With most Photokina announcements behind us, it is a good time to look back and overview some of the new products we have not yet covered, namely Leica. As I expected, the new Leica M Edition 60 spawned quite a lot of differing opinions. But it’s not the only camera the legendary German manufacturer has brought to our attention and, whilst none are cheap, the other products are considerably more affordable. There’s the film Leica M-A, a new Summicron-S 100mm f/2 lens for the medium format S system and a few smaller format digital Leica models. Let’s glance through them in more detail.
As our readers know, we love Think Tank products. We have reviewed a number of their bags and cases and have highly praised them for their durability, quality and features (to see a list of our in-depth Think Tank product reviews, please check out this page), so when we found out that Think Tank is adding even more great additions to their existing line of strong products, we got very excited. Previously, the biggest rolling gear bag was the Logistics Manager 30, which can fit a lot of gear for a working pro. And now Think Tank added even a bigger bag, the Think Tank Production Manager 40, which is specifically designed for transporting professional lighting equipment. It is spacious enough to fit a large amount of lighting gear such as flash heads, power packs, monoblocks, softboxes and light stands. And just like other Think Tank rolling bags, we can expect the Production Manager 40 to be of superb quality.
Most modern camera makers have already embraced the fact that, at this day and age, providing a tool just for photography is not enough. A camera needs to do video, and really rather well at that. Connectivity is also a big deal these days with WiFi being the very least that is asked for. Bluetooth is slowly making its way in, too, and many raised eyebrows appear due to the lack of built-in GPS, something that’s been available on the cheapest of smartphones for years now. No manufacturer is brave (or stupid, or both) enough to go back to their purely photographic roots. The boldest move I’ve seen in recent years was the Nikon Df with all the “pure photography” campaign, and all they did was add some more analogue controls and remove video capability which, I am fairly certain, could be added via a simple firmware update. Not that I want to undermine that camera, far from it. Merely say that it is very much a 21st century product packed with features you may or may not use. No manufacturer is brave enough to go back to the very simplest things that are needed to capture an image and nothing else. Not even Fujifilm – under the gorgeous retro skin of X-mount cameras lies the very latest technology.
Wait. I think I may be wrong when I say there is not one such manufacturer. Leica M Edition 60, anyone?
When Samsung announced their first Android-powered mirrorless camera, I was really rather skeptical. The problem lies within the OS itself – its versatility also brings a whole lot of issues. Yet I feared the Korean manufacturer would keep at it, for better or worse. In a surprise move for me personally, they seem to have decided against it with the newly announced flagship of the NX system, the NX1. This is by far the most impressive camera in the NX line-up. It does away without Android, but Samsung still calls it a “smart” camera thanks to all the connectivity options. On paper, it is every bit as capable as the best in the class and then some.
Today Canon announced a highly anticipated update to the sports and wildlife shooter’s camera, the Canon 7D. After over five years of long wait, the new Canon 7D Mark II finally saw the light of day and it is not here to disappoint – Canon crammed quite a bit of power into the camera and made it a speed demon with a very impressive speed of 10 fps. Aside from the speed, the biggest highlight of the 7D Mark II is its impressive autofocus system. Borrowed from the top-of-the-line EOS-1D X, the autofocus system has a whopping 65 autofocus points, all of which are cross-type. Similar to the new Nikon D750, the Canon 7D Mark II also has -3 EV sensitivity, which means that it can focus quite well in low-light situations. To drive 10 fps continuous shooting speed, 65 focus points and 1080p full HD video recording at 60 fps, the 7D Mark II comes with dual DIGIC 6 image processors. Nikon shooters have been waiting for a “Pro DX” camera like this for many years now, so with Canon releasing the 7D Mark II, many of us might be wondering if Nikon will ever respond with a similar camera.
Much like its direct competitor, Tamron is releasing one great lens after another. But if the former Japanese manufacturer started its renaissance with prime lenses, Tamron has been focusing on zooms instead. First, it was the rather great 24-70mm f/2.8 stabilized standard zoom. Then, the equally-great stabilized 150-600mm superzoom. Now, they announced a new professional grade lens, or rather – its development. And, if previous releases are of any indication, there is a good chance the new lens will impress.
Tamron’s new 150-600mm lens created quite a lot of stir. Let’s be honest, it is a cracking lens for its class, and even more so for its price. We covered it in detail in our review. We then covered it again, and again. And… yes, again. And each time, it earned a healthy amount of praise. But someone at Sigma obviously had the same idea, because today they announced not one, but two different 150-600mm lenses. I have a slight feeling they want some of that love their main third party competitor has been receiving lately.
The last announcement from Nikon today was for the new SB-500 speedlight, Nikon’s first speedlight with a built-in LED light. With a guide number of 24m at ISO 100, it is not a very powerful flash unit (the SB-600 is at 30m and the high-end SB-910 is at 34m), but it is quite flexible with the head tilting up to 90° and rotating horizontally 180° to the left and right. In addition, it can be used as a commander or a remote flash unit and it is fully compatible with the Nikon CLS system. At $249.95, it is priced $80 cheaper than the higher-end SB-700. What’s exciting about this unit is not its typical features, but the built-in LED light. With approximately 100 lumens of brightness, the LED light can be used as a small video light or potentially even assist in acquiring focus in low-light situations. The LED light can be operated independently from flash, which means that you could actually detach the SB-500 from the camera and use its LED light exclusively, if needed. I personally welcome this innovation in speedlights and I believe it will be quite useful in some situations.
Together with the D750, Nikon has also announced a brand new full-frame lens, the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED. This lens announcement is really exciting, because it is Nikon’s first 20mm f/1.8 ultra wide-angle lens with impressive specifications and optical design. Not only does the lens feature aspherical elements and Nano coating for reduced aberrations, ghosting and flare, but it also comes with two ED (Extra Dispersion) glass elements that are typically used in expensive, professional lenses for extra clarity and superior sharpness. With a gold ring and a price tag of $799, this lens seems to be of superb value for low-light wide-angle photography. Looking at its wide-open sharpness (more on that below), it seems like the lens could be a great candidate for astrophotography. Let’s take a look at the lens in more detail.
Today Nikon introduced yet another full-frame DSLR, the Nikon D750. Featuring the same 51-point autofocus system as the D810 and the D4S, 24.3 MP sensor, 6.5 FPS of continuous shooting speed, built-in Wi-Fi, advanced movie recording options and a tilting screen, the camera packs quite a bit for its $2,299 MSRP price tag. Placed above the Nikon D610 and below the D810, the D750 has an interesting mix of features from both. On one hand, it has a slightly faster frame rate than the D810, a slightly tweaked focus system and pretty much all the movie recording features of the D810. On the other hand, with the exception of the tilting screen, its ergonomics and body build closely resemble the lower-end D610. So what is this camera and why the D750 name? Is it finally the Nikon D700 successor that many of us have been waiting for? Let’s take a closer look at the camera and talk about what has changed.