Want to meet up with your favorite game broadcasters? Of course you do, and with Twitch's inaugural convention, aptly dubbed "TwitchCon," later this year you totally can. There aren't a ton of details yet, but it takes place in San Francisco from Friday September 25th to Saturday the 26th. The live-streaming giant promises ways to elevate your broadcasting game and chances to meet your followers (or maybe even your idols) too, which makes us think it's going to be more along the lines of VidCon or PlayList Live than something like the Penny Arcade Expo. The very notion of a Twitch convention likely wouldn't be possible without that massive influx of cash from Amazon last year, and this is a sign of how far online video's grown (especially game-focused stuff) lately. What's more, this is indicative of just how popular Twitch has become as a platform in a relatively short period of time. Planning on attending? Hit the comments and let us know.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
The race to put a self-driving car on the road is in full swing with BMW, Tesla, Apple, and Google all vying to be the first.
But ultimately, it may be Swedes who come out on top.
This week, Volvo announced that it will put 100 production ready autonomous cars in the hands of actual consumers by 2017.
This initial pilot run will see the company's self-driving technology move out of the laboratory and put through the ringer in real life by regular owners.
"We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving," Volvo senior vice president Dr Peter Mertens said.
"Taking the exciting step to a public pilot, with the ambition to enable ordinary people to sit behind the wheel in normal traffic on public roads, has never been done before."
The 100 car pilot program will take place on the streets of Volvo's hometown in Gothenburg, Sweden. It is reported that the city has given the company and its customers approval to cruise around selected public streets with car's autonomous drive program in control.
According to Volvo, its autopilot system is reliable enough that it will be able to take over every aspect of the driving experience. The automaker says its system will be able to handle everything from everyday driving to gridlock traffic to emergency situations.
To achieve this, the Swedish car maker will depend on a complicated network of sensors, cloud-based positioning systems and intelligent braking and steering tech.
The sensors include seven radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, five cameras, and a laser scanner.
A ll of them work together to allow the driver behind the wheel to do just about anything except drive the car. If any of the systems on the car do fail, Volvo said that there are redundant backup systems ready to take over.
Volvo is so confident in its autopilot system that its engineers believe their self-driving tech is better than humans when confronted with an emergency.
"In a real emergency, however, the car reacts faster than most humans," Volvo's Dr. Erik Coelingh said.
In cases where the autopilot must shut off due to weather or malfunction, the car will prompt the driver to take over. If the driver fails to take control in a timely manner or if the driver is incapacitated, the car will actually bring itself to a safe stop.
So far there is no word when the technology and the legal regulations will allow Volvo to expand its autonomous drive program, but we are certainly looking forward to it.
Posted by Augustine at 8:30 PM
In advance of Samsung's official word a leak indicates that prices for the company's high-end "SUHD" TVs range from $2500 US for 48 inches up to $23,000 for 88 inches. When Samsung first announced its …
Posted by Augustine at 8:32 AM
Great interface design is quickly becoming a priority as companies everywhere start realizing that it's paramount to their succeeding in the crowded online space. Then why, despite its importance, has there been such a gap in the UX design tools space? Atomic, a startup team of ten based in Welli...
Posted by Augustine at 8:24 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2015
This is not an article from a PC virtuoso who builds water-cooled, quad-SLI gaming rigs with not a wire out of place. Nope, it's by a guy who's fantastic at buying stuff on Amazon, but more likely to start an electrical fire than build a sophisticated PC. But that's never stopped me before! So, with a screwdriver in one hand and unmerited self-confidence in the other, I set out to build an overclocked Intel Haswell-E Core i7 machine for video editing, 3D animation and light gaming. Whatever could go wrong?
What parts do I need?
Let's talk about my needs. I need a faster computer, of course, and Haswell-E delivers on that, according to this chart, a lovely article by AnandTech (seriously, read it) and virtually no other information, because I'm a busy man. Apart from that, I wanted the fastest RAM I could afford, a fast NVIDIA graphics card (just one) and factory-sealed liquid cooling because I actually do want to avoid electrical fires. For video editing, I need lots of fast storage, including external storage and a hard drive dock. My final requirement was dual Ethernet ports, because I live in the middle of nowhere and need two internets.
With those specs, and a certain budget in mind, I came up with this motley lineup:
- Thermaltake Chaser A71 full-tower case
- Intel Haswell-E 5820K Core i7 CPU
- ASRock X99 Extreme6 motherboard
- ASUS STRIX GTX780 OC 6GB graphics card
- 16GB of G.Skill DDR4 "Ripjaws 4" 2800MHz RAM
- Samsung XP941 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD for OS/graphics programs
- Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD for other programs
- Cooler Master V-Series 850W power supply
- Corsair H100i CPU watercooler
- Windows 8.1 64-bit
That's quite a collection of wildly ill-named products, but let's start with the full-tower case. You can find tasteful models, but most are gonzo things with lots of bells and whistles designed to awe your pals and keep you single. I needed something between the two, so I settled on the Thermaltake Chaser A71, as it's pretty cheap at $140, has a hard drive dock on top and supports up to eight internal drives. It's easy to hide wires at the back of the case, reducing the need for wire-neatening chores. Yes, it's a bit silly looking, but I'm already married.
Intel has three Haswell-E Core i7 CPUs. The highest-end i7-5960X would be best for my 3D and video-effects rendering with its eight cores, but it costs over a grand. The i7-5930K is also pretty great for half that price, but it's still too much. Since AnandTech called the i7-5820K ($390, B&H) "the most promising member of the three (new) CPUs" given the price-performance ratio, that's the one I chose. Gamers who run multiple graphics cards may want to avoid it, however, as it has fewer PCI lanes (bandwidth).
ASRock's X99 Extreme6 motherboard ($292, Amazon) was one of the few, and cheapest, X99 boards that had dual LAN ports. It also sports eight RAM slots, M.2 SSD Gen3 x4 support, 10 SATA 3 slots, 10 USB 3.0 connections and an eSATA port at the rear.
Haswell-E systems require DDR4 RAM, which is expensive. The cost is holding back many fledgling X99 builders, who are waiting until the supply-demand curve doesn't intersect on "ouch." Price is strongly linked to speed, with 2133MHz RAM priced at nearly half of 3000MHz RAM. But I was determined to overclock, so I compromised with 16GB of 2800MHz "Ripjaws 4" series RAM from G.Skill ($270, Newegg). Once it's installed in the case and this article is finished, I will hopefully never type or think of "Ripjaws" and all that implies ever again.
Of all the parts, Samsung's 256GB XP941 M.2 Gen2 x4 SSD (above, $249, Newegg), appeals most to my inner nerd by promising speeds double that of a regular SSD. From what I can glean, it's a PCIe drive that takes four "lanes" (hence the x4), but has an adorable little receptor so you don't have to use up a valuable PCI Express slot (like this OCZ model). Read speeds top out at 1GB/s, with writes a touch slower -- enough to keep me feeling secure in my masculinity. Most importantly, it should boot Windows 8.1 in an X99 board without any special tweaking, something that proved vexing for earlier motherboard owners.
Finally, ASUS's STRIX GTX780 graphics card (around $450) has a high level of performance and overclockability for the price, though it's been superseded by the STRIX GTX980. The 6GB of VRAM isn't especially useful for games, but is very handy for Autodesk's 3DS Max and Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014, both of which can use the extra memory to speed things up.
As for the rest of the lineup, Corsair's H100i ($95, Newegg) is considered to be the bare minimum for any serious overclocking. It should work well with the Thermaltake case, which has enough space for the two large fans above the main enclosure. Cooler Master's 850W power supply has plenty of power, and the connectors can be unplugged to keep things neat.
Putting the system together was straightforward, apart from the odd detour into stupid-ville. Installation consisted of screwing the motherboard and power supply to the case, installing the processor and cooling system and then jamming the rest of the components and cables in the only holes they fit in. (The exception being the header connectors, which are always a pain.) There was some cable-neatening to be done afterward, but I'm not what you'd call anal-retentive.
See that four-pin connector up there? It really needs to be plugged in, or nothing happens when you hit "on." Stop laughing. Other gaffes: The Thermaltake case has space at the top for the water-cooling fans, but putting them there means you have to screw them into the radiator below through purpose-built holes in the case. Unfortunately, said screws weren't long enough, and said holes didn't all line up. That left the fans slightly offset from their ideal position directly over the radiator, which I don't care about.
Finally, Corsair's H100i cooling block was intimidating to install, sitting as it does on a chip with 2.6 billion transistors. That brings us to the most crucial lesson I learned: Even though the Intel CPU is fragile and expensive, be sure to tighten the cooler onto it firmly (but carefully) in an "X" pattern. The CPU ran hot at first when I overclocked it, but cooled significantly when I went back and tightened the cooler down. I would've saved myself a lot of time had I done that in the first place.
Otherwise, everything went swimmingly. I do have a few beefs with ASRock's motherboard: The M.2 x4 SSD slot is directly under the graphics card, so I'm worried that my Samsung XP941 drive will get hot. Also, multi-GPU gamers beware: You'll lose the third PCI Express port if you add an M.2 SSD. The SATA 3 connectors are also directly under the graphics card (once it's installed in the preferred first slot), making it hard to connect and disconnect cables. And two of the 10 connectors share ports with the M.2 and external eSATA connectors, so you may need to avoid those.
Overclocking and performance
Depending on how much you want to push things, overclocking is either a cinch or a nightmare. Most folks will be happy with the one-click tweak to the "turbo" settings in the BIOS setup, which instantly boosts the clock speed 20 percent from 3.3 to 4GHz and bumps the memory speeds to match your RAM.
Beyond that, if you've never done overclocking before, you'll want to read up elsewhere as using this article would be like taking a calculus class from a chimp. Check out sources like LifeHacker's guide to overclocking, this HardOCP Haswell-E article and X99 overclocking videos like this one. That said, here's what I found by stumbling through the internet.
Take a breath. There are endless arcane settings, but just a few are important. Let's start with the memory. If you bought fast RAM, you'll need to change the settings from "Auto" to an XMP Profile as shown above. (Figuring that out was not easy, so you're welcome.) If you leave the settings stock, the money you paid for your high-performance RAM goes down the toilet. After making the tweak, I was able to select a DRAM frequency that matched my RAM (2802MHz). However, it also changed the "base clock" (BCLK) frequency from 100 to 127.4, which confused my brain.
Then I figured out that when you multiply the "CPU ratio" by the base clock, you get the CPU speed in megahertz. Normally it's 100, so choosing a multiplier of 45 will give you a speed of 4500MHz, or 4.5GHz. Simple, right? But as mentioned, the ASRock motherboard wouldn't support my memory without upping the base clock. I could have compromised by choosing the max RAM speed for BCLK 100 (2666MHz) without losing much performance (more on that later), but I decided to see if I could work with the new base clock. To do so, I chose a CPU ratio of 35, which gave me a clock speed of 4459MHz.
Once you increase your CPU ratio, you'll need to give your CPU more "core voltage." Increasing that will cause your processor to run hotter, and for anything above 1.25V-ish, water-cooling is advised. Assuming a base clock of 100, the voltages needed for Intel's Core-i7 5820K are approximately as follows:
|4.2GHz||1.15V - 1.25V|
|4.4GHz||1.25V - 1.35V|
|4.5GHz||1.3V - 1.4V|
I learned that if you have a base clock over 100, you can go lower, so I settled on a core voltage of 1.23V. If I tried to bump it higher, my computer would either freeze or blue-screen, so I stopped there.
Other than changing the XMP setting, CPU ratio and CPU core voltage, I left the other settings at "Auto." You could no doubt eke more performance by tweaking the offsets and whatnot. But the gains would likely be small for the labor put in, and what more do you want from me? However, I did do one more thing: I changed the BCLK to 100 with a slightly slower 2666MHz memory speed, to see if that helped. That gave me a 45x multiplier and a 1.35V CPU core voltage. The results of that test, which I'll discuss below, were mixed.
Finally, it's worth noting that I also overclocked the ASUS GTX780 STRIX graphics card using ASUS' own tool and this guide from HardOCP. I followed the suggestions and got around 15 percent more performance without much stress.
Results and lessons learned
Despite my lack of experience and gung-ho attitude, this exercise was shockingly successful. The new machine feels fast. I'd chalk that up to the overclocking combined with Samsung's killer M.2 SSD. Windows 8.1 loads instantly and software installs double-quick. All my apps, including Adobe Photoshop CC 2014, Premiere Pro CC 2014 and 3DS Max 2015 feel fast. The whole setup is a joy to use.
More objectively, my machine now bests a top-of-the-line stock $1,000 Haswell-E Core i7-5960X. Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility gave me a score of 1,754 marks, putting my machine near the top of its rankings (it was 1,354 before overclocking). By lowering the memory speed to 2666MHz and upping the CPU ratio, I was able to score 1,787, but with considerably higher CPU temps (see above). I preferred to run cooler, so I changed it back.
The computer is very stable with the final overclock settings, and temps are never above 70 degrees Celsius. I can play RAW, 2K Blackmagic BMCC video files in real time on Premiere Pro CC 2014 (each frame is 5MB, so that's a lot of data to crunch). Renders are stupid-quick. Same goes for Photoshop and 3DS Max 2015.
But will it play Crysis? Hell yeah! The overclocked machine ran Crysis 3 in 2,560 x 1,440 at high frame rates with every setting maxed. Considering it's still one of the most graphically demanding games out there, I assume it'll also work well with titles like Assassin's Creed Unity or ARMA III.
Overclocking is intimidating, but rewarding. I lack the patience and craftsmanship to be a great PC builder, but I did do one thing right: the research. Yes, I have a few issues with the ASRock motherboard, but it plays nicely with Samsung's SSD and runs smoothly. I would probably buy 2666MHz RAM if I did it again, considering that it's cheaper and makes overclocking easier. But otherwise, I have no regrets about any of the parts. And along with the fun of building it, I now have a fast, cheap machine that I can use to do video editing, 3D animations, Photoshop and gaming. Oh, and Engadget articles -- this one was largely written on it.
Posted by Augustine at 7:45 PM
The automotive industry has experienced some incredible growth over the past couple of years. In the US alone, more than 30 automotive brands vie for the 17 million autos that are sold each year.
Around the world, there are even more brands selling everything from tiny economy cars to million-dollar exotics for the world's plutocracy. But the industry is highly consolidated: just a handful of major corporations own nearly all of the world's major car brands.
This graphic does include every car company and every brand. But it does include the biggest and most influential ones that consumers are likely to come across in Europe and the Americas.
Posted by Augustine at 11:37 AM
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
True to its word, Gfinity will soon open the UK's first physical venue for eSports enthusiasts. The company has struck a deal with Vue to convert part of its Fulham Broadway cinema into the 'Gfinity Arena,' which will accommodate 600 spectators across three custom-built stages. While it's not an entirely new building, organisers hope it'll stand apart with a dedicated ticketing hall, entrances and confectionary stands. The doors are set to open next month and Gfinity has already scheduled 25 competitions up until September, covering games such as Halo, Call of Duty and Starcraft II. Renting space from Vue is obviously cheaper than building a stadium from scratch, but for Gfinity that's not the only perk. The pair say they'll be working together to promote future eSports events and will look at expanding the model into other Vue locations. So if this little experiment is successful, we might see a flurry of Gfinity venues cropping up around the country.[Image Credit: Gfinity]
Filed under: Gaming
Posted by Augustine at 4:47 PM
Russia's massive impulse generator that can shoot deadly 500 to 650-foot lightning bolts isn't exactly off limits, but it is tucked away near a forest, far from the usual tourist traps... for obvious reasons. Thankfully, Russia Today got permission to film the Tesla Tower-inspired complex, giving us a complete view of the whole facility from up high. The Marx generator, also called the "Tesla Tower" like the early 1900s New York facility that inspired it, was built during the 1970s 25 miles west of Moscow. It's so powerful, it can emit energy equivalent to the electricity produced by all the power plants in Russia for 100 microseconds. The tower's original purpose was to serve as a testing ground during the USSR's quest to weaponize electromagnetic pulses, but these days, the country's using it to test its superjets' lightning protection. If you'd rather not risk going near a structure that fires out bolts of lightning, you can see the Soviet era Tesla Tower for yourself in the video below the fold.
Source: Russia Today
Posted by Augustine at 4:46 PM
Let's face it: most projectors aren't very useful outside of home theaters or boardrooms, even if they're packing some smarts. Beam may get you to change your mind, though. Its namesake Android-powered projector runs apps, streams media from your mobile gear (through AirPlay or Miracast) and starts tasks based on the time or what you're doing. You can play a video message when someone gets home, for instance, or load Netflix as soon as you turn on Bluetooth speakers. However, the design is the real party trick. While the 854 x 480 resolution and 100 lumen brightness are no great shakes, you can screw Beam into any standard light socket -- you don't have to hunt for a free wall outlet (or even a wall) if you're just looking to show off some vacation photos.
Be prepared to pay a hefty amount for this clever and slightly eccentric display. Beam is crowdfunding its project, and you'll have to pledge between $349 and $399 to score the device if and when it ships in October. It might be worth the wait if you were already looking for a projector, though. After all, how many of its competitors can take over your desk lamp?
Via: Engadget Spanish
Posted by Augustine at 4:44 PM
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
It's been splashing around in beta for a little while, but now your Pebble can respond to notifications directly from that monochrome screen -- kind of like Android Wear, sans touchscreen. You'll need to update your Pebble smartwatch firmware as well as download the very latest edition of of the companion Android app to get rolling. But given Pebble's popularity and price, it should mean far more people are making wrist-based responses to messages. Aside from the ability to set multiple custom notification responses (available to you whenever a compatible app offers a reply option), you can toss money around with Square Cash. The update also adds support for Android 4.0 and over devices, as well as automatic app and watch face updates, even when your Kickstarted smartwatch is idle. Oh and you can reply with emoji. Hopefully, that will be enough to keep the Pebble on your wrist on until that fancy new interface arrives in the near future.
Posted by Augustine at 12:55 PM
The next big release of VLC's do-it-all media player will soon support ChromeCast, according to a recent changelog. The media player is widely used across platforms, and version 3.0 has fans drooling with promised features like improved support for YouTube's next-gen VP9 format. The Chromecast angle means users will be able to stream nearly any media type through the tiny dongle from Android (beta), Mac, Windows 8.1 and Linux devices. As for iOS, maker VideoLAN mysteriously pulled the app shortly after iOS 8 arrived, but insists it'll be back soon. The company hasn't said exactly when iOS support or the new version will arrive, but if everything goes to plan, playing FLAC, XVid and other offbeat formats will soon be easier.
Source: Videolan (GitHub)
Posted by Augustine at 12:50 PM
Monday, February 16, 2015
Now that the independent company's got rid of those pesky excess components, it's time for VAIO to make something new. And it's not a smartphone. Yet. The PC maker has announced two new PCs here in Tokyo: the VAIO Z and VAIO Z Canvas. The latter is actually eventual final version of the prototype tablet that did the rounds last year -- but we'll get to that. First, inside the flagship 13.3-inch VAIO Z which goes up for preorder in Japan later today, you'll find a second -generation high-speed SSD and an unspecified fifth-generation Core i7 processor, all bound up in aluminum-carbon shell. However, bare specs aside, the company reckons its a lot of the little details that matter, and we'll get to those right after the break.
It's been three years since we've seen the flagship Z series, and VAIO's attempted to bring its namesake right up to date: there's a 'multiflip' mode that allows users to switch between a tablet slate, ole-fashioned laptop, as well as a viewing mode where the screen faces away from the laptop. During the lengthy presentation, the execs were keen to stress that this 'Z' also stood for zero -- this is VAIO's new start.
Because of the aluminum-carbon construction, the Z weighs 1.34kg and measures in at 16.8mm thick. (Yep, the Lenovo LaVie HZ550 laptop that wowed us at CES is lighter, but it doesn't do so much hardware acrobatics, either.) VAIO is promising it'll eke out 15.5 hours of use, which would make it the longest lasting laptop it's ever made. That's ever. To accomplish this, VAIO's engineers recomposed the battery inside the Z, shedding several layers inside the cell to improve capacity without impinging on weight or size. There's also a special power-saving display mode, where the screen projects its light in a narrower angle, which can apparently drop power consumption down by an incredible 40 percent when compared to typical LCD.
The company even claims that its keyboard sounds less annoying, and its built a keyboard that makes substantially less noise -- once we've hammered away at one outside of a noisy demo floor, we'll let you know how that exclamation stands up. The return of VAIO's flagship won't come cheap: it'll retail for around 190,000 yen in Japan, which is a nudge over $1,600.
During the lengthy presentation, the execs were keen to stress that this 'Z' stood for zero -- this is VAIO's new start.
The VAIO Z Canvas (coming later in May) doesn't transform quite as much, but the keyboard detaches from the 12.1-inch display, which is certainly creative work friendly, at 2,560 x 1,704 resolution and color reproduction covers 95 percent the Adobe RGB color gamut. It's pitched less as typical workhouse Ultrabook, and more for the creatives among us -- we know you're out there. Naturally, there's a (unspecified) digitizer stylus alongside the device itself. Details were notably sparse, but then, there's still three months to go. VAIO does promise that it'll be able to cram up to 1TB of storage inside the Z Canvas.
Source: VAIO (Japanese)
Posted by Augustine at 7:47 AM
We've already seen what Intel's Core M chips can do to a laptop -- all of the specimens we've seen have been impossibly skinny and lightweight. The problem is, that brand of thin-and-lightness doesn't come cheap: Samsung's new ATIV Book 9 starts at $1,200, for instance, while the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is currently going for $1,299 and up. Leave it to a slightly lesser known brand, then, to shake things up. ASUS is about to start selling that skinny, 0.48-inch-thick Zenbook UX305 we saw last fall, and the price is actually quite reasonable, especially considering its specs more or less match the competition.All told, the base model will sell for $699 with a Core M-Y510 processor, a 128GB solid-state drive, 10-hour battery and a matte, anti-glare 1080p screen. That's available now, but come April, there will also be a higher-end edition that steps up to a 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen. At that point, it basically match machines like the Yoga 3 Pro, which come standard with a QHD+ display, except in this case, you can expect to pay $999, not $1,300. Kind of nice, isn't it, when a mere touchscreen isn't a $500 add-on?
Posted by Augustine at 7:47 AM
We already know that it's possible to map your home's WiFi signal in 2D, but that doesn't help if you're holding your phone above your head to get connected. Step forward YouTuber CNLohr, who appears to have developed a reasonably low-tech way to analyze the WiFi strength of any 3D space. Using just a WiFi module and a CNC mill, he was able to detect the variability of the signal in an area and then create the funky visualization you see before you.
In essence, the system is akin to WiFi radar, using a battery-powered ESP8266 chip to ping a device and measure the signal. If you attach an LED to the handheld hardware, it'll change color depending on the relative quality in a given location. If you've been struggling with a signal blackspot in your home for a while, you can watch the clip below to find out how to build your own.
Posted by Augustine at 7:46 AM
Sunday, February 15, 2015
On 2.5 acres in Houston, Texas, an anonymous owner has erected an enormous 27,000-square-foot chateau that’s being sold for $43 million.
The newly built monumental mansion is reminiscent of Versailles with hand-painted decorations, period-inspired molding, and its lavishly gilted details.
It has eight bedrooms, seven full bathrooms and four half baths, a library, three different kitchens, and a fitness center. There's also has a pool, gardens, outdoor BBQ and fireplace, and pool house on the property.
Kelli Geitner with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing.
The newly constructed home sits on 2.5 acres in Houston, Texas.
It's massive with ample grounds and gardens.
The 27,000-square-foot mansion was modeled loosely after Versailles in Paris.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted by Augustine at 7:25 PM
Fujifilm may still be a relatively niche player in the mirrorless camera field, but that's not stopping the company from putting out some serious lenses to go along with its well-regarded X-series cameras. With the $1,600 XF50-140mm zoom, Fuji's hoping to provide a professional-level, weather-sealed telephoto zoom that can compete with the legendary 70-200mm lenses from companies like Nikon and Canon. I spent a month with the lens to see how close the company came.
First, the full name: It's the Fujinon XF50-140mm f/2.8R LM OIS WR lens. Break out your decoder rings and you'll find we're dealing with a telephoto zoom with a constant max aperture of f/2.8, an aperture control ring (R) and Fuji's "Linear Motor" (LM) for quieter focusing. Also on board: five-stop optical image stabilization (OIS) and weather-resistant (WR) construction. Build quality is unsurprisingly solid: Fuji's XF lenses generally make heavy use of metal and textured rubber. Each of the three control rings move smoothly -- save for the aperture selector, which features distinct, reassuring notches throughout its range of motion. At the front end, you'll find threads for 72mm filters and a bayonet-style attachment for the substantial lens hood. While the all-plastic hood is the only significant component that's not high-quality metal or rubber, it at least has a slide-out tab so you can control mounted circular polarizers more easily.
On the other end, you'll find an all-metal (surprise!) lens mount surrounded by a rubber gasket -- part of the lens' weather-resistant design. Of course, to take full advantage of that protection, you'll likely want a similarly robust camera body like the X-T1. Like the workhorse Canon and Nikon zooms it emulates, the 50-140 has a rotating and removable tripod collar allowing for better balance when mounted on a tripod. Of course, if you flip it around to the top, it makes for a nifty carrying handle as well.
As for the specs, Fuji says the 50-140mm range on its APS-C camera bodies gives users an angle of view (31.7 degrees down to 11.6 degrees) that's broadly similar to what you'd get on Canon's or Nikon's full-frame bodies with their respective 70-200mm optics (about 34 degrees down to 12 degrees). Naturally, that comparison doesn't hold when you're using a 70-200 lens on a smaller APS-C DSLR, but it's still an eminently useful focal range.
Image quality is fantastic throughout regardless of focal length, with pleasingly sharp details and accurate focus. Without Fuji's current speed king, the X-T1, I wasn't able to test out the upper end of its autofocus abilities, but it performed quickly enough on my trusty X-E2. As for bokeh, out-of-focus background elements were generally smooth and not distracting, meaning this should be a solid portrait lens if that's your thing. It also pairs well with Fuji's new macro extension tubes, enabling focus as close as 80mm (about three inches) from the front of the lens rather than the normal 800mm. This let me get up close and personal with some hungry hummingbirds.
Uncropped shot from the Fujifilm XF50-140 with MCEX-16 macro extension tube.
Fuji's onboard image stabilization feature let me hand-hold shots at far slower speeds than I'd normally be capable of. You can hear a faint hum emanating from the lens when the camera powers on, but it shouldn't be too distracting.
In the end, did Fuji succeed in emulating that "classic" telephoto zoom lens SLR shooters have been enjoying for years? Pretty much, yeah. I've been lucky (foolish?) enough to have owned both a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS and Nikon's 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR. They remain two of my favorite lenses, and the XF50-140 compares very well in image quality as well as overall build.
At $1,600 and around 1kg, it's both cheaper and lighter than those DSLR lenses. Heck, if you attached an X-T1 to it, you'd still be around the same weight as those lenses without cameras attached. And you'd likely need that high-end X-T1 -- with its weather-resistant body and improved autofocus -- to get the most out of this lens. If you like that focal range but don't require such heavy-duty glass, there's always Fuji's well-built XF55-200 f/3.5-4.8 optic. It's less than half the price and may be all you really need. But if you're convinced you need to pay the premium, you won't be disappointed.
To view sample photos shot with the Fujifilm XF50-140, click here.
Filed under: Cameras
Posted by Augustine at 1:53 PM