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.
Even though the new and upcoming full-frame Pentax DSLR camera will support existing brand lenses for APS-C sensor cameras, Ricoh realizes full and well that having a 35mm camera is only part of the package. Lenses are simply crucial to make such a system make any sense at all. That is why Ricoh-Pentax has announced two new lenses designed to cover the image circle of a full-frame sensor, the HD Pentax-D FA * 70-200mm f/2.8ED DC AW and HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6ED DC AW. It’s quite the mouthful, isn’t it? But I am focusing on the wrong things as both lenses, along with the upcoming full-frame camera, mark a new chapter in the history of the famous brand. Let’s take a closer look, then.
The ever-raging Canon vs Nikon debate might have you believing users of those particular systems are the most loyal to their brands. From what I’ve seen, though, neither Canon nor Nikon shooters have anything on those who shoot Pentax and swear by it. It’s a very niche system, that. No other DSLR manufacturer has such an array of competitive products priced so aggressively, that are also so compact and, when it comes to high-end models, so brilliantly rugged. No other DSLR manufacturer has such a great lineup of tiny, high quality autofocus prime lenses. And no other DSLR manufacturer has had so much trouble trying to find its identity. For a while now, Pentax has been experimenting with the narrowest of niches, launching boldly styled cameras, or boldly tiny interchangeable lens cameras with even smaller sensors. And yet those loyal to the brand always stuck by it. How happy they must be now that those who always ridiculed the brand will have their most valuable argument brushed away – “Pentax has no FF camera”. It’s true, there is no full-frame Pentax camera. But there will be, and rather soon. And for those who would rather avoid the pointless which-system-is-better debates, it means a new alternative to the best DSLR cameras on the market is soon to present itself.
Back in September last year, Tamron announced the development of a rather interesting wide-angle lens. Not only does it feature a very useful focal length range for landscapes, architecture and documentary style photography, but also allows a fairly wide aperture of f/2.8 and image stabilization. The lens has now been officially released in three mounts – Nikon, Canon and Sony (Vibration Correction is omitted for Sony variant). At a fairly reasonable price of $1200, it ever so slightly undercuts the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 VR lens (which also happens to be slower), significantly undercuts Canon’s 16-35mm f/2.8L II lens and matches the cost of the 16-35mm f/4L IS.
Along with the exciting Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, Nikon also announced a boring entry-level camera. After skipping the D5400 for no reason (Nikon marketing at its best), the D5500 was revealed at the CES with very similar specs as the D5300, except it gains a touchscreen and drops the GPS module. Same resolution, same processor, same fps, WiFi, same menu and features for the most part, except for slightly different design that resulted in a smaller and lighter camera. It seems like Nikon has no clue what else to add to the D5x00 line to make it more interesting and this release is one of those “announce to announce” series, yet another camera to add to the camera pollution just to keep the line fresh. Instead of doing something innovative (mirrorless design, EVF, focus peaking, electronic shutter, etc), Nikon adds a pointless touchscreen feature and gets rid of the far more important GPS component. With all this, Nikon increases the price of the D5500 by $100, pushing it towards $900 MSRP.
We’ve known for a while that this lens was coming thanks to Fujifilm’s most recent lens roadmap. Some details were still under a question mark, though, and with the official announcement we finally know everything about the most recent – and one of the most expensive – Fujinon lens for X-mount mirrorless cameras, the XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR.
Nikon has just announced a couple of new products during the Consumer Electronics Show 2015, among which is a lens that many of us have been waiting for a long time. I will start the coverage with this lens, because after seeing the details of the announcement earlier today, I knew that it was something to be truly excited about. As many of our readers know, the Nikkor 300mm f/4D AF-S lens has been my favorite budget telephoto lens for many years now. It is optically superb, has amazingly fast and accurate autofocus, works really well with 1.4x and now even with 1.7x teleconverters (with the new generation Nikon DSLRs like D750), it is compact, lightweight and priced just right. In short, it is a lens with amazing value for many wildlife and sports photographers. Despite all these strengths, the lens has not been updated for 15 years and it lacks image stabilization. Although rumors about an update have been circulating on the Internet for a few years now, it has not seen the light of the day, until today. The all-new Nikkor 300mm f/4E PF ED VR is not just an update though, it is a completely different lens.
It did not take long for Sony to bring its new A7 II full-frame camera to the US market. But then, even from the Japanese announcement article, it is clear that the A7 series of mirrorless cameras are very popular among photographers, and this new model adds the very welcome sensor-based 5 axis image stabilization that works with any lens. Ought to be a real success for the manufacturer, especially at this price.
Sony is very, very serious about the full-frame mirrorless cameras and would seem they plans no break for the competition. The Japanese giant has just announced a replacement for the first and (currently) cheapest full-frame compact system camera, the A7. Dubbed the A7 II, it brings, more than anything, refinement to what is essentially the same core feature set. Mind you, so far it has only been announced in Japan. It is still interesting to see where the manufacturer is going with all the full-frame offerings.
This long overdue announcement was something I had been unintentionally delaying for too long this year. I started this letter months ago on an airplane and I am now sitting again at an airport, waiting for my four hour flight to Denver, in hopes that I will be able to finally complete my disarray of thoughts in one piece. Without a doubt, the last 12 months have been rough, packed with a number of life-changing events that have had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. One event led to another and I found myself going back and forth, questioning my actions and intentions over and over again, until I finally made a decision: I decided to pursue my dream to become a full time photographer, writer and educator.