I’m posting this week’s Photography News in the last hours of 2023. Outside my windows, I can already see the fireworks of the first eager welcomers of the New Year. This morning, after a few days, the heavy, water-soaked clouds parted for a while and I closed myself in my bird hide for the last time to take some last pictures of the year 2023. Here’s one of them.
Top 2023 Announcements
Our planet has just covered another 940 million kilometers on its periodic pilgrimage around the sun. Do you feel like these 365 days have flown by as quickly as water in a mountain stream?
Like every year, 2023 was certainly full of personal joys and tragedies. This week, there were few announcements in the photography world as companies look ahead to 2024. So, I’m going to look back and talk about some of my favorite things that 2023 brought to us photographers. This will be my personal selection of a top 15, so it’s more than likely that you’ll see it differently. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the discussion below the article.
- Nikon Z8: The Z-mount equivalent of the hugely popular Nikon D850 was a long-awaited camera. In the end, all those who thought and hoped that the Z8 would be a mini Z9 were right. At least at the time of the Z8’s introduction, this was almost 100% true. After a few firmware updates to the Z9, the situation is a little different today, but that doesn’t detract from the qualities of the Z8, which is a high-end camera packed with great features in a relatively compact body.
- Nikon Zf: Did you also complain at the launch of the Nikon Zfc that this camera should have gotten a full-frame sensor? Nothing against APS-C, but the range of APS-C lenses is only as varied as the species diversity of amphibians in the desert (I took a moment to find a suitable metaphor for the low, but non-zero, variety). To that, the Zf added significantly better AF, the best image stabilization of any Nikon, a pixel-shift merge feature, and a hardware switch for black and white mode. The Zf is just really good, and I dare say it will be another Nikon model that will be remembered for a long time.
- Nikon Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR: This lens has been on Nikon’s lens roadmap for so long that I almost stopped believing it would ever actually appear. However, in the fall of 2023, it finally became a reality. For a very affordable $1,697, we got a lens that opens the door to wildlife photography for photographers on a limited budget, or those who want a versatile telephoto lens with a favorable price/portability/speed ratio.
- Nikon Z 600mm f/6.3 VR: So soon after releasing the 180-600mm f/6.3, we got another 600mm f/6.3 lens for the Z series in the form of this PF lens! Lighter and smaller than the 180-600mm, and almost perfect optically, this lens was one of my favorites that I tested in 2023. Although I added the 180-600mm to my own bag because of its price, close focus distance, and zoom capabilities, the two lenses are hand-in-hand as some of Nikon’s best for wildlife photography (apart from the exotics).
- Canon RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM: Canon introduced several lenses this year that fundamentally broke years of established conventions and stereotypes. The RF 10-20mm f/4 is the widest of the bunch. 10mm at the shorter end is as wide as the Amazon at its delta! I believe for many landscape and architecture photographers, this is a dream come true.
- Canon RF 24-105mm f/2.8 L IS USM Z: Another unique lens from Canon that pushes the boundaries. Specifically by reaching 105mm at the long end, 24mm at the wide end, and f/2.8 throughout. Plus the mysterious “Z” at the end of its name. Unfortunately, this does not indicate the beginning of an alliance with Nikon, but a power-zoom feature. This is available to all who wish to take advantage of it, thanks to the PZ-E2 power zoom adapter.
- Canon RF 100-300mm f/2.8 L IS USM: The 300mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 is such a sports classic. Well yeah, except that as a sports photographer you often have your reserved spot and you can’t move from that. Following the saying – “If the mountain can’t go to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain,” Canon has added the ability to zoom out to 100mm. How nice! 200 millimeters may be a small distance for mankind, but a huge leap for the sports photographer.
- Sony a9 III: Everyone knew this camera was coming, and that it would be ultra-fast, but did anyone expect it to be a supersonic missile with a global shutter? Well, that probably surprised a lot of people. Things like sync speed for flash photography, rolling shutter effect, or banding in fluorescent light can be forgotten. Have you ever found a shutter speed of 1/8000s to be too long? Then I think 1/80,000s won’t hold you back. Even from the non-baseball center of Europe, I would call the announcement of this camera a home run.
- Sony FE 20-70mm f/4 G: At first glance, you might think this is just another standard zoom lens. But we’re not looking at a 24-70mm, rather a 20-70mm. With that small change, Sony has come up with something that will make some photographers using other brands jealous. How many times have you needed a lens a few millimeters wider than the standard 24mm, and the lens you needed was sitting in the closet at home? Well done, Sony – hopefully we see similar lenses from Nikon and Canon in 2024!
- Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS: Finally, in November, along with the colorful leaves, the lightest 300mm f/2.8 lens on the market fell from the sky with the lightness of a snowflake. Weighing only 1,470 grams, the wind played with it for a while until it finally landed on store shelves at a price of $5,998. No, the price isn’t exactly feather-light. But the lens certainly is.
- Leica Q3: The compact, fixed-lens cameras that used to be in every family are now on the verge of extinction. But the few survivors have so far defied the overwhelming pressure from smartphones. Leading the charge is the new release from May 2023, the Q3. The third generation of the Leica Q line offers 60MP resolution, improved AF and 8K video.
- Leica Vario-Elmar-SL 100-400mm f/5-6.3 plus new 1.4x extender: To be honest, I don’t really think of Leica cameras as wildlife photography tools. However, with the addition of this lens, I may have to rethink my perception of the brand. Especially since Leica also announced a new 1.4x teleconverter with this lens. Will we also see a faster telephoto in the future?
- Sigma 14mm f/1.4 DG DN Art: Sigma has long since ceased to be a manufacturer that crouches in the shadows of the big players. Its lenses are not only high quality, but you’ll often search in vain for something better. This is exactly the case with this night sky monster. No other 14mm AF lens transmits as much light onto the sensor. Let the stars shine!
- Panasonic Lumix S5 II(X): Panasonic needed to introduce some competitive full-frame cameras in 2023, and with the Lumix S5 II(X) pair, it has succeeded. For a very reasonable price, these cameras have very advanced video capabilities (especially the “X” version), Phase Hybrid AF system, and powerful image stabilization. They’re smaller than Nikon, Canon, and Sony, but can compete on even footing.
- OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS PRO: A 2x crop factor can be especially useful for longer focal length lenses. Add that to a macro lens with 2:1 magnification, and you have some of the best working distance and close-up capabilities of any lens today.
The Rumor Mill
Rumor of the year? The candidate is obvious
Many of the 2023 rumors have managed to become reality, but there is still a big question mark hanging in the air. Once it becomes a reality (probably in the first half of 2024), it will surely be the event of the year. What am I talking about? Well, nothing less than His Majesty the Canon R1. The little that is known so far can be read, with a large pinch of salt, on the Canon Rumors website.
Nikon Z6 III: The volcano is shaking
The rumors about a possible Z6 III announcement have appeared suddenly and are gaining momentum. After all, the last time we wrote about it was last week. Why do we consider this camera a promising part of Nikon’s product line? A few years ago, Nikon came out with the Z9 at the right time and defended its position in the professional market. It showed everyone that not only their lenses, but also their cameras are top notch. The Z8 and then Zf carried similar features, but the classic Z6/Z7 line is in need of a refresh.
And now for the volcano metaphor in my headline. According to Nikon Rumors, Nikon is planning an event for influencers in Lanzarote. This volcanic island is part of the famous Canary Islands. On another volcanic island, Madeira, Nikon introduced the Z8 to the professional community. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so.
Good Deals and New Sales
The year is wrapping up, but that’s no reason to be in a bad mood. Now is the time to really enjoy all those toys you found in your stocking or under the Christmas tree. Is there anything you didn’t get that was written in your letter to Santa? Don’t be sad. Even though B&H Photo and Video’s year-end sales are coming to an end, you can still pick up something for a little while longer.
Other Pages of Interest
Christmas is a global holiday, celebrated almost all over the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s celebrated the same way everywhere. The basic idea is the same, but each culture has added something of its own character to Christmas. Come and see how the holiday was celebrated around the world in 2023.
To make sure you don’t run out of inspiration in 2024, now’s a great time to take a look at the winning photos from some competitions. First, check out the gallery of black and white images from the 2023 Refocus Awards. If you prefer a more colorful world, here are the winners of the Tamron User Photo Contest 2023. Have you been experiencing cloudy skies and rain for the past few weeks? Then you might appreciate some underwater photos from the DPG Masters 2023 competition. And finally, photos from outer space in the “Aperture” Indian Astrophotographer of the Year 2023 Competition. Enjoy the flight and return happily to Earth.
In 2024, I wish you good light and happy returns from all your short and long (not only) photographic journeys.
Photo Theme Challenge, Week #30
Last week’s theme was best of 2023, and you can see the results in this thread. Thank you to everyone for your submissions! This week’s theme is silhouette, and you can submit your results in this thread by Friday, January 6!
Week #29 Results
This year ended so quickly. To end the year of 2023, let’s have a look at one submission from each photographer!
rjbfoto sent us this one of Etang d’Urbino:
He says, “It was in the afternoon, when my wife and me went to this reservate. After a walk through the protected area, she wanted already to return to our house on the beach for dinner. But I said: Wait, there is a mystic mood and I have to take some landscape pictures. And during that half hour I was able to get some really nice photos. The one I love the most, I present here. And of course we had a perfect dinner on the beach later too…”
JohnK gave us a long exposure:
About this one he tells us, “This is a rock outcropping I’ve been focused on recently (pun intended) while experimenting with ND filters and varying camera settings. I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out – from the glassy reflection to the misty wave crest. Took this just last week along the Northern California coast at Point Reyes National Seashore.”
PRG Lagarde sent us a beautiful Mute Swan family:
He said, “I’m not sure it’s my best, but it certainly is the cutest and most ‘positive feeling’ picture I have shot this year.” Indeed, it’s hard to beat baby swans!
He remarked, “Was hard to pick just one, but I’d say this one, for the mood.” I love that leading line to the person. I was also fun to read that John Graybosch thought the same thing after scrolling a little further down!
Darin Marcus sent us this:
Darin didn’t leave a comment but I will say that sometimes something small like this insect can add a whole new dimension to a photo.
Robert thought this was his best for 2023:
This is a Steller’s Sea Eagle. I’ve never seen one but I simply love bird portraits and this darker view perfectly suits the personality of the eage.
Gusbatero gave us another animal portrait of a Capybara:
What a cute face!
Photofan sent us one taken with the new 600PF:
They said, “Don’t know if this is my best photo of 2023, but I like the nature as art aspect in this image. It was taken a few days ago while I was visiting Willcox, AZ photographing Sandhill Cranes. It was taken from a great distance with a Z8, 600mm PF lens, ISO 1100, 1/1250 and F16. The low-lying fog made for real nice pastel colors.” The colors are indeed nice and harmonious with the theme of migration!
Tricki sent this one:
Tricki said, “Best hike of the year in the most amazing area of Nebraska with the best person in the world… A photo that says it all for us.” What a nice thing to say. Tricki, I hope this best person sees your comment!
Bhoward gave us this hummingbird:
I was surprised to read that Bhoward took this shot with a 105mm macro lens. Now that takes some effort!
Tom Pazol chose a moon shot for his best:
The moon intersection was a very interesting choice.
PizzaGuy submitted a few photos so I selected one of them:
It looks like the start of an epic journey, PizzaGuy!
Ircut submitted two great photos, so I’ll display his first:
I love the vastness of the ice and the hint of the mountains beyond.
So, it looks like 2023 is about to come to a close. It was really heartening to see all the great photos submitted over this year and the participation of everyone in our forums. I thought it was a very nice photo sharing alternative to the mass media platforms typical of today. The challenges will continue onto 2024, and I hope to see many more photos from all our readers!