These past couple weeks have been a roller coaster for photography software. For some companies, the past couple years have been a roller coaster, too — Nik software in particular. In May of 2017, Google (which had owned Nik software since 2012) announced they were ceasing new developments on the program. No new features, bug fixes, or guaranteed support for updated operating systems. That happened just a couple months after making the software completely free. Justifiably, Google’s decision to end developments disappointed many photographers who relied on the software, and who happily would have paid for further updates. Today, though, there is some cautiously good news: DxO, the company behind DxO OpticsPro (which — also as of today — is now called DxO PhotoLab), announced that they bought Nik from Google. On top of that, they announced the development of a new version of the Nik Collection planned for mid-2018. If you use Nik software as part of your workflow, what does this mean for you?
Four years is a long time in the digital realm. In the past four years, new products, services, and software have uprooted many parts of the old world and put something new in its place. It also is enough time — as many people suspected, but wasn’t confirmed until today — for a company to break a promise. I’m talking about Adobe, with their new release of two separate versions of Lightroom: a split “Lightroom CC” and “Lightroom Classic CC.” Both of them are subscription only, which runs counter to Adobe’s own words during the release of Lightroom 5: “Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely” (source). Although it helps to define indefinitely just to be sure — dictionary.com says “ Below, I’ll dive into some new features in these Lightroom releases. I’ll also provide some suggestions if, like me, you are against the idea of monthly payments in order to access a catalog-based editing software (which makes you keep paying if you want the ability to re-edit your old photos).
Back in July, Nikon teased us with its “development announcement” of the upcoming D850 camera. Aside from a teaser video and some hints here and there about what to expect from the upcoming DSLR, Nikon gave no other information, so we had no clue what to expect in terms of specifications. Today, the company has finally revealed the upcoming high-resolution monster, the Nikon D850. And I have to say, this is without a doubt Nikon’s most technologically advanced cameras to date. First of all, Nikon was able to cram quite a few pixels into the full-frame sensor – 45.7 million of them to be exact. However, that’s not the impressive part, since we have already seen a full-frame sensor with even more resolution. What’s truly impressive, is that Nikon has been able to deliver this resolution at a whopping 7 frames per second (fps), which is one heck of a lot of data to push through any camera! Autofocus-wise, the Nikon D850 gains the same powerful AF system from the Nikon D5 (with a total of 153 autofocus points) and with the added power of a battery back, it is possible to even get to 9 fps, which makes the camera a versatile choice for all kinds of photography – from landscapes and macro to sports and wildlife. In addition, Nikon has also made the D850 an attractive choice for movie makers, because it can deliver 4K video shooting without any cropping. Couple all this with a few extra features and functions that we have never seen on any Nikon camera before, and the D850 looks like an absolute monster. Let’s take a look at what the camera has to offer in more detail!
Tomorrow is the 100th year anniversary of Nikon. While we have been patiently waiting for the company to announce something new for this big date, it looks like we will only be seeing a teaser in the form of the Nikon D850 “development announcement”. Unfortunately, aside from the teaser video (see below) that does not reveal much aside from the ability to shoot 4K video and 8K timelapses, no additional information is provided as part of this development announcement, which is quite unfortunate! Perhaps Nikon is still going through some changes to the camera features, or perhaps there are other reasons for not giving us any further details, but it will be a painful few months of waiting for additional details on this highly anticipated camera…
Today Nikon revealed its first pulse motor (AF-P) lens designed specifically for full-frame cameras, the AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR. This is a very interesting release for a number of reasons. First, it improves the already great 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR budget telephoto lens by making it sharper, faster and lighter. Second, it vastly improves the image stabilization system on the lens, capable of compensating up to 4.5 stops when shooting hand-held, in addition to adding a Sport VR mode for panning. Third, the new 70-300mm gains an electronic diaphragm and its new optical design allows to get even closer to subjects with a minimum focus distance of 1.2 meters. And lastly, its $700 price tag puts it just $100 above its predecessor, making it a great choice for budget conscious photographers. Being such a lightweight and compact lens, it seems like an ideal choice for travel photography.
Tamron announced yet another new-generation lens for both Nikon F and Canon EF mounts, the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. The new professional-grade lens sports an impressive optical design, with a total of 17 elements in 12 groups, four of which are aspherical elements, two have extra refractive and three have low dispersion properties. Just like the recent “G2” series lenses from Tamron, the SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 comes with eBAND and BBAR coatings to reduce ghosting and flare, and fluorine coating has been applied to the front element to protect the lens against dust, dirt and smearing. Sporting an advanced image stabilization system, the lens is capable of reducing camera shake by up to 5 stops. Lastly, the lens is weather sealed and is compatible with optional TAP-in Console for fine-tuning the focusing properties of the lens and updating lens firmware. All this technology available at a very appealing price point of $1,199, making the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 even cheaper than the recently introduced Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art. This is a very exciting release and I am looking forward to testing and reviewing the lens later this year, as soon as it becomes available.
Earlier today Canon unveiled the much anticipated Canon 6D Mark II, which offers a number of incremental updates over its predecessor. The new 6D Mark II comes with a slightly higher resolution 26.2 MP full-frame sensor featuring Dual Pixel AF and its image processor has been also bumped up to DIGIC 7. But the more exciting news has to do with the autofocus system – the 6D Mark II comes with a powerful 45-point all-cross-type AF system, which is significantly better than the 11-point center cross-type AF system found on its predecessor. With a native ISO range of 100-40000, a 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor, a tilting LCD screen, continuous shooting speed of 6.5 fps and an MSRP of $1,999, the 6D Mark II is aimed as a great all-around camera for Canon shooters.
Today Nikon revealed three new lenses: AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED, AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E ED and AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. While the latter 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR is an addition to the DX line-up of lenses, the 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E Fisheye and the 28mm f/1.4E lenses are pro-grade lenses designed specifically for full-frame cameras. Let’s take a look at these three lenses in more detail.
Step aside Canon 1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 – Sony has just announced its A9, a high-end, full-frame sports camera. With a 24 MP stacked CMOS sensor, a whopping 20 fps continuous shooting rate without blackouts, up to 1/32,000 shutter speed (electronic, mechanical up to 1/8000), a 241 RAW image buffer, 693 on-sensor phase detection autofocus points occupying 93% of the viewfinder, AF joystick, full-frame 4K video capture, in-body five-axis image stabilization, fully weather sealed body, larger battery capacity, a built-in Ethernet port and dual SD card slots, the Sony A9 is one serious monster aimed at directly competing with the top-tier DSLR cameras. It is a pricey camera at $4,500 MSRP, but it is still $2K cheaper than the Nikon D5 and offers features the D5 simply cannot compete with. The Sony A9 is a very exciting release for a number of reasons.
A couple of days ago, Synology announced its new DS1517+ and DS1817+ storage arrays that caught my attention. I have been using an 8-bay Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) device for the past few years and as you have seen from my detailed Synology DS1815+ review, it is a very powerful and robust storage solution that allows me to use it not just as a backup device, but also as my primary storage. And when the DS1815+ is paired up with a fireproof and waterproof ioSafe, one can fully automate the backup process and alleviate the associated pains with potentially losing data due to hard drive or storage failure. However, one of the biggest bottlenecks I have been experiencing with any NAS device is network bottlenecks. Even when using link aggregation with several ports, it is impossible to achieve more than 1 Gbit throughput from the same machine, which means that I am always stuck at roughly 125 MB/sec storage speed, even if my storage unit is capable of handling more load (link aggregation can be very beneficial in a multi-user environment). So I have been anxiously waiting for storage companies to start releasing storage arrays that are capable of handling more network throughput, which is why it is exciting to see the new DS1517+ and DS1817+ units.