Sony announces trio of new alpha mount lenses, a new compact flash, and a wired remote commander.

Availability for these new products has only been announced for Europe (March 2013), rest of the world is TBA

Sony Press Release: 

Full-frame G Lens 70-400mm telephoto zoom; Full-frame Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4; DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 standard zoom; compact add-on flash and remote commander. . . . read more

Nikon D600 vs Canon 6D Epic Shootout Comparison by Michael Andrew

Epic indeed, the introductory scenes are shot with a Canon 5D Mark III. Michael Andrew, A.K.A Michal the Maven, A.K.A Michal the Mentor is very careful in his review not to offend fanbois of either camp: 

"This is my long awaited review of the Nikon D600 vs the Canon 6D in an Epic, side to side shootout testing some of the most important aspects of the two cameras. As I mention on the video, these are 2 very different cameras. D600 is better as an "all round" camera, the 6D excels in low light (wedding photographers are going to love the 6D). You can check out the Crash Course DVDs I have for both cameras on my products page, they are available both as DVD & immediate download: http://www.michaelthemaven.com/products/ . . . read more

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens Review by Bryan Carnathan at The-Digital-Picture.

Bryan is very impressed by the macro mode this lens provides:

"Canon has been turning out impressively-performing zoom lenses recently and I was quite excited to see a repeat performance from this lens. After evaluating three retail-purchased copies of this lens, here are my observations. With a wide open f/4 aperture: At 24mm, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS USM Lens is very sharp in the center with good sharpness extending to the periphery of the full frame image circle. The 24-70 f/4 L IS gets very slightly softer at 35mm and modestly softer yet (especially in the mid and peripheral image circle) at 50mm f/4 where the lens performs its worst. Sharpness improvement by 70mm . . . read more

Nikon D5200 review by Ken Rockwell: "The D5200 is an excellent camera that weighs next to nothing"

I'll refrain from any comments this time, after all, Ken's reviews DO have a school of followers. His lens of choice for this review is the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX and he provides some full-ress image samples too:

"The Nikon D5200 is a swell little camera, but I wouldn't pay $800 for a D5200 when I can get the pretty much identical Nikon D5100 new or refurbished for about half price as of the beginning of 2013. I don't see anything significant to make it worthwhile to throw more money at the newer D5200 if you can still get the D5100 instead, but if you want the newest, sure, the D5200 is a great camera.

. . . read more

Sony RX1 vs Canon 5D Mk III with Sigma 35mm f/1.4 sharpness comparison at the Photography Blog

Can't really understand the narrow focus or the scope of this comparison, but it is an interesting one, not many people get to have their hands on both these lenses at once :)

"The sharpness tests for this review were carried out using a real-world subject rather than a test chart. Both the Sony RX1 and the Canon EOS 5D Mk III DSLR / Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens were mounted on a sturdy tripod. The camera's self-timer mode was activated to avoid camera-shake. Tonal and colour variances across the crops are due to changes in natural light during the session. Centre sharpness is very good from f/2.8 onwards on both the Sony . . . read more

Canon EOS 6D in-depth review at DPReview: Despite the silver lining, in the end it is only worthy of a silver award.

I've read the review twice, and mostly agree on its conclusion. There's a red line when it comes to cutting corners, and Canon has crossed it many times. Not that they care, the 6D will still sell like hot cakes, especially during the discount rushes. Review done by Amadou Diallo and Andy Westlake: 

"The EOS 6D ticks off many of the things an APS-C DSLR owner could want in a full frame upgrade: great image quality, excellent handling, light weight and a sub-$2100 price tag. The challenge for Canon, of course is that the 6D does not exist in a vacuum. It faces very stiff competition from the Nikon D600, which for the same price boasts a slightly higher resolution sensor, a more robust AF system, dual card slots, built-in flash (which can act as a wireless flash commander) and weather-sealing comparable to the much more expensive Nikon D800. . . . read more

The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD excels at the DXO Mark bench: "When mounted on a Canon 5D Mark II, the Tamron SP 24-70mm F2.8 Di VC USD achieves an overall DxOMark Score of 24, the 2nd highest score in our database for a high-speed zoom."

So, the Tamron manages to closely match such expensive and optically well endowed lenses as the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L USM II, and the Nikkor 24-70mm G ED, both costing around the 2 grand mark in every major western currency:

"The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD is in the top three best performing high-speed standard zooms currently available. We’ve only looked at the imaging performance, but it’s as impressive optically as the highly regarded Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8G ED. At $1,299 it’s not cheap but it is competitively priced – to improve on the image quality you would have to spend $1,000 for the sublime Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM. Dropping down . . . read more

Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens review at Camera Stuff Review

Ivo Freriks tests the lens with a Canon T4i/650D Dslr body, and discovers that these two make an excellent combo, especially when video shooting comes to play:

"Optically, the Canon 18-135mm zoom lens STM is slightly better, but not much different than its predecessor. The main differences of this review compared to the Canon 18-135 mm review that we have previously published, is the improved performance for chromatic aberration and vignetting. And these improvements are caused by the in-camera lens corrections made by the Canon 650D. . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Review by Mark Goldstein at the Photography Blog: Premium build, optics, and price. Weight too.

Mark tested the lens with a Nikon D4 full-frame Dslr body.

"The lens' sharpness is excellent at most focal lengths and f-stops. Edge sharpness is also commendably good, only requiring stopping-down to f/5.6 to get acceptable results. Distortion is well-controlled, chromatic aberrations are only really conspicuous by their almost complete absence, and the lens exhibits pleasingly rounded bokeh thanks to the 9-blade aperture. All in all, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR delivers great results throughtout its zoom range. So the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4G ED VR offers a versatile focal range, fast maximum aperture, well-implemented Vibration Reduction system, fast auto-focus and excellent build quality and weather-proofing. Sure, it's big and heavy, but it does offer a compelling combination of versatility, durability . . . read more

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM at the DXO Mark bench: The ideal standard zoom?

Maybe, but under two conditions: You cannot/will not afford the superior EF 25-70mm f2.8L II, or you have forgotten that the 24-105mm f4L IS USM also exists:

"The overall DxOMark score of 19 shows this is not one of the best lenses tested, but there are some areas where it is remarkably good for a zoom lens. Taking the overall DxOMark score of 19, we can see that the lens is not an especially high performer in terms of overall image quality. However, looking at the scores in detail, we can see where the lens fall down. . . . read more

Pentax SMC DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 SDM zoom Lens Review at EPZ: "This lens does perform well at shorter focal lengths, but the lack of sharpness at the telephoto end my be enough to put many prospective purchasers off this lens"

Pentax smc DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 SDM lens review and comparison

Every superzoom lens is a super compromise, especially at the tele-end of things, and this one ain't the exception. Gary Wolstenhome uses a Pentax K-5IIs camera to review the lens, and provides plenty of full sized samples to back up his claims:

"Lenses that cover high zoom ranges such as this lens are always a bit of a compromise. However, this lens does perform well at shorter focal lengths, but the lack of sharpness at the telephoto end my be enough to put many prospective purchasers off this lens. Even so, when used within its limitations it is still more than capable of producing decent results. If the convenience of having one lens that covers all situations is the most important consideration, then this could be the lens for you." . . . read more

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM scores high at the DXO Mark test, but finds it hard to dethrone the Sigma f1.4 from the 35mm seat.

If weather sealing was added to Canon's package I'd say it had a fair chance against the Sigma, but as it stands now, its main trumph card is only the smaller size/weight. 

"Attached to a Canon EOS 5D MKII it ranks 4th overall and 2nd for wide-angle primes, just behind the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM A, which at a similar cost offers the same focal length, a wider f/1.4 maximum aperture but no Image Stabilization. You can read our DxOMark review of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM here.  . . . read more

First Look at the new Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 DC Macro HSM 'Contemporary series' lens at the Sigma blog.

The new Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 DC Macro Contemporary Lens review

Sigma's spectacular first entry in the 'Art series' family of lenses was the fabulous 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, a lens that took the photographic community by storm. Having now set the bar very high, can the company repeat the success with the (soon to be released) comparatively cheaper and lower spec'd​ 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 DC Macro HSM​? Jack Howard​ writes:

"On APS-C cameras, the lens translates to about a 26-112mm zoom, which is a great everyday range for wide angle shots without significant perspective distortion, to short telephoto for flattering portraits. For the exact focal length equivalence, multiply your camera’s sensor format (1.5 to 1.7) times the focal lengths. . . . read more

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM Lens Review at Ephotozine: The EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens offers excellent sharpness and good build quality, but at a high price.

The lens was tested by Gary Wolstenholme with a full frame EOS 6D Dslr body:

"With this lens, Canon have produced something that performs very well indeed, but then you would expect that for the asking price. It may be questionable whether or not having image stabilisation available at this focal length really is a killer feature, as it will really only be of use for photographing static subjects, unless motion blur is required for creative effect. With alternatives that have a faster maximum aperture being available for the same, or slightly more money, it does make it difficult to see the value in this lens. If the price drops as supply of the lens settles down, then it will make more sense in Canon's lens line up. . . . read more

Nasim Mansurov reviews and compares the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR and AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lenses.

Nasim uses a D800E as a test body:

"As you may already know, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II was a disappointment for some photographers, because it suffers from a “lens breathing” optical design, where the focal length of the lens varies depending on subject distance. At close distances, the 70-200mm loses quite a bit of the range, which can be a problem for those of us that like to fill the frame with small objects. The Nikon 70-200mm f/4G VR does not have this problem – I measured its focal length and it was exactly 70-200mm, no matter how close or far I focused. Its optical formula is similar to that of the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 . . . read more

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens Review by Andrew Alexander at SLR Gear: 'Performance at 50mm was unacceptable, even after we had to go through 3 copies of this lens to find the best one."

Another day, another review, and another case of a bad copy lens, an issue I too was confronted with time and again when i bough expensive Canon Glass in the past. Canon L=Lazy quality control? 

"Canon made a smart decision to offer a lower-priced alternative to its 24-70mm ƒ/2.8, in order to give Canon shooters of the more casual or economical nature a way to stay true to the brand name. Unfortunately the lens' performance at 50mm stands out as unacceptable, especially when you consider the lower-priced option here still costs $1,500. Coupled with the fact that we had to seek out the best version to get even these results, this does not breed confidence in the lens. . . . read more

Battle of the bokeh: Kai W checks out the full frame 35mm royalty, and some models too.

After Top Gear gets canceled, because of Jeremy's nth remark for verbally abusing minorities/foreigners/the Welch or whatever, I hope we'll see Jezza and Kai doing a Top Photo Gear program together, with explosions, tanks (lots of optics in these nowadays) and even more explosions!

Back to reality now, this time Kai gets his hands on the crème de la crème of 35mm lense$: The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L USM, and the underdog that ate them all for breakfast, the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM:

"The Battle of the Bokeh is back and we're looking at some fast 35mm lenses from Canon, Nikon and Sigma with the Canon 35mm 1.4L, Nikon 35mm G AF-S. This time, however, it's up to you to vote, and the video shows you the results of the blind-bokeh test. Which lens has the best bokeh?"

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM with inbuilt 1.4 teleconverter hands-on review by Joshua Holko.

This is the second Canon lens to employ a built-in converter, after the FD 1200mm f5.6 that debuted way back at the Los Angeles Olympics. I wonder why Nikon did not resort to such a solution for its new 800mm f/5.6 lens, since the size of the dedicated 1.25x converter is truly diminutive in comparison to the lens body anyway. Back to the Canon 200-400mm, that has got to be one of the most expected pro lenses from Canon in ages, Joshua finds it to be very sharp wide open, 'at least as sharp as the EF 300mm f2.8 L IS lens, or even the EF 400mm f2.8 L IS lens.

The lens is a pre-production model, and it is mounted on a 1DX body, but at these huge lens sizes its rather the other way around. Kudos to Canon if that will be proven in a more controlled testing environment. Furthermore, we get to see the 1.4x converter in action, and Joshua finishes the review by assuring us that a 2.0x tele converter CAN be used with this lens, with only a minimal sacrifice in image quality, producing a 1120mm f8.0 max tele range!  . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII review at Camera Stuff Review: This is an absolute winner. It is a mechanically very solid lens, meeting the highest optical standards at all focal lengths and apertures.

Ivo Freriks tests the lens with a Nikon D800E Dslr Body:

"The resolution of this lens is amazing. On a D800E (on which the performance of the lens comes out very well), we even scored over 3500 line pairs per picture height at maximum aperture at all focal lengths. You do not come across this often. The corners remain behind a bit at f/2.8 (well - 1500 LP/PH is still a very good result) but already after stopping down 2 stops, you get above 4000 LP/PH. This lens draws sharper than many professional fixed focus lenses!" . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 G ED VR lens review at PhotoZone: An excellent lens that performs on a very high level, but Nikon should have included the tripod collar.

Markus Stamm tests the lens with a Nikon D3X Dslr body:

"The Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4 VR is an excellent lens that performs on a very high level. Resolution is generally excellent in the image center and very good at the borders and corners. Distortion is a bit on the high side at the long end of the zoom range, while vignetting and CAs are well controlled. The bokeh is quite smooth. The build quality is excellent, it's a bit annoying though that Nikon does not include the tripod collar with the lens. Thanks to a silent-wave drive the AF is silent and very fast. The new third-generation VR module is impressive and works very well. Which in summary means: a highly recommended lens." . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED macro lens review by Ming Thein: '...of all of the lenses I own, it’s the one that’s been with me the longest"

Ming Thein mostly uses this lens with the Nikon D800E Dslr body:

"I actually don’t have much to say about resolution and optics: what do you expect? It’s a macro lens. There’s almost zero distortion or field curvature, and nothing funny going on with the focal plane. Sharpness is already excellent at f2.8, though with the D800E you’ll probably have to go to f4 or f5.6 to hit peak resolving power across the frame. Note that diffraction softening will set in by around f13 or so with the D800E; I try not to go past f16 unless I absolutely have no choice. That said, you can get away with f22 on the 12MP FX cameras if you need to.

Something I’ve been asked in the past is why I don’t use the 105/2.8 VR instead for greater working distance; the answer is that for the kind of work I do, the 60 actually holds several advantages. Firstly, I don’t need as many extension tubes to achieve higher magnifications*; secondly, the lens itself has . . . read more

Wide-angle head-to-head: Sigma 14mm f2.8 EX Aspherical HSM vs Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/15 comparison at DXO Mark

This is a two-in-two test, the DXO Mark labs check out the Zeiss lens performance difference between Canon and Nikon mounts (5D Mark II vs D3x) and then pits the Zeiss versus the Sigma: 

"In DxO Mark’s testing the quality of the Zeiss lenses over the Sigma lens is very clear. A DxO Mark score of 17 for the Sigma lens is an OK score for a lens with this extreme wide angle: there are few wider corrected lenses on the market to cover full frame 35mm so if the lens were considered in isolation the score might possibly be accepted as a reasonable consequence of the focal length. However, when you look at the other lenses in this category the score does not look quite as good. Zeiss on the other hand have a shining DxO Mark score of 23 for their Nikon version, the highest for any lens of 20mm or wider with a Nikon FX mount (the Canon version scores a creditable 21). The Zeiss lens is much more expensive, nearly 4 times the price of the Sigma, so there will . . . read more

System Camera Production increased 34% in volume, 43% in value during 2012, compact camera production shows further decline.

japan system camera production increased during 2012

A few notes: These numbers come from CIPA, Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association, and as thus, production numbers from China and Korea are not included. However, seeing the onslaught of Chinese branded digicams in markets everywhere, my guess is that China's compact camera output has not declined at all, and since Samsung's latest earning report stated a slight volume increase too, the Cassandras predicting the imminent demise of the compact camera segment can just pack up and go home. Also, the biggest increase in volume occurred in Europe, maybe photography is a good outlet for austerity related stress :)

Chris Cheesman at Amateur Photographer reports:
Production of interchangeable-lens cameras rose 34% in 2012 and shipments of lenses broke through the 30 million unit mark, Japanese trade figures have revealed. But total digital camera shipments – including compacts – dropped 15%, according to Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA).

. . . read more

Canon EOS-1D X Firmware Version 1.2.1 now available for download

From Canon:

Canon has announced that a firmware update for its flagship EOS-1D X DSLR (Version 1.2.1) is now available for download. See below for details of the exact firmware fixes and improvements. Firmware Version 1.2.1 for the EOS-1D X incorporates the following improvements and fixes: 

1.The function to disable the Image size selection button has been added.
2.Fixes a phenomenon in which Err 70 and Err 80 may occur in very rare  instances depending on the camera settings or shooting scene.

Nikon D5200 camera review at Trusted Reviews: The D5200 is a worthy addition to Nikon’s APS-C DSLR range that borrows some features from the more expensive Nikon D7000 to bring additional functionality to a smaller and more affordable model.

"Given the high pixel count, we were especially interested to see how the D5200 performed at high sensitivity settings. The good news is that it handles luminance and colour noise commendably. It’s not until you push beyond ISO 800 that you begin to notice traces of noise creeping in to images, and then only when they’re viewed at 100%. ISO 1600 and 3200 are both perfectly useable too, as is ISO 6400, although you will need to move the luminance noise reduction slider to 35 within Adobe Camera Raw. If possible it’s best to steer clear of the extended settings; chroma noise becomes more obvious at ISO 12, 800 while ISO 25,600 also has an adverse affect on edge sharpness.   . . . read more

Canon develops feature upgrade for the EOS-1D C, adds 25p recording at 4k resolution.

Canon Press Release

Canon develops feature upgrade for the world’s first 4K DSLR, the EOS-1D C

London, UK, 30 January 2013 – Canon today announces the development of a new feature upgrade for the ground-breaking EOS-1D C. The upgrade has been developed taking into account feedback from the European professional video community, and adds support for 25p recording at the camera’s maximum 4K resolution.  . . . read more

Pentax K-5 II vs K-5 IIs side-by-side shootout by John Riley at EPZ: "Removing the AA filter lends an incredible clarity to the detail in images. Shoot carefully on a tripod, use good lenses and the benefits will definitely be worth it."

So, removing the AA filter does have a big impact on the picture clarity and resolution. How big of an impact? Check out Johns' full sized side-by-side image samples, they give a pretty good idea on the difference. 

"This was clearly an interesting proposition and I was keen to see for myself what difference, if any, the removal of the AA filter would make. The conclusion was quite obvious as soon as the images were examined. Removing the AA filter lends an incredible clarity to the detail in images. Shoot carefully on a tripod, use good lenses and the benefits will definitely be worth it. Architecture, landscape, still life, studio work, all will benefit from the IIs variant. However, to be fair, the II . . . read more

Canon EOS 6D Review by Ben Pitt at Expert Reviews: "Flawless image quality at a tantalising price, but the basic autofocus won't suit everyone"

"Video picture quality trailed behind the D600, though, and it can't begin to compete with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3. Details in the 6D's videos appear pixel-sharp but direct comparisons reveal much finer details in the D600 and GH3's output. Video autofocus is as slow and clumsy as it has always been on Canon SLRs, and there's no headphone out to monitor the microphone while recording.

Most people who are contemplating spending £1,500 on a camera will be upgrading from a cheaper or older SLR. In many respects the 6D is very similar to the 5D Mark II but with significantly lower noise and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. However, Mark II owners will be much better served by the 5D Mark III, which makes for a much more substantial upgrade. . . . read more

Nikon Announces 2 new FX lenses, the exotic ultra tele AF-S 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR and the modest AF-S 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED ultra wide zoom.

Neither lens was a complete surprise, the 800mm was spotted by some eagle-eyed connoisseurs back at the London Olympics, and the 18-35mm lens saw its picture and spec list posted on the net many days ago. No word from Nikon if the 800mm monster is part of the Nikkor 80 years celebration theme. The lens will come bundled with a 1.25x tele converter, the AF-S Teleconverter TC800-1.25E ED, designed to work exclusively with the new 800mm lens. I wonder why they didn't incorporate the converter into the lens in the first place. Talking about firsts, the usage of 2 fluorite elements in the 800mm lens is one such feat. . . . read more

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VRII zoom lens review at Camera Labs: The Nikon 70-200mm f2.8G VR II is the professional version of a 70-200mm zoom with a large aperture, a very good performance and a build to last.

Thomas reviews the lens with a Nikon D800 Dslr body.

The Nikon 70-200/2.8G VR II delivers very good overall performance throughout the zoom-range with a graceful decline in sharpness/contrast in the corners. But nothing that a little stopping down can't heal. Mount it on a DX-body and it delivers a flawless performance from f4.0 with very high sharpness and contrast at all apertures. Its resolving-power also makes the lens quite a good match for a tele-converter should you need to reach beyond the 200mm focal length. Combined with image stabilization, a fast and reliable AF, and a large constant f2.8 aperture that can cut exposure times in half for fast moving action shots or deliver shallower depth of field effects, a robust body, and weather-sealing this lens is the tool of choice for the pros. . . . read more

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