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Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM review – hidden depths
4:00 pm | February 29, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM is the only "official" macro lens in the Canon RF lens lineup. The brand does make some other macro-enabled primes, including the RF 24mm, RF 35mm and RF 85mm f/2 lenses, but these achieve a maximum magnification ratio of 0.5x, or half life size; so while this might be plenty close enough for many users, they're not true 1:1 macro lenses.

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM doesn’t stop at life size reproduction, however; it goes to a full 1.4x magnification. That means you can fill the frame with an object just 26mm wide. And that isn't its only interesting feature.

Half way along the barrel is an intriguing "SA", or Spherical Aberration, control ring. This shifts optical elements within the lens to adjust the appearance of bokeh, both in front of and behind your main subject, and can also introduce a soft-focus effect.

The SA (Spherical Aberration) adjustment is unlocked via a switch on the underside of the lens. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

It isn't immediately obvious how you're supposed to use this control, since it’s locked at its center position. In fact, there’s a switch on the underside of the lens to unlock it, which is easily missed. This is one lens where it's actually a good idea to read the manual!

This bokeh control is aimed more at portraiture and longer shooting distances; indeed, Canon does seem keen to push this as a "portrait" lens as well as a macro lens. It’s an interesting idea, but then it leaves you wondering whether the Canon RF 85mm f/2 Macro IS STM might be better, being a stop faster and far cheaper, too. You might say the 100mm is a macro lens first and portrait lens second, while the 85mm is the other way around.

I only had the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM for a short time, so I concentrated on its macro capabilities.

These are pretty formidable. It’s hard to make any sensible comments about edge sharpness wide-open with close-ups because it’s near-impossible to find a subject flat enough to test it on – and to get it perfectly perpendicular to the camera. Photographing a framed vintage "butterfly wing" picture reveals another macro photography issue: objects with layers of paint and textures, especially those under glass that may have dust or fibers on its surface, are actually three-dimensional.

Here's one of my test subjects, a very old "butterfly wing" picture just over 2-inches across. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This is a magnified section close to the Canon RF 100's 1.4x maximum. At this magnification, even at an aperture of f/8, its hard to keep all the strata of this object in focus. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This was taken at f/2.8, so the depth of field is extremely shallow – but this can suit many subjects. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

At f/16, much more of this narcissus is sharp; but if you want objects with depth to be properly sharp from front to back, you'll need to resort to focus stacking. Small apertures alone won't do it. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The engraving on this old cigarette case, and all the tiny blemishes and scratches around it, are resolved extremely crisply – although the lens was so close to the case at this point that I had to shoot at a slight angle to avoid shadows and reflections from the lens in the polished metal. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Only the most ambitious, bokeh-loving macro fan would want to shoot wide open at these distances. You’re more likely to want to shoot at f/11-f/22, and the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM produced crystal-clear detail that was difficult to fault.

However, while you might think that a 100mm lens should offer plenty of working distance between yourself and your subject, that isn't the case here. At its closest shooting distances, the front of this lens is close enough to your subject to cast a shadow or give unwanted reflection on shiny surfaces. A skilled macro shooter could fix this easily enough with good lighting and choice of angles, but it was still a bit unexpected. 

This lens is weather-sealed and has a fluorine-coated front element, so you won't have to worry too much about wet outdoor conditions. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

If you shoot wide open at f/2.8 then you can achieve good subject separation and background blur – although, with this subject we could have got just as close with one of Canon's regular "macro" primes. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

You can also use this lens outdoors on a range of subjects, where its weatherproofed design and fluorine-coated front element should shrug off rain and dew. The lens also has image stabilization built in – although, as Canon admits, the effectiveness diminishes the closer you focus. 

This isn't necessarily a fault with the stabilization, but an issue with handheld macro photography. If you can’t keep the camera perfectly steady, even the tiniest fore-and-aft "drift" will throw your subject out of focus between half-pressing and fully pressing the shutter release (switching to Servo AF mode can be an effective solution!).

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM’s Dual Nano USM autofocus seemed pretty quick at normal shooting distances, doing a reasonable job of tracking the eyes of our pet Dachshund. However, on occasion it got a bit lost switching to ultra-close subjects. It has a focus limiter to help with this, and you can also use manual focus to get it in the right ballpark first. In fact, manual focus works especially well here. The focus ring is smooth and precise, and there’s a real focus "snap" in the viewfinder to show you when the focus is correct. 

Canon says this lens has suppressed focus breathing, which should be especially useful for filming where you want to use focus pulls.

The Dual Nano ISM autofocus kept up pretty well with our canine subject, and the combination of a long focal length and f/2.8 aperture produced good background blur and separation. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This is a nice lens to use, if rather long. The SA control seems a slightly odd choice for macro work; I guess it's designed more for portraits and larger product shots. It’s good to have a single lens that can do a few jobs, so it’s easy to see how the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM could create a kind of "product" lens category of its own.

Best of all, it isn't hugely expensive for an own-brand macro lens, especially one that can focus closer than rivals and has IS built in.

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM Price and release date

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM was announced in April 2021 and is now widely available. It typically costs around $1,099 in the US and £1,369 in the UK. However, if you don’t mind manual focus – and you’re not interested in the SA bokeh control – then you can get the Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO lens for around half that, and with even higher 2x magnification.

Should I buy the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM?

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How I tested the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

I tried out the RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM in a variety of situations to test its performance, handling and image quality. One session was spent shooting a family pet to see how well the Nano USM autofocus could keep up with my EOS R8’s excellent AI subject tracking, while another was spent out on the coast, shooting a variety of subjects from driftwood to sea spurge.

I also spent some time testing this lens with typical close-up subjects including a challenging "butterfly wing" picture, some just-open narcissi, and the engravings on a vintage WW1 cigarette case. These were taken using a tripod, the 12-second timer on the camera, and electronic shutter mode.

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod review
2:30 pm | February 28, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

For some photographers, the most lightweight travel tripods are the only option when it comes to traveling, and the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is one of the lighter and more compact options available. At just 2.75lbs / 1.25kg and with a folded length of 16.1in / 41cm, it’s an extremely portable travel tripod that you can comfortably carry over long periods, barely noticing it's there.

The Befree Advanced costs $319 / £279 / AU$555 which is an attractive price for such a compact and lightweight tripod when compared to some alternatives, but you can get a much more fully featured tripod, if slightly heavier, for a similar price or less, such as the 3LT Brian 2.0 Travel Tripod. 

Going heavier is arguably worthwhile for the additional functionality. For example, the 3LT offering has a built-in monopod and a taller maximum height. However, if weight is your main concern, you’ll struggle to find a better Befree Advanced alternative at this price, and you can find deals on it for less than the list price mentioned above (see below).

Weight versus features is a typical quandary when buying a travel tripod; you often have to make concessions in one area to be able to take advantage of the benefits in another. In this case, I can’t get away from the cost versus features aspect of the tripod – you can get so much more for your money with competitor models.

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod  carry bag

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The Befree Advanced is advertised as a tripod for advanced hobbyists and has a maximum height of 59in / 150cm alongside a maximum payload of 19.8lbs / 9kg, and packs down to 16.1in / 41cm. However, the Befree Advanced provides adequate support for professionals because the fairly narrow four section legs are surprisingly rigid.

In terms of design and build quality, you can’t fault the Befree Advanced because it looks, feels and performs much more smoothly than Manfrotto’s budget travel tripods, so there’s an immediately obvious advancement here. The leg twist locks are better made and operate more positively, while the compact ball head locks much more firmly with no slippage which is exactly what you’d hope for at this price point.

The 494 aluminium center ball head is robust, with great control knobs despite its compact size and light weight. However, it's something of an oddity. While it uses the Manfrotto 200PL-PRO plate which is RC2 and Arca-swiss compatible, the ball head isn’t compatible with L brackets for quickly and easily allowing photographers to switch between portrait and landscape format shooting while enjoying full movement of the ball head.

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Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod  folded on ground

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod leg lock

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod leg twist lock

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod  at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

This begs the question, why even bother with a plate like this because it’s full of promise yet fails to deliver? Not to mention, it could be confusing when looking at the specs because if you use an L bracket, the natural assumption would be that it’s compatible with the tripod head. Of course, this won’t be of concern to many photographers who don’t use L brackets, but it’s something you need to know before considering the Befree Advanced.

In use, the Befree Advanced is quick and easy to set up, and with the exception of the of the leg lock buttons that unlock the leg angles and feel a little cheap for the price of the tripod, nothing else can be criticized in terms of quality. There’s also an accessory mount for screwing in accessory arms to hold lighting, tablets and anything else you need to support close to the camera, and if you need to shoot closer to the ground than 16.1in / 41cm minimum, the center column can be inserted into the legs upside down.

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod  ball head

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Beyond this, the Befree Advanced is a standard travel tripod with no other bells or whistles; it does what it says on the tin and it does it well; it’s undoubtedly a tripod for those who only require simple features. The accessory mount is nice to have and useful if you need it, while the average maximum height of 59in / 150cm is ideal for travel, landscape and city shooting despite not being the greatest maximum height available.

The Befree Advanced is an attractive travel tripod despite its overall simplicity and the Arca Swiss tripod plate quirk it suffers from. It’s certainly not a perfect package, but where it excels is in its compact size and light weight. Plus, in some cases, equally lightweight options are shorter and not quite as sturdy. In a nutshell, if you need a decent lightweight travel tripod, this remains an option worth considering despite one or two shortcomings.

Should I buy the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod? 

Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod  at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

The Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod was tested over a period of time using several different camera and lens combinations to test how the tripod stood up to standard use in travel-oriented scenarios. Cameras used included a premium compact, an APS-C mirrorless camera and a full-frame mirrorless camera. The tripod was also carried around with other photographic kit in my f-stop backpack to evaluate performance over longer shoots such as landscapes.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering photographic accessories such as tripods for many years. As a professional photographer I frequently use a range of accessories to enhance my photography and bring my working experience of using these to reviews where I can consider how effective photographic accessories are from both a professional and enthusiast point of view.

First reviewed February 2024

Peak Design Travel Tripod review – triumphant unique design
6:30 pm | February 24, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: June 2019
• Still available new, and still unique
• Launch price: $599 / £559 / AU$1,170
• Official price now: $599 / £559 / AU$1,170 (carbon fiber)

Update: February 2024. We first looked at the Peak Design Travel tripod during a hands-on review in 2019, and many years later there's still no design quite like it, which is a little surprising given how considered and successful the design concept has been delivered to create a super-compact tripod for your travels and one of the best travel tripods period. It remains available from retailers with a largely similar list price that goes all the way back to launch. 

Two-minute review

A tripod’s a tripod – three legs and a head to secure a camera – pretty simple really. So how do you improve on a tried and tested design? The Peak Design Travel Tripod undoubtedly follows this fundamental construction, but four years of research and development has delivered a unique travel tripod as well as being incredibly compact and lightweight; its folded footprint when compared to similar-sized travel tripods, is about half in terms of diameter.

The Peak Design’s legs fold in neatly thanks to their shape, which drastically reduces the profile of the tripod when folded making the diameter similar to that of a can of soda; it may not sound exciting, but it’s impressive and makes the Peak Design a highly portable travel tripod if you’re willing to pay the premium price the tripod commands.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is available in two flavors with the carbon fibre leg option costing $600 / £560 / AU$1170, and the aluminum alternative coming in at a slightly more modest $380 / £350 / AU$670. But that’s still a high price for an aluminum travel tripod. To be fair, it certainly isn’t cheap, but the overall design is what you’re paying for and as well as looking pretty smart and, indeed unique, the Peak Design provides impressive stability despite the legs being made up of five sections.

Peak Design Travel Tripod carry bag

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Cost aside, the main difference between the carbon fibre and aluminum options is weight. The former comes in at just 2.81lbs / 1.27kg, while the latter is slightly heavier at 3.44lbs / 1.56kg. The aluminum model is still lightweight despite the legs being made of heavier material, so this remains an option worth considering if you can’t afford the carbon fiber version. All other aspects of the tripods are the same, including the folded length of 15.4in / 39.1cm with a 3.1in / 7.9cm diameter.

With such a lightweight and compact folded size, you may be thinking that this tripod is short and flimsy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These were my initial expectations, but I was hugely impressed with the overall sturdiness and the ability to shoot low to the ground with the center column inserted upside down into the legs or as high as 60in / 152.4cm with the center column fully extended. The center column also offers a hook for adding weight and there’s an integrated phone mount that stows away in the bottom of the center column above the bag hook for adding weight to the tripod to increase stability when required.

This is a tripod that’s intended for professional use and offers a maximum payload of 20lbs / 9.1kg, so it can handle a wide variety of camera and lens combinations. With this, you could get away with using some long telephoto lenses for wildlife photography, and the head can support the weight, but the design of the head wouldn’t provide the most efficient and comfortable shooting experience for this type of photography. Plus, the head isn’t interchangeable so you couldn’t swap it out for a gimbal head instead.

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Peak Design Travel Tripod folded on the ground

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Peak Design Travel Tripod main leg locks

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Peak Design Travel Tripod clip type leg lock

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Peak Design Travel Tripod at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Ultimately, this is no big deal because it’s clearly not a tripod that’s designed for this type of photography, but something to bear in mind if this would be an intended use. The head itself is low profile, which helps to reduce the overall bulkiness of the tripod and employs a novel design that takes getting used to if you’ve only experienced what you might call standard tripod heads in the past.

The head itself fulfils the clear desire to create something that’s compact and in keeping with the overall design of the tripod, but being a fixed head means that you have to be 100% sure that it’s something that you can get on with. What makes it different is that despite being a ball head, is that it provides two locking/adjustment rings; one for the ball mechanism and another for the tripod plate. Once you get used to which is which and you’ve used them a few times they do become intuitive, but they are undoubtedly a break from the norm.

Peak Design Travel Tripod low profile ball head

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The tripod plate uses the Arca Swiss design so it’s compatible with L brackets, which is great. And even if you don’t use an L bracket, the head and plate can be set vertically to the side for portrait format shooting with the notches of the socket providing additional stability. This is a clever design that mirrors that of the tripod as a whole.

When it comes to operation, the Peak Design is quick and easy to set up. And when I say quick, I really do mean quick because it simply needs to be extended rather than unfolded and then extended like many travel tripods. The leg locks are the older style clip locks rather than twist locks, but with the unique leg shape that facilitates the compact folding of the tripod, this is clearly the only option. It certainly doesn’t impact usability and these can be easily dismantled for cleaning and maintenance which is always useful.

Should I buy the Peak Design Travel Tripod?

Peak Design Travel Tripod at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Peak Design Travel Tripod

The Peak Design Travel Tripod was tested over a period of time using several different camera and lens combinations to test how the tripod stood up to standard use in travel-oriented scenarios. Cameras used included a premium compact, an APS-C mirrorless camera and a full-frame mirrorless camera. The tripod was also carried around with other photographic kit in my 'f-stop' brand backpack to evaluate performance over longer shoots such as landscapes.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering photographic accessories such as tripods for many years. As a professional photographer I frequently use a range of accessories to enhance my photography and bring my working experience of using these to reviews where I can consider how effective photographic accessories are from both a professional and enthusiast point of view.

First reviewed February 2024

Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM review – the ultimate ultrawide
5:00 pm |

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

If you were expecting Canon's breathtaking 10-20mm zoom to be HUGE, then you're in for a surprise. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

From the outside, there isn't much to suggest that this is one of the world’s most extraordinary wide-angle lenses. It has the characteristically elegant, smooth, matte finish of Canon’s RF lenses – and, apart from the bulbous front element (which is standard for lenses this wide), this is a slim, neat optic that’s easy to handle and won't consume too much space in your camera bag.

It’s surprisingly light: at 570g, it’s less than half the weight of Canon’s EF 11-24mm f4L USM DSLR lens. Nevertheless, it has IS optical stabilization built in – alongside Canon’s Peripheral Coordinated Control IS to control the wobbling of objects at the edges of the frame when you’re moving and filming. This is a particular issue for ultra-wide lenses and could be a big help to filmmakers using creative camera movements in interiors. 

The RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM also has a selection of exotic optical elements, glass moulded aspherical elements, UD and Super-UD glass, and advanced optical coatings. The STM AF actuators deliver fast and near-silent autofocus, too.

As usual with Canon RF lenses you get a focus ring, custom control ring and a zoom ring – and on this lens, a function button, too. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

On the outside you get the usual Canon RF lens features including a zoom ring, focus ring, customizable control ring (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance or exposure compensation) and a programmable function button.

But when you put the camera to your eye, your world changes. The 20mm maximum focal length isn't out of the ordinary, but when you turn the zoom ring to the 10mm settings, your eyes will widen along with the scene in the viewfinder.

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

These two shots, taken from the same position, give you an idea of the RF 10-20mm's zoom range. The top image was shot at 20mm; the lower image at 10mm. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

This lens relies heavily on digital corrections. This JPEG has in-camera corrections and is dead straight – any irregularities are in the wall, not the lens's rendering. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

But this is the same image uncorrected, showing extremely strong barrel distortion and corner cropping. In almost all practical circumstances, though, you won't be seeing uncorrected images. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Your first test is likely to be to check sharpness at corners. This is usually the first casualty in ultra-wide lens designs, but the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM is pretty exceptional in this respect, even at 20mm. The corner sharpness does start to fall away a little, but you have to zoom in a long way to check. At regular print and display sizes, this lens is sharp from edge to edge.

Like many modern mirrorless lenses, especially those with extreme specifications, there’s a lot of digital correction going on here. However, chances are, you won’t ever see it. If you shoot JPEGs then it will be corrected in-camera, and if you shoot raw then Lightroom will automatically apply a correction profile of its own. So will Capture One, although the Capture One profile will leave behind some light fall-off towards the edges that you'll need to correct manually – or just keep as a creative "look".

Interior shots such as this quickly reveal the difficulty of controlling convergence in lenses this wide. The camera was kept dead level for this to keep the verticals straight. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

But tilting the camera upwards to show more of the ceiling produces extreme convergence. It's fine as a creative effect, but hard work to control if you don't. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Unlike other makers, though, Canon doesn't embed a fall-back "manufacturer" correction profile in its raw files, so if you’re using software that doesn’t have a matching profile of its own, then you could be in trouble.

This lens also does take some skill to use – not because of any defect or quirk of the lens, but its sheer angle of view. Shooting handheld, it’s extremely difficult to avoid any convergence in vertical or horizontal lines. That’s fine if a dizzying perspective effect is what you’re looking for, but if you want dead-straight architectural or interior shots, they'll be a lot easier to achieve with a tripod and a geared head. Otherwise, the slightest shift in your position or the camera’s angle can radically alter the perspective.

You might imagine that focal lengths this short would produce practically unlimited depth of field, but that isn't the case. At 10mm, the angle of view is so wide that you can get really close to foreground subjects, way beyond the limits of depth of field. So that here, the background is blurred, even at f/7.1. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

That doesn’t take anything away from the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM, as it simply goes with the territory. The fact is that it's a triumph in specifications, performance and handling. It’s amazing that anyone can make a zoom this wide for a full-frame camera – and given that, its optical performance is also fantastic, whether or not it uses digital corrections to achieve that. To have all of this packed into such a compact, light and great-handling lens is just the icing on the cake.

All that’s left is to start saving the cash to buy one.

Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM: Price and release date

Predictably, the RF 10-20mm isn't cheap; but it isn't ruinously expensive for an L-series lens, either. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

The Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM was officially announced back in October 2023 and is now widely available. It’s on sale for around $2,299 in the US and £2,579 in the UK. The price reflects its angle of view, specifications and performance – so while it certainly isn't a cheap option, neither is it especially expensive by Canon L-series standards.

Should I buy the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM?

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

How I tested the Canon RF 10-20mm F4L IS STM

You can get striking compositions just by pointing the camera upwards, because objects from both sides of you converge. (Image credit: Rod Lawton)

I used the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8 L IS USM on a Canon EOS R8, testing it across its focal range, but mostly at the widest (most interesting) end. I checked out performance both wide open and stopped down. In addition, I evaluated corrected in-camera JPEGs against Lightroom-corrected raw files and uncorrected originals (in Lightroom with the correction profile disabled).

For subject matter, I shot a series of landscapes, mixing close-ups with wider shots, and also some city architecture, including interiors. My aim was to replicate as far as possible the kind of uses this lens would be put to.

I ran some quick handheld tests to check the IS effectiveness and found it reliable down to about 1/8sec, but not really beyond that. Real-world tests seldom match official CIPA figures, which are typically a "best case" measurement.

Sony FE 24-50mm F/2.8 G review: the right fit
10:09 pm | February 23, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Lenses Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Sony has added yet another 'FE' lens primarily designed for its full-frame mirrorless cameras – the FE 24-50mm F2.8 G. It's a slight twist on the classic standard zoom, compromising the telephoto reach of 24-70mm zooms in order to wear the crown of Sony’s lightest and smallest ever full-frame zoom lens with f/2.8 aperture.

Kudos where it's due, Sony is more active in the lens department than most of its rivals. It's committed to its mirrorless camera system and users are spoilt for choice for what glass to whack on their Sony camera – but is there actually a need for this lens when there are already similar alternatives available? I think it's a sensible addition that will serve creatives well, especially those that shoot a lot of video in addition to photography.

At only 15.5oz / 440g and measuring 3.63 inches /92.3mm in length, it's virtually the same size and weight as the Sony FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS lens, while giving that extra stop of light with its constant f/2.8 aperture, albeit at a much higher price.

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Compared to the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 G OSS II, meanwhile, it's much smaller, around 50% lighter and significantly cheaper. At a little over $1,000 / £1,150 it's priced somewhere down the middle of those two 24-70mm zooms, but lacks the 70mm reach.

Let's not forget the FE 20-70mm F4 G, which is the most versatile off all Sony's standard zooms, but with an f/4 aperture. So there is some distinction between models, and for many people the new lens will be the most compelling of the four.

Sure, you sacrifice the telephoto 70mm of other standard zooms, but the 24-50mm range still covers four popular lens focal lengths; 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm. (Sony has a couple of cheap fixed lens alternatives including the FE 35mm F2.8.) I think it's a sensible focal length compromise instead of, say, making a 28-70mm f/2.8, especially because it caters for Sony's typical customer in 2024; a photo and video creator. 

Most video users will appreciate being able to go wider rather than zooming in more; it might not sound like it, but 24mm is much wider than 28mm and versatile for run-and-gun and selfie videos. 

You can do a little test if you already own another lens that covers this zoom range; check the metadata of your images to see which focal lengths you use the most often. We photographers often shoot the two extremes of what a lens offers, but if you rarely use 70mm then this 24-50mm is an obvious choice. 

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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: price and release date

The Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G costs $1,100 / £1,150 / AU$1,999, which means it sits between the 24-70mm F2.8 G II ($2,299 / £1,999 / AU$2,899) and the 24-70mm F4 ($899 / £749 / AU$1,209). 

It's a similar price to the FE 20-70mm F4 G ($1,099 / £1,299 / AU$1,449) depending on your region, as price cuts have been handed out. Shipping is from April 2024. 

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: design

I had the new 24-50mm F2.8 G with a Sony A9 III for this review and it proved a perfect size match. It's the right fit for Sony's more compact mirrorless cameras – they feel made for each other. Even with a smaller travel camera such as the A7C II there would be good balance, and it makes for a great everyday lens. 

That physical synergy is extended to the design and features of the lens. An aperture ring which can be clicked or de-clicked is in easy reach, while twin linear motors give fast and quiet internal autofocus, plus focus breathing compensation. Truly, it's made for 2024's hybrid cameras. 

Other features include a dust and moisture-resistant build – again complementing the ruggedness of Sony's enthusiast and pro-level cameras – and a minimum 0.3m focus distance with maximum 0.3x magnification at 50mm; that’s decent close-focusing capabilities. 

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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)
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Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

One design quirk that I discovered quickly regards the extension of the lens barrel as you move through the zoom range. When retracted, the lens is actually in its zoomed-in 50mm setting, and as you zoom out to the wide end, the barrel extends. That's the opposite of almost every other lens that I have used – when you fire up the camera the lens is usually wide and you twist the barrel to zoom in. The reverse feels counterintuitive in the 24-50mm and it takes a little getting used to. 

There's little else to say about the lens build, besides that it takes 67mm threaded lens filters, a common a low-cost size, and that it comes supplied with a petal-shaped lens hood.

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G: performance

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Trees with expansive vista

Bokeh is pronounced when shooting at 24mm and f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Trees with expansive vista

Bokeh is mostly gone by f/8 at any focal length (Image credit: Future)
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Sunstar effect in dappled tree light

Shooting into the light at f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Sunstar effect in dappled tree light

Shooting into the light at f/16 makes a lovely sunstar effect (Image credit: Future)
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Traditional church building in the sun

Detail at f/5.6 is super sharp (Image credit: Future)
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Landscape at dusk

I probably would have like the option to zoom in further to explore this vista more intimately (Image credit: Future)

During the few weeks I had the 24-50mm with the Sony A9 III, I've taken portrait photos, landscapes, video clips and more. I've found the lens able to support the high performance of the A9 III camera, providing fast and quiet autofocus, plus reliable and accurate subject detection autofocus. It's still worth mentioning these things in a lens review – I've been relaxed in knowing that the camera and lens combination is able to focus sharply, so I have one less thing to worry about. 

On the whole, the 24-50mm is optically excellent. It's super sharp even at f/2.8, though it's at its sharpest between f/4 and f/11. Once you've stopped aperture down to f/16, details get a fraction softer – that's typical of most camera lenses, and I expect most users won't be interested in performance at f/16 in any case. But overall detail is as sharp as I'd hope a Sony 'G' lens would be.

GIF that cycles through the aperture settings of Sony 24-50mm lens to illustrate vignetting

This GIF cycles through (pun intended) the aperture settings to illustrate vignetting at 50mm, from f/11, f/8, f/5.6, f/4 and finishing with f/2.8. (Image credit: Future)

With all in-camera lens corrections turned off, I have taken sequences of identical images cycling through the different lens apertures, at both 24mm and 50mm, and then compared those image to check for vignetting. It's sharply present in the corners at 24mm and f/2.8, plus it's present at 50mm and f/2.8 in a more graduated way. Stop down to f/4 and I would describe vignetting as minor, and it's basically gone by f/8. For video you won't really notice vignetting because the very corners of the image sensor aren't in the frame. 

Chromatic aberration at any focal length is virtually absent – that's super impressive, as is the lens' control of flare. I shot towards the sun at various angles with it in the shot and just outside the frame and didn't experience much lens flare at all. 

While doing those shooting-towards-the-light tests I moved to dappled tree light, framed the sun in the picture and shot at f/16 and f/22 to pronounce the sunstar effect, where a crisp and tidy 22-point sunstar appeared – lovely stuff.

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Portrait with bokeh

Bokeh is good at f/2.8 (Image credit: Future)
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Guinea pig from ground level on a grass lawn with shallow depth of field

You can count on the lens and a Sony camera from 2024 to get sharp focus on your subject. (Image credit: Future)
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Portrait with bokeh

Close focusing is 0.3m so you can do selfies at 50mm, where you'll also get shallow depth of field. (Image credit: Future)

The 11-blade aperture is able to make fairly circular bokeh at f/2.8, although there's pronounced cat's eye bokeh towards the corners of the frame that changes in shape a little depending on if you are shooting at 24mm or 50mm. I've noticed this bokeh characteristic before in other Sony lenses like the 70-200mm F4 G OSS II

Whether or not cat's eye bokeh is an issue is frankly down to personal taste; I don't mind it, particularly. Fortunately, there's no obvious vignetting going on in the bokeh and it's smooth enough – but I've seen much silkier bokeh in a specialist lens such as the Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena. Overall, bokeh is decent without being spectacular – dare I say it for a f/2.8 lens, it's plain. 

Overall, from design to handling and optical quality, the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G is highly competent and is a decent everyday lens for video and photography. It's hard to get massively excited about the lens and it does have that length compromise compared to a 24-70mm, but it could be the most sensible Sony lens for users looking for a high-quality standard zoom lens. It's a surefire addition to our best Sony lenses buying guide.

Should I buy the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lens?

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G lens

Sony FE 24-50mm F2.8 G

(Image credit: Future)

Sony sent me the 24-50mm F2.8 G lens with a Sony A9 III for several weeks, during which time I was able to shoot a lot of photo and video, including portraits and landscapes. 

I turned off all in-camera lens corrections, shot photos in both raw and JPEG to then compare corrected and uncorrected files to see what, if any, lens distortions were present. Please note there is little reason to do this in the real world, but these tests are designed to see how hard the camera is pushing files to correct them.

I've made sets of identical images taken at all aperture settings, at each extreme focal length of 24mm and 50mm, for further optical quality comparisons. I've shot action sequences and utilized the A9 III's superb subject detection and tracking autofocus to gain quick and sharp focus with the 24-50mm lens' dual linear motors, plus played with manual focus in both photo and video. 

First reviewed February 2024

Fujifilm X100VI review – cult status renewed
9:00 am | February 20, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Compact Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

The Fujfilm X100V currently ranks as our best premium compact camera, but that model has just been well and truly superseded by its successor, the Fujifilm X100VI. The sixth-gen model has better features, and offers better performance and image quality, while retaining all that we love about the X100 series: classic styling, old-school exposure dials, a super-sharp fixed 23mm f/2 lens, and that lovely hybrid viewfinder. 

You could look at the X100VI as a Fujifilm X-T5 in a X100-series body. That means a higher-resolution than ever 40MP sensor, 6.2K video, and, for the first time in the series, in-body image stabilization. We also get Fujifilm's best-ever autofocus, with tracking and subject detection that includes humans, animals, birds and vehicles. 

So we effectively have two fantastic cameras combined into one, and the result is the best entry in this fixed-lens compact series yet. I love it, and in many ways it's a more compelling Leica Q3 alternative.

Person holding the Fujifilm X100VI camera up to their eye with a bustling Tokyo city background

(Image credit: Future)

There's also that's plenty familiar here. The retro design has changed, but only a little; this is a slightly heavier camera because it accommodates in-body image stabilization, and if you ask me the extra 10% weight is totally worth it for the additional versatility the IBIS brings. This is still very much a compact camera.

A few features carried over from the X100V now feel like quirks: a single UHS-I SD card slot limits the video and burst-shooting capability, weather-sealing is still only achieved with a lens adaptor attached, and perhaps even the lens focal length (a full-frame equivalent 35mm) is limiting for those that like to shoot wider, especially given that we could easily crop to 35mm thanks to the extra pixels. But the Fujifilm X100VI is a superb compact camera that's unlike any other.

Fujifilm X100VI in the hand with top plate in view

(Image credit: Future)

It's so capable in fact that it's hard to see where Fujifilm can go next, besides trying something altogether new, like a new lens with a different focal length, or even creating a similar camera in its GFX series of medium-format cameras.

The pricier Leica Q3 feels more luxurious, and boasts a 60MP full-frame sensor, while the cheaper Ricoh GR III series are simpler and smaller. But right now the Fujifilm X100VI feels like the best premium compact for most people.

Fujifilm X100VI: release date and price

  • $1,599 / £1,599 / AU$
  • 20% pricier than X100V at launch
  • Special edition available for $1,934 / £1,934

The Fujifilm X100VI will be available to buy from February 28, with a list price of $1,599 / £1,599 (that around AU$2,500 – pricing for Australia is TBC). To mark 90 years of Fujifilm there's a special-edition model of the X100VI that's limited to 1,934 units – 1934 being the year Fujifilm was founded – with each model having its unique number etched onto its top plate. This special edition comes with a strap and different etchings, but is functionally identical to the standard X100VI and costs $1,934 / £1,934. Sales of this camera begin on March 28, while in the UK sales are exclusively in-person at the London House of Photography from April 6 – expect queues.  

Fujifilm X100VI: design and handling

  • Retains the same style, lens and superb hybrid viewfinder
  • First X100-series camera with in-body image stabilization
  • Tilt-touchscreen flush in the body when stowed
  • Slightly improved battery life

If you love the X100V, you'll appreciate the Fujifilm X100VI even more. And if you've never shot with an X100-series camera the X100VI embodies everything that has defined and popularized the Fujifilm brand.

Retro styling abounds, in the brushed aluminum top and bottom plates, the old-school exposure control dials (the dual-purpose shutter speed / ISO dial is stunning), the faux-leather body, and a hybrid viewfinder that gives you both an optical and electronic display, which you can switch between with the push of a button – the X100VI successfully straddles the analog era and the 21st century camera experience.

We also get a tilt-touchscreen that sits flush in the body when folded away, although you can't flip it around and out of sight altogether like you can a vari-angle screen, which I'd prefer. Still, this is a camera that suits low-level shooting – which I did a lot of to capture reflections in a wet Chinatown in London, and in Tokyo during the Fujifilm X-Summit – and even more so for those who prefer a viewfinder. Prefer optical? You've got it. Want to make sure your exposure settings are okay? You simply have to briefly activate the 3.69m-dot electronic display.

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Front of the Fujifilm X100VI reflected in glass table

(Image credit: Future)
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Front of the Fujifilm X100VI reflected in glass table

(Image credit: Future)
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Memory card in place in the Fujifilm X100VI

(Image credit: Future)
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Closeup of the top plate controls of the Fujifilm X100VI

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X100VI side profile

(Image credit: Future)
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Fujifilm X100VI connection ports door open

(Image credit: Future)
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Underside of the Fujifilm X100VI

(Image credit: Future)

The controls are all logically placed and within easy reach, and once you've taken the time to dig through the menus and set up the camera how you wish you can keep the viewfinder up to your eye and make adjustments without having to look for the required button or dial. 

The lens is the same fixed 23mm f/2 lens as on the Fujifilm X100V, with an aperture control dial and a control ring that allows you to adjust your choice of any one of several settings, including the digital teleconverter with 50mm and 70mm lens-effect settings. This is a proper street photography camera.

Battery life has been improved from the X100V despite the new camera using the same battery – camera brands are finding ways to conserve power more effectively. That said, in-body image stabilization is power hungry, and the use of it mostly negates the battery life improvement  – you get around 450 shots from a full charge.

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Waterfall with moving water motion blur

I found in-body image stablization effective down to a shutter speed as slow as 1/4sec. Pushed to 1/2sec and most of my photos were blurry. (Image credit: Future)
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tokyo city at night, a couple waits by pedestrain crossing with light trails from moving vehicles

Another example of using slow shutter speed for creative effects, blurring light trails at night even when shooting handheld. (Image credit: Future)

The new sensor-based image stabilization has been custom designed for the X100VI, and this was probably number one on my upgrade wish list for an X100V successor. These are cameras that are designed to be used handheld, and in-body stabilization allows you to get sharper shots at slower shutter speeds. Fujifilm says image stabilization is effective up to 6-stops, but in my tests, I found IBIS 100% effective up to 3EV – that's a shutter speed of 1/4sec – and a big drop in my hit ratio of sharp shots using slower shutter speeds.

You can make use of the new in-body stabilization and the existing built-in 4-stop ND filter for creative slow shutter speed effects that weren't possible before, while a built-in ND is useful for video work. You can shoot using the X100VI's f/2 aperture in reasonably bright light with the kind of shutter speeds needed for video, around 1/60 sec.

The new image stabilization feature necessitates a slight increase in size and weight, and while the size difference is negligible, the X100VI is around 10% heavier than the X100V at 521g (incl battery and card). I still class it as a compact camera though, and the extra weight is completely worth it in return for the practical gain.

Given that the lens is exactly the same one as on previous models, the same lens accessories will work with the X100VI, including the lens hood and the wide and tele conversion lenses.

Fujifilm X100VI: features and performance

  • Same X-Processor 5 engine and autofocus system as the X-T5
  • Up to 11fps continuous burst shooting in full quality
  • Direct Frame.io cloud uploads

The Fujifilm X100VI utilizes the same X-Processor 5 engine as the X-T5, making this the most powerful X100-series camera to date. 

It's also packing Fujifilm’s most effective autofocus system yet, with tracking autofocus for both photo and video recording, as well as subject-detection autofocus with options for birds, animals, vehicles and planes.

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Street photo of ladies in traditional Japanese attire

The X100VI is a superb street photographer's camera. (Image credit: Future)
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Street photo in a crowded urban Tokyo city

(Image credit: Future)
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Street scene in Tokyo city with motion blur

(Image credit: Future)
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City portrait with motion blur surrounding the subject

(Image credit: Future)

Those who prefer to take control of focus can switch to manual using the switch on the left-hand side of the body, and set up the camera with a generous selection of manual focus aids that include magnification, peaking (setting red to the highlight edges works well), and even a split image or ‘digital microprism’ that works very much like the old rangefinder focusing system – you align the two image within your display to achieve sharp focus.

Other modern conveniences include comprehensive wireless connectivity for image capture and uploads, and also includes direct Frame.io upload to cloud for photos and videos, although you'll need a separate subscription for that service.

Fujifilm X100VI: image and video quality

  • 40MP APS-C sensor with usable crop modes
  • 6.2K video
  • 20 film simulations including the latest Reala Ace

With the Fujifilm X100VI being so new it's not yet possible to process the camera's raw files, but image quality is a known entity, because the 40MP APS-C sensor is the same as the one in the X-T5, and the lens is the same as the one on the X100V, which I'm assured is sharp enough to compliment the higher-resolution sensor. In short, images are bigger than those from the X100V, and detail is super sharp across the entire image area. 

There's also a digital teleconverter that replicates a 50mm lens (a 'medium' image size of 20MP) and a 70mm lens (a 'small' image size of 10MP). With the increased 40MP full size image, those two digital crops are entirely usable.

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Tokyo city from above using the 2x digital teleconverter of the Fujifilm X100VI

The Fujifilm X100VI's full image area (Image credit: Future)
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Tokyo city from above using Fujifilm X100VI full image size

The Fujifilm X100VI's 1.4x digital teleconverter with 50mm lens effect (Image credit: Future)
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Tokyo city from above using the 1.4x digital teleconverter of the Fujifilm X100VI

The Fujifilm X100VI's 2x digital teleconverter with 70mm lens effect (Image credit: Future)

Design-wise this is very much a stills photographer's camera, but in terms of features and image quality the X100VI is a decent video camera too, thanks to 6.2K resolution up to 10-bit and 200Mbps bit rate, in-body image stabilization with additional digital stabilization, and Fujifilm's capable autofocus with active subject tracking.

You also get Fujifilm log color profiles for video to maximize the sensor's dynamic range, plus the full suite of Fujifilm film simulation modes, which now number 20, six of which are black-and-white looks with different lens-filter effects to accentuate particular tones – red and orange make for punchy skies, while green brings out skin detail in portraits.

I liked to shoot using film simulation bracketing mode to get three looks at the same time, with some of my favorites including Provia (standard color), Reala Ace and Acros black and white. If you shoot in raw you can choose another film simulation afterwards using the in-camera raw conversion editor.

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Street photo in Tokyo of a green taxi

(Image credit: Future)
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Tokyo cityscape from elevated viewpoint

(Image credit: Future)
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Tokyo city in the day, elederly man cycles past

(Image credit: Future)

If like me you like to shoot in aperture priority and maintain some control of shutter speed suitable for the scene, you can define the minimum shutter speed in the auto ISO menu – that's another custom setting I create before shooting.

Let's not forget the impact in-body image stablization and better subject detection autofocus has on image quality too – countering motion blur at slower shutter speeds and reliably acquiring sharp focus.

Fujifilm X100VI: early verdict

Fujifilm X100VI in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

The wait was worth it. Finally the Fujifilm X100 series, which has for so long been popular for capturing every day street and reportage photography, has a model with in-body image stabilization, paired with a versatile 40MP APS-C sensor. There's a feeling that the X100VI could be the high-water mark for the retro-styled line with its unique hybrid viewfinder – how else can Fujifilm improve on its tried and tested fixed 23mm f/2 lens besides broadening the range with different fixed-focal-length lenses? Or perhaps by rolling out this fixed-lens concept to its medium-format GFX range? No, this sixth-gen model could be as good as the series gets and around for many years – we have a new premium compact camera champion on our hands.

Fujifilm X100VI: how I tested

Top plate of theFujifilm X100VI in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Several days by my side
  • Plenty of street photography experience

I used the Fujifilm X100VI for an afternoon in London, prior to spending a week with it at and around the Fujifilm X-Summit in Tokyo, during which time it was by my side continuously with plenty of opportunities to test its everyday camera and street photography credentials. 

I’ve taken sample photos in raw and JPEG, although I've not been able to process the raw files as they're not yet compatible with photo editors yet; I will, however, be able to do that for my upcoming full review of the camera.

Naturally I’ve pushed the new features to their limits, shooting 40MP stills and testing the 11fps continuous burst shooting, in-body image stabilization and 6.2K video modes, as well as the new autofocus system. 

SJCAM SJ20 Dual Lens Action Camera Review: unfulfilled potential
8:18 pm | February 9, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Action Cameras Cameras Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

With some bold claims under its belt, the SJCAM SJ20 Dual Lens Action is the world’s first action camera to provide two cameras and lenses: one for daylight shooting and a second for night capture. It may or may not fall into the best cheap action cameras category, but it’s undoubtedly an interesting concept, and there's compelling video footage comparing the night video capabilities against the GoPro Hero 12 on the SJCAM website that suggest it has GoPro-beating night vision. Are the claims true, or just marketing hype?

SJCAM SJ20 specification

Sensor: N/A
FOV: 154 degrees
Max photo resolution: 5888 x 3312
Video: Up to 4K 30fps (16:9)
Stabilization: 6-axis gyroscope
Front screen: 1.3-inch
Rear screen: 2.29-inch
Battery: Built-in 800mAh / External 1050mAh

The SJ20 provides the usual shooting modes found on action cameras, with a handful of extras thrown in for good measure. Video capture is possible up to 4K at 30fps, with lower resolutions offering higher frame rates, while stills can be captured at 20MP, which is impressive for an action camera. So, again, pretty much standard except for photo resolution, but higher-end action cameras typically offer a greater number of video capture options at 4K, alongside higher frame rates.

Shooting modes aside, the SJ20 is unmistakably a budget action camera, somewhat in the mold of the pricier Insta360 One R, albeit with two cameras and lenses, each with its own sensor, rather than one interchangeable lens module. Like that camera, the SJ20 uses a clip-on external battery alongside an internal battery, with the main difference being the SJ20's handy 1.3-inch front screen, which complements the rear 2.29-inch touchscreen.

SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)

SJCAM SJ20: release date and price

  • Two kit options are available
  • Kits include multiple accessories
  • Available January 2024

The SJ20 was announced in November 2023, and has been available to purchase from the SJCAM website since January 2024. There are two kits available – we tested the Standard option, which includes the SJ20, a 1050mAh external battery, a dive housing, multiple attachments, a small frame to use the camera without the external battery, and a larger frame for use with the external battery. The Pro Kit also includes a 5650mAh battery grip to further extend shooting times.

Despite the SJCAM website suggesting that the SJ20 can be purchased in multiple currencies, it’s only available in US dollars with the Standard kit coming in at $229 and the Pro Kit at $249. At the time of writing, this converts to around £180 / AU$350 for the Standard Kit, and £200 / AU$380 for the Pro Kit. For what you get in the kits this is competitive pricing, and opens the camera up to a wider audience, including individuals with a smaller budget.

  • Price score: 3/5

SJCAM SJ20: design

  • External battery increases shooting time
  • Heavily inspired by the Insta360 One RS
  • Frames and dive housing provide water resistance

In terms of design, the SJ20 looks extremely similar to the Insta360 One R and One RS action cameras, to the point that it’s almost a clone. The main difference, aside from build quality, is that the SJ20 features a 1.3-inch front screen for use when filming yourself, as well as a 2.29-inch touchscreen on the rear via which you can access settings. There are just two buttons on the top: one to change between the day and night cameras, and a record/shutter button that doubles up as the power button.

There’s a built-in speaker plus a door panel that covers the microSD card slot and the USB-C charging port. Annoyingly, the external battery has to be removed to open this door and then reattached for charging, and the process followed in reverse once charging has completed. It’s not the end of the world by any stretch, but it’s one of those design elements that could have been better thought through.

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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The SJ20 features a built-in 800mAh battery, and also an external 1050mAh battery that clips onto the bottom, just like the Insta360 One R. Battery life is reasonable, but never gets close to the maximum of three hours that’s suggested when capturing 4K video. Whether you're using the camera with its internal battery or with the external clip-on battery, the kit includes two frame configurations that wrap around the camera to provide water resistance to 5m / 16ft while the dive housing extends this to 40m / 130ft.

Build quality is average, and certainly not outstanding – the camera does feel a little cheap, and doesn’t offer the premium feel and smooth operation of the Insta360 cameras it’s so clearly inspired by. But this is unsurprising considering the much lower cost of the SJ20, and the fact that Insta360 is a premium action camera manufacturer alongside DJI and GoPro, with all three brands occupying the upper end of the market.

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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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SJCAM SJ20 action camera on a wooden floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)
  • Design score: 2.5/5

SJCAM SJ20: features and performance

  • Multiple shooting modes
  • 6-axis gyroscope stabilization
  • Easy to use

Most action cameras these days are incredibly easy to use, and the SJ20 is no exception. But where the higher-quality action cameras typically rely on swipes from the edges of the LCD screen to access settings, the SJ20 uses on-screen buttons to access settings and menus, with just one edge swipe from the top of the screen to access a handful of settings. This gives the user interface a slightly dated look and feel, but it doesn’t impact negatively on the user experience.

The 2.29-inch rear touchscreen provides a clear image for navigating menus and composing photos and videos. It’s nice and responsive, but it can sometimes take a press or two to access settings or menus if you use the edge of your fingertip – something you often find yourself doing when holding the camera with both hands. The 1.3-inch front screen is great when you're capturing yourself, but this has no touch functionality, so you have to set everything up on the rear screen before switching between the two, because only one screen works at a time.

There’s no shortage of shooting modes alongside standard photo and video capture. You get everything you’d expect from an action camera, such as slow motion, pre-recording, timelapse and motion detection, among others. There are also livestream and webcam modes, alongside interval and continuous shooting for photos.

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Night photo of a bridge taken with the daytime camera mode on the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

Day camera mode (Image credit: James Abbott)
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Night photo of a bridge using the night camera mode on the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

Night camera mode (Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of an arcade taken with the daytime camera on the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

day camera mode (Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of an arcade taken with the night camera on the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

Night camera mode (Image credit: James Abbott)

The camera can be controlled manually by hand or using the SJCAM Zone smartphone app. The main advantage of the app, as with any action camera, is simply that it gives you a remote Live View alongside wireless control of the camera. Connection using the camera’s QR code, which is scanned with the app, failed during testing, but manual connection did succeed, and worked perfectly well once the connection was established.

The 6-axis gyroscope stabilization works reasonably well for minor movements and facilitates smooth video capture. However, is doesn't compensate for larger movements as effectively as higher-end action cameras. When I shot some footage while riding a skateboard, the more vigorous movements of the camera as I pushed along with my foot were visible in footage, but when I was cruising the stabilization was effective.

When I was running, however, or even walking, a lot of shake can be seen, which is possibly jello, due to a slow shutter speed or a combination of the two. This is amplified during night capture with the night camera and produces video footage that is at best usable, but hardly smooth. The night video example on the SJCAM website looks much better, but it also looks like it was captured with the camera attached to a slow-moving bicycle, which would naturally result in smoother video footage.

Before shooting with the SJ20, I made a point of switching off the timestamp feature, which is switched on by default and adds the time and date to photos. It may have been that I didn’t commit to the change or that the camera reverted to its default, but the first batches of photos taken with the camera show the time and date. It would be much better if this was switched off by default, with the ability to switch it on if and when required, because most people don’t want their photos branded with a bright red time and date in the corner.

  • Features and performance score: 2.5/5

SJCAM SJ20: image and video quality

  • Video quality is mediocre
  • Photos offer the best image quality
  • Manual control not available

Alongside image adjustment controls such as contrast, saturation and sharpness, the only manual controls available for shooting are White Balance, ISO and EV (for exposure compensation), so camera control is essentially automatic rather than manual. 

This is a shame, as manual control is preferable for video capture for many people, since it maintains consistency and allows you to select the exposure settings that work for you. The ISO and EV controls do allow this to a degree, but with no control over shutter speed or even the ability to see what it is, you never know if it’s too fast or too slow for the frame rate you’re shooting at, or to control motion blur, depending on the activity you’re capturing.

Photos offer the best image quality – images come in at 20MP and are captured in JPEG format. Noise reduction applied to JPEGs is obvious at higher ISO settings. The main camera, like most action cameras, produces the best results in bright light. 

The night camera produces a brighter image in low light than the daylight camera, but the colors captured look much less natural, and certainly not as the naked eye sees them. Chromatic aberration can also be seen along high-contrast subject edges. Image quality from the daylight camera is fine, though and the 20MP resolution is decent for an action camera.

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Photo of an ice cream store taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a beach hut door taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of an amusement arcade taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of an old doorway taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a Cambridge University building taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a Cambridge University building taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)
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Photo of a brick wall at night taken with the SJCAM SJ20 action camera

(Image credit: James Abbott)

4K video

Video quality is below par from both the f/2.0 day camera and the f/1.3 night camera. Even in daylight, artifacts are visible in footage, and at night the captured image is far from clear, and certainly doesn’t live up to the claim that the SJ20 outperforms the GoPro Hero 12 for night shooting. 

What the night camera does is create a bright image, but overall quality is poor. Plus, the lack of camera control and the shakiness of the image stabilization don’t help here. It’s a little odd really, because where an action camera should excel at moving video capture, this is exactly where the SJ20’s performance is at its weakest.

Timelapse video

The available specifications for the SJ20 are a little vague. We can see that the field of view of the two cameras is 154 degrees, but it's guesswork what the 35mm equivalent focal length of the lens is. SJCAM is also holding the sensor specs for the two cameras close to its chest, so we can only assume that alongside providing different apertures, the two cameras use different sensors. 

They could be the same sensor with different processing algorithms, but with no access to this information it’s impossible to say for sure. But since the results from each camera are different in terms of color and exposure, it suggests that there are sensor and/or processing differences between the two.

Slow-motion video

  • Image and video quality: 2/5

Should I buy the SJCAM SJ20?

Buy it if...

Don'y buy it if...

Also consider

GoPro Hero 12 Black
Whether you’re considering buying your first action camera or upgrading from an older model, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is an option you should consider if your budget stretches that far. With great image quality, excellent stabilization and a streamlined user interface it’s one of the best action cams available. Low-light video performance isn’t fantastic, but neither is the SJ20's, despite its night camera.
Read our in-depth GoPro Hero Black review

Testing scorecard

How I tested the SJCAM SJ20

I carried the SJCAM SJ20 in my jacket pocket for over a week, so the camera was to hand whenever I needed it or wanted to try one of the many shooting modes on offer. I tested the photo and video quality of the day and night cameras at those respective times while walking, running, and skateboarding, to test both image quality and stabilization in a range of typical action camera scenarios.

The camera was used both independently and connected to my smartphone via the SJCAM Zone app to assess ease of use and the overall user experience. Action cameras are generally easy to use with intuitive interfaces, and I was able to find my way around the camera without the need to delve into the clear and easy-to-follow instruction manual.

First reviewed February 2024

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C review: modular, medium format, magnificent
6:57 pm | January 25, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Cameras Computers DSLRs Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: Two-minute review

The Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C is the Swedish manufacturer's latest mirrorless medium-format camera, offering an ultra-high-resolution sensor and phase detection autofocus (PDAF) in a surprisingly lightweight design. It's got to be one of the best professional cameras for landscape and portrait photographers who work slowly and deliberately, and it harks back to a more 'traditional' approach.

Joining Hasselblad's modular system lineup, the camera is comprised of two halves: the super-thin 907X camera body and the CFV 100C digital back. It's an upgrade on the 907X 50C which launched back in 2020, and as the name suggests, it brings double the megapixel count with a huge 100MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor.

The 907X CFV 100C shares the same sensor, 16-bit color depth, PDAF, and XCD lenses as the Hasselblad X2D 100C, but it enjoys a completely different design that allows photographers to use the CFV 100C digital back – the bit that handles the image capture – in three ways. 

If you're lucky enough to own an old Hasselblad V-system film camera, this can replace the film back and allow you to recreate the look and feel of analog lenses with digital files. It can also be mounted onto technical cameras from the likes of Alpha and Arca Swiss, opening up possibilities for architectural tilt and shift applications.

A top-down view of the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The camera combo itself is portable, although XCD lenses add significant weight (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

For sheer resolution, the CFV 907X 100C competes with the 102MP Fujifilm GFX100 II, but unlike that medium-format rival it doesn't offer any video capture at all. There's also no built-in image stabilization (IBIS), making a sturdy tripod essential for any low-light work. 

If you want a viewfinder, that's sold separately, although the new hot shoe adapter adds third-party flash triggering. There's also a huge 1TB internal SSD for storing images, as well as a CFexpress card slot for fast read and write speeds.

With a plodding continuous burst rate of 3.3fps and relatively slow autofocus, the 907X CFV 100C isn't a camera for action, sports, or on-the-go shooting. But the sheer clarity from the sensor, the tonal range from 15 stops of dynamic range, and the lifelike colors from Hasselblad's Natural Colour Solution (HNCS) more than make up for those minor limitations.

The modern camera arms race often sees faster marketed as better, and it takes a very special camera to say "Slow down, be deliberate with your approach." But the Hasselblad CFV 907X 100C is special, and the most enjoyable camera I've shot with for a very long time. Make no mistake, the CFV 907X 100C is premium in price and build, and at times slow to use; but I loved that approach, and I think many photography purists will too. 

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: price and availability

  • Costs $8,199 / ££6,729 – Australia pricing TBC
  • Available now across Europe and in the US

The Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C is available to buy now for $8,199 / £6,729 – we'll add pricing for Australia when that's confirmed. That price is almost 30% more than the Hasselblad 907X 50C. However, it’s still competitive for a professional camera when you consider that the Sony A1 is around $6,500 / £6,499 / AU$10,499 (body-only), and the 102MP Fujifilm GFX100 II is about $7,499 / £6,999 / AU$12,599.

By regular mirrorless camera standards, the 907X CFV 100C is expensive. But this premium tag is typical of modular systems like the Phase One XF; and to my mind, if you're a commercial photographer who's prepared to invest in the very best tools, it's to be expected.

If you want the 907X Optical Viewfinder (OVF) or 907X Control Grip they're both sold separately. If you're going to be handholding the camera frequently, I'd say the grip is almost essential, especially with longer, heavier lenses – I came to rely on it during testing. If you'll be investing in new lenses too, another point to consider is that Hasselblad's (stunning) XCD lens lineup cost around double the Fujifilm GFX equivalent.

  • Price score: 4/5

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: Specs

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: design

  • Modular design of camera body and digital back
  • Bright and responsive 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen
  • Viewfinder isn't built in but sold separately
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A separated look at the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The CFV100C digital back (left) and the 907C camera body combine as a modular system (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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The Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C being charged via USB-C

The 907X CFV 100C can be charged and tethered via USB-C (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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The card and battery on the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

On the right, a sturdy door slides open to reveal the battery and CFexpress card slot (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Unboxing the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

Unboxing the Hasselblad 907X & CFV 100C is a premium experience (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Unboxing the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The stylish and thoughtful design extends to the packaging of the 907X CFV 100C (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

Hasselblad is known for its beautifully crafted cameras, and the 907X CFV 100C's machine-milled aluminum exterior oozes quality – even unboxing the camera felt like a premium experience. Although it hasn't been given an official weatherproof rating, the camera is operable in temperatures of 14-113F / -10-45C, and up to 85% humidity.

Accessories inside the box include the Li-on rechargeable battery, hot shoe adapter for flashguns, focusing screen mask, 30W USB-C charger, USB-C to USB-C cable (supports charging and tethering), a shoulder strap, and a flash sync input cable.

As you'd expect, the digital back and camera body are packed separately, and the back has a plastic clip-on cover to protect it during storage. Once removed, the 907X mounts securely and snugly via two metal pins at the top, and I had no worries about the two coming apart.

There's a hidden USB-C input on the left side of the CFV 100C digital back, which is covered by a flap when not in use. On the back's right side, sliding back a reassuringly solid door reveals the flush battery and CFexpress card slot. The mount for the new hot shoe adapter is unsurprisingly found on the top of the camera. 

A top-down look at the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen can be hard to view in bright overhead light (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

The 907X CFV 100CV has an iconic look, although you don't get a waist-level viewfinder unless you buy one separately. I prefer using Live View over an EVF with my usual workhorse camera, and I came to rely on the CFV 100CV's gorgeous 3.2-inch tilted rear screen, which pulls out and up to either a 40-degree or 90-degree angle.

Coming from a vari-angle touchscreen, I thought I'd find the tilting mechanism limiting. However, 90 degrees is the perfect angle to look down on for low-level landscape compositions, and I can't imagine a scenario where you'd want the screen to face you. The only complaint I have is that at times I found the screen difficult to see from above in bright light.

Thanks to its 2.36 million-dot resolution, the display itself is crisp and colorful, and the touchscreen is very responsive to your input. This is a good thing, as the camera menus are designed to be navigated purely by touch, tap, and pinch gestures; there are no joysticks or control wheels here. The weather was very cold for a large part of my testing period, but I was still able to change settings easily on the touchscreen with thick gloves on – something that will please many landscape photographers.

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The Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C menu

The camera's touchscreen is one of the slickest and simplest I've seen (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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The face-detection menu on the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

Face-detection can be set to auto, manual or off completely (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Setting the white balance on the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

White balance can be set manually, automatically or from presets (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Setting the metering method on the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

There are three metering methods to choose between (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Setting drive mode on the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The drive modes include exposure and focus bracketing (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

I adore the simplicity of Hasselblad's menu systems, and the CFV 100CV is no exception. In the main menu you get every setting in one view, so there's no toggling between tabs or delving into submenus to find the setting you need to change.

Physical buttons on the camera itself are minimal unless you buy the control grip, which adds four customizable buttons. There are five small buttons under the screen, dedicated to the menu, delete, display toggle, playback, and power. These are slightly less easy to operate with gloves on, as they're almost flush with the body.

The shutter button is on the front-right of the camera, which seems odd at first until you realize it's where your fingers naturally sit when you cradle the camera. Pressing the shutter button down lightly will set the autofocus, while a full press fires the shutter. 

The camera is so solidly built that firing the shutter doesn't cause any detectable shake or wobble. The shutter button is surrounded by a tactile rotating control wheel, which can be set to change the aperture or shutter speed as you prefer. There are only two other buttons: one on the top of the camera to release the back, and one on the front to release the lens. 

A photographer using the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C handheld

The 907X CFV 100C's shutter is at the front under the lens (Image credit: Lauren Scott)
  • Design score: 4.5/5

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: features and performance

  • 1TB built-in SSD storage
  • No in-body image stabilization
  • 294-point phase-detection autofocus

Hasselblad's modular cameras aren't built for speed, but rather to facilitate a methodical and planned approach to image-making. Even so, the 907X CFV 100C moves on from the 907X 50C in several ways.

It takes around four seconds to power up and down, which is about twice as fast as the previous generation – although there aren't definite specs to confirm this. With less lag, you're less likely to miss a golden moment, but there's still a small wait before you can start shooting, and I was more likely to leave the camera on in between frames because of this.

The camera's improved 100MP sensor is paired with 294 phase-detect focusing points covering 97% of the frame. The addition of phase-detect autofocus is undoubtedly an improvement over the slower contrast-detection system, but you still won't find this camera responsive enough to capture fast movement. 

On paper, the focus speed should be the same as the Hasselblad X2D 100C, which in our review we noted was a dramatic upturn for Hasselblad, although it still lags behind what an old DSLR (I compared it to the Nikon D800) is capable of.

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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

The first thing I did was test the camera's new face-detection autofocus mode – available with a firmware update – to see how it compared to my Canon EOS R6. With a static subject, a large box appeared around the face within a few seconds; but as she or I moved around, the tracking was slower to follow, compared to my Canon, or to the best autofocus systems generally.

The CFV 100C isn't advanced enough to offer eye detection, and isn't bolstered by the same autofocus algorithms you see in flagships like the Sony A1. Yet I'd say that 90% of my static portraits in even light were sharp in just the right places. When backlighting my subject in high-contrast winter light, the autofocus system hunted, and struggled to lock onto her face at all, but using touch gestures to select the AF point on the screen sped things up. As for exposure, spot metering was better than center-weighted in this situation.

I use my dog as a test subject for every camera that comes into my hand. She's convenient, but also fast-moving, and so a good test of an autofocus system. Although I found it helpful to be able to move the AF point around, it's too big to focus precisely at shallow apertures; at f/2.5 on the XCD 2,5/90V lens, my sliver of focus was often misplaced.

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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

Of course, magnifying the on-screen focus helps with this; it just takes some practice. Manual focusing using the XCD lenses became incredibly intuitive in situations where the focus was critical, but I found it best reserved for landscape work on a tripod.

Hasselblad quotes the battery endurance at 420 images, and I'd estimate that I got around three hours or 350 images of solid shooting from one charge – and that was in very cold conditions. While many pros will use the camera in a tethered workflow, making the duration less important, landscape professionals heading out for a dawn-to-dusk day of shooting would be wise to take a couple of spare batteries with them.

Without any image stabilization at all, you need to be mindful of your shutter speed and tripod usage to avoid camera shake. I can usually push my Canon EOS R6 and RF 24-70MM F2.8L IS USM lens to around 1/30 sec handheld, but I was hesitant to dip below 1/125 sec handheld with the 907X CFV 100C, especially with a longer lens. I definitely noticed camera shake under 1/60 sec.

It's baffling that more camera manufacturers don't offer built-in storage. The 907X CFV 100C's 1TB internal drive is a real plus, although it's bound to fill up quickly with 100MP 3FR raw files which average 200MB in size. With write speeds up to 2370MB/s and read speeds up to 2850MB/s, I never found it lagging when processing images, and exporting images to Hasselblad's Phocus desktop app via USB-C was also painless.

Overall, the 907X CFV 100C's performance is slow and measured, and it forces you to think about what you're doing, and what settings you're using – and if anything, I think this improved my images. Rather than sticking everything on auto and rattling through a burst of frames, I set up my images, interacted with my subjects in a meaningful way, and got only a few frames that I was happy with – which is exactly how the camera is designed to be used. 

  • Features and performance score: 4/5

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: image quality

  • 16-bit color depth in 3FR raw format
  • Film-like image quality with natural tones
  • 15 stops of dynamic range

If my analysis of the 907X CFV 100C's features sounded lackluster, then let me go overboard with admiration for its image quality. Put simply, I was blown away by the level of detail you get from the camera's raw files. The 100MP sensor offers double the resolution of the 50C, enabling you to crop in much more closely to images.

The CMOS sensor is also now back-illuminated, which improves low-light imaging and readout speeds. The lowest ISO setting is 64 and it maxes out at 25,600, and I didn't start to notice noise in the shadows of my images until I reached at least 3,200. Beyond resolution, with another stop of dynamic range (for 15 stops in total) you can recover plenty of detail from the highlights and shadows of images, something I found particularly impressive when photographing a bright sky at sunrise.

Are the images better than those from my full-frame Canon EOS R6 or Canon EOS R5? Absolutely, and even to the untrained eye, with the hallmark clarity you only get from medium-format sensors, even if that clarity is hard to define.

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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

There's less to cover in this section than with a hybrid camera, as the CFV 100C doesn't shoot video, nor does it offer any filters or film simulations to change your images in-camera. The only real ability to change the look of photos comes from the white balance setting and standard presets like cloudy, shade, and tungsten, among others. 

I relied on the camera's automatic white balance – the usual approach for me, as I like to change color temperature at the editing stage. Most of all, I noticed how naturally and accurately the 907X CFV 100C renders skin tones. Whether in warm daylight or during an incredibly cold sunrise, the colors had just the right levels of saturation, blush, and tone.

All of the sample images below are unedited, save for me converting them from the 3FR raw format to JPEG to add them to this review; although I should note that when I did start editing some of my test shots I hardly needed to do anything to them. The 907X CFV 100C has a 16-bit color depth for 3FR raw files, which is around 281 trillion colors, and close to what the human eye can record. For HEIF, a much smaller file format, the bit depth drops to 10.

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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

Every camera brand talks about its unique color profiles, but I think Hasselblad has cracked the science more than any other. It's Natural Colour Solution is an involved and highly technical process, built from a look-up table (LUT), Hasselblad Film Curve, and pixel processing that adapts to different lighting conditions. 

As Hasselblad explains it, the captured color data gets transformed and remapped to give rich saturation and contrast, even for skin tones. I've never experienced such true-to-life results as I have with the 907X CFV 100C. Portraits in particular pop off the screen, and can be enhanced further with Hasselblad's Phocus software, which is sympathetic to the file type.

Having tested the 907X CFV 100C with Hasselblad's latest XCD 2,5/90V and XCD 4/28P lenses, I detected negligible levels of fringing, distortion and vignetting. As I've mentioned elsewhere in this review, Hasselblad’s XCD lenses are expensive in regular camera terms, and more expensive than Fujifilm's GFX lineup. But they're first-rate, both optically and in the way that they're constructed.

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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
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Sample images from the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C camera

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)
  • Image quality score: 5/5

Should you buy the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C?

A top-down look at the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

The 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen can be tilted at 40 or 90 degrees (Image credit: Lauren Scott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C Scorecard

Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C: Also consider

If you're not sure that the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C is for you, here are two similar alternatives.

A female photographer with the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C on a tripod

(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

How I tested the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C

I had the Hasselblad 907X CFV 100C for just under two weeks, and I tested it with the recent XCD 2,5/90V and XCD 4/28P lenses, plus the Hasselblad 907X handle control grip, which adds extra controls and makes handheld shooting more comfortable. The camera isn't really designed to be a carry-anywhere affair (although it is very portable), and I used it for planned portrait sessions in the city, landscape shoots for frosty sunrises, and out in the woods for low-light work. I mounted the 907X CFV 100C on a sturdy Manfrotto tripod for around half of the images I took.

I shot in raw format. Then, as part of the testing process, I used Hasselblad's free Phocus software to import my sample images before exporting them as smaller JPEG files. I tethered the 907X CFV 100C to my iMac and used Phocus software to control the camera. Finally, I connected the camera to my iPhone 15 via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and used the Phocus Mobile 2 app to import images directly across for sharing.

First reviewed in January 2023.

DJI Mic 2 review: simply smart first-rate audio
7:29 pm | January 18, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

DJI Mic 2: Two-minute review

The DJI Mic 2 is a portable wireless mic system that delivers high-quality sound – especially clear vocals – without the fuss that often comes with complicated pro-level audio gear. 

Succeeding the DJI Mic, which is a TechRadar favorite for those creating video content on the go, this second-gen model is a big upgrade in a familiar package and boasts smart pro-level features, namely 32-bit float audio and AI-powered ‘intelligent noise reduction’. 

With reliable magnetic mounts for quick mic setup with your subjects, and instant sync between mic and receiver, plus optional lav mics available, you can start recording audio in the DJI Mic 2's auto mode, even in complex environments, without worrying about clipping, or unpredictable distracting noise around you.  

I'd definitely opt for the complete kit, which includes two transmitters (mics, with windshields) for dual-channel audio, and one receiver that attaches to your camera of choice. Two transmitters can cover two subjects, or a single subject with stereo sound, whatever your camera. These components come in a charging case that auto syncs what's inside, plus the necessary connectors, and it all squeezes into a tiny carry case. 

You can buy a single transmitter with receiver, or any of the individual components, but at $349 / £309 for the complete kit (about AU$530 – pricing for Australia is TBC), the DJI Mic 2 is a dream bit of gear for solo content creators and small video productions lacking a dedicated audio specialist on set. 

Competition-wise, the DJI Mic 2 most directly goes up against the Rode Wireless Pro; and thanks to its smart noise reduction feature and lower price, DJI's offering might just have the edge. 

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DJI Mic 2 complete kit in charging case with lid open

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 charging case, closed

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 complete kit in its carry case

(Image credit: Future)
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Flat lay of the complete DJI Mic 2 kit on white table

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 transmitter in the hand with wind shield attached

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 recevier in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Let's unpack the headline feature: 32-bit float. This is all the rage in the video production world, and rightly so, as it affords great flexibility for small crews that need a mic that simply captures sound clearly, even when the volume gets super-loud all of a sudden, or if your main subject is painfully quiet. 

In technical speak, 32-bit has a dynamic range of 192db, but it's not a fixed frequency point, and can encode wider values with a potential range that covers up to 1,528dB. That's the flexibility I was just talking about. 

If your interviewee shouts into the mic, the audio won't clip; if they speak very quietly, you can raise the volume without introducing audio noise. Put simply, vocals should remain clear in any situation. Speaking from experience working on high-stress shoots with low resources, 32-bit float has been a lifesaver. 

By contrast, the highly capable first-gen DJI Mic 2 records 24-bit audio with a range up to 144.5dB, while mics that record in 16-bit only cover 96.3dB. If you set audio gain correctly from the start, 24-bit should sufficiently capture the required range of audio frequencies. However, the reality for many video productions is that audio simply cannot be monitored easily on set, where anything can happen, including sudden high-frequency incidents  (loud noises).

You can see the difference between using the DJI Mic 2 and a phone's built-in mic below…

@techradar

♬ just outside, you can see the northern lights - Daniel G. Harmann

Digital photography is a loose analogy, but it's a bit like the difference between shooting raw instead of JPEG. If you nail the exposure and color correctly at the point of capture, then JPEG is sufficient; if you don't – say your photo is too bright and detail in the sky is washed out – then that detail is lost. 

If you shoot in raw instead, you can recover way more high-quality detail that would otherwise be lost with JPEGs when the exposure is too bright or dark, and more easily correct color temperature when it’s off. So, even if you get it wrong at capture, you can still produce a decent final image.  

While shooting raw isn't quite the same as using 32-bit float, you get the picture. When things go wrong – which they often do on set and on location, no matter your skill level – then 32-bit float gives you the flexibility you need to handle the unexpected.

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Dji Mic 2 receiver mounted to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver attached to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver attached to a shirt pocket using its magnet

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver atttached to the DJI Osmo Pocket 3

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver atttached to the DJI Osmo Pocket 3

(Image credit: Future)

While 32-bit float gives a wider dynamic range for complete sound and the flexibility to avoid clipping, it still needs a decent-quality mic, and to that degree DJI's omnidirectional mics have been lavished with AI noise reduction that effectively reduces environmental noise. 

Now you might want environmental noise in your audio for a richer viewer experience; however, if it overpowers vocals then you need to keep a lid on it. With the DJI Mic 2, you get to choose – the new AI noise reduction can be turned on and off in an instant with a simple tap of the icon on the 1.1-inch touchscreen. 

I've used the mic on a windy countryside walk, and in a noisy conference hall – though I haven't travel-vlogged from a bustling city street yet – and the new feature works really well. There's certainly a marked difference in quality between the DJI Mic 2 and the built-in mic of your smartphone or camera. 

I can tell that the smart noise reduction feature will be able to deal with the hum of road traffic or an air conditioner fan near an interviewee, ensuring maximum possible vocal clarity, and making this is a great kit for small teams that do lots of interview content. 

You can now also bypass the Mic 2's receiver altogether, using a direct Bluetooth connection between camera and transmitter – after all, there are times when you'd rather not plug the receiver into the underside of your phone (or your DJI Omso Pocket 3 / Osmo Action 4). You lose the ability to record in 32-bit float with this connection method, but it could be worth the compromise. 

You can also opt for Safety Track, which simultaneously records a backup second track at -6dB into the transmitter, which has 8BG of built-in storage that's sufficient for thousands of hours of audio content. It's a handy feature should there be severe audio spikes.

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DJI Mic 2 charging case from above with lid open and receiver removed

(Image credit: Future)
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Profile of the DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
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DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Despite its pro-level features, you don’t need to be an audio expert to get started with the DJI Mic 2 – quite the opposite in fact. As I said before, the complete kit has everything you need: it includes a charging case, in which you can store and charge the two transmitters (mics) and one receiver, and in which all three devices are automatically paired, so they’re ready to go in an instant. 

It’s super-quick to set up the transmitters, using the strong magnets that securely fix them in place on clothing, or a clip if you'd rather not use the magnets. If the transmitters are a little bulky for your taste, an optional lav mic can be attached instead. 

You can use the Mic 2 transmitter as a standalone omnidirectional mic with noise reduction and record onto its 8GB built-in memory, but most people will use the mics with the receiver connected to a camera that has USB-C, Lightning, or a 3.5mm jack connectivity, with audio added directly to the video files. That camera could be your phone, one of the best vlogging cameras, like the DJI Pocket 3, or many mirrorless and DSLR cameras. 

Battery life has been upped from the first-gen model, too, from 15 hours to 18 hours, making this is an excellent bit of kit for extended time out in the field. 

If you want to produce engaging video content, great quality sound is vital, but achieving that is easier said than done. For vloggers and small video production outfits often working on high-pressure shoots with limited resources, the powerful, smart and no-fuss DJI Mic 2 is a superb option. 

DJI Mic 2: Price and release date

  • Available as a complete kit with charging case for $349 / £309 
  • Can be bought as one transmitter and receiver for $219 / £189

The DJI Mic 2 is available now, with the complete kit comprising two transmitters (in Black or Pearl White), one receiver, a charging case, Lightning and USB-C receiver connectors, two windshields, a lav mic, plus carry case, and costs $349 / £309 (about AU$530). If you only need a single receiver and no charging case, then it's $219 / £189 (about AU$330), while you can buy some of the items separately, like the transmitters for $99 / £89 (about AU$150). 

DJI Mic 2: Should I buy?

Dji Mic 2 receiver mounted to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

DJI Mic 2: How I tested

  • I had the DJI Mic 2 for several weeks 
  • Used with a smartphone, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, and a mirrorless camera
  • I used it with and without 32-bit float and AI noise reduction

I used the DJI Mic 2 complete kit for several weeks, testing how easy it was to set up and connect to devices, as well as testing the quality of its audio recordings.

I've used its 32-bit float audio capture and other settings, and I've used it with the AI noise reduction turned on and off to make comparisons. I've used the mic outside on windy countryside walks, and in echoey interiors, and I also used it to record videos for TechRadar's TikTok channels. 

  • First reviewed January 2024
Pivo Max review: like having your own camera operator
8:00 pm | December 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

The Pivo Max is a motorized head that can intelligently track subject movement, when paired to Pivo's free iOS / Android app. Put simply, it's like having your own camera operator, and could be the handiest smartphone accessory you ever purchase, particularly if you're a solo content creator. 

It's incredibly easy to get started with the Pivo Max app, and establish a connection between an Apple or Android device and the motorized head. Once a connection is active, the app recognizes a variety of subjects – both human and animal – and follow a subject's movement, keeping them in the selected portion of the frame. 

Most people use a smartphone to shoot content now, and many such people work alone, and the Pivo Max is going to be hugely useful if you want to bring life and extra production value to content, rather than relying on a static, locked-off shot.

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

Set-up is simple – after optionally attaching the head to a tripod or other support to achieve the required height (the head can also simply be placed on a table or other surface), you slot your smartphone or tablet into the removable holder on the top, screw it firmly in place, open the app and away you go. Your phone will reliably track your movement, with options for human face or body tracking, plus dog or horse tracking – a peculiar mix of subjects for sure.

What's more, there's an 'Auto Zoom' option – if you move further away from the camera, it can zoom in to maintain a similar composition, and zoom out again should you move closer to the camera once more.

You can also select one of three vertical zones – left, middle or right (see below) – in which the app can place the tracked subject. I suspect most people will select the middle portion of the frame, but I can also see a use for leaving space either side of yourself, for example when showcasing products by your side, or for leaving space in your shot to walk into when out and about, especially in scenic surroundings.

Pivo Max screenshots

(Image credit: Future)

Tracking speed can be adjusted for slow and steady movements, through to keeping up with quick movement, and the motor can indeed be smooth or snappy – whichever you need. A timer gives you a three-second countdown to get ready for a take, and there are photo, video, meet and webcam modes to choose between. 

The Pivo Max comes with a remote, too, so it's easy to adjust app settings from  distance – you don't have to initiate recording on the device's screen itself. However, if you're using a separate camera like a DSLR or mirrorless, you'll need to start recording directly on the camera itself.

Yes, you can mount a small camera such as an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless model, and use that instead of your phone, although you'll still need the app active to obtain the Pivo Max's functions, so you'll need to source a coldshoe mount to mount your phone on top of the camera (included in Pivo's pricier kits).

I only used the Pivo Max with a smartphone – and I expect the overwhelming majority of users will do the same – but it's nice to know that I could use it with one of my 'proper' cameras; it has a max payload of 2kg.

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Pivo Max in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
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Pivo Max in the hand, top

(Image credit: Future)
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Pivo Max in the hand, underside

(Image credit: Future)
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Pivo Max remote in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
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Pivo Max remote in the hand, with Pivo Max on a stand in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The device itself is compact, and lightweight at around 350g. It's well built, though I wouldn't want to expose it to inclement weather. Pivo says battery life is a generous 10-12 hours.

Naturally, I've wanted to test the Pivo Max app's effectiveness, trying a range of scenarios and subjects. Starting with a solo talking-head shot, I made subtle movements left and right, towards and away from the camera, and tracking is silky smooth, though the zoom is a little jerky. Crank up the tracking speed to 'turbo' and the motorized head will swiftly respond to quick sideways movements, doing an admirable job of keeping up. 

If you make quick movements when the tracking speed is set to slow / normal, the Pivo Max will lag behind. Conversely, set it to quick when making slow movements and it's more likely to be jerky. You're not always going to know your speed of movement, and for such scenarios an intelligent adaptive auto tracking speed would be great, as opposed to having to manually input the tracking speed (I generally kept the speed on the quicker side). 

As such, an element of planning is required before you hit record, to select the appropriate tracking speed for the anticipated speed of movement. However, the Pivo Max has an extra trick or two up its sleeve.

It's possible to create a path with a start and finish point, much like Waypoints for drones, and then to initiate that tracking movement. There's also predictive follow, although it wasn't immediately clear to me what additional benefit this function offered.

I've also tried to confuse the app by including multiple faces in the frame, and by covering my own face as the primary tracked subject – the app will then lock onto another face in the frame and make them the tracked subject instead. So long as a subject maintains line of sight with the camera, tracking is very reliable. 

If the tracked subject changes, the first tracked subject can move back into the middle of the shot and it'll lock onto them again. Tracking is in theory more reliable than an actual human camera operator, who may or may not be able to predict or keep up with your movement (or maintain concentration). 

Yes, the Pivo Max can be more effective that a human camera operator. A caveat is that the motorized head can only do panning movements (a full 360 degrees – you can literally run circles around it) but not tilt, which is a little limiting if the subject is positioned close to the camera. A pricier and heavier gimbal would offer this extra range of motion, but these devices are way more complicated to set up than the Pivo Max. While it lacks a full range of movement, I have full confidence in the abilities of the Pivo Max for panning shots.

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and theClose up of the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

You're using the Pivo Max app to control the camera when shooting with a phone, and the options are more limited than most smartphone's camera functions. You can select exposure for your subject, or uncheck that option for the app to select brightness based on the entire frame. Basic self-timer modes are included, but otherwise, this is a point-and-shoot kind of experience. 

Naturally, it's easier to compose your shot using your phone's selfie camera, but if I wanted to use the better-quality front-facing camera I would happily rely on the Pivo Max's tracking capabilities, without needing to see the shot in real time on my phone's screen. 

Two areas for improvement would, as mentioned, be a tilt motion in addition to panning, and an auto tracking speed option. Otherwise, this is a super-useful accessory, and practically speaking, the zoom function somewhat makes up for the lack of tilt motion.

Overall, I can easily see an audience for the Pivo Max. It's a tad on the pricey side for what you're getting, but the value it can add to video production for solo content creators, together with its tiny form factor and quick setup, will allow many to justify the outlay. 

Pivo Max: price and release date

The Pivo Max is available now and costs $269.99 / £259.99 / AU$434.99. You'll need to buy a support separately, and Pivo sells an Essential kit for $369.99 / £354.99 / AU$594.99 that includes a tripod, although the Pivo Max can be mounted on any tripod or stand with standard 1/4-inch thread. I used a basic light stand for my testing. If you'd like to mount a camera, as well as a smartphone or tablet, you'll also need to pick up a phone-to-camera coldshoe adapter (included in the the Essential kit as well as the Starter kit that costs $299.99 / £284.99 / AU$484.99 that also contains a travel case and smart mount).

Should I buy the Pivo Max?

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Pivo Max

I had the Pivo Max on test for a lengthy period, and I used the motorized head mainly for solo talking-to-camera videos indoors, recording onto an Android smartphone. I've tried the various in-app settings, making adjustments to the tracking speed and subject detection options, and tested the various shooting modes. 

First reviewed December 2023

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