This week is an exciting week for Sony mirrorless fans, because two more lenses have joined the native FE mount in the form of FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM and 85mm f/1.8. While Sony has already brought out the stellar 85mm f/1.4 GM lens last year, it is an expensive pro-grade lens, so there was a gap to fill for an enthusiast-grade lens and that’s what the 85mm f/1.8 is all about. At $599, it is a third of the price of its big GM brother, so it will be an appealing choice for portrait photographers on a tight budget. The Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM joins the ranks of high-end GM lenses that are designed to deliver outstanding contrast, sharpness and other optical characteristics with the latest and greatest technology the company has to offer. Although it has a relatively slow aperture of f/2.8 (for a portrait lens), it is also designed specifically for portrait photography, since it is the first Sony FE lens to feature a sophisticated optical design that incorporates “Smooth Trans Focus” technology that uses apodization filter, similar to the Fuji’s 56mm f/1.2 APD lens. Sony promises very smooth and pleasing bokeh, so it will be interesting to see how the rendering of the lens would compare to its 85mm f/1.4 GM lens.
It is always exciting to see great lens announcements, because lenses play such a huge role in making images and making them appear special. This week we have seen two such announcements from Tamron. Without a doubt, the most exciting announcement is the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 designed for full-frame cameras from both Nikon and Canon. I am personally intrigued by the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8, since that lens is going to retail for a mere $1,299 – that’s less than half the price of what Nikon sells its high-end Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR for! I don’t know how Tamron managed to price its 70-200mm so low, but at this price, I almost wonder what corners Tamron had to cut to make it happen. After reviewing its MTF charts and other lens specifications, I could not really find any…
It is a big day today for Fuji, since the company finally revealed the price of the GFX 50S, which, at $6500, happens to be lower than any other medium format camera on the market, including the Pentax 645Z. In addition, the company announced a brand new lens for its Fuji X-series cameras, the Fuji XF 50mm f/2 R WR, along with two updated cameras, the Fuji X-T20 and the X100F. While the X100F seems to be an incremental update with few changes, it is exciting to see both the XF 50mm f/2 WR and the “mini X-T2” in the form of the X-T20.
Back in September of last year, Fuji teased us with an announcement of the Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format mirrorless camera. While we got a taste of what the camera would look like, Fuji did not reveal the full specifications of the camera, along with the price. All we knew back then was that the camera was supposed to be under $10K with a lens, which was already good news, as the competing Hasselblad X1D-50c was announced with a price tag of $9K for just the camera body. Today, Fuji finally revealed the price of the GFX 50S and it is $2,500 cheaper compared to the Hasslelblad! Considering the price of the X1D-50c, along with the much larger, bulkier and heavier Pentax 645Z that still retails for $7K, the price of the Fuji GFX 50S is shockingly low. And based on the final specifications, the GFX 50S is going to be a beast of a camera for landscape, architecture, studio and product photography.
2017 is a huge year for Nikon, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the company. A century of innovation in creation of optical instruments, binoculars, telescopes, microscopes, engineering tools, medical tools, precision instruments, scanners, cameras, lenses and other accessories is something Nikon is planning to celebrate on July 25th, 2017. Our team at PL congratulates Nikon with this big achievement and we hope to see Nikon continue to innovate for many years to come! At the same time, we are hoping that the celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the company will come with great announcements – after-all, it is a perfect time to release something truly special for Nikon fans, isn’t it? What is it going to be? A Nikon Df II with anniversary edition versions of some prime lenses? The first full-frame Nikon mirrorless camera? Or perhaps a refresh of the existing camera models in the forms of the Nikon D620, D760 and D820? It is hard to say at this time, but we are hoping to see a bunch of releases in 2017!
To culminate more than a year of work, Spencer and I are very excited to announce the release of our first eBook, Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition. This 149-page Level 3 book dives into the creative side of landscape photography, including everything from finding subjects to composing difficult scenes. There are some exciting details below, so we encourage you to keep reading:
Every seven to ten years, Nikon updates its top-of-the-line, flagship lenses with the most current technology and tries to push the performance envelope of new lenses to their new technical limits. We have been waiting for this update for a long time and Nikon finally delivered the new AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. As expected, this lens looks absolutely stunning in every way. Nikon completely redesigned the lens from the ground up and delivered a true stunner – the new 70-200mm f/2.8 now features a fluorite element to make it roughly 100 grams lighter (which is a huge achievement for this type of a lens). The lens is now of “E” type with an electronic diaphragm, instead of the traditional mechanical lever to change aperture. Vibration Reduction / Image Stabilization has been reworked and vastly improved over its predecessor, with up to 4 stops of compensation. The lens is now comprised of a total of 22 elements, with all the latest coating technologies, including Nano and fluorine coating applied to lens elements, with lens optimized for incredible sharpness across the frame. And based on improvements towards maximum reproduction ratio, it looks like Nikon took efforts to significantly reduce the focus breathing issue that was present on the VR II version of the lens. All this does not come cheap though – the new Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR will retail for $2,799.95 MSRP, which is $400 higher than what its predecessor sold at when it was announced.
Without a doubt, Sony has been flooding the camera market with camera and lens announcements in the past few years. It has not even been a year since the company announced the Sony A6300 back in February and we already have another iteration of the camera in the form of the Sony A6500. I am not sure what the deal is with skipping iterations, but Sony went from A6000 directly to A6300 (skipping both A6100 and A6200) and it looks like there won’t ever be a Sony A6400 either. So why did Sony announce the A6500 this early? Based on the camera specs, one might think that Sony rushed with the A6300 in the first place, but looking at the price and the list of features, it appears that the A6500 isn’t meant to be a replacement for the A6300, but rather an introduction to a higher-end mirrorless camera. If we had NEX-3, NEX-5 and NEX-7 series cameras before, with a clear difference in features and price, now the higher model number is the indication of a superior camera. At $1,400, the A6500 is priced $400 higher than the A6300, but what exactly does the camera gain in comparison? Let’s take a look at all the new features.
In addition to the A6500 mirrorless camera, Sony has also announced an update to the RX100 and the new iteration is now called Sony RX100 V, as expected. While most of the camera specifications stayed the same (20 MP 1″ sensor and 24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-f/2.8 lens), the new RX100 V gains on-sensor phase-detection system to improve its autofocus performance. With a total of 315 phase-detection autofocus points spreading to over 65% of the frame, the camera snaps into focus almost immediately, at record-breaking 0.05 seconds.
More Photokina announcements are rolling in today and this time it is Sigma, with its headline-grabbing releases of upcoming Art and Sport-series lenses. With stellar lens designs such as the 35mm f/1.4 Art and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses, we have been waiting for Sigma to release an 85mm f/1.4 Art lens for quite sometime now, so Sigma has finally delivered. The new 85mm f/1.4 Art promises to be a superb lens both in terms of sharpness and bokeh. Although Sigma is yet to provide MTF charts and lens construction images, the fact that there is no aspherical element in the lens design is an indication of the lens being optimized to yield pleasant-looking bokeh without onion rings, something that has plagued other Art-series Sigma lens designs. Its price is a bit steep at $1,199 MSRP, but it is still $400 cheaper than its Nikon counterpart.