Posts with «cameras & photography» label

Canon's EOS R5C is a hybrid cinema camera with 8K video and 45-megapixel stills

Canon has revealed the EOS R5C, a new member of its cinema camera line that looks like a good choice for photos, too. It strongly resembles Canon's EOS R5 mirrorless camera, but has a big hump in back to accommodate an active cooling system. As such, it offers most of the benefits of the EOS R5 with none of the overheating issues when shooting 8K or high frame rate 4K video. 

On the video side, the EOS R5C can shoot 8K at up to 60fps in Canon's 12-bit RAW LT format using the entire width of the sensor, a big step up from the 8K 30p RAW available on the R5. Better still, it can work at that setting "indefinitely," while the R5 is limited to just 20 minutes at 8K 30p due to overheating issues. It can also handle RAW 6K/60p with a Super 35mm crop and shoot 4K at up to 120 fps with no crop and full AF capability. The latter could use line-skipping like the EOS R5, however.

It also supports ProRes RAW output to an external recorder via the HDMI port at up to 8K/30P. "Proxy data can also be simultaneously recorded to an SD card in-camera, helping to provide efficient post-production operations," Canon said. Unfortunately, it uses micro HDMI rather than a full-sized port — not ideal for a dedicated cinema camera. 

Unlike the R5, however, the R5C doesn't have in-body stabilization — so any optical shake reduction for stills or video will only be available via supported lenses. However, the optical lens stabilization can work in concert with Canon's electronic stabilization, with a 1.1x image crop.

On the photography side, the full-frame 45-megapixel sensor is a big plus, as is the 20 fps shooting speed in electronic shutter mode (12 fps with the mechanical shutter). It uses Canon's Dual Pixel autofocus system for both stills and video, along with eye/face detection and subject tracking, so it should offer the same excellent AF performance as the R5. When you flip the camera over to photo mode, all the menus and button settings change accordingly. 

It comes with a 3.2-inch variable-angle flip out LCD monitor and 5.76 million-dot viewfinder, the same as the EOS R5. While you get Canon Log 3 for improved dynamic range, the Log 2 option found on other Canon cinema cameras isn't available. Other features include dual card slots (one CFexpress and one SD UHS-II), animal eye detection (cats, dogs, or birds), vehicles detection, a multifunction shoe for microphones and other accessories, a timecode terminal for multi-cam shoots and a DC coupler to provide continuous power.

The EOS R5C will arrive in March for $4,499, a $600 premium over the R5. It's a pretty interesting model as it can do more than some Canon cinema camera models for a lot less money and is much smaller, to boot. At the same time, it might give photo/video hybrid shooters serious pause if they're looking to buy Sony's $6,500 A1 hybrid

Sony A7 IV review: A powerhouse of a hybrid camera

Nearly four years after Sony released its highly successful A7 III hybrid full-frame mirrorless camera, it finally launched a follow up. The A7 IV brings a raft of new features and improvements like a higher-resolution 33-megapixel sensor, improved video specs and updated AI-powered autofocus. However, at $2,500 it’s also $500 more than the A7 III was at launch.

A lot has changed over the years between the two models. Sony now has to contend with formidable rivals like Canon’s EOS R6 and the Nikon Z6 II. It itself has also released new high-end models like the A7S III, A7R IV and A1 loaded with the latest technology.

With all that, I was of course curious to see how the A7 IV would stack up in a category it dominated for quite a few years. How does it measure up against rivals, particularly when it comes to video? How much new tech from the high-end models has made it to the mainstream A7 IV? And is it suitable for professional use? Let’s dive in and find out.

Design and handling

Sony’s A1, A7S III and A7R IV all had substantial body changes compared to their predecessors, and the A7 IV follows the same script. It has the same nice big grip, so you never feel you’re going to drop it, even with a big lens. However, it has picked up some heft and size, weighing in at 699 grams compared to 650 with the AIII. It’s 7mm thicker, too.

It has similar controls to the A7 III, with the biggest difference being that the record button has moved from the back to an easier-to-access position on top. The buttons and dials also generally feel better and more precise, and the joystick is grippier and easier to use. It lacks certain dials compared to the far more expensive A1, like the shooting mode and autofocus dials. The lockable exposure compensation dial is the same, but lacks the graphics because it’s designed to be programmable.

In one way, however, the A7 IV’s body is a step up from the A1. The rear touch display can fully articulate and not just tilt out, so it’s much more practical for low-angle shooting in portrait orientation. That also makes it far more useful as a vlogging camera.

It has the same well-organized menu system as the A1 and A7S III, though some controls can be a bit tricky to find. As with any other modern camera then, it’s time well spent to set up the function menu, custom menus and manual controls to your liking. Overall, though, Sony’s menus are now among the best, and better organized than on Canon’s EOS R6, for example.

Steve Dent/Engadget

The 3.69-million dot EVF is much clearer than the 2.68-million dot one one on the A7 and on par with similarly priced rivals. However, the rear display is smaller and has lower resolution than the one on the R6. That can make manual focus tricky, though the A7 IV has a new feature that can help there – more on that shortly.

The A7 IV has a dual-slot card system that supports both SD UHS II and much faster CFexpress Type A cards. However, unlike the slots on the A1 and A7S III, it only has a single dual-slot, with the other being SD UHS II only. Type A CFexpress cards aren’t quite as fast as regular CFexpress cards, topping out at 800 MB/s compared to 1,700 MB/s. They're also only used in Sony cameras, so they’re relatively hard to find and quite expensive.

Other features include a USB-C port that can power the camera during operation, along with a full-sized HDMI port, thank God. It uses Sony’s new NP-FZ100 battery that delivers up to 580 shots on a charge, or about 2 hours of 4K video shooting. Finally, the A7 IV can close its mechanical shutter when the camera is turned off, protecting it from dust when you change lenses. That’s a feature that first appeared on the EOS R, so thanks for starting that trend, Canon.

Performance

Steve Dent/Engadget

Sony’s mirrorless cameras are renowned for their autofocus speeds and AI smarts and the A7 IV is no exception. However, Sony made some compromises that affect performance.

The new 33-megapixel sensor is back-side illuminated but not stacked like the sensor on the A1, so readout speeds are relatively slow. As a result, shooting speeds are 10 fps like the A7 III in either mechanical or electronic shutter modes for compressed RAW photos, and drop to 6 fps if you use lossless or uncompressed RAW, as many photographers prefer to do.

That’s still impressive considering the resolution is up nearly 50 percent. By comparison though, the Sony A1 can shoot 50-megapixel photos in electronic mode at up to 30 fps, showing the speed benefits of a stacked sensor.

While burst speeds aren’t improved, you can capture more photos at a time, up to 1,000 in the uncompressed RAW format. If you use CFexpress Type A cards from Sony or ProGrade, you can effectively shoot forever without filling the buffer.

Steve Dent/Engadget

Another drawback with the A7 IV’s slow sensor readout speeds is rolling shutter. If you want to shoot silently in electronic mode, you’ll need to keep the camera steady and your subject can’t move quickly either. Otherwise, you’ll see slanted lines and other artifacts that can be bad enough to ruin shots. Using the crop mode helps a lot, but then you lose the benefits of a full-frame sensor.

The A7 IV is Sony’s most advanced camera yet when it comes to autofocus. All of Sony’s new AI tricks add up to make it the easiest to use and most reliable camera I’ve ever tested in that regard.

Unlike the A7 III, face, eye and body tracking works in all focus modes for animals, birds and people. Unless you turn it off, it’ll automatically pick up your subject’s eyes, face or body and track them even if they turn or disappear from frame.

Whether you’re tracking sports, birds or cars, the tracking spot will stay tenaciously locked to your subject in most situations. All you have to do is touch the subject you want to track and the camera will take it from there.

Steve Dent/Engadget

The A7 IV’s autofocus can easily keep up with the camera’s burst speeds for sports or bird shooting. But more importantly, the A7 IV consistently nails focus in other tricky situations, particularly with people. In some chaotic situations with lots of subjects and complex lighting, I ended up with very few unusable shots. Keep in mind that optimum focus performance requires Sony’s latest lenses, but it worked well with recent Sigma models as well.

Focus is just one part of the equation. It consistently nailed auto-exposure and auto white balance in tricky situations with a mix of lighting. That worked well in a bar with a mix of studio and practical lights, or in front of the famous Paris department store animated windows with all kinds of colors of lights.

In-body stabilization improves a half stop over the A7 III to 5.5 stops with compatible lenses, but neither comes close to Canon’s claimed 8 stops on the EOS R6. That’s somewhat balanced out by Sony’s superior high ISO performance, however. I was still able to get reasonably sharp shots down to a half second with some care.

Photo Quality

A big improvement with the A7 IV is with image quality. You’d expect more sharpness with the extra resolution, and it certainly delivers that. However, you might also think that the smaller pixels would make A7 IV worse in low light, but nope. In fact, through much of its ISO range, the A7 IV performs better even than Sony’s low-light champ, the A7S III.

Images are clean and usable in most low-light situations right up to ISO 12,800, with plenty of detail even in underexposed shots. In fact, the A7 IV has the least noise I’ve ever seen in that ISO range. Correctly exposed photos are usable up to ISO 25,600, but noise becomes a serious issue after that.

Sony has improved its color science with every new camera lately, and the A7 IV has perhaps its best setup yet. The green cast we’ve seen on earlier models is gone and colors are accurate right out of the camera and easier to balance in post than ever before.

JPEGs look great straight out of the camera with a nice balance between detail and noise reduction. The 14-bit RAW images deliver up to 13 stops of dynamic range, giving you plenty of room to lift shadows and claw back highlights. Overall, Sony’s A7 IV delivers perhaps the best images of any of its cameras, with a great balance between detail, high ISO performance and color accuracy.

As a semi-pro hybrid camera, the A7 IV is aimed at enthusiasts but could easily serve as a second body for professional shooters who use Sony gear. To that end, I’ve enlisted the services of Samuel Dejours and Nathanael Charpentiers from Studio Nathsam in Gien, France, who do weddings, births, events and studio work.

How is the handling on the a7 III from a pro standpoint?

Samuel: First of all the handling is a lot better than the A7 III. What I liked a lot, which is a big change for Sony, is the fully articulating display. It’s especially useful in portrait mode when you’re shooting from ground level below the subject.

What are the strong and weak points for events and studio use?

Nat: In terms of the color accuracy, it’s really improved a lot, it’s great now.

Samuel: A big issue for us is that the rolling shutter is pretty pronounced, which is a shame because it limits the use of the camera in silent mode for weddings and events.

Nathanael: And if you use this camera it’s really required for certain things because the mechanical shutter is particularly loud.

Could this serve as a professional camera for you?

Yes, it could serve as a professional camera because it’s really versatile in terms of doing both photos and video. It lacks features available on the A1 and A9, but that’s normal because those cameras are in a completely different price category.

Video

Samuel Dejours

Finally we’re onto video, the one area where rival cameras have moved well beyond the A7 III. Fortunately the A7 IV has big improvements in that area too, along with one drawback.

As before, it can shoot downsampled 4K video at up to 30p using the full width of the sensor, meaning video is extremely sharp. But now, it can capture that video at 4:2:2 10-bit with Sony’s S-Log, so it’s much easier to stretch and pull in post-production.

And now you can shoot 4K at up to 60 fps, also with 10 bits of color depth. While it’s cropped, video is still downsampled from a 4.6K size, so it remains sharp. The A7 IV can’t handle 120 fps 4K like Canon’s EOS R6, but then again it doesn’t have the R6’s serious overheating issues either. If you need that frame rate, it’s only available up to 1080p. HDMI output is limited to 4K 25p at just 8 bits of color depth, unfortunately.

With 13 stops of dynamic range in Sony’s S-Log3 mode, along with 10-bit 4:2:2 color and reasonably high bit rates up to 500 Mbps, image quality is superb and easy to control in post. The lack of noise at high ISO ranges is a huge plus, making the camera usable in a lot of low and tricky lighting situations.

Eye AF and tracking now work in video mode, making it far more dependable for shooting interviews or action. As with photos, it’s extremely intuitive to use. You can tap a subject to track it, and it will automatically switch to eye or face tracking as needed.

There’s a new and cool video feature called lens breathing compensation. Normally, pulling focus from one subject to another causes a slight but distracting zoom – an issue that’s particularly problematic on Sony’s pricey GM lenses, as good as they are. The breathing compensation function introduces a slight digital zoom that counteracts any change in focal length when focusing on a new subject.

Using the feature does cause a slight crop, and it only works with select, mostly expensive, Sony lenses. It’s a really nice feature though, and currently only found on the A7 IV.

Sony has made manual focusing for video easier as well with Manual Focus Assist. It places blue and red colors over objects behind and in front of the focus plane, while objects in focus are clear. Once I got used to it, it was relatively easy to pull focus quickly and in the right direction. The color display is a bit blocky, though, so super precise adjustments can be a challenge.

Image stabilization is very effective for video, particularly with active mode engaged. It works with 4K in both cropped 60p and uncropped 30p modes. However, rolling shutter can be pretty brutal in 30p mode with the full width of the sensor, and stabilization can sometimes make that worse (and unfixable). If you have a wide lens and can stick to the cropped mode with active stabilization, wobble is well controlled and not much worse than with the excellent A1.

Wrap-up

Steve Dent/Engadget

The A7 IV offers big improvements in resolution, AF tracking, video features and more, but forget about the spec sheet for a second. Sony’s largest achievement is that it created a mainstream camera that makes photography and video easier, thanks to AI smarts that can aid any photographer, no matter their skill.

The biggest drawback is rolling shutter that might give you pause if you require a silent mode or want to shoot uncropped 4K video. Another issue is the $2,500 price that’s $500 more than the A7 III was at launch.

Other hybrid cameras in that price range can’t quite measure up, though. Canon’s $2,500 20-megapixel EOS R6 is your best alternative, but the resolution is a big step down. Panasonic’s 24-megapixel S5 and Nikon’s Z6 II are other decent options, but lack the reliability and ease of use of the A7 IV. So once again, Sony rules the mainstream hybrid camera market and will probably do so for a while to come.

Leica's M11 rangefinder camera features a 60-megapixel, full-frame sensor

Leica first announced its M10 rangefinder camera back in January 2017, and the company has since released multiplevariants of the camera since. Most recently, the M10-R added a 40-megapixel sensor to the to the camera, a big step up over the 24-megapixel one found in the original M10. But today, Leica is ready to leave the M10 lineup behind and move to a totally new camera, the Leica M11.

Well, “totally new” might be a stretch. It’ll look familiar to anyone who has seen Leica’s famous lineup of rangefinder cameras before, and it still uses Leica’s M mount for lenses, but the company has put in enough new features to justify giving it a new name. First and foremost is a new 60-megapixel full-frame sensor, making this camera a huge upgrade for anyone who might have purchased the original M10 back in 2017. The so-called “triple resolution” sensor can shoot at either 60, 36 or 18 megapixels in DNG RAW or JPG. Notably, Leica says it'll shoot using the full sensor area when shooting at a lower resolution, rather than cropping the image down. But these images might loose some sharpness because of pixel binning or line skipping that occurs when using the full sensor to shoot at a lower resolution. .

Shooting at lower resolution, though, will naturally save storage space and also offer extended burst shooting. The ISO on this camera ranges from 64 all the way to 50,000, a stop more than the 100-50,000 range offered on the M10 series. The ISO on this camera goes from 64 all the way to 50,000, a stop more than the 100-50,000 range offered on the M10 series.

Speaking of storage, the M11 has 64GB of onboard storage, which lets photographers storage images both on the internal memory as well as an SD memory card. Leica also redesigned the bottom plate of the camera to provide quicker access to the SD cart slot and battery. There’s also a USB-C port right in the bottom of the camera, which makes charging the battery and transferring pictures to a computer a bit easier. That’s a fairly common feature these days, but it’s still a welcome addition to the M11. Leica also says that the M11’s 1,800mAh battery stores 64 percent more power than the battery on older models

Leica

As with the M10 series, the M11 uses Leica’s optical rangefinder and manual focus only. But the 3-inch back screen, which you can also use as a viewfinder, has 2,332,800 pixels, more than double the 1,036,800 pixels on the M10. In another concession to modern technology, the M11 has both a mechanical and an electronic shutter. 

The standard mechanical option can shoot at speeds up to 1/4000th of a second, while the electronic shutter goes up to a whopping 1/16,000 of a second. Perhaps most significantly, the electronic shutter will be totally silent, something that street photographers should appreciate. The M10-R had an “extra silent” mechanical shutter, but you can’t beat a motionless electronic shutter if you need perfectly quiet operation.

Leica is offering two models: an all-black M11 and a black and silver option. The latter uses a brass top plate and as such weighs in at 640 grams, 100 grams more than the all-black models. To save weight, that camera has an aluminum top with a scratch-resistant coating. Regardless of which finish you prefer, the M11 is wildly expensive, in keeping with Leica tradition. It costs $8,995 without a lens, the same price as the M10-R. 

Given the numerous improvements here, it’s nice that Leica didn’t increase the price further, but — as we said when we checked out the M10-R — Leica rangefinders are as much a status symbol as they are a photography tool. We said the M10-R was the king of that category in 2020, but now it seems the M11 has taken the throne. The M11 is available to order now.

Sony's $1,000 Xperia 5 III compact finally goes on sale in the US

Sony doesn't sell many smartphones in the US, so it's always big news when a new one arrives — particularly a high-end model. After launching in other regions last year, the Xperia 5 III is now available stateside for $1,000, Ars Technica has reported. 

The Xperia 5 III is slightly smaller than the company's consumer flagship Xperia 1 III but has pretty similar specs. It comes with a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 6.1-inch 2,520 x 1,080 (21:9) 120Hz display, 8GB of RAM (compared to 12GB for the 1 III) and 128GB of storage, along with a triple camera setup with a 12-megapixel main camera, 12-megapixel ultrawide and 12-megapixel 3x telephoto. It offers a Gorilla Glass 6 display and IP65/68 water resistance and if you don't mind Sony's typically squarish design cues, looks very premium.

The display delivers 10-bit color depth and is "powered by CineAlta" (the name of its high-end cinema cameras) so it should show accurate colors and skin tones. The cameras aren't particularly high-resolution, but they do have Zeiss lenses "calibrated specifically for Xperia," Sony said. The main camera has a stacked backside illuminated Exmor RS image sensor, delivering 20fps burst speeds with AF and AE tracking. On the video side, it offers Cinematography Pro also powered by CineAlta, with 4K HDR at up to 120 fps.

In other words, this is a camera-first smartphone designed for folks who are really into photography or video. It's not for everyone considering it costs $1,000 at Best Buy and elsewhere, but it's nice to have another premium smartphone option for the US market. 

Xiaomi’s 12 Series phones are among the first with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chips

Xiaomi has unveiled its latest lineup of flagship smartphones and wearables. The Xiaomi 12 Series, which is only available in China for now, includes two sizes of phones: Xiaomi 12 and Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Both are among the first devices to run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and they boast LPDDR5 RAM. The Xiaomi 12 has a 4,500mAh battery, while the 12 Pro has what the company claims is the first single-cell 120W, 4,600mAh battery. Xiaomi says it offers an increased capacity of 400mAh over dual-cell batteries without having to increase the size.

The base model's camera array includes Sony's 50MP IMX766 as the main camera, a 13MP ultra-wide angle lens and a 5MP telemacro sensor. The 12 Pro, meanwhile, has the new Sony IMX707 sensor, an ultra-wide camera with a 115-degree field of view and a 2x telephoto camera for portraits. All three sensors are 50MP, while the main camera improves light capture by up to 49 percent over the previous model, according to Xiaomi. 

On the front, each device has a 32MP sensor. The front-facing holepunch camera was positioned on the left on the Mi 11 series, but, as with the 11T devices, it's in the center this time.

Xiaomi

Xiaomi noted that Night Mode is available on both devices, each of which is said to have a camera that works well in low-light scenarios. The company says it's introducing a new imaging computing algorithm, which it claims improves capture speed and shutter lag.

The Xiaomi 12 has a 6.28-inch flexible OLED display with a 2,400 × 1,080 resolution, 1,100 nits of brightness and a refresh rate of 120Hz. The 12 Pro offers a 6.73-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 3,200 x 1,440 and 1,500 nits of brightness. Xiaomi says the display uses micro-lens tech, which it claims improves the "viewing experience while increasing smart energy-saving capability." Both devices have HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support.

On the audio side, both handsets have symmetrical dual speakers and Dolby Atmos support. The 12 Pro features a customized mid-woofer and tweeter.

The devices will go on sale on December 31st, starting at RMB 3,699 (around $580) for the Xiaomi 12 and RMB 4,699 (approximately $738) for Xiaomi 12 Pro. The company also said it will release a lower-cost version of the Xiaomi 12 on the same day. The Xiaomi 12X has a Snapdragon 870 chipset and starts at RMB 3,199 ($500).

The phones will use MIUI 13, an OS based on Android 12 that's also coming to Mi 11 series handsets, Xiaomi 11T and other phones and tablets. Xiaomi's smart watches, speakers and TVs will also harness the OS to help unify the ecosystem. A feature called Mi Smart Hub will allow users to share things like their screen, music and apps with multiple nearby devices using a simple gesture.

Xiaomi

In addition, Xiaomi revealed its latest smartwatch. The Xiaomi Watch S1 has a 1.43-inch AMOLED screen with a sapphire glass display and stainless steel frame. It will offer detailed health stats and has support for 117 fitness modes. The device has a 5ATM water resistance rating too. Xiaomi says the device has a 12-day battery life and up to 24 days of standby time.

Like the new phones, the Xiaomi Watch S1 will only be available in China for the time being. It starts at RMB 1,099 ($172).

Xiaomi

Also new are the Xiaomi Buds 3, which have dual-magnetic dynamic drivers. The earbuds offer up to 40dB noise cancellation and three active noise cancellation modes. Xiaomi says owners will get up to seven hours of playback on a single charge and up to 32 hours of total use with the charging case. The Xiaomi Buds 3 will cost RMB 449 ($70).

While these devices are geared toward the Chinese market, they could make their way elsewhere at a later date. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun hinted as much on Twitter.

DJI Mavic 3 drone review: Cinematic power at a price

DJI’s Mavic 3 created early buzz when a leak suggested it would have a large 4/3 sensor and dual camera system, along with an incredible 46 minutes of range. However, potential buyers were also shocked to learn that it has a $2,200 starting price, compared to $1,449 for the Mavic 2 Pro. And that goes way up to $5,000 if you want advanced features like ProRes HQ video.

Early footage shows that the camera is indeed impressive and the 50 percent extra flight time is extremely useful. Buyers have also complained, though, about the price, overly basic Fly app and features like ActiveTrack 5 that won’t be available until a January 2022 update.

I wanted to find out if it was worth that kind of money, particularly if you already have a Mavic 2 Pro. I’ve had the standard model for a couple of weeks and have been testing it around the French countryside with a licensed drone pilot, Samuel Dejours. Here’s what we found out.

Steve Dent/Engadget

As I mentioned, there are two versions of the DJI Mavic 3: The standard model and the Cine. Both have identical cameras and drones, but the Mavic 3 Cine has a built-in 1TB SSD, MicroSD slot and Apple ProRes 422 HQ video support. It also comes with the screen-equipped RC Pro remote, while the standard model includes the more basic RC-N1 that requires a smartphone.

ProRes 422 HQ is desirable for professional film shoots, because it delivers higher image quality and better color fidelity, especially for detailed scenes. The drawback is that it takes up a lot more space, using 1GB for around 10 seconds of video, for a total SSD record time of 167 minutes. The only way to get that footage off the drone is via the USB-C Thunderbolt port and supplied cable, but it can transfer at speeds very quickly, at up to 700MB/s.

The Cine model comes in a bundle with three batteries, a carrying bag, two sets of ND filters and more. As mentioned, it also costs $5,000, so you’d need a good reason to have those features. Since the Cine is aimed more at professional filmmakers, we tested the standard model in the $3,000 Fly More Combo. That includes three batteries, a charging hub, one set of ND filters and a nice carrying bag that converts into a backpack. It’s equipped with a MicroSD slot and 8GB of storage that’s only really useful for emergencies

Much like the Air 2S, the Mavic 3 folds into a compact, easy-to-carry size. It weighs 899 grams with a battery, slightly under the 907 gram weight of the Mavic 2 Pro. It has a slightly larger wingspan, as the arms are a hair longer to accommodate the bigger propellers.

Steve Dent/Engadget

Because of the dual camera system and larger main camera sensor, the camera module is bigger too. As a result, it protrudes a bit beyond the drone body, leaving it more exposed to damage in a crash.

The camera module itself no longer pans like the Mavic 2 Pro’s camera, so all panning must be done by moving the drone. However, it now tilts up 30 degrees, which can come in very handy for certain types of shoots, inspection work and so on. The camera locks when the drone is turned off, and is protected by a harness that my colleague jokingly called a bondage mask.

The Mavic 3’s battery is much larger than the one on the Mavic 2 Pro, at 5,000 mAh compared to 3,850 mAh. That, along with some aerodynamic tweaks, gives it a 50 percent boost in range from 31 to 46 minutes — a huge and incredibly useful gain. The 65-watt charger, now powered by USB-C, can juice up a battery in about an hour and 50 minutes.

Steve Dent/Engadget

DJI notes that flight time is 46 minutes with a hover time of 40 minutes. As you might expect, though, that depends heavily on the outside temperature and how you operate it. In sunny skies and lowish 47 degree F (8 degree C) temperatures, with a mix of sport, cinema and normal flying, we were easily getting about 35 minutes of range. That’s really good, and as a result, Samuel didn’t feel the need to rush as he sometimes does with his Air 2S or FPV. And those numbers should be considerably higher in the summertime.

Now, let’s get to the cameras. The primary camera was built by DJI in collaboration with Hasselblad and features a 24 mm f/2.8-f/11 lens and 4/3 sensor. For reference, that’s a third bigger than the one-inch sensor on the Mavic 2 Pro and the same size as Panasonic’s mirrorless GH5 II camera sensor, for instance.

The video specs are nearly as impressive as the GH5 II, as well. It can shoot 5.1K at 50 fps or 4K at 60 fps using the entire width of the sensor, yielding sharp, supersampled video. You can also shoot 4K at 120 fs if you don’t mind cropping of about 50 percent. That won’t be a big deal for most people, as 4K 120fps footage is extremely useful on a drone for action, wildlife, moving water and so on.

The larger sensor also delivers better low light performance, more detail, improved dynamic range and a more cinematic look in general. At the same time, the variable f/2.8 to f/11 aperture makes the camera more flexible in different lighting conditions. If you shoot in really bright sunlight a lot, however, I’d recommend getting the neutral density filter kit.

Shooting at ISO 1600 and 3200, we got clean footage with some noise in shadows and dark areas. However, the noise is well controlled and organic, so it’s not bothersome and can be tamped down with some mild noise reduction. Noise levels start to get excessive at ISO 6400, but that setting is still usable for night scenes if you don’t need a lot of shadow detail.

DJI boosted the H.264 data rate significantly from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps, and introduced H.265 capture at up to 140 Mbps. That’s an important update, as aerial footage captured by drones can have detail that confounds long-GOP (MP4) compression. As a result, quality is improved under most circumstances, and noticeably so for detailed shots.

That begs the question of whether you even need the ProRes option and 1TB SSD, considering the high price difference. I’d say that it’s a valuable feature for broadcast shooters, as it pushes the drone into professional territory. For others like YouTubers or industrial users, the H.264 quality is easily good enough.

Taken with the Mavic 3 main camera
Samuel Dejours/Engadget

The Mavic 3 uses Hasselblad’s color profile that’s supposed to deliver accurate hues. In general, it performed well across the color spectrum, whether we were shooting in cities, coastlines or countryside. Skin tones are warm, and while you might not think that’s terribly important for a drone, the Mavic 3 could see a lot of use in weddings, documentaries and even movies. It’s so smooth that it can replace a crane or dolly for certain shots.

To max out dynamic range and editing flexibility, you can shoot 10-bit D-Log footage. Shooting directly into the sun and other tricky situations, I found that it allowed me to retain dynamic range and bring out extra detail in highlights and shadows.

One of the key new features of the Mavic 3 is the 162mm equivalent telephoto camera with a half-inch sensor. I’ve seen some confusion about zooming on the Mavic 3, so here’s how it works.

Shot with 7X telephoto (MP4)
Samuel Dejours/Engadget

The main camera with no digital zoom is equivalent to a 24mm full-frame lens, or what DJI calls a 1X zoom. To zoom in further, you flip the drone into explorer mode on the Fly app. From there, you can either select discreet zoom settings (1X, 2X, 4X, 7X, 14X and 28X) or use a slider for in-between settings. Zooming up to four times is done digitally with the main camera, but the 4X zoom is very pixelated and not usable for any production work.

The 161mm, 12-megapixel f/4.4 telephoto camera kicks in at a 7X zoom, offering 4K video at up to 30 fps. It can digitally zoom up to 28X, but again, quality suffers. For the best-looking footage, you’ll need to stay between a 1X and 2X zoom, or go up to 7X exactly.

The Mavic 2 (not pro), by contrast, has a 28mm lens with a 2X zoom. The Mavic 3’s 7X zoom is more extreme, but does open up some interesting creative possibilities. However, the optical quality on that camera isn’t amazing given the smallish sensor size. In terms of professional use, then, it has limited value.

Photo shot with DNG and retouched in Lightroom
Samuel Dejours/Engadget

On the subject of JPEGs, it’s also a solid photo drone. I was a bit disappointed when I heard that the Mavic 3 had the same 20-megapixel sensor and less dynamic range than the Mavic 2 Pro (12.8 stops compared to 14 stops claimed). However, the larger pixels more than make up for that with improved light sensitivity and lower noise levels.

That said, you’ll want to make sure your footage is properly exposed. The Mavic 3 generally nails the exposure in automatic shooting modes, but it can get tripped up if you’re shooting into the sun. It helps to shoot using RAW DNG files, which give you much more latitude to adjust images in Lightroom.

Photo quality using the telephoto lens was better than the video quality, delivering crisp photos with good color accuracy, but with one key caveat. You can only shoot JPEGs and not RAW files, which limits your ability to adjust shots in post. Again, that makes the telephoto lens less useful for professionals. On the other hand, it could be extremely handy for other types of work, like inspections, search and rescue, bird spotting and so on.

Steve Dent/Engadget

The Mavic 3 is DJI’s easiest drone to fly, thanks to improved obstacle avoidance, and other features. It offers three flying modes: Cine, a slow flight mode for capturing smooth footage, Normal and Sport, the fastest setting.

The Mavic 3 works with DJI’s simplified Fly app, rather than the Go 4 app used with the Mavic 2 Pro. Camera settings like shutter, ISO, video resolution and so on are adjusted on the main flying screen at the bottom right. The record button and various video/photo settings (QuickShot, Hyperlapse, etc.) are found on the right side. For more advanced settings like Safety, Control, Cameras and Transmission, you have to dive into the three dot menu.

Once you fire up the app and connect your smartphone to the RC-N1 controller, you’re ready to turn on the drone. It plays a jaunty three-note tune on startup and is ready to go in less time than the Mavic Air 2S or 2 Pro.

When you take off, it remembers your home position for the RTH (return to home function). It maneuvers flawlessly, helping pilots easily capture smooth footage under manual control. It’s not quieter than the Mavic 2 or 2 Pro, but it has a slightly lower tone that’s less likely to disturb people or wildlife.

Steve Dent/Engadget

It’s also faster, hitting speeds of up to 42 MPH in sport mode. Just remember that obstacle avoidance is disabled in that mode, so you’ll need to be careful to avoid (high-speed) crashes.

The Mavic 3 is covered with omni-directional sensors on the front, back, top and bottom. The app shows potential obstacles to help you avoid them, while the APAS 5 system lets you program the Mavic 3 to either stop when it encounters an obstacle or go around it.

We ran it through a gauntlet of hazards, including gnarly trees, power lines and more. It either stopped or dodged them, depending on the option we set. It did skim a leaf once while descending in RTH mode, though it didn’t phase the drone. However, it could indicate potential issues with the lower sensor array of the drone. The obstacle avoidance feature can be disabled in all modes, if you dare.

Steve Dent/Engadget

The RTH feature brings the drone back when the battery runs low, choosing the most efficient route possible. We found that it worked in all circumstances, even around tricky terrain and from miles away. The only drawback is that it doesn’t bring the drone back at a great speed, so many pilots may prefer to return manually in normal or sport mode.

One key feature that’s unfortunately not coming until January is ActiveTrack 5. As with DJI’s previous tracking systems, it’s designed to follow you around while you bike, windsurf and do other activities. The latest version is designed to track subjects no matter which way they’re moving and continue tracking even if they move out of frame. As this is an important feature, I may update this review later once I get a hold of it.

Other missing features include QuickShots to do fancy camera maneuvers like circles and boomerangs, along with MasterShots, designed to produce quick video clips for social media users. It also lacks the popular Panorama mode to create stitched photos, and QuickTransfer for rapid WiFi video and photo transfers. 

This missing features aren't ideal, but delaying them at least allowed DJI to release the drone. Cameras from Sony, Canon and others often have key features added after the fact with firmware updates, so DJI isn't alone in doing this. Buyers will likely forgive the delays, but only if the updates arrive in January as promised.  

Steve Dent/Engadget

With its starting $2,200 price tag, the Mavic 3 is designed to take great videos and photos for professional and prosumer users. It strongly delivers in that regard, thanks to the pro-level sensor that delivers stunning image quality, along with stabilization that allows for insanely smooth shots. The ProRes video and 1TB internal SSD are also huge features for pro shooters.

It’s not perfect, though. Those same users may find the telephoto camera to be somewhat useless because it doesn’t deliver even close to the same level of quality as the main camera. They may also wonder why the standard model comes with a basic controller and limited Fly app, considering the relatively high price. The missing features like ActiveTrack 5 are a bummer, but once they arrive, everyone will quickly forget that they weren’t there at launch.

In terms of competition, DJI doesn’t have any peers when it comes to image quality (its tagline for the Mavic 3 is “Imaging Above Everything”). In other words, it’s laser-focused on cameras, as it recently showed with its crazy, amazing Ronin 4D. Other companies like Skydio, however, arguably offer better flying drones with superior obstacle avoidance.

Should these factors impact your buying decision? I’ll leave the final word to Samuel, the professional photographer and certified pilot who owns multiple DJI drones and assisted in this review.

“I am definitely interested in buying it, because it has a sensor that’s larger and performs at a high level so it’s a big step up in terms of image quality. The extra battery life also makes planning easier, and the drone is extremely stable, even in wind, so you feel like you have a ‘tripod in the sky.’ It has some flaws for sure, but for me, those are outweighed by the image quality benefits.”

Canon's best budget mirrorless camera is $100 off at Amazon

Canon's EOS M200 is still one of the best budget mirrorless cameras thanks to features like the Dual Pixel autofocus system and 4K video. Now, you can pick one up with an EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 at Amazon for just $450 or $100 (18 percent) off the regular price. 

Buy Canon EOS M200 at Amazon - $450

The EOS M200 is a top pick as a budget camera because it's so compact and versatile. It takes great photos thanks to the 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, which delivers sharp images with natural colors and skin tones. It also comes with Canon's Dual Pixel eye-detect autofocus tech, so most of them will be in focus, too. And for social or tourist shooting, it comes with a pop-up flash.

At the same time, it can handle 4K video at 24 fps, albeit with a 1.6 times crop. That, along with the flip-up display, makes it very useful as a vlogging camera — and it's even good for social media because it can also shoot vertical video. The 15-45mm lens, meanwhile, offers a decent zoom range for most types of shooting.

The downsides are the lack of a viewfinder, though that helps keep the size very small. It also offers a limited lens selection and relatively slow burst shooting speeds. However, it's a real bargain at $450, which is a cheaper price than most cameras without any lens at all. 

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by visiting our deals homepage and following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Fujifilm's Instax Mini Evo camera lets you send snaps directly to your phone

Fujifilm has unveiled the Instax Mini Evo, its new flagship instant film camera with a premium build, higher resolution than previous models and improved smartphone integration. As with other Instax cameras, you can take photos and instantly develop them to Fujifilm's credit card-sized Instax Mini film, but it offers a number of features not available on previous models. 

As a hybrid camera, you can review photos on the LCD monitor and choose the ones you want to print. However, the new model is the first Instax camera with a print lever and lens/film filter dials. That lets you take a picture then choose among 100 combinations of effects (including "Soft Focus," "Light Leak," "Monochrome" and "Retro") and print the image afterwards by pulling the print lever. Fujifilm said the camera also delivers better quality prints as it has twice the exposure resolution of previous models. 

Fujifilm

The Instax Mini Evo is also effectively a mini-printer for your smartphone. You can transfer images from your phone to the Evo Mini wirelessly, then print them using the "Direct Print" button. And for the first time, you can transfer snaps you take with the Mini Evo back over to your smartphone, complete with the film border. Finally, you can use your smartphone to take pictures remotely with the camera. 

Fujifilm also unveiled a new Instax Mini film format called "Stone Grey" with a gray background. The new camera arrives in Japan on December 3rd and will come to the US in February with a price of $200. 

The best gear to give to the photographer in your life

If your favorite person has a love of video or photography, a camera may be the best gift they’ll ever get. Some may want to capture their adventures with an action camera, while others may desire a mirrorless camera for portraits, movies or artistic shots. The technology is better than ever as camera makers try to stay ahead of smartphones with faster shooting speeds, sharper video and incredible autofocus. We found the best models for budgets ranging from $400 to $2,500, along with top accessories to complement their existing gear.

GoPro Hero 10 Black

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

For the adventurer on your gift list, there’s no better action camera than the GoPro Hero 10 Black. It bests the previous Hero 9 Black model in a number of key ways, thanks mainly to the faster GP2 processor. That helps it deliver improved image quality, with higher resolution at up to 5.3K/30fps instead of 5K as before. It also offers improved noise reduction, smoother stabilization, more faithful color reproduction and better handling.

Buy GoPro Hero 10 Black at Amazon - $499Buy Hero 9 Black at GoPro - $350

Sony Alpha A6100

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Sony

Sony’s A6100 is a great gift idea for budding photographers, as it offers the best features of its APS-C mirrorless camera series at the best price. Chief among those is the incredibly reliable autofocus system with eye-detection and other AI tricks. Even with fast-moving action, the A6100 will nail focus for video or photos most of the time thanks to the extremely rapid tracking system. It also offers accurate colors, good low-light performance and a flip-up display that allows for selfies and vlogging, with sharp video capture at up to 4K. It’s also one of the best mirrorless camera deals around at $748, or $848 with a 16-50mm kit lens.

Buy Sony Alpha A6100 at B&H - $848

DJI Ronin SC gimbal

DJI

A gimbal is a great gift idea for video shooters, helping them boost production value with smooth tracking, panning and other shots. If your loved one has a mirrorless camera, the best option is DJI’s Ronin-SC model. It weighs just 2.4 pounds, 41 percent lighter than DJI’s original Ronin-S — making it easier to use for longer periods. It can stabilize just about any type of video as well, thanks to the ActiveTrack 3.0 mode and AI that can lock onto and track human or other subjects.

Buy DJI Ronin SC at Amazon - $439

Panasonic GH5

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If your gift recipient is into making YouTube videos, the Panasonic GH5 has been the vlogging camera of choice since it first came out . The 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor delivers pin-sharp 4K video downsampled from the full sensor at up to 60fps, with a 10-bit high-color option that makes editing easier afterwards. It also includes other necessities for vlogging like a flip-out display, in-body stabilization and dual high-speed card slots. With the arrival of the $1,700 GH5 II, the original GH5 is cheaper than it’s ever been at $1,300, giving your loved one a lot of camera for the money.

Buy Panasonic GH5 at Amazon - $1,300

Magnus VT-4000 Tripod

Engadget

If your giftee is starting to get serious about video, the Magnus VT 4000 is the best budget tripod option out there. It’s lightweight at 8 pounds, but the anodized aluminum construction is strong enough to handle a mirrorless camera and accessories weighing up to 8.8 pounds. The lack of heft makes it practical for travel, while the fluid head allows for smooth tilts and pans. Other features include a middle spreader to keep things steady and legs that extend up to 64 inches so you can match the eyeline of your subjects.

Buy Magnus VT-4000 tripod at Amazon - $199

Canon EOS R6

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Canon

For a serious camera gift that’s around $2,500, Canon’s 20-megapixel EOS R6 is the best hybrid model out there. It delivers up to 20 fps burst shooting speeds while the Dual Pixel AF nails focus on nearly every shot, whether in bright sunlight or dim lighting. It’s also a solid pick for video, letting you shoot 4K supersampled video at 60 fps with 10-bit log and HDR options for maximum editing flexibility — again, with Canon’s Dual Pixel AF system that’s second to none. The caveat to that is overheating, which limits use for things like weddings and journalism.

Buy Canon EOS R6 at Amazon - $2,499

Joby GorillaPod 3K

Joby

Some of the most useful gifts out there for vloggers are Joby’s famous mini-tripods, and the best one for the money is the GorillaPod 3K. Attaching your camera using the secure clip-in mounting plate is dead simple, and you can ensure that everything is even with the built-in level. The flexible legs let you set your camera anywhere to shoot or even wrap it around a tree or other object. The most common usage is as a vlogging handle, as vloggers can bend the legs forward to fit themselves into the video and steady out their shooting.

Buy GorillaPod 3K at Amazon - $85

SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / SanDisk

Your favorite camera nerd can never have enough memory cards, but they can be a pretty pricey gift. SanDisk’s ExtremePro UHS-I SD cards are cheaper than UHS-II cards, but the 90 MB/s read/write speeds are fast enough for most types of photography and video. If your loved one needs that extra UHS-II speed, Lexar’s UHS-II SD 1667X (250MB/s) and 2000X (300MB/s) SD cards are solid picks.

Buy SanDisk Extreme Pro (128GB) at Amazon - $25Buy Lexar 1667X (128GB) at Amazon - $50Buy Lexar 2000X (128GB) at Amazon - $95

Rode VideoMic Go and Wireless Go

Rode

If the vlogger in your life doesn’t already have one, Rode’s wireless and shotgun microphones are solid, affordable gifts. The VideoMic Go is ideal for interviews and run-and-gun shooting, thanks to the crisp directional audio and relative ease of use. It comes with a shock mount to eliminate bumps or vibrations that could interfere with sound and doesn’t require a battery, unlike past Rode models. Meanwhile, Rode’s Wireless Go is one of the most popular wireless lavalier mics out there, functioning as both a microphone and wireless transceiver. It offers a reliable connection and good audio quality, or you can maximize clarity by connecting an external 3.5mm microphone like Rode’s $40 SmartLav+, the Sennheiser Pro Audio ME2 or others.

Buy Rode VideoMic Go at Amazon - $79Buy Wireless Mic Go at B&H - $199

Nanlite LitoLite 5C RGBWW Mini LED Panel

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget / Nanlite

A good light is an awesome tool in your favorite photographer or videographer’s arsenal, and a relatively affordable gift to boot. One of the best all-around models is the Nanlite LitoLite 5C RGBWW Mini LED Panel. It weighs just 4.8 ounces, but offers dimmable lighting across a range of colors, with adjustments either on the fixture or via a smartphone app. It mounts on any wall or light stand via a magnet or quarter-inch threads, has cordless operation and a battery that runs for 1.5 hours at full power (charged via USB). The most interesting feature is special effects that range from a cop car’s flashing lights, flames, candlelights, a lightning storm and more.

Buy LitoLite mini LED panel at Amazon - $75

Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Backpacks are life for photographers and video shooters, so they make great gifts — if you get the right one. Peak Design’s Everyday Backpack 20L is a good choice, thanks to the stylish weatherproof design, internal dividers for laptops, cameras, lenses and more, a wrap-around zipper and a protected laptop sleeve. It offers excellent build quality and Peak Design backs that up with a lifetime warranty.

Buy Peak Design Everyday Backpack at Amazon - $220

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve 17.2

Blackmagic Design

As someone who used to use Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC exclusively, I never thought I’d switch to another app. I did, though, and can’t recommend Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 17.2 enough (either the free or $295 studio version). You get a lifetime of updates, so it’s far cheaper than Adobe’s subscription program that runs $630 per year. Resolve is slightly trickier to learn, but far more powerful than Premiere for key tasks like color grading and effects. Most importantly, I’ve found Resolve to be far, far more reliable than Premiere on a wide range of computers, which is easily the most important “feature” on an editing app.

Buy DaVinci Resolve 17 at B&H - $295

Zhiyun's three-axis camera gimbal houses an LED light and small display

You might already be familiar with DJI's gimbals, but rival Zhiyun actually carries more models — particularly those designed for mirrorless, DSLR and cinema cameras. Now, it has released the three-axis Crane M3 designed for mirrorless cameras, with some interesting new features like a tiny LED light and a built-in screen.

The Crane M3 is about the size of a water bottle and offers tilt, roll and pan axes with locks for each. It works with smartphones and 90 percent of mirrorless cameras, Zhiyun notes. It has a smart new white and black chassis that the company says delivers a better gripping and user experience. It also offers upgraded motors with stronger torque than the original Crane 3. 

A key feature is the quick-release design with different plates that lets you change rapidly between different sized cameras (action and mirrorless, for instance), without the need to rebalance. It also has a quarter-inch adapter so you can connect a professional microphone to an expansion base and run a second cable to the camera. A mic or other accessory can then be attached to a quarter-inch threaded expansion port. Zhiyun is even selling its own shotgun mic in one of the packages, or you can connect other models.

Zhiyun

The most noticeable feature, though, is an 800-lumen 6 watt dual-color LED light. It's designed for "impromptu low-light shooting," Zhiyun notes, with full stepless dimming control and temperature settings via a control wheel. The light is softened with a translucent filter, though it's largely designed for run-and-gun shooting.

Other features include Bluetooth (or USB-C) control of supported cameras and a joystick and wheel to control, roll axis, aperture, shutter and ISO. If you'd rather not set controls using the smartphone app, it also offers a 1.22-inch full-color interactive touchscreen to change mode settings (portrait, vortex and go modes), as well as follow speed. It also shows camera operational status, gimbal connection and battery levels. 

Zhiyun sent me a unit to try out, complete with the expansion plate, so I attached a Panasonic GH5 II. While some functions weren't working (like the camera app), it was one of the easier gimbals to balance that I've tried and it's certainly easy to detach and attach the camera using the quick release plates. The ability to connect a microphone away from the camera is also smart, reducing complexity and rebalancing, though you'd need some accessories to attach a decent-sized microphone. 

Zhiyun

Operation was smooth, with controls well placed for manual operations. The touchscreen was nice, though it's relatively easy to hit it by mistake — I did so once and accidentally changed the language. The lighting feature works great in a pinch, but because of the small size, it casts some harsh shadows. Hopefully all the features I didn't get to try, including app support, will be available soon.  

The Zhiyun Crane M3 is now available to order starting at $369 (£369) for the standard package, $449 (£449) for the combo package with a backpack, cellphone mount and Tripod Plus, or $649 (£649) for the Pro package, including all the above plus the TransMount Shotgun Microphone and TransMount Expansion Base. You can also get customized release plates for specific camera models: ​​Sony α7M3; Sony α7C; Sony α6000; Sony α7S; Sony ZV-E10; Canon M50; Nikon Zfc; Fuji X-S10; Fuji XT-4.