Today is 31st December and the 2020 is drawing to a close, it’s time to take a look on the most surprising tech that surprised us this year. This collection contains devices that surprised the us in 2020. Some of them we tested ourselves, some surprise by the very fact of their existence. So let’s dig the surprising tech in 2020 related to photography.
- ConceptD 9 and ConceptD 7 Ezel Workstation
- Panasonic Lumix S1H
- Sony SEL600F4GM Lens
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 Smartphone
- ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro Smartphone
- Apple M1 Processor
- Accessory: Stabilizer for DJI OM 4 Smartphones
- Software: Artificial Intelligence in Adobe Photoshop
- Event: HUAWEI Sold the HONOR Brand
1. Workstation: ConceptD 9 and ConceptD 7 Ezel
This computer can be called a laptop, but more correctly – a mobile workstation. Working behind such a monster on the road is not very convenient: the ConceptD 9 is too big and heavy. But transporting it is easy.
The pride of the model is a 17.3-inch IPS-screen with 4K resolution. Its performance meets the most stringent quality standards: full coverage of the Adobe RGB color space and color accuracy when factory calibrated to Delta E <1. But the main thing is that you can rotate the screen in different positions and draw on it with a pen. Before us is not only a computer, but also a high-quality graphic tablet: with a perfect screen and high resolution.
The filling is also not at the level: Intel Core i9-9980HK paired with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 plus 32 GB of RAM and a very fast terabyte SSD. This is the computer on which everything flies. In between tests, I played Metro Exodus at maximum speeds in 4K. The issues of power supply and cooling in such a serious machine are solved on a solid five. For example, the device is powered by a 350-watt power supply, so the processor and video card are working at full capacity.
So far, this is the most powerful mobile solution that has passed through our hands. And yet the ConceptD 9 is perfectly adapted for professional graphics work.
However, our favorite also has a younger brother – the ConceptD 7 Ezel. Here is a transformer screen of the highest quality, support for working with a pen, but more compact dimensions (15″) and weaker filling. Everything about him is in our test.
2. Camera: Panasonic Lumix S1H
The Panasonic Lumix S1H has become the largest and heaviest full-frame mirrorless camera in our edition. But we are ready to forgive these features for the video shooting capabilities that it gives. With the help of the cooling system, the developers have solved the problem of potential overheating once and for all. You can shoot at even 5.9K at 59.94 fps! Naturally, there are 4:2:2 and 10-bit, and RAW video output to HDMI. More details in our big test.
Like other S-series cameras, the Panasonic Lumix S1H has a built-in image stabilizer. This and the form factor makes the camera similar to other mirrorless cameras. But in terms of functionality, it is closer to video cameras. The model became a landmark for the market, starting a new round of the arms race in the development of mirrorless video cameras. This trend in the outgoing year was supported by other manufacturers.
3. Lens: Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS
The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G is a showcase of power and technology from Sony. Having started its way in the professional photo market in 2006, the company was able to create a technology for ultra-precise processing of aspherical lenses with an error of up to hundredths of a micron (XA-lenses). The Sony FE 70-200mm uses both an XA element and large fluorite lenses. As a result, the lens has perfect sharpness at all apertures. We have never seen MTF charts like this. But we are talking about a super telephoto camera with a focal length of 600 mm.
During the test, we were convinced of the absence of other distortions, fast focusing, high stabilizer efficiency… The company managed to create the perfect lens. It, by the way, is also the lightest in the class. There is only one catch – the price. You can’t call it low. And the focal length is specific, purely professional. Nevertheless, this masterpiece of design thought is worthy of being in our collection.
4. Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
Samsung surprised the market with a bending smartphone back in 2019 with the Samsung Galaxy Fold. In 2020, the brand continued to develop its idea, launching first the foldable clamshell Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and then the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2.
The company released the first generation Fold, having gone through certain difficulties with the hinge, which got dirt and dust, as well as a protective film on the plastic display that could not be torn off. Samsung Galaxy Fold turned out to be a working concept and even went on sale.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 is a full-fledged device that can be called a serial device. The external screen has become larger, now it is a full-fledged display, and not an auxiliary window for notifications. The inner screen has increased in size and lost its ugly bangs. Plus, the Galaxy Z Fold2 has a new design, cool colors. Plus, you can choose the color of the hinge cover, and Samsung will make a gadget according to your order.
The device also received an excellent set of cameras with ultra-wide-angle, wide-angle and 2x zoom lens. Added smart technologies: for example, the camera of a device that is half open can stand on the table and at the same time keep your face in the frame, zooming in and out.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 literally changes the rules of the game and sets unusual trends: now you can, for example, turn on Google Maps on a small screen, and then open your smartphone and see the image on a large (7.6″), almost square display, and even with support for 120 Hz.
5. Smartphone: ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro
Another smartphone that surprised us, which can rightfully be considered one of the most interesting, the best in 2020. Since last year, ASUS has decided to present only two smartphones a year and both are flagship. This year one is geared towards the gaming audience, an uncompromising gaming smartphone with advanced cooling and aggressive design. However, it cannot boast of outstanding camera capabilities. The second is the impressive ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro.
A high-quality AMOLED display with a high refresh rate, a design without bangs, a large battery, flagship capacities – it’s all about it. But what makes it different? Certainly a camera, its unique design. The smartphone has a triple camera unit with a stepper motor, which allows it to be rotated to any angle within a range of 180 degrees. Last year we saw this mechanism with a dual camera, and in 2020 a zoom camera was added to the wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses, providing 3x optical zoom.
The unique design and good range of cameras make the ASUS smartphone a worthy choice for a mobile photographer. With such a device, it is convenient to shoot both reflections in puddles and creative photos using camera rotation to any angle. We tried all these scenarios during testing. We also compiled a location guide and arranged a real photo battle between Moscow and St. Petersburg.
6. Processor: Apple M1 Processor
The concept of a microprocessor itself has become a little blurred in recent years, and the classic battle between AMD and Intel chips has ceased to amaze. But in the summer there was a thunderbolt.
We are already used to the fact that not all rumors turn into real announcements. After the announcement at WWDC 2020, we timidly hoped to see one MacBook – the first swallow for tests, but saw two laptops and one PC, which make it clear how serious Apple’s intentions are.
The first tests show that Apple’s step was justified: the chip turned out to be powerful and at the same time energy efficient, and most importantly, almost all programs are already successfully working on updated computers and do it without any problems.
We have witnessed a revolution in Apple’s lineup and possibly a revolution in microprocessors. At one time, the company switched from the PowerPC architecture to Intel. In recent years, many have criticized Intel-based laptops, so switching to your own chips looks like a great decision.
7. Accessory: Stabilizer for DJI OM 4 Smartphones
DJI updates its products almost every year. They recently updated the DJI Osmo Pocket 2, but the most unusual accessory in 2020 is the DJI OM 4 smartphone handheld camera stabilizer. It was previously known as Osmo Mobile, but it has been shortened to an acronym.
Even before the announcement of the Apple iPhone 12 with its MagSafe, DJI showed an unusual smartphone mount for the OM4 – a small metal magnetic “pill” that is glued to the back of the smartphone. Thanks to this, in the design of the DJI OM 4, it was possible to get rid of the mount with wide legs, which is very often inconvenient because the mount presses on the buttons of the smartphone. As a result, either the device reboots, or the paws press on the volume key or the call button of the voice assistant.
With the DJI OM 4 you get a great kit, which includes a branded case and a small tripod, compactness, lightness and foldable body, as well as excellent image stabilization and good software. And most importantly, the DJI OM 4 stabilizer was and will be a universal solution that can be used for several years with different smartphones.
8. Software: Artificial Intelligence in Adobe Photoshop
Adobe held its annual Adobe MAX conference this year, like the others, online. At the same time, everyone got access to the broadcast. The main announcement took place as part of the keynote speech. The company showed a new version of Adobe Photoshop, which has been seriously improved due to artificial intelligence.
The updated Photoshop can retouch a frame with the click of literally one button. You can open and close the model’s eyes, age, rejuvenate and even “turn on” a smile. But what impressed us the most was the new sky replacement feature: the AI in Photoshop recognizes the sky in the photo, and you can replace it with the flick of your fingers, choosing from the options. Well, there is magic in Photoshop, which is great.
9. Event: HUAWEI Sold the HONOR Brand
And for dessert, we left one of the brightest events of 2020. Recently, our attention has been focused on the fate of HUAWEI, which still does not give up under the yoke of sanctions from the US presidential administration. Due to the trade war between China and the United States, HUAWEI lost the ability to receive components for smartphones that are in one way or another related to US patents, but most importantly, it was denied the opportunity to produce its own Kirin processors based on ARM architecture at factories, including the main and modern TSMC. The company cannot get components for itself, and even more so for the production of smartphones under the HONOR brand.
About five years ago, HONOR ceased to be a line within HUAWEI and began to separate into an independent brand. Over the course of five years, we saw several laptops, our own tablet, routers and a full line of smartphones from state employees to flagships, and the flagship HONOR 30 Pro Plus was noted by our expert team as the best smartphone of 2020.
Therefore, the news of the independence of HONOR is significant for the smartphone and high-tech market. Most likely in 2021 we will see the fruits of the deal between HUAWEI and Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd. Most importantly, the HONOR brand has been saved, and we will be able to see current devices with powerful processors that will not be affected by US sanctions.