All posts in “optics”

Fujifilm’s upcoming X-Pro3 camera has a unique design sure to appeal to film photographers

Fujifilm is teasing its forthcoming X-Pro3, the successor to its popular digital rangefinder mirrorless camera, ahead of its official full introduction on October 23. During its X Summit event going on today, the company showed off the X-Pro3 in detailed images (via Fujirumors), revealing for the first time its innovative new rear display design.

The X-Pro3 has an LCD on the back, as do most modern digital interchangeable lens cameras, but it’s definitely unique: The screen is hidden in normal use, facing inward towards the camera back while the outward side of the rear door instead offers the photographer a small OLED “mini screen” that contains only basic info about shooting settings.

The rear display will show details like shutter speed, f-stop, ISO and film simulation and file size settings, and if you want to actually see a preview of the virtual viewfinder image, you’ll need to flip down the screen to reveal the color LCD. The downward flipping display is therefore ideal for doing things like shooting from a low angle, with the photographer looking down to check framing – just like you could do on classic film cameras with waist-level viewfinders.

The X-Pro3 still offers an electronic viewfinder, but that’s also more akin to film photography vs. digital, since photographers using the camera will be much more likely to either use the viewfinder or shoot waist-level with the flip down screen – while also being able to check their various settings at a glance by quickly pulling the camera way from their eye and looking at the back.

Fujifilm’s lineup of APS-C digital interchangeable lens cameras have already won many fans thanks to their film simulations, which mimic types of film the company offered previously. The X-Pro3 will focus even more on replicating a film-inspired experience backed by modern digital photographic technology, and will also include a new film simulation called “Classic Negative” as well.

Classic Negative

Other details about the camera include titanium construction, which is going to make it a super durable but lightweight camera, and three different color options to choose from.

New X Pro3 colorsNo pricing or availability info is out yet, but we’ll find that out along with full details on October 23.

Leica releases the CL Street Kit for all of your decisive moments

Leica’s pricey – but sexy – CL camera is the closest thing you can get to an original portable luxury shooter without spending more than a used Toyota Corolla. The CL, which launched last year, is essentially a pared down M series camera that has gotten rave reviews over the past year. Now, in time for Noel, Leica is offering a Street Kit that includes the CL along with a Leica Summicron-TL 23 mm f/2 lens. This flat pancake lens gives you a “tried and true 35 mm equivalent focal length for the quintessential reportage style of shooting” and should suffice for street shots taken on the wing while wandering the darkened alleyways of certain Central European cities.

Now for the bad news. Leica is traditionally some of the most expensive and best made camera gear on the market and this is no different. While you get a camera that should last you well into the next millennium, you’ll pay a mere $4,195 for the privilege, making it considerably less than the M series but considerably more than the camera on your phone. The package a saves you a little over $800 if you purchased each item separately.

That said, it’s nice to see a bundle like this still exists for a solid, beautifully-wrought camera, a nice lens, and even a leather carrying strap. Besides, isn’t the creation of photographic art worth the price of admission? As noted Leica lover Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Au fond, ce n’est pas la photo en soi qui m’interesse. Ce que je veux c’est de capter une fraction de seconde du reel.” Preach, brother.

Soviet camera company Zenit is reborn!

If you’re familiar with 20th century Soviet camera clones you’ll probably be familiar with Zenit. Created by Krasnogorsky Zavod, the Nikon/Leica clones were a fan favorite behind the Iron Curtain and, like the Lomo, was a beloved brand that just doesn’t get its due. The firm stopped making cameras in 2005 but in its long history it defined Eastern European photography for decades and introduced the rifle-like Photo Sniper camera looked like something out of James Bond.

Now, thanks to a partnership with Leica, Zenit is back and is here to remind you that in Mother Russia, picture takes you.

The camera is based on the Leica M Type 240 platform but has been modified to look and act like an old Zenit. It comes with a Zenitar 35 mm f/1.0 lens that is completely Russian-made. You can use it for bokeh and soft-focus effects without digital processing.

The Leica M platform offers a 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD screen, HD video recording, live view focusing, a 0.68x viewfinder, ISO 6400, and 3fps continuous shooting. It will be available this year in the US, Europe, and Russia.

How much does the privilege of returning to the past cost? An estimated $5,900-$7,000 if previous incarnations of the Leica M are any indication. I have a few old film Zenits lying around the house, however. I wonder I can stick in some digital guts and create the ultimate Franken-Zenit?

Researchers find a new material for quantum computing

Rumors of commercial quantum computing systems have been coming hot and heavy these past few years but there are still a number of issues to work out in the technology. For example, researchers at the Moscow Institute Of Physics And Technology have begun using silicon carbine to create a system to release single photons in ambient i.e. room temperature conditions. To maintain security quantum computers need to output quantum bits – essentially single photons. This currently requires a supercooled material that proves to be unworkable in the real world. From the release:

Photons — the quanta of light — are the best carriers for quantum bits. It is important to emphasize that only single photons can be used, otherwise an eavesdropper might intercept one of the transmitted photons and thus get a copy of the message. The principle of single-photon generation is quite simple: An excited quantum system can relax into the ground state by emitting exactly one photon. From an engineering standpoint, one needs a real-world physical system that reliably generates single photons under ambient conditions. However, such a system is not easy to find. For example, quantum dots could be a good option, but they only work well when cooled below -200 degrees Celsius, while the newly emerged two-dimensional materials, such as graphene, are simply unable to generate single-photons at a high repetition rate under electrical excitation.

Researchers used silicon carbide in early LEDs and has been used to create electroluminescent electronics in the past. This new system will allow manufacturers to place silicon carbide emitters right on the quantum computer chips, a massive improvement over the complex systems used today.

“Using their theory, the researchers have shown how a single-photon emitting diode based on silicon carbide can be improved to emit up to several billion photons per second. That is exactly what one needs to implement quantum cryptography protocols at data transfer rates on the order of 1 Gbps,” the researchers write. “Silicon carbide-based single-photon sources are compatible with the CMOS technology, which is a standard for manufacturing electronic integrated circuits. This makes silicon carbide by far the most promising material for building practical ultrawide-bandwidth unconditionally secure data communication lines.”

There is no timeline for commercialization of the technology but given the interest in quantum computing we can expect these little chips to shoot out single photons sometime soon.

The Ring Floodlight Cam is an outdoor security slam dunk

A good home security camera is easy to install while offering surprising peace of mind. The Ring Floodlight Cam, $249 and available now, offers both.

The camera mounts where your old floodlight would have been – if you have a standard outdoor electrical box it will connect right into your current setup and it even worked with my older “pancake” style electric box – and it connects to your network via Wi-Fi. It works flawlessly right out of the box and all you have to remember is to not turn off the light switch (thankfully they include a sticker for your switch). Once it’s set up you can make the cam react to motion and light up when it senses an intruder nearby or simply stay on all night, maintaining vigil over your car or fruit trees. It also includes a night vision mode that keeps an eye on things even in the dark.

The system will send notifications when it senses motion and a $30/year monitoring plan will keep video for up to 60 days. The video, as you can see below, is good enough to make out motion and possibly identify people but it doesn’t quite offer enough resolution to read a license plate a few feet away.


Finally, like other Ring devices, you can speak to folks who are approaching the light through the app and even set off a siren that, while loud, will probably get swallowed in the sea of city noise. It is, however, nice to know it’s there.

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After using a number of these cameras, including the Netatmo Presence, I’m pleased with the durability of the Ring Cam. While it doesn’t have Netatmo’s sci-fi styling, the floodlight looks just like what it purports to be: a big light for dark places. Further, because there is no internal SD card the Ring is completely watertight, an issue that came up when I was running the Presence.

Ring did everything right. Unlike other camera solutions that are either standalone or must be installed into new construction, the Floodlight Cam is backwards compatible and very well made. The entire system installed quickly and works flawlessly (so far) although time will tell if it can survive Brooklyn rainstorms.

If you’re in the market for a floodlight and high design isn’t a concern this is the way to go.