Neptune Photo Newsletter
February 2018 Volume 73
by Steve Zimic
Nikon 180-400 F4 VR with 1.4x
Just in time for the winter Olympics, Nikon has announced this impressive and somewhat heavy lens with a built in 1.4x teleconverter. Actually the 14 inch length and 7 1/2 pounds is not that bad considering its constant F4.0 aperture plus built in switchable teleconverter. By the time you add a pro model camera though, you're looking at around 10 pounds, which is a bit much for the casual photographer to lug around for a day. Still, that weight and size is doable for hand held shooting of short bursts, especially with the VR feature. There's a clever A/M and M/A switch that allows for instant or delayed manual focus override. The new tripod collar has ball bearings incorporated for consistently smooth operation under all shooting conditions. As you might imagine the tech specs on this lens are equally impressive, and should be, in light of the $12,400 price tag. No doubt there'll be plenty of these available for Olympic photographers, but the general public will have to wait until March to see them on shelves. You can find all the specifics on the Nikon website.
Fuji has announced its latest X series camera, now with phase detect AF. Combined with a new processor you'll see a very noticeable increase in processing, start up and AF speed. They've also added 4K video albeit at a paltry 15 fps. However stepping down to HD video (1080p) you'll be able to record at up to 60 fps. The flip up screen goes to full vertical so selfies will not be a problem. ISO is bumped up a full stop from the older X-A3 model, to a maximum of 12,800. Also new is Fuji's first power zoom with an equivalent focal length of 22.5 - 68mm.
Perhaps what's most attractive about these two new products is that the suggested retail is only $599 for both camera and lens. Surely a great little camera which will undoubtedly compete with entry level DSLRs. Available in brown, black or red trim. More details on Fuji's website.
Leica 90mm and 75mm F2.0
Leica has added two prime lenses to their full frame lens arsenal. The 75 and the 90 have identical dimensions of a little under 3" in diameter and 4" in length and weigh in at approximately 1.6 pounds. Both lenses will work on their cropped sensor cameras with no adapter. Leica claims incredible sharpness and contrast even wide open and considering their history of suberb optics, I've no reason to doubt them. You can preorder them now and expect availability sometime this month. Pricing as you might expect is a bit steep at $4750 for the 75mm and $5150 for the 90mm. There's also a 35mm and 50mm f2.0 coming in the middle of this year. More info on the Leica website.
Stimulate your Creativity
Rather than braving the elements during these cold winter months, you may want to take a look at some of your summer images and apply some creative filtering . Topaz Labs offers many plug-ins that work with Photoshop and Lightroom or within the free Topaz Labs PhotoFXlab. One of my favorites is Glow, which is what I used on the image below. This particular filter is reminiscent of a PC only program called Fractalius, although the Topaz version is much easier, more versatile and available for PC and Mac. There's also a free Topaz Studio program which comes with a basic version of the Impression filter - very cool. The offerings from Topaz are a good way to keep your photographic juices flowing at this time of year.
Nikon D850 - version 1.01 - Addresses a few minor bugs and corrects a problem with increased noise and a greenish cast when using long exposure noise reduction.
Sony a9 - version 2.0 - Enhances the CAF performance when zooming and for moving subjects. Delivers a more accurate overheat warning plus a few added features.