What would a world without colors look like? A world reduced only to shades of gray? I was inspired to revisit this altered reality after some time, partly because of the updated version of the DxO Nik Collection plugin and partly because I will have a Leica Monochrom camera on loan for a short test soon. I’m really looking forward to it. And perhaps some of this week’s news gives you reason to be excited as well.
- Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary: Sigma adds a Fujifilm X mount option to this existing lens (already available for Sony E and Leica L). Fuji already makes a lens in the same range, but it has a slightly wider maximum aperture and costs twice as much. Sigma will therefore present an interesting alternative for those on a budget. Available for pre-order for $949.
- Sigma 23mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary: Here, too, Sigma is expanding this lens beyond just Sony E and Leica L to Fujifilm X. This APS-C crop sensor lens has a field of view equivalent to 35mm on full-frame. It will compete with Fuji’s own 23mm f/1.4, but cost less. Available for pre-order for $549.
- Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Biotar 75mm f/1.5 II: A legendary full-frame lens whose design dates back to the 1930s. At the time, it was one of the brightest lenses available. The current version promises better optics, but retains the “swirly bokeh” that is typical of this lens. The fully manual lens has a silent aperture diaphragm comprised of 15 blades. It’s compatible with Canon EF, Canon RF, Nikon F, Nikon Z, Sony E, Leica L, Fujifilm X, Leica M, Micro Four Thirds, and Pentax K mounts. Available for $1,399.
- Nik Collection version 6.3: This bundle of 8 plugins for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic has been around for a while and is one of the cornerstones of the DxO software portfolio. In the new version 6.3, the Nik Sharpener and Nik HDR Efex tools have been improved. You can find out what exactly has changed here. DxO has also significantly updated its lens modules. At a personal level, I’m glad it finally includes the long-awaited Nikkor Z 400mm f/4.5 VR S.
The Rumor Mill
CFexpress cards shift into a higher gear
Today’s fastest CFexpress Type A and B cards allow continuous shooting at nearly 16 FPS in 14-bit RAW for at least one minute (as we tested here). However, today’s high-end cameras can shoot 20 FPS or more at this quality. With the just-announced new CFexpress 4.0 standard, it should finally be possible to take full advantage of these speeds.
The CompactFlash Association has announced the imminent arrival of these cards. The new standard promises up to twice the speed of the current standard. The change behind such a dramatic increase in speed is the adoption of PCIe Gen4, which enables up to twice the throughput performance. What is important to us as users is that the cards will not change physically in any way and will be usable in current cameras.
And when will we be able to put these cards in our cameras for the first time? Nextorage plans to introduce CFexpress 4.0 standard cards in early 2024. As soon as that happens, I will certainly let you know and include the card in our speed test.
Canon sets the stage for the RF 200-500 f/4L IS
Although Canon doesn’t and won’t have anything like a roadmap for upcoming lenses, this lens has been whispered about for some time. The whispers have recently intensified due to the fact that the current EF 200-400 f/4L IS 1.4x, has just been discontinued. However, Canon Rumors has been repeatedly informed that the new version will not get a built-in teleconverter. Of course, having a zoom with this range and f/4 is a dream anyway. But who knows, maybe Canon will surprise us. We should know by the end of the year.
Fujifilm GFX100 II to get unique features
This medium format camera hasn’t been announced yet, but according to Fuji Rumors, it should get two interesting features – a waveform monitor and an anamorphic mode. Both features would be geared toward video but perhaps could be useful for certain still photography as well.
Waveform monitor is used to evaluate the brightness of your image, regardless of the color. The histogram does something similar, but it only provides a graph showing the quantitative distribution of brightness in the image. It tells you nothing about where exactly it is pitch black and where there are clipped highlights. That’s what the waveform monitor can show.
We don’t have any more details on how the anamorphic mode is supposed to work, but my guess is that the viewfinder will display a desqueezed image based on the squeeze factor. Certainly a useful feature for anyone who uses these lenses on a daily basis.
Photo Contest Corner
- Topic: The theme of the main category “Nature and Humans – Thematic Series” is investigating the relationship between the natural environment and us humans. In addition to this category, there are 10 other categories where you can submit your nature photos.
- Fees: The entry fee is 25 euros, regardless of the number of photos submitted (maximum 30).
- Prize: The winning series (main category) and winning image will receive a cash prize of up to 2,000 euros.
- Deadline: September 10
- Topic: This year’s 12 categories are Oceans, People & Nature, Plants & Fungi, Freshwater, Lands, Mammals, Climate, Aerials, Insects & Arachnids, Underwater Life, Birds, and Reptiles & Amphibians.
- Fees: Free
- Prize: The contest will award over $25,000 in prize money, including a camera kit worth $5,000 for the overall grand-prize winner.
- Deadline: September 29
Good Deals and New Sales
It’s the beginning of September, and with it, the end of summer. I know, you probably figured that out by looking at your calendar. To usher in the Autumn, Sony has a discount event at B&H. It allows you to trade in any ILC camera and receive a Sony trade-in bonus of up to $500, plus up to an additional $200 in savings. That means you can get cash for your camera and up to $700 off a new camera or lens. Click here for more information.
Two weeks ago, I wrote here about discounts on MacBook laptops from Apple. Some of the original links are still relevant, so check them out here. Newly added to the bunch of discounted laptops is Apple’s 16″ MacBook Pro with M2 Pro chip (was $2,699, now $2,449).
This week, I was trying to narrow down my choices for a laptop running on Windows OS, and there really are a lot to choose from. All the models I’ve listed below have a high-quality monitor with a color gamut of at least 100% sRGB, a dedicated graphics card with at least 8GB of memory, and a fast 1TB SSD. In other words, machines for a proper photo and video workload.
- HP 17.3″ OMEN 17-ck1003nr (was $2,149, now $1,599)
- Lenovo 16″ Legion Pro 7i 16IRX8H (was $2,749, now $2,149)
- Razer 17.3″ Razer Blade 17 (was $3,200, now $2,500)
- HP 16″ ZBook Fury 16 G9 (was $3,799, now $3,491)
Here’s another post-processing deal for you this week. If you want to make your life easier and edit faster and more accurately, it’s worth considering a graphic tablet or editing console. One of the latter, from the specialist company Loupedeck, is now discounted (was $279, now $229).
Other Pages of Interest
In the flood of digital visual ballast, it is often difficult to find quality images. The judges of the recently-announced Refocus Awards does just that. The winning images showcase stunning photography in all genres – landscape, wildlife, portraiture, and more.
There are many nature photography competitions, but near the top of the pyramid is the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The results won’t be announced until October 13, but you can take a first look at the highly-scoring image already.
I started with black and white and I’ll end with black and white. If, like me, you enjoy photographs of a colorful world reduced to shades of gray, take a look at the winning images from the Black and White Photo Awards.
Photo Theme Challenge, Week #13
Last week’s theme was circles, and you can see the results in this thread. Thank you to everyone for your submissions! This week’s theme is textures, and you can submit your results in this thread by September 8!
Week #12 Results
Let’s take a look at a couple of the submissions for the circles theme, starting with Ronald’s submission:
In this simple setup, he used water, oil, and coloured paper to produce his shot. It goes to show that if you can’t find any new subjects, use some common household supplies. A very nice interpretation!
The next submission is by OnlyNorth:
I had a feeling someone might use bokeh circles, and this is such a great use of them! I love how the effect really gives the impression that it is wet outside, especially since it’s not always easy to capture rain.
Finally, let’s take a look at one by rjbphoto:
I thought the contrast between the person in shadow and the people in light, along with the projection of the ellipse was very nice.
Thanks to everyone who submitted their shots!