We’ve known that Zeiss was working on a special lens for a while now and finally the super-prime Distagon 55mm f/1.4 has been officially announced. Looking at the two basic parameters – focal length and aperture – there isn’t really anything all that special about it, just another normal prime with slightly more reach than usual. Yet there are several hints that point out neither focal length nor aperture tell the whole story. This lens is big, heavy and complex. It is also manual focus only. But the most shocking aspect is the price of $4000.
Today, Pentax has released the replacement for its popular and highly-regarded K-5 (II) models. Being one of those manufacturers who know how to offer plenty of bang for your buck, the new Pentax K-3 offers a lot of improvements over the older model. This time, though, the headline feature is not a new sensor or improved AF system, but the AA filter that you can adjust on the go for more resolution or less moiré.
1) Overview and Specifications
At the heart of the camera there is a new 24 megapixel sensor. From what I can tell, it is not the exact same unit found in Nikon D7100 (click here to read our review), but I can’t be completely sure. It is very similar, though. Why am I mentioning Nikon? Not only because it is a direct rival to the K-3, but predecessors of both new DSLR cameras also shared the same 16 megapixel Sony sensor with small tweaking differences, perhaps. In any case, if previous Pentax cameras are of any indication, the new sensor should perform admirably and on par with competition, certainly very similar to D7100′s sensor. There is also a new 27-point phase-detect autofocus system – certainly a much-needed update which should work in light as low as an impressive -3EV.
A while ago, I wrote an article explaining how to use Lightroom with external editors. Since then, I’ve been asked specifically about merging panorama images. In this article, I will show you all the steps you need to take to successfully merge a panorama and have it back in your Library with minimal fuss. I will be using Lightroom 5.2 and Photoshop CS5, but the process is virtually identical with (reasonably) older versions of both software tools. This tutorial will focus on the process of stitching a panorama image while using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom as the heart of your post-processing and image management workflow.
If you are new to panorama photography, the best place to start is by reading our “Panoramic Photography Tutorial”. Manual panorama stitching technique will be discussed in a separate article.
1) There is a Catch
We start, unusually, with a problem. As a RAW file converter and photo manager, Lightroom has limited functionality when it comes to graphical editing. In fact, all its great flexibility is concentrated within the two mentioned main functions of the software. In many other respects, Lightroom is not the best choice. For example, I can edit 98% of my wedding photographs with Lightroom alone, no problem. However, the two remaining percent happen to be Brenizer method panoramas. This is where things, at first glance, get a bit more complicated. As I am sure a lot of you already know, you can’t stitch panorama images with Lightroom alone. If you didn’t yet know this and stumbled upon this article hoping to find a different answer, I am sorry to disappoint you. It lacks such functionality at its core. There is, of course, a workaround. What Lightroom can’t do on its own, it can do with the help of external editors and plug-ins. Panorama stitching happens to be one of those holes you can fill in quite easily if you own a Lightroom-compatible panorama stitching software which, in my case, is Photoshop. So, in order to create a panorama in Lightroom (sort of), you need to export those files to an external editor. Photoshop has a very powerful Photomerge tool for just such occasions, but the problem remains. You need to own another piece of software to perform such a task. I find that perplexing.
A quick reminder for those who haven’t had the chance to take advantage of Nikon’s great camera + lens rebates. The program is about to end (deadline is September 28th), so if you were planning on purchasing a Nikon body and a lens (or several), there is no better time to do just that.
Nikon has just made a very surprising move and released a rugged Nikon 1 mirrorless camera, the AW1. I have not been excited by a Nikon announcement in a long time now as they have, just like Canon and Sony, been releasing products that have barely changed since their last iteration. Not this time. The Nikon 1 AW1 is the first camera in its niche, and I hope it is not going to be the last. Of course, a waterproof interchangeable lens camera makes little sense without appropriately rugged lenses. Therefore, two lenses – a 10mm f/2.8 AW and a 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 AW – have also been announced. A proper new addition, this, and will make Nikon 1 system very tempting for some.
A while ago, Adobe has made the Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 Release Candidate version update available. I restrained from updating my Lightroom 5 version to the RC update and decided to wait for the full release. Today, final Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 updates are finally available for download and fix a number of bugs while also adding support for several newest cameras. New Camera RAW features are only available for Photoshop CC users. CS6 users are also eligible for the update, but Camera RAW 8.2 for Photoshop CS6 only adds new camera/lens support and fixes bugs. It does not add new features.
As always, Lightroom 5.2 and Camera RAW 8.2 updates are very similar. Having said that, there are some differences. In this quick overview, I will provide you with information for both.
Fujifilm has recently announced a new addition to its X-series of interchangeable lens compact camera system. Fujifilm X-A1 positions itself right below the previous entry-level model in the range, X-M1. At the same time, it is a camera many Fujifilm fans will likely not appreciate all that much. A lot of the initial skepticism may be due to the fact it is not very different from the recently announced X-M1. But more importantly, a difference these two cameras have is also a major one. Because Fujifilm X-A1 has a traditional Bayer color filter array rather than the rightly praised X-Trans. A recipe for failure? Not quite. Before we dive into an overview, though, let’s take a quick look at the specs.
Along with the high-end OM-D E-M1, Olympus has also announced a new professional-grade lens for their mirrorless system. Sporting the m4/3 mount, 12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens has an equivalent 24-80mm focal length in 35mm format and is similar to bread-and-butter 24-70mm optics from major DSLR manufacturers.
1) Lens Overview
24-70mm f/2.8 class lenses have long been seen as the most versatile of zooms and were always targeted at professional photographers with their dependable build and fast, constant aperture throughout the zoom range. There is no doubt, looking at the lens’ parameters, that the new Olympus Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 builds on the same virtues (which makes the slightly pompous “PRO” designation in the naming sort of unnecessary). The 14 glass elements (9 groups) that make up the optical formula are enclosed in a tough, metal barrel. The lens has appropriate weather sealing and is protected against dust, moisture and cold temperatures. As such, it is a perfect companion to the E-M1.
Today, Olympus has announced the second model in its OM-D mirrorless camera lineup, the E-M1. It does not replace the previous flagship model, highly regarded and popular E-M5 (click for our review), but rather stands above it with more impressive specifications and purposeful design. With a steep price of $1400 body only, let’s see what the OM-D E-M1 has to offer and compare it to the already very capable older brother, the E-M5.
1) Olympus OM-D E-M1 Overview and Key Specifications
The first thing you notice, being used to E-M5′s sleeker look, is the protruding, DSLR-style hand grip. This camera, although small, has ergonomics as a priority over compact dimensions. But it is not just the grip that has gotten bigger. Although the imaging sensor is the same or similar to the one used in E-M5 and E-P5, the built-in electronic viewfinder now has 2.36m dots instead of the already high-res 1.44m of the E-M5. On top of that, it has the full-frame equivalent 0.74x magnification, which means it is large and even bigger than that of Canon 5D Mark III (0.71x), a camera with a much bigger sensor. Very impressive. The E-M5 had an equivalent EVF magnification of 0.58x, which already was very good for such a small sensor camera.
Update: the price of the new Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4R lens has been changed to $899 (ass opposed to $849 listed previously on B&H)
Fujifilm has announced one of the most anticipated lenses in their current line-up, the XF 23mm f/1.4. When mounted on one of Fujifilm’s X-mount cameras, this lens behaves much like a classic 35mm f/1.4 lens does on a full-frame camera in terms of light gathering capability and angle of view. In terms of depth of field, it is closer to a 35mm f/2 lens on full-frame, which is still very, very good – it is currently the fastest lens in its class for APS-C sensor cameras. To say the least, we are excited, but not at all surprised. Partly because of Fujifilm’s lens roadmap, of course. But partly because fast, high-quality lenses is what we have come to expect from Fujifilm. Let’s talk about this lens in a bit more detail.
1) The Technical Bit
It is a beautifully designed lens with a focal length of 23mm and aperture range of f/1.4-16. As you would expect from this manufacturer, in addition to the usual focus ring, the lens also has a dedicated ring to control the 7-blade rounded aperture and that, along with the XF designation, marks it as Fuji’s high-end, professional optic. Along with the focus and aperture rings, Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 lens has an engraved distance and depth of field scales, which street photography and landscape enthusiasts will be quick to appreciate.