Along with the new Surface Book, Microsoft also revealed a highly anticipated update to the Surface Pro line – the Surface Pro 4. Being a huge fan of the SP 3, I have been patiently waiting to see what Microsoft would bring in the SP 4. Although the Surface Book sounds like a dream come true for serious work, it is both heavier and larger than the Surface Pro 3 once you add up the keyboard shell (which is what hosts an additional battery, external connectors and an optional GPU). My Surface Pro 3 is always with me and it fits nicely in the front compartment of my Think Tank Airport Commuter backpack (the best camera backpack I have used to date), so I will have to evaluate the size differences between the two to decide which one would suit my needs the best. Thankfully, Microsoft kept the Surface Pro 4 nice and compact. In fact, compared to its predecessor, the SP 4 is both thinner and slightly lighter at 8.45mm and 1.73 pounds (high-end models), vs 9.14mm and 1.76 pounds on the SP 3.
Today is a big day at Microsoft, because the company revealed the Surface Book, Microsoft’s first ever laptop. With its 13.5 inch display packing 3,000 x 2,000 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio, which is great for photography) the screen is very impressive with 267 pixels per inch. And since this machine just like the Surface Pro and Surface 3 can run the full version of Windows 10, you can run any calibration software to get the color precision you need. The cool thing about the Surface Book is that you can use it both as a tablet and a laptop – something Apple MacBook Pro cannot compete with. That’s a neat feature, because some tasks, like online browsing do not require a keyboard, so the ability to disconnect the screen from the keyboard is amazing. The keyboard module is not just a keyboard – it is actually another shell that hosts another battery and an optional NVIDIA graphics card (GPU), which is something I did not expect to see. This means that the Surface Book will be perfectly usable not only for gaming, but also for many challenging tasks, including 3D modeling. GPU speed was the weakness of the Surface Pro line and a lot of people have been asking for a way to hook up an external GPU. Looks like Microsoft listened and delivered. There is, however, a caveat with the tablet vs full laptop mode: since the larger capacity battery sits in the keyboard shell, the battery life is greatly diminished, with the tablet only being able to run for up to 3 hours. Still, that’s pretty darn impressive for such a small powerhouse. And speaking of battery life, once you hook up the keyboard, you will be able to get up to 12 hours of battery life!
Today Canon announced the updated Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens, which promises remarkable performance for a 35mm prime, thanks to its updated optical formula and the new “Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics”, which is designed to further reduce chromatic aberration to new levels. With a total of 14 elements (2 of which are aspherical), 9 diaphragm blades for beautiful bokeh, fluorine coating and a dust / water-resistant construction, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM will surely be a popular choice among Canon enthusiasts and professionals. The only issue might be the added weight – at 760 grams, it is 180 grams heavier than its predecessor. It will retail for $1,799 in October of 2015.
As much as I have been trying to avoid traditional spinning HDDs (hard disk drives), replacing them with SSDs (solid state drives) when possible in my computer builds, HDDs still have no equivalents in terms of storage capacity and low cost per TB. The largest consumer-grade SSDs that we have seen so far are limited to 2 TB and those drives don’t come cheap – $800 a pop for a lower-end model. Well, it looks like this is about to change, because Samsung has just announced the successful development of the world’s largest hard drive, at a whopping 16 TB of storage capacity in a small 2.5 inch form factor. This 16 TB SSD drive, which is code-named “PM1633a” at the moment, uses Samsung’s new 256 Gb NAND flash as the basis for the storage, which basically stacks transistors vertically and allows squeezing much more storage into limited space. And to showcase this technology and its potential, Samsung mentioned a reference design for a server with 48 of these SSD drives installed for a total capacity of 768 TB. Now that’s mind-boggling, because we are talking about a true game-changer in storage technology. What does this mean for us photographers?
Nikon’s last announcement today is the new Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a super telephoto zoom lens designed for sports and wildlife enthusiasts. This lens is a very interesting announcement, because it is very different from all other super telephoto Nikon lenses we have seen in the past – it is Nikon’s first zoom lens with a fixed aperture that covers such a long range. Many enthusiasts have been asking for a 400mm f/5.6 lens and one wonders if this lens could address such needs. The 200-500mm f/5.6E VR supposedly can work with all three teleconverters and if it proves to be as versatile as it sounds, this might be something many wildlife photographers have been waiting for. The best part is the price – at $1,399.95 MSRP, it certainly falls into the “affordable” category when compared to other super telephoto lenses. Let’s take a look at this lens in more detail.
Being a huge fan of the 24-70mm f/2.8G for many years now, I am well aware of its strengths and weaknesses. It is a superb lens for landscape and many other photography needs, but its rather weak wide open performance in the corners, heavy weight and lack of image stabilization have been leaving me wondering if there would be a replacement coming out soon from Nikon. Today, Nikon finally revealed such a replacement – the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR is finally out and it is a monster of a lens! Looks like Nikon has completely changed the optical design of the new 24-70mm f/2.8E compared to its predecessor. Not only does it look a lot more beefed up, with its huge 88 x 155mm barrel and 1,070 grams of total weight (compare that to 83 x 133mm and 900 grams on the 24-70mm f/2.8G), but it also comes with a large 82mm filter thread diameter, which might present additional expenses for working pros for purchasing new filter holders and filters. Speaking of expenses, the updated 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR will leave a lot of people scratching their heads, since it is one of the most expensive zoom lenses made by Nikon, at $2,399.95 MSRP. Let’s take a closer look at this lens and see what Nikon has changed and why there is such a high price tag attached to this 24-70mm f/2.8E VR.
Today Nikon revealed another addition to the f/1.8 family of prime lenses, the Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED. This fast, enthusiast-level prime lens fills the gap between the Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G and the Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G, giving Nikon shooters yet another excellent wide-angle choice in a lightweight and affordable package. While the professional Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G has been out for over 5 years now, its high price point and heavy weight have been deterring many photographers, who have been waiting for a lighter and cheaper option ever since. The wait is finally over – at only 355 grams and $749.95 MSRP, the new Nikkor 24mm f/1.8G ED will surely satisfy many photographers who have been craving for such a lens.
Today is a big day in the photography world, because a rather serious competitor to Adobe Photoshop has been launched – Affinity Photo. We have written about Affinity Photo in the past and our readers really enjoyed the teaser and provided a lot of feedback and commentary about this software. Well, it is finally out today and you can already get it from the Mac Store. Sadly, Affinity Photo is currently only available for Mac, but the developers are promising to work on a PC version soon.
In addition to the high-end 500mm and 600mm super telephoto lenses, Nikon also announced the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR, a high-quality lens designed specifically for smaller APS-C / DX cameras. I have not had a chance to post this announcement due to my busy travel schedule earlier this week, but thought it would be important to post it at PL, since it is a pretty interesting announcement. The Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR has been a pretty popular lens for DX cameras for many years now, but after the release of high-resolution 24 MP cameras, the lens has been showing its age, with fairly average sharpness, particularly in the corners. The new 16-80mm f/2.8-4E has a completely new optical formula, designed to outperform the 16-85mm in every way.
Nikon has just announced two highly anticipated super telephoto lenses for sports and wildlife photography, the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. After Nikon released the 800mm f/5.6E VR and the 400mm f/2.8E VR lenses, it was a matter of time before the 500mm and 600mm lenses got updated with the latest and greatest optical designs and technology. As before, Nikon has completely revamped the optical formula of these new lenses, shredding as much as 20% off the total weight on the 500mm and 25% off the total weight on the 600mm! Now the new 600mm f/4E VR weighs as much as the 400mm f/2.8E VR, which is incredible. Considering how hand-holdable the 400mm f/2.8E VR is, both of these new lenses open up a lot of amazing opportunities to get closer to action.