Last week was a very busy week for us at Photography Life, since we participated in the PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York and took part in a number of activities related to the event. This was the first time that I took part in a photography event of this magnitude and it was quite an overwhelming experience. My good friend and our team member Tom Redd was able to join me and we both flew from Denver to New York to take part in a four day conference. In this article, I will go over some of the highlights of the event and talk about the upcoming products and some hands-on information, accompanied by photos. I was planning to cover the event at the conference on a daily basis, but I was not able to do it due to my hectic schedule. In summary, it was a great event that will hopefully benefit our site greatly going forward (more on that later).
An important note: the contest is open for US residents only.
Entering photography contests is one of the best ways to test yourself as a photographer. It is one thing when your family and friends admire your work, but gaining appreciation in a contest is a whole different experience. Photography is meant to be looked at and admired, and what better ways are there to start showcasing your work if not by entering a photography competition? Luckily, there are always ongoing contests that you can enter. The one I am going to introduce to you now is free, sponsored by Nikon (users of any camera system may enter) and called Inspirations Photo Contest (thanks for the tip, Rick!).
The contest has started a while ago, in September. This means that one of the categories – Sports & Action – has already been closed, which is unfortunate. But three other categories are still open for entries and, something you might certainly want to know, promise great prizes for the winning entrant.
1) Don’t Focus on the Prize!
Naturally, before I begin listing the categories, deadlines and rules, I would not be a proper motivator if I did not say that prizes don’t matter. And at this point you could say – of course they do! I mean, who would not want to win a Nikkor AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR lens? Anyone would! But I promise you, if you win this contest, the first thing that you will be happy about is that you won a big photography contest organized by Nikon. The first thing you will think is – “Alright, I might be better at this than I thought. Great!” The prize is just icing on the cake. If you think it is the other way around for you, you may be spending a little bit too much time focusing on the gear, friend.
It has been a little over a year since Sony announced world’s first fixed lens 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony RX1. Shortly after, Sony released another version of the same camera without an anti-aliasing filter and gave it a slightly different name – Sony RX1R, similar to what Nikon did with the D800 and the D800E. And with Sony’s hard push on the NEX-series cameras, we thought that it was a matter of time until Sony announces a full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera system. Back in 2012, we predicted that Sony would release a full-frame camera in 2013 and it seems like our predictions were indeed true. Today is a very exciting day for the world of photography, because Sony has just announced world’s first full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with autofocus capabilities. Sony is shaking up the industry once again with a breakthrough product that will lead the way for others in the future. Some might say that this is the beginning of the end of DSLRs. Read on to see what we think.
How would you like the future, if a lens like the Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 VR weighed a kilo / couple of pounds and cost 10 times less? Or perhaps a wide angle lens as big as a pancake that delivers the same quality images as your favorite 24mm f/1.4 prime? Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, we might not be that far away from this dream, since the researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Siegen might change the way modern optics work. Their current research on using a single lens element in a lens and correcting lens aberrations looks promising – a method called “deconvolution”, which is based on analysis and reconstruction of the image via software. Instead of using physical elements within a lens to correct for lens aberrations such as distortion, spherical aberration, chromatic aberration and coma, the idea is to use a lens with a single (or more) lens elements and correct such aberrations via computational photography techniques and software algorithms that are applied after the image is captured. This obviously results in lenses with very few lens elements, making them both lighter and cheaper to manufacture.
Today at Photoshop World conference in Las Vegas, Adobe announced a new packaged bundle tailored specifically for Photographers. It consists of the Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5, Behance ProSite and 20 GB of cloud storage – all for $9.99 per month. There are two conditions with this deal: you have to sign up before December 31, 2013 and you must currently own CS3 or a newer version of Photoshop. Many photographers complained about Adobe’s decision to move the Creative Suite platform to the cloud and their new subscription-based pricing model. We wrote a number of articles criticizing Adobe’s decision and talked about the pitfalls of going to the cloud, including the high monthly costs.
Previously, Adobe’s pricing model was to charge $20 per software application, or $50 for everything. So if you wanted to subscribe to Lightroom and Photoshop (which are the two most used applications among photographers), you had have to pay $40 per month. Starting from September 17, 2013, which is the projected launch date for Lightroom 5.2, you will be able to get both software packages, along with some other extras at quarter of the price. Adobe has already discounted Creative Cloud pricing before and it is doing it in a much more aggressive manner again.
Today, Sony has made quite a bold announcement. It was hardly unexpected – rumors about QX10 and QX100 have been floating around the internet for a while now. And yet these rumors hardly undermine the strangeness of these products. Because you see, QX10 and QX100 are cameras that attach to your smartphone. The camera modules are controlled via WiFi connectivity or NFC and use the screen of the smartphone itself (via dedicated app). Both camera modules look much like point-and-shoot camera lenses that were cut off from the rest of the camera body. They feature their own batteries and memory card, and, most interestingly, sensors.
Generally, we try as much as possible not to re-publish stuff and provide our readers with original content. It does mean a lot of work needs to be done to write thorough articles and it takes equally as much time. But in the end, it proves to be more rewarding as well. However, every now and then we find something so spectacular, not sharing it with our readers would be a crime. The amazing century-old color photographs fell into that category. And so does Framed Network’s project.
Along with the two new lenses and a black version of the E 50mm f/1.8 OSS, Sony has also introduced two new mirrorless cameras. One of them might make it to our list of new old products, as the NEX-5T adds very little over its predecessor and is more of a mild refresh than a new model. At this point, I would be slightly annoyed at Sony for reasons already discussed, but the second camera might just attract enough attention for NEX-5T barely to be noticed at all. In a strange and bold move, Sony has introduced the A3000 – a mirrorless camera with Sony E mount that looks like a DSLR.
Sony has just announced two impressive new zoom lenses for its NEX cameras and a black version of its current Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 lens. The first of the two lenses is a Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 OSS designed by Zeiss. The second zoom lens has an even more impressive focal length range of 18-105mm whilst also sticking to f/4 aperture throughout and being optically stabilized. Both new lenses instantly make Sony NEX compact system cameras that much more attractive to serious amateurs and enthusiasts.
1) Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 OSS Lens Overview
The new Zeiss lens is designed for APS-C sensor cameras and features a 24-105mm full-frame equivalent focal length. This is the first lens in this class for APS-C cameras that also has a constant f/4 aperture throughout the zoom range. And you know what? Finally. Much older APS-C DSLR systems lack important lenses with similar parameters, not to mention a number of primes. Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 VR DX instantly springs to mind – it is very capable, but the slow variable aperture leaves something to be desired. The addition of the Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 OSS lens makes the whole NEX system quite a bit more inviting to serious photographers unwilling to sacrifice versatility and quality over small size. If Sony keeps up with such serious lenses, it is well on its way to providing both.
As you would expect from Zeiss, 16-70mm f/4 OSS has lens coatings to minimize flare and aspherical and ED glass elements. Lens barrel is, traditionally, made of metal and should feel very solid.
In addition to the Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G DX ED VR lens, Nikon also announced a brand new speedlight – the Nikon SB-300. Before the SB-300, the lowest-end flash unit in Nikon’s line was the SB-400. Since the SB-400 is a straight flash with limited flexibility to tilt the head (only straight upwards, no side to side movement), I never recommended it to anyone, even beginner photographers with entry-level DSLRs. Unfortunately, the price gap between the SB-400 and higher end speedlights like SB-600/SB-700 was too big for many beginner photographers, so I would often recommend third party flash units. Does the SB-300 change the game?