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Posted 10/13/21
Sony has announced the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens, an extensive overhaul of one of the most popular lenses in the G Master lineup. The upgrade boasts completely reconfigured optics, faster and more accurate autofocus, and a laundry list of practical improvements for still and video shooters. A favorite zoom of professional portrait, event, sports, and wildlife photographers, this bright, constant max-aperture lens works well for a wide variety of subjects. Inheriting lens tech from Sony’s super-telephoto G Master primes, the new lens boosts performance while simultaneously cutting back on weight. At 2.3 lb, it is 30% lighter than the previous model and claims the title of lightest large-aperture 70-200mm on the market. Collectively, it comprises 17 elements in 14 groups and includes an extreme aspherical (XA) element that eliminates distance-related aberrations, like onion-ring bokeh. Two ED and two Super ED elements have also been added to combat chromatic aberration for accurate image rendering. On the exposed elements, a Nano AR Coating II provides anti-reflection protection to temper flare and ghosting so you can use it in challenging lighting environments with minimal distortion. Corner-to-corner sharpness has been improved, providing the kind of resolution photographers have come to expect from Sony’s G Master line. With a minimum focusing distance a hair under 16" and maximum magnification of 0.3x, the new lens will get you closer to your subjects than its predecessor could. It’s also compatible with Sony’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters to achieve the reach of up to a 400mm f/5.6 while retaining all communication and functionality. An 11-blade circular aperture produces smooth, natural-looking bokeh when separating subjects from their environments. Sony FE 1.4x and Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverters Not content to simply tweak optics, the latest G Master also features evolved autofocusing capabilities, making it four times faster and 30% more accurate than its past version. In order to achieve this feat, four extreme dynamic linear motors are used—two for each focusing group—making this the first large-aperture tele-zoom to feature such a design. Internal focusing permits fast, smooth, and quiet capture with less distraction when shooting, and floating elements are featured, too, for consistent sharpness throughout the focusing range. Previous Pause Next Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Sample Photos Videographers will appreciate reduced focus breathing, focus shift while zooming, and axis shift while zooming for consistent capture. Like other recent G Master lenses, the 70-200 includes a de-clickable aperture ring for smooth depth of field adjustments. A full-time DMF switch allows you to activate manual focusing when the focusing ring is used, even in AF-C mode so you can easily fine-tune capture. Linear response manual focusing enables intuitive and accurate focus adjustment, too. Optical image stabilization is available with the addition of Mode 3, which benefits framing stability for moving subjects. Physically, the lens incorporates a blend of new and old features. Focus, zoom, and aperture are all independently controllable for streamlined, on-lens adjustments. Three customizable focus hold buttons further expand on-lens functionality. Additionally, a focus limiter switch offers full range or infinity-to-3m for more efficient capture. An iris-lock switch is also incorporated into the lens barrel to revert adjustments to the camera body, preventing accidental on-lens changes. Dust and moisture resistance have been boosted around seams, buttons, and the lens mount so you can take this lens on assignment virtually anywhere with confidence. A fluorine coating on the front element protects against fingerprints, dust, and oil. Last, but not least, the new lens incorporates a refashioned lens hood that has an opening so you can adjust circular polarizer and ND filters, a flocked interior to prevent reflections, and silicone rubber on the front edge for added protection. Are you a fan of Sony’s G Master lenses? What would you photograph with its latest zoom? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 09/14/21
The day is finally here! Canon has, at last, unveiled its topflight mirrorless camera, the EOS R3. Combining assets from the EOS R5 and the flagship EOS-1D X Mark III DSLR, the R3 is a high-performance body built for speedy shooting, featuring fast and precise focusing, and sporting a robust, professional-grade body. It's the first 3-Series camera since the film era and introduces a wealth of new tech to Canon's mirrorless system, including an all-new stacked sensor, Eye Control AF, and a built-in vertical grip. Announced alongside the new EOS R3 camera body, Canon is also expanding its lens lineup with the introduction of the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM and RF 16mm f/2.8 STM lenses. Relatively sleek and lightweight, these two lenses open up the RF lineup with more accessible choices at the wide and telephoto ends of the spectrum. EOS R3 The EOS R3 is Canon's top-tier mirrorless body and currently is positioned between the high-resolution EOS R5 mirrorless body and the professional-grade EOS-1D X Mark III. The R3 combines the best of these two models, taking the speed, reliability, and physical characteristics of the flagship 1D X Mark III along with the technological advancements, mirrorless design, and multimedia prowess of the R5. Canon EOS R3 Mirrorless Digital Camera Sensor and Processor While looking like a mixture of these two cameras, the EOS R3 does stand on its own with a variety of unique technologies, including a brand-new 24.1MP back-illuminated stacked CMOS sensor and an updated DIGIC X image processor. The stacked configuration of the sensor promotes faster readout speeds and reduces rolling shutter distortion to cater better to working with fast-moving subjects, and the BSI design is more efficient when gathering light, leading to cleaner image quality with reduced noise at higher sensitivities. Another key element of this new sensor is its optimization for use with an electronic shutter function; top shooting speeds of 30 fps are possible with a 150-frame buffer, a top shutter speed of 1/64,000 second is available, and flash sync at 1/180 second is even possible. If working with a mechanical shutter, continuous shooting at 12 fps is available with a buffer of more than 1,000 frames, and flash sync is possible up to 1/250 second. In most cases, the electronic shutter will be the go-to function, and can remain a silent shooting option, or you can program an audible noise to accompany each shutter click to make it easier for subjects to recognize when a photo has been taken. Complementing the updated sensor is a revised DIGIC X image processor, which helps to orchestrate many of the performance-oriented processes of the sensor, ranging from the fast continuous shooting to the AF, image stabilization, and video-recording capabilities. The sensor's capabilities also go on to boost the sensitivity range to ISO 100-102400 for working in a wide variety of lighting conditions. In terms of video, the EOS R3 holds its own in the mirrorless realm with 6K 60p raw 12-bit recording and uncropped 4K 120p recording. The 6K and 5.6K recording areas can also be used for oversampled DCI and UHD 4K shooting with improved sharpness, reduced moiré, and lower noise. All 4K recording modes can be used with 60p, 30p, and 24p frame rates, and there is also a choice of HDR PQ and Canon Log 3 settings, depending on post-production workflow needs. Unlimited recording times are possible, too, and the R3 features mic and headphone ports, as well as a micro-HDMI Type-D port for clean output to an external recorder. Autofocus In addition to continuous shooting and readout speed improvements, the new sensor also lends itself to an improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF II system, which now features 1,053 selectable phase-detection points along with automatic AF zones and enhanced subject detection and tracking. The AF system can now intelligently recognize eyes, faces, heads (including helmets), animals, and vehicles, and tracking will automatically lock onto these subjects and maintain sharp focus throughout burst captures. Something new to EOS digital cameras in general, Canon is also reintroducing Eye Control AF with the R3. This feature was a popular one dating back to the EOS-3 film camera days and has now been refined and tuned to work in conjunction with modern-day AF systems. This feature essentially allows you to use your eye to control where the initial focus point is, and then the camera will take control using subject tracking to keep the subject in focus. This feature will require you to "register" your eyes, and is activated simply by looking through the EVF, but will give shooters an even more intuitive means than a joystick for finding the perfect focus point prior to burst shooting. One final point of the AF system worth noting is that it is sensitive down to-7.5 EV, meaning accurate and responsive AF performance is possible even in nighttime conditions. Coupled with a silent electronic shutter, quick burst shooting, and IBIS, this makes this camera stand out in terms of photographing live music performances and other low-light activities. In-Body Image Stabilization Not a new feature to Canon, but still one worth pointing out, is the In-Body Image Stabilizer (IBIS) that helps correct camera shake when shooting handheld in difficult lighting conditions or with longer lenses. This 5-axis system in the R3 is the same one used in the EOS R5 and R6 and can be used in conjunction with lenses featuring optical image stabilization to compensate for up to 8 stops of camera shake, depending on the specific lens in use. Body Design The new sensor and improved AF are great, of course, but among the most dramatic changes the R3 brings is a wholly new body to Canon's mirrorless lineup. It's the first Canon mirrorless body to sport an integrated vertical grip, which means it has duplicate physical controls for easier shooting in vertical orientation, greater handling comfort all around, and it takes the same large-capacity LP-E19 battery as the EOS-1D X Mark III. Some other similarities to the 1D X Mark III: The R3 has the same dust and drip resistance, with fully sealed buttons, dials, and terminals; it features wired LAN connectivity via an Ethernet port along with standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity; and there is an integrated GPS module for seamless location tagging. The revised body also houses the impressive 5.76m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and vari-angle touchscreen LCD. The EVF is the same high-res model found in the R5 and is a bright, clear means for eye-level viewing. This viewfinder is aided by the fast readout speeds of the stacked sensor, too, offers blackout-free viewing when shooting with an electronic shutter, and supports a 120-fps refresh rate for realistic motion portrayal. Conversely, the 3.2" 4.15m-dot vari-angle LCD is perfect for working from high, low, and front-facing angles and sports a touchscreen interface for intuitive settings control. As you'd expect from a professional-grade camera, the R3 has dual memory card slots—one CFexpress Type B slot and one SD UHS-II slot—for file-saving flexibility. The CFexpress slot should be prioritized for 6K recordings and fast continuous shooting, but the SD slot is a convenient alternative for backups or less speed-critical shooting. Dual memory card slots—one CFexpress Type B slot and one SD UHS-II slot Finally, one final new bit of the tech the R3 is bringing to light is the Multi-Function Shoe. This next-gen take on a hot shoe essentially adds a row of pins at the front of the shoe for more intelligent accessory performance and functionality. To go along with the Multi-Function Shoe, Canon is also launching four additional accessories that take advantage of this new design. The ST-E10 Speedlite Transmitter is a compact, lightweight transmitter that controls all five independent groups across up to 15 Speedlites simply by pressing the menu button on the transmitter and then adjusting settings on the camera's LCD. This transmitter is 30% smaller and 50% lighter than the ST-E3-RT II and, since it is digital and is compatible with the Multi-Function Shoe, it is battery-free and uses the camera's own power.   The DM-E1D Stereo Microphone is a shoe-mounted external mic that uses the Multi-Function interface for power and for digitally connecting to the camera, requiring no cabling for sync. It has three directional modes depending on recording needs, including a Shotgun mode for focused recording and 90° and 120° Stereo modes for wide-area recording.   The AD-E1 Multi-Function Shoe Adapter helps you transition from existing hot shoe accessories to the new Multi-Function Shoe; this adapter maintains the weather-sealed features of the camera when using accessories like the Speedlite EL1, Speedlite 600EX II-RT, OC-E3, or other shoe-mounted accessories.   The AD-P1 Smartphone Link Adapter is compatible with Android smartphones and uses the mobile device's data connection and a Mobile File transfer app for seamless and wireless photo, video, and voice memo transferring to FTP/FTPS/SFTP servers directly from the camera. Takeaways That's a lot of information to take in, but let's distill this into some major takeaway points and see how the EOS R3 fits in Canon's growing mirrorless system. New 24.1MP stacked BSI CMOS sensor. The main point here is the stacked sensor configuration, which will greatly impact readout speeds for faster, more reliable continuous shooting and reduced rolling shutter for video and high-speed shooting. The 24.1MP resolution shows you that this camera is built for "working shooters," for lack of a better term; it's not high-res by any means, but a solid choice for those who are publishing their photographs, sharing their work, and need to move their images quickly. If you want high-resolution files, the R5 will still be your ideal choice, but if you want speed, the R3 is where it's at.   Enhanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF II and Eye Control AF. These are two of the most exciting updates to the system since they have a direct impact on the shooting experience. Canon is really going in on intelligent subject detection and tracking, and the Eye Control AF is simply a useful, intuitive tool for quickly acquiring that first focus point.   The video performance is pretty much what one would expect from a camera spec'd out like this; it's very strong but not necessarily groundbreaking. The R3 can handle video tasks in a professional manner and is obviously inspired by Canon's cine line of cameras. This is like the 24MP resolution in a way; not awe inspiring but very solid and exactly what is needed for reliable performance.   In-Body image stabilization is often overlooked and sometimes taken for granted, but it's hard to overstate how cool it is to get 8 stops of shake correction and be able to shoot handheld in truly low-light conditions.   Same EVF as the R5 and a higher-res vari-angle touchscreen LCD. These viewing mechanisms are at the cutting edge of what we're seeing in mirrorless cameras and should impress pretty much anybody, even optical finder diehards.   It's about time we see a mirrorless camera with an integrated vertical grip, and this looks like a strong example of how to blend strong ergonomics, fresh tech, and solid battery life into what's a surprisingly lightweight body. The EOS R3 seems to be just what Canon needed to reinforce its mirrorless system and feels like the right camera body for some of the more recent lens releases, like the RF 400mm f/2.8L and RF 600mm f/4L, which should feel right at home mounted on a camera like this. The R3 technically isn't Canon's "flagship" camera because that title still belongs to the EOS-1D X Mark III, but in the mirrorless world, the R3 is the current king. It's exciting to see Canon weaving the remaining distinctions from its SLR cameras into the up-and-coming mirrorless line, and it's also impressive to see how far mirrorless has come in just a few short years. New RF Lenses Today's announcement isn't all about the professional crowd because Canon is also releasing a pair of more accessible lenses aimed at current EOS R-series shooters. The RF 16mm f/2.8 STM and RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM are both relatively small and lightweight for their respective focal lengths and serve as perfect choices for adding a second or third lens to a growing kit. RF 16mm f/2.8 STM Beginning with the wide lens first, the RF 16mm f/2.8 STM is a special wide-angle prime simply because of its mixture of an ultra-wide focal length, reasonably fast optics, and a super compact form factor. It's important to call out that this lens is not a fisheye, and its rectilinear design will come in handy when photographing architecture, interiors, or broad landscape views. The f/2.8 aperture diaphragm makes it a solid choice for astrophotography applications, too, and it also features a 5.1" minimum focusing distance that is perfect for unique close-up shots with great depth of field. A stepping motor (STM) ensures smooth and quiet focusing performance, which is good for stills and video, and the control ring can be assigned to adjust focus manually or set to control a variety of other shooting settings. Previous Pause Next RF 16mm f/2.8 STM sample photos RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM The second lens being announced is the RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM, a telephoto zoom that seems to be almost diametrically opposed to the 16mm f/2.8, but in actuality is similar in intent. This long-ranging zoom features a modest maximum aperture range that helps to keep the overall size and weight relatively low, making it an ideal partner for day-long shoots or hikes in the wilderness. Similar in stature to the popular EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM for SLRs, this 100-400mm is a fresh take on a versatile everyday zoom. It has longer reach and an updated Nano USM focusing motor for more responsive focusing performance. Also, its Image Stabilizer works with Coordinated IS with EOS R-series bodies for up to 6 stops of shake correction for low-light handheld shooting. Previous Pause Next RF 100-400mm f/5.6-8 IS USM sample photos Optically, this zoom features an Ultra-Low Dispersion element that reduces color fringing and chromatic aberrations and an aspherical element helps to boost sharpness and minimize distortion. Unique among tele-zooms, this lens also has a 2.9' minimum focusing distance at the 200mm position and 0.4x maximum magnification at the 400mm position, making it a surprisingly solid choice for close-up shooting. Additionally, for even more versatility, this lens is also compatible with the Extender RF 1.4x and RF 2x teleconverters for even greater reach. It's a big day for Canon with the release of a new professional-grade mirrorless body, four new system accessories, new sensor tech, new Multi-Function Shoe, and even the release of two new accessible lenses for the RF system. What items pique your interest most from Canon's huge unveiling? Are you excited about the top-end camera development? Excited to see new features and system tech? Or do these two highly usable lenses have your attention? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 09/09/21
Expanding its lineup of stylish, compact, and modest primes, Sigma has just announced two new I Series lenses: the 90mm f/2.8 DG DN and 24mm f/2 DG DN. Both of these lenses fall under the Contemporary designation and both are available for L and Sony E mirrorless lens mounts. If you look back to last fall, when Sigma debuted the I Series, you’ll remember that this lens designation is all about making lenses that prioritize practicality, aesthetics, and sleekness, rather than pure speed and theoretical performance. This announcement sees Sigma rounding out the I Series, as well as giving shooters a choice at the ultra-wide end. Beyond just bringing two new lenses to light, this announcement also establishes Sigma’s approach to I Series development more clearly. Currently, Sigma is using a two-pronged approach within this designation: Some lenses are deliberately slow to maximize compactness, while other lenses balance speed and portability. Following the “slower and sleeker” route, the new 90mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary joins the 45mm f/2.8 DG DN and 24mm f/3.5 DG DN to create a nice trio of ultra-small, ultra-portable primes. This new portrait-length prime is the longest I Series lens to date and is characterized by its f/2.8 maximum aperture, STM stepping AF motor, and advanced optical design that uses low dispersion and aspherical elements. It’s a unique complement to the 24mm f/3.5 and 45mm f/2.8 because its form factor is nearly identical—sharing the same 64mm diameter and 55mm filter size—but the longer focal length makes it perfect for portraiture, long-range subjects, or other situations when a bit of separation and visual compression are desired. Also, this 90mm f/2.8 has a 1:5 maximum magnification ratio and minimum focusing distance of just 1.6' for working with close-up subjects, too. Sigma 90mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary Lens At the other end of this announcement is the 24mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary, which joins the 35mm f/2 DG DN and 65mm f/2 DG DN lenses to form a tight portfolio of sophisticated and practical f/2 primes. Compared to “slower and sleeker” I Series lenses, these f/2 lenses represent balance and practicality. According to Sigma, they feature the same MTF performance as the f/1.4 Art lenses but have a much more svelte design. This 24mm f/2, specifically, uses FLD, SLD, and aspherical elements to control a variety of aberrations and distortions for high sharpness and accurate rendering from edge to edge. Additionally, these f/2 I Series lenses also have a distinct arc-type AF/MF switch that is a bit more tactilely accessible than the smaller switch on the slower lenses. Sigma 24mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Lens This announcement indicates Sigma’s desire to have a well-rounded system of lenses that follow a shared ethos, but also shows that Sigma isn’t afraid to give shooters multiple options of the same focal length. Much in the way Sigma has released three unique 35mm DG DN lenses for mirrorless cameras, the announcement of this second 24mm I Series lens is initially a bit of a head scratcher, but begins to make sense after you factor in the reasons for choosing one lens over the other. The 24mm f/3.5 DG DN is a marked lens because of its impressively compact design, as well as its surprisingly slow maximum aperture; the new 24mm f/2 DG DN, on the other hand, is a more balanced approach to an ultra-wide prime and is faster as well as larger. The f/2 lens has better optical performance than the f/3.5 version, and along with its speed, makes it the preferred choice for astrophotography, landscapes, cityscapes, and street shooting, especially in low lighting conditions. The f/3.5, on the other hand, has the smaller size advantage, as well as the unique 1:2 maximum magnification for close-up shooting, compared to the more average 1:6.7 magnification and 9.7" minimum focusing distance of the new f/2 version. The 90mm f/2.8 DG DN and the 24mm f/2 DG DN contribute to making the I Series a more versatile designation within Sigma’s DG DN lens lineup and signal a clear push at making lenses that appeal to a wider range of shooters. Rather than focusing on the fastest and most technically perfect lens designs possible, Sigma is focusing on giving shooters practical choices and usable options that prioritize the experience of shooting. What are your thoughts on the latest I Series releases? Do you have any experiences with Sigma’s other I Series lenses? Are you a fan of these more pragmatic releases or do you favor the all-out f/1.4 and faster lens designs? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 08/04/21
Sigma is breaking new ground once again with the release of the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens. This is the first Sports-series lens built specifically for full-frame mirrorless cameras and is also the longest DG DN lens currently available from Sigma. It’s an ultra-telephoto zoom built with refined optics, updated handling features, and a revised form factor that is lighter and smaller than the past SLR-intended versions of this same lens. As the first lens carrying the Sports moniker, this lens is a statement piece as Sigma sees its lineup transcending the fast and distinct primes the company is best known for; this is a super tele-zoom with the speed and optics required for sports and wildlife shooters. 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens You may be thinking “Sigma already has a 150-600mm lens. Wait, they already have two, and one of them is a sports lens… how’s this one different?” The key is in the DG DN suffix in the lens name, which indicates this lens has been built from the ground up specifically for full-frame mirrorless cameras, namely those with Sony E and Leica L lens mounts. Beyond just some additional letters in a name, though, this lens has a new, more advanced optical configuration that caters to mirrorless designs and higher-resolution sensors and does so in a more compact package. It has a new autofocus system, too, and some updated handling aspects, including zoom torque adjustment and customizable function buttons for more intuitive control. Regarding the optics, this new lens has a denser 25-element/15-group layout that includes six low-dispersion glass elements to suppress color fringing and chromatic aberrations through the zoom range. The glass has also been optimized to maintain sharpness at both ends of the zoom range, and the wide-angle end offers a close minimum focusing distance of 1.9' for more versatility. Sigma also states that bokeh quality was a major concern during the redesign of this lens, and smooth out-of-focus areas with natural compression are a hallmark of the new optical system. Additionally, flare and ghosting are also well-controlled due to a Super Multi-Layer Coating that promotes high-contrast, color-accurate rendering when working in strong light. Beyond the optical improvements, one of the other noteworthy changes this lens brings is an updated autofocus system. Now catering to mirrorless cameras instead of SLRs, this lens’s focusing performance is quieter and smoother to suit photo and video recording needs. The AF system uses a stepping motor in conjunction with a magnetic sensor that helps accurately guide the focusing lens over greater distances to keep up with subject tracking at great working distances. Also helping to achieve sharp imagery is an OS image-stabilization system that compensates for up to 4 stops of camera shake, making it easier to use this lens when shooting handheld. Two different stabilization modes can be selected on the lens barrel, and OS modes can be customized on the L-mount version of the lens, via the optional USB Dock. This USB dock also lets L-mount shooters create customized focusing range limits and assign other functions to the three AFL buttons on the lens barrel. Also unique to L-mount users, this lens is compatible with optional TC-1411 1.4x and TC-2011 2x  teleconverters for extending the zoom reach even farther. Optional USB Dock (left), TC-1411 1.4x (middle) and TC-2011 2x (right) Teleconverters As a Sports-series lens, Sigma clearly intends for this lens to stand up to the tough conditions and fast-paced shooting environments you’d expect while photographing sports or other fast-moving subjects. As such, the lens features a dust- and splash-resistant barrel with rubber seals at the lens mount and around the focusing and zoom rings and the cover connection points. An oil- and water-repellent coating has also been applied to the front element to resist droplets and to make cleaning the lens easier. In terms of handling, the lens has a dual-action zoom design, which lets you change the zoom position either by rotating the zoom ring or by push-pulling the barrel to the desired point. Zoom ring torque can also be adjusted to suit your handling preference or just to lock the ring in place to avoid unwanted creeping. The lens is built from Sigma’s distinct Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) materials and aluminum to present a lightweight-but-durable build, and it’s delivered with the removable Arca-type compatible TS-121 Tripod Socket for direct mounting on tripod heads. The 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports is Sigma’s first Sports lens and is a great example of borrowing from its older SLR designs and updating them for a more contemporary mirrorless workflow. Compared to the 150-600mm Sports lens designed for SLRs, this new DG DN lens is 1.6 lb lighter and more than an inch shorter—pretty impressive for a lens that also contains more sophisticated optics, faster AF performance, and still touts a durable, weather-sealed build. Tech Talk: The NEW Sigma Sport 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Ultra Telephoto Lens The B&H Event Space brings you the latest photography news from Sigma. Sigma Pro photographer Liam Doran and Sigma’s own Aaron Norberg discuss what’s on the horizon in the Sigma lineup and get all your questions answered live by our pro panel. They also discuss the latest Sigma lens, the Sigma Sport 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Ultra Telephoto Lens, perfect for wildlife and sports photography. What are your thoughts on Sigma’s first Sports-series lens? Do you have a need for a long-reaching telephoto zoom for your full-frame mirrorless system? Let us know your thoughts on this new, long lens in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 06/28/21
Enter the retro-cool and featured-packed Nikon Z fc camera! Lovers and fans of Nikon are certainly familiar with the company’s rich history, and it is difficult not to get excited when the camera’s design team breaks out a brand-new digital camera with a look and feel that harkens back to the days of the Nikon film photography era and its line of 35mm cameras that set a photographic standard for decades. While it looks like it rolled fresh off of the Nikon FM2 production line, the new Z fc is a DX-sensor (APS-C) digital powerhouse with all of the features and specs you’d expect from a modern digital camera. The Nikon Z fc is the newest member of Nikon’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens Z line of cameras. The Z fc’s APS-C sensor sports 20.9MP and is powered by the Nikon EXPEED 6 processor. ISO range goes from ISO 100-51200 with expandability up to 204800 when needed. Video shooters can enjoy 4K recording at 30 fps using the full sensor—no cropping. Slow-motion videos at 120 fps in HD 1080p are also available, as is 4K time-lapse shooting for up to 8 hours. The Z fc also features 20 creative shooting modes for those looking for some extra fun and magic in their shots, as well as human and animal eye-detect autofocus modes. The Z fc’s USB-C charging and data port allows for tethered shooting, external powering of the camera, and battery charging. This allows you to shoot stills and videos well past your battery life as long as you are plugged into power. Also, the camera is ready to be your next awesome webcam with speedy USB-C data transfer and a built-in microphone jack. The last time Nikon went retro it was with the Nikon Df camera—still available—that paired the D4’s full-frame sensor and processor with a retro design—even down to the non-italicized Nikon logo—a nice touch, and a feature seen on today’s new Z fc, as well. Riding atop the Z fc’s body are separate dials for dialing up shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation. A digital readout shows your selected settings so you can read them all before you bring the camera to your eye. In incorporating the retro look with the Z fc, the DX sensor allowed the package to stay small and easily portable. Weighing only 14 oz, the camera features a 3" Vari-Angle LCD screen that flips out and faces forward for vlogging and selfie fun. The OLED electronic viewfinder clocks in at 2360K pixels, and the camera has a full Wi-Fi feature suite for transferring files or allowing the camera to be controlled remotely. Being released along with the Z fc is a matching silver version of the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, the smallest and lightest Z-mount lens available—weighing just 4.8 oz. Its 24-75mm full-frame equivalent field of view makes it a perfect all-purpose lens. This silver version is also available with the camera as a kit. Another addition to the Z-mount DX lineup is the new Nikon Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR —the Z DX version of the “all-in-one-zoom.” With an equivalent focal length of 27-210mm that takes you from wide-angle to telephoto, this is an ideal travel companion to the Z fc and other DX Z system cameras. Also available with the Z fc is a Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 Special Edition lens that is a non-DX lens, suitable for full-frame Z cameras while giving Z fc shooters the normal field of view of a 42mm full-frame lens. With the Z fc, Nikon brings a balance of features and tech to the DX side of the Z-mount system with the added flair of a beautiful retro design. What are your thoughts on the new camera’s design and features? Let us know in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 06/28/21
When it comes to wide-angle photography, pushing the envelope even further, Canon has just released a new versatile wide-angle zoom for its full-frame mirrorless system: the RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM. Compared to more traditional 16-35mm zooms, this lens gains a bit on the wide end for an even broader field of view, while still maintaining a sleek profile, constant f/4 maximum aperture, and the optical and physical design qualities you’d expect from an L-series lens. Canon RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM lens This zoom is an ideal all-in-one option for landscape, nature, and architectural photographers, covering a variety of wide-angle focal lengths to suit various subject types and sizes. The constant f/4 maximum aperture aids this range, too, and contributes to a smaller, lighter-weight design that balances performance and portability. Additionally, somewhat unique among ultra-wides, this 14-35mm lens sports an Optical Image Stabilizer mechanism that compensates for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, or up to 7 stops when paired with cameras featuring IBIS, for super-stable and sharp images when shooting handheld. As an L-series lens, advanced optical construction is de rigueur, and specialized elements correct for a variety of aberrations to ensure high sharpness and accurate color rendering. Both Sub-Wavelength (SWC) and Air Sphere (ASC) coatings have been applied, too, which reduce flare and ghosting for high contrast and color fidelity when working in strong light. Just like other L-series RF lenses, this zoom incorporates a Nano USM into its workings for smooth, quick, and quiet focusing performance that complements video and photo workflows. A minimum focusing distance of just 7.9" yields a maximum magnification of 0.38x, too, that is ideal for creating unique close-up shots with extended depth of field. The RF 14-35mm f/4L IS USM also sports a programmable control ring at its base for settings control, features dust- and weather-resistant construction, and comes with the matching EW-83P lens hood. This lens slots into Canon’s RF lens lineup as a more compact and lighter weight wide-angle zoom option than the impressive RF 15-35mm f/2.8L IS USM. Sure, the slightly older 15-35mm has the obvious advantage of f/2.8 vs. f/4, but the new lens features the slightly wider 14mm vs. 15mm wide-end focal length. In terms of dimensions and weight, the 14-35mm f/4 measures 3.3 x 3.9" and weighs 1.2 lb compared to the 15-35mm f/2.8, which measures 3.5 x 5" and weighs 1.85 lb. The new lens gains a noticeably sleeker profile and slightly wider field of view by sacrificing just one stop of speed. What are your thoughts on Canon’s newest wide-angle zoom? Do you prefer this smaller and wider 14-35mm f/4? Or are you a fan of the speedy 15-35mm f/2.8? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/27/21
To some, there’s little that's more perfect than the fast 35mm prime lens. It’s a staple focal length in any lens lineup and a go-to lens for many photographers working in a wide variety of genres. It’s an important lens for Sigma, and the company has just released its latest iteration, with the  35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens. Available for L-mount and Sony E mirrorless systems, this lens is a fresh take on the popular focal length, featuring a wholly new optical design, a new focusing mechanism, and a trim, lightweight build. Considering how much Sigma has updated with this lens, you might be hard pressed to believe it’s Sigma’s fourth 35mm lens for mirrorless cameras. It’s been nearly a decade since Sigma reorganized its lens lineup, updated its optical and physical designs, and coined the Global Vision Series. This announcement, in 2012, came with the introduction of the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens—this fast wide-angle prime was the very first lens of the now-revered Art series of high-end lenses, and is still one of the most popular lenses from Sigma today. No doubt this lens still holds its own, but Sigma has recognized that it’s becoming a bit long in the tooth, specifically because it was designed and released for use with SLR cameras. Now that mirrorless is king, Sigma saw the opportunity to update this flagship of sorts with the all-new, fully revised 35mm f/1.4 DG DN lens. Flowering trees make the perfect subject to show off the shallow depth-of-field control of the f/1.4 lens. So, with this all-new design, what exactly does the new DG DN version of this prized lens bring? The updated optical layout includes two SLD elements, one FLD element, and two aspherical elements—in short, this just means that chromatic and spherical aberrations are well-controlled, sharpness is nothing short of hugely impressive, and colors are accurate, clear, and punchy. A Super Multi-Layer Coating is used, too, which is a technology carried over from the past but, nonetheless, still manages to keep contrast high in various lighting conditions. It also features an 11-rounded-blade diaphragm, for that smooth bokeh you know you want, and a minimum focusing distance of 11.8" for working with close-up subjects. The 35mm focal length is great for spontaneous captures of a couple of curious visitors at the Botanical Gardens. In terms of physical changes from Sigma’s past 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, this is where the new lens stands on its own. To begin, the DG HSM version was built with SLRs in mind, but later introduced for use on Sony E and L-mount mirrorless cameras by including a mount adapter. It was a working solution but added unwanted length and weight to the lens to make up for the difference in focal flange distances between mirrorless and SLR cameras. This DG DN version of the 35mm f/1.4 has been created specifically for mirrorless cameras (hence the brand-new optics) and no longer has an unnecessarily long or weighty build. Using the lens’s close-focusing capabilities and fast aperture to highlight the punchy colors from spring flowers. Among other differences, this new 35mm lens also sports a stepping AF motor, which moves just a single focusing element, to achieve fast, quiet, and precise focus performance. Compared to an HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor), the stepping motor is smaller, quieter, and better suited for the smaller dimensions of the lens, as well as the multimedia usage more associated with mirrorless shooters. Additional differences relate to handling, including a manual aperture ring that can be de-clicked, a programmable AFL button, and a smaller and lighter-weight form factor.   Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Aperture Range f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.2 to f/16 f/2 to f/22 Optical Design 15 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 2 SLD, 2 aspherical) 13 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 4 SLD, 2 aspherical) 17 elements, 12 groups (3 SLD, 3 aspherical) 10 elements, 9 groups (1 SLD, 3 aspherical) Focusing System Stepping motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Stepping motor Minimum Focus Distance 11.8" 11.8" 11.8" 10.6" Lens Controls AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch Aperture ring Aperture Blades 11, rounded 9, rounded 11, rounded 9, rounded Filter Size 67mm 67mm 82mm 58mm Dimensions 3 x 4.3" (L-mount) 3 x 4.7" (L-mount) 3.5 x 5.4" (L-mount) 2.8 x 2.6" (L-mount) Weight 1.4 lb (L-mount) 1.7 lb (L-mount) 2.4 lb (L-mount) 11.5 oz (L-mount) You’ll notice the chart isn’t just comparing the new 35mm f/1.4 to the old 35mm f/1.4, and that’s because the 35mm lens is a popular option for Sigma. Oddly enough, the 35mm f/1.4 is the third option specifically designed for mirrorless cameras and is going to sit in the company’s DG DN lineup as the all-arounder 35mm. It’s lighter but slower than the super-fast 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art and a bit heavier but faster and more optically refined than the sleek 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary. In my opinion, the 35mm f/1.4 encapsulates most of the allure of the f/1.2 version, but is a lens that's easier to handle since it’s shaving off a full pound of weight in exchange for being just a third of a stop slower. Compared to the f/2 Contemporary lens, this is a more debatable point for me, and it really boils down to how lightweight you want to keep your kit or how valuable the bright f/1.4 lens is. The f/2 is also an I-series lens, and has the more distinct-looking exterior, whereas the f/1.4 lens has the typical Art build that’s more functional than aesthetic. Using the wide-angle field of view to show off space, distance, and scale. I got to spend a few days with the new 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art and took time to enjoy the spring weather by visiting some of the more scenic areas in the city, as well as the Botanical Garden. Interestingly enough, when I reviewed the 35mm f/1.2, I also took that lens to the Botanical Garden, and when I reviewed the 35mm f/2, I took that to a similar riverside area. With that information in the back of my head, it helped to figure where the in-between f/1.4 version fits into Sigma’s lineup. It’s certainly much more enjoyable to carry around for a day of shooting than the f/1.2, but it does lag a tiny bit in its ability to isolate subjects against busy backgrounds. Compared to the f/2, the f/1.4 lens really feels like a different kind of lens. It puts you in a different mood that is a bit more structured and less off-the-cuff. Borrowing from what I said about the f/1.2, “I found myself wanting to treat this 35mm lens a bit more like an 85mm. Because of its ability to separate subjects from backgrounds quite easily, I started shooting with it in a method where I would pick on very specific elements of a scene and let the rest fall slightly out of focus.” With the 35mm f/2, I seldom used it at f/2; with the 35mm f/1.4, I liked to shoot at f/1.4 because it offers a unique and desirable effect and quality. The 35mm focal length is a flexible focal length for working in tight or cramped spaces, such as beneath a tree, while maintaining a very natural and broad field of view. After using the 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art, I can see why Sigma wanted to make this lens, but it also leaves me wondering and surprised that the company hadn’t done this earlier. It feels like such an important piece in Sigma’s lineup, given the popularity of the HSM version, and is much more built for daily use than the more niche f/1.2 lens. Beyond the comparisons and seeing how it slots right into Sigma’s already well-versed 35mm lineup, this lens offers pretty much everything you’d expect from a 35mm f/1.4. It’s a comfortable wide-angle lens with a fast maximum aperture, advanced optical design, and is weather-sealed. It’s exactly what you want it to be, it has few frills, and it is really just built to be that lens you maybe don’t think is so special but for some reason you keep turning to time and time again because it’s just so good. One more flowering tree shot to show off the sharpness of this lens and the shallow depth of field of an f/1.4 maximum aperture. What are your thoughts on Sigma’s bevy of 35mm lenses? Are you excited for this new Goldilocks f/1.4 version or have you already settled on another version? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/13/21
Continuing to round out its full-frame mirrorless system, Canon has just launched a trio of RF-mount prime lenses that contribute to this maturing and expanding system. Focusing on the long end of the focal length spectrum, Canon is introducing a fresh take on the popular 100mm f/2.8 macro option, as well as releasing 400mm and 600mm super-telephoto primes for the sports and wildlife crowd. As might be expected, all three lenses are L Series primes, indicating their optical excellence and durable physical designs. Also, in a surprise move, Canon has revealed the development of the EOS R3 —a brand-new full-frame mirrorless model designed to sit between the R5 and 1D X Mark III. More details on the R3 are coming soon but you can read about what we know right here on Explora. The RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is the first true macro lens for the RF system and is the natural follow-up to the beloved EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens for SLRs. Taking the same short-telephoto focal length but upping the maximum magnification beyond life size, to 1.4x, and shortening the minimum focusing distance to 10.6", this new close-focusing prime also features a unique SA (spherical aberration) Control Ring. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens A new feature for Canon, this control ring provides the opportunity to fine-tune bokeh rendering: At one end, images have smooth and blurry bokeh and at the other, imagery takes on a more prominent ring-shaped bokeh. Beyond the optics, this lens has been fitted with an Optical Image Stabilizer, which corrects for up to 5 stops of camera shake, or up to 8 stops when used with a compatible camera body featuring IBIS, and the lens also features a Dual Nano USM focusing system for smooth, responsive, and silent AF performance. © Creative Soul © Creative Soul © Dennis Prescott © Dennis Prescott © Rebecca Nichols © Rebecca Nichols Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens sample photos For sports and wildlife shooters, nothing beats a fast and long-reaching telephoto prime, and this is where the RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM fits in. It’s a versatile focal length with an impressively bright design and uses trusted technology and a proven optical design comprised of fluorite and Super UD glass. In fact, if you were a fan of the EF 400mm f/2.8, there’s a lot of similarities between these two lenses; optically, they’re identical, and physically, the lens has just been updated for the RF mount. Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens The Optical Image Stabilizer compensates for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system yields snappy AF performance and works with programmable AF preset buttons for faster performance. It’s compatible with the RF 1.4x and 2x Extenders and works with drop-in 52mm screw-in filters. © Tyler Stableford 2x Extender © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford 1.4 Extender © Tyler Stableford Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens sample photos Even longer is the RF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens, which adds a respectable amount of reach, compared to the 400mm, while being just one stop slower. Cherished for working with smaller or even more distant subjects, this super-telephoto is a choice lens for birders, wildlife shooters, and some sports applications, too. Like the RF 400mm, this 600mm gets its optics from its EF 600mm f/4L predecessor, including the fluorite and Super UD glass that helps it achieve impressive sharpness, clarity, and color accuracy throughout the aperture range. Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens The lens has been updated for the mirrorless RF mount and features an Optical Image Stabilizer to compensate for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system offers quiet and quick focusing performance. Both super-teles also sport a rotating tripod mount with a removable foot, both accept the same 52mm drop-in filters, and this 600mm also has the same dust- and weather-resistant exterior for use in harsh weather. © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens sample photos What are your thoughts on Canon’s latest RF-mount lenses? Have you been waiting for any of these telephoto options for your RF camera? Let us know your thoughts on Canon’s new lenses, in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/12/21
Ever the exciting combination, FUJIFILM has announced the latest high-speed, wide-angle prime: the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. This 27mm equivalent prime is designed for the APS-C-format X Series and blends the versatile everyday wide field of view with an impressively bright design for working in low light and for controlling depth of field. In typical FUJIFILM fashion, too, the lens also features a compact, weather-resistant exterior, a quick linear AF motor, and intuitive tactile controls. This will be the second 18mm lens in FUJIFILM’s lineup, although it’s a very different type of lens compared to the f/2 pancake version. This 18mm f/1.4 is focused on speed, and the bright f/1.4 aperture is a valuable tool for working in difficult lighting conditions while shooting handheld. Another distinction from the 18mm f/2 is a more advanced optical design; this new f/1.4 version has three aspherical elements and one extra-low dispersion element to correct a variety of aberrations that minimize distortion while boosting sharpness and color accuracy. In terms of focusing, this wide-angle lens features internal focusing, controlled by a linear AF motor, affording quick and quiet performance suitable for stills and video. A minimum focusing distance of 7.9" suits working with close-up subjects, and the lens is also fitted with a manual focus ring and a manual aperture ring for intuitive tactile control. Despite not being quite as small or pancake-shaped as the 18mm f/2, this 18mm f/1.4 is still an impressively sleek lens, measuring 3" long and weighing just about 13 oz. It has a weather-sealed exterior and is also freezeproof for working in temperatures down to 14°F. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR? Are you in need of a fast, general-use wide-angle lens? What types of subjects would you photograph with this lens? Let us know, in the Comments section below.
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Posted 03/23/21
Hot on the heels of its latest G Master lens, Sony has just announced three new compact primes in its G Series lineup: the FE 24mm f/2.8 G, FE 40mm f/2.5 G, and FE 50mm f/2.5 G. Adopting many of the advanced design features of their larger siblings, the trio delivers exceptional optical performance in a form factor perfect for everyday carry. Although created for full-frame E-mount cameras (hence the FE designation), their compact build pairs nicely with APS-C models where the 24mm becomes 36mm, 40mm becomes 60mm, and 50mm becomes 75mm. Priority was given to making these lenses small, so that they won’t take up much space in your camera bag, and light, so they won’t weigh you down while shooting. Consequently, each lens measures only 1.8" in length and weighs between 5.7 and 6.1 ounces, depending on the model. All of the lenses incorporate aspherical elements to combat aberration and distortions, as well as extra-low dispersion glass to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberration. A seven-bladed circular aperture helps achieve smooth, round bokeh. Complementing the versatile focal lengths of the new lenses are minimum focusing distances that benefit close-up capture: The 24mm allows you to get as close as 7.1" (manual focus) / 9.4" (autofocus), the 40mm can get 9.8" (MF) / 11" (AF), and the 50mm can focus as close as 12.2" (MF) / 13.8" (AF). Each lens features two linear motors to provide quick and responsive autofocusing for still capture, and quiet performance when recording video. The physical design of the new lenses incorporates some of the most useful features of Sony’s top-tier lenses. The aperture ring can be adjusted in 1/3-stop increments, or de-clicked via a switch on the side of the lens barrel for video applications. An auto/manual focus mode switch is incorporated for moving quickly between focusing modes or fine-tuning focus. Finally, a customizable focus hold button can be used for its namesake or reassigned, based on user preference. All of the lenses boast a sleek aluminum design that is dust and moisture resistant, adding to their appeal as everyday carry options. Settings are engraved into the lens barrel, presenting both an aesthetically pleasing touch as well as adding to the durability of the lens. What do you think of Sony’s latest G Series lenses? Which of Sony’s mirrorless cameras do you think would pair best with them? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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