In addition to the high-end 500mm and 600mm super telephoto lenses, Nikon also announced the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR, a high-quality lens designed specifically for smaller APS-C / DX cameras. I have not had a chance to post this announcement due to my busy travel schedule earlier this week, but thought it would be important to post it at PL, since it is a pretty interesting announcement. The Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR has been a pretty popular lens for DX cameras for many years now, but after the release of high-resolution 24 MP cameras, the lens has been showing its age, with fairly average sharpness, particularly in the corners. The new 16-80mm f/2.8-4E has a completely new optical formula, designed to outperform the 16-85mm in every way.
Nikon has just announced two highly anticipated super telephoto lenses for sports and wildlife photography, the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. After Nikon released the 800mm f/5.6E VR and the 400mm f/2.8E VR lenses, it was a matter of time before the 500mm and 600mm lenses got updated with the latest and greatest optical designs and technology. As before, Nikon has completely revamped the optical formula of these new lenses, shredding as much as 20% off the total weight on the 500mm and 25% off the total weight on the 600mm! Now the new 600mm f/4E VR weighs as much as the 400mm f/2.8E VR, which is incredible. Considering how hand-holdable the 400mm f/2.8E VR is, both of these new lenses open up a lot of amazing opportunities to get closer to action.
Sigma has just announced world’s first large aperture full-frame wide-angle zoom lens with a constant aperture of f/2, the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art. Built on the concept of the already successful Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens for APS-C cameras, the 24-35mm f/2 Art offers similar advantages to full-frame camera shooters. With this announcement, Sigma challenges other prime lenses between from the 24mm to the 35mm range, claiming that this one lens can replace them all and offer the same quality and sharpness in a single, versatile and convenient package. The lens will be available for Nikon, Canon and Sigma mounts and at this time, there is no word yet on the pricing.
Today is a big day in the photography world, because Sony has just unleashed a true monster, the Sony A7R II, something that will seriously impact the photography industry. This is the camera that I have been personally waiting for, this is the game changer. I know this sounds a bit over-hyped and potentially over-promising, but as I was reviewing the Sony A7R, I asked myself “what would be an ideal mirrorless system look like for landscape photography?”. Based on my experience shooting with the Sony A7 II and Sony A7R, the wishlist included: lower-noise shutter, vibration-free shutter mechanism with EFCS (electronic first-curtain shutter), electronic silent shutter, high-resolution sensor with superb dynamic range, in-camera body image stabilization (IBIS) and full 14-bit RAW support. Well, the Sony A7R II today not only includes most of the items from my wishlist (the 14-bit RAW support is unclear at this time), but it also comes with more – this camera will be the first to feature a full-frame 42.4 MP BSI CMOS sensor, which means better low-light performance. Sony claims an improvement of two stops, which is huge. Faster sensor readouts also allow the A7R II to capture 4K video at 30p/25p/24p (with Super 35 support), making this camera highly desirable for both digital photography and videography needs. On top of this, the A7R II will come with a much more advanced AF system with 399 AF points (based on on-sensor phase detection points) and will be able to autofocus with third party lenses. Its OLED electronic viewfinder has been refined with impressive 0.78x magnification. This is why I called this camera a “game changer”, as it has more to offer than anything else on the market today. It sets a new benchmark, setting a new challenge for not only Nikon and Canon, but also medium format camera manufacturers. After this announcement, Canon’s 5DS already sounds unattractive and the camera has not even hit the shelves yet (sorry Canon fans, but we weren’t that enthusiastic after finding out that Canon did nothing to improve the dynamic range on the 5DS). And with Zeiss backing up Sony with its amazing Loxia and Batis lines of lenses and Sony working hard on releasing high-quality lenses, the Sony mirrorless system is gaining traction quicker than anyone anticipated. The only drawback of this announcement is the price – the Sony A7R II will be Sony’s most expensive mirrorless camera to date, with its MSRP price of $3,200.
F-Stop Gear holds a unique position in the world of backpacks. Whereas most other manufacturers produce either camera bags or hiking bags, F-Stop Gear aims to do both — they make hiking-style backpacks with swappable internal compartments for camera equipment. Just this morning, F-Stop Gear announced the addition of four new bags to their Mountain Series lineup: the Ajna, Tilopa, Sukha, and Shinn. These bags are sized at 40, 50, 70, and 80 liters, and they bring along some exciting changes from the old Mountain Series.
Macro photography opens up tiny worlds that your eye could never see unaided. Now, scientists at the University of Houston have shown a way to make an 3-cent disposable macro lens that turns your smartphone into a moderately powerful microscope. These researchers have started a kickstarter project, and with more than 2 weeks to go they have already far exceeded their modest funding goal of $5000 !
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.
As many of our readers already know, I love FastRawViewer and I have now made it my default software for culling images before importing them into Lightroom. This not only saves me a lot of time and space, but also streamlines the import process and only leaves images that I want to work on. I have already written a detailed review of FastRawViewer, but since publishing the review, the developers of the software have already addressed all of my personal requests in version 1.1, most notably a proper folder view where I can click on different folders and see thumbnails of RAW files that I am about to view. In addition, OpenGL and DirectX support have also been added, so the software can now properly take advantage of GPU acceleration, which is great! On top of all this, I have just been notified that FastRawViewer is currently on sale for $14.99 (regular price is $19.99), which is a great price for this killer software. After upgrading today and running through a number of images from my recent trip to California, I am happy to say that it seems rock solid and very fast – something I have previously praised a number of times before.