Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Photographer Daniel Beltra Wins Prestigous Award!

Daniel Beltra was awarded second place in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which is jointly sponsored by the Natural History Museum in London, England, and the BBC Worldwide. Daniel won for his work for Greenpeace documenting the building of the Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River in Brazil, which will displace up to 40,000 indigenous people and destroy untold amounts of rainforest and biodiversity. Daniel was born and raised in Spain and now calls Seattle, Washington, home. He has made this his life's work, being a witness to and exposing the damage and destruction that people have brought about in the world, even as he frequently puts his own life at risk. Congratulations, Daniel, and keep up the good work.

Monday, October 14, 2013

New Stuff From Sony and Sigma!

The rumors have been flying around the Web that Sony was going to introduce a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera system, similar to their NEX cameras, and that's what they've done. Sony has just announced the A7 and the A7r. The A7 will have a 24 MP sensor and the A7r will sport a 36 MP sensor with no anti-aliasing filter for maximum sharpness. Both models will have a built-in OLED EVF finder. The cameras will feature a tiltable LED screen, focus peaking, and weather-sealing. The cameras will accept current NEX APS-C lenses, though some vignetting will occur, and Sony will also offer an adapter so you can use full frame lenses from their regular full-frame cameras. The A7 body will sell for $1698 and the A7r body will sell for $2198.

Sony will also introduce a handful of new lenses for the cameras: a Zeiss FE 24-70mm f/4 OSS, a Sony G 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS, a Zeiss FE 35mm f/2.8, a Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8, and a Zeiss FE 70-200mm f/4 OSS. This promises to be an exciting new system for pro photographers. Full frame images with smaller cameras and lenses. What's not to love?

And finally, Sigma is introducing a new lens, the 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art lens. The Sigma Art lenses emphasize image quality and sharpness, so this will probably be a lens to check out. It will have a fairly large filter size of 82mm, which means that they will have more room to play with in refining the optics for maximum effect. The physically smaller the lens, the less room you have to correct for optical problems. This lens will compete directly with the Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS L lens and it will be interesting to see how they compare. No word yet on its price.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zeiss Introduces a New Normal!

Something interesting has happened to lenses and cameras. It turns out that high-pixel-count digital sensors are a lot more demanding of their lenses than the needs of film ever were, and for most camera companies, their latest camera sensor's resolutions have blown past the ability of their lenses to resolve fine details. In other words, new lenses need to have much higher resolution to match the needs of the digital sensors in the current cameras, not to mention the sensors of the future. For instance, when Nikon introduced the D800 and D800E, they also published a short list of their lenses that would best work with these two cameras. Not all Nikon lenses have the resolving power to take advantage of this new 36 MP sensor.

So this means that lens manufacturers are going back to their drawing boards, or CAD programs, and inventing entirely new lens designs that are able to resolve image details like never before. And Zeiss is one of those companies. Zeiss has created a new lens called the Otus 55mm f/1.4. It's fairly big for a "normal" lens, weighing more than 2 pounds, but it does have 12 elements in 10 groups, so there is a lot of glass in there. Resolution has been optimized across the field of view, even at the open apertures and at any distance. The mechanical construction has been brought to its highest possible standards. Zeiss' goal with this lens was to create the highest quality lens in the world. Only time will tell if they succeeded.

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens will be available in Nikon and Canon mounts and will sell for just under $4000, which makes it one of the world's most expensive normal lenses. By the way, Otus is the Latin name for a type of owl that has excellent night vision.