Photography News: B&H Summer Deals, L-Mount Alliance Grows

Tips & Techniques

Last week, I worked on something new for me – setting up a small display of my darkroom photos in a local restaurant. Exhibits like this are low-stakes ways to put your photography out into the world. It’s also a nice challenge to choose which photos, sizes, and arrangements work best. If this isn’t something you’ve done before, why not take the time to visit some nearby stores and ask if they show local art? That’s my recommendation for the week. Meanwhile, here’s the biggest news from the photography world that arrived while I was busy making prints.

Stars Over Zion
Printed on 11×14″ Silver Chloride contact printing paper. 11×14 Ilford HP5+ 400 film; 450mm Nikkor Q @ f/11, 2.5 hours

Recent Announcements

  • New L-Mount Members: The L-Mount Alliance – famously started by Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma – has gained two new members. First is Samyang, best known for their low-cost manual-focus lenses but venturing into autofocus in recent years. The other addition is Astrodesign, a video-centric company based in Japan. Is the L mount turning into a juggernaut that will displace Canon, Nikon, and Sony? Probably not, but it’s still getting more and more compelling each year.
  • Viltrox 75mm f/1.2 AF lens for APS-C: For $549, this autofocus-capable lens will be a compelling option for APS-C shooters looking to save money compared to full-frame glass. The lens already existed for Fuji crop-sensor photographers, but it’s about to be available for Nikon Z and Sony E as well. It features an all-metal construction with a dedicated aperture ring, plus a USB-C port for future firmware updates.
  • Zhongyi APO 200mm f/4 Macro: If you need a long working distance as a macro photographer, this 1:1 macro lens from Zhongyi might pique your interest. It’s now available for all the popular lens mounts, although note that this is an all-manual lens with no electronic connections. Manual focus is just fine for macro photography, but the lack of electronic connections is something I find concerning as a macro photographer who frequently shoots at f/22 (dark viewfinder alert). But I wouldn’t write this lens off completely – Zhongyi’s MTF chart looks good, and the price of $499 is compelling.
  • Three Sony Announcements: In case you missed my articles this week, Sony just announced an updated 70-200mm f/4 with 1:2 magnification throughout the zoom range (and teleconverter compatibility to turn the lens into a 140-400mm f/8 with full 1:1 macro capabilities). They also announced the a6700 mirrorless camera, their first new camera in the a6000 series in about four years. And finally, Sony launched a new compact, on-camera shotgun microphone called the ECM-M1.

The Rumor Mill

Is the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.2 S coming soon?

According to a report on Nikon Rumors, we won’t need to wait long until the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.2 S sees the light of day! It’s expected to be announced in either August or September. For reference, we are down to the last two lenses on the Nikon Z roadmap, and this is one of them (though the f/1.2 aperture isn’t confirmed). The other is a mystery 135mm S-line lens. My question is, what surprises will we see once the roadmap is complete?

Canon RF 200mm f/2 patent filed

Canon has been aggressively releasing mirrorless equivalents for their popular exotic telephoto lenses, but one lens that has yet to see the light of day is an RF 200mm f/2 (or RF 200mm f/1.8). Patents are certainly not a guarantee that a lens will ever exist, but at least this patent shows that Canon hasn’t forgotten about this focal length and maximum aperture. The EF 200mm f/2 L and f/1.8 L lenses are well-loved by certain sports, wildlife, and portrait photographers, and it seems we will see an RF equivalent at some point.

Via Petapixel

A microscope lens for mirrorless cameras

Venus Optics is a day away from announcing another probe-like macro lens – this time, one that’s capable of a whopping 50x magnification! With a magnification range from 10x to 50x, the Laowa Aurogon 10-50x is fundamentally a microscope, albeit one with a mirrorless lens mount. It’s expected to be available for Canon EF, Canon RF, Sony E, Nikon F, and Nikon Z at minimum. Pricing information and other details have not been released, but at least you’ll only need to wait about 24 hours to hear them.

Via Canon Rumors

Photo Contest Corner

Natural Landscape Photography Awards

  • Topic: Landscape photos with minimal post-production manipulation
  • Fees: $40 for 6 images, $60 for 12 images, $100 for 18 images, $30 for project entry
  • Prize: $5000 for Photographer of the Year, $2000 for Project of the Year, six $1000 prizes, seven $500 prizes
  • Deadline: July 31
  • Note: I’ll be competing in this one 🙂

Epson Pano Awards

  • Topic: Panoramic photographs of 2×1 aspect ratio or greater
  • Fees: $20-22 per entry
  • Prize: $40,000 prize pool, including printers, equipment vouchers, and cash
  • Deadline: July 17th just before midnight – hurry!

Good Deals and New Sales

B&H is running an ongoing “Summer Tech Deals” page that has a lot of great sales, especially on memory cards, hard drives, and computer equipment. Check out the full list here.

One of the most essential pieces of equipment for photographers has a great sale right now – half off the DataColor Spyder X Pro! (Was $399, now $199.50.) If you haven’t yet color calibrated your monitor, take this as a sign to do it as soon as possible. Editing photos on an uncalibrated monitor is like throwing darts with a blindfold on.

Another deal that caught my eye is on the Apple 16.2″ MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip. I’m really encouraged that Apple has been putting more of their high-end laptops on sale in recent years, as that’s not something they used to do in the past. My guess is that they’re able to be more flexible on pricing now that they make the M1 and M2 chips in-house. In any case, the specific savings vary based on which configuration you pick. The one I’m linking here is all a photographer would ever need, and is on sale for $1900 (was $2700) – but play around with the options, and you may find a different machine that suits your needs.

Other Pages of Interest

Each week, the impact of AI-generated photos grows more profound as they reshape the world of photography. The viral story this time is a bit different, though. An image was disqualified from an Australian photography competition because the judges deemed it to be AI-generated… except, the photo was real. Perhaps the confusion arose because the man in the photo is standing in front of two mannequins, which do look slightly “unreal” (as most mannequins do). The stakes were low this time, but it raises the question of whether real photography – especially documentary work – will be dismissed by the public or governments as fake, on false grounds of AI generation, just because it shows something inconvenient for them.

If you haven’t been hearing about Meta’s (AKA Facebook’s) new app called “Threads,” you probably will soon. There are already over 100 million users, and the app has only been out for about two weeks. Although Threads is meant to be a Twitter competitor, it’s closely tied to Instagram as well – you even sign into the app from your Instagram account. However, there’s a big warning to keep in mind. As stated directly by Meta, “Since Threads is powered by Instagram, in order to delete your Threads profile and data, you will have to delete your Instagram account.” That makes my recommendation to photographers pretty simple: Don’t sign up for Threads on a whim. Or if you do, at least create a new Instagram account first, so that you can safely delete Threads later if you need.

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