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CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron’s new SP prime lenses

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

Tamron is showing off two brand new lenses at CP+ this year - the SP 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD (shown here) and SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro. The 'SP' in the model names stands for 'Super Performance' - a designation that Tamron reserves for its high-end optics. We headed to the Tamron booth today and got our hands on the new lenses, and Tamron's upcoming TAP-in Console.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

First up is the SP 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD, which slots right alongside the previously-announced 35mm and 45mm F1.8 primes that Tamron released last year. Like those lenses it is relatively compact, but feels extremely solid and has a nice weight to it, balancing well on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (provided by Tamron to get a feel for the how the lens handles). 

It's worth noting the Nikon version of this lens uses an electromagnetic aperture control, rather than the traditional aperture lever.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

The 85mm features LD (low dispersion) and XLD (extra low dispersion) elements to reduce flare and ghosting and a fluorine coating on the front element to keep moisture and fingerprints at bay. Nine aperture blades ensure circular out-of-focus highlights. MTF (theoretical) curves suggest outstanding resolution and contrast. The VC system offers up to 3.5 stops of shake reduction (tested to CIPA standards) and its ring-type ultrasonic motor provides fast and near-silent autofocus when we tested this pre-production sample.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

It's hard to see in this photo, but the lens mount of the new 85mm and 90mm SP primes is protected by a rubber gasket, to protect against dust and moisture incursion into the lens throat. Expected to be available in April in Canon and Nikon mount versions, a Sony A-mount version will follow later. Pricing is still TBC. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

Next up is the SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro, which offers true macro 1:1 reproduction at a focusing distance of 13.9cm/5.5in. A 9-blade aperture ensures circular out-of-focus highlights. Tamron has been making a 90mm macro lens of some or other kind for a very very long time, and all of them have been extremely well-regarded. Our first impressions of the new 90mm are that in terms of handling, this might be the best yet. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

Like the other recently-announced SP primes, build quality is very high, and just in terms of aesthetics, the new 90mm looks great. It seems that Tamron has been looking over its shoulder at Sigma's 'Art' range and this is no bad thing. Like those lenses, all of Tamron's new SP primes look more expensive than they are. The 90mm macro will be available next month for a very reasonable $649.

Again, we've only handled a pre-production sample but just from first impressions we're excited to get it into our studio as soon as possible. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

Tamron's new 'TAP-in Console' is also distinctly Sigma-esque. (An early engineering sample is shown here). Available for Nikon and Canon-mount versions of the SP 85mm F1.8, SP 90mm F2.8 Macro, SP 45mm F1.8, SP 35mm F1.8 lenses (the older 35mm and 45mm primes will need updating at a Tamron service center) the TAP-in Console will allow users to calibrate their lenses for precise AF, at either end of a zoom and at three different subject distance ranges (near, mid, far), as well as adjust VC performance parameters. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Tamron's new SP prime lenses

Projected to be available next month, Tamron has not yet announced pricing information for the TAP-in console but after seeing coming to appreciate the value of Sigma's dock, we're very pleased to see this kind of solution being introduced by another manufacturer. Canon and Nikon take note...

 
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Genius T Shirts Have Built-In Camera Lens Cleaning Cloths

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News
Genius Tee Shirt For Photographers

Courtesy of Genius Tees

Genius Pocket Tee shirt

It seems like there has been a bit of a boom in the photographer-specific clothing market lately. The most recent version to hit my inbox is from the folks at Genius T with built-in lens cloth material at the pocket or on a patch across the hip.

The Pocket Tee seems like the most practical option, with a tie-shaped microfiber tongue that flips out from the shirt pocket ready to clean a lens (or a smartphone or iPad screen if you wish). When the cloth isn’t in use, it’s protected by the pocket to keep it clean and it obscures the fact that there’s anything different about the shirt in the first place.

Genius Tee Shirt For Photographers

Courtesy of Genius Tees

Genius Loop Tee shirt

The Genius Patch Tee has a rather large, triangular patch of microfiber at hip level, which is more geared toward cleaning off an iPad or something of the like, but will work for cameras lenses as well. That patch, however, isn’t protected when not in use.

The Loop Tee has—as you may have guessed—a microfiber loop near the hip, which is less noticeable than the patch.

The shirts are in the $20-$25 range and sound pretty high-quality, so not a bad deal in that regard.

 
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Genius T Shirts Have Built-In Camera Lens Cleaning Cloths

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News
Genius Tee Shirt For Photographers

Courtesy of Genius Tees

Genius Pocket Tee shirt

It seems like there has been a bit of a boom in the photographer-specific clothing market lately. The most recent version to hit my inbox is from the folks at Genius T with built-in lens cloth material at the pocket or on a patch across the hip.

The Pocket Tee seems like the most practical option, with a tie-shaped microfiber tongue that flips out from the shirt pocket ready to clean a lens (or a smartphone or iPad screen if you wish). When the cloth isn’t in use, it’s protected by the pocket to keep it clean and it obscures the fact that there’s anything different about the shirt in the first place.

Genius Tee Shirt For Photographers

Courtesy of Genius Tees

Genius Loop Tee shirt

The Genius Patch Tee has a rather large, triangular patch of microfiber at hip level, which is more geared toward cleaning off an iPad or something of the like, but will work for cameras lenses as well. That patch, however, isn’t protected when not in use.

The Loop Tee has—as you may have guessed—a microfiber loop near the hip, which is less noticeable than the patch.

The shirts are in the $20-$25 range and sound pretty high-quality, so not a bad deal in that regard.

 
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Tether Tools’ Case Relay provides continuous power for many DSLR and mirrorless cameras

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News

The Case Relay Camera Power System from Tether Tools offers 'infinite camera power' for most DSLR and mirrorless cameras from Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic. The system works via a DC coupler that plugs into both the camera’s battery port and the Case Relay. The Relay plugs into either a 5V USB external battery or a wall outlet.

Tether Tools says Case Relay, which includes a secondary 1200mAh battery, is a solution for time-lapse photography and other tasks that require uninterrupted, long-lasting power. External battery packs can be swapped without interrupting power, as the Relay's battery will continue to power the camera while the external source is unplugged. 

The Relay Camera Coupler is available from $29.99 to $34.99, depending on camera, and the Case Relay is available now for $99.99. Tether Tools also offers an external 5V USB battery for $49.99 USD. Many Nikon and Canon DSLRs are compatible, as well as mirrorless models from Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus and Panasonic. For a full list of compatible cameras check tethertools.com/relay.

Via: PetaPixel

 
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Video: Hands-on with the Nikon DL trio at CP+ 2016 in Japan

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News

It's all well and good to imagine what Nikon's trio of 1"-type sensor compacts might be like based on spec, but there's nothing like getting them in your hands. See what the buzz is all about – straight from the show floor of CP+ in Yokohama, Japan.

 
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CP+ 2016: Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

Sigma announced several new products at CP+ 2016, including two new cameras. The interchangeable lens SD Quattro And SD Quattro H represent a new departure for the company in two senses - both are mirrorless cameras, and the 'H' features an APS-H format sensor. More conventional are a new 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM Art zoom and 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime for E-mount and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras.

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

Ergonomically, the new SD Quattro and Quattro H are far more conventional than the DP-series compact cameras in Sigma's lineup. But both still handle very differently to most other mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. They're boxier, for one thing, with a distinctive body shape, and a viewfinder that's much farther to the right than the majority of DSLRs and EVF-equipped mirrorless models. 

The 2.3MP viewfinders in Sigma's new cameras are sharp and detailed. Our preliminary impressions of the cameras' hybrid autofocus systems aren't as encouraging. We're hoping that the slow, hesitant AF that we experienced is a symptom of these early, pre-production cameras because in most other respects the new models handle very well. 

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

That being said, the cameras are comfortable to hold, and feel like 'premium' products, as we'd expect from Sigma at this point. This view highlights the unusually deep lens throat, which protrudes a good inch or so from the front of the main camera body. Here, we've attached a (Sigma mount, of course) 50mm F1.4 'Art', and the total package handles (and balances) very well. 

Ergonomically, the SD Quattro and SD Quattro H are identical. The only difference is the size of their sensors, with the APS-H model offering 30% greater surface area. Sigma claims that the Foveon sensors inside the SD Quattro and SD Quattro H offer resolutions equivalent to 39 and 51MP respectively, in conventional Bayer terms (the actual respective resolutions of the top layers of these sensors are 25.5MP and 19.6 MP for the Quattro H and Quattro).

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

The new cameras are being launched alongside a new flash - the EF-630. Compatible with 'most well-known digital SLR cameras' (and the Sigma SD Quattro / H) the EF-630 has a guide number of 63, and the articulating head can zoom to cover focal lengths from 24-200mm. There's even a built-in Wide Panel that allows for coverage of up to 17mm focal length.

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

We don't normally get too excited by flashguns but the EF-630 is an unusually solid-feeling, well-made unit. As well as on-camera use it can also be triggered wirelessly. Wireless trigger is only optical, though, so you'll have to look elsewhere for radio triggering.

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

As well as a new flash, the SD also gets a new dedicated grip. The grip adds duplicated vertical controls and can incorporate two batteries. It also converts the SD Quattro's unconventional body shape into a more traditional flat-sided form. Booooring...

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

Not at all boring is the new 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM Art, which provides a 75-150mm focal length range on the APS-C format DSLRs for which it's designed. Offering a fast maximum aperture and standard 'Art'-series construction quality the 50-100mm is solid, heavy and luxuriously engineered. 

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

With enthusiast APS-C format DSLRs enjoying something of a resurgence in the past couple of years, we suspect there are a lot of Canon EOS 7D Mark II and prospective Nikon D500 owners who will be very excited by this lens. The 50-100mm features three FLD (F Low Dispersion) glass elements, one SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass element, and one high-refractive index, high-dispersion glass element. We expect this lens to deliver great results and we're keen to see how it performs. 

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

At the other end of the size and weight scale is he 30mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary. A small, lightweight prime for mirrorless cameras, the 30mm F1.4 is available in two versions - one for Micro Four Thirds (shown here) and another for Sony's APS-C mirrorless E-mount cameras. We were able to use both versions briefly at CP+ and we're especially impressed by how fast the lens can focus. Eventually, we'd love to see Sigma make a version for full-frame mirrorless (you'll get heavy vignetting if you put the E-mount version on an A7-series camera). 

The 30mm F1.4 will ship in mid-March at an MSRP of $339, while the 50-100mm F1.8 is expected in late April priced at $1099.

CP+ 2016: Firing up the Quattro - Hands-on with new Sigma SD cameras and lenses

Sigma's final CP+ announcement was the Mount Converter MC-11, which lets you attach Sigma's most recent lenses (in either Canon or Sigma mount) on full-frame or APS-C Sony E-mount bodies. The MC-11 adapter claims to support phase detection AF with adapted lenses, and enables the use of both camera and lens stabilization when present.

Effectively an own-brand version of Metabones Canon EF to FE adapters, the MC-11 (sort of) answers a long-standing complaint of Sony A7-series owners about the lack of full-frame Sigma lenses for their chosen platform. Realistically, though, a number of AF functions will be limited due to Sony's own restrictions - meaning no Eye AF, no Lock-on AF, and no phase detection in video.

Pricing and availability has yet to be announced. 

 
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All those moving elements: LensRentals looks inside the Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4

Published on February 25, 2016 by in News

LensRentals Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 teardown

The Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 may not break any new technical ground, but when the SL's 'kit' lens made its way to LensRentals headquarters, the team endeavored to take a careful look inside. With the solidly constructed lens partially disassembled, they got a closer look at its impressive number of moving elements. Take a look at some of the highlights here, and for a full look inside the 24-90mm head over to LensRentals.

Weather-sealing

Sliding the rear of the lens off took a little muscle according to LensRentals' Roger Cicala, 'as it's very tightly sealed by the thick, greenish weather gasket underneath.' Leica promises this keeps the lens protected from dust, moisture and splashes.

The inner barrel assembly

With the zoom key and six screws in the internal chassis removed, the outer assembly of the lens barrel can be removed, and Cicala finds that 'the zoom and focus rings are one modular assembly connected to the main chassis.'

Not all focusing mechanisms are created equally

With the inner barrel exposed, part of the 24-90mm's focus-by-wire linkage can be seen. Says Cicala: 'I won't argue with those who prefer a mechanical focusing linkage, and I agree that some electric focusing mechanisms feel sloppy and inaccurate. But I'll add that they aren't all made equally, and the Leica focus feels quite good and seems very accurate.'

A 'complex dance' of moving elements

With the casing and front barrel removed, the lens' helicoid grooves are visible. These allow the moving elements to travel on their separate paths. 'This is a really nice example of the mathematical formulas involved when you move elements. Notice none of those grooves are parallel; as you zoom the lens the various elements move in a rather complex dance.'

Focusing assembly up close

Although they'd sworn not to do a full teardown, Roger and company wanted a better look at the focusing group so out it came. And that's where things got interesting. 

'You can see the stepper motor (green line) of course. The actual focusing element is what Aaron is holding the group by. The larger group in the center is where the entire assembly is attached to the helicoid. One of the first things we notice (red arrows) is this group has 3 pairs of adjustable eccentric collars. These were thoroughly glued in place so we left them alone, but it seems each pair has one collar for tilt and another for centering of this group. None of the other moving groups had eccentric adjustment collars visible.'

A peek at IS

The teardown stops at this point, but not before a glance up the barrel toward the image stabilization unit. While those screws tempt Cicala and crew, memories of finicky IS systems kept them from going any further.

 
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CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

Published on February 24, 2016 by in News

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

DPReview is at the CP+ 2016 show in Yokohama, Japan, where Nikon announced three new compact cameras. The 'DL' range is distinct from the established Coolpix and 1-series lineups, and consists of three cameras built around the same 20MP 1"-type sensor. We headed straight to Nikon's booth to get hands-on time with the DL18-50, DL24-85 and DL24-500.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The DL24-85 is (we suspect) going to be the most popular of the three cameras, at least for the average DPReview reader. The 24-85 in its name designates a 24-85mm equivalent focal length range. This is a useful everyday focal range for general shooting and the lens is fast enough for low-light work and some control over depth-of-field for portraiture.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

This is the DL18-50 is ergonomically virtually identical to the DL24-85 but offers a considerably wider and shorter lens which covers an equivalent focal length range of (you guessed it) 18-50mm. The maximum aperture range of both cameras is identical, at F1.8-2.8. This wider range should make it more suitable for landscape and street photography fans, and just personally, I'm really looking forward to taking it hiking.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The lenses of the DL18-50 (shown here) and the DL24-85 can be zoomed either in steps, using the ring around the lens barrel, or via a small W-T rocker switch around the shutter release. Having a step zoom is very handy for some situations (it's a real time-saver in the DPReview studio, for one thing).

The frontmost dial is a focus dial, but it is unclear whether it can be customized to perform other functions. We'd fully expect this to be the case, but Nikon has been a little ambiguous on this point (and the cameras we handled for these images were in Japanese). As soon we can, we'll try to get clarity. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The DL18-50's lens offers Nikon's Nano Crystal Coating, which should help when it comes to flare resistance - an important factor with such a wide-angle lens. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

Ergonomically the DL18-50 and DL24-85 recall the Nikon Coolpix A, crossed with some of Panasonic's compact zoom cameras, like the LX100. Both feel solid and well-built and the various control points move positively and aren't too small for comfortable use. Nikon is clearly attacking the same market with these new 4K-capable cameras as Sony is with the Cyber-shot RX100-series, and we're very keen to see how they compare in the studio. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

Unlike Sony's Cyber-shot RX100-series, the DL18-50 and DL24-85 offer touch-sensitive rear OLED screens. And they tilt outwards, too, as well as upwards to 180 degrees for selfies. Although we're basing our impressions on very brief use of prototype cameras, the screens seem responsive to the touch, and are certainly nice and constrasty. Which is good news because the DL18-50 and DL24-85 lack built-in viewfinders. Instead, you'll need an optional EVF (price still TBC) which adds versatility, and of course, cost. 

The DL24-85 will cost $649 and the wider DL18-50 will set you back $849.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The largest and most expensive ($999) of the three new DL cameras is the DL24-500 which offers an equivalent focal length range of 24-500mm. Like the smaller DLs it offers 4K video capture, up to 60fps continuous shooting and enthusiast-focused ergonomics, but inevitably it is much larger to accommodate that longer lens.

The lens is slower, too, offering a maximum aperture range of F2.8-5.6. That's the price you pay for the greater versatility of the longer zoom range. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The other reason why the DL24-500 is physically larger than the DL18-50 and DL24-85 is its built-in EVF, which sits above the lens axis in classic 'bridge' camera style. To the left of the viewfinder hump is a small cap over the DL24-500's microphone jack. This is an unusually prominent position for a mic jack and reflects the importance of video in the camera's feature set. All three DL-series cameras shoot 4K, but ergonomically, the DL24-500 is definitely the better suited to filmmaking. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

All three cameras offer Nikon's 'Dual Detect Optical VR' vibration reduction, but this is especially useful in the DL24-500, with its longer, slower lens. We have high hopes, too for its autofocus system which is inherited from the 1-series (and shared with the DL18-50 and DL24-85) which combines 105 phase-detection and 171 contrast-detection AF points in a hybrid system that should be extremely competitive with cameras like Sony's Cyber-shot RX10 II and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

Hybrid AF has been a major selling point of Nikon's 1-series since its inception and promises fast and accurate subject tracking, certainly compared to pure contrast-detection focusing systems. All three DL-series compacts can shoot at up to 20 fps with autofocus. Impressive stuff, assuming the hit-rate is decent.

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The screen on the back of the DL24-500 is touch-sensitive, just like its smaller DL cousins, but fully articulating. All three cameras offer plenty of manual control including a physical exposure compensation button which spans an unusually wide +/-5EV (visible on the upper right of the camera's top-plate in this view). 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

The DL24-500 offers twin control dials, one on the top-plate (to the left of the exposure compensation dial) and one on the rear, around the conventional 4-way controller. This view also shows off the large EVF housing and generous eye-cup. 

CP+ 2016: Hands-on with Nikon DL Compacts

So what do you think? We're pretty impressed, especially by the DL24-85 and DL18-50, and it's nice to see Sony getting some genuine competition in a market segment that has been dominated by RX100-series cameras. All three DL compacts have a lot to offer (the DL24-500 might finally give the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 a run for its money in terms of autofocus performance) and we're really keen to see how all three perform when shipping samples become available. 

 
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SLR Magic’s Anamorphot-Cine 1.33x lenses now shipping with revised specification

Published on February 24, 2016 by in News

Lens manufacturer SLR Magic has announced 'significant' changes to the optical and mechanical specification of its Anamorphot-Cine 1.33x anamorphic lenses, which it says are now available. The lens set was first shown at IBC (the International Broadcasting Convention) at the end of last year, but the company says the latest versions have crucial differences – although they don’t say exactly what those differences are. SLR Magic says that the lenses can now be calibrated by lens technicians outside of Hong Kong. 

The PL-mount anamorphics can be adapted to fit Canon EF, Sony E, Nikon F and Micro Four Thirds cameras, and will come in 35mm T2.4, 50mm T2.8 and 70mm T4 focal lengths. The 35mm lens covers Super 35mm, while the 50mm and 70mm are good for full frame cameras. The lenses are designed to stretch the 16:9 frame by 1.33x to create a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio so that filmmakers don’t need to crop off the top and bottom of their 4:3 footage. 

Currently prices are only available in Hong Kong dollars, so the US prices shown are straight conversions using today’s exchange rate. 

  • SLR Magic ANAMORPHOT-CINE 35mm T2.4  HK$46,680/US$6008
  • SLR Magic ANAMORPHOT-CINE 50mm T2.8  HK$50,550/US$6506
  • SLR Magic ANAMORPHOT-CINE 70mm T4     HK$50,550/US$6506

A demonstration of the lenses' capabilities with the Panasonic GH4 and Sony a7S can be seen in the short film 'Feel' above. For more information about the company visit the SLR Magic website


Press release:

Hong Kong, China (Feb 22th, 2016) – SLR Magic is proud to announce the SLR Magic ANAMORPHOT-CINE 1.33x PL lens set for filmmakers which could be adapted to EF/F/mFT/E-mount via adapter. The production version has changed significantly in both optical and mechanical specification compared to the lenses shown at IBC 2015. For absolute precision, the lenses could now be calibrated by a lens technician from abroad rather than having both the camera and lenses to be calibrated in Hong Kong.

Please enjoy our short film, "FEEL", taken by our volunteers with the new 1.33x SLR Magic Anamorphot-CINE lenses power driven by the Movcam Wireless Focus System on the Panasonic GH4 and Sony A7s recorded with the Atomos Ninja Assasin 4K recorder/monitor.

The lenses are immediately available for order in Hong Kong

Lens Type: Anamorphic lens
Squeeze factor: 1.33x
Objective front filter thread: ?82
Mount: Titanium PL compatible with optional SLR Magic EF/F/mFT/E-mount
Titanium adapter.
Lens Coating: Multi Coated
Close Focus: 3’6
Weight (oz./g): 38.1/1,080
Length (cm): 13.5
Diameter (cm): 10
Image Circle: S35 for 35mm T2.4 (5.5K on DRAGON), FF for 50mm T2.8 (8K on WEAPON), and 70mm T4 (8K on WEAPON)

These lenses are available for order now. Above prices are for local pick up only.  For shipment overseas, please contact us by email to get local reseller prices.

Selected lenses would be on demo at the BVE Expo in London, UK from October

23-25 in the Atomos booth K30. For a demo, participants may email support@slrmagic.com in advance.

 
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History Repeating: Olympus PEN-F Review

Published on February 24, 2016 by in News

The original Olympus PEN-F first hit the streets in 1963. Built around the half-frame film format, it quickly gained a following thanks to its beautiful, yet simple design and small size. Getting 70 images to a roll of film probably didn't hurt, either. Now, 53 years later the PEN-F is back.

The digital reincarnation of the 35mm film Olympus PEN-F does not replace the current digital PEN flagship E-P5, rather it slides in next to it as the 'premium' option in the PEN family. The reason being that unlike digital PENs before it, the F has something much more OM-D-like: a built-in 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder. The F also boasts the highest output resolution of any Olympus body to date, boasting a 20MP Four Thirds sensor (probably the same one we've seen in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8).

Released specifically to appeal to street shooters and the design conscious looking for a capable camera with retro-styling and rangefinder-like controls, the PEN-F has a lot going for it.

Olympus PEN-F features:

  • 20MP Live MOS Four Thirds format sensor
  • 5-axis image stabilization with automatic panning detection
  • 2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Up to 10 fps continuous shooting (20 fps with electronic shutter)
  • Highly customizable interface, twin controls
  • Fully articulating 1.04 million dot, 3" LCD touchscreen
  • 50MP High-res Shot mode
  • 1/8000 sec top mechanical shutter speed (1/16,000 with e-shutter)
  • 1080/60p video recording

All of the above come packaged in a machined aluminum and magnesium body, with no visible screws anywhere. A faux-leather wrap encircles the PEN-F and the body itself is both well-weighted and has a very solid feel to it. 

With many of the same guts as the OM-D EM-5 II and sleek rangefinder-style looks (reminiscent of Fujifilm’s X100 series cameras), the most direct Micro Four Thirds competitor to the PEN F is the Panasonic GX8, which also uses a 20MP chip. Other close competitors include the Sony a6000, a6300 and the Fujifilm X-E2S - all of which are APS-C format cameras. Of course, the PEN-F also has to compete against alternatives within the OM-D series as well.

To help us to better understand how the PEN-F fits into the market place as a whole, we chatted with Eric Gensel, a technical specialist with Olympus. He breaks down exactly how the PEN-F fits in Olympus' lineup, who the target-audience of the camera is and what went into the design process:

Compared to its siblings

Many of the highlight features of the PEN-F aren’t new. In fact a lot of the key spec is shared with other recent Olympus releases. However, some functions have been improved upon. For instance, thanks to its 20MP sensor, the Pen F is capable of higher resolution in multi-shot mode compared to the OM-D E-M5 II, up to 80MP in Raw mode (50MP in JPEG). It also features a dedicated creative control knob on the front, as well as four customizable shooting modes, accessed via the locking exposure mode dial.

It’s hard to see the PEN-F as a large step forward given how many of its core features are inherited from other models, but it offers a handling experience that is unique in Olympus's lineup. Is the PEN-F more than just a pretty face? Let’s dig in.

 
Olympus PEN-F
Olympus OM-D
E-M5 II
Olympus PEN E-P5
Pixel count 20MP 16MP 16MP
Image stabilization 5-axis 5-axis 5-axis
Stabilization (CIPA) 5 stops 5 stops 4 stops
Max shutter speed

1/8000
(1/16000 electronic)

1/8000
(1/16000 electronic)
1/8000
On-sensor PDAF No No No
Continuous shooting
(without /with AF)
10 fps / 5 fps 10 fps / 5 fps 9 fps / 5 fps
Flash Clip-on
Tilt/bounce/rotate
Clip-on
Tilt/bounce/rotate
Pop-up flash
Viewfinder Built-in 2.36M-dot LCD
1.23x mag
Built-in 2.36M-dot LCD
1.48x mag
Optional VF-4 accessory EVF w/ 2.36M-dot LCD and 1.48x mag
Max video res/rate 1080/60p 1080/60p 1080/30p
Max bitrate 77Mbps 77Mbps 20Mbps
Mic socket No Yes No
Rear screen

Fully articulating 3" touchscreen
1.04M-dots

Fully-articulated
3.0" touchscreen
1.04M-dots
Flip up/down
3.0" touchscreen
1.04M-dots
Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes
Environmental sealing? No Yes No
Battery life (CIPA) 330 310 330
Weight 427 g 469 g 420 g
Dimensions 125 x 72 x 37mm 124 x 85 x 45mm 122 x 69 x 37mm

Pricing and availability

The Olympus PEN-F will be available at end of February – early March 2016, and will hit the streets at a body-only price of $1199. It ships with the FL-LM3 flashgun seen in the image at the top.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2016 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

 
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