Special Report: photokina
New Lenses For 35mm And Digital SLR Cameras Page 2

The latest in the digitally-optimized series of Tamron Di lenses, the new AF28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro zoom should be even more popular than its predecessors. Billed as the smallest and lightest in its range, this Di zoom includes a new optical formula, with extra refractive index, aspherical and low dispersion elements to correct all types of aberrations plus superior multilayered coatings. Aside from the versatility offered by the wide range of focal lengths, the close focusing ability is also impressive, allowing for a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9 with a film camera and even higher with a digital SLR with a smaller sensor. The lens is smaller (62mm filter size) and lighter than previous Tamron 28-300mm models, making it even more portable and ideal as an all-purpose zoom. (Street price, $399 in Canon, Minolta D, Nikon D, and Pentax AF mounts.) For more information, visit Tamron's website at: www.tamron.com.

Recently, Pentax (www.pentaxusa.com) also announced that it would market a series of digitally-optimized lenses. The new D FA lenses will include superior coatings to control flare and new optical formulas for high edge to edge sharpness and brightness. The first two D FA lenses are both life-size macros capable of full 1x magnification with superb quality thanks to high-tech focusing systems. The D FA 100mm f/2.8 Macro and D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro are substantially smaller (49mm filter size) and lighter than previous models thanks to new optical elements and durable yet lightweight exterior components. A wide focusing ring assures fast, accurate focus in manual focus, the most commonly used mode in macro photography. (Street prices, $799 and $599, respectively.)

A masterpiece of advanced technology, Nikon's new AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED (www.nikonusa.com) is a water-resistant professional telephoto with some of the best features currently available, including three ED glass elements; Vibration Reduction system; ultrasonic Silent Wave Motor; internal focusing; and many focus options. This lens has been optimized for use with digital SLR cameras with steps that include a meniscus protective glass element to overcome internal reflections from digital sensors and an entirely new Nano-Crystal AR coating. Described as "revolutionary," the technology employs a new type of microscopic-sized crystallized particles. When applied to certain lens elements they're said to exhibit extra-low refractive index properties for extremely low levels of reflection, across a much wider wavelength, to effectively minimize flare, ghosting, and loss of light. We expect that Nano-Crystal AR coating will probably be used on additional pro Nikon lenses in the future. (Estimated street price, $4500.)

Because Konica Minolta (http://konicaminolta.us) only announced a digital SLR camera recently, the company has made only two digitally-optimized multi-platform lenses, both first shown at photokina. (I have not yet been able to obtain specifics on their digital-optimi zation strategies but the company states, "these two new lenses have been designed specifically with the Maxxum 7D in mind." My investigation is continuing.) The new AF 17-35mm f/2.8-4 D boasts one low dispersion and three aspherical elements while the 28-75mm f/2.8 D includes three low dispersion plus four aspherical elements. As "D" lenses, they include the chip necessary for Advanced Distance Integration (ADI) flash metering for superior exposures with difficult subjects, when using the latest Maxxum cameras' built-in flash or with certain accessory Maxxum flash units. The 17-35mm zoom is a bit large/heavy (77mm filter size; 18 oz) and expensive while the "fast" 28-75mm zoom is smaller, a tad lighter (67mm filter size, 15 oz), and more affordable. (Prices not yet set.) When used with the Maxxum 7D these zooms provide an equivalent focal length of 26-53mm and 42-113mm, respectively.

Lenses Exclusively For Digital SLRs
Quickly becoming the new standard, at least for most new zooms, lenses intended for use only with digital SLR cameras are designed to suit the APS-C size sensors. That format actually varies in exact size with Sigma using the smallest sensor, Canon using the next smallest sensor, and the others using a slightly larger sensor. However, the actual difference in size is minimal, and the lens designers have taken that into effect to ensure that their lenses will cover the image circle of pertinent cameras.

During a photokina meeting, a question arose about the long-term suitability of current lenses designed for APS-C size sensors. If the standard were changed in the future, would all of the current lenses become incompatible? Well, that's theoretically possible, but only if larger sensors became the norm. The current digital-only lenses are quite suitable for any camera with a smaller than APS-C sensor such as the Four Thirds size used by Olympus. Sigma's DC-series lenses for example--and a few of those are already available in Olympus mount--work well with the E-1 and new E-300 EVOLT. Naturally, if much larger sensors became standard in future cameras, today's digital-only lenses would become orphans as did the lenses designed exclusively for APS format film SLRs.

Sigma's new 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC zoom for digital SLRs with APS-C size sensors is both compact (67mm filter size) and lightweight (15.7 oz) in spite of the ultra-wide f/2.8 aperture. It's also a premium-grade lens with one low dispersion plus two aspherical elements as well as SML coating to reduce flare and ghosting caused by highly reflective digital sensors. According to Sigma, the lens also features "excellent correction for vignetting and superior peripheral brightness is ensured." (Street price, $649 in Sigma, Canon, or Nikon (D) AF mount.)

Tamron has also started making lenses intended exclusively for digital SLR cameras, with the first two Di II models to be available this spring. All Di II lenses are designed for enhanced peripheral illumination (to minimize vignetting) and include various countermeasures against internal flare, including new types of multilayered coatings on more lens elements. The optical system ensures that light strikes the CCD or CMOS sensor at an optimal angle for high edge to edge sharpness at any focal length. The SP AF11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di-II LD Aspherical IF (17-28mm equivalent) is particularly impressive with its three aspherical elements plus high index/high dispersion glass and low dispersion optical elements to correct distortion and all types of aberrations. The new AF18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical IF Macro (28-300mm equivalent) is larger than expected considering its small maximum apertures. (It's roughly the size of the multi-platform 28-300mm zoom and requires 62mm filters.) This one includes Extra Refractive glass, three aspherical elements plus two low dispersion elements to produce great image quality. (Estimated street price, $549 US and $449 US respectively.)

All of the Zuiko Digital lenses were designed specifically for the Olympus (www.olympusamerica.com) digital SLRs, so they incorporate the optical strategies required to produce fine image quality. Featuring a super wide 114Þ angle of view, the new ED 7-14mm f/4 (14-28mm equivalent) with protruding front element, is a rectilinear (not fisheye) lens. This "fast" professional zoom is splash and dust proof and features a unique, double-sided "ED glass molded aspherical lens" plus two Super ED and two ED glass elements. The 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 (28-90mm equivalent) zoom is far more affordable, lightweight, and tiny (10 oz; 58mm filter size), but incorporates extensive multilayered coating plus high refractive index glass and two aspherical elements. The third Zuiko Digital lens, the 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 (80-300mm equivalent) is available at an attractive price. Very small (58mm filter size) and lightweight (15.9 oz), this telephoto zoom does not incorporate high-tech optical elements but boasts extensive multilayered coating to minimize ghosting and flare. (Prices not yet set.)