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A slightly opinionated look at what’s new this week in the photographic universe
After last week’s announcements from Sony and Canon I did a bit of digging and wrote a couple of articles about the history and impact, of the Sony a55 and Canon 60D. What else is new in the world of photography? Plenty! Read on…
Attack of the Indie Quickie Lenses
In an effort to distinguish themselves from name-brand competitors, some offbeat lensmakers are building optics for speed. Zeiss this week introduced a super-fast Distagon T* f/1.4 35mm lens, boasting “special Bokeh effects” and anti-reflective coatings, the lens will carry a hefty $1,843 pricetag. This follows Voigtlander’s announcement of a fast moderate-tele 75mm f/1.8, following up on the 25mm f/0.5 lens that Jack wrote about last week. The price for the 75mm, which comes in an M-Mount for Leica rangefinders, will cost 75,000 yen, which is a little under $900 in the U.S. Cosina, which makes Voigtlander lenses, also announced that it has joined the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group, which means they’ll be making lenses for Olympus and Panasonic MILC and EVIL cameras soon.
Counter-Attack of the Name Brand Lenses (Instant Rebate Alert!)
Showing what good values they offer, Nikon and Canon have almost simultaneously announced instant rebates on some of their most popular camera/lens combinations.
Nikon announced a $400 instant rebate on its 12-24mm lens when purchased with either the D300s or D700. Use this link for the D300s and this link for the D700 for even more instant rebate savings—up to $1,100—when buying either model with the 14-24mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm lenses.
Canon, for its part, announced an extensive rebate program on combinations of certain DSLRs when mixed/matched with a choice of among 14 lenses or Speedlites, with savings of $50 to $280, depending on the lens/camera configuration. Check out the deals on the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, EOS-5D Mark II, or EOS 7D to find the instant savings. This deal ends on Sept. 11.
Apple Shuffles iPod Line
Apple shrank the Nano, again. That’s just one part of what Apple unveiled this week in its annual Septemberfest of new product announcement. The Nano is now about the size of a Compact Flash card, has a touch-sensitive screen, built-in FM tuner and has a handy clip so you can clip it to your clothing, your ear, whatever, and go. Apple also announced the latest iPod Touch which features a higher-resolution (960x640) display, a front-facing lens so you can watch people as you’re chatting with them and they can see you (yes, there’s video chat!). Finally, Apple announced iTunes 10, with its own social network so you can discuss and share movies, TV shows, Podcasts, and music with friends.
The big Tamron lens anniversary give-away
To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Tamron is giving away a lens a day for 60 days. This started on Wednesday and will continue until October 30. They’ll be giving away SP-70-300mm Di VC USD tele zoom, an 18-250mm Di II All-in-one Zoom, $60 certificates for future Tamron lens purchases, magazine subscriptions, and a special anniversary T-Shirt. You need to live in the US and sign up for the Tamron newsletter. Go to Tamron’s web site to sign up. www.tamron-usa.com
Signs of Things to Come from Sony?
Hot on the heels of its announcement of a pair of pellicle-mirror DSLRs last week, Sony sent out a press release announcing that it will boost production of its back-illuminated Exmor CMOS image sensors. (That’s the Sony Semiconductor factory in the photo.) Back illuminated technology is supposed to improve low-light sensor performance. Keep in mind that Sony makes sensors for cell phones and stand-alone digital cameras made by other companies, as well as for its own line of compact cameras and DSLRs, so this announcement may have a wider impact on digital camera image quality that goes beyond the consumer electronics giant’s product line.
Olympus: Black E-P2 Kit, New Lightweight Zoom Lenses
Olympus this week rolled out a sleek black version of its E-P2, kitted with the 17mm lens and FL-14 flash, plus a pair of serious zoom lenses in the Micro Four Thirds Mount. The Zuiko ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 ($899; 150-600mm equivalent in 35mm) is, according to Olympus, the world’s smallest and lightest zoom to reach 600 (although they needed a smallish aperture to achieve that goal). It weighs 15.2 ounces and is a mere 4.57 inches long. The other new lens is the 40-150mm f/4-5.6 ($299; 80-300mm 35mm equivalent), weighing in at only 6.7 ounces. Olympus says this lens is a good complement to the Digital Pen 14-42mm kit lens, and that both lenses focus a rear-focus mechanism for nearly silent operation, a good thing if you’re recording HD vids.
Lots of Camcorder news: Samsung, Panasonic, Canon, JVC and Sony
The Camcorder elves were busy this week. Samsung announced the eye-catching HMX-T10, featuring a 20-degree slanted lens which, the company says, promotes more wrist-friendly camera holding. Vid capture is full HD, and the $299 camera has a 10x optical zoom and can capture 4.7MP stills. Panasonic announced that its full HD pro 3D camcorder, the AG-3DA1, along with a 25-inch 3D production monitor, is shipping. The AG-3DA1 ($21 grand) has a lot of image processing muscle, with has dual lenses, a pair of full 1080p 3-MOS imagers to record at as much as 60 fps in AVCHD.
Canon announced a pair of pro camcorders, the XF105 and XF10. Both can record at continuous or variable bit rates, and are capable of 25, 35, or 50Mbps and up to 1080p at 60 frames per second. Both models use the Canon XF Codec and are capable of shooting stereo. The cameras will be available early next year.
On the lower end of the Camcorder food chain, JVC announced two Picsio pocket-sized camcorders (right) that can record full 1080p/30fps videos. One of ‘em, the WP10 ($200), is waterproof. The FM2 ($180) offers the same features but can’t go underwater. Both models will be available this month. Sony introduced the Bloggie Touch (left), a touchscreen-operated camera that actually seems as intuitive as it sounds. Features include 12.8MP still capture, pop-out USB plug, HDMI jack, and not much else. The pre-launch buzz from the tech ‘zines is very good. $180-200.
AdoramaTV Summer of Fun Photo Contest Winners Announced!
Congratulations to Dennis Ramos, whose photo of a model and aspiring actress named Brooke was chose as the winner of the AdoramaTV Summer of Fun Photo Contest by Bryan Peterson. You can see all 17 winners on the AdoramaTV flickr page.
Speaking of photo contest entrants, you can help long-time Adorama friend Frank Fakinos to win the National Geographic Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest with his amazing photo of a solitary hiker on a glacier in Chile. Go to this page to cast your vote!
Programming note: Since Adorama will be closed next Thursday and Friday in observance of the Jewish New Year, there will be no Weekend Wrap next week. I know, you're crushed. We’ll see you in two weeks with a Pre-Photokina special edition!