Neptune Photo Newsletteri
April 2018 Volume 75
by Steve Zimic
Is the DSLR dead?
Well not exactly but the trend is moving in that direction. Sales of DSLR cameras have dropped by almost 50% since 2012, while mirrorless cameras have held their own and even improved a bit over the last year. Smartphones with their ever increasing image quality have replaced the dedicated camera for many folks, but those still wishing to have an interchangeable lens camera are leaning more and more to the mirrorless variety. Having switched to mirrorless myself about 5 years ago, I certainly saw this coming, but didn't think it would happen this fast. Just recently both Nikon and Canon have announced that they're close to releasing their full frame mirrorless cameras, and Canon already has them being field tested. Even Tamron has announced recently that they're working on full frame mirrorless lenses. Perhaps in the future, DSLRs will be good for nothing more than this camera robot made with some badly damaged equipment by an employee of Canon Canada. You can read more about the mirrorless trend on Petapixel here.
Long Live the Camera
The title of this article is a wish I have that will probably not come true. Some day smart phones will rule when it comes to photography - actually they already do when it comes to the number of pictures taken - and the dedicated digital camera will be a relic on a thrift store shelf. Don't get me wrong here, I think smart phones have become a way of life in more ways than one can count. Most people that have them would say they're indispensable - myself included. Personally though I find using my phone for either still or video imaging rather awkward, while shooting with my camera feels right at home and I have no trouble carrying it with me wherever I go. Considering the target of this newsletter, I imagine most of you would agree with that. If you're an owner of one of the latest smart phones however, I'll bet you're mightily impressed with the imaging and processing power that you can carry in your pocket. The latest phones have become so powerful when it comes to imaging that hundreds, if not thousands of cottage industries are making accessories that rival those made for dedicated cameras, most of which you can put in your pocket or a small pouch. You've got wide angle and telephoto lenses, stereo lenses, tripod adapters, filter adapters, steady cam units to name just a few. One company, NISI, recently introduced a small graduated filter kit that is fully adjustable for only $39.95 - I never saw that one coming. So if you like using your phone sometimes over your dedicated camera and can think of an accessory you'd like to have, just Google it. I can almost guarantee that if you've thought of it, someone's already made it. And if not, perhaps you should start a kick-starter campaign and make some serious money, or at least a chance to.
Sigma 105mm f1.4 Art lens
Years ago Sigma made mostly inexpensive lenses that could save you a lot of bucks over those from your camera company. They were pretty decent lenses with good optical quality but mechanically not very robust. Over the last several years this company has transformed itself into a leader by producing excellent lenses both in optical quality and robustness. This new lens is a prime example of what I'm talking about. This is the latest in a series of what Sigma has termed an Art Lens, claiming exceptional performance at full aperture with silky smooth bokeh. This beast of a lens weighs in at over 3 pounds and has a removable Arca Swiss compatible tripod collar. Compatible mounts will be Sigma, Canon, Nikon and Sony E. No announcement of pricing or availability, but in order to compete with the Nikon version I expect pricing will be in the sub $2000 range . Check it out on the Sigma website.
Tamron 70-210 f4.0 Di VC
Tamron has long been the leader of quality lenses in the after market field, and this lens looks to keep that tradition going. Specs indicate it will have excellent performance at all focal lengths, even wide open. This full frame lens has internal zooming and focusing so there will be no change in length during usage. Features include Fluorine coating, dust and weather sealing, vibration control (image stabilization), fast and quiet ultrasonic ring type focusing and dual micro processors to control focusing and image stabilization independently. The lens also has a maximum magnification of 1:3.1 for macro work. Looking at the MTF charts I expect the reviews of this lens to be nothing short of stellar. Availability will be some time this month for both Canon and Nikon mounts at a price of $800, which includes the lens hood and six year USA warranty. An optional Arca Swiss style rotating tripod mount is available, although no price has been announced yet. More info on the Tamron website.
Fuji GFX-50S - version 3.0 - Adds focus bracketing and the ability to shoot in 35mm format.