I am finally back in Denver after a three week-long trip to the UK and I am trying to catch up with all the news and announcements that we’ve missed. The first news items are related to Canon lens announcements from last week. Canon announced the EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM image-stabilized full-frame lens for enthusiasts and professionals who want something cheaper than the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. Usually, f/4 lenses are lighter and smaller than their f/2.8 counterparts. However, the difference between the 16-35mm f/4L and 16-35mm f/2.8L is not as big – the former is just a tad thinner and weighs 20 grams lighter in comparison. The three biggest differences are obviously the smaller maximum aperture of f/4, $500 price difference and image stabilization. With a very similar optical design featuring the same number of elements and groups, 2 Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) and 3 Aspherical elements, the 16-35mm f/4L IS seems to challenge its big brother in a number of ways, even in optical performance.
One of the frequently asked questions by our readers when we post information on Zeiss lenses (which are often optically stellar), is why Zeiss does not make autofocus lenses for DSLR cameras from Nikon and Canon. As you may already known, Zeiss is currently making autofocus lenses only for two specific mounts – Sony E (for NEX / Alpha series mirrorless cameras) and Fuji X. This line of autofocus lenses labeled as “Touit” is limited to a few lenses at the moment, with full autofocus capability and compatibility with both Sony and Fuji mirrorless cameras. So one might naturally ask why Zeiss has finally started making autofocus lenses and wonder if it has plans to start developing autofocus lenses for Nikon and Canon mounts. Although I have known the reason behind this for a while now, I decided to ask the question again from the Zeiss team at the Photo Plus show in NY last year. Specifically, I wanted to find out if Zeiss is planning to change their strategy in the future in regards to DSLR lenses.
There is a lesson here for all, especially when purchasing expensive gear. Expensive is a relative term with a value that varies per individual and can’t be generalized, the stuff being said here applies to all values of items. It comes down to how much value the item has to you and whether you are willing to risk that value versus the warranty programs being offered. Obviously the bigger the expense, the higher the risk.
Just wanted to post a quick reminder that the Nikon and Canon Lens and Speedlight rebates will be expiring in just two days and will not come back, probably till the holiday season at the end of the year. Nikon has already extended its rebate program until the end of March and with the end of the tax season, it will also end the rebates. As you may already know, there are two types of rebates taking place right now – lens-only rebates and camera combo rebates. I won’t go over these rebates in detail and provide my recommendations, because I have already done that in the previous article.
Thanks to the tax season in the USA, manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus and Panasonic have been aggressively pushing their sales, offering great rebates for cameras, lenses and accessories. So if you are looking for a good deal, now is a good opportunity to save some money (I do not expect to see good rebates / savings until the end of the year). Let’s start with Nikon. The good news is, Nikon has extended its lens savings program until March 29, 2014 and is now offering more rebates for those that are looking for camera + lens combo savings. These combo savings include such cameras as Nikon D3100, D3200, D5200, D5300, D7000, D7100. D610, D800/D800E and Df. Most of these cameras currently already have instant rebates and if you combine them with some lenses, you can save up to $680 off. Unfortunately, the lens selection is pretty small and mostly includes DX lenses. There is only one FX lens offered (70-300mm VR), from which you can slice off another $200, bringing the price down to under $400. You can access the rebates through the “Buy together and Save” link.
B&H is now offering the Canon EOS T5i with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and EF-S 55-250mm f3/4-5.6 IS STM lenses and a SanDisk 16GB SD memory card with a whopping discount of $500. I was not impressed with the T5i, perhaps better known as 700D, but only for one reason – it is not much of an update to its predecessor, and it seems like a lot of manufacturers are just flooding the market with barely improved products. So what I did not like was the very fact the camera was released so soon after 650D came into market. However, on its own, it is a very capable camera and, from specification standpoint, up there with the best in entry level segment. If you were planning to purchase it, now is a good time to do so, because, for a limited time, the two-lens kit costs just $999 compared to the regular price of $1,499. Follow this link to get to the product page. Mind you, the new price is only visible when you add the camera to the shopping cart.
More rebates are available from other manufacturers in addition to those already covered. First of all, some Nikon DSLR bodies and mirrorless cameras are offered with instant savings. Nikon 1 J1 with a 10-30mm zoom lens costs just $200! Canon also dropped the price of some of its cameras for the holidays. Then there is Sony E mount lens rebates with instant savings that range from $25 to $200, while Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 receives a discount with the price knocked down to $109 (from $141).
If you thought Fujifilm rebates were good, you are going to like what Canon has in store for the holidays. There’s no faffing about with camera+lens bundles, just good old mail-in and instant rebates ranging from $15 for the cheapskate Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens all the way to $300 savings for the likes of professional Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lenses. More than that, a whole lot of Canon’s best lenses are eligible, the sort that will last you for years and years.
DSLR cameras by design have some inherent flaws and limitations. Part of it has to do with the fact that SLR cameras were initially developed for film. When digital evolved, it was treated just like film and was housed in the same mechanical body. Aside from the circuitry required for a digital sensor and other electronics, new digital film media and the back LCD, the rest of the SLR components did not change. Same mechanical mirror, same pentaprism / optical viewfinder, same phase detection system for autofocus operation. While new technological advances eventually led to extending of features of these cameras (In-camera editing, HDR, GPS, WiFi, etc), DSLRs continued to stay bulky for a couple of reasons. First, the mirror inside DSLR cameras had to be the same in size as the digital sensor, taking up plenty of space. Second, the pentaprism that converts vertical rays to horizontal in the viewfinder also had to match the size of the mirror, making the top portion of DSLRs bulky.
Last week was a very busy week for us at Photography Life, since we participated in the PDN Photo Plus Expo in New York and took part in a number of activities related to the event. This was the first time that I took part in a photography event of this magnitude and it was quite an overwhelming experience. My good friend and our team member Tom Redd was able to join me and we both flew from Denver to New York to take part in a four day conference. In this article, I will go over some of the highlights of the event and talk about the upcoming products and some hands-on information, accompanied by photos. I was planning to cover the event at the conference on a daily basis, but I was not able to do it due to my hectic schedule. In summary, it was a great event that will hopefully benefit our site greatly going forward (more on that later).