These past 10 days have rung in the presentation of models for the giving season. First, we heard about third party lenses by Viltrox, and then three big names presented new lens and camera models, with a fourth big name rumoured for this coming week.
Viltrox will be releasing three autofocus lenses for Fujifilm X-mount, Sony E-mount, and Leica M-mount – a 23mm f/1.4, 33mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4, all of them with nine aperture blades, 52mm filter thread, and weighing between 250 and 300 grams. A well-confirmed rumour at this point, the lenses may become available in November.
Then Panasonic announced a few lenses for both L mount and Micro Four Thirds, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm f/2.8 for L-mount (18 elements in 16 groups with one ultra-high refractive (UHD), 3 aspherical, and 4 extra-low dispersion (ED) elements). To be available in mid-October, this lens will be $2200.
The Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 II ASPH, identical in optical formula to its predecessor, brings weathersealing as a new feature.
Panasonic’s video-capable MILC
Panasonic last week brought back the anti-aliasing filter for the S1H, a 6K video-centric camera suspected to be based around the same 24 megapixel sensor as the S1. It has various recording modes, including 6K/24p (3:2 aspect ratio), 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio), and 10-bit 60p 4K/C4, and Panasonic is working with Atomos to develop a RAW video workflow for the S1H.
The S1H is also claimed to reproduce over 14 stops of dynamic range. Panasonic rates its IBIS at 6.5 stops equivalent with any dual IS compatible lens. The body is actively cooled with fans sitting between the sensor and rear display, so is even bulkier than the previously released Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras. Panasonic describes it as splash and dust resistant. For those surely obsessively asking – yes, it does have two card slots. It will be available in late September for $4000.
Of the two lenses to be available in “late September”, the RF 15-35 has 16 elements in 12 groups, with 3 aspherical and 2 ultra-low dispersion (UD), and 9 blades, and the 24-70/2.8 has 21 (!) elements in 15 groups, with 3 aspherical and 3 UD, also with 9 aperture blades. Both have nano ultrasonic motors, internal focusing and promise 5 stops of image stabilisation. Initially, they will each cost $2300.
The Canon EOS 90D and M6 II were released pretty much as previously announced, along with a few lenses for the Canon EOS R and RP, the RF 15-35/2.8 and RF 24-70mm f/2.8. Both are marketed as L-series lenses. They are heavy (around 900g), bulky and image stabilised. The only positive impression came from the 70-200/2.8, for which a mock-up was shown but no specs released. It seems to be on the small side for its focal length; it remains to be seen whether it will use Fresnel optics.
Sony was up next, releasing two new lenses for APS-C E-mount – a 16-55mm f/2.8 and 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3, both of them weather-sealed. The standard zoom weighs 494 grams and consists of 17 elements in 12 groups with nine blades and a filter thread of 67mm. Maximum magnification is 1:5 at a working distance of 33cm. It will be available in November for $1400 (or about ten times what an equivalent used DSLR lens would cost).
The 70-350mm lens weighs 625 grams, is stabilised, with 19 elements in 13 groups, seven blades and also a 67mm filter thread. Its minimum working distance is 110cm, and it will be available from November for $1000 (or three times what an equivalent DSLR lens would cost new).
Sony has also launched the A6100 and A6600, both APS-C cameras, with the main distinction of the A6600 being the inclusion of IBIS and the price tag, both of which also differentiate the A6600 from the recently released A6400.
Many have described the A6100 as a specced-down, priced-to-sell version of the A6400. It lacks picture profiles, has a lower resolution viewfinder (1.4 million vs. 2.4 million dots), and is less sensitive at its peak sensitivity (ISO 51,200 vs. 102,400). Its market entry price will be $750 vs. the A6400’s street price of $1000. However, in my experience, this is the sort of camera that, once bought, doesn’t see much use.
All of the mentioned Sony cameras feature 11fps continuous shooting, and according to figures presented by Kai Wong, the A6600 can keep this up for 46 compressed RAW images, or just over 4 seconds. On that note, the A6600 also has a bigger battery than predecessors, allowing longer shooting or recording. Like the A6400, the A6600 has “real time tracking autofocus” and features in-body image stabilisation of apparently hitherto unknown efficacy (meh). Aside from the considerable price tag (I refer you to my older, but surprisingly current article on price of entry for in-body image stabilisation), it has been admonished for lack of dual card slots (do come back for my upcoming article on this topic), lack of 4k/60p video, its pedestrian electronic viewfinder and display, and/or absence of built-in flash. Some were also disappointed that the camera has the same low resolution sensor as before – apparently some were expecting an upgrade to 26 or even 30 megapixels – and no improved low light performance (according to the commentators).
My personal main gripe was that I found researching the minute differences between these various models to be confusing and time-consuming, and I suspect that this will be their downfall in terms of sales.
Samyang has announced a full frame compatible 18mm f/2.8 autofocus lens for Sony E mount. It weighs 145g and has a 100° field of view on full frame. With 9 elements in 8 groups, 58mm filter threads, 7 aperture blades and a close focus capability of 0.09, it will be priced $399, with a shipping date yet to be announced (but pre-oders are open).
Also announced last week was that Olympus bought back a 5% stake Sony had in the company, ending Sony’s part-ownership of Olympus. However, joint business ventures between the two companies continue. Most commentators accepted that Sony had merely invested originally to keep its sensor sales customer adrift in the wake (excuse the pun) of Olympus’ financial scandal, and that Olympus buying back the stake was a good sign in terms of financial health. Others said that Sony might have seen diminishing returns from its knowledge sharing with Olympus that was set up as part of Sony’s period of investment, and might have seen this as a good moment to get out. Some implied that the nature of the relationship might have been slightly exploitative on the part of Sony. Still others commented that this was Sony wanting to get out because things weren’t going well at Olympus, and with Sony anticipating a decline in value of the Olympus shares. Based on images I have seen taken with it, I believe that the EM1X is a remarkable camera. It is too early to conclusively predict if it will find its following, but while it is priced into a certain, higher market segment, being a remarkable camera is not necessarily a bad thing in a down market.
There’s also a lot of talk about Nikon. Not only will five DSLR lines reportedly be killed from Nikon’s line-up, suspected to be the D3x00, D5x00, D500 and D6x0 lines. If the report is accurate, that leaves either the D8x0 or D7x0 to also see the axe, unless the Df is also still counted, in which case, that is the most likely candidate.
The Nikon D6, by contrast, is rumoured to be announced this week, and is believed to feature in body image stabilisation, making Nikon the last but three producer of digital interchangeable lens cameras (Canon, Leica and Sigma have not shown IBIS models yet) to fully embrace the technology, the first Nikon models featuring it of course being the Z6 and Z7.