Photo Plus Expo 2015: Tidbits from the Show

Wandered the PPE 2015 floor today at the Javitts Center in New York City, together with a multitude of other photography fans including all those bloggers and YouTubers we’ve grown accustomed to.

I’m getting a bit tired of gear news, as you might have noticed from the lack of it on this site recently, so I only focused on the stuff I’m personally interested in or intrigued by.

Before I share the stuff I can share, I must add that despite my sense that we’ve reached a plateau in the market, I’m still excited about some of the stuff that’s likely coming over the transom. But that was all eluded to off the record, so no specifics yet.

Here are the tidbits I can share:

  • the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 will tentatively be priced at around EUR4500, including VAT;
  • Zeiss will add a new Batis to its line in the spring of next year, no word yet on its focal length;
  • production of the Batis 25mm f/2 is expected to finally catch up with demand by the spring.

Moving to Olympus:

The upcoming 300mm f/4, which has a lot of people excited because it’s a 600mm f/4 equivalent in full frame, will apparently boost features that no other lens has. The rep refused to tell me anything more, leaving me as befuddled as you are what they could possibly be doing with this lens. All I hope for is that the OM-D E-M1 successor will be a camera to match the needs of the bird and wildlife photographers who would buy this lens.

To Sony:

The new Sony RX1R II is one sweet little camera. I’m not a fan of rangefinder style viewfinders, but the little pop-up EVF on the left side of the camera is a nice feature and altogether it’s one sweet package. A bit expensive. Also, the models they had on display were pre-production, so no sample images could be taken.

To Leica:

I had not yet made acquaintance with the Leica Q, the closest competitor to the above fixed-focal-lens Sony. In short, it’s another beautiful camera with a great lens, delivering crisp images. I prefer the Leica’s 28mm over the Sony’s 35mm and if it wasn’t for the price, the Q would be mine. I fear it never will be, though.

Then there’s the Leica SL, the new kid on the block. The camera by itself is large for a mirrorless camera, but not uncomfortably so. I found the grip to both look good and feel good, so while my initial impression was that form had trumped function, after holding it, I think the two mesh perfectly.

I can’t say the same thing about the first lens produced in this line, the 24-90mm f/2.8-4. It delivers great quality, but it’s one large piece of gear.

And handling the camera reminded me of stepping into an Ferrari Enzo at a car show some years ago. While I had driven cars since my late teens, that Ferrari left me dumbfounded with its Formula 1-style controls. Likewise, while I’ve handled cameras for even longer than I’ve driven cars, the SL left me utterly confused about how to change basic settings. Usually, I pick up a camera and can shoot with it at different settings. Here, a friendly Leica rep had to help me out every step of the way. In this case, form does seem to trump function.

Leica SL & 24-90mm Lens at 90mm f/4, 1/80s, ISO 2500, heavy crop, no other adjustments

I’m still not sure who Leica built the SL for. Their media materials emphasize it as a professional camera, which would take aim at the top Canon and Nikon bodies, but the Leica lenses aren’t there to make for a compelling case for a pro who usually would pick up a Canon 1D X and a few f/2.8 lenses. And while the SL shoots at 11 frames per second, that goes down to 7 fps if you use continuous focus. In short, while I think Canon and Nikon have a lot to worry about, this Leica ain’t it.

Punters say Leica is taking on the Sony A7-series, but if they did that, why would they build a so much better body than the A7-series but not offer a higher-megapixel sensor? And why price it at more than double of the most expensive Sony A7-series?

I’m sure true Leica aficionados with a range of R-lenses in the closet will like this camera, but I have no clue who else is going to buy this at $7,500. Hopefully Leica knows.

Finally, B&H is running a host of show specials. Some are worth real money, so check it out.

The show is on for two more days.

That’s Handy: Photokina 2014 Goodies

After I spent all that time putting all those links to B&H together the other day, Amazon now makes it easy for us bloggers and puts most of the new stuff on one page:

Photokina 2014 Goodies

That’s an affiliate link, by the way. Somehow I keep hoping that at some point this site is going to bring in a bit of money…

Amazon misses out on some of the latest announcements, including another Zeiss lens and a major addition of lenses, two new S-cameras, a M film camera and a special edition of the screen-less digital M by Leica, the only company that can leave things out and then charge a fortune for it.

Those are here (B&H affiliate links):

A Lens Panorama

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just a quick post. Got the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART yesterday and realized that it’s one big lens. As is the Zeiss Otus, of course. So, I thought, I’d line up some of the 50mm (equivalents) I have in the house and I got this panorama.

Featuring from left to right is the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, the Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZE, the Olympus 25mm f/1.8 and the Leica Leitz Elmar 5cm f/3.5 collapsible lens.

They’re all good to excellent lenses. They’re all doing the job.

But look at this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That big one is of course much sharper and can focus much closer and delivers much better quality overall.

But a lens like the little one above took this:

cartier-bresson-henri-iza-gare-st-lazare-paris-1932

Henri Cartier-Bresson – Behind Gare Saint-Lazare

That’s all I got to say.

Should You Buy a Leica T ?

LEICA-T-WINDOWTEASER_teaser-1200x470

Leica this morning announced its rumored Leica T. At the same time, several Leica beta-testers and Leica-oriented bloggers published their reviews.

Very quickly: the T is a 16-megapixel, APS-C mirrorless – but not a rangefinder – camera with AF, a new lens mount and two new lenses available at launch. It costs $1,850. The lenses are a 23mm f/2 prime (35mm equivalent) at $1,950 and a 16-56mm f3.5-5.6 at $1,750.

Being devoid of Leica – or any other brand – love and lacking an enormous audience, I have not seen or stroked this new masterpiece. What I have done, my dear reader, is read a bunch of those reviews and come to some quick conclusions. [Read more…]

Battle of the 50s: Olympus 25mm f/1.8 versus Panasonic 25mm f/1.4

A few weeks ago, Olympus launched a 25mm f/1.8 lens for the Micro Four-Thirds format, finally kind of catching up with the existing Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens. Kind of, because the Olympus doesn’t have that magical f/1.4 aperture that seems to be the distinguishing feature between low-end f/1.8 50s and higher-end f/1.4 50s in the DSLR world (25mm is the MFT equivalent for 50mm in full-frame format).

With the new Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 coming out at the same time, though, and that lens being lauded as one of the best normal lenses ever, f/1.8 might just have a chance to be taken seriously. Even better for Olympus, its lens comes in at $400, compared with the Panasonic at $529 and the Sony at $1,000. [Read more…]