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A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You

A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You

– Partner Content – 

Wedding Photography Editing With Affinity


There are few more important times to impress your photography clients than when you’re shooting their wedding. Extraordinary, Instagrammable images are now the expectation rather than the exception, but given the unpredictable nature of a wedding day, sometimes a little help is needed to elevate a shot, turning it from good to great. This is where Affinity Photo comes into its own. With a full range of tools powerful enough for professionals, but easy enough for newcomers to pick up quickly, the subscription-free Affinity Photo has to be a serious consideration for any wedding photographer’s suite of tools, even if you’re working on an iPad. 


Create With Confidence

A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You 1


Thanks to its non-destructive editing process, Affinity Photo rewards experimentation without the danger of permanently ruining an image. You can play with the sliders, adjust your crop, exposure or contrast, and take a few risks, knowing that the original image is always there to roll back to if and when you need to. This freedom gives photographers the confidence to be creative, and step outside their comfort zone. The layers system, which will be familiar to anyone who has digitally edited images in the past, offers the creative freedom photographers are used to, along with a fully featured toolset to make the most of your clients’ precious images. 


Brighten Dull Days

A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You 2


A clear, sunny wedding day is at the top of most brides’ (and their photographers’) wish lists, but as the old football adage goes “can they do it on a wet Tuesday in Stoke?” Affinity Photo makes adding a little sunshine to a dull day simple. Whether you need add a little golden hour glow, a spectacular lens flare, or replace the entire sky, the tools are at your fingertips. Using a combination of the layers and live filters gives you the power to ramp up the impact of your images, and give your brides the wedding album they dreamed of, even if the weather on the day didn’t behave as everyone hoped. 


Retouch Like A Pro

A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You 3


When it comes to wedding portraits, soft and dreamy light is the order of the day, and Affinity Photo has you covered. Within the Live Filters menu, you will find a fantastically versatile Gaussian blur filter to enhance your brides’ natural beauty. By adding a soft glow, and a little warm light, you can elevate your images and blow your clients away. Use this in conjunction with the integrated Frequency Separation filter to further enhance skin and remove any blemishes, and you have a formidable set of retouching tools at your disposal to bring your creative vision to life. 


Love Your Luts

A Relationship Built To Last: Affinity Photo And You 4


With a fully-featured luts (presets) system (and a vibrant community of creators) Affinity Photo really becomes a sandbox for wedding photographers to try new looks. The software comes bundled with a range of luts ready to use out of the box, with thousands more available across the internet. Whether you’re looking for old-school film looks, cinematic edits, or something a little more off-kilter, you’ll find a wealth of new styles to really make your next wedding stand out. With all luts compatible with Affinity Photo on all platforms, it’s never been easier to get a consistent look across an entire shoot, whether you are editing in the studio or on the move. 


Bring Back Bokeh

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If you’re blessed with a bright, sunny day, and you’re forced to shoot with a slower aperture, you can easily lose out on all that dreamy bokeh that wedding clients love so much. With a little Affinity Photo trickery, you can easily bring back that gorgeous background blue, and really make your bridal portraits pop. By simply using the Depth Of Field live filter, you can draw attention to the area of the image you want, or hide distractions in plain sight, with natural looking, aesthetically pleasing bokeh.

With all of the above, and so many more features which wedding photographers of all persuasions will appreciate, it’s no surprise that Affinity Photo is rapidly gaining popularity with professionals who need a fully-featured, reliable suite of professional-grade tools, without committing to a subscription-based package. 

Affinity Photo v1.10 is out now, with no subscription. It’s received extensive performance tweaks, most importantly in adding greater efficiency when blending layers together, while retaining a non-destructive workflow – a key attribute that sets Affinity Photo apart from the competition.

The new approach also introduces some options to ensure editing speed remains slick even after building up a complex stack of hundreds of pixel and vector layers, and filter effects, while still maintaining the full layer stack.

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Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II doesn’t look different than its predecessor, and indeed it seems the main differences are improvements meant to make this 360-degree wireless speaker more versatile and practical. The brand improved the dust- and waterproofing of the device, achieving an IP55 rating, and Bose says that “water-resistant design means you can use it more places without worrying about an accidental showering of water, like by the pool or by the kitchen sink.” Bose also added an optional charging dock, another extra element of practicality.

The brand promises 13-hour battery life and a fulfilling musical experience: “A highly efficient transducer. Dual-passive radiators. An omnidirectional acoustic deflector. All of which simply means you’ll get lifelike sound… and real-life goosebumps.”

We put the Bose SoundLink Revolve II through our rigorous DXOMARK Wireless Speaker test suite. In this review, we will break down how it fared at audio playback in a variety of tests and several common use cases.

Key specifications include:

  • Bluetooth, 3.5 mm jack input, Micro-B USB port
  • 8.2 cm x 15.2 x 18.4 (width x height x depth)
  • 0.66 kg (1.45 pounds)
  • One full-range downward firing speaker, one omnidirectional acoustic deflector, and two passive radiators, left and right.

Test conditions:

  • Tested with Motorola G8 for music / Xiaomi Mi TV Box S for movies
  • Communication protocol used: Bluetooth for music / 3.5 mm jack input for movies
  • Firmware version: 3.0.4

About DXOMARK Wireless Speaker tests: For scoring and analysis in our wireless speaker reviews, DXOMARK engineers perform a variety of objective tests and undertake more than 20 hours of perceptual evaluation under controlled lab conditions. This article highlights the most important results of our testing. Note that we evaluate playback using only the device’s built-in hardware. (For more details about our Speaker protocol, click here.) The Bose SoundLink Revolve II falls into the Essential category of devices in the DXOMARK Speaker rankings.

Test summary

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 6Bose SoundLink Revolve II

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 7



From a global performance standpoint, the Bose SoundLink Revolve II’s score of 107 puts it in fairly good company, alongside the Amazon Echo 4th Gen, which had a score of 109, and between two other top competitors in our Essential Speakers category: the Google Nest Audio (112) and the Apple HomePod Mini (98).

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 9

The 360-degree approach of the Bose SoundLink Revolve II is designed to be optimal in the middle of a room or group.

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II performed well overall, with consistent timbre and dynamics performance no matter the orientation of the device. Upper spectrum timbre is good, with decent extension at nominal volume. Localizability is also good, assisted by the performance of the high frequencies. The balance is great — centered content is well rendered, and directivity is also great because the speaker fires in 360 degrees. In most use cases, voice distance rendering is good. The Revolve II has no artifacts at nominal and soft volumes. Another plus: when you use the jack to connect to video content, the audio-video latency is acceptable.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 10

In the bathroom and bedroom use cases, the Bose SoundLink Revolve II’s 360-firing impinges on distance rendering.

The drawbacks of the SoundLink Revolve II include midrange rendering that is slightly inconsistent, with a small lack of upper mids. At soft volume, tonal balance lacks some high-frequency content. At loud volume, on the other hand, tonal balance becomes very midrange-focused. In the bedtime and bathroom use cases, the 360-degree approach hinders distance rendering, with voices perceived as diffuse or as coming from the back of the device. Because of the setup, the device has no wideness (though Bose notes that it can be synched with a second device). Attack is not precise on high-pitched instruments, while the lack of a lower spectrum impairs both bass precision and punch.

Maximum volume is not loud enough, and the volume steps aren’t consistent overall. At loud volume, strong compression induces noticeable pumping. And the Bluetooth connectivity comes with an audio-video latency that makes it less than ideal for watching video content.

Sub-scores explained

The DXOMARK Speaker overall score of 107 for the Bose SoundLink Revolve II is derived from a range of sub-scores. In this section, we will take a closer look at these audio quality sub-scores and explain what they mean for the user, and we will show some comparison data from two of the SoundLink’s principal competitors, the LG  XBoom Go PL 7 and the Sony SRS-XB43.

Playback attribute comparisons

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 11


Bose SoundLink Revolve II



Harman Kardon Citation 200

Best: Harman Kardon Citation 200 (148)

DXOMARK timbre tests measure how well a speaker reproduces sound across the audible tonal range and takes into account bass, midrange, treble, tonal balance, and volume dependency.

Playback timbre comparison

The SoundLink Revolve II performed fairly well in the timbre attribute, with good trebles and high-end extension. The midrange is slightly inconsistent, however, with a slight lack of upper mids, along with low-mid resonances, especially when listening to podcast content. A lack of low-end extension slightly impairs tonal balance. On the plus side, the 360-degree firing design allows a consistent tonal balance whatever the orientation of the device. In quiet environments, our engineers observed a slight lack of upper spectrum content and clarity.

While watching movies, bass can become muddy, and low-mids are too prominent, masking the rest of the mix. And at loud volume, tonal balance becomes very midrange-focused, with metallic trebles. Bass and low-end extension is sorely missed at those higher volumes, which led to a lower score in the party use case.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 12


Bose SoundLink Revolve II



Harman Kardon Citation 200

Best: Harman Kardon Citation 200 (127)

Our dynamics tests measure how well a device reproduces the energy level of a sound source, taking into account attack, bass precision, and punch.

Playback dynamics comparison

When it comes to dynamics, the SoundLink Revolve II was below average. The attack was not very precise on high-pitched contents, and a strong lack of low-end impaired bass precision and punch in most use cases. But because the speaker is omnidirectional, at least attack and precision are consistent, whatever its orientation. In addition to the lack of low-end at loud volume, bass precision and punch are strongly affected by heavy compression. In the video-watching use case, overall dynamics performance was brought down by muddy bass.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 13
Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 14
Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 15


Bose SoundLink Revolve II



Bose Home Speaker 500

Best: Bose Home Speaker 500 (99)

Our spatial tests measure a speaker’s ability to reproduce stereo sound in all directions, taking into account localizability, balance, wideness, distance, and directivity. Please note that wideness is 0 on mono speakers and on speakers that cannot deliver a significant stereo effect.

Playback spatial comparison

Spatial is a bright spot for the Bose SoundLink Revolve II, with a good overall performance. Correct trebles and high-end extension — key for allowing the human ear to locate sounds — allows for decent localizability. Balance is great, respecting the position of centered elements. Good distance performance allows for a realistic placement of voices, except in the case of podcast content, where midrange resonances slightly impair voice-distance perception. Directivity is superb because of the 360-degree design of the device.

Voices seem to be coming from behind the device in the bedtime use case because of its omni-directionality, which also created a sense that voices were diffuse and resonating in the bathroom use case. It is worth noting that there is no wideness, also because of the device’s design.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 16
Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 17
Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 18


Bose SoundLink Revolve II



Yandex Station

Best: Yandex Station (136)

Our volume tests measure both the maximum loudness a speaker is able to produce and how smoothly volume increases and decreases based on user input.

Playback volume comparison

Playback volume consistency comparison

Volume was a low point for the Bose device. The maximum volume step is not loud enough when compared with similar-sized devices. And as shown in the graph above, volume steps are irregular. At low volumes, the increase in volume at each step is excessive. The last three volume steps at the high range don’t produce any change in loudness.

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 19

The Bose SoundLink Revolve II was not loud compared with similar-sized devices.

Here are a few sound pressure levels (SPL) we measured when playing our sample recordings of hip-hop and classical music at maximum volume:

Correlated Pink NoiseUncorrelated Pink NoiseHip-HopClassicalLatinAsian Pop
Bose SoundLink Revolve II73.4 dBA73.6 dBA72.5 dBA72.6 dBA73.9 dBA68.7 dBA
LG XBoom Go PL 785.6 dBA83.5 dBA81.9 dBA76 dBA82.5 dBA75.4 dBA
Sony SRS-XB4388.9 dBA86 dBA86.2 dBA78.5 dBA87.1 dBA79.7 dBA
Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 20


Bose SoundLink Revolve II



JBL Xtreme 3

Best: JBL Xtreme 3 (123)

Our artifacts tests measure how much source audio is distorted when played back, along with such other sound artifacts as noise, pumping effects, and clipping. Distortion and other artifacts can occur both because of sound processing and because of the quality of the speakers.

Playback artifacts comparison

The SoundLink Revolve II produced few artifacts overall, earning a solid score in this attribute. At soft to nominal volumes, in fact, it produces no artifacts at all. At louder volumes, however, strong compression induces noticeable pumping. While watching television, audio is quite delayed when the video uses Bluetooth, but latency is acceptable when using the jack to connect to the sound source.

Playback total harmonic distortion

Bose SoundLink Revolve II Speaker review: Built for mobility 21

Because of Bluetooth-induced latency, using the 3.5 mm jack input for watching movies is a better choice.


Some of the Bose SoundLink Revolve II’s strengths lie in it design: it’s a small, highly portable, 360-degree-firing speaker that produces decent results in several attributes, especially at low and nominal volumes. Its timbre is pretty good in the upper spectrum, and it produces good localizability, great balance, and few artifacts at low volumes. When connected with its built-in jack to an audio source, latency isn’t a problem for watching video content. But this isn’t a party speaker. Its maximum volume isn’t as loud as other similarly-sized speakers. And at loud volumes, the tonal balance becomes very midrange-focused, with metallic trebles and a strong lack of bass. Bass precision and punch are really affected by the lack of lower spectrum, and those two attributes are also affected by compression that occurs at high volumes.


  • Good upper-spectrum timbre at lower volumes
  • Good localizability and distance performances
  • No artifacts at low and nominal volumes
  • Audio-video latency not a problem when using the jack


  • Inconsistent midrange, with a lack of upper-mids
  • Not loud enough at maximum volume
  • No wideness, as it’s not a stereo device.
  • Bass precision and punch are impaired at higher volumes.

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How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 22

Why does someone build their own camera? Maybe for technical reasons, usability enhancements, or perhaps personal style and artistic outlook. The raison d’ètre for the experimental camera I made here falls somewhere between all of the above.

The prototyping process, over the last few years, has been about creating a tool that enables some of my own photographic ideas to be more readily realized, overcoming some creative limitations evident in “off the rack” systems such as the lack of truly fluid movements in hand-held full-frame setups.

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 25
Dynamic long exposure, from series “Taikai no yo,” Lanzarote, 2018

In my art, I’m interested in gaining a greater understanding of how light interacts with the medium (and thus the observer’s eye) – creating images that use perspective and light control for specific visual purposes. I will show what I mean by this below, but first, let’s look at the camera in question, and talk about its short history, as I’d like to make this a “gear” as much as an “art” post.

I started in photography before digital sensors became widely popular. 35mm, medium, and large format (LF) were my go-to tools, with the latter, especially, offering great control over perspective, feel, and “form” of an image. When full-frame digital mirrorless cameras became available, I began looking for a solution that would, somehow, replicate the perspective control possibilities of LF in a portable, hand-held, and dynamic form factor. There wasn’t much to be found in the market, hence the idea was born to build my own, based on Sony e-Mount hardware.

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 28
First digital view camera iteration (Mk.I, on Lanzarote rocks) next to modern wooden field camera

The spec was deceptively simple: the camera should be portable, have full movements, use large format lenses for their extremely large image circles and thus sensor coverage, and do so without endlessly fiddly buttons.

Imagine the strange love child of a free lensing setup – a Lensbaby and an LF monorail (but handheld) – and you will understand how the prototype works. The first iteration of the camera is shown in the above image, next to the wooden Shenhao field camera that inspired it. They have radically different appearances but identical possibilities of tilt/shift/swing – if you ignore the difference in film size (LF or roll film vs. full-frame digital) and the “grip it, unlock it, and just tilt it” operation of the first prototype model.

Also, front standard movements were only possible by tilting the entire rig and adjusting the back standard, which in practice is not a limitation. The “Susokukan” and “Wavefront” series, some images of which appear later in this article, were created with this basic first version of the camera.

The above prototype was made with selective laser sintering (SLS) of Nylon powder and Alumide. I engineered and modeled everything with Rhinoceros3D. The current version is just Nylon, albeit printed on a multijet fusion (MJF) printer that sinters by use of binder fluids and heat lamps. The design of Mk. II is locally too thin to be robustly printed on more standard fused deposition printers (the “hot plastic toothpaste” variety common to us DIY folks). Unfortunately, I don’t own an SLS or MJF machine, so the printing was done by commercial vendors.

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 31
Current digital view camera iteration (Mk. II)
How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 34
Exploded digital prototype assembly view (Mk.II)

Pictured above is the current camera variant and its digital source data, hand-held as it is supposed to be used and with a Sony A7r mounted. In marked contrast to the first iteration, it’s now a “duo-rail” camera made of (stock) carbon rails, plastic bearings, sintered Nylon, hand-cut glued Neoprene (for the bellows), and some stock aluminum rig parts with a magnet rack focus latch lock mechanism for easier operation. The entire camera now consists of modular assemblies, which gives much greater flexibility in adapting to new experimental setups – and without having to reprint large parts of the camera when some subassembly changes (e.g. when adding new lens mounts).

As LF lenses have no internal helical, it’s rack focusing only, just like LF cameras. The eagle-eyed will notice that there is a different lens mounted in this shot than in the introductory one – that is a Schneider Apo-Symmar 120mm f/5.6, as opposed to the previous Rodenstock Grandagon 75mm f/4.5. These lenses are attached to custom bayonet mount cones, doing away with the standard LF lens boards as still used in Mk. I and allowing space for some custom operable ‘stray light ports’ (the oval openings next to the Copal shutter). Basically, you can mount (and thus perspective control) any lens, with LF lenses from 75mm to 120mm most commonly used by me, but the occasional full-frame (e.g. vintage wide angle shift-only Nikkors) and medium format lenses (e.g. a Zodiak-8 fisheye) thrown in for good measure – as LF superwides are not usable with current digital sensors (rays too oblique!) and flange focal distance limitations (you’ll hit the mount at infinity!).

Now, this was a lot of tech talk. Why even bother doing this?

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 37
Madrid, 2019, El Matadero

There is a range of stylistic opportunities the camera unlocks that are very hard to reproduce in post or with any other setup that I’ve used. I’ll briefly describe some of these effects, and their motivation, in this final section- beginning with the above image, shot at night in Madrid’s El Matadero.

This is pure dynamic swing and tilt, capturing people drifting in and out of thin slivers of projected light, which is hard to do “organically” with classic tilt/shift lenses and without a tripod, but achievable hand-held with a dynamic one. The lens used was a Zodiak-8 medium format fisheye, which doesn’t exist as a tilt/shift version on standard mounts.

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 40
Berlin, 2019-2020, from series “Object Permanence”

Besides “normal” lens movements, introducing artificial flares and light leaks through the extra mount ports offers additional expression, as visible in the above diptych. Artifacts, errors, and glitches created in-camera only, when combined with perspective and focus control, render images slightly uncanny, almost self-aware, as if an echo of their making has imprinted itself into the final output.

To me, the chaos of breathing focus and stray light (all body movements directly translate into the images) ultimately makes each frame completely irreproducible, immediate, and directly linked to the position of my body in relation to the scene – a subjective record of having existed “then and there.” It was shot with 90mm and 75mm large-format Grandagons, and a Nikkor PC 28mm full-frame lens.

How and Why I Built My Own Bellows-Style Dynamic Digital View Camera 43
Myoshin-Ji Temple, Kyoto, 2017, from series “Susokukan”

The root of the more recent images, perhaps, is a set of series shot from 2017 to 2019; these frames use what some people would call “intentional camera movement” and long exposure to combine scene and body movement into dynamic stills. “Susokukan,” or breath-counting meditation, is a term used in Zen meditation. The series was created during visits to Zen gardens in Kyoto and the “intentional” movement is actually just focused breathing, translated into long exposure traces of light.

As opposed to fixed lens cameras, the lens and sensor here moved independently in relation to the scene, which renders slightly more unusual results. To me, especially in meditation, this has always been an analogy to how the mind’s eye can float away from objective seeing, and instead focus on an ambivalent space that is neither internal nor external. It was shot with a 75mm large-format Grandagon.

Thank you for reading this far, and I hope you have enjoyed the images. You can find more of my work via the links below. Contact me for prints or exhibition inquiries, should you be interested. I also do regular custom printing.

About the author: Max C Doelling is an environmental engineer, former architect, and artist and has published photography under the domain for more than a decade. He works and lives in Berlin, and engineers cultural buildings all across the globe during the daytime. You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram, and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Sony built a tiny mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor inside

Sony built a tiny mirrorless camera with a full-frame sensor inside

Attaching high-end lenses to a tiny camera  looks slightly awkward.

Attaching high-end lenses to a tiny camera looks slightly awkward. (Sony /)

At first glance, Sony’s new A7C camera would fit right in with the company’s mid-level A6000-series cameras. Instead of a smaller APS-C sensor inside, however, Sony has crammed the full-frame sensor (the same size as a frame of 35mm film) from the A7 III into a more compact, rangefinder-style body.

Compared to the rest of its full-frame A7 siblings, the A7C is roughly 20-percent smaller, which makes it very close to the consumer-oriented A6600. It’s not the smallest full-frame mirrorless camera on the market—that title goes to Sigma’s curious fp—but Sony has included a 5-way image stabilization system built around the sensor, which takes up some extra space.

The sensor is the same 24.2-megapixel chip you’ll find in the A7 III, paired with the BIONZ X image processor, all of which is familiar territory for full-frame Sony offerings. With that coupling, you also get 693 phase-detect autofocus points to enable face tracking for both people and animals.

The viewfinder has moved over to the top left corner of the body—the A7 line puts it at the top where the prism would be on a DSLR. The viewfinder display isn’t mind-blowing; it has a 2.4 million dot resolution and 0.59x magnification.

The top of the camera has a mode dial, hot shoe, exposure compensation dial, and a video record button. Notice the lack of pop-up flash.

The top of the camera has a mode dial, hot shoe, exposure compensation dial, and a video record button. Notice the lack of pop-up flash. (Sony /)

There are some other compromises that you’ll have to make for that small size, as well. There’s only one memory card instead of a pair, which makes sense for an entry-level camera, but isn’t ideal for anyone who might want to do some professional work with it.

A camera like this will clearly appeal to YouTubers, and Sony has given it some popular features handy for frequent video makers. It can charge via USB while you’re shooting, and the 3-inch touchscreen display flips out and rotates around so you can see what you’re shooting when the camera is pointed at your own face.

Video recording modes top out at 4K 30P, so if you’re hoping to shoot at 60P, you’re out of luck. (With a large-sensor camera that is this small, however, one has to imagine that heat dissipation would be an issue while trying to capture UHD footage at a higher rate.) However, you can crank the frame rate up to 100 for slow-motion shooting if you don’t mind dropping down to 1080p HD.

At $1,799, it’s more than a $500 jump up from the A6600, which isn’t a small price to pay for a bigger sensor. That extra silicon real estate, however, will likely translate into better low-light performance and more pronounced depth-of-field effects.

That price point also puts it in direct competition with Fujifilm’s quirky-but-powerful X-Pro3. They both employ a similar rangefinder design and comparable resolution.

The A7C is just slightly bigger than the A6600.

The A7C is just slightly bigger than the A6600. (Sony/)

In addition to its new small body, Sony also announced a new super-compact 28-60mm lens. As you might expect, it has a relatively small variable aperture that ranges from f/4-f/5.6 as you zoom in. Unfortunately, all those internal electronics didn’t leave room for a built-in pop-up flash (there is a hot shoe for attaching an accessory flash), which would have come in handy with a relatively slow lens.

It will be interesting to see how well this fits into the rest of Sony’s camera lineup. You can get a more robust A73 for just $200 more, and that’s at full retail price. The A73 is noticeably bigger, but the second card slot and improved weather-sealing are important for those buying it for work reasons.

We will also have to wait and see what this means for smaller-sensor cameras going forward. Olympus and Panasonic have both recently expressed their commitment to the much-smaller Micro Four Thirds format, but Canon’s EOS-R and Nikon’s first-generation Z mirrorless cameras have seriously come down in price. Those companies also seem very committed to the 35mm format.

Expect to see full-frame cameras continue to shrink, especially if Sony sells a ton of these.

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Sony’s long-awaited A7S III is built for shooting high-res video in the dark

Sony’s long-awaited A7S III is built for shooting high-res video in the dark

Sony's A7S III got some slight design tweaks from its previous version.

Sony’s A7S III got some slight design tweaks from its previous version. (Sony /)

Since its debut back in 2014, Sony has built its A7S line of cameras specifically for absurd low-light performance. This week, the company announced the most recent installment, the A7S III. Like its predecessors, it offers just 12 megapixels of resolution on a new custom-built sensor. And while it won’t be winning any megapixel wars—especially against cameras like Canon’s recently announced 45-megapixel EOS R5—Sony’s latest offering looks like a monster when it comes to video and shooting in the dark.

Here are some of the highlights from one of Sony’s most impressive cameras yet.

A new custom sensor

From a hardware standpoint, Sony has made some notable changes regarding the chip that actually handles the light collecting in the A7S III. The resolution remains at 12 megapixels, just like the previous iterations, which gives the photo sites lots of room to spread out. Bigger photo sites can collect more light before hitting their limits, which typically translates into cleaner images shot in low light. You can push the A7S III’s ISO setting all the way up to 409,000, but we’ll have to wait for production samples to see how usable they remain before too much digital noise creeps in.

The sensor is now backside-illuminated, which is a structural change regarding the actual sensor assembly. BSI chips typically also improve low-light performance, which is why you often see them in tiny smartphone sensors that struggle with digital noise. I wouldn’t expect the switch to BSI to make an enormous difference all on its own, but if you’re building a camera to shoot in the dark, it’s a logical jump to make.

That 12-megapixel resolution has other functions beyond keeping the pixels large—it’s also specifically good for shooting video. The A7S II can shoot “native” 4K footage, which means it’s using essentially the entire sensor on a pixel-by-pixel basis to shoot 4K video. Other cameras with higher resolution sensors typically resort to “pixel binning,” which involves grouping pixels together to act as a single pixel to make up for the resolution disparity. Other manufacturers simple crop into the sensor and only use an area in the center that’s large enough to produce a 4K image. That’s not ideal because it changes the view from your lenses and makes it difficult to capture wide-angle shots.

Sony considers this a hybrid camera and it will certainly shoot beautiful stills, but 12 megapixels for still shooting feels low here in 2020, especially considering that cameras with smaller sensors such as the Fujifilm X-T4 offer more than double. And while resolution isn’t everything, even a 5K monitor—which are readily available on the market right now—checks in at nearly 15 megapixels at its native resolution, which already outpaces the A7S II’s native-pixel count. The images will still look beautiful if they’re well-captured, but as we move toward 8K displays, resolution matters.

Dedicated white balance sensor

The touch screen now plays a more important role in navigating the menus.

The touch screen now plays a more important role in navigating the menus. (Sony /)

Cameras constantly monitor all kinds of variables in a scene, one of which is color temperature. Sony equipped the A7S III with a dedicated color-temperature sensor on the outside of the body. That’s atypical for high-end modern cameras. Sony says it will help prevent odd color shifts during video shooting when something suddenly pops into the frame and changes the overall tones within the scene.

New menu system

Sony’s menu systems have received ample, well-deserved criticism through the history of the A7 line. They’re somewhat difficult to navigate and the arrangement can be downright confusing in certain cases. Now, however, Sony has revamped its menu system to make common functions easier to find in a hurry. The A7S III employs a rotating touch screen for poking through the menus. It looks promising—and a whole lot more modern—compared to the previous version.

Dual-format card slots

Professional shooters typically want two card slots in a camera. Cards fail and having a backup can be a lifesaver. Sony put a pair of card slots in the A7S III, but each slot can accept two different kinds of memory cards: UHS-II SD and the newer CF Express Type A. Other manufacturers such as Canon sometimes mix up card formats in the same camera. The EOS R5, for instance, has both an SD card slot as well as a slot for CFexpress cards. It’s less flexible than Sony’s hybrid option.

The kind of card you actually need depends on what sort of video footage you’re hoping to capture. If you’re trying to max out resolution, bit rate, and frame rate all at the same time, you’re going to need screaming fast memory just to keep up. If you’re trying to shoot 10-bit XAVC HS at 120 fps and 280 Mbps, speed is essential. If you don’t know what any of that means, you’re probably OK dialing down the quality and sticking with typical cards, at least for the moment.

Cooling for longer recording

The Canon EOS R5 made a big splash with its 8K video recording modes. Since then, however, controversy has emerged from the camera’s tendency to overheat after a period of time. That’s due in part to oversampling its 4K footage with that big high-res sensor. The Sony avoids that issue with its 12-megapixel chip.

Cinema cameras like those used on big movie sets typically have internal cooling systems that include fans to help displace heat that comes from hardworking components inside. The A7S III doesn’t have any fans, but it does have passive cooling material to pull heat away from the critical components. That allows it to record for longer consecutive bursts without needing a break.

Sony has had some trouble with overheating in the past, especially if you’re shooting outdoors in the sun. But, the company claims some considerable improvements here, which should mean more uptime.

Two card slots can both accept SD UHS-II or CFexpress cards.

Two card slots can both accept SD UHS-II or CFexpress cards. (Sony /)

Lots of video recording options

If you’re not plugged into the latest and greatest video recording formats, the A7S III’s spec sheet may look impossible to parse. It offers many of the common high-bitrate video formats professionals want when shooting on productions. When it comes to 4K, it offers XAVC S (H.264) and XAVC HS (H.265), both at various frame rates, bit depths, bit rates, and sampling rates. There are more options and you can dig into them on the official spec list, but it’s suffice to say that it’s beastly when it comes to recording modes. It can even pass 4K/60 footage at 16-bit depth to an external recorder if you really want to max things out.

How does it compare?

In terms of competition, the $3,500 price tag puts it in the same conversation as Canon’s EOS R5—but the two are really very different cameras. A better comparison lies in the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H, which costs $500 more, but offers a 24-megapixel sensor, higher-resolution rear screen, and 6K Raw video output to a recorder.

We’re eager to see how the low-light and video performance will look once production models are available. For now, however, the $3,000 to $4,000 segment of the camera market is as exciting as it has been in a long time. It’s also vastly more interesting than cheaper segments of the market.

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