Posts with «cameras & photography» label

Fujifilm launches its first wide-format Instax Link smartphone printer

Fujifilm has revealed a new Instax printer that supports its wider, more Polaroid-like film. The Instax Link Wide Smartphone printer is designed to connect to your smartphone over Bluetooth and print out camera roll photos that are twice as wide as the credit card-sized images from the original Instax mini Link printer. It also allows you to directly transfer and print images from Fujifilm's X-S10 mirrorless camera, with no need for a smartphone. 

As before, the new printer runs on batteries and can do about 100 Instax prints on a charge. You can choose from two printing modes, "Instax Rich, accentuating deep, warm colors, and Instax Natural, which emphasizes the inherent tones of the image," according to Fujifilm. You can also use the Instax Link app, which offers around 30 filters, collages, text, digital stickers and frame templates, while letting you import and add handwritten text and sketches to a photo. 

The Instax Link Wide Smartphone printer supports Fujifilm's wide-format film, which costs $20 for a pack of 10 — also used by its Instax 300 Wide camera. In addition, Fujifilm introduced a new black-bordered version of Instax Wide film, available at $22 for a ten-pack. The Instax Link Wide Smartphone Printer arrives later this month for $149.95

Adobe is bringing Camera Raw editing to Photoshop on the iPad

Ahead of its Max conference on October 26th, Adobe has shared a preview of a feature that’s coming to Photoshop on the iPad, and it’s a big one. You'll soon be able to use its Camera Raw tool to import RAW files from your camera to the iPad. 

You can use the tool to import any file format Camera Raw currently supports. That includes the ProRAW files that Apple iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro can output. Once you’ve loaded an image, you have access to all the usual adjustments you’ll find on the desktop version of Camera Raw, allowing you to tweaks things like the exposure and color of your photo.

One nifty new feature is that it’s possible to import your RAW file as a Smart Object into Photoshop. That means you can add your image to a PSD, open the resulting file in Photoshop desktop and still have access to the embedded file and adjustments. Adobe says Camera Raw is coming to Photoshop on the iPad soon. In the meantime, we’ll likely see the company preview more upcoming features for its various apps at Adobe Max later this month.

Panasonic's BS1H is a box-style camera with a full-frame sensor

In 2020, Panasonic announced the BGH1, its first-ever box-style camera. The company took the internals of its well-liked Micro Four ThirdsGH5S and rehoused them in a body better suited for video production workloads. Almost exactly one year later, Panasonic has announced the DC-BS1H. Like its predecessor, this latest release from the company takes an existing Panasonic camera, the full-frame S1H, and puts it in a new body.

At the heart of the BS1H is a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that can capture footage at up to a 6K resolution. Specifically, it’s capable of recording 6K video at up to 24 frames per second, 5.4K at 30 frames per second with a 3:2 crop and 5.9K at 30 frames per second with a 16:9 framing. Panasonic claims the BS1H’s sensor features more than 14 stops of dynamic range and the inclusion of both an optical low pass filter a Dual Native ISO feature help reduce moire and digital noise.

But if you’re looking at a box-style camera for yourself, you want one for the added connectivity options the format promises. On the front, the BS1H is no slouch. Notably, it includes a USB 3.1 Type-C connection, an HDMI Type-A port and a 3G serial digital interface. It’s also possible to connect 12 BS1H cameras together to create a multi-camera setup. Additionally, you’ll find the usual assortment of 3.5mm and XLR microphone connections, on top of a LAN port. Oh, and it comes with dual SD card slots for worry-free redundancy.

Panasonic will sell the DC-BS1H for $3,500 when it becomes available in November.

Canon created a dual fisheye lens for its new VR video system

Canon has made a surprising product announcement, revealing a dual, RF mount fisheye lens that's part of an all-new system called EOS VR. Its aim is nothing less than to transform VR and AR production by making workflow simpler than current systems, while delivering the quality of a full-frame mirrorless camera. 

The key product is the $1,999 RF5.2mm F2.8 L Dual Fisheye manual lens designed specifically to mount on Canon's 8K-capable EOS R5 camera. It's a highly unusual looking product, to say the least, with two bulging fisheye lenses mounted side by side. They're placed approximately 60mm (24 inches) apart to match human interpupillary distance and provide comfortable parallax for VR and AR. 

The lenses project two circular images onto the EOS R5's 45-megapixel sensor. They support 190-degree capture, allowing for delivery of stereoscopic 180-degree 3D footage or photos at up to 8,192 x 4,096 resolution for AR or VR applications.

Canon

The lens has some unusual features, like a ring that focuses both lenses at once and an Allen screw adjustment that lets you tweak the focus of one lens to precisely match the other. Otherwise, you get features typically found in high-end Canon L RF mount glass, like coatings to control flare and ghosting, dust and water-resistant sealing and a solid F2.8 to F16 aperture range. Despite the odd looks, the lens is fairly compact and not much larger than Canon's 35mm F1.8 lens. 

The lens is just one part of the equation, though. Canon is working on a firmware update for the R5 with new features to support the lens and EOS VR system. That includes MF peaking and manual focus confirm via Canon's Dual Pixel autofocus system, along with a "Magic Window" UI that helps user plan for delivery to different types of headsets.

In addition, Canon made its own EOS VR Utility and EOS VR Plugin apps, each available by subscription for $5 per month. The VR Utility app flips the stereo images left to right and converts them from circular to an "equirectangular" square image that can be viewed on a VR headset. It also offers quick editing tools like trimming of clips and application of a LUT, while letting you change to preset resolutions and file types (DPX, Pro Res, H264, etc.) prior to export.

Canon

There's also the EOS VR plug-in for Adobe Premiere that "will convert the dual fisheye imagery to equirectangular, while allowing the ability to cut, color, and edit with the full control of Premiere Pro," Canon told Engadget. It also lets you export footage to the desired spec for different types of delivery.

The system can be used for weddings, journalism, sports, training, events and more, while offering a number of advantages over current VR cameras. To start with, it's designed to deliver quality superior to standalone VR cameras with smaller lenses and sensors like the $5,000 Insta360 Pro 2. At the same time, you get all the R5's tools like log shooting, RAW capture, 10-bit video and more. And when you're not using the VR lens, the R5 can be used for regular video production or photo shoots, unlike dedicated VR cameras. 

At the same, the production process is simpler and cheaper than with dual cameras used in higher-end productions. Those cameras must be rigged, synced, focused and positioned correctly, with the end result being two files in many cases. Canon's EOS VR system, by contrast, delivers similar quality but offers focus and setup like a regular camera, while leaving you with a single file to edit at the end. 

The entire system isn't exactly cheap, considering you need to pay $1,999 for the lens and $3,899 if you don't already have an R5 camera, for a total of $5,898. However, considering how niche the lens is, it costs less than I expected. There's also the issue of R5 overheating that limits 8K recording times to 20 minutes, with a 10-minute recovery period. You can improve that by capturing 8K to an external Ninja V+ RAW recorder, but that'll add $1,500 to your cost.

Still, it looks very promising for VR, which has boomed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's been especially in-demand for business training and collaboration, which in turn requires content production. A lot of producers, particularly those who already have a Canon EOS R5, might be willing to jump into that type of work if Canon's new system is as easy to use as it promises.

DJI Mavic 3 drone leak details improved camera and a 46-minute flight time

DJI's upcoming Mavic 3 Pro drone may be a big upgrade over the last model, according to leaks from DroneDJ and Jasper Ellens seen by The Verge. It may have a significantly longer flight time along with not just one, but two cameras, including a telephoto model and one with a larger Four Thirds sensor. If accurate, the Mavic 3 would be highly desirable for cinematographers and aerial photographers when it arrives, reportedly later this year. 

Where the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom make you choose between a larger sensor or a 24-48mm equivalent zoom, the new model will offer both on one drone. It reportedly comes with two separate cameras, including a 20-megapixel, 24mm f/2.8-f/11 primary camera with a Four Thirds sensor, along with a 12-megapixel, 1/2-inch sensor secondary camera with a 160mm-equivalent telephoto lens.

#Mavic3 full manual and specs! Price: 1600. Date: 15 November. Smart controller, 15 km. 4/3 inch.@DroneXL1@geeksvana@dronedj@techdronemedia@DronewatchNL@DronefriendlyB@dronemodelismo@OsitaLV@DJIGlobalpic.twitter.com/2w1slWCOc2

— Jasper Ellens - 27 Leaks (@JasperEllens) September 23, 2021

A Four Thirds sensor would be a huge boon for aerial shooters, allowing for extra detail and a more cinematic look in general. Currently, shooting in that format requires a large, relatively expensive drone and in many cases, a separate camera like DJI's Zenmuse line or Panasonic's BGH1. At the same time, a second telephoto camera would make it more versatile.

It will also offer direct USB-C charging so you don't need to remove the battery. All of that will boost the weight a bit, up from 907g on the Mavic 2 Pro to 920g for the Mavic 3 Pro. Despite that bump from the extra camera and other new features, the Mavic 3 will be able to fly for 46 minutes, way up from the 31 minutes available on the Mavic 2. 

The Mavic 3 will apparently come in two flavors, a Pro and a Cine model, with the latter offering a built-in SSD and a "1Gbps Lightspeed Data Cable" option for faster transfers. It will also offer a new version of DJI's display-equipped Smart Controller allowing for video transmission over 15km, up from 10km on the Mavic 2 Pro. 

The Mavic 3 Pro will cost $1,600, both sources say, which is the same price as the current Mavic 2 Pro. Prices for the Cine model are less clear, but could run around $1,000 more — still a relative deal for such a high tech camera drone. Both are expected to arrive on November 15th. 

ProGrade undercuts Sony with its new CFexpress Type A camera memory cards

Sony introduced smaller CFexpress Type A memory cards with the launch of the A7S III mirrorless camera, offering a high speed (700MB/s read/800MB/s write) option for recording bursts or 4K/8K video. Unfortunately, Sony itself is the only manufacturer using that slot and actually selling memory cards, so it's charging through the nose. Luckily, ProGrade has just released its own model, the CFexpress Type A Cobalt, with the 160GB card running $330 — $70 less than Sony's 160GB card.

Pre-Order ProGrade CFexpress Type A Cobalt 160GB at B&H - $330

As a reminder, CFexpress Type A uses the same high-speed CFexpress technology as the type B cards, so the Cobalt card can deliver burst read/write speeds of 800MB/s/700MB/s and sustained write speeds of 400MB/s. That's considerably faster than what SD UHS II can do (burst read/write speeds up to 300MB/s), though slower than CFexpress Type B (1,750MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write). Still, it's easily fast enough to capture high-speed photo bursts without any stuttering, along with 8K or 4K 120p video. 

ProGrade

Only two cameras actually use the slot, Sony's A7S III and A1, and both have dual slots that can accept either SD UHS II or CFexpress Type A cards. If you own either of those cameras, though, you know that CFexpress Type A is much preferred as it supports all of those cameras' video formats and works better for high-speed bursts. The latter is key, as the A1 can shoot 50-megapixel RAW photos at up to 30 fps. 

With few camera models supporting CFexpress Type A, other third-party card manufacturers had yet to jump on board until now, though Delkin also announced cards that are coming soon. Sony charges $200 for the 80GB card a whopping $400 for the 160GB version, but you can now pre-order the ProGrade 160GB version for a more reasonable $330.

ZTE Axon 30 review: An 'invisible' selfie camera comes at a cost

ZTE’s family of devices is a little confusing at the moment. The Axon 30 is a direct sequel to the Axon 20, which was the first phone to feature an in-screen camera. However, the company has subsequently released the Axon 30 Pro and Ultra in some territories. So, weirdly, the vanilla Axon 30 is the last of the Axon 30 family to appear.

At $500, it’s also the cheapest — another attempt by ZTE to slide underneath the priciest smartphones around and offer a mixture of compelling features, albeit tempered by some compromises. The Axon 30’s headline feature is a much-improved under-display camera (UDC), which is almost invisible. It’s also a ZTE smartphone that’s launching in the US, which doesn’t always happen.

But with increasingly strong midrange phone competition from the likes of Samsung, OnePlus and Google, does ZTE’s Axon 30 offer more than just a hidden selfie camera?

So what’s all the fuss about that camera anyway? Well, the under-screen 16-megapixel selfie shooter on the $500 Axon 30 puts the one on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 to shame. ZTE’s implementation is imperceptible unless you really, really look for it. No punch hole, no notch, no pop-up camera.

In comparison, the Fold 3’s selfie cam has a pixelated effect that signposts where the camera is and ruins the whole effect. (Yes, in Samsung’s defense, there’s another front-facing camera on the Fold 3 when it’s closed and you’re using the smaller screen.)

The difference seems to be pixel density, or according to ZTE, the composition of them, with a “special pixel matrix” that ensures the screen appears at 400 PPI — double that found on the Axon 20. If the light catches the unit just right, then yes, you can see it. You’ll probably never notice it again.

There’s also a dedicated UDC chip that apparently works to keep the camera area looking consistent with the rest of the screen. To get a closer look, I used Oppo’s Find X3 Pro, which has a microscope phone camera — perfect for visually explaining what could otherwise get very technical.

Engadget, Mat Smith

As you can see, some pixels seem slightly smaller, or dimmer, than those surrounding them. In this close up you can see the outline of the UDC area, but at this magnification, it’s impressive that it doesn’t look more out of place. I’ll touch on the camera’s performance later, but spoiler: While it might look the part, it’s not quite capable enough.

The hidden sensor also complements the expansive 6.92-inch AMOLED screen, uninterrupted by the presence of any camera notches or holes. With a 2,460 x 1,080 resolution panel and 120Hz refresh rate, the Axon 30 is offering a flagship screen for mid-range prices. You can switch between 120 and 60Hz modes, with an automatic option letting the Axon 30 decide when to increase the frequency. On more expensive phones, like the OnePlus 9 Pro and the recently-announced iPhone Pro 13, there are more refresh rate options that dip even lower, but at this price, this seems like a fair compromise.

Leaving it on auto is probably the best fit for most folks, but the manual options are nice — especially as there seems to be a tangible battery life benefit to the lower setting.

The phone itself is pretty big but feels solid despite its plastic back. ZTE added a translucent reflective effect across the rear of the Axon 30, which I like. I’m less enamored with the giant camera unit, however, which protrudes a few millimeters from the phone, and is likely to be more easily dinged and scratched. Sadly, this design is now everywhere.

The screen might be comparable to a high-end phone, but there are some features that didn’t make the cut at this price, like wireless charging and certified resistance against dust and water.

Performance and software

Engadget, Mat Smith

There are further compromises. The Axon 30 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 processor — which is a little underpowered compared to the Snapdragon 880 and 880 Plus we’re seeing in flagship Android smartphones now.

But at $500, phones like the Pixel 5a (and its Snapdragon 765G chip) are a better comparison to make. The Axon 30 has a more powerful chip than Google’s latest device, though it’s hard to notice a difference in performance between the two.

The Axon 30 handled everything I threw at it, whether that was video streaming, Stadia or playing games on the phone itself. (The Stadia app did flag that the phone wasn’t officially supported, although it worked fine for me.) There was some visible slowdown when recording video at full 4K resolution, and hopping into the gallery, but otherwise, I didn’t have many complaints.

I also have to mention that the Axon 30 isn’t exactly great for 5G support in the US. It only works on T-Mobile’s midband 5G. If you’re on Verizon or AT&T, you’ll be relegated to 4G.

ZTE does know what it’s doing with smartphone power, though. The phone has a 4,200mAh battery that, when I turned the 120Hz refresh rate off, lasted a good two days of typical use before I needed to recharge. And when I did need to, it took hardly any time.

The Axon 30 supports incredibly fast charging speeds of up to 65W with the appropriate charger, which (thankfully) the phone comes with. ZTE estimates it can charge the phone to 100 percent in under an hour, but getting to 50 percent takes proportionately less time — around 20 minutes.

Software is pretty innocuous, which is generally a good thing. ZTE keeps pretty close to the stock Google experience. Its new MyOS 11 skin, based on Android 11, is pretty close to what you’d find on a Pixel. There are a few gesture quirks (shake the Axon 30 for the flashlight!) and a floating shortcut widget that can be minimized to the edges of the screen. It’s similar to Samsung’s Edge panel on its bigger phones. ZTE’s version is called Z-Pop and you can tweak the four shortcuts for system commands and app switching. That said, it’s not something that makes you think “Mmm what a memorable experience this is.”

Cameras

Engadget, Mat Smith

While the front-facing 16-megapixel camera is technically impressive, it doesn’t take great selfies. Don’t get me wrong, it shoots far better pics than the UDC on both Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Axon 20. The work done to pixel-bin for low light performance, as well as algorithms to help the camera ‘see’ through the AMOLED panel make this the best UDC so far. But it still offers up middling to poor photos. It’s a bit of a time warp, to be honest, giving me the kind of pictures I used to get on smartphones years ago. Details are fuzzy, and any strong backlighting leads to lens flares and washout.

There’s also an AI assist mode that doesn’t seem to help much — if anything, modes like brightness seem to wash out skin tones even further, and they’re a little gray to begin with. Even if you turn this off, images seem pretty unnatural.

I couldn't mask how disappointed I was in these selfies.
Engadget, Mat Smith

It does still capture enough detail to offer face unlock functionality if you prefer that method to fingerprint unlock. And yes, there’s also a fingerprint reader built into the screen. Face unlock worked fine for me nine times out of ten, and was plenty fast enough, but I used a combination of the two. Fingerprint unlock seemed more reliable in darker environments.

But what about the rest of the cameras? On the back, the Axon 30 has a four-camera array, led by a 64-megapixel Sony sensor. While you’ll mostly be taking pictures that fuse a lot of these pixels together for less noise and better performance in low-light, ZTE has kept the ability to take full-resolution stills if you want to. There’s also an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 5-megapixel macro camera and finally, a 2-megapixel depth sensor to aid your bokeh photography efforts and help with focus. You get up to 2x optical zoom, which is what you’d generally expect at this price point.

While shooting pictures with the Axon 30 during a family event, images of friends and family seemed particularly good. There is a softness to some shots, likely due to the photos being shrunk down from the 64-megapixel original, but the phone was able to handle most things I threw at it.

There’s a night mode — of course — but the Axon 30 takes pretty functional shots in low light without having to resort to using it. It did help further reduce noise and improve detail a little, but I’d also advise testing shots with AI mode on and off, as sometimes I found it meddled a little too heavily, especially with people as subjects.

And the macro camera isn’t worth your time. I suggest using the primary camera with zoom for generally better results in most situations. The problem with the macro camera seems to be that the phone has to be so close to the subject that it blocks a lot of light. That’s not great for detail-oriented photography.

Video camera modes are generally the same across most mid-range phones in recent years, and the Axon 30 isn’t hugely different. It can handle up to 4K at 60fps and a multi-camera mode lets you record from both the wide-angle and the primary camera at the same time, which is a nice trick we’ve occasionally seen on flagship phones. Due to sluggish autofocus, however, the recording quality isn’t great. If you’ve got a stable subject and good light, videos will generally come out nicely. At other times, you’ll struggle to record anything functional. Just because a phone can record 4K, it doesn’t mean you should.

Summary

Engadget, Mat Smith

With the Axon 30, ZTE has proved it can successfully camouflage its under-display camera. But that doesn’t mean it’s up to the task. Image quality from the secretive selfie lens really isn’t good enough, even if the implementation is impressive. Aside from that, the Axon 30 has a gorgeous, fluid screen and a decent rear camera setup. The lack of wider 5G support in the US is frustrating in a 2021 phone, but there is still a lot here for $500. The bigger challenge is that competition is tough in the middleweight phone arena. Google’s latest Pixel, the 5a, rings in at $450, and offers better-performing cameras, front and back. If you’re struggling to pick between the two, the decision loosely boils down to a bigger screen or better selfies.

OnePlus 9 phones get a 'Hasselblad Xpan' camera setting

OnePlus started using camera tech from Hasselblad in its latest flagship smartphones, the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro. It'll be some time before we see the full impact of that partnership in the form custom camera hardware. In the meantime, OnePlus is looking to bring more of a Hasselblad feel to its current phones. The latest software update for the 9-series handsets, which OnePlus has started rolling out, includes a setting that aims to replicate the look of Hasselblad's XPan film cameras.

The Xpan Mode includes an aspect ratio of 65:21 and a very wide mode with two focal lengths (30mm and 45mm). The image preview has the frame lines that you'd see through the lens of an XPan camera, OnePlus says, and after you take a shot, you can see an animation of negative film developing. There are two film simulation effects too — color and black and white — with Hasselblad working with OnePlus to create the latter.

The update looks to improve the phones' camera systems in other ways. OnePlus says it has updated the memory optimization solution and shortened the time it takes to launch the camera app by up to half. The company says it has reduced lag in previews and fixed over-sharpening in various auto mode situations. It also claims to have improved dynamic range in low-light conditions and bolstered the success rate when it comes to shooting moving objects, while reducing noise and optimizing HDR frame retrieving algorithms for some scenes.

OnePlus says the update includes some other improvements for OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, including wireless charging optimization and the latest Android security patch. The latest firmware also addresses some known issues and improves stability.

GoPro Hero 10 Black review: A big, invisible upgrade

Almost exactly 10 years go, we reviewed the GoPro HD Hero 2. It wasn’t the first flagship camera from the company, but I’d argue it was instrumental in bringing the GoPro to the attention of the general public. Back then, the maximum resolution was 1080p, photos topped out at 5-megapixel and it came shrouded in that iconic waterproof housing.

A decade later, the Hero 10 Black (revealed today) offers a whopping 5.3K max video resolution, 23-megapixel photos, no longer needs a waterproof housing (for most uses) and has a slew of fancy shooting modes that we couldn’t even have imagined three presidents ago.

Before we get to the review part, though, you likely want to know what else has changed. The headline feature is clearly the new GP2 processor. GoPro started using its homegrown chip, the GP1, a few years ago. Now, the second iteration is here and brings with it a boost in frame-rates across the board (5.3K at 60; 4K at 120 and 2.7K at 240 to name a few).

Even the front-facing display benefits from an increased frame rate, which should make your previews smoother. GoPro also states that the GP2 brings with it an image processor (ISP) that promises improved quality photos and videos. We’ll be the judge of that, of course.

James Trew / Engadget

You may have noticed that the max resolution for video is now a shade higher than last year at 5.3K (up from 5). We’re told the sensor is actually the same as before, but that the new chip running the show can eke out more use of it.

The camera itself is, thankfully, the same dimensions as the Hero 9 which means if you have a media mod or Hero 9-specific accessory it’ll likely work with the new model just fine. In fact, the only visible differences between last year’s model and the Hero 10 is… the number 10 and the color of the text branding — it’s now GoPro blue rather than gray.

GP2 times the power

The GP1, GoPro’s first custom processor, made its debut with the Hero 6 Black. It allowed the company to tightly integrate the brains of the camera with the rest of the hardware and yield more control over key features. With the GP2, the promise is “twice the performance.” The company hasn’t shared specifics about the chip itself, but the rewards are evidenced in the increased frame rates across the board. I already mentioned that the upper-most resolution is now .3 megapixels higher than last time and available at 60fps. Twice the frames of the equivalent on the Hero 9 Black.

There are other benefits to the new chip beyond FPS, though. Not least, it’s paired with that ISP which we’ll go into in more detail next. The GP2 also powers the updated HyperSmooth 4.0, and promises a slicker user interface and faster offloading of media (again, each of these will get its own section).

Image quality

While GoPro is touting the new framerate modes as one of the key upgrades this time around, I feel the image quality is worth tackling first — this is a camera after all. The good news is that it’s markedly better than the Hero 9. It’s tempting to assume that the higher resolution for both video and photos is to thank here, but there’s some other processing grunt going on in the background.

James Trew / Engadget

According to GoPro, new algorithms for tone mapping and noise reduction are also responsible for the bump in quality. All I know is that both videos and photos look better, and in a meaningful way. When I was reviewing my comparison footage, color reproduction was a lot more faithful without looking flat. Somehow natural and inorganic tones (say, buildings and trees) look deeper. On top of that is the fidelity. When I viewed images at 100-percent crop, the difference in detail was instantly obvious. Where some textures, like road surface or leaves, on the Hero 9 can smooth out when they’re not the primary subject of the video, on the Hero 10 you can spot features that aren’t present in last year’s camera.

Higher resolutions

On top of the general improvement in image quality is the added flexibility that comes with the new resolution and framerate combinations. The Hero 9 topped out at either 5K/30fps in 16:9 or 4K/30 at 4:3. Not bad. But the Hero 10 offers a pretty substantial increase with 5.3K/30fps or 4K/60 at 4:3 and 5.3K/60 when shooting in 16:9. That’s a lot of jargon, but essentially it means you have a lot more headroom for both 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios. And given that 4:3 is great for POV shots, a staple of the action world, that’s good news for your videos.

It’s easy to wonder why you might even want 5.3K video, given there’s not a lot you can natively play it back on. But more pixels is never a bad thing and you can scale something down to a more “conventional” resolution later or crop to 4K without losing quality. You now even have something close to slow-mo at 4K (60fps) in the 4:3 aspect ratio which is a first for a GoPro.

James Trew / Engadget

Then, of course, there’s that increase in photo resolution that we already mentioned. Three whole megapixels is a decent improvement from last time around and if you pull stills from video on the regular you’ll enjoy higher resolution there, too (the change varies depending on your video settings, but it’s an increase across the board).

More frames

Finally we can get to one of the marquee upgrades: Frame rates. With GP2 onboard, 4K video is now available at 120fps, giving the Hero 10 a respectable slow-mo mode for the first time at UHD. Last year’s camera could eke out 60fps at 4K, but 2X isn’t really enough to show off your laser flips in all their mind-boggling glory. The new 4X slow-mo at this high resolution is going to really show off your best moves. The new 120fps mode is available with almost all the field-of-view options, which GoPro calls “lenses,” bar SuperView which tops out at 60fps. 2.7K also gets a boost from 120fps to 240 — the max the camera can do, making this a great balance of resolution and framerate for action.

Of course, a high frame rate isn’t only about slow-mo, that’s just a common application for it on an action camera. A higher FPS also helps keep your videos looking smooth at normal speed, especially if there’s a lot of activity going on — which, again, seems quite likely with a GoPro. For example, I shot some videos on a bike ride at 4K/30fps and then some more later at 60fps and the sense of motion at the higher frame rate is noticeably much smoother even when played back at normal speed.

In short, frame rate is another tool in the box when it comes to lining up your shot so it’s great to see far more options here. It also means you don’t have to make a choice between FPS or high resolution nearly as much as you did in the past.

HyperSmooth 4.0

In a darker age, GoPros had no onboard stabilization. It meant handheld footage had to be shot with extreme care, and every twitch, pothole or wobble was recorded in great clarity. That was fine for some activities, but often it just meant you ended up with unusable footage or a spell in post to try and salvage things.

Since the Hero 7, we’ve lived in a lighter, brighter world where HyperSmooth would work its magic and make even the most jarring pursuit look slick and smooth on video without having to use a pricey, fragile gimbal. With the Hero 10 we’re now on the fourth revision of GoPro’s onboard stabilizing and it continues to work wonders.

James Trew / Engadget

Perhaps the most notable change here is the increased power of horizon levelling. Before, it would keep videos “flat” to the skyline up to about 27 degrees. After that, it’d gently tilt your video to match the angle of the camera. Now, you can hit a curve or ride a corner at 45-degrees and your video will steadfastly lock to the horizon.

As with all things, just because you can, doesn’t mean you (always) should. I like using horizon levelling with mounts, selfie sticks or anything that can easily go off-level while holding. In contrast, you could use it while mounted to handlebars, for example, but any tight turns or dramatic leans will get neatly ironed out. You’ll have a smooth video for sure, but it loses a little of the action dynamic. Fortunately, you can decouple horizon levelling from HyperSmooth right on the home screen of the camera so it’s right there when you need it (or don’t).

Front screen

All new on the Hero 9 was the addition of a front screen for framing yourself when looking at the camera. DJI came out of the gate with one on its Osmo Action, beating GoPro to market by weeks. Nonetheless, it’s now a mainstay feature and thus, subject to upgrades, too.

The one on the Hero 10 is the same size as last year, but with a small increase in frame rate — from 20fps to 30. It’s nice to see the company updating all aspects of the camera, but I personally don’t notice much difference, certainly not at arm's length, which is most of the time I find myself needing that second display. Either way, if you found the screen a little lacking in this regard, just know that there’s likely a better experience for you this time around.

James Trew / Engadget

Not so much a feature of the front screen, but it relates to the front, so here is the time to mention it: The Hero 10 now has an “hydrophobic” coating on the lens. If you’ve ever taken a GoPro into the water, you’ll know that drops on the lens are the fastest way to ruin your footage. They normally sit just where the action is taking place, too.

I haven’t been able to give this camera the full water test yet, but simply getting it wet, you can tell that water doesn’t gather in the large, subject-blurring drips as it did before. It’s not entirely water repellant, but big drops are a thing of the past, instead the worst you get is a collection of smaller droplets. These are still undesirable, but they seem to have less impact on what you’re shooting, so I’ll take it.

Faster navigation

Another light improvement is in the user interface and menu navigation. GoPro claims the touch screen is now more responsive and most tasks should be quicker. This definitely does appear to be the case. Older cameras sometimes need two (or even three) attempts for a press to be registered, but with the Hero 10 there were far fewer occasions where I found myself needing to tap more than once.

An even clearer example of the software side of things being more rapid is the amount of time it takes to process an HDR photo. While the exposure is instant, GoPro owners will be familiar with the swirling circles after an image is taken while the camera develops the photo. It’s not long, usually a couple of seconds, but with the Hero 10 that time is about cut in half. Between that and the general nippiness of the menus, the latest flagship definitely feels a little breezier to use.

One other small usability change that doesn’t technically fit here, but adds to the user experience is that the Hero 10 now allows for good old fashioned wired transfer. That is, simply connect the camera to your computer and it’ll show up as removable storage with direct access to your media. It’s kinda hard to believe that this wasn’t a thing before, but I double checked with my Hero 9 and, nope, nothing — you have to get handsy with the memory card and an adapter. Small graces, but we love to see it.

Battery life

Everything has been quite positive so far, so it’s time for a small spanner in the works. Battery life has never really been GoPro's strong suit, although it has generally improved over time. Alas, the Hero 10 feels like a small step backward. It’s not deal-breaking levels, but on a straight “click record and leave the camera” shoot out, the Hero 9 outlasted the Hero 10 by almost half an hour — clocking in at 1hr40 at 4K/30fps. When I did the same test (with the same actual battery) on the new camera, it only managed 1hr15.

James Trew / Engadget

GoPro, for its part, claims that most users are only shooting short videos and it’s optimized the camera (and its battery usage) for that scenario. That might be true, but one must presume that that hasn’t changed since the last camera. And regardless of your shooting habits, the physics of higher processing will always diminish your overall shooting time.

Things get even worse once you start flirting with those new higher frame rates. On my first day out testing I thought I might have a duff cell as it sunk to about 50-percent battery unusually quickly. It was only later that I confirmed that this is just the price to pay for smoother videos.

There’s not a lot more to add here, as this is somewhat to be expected: You’re asking a battery of the same capacity to do a lot more work. Let’s hope that future revisions and maybe even some software updates can claim back some of those precious lost minutes.

Price

Last year, GoPro tried something… different, when it came to pricing. If you bought the camera on its own, it cost $450. That was a little higher than the flagship it replaced (the Hero 8 sold for $399 at launch). BUT, and it was a big but, if you were willing to sign up for a GoPro subscription at the same time, the total price you paid was $350 — which suddenly felt like a solid deal.

The same deal is in place this time around, just it’s $50 more expensive. The camera and subscription bundle now costs $399 and the camera on its own is $499. Given how easy the company is making it for you to get that subscription though — if you have an active subscription already, you’ll get the subscription price — it’s fairly easy to get the lower price. In short, make sure you snag a subscription or already have one when you order.

Ultimately, the Hero 10 isn’t the cheapest flagship at launch, but neither is it the most expensive — that honor goes to the Hero 6 which cost $499 with no route to pay less. GoPro reduced that price to $400 though soon after launch. It might sting a little that it’s more cost than last year’s, especially if you’d been hoping to get the latest and greatest for the same price, but with general improvements the whole way round it’s likely not something you will dwell on for long — especially as the Hero 9 will retain that $350 price tag along side the Hero 10 as the now “mid-tier” option.

Wrap up

James Trew / Engadget

For a spell, it looked like DJI was going to maintain the pressure on GoPro with its Osmo Action line. But so far it seems like it’s taking its time when it comes to new models — although you can pick up the original for $200 now, which makes it attractive if price is your main concern. Likewise, Sony seems to have taken its foot off the gas when it comes to refreshing its own, quite popular, line of action cameras. There is, of course, also Insta360, which has gained a solid fan base thanks to its unique form-factors and modular model.

It’s a familiar ending here, then. The new camera takes everything that’s working and builds on it. Especially in the areas that matter: Image quality and shooting modes. That’s all we can really ask for. The fact that there are many other usability tweaks is just an added bonus. The apparent dip in battery life, while not ideal, will only really be an issue if you use those new frame rates as standard. As for the price, we’d love for it to have stayed the same as last year’s launch, but the increase isn’t into unrealistic territory.

Canon's flagship 24-megapixel EOS R3 arrives in November for $6,000

Canon has officially unveiled the EOS R3, its flagship mirrorless camera designed for sports, action and wildlife photography. With the release, it has now filled in the blanks for key specifications not yet revealed in earlier teases, like resolution, ISO range and video capabilities. 

The EOS R3 was never likely to be a high-resolution camera as some folks hoped, but the 24.1-megapixel, back-side illuminated (BSI), stacked sensor (a first for Canon) is a significant upgrade over the 1DX Mark III's 20-megapixel sensor. Canon says it "achieves resolution performance exceeding that of the 30.1-megapixel EOS 5D Mark IV," despite having a lower pixel count.

With the BSI/stacked sensor and latest DIGIC X image processor, the R3 can shoot at 30 fps in electronic shutter mode (down to 1/64,000th of a second) or 12 fps with the mechanical shutter, with full AF tracking and auto-exposure. Better still, it offers blackout-free shooting in electronic mode and the high readout speeds deliver minimal rolling shutter distortion — making it feasible to shoot sports or action with the electronic shutter. 

Canon

The EOS R3 is Canon's first EOS model to support flash photography in electronic shutter mode. That allows for blackout-free flash shooting at up to 15 fps (at 1/180th of a second), which would probably look pretty wild in person. It also offers a silent shutter mode that turns off the artificial shutter and AF acquisition sounds. 

The EOS R3 has a number of new autofocus features, too. The flashiest is Eye Control AF that locks onto focus wherever your eye is looking when you half-press the shutter button. It can be used in combination with flexible zone and subject AF tracking, so it's "possible to quickly shift the target between multiple subjects," Canon says. It notes that the feature can be calibrated differently if you have glasses or contacts, and that "some glasses/contacts may prevent calibration."

Faster calculation speeds give the EOS R3 some new autofocus powers, too. The Dual Pixel AF system can now track in spot, single-point and flexible zone AF, and in lower light (-7.5 EV) than any other model. It can also acquire a subject just by getting close to it, so it will track an animal or human's head, face or eye if you place the AF point near their body, for example. 

Canon

On top of body, face, head and eye detection for humans, the R3 offers a new "Vehicle Priority" tracking system for open cockpit, GT and rally cars, along with on-road and off-road motorcycles. If the AI detects a helmet (on a motorcycle or open cockpit car), it will automatically lock onto that.

The new sensor delivers improved low-light performance too, with the EOS R3 having a normal range of ISO 100-102,400 for stills (expandable to ISO 50-204,800). Canon also promises improved automatic and manual white balance via new AI skills.

The 5-axis in-body stabilizer is the the same as the excellent system on the EOS R5 and R6. As with those models, it delivers up to 8 stops of stabilization with compatible lenses, down to a minimum of 6 stops (still beating most other brands) with other lenses. It also comes with dual card slots, supporting SD and CFexpress type B cards.

The R3 comes with a new 5.76 million dot, 120 FPS OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) developed by Canon. This is a key feature for the sports photographers who might buy it, as many haven't switched to mirrorless because they prefer an optical viewfinder. Canon said it provides a level of clarity and field of view similar to an optical viewfinder "thanks to the HDR technology and high brightness performance." Like the R6 and R5, it also offers a fully-articulating, 4.15 million dot flip-out touchscreen — ideal for video shooters. 

Canon

In fact, the R3 is also a highly competent video camera, too. While it can't shoot 8K video like the R5, it can capture RAW 12-bit 6K widescreen (6,000 x 3,164) video at up to 60 fps to a CFexpress B card, besting Panasonic's video-centric S1H. Canon has yet to say if 6K RAW over HDMI will be supported, however.

It also offers 4K recording at up to 120 fps, albeit in a cropped 1:1 pixel mode to a CFexpress card. Still, you can capture 4K 60p or 30p video using the full width of the sensor, which should make for some crisp video. Again, for the best quality, you'll need a fast SD UHS II or CFexpress card. 10-bit 4:2:2 video will be available for all 4K modes in either HDR PQ or Canon Log 3 modes, with both All-I and long-GOP file options. 

As usual with Canon cameras, the Dual Pixel autofocus should be a strong point for video, as it can lock in to a subject quickly without any hunting. As it stands now, however, the Eye Tracking feature only works for photography, not video. Still, the extra tracking features should make it extra powerful in terms of video autofocus, but we'll need to test the R3 to verify that. As you'd well expect, it has microphone, headphone and HDMI ports — though the latter is a micro and not a full-sized HDMI connector, unfortunately.

Canon

What about heating, the bugbear of the R5? Again, Canon has significantly improved the R3 here. It now offers two temperature options for auto power off: standard and high. The latter will let you shoot 6K RAW or 4K All-I at 60 fps for 60 minutes or more, though the camera might get a bit hot to the touch. 4K 120p All-I is limited to 12 minutes in either mode. Canon promises that you'll be ready to shoot again after just five minutes, though shooting times afterward will be limited in 6K 60p and 4K 120p modes. Normal 4K 30fps shooting (down-sampled or otherwise) has no heat limitations. 

Other features include network streaming functions and wired or wireless transfer to a 5G or LTE smartphone. It uses the 1DX Mark III's LP-E19 battery that delivers 440 shots with the electronic viewfinder and comes with a new electronic hot shoe that supports more accessories, including a smartphone link adapter. Finally, the EOS R1 offers dust and drip resistance equal to the EOS-1DX series DSLRs, and weighs in at 1015 grams (2.24 pounds) including a memory card and battery.

Canon

Along with the EOS R3, Canon unveiled two new lenses, the compact RF16mm F/2.8 STM ultra wide angle model priced at $300 (left) and the RF100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM model priced at $650. Both of those should be decent budget full-frame RF-mount options if you're looking for an ultra wide-angle or tele zoom lens. 

With the EOS R3, Canon has built a supercharged flagship that should appeal to both the serious photographers and videographers who have the bucks to afford one. It arrives at the end of November for $6,000 (body only).