Photo News of the Week: July 16, 2010

A round-up of the best of what’s new and interesting

We know what the big news in the world in general was this week: George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, died. But what’s new in the world of photography? Let’s do a quick look back at this week’s highlights…

Sigma SD15 Arrives At Last

Two years after it was first announced, the Sigma SD15 is finally here and is in stock. The 14MP DSLR, which is built on the unique Sigma Foveon X3 sensor (Sigma bought Foveon last year), will sell for a bit less than a grand, body only. The X3 sensor is unusual because it captures all primary RGB colors at every pixel location; photo detectors are arranged in three layers, and the result is stunning color.  It’s the same sensor that can be found in Sigma’s pair of compact camera, the DP-1s and DP-2x. Sigma has overhauled the processing engine and doubled buffer capacity for faster processing of large images (now you can shoot 21 RAW images in a row without interruption), and they increased the ISO range to 50-3200. The proof is in the images, and you can view sample SD15 shots on Sigma’s web site.

Look for our review of this fascinating camera soon.


Nikons in Space!

Very few cameras make their way onto the International Space Station. Recently Nikon sent up a D3s—with its max ISO of 104,800, it can probably produce stunning shots in the dimmed light of the space station interior—as well as three dozen Nikon lenses, seven SB-800 Speedlights and a bunch of specially modified D2’s. There are loads of pictures from the Space Shuttle’s April voyage and on the space station. You can even geek out and download the full-res images to your hard drive and check the EXIF data to see exactly which lens and camera were being used for any given shot, as well as the exposure and ISO. Go to the NASA web site to browse the many photos..
Nikon’s Annual Photo Contest

We love looking at the winners of the annual Nikon Photo Contest International. Many of the world’s greatest photographs are made with Nikons, and the Contest is an annual showcase of serious gourmet eye-candy. Since it started in 1969, the contest has drawn over 1.3 million photos submitted by 320,000 photographers. Now the 2010-2011 is underway, with the usual free-form subject category as well as a very timely category around the theme, Energy. Says Nikon: “Photos of any subject or theme are invited for the free subject category. Entries for the “Energy” category should be photos that capture the energy of sights and subjects that inspire, motivate or excite either the photographer or people who see the image.” 53 prizes will be awarded and will be announced in June 2011. Enter here.

Sony Enters Another Dimension

This week Sony introduced the WX5 and XT9, the world’s first compact cameras with 3D sweep panorama. Here’s how it works: In 3D mode, press the shutter release and move the camera from right to left. A high-speed burst will capture 15 frames, creating a 3-D style image that you can view on your 3D TV. What, you don’t have a 3D TV? Not to worry: The WX5 offers other neat features, such as full 1080i AVCHD movie recording, Intelligent Sweep Panorama, and Background Defocus (camera takes two shots in rapid sequence, then combines the two, identifies and blurs the background for a seemingly shallow depth of field). The TX9 offers the same, plus 10fps high-speed shooting, and a perescope-design internal-zooming 4x zoom that starts at the equivalent of a 25mm lens. The WX5 and XT9 are coming soon.

Samyang Rolls Out Lenses for Samsung NX Mount

The Samsung NX-10 is an innovative camera: It's the first Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Compact camera (MILC for short) to be built around a larger APS sensor (Until the Sony NEX cameras were announced, the rest were built around smaller Micro Four Thirds sensors). The problem with the NX-10 is the small selection of lenses, but thanks to another Korean photo gear maker, that's about to change. This week, Samyang announced that its 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, 14mm f/2.8 (above) and 85mm f/1.8 manual-focus lenses will be available in the NX mount. Expect indie lens companies to announce compatability with the next generation of short flangeback MILC mounts in the coming months and years as the category establishes itself.


Last Roll of Kodachrome Gets Souped

Dwayne’s Photo Service, in Parsons, Kansas, has distinguished itself for many years as being the only place where you could get Kodachrome film developed, but that’s ending soon, now that Kodak pulled the plug on the legendary emulsion. National Geographic’s Steve McCurry got the last roll of Kodachrome to come off the production line in Rochester, and shot several scenes around New York, reserving the last three frames to shoot in Parsons—all part of a project following the final roll of Kodachrome. Well, he processed the roll on Monday. If you have any undeveloped rolls of Kodachrome lying around, you better get them developed soon; Dwayne’s will shut down its Kodachrome processing line at the end of this year.

And finally…

Summer may not have reached the halfway point yet, but this afternoon marks the deadline for the AdoramaTV Summer of Fun Photo Contest, where you get to show off all the great things you’ve learned so far by watching AdoramaTV. Now it’s time for our judges to get to work. Stay tuned for the winners!


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