B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of March 24, 2024

B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of March 24, 2024

This week was a busy one with a few lenses, a few firmware updates, and some other categories garnering newsworthiness. Of particular note is Nikon, with the release of an even more comprehensive all-in-one zoom for Z-mount: the NIKKOR Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR Lens. Sigma went for speed with the 50mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Lens for Sony E and L-Mount. While no new hardware arrived this week, Sony released some serious firmware updates for the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, and a9 III.

Be sure to check out the other news sections this week―there are some cool releases there, including a new version of the Ricoh GR III and a Tamron lens that is now available for Nikon Z.

Nikon takes the all-in-one zoom even further, with Z 28-400mm lens

All-in-one zooms are popular because they can serve as the only lens you will ever need. Nikon is making that even more true with its latest—the NIKKOR Z 28-400mm f/4-8 VR Lens. This lens goes beyond the usual, with an extreme 400mm telephoto zoom, but still encompasses the wide side at 28mm. That range does demand a variable aperture of f/4-8, although with this design, Nikon has managed to keep the size relatively compact to make it well suited to everyday carry.

All-in-one zooms are loved because they can often be the only lens you need. The 28-400mm, in particular, accomplishes this with an even longer tele range than most we have seen before. With a 400mm maximum zoom, you will be able to get exciting close-ups of practically any everyday activity, such as heading to an amusement park, shooting local wildlife, or documenting your child’s soccer game.

Since it is a lot of focal length to squeeze into a single lens and still keep the size reasonable, Nikon opted for an f/4-8 maximum aperture range. This makes it better suited to bright, sunny days but more limited in low-light applications.

Versatility goes beyond just the focal length and aperture, however, and Nikon has made sure its functionality is broad, as well. The minimum focus distance is as close as 7.9" at the wide end for getting great close-ups and it has a built-in Vibration Reduction image stabilization system that will compensate for up to 5.5 stops of shake.

If you have been looking for the ultimate all-in-one lens to cover all your needs, I think it’ll be hard to find anything better than this 28-400mm.

Sigma’s second f/1.2 prime is a 50mm Art for Sony E and L-Mount

Ultra-fast primes comprise a fun world of lenses, and the dreamy depth-of-field effect they can create can’t be matched otherwise. Sigma is now releasing its second ultra-fast premium optic: the 50mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Lens for Sony E and L-Mount. This lens has a large aperture while remaining the smallest and lightest in its class and promising the usual image quality we expect from an Art lens.

Physically, the 50mm f/1.2 is just barely larger than Sigma’s own 50mm f/1.4 and is smaller and lighter than similar f/1.2 lenses. If you look at Sigma’s 35mm f/1.2 you will see that the 50mm is much smaller, with almost an inch of length shaved off and more than 12 oz of weight reduced. This lens shouldn’t be a burden in your bag.

Optically, the f/1.2 is designed for high sharpness and minimal distortion. Sigma’s Art line has been delivering on this front for years. As for depth of field, the f/1.2 is certainly doing a lot of the lifting here, but Sigma has used a 13-blade aperture diaphragm for the first time to guarantee round, smooth bokeh.

Sigma has used its latest High-response Linear Actuator (HLA) motors for fast, responsive autofocus, has a 1.3' minimum focus distance, and a dust- and moisture-resistant barrel to round out the lens’s feature set.

It’s looking like a great ultra-fast lens for mirrorless shooters.

Sony releases major firmware for the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, and a9 III

Sony always has a few tricks up its sleeve, and today we are seeing one, with the release of major firmware updates for the a1, a7S III, a7 IV, and a9 III. These are all full-number updates, indicative of some serious changes. Among the more interesting additions is the implementation (in a limited capacity) of Sony’s Camera Authenticity Solution. This is a newer function that we first saw implemented on the Leica M11-P.

Content Authenticity is an important topic in today’s world. With the proliferation of easy-to-use editing tools, including AI, it is nearly impossible to determine the veracity of an image simply by looking at it. The Content Authenticity Initiative and C2PA are hoping to establish standards that allow imaging tools to create secure metadata that enables independent verification, effectively confirming an image’s provenance and guaranteeing for the viewer that what they are looking at is indeed genuine.

Sony has developed its own C2PA-compliant workflow, and this firmware update rolls it out for all four cameras mentioned. One note is that, to unlock the license, you will need to be a part of a limited number of news and media organizations. This serves as a sort of open beta before an assumed wider rollout to the general public.

Beyond the Content Authenticity, the a1 and other cameras received a long list of other upgrades. Check out our original announcement for those details because we are going to focus on a couple of highlights here, beginning with the a7S III.

The a7S III is the video-first mirrorless in Sony’s Alpha series, although it has been somewhat overshadowed by the FX line in recent years. One feature it didn’t have, compared to the cinema options, is DCI 4K and true 24.00 fps. That has finally arrived for the a7S III in V3.00. This should make it even better suited to professional filmmaking environments and as an additional camera in a larger production.

The a9 III, while the firmware isn’t technically out yet, is getting a nice tweak that will unlock even more potential of its revolutionary global shutter. The upcoming V2.00 update allows the camera to shoot continuously at the camera’s maximum shutter speed of 1/80,000 second.

The a7 IV is getting a smattering of small features, including the Content Authenticity technology, that keeps it in line with Sony’s flagship mirrorless cameras.

The firmware for the a1, a7S III, and a7 IV is available to download today, while the a9 III is coming “after April,” per Sony.

In other news…

Stay tuned for more news! NAB is quickly approaching so there will be some exciting stuff coming soon.