Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sigma News: Trio of new lenses and USB Dock

Over at Sigma, they've been busy designing some new lenses and have announced three new ones, outlined below.  Words below from Sigma.

35mm F1.4 DG HSM

Many avid photographers will definitely prefer this 35mm lens to the more conventional 50mm. Using a leading-edge design and state-of-the-art production technology, we've honed its performance to the point where it can do full justice to the expressive power of the very latest digital cameras. At low apertures, for example, it can perform like a wide-angle lens, while if it's opened up to F1.4, it will give the background a pleasing bokeh effect and make the subject pop like a mid-range telephoto lens. What makes this lens so desirable is the wide scope it provides for artistic expression.

17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM

Mainly used for general-purpose photography, this everyday lens covers a range equivalent to 25.5-105mm on a 35mm camera. A large-aperture lens that opens up to F2.8, it's surprisingly compact in size. Great for treasured snapshots of travel or family occasions, it also handles shots that are a little bit more creative. Designed to be the kind of lens you carry around with you all the time, it delivers simplicity and is so user-friendly it's sure to satisfy even the most demanding of users.

 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM

Although high-function digital cameras now deliver improved picture quality at high-ISO settings, adjusting your lens to a large aperture is still the most effective strategy for action shots. And even if you have to take the shots from a less-than-ideal position, as is so often the case when shooting sports or on-stage action, this zoom lens, with its maximum focal length of 300mm, lets you open up the aperture all the way to F2.8. In other words, when conditions are difficult, this high-performance lens gives you more scope to express yourself in the shots you take.

More details here, which also introduces a 'USB dock', for updating firmware, etc. on the lens - an interesting idea to make it available to the end-consumer.

Canon News: EOS 6D DSLR Announced

After the usual speculation, wish-lists and leaked specs, Canon have now confirmed their 'entry-level' full-frame DSLR is called the 6D:

Canon have dropped it between their APS-C (crop) DSLR 7D and their full-frame magnificent 5D Mark III.  Compared the latter, inevitably Canon have kept the specification lower, especially around things which are important to wildlife photographers, like the auto-focus system and frames per second.  On paper at least, it therefore doesn't compare that favourably to the recently launched Nikon D600.

Here is a little more info on the 6D:

  • Full-frame 20.2-megapixel sensor 
  • Tough, lightweight construction 
  • Max ISO 25,600 (expandable to ISO 102,400) 
  • 11-point AF sensitive down to -3EV 
  • GPS* records your location 
  • Wi-Fi** file transfer and remote control 
  • Full-HD video
As you'll notice, a couple of new things are included - Wi-Fi and GPS, features which will inevitably be included in most cameras (from smartphones to professional ones) in the coming 18-24 months.  The Wi-fi option is of potential interest in that it's compatible with a new Android and iOS app which allows the camera to be controlled remotely.  There's more information on that here, (interesting to see a 7D referenced in the screen shots too). 

I'm yet to see official prices for the 6D in the UK, but I believe it will also be available with the 24-105 IS lens, so there's still life in that lens for a while longer!

More details of the 6D can be found here.

Monday, 17 September 2012

BWPA - Highly Commended Image - Deer Rutting

I am pleased to confirm that one of my images has been Highly Commended in the 'Animal Behaviours' category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards - the showcase for Britain's diverse nature and wildlife.

Here's the image in question (see the bottom of this blog for more about how/where/when I took the image):

Deer rutting, BWPA 2012 Animal Behaviours - Highly Commended

It's featured on Page 63 of the excellent hard-back 'coffee table' book, which is available to order from Amazon (and makes for a great Christmas present, as most of my relatives will find out!):

I'm also happy to announce that via Photobox, I'm able to offer the chance for you to buy a print of the images, available in all sorts of sizes and mounted, framed, etc.  Please double- check if you are ordering that the image fits well for the size you'd like, as sometimes the ratio of the print means you lose part of the image:

The image was on display in the Mall Galleries, SW1, alongside lots of the images from the book, including all the well-deserved winning ones

Mall Galleries, showing British Wildlife Photography Awards, 17th Sept 2012

More about the image

Richmond Park, in the South-West of London is one of the most accessible places to see Red Deer in the UK.  Like all wild animals, they need to treated with respect - and in the rutting season in particular, you have to keep a safe distance from them (unlike Fenton).

My day started the night before, when I confirmed that the weather was going to bright and very cold the next morning (good for mist) - then it was time to pack all the gear, charge the batteries and set the alarm for 04:30.

At the time, in October 2011, I was still living in Central London, so I cycled over to Waterloo and got the first train out towards Richmond (Norbiton, in fact).  Whilst pitch black, I was then able to use the pedestrian gate to enter the park - and slowly cycle through the park on the roads.

As the light started to appear, I remember taking this shot en-route to where I eventually locked my bike up and then started walking:

After finding the deer and noting the likely direction they would head and where the sun would appear, it was a case of walking a very wide loop, downwind, ahead of them - and getting below the horizon level...  A group of deer then walked nicely across the light and then when I saw a couple of them starting to rut, after a quick reposition, I managed to get the shot I was happy with.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Nikon News: D600 Full-frame DSLR launched

After a very long line of Canon updates with nothing significant from Nikon, it's time to make amends, as Nikon launches the D600 full-frame D-SLR.

It's specification is impressive:
  • 24.3-megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor with excellent signal-to-noise ratio and wide dynamic range. Delivers richly detailed images with smooth tonal gradations.
  • Highly sensitive autofocus with Multi-CAM4800 39-point AF system: delivers fast and precise coverage across the frame. Sensitive down to -1 EV and compatible up to f/8.
  • ISO 100–6400: extendable up to 25,600 (equivalent) and down to 50 (equivalent). Enables faster shutter speeds for finely detailed images with minimal noise.
  • Multi-area D-Movie records FX- and DX-format Full HD (1080p) movies in 30p, 25p and 24p. Max recording time approx. 29 minutes 59 seconds. Offers uncompressed HDMI output to external devices and high-fidelity audio control.
  • EXPEED 3 image processing engine with 14-bit A/D conversion and 16-bit image processing for superb tonal gradation.
  • HDR (High Dynamic Range): ideal for high-contrast scenes. Takes two shots within a single shutter release to create an image with an extremely wide dynamic range, low noise and rich color gradation.
  • Active D-Lighting: capture more detail in high-contrast lighting conditions. Nikon’s Active D-Lighting automatically retains the details in both dark and bright areas for stunning images with natural contrast.
  • Scene Recognition System: the camera’s image sensor and its 2,016-pixel RGB sensor provide precise data to the Scene Recognition System, which optimizes exposure, autofocus and white balance immediately before the shutter is released for sharply defined images.
  • Time-lapse shooting: use Interval Timer Shooting to trigger the shutter at preset intervals. Use Time Lapse Photography to save images as movie files and view slow action in fast playback, with playback rates from 24 to 36,000 times faster than normal.
  • Picture Controls customize the look of your stills and videos by fine-tuning parameters such as sharpness, saturation, and hue before capture.
  • Precision 8-cm (3.2-in.), 921k-dot, VGA LCD monitor with automatic monitor brightness control. Delivers bright, crisp image playback with a wide color reproduction capacity.
  • High-performance viewfinder with approx. 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification. Offers DX Crop Mode with viewfinder marking.
  • 5.5 fps continuous shooting: capture fast-moving action at five-and-a-half frames per second.
  • Quiet shooting mode: perfect for discreet photography, the sound of the camera’s mirror return mechanism is noticeably reduced.
  • Mirror balancer: minimizes the bounce of the mirror’s down movement, extending viewing time and allowing more time for AF operation—one reason the D600 achieves AF and focus tracking even during high-speed continuous shooting.
  • Compact, light and durable: built to withstand severe conditions, the camera boasts magnesium alloy top and rear covers and weighs only 760 g (without battery). Weather-sealed to the same degree as Nikon’s professional D800 SLR, it offers enhanced resistance to moisture and dust.
  • Dual-axis electronic virtual horizon: you can confirm the camera's position relative to the horizontal plane and its pitch (forward or rear rotation) using the LCD monitor, or the viewfinder.
  • Twin SD card slots: two SD memory card slots offer enhanced shooting flexibility. Use the second card when the first is full, or record stills on one and movies on another. SDXC and UHS-I compatible.
More information available here.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Canon News: EOS 7D revised firmware to 2.0.3

Fresh on the heels of the recent 7D firmware upgrade (a significant, welcome one), Canon have launched a minor update to fix a couple of niggles:
  1. Fixes a phenomenon in which the camera stops working when the auto power off setting takes effect.
  2. Fixes a phenomenon in which the maximum number of images that can be captured in a burst may be less than the actual number displayed in the viewfinder.
  3. Corrects some errors in the message displayed on the LCD screen when saving RAW images developed in the camera (these errors do not appear in the Japanese and Korean language displays).
More information and the download are available from Canon UK here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

British Wildlife Photography Awards 2012

The British Wildlife Photography Awards is a celebration of the diversity and splendour of the UK's wildlife.  The winners of this year's award have just been announced, to coincide with the launch of a 'coffee-table' hardback book:

You can find more about the winning shots here.

Congratulations to all the winners!