Someone at Sony must be finally realizing cameras don’t make a system. As numerous and capable (crippled RAW format notwithstanding) the A7-series cameras are, the real pull of any system is the lens lineup. And so the Japanese manufacturer has announced four new FE lenses for full-frame mirrorless cameras. It is very much worth noting that just one of the lenses is a superzoom with a disappointingly slow aperture of f/6.3 at the long end – the other three are prime lenses of 28mm, 35mm and 90mm focal lengths. On top of that, Sony has also introduced two new lens converters, one for wider angle of view, the other – for fisheye effect. Let’s take a closer look at the new products.
You may remember how we were thoroughly impressed with the Profoto B1 off-camera flash. Its manageable weight, ease of use and dependability were among the largest strong-points, and made the product itself very tempting, even when compared to products from other highly-regarded manufacturers, such as Elinchrom. Now, Profoto has announced a successor (or perhaps a counterpart) to the B1. As good as the “older” system is, even on paper the B2 sounds fantastic.
It has been two years since Nikon announced the D7100 and today the company announced its replacement, the Nikon D7200. A number of things have changed / improved from the D7100, most notably: improved 51-point AF system with -3 EV sensitivity, built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, faster EXPEED 4 processor, larger buffer capacity, improved battery life and a slightly modified 24.2 MP APS-C sensor with a larger native ISO range of 100 – 25,600. Looks like Nikon finally addressed the buffer concern with this release, giving a three times larger buffer that can fit 18 14-bit RAW files compared to the D7100. The sensor on the D7200 is probably a tweaked version of the excellent sensor from the D5300 (made by Sony), which should provide pretty clean images at high ISOs. The camera retains the price of its predecessor at $1,199 MSRP. Looks like it is a great update to the already excellent D7100, which we have previously reviewed and praised for its superb performance. Judging by its build / ergonomics and the same continuous shooting speed of 6 fps, the D7200 won’t directly compete with the Canon 7D Mark II, which still leaves room for the potential release of the D400 later this year.
Here is something I am very proud to say: although our forums are only starting to grow, one particular section really took off, and it’s the Critique Section. As of the time of writing, it has the most topics and the most replies, too, which makes me immensely happy. Why? Because it means that, as interested as our readers are in all the camera, lens and megapixel discussions, in the end, you actually do use your equipment for its intended purpose and not for bragging rights. You are photographers, and not people who own cameras. And if our team at Photography Life has helped anyone in any way however slightly, it is a true honour. The fact how brilliant a lot of our readers are – I can’t speak for our whole team, but I often feel humbled – makes me even more proud.
A side note: the images in this article were submitted to the Critique Section by our readers. Yep. You are that awesome, and I am that staggered.
The announcement of the new 24mm f/1.4 Art lens by Sigma comes as no surprise. It is a very obvious, and a very delightful move by the lens manufacturer, and is certainly a fitting addition to the renewed lens lineup. Featuring a wide-angle focal length of 24mm and a very wide aperture of f/1.4, this lens sits comfortably next to such highly-regarded siblings as the 35mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 Art lenses. It will also directly compete against such brand lenses as the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G and the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, both of which are renowned for their optical performance as well as build quality. Quite the competition, then, but if previous Sigma Art lenses are anything to go by, the new tool should be remarkable.
It has only been 8 months since Nikon announced the D810 and today the company announced a very specialized camera for astrophotographers, the Nikon D810A. In essence, the D810A is pretty much identical to the existing D810 – the camera has exactly the same body build, ergonomics, sensor, etc. What has changed is the filter stack in front of the sensor, which contains a modified infrared filter that is more sensitive to super low light emitted by the stars and nebulas (specifically, the hydrogen alpha wavelength). In addition, Nikon implemented additional shutter speeds (4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, 600 and 900 seconds) to give more flexibility for astrophotography needs. While the announcement is certainly big for astrophotographers, because it is world’s first full-frame astrophotography DSLR camera, I do have a few concerns about this particular release. Having done a bit of research in astrophotography last year (my primary interest was in deep space object photography using specialized mounts and CCD sensors), I learned a little bit about the tools and what’s needed.
Adobe has been enjoying their place in the software industry for a very long time now. It’s a monopoly, isn’t it? Despite the effort made by Corel, DxO, PhaseOne and others, the benchmark is still Photoshop and Lightroom (even if the latter does not actually lead in every area). In fact, Photoshop has actually become a synonym to the word “post-process” or “edit”. “To photoshop something”, how many times have you heard someone say it? Exactly. And all of this is well deserved, because there simply isn’t any better alternatives. But for us, the users, monopoly is not such a good thing. Lack of proper competition puts the developer in a rather lazy state. Fortunately, an alternative might be in the works, called Affinity Photo (currently in Beta stage). Unfortunately, it is only available for Mac at this time.
It has been exactly three years since Nikon debuted its high resolution 36.3 MP D800 and D800E cameras in February of 2012. At the time of announcement, Nikon’s highest resolution camera was the super expensive D3X with a 24.5 MP sensor, while the similar class D700 only had a 12.1 MP sensor. So for many, going from either 12.1 MP or 24.5 MP to 36.3 MP on full frame represented a huge jump in resolution. The cameras were truly groundbreaking, thanks to their superb performance, low noise levels and stunning dynamic range. Although Nikon faced a number of issues with quality control in the beginning, particularly when it came to calibrating the autofocus system for the new high resolution cameras, the Nikon D800 / D800E took the market by storm and quickly became Nikon’s best selling professional cameras. For three long years Canon failed to offer a true high resolution competitor, while Nikon already went through another iteration of the 36 MP line with the Nikon D810 camera. This angered many Canon shooters who wanted to get a high resolution camera that offered similar performance benefits and a much wider dynamic range than what Canon had on its existing cameras. The wait is now over, because Canon has just announced record breaking super high resolution 50.6 MP Canon EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R full-frame DSLR cameras. Canon decided not to just bring out a competitor, but hit Nikon hard with something better in terms of resolution.
The introduction of the original Olympus OM-D E-M5 turned out to be a very successful move for the Japanese manufacturer. For the first time, it wasn’t just the compact dimensions or style that could lure potential customers towards m4/3 format mirrorless cameras (even though both aspects were taken care of by the slightly older PEN camera lineup), but some very impressive functionality along with all of that. Great EVF, speed (both AF and regular operation), great sensor (given its size), tons of customizable controls and impressively rugged build with dust and weather sealing turned a fashion object into a serious tool to tempt even DSLR owners. And it was still quite handsome with an obvious nod to those compact Olympus OM cameras of old. Why wouldn’t you? The OM-D E-M5 was a success. I am pretty certain the successor – version two – will be as well. At closer inspection you will notice the OM-D E-M5 II holds the same strengths at heart, but with everything slightly improved.
I’d be hard-pressed to call Samsung an inconspicuous company. After all, whenever you talk about electronics of any sort, there is a good chance Korean giant is leading that market or has the potential to. And yet when it comes to interchangeable lens cameras Samsung is very easy to overlook. Pay attention, though, and there is a lot to be impressed with – the recent NX1 looks genuinely capable on paper (with some specifications that are simply unheard of in its class) and puts a lot of well-received, high-end cameras to shame. It is also the reason why I am not surprised by their most recent impressive announcement, the new NX500 mirrorless camera. On paper, this is yet another strong move from a manufacturer that is not really known for its digital cameras, of all things. Yet.