Chinese lens maker Zhongyi Optics has added M42, Canon FD and Minolta MD lens adapters to its second-generation Lens Turbo lineup for Micro Four Thirds cameras. Like Metabones’ Speedboosters, the adapters shorten the effective focal length, incr…
The Blackberry Priv combines Google’s Android operating system with BlackBerry’s security features and a slider form factor with hardware qwerty-keyboard. In the camera module an 18MP sensor works together with a Schneider Kreuznach designed len…
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I spent most of my time at CES 2016 cooped up in convention centers, press rooms, and hotels-turned-offices, but one night did afford me the chance to head out into the desert for a chance to shoot with Olympus’s new 300mm super telephoto lens.
The shooting conditions were, um, less than optimal with surprisingly cold temperatures, strong winds, and heavy rains. While it wasn’t the most luxurious shoot, it certainly seemed like as good an opportunity as any to test out a new weather-sealed lens that’s meant for the outdoors.
What is it?
The lens is—as the name suggests—one of the professional offerings from Olympus. It comes with a $2,499 retail price tag, but it also has aggressive weather-proofing to make it appealing to sports and nature photographers. It has built-in IS, which works with the in-body IS, which allows it to make some rather impressive claims about just how stable it really is (more on this later).
I actually started incorporating a very long lens into my pro kit this summer, so my appreciation for long telephoto lenses like this is currently at an all-time high. The very first thing that you notice when you start using the lens is how light it is. At 2.5 pounds (roughly), it honestly feels a lot like using a 24-70mm lens on a traditional DSLR. Competing full-frame 600mm lenses check in well over seven-pounds (and also cost $11,000+) so that was a very clear advantage.
The autofocus is silent and very snappy. I did notice a little bit of hunting for focus, but that’s a common thing with a focal length this long and the fact that there were particles of rain flying through the air between me and my subjects certainly wasn’t helping in that regard.
The manual focus ring has an intentionally long turning radius so you can make fine adjustments during the focusing process. You engage the manual focus simply by pulling back on the ring and clicking it into a second position, which I have always liked because you don’t have to take your hand out of position or your eye off of the viewfinder to hit a switch.
Evaluating optical performance is the job of our famous testing lab, so I’ll leave the serious evaluation for later. However, first impressions are very good, at least to my eyeballs. We were shooting in some legitimately difficult lighting conditions, so it’s hard to tell if some effects came from rain drops on the lens or from the optics themselves. Overall, though, I was more than satisfied in terms of sharpness and detail resolution.
One thing I did notice was that the hokeh seems a little harsh when high-contrast elements come into play. This is something I’d like to evaluate in a much wider variety of circumstances, but it was something I noticed rather immediately.
This is honestly one of the biggest pluses I noticed about the 300mm F/4. The lens hood is an integral part of the lens, sliding out to protect the front element. It took me a minute to figure out how it actually worked, but once it was in place, it feels solid. In fact, the whole package feels really solid. I took in the pouring rain with it mounted to an OM-D E-M1 for about an hour and it didn’t flinch.
This probably could have gone into the performance category, but I wanted to single out just how good I found the stabilization to be. Because it has built-in IS, it can work in concert with the IS system that exists at the sensor level in cameras like the OM-D E-M1. Olympus claims up to six stops of shake reduction. The shot above was taken at 1/10th of a second, handheld with an effective 600mm lens. If you zoom in all the way to the pixel level, you can tell it’s not absolutely perfect, but considering I was extremely cold and have shaky hands by nature, it’s pretty darn impressive.
I’m looking forward to spending more time with this lens, but my first impressions are extremely solid. Look for a more thorough review in a future issue of Popular Photography.
Hands-on with the Nikon D5
Back in November Nikon teased us by announcing that a new D5 DSLR flagship camera was in development. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for ‘development’ to turn into ‘product.’ At CES 2016 we got the chanc…
A team at Sony has custom designed and 3D-printed a rig that mounts onto a tripod and can hold 12 Xperia Z5 Compact smartphones, making it possible to record 4K video simultaneously for immersive video. Stitched together in post production, the cl…
German flash manufacturer Metz has said that the mecablitz 44 AF-2 flash unit that it announced at the end of last year will be available immediately in the UK at a price of £179.99. The gun is an update of the 44 AF-1, and brings with it compatibility with Fuji’s X-system and a built-in LED for videographers.
Originally announced in November last year, the 44 AF-2 is designed for full frame and APS-C DSLRs, as well as a collection of mirrorless cameras. It has a maximum guide number of 44m / 144 ft at ISO 100 when used with a 105mm lens, and offers an automatic zoom head that covers angles for lenses from 24-105mm. A wide diffuser extends that coverage to 12mm.
Metz has included a video light in the form of an LED that has an output of 100 Lux at one meter, and which can be controlled via four brightness levels. The LED can also be used as a modeling light to accompany the flash head.
The flash can be integrated into the wireless flash control systems of Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, Pentax, Sony and Samsung cameras, and is additionally compatible with Fuji and Leica cameras when mounted in the hotshoe. Depending on the model in use, the 44 AF-2 can be used as a commander in a wireless set-up, or only as a slave.
In manual mode the gun has four output levels, and in all modes it can be triggered at the beginning or the end of the exposure. High speed modes allow synchronization with shutter speeds beyond the usual maximum sync speeds of the host camera.
The gun is designed to be easy to use and sits slightly above the middle of the company’s AF range of hotshoe mounted flash units.
This will be the first Metz flash unit launched since the Metz-Werke GmbH & Co. company became insolvent and the flash business was saved by Germany’s Daum Group, which is better known for making fitness equipment. The flash side of the business is now called Metz mecatech GmbH.
In Europe the flash unit will cost 190 Euro, but it doesn’t appear to have been launched in the USA yet. For more information on the Metz mecablitz 44 AF-2 see the Metz website.
Apple’s New Night Shift Feature for iOS Shifts The Colors on the iPhone Screen to Stop Ruining Your Sleep
There has been a lot of talk lately about how exposure to blue light from your phone, laptop, or iPad can ruin your sleep. Now, Apple is building a function into iOS 9.3 called Night Shift, which will shift the color of the iPhone and iPad screens to cut out blue light.
The mechanism seems to be based on the idea that “blue” light tricks our brain into thinking that it’s daytime by emulating sunlight. By turning down the color balance and making things appear “warmer,” it will more closely emulate tungsten light, which our brains recognize as artificial.
I have a feeling a lot of photography-oriented folks will be turning this feature off as it kind of defeats the purpose of looking at photos on devices all together. In fact, it’s actually a little troubling to think that some people will come across my work and all the color correction have done has been thrown out in the name of eliminating blue light.
It’s obviously adjustable, but the function is tuned to work with sunset, so in the winter hours like this, it would presumably kick in starting in the late afternoon. That leaves a lot of browsing time with out of the ordinary colors.
Looking at a new Apple patent that has recently surfaced, it appears we might see a dual-camera setup in future iPhone generations. The design uses two camera modules, one with a wide-angle lens and another with a longer focal length. Throw some Apple …
By now, we have posted a couple videos from Mathiu Stern’s “Weird Lens Challenge,” but I’m not sick of them yet, so here’s the latest one. This time, he has mounted a 136 year-old large-format lens with an early mechanical iris mechanism.
Actually getting the lens onto the camera seems to have taken a fair bit of work. It required extension tubes and a helicoidal ring in order to enable it to focus. A large format camera from the late 1800’s is obviously a very different beast from a modern Sony A7, so it’s not a surprise, but he he even had to add a ring of cardboard to keep the tight fit.
The resulting footage is, as you’d imagine, rather dream in terms of quality, but I’m actually pretty impressed with its overall sharpness. The contrast is reduced from the high-end lenses that we’re typically used to (likely thanks to lack of modern coatings), but the lens preserves a lot of fine detail.
The New York Public Library has released more than 180,000 digitized items into the public domain, making them freely available for anyone to use for any purpose. These items include scans of manuscripts from well-known authors, copies…