I chose the iPF6100 for testing because for me it represents the sweet spot in the line. For many fine art photographers a 24″ printer is about as big as can be handled outside of a commercial print studio, and also is able to produce prints that are usually as large as one needs. Readers should be aware that these four models are quite similar, except for paper size capabilities. (The 6100 is also not that much larger than the 5100, for those that are deciding between the two, though of course it doesn’t have a multi-sheet cassette feed for sheet paper, only single feed,the same as all other 24″ and larger printers).
The iPF6100 sells for about US $3,500. It’s main competitors are the HP Z3100 at about $4,800 and the Epson 7880 at $4,000. This makes the Canon the least expensive of the three, though there are promotions available which make shopping for price a matter that you need to conduct yourself on a local basis. In any event, the major differences to be noted are that the HP, though it costs quite a bit more, has a built-in spectrophotometer and self-profiling capability. Of course another difference that separates the three models is that the HP and Canon printers allow use of either matte or photo black inks at any time, while the current large format Epson pigment ink printers (excepting the 64 ” / $15,000 Epson 11880) require that these inks be swapped, a time consuming process and one that can cost $75 or more in wasted ink.
The jump from 2 megapixels to 4 megapixels is significant, but the jump from 10 to 12 is less dramatic. Is the megapixel race over?
Westfall: We’re trying to upgrade the entire camera. The megapixels rating is only one thing. When upgrading, you have to look at more aspects. We’re not going to go backwards.
B&H is selling a used Canon Super Telephoto 1200mm lens for $99,000.
As for image quality, even wide open it’s quite lovely. Stopped down to f/8 and f/11 it’s actually quite remarkable. How remarkable? From midtown Manhattan we were able to read the street signs on the corner of JFK Boulevard East and 43rd St. in Weehawkin New Jersey when viewing image files at pixel resolution. Oh, did I mention that’s about 2 miles away?
Reports are piling up that luxury camera specialist Leica is ready to introduce a new model in its M line of digital rangefinder cameras. Besides the look and feel of Leica’s classic film cameras, the M9 supposedly would have a full-frame image sensor the same size as a 35mm negative, promising image clarity similar to a high-end SLR.
Things are still silly in the digicam field with shirt pocket cameras now up to about 12MP. This means 2.8 micron pixels (or maybe even less) which if this trend continues will begin to impinge on the size of the upper wave lengths of light. Stuffing photons into these little holes is going to start challenging the laws of physics pretty soon.
In the DSLR world sanity seems to be settling in, with pixel counts in the 12 – 14 MP range becoming the norm. The high end of the pro DSLR market seems to be at the 21 – 24 MP range, and while that leaves room for the lower end of the market to still move upward, the ceiling isn’t going to get much higher once pixel count gets above 25MP and photosite sizes below 5 microns, because noise will become too big an issue at anything other than moderate level ISOs. Photographers now want image quality above pixel count, or at least I do.
Starting on February 1, 2008, Canon USA began informing key photographers and key organizations using the EOS-1D Mark III that engineers at Canon in Japan have developed a new fix for the camera’s autofocus, a fix that’s in addition to the change in the sub-mirror mechanism and firmware updates introduced in 2007.
We all like looking over the hill to see what’s coming next. With the exponential rate of change which technology now gives us, having a sense of what’s coming next can also be a form of economic sense, as it is not at all uncommon for one to buy what appears to be the latest and greatest only to find the next day that something new has just been announced. (If you want to have a better appreciation for what exponential technological change has in store for us, read The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurtzweil. It was recently recommended to me by Bill Atkinson, and is a real eye-opener).
That next big thing, at least in the world of photographic quality inkjet printers, is now available from Epson. As I write this the Stylus Pro 11880 has been on the market for a few months, and through the kind auspices of Epson I have had one in my printing studio for testing for almost as long. A combination of travel, the holiday season and teaching commitments has prevented me from putting fingers to keyboard as quickly as I would have liked, but I have been printing with the 11880 every chance that I’ve had, and I’m smitten.
There is no doubt that this U.S. $15,000, 60 inch wide, nine ink channel printer is likely the finest printer yet available for photographic printing. But given its price and size it is not likely to find a home other than in high-end commercial printing studios. Nevertheless it is a harbinger of what’s coming next from Epson, and so is well worth our while to have a close look at.
Tucked away in the back of Fuji’s booth at PMA 2008 was an interesting prototype for a 6×7 film camera. With over four times the resolution of 35mm film, 70mm 120/220 roll films have long been the favored film for pros, but it’s been decades since reasonably priced consumer models have been manufactured outside the toy-camera world.
Based on a classic design, this as-yet-unnamed camera isn’t amazingly innovative, but it seems to be perfectly refined with everything fans of old Ansco/Agfa cameras would expect. Add in the convenience of an electronic shutter and this becomes a pretty interesting concept, considering the rest of it is basically 1950s tech. This was the only new film camera model we ran into at PMA.
Leica fanatics are different than regular people, so it’s no surprise Leica’s taking an entirely different—but brilliant—approach with its M8: It’s everlasting. Instead of dropping an M9 or M10, Leica is offering substantial upgrades to the M8 itself—mechanical and digital components, so it’ll slowly evolve into a new camera. The first package is a sapphire LCD screen, which can only be scratched by a diamond, plus a new, quieter, less shaky shutter, at a cost of around $1,800.
That Sony is willing to tackle the difficult economics of the full-frame SLR market with its new Alpha provides further evidence that Sony is serious with its SLR push.
“This year, Alpha will proceed to its main stage,” Katsumoto said. “We will address the whole spectrum of digital SLR segments this year ranging from entry-level to flagship.”
Full-frame cameras can offer greater sensitivity for a given megapixel count because individual pixels are larger and gather more light. Sony’s flagship Alpha, with 24.8 megapixels, puts pixel count in the driver’s seat. In contrast, Nikon’s 12-megapixel D3 emphasizes bigger pixels with good low-light performance.
Already a manufacturer of CMOS imaging sensors for professional digital SLRs, Sony announced this morning at PMA 2008 in Las Vegas that it too would introduce a pro digital SLR this year. The new digital SLR — which is simply being called “Flagship” at this point — will use a new 24.6-megapixel full-frame “Exmor” CMOS sensor and employ Sony’s in-camera Super SteadyShot image stabilizer, Sony said at a press conference at PMA.
Curiously, the resolution of the CMOS sensor in the new “Flagship” Sony camera is a notch lower than a new 24.8-megapixel full-frame sensor Sony announced it was developing yesterday. If it is released as planned, Sony’s new camera would have bragging rights for most megapixels in a current professional full-frame DSLR
Sigma has announced the imminent availability of the greatly anticipated DP1 digital camera. The DP1 has a sensor around the size of those found in most DLSRs – although it is greatly different in terms of design – and aims to offer equivalent image-quality and specification in a compact format. In common with Sigma’s DSLR offerings it utilizes Foveon’s direct-image-sensor technology which detects three colors at each of its 4.6 million pixels (collecting the same amount of color data as a conventional 14 megapixel sensor). Our contacts at Sigma say it will be available in “spring.”
Delkin has announced several new digital photography products, including a four-slot USB 2.0 card reader called ImageRouter, a Dual Universal Battery Charger capable of charging two digital camera batteries simultaneously, a line of ExpressCard SSDs in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB capacities, a 16GB Class 6 SDHC card and more.
Of course trade sources have been saying that Nikon will have a 24MP camera this year to follow up on their recently released D3 camera. Since Sony is almost certainly their fabricator (if not co-designer) this is all starting to make perfect sense.
Nikon today has announced three new lenses: the PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt/Shift, AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED and AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. In addition, the company has said that two additional PC (perspective control) lenses are in the works: a PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED and a PC-E Micro Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D ED.
The camera fiends at Vision Research have trotted out the Phantom V12, a crowd pleaser said to be capable of grabbing 1MM images per second (if you can live with 256×8 resolution; resolution goes up as frame rate goes down). Their gear is “targeted at industrial applications ranging from biometric research to automotive crash testing,” they say. “Essentially,” opines Engadget, “this little bundle of joy is meant to be strapped into daredevil-type situations in order to grab as many photos as possible within a split second.”
Canon USA this evening has announced that the EF 200mm f/2L IS USM is scheduled for release in April 2008 at an estimated street price of US$5999, while the EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM is slated for delivery in May 2008 at an estimated street price of US$11,999.
But seriously, who takes their M8 to Japan and ends up leaving it in the bag (or the hotel room) most of the time? The answer, it turns out, is me.
With only eleven days in which to savour a first-taste of Japan, I chose to travel as light as possible. In my old universe, this meant the Leica M8 with a 28/35/50 Tri-Elmar. At the last minute, Michael suggested that I also take the new Canon G9 and put it through its paces as a travel camera. No harm, I thought, as it’ll be nice to have a point-and-shoot for ‘happy snaps’ along the way.
As the story unfolded, however, this solid, dependable little blob of consumer electronics became my constant companion, and the Leica a lonely bag-warmer. This is the tale of how my paradigm on ‘serious’ travel cameras changed.
We warned you these Pre-PMA releases were going to be coming fast and furious — who releases ANYTHING at the actual show anymore — so here’s Canon’s latest entry-level digital SLR, the 12.2-megapixel EOS Rebel XSi.
Yes, we know this is an “amateur” DSLR but what’s unique about it is the number of pro-level features that are showing up in these entry-level models. Along with the 12.2MP CMOS sensor — the same resolution as the Nikon D3! — the Rebel XSi has 14-bit A/D conversion, an advanced Live View function, and Canon’s fast DIGIC III image processor.
State of the Art: Hands On: Zeiss ZF Macros for Nikon: “I’ve been shooting lately with two new Nikon F-mount Zeiss lenses, the ZF 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar T* and the ZF 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar T*. (I love it when they spell macro that way.) As you’d expect from a Zeiss-made optic they are both simply razor sharp, and are also impressively heavy, in these days of featherweight zooms, due in part to their full-metal barrel. No, they don’t have autofocus–nor do any of the other ‘premium’ manual-focus lenses Zeiss is making for Nikon F, Pentax K, and M42 (threaded) mounts–but I haven’t really missed it.”