In Focus: April 2016

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Full-frame DSLRs may be the format of choice for some, but let’s not forget about the extra tele-power of APS-C-size sensors. With the recent release of the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II—the update to the aging EOS-1D X—and the EOS 80D, there are new options regardless of your preference. Both cameras offer a long list of updates, including newly developed sensors, improved processing speed, speedier continuous capture, Dual Pixel AF (among other AF improvements), expanded ISO sensitivity and enhanced video capabilities—and those are just the highlights.

As always, outdoor photographers will appreciate the 1D X Mark II’s weather-resistant seals and rugged build, but other than dual CF and CFast card slots, an improved grip and a touch-screen LCD (for focusing rather than accessing menus), most of the 1D X Mark II’s improvements are under the hood. Built around a new 20.2-megapixel, full-frame Canon CMOS sensor, the 1D X Mark II is the first EOS camera with dual DIGIC VI processors and is the fastest EOS camera, to date. When using a CFast card, the camera can reach speeds of up to 16 fps in Live View and up to 14 fps using the viewfinder with AE and predictive AF. Better yet, the 1D X Mark II can capture up to 170 consecutive RAW images at 14 fps and unlimited JPEGs (up to the capacity of the CFast card).

Although, like its predecessor, the 1D X Mark II utilizes 61 AF points, several improvements should prove invaluable to photographers who need quick, responsive AF, even in low light. AF sensitivity at the center point offers better low-light sensitivity at -3 EV (versus the 1D X’s -2 EV), AF point coverage across the frame has been expanded, and all AF points are selectable and are supported to a maximum aperture of ƒ/8. Low-light capabilities have been enhanced, as well. The native ISO of 100-51,200 can be expanded to ISO 50 and up to a remarkable 409,600.

The 1D X Mark II now can shoot 4K at up to 60p using the CFast card slot. With the new Frame Grab feature, you can pull an 8.8-megapixel still JPEG from the 4K footage. Canon also has added 120p full HD recording for slow motion. The touch-screen LCD can be used to select the AF point prior to and during recording. And, notably, the 1D X Mark II utilizes Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF for fast, accurate and quiet focusing.

For those of you who prefer an APS-C-size sensor, the EOS 80D updates the popular 70D. Built around a newly developed 24-megapixel sensor, Canon has incorporated Dual Pixel CMOS technology and broadened AF coverage across the frame with 45 AF points—a big jump from the 70D’s 19 AF points. Better yet, the 80D offers ƒ/8 compatibility at 27 different AF points—even for long lenses with tele-extenders. You’ll also find large zone AF adjustment, AF point auto switching and a large improvement in metering capabilities, too. The 80D also borrows the mirror vibration control system from cameras like the 5DS, which helps prevent mirror slap vibration. High-speed continuous shooting is rated at up to 7 fps and ISO can be expanded up to 25,600—even in movie mode.

Videographers will appreciate the addition of a headphone jack for monitoring sound, and Canon promises more accurate AF in movie mode. Pair the new Canon EF-S 18-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit lens with the companion Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1 for super-smooth zooming and adjustable zoom speed. Add the first Canon-branded DM-E1 external microphone, and you have a full kit for filmmaking.

The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is slated to ship in April, with an estimated MSRP of $5,999. A kit option, with a 64 GB CFast card and reader, will sell for $6,299. The Canon EOS 80D and kit lens will be available in March for $1,199 (body only) or $1,799 (with lens). The Power Zoom Adapter ($150) and microphone ($150) are slated to ship in June. Contact: Canon,

The dust- and splashproof Fujifilm X-Pro2 has been updated with a new 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor and a new processor for exceptional performance including quick AF and start-up speed. An innovative Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder lets you quickly switch between optical and electronic viewing. Dual SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slots, a 3-inch LCD, full HD video, and new monochrome and grain effects are only a few of the features that make this camera worth checking out. List Price: $1,700. Contact: Fujifilm,

FUJINON XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Perfectly matched to the X-Pro2, the XF100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR is sealed against the elements and promises up to five stops of image stabilization for handheld shooting. Twin linear motors enable fast autofocus, and the lens’ fluorine coating helps to keep the front lens element free from water and dirt. The lens is compatible with the XF1.4X TC WR teleconverter to extend the focal range to 140-560mm. List Price: $1,900. Contact: Fujifilm,

The new Pentax K-1—the company’s first full-frame model—follows in the footsteps of its weatherproof predecessors, with 87 seals to protect the camera from the elements. It’s well constructed and offers some impressive features. Built around an AA-filterless, 36.4-megapixel sensor, the K-1 (an AA filter simulator option is available) offers a broad ISO range of 100-204,800, as well as an updated 5-axis shake-reduction mechanism capable of up to 5 steps of image stabilization. Beyond IS, because the sensor can be tilted in all directions, users can fine-tune compositions in-camera. Perhaps even more interesting is the K-1’s ability to photograph the night sky. In combination with the camera’s built-in GPS, and the movable sensor, the K-1’s Astro Tracer is capable of tracking heavenly bodies and keeps stars in sharp focus (versus capturing star trails) for exposures of up to five minutes. Other notable features include a Pixel Shift Resolution option, which captures and combines four images into a single composite. While the composite is still a 36-megapixel image, Pentax promises increased resolving power for high-quality images. In addition to improved AF performance for stills and movies, videographers will appreciate the K-1’s microphone input and headphone jack, and while the camera doesn’t record in 4K, full HD 1920×1080 motion capture is possible.

Lens compatibility has always been one of Pentax’s strong points, and the K-1’s multiple image area modes will accommodate full-frame and APS-C lenses. Pentax has also introduced two new lenses—the HD Pentax-D FA 15-30mm F2.8ED SDM WR and HD Pentax-D FA 28-105mm F3.5-5.6ED DC WR—bringing the number of lens choices to an even dozen. A BG-6 battery grip was introduced, as well.

The nicely priced Pentax K-1 ($1,799.95), the FA 15-30mm ($1,449.95) and the FA 28-105mm ($499.95), and BG-6 battery grip ($199.99) are slated to ship mid-April. Contact: Pentax,

As the successor to the already-speedy a6000, the new Sony a6300 offers updates that far exceed its sibling’s capabilities. With the ability to lock focus as quickly as 0.05 seconds, the new model offers the fastest AF in its class, and sets the record of any interchangeable-lens camera, with 425 phase-detection AF points for even more accurate autofocus. Continuous shooting up to 11 fps, enhanced AF tracking and 4K video recording are only some of the features that make this an exceedingly attractive upgrade.

High-res sensors benefit from optics with enhanced resolving power. To create the premium G Master lenses, Sony employed a unique glass-molding process that results in a smooth transition between sharp and defocused areas to produce more natural, pleasing bokeh. The first lenses in the line are the FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM, FE 85mm F1.4 and FE 70-200mm F2.8, perhaps the three most often used lenses in pro photographers’ gear bags.

The a6300 ($1,000, body only), FE 24-70mm ($2,200) and FE 85mm ($1,800) are slated to ship in March. The FE 70-200mm and new 1.4x and 2x teleconverters should ship in May; pricing is to be determined. Contact: Sony,

At 2.8 pounds, the latest addition to the Olympus PRO line of lenses, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO, is surprisingly lightweight, especially since it delivers an effective 600mm focal range. Equally as impressive is up to six steps of image stabilization when paired with one of the Olympus 5-axis IS cameras (up to 4 steps with other camera bodies using the in-lens stabilization mechanism). Like the OM-D E-M1 and E-M5 II, the lens is sealed against the elements, too, making it the perfect match. List Price: $2,500. Contact: Olympus,

Available later this year, Goal Zero’s Venture 70 19,200 mAh recharger is rubberized, waterproof and designed to withstand rugged handling and whatever challenges your latest adventure presents. The Venture 70 can be charged via USB and is compatible with the company’s Nomad 20 solar panel, with pass-through charging so you can simultaneously refresh power on other devices. The unit can charge DSLRs that support USB charging such as the Sony a7R II up to five times, phones up to four to six times or other USB-powered gear. Equipped with two high-speed USB ports, the Venture 70 includes a microUSB cable, and an optional Lightning cable is also available. List Price: $150. Contact: Goal Zero,

With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 200-800mm, the new Panasonic LUMIX G 100-400mm Leica DG Vario-Elmar Micro Four Thirds lens certainly will find its way into the camera bags of outdoor photographers and videographers. Currently, the longest focal length for Micro Four Thirds mounts, the lens features Power OIS and is compatible with dual IS. It’s weather sealed, offers silent zooming for video and features a 240 fps AF motor for fast AF. A two-part tripod mount makes it easy to switch between landscape and portrait, as well; the lens also has an integrated, hideaway hood. List Price: $1,800. Contact: Panasonic,

Everything about these new backpacks says lightweight—from the fabric and thinner webbing to the light buckles and less padding on shoulder straps. With enough room to pack cameras, lenses, tablets or laptops and personal gear, the UltraLights from MindShift Gear come in three sizes: the Sprint 16L for mirrorless or compact DSLRs; the Dual 25L; and the Dual 36L for standard-sized DSLRs, lenses and up to a 15-inch laptop or a hydration reservoir system. All three come with a rain cover, while the latter two models feature a removable camera compartment. List Price: $120-$200. Contact: MindShift Gear,

Sihl, a company with a long history of papermaking and coating, has launched its Masterclass photo and fine-art inkjet papers in North America. The eight-product line includes a variety of surfaces, ranging from Metallic Pearl High Gloss and High Gloss Photo to Lustre (also available in double-sided paper), Satin Baryta and several matte options. Papers are available in 25-sheet boxes sized 8½x11 and 13×19 inches, as well as 24- and 44-inch-wide rolls. List Price: $13 (sample pack); individual paper types start at $20. Contact: Sihl,

Available in Canon and Nikon mounts for APS-C (DX)-sensor cameras, the AT-X 14-20mm F2.0 DX lens is Tokina’s fastest zoom, to date, with a constant ƒ/2.0 aperture throughout its 21-30mm equivalent focal length. A new optical design uses three aspherical lens elements and four SD glass elements, as well as nine diaphragm blades. Tokina’s One Touch Focus Clutch mechanism lets users move quickly between AF and manual focus simply by snapping the focus ring forward or back. List Price: $899. Contact: Kenko Tokina USA,