Thursday, May 23, 2013

"M" is for Mystery!

Leica has released a new chart showing a new camera, called the Leica Mini M, that falls between the full-sized, interchangeable lens Leica M and the petite, fixed lens X2, which in the chart is also labeled the Micro M. And the D-LUX6 is called the Nano M in this chart. Nothing is really said about the new camera, other than its placement in the Leica scheme of things. So here is where I will speculate and I really don't know anything of substance, so this is strictly guessing on my part. The Mini M could be Leica's version of the Micro 4/3s cameras, a small, interchangeable lens system camera with its own new range of lenses, though if it was M 4/3s that would be cool. Another proprietary lens mount would not be cool. Or it could be an all-electronic version of an Leica M camera, along the lines of the Fuji X-E1, with an internal electronic viewfinder, that still takes regular Leica M-mount lenses and maybe still has a full-sized sensor. It could be smaller than the full-sized Leica M, but still take advantage of the Leica glass. This could be fun, too. But of course, what do I know? Only time will tell. Leica's formal announcement of the new camera will happen on June 11th.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photo Topics From Around the Web

There are a few things being posted around the web that are of interest and here they are:

Instagram is one of those things that people seem to either love or hate, and I fall on the side of loving it, and PetaPixel has published a list of ten Instagram users that are worth following. The list includes a National Geographic photographer and even General Electric. You can see them here. By the way, PetaPixel is a great website and one that I regularly follow.

Lately, Adobe and Photoshop have been the subject of much gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes because of their decision to only offer future versions of Photoshop as downloads as part of their Creative Cloud. No CDs to buy from here on out. Since I signed up for Creative Cloud late last year, this wasn't all that big of a deal for me, but I can see how it might upset others. So, Digital Photography Review has put out an article called, "10 Photo Editing Programs (that aren't Photoshop)." They include programs like Lightroom 4 and Photoshop Elements 11, which is something of a cheat, since they are both Adobe products, but there you go. They also showcase programs like ACDSee Pro 6 and Photo Editor, Aperture 3, and DxO Optics Pro 8, and several programs that I'm not real familiar with. There are even some free programs like GIMP that are included in the article. For several years I've been using Lightroom for RAW image processing and Photoshop for image editing and printing, and don't feel a need to shake things up, at least for now. But you can read the article here.

And finally, if you run on Mac and use Canon DSLRs, Kuuvik Digital has a new program called Kuuvik Capture for tethered shooting. It has a lot of neat features and definitely looks more usable and flexible than Canon's own Utility program for tethered shooting. The price starts at $79.99 and that price is good through June 30, 2013. You can see and order Kuuvik Capture here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fotodiox Debuts New LED Light

Photographic lighting has undergone several changes over the years. The first lighting was based around tungsten bulbs. Then quartz lighting proved to be more stable with less color temperature fluctuations. Then electronic strobes took over most of still photography, especially in the studio, and that seemed to solve most of the problems that photographers faced when using artificial lighting. With flash, they had short exposure times with adequate depth of field at low ISO ratings. Seemed ideal, but a funny thing happened when photography started to include movie making with digital HD-SLRs. Now flashes didn't work at all and the search was on for better lighting sources for video and filmmaking. For a while, florescent lighting was used, and still is a little, but then LED lighting was tried and that proved to be a significant innovation.

With LED lighting, you could have fairly bright lights that could compete with quartz lighting in terms of output, but LEDs were radically cooler. And by this, I mean that the lights remained cool to the touch. The main handling problems with high wattage tungsten and quartz lighting is that the light housing could heat up so much that you couldn't safely touch them after you were finished using them. You had to wait several minutes before they were cool enough to touch without burning yourself. LED lights don't heat up like this.

Until now, most LED lighting consisted of flat panels of LED bulbs arranged in a tight grid. And petty much what you saw was what you got. There were little or no light modifications you could use with them. But now, Fotodiox has changed that with the introduction of their new LED light, the LED100WA. This is an LED light based around a strobe style housing and made to be compatible with standard Bowens flash accessories, like umbrellas, softboxes, barndoors, snoots and more. The LED100WA is rated at 600 watts and is available in either 5600K (daylight) or 3200K (tungsten) color temperatures. It will sell for $324.95, and it can be purchased directly from Fotodiox.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Olympus Pen Cameras

Olympus, even with their financial woes, has been stepping up their game in the last few years. And now they're introducing a couple of new cameras. The first is a mid-range model, the E-PL6, but the real news is a new top of the line PEN camera, the E-P5. It will be available in three colors, Chrome, White, and Black, and it has the same 16 MP sensor that the popular OM-D EM-5 uses. In fact, the E-P5 seems to compete with the EM-5 in a lot of ways. Both have all metal construction and five-axis image stabilization, but the EM-5 is weather sealed and has a built-in electronic viewfinder. On the other hand, the E-P5 is the current champ in focusing speed and includes built-in Wi-Fi. The E-P5 is a bit smaller, but that difference diminishes when you put the accessory electronic viewfinder VF-4 on the camera. The styling of the new E-P5 is an obvious nod to the original PEN half-frame cameras, which is nice. Looks like Olympus is still on a roll and being a long-time Olympus user, I'm glad they're still going strong. The E-P5 is a classy looking camera.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Zeiss Launches New Lenses

Zeiss is launching a new line of lenses for Sony E-mount and Fuji X-mount cameras. Called the Touit series, named after a small Central American parrot, the first lenses are a 12mm f/2.8 and a 32mm f/1.8. Known for their image quality and their impeccable construction quality, Zeiss is making a smart move in making lenses for these two camera formats. Both Sony, with its NEX 7 and NEX 6, and Fuji, with its X-Pro 1 and EX-1, are making serious in-roads into professionals' camera arsenals, much to the chagrin of Canon and Nikon, so having top quality lenses for Zeiss for these cameras is just going to make them even more desirable. I'm sure they won't be cheap, but serious A-level equipment seldom is cheap.

Sigma Lens gets Price and Availability

Sigma announced this lens a while back, the 60mm f/2.8 DN Art Lens, but now we have more info on it. It will carry a very reasonable price tag of $239 and will be available to buy starting in mid-May, which is just around the corner. The new Art series of lenses from Sigma stress sharpness and overall image quality, so that is why they are introducing so many fixed focal length lenses. The recent announcement of the 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens was an exception. The 60mm f/2.8 DN is made for mirrorless camera formats like Micro 4/3s and Sony E-mount. like the already available 19mm f/2.8 DN and 30mm f/2.8 DN lenses. For M4/3s, it will be equivalent to a 120mm lens and for the E-mount system, it will function as a 90mm lens. It's compact, sure to have exceptional image quality, and is inexpensive as well. What's not to like?