Every once in a while, I bump into a great idea that I wish I came up with myself. Recently, I came across such an idea – a website called “KeepSnap” and I thought that the concept behind it was very smart. Many of us photographers often go to the streets and events armed with cameras, in hopes of finding something or someone interesting to photograph. And sometimes we do indeed come across fascinating people that we immediately get attracted to, wanting to take their pictures. Many of us can relate to such situations. While I was photographing a beautiful sunset in the mountains last fall, I saw a couple, sitting on chairs and enjoying the sunset and the surrounding beautiful scenery. I approached them and asked for a permission to photograph. They not only immediately agreed, but also requested me to take more photographs, because they had not been photographed for many years! I took a few photos, including some close-ups. When I showed the photos to them, they were really excited and they were ready to pay me for preserving their moment of happiness and joy.
A couple of days ago Fujifilm finally announced its long-awaited flagship camera, the Fuji X-Pro2. I have been personally waiting for this to happen for a while, because the X-Pro1 has been out for way too long – 4 years, which is a huge stretch of time if you consider how quickly the mirrorless market has been moving in the past few years. I have just gotten back from my 3 week trip to Death Valley and while I have a lot of catching up to do, I did not want to miss on this important announcement. Being a proud owner of the superb Fuji X-T1, I have been wondering what Fuji would do with the X-Pro1 successor. The X-Pro2 is finally out and it looks like it was well worth the wait. While the overall design of the camera has not changed much, Fuji has made a lot of improvements to the interiors of the X-Pro2. With its brand new 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (highest resolution X-Trans sensor we have seen to date), pushing native ISO sensitivity by a full stop from ISO 200-6400 to 200-12800, an improved focal plane shutter capable of handling 1/8000 sec shutter speed (electronic shutter up to 1/32000 sec), 1/250 flash sync (finally!), a brand new Hybrid AF system with a whopping 273 focus points (77 phase detection points covering 40% of the frame) that promises to be Fuji’s fastest AF system to date, a fully weather-sealed camera construction, dual memory card slots (finally!) and an amazing hybrid viewfinder, the X-Pro2 looks like a very serious tool for professionals. Although its pricing of $1,699 might not sound particularly attractive, Fuji has never been a cheap brand in the first place and it has been known to make attractive, functional and enjoyable cameras that many photographers are willing to pay a premium price for.
Without a doubt, the biggest surprise today is the announcement of the Nikon D500. Just like Nikon did it back in the day with the D3 and the D300, Nikon decided to release both the top-of-the-line D5 and the smaller DX version, the Nikon D500 on the same day. While we have been waiting for the flagship DX camera to appear for too long now (remember those D400 rumors?), Nikon finally decided to unleash the beast. The long-awaited Nikon D500 is finally here and it is promising to be damn good. It is surely Nikon’s best DX camera created to date, thanks to its amazing 153-point AF system (same as on the Nikon D5), 10 fps continuous shooting speed, 200 shot RAW image buffer, 4K UHD video recording capability, Bluetooth connectivity, 100% viewfinder coverage and 1.0x viewfinder magnification (more on that below). Sports and wildlife shooters will surely be attracted to this camera, since it is priced way lower than the D5, at $1,999 MSRP and offers many similar features. Let’s take a look at the D500 in more detail.
It is just the beginning of the year and we are already getting treated with some huge announcements, thanks to the CES show that is taking place in Las Vegas. One of the biggest and most anticipated announcements is surely Nikon’s flagship DSLR, the Nikon D5. Many sports and wildlife photographers have been waiting to see what kind of a beast Nikon would unveil in its new generation, top-of-the-line DSLR and it looks like the D5 is indeed a performance monster that sets a new benchmark in a number of ways. First, the AF system received a complete overhaul. While Nikon has been shipping a 51-point AF system since the original D3 series cameras (with tweaks in between), the new D5 literally triples that number to a staggering 153! That’s right, the brand new AF system will feature a total of 153 AF points, 99 of which will be cross-type. Compare that to the 15 cross type points we see on the current Nikon D4s and you will quickly realize just how huge that number really is. And for those who shoot with long lenses coupled with teleconverters, the number of focus points available to use at f/8 will be expanded from 11 to 15 AF points. That’s just the start – check out all the other impressive specifications of the new D5!
Many of our readers know how much we at PL love Samsung’s tiny SSD external drives. We have written a review of the Samsung T1 SSD device and praised it for its incredible performance, tiny form factor and its ability to add plenty of fast storage to laptops and devices like Apple’s iMac (see our recommendations on choosing an iMac). Today, Samsung announced a new line of portable SSD drives that provide up to 2 TB of storage. The new Samsung Portable SSD T3 drives will measure only 74x58x10.5mm and weigh just 51 grams, which makes them extremely portable – a perfect travel companion. With up to 450 MB/sec read and write speeds via USB 3.1 Type C interface, these cards will deliver exceptional performance, even for the most demanding applications.
We are excited to add another female contributor to our team and this time I am happy to introduce you to Elizabeth Gray, our previous Photo Spot contest winner! Elizabeth expressed interest in joining our team and writing some killer articles for our readers (have you seen her first article on choosing and preparing for a photo tour?), so I am really happy to make this announcement! Please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth Gray! Check out her intro post below, along with her beautiful and lively images.
This weekend, a very exciting display opened at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. – the twentieth anniversary of the Nature’s Best Photography exhibition. Every autumn for the past twenty years, the Windland Smith Rice Nature’s Best Photography International Competition has collected its winning images for a year-long display in the museum; the 2015 exhibit is a “Best of the Best” retrospective of the work from previous years. It features all the past Grand Prize and Youth winners, alongside the photos awarded in this competition 2015. In total, the exhibit features 113 massive prints, selected from nearly 500,000 submissions over the past two decades. I am very happy to announce that Spencer Cox won in this year’s Youth Category, and his “Brown Anole” image will be included in the 2015 retrospective exhibition! Congratulations to Spencer for winning this very prestigious award!
While the new Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 seems like a wonderful chunk of glass for those who do not mind a 1.35 kg beast, Sigma has just released its new 20mm f/1.4 Art-series lens, which is a much wider lens, while being as fast as the Otus. In fact, Sigma claims this one to be another “world’s first” as far as the focal length and the aperture – the next fastest lens is the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G. With its MSRP of $899, the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art is only $100 more than Nikon’s excellent 20mm f/1.8G, so the big question is, is 2/3 of a stop worth the $100 premium Sigma is asking for? Well, the answer to that question is not so simple, because there is a lot more than just stops involved here. Sigma’s 20mm f/1.4 Art is completely different optically compared to the Nikon. First of all, we are dealing with a lens that has more superior optical glass inside, with 5 low-dispersion, two ultra low-dispersion and two aspherical lenses. One of those aspherical elements is particularly difficult to make, because it is a “double” aspherical lens with a large 59mm diameter. Essentially this element was the reason that Sigma was able to produce a 20mm f/1.4 – something no other manufacturer was able to achieve to date. So in a way, we can consider the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 to be in a different class of its own when compared to the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G. However, there is one major pitfall – due to the large element on the front of the lens, it cannot take any regular screw-on filters!
Having been crazy busy with travel, workshops and the launch of our first video, I have not been able to fully keep up with all the latest news and announcements. With Photo Plus 2015 around the corner, there is a lot going on in the industry, so I am planning to catch up with all the newly-released gear this week. The first highlight is Zeiss, which has been very active lately, announcing one lens after another for different systems. Being a Sony partner, Zeiss is currently offering three native mount lens lines: Manual Focus Loxia and Touit and the new line of Batis autofocus lenses. Both Loxia and Batis are specifically developed for Sony’s full-frame E mount, while the Touit line was only targeted at Sony’s APS-C E mount cameras. Although the future of Touit lenses is under question, since Zeiss did not do so well there and there have not been any new announcements, the Loxia and Batis lines are coming very strong, thanks to the increasing sales of the new Sony A7-series cameras. The new 21mm f/2.8 looks like another stellar lens in the Loxia line and both Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 lenses have been crazy popular (which I am also planning to review, hopefully later this year). In addition to the Sony FE mount lenses, Zeiss made a big surprise earlier last month by announcing a total of six lenses for both Nikon F and Canon EF lines under the new Zeiss “Milvus” name. And the most recent announcement today is another “reference” lens for wide angle lenses, a sharpness monster, the Otus 28mm f/1.4. Let’s take a look at all these lenses in more detail.