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Nikon Announces NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens

Nikon has just announced the NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens. This pro lens can be used widely and is especially ideal for sports and nature photography.  Being the second generation of this lens, it has a lot of updates, including gaining an extra stop of IS with the new VR II image stabilization, as well as M/A and A/M focus modes.

The NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II will be available in May for $6,999.95. Full press release below.

From Nikon:

MELVILLE, N.Y. (April 27, 2010) –  Today, the evolution of the super telephoto lens continues as Nikon Inc. announced the new AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens which delivers optical excellence and stunning image quality for professional photographers. Ideal for bringing to life exquisite detail for sports, nature and travel photography, this new lens affords a constant maximum aperture of f/4 and rugged construction for maximum versatility. Continued refinements and new technologies such as Vibration Reduction (VR) II, Nano Crystal Coat, and optimized autofocus (AF) modes enhance functionality and improve performance for discerning FX and DX-format photographers.

“The AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm lens builds upon a proven design for professional level optics by incorporating the latest Nikon lens technologies to give photographers the edge in the field, and the ability to capture the most intricate of details with extraordinary fidelity,” said Lisa Osorio, general manager of Marketing at Nikon Inc.  “As both camera capabilities and the roles of photographers expand, NIKKOR enhancements will continue to meet demands and exceed expectations to remain the pinnacle of optical excellence for all types of photographers.”

Whether photographing the decisive play at home plate or predators of the Serengeti, the 200-400mm f/4 lens is an essential tool for photographers who require long focal lengths and maximum versatility without sacrificing image quality. The 200-400mm lens benefits from the addition of Nikon’s proprietary Nano Crystal Coat to reduce instances of ghosting and flaring.  The result is unparalleled clarity and sharpness in challenging lighting environments typical to sports venues or harsh sunlight.

Additionally, this new NIKKOR lens features Nikon VR II image stabilization, which is specifically engineered for each lens for maximum performance. VR II is a valuable asset to those shooting photos or HD video, as image blur introduced by camera shake and telephoto magnification is significantly reduced. Users are able to shoot up to four stops* slower than otherwise possible, overcoming many of the challenges of handheld shooting with such extreme focal lengths. VR functionality is further augmented with Automatic Panning Detection and an Active VR Mode to help compensate for movement from an unstable position such as a moving vehicle.  Additionally, VR is always engaged when shooting in the D-Movie mode on select Nikon D-SLRs, helping to stabilize HD video capture.

The new 200-400mm f/4 lens features a host of professional focusing features to further enhance functionality. Photographers can now select from three focus modes to match shooting conditions, including manual mode (M) and autofocus with manual override (M/A) mode, and new A/M mode which is used to avoid cancelling the AF setting by unintentionally moving the focus ring while shooting. The M/A and A/M focus modes enhance AF control with fast, secure switching from automatic and manual focus to adapt to personal shooting preference and techniques. Additionally, photographers can activate the AF Recall Mode at the press of a button that allows for instant return to a predetermined point of focus to confidently capture anticipated shots.

This professional lens is constructed of die-cast magnesium for maximum durability and is sealed to resist dust and moisture, with protective Meniscus glass to safeguard the lens’ front element. The optical formula features four Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements for superior sharpness, color and image quality, while minimizing chromatic aberration. The lens also features Nikon’s exclusive Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology, which enables high-speed autofocus performance with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation. Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating further suppresses flare and offers superior color consistency throughout the frame.

Price and Availability
The AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens is scheduled to be available at Nikon authorized dealers in late May 2010 with an estimated selling price of $6,999.95**. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

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Sony Announces Winners of the World Photography Awards


© Paolo Pellegrin,
Arts & Entertainment winner- Sony World Photography Awards 2010 / Magnum Photos for New York Times Magazine

Sony has announced the winners of the 2010 World Photography Awards. The gallery of winning images is full of stunning work and well worth checking out. Congrats to all the winners!

From Sony:

Sony World Photography Awards 2010 winners announced

•    Professional category winners revealed
•    Italian photographer Tommaso Ausili wins L’Iris d’Or
•    Vitali Seitz wins Sony World Photography Awards Amateur Photographer of the Year

The L’Iris d’Or and professional category winners of the 2010 Sony World Photography Awards were announced today, Thursday 22 April, at the Sony World Photography Awards Ceremony at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France.

The 12 professional winners spanned categories as diverse as fashion, architecture, current affairs and sport and were revealed alongside the Sony World Photography Awards Amateur Photographer of the Year as part of the World Photography Festival.

Chosen by the 2010 Honorary Judging Committee, comprising 12 World Photographic Academy members, the professional category winners are:

Photojournalism and Documentary
•    Walter Astrada (Argentina) for Current Affairs
•    Scott Barbour (New Zealand) for Sport
•    Tommaso Ausili (Italy) for Contemporary Issues
•    Paolo Pellegrin (Italy) for Arts and Entertainment
Commercial
•    Martin Brent (United Kingdom) for Advertising
•    David Handley (United Kingdom) for Fashion
•    Mohammad Golchin (Iran) for Music
Fine Art
•    Philipp Lohöefener (Germany)for Architecture
•    Tommaso Bonaventura (Italy) for Portraiture
•    Renhui Zhao (Singapore) for Conceptual and Constructed
•    Pere Pascual (Spain) for Natural History
•    Peter Franck (Germany) for Landscape

On behalf of the Honorary Judging Committee Aidan Sullivan commented, “It has been an honour to be part of the judging of this years awards. Being able to view the remarkable work and spend time with such eminent colleagues was a real delight.  The judging process was one of both pleasure, in seeing such a high calibre of work, and of pain in that the standard made reaching our decisions difficult and I would like to congratulate all of the winners across all of the categories.”

The prestigious L’Iris d’Or/Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year award was awarded to Tommaso Ausili.  The Italian photographer’s evocative series of photographs in the Cotemporary Issues category, entitled “The Hidden Death”, is an insightful depiction of an assembly line at an abattoir.  Ausili was awarded a $25,000 cash prize plus Sony digital SLR camera equipment and he joins previous L’Iris d’Or winners David Zimmerman and Vanessa Winship as a member of the World Photographic Academy.

Tommaso Ausili said at the ceremony: “I’m very glad to receive this award. Since I started this series on the death of animals, I have felt an enormous sense of guilt, and this prize goes some way to repay that debt. Thanks to the Sony World Photography Awards for honouring my work with this prize.”

Photographer Vitali Seitz was announced as the 2010 Sony World Amateur Photographer of the Year at the ceremony.  Based in Munich, but originally from Siberia, Vitali’s image entitled “Hauskonzert: Home concert” was taken at an informal concert as part of a family birthday and also won the amateur Music category.  In addition to his title Vitali picked up a $5,000 cash prize and Sony digital SLR camera equipment.

All the winning and shortlisted images of the 2010 awards are on display until 27 April as part of the World Photography Festival in Cannes.  The images will then be showcased in the Sony World Photography Awards Global Tour exhibition which will tour around the world throughout 2010 and 2011.

The final presentation of the evening went to celebrated American photojournalist Eve Arnold.  Presented the day after her 98th birthday, the Lifetime Achievement Award was collected by her grandson Michael Arnold.  Eve’s 50 year career has captured some of history’s most memorable figures from Malcolm X to Marilyn Monroe and was the first female photographer to be taken on by Magnum.  A retrospective of Eve’s work, curated by Zelda Cheatle, is currently on display in Cannes as part of the World Photography Festival.

Astrid Merget, Creative Director of the World Photography Organisation, said:  “The quality of work submitted by this year’s professional photographers was remarkable.  Narrowing down so many impressive selections to just 36 finalists was a feat worthy of a very distinguished jury like ours to undertake.  We are all thrilled with the results and honoured to have such talented photographers participate in our awards programme.”

Yoshiyuki Nogami, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Europe, said: “We are once again honoured to support this unique competition which celebrates the power of photography. This year’s contest has produced an inspired showcase of phenomenal photographic talent and we congratulate all these deserving winners.”

All the winning professional and amateur images can be viewed at www.worldphotographyawards.org

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Leica Announces V-LUX 20

Leica has announced the 12.1MP V-LUX 20 compact camera with GPS tagging, the LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1–49.2 mm f/3.3–4.9 ASPH  zoom lens, and 720p video capabilities. The V-LUX 20 will be available at the end of April for $699.00**. Check out the full press release below.

From Leica:

Solms, Germany (April 20, 2010) – Leica Camera AG presents a new, 12.1 megapixel digital compact camera: the LEICA V-LUX 20. Equipped with a high performance DC-VARIO ELMAR lens, innovative GPS tagging, optional HD movie recording and various automated functions, the V-LUX 20 is a truly universal camera, capable of capturing all moments of life.

The V-LUX 20’s LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1–49.2 mm f/3.3–4.9 ASPH. zoom lens offers a range of focal lengths of 25–300 mm in 35-mm format, making it the ideal camera for almost any photographic environment. Whether shooting expansive landscapes, finely detailed macro studies at short distances or shots of distant objects with a super-telephoto setting, its 12x zoom captures them all in images of breathtaking quality. Integrated image stabilization helps photographers in every shooting situation and also prevents fuzzy pictures caused by camera shake or difficult lighting conditions.

“High-performance optics, compact size and simple, intuitive handling: these are the trademarks of the V-LUX 20. It is the ideal tool for effortless photography and can be utilized by the whole family – for everyday shooting, special occasions or when traveling,” says Peter Kruschewski, Product Manager Digital Compact Cameras at Leica Camera AG. “At the same time, the manual setting options of the V-LUX 20 offer more ambitious photographers absolute creative control over their pictures.”

The LEICA V-LUX 20 is characterized by clear lines, ergonomic design and evidently positioned controls. Its straightforward handling is further enhanced by a whole range of automatic functions. For the more knowledgeable photographer, manual setting options for shutter speed and aperture provide all the creative freedom necessary for image control. A selector dial on the top deck of the camera allows fast and simple selection of a wide range of settings.

The generously dimensioned, three-inch monitor of the V-LUX 20 has a large 3 inch TFT display with a resolution of 460,000 pixels, offering an extremely bright and sharp view. It is a reliable and precise tool for the assessment of image composition and framing before shooting, as well as for quality control of captured shots.

As the first Leica digital camera to feature GPS tagging, the Leica V-LUX 20 allows photographers to record not only the geographical coordinates of the location in the Exif data of the image files, but also the local time for every shot. An extremely useful aid for archiving pictures, the GPS tagging function prevents all travelers from ever forgetting where their pictures were taken. All images posted on social networks, image portals and map sites such as Google Maps or Google Earth reveal exactly when and where they were shot.* When abroad, the V-LUX 20 can also display local sights and interesting places. This feature offers a total of 500,000 so-called ‘points of interest’ in 73 different countries.

In addition to featuring GPS tagging, the V-LUX 20 is equipped with a movie function that enables the recording of moving pictures in HD quality. Together with the camera’s zoom function, smart automatic features such as face recognition, automatic scene modes and smart exposure are all available in movie mode, making the V-LUX 20 a superior movie-maker in a compact format.

The LEICA V-LUX 20 will be available at specialized Leica dealers from the end of April 2010. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is one of the standard features provided with V-LUX 20. A matching brown calfskin case for the camera is available as an optional accessory.

For additional information, please visit us.leica-camera.com. For media inquiries, high resolution images and loan out requests, please contact Evins Communications.

* It is possible that GPS tagging may not function in the People’s Republic of China and neighbouring regions. Satellite signal reception may be impossible, depending on the location. In such cases, the positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.

**Pricing taken from UK press release, not US (seen above).

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Adobe Launches Photoshop CS5

The countdown is over. Adobe just officially launched Creative Suite 5. There are a lot of game changing features in the suite—of particular interest to us (and to you photographers) are the advancements to Photoshop. Check out what Adobe has to say about Photoshop and Photoshop Extended—with screenshots of a couple of key features—below.

Photoshop CS5 delivers the utmost power and creative control with the next generation of advanced
tools for outstanding image manipulation and superior compositing. It redefines image editing with a
strong focus on photography, including breakthrough selection capabilities, content-aware fill options,
state-of-the-art processing of raw images, advanced creative control of High Dynamic Range (HDR)
imagery, automated lens corrections, powerful free-form transformations, new painting technology, and
a sweeping range of workflow and performance enhancements that boost productivity at every step.

Photoshop CS5 Extended is a super-set of tools and features made for professionals who want to push
the boundaries of digital imaging. It delivers all the editing, compositing, and painting capabilities of
Photoshop CS5 plus powerful new features for creating stunning 3D artwork from selections, graphics,
and type with direct control over lighting, materials, and meshes.

Intelligent selection technology

Photoshop CS5 takes the time and frustration out of making precise image selections and masks, providing you a faster way to extract subjects from their backgrounds and create realistic composites. New intelligent selection technology offers better edge detection and faster, more accurate masking results of complex subjects, like hair. Automatic color decontamination helps you eliminate background color around the edges of a selection, resulting in more seamless compositions when placing extracted subjects on new backgrounds. Experienced Photoshop users know that the best selections are created by constantly adapting the selection technique for differences in the subject’s edges—one method for hair and another for the edge of a building. With Photoshop CS5, you can produce highly accurate masks and selections faster and more simply than before with a set of new adaptive selection-edge modification controls. Smart Radius automatically matches the best selection approach with the subject’s changing edge characteristics, and the extra view modes assist you in previewing the quality of your selections. The Refine Radius and Erase Refinements tools customize your masks and selections as you make them. These tools, in combination with the color decontamination settings, help eliminate any residual background color from around the edges of your selections.

Before
After

Content‐Aware Fill

One of the most exciting new features in Photoshop CS5 is the remarkable ability to remove  an image element and magically replace it with details that match the lighting, tone, and noise  of the surrounding area so that it looks like the content never existed. Now, you can make substantial changes to photo composition quickly and easily, as even large complex subjects can be seamlessly erased. You can use Content-Aware Fill with the Spot Healing Brush or as an option
of the Fill feature to replace content in an active selection. Selecting the Content-Aware setting with the Spot Healing brush changes the way the tool fills in the areas you paint. This retouching approach is designed to account more fully for the structure and detail of the image elements that surround the painted area, providing a near-invisible result when removing unwanted objects. Alternatively, you can select the object to be removed, and then replace the area with synthesized details from the area surrounding the selection, simply by using the Content-Aware option in the Fill dialog box.

Before
After

Other new features include: HDR Pro, for creativity and precision with the next generation of high dynamic range imaging; state-of-the-art raw-image processing; extraordinary painting effects; Puppet Warp; Automated lens correction; user-inspired productivity enhancements; streamlined creative reviews through integration with Adobe CS Review; faster performance with cross-platform native 64-bit support; greater access to key resources via flexible custom panels; easier interface management with Live Workspaces and Workspace Switcher; and superior black-and-white conversion.

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Canon Announces Two New Pro Camcorders

For video pros, Canon has announced two new big guns today, both available to consumers in late June.

From Canon:

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., April 7, 2010 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today announces the Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders. Both new models employ an MPEG-2 4:2:2 50Mbps codec – Canon XF Codec – for capturing and recording native 1920 x 1080 video onto affordable, universally available Compact Flash (CF) cards. Uniting video, audio and metadata into a single file, the Canon XF305 and XF300 use an MXF (Material eXchange Format) File Wrapper, a widely supported open source format, to maximize compatibility with existing industry infrastructure and non-linear editing (NLE)systems. Priced under $8,000 per model, the Canon XF305 and XF300 are engineered for multiple production applications including broadcast news, documentary and independent filmmaking and event videography. Canon will be demonstrating a variety of professional applications for the Canon XF305 and XF300 at the Company’s booth# C4325 at the 2010 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders include a Genuine Canon 18x HD L-series lens providing documentary filmmakers and news camera operators with the focal-range versatility required in the field. Designed with input from professional users, each model includes three Canon developed and designed native 1920 x 1080 CMOS image sensors, and the new Canon XF Codec for extreme color detail required for accurate chroma-keying, color-grading and compositing for digital filmmaking. For finer transitions in tone and color, 4:2:2 color sampling offers twice the color resolution of HDV and other 4:2:0 formats. In addition, Canon’s XF305 model features industry- standard HD-SDI output, genlock, and SMPTE time code (in/out) terminals for multi-camera or 3-D productions.

“The creation of HD video content continues to grow across every market category,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. “We are proud to introduce the new Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders, which provide extraordinary image quality, a generous array of features and seamless integration with file-based workflows, all at an attractive price. These camcorders provide the convenience, production cost and quality that the HD video market has been asking for.”

Further adding to the low total-cost-of-ownership of the Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders is their use of CF cards. In addition to rugged, solid-state construction and the speed and ease of file transfer to computers, CF cards are cost effective and widely available, unlike proprietary memory systems. The new Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders feature hot-swappable dual card slots and support UDMA CF cards for maximum performance.

To support the swift adoption of the Canon XF Codec, Canon has worked in cooperation with major editing and post-production software developers, including Adobe, Apple, Avid, and Grass Valley, to ensure compatibility with leading software programs widely used within the video production and broadcast industries.

Genuine Canon Optics with Image Stabilization
Leveraging the Company’s expertise as a global leader in the design and manufacture of high-performance optics, the Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders feature a Genuine Canon 18x HD L-series lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 29.3 – 527.4mm and a Full Manual Focus mode with mechanical “hard” end stops and distance markers for professional operability and repeatable manual focus. Canon utilized HI-UD (high-index, ultra low dispersion), UD and aspherical lens elements to minimize chromatic aberrations and provide a compact size and weight to the lens – while also delivering a resolution of approximately 1,000 TV lines. The lens also features a new SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system featuring Dynamic and Powered modes for optimal performance in the greatest variety of situations.

DIGIC DV III Image Processor
At the heart of Canon’s XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorder models is Canon’s proprietary DIGIC DV III Image Processor, which ensures natural, lifelike colors and captures tonal gradations and shadow detail with remarkable accuracy. The DIGIC DV III Image Processor also powers Canon’s innovative Face Detection Technology, an autofocus option that can significantly reduce the effort required when camera operators work alone, such as in news applications.

To maximize the camcorders’ adaptability across various production environments, Canon equipped each model with the ability to record at multiple bit rates, resolutions and variable frame rates for slow and fast motion. Additional professional features include variable-interval (for time-lapse) and frame-record for stop-motion animation, and a photo feature for frame-grabs.

Refined Ergonomics and Operation
The Canon XF305 and XF300 are designed to maximize shooting comfort and usability. The well-balanced design allows the operator to comfortably control the camcorder and easily maintain a steady shot while minimizing arm fatigue. Each camcorder also features a convenient, freely rotating 4.0-inch, 1.23-megapixel LCD monitor that can be positioned at either the right or left side of the camcorder body, allowing for easy viewing even in the most difficult shooting positions.

The LCD monitor also provides a display of the camcorders’ built-in waveform monitor and vectorscope to aid in achieving accurate exposure and color levels while shooting. Additionally, the LCD can show peaking, edge-monitor-focus and magnify the image, enabling users to confirm critical focus, an essential objective in all HD production.

The Canon XF305 and XF300 models also come equipped with a 0.52-inch, 1.55-megapixel color electronic viewfinder, providing ample resolution for critical focus and approximately 100 percent field-of-view coverage for accurate judgment of composition.

Audio Flexibility
The Canon XF305 and XF300 Professional Camcorders feature a built-in stereo microphone as well as dual XLR inputs for external audio sources. The new camcorders support 16-bit PCM audio at 48 kHz with automatic and manual audio level adjustment

Canon’s XF305 Professional Camcorder is scheduled to be available in late June for an estimated retail price of $7,999. Canon’s XF300 Professional Camcorder is scheduled to be available in late June for an estimated retail price of $6,799.

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