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Posted 04/27/21
To some, there’s little that's more perfect than the fast 35mm prime lens. It’s a staple focal length in any lens lineup and a go-to lens for many photographers working in a wide variety of genres. It’s an important lens for Sigma, and the company has just released its latest iteration, with the  35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens. Available for L-mount and Sony E mirrorless systems, this lens is a fresh take on the popular focal length, featuring a wholly new optical design, a new focusing mechanism, and a trim, lightweight build. Considering how much Sigma has updated with this lens, you might be hard pressed to believe it’s Sigma’s fourth 35mm lens for mirrorless cameras. It’s been nearly a decade since Sigma reorganized its lens lineup, updated its optical and physical designs, and coined the Global Vision Series. This announcement, in 2012, came with the introduction of the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens—this fast wide-angle prime was the very first lens of the now-revered Art series of high-end lenses, and is still one of the most popular lenses from Sigma today. No doubt this lens still holds its own, but Sigma has recognized that it’s becoming a bit long in the tooth, specifically because it was designed and released for use with SLR cameras. Now that mirrorless is king, Sigma saw the opportunity to update this flagship of sorts with the all-new, fully revised 35mm f/1.4 DG DN lens. Flowering trees make the perfect subject to show off the shallow depth-of-field control of the f/1.4 lens. So, with this all-new design, what exactly does the new DG DN version of this prized lens bring? The updated optical layout includes two SLD elements, one FLD element, and two aspherical elements—in short, this just means that chromatic and spherical aberrations are well-controlled, sharpness is nothing short of hugely impressive, and colors are accurate, clear, and punchy. A Super Multi-Layer Coating is used, too, which is a technology carried over from the past but, nonetheless, still manages to keep contrast high in various lighting conditions. It also features an 11-rounded-blade diaphragm, for that smooth bokeh you know you want, and a minimum focusing distance of 11.8" for working with close-up subjects. The 35mm focal length is great for spontaneous captures of a couple of curious visitors at the Botanical Gardens. In terms of physical changes from Sigma’s past 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, this is where the new lens stands on its own. To begin, the DG HSM version was built with SLRs in mind, but later introduced for use on Sony E and L-mount mirrorless cameras by including a mount adapter. It was a working solution but added unwanted length and weight to the lens to make up for the difference in focal flange distances between mirrorless and SLR cameras. This DG DN version of the 35mm f/1.4 has been created specifically for mirrorless cameras (hence the brand-new optics) and no longer has an unnecessarily long or weighty build. Using the lens’s close-focusing capabilities and fast aperture to highlight the punchy colors from spring flowers. Among other differences, this new 35mm lens also sports a stepping AF motor, which moves just a single focusing element, to achieve fast, quiet, and precise focus performance. Compared to an HSM (Hyper-Sonic Motor), the stepping motor is smaller, quieter, and better suited for the smaller dimensions of the lens, as well as the multimedia usage more associated with mirrorless shooters. Additional differences relate to handling, including a manual aperture ring that can be de-clicked, a programmable AFL button, and a smaller and lighter-weight form factor.   Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Aperture Range f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.4 to f/16 f/1.2 to f/16 f/2 to f/22 Optical Design 15 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 2 SLD, 2 aspherical) 13 elements, 11 groups (1 FLD, 4 SLD, 2 aspherical) 17 elements, 12 groups (3 SLD, 3 aspherical) 10 elements, 9 groups (1 SLD, 3 aspherical) Focusing System Stepping motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Hyper-Sonic Motor Stepping motor Minimum Focus Distance 11.8" 11.8" 11.8" 10.6" Lens Controls AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch AF/MF switch AFL button Aperture ring with de-click switch AF/MF switch Aperture ring Aperture Blades 11, rounded 9, rounded 11, rounded 9, rounded Filter Size 67mm 67mm 82mm 58mm Dimensions 3 x 4.3" (L-mount) 3 x 4.7" (L-mount) 3.5 x 5.4" (L-mount) 2.8 x 2.6" (L-mount) Weight 1.4 lb (L-mount) 1.7 lb (L-mount) 2.4 lb (L-mount) 11.5 oz (L-mount) You’ll notice the chart isn’t just comparing the new 35mm f/1.4 to the old 35mm f/1.4, and that’s because the 35mm lens is a popular option for Sigma. Oddly enough, the 35mm f/1.4 is the third option specifically designed for mirrorless cameras and is going to sit in the company’s DG DN lineup as the all-arounder 35mm. It’s lighter but slower than the super-fast 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art and a bit heavier but faster and more optically refined than the sleek 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary. In my opinion, the 35mm f/1.4 encapsulates most of the allure of the f/1.2 version, but is a lens that's easier to handle since it’s shaving off a full pound of weight in exchange for being just a third of a stop slower. Compared to the f/2 Contemporary lens, this is a more debatable point for me, and it really boils down to how lightweight you want to keep your kit or how valuable the bright f/1.4 lens is. The f/2 is also an I-series lens, and has the more distinct-looking exterior, whereas the f/1.4 lens has the typical Art build that’s more functional than aesthetic. Using the wide-angle field of view to show off space, distance, and scale. I got to spend a few days with the new 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art and took time to enjoy the spring weather by visiting some of the more scenic areas in the city, as well as the Botanical Garden. Interestingly enough, when I reviewed the 35mm f/1.2, I also took that lens to the Botanical Garden, and when I reviewed the 35mm f/2, I took that to a similar riverside area. With that information in the back of my head, it helped to figure where the in-between f/1.4 version fits into Sigma’s lineup. It’s certainly much more enjoyable to carry around for a day of shooting than the f/1.2, but it does lag a tiny bit in its ability to isolate subjects against busy backgrounds. Compared to the f/2, the f/1.4 lens really feels like a different kind of lens. It puts you in a different mood that is a bit more structured and less off-the-cuff. Borrowing from what I said about the f/1.2, “I found myself wanting to treat this 35mm lens a bit more like an 85mm. Because of its ability to separate subjects from backgrounds quite easily, I started shooting with it in a method where I would pick on very specific elements of a scene and let the rest fall slightly out of focus.” With the 35mm f/2, I seldom used it at f/2; with the 35mm f/1.4, I liked to shoot at f/1.4 because it offers a unique and desirable effect and quality. The 35mm focal length is a flexible focal length for working in tight or cramped spaces, such as beneath a tree, while maintaining a very natural and broad field of view. After using the 35mm f/1.4 DG DN Art, I can see why Sigma wanted to make this lens, but it also leaves me wondering and surprised that the company hadn’t done this earlier. It feels like such an important piece in Sigma’s lineup, given the popularity of the HSM version, and is much more built for daily use than the more niche f/1.2 lens. Beyond the comparisons and seeing how it slots right into Sigma’s already well-versed 35mm lineup, this lens offers pretty much everything you’d expect from a 35mm f/1.4. It’s a comfortable wide-angle lens with a fast maximum aperture, advanced optical design, and is weather-sealed. It’s exactly what you want it to be, it has few frills, and it is really just built to be that lens you maybe don’t think is so special but for some reason you keep turning to time and time again because it’s just so good. One more flowering tree shot to show off the sharpness of this lens and the shallow depth of field of an f/1.4 maximum aperture. What are your thoughts on Sigma’s bevy of 35mm lenses? Are you excited for this new Goldilocks f/1.4 version or have you already settled on another version? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/20/21
Sony has just announced the fourteenth lens to join its coveted G Master lineup: the ultra-compact, ultra-fast, and ultra-wide 14mm f/1.8 GM Lens. Ideal for capturing landscape, architecture, and astronomical subjects, as well as creative portraits and close-ups, this low-distortion prime delivers the optical quality that has come to characterize Sony’s top tier of lenses while remaining impressively compact and lightweight. The new lens is Sony’s widest G Master prime to date. Combine its expansive reach with a fast f/1.8 aperture and you have a lens that is perfect for low-light capture—and especially well-suited for wide-field astrophotography. In total, it consists of 14 elements in 11 groups, with special design consideration paid to combatting the types of distortion that can plague ultra-wide-angle lenses. First, there are two XA (extreme aspherical) elements and one aspherical element to minimize aberration and sagittal coma flare, ensuring accurate image capture. Super ED and ED glass are used to suppress chromatic aberration, and Nano AR Coating II takes care of ghosting and flare. Resulting images exhibit very little distortion and maintain corner-to-corner sharpness, reducing time spent in post. Although most will choose this lens for capturing distant subjects, it can focus as close as 9.8" for creative close-up applications. Two XD linear motors ensure quick and quiet focusing for stills and video. G Master veterans will be surprised by how small and light this lens is. Its design becomes even more impressive when compared to Sigma’s 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Lens, which weighs a whopping 2.6 lb, more than double that of Sony’s lens, which comes in at just a hair over 1 lb. Similarly, its 3.3 x 3.9" dimensions make this a lens that is equally easy to carry on-camera or in a bag. Such a compact and lightweight design makes this lens easily adaptable for gimbal or tripod usage for achieving steady footage. Many of the tactile controls of past G Master lenses are also incorporated into this one, including a customizable focus hold button, a de-click switch for the aperture, and a manual/autofocus switch. A built-in lens hood serves the dual purpose of blocking flare and protecting the bulbous front of the lens from accidental damage. A protective lens cap that goes over the hood is included for when the lens is not in use. Since the shape of the lens is not suited to front filters, a rear filter holder is included and a template provided for cutting custom filters. Like previous G Master lenses, the 14mm f/1.8 is dust and moisture resistant, which makes sense because this is a lens that begs to be taken outdoors. Although you cannot rely on a front filter for protection, a fluorine coating has been applied to repel dust, dirt, and liquids from its surface. Are you excited about Sony’s latest G Master lens? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 04/13/21
Continuing to round out its full-frame mirrorless system, Canon has just launched a trio of RF-mount prime lenses that contribute to this maturing and expanding system. Focusing on the long end of the focal length spectrum, Canon is introducing a fresh take on the popular 100mm f/2.8 macro option, as well as releasing 400mm and 600mm super-telephoto primes for the sports and wildlife crowd. As might be expected, all three lenses are L Series primes, indicating their optical excellence and durable physical designs. Also, in a surprise move, Canon has revealed the development of the EOS R3 —a brand-new full-frame mirrorless model designed to sit between the R5 and 1D X Mark III. More details on the R3 are coming soon but you can read about what we know right here on Explora. The RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is the first true macro lens for the RF system and is the natural follow-up to the beloved EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens for SLRs. Taking the same short-telephoto focal length but upping the maximum magnification beyond life size, to 1.4x, and shortening the minimum focusing distance to 10.6", this new close-focusing prime also features a unique SA (spherical aberration) Control Ring. Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens A new feature for Canon, this control ring provides the opportunity to fine-tune bokeh rendering: At one end, images have smooth and blurry bokeh and at the other, imagery takes on a more prominent ring-shaped bokeh. Beyond the optics, this lens has been fitted with an Optical Image Stabilizer, which corrects for up to 5 stops of camera shake, or up to 8 stops when used with a compatible camera body featuring IBIS, and the lens also features a Dual Nano USM focusing system for smooth, responsive, and silent AF performance. © Creative Soul © Creative Soul © Dennis Prescott © Dennis Prescott © Rebecca Nichols © Rebecca Nichols Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens sample photos For sports and wildlife shooters, nothing beats a fast and long-reaching telephoto prime, and this is where the RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM fits in. It’s a versatile focal length with an impressively bright design and uses trusted technology and a proven optical design comprised of fluorite and Super UD glass. In fact, if you were a fan of the EF 400mm f/2.8, there’s a lot of similarities between these two lenses; optically, they’re identical, and physically, the lens has just been updated for the RF mount. Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens The Optical Image Stabilizer compensates for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system yields snappy AF performance and works with programmable AF preset buttons for faster performance. It’s compatible with the RF 1.4x and 2x Extenders and works with drop-in 52mm screw-in filters. © Tyler Stableford 2x Extender © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford © Tyler Stableford 1.4 Extender © Tyler Stableford Canon RF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens sample photos Even longer is the RF 600mm f/4L IS USM lens, which adds a respectable amount of reach, compared to the 400mm, while being just one stop slower. Cherished for working with smaller or even more distant subjects, this super-telephoto is a choice lens for birders, wildlife shooters, and some sports applications, too. Like the RF 400mm, this 600mm gets its optics from its EF 600mm f/4L predecessor, including the fluorite and Super UD glass that helps it achieve impressive sharpness, clarity, and color accuracy throughout the aperture range. Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens The lens has been updated for the mirrorless RF mount and features an Optical Image Stabilizer to compensate for up to 5.5 stops of camera shake, and the USM focusing system offers quiet and quick focusing performance. Both super-teles also sport a rotating tripod mount with a removable foot, both accept the same 52mm drop-in filters, and this 600mm also has the same dust- and weather-resistant exterior for use in harsh weather. © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle © Zak Noyle Canon RF 600mm f/4L IS USM Lens sample photos What are your thoughts on Canon’s latest RF-mount lenses? Have you been waiting for any of these telephoto options for your RF camera? Let us know your thoughts on Canon’s new lenses, in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 04/12/21
Ever the exciting combination, FUJIFILM has announced the latest high-speed, wide-angle prime: the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. This 27mm equivalent prime is designed for the APS-C-format X Series and blends the versatile everyday wide field of view with an impressively bright design for working in low light and for controlling depth of field. In typical FUJIFILM fashion, too, the lens also features a compact, weather-resistant exterior, a quick linear AF motor, and intuitive tactile controls. This will be the second 18mm lens in FUJIFILM’s lineup, although it’s a very different type of lens compared to the f/2 pancake version. This 18mm f/1.4 is focused on speed, and the bright f/1.4 aperture is a valuable tool for working in difficult lighting conditions while shooting handheld. Another distinction from the 18mm f/2 is a more advanced optical design; this new f/1.4 version has three aspherical elements and one extra-low dispersion element to correct a variety of aberrations that minimize distortion while boosting sharpness and color accuracy. In terms of focusing, this wide-angle lens features internal focusing, controlled by a linear AF motor, affording quick and quiet performance suitable for stills and video. A minimum focusing distance of 7.9" suits working with close-up subjects, and the lens is also fitted with a manual focus ring and a manual aperture ring for intuitive tactile control. Despite not being quite as small or pancake-shaped as the 18mm f/2, this 18mm f/1.4 is still an impressively sleek lens, measuring 3" long and weighing just about 13 oz. It has a weather-sealed exterior and is also freezeproof for working in temperatures down to 14°F. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR? Are you in need of a fast, general-use wide-angle lens? What types of subjects would you photograph with this lens? Let us know, in the Comments section below.
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Posted 04/06/21
Oozing all the retro style you’d expect from FUJIFILM, the new INSTAX Mini 40 is the latest sleek and fun camera in the company’s INSTAX instant film lineup. Despite its trendy and classic appearance, the Mini 40 is built to be as intuitive as possible for an instant film camera—it’s really just a point-and-shoot in the clearest sense of the term. It’s a stylish camera that’s fun to use, easy to carry, and perfect for producing those oh-so-shareable miniature prints with your friends. The INSTAX Mini 40 is the latest in FUJIFILM’s every-growing line of instant film cameras, and it takes the popular INSTAX Mini film. This small rectangular film format measures 2.4 x 1.8", or roughly about the size of a credit card. Functionally, the camera operates like many others from the INSTAX lineup—it has an optical viewfinder, a 60mm f/12.7 lens, and a built-in flash that works in conjunction with the auto-exposure metering and automatic shutter speed adjustments to help ensure every shot turns out just right. The Mini 40 is also fitted with a dedicated Selfie Mode, which is really just a close-focusing setting for working with subjects within an 11.8-19.7" range, or what amounts to about arm’s length. There’s a mirror attached to the front of the lens to help line up those selfies accurately, too. What else does the INSTAX Mini 40 bring to the table? Its classy, good looks, of course. Fundamentally, the Mini 40 isn’t a dramatically different camera than other INSTAX Mini offerings, but it is a desirable mixture of all the things that make INSTAX shooting so much fun in the first place. What are your thoughts on FUJIFILM’s latest instant film camera? Are you a fan of the retro styling and simple operation? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below.
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Posted 03/23/21
Hot on the heels of its latest G Master lens, Sony has just announced three new compact primes in its G Series lineup: the FE 24mm f/2.8 G, FE 40mm f/2.5 G, and FE 50mm f/2.5 G. Adopting many of the advanced design features of their larger siblings, the trio delivers exceptional optical performance in a form factor perfect for everyday carry. Although created for full-frame E-mount cameras (hence the FE designation), their compact build pairs nicely with APS-C models where the 24mm becomes 36mm, 40mm becomes 60mm, and 50mm becomes 75mm. Priority was given to making these lenses small, so that they won’t take up much space in your camera bag, and light, so they won’t weigh you down while shooting. Consequently, each lens measures only 1.8" in length and weighs between 5.7 and 6.1 ounces, depending on the model. All of the lenses incorporate aspherical elements to combat aberration and distortions, as well as extra-low dispersion glass to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberration. A seven-bladed circular aperture helps achieve smooth, round bokeh. Complementing the versatile focal lengths of the new lenses are minimum focusing distances that benefit close-up capture: The 24mm allows you to get as close as 7.1" (manual focus) / 9.4" (autofocus), the 40mm can get 9.8" (MF) / 11" (AF), and the 50mm can focus as close as 12.2" (MF) / 13.8" (AF). Each lens features two linear motors to provide quick and responsive autofocusing for still capture, and quiet performance when recording video. The physical design of the new lenses incorporates some of the most useful features of Sony’s top-tier lenses. The aperture ring can be adjusted in 1/3-stop increments, or de-clicked via a switch on the side of the lens barrel for video applications. An auto/manual focus mode switch is incorporated for moving quickly between focusing modes or fine-tuning focus. Finally, a customizable focus hold button can be used for its namesake or reassigned, based on user preference. All of the lenses boast a sleek aluminum design that is dust and moisture resistant, adding to their appeal as everyday carry options. Settings are engraved into the lens barrel, presenting both an aesthetically pleasing touch as well as adding to the durability of the lens. What do you think of Sony’s latest G Series lenses? Which of Sony’s mirrorless cameras do you think would pair best with them? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 03/16/21
Sony has officially entered the realm of extremely fast glass with its newest addition to the G Master family: the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM lens. Not only does the new lens add one of the most popular prime focal lengths to Sony’s top-tier lineup, but it also becomes Sony’s fastest E-mount lens to date. The flexibility of the 50mm focal length and brightness of an f/1.2 aperture make this lens an ideal candidate for portraiture and fashion, whether working in the studio or out on location. The impressively compact and lightweight build of this lens—its length and weight match that of its ½-stop slower predecessor—should attract street, event, and even landscape photographers looking for a high-performing prime. Sharp Focus and Soft Bokeh To capture exacting images with razor-thin depth of field, the new G Master takes advantage of Sony’s latest advances in lens technology and consists of 14 elements arranged in 10 groups. Three XA (extreme aspherical) elements join forces to combat aberration, maintain corner-to-corner sharpness, and produce smooth out-of-focus areas. A newly developed 11-blade circular aperture further contributes to clean and natural bokeh, whether in the foreground or background of an image. Combine these attributes with a minimum focusing distance of 1.3' and maximum magnification of 0.17x and the lens becomes a solid option for capturing close-up subjects. Fast AF and Intuitive Design The 50mm f/1.2 utilizes four XD (extreme dynamic) motors for fast, precise, and quiet autofocusing. Responsive manual focusing permits quick and smooth adjustments when shooting stills and expanded creative possibilities when recording video. Like other G Master lenses, a focus mode switch is included on the side of the lens barrel for quick toggling between focus modes. New is the addition of a second focus hold button on the lens barrel, which can be customized to your preference. Familiar to G Master veterans is the inclusion of a de-click switch for the aperture, a useful feature when recording video. Built to Last Like past G Master lenses, the 50mm f/1.2 features hybrid metal-and-plastic construction to balance weight and durability while providing protection against dust and moisture. The front element features a fluorine coating to prevent fingerprints, dirt, water, and other contaminants from sticking to its surface. How Does It Compare? The FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is a major upgrade compared to Sony’s Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA lens and a direct competitor to Canon’s RF 50mm f/1.2L USM and Nikon’s NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S lenses. One of the most impressive aspects of the new prime is how Sony was able to maintain the same size and weight as its f/1.4 model while adding 36% more optical surface to achieve an extra ½ stop of brightness. It matches the length and weight of Canon’s f/1.2, making them both lighter and smaller than Nikon’s version. From a usability standpoint, the Sony features more on-lens tactile controls than the Canon, while the Nikon offers a unique OLED display on the barrel of the lens. Model Maximum Aperture Length Weight Optical Construction Diaphragm Blades Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM f/1.2 4.25" 1.7 lb 14 elements, 10 groups 11 Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA f/1.4 4.25" 1.7 lb 12 elements, 9 groups 11 Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM f/1.2 4.25" 2.1 lb 15 elements, 9 groups 10 Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S f/1.2 5.9" 2.4 lb 17 elements, 15 groups 9 Also New from Sony: Camera-Mount Bluetooth Wireless Audio Sony’s announcement of the FE 50mm f/1.2 GM lens follows the release of a pair of audio upgrades aimed at mirrorless video shooters: the ECM-W2BT Camera-Mount Digital Bluetooth Wireless Microphone System and ECM-LV1 Compact Stereo Lavalier Microphone. The ECM-W2BT was designed for vloggers, journalists, and other video content creators seeking an on-camera wireless mic solution. The system consists of a receiver that attaches directly to the MI shoe of compatible Sony cameras and a clip-on transmitter with built-in omnidirectional microphone for quick setup. Each features built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can last up to 9 hours when attached to the MI shoe or 3 hours on their own. Utilizing Bluetooth connectivity, the system can operate up to 650' in good visibility. Microphones are built into the transmitter and receiver, allowing the camera operator and talent to be recorded at the same time. A moisture- and dust-resistant design means you can use the system outdoors with confidence under less-than-ideal conditions. For low-profile audio recording scenarios, the ECM-LV1 lavalier connects with the ECM-W2BT’s transmitter via a 3.3' cable and 3.5mm TRS connector, minimizing the visible footprint of your audio setup. The lav records stereo audio via two omnidirectional capsules. A foam windscreen is included to minimize noise during recording. What do you think of Sony’s latest announcements? Are you itching to shoot with your Sony camera at f/1.2? Ready to incorporate wireless audio into your video setup? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 02/24/21
Sigma has announced a fascinating new f/2.8 standard zoom lens as part of its Contemporary lens line, and true to the Contemporary’s core concept, this 28-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens affords that elusive balance of performance and portability. It is currently the smallest and lightest full-frame f/2.8 standard zoom lens on the market and is available for Sony E-mount and Leica L-mount mirrorless cameras. Based on the optical design of the successful Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens, this 28-70mm lens is decidedly lighter and more compact than its slightly faster stablemate. By still maintaining a common and convenient range of focal lengths, along with the bright f/2.8 constant maximum aperture, this lens should entice many photographers looking for a standard zoom that doesn’t overwhelm their smaller size mirrorless camera body. The advanced optical design of the new lens includes three aspherical, two FLD, and two SLD elements, and despite using fewer total elements than the 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lens, the design corrects axial chromatic aberration and sagittal coma aberration for sharp images, from the center to the edges of the frame. Along with its anti-ghosting design, the use of a Super Multi-Layer Coating controls flare for high-contrast results. The lens features a water- and oil-repellent coating on the front element, has a dust- and splash-proof structure only at the mount, and features fewer and smaller switches on the barrel than the Art lens. Each of these design refinements result in the smallest and lightest lens in its class. The new lens also houses just one lightweight focusing element, which keeps the AF unit small, and with a quiet stepping motor, the internal focus system provides near-silent autofocus performance that is useful for both stills and video capture. Sigma continues to evolve its compact lens options while maintaining the optical performance of its most notable lenses. In my experience using Sigma’s Contemporary and Art series lenses, they both are able to withstand the dings of day-to-day use. If anything, the smaller size protects the Contemporary lenses from the heavier bumps and “strap swing” caused by bigger lenses. Not to mention they are often better balanced on the camera, more comfortable on the neck, and have simple control settings. This Contemporary series 28-70mm f/2.8 L-mount lens weighs just 1 lb, compared to the 1.8 lb of the 24-70mm Art lens, and its barrel diameter is 72mm (67mm filter) compared to 88mm (82mm filter). Some photographers may choose to note the slightly wider angle of view and robustness of the Art series lens, but I see this new Contemporary lens as truly leveraging the technological and design attributes of mirrorless cameras to provide a simple, efficient, and—foremost—compact, wide aperture, zoom lens. Let us know your thoughts on the Sigma Contemporary series lenses and your prospective uses for this new 28-70mm f/2.8 lens in the Comments section, below. Previous Pause Next
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Posted 02/24/21
Profoto has unveiled the Pro-11 2400 AirTTL Power Pack, adding AirX connectivity as well as a variety of internal and external design upgrades to its flagship power pack. A familiar sight on fashion, action, and high-speed photo sets, Profoto’s power packs have earned their namesake, providing dependable, top-tier performance on some of the most demanding jobs in the photo industry. Capable of firing as fast as 1/80,000 second, the Pro-11 is equipped to capture even the most elusive subjects with ease. The addition of AirX functionality not only opens the door to wireless communication with AirX-enabled devices, but also simplifies firmware updates, making it easier than ever to ensure your gear is working at the highest possible level. What's New? AirX Compatibility Adding AirX Bluetooth functionality places the Pro-11 in the company of Profoto’s most technologically advanced lighting tools and “future-proofs” its operation. The AirX App can be used to adjust settings using mobile devices from a distance of up to 100 feet Firmware updates can now be performed without needing to go through the hassle of a USB interface Joins A10 and B10 strobes to form the basis of an AirX ecosystem AirX supports all legacy Air and AirTTL equipped devices Redesigned Exterior The Pro-11 maintains a familiar design while implementing a number of tweaks to streamline workflow on set. Bolder, brighter, easier-to-read typeface on the LCD for monitoring settings Improved buttons in line with Profoto’s latest light models Minor changes to user interface for adjusting settings New sound cues Upgraded Interior A number of tweaks under the hood have been added to the Pro-11 to improve safety and performance, including: Protective earth is now separated between flash circuits and logic to reduce the risk of exploding flash tubes Creepage distances between high-voltage circuits and protective earth are increased to reduce risk of short circuit from internal condensation Dump circuit redesign New panel, flash, and power circuit boards Taking the Best from the Pro-10 The Pro-11 shares many of the features that have made its predecessor a rental-house favorite, including its 2-outlet, 2400Ws design, 0.02-0.7s recycle times, and 11-stop power range in 1/10-stop increments. Capable of quick bursts up to 50 flashes per second, the Pro-11 can handle even the fastest subjects with ease. In addition to its built-in wireless capabilities, the Pro-11 also features a ¼" sync socket and USB port. For continuous applications, it can provide a maximum power of 2 x 500W. A fan is incorporated into its build for cooling. Profoto Ecosystem The Profoto name has become synonymous with the highest-quality lighting tools available to professional photographers. The Pro-11 is compatible with multiple heads and more than 120 light-shaping tools capable of producing nearly any lighting setup you can imagine. By leveraging the power of AirX, AirTTL, and Air technologies, the Pro-11 can be seamlessly integrated into existing Profoto lighting kits, adding a boost of power and the latest technology to personal and rental kits alike. Have you used Profoto’s power packs on set? Share your experiences and thoughts on the company's latest flagship in the Comments section, below!
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Posted 02/17/21
Expanding its L-mount portfolio, Panasonic has just announced the Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 Macro O.I.S. lens, a flexible telephoto zoom with unique close-focusing capabilities. Fitting into the full-frame L-mount lens lineup as a lighter-weight, longer-reaching telephoto zoom than the 70-200mm options, this lens adds on to these benefits with the inclusion of a 1:2 macro designation and apt image stabilization to promote sharper handheld shooting. Considering its portrait-length to super-tele zoom range, this lens is perfect for portraiture, sports, and even wildlife shooting applications. Its quick-focusing Linear AF motor pairs with Panasonic’s DFD technology for responsive subject tracking, and the lens’s physical design, with a built-in focus mode switch and focus range limiter, offers intuitive handling in quick-paced scenarios. Also, benefiting video creators, this lens has well-controlled focus breathing for consistent rendering throughout the zoom and focusing ranges. In addition, one of the spotlight features of this tele zoom is the impressive 1:2 maximum magnification ratio, at the 300mm focal length and 2.4' focusing distance, for half life-size shooting. Optically, this lens features two ED elements, one ultra ED element, and one ultra-high-refractive index element, which all help to suppress various aberrations and distortion throughout the zoom range to achieve high sharpness and clarity, along with accurate color fidelity. An 11-blade diaphragm is featured, too, and yields soft bokeh, along with distinct 22-point starbursts when stopped down. Contributing to intuitive handling, this Panasonic 70-300mm also includes a 5.5-stop effective image stabilization system, which works in conjunction with Dual I.S. 2 on select Panasonic cameras, for robust shake correction to enable sharper handheld shooting. Additionally, this lens is dust, splash, and freeze resistant to suit working in harsh weather conditions. What are your thoughts on Panasonic’s new L-mount telephoto zoom? What lenses do you think are still needed for the L-Mount Alliance? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section, below. Previous Pause Next
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