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Nikon Z7 II review: A solid upgrade, but it lags behind rivals

Nikon’s Z7 II brings some attractive new features over the original Z7, but it can’t match rival cameras from Sony and Canon.

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Image Credit: Steve Dent/Engadget

Subject and face/eye tracking is also made easier with a new feature. If you’re shooting in groups, you can keep it limited to one area so that it doesn’t jump over to the wrong subject. That was a problem before with Nikon’s eye AF in particular, as it tended to jump between subjects if more than one was in the frame.

If you want to use the silent electronic shutter to avoid disturbing your subject, there’s one big negative with the Z7 II. It has a severe rolling shutter effect, so if you pan quickly you’re likely to get skewed vertical lines.

The Z7 II does have in-body stabilization, but it offers only 5 stops of shake reduction compared to 8 on the EOS R5. In real-world use, that means you might need to shoot at a slightly higher shutter speed, or else crank up the ISO and risk a slightly noisier image.

Image quality Gallery: Nikon Z7 II review image gallery | 34 Photos Gallery: Nikon Z7 II review image gallery | 34 Photos

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Luckily, the Z7 II delivers excellent high-ISO performance for low-light situations, second only to Sony’s A7R IV for high-resolution full-frame cameras. I was able to get good photos with usable noise up to about ISO 12,800. And even at higher ISO levels, I didn’t lose much in terms of sharpness and color reproduction.

It also works very well at the other end of the ISO scale. As before, you get a base ISO of 64, which is very handy for outdoor shooting in bright light. At such a low ISO level, I got extremely clean, noise-free images, so I could expose for highlights and boost shadows in post without adding much noise, even in sunny, high-contrast conditions.

Overall, the Z7 II really delivers on image quality, with sharp photos, pleasing colors and high dynamic range. It worked well across a fairly wide range of photos, including people, landscapes, night scenes, animals and more. That’s important for a high-resolution camera designed for landscape and studio portrait shooting.

Video

Nikon Z7 II review gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

When it comes to video, I’d recommend Nikon’s Z6 II over the Z7 II, as the latter isn’t really designed for that purpose. Still, the Z7 II is pretty competent for video and much improved over the first model.

As usual, image stabilization works well for handheld video as long as you don’t try to walk or move around. With Nikon’s latest improvements, video autofocus generally tracks moving or still subjects better than ever, but it’s still not quite up to Canon or Sony’s latest standards.

You can shoot 8-bit 4K/60p video with a small 1.08X crop, rather than just at 30 fps like the original Z7. As before, however, the Z7 II does do line-skipping for 4K video when you use the full sensor width, unlike the Z6 II. You can only get sharp, oversampled video if you crop down to an APS-C sensor size — meaning you lose depth of field and get a 1.5x zoom.

On top of the line-skipping, another issue with shooting video using the full sensor width is rolling shutter. If you try to pan the camera quickly, you’ll get very noticeable jello or line skewing. This is far less noticeable when shooting with an APS-C crop.

You can output 10-bit N-Log or HLG HDR footage, but only via the HDMI port to a compatible recorder. And unlike the Z7 at launch, the Z7 II supports external RAW video recording at up to 4K (with a crop) or in HD using the full sensor.

I shot video both internally and on external recorders using the N-log mode. Even using the full sensor, it was relatively sharp and delivered rich, accurate colors. Thanks to the excellent dynamic range, I found I had a lot of room to adjust the video in post, particularly when shooting in log or HLG modes. That said, the lack of internal 10-bit, log and RAW recording is a drawback for pro videographers, compared to the Canon R5.

Wrap-upNikon Z7 II review gallery

Steve Dent/Engadget

When Nikon and Canon released their first full-frame mirrorless cameras, I gave the edge to Nikon. Now that Canon and Nikon have both released new standard and high-resolution cameras, what’s the verdict in 2021?

This time, Canon wins. While the Z7 II has slightly better image quality, the R5 is superior in nearly every other way. It’s far better for video and has superior autofocus, stabilization and shooting speeds.

I’d chalk this up to the fact that with Canon’s improved technology, the EOS R5 is a giant leap over the EOS R. Nikon only made iterative improvements, so the Z7 II lacks that wow factor.

That doesn’t mean the Z7 II is a bad camera, and at $3,000, it’s nearly a grand less than the R5. It’s also $500 cheaper than Sony’s A7R IV. If image quality is crucial and you have a limited budget, I’d recommend the Z7 II. If money is less of an issue, I’d point you to Sony’s A7R IV for landscape and studio work, or the Canon R5 if video is equally important — unless you want to wait for Nikon’s next-generation models.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/nikon-z7-ii-review-140054141.html

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This week’s best deals: $100 off Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad and more

Here’s a list of the best tech deals we found this week, including deep discounts on the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad and Nintendo Switch games for ‘Mar10 Day.’

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All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

This week brought a number of sales on tech accessories, plus solid discounts on Nintendo Switch games in celebration of ‘Mar10 Day.’ The 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard for iPad is down to its lowest price yet, and you can still grab the 11-inch version for less as well. Nintendo knocked 35 percent off many Mario games this week — the sales last through March 13, so there’s still time to save money while adding to your games collection. Plus, the latest smartphones from OnePlus remain hundreds of dollars off. Here are the best tech deals we found this week that you can still get today.

Apple Magic Keyboard for iPadApple Magic Keyboard for iPad

Engadget

The 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard is down to $250 at Amazon thanks to a coupon that knocks $79 off the $329 sale price. This is the lowest price we’ve seen for the larger model, but you can grab the 11-inch version for $199 right now as well. We gave the Magic Keyboard a score of 84 for its great typing experience, excellent trackpad and its ability to charge your iPad while it’s magnetically connected.

Buy 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard at Amazon – $250 Buy 11-inch Magic Keyboard at Amazon – $199

‘Mar10 Day’ Nintendo Switch dealsSuper Mario Maker 2

Nintendo

Nintendo’s annual Mario appreciation day came and went this week, but you can still grab many Switch titles for less because of it. Through March 13, the company knocked 35 percent off Super Mario Party, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Super Mario Maker 2 and Mario Tennis Aces, and you can get those savings at Nintendo’s eShop and Amazon.

While those are the main highlights, Amazon has a bunch of other Switch games for less right now, including Super Mario Odyssey for $39, Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for $39 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for $49. Plus, there’s a new Square Enix sale going on at Nintendo’s eShop right now, too. It runs through March 24 and it discounts titles including Collection of Mana, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy IX.

Shop Nintendo’s Mar10 sale Shop Amazon’s Mar10 sales Shop Square Enix Switch sale at Nintendo’s eShop

Apple Watch SEApple Watch SE

Engadget

The Apple Watch SE has fallen to $259 on Amazon, which is $20 off its normal price. While not the lowest it’s ever been ($230), this is a good deal if you missed the steep sales during the holiday shopping season last year. We gave the SE a score of 88 for its solid performance, comprehensive features with watchOS and comfortable design.

Buy Apple Watch SE (GPS) at Amazon – $259 Buy Apple Watch SE (GPS + Cellular) at Amazon – $329

Mac mini M1Apple Mac mini

Engadget

Apple’s 512GB Mac mini M1 is down to $829 at B&H Photo and Amazon, which is a good sale price if you want the desktop PC with extra storage. But you’re also able to get the 256GB Mac mini M1 for $649 which, while not an all-time low, is an even better sale price considering its specs. If you choose the 256GB Mac mini, you could buy an external drive with more than 256GB of storage for less than the $180 you’d be paying for the first model.

Buy Mac mini M1 (512GB) at B&H Photo Video – $829 Buy Mac mini M1 (512GB) at Amazon – $829 Buy Mac mini M1 (256GB) at B&H Photo Video – $649 Buy Mac Mini M1 (256GB) at Amazon – $649

OnePlus 8T and 8 ProOnePlus 8T smartphone

Engadget

Ahead of the Series 9 launch, OnePlus discounted its 8T and 8 Pro smartphones by 30 and 20 percent, respectively. That drops the price of the 8 Pro to $700 and the 8T to $600, which are some of the best prices we’ve seen. If you don’t want to wait for the Series 9 handset from OnePlus (which should be debuting soon), these sales are good ones to consider when looking for your next smartphone.

Buy OnePlus 8 Pro at Amazon – $700 Buy OnePlus 8T at Amazon – $600

Sony WH-1000XM3Sony WH-1000XM3

Devindra Hardawar / Engadget

Sony’s stellar WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones are down to $200 at Focus Photo & Video when you use the code BDTHANKS at checkout. While the XM4 are the newest version of these, the XM3 remain fantastic headphones thanks to their comfortable design, solid noise cancellation and 30-hour battery life.

Buy WH-1000XM3 at Focus Photo & Video – $200

New tech dealsSony WH-CH710N

Sony’s budget WH-CH710N wireless headphones are down to $98 — while not the lowest they’ve ever been, it’s a great deal considering these cans are usually $200. These are some of the best bang-for-your-buck headphones Sony makes thanks to their good noise cancellation, comfortable design and 35-hour battery life.

Buy Sony WH-CH710N at Amazon – $98

Ecovacs Deebot T8

Ecovac’s Deebot T8 is on sale for $450 when you clip the on-age coupon and use the code ECOVACST8 at checkout. That’s the best price we’ve seen on this high-end model that’s both a robot vacuum and a mop in one. It also has three different levels of suction, multi-floor map saving, anti-drop and collision features and a 180-minute battery life when used in standard mode.

Buy Ecovacs Deebot T8 at Amazon – $450

Mate X electric bike

The unique Mate X electric bike is $250 off at Wellbots when you use the code 250ENGADGET at checkout. That brings it down to $2,049 which, while still expensive, is a decent discount on a bike that doesn’t often go on sale. While you’re better off going for a more affordable scooter if you simply want a more efficient way to get around your city, the Mate X is a solid choice for thrill-seekers and those who don’t mind to splurge on an e-bike.

Buy Mate X at Wellbots – $2,049

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/weekly-tech-deals-apple-magic-keyboard-for-ipad-mar10-day-nintendo-switch-games-deals-163006544.html

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Instagram starts rolling out an auto-caption sticker for Stories

The feature should make Stories more accessible for hard of hearing users.

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Instagram is taking a step forward for accessibility with the rollout of automatic captions on Stories. Social media consultant Matt Navarra shared a video of the feature in action.

There’s a new sticker called CC captions that you can add to your Story. When you do, the app will transcribe the audio. You’ll have the option to change the font of your captions. However, Instagram didn’t transcribe Navarra’s story completely accurately, mistaking “finally” for “find.”

This move is a big boost for accessibility, especially for hard of hearing users. It could come in useful for those who speak different languages too. There are third-party services that Instagram users can harness to add captions, but a built-in auto caption tool could translate the text. Engadget has contacted Instagram for more details on the feature, including rollout plans.

Several other platforms already support automatic captions, such as YouTube. Similar features are also on the way to Zoom and Twitter.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/instagram-automatic-captions-stories-194326833.html

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Facebook reportedly investigated over ‘systemic’ racism in hiring

Facebook is said to be under investigation for allegedly ‘systemic’ racism in its hiring and job promotions.

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Facebook has publicly committed to fighting racism, but there are concerns that isn’t translating to its recruitment practices. Reuters sources say the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is investigating possible “systemic” racism in Facebook’s hiring and job promotions. Facebook program manager Oscar Veneszee Jr. and four candidates have reportedly accused the social network of discriminating against Black applicants and staff through subjective evaluations and pushing racial stereotypes. Three of the people brought the case in July 2020, with a fourth joining in December.

The EEOC tapped investigators for systemic cases by August 2020, but they’ve only received briefings from both sides of the case over the past four months.

While the full extent of the alleged violations isn’t clear, one of the policies in dispute stems from hiring bonuses. The company hands out up to $5,000 in bonuses if a referred candidate is hired, but those referrals tended to reflect the existing employee demographics and disadvantage Black applicants (who make up 3.9 percent of US employees as of last June).

There are no guarantees the EEOC investigation will lead to formal action. The Commission declined to comment, but Facebook said it took discrimination accusations “seriously” and investigated “every case.”

This isn’t the first time Facebook’s hiring has come under fire. In 2017, a Bloomberg report pointed out that a handful of executives typically made final hiring decisions and tended to use metrics that favored culturally similar candidates, such as people endorsed by existing staff or those who went to certain schools. Facebook maintained that it had diverse hiring teams that brought in candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, but its incentive system was having problems at the time.

If the allegations hold up, they’ll suggest that some of those years-old complaints still persist. An EEOC determination could lead to reforms, even if it’s just through public pressure.

This isn’t the first time Facebook’s hiring has come under fire. In 2017, a Bloomberg report pointed out that a handful of executives typically made final hiring decisions and tended to use metrics that favored culturally similar candidates, such as people endorsed by existing staff or those who went to certain schools. Facebook maintained that it had diverse hiring teams that brought in candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, but its incentive system was having problems at the time.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-racism-hiring-investigation-225453912.html

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