Digital Photo Help

We shot the Boeing 737 Max 9's first flight with a Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

by on May.14, 2017, under Reviews


The Boeing 737 Max 9, shortly after landing. There’s enough latitude in the RX10 III’s Raw files to allow for moderate shadow and highlight adjustment.

28mm (equiv) F4.5, ISO 100

As has been amply demonstrated in the past, I’m an aeroplane nerd. So when Boeing offered us the chance to shoot the first flight of its brand new Boeing 737 Max 9 last month, I jumped at the chance. I might even have pushed a couple of my colleagues out of the way.

In the end, three of us headed over to Boeing Field in Seattle for the first flight – Dan, (who couldn’t care less about aeroplanes), with a Panasonic FZ2500; me, the super-nerd with the Sony RX10 III, and Carey, an impartial observer, with a Panasonic GH5 (to film me and Dan arguing). We’ll be publishing a longer article comparing our results soon, but in the meantime, with the 737 Max 9 just (temporarily, hopefully) grounded, we thought you might like a sneak preview.

The 737 Max 9 at the end of the runway at Boeing’s Renton assembly plant, seconds before starting its takeoff roll.

400mm (equiv) F4, ISO 100

I am on record as having described the Sony RX10 III’s lens as being ‘made of magic’. I just don’t understand how a 24-600mm lens built into a compact (ish) camera can be as sharp as it is. Since as Arthur C. Clarke so memorably said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic anyway, and bearing in mind that I’m no expert in advanced optical technology, magic is the explanation I’m sticking with.

It was for that reason that when the question came up of which cameras we should bring, I grabbed the RX10 III from our stockroom. I might even have pushed Dan out of the way…

As well as 20MP stills, the RX10 III also shoots 4K video. Because we were trying to compare two cameras, and Boeing didn’t seem too keen on our suggestion that the Max 9 take off at least five times for accurate side-by-side tests (sorry Rishi, we did ask), we decided not to worry about shooting any video. The RX10 III takes nice-looking video, and if you’re curious you can see several examples of its footage in our full review.

Grant Hindsley is too tall. It’s an unfair advantage.

24mm (equiv) F4, ISO 100

First flights are always a bit of a lottery in terms of timing. I’ve shot a couple of them, and things rarely go exactly according to schedule. The 737 Max 9 takeoff was delayed by a couple of hours, which we spent standing around, stamping our feet to stay warm and teasing Grant Hindsley from the Seattle PI (above) about his great height. When the plane started to taxi, things happened very quickly. No time for comparing how mode x compared to mode y – we just had to start shooting.

In high speed capture mode, the RX10 III can shoot at up to 14 fps, in Raw + JPEG, with focus locked. Since we were shooting a large airplane, pretty much at infinity, moving from infinity to infinity by way of infinity, having focus locked (at infinity) was fine.

What I hadn’t anticipated is that when focus is locked, so is the RX10 III’s zoom. It makes complete sense when you think about it, but the lens won’t zoom with the shutter button half pressed. For this reason, I had to zoom and recompose a couple of times during the Max 9’s takeoff run, but even with this interruption, I still captured a lengthy sequence of sharp images of the plane rocketing past our position, and into the sky.

The 737 Max 9 lifts off from the runway at Renton, for its first flight.

400mm (equiv) F4, ISO 100

While the RX10 III can be a somewhat frustrating camera to use (I really dislike its fussy user interface and I can’t wait for the inevitable Mark IV to finally clean it up) that lens really is something. From 24mm right through to 600mm, I took home images that are sharp and contrasty from edge to edge, and free from noticeable distortion. Having such a wide (and usable) zoom range in a single camera allows for incredible versatility.

Zooming out to a medium focal length of 50mm let me capture one of the members of the assembled press taking a quick shot on his iPhone as the 737 Max 9 was towed to its gate after the flight…

50mm (equiv) F4 ISO 100

Dan and I we were shooting alongside photographers from various news outlets and picture agencies (and of course slightly beneath Grant, from the PI) and while they juggled with huge telephoto primes, swapping for wides for crowd shots and then back again, I just nudged the RX10 III’s zoom rocker switch in the desired direction.

The 737 is on final approach? Nudge.. nudge… to 600mm. It’s taxiing into the gate below our balcony? No problem. Nudge… nudge… back to 50mm. And then out again to 600mm for a shot of the pilot waving from her window. Done.

… and moments later, zooming in let me capture Boeing’s chief deputy test pilot Captain Christine Walsh waving from the window of the 737 Max 9 as it taxis to the gate after the first flight.

600mm (equiv) F5, ISO 100

We’ll be publishing Dan’s images from the Panasonic FZ2500, and a short video from the day very soon. For now, take a look at the gallery, which includes out of camera JPEGs and converted Raw files, as well as Raw files for download.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III sample gallery

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Week in Review: Hungry Birds

by on May.13, 2017, under Reviews


Sony a9 Raw support arrives

We started the week in much the same way as the previous one ended, with more coverage of Sony’s new a9 mirrorless monster. Thanks to a prerelease version of Adobe Camera Raw, we were able to go back and process the a9’s sample photos ‘to taste’. 

You can view our updated gallery, and read some analysis about the IQ, right here.

Interview with Panasonic’s Yosuke Yamane

Recently, Yosuke Yamane, the Director of Panasonic’s imaging business, stopped by the DPReview offices to talk about the GH5, the wonders of 8K, rumors of downsizing and more. Read the full interview.

Olympus firmware updates

If there’s one thing you can say about Olympus it’s that they take care of their customers – even those with cameras now several years old. We saw that with last Monday’s major firmware updates for the E-M1 (original and Mark II), E-M5 II and PEN-F. In addition to adding support for Profoto’s wireless flash system (the TTL-O transmitter is pictured above), improvements ranged from selecting autofocus points to EVF color reproduction. Two lenses, the 12-100 F4 and 300mm F4, also received an update.

Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM gallery

Do you like bird photos? Sure, we all do. DPR’s Sam Spencer drove halfway across the country with the Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 lens and sent back some shots of cardinals chowing down at the feeder. Our initial sample gallery is now available for viewing, and look for more photos from the Sigma 100-400 in the days and weeks to come.

Sony 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS gallery

The Sigma 100-400 wasn’t the only telephoto lens gallery this week. We also posted a gallery from Sony’s 100mm F2.8 STF lens, which promised smooth ‘buttery’ bokeh. According to our own Rishi Sanyal the bokeh will either be loved or hated, but the lens’ unique strong suit is its ability to provide a little more depth-of-field than a traditional F2.8 lens – to, say, keep your subject’s entire face in focus – while still blurring the background extensively. You’ll find our 46-image gallery plus Rishi’s analysis right here.

Panasonic DC-GX850 / GX800 review

There was some sadness in the office last year when it appeared that the Panasonic GM series had been left to die. The good news is that it’s back, mostly, in the form of the GX850/GX800. The bad news? It didn’t knock our socks off. Read the review to find out why.

Throwback Thursday: Eye Control AF

Part of the fun of writing Throwback Thursday articles is going back and finding cameras with some really unusual features. We jumped back to the film era for this one, but we think you’ll agree with Dale Baskin about how clever (though not always reliable) Canon’s Eye Control AF was. You might not agree with Dale’s desire to see it return on modern ILCs (which has a likelihood in the neighborhood of zero).

Jump back to the days of the EOS Elan II E in this week’s TBT.

Budget ILC roundup

Over the last month we’ve been going back and updating our camera roundups. This week we looked at nine interchangeable lens cameras that sell for around $500. You might be surprised which cameras offer the most bang for the buck. If you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift, then the $500 ILC roundup might be a good place to start.

Watch for additional updates to our roundups over the next several weeks!



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