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.
Just like many other Nikon shooters, you might be wondering what Nikon has got up its sleeve when it comes to mirrorless. With so many manufacturers now competing in the mirrorless market, it is sorely disappointing to see Nikon being stuck with its 1″ CX sensor mirrorless offering, which despite its many strengths, is far from gaining popularity among enthusiasts and professionals. Unfortunately, for some manufacturers like Samsung, jumping into the mirrorless bandwagon has been challenging to say the least. Despite very strong offerings like the Samsung NX1, the company has not been able to gain a solid market share to stay afloat and its “mirrorless experiment” seems to be coming to an end, with the company’s announcements to discontinue sales of its products in a number of countries. In fact, based on these events, the future of Samsung’s NX line does not look good at all. But there is hope – today’s rumors indicate that Nikon is doing something completely unexpected, which is buying the Samsung NX mirrorless technology. According to Mirrorless Rumors, Nikon has already acquired the technology and the official announcement will be revealed in January of 2016, at the CES.
After a huge backlash from its user base when Adobe released a very buggy Lightroom update featuring its new Import tool, the company officially apologized and promised not only to address the bugs, but also to bring back the old Import tool and all the features it previously had. It took a bit of time, but the update is finally out! After testing the new CC 2015.3 release, I am pleased to see much better performance, particularly when using a dual monitor setup (the previous release was extremely buggy in a dual monitor setup). In addition to fixing a slew of bugs, Adobe also provided a rather big list of newly supported cameras and lenses.
Today is a good day in the Sony world, because the firmware 2.00 containing 14-bit Uncompressed RAW is available for download for the Sony A7R II! Finally, Sony added this option to the camera, which means you can now take a full advantage of the 42 MP Sony sensor in the A7R II, without damaging image quality. While the uncompressed RAW images will be much larger in size (roughly 2x the size), it is definitely worth using this option for critical shooting, particularly when shooting night scenes where sky posterization issues and artifacts around subjects are most pronounced. With the uncompressed option, you can enjoy seeing images that look like the ones from the Nikon D810 below:
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!
We have just received the goods today (finally!), so I just wanted to let our readers know that both regular and Sony version of the Sensor Gel Stick are back in stock. We received a total of 800 units and it looks like we will have around 300 units left after fulfilling all the backorders. I apologize for all those who have been waiting for a while – we will try to replenish stock sooner next time.
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.
Along with the new Surface Book, Microsoft also revealed a highly anticipated update to the Surface Pro line – the Surface Pro 4. Being a huge fan of the SP 3, I have been patiently waiting to see what Microsoft would bring in the SP 4. Although the Surface Book sounds like a dream come true for serious work, it is both heavier and larger than the Surface Pro 3 once you add up the keyboard shell (which is what hosts an additional battery, external connectors and an optional GPU). My Surface Pro 3 is always with me and it fits nicely in the front compartment of my Think Tank Airport Commuter backpack (the best camera backpack I have used to date), so I will have to evaluate the size differences between the two to decide which one would suit my needs the best. Thankfully, Microsoft kept the Surface Pro 4 nice and compact. In fact, compared to its predecessor, the SP 4 is both thinner and slightly lighter at 8.45mm and 1.73 pounds (high-end models), vs 9.14mm and 1.76 pounds on the SP 3.