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Kolarivision Sony A7R II with Leica M Lenses: Coming Soon

See previous coverage on the Kolarivision modifications to Sony mirrorless to deliver far superior performance with Leica M lenses. This coverage has been, and will be in Guide to Leica because lens performance is always covered in the native guide. But as before, I’ll likely show some examples elsewhere

Coming soon is a Kolarivison-modified Sony A7R II in which the sensor cover glass has been replaced by glass the same thickness as the Leica M (sensor cover glass still has negative effects even on a a Leica M240, but far less than the thick glass as shipped with Sony mirrorless).

My intent is to compare an unmodified Sony A7R II to a modified modified version, using various wide angle lenses as well as the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH (which is impaired until at least f/5.6 on a stock Sony, even though it is a 50mm lens). However, a trip to Germany very soon for a special event may delay it by a week or so.

Note well the absurdity being bandied about on internet that the new sensor in the Sony A7R II can somehow undo astigmatism caused by the thick sensor cover glass. Such claims are an exercise in optical ignorance—never mind optical facts. However, the new Sony A7R II sensor is far superior for color shading.

For an example of just how severe the quality losses can be, see the MTF series and through-focus MTF for the world-class Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (courtesy of Zeiss)—its world-class performance rendered mediocre by thick sensor cover glass. A jewel into paste glass, just because of the sensor cover glass (until stopped down to f/8 or more).

See also:


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How about $10,000 off an original price of $13995?

What an interesting commentary on the rapid pace of advance in the video area.

Sony PMW-F3L Super 35mm XDCAM EX Full-HD Compact Camcorder with S-Log Gamma $10,000 OFF (was $13995).


Sony PMW-F3L Super 35mm XDCAM EX Full-HD Compact Camcorder with S-Log Gamma
Get the superb Zeiss Batis and Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
Batis 25/2 and 85/1.8 shipping mid-July. Pre-order now!
Reviewed in: Guide to Mirrorless

Finding Deals on Cameras, Lenses, Macs or anything else at B&H

Recently this site added a new feature: a deals page that is updated every half hour.

It’s a very handy way to search. With just a click or two:

The percent discount cutoff can be changed to another value, so if you’re looking for the deepest discount click the change... link found right under the brand or category name.

Deals are updated every half our or so, although B&H pricing may actually change only 2 or 3 times per day. Still, what is shown is “live” to within a short time period.

Tip: bookmark the deals page or several variants of it, put them into a browser tab group, and thus in one click all your favorite areas can be viewed rapid-fire.

EXAMPLE: Apple deals of at least 8% off. More:

Macs, 4K Television, Printers, View All Deals...
SONY, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, ZEISS
Updated every half hour!

Image below is a screen shot. Click to go to the deals page.

Deals page excerpt
Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

Photo Tours: Fall Color, Late Fall, Custom

I have good flexibility from late September through October for personalized photo tours. These are personalized tours intended to cater specifically to participant interests (typically I do 1:1, but sometimes a husband and wife, or two friends, etc). We shoot in peace and quiet, and enjoy the best of the area. See the photo tours page for general info.

Contact Lloyd.

Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Brilliant Aspen Looking Towards Bishop CA

Fall color is all well and good, but there are unique opportunites at every turn.

  Drought-killed Trout, Late September 2014 Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ5.6
Drought-killed Trout

How many thousands of years has this bristlecone staged this same view towards the Sierra Nevada? Possibly “only” a thousand years before Christ, which would mean it died early.

Toggle to compare, click for larger size.

  Ancient Bristlcone Pine View Towards Sierra Nevada, One year of Thousands Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ1.4
Ancient Bristlecone Pine View Towards Sierra Nevada, One year of Thousands


This site may be relatively quiet for the next 10 days or so, though I will push out some more material on Sony and maybe a thing or two on other topics.

But that does not mean I’m taking a break—quite the contrary. This fall will not be boring, at least from my point of view.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Gear for the Mountains

Over the past five years or so, some gear has proven its worth—the stuff I use every time, the stuff that just works great, stuff that lasts a long, long time and I would simply never go without, not even in summer (it can snow in summer!).

Here’s a quick summary.

  • Five Ten Men's Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe — the Stealth C4 rubber sticks to rocks like glue and does well even on wet slippery rocks. The lace design allows “shaping” the tightness from the forefoot on up (very tight for class 4 and harder climbing, a bit looser for normal wear). MUST HAVE SHOE. Not so good for sharp pointy rocks and not waterproof—get a boot with a tough and less flexible sole for that kind of thing.
  • Five Ten Men's Guide Tennie Leather Approach Shoe
  • North Face Recon daypack — this is how I carry all my gear in the field: camera and lenses (in pouches), food, water, clothing. A steal at about $90. Current models also can fit a 15" laptop into a padded interior slot.
  • North Face Recon (older model)
  • Lupine Piko headlamp. I don’t leave for any hike that might approach dusk without this headlamp.
  • Lupine Piko headlamp
  • For sunglasses, that varies by conditions but I always use polarized lenses, because these cut atmospheric haze, road glare and let me see my dinner (trout) through the water. When lighting is not extremely bright, I use the Revo Redpoint sunglasses for cycling and hiking. The sunglasses in the image below are Revo Guide RE4054-01 polarized and with a blue reflective coating (models have change, the Revo Guide II sunglasses seems to be the closest match). These are my preferred sunglass for summer in the Sierra, where granite and/or snow can be very difficult on the eyes. See also Are your sunglasses protecting your eyes?.
  • Revo Redpoint sunglasses—my preferred tint for most uses
  • For moderate temps, an Ibexwear hoody (preferably with front pocket; models vary each year too). This is what I wear from spring to fall in the mountains. The hood protects head and sides of face and neck from sun;x the front zip pocket (models that have it) is great for stowing a smaller lens, lens cap, etc.
  • Your author in the field—IbexWear Hoody (model unknown) with Ibexwear cap
    at Dana Glacier, Ansel Adams Wilderness
  • Western Mountaineering Sequoia GWS Sleeping Bag — the amazing thing about this bag is that it is good even into relatively warm temps, because its ultra high quality down “tents”. Or in really cold conditions (shoes freeze to floor mats inside the car), zip it up and stay warm.

    This Western Mountaineering Sequoia GWS is one of the best investments I’ve ever made in camping comfort.
  • Exped Downmat 9 DLX — Never sleep on hard cold ground again. Air mattress with down inside. If not backpacking, the the Megamat absolutely rocks—just as comfortable as at home for me.
  • Western Mountaineering Flash XR down jacket

    Exped DownMat Pump, various sizes
    Exped Megamat — the very best in camping comfort
  • Western Mountaineering Flash XR jacket — I would not leave for the mountains without it. Its XR fabric resists rain and slushy snow for hours, extremely light, perfect for hiking (stuffs small into bottom of pack, put camera gear on top.

    Be sure to get the XR version if you want the rain resistance (the non XR is awesomely light, but does not resist rain/snow very well). The Flash down pants are great for well below freezing stuff, or if you have to stand around in near freezing temps, photograph in cold nights, etc.
  • Western Mountaineering Flash XR down jacket
  • IbexWear wool jacket — Another must have that I often wear over the Flash XR for times when I need even more warmth. Also, Ibex Shak Two Layer Wool Glove and Ibexwear NZM gloves (you need both, for cool and cold conditions). Ibex changes their product line every year—a bit annoying if you want a replacement for a favorite, so if you find a piece you love, buy two or three, at least during the early spring sale. I have jackets and pants for which I did not do this, and I regret it, because they're gone forever.
  • IbexWear Europa jacket
    IbexWear Europa jacket
  • Pearl Izumi Elite Thermafleece Cycling Tight — great for hiking, keeps sun off legs, greaet as a layer under another pant, or by themselves under shorts.
Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Sony A7R II: the EVF (and why Canon and Nikon suck and are clueless about what is useful)

Get Sony A7R II mirrorless at B&H Photo.

See also Old Geezers Need an EVF: the Rear LCD and Presbyopia are a Bad Combination For Aging Eyes as well as Nikon D810 Rear LCD with Zacuto Loupe vs Sony-style EVF.

The optical viewfinder of a DSLR (OVF) has its uses for some types of shooting, but it is abysmal for manual focus with today’s focus screens and so its main purpose is for sports shooting and similar. In this regard, the DSLR still reigns supreme for some specialty areas (frame rate, black-out time, etc all matter too). But perhaps within a year or two, that too will no longer hold.

This post is not about Sony per se; it’s about making cameras less of a pain in the ass to use in practical terms, e.g., the value of EVF.

One thing that has really hit home is just how nice it is to have an EVF for composing and focusing: perfect composition, perfect focus, minimal glare, no holding the camera at arm’s length or with a bulky protuberance on the rear ass of the camera. That point was driven home when I did night shooting—OMG what a practical thing, simple as it is. Yes, I know that an optical viewfinder (OVF) is better in some cases, meaning about 1% of the time for me.

“Yes kids, when I was a young fart, cameras actually had optifucus viewfinders that no one could focus so you shot ten frames to be sure one of them succeeded”. Although you could shoot a wide range of mediocre autofocus lenses to avoid the issue”.

OK, I could use (as I have for years) the Nikon D810 or Canon 5DS R with Zacuto EVF, but you know what? Carrying an extra thing around my neck sucks and one day the camera + loupe auto-tangle-twist feature will strangle me. It’s getting old. I’ve probably logged 500 miles of hiking that way in the past five years, up steep shit and such. I’m sick of that stuff that comes out the rear end of a bull. When are Canon and Nikon going to get a procreation clue that an EVF is useful? That it is ESSENTIAL. Make that hot shoe* take an optional 2.4 or 4 megapixel EVF, please. Or, like, actually innovate for the first time in 10 years or so? Or put another 14 megapixels into the DSLR coffin a la Canon 5DS R. Or, at least do it right and take the lumbering WTF dinosaur show to 100 megapixels or so.

As for medium format, it should ship withith a self-flagellation kit (leather to be sure)—the previously mythical Leica S Typ 007** is the same POS design with the same POS buttons and probably has the same POS focus and same POS camera lockups. No EVF there folks, and still 36MP***, for only $17K or so**** (down from $25K already!). So cool, you can take POS photos in Ho Chi Min City and blog about it.

* AKA 'SUT' (Stupud [sic] Useless Thing) on top of the camera that I never use.

** License to kill -- one’s neck and back, and the joy and pleasure of photography?

*** The whopping 36-megapixel Leica S Typ 007 is an impressive megapixel uggrade from the 36MP offered four years ago. Gordon Moore would be proud.

**** The good news is that for $17K, you do get one (1) battery and a battery charger bonus to go with the camera. And a nice box, which can help fill that empty space in the attic.

Christian B writes:

Your two most recent posts have fundamentally changed the way I will now think about the move to mirrorless.

Up to now, I had concluded that I wouldn’t be migrating to mirrorless because of the commitment (investment) that I’ve already made in Nikon compatible lenses (Zeiss plus Nikkor). However, the ability to use a lens adapter that will work for both types of lenses plus the benefits of EVF for manual focussing changes the tradeoffs big time.

Next year sometime after the successor to the D810 is introduced, I’ll decide whether to invest in a Sony or the new Nikon certain in the knowledge that my lenses will work with either system.

DIGLLOYD: see Reader Question: Sony A7R II with Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar and Sony A7R II: Night Shooting (Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro) in particular; both used the Novoflex adapter.

I hear sentiments along these lines a lot these days—ominous for CaNikon. BUT the beauty of it is that one can carry both a Nikon D810 and a Sony A7R II and use the same lenses. For a landscape shooter, this gets very interesting, because each camera can do things the other cannot: the D810 dynamic range is unbeatable, and the Sony is smaller and lighter and more easily handled in difficult terrain (EVF + image stabilization if no tripod).

Still, if (BIG 'if') Sony can get to the dynamic range and velvety smooth low noise of the Nikon D810 at ISO 64, then I would see little reason to use the D810 at all for the vast majority of my shooting. And once that happens, there is a cutoff point of “screw it, I’ll just settle on one approach and deal with a few shortcomings”. Such is the risk for CaNikon.


Which Zeiss Lens Doesn’t Get Much Love?

Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon (Nikon mount)

Get $200 off + 4% reward on the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon for Nikon or Canon (also works on Sony mirrorless with adapter).

Zeiss has something like fifteen lenses in the ZF.2/ZE lineup for DSLRS (including the Otus lensees). One lens just does not get much love is the 28mm f/2 Distagon.

Lab tests (ugghhh) won’t shine with the 28/2 Distagon, but Zeiss does not game the system as some vendors seem to do (for lab test distances). Rather the 28/2 Distagon is a classic 'artsy' lens that gets darn sharp with some stopping down.

Out in the real world, if you’re tired of the same-old CaNikon blah, try the Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon for Nikon or Canon. It’s also a solid lens that will last practically forever. And with the ZF.2 version you can shoot it on Nikon or Canon or Leica M or mirrorless (with adapter). How’s that for versatility? Oh, and Leica’s best M efforts do not perform better (28/1.4 not yet tested as this was written, Leica is having severe issues producing them apparently).

On Sony mirrorless with adapter, I’ll take the Zeiss ZF.2/ZE rendering style over the Sony 28mm f/2 any day. The 28/2 has personality, it has field curvature it has some foibles and for the right expectations, you’ll love it—it does not disappoint in visual impact (ditto for its 25/2.8 sibling, perhaps even more so, particularly at close range).

More depth of field would have been better here (try getting three people to line up their eyes in a geometric plane!).

ƒ/4 @ 1/60 sec handheld, ISO 100
Nikon D800 + Zeiss ZF.2 28/2 Distagon

28mm is a wonderful focal length.

Nikon D3x + ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon @ f/4, 30 seconds, ISO 100 +3 stop push + Levels

Sony A7R II: Night Shooting (Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro)

Coastal Optics
60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro

Get the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO MACRO from Jenoptik (please mention diglloyd.com).

I wanted to assess night-time performance of the Sony A7R II, my concern being issues with image quality in the 4-30 second range.

I also wanted perfect neutrality for out of focus areas, so I elected to use the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO MACRO, because the Coastal 60/4 is the best corrected lens for color that exists (that one can buy), consisting mostly off fluorite elements. Leica APO lenses do not even remotely approach its level of color correction, and even Zeiss Otus takes 2nd place to the Coastal (in color correction).

As it turns out, the image quality is stunning*. And the focusing experience on the Sony A7R II is second to none. It has been such a pain in the ass on Nikon and Canon that it had been a long time since I shot it, but the A7R II is so much more enjoyable and fast to use it that it it’s going back into the “always take it” bag. Moreover it is relatively small and light, albeit f/4. My main gripe is limited focus throw.

These images are cross-posted in two of my publications, because the coverage is both lens and camera review (a rare exception to the rule). So choose the appropriate link if subscribed to DAP or Mirrorless only.

Added to my review of the Sony A7R II in Guide to Mirrorless:

Sony A7R II examples: Night Shots, Artificial Lighting with Coastal 60/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro

Added to my review of the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro* in DAP:

Coastal 60/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro Night Shots, Artificial Lighting with (Sony A7R II)

The upshot of all of it is that (a) the Coastal 60/4 is simply amazing on the Sony A7R II, and (b) I found zero image quality issues with the Sony A7R II and came away very impressed.

* WARNING: do not view these images and then whine that I made you empty your bank account! This article is best left unread for those desiring something truly special, but being in a less than special financial situation.


Dr S writes:

BTW your images with the Coastal Optics 60mm are stunning......but it should be with a price tag of $5K+!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DIGLLOYD: well, it costs $5750. But what do you expect for a lens that is mostly fluorite and produced in low volumes, mainly for museum work (spectral bands), forensics, scientific and similar uses. It is corrected for consistent focus (no change with wavelength) from 310 nm - 1100 nm (that’s nasty deep UV all the way well into the IR band—amazing range). The human eye sees from about 390 nm to 650nm and very weakly out to 850nm.

I’d sure like a 28mm version. :)

Our trusted photo rental store

Reader Question: Sony A7R II with Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar
(best 135mm available, by far)

See my review of the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar in Guide to Zeiss.

Peter G writes:

I'd love to see your thoughts on the Zeiss 135mm APO lens (and possibly other ZE/ZF.2 lenses) on the A7rII platform.

I am very close to purchasing the 135mm APO for my A7rII and would love to hear your input. Would you recommend the ZE or ZF.2 for use on an E-Mount camera?

DIGLLOYD: the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar should perform brilliantly—no reason it would not. The main concern is the weight; it’s a heavy lens and when extended by a lens adapter off the mount, that is quite a torque on the mount. So support that weight at all times by supporting the lens when handholding, and by using the Novoflex with ASTAT adapter when on a tripod (Metabones has an adapter too, but it cannot rotate vertical/portrait, or so I am told). Do not let that lens mount carry the torque on its own.

You'll have to manually open/close the aperture to focus and shoot, so this is not a fast operating lens for portraits and such. But I see that as a plus given the brain dead behavior of the A7R II when magnified: the Sony A7 series have no way to change exposure when in magnified view; the dials that ought to control shutter and aperture instead scroll the magnified image*. The Setting Effect = On/Off is useless because the camera stops down the lens if it’s bright, regardless of that setting, so it is flaky/unreliable. But with a manual aperture ring, all that disappears as a headache. Well, not the shutter speed, but it’s half a fix. So I would strongly recommend the ZF.2 version, which can be shot on Nikon (natively) or Canon (with adapter), and other platforms.

Get the Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar for $300 off and 4% reward at B&H Photo (effective price = $1749 = a raging bargain). Ditto for Zeiss ZE 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar for Canon (but no aperture ring on the ZE version).

Note: Zeiss lenses have attractive rebates at present.

* One of numerous reasons I have said that the Sony does not understand photography and that the design feels like a gadget, not a camera.

BUY Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens to Sony NEX Camera
BUY Novoflex ASTAT-NEX Tripod Collar for Sony NEX Lens Adapters

Dierk T writes:

If you don't have Nikon DSLR (I sold my D3 2 years ago) the better choice is the ZE version. I ordered the Otus 85mm and the Zeiss Macro-Planar 2/100 in ZE mount and use it on a Metabones adapter.

You have full control of the aperture and shooting portraits is great with open aperture as it has been with DSLR before.

Using a high speed lens with manual aperture for studio portraits with f/8 for example is just useless with a manual aperture!

DIGLLOYD: it is not this simple as there are a variety of considerations, though I make no claim the may priorities or preferences are the best for any purposes but my own.

I have not as yet been successful in getting Metabones to respond to my request for an adapter to test. So I’m flying a little blind on exactly how the Metabones adapter behaves under all the combination of conditions and models: I have not tested it.

First, “don’t have” can change over time.

Second, the Nikon F-mount is by far the most versatile mount: F-mount lenses (Zeiss ZF.2) can be used on Canon, Leica M, all mirrorless variants, various specialty gear, etc. Without an aperture ring, a Canon-mount lens is restricted to only those systems which have electronic adapters, and some of those suck. So the choices are more narrow (and generally more expensive).

The issue for my use with manual focus is that the A7R II (and its siblings) stop down the lens when the light gets bright, even with Setting Effect = OFF (see also my recommended settings for the A7R II and recommended customization for the Sony A7R II). I have tested and confirmed this problematic behavior using native lenses which I wished to focus manually at full aperture—not possible in bright light due to this stop-down behavior.

Update: reader Samuli V tells me that the Metabones adapter has some way to control the diaphragm behavior. I have inquired at Metabaones via their web form, but I did not get any response from them. This concerns me: if there is no sales response, how does support go?

The Metabones adapter does not have a vertical (portrait) option for tripod use as shipped. There are some solutions to this issue, such as a mini L-bracket or some kind of rail apparently, but I’d have to see them to say if I’d find them tolerable.

It is not possible (and never will be) to use the ZE version on Nikon (or any other DSLR) because of its flange distance (2mm longer than Nikon). So if one ever shoots or might shoot Nikon, those ZE and EF lenses are useless. But the Nikon version can be used on Canon and any mirrorless and Leica M and so on, as noted above, and with relatively inexpensive mechanical adapters. And I *prefer* manual aperture control (as might video shooters) for many purposes.

But to Dierk T’s valid albeit restricted use case: *if* you are shooting handheld and *if* the light is moderate and *if* tripod use is not the goal (portrait orientation) and *if* you have no intention of ever shooting Nikon, then the ZE version with Metabones adapter is indeed a fine choice.

Finally, there is no technical reason that a Nikon adapter could not work electronically like the ZE version: the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses use an electronic aperture control after all (I never use the aperture ring on my Nikon DSLR). So I maintain that the ZF.2 version is the best long term investment, particularly if/when the adapter allows it to act with electronic aperture controlled by the camera (maybe this already exists).

ƒ/2.8 @ 1/40 sec handheld, ISO 800
Nikon D800E + Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar

Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro Aperture Series (Sony A7R II)

Coastal Optics
60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro

Get the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO MACRO from Jenoptik (please mention diglloyd.com).

I’ve added to my review of the Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO macro* in DAP using the Sony A7R II as a convenient platform** (the study could be done as well on Canon 5DS R or Nikon D810 and I may still take it up on the Canon 5DS R).

The Coastal 60/4 is the best corrected lens for color out there, consisting mostly off fluorite elements. Leica APO lenses do not even remotely approach its level of correction.

Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro aperture series: Shimano Drive Train (Sony A7R II)

This is a technical study to assess lens performance, namely sharpness and color correction. But I found something very interesting with f/16.

* As per longstanding policy to keep publications cohesive, lens tests regardless of camera body used always go into their native-platform guides, e.g. Nikon DSLR lenses go into DAP. See Which Content is in WHICH PUBLICATION?.

** Dang I love that 12.5X EVF.... when are NiCanon going to get a clue that an optical viewfinder sucks for many purposes and users.

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Studying Old Lenses on the Sony A7R II: Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar and Voigtlander 180mm f/4 APO-Lanthar

I’ve added to my review of Voigtlander DSLR lenses* by studying two of the best on the Sony A7R II (as a convenient platform**, since could be done as well on Canon 5DS R). I’m pondering whether to expand that study to the Canon 5DS R (that depends on interest as these are specialty lenses).

The Voigtlander 180mm f/4 APO-Lanthar is one of the best corrected APO lenses around—not even Leica APO lenses approach its level of correction. The Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar also has a high level of color correction. So I thought it would be interesting to study these two and then a few other lenses.

Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar aperture series: Shimano Drive Train (Sony A7R II)

Voigtlander 180mm f/4 APO-Lanthar aperture series: Shimano Drive Train (Sony A7R II)

These are technical studies to assess lens performance, namely sharpness and color correction.

* As per longstanding policy to keep publications cohesive, lens tests regardless of camera body used always go into their native-platform guides, e.g. Nikon DSLR lenses go into DAP. See Which Content is in WHICH PUBLICATION?.

** Dang I love that 12.5X EVF.... when are NiCanon going to get a clue?


20% off at LensRentals.com

LensRentals.com has 20% off on rentals of lenses, cameras, etc through labor day.

LensRentals is a terrific outfit renting just about any lens or camera (still or video).

Not sure if you want to buy a lens or camera? Rent it first!

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

DEAL: 2013 Mac Pro + SPECIAL BUNDLE DISCOUNT (“sweet spot” for photography )

OWC has some new or nearly new (some sealed box) 2013 Mac Pro deals, 6 core. Savings are $400 to $580, depending on the model.

The 6-core is the “sweet spot” model for photographers that I’ve been recommending since the 2013 model debuted. See review of the 2013 Mac Pro.

+ Special additional discount for MPG readers

MPG has arranged a special reader discount of an additional $100 off over and above the other discounts when purchased this set of peripherals (every Mac Pro user looking for a robust system should have this setup):

If you need a 1TB or 2TB SSD, then also get the OWC Aura SSD for Mac Pro upgrade also.

To take advantage of the total package: (1) add the Mac Pro of choice to your shopping carty, then (2) add the above memory / Thunderbay / Dock bundle to your cart. The cart should look something like this:

Display: my workhorse display is the NEC PA302W wide gamut calibrated display.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Sunset: Blue, Gold, Green

Get Sony A7R II and Zeiss Batis B&H Photo.

Sometimes it is those few minutes that count.

It’s tough to capture a scene like this—stop down more and shutter speeds drop, and then the movement blurs the water. Aperture f/4 worked out OK.

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Announced: Canon 35mm f/1.4L II

Get Canon 35mm f/1.4L II USM at B&H Photo.

The Canon 35mm f/1.4L was a good design, but showed serious limits on modern digital. Along comes the new “II” design with some intriguing new optical prowess.

At about $1799, the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM looks to take care to offer improved image quality, particularly color correction:

The EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM from Canon is an L-series prime wide-angle lens featuring Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics and a maximum aperture of f/1.4, making it ideal for shooting in low-light situations and for controlling depth of field.

Two aspherical elements and one Ultra Low Dispersion (UD) element combine with the BR element to control chromatic aberrations and color fringing for increased clarity and sharpness.

A Subwavelength Coating has also been applied to reduce ghosting and lens flare for greater color accuracy and contrast.

The Ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) provides fast and near-silent AF operation. Full time manual focus override enables precise manual focus even when in AF mode.

  • Prime wide-angle lens is designed for full-frame Canon EOS DSLRs, and can also be used with APS-C-sized sensors where it will provide a 56mm equivalent focal length.
  • The Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics element refracts shorter wavelengths of the visible spectrum (blue light) in order to significantly reduce chromaticaberrations and color fringing.
  • A pair of aspherical elements and one UD element also help to control aberrations and distortions for sharper, clearer image quality.
  • Subwavelength Coating minimizes surface reflections, ghosting, and flare for increased contrast and color fidelity.
  • The Ultrasonic Motor offers fast and quiet autofocus performance and also permits full-time manual focus control by simply rotating the focusing ring.
  • A minimum focus distance of 11" with a 0.21x maximum magnification benefits working with close-up subjects.
  • Fluorine coatings on the front and rear surfaces help reduce fingerprints and smudging.
    Featuring the L-series designation, this lens is also dust and moisture-resistant for use in trying conditions.
  • A nine-blade aperture provides smooth and pleasing out-of-focus areas in selective focus images.
  • 14 elements in 11 groups
  • Minimum Focus Distance 11.02" (28 cm) at 0.21X = 1:4.7
  • Ultrasonic Autofocus Motor
  • Weather-Sealed Design
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • 72mm filter size
  • Approx Weight 1.67 lb (760 g)

Blue spectrum optics

I’m baffled by “organic” optical materials. The term does not apply to glass, so maybe it really means organic—some new compound.

The violet/blue spectrum is verys hard to control (hence longitudinal chromatic aberration typical present as a violet/purple halo), so this is an interesting development.

MELVILLE, N.Y, August 27, 2015 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced that its parent company, Canon Inc., has developed Blue Spectrum Refractive (BR), a new optical element for use in camera lenses that corrects chromatic aberrations at an extremely high level to achieve superb imaging performance.

The new Canon-developed BR optical element offers characteristics that significantly refract blue light, which lies within the short-wavelength range, to achieve impressive levels of chromatic aberration correction for outstanding imaging performance. The BR optical element, positioned between two glass lens elements to create a BR lens, will make its debut in the new EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM wide-angle fixed-focal-length lens, which is scheduled to go on sale in October 2015.

Natural light, or white light, comprises a spectrum of wavelengths, or colors, each of which realizes a unique refractive index when passing through a lens. As all colors do not converge on the same point, this disparity causes chromatic aberrations, or color fringing, to occur in an image.

Canon develops optical elements by reviewing organic optical materials, beginning with the design of molecular structures, with the aim of achieving optimal chromatic aberration correction that suppresses color fringing. With the successful development of the BR optical element, which offers unique light-dispersion characteristics that significantly refract blue light—a wavelength that, until now, had proven particularly difficult to converge to a specific focal point—Canon is able to develop lenses that result in outstanding imaging performance by correcting chromatic aberrations at an exceptionally high level.

Press release


New L-Series Lens is First to Feature Canon’s Proprietary Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics –
 That Achieves a Higher Level of Chromatic Aberration Correction For Superb Image Quality

MELVILLE, N.Y., August 27, 2015 – Canon U.S.A., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today introduced the new EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens for EOS system cameras – a wide-angle fixed-focal-length Canon EF lens that is the world’s first* to utilize the Company’s newly-developed and exclusive Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics (BR Optics). This new optical technology utilizes organic material newly developed by Canon to achieve a higher level of chromatic aberration correction than other existing technologies resulting in outstanding high-quality imaging performance.

“As the world leader in production of interchangeable lenses, having produced over 110 million EF lenses since 1987, it is with great excitement that we now introduce a revolutionary new technology to add to Canon’s unequaled optical heritage when it comes to chromatic aberration correction,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO of Canon U.S.A., Inc. “We continually strive to achieve the ideal lens performance, which has driven the development of Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics, found in the new EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens. This technology is yet another ‘first’ in optical design introduced by Canon to enhance the performance of our lenses for our customers.” 

Canon’s proprietary Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics (BR Optics) incorporate a new organic optical material with unique anomalous dispersion characteristics for use in camera lenses. The molecular design of BR Optics refracts blue light (short wavelength spectrum) to a greater degree than other existing optical technologies including UD glass, Super UD glass and Fluorite, to control color fringing as effectively as possible. When placed between convex and concave lens elements made from conventional optical glass materials, BR Optics help to produce sharp images with outstanding contrast and color fidelity by thoroughly reducing axial chromatic aberration.

In addition to BR Optics, the new lens incorporates two aspherical elements and one UD glass element in a 14 element, 11 group optical formula. The EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens also features Canon’s proprietary Sub-Wavelength Structure Coating (SWC), applied to the rear surface of the first and second aspheric lens elements to help combat flare and ghosting caused by light rays entering the lens at a large angle of incidence. The lens also offers best in class minimum focusing distance at 0.28m (approximately 11 inches) resulting in an increased maximum magnification of 0.21x - ideal for capturing close-up subjects. Autofocusing is swift and virtually silent due to a rear-focus optical system and Canon’s original Ring USM focusing motor. Full-time mechanical manual focusing is also available even when the lens is set to AF mode.  

The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens features improved durability over its predecessor. As with all
L-series lenses, this new lens is highly resistant to dust and water ─ making it ideal for outdoor photography, even in harsh conditions. The high-grade design of the lens provides users with a substantial and luxurious feel, as well as optimal operability.  In addition, a fluorine coating on the front and rear lens surfaces helps to repel liquids and dust particles, and makes the lens easier to clean.

Pricing and Availability
The new Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens is compatible with 72mm filters and will be supplied with Lens Hood EW-77B and Lens Pouch LP1219. It is scheduled to be available in October 2015, for an estimated retail price of $1,799.00. For more information including specifications and an MTF chart, please visit http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/professional/products/lenses/ef_lens_lineup/lens_wide_pro.

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.    
Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions to the United States and to Latin America and the Caribbean (excluding Mexico) markets. With approximately $31 billion in global revenue, its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), ranks third overall in U.S. patents granted in 2014† and is one of Fortune Magazine's World's Most Admired Companies in 2015. Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. Canon U.S.A. is dedicated to its Kyosei philosophy of social and environmental responsibility. In 2014, the Canon Americas Headquarters secured LEED® Gold certification, a recognition for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of high-performance green buildings. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company's RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss and follow us on Twitter @CanonUSA. For media inquiries, please contact pr@cusa.canon.com.              
# # #

Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Canon EOS M3: Coming to USA

The EOS M3 was previously available in Europe and Asia. Now it’s headed for the USA.

The EOS-M I tried back in July 2013 felt unbalanced and uncomfortable in my hands. I can’t say if the same holds true for this new model, but having to mount an EVF in the hot shoe has some pluses, but mainly makes it bulkier.

The EVF-DC1 Electronic Viewfinder works on the EOS M3, so there is an EVF option.

Not using an EVF is a guarantee for increased blur caused by holding the camera at arm’s length. And for me, I cannot see the rear LCD in dim light (unable to focus closely enough). So the camera is really about $920 with EVF in practical terms—still very reasonable but I’m thinking more along the lines of the Sony RX100 Mark IV with built-in EVF and flash, which I consider ideal for portraits in the like in less than optimal lighting (fill flash). And how would one use an EVF and a flash without making things even more complicated (if it is even possible). System cameras are nice, but so it all-in-one convenience.

What I hope is that this continuing effort at mirrorless by Canon (albeit APS-C and way behind the 'curve') sets the stage for a full frame solution, preferably one that takes EF lenses to start, then another that takes a new lens line. But with an EVF, built-in.

No 4K video, no in-body image stabilization, APS-C sensor—well the price is very reasonable, but how does it handle in the hands? TBD.

  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • 3.0" 1,040k-Dot Touchscreen Tilting LCD
  • Full HD 1080p Video at 24/25/30 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • Hybrid CMOS AF System with 49 AF Points
  • ISO 100-12800, Expandable to 25600
  • Hot Shoe and Built-In Flash
  • 3.5mm Stereo Mic Input
  • Full Manual Control



The Power and Versatility of an EOS Camera in a New Light

Melville, NY, August 27, 2015 - Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced the EOS M3, a compact and stylish interchangeable lens digital camera created for enthusiast photographers who demand premium performance. Fusing Canon’s outstanding image quality and DSLR-levels of control in a small and lightweight camera body, the EOS M3 camera offers the ability to capture important moments in outstanding detail.   

At the heart of the EOS M3 camera is Canon’s latest and most advanced digital imaging technologies, including the company’s high-resolution 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS image sensor and its most advanced image processor, DIGIC 6, delivering premium quality stills and Full HD videos. Combined with super-fast AF performance, thanks to a new 49-point Hybrid CMOS AF III Autofocus System, this digital camera gives photographers the freedom to capture the beauty of movement.

Advanced photographers will find everything they need at their fingertips, with intuitive DSLR-like dials and control, as well as access to the entire lineup of more than 80 Canon EF, EF-S and EF-M interchangeable lenses*, all shrunk down into a compact, mirrorless body to take with them wherever they go. Advanced EOS camera technologies built into the EOS M3 camera include:

  • 24.2 Megapixel APS-C Canon CMOS Sensor, with a sensitivity range from ISO 100 to 12,800 (expandable to 25,600 in H mode) paired with Canon’s proprietary DIGIC 6 Image Processor to capture high-resolution photos and Full HD videos with brilliant color and stunning detail.
  • 49-Point Hybrid CMOS AF III Autofocus System for fast and accurate autofocusing of stills and videos, up to 6.1x faster than the original EOS M.
  • Front and Rear control dials for full manual operation and customizable functions as well as improved ease of use.
  • Intuitive Touch Screen 3.0-inch tilt-type (180 degrees up/45 degrees down) ClearView II LCD screen (approximately 1,040,000 dots), perfect for quick focusing and shooting, easy menu navigation, and simple viewing of images and videos.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi®** and NFC*** for streamlined photo sharing and wireless remote control.

“Canon U.S.A. is bringing to market a new member of the EOS family - the EOS M3 - to help satisfy the market’s demand for high-quality compact cameras with large image sensors and interchangeable lenses,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “It is the ideal camera for advanced amateurs and enthusiasts looking for a compact interchangeable lens camera option with genuine EOS camera system support, performance and compatibility, as well as professional photographers looking for a full-featured compact secondary camera.”

Photographers familiar with other Canon EOS cameras will note the EOS M3’s interface is similar to Canon’s current EOS DSLR cameras, making operation easier for existing users. The LCD panel’s tilting capability makes it easy to shoot from various angles while the capacitive touch screen allows intuitive image capture and playback with easy-to-understand information and real-time controls.

The EOS M3 camera offers photographers the flexibility to unleash their creativity through its compatibility with Canon EF-M lenses as well as a wide variety of Canon EF and EF-S lenses when used with the optional Mount Adapter EF-EOS M. Other compatible Canon accessories include EX-series Speedlite flash units, Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT, and Electronic Viewfinder EVF-DC1. Users will also have the ability to remotely capture and share images with Canon’s Camera Connect smartphone application**, using the EOS M3’s integrated Wi-Fi® and NFC connectivity.

Pricing and Availability
Canon’s EOS M3 Digital Camera is scheduled to be available in early October 2015 for an estimated retail price of $679.99.  An EOS M3 EF-M 18-55mm IS STM lens kit will be available in the customer’s choice of black or white for an estimated retail price of $799.99.  Additionally, a two lens kit featuring the EOS M3 digital camera with the EF-M 18-55mm IS STM lens and the EF-M 55-200mm IS STM lens will be available for an estimated retail price of $1,049.00.

The following Canon lenses will also be available in early October:

  • EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM wide-angle zoom lens for an estimated retail price of $399.99
  • EF-M 22mm f/2 STM compact prime lens in silver for an estimated retail price of $249.99
  • EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM telephoto zoom lens for an estimated retail price of $349.99

For more information and the full list of product specifications, visit: http://www.usa.canon.com/eosm3   

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Sigma dp3 Quattro Aperture Series: Inside the Green Barn

Get Sigma dp Quattro at B&H Photo. I am a fan of the Sigma DP Merrill line which as this was written is 22% off on Sigma DP Merrill.

See also the review of the Sigma dp2 Quattro and review of the Sigma dp0 Quattro.

The Sigma dp3 Quattro is the longest focal length range of the Sigma dp Quattro line. Its 50mm f/2.8 lens is equivalent to a 75mm f/4 on a full frame camera.

This scene evalutes bokeh, color across apertures, color aberrations and sharpness.

Sigma dp3 Quattro Aperture Series: Inside the Green Barn

Entire-frame images at sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 - f/8. Also shown are the Sigma Photo Pro processing settings.

See also the Green Barn series.


Sigma dp3 Quattro Aperture Series: Green Barn

Get Sigma dp Quattro at B&H Photo. I am a fan of the Sigma DP Merrill line which as this was written is 22% off on Sigma DP Merrill.

See also the review of the Sigma dp2 Quattro and review of the Sigma dp0 Quattro.

The Sigma dp3 Quattro is the longest focal length range of the Sigma dp Quattro line. Its 50mm f/2.8 lens is equivalent to a 75mm f/4 on a full frame camera.

This demanding target offers very fine details along with a flat (planar) target. It is useful for showing any/every weakness of the lens.

Sigma dp3 Quattro Aperture Series: Green Barn

This is mainly an assessment of lens sharpness across the aperture range, but also discusses distortion and vignetting.

Entire-frame images at sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 - f/8. Also shown are the Sigma Photo Pro processing settings.

Get the superb Zeiss Batis and Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
Batis 25/2 and 85/1.8 shipping mid-July. Pre-order now!
Reviewed in: Guide to Mirrorless

Sony A7R II: RawDigger Special Display Modes Show How the File is Encoded

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

I’ve previously written about the Sony ARW raw format, which uses 11+7 bit lossy compression (data is thrown away). This format works very well on 'average' images, but issues show up when the algorithmic premises are violated. Night shots or anything with very high edge contrast are problematic, and the gapping with low values can create posterization.

I want a raw file format from Sony a la Nikon: no data thrown away: a lossless-compressed format. The fine sensor in the Sony A7R II deserves no less.

The images below from RawDigger (more on that below) show the way the raw file is sampled and encoded by the Sony 11+7 bit raw format. It is visually suggestive of issues that might occur in special situations.

Toggle to see the variants.

RawDigger display of Sony 11+7 bit ARW raw file lossy compression sampling

RawDigger preferences

RawDigger is a powerful tool for raw file analysis. It contains special settings to show the base + delta encoding of the Sony 11+7 bit raw file, providing (at the least) a suggestive hint of what might befall image quality when less than ideal exposures or gamuts are encountered.

RawDigger special display mode preferences for Sony ARW raw files
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Dual Sigma dp0 Quattro Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecones + Bristlecone Log

Get Sigma dp Quattro at B&H Photo. I am a fan of the Sigma DP Merrill line. As this was written, get 22% off on the Sigma DP Merrill line.

See also the review of the Sigma dp2 Quattro.

The Sigma dp0 Quattro extends the focal length range of the Sigma dp Quattro line. Its 14mm f/4 lens is equivalent to a 21mm f/5.6 on a full frame camera.

These two demanding scenes are perfect ETTR exposures that max-out the dynamic range of the Sigma dp0 Quattro.

Sigma dp0 Quattro Aperture Series: Backlit Bristlecones

Sigma dp0 Quattro Aperture Series: Bristlecone Log, Frontlit

Sharpness is assesed in shadow areas in particular. Discussion of depth of field and appropriate aperture are included, along with a discussion of diffraction-mitigating sharpening.

Also shown are the Sigma Photo Pro processing settings, RawDigger histogram, and Photoshop adjustments following conversion to 16-bit TIF. Includes color and black and white for both images. Entire-frame images at sizes up to full resolution from f/4 - 7.1 - 9.

Which Mac? Memory and Storage? Backup Questions?
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FOR SALE: Leica M Lenses, Canon gear

All lenses excellent to perfect glass (no scratches, dings, etc), lightly used, working perfectly, USA market lenses. Some have wear on lens hoods or similar, most pristine, all have perfect glass. In original packaging/box as shipped. Local buyers welcome to inspect firsthand.

Contact me. Buyer pays FedEx insured shipping of choice or picks up locally.

  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH $2700
  • Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH (black) $6900 SALE PENDING
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $700
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $910
  • Canon 85mm f/1.2L II $ 1500
  • Nikon 85mm f/1.4G $1300`
  • Nikon 28mm f/4 PC-Nikkor (cherry picked copy) $950
  • Nikon 45mm f/2.8D PC-E Micro Nikkor (original version) $1450
  • Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-Micro Nikkor (original version) $1100
  • Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-Micro Nikkor (original version) $1100
  • Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G ED $650
  • Nikon AF 135mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $1100 (mint)
  • Nikon 50-300mm f/4.5 ED (best tripod foot evern made by Nikon!) $850
  • Hartblei (Nikon F mount) 80mm f/2.8 Super Rotater (Zeiss medium format optics) $2500

  • Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S view camera lens $600
  • Rodenstock 180mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S view camera lens $600
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR view camera lens $900
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