Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rise, Singapore' s Casual Dining Restaurant | Marina Bay Sands

Rise, Singapore' s Casual Dining Restaurant | Marina Bay Sands

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leica redesigns 35mm f/1.4 lens for M series

Leica has announced a revised version of the Summilux-M 35mm f1.4 ASPH lens for its M series of rangefinder cameras. It promises improved close distance performance through the use of a floating focus design, in which the lenses behind the aperture change position relative to the front group on focusing. The lens also comes with a compact rectangular screw-mount hood. It will be available in July 2010 at authorized Leica dealers for a recommended price of $4,995/£3,375. 

Sony’s NEX Mirrorless Cameras Are the Smallest in the World

nex-5-blksel1855-front-flash-up-onBy Charlie Sorrel | May 11, 2010  | 8:18 am 

Sony has at last made good on its promise of mirrorless, interchangeable-lens compact cameras. We saw some mock-ups of the slab-like cameras back in February, and now Sony’s answer to the Micro Four Thirds and Samsung’s NX1 is here.

First, the NEX-3 and NEX-5 are small. Sony says that these cameras are the “world’s smallest, lightest interchangeable-lens cameras,” and they might be right: Both measure about 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches and weigh about half a pound (sans lens), making them slightly more trim than the Panasonic GF1 (4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 inches). Their diminutive sizes makes the bodies look rather comical when the larger lenses are affixed.

Sony is aiming at compact-camera owners who want to upgrade, and the pocket-sized design is ideal for this. The cameras contain Sony’s Exmor APS-C sized sensor, the same size that you find in most DSLRs.

The differences between the two models are small. The NEX-3 has 720p video and the NEX-5 1080i. The NEX-5 has a somewhat smaller, magnesium body, and an extra twist button on the top plate. Otherwise, the specs are the same.

Sony seems to have concentrated on making a solid, fairly gimmick-free offering. The 14.6-MP sensor is backlit (the image-sensing circuitry is on the front rather than the back of the chip) for good low-light performance (up to ISO 12,800). The LCD is a 3-inch 900,000-pixel monster, and the processor is Sony’s Bionz (Bionic Fonz) chip found in its DSLRs.

Amazingly for such small cameras, the LCDs flip out and twist. Because of the tiny bodies, neither camera has a built-in flash, but you do get one in the box which is powered by the camera’s own battery. There is no standard hot-shoe for a proper flash, however (typical Sony nonsense).

Sony has created a new lens mount for the NEX-series, called the E-mount. You can still use many A-mount Alpha lenses with an adapter, and also older lenses if you’re willing to focus manually.
And there are some nice, if obvious, lenses. Made from metal, not plastic, you can choose from a 16mm (24mm equivalent) ƒ2.8 pancake, an 18-to-55mm ƒ3.5-to-5.6 stabilized zoom and an 18-to-200mm ƒ3.5-to-6.3 stabilized zoom (to be released later). These are fine, but lack the great wide-open maximum aperture of Panasonic and Olympus’ pancakes, at ƒ1.7 and ƒ1.8 respectively.
There are a few software gimmicks. Sony’s Sweep Panorama makes the cut. You hold down the shutter and swoosh the camera across the scene before you. The images are then stitched in camera. It works pretty well.

Auto-HDR is also in. This snaps a few pictures at different exposures and combines them to give better detail in both highlights and shadows.

With these cameras success will come down to handling. Those wanting to move up from a compact get some rather nifty software, with an interface that relies on soft-buttons on the back which change function depending on context.

You can, for instance, press them and get a live preview of how the aperture will affect depth of field. The lack of manual control dial and buttons may put off those who are used to SLR-style controls, and to you we say take a look at the Micro Four Thirds cameras already out there.

If the handling is good, though, it looks like Sony might have struck just the right balance among size, convenience and power. Not bad. You can even use a proper SD card in them (although Memory Sticks work too).

Available this summer. The NX-3 will be $550 with pancake lens, $600 with 18-55mm zoom; the NX-5 $650 with pancake, $700 with zoom.