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.
Even though the new and upcoming full-frame Pentax DSLR camera will support existing brand lenses for APS-C sensor cameras, Ricoh realizes full and well that having a 35mm camera is only part of the package. Lenses are simply crucial to make such a system make any sense at all. That is why Ricoh-Pentax has announced two new lenses designed to cover the image circle of a full-frame sensor, the HD Pentax-D FA * 70-200mm f/2.8ED DC AW and HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6ED DC AW. It’s quite the mouthful, isn’t it? But I am focusing on the wrong things as both lenses, along with the upcoming full-frame camera, mark a new chapter in the history of the famous brand. Let’s take a closer look, then.
The ever-raging Canon vs Nikon debate might have you believing users of those particular systems are the most loyal to their brands. From what I’ve seen, though, neither Canon nor Nikon shooters have anything on those who shoot Pentax and swear by it. It’s a very niche system, that. No other DSLR manufacturer has such an array of competitive products priced so aggressively, that are also so compact and, when it comes to high-end models, so brilliantly rugged. No other DSLR manufacturer has such a great lineup of tiny, high quality autofocus prime lenses. And no other DSLR manufacturer has had so much trouble trying to find its identity. For a while now, Pentax has been experimenting with the narrowest of niches, launching boldly styled cameras, or boldly tiny interchangeable lens cameras with even smaller sensors. And yet those loyal to the brand always stuck by it. How happy they must be now that those who always ridiculed the brand will have their most valuable argument brushed away – “Pentax has no FF camera”. It’s true, there is no full-frame Pentax camera. But there will be, and rather soon. And for those who would rather avoid the pointless which-system-is-better debates, it means a new alternative to the best DSLR cameras on the market is soon to present itself.
It seems so long ago I opened an image on a computer for the first time. It was last century, in fact. And, as strange a thing this may be to remember, it is because opening that first image was the first thing I ever did with a computer (an old four-eight-six running Windows 95 for those who know what that means). Strangely enough, I don’t remember the image itself, not even vaguely. What I do remember is the software that was used to do it – it was ACDSee. I remember it from eighteen years ago – this lightweight, snappy, simple, functional image viewer with some mild editing capability.
Oh, how things have changed. ACDSee Pro 8 is not an image viewer, you see. And the editing capability is anything but mild, even by today’s standards. With a few caveats, the Pro 8 is a full-on Lightroom alternative, and that fact puts a lot of pressure on it. Let’s see if it can stand its ground, shall we?
The choice of the first camera system is an exciting one. Why would it not be? You get to pick the first camera to buy, the first lens, and you spend so much time reading reviews, forums and asking friends for advice. I know I did – some eight years ago, I was admiring such cameras as the Canon 30D and 40D, and was seriously eyeing the 400D which was then within the budget of a teenager me. Nikon D200 looked out of this world and the then-announced D300 was a camera of dreams. All of these models, now obsolete from a technological standpoint (much like the D700 I now own and love), were as desirable as any current equipment you can think of. Maybe even more so, since the refresh cycle was longer and digital photography in general not as widespread as it is today.
Yes, the choice of the first camera and lens is a very exciting one. But, inevitably and at some point, a different question arises for just about all of us, and one much less pleasant – should you stick with your first decision or is the grass truly greener somewhere else?
Back in September last year, Tamron announced the development of a rather interesting wide-angle lens. Not only does it feature a very useful focal length range for landscapes, architecture and documentary style photography, but also allows a fairly wide aperture of f/2.8 and image stabilization. The lens has now been officially released in three mounts – Nikon, Canon and Sony (Vibration Correction is omitted for Sony variant). At a fairly reasonable price of $1200, it ever so slightly undercuts the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR lens (which also happens to be slower), significantly undercuts Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens and matches the cost of the 16-35mm f/4L IS.