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Posted 03/25/21
Never afraid to be unique, Sigma has just released the fp L mirrorless camera. The second member of the fp Series of compact, modular, hybrid cameras, the fp L storms in with an all-new, higher-resolution sensor, improved focusing performance, and even brings an accessory electronic viewfinder to the system. When the original fp was released in 2019, it stood out due to its minimal design and distinct feature set that clearly catered more to video applications over stills. The fp L is a revised take on this approach, with more attention given to photography needs, overall speed, and even handling, without giving up its characteristically small stature and customizable ergonomics. Using the 61MP sensor to show off detail and texture. Taken with the 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens. The Top Features What are the new features the fp L brings to the plate? Here’s everything you need to know in quick form. Full-frame 61MP BSI CMOS sensor: Up from the 24MP sensor of the original model, the higher-res sensor boosts detail while still keeping an impressive dynamic range and sensitivity range. Its back-illuminated design also yields an especially clean image with low noise. Phase-detection and contrast-detection AF: Compared to the contrast-detection-only design of the original, the hybrid focusing system of the fp L proves to be faster, better for tracking moving subjects, and more precise in tricky lighting conditions. There’s now an EVF for the system: The EVF-11 Electronic Viewfinder is an accessory component for both the fp L and the fp and is a 3.68m-dot OLED panel with a 90° upward tilting design for low-angle shooting. It’s available in a bundle with the fp L or separately for use with existing bodies. Same exact body design as the original fp: Not necessarily a new feature but, rather, a reaffirmation of the successful design of the compact and portable form factor of the first fp. This also means that all previous accessory grips, cages, the hot shoe unit, and loupe are all compatible with the new model. Continuous power via USB-C: The original fp allowed charging the battery inside the camera while it was turned off. The fp L lets you continuously power the camera via USB-C, which is perfect for time-lapse work, recording longer clips, or for working with the camera in a stationary position, like if using it as a webcam. Improved focusing speeds help catch a quick-moving train. Taken with the 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary lens. A Look Back Before digging more into the new features of the fp L, it’s important to take a look at Sigma’s history of camera design, and why the fp feels like a significant step for the company as a camera manufacturer. Prior to the original fp, Sigma was best known for its use of Foveon sensors, which are still to this day among the most unique sensors available due to their immense color depth and sharpness, albeit with the tradeoffs of reduced sensitivity, dynamic range, and higher noise levels. The fp from 2019 was Sigma’s first camera to adopt the more conventional Bayer array sensor, which offers improved flexibility in terms of dynamic range and sensitivity; as well as benefits video recording capabilities. More than the unique-for-Sigma Bayer sensor, the original fp stood out in the field of mirrorless camera designs for a number of other reasons: It’s still one of the most compact full-frame models available; it doesn’t contain a physical shutter, rather relying on an electronic shutter function; and it’s designed to be modular so each user can build the camera up however they see fit—two different hand grip options are available from Sigma, along with a loupe viewfinder, an accessory hot shoe, compatible third-party cages and grips, and so on. Late afternoon scene mixing harsh, deep shadows with bright, sunlit surfaces. Taken with the 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens. Looking Forward The fp L doesn’t stray from these unique features but does offer a wealth of refinements to push this bold release further, especially with how photographers approach the concept of a modular and multimedia camera. The original fp didn’t quite click with many photographers due to its relatively slow focusing performance, the lack of an electronic viewfinder, and because of the lack of a built-in hot shoe and subsequently cumbersome method for working with flash. Responding to this, Sigma made sure to address most of these points—faster phase-detection focusing and a new accessory EVF—although it still has the electronic shutter only design, and associated 1/15-second flash sync speed, and likely won’t be anyone’s first camera choice for flash photography applications. Conversely, though, the plus side to omitting a physical shutter from a camera’s design is the smaller, lighter-weight design, quiet operation, and theoretically improved durability since there are fewer moving parts. Assuming you’re a photographer who can forgo the need for faster flash sync, then the fp L rewards with the sensor design that includes phase-detection AF for accurate moving subject tracking. In use, this felt like one of the more apparent upgrades over the fp, along with the higher resolution. Focusing is snappier and more accurate, regardless of the type of subject with which you’re working. The 61MP sensor is great for picking out and emphasizing details in ordinary scenes. Taken with the 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens. And then there is the 61MP resolution, which puts the fp L squarely in the realm of an objectively high-resolution camera. In practice, this spec is sometimes a bit too much resolution, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. With the spare resolution, so to speak, Sigma also incorporated a new Crop Zoom feature for “zooming into” the scene by simply cropping in from the full-frame image area. It’s a nice tool to have in-camera, since you can preview the look of a tighter crop while shooting, especially if you’re just working with a single lens that’s a bit too wide for the shot you want. In addition to the major updates, the fp L also received some more minor, but welcomed, additions: There is now a true 24.00 fps frame rate for video recording, Duotone and Powder Blue color modes have been added, custom camera settings can be saved and shared to other cameras via a QR code, you can take screenshots of the camera’s rear LCD, and the Director’s Viewfinder has been updated with new cine cam models and custom frame line options. More emphasis on details with this shot of peeling paint just before sunset. Taken with the 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens. fp L vs fp Comparing the fp L to the original fp, you’ll see the few changes between the models and how they look on paper. The interesting thing about comparing the two cameras, though, is that most of the differences are just an “on paper” matter, since they share the same body design and user interface. On the other hand, this comparison goes to show how just a few changes to a camera’s spec list can truly shake up how one interprets a camera. fp L fp 61MP BSI CMOS 36 x 24mm; Bayer Array Sensor 24.6MP BSI CMOS 35.9 x 23.9mm; Bayer Array UHD 4K up to 30p FHD 1080 up to 120p CinemaDNG 8-bit recording Video (Internal) UHD 4K up to 30p FHD 1080 up to 120p CinemaDNG 8-bit recording DCI 4K at 24p Raw 12-bit recording Video (External) DCI 4K at 24p Raw 12-bit recording Phase-detection and contrast-detection Autofocus Contrast-detection only ISO 100-25600 Expandable ISO 6-102400 Base ISO—Stills: ISO 100/400 Base ISO—CinemaDNG 12-bit and raw output: ISO 100/1250 Base ISO—MOV/CinemaDNG 10-bit, 8-bit: ISO 100/250 ISO Sensitivity ISO 100-25600 Expandable ISO 6-102400 Base ISO—Stills: ISO 100/640 Base ISO—CinemaDNG 12-bit and raw output: ISO 100/3200 Base ISO—MOV/CinemaDNG 10-bit, 8-bit: ISO 100/640 Electronic shutter 1/8000 sec to 30 sec Bulb up to 300 sec Flash sync up to 1/15 sec Shutter Speed Electronic shutter 1/8000 sec to 30 sec Bulb up to 300 sec Flash sync up to 1/30 sec Up to 10 fps Continuous Shooting Up to 18 fps Compatible with EVF-11 EVF Compatible with EVF-11 via future firmware update 3.15" 2.1m-dot touchscreen LCD LCD 3.15" 2.1m-dot touchscreen LCD BP-51 lithium-ion battery Approx. 240 shots/charge Battery BP-51 lithium-ion battery Approx. 280 shots/charge USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C HDMI Type-D 3.5mm Microphone Remote and timecode via microphone port Interface USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C HDMI Type-D 3.5mm Microphone Remote and timecode via microphone port 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8" Dimensions 4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8" 15.1 oz with battery and SD card Weight 14.9 oz with battery and SD card Who Is the fp L For? When the original fp was released, most of the reviews and debates talked about who the camera was actually designed for. While I got along with it, surprisingly from a photographic perspective, most saw it as a compact cine camera that could handle photo tasks in a pinch. The fp L is clearly setting out to sway this balance back to a 50/50 split of users, welcoming both the photographers who want to shoot video and the cinematographers who want to shoot photos to the user base. I’m much more of a photographer, and I see the fp L as a valuable tool despite its apparent drawbacks. The compact size, quietness, and uniquely customizable design far outweigh the slow flash sync for the type of shooting I mainly do. Landscapes, travel shooting, natural light portraiture and lifestyle imagery, and even product shots and still lifes using constant light are all perfect subjects to tackle with the fp L. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the fp L using phase-detection focusing to keep up with fast-moving distant subjects! Taken with the 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary lens. Another strength of Sigma’s fp-series cameras, too, is their participation in the L-Mount Alliance —a three-way partnership between Sigma, Leica, and Panasonic—that further contributes to it being one of the most adaptable systems out there, which is perfect for shooters who like to dabble between manufacturers. And Then the EVF Directly confronting the many requests for a “real viewfinder” on the original fp, Sigma has responded with the EVF-11 Electronic Viewfinder. In fp system fashion, this finder is an auxiliary EVF and attaches to the side of the camera body, much like the included HU-11 Hot Shoe Unit does. This optional EVF connects via the USB-C port and is secured via the side ¼"-20 mount, and the EVF itself has additional headphone and USB-C ports and another ¼"-20 mount for the strap. The finder has a 90° upward tilting design that suits shooting at low angles, and it has an integrated switch for changing between the EVF and LCD for shooting and reviewing images. While the switch works great for changing, it would have been great to see Sigma incorporate an eye sensor for automatic switching between the body and the finder. Otherwise, this 3.68m-dot OLED is just as good as pretty much any other EVF on the market and felt like it had minimal impact on overall battery life in a regular day of shooting. The EVF-11 is the perfect tool for working in bright and direct light conditions, such as during sunset. Taken with the 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary lens. It’s no surprise that I am a fan of the original fp, and it goes without saying that the fp L makes even more sense to me from a photographer’s standpoint. It’s still an undeniably quirky camera, but the fp L tames the quirkiness quite a bit and stands as a serious offering for a variety of image-making tasks. What are your thoughts on Sigma’s sophomore L-mount mirrorless effort, the fp L? Are you a fan of the modular design and unique feature set of the fp L? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 02/04/21
In this B&H Online Video, Doug Guerra tests Sony’s newest full-frame mirrorless camera, the Alpha 1. Sony’s flagship camera is designed to do it all, boasting impressive features such as: 50MP Full-Frame Sensor Up to 30 fps Shooting ISO 50-102400 8K 30p and 4K 120p Video in 10-Bit Real-time Eye AF for humans and animals 759 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection areas 120 AF and AE calculations per second and much more! Learn more about the Sony Alpha 1 at the links below, and when you have had any experience with this camera, tell us all in the Comments section! B&H Explora blog post Watch our First Look video Live Panel Discussion
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Posted 01/21/21
Breaking the status quo of medium format, FUJIFILM has announced the GFX 100S. This mirrorless medium format camera ups the resolution to 100MP, shrinks the body size to something highly portable, and packs in a full suite of multimedia recording features to suit both photo and video needs. Alongside the camera body, FUJIFILM has also introduced the fastest autofocus-enabled medium format lens to date: the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR. Combined, the new camera and lens make medium format approachable and viable for the contemporary image maker, together bringing more speed, more resolution, and more versatility. When FUJIFILM entered the medium format realm in 2017, the company changed the genre with the GFX 50S. This was one of the smallest medium format cameras to date, as well as being one of the more affordable cameras relative to the category. Four years later, FUJIFILM is once again shaking things up with the GFX 100S. Stated simply, this camera is putting 100MP and medium format within reach (and physical grasp) of many photographers. Besides coming in at an impressive price point, this camera is also among the smallest, lightest, and most portable medium format cameras around, feeling more like a full-frame camera than something containing a large 44 x 33mm BSI CMOS sensor. Up until this camera, FUJIFILM’s medium format lineup has consisted of three separate models that were distinct due to physical traits and sensor details. This GFX 100S feels like it’s picking the best features of all three models—the 102MP sensor of the GFX 100, the sleekness of the GFX 50R, and the forethought and presence of the original GFX 50S—and combining them into something truly useful. Statement piece aside, the GFX 100S is, undoubtedly, characterized by its huge, high-res sensor along with its X-Processor 4 image processor, which help to achieve up to 5 fps continuous stills shooting at full-res, along with expandable sensitivity from ISO 50 to 102,400. The slimmed-down body design required an updated 5-axis in-body image stabilization mechanism, which successfully reduces the appearance of camera shake by up to 6 stops when combined with an OIS-enabled GF lens. The new body design also required a new shutter design, which offers increased accuracy and reduced vibration to suit the sensor’s resolution. Both of these elements help facilitate the Pixel Shift Multi-Shot mode, which can be used to create 400MP composited shots in-camera. Beyond stills, the GFX 100S uses its huge sensor area to provide a unique look when recording video, with DCI/UHD 4K recording possible up to 30p with 10-bit F-log or 12-bit ProRes RAW output supported. Complementing stills and video, FUJIFILM has also released a new Film Simulation mode with this camera: Nostalgic Neg, which further emphasizes the filmic look achievable with this camera. The sensor’s design also offers a hybrid autofocus system, which employs 425 selectable points to achieve focus in as little as 0.16 of a second, with AF sensitivity down to-5.5 EV. Phase-detection points cover the full width of the sensor, for high accuracy across the frame, and the processing capabilities afford responsive subject tracking and Face and Eye-Detection AF. Equally as impressive as the high resolution is the compact body, which looks and feels decidedly smaller than your typical medium format body—weighing just about 2 lb for the body and measuring 5.9 x 4.1 x 3.4". Despite the attention given to portability, FUJIFILM has still ensured durability by featuring a magnesium-alloy chassis and full weather sealing around the body, making it suitable for working in inclement weather and freezing temperatures down to 14°F. The body also features a fixed, built-in 3.69m-dot OLED EVF, which offers 0.77x magnification, along with a three-way tilting 3.2" 2.36m-dot touchscreen LCD. A top settings LCD is featured, too, along with a control set that feels like a balance between the GFX 50S and the original GFX 100. The single adjustable mode dial gives quick access to six custom modes, while the top LCD offers immediate confirmation of shooting and exposure settings. Finally, announced alongside this compact beast of a camera, FUJIFILM is also announcing the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR lens, the fastest autofocus lens available for medium format. Historically, medium format lenses have never been known as being “fast,” and one of the most frequently heard requests from shooters, especially since medium format’s recent bump in popularity, has been to make brighter lenses that are akin to the focal length and aperture combos we’re familiar with in the 35mm format world. FUJIFILM is taking on this challenge with this 80mm f/1.7—a short portrait-length prime that should feel like a 63mm lens on full frame. It’s wide enough to give some context to the scene, tight enough to home in on your subjects, and the bright f/1.7 design will certainly contribute to shallow depth of field to help blur away busy backgrounds. Beyond getting the bright maximum aperture right, FUJIFILM has also made sure to limit the physical size of the lens so as not to be too unwieldy. It weighs 1.75 lb and measures 3.7 x 3.9", making it suitable for location-based jobs and all-day handheld shooting sessions. Optically, the lens features one aspherical element and a pair of ED elements, which boost sharpness and color accuracy, and the lens has a rounded nine-blade diaphragm that further contributes to smooth, round bokeh. And, complementing the camera body, the lens is also weather sealed, capable of performing in freezing temps, and has a protective fluorine coating on the front lens element. FUJIFILM is certainly making big moves with the announcement of the GFX 100S and the GF 80mm f/1.7 R WR. It definitely feels like the company is making a pointed attempt at blurring certain barriers between full-frame and medium format while relying on medium format’s inherent strengths to keep the two formats distinct and separate. It’s exciting to see an attainable 100MP medium format mirrorless camera out in the world, as well as relatively compact and impressively fast lens for the system. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s latest splash in the medium format realm? Do you think the GFX 100S is helping to bridge the gap between full-frame and medium format? What about the fast lens? Let us know your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s announcement in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 01/21/21
FUJIFILM has just rolled out a trio of new products for the FUJIFILM X-Series: the X-E4 mirrorless camera, the XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR telephoto zoom, and a redesigned XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR compact prime lens. With a little something for every photographer, these new offerings add even more depth and versatility to an already-impressive camera system. The X-E4 brings FUJIFILM’s top APS-C sensor, processor, and video capabilities to the sleek X-E rangefinder body; the long-ranging XF 70-300mm lens is designed for landscape and wildlife shooting, when keeping your kit light and streamlined is of the essence; and the improved XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens retains all of the stealth and portability benefits of a traditional “pancake” lens for those looking to stay discreet while capturing moments. FUJIFILM X-E4 with the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Lens, and the XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens The FUJIFILM X-E4 is armed with the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor that is in the flagship X-Series cameras—the X-T4 and X-Pro3—but this sensor is now living in the smaller and sleeker X-E rangefinder-styled body. Besides a new sensor, this latest generation X-E camera also features a 3.0" 1.62m-dot, 180° forward-tilting LCD touchscreen and sports a 2.36m-dot OLED EVF. Autofocus has been clocked at 0.02 second and functions down to-6 EV for true low-light use. Equally at home capturing stills or video, the X-E4 records both DCI and UHD 4K at up to 30p in 4:2:0 8-bit color to an SD card or 4:2:2 10-bit color to an external device via HDMI. The camera can also make super-slow motion Full HD videos at 240p. FUJIFILM X-E4 in silver and black The X-E4 body only is available, or with the new XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR lens in kit form. The camera can also be accessorized with a leather case, metal handgrip, and thumb rest. The new XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR is a versatile lens, designed to give the telephoto reach demanded by nature and landscape photographers in a portable, hand-holdable form factor weighing just 1.5 lb and measuring 5.2" long. Offering an equivalent 107-457mm focal-length range, this reach is benefited by an advanced optical design that includes a pair of ED elements to suppress chromatic aberrations and color fringing throughout the zoom range for high clarity and color accuracy. A close minimum focusing distance of 2.7' suits working with nearby subjects, and the lens is also compatible with both the XF 1.4x TC WR and XF 2x TC WR teleconverters to extend its reach even further. Balancing the optics and improving handheld shooting is an Optical Image Stabilization system that compensates for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the lens is also dust and moisture resistant and can operate in temperatures as low as 14°F. FUJIFILM XF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens On the other end of the lens spectrum is the new, redesigned XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR, which serves as an update to the popular pancake XF 27mm f/2.8. A lens that has always been popular with photographers looking to travel light and blend into their surroundings, this compact prime adds a couple of new features to make it an even more useful lens: 1. A marked aperture ring that functions even when the camera and lens are powered off 2. Weather sealing. With a 35mm equivalent focal length of 41mm, this lens strikes a balance between the traditional 35mm and 50mm focal lengths and gives street, travel, and everyday photographers a light and unobtrusive optical tool for creating images. Available as an add-on option, the lens can also be equipped with a hood and dedicated lens cap for the hood. FUJIFILM XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR Lens What are your thoughts on the latest X Series additions? Are you a fan of the rangefinder-styled design of the X-E4? Happy to have a sleek telephoto zoom option? Or looking forward to the improved 27mm pancake lens? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 01/13/21
Among the madness that is CES, Sony slipped in a surprise photo announcement: the FE 35mm f/1.4 GM lens. Sony has been very clear that this full-frame E-mount lens is aiming to deliver top-tier image quality in a compact package, and it looks like the company absolutely hit the mark. The 35mm GM appears to be one of the best and most versatile prime lenses to join Sony's ever-growing mirrorless system. The Basics As stated earlier, the FE 35mm f/1.4 GM is designed for use with full-frame E-mount cameras. This includes options like the a7/a9 series, as well as the Cinema Line cameras, including the FX6 and FX9. It will also work well with APS-C and Super 35mm models where it will offer a 52.5mm equivalent focal length. If you shoot practically any contemporary Sony camera, you should be happy with this lens. Photographs © Stephanie Gross The FE 35mm f/1.4 GM is a perfect match for a7-series cameras and creates a compact and versatile system. With this G Master lens, Sony has once again put the emphasis on resolution and bokeh. Using two eXtreme Aspherical (XA) elements, it retains sharpness out to the edges. Assisting is an extra-low dispersion (ED) element that practically eliminates chromatic aberrations—a common problem with fast-aperture lenses. These specialized elements also contribute to smooth bokeh, and an 11-blade diaphragm ensures circular bokeh shapes. And there is a Nano AR Coating II to minimize ghosting and flares. The lens can focus down to 10.6" with AF or 9.8" in manual, and it makes use of two eXtreme Dynamic (XD) linear motors for fast, quiet focus, and is internally focusing. There is a large, rubberized focus ring that benefits from linear response manual focus for better control, too. If you are familiar with the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM, you will find the 35mm GM is quite similar in terms of design. The 35mm is only slightly larger, which makes it incredibly compact for its particular combination of focal length and aperture. It measures 3.0 x 3.8" and weighs less than 1.2 lb. It's impressive. Other matching features include a physical aperture ring, de-click switch, focus hold button, AF/MF switch, fluorine coating, and dust- and moisture-resistant construction. Hands-On Thoughts This lens is beautiful and feels great in the hand. Sony has done wonders lately with the 24mm and, now, the 35mm GM as the company shows that you can still make lenses that are extremely compact and don't compromise on image quality. The 35mm GM is another winner. The lens is very similar to the 24mm GM, which is good. Images are sharp and distortion is very well controlled. Resolving power does not seem to be an issue as it appears to maintain detail even with the demanding 61MP sensor in the a7R IV. You can make out individual hairs and threads on clothing, with no issue. Sony a7R IV; f/5; 1/100 sec; ISO 125 Bokeh is smooth with the fast f/1.4 aperture, and the close minimum focusing distance allows users to create images with extremely shallow depth of field. This makes it useful for a variety of applications, including portraits. Also, the fast aperture is good for low-light situations. It might be a little too shallow in some cases, so be careful not to just have it at f/1.4 all the time. It also does get a little bit sharper if you stop down to f/2 or f/4, though it isn't a dramatic jump. Wide open is still very sharp. Sony a7R IV; f/1.4; 1/80 sec; ISO 80 Vignetting at wider apertures is very minimal and is very easily cleaned up in Photoshop or any other raw developer. And, as I wrote earlier, distortion is not a problem in the slightest. This shouldn't be too surprising since 35mm isn't that far off from normal 50mm and shouldn't display much distortion in the first place. Sony a7R IV; f/1.4; 1/100 sec; ISO 500 Autofocus is fast, as is expected, and it tracks well with Sony's features, including Eye AF. There really haven't been issues with AF and Sony lenses in a good long while. Video shooters will also appreciate this because the focus motors are silent and work very well with the a7S III's speedy system, and I would expect similar performance on the FX6 and FX9. The linear response manual focus is also very good, though I'm not sure it's quite to the level of mechanically linked focus; it's as good as focus-by-wire can get. And the de-clickable aperture ring is always nice. Previous Pause Next There isn't anything I can pick out as a flaw with this lens. It's smaller than many competing options, is able to deliver on promised image quality, and, while not cheap, isn't truly that expensive—considering its feature set. Sony knocked it out of the park with this one. Compared to Sony's Other 35mm Lenses Now, you might be wondering how this is different from the older Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens since they share core specs and premium branding. It's a good question. Primarily, since the 35mm GM is newer, it is able to make use of Sony's latest optical technologies, such as XA elements and the Nano AR Coating II. It also has an improved focus system that includes a linear response manual focus and smoother performance that is great for video. Plus, it is 0.6" shorter and lighter by about 3.7 oz—a notable savings on both fronts. You might simply call the 35mm GM "better," but I would say they are just different, and they hit different price points to appeal to different users. Sony Distagon T* FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens | Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Lens | Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 Lens Beyond the 35mm f/1.4 ZA, Sony has two other full-frame 35mm lenses to choose from—the FE 35mm f/1.8 and Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA. The 35mm GM still sits far above these in terms of optics performance and speed. Even though this new f/1.4 is relatively compact, when compared to the f/1.8 and f/2.8 it looks large. The 35mm f/2.8 is incredibly small and is one of my favorite lenses because of that. However, most folks will likely be drawn to the 35mm f/1.8 because it offers a bit more speed with only a bit more bulk. The f/1.8 still doesn't have everything since it lacks a physical aperture ring and the more advanced AF of the new GM. Still, it is likely the best choice for most photographers. If you want the best, the choice is clear: Get the FE 35mm f/1.4 GM. Breakdown: FE 35mm f/1.4 GM: Incredible resolution, compact design, fast f/1.4 aperture, and the latest tech. The top-of-the-line 35mm. FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA: Excellent resolution, the "ZEISS Look," and a fast f/1.4 aperture. FE 35mm f/1.8: Best all-arounder with lightweight design, advanced optics, good f/1.8 aperture, and middle-of-the-pack feature set. FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA: Incredibly compact, near-pancake design, excellent optical quality. Specialty optic if you want the smallest lens without compromising image quality. What are your thoughts on the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens? Share them in the Comments section, below. This might just be my next purchase and, considering that the 35mm is my favorite focal length, could quickly become my most-used lens. See more of Stephanie Gross's photographs on Instagram @yungstephie.
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Posted 10/13/20
After such a strong freshman effort, Nikon is back with the sophomore release of the Z 6II and Z 7II full-frame mirrorless cameras. Recognizing the initial strengths, the second generation of these foundation cameras for Nikon focuses on improving and evolving an already strong feature set and design language. Faster processing, quicker shooting rates, and fine-tuned design elements are all featured with these v. II models, yet they also retain the same beloved ergonomics and image quality. Nikon Z 6 II Nikon Z 7 II When the original Z 6 and Z 7 were released nearly two years ago, they were groundbreaking cameras that effectively signaled Nikon's commitment to mirrorless. They were the first full-frame, or FX-format, mirrorless models in Nikon's lineup and they were the first two models featuring the then-new Z lens mount. Nikon has since added a couple more Z-system models, but the Z 6 and Z 7 have stayed the course as the top-of-the-line models, until today. Nikon Z 6II Nikon Z 7II 24.5MP FX Format (With Optical Low Pass Filter) Sensor 45.7MP FX Format (No Optical Low-Pass Filter) Dual EXPEED 6 Processors Processor Dual EXPEED 6 Processors Up to 14 fps Continuous Shooting Up to 10 fps 124 Shots Buffer 50 Shots ISO 100-51200 ISO ISO 64-25600 UHD 4K 30p (60p available via future firmware update) FHD 120p Full Pixel Readout Video UHD 4K 60p FHD 120p 273 On-Chip Phase-Detection (90% Frame Coverage) Focus Points 493 On-Chip Phase-Detection (90% Frame Coverage) 5-Axis In-Body VR Image Stabilization 5-Axis In-Body VR 1x CFexpress Type B, 1x SD UHS-II Memory Card Slots 1x CFexpress Type B, 1x SD UHS-II 3.6m-Dot OLED EVF Viewfinder 3.6m-Dot OLED EVF 3.2" 2.1m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD Monitor 3.2" 2.1m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen These second-gen cameras, much like the first gen, are mostly similar but have a couple of distinguishing features to suit different types of shooters. The Z 6II is the all-around, multimedia model positioned for the photographer/videographer/do-it-allographer. It has a full-frame 24.5MP BSI CMOS sensor that places it in the proverbial sweet spot for speed and resolution, and has a sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200. Dual EXPEED 6 image processors bring a 3.3x larger buffer than the original Z 6, for recording up to 124 consecutive frames versus the 37 frames of the old model, along with a faster 14 fps continuous shooting rate with single-point AF or 12 fps with other AF modes. Nikon Z 6 II Mirrorless Digital Camera In terms of video recording, UHD 4K at 30 fps with full pixel readout is supported immediately, with 60p support coming via a future update. External 10-bit recording is available, too, along with N-Log and HLG (HDR) recording modes, and an optional firmware update will be available in the future to add 12-bit raw recording via an Atomos recorder. The Z 6II's sensor also incorporates 273 on-chip phase-detect focusing points that cover approximately 90% of the frame. Previous Pause Next Nikon Z 6 II Sample Images The Z 7II, on the other hand, is the more specialized model of the two, due to its higher-resolution 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor, which lacks an optical low-pass filter for higher sharpness and definition. Dual EXPEED 6 processors are featured here, too, which afford a 2.2x larger buffer than the original Z 7, an impressive 10 fps continuous shooting rate, and a versatile ISO 64-25600 sensitivity range. Nikon Z 7 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Despite the higher resolution, the Z 7II is still a capable video camera, with immediate support for UHD 4K up to 60 fps, along with 10-bit external recording, N-Log, and HLG support. Additionally, the sensor includes 493 phase-detection AF points that also cover approximately 90% of the frame for high accuracy. Previous Pause Next Nikon Z 7 II Sample Images Differences aside, the similarities between the two cameras are numerous and impressive. With both cameras now touting dual image processors, Nikon claims the 3.6m-dot OLED EVFs have greatly reduced blackout times and more fluid motion rendering. Like the predecessors, the cameras have a 3.2" 2.1m-dot tilting touchscreen, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity enable wireless remote control and image transferring, as well as firmware updating via Snapbridge. In-body 5-axis image stabilization is featured again for sharper handheld shooting, and low-light AF performance has been improved with sensitivity down to-4.5 EV. One change that's sure to make everyone happy is a new dual memory card slot design, including one CFexpress Type B slot and one UHS-II SD slot, for flexible storage needs. Some other notable updates for gen II: the cameras support full-time external power via USB Type-C and allow you to change the direction of the manual focus ring; Wide-Area AF has been added with Eye Detect support; timed long exposures up to 900 seconds are possible; and creative recording modes, such as slow motion FHD 120p video, multiple exposure stills, Focus Shift mode, and in-camera time-lapse recording, help extend the range of possible uses. What are your thoughts on the second-generation Nikon Z 6II and Z 7II mirrorless cameras? What's your favorite new feature from these cameras? What would you like to see Nikon add to the next iteration? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below. If you are looking for more information, check out a recording of our launch even below. This launch panel featured B&H experts Derek Fahsbender and Robert Sansivero, Nikon product manager Mark Cruz, and professional photographers Joe McNally and Charmi Pena. They covered top features of the cameras, why they like the new cameras, and answer some common questions—so be sure to check it out.
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Posted 10/13/20
FUJIFILM's new X-S10 mirrorless digital camera packs an impressive set of features for hybrid photo and video creators into a lightweight yet ergonomic body. An APS-C format 26.1MP BSI sensor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and the ability to record 4K video all set in a body 30% lighter than past X-series cameras make this camera an excellent choice for on-the-go creatives. It is also available kitted with a 16-80mm or 18-55mm lens.  Accompanying the X-S10 is the updated XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS WR lens, which now features dust and weather sealing, an additional stop of image stabilization, and an updated aperture ring. FUJIFILM X-S10 Mirrorless Digital Camera The X-S10 uses a 26.1MP BSI X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor to create the kind of high resolution and color-accurate images for which FUJIFILM cameras have become known. Its quad-core X-Processor 4 CPU enables the X-S10 to achieve focus in less than 0.02 seconds and shoot continuously at up to 20 fps. Responsive Tracking, Face, and Eye-Detection autofocus take the onus of keeping your subject in focus off your shoulders. For scenarios that require immediate action, the X-S10 also includes an updated Auto/Scene Positioning mode for fast and intuitive capture. Finally, a working sensitivity range of ISO 160-12800, expandable to ISO 80-51200, equips the X-S10 to tackle a variety of lighting environments. Optimized for handheld shooting, the X-S10 incorporates a noticeably deep grip into its build for confident handling with various lens sizes. This is complemented by 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which provides up to 6 stops of compensation so you can shoot at lower than usual shutter speeds or attach long lenses without worry. For ultimate stability, combine it with any of FUJIFILM's OIS system lenses for even greater stabilization benefits. A final level of protection is provided by a mechanical shock absorber, which prevents vibrations from the camera's shutter from affecting images. The X-S10 follows the trend of hybrid mirrorless cameras designed for today's generation of still and video creators and includes a 180-degree vari-angle touchscreen LCD that makes it easy to monitor capture and make adjustments from behind or in front of the camera. The X-S10 offers DCI/UHD 4K recording up to 30p as well as Full HD recording up to 240p for super-slow motion applications, and a micro-HDMI port allows external 4:2:2 10-bit color using an optional recorder. Additionally, 4-axis digital image stabilization is also applicable to video capture to minimize shake during handheld use. Following in the tradition of past FUJIFILM mirrorless cameras, the X-S10 incorporates 18 film simulation modes for analog converts. New with this camera is the ETERNA Bleach Bypass simulation, a desaturated, high-contrast look perfect for creative applications. Alongside the X-S10 camera is the freshly updated XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS WR lens, a fast zoom with a 15-36mm equivalent focal length range that is perfect for landscape, architectural, street, and other wide-angle applications. While maintaining the same optical design that made this lens popular upon its first release, the new version adds dust and weather sealing so you can use it in less-than-ideal conditions without fear. The updated version also offers improved stability in the form of an additional stop of stabilization, making it capable of 3.5 stops of vibration reduction. An aperture lock has also been added, and the aperture and focusing rings have been reduced in size. What do you think of FUJIFILM's latest camera and lens? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 09/14/20
If you’ve ever wondered just how small Sony could make its full-frame mirrorless cameras, the newly announced a7C is here to provide you with the answer. Squeezing a 24.2MP BSI sensor into an APS-C form factor body, along with 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization, the a7C is the smallest and lightest camera of its kind, opening up a world of possibilities for photographers and videographers. Accompanying the new ultra-portable body, Sony has also unveiled the FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 lens, the smallest and lightest standard zoom FE lens. Paired with the a7C, its similar sleek stature offers all of the benefits of a versatile full-frame system without the usual heft. Rounding out the new releases is the HVL-F28RM Flash, an easily pocketable wireless flash perfect for any of Sony’s a7 series cameras. Who Is the a7C For? The a7C is the perfect camera for vloggers, travel photographers, or any other image maker who wants the benefits of Sony’s full-frame mirrorless system in the smallest and lightest possible form factor. Sharing a similar design to Sony’s a6000-series APS-C mirrorless cameras, the a7C is svelte enough to carry comfortably in a purse, tote bag, or backpack, making full-frame everyday carry a reality. Conversely, the a7C could also serve as an excellent second camera or compact option for photographers already invested in Sony’s full-frame camera system. Sony a7C at a Glance: 24.2MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor BIONZ X Image Processor UHD 4K30p Video with HLG/HDR and S-Log3/2 15 Stops of Dynamic Range 5-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD Smallest Full-Frame Camera with IBIS to Date Full-Frame Sensor Captures High-Quality Imagery The a7C features a 24.2MP back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor paired with a BIONZ X Image Processor to capture high-resolution imagery quickly, with minimal noise. Capable of ISOs up to 204800, and boasting 15 stops of dynamic range, the a7C handles challenging lighting environments with ease so you can count on your images being sharp and accurate no matter where you are shooting. 5-Axis Image Stabilization Minimizes Shake In-body image stabilization (IBIS) has been a calling card of Sony’s mirrorless cameras for years. The a7C incorporates 5-axis IBIS so you can shoot stills and video handheld with minimal shake affecting your images. This also allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds so you can work in low-light environments or explore creative scenarios that would not otherwise be possible. Advanced Hybrid Autofocus Keeps up with the Action The a7C benefits from 693 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points for reliable and fast autofocusing. Real-time Eye AF maintains focus on your subject’s eyes whether you’re composing a portrait, documenting an event, taking a selfie, or recording a vlog. Sony’s new Animal Eye AF is available for capturing stills of your pets, and the a7C also features Real-Time tracking, which comes in handy when trying to keep pace with moving subjects common in wildlife, sports, and street photography. When shooting stills, the a7C supports up to 10 fps continuous shooting so you can be confident that you will get the shot you want. 4K Video Recording The a7C is an excellent hybrid option for those who need to capture stills and videos using the same camera. It offers UHD 4K recording at up to 30 fps with full pixel readout and 4:2:0 8-bit output, as well as Full HD recording at up to 120 fps for slow-motion playback. S-Log2, S-Log3, and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) support are all available to achieve greater dynamic range and offer more flexibility during post-production. Headphone and microphone jacks are integrated into the body so you can record and monitor audio through the camera, and the a7C features a Multi-Interface Shoe that supports a digital audio interface when used in conjunction with shoe-mounted mics. Also, an HDMI Type-D port can be used in conjunction with an external recorder to gain 4:2:2 8-bit recording up to UHD 4K at 30 fps. Unique Yet Familiar Design The a7C’s design shares its form factor and the layout of many of its controls with Sony’s a6000 line of cameras. Chief among its similarities is the rangefinder-esque positioning of its 2.36m-dot EVF, as well as the general layout of its rear control buttons. Unlike past models, its SD card slot has been moved to the left side of the body alongside USB-C and micro-HDMI ports. And for wireless connectivity, the a7C can connect to your smartphone or computer via high-speed 2.4 or 5GHz Wi-Fi bands. Tethered shooting is also possible via USB for applications that benefit from larger or additional screens. The a7C was designed with today’s generation of content creators in mind. A vari-angle, side-opening 3.0" touchscreen LCD can be flipped out and rotated, making it easy for vloggers to adjust settings and monitor recordings in real time. Further streamlining operation, a top panel record button is easy to access whether you are in front of or behind the camera. The a7C is also compatible with Sony’s Wireless Shooting Grip for even greater control when shooting self-directed content. Complementing the portability of the a7C is its dust- and moisture-resistant design, so you can shoot outside without checking the forecast. A magnesium-alloy chassis further reinforces the build of the camera. Finally, the a7C uses the same NP-FZ100 battery as other recent Sony cameras, lasting up to 740 images or 225 minutes of recording between charges. A Stepping Stone for Sony Photographers The a7C introduces a fourth category within Sony’s full-frame mirrorless a7-series lineup. Joining the video powerhouse a7S III, high resolution a7R IV, and hybrid a7 III, the a7C becomes the compact camera of choice at this format. In terms of features and size, the a7C fits right between Sony’s a6600 and a7 III mirrorless cameras. On one hand, it serves as a step up for APS-C sensor photographers itching to take full advantage of Sony’s FE lenses. On the other hand, it serves as a step down in size for photographers who need an ultra-compact body without sacrificing sensor size.   a7C a7 III a6600 SENSOR 24MP Full-Frame BSI 24MP Full-Frame BSI 24MP APS-C PROCESSOR BIONZ X BIONZ X BIONZ X VIDEO RESOLUTION UHD 4K up to 30p 8-bit, 4:2:0 Internal UHD 4K up to 30p 8-bit, 4:2:0 Internal UHD 4K up to 30p 8-bit, 4:2:0 Internal RECORDING LIMIT None Up to 29 min. None SENSITIVITY ISO 100-51200 (Extended: ISO 50-204800) ISO 100-51200 (Extended: ISO 50-204800) ISO 100-32000 (Extended: ISO 100-102400) AUTOFOCUS 693-Point Fast Hybrid AF Upgraded Real-Time Tracking 693-Point Fast Hybrid AF 425-Point Fast Hybrid AF STABILIZATION 5-Axis In-Body 5-Axis In-Body 5-Axis In-Body VIEWFINDER 2.36m-Dot OLED 0.39"-Type EVF 2.36m-Dot OLED 0.5"-Type EVF 2.36m-Dot OLED 0.39"-Type EVF SCREEN 3.0" Vari-Angle Touchscreen 3.0" Tilting Touchscreen 3.0" 180° Tilting Touchscreen MEDIA 1 x SD (UHS-II) 1 x SD (UHS-II) 1 x SD (UHS-I) 1 x SD (UHS-I) BATTERY NP-FZ100 (740 Images/225 min.) NP-FZ100 (710 Images/210 min.) NP-FZ100 (810 Images/250 min.) DIMENSIONS 4.88 x 2.32 x 2.80" 5.00 x 3.74 x 2.87" 4.72 x 2.32 x 2.64" WEIGHT 1.12 lb 1.44 lb 1.11 lb A Compact Lens for a Compact Camera Accompanying the a7C is Sony’s new FE 28-60mm f/4-5.6 Lens, the lightest and most compact FE standard zoom to date, weighing only 5.8 oz. Providing a perfect range for event, portrait, street, and landscape photography, the newest addition to the FE lineup serves as an excellent all-around lens for everyday carry. Its retracting design also increases its portability when not in use. Optically, this new lens incorporates three aspherical elements for superior sharpness and accurate rendering. A linear AF motor provides fast and silent autofocusing, making it well equipped for still and video applications, and a minimum focusing distance range of 11.8-17.7" (depending on focal length) is perfect for capturing selfies and close-ups without strain. Finally, like the a7C, it features a dust- and moisture-resistant design for safe use outdoors. Also, beyond the kit lens, Sony has recently introduced the LA-EA5 A-Mount to E-Mount Adapter, which is its most capable adapter, helping to bring Sony A-mount shooters over to the sleek E-mount mirrorless system. This adapter expands the usable number of lenses for mirrorless users without compromising on features and compatibility. Powerful, Pocketable Flash Finally, Sony has also announced the HVL-F28RM External Flash, an extremely compact and portable light perfect for pairing with the a7C. The new flash incorporates wireless radio control so you can work with it atop your camera or incorporate it into your existing Sony flash system to add an extra splash of light wherever you may need it. This flash has a guide number of about 92' and, going along with the common theme of today’s announcement, a more compact form factor than Sony’s HVL-F32M and HVL-F45M flashes. The Bottom Line If you have been thinking about stepping up to a full-frame camera but are concerned about bulky bodies and heavy lenses, the a7C may be just the camera you’ve been waiting for. If you already shoot full frame but have yet to find a camera body small enough for everyday carry, the a7C could fill this gap in your collection. Finally, if weight and size are limiting factors and your practice requires image stabilization, the a7C cannot be matched. How would you use Sony’s latest mirrorless camera? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 08/03/20
Olympus has announced its latest OM-D series mirrorless camera, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, which becomes the fourth iteration of this compact Micro Four Thirds camera since the series debuted in 2014. The E-M10 is the sleekest camera in the OM-D lineup and this latest Mark IV is not only lighter than its predecessor, it has improved features, including an upgraded 20MP sensor. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV Designed for travelers, enthusiasts, and those who appreciate great image quality from a truly compact interchangeable lens camera, the E-M10 Mark IV features a 20MP Live MOS sensor, which is a resolution boost over the Mark III’s 16MP sensor.  Other welcomed upgrades include a selfie-friendly 180° tilt-down touchscreen LCD, compared to 45° on the Mark III, and the availability of direct USB charging. Continuous shooting with the camera’s mechanical shutter is a bit faster, as well, reaching 8.7 fps, and its in-body 5-axis image stabilization compensates for approximately 4.5 stops of camera shake to improve image quality in low light. There is also UHD 4K video recording, up to 30 fps, along with Full HD 60 fps recording and high-speed HD video at 120 fps. Wireless connectivity was limited to Wi-Fi in previous models but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are now included for “always-on” connection and background connection via Bluetooth and the OI Share Smartphone app. Also, an Instant Film filter was added to the array of fun and useful in-camera Art Filters. Already known for its palm-size retro good looks and easy handling, this version of the E-M10 managed to shave off a bit of weight, and with its kit-mate attached (the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ), it weighs right around 1.25 lb. It really is an ideal camera with which to “leave the phone in your pocket” and jump into interchangeable-lens photography. Having used several E-M10 models over the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate this series, not simply because of its handling and attractive, compact body, which includes a deep grip enabling easy one-handed shooting and more stability when using a long lens. I like its Digital ESP metering system, the range of focus features, such as Eye Priority and Face Priority, and the Silent Modes available in SCN, AP, P, A, S, M, and ART modes. AP Mode also includes a new Sweep Panorama function. Its 121-point Contrast Detection autofocus provides Super Spot AF when a Micro Four Thirds lens is attached. Manual focus assist functions such as magnification and focus peaking are very helpful, and the 1.04m-dot rear touch control monitor enables touch AF, in addition to shutter release, Wi-Fi connection, and other settings control. Also, catering to social interests, the flip-down 3.0" monitor works in tandem with the camera’s dedicated selfie mode, which turns on automatically when the monitor is flipped down. The rear button layout is also adjusted for simple operation when in selfie mode. 4K and Full HD video are supported, and a multi-mode built-in flash, as well as a hot shoe for external flash, are available. M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS Lens                                                         Olympus has also announced a new telephoto zoom lens, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS, which is an ideal match for the new E-M10 Mark IV, given that it is also quite compact for a lens with such long reach. Its 200-800mm equivalent focal length is well suited to bird, wildlife, sports, and other genres of image making that require distance from your subject. When paired with the MC-20 M.Zuiko Digital 2.0x Teleconverter, its equivalent effective focal length reach goes up to 1600mm! Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 100-400mm f/5-6.3 IS Lens At just 8.1" long and 2.5 lb, its handsome barrel is also dust- and splash-proof, affording a measure of security when working in rain or sub-optimal conditions. In-lens image stabilization adds to the ability to capture sharp images in low light and, when working at extreme telephoto lengths, a focus-limiter switch aids in fast autofocus control. Minimum focus distance is a very respectable 4.3' with 0.57x magnification. The lens has 21 elements in 15 groups, including a series of high refractive index elements and extra-low dispersion glass, and a Zuiko Extra-Low Reflection Optical Coating to minimize unwanted reflections and provide high-resolution telephoto imaging. While this lens is compatible with all of the Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, it is a fine partner for the new OM-D E-M10 Mark IV mirrorless camera, which is an ideal camera for those looking to step up from their smartphone, improve their photography skills, or just have a palm-size, fully automatic and manual camera as an everyday carry. Please let us know your experiences with the Olympus E-M10 series and ask any questions you may have in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 07/28/20
The Sony a7S III is finally here! The newest Sony camera features a brand-new back side-illuminated 12.1MP full-frame CMOS sensor that delivers vibrant, yet natural colors, fast autofocus for photo and video, internal 4K 10-bit video up to 120 fps, touch focus in every mode, 5.5 stops of image stabilization, passive heat management, and much more! Doug Guerra takes the Sony a7S III out for a real-world test in various conditions, including low light. He also compares its features to the Sony a7S II and the Sony a7R IV. Learn more about the Sony a7S III Mirrorless Digital Camera at B&H Explora.
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