Continuing its trend of enhancing the appeal of dSLRs for shooting video, Canon rolled out a new version of its 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 lens with a couple of important upgrades over the current model. The Canon EF-S18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM incorporates a new motor designed to provide quiet video performance, much like its STM stepper-motor lenses but with the improved still-photo focus speed of its higher-end ultrasonic motor, along with a connector to support the company's new power-zoom adapter accessory.
The new lens will be priced at $600 (directly converted, £420, AU$836), only $50 more than the STM version (which currently runs £320, AU$590), and will ship in March as a kit lens for the EOS 80D. The Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1 will follow in June for $150 (directly converted, £105, AU$210).
Canon dubs the motor tech "Nano USM," and says that it provides STM-like smooth autofocus, but offers 4.3x faster focus at 135mm and 2.5x faster AF at 18mm.
The power-zoom adapter is a unit that locks to the bottom of the lens and allows you to drive the zoom via a camcorder-like zoom switch that mechanically turns the zoom ring, at speeds from 2.4 to 14 seconds to traverse the entire focal range. There's a manual-zoom override, and it runs on 4AAA batteries. It will only work with lenses equipped with the connector, which for now means just the 18-135mm USM.
It does zoom quite smoothly, and though clunky looking makes a good handhold or rest to prop up the camera. Unlike most power-zoom lenses for mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, it doesn't compromise the optics to collapse into a smaller package, which means ultimately support could be incoprorated into higher-end lenses. And you'll be able to control it via Canon's remote-shooting app. The one thing I wish it had was the ability to program start and stop focal lengths.
It's an interesting approach, but it also feels like a stopgap; that there should be some more elegant solution forthcoming, one that might support legacy lenses instead of just future lenses. Especially since I doubt Canon will start putting the connector on all upcoming lenses, just selected ones.
Canon also introduced an accessory directional microphone, the Directional Stereo Microphone DM-E1, which it plans to ship in June for $250 (£175 and AU$348, directly converted).
While it's no Photokina, Japan's annual camera show CP+ still sees its share of new cameras and related announcements.
Feb 24Panasonic offers a better-than-kit lens option for Micro Four Thirds
Feb 23Sigma's first mirrorless cameras are exactly what we'd expect
Feb 23Sigma reveals another couple of lenses you're probably going to want
Feb 23Nikon DL24-500 gives photo enthusiasts a big zoom with a big sensor