The Question of 18-300mm Lenses

Today, Nikon has announced a new DX zoom lens for beginner photographers. Covering a vast focal length range of 18-300mm, it’s not the first Nikkor with such parameters – the similar 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens has already been announced a while ago, not to mention all the third-party competition from Tamron and Sigma. However, the new lens is designed not to just deliver a very wide zoom range, but deliver it in a smaller, lighter package. To put it into perspective, the new lens weighs a whopping 280g less than the bigger version. Quite an achievement and will surely be tempting for those few who need such a lens, but it came at a bit of a price both literally and figuratively. And that raises a question – who is actually going to need such a lens?

Nikkor 18-300mm f3.5-5.6G VR DX

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Sony A7s Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Announcement

Looks like Sony is doing all it can to push the growth of its full-frame compact camera system. On the 6th of April, 2014, the Japanese electronics giant has announced a new addition to its A7 camera line-up – the new A7s has joined the previously launched A7 and A7r. The difference between the original models was very straightforward – A7 was the cheaper one and had lower-resolution sensor (a still-plentiful 24 megapixels), whilst the A7r was the more expensive sibling (but not expensive per se when it comes to digital full-frame cameras) and featured a 36 megapixel sensor similar to that found in the Nikon D800. Both cameras, while very similar from the outside, are clearly distinctive enough on the inside. So what exactly makes the A7s stand out? Well, if the “r” in A7r’s name stood for “resolution”, the “s” in the latest camera’s title stands for “sensitivity”. The biggest party piece A7s has is its sensor and 4k video capability.

Sony A7s

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Google Drive Price Drop – A Tipping Point For Photographers

Although cloud storage prices have been continued to drop at impressive rates, they have remained out of reach for many serious amateurs and professional photographers who have accumulated years’ worth of image files. This has been particularly true for the purists among us who religiously shoot RAW and tend to create huge multi-layer Photoshop files. Improvements in DSLR sensor technology have also pushed file sizes upwards as well, with the majority of DSLRs now capable of producing 16MP to 36MP images.

I have always considered a cost effective rate for 1TB to be the juncture at which serious amateurs and professional photographers would consider backing-up their photo archives to the cloud. Google’s dramatic cloud storage price drop this week has finally reached this tipping point. As of today, storing 1TB of image files on Google Drive will cost $9.99/month. This is a huge announcement that will ripple across the photography community and cause many people to change their back-up strategy.

GoogleDrivePricing

1) The Economics of Google Drive

$120/year (rounded) for storing 1TB of your images in the cloud may sound a bit expensive compared to a one-time purchase of a 1TB back-up drive for $70-$100. But you have to consider that one good flood, fire, hurricane, burglary, or power surge may wipe out both your primary and secondary drives. As I write this, I am staring at 5 external hard drives on my desktop. While hard drive technology has been getting more reliable over the years, I have found that on average, I have one hard drive go bad per year. And although my stepsons have a great time destroying the defunct drives with sledge hammers, I rarely look forward to restoring back-ups, buying additional drives, and other related challenges that can chew up quite a bit of time.

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Nikon D4s DSLR Announcement

Although the Nikon D4s has already appeared at CES and other events earlier this year, Nikon did not provide official information, pictures, specifications or pricing for the camera until now. Today, the top-of-the-line Nikon D4s is finally released and we have the full details on the camera that we are happily sharing with our readers. Similar to the Nikon D3s, the D4s is an incremental update to the D4 with better low-light performance, bigger buffer, faster frames per second and other improvements highlighted below.

Nikon D4s

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Hasselblad HV Announcement

I was wrong – Hasselblad seems to be determined to continue its partnership with Sony in ways we find somewhat…questionable. They have recently announced their third rebranded Sony camera, the Hasselblad HV. This time it is not based on Sony’s mirrorless system, however, but is built around their flagship DSLR/SLT camera, the A99. As with Hasselblad Lunar, which we failed to understand, the changes are purely cosmetic – the sensor and all other internal bits are exactly the same between the two. And, as with Lunar, the new HV carries a premium price tag of, wait for it, around $11,500 for the camera body with the Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Interested?

Hasselblad HV_Front

Overview and Key Specifications

Let’s now forget about the price for a little bit and run through the official specs derived from Sony’s website. At the heart of the camera there is a 24.3 megapixel full-frame sensor courtesy of Sony. It is exactly the same as in the SLT-A99, Sony A7 and the RX1, and very similar to that found in the Nikon D600/D610 cameras. This sensor is among the best full-frame units in the industry, so high image quality is a given with the new Hasselblad HV. What is important to mention is that, much like the rest of Sony’s current SLT camera range, the HV is not actually a DSLR. Instead of a traditional DSLR mirror mechanism from manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon, the camera features a translucent mirror (also known as pellicle mirror). Which means part of the light coming through the lens is reflected towards the phase-detect AF module, but the bigger part goes straight through towards the sensor whilst the mirror remains static during exposure. This also means there is no optical viewfinder – an EVF is used instead. The OLED EVF is, no doubt, one of the best units in the industry and is as sharp as you would hope it to be with 2,360k dots. The magnification is 0.71x, so it is not as big as newest EVF cameras, such as the Fujifilm X-T1, but still pretty impressive in its own right.

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Announcement

Thanks to the rise of the mirrorless camera market, manufacturers are now creating more and more segments in their camera lines. With the introduction of the X-T1, Fujifilm now boasts a total of 5 different cameras, all targeted at different segments. Today Olympus also extended its line of mirrorless cameras by introducing the new Olympus OM-D E-M10, a budget version of the OM-D premium mirrorless cameras. Next to the OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5, this is now the third premium camera designed to appeal the enthusiast crowd. It borrows most of its guts from its bigger brother, the OM-D E-M5, but in a smaller and lighter package. Priced at $699 MSRP, it is significantly cheaper than other OM-D series cameras. In a way, it is a confusing release, because it is even cheaper than the PEN E-P5 (currently at $799). Since all PEN series do not come with a built-in electronic viewfinder or weather sealing options, they are technically inferior to OM-D series. Now with the the OM-D E-M10, it is hard to say exactly what market this camera is targeted for, with its features and price range in comparison. Let’s take a look at the camera in more detail.

Olympus OM-D E-M10

Key Specifications and Overview

While the Olympus OM-D E-M10 has a 16 MP sensor, it is slightly different than the one used on the OM-D E-M5. First, it has a little less resolution (16.1 MP vs 16.3 MP) and second, it features boosted ISO 100 (Low), similar to what the E-M1 does. Its image processor is the same one as used on the E-M1 (TruePic VII with Fine Detail Processing II). The first major difference between the E-M10 and its bigger siblings is the somewhat limited in-body stabilization. Both E-M1 and E-M5 have 5-axis image stabilization, while the E-M10 has 3-axis stabilization. Another difference is the slower speed of 8 fps in single mode and 3.5 fps in continuous mode (the E-M5 is 9 fps / 4.2 fps and the E-M1 is 10 fps / 6.5 fps). Shutter speed is limited to 1/4000 and the viewfinder is the same 1.4 million dot EVF found on the E-M5. The LCD screen has not changed, it is still a high resolution 3.0″ tilting one.

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Fujifilm X-T1 Announcement

The Internet has been buzzing with details about the new Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera, yet we are still excited to see it officially unveiled. Slotting between the flagship X-Pro1 (see our review) and the capable X-E2 (see our review), the new model takes a formerly vacant spot in the line-up of attractively designed, innovative cameras from the Japanese manufacturer. But it is not just the price tag of $1,299 that differentiates the X-T1 from its siblings. Its design and ergonomics also hint at, possibly, new priorities.

Fujifilm X-T1 Front

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Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art Lens Announcement

We sort of missed the new Sigma 50mm lens in the sea of recent announcements. And we should not have. Because, despite that, like its predecessor, it is very heavy by 50mm f/1.4 class standards and very big, this is not an old lens in a new frock. The Sigma 50m f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens is a completely new and very complex design. Worth your attention? Perhaps, if you are into the classic fifty. And, if recent Sigma lenses are of any indication (Nasim adored the 35mm f/1.4 Art), it should be extremely good.

Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

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The Fujifilm X100S Black

Fujifilm X100s is among the best digital compact cameras for street and candid photography. The useful focal length of 35mm (full-frame equivalent) provides ample versatility in all kinds of environments, aided by the relatively fast aperture of f/2. Despite such commendable specifications, the lens is also very small and makes the whole package appear non-threatening and easy to carry around for long periods. Couple that lens to a large (for a compact camera) APS-C X-Trans sensor and you will soon find that Fujifilm X100s is definitely capable of some very high-quality results, as seen in our review of the camera. What’s at least as important as the camera’s portability is its quietness. Using the camera is basically a silent endeavor courtesy of that whisper-quiet leaf shutter – almost like an electronic shutter, but without the disadvantages. On top of that, what was previously a slow autofocus system (of the original X100) has now been significantly improved for the latest X100s.

Fujifilm X100s Black

The design plays a big part in the camera’s appeal for street photography, too – it is not instantly recognized as a digital camera by most people and, as such, does not raise negative reactions as often, but rather curiosity. Loads of strong points, then. But if there was a slight niggle some of the street photographers had with the X100s, it is that the camera did not come in all-black. Rejoice, because it does now.

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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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