It is always interesting to see new manufacturers emerge. Mostly because the only way they can actually make an impact on a highly competitive market such as that of digital cameras and lenses, is by producing something truly innovative and new. They need to surprise the market. Break a few rules. HandeVision, a new lens brand that is a result of German and Chinese collaboration, aims to do just that by introducing a 40mm lens with the fastest aperture of f/0.85 for mirrorless cameras.
Along with the highly anticipated Nikon Df camera, Nikon has also introduced the restyled Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens. Such a move might be slightly confusing at first, because Nikon already has a new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens in its line-up. So, are there any improvements with this new lens? In short – no. At least not from the optical performance stand-point.
During the last few years, the interchangeable lens camera industry has seen massive changes. If only a few years ago, a DSLR was considered to be the only serious photographic tool (not counting film cameras), we now have mirrorless cameras that are no less impressive. They’ve already stolen quite a few APS-C sensor DSLR sales. The full-frame market, on the other hand, has seen a huge increase in offerings. It would seem only yesterday when Nikon had three distinctly different full-frame cameras in its lineup – the D700, D3 and D3x. Now, if you count D800 and D800E as separate models, it has five. The newest sibling has been announced, one surrounded with so much hype and hope, you can only ask – what took Nikon so long? But let’s not dwell on the past, because the digital FM2 – or something as close to it as you might have hoped – is finally here. And just look at it. It has dials, and lots of them!
1) Nikon Df Key Specifications
Before we get all excited, let’s take a quick look at Nikon Df key specifications:
- Solid, magnesium-alloy construction with weather-sealing
- 16.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as the one in Nikon D4)
- ISO sensitivity range of 100-12,800 (boost down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800)
- Shutter speed range of 30-1/4000s, flash sync-speed 1/200s
- 39-point AF system (same as the one in Nikon D610), 9 cross-type sensors, focuses down to f/8
- 2016-pixel RGB image sensor, full non-AI-S lens metering
- EXPEED 3 processor
- Large 3.2″ LCD screen with 921,000 dot resolution
- Pentaprism optical viewfinder with 100% coverage and approximately 0.7x magnification
- SD card slot
- Maximum continuous shooting speed up to 5.5 frames per second
- Measures in at 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
- Weighs 760g with battery and memory card
- $2749 body-only, $2999 with the new Special Edition AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens
A few days ago, Sigma introduced a new lens to its Art line-up, the 24-105mm f/4 OS. The lens is set to compete directly with Nikon’s Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR and Canon’s 24-105mm f/4L IS lenses spec-wise, but the price was yet unannounced. Previously, Sigma lenses always offered a very good price/performance ratio, but after the success of its recent offerings some might have started to suspect that price increase is soon to follow. Luckily, the new 24-105mm f/4 OS lens is no different from previous Sigma products in terms of price when compared to direct “first-party” competition from camera manufacturers and will retail for around $899. Shipping starts in November.
1) Pre-Order Links
Click one of the following links to pre-order the new Sigma lens for Canon, Nikon, Sigma or Sony mount:
- Click here to pre-order Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HMS lens for $899 from B&H (Canon EF)
- Click here to pre-order Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HMS lens for $899 from B&H (Nikon F)
- Click here to pre-order Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HMS lens for $899 from B&H (Sigma SA)
- Click here to pre-order Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HMS lens for $899 from B&H (Sony Alpha)
It has been a very busy week for us here at Photography Life with so many new products announced and launched by several major camera and lens manufacturers. The marathon of announcement articles is coming to an end and the last (hopefully) camera that we need to mention is the new m4/3 sensor mirrorless Panasonic Lumix GM1. But, by all means, it is not the least interesting product to come out this week. In fact, the GM1 is rather special. Let me start by saying this – it is tiny.
1) A Few Thoughts on (Micro) Four-Thirds System
Before Olympus mirrorless took entry-level DSLR market by storm, the 4/3 format didn’t really make all that much sense. With a sensor smaller than APS-C, it was distinctly amateurish. Image quality just wasn’t there, either, and the 4:3 aspect ratio, while a classic, was only shared by compact cameras. However, Olympus insisted on putting such a small sensor into rather large DSLR camera bodies, such as the Olympus E-5. A sensor four times smaller than full-frame in a comparable body? Four-thirds was always supposed to be minuscule – win in size where it lost in performance. That was the only real advantage it could exploit and for a long time Olympus made the mistake of trying to keep its DSLR system alive (which, incidentally, had a very loyal group of users). I still remember how they promised four-thirds would continue to exist when they introduced the E-5 in 2010. Make no mistake. Olympus DSLRs are done for. The only way they are going to “live on” is “spiritually” through micro four-thirds system and cameras like O-MD E-M1 that can use original four-thirds Zuiko lenses effectively.
Of all third-party lens manufacturers, Korean Samyang was the first to launch a new lens lineup for the recently announced Sony A7 and A7R full-frame cameras. There are five of them – as many as Sony announced themselves, but unlike the Zeiss lenses these were not specifically designed for mirrorless cameras. Rather, they are tweaked Samyang prime lenses designed for the most popular DSLR systems and are also known as Bower, Rokinon, Vivitar and Pro-Optic.
The plus is these lenses will be available very soon. On the downside, they are no different in size or weight to their DSLR counterparts, and possibly even bigger because, essentially, they have lens mount adapters attached permanently.
Of all the announcements made recently by various manufacturers, including Sony’s groundbreaking step into full-frame mirrorless territory, we at Photography Life are most excited by Fujifilm’s news. Ever since the launch of X100, Fuji has been slowly winning over our hearts. Both with cameras themselves and the determination to improve their products and add features even after release impressed not only our team, but thousands of photographers worldwide. Don’t get me wrong, other manufacturers offer technologically brilliant alternatives and with the full-frame Sony A7 costing just $1700, the replacement for X-Pro1 will face tougher competition than before. Yet Fujifilm cameras, as we’ve written in our reviews, have something about them that makes you want to photograph all the time. The combination of drop-dead gorgeous looks, amazing prime lens selection, innovative hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, analogue controls and quirks has, no doubt, made the Fujifilm X-series camera system one of the most charismatic on the market today. Fujifilm is not about to sleep on its laurels and is quick on learning from old mistakes. The X100s that we reviewed recently is a clear proof, and the newly introduced, highly-anticipated X-E2 promises to be at least as tempting. Read on to find out what has been improved.
1) Overview and Key Specifications
The new Fujifilm X-E2 is not all that different from its predecessor, but the changes that did take place promise to make it that much more desirable. To start with, it shares virtually the exact same body as the Fuji X-E1, made of high quality plastic and magnesium alloy covers. It is smaller and lighter than top-of-the-line Fuji X-Pro1, but even with Fuji’s smallest lens attached – the XF 27mm f/2.8 – it is not as compact as the X100S. Not far off, though, and certainly much more pocketable than a DSLR. A very welcome addition is the larger, sharper LCD screen on the back of the camera to complement that 2.36 million dot OLED EVF also used in the X-E1. Having a large and super-sharp LCD is not an essential feature – at least for us it did not make the X-E1 less attractive. After-all, it is hardly a good way to sort through images. But having such a screen isn’t going to make a camera worse either, so we are happy it is now up there with the best. Oh, and the OLED EVF has gotten faster! The refresh rate has been changed from 20 fps to 50+ fps in low light situations, making it even easier to photograph without motion blur.
Along with the highly-anticipated Fujifilm X-E2 interchangeable lens camera, Fuji has also announced a successor to the stylish X-F1 compact point-and-shoot. The new XQ1 builds on the tested formula for a high-end compact camera – a large (in comparison to lower-end compact cameras) sensor, solid build quality, fast zoom lens and diminutive size. Do anything less and the crowded market will literally swamp such a camera with other offerings from all sides, smartphones among them. Thankfully, Fujifilm seems to have made all the right choices with the XQ1. Let’s take a closer look at what it has to offer.
1) Overview and Key Specifications
As the XF1 before it, the new XQ1 compact camera has a 2/3″ sized sensor with 12 megapixels. Unlike its predecessor, though, XQ1 sports an X-Trans II sensor with a different color filter array when compared to traditional Bayer sensors. What this means, at least in theory, is that XQ1 can do without AA filter and thus capture a little bit more detail. X-Trans sensors used in other Fujifilm cameras, namely the mirrorless system and X20/X100s compacts, also proved to be very capable in handling high ISO noise. Fujifilm XQ1 has ISO range of 100-12800, but don’t expect it to shine at highest sensitivities if you are used to APS-C or full-frame sensor level of performance. The new X-Trans sensor also supports phase-detect autofocus and the claimed AF speed is very fast – a mere 0.06s. I believe it is safe to assume XQ1 has the potential of delivering higher technical image quality over its predecessor, even if not by all that much.
This week is quite busy, with so many great products being introduced by different brands including Sony, Sigma and Fuji (an announcement to be posted tomorrow). Nikon is also announcing a couple of products before the Photo Plus convention in New York (which I am planning to attend and fully cover). The first announcement is for the Nikon D5300, an upper entry-level DSLR aimed for beginners and amateurs. It has been only a year since Nikon refreshed the line with the D5200 and now the camera is updated again with some new interesting features and improvements to make the line more compelling compared to the competition.
The Nikon D5300 ships with exactly the same sensor as the one on the Nikon D7100 (see our review), without an anti-aliasing filter. With a number of the current Nikkor DX lenses struggling to resolve a lot of detail to fully take advantage of high resolution APS-C sensors, looks like Nikon’s strategy is not to include AA filters in all future models. While removing such a filter will certainly yield slightly sharper images, moire can potentially become an issue when photographing fine patterns, textures and fabric.
Updated with pre-order links, prices yet unavailable
Sigma has no intention on stopping with its highly regarded 35mm f/1.4 and 18-35mm f/1.8 lenses. Today, the Japanese manufacturer has announced a new addition to its “Art” lens line-up – the full-frame compatible 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM lens set to compete directly with Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS and Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 VR lenses.