Along with the A6300 mirrorless camera, Sony today also announced three professional-grade lenses for the full-frame FE mount, the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS and two 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. Because of the premium nature of these lenses, Sony gave these lenses a new “G Master” (GM) label; which is basically one step above the current “G Series” lenses. All these lenses are fully designed by Sony engineers, have advanced optical formulas, coating technologies and other advancements that are designed specifically for Sony’s A7-series full-frame cameras, and as a result, also have rather steep price tags. Since many DSLR shooters have been staying away from the Sony full-frame mirrorless line due to the absence of truly professional f/1.4 and f/2.8 lenses, Sony decided to address that gap with the GM-series lenses. Looks like this is the first step and more GM lenses will follow in the future. Let’s take a look at these lenses in more detail and see what they have to offer.
Today is a big day in the world of photography, because Sony announced a camera that might challenge DSLRs in terms of autofocus speed in accuracy. The much-anticipated update to the Sony A6000 we reviewed earlier is finally out and it looks like it was well worth the wait. The Sony A6300 is the first mirrorless camera that is specifically aimed at capturing fast-moving action, thanks to its “4D” autofocus system with a whopping 425 phase-detection autofocus points. The camera breaks the world record in terms of the number and the spread of these autofocus points, reaching all the way to the far end corners of the frame, allowing fast-moving subjects to be tracked and captured at up to 11 frames per second. Although with its 24 MP APS-C sensor the camera probably won’t have the necessary buffer to be able to shoot action for prolonged periods of time like the Nikon D5 or Canon 1DX Mark II can, even shorter bursts with fast and accurate autofocus are going to make a huge difference. Couple all these capabilities with the 4K video capture (up to 100 Mbps) along with its MSRP of $999, and we’ve got one of the most desirably mirrorless cameras on the market.
Last night Canon unveiled its much anticipated top-of-the-line DSLR, the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II. Packing very powerful features aimed at sports and wildlife photographers, the Canon 1D X Mark II is a direct competitor to the recently announced Nikon D5 DSLR. Canon developed a brand new 20.2 MP CMOS sensor with Dual Pixel AF technology for improved low-light performance and phase detection focusing in live view mode (via the rear LCD touchscreen), dual DIGIC 6+ processors to provide more throughput for both 4K video and the insane 16 fps continuous frame rate, a revamped 61-point AF system with 41 cross-type sensors, a brand new 360k-pixel RGB+IR metering system, built-in GPS capability and a rugged, fully weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. Without a doubt, this will be one powerful speed demon, the best of the breed in the Canon world. And with its MSRP of $5,999, it is $500 less than what Nikon is asking for its flagship D5. Let’s take a look at the Canon 1D X II in more detail.
A couple of days ago Fujifilm finally announced its long-awaited flagship camera, the Fuji X-Pro2. I have been personally waiting for this to happen for a while, because the X-Pro1 has been out for way too long – 4 years, which is a huge stretch of time if you consider how quickly the mirrorless market has been moving in the past few years. I have just gotten back from my 3 week trip to Death Valley and while I have a lot of catching up to do, I did not want to miss on this important announcement. Being a proud owner of the superb Fuji X-T1, I have been wondering what Fuji would do with the X-Pro1 successor. The X-Pro2 is finally out and it looks like it was well worth the wait. While the overall design of the camera has not changed much, Fuji has made a lot of improvements to the interiors of the X-Pro2. With its brand new 24.3 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (highest resolution X-Trans sensor we have seen to date), pushing native ISO sensitivity by a full stop from ISO 200-6400 to 200-12800, an improved focal plane shutter capable of handling 1/8000 sec shutter speed (electronic shutter up to 1/32000 sec), 1/250 flash sync (finally!), a brand new Hybrid AF system with a whopping 273 focus points (77 phase detection points covering 40% of the frame) that promises to be Fuji’s fastest AF system to date, a fully weather-sealed camera construction, dual memory card slots (finally!) and an amazing hybrid viewfinder, the X-Pro2 looks like a very serious tool for professionals. Although its pricing of $1,699 might not sound particularly attractive, Fuji has never been a cheap brand in the first place and it has been known to make attractive, functional and enjoyable cameras that many photographers are willing to pay a premium price for.
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!
It is the first day of the new 2016 year and I would like to wish a very happy New Year to our dear readers and our amazing team of writers at PL! May 2016 be a very prosperous, healthy, joyful and successful year for you and your family. I hope you realize your dreams and discover new goals worth pursuing in the New Year!
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.
Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Rick Keller, who is joining our team of talented writers. If you have not yet seen Rick’s work, I highly recommend that you check out his phenomenal articles on Visualization and Film photography. So far he has published three parts to the series, but his very first article on the process of visualization, along with the article on hunting for the light will surely leave you inspired! Although I have only ventured into film photography once and have not had much time to dig in further, reading Rick’s articles makes me want to buy a medium format film camera and experiment with it, as I have so much to learn from him. Rick, along with our respected contributor Vaibhav Tripathi and our team members John Bosley and Laura Murray are my other inspirations for getting into film photography.
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!