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Panasonic Lumix S5 review: Full-frame 4K master



(Pocket-lint) – Video-focused mirrorless system cameras have become all the rage in recent years, and the progress in the market showed no sign of slowing down when Panasonic announced its smallest yet full-frame camera: the Lumix S5.

The S5 is a lot like a Lumix GH5 with a bigger and better sensor, or the Lumix S1 with additional video smarts crammed into a smaller body. Indeed, its a potentially mouth-watering prospect that could, to some degree, end the appeal of Micro Four Thirds (MFT). After all if – like the S5 – you can cram in a proper full-frame sensor and high-end capture capabilities into a body that’s smaller than an MFT, why would you want anything else?  

We were sent the Lumix S5 to test, complete with the 20-60mm f/3.5 – f/5.6 kit lens, so all of the video samples and photos posted in this review were captured using that combination. And what a combination it is!

Compact design

  • Body dimensions: 132.6mm x 97.1mm x 81.9mm / Weight: 714g
  • 1,840k-dot vari-angle LCD; 2,360k-dot 0.74x OLED viewfinder
  • 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as in S1H)
  • Splash and dust resistant magnesium alloy construction
  • Dual SD card slot, micro HDMI out
  • Lens mount: L mount lenses
  • USB charging

There’s a lot to like about the design approach on the S5. The camera has that attractive angular design that we’ve come to expect from full-frame cameras. It’s noticeably flatter and sharp looking than the comparatively rounded shape of the GH5. Size-wise, it’s not far off being the same as its Micro Four Thirds cousin, but in the hand it does feel similarly lightweight and balanced.

It’s a similar height to the GH5 too, but has a much larger grip on the right side, which makes it easy grab hold of when shooting handheld. Thanks to the position of the red video button up top, it’s super simple to grip it with all four fingers and reach over with a thumb to press record, or even to capture a photo using the shutter key. 

Overall build feels solid, despite its relatively lightweight-ness. That’s thanks to its chassis being built from a magnesium alloy. Plus it’s sealed against splashes and dust ingress too, so you know it’s unlikely anything can get inside to destroy the electronics or get on to the sensor.  

We love little design touches, such as that bright red movie button, which matches the red-accented ring beneath the burst/photo dial on the left. The textured edges on the dials looks good and makes it easy to jog the dials with a single thumb. All of the click and feedback just the right amount to reassure that you’re using a quality piece of kit. As does the shutter button when you press it in to take a photo. 

If you’ve used a Panasonic Lumix camera before, you’ll be more than comfortable switching up to the S5, thanks to a very familiar button and dial layout. There are some differences, but none that tarnish the experience, and it soon becomes second nature. For instance, the shutter button is encircled by a rotating dial for adjusting the aperture in manual mode, rather than as a dial built-in to the top of the grip behind the shutter button (as per the GH5).

Similarly, the shutter speed dial on the back is fully external, rather that built into a slit on the back. It joins the red video capture button on the top, as well as the shooting mode switch and power switch. Then there’s the familiar trio of buttons for white balance, ISO adjustment, and exposure compensation, all positioned behind the shutter button. 

On the back, you’ll find a bunch of controls. There’s the usual menu/set button surrounded by a ring dial for controlling the onscreen interface when adjusting settings.

The small dial for switching between AC, AS and manual focus could be better designed. It lives to the right of the viewfinder lens, but we found the protruding tab (for want of a better word) a little small and hard to use. The directional joystick for moving the autofocus target is the opposite – it’s well-positioned and easy to reach with a thumb, even when staring down the barrel. 

Then there’s the vari-angle touchscreen, which has been a mainstay on Panasonic’s video-focused cameras for a good few years. This screen flips out and rotates to face the front, which means you can see yourself clearly and use it as monitor when you’re filming bits to camera. Handy for YouTubers and vloggers. It’s sharp and colourful, plus it’s touch-sensitive, so you can tap to focus on various parts of the screen to adjust the autofocus aim. 

Speed and accuracy

  • Contrast-detection autofocus with DFD (Depth from Defocus)
  • Face, Eye, Head, Body detection – to half the size of previous S series
  • AF algorithm built from the ground up (will roll out to other S series later in 2020)

Panasonic’s latest autofocus system combines contrast detection with DFD (depth from defocus), with an algorithm it says it has built from the ground up (and will be coming to other cameras later on). What’s interesting is what the autofocus algorithm can do. 

It not only recognises faces, eyes and heads automatically, but can even stay focused on the person’s body. That means if you’re recording a video of a person, and their head turns away from the camera, it automatically switches its focus to be on the person’s torso/body and remains locked on.

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Looking at the system do its thing through the viewfinder or on the screen and you can see it generating little rectangles around eyes and faces as you shoot video/stills. It works reliably and consistently.

As we’ve mentioned already, you can use a joystick on the back of the camera if you want to manually select an area of focus. This works well if you’re shooting close-ups of objects if you’re in auto mode, looking through the viewfinder and the automatic focus setting isn’t exactly where you’d like it to be. A quick jiggle of the joystick and a half-press of the shutter is enough to set it where you want it, and quickly too. You’re not left waiting or hunting for focus, even in low light.

When we tested shooting a 10 minute part to the camera, with the focus set to automatic, it was interesting to see how well the focus remained on our face, even with our inevitable movements forward and back while talking and close to the camera lens. The camera never seemed to be focus hunting much, which is great for the resulting footage.

Video capture

  • Maximum capture: 4K at 60p 10-bit 4:2:0 (write to SD card; 4:2:2 via HDMI)
  • Anamorphic 4K available: 50/30/25/24p, 1.3/1.33/1.5/1.8/2.0 desqueeze
  • PAL/NTSC switch, Time Code, Zebra Pattern, Luminance Spot Meter
  • Maximum recording time: 30min in 10-bit, unlimited in 8-bit
  • Uses LongGOP (not ALL-INTRA codec), HEVC H.265
  • 3.5mm mic/headphone jack, Wave Form Monitor
  • V-Log included (no additional cost incurred)
  • Dual Native ISO (Auto only, not manual)

Panasonic has gained a huge number of fans in the world of YouTubers, creators and videographers, thanks to its selection of relatively affordable and compact 4K cameras. It was arguably the GH4 Micro Four Thirds camera that kicked it all off, but the Lumix S5 feels like a culmination of all that evolution.

We could rattle on for days about all the various shooting codecs, resolution, bitrates and frame rates available, but instead, have a look at this chart instead, which covers all the details: 

Full-frame (MOV) 4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 8-bit 100Mbps H.264 30/25/24p No time limit
APS-C crop (MOV) 4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 10-bit 200Mbps HEVC HLG 60/50p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 8-bit 100Mbps H.264 30/25/24p No time limit (30min for 50/60p option)
S35 (MOV) Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) 4:2:0 10-bit 200Mbps HEVC HLG 50p 30min maximum

What it means you get a lot of flexibility in how you shoot. If you want top-quality 4K video at 60 frames per second, you can have it. Although, there’s a slight caveat here in that it crops into the sensor to get its highest resolution and frame-rate offering. That immediately becomes apparent when you switch between 4K60 and 4K30 within the camera’s menu system. It crops into the image quite a bit – from using the full width of the sensor to a space the size of an APS-C camera sensor. 

Still, if you want full-frame video, switch it to 30/25/24p and you’re good to go. Plus, with the HLG/HDR mode switched off, you can record for any length of time without worrying about hitting the 30-minute limit you get on some of the more processor-intensive modes. 

To use for shooting products in our office for the Pocket-lint YouTube channel, the S5 has been fantastic. For the most part it’s simply not lacking anything that we’d need. Plus, there’s the advantage that it’s small enough and light enough to carry around and – with the in-body stabilisation enabled – it’s a decent run and gun camera with fast focus and smooth footage. 

That flexibility and versatility extends to audio too. You can use the 3.5mm input for microphones or wireless kits, plus there’s an option to adjust the mic settings so that it uses the camera’s power, in case you have a mic that isn’t self-powered. That’s more useful when using the XLR input adapter. 

Like the photography mode – which you can read about below – we found it a strong low-light performer, even with the lens added to the front. That’s because of its Dual ISO feature. While you can get up to the heights of ISO 51,200, pushing it that high does lead to some pretty mushy results lacking in detail, but crank it down a notch and the noise suppression is quite strong. 

For those who enjoy colour-grading – or need to, if they’re using the Lumix as a ‘B’ camera alongside more expensive professional-grade cinema cameras – you can even shoot in V-Log. Those who aren’t so happy with colour grading will find plenty of other picture profiles available, as well as the ability to create their own. For the most part, we stick with CineD, which offers that natural, well-balanced look without too much contrast.

Photos

  • 5 stops built-in image stabilisation (6.5 stops in combination with lens IS)
  • 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO: 100-51,200 (Dual Native ISO Auto)
  • 4K Photo / 6K Photo burst shooting
  • 96MP High-Res Mode

Full-frame cameras are becoming a hit in the mirrorless market – primarily because that larger sensor gives you that bit more quality and greater depth of field. They’re better in low-light conditions and offer great dynamic range, and so as well as being a strong video camera, the S5 takes great photos too. 

Shooting in good daylight produced detailed shots with strong colour reproduction. There’s no over-saturation of some colours over others. Greens look vibrant and yet natural, as do blues and yellows. 

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As we mentioned at the beginning, all of our photos and video were shot using the 20-60mm kit lens which – for a kit lens – is surprisingly capable and versatile. Shooting at 20mm gives a wide field of view – which is great when you need to grab a bit more of the surrounding scene while shooting something close up, or just grabbing an impressive landscape. 

We found at 20mm it was also capable of focusing while very close to a subject – well, when choosing to shoot manual. Plus, we found it was able to create some lovely, soft bokeh background blur, giving that extra depth.

In low-light conditions the S5 is strong. We tested it through sunset/dusk, adjusting the ISO sensitivity and shutter speed to see what the impact would be, all completely handheld. Of course, once the ISO goes a bit higher (over 2500 or so), the image does tend to get a tad noisy. Dark blues in the skies look a bit grainy, but not terribly. It still retains its colour. 

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Shooting some light trails with the shutter speed set between 0.25-1 second, we were pleasantly surprised at the camera’s stabilisation capabilities, which killed any blur from our shaky hands. 

Once you really start to crank up the ISO sensitivity, there’s a bit of mushiness evident. Shooting at ISO 25,600 led to some impressively bright shots at night, but at this point you start to see more image noise in the skies, and details within the image start to get a bit lost. But you still get a good amount of colour and the end result is more than passable.

Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a compact full-frame camera that doesn’t cost a whole lot more than the Micro Four Thirds video champ: the GH5. And it’s cheaper than its larger-scale full-frame sibling: the Lumix S1. So, whichever way you look at it, the S5 is fantastic value for money.

Yes, it’d be nice if both the SD card slots were the same speed, and it would be lovely if the 4K capture at 60fps was available across the whole sensor (rather than cropped) – but those two points are our only real complaints, as the S5 is really absent of any major compromises.

Our time shooting with the Lumix S5 has been an absolute pleasure. No doubt: it’s the easiest full-frame camera at this price point to recommend for any video-maker. It’s a true enabler.

Also consider

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Nikon Z5

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As mirrorless cameras go the Nikon is easy to use, has a wonderful viewfinder, and introduces improved autofocus features. Despite a low burst shooting speed and video capture that’s outclassed by the competition – namely the Lumix S5 – that still all adds up to a very strong photo-focused entry-level full-frame camera.

Writing by Cam Bunton.





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Protect Yourself Before Your Federal Student Loan Servicer Changes


Earlier this month, the Department of Education released new details about its upcoming student loan servicer overhaul. The department first announced these sweeping changes in a June press release—including its contracts with five new student loan servicers. The department—which has struggled with servicer accountability in the past—hopes to change things with a new, centralized NextGen platform. According to the press release, these five new companies will offer “enhanced customer support” to more than 68 million borrowers.

Source: Protect Yourself Before Your Federal Student Loan Servicer Changes



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You can now pre-order Arlo’s Pro 4 and Ultra 2 security cams



(Pocket-lint) – Arlo has introduced two new security cameras. Called the Arlo Pro 4 Wire-Free Spotlight Camera and the Arlo Ultra 2 Wire-Free Spotlight Camera System, they are wire-free devices, which means you can put them just about anywhere, as they do not need a wall outlet for power.

The Arlo Pro 4 connects to Wi-Fi with no smart home hub required. It can record 2K video with HDR and features colour night vision, a 160-degree viewing angle, a built-in spotlight, and two-way audio. It can go indoors or outside, and the removable battery will supposedly last up to six months on a charge.

The new security camera also works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. HomeKit compatibility is reportedly on deck, according to MacRumors.

Arlo

As for the Arlo Ultra 2, it’s the higher-end model, capable of recording 4K video with HDR. It features auto-focus, colour night vision, a 180-degree viewing angle, an outdoor spotlight, a siren, two-way audio, and up to six months of battery. It also supports HomeKit at launch, as well as Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.

Arlo Ultra 2 starts at $200 and is the successor to the Arlo Ultra, while the Arlo Pro 4 starts at $300 and follows the Arlo Pro 3. You can preorder both cameras.

To see how they compare to other security cameras available, see Pocket-lint’s round-ups of the best ones to buy now:

Writing by Maggie Tillman.





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GoPro Hero 8 Black vs GoPro Hero 9 Black: What’s the difference



(Pocket-lint) – GoPro has finally done it: put a colour screen on the front of a camera, bringing it more in line with the DJI Osmo Action, and while it was at it decided we needed a bigger battery too. That means you can finally see yourself when you’re filming, and you can shoot for longer. 

With that said, its predecessor – the Hero 8 Black – was and still is a great action camera. So should you stump up the extra for the 9 or will the Hero 8 do everything you need it too? 

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Design and Displays

  • Hero 8: 66.3 x 48.6 x 28.4mm
  • Hero 9: 71.0 x 55.0 x 33.6mm
  • Hero 8: Monochrome status screen on the front
  • Hero 9: Colour live preview screen on the front
  • Both: Built-in mounting arms
  • Both: Colour touchscreen on the back, Hero 9 larger
  • Both: Waterproof to 10m

The Hero 8 Black was an important product for GoPro, freeing the company from the constraints of needing to fit its tech into a specific size body, just so it would fit in the mounting accessories. Instead, it built-in mounting arms to the bottom of the camera, allowing you to mount it to all the accessories, without a clip-on shell, and that has returned in the Hero 9. 

That’s seen GoPro increase the size of its flagship action camera by a noticeable – but not huge – amount. It’s a few millimetres taller, wider and thicker than the 8 Black, but the trade-off should prove worth it for the bigger battery and more powerful internals. Plus, the bigger screen and colour screen on the front. 

Speaking of those displays, the latest model’s front screen is full colour and can be used as a live preview display, while the 8 Black has the more traditional monochrome status display which only shows you status information. 

Both cameras feature a similar design in terms of button and port placement. They both have the shutter button on the top and the mode/power button on the left edge. However, the mode/power button on the 9th gen protrudes more from the surface and is much easier to press and to feel without looking. The Hero 8’s button is flush with the surface, and so virtually impossible to find by touch.

Just underneath that, the Hero 9 also has a speaker designed to pump out water, similar the feature Apple has used in its watches for a while. So if you do take it underwater to test its 10m depth resistance, it will expel any water that seeps into the speaker channels.  

Video capture and streaming

  • Hero 8: Up to 4K/60 FHD/240 footage
  • Hero 9: Up to 5K/30, 4K/60, FHD/240
  • Both: 1080p live streaming

Both Heros support a wide range of resolution and frame-rate combinations at various focal lengths, thanks to the ‘digital lenses’ that are built into the software. 

As far as resolution goes, the Hero9 is the champ here. It can shoot up to 5K resolution at 16:9 ratio with wide, linear and narrow ‘lenses’. At 4K resolution, it can go up to 60 frames per second and up to 240 frames per second at 1080p. It can also shoot at 2.7k resolution, and various resolutions using up to4K at 4:3 ratio. Hero 8 is similar, except it maxes out at 4K resolution. It also doesn’t feature horizon levelling feature available at certain settings. 

Both cameras can be used for live streaming and both can do so at 1080p resolution. Both also use a combination of EIS and algorithms to stabilise footage using a feature called HyperSmooth. With the Hero 9, that’s been boosted further, making it even smoother than before while also offering the horizon levelling feature. What’s more, if you buy the additional Max lens you get horizon levelling on everything, even when you rotate the camera 360-degrees. 

Stills and performance

  • Hero 8: 12MP stills
  • Hero 9: 20MP stills
  • Both: SuperPhoto + HDR
  • Both: RAW support
  • Hero 8: 1220mAh battery
  • Hero 9: 1720mAh battery
  • Both: GP1 chip

There are two big performance upgrades with the Hero 9: Photo resolution and battery life. It has a 20-megapixel sensor versus the 12-megapixel sensor on the previous model. Similarly, it has a higher capacity battery, with an additional 500mAh on top of the 8th gen’s 1220mAh battery to give a total of 1720mAh. 

GoPro says you’ll get an extra 30% video capture time from that battery, and that is definitely useful when it comes to action cameras. There’s nothing worse than running the battery flat during a downhill biking session. 

Both cameras have the same image/data processor – called the GP1 – and they both support RAW image capture as well as GoPro’s advanced HDR image processing. 

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Price

  • Hero 8: $299 with a subscription ($349 without)
  • Hero 9: $399 with a subscription ($499 without)

The most cost-effective way to buy a new Hero camera is with an annual GoPro subscription. If you buy the Hero 8 with the subscription, the camera will cost you $299/£279, while the Hero 9 is $399/£329. If you buy the cameras without the subscription, the Hero 8 is $349/£329 and the Hero 9 is $499/£429. 

Given the added value of the subscription – which gets you unlimited cloud storage, a replacement camera when yours breaks and accessory discounts – it makes complete sense to opt for that with the lower upfront outlay. You get 12 months subscription paid for in advance with that price. GoPro is obviously hoping users stick around for more than a year and keep subscribing afterwards. 

Conclusion

Given the price difference, the Hero 8 Black is actually very good value for money. It’s $100/£100 cheaper than the Hero 9 but does a lot of the same stuff. 

With that said, with its new colour screen, higher resolution sensor and longer battery life the additional outlay is definitely worth it for the Hero 9. Especially when you consider that its price with the subscription is only a little higher than the price of the Hero 8 Black without a subscription. 

If you want the best action camera going, grab the Hero 9. If you’d rather save the cash, or if you’re coming from an older model like the Hero 5 or Hero 6, the Hero 8 will do you just fine and is still a major upgrade on those two. 

Writing by Cam Bunton.





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T-Mobile reveals Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra pricing and deals


Hot on the heels of Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, T-Mobile has confirmed that it’ll carry both devices. The Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra will be available for pre-order from T-Mobile starting Friday, August 7, at 5:00 am PT / 8:00 am ET. The Note 20 will be available in Mystic Bronze, Mystic Green, or Mystic Gray color options while the Note 20 Ultra will come in Mystic … [read full article]

Source: T-Mobile reveals Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra pricing and deals – TmoNews



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Nikon Z5 review: Mirrorless marvel



(Pocket-lint) – There was a moment not so long ago when the camera market stalled. Nikon, in particular, was affected and somewhat lost its way. Products were cancelled. Production struggled compared to the norm. Then, thankfully, the Japanese maker came back with a whole new camera system – its mirrorless Z series – and reaffirmed why it’s a force to be reckoned with.

But top-end cameras never come cheap, so while many will have baulked at the original Nikon Z7 and Z6‘s asking price, the step-down Z5 (on review here) is the company’s way to make its full-frame line-up that bit more affordable. But with Sony, Panasonic and Canon all fighting for space, just how well does the Z5 hold up?

Design & Lens Mount

  • Nikon Z mount (FX full-frame format)
  • Dual SD card slots (UHS-II compliant)
  • Dust & moisture sealed magnesium alloy body
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder (0.5in, 3,690k-dot OLED)
  • Tilt-angle mounted touchscreen (3.2in, 1,040k-dot LCD)

To look at you’d probably struggle to tell the difference between the Nikon Z6 and this Z5. The two cameras are more or less identical, except the Z5 is about 20 per cent cheaper.

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Just because it costs less cash doesn’t mean there’s any scrimping on the feature set. The body is (mostly) magnesium alloy and weather-sealed against dust and the elements. There’s a large-to-the-eye electronic OLED viewfinder with heaps of resolution. The rear LCD is touch-controllable and mounted on a tilt bracket. There’s two card slots, too, both of which are SD rather than the lesser used (and altogether pricier XQD type).

As we said of the Z6, the Z5 has a design that appears very much ‘mirrorless DSLR’ – which is what the masses had long been asking for. It’s got the main buttons and dials in the right places to make quick adjustments, although we’d like a secondary dial to make quicker yet adjustment for metering, burst, and some other settings (the reserve of even higher-end cameras, really).

Using the camera feels natural though: the joystick-like toggle to the rear is ideal for quick adjustments and positioned well should you be using the camera up to your eye; and that electronic viewfinder is such high quality that it often doesn’t seem like an electronic one at all.

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There are some slight changes we would make though. Although the 3.2-inch LCD screen is of ample quality (albeit not the very highest available) we’d like to see it vari-angle mounted instead – just as we said of the Z6.

Performance

  • 5-axis Vibration Reduction (VR) stabilisation system
  • 273-point Hybrid AF autofocus system
  • Face/Eye/Pet Detection options
  • Adjustable AF point size
  • Up to 4.5fps burst max
  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
  • USB charging

The autofocus system in the Z5 is also the very same as you’ll find in the Z6. We find it’s a little more varied and precise than what you’ll find from Canon’s EOS RP in the way it controls.

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Not only does the Nikon offer 273 autofocus areas – encompassing 90 per cent of the frame, making edge-to-edge focus simpler – you can adjust from auto to wide-area, single-area or pin-point focus.

We really love the pin-point option. With a full-frame sensor at your disposal it’s critical to get focus and aperture selection right – and this option helps keep things extra precise.

Like many of its competitors, the Z5 also offers face and eye detection – including those of dogs and cats. So it’s super easy to shoot your subjects, friends, family and pets. Sometimes the camera thinks it spies a face in among random textures, when it locks on and then doesn’t want to let go, but otherwise it’s very responsive at latching onto subjects. We have been impressed by this kind of system in the Panasonic Lumix S1, so it’s great to have here.

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Autofocus is generally capable, although we’ve found the single area mode to struggle a little more when it comes to lower light conditions. It doesn’t hunt excessively, but can simply fail to find focus at all sometimes. The multiple area focus options tend to find an alternative to latch onto instead, generally bypassing any contrast detecting issues in other modes.

Switch to continuous autofocus and things remain capable, but it’s here – i.e. with speed – that the Nikon Z5 displays it’s not the top-end camera on the market. Sony already offers some incredible subject tracking from its active focus system. And when it comes to burst shooting the Z5’s maximum 4.5 frames per second is lower than the Z6 and many other cameras in this class – showing it’s got a smaller buffer and being the ultimate key point of difference as to why it’s a more affordable camera overall.

Still, even without being able to whirr off dozens of image a second, the Z5’s in-body image stabilisation is a clear benefit. Having that added assurance that hand-held shots will be extra sharp at even fairly low shutter speeds is highly reassuring – and you can see it in the results.

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Battery life is reasonable overall. Like the other Z series cameras you should be able to shoot a bundle – 300-400 shots – before the cell will deplete. Even then, thanks to USB charging, you can (slowly) recharge it out in the field with an external pack if you so wish.

Image Quality

  • 24.3 million pixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 to 51,200 sensitivity (expands to 102,400)
  • Video capture: 4K at 30/25/24p (1.7x crop); Full HD (1080p) at 60/50/30/25/24p (no crop)

As the Z5 sits below the Z6 you’d probably expect lower grade image quality. That’s a half truth, though, as it’s only with much higher resolution images that you might see the Z6’s benefit. In terms of resolution the two cameras are more or less the same.

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Point being: the Z5 really excels with its image quality. Although for this review we’ve only had the collapsible 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens which, while certainly small and suited to this kind of body, does have aperture limitations.

That said the Z mount is yours for the taking. If you want a faster, sharper and more accomplished lens then take your pick. And the kind of resolve you’ll get from the best of the Z mount is nothing short of breath-taking from what we’ve seen in the past. The Z5 can tap into all of that – if you’ve got the spare cash to invest in more glass anyway.

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The quality isn’t just down to pixel-peeping judgement, mind, as the shallow depth-of-field possibilities that a full-frame sensor offers open up a whole world of possibilities. The sensor’s extra size just enhances that melty blurred background look.

Equally impressive is how the ISO sensitivity holds up. The lowest ISO 100 delivers pristine shots with a good amount of dynamic range that holds up even through to ISO 800.

The higher ISO sensitivities still hold a fantastic amount of detail. You’ll inevitably see more grain from ISO 1600 up to ISO 6400, but it’s not a major bother. Go beyond this and the older Z6 has the upper hand, but only by a whisker.

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When it comes to video the Z5 isn’t as top-of-the-tree as some of the competition out there. Yes, it can capture 4K video, which is great, but the crop factor is rather high (at 1.7x). And when Panasonic has the S5 to compete, we suspect videographers will be lining up elsewhere from a moving image perspective. Not to mention the Sony A7S III (which can shoot 4K at 120fps).

Verdict

After the camera industry stalled for quite some time, it’s now in a renaissance period. Nikon’s Z series cameras and new lens mount – which arrived about the same time as Canon’s EOS R – has once more shown the kind of heights the brand can reach. And the even more affordable Z5 shows off this full-frame potential in real style.

However, this new period is also a competitive one – especially when it comes to video capture. And with new cameras from Panasonic (Lumix S5), Sony (A7S III), Canon (EOS R5), the Nikon Z5 shows its video shortcomings. Not that it’s unimpressive, it’s just outclassed in this regard. We’d also like to see continuous autofocus and low-light shooting improvements, and a vari-angle mounted LCD screen would be an added bonus.

When it comes to stills, though, the Z5 is a star. As mirrorless cameras go the Nikon is easy to use, has a wonderful viewfinder, introduces improved autofocus features, and feels pitched to the correct kind of audience (the dual SD cards rather than XQD card being one example of this user friendliness). That all adds up to what’s arguably the best entry-level full-frame camera you can buy.

Also consider

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Canon EOS RP

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There’s little doubt that the future of Canon’s advanced amateur and pro market lies in the R series, and the RP offers an affordable route into the system. However, it’s the battery life and 4K video performance that is likely to put users off. For stills shooters not looking to take hundreds of images a day, though, this is unlikely to affect you.

Writing by Mike Lowe.





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The $60 Mobvoi TicWatch GTX Lasts up to 10 Days on a Single Charge


When the $120 TicWatch S2 arrived, we called it a poor wearable due to its dated hardware and reliance on Wear OS, a smartwatch OS so bad we’d regret spending $15 on a device powered by it. So what makes the $60 TicWatch GTX so interesting? Well, it abandoned Wear OS for one.



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Hilarious real-life behind the scenes views from Zoom meetings



(Pocket-lint) – Many of us are adapting to life working from home, with constant video calls now taking the place of face-to-face team meetings in the office. The problem is working from home means mixing work and pleasure and sometimes that pleasure is a bit messy. 

People have been sharing the backgrounds they try to hide when they’re attempting to maintain the illusion of being professional while working virtually from home. 

Even doctors do it

Dr Gretchen Goldman is a Research Director at the Center for Science and Democracy in Washington DC. On Twitter, she shared this honest image showing the reality of what was happening when she was live on CNN.

She’d gone on to discuss why she thought appointing a climate change denier to a position in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was a mistake. In reality she was in her underwear surrounded by the chaos of family life. 

Business up top 

People were inspired by Dr Goldman’s post and began sharing their own. This included a fair few individuals with an equally relaxed dress sense below the view line of their webcam. 

Here we can see Juan keeping cool in flip-flops and underwear while presenting a shirt and tie persona above the table top. 

Making do with what you’ve got

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the right gear to stream or put on a professional show from home. Some are making do with what they’ve got. When Erika had to do an audition over Zoom she used a really interesting setup that included an ironing board, pile of books and some careful balancing. 

Bookshelves equal professional

When faced with a background that contains kids toys strewn all over the place, including Lego dangerously located nearby, the best option might be to face your laptop towards your bookshelf instead. That’s the logic Professor Gema Zamarro applied when appearing on CBSN. Zoom already has virtual backgrounds that include stuffed bookshelves, so it only seems logical to us. 

Rocking the socks

Never let it be said that Austin doesn’t know how to look the part from the waist upwards. Another classic mix of comfortable footwear and shorts along with a smartly dressed upper half makes for the perfect Zoom setup. 

Ironing board mastery

Improvise, adapt, overcome. Stuck in a hotel room with no decent place to put your laptop for a decent background? Why not setup an ironing board and carefully balance that bad boy to get the perfect angle. 

Quick, hide the mess

Working from home, with the schools closed too means for most parents either being surrounded by noise or mess or both. What option is there but to hide the mess as well as possible and out of sight of the webcam? This is a fairly common view for most of us and of course, stops little people running in front of the view when looking for their toys. 

Books, books, books

Carefully balancing a laptop on top of a pile of books appears to be a solid favourite among these leaders of improvisation. It’s amazing what people come up with in the heat of the moment.

Here Aimée Morrison was suddenly required on a call while on holiday and with no notice but still managed to pull something together. 

Zooming from a balcony

Who needs a fake zoom background when you can just sit on your balcony with the world behind you and the laptop camera pointing in the right direction? 

Fresh air to keep you awake, a nice view for your fellow Zoomers and a tan too. Bonus. 

Zumba and book smarts

Rebecca Cantor struck upon problems when trying to work out how to hold a Zumba class while working from home and socially distancing. The solution turned out to be this laptop carefully balanced on a pile of books. 

Moving boxes

Alison Holder is a director of Equal Measures 2030. An organisation whose aim is to move the world towards gender equality. Some serious and worthy business. 

So she needs to look the part when on video calls. In this instance, a pile of moving boxes were required to achieve the right effect.  

Another balcony with a view

Justin McElroy is an Affairs Reporter for CBC in Vancouver. This image of him seems to show he’s given up trying and is just on his balcony in a dressing gown. 

Effort was put into this one

We admire the effort put into this one. A coloured cloth hung over the window, a whiteboard offering some flattering reflective lighting, notes all over the place but out of view, a floral backdrop. Wonderfully thought out.  

Writing by Adrian Willings.





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