. Each bore on its side a metal label “No apparatus is guaranteed unless it bears the signature of M. Daguerre and the seal of M. Giroux”. Giroux and Daguerre already were mass-producing these before the official announcement of his process and were selling them minutes after the announcement was made.

The most recent auction sale of an original Giroux camera, image from Westlicht Photographia Auction, 2010. If you find one at a garage sale, grab it. They sell for about $1 million in reasonable condition.

On July 19th, the French Government finally passed a bill giving Daguerre a lifetime pension in return for his process (and a smaller pension for Isidore Niepce). On August 19th the details of the process were made public at a joint meeting of the French Academies of Science and Fine Arts. The event generated more excitement than a Talking Heads reunion tour: people arrived three hours early to find the hall already full and crowds lining the street. Within days every optician and chemist in Paris (and elsewhere for that matter) had sold out of lenses, silver nitrate, silver plates, and everything else needed to create photographs.

The effects of the release were huge. Photographers were soon swarming over every bit of photogenic real estate in Paris, making image after image (real estate because the early Daguerrotypes required exposure times too long for portraits). Many were making artistic images, but just like today, others quickly became more enamored with their equipment’s resolution. A lament written at the time (which may be apocryphal) would be perfectly at home on a DPR forum today.

Our young men should spend more time considering the composition and merit of their images, and less time with magnifying glasses counting how many bricks and shingles they can resolve.

Daguerre retired almost immediately to Bryn-Sur-Marne where he wrote a 79-page book on his process that was immediately translated into a dozen languages. He continued quiet experimentation in photography until his death in 1851.

The exposure times shortened quickly as chemical processes were refined. Within a year Daguerrists, as they were called, had set up portrait studios in every major city of the world. Even smaller cities were visited by traveling Daguerrists. For the first time an image of a family member could be made easily and then kept forever.

Hippolyte and Hercules

If you remember from the last article, two members of the “greatest names in photography” team, Antoine Hercules Florence and Hippolyte Bayard had also developed photographic techniques at this time. Hercules, a Frenchman living in Brazil, had only delayed and incomplete knowledge of the events in Paris. When he did become aware, though, he was the perfect gentleman stating only that his techniques were not nearly as advanced as those of Daguerre and making no claims for himself.

Hippolyte Bayard had approached Arago in 1839, presenting his own techniques which created positive images, like Daguerrotypes, but used less expensive paper, like Talbot’s process. Arago feared Bayard’s claims would interfere with his plan to release the Daguerrotype process “as a gift to the world”, asked Bayard to remain quiet, and inferred that he, too, would get some form of government pension. This didn’t happen and Bayard ended up demonstrating his technique to the French Institute in exchange for enough money to buy some chemicals.

Portrait of a Drowned Man. Hippolyte Bayard, 1840.

Bayard, who loved him some drama, used his technique to create the first staged photograph: “Self Portrait As a Drowned Man” which he exhibited at the French Institute with the following caption:

The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery. The Government which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life...!

Hippolyte got his stuff together after a bit, though, and went on to have a most successful photographic career. Shooting Daguerreotypes.

Talbot snatches defeat from victory

Back in England Talbot continued to work on his process, making a huge discovery: the principle of developing a latent image. He found that if he bathed his silver iodide papers in a solution of gallic acid and silver nitrate after a brief exposure, the latent image (invisible at first) would “develop” and become visible. He then “fixed” his negatives in hypo and printed positives as he always had. This both shortened exposure times and improved image quality significantly.

It is this process, the Calotype, that became the forerunner of film photography. Calotype images were markedly improved over Talbot’s early work. They still didn’t provide the superb detail of a Daguerreotype, but they had one huge advantage: one could make multiple prints and create mass media.

Talbot patented his invention in England, but charged such high patent fees (up to £800) that almost no one in England used the process. A group of opticians, chemists, and photographers began a long series of legal battles attempting to overturn Talbot’s patents. But the more they tried, the more stubborn he became, and the patent wars raged on for nearly a decade.

However, Talbot, being quite the Anglophile, had patented his process in England and Wales, not bothering to patent it in Scotland and other countries. Daguerre, if you remember, had patented his invention in England, but not elsewhere.

Papal Palace at Avignon. Charles Nègre. Print from a paper negative, 1852.

Largely for this reason, England lagged behind the rest of the world in photography for quite a while, while Scotland and France became centers of photography. Scottish photographers, for example, could use either the Calotype or the Daguerrotype processes without paying any royalties; photographers in England had to pay royalties for either process.

A number of French photographers took advantage of the situation and began using Talbot's process. It probably didn’t help Talbot’s mood much that Frenchmen made two dramatic improvements to his technique. The first, waxing the paper used in the process, increased the photographic detail significantly. Édouard Baldus, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, and Charles Nègre were printing superb images using this process in the 1840s. In France. But no one did in England.

The second improvement, the albumen process, was developed by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, who published and made it freely available in 1847. This used albumen from egg whites to bind photographic chemicals to paper, creating a glossy surface and allowing thousands of positive prints to be made from a single negative. (Talbot’s technique allowed for, at most, a few hundred).

The Hypaethral Temple, Philae. Albumen print by Francis Frith, 1857.

With these advances, Calotypes became THE photographic method used by explorers, archeologists, and others publishing their photographs or documenting their travels in book form; they just didn’t print the books in England. As for Talbot himself, he made hundreds of Calotypes and published some of them in a series of booklets entitled “The Pencil of Nature”, which was the first published photography book. It came out as ‘fascicles’ of twenty-four plates each, but it was not a commercial success and was terminated after the first six fascicles were released.

The real father of photography?

While Talbot was vigorously defending his English patents, another Englishman, Frederick Scott Archer, developed a new technique in 1848. The collodion (or wet plate) process, used glass coated with a gelatin to hold the silver chemicals. Archer did not patent, publishing his technique so that others could use it freely. The collodion (or wet plate) technique was relatively inexpensive, exposed quickly, and the glass plate negative was easier to print from.

Talbot, being Talbot, sued wet-plate photographers on the grounds that this technique was just like his own. British photographers rallied to the case and brought reams of evidence that Talbot was not the true inventor (much of the evidence was later found to be false and fabricated). The jury found that Talbot’s patents were valid, but only for his exact process. Anyone who varied from his published methods even slightly was not guilty of patent violation, and by that time all photography varied from Talbott's original methods.

Talbot had finally lost the war, and England had finally joined the rest of the photography world. Archer’s wet plate technique itself advanced photography greatly, but the fact that it led to the breaking of Talbot’s patents particularly advanced the art in England.

Frederick Scott Archer, unfortunately, benefitted not at all and died penniless in 1857. After his death, Punch magazine asked for donations for the family:

The inventor of Collodion has died, leaving his invention, unpatented, to enrich thousands, and his family unapportioned to the battle of life. Now, one expects a photographer to be almost as sensitive as the Collodion to which Mr. Scott Archer helped him. . . you, photographers, set up Gratitude in your little glass temples of the sun, and sacrifice, according to your means, in memory of the benefactor . . . answers must not be Negatives.

About £767 were raised for Archer’s family; a fair amount of money at the time. About as much as Talbot charged for one license to use the Calotype process.

The collodion process wasn’t perfect. Collodion (nitrocellulose), which is made from gun cotton dissolved in ether and alcohol, has an annoying tendency to explode, for one thing. Preparation of the plates and photographic technique using them was difficult. But the images obtained were better than Calotypes and created negatives that could print thousands of copies, unlike Daguerrotypes.

Direct positive images would continue to be made, not only Daguerrotypes, but less expensive Tintypes and Other types. Because of their fine detail, positives were a favorite for portraits for quite a while. But the negative-image-to-positive print process would become the standard for most photographic work.

So, who was the real Father of Photography? It would make a good paternity suit. Niepce created the first permanent images using a camera. Daguerre perfected the technique that allowed it to become mainstream (and was the only one to benefit financially). Talbot’s different technique allowed multiple copies of images to be mass produced, and the negative-image to positive-print is the basis for all photography from the 1800s until digital.

But, I think no matter who you credit with fathering photography, Frederick Scott Archer, who freed photography so that anyone of reasonable means could afford to take photographs and whose discoveries led directly to the development of film, is the one who raised the child.

* Morse wasn't the ONLY Daguerreotypist in America in 1839. Daguerre had contracted with Francois Gouraud to introduce and sell Giroux's 'official' cameras in the U. S. and he arrived in the Fall of 1839. Another man, D. W. Seager took and exhibited a Daguerreotype in September of 1839, soon after he returned to New York from Europe.


Resources:

  • Bankston, John: Louis Daguerre and the Daguerrotype. Mitchell Lane. Delaware.
  • Daniel, Malcolm: The Daguerreian Age in France. Metropolitan Museum of Art, October, 2020.
  • Daniel, Malcolm: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography. Metropolitan Museum of Art, October, 2020.
  • Gustavson, Todd: A History of Photography from Daguerrotype to Digital. Sterling, 2009.
  • Marien, Mary W: Photography. A Cultural History. 3rd ed. Prentice Hall. 2011
  • Newhall, Beaumont: The History of Photography. Museum of Modern Art, New York. 2009
  • Osterman, Mark and Romer, Grant: History of the Evolution of Photography. In: Peres, Michael (Ed.): The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th, ed. Elsevier, 2007.
À partir d’avant-hierNews: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

DPReview TV: The best portrait kits for every budget

One question we get a lot at DPReview is, 'What's the best portrait kit?' This week, Chris and Jordan recommend their favorite camera and lens combos for shooting portraits. Whether you have champagne tastes or a beer budget, there's a great kit for you.

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

From the T90 to the EOS R3 - a visual tour of Canon's high-end cameras (photo gallery)

Canon was a pioneer of electronic, multi-mode cameras, and some of the design decisions that the company made way back in the 1980s persist even now, in its high-end EF and RF cameras. From the T90 to the new EOS R3, high-end Canon cameras share a remarkable amount of DNA.

In this gallery, we’re taking a closer look at several Canon cameras, from the 1980s to the present day, to explore how the company’s approach to ergonomics has evolved (and when it hasn't) over the years.

ACDSee Photo Studio 2022 announced: New face recognition technology, improved performance and more

ACD Systems has launched ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2022. ACD Systems' new version of its flagship photo editing software includes numerous updates, highlighted by the addition of two new modes: Media mode and People mode. These new modes' streamline the digital asset management process and introduce AI-powered facial recognition.'

Frank Lin, COO and CTO of ACD Systems, said, 'ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 complements an already robust array of Digital Asset Management and Layer Editing modes. We continue to develop this software year-on-year by adding new updates and services to help photographers through the day-to-day. The two new modes will help photographers identify images in a heartbeat, rather than going through an abundance of images to find the file they're looking for. Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 is the ticket to a future where Artificial Intelligence will help elevate photographers' vision.'

In addition to the new Media and People modes, Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 incorporates new selection tools and filters that offer improved precision when making selects. The software adds a color wheel for improved pixel targeting.

Further, noise reduction, which is improved, can now be applied via the develop mode brush in the latest version. ISO settings above 200,000 are now supported in the 2022 release, which is good news for users of newer Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony cameras. HDR and Focus Stacking functionality is improved as well.

With People Mode, the software uses machine learning to detect and recognize faces. Users can merge, rename or delete faces to help keep their photo library organized. Photo Studio 2022's AI assistant offers labeling suggestions for grouping similar unnamed individuals.

Media Mode is a database-driven 'powerhouse' for viewing and accessing any folders you've browsed in Manage mode or cataloged into the ACDSee database. You can use Media Mode to sort, group and filter in user-selected combinations.

The underlying basis of Photo Studio remains the same, promising non-destructive, layer-based photo editing, batch editing tools and digital asset management functions. If you'd like to learn more about ACDSee Photo Studio's core functionality, we published a review of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2021 just this week. While there are some new features in 2022, our review of 2021 remains relevant to any prospective customers.

Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 is available as a subscription for $8.90 per month or $89 per year. It can also be purchased with a lifetime license for $149.99. A free trial is available here. If you don't require all the features of Ultimate, there are also Professional and Home versions available for $99.99 and $59.99, respectively. The Professional and Home versions are also available as a subscription. For the full breakdown of which features are included in each version, click here. Photo Studio 2022 is available for Windows.

Ricoh Recipes: a free Android, iOS app that offers film simulation recipes for Ricoh GR cameras

Ritchie Roesch, creator of the Fuji X Weekly blog, has released Ricoh Recipes, a new mobile app that includes a list of 40 film simulation recipes you can use on Ricoh’s line of GR cameras.

Roesch previously released a similar app for Fujifilm film simulation recipes, but this time his focus is on Ricoh’s Ricoh GR, GR II, GR III and GR IIIx camera models. Like Fujifilm’s Film Simulation mode, Ricoh’s GR cameras also have the ability to bake-in image adjustments to JPEGs for straight-out-of-camera images that are already edited to fit your aesthetic preferences.

You can find a screenshot of all the included film simulation modes here.

The app features a fairly straightforward database-style design and features 20 recipes for Ricoh’s HR and GR II cameras, as well as 20 more for Ricoh’s GR III and GR IIIx cameras. In addition to providing the recipe, which you will need to manually enter into your camera, each recipe includes sample photos captured with that preset and a field for adding your own notes to each recipe for referencing later.

The app, which is available for Android, iOS and iPadOS, is free to download and includes the 40 recipes mentioned above. There’s also an option to become a ‘Ricoh Recipe’s Patron’ via an in-app subscription of $11.99 per year. This subscription gives you the ability to filter the recipes, favorite recipes and also includes additional recipes not included in the free version.

Roesch notes these recipes will not work on Ricoh's GR Digital (GRD) camera models.

Film Friday: Meet the Olympus OM-X, a modular, prototype camera that was meant to be the OM-1

The Olympus OM-1 was a revolutionary camera that changed the single-lens reflex (SLR) camera market by offering impressive image quality in a compact, reliable form factor with (relatively) small, high-quality lenses to boot. While its design shaped the industry for decades to come, it almost didn’t take on the form factor we now look back on.

In a recent article on Kosmo Foto, Stephen Dowling explains how the OM-1 was a far different design than what Olympus had originally intended when it showed off a prototype camera dubbed the Olympus OM-X, a modular 35mm SLR camera that looked more like a Hasselblad 500 series medium format camera than the 35mm SLR design we’re now accustomed to seeing.

Much like Hasselblad’s 500 series cameras, the OM-X was modular in that it would’ve allowed users to swap out various parts, including the lens, pentaprism viewfinder, shutter and film back. While we never saw the OM-X leave the prototype stage, late Olympus designer Yoshihisa Maitani, who passed away in 2009, shared the history of the camera in an interview with Asahi Camera back in 2002.

While it’s worth reading the interview in its entirety, here’s a quote from Maitani regarding how he approached the design of the OM-X prototype:

‘A camera is a tool to take pictures. It needs various functions. I try to take apart the camera into units by each function. Lens, body, film back, and a focal plane or lens shutter. The basic concept of the OM System is to enable the user to gather the components as necessary […] You build it in a different form for snapshots, shooting still life, etc.’

Unfortunately, this concept proved difficult to produce, due to various ‘technical difficulties.’ Since Olympus didn’t want to wait to release the camera, Maitani says he ‘was requested to release something first,’ which ended up being the OM-1, which he describes as ‘a combination of the most popular functions.’

You can read the full article on Kosmo Foto, below:

This is what the Olympus OM-1 could have looked like


About Film Fridays: We recently launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we'll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at 35mmc and Kosmo Foto.

Report: ProRes recording on Apple's new iPhone 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max models will tear through up to 6GB/minute

Apple announced alongside the reveal of its iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max devices that both of these models will eventually be able to shoot ProRes video with a future iOS update. While much remains a mystery regarding what we can expect in terms of quality, it seems we now know how much storage space this ProRes recording will take up (spoiler: a LOT).

FYI, 1 minute of ProRes Video shot on iPhone 13 Pros clocks in at 6GB

Use that information however you want

— Ray Wong (@raywongy) September 21, 2021

According to Input’s Raymond Wong, citing a conversation with Apple, one minute of 4K HDR 10-bit ProRes video shot on an iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max will take up 6GB of storage. This is more than was suggested by MacRumor’s Steve Moser, who shared a screenshot of iOS code that specifically says ‘a minute of 10-bit HDR ProRes is approximately 1GB for HD and 4GB for 4K.’ But even if it only comes in at 4GB, that’s a lot of internal storage to be filling up.

The ProRes icon is just PRO now. “ProRes capture is only supported for up to 30fps at 1080p and 4K”. Cc @sdw pic.twitter.com/5tlJJD5NYz

— Steve Moser (@SteveMoser) September 21, 2021

This massive consumption of data is likely the reason Apple will limit ProRes recording on the 128GB models to 1080p instead, as it’s only taking up a quarter of the storage space. Still though, if you plan on shooting a lot of ProRaw video when the feature debuts, you might want to play it safe and go with the 512GB or 1TB model, considering you could get through 256GB of data in just over an hour at 4GB/minute and just under 45 minutes if it ends up being 6GB/minute.

Slideshow: Winners and finalists for the 2021 Siena Drone Photo Awards

Winners and finalists for the 2021 Siena Drone Photo Awards

The Siena Awards recently announced the winners and finalists for its 2021 Drone Photo Awards. Tens of thousands of aerial images were submitted from 102 countries. The overall winning image, featuring thousands of pink-footed geese flying towards the Arctic, belongs to Norwegian photographer Terje Kolaas.

Photographers submitted work from categories including Abstract, Sport, Urban, People, and 'Extragalactic.' 'I’m so thrilled to win the award, it's such a huge honor to be recognized on an International stage among so many talented photographers and amazing photos,' Sport category winner Phil de Glanville tells DPReview.

His award-winning image was a result of planning mixed in with some trial-and-error. 'Getting the timing of the waves and finding the right positions to shoot from takes practice. I like to shoot waves from low down and up close, so I’ve been fairly close to losing my drone on a few occasions! With this shot, I was able to capture the beauty of the wave barreling over with the power of it crashing.'

A gallery of all Drone Photo Awards 2021 winners and finalists can be found on their site.

Photo of the Year: 'Pink-Footed Geese Meeting the Winter' by Terje Kolaas

About this Image: Thousands of Pink-footed Geese roost in central Norway in spring, on their way to the breeding grounds on Svalbard in the Arctics. Probably because of climate change, they arrive earlier every year and often the ground and the fields where they feed are covered by snow when they arrive. The geese tend to use the same paths, so when waiting for them in the air with a drone, photos like this one are possible.

1st Classified, Sport: 'Gold at the End of the Rainbow' by Phil De Glanville

About this Image: I found gold at the end of this rainbow as surfer, Ollie Henry, escapes a monster wave off the coast of South West Western Australia.

Commended, Sport: 'Light Athletics' by Zdeněk Vošický

About this Image: It took me several attempts to make this image. The first element was the black-and-white shot, which makes the lines of the tracks stand out and suppresses any distractions, up to the final image.

1st Classified, Urban: 'Metaphorical Statement About City and Winter' by Sergei Poletaev

About this Image: A 500-year-old monastery in the Moscow region and a large power plant in the background. The steam from the cooling towers is particularly dense due to severe frost.

Runner Up, Urban: 'The Kingdom Centre' by George Steinmetz

About this Image: Standing 992 feet high, the Kingdom Centre was the tallest skyscraper in Saudi Arabia when completed in 2002—and is considered only the second to have been built in the country—but is now 5th on the list.

Highly Commended, Wildlife: 'Polar Bear Hunting' by Florian Ledoux

About this Image: Polar bear hunting seal from an iceberg in Svalbard during the summer while the sea ice is gone all the way north to 83°N.

Commended, People: 'Red Chillies Harvesting' by Md Tanveer Hassan Rohan

About this Image: Women were shorting dry red chillies in a red chili pepper dry factory to preserve them . They get nearly $2 ( 160 BDT) after 10 hours of work and in some places they get less than this amount. Bogura's chillies are famous around the country.

Commended, People: 'Basket Crops on the Cliff' by Minqiang Lu

About this Image: Every autumn the red hawthorns are harvested. The villagers put the sliced hawthorn to dry on the cliff, which becomes a unique scenery in South Taihang. The ripe hawthorn not only brings the joy of harvest to the villagers, but also brings the gorgeous colors of Taihang Mountain.

1st Classified, Nature: 'Extragalactic' by Martin Sanchez

About this Image: The intense and glorious moments during an erupting volcano with an exclusive view from the inside. Captured in Iceland.

Highly Commended, Nature: 'Camel Shadows at Sunset' by Jim Picôt

About this Image: Flying the drone over the ocean, I spotted the approaching Camels, with human guests on board, and noticed the beautiful light, and shadows, and also the eloquent wave patterns on the shoreline.

Highly Commended, Abstract: 'Duoyishu Terraces' by Ran Tian

About this Image: A spectacular aerial view of the famous Duoyishu terraces where rice is grown. The shades of colors of the different levels of the rice fields create a unique effect.

Commended, Abstract: 'No Stress' by Zsolt Ódor

About this Image: Lonely dog sleeping on the beach under the sun shades. It is very typical situation on this beach. It was beautiful from above.

Commended, Wedding: 'First Meet' by Shinichi Shimomiya

About this Image: The wedding in Corona is over. The two fought without losing. I vowed to love each other. The moment I saw it for the first time. The sound of loud waves celebrated them.

EU proposes legislation requiring USB-C charging ports on devices, including iPhones and digital cameras

Electronic waste is an ever-growing issue. The European Commission, an executive arm of the European Union, believes it's a problem made worse by various devices utilizing different charging cables. Apple is a large culprit, thanks to its continued use of a proprietary Lightning cable for its iPhones and other devices. While some iPad models have shifted to USB-C ports for charging, the very popular iPhone uses a Lightning connector, even as most competitors have moved to the USB-C standard.

Rather than leave charging port decisions up to manufacturers, the European Commission has announced proposed legislation to force USB-C to become the 'standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles.' While many consumers think about phones and tablets when considering charging cables, cameras are important to photographers. Cameras using USB-C have become increasingly common, although there are still interchangeable lens cameras that utilize micro USB.

Are your chargers piling up in a drawer?

We propose a common charger for mobile phones and other similar electronic devices.

A single charger will be more convenient for people and will reduce electronic waste.

Read more: https://t.co/hkspfjwlhu #DigitalEU pic.twitter.com/ZhWZ8xSGKH

— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) September 23, 2021

I'm confident that I'm not alone in having dozens of various charging cables scattered around. It's wasteful. Last year, Apple removed charging cables from new iPhones, a decision lambasted by Samsung shortly before they opted to do the same thing. Undoubtedly these decisions have been driven by a desire to cut costs through reduced production, materials use and packaging size. Still, it's also been part of an overall plan to reduce waste.

Commissioner Thierry Breton. Image credit: Jennifer Jacquemart

It's not just waste that the European Commission hopes to address, it's also consumer frustration. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said, 'European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.'

Image credit: European Commission

Commissioner Thierry Breton added, 'Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.'

The Commission is proposing more than a harmonized charging port, it's also proposing legislated fast charging technology, forcing manufacturers to not include chargers with new devices, and improving the information consumers see about device charging performance. The Commission estimates that combined with other measures, the proposed legislation could save EU consumers €250 per year on unnecessary charger purchases.

Image credit: European Commission

If the proposed Radio Equipment Directive is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by ordinary legislative procedure, a 24-month transitionary period will be adopted before the legislation takes full effect, giving the industry time to adapt. The EU parliament adopted earlier legislation proposing a common charger, so the new rules are expected to garner support, as well.

If you're wondering if Apple could simply bundle a Lightning to USB-C adapter with products sold in the EU, per Steve Troughton-Smith, that's not an option under the proposed EU legislation.

It also looks like the EU went all-in on this, so a manufacturer can’t get away with having a USB-C ‘adapter’ for the device vs having an actual USB-C port pic.twitter.com/Pf8VHyhfSz

— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) September 23, 2021

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple isn't on board. A spokesperson told Reuters 'We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.' Per The Verge, Apple has previously objected to similar restrictions, claiming that forcing customers to throw out existing Lightning accessories will increase e-waste. Of course, Apple has changed charging port design before.


Lead image credit: Jennifer Jacquemart

Rokinon / Samyang AF 35mm F1.8 FE sample gallery

The Rokinon (Samyang in most regions) AF 35mm F1.8 FE is a full-frame standard prime for full-frame Sony mirrorless bodies. It's impressively sharp given its street price of $350, even in the corners, chromatc aberrations are a rare sight and focus speeds are snappy. It's not the most solid-feeling lens, but then again, it's an inexpensive lens.

View our Rokinon/Samyang AF
35mm F1.8 FE gallery

Historik app uses AR to combine the modern world with historical events, landmarks

Augmented reality (AR) may be modern technology, but entrepreneur Chris Whalen wants to use the tech and a new app, Historik, to bring back the past. Using a smartphone with AR capabilities, Historik can recreate historic buildings and objects at specific markers and let users learn more about the past, swipe through artifacts and even explore an old area in full 3D. Users will even be able to set up self-guided tours.

Of the app, which aims to launch in June 2022, the Historik website writes, 'Historik is your passport to experience history at its origin. We are building the nation's largest open-source database of the past, enabling the development of products focused on history. Our purpose is to digitally preserve the past, at the same time, create the most immersive experiences solely concentrated on history.'

In a KTVB7 report, Dave Walker, chair of Coeur d'Alene's Historic Preservation Commission in Idaho said, 'It's a technology that I've never seen anywhere. This can really, really grow into a big deal.'

Speaking with KTVB7, Whalen said, 'I want to be able to bring our city to life with technology and have history be the centerpiece of that. We're trying to reach the older generations and the younger generations at the same time.'

Click to enlarge

Whalen himself hopes to create around eight augmented reality experiences. He's completed one of the historic Wilma Theatre in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, which was built in 1936, closed in 1983 and demolished in 1997 following a roof collapse. For those who have seen this AR experience, it's been great. Walker was able to stand where he had bought tickets at the theatre back when he was a child.

It's evident that Whalen along won't be able to create a lot of AR experiences by himself, and he's focused on his local area. For Historik to work on a large scale, it will require financial backing and leverage its open-source nature to allow many users worldwide to create their own AR experiences to share. A private backer has helped Whalen stay the course with Historik now, but he estimates he'll need about $250,000 to develop the product and take it nationwide.

Click to enlarge

Whalen hopes that families will be able to contribute to the open-source database when Historik launches, preserving their family history and receiving credit. 'Our job at Historik is to create a platform for communities to have a place where they can digitally preserve that history,' Whalen said. 'So no matter what happens to the actual artifact, their history will live on forever.'

Whalen hopes that the app can be useful for schools as well. The app could have crafted experiences for students on field trips, for example, and could use geocaching to make learning about history more fun. The app will be free, although some features will be locked behind a subscription, including AR, hands-free audio and bookmarking.

Before a public launch next summer, Historik can be beta tested. If you'd like to learn more about receiving early access, visit Historik. It's an interesting idea and hopefully, it can receive the support it needs to take off. If many people participated, it could become a rich resource full of fascinating history and great old photography brought back to life.

All Apple iPhone 13 and 13 Pro camera upgrades: Explained

Last week Apple announced its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro lineup, which incorporate major advancements to its camera technology.

While we're waiting to get our hands on the devices, we wanted to break down the improvements the new models bring compared to the previous generation. But here's the gist of it: Apple managed to cram the larger sensor and optics seen in last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max into the much smaller 13 Mini this year, all the way down to the sensor shift stabilization technology. So when it comes to this year's iPhone cameras, think 'bigger'.


Jump to:

iPhone 13 | iPhone 13 Pro | Photographic Styles | Video | Display | HDR


iPhone 13 vs. 12

Diagonally arranged camera array on the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini. A diagonal arrangement ensures that both horizontal and vertical scene detail produce non-zero disparity in both portrait and landscape orientations, to aid in depth-map generation in Portrait Mode.

Last year's iPhone 12 models didn't see any step-up in sensor size from the 11 models until you got to the 12 Pro Max model. Sensor size, along with lens' maximum aperture, is the largest determinant of image quality, since dynamic range and low light performance are intimately linked to how much scene light you capture.

This year, there are significant upgrades to sensor sizes, starting with Apple bringing the largest sensor in its largest phone from last year down into its smallest new phone, the iPhone 13 Mini. Below we break down all the technical specs of the iPhone 13 (and 13 Mini, which shares identical specs) vs. the iPhone 12 (and 12 Mini) from last year:

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13

Wide

26mm equiv.
F1.6

1.7µm 35.2mm2
(1/1.9")
F8.2 Sensor-shift Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12

Wide

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.4µm 23.9mm2
(1/2.55")
F9.9 Optical Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 13/12

Ultra Wide

13mm equiv
F2.4
1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F20.2 None Fixed focus
The iPhone 13's 1/1.9" wide (main) sensor captures 47% more light than the 1/2.55" sensor in the iPhone 12, thanks to the extra 11.3mm2 of surface area on the chip. The above specs are equivalent for the base and mini models.

Like last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini models capture ~47% more light than the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, thanks to the 47% larger sensor surface area resulting from the 1.7µm pixels (up from 1.4µm). The 13 and 13 Mini models also gain the sensor-shift image stabilization from the 12 Pro Max. This should enable longer exposures for low light photos (or fewer blurry ones, anyway), and might also help capture more steady video footage. To get a sense for the improved low light ability this year's iPhone 13 will bring over last year's 12 and 12 Pro models, have a look at this 30s Night Mode shot of the starry sky, comparing the 12 Pro Max to the 12 Pro, below. The ultra-wide camera remains the same.

iPhone 12 Pro Max (full-size JPEG) | iPhone 12 Pro (full-size JPEG)

The display has been improved on the 13 and 13 Mini as well, particularly important when it comes to viewing the HDR stills and Dolby Vision HDR video the iPhones shoot (no, not that HDR, this HDR). It's 28% brighter and can achieve 800 nits for standard (SDR) content, maxing out at 1200 nits for HDR stills and video (a spec that was previously reserved only for the Pro models). These maximum brightness levels can be sustained for longer periods of time due to increased display efficiency. A ceramic shield on top of the display adds durability, as well.

iPhone 13 Pro / Max vs. 12 Pro / Max

This year, if you want the best camera, you no longer have to choose the bigger Pro Max model - both the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max feature the same sensors, optics, stabilization and features. The three cameras in the Pro models span a 6x optical focal length range:

Compared to the base 13 and 13 Mini models, the Pro models gain the following:

  • Larger main camera sensor with 1.9µm pixels and wider F1.5 aperture
  • 77mm equivalent F2.8 '3x' telephoto camera with PDAF and OIS
  • Upgraded ultra-wide with a wider F1.8 lens for better low light performance, and AF for Macro photography

Let's take a closer look at the main 'wide' camera, and how it compares to last year's iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max models:

Wide (main) cameras:

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

26mm equiv.
F1.5

1.9µm 44mm2
(1/1.65")
F6.8 Sensor-shift

Optical
Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12 Pro

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.4µm 23.9mm2
(1/2.55")
F9.9 Optical Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12 Pro Max

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.7µm 35.2mm2
(1/1.9")
F8.2 Sensor-shift Dual-pixel AF

The 1.9µm pixel pitch of the 13 Pro and Pro Max 1/1.65"-type* main camera sensor allows it to achieve a 44mm2 surface area, which gathers 84% more light than last year's 1/2.55"-type sensor in the 12 Pro, and 25% more light than the 1/1.9"-type sensor in last year's 12 Pro Max and this year's 13 and 13 Mini models. The lens has been upgraded from an F1.6 to a wider F1.5 aperture, bringing in 14% more light.

The larger sensors, bigger entrance pupils, and faster apertures mean a significantly bigger camera module on this year's 13 Pro (right) compared to last year's 12 Pro (left).

That makes the sensor and lens combination F6.8 equivalent (read our article on equivalence), so you can achieve some background blur and subject separation optically, without of Portrait Mode. F6.8 equivalent also puts the iPhone 13 Pro's main camera only roughly 2.5 EV short of the light gathering capability of a full-frame camera with an F2.8 lens attached, assuming parity in sensor efficiency, microlens design and light gathering ability, etc. In reality that's probably an unrealistic assumption, so the difference is likely greater, but this is still remarkable; especially once you consider the extra light the smartphone will capture thanks to its use of multi-frame tile-based image fusion (a simplistic version of which is described here).

This is where smartphones capture multiple images in a sequence and align them intelligently to cope with moving elements in the scene: essentially making up temporally for what they lack in spatial light capture (sensor size).

This year's Pro models capture roughly 100% and 40% more light in the dark compared to last year's Pro and Pro Max, respectively

So, bigger sensors and brighter apertures are better, but what does all this mean compared to the previous generation models? You can expect the iPhone 13 Pro to show at least a 1 EV improvement in low light performance compared to last year's 12 Pro, and a 0.5 EV improvement compared to last year's 12 Pro Max and this year's 13 and 13 Mini models. That's because the combination of the larger sensor and brighter lens on the 13 Pro main camera lets in roughly 100% and ~40% more light than the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max / 13 main cameras, respectively. Video quality, which doesn't benefit from quite as much multi-frame fusion as stills (though, at least two frames of varying exposure are combined per frame), will particularly see a notable improvement in quality.

Furthermore, the combination of sensor-shift and optical lens stabilization this year, compared to either optical or sensor-shift stabilization in last year's models, should allow for longer hand-held exposures, further improving Night Mode. When held steady enough (on a tripod), last year's Pro models shot 30s exposures of 10 frames, 3s each; this year's Pro models with combination IS are capable of shooting 3 frames, 10s each in Night Mode, presumably to reduce the impact of read noise. It's possible this combination may also benefit video stabilization.

Ultra wide cameras:

Last year's iPhone 12 Pro models were capable of some stunning results with the ultra-wide module, thanks to the availability of Night Mode and ProRaw. (1s night mode)

The ultra-wide cameras have also been upgraded, now with a brighter F1.8 aperture (compared to F2.4 on last year's models), and with phase-detect autofocus. That makes the ultra-wide camera now F15.1 full-frame equivalent, up from F20.2 on last year's models. That amounts to 78% (0.83 EV) more light, a big helping hand for that small 1/3.4"-type sensor.

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. Aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

13mm equiv.
F1.8

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F15.1 None Sparse PDAF

iPhone 12 / Pro / Max

13mm equiv.
F2.4
1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F20.2 None Fixed focus

The addition of autofocus allows the ultra-wide to focus down to 2 cm for some pretty compelling macro photography, judging from the samples Apple shared:

Apple also claims a 'faster sensor', which we interpret as 'faster readout speed'. Faster read-out speeds offer a number of benefits, ranging from reduced rolling shutter artifacts and banding under artificial lighting. Additionally, faster sensor readout can theoretically improve electronic image stabilization in video, by increasing the interval between when a frame of video has been read out and the next one needs to be acquired. But we have no way of knowing yet if the 13 Pro models realize this benefit.

Telephoto cameras:

The telephoto camera has been upgraded in a couple of ways: first, at 77mm equivalent it's now 3x that of the wide camera's 26mm equivalent field-of-view, up from the 2.5x 65mm equiv. module on last year's 12 Pro Max, or the 2.0x 52mm equiv. module on the 12 Pro. That gives you more reach, and more potential for subject isolation. With that increase in 'zoom' though comes a decrease in light gathering ability: the F2.0 and F2.2 apertures on last year's Pro and Pro Max models, respectively, are replaced with an F2.8 aperture, which turns out to be roughly F23.8 equivalent in full-frame terms.

So don't expect much subject-background separation outside of Portrait Mode. None of this is too surprising: as focal length increases, the physical size of the aperture must increase to maintain the same F-number, and that means, you guessed it, bigger optics. There's only so much room inside these tiny camera modules.

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equivalent aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

77mm equiv.

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F23.8 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.8

iPhone 12 Pro Max

65mm equiv. 1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F18.7 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.2

iPhone 12 Pro

52mm equiv.

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F17.4 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.0

The second, arguably more exciting improvement to the telephoto module is the availability of Night Mode. Last year, iPhone 12 brought Night Mode to the ultra-wide camera, but this year, it's finally available on all three cameras (if you thought you were getting Night Mode on the telephoto module previously, it was only because light levels had dropped so low that the iPhone was switching to the 1x module and cropping in).

This is a welcome addition (Google's Pixel 4, for example, enjoyed it on its 48mm equiv. module back in 2019) which should bring a dramatic improvement to low light photos shot with the telephoto module, which are otherwise hampered by the small sensor and the (relatively) narrow aperture.

Photographic Styles

iPhone photos have a look. It changes year to year, but they tend to be consistently well exposed with relatively mild contrast (this contrast is enhanced, though, when viewed in HDR on iPhone's OLED displays). Colors are pleasing without appearing overdone, with deep blue cyan-ish skies, skin tones that one would rarely describe as dull, and generally neutral white balance that skews a bit warmer under incandescent than some of its Android peers but, starting with the iPhone 11, with a slight greenish tint overall. Quite different from the saturated output of Samsung, or the cool contrasty look of Google's Pixel phones.

If you've often found yourself editing your iPhone photos to add a bit of tint, perhaps some punch to your photos - especially if you find yourself doing so repeatedly - you'll appreciate 'Photographic Styles', a way to personalize your iPhone camera to your own tastes. It essentially allows you to dial in your individual preferences and have them applied to all the images you shoot. But it goes deeper than that.

A representation of Apple's multi-frame image processing pipeline, with disparate steps in the process identified. Pay particular attention to the 'semantic rendering' mask, which allows Apple to apply various tone operations selectively to various elements of the scene - such as skies and faces - disparately.

This isn't a simple filter being applied after you've shot your photo. Instead, it's integrated into the advanced multi-frame image processing pipeline, applying local edits at the appropriate stages so that - as we understand it - edits meant to cool the overall image don't inadvertently cool skin tones, or vice versa. And since it's being applied directly to the multi-frame ISP, it's all being done in real-time as the photo is rendered, so you can preview the effect as you're shooting.

You start by choosing from the following default presets to change the overall look of your photo: Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool. You can then tweak each one of these to your own liking with individual controls over tone and warmth.

Rich Contrast (Default)

Vibrant (Default)

Vibrant Warm (Edited)

Vibrant Warm (Edited)

According to Apple's Rebecca Pujols, each mode uses Apple's semantic understanding - its discrete knowledge of various portions of the photo like skies vs. grass vs. faces - to apply appropriate local adjustments, whilst preserving skin tones. We're not sure if that means that skin tones are preserved entirely no matter the preset, or whether skin tones are treated differently based on the individual adjustment or parameter, but the gist of it is that different scene elements can be adjusted independently. We'll be digging into this once we've received samples of the phones. We do know that currently, Photographic Styles is incompatible with Apple ProRaw.

During the keynote, Pujols also mentioned that Smart HDR 4, Apple's latest iteration of its intelligent multi-frame capture and fusion pipeline, now uses a learning-based approach to identify individual subjects in a photo and process different skin tones individually.

Video

In the video department, Apple has made a big play by introducing Cinematic Mode, which is actually a number of things. It's essentially a 'Video Portrait Mode' and a way to change focus (and depth-of-field effect) after-the-fact, something we've dug into deeper in our article here. We think it could revolutionize video for the consumer, and in a few generations perhaps even for a budding cinematographer. See the video below for a demonstration from Apple, and here's a music video by an independent producer (NSFW).

Apple has said that ProRes video will also be made available in a future update to the 13 Pro and Pro Max, at up to 1080/30p with the 128GB storage option and up to 4K/30p with the 256GB to 1TB storage options. Apple says it has also focused this year on using machine learning to intelligently apply sharpening selectively to different subjects in the scene.

Display

The display on the 13 Pro models has also been improved. First, efficiency improvements allow the display to attain 1000 nits peak brightness in outdoor environments, up from 800 nits last year. We can't stress how useful this is for camera use in bright, outdoor environments. Many Android devices with highly rated screens (capable of 1000 nits in HDR mode, for example) become quite difficult to use outdoors when the bright sunlight overwhelms the phone's display.

Furthermore, new to the iPhone 13 Pro models is Pro Motion, which allows the display to slow down or speed up the refresh rate as necessary, depending on what's going on, on the screen. Scrolling slowly? The display will slow down to 10 Hz. Watching high frame rate video or scrolling through your photos library quickly? The display will speed up to 120Hz. Want your cinematic look preserved at 24p without 3:2 pulldown? Not a problem. The ability to slow the display down to 10Hz conserves battery life, and 120Hz is of course no problem for the instantaneous response of the OLED technology driving the display.

While the non-Pro models don't feature Pro Motion technology, and aren't quite as bright, they're just as competitive in the resolution department, with the 13 having the same exact size and resolution as the 13 Pro (6.1", 2532 x 1170, 460 ppi), the 13 Mini having an actual higher pixel density (476 ppi, 5.4", 2340 x 1080), and finally the 13 Pro Max featuring the largest screen (6.7", 2778 x 1284, 458 ppi).

HDR

OLED displays, like those on recent iPhones, are capable of brighter whites and darker blacks than older displays. On these displays, the shadow region would be brighter and able to express more contrast, while the sky would be brighter still and more distinct from midtones, just as it would be in the real world. However, it's impossible to convey the capabilities in a JPEG image like the one above, viewed on an SDR display, so the difference you see here - between what this photo would look like on a typical smartphone vs. an iPhone - is far more dramatic in reality.

We'll also take a moment here to point out that the display, in combination with Apple's decision with the iPhone X to enable what we term 'HDR display' or 'HDR playback' of still images (and video, for that matter), is what sets Apple iPhone devices apart from its competition. While a detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this article, HDR playback allows stills and video to have far more output dynamic range - to appear less flat - than standard dynamic range (SDR) output (see above).

Brights appear much brighter than midtones, and both midtones and highlights appear far brighter than shadows, which can be rendered deep and dark, yet still well defined and visible. That means tonal relationships between objects in the real world are better preserved - reflections of sunlight on a lake appear much brighter than the surrounding water as they do in reality (which won't be the case when you view this image on your computer monitor). And thanks to Apple's use of the wide P3 color space, photos can contain brighter and more saturated tones.

The iPhone 12 lineup saw some dramatic improvements to HDR playback, with nearly all still images enjoying the benefit of the increased output dynamic range (with some caveats), and video - which has enjoyed HDR capture for some time now - finally getting a proper HDR output format in the form of Dolby Vision for increased output or displayed dynamic range. We look forward to assessing further improvements to Apple's HDR rendering of its stills and videos in the future.

We hope that gives you a comprehensive look at what to expect from Apple's new devices. What would you like us to investigate and take deeper dives into? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


*The inch-type measurement for sensor size is arguably archaic at this time, and made more sense when back when there were only a limited set of available sensor sizes. Today, we continue to see various new sensor sizes, particularly in smartphones, so some of the inch-types we've indicated here are only approximations and in some cases, unheard of (e.g. 1/1.65"-type). In such cases, we've included them only for comparison reasons.

Getting flexible: Microsoft announces Surface Pro 8, Surface Laptop Studio and Surface Duo 2

At today’s Surface event, Microsoft unveiled a number of new and improved Surface products, including the new Surface Pro 8, a creator-focused Surface Laptop Studio and the Surface Duo 2, an updated version of its dual-display folding smartphone. While you can watch the event in its entirety via the above video, we’ll break down the biggest announcements from the livestream.

Surface Pro 8

One of Microsofts biggest announcements at today’s event was the Surface Pro 8, a major upgrade to its Surface Pro line, whose updates have been rather incremental going back to the Surface Pro 3. Headlining the upgrades is a new 120Hz display, Thunderbolt 4 support and updated chipsets that bring Intel’s 11th Gen quad-core Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

The new 13" PixelSense Flow Display is larger, both in physical dimensions and resolution, than previous Surface Pro devices. The 2880 x 1920 pixels(267 ppi) multitouch display runs at 60Hz by default, but supports up to 120Hz refresh rate, and will intelligently alter the framerate to optimize performance when needed and battery life for less resource-intensive tasks. The display offers Dolby Vision support for high dynamic range (HDR) content and works with the new and improved Surface Slim Pen 2 to offer a unique writing experience that matches the feeling of a pen on paper, according to Microsoft.

Another major improvement is the inclusion of Thunderbolt 4. Gone are the USB-A ports seen on past Surface Pro devices. Now, the Surface Pro 8 includes two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, which support external monitors, external storage and even an External GPU for times when you need a little more processing power for editing video (or gaming). There’s also a proprietary Surface Connect port.

There are multiple Surface Pro 8 configurations, but pricing starts at $1,099 for a quad-core Intel Core i5 version with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD and tops out at $2,599 for a quad-core Intel Core i7 model with 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. Those prices are also the base models of the lower-end and higher-end configurations, too, so additional add-ons and accessories and further increase the price.

Other features include a 3.5mm audio port, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, 2W Dolby Atmos-certified speakers, a 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p video and a 10MP rear-facing camera with 4K video. Microsoft claims up to 16 hours of battery life during ‘typical device usage.’

You can find out more about the Surface Pro 8 and try out the configurator on Microsoft’s website.

Surface Laptop Studio

The next computing product Microsoft announced is the Surface Laptop Studio, a successor to its Surface Book lineup that combines the form factor of a laptop with the flexibility of a tablet. What does that mean? Well, for Microsoft, that means putting a hinge in the center of the display so you can fold the screen over the keyboard to use in what Microsoft calls ‘Studio Mode.’

Like the Surface Pro 8, one of the biggest differences between the Surface Laptop Studio and its predecessors is its 14.4" PixelSense Flow Display with a 2400 x 1600 pixel resolution. It also carries over the same 120Hz refresh rate and Dolby Vision support from the Surface Pro 8.

Behind the display is what Microsoft is calling the Dynamic Woven Hinge, which enables the computer to work in three different form factors: laptop, stage and studio. Laptop mode, as you might’ve guessed, is when the computer is laid out like your average laptop with the screen attached to the keyboard at the bottom. Stage mode is a hybrid configuration where you can tilt the screen forward from the hinge and have it sit atop of the keyboard with only the touchpad showing. Lastly, Studio mode is when the screen is entirely folded down on top of the bottom half of the computer to effectively turn it into a tablet.

The Surface Laptop Studio features the same I/O options as the Surface Pro 8, inlcuding Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 support.

Configurations start at $1,599 for a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you jump up to the quad-core i7 configurations, which start at $2,099, you’ll get NVidia’s RTX 3050 Ti GPU (4GB of VRAM) for additional graphics processing power, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Pre-orders are available now and the first units are set to ship on October 5, 2021.

You can find out more and test out different configurations on Microsoft’s website.

Surface Duo 2

The last major announcement during Microsoft’s event was the Surface Duo 2, its second iteration of its dual-screen folding Android smartphone. On the outside, the Surface Duo 2 remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, but inside Microsoft has improved a number of key components to make it a more well-rounded device.

At the heart of the device is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chipset, which is a welcomed improvement from the 855 in the previous version, but still short of the Snapdragon 888+ chipsets we expect to see in the next generation of flagship Android devices. In addition to improved performance, this chipset offers 5G connectivity.

The dual AMOLED PixelSense Fusion Displays open up to 8.3" (diagonally) and offer a combined resolution of 2688 x 1892 pixels (401 PPI). Microsoft says the 90Hz displays cover 100% of sRGB and DCI-P3 color spaces and top out at 800 nits max brightness. Both displays are covered by Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.

Microsoft has also dramatically improved the camera array onboard compared to the original Surface Duo, giving the Surface Duo 2 a triple-camera array. This trifecta includes a 16MP F2.2 ultrawide camera, a 12MP F1.7 wide camera with optical image stabilization and a 12MP F2.4 telephoto camera with optical image stabilization.

Other hardware updates include the addition of NFC and support for Microsoft’s lineup of Surface Pens.

The Surface Duo 2 starts at $1,499 for the base model, which includes 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. You can find out more about the Surface Duo 2 and pre-order one on Microsoft’s website.


Update (Wednesday September 22, 2021): A previous version of this article stated the USB-C ports could not be used for charging the Surface computers. That is incorrect and has been fixed.

Video: Using wet-plate collodion photography process for high-end food photography

Photographer Markus Hofstaetter works with the wet-plate collodion process. While this process is typically seen with portraiture — and Hofstaetter does that, too — he recently teamed up with food photographer and chef Hans Gerlach to use the wet-plate process for food photography. The results are excellent.

In a blog post, Hofstaetter discussed how he met with Gerlach and set up his equipment for food photography. Hofstaetter bought a 150kg Cambo studio stand earlier this year and then found a tray for it on eBay. Gerlach was the eBay seller, and the two got to talking, deciding they’d like to work together on a project. Gerlach brought food over, and they grabbed some plants from Hofstaetter’s garden.

It’s unusual to see monochromatic food photography. After all, the vibrant colors of the food are often part of the overall composition. Wet-plate collodion photography is monochromatic. Further, the process only sees blue light, making it different from traditional black and white film photography and much different from digital photography. The process makes red colors appear black and blue colors appear white, with other colors falling somewhere along that spectrum. It impacts how Hofstaetter and Gerlach had to think about the food and how the plates were organized.

Another consideration is perspective. Wet-plate cameras can be quite large, making them difficult to work with in small spaces or to shoot from an overhead view. Hofstaetter opted for a 13 x 18cm format Mentor camera and a 250mm Zeiss Tessar lens that can be stopped down to F16 without requiring a lot of light. Speaking of light, two 9000ws Hensel generators were used for lighting the scene.

Image credit: Markus Hofstaetter

During the shoot, there were some difficulties. A few plates weren’t coming out as expected, and Hofstaetter had to figure out what was going wrong. Was it the fixer, developer or something else? It turns out it was the silver nitrate bath, so he mixed up a new solution. There were also issues with the plate holder, resulting in scratched plates. Hofstaetter made on-the-fly modifications to solve the problem.

He also worked with some larger 18 x 24cm plates, as well, paired with a 150-year-old Dallmeyer 2b Petzval lens. The smaller plates were scanned at 200MP, and the larger plates were scanned at 300MP. You can see more photos here. It’s incredible how detailed images shot with such an old lens can be.

Image credit: Markus Hofstaetter

To learn more about the equipment Hofstaetter uses for wet-plate photography, check out his shopping list. If you’d like to view more of Hofstaetter’s work, we’ve covered his photography before:

Video: Shooting wet plate portraits with affordable large format camera equipment

Video: Photographer uses a 4x5 large format camera and expired film for wildlife photography

This crazy fire-and-water wedding portrait was shot in a single exposure

Behind the scenes: Capturing creepy Halloween wet plate portraits

Shooting wet plate collodion double exposures…handheld


(Images used with permission from Markus Hofstaetter)

All the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro camera upgrades: Explained

Last week Apple announced its iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro lineup, which incorporate major advancements to its camera technology.

While we're waiting to get our hands on the devices, we wanted to break down the improvements the new models bring compared to the previous generation. But here's the gist of it: Apple managed to cram the larger sensor and optics seen in last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max into the much smaller 13 Mini this year, all the way down to the sensor shift stabilization technology. So when it comes to this year's iPhone cameras, think 'bigger'.


Jump to:

iPhone 13 | iPhone 13 Pro | Photographic Styles | Video | Display | HDR


iPhone 13 vs. 12

Diagonally arranged camera array on the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini. A diagonal arrangement ensures that both horizontal and vertical scene detail produce non-zero disparity in both portrait and landscape orientations, to aid in depth-map generation in Portrait Mode.

Last year's iPhone 12 models didn't see any step-up in sensor size from the 11 models until you got to the 12 Pro Max model. Sensor size, along with lens' maximum aperture, is the largest determinant of image quality, since dynamic range and low light performance are intimately linked to how much scene light you capture.

This year, there are significant upgrades to sensor sizes, starting with Apple bringing the largest sensor in its largest phone from last year down into its smallest new phone, the iPhone 13 Mini. Below we break down all the technical specs of the iPhone 13 (and 13 Mini, which shares identical specs) vs. the iPhone 12 (and 12 Mini) from last year:

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13

Wide

26mm equiv.
F1.6

1.7µm 35.2mm2
(1/1.9")
F8.2 Sensor-shift Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12

Wide

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.4µm 23.9mm2
(1/2.55")
F9.9 Optical Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 13/12

Ultra Wide

13mm equiv
F2.4
1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F20.2 None Fixed focus
The iPhone 13's 1/1.9" wide (main) sensor captures 47% more light than the 1/2.55" sensor in the iPhone 12, thanks to the extra 11.3mm2 of surface area on the chip. The above specs are equivalent for the base and mini models.

Like last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 13 and 13 Mini models capture ~47% more light than the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, thanks to the 47% larger sensor surface area resulting from the 1.7µm pixels (up from 1.4µm). The 13 and 13 Mini models also gain the sensor-shift image stabilization from the 12 Pro Max. This should enable longer exposures for low light photos (or fewer blurry ones, anyway), and might also help capture more steady video footage. To get a sense for the improved low light ability this year's iPhone 13 will bring over last year's 12 and 12 Pro models, have a look at this 30s Night Mode shot of the starry sky, comparing the 12 Pro Max to the 12 Pro, below. The ultra-wide camera remains the same.

iPhone 12 Pro Max (full-size JPEG) | iPhone 12 Pro (full-size JPEG)

The display has been improved on the 13 and 13 Mini as well, particularly important when it comes to viewing the HDR stills and Dolby Vision HDR video the iPhones shoot (no, not that HDR, this HDR). It's 28% brighter and can achieve 800 nits for standard (SDR) content, maxing out at 1200 nits for HDR stills and video (a spec that was previously reserved only for the Pro models). These maximum brightness levels can be sustained for longer periods of time due to increased display efficiency. A ceramic shield on top of the display adds durability, as well.

iPhone 13 Pro / Max vs. 12 Pro / Max

This year, if you want the best camera, you no longer have to choose the bigger Pro Max model - both the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max feature the same sensors, optics, stabilization and features. The three cameras in the Pro models span a 6x optical focal length range:

Compared to the base 13 and 13 Mini models, the Pro models gain the following:

  • Larger main camera sensor with 1.9µm pixels and wider F1.5 aperture
  • 77mm equivalent F2.8 '3x' telephoto camera with PDAF and OIS
  • Upgraded ultra-wide with a wider F1.8 lens for better low light performance, and AF for Macro photography

Let's take a closer look at the main 'wide' camera, and how it compares to last year's iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max models:

Wide (main) cameras:

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

26mm equiv.
F1.5

1.9µm 44mm2
(1/1.65")
F6.8 Sensor-shift

Optical
Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12 Pro

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.4µm 23.9mm2
(1/2.55")
F9.9 Optical Dual-pixel AF

iPhone 12 Pro Max

26mm equiv.
F1.6
1.7µm 35.2mm2
(1/1.9")
F8.2 Sensor-shift Dual-pixel AF

The 1.9µm pixel pitch of the 13 Pro and Pro Max 1/1.65"-type* main camera sensor allows it to achieve a 44mm2 surface area, which gathers 84% more light than last year's 1/2.55"-type sensor in the 12 Pro, and 25% more light than the 1/1.9"-type sensor in last year's 12 Pro Max and this year's 13 and 13 Mini models. The lens has been upgraded from an F1.6 to a wider F1.5 aperture, bringing in 14% more light.

That makes the sensor and lens combination F6.8 equivalent (read our article on equivalence), so you can achieve some background blur and subject separation optically, without of Portrait Mode. F6.8 equivalent also puts the iPhone 13 Pro's main camera only roughly 2.5 EV short of the light gathering capability of a full-frame camera with an F2.8 lens attached, assuming parity in sensor efficiency, microlens design and light gathering ability, etc. In reality that's probably an unrealistic assumption, so the difference is likely greater, but this is still remarkable; especially once you consider the extra light the smartphone will capture thanks to its use of multi-frame tile-based image fusion (a simplistic version of which is described here).

This is where smartphones capture multiple images in a sequence and align them intelligently to cope with moving elements in the scene: essentially making up temporally for what they lack in spatial light capture (sensor size).

This year's Pro models capture roughly 100% and 40% more light in the dark compared to last year's Pro and Pro Max, respectively

So, bigger sensors and brighter apertures are better, but what does all this mean compared to the previous generation models? You can expect the iPhone 13 Pro to show at least a 1 EV improvement in low light performance compared to last year's 12 Pro, and a 0.5 EV improvement compared to last year's 12 Pro Max and this year's 13 and 13 Mini models. That's because the combination of the larger sensor and brighter lens on the 13 Pro main camera lets in roughly 100% and ~40% more light than the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max / 13 main cameras, respectively. Video quality, which doesn't benefit from quite as much multi-frame fusion as stills (though, at least two frames of varying exposure are combined per frame), will particularly see a notable improvement in quality.

Furthermore, the combination of sensor-shift and optical lens stabilization this year, compared to either optical or sensor-shift stabilization in last year's models, should allow for longer hand-held exposures, further improving Night Mode. When held steady enough (on a tripod), last year's Pro models shot 30s exposures of 10 frames, 3s each; this year's Pro models with combination IS are capable of shooting 3 frames, 10s each in Night Mode, presumably to reduce the impact of read noise. It's possible this combination may also benefit video stabilization.

Ultra wide cameras:

Last year's iPhone 12 Pro models were capable of some stunning results with the ultra-wide module, thanks to the availability of Night Mode and ProRaw. (1s night mode)

The ultra-wide cameras have also been upgraded, now with a brighter F1.8 aperture (compared to F2.4 on last year's models), and with phase-detect autofocus. That makes the ultra-wide camera now F15.1 full-frame equivalent, up from F20.2 on last year's models. That amounts to 78% (0.83 EV) more light, a big helping hand for that small 1/3.4"-type sensor.

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area Equiv. Aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

13mm equiv.
F1.8

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F15.1 None Sparse PDAF

iPhone 12 / Pro / Max

13mm equiv.
F2.4
1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F20.2 None Fixed focus

The addition of autofocus allows the ultra-wide to focus down to 2 cm for some pretty compelling macro photography, judging from the samples Apple shared:

Apple also claims a 'faster sensor', which we interpret as 'faster readout speed'. Faster read-out speeds offer a number of benefits, ranging from reduced rolling shutter artifacts and banding under artificial lighting. Additionally, faster sensor readout can theoretically improve electronic image stabilization in video, by increasing the interval between when a frame of video has been read out and the next one needs to be acquired. But we have no way of knowing yet if the 13 Pro models realize this benefit.

Telephoto cameras:

The telephoto camera has been upgraded in a couple of ways: first, at 77mm equivalent it's now 3x that of the wide camera's 26mm equivalent field-of-view, up from the 2.5x 65mm equiv. module on last year's 12 Pro Max, or the 2.0x 52mm equiv. module on the 12 Pro. That gives you more reach, and more potential for subject isolation. With that increase in 'zoom' though comes a decrease in light gathering ability: the F2.0 and F2.2 apertures on last year's Pro and Pro Max models, respectively, are replaced with an F2.8 aperture, which turns out to be roughly F23.8 equivalent in full-frame terms.

So don't expect much subject-background separation outside of Portrait Mode. None of this is too surprising: as focal length increases, the physical size of the aperture must increase to maintain the same F-number, and that means, you guessed it, bigger optics. There's only so much room inside these tiny camera modules.

Lens Pixel Pitch Sensor Area (pixel pitch) Equivalent aperture Stabilization Focus

iPhone 13 Pro / Max

77mm equiv.

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F23.8 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.8

iPhone 12 Pro Max

65mm equiv. 1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F18.7 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.2

iPhone 12 Pro

52mm equiv.

1.0µm 12.2mm2
(1/3.4")
F17.4 Optical (OIS) Sparse PDAF

F2.0

The second, arguably more exciting improvement to the telephoto module is the availability of Night Mode. Last year, iPhone 12 brought Night Mode to the ultra-wide camera, but this year, it's finally available on all three cameras (if you thought you were getting Night Mode on the telephoto module previously, it was only because light levels had dropped so low that the iPhone was switching to the 1x module and cropping in).

This is a welcome addition (Google's Pixel 4, for example, enjoyed it on its 48mm equiv. module back in 2019) which should bring a dramatic improvement to low light photos shot with the telephoto module, which are otherwise hampered by the small sensor and the (relatively) narrow aperture.

Photographic Styles

iPhone photos have a look. It changes year to year, but iPhone photos tend to be consistently well exposed with relatively mild contrast (this contrast is enhanced, though, when viewed in HDR on iPhone's OLED displays). Colors are pleasing without appearing overdone, skew a bit more warm than cool, with deep blue cyan-ish skies, skin tones that one would rarely describe as dull and, starting with the iPhone 11, with a slight greenish tint to the overall white balance. Quite different from the saturated output of Samsung devices, or the cool, contrasty look of some of Google's Pixel phones.

If you've often found yourself editing your iPhone photos to add a bit of tint, perhaps some punch to your photos - especially if you find yourself doing so repeatedly - you'll appreciate 'Photographic Styles', a way to personalize your iPhone camera to your own tastes. It essentially allows you to dial in your individual preferences and have them applied to all the images you shoot. But it goes deeper than that.

A representation of Apple's multi-frame image processing pipeline, with disparate steps in the process identified. Pay particular attention to the 'semantic rendering' mask, which allows Apple to apply various tone operations selectively to various elements of the scene - such as skies and faces - disparately.

This isn't a simple filter being applied after you've shot your photo. Instead, it's integrated into the advanced multi-frame image processing pipeline, applying local edits at the appropriate stages so that - as we understand it - edits meant to cool the overall image don't inadvertently cool skin tones, or vice versa. And since it's being applied directly to the multi-frame ISP, it's all being done in real-time as the photo is rendered, so you can preview the effect as you're shooting.

You start by choosing from the following default presets to change the overall look of your photo: Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm and Cool. You can then tweak each one of these to your own liking with individual controls over tone and warmth.

Rich Contrast (Default)

Vibrant (Default)

Vibrant Warm (Edited)

Vibrant Warm (Edited)

According to Apple's Rebecca Pujols, each mode uses Apple's semantic understanding - its discrete knowledge of various portions of the photo like skies vs. faces - to apply appropriate local adjustments, whilst preserving skin tones. We're not sure if that means that skin tones are preserved entirely no matter the preset, or whether skin tones are treated differently based on the individual adjustment or parameter, but we'll be digging into this once we've received samples of the phones. We do know that currently, Photographic Styles is incompatible with Apple ProRaw.

Video

In the video department, Apple has made a big play by introducing Cinematic Mode, which is actually a number of things. It's essentially a 'Video Portrait Mode' and a way to change focus (and depth-of-field effect) after-the-fact, something we've dug into deeper in our article here. We think it could revolutionize video for the consumer, and in a few generations perhaps even for a budding cinematographer. See the video below for a demonstration from Apple, and here's a music video by an independent producer (NSFW).

Apple has said that ProRes video will also be made available in a future update to the 13 Pro and Pro Max, at up to 1080/30p with the 128GB storage option and up to 4K/30p with the 256GB to 1TB storage options.

Display

The display on the 13 Pro models has also been improved. First, efficiency improvements allow the display to attain 1000 nits peak brightness in outdoor environments, up from 800 nits last year. We can't stress how useful this is for camera use in bright, outdoor environments. Many Android devices with highly rated screens (capable of 1000 nits in HDR mode, for example) become quite difficult to use outdoors when the bright sunlight overwhelms the phone's display.

Furthermore, new to the iPhone 13 Pro models is Pro Motion, which allows the display to slow down or speed up the refresh rate as necessary, depending on what's going on, on the screen. Scrolling slowly? The display will slow down to 10 Hz. Watching high frame rate video or scrolling through your photos library quickly? The display will speed up to 120Hz. Want your cinematic look preserved at 24p without 3:2 pulldown? Not a problem. The ability to slow the display down to 10Hz conserves battery life, and 120Hz is of course no problem for the instantaneous response of the OLED technology driving the display.

While the non-Pro models don't feature Pro Motion technology, and aren't quite as bright, they're just as competitive in the resolution department, with the 13 having the same exact size and resolution as the 13 Pro (6.1", 2532 x 1170, 460 ppi), the 13 Mini having an actual higher pixel density (476 ppi, 5.4", 2340 x 1080), and finally the 13 Pro Max featuring the largest screen (6.7", 2778 x 1284, 458 ppi).

HDR

OLED displays, like those on recent iPhones, are capable of brighter whites and darker blacks than older displays. On these displays, the shadow region would be brighter and able to express more contrast, while the sky would be brighter still and more distinct from midtones, just as it would be in the real world. However, it's impossible to convey the capabilities in a JPEG image like the one above, viewed on an SDR display, so the difference you see here - between what this photo would look like on a typical smartphone vs. an iPhone - is far more dramatic in reality.

We'll also take a moment here to point out that the display, in combination with Apple's decision with the iPhone X to enable what we term 'HDR display' or 'HDR playback' of still images (and video, for that matter), is what sets Apple iPhone devices apart from its competition. While a detailed explanation is beyond the scope of this article, HDR playback allows stills and video to have far more output dynamic range - to appear less flat - than standard dynamic range (SDR) output (see above).

Brights appear much brighter than midtones, and both midtones and highlights appear far brighter than shadows, which can be rendered deep and dark, yet still well defined and visible. That means tonal relationships between objects in the real world are better preserved - reflections of sunlight on a lake appear much brighter than the surrounding water as they do in reality (which won't be the case when you view this image on your computer monitor). And thanks to Apple's use of the wide P3 color space, photos can contain brighter and more saturated tones.

The iPhone 12 lineup saw some dramatic improvements to HDR playback, with nearly all still images enjoying the benefit of the increased output dynamic range (with some caveats), and video - which has enjoyed HDR capture for some time now - finally getting a proper HDR output format in the form of Dolby Vision for increased output or displayed dynamic range. We look forward to assessing further improvements to Apple's HDR rendering of its stills and videos in the future.

We hope that gives you a comprehensive look at what to expect from Apple's new devices. What would you like us to investigate and take deeper dives into? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


*The inch-type measurement for sensor size is arguably archaic at this time, and made more sense when back when there were only a limited set of available sensor sizes. Today, we continue to see various new sensor sizes, particularly in smartphones, so some of the inch-types we've indicated here are only approximations and in some cases, unheard of (e.g. 1/1.65"-type). In such cases, we've included them only for comparison reasons.

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