Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 Lens Now Available

sigma 17-50mm lens for picture-soup.com news itemYesterday, Sigma Corporation announced the release of its new 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens. The lens was first introduced at the PMA show earlier this year. The lens is designed for DSLRs that utilize the smaller APS-C sized image sensor.

The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 11-inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification of 1:5. It is currently available only in the Canon mount, with Nikon, Sigma, Sony, and Pentax mounts becoming available in the coming weeks.

For Sony and Pentax shooters who are using cameras that offer in-camera stabilization, they can utilize the anti-shake system of the lens or camera body.

MSRP for the 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens is $980.

For more details, visit www.sigmaphoto.com.

— D.B.

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Book Review: Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital

By Diane Berkenfeld

Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital, (ISBN 9781402756566) is an impressive volume tracing photography from the earliest cameras through present day digitals. The book is written by Todd Gustavson, the technology curator for the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, and published by Sterling Innovation, an imprint of Sterling Publishing (www.sterlingpublishing.com). The book, which spans a timeline of almost 200 years, includes photographs of over 350 cameras from the collection, as well as more than 100 historic photos, ads, and drawings, and tops out at 368 pages.

The George Eastman House is the oldest photography museum in the world. The museum’s collections include 400,000 photographs from 9,000 photographers; more than 20,000 items of camera technology; and one of the world’s most comprehensive library of photographic books, manuscripts, and journals. Author Todd Gustavson has been working with the museum’s technology collection of 20,000+ artifacts, for more than 20 years.

“Each camera represents an insight—some by a single inventor, others by a team of scientists and engineers—that there was a way to do things better,” writes Gustavson in the book’s introduction, to the reasoning behind those cameras included. In addition to the history of cameras, from the very first known photograph through modern day, special cameras from the George Eastman House collections that were owned by renowned photographers were also included as well as some of the most iconic imagery by these photographers, using those cameras that are now part of the Eastman House collection.

“While choosing collection items for the book, it was continually exciting to access the Eastman House archives, which feature both the images and the cameras that together tell the story of the history of photography,” said Gustavson. “This is the first time a book has showcased photographic history in this way, illustrating a photograph next to the camera that took the image, either the exact model or in most cases the actual camera.”

The book features the first faint image caught by Niepce’s camera obscura in 1826, Joe Rosenthal’s Speed Graphic, which took the Pulitzer Prize-winning image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima; and two cameras owned and used by Alfred Stieglitz that created his famed photographs of New York City and wife, Georgia O’Keefe.

Camera also features artifacts such as the Giroux daguerreotype camera from 1839, signed by Daguerre; an 1840 full-plate daguerreotype camera owned by Samuel A. Bemis, one of the first cameras sold in the United States; an 1860 sliding-box camera from Mathew Brady’s studio; a 1884 Racetrack camera owned by Eadweard Muybridge; the earliest-known Kodak camera, no. 6 off the line in 1888; and a 1900 Brownie from the first month of production. Also included in the book are Ansel Adams’ own Brownie and Kodak Vest Pocket cameras; the pre-production model from the O-Series Leica; a NASA Lunar Orbiter from 1966; and the first digital camera, created by Kodak’s Steve Sasson in1975, along with an image it created.

Also included are Deardoff and the Sinar P2 large format cameras; Hasselblad, Mamiya and Rolleiflex medium format cameras, Pentax, Minox, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Minolta cameras are also included, among other less known brands; Edwin Land’s Polaroid cameras including the popular SX-70; and the Kodak Handle Instant Camera, which was an instant camera introduced in 1977, but was short lived when Kodak lost a patent suit to Polaroid. Early Fuji Quicksnap, the first one-time-use camera is included too.

I think Camera is a wonderful treasure trove of photographic history, however I feel it ends too abruptly in the digital age. Early cameras—both Kodak branded and those made by others—are featured in great length. But when the book reaches film cameras of the late twentieth century and modern-day digitals, I can think of at least a dozen additional cameras that might have been included.

(I will preface the following list by saying I don’t know if these cameras are part of the Eastman House collection.) These include: APS or Advanced Photo System film cameras; the Ricoh RDC-1, an early digital with direct modem access; the Minolta Dimage V, which had a lens that could be removed from the body and attached via a yard-long cable for shooting; the Kodak EasyShare V570 with its dual lenses, and the Sigma SD9, the first camera to utilize the Foveon X3 image sensor. I would even go so far as to say the Polaroid 20×24 camera should have been included.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the early miniature and spy cameras of the 1800s. I also enjoyed seeing the actual cameras (in most cases) that were used to capture some of the most famous images. I wonder if the Eastman House collection includes more of these camera/photograph combinations. Also interesting was the included essays by Steve Sasson, the father of the digital camera. For the average digital camera/photography enthusiast, who may have never heard of Sasson, the expanded coverage is a treat.

Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital would be a great addition to the library of any camera enthusiast or photographer. With the price of $45, the book is well worth the investment.

For more information about the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, go to www.eastmanhouse.org.

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Product Review: Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS Lens

Article & Images By Diane Berkenfeld

The Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS telephoto zoom lens is the second lens from Sigma that I’ve tested out, and have to say it is a nice piece of glass. The lens, which incorporates an Optical Stabilizer, is compatible with Nikon, Canon, Sony/Minolta, and Pentax mount bodies.

Minimum focusing distance is 59.1-inches, and the lens uses a 62mm filter. The lens offers a 34.3 degree angle of view at the wide 70mm end and 8.2 degrees of view zoomed in at 300mm. Aperture range is f/4-5.6 through f/22. For a lens with such a wide zoom range, it’s not extremely heavy, weighing in at only 610 grams. The lens has a nine blade diaphragm, and although it isn’t an f/2.8 lens, it does offer a nice out of focus blur at f/4.

Designed for use with DSLRs that incorporate full frame image sensors, the lens can also be used with camera bodies that use the smaller APS-C sized sensors. When used on a camera with an APS-C sensor, the lens effectively becomes a 100-450mm lens.

According to Sigma, for the Sony and Pentax mount lenses, you can use the optical stabilizer even if the camera body has a built-in anti-shake function.

The 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS lens uses Special Low Dispersion glass elements. The Super Multi-Layer Coating reduces flare and ghosting, providing high contrast throughout the entire focal range.

While shooting an outdoor concert by the band Finally Balanced, I zoomed in to 300mm, on the drummers gear.

Bringing the image into Adobe Lightroom, and zooming in, you can clearly make out the lettering on the medallion on the drum.

I’ve been using the lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II body, and found it to be quick to focus, producing sharp images. Canon’s 5D Mark II has a full frame image sensor, so the lens was accurate at the 70-300mm zoom range. The images from this lens were as sharp as I’ve seen with Canon brand lenses.

As I mentioned in the review of the Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle zoom, posted on Picture-soup.com last summer, there are folks who don’t think third-party lenses are as good as those made by the camera maker. From my experience using Sigma lenses I think they’re definitely worth the money. The money you save by buying a Sigma lens doesn’t come with degradation in quality.

Singer/guitarist Dave Christian, of the band Finally Balanced. At its widest aperture of f/4, the lens provides a nice blur to the background.

These images were taken during a family portrait shoot. They were converted to B&W in Lightroom, and saved as a four-up for printing.

MSRP of the lens is $599.00. For more information, check out the website at www.sigmaphoto.com.

To read the Picture-soup.com review of the Sigma 10-20mm f/3-5 EX DC HSM lens, click here.

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February Has Been a Good Month for New Photo Product Announcements

By Diane Berkenfeld

A bounty of photo products have been introduced recently, including wide format printers, film, lenses, concept cameras and more. Many of the announcements were made at or surrounding the annual PMA convention and tradeshow, being held in Anaheim, CA this week, known as the place for product and technology announcements. And even some of those companies not exhibiting at PMA announced exciting new products for the professional photographer in recent days.

Wide-Format Printers

Two new 24" and one 44" Canon printers. (Images not to scale)

The biggest news announced today is three new wide-format printers from Canon: the the 44-inch imagePROGRAF iPF8300, 24-inch imagePROGRAF iPF6350 and the iPF6300. Each model features Canon’s new, 12-Color LUCIA EX pigment ink set; a newly developed Media Configuration Tool; and bundled with a new Print Plug-In for Photoshop, Digital Photo Professional and support for the Adobe Color Management Module.

The Canon iPF8300 and iPF6350 are equipped with an 80 GB HDD for faster spooling of large files and the ability to reprint jobs directly from the printer. All three new models are equipped with a standard gigabit Ethernet network interface and an automatic dual-blade cutter.

Expect new ICC profiles from a number of companies to be available on their respective company websites upon release of the new Canon printers. Updated printer RIP drivers will be available for download from those respective company websites upon release of the printers as well.

The imagePROGRAF iPF8300/6350/6300 will start shipping in March for with MSRPs of $5,995, $3,995 and $3,695, respectively. The new imagePROGRAF models will be unveiled for the first time at WPPI in Las Vegas, March 8-11, 2010. Go to www.cusa.canon.com for more details.

Film and A Film Camera

The Fujifilm GF670, a folding, medium format film camera.

While digital has been the de facto camera choice for most professional photographers these days, there are still film and film camera introductions being made.

Early this month we covered the announcement of Fujifilm’s folding film camera, the GF670, which will take rolls of 120 and 220 film, with the versatility to shoot either 6×6 or 6×7.

The camera features a Fujinon EBC 80mm lens, coupled rangefinder, exposure compensator, and aperture-priority automatic and manual exposure modes. Other features include a hot shoe, PC sync connection socket, electronic Leaf shutter with shutter speeds ranging from 4 seconds to 1/500 of a second including Bulb. Because the camera uses a Leaf shutter, flash sync is available at all shutter speeds. (see full article here) Go to www.fujifilmusa.com for more information.

Ektar 100, a color neg emulsion is now available in sheet sizes: 4x5 and 8x10.

Eastman Kodak has announced the addition of sheet film sizes of its Kodak Professional Ektar 100 film to its line. Ektar 100 is now available in 4×5 and 8×10 sheets in addition to 35mm and 120 roll film formats. Ektar 100 is a fine grain color negative film. Check out the website at www.kodak.com for more details.

New Lenses

Earlier this weekend, at the PMA show, Samsung, announced several new additions to its NX system lens line. The original line up of a standard zoom (18-55mm OIS / F3.5-5.6), tele zoom (50-200mm OIS / f/4.0-5.6) and pancake lens (30mm / f/2.0) launched with the Samsung NX10 earlier this year will be complemented by the introduction of five additional lenses through 2010.

The new lenses include: a compact zoom lens (20-50mm f/3.5-5.6), a wide pancake lens (20mm f/2.8), the tele zoom (50-200mm OIS f/4.0-5.6), macro lens (60mm f/2.7), standard zoom lens (non OIS (optical image stabilization) 18-55mm F3.5-5.6), and zoom lens (18-200mm OIS f/3.5-6.3).

Availability will be as follows: 30mm pancake lens, 18-55mm zoom, and 50-200mm zoom available as of January 2010; 18-55mm non-OIS lens during the first half of 2010; the 20-50mm zoom and 20mm pancake lens during the second half of 2010; and the 18-200mm and 60mm Macro lenses TBD. Visit the website at www.samsung.com/us for more details.

And More Lenses

(l. to r.) New 24mm and 16-35mm Nikkor lenses. (Images not to scale)

Earlier this month, Nikon announced two new lenses, the AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED lens and the AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR. Both lenses are designed for use with Nikon DSLRs that utilize the FX-format, full frame image sensor, however they can also be used with DSLRs that use the smaller DX-format sensor. The duo also utilize Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor technology for fast, yet quiet autofocusing.

The AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is scheduled for availability in late February with an estimated selling price of $1,259.95. The AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4 G ED lens is expected to be available in late March for an estimated selling price of $2,199.95. Go to www.nikonusa.com for more details.

Yet More Lenses and a DSLR

Sigma Corporation of America expanded its line with the addition of five new lenses and a DSLR at PMA this past weekend. The new lenses are: 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM, 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM, APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM, APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM, and 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM; and the SD15 DSLR. Exact availability dates and pricing are pending. All of the lenses will be available this spring, in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax mounts. The OS lenses offer the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible; and can be used with Sony and Pentax DSLRs even if the camera bodies feature an image sensor shift anti-shake system.

The Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM was designed specifically for DSLRs with APS-C size image sensors. This lens has an equivalent 35mm angle of view of a 12-24mm. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches throughout the entire zoom range.

The Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM incorporates Sigma’s Optical Stabilization (OS) function. The lens also allows photographers to utilize the f/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5.

(l. to r.) Five new Sigma lenses just announced: 8-16mm, 17-50mm, 50-500mm, 70-200mm, and 85mm. (Images are not scaled to size)

The Sigma APO 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM also incorporates Sigma’s original OS function. This lens has a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.1 (at the focal length of 200mm). The addition of the optional 1.4x EX DG or 2x EX DG APO Tele Converters produce a 70-700mm f/6.3-8 or a 100-1000mm f/9-12.6 MF zoom lens, respectively. This lens can be used on DSLRs with full frame or APS-C sized image sensors.

Also introduced at PMA last weekend, the Sigma SD15 DSLR.

The Sigma APO 70-200 f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM also incorporates Sigma’s original OS function, and allows the use of the f/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 55.1 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:8. The lens can be used with both APS-C and full frame sensors.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM lens, when used on digital cameras with an APS-C size image sensor, effectively becomes a 127.5mm f/1.4 lens. Minimum focusing distance is 33.5 inches with a maximum magnification 1:8.6.

The SD15 DSLR is the latest model in Sigma’s SD series of DSLR cameras, and is powered by the 14-megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor. The Foveon sensor can capture all primary RGB colors at each and every pixel location arranged in three layers. The new SD15 incorporates the “TRUE II” image processing engine, which processes the large amount of data from the 14MP sensor. Other features include SD card compatibility, a 3-inch LCD, 77-segment AE sensor, and shutter mechanism with a life of over 100,000 actuations.

For more information, go to www.sigmaphoto.com.

Concept Cameras

Sony announced concept cameras: (l.) a compact DSLR that will accept interchangeable lenses; and (r.) a replacement for the Alpha A700 DSLR and two prototype lenses.

Yesterday at PMA, Sony announced a concept model of a new compact Alpha DSLR camera system. The system will employ the Sony Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, and provide full AVCHD video capture. The concept camera, which is an ultra compact model, will utilize interchangeable lenses, Sony also showed a mid-range concept DSLR camera, successor to the Alpha A700, and prototypes of two lenses: a Sony branded super telephoto 500mm f/4 G lens and Carl Zeiss Distagon T 24mm f/2 ZA SSM lens. Check the website at www.sony.com for more.

Accessories

New accessories introduced last week include the Joby Ballhead X for Gorillapod Focus, the latest addition to its Professional Line of photographic equipment. The portable yet sturdy Ballhead X supports 11.1lbs and allows photographers the ability to pan, tilt, and rotate their camera. The Ballhead X is lightweight and compact, yet still robust enough to support pro SLR cameras with substantial zoom lenses and sizable camera rigs.

The Joby Ballhead X can be used with the Gorillapod Focus or any other tripod.

While it is optimized for use with the Gorillapod Focus, the Ballhead X can accommodate both 3/8” and 1/4” threads, for compatibility with any tripod. The Ballhead X will be available both separately and bundled together with the Gorillapod Focus, and is expected to hit store shelves in April. Go to www.joby.com for more information.

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Product Review: ExpoImaging's Ray Flash Ring Flash Adapter

By Diane Berkenfeld

The Ray Flash is an adapter that fits over the head of your DSLR’s accessory flash and turns your flash into a ring flash. The Ray Flash uses the power of your flash—redirected through the adapter’s body—onto your subject. The Ray Flash has a center diameter of 4 1/8-inches and can accommodate most professional 35mm interchangeable lenses.

A range of models are available so you’ll want to check the ExpoImaging website for your DSLR/flash combination to see which one will work for you. The reason behind this is that there are differences in the height of different models of flashes sitting on various camera bodies. Originally the Ray Flash was designed to work with Canon Speedlites (580EX and 580EX II) and Nikon Speedlights (SB800 and SB900) but they will work with a range of other camera/flash combinations including cameras/flashes from Olympus and Sony; as well as flashes from Metz and Sigma.

The question is, when so many camera manufacturers and some lighting equipment makers make dedicated ring flashes, why would you go with an adapter instead? Price. The price ranges start at around $225 to $400 or so for dedicated ring flashes from camera makers and companies including Sunpak and Sigma; and upwards of $1,000 to $1,800 for ring flash heads from companies like Lumedyne, DynaLite, Comet, and Elinchrom. The ring flash heads average 3,000 watt seconds (w/s) of power. And if you own a lighting system that isn’t compatible, you’re out of luck—unless you’re willing to go out and spend thousands of dollars more for a full system of lights.

But when you’re looking for portability, a smaller unit is necessary. Street price for the Ray Flash is $199. which is a less than the cost if you were going to go out and buy a dedicated ring flash. And, by design, you’re getting more versatility out of your equipment, since you can most likely use a flash you already own.

Using the Ray Flash

(l. to r.) Installing the Ray Flash on a flash is quick and easy. Just slip it on, and turn the locking mechanism (on the top of the Ray Flash) to secure the adapter to the flash.

(l.) Final image; (r.) Close-up in Adobe Lightroom. Note the distinctive Ring Light highlights in the eyes. Photos © Diane Berkenfeld.

You will lose one stop of light from your flash by using the Ray Flash adapter. Because of the design, you can still use TTL modes with the Ray Flash adapter. Depending upon your shooting situation, though, you may want to use the flash on manual instead of TTL, to compensate for the light loss. A locking mechanism secures the adapter to your flash head, so it won’t slip off. And there is no change in color temperature.

Another example of the soft lighting from the Ray Flash. Photo taken with the Ray Flash on a Sigma EF 530 DG Super flash, Nikon D300s. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

The lighting from a ring flash is distinctive—virtually shadowless lighting on the front of the subject with a soft halo of shadow around the edges. The further away your subject is from the background, the harsher the shadow behind the subject will be. With other lighting methods, it is usually the opposite, in that you’ll get softer shadows the further your subject is from the background.

The Ray Flash, or any ring flash for that matter is ideal for Macro photography, however you can use the Ray Flash for wider compositions such as portraits too.

I tested out the Ray Flash (model #RAC 175-2) with a Nikon D300s body, AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6 G lens and Sigma EF 530 DG Super flash. I also decided to try it out with the Lensbaby Composer and Fisheye optic on the D300s and the Sigma flash.

Using the Ray Flash adapter is very easy, it just slips over the head of the flash. I had no problems using it, in fact, when using the Nikkor lens, I held the D300s body with my right hand, and zoomed the lens with my left. When I tried taking photographs with the Lensbaby, which was much shorter than the Nikkor, I found it a little more difficult to shoot, but not impossible. Because I was using the Fisheye optic, I could see the back of the Ray Flash adapter in the viewfinder. For the image of Mardi Gras beads (below) that I shot with the Fisheye Lensbaby, I actually liked the circular crop that I ended up with.

(l.) This image was captured with the Lensbaby Composer on a Nikon D300s, using the Fisheye optic. The black ring is the back of the Ray Flash - visible because of the Lensbaby's shallow physical size and Fisheye's wide field of view; (r.) Final cropped image, exposure adjusted slightly, bringing out the blacks. The outline around the circle was created in Photoshop. If you look really closely you can see the reflection of the Ray Flash in the highlights. Photos © Diane Berkenfeld.

If you’re looking for an economical ring flash lighting solution the Ray Flash adapter might be right for you.

For more information, go to the website www.expoimaging.com.

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Industry Volunteerism: PMDA Soldiers' Angels Portraits of Love Project Serves Families of Armed Forces Serving Abroad

PMDA soldiersangels logo

The PMDA Soldiers’ Angels Portraits of Love project is a great volunteer program within the photo industry that we here at Picture Soup wanted to share with our visitors. The PMDA (Photo Manufacturers and Distributors Association) has partnered with the Soldiers’ Angels volunteer organization to create the PMDA Soldiers’ Angels Portraits of Love Project, with the goal of taking the portraits of 10,000 families of service men and women who are serving abroad this September and send both the families and the service men and women a print by the holiday season—at no cost to the families.

You can find out more about this great volunteer effort within the photo industry by going to the website www.pmdaportraitsoflove.com. You can also sign up to volunteer as a photographer via the website; or as a military family, you can find a participating photographer.

As an industry we think this is a great way that photographers can share their talents while bringing families of those serving in our armed forces around the world a little closer for the holidays.

Along with PMDA, Fujifilm, SeeHere.com, Independent Photo Imagers (IPI), Nikon, Canon, Tamron, Samsung, Pentax, Olympus, Microsoft, HP, GE, Casio, ArcSoft, National Geographic Magazine, Cameo Style, Popular Photography magazine, Photo Industry Reporter, Tiffen, and American Photo magazine are also sponsoring this program.

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