The Consumer Electronics Show is taking place in Las Vegas this week, which means lots of announcements of all kinds of gadgets, including cameras and lenses. As usual, we will be picking and covering the most important announcements that are related to the photography industry. One of the biggest news today is the announcement of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G full-frame lens. Ever since the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G DX lens came out back in 2009 (which got wildly popular for Nikon DX cameras thanks to its excellent performance and low price), many Nikon shooters have been asking for a budget version of the lens for full-frame cameras. Although the professional Nikon 35mm f/1.4G is an excellent chunk of glass (see our in-depth review), it is too expensive for many photo enthusiasts and hobbyists. And that’s exactly the gap that the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G is designed to fill. At an MSRP price of $599, the lens is over 2.5x less expensive than its big brother. It is also twice lighter!
The holidays are over, as sad as it may be. And that means it is time to get back to work! We start with some great news. Fujifilm has just announced (or, rather, confirmed, since we knew this lens was coming) the very hot Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens for its popular and desirable X-series compact camera system. For those who wonder, this is a proper, 85mm full-frame equivalent (84mm if you’re being pedantic) portrait lens with correspondingly fast aperture of f/1.2.
1) Overview and Specifications
It is not difficult to understand why such a lens is so important for any camera system, and especially for that which is based around APS-C sized sensors. 85mm f/1.4-1.8 class lenses are considered to be among the best, most versatile prime portrait optics. Not only do they sport a very useful focal length, generally thought to be not too long or too wide for close-up portraits, but the fast aperture also ensures plenty of creative opportunities to take advantage of. Of course, one could always use a 50mm f/1.4 class lens on a crop sensor camera for similar behavior and that is indeed something I have done in the past myself. And yet there was a problem. A 50mm lens acts much like a 75mm lens would on a full-frame camera, which sounds close enough to 85mm. In practice, I found 75mm equivalent to be a little too wide for close-up portraits, which would get distorted. That is why the new Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens will be so appreciated by professional photographers looking for a proper portrait lens. In terms of angle of view, it acts very similarly to how an 85mm lens would when mounted on a DSLR with a 35mm sensor. The maximum aperture of f/1.2 should prove useful in low-light situations, but what is more interesting is that the shallow depth of field capabilities of this lens are similar to an 85mm f/1.8 lens on a full-frame camera. This is the first lens with such parameters for APS-C sensor cameras – Fuji has done something much more experienced digital camera manufacturers have ignored for over a decade now. It is a good thing, and one that is slowly becoming a welcome trend.
Fujifilm has just announced a new addition to its lens lineup – the Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS. Although it came as no surprise thanks to Fujifilm’s official lens roadmap, the lens was still highly awaited, and for good reason. It now offers the widest angle of view of any Fujinon X-mount lens, while still carrying a moderately fast aperture of f/4. In addition to that, it also offers optical image stabilization, which makes it a Fujifilm equivalent to Nikon’s highly regarded AF-S 16-35mm f/4 VR – a lens that helped prove image stabilization is, in quite a few situations, useful even at the widest angles of view.
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.