Sunday, December 22, 2013

fō-tō-gră-fē's Product of the Year

Every other website does a product of the year, so we may as well do the same thing.

Most other websites are either picking cameras or picking multiple products, but in my opinion, there is only one thing out there that deserves recognition: the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 lens.

Many other websites are choosing the Olympus E-M1 or the Sony A7/A7R. This is nonsense. I've grown too tired of companies producing amazing cameras and then doing shit to support them, or, worse still, doing shit and then trying to charge ridiculous amounts for it. After Sony pulled that with the NEX-7, I swore: never again.

No matter how good the E-M1, GX7, or A7R currently are or will be in future iterations, they are still the products of traditional camera market thinking. They all want to develop a system from which they can squeeze money. They all want to be the next Canon and Nikon in the same way that every damned cell phone company wants to be the next Apple.

Never once in their product meetings does anyone ask "how can we make the best product for the lowest price?" Not once. They start by asking "how can we charge the amount of money that we want to charge." Sigma did this to wide-spread derision with the original, $10,000 price for the SD1.

Sigma learned its lesson hard, though, and came back stronger and smarter for it. The 18-35mm lens is top-pro quality glass for only $800. And as any good photog will tell you, it's more about the lens than the camera.

There has been much discussion this year as to whether it is truly worth it for many people, even pros, to use full frame gear. The lenses are more expensive and larger, the sensors are more expensive, and the files are larger. It becomes increasingly hard when cameras such as the Fuji X-trans sensor and the Nikon D7100 perform amazingly, even at low light.

This is a good discussion to be having, and one that the camera companies do not want us to be having. Camera companies spend all of their time thinking about how they can talk you into buying something more expensive. They do not think about making what you already have better. As such, Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic would have never released the 18-35mm lens. They would have kept that design a closely-guarded secret and only sold it for an incredibly-high price if they even sold it at all.

That's why the Sigma is our product of the year. It changes the paradigm. None of the cameras or lenses released by the major companies changes they paradigm. They may be very good products, but they all toe the industry line. If you own an APS-C camera, you need to own the Sigma.

Since I'm focusing... ahem... so much on lenses, I would like to mention some others that deserve attention. SLR Magic and Voitlander continue to produce some amazing lenses for amazing prices. Zeiss wowed the world (at least partially because I think everyone assumed that Zeiss forgot how to make good lenses) with its mind-blowing Otus 55mm f/1.4. I would like to choose one of these lenses, but in this day and age, autofocus is a necessity to consider a product an award-winner. Niche markets may be fine with manual-focus, but an award does not go to a niche product.

So with that said, this will probably be the last post of the year. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may all your photos be in focus and exposed correctly.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to have pre-ordered this before everyone knew how amazing it was. I swear, I was the first in the country to get one.

    I LOVE IT. It's the best lens that I have ever used. I have it on my old Canon 50D and cannot speak highly enough of it. Autofocus accuracy is a little off. Other than that, the lens is flawless.

    Along with that I use the Canon 50mm f1.4, the 60mm macro, and the 85mm f1.8. A great kit.


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