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A slightly opinionated overview of a very busy week in the world of photography
Photokina starts next week and while we won't be there due to the Jewish Holidays, we'll have one heckuva wrap-up when it's all over. In the meantime, here are some new goodies that were announced this week as well as other news ranging from controversial to silly from the world of photography.
Meet the Canon G12
Hot on the heels of Nikon’s announcement of an overhauled P7000 flagship system camera with HD Video, Canon rolled out the G12, which looks virtually the same as the G11 but adds 720p HD video, keeping it competitive with the Nikon model. Externally, a new control dial has been added to the front of the camera to give it a feel that is closer to operating a Canon DSLR. But other than adding video and internal HDR (the camera combines three bracketed exposure for single shot with a wider dynamic range), the G12 is more an evolutionary step.
As with its G-line predecessors, the G12 is compatible with wide-angle and telephoto extenders and Canon Speedlite flash units. Features that are retained from the G11 include: 10MP sensor, 2.8-inch flip-out LCD with 461K dots. 5x f/2.8-4.5 optical zoom lens that starts at 28mm (35mm equivalent), optical image stabilization, and an optical viewfinder. The Powershot G12 is expected in October for around $500.
Canon PowerShot SX30 IS: 35X optical zoom!
Canon’s just-announced SX30 IS distinguishes itself with its 24-840mm (35x) optical zoom lens, the longest stretch we’ve seen so far. A nifty Zoom Framing Assist button lets the user zoom out to find the subject and then quickly zoom in to snap the shot. A 14MP sensor and 2.7-inch flip-out LCD monitor are featured, and the camera is powered by a rechargeable Lithion ion battery instead of AA’s. The PowerShot SX30 IS will be available this month for $430.
50,000,000 Nikon Nikkor lenses sold
It’s been a heady couple of weeks for Nikon. What with the introduction of the P7000 on last week (covered in last week's special Wednesday Wrap) and the nearly-pro D7000 DSLR along with two new pro lenses, the 35mm f/1.4 and 200mm f/2, and a new mid-range flash unit that has already received a lot of positive comments, the SB700, on Wednesday (read our news coverage about these announcements), Nikon has earned the right to do some bragging. Like, for instance, that they’re celebrating the production of their 50 millionth Nikkor lens, a line that was introduced in 1959. They’ve come a long way since the Nikkor S Auto 5cm f/2!
Kodak adds one new film, subtracts two oldies
Amid all this digital hoopla, it’s nice to know Kodak has released a new film emulsion (tempered by the fact that it replaces two older ones). This week Kodak celebrated its 125th anniversary by announcing Kodak Professional Portra 400—yes, just plain 400, no letters after—which they say has the finest grain structure for a 400 color negative film. New features include Antenna Dye Sensitization in the cyan and magenta emulsion layers and Kodak Vision Film Technology, which Kodak says adds up to neutral skintones and accurate color reproduction. The film is said to use optimized Emulsion Spectral Sensitivity and Image Modifier Chemistry, proprietary DIR Couplers and Micro Structure-optimized T-Grain emulsions. Portra 400 replaces Portra 400NC and 400VC.
Will MILCs outsell DSLRs by 2012?
One bold prediction was overlooked by most of the press, but reported by the UK’s Amateur Photographer web site: When Samsung introduced its NX100 MILC camera a few days ago. SanJing Park boldly predicted that “mirrorless cameras will be the new locomotive of digital camera market…it will take over the SLR market in 2012 or 2013” and that sales of MILCs will grow tenfold in the next five years. Read the whole thing.
Sanho announces first iPad-compatible USB hard drive
Sanho’s HyperDrive line is an under-publicized but highly-respected line of portable mass storage units. With the introduction of the HyperDrive iPad Hard Drive, this might change for them in a big way. Boasting 750GB of storage space for HD Videos and hi-res images
Samyang unveils 35mm f/1.4 wide-normal-tele lens
Not everyone needs autofocus lenses. Korean lensmaker Samyang has just revealed a 35mm f/1.4 AS UMC manual focus lens that, at 35mm full frame, serves as a near-normal focal length when used on an APS sensor DSLR and a 70mm equivalent lens on a Four Thirds sensor camera. It consists of 12 elements in 10 groups, and uses a floating focus mechanism that they claim will improve image quality. It will be available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung NX, Sony Alpha, and Four Thirds mounts. Pricing and availability expected later this year.
Lastolite TriFlash Sync bundles multiple flashes
Say you need a LOT of flash power, and even one potato masher just isn’t quite enough. Lastolite’s solution? The TriFlash Sync. It lets you fire three flashes, all attached around one central unit via an array of dummy cold shoes. Now instead of one SB900, you can have three units firing at once and go crazy. Coming soon.
Sony a33/a55 + Sigma lenses = “issues” and fixes
We’ve just learned that Sigma lenses in Sony mounts, when used on the new a33 or a55 EVIL cameras, may cause an aperture malfunction and a “camera error” message will be displayed on the camera. The problem affects all current Sigma Sony mount lenses, but has been fixed for future models. Sigma is offering a free fix; contact your nearest authorized Sigma Service Station, which you can find on the Sigma web site.
Think Tank Sling-O-Matic
A new 3-bag line of sling-type camera bags has just been announced by Think Tank. Varying in sizes that can hold a pro DSLR with four to six lenses and (with the biggest bag) the ability to carry a 15-inch laptop, the cameras feature an adjustable, padded shoulder strap. Get details here.
Zeiss adds filters, camera strap to lineup
If you thought Zeiss was all about high-end lenses, think again. The German lens and camera maker has just rolled out a line of UV filters, polarizers and a new camera strap with air cell padding designed for DSLRs. The filters feature the same T* coating found on Zeiss lenses, and will be available in 58, 67, 72, and 82mm threads. But why a camera strap? It seems…random. “Good optics can be somewhat heavy at times,” says the press release, and the new strap is designed to take the pressure off photographers’ necks and shoulders.
iStockPhoto announces 35% commission drop
Microstock agency iStockPhoto, the Getty subsidiary which for better or worse has revolutionized stock photography with extremely low usage fees, is pleading poverty and reducing commissions paid out to contributing photographers, an act that has strted a storm of controversey and confusion. The original plan gave photographers a 40% commission, but iStockphoto claims now that this is an unsustainable business models. Within hours of the policy announcement, user forums were flooded with angry comments from photographers who, as iStockPhoto put it, will “have to bear the brunt” of this policy change. Some, however, will see an increase in commissions, according to iStockPhoto projections. Read the Royalty Change Follow Up and see if you can figure it out.
SDXC Cards Adding Speed Pins
One of the big knocks against the SD memory card format is transfer speed. CF cards can trasfer at 300 or even 600MB/s, and that’s a key reason why most pro DSLRs have CF slots and maybe a secondary SD slot. Now the SD Association has announced a new standard for SD, SDHC and SDXC cards that would allow for additional transfer pins that would speed up image transfer to as fast as 300 MB/s. That’s good, because the SDXC standard allows for the next generation of SD cards to store up to 2 Terabytes of information. Look for the new cards sometime next year. In the meantime, Toshiba and Panasonic have both announced SDHC UHS-1 cards with a maximum read speed of 95MB/s and write speed of 80MB/s, in 8 and 16GB capacities.
DxO Optics Pro has 99 new Camera/Lens Combos
DxO’s impressive library of camera/lens modules that are designed to correct optical and chromatic aberrations in digital images tagged to specific combinations of cameras and lenses via its Optics Pro software continues to grow. The company just announced 99 new modules for Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Pentax and Sony DSLRs and a variety of lenses including camera manufacturer and independent-branded lenses. Check out the list of new modules. Hundreds of new modules are in the works, according to DxO’s roadmap.
It's a twister! Got the pictures!
Before we get to our final product announcement (such as it is), a quick shout-out to the New York Times for its outstanding interactive presentation of citizen-journalist photos of damage caused by the severe thunderstorms and tornados that ripped through New York City last night. We've all seen what a tornado can do in suburban and rural areas but what happens when one visits Gotham? Check it out!
…and finally: A Lego Pentax?
Last week, Pentax announced the RS1000, a compact digital camera that has a removable, customizable front plate. This week we hear that one of the options (at least, in Japan) will a choice of front plates made out of Lego material! Will this ever make it to the US market? No word from Pentax.