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Trip Through the Canon Store: Wide-Angle Lenses

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A lens is a tool. Most people forget that for some reason but simply enough, a lens is a tool that we use to make an image. Like all tools, at the risk of overextending the analogy, the better the tool, the better the finished project.

In our last installment, we discussed the basic facts related to lenses and then looked at Canon’s ultra-wide zoom lenses. If you didn’t read that article, you really should because it explains the basic mechanics of how a lens works.

Today, we’re going to look at the company’s fixed focal length, wide-angle lenses. I have always been a fan of prime lenses. Prime lenses are defined as lenses with a fixed focal length versus zoom lenses which have a range of focal lengths. I like prime lenses because they are generally very well made and typically cost less than zoom lenses. I also like prime lenses because they typically have a larger maximum aperture than zooms and often weigh less than zoom lenses.

There are, however, advantages to using zoom lenses. Zooms obviously cover a broader focal range, thus eliminating the need to carry multiple lenses. If you purchase a zoom, I highly suggest buying one that has a fixed maximum aperture throughout the entire zoom range. Although more costly, they are worth the investment.

Canon’s Wide-Angle Lens Selection
Canon currently manufactures nine prime wide-angle lenses. Of the nine, one lens is a fisheye and three of the lenses are L-series.

EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM: This pro-series lens has an amazing 114-degree angle of view and is a perfect lens for architectural applications. The lens also features better optical elements that reduce problems in edge-to-edge sharpness. It is dust- and moisture-proof and the ultrasonic motor (that’s the USM designation) means you’ll get faster and more responsive autofocus. This lens isn’t cheap, though. Expect to pay between $2000-$2200 US for this pro-series lens.

EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM: This pro-series lens has an amazing 114-degree angle of view and is a perfect lens for architectural applications. The lens also features better optical elements that reduce problems in edge-to-edge sharpness. It is dust- and moisture-proof and the ultrasonic motor (that’s the USM designation) means you’ll get faster and more responsive autofocus. This lens isn’t cheap, though. Expect to pay between $2000-$2200 US for this pro-series lens.

Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens: If you’ve never seen images made with a fisheye lens, you’ve missed out. The fisheye lens has a 180-degree angle of view and barrel distortion giving the image a curved look. With its f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens works well for photographing fast-action subjects and with its 8 inch minimum focus distance, you can get really close and really wide. This is a specialized lens and you probably won’t use it everyday. But when you need to give your images a different look, this is a go-to lens to have in your camera bag. The lens isn’t priced too bad, either. You can expect to find this lens for about $625-$725 US.

Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens: If you’ve never seen images made with a fisheye lens, you’ve missed out. The fisheye lens has a 180-degree angle of view and barrel distortion giving the image a curved look. With its f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens works well for photographing fast-action subjects and with its 8 inch minimum focus distance, you can get really close and really wide. This is a specialized lens and you probably won’t use it everyday. But when you need to give your images a different look, this is a go-to lens to have in your camera bag. The lens isn’t priced too bad, either. You can expect to find this lens for about $625-$725 US.

EF 20mm f/2.8 USM: This is a nice lens to have if you need to get wide and maintain a big maximum aperture. Plus, this lens is fairly well priced. You can expect to pick one up for about $450 US.

EF 20mm f/2.8 USM: This is a nice lens to have if you need to get wide and maintain a big maximum aperture. Plus, this lens is fairly well priced. You can expect to pick one up for about $450 US.

EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: This is one of my favorite wide-angle lenses. First of all, it produces needle-sharp images from corner-to-corner. Second, its ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture is ideal for photojournalists who may be shooting in tight spaces with less-than-ideal lighting. Also, this lens offers extremely pleasing bokeh (the out-of-focus, soft blur when using a shallow depth of field). The ultrasonic motor allows for highly responsive and quiet autofocus. Again, being a pro-series lens, the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM isn’t cheap. Expect to pay between $1700-$1800 US.

EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM: This is one of my favorite wide-angle lenses. First of all, it produces needle-sharp images from corner-to-corner. Second, its ultra-fast f/1.4 maximum aperture is ideal for photojournalists who may be shooting in tight spaces with less-than-ideal lighting. Also, this lens offers extremely pleasing bokeh (the out-of-focus, soft blur when using a shallow depth of field). The ultrasonic motor allows for highly responsive and quiet autofocus. Again, being a pro-series lens, the EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM isn’t cheap. Expect to pay between $1700-$1800 US.

EF 24mm f/2.8: This lens is really ideal for students interested in photography but not ready - or able - to make a huge financial investment. The lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a great focal length to get into wide-angle photography. It has a minimum focus distance of 10 inches, which lets you get fairly close to your subject. You can pick this lens up for about $310 US.

EF 24mm f/2.8: This lens is really ideal for students interested in photography but not ready - or able - to make a huge financial investment. The lens has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 and a great focal length to get into wide-angle photography. It has a minimum focus distance of 10 inches, which lets you get fairly close to your subject. You can pick this lens up for about $310 US.

EF 28mm f/2.8: This lens is considered a good standard wide-angle lens. It’s a nice walk around lens because its both lightweight (185g) and offers a nice focal length for general photographic work. Again, this isn’t an expensive lens. You can find one for about $200 US.

EF 28mm f/2.8: This lens is considered a good standard wide-angle lens. It’s a nice walk around lens because its both lightweight (185g) and offers a nice focal length for general photographic work. Again, this isn’t an expensive lens. You can find one for about $200 US.

EF 35mm f/1.4L USM: This is another great lens I enjoy using. It has a super fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 and is a really well-made lens. For those of you who don’t own a full frame camera, which many Canon digital cameras have a 1.6x magnification ratio, this lens is a really nice portrait lens because it gives you an actual focal length of 56mm. The bokeh effect of this lens is also aesthetically pleasing. Like most pro, L-series lenses, this one isn’t too cheap. Expect to part with $1200-$1400 US for this lens.

EF 35mm f/1.4L USM: This is another great lens I enjoy using. It has a super fast maximum aperture of f/1.4 and is a really well-made lens. For those of you who don’t own a full frame camera, which many Canon digital cameras have a 1.6x magnification ratio, this lens is a really nice portrait lens because it gives you an actual focal length of 56mm. The bokeh effect of this lens is also aesthetically pleasing. Like most pro, L-series lenses, this one isn’t too cheap. Expect to part with $1200-$1400 US for this lens.

EF 35mm f/2: This is a less-priced lens that still offers the 35mm focal length and a fast aperture. Although it’s not as solidly built as the EF 35 f/1.4L USM lens, it still offers the photographer a compact, lightweight and relatively low-cost lens. You can purchase this lens for about $300 US.

EF 35mm f/2: This is a less-priced lens that still offers the 35mm focal length and a fast aperture. Although it’s not as solidly built as the EF 35 f/1.4L USM lens, it still offers the photographer a compact, lightweight and relatively low-cost lens. You can purchase this lens for about $300 US.

EF 28mm f/1.8 USM: A nice all-around lens, this model offers a super fast maximum aperture and sharp edge-to-edge images across the aperture range. A good student lens, you can purchase this model for about $450 US.

EF 28mm f/1.8 USM: A nice all-around lens, this model offers a super fast maximum aperture and sharp edge-to-edge images across the aperture range. A good student lens, you can purchase this model for about $450 US.

Sample image from the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

For our next installment, we’ll discuss Canon’s standard and medium telephoto prime lenses. Good luck and keep shooting!

Sample image from the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Sample image from the Canon's EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye lens. (Photo Credit: Image from Canon)

Hasselblad Wins Third Award in Three Months

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

Hasselblad has won the Technical Image Press Association’s TIPA award – one of the photo industry’s most prestigious awards worldwide – for “Best Medium-Format D-System in 2009,” making it the third honor bestowed on the company this year. In January, the H3DII-50 won Professional Photographer’s coveted Hot One Award. Earlier this month, the camera was named Product of the Year at Russia’s Photoforum 2009.
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As announced on TIPA’s Website,  on April 17, editors of 25 renowned photography magazines from 11 European countries honored the Hasselblad H3D system, when they convened this week in Budapest, Hungary, to select the industry’s top European imaging products from the past 12 months.

In making its choice, the TIPA jury said, “Hasselblad’s H3DII-50 is the first camera to feature Kodak’s 50 megapixel sensor, measuring 36x48mm and twice the physical size of the largest 35mm DSLR sensors. The H3DII-50 provides full 48mm coverage and has been designed to provide an ideal solution for any photographer who demands both creative flexibility and ultimate image quality and resolution.”

In a secret vote for the best photographic and imaging products introduced in Europe during the past year, TIPA editors took into account innovation, the use of leading-edge technology, the design and ergonomics of the products, and their ease of use and price/performance ratio.

Christian Poulsen, CEO of Hasselblad, commented: “Hasselblad is again proud to accept this prestigious award. This honor demonstrates Hasselblad’s vision of providing the world’s best photographers with the most advanced camera system, enabling them to create the world’s best images. With H3DII-50, new components including the HCD 35-90mm zoom lens, HTS 1.5 Tilt & Shift Adaptor, and Phocus software, Hasselblad is helping photographers break creative barriers and achieve image quality that was not possible even six months ago.”

Trip Through the Canon Store: Ultra-Wide Zoom Lenses

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A lens is a tool. Most people forget that for some reason but simply enough, a lens is a tool that we use to make an image. Like all tools, at the risk of overextending the analogy, the better the tool, the better the finished project. I hear from people asking about lenses and I spend some time trying to explain them. I will go into great detail about lenses in future posts but for the sake of time, let’s make a few things clear:

  • Lenses are Measured in Focal Length: The focal length is the definition of how strongly an optic system focuses (converges) or diffuses (diverges) light. The focal length is measured, as a rule, in millimeters and it is the measurement from the optical center of the lens to the focal point on the image sensor (or film).
  • Focal Lengths Based on 35mm Film Standards: With the popularity of 35mm cameras, the focal length is based on that measurement. IF you have a camera that has a image sensor smaller than a 35mm camera’s film surface, which most digital camera image sensors ARE smaller than film, there is a multiplier you must use. For instance, the image sensor on a Canon EOS Rebel XS is 22.2mm x 14.8mm. The dimensions of 35mm film is 35mm wide (actually, it’s 36mm wide but you have to take in consideration spacing between the frames and room for the perforations). So, the EOS Rebel XS in our scenario has a magnification rate of about 1.6x.
  • Do the Math: So if you purchase a 20mm lens, it would be at 20mm on a film camera or 20mm x 1.6 or 32mm – in case you don’t want to do the math – on a digital camera.
  • This is Photography, Not Math. Why is it Important?: Well, simply put, if your camera has a magnification ratio, then you’re not getting as wide of an angle as you want. Let’s say you really want a 14mm lens because you’re shooting wide landscapes or large groups. OK, but your camera has a 1.5x magnification factor. So, you’re really getting a 21mm lens.
  • What are the Alternatives: Camera and lens manufacturers have settled the problem for the most part. They have made “full-frame” sensors that are close enough to the size of 35mm film that the magnification ratio has little impact. Secondly, these companies have also made “digital specific” lenses that already calculate the magnification ratio into the millimeter measurement. For instance, the Canon 5D Mark II is full frame, so if you buy a lens, you’re going to get the focal length as measured for film. Also, Nikon makes full-frame cameras (called FX format), which includes the D3 and D700 plus they make DX format (digital specific) lenses, which already account for the magnification.

Enough with the math, right? Just remember, unless you’re buying a digital-specific lens or your camera is full frame, the focal length of you lens is multiplied by the magnification factor.

Aperture Settings
Professional grade cameras, for the most part, have a fixed aperture value versus a variable aperture. Fixed aperture lenses have a constant maximum aperture throughout the zoom range. A variable aperture lens changes its maximum aperture in regards to the zoom. For instance, a 28-70mm f/4-f/5.6 lens means at 28mms, the maximum aperture is f/4 whereas at the high-end of the zoom range (70mm) the maximum aperture has reduced to f/5.6.

Variable aperture lenses are not normally as well constructed as the fixed aperture counterparts. The advantages, however, tend to be less weight and lower cost. Remember, the aperture value effects the depth-of-field you can achieve.

Canon’s Ultra-Wide Lenses
Canon makes three ultra-wide lenses: the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM; the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM; and the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM.

16to35

The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

10to22

The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM

17to40

The Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM

EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
This pro-level lens (Canon’s professional lenses typically have the “L” designation) is perfect for those who need wide angle capabilities and a big maximum aperture. On any Canon digital that does not have full frame, this lens will give you the focal length equivalent of a 26-56mm lens while still retaining the f/2.8 aperture value. This lens is ideal for photojournalists, landscape photographers and wedding photographers who shoot big groups in often poorly lit churches. It’s a relatively heavy lens (640 grams) mainly because it needs big glass for the fast shutter. The ultrasonic motor (that’s the USM designation) delivers fast and silent autofocusing. This isn’t a cheap lens, either. Expect to pay nearly $1500-$1900 US for this piece of glass. Is it worth it? Depends. If you’re interested in photojournalism or documentary photography or have a goal of becoming a wedding photographer, then yes. This piece of glass will be around to stay.

EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
This consumer-grade lens is designed specifically for Canon digital cameras that LACK full frame sensors, so basically most Canon cameras (You can tell by the EF-S designation that it’s for digital specific cameras). This lens is the equivalent to a 16-35mm zoom lens. This is also a variable aperture lens, meaning the biggest aperture setting is f/3.5 at 10mm and at 22mm it’s f/4.5. It’s a little more than half the weight of the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM (385 grams). This lens will not, however, cost as much. You can find this lens for about $750-$850 US.

EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
The last lens on our ultra-wide zoom lens list is the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM. Think of this lens as the compromise lens between the high-priced EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and the consumer-grade EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. This is still a pro series (L series) lens and still offers a great wide angle zoom range. For cameras that are not full framed, this is the focal length equivalent of a 27-64mm lens while still retaining the fast (but not real fast) f/4 maximum aperture. I like this lens and use it often. I find it to be a high-quality lens for a relatively low price. You can purchase this lens for about $700-$850 US. While not as wide as the 10-22mm lens mentioned above, I’ve never found myself too limited by its focal length. I highly recommend this lens as a good “walking around lens” because its range is going to work for a variety of assignments.

In the next installment, we’ll discuss Canon’s wide angle prime lenses.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Olympus Posts Finalist Images and Kicks Off Public Voting for ‘Photographer of Tomorrow’ Contest

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

Olympus today unveiled the 20 finalist images for the second annual Photographers of Tomorrow contest, commencing the public vote portion – which is new this year! The contest is designed to inspire students enrolled in top photography programs across the country. This year’s theme is “YOUR WORLD: The Art of Technology Through Your Eyes” and all images were captured using E-System products. The 20 finalist images were chosen by award-winning Olympus Visionaries, professional photographers Larry C. Price, Maki Kawakita and Nick Kelsh.
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While many students participated in the contest, there can only be one (popular vote) winner. Through May 15, 2009 the public is encouraged to visit www.olympusamerica.com/yourworld to vote for the student who best captured the innovation or technology that had the greatest impact on his/her life.

“The Photographers of Tomorrow contest is a way for the next generation of pro photographers to showcase their work nationally, build their portfolios, and be recognized by their peers and critiqued by some of the world’s most accomplished photographers,” said John Knaur, senior marketing manager, Digital SLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc. “The online popular vote is a great way for fans to view unique photography and to support young, gifted photographers.”

In June, the winner of the public vote will be announced and will receive an Olympus E-520 kit. Additionally, one grand-prize winner chosen by our esteemed judges will receive a $5,000 scholarship and an Olympus E-3 camera, ED 12-60mm f2.8/4.0 SWD Zoom lens, ED 50-200mm f2.8/3.5 SWD Zoom lens and gadget bag. The Grand Prize winning student’s professor will also receive a matching Olympus E-3 outfit.

The Olympus E-System is designed with revolutionary features that expand the frontiers of digital photography. Based on the Four Thirds Standard, Olympus offers 100 percent digital lenses for edge-to-edge sharpness in a durable, yet portable design. Olympus pioneered Full-Time Live View, Dust Reduction and other technologies for DSLRs, leading where others have followed.

New E-System cameras provide easy-to-use Art Filters, Multiple Exposures and Multi-Aspect Shooting (built right into the camera) for capturing creative images on the go – without being tethered to a computer and editing software. Proof that Olympus technology combines innovative features with intuitive product design to enhance what you see and what you can do.

This year’s finalists include students from the Art Institute of Colorado, Hallmark Institute of Photography, Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Texas A&M University at Commerce and the University of Missouri. Complete rules and regulations are available at www.olympusamerica.com/yourworld.

About the Judges

  • Larry C. Price – A two time Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Price has published photographs in Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and National Geographic among others and has worked as an industry leading photojournalist and a photo editor at many of the country’s top newspapers and newswires.
  • Maki Kawakita – A rising star in the global photographic scene and known for her “Kabuki Pop” style, Kawakita divides her time between celebrity portraiture, commercial work and a personal series she calls “Makirama.” She has photographed numerous celebrities and pop and style icons including Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Hillary Duff and many more. Kawakita’s Japanese, American and European influences shape her style and creativity, making her one of America’s most coveted fashion photographers.
  • Nick Kelsh – One of the world’s top photographers, shooting for many of the “Day in the Life” series of books, and a renowned family and commercial photographer, Kelsh has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and has written numerous best-selling books including Siblings with Anna Quindlen and How to Photograph Your Baby. Kelsh is best known for his radiant, engaging, black and white images of children and babies.

About the Olympus Visionary Program
Established by Olympus Imaging America Inc. in partnership with some of today’s most talented photographers, the Olympus Visionary program is dedicated to creating superb digital images with the help of Olympus’ digital cameras and lenses. Olympus Visionaries span all fields of photography and work in a diversity of styles and subject matter, but they are united in realizing their creative vision through digital photography. The Visionaries use Olympus digital cameras in their daily assignments and personal work; participate in speaking engagements and appearances; and provide Olympus with input into equipment development. The Visionaries include several Pulitzer Prize-winning and Magnum photographers, as well as internationally-renowned photographers who have photographed assignments around the world.

The Sigma DP2 featured in the New York Post

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

The Sigma Corporation of America is planning to launch its DP2 at the end of April and it’s already being met with great anticipation.
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The New York Post recently ran an article in its April 12 technology section focusing on the hottest new cameras on the market. The Sigma DP2 was at the forefront of the post, selected for providing users with the “Best Old-School Experience” by combining the beauty of traditional design with innovative technology advancements. Check out the full New York Post article.

Written by jeremyparce

April 15, 2009 at 10:12 am

April Issue of VICTOR Now Online

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The latest issue of Hasselblad’s VICTOR online magazine is now available. Here’s a preview of what’s in store:

victor4_2009cover

  • Hasselblad headline highlights: introduction of the HCD 35-90mm zoom lens . . . the H3DII-50 wins Professional Photographer magazine’s Hot One Award . . . new Phocus features for Mac and Windows users.
  • German fashion photographer Manuel Pandalis went back in time to his years in the music business to create the glam rock mood of the early 1970s for his recent contemporary fashion shoot. It rocks!
  • It is not every day you get a chance to photograph a phenomenon. Claus Peter Dudek did when he captured the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, the fastest and most expensive sports car in the world.
  • The race of the megapixels heats up with an exclusive photo shoot. VICTOR compared a 35mm DSLR with a 21.1-megapixel sensor to the Hasselblad H3DII-31. The winner? Hint: It was no surprise.
  • You may be familiar with the work of these top 10 international photographers, but you’ll see them in a new light when you find out how they each define the word “passion.” Their visual responses are positively riveting.

Watch for the upcoming issue of the online magazine on May 1. The eye-catching portraits by South African fine arts and commercial photographer Michael Meyersfeld will capture your imagination.

Written by jeremyparce

April 15, 2009 at 8:27 am

Nikon Introduces Versatile Ultra Wide-Angle 10-24mm DX-Format Nikkor Lens

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I will often publish media releases related to photography on this blog in order to help keep you informed. These media releases are created by the respective companies. I edit the releases for space as needed.

Nikon Inc. today announced the next addition to the expansive NIKKOR lineup with the new AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens, giving photographers the opportunity to capture a unique perspective in a variety of shooting environments. Compact and lightweight, the new 2.4x zoom DX-NIKKOR lens offers a focal length of 10 to 24mm, creating a picture angle ranging from 109-degrees to 61-degrees
(FX-format equivalent of 15-36mm) making it ideal for a variety of applications including restrictive interiors, architecture and sweeping landscapes.
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“The development and release of the 10-24mm f/ 3.5-4.5 DX-NIKKOR lens continues Nikon’s tradition of providing expertly engineered tools for photographers to realize their unique creative vision,” said Edward Fasano, General Manager for marketing, SLR Systems Products at Nikon Inc. “The ultra wide-angle 10-24mm lens offers DX-format digital SLR shooters the outstanding performance for which NIKKOR optics are well-known and the opportunity to capture dramatic perspectives that only wide-angle lenses can achieve.”

The AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens offers an array of versatile Nikon technologies, including Nikon’s compact Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology for quiet, fast and accurate autofocus performance. An advanced optical formula, featuring two extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and three aspherical lens elements renders stunning images while minimizing distortion, a common problem with ultra wide-angle lenses.

A rounded diaphragm opening, combined with the seven-blade aperture, contributes to the 10-24mm lens’ ability to capture images with soft background effects, referred to by experienced photographers as the “bokeh.” Additionally, the new DX-NIKKOR lens offers the user two focus modes; manual and automatic and features an M/A mode that allows the photographer to quickly switch between the two modes. Both use an internal focusing (IF) design that enhances AF speed and eliminates lens barrel rotation and changes to lens barrel length during focusing.

Fully compatible with Nikon’s complete line of DX-format digital SLR cameras – including the D300, D90, D60, D40 and the newly announced D5000 – the AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens enables photographers to broaden their view in new and interesting ways. FX-format shooters can also benefit from the AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, as Nikon’s FX-format cameras – the D3X, D3, and D700 – will automatically apply the DX-Crop Mode when shooting.

The AF-S DX-NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED will be available at Nikon authorized dealers beginning May 2009 at an estimated selling price of $899.95. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.