For those who have pre-ordered the Nikon D7100, B&H is now shipping D7100 units from their store as of today. I am being told that orders are getting fulfilled and so far the stock looks good. Looks like Nikon did a much better job with availability with the D7100 compared to the D800. At the same time, Nikon has announced a $100 instant rebate on the Nikon D7100 + 18-105mm lens kit. This goes on top of the existing instant rebates on Nikon lenses that were extended till the end of March.
I have received a number of emails from our readers that were not able to purchase Nikon lenses on time, before the rebate program ended. Thankfully, looks like the rebate program deadline was too short, so Nikon decided to extend it further until March 30, 2013. Since March 31 is Nikon’s financial year end, the goal is obviously to continue to push lens sales as much as possible. I seriously doubt that this specific lens rebate program will be available later this year. Unless Nikon is in serious financial trouble, rebate programs will probably only include DSLR + lens discounts like we have seen in the past.
Once again, if you are wondering about which lenses I personally recommend, see my previous article on the rebate program.
We were most surprised by the launch of Nikkor 80-400mm lens, but surprised in a very good way. The first thought I had was – “Finally!” And not just because it’s a long awaited lens, but because it was a lens in the first place and not yet another mildly refreshed camera. I admit that, at first, I didn’t really pay much attention to other products Nikon announced. Perhaps I should have (let me tell you a secret – I’m just trying not to be judgmental in advance). Say hello to Nikon’s first APS-C compact camera, the Coolpix A.
Nikon is, obviously, not exactly the first to launch a compact camera with such a large sensor. Sigma have their DP1 with slightly smaller sensors, Leica has its luxurious X1 and X2 and Sony had a go with a full-frame RX-1. And then, of course, there’s the equally loved as it is hated, Fujifilm with X100 and, more recently, X100s. In other words, Coolpix A has no room for mistakes if it is to beat all that competition led by Fujifilm’s excellent cameras. So what exactly does the Nikon offer? Well, it kicks off with a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor with ISO range of 100-6400 and 1080p Full HD video. Judging by the specs, it is likely the same unit used in Nikon D7000 camera, as well as some Sony SLT and Pentax cameras. Now, if D7000 is of any indication, that sensor is amazing. It may be several years old and, today, at the lower resolution scale of current sensors of this size, but great high ISO performance and dynamic range are a given. More than that, let’s be fair, 16 megapixels is more than enough for most situations, especially in a compact camera you’re unlikely to use for work that requires large printing. The biggest plus point Coolpix A offers, however, is it’s minuscule size. Measuring 111x64x40mm, it’s not that much bigger than other higher-end compacts, and much smaller than Fujifilm X100s. Take a look at this comparison at CameraSize.com – it really is tiny!
Adobe has made their almost-finished versions of Lightroom 4.4 and Camera RAW 7.4 available for download. These Release Candidates (RC) have been thoroughly tested, but are subject to improvement over the next few months before final versions are available. So far, Lightroom 4.4 RC is a free download for all current Lightroom 4 customers and will expire by 31st of May. Adobe Camera RAW 7.4 RC will expire on 30th of April. Why are these RC updates important? Well, first of all because of the added support for newest camera models:
- Canon EOS-1D C
- Casio Exilim EX-ZR700
- Fujifilm X100S
- Fujifilm X20
- Hasselblad Lunar
- Leica M
- Nikon 1 J3
- Nikon 1 S1
- Pentax MX1
Now, you may notice the rather peculiar addition of Hasselblad Lunar mirrorless camera which is said to be based on NEX-7, but with a full-frame sensor. There is a reason why I chose words “said to be”, because the camera is yet unfinished and thus unavailable. A rare feat making software support available before the actual camera is even officially announced.
New lens profiles are also present:
- Canon 24-70 f/4L IS
- Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO HSM for Sony and Pentax
- Sigma APO MACRO 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM for Sony
- Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM for Canon, Sigma and Nikon
- Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM for Canon and Sigma
There is a possibility that new cameras and lenses in addition to the ones mentioned above will be supported when final versions are released.
Previous Sony SLT-A58 and NEX-3N announcement may not have been all that exciting for the majority of current Sony users, but new and updated lenses usually make a more interesting topic. After all, cameras come and go. As of late, they seem to come and go rather too often – almost as if manufacturers decided to race each other and see who can push more “new” cameras into the market in the shortest amount of time. But good lenses, they tend to stay a while longer. Fine as your camera may be, it doesn’t exactly change the way you photograph all that much, be it a new D7100 or an older D7000, while a new lens – often and quite understandably – can make a much more worthwhile addition to your camera bag. Sony has made sure at least two of the three new lenses are of that kind. Let’s start with the smaller one.
1) Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 Lens
If there was ever a serious reason why I considered Sony DSLRs (namely, the Alpha A850 model), it’s Carl Zeiss lenses. Don’t get me wrong – Nikkor and Canon L lenses can be just as good and, perhaps, even superior. There’s more of them. More choice. Broader second-hand market. But somehow I always admired the legendary German manufacturer. There isn’t any real reason I can base my preference on – it’s neither sharpness nor price. But the few Carl Zeiss lenses Sony did have on offer were, in my opinion and experience, spectacular – the 85mm f/1.4 and 135mm f/1.8 most of all. Now, a new prime joins their ranks, and it’s a standard 50mm f/1.4 class lens. For around $1500.
Following Nikon’s announcement of the D7100 DSLR, Sony introduced a new SLT camera, called A58, along with their newest entry-level mirrorless offering, NEX-3N. As before, Sony is pushing a lot of innovative, consumer-friendly features into both cameras to attract customers. Not having all that much pedigree as a camera maker (at least when it comes to DSLR or, in their case, DSLT), features and numbers is their surest way of shifting attention of a potential buyer away from better-known camera manufacturers, such as Canon, Nikon and, perhaps, even Pentax.
1) Sony SLT-A58
The new SLT-A58 is a replacement for two older Sony cameras, A37 and A57, which is a good thing – I’ve always found they had too many models not that different in their positioning. Luckily for current Sony users and temptingly for potential new ones, however, the camera fitted with the usual 18-55mm kit lens will cost around $600, which is on par with Nikon’s lowest-end D3200 camera (while on $100 rebate program). Mind you, on paper, SLT-A58 is no slouch against its competitors.
Today, Nikon has released a Service Advisory on Nikon D600 sensor dust issue. As you may very well know, the camera has been plagued by sensor dust accumulation problems ever since its release, which caused a lot of doubt among potential buyers. Finally, Nikon realizes the problem is very real and of concern to many. Here are separate links for US and EU customers:
Why is their acknowledgement so important? At times, new cameras may exhibit certain defects or issues when launched. Some are rather minor and easy to fix, like the Canon 5D Mark III light-leak issue, while others may be more persistent and annoying, or even render cameras unusable. It is difficult to expect everything to go perfect every time, to be completely fair. Yet recently, Nikon seemed to have gotten a lot worse at avoiding manufacturing defects.
Nikon has been promoting its lenses with rebate programs for a while now, but all of those rebates required purchasing a DSLR to qualify. Since many of us already own DSLR cameras, those incentives were not very useful, as we could not take advantage of those offers (myself included). Starting from midnight tonight, February 17, Nikon is launching a lens rebate program that does not require purchasing of a camera body. This lens rebate is one of the largest I have seen, with savings up to $350 on select Nikkor lenses. Participating lenses include everything from the budget 50mm f/1.8G lens to professional glass like 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II. The rebate program ends on March 2, 2013.
Imagine that instead of setting up for weeks’ worth of fashion photography, complete with models, hundreds of outfits, hair stylists, and makeup artists, you create a virtual catalogue based on computer generated models, photos of body parts, and photographs of clothing items and accessories that customers can interact with. No glamorous models. No famous photographers. No make-up artists. No hair stylists. No expensive studios. Sound surreal? It is already a reality – a virtual one – but a reality nonetheless. Looklet is a company that has developed and delivered the technology that makes this scenario possible.
Technology – A Walk Back In Time
Ever since my days of working in an engineering software company, I have been keenly interested in seeing how fast CAD and imaging innovations would develop and how far they would progress. First came 2D wireframe modeling, which rapidly progressed to 3D surface and solid models. Eventually, integrated CAD modeling software enabled mechanical engineers to provide detailed “walk throughs” of ships, buildings, and car designs. The process of “rendering” further enabled engineers to create much more realistic looks for their designs. The associated rendering software, which blended realistic surfaces, textures, shading, and light reflections on the engineering models, required very expensive computer software and servers – often costing upwards of $150,000 or more. The rendering process could easily take a few days before the software completed its magic. And while impressive in their day, the resultant animated “walk throughs” of the objects could be rather slow and amateurish compared to the simplest of today’s video games.
Along with X100S, Fujifilm has also announced a new high-end compact camera. Replacing the very popular and attractively styled in recent Fujifilm X-series fashion, Fujifilm X10, the new camera retains all of predecessors’ strengths and gains a few more. With what X20 has to offer, it should end up as a very nice little camera for those who want a camera for simple occasions but with the usual flexibility of higher-end gear.
Fujifilm X20 fits nicely into category first started with the Canon G series. It is a compact camera for advanced photographers. The things that make it different from ordinary point-and-shoot cameras is the amount of manual control available, high build quality, larger-than-average sensor for better performance as well as a bright, sharp, 28-112mm equivalent zoom lens with an aperture of f/2-2.8. X10 shared all of these features, but the new X20 further improves the camera’s capabilities. A new X-Trans sensor is present, which uses the same technology as larger sensors found in Fuji’s X-Pro1, X-E1 and X100S cameras. Employing a different, more random color filter pattern that traditional Bayer sensors, this one goes away without needing a low-pass filter, which results in better image sharpness. The new sensor has 12 megapixels, is 2/3 inch in size and is aided by a more powerful image processor.
Just as with X100S, the new sensor and processor are both dubbed “II”. X-Trans again contains phase-detect AF system in addition to the previous contrast-detect AF. As a result, hybrid AF should provide quicker and more reliable focus acquisition. But that is theory, of course. Canon M, which we reviewed very recently, also incorporates hybrid AF system, but its performance is disturbingly poor. We are yet to see how Fujifilm X100S and X20 stack up.