Category: News

News from around the world covering photography topics. These include technology developments, new product announcements, events news and more.

Samyang’s first Nikon FF DSLR lens

Press release issued by Intro2020:

Samyang unveils their first AF lens for Nikon cameras: AF 14mm F2.8 F [Master the art of Ultra Wide-Angle]

Samyang’s first AF lens for Nikon FF DSLRs, an ultra-wide 14mm f/2.8 FX model

Samyang Optics announces a new, ultra wide-angle lens, the AF 14mm F2.8 F. It is the company’s first-ever autofocus lens for Nikon DSLR full-frame cameras. The AF 14mm F2.8 lens has been developed using Samyang Optics’ globally renowned optical technology.
116.6° Ultra Wide-Angle with beautiful bokeh…

Inside the lens, there are 15 elements in 10 groups, including 2 aspherical elements, 4 highrefractive (HR) elements and 1 extra-low dispersion (ED) glass element to minimise distortion and chromatic aberrations, for crystal clear resolution. This lens offers a powerful 116.6 degrees wide angle-of-view. It also features 7 rounded aperture blades, which help to create beautiful bokeh (out-of focus backgrounds) in portraits, still-lifes and night-time cityscapes.

Faster, accurate and quieter Auto Focus performance…

The AF 14mm F2.8 F autofocus function is upgraded with Samyang’s advanced technology. The lens offers faster, more accurate and quieter autofocus performance than previous AF 14mm F2.8 lenses.

Capture vivid images anytime, anywhere…

This compact ultra wide-angle lens weighs only 484g (without lens cap and hood). The lens also features weather-sealing and a built-in AF/MF switch for increased usability. With a minimum focus distance of just 20cm, it is possible to capture more vivid close-up images of portraits, pets, food etc., anytime, anywhere.

Price: suggested retail price £649.99

Availability: from September 2018

Imported and distributed in the UK & Ireland by Intro 2020 Ltd.
For full details please visit www.intro2020.co.uk
www.facebook.com/SamyangUK

Sony introduces the long-awaited 400mm F2.8 G Master™ Prime Lens

Press release issued by Sony:

New Large Aperture Super-Telephoto Prime Lens is World’s lightest in its class, with outstanding AF performance, innovative optical design and exceptional image quality

Sony today announced the highly anticipated FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS large aperture super-telephoto prime lens (model SEL400F28GM).

The product of extensive research and testing, Sony’s new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is the first large aperture super-telephoto prime to join the E-mount line-up. This exciting new lens produces brilliant image quality, extraordinary focusing speed and precision while also boasting the lightest weight in its class[i] and an extremely balanced design. It’s the ideal choice for professional sports, wildlife and nature photographers, and a perfect complement for Sony’s extensive line-up of high-speed E-mount bodies including α9, α7R III and more.

World’s Lightest 400mm F2.8 Prime with Ideal Balance for Monopod or Handheld Shooting

Weighing in at only 2897g, the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens provides a level of portability and handheld manoeuvrability that has never before been achieved in a lens of its class. The remarkably light weight of this lens is achieved through an innovative optical design that includes three fluorite elements, with a reduced number of elements deployed at the front of the barrel, as well as the liberal usage of durable magnesium alloy components.

Additionally, repeated field tests and evaluation by professional photographers across the world have led to a lens design that is not front-heavy, reducing moment of inertia that resists rotation by up to 50% as compared to the SAL500F40G.[ii] This ensures that quicker, more precise panning is available, whether shooting handheld or on a monopod.

Fast, Precise Autofocus

To best take advantage of the rapidly evolving shooting and focusing speeds of Sony’s latest cameras, the FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS lens features two newly developed high-speed XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors that drive the lens’ focus group, achieving up to a 5x improvement[iii] in moving-subject tracking performance. These motors are supported by specially developed motion algorithms to minimise lag and instability and control noise levels, resulting in exceptionally quick, accurate and quiet autofocus performance. This allows the lens to capture dynamic, fast moving athletes or wildlife with ease.

G Master Image Quality and Bokeh

A member of the Sony’s flagship G Master Series lenses, the new large aperture super-telephoto prime lens features an incredible level of image quality and detail, with outstanding contrast and resolution maintained all the way to the corners of the image. The unique optical design includes three fluorite elements that help to minimise chromatic aberration and suppress any amount of colour bleeding. The lens has also been coated with Sony’s original Nano AR coating to suppress any unwanted reflections, glare, or ghosting.

In addition to the impressive resolution, the lens features an 11-blade circular aperture mechanism that allows it to produce extremely natural and beautiful background defocus or bokeh’. Each lens is also individually tested and adjusted at manufacturing stage to achieve maximum image quality and ‘bokeh’.

The new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is compatible with Sony’s 1.4x and 2.0x E-mount tele-converters, producing outstanding imaging performance at extended focal lengths[iv] while maintaining fast, precise AF performance.

Durability, Reliability and Control

To withstand the harsh conditions of sporting events and wildlife photography, Sony’s new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is built with a durable magnesium alloy and a strong, lightweight carbon fibre hood. The lens is also dust and moisture resistant[v], and its front element is coated with fluorine to resist dirt and fingerprints.

There is also an ample amount of hard controls on the lens, including a ‘Full-Time DMF’ switch to immediately engage manual focus at any point, customisable focus hold buttons in four different locations on the lens barrel – allowing easy access of an Eye AF for example, and a focus ring that features Linear Response MF for fine, responsive manual focus. The new lens also features built-in optical stabilisation for dynamic sports action and three different ‘Mode’ settings, including a brand new Mode 3[vi] setting with an advanced algorithm that ensures easier framing when following moving subjects. The new model includes a function ring with selectable ‘Preset’ and ‘Function[vii]’ settings, further adding to the customisability, a first for any Sony lens.

The FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS includes a drop-in filter slot[viii] that accepts ø 40.5mm ND and other filter types, as well as the optional VF-DCPL1 Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter. The VF-DCPL1 filter can be rotated to achieve the desired polarisation while installed in the lens.

α9 System Software Update to Support FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS[ix]

The latest system software update (Version 3.00) for α9 (ILCE-9) provides support for the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS (SEL400F28GM) lens to optimise optical image stabilisation performance and enables continuous shooting with auto focus tracking even when aperture is greater than F11.

The update also provides added option to input camera serial number to the Exif data, a feature that has been strongly requested by professional sports photographers and photojournalists. Additionally, several other updates to the α9 camera have been implemented with the new firmware, including improved auto focus speed in low light conditions, enhanced continuous AF performance when tracking a moving subject, and reduced release time lag when shooting with flash.

Pricing and Availability

Built to order, the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS will ship in Europe in September 2018,priced at approximately £10,500. The optional Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter (model VF-DCPL1) will ship in Europe in December 2018, priced at approximately £420.

A product feature video and testimonials by Nick Didlick and Bob Martin are now available at Sony Camera Channel on YouTube, and the new sample images are also posted at the global Sony Photo Gallery

Please visit Sony.co.uk for more information: http://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/camera-lenses/sel400f28gm

[i] Compared to 400mm F2.8 lenses for 35mm full-frame format cameras, as of June 2018, Sony survey

[ii] When mounted on the α9 with VG-C3EM grip. Compared to the α99 II + SAL500F40G, Sony tests

[iii] When mounted on the α9. Compared to the SAL300F28G2 mounted on the α9 (via LA-EA3), Sony tests

[iv] Maximum aperture with the 1.4x (SEL14TC) and 2.0x (SEL20TC) tele-converters is F4 and F5.6, respectively

[v] Not guaranteed to be 100% dust and moisture proof

[vi] α9 software must be updated to the latest version to activate Optical SteadyShot MODE 3 when this lens is used with the α9. Refer to the Sony support site for camera body compatibility information

[vii] Functions can be assigned via a camera body menu. Power Focus is assigned by default. APS-C/Full Frame Select can be assigned by updating α9 software to the latest version. Refer to the Sony support site for up to-date function and camera body compatibility information

[viii] A normal filter is initially installed in the filter slot. The filter is part of the lens’s optical system, and either the normal filter or circular polarizing filter should always be in place when using the lens. Be sure that filter is installed before memorising the focus point for the preset focus function

[ix] System software update for α9 is scheduled soon. For more information, please visit Sony support site. https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/e-mount-body-ilce9-series/ilce-9#downloads

UK drone flying restrictions given legal backing

The new measures are designed to keep small drones and large manned aircraft well apart

Remotely flying a camera around in the sky, thanks to the affordability and sophistication of drones, is one of the newest and most exciting avenues for photography. You can buy a camera-equipped drone for well-under £100 and ones with decent photo quality start at £100-150. However, it’s not a free-for-all in the skies and concerns about safety are beginning to impact on even the hobbyist drone flyer.

New UK laws to keep drones safe and away from conventional aircraft

The UK government has announced new legal measures aimed at deterring drone operators from flying their aircraft irresponsibly. New laws will mean many hobbyist drone flyers will need to register their aircraft with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and take an online safety test. The main aim is to protect passenger aircraft in airspace near to airports and aerodromes. Statistics suggest there have been nearly a 100 near-misses in the UK alone last year.

Altitude and distance limits

The first of the new regulations to come into force will happen on 30th July. By default, it will be illegal to fly a drone above 400ft (120m) or closer than 1km (0.6 miles) to an airport or aerodrome. Prior to that date the 400ft altitude limit has only been a recommended best-practice limit, as stipulated by the CAA and NATS (UK air traffic control) backed Drone Code. Many low cost drones are capable of exceeding this limit easily.

A DJI Spark like this can be bought for as little as £300 and will happily sail past 120m (400ft) above you or fly out of visible sight.

In the words of the government press release; “Drone users who flout the new height and airport boundary restrictions could be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft. This could result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.”

Safe and responsible drone flying – the Drone Code summarised:

  • Make sure you are familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions for the operation safe operation of your drone
  • Keep below 120m altitude
  • Keep well away from airports and airfields
  • Keep your drone in visual sight at all times
  • Keep a minimum 50m distance from people and properties you don’t have control over
  • Keep 150m away from any built-up areas or crowds
  • Be aware that you are responsible for the safe and responsible flight of your drone. You could be liable for criminal prosecution if you fly dangerously or irresponsibly

Drones heavier than 250g

Later, from 30th November, operators of any drone with a take-off weight of 250g or more will have to register their drone with the CAA and pass an online safety test. Most drones fitted with cameras capable of good quality stills and video photography exceed the 250g threshold. If you don’t comply with the registration and test requirement you risk a £1,000 fine. It’s not yet clear if the online test will carry a fee or not. Currently, drones exceeding 20kg require licensing and must only be flown by people licensed to be qualified operators.

Zerotech’s Dobby is a rare example of a drone with a competent camera built in, totalling less than 250g

The new regulations are being brought into law through an amendment to the Air Navigation Order (2016). A quick perusal of social media sites specialising in drone discussion reveals a split in reaction to the news. Some drone flyers whose main interest is flying as high and as far as possible are, naturally, disgruntled. But other drone enthusiasts believe the regulations were inevitable and many already stick within the limits to be enforced anyway and hope that their hobby, or even profession as commercial drone operators, will be protected from bad publicity generated by irresponsible drone flying. However, whether the new regulations can be enforced effectively is greeted with widespread cynicism. While more sophisticated drones equipped with GPS positioning receivers usually record a log of their flightpath, containing valuable evidential information, other large and powerful drones don’t.

Airline pilots say measures don’t go far enough, literally

While the changes are designed to protect passengers and pilots flying big planes, the pilots trades union, the British Airlines Pilots Association (BALPA), has been critical of the 1km airport boundary, saying it should be more like 5km. Apparently, an airliner could quite legitimately be well under 400ft 1km from the runway.

Because the drone industry, both for recreational and commercial flying, is estimated to be worth over £40 billion by 2030, the government stresses that it does not intend to hinder the responsible operation of drones.

Taking your drone abroad to fly is now increasingly common but there are no internationally agreed drone flying rules. Nevertheless, the same 250g weight threshold and 120m altitude limit do seem to be mentioned frequently in local regulations around the world.