B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of October 8, 2023

B&H Photo News Roundup: Week of October 8, 2023

B&H is back from break and, if you like lenses, we have great news for you. Nikon has the biggest launch of the bunch with the NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S Lens. Its phase fresnel element makes this lens smaller and lighter than traditional super teles. Meanwhile, Canon went in the complete opposite direction with the RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM Lens, which is a smaller, lighter, and wider take on the extremely well received EF 11-24mm.

But it wasn't just about glass in recent weeks. Once again, Leica is joining the instant party with the SOFORT 2—a hybrid digital camera/instant film printer that looks like a lot of fun. Additionally, Sigma and Tamron have a few new lenses worth mentioning. I also touch on some other announcements at the end.

Nikon uses phase fresnel tech to make smaller, lighter Z 600mm lens

"Super telephoto" and "lightweight" are normally not terms you'd hear in the same sentence. Nikon is bucking that trend with its latest lenses, including the just-announced NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S. Using a phase fresnel element similar to the Z 800mm f/6.3, and a more conservative maximum aperture, you can get all the reach and quality you would expect from a premium super tele but at a vastly reduced weight and size.

The Z 600mm f/6.3 is 11" in length and weighs just 3 lb. Compare that to the 17" length and 7 lb of the Z 600mm f/4 TC. That aperture and built-in teleconverter make the weight a bit difficult to compare directly, but the length is an impressive reduction for the focal length.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/6.3 VR S Lens

Optically, the lens is as impressive as you would expect for a premium Nikon product. It also uses an STM motor for fast, smooth AF in stills and video and built-in VR for up to 6 stops of compensation.

I could write more about this lens, but if you are a wildlife, sports, or other photographer who needs this reach, you most likely already know if this lens is for you.

Canon makes the ultra ultra-wide: the RF 10-20mm f/4 lens

Heading to the exact opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Canon RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM Lens. The RF 10-20mm is reminiscent of Canon's EF 11-24mm, but with this new lens starting at just 10mm, it frames even wider—and when you are this wide, that 1mm makes a huge difference.

To put it another way, 10mm is about 1.5x as wide as a 12mm lens and twice as wide as a 14mm. That's crazy, especially since this is a rectilinear lens and not a fisheye, so you are getting those straight lines you need for things like architecture and landscapes.

Canon RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM
Canon RF 10-20mm f/4 L IS STM

The other major change in this lens is that it is much, much smaller than earlier ultra-wide zooms. It's definitely a better fit for slimmer, lighter, mirrorless cameras.

For an interesting upgrade, the 10-20mm offers image stabilization. Most wide-angle lenses ignore this function since it's a lot easier to handhold a wider shot than a telephoto shot. However, with how important video has become, and the nature of ultra-wide lenses to "wobble" at the extreme edges, this image stabilization is tuned for those aspects of this lens. It's a nice addition and will be interesting to see how well it does.

This is yet another wide-angle zoom option for Canon shooters that should make it easier to find the one that is just right for you.

Leica SOFORT 2 puts premium spin on hybrid instant film camera

How about something completely different? Leica had some fun last week when it showed off the SOFORT 2—a hybrid digital camera and instant film printer. A significant change from the last model, this one is a 4.9MP digital camera that allows users to choose and edit their photos before they hit print.

Leica SOFORT 2 Hybrid Instant Cameras are available in red, black, and white.
Leica SOFORT 2 Hybrid Instant Cameras are available in red, black, and white.

This certainly isn't anything new—FUJIFILM marketed the INSTAX MINI EVO, which is basically the same thing—but Leica put its own spin on the category. First, it benefits from Leica's design team giving it a much sleeker look. That red version in particular just pops.

The other Leica-specific adaptation is support for the Leica Fotos app. This allows you to use the app with your Q or M or SL and transfer images to your phone. Then, just head back into the app with the Sofort 2 connected and print any photo you want from your main camera. It's an instant film printer for your more traditional Leica cameras.

The SOFORT 2 looks like fun and, if you are already a Leica shooter and want to keep your instant film in the same family, then it's the perfect camera to add to your bag.

In other news...

Third-party lenses also had a few moments in the past week:

  • Sigma joined the fun with two new lenses. The first is an ultra-wide lens for APS-C format: the 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN Contemporary. It's a super compact and fast lens and will be available for Sony E, L-Mount, and FUJIFILM X mounts. Sigma also announced the development of a long-awaited 70-200mm DG DN OS Sports Lens for Sony E and L-Mount.

  • Tamron continues to add more mount options to its lineup. This time the brand is making a Nikon Z-mount version of the 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD Lens.

And there were a couple of other new items worth a mention:

  • Samsung is unlocking more speed in its portable SSD lineup with the announcement of the T9. This uses the faster 20 Gb/s USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 protocol to achieve read/write speeds of up to 2000 MB/s. We need to place a huge asterisk here, since those Gen 2x2 ports are rare, and even devices that have USB4 or Thunderbolt™ 4 aren't guaranteed to support it. Apple computers are a huge issue here because USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 devices are limited to 10 Gb/s Gen 2 speeds, even though the port is capable of much faster transfers. Be very careful if you decide to spend more on Gen 2x2 devices, and make sure your computer will work with them.

  • DPA has a new, technically more affordable―but still pricey for most people―shotgun mic: the 2017.

It hasn't been a boring week, to say the least. Check back next week for even more news!