All the new things!

Here’s a quick update of what else arrived in Singapore in the last week. Firstly the Nikon 1 V2 is now available, and the basic kit price is at over S$1,000. I have yet to try the camera personally, unlike CK who managed to spend some quality time with it in Japan, but I don’t think that whatever the improvements are, it is going to be worth that kind of price premium. A camera like the D3200 is almost 20% cheaper, despite costing more to produce. Nikon really needs to re-evaluate their pricing on the 1 line if they are going to be competitive with the other mirrorless system cameras. Along with the V2 also comes the Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 lens. So if you want a fast prime for your 1 system, this is a good start (and currently the only start, if you ask me).

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A Quick Hands-on of the Nikon 1 V2

Black and white models of the Nikon 1 V2 on a shelf at Yodobashi Camera, Tokyo.

I chanced upon the newly released Nikon 1 V2 at Tokyo’s Yodabashi Camera store while I was on holiday and decided to give it a quick hands-on test. One of the biggest differences between these great stores is that customers are able to play with a lot of gear without having some pesky salesman stare at you, which is a great plus.

Unfortunately, the battery/SD card door was taped shut and thus I was unable to insert my own SD card to get some sample shots.

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Olympus introduces another fast prime

Olympus today announced the latest fast prime addition to their already impressive lineup of micro four-third lenses – the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8. (to use their official lingo for this lens). Essentially, this lens gives the time honored and very popular 35mm focal length field of view (34mm to be exact if you are picky, but who’s counting?) in a fast package with a large bright aperture of f1.8.

What this means, essentially, for me at least, is that the world of m43 has suddenly become more interesting for traditionalists / photojournalistic types / fast lens aficionados   like me who like fast single focal length lenses. Yes, of course I’m aware that Oly has had the 17mm f2.8 pancake for a while already with the first introduction of their Pen cameras, and also gorgeously built 12mm f2, and the equally superlative 75mm f1.8 and not forgetting the 45mm f1.8, a beautiful portrait lens. But the 35mm field of view has long been the mainstay of photojournalists and documentary photographers, and while the 17mm comes close, at the widest aperture of f2.8, it is neither fast enough for low light work without bumping up ISO, nor does it give the depth of field separation I crave with the f2.8 aperture on a m43 sized. sensor.

Panasonic lovers will now be up in arms for my failure to mention the 20mm f1.7 panny lens, but the 20mm gives a longer 40mm equivalent field of view, and as a Panasonic lens, it doesn’t play well the in-camera lens corrections on Olympus cameras (I’m looking at the OMD). Finally, we have a native Olympus 35mm equivalent lens with a fast bright aperture, and not only that, one that is built to the same standards as the rest of what I call the super prime family – the 12 f2, 45 f1.8 and the 75 f1.8 – solid metal construction (albeit only in one color – chrome), with a depth of field scale nicely revealed when one pulls back on the manual focus ring – this action also activates manual focus and one can turn the manual focus ring ala lenses of old for manual focus, with a damped focus mechanism complete with end stops for focal travel, that feels as solid as any old manual focus lens, even if the focus is really electronic.

Essentially, for documentary photography, one can now have a solid body – the OMD, with a complete set of lenses replicating the traditional focal lengths of 24mm (the 12 f2), 35mm (17 f1.8) and 90mm (45 f1.8) with a longish lens thrown in for good measure (the 75 f1.8), all at fast bright apertures of f1.8 to f2. This is a formidable combination – many of the iconic images seared into our minds over the history of photography have been taken with lenses with focal lengths ranging from 24mm to 90mm of which this set of Oly lenses now adequately cover, and by extension, the m43 system.

For official sample images by Olympus, check out their official page.

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Nikon Announces the D5200 24.1MP DSLR

Nikon D5200 with AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and flip screen opened.

Hot on the heels of the D600 and the Nikon 1 V2/J2, Nikon today has announced an update to the D5100 DSLR. The D5200 offers a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, 1080i60 movie recording and a 3″ 921k dot tilt/swivel screen just like its predecessors. With the optional WU-1a Wifi module, the camera lets you wirelessly transmit images to an Apple or Android smart device.

The AF and metering systems are the same ones as the one used in the Nikon D7000, giving this entry-level camera some of the performance gains of the higher-end D7000. This means faster and more accurate AF and metering performance, resulting in improved image quality.

Unfortunately pricing and availability are not available at this time.

YS: Take some components from the upscaled D7000, mash with that new 24 MP sensor, and put it in the D5100. I’m a little disappointed that they did not choose to beef up the control scheme on the D5200 a bit though.

Interestingly, after the spectacular worldwide rollout of the D600, which was a simultaneous one made within a week of the announcement, we are back to Nikon being slowpokes again – word is that the D5200 will only be available in the US after the important Christmas shopping season. Oh dear.

(Image Credit: Nikon Press Images)

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Canon Releases the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

Canon EF-24-70mm f/4L IS USM

Canon today announced the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM and EF 35mm f/2 IS USM targeted to the enthusiasts as well as professional photographers. Rumours about the f/2.8 version of the former has been floating around for some time, and now we know that it’s actually a f/4 version instead.

The lens has a macro setting offering a 0.7x magnification, backed by Canon’s Hybrid IS with up to a 4-stop advantage throughout its zoom range for blur-free images. Like the f/2.8L version, the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM is also weather sealed. It’ll be available from mid-December at a RRP of US$1,499.

Canon EF-24-70mm f/4L IS USM

Canon has also released an image stabilised version of the popular 35mm lens in the form of the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM. The Image Stabilisation on this lens is also rated at up to 4 stops. The lens will be available in early Dec 2012 at an RRP of US$849.99.

In order news, Canon has finally caught up with the other camera/lens makers in offering lens caps with a centre-pinch lock mechanisms. Not sure why it took them THAT long, but at least Canon users now no longer have to look at their Nikon friends’ centre-pinch lens caps with envy anymore.

YS: That 24-70/4 is interesting, mainly because I wonder what does it mean for the 24-105/4. Given that the pricing is higher while offering less on the telephoto end, it needs to be a lot better to compensate!

(Image Credit: Canon Press Images)

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Fujifilm XF1 Goes On Sale in Singapore

Fujifilm X-F1
Fujifilm X-F1, in red faux leather.

I spotted the Fujifilm XF1 on sale, and spent a little time with it. If you ask me, it just about pulls off the retro leather look. Amusingly, Fujifilm seems worried that no one will be able to turn on the camera: There is a sticker on top showing the steps to do so, as well as an attached tag that features a QR code that presumably leads to an online video demonstration. For those curious: The zoom ring is twisted slightly, pulled forward, then twisted some more past the “Standby” mark to the minimum zoom mark.

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