With several new products to discuss, the last few days leading up to B&H's holiday break have been pretty exciting. Nikon dropped an optic with a new name, the ultra-high-performance NIKKOR Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena Lens. Meanwhile, DJI shared yet another announcement this year: the Mini 4 Pro, which now features omnidirectional obstacle avoidance. Last, audio gets some welcome releases, with Shure updating a classic―the SM7dB, a new active version of the legendary SM7B with a built-in pre-amp—and Sony releasing the ECM-S1 and ECM-W3 Wireless Microphone Systems.
Nikon's new lens, the Plena, is a stellar 135mm f/1.8 optic
First revealed last week in a teaser and now made official, the NIKKOR Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena is only the second lens in Nikon's lineup to be named. Considering that the brand's other named lens is the Noct, you can tell that the Plena is going to be something special. Nikon boasts that the lens delivers a "new visual experience" and, with those specs, it is certain to deliver some beautiful imagery.
Benefitting from the large diameter of the Z mount, the Plena produces eye-popping image quality from edge to edge. Peripheral illumination is unmatched, bokeh is as dreamy as you could imagine, and sharpness is keen. This is the portrait prime you have always wanted.
Tech specs do back up these claims―the Plena features all of Nikon's latest and greatest. There are SR and ED elements, as well as Meso Amorphous and ARNEO coatings to combat aberrations and flare.
The Multi-Focus System uses dual STM motors for silent, fast autofocus in stills and video. Minimal breathing and a power aperture will further benefit video capture.
Physically, this is an S-Line lens in every way. Nikon chose to swap the LCD screen on the top for another function button that should make things a bit easier for portrait-orientation shooting. It's not the heaviest lens on the market either, coming in at a little over 2 lb.
Check out the images for yourself. I wouldn't be surprised if you added the Plena to your wish list.
DJI Mini 4 Pro upgrades to omnidirectional obstacle avoidance
The smallest pro drone in DJI's lineup has always been one of the most fun and exciting, and each generation brings it even closer to the brand's higher-end drones. The Mini 4 Pro continues this trend with the addition of features that originally couldn't fit into the sub-250g frame. This time around, DJI's latest mini drone boasts omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, ActiveTrack 360° with Trace Mode, 20 km Full HD video transmission, and 4K up to 100 fps.
Imaging is still powered by the same 1/1.3" CMOS with Dual Native ISO Fusion and an f/1.7 aperture for capturing more detail and greater dynamic range. This will realize 4K 60p video with HDR and 4K at up to 100 fps for slow motion. You'll get 48MP raw stills, as well. The camera system is stable and it retains the true vertical shooting option for working with the latest social media formats.
Omnidirectional obstacle sensing could be the biggest upgrade, since it makes the drone much safer (and easier) to operate in busier environments, such as a forest. It even unlocks some more advanced auto tracking modes. The O4 transmission system will deliver Full HD video over a distance of 20 km, which should result in more stable connections.
Flight times are similar to what they were before, at 34 minutes with the included battery, and there is an optional Intelligent Flight Battery Plus that'll give you 45 minutes at the expense of added weight.
It's a nice upgrade to the best sug-250g drone you can buy.
Shure SM7dB active dynamic mic gains built-in preamp
The Shure SM7B has been one of the most popular vocal mics for decades. The only "problem" was that, to take advantage of it, you usually had to pick up an in-line preamp so you could hear what you were recording without boosting the gain of your interface or recorder to the brink. Now, with the SM7dB, that problem is no more. This version has a built-in preamp made with technology licensed from Cloud (makers of the Cloudlifter that was almost always bundled with the original mic).
What Shure has reassured us is that the SM7dB, even with the new technology, will offer the same acoustics as the original. You can even bypass the preamp or boost with +18dB or +28dB of gain. For that preamp, you will need +48V of phantom power from your interface or mixer.
There aren't many other surprises here. It's an SM7B but with a built-in preamp. This new design should be helpful and it simplifies the setup of the mic. I would mention that many newer recorders and interfaces, like the RØDECaster Pro and MixPre series, now are designed to provide plenty of gain so you don't need an in-line preamp for the SM7B.
Sony ECM-S1 and ECM-W3 wireless mics provide new options for streamers and videographers
Kicking things off with the ECM-S1, we have a relatively unique option in the wireless mic space. This condenser mic is designed for vocals and is really optimized for streaming. The microphone offers wired and wireless connectivity. Wireless uses an included receiver, which can be popped into a Multi Interface Shoe found on many Sony cameras to have it automatically sync with your camera from up to 500' away.
It also has a USB-C output and there is a 3.5mm output on the receiver for monitoring or recording. The mic itself even has its own 3.5mm headphone output when using the USB connection. An internal battery will keep it running for up to 13 hours and the receiver can run for up to 3 hours.
The neat feature of Sony's other recent mics is back―you can select different pickup patterns with the ECM-S1. A switch will let you select between the monoaural unidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo unidirectional options. Plus, it comes with a snap-on pop filter and a stand. That stand can be removed to reveal a 1/4"-20 thread.
For something a bit more familiar, we can turn to the ECM-W3 system. There are options for either a 1-person or 2-person configuration. The transmitters and receivers for these systems are incredibly tiny—about the size of a pack of gum. They are about what you would expect from a wireless mic system today.
Each transmitter does come equipped with a 3.5mm mic input for brining your own lavalier if you choose, and the receiver can connect via a Multi Interface Shoe, USB-C, or 3.5mm. The transmitters also have built-in mics and you can turn on noise- and low-cut filters.
These are nice mic options, especially if you have a Sony camera to pair with them.
In other news...
Do you like VR? Meta has made the Quest 3 available for preorder this week.
If you haven't gotten your drone fix from the Mini 4 Pro announcement, we also took a look at the Autel EVO Max 4T.
New to podcasting? Perhaps interested in picking up that new SM7dB? You might want to watch our video showing proper mic technique to help get the most out of it.
For simpler audio needs, like streaming or video conferencing, we have a nice comparison between the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP and AT2040USB.
Don't forget, B&H is closed for the Succos Holiday starting at 1:00 P.M. ET on Friday, September 29. We will reopen on Monday, October 9. See you in 10 days!