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Leica SL Focusing Errors

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post).
See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

Buried in my outpouring of work tw0 days ago is documentation of a critical issue with the Leica SL: autofocus accuracy. After examining the many aperture series I shot, I would say that the Leica SL autofocus errors damaged the sharpness of the majority of my work on a recent trip, by front-focusing errors:

Leica SL: Focusing Errors in the Field

Full resolution images let the reader draw his or her own conclusions. See also:

Aperture Series @ 63mm: Bristlecones on Hillside

Aperture Series @ 28mm: DeChambeau Barn

Aperture Series @ 24mm: Bristlecone Canyon

This June evaluation was with another brand-new Leica SL with brand-new 24-90 (both sealed in boxes days before). The findings errors confirm my January findings in spite of firmware 2.0.

For me at least, the Leica SL autofocus system was a disaster, degrading the majority of my work. I am sure that many users do not see the issue, if for no other reason than shooting at f/5.6 or f/8 or f/11, which often masks it enough to generate a (just) acceptable image. Also, overall contrast of the 24-90mm zoom is superb, which on the whole makes for an image with “pop”. But it does not mean sharp detail, as my many examples show.

By comparison, I had a 100% focusing hit rate using the manual focus Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, as might be expected via the high-res EVF on the Leica SL—it makes very precise focus a joy at f/1.4.

Postscript: people get really angry at blog posts like this, which are intended for SUBSCRIBERS, impugning my work without even seeing the evidence in my review. I’ve maintained my review integrity and objectivity since day one and I will continue to do so, even in the face of ignorance and ill will in emails I receive. The most malodorous type of email goes like this: “this is BS and unless you change your tune, I won’t subscribe”. This kind of of irrationality + threat combination will not make me compromise the integrity of my work, or my disdain for mediocrity. BTW, was it 9 months before Leica fixed the (permanent) black spots damage bug? What about the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH flare issues? Does anyone else find and reports such things? I’m not going to hold back on flaws that are real and damage my work.

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* B&H typically changes pricing only once a day. One-day specials not always present.

 

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New Coverage of Leica SL, Leica 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL ASPH, Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

All sorts of new stuff; see the reverse chronological index in Guide to Leica.

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A few of the images involved...

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Some items at good discounts:

Or look for more deals... or my wish lists of gear I’d want myself:

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Funny, I guess B&H carries all sorts of bags for cameras!

Kelly Moore Austin Bag $50 / 25% off ENDS tonight at 3 PM PST.

 

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina

Shootout on Leica SL: Leica 24-90/2.8-4 Vario-Elmarit-M ASPH OIS vs Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, 'Fresh June Snow on White Mountains'

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

Eye opening, and blinding in the glare of reality, outside the Leica distortion field.

Shootout: Leica 24-90/2.8-4 vs Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon: Fresh June Snowfall on White Mountains

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution from both lenses, from f/1.4 - f/8 for the ZM 35/1.4 and from f/3.1 - f/8 for the Leica 24-90mm.

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Leica SL: Hot Pixels + Pattern Noise at ISO 100

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

In Guide to Leica I was preparing another aperture series for the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, when I was startled to see severe hot pixels (and some pattern noise) at base ISO 100 at only 4/10 second. Yikes!

      ƒ:  1.4,    2,  2.8,   4, 5.6,   8,  11
seconds: 1/30, 1/20, 1/10, 1/5, 0.4, 0.8, 1.3

Leica SL: Pattern Noise and Hot Pixels at ISO 100

Includes RawDigger analysis and images up to full 24MP resolution, along with two large crops for viewing convenience, at all apertures from f/1.4 to f/11.

I’m not talking about a few hot pixels at 4/10 second, but thousands that dominate the image in all dark areas. The reduced-size image below hides them, but they are prominent at full-res.

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: DeChambeau Barn (Leica SL)

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

This flat-field subject is a tough test of any lens.

It is also a moiré inducing target, one reason that I strongly dislike relatively low resolution 24MP full frame sensor cameras, whose resolution limits and Bayer matrix sensor are prone to digital artifacts with high performance lensese.

In Guide to Leica in my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon:

Aperture Series: DeChambeau Weathered Barn (Leica SL)

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution, over the full aperture range from f/1.4 to f/11.

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Miner’s Coveralls + Moiré with Leica SL

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

In Guide to Leica are two pieces, one lens-oriented, the other on the ugly digital artifacts that result from using a relatively low-resolution 24MP sensor without an anti-aliasing filter :

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Miner’s Coveralls (Leica SL)

Leica SL: Color Moiré Example

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution, at f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8.

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Relief for Women and Men + 5 More (Leica SL)

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

The overall look and feel of imagery from the ZM 35/1.4 is highly appealing—very sharp with moderate vignetting wide open, ultra low distortion, extremely well controlled aberrations, almost no field curvature and no focus shift.

This medium-range with far background scene looks at overall rendering style, with an eye towards sharpness and control of aberrations in out of focus areas.

In Guide to Leica in my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon:

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Relief for Women and Men (Leica SL)

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution, over the full aperture range from f/1.4 to f/5.6.

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And six more:

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Assay Shack Warm Sunset (Leica SL)

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Old House at Dusk (Leica SL)

Aperture Series: Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior (Leica SL)

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Lincoln Electric Clock Light (Leica SL)

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Museum Outdoors (Leica SL)

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Assay Room (Leica SL)

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Mining Store Cabin (Leica SL)

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

The overall look and feel of imagery from the ZM 35/1.4 is highly appealing—very sharp with moderate vignetting wide open, ultra low distortion, extremely well controlled aberrations, almost no field curvature and no focus shift.

This full-range scene looks at overall imaging style and sharpness at medium range.

In Guide to Leica in my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon:

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Mining Store Cabin (Leica SL)

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution, over the full aperture range from f/1.4 to f/8.

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Cash Register (Leica SL)

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post). See also my Leica M wish list and Leica SL wish list.

Yesterday I stated that the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is my preferred lens on Leica M. As it turns out, based on the images I shot during my June trip with the Leica SL, the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is also my preferred lens on the Leica SL.

In Guide to Leica in my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon:

Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Cash Register View, Mining Museum (Leica SL)

Includes images up to full 24MP resolution, over the full aperture range from f/1.4 to f/16.

This close-range scene shows the rendering style of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, with both foreground and background blur, so the bokeh style to be seen is full range.

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Pentax K1: SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode in the Field: Two Landscape Images

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

The Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode has some severe limitations for field use (see the extensive discussion in my review of the Pentax K1), being not only intolerant of subject movement, but also intolerant of changes in lighting.

But I wondered—could I get away with high quality results for sunset/dusk scenes with relatively stable light and reasonabl shutter speeds around 1/5 second?

In my review of the Pentax K1:

Pentax K1 SuperRes Pixel Shift: Two Field Shots at Sunset (White Mountains)

Includes images up to 28 megapixels along with large crops and RawDigger info and ACR conversion settings and commentary.

Still Growing: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Sees its 1,460,000th or so Sunset
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Sunset Looking North, White Mountains
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Pentax K1: File Quality and Noise from ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (Jagged Bristlecone Stump)

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

File quality of the Pentax K1 is amazing. In this piece, I show the RawDigger histograms for all ISO values, including histograms for dark tones which show the best (smoothest) pixel quality I’ve yet seen from a 35mm full frame camera—even through ISO 800.

In addition to the RawDigger analysis, entire frame images are shown at 58% of actual pixels (12.4 megapixels) as well as 12.4-megapixel actual pixels crops, all from ISO 100 through ISO 204800.

In my review of the Pentax K1:

Pentax K1 ISO Series 100 to 205K, Jagged Bristlecone Stump

The Pentax K1 has a mighty impressive sensor even in its StdRes mode. SuperRes pixel shift mode is even better, but cannot be used when there is any change in lighting intensity or color, as was the case here.

Weathered Ancient Bristlecone Pine Stump
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Camera Storage Cards: 256GB and 512GB Dropping in Price

The price of 256GB and 512GB storage cards is far more attractive than six months ago.

View discounted memory cards.

I like large cards for my field work. See my Mechanics and Organization section in DAP for things like Downloading and Backing Up Images In The Field.

Backup in the field for a laptop? The OWC Mercury Envoy Pro EX 1TB or 480GB.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH in Silver Anodized Finish

Get Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH in silver or black.

Get the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in silver or black ($250 rebate at time of post).

It’s only $200 more than the black version (2.5% more at $7995 instead of $7795), so why not?

I like the silver finish a lot, but I’ll stick with the black one I have (even if the huge cost were not a huge issue), since I prefer the Zeiss ZM 35m f/1.4 Distagon which has a much more appealing rendering than the 50/2 APO. Even crazier, the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 is a huge bargain in the context of M lenses and gives up nothing to any Leica M lens to my eyes. I ordered my very own Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon in silver finish back in 2014 (see my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon).

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH in Silver Anodized Finish
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An In-Depth Look at Focus Stacking in 'Making Sharp Images'

I’ve added an in-depth look at focus stacking in Making Sharp Images.

The examples include annnotation as to where focused, and sizes up to 28 megapixels, along with discussion. The various tips and overview pages should get you started with focus stacking while sharply accelerating the learning curve.

Focus stacking table of contents

Razor sharp from right under the camera to the far distance, with no stacking artifacts.

Ancient Bristlecones Thousands of Years Old Sculptured by Weathering
Focus-stacked image, 6 frames
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LensRentals.com Discount up to 25% on Camera or Lens Rentals

Use code LR10YEAR at LensRentals.com to save $15 on $100 or more, $50 on $250 or more, $250 on $1000 or more.

LensRentals.com has a wide range of cameras, lenses and other gear for rent, for still photography or video.

Renting is also a good way to try before you buy when unsure of the best lens or camera for your needs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photoshop World Conference Deals at B&H Photo

Update: some of these deals are over, some are still valid.

See all Photoshop World Conference Specials. Items I noted of interest to me:

See also my wish lists

These are not just lists of stuff, but gear I would choose for myself, the best stuff, or gear I would buy for some of my uses, or items one might not think of.

Reading this blog via an RSS feed reader? it may damage these links, rendering them inoperable. Please visit this web site directly.

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Problem Solver: Eyeshade for Sony A7 Series Cameras

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

For over a year I’ve put up with stray light from the side with my Sony A7R II. I’m annoyed at myself for not finding this solution sooner since I should have thought of it.

I saw this eyeshade very recently, and got one—problem solved: no more sunlight or bright light hitting my eye from the side, which happens all the time in the outdoors, particularly at peak shooting times.

At about $17.95 it’s worth every penny. Slides on or off if desired to swap with original.

  • Large Oval Shape for Eye Comfort
  • Seals Out Stray Light
  • Rotates 360º for Left or Right Eye
  • Rotates for Horizontal or Vertical View
  • Soft and Durable Rubber
  • Prevents Scratching of Eyeglasses
  • Fits Sony a7 Series Cameras
Vello ESS-A7 Eyeshade for Sony A7 Series Cameras

Roy P writes:

Interesting… The Vello eyecup you posted has more than a passing resemblance to the Hoodman eyecup. The Hoodman comes in a larger size for people who wear glasses. I got one a couple of months ago, and use it on bright days outdoors. $20.

DIGLLOYD: I hadn’t seen the Hoodman eyecup and I don't know if one is better than the other.

Paul K writes:

I found this eyeshade some months ago and managed to mount my personal prescription of my right eye into it.

I have some astigmatism that cannot be corrected with the camera’s diopter. So I shaped a lens and fitted it into the eyeshade (I’m an optician).

Now I can shoot without glasses and have a very crisp and sharp image of the viewfinder (although only in landscape orientation). If I want to shoot with glasses on, I simply take the eyeshade off.

DIGLLOYD: wow!

Stacking Two Frames for Impossible Depth of Field

See yesterday’s discussion of depth of field.

Here is a 2-frame focus-stacked image with depth of field that is impossible to obtain with a single shot: at f/9 one is presented with two unpalatable options: either the tree is badly blurred with focus in the distance, or the tree is sharp with strongly blurred background. And it is a situation with a “deep 3D” target which does nicely with deep depth of field.

The night was still (minimal wind), so motion was not an issue. Using a 2-frame stack, the image is razor sharp near to far, everywhere and at full 36 megapixel resolution. In the full-res image, one can clearly see a diamond-shaped road sign with a symbol inside it! Now I wish that Nikon or Sony would add Pentax K1 style pixel shift at 50+ megapixels.

The best part? There was no retouching needed. Just press and go—job done with Zerene Stacker PMAX mode. There are no stacking artifacts I could find; the halos in some areas of the tree are something from the ACR conversion algorithm even for a single frame, made a little worse by sharpening—not stacking artifacts.

The Zeiss Otus lenses 'rock' for focus stacking because performance is so high; the stacking software has very high quality pixels to work with, with close to zero aberrations that could cause weird blur issues.

2 frames: 1st frame focused near the tree trunk at center, 2nd frame in far distance.

Lonesome Pine on Pothole Dome, View to Far Peaks
Focus-stacked image from 2 frames
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