30 January 2013

New v1.2.1 firmware for the Canon EOS-1D X

Canon today published a firmware update for its flagship EOS-1D X camera.

From the release notes, firmware version 1.2.1 incorporates the following improvements and fixes:
  • The function to disable the Image size selection button has been added.
    • Please see the instruction manual "EOS-1D X Firmware Version 1.2.x Additional Function" (PDF file) included in the downloaded firmware 1.2.1 folder for information on how to intentionally disable this button, after the firmware update 1.2.1 has been installed in the camera.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which Err 70 and Err 80 may occur during certain shooting conditions.

Please note that the firmware update takes approximately seven minutes!

You can download the firmware update from the Canon website.

29 January 2013

Sigma announces new 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM lens

Lots of (lens) news today: Sigma just announced a new 30mm f/1.4 lens.

The new Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM is a lens specifically designed for APS-C (crop) sensor DSLRs and will be made available with a Sigma, Canon, or Nikon mount.

New firmware for the Nikon D4 (A:1.04/B:1.02)

Today Nikon released a firmware update for their D4 flagship DSLR camera. This new firmware offers an improvement to the autofocus tracking capabilities of the camera.

From the release notes:
  • Subject tracking performance in AF-C (continuous-servo autofocus) autofocus mode with framing using the viewfinder has been improved.

As always, you can download the new A:1.04/B:1.02 firmware from the Nikon support sites: EU / USA

New Nikkor lenses: 800mm/5.6 and 18-35/3.5-4.5

Nikon just announced two new lenses. The long awaited AF-S Nikkor 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR super tele and an all new AF-S Nikkor 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 wide angle zoom. These new lenses can be used on both FX (full frame) and DX (crop) camera bodies.

AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR

This is currently the longest lens in the NIKKOR lineup and delivers 800mm of full-frame super-telephoto power with a large maximum aperture of f/5.6 (1200mm equivalent on a DX body). If that isn't enough reach for you, Nikon also includes a specially designed TC800-1.25E ED teleconverter with this lens, giving you a whopping 1000mm (1500mm equivalent on a DX body) without losing too much light.

Even with the long reach, Nikon has been able to keep the weight down: the new lens only weighs 4590 gram and is much lighter than the 600mm/4!
Lens and TC comes at a hefty price: $17,899.95/€17,129.00 (suggested retail prices) and will be available beginning of April.

Personal note: I, personally, do not see the benefit of a 800/5.6 as compared to a 600mm/4; coupled with a 1.4 teleconverter that lens gives you about the same reach with more flexibility and at a much lower price (half). So I'm not sure what the exact market for this type of lens is…

AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

The AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED is a new wide angle zoom option in the Nikon line-up. With a 18-35mm (27-52.5mm on DX), it offers a much used focal range at a relatively big maximum aperture (varying between f/3.5 and f/4.5). If you don't already own a quality (zoom) lens in this range, or want to improve on your current lens, this new option may be just right for you.

Suggested retail price: $749.95

20 January 2013

Nikon ViewNX 2.7.1 update

Nikon has released version 2.7.1 of its ViewNX2 all-in-one image browsing and editing application. Amongst others, this new version adds support for the Nikon D5200, and Nikon 1 S1 and J3 cameras. Here's the full list of changes and fixes:

Windows and Mac version
  • Support for the Nikon 1 J3, Nikon 1 S1, COOLPIX S2700, COOLPIX S2750 and COOLPIX S6500 has been added.
  • The following issues with movies recorded using the Nikon 1 J3 with White balance set to Underwater have been resolved:
    • Thumbnails for movies transferred with Nikon Transfer 2 using a card reader were not displayed in the thumbnail list area.
    • When "Metadata" is selected from the Edit palette, information other than that in File Info 1 is not displayed.
  • The AF Noise Reduction function, which reduces noise produced by auto focusing during movie recording and picked by the built-in microphone, has been added for the following devices:
    • Camera: The D3200 (released in May 2012), and later digital-SLR cameras.
    • Lens: AF-S NIKKOR and AF-I NIKKOR lenses, and AF-S/AF-I teleconverters (AF-S/AF-I lenses are required).
  • When the white balance of RAW images captured with the P7700 was adjusted using Use Gray Point, the specified point did not turn gray. This issue has been resolved.
Windows version
  • Support for the 64bit- and 32bit- versions of Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise has been added.
  • When a large number of images were transferred with Nikon Transfer 2 using a card reader, Nikon Transfer 2 quit unexpectedly on rare occasions. This issue has been resolved.
Mac version
  • Support for IEEE 1394 connection for the D1, D1H, and D1X has been eliminated.
  • The following issues with combined use of Mac OS X version 10.6 and Nikon Transfer 2 have been resolved:
    • When the camera and computer are connected and the camera is turned off after Nikon Transfer 2 is launched, Nikon Transfer 2 quits unexpectedly on rare occasions.
    • When a large number of images on a memory card are transferred using a card reader, the transfer is terminated unexpectedly on rare occasions.

You can download the new version from the Nikon support sites:

17 January 2013

Adobe updates Photoshop CS6 to 13.0.4/13.1.2

Adobe just released Photoshop update version 13.0.4 (normal license) and version 13.1.2 (for Creative Cloud subscribers). The updates are for both the Mac and Windows version.

The updates resolve the following licensing issue:
  • Trial screen displays when you open Photoshop CS6 – When you open a copy of Photoshop CS6 that you purchased, a notice displays that you can try this product for 30 days.

10 January 2013

New Nikon 1 series cameras and lenses

Nikon is seriously expanding their Nikon 1 system line (perhaps not surprising as the Nikon 1 system is top seller in mirrorless system cameras). They just announced two new cameras and lenses as well as a new waterproof housing for the system.

Of the two new cameras the Nikon 1 J3 is the more advanced and boasts 14.2 effective mega pixels and a 920,000 pixel LCD screen. The new S1, on the other hand “only” has 10.1 mega pixels (effective) and a lower resolution LCD screen. Both cameras shoot 12-bit raw (compressed) and are compatible with Nikon 1 lenses.

Apart from lower weight and higher pixel count (14.2 instead of 10.1), an interesting improvement of the J3 over the J2 is the much faster shooting rate: 15fps with autofocus (!) at full resolution (30 and 60 FPS are available too, but then focus is locked on the first frame). Moreover, this same ultra fast frame rate is also available on the new S1!

Two new lenses also saw the light: the 1 NIKKOR 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6 VR all in one zoom lens and the 1 NIKKOR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 VR wide angle zoom lens. Both these lenses have Vibration Reduction built in, allowing for steady shots, even at slower shutter speeds.

To top off the system, Nikon also introduces a new underwater housing for the J3 and S1. This WP-N2 Waterproof Housing, just like the WP-N1 for the J1 and J2 allows you to go as deep as 40 meters (130 feet).

Suggested Retail Prices:
  • Nikon 1 J3 with 10-30mm lens: $599.95 (available in White, Black, Silver, Red, and Beige)
  • Nikon 1 S1 with 11-27mm lens: $499.95 (available in White, Black, Red, Pink, and Khaki)
  • 1 NIKKOR 10-100 f/4.0-5.6 VR: $549.95 (available in White, Black, Silver, Red, and Beige)
  • 1 NIKKOR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 VR: $499.95 (available in Black and Silver)
  • WP-N2 Waterproof Housing: $732.96 (available in White)
Availability of these products should be somewhere next month.

9 January 2013

Lexar enters the XQD arena

It was already announced a while back, but we finally have another choice for our XQD cards: Lexar has them available now too.

The two new Lexar XQD memory cards come in 32GB and 64GB capacity. Good to hear is that they are extremely fast. With a minimum guaranteed read transfer speed of 1100x (168 MB/s), they match that of the fastest Sony XQD cards (their S-series which I haven't yet been able to spot “in the wild” though). Write speed is lower, of course, but still MUCH faster than any non-XQD card around.  In fact, read performance is even faster than is theoretically possible with Compact Flash, let alone SD!

With no other camera than the Nikon D4 to make use of these super fast cards, it remains to be seen whether or not the XQD standard will survive. But boy, are these cards fast: in my D4 I can continue to shoot full res 14-bit raw files at 3.5-4 frames/sec after the buffer (already a whopping 75 images, good for 7.5 seconds at top speed) is filled up. And this with a previous generation Sony (125MB/s) XQD card…

Together with the cards, Lexar also developed a USB 3.0 XQD card-reader, allow for super fast data transfers between card and computer.

The cards have an MSRP of $299.99 (32GB) and $579.99 (64GB), the XQD USB 3.0 card reader will have an MSRP of $44.99. With these prices, they actually look cheaper than Sony's own offerings!

8 January 2013

New Sigma Lenses: 17-70/2.8-4 DC and 120-300/2.8 OS

Sigma just announced two exciting new lenses in their line-up. Both lenses are upgrades to previous versions of the same lenses.

The new 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM, like its predecessor, is a “full frame” super telephoto zoom lens with a focal length range of 120-300mm with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the whole range. It is Optically Stabilised (VR and IS in respectively Nikon and Canon speak) and has a Hyper Sonic Motor for fast auto-focussing.

The 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM is available with either a Sigma, Nikon, or Canon mount.

While I don't own one, I know the previous 120-300 lens to be a great lens, optically, and it looks like Sigma has improved this quality even further. This would make this lens a great buy for all sports/wildlife shooters looking for range and flexibility. The wide max aperture makes it a great (and cheaper) alternative to the Nikon 200-400/4 (and the Canon 200-400 when that lens finally ships).

The new 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM / DC MACRO HSM lens is a DC lens, specifically designed for APS-C crop DSLR bodies. Giving you a roughly 25.5 to 105mm zoom range when compared to a 35mm “full frame” camera. It is a variable aperture lens, meaning that the maximum aperture varies between f/2.8 (at the 17mm end) and f/4 (at the 70mm end). Like the 120-300, this lens too boasts both Optical Stabilisation (not for the Sony and Pentax versions!) and a Hyper Sonic Motor.

The 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM / DC MACRO HSM is available with a Sigma, Sony, Pentax, Nikon, or Canon mount.

Both lenses are compatible with the (also new) Sigma USB Dock which allows the user to install lens firmware updates as well as perform some customisations (including the focus setting).