Sony a7R III Scores 100 at DxOMark, Highest Ever for a Mirrorless Camera
DxOMark just awarded the new Sony a7R III a score of 100, the highest mark ever given to a mirrorless camera. The score ties the Nikon D850 DSLR for 1st place among all non-medium format cameras.
The Sony a7R III was particularly impressive in low-light ISO tests, DxOMark writes, with performance that’s only beaten by two medium format cameras — the Hasselblad X1D-50C and Pentax 645Z, the only cameras that have scored higher than the D850 and a7R III — and the Sony a7S II (a low-light monster).
Even though the a7R III scored the same overall score as the Nikon D850, DxOMark says the D850 is ranked higher on its leaderboard because it outperforms the a7R III in the Color Depth and Dynamic Range categories.
“[C]omparing the A7R III sensor to the Nikon D850’s reveals the advantage that the Nikon camera’s lower minimum sensitivity (ISO) value brings,” DxOMark writes. “Photographers who predominantly shoot in bright light or capture motionless subjects with the camera on a tripod will record the most information, be it color, tone, or detail with the Nikon D850 set to ISO 32.”
But if you shoot with higher ISO values, the a7R III will produce “marginally better images.”
“It’s clear that the Sony A7R III has a high-performing sensor that’s capable of capturing images with a broad range of color and tone, while keeping noise well under control,” DxOMark concludes.
Sony just announced that it’s joining the CFast memory card market and has unveiled a new line of professional memory cards. The new G Series cards are “designed to meet the needs of professional photographers and videographers,” and are available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities. The cards have a write speed of up to 510MB/s and read speeds of up to 530MB/s.
Sony claims the cards “far outperform the capabilities of existing CFast cards” and are perfect for high frame rate DSLR cameras, as well as 4K video cameras.
Supporting VPG130, the cards offer “reliable recording of Cinema-grade or high-bitrate 4K video.” The cards guarantee a minimum sustained write speed of 130MB/s.
The CFast cards have also passed a variety of “stringent drop, vibration, shock and rigidity tests,” making them ideal for outdoor work. They work over a wide range of temperatures and are highly resistant to static.
Using the Sony File Rescue software, it will be possible to recover accidentally deleted photos and videos from these cards.
The new 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB G Series CFast cards will be available in early 2018 and will retail at $120, $200, and $350 respectively.
The a7R III is the only camera that made it onto TIME’s list, coming in at #10.
“With notable improvements over its predecessor and a cheaper price than Sony’s A9 Alpha, the recently unveiled Sony Alpha A7R III stands to be one of the best mirrorless cameras ever made,” TIME writes. “It can shoot at twice the resolution of the A9 and has an autofocus that’s twice as fast as the A7R II, although it’s worth remembering that the A9 offers faster burst shooting.
“But the lower price and heightened performance are likely more than enough to impress pro and novice photographers alike.”
“[The a7R III] has received orders exceeding our expectations greatly […], ” the notice reads. “For reservations up to the release date it will be delivered in order by early December. We will do our utmost to respond to customer’s request as much as possible, so please wait for a while.”
The Sony a7R III features a 42MP full-frame backside-illuminated sensor, a 399-point AF system, 10fps shooting, 4K video, 5-axis in-body stabilization, a max ISO of 102400, dual SD card slots, and built-in Wi-Fi/Bluetooth.
Man Finds DJI Customer Data Exposed, Gets Threat and Rejects K Bounty
Security researcher Kevin Finisterre recently found a flaw that exposed private customer data of the Chinese drone company DJI to the public. After reporting the bug to DJI’s bug bounty program, Finisterre received pushback and a legal threat. So instead of collecting his $30,000 bounty, Finisterre is now going public with his findings (and experience).
Ars Technica reports that DJI developers had left private keys for the company’s web domains and cloud storage accounts within source code hosted on GitHub.
Using the keys, Finisterre discovered that he was able to access private data uploaded by DJI customers — not just flight logs and aerial photos, but also government IDs, drivers licenses, and passports. What’s more, some of the flight logs appeared to have been sent from government and military domains (as a side note, the US Army ended its use of DJI drones earlier this year due to “cyber vulnerabilities.”
After reporting the vulnerability to DJI, Finisterre was initially informed that his report qualified for the top bounty of $30,000. He then engaged in a lengthy conversation with a DJI employee who both confirmed the existence of the exposed data and showed a striking lack of cybersecurity know-how.
“This was the first in a long line of education on basic security concepts, and bug bounty practices,” Finisterre says. “Over 130 emails were exchanged back and forth at one point in one thread. At one point days later DJI even offered to hire me directly to consult with them on their security.”
As he continued his conversations with DJI, however, Finisterre soon found that DJI wasn’t readily agreeing that its servers were part of the scope of the new bounty program. Finisterre was also turned off by DJI’s refusal to provide him with protection against legal action.
What’s more, DJI itself sent a threat of charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), accusing Finisterre of “unauthorized access and transmission of information.”
Still, Finisterre went ahead and negotiated a “final offer” from DJI for the contract in the bug bounty program. After consulting with lawyers, however, Finisterre concluded that the terms were horrible.
“[N]o less than 4 lawyers told me in various ways that the agreement was not only extremely risky, but was likely crafted in bad faith to silence anyone that signed it,” Finisterre writes. “I went through various iterations to get the letter corrected. It was ultimately going to cost me several thousand dollars for a lawyer that I was confident could cover all angles to put my concerns to bed and make the agreement sign-able.”
DJI is investigating the reported unauthorized access of one of DJI’s servers containing personal information submitted by our users. As part of its commitment to customers’ data security, DJI engaged an independent cyber security firm to investigate this report and the impact of any unauthorized access to that data. Today, a hacker who obtained some of this data posted online his confidential communications with DJI employees about his attempts to claim a “bug bounty” from the DJI Security Response Center.
DJI implemented its Security Response Center to encourage independent security researchers to responsibly report potential vulnerabilities. DJI asks researchers to follow standard terms for bug bounty programs, which are designed to protect confidential data and allow time for analysis and resolution of a vulnerability before it is publicly disclosed. The hacker in question refused to agree to these terms, despite DJI’s continued attempts to negotiate with him, and threatened DJI if his terms were not met.
Finisterre says that DJI has since given him “cold blooded silence” after his last messages expressing disappointment and offense over DJI’s bug bounty program.
St. Louis Police Ordered to Reaffirm Journalist Rights Once a Month
The St. Louis police department has just made a big move in support of photographer and journalist rights: police officers are now being ordered to read and acknowledge the rights of journalists once a month.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole made the announcement this week after a number of photojournalists and reporters were arrested in September and October. The journalists were covering protests sparked by former police officer Jason Stockley being found not guilty of murder for his 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Getty photographer Scott Olson was arrested on September 17th, reportedly by officers who used a tactic known as “kettling” — the police boxed in protesters, cutting off their exists, and then arrested them for failing to disperse.
“I was holding my cameras, they told me to put them down, I didn’t do that, so I just took a knee, and then they forced me all the way down and then zip-tied me,” Olson told the U.S. Freedom Press Tracker. “They were telling me to drop my cameras. They would not let me take my camera.”
Freelance photographer Daniel Shular was arrested on October 3rd in a similar way, despite clearly being a reporter with bulky camera. He says “officers ignored him when he said that he was a member of the press” and that “that he was carrying two professional DSLR cameras and wearing a National Press Photographers Association press badge.”
The St. Louis police department’s new special order is designed to remind officers of this. Here’s the special order that officers will need to read and acknowledge on a monthly basis:
News media will be given every consideration by Department members so that they may perform their news-gathering function; however, they are not entitled to interfere with an officer’s performance of duty or the safety of citizens.
The order supports the rights of photographers and journalists to shoot photos and gather news as long as they’re not interfering with police officers’ duties or putting other people in danger.
O’Toole says the department will also be increasing cadet training in journalist rights, as well as sending all officers a one-time advisory “emphasizing that while reporters aren’t immune from arrest should they break the law, officers should otherwise do nothing to interfere with journalist’s ability to gather information and report it to the public,” the Post-Dispatch says.
Sony Launches Imaging Edge Software Suite: Remote, Viewer, and Edit
Sony has just announced its Imaging Edge software suite. The suite comes with three key pieces of software: ‘Remote’, ‘Viewer’, and ‘Edit’. Sony say it will speed up workflow and allow users to “unleash the full potential” of the Pixel Shift technology in the new a7R III.
Viewer provides a cataloging system that allows you to search and filter images by ratings.
Editor allows you to to process raw files by adjusting brightness and color, apply Creative Styles, crop, and straighten. You can also then export the edited raw to JPEG or TIFF formats.
The Remote application allows for live tethered shooting. You can adjust the camera’s settings on your computer and display the Live View output on the screen. This means you can “shoot images seamlessly while adjusting the shooting settings.”
Photographer Brian Smith reports that it allows for easy composition adjustments thanks to grid overlays, as well as Aria focus and zoom displays helping with precision focusing.
It also supports Pixel Shift Multi Shooting, allowing you to produce higher resolution images by combining four pixel-shifted frames into a single higher-resolution image.
You can download the new Imaging Edge software suite for free from the Sony website.
Hasselblad Launches Its Own ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ Service
Hasselblad has just launched its own in-house ‘Rent a Hasselblad‘ service, allowing photographers to shoot with the brand’s medium-format cameras for much, much less than the thousands it costs to actually own it.
The service has been designed to make life a little easier for those on the fence about investing in a Hasselblad camera kit. By being able to rent the camera and accompanying lenses for a shoot, Hasselblad is offering users a chance to “try before they buy” at “reasonable rates.”
Should you rent a camera and then decide you wish to purchase one (provided it is within 14 days of your rental) you can have the rental fee go toward the purchase cost.
At the moment the service only works with the Hasselblad X1D-50c medium format mirrorless camera, but the company is already looking to include other models.
A Hasselblad X1D-50c currently costs $9,000 to buy and compatible Hasselblad lenses also cost four-figure sums. For example, the XCD 90mm f/3.2 retails for $3,200.
“Owning a Hasselblad medium format camera system is a significant investment even for a successful high-paid photographer,” says Bronius Rudnickas, Hasselblad Marketing Manager. “Consequently, many professional photographers and enthusiasts haven’t had the opportunity to see what they’re able to create with Hasselblad’s medium format technology.
“The ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ program is designed to change that and we’re looking forward to seeing what photographers are able to produce having easier access to our photographic tools.”
Rent a Hasselblad is a global, online service. You can choose the period of time you wish to use a camera and then the service will give you an appropriate price. For those in the US, it will cost $110 per day to rent the camera and $30 a day to rent the lenses.
Photo of Android Gets a Top Prize in Prestigious Portrait Contest
One of the world’s prestigious international portrait photography competitions has sparked a conversation about the nature of portrait photography after it awarded a top prize to a photo that doesn’t even show an actual human being: the portrait is of an android.
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in the UK calls itself “the leading international photographic portrait competition” and says its mission is “celebrating and promoting the very best in contemporary portrait photography.”
But the 3rd place photo is also attracting quite a bit of attention. Captured by Finnish photographer Maija Tammi, it shows a Japanese android (i.e. a robot designed to look like a human) named Erica.
Third Prize and the John Kobal New Work Award for a photographer under 35 is awarded to Maija Tammi from Finland for her portrait of a Japanese android called Erica. This is the first time that a shortlisted photographer has also won the John Kobal New Work Award. #PhotoPrizepic.twitter.com/10g5J4fBCw
Tammi’s photo was captured at an experimental laboratory in Osaka Japan, and her work is meant to explore the intersection between science and art.
“I had half an hour with Erica and a young researcher in which to take the photograph,” Tammi tells the BBC. “The researcher told me that Erica had said that she finds Pokemon Go scarier than artificial intelligence.”
Here’s what the judges had to say about the photo:
During the judging process, only the title of each portrait is revealed. It was unclear whether the girl was a human or an android, and this ambiguity made the portrait particularly compelling. Tammi’s portrait offers a provocative comment on human evolution.
Some people are naturally questioning how a photo of a robot managed to win a human portrait contest, especially given that the contest’s rules say that photos should portray “living” people.
“The photographs must be portraits,” the official rules state. “‘Portrait’ may be interpreted in its widest sense, of ‘photography concerned with portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals’.
“All photographs must have been taken by the entrant from life and with a living sitter after 1 January 2016.”
In a statement to the BBC, the competition says that it acknowledges that the portrait broke the rules, but the organizers decided against disqualifying it:
The gallery has decided not to disqualify this portrait though accepts it is in breach of the rules. The rules are reviewed every year and this issue will be taken into consideration for next year.
The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary portraiture.
“There are occasions when particularly compelling portraits raise interesting questions about the genre of portraiture, and these may be included at the judges’ discretion.
The cameras will be used in orbit for 12 to 18 months. Only the camera bodies have been sent up to the ISS — instead of shipping brand new lenses, NASA will be reusing lenses and accessories already on the ISS that were launched with the Nikon D4 and D2Xs cameras.
The Nikon D5 cameras make up only a small part of the 7,400 lbs (3,350 kg) of cargo sent up on this mission.
Adobe’s New Lightroom Downloader Exports Your Cloud Photos
Lightroom CC, Adobe’s cloud-based photo-editing software, has until now lacked a way for you to quickly and easily export your photos from the cloud. That changes with the new Lightroom Downloader app.
Storing your high-resolution JPEGs and RAW files on Adobe’s servers is convenient, but the lack of a way to download them all at once can present a problem if you ever wish to leave the Adobe ecosystem. Adobe’s Lightroom Downloader that addresses this concern by making it easier for you to pack up and leave.
Your downloaded files will be structured in a date-based folder hierarchy with any edits to RAW files included in XMP files.
Should you ever decide to stop your Adobe subscription, you will have a year after your subscription’s expiration date to download your files before they are deleted. For users with a trial membership, that window of opportunity is reduced to 3 months after expiration.
Lightroom Downloader can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website and requires an Adobe account with cloud storage to be used.