Having been out of town for a few weeks, I am just catching up with some major news, so I decided to post some announcements that I consider to be newsworthy. In this particular case, it is the announcement of the Pentax K-3 II, which I believe deserves a spotlight for the innovation it brings. Sporting in-body image stabilization, high-resolution sensor shift mode, star tracking, anti-aliasing filter simulator, built-in GPS and durable construction, the K-3 II brings some great innovative features which we have never seen on a DSLR before. Looking at this powerful APS-C camera, I am excited to see what Pentax will do with its upcoming full-frame camera. And I hope that both Nikon and Canon are taking notes from Pentax, because such innovation is much needed in the DSLR market to keep it healthy, now that the mirrorless market is steadily growing.
Today adobe rolled out the much anticipated update to its Lightroom photo management and editing software. Two new versions of Lightroom are immediately available for both standalone and Creative Cloud subscribers. Lightroom 6 will be offered as an update to Lightroom 5 for perpetual users (both regular and upgrade licenses are already available) and those who subscribe to the Creative Cloud will get a cloud-specific version called Lightroom CC (which in its core is the same as Lightroom 6). This update is a rather significant one, because it brings very important and much-needed performance improvements, new camera / lens support and a few new notable features. Let’s discuss those in more detail now.
Today is a big day for Fuji, because the company has just announced its first wide angle weather resistant prime lens, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR. This is a pretty significant milestone for Fuji, because the lens is equivalent to a 24mm lens in terms of field of view on full-frame, which is a very popular focal length for many different types of photography such as landscapes, architecture and environmental portraiture. Being a fast f/1.4 lens, it is also a great candidate for low-light photography. On top of that, Fuji made this lens weather resistant to withstand both dust and moisture, so it will couple greatly with the Fuji X-T1 and future weather-sealed cameras.
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.