Hot Optics at PMA 2009


There was no shortage of lenses at PMA 2009 or teasers behind smudged Plexiglas.Starting with a mock-up of a wide-angle tilt-shift lens for a camera that's still in the prototype stage, Leica is moving forward with lens designs for its medium-format S2. The Leitz Elmar-S 30/3.5 ultra-wide angle tilt-shift lens is a strong indication Leica is serious about bringing out its 39Mp interpretation of the old Pentax 6x7.

Also on display at the Leica booth was the new SUPER-ELMAR-M 18/3.8 ASPH, which delivers the same 100-degree field-of-view of as 24mm lens on a full-frame 35 when used with Leica's M8-series digital rangefinder cameras. The new lens contains 8 elements in 7 groups, 2 aspheric surfaces, weighs less than 11 ounces, and focuses down to 2.3 feet.

Canon proudly showed off its eagerly awaited EF 17/4L TS-E, the newest addition to its tilt-shift line-up. With an angle-of-view of about 100-degrees (similar to Leica's 30mm tilt-shift), this lens is going to end up in the camera bags of many architectural, technical, landscape, and product photographers. (For more information about tilt-shift lenses, see our article on tilt-shift lenses included elsewhere in this issue.)

Sigma added fuel to the new lens fires by introducing several new lenses including a 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM, a fixed-aperture ultra-wide (15-30mm equivalent) designed for use with APSC-format DSLRs. The new zoom contains 2 Super-Low Dispersion and 2 Extraordinary-Low Dispersion elements to keep those pesky chromatic aberrations under control. Other new glass from Sigma includes a 50-200mm F4-5.6 DC OS HSM, an 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 EX DC HSM, an 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM, and a fixed-aperture 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens, all of which are compatible with APSC-format DSLRs from Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Canon, and Sigma.

'Normal' lenses, once the staple of photography are once again coming into vogue after years of being upstaged by smaller-aperture 'starter-zooms'. The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35/1.8G is designed to work with all Nikon DX-format DSLRs, and offers the field-of-view of a 52.5 mm lens on a full-frame 35. Low-light shooters will appreciate the faster shutter speeds and brighter finder afforded by the new 35/1.8 as compared to slower (f/3.5-5.6) kit lenses.

Other features of the new lens include an aspheric lens element to help minimize coma and chromatic aberrations, Nikon's Super Integrated Coatings (SIC) for reduced flair and higher color consistency, a 7-blade aperture, and a Silent Wave Motor for quicker AF.

For Pentax lovers back here on planet Earth, Pentax introduced the Pentax-DA 15/4 ED AL Limited, which covers the field-of-view of a 22.5mm lens on a full-frame 35mm DSLR. This compact, rectilinear ultra-wide will allow Pentax DSLR fans a chance to broaden their horizons to an 86-degree field of view. The new lens is designed to deliver minimal chromatic aberration and optical distortion. Also unveiled at the Pentax booth was a new 55 mm f/1.4 DA* SDM Pentax Prime lens for shooting portraits with Pentax DSLRs.


Pentax-DA 15/4 ED AL Limited                  Pentax 55 mm f/1.4 DA* SDM

Lensbaby fans will be delighted to hear about the Lensbaby .42 Wide-Angle Converter, (shown here screwed onto the front of a Lensbaby Composer) that expands the field-of-view of your current Lensbaby by close to 50%, making it possible to capture loosey goosey landscapes, portraits, or fun pictures in the tightest of spaces.

If you're looking for a reeeeally long telephoto lens that won't cost you a reeeeal lot of money check out the Bower 800/8 mirror lens, which is compatible via adapter to most all popular APS-C and full-frame DSLRs. Containing 8 elements, a 3-degree angle-of-view, and a minimum focus of 11 feet, the lens' fixed f/8 aperture is actually quite fast for an 800mm lens. And it's small and light enough to take anywhere.

Lastly we have Sony's teaser in the form of a telephoto lens displayed prominently behind Plexiglas. As for the specs, all that the nice folks at Sony would fess up to is the lens is ‘about 500mm', but not much else. Chalk this up as another reason to live another day.

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I love these updates by manufacturers. Where I live there is no large camera stores to browse the new products. Thank you