Pentax Q's up mirrorless system…

With their 645D offering a revolutionary balance of cost, features and usability for the medium format world, and the K-5 16Mp DSLR offering a flexible blend of enthusiast and professional features, Pentax is already blurring the distinctions between the genres traditional camera manufacturers exploit. The new Q system announced today further moves the boundaries, by offering that rare package of a compact sensor with interchangeable lenses. The new Q mount is served by a range of five lenses at launch, and this initial camera sports a 1/2.33″ Backlit CMOS sensor delivering 12.4Mp resolution and specced for a maximum ISO 6400. At 200g it’s undoubtedly a light body, yet that small sensor could well be offputting in a camera that’s likely to exceed a £500 list price.

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Fuji use Backlit CMOS in raw G12-beater

The FujiFilm FinePix F550 EXR is the first serious competitor to the Canon G-series for professional backup shooting and travel, with 16 megapixels of back-illuminated (Sony but Fujifilm diagonally aligned matrix?) CMOS and raw shooting along with a massive zoom range, stabilisation, high ISO sensitivity, full HD at 30fps in a user-friendly .MOV format, GPS data recording, and various multishot modes including HDR. It’s also very favourably priced.

The FinePix F550 is available today from leading photographic retailers nationwide, with a list price of £329. Note to readers: our links to B&H lead to far more detailed specifications and feature lists than Fuji’s own press info.

New Backside Illuminated CMOS
Thanks to the hybrid sensor, the FinePix F550 EXR delivers fast, high-quality results in a wide range of lighting conditions. The EXR processing engine uses a combination of a bespoke 16-megapixel Back Side Illuminated CMOS sensor (BSI-CMOS) and Fujifilm’s new triple-core EXR processor, to deliver superior results, particularly in low light conditions – plus high-speed shooting facilities and Full HD movie capture. The sensitivity range is from 100-3200 EI, and the filesize options include 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios in three pixel densities.

Users can still select from three different EXR shooting modes, or can allow the FinePix F550 EXR to choose the best option by selecting Auto EXR (it’s an orange setting not green on that dial, too).

  • EXR High Resolution mode utilises the full 16-megapixel resolution of the sensor for high quality results that can be printed out at A3-size, and without the need for any re-sizing by software.
  • EXR Dynamic Range mode employs dual capture-technology to provide a dynamic range of up to 1600% – almost a full stop wider than any other camera. Two images are captured at different exposures and are then merged to produce superb results on high-contrast scenes.
  • EXR Signal to Noise mode utilises Pixel Fusion, pairing pixels to increase sensitivity. Coupled with the BSI sensor technology, this mode delivers superb images in low lighting conditions.

RAW image capture
With the ability to shoot in RAW or JPEG format (or both simultaneously), the F550 EXR has appeal for stock photography, wedding candids and professional backup generally. It remains to be seen whether Alamy puts it on the approved or rejected list – bear in mind the Canon S90 type models are blacklisted when nearly identical G-series models are accepted. Both shoot raw and have similar sensors. Will the Fuji lens be up to the mark?

GPS embedding
Regardless of where you are in the world, the FinePix F550 EXR will recognise your location and display it either as longitude and latitude co-ordinates or by place name – thanks to the camera’s embedded list of locations. A tag is placed on the image which can then be easily searched for, allowing shots of a specific location or point of interest to be found quickly and by name.

Additional functionality is also provided by the Photo Navigation mode, allowing users to find their way back to where a particular photo was taken. The FinePix F550 EXR can store location data every 10 minutes* and, once the images are downloaded to a PC, a map of the route along with the pictures taken along the way can be created using Google Maps.
* Anytime On or Only Power On must be selected for data to be logged.

Keep up with the action
At the full 16-megapixel resolution, the FinePix F550 EXR is capable of delivering up to 8 frames per second for up to 8 frames – and without compromising picture quality (note: some websites state 3 frames and 3 fps). Select the Best Frame Capture mode and the FinePix F550 EXR automatically starts recording images the moment the shutter release is half-pressed and focus locked. Once the picture has been taken, the F550 EXR records the seven frames before or after the shutter was fully released to allow the choice of at least one shot that’s (hopefully, as in our experience both rarely coincide) pin sharp and perfectly framed.

Huge zoom range, tiny camera
Despite having a body that measures only 22.9mm deep, the f/3.5-5.3 zoom lens range extends from a wide-angle setting of 24mm through to 360mm (35mm equivalents) giving users a huge range of shooting options. Image quality and sharpness is also assured thanks to the combination of a high quality Fujinon lens and the new triple core EXR processing engine that automatically reduces colour fringing and boosts corner resolution for uniform image sharpness.

Triple Stabilisation tactics
Using longer focal lengths can cause camera shake, but the FinePix F550 EXR has its bases covered on three fronts. First, the sensor moves to counter any hand movements. Second, sensitivity is boosted using Pixel Fusion to allow faster shutter speeds, and third, users can select Advanced Anti-blur when in EXR Auto mode giving a sequence of four images which are then combined to provide one, shake-free result.

Full HD video
The FinePix F550 EXR records videos in Full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second, with stereo sound, and outputs the files in H.264 (MOV) format. Fuji’s EXR Signal to Noise mode is now also available when shooting Full HD videos, using Pixel Fusion Movie technology to fuse pixels together for extra sensitivity, and therefore much crisper low-light videos with lower levels of noise.

The F550 EXR also offers a class-leading selection of high-speed video capture options including a class-leading 320 frames per second capture at 320 x 100 pixels.

Fujifilm also offers a second model, the F500 EXR with a similar specification – excluding the GPS and RAW capture capabilities – and in the same super slim design but in a range of five stylish colours.

The Fujifilm FinePix F550 is available now for £329 in black.
The Fujifilm FinePix F500 is available now in a choice of five colours for £279.

Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR key features:
•        All-new 16 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor
•        15x optical zoom covering 24-360mm (35mm equivalent)
•        3.0 inch rear LCD with 460,000 pixel and new Rich User Interface using Vector fonts and graphics
•        GPS functionality
•        RAW shooting
•        Advanced Anti-blur technologies
•        1600% wide dynamic range
•        Full resolution high speed shooting at 8fps
•        Full HD movie capture (H.264 MOV file format)
•        Advanced 27 scene mode EXR Auto
•        Film simulation modes
•        360° Motion Panorama mode
•        Photobook Assist function

Canon release new Final Cut Pro converter

Canon today announces the latest update for EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro – the company’s custom-developed software application that provides quicker and easier editing of EOS Movie footage in Apple’s Final Cut Pro software suite.

Launching to coincide with the start of the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas, EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro version 1.2 will make the importing of EOS Movie files even easier, allowing users to transfer files from any folder, without needing to mirror the folder structure on the camera itself.

The update also enables smoother importing from Canon’s EOS 7D, EOS 5D Mark II and EOS-1D Mark IV models, allowing users to import footage without requiring the THM file generated by the camera.

Originally launched in February 2010, EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro is designed to quickly and seamlessly convert EOS Movie footage from Canon’s leading range of EOS DSLR cameras to Apple’s high-quality ProRes 422 codec. The plug-in allows users to convert footage at approximately twice the speed of Apple’s standard conversion, creating a smoother workflow for the rapidly growing number of videographers shooting HD video content on DSLR cameras.

EOS Movie Plug-in-E1 for Final Cut Pro version 1.2 will be available to download for free from 25th April 2011.