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.
Last night Nikon unveiled the new D7500 DSLR camera. The much anticipated update to the D7200 that was announced back in March of 2015 comes with a few updates that puts it close to the Nikon D500 in terms of features and speed – the same 20.9 MP APS-C sensor and EXPEED 5 processor, fast 8 fps continuous shooting (vs 6 fps on the D7200), a larger buffer that can accommodate up to 50 RAW images, the same 180K RGB metering sensor as on the D500 (although the AF system is still the good old 51-point Multi-CAM 3500DX II), a tilting touchscreen, a deeper and improved grip, Bluetooth + WiFi (SnapBridge), improved weather sealing and 4K video recording. In addition, the D7500 also gains some of the firmware functionality of the D500, such as “Auto AF Fine Tune” that allows to automatically calibrate focus on lenses. Overall, it looks like a very welcome update. Except for two disappointing blunders – Nikon dropped the second card slot and took away the ability to use a battery grip on the D7500.
Ever since Sigma decided to revamp its line of lenses with its “Art”, “Contemporary” and “Sport” editions, we have seen a number of innovative lenses from the company, some of which claimed the “world’s first” title. Sigma has been working hard on producing fast, high-performance and durable lenses for Nikon, Canon and Sigma mounts at very attractive price points, allowing the company to quickly grow and establish itself as a reputable lens manufacturer. Today, the company revealed yet another amazing set of lenses in the form of Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art and 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary – four lenses designed specifically for full-frame cameras.
After a few delays, Nikon decided to officially cancel the DL Series of premium compact cameras citing profitability concerns. Sadly, despite the strong set of features these cameras offered for their prices, some of us saw this coming. And based on current market conditions and the serious losses incurred by Nikon in the past few years, the situation is not looking particularly good for the company, which has announced that it will let around 1,000 of its 25,000 workers go in order to restructure its workforce during the difficult times…
This week is an exciting week for Sony mirrorless fans, because two more lenses have joined the native FE mount in the form of FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM and 85mm f/1.8. While Sony has already brought out the stellar 85mm f/1.4 GM lens last year, it is an expensive pro-grade lens, so there was a gap to fill for an enthusiast-grade lens and that’s what the 85mm f/1.8 is all about. At $599, it is a third of the price of its big GM brother, so it will be an appealing choice for portrait photographers on a tight budget. The Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM joins the ranks of high-end GM lenses that are designed to deliver outstanding contrast, sharpness and other optical characteristics with the latest and greatest technology the company has to offer. Although it has a relatively slow aperture of f/2.8 (for a portrait lens), it is also designed specifically for portrait photography, since it is the first Sony FE lens to feature a sophisticated optical design that incorporates “Smooth Trans Focus” technology that uses apodization filter, similar to the Fuji’s 56mm f/1.2 APD lens. Sony promises very smooth and pleasing bokeh, so it will be interesting to see how the rendering of the lens would compare to its 85mm f/1.4 GM lens.
It is always exciting to see great lens announcements, because lenses play such a huge role in making images and making them appear special. This week we have seen two such announcements from Tamron. Without a doubt, the most exciting announcement is the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 designed for full-frame cameras from both Nikon and Canon. I am personally intrigued by the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8, since that lens is going to retail for a mere $1,299 – that’s less than half the price of what Nikon sells its high-end Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL VR for! I don’t know how Tamron managed to price its 70-200mm so low, but at this price, I almost wonder what corners Tamron had to cut to make it happen. After reviewing its MTF charts and other lens specifications, I could not really find any…
It is a big day today for Fuji, since the company finally revealed the price of the GFX 50S, which, at $6500, happens to be lower than any other medium format camera on the market, including the Pentax 645Z. In addition, the company announced a brand new lens for its Fuji X-series cameras, the Fuji XF 50mm f/2 R WR, along with two updated cameras, the Fuji X-T20 and the X100F. While the X100F seems to be an incremental update with few changes, it is exciting to see both the XF 50mm f/2 WR and the “mini X-T2” in the form of the X-T20.
Back in September of last year, Fuji teased us with an announcement of the Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format mirrorless camera. While we got a taste of what the camera would look like, Fuji did not reveal the full specifications of the camera, along with the price. All we knew back then was that the camera was supposed to be under $10K with a lens, which was already good news, as the competing Hasselblad X1D-50c was announced with a price tag of $9K for just the camera body. Today, Fuji finally revealed the price of the GFX 50S and it is $2,500 cheaper compared to the Hasslelblad! Considering the price of the X1D-50c, along with the much larger, bulkier and heavier Pentax 645Z that still retails for $7K, the price of the Fuji GFX 50S is shockingly low. And based on the final specifications, the GFX 50S is going to be a beast of a camera for landscape, architecture, studio and product photography.
To culminate more than a year of work, Spencer and I are very excited to announce the release of our first eBook, Creative Landscape Photography: Light, Vision, and Composition. This 149-page Level 3 book dives into the creative side of landscape photography, including everything from finding subjects to composing difficult scenes. There are some exciting details below, so we encourage you to keep reading: