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Posts Tagged ‘Sony

Sony Joins the Compact Interchangeable Lens Camera Party

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Sony recently introduced two new Alpha compact digitals that join in the non-DLSR, interchangeable lens category that Olympus, and Panasonic are already part of, with their micro four-thirds systems. The cameras were first announced at PMA earlier this year.

Sony's Alpha NEX-5

The Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 provide the quality of a DSLR in a compact body. Because this type of cameras don’t utilize a mirror prism, their physical size can be much smaller than the ordinary DSLR.

Both Sony models utilize a newly developed 14.2 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. The sensor is 60% larger than the micro four-thirds camera sensors.

What makes the new Alpha NEX-5 and NEX-3 cameras so cool is that the APS-C sensor continually adjusts focus and exposure while recording video—the first of its kind. The NEX-5 offers Full HD movie capture at (1080i AVCHD and 720p MP4) with Full HD 60i recording. The NEX-3 shoots 720p HD video, saving them as MP4 files.

Features of the cameras include built-in stereo microphones, Sony’s BIONZ processor, and high speed burst of full-res images at up to 7 frames per second. The cameras are also the first to incorporate the Sweep Panorama feature that allows your images to show up to 226° horizontal or 151° vertical field of view. With a firmware update available mid-summer, the cameras will also be able to shoot 3D Sweep Panorama images with a single lens.

Sony Alpha NEX-3

Both camera models feature a 3-inch LCD, that tilt up or down for added flexibility.

Three new E-mount lenses are being introduced with the NEX-5 and NEX-3: the 16mm f/2.8 prime lens, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS standard zoom and an 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS zoom.

The cameras come with a super-compact clip-on flash. They also feature dual media card compatibility, accepting both Memory Stick PRO Duo (and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo) and SD cards, (including SDHC and SDXC formats).

An optional mount adapter—LA-EA1—makes  all 30 of the Alpha family lenses usable on the camera bodies, as well as older legacy A-mount lenses (manually focusing only). Other optional accessories include an ultra wide converter that gives a 12mm view and a Fisheye converter; an optical viewfinder, and stereo microphone. The flash, optical viewfinder and mic all connect to the cameras by the accessory shoe at the top of the camera body.

Sony is shipping the NEX-5A digital in silver and black and NEX-3A digital in silver, black and red as a kit with the 16mm lens (MSRP $650 and $550 respectively); and as a kit with the 18-55mm lens (MSRP $700 and $600 respectively). The camera bodies, accessories and 16mm and 18-55mm lenses will be available in July. The 18-200mm lens will be available in the fall.

(l. to r.) NEX-3 in red, silver NEX-3 with accessory stereo mic, the rear tilting LCD is a feature of both models, the NEX-5 and NEX-3.

For more information, go to www.sony.com.

— Diane Berkenfeld


February Has Been a Good Month for New Photo Product Announcements

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By Diane Berkenfeld

A bounty of photo products have been introduced recently, including wide format printers, film, lenses, concept cameras and more. Many of the announcements were made at or surrounding the annual PMA convention and tradeshow, being held in Anaheim, CA this week, known as the place for product and technology announcements. And even some of those companies not exhibiting at PMA announced exciting new products for the professional photographer in recent days.

Wide-Format Printers

Two new 24" and one 44" Canon printers. (Images not to scale)

The biggest news announced today is three new wide-format printers from Canon: the the 44-inch imagePROGRAF iPF8300, 24-inch imagePROGRAF iPF6350 and the iPF6300. Each model features Canon’s new, 12-Color LUCIA EX pigment ink set; a newly developed Media Configuration Tool; and bundled with a new Print Plug-In for Photoshop, Digital Photo Professional and support for the Adobe Color Management Module.

The Canon iPF8300 and iPF6350 are equipped with an 80 GB HDD for faster spooling of large files and the ability to reprint jobs directly from the printer. All three new models are equipped with a standard gigabit Ethernet network interface and an automatic dual-blade cutter.

Expect new ICC profiles from a number of companies to be available on their respective company websites upon release of the new Canon printers. Updated printer RIP drivers will be available for download from those respective company websites upon release of the printers as well.

The imagePROGRAF iPF8300/6350/6300 will start shipping in March for with MSRPs of $5,995, $3,995 and $3,695, respectively. The new imagePROGRAF models will be unveiled for the first time at WPPI in Las Vegas, March 8-11, 2010. Go to www.cusa.canon.com for more details.

Film and A Film Camera

The Fujifilm GF670, a folding, medium format film camera.

While digital has been the de facto camera choice for most professional photographers these days, there are still film and film camera introductions being made.

Early this month we covered the announcement of Fujifilm’s folding film camera, the GF670, which will take rolls of 120 and 220 film, with the versatility to shoot either 6×6 or 6×7.

The camera features a Fujinon EBC 80mm lens, coupled rangefinder, exposure compensator, and aperture-priority automatic and manual exposure modes. Other features include a hot shoe, PC sync connection socket, electronic Leaf shutter with shutter speeds ranging from 4 seconds to 1/500 of a second including Bulb. Because the camera uses a Leaf shutter, flash sync is available at all shutter speeds. (see full article here) Go to www.fujifilmusa.com for more information.

Ektar 100, a color neg emulsion is now available in sheet sizes: 4x5 and 8x10.

Eastman Kodak has announced the addition of sheet film sizes of its Kodak Professional Ektar 100 film to its line. Ektar 100 is now available in 4×5 and 8×10 sheets in addition to 35mm and 120 roll film formats. Ektar 100 is a fine grain color negative film. Check out the website at www.kodak.com for more details.

New Lenses

Earlier this weekend, at the PMA show, Samsung, announced several new additions to its NX system lens line. The original line up of a standard zoom (18-55mm OIS / F3.5-5.6), tele zoom (50-200mm OIS / f/4.0-5.6) and pancake lens (30mm / f/2.0) launched with the Samsung NX10 earlier this year will be complemented by the introduction of five additional lenses through 2010.

The new lenses include: a compact zoom lens (20-50mm f/3.5-5.6), a wide pancake lens (20mm f/2.8), the tele zoom (50-200mm OIS f/4.0-5.6), macro lens (60mm f/2.7), standard zoom lens (non OIS (optical image stabilization) 18-55mm F3.5-5.6), and zoom lens (18-200mm OIS f/3.5-6.3).

Availability will be as follows: 30mm pancake lens, 18-55mm zoom, and 50-200mm zoom available as of January 2010; 18-55mm non-OIS lens during the first half of 2010; the 20-50mm zoom and 20mm pancake lens during the second half of 2010; and the 18-200mm and 60mm Macro lenses TBD. Visit the website at www.samsung.com/us for more details.

And More Lenses

(l. to r.) New 24mm and 16-35mm Nikkor lenses. (Images not to scale)

Earlier this month, Nikon announced two new lenses, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED lens and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR. Both lenses are designed for use with Nikon DSLRs that utilize the FX-format, full frame image sensor, however they can also be used with DSLRs that use the smaller DX-format sensor. The duo also utilize Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor technology for fast, yet quiet autofocusing.

The AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is scheduled for availability in late February with an estimated selling price of $1,259.95. The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4 G ED lens is expected to be available in late March for an estimated selling price of $2,199.95. Go to www.nikonusa.com for more details.

Yet More Lenses and a DSLR

Sigma Corporation of America expanded its line with the addition of five new lenses and a DSLR at PMA this past weekend. The new lenses are: 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM, APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM, APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM, and 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM; and the SD15 DSLR. Exact availability dates and pricing are pending. All of the lenses will be available this spring, in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax mounts. The OS lenses offer the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible; and can be used with Sony and Pentax DSLRs even if the camera bodies feature an image sensor shift anti-shake system.

The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM was designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C size image sensors. This lens has an equivalent 35mm angle of view of a 12-24mm. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches throughout the entire zoom range.

The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM incorporates Sigma’s Optical Stabilization (OS) function. The lens also allows photographers to utilize the f/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.

(l. to r.) Five new Sigma lenses just announced: 8-16mm, 17-50mm, 50-500mm, 70-200mm, and 85mm. (Images are not scaled to size)

The Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM also incorporates Sigma’s original OS function. This lens has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.1 (at the focal length of 200mm). The addition of the optional 1.4x EX DG or 2x EX DG APO Tele Converters produce a 70-700mm f/6.3-8 or a 100-1000mm f/9-12.6 MF zoom lens, respectively. This lens can be used on DSLRs with full frame or APS-C sized image sensors.

Also introduced at PMA last weekend, the Sigma SD15 DSLR.

The Sigma APO 70-200 f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM also incorporates Sigma’s original OS function, and allows the use of the f/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 55.1 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:8. The lens can be used with both APS-C and full frame sensors.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens, when used on digital cameras with an APS-C size image sensor, effectively becomes a 127.5mm f/1.4 lens. Minimum focusing distance is 33.5 inches with a maximum magnification 1:8.6.

The SD15 DSLR is the latest model in Sigma’s SD series of DSLR cameras, and is powered by the 14-megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor. The Foveon sensor can capture all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location arranged in three layers. The new SD15 incorporates the “TRUE II” image processing engine, which processes the large amount of data from the 14MP sensor. Other features include SD card compatibility, a 3-inch LCD, 77-segment AE sensor, and shutter mechanism with a life of over 100,000 actuations.

For more information, go to www.sigmaphoto.com.

Concept Cameras

Sony announced concept cameras: (l.) a compact DSLR that will accept interchangeable lenses; and (r.) a replacement for the Alpha A700 DSLR and two prototype lenses.

Yesterday at PMA, Sony announced a concept model of a new compact Alpha DSLR camera system. The system will employ the Sony Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, and provide full AVCHD video capture. The concept camera, which is an ultra compact model, will utilize interchangeable lenses, Sony also showed a mid-range concept DSLR camera, successor to the Alpha A700, and prototypes of two lenses: a Sony branded super telephoto 500mm f/4 G lens and Carl Zeiss Distagon T 24mm f/2 ZA SSM lens. Check the website at www.sony.com for more.


New accessories introduced last week include the Joby Ballhead X for Gorillapod Focus, the latest addition to its Professional Line of photographic equipment. The portable yet sturdy Ballhead X supports 11.1lbs and allows photographers the ability to pan, tilt, and rotate their camera. The Ballhead X is lightweight and compact, yet still robust enough to support pro SLR cameras with substantial zoom lenses and sizable camera rigs.

The Joby Ballhead X can be used with the Gorillapod Focus or any other tripod.

While it is optimized for use with the Gorillapod Focus, the Ballhead X can accommodate both 3/8” and 1/4” threads, for compatibility with any tripod. The Ballhead X will be available both separately and bundled together with the Gorillapod Focus, and is expected to hit store shelves in April. Go to www.joby.com for more information.

Product Review: ExpoImaging’s Ray Flash Ring Flash Adapter

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By Diane Berkenfeld

The Ray Flash is an adapter that fits over the head of your DSLR’s accessory flash and turns your flash into a ring flash. The Ray Flash uses the power of your flash—redirected through the adapter’s body—onto your subject. The Ray Flash has a center diameter of 4 1/8-inches and can accommodate most professional 35mm interchangeable lenses.

A range of models are available so you’ll want to check the ExpoImaging website for your DSLR/flash combination to see which one will work for you. The reason behind this is that there are differences in the height of different models of flashes sitting on various camera bodies. Originally the Ray Flash was designed to work with Canon Speedlites (580EX and 580EX II) and Nikon Speedlights (SB800 and SB900) but they will work with a range of other camera/flash combinations including cameras/flashes from Olympus and Sony; as well as flashes from Metz and Sigma.

The question is, when so many camera manufacturers and some lighting equipment makers make dedicated ring flashes, why would you go with an adapter instead? Price. The price ranges start at around $225 to $400 or so for dedicated ring flashes from camera makers and companies including Sunpak and Sigma; and upwards of $1,000 to $1,800 for ring flash heads from companies like Lumedyne, DynaLite, Comet, and Elinchrom. The ring flash heads average 3,000 watt seconds (w/s) of power. And if you own a lighting system that isn’t compatible, you’re out of luck—unless you’re willing to go out and spend thousands of dollars more for a full system of lights.

But when you’re looking for portability, a smaller unit is necessary. Street price for the Ray Flash is $199. which is a less than the cost if you were going to go out and buy a dedicated ring flash. And, by design, you’re getting more versatility out of your equipment, since you can most likely use a flash you already own.

Using the Ray Flash

(l. to r.) Installing the Ray Flash on a flash is quick and easy. Just slip it on, and turn the locking mechanism (on the top of the Ray Flash) to secure the adapter to the flash.

(l.) Final image; (r.) Close-up in Adobe Lightroom. Note the distinctive Ring Light highlights in the eyes. Photos © Diane Berkenfeld.

You will lose one stop of light from your flash by using the Ray Flash adapter. Because of the design, you can still use TTL modes with the Ray Flash adapter. Depending upon your shooting situation, though, you may want to use the flash on manual instead of TTL, to compensate for the light loss. A locking mechanism secures the adapter to your flash head, so it won’t slip off. And there is no change in color temperature.

Another example of the soft lighting from the Ray Flash. Photo taken with the Ray Flash on a Sigma EF 530 DG Super flash, Nikon D300s. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

The lighting from a ring flash is distinctive—virtually shadowless lighting on the front of the subject with a soft halo of shadow around the edges. The further away your subject is from the background, the harsher the shadow behind the subject will be. With other lighting methods, it is usually the opposite, in that you’ll get softer shadows the further your subject is from the background.

The Ray Flash, or any ring flash for that matter is ideal for Macro photography, however you can use the Ray Flash for wider compositions such as portraits too.

I tested out the Ray Flash (model #RAC 175-2) with a Nikon D300s body, AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G lens and Sigma EF 530 DG Super flash. I also decided to try it out with the Lensbaby Composer and Fisheye optic on the D300s and the Sigma flash.

Using the Ray Flash adapter is very easy, it just slips over the head of the flash. I had no problems using it, in fact, when using the Nikkor lens, I held the D300s body with my right hand, and zoomed the lens with my left. When I tried taking photographs with the Lensbaby, which was much shorter than the Nikkor, I found it a little more difficult to shoot, but not impossible. Because I was using the Fisheye optic, I could see the back of the Ray Flash adapter in the viewfinder. For the image of Mardi Gras beads (below) that I shot with the Fisheye Lensbaby, I actually liked the circular crop that I ended up with.

(l.) This image was captured with the Lensbaby Composer on a Nikon D300s, using the Fisheye optic. The black ring is the back of the Ray Flash - visible because of the Lensbaby's shallow physical size and Fisheye's wide field of view; (r.) Final cropped image, exposure adjusted slightly, bringing out the blacks. The outline around the circle was created in Photoshop. If you look really closely you can see the reflection of the Ray Flash in the highlights. Photos © Diane Berkenfeld.

If you’re looking for an economical ring flash lighting solution the Ray Flash adapter might be right for you.

For more information, go to the website www.expoimaging.com.