Nikon has been on the roll in the past few years, releasing one amazing lens after another. We have seen a refresh of the f/1.8 prime lens line with some amazing optics, but those craving for more have been patiently waiting for a modern replacement of such lenses as the Nikon 105mm f/2 DC and Nikon 135mm f/2 DC, absolutely amazing and beautiful lenses in every way, capable of rendering stunning bokeh for portraiture. Well, the waiting for the first lens replacement is finally over, because today Nikon gave us something truly groundbreaking – the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED. While the de-focus control feature on the previous 105mm f/2 lens allowed one to modify the bokeh rendering of the lens, it would end up changing the field of view and it was a bit hard to get used to utilizing that feature effectively for many photographers. Plus, the maximum aperture of f/2 put it in competition with the superb Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (review soon to be updated), as the latter is a faster lens and has superb rendering capabilities wide open. For these and other reasons, many photographers having been choosing the 85mm f/1.4G over the 105mm f/2 DC for portraiture, while the 135mm f/2 DC remained untouched. Now that the 105mm f/1.4E is out, let’s talk about what is so amazing about this gem and why we can mark today as an important milestone in the history of lens making.
Hasselblad today dropped a huge bomb on the photography market by revealing world’s first medium format mirrorless camera, the X1D-50c. With its huge 44x33mm sensor (0.8x crop factor, 4:3 aspect ratio, ISO 100-25600 range), 16-bit color, 14-stop dynamic range, 2.36 MP electronic viewfinder (EVF), 2.3 fps continuous shooting speed, dual SD card slots, 3″ 920k-dot touchscreen LCD, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, an incredible leaf shutter capable of flash sync up to 1/2000th of a second and a super lightweight construction weighing only 725 grams with a battery. At 150 x 98 x 71mm, this is a very small camera relative to its sensor and its throat diameter – a truly innovative design. And with all these specs, one might think that the camera would be priced in the $30K+ price range like other medium format Hasselblad cameras. But that’s not the case…the Hasselblad X1D-50c will retail for $8,999, which is surprising, considering that the sensor alone costs about half of the price of the camera. With such amazing specs and a powerful 3200mAh battery (which is a lot – the Nikon D5’s EN-EL18a is only 2500mAh in comparison!), this camera is aimed at a variety of photography needs, including landscape, architecture and portrait photography. In addition to the X1D-50c, Hasselblad has also announced two brand new lenses specifically made for this compact medium format camera – a 45mm f/3.5 (~36mm full-frame equivalent) and a 90mm f/4.5 (~72mm full-frame equivalent). Older Hasselblad lenses will have to be coupled with an adapter to work, which according to Hasselblad will be released soon, retaining autofocus capabilities. Hasselblad dubbed the X1D as a “groundbreaking” camera and such words as “game changer” are used in its public announcement for a good reason – there is nothing at the moment on the market that can compete with the above specs at this price range.
One of the most exciting news from today is Sigma’s announcement of the 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens designed for APS-C sensor cameras like the Nikon D500. That’s another f/1.8 constant aperture zoom lens from Sigma with a groundbreaking design! With an equivalent field of view of 75-150mm, this lens will surely be a popular choice among sports and portrait photographers, especially when working in low-light situations. Thanks to the complex optical design that incorporates 21 elements in 15 groups, the Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art is optimized to yield excellent sharpness at its widest aperture throughout its zoom range. And with its MSRP of $1,099, this looks like a killer offering for cropped sensor cameras. The only downside is its weight – at 1,490 g (3.28 lb), the lens is almost as heavy as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II! But what did you expect from a constant aperture f/1.8 telephoto zoom lens?
Thanks to the CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2016 that is taking place in Japan this week, we have a slew of exciting announcements from different camera manufacturers. Tamron was the first to make a big announcement last night, presenting two brand new lenses designed for full-frame cameras. The first one is a significant release, because it is world’s first image stabilized 85mm f/1.8 lens for full-frame DSLRs, the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD. This is an important release, because Tamron is now upping its game like Sigma has done with its latest-generation lenses, allowing both lens firmware and AF fine tuning to be performed using an external USB dock.
Canon has just announced its long-awaited update for the existing EOS 70D, the Canon EOS 80D. With a brand new 24.2 MP APS-C sensor, 45-point AF system, built-in Wi-Fi, updated Dual Pixel AF for live view shooting and improved HD video recording features, the 80D seems like a fairly solid incremental update to the popular camera line. While it is not by any means a significant upgrade, there are some important updates that might be worth moving up to, especially for sports and wildlife photographers. The new 45-point AF system with all cross-type focus points is a huge upgrade from the previous-generation AF system on the 70D (which only had 19 AF points), not only because of the bigger number of focus points, but also because of the much larger spread of those focus points in the viewfinder. Additionally, the center focus point on the 80D is now of dual cross-type and sensitive down to -3 EV, which should allow the camera to focus in very low-light environments. The camera will be available sometime in March for an MSRP of $1,199 for the body-only version.
Today is a big day for Pentax fans, because the company has finally announced its much anticipated full-frame DSLR, the Pentax K-1. Featuring a 36.4 MP CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 100-204,800, PRIME IV Image Processor, 5-axis in-body image stabilization (IBIS), 33-point AF system, 3.2″ Cross-Tilt LCD, 4.5 fps continuous shooting, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, dual SD card slots, a fully weather sealed magnesium alloy body, full HD video recording and a few other extra features like AstroTracer, the K-1 looks like a tool that packs practically every feature a DSLR shooter could think of. And the best part isn’t even the list of features – it is the price! At $1,799, the Pentax K-1 is the cheapest professional-grade DSLR ever made; even Nikon’s entry-level full-frame DSLR, the Nikon D610, had an MSRP of $1,999 when it was launched. Pentax users have every reason to rejoice, because the K-1 is without a doubt, the most feature-rich and value-driven DSLR we have seen to date…
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.