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Derek

About Derek

Our resident web guru, Derek graduated from Ball State with a BFA in Visual Communications. When not in the office slaying CSS dragons, jousting social media windmills, or working on the blog, he's also a fine artist, working in oil paints and photography. Derek Martin+

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Derek

Canon Updates Stalwart 100-400mm, Drops the Push-Pull And Ups The Sharpness


File this under "well, that took 16 surprising years" but Canon has graced our mornings with a shiny, SHINY new 100-400mm IS today.

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Pretty much everything about the lens that could be upgraded has been. The quirky push-pull is gone, replaced with a traditional twisting zoom ring. But the stiffness and response of that zoom ring is still customizable, so, you can tweak how racking your 100-400 out works best for you. It has also switched to internal focusing, giving it yet another touch of the premium the original model was oddly lacking. The optical formula has jumped from 17 elements in 14 groups up to 21 elements in 16 groups, which has added only a few millimeters to the product but a sure-to-be-felt half pound to the weight. The trade-off for the extra time in the gym is a drop in minimum focusing distance from nearly 6 feet to just over 3 feet (bumping the maximum reproduction ratio up to .31x), and MTF charts that promise big, big things:

mtf

 

We'll have to wait and see how those pan out in the real world of course, but Canon is suggesting quite a notable increase in performance across the board at 100mm, with the sorta changes that will lead to it being visibly sharper across the frame. 400mm sees a less dramatic increase in sharpness performance, but should have a cleaner look especially in out of focus areas as they clean up the various astigmatisms on the graph a bit.

If you weren't already suspecting it, a new model with more glass and performance after a period of time long enough for an American child to grow up and start driving does come with a price hike. The new EF 100-400mm f/4-5,6L IS II USM will run $2,199.99 next month when it starts shipping, which is $500 more than the $1,699.99 price the outgoing model is sitting at. But chin up, Canonistas, that's still also $500 less than Nikon's equivalent offering in their camp.

If the price isn't too salty for you, and a better 100-400 is exactly the thing you've been waiting on, we're taking preorders now. No charge to preorder, and we'll call you once we have one for you and arrange payment only at that time. If you choose to or need to decline, you're free to do so and we don't tie up your funds in the interim.

Preorder a new 100-400mm II



Derek

Panasonic Announces New GM5 and LX100


gm5_k_h-fs12032_front

 

Two new cameras announced by Panasonic today, one an entry into their G line of mirrorless compacts based on the 4/3 system, and the other a rather thinly veiled competitor to Sony's RX100 line of large sensor compacts called the, er, LX100. Yeah... So, there's that.

The GM5 will be a new entry in their "fashion" conscious line of mirrorless bodies, and will slot in above it's older and lesser sibling the GM1. Most notable in the differences is the sprouting of an EVF on the GM5, as well as a hotshoe (using the same ISO-standard mount and pin configuration of all Olympus and Panasonic flashes.) Also of curious note is a maximum shutter sped of 1/16,000. Which is not something I read every day. It's a pretty solid shooter in other regards too, with a 16 megapixel sensor, ISO up to 25,600, a much improved AF system, built-in WiFi, and a continuous drive of almost 6fps. Release is Novemberish and it'll run $899 with a 24-64mm equivalent lens.

Lumix DMC-GM5 with 12-32mm

lx100k_front

 

The other camera, the LX100, is part of a quickly growing market of compacts with 1" sensors and fast lenses. The Panasonic entry is a step-up from its already tried-and-true LX series including the LX7, and will sport a 12 megapixel sensor behind a newly Leica-designed 24-75mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent lens. It has a high resolution EVF for still shooting, and on the video side does the regular HD twins of 720 and 1080, but is also ready to do 4K at 30fps. It'll turn in focus times as fast as .014 second, with the depth from defocus feature inherited from the bigger G series to help cheat a bit more subject/background separation from the still ultimately smaller sensor. It'll go as fast as 1/4000 second with the mechanical shutter and up to 1/16,000 with the electronic. Wifi, NFC, yadda yadda. And an $899 price tag this fall.

Lumix LX100



Derek

Canon Announces New G7 X, Three New Lenses, 2 Other New Powershots


The 7D Mk II wasn't Canon's only new announcement today. Oh no. They've kept me and my minion hopping this morning with a total of 7 new products. Sure, the 7D Mk II is probably the most exciting, but let's just give the others a quick skim here.

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Second most exciting is probably the G7 X professional compact. As always representing the high end of Canon's compact line, and aimed at being a support camera for pros, the G7 X sports a 20.2 megapixel Canon-Powershot-first 1" CMOS sensor behind a 24-100mm f1.8-2.8 equivalent zoom lens. The optical viewfinder has gone the way of the dodo still, which'll be a strike against it for a lot of you we know. To make up for it the LCD is a nice 3" mutil-angle touch model, though the usual complaints about daylight visibility we can't speak to from the spec sheet alone. For novelty, it has 4 new scene modes for capturing starry skies, and for actually being useful it has raw file support. Wifi is built in, and of course it does 720p and 1080p video.

It'll set you back a not-unreasonable $699.99 next month, we hope.

Preorder a G7 X

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Let's go ahead an knock out the other two PowerShots real quick, because while nice they're a bit more "another year, another camera" than most of today's announcements. The SX60 HS' standout feature is the  65x optical zoom (equivalent to 21-1365mm). It's got a 16mp sensor being piped through a DIGIC 6 processor, built-in GPS, and will run $549.99 next month. The N2 is the update to last year's funky square selfie cam, and, er, yeah. It's still a funky, square selfie cam. Built-in NFC and wifi set it up for quick social sharing, and an 8x zoom helps it, ah, zoom? It'll run $299.99 later this year, in black or white.

20140915_thumbL_eflens_ef4003q

Back to more interesting products we have an unexpected update to the 400mm DO IS, called as you might expect the  EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM. If you're not used to the green ring lenses here (and what with there only being a couple of them, and them being specialty as is we won't blame ya) the DO lenses use diffractive optical (DO) elements, which are schmancy exotics that raise the cost but lower the size and weight of the lens. The 400mm DO II will weigh only 4.8lbs, which is still half the weight of the 400mm 2.8 II, so, there's that. If you need a more affordable, lighter telephoto than the 400mm f2.8 II, but still have a bit of money to burn on a premium telephoto this might be worth a look, and will require you to drop $6,899.00 to add to your bag. Preorders while we wait on it to begin shipping are here:

EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM

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Also new is a 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, which is their first full-frame zoom with a stepping motor for smooth AF in video mode. That's actually pretty much the sales pitch, it's a full-frame zoom with STM for smooth video AF though not particularly exciting aperture ranges, and it'll set you back a reasonable $599.99 for the combination.

EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM

 

And, lastly, how about a 24mm STM pancake prime?

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You might notice it says "EFS" on there, so, full-framers need not apply here. But for you APS-C guys (like that new 7D Mk II) who'd enjoy a compact, light 24mm f.8, well, soon enough $149.99 will get you one. And it's STM to boot.

EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM

 



Derek

About Time It Got Here: The Canon EOS 7D Mk II


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After what seems like ages of speculation and price drops and rebates on the original EOS 7D, Canon has finally announced the actually truthfully long-awaited successor to the EOS 7D. Sitting atop their APS-C line the EOS 7D line is aimed at professionals who prefer the weight and space savings of a compact body. And previously, that trade in size was at the cost of the absolute very best performance going, but if I'm reading that spec sheet right, the EOS 7D Mk II doesn't really come with any of those trade-offs.

So, I said it's an APS-C model, and to be specific it's of their beloved funky 1.6x crop factor. Full-frame shooters still need to look at the 5D or 1D X line. The sensor is a newly developed 20.2 megapixel model being piped through not one but two of those shiny new DIGIC 6 processors. As a result, you get native ISO of 100-16,000 (expanded 100-51,600) and 10 frames per second continuous shooting for 31 raw frames or 1,090 JPG. And, because fast shooting like that needs a strong AF system underneath it, Canon has drastically upgraded the AF module for this camera. It features 65 points now, and every one of them is the more accurate cross-type. EVERY. ONE. The center one is also sensitive down to -3EV, but really, can we go back to talking about how Canon fit 65 cross-type points on a sensor? I don't envy their engineers these past couple years, I'll tell ya that. To round out the imaging heart is a new 150,000-pixel RGB+IR 252-zone metering sensor, and a shutter life beefed up to 200,000 exposures.

So clearly the 7D Mark II is off to a solid start. Let's see what else there is in the announcement here. Hmmmm-hmm-hmm. Well, in addition to being a boss all cross-type AF system, it inherits the dual-pixel AF from its little bro the 70D letting it do contrast and phase detection at each point for smoother more accurate focus in live view and especially in video mode. It picks up the HDR and multiple exposure modes found in its full-frame counterpart, the 5D Mark III. Additional flexibility comes through the addition of an intervalometer and a bulb timer for those creative time lapse projects. The "Intelligent Viewfinder" has approx. 100% coverage, the LCD is a bit smaller than the going rate at just 3", but is at least 1,040,000 dots for making images look downright fuzzy as soon as you import them to your computer, and hey, it looks like GPS is built right on in there.

Video mode gets a bump, with it shooting in 720p or 1080p at up to 60fps, which it says enables it to do slow-motion capture at full resolution in either the ALL-I or IPB codec. You can also record in .MOV or .MP4, if you're into the more use-ready formats. A mini-HDMI port will pipe uncompressed stream to an external recording unit if you're looking to use this more professionally for your video workflow.

Canon's saying shipments will start in November, and you're looking at $1,799.00 body only or $2,149.00 with an 18-135mm STM lens. It'll use yet-another-new battery, the LP-E6N (though it will be backwards compatible with your LP-E6s if you have some), and a new battery grip, the BG-E16 (also works with the older LP-E6s), and a new wireless file transmitter in the form of the WFT-E7A Version 2. So, the camera itself is a nice price point, but if you want a grip or wireless transfer budget a little extra for accessories this time around.

Preorders? Eee-yup.

EOS 7D Mk II Body Only

EOS 7D Mk II with 18-135mm STM

read more



Derek

Photokina's Coming Up All The Lenses I Can't Even.


Nikon's not the only one having fun in the pre-Photokina run up. We're hearing that Sigma, Tamron, and Sony have also been announcing some new lenses, and we figured we should probably drop in and mention a thought or two on them for y'all.

a012_2

People might argue with me, but for my money the coolest of the bunch is Tamron announcing the development of a 15-30mm f2.8 constant full-frame ultra-wide zoom... with image stabilization! Yup, joining the 24-70 and 70-200 will be a stabilized full-frame zoom on the wide end, completing Tamron's own holy trinity of lenses. Holier, really, once you factor in that theirs are all stabilized, and not just the 70-200. It'll be noted as model A012, and have 18 elements in 13 groups including a so-exotic-I-think-they-made-it-up XGM (eXpanded Glass Moulded aspherical) element. It'll also sport update coatings (including being Tamron's first fluorite coated lens) and a special copy of Silky Pix for working with images shot using the new SP line of Tamron lenses. Though, when it's coming and for how much are anyone's guess.

Preorder a Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 VC

After the Tamron, second most interesting has to be Sigma, who decided that announcing just one lens of a type was for chumps and actually announced two completely different 150-600mm f5-6.3 lenses at the same time. One is in their "Sport" line and is a pro caliber lens with heavier build and superb quality, the other is in their "Contemporary" line and offers a smaller, lighter lens in exchange for some of the quality and cost.

The Sport 150-600mm

The Sport 150-600mm

 

The "Contemporary" 150-600mm

The "Contemporary" 150-600mm

 

Both versions offer OS "optical stabilization," which is good because on zooms this big you'll need that unless you travel everywhere with a heavy-duty tripod at hand. The Sport model is splash proof and features 24 elements in 16 groups and takes a jaw-dropping 105mm filter on front. Oh yeah, and 2 of those lenses are FLD and 2 are SLD, so, dispersion ought to be pretty well addressed. The Contemporary model steps back ever so slightly from the ledge, topping out at 20 elements in 14 groups (only 1 FLD, but still 3 SLD), and a 95mm filter thread that doesn't quite manage to be reasonable either. Both lenses are solidly TBA in both the arrival and price categories, so, keep an eye out for more news as it comes.

Sigma 150-600mm Sport

Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary

If you prefer to get your super-telephoto lengths through more conventional means, they've also announced they're making a new 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter, both of which are splash proof and autofocus up to f8 (so, yanno, not on the leviathans pictured above). If you're guessing that TBA is the trend here too, you're pretty good at this guessing thing then.

1.4x Teleconverter

2.0x Teleconverter

And, to close us out we have Sony, who's turning in the gnarliest looking lens I've seen in a while:

selp28135g

Those of you who this lens is meant for will know already, but those spikey rings everywhere aren't just a defense system or a way of attracting mates. The FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS here is born to be a cinema lens, and all those are the tracks for easier use of cinematic zoom and focus rings, knobs, and other contraptions. Now, the FE designation lets us know this is an E-mount lens of the full-frame variety, meaning it's for use on the A7 family (A7,A7r,A7s) of mirrorless cameras. Care has been put into it to minimize breathing while focusing, and it'll maintain its focus point while zooming like a proper cinema lens. The three rings control the zoom, focus, and iris. All-in-all, a solid show of Sony's commitment to making the A7 family true stand-outs in the hot 4k video space. Availability I don't know, but the price for this bad boy will be around $2500 once we start getting them.

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm



Derek

Is Nikon's New D750 the Full Frame You've Been Waiting On?


D750_front.low

Well, I must admit I was beginning to think it wasn't going to ever come. But, here it is, on my desk to talk about this morning: the long-awaited successor to Nikon's D700 (which is, disclosure, still my own personal workhorse camera).

The D750, the specs tell me, is a 24.3mp full-frame shooter with EXPEED IV and a native ISO range of 100-12,800 (or 50-51,200 expanded). It has newer Advanced Multi-Cam 3500-FX II 51 point AF sensor (with 15 cross types, 11 of which work down to f1.8 just dandy), and along with that gets the grouped target feature seen on other newer high-end Nikons. Nikon also claims it's their first that can work down to -3ev, so, even better for shooting in the dark. You get the updated 3D Color Matrix III module for metering, and around back the LCD is beefed up to 3.2" with 1,299k dots of resolution and new tilting feature. Full 1080p is on board (this ain't the Df after all), and it marks Nikon's first full-frame to have the WiFi built in (so you don't have to pretend you love the WU-1a anymore). Frames per second actually bumps up, unexpectedly, to 6.5frames per second. Shutter life remains rated at 150,000 frames. So, that's all definitely good news all around there.

Moving on to the more mixed news then. A keyword you'll see time and again for the D750 is "light." This is achieved by switch out some of the magnesium on the front and top for carbon fiber instead, in a 'monocoque' skinning process. The other mixed news is the specs still saying the flash sync is at 1/200 (boo) (but there's another note saying it can go to 1/250 if you want with decreased flash range between 1/200-1/250, which I can live with), and the top shutter speed drops a stop to 1/4000 of a second. So, those are some mixed bag things depending on your needs, and if you're a fan of cheating your sync to 1/320 or shooting at 1/8000 or all magnesium chassis this might not be the right shooter for you.

But I'd like t swing this back up to the brighter tone we started with by mentioning the price tag. The D750 will be available later this very month for just $2,299.95 body only. Or heck, if you're new to full-frame and need a good lens to get you going, get a 24-120mm VR with it for $3,599.95. It'll work with the new MB-D16 battery grip which'll run $485.

AFS_20_1.8G.low SB500_back.low SB500_front34r.low

Alongside the D750, Nikon has added a new AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED, and a new SB-500 flash. The lens is pretty much as it says, a fast wide angle full-frame prime, and is slated to run $799.95 this month. The SB-500 is a simple flash with 100 lux LED video light, 90 degrees bounce and 180 degrees rotation. It runs on just 2 AAs to keep size and weight down. Combined with the low guide number of 24m and the lack of LCD controls makes this appealing to people who just need an occasional flash indoors, but probably less so to your average hobbyist or pro. It'll run a pretty affordable $249.95, however.

Preorders can of course be had for the lot of this, so, I'll give you some links here:

D750 Body Only

D750 with 24-120mm

AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED

SB-500



Derek

Olympus Intros New E-PL7 with "Selfie"-Oriented Features


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I was kinda hoping all the buzz I was seeing about the new Pen Lite being a "selfie" camera was just the internet being its usual cynical self, but apparently no, Olympus really has built the new E-PL7 with everybody's favorite portrait style (if just to hate) in mind:

The 3-inch, 1.04 million-dot high-definition touch LCD monitor automatically turns into a mirror display and activates into its “Selfie Mode” when tilted downward in the 180-degree position, perfect for one-touch selfies. The shutter-release button appears on the screen so subjects can frame the image appropriately, shooting one second after the button is touched, and capturing beautiful selfies that could not have been captured with a smart phone alone. Selfie interval shooting provides a fun way to capture images with a custom self-timer switching button that defaults to deliver three shots at one second intervals, giving subjects time to strike different poses. When an electronic zoom lens is attached, the zoom automatically adjusts to the wide-angle position so that the user can quickly take their shot, incorporating the background as well.

The E-PL7’s bundled flash helps users take beautiful selfies against nighttime backgrounds, and e-Portrait can be activated with a single touch for more beautiful skin textures. iAuto has also been enhanced with selfies in mind: Portrait settings have been added to common scene modes to automatically detect 42 types of scenes to match the subject and optimize for the ideal image.

Well. OK then. So, that's a thing. But, don't worry, if you're into other styles of photography the E-PL7 still has you covered, and inherits a lot of trickle-down goodness from the OM-D E-M10 above it in the line-up. There's a 16.05 megapixel LiveMOS sensor being piped through a TruePic VII processor, the FAST AF system that has made the OM-D line sparkle shows up here with 87 points across the frame as well as Small AF Target and Super Spot AF for precision focusing, 8fps continuous shooting (up to 20 raws or unlimited JPG) or 3.5fps continuous with full-time continuous AF tracking, and 3-axis sensor-based IS form a solid core. The LCD hasn't just been tricked out for selfies, the aspect ratio has been changed away from the 16:9 video-ready aspect to a more image-friendly 3:2 letting you see more of the picture when using the camera as, well, a camera. There's no optical viewfinder in keeping with the Pen/OM-D differentiation, but there's still that nice optional one you can pick up if you're into viewfinders. All of the other usuals are here, like the creative filters and HD video and yadda yadda. ISO is 200-25600 natively. There's wi-fi built in and you can control it via apps for iOS and Android for easier sharing. And so on.

It'll run $599 body only, or $699 with the M.ZUIKO 14-42mm II kit lens. Both choices will come in black or silver, keeping it retro and classy. Preorders are of course waiting for you on our site, or read the press release after the jump.

E-PL7 Body Only

E-PL7 with 14-42mm II

read more



Derek

ICC Profile For Soft-Proofing Our Wide Format Printer


Good news for all you fans of our Photo Lab! We have just today re-profiled our Epson 7880 with our preferred Epson Premium Luster today! That's the combo we use for many of the larger prints that go out to satisfied customers. And, with the new profile fresh in hand we're going to make it available to all of you looking to do a little color calibration and soft proofing before sending your images over. For now this only applies to photos printed 11x14 and over on luster (obviously), but, if you're all digging it we might maybe try some for our small format printer and its two papers as well.

If you're not sure why this is awesome, having a printer's calibrated profile around will let certain programs like Adobe's excellent Lightroom 5 "soft proof" an image for printing. That is, it will simulate for you what an image would look like coming out of our printer on the luster paper so you can make any perceptual tweaks you want to knowing the final you see will be really darn close to what the print comes out looking like (accounting for things like ambient lighting and such).

As seen on screen (left) versus soft-proofed for our printer (right)

As seen on screen (left) versus soft-proofed for our printer (right). Note how the right side shows a decrease in brightness and contrast.

You download the profile here:

http://robertscamera.com/lab/roberts-photo-lab-epson-luster-august-2014.icm

To install, try the following:

Windows

Download the file to anywhere you can find, right click on it and choose Install. Windows makes this pretty easy, actually.

OSX

In theory, you should just need to copy the file into /Library/ColorSync/Profiles for it to be usable by all users in all apps (you'll need admin access to the computer).

You can also install it just for yourself by using your personal library instead in /Users/[your_user_name_here]/Library/ColorSync/Profiles

If you're trying to use it in Adobe on a Mac and it's not showing up despite being installed in one of those two folders, you can copy it directly into Adobe's folder and solve that tidily: /Library/Application Support/Adobe/Color/Profiles/Recommended



Derek

Fuji Announces New X30 Compact


Fujifilm (a name which, really, gets more antiquated with each new camera from them) has today announced the upgrade to their popular X20 compact, with the rather predictable name of the X30.

Fujifilm X30 Digital Compact

If you were hoping for some upgrades to the core guts, you're gonna be disappointed. The 12 megapixel 2/3" sensor, maximum ISO of 12,800 and the 28-112mm f2-2.8 lens all match the specs of the outgoing X20. For the differences we'll have to look elsewhere, though differences there do be. The rear LCD is up to 3" from 2.8", and up to 920k dots from the more tepid 460k of the X20. And it tilts! Battery life is considerably improved, up to 470 shots CIPA average from 270 (for those too lazy to grab a calculator that's a 74% improvement). The optical viewfinder is gone though, which is kind of a bummer. They have replaced it with a pretty solid EVF with a .005 second refresh rate, 2.36 million dots, OLED construction, and using 4 lenses for .65x magnification and 100% coverage. Still, we suspect many of you will still miss the optical one however good the electronic may be, but we'll give them credit for at least continuing to try and make ever-better EVFs.

There's a new control ring around the lens, which is slowly but surely becoming a standard idea. There's also a new classic chrome film emulation mode, if you're into those. And there's a remote control app for iOS and Android now.

The X30 will come in black or silver, and set you back $599.95 late next month. As always, feel free to put in a preorder, or head over to Fuji's site to read the full press release.



Derek

NEX Is Dead, Long Live Alpha! And, Here's the A5100


a5100

Do you remember the NEX-5T? Of course you do, because you clearly remember each of the several hundred engineer-named cameras that come out every year, right? Who doesn't? In the unlikely case that you don't remember every hard-to-remember camera model we talk about, the NEX-5T was the last mid-level model NEX camera Sony made, and is now the last of the NEX branding to be dropped in favor of the more liked Alpha brand. It's replacement is the Alpha A5100. Nothing else has changed, we're still talking about a mirrorless compact system with the Sony E mount, compact body, 1.5x crop sensor. There are specs bumps, of course, with the A5100. Resolution is up to 24 megapixels, ISO range is up to 100-25,600, there's a touchscreen, on sensor phase detect AF, a higher resolution display, and more. Actually, it's easier to think of the A5100 as a cheaper A6000 with a slower frame rate. "Cheaper?" you ask. Yep. The A5100 will run about $550 for body only, or $700 with a 16-50mm, an easy $100 less all around than its bigger bro. If a cheaper camera with the A6000's quality and only a few catches sounds good to you, hit up our preorder links below:

A5100 Body Only

A5100 with 16-50mm Kit