[Gear] The Most Exciting Gear Week in a While

Even more so than the week of the Nikon D4, this is the most exciting week for gear news in a long time. There is news that I don't like, a bit that I don't get, some that is just plain stupid, and then some that is unbelievable -- I'll believe it when I see it! The new stuff is short and sweet. I'm keeping the bulk of opinions in the comments section this time...meet me there at the end of this post!

The Awesome...

Nikon D800/D800E:

We've covered this one here, but if you somehow missed it, yes, it came out! 36MP for less than $3000 -- pretty darn amazing. It's a game-changer for sure.

Pre-Order the D800 or the D800E at B&H.

Canon Lenses:

We've covered this, too, already. But Canon released a new 24-70mm 2.8 lens this week. It's awesome in that it has the best coatings, is a little lighter in weight...and costs quite a bit more? Oh wait, no -- that last one is why a lot of people are sticking with version 1. Still, the best of the best comes at a price, and this is it.

We also have new 28mm f2.8 and 24mm f2.8 lenses, both IS, and both around or just over $800. Canon is targeting video shooters with this line-up, of course.

Olympus OM-D EM-5:

Say that one three times fast. Actually not as hard as I imagined... But yes, Olympus has a new mirrorless camera, the OM-D EM-5. This one is a little special, for some. I don't know if I'd call it sexy (people like to use that word in relation to how beautiful a camera is these days, though I usually reserve the term in reference to women). But you can't deny that the camera has it's old-school charm. Styled after the much-appreciated OM-D film bodies, the "pro mirrorless" seems most suited as a contender to the Fuji X-Pro 1 in both price and features. Is Olympus crazy, or do we kind of like this...?

New Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC Lens:

Tamron is a leading manufacturer of third-party lenses for our Nikon and Canon DSLRs. This week we have a new 24-70mm f2.8 lens with 'Vibration Control' (VC) -- Hello, video!

Pentax 645D 25mm f/4 Lens:

For those who love the Pentax 645 system, you'll enjoy this one for its 19mm wide-angle view. Pentax released a new lens -- one that, as with many medium-format lenses, will cost you around $5000. I'm sure it's 'nice,' though...

Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 Micro Four-Thirds Aspherical Lens:

For all those new micro four-thirds cameras people are getting, there's a new extremely fast and wide-angle 17.5mm f/0.95 lens. It's pricey, but probably among the best wide-angles you can get for your new micro four-thirds.

Has anyone the tried the already-out 25mm f/0.95 version? I think we'd all be curious to see how these perform?

The Crazy...

Sigma DP1 Merrill and DP2 Merrill:

This one really deserves to be in a loony bin: Sigma's 46-MEGAPIXEL...APS-C...POINT and SHOOT camera, the DP1 Merrill. But then there's a second version, the DP2 Merrill, with a different fixed lens than that of the DP1. I'm sure you can all see why these two models might need to be kept on regular doses of antipsychotics.

Now, that's not entirely fair. It's really 15MP. Sigma bought Foveon a while back and is using the company's technology to produce a chip that utilizes silicon's unique property of absorbing different wavelengths of light at different depths. It's really a fascinating technology, and you can read more about it in the press release or on DP Review. But it basically means that it captures three times the amount of information of a 'normal' digital sensor at each of the 15 million light-gathering pixel locations.

In all fairness, the new DP1 and DP2 Merrill cameras should be an interesting competition to the Fuji X-Pro 1, both of which have different technologies to rid images of moire. But still, why a point and shoot?

Sigma SD1 Re-Pricing and Re-Naming Nightmare (More news than anything):

Sigma has already been using the Foveon technology in a professional DSLR, the SD1, that has an even crazier story. The news with the SD1 this week is that Sigma has cut the price to just $3300 (still twice as much at B&H for some reason, however). I say 'just' because it used to be $9700! That's not a typo.

To sum it all up: So now Sigma realized it overpriced it's APS-C DSLR (which in all fairness could be quite excellent), chose to cut it down by a factor of three, and then put the exact same sensor from that camera into a compact camera. That's like taking a D3x sensor and putting it into a Nikon Coolpix P100, and then selling them both side by side. Boy must Sigma's PR department have its hands full. What's more: Sigma isn't necessarily thought of as a high-end brand. Leica might be able to afford doing this, but right now, it's like putting Rolex parts into a Casio-branded watch that looks like a Rolex knock-off...and then charging a Rolex price...only to cut it down to a Fossil price, subsequently introducing a new Casio-branded watch with the same Rolex parts for a Fossil look and price. Why pay $100 for something that says Casio? Enough analogies? Either way, Sigma has some serious re-branding to do if it wants to compete with the big boys.

Sony's New 500mm f/4 A-mount Lens:

A big, fat, white lens that's built-to-order for a fairly successful camera line...I just don't see many people putting in an order for the amount it must cost. Maybe I'm wrong...

The Not-So-Cool Kids on the Block...

New Canon Powershots:

Canon released quite a few new Powershots this week, including this outdoor, shock-proof, waterproof, 16MP Powershot D20.

Pentax Optio W-G2 Compact Camera:

It's the adventurer's camera, complete with carabiner and all!

Order the WG-2 or the GPS version at Adorama.

Not-so-secret secrets...

Lensbaby will give birth to something big (hopefully not too big

Nikon D4 Delay?:

The Nikon D4 delay has been well publicized, even on our site. But it's worth noting that, in case you haven't heard, Amazon still thinks they'll get the D4 into its customers' hands by Friday. Adorama agrees with the delay, however. What's really going on? No one knows. Stay tuned for updates on the issue.

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You seem a bit skeptical to the microfourthirds, as if isn't a proper camera. Is that a correct interpretation, and in case, why?

I'm not skeptical at all. I think it's a great format that suits a ton of people. We should just remember that it's not an APS-C size, let alone full frame. Tech from companies like Fuji and Foveon/Sigma are creating better sensors in smaller sizes than we've ever seen. It's quite wonderful to see.

As for mirrorless cameras in general (which are often confused with micro four-thirds cameras mostly because a lot of the first mirrorless cameras used micro four-thirds sensors, and vice versa), I think it's great, too. We don't get the wonderful non-digital EVF, but again, companies like Fuji with their hybrid viewfinders are making those better than ever. Still, I feel like a select few are gimmicky and that we need to remain conscious (for whom it may concern) of this fact. That said, there are many 'pro' cameras coming out that fit into this category and that I believe will perform superbly, out-doing all expectations (Fuji X-Pro 1 and quite possibly the new Olympus as well, perhaps among others).

Hope that helps clear up my view. :-)

vladimir byazrov's picture

In Sigma SD1 segment you lost your shit completely, man. What an abracadabra is your writing there? )

No more than Sigma was with its pricing 'magic...'  :-)

With Sigma news you might want to correct the name from Fovian to Foveon...

Thanks! Read it the wrong way somewhere else...got me confused :-)

Patrick Hall's picture

Might have to get that Tamron 24-70 to go with my D4.  Might be the next Fstoppers goto lens!

I was thinking about that! We all love that range. Who doesn't love his 24-70? And why has it taken this long to add some sort of image stabilization to one of those at 2.8 (unless I missed a lens)?

j.j.'s picture

I still have my Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 without the VR she-bang, i would like to try that 25mm f/.95 on a nikon.