Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR II Announcement

Along with the D3300 DSLR, Nikon has also introduced the new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens, another iteration of the lens with a completely new design. Compared to its predecessor, the new 18-55mm kit lens is now much more compact and lighter, because of its retracting design similar to some of the Nikon 1 lenses.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

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Nikon D3300 Announcement

Today Nikon announced the new Nikon D3300 DSLR camera – an update to the existing Nikon D3200 that was released in the spring of 2012. The D3300 is not a huge upgrade over its predecessor. Judging from its specifications, it is mostly a cosmetic release without major innovations, meant to keep Nikon’s entry-level line fresh. The image sensor is supposedly new that increases the native max ISO from 6400 to 12800, although its resolution stayed the same at 24.2 megapixels. The main difference in sensors is the removal of the optical low-pass / anti-aliasing filter, which has now become a trend even on entry-level DSLRs (the Nikon D5300 was also released without a low-pass filter). The D3300 comes with the new EXPEED 4 processor that we have seen earlier on the D5300, which allows the camera to record/process images and video at higher rates. For example, video recording at full 1080p is now possible at 60 frames per second. Continuous shooting frame rate has been increased from 4 to 5 fps and the viewfinder got a slight magnification boost from 0.78x to 0.85x.

Nikon D3300

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Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R Lens Announcement

The holidays are over, as sad as it may be. And that means it is time to get back to work! We start with some great news. Fujifilm has just announced (or, rather, confirmed, since we knew this lens was coming) the very hot Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens for its popular and desirable X-series compact camera system. For those who wonder, this is a proper, 85mm full-frame equivalent (84mm if you’re being pedantic) portrait lens with correspondingly fast aperture of f/1.2.

Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R

1) Overview and Specifications

It is not difficult to understand why such a lens is so important for any camera system, and especially for that which is based around APS-C sized sensors. 85mm f/1.4-1.8 class lenses are considered to be among the best, most versatile prime portrait optics. Not only do they sport a very useful focal length, generally thought to be not too long or too wide for close-up portraits, but the fast aperture also ensures plenty of creative opportunities to take advantage of. Of course, one could always use a 50mm f/1.4 class lens on a crop sensor camera for similar behavior and that is indeed something I have done in the past myself. And yet there was a problem. A 50mm lens acts much like a 75mm lens would on a full-frame camera, which sounds close enough to 85mm. In practice, I found 75mm equivalent to be a little too wide for close-up portraits, which would get distorted. That is why the new Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens will be so appreciated by professional photographers looking for a proper portrait lens. In terms of angle of view, it acts very similarly to how an 85mm lens would when mounted on a DSLR with a 35mm sensor. The maximum aperture of f/1.2 should prove useful in low-light situations, but what is more interesting is that the shallow depth of field capabilities of this lens are similar to an 85mm f/1.8 lens on a full-frame camera. This is the first lens with such parameters for APS-C sensor cameras – Fuji has done something much more experienced digital camera manufacturers have ignored for over a decade now. It is a good thing, and one that is slowly becoming a welcome trend.

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Nikon 58mm f/1.4G Review

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This is an in-depth review of the new, much anticipated Nikon 58mm f/1.4G professional prime lens that was announced on October 17, 2013 along with the Nikon D5300 DSLR. Similar to the legendary classic, the NOCT Nikkor 58mm f/1.2, the AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G is a specialized lens for such needs as portraiture, street, event / wedding photography and astrophotography. Thanks to its fast aperture of f/1.4 and a complex optical formula using aspherical elements, nano crystal coat and super integrated coating, along with a fast silent wave autofocus motor, the lens is also ideal for low-light photography needs. Unlike many of the Nikkor lenses that are optimized for maximum sharpness, the Nikon 58mm f/1.4G is the first modern lens of its kind that focuses on producing aesthetically pleasing images, rather than purely focusing on sharpness. I had a pleasure of shooting with this lens for the last 3 months and I wanted to get a full understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, especially when compared to the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and f/1.8G lenses that I have been relying on for my photography needs. In this review, I will not only provide an in-depth analysis of the lens, but will also compare it head to head against Nikon’s 50mm prime lenses and the Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 lens that I have been testing in parallel.

Nikon 58mm f/1.4G

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Nikon Df – Heart vs Head Rebuttal

When Bob Vishneski wrote his “In the Nikon Df Crossfire – Heart vs Head” humorous article a couple of days ago, I had a hard time with hitting the publish button, because I knew it would create some controversy (especially from those that like their Nikon Df cameras). In addition, I did not necessarily agree with all of Bob’s points, since I look at the Df differently. But that’s the beautiful thing about our team here at PL – we can differ in opinion, share our thoughts / feelings and we do not have to agree! In this case, the below article is sort of a rebuttal to Bob’s article.

Nikon Df

I have been shooting with the Nikon Df for over a month now and I do not see the Df as a huge mistake. In fact, I actually like a lot of things about it and see its place for some photographers. I am not trying to say that I love the Df, since there are some things I strongly dislike about it, like the single SD card slot on the bottom of the camera, some ergonomic issues and other limitations. I think the Df is a very controversial camera and Nikon knew very well that it would be before the release. In fact, I heard something very interesting – Nikon apparently told re-sellers that they expected the sales for the Df to be very low. At the moment, re-sellers are barely catching up with the demand and the number of units sold far exceeded their expectations! I was rather surprised by this, considering how vocal some people got on our site and others regarding the Df.

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In The Nikon Df Crossfire – Heart vs Head

The following conversation is entirely fictitious. Any similarities to opinions expressed on this forum or elsewhere are purely coincidental.

Nikon Df - Heart vs. Head

Head: So you are pretty excited about the Nikon Df, huh?
Heart: Absolutely!
Head: Just what is it about this new DSLR that has you so enthused?
Heart: Well, the Df brings us back to what some of us call “Pure Photography.” Sadly, it has been missing for quite some time. Then again, given your analytical mindset, which is utterly devoid of human emotion, I would not expect you to understand such a concept.
Head: Perhaps thinking is a bit over-rated at times, but it does come in handy, particularly when evaluating marketing slogans and attempting to discern the value of various camera models and lens choices. So help me out here – just what have those of us using digital cameras over the past 13 years or so been engaged in – “Impure Photography?”
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Fuji XQ1 Review

This is not meant to be an in-depth review of the Fuji XQ1, because I normally do not like spending time evaluating point and shoot cameras. First, there are too many of them and they recycle every year, sometimes even several times a year. Second, with the rise of the cell phone market with pretty impressive cameras, I just do not see the future of the point and shoot market. And lastly, the XQ1 simply ended up in my hands in error and I did not want to send it back without writing a few words about it.

Fuji XQ1

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Last Chance for Year End Savings

Nikon’s “Buy Together and Save” instant rebate program is expiring today (it will not be extended anymore), so B&H is offering a free UPS Next Day Air shipping for orders to arrive to your home before the end of the year. If you want to see a detailed list of cameras and lenses that are available for this rebate program, along with our recommendations, please take a look at this article that I posted on Black Friday. In short, this particular rebate program applies to all current and older Nikon DSLRs and a long list of DX and FX lenses. Once you add a camera body to the cart, you can stack as many lenses as you want, increasing the total savings.

Nikon Buy Together and Save

Refurbished Nikon D800 DSLR has dropped down to $2,399.

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Sony A7 and A7R Red Dot Flare Issue

Just as I have suspected, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are not immune to the Red Dot Flare issue, thanks to the short flange distance. The effect of the red dot flare can be significantly reduced if the rear lens element has non-reflective coating applied to it. In the case of the two below, the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 ZA handles flare a little better due to its optical design, but the red dots are still all over the place. Both shot at f/16, pointing directly at the sun.

Sony A7 and 28-70mm Red Dot Flare

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Latest B&H Offers

UPDATE: More deals added, including the Canon 5D Mark III 1 day sale!

B&H is now offering the Canon EOS T5i with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 55-250mm f3/4-5.6 IS STM lenses and a SanDisk 16GB SD memory card with a whopping discount of $500. I was not impressed with the T5i, perhaps better known as 700D, but only for one reason – it is not much of an update to its predecessor, and it seems like a lot of manufacturers are just flooding the market with barely improved products. So what I did not like was the very fact the camera was released so soon after 650D came into market. However, on its own, it is a very capable camera and, from specification standpoint, up there with the best in entry level segment. If you were planning to purchase it, now is a good time to do so, because, for a limited time, the two-lens kit costs just $999 compared to the regular price of $1,499. Follow this link to get to the product page. Mind you, the new price is only visible when you add the camera to the shopping cart.

Canon 700D Rebel T5i

More good news – Nikon Df is in stock for $2,746.95. From what I’ve heard, pre-order numbers were not great for Nikon, but I’ve already asked Nasim, who is working on a review, what he thinks about it. The simple truth is that he likes it – a lot; especially with that exotic and brilliant Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G lens. So I guess our initial assumption still stands – this camera is not for everyone and, if one were rational about it, this camera is a bit of a ripoff. But for those who want it, there is nothing better.

Grab the Canon 5D Mark III for $2,699, will expire tomorrow 12/21/2013.