New Full Frame Ultra Wide Zoom: Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD

Tamron has announced new Full Frame Ultra Wide Zoom: The Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD for Canon and Nikon DSLR Cameras. This new ultrawide lens features a weatherproof construction and a new fast and silent autofocus system called Optimized Silent Drive (OSD). This lens is also quite small and lightweight, especially when compared to their 15-30mm f/2.8 or the Nikon and Canon similar lenses. It is a little bit smaller than the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L lens. Read more New Full Frame Ultra Wide Zoom: Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di OSD

New Sony A7 III Camera Introduced

Sony has announced the new Sony A7 III Full Frame mirrorless digital camera. This camera is very exciting thanks to a lot of tech it inherits from it’s bigger brothers the A9 and the A7R III.

New Sensor

The Sony A7 III offers an all new 24 megapixel sensor, and while the mark II was also 24 megapixels, the newer sensor is back side illuminated (BSI). This allows for larger pixels which increases the camera’s light gathering capabilities.

Improved Auto Focus

It also adds an AF joystick and AF-on button for better auto focus control. Speaking of autofocus, the A7 III also inherits some of the AF tech from the A9. Sony claims the new A7 III focuses twice s fast as the A7 II. It also inherits the amazing eye focus control from the A9 as well. The new A7 III has 693 AF points that offer 93% frame coverage. These are supported by 425 contrast-detection AF points as well.

Faster (and Deeper) Burst mode

The new Sony also offers up to 10fps shooting with continuous autofocus and a buffer that allows up to 177 jpeg images in a burst. Raw performance was not disclosed.

4K Video

the new Sony A7 III offers 4K video and several other video improvements.  It has both S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves for shooting wide dynamic range scenes. It also features Hybrid Log Gamma which allows for playing back directly on high dynamic range displays without post-processing.

Better Battery Life

The new A7 III gets the higher capacity NP-FZ100 battery from the A9 and A7RIII. This provides for a little over double the battery life at 710 shots per charge. This has been one of my biggest complaints with mirrorless cameras. I’m glad to see Sony addressing this.

Touchscreen, Viewfinder More

The Sony A7 III maintains the flip LCD but adds a touchscreen interface.  This should make changing settings even easier. I wish it was a fully articulated LCD screen, but that would add a little bulk to a camera that is designed to be small.

While the actual viewfinder is the same as it’s predecessor, the A7III has new Zeiss T* optics in front of it and increases the magnification to .78x. This makes the viewfinder appear larger when comparing to the older camera.

Another big deal is the addition of a second SD card slot. This is great for shooters who want to separate stills and videos, have a backup card of images or more capacity without buying larger cards.

Price and Availability

the Sony A7 III will be available starting in April. Body only will be $1,999. There will also be a kit with the 28-70 lens, but price for that has not yet been disclosed.

My thoughts

In a word, “wow!”

Sony didn’t hold back on this new full frame mirrorless Camera. While this is technically considered an entry level, this camera is anything but entry level. Many of the initial reactions seemed to be directed at the Canon 6D II with comments such as “This is what the 6DII should have been”. At least in terms of features.

This is a major shot at Canon and Nikon and not even a warning shot at that. This was a direct hit and Canon and Nikon better wake up and pay attention.

I’m seriously considering selling my D750 to get this new body. If I do I will likely opt for the Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 lens instead of the kit lens. I’ve owned my Sony A6000 for over 3 years now, which is the longest I have ever owned a single interchangeable lens camera. While it is not perfect, it is very good, especially in the role of my go everywhere camera.

Luminar January 2018 Update

Macphun (soon to be Skylum) has announced an update to their Luminar photo editing program. Here is a list of the Luminar January 2018 Update changes:

Windows Version

  • Language support: You can now enjoy Luminar in many more languages.
  • Brush Size: Use the left and right bracket keys ([ and ]) to adjust the size of your brush.  Add the shift key (Shift+ [ or ]) to adjust the Softness.  It’s now easier than ever to mask.
  • Curves: The Curves filter is  improved for better results.
  • Merge Layers: Permanently merge two or more layers with Merge layers feature.
  • Improved Sidebar: The sidebar controls are even easier to use and navigate.
  • Cropping improvements: The cropped state of an image is now correctly captured in the native Luminar file.
  • Adobe plug-in improvements: The plugins for Adobe products have been performance tuned.

Mac Version

  • Improved Raw Support: improved RAW Develop support and added Leica Monochrom .DNG , HEIC formats and improved support for Hasselblad and several other cameras.
  • Photos for Mac: Luminar works even better as an extension for Photos for Mac.
  • Adobe plug-in improvements: The plugins for Adobe products have been performance tuned.
  • Improved cross platform files: We’ve fixed issue with Dodge & Burn filter masks for documents created on Windows.

How to Update

If you already have Luminar 2018 these updates are free and very easy to install. In fact, when I launched Luminar on both my iMac and my Windows machine the software prompted that an update was available. If you don’t get the prompt, here is how to update your version:

  • Mac – Please, launch Luminar 2018, on the Top Menu Bar choose Luminar 2018 > Check for updates.
  • Windows  – Please, launch Luminar 2018, on the Top Toolbar choose Help > Check for updates.

I am currently testing Luminar in my quest for a replacement for Adobe Lightroom. As far as image editing goes, Luminar looks VERY promising as that replacement. They are currently working on a DAM (Digital Asset Manager) for organizing images. While it doesn’t quite have everything that Lightoom does (see comparison here), it has almost all and the few things it doesn’t are not the end of the world. You can download a free trial of Luminar and see if it works for you as well.

Lightroom Performance Update Coming Soon

According to dppreview.com. Adobe has announced a Lightroom performance update coming soon.  One of my frustrations with Adobe has been the slow performance of Lightroom.

According to Adobe the update will show an improvement on multi-core computers running at least 12gb of RAM. This is somewhat disappointing given that many new Computers Come with 8gb of RAM installed, and would need to be upgraded to see any improvement. Read more Lightroom Performance Update Coming Soon

How to Capture Sharp Images With Your Camera

​Capturing sharp images takes a little more work, but the additional time and effort are worthwhile. Many beginning photographers are frustrated by the lack of sharpness in their images and blame the equipment they are using. Most images that lack the critical sharpness are not caused by the equipment, but rather by the photographers themselves. Here are seven tips to show you How to Capture Sharp Images With Your Camera. Read more How to Capture Sharp Images With Your Camera

Lightroom Replacement Options and Opinions

With the latest changes to Lightroom by Adobe, many photographers seem to be looking for Lightroom Replacement Options and Opinions. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Adobe ever since they went the way of the subscription model. I have been paying $10/month for the Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop subscription. With the latest announcement I tried Adobe Lightroom CC and did not like it at all. I had to cancel my plan since I changed to the 1TB cloud storage option (while it was on sale for $15/month for the first year) hoping that it would work the way I wanted it to work. Unfortunately it didn’t so I cancelled and had to go back to the original $10/month Lightroom/photoshop plan. Read more Lightroom Replacement Options and Opinions

The New Adobe Lightroom CC / Classic

Once again Adobe has seemed to rip the fabric of the universe in half by splitting Lightroom into 2 versions. Now it is available as Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Lightroom Classic. Like many, I’m not sure I like the idea of storing all my images on the cloud, especially if that cloud is controlled by someone else! My initial knee jerk reaction was to once again try and find an alternative to Adobe. The problem with that is that there is not another program that does everything that Adobe does, nor do they do most of what Adobe does nearly as well, either. Read more The New Adobe Lightroom CC / Classic

NEW AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm F/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR

Nikon announced a new 180mm-400mm f/4 lens with a built-in 1.4x teleconverter similar to Canon’s 200-400mm f/4L IS at the 2018 CES show in Las Vegas. Personally I find the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show to be an interesting venue as a $12,400 lens is certainly not a typical consumer product. It is puzzling why Nikon opted to announce it there. (end of rant)

This lens will surely replace the current 200-400mm f/4 VR lens that gets pretty mixed reviews. I had the opportunity to use the 200-400 several years ago and while it was a fun lens to play with for a day, I didn’t feel like it was worth the $6,000 price tag at the time. The highlight of using it was to tell all my friends that I got to use it. With the 200-500mm f/5.6 VR lens getting such positive reviews, and the very consumer friendly $1399 price tag, I’m sure that Nikon will sell a heck of a lot more of the 200-500 than the new 180-400mm f/4 lens. This is clearly a lens targeted at working pros and the extra stop of light at 400mm is welcome when shooting wildlife at the edge of day (sunrise/sunset when animals are active).

Press release:

NIKON ANNOUNCES NEW AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm F/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR SUPER TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS AT CES 2018

LAS VEGAS — CES BOOTH #14018 (January 8, 2018) – Today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Nikon Inc. announced the new AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR super-telephoto zoom lens, which is ideally suited for photographing sports and wildlife with astounding speed and clarity. This professional level FX-format lens is more versatile than ever, and has been updated with the newest NIKKOR lens technologies including Nikon’s first ever built-in teleconverter and an advanced optical formula to enhance performance and minimize weight.

“This lens is a great example of how Nikon continues to push the boundaries of innovation and what’s possible with pro-level optics and high-end imaging equipment,” said Kosuke Kawaura, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc.

Popular Pro-Level Lens Gets Even More Versatile

This new NIKKOR lens is a professional super-telephoto zoom lens, which is even more versatile with an extended wide range of 180-400mm, and a constant f/4 aperture to easily isolate a subject from the sidelines, even in challenging light. This is also the first NIKKOR lens to include a built-in 1.4X teleconverter, allowing photographers to seamlessly swap to a 252-560mm1 (FX-format) focal range. The teleconverter is engaged at the flick of a switch, and is easily operated with a single finger while looking through the viewfinder. When used on the Nikon D500 and other DX-format DSLRs, the focal length is the equivalent of 270-600mm (378-840mm with teleconverter engaged).

Whether capturing fast-moving winter sports on the slopes or elusive wildlife at a distance, photographers can shoot with confidence from this high performance NIKKOR lens. The new 180-400mm f/4 is optimized for high-speed capture, and features an electromagnetic diaphragm, helping to create smooth and consistent exposures while shooting high-speed bursts of images. What’s more, the AF tracking algorithm controlling the motor drive has been enhanced to increase tracking performance of fast moving subjects. When using cameras equipped with Nikon’s advanced 153-point AF system (D5, D500, D850), the outer row of AF points are activated as cross-type sensors to significantly enhance the AF coverage throughout the frame.2

Enhanced Performance with the Addition of New Technology

The lens now uses a fluorite element, which contributes to improved balance while minimizing weight. To further enhance handling and agility, the lens has adopted a new ball-bearing tripod collar ring to create a seamless transition from shooting horizontal to vertical composition. The VR mechanism offers a normal and sports mode, with up to four stops3 of compensation to help create sharp images, even when handheld.

The lens construction includes the use of durable magnesium alloy for weight reduction, while the lens is also sealed against dust and moisture. A fluorine coating is also used to help repel water droplets and dirt.
The optical formula of the lens uses eight Extra Low Dispersion (ED) elements, doubling the amount of ED elements used by its predecessor, the NIKKOR 200-400mm. These help to provide extremely sharp and detailed images and 4K UHD / 1080p video, and is ideally mated to high resolution Nikon DSLR cameras. Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat is used to effectively suppress instances of ghosting and flare.

Price and Availability

The AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR lens will be available in March 2018 for a suggested retail price of $12,399.954. For more information on this NIKKOR lens and other Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

  1. When the built-in or an external teleconverter is used, the focal length may not be displayed correctly in shooting information / Image data.
  2. 
This feature will be available with a firmware upgrade for the D5, D850 and D500 as of March 2018
  3. Based on CIPA Standard. This value is achieved when FX-format compatible lenses are attached to a FX-format digital SLR camera and zoom lenses are set at the maximum telephoto position.

Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

Sony has announced a new lens for the APS-C E-Mount camera system. The new lens is the Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS. This lens features a 27-200mm equivalent focal range. It has a max aperture of f/3.5 at the wide end and f/5.6 at the telephoto end. The lens also features a 55m filter thread, making it roughly the same size as the Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 lens. While not quite as wide as the Zeiss, it provides about two times more telephoto reach, making it a great lens for travel and hiking.

This new lens appears to be a great fit with the Sony A6xxx series cameras thanks to it’s small size and great zoom range. Who knows, maybe we will see this offered as a kit with the A6xxx series bodies in the future?

NOTE

While this lens can be mounted on the FE bodies such as the A7/A9 series cameras, doing so will result in a cropped image. For example, if mounted on the 24 megapixel A7II, instead of 24 megapixel images you will get 15 megapixel images. This is not a fault with the lens or the camera, but a design difference between the E and FE mount system. FE cameras have a sensor that is larger than the projected image from the E-mount lenses. Knowing this, Sony sets the full frame A7/A9 bodies to crop out the areas that are not covered by the lens.

check out the full specifications on my Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens review page.

Jan 16, 2018 Update

DPReview.com has published a sample image gallery for this lens. Looking at the images the lens looks like it is about what I expected. Better than kit lens quality, but not up to the pro/Zeiss level. This makes sense considering the price point and the 7x zoom range. There are several comments that the lens is not very sharp. It is hard to say for certain as depth of field certainly comes into play in real world scenes such as these. Especially when we don’t know exactly where the photographer focused. This lens is intriguing to me as an A6000 owner looking for a more versatile lens for travel and hiking.

My Love-Hate Relationship with Lightroom

I am frequently asked what is the best program to edit your images. There are quite a few choices out there, but the one choice that seems to stand out above the rest is Adobe’s Lightroom. Unfortunately I am hesitant to offer up this advice due to My Love-Hate Relationship with Lightroom. For the most part I like Lightroom, but there are some things that just drive me nuts. Read more My Love-Hate Relationship with Lightroom