So we knew this was coming as I saw the prototype version of this back at Photokina last year and have since then seen sample images shot on one. To say they are quite incredible just does not do this lens justice. It's big, heavy and expensive but Zeiss wanted to produce the ultimate lens without compromise so that's what it had to be!
Sensors in SLRs have been getting higher and higher in resolution and this puts enormous demands on the performance of the lens. We've had a few people complain to us about images taken on the Nikon D800 only to find it was actually their lenses at fault, not the camera!
The idea with the Otus range is to produce lenses without chromatic aberrations and ensure perfect image quality, even with the lens wide open (which is quite often where others fall short). The lens is based on a floating elements design with 12 lens elements in 10 groups. This includes a lens with an aspheric optical surface and six lenses made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The unique variable lens arrangement within the lens ensures excellent imaging performance over the entire focusing range – from 0.5 meters to infinity. Colour fringing and distortions are not visible.
On the subject of physical build, the lens is as you would expect for something of this level. The focus operation is smooth with a large angle of rotation to allow the finest adjustment. You'll notice yellow labels (just like on their Master Prime cine lenses) to ensure easy readability (and perhaps to just show others just what glass you're using!!).
The lens has already won the iF Product Design Award 2013. We think it's rather special and will be looking to stock the lens initially in Nikon mount but with a view to adding a Canon mount lens soon after.
If you'd like to find out more about the lens, please do have a look at Zeiss' video below
Next week sees us back at the Ageas Bowl cricket ground for the Photovision Roadshow. The organisers have promised a new format with the Photographers Equipment fair. If you still want to have a look at some new kit, pop over and say hi!
So it's not been THAT long a time since we announced the arrival of the GoPro Hero3's. So what have GoPro done to the camera now and is it really worth worrying about?
To look at the only way you'll tell a difference between the two cameras is the '+' on the front. It's not until you look at the housings you'll tell a huge difference. GoPro decided to sacrifice a little depth ability (it's now rated at 40m rather than 60m) but the difference in the size of the housings is significant. All the buttons are bigger and way easier to press - I've always found them a bit hit and miss in the past. One last thing, the camera appears to fit far more snuggly into the housing now, which should reduce any chance of excessive shake.
To the camera itself - if you compare closely with the GoPro Hero 3, you will see a change in the lens. This is because it's now got a new f/2.8 lens which is supposed to be a huge improvement (we'll be testing side by side later today). Dynamic range is said to be improved (and going by the official video below, you can see this). There's a new wifi chip that boasts greater speed which should mean less latency using the smartphone app. What would be nice would be an extended range but it doesn't look like that's the case.
Battery life is a huge issue with the GoPro Hero 3. Indeed, we've had customers accusing us of supplying defective equipment, so bad was the performance compared to the Hero 2. GoPro has put a higher power battery in the 3+ (1180mAh against 1050mAh) and has done some software optimization to ensure power consumption is as low as possible. GoPro claims a 30% improvement which might be possible but so far we've been playing with it alongside the 3 and there's no doubt the battery isn't draining as fast.
A lot has been mentioned about the SuperView mode. Very simply the GoPros have a 4:3 sensor and so for normal footage, it crops the top and bottom of the sensor to produce 16:9 images. This SuperView mode uses the whole sensor and then conforms it to 16:9. You'd think this would squish everything but to be honest, for action footage it's pretty good - people don't look anything like as 'deformed' as you would expect by doing this!!
There's a new Auto Low Light mode that will automatically adjust the frame-rate to improve low-light performance. If you're shooting at 60fps in 1080p mode, the camera can drop down to as low as 24fps to let more light on the sensor. We need to really put both cameras side by side to test this as any advantage wasn't immediately noticeable.
Last but not least, the mics have been redesigned with one on the side and one on top. Again we want to test more side by side but so far we reckon background noise is lower with the +.
The cameras only arrived yesterday but we'll be getting them up on the website shortly for booking!
Canon announced today that the EOS-1DC has been independently tested in accordance with European Broadcasting Union standards for HD content acquisition and has been found to be the first DSLR to ever provide an image of high enough quality for use as a broadcast production tool.
The results showed that the EOS-1DC provides 'exceptional' HD resolution for a 4K source with 'very low' aliasing and 'good' colour performance and motion portrayal. The test results also confirm that the EOS-1DC camera system and its imaging performance comply with the recommended specification for inclusion in HD Tier 1 for HD production.
2013 really should be known as 4K year and IBC next week shows no sign of changing the current tune. We suspected something 4K flavoured would appear on the camcorder side from Sony and here it is - the new Sony PXW-Z100.
As you can see, it looks like pretty much any other Sony camcorder and anyone familiar with a Sony HDV/XDCAM/NXCAM camcorder will feel right at home.
The camcorder is built around a new 1/2.33" Exmor R CMOS 4K sensor recording 4K at 50p and 60p. On the front of the camera is a Sony G lens with 20x optical zoom with a useful wide angle of 29.5mm (35mm equiv).
The PXW-Z100 uses Sony's XAVC recording format. Bit rates work out at 500Mbps, 600Mbps and 223Mbps during 4K 50p, 60p and HD recording respectively. A firmware update is planned later in 2014 to support a Long GOP mode for extended 4K recording time and also support for AVCHD (strange this wasn't added from launch as surely it will be AVCHD customers that will be looking at this camera???).
Recording media is Sony's XQD memory card. We've already seen them in Nikon's D4. They are not desperately cheap (£180 for 32gb) but they are coming down in price now. The camcorder has two XQD slots allowing hotswapping. Interestingly the camcorder also has an SDHC slot that will allow simultaneous recording on AVCHD once it becomes available.
Connections wise, the PXW-Z100 has an HDMI interface outputting 4K as a 50p/60p signal allowing viewing when connected to a Sony 4K-compatible TV. A future upgrade is planned to allow compatibility with the new HDMI 2.0 standard which will allow 4K connectivity to other devices. A 3G HD-SDI interface is also included.
Another buzz feature at the moment is WiFi remote and the PXZ-Z100 is no exception in featuring control using the browser function of a smartphone or tablet.
We'll be having a look at the camcorder next week at IBC and will report back then. Our initial concern is over the cost of recording media and its initial lack of AVCHD for current HD shooters - will that stop people considering it? Time will tell.
Price wise, although we have yet to have this confirmed, hire charges will be -
Daily £102, Weekend £155, Weekly £389 ( all inc VAT including a 32gb XQD card and reader).
We'd expect Sony to start shipping towards the end of 2013.
Canon has decided to make a raft of announcements before IBC on its current cinema range which can only be good news for us shooters.
The ISO on the EOS C300 and EOS C100 (and the C500 which I’m afraid we don’t and will never stock) has now been extended from a maximum of ISO 20,000 to IOS 80,000. Canon claim this will allow you to shoot in even more extreme low light conditions whilst still capturing detail and colour. Users will now be able to shoot in 1 stop or 1/3 stop increments from ISO 320 through to ISO 80,000.
A big issue with the C300 and C100 was the fact that the magnify feature only allowed you to magnify the central portion. This has now thankfully been changed so you can choose between 25 different segments of the image in view (much like with the SLRs).
A new option allows users to lock all functions, including the REC button, when the Power switch is in Lock mode and great news – it will be possible to assign either ISO or IRIS control to the main body and hand grip dials on the C300.
The C300 also follows the C100 in having the option of wide DR gamma – this offers 12 stops of dynamic range when shooting in Canon Log gamma but produces a far less flat image which requires a lot less grading and post work.
Also in common with C100, the C300 will also offer support for the STM range of lenses with continuous AF and enhanced AE options.
The 1DC comes in for some improvements. On the visual side support for the EF Cinema lenses has been improved with Peripheral Illumination and Chromatic Aberration Correction functions designed to improve image quality. On the audio side, you will be able to take a Line feed into the jack mic input as you will be able to select between Line and Mic levels.
The firmware updates are going to be available towards the end of the year. Naturally as they become available, we will update our stock.
We've seen a huge rise in demand for Sony's E Mount and have committed to stocking the full range from not only Sony but Zeiss with their Touit lenses.
It's been a while since Sony launched a new E Mount lens so it's good to see a few come along at the same time (although really it's only two new lenses).
Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
First off is the new Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS. As its name suggests, the lens comes with Zeiss' T* coating reducing glare and ghosting plus it also has Sony's Optical Steadyshot. Those good at maths will have already worked out the focal range is 24-105mm in 35mm full-frame equivalent. Build wise, the barrel is metal so expect Zeiss levels of quality.
Finally we have a decent quality zoom lens with good constant aperture. This is the first E Mount zoom lens that photographers can take seriously. It also should be quite an interesting lens to bolt on the front of E Mount camcorders, especially with the Steadyshot.
E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS
Next up is the E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS. This is the first ever Sony G lens specifically created for the E Mount cameras and camcorders. The zoom range is pretty generous at 5.8x (27-157.5mm 35mm full-frame equivalent), all with a constant aperture of f/4. Whilst this is not a Zeiss lens, Sony's G range are very much their pro range so expect build quality to be good. It's worth noting that very usefully the overall lens length remains unchanged during focusing and zooming.
Speaking of zoom, the lens has a power-zoom function that is controllable either on the lens itself or in the case of camcorders with zoom control (like the EA50), on the camcorder itself. Last but by no means least, the lens also features Sony's excellent Optical Steadyshot.
E 50mm f/1.8
Last up is the E 50mm f/1.8. The sharp eyed reader amongst you will have spotted that this lens has been out for a while. Well yes it has in silver form. Sony has now decided to launch it in black!
But we don't mind as the two other lenses really are great news for both still and video E Mount users. We've already got them on order with Sony and are expecting delivery around the end of October.
We're hoping for yet more sun to come for the August Bank Holiday but even if it doesn't, we'll do our best to put a shine on things!!
As with previous years, we're offering our normal 3 days for the price of 2. Hire for the weekend and we'll throw in Monday 26th August for nothing. But that's not all - if you order by Wednesday 21st and we have the equipment in stock, we'll send it out early. That means you could have up to 5 days for the price of 2!!!
The earlier you book, the more chance you have of securing your kit!
* Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount or loyalty scheme. Minimum hire charge of £30, normal courier charges and deposits still apply.
Whilst we have always upgraded our delivery service to a pre-12pm level, having to wait around for collection all day has always proved an issue for customers and up to now, we have been powerless to solve this unless the customer was willing to take the packages to a depot.
No longer! UPS have introduced local Access Points that allow you to drop equipment off as and when you want. Most are open early and late so even if you work, you should still be able to drop back out-of-hours.
Available for either Fuji X or Sony E mounts, the new Zeiss Touit lenses are now with us. Initially available in 12mm f/2.8 and 32mm f/1.8 sizes, this range will be expanded further later this year and again next year.
As the new models arrive, rest assured we'll be one of the first companies to stock them!
When Canon announced the Live View AF feature in the Canon EOS 650, we got very excited. Had they really produced a DSLR that could rival a camcorder for Autofocus? Sadly the answer was no - it's a cracking camera but just don't expect its AF to work that quickly.
Today the new Canon EOS 70D has been announced and this time it appears that Canon might have cracked it.
So what's changed? The EOS 70D's new 20.2MP APS-C sensor now features Dual Pixel AF technology. Two photodiodes are mounted in one pixel, both of which can read independently to achieve AF or be used together for image capture. This Dual AF technology covers 80% of the sensor meaning exceptional AF and image quality can be achieved and very importantly it will work with a very large number of current EF and EF-S lenses. In essence what this all means is that autofocus is live view is hugely quicker than previously possible.
To handle the sensor's power, it has been combined with Canon's DIGIC 5 image processor which we know is very impressive and together they give the camera an ISO range of 100-28000 expandable to 25,600 equivalent.
It gets even better as the new 3in rear LCD is now touch sensitive, allowing touch AF in Live View for shooting stills or video. It's a Vari-angle screen, allowing tilting and swivelling.
Continuing on the AF theme, there is now a new dedicated AF area selection button next to the shutter release. This ties in with the 70D's intelligent viewfinder to allow focus modes to be changed without having to pull the camera away from the eye. AF modes can be toggled through using the top dial.
Burst rate is set at 7fps and Canon reckon that with a very fast SDHC card, the camera will take 16 RAW or 65 large JPEGS before it hits the buffer.
Movie frame rates at full 1080 HD include 24,25 and 30fps. 50 and 60p are available but only at 720. Videographers get a mic input but sadly no headphone monitor. We're still not quite sure if you can control mic gain yet and as it hasn't been mentioned yet, we're assuming the HDMI feed is not clean (we'll check this out as soon as we get our hands on it).
Wifi is built in allowing control using Canon's remote app.
The camera will be available towards the end of August - we have already put our order in! We've also ordered the 18-55mm STM and 18-135 STM lenses as well.
So everyone's question over what's going to replace the Sony PMW-EX3 is finally answered. Say hello to the PMW-300
It's very similar to the older camera in using 1/2" Exmor CMOS sensors but there's nothing wrong with that - the EX3 was always very good. Low light performance is said to have been improved.
The big (and most obvious) point here is the important 50Mb/s 422 broadcast codec (Sony promises the 10 bit XAVC codec will be available for the camera next year).
Mount wise, it's the same as the EX3 so you can use the same lenses and adaptors. The camera is available at launch with either a 14x or 16x zoom lens.
The design of the camera is quite different to the EX3 - no more upward slanting at the rear - the body is very much more rectangular. For shoulder mounting, there is an extendable shoulder pad that you can pull out.
The 3.5 inch LCD viewfinder is all new and to look at it looks very similar to the one of the PMW-F5.
Interface wise, the camera comes with both HD/SD-SDI and HDMI connections.
It is due towards the end of the year and we will get the camera up on our website once we have the full details.
Let's talk about the 17-70mm f2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM first. We've had its successor on our hire stock since 2010 and very popular it has been too as a general kit lens for APS-C camera users. This new lens was announced in 2012 at Photokina and is a completely new optical construction - not just a reskinned lens. Firstly you'll notice that both the weight and size of the lens have dropped. The outer casing is very stylish and gives off a feeling of good build quality. Closest focusing distance is 22cm. The silent HSM focusing motor works quickly and effectively. The optical stabilisation is great for producing sharp hand held shots and allows you a shutter speed around 4 stops lower.
Anyone looking at getting a quality general purpose zoom for their APS-C camera should have a look at this lens - great value for money.
This new lens caused a stir at Photokina 2012 due to its ability to plugged into an optional USB docking station allowing customisable AF speed, focus limiter and OS function. So what's different? The first thing you'll notice is the matte black casing which is now dust and splash resistant (something our customers have been shouting out for). Focussing in incredibly quick and is usually very accurate. If you want to make any adjustments manually, you will be pleased to find the manual ring is nicely damped.
Hand held shots are possible with the optical stablisation enabled, giving you roughly 4 stops advantage. However, it is still a heavy lens at around 3kgs so you do need to bear this in mind (a monopod would be a useful accessory).
Is it as sharp as Nikon or Canon's more expensive 300mm f2.8 fixed lenses. Nope. But the reality is that it isn't that far behind and for some, the flexibility of the focal range will make it an ideal choice.
So that's it - it's now officially available (although we can't get any idea of allocation as yet!). The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, to give it the its full name, has been around since last summer when pre-production units were used for the Olympics. Indeed we had one on our stand at the SWPP Convention in January.
What's it like? Quite heavy - if you're expecting it to be as light as a 400mm f2.8 Mk II, you'll be disappointed but then you do have to remember that this lens does have a 1.4x extender built in and it's got a variable focal length from 200mm to 400mm (600mm with the extender).
Here's Canon's official launch blurb
Get closer to the action with superior image quality The reach of the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x is boosted by its internal 1.4x extender, which is engaged or disengaged at the flick of a lever to provide an extended focal length of 280mm to 560mm – allowing photographers to get even closer to distant action. Ensuring the highest image performance, the optical design includes both fluorite and Ultra-low Dispersion (UD) lens elements, which help minimise chromatic aberration and eliminate colour blurring. Advanced anti-reflection SubWavelength Structure Coating (SWC) and Super Spectra Coating also reduce ghosting and flare. Thanks to the use of the latest optical technologies, image performance is unaffected when the integrated extender is used.
With a fixed f/4¹ aperture the use of high shutter speeds to capture fast-paced action or a low-light scene is possible. A newly designed optical Image Stabilizer, which provides users with a four stop advantage, while IS ‘Mode 3’ applies image stabilisation only at the time of exposure – ensuring that photographers can pan with fast-paced action without IS overcompensating for movement. This feature is ideal for sports photographers, who typically have only a split-second to capture a subject in front of them.
Powerful, flexible focusing The EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x features Canon’s pioneering ring-type Ultrasonic Motor providing fast, silent autofocusing. For those who prefer to fine-tune focus themselves, full-time manual override allows photographers to manually focus at any moment when using AF. The Power Focus (PF) mode also increases versatility during movie shooting with the EOS-1D C or EOS-1D X, enabling photographers to achieve an accurate pull-focus effect at one of two speeds, simply by twisting the focus recall ring and stopping at a pre-set distance.
High-performance design for professional demands Designed to answer professional demands for superior image quality and versatile zoom range, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x a boasts a premium-quality design befitting Canon’s industry-renowned L-series lenses.
The tough magnesium alloy chassis ensures that, despite the inclusion of the 1.4x extender, the lens is a similar weight to lenses of comparable focal length. Fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens elements also reduce the ability of dirt to cling to the lens surface, while a dust and water-resistant construction allows photographers to shoot in challenging weather conditions. The combination of outstanding optical performance, versatility, weight and tough construction will make it an essential part of any professional sports or wildlife photographer’s kitbag.
EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x key features: Built-in 1.4x extender, for extra magnification when you need it
Shoot in low light with four-stop Image Stabilizer
High image quality using Fluorite lens elements
Fast AF with USM technology
Robust design for use in the toughest environments¹ F5.6 aperture when the internal 1.4x extender is activated
Talking about the latest and greatest kit is all very well but it's easy to forget all about the basics so we've teamed up with our friend Den Lennie from The F-Stop Academy to bring to you a number of videos stripping things down to the very basics.
The first of these is all about recording sound on D-SLR's. We find people are always picking the very best cameras and lenses they can afford, only at the cost of recording good sound - madness really as you forget sound at your own peril.
Getting good sound need not be hard or expensive. What we have tried to do in the following two videos is show you how easy it can be.
Over the last few weeks, touring the Photography shows and workshops, one lens has come up quite a lot in conversations - the Zeiss Distagon T* 1,4/55 which is due to be launched late this year in both Canon and Nikon mounts.
The lens is the first member of a new high-end family of SLR lenses which will offer uncompromising image quality. It will be perfect for high-resolution, full frame digital cameras such as the current Nikon D800 (and of course anything that Canon choose to launch at some point!). The combination should produce results approaching that of medium format systems.
So how much better will it be compared to a decent existing 50mm prime? Well, we'd advise you watch this video and see the results for yourself!
We'll be stocking the lenses from launch, initially in ZF.2 mount. ZE mount will follow dependant on launch of a hi-res Canon D-SLR.
So it's finally official - we can reveal that Zeiss' new range of lenses for initially Fuji X Mount and Sony E Mount are to be called Touit.
Already it would seem discussions are forming as to the marketing validity of the new name which is a shame because surely it's the lenses we should be worrying about!!!
So to the first two focal lengths that will be available in May - the Touit 2.8/12 and 1.8/32. The first thing people will notice is that are not made entirely of metal. Zeiss decided that for this range of lenses, where parts did not require metal for accuracy, solidity and durability, plastic was to be used in an effort to keep the weight down. Whilst not mentioned in their names, these lenses feature Zeiss' T* anti-reflective coating on all surfaces.
The Touit 2.8/12 is bound to become popular due to its wide angle. This is giving you a 35mm equivalent of 18mm with APS-C sensored Fuji and Sony cameras. Fuji already have a 14mm f2.8 but nothing as wide as this (they do have a 10-24mm f4 OIS in their roadmap for later this year). Sony already have a 10-18mm with OIS but this is an f4 (it's actually a very good lens and brilliant for video work on the FS100/FS700, especially for Steadicam work).
We're really looking forward to also getting our hands on the Touit 1.8/32. Do the maths and you'll have already worked out that this makes a whisper away from being a 50mm in 35mm equivalent. Zeiss say it has been optimised for APS-C format sensors - combined with something like the Fuji X-Pro 1, it really should produce some stunning shots.
Still to come in around November is a Touit 2.8/50 makro. We've ordered 3 sets of each mount and will have the lenses in stock from launch. Details will be up on the website as soon as we're allowed which will be after the launch on 15th May.
Looks like we'll be getting a sneaky play with them next week as Zeiss are coming to see us so we'll let you know what we think of them - can't wait!