The end of October brings Halloween and the beginning of the holiday season. B&H has just launched our Holiday Head Start along with a series of Holiday Shopping Guides. And with two big announcements from Canon and Apple this week, we still have product launches to discuss.
Canon took point on the photo and video side of things with the release of three very different and very interesting RF lenses, including the first 24-105mm with a constant f/2.8 aperture, a relatively affordable 200-800mm super-telephoto zoom, and a compact RF-S 10-18mm lens for APS-C cameras. Apple claims the other significant spot in this week's slate of updates with the launch of next-gen M3 chips. These new processors will first be available in the 24" iMac, as well as in a fresh line of MacBook Pros.
Canon shows off three exciting RF-mount zoom lenses
Three more RF lenses are on the way! Canon had some fun this week with a trio of releases that cover three completely different use cases—and a couple of them are unique. The RF 24-105mm f/2.8 L IS USM Z is a world's first and supports an optional Power Zoom Adapter, the RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM is a relatively affordable white super-telephoto zoom, and the RF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM is a compact ultra-wide for APS-C systems.
World's-first lenses always take first billing, and that makes the RF 24-105mm f/2.8 the most interesting release this week. Normally, you'll find this zoom range with a typical f/4 aperture, but Canon has been pushing into faster apertures with its standard zooms, first with the 28-70mm f/2 and now with the 24-105mm Z.
I'm not going to lie: the 24-105mm f/2.8 is a big lens. It is closer in size to a 70-200mm than your usual standard zoom. It isn't inexpensive either, with a $2,999.00 price tag. However, the opportunities that are open to you—having the faster f/2.8 aperture in such a versatile zoom range—makes those downsides seem more or less insignificant. Optically, this lens is going to be a top performer with Canon's latest imaging tech. Plus, image stabilization will keep things smooth, while a Nano USM AF motor will keep your target in sharp focus.
Let's take a second and talk about that “Z” in the name. This represents the lens's ability to support the new Power Zoom Adapters. The 24-105mm f/2.8 is going to appeal heavily to videographers. Canon even included a stepless aperture ring for smooth exposure control during video. Add the power zoom adapter and you have a cinema-ready kit.
If you want to have a bit more fun, you might want to check out the RF 200-800mm f/6.3-9 IS USM Lens. I'm not sure about you but, for me, big white lenses are always exciting. This one is a bit unique in that it is more affordable than you might expect for a super-telephoto zoom—it'll run you $1,899.00. Not cheap by any definition but more in reach than Canon's L-series options.
Getting an 800mm with autofocus, image stabilization, and quality optics isn't easy, so it is encouraging to see Canon making it a real option for more people. Obviously, part of its accessibility comes from the use of a relatively conservative f/6.3-9 maximum aperture range. This does have the positive effect of creating a smaller, lighter lens that weighs only 4.5 lb. Affordable telephotos has been a good trend from Canon, and I'm excited to see more.
Finally, we have the only APS-C lens on this list: the RF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM. This continues another recent trend from Canon to equip its ultra-wide zooms with image stabilization. The 16-29mm equivalent range is very practical for everyday shooting, as well as vlogging and selfies.
The lens is very small and should be a perfect fit for the newer APS-C cameras, such as the R50. If you want a good fit to cover your ultra-wide needs, then this is looking to be it.
Next-gen Apple M3 chips land in refreshed iMac and MacBook Pro lines
In what seems like a very short time frame, Apple has leaped into its next generation of processors, with the launch of M3 chips. The tech giant also went nearly all the way with this release, showing off the base M3 alongside the M3 Pro and M3 Max. You can get your hands on these faster systems by picking up a refreshed 24" iMac or MacBook Pro.
Obviously, these chips show some notable speed improvements over the past generations. To get more technical about it, this has to do with a move to a brand-new 3-nanometer process, allowing for more transistors to fit on the chips and, therefore, improving speed and efficiency. Compared to the M1 family, the M3 chips can be up to 2.5x faster during rendering, offer 30-50% improvements in CPU performance, and a 60% boost to the Neural Engine.
Specific to graphics applications, the M3 family also benefits from a new technique called Dynamic Caching and has hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading. The GPU is what received the biggest bump in performance in this generation, which should be great news for creatives. In other good news, the Neural Engine's improvements should help with AI and machine learning tasks, which can benefit tools like Topaz's noise reduction and super resolution, as well as Scene Edit Detection in Premiere Pro and Final Cut.
We could spend all day talking about all the changes with this family, but it is once again a great time to be shopping for a new computer. Let's talk about the available options.
Starting with the easier one, we have a refreshed 24" iMac. It is as colorful as ever and just as slick as the original M1-equipped model. Apple leapfrogged the M2 in this model but left the rest of the computer untouched. Basically, if you want a new everyday computer for the family or light work then the iMac will fit in perfectly. Now, you just get the added speed and performance benefits of the latest M3 chip.
The rest of us will probably find the M3 MacBook Pros to be a bit more interesting. Apple took this opportunity to retire the 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and replace it with a revamped 14" model equipped with the base M3 chip. This means the new starting point for the MacBook Pro is going to deliver huge improvements in terms of functionality and features beyond just a speed boost.
If you are looking for the more “pro” MacBook Pro models, then you are likely looking to step up to the 14" and 16" models equipped with the M3 Pro and M3 Max. These configurations still look the same as the past generations, but you can now get them in a new Space Black finish. Again, I'm not going to spend loads of time getting into specific improvements because they are mostly performance based—the M3 models are faster than the M2 and M1 chips and they absolutely destroy any Intel®-based Mac.
While you shop for a new computer, you may want to keep a few things in mind. If you are coming from an Intel®-based Mac, you will see significant improvements in performance. Just upgrade. If you have a current M1 or M2 Mac you will see some changes, but unless you are feeling your computer getting sluggish with certain applications, you likely don't need to jump up to the M3 generation yet. I'd even still recommend picking up an M1 or M2 Mac today if you can find it for a good deal, since the performance is still quite excellent.
If you need help shopping for your next Mac, then please feel free to leave a comment, below, or contact our expert sales staff online, over the phone, or in the B&H SuperStore.
In other news…
COLBOR isn't yet a household name in lighting, but the CL60R LED Light is looking like a great new offering. Here's our hands-on review.
See you next week!