Just after Fuji announced its first weather-sealed wide angle lens, the XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR last month, the company has announced yet another killer lens to its arsenal, the Fujinon 90mm f/2 R LM WR. With its 135mm equivalent field of view in 35mm and a wide aperture of f/2, the lens is aimed primarily at portrait photographers who love being able to keep their subjects isolated from the background without introducing any kind of distortion to subjects’ faces. Thanks to a pretty complex optical formula comprised of 11 elements (3 of which are of extra-low dispersion / ED type) in 8 groups, a sturdy weather-sealed construction and the new Quad Linear Motor for faster autofocus, the lens will, without a doubt, be a solid performer. And at its $950 MSRP price tag, it will be a great addition for photographers who are already in love with lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2.
Without a doubt, Fuji’s X-T1 has been a huge success for the company and for a good reason – the camera is outstanding in many ways, as I have pointed out in my in-depth review of the camera. I have been a proud owner of the X-T1 for over a year and the camera continues to amaze me, especially after Fuji’s constant firmware refreshes, which make it better each time (and it is supposed to get even better with the upcoming 4.0 firmware). But at its current MSRP price of $1300, the X-T1 is not a cheap camera to own. Which is why Fuji decided to release a smaller brother of the X-T1, the Fuji X-T10. With the same superb 16 MP APS-C X-Trans sensor, 3″ tilting LCD, 8 fps continuous shooting, 2.36 Million dot OLED electronic viewfinder, advanced autofocus system, built-in flash and similarly beautiful design, the X-T10 offers quite a bit for its $800 price tag.
Panasonic has released the Lumix DMC-G7 mid-range mirrorless camera with 4K video and stills recording capability (up to 30 fps). In addition to the improved autofocus performance when compared to its predecessor, the G7 now comes with a higher-resolution OLED viewfinder with 2,360k dots, up to 8 fps shooting speed, built-in WiFi, UHS-II SDXC/SDHC memory card support and a fully articulated high resolution 3″ LCD screen with 1,040k dots. At $799.99 MSRP, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 will be one of the most affordable 4K-capable cameras on the market when it is released in June of this year.
One of the biggest challenges that many photographers face is yielding sharp photos when hand-holding a camera. Many end up with blurry images without understanding the source of the problem, which is usually camera shake. Unfortunately, camera shake can come from a variety of different sources – from basic improper hand-holding techniques to mirror and shutter-induced vibrations that can be truly challenging and sometimes even impossible to deal with. While I will go over the latter topics in a separate article, I would like to talk about the most common cause of camera shake: lower-than-acceptable shutter speed when hand-holding the camera. I will introduce and explain the reciprocal rule, which can help in greatly increasing the chances of getting sharp photos when you do not have a tripod around.
During our recent photo walk in San Francisco, where we had over 30 Photography Life readers join us for some awesome time together, one of the participants noted that a number of photographers who came to the photo walk were carrying tripods. As we were shooting a brightly-lit scene, his question was – why would you even want to bring a tripod to photograph in bright light? He then pointed out the fact that he almost never carries a tripod, that considering how good the performance of digital cameras is today, that a tripod is unnecessary. While I agreed about the fact that modern cameras are certainly very good at handling noise and the fact that I rarely use a tripod in broad daylight myself, I stated that I still carry a tripod with me when I travel and pointed out one specific situation that took place a couple of days earlier, where a tripod made it possible to capture a dynamic scene that I could not have captured otherwise. I asked if the participants had previously seen the below photo of San Francisco, captured from Twin Peaks (which was in my San Francisco at Night post):
I must say that I am beyond impressed with my visit to Jordan this time (I have been in Amman, Jordan once last year, but only for a few days). This place is so historic, so beautiful and so unique! And although I was initially a little concerned about the safety here (after all, Jordan borders with both Syria and Iraq), everywhere I go appears to be really safe and people are quite content overall. I have explored a number of places near Amman and I am planning to visit Petra next week for a day, but after some feedback from our readers, I also really want to visit the beautiful Wadi Rum.
Olympus has announced another addition to its line of high-quality professional lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, which has a field of view equivalent to 14-28mm in 35mm format, sports a pretty complex optical formula, with 14 elements in 11 groups, 10 of which are comprised of special type of glass to reduce various optical aberrations. With its constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, the lens offers superb optical performance even at its widest aperture. In addition to having high-end optics, the lens is engineered to be both dustproof and splashproof. All this does not come cheap though – the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro will retail for $1,299.99 when it starts shipping in June of this year.
Canon has announced an update to its 50mm f/1.8 lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Compared to its 50mm f/1.8 II predecessor, the new 50mm f/1.8 STM integrates a stepper motor for quieter autofocus operation, rounded 7-blade diaphragm, a minimum focus distance of 35cm and a metal mount. Best of all, these changes do not come with a significant price hike – the new 50mm f/1.8 STM is only $129, making it the most affordable Canon EF lens on the market. Due to the change in the mount, the 50mm f/1.8 STM gains 30 grams of weight. Performance-wise, it will be very similar to its predecessor.
Sony unleashed the Sony A7 and the A7R in October of 2013. With the Sony A7 aimed for general use sporting a 24 MP sensor and hybrid autofocus, the A7R differs primarily with its 36 MP sensor, therefore making the A7R more suitable for specific types of photography that need high resolution such as landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. I had an opportunity to test both cameras in 2014, however, I did not have a chance to write detailed reviews for a number of different reasons. Hence, this is more of a catch-up type of a review showcasing some images from my recent trips, along with the usual analysis.
Zeiss has been pretty active lately, releasing a number of solid and much needed prime lenses for the Sony FE mount. The first Loxia line is comprised of two manual focus lenses, the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and Loxia 50mm f/2 and the second Batis line is even more exciting, with the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Batis 85mm f/1.8 lenses, with full autofocus capabilities. While both lines of lenses are superb in quality and build, the Loxia line is designed to be similar to other traditional Zeiss lenses, with manual aperture control and compact size. I had the pleasure of shooting with both Loxia lenses for the past few months using a number of different Sony A7 cameras and I decided to start off my reviews with the 35mm f/2 lens, which I happened to use a bit more than the 50mm f/2 due to the type of photography I have been primarily engaged in.