Friday, February 1, 2008

New Objects of Lens Lust

Well the PMA photography show in Las Vegas and the major photography companies have introduced a couple of lenses that I want. I have to admit that I love optics, and shooting with good optics is fun for me, even if the photographs that are derived from the experience.

The first lens was actually announced by Nikon a few days before the show. They call it a 24mm f3.5 PC-E Nikkor. The lens finally gives nikon shooters a wide-angle lens with perspective control. The only other choice prior to this was modifying a Canon lens which was rare and expensive. There were 28mm shift lenses in the Nikon and Schneider lines that could be used, but this is the first with tilt AND shift in a native Nikon optic. The lens incoroprated the best glass and coatings as well as an ingenious method of finally offering fill aperture control from the camera in a PC lens. This electromagnetic aperture control is only available in the D3 and D300 at this time and operates via the ribbon cable in the lens. There is some speculation as to whether the camera can be used with manual cameras or whether the iris will require electricity to stop down. I hope not because while I can certainly use my F6 or D2x to take architecture photos with standard stop-down operation, I would like to mount it on my PB-6 bellows for some PC control at high magnifications. Eventually I will upgrade my DSLR to take advantage of the full capabilities of the lens. I love 24mm on both my SLR's and DSLR's and this will help with the geometric issues when taking pictures of buildings.

The second lens was introduced officially yesterday by Sigma. Prototypes of the 200-500 f2.8 were on display in the Spring, but it seems like they have finally gotten it down to a production model. The lens is huge as the length and speed indicate. It weights over 35 lbs and will push the limits of my tripod system. I would use this beast mostly for taking pictures on the creeks, where i wouldn't have to truck it too far. It would also be nice at night sports from reasonable distances. Several things remain to be seen. First is what kind of AF motor and its speed did Sigma use. From the webpage, Sigma uses a rechargable battery in the lens to supply energy to the AF motor as well as a power zoom. The focus distance and zoom setting are not displayed on the rings as usually occurs, but on a LCD screen. The lens also takes a 72mm rear mounted filter. That's as big as I've ever heard of. No word as to whether a CL-P is included like it is in the 300-800mm. Also interesting about the lens is that they are including what Sigma calls the 1000mm f5.6 "attachment." This is effectively a 2x tele-converter that was specifically designed for the lens. AF is retained by the "attachment" but it will remain to be seen how well image quality is retained. I am also interested to see if the Sigma 1.4x TC is compatable, because a 700 f4 lens would be quite useful. There are only rumors as to price of this lens, but $10,000 is a reasonable estimate. That might take some saving up and delay upgrading my DSLR system which is needed for at least my travel body.

I don't really "need" these lenses, but i enjoy using them, and i don't have any other vice to spend money on, so i don't feel so bad.

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