What just happened?! Looking back on last week
Oct 21, 2013 at 09:45 GMT
What just happened?! Looking back on last week
Last week was incredibly busy here at dpreview, with major new cameras from Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm and Panasonic as well as new lenses from Samyang, Sony and Sigma. It was a week of late nights and early mornings, and now that the dust has settled and we've had some time to breathe, we've prepared a quick look back to last week for some highlights of what what you might have missed.
OK, let's get started! In no particular order...
Nikon D5300 and Fujfilm X-E2 - small improvements make a big difference
It's the season for iterative updates, apparently, and at first glance the Fujifilm X-E2 and Nikon D5300 don't seem like particularly 'new' cameras. However, after spending some time with both, we've realized that the deceptively minor updates in both cameras make a big difference.
The D5300 features a 24MP sensor without an anti-aliasing filter (for theoretically superior resolution), 1080 60p video and built-in WiFi and GPS - both of the latter being firsts for Nikon. The Fujifilm X-E2 offers greatly improved focus speed compared to its predecessor, has a larger rear LCD display, and adds lots of small improvements in response to user feedback, too.
Fujifilm puts X-Trans in your pocket with new XQ1...
The XQ1 follows last year's XF1 as a second (and somewhat more conservative) attempt by Fujifilm to capture a share of the high-end, stylish zoom compact market. The XQ1 has the same 25-100mm (equivalent) lens as the older camera, but a more conventional design and - most importantly - a 12MP 2/3" X-Trans CMOS sensor which allows hybrid autofocus, making the XQ1 impressively fast.
This sensor has impressed us a lot in the Fujifilm X20, and we're excited by its inclusion in a genuinely pocketable compact camera.
...and brings the X100 back from the dead
Fujifilm was very busy last week, releasing two cameras, the X-E2 and XQ1 (click the links to read our detailed coverage). But as well as new products, Fujifilm also sneaked in the announcement of new firmware for the discontinued X100. Firmware updates for discontinued cameras aren't unheard of, but they're usually intended to maintain compatibility with new accessories. In contrast, firmware v2.0 for the X100 transforms the camera, among other things increasing AF speed, decreasing startup time, adding peaking for manual focusing and halving the minimum focus distance when using the optical viewfinder.
Hats off to Fujifilm; we wish more manufacturers would go down this route. Even if there's no short-term profit to be had, keeping your customers happy is never a bad idea. Bravo.
Panasonic unveils the GM1, the smallest M43 ILC yet
It's so cuuuuute! Barely taller than its Micro Four Thirds lens mount, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is the smallest M43 camera yet, but still packs in some impressive specifications, including a 16MP sensor and touch-sensitive rear LCD. The bundled 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) zoom fits the tiny camera perfectly and we had a lot of fun using both when we were looking at the GM1 in our Seattle office last week. It's already on our Christmas present list.
Nikon's AF-S 58mm F1.4 is a pricey prime
As well as the D5300, Nikon also announced a new lens last week: the AF-S Nikkor 58mm F1.4G. At first glance this is a curious lens, being so close to the popular 50mm F1.4G in focal length, while still being some way off the classic 'short telephoto' 85mm F1.4G (at least on full-frame). Nikon claims that despite not quite matching its maximum aperture the new prime recalls the rightly-famous Noct-Nikkor 58mm F1.2, a manual focus lens prized for its excellent image quality 'wide open'.
According to Nikon, the new 58mm is highly corrected for coma, meaning that point light sources are rendered correctly right across the frame, and is specifically designed to give an attractive rendition of out-of-focus regions of the image. We're really hoping it lives up to the hype, because at $1699.95 / £1599.99, this is one pricey prime...
Nikon sues Sakar over incriminating Polaroid
Speaking of Nikon and money (stick with me...) the Japanese camera manufacturer has announced that it is taking legal action against Sakar International Inc., over the design of the Polaroid-branded iM1836 - seen above. If you're looking at that picture thinking 'it sure does look a lot like the Nikon 1 J1' you're not alone - Nikon clearly thinks so too. And so did we, when we saw the iM1836 at CES earlier this year.
According to Nikon, 'Nikon makes a great effort to create designs that can be differentiated from other companies' products, as well as to strongly deter the imitation of its designs.' Which, by the way, is the nearest thing to a burn you'll get to hear in the camera industry.
North Korea is lovely at this time of year
That's according to Aram Pan, a Singapore-based photographer who thoroughly enjoyed a recent photography trip, and returned with nothing but praise. Param, who specializes in interactive panoramic 'virtual tours' was granted permission to photograph in various locations around North Korea, and returned with a large collection of images which offer a rare glimpse inside the secretive country.
We featured an interview with Pan last week, and apparently everything is fine in North Korea, everyone's really nice and friendly, and there's absolutely nothing to worry about or concern anyone in any way.
We've already booked our flights.
The full-frame NEXs that aren't NEXs
Rumors of a full-frame Sony NEX have been floating around the interwebs for a while, but when it finally arrived, it wasn't quite what some people expected. Apart from anything else, the new Sony A7 and A7R aren't NEXs - in fact Sony is ditching that nomenclature altogether. Featuring 24MP and 36MP full-frame sensors the A7 and A7R use the established E-mount, but you'll need one of the new 'FE' lenses for full-frame coverage. Older E-mount lenses will fit, but are only guaranteed to cover an APS-C imaging circle (as you'd expect).
The A7 and A7R are fascinating cameras, and as part of our launch coverage we published a detailed first-impressions review last week. We can't wait to get hold of production-quality samples and start shooting.
New lenses from Sony, Sigma and Samyang
Alongside the new A7 and A7R, Sony announced some new lenses last week as well. Specifically designed for full-frame, the new 'FE' range comprises the FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS, FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T*, FE 24-70mm F4 ZA OSS Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar T* and a 'G' class telezoom, the FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS. We're told that these are the first of 15 FE lenses that Sony intends to have on the market by 2015. Sony has also updated its Alpha-mount fast telezoom with faster autofocus and updated 'Nano AR' coatings, to make the 70-200mm F2.8G SSM II.
Meanwhile, Sigma continues to appeal to enthusiast DSLR shooters with its new 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM. Designed for full-frame DSLRs, the new lens features a 19 element/14 group design including Sigma's FLD glass and both single- and double-sided aspherical elements which the company says will minimize aberrations. Price and availability have yet to be announced.
Finally, Samyang has announced that it intents to make six of its existing manual focus full frame lenses in E mount, for use with the A7 and A7R.
The RX10 - Sony's super-serious Superzoom
As well as the full-frame A7 and A7R, Sony also announced a new compact last week, but not just any compact. The Cyber-shot RX10 is an innovative companion to the RX100 II, featuring the same 1 inch 20MP CMOS sensor, but paired with a 24-200mm (equivalent) zoom with a fixed aperture of F2.8.
The RX10 isn't cheap (gulp - $1299...) but whether or not it's affordable, from the early image samples we've seen it could just be the 'expert superzoom' that we've always wanted. We'll have to get hold of a finished sample to tell for sure, but in the meantime we've written a detailed first-impressions review, in which among other things we aim to find out why the RX10 costs so much...
The Hasselblad hoax that we hope stays a hoax*
Mere hours after the announcement of Sony's A7 and A7R full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, some wag created a fake 'Hasselblad Solar', complete with luxurious wooden handgrip and (one has to assume) ludicrously inflated price. Despite being quickly revealed as a fake, the Solar was reported as real news by more than one site, which if nothing else gave us a laugh in the middle of a crazy week. And some of your comments on our post were priceless.
Of course, following the all-too-real Hasselblad Lunar and Stellar, we wouldn't be entirely surprised if the 'Solar' becomes a reality in the next few months. It's a funny old world.
* Image shown above is simulated. At least twice.
Canon's pimped-out PowerShots
The Hasselblad Solar is imaginary (at least for now) but these special-edition PREMIUM BOX versions of Canon's PowerShot G16 and S120 are very real indeed. Available in Japan only, these luxury compacts can be customized with the option of red, gold, silver and black finished on select components and both cameras are supplied with unique accessories - a cowhide leather pouch for the S120 and a leather hard case for the G16.
The limited edition G16 will cost 69,980 Yen (~$710) and the S120 will be available for 54,980 Yen (~$560). According to Canon's (Japanese) site, both cameras will be available for pre-order at the end of this month. Mark your calendars now.