Neptune Photo Newsletter
June 2017 Volume 65
by Steve Zimic
Sony 16-35mm f2.8 G Master
Sony's really storming ahead with lenses for their mirrorless full frame cameras. Other than a fixed focal length super tele lens, this super wide fast zoom should pretty much complete the lineup for anyone waiting to jump into the system. The Master series is Sony's pro line of lenses and the specs for this lens definitely support that. There are 5 aspherical elements, 2 ED elements, nano anti-reflective coating and fluorine coating on the outer front element for dust and finger print resistance. Of course for most of us that are not optical engineers that means nothing. Typically though, all these high tech elements should provide ultra sharp and contrasty images, edge to edge, even wide open. Sony is confident that the dual focusing motors will assure focusing that's quiet enough to be used for video. The lens is weather resistant and comes with a removable hood. Somehow Sony has managed to keep the weight down to 1.5 pounds which is rather light compared to similarly spec'd lenses from competitors. Thankfully the lens does have an 82mm filter thread - the largest size for which a decent selection exists. Unfortunately you won't see the lens available until September. Regardless of the long wait, it's nice to see that Sony is fully committed to this system. Price is estimated at $2200 US. More details can be found on Sony's website.
Sony 12-24mm f4 G
This is a seriously wide lens that landscape and interior photographers will love. Only Canon beats it with their 11-24mm lens but that lens is almost double the weight and considerably more expensive. This lens weighs in at a mere 1.25 pounds despite the fact that Sony states aluminum construction, so I'm not sure how they managed it. Spec wise, I'm surprised it doesn't wear the Master badge - perhaps that's reserved for their f2.8 lenses. The internal focusing is performed by a 'Direct Drive Supersonic Motor', which will no doubt be fast but perhaps not as quiet as the dual motors in the 16-35 above. Like the 16-35 you get plenty of high tech optical elements - 4 aspheric and 3 ED with nano anti-reflective coating, which sounds like plenty to give excellent results. The lens is too wide to allow the use of filters, but it's nice to know that Sony has incorporated the fluorine coating on the front element to reduce finger prints and smudges. My personal experience with fluorine coating is that it works really well. With regard to filters, I'm sure at some point there will be a filter system designed to slip over the permanently attached hood. The adventurous landscape photographer will be happy to know that the lens is dust and moisture resistant. At an MSRP of $1700 I imagine this lens will probably be the better seller of the two, so it's nice to know that it will be released a bit earlier than the 16-35, in August. More info can be found on the Sony website.
Nikon adds a trio of wide angle lenses
It looks like this is the month for wide angle lenses. First up is the 8-15mm f3.5-4.5 full frame fisheye. At 8mm you'll get a full circular image with 180º angle of view, while at 15mm you'll be able to fill the frame. You'll have to be careful not to get your fingers in the way with this one. Fluorine coating is used on the front element to keep it clean, which is great since you'll not be able to use filters. Fisheye lenses are wide angle lenses that do not have the distortion correction designed into them like standard rectilinear wide angle lenses. Unlike the stretched and often soft corners of standard wide angle lenses, fisheye lenses bow the corners inward hence vertical lines are significantly curved. However, if you shoot a landscape with the camera perfectly level you'd be surprised how natural the scene looks with very little distortion. The lens weighs in at a hefty 17.2 ounces, comes with the detachable HB-80 lens hood, front and rear caps and a soft case. Availability should be within a few days at $1249. More info on Nikon's website.
Next is the 10-20 f4.5-5.6G DX VR ultra wide lens which is designed for cameras with the APS-C size sensor, hence the DX designation. Unlike the fisheye, it's a rectilinear lens so you won't have any bowing of straight lines like the fisheye. This is an ideal landscape lens especially if you're a hiker since the lens weighs in at a mere 8.2 ounces. Nikon reports that the focusing is ultra quiet so it'll work well for video as well as still imaging. Filter size is 72mm and the lens comes with a detachable hood, caps and soft case. You should see the lens available by the end of June for a mere $309.95. Now that's a bargain. Check out more details on the Nikon website.
Last up is the ultra fast 28mm f1.4 FX full frame lens. If you're looking for the ultimate image quality this is the way to go. All the major bullet points for a pro lens are covered here, like nano crystal coating, a 9 bladed aperture for smooth bokeh, weather resistant design, multiple aspheric and ED elements, a distance scale for manual focusing and fluorine coating on the front element. Filter size is 77mm and the lens weighs in at 22.8 ounces. This lens also should be available by the end of June at $1999. More specs on Nikon's site.
Fuji X-T2 - Version 2.1 - Adds wireless tethered shooting. Additional cost plugins for Lightroom are needed or use the free Fuji software.
GFX-50S - Version 1.1 - Adds wireless tethered shooting. Additional cost plugins for Lightroom are needed or use the free Fuji software.
Fuji X-Pro2 - Version 3.1 - Extends the brightness range of the EVF, plus programmable function control when pressing the rear command dial.
Fuji X-T1 - Version 5.2 - Allows the saving of camera settings to a PC.
Fuji X-100F - Version 1.01 - Bug fixes related to ISO control and manual focus.