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Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis on Sony: Ideal for Hiking

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon for Sony

Out hiking, I’ve come to a firm conclusion over the past few years: Sony mirrorless with Zeiss Loxia (or Batis) offer a combination of image quality, size and weight and usability that is unrivalled. The Zeiss Loxia lenses concretize the promise of full-frame mirrorless.

Anyone tired of still lugging a DSLR can only hope that CaNikon come to their senses within the next year or so, because while the Sony A7R II has its negatives, the lens line for Sony Mirrorless from Zeiss alone is superb, and I expect that more lenses are coming.

The Sony G Master lenses are excellent, but striking to me based 0n actual “lugging” on this trip is that while excellent, the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM and new Sony 50mm f/1.4 take too much space in the pack (huge hassle for long day hikes!) and are too heavy and too unbalanced on the Sony A7R II for outdoor rough terrain situations. The Zeiss Loxia lineup (manual focus) is perfect, with Zeiss Batis a close second.

See my review of Zeiss Loxia and review of Zeiss Batis.

Fisherman show up right on schedule when the fish stop biting. Warm and sunny is perfect for fishing—if the goal is a day out in the sunshine and a few beers.


Below, best fishing time just ended, with the firsherman all gone two hours ago. I should know, as I caught a 2.5 pound rainbow which made a very fine dinner, grilled.


The Zeiss Loxia are wonderful, but sometimes an iPhone 6s Plus is just handy as below—this little yakitori grill can be had for about $28. It is portable for travel (I put it in the rooftop carrier in my SUV), and it does a bang-up job on trout like this one. A 16.5" 2.5 pound rainbow trout looked like King salmon and tasted quite similar. It was fantastic. Smaller trout cook fine too, but are harder to grill because they are so thin on the tail end. Here I cut the trout into two large chunks. I shared some with nearby campers as it was a bit much for me.

Grilled Rainbow Trout

Nikon D810 Rear LCD with Zacuto Loupe vs Sony-style EVF

Get at B&H Photo: Nikon D810, Zacuto Z-Finder

This is a re-run; the issue keeps coming up in reader emails. B&H Photo has $75 off the 3X Zacuto loupe (recommended).

Miguel B writes:

How does the Nikon D810 + Zacuto Z-Finder compare to the best EVFs you've used in terms of image quality and usability.

This is more like a Live View question, but usability when your eye is in the loupe can highlight issues like needing to see or find buttons without looking.

DIGLLOYD: Readers know I like an EVF, and I sure wish one were an option on the Nikon D810; it solves focusing issues with manual focus lenses (and autofocus, done right!), it eliminates glare, it eliminates mirror slap (mirror already up), some optional EVFs can flip up for shooting at low or high angles, etc.

These are big advantages and when an EVF is offered together with an optical viewfinder, that’s sweet (the Leica M40 does this, but the Leica EVF is marginally better than toy grade, and no match for the Sony A7 series EVFs).

Eyeglass wearers might find an EVF problematic, but a loupe on a rear LCD much more usable. I’ve heard various comments in this regard (I wear contact lenses and skirt the issue).

The D810 rear LCD is excellent, but more or less useless for composing/shooting without a quality loupe like the Zacuto Z-Finder (at least for me, due to glare and presbyopia, both).

I think I actually prefer the D810 rear LCD with the Zacuto Z-Finder over the Sony A7/A7R/A7s EVF in quality and ease on the eye terms, but the Z-Finder is really only useful on a tripod for me (I simply hold it against the rear LCD, no mounting hardware due to conflict with the L bracket). While it is possible to strap a Z-Finder to the rear LCD in various ways, this has never been viable for me, and it’s awkward at best. Good for a dedicated video rig but that’s a pile o' stuff anyway.

The big strength of the EVF is being built-in with little or no extra bulk, and no extra dangling thing around my neck (the loupe). But the D810 rear LCD seems to deliver better contrast and an image easier on my eyes (with the Zacuto Z-Finder).

At about $375, the Z-Finder is not cheap, but the optics are superb and it is absolutely essential to my work, simply the #1 accessory I use (if I drove 200 miles and forgot it, I’d have to turn around and go get it—no kidding). The Z-Finder comes with a base plate, which is entirely useless for me as it cannot be mounted together with the Really Right Stuff L-bracket I use, but it might be useful for handheld shooting for some shooters.

See also:

Michael E writes:

I use the D810 with an early Z-Finder, strapped on with their elastic bands
and balls. I strap it right over my L-Bracket and find it easier that way
that trying to hold it there. I need to be able to focus and hold diffusers
at the same time, so straps work best for me.

Believe it or not I have yet to look through the OVF, even once, and I shoot
everyday.. I use it in the field also, but forget the OVF because my work is all close-up.

DIGLLOYD: works well in a studio; I found it unworkable for field use where I also want to be able to use the OVF. But for some work styles, it might work well and/or be preferable to the OVF.

Panoramas with Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon (Oneida Lake)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Panoramas with the iPhone 6s Plus are unbeatable for being fast and easy and finished product, but this 72-megapixel stitched image (5 frames handheld) can’t be touched in detail or tonal range by the iPhone. It was a few minute job in Photoshop to make this pano.

The Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon on Sony mirrorless is an outstanding choice for such panoramic work.

Oneida Lake, Just Past May Lundy Mine
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Back from Overnights

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Good morning. All subscriptions and renewals and emails have been handled as of 11:30 AM Aug 21.

I was off-grid for several days, shooting 50mm lenses and the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM and a few more things.

The Anker PowerCore 20100+ charged fully-drained Sony A7R II batteries 4 times, as well as some iPhone 6s Plus time and still had half a charge left. No need for solar charging on a trip spanning only 3 nights—better to just take battery power than a solar panel.

The human element gives scale to outdoor images. I played it a little here: what else to do when tired after hiking for 13 hours up in that cirque?

Selfie Clones, Mt Dana
Solo Overnight Camping

Off Grid for a Few Days (now back)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Good morning.

I’ll be off grid for several days, shooting 50mm lenses and the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM and a few more things.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Sigma dp Quattro Cameras $300 / 30% Off + More Deals

See my wish lists at B&H Photo.

B&H Photo has $300 off on the Sigma dp Quattro cameras. All of these cameras have outstanding lenses. Also:

Here’s why I still like my DP Merrills as in Sigma dp Quattro and Sigma DP Merrill Heavily Discounted: they are much more compact and lightweight than the dp Quattro.

Three Sigma DP Merrill cameras in Lupine zippered case


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