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Pentax K-3 Mark III initial review



Pentax K-3 Mark III initial review

The Pentax K-3 Mark III is Ricoh’s latest high-end APS-C DSLR. It’s built around a 26MP BSI-CMOS sensor and has been redesigned from the ground up to become, on paper, the most capable, most usable K-mount camera ever made.

Although it shares much of its styling with the K-3 II, launched in 2015, the third iteration has been significantly redesigned and re-thought to offer improvements across the board. From the viewfinder and the sensor right down to the shutter button, it’s essentially an all-new DSLR.

Key specifications

  • 25.7MP BSI-CMOS sensor
  • SAFOX 13 AF module with 101 AF points (25 cross-type)
  • 5-axis in-body stabilization rated to 5.5EV
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy construction
  • Viewfinder with 1.05x magnification
  • Revised three-dial control system
  • 8-direction AF joystick and touchscreen for AF positioning
  • UHD 4K movie capture at up to 30p

In addition, the K-3 III has all the usual modes making clever use of the image stabilization system, including Anti-Aliasing Filter Simulation and the multi-shot Pixel Shift Resolution mode that shoots and combines four offset images to cancel out the Bayer pattern and remove the need for sharpness-sapping demosaicing.

The K-3 III will be available from late April in a choice of black or silver with a recommended price of $2000. A weather-sealed D-BG8 battery grip with matched controls will also be available. A kit combining the body and grip (along with a strap and additional battery) is priced at $2300.

What’s new…


At the heart of the K-3 III is a new BSI CMOS APS-C sensor. Ricoh describes it as a 25MP chip, but the cameras resolution is actually 25.7MP, raising the possibility that it’s related to the one using in Fujifilm’s X-T4 (albeit with a more conventional color filter array and no pixels masked for phase detection).

Either way, the sensor has no anti-aliasing filter and is capable of 14-bit readout at up to 12 fps. Ricoh says the new sensor has better high ISO noise characteristics than the 24MP chip in the KP and that this combines with improved processing power from its PRIME V processor and ‘Accelerators Unit II’ pre-processor to give better detail retention and noise reduction in low-light conditions. Though this could well mean noise reduction applied in to Raw data, as it did with the K-1 Mark II.

The camera can shoot at up to ISO 1,600,000.


One of the most significant revisions in the K-3 III is an all-new viewfinder. Building on a Pentax tradition of large, prism-type viewfinders, the K-3 III’s viewfinder is a pentaprism offering an impressive 1.05x magnification

Viewfinder magnification figures are usually calculated with 50mm lenses, regardless of sensor size, so some of that high figure comes from the apparent magnification of the camera’s APS-C sensor. But, even taking this into account, it would be equivalent to a 0.68x magnification finder on full-frame, making it only a fraction smaller than the 0.70x finder in the Pentax K-1 models. That’s small by the standards of many mirrorless cameras, in which viewfinder size isn’t dependent on the viewing angle of the sensor, but is the largest ever fitted to an APS-C DSLR.

More than just the size, the new finder has been designed using a transparent display panel in the viewing path, rather than having the display of a separate panel projected into the finder, as was the case in previous K-3s. Ricoh says this change provides a 10% improvement in brightness over the Mark II. It also allows more flexibility in display customization.

New Autofocus module

Ricoh has developed a completely new AF module for the K-3 III. The Safox 13 has 101 AF points, 25 of which are cross-type. 41 of the AF points can be manually selected and the centermost nine points can focus at down to -4EV when paired with lenses that are F2.8 or brighter.

The optics in front of the lens module expand the coverage of AF points to be 20% wider in the frame than the Safox 11 module in the K-3 II.

On top of this, the camera’s continuous AF system has been completely reworked. The K-3 II uses a 307k-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor that provides the AF system with a higher-resolution view of the subject for subject recognition and tracking. A review of the predictive AF algorithms and the deep-learning-trained ability to recognize faces or subjects such as birds promises improved AF-C performance in a range of situations.

Improved in-body stabilization

In-body stabilization is no longer the rarity it was when Pentax first introduced its Shake Reduction system, and the K-3 III’s system has been re-worked to keep up with the competition.

The five-axis ‘SR II’ IS system is rated at 5.5EV, using CIPA standard testing, which is a 1.0EV improvement over the rated performance of the K-3 II, and 0.5EV more than the K-1 Mark II. A dedicated ‘SR’ button lets you switch the camera between the default Auto mode, off, or ‘Panning’ mode, which lets you adjust the response, if the Auto mode isn’t correctly detecting slow, intentional panning movements.

Shutter mechanism

As with all the other major components of the camera, the K-3 III’s shutter mechanism has been completely reworked. It uses a coreless motor to drive both its shutter and mirror mechanisms, improving response times. The mirror mechanism has been made lighter, to reduce inertia.

The redesign means the mirror settles quicker, giving shorter viewfinder blackout times and giving the AF and metering systems more time to assess the scene between shots. This helps support the camera’s ability to shoot at up to 12 fps (11 fps with continuous autofocus).

The shutter unit is rated to withstand 300,000 releases, and the adoption of a leaf switch mechanism under the shutter button helps give a smoother response as well as increased durability to match.

4K capture

The K-3 III becomes the first K-mount camera to offer 4K video capture. It can shoot UHD 4K at up to 30p and includes touchscreen control to avoid adding noise during recording.

Ricoh says the new IS system is quiet enough to be used during video capture, meaning the K-3 III is able to offer 3-axis (Roll, pitch and yaw) correction using mechanical stabilization, rather than the digital IS used in previous models.

How it compares…

It’s fair to say that the APS-C DSLR market is not what it once was. So we’ve tried to include meaningful reference points, however you choose to look at the K-3 III.

If you’re in the market for an enthusiast-level APS-C camera, Fujifilm’s X-T4 is the one to beat. If you’re not set on an APS-C sensor then you can get the very capable Nikon Z6 II for a similar amount of money. If it has to be a DSLR, then Nikon’s D500 remains an impressive contender, but if you have K-mount lenses you need to use, the K-1 Mark II is also worth a look.

Pentax K-3 III Fujifilm X-T4 Nikon Z6 II Nikon D500 Pentax K-1 II
MSRP (body) $1999 $1699 $1995 $2000 $1999
Sensor res. 26MP 26MP 24MP 21MP 36MP
Sensor size APS-C APS-C Full-frame APS-C Full-frame
In-body image stabilization 5.5 stops 6.5 stops 5.0 stops Lens only 5.0 stops
Autofocus system Secondary PDAF
(101 pts)
On-sensor On-sensor Secondary PDAF
(151 pts)
(33 pts)
LCD type Fixed Fully articulating Tilting Tilting Flexible-tilt
LCD size/res 3.2″ 1.6M-dot 3.2″ 2.1M-dot 3.2″ 2.1M-dot 3.2″ 2.1M-dot 3.2″ 1.0M dots
Viewfinder res / mag
Optical, 0.68x (equiv.) 3.69M-dot
Optical, 0.67x (equiv.) Optical
Burst speed 11 fps (12 fps with AF locked) 15 fps / 20 fps mech/
14 fps 10 fps 4.4 fps
Storage 1 UHS-II SD;
1 CFexpress Type B / XQD
4K/30p (4K/60p w/ 1.18x crop)
(1.5x crop)
Full HD / 30p
Mic / headphone socket Yes / Yes Yes / Yes (with included adapter) Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
Battery life 800 shots 500 shots 410 shots 1240 shots 670 shots
Weight 820g (28.9oz) 607g (21.4oz) 705g (24.9oz) 860g (30.3oz) 1010g (35.6oz)

Making a pick from such a diverse list is, of course, challenging. The K-1 II will offer better image quality if you mount full-frame lenses (and what are likely to be pretty competitive, albeit ~15MP, images when cropped to APS-C), but it uses an older AF system, can’t shoot as fast, is heavier and can’t shoot 4K video. The Nikon will again offer better image quality and has a very capable AF system. The Fujifilm can shoot faster and has a much better video spec, but like the Nikon can’t offer the longer battery life or optical viewfinder of a DSLR.

Essentially, it’s impossible to say whether the K-3 III makes sense for you without knowing why you’re considering it. However, what should be clear is that it’s a well-specced machine even compared with the latest mirrorless rivals, which means it’s a fair step forward from older APS-C Pentaxes.

Body and handling

The K-3 III iterates on the ergonomics of the exiting K-3 models, which we’ve frequently praised. We’re pleased to be able to say that the K-3 III doesn’t diverge too much from this pattern: the magnesium alloy construction maintains the impressively dense and solid feeling that its predecessors conveyed. And, of course, it offers the extensive weather-sealing Pentax cameras have become known for.

The handgrip and dial position will be immediately familiar to Pentax shooters: it’s a camera that feels immediately comfortable in the hand.

Smart function button

The K-3 III iterates on the ‘Function Dial’ concept of the K-1 II. This adds an extra dial to the camera’s top plate, just forward of its rear command dial, which can be used to quickly access camera functions beyond the basic exposure controls of the two main command dials.

Rather than having a forth dial to dictate the action of the Function Dial, the K-3 III has a button that cycles the dial’s function between the options custom assigned to it. You can select up to five options from a list of 22, to give you quick access to settings such as ISO, exposure comp, AA Filter Simulation, white balance or crop mode.

It’s even possible to customize which of the sub-options of particular settings are assigned to the dial, giving quick access only to the functions you want to use.

Instead of a function dial, the K-3 III has a small control to the right of the viewfinder hump for switching between viewfinder photography, live view shooting and video mode.


The K-3 III gains an 8-direction joystick, which allows rapid AF point selection by allowing diagonal movement. Pressing the joystick inwards resets the AF point to its central position.


The K-3 III’s rear panel is a large, 3.2″ 1.62M-dot LCD. It’s a fixed panel, offering no articulation or movement, but it’s touch-sensitive in all the ways that make sense in a DSLR. In live view mode it can be used to position the AF point, position the AF point and focus, or position, acquire focus and fire the shutter. It can do similar things in movie mode and these settings can be defined separately.

The camera’s menus have been redesigned to make them touch operable and you can make all the expected pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-scroll movements that you might expect in image playback mode.

The K-3 III’s viewfinder has an eye sensor that switching off the screen when you put your eye to the camera. The finder also protrudes further from the back of the camera than on its predecessor, reducing the risk of accidentally touching the rear screen with your nose.


The K-3 III uses the same D-LI90P battery as the K-1 Mark II. This is rated to deliver 800 shots per charge, per the CIPA standard test methods. As usual, these figures don’t necessarily reflect how many shots you’ll get (it’s not uncommon to achieve double the rated figure, depending on how you shoot), but the ability to shoot without any display panels active gives the DSLR design a major advantage over mirrorless rivals.

The battery can be charged over the camera’s USB-C socket. Sadly the K-3 III doesn’t come with an external charger for its battery, it relies on a supplied USB wall adapter and cable.

Initial impressions

The K-3 III gains an SR button. The exact function of all these buttons can be fine-tuned.

For transparency it should be made clear that, despite press releases, teasers and mockups dating back to at least September 2019, we’ve not had too much time with the K-3 Mark III, hence the lack of image samples.

However, the time we have spent, along with the details Ricoh has released make clear how much effort has gone into this camera. We also know that the Pentax system has a dedicated following who want to know about it, so we’ve tried to provide as much detail as is currently possible

Alongside this announcement, there’ll no doubt be plenty of YouTube videos ridiculing the idea of spending so much time and effort developing an enthusiast DSLR in what could be seen as the post-DSLR era. But that’s not the way I see things. I’m no Shakespearean scholar: I come not to bury the K-3 III, but to praise it. In concept at least.

When we reviewed the Nikon D850, it struck me that it might be the pinnacle of DSLR design. In part because it was so good in so many ways but also because, with the exception of a few models for the pro-sport/photojournalism niche, it seemed unlikely that there’d be many contenders for its crown.

I can’t yet say how well Ricoh has done in this regard, but it’s clear that its engineers have looked at every detail of the K-3 II and asked ‘what could be done to make this better?’

Ricoh has also developed a matching battery grip, the D-BG8. It features the same controls as the camera body. The second battery it adds can also be charged using the camera’s USB port.

There’s an argument that this is proof of Ricoh trying to produce the perfect buggy whip* when most other companies are looking at how to replace the internal combustion engine, but perhaps this only matters if you assume that every camera is trying to be the best camera for everyone. It may make sense for Ricoh to try to be the last company offering an up-to-date DSLR for those photographers who love the optical viewfinder experience.

The K-3 III’s price can also look somewhat anachronistic. The Nikon D500 was launched for $2000 and Canon’s EOS 7D Mark II for $1800, but a long time has passed since those cameras were released. It’s no longer uncommon for full-frame cameras to be released at or below $2000 (including Ricoh’s own very impressive Pentax K-1 models).

But that still assumes that these other cameras would make appropriate substitutes for the K-3 III. If you’ve spent a decent chunk of your life and your income building up a set of good Pentax lenses, that may not be the case. For some people it’ll be better to have an improved DSLR for their K-mount lenses than to have yet another mirrorless option that would still require a whole new set of lenses or risk a sub-optimal experience with adaptors.

Perhaps the only question that matters for the K-3 Mark III is: does it offer enough of an improvement to prompt existing Pentax owners to upgrade? We can’t know for certain until we’ve tested it, but it’s clear that Ricoh has done all it can to make it a ‘yes’, with promised improvements to just about every aspect of the camera. Maybe we’ve not yet seen the last great DSLR, after all.

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World’s largest camera: 3.1 gigapixels for epic timelapse panos of the universe




World’s largest camera: 3.1 gigapixels for epic timelapse panos of the universe

We have a winner for sensor Top Trumps: the LSST camera is the world’s largest astronomy camera. It’s more than 350 times the size of a full-frame sensor, for reference.

Photo: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

“Space,” according to Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “is big. Really Big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

It turns out the same is true of cameras made to map space. You may think your full-frame camera is big but that’s nothing compared to the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) camera recently completed by the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

You may have seen it referred to as the size of a small car, but if anything that under-sells it. SLAC has essentially taken all the numbers you might recognize from photography, made each of them much, much bigger and then committed to a stitched time-lapse that it hopes will help to understand dark matter and dark energy.

Unlike many astro and space projects, LSST is recognizably a camera: it has a mechanical shutter, lenses and rear-mounting slot-in filters.

Image: Chris Smith / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

We got some more details from Andy Rasmussen, SLAC staff physicist and LSST Camera Integration and Testing Scientist.

The LSST has a 3100 megapixel imaging surface. That surface is an array made up of 189 individual sensors, each of which is a 41 x 40mm 16.4MP CCD. Each of these sensors is larger than consumer-level medium format and when arranged together gives an imaging circle of 634mm (24.9″). That’s a crop factor of 0.068x for those playing along at home.

The individual pixels are 10μm in size, making each one nearly three times the area of the pixels in a 24MP full-frame sensor or seven times the size of those in a 26MP APS-C, 61MP full-frame or 100MP 44 x 33 medium format model.

To utilize this vast sensor, the LSST has a lens with three elements, one of which is recognized by Guinness World Records as “the world’s largest high-performance optical lens ever fabricated.” The front element is 1.57m in diameter (5.1 ft), with the other two a mere 1.2m (3.9 ft) and 72cm (2.4 ft) across. Behind this assembly can be slotted one of six 76cm (2.5 ft) filters that allow the camera to only capture specific wavelengths of light.

One of the six 76cm (2.5 ft) filters that are swapped over, typically once the camera has shot a set of images of the 1000 regions of the sky it captures.

Photo: Jacqueline Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

This camera is then mounted as part of a telescope with a 10m effective focal length, giving a 3.5 degree diagonal angle of view (around a 634mm equiv lens, in full-frame terms). Rasumussen puts this in context: “the outer diameter of the primary mirror is 8.4 meters. Divide the two, and this is why the system operates at f/1.2.”

That’s f/0.08 equivalent (or around eight stops more light if you can’t remember the multiples of the square root of two for numbers that small).

Each 16MP chip has sixteen readout channels leading to separate amplifiers, each of which is read-out at 500k px/sec, meaning that it takes two seconds. All 3216 channels are read-out simultaneously. The chips will be maintained at a temperature of -100°C (-148°F) to keep dark current down: Rasmussen quotes a figure of < 0.01 electrons / pixel / second.

But the camera won’t just be used to capture phenomenally high-resolution images. Instead it’ll be put to work shooting a timelapse series of stitched panos.

The sensor array under construction in 2020. Each of the sensors in the 3 x 3 array being installed is a 41 x 40mm chip. The final camera uses 189 of these imaging sensors, plus another 8 for positioning the camera, along with 8 wavefront sensors at the corners of the array.

Photo: Farrin Abbott/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The camera, which will be installed at the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile, will shoot a series of 30 second exposures (or pairs of 15 second exposures, depending on the noise consequences for the different wavelength bands) of around 1000 sections of the Southern sky. Each region will be photographed six times, typically using the same filter for all 1000 regions before switching to the next, over the course of about seven days.

This whole process will then be repeated around 1000 times over a ten-year period to create a timelapse that should allow scientists to better understand the expansion of the universe, as well as allowing the observation of events such as supernova explosions that occur during that time.

The sensors, created by Teledyne e2v, are sensitive to a very broad range of light “starting around 320nm where the atmosphere begins to be transparent,” says Rasmussen: “all the way in the near-infrared where silicon becomes transparent (1050nm),”

The sensors, developed in around 2014, are 100μm thick: a trade-off between enhanced sensitivity to red light and the charge spread that occurs as you use deeper and deeper pixels.

No battery life figures were given, but the cost is reported as being around $168M.

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A nature photography tour of Madagascar, Part 1: Andasibe




A nature photography tour of Madagascar, Part 1: Andasibe

Madagascar. A huge, wild, faraway Island. Even mentioning its name provokes an exotic, exciting feeling in my soul. I had wanted to visit Madagascar for many years before finally realizing my plans in 2022. It was one of the most wonderful trips I’ve done in recent years, one that stayed with me for a while. It included many adventures, diverse and exciting locations, new experiences and a heck of a lot of photography. Enough photography to be interesting (in my opinion, at least) even for the general photography crowd, not to mention nature photographers.

Madagascar may not be a beginner’s destination in the sense that it poses some challenges to the traveler. My scouting trip included extremely long drives (one of them two days in total, during which we had to sleep in a guest house surrounded by a very tall metal wall…).

In some locations, sleeping conditions aren’t on par with the expectations of the typical western tourist. The already-poor country was also badly hit by COVID-19, which left some of its better hotels permanently closed. It is currently recuperating and reinstating the tourism infrastructure, domestic flight schedule and higher-tier accommodation possibilities.

While it has more than its fair share of domestic problems, Madagascar is an absolute heaven for wildlife and landscape enthusiasts. In this series of articles, I’d like to tell you the story of my scouting trip to this magical island. I hope it gives you new insights and information about its sheer natural diversity and triggers your interest in visiting. While a Madagascar trip is not always easy or comfortable, it is extremely worth it for the adventurous soul.

Without further ado, let’s move on to my first stop on the trip: Andasibe-Mantadia National Park. Andasibe Park is located about 150 km (3-4 hours) east of Madagascar’s capital of Antananarivo, near the small village of Andasibe. It consists mostly of a vast rain-forest, which is habitat to numerous species, many of them endemic, rare and endangered, among which 11 lemur species, including brown lemurs, Diademed sifaka lemur, wooly lemur and others. There are several chameleon species and numerous bird and insect species. Andasibe is especially known for its population of the largest lemur species, the Indri Indri.

In general, lemurs are quite hard to photograph. They are energetic, move around quickly and often, and are increasingly reluctant to get close to humans since feedings are being phased out (a wonderful thing in any other respect). They live in dense forests, so good viewings and compositions are few and far between. The photographer often has to chase the animal as it moves through the canopy, which can be challenging and exhausting, especially in the wet, muddy, humid environment. I got back to the lodge absolutely dirty with mud and plant material from head to toe every day.

An adult Indri Indri in the rain.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/500 sec | ISO 1600 | 516mm

Indri Indri (locally called Babakutu, which may be translated as “father of a little boy”) is a diurnal tree-dwelling lemur. It lives in family groups, feeding mainly on leaves but also seeds, fruits and flowers. Photographically, the Indri Indri is a wonderful subject. The black and white fur (with hints of brown and grey) is starkly contrasted by its beautiful, large green eyes (and by the colors of its forest habitat). It is also very loud and often bursts into song, allowing easier detection and photography of the singing itself.

The only photographic disadvantage is that it chooses to stay high up in the canopy most of the time (other than when going to the toilet), which can harm the shooting angle; remember, as wildlife photographers, we usually prefer an eye-level vantage point. When you see an image of an Indri Indri at eye level, chances are it was shot during human feeding, which should be avoided and discouraged.

The song of Babakutu is made of high-pitched glissandos and can be heard from far away. In my opinion, it’s pure joy to listen to. It’s very much an arboreal equivalent of a whale’s song.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/320 sec | ISO 3200 | 600mm

Besides the Indri Indri, there are several other beautiful lemur species in Andasibe.

Brown lemurs are some of the most common lemurs, but they’re fun to photograph. They are also the most likely to climb to eye level, making them easier to capture.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5 | 1/160 sec | ISO 3200 | 176mm

Eastern wooly lemur. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t usually smoke illicit substances.
More seriously, this lemur species is highly endangered due to rapid habitat loss.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5.6 | 1/100 sec | ISO 800 | 277mm

The Diademed sifaka lemur is one of the largest and most colorful lemur species. Classified as critically endangered, population estimates for the species range between 6,000 and 10,000 individuals.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F6.3 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 3200 | 388mm

An eastern lesser bamboo lemur (also known as the gray bamboo lemur). These lemurs are extremely quick and nimble, jumping from branch to branch in the thick forest. They are also incredibly cute and furry.

Canon 5D4, Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3
F5.6 | 1/500 sec | ISO 3200 | 324mm

Malagasy chameleons are known for their striking colorations. I shot several species of chameleons on the trip, but the most beautiful one was the male Parson’s chameleon, whose coloration was especially vibrant and eye-pleasing.

A close-up portrait of a male Parson’s chameleon. Note the amazing coloration on the abdomen.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
252mm, F5.6, 0.2 sec, ISO 100

Another close-up from a different angle. The horns are nicely visible here.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5.6 | 1/250 sec | ISO 3200 | 244mm

In addition to the usual close-ups, I took one ultra-wide angle image with my 11-24mm to better show the chameleon’s habitat.

Canon 5D4, Canon 11-24mm F4
F11 | 1/4 sec | ISO 800 | 11mm

It’s interesting to note that the female Parson’s chameleon is comparatively dull in appearance. I guess the male is dressed to impress!

A female Parson’s chameleon.

Canon 5D4, Canon 70-300mm F4-5.6
F5 | 1/200 sec | ISO 1600 | 155mm

In the next article in this series, I’ll talk about shooting the Red Tsingy, a man-induced beautiful natural phenomenon, which was the next stop on my Madagascar trip.

Erez Marom is a professional nature photographer, photography guide and traveler based in Israel. You can follow Erez’s work on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to his mailing list for updates and to his YouTube channel.

If you’d like to experience and shoot some of the world’s most fascinating landscapes with Erez as your guide, take a look at his unique photography workshops in Svalbard, Greenland, Madagascar, the Lofoten Islands, Namibia and Vietnam.

Erez also offers video tutorials discussing his images and explaining how he achieved them.

Selected Articles by Erez Marom:

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Atomos announces Ninja Phone for connecting camera to iPhone for monitoring and recording




Atomos announces Ninja Phone for connecting camera to iPhone for monitoring and recording

Atomos has announced the Ninja Phone, a monitor and recorder that connects cameras with HDMI out ports to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The unit acts as a ‘co-processor’ to encode a camera’s HDMI signal to 10-bit ProRes or H.265 and send the encoded video to the phone. There is also support for USB-C mic input.

A Ninja Phone iPhone app was also announced to control the unit. Through the app, users can control settings and file transfer between the Ninja Phone and their iPhone. The app will also allow for vertical video capture, live streaming and remote file uploading to cloud services. An encoded ProRes file can also be saved locally to the phone as a .mov file, allowing users to build some redundancy into their workflow by having the source camera and iPhone both save the same file.

There are some limits, however. Source camera output taps out at 1080/60p, meaning you can’t send a 4K signal from a camera to the Ninja Phone.

No plans were shared for bringing the device to Andriod phones or other USB-C iPhones.

Atomos’ announcement today spent considerable time gushing about the iPhone 15 Pro/Max display stats (2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG). Atomos has said the device leans on Apple’s A17 chip to decode the video feed and display video with no latency, so it’s unclear how dependent the Phone Ninja is on Apple’s tech or if there are technical limits for if/when the Phone Ninja may come to other devices.

The Atomos Ninja Phone is expected to ship in June 2024 at an MSRP of $399. The unit will also require a $59 phone case, which Atomos says is needed to “ensure that the locking cable system can be deployed.”

Now your phone can be a Ninja too!

Melbourne, Australia, April 12, 2024 — Atomos announces Ninja Phone, a whisper quiet, 10-bit video co-processor for smart phones and tablets that lets you record from professional HDMI cameras.

The first release of Ninja Phone, demonstrated at NAB 2024 at the Atomos booth (C4931) is designed for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max and their amazing OLED display. It’s a powerful combination that uses Atomos’ world-beating knowledge of Apple ProRes encoding and Apple’s cutting-edge silicon and screen technology to create the world’s most beautiful, portable, and connected professional monitor-recorder.

Atomos has a proud history of working closely with all leading Japanese camera manufacturers and as you would expect from an Atomos product, the Ninja Phone lets you connect any professional camera with an HDMI output to Apple’s magnificent OLED screen in HDR.

The Ninja Phone encodes the camera’s HDMI signal to ProRes or H.265, both formats at superb 10-bit quality for perfect HDR. The encoded video is sent via Ninja Phone’s USB-C output to the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max’s USB-C port. The iPhone’s super-advanced A17 system-on-a-chip decodes the pristine camera sensor image to display on the high-resolution iPhone screen.

The display is a massive improvement over typical built-in screens that come with most cameras, boasting a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio and supporting Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG. It can display 11 stops of dynamic range with a peak brightness of 1600 nits, perfect for HDR and outdoor viewing.

The Ninja Phone iPhone app, downloadable from the App Store, controls and coordinates the operation of both the Ninja Phone and the iPhone, making them feel like a single, responsive device. For social media creators who need to shoot in 9:16 portrait mode, the Ninja Phone app adjusts to horizontal or vertical video modes. The Ninja Phone app will run on iOS and iPadOS, and will be downloadable at the time of shipping.

The camera’s output appears on the iPhone screen with zero latency thanks to Atomos’ super-efficient ProRes pipeline – encoding on the Ninja Phone and decoding via Apple’s state of the art iPhone.

We’ve added professional video and cinematic smarts to the world’s most advanced phone, says Atomos CEO and Co-Founder Jeromy Young. Ninja Phone is for the thousands of content creators who capture, store, and share video from their iPhone 15 Pro but aspire to work with professional cameras, lenses, and microphones. At the same time, the Ninja Phone is a perfect tool for longer-form professionals who want to adopt a cloud workflow without a complex and expensive technology footprint.

The ProRes-encoded video can be stored on the phone as a .mov file and/or simultaneously transcoded by the iPhone to 10-bit H.265 for workflows like camera to cloud, or live streaming via the iPhone’s built-in 5G and Wi-Fi 6E connectivity.

The Ninja Phone accommodates external iPhone accessories by integrating a separate USB-C hub to allow necessary professional add-ons like wireless USB-C microphones, for perfectly synchronizing video and audio. Third-party accessories are supported via the Ninja Phone with more added over time.

Powered by standard NP series batteries, a battery eliminator, or a USB-C 5V/3A input, the Ninja Phone charges the iPhone while in use with any of these power sources, ensuring long phone operation can match professional shoots.

Atomos has developed a unique and rugged locking ecosystem to maintain a secure grip on connected HDMI and USB-C cables. With Atomos locking cables, it is the most robust capture cable system available today, although it is fully compatible with standard, non-locking cables.

The iPhone 15 Pro’s enhanced connectivity opens a door for Ninja Phone users to make full use of Atomos’ Cloud Services (ACS). These include super-efficient Camera to Cloud workflows, remote live production, and cloud editing. With ACS, content creators can publish video to social media within minutes, and filmmakers can send their footage to their postproduction team via the cloud for the fastest possible production workflow.

I’m so proud that Atomos is once again teaming up with Apple to unlock video creativity through ProRes, and this time it’s on Apple’s most advanced device ever, the iPhone 15 Pro. I’m especially pleased that this product has no fan and is whisper quiet. Atomos has always had an amazing relationship with Japanese camera manufacturers too, and now the Ninja Phone connects these incredible cameras directly to an iPhone’s storage, monitor and its extraordinary wireless and cell networking,” added Young.

Thanks to the iPhone 15 Pro, this is the first time Ninja users will have access to an OLED monitor screen, which, at 446 PPI, is by far the highest resolution, most capable HDR monitor that’s ever been available to them,” added Young. It’s the perfect partner for many of the new, smaller format mirrorless cameras coming out of Japan, for example Fujifilm’s X100 and G series, Canon’s R5 Series, Sony Alpha Series, Nikon Z series cameras and Panasonics GH and S series.

Remarkably, the Ninja Phone weighs in at just 95gms, and a sprightly 335gms when coupled to an iPhone 15 Pro.

The Ninja Phone will cost USD/EUR 399, excluding local sales taxes, and is expected to begin shipping in June 2024. Customers will also need to choose the case for iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, not just to protect the phone in normal use, but to ensure that the locking cable system can be deployed. The cases will be available separately at USD/EUR 59 each, also excluding local sales taxes.

In summary, the Ninja Phone is an essential addition to any filmmaker’s toolkit. It combines road-tested Atomos ProRes expertise with an out-of-this-world screen, proven professional monitoring features, and built-in mobile connectivity for collaborative, remote editing.

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