As many may have expected, Nikon has just extended the lens-only and camera rebates all the way to March 28th. And it is a good thing, too, as it gives more time for customers to get the lenses they’ve always wanted without having to purchase a camera body as well. But if you are looking for a new DSLR, the bundles are also available.
You may remember how we were thoroughly impressed with the Profoto B1 off-camera flash. Its manageable weight, ease of use and dependability were among the largest strong-points, and made the product itself very tempting, even when compared to products from other highly-regarded manufacturers, such as Elinchrom. Now, Profoto has announced a successor (or perhaps a counterpart) to the B1. As good as the “older” system is, even on paper the B2 sounds fantastic.
About a week ago, my inbox started filling up with new forum topic notifications. A day later, Nasim contacted me stating the exact same thing with a hint of fear in his voice – that, our dear readers, was how we experienced your reaction to the introduction of a new mini-project here on Photography Life. That slight shock me and my friend felt after seeing how enthusiastically the idea was received is of the good sort. All the work that’s been submitted is a compliment to us, and also an emphasis on just how much of a commitment Weekly Critique really is. What have we gotten ourselves into!
It was no easy task, choosing the images for this week’s article. As I said, though, these decisions were very subjective and in no way showcase what we believe to be “good” or “bad” work. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at photographs submitted by Rick Keller, Levi Obarr and Betty.
Here is something I am very proud to say: although our forums are only starting to grow, one particular section really took off, and it’s the Critique Section. As of the time of writing, it has the most topics and the most replies, too, which makes me immensely happy. Why? Because it means that, as interested as our readers are in all the camera, lens and megapixel discussions, in the end, you actually do use your equipment for its intended purpose and not for bragging rights. You are photographers, and not people who own cameras. And if our team at Photography Life has helped anyone in any way however slightly, it is a true honour. The fact how brilliant a lot of our readers are – I can’t speak for our whole team, but I often feel humbled – makes me even more proud.
A side note: the images in this article were submitted to the Critique Section by our readers. Yep. You are that awesome, and I am that staggered.
The announcement of the new 24mm f/1.4 Art lens by Sigma comes as no surprise. It is a very obvious, and a very delightful move by the lens manufacturer, and is certainly a fitting addition to the renewed lens lineup. Featuring a wide-angle focal length of 24mm and a very wide aperture of f/1.4, this lens sits comfortably next to such highly-regarded siblings as the 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses. It will also directly compete against such brand lenses as the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G and the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, both of which are renowned for their optical performance as well as build quality. Quite the competition, then, but if previous Sigma Art lenses are anything to go by, the new tool should be remarkable.
Adobe has been enjoying their place in the software industry for a very long time now. It’s a monopoly, isn’t it? Despite the effort made by Corel, DxO, PhaseOne and others, the benchmark is still Photoshop and Lightroom (even if the latter does not actually lead in every area). In fact, Photoshop has actually become a synonym to the word “post-process” or “edit”. “To photoshop something”, how many times have you heard someone say it? Exactly. And all of this is well deserved, because there simply isn’t any better alternatives. But for us, the users, monopoly is not such a good thing. Lack of proper competition puts the developer in a rather lazy state. Fortunately, an alternative might be in the works, called Affinity Photo (currently in Beta stage). Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac at this time.
Let’s be completely honest – other than style, leather half-cases for mirrorless cameras serve just about no purpose. It really is all about style – not protection, not ergonomic improvement, none of that. Any change in those areas is, more often than not, unintentional. A side effect. So, when talking about such an accessory, what matters most is design and quality of the product. One is only ever going to pay good money for an accessory that’s not actually that practical or sensible to own if it looks great and is made with utmost precision. Gariz, a small Korean camera accessory manufacturer few have even heard of, has its hands full, so to speak.
Do you remember how it used to be with brand and third-party lens manufacturers? Brand lenses were always the high-performers, in all senses of the word. Well built, reliable and great from an optical standpoint. Third-party lenses lacked somewhat in those areas (unless you count such legendary manufacturers as Zeiss), but made up for it with very low price and niche lenses you could not find anywhere else. In recent years, however, the situation has been changing and quite drastically. Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 VC came out. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 HSM did, too. And the 35mm f/1.4 HSM. And the 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM zoom for APS-C cameras. Need I go on? All of these lenses proved to be well built and very good optically. There is no exaggeration in saying they gave some brand lenses a good beating. So if third-party lenses started doing the “brand” thing, how should Canon, Nikon and the like answer? Well, witness this – Canon has just announced a new lens. It is an ultra wide-angle zoom with focal length range of 11-24mm and maximum aperture of f/4 throughout the range. It is designed for full-frame DSLR cameras and there is nothing else quite like it on the market.
The introduction of the original Olympus OM-D E-M5 turned out to be a very successful move for the Japanese manufacturer. For the first time, it wasn’t just the compact dimensions or style that could lure potential customers towards m4/3 format mirrorless cameras (even though both aspects were taken care of by the slightly older PEN camera lineup), but some very impressive functionality along with all of that. Great EVF, speed (both AF and regular operation), great sensor (given its size), tons of customizable controls and impressively rugged build with dust and weather sealing turned a fashion object into a serious tool to tempt even DSLR owners. And it was still quite handsome with an obvious nod to those compact Olympus OM cameras of old. Why wouldn’t you? The OM-D E-M5 was a success. I am pretty certain the successor – version two – will be as well. At closer inspection you will notice the OM-D E-M5 II holds the same strengths at heart, but with everything slightly improved.
I’d be hard-pressed to call Samsung an inconspicuous company. After all, whenever you talk about electronics of any sort, there is a good chance Korean giant is leading that market or has the potential to. And yet when it comes to interchangeable lens cameras Samsung is very easy to overlook. Pay attention, though, and there is a lot to be impressed with – the recent NX1 looks genuinely capable on paper (with some specifications that are simply unheard of in its class) and puts a lot of well-received, high-end cameras to shame. It is also the reason why I am not surprised by their most recent impressive announcement, the new NX500 mirrorless camera. On paper, this is yet another strong move from a manufacturer that is not really known for its digital cameras, of all things. Yet.