The Lens Scene: From Weatherproof to Wide Angle, Lenses Expand Creativity—and Sales

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By RoseEllen Sanfilippo- Spring has finally arrived, bringing with it thoughts of not-so-far-off vacations, family outings and lazy days at the beach—all of which create perfect photo opportunities that can translate into perfect profit opportunities for you.

As the spring selling season gets under way, savvy retailers should be enticing their customers with kits and bundles that add value to new camera purchases while whetting their growing appetite for photographic creativity.

The digital SLR market remains fertile ground for expanded profit prospects, with every add-on from flash units to appealing lens options. And joining DSLRs is a growing niche of hybrid SLR-type compact cameras, from the likes of Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung, whose most attractive feature is their ability to accept interchangeable lenses.

The high-margin lens category has benefited from rapid developments in imaging technologies, allowing manufacturers to offer models that represent the most cost-effective and satisfying way for consumers to extend their shooting range, enhance their picture-taking capability and explore their creative potential.

Here is a sampling of some of the latest lenses your customers can add to their imaging arsenal.

Pentax Weather-Resistant D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR Lens
Built with weather-resistant construction, this macro lens is geared for outdoor photography. It features a high-grade aluminum barrel with an exterior design and finish unique to Pentax D FA series lenses, and the entire mechanism of the focus ring was upgraded to assure seamless manual-focus operation. The D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR is the first Pentax interchangeable macro lens with a completely rounded diaphragm blade, to create a natural bokeh at wide apertures while minimizing the streaking effect of point light sources.

Pentax WR lenses employ simplified weather-resistant construction to repel water and moisture, and SP (Super Protect) surface coatings to repel dust, water and grease and to minimize fingerprints. The lens features: a 153mm equivalent focal length; a working distance of just over five inches; Pentax’s quick-shift focus system for quickly switching to manual-focus operation after the subject is captured in focus by the camera’s AF system; an image circle to accommodate a 35mm film-format image size; and compatibility with the macro adapter in Pentax’s AF160FC auto macro ring flash. $849.95.

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14–42mm Lens for G-Series Cameras
Developed for the Lumix G Micro system, the ultra-compact, lightweight Lumix G Vario 14–42mm f/3.5–5.6 Asph/Mega OIS (optical image stabilization) lens offers a versatile 28–84mm equivalent zoom range, making it suitable for a variety of scenes from landscape to portrait. The lens is now offered as part of the lens kit for the latest additions to Panasonic’s Lumix G series: the DMC-G10 and DMC-G2. Adopting an inner-focus system driven by a stepping motor, its optical design supports the high-speed AF system of Lumix G cameras. When mounted on any of these cameras, the lens allows users to maximize all of the AF system’s functions.

Other features include: a minimum focus distance of 30cm; a maximum magnification of 0.32x (equivalent); seven aperture blades make up a circular aperture diaphragm to produce a smoothness in out-of-focus areas, even when shooting at a large aperture; multicoated lens elements designed to reduce blur; and an aspherical lens to improve optical performance by minimizing distortion, even at the 28mm wide end.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200–400mm f/4G ED VR Pro Lens
For pro sports, nature and travel photographers, this lens offers a constant maximum aperture of f/4, die-cast magnesium construction, Vibration Reduction (VR) II technology and optimized autofocus modes. The 200–400mm lens benefits from Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat, to reduce ghosting and flaring. Additionally, its VR II image stabilization, specifically engineered for each lens to reduce image blur caused by camera shake and telephoto magnification, lets users shoot four stops slower than otherwise. VR is augmented with automatic panning detection and active VR mode to compensate for movement from an unstable position, like a moving vehicle. It’s engaged in D-Movie mode on select Nikon DSLRs, helping to stabilize HD video capture.

Sealed to resist dust and moisture, the lens offers pro focusing features; photographers select from manual, autofocus with manual override, and A/M modes, the latter used to avoid canceling the AF setting by unintentionally moving the focus ring. They can also activate the AF recall mode for instant return to a predetermined point of focus. Other features include: four ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements to minimize chromatic aberration; Silent Wave Motor technology for quiet autofocus; and super integrated coating to suppress flare and offer color consistency. $6,999.95.

Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5–5.6 DC HSM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens
Sigma’s first ultra-wide zoom lens with a minimum focal length of 8mm is designed specifically for APS-C size image sensors; it has an equivalent angle of view of a 12–24mm lens when used on cameras with APS-C size sensors. Its 121.2º wide viewing angle produces images with exaggerated perspective, so subjects can be emphasized. Four FLD (F-low dispersion) glass elements, said to have the performance equal to fluorite glass, compensate for color aberration. One hybrid aspherical lens and two glass mold elements provide distortion and astigmatism correction.

Super multilayer coating works to reduce flare and ghosting while peripheral brightness helps to ensure high-contrast images throughout its zoom range. Other features include: an internal focusing system; a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quiet, high-speed autofocus; full-time manual focus capability; a minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches; an overall length of 4.2 inches and a maximum diameter of 2.9 inches. $1,100.

Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Second-Generation Lens
The most popular focal range in Canon’s telephoto lineup, the EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens is engineered for everything from fast-action sports to studio portraits. Built for the pro, its body was enhanced to provide better durability without a significant increase in weight. It has a magnesium alloy barrel as well as protective seals and fittings to provide dust and water resistance.

Canon also redesigned the internal elements, incorporating a fluorite element and a fifth UD element to help minimize secondary chromatic aberrations and improve contrast and resolution through the entire zoom range. Also provided is improved AF speed, a reduced minimum focusing distance of 3.9 feet, enhanced image stabilization to compensate for shutter speeds four steps slower than 1/focal length, a wider focusing ring, and a new bayonet mount on the front with a locking mechanism to ensure the supplied lens hood remains in place. The EF 70–200mm is compatible with Canon’s existing EF1.4X II and EF2X II extenders as well as EF extension tubes and the 77mm close-up lens 500D. $2,499.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14–150mm f/4.0–5.6 Micro Four Thirds Lens
For the digitally dedicated Micro Four Thirds system, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14–150mm f/4.0–5.6 lens is compact enough to fit in a jacket pocket and complements the design of Olympus’s Pen cameras. With the Micro Four Thirds system, light rays strike the imaging element nearly head-on for edge-to-edge reproduction. It also enables more compact design than the Four Thirds standard because it reduces the outer diameter of the lens mount by 6mm and the distance from the mount to the sensor by half.

Made with ED glass, the 28–300mm equivalent wide-angle to telephoto lens is 65% smaller and 70% lighter than comparable 10x Zuiko Digital lenses, making it suitable for portraits and indoor scenes to sports and landscape photography. Its inner focusing mechanism is designed for fast, quiet autofocus during still and video capture, while its manual focusing mechanism is engineered to offer a responsive feel. The lens works with all Micro Four Thirds Olympus Pen cameras and all cameras in the Micro Four Thirds standard. It ships early June. $599.99.

Tamron SP AF17–50mm f/2.8 XR VC Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
A high-speed wide-to-moderate telephoto lens designed for Canon and Nikon-mount DSLRs with smaller sensors, the SP AF17–50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] (model B005) features Tamron’s tri-axial Vibration Compensation (VC) mechanism to minimize the effects of camera shake. Covering the popular 17–50mm focal length range (26–78mm equivalent), its wide aperture provides practical advantages in low-light shooting and aesthetic image control.

The lens is designed to deliver sharpness and contrast over its entire focal length and aperture range, and at its maximum aperture of f/2.8 it produces images enhanced by shallow depth of field and natural transitions in out-of-focus areas (bokeh). To enhance photographic freedom, its VC technology provides more opportunities for handheld photography (four stops) at the slow shutter speeds needed when shooting in low light. $625.

Lenses Shown:

Canon EF 70–200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

Pentax D FA Macro 100mm f/2.8 WR

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14–150mm f/4.0–5.6

Sigma 8–16mm f/4.5–5.6 DC HSM

Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14–42mm f/3.5–5.6 Asph/Mega OIS

Tamron SP AF17–50mm f/2.8 XR VC Di II LD Aspherical (IF)

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200–400mm f/4G ED VR

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