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  • Nikon Celebrates 80 Years of NIKKOR Lenses

    80 Years of NIKKOR Lenses

    80 Years and 80 Million Lenses--That's a lot of Glass

    We recently received an email with a link to a very interesting infographic about the history of NIKKOR lenses. Apparently this year marks the 80th anniversary of the NIKKOR brand. In addition to it being 80 years of producing NIKKOR lenses, Nikon recently manufactured their 80 millionth lens. When you figure it out, on average, Nikon has produced 1 million lenses a year. Break that down even further, that averages out to 2,739 lenses a day. Yep, a day. That number seems pretty impressive, and quite unbelievable. Keep in mind too that that's an average, spread out over the last 80 years. I'm sure in the early years of Nikon lens production it was much more difficult to produce lenses in mass quantities, so the output now must be much greater.

    Nikon Aero-NIKKOR Lens Example of Aero-NIKKOR Lens

    In 1933, Nikon marketed its first camera lenses under the NIKKOR brand name. The first lenses were Aero-NIKKOR, for aerial photography. The first orders came from the Japanese Army Air Force for the 70cm F5 (700mm), as well as for the 18cm F4.5 (180mm) NIKKOR lens for small-scale aerial photography. The lenses were also exhibited at an exposition held that year, and sale of the lenses began.

    The NIKKOR brand of lenses became famous in the 1950s by David Douglas Duncan whose photography appeared in LIFE magazine. Duncan used a NIKKOR lens attached to a Leica camera body, and this brought the brand a lot of recognition. The legend goes that a Japanese photographer showed Duncan some photographs that he had taken using a NIKKOR lens. The photographs had come out clearly despite the fact that they had been taken indoors, in poor light. Duncan was impressed, so he went out and bought two NIKKOR lenses the very next day.

    In 1971, NIKKOR lenses and Nikon cameras went up with the Apollo 15 space mission. NIKKOR lenses have been going into space ever since, and have been subjected to some rough physical conditions. Space walks will subject these lenses to temperatures of negative 150 degrees Celsius or less.

    Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens

    There are currently over 80 types of lenses still in production today (I guess everything has to be 80 for Nikon this year). Included in this count are 17 DX format (crop sensor) lenses, and 62 FX format (full frame sensor) lenses. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens has the most lens elements. Most people would probably assume that something like the heaviest lens (600mm f/4), or the longest lens (800mm f/5.6) would have the most elements. But, no, the 70-200mm has 21 lens elements in 16 groups.

    Nikon's NIKKOR brand is now also being used with the Nikon 1 camera system. In addition, Coolpix cameras feature built-in (not interchangeable) NIKKOR lenses. Nikon has been producing great NIKKOR lenses for 80 years now. It will be interesting to see what the next 80 years will hold.


  • Two New Nikon Lenses: AF-S 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX VR and AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED FX VR

    Today Nikon introduces two new lenses to their line-up of NIKKOR glass: one for DX (crop sensor) cameras, and the other for FX (full-frame sensor) cameras.

    Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

    The new Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens from Nikon is their longest reach zoom lens ever with an impressive 16.7x zoom range. This new 18-300mm lens is surprisingly compact for its long zoom range, and is designed for DX format cameras. These "crop sensor" cameras include the D3100, D3200, D5100, D7000, etc.. Like any lens mounted on a DX format camera there is an effective 1.5x multiplication to the focal length giving an equivalent 35mm focal length of 27-450mm. The 18-300mm gives the photographer a great amount of versatility, allowing her to shoot wide-angle to super-telephoto, and without having to change lenses. This new lens features VR II technology to keep images sharp, even when zoomed out to the maximum 300mm setting. In addition, this lens has a close-focusing distance of only 1.48 feet at the 300mm setting, allowing for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:3.2x.

    The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR will retail for $1000 and is expected to start shipping in late June.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

    AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

    The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR is the new standard lens for FX (full-frame) cameras. Full-frame cameras include the D700, D800, D800E, D4, etc.. This new lens will be marketed as an every day, walkabout lens for FX format cameras, especially considering its compact and lightweight design. We wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing full-frame camera kits including this lens. In addition to the VR II technology featured in the 24-85mm, this lens also offers  Auto Tripod detection for specialized VR correction for both still and video shooting. The 24-85mm has a close focusing distance of just 1.25 feet at any focal length. The 24-85mm is compatible with DX format cameras and has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 36-127.5mm.

    The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR will retail for $600 and is expected to start shipping in late June.

  • Pentax Announces K-30 Digital SLR Camera, New 50mm f/1.8 Lens

    Pentax Introduces New K-30 Digital SLR Camera

    Featuring weather resistant capabilities, new K-30 mid-level DSLR is the perfect creative companion for active travel and outdoor photographers

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera

    Denver, CO (May 21, 2012) – PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION announces the introduction of its new weather and dust resistant digital SLR camera – the PENTAX K-30. Ideal for photographers with active outdoor lifestyles, the new PENTAX K-30 combines a compact, lightweight body with many advanced features found only in higher end DSLR camera models, such as a weather, dust and cold resistant body, a glass prism optical finder with 100% field of view, state-of-the-art autofocusing, and full HD video recording capabilities.

    “No detail was overlooked when designing the dynamic new Pentax K-30 to be weather resistant,” explains John Carlson, Sr. Manager of Sales and Marketing, PENTAX.  “Every seam, every button, every hinge has been weather sealed for adventure-proof creative photography. Whether enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking in the Rocky Mountains or on vacation cruising along on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls, photographers can stop worrying about weather conditions and start focusing on capturing the perfect shot.”

    In addition to its versatile weather-proof capabilities, the new Pentax K-30 offers features including high-speed burst shooting at a maximum speed of six images per second, a high-speed shutter unit with a top speed of 1/6000 second, and convenient dual electronic dials for quick, fingertip access to exposure control and several Auto Picture and scene modes. Coupled with an ergonomic grip that provides firm, comfortable control of the camera, and a sporty, functional design, the Pentax K-30 assures dependable, flawless performance in the field. The new Pentax K-30 is available in three body colors: Crystal White and Crystal Blue, with brilliant, glossy finishes reminiscent of the finish of an exclusive sports car; and Black, for a traditional SLR look. It is also compatible with all PENTAX K-mount lenses.

    Major features include:

    Weather resistant design ideal for travel and outdoor photography
    Featuring 81 seals set in its compact, lightweight, portable body, the Pentax K-30 is built to be weather, dust and cold resistant with proven functionality in sub-freezing temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C). Its exterior has been designed to be both sporty and functional for active outdoor photographers – a large grip provides a firm, secure hold of the camera; a low-profile pentaprism housing for reduced height; and a rounded, soft-rubber casing for a solid grip of the camera during vertical shooting.

    Newly developed SAFOX IXi+ Autofocus (AF) module for improved autofocus performance
    The Pentax K-30 features the new state-of-the-art SAFOX IXi+ AF sensor module, which assures responsive, high-precision autofocus operation by incorporating a diffraction lens to minimize chromatic aberration in accordance to the characteristics of each individual lens. A dedicated sensor also factors the light source into its calculations at the time of shooting. Additionally, 9 of its 11 focus points have cross-type sensors to capture subjects in sharp focus, while a spotbeam assists the AF system during low light situations. The Pentax K-30’s AF algorithm has also been upgraded in all areas for efficiency and accuracy. A new expanded area AF function allows the sensor module to continue to track a moving subject in AF select mode, even when it moves out of a pre-assigned auto-tracking area, by assessing distance data collected by neighboring focus sensors. This greatly improves the accuracy and speed of detecting moving subjects during autofocus shooting, and autofocusing performance when using a telephoto lens.

    High resolution, low noise, true-to-life image reproduction
    The Pentax K-30 incorporates the latest 16 megapixel APS-C sized CMOS image sensor with a large image-capturing area measuring 23.7mm by 15.7mm. It assures high speed image data readout to deliver super high resolution, rich gradation digital images with approximately 16.28 effective megapixels. This image sensor is coupled in the Pentax K-30 with the PENTAX “PRIME M” imaging engine for outstanding full 1080p HD movie clips (1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second), in addition to outstanding still image capture processing. The camera also minimizes luminance noise at low sensitivities, while offering a wide sensitivity range between ISO 100 and ISO 12800 (ISO 25600 maximum when expanded via a custom function).

    Optical finder with 100% field of view
    Despite its compact body, which is smaller and lighter than traditional mid level DSLR camera models, the Pentax K-30 comes equipped with a glass pentaprism finder featuring a 100% field of view and approximately 0.92X maximum magnification (with a 50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity) to cover the entire field of view for easy focusing and framing. Since its viewfinder delivers a clear view of the subject even in the brightest sunshine while also eliminating parallax, the Pentax K-30 responds efficiently and reliably to demanding applications and subjects, such as landscapes requiring delicate, high-precision framing, and sports scenes where the timing of shutter release is critical. The K-30 also accepts interchangeable PENTAX Natural-Bright-Matte III focusing screens to facilitate manual focusing operation. Optional focus screens include cross-lined and scale types, to accommodate more specialized applications.

    High-speed burst shooting at approximately six images per second
    When photographing sporting events, concerts or wildlife, the K-30’s high-speed burst shooting function comes in handy, allowing the photographer to capture active, fast moving subjects in a series of images at a maximum speed of approximately 6 frames per second (in JPEG format).

    Advanced Live View shooting
    Thanks to the latest CMOS image sensor and PRIME M engine, the Pentax K-30 offers a clear, true-to-life Live View at a smooth 60 frames per second. It also features a focus peaking function during live view to improve manual focusing speed and accuracy. Live View on the Pentax K-30 also offers a choice of three grid display patterns including a Golden Section overlay, and detailed information overlay if desired by the photographer.

    High quality video recording
    The PENTAX K-30 features full HD video recording to capture high quality movie clips in 1080p resolution (1920x1080 pixels). The efficient h.264 compression format offers a choice of frame rates (30, 25 or 24 frames per second) at 1080p, or up to 60 FPS at 720p, to accommodate user specific applications. Video recording options are flexible, allowing the photographer to select aperture or shutter exposure control, while PENTAX Shake Reduction helps stabilize captured video. Users may add creative artistic effects to recorded clips using various Custom Image modes or record subjects in a series of video clips with the Interval Movie Shooting mode.

    User friendly Auto Picture and Scene modes
    The K-30 features the PENTAX-original Auto Picture mode, which analyzes a scene then automatically selects the most appropriate shooting mode from Portrait, Landscape, Macro as well as others. This allows the photographer to concentrate on image composition and other creative elements while leaving more technical settings to the K-30, such as shutter speed, aperture, white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpness. The Pentax K-30 also offers 19 creative Scene modes, including Night Scene Portrait, Pet, Backlight Silhouette, and more, to simplify photographing unique subjects and scenes that often require uncommon camera settings.

    PENTAX Shake Reduction (SR) mechanism for sharp, blur free images
    The PENTAX K-30 incorporates the PENTAX-developed SR mechanism, which effectively reduces blur due to camera shake by approximately four shutter steps. Usable with all PENTAX compatible lenses*, including those produced for film format SLR cameras, this mechanism produces sharp, blur free images even under demanding conditions that are prone to camera shake, such as when using a telephoto lens, shooting in the dark without flash illumination, or capturing landscapes in twilight. The K-30's SR system also offers several other useful features to assist the photographer during shooting, including an Automatic Horizon Correction function to assure high precision image framing and effortless adjustment of horizontal alignment, a Composition Adjustment function to allow minute adjustments of image alignment horizontally/vertically/axially, and an ASTROTRACER mode to eliminate light trails during astronomical photography in combination with the optional O-GPS1 GPS Unit (available separately).
    * Lenses compatible with this mechanism: PENTAX K-, KA-, KAF-, KAF2- and KAF3-mount lenses; screw-mount lenses (with an adapter); and 645- and 67-system lenses (with an adapter). Some functions may not be available with certain lenses.

    A selection of image processing tools for creative, personalized expression
    The K-30 features a Custom Image function, which allows the user to easily and quickly select the desired finishing touch for a particular image. Choose from 11 custom settings including Bleach Bypass that creates a dramatic visual effect similar to that used in motion pictures, and Cross Process to produce fanciful, eye-catching images boasting dramatic colors. The K-30 also offers a choice of 19 creative digital filters including Miniature, which transforms an actual scene into what appears to be an image of miniature models. These filters add distinctive visual effects to captured images producing creative, artistic images without the need for a computer. The user can further expand the creative possibilities by applying multiple filters and processing modes to a single image.

    Choice of two power sources
    In addition to the included lithium ion battery capable of capturing approximately 480 images with a single charge**, the K-30 can also be powered by four AA-size batteries using the optional D-BH109 AA Battery Holder. Since AA batteries can be easily obtained almost anywhere around the world, there’s no worry about battery shortages, even when shooting for an extended period of time or in remote locations.
    ** Under testing conditions prescribed by PENTAX, using the D-LI109 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery with no flash discharges.

    Additional features include:
    • Large, wide angle viewable 3-inch LCD monitor with approximately 921,000 dots of resolution
    • 77 segment multi-pattern metering system for accurate light measurement
    • DR (Dust Removal) mechanism to shake dust off from the surface of the CMOS image sensor
    • PENTAX-designed Hyper control system to assure fast and flexible response to the photographer’s creative intentions
    • Dynamic range expansion function to compensate for blown out (overexposed) and muddy (underexposed) areas of an image
    • Retrieve and save RAW data from buffer memory for a just-recorded JPEG image
    • RAW/Fx multi-function button for on-the-fly switching of image file formats, as well as for assignment and instant recall of other specific functions
    • SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.0 for PENTAX (RAW processing engine developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory) included

    The new PENTAX K-30 will be available in July 2012 with a suggested retail price of $849.95 for body only, and $899.95 for the kit including the DA L 18-55mm zoom lens.

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera Flash Up

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera Top

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera Back

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera Right Side

    Pentax K-30 Digital SLR Camera Left Side

    Pentax Introduces SMC DA 50MM F/1.8 Lens

    Compact, lightweight autofocus lens designed exclusively for PENTAX K-Mount interchangeable-lens digital cameras

    Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8 Lens

    Denver, CO (May 21, 2012) – PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION announces the introduction of its new smc PENTAX-DA 50mm f/1.8 medium-telephoto autofocus lens, which is designed exclusively for use with the company’s K-mount interchangeable-lens (ILC) digital cameras. Thanks to state-of-the-art optical design technology from PENTAX, the lens’ image coverage is optimized for PENTAX K-mount ILC cameras to deliver sharp, clear images from edge to edge. With a sleek, modern look and a lightweight body, the new PENTAX-DA 50mm f/1.8 lens was designed with versatility and flexibility in mind and is ideal for photographers of varying levels, from amateurs to professionals.

    “The new PENTAX-DA 50mm f/1.8 lens is ideal for photographers interested in portraiture and general photography,” explains John Carlson, Sr., Manager of Sales and Marketing, PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION. “The lens measures just 1.5 inches long and weighs only 4.3 ounces, making it small enough and light enough to accompany photographers on all kinds of outings.”

    When mounted on a PENTAX K-mount ILC camera body, the PENTAX-DA 50mm f/F1.8 lens delivers a focal length of 50mm or 76.5mm in the 35mm format. The lens’ f/1.8 maximum aperture and round diaphragm blades enable it to produce a natural “bokeh” (out-of-focus) effect, which gives the blurry elements in an image a softer, rounded and more pleasing appearance. Additionally, the f/1.8 aperture makes it possible to increase camera shutter speed when photographing in poorly lit conditions, which minimizes camera shake and helps eliminate blur.

    For extra preventative measures, the front surface of the PENTAX-DA 50mm f/1.8 lens is treated with the company’s original SP (Super Protect) coating, which repels dust, water, grease, and other substances that may adhere to the surface of the lens. The protective coating promotes trouble-free use in all kinds of shooting situations.

    The PENTAX-DA 50mm f/1.8 lens will be available July 2012 with a retail price of $249.95.

  • Sony Introduces SLT-A37 Digital SLR, NEX-F3 Mirrorless Camera, and Two New Lenses

    Sony Introduces Speedy α37 Camera with Full-time Continuous AF Powered by Translucent Mirror Technology

    Sony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera

    New Model Features High-Quality 16.1MP APS-C Image Sensor, up to 7 fps Shooting, High- Resolution Electronic Viewfinder and more

    SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2012 – Lightweight, easy to use and packed with a variety of useful features, the new Sony SLT-A37 camera is an ideal choice for consumers eager to explore the world of interchangeable lens DSLR photography.

    The new Sony α37 digital SLR camera is the latest to feature Sony’s acclaimed Translucent Mirror Technology, which delivers a potent combination of fast shooting, non-stop phase detection autofocus and continuous live image preview during still and full HD video (60i/24p) shooting.  This innovative technology also allows the new Sony α37 camera to grab split-second action with a burst of sharply focused images.  Shots can be captured at up to seven frames per second in Tele-Zoom High Speed Shooting Mode, where the central portion of the sensor’s image is magnified by approximately 1.4x.

    The Sony a37 camera has a precision 3-cross 15-point AF system with tracking autofocus that keeps faces and fast-moving subjects in sharp focus.  From action-packed sports to spontaneous family portraits, it will ensure that all the drama and beauty of that special moment is captured.

    “Delivering lightning-fast shooting speeds and autofocus plus advanced full HD video capture, our innovative Translucent Mirror Technology continues to serve as the backbone of our A-mount line of cameras,” said Mike Kahn, director of the Alpha business at Sony.  “Featuring this unique technology plus a host of exciting new features and an attractive price tag, our new α37 camera brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘entry level DSLR’.”

    Framing and focusing is easy with the Sony a37 camera’s high-resolution Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder.  With a high 1440k dot resolution, excellent contrast and 100% field of view, it matches or exceeds the abilities of many optical viewfinders.  Adjustments to exposure and other creative picture settings can be previewed in real time, either via the Tru-Finder™ EVF or the tilt-angle 6.7 cm (2.7") Clear Photo™ LCD screen, making it easy to create shots with a customized, professional finish.

    Additionally, the Sony α37 camera helps inexperienced photographers create top-quality portraits with ease.  The new Auto Portrait Framing mode identifies the subject’s position in a composed image and follows the “rule of thirds” to trim the scene and create a beautifully framed portrait.  The cropped photo is then boosted to full resolution using Sony’s unique By Pixel Super Resolution technology, which uses pattern matching to maintain superb image detail, tones and textures in the photo.   Both the original and cropped image files are saved for review.

    By Pixel Super Resolution Technology is also used for the “Clear Image Zoom” feature, which digitally doubles the effective magnification of any lens attached to the camera. Ideal for travel and everyday shooting, it’s a great way to boost maximum focal length without carrying extra hardware.

    The 16.1 effective megapixel Exmor® APS HD CMOS sensor inside the Sony α37 camera captures finely detailed, low noise stills and Full HD video. It’s teamed with the latest BIONZ® image processor that extends sensitivity to an ISO 100-16000 range, broadening options for low-light shooting without flash.  Shared with all α A-mount cameras, SteadyShot INSIDE™ stabilization cuts the effects of camera shake by up to 4.0 stops for clearer handheld images with any A-mount lens.

    The new Sony α37 camera also features Superior Auto Mode, which intelligently recognizes a wide range of scenes and subjects and adjusts settings automatically.

    The new Sony α37 digital camera will be available this June with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens (model SEL1855) for about $600.

    Sony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera Front

    Sony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera RearSony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera Lens Mount

    Sony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera Top

    Sony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera Left SideSony Alpha SLT-A37 Digital SLR Camera Right Side

    New Sony A-Mount 18-135mm Telephoto Zoom Lens (SAL18135)

    Sony SAL18135 A-Mount 18-135mm Lens

    A versatile match for the Sony α37 and other Sony A-mount camera bodies, the new SAL18135 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 telephoto zoom lens offers a generous 8x (approx.) zoom range in a compact, go-anywhere lens that’s great for travel, street photography and everyday shooting.  The lens features a SAM design that assures smooth, rapid, whisper-quiet autofocus operation and Direct Manual Focus for accurate fine-tuning of focus.  This sharp telephoto zoom lens will also be offered as a kit lens with the Sony α37 and other Sony A-mount camera bodies.

    The new Sony SAL18135 telephoto zoom lens will be available as a stand-alone product this July for about $500, and will be offered as a kit lens with other Sony A-mount cameras beginning this August.

    Sony’s New α (Alpha) NEX-F3 Camera Packs DSLR-Size Sensor and Advanced Feature Set into Small, Stylish Body

    Sony NEX-F3 Mirrorless Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera

    Lightweight Model Features 16.1 Megapixel APS-C Sensor, 180° Tiltable LCD, Built-in Flash, Auto Portrait Framing and more

    SAN DIEGO, May 16, 2012 – Sony’s α NEX-F3 digital camera delivers professional quality photos with a compact, pocket-sized body, allowing consumers to explore the creative world of high-quality, interchangeable lens photography in a refreshingly fun and entertaining way.

    The new Sony NEX-F3 camera features the same space-saving mirrorless design as other models in Sony’s E-mount family as well as an advanced, 16.1 effective megapixel Exmor™ APS HD CMOS sensor, identical in size to sensors found in traditional DSLR cameras.   The large sensor of the Sony NEX-F3 takes in more light during image capture, resulting in flawless, low-noise photographs and crisply detailed Full HD videos (60i/24p).  Photographers can also easily create images with beautiful defocus effects, where the subject is focused sharply against a smoothly blurred background.

    “Sony continues to redefine digital photography with our E-mount series, packing a large APS-C size sensor into a small, lightweight camera body to produce professional-quality images with ease,” said Mike Kahn, director of the Alpha business at Sony.  “Featuring a diverse set of imaging technologies and offered at a great price, the new Sony NEX-F3 model reinforces our commitment to this rapidly growing compact system camera market."

    The Sony NEX-F3 camera adds a whole new perspective to self-portraits with a 180° Tiltable LCD screen, a first for Sony’s E-mount camera line.  By simply holding the camera at arm’s length and flipping the LCD screen vertically, users can adjust the on-screen preview image and properly frame photos.

    Additionally, the new model features a useful built-in flash to broaden shooting options indoors or in low light situations.  Already introduced on Sony’s acclaimed NEX-7 camera, this pop-up flash handily brightens portraits and other shots without the need to carry an additional flash accessory.

    The new Sony NEX-F3 camera also includes the new Auto Portrait Framing feature for creating top-quality portraits quickly and easily.   This innovative feature identifies a subject’s position in a composed image, and follows the “rule of thirds” to trim the scene appropriately around the subject’s face, creating a beautifully composed portrait.  The cropped portrait is then boosted to full resolution using Sony’s unique By Pixel Super Resolution technology, which uses pattern matching to maintain superb image detail, tones and textures in the photo.   Both the original and cropped image files are saved for review.

    By Pixel Super Resolution Technology is also used for the “Clear Image Zoom” feature, which digitally doubles the effective magnification of any lens attached to the camera. Ideal for travel and everyday shooting, it’s a great way to boost maximum focal length without carrying extra hardware.

    Other convenient essentials added to the new Sony NEX-F3 camera include the Superior Auto mode,  which intelligently recognizes a wide range of scenes and subjects and adjusts settings automatically. Battery stamina has been boosted to an industry-leading 470 shots (approx.) on a single charge – an approximate 18% improvement over its predecessor, the NEX-C3 model.

    The camera is compatible with the FDA-EV1S viewfinder accessory (sold separately), which offers a high-contrast, high-resolution OLED viewfinder display and a wide viewing angle.  The Sony NEX-F3 model also features a high-quality, premium-feel grip for more comfortable handling and can be charged via either USB or a standard AC outlet.

    The new NEX-F3 compact digital camera will be available this June in silver, black and white with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens (model SEL1855) for about $600.

    Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Mirrorless Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera Front

    Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Mirrorless Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera Back

    Sony Alpha NEX-F3 Mirrorless Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera Lifestyle

    New Lightweight 18-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens for Sony α (Alpha) NEX (SEL18200LE)

    Sony SEL18200LE 18-200mm E-Mount Lens

    An ideal travel partner for the Sony NEX-F3 camera, the new Sony SEL18200LE E-mount 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS LE telezoom lens offers a powerful 11x zoom range and superb resolution in an easy-to-carry package.  Smaller and 12% lighter than the SEL18200 lens, the new E-mount model features Optical SteadyShot to compensate for the effects of hand-shake.  It also features Direct Manual Focus to give users precise control over focus settings, resulting in crisp, beautiful images.

    The new SEL18200LE telezoom lens will be available this July in black for about $850.

  • Leica Announces 5 New Products

    On May 10, 2012 Leica introduced 5 new products: The M Monochrom, X2, APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH lens, S-Adapter H, and the V-LUX 40. Scroll down for detailed information regarding each of these products, including pricing and availability.

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Rangefinder

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera Front

    With the M Monochrom, Leica introduces the worlds first full-frame black and white digital camera. Featuring a black and white sensor, the camera produces images in a sharpness and brilliance never before attained and barely distinguishable from other M cameras with the model name discretely engraved on the hot shoe.

    Key Features of the Leica M Monochrom:

    • Newly developed monochrome CCD sensor with a native resolution of 18 million pixels
    • 100% sharper imaging thanks to direct processing of raw data with no interpolation
    • Extremely low, fine-grain image noise up to ISO 10,000
    • Raw data histogram and parameter clipping warning
    • Various tones programmable
    • Top cover and bottom plate in black chrome finish
    • New leatherette body covering
    • All-cowhide carrying strap
    • Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 software supplied in addition to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
    • Exclusive access to the Leica Monochrom Print Service in cooperation with Whitewall
    • Original fiber barite print of a Magnum photo from the Leica M Monochrom campaign by J.A. Sobol supplied

    Newly developed monochrome CCD sensor with a native resolution of 18 Million Pixel.
    With its full, native resolution of 18 megapixels, the Leica M Monochrom delivers 100 % sharper images than with color sensors. The fact that its sensor does not "see" color means real brightness values are available for each individual pixel. That is to say, the sensor of the M Monochrom produces a "genuine" black-and-white image directly. In combination with the brilliant imaging performance of Leica lenses and the perfect matching of the sensor to the M system, this creates pictures of outstanding sharpness and natural brilliance, with no need to sharpen the image in post-processing. The result is incomparable picture quality, such as would normally only be expected of a medium-format camera. The impressively low noise level of the monochrome CCD sensor delivers an extremely fine-grained image, which is not perceived as disturbing even at the highest ISO settings.

    The Leica M Monochrom will retail for $7950, and Leica estimates it will be available August 2012.

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera Top

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera Back

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera Left

    Leica M Monochrom Black and White Digital Camera Right

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera in Black and Silver

    The Leica X2 is Leica's latest development of the popular, high-end compact X system and features the latest sensor technology in combination with a fast 35mm Leica Elmarit lens.

    Key Features of the Leica X2:

    • Newly developed APS-C CMOS Sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1 MP
    • Leica Elmarit 1;2.8/24 mm ASPH (35 mm equivalent: 35 mm)
    • Simple operation and manual adjustment possibilities
    • High quality materials
    • Connection for high resolution electronic viewfinder for new photographic perspectives
    • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, the comprehensive solution for modern digital photography
    • Made in Germany

    New developed APS-C CMOS Sensor with an effective Resolution of 16.1 Mega-Pixel
    The CMOS image sensor of the Leica X2 in APS-C format is unusually large for such a compact camera. The result: extremely low image noise, high dynamic range, and accurate color differentiation. The combination of an exceedingly large sensor and high-performance lens sets new standards in image quality in the compact camera category. And this is where the Leica X2 shows its true greatness.

    Classic Focal Length: Leica Elmarit 1:2.8/24 mm ASPH (35mm equivalent)
    Countless iconic images in the history or photography were shot with a focal length of 35 mm – the classic lens for photojournalism. The Leica Elmarit 24 mm/f2.8 ASPH lens is equivalent to this famous focal length in 35 mm film format, with its superb optical performance opens up a broad vista of potential uses.

    Precise Auto Focus
    The Leica X2’S fast, new autofocus feature enables extremely precise and virtually silent focusing. Perfect for situations where spontaneous reactions are essential to capture the right moment. It adapts flexibly to the situation in hand, for example, with a choice AF focusing segments or face recognition. This allows the photographer to concentrate exclusively on their subject.

    Key Differences between the Leica X2 and Leica X1

    • Newly developed sensor which provides high image quality especially at low light and optimized auto focus speed.
    • Connection for high resolution electronic viewfinder.
    • New touch and feel of the operating elements, new leather trim and surfaces.
    • New pop-up flash with latch trip.
    • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, latest version.

    The Leica X2 will retail for $1995 and will be available in both black and silver, and Leica estimates it will be available at the end of May 2012.

    The Leica X2 electronic viewfinder will retail for $529.

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera Front

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera Back

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera Left

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera Right

    Leica X2 Compact Digital Camera Top

    Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH Lens

    Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH Lens

    With the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens, Leica engineers have pushed the boundaries of what is technically feasible to set a new benchmark in imaging. The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH was designed like all Leica lenses with the aim of maximizing both contrast and detail even at full aperture. That aim is met in an incomparable manner. The latest milestone in the history of the M-system delivers previously unattained performance levels in terms of all technical parameters. The MTF curves, which describe the sharpness of the image, remain all the way to the edges, even with the aperture open, over 50% contrast. This level of performance has never been achieved previously and demonstrates the exceptional quality of the lens. This allows extremely sharp imaging in all scenarios, with optimal definition right into the corners, even for close-ups.

    This lens has an apochromatic correction feature which is a highly complex and sophisticated method of color error correction. It minimizes color fringing at sharp edges, so ensuring that all details are naturally depicted. This is achieved, among other means, by skilfully integrating glasses with anomalous partial dispersion into the lens design. All these qualities allow photographers to get the best possible image quality, especially for large prints.

    The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH particularly in combination with high-resolution cameras such as the new Leica M Monochrom will offer photographers the opportunity to produce fine-art photography of a quality never before attained.

    Key Features of the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH Lens:

    • High speed standard lens delivering outstanding imaging performance
    • Supremely soft rendering of blurred image areas (Bokeh)
    • Integrated lens hood, extendable by rotating
    • Product package includes milled brass lens front cap
    • Exclusive presentation packaging box

    The Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens will retail for $7195, and Leica estimates it will be available August 2012.

    Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH Lens Top

    Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH Lens Front

    Leica S-Adapter H

    Leica S-Adapter H

    The Leica S-Adapter H allows Leica S2 customers to use Hasselblad H-System lenses with the S2 or S2-P. This adapter allows the following functions:

    • Autofocus and manual focusing with focus indication
    • Automatic diaphragm
    • Central shutter upto 1/750s

    The Leica S-Adapter H will allow Hasselblad lenses to have an extended scope of application with the S-camera due to the integrated focal plane shutter of the camera body. This will allow the photographer to shoot with the Hasselblad lenses, as well as, with central shutter or without central shutter by using upto 1/4000s with the focal plane shutter of the camera.

    The Leica S-Adapter H supports the following H-system lenses:

    • HCD 4 / 28 mm
    • HC 3.5 / 35 mm
    • HC 3.5 / 50 mm II
    • HC 2.8 / 80 mm
    • HC 2.2 / 100 mm
    • HC macro 4 / 120 mm II
    • HC 3.2 / 150 mm
    • HC 4 / 210 mm
    • HC 4.5 / 300 mm
    • HCD 4-5.6 / 35 – 90 mm
    • HC 3.5-4.5 / 50 – 110 mm

    The Leica S-Adapter H does not support the following components: HTS 1.5 Tilt/Shiftconverter, Converter H 1.7x, Extension tubes H13, H26 and H52 and H-System CF-Adapter.

    The Leica S-Adapter H will retail for $1950, and Leica estimates it will be available at the end of May 2012.

    Leica S-Adapter H mounted on S2 with Hasselblad Lens

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera

    Leica is pleased to introduce the 14.1 MP Leica V-LUX 40 to their fine range of compact digital cameras. Boasting a high-performance 20X super-zoom lens with focal
    length range of 24 to 480 mm, the Leica V-LUX 40 is ideal for almost any photographic situation.

    Key Features of the Leica V-LUX 40:

    • Leica DC-Vario-Elmar 4.3 – 86 mm / f 3.3 – 6.4 ASPH ( 24 – 480 mm equivalent) zoom lens
    • Newly developed 14.1 MP 1 / 2.23“ CMOS sensor
    • Simple and intuitive handling, plus manual setting options for more ambitious users
    • Fast burst shooting and 3-D photo feature
    • 3“ touch screen display with a resolution of 460, 000 pixels
    • 1080 p-AVCHD full HD video and internet friendly MP4 storage format
    • GPS module for the registration of geographical data for the location of every shot including detailed maps on separate DVD
    • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 10 – the software package for image and video processing, archiving and display.

    Leica DC-Vario Elmar 4.3 – 86 mm / 3.3 – 6.4 ASPH (24 – 480 mm equivalent) Lens
    The new Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens with an enormous focal length of 24 mm super wide angle to 480 mm super tele zoom for photo and video, the V-LUX 40 is prepared for nearly all photographic situations. High precision aspherical elements and an optical image stablizer are incorporated to guarantee outstanding imaging performance.

    Newly developed CMOS Image Sensor with an effective resolution of 14.1 MP
    The new 1 / 2.33“ CMOS image sensor in the Leica V-LUX 40 captures 15.3 megapixels (14.1 MP effective) to ensure excellent picture quality. It enables a higher dynamic range as well as particularly noise-free images at sensitivities up to ISO 3200. In comparison with its predecessor, the Leica V-LUX 40 now offers significantly improved image quality, even in low light conditions. In addition to this, its autofocus speed of 0.1 seconds allows even faster focusing on moving subjects.

    Videos in full HD-quality
    Full-HD videos capturedby the V-LUX 40 impress with their perfect rendition of the finest details, even with fast-moving subjects. This is made possible by recording in AVCHD format at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 50 full frames per second. Another new feature is that videos can now be saved in Internet-friendly MP4 format and be uploaded directly to social media or mobile devices, for example, without any need for conversion. Outstanding audio quality is ensured by an integrated stereo microphone with a built-in wind-noise filter.

    Key differences between the V-LUX 40 and the V-LUX 30

    • Newly developed lens – wider zoom range from 24 mm – 480 mm (20x)
    • Newly developed CMOS sensor – Better picture quality even in low light condition
    • Increased AF speed with 0.1 seconds
    • Videos in 1080P (progressive) format for improved video quality and internet friendly MP4 storage format
    • GPS including separate DVD with detailed maps
    • Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Premiere Elements 10

    The Leica V-LUX 40 will retail for $699, and Leica estimates it will be available May 2012.

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera Top

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera Back

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera Left

    Leica V-LUX 40 Compact Digital Camera Right

  • Carl Zeiss presents a new Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Super Wide-Angle Lens

    The new ZEISS Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 opens-up a new world of creative possibilities.

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Lens Side

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Lens

    The super wide angle Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 will be available with a Canon EF (ZE) or Nikon F bayonet (ZF.2). With an extra-large angle of view of 110 degrees in combination with a fast f/2.8 aperture, the lens enables the features for dramatic perspectives and performance demanded by the most ambitious landscape and architectural photographers. With a unique ability to capture events in a natural and extraordinary manner, it is also an ideal companion for advertising, journalism and commercial photography.

    Thanks to the extreme angle of view of the lens, the fore and background can be creatively emphasized in landscape and architecture photography. These applications will also benefit from the large depth-of-field, which provides a wide range of image sharpness from close-up up to infinity. With a close focus of 0.25m (10”) – combined with a wide angle view, photographers can work in tight spaces, while also allowing focus on close-up details. Distortion is extremely well controlled, producing naturally proportioned photographs which are not typical of many other super wide angle lenses. "With the Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8, Carl Zeiss sets the standard in super wide angle photography," says Dr. Michael Pollmann, Consumer Lenses Program Manager in the Camera Lens Division of Carl Zeiss AG. "Even at full aperture it achieves outstanding detail rendition and opens up room for extremely imaginative design."

    The Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 incorporates two aspheric lenses and special types of glass material with abnormal partial dispersion to provide an extraordinary correction of chromatic aberration. A floating elements design guarantees high image quality from close-focus through infinity. Like the other SLR lenses in the ZE and ZF.2 series, stray light and reflections are well controlled by the Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating and the sophisticated treatment of the lens element edges with special light absorbing paint.

    The robust all-metal barrel of the Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 is designed for decades of reliable service. A long focus rotation and buttery-smooth action is perfect for photographers who want to take control of their picture making, as well as for filmmakers looking for superior focus control. A nine blade aperture provides a nearly circular opening, producing natural looking out of focus details.

    The lens shade is integrated into the design and helps to protect the lens surface from unintentional damage. The 95mm filter thread accepts all standard filters, including the recently released Carl Zeiss T* UV and POL filters.

    The lens will begin shipping in May 2012 at a recommended retail price of $2,950 USD.

    Sample images taken with the Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 lens can be found here.

    Technical data

    Focal length                                          15 mm

    Aperture range                                       f/2.8 -22

    Number of lens elements/groups     15/12

    Focusing range:                                     0.25m – infinity

    Angular field** (diag./horiz./vert.)             110°/ 100°/ 76°

    Coverage at close range**                      340 x 221 mm (close-up)

    Image ratio at close range                      1:9 (close-up)

    Filter thread                                           95mm x 1.0

    Length with caps                          132 mm (ZF.2), 135 mm (ZE)

    Diameter                                               103 mm (ZF.2), 103 mm (ZE)

    Weight                                              730 g (ZF.2), 820 g (ZE)

    Mounts                                                 ZF.2 (F bayonet), ZE (EF bayonet)

    ** Based on 35 mm format

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Lens with Filter

    With Filter In Use

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Slip-On Lens Cap

    Slip-On Lens Cap

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Lens Front View

    ZE Front View

    Zeiss Distagon T* 15mm f/2.8 Lens Rear View

    ZE Rear View

  • A Common Cause for the Nikon "FEE" Error

    We sell a lot of used lenses over at our used equipment website: Most of the lenses we sell are for either Canon or Nikon. We usually get more questions regarding Nikon lenses, however. In 1987, Canon introduced auto focus cameras and lenses, and switched the then FD lens mount to EF (electro-focus). The manual focus, FD lenses were no longer compatible with new, auto focus camera bodies. The mounts were completely different. It is possible to use FD lenses on an EF camera body, but an adapter is required, and infinity focus is only achieved with the presence of a corrective glass element.

    Canon FD Mount

    Canon FD Mount (courtesy Wikipedia)

    Canon EF Mount

    Canon EF Mount (courtesy of Wikipedia)

    Nikon maintained the same physical mount during the switch from manual to auto focus, however, so things are not so cut-and-dry as with Canon. This creates a bit more confusion among Nikon shooters because they often wonder about the compatibility of older lenses with newer bodies, or newer lenses with older bodies. Many of Nikon's more modern lenses (AF lenses) include a manual aperture ring. Most of Nikon's even more recent lenses, and Canon EF lenses, do not include a manual aperture ring. In this case, the aperture may only be controlled electronically by the camera body.

    If you have a Nikon lens and you are trying to use it on a more modern Nikon camera body, you may just run into the camera displaying an "FEE" error. This error is stating that the camera and the lens are not happy with each other. Essentially, the camera and lens aren't "communicating". If the lens is an auto focus (or "chipped") lens with a manual aperture ring, you may not be out-of-luck. Most likely you need to simply change the aperture to the smallest (largest number) value. This is often designated by being colored orange. Once the aperture is set to the smallest value, the camera is able to control the aperture electronically and everything is happy again.  Note that you cannot use the lens if you change the aperture manually from the smallest value. The aperture must be controlled using the camera's functions, and it must be physically set to the smallest value with the manual aperture ring in order for this to be possible.

    In order to see what we are describing, we made a quick video (see below). In the video you can see that the camera "locks" up when any aperture other than the smallest value is used.

  • Update: Availability of Sony A77, A65, NEX-5N, NEX-7 and New Lenses

    As noted in our previous post comparing the features of the Sony A77 and Sony A65, we have received a lot of interest in the new Sony cameras and lenses that were recently announced: Sony A77, A65, NEX-5N, NEX-7, SAL1650, SEL24F18Z, SEL50F18, and the SEL55210. A lot of the interest has been a curiosity in when these new products will be made available. We were able to get a release schedule from Sony, and we are providing this information here. Each item links to our website where you will be able to purchase the items when we receive them in stock. If you would like to pre-order an item to be one of the first to receive the product, please contact us at, or (802) 244-0883. All pre-orders are first come, first serve. We currently have all of these products on order with Sony, and will therefore be part of the first shipments as the products are released.

    Release Schedule for Sony A77, A65, NEX-5N, NEX-7, and New Lenses

    Sony NEX-5N Body Only (Black) First Week of September
    Sony NEX-5N 18-55mm Lens Kit (Black) First Week of September
    Sony NEX-5N 18-55mm Lens Kit (Silver) First Week of September
    Sony Alpha SLT-A65 Body Only Mid-to-Late October
    Sony Alpha SLT-A65 18-55mm Lens Kit Mid-to-Late October
    Sony Alpha SLT-A77 Body Only Mid-to-Late October
    Sony Alpha SLT-A77 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens Kit Mid-to-Late October
    Sony NEX-7 Body Only Early November
    Sony NEX-7 18-55mm Lens Kit Early November
    Sony DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM Lens (SAL1650) Early November
    Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 Lens (SEL24F18Z) Early December
    Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (SEL50F18) Mid December
    Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS Lens (SEL55210) Mid-to-Late October
  • First Look at the New Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 IIR MSC Lens

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom Lens (Silver)

    Today we received our first shipment of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 IIR (2R) MSC lens. We received them in both black and silver. We were curious to see how the lens looked and felt compared to the previous version (II, non-R). So, we decided to place the two lenses next to each other and take a couple pictures. What we quickly discovered is that both lenses are essentially identical in size. After the photo shoot we even gave them a quick weighing and found them to be essentially identical in weight too, both weighing in at approximately 110-112g.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom Lens

    As mentioned, and as you can see, the two lenses are approximately the same height when collapsed. The newer lens (on the left), does appear to be a little bit taller, but this is just an optical illusion. There is actually a cosmetic cap that covers the bayonet mount, where you can add a dedicated lens hood (not included). We like this cap. We think it keeps things looking really clean. The only problem we can foresee is, what do you do with it when you use the dedicated hood? Seems like a piece that can get easily lost...

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom Lens

    Here is the lens with that cover removed (don't lose it!). Just a simple bayonet mount under there.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom LensEven with the lenses fully extended, both are essentially the same size.  Here you can see that both lenses are fully extended to 42mm.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom Lens

    Here's a top view of both lenses next to each other. Everything looks pretty much identical. The new lens still uses a 37mm filter. At this angle you can see how that cover we've been talking about really makes the lens look sleek and clean.

    You might now be wondering, what does the lens look like on camera? Well, here it is on an E-PL2.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 14-42MM f/3.5-5.6 2R MSC Zoom Lens

    Looks pretty good, but not as good as on the E-P3. The E-P3 and E-PL3 are definitely designed with this lens in mind. The silver of this lens, as you may have already noticed, is different in shade than the silver of the previous version lens. It is a darker shade, and so it doesn't match the shade of the silver E-PL2 as well.

    Finally, it looks nice, but how does it feel? The lens feels good, but you can definitely feel the difference in the gnarling of the grip around the zoom and focus. The grip doesn't feel as "catchy" as the previous version. Having said that, we didn't have any problem with our fingers slipping while on the grip. We did notice, to our surprise, a big improvement in the feel of the manual focus. The manual focus ring felt better dampened. Whereas, with the previous version, the manual focus felt loose and airy, the manual focus of the newer version lens feels tighter and more firm.

  • A Review of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    We have to honest. Any time there is an announcement for a fixed-focal length, fast-aperture lens, we get pretty excited. Actually, that is a lie. We get VERY excited. When Olympus announced the 12mm f/2.0 and the 45mm f/1.8 we were happy for the micro four thirds market. Now that there are some years behind the mFT movement, and there are many individuals who have become entrenched in the system, it is great to see some serious additions from Olympus. That is not to say lenses like the 17mm f/2.8 or the 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 are not serious, but these lenses simply feel necessary, unlike the 12mm f/2.0, which took a lot of people by surprise with its announcement. In addition, the physical design of the lens looks like more effort was put into thinking about its look, feel, and use.

    We have heard some people say differently, but we think the 12mm f/2.0 looks great. The compact, clean, and metallic design complements the PEN cameras brilliantly. In addition, the 12mm f/2.0 is extremely light weight at a mere 130g. Normally we are a little hesitant with light lenses. Typically when you feel a light lens in your hand, it feels cheap. And, in our experience, that is usually the correct assumption. A lot of plastic is substituted where metal should have been used. In the case of the 12mm f/2.0, although it is very light, it does feel very solid. It may use a lot of plastic (we aren't sure, but we can see the mount is metal), but it certainly does not feel that way.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Metal Mount of Olympus 12mm f/2.0

    The dimensions of the lens are compact, which is great for use with a mFT camera. The lens does not protrude too much, and the balance feels great in the hands.

    Olympus PEN E-PL2 with 12mm f/2.0

    Olympus PEN E-PL2 with 12mm f/2.0

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Olympus 12mm f/2.0 Next to a Nickel

    One of the really neat things about this lens is the "snap focus" feature. This is one of the reasons why we feel like the 12mm f/2.0 is a more "serious" product for the mFT market, and why we feel like Olympus really put a lot of thought into this lens. In many of the lighter, made-for-digital, and more plastic lenses we have seen, the manual focus is horrible. The manual focus usually feels very loose and "disconnected" from the lens. With the 12mm f/2.0, the focus ring actually snaps from auto to manual focus, just by pulling back (towards the camera) on the focus ring.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Manual Focus Engaged

    Once the manual focus is engaged, a distance scale is revealed, and the focus has a well-dampened movement. The dampening is excellent and reminds us of dedicated manual focus lenses, which is exactly the feel Olympus was trying to recreate. In addition, the manual focus with this lens is extremely easy. Easy in the sense that fine focus just seems to "snap" in to place. It is difficult to describe without seeing or feeling. We did create a short video to highlight the manual focus of the 12mm f/2.0, and we hope it gives you a better idea of how it all works.

    In talking about the manual focus, we should not let it distract us from the autofocus of this lens. The 12mm f/2.0 autofocus is extremely quick for mFT, and it is also extremely quiet, which Olympus attributes to the MSC (movie-still-compatible) mechanism. MSC essentially eludes to the fact that the quiet autofocus will not ruin videos produced with this lens because of annoying autofocus noises being recorded by the camera's internal mic. The fast, quiet autofocus is certainly a big advantage for both stills and video.

    With the compact size, light weight, solid feel, and fast autofocus, this lens was a treat to hold and use. In looking at and feeling the lens, it seemed like it had everything going for it, so we were anxious to take it out for some sample images. As much as we were pleased with the aspects of the 12mm f/2.0 mentioned above, we were thrilled with the image quality. Shot after shot taken with the lens left us impressed with the results. We found the sharpness to be top-notch, the contrast to be, well, contrasty, but not overly so, the chromatic aberrations were a minimum, the distortion was manageable for a 24mm (in 35mm terms) equivalent, and the color and clarity was superb.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensThis was a difficult shot for a lens, but from this image you would not necessarily think it so. Just out of frame in the upper, right-hand corner was the sun. There were no clouds covering the sun, so it was directly approaching the front of the lens, although there were some trees to shield some of its power. I was surprised that the image held up as well as it did without any flaring or overall decrease in contrast.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensThe level of detail retained by this lens is very impressive. You can see how sharp the above image really is from this crop.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensWe liked really liked and appreciated the overall brilliance, clarity, and color produced by this lens. The colors are pleasing, but still realistic to how we remember the scene.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensOlympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensOlympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensWith this image I took some artistic liberty. When I saw this booth, I thought it would be cool if you could see the back and the front at the same time. So, I decided to do just that, and cropped two images and spliced them into one.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensOlympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensThe image of Charlie was taken indoors and so the ISO was higher than some of the other images I took. Although the higher ISO detracts from the overall detail of the image, you can still see that with this lens there is still plenty of detail even when cropped in close.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensOlympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensIn this image taken outdoors with a lower ISO, there is a great amount of detail. You can pick up spots of dirt on the towrope attachment. Also, notice the color of the overall image. You can feel the warmth of the evening light, and the blues are great.

    Inside the studio, we ran some shots using the 12mm f/2.0 on our lens test chart. We were very impressed with the results. The lens was across the board sharp, from the largest f/2.0 aperture down to the smallest available aperture of f/22.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Lowest Right-Hand Corner f/22

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Lowest Right-Hand Corner f/8

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 Lens

    Lowest Right-Hand Corner f/2

    We displayed the images above in reverse order on purpose. Normally you would expect the corner sharpness of a lens to improve as the aperture diaphragm is stopped down. In this case it almost seems like the opposite is true. For an aperture of f/22 it is expected that the sharpness will not be as good as, say, f/8 due to diffraction, so that is a little unfair on our part. But, it is pretty impressive how sharp the 12mm f/2 is at a wide open aperture of f/2. In addition, you can see that the chromatic aberration is pretty well controlled at the corners.

    Distortion for wider angle lenses is typically expected and the 12mm f/2.0 is no exception. The image below shows the barrel distortion caused by this lens.

    Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 LensNotice how the center of the image is closer to the bottom of the frame than either of the edges are.

    If you haven't already concluded, we really like the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 lens designed for the micro four thirds camera system. From its looks, to its usability, to the image quality, this small lens has everything going for it. It does have a price tag that will put it out of reach for some people, and for those who can't afford it, we suggest saving your pennies (as my mother used to say). If you are interested in purchasing this lens, we offer it in our store or on our website here. If you are looking for a fast aperture, wide-angle fixed focal length lens for the mFT system, we just don't see how you can go wrong.

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