Friday, 24 January 2014

Phase One officially annouces IQ250 - 50MP CMOS digital back


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Press release:



Phase One Introduces First CMOS-based Medium Format Camera

Opens New Frontiers for Photographers

COPENHAGEN, January 24, 2014 -- Phase One today introduced the world’s first CMOS-based medium format digital camera back. The new 50-megapixel IQ250 brings unprecedented image capture flexibility to the IQ2 family of wireless-enabled high-end camera systems. Whether photo sessions are held in the studio or on a mountainside, the IQ250 lets photographers capture stunning imagery in available light -- virtually anywhere and any time.

With a sensor size of 44x33mm, the IQ250 offers 68 percent more image-capture real estate than any full-frame 35mm DSLR camera and the widest usable ISO range of any medium format camera system. Its phenomenal dynamic range of 14 f-stops enables photographers to capture the most demanding scenes in one shot, while retaining details in highlights and shadows.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

New Apple Mac Pro Available Starting Tomorrow


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The highly anticipated Mac Pro will be available to order tomorrow from the Apple Online Store, prices start at £3,299 inc VAT (£2,749.17 ex VAT).

Press release:


CUPERTINO, California―December 18, 2013―Apple today announced the all-new Mac Pro will be available to order starting Thursday, December 19. Redesigned from the inside out, the all-new Mac Pro features the latest Intel Xeon processors, dual workstation-class GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and ultra-fast ECC memory.

Designed around an innovative unified thermal core, the all-new Mac Pro packs unprecedented performance into an aluminium enclosure that is just 9.9-inches tall and one-eighth the volume of the previous generation. Mac Pro features 4-core, 6-core, 8-core or 12-core Intel Xeon processors running at Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz and two workstation-class AMD FirePro GPUs that deliver up to eight times the graphics performance of the previous generation Mac Pro.* PCIe-based flash storage delivers sequential read speeds up to 10 times faster than conventional desktop hard drives, and ECC DDR3 gives the new Mac Pro up to 60GBps of memory bandwidth for seamlessly editing full-resolution 4K video while simultaneously rendering effects in the background. With an incredible six Thunderbolt 2 ports, each with up to 20Gbps of bandwidth per device, the new Mac Pro completely redefines desktop expandability with support for up to 36 high-performance peripherals, including the latest 4K displays.

Pricing & Availability
The Mac Pro is available with a 3.7 GHz quad-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz, dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2GB of VRAM each, 12GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage starting at £2,499 inc VAT (£2,082.50 ex VAT); and with a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage starting at £3,299 inc VAT (£2,749.17 ex VAT). Configure-to-order options include faster 8-core or 12-core Intel Xeon E5 processors, AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of VRAM, up to 64GB of memory, and up to 1TB of PCIe-based flash storage. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at www.apple.com/uk/mac-pro.

The all-new Mac Pro will be available to order starting Thursday, December 19 through the Apple Online Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers.


*Testing conducted by Apple in October 2013 using preproduction Mac Pro 12-core 2.7 GHz units with 1TB flash storage and AMD FirePro D700 graphics, and shipping Mac Pro 12-core 3.06 GHz units with 512GB SSD and ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Free 40mm f2.8 STM lens, Adobe package when bought with Canon EOS 5D Mk III - WEX UK deal UK

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UK dealer WEX is giving away a Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM lens, worth £169 (one of my favorite lenses) when purchasing a Canon EOS 5D Mk III. Further, Canon is offering both Adobe Lightroom 5 and Premiere Elements free when bought with the Canon EOS 5D MK III (or Canon EOS 6D) worth a further £180.

Please see here for details. With each product sold I get a small referral fee (but that doesn't cost you more, as it's paid by the retailer)

Other options available here.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Samyang T-S 24mm f3.5 ED AS UMC Tilt/Shift lens review


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With their range of movements tilt and shift lenses offered in various focal lengths for 35mm full-frame DSLRs have become indispensable for architecture, interiors, still-life, food and product photography. Before Canon redesigned their film-era 24mm version with an improved optical design and uniquely, adding a user-selectable option of aligning the tilt function with the shift movement, these lenses were quite reasonably priced.

Just four years ago, Canon offered the three focal lengths (24, 45 and 90mm) at £899 each, suggesting that these were marketed a ‘loss leader’, to entice users to switch from Nikon. At that time, with just one 85mm f/2.8D model in the range lacking automatic aperture control, Nikon was lagging behind.

The firm was soon to refresh the 85mm, while adding a 24mm and 45mm each with electronic automatic aperture control (a first for Nikon), identified by the PC-E designation. As with the earlier Canon TS-E models, they lack the option to tilt and shift in the same plane, prompting some users to call these lenses shift and swing. While you can specify the movements to be aligned at the factory when ordering new, or retrospectively via the subsidiary for a fee, it’s not exactly flexible if the user wants to switch back and forth regularly.

While Canon has yet to upgrade the 45 and 90 mm models to include this sought-after feature, the upgraded version, the EF 24mm f/3.5L TS-E now retails at just over £1,700, while the less capable Nikon 24mm f/3.5 D ED PC-E is just shy of £1500.

Third-party offerings are limited to three Schneider Kreuznach models, which start at £2,800 for the 90mm but increase dramatically to £5,400 for the 28mm. Crucially though, these can tilt while shifting, like the new Canon models.

However, ROK based Samyang is the first to offer a accessibly priced 24mm f/3.5 at £950 inc VAT and in a number of mounts, including Sony A and Pentax K, as the usual Nikon and Canon. The manual claims Sony E, Samsung NEX, MFT and even Fujifilm X-mount, but these have yet to be seen. The optical construction is promising with 16 elements in 11 groups, of which two elements uses ED glass and two adopt aspherical surfaces. However, movements are still quite conservative (though similar to rivals) with ±8.5-degrees of tilt, and ±12mm of shift.

As with others in the firm's range, the Samyang lacks autofocus, obviously, and any automatic aperture control. In fact, there are no mechanical or electronic interfaces on the lens mount, so there’s no lens data exchanged (or EXIF data visible in post). The Schneider models are the same, in that respect. Most cameras don't have a problem with stopped down metering but this may be an issue. It's simply all too easy to forget, especially if you have already worked with the Canon and newer Nikon equivalents with their electronic aperture control.

Build quality is good rather than great. The body including the tilt-unit and shift plate is made from an aluminium alloy but the plastic aperture collar seems rather cheap. On a short-term loan, it's impossible to say just how well it stands up to professional use. From a quick look inside the throat of the lens, the rack and pinion teeth seem sturdy, but the same can be also said of the Canon models and they're known to break (usually when trying to make an adjustment while the mechanism is locked).

The lens has no hood, which is a pity as the front element is both barely recessed and heavily convex. To its credit it's largely free of flare on the Canon EOS 1 DS MK III I used for testing, but it is highly prone to ghosting. Patches are small but it's worth shielding the lens at all times if shooting even vaguely towards the sun.

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While one of the less visually interesting stitched panoramas taken with the Samyang, this particular image was chosen for the presence of ghosting. It's a fairly common phenomenon with this lens, necessitating effective shielding and just one of a couple of reasons that dictate the use of a tripod pretty much exclusively.


A small depth of field scale is included though this is largely redundant on today's high-res digital bodies. With the relatively short throw of the manual focus collar, especially between infinity and 1m, focus accuracy is critical. My Canon focus screen is usually accurate enough for manual focusing at this maximum aperture but I had a number of poorly focused images when handheld. And, that's despite owning two Canon TSE lenses (one a 24mm) and having experience of using virtually every other model for DSLRs, including the Hasselblad HTS adaptor. I can really only conclude that tethering or focusing by live view (or EVF if you have it) is essential.

As with the Nikon and Canon models, the Samyang adopts knurled controls to adjust the movements and has smaller versions of the same positioned 180 degrees apart on the outer casing to lock them. These are all made of plastic and are quite small. They're also fiddly to use when the movements and their associated controls are 90 degrees apart let alone when the tilt option is aligned with the shift movement.

The much more expensive (and much larger) Schneider models avoid this scenario completely by adopting locking collars and by duplicating markings on the barrel, which may account in some part for the additional price.

Although the slim profile of the Samyang’s controls is a necessity to avoid obstructing each other, it is not the Samyang's only shortcoming. More of an issue is that movements are slack, and that once unlocked the barrel is free to move and more often than not simply drop, due to gravity. This alone makes it almost impossible to use without error when hand-held, something that I do regularly with my own TS-E lenses. Locked down on a tripod it's a different story, but it's an unnecessary complication that's avoided with the Canon and Schneider models. With that proviso, the Samyang is sharp centrally wide-open but optimal performance isn't achieved until stopped down to f/5.6-8. Some slight fringing is visible on high contrast edges if you look carefully but it's negligible and easily removed in post.

For me, personally, the Samyang's inability to reliably hold tilt and shift movements while making adjustments for occasional hand-held use is disappointing. However, if it's to be used exclusively on a tripod, as is often the case, the Samyang can be recommended. It will certainly be attractive to Sony full frame users, where the EVF and focus peaking of the Sony SLT-A99 will be a huge advantage over the OVFs in the current Nikon and Canon models.

US Links


B&H in New York at $999.

Adorama at $999.

Amazon at $859 (Branded as Rokinon)

UK Links


WEX at £949

Amazon UK at £813

Monday, 4 November 2013

Nikon to announce retro Df model

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Nikon is set to introduce a new model, slated to be the Df, if a series of TV teasers aired in the US is anything to go by. Is this a picture of the real thing? Maybe, maybe not. We should know tomorrow though. The lower dial to the right of the pentaprism (from the front) is used to select the ISO settings. How novel.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 first impressions

 

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Build quality is impressive, and the aperture ring is nicely weighted, an improvement over the 14mm and the Zeiss 12mm in my opinion. I'm not keen on the plastic, petal shaped hood, especially as it was Fuji who followed Leica with the more effective squared hoods. It's not flocked with felt either, which I prefer. I've had the lens for a few days now and thought I would add a few samples. I'll be adding more in due course.

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Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 at 1.4, ISO200 out of camera JPEGs from X-Pro1.

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At 100-percent actual pixels (taken from the extreme corners) there are some slight double edged effects consistent with slightly over-corrected designs.

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After the Storm; Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 at f1.4, ISO200. X-Pro1.

The Fujinon 23mm f1.4 XF R lens can be pre-ordered from WEX in the UK for £849, or in the US from B&HPhoto and Adorama for $899.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Nikon starts shipping new 58mm prime

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Nikon is starting to ship the new 58mm f1.4G in Europe and and the US. I have one coming and I may post some samples here next week, perhaps against the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L.

The Nikkor 58mm f1.4G can be pre-ordered from WEX in the UK for £1,599 or in the US through B&H Photo for $1,696.95.

DxOMark publishes Sony A7R sensor results

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DxOMark has published the results of the full-frame 36-MP Sony A7R. The lab concludes the sensor is very close in performance to that used in the Nikon D800 and D800E. Read the full review here at DxOMark. Please note that as the author of the review I can't comment further on any aspect of the results.

The Sony A7R can be pre-ordered at Wex in the UK for £1,699. US readers can pre-order at B&H Photo at $2,298, or at Adorama for $2,298