Neptune Photo Newsletter
February 2019 Volume 85
by Steve Zimic
Sony A6400 I remember when Sony bought the rights to use the Minolta AF SLR mount and camera technology many years ago. I figured that would make the small number of Minolta users happy that their system would remain viable, but that was all it would do. Boy was I wrong. Along with the plethora of amazing Sony mirrorless cameras available, they have undoubtedly become the leader in the camera industry. This new APS-C A6400 is a prime example. Priced at only $900 it’s $100 cheaper than the initial price of the A6300 that it replaces, and uses the same AF technology and processor as the highly acclaimed $4500 A9. 425 phase detect and 425 contrast detect AF points cover 84% of the frame for unparalleled AF performance for a camera in this price range. There’s eye detect AF, and later this year Sony will be adding animal eye detect AF via a firmware update. Sony claims the AF acquisition time is as little as 0.02 seconds - that really is virtually instantaneous. The camera should be available later this month. More details can be found on Sony’s website.
After much rumor and speculation, Olympus has finally announced their latest Pro camera, and a beast of a camera it is, along with the beastly price of $3000. Unfortunately there’s no change in image quality compared to the E-M1MKII, and you’ll get the same 121 AF points too. There’s no optional grip since the camera now houses two batteries (supplied) in a tray. The camera is about 20% larger than the MKII and adds 3.5 oz. of more weight. You will get a host of new features and performance enhancements, starting with dual quad core processors that yield twice the speed of the MKII. The IBIS is now rated at 7 stops of improvement and 7.5 stops with the image stabilized 12-100mm lens. There are built in ND filters of 2,4,8,16 and 32 stops with a live preview of the effect. The 50 mega pixel high res feature is now hand holdable with a maximum shutter speed of 1/60 sec. AF tracking now has 3 pre-selectable subject modes of planes, trains and automobiles using AI. Weather sealing is improved and the shutter is rated to 400K cycles. A barometer, thermometer and GPS are built into the camera. Dual 8 way joysticks have been added for easier focus point selection. Radio controlled flash will be added down the road, along with WIFI tethering. Connection for image transfer and charging is via USB-C 3.0. There doesn’t appear to be a separate battery charger included, however an optional AC adapter will both power the camera and charge the batteries. Both SD card slots now support UHS-II cards. Olympus claims major improvements to AF speed and accuracy especially when using CAF. Warranty - 1 year + 2 year extended included.
So what you’re getting here is probably the most durable, customizable and feature laden pro camera on the market. The big question is, despite all the features and improvements, how many people are willing to spend that kind of money for a camera with only 20MP and 12 bit raw files. As an Olympus user myself, I can attest to the huge benefit of the smaller and lighter lenses needed for wildlife photography and many pros have discovered this as well. I believe those pros are the target of this new camera, but are there enough of them to make this camera a success? More info on the Olympus website.
Nikon 14-30mm f4.0 Z mount
Nikon has announced the first wide angle zoom for its mirrorless Z cameras, to be made available this spring. It boasts some impressive specs such as 4 ED and aspheric elements, nano crystal coating, and fluorine coating on the front and rear elements. The stepping motor auto focus will deliver smooth and quiet focusing with little to no focus breathing - great for video. Dust and moisture resistance are included. What’s rather unique though for this focal length range is the ability to attach filters, albeit at 82mm. The lens is only 3.5” long when retracted and weighs in at a mere 17 ounces. Pairing this lens with either the diminutive Z6 or Z7, would I imagine be very attractive to the backpacking landscape photographer, or anyone else for that matter that’s looking for superb quality in a small light package. The large diameter Z mount, coupled with the close proximity of the lens to the imaging area has allowed Nikon to produce lenses with unparalleled quality, surpassing comparable DSLR lenses. Based on the samples I’ve seen, this lens delivers amazing detail and contrast right out to the edges. When available you’ll be able to purchase this lens for $1299. In the meantime, check out the specs on Nikon’s website.
Sigma has announced a host of firmware updates for Nikon and Canon mount lenses. The lenses are too numerous to list, but the firmware addresses various issues such as mirrorless compatibility, chromatic aberration correction, focusing improvements and various bug fixes. Use the Sigma lens dock and supplied software to update your lenses.
Hasselblad X1D-50C - version 1.2 - Adds improved auto focus and support for the following lenses and converter, XCD 65mm F2.8, XCD 80mm F1.9, XCD 135mm F2.8, H 1.7x Converter.