Showing posts from 2013

New Apple Mac Pro Available Starting Tomorrow

The highly anticipated Mac Pro will be available to order tomorrow from the Apple Online Store, prices start at £3,299 inc VAT (£2,749.17 ex VAT).

Press release:

CUPERTINO, California―December 18, 2013―Apple today announced the all-new Mac Pro will be available to order starting Thursday, December 19. Redesigned from the inside out, the all-new Mac Pro features the latest Intel Xeon processors, dual workstation-class GPUs, PCIe-based flash storage and ultra-fast ECC memory.

Designed around an innovative unified thermal core, the all-new Mac Pro packs unprecedented performance into an aluminium enclosure that is just 9.9-inches tall and one-eighth the volume of the previous generation. Mac Pro features 4-core, 6-core, 8-core or 12-core Intel Xeon processors running at Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9 GHz and two workstation-class AMD FirePro GPUs that deliver up to eight times the graphics performance of the previous generation Mac Pro.* PCIe-based flash storage delivers sequential read …

Free 40mm f2.8 STM lens, Adobe package when bought with Canon EOS 5D Mk III - WEX UK deal UK

UK dealer WEX is giving away a Canon EF 40mm f2.8 STM lens, worth £169 (one of my favorite lenses) when purchasing a Canon EOS 5D Mk III. Further, Canon is offering both Adobe Lightroom 5 and Premiere Elements free when bought with the Canon EOS 5D MK III (or Canon EOS 6D) worth a further £180. Please see here for details. With each product sold I get a small referral fee (but that doesn't cost you more, as it's paid by the retailer) Other options available here.

Samyang T-S 24mm f3.5 ED AS UMC Tilt/Shift lens review

With their range of movements tilt and shift lenses offered in various focal lengths for 35mm full-frame DSLRs have become indispensable for architecture, interiors, still-life, food and product photography. Before Canon redesigned their film-era 24mm version with an improved optical design and uniquely, adding a user-selectable option of aligning the tilt function with the shift movement, these lenses were quite reasonably priced.

Just four years ago, Canon offered the three focal lengths (24, 45 and 90mm) at £899 each, suggesting that these were marketed a ‘loss leader’, to entice users to switch from Nikon. At that time, with just one 85mm f/2.8D model in the range lacking automatic aperture control, Nikon was lagging behind.

The firm was soon to refresh the 85mm, while adding a 24mm and 45mm each with electronic automatic aperture control (a first for Nikon), identified by the PC-E designation. As with the earlier Canon TS-E models, they lack the option to tilt and shift in the …

Nikon to announce retro Df model

Nikon is set to introduce a new model, slated to be the Df, if a series of TV teasers aired in the US is anything to go by. Is this a picture of the real thing? Maybe, maybe not. We should know tomorrow though. The lower dial to the right of the pentaprism (from the front) is used to select the ISO settings. How novel.

Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 first impressions

Build quality is impressive, and the aperture ring is nicely weighted, an improvement over the 14mm and the Zeiss 12mm in my opinion. I'm not keen on the plastic, petal shaped hood, especially as it was Fuji who followed Leica with the more effective squared hoods. It's not flocked with felt either, which I prefer. I've had the lens for a few days now and thought I would add a few samples. I'll be adding more in due course. Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 at 1.4, ISO200 out of camera JPEGs from X-Pro1. At 100-percent actual pixels (taken from the extreme corners) there are some slight double edged effects consistent with slightly over-corrected designs. After the Storm; Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 at f1.4, ISO200. X-Pro1. The Fujinon 23mm f1.4 XF R lens can be pre-ordered from WEX in the UK for £849, or in the US from B&HPhoto and Adorama for $899.

Nikon starts shipping new 58mm prime

Nikon is starting to ship the new 58mm f1.4G in Europe and and the US. I have one coming and I may post some samples here next week, perhaps against the Canon EF 50mm f1.2L. The Nikkor 58mm f1.4G can be pre-ordered from WEX in the UK for £1,599 or in the US through B&H Photo for $1,696.95.

DxOMark publishes Sony A7R sensor results

DxOMark has published the results of the full-frame 36-MP Sony A7R. The lab concludes the sensor is very close in performance to that used in the Nikon D800 and D800E. Read the full review here at DxOMark. Please note that as the author of the review I can't comment further on any aspect of the results. The Sony A7R can be pre-ordered at Wex in the UK for £1,699. US readers can pre-order at B&H Photo at $2,298, or at Adorama for $2,298

Leica announce new Traveller carbon fibre tripod and two ball heads

Leica has today announced a new carbon fibre Traveller tripod and two new ball-heads. The new lightweight tripod weighs 1.2kg but at the time of posting the firm has not disclosed the packed size or the maximum height. The tripod and heads are available now, with the price of the tripod being £430, and £200 and £330, respectively for the heads. The firm also announced a new Elmarit-S 45mm f/2.8 ASPH for the S cameras yesterday (it's the equivalent to a 35mm lens in 35mm camera terms). The price, without shutter is £4,650 or £5,500 with (all prices include sales tax). The datasheet can be found here.For more information, please visit

DxO ViewPoint2 special offer

Online readers might be interested to know that from now until 20th October, DxO ViewPoint2 is on a special offer in the UK for just £39. Customers can visit either Park Cameras or WEX to purchase.

A free trial version is available here at

How to Have Memorable Family Photos

Steps to Make Your Family Photo Stand Out - in a Good Way

Family portraits are an important part of our culture. They help catch our children growing up, our changing families, even our pets through the years. Some family photos turn out hilariously and unintentionally bad. Don't let your family photo be among what a family photo shouldn't look like.

1. Don't wear matching outfits
One of many cheesiest things you can do in a family photo is to dress your family all inside the same outfit. Add some especially bad a part of an outfit, for example an ugly, holiday themed sweater and your loved ones photo gets to be a stale cliché or even a joke. Dressing with some sort of theme, say for example a common color is okay, but ditch the Cosby sweater for some thing natural looking and real.

2. Don't stage your photo

It's one thing to tell an account with your photo, there is however a fine line between that product a staged photo that looks silly and over the top. The best fam…

Lexar Workflow HR1 Hub and Card Readers, initial impressions

I've been using the new Lexar Workflow HR1 Hub (available to pre-order here) for a few days and I thought I would share some thoughts on it before reviewing it (maybe not here on my site as I'm very busy - it depends on how much interest is shown, I guess). The first thing to note is that it's a USB 3.0 powered hub, and, if you haven't realized already it doesn't come with any card readers - they're extra, although at $28.41 each the CF and SD (SDHC/SDXC) relatively accessibly priced. If all four bays are used, that's a total of $193.60, and getting on to be pricey. Where things get interesting is of course that the hub is designed to be 'future-proof'. When a new card standard is launched, all you need do is swap out the card readers. And, to prove the point Lexar has announced a card reader for XQD cards, presently only used by the Nikon D4. At $44.99 / 39.95, it's pricier than the standalone Sony XQD Memory Card Reader but slightly lower than…

Previously announced Zeiss 1,4/55 lens on the way?

A new Zeiss lens will be introduced shortly, I can reveal. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment, but I'm sure I won't be upsetting the firm by saying I believe it's for Canon and Nikon DSLRs, meaning a ZF.2 or ZE mount retro-focus model. My own guess is that's the previously announced 1,4/55 lens (shown above). The firm previously said in an 'development statement' that the model will be available at the end of 2013. I believe we may hear more as soon as next week, and I also expect one or two carefully selected review sites (in the US mainly) to publish their initial findings on the day of the announcement...For more information, please visit the Zeiss blog here.

DxOMark posts video AF comparison between Canon EOS 70D and Sony SLT-A77

I'm not going to reveal the outcome, please visit the site here.

Sony Zeiss 1,4/50 for Alpha going back tomorrow

I have been using the Sony Zeiss 1,4/50 with the SLT-A99 for the past week or so for review in one of the magazines I contribute to. It's going back tomorrow, so if there any readers who would like to ask me questions about it, feel free.

Think Tank TurnStyle 20 sling-bag initial impressions

I'm reviewing the above bag for one of the magazines I contribute to, and I thought I would share some initial impressions. Firstly, it's one of the best sling bags I've seen and it has become a firm favorite of mine which will likely replace my Lens Taxi as my most used pack. However, there are couple of shortcomings. The first is the overly petite haul loop; it's so thin and weedy* I can't trust it when the bag is full of heavy gear. It would be almost better if it didn't have one (it may be an idea to cut it off - it would also make it impossible for some to grab it from behind). Second, the rear pouch is supposed to take a iPad. It does, but if you have a case for it (I have a very slim Hard Candy case for protection) it won't fit. The TurnStyle 20 easily holds my current review kit: Sony Zeiss 1,4/50 T*, SLT-A99, X-Pro1 and Zeiss Touit 2,8/12 T* and XF-55-200mm f/3.5-4.8R LM OIS., but there's not much room for anything else.You can buy the TurnSt…

Olympus reveal new 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom, pro E-M1 body

Olympus has revealed the long rumored E-M1 and 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom. It sounds like the E-M1 uses the same excellent panel as the VF-4 (for the PEN E-P5). Prices start at £1299.99 for the body only, £1499.99 for the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 12-50mm 1:3.5-6.3 lens kit and £1949.99 for a kit that includes the new M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 12-40mm 1:2.8 lens. While the E-M1 seems like a good step up from the E-M5 and PEN E-P5 (both sitting on my desk right now) for stills. the limited 1080/30p video (with a max 24Mbps bit rate) will not give Panasonic GH-3 users any cause for concern, even with the 5-Axis IBIS (which is one of the best for handheld video). Olympus really need to offer 60/50/30/25/24p and IPB and All-I compression and MOV (H.264), MP4 and AVCHD formats. Lets also hope the focus peaking isn't like that found on the E-P5 (it's okay, but nothing like that on the Sony A-99).

ThinkTank Photo unwrap Apple carry cases

ThinkTank Photo, one my favorite camera bag maker's has announced a range of cases, desigbned specifically for Apple iPads and MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops up to the 15-inch model. For more information, please visit here.

DxOMark compares Nikon and Canon 500mm and 600mm f/4 super-telephoto lenses

DxOMark has published their first comparison between Canon and Nikon telephoto lenses. In the article they compare the AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR with the latest Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, and new Sony 500mm f/4 G SSM for the Alpha SLTs. As a bonus, they've also included a head to head with Nikon's premier super-telephoto the AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G ED VR and the Canon equivalent EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM.To read the article please visit the DxOMark site.

Nikon D5 and Canon EOS 1DX S DSLRs to feature optional EVFs?

With the introduction of the Leica M sporting both an optical (actually coupled rangefinder) and the option to fit a EVF that works very well together, and with rival Sony offering electronic finders in their SLT cameras, what can Nikon and Canon do with future pro oriented models? Easy, should on-sensor phase detection AF (such as that found on the new Canon EOS 70D) become fast and reliable enough I can think of several solutions. But the one that appeals to me most is a return to the interchangeable finders of their film-era cameras. While the maker's primary concern will be the ingress of dust, how difficult could it be to offer a single body with the option of optical and electronic finders? The reflex mirror and focusing screen could be retained for the optical (pentaprism) finder and finder based PDAF systems*, and be simply locked up when the electronic finder is attached. You wouldn't be able to switch seamlessly as you can with the Leica M, but that's inherent wi…

Nikon Nikkor 60mm f2.8 D or G version?

If you're a Nikon macro photographer and are looking to buy a 60mm, you have a dilemma. The latest AF-S Nikkor 60mm f2.8G is a fine performer optically and can achieve 1:1 without extension tubes, just like the earlier "AF-D" type version. However, the earlier iteration is preferred by those who want to combine it with the various Nikon PK11A, PK12, PK13, PN11 extension tubes for magnifications greater than 1:1- the latest "G" type model has no aperture ring for manual control. The AF Macro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D (pictured above) is no longer made and while it is very hard to find it is still available new as a "grey import" from Adorama at $429
It begs the question, do Nikon realize the shortcomings of not upgrading their extension tubes? With lenses achieving 1:1 already (without the extension tubes) they think there're no need.  It was understandable before, with the lens coupling used on "D" series lenses, but now as the roll-out of A…

Fuji X-E1 and X-Pro1 savings when buying additional XF lenses

Fuji are slashing prices on lenses for the X-E1 and X-Pro1 at $200-$300 a lens. See the B&H site here for details. Click on "Savings Available" A 2% "reward" is also being offered.Details of the savings for the X-Pro1 can be found here.