Canon has announced an update to its 50mm f/1.8 lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Compared to its 50mm f/1.8 II predecessor, the new 50mm f/1.8 STM integrates a stepper motor for quieter autofocus operation, rounded 7-blade diaphragm, a minimum focus distance of 35cm and a metal mount. Best of all, these changes do not come with a significant price hike – the new 50mm f/1.8 STM is only $129, making it the most affordable Canon EF lens on the market. Due to the change in the mount, the 50mm f/1.8 STM gains 30 grams of weight. Performance-wise, it will be very similar to its predecessor.
Sony unleashed the Sony A7 and the A7R in October of 2013. With the Sony A7 aimed for general use sporting a 24 MP sensor and hybrid autofocus, the A7R differs primarily with its 36 MP sensor, therefore making the A7R more suitable for specific types of photography that need high resolution such as landscape, architecture, studio and product photography. I had an opportunity to test both cameras in 2014, however, I did not have a chance to write detailed reviews for a number of different reasons. Hence, this is more of a catch-up type of a review showcasing some images from my recent trips, along with the usual analysis.
Zeiss has been pretty active lately, releasing a number of solid and much needed prime lenses for the Sony FE mount. The first Loxia line is comprised of two manual focus lenses, the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and Loxia 50mm f/2 and the second Batis line is even more exciting, with the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and Batis 85mm f/1.8 lenses, with full autofocus capabilities. While both lines of lenses are superb in quality and build, the Loxia line is designed to be similar to other traditional Zeiss lenses, with manual aperture control and compact size. I had the pleasure of shooting with both Loxia lenses for the past few months using a number of different Sony A7 cameras and I decided to start off my reviews with the 35mm f/2 lens, which I happened to use a bit more than the 50mm f/2 due to the type of photography I have been primarily engaged in.
If you’re an enthusiastic still photographer who’s started to dabble with video a bit, you’ve likely run into issues with fine visual footage, but substandard audio. Crappy audio can ruin the viewer’s experience every bit as quick as lousy visuals. It soon becomes apparent that your camera’s built-in microphone records not just your subject, but also the camera’s noises (focus motors, VR, heavy-breathing operator) as well as the nearby highway, airport, dragstrip, playground or pig farm. The first step taken usually involves buying a hot shoe-mounted directional mike, AKA shotgun mike. This is great for emphasizing the sound coming from the direction the camera is pointed, but it gets not just the subject speaking or softly purring, but also the jackhammers in the construction site across the street behind your subject. It is a poor choice if you want to record dialogue. For recording talking subjects, the next step is to add a lavalier microphone system. A lavalier microphone, AKA lav, AKA lapel mic, is a tiny microphone that clips to the user’s lapel, collar, or ZZ Top beard. It is very sensitive to sound coming from very close to the microphone and not to sounds further away. Therefore it is ideal for recording the wearer’s words without too much interference from background noise.
Now that I have my Nikon D800E converted to infrared (big thanks to Ilija at Kolari Vision for an amazing conversion job and Bob Vishneski for inspiration and tips), I am experimenting with some infrared photography when I have a chance. During my last trip to Death Valley, I armed my D800E with a couple of lenses like the Tokina 16-28 f/2.8 and the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G and decided to give IR a try by shooting in various conditions. Along the way, I learned a lot of lessons, some of which were quite painful to deal with during the capture, while others were a shocker after I imported images into Lightroom and tried to post-process them with Photoshop.
A week ago I got the opportunity to spend a long weekend in South Africa’s Cederberg Wilderness Area. While there, we enjoyed two cloudless nights, during which the stars were exceptionally bright. In fact, in this remote part of the world the stars are always exceptionally bright compared to the cities we may be used to.
A few months ago we wrote an extensive article on sensor crop factors and equivalence. In that post we covered several topics: the history of the cropped-sensor formats, brightness of the scene, perspective, depth of field, noise and diffraction. In today’s post I want to focus on (if you’ll excuse the pun) and expand on two of these topics:
The Nikon D7200 is Nikon’s newly released top-of-the-DX-line DSLR. With the D7200, Nikon is holding firm in their conviction that their flagship DX model should cost $1200, the same price as the D7100 at its introduction. Compared to the D7100, the D7200 has nearly three times the buffer, an improved AF-system, the latest EXPEED 4 processor and a bunch of other nice features, especially for video shooters. Let’s check some specs, but first a warning – Nikon released the D7200 right at prime mating season in Arizona. Birds and bees were being birds and bees. This could be our sexiest review yet.
I am on my way to the airport to head to Jordan and I wanted to let our readers know that I might not be able to post frequently while being there. I want to take a good time off with my family, explore some places in Amman and other cities in Jordan. As always, I am taking plenty of gear to play with with, so when I do have time in between my travel schedule, I will do my best to post some updates and maybe even some reviews! Definitely planning on visiting the beautiful Petra (hopefully at night) and this time I want to see more than just the main attraction. Here is my shot from a very short trip last year:
Just wanted to let our readers know that today is the last day when you can order the Sensor Gel Stick, since I am leaving out of country for a month. We will be shipping units later today and tomorrow morning at the latest and we have limited availability of the product – around 24 units total of the Sensor Gel Stick and about 215 units of the Sony version. If you would like to get yours as soon as possible, please do it before we run out. I expect to receive more shipments in June and we definitely will not be shipping any until I get back in early June.