Category Archives: Nikon

Tamron releases image-stabilized 24-70mm F2.8 zoom

Tamron has announced a 24-70mm F2.8 zoom for full frame cameras that features inbuilt optical stabilisation – a first in this class of lens. The SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, to give it its full name, also incorporates an Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor for autofocus, which allows full-time manual focus. The lens is moisture-resistant, and features a circular aperture diaphragm for the attractive rendition of background blur. It will be produced in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts, with price and availability to be confirmed at a later date.

 Tamron develops full-size, high-speed standard zoom with built-in image stabilization – SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007)

With class-leading resolution and Tamron’s proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation)

Tamron Co., Ltd., a leading manufacturer of optical equipment, announced the development of the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007), a full-size high-speed standard zoom lens equipped with VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), with resolution at the top of its class.

The price and availability of the SP 24-70mm will be announced at a later date.

Product Features

  1. A full-size, high-speed standard zoom with built-in VC ( Vibration Compensation). Even when shooting in low-light conditions with a slow shutter speed to render sharpness, Tamron’s acclaimed VC allows for stable handheld camera work, to more fully enjoy the benefits of this high-speed zoom lens.
  2. Uses special high-grade glass in the three LD elements, three glass molded aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens and two XR (Extra Refractive Index) glasses, delivering top-of-the-class quality images suited to this high-grade lens. Using a rounded diaphragm, the lens achieves gorgeous blur effects. This rounded diaphragm retains a nearly circular shape even when taken two stops down from its fully open state.
  3. Features Tamron proprietary USD ( Ultrasonic Silent Drive) to power a speedy AF drive together with a continuous manual mechanism.
  4. This high-speed standard zoom lens has a wide-end focal length of 24mm that expands the photographic area.
  5. The lens adopts the new technology including the latest optical design, VC ( Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD ( Ultrasonic Silent Drive), all in a lighter and more compact package.
  6. Moisture-resistant construction helps prevent water from penetrating the lens.

Read more @ dpreview

Nikon D800 and D800E 36MP full-frame DSLRs announced

Nikon has announced the D800 and D800E 36MP full-frame DSLRs. The pixel count of the long-awaited replacement for the D700 means it also trumps the D3X as the highest-resolution camera in Nikon’s lineup. As well as the ‘stock’ D800, Nikon has also revealed a more expensive model, the D800E that will be free from the effects of an anti-aliasing filter. Aimed at studio and landscape professionals the D800E should theoretically begin to rival medium format digital equipment in terms of resolution.

EXPECTATIONS SURPASSED: THE 36.3-MEGAPIXEL NIKON D800 IS THE MULTIMEDIA HD-SLR THAT SHATTERS CONVENTIONAL RESOLUTION BARRIERS FOR MAXIMUM FIDELITY

The New Nikon D800 Offers Unrivaled Resolution and Features Designed for a Variety of Demanding Professional Photographic and Multimedia Disciplines, Videographers and Filmmakers

 Today, imaging leader Nikon Inc. announced the highly anticipated D800 HD-SLR, engineered to provide extreme resolution, astounding image quality and valuable video features optimized for professional still and multimedia photographers and videographers.  A camera with an unmatched balance of accuracy, functionality and image quality, the Nikon D800 realizes innovations such as a high resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, a 91,000-pixel RGB Matrix Metering System, Advanced Scene Recognition System and many other intuitive features designed to create the preeminent device for the most demanding photo and video applications.

Whether shooting high fashion, weddings or multimedia content, Nikon’s highest resolution sensor to date, a groundbreaking new 36.3-megapixel (7360 x 4912 resolution) FX-format CMOS sensor, affords flexibility and astonishing image quality to satisfy a myriad of client requests. The Nikon D800 incorporates the latest 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering III and the Advanced Scene Recognition System, coupled with an improved 51-point AF system for images with amazing sharpness, color and clarity. With its compact, lightweight D-SLR form factor and extensive video feature set, the D800 allows photographers to transition to multimedia to create an immersive story. Professional videographers will appreciate practical features that go beyond NIKKOR lens compatibility and Full HD 1080p video, such as full manual control, uncompressed HDMI output, and incredible low-light video capability. With this innovative combination of features, the D800 celebrates resourcefulness and a dedication to the flawless execution of an epic creative vision. All of this is driven by Nikon’s latest EXPEED 3™ image processing engine, providing the necessary processing power to fuel amazing images with faithful color, a wide dynamic range and extreme resolution.

“Whatever the project, visionaries need a tool that is going to help them stay on-time and on-task. The Nikon D800 re-imagines what is possible from this level of D-SLR, to address the needs of an emerging and ever changing market; this is the camera that is going to bridge the gap for the most demanding imaging professionals, and provide never before seen levels of SLR image and video quality,” said Bo Kajiwara, director of marketing, Nikon Inc. “The D800 is the right tool for today’s creative image makers, affording photographers, filmmakers and videographers a versatile option for capturing the ultimate in still image quality or full HD content, with maximum control.”

Extreme Image Quality

The new Nikon developed 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24mm) CMOS sensor realizes Nikon’s highest resolution yet, and is ideal for demanding applications such as weddings, studio portraiture and landscape, where there is no compromise to exceptional high fidelity and dynamic range. Nikon’s first priority is amazing image quality above all else, and resolution of this magnitude affords photographers the ability to portray even the smallest details, such as a strand of hair, with stunning sharpness or crop liberally with confidence. Photographers also shoot with the assurance of NIKKOR lens compatibility, because only a manufacturer with decades of optical excellence can provide the glass to resolve this kind of extreme resolution.

For shooting with minimal noise in a variety of lighting conditions, the D800 features a wide native ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 50 (Lo-1)-25,600 (Hi-2). Nikon engineers have created innovative ways to manipulate light transmission to the sensor’s photodiodes, giving users the ability to shoot with confidence in challenging lighting conditions.  Internal sensor design, an enhanced optical low pass filter (OLPF) and 14 bit A/D conversion with a high signal to noise ratio all contribute to a sensor capable of excellent low light ability despite the extreme resolution.  Every aspect of this new FX-format sensor is engineered to deliver amazing low noise images through the ISO range and help create astounding tonal gradation and true colors, whether shooting JPEG or RAW. Images are further routed through a 16-bit image processing pipeline, for maximum performance. To further enhance versatility, users are also able to shoot in additional modes and aspect ratios such as 5:4 to easily frame for printed portraits or a 1.2X crop for a slight telephoto edge. For even more versatility, photographers can also take advantage of Nikon DX-format lenses for more lens options and enhanced focal range (1.5X), while still retaining sharpness and details at a high 15.4-megapixel (4800×3200) resolution.

Contributing to the camera’s rapid performance and amazing image quality is Nikon’s new EXPEED 3 image processing engine that helps professionals create images and HD video with amazing resolution, color and dynamic range. From image processing to transfer, the new engine is capable of processing massive amounts of data, exacting optimal color, rich tonality and minimized noise throughout the frame. Despite the immense data, the new EXPEED 3 also contributes to energy efficiency, affording the ability to shoot longer.

The D800 also features the Advanced Scene Recognition System with the 91,000-pixel 3D Color Matrix Meter III to provide unrivaled metering in even the most challenging of lighting conditions. At the system’s core is a newly designed RGB sensor that meticulously analyzes each scene, recognizes factors such as color and brightness with unprecedented precision and then compares all the data using Nikon’s exclusive 30,000 image database. Additionally, this new sensor now has the ability to detect human faces with startling accuracy, even when shooting through the optical viewfinder. This unique feature is coupled with detailed scene analysis for more accurate autofocus (AF), Auto exposure (AE), i-TTL flash control and even enhanced subject tracking. The Color Matrix Meter also emphasizes priority on exposure of the detected faces, allowing for correct exposure even when the subject is backlit. Even in the most difficult exposures the D800 excels, such as maintaining brightness on a bride’s face while retaining the dynamic range to accentuate the intricate details of a wedding dress beside a black tuxedo.

Advanced new automatic systems make it even easier to capture amazing images. The camera features a new enhanced auto white balance system that more accurately recognizes both natural and artificial light sources, and also gives the user the option to retain the warmth of ambient lighting. Users can expand dynamic range with in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) image capture, and enjoy the benefits of Nikon’s Active D-lighting for balanced exposure. Another new feature is direct access to Nikon’s Picture Control presets via a dedicated button on the back of the body to tweak photo and video parameters on the fly, such as sharpness, hue and saturation.

True Cinematic Experience

The Nikon D800 has a compact and lightweight form factor that’s preferable for a production environment, yet is packed with practical and functional features. The D800 is ideal whether the user is a filmmaker on location or in the studio or a documentarian in the field who requires portability and the NIKKOR lens versatility and depth of field that only a HD-SLR can offer. Filmmakers have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including Full HD 1080 at 30/24p and HD 720 at 60/30p. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format video with unmatched integrity for up to 29:59 minutes per clip (normal quality). This format produces higher quality video data without increasing file size for a more efficient workflow. The optimized CMOS sensor reads image data at astoundingly fast rates, which results in less instances of rolling shutter distortion. The sensor also enables incredible low-light video capability with minimal noise, letting filmmakers capture footage where previously impossible or expensive and complex lighting would otherwise be necessary. Users are also able to have full manual control of exposure, and can also adjust the camera’s power aperture setting in live view for an accurate representation of the depth of field in a scene.  Whether shooting for depth of field in FX-format mode, or looking for the extra 1.5X telephoto benefits of DX mode, the high resolution sensor of the D800 allows videographers to retain full 1080p HD resolution no matter which mode they choose to best suit the scene. Users are also able to easily compose and check critical HD focus through the 921,000-dot, 3.2-inch LCD monitor with reinforced glass, automatic monitor brightness control, and wide viewing angle.

For professional and broadcast applications that call for outboard digital recorders or external monitors, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera via the HDMI port (8 bit, 4:2:2). This output signal can be ported into a display or digital recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections. This image can also be simultaneously viewed on both the camera’s LCD and an external monitor, while eliminating on-screen camera status data for streaming purposes. The D800 also includes features concentrated on audio quality, such as a dedicated headphone jack for accurate monitoring of audio levels while recording. Audio output levels can be adjusted with 30 steps for precise audio adjustment and monitoring. The D800 offers high-fidelity audio recording control with audio levels that can be set and monitored on the camera’s LCD screen. A microphone connected via the stereo mic jack can also be adjusted with up to 20 steps of sensitivity for accurate sound reproduction. What’s more, recording can be set to be activated through the shutter button, opening a world of remote applications through the 10-pin accessory terminal.

Wield Speed and Performance with Astonishing Accuracy

Whether shooting the runway or fast moving wildlife, the enhanced 51-point AF system of the D800 delivers blazing fast AF with tack-sharp results. Nikon has enhanced the Multi-Cam 3500-FX AF sensor module and algorithms to significantly improve low light acquisition, for precise focus to an impressive -2 exposure value (EV). The focus system utilizes 15 cross-type AF sensors for enhanced accuracy, and the system also places an emphasis on the human face, working in conjunction with the Advanced Scene Recognition System to provide accurate face detection even through the optical viewfinder. The camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and teleconverters with an aperture value up to f/8, which is a great advantage to those who need extreme telephoto focal lengths (single cross type sensor active with TC20E III). For maximum versatility in all shooting situations, whether photographing portraits or static subjects, users are also able to select multiple AF modes, including normal, wide area, face tracking and subject tracking to best suit the scene.

The D800 delivers upon a professional’s need for maximum speed when it counts. The camera is ready to shoot in 0.12 seconds, and is ready to capture with super-fast AF and response speed. To photograph action in a burst, the camera shoots up to 4 frames per second (fps) in FX mode at full resolution, or up to a speedy 6 fps in DX mode using the optional MB-D12 Battery Pack and compatible battery. Further enhancing the speed of the camera and overall workflow, the D800 utilizes the new USB 3.0 standard for ultra fast transfer speeds.

Construction and Operability

The body of the D800 is designed to offer a compact form factor and a lightweight body for the utmost versatility. The chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy for maximum durability, and is sealed and gasketed for resistance to dirt and moisture. Users are able to easily compose through the bright optical viewfinder, which offers 100% frame coverage.  For storage, the D800 has dual card slots for CF and SD cards, and offers users the ability to record backup, overflow, RAW/JPEG separation, and the additional option of shooting stills to one and video to the other. For high speed recording and transfer, data can be recorded to recent UDMA-7 and SDXC / UHS-1 cards. The shutter has been tested to withstand approximately 200,000 cycles, and the camera also employs sensor cleaning. The D800 also features a built-in flash and is compatible with Nikon’s acclaimed Creative Lighting System, including a built-in Commander mode for controlling wireless Speedlights.

D800E – Maximum Resolution Unleashed

In addition to the D800, Nikon will also be releasing a supplementary model for those professionals who demand even higher resolution and D-SLR versatility; the D800E. This model treads in medium format territory for studio work or landscape photography when there is no exception to only the highest fidelity and sharpness. This unique alternative model will effectively enhance the resolution characteristics of the 36.3-megapixel CMOS sensor by cancelling the anti-aliasing properties of the OLPF inside the camera. By doing this, light is delivered directly to the photodiodes, yielding an image resulting from the raw light gathering properties of the camera. A color moiré correction tool will also be available within Capture NX2 to enhance the D800E photographer’s workflow.

Price and Availability

The Nikon D800 will be available in late March for the suggested retail price of $2999.95.1 The D800E version will be available in mid April 2012 for a suggested retail price of $3,299.95. For more information about these models, NIKKOR lenses and other D-SLR cameras please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Read more @ dpreview

Tamron releases image-stabilized 24-70mm F2.8 zoom

Tamron has announced a 24-70mm F2.8 zoom for full frame cameras that features inbuilt optical stabilisation – a first in this class of lens. The SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, to give it its full name, also incorporates an Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor for autofocus, which allows full-time manual focus. The lens is moisture-resistant, and features a circular aperture diaphragm for the attractive rendition of background blur. It will be produced in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts, with price and availability to be confirmed at a later date.

Tamron develops full-size, high-speed standard zoom with built-in image stabilization – SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007)

With class-leading resolution and Tamron’s proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation)

Tamron Co., Ltd., a leading manufacturer of optical equipment, announced the development of the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD (Model A007), a full-size high-speed standard zoom lens equipped with VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), with resolution at the top of its class.

The price and availability of the SP 24-70mm will be announced at a later date.

Product Features

  1. A full-size, high-speed standard zoom with built-in VC ( Vibration Compensation). Even when shooting in low-light conditions with a slow shutter speed to render sharpness, Tamron’s acclaimed VC allows for stable handheld camera work, to more fully enjoy the benefits of this high-speed zoom lens.
  2. Uses special high-grade glass in the three LD elements, three glass molded aspherical lenses, one hybrid aspherical lens and two XR (Extra Refractive Index) glasses, delivering top-of-the-class quality images suited to this high-grade lens. Using a rounded diaphragm, the lens achieves gorgeous blur effects. This rounded diaphragm retains a nearly circular shape even when taken two stops down from its fully open state.
  3. Features Tamron proprietary USD ( Ultrasonic Silent Drive) to power a speedy AF drive together with a continuous manual mechanism.
  4. This high-speed standard zoom lens has a wide-end focal length of 24mm that expands the photographic area.
  5. The lens adopts the new technology including the latest optical design, VC ( Vibration Compensation) image stabilization and USD ( Ultrasonic Silent Drive), all in a lighter and more compact package.
  6. Moisture-resistant construction helps prevent water from penetrating the lens.

Read more @ dpreview

Tokina adds focus motor to create AT-X 116 Pro DX II wide-angle for APS-C DSLRs

Tokina has announced an updated version of its highly-regarded 11-16mm F2.8 wideangle zoom for APS-C SLRs. The AT-X 116 PRO DX II adds a ‘Silent Drive-Module’ (SD-M) focus motor that enables it to autofocus on all Nikon SLRs. The latest version also includes improved surface coatings (which are particularly important for wide-angle lenses) and adds a ‘GMR’ sensor to locate the focus element’s current position, to speed up autofocus – a technology first introduced on the AT-X 16-28 F2.8 PRO FX full-frame wide-angle. US distributor THK Photo tells us the Nikon version should be available around April with a Canon version following around August.

Unlike version 1 of the lens, there is no mention of a Sony version.

Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX II F2.8

Read more @ dpreview

Nikon launches AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 G

Nikon has launched the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 G, an updated version of its popular moderate telephoto prime lens. The AF-S version of the lens is a completely new optical design and features a built-in focusing motor to allow it to autofocus on all Nikon DSLRs. The lens features an internal focus design and 7 rounded aperture blades. It can focus down to a distance of 80cm (2.6ft). The lens will be available from March 2012 for a price of around $499.

THE NEW NIKON AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G PRIME LENS COMBINES PRACTICALITY WITH PORTABILITY RESULTING IN A VERSATILE PORTRAIT LENS

New NIKKOR Lens is Ideal for Low-Light, Portraiture and Adding Dramatic Background Blur to Both Photo and Video

Nikon Inc. announced the addition of the new AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G FX-format lens to its legendary line of NIKKOR lenses. The new 85mm is a fast, fixed focal-length lens with medium telephoto capabilities and a large maximum aperture of f/1.8 that is capable of performing a wide variety of imaging tasks with amazing sharpness and clarity.

“Whether a professional photographer who needs extreme sharpness or a photo enthusiast looking for an affordable, lightweight lens with amazing clarity, Nikon photographers appreciate and rely on the vast selection and dependability of NIKKOR lenses for their imaging needs,” said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc. “The new 85mm f/1.8 is fully optimized for capturing amazing photos and videos, while providing the ability to utilize background blur to compliment the subject of their photo.”

A welcome addition to Nikon’s growing line of versatile prime lenses, the new AF- NIKKOR 85mm is ideal for travel, general photography, low-light, landscape, portraiture and capturing movies with extreme depth of field. The 85mm is designed to capture photos utilizing beautiful image blur achieved due to its large maximum aperture. Furthermore, the lens is lightweight, easy to carry, and provides an equivalent focal length of 127mm when attached to a Nikon DX-format D-SLR camera body.

The construction of the 85mm f/1.8 consists of nine optical elements, with a seven-blade diaphragm which contributes to a substantially more circular bokeh for a natural appearance to out-of-focus background elements. Additionally, instances of lens flare and chromatic aberration are suppressed using Nikon’s exclusive Super Integrated Coatings, which also help ensure vividly accurate color balance.

The new lens also comes equipped with a carefully engineered optical system optimized to deliver superior image quality. The integration of an ultra-compact Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures fast, whisper-quiet AF operation, which is essential when recording movies. The 85mm also features two focus modes, M/A (manual-priority autofocus) and M (manual) to further enhance versatility and adapt to a shooters needs. Additionally, Internal Focus (IF) design prevents the front element from rotating, allowing for the use of filters and attachments.

Price and Availability

The lightweight AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G will be available in March 2012 for a SRP* of $499.95. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

To see the new AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G lens and other new Nikon products, visit Nikon at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at booth # 11039 from January 10-13th, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV.

* Suggested retail price listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

Read more @ dpreview

Nikon D4 Product Tour

Nikon D4 overview

Like its predecessor, the Nikon D4 looks as if it’s going to be an incredibly impressive camera. Nikon has looked to its professional user-base and tried to work out what it needed to add or adjust on a camera that just a couple of years ago represented the best they were capable of. The result is a camera with few big changes but a extensive series of small improvements.

The biggest change is, of course, the improvement in video capabilities. Given the increasing demand for video footage from professional photographers, and the incredible success of Canon’s 5D Mark II in the professional video market, it was inevitable that Nikon’s pro flagship would need to offer a more compelling feature set than the existing models.

Beyond this, the changes to the stills-shooting specifications are relatively modest – there’s a higher-resolution, 16.2MP, full-frame CMOS sensor and the ability to shoot at 10 frames per second with autofocus, but that’s about it. The new chip’s capability has prompted Nikon to offer an ISO range from 100-12,800 that can then be extended to 50 – 204,800 (Hi4). The significant changes, beyond video, are a profusion of smaller tweaks, additions and improvements to what was already a well worked-out camera.

The biggest technical changes are the addition of a 91,000 pixel ‘metering’ sensor, replacing the 1005 pixel example used up until now. This sensor is used for much more than just metering, playing a key role in subject tracking, white balance and ‘Active D-lighting’ (a trick Canon seems impressed with, given the appearance of a similar system in the 1DX). The higher-resolution sensor allows the camera to offer face detection when shooting through the optical viewfinder.

Then there are the ergonomic changes to the camera’s body. Again like Canon’s 1DX, moves have been made to make the ergonomics of portrait-orientation shooting more closely resemble those of shooting in landscape format. The camera no longer features a dedicated AFL button, instead gaining push-button joysticks for both the vertical and landscape shooting orientations. An additional rubberized lump has also been added to provide a better grip in the vertical orientation and an additional function button added next to the vertical shutter button.

Key Specifications:

  • 16.2 effective megapixel, full-frame sensor (16.6MP total)
  • 10fps shooting with AF and AE, 11fps with focus and exposure locked, 24fps 2.5MP grabs
  • 91,000 pixel sensor for metering, white balance, flash exposure, face detection and active d-lighting
  • ISO Range 100-12,800 (extendable from 50 – 204,800)
  • MultiCAM 3500FX Autofocus sensor works in lower light and with smaller apertures
  • Two sub-selector joystick/buttons for shooting orientation
  • 1080p30 HD video at up to 24Mbps with uncompressed video output
  • New EN-EL18 battery (21.6Wh capacity, CIPA-rated at 2600 shots)
  • Twin card slots – one Compact Flash and one XQD

Details:

The D4 has a new autofocus sensor and, while its headline improvement is that it can now focus in lower light, this isn’t the only step forward. The sensor module has also been redesigned to enable it to operate with slower lenses (and lens/teleconverter combinations that give slower effective apertures). As before, with lenses of f5.6 or faster, 15 of its 51 AF points act as cross-type: sensitive to both horizontal and vertical detail. The 9 central focus points will continue as cross type when used with lenses with a maximum aperture of between f5.6 and f8. And, in a step forward for the range, the D4’s central AF point will still operate as a cross-type point with lens or lens/converter combinations with a maximum aperture of f8. In addition 10 AF points retain horizontal sensitivity at this aperture.

Ergonomics

Nikon has made a series of changes to the ergonomics of the D4 – representing some of the biggest changes to the body shape of this series of cameras. The first change many existing Nikon users will spot is that the D4’s shutter button now sits at a different angle, compared to previous models (apparently 35deg is more comfortable than 28deg, for long periods spent shooting).

There are a couple of changes to functions, mainly brought over from more lowly Nikon DSLRs. These include the addition of a button to the AF mode selector switch. Pressing this button and spinning a dial changes the AF area mode. The D4 also loses its metering mode selection switch from the viewfinder hump – it’s now one of the three functions controlled by the cluster on the left-hand shoulder of the camera. There’s also an additional button to the left of the camera’s LCD, with the D4 finally adopting the company’s separate zoom in/zoom out button behavior in live view and playback that has swept across the rest of the range.

 

The biggest changes, however, come for shooters using the camera in the portrait orientation. The ergonomics have been re-worked to better resemble the camera’s primary controls, with an extra (rubberized) lump on the camera’s back, to give more steady support. A function button has also been added, just beside the portrait shutter button, to give quick access to more functions. Most noticeably, though, the portrait orientation also gains a ‘sub-selector’ joystick to make AF point selection as convenient in portrait format shooting as it is with the camera held in landscape orientation.

Auto ISO improvements

Nikon has for a long time offered a degree of control over its Auto ISO settings, allowing the user to specify a minimum shutter speed that the camera should aim to maintain by raising the ISO. However shooters using zoom lenses, or worried about camera shake rather than freezing the action, may prefer a minimum shutter speed that relates to the focal length in use, rather than specifying an absolute figure. This has been resolved on the D4, with an Auto ISO system that detects the lens’ focal length. When this is activated by setting the minimum shutter speed to ‘Auto’, the user can then also bias the program towards using slower shutter speeds and lower ISOs, or faster shutter speeds and higher ISOs, in five steps.

Illuminated buttons

The D4 gains a feature that many D3 and D3S owners are likely to have found themselves hoping for: illuminated controls. Given the D3’s popularity for low-light work, and the further capability that the D3S brought, the ability to see the controls in the extremely low light levels that these cameras could operate in risked becoming an issue. With a maximum sensitivity of ISO 204,800 equivalent, it becomes even more pressing for the D4.

All the buttons immediately around the screen are now illuminated, as are the three on the cluster on the camera’s left-hand shoulder. The white stripe above the mode dial also lights up, though it’s not obvious how well this will illuminate the mode wheel. If it prevents the accidental engagement of Continuous Hi or Self Timer modes when you’re trying to select quiet shutter mode in a theatre or live music venue, that will be extremely welcome. Illumination is activated using the ‘light’ position on the power switch and the camera can be configured so that just the buttons (rather than the buttons and the status LCD panels) light up.

Video

The parallel advances made in sensor technology and Internet video distribution have helped create the ability to capture and broadcast video footage. In turn this has put pressure on many professional photographers to capture clips alongside their stills. In addition, the broadcast and movie industries have adopted the 5D Mark II to a degree that appears to have surprised even Canon. As a result, it’s not surprising that the 4D features more advanced, and better integrated, video capabilities than its predecessor. The immediate giveaway should probably be the inclusion not just of a mic input socket by a headphone output for monitoring the results (both of which have adjustable input/output levels).

The D4 can shoot 1080p movies at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second and at up to 24Mbps. The video is compressed using the B-frame compression section of the H.264 standard, which tries to optimize the capture of motion without hugely inflating the file sizes. It also has manually configurable volume control, including a line-level audio option. However, what may prove to be the camera’s biggest feature is the ability to export its uncompressed video footage via its HDMI port. We suspect that this feature, beyond all others, may help endear the camera to the broadcast and movie crowd. Whether using this for recording the camera’s best quality footage or to use an external monitor as viewfinder, it’s a feature we expect to become increasingly common.

A number of small details show how carefully Nikon has listened to the needs of movie shooters, giving the option to start movies either with a record button or with the shutter button (which, in turn, allows video capture to be started with the 10-pin cable release). Photojournalists meanwhile, get to pick whether pressing the shutter interrupt the video capture to take a still or to take a full-frame 3:2 aspect ratio 2.5MP frame grab.

Movies can also be shot at three different crops from the sensor, which Nikon is describing as FX, DX and 2.7X (native 1920×1080). This makes it easy to vary the field-of-view for grabbing footage, even if you’ve got a prime lens mounted. However, the ‘FX’ size is a significantly cropped version of the full sensor (it’s 91% of the sensor’s width), so the field-of-view will be a little narrower than you’d expect for any given focal length. Also the native 1920×1080 video will be higher quality than the FX and DX versions, since it hasn’t been downsized. This difference is likely to be incredibly small (almost certainly irrelevant for most users), but is a consideration for high-end video users.

The D4 gains improved aperture control in movie mode, with the addition of ‘Power aperture’. This simply means that the user can adjust the aperture while recording video in the A and M exposure modes. It’s also possible to set the aperture much more precisely in video live view mode before recording starts, in 1/8 stop incrementss using the Pv and Fn buttons on the front of the camera. In principle this should allow more exact matching of recording brightness across multiple camera / lens combinations.

XQD Cards

The D4 becomes the first camera to make use of the new XQD cards, created by the Compact Flash Association. The XQD slot sits alongside a conventional CF slot, and the camera retains all its options for writing and backing-up to its two slots. The new format is not only smaller but also potentially faster than conventional CF cards. And, while few people are likely to be delighted by the arrival of another new format, the speed benefits (up to around 125MB/s) should be enough to persuade shooters not to just leave the slot empty.

Image processing features

With the camera’s more powerful processors, the D4 adds more processing options, including a time lapse movie creator. This builds on the camera’s existing interval timer mode, compiling all the frames together into a full HD movie at the end. However, a fixed playback rate (meaning long-interval shoots end up being super sped-up) and its failure to save the individual frames may limit its appeal.

In a feature taken from other models in the range, the D4 gains in-camera HDR processing, with a choice of the number of frames used and a parameter for how gently all that extra data is incorporated.

Upgraded LCD monitor

The D4’s LCD monitor has been upgraded compared to the D3S – it’s a slightly larger 3.2″ 921000 dot unit, but according to Nikon has a substantially expanded colour gamut that’s close to sRGB. It also has a light sensor to detect ambient light levels, and adjust not only the screen brightness, but also the saturation, contrast and gamma as well, in an attempt to give optimized output. The monitor also has a gel resin between the LCD and the cover glass to minimise any risk of fogging when the camera is exposed to rapid changes of temperature.

WT-5 Wireless Transmitter with web-browser camera control interface

With the D4 comes a new WiFi transmitter, the WT-5, which is a neat little unit that screws onto the side of the body and draws it’s power from the camera’s battery. Its real party trick, though, is a built-in web browser-based remote camera control interface that doesn’t require you to download or install a specialized app. Essentially, you can log into your camera (with a username and password) using your laptop, tablet or smartphone and its standard web browser, at which point you’re presented with a camera control panel with live view feed. You can adjust a wide range of parameters – exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, white balance and so on, and initiate remote shutter release or video recording.

The WT-5 connects to the socket on the lower left of this image. In the center you can see the microphone and headphone sockets. On the lower right is the Ethernet port.

The web interface also allows you to control multiple cameras simultaneously, including the ability to release their shutters simultaneously. You can even autofocus anywhere in the scene, simply by touching your iPhone or iPad’s screen. Because this is all web-based, you don’t have to physically close to the camera either – in principle you could operate it from a different continent.

Nikon has clearly paid attention to professional photographers’ workflow requirements when shooting, and has tried to set the camera up so there’s no need to use a laptop alongside it any more. To this end the D4 allows photographers to add full IPTC data to all of their image files as they shoot, and can store 10 data presets each containing 14 fields. There’s a new network setup wizard to configure the camera for use over wired LAN, or WiFi in FTP and HTTP mode. The camera can even use the GP-1 GPS receiver to automatically set its internal clock, so multiple cameras can easily be synced and specific events from a shoot identified by the time at which they occurred.

Initial impressions:

Nobody would have reasonably expected the D4 to be a radical departure from the D3S – at this ‘the best we can do without the cost becoming incredible’ end of the market, it’s unusual to see huge leaps forward. Equally it’s no great shock that movie capability would be the focus of the biggest changes to the camera. But little touches such as lit buttons and, in theory at least, improved low-light focusing suggest Nikon has tried to make an even better low-light camera than its predecessor. And, as anyone who’s ever shot with a D3S will tell you, that’s a pretty exciting prospect.

Read more @ dpreview

Nikon announces SB-910 high-end Speedlight

Nikon has announced the SB-910, the flagship flashgun in its Speedlight range. Replacing the SB-900, the 910 gains the simpler graphic user interface (GUI) of the less powerful SB-700. Its more advanced thermal protection system slows the flash recycle time, rather than it simply shutting down to prevent overheating. It comes with hard filters for matching fluorescent and tungsten lighting and automatically switches the camera’s white balance to match the filter. Similarly it adjusts the available zoom steps to suit the body (FX or DX) that it’s attached to. The SB910 will be available from mid-December, priced around $549.95.

THE NEW NIKON SB-910 SPEEDLIGHT HARNESSES POWERFUL FLEXIBILITY AND CONTROL FOR THE REVOLUTIONARY CREATIVE LIGHTING SYSTEM

New Nikon SB-910 Speedlight Offers Advanced Flash Technology and Intelligent Features

 Today, Nikon Inc. announced the addition of a new flagship speedlight, the powerful and capable SB-910 speedlight. Building on the versatility of Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS), the SB-910 incorporates an enhanced intuitive operating system and graphic user interface (GUI). The SB-910 speedlight comes equipped with a wide zoom range covering the most popular focal lengths as well as FX/DX-format identification that optimizes zoom settings based on the camera body. This new speedlight also provides more efficient battery usage as well as an enhanced Thermal Cut-Out function.

“As Nikon’s new flagship speedlight, the SB-910 provides exceptional high performance and versatility that users have come to value in Nikon’s Creative Lighting System,” said Lisa Osorio, general manager of marketing at Nikon Inc. “By addressing the needs of photographers that work in challenging lighting scenarios, the SB-910 delivers a new level of portable lighting functionality, with performance and intelligent features that adapt to a wide range of lighting challenges.”

The SB-910 speedlight is designed to provide easy operation and menu navigation, with its enhanced operating system featuring illuminated function buttons, a dedicated Menu button with quick access to custom settings and an improved LCD screen graphic user interface. Whether the unit is used as an on-camera flash, wireless commander or remote, the SB-910 speedlight will provide dependable and consistent flash exposure. Engineered to address the creative lighting challenges faced by today’s photographers, the SB-910 speedlight includes quick on-demand performance and the ability to adapt seamlessly to nearly any possible lighting scenario.

Additionally, the new SB-910 incorporates a new Thermal Cut-Out function, which offers protection against damage to the flash panel and body from overheating during continuous flash use. Now, the flash recycling time is automatically delayed if a significant rise in temperature is detected, rather than ceasing operation to protect the unit. For additional durability, heat-resistance and ease-of-use, the SB-910 uses new hard-type color compensation filters for fluorescent and incandescent color temperature balancing. When using these filters, the flash automatically recognizes which filter is being used and adjusts white balance accordingly on the connected Nikon D-SLR camera. Additionally, the AF-assist illuminator of the SB-910 is compatible with the complete line of AF systems used in Nikon D-SLR cameras.

The SB-910 speedlight features three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) which are designed to match almost any shooting situation when utilizing the speedlight. The “standard” pattern will cover all conventional, standard flash coverage. The “center-weighted” pattern provides larger guide numbers than other light distribution types at the same focal lengths. This illumination pattern is ideal for subjects such as portraits, in which the light falloff at the image edges can be disregarded. When “even” is selected, the light from the flash will cover a subject from the center to the edges without light falloff. This pattern is applicable for shooting group photographs indoors. For coverage with a variety of lenses, the SB-910 speedlight incorporates a multi-step power zoom range that covers a wide 17-200mm angle of view, and can automatically detect Nikon FX and Nikon DX formats to help select suitable light distribution.

The SB-910 speedlight includes support for Nikon’s advanced wireless TTL operation and can function as a wireless commander with control over three separate groups of speedlights or as a remote speedlight triggered by other SB-910 speedlights, SB-700 speedlights, SU-800 Wireless Commander or the built-in speedlight set to Commander Mode on compatible Nikon D-SLR cameras. The SB-910 incorporates a high-speed recycling time of approximately 2.5 seconds for full power with NiMH batteries, and approximately 3.0 seconds with AA Alkaline batteries.

Optional water guards will be available for select cameras to protect the connection between the flash and camera, allowing users to utilize the flash when weather conditions are less than ideal. The SJ-4 Color Filter set provides a Warming, Red, Yellow or Blue filter for adding color to the background, foreground or just to accent the scene. The SB-910 will come equipped with the AS-21 Speedlight Stand, SW-13H Diffusion Dome, SZ-2FL and SZ-2TN hard type Color Compensation Filters and SS-910 soft case.

Price and Availability

Nikon’s new flagship speedlight, the SB-910, will be available in mid-December 2011 for a SRP*of $549.95. For more information, please visit http://www.nikonusa.com.

*SRP (Suggested Retail Price) listed only as a suggestion. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.

Read more @ dpreview

 

New firmware updates for Nikon D5100 v1.01 & D7000 v1.03

Nikon released new firmware updates for the Nikon D5100 and D7000 cameras. I actually never expected them to released another firmware update for the D7000 more than a year after it was announced.

Fixes in the Nikon D5100 v1.01 firmware update (download link):

  • An error recognizing some memory cards has been addressed.
  • When Selective color from the retouch menu is performed on a picture taken with the image quality set to NEF (RAW)+JPEG and an image size of M or S, the edges of the image may not have changed color. This issue has been resolved.
  • When Metering was set to Matrix metering, the exposure mode set to M (Manual), and the HDR exposure differential set to Auto, the exposure differential was fixed at a value equivalent to 2 EV. This has been changed to enable automatic adjustment of exposure differential so that it is appropriate for the scene.

Fixes in the Nikon D7000 v1.03 firmware updated (download link):

  • An error recognizing some memory cards has been addressed.
  • The following issues occurred when the mode dial was rotated from U1 or U2 to another shooting mode or from another shooting mode to U1 or U2 when the power was off or when the exposure meters are off (Auto meter-off). These issues were resolved.
  • – A new folder is sometimes created despite the fact that the current folder does not yet contain 999 files and none of the files are numbered “9999”.
  • – The number of remaining exposures may not be displayed as specified in the settings.
  • – The setting for Role played by card in Slot 2 may change between Overflow, Backup, and RAW Slot 1- JPEG Slot 2.
  • An issue where Battery info in the setup menu sometimes showed sufficient remaining charge even when the remaining charge for the AA batteries inserted in the MB-D11 battery pack was low has been resolved.
  • An issue where a saved photo may not have been displayed properly when a movie was displayed in playback mode while saving the photo has been resolved.
  • An issue where zoom in or zoom out may not have performed properly when the playback zoom in or playback zoom out button was pressed while in Live view has been resolved.
  • The message displayed when the internal memory of the Wireless Transmitter WT-4 is formatted from the Format transmitter’s memory under Device settings in Wireless transmitter of the camera’s setup menu was changed from Done to Built-in memory formatted.
  • Sigma reveals 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM with ‘FLD’ glass

    Sigma has released version II of its 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM superzoom lens. The latest version adds Sigma’s FLD glass, the ‘fluorite-like’ glass co-developed with Hoya and features a revised design (it now features a narrower body and 18 elements in 14 groups, rather than the 13 groups of its predecessor). The lens will be available for Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Pentax and Sony systems (without optical stabilization on the last two mounts). MSRP will be $720.

    SIGMA 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM

    The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the release of the SIGMA 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM. This 11.1x high zoom ratio lens is designed exclusively for digital SLR cameras, incorporates Sigma’s original OS (Optical Stabilizer) function and offers a broad shooting range from wide angle to telephoto.

    The SIGMA 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM is the successor to the SIGMA 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS/ HSM which was launched in June 2007. The lens is ideal for travel photography with a compact construction and length of just 87.7mm. This lens features FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements, which have the performance equal to fluorite glass, and SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements providing excellent correction of color aberration. Aspherical lenses give excellent correction for all types of aberration and distortion. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting, ensuring high quality images throughout the entire zoom range. Sigma’s OS (Optical Stabilizer) system offers effective correction of approximately 4 stops, enabling easy handheld photography. HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures quiet, high-speed auto focus and the inner focus system eliminates front lens rotation, making the lens particularly suitable for using the supplied petal-type lens hood and circular polarizing filters. The rounded 7 blade diaphragm creates an attractive blur to the out of focus areas of images.

    * Sony and Pentax mounts do not incorporate Optical Stabilization

    * FLD glass is the highest level low dispersion glass available with extremely high light transmission. The optical glass has a performance equal to fluorite glass which has a low refractive index and low dispersion compared to current optical glass. It also benefits from high anomalous dispersion. These characteristics give excellent correction for residual chromatic aberration (secondary spectrum) which cannot be corrected by ordinary optical glass and ensures high definition and high contrast images.
    * Vignetting will occur if the lens is used with image sensor larger than APS-C size or 35mm SLR, and APS Film SLR cameras.
    * For Pentax mount, auto focus will not be available on Pentax ist* series and K100D.
    * The appearance and specification are subject to change without notice.

    Read more @ dpreview

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