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CP+ 2013: Nikon has several samples of its 18-35mm F3.5-4.5G ED consumer-level wide-angle full-frame zoom on show, while Sigma has re-designed and re-worked several of its most interesting lenses, which are being shown in prototype form at its stand. This includes a new version of its 30mm F1.4 for APS-C DSLRs. And, while none are available to shoot with yet, we got a chance to handle them, along with the portrait-friendly Sigma DP3 Merrill.
|The AF-S 18-35mm G offers a well-balanced combination on the D800.||Sadly the lenses on show are early samples and we weren't allowed to publish images from them.|
The Nikkor 18-35mm follows the design of recent mid-level Nikon lenses, expanding gently at its mid point such that it accepts 77mm filters without the pronounced lip found on the front of its AF-D predecessor. The relatively modest position of this lens in the Nikkor lineup is reflected in its few external controls - just the M/A - M switch which is pretty-much standard on AF-S lenses. This G version has gained just 15g over the existing version, so it's still a light weight option - a consolation for it not having the metal construction of the company's top-grade optics.
|The new Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC retains the original version's substantial, squat presence.||The lens comes supplied with a hood, an increasingly rare occurence.|
Sigma's 30mm F1.4 - for many years one of the only normal primes designed specifically for APS-C DSLRs - has received a redesign. This lens is part of Sigma's 'Art' range of high-quality specialist optics and has been given a visual makeover to match this designation, along with a complete optical redesign. Despite the more complex optical formula, the latest version is a very similar size - 3mm longer but also 3mm smaller in diameter, so it's still the same solid little lump when mounted on an entry-level DSLR.
As seems to be the story of CP+, the 30mm F1.4 is a pre-production sample, so we won't be able to bring you sample images just yet.
|The 60mm F2.8 DN arguably makes more sense on APS-C but it works well, size-wise even on small Micro Four Thirds bodies...||...and is likely to offer a considerably less expensive alternative to Olympus' 75mm F1.8 (albeit at the cost of over a stop in brightness).|
Sigma is also showing-off its redesigned DN series of lenses for mirrorless cameras, including the newly-added 60mm F2.8 DN. The re-bodied lenses devote most of their metal outer surfaces to focus (everything forward of the first centimeter or so is the focus ring), and the prototypes on display exhibited none of the stiction found on current versions, that could occur as the focus rings caught against the casing. There's no word yet on pricing, but we're hoping they'll be close to the very reasonable pricing of the current versions. While F2.8 apertures may not seem terribly exciting, the telecentric optical designs should give good image quality, and a 60mm F2.8 should be a reasonable portrait lens on both APS-C and Micro Four Thirds.
|The Sigma DP3 is the largest DP camera, thanks to the longest lens used so far.||A 50mm F2.8 lens won't give extremely shallow depth-of-field but does allow some subject isolation.|
Sigma was the first company to offer a large-sensor, fixed-lens compact, when it first introduced its DP series and deserves the credit for that bravery. The introduction of the 14x3MP Foveon sensor means the current DP line-up share very little with those original models - the optical were redesigned to suit the larger APS-C format. The latest model, the DP3 Merrill, shows just how far those changes have brought the cameras, with even this early sample focusing quickly and showing a level of responsiveness that the originals lacked.
Write times were still fairly lengthy (it's unknown what type of card this unit was using), but the sense of having to wait for the camera is gone. The 75mm equivalent F2.8 lens is a slightly odd choice but it's an effective focal length that many APS-C users are familiar with, offering some degree of flexibility while also being well-suited to portraiture. Some quick shots of other interested users on the show floor suggests the DP3 will give the familiar Foveon level of detail with a good degree of background separation. Beyond that, we wouldn't want to speculate until we've had a chance to shoot with a finished sample.