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In Motion There is Great Potential

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4G OSS on A7R II

Get Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4G OSS and see my Sony mirrorless wish list at B&H Photo.

I discussed the potential appeal of the about $2498 Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4G OSS a few weeks ago, as an all-arounder even for stills. It is a lens designed for video work, and constructed accordingly, including a monster lens shade and tripod foot. But I find that I really like some of its operational characteristics. It is both autofocus and with optical stabilization too.

Below, the Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4G OSS attached to the Sony A7R II with a Really Right Stuff plate on the tripod foot.

This is a situation where the Nikon D810 has moiré problems, and the Pentax K-1 SuperRes mode is ideal: that orange ring has fine concentric lines that create moiré, though the reduced-size versions hide it.

This image is a 2-frame focus stacked image at f/13 on the Nikon D810 using the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon. The 55/1.4 APO-Distagon is an outstanding lens for focus stacking.

A 3rd frame could have been shot for deeper focus, but some background blur is useful. Zerene Stacker made this focus stack a one-click operation, seemingly ideal for solving the depth of field challenge for product shots like this. See also some bicycle components I photographed recently—experiments as I learn stacking. My goal is super-simple 2 to 4 shot stacks for practical indoor and outdoor use.

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4G OSS on Sony A7R II
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Deals and More Deals: Sigma, Fujifilm, Canon

See my Fujifilm X wish list and Canon wish list and Sony wish list and computing wish list B&H Photo.

Computer stuff

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
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Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. As this was published, the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro is about $400 at 26% / $147 off.

This example replicates the series with the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 macro.

This finely detailed scene is a severe test for any lens.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 used for maximum image quality.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Image sizes up to 28 megapixels along with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/13.

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Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. As this was published, the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro is about $400 at 26% / $147 off.

This finely detailed scene is a severe test for any lens.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 used for maximum image quality.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Image sizes up to 28 megapixels along with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/13.

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MacPerformanceGuide.com

The Drive I Use for Backup in the Field

Get Envoy Pro EX at MacSales.com or get Envoy Pro EX at B&H Photo.

For a detailed look at how I work in the field, see Mechanics and Organization in DAP.

Out in the field, my daily routine after a long day’s shoot is like this:

  1. Grab a GT’s Kombucha from cooler (Gingerade preferred) because after hiking 12 hours, it hits the spot.
  2. Download all my camera cards using a fast card reader. A fast SDXC card helps a lot too. [When/while downloading more than one card, have a clone backup running simultaneously, this saves some time. Make one final clone when all are downloaded].
  3. Make one final clone backup after the last download. If further work is done after downloading, do another clone before shutting down the laptop for the night.
  4. Store the backup drive away from the computer (having a laptop plus its backup drive stolen is painful mistake).
OWC Envoy Pro EX SSD

See my review of the OWC Envoy Pro EX 1TB. This is the SSD I use for backups in the field as discussed above. Actually, I use both a 1TB Envoy Pro EX and 480GB Envoy Pro EX as well, for dual backups.

The Envoy Pro EX is very compact, bus powered by the USB cable itself, a very fast performer, and sleek looking too.

It fits in the palm of my hand or just about any pocket, and stows with its short USB cable in its own soft carry case. It’s the perfect high performance SSD for travel.

If backup is not the goal, the Envoy Pro EX is also ideal for additional storage while traveling.

Tip: at only 106 grams it is possible to stick a small piece of velcro on it and on the top of the laptop case, and then just stick it on while working, so it doesn’t just dangle there. Handy in airline seats and such where there is no desktop.

OWC Envoy Pro EX SSD

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Powerhouse

Get Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 at B&H Photo.

A slew of terrific features pushed down to the sub-$800 price range (including lens): the about $797 GX85 is now in stock at B&H Photo. And something I like to see and that more camera vendors should be doing: the warranty can be extended to 3 years for FREE.

See my April 5 discussion of the Panasonic GX-85 for more info.

  • 16MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Sensor
  • 2.76m-Dot 0.7x Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" 1.04m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD (OLED)
  • UHD 4K Video Recording at 30/24 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Built-in flash.
  • ISO 25600 and 10 fps Shooting with AF-S
  • DFD AF System, 4K Photo Modes, including 8MP stills at a 30 fps rate
  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization, Dual I.S.
  • Includes Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
  • Electronic first curtain shutter to 1/16000 second
  • Available in black or silver finish top plate.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds digital camera
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Gear for the Mountains

I ran this post last August. With Summer approaching, I thought it would be a useful time to post it again. My recommendations remain the same as before—this is the best gear I’ve been able to find for what I do.

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 also the mid-ankle Guide Tenie Mid Hiking 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.—the Five Ten Camp Four Mid is perfect (I wear an older low-cut version).
  • 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.
    NOTE: the design keeps getting dumber and more oriented towards laptops and iPads, what shame: I like the older model (still available online, shown at left); the model being sold in late 2015 reduces the size of the outer stuff pocket, and the interor also balkanizes the space with pencil slots and similar while also reducing the size of the large slide-in pocket. It also loses the dual laptop/iPad slot in favor of a single slot. The model I do NOT like as much (the later one) is shown at right in tan.
  •   
    North Face Recon: very old model at left, ~2014 model at right
  • 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
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  • 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)—yes there are snowstorms in June. 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.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Burghers of Calais (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. As this was published, the Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro is about $400 at 26% / $147 off.

This scene is an all-arounder: bokeh across the aperture range, sharpness and micro contrast, and color vs black and white from the K1.

Especially when viewed on the iMac 5K, the black and white image is jaw dropping in its contrast and superfine detail right down to the pixel—no conventional demosaicing here. This is very hard to do on metal like this. I think you will be impressed.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Burghers of Calais (Pentax K1 SuperRes, Color and B&W)

Presented in both color and black and white. Image sizes up to 28 megapixels along with large crops all in both color and B&W, and all from f/2.8 through f/13.

Is the Pentax K1 the finest black and white camera on the market (in SuperRes mode)? It seems so.

Burghers of Calais (Rodin)
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Zeiss Loxia 21/2.8 IN STOCK
A gem of a lens.
Reviewed in: Guide to Mirrorless

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Dusk (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. Note that there are rebates on some Pentax lenses, including the 50/2.8 macro (limited supply) and 100/2.8 macro.

The Tiled Water Fountain scene evaluated medium range, the Map of the World example evaluated close range, and this scene look at near infinity focus.

It is a 2nd take; see the just prior sunlit version. The difference in lighting makes for an interesting comparison in how lighting affects scene details (sidelit vs flat lighting). This example also has the camera dead-level in both directions, and to within 0.1° left/right. Focus is always hard to balance just-so for peak results, but this series nailed it, with impressive results.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Dusk (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/11.

The Pentax K1 blows away anything I’ve seen on this subject before. Even setting aside sharpness, the avoidance of color moiré is stunning.

The about $300 Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro (while supply and instant savings last) is a bargain. Anyone shooting the K1 must have it. Small and light, it makes a perfect lens for travel or landscape (and macro). The manual focus haptics are very poor compared to a Zeiss manual focus lens, but can be worked with.

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Peter H writes:

Your work with the K1 has forever changed my image quality paradigm.

I've been having to view the crops at 200% to enjoy all those textural nuances; the scary thing is the K1 super res pictures look as good as most other cameras at 100%. I think this camera might overturn the whole printing paradigm as well - in terms of dpi required.

Whilst I've been disappointed to see the super res modes susceptibility to subtle changes in hue/luminance, which will limit its use in landscape photography, studio or architectural photographers now have a 'cheap' alternative to the Hassy H5D Multi Shot. I'm not convinced the motion correction software is up to the task for many landscape scenes either, based on your examples. That said, in calm conditions or with immutable subject matter (rocky alpine scenes come to mind), super res could work very well.

Now that the damaging effect of demosaicing is plain to see, perhaps a return to the old camcorder 3CCD design is in order! Having three APS-C 28MPix CMOS sensors aligned by a prism would give you super res with every shot, without all the concomitant problems of the current technology. One wonders what such a camera attached to an Otus could produce...

DIGLLOYD: Agreed—no DSLR or mirrorless camera can approach the quality of SuperRes, and I”d bet that it would beat just about all medium format. It is a stunning development, but SuperRes has some frustrating limits for real world use, and the Pentax lens line is marginal compared to what Nikon or Canon users enjoy. Triple sensor would be quite expensive and bulky in full-frame but maybe (as suggested) in APS-C—but the required precision would be very difficult and expensive. No...I think it’s single sensor and whether SuperRes or Sigma style stacked true-color pixels, we are “getting there”, the K1 being a giant leap forward.

Now consider a Pentax mirrorless camera similar to the A7R II with pixel shift and the fast array of lenses that would then be possible. OMG. Well, will Sony get there first, or is some patent or whatever preventing it? Still, the Pentax file quality is the best of any camera on the market, without or without pixel shift. Sony would probably “cook” the raw file as currently done.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Sunlit (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. Note that there are rebates on some Pentax lenses, including the 50/2.8 macro (limited supply) and 100/2.8 macro.

The Tiled Water Fountain scene evaluated medium range, the Map of the World example evaluated close range, and now this scene look at near infinity focus.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Sunlit (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/11.

The Pentax K1 blows away anything I’ve seen on this subject before. Even setting aside sharpness, the avoidance of color moiré is stunning.

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Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

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

This medium distance scene evaluates the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 at a common shooting distance—does it hold its performance at this range as well as at close range?

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/9. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode).

The Pentax K1 continues to impress—overall image quality is simply beyond what other DSLRs or mirrorless cameras can offer—fundamentally, they cannot, since images are all interpolated (demosaicing the RGGB sensor).

The resolution of grains of sand in the mortar and stonework, the reflective sheen on the tiles, the nuances of whitish water stain residues, the subtle detail in the brass faucet and so on: these details look more real than any conventional Bayer matrix sensor, which will smear away much of this detail.

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Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8

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

Aside: regardless of lens (omitting any serious duds), the Pentax K1 sets the gold standard for image quality. No other DSLR or mirrorless camera can approach the pixel-level detail, freedom from moiré and digital artifacts that the K1 offers in its SuperRes pixel shift mode (unsuitable for handheld operation and lots of movement and Motion Correction is a concern). I would rate the K1 as superior to the Leica S, and probably most all other medium format cameras. It is a major bummer that Zeiss is not likely to support the Pentax K mount, but Leitax.com will have a conversion option soon (Nikon to Pentax K). At the least, the K1 is a must-have camera for the still-life shooter.

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range; I explored that idea yesterday with the APS-C Pentax 35/2.8 shot on the full-frame Pentax K1. Reader Knut points out:

I'm not aware of another 35mm macro that covers full frame (Novoflex used to have one but it is long out of production and it had very poor contrast).

When shooting miniature landscapes (model trains etc.) using a wider angle is much more immersive. it allows showing the subject within it's environment.

The Pentax 35/2.8 may thus be interesting for K1 users for these reasons. But versatility is a big plus and so I was curious what it could do at distance. It is not uncommon for macro lenses to perform less well at distance, but a macro lens designed for APS-C shot at distance is even more of a challenge

Here the Pentax 35/2.8 Macro is tested on the full-frame sensor of the Pentax K1 at distance. Shot in SuperRes pixel shift mode for peak quality.

Pentax 35/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with UltraHD crops, all from f/2.8 through f/13. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode). Images include an overlay showing the bounds of the APS-C sensor area.

Like the map example, this example should be useful to both Pentax K1 users and Pentax APS-C users.

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Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8

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

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of about 1:10 to test that case. Previously, I showed the same subject using the Pentax smc FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro as well as with the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 macro.

The Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 is designed for an image circle to cover an APS-C sensor. However, as seen in the Zeiss Touit examples (“Usage on full frame sensor...”), lenses designed for APS-C often have a much larger image circle than the APS-C sensor area, and good quality too, at least when stopped down.

I forgot to retract the lens hood for the first shoot, so I’ve kept that page and shot again, but with the lens hood retracted, for a useful comparison with/without the hood in use.

Here the Pentax 35/2.8 Macro is tested on the full-frame sensor of the Pentax K1.

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode). SuperRes pixel shift mode of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality. Images include overlay lines showing the APS-C sensor area as well as a larger area deemed usable on full frame (with some stopping down). The appropriate apertures and usable sensor area is shown.

Image below with the lens hood fully extended.

80-year-old map of the world
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Knut writes:

VERY interesting that the DA 35 covers full frame. I'm not aware of another 35mm macro that covers full frame (Novoflex used to have one but it is long out of production and it had very poor contrast).

When shooting minature landscapes (model trains etc.) using a wider angle is much more immersive‎. it allows showing the subject within it's environement.

Macro lenses in the 90-180mm range yield a perspective that is close to a tele lens in real life.

DIGLLOYD: Agreed—so many macro shots exclude all context.

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Motion Correction for Pentax K1 SuperRes Images via Pentax Digital Camera Utility

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

Pentax Digital Camera Utility: Motion Correction

Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode records 4 pixel-shifted exposures into one raw file. The raw converter must then take those 4 exposures and (somehow) create an RGB pixel for each pixel in the image.

Camera movement is not tolerated, but if there is subject motion, the Motion Correction feature found in Pentax Digital Camera Utility can correct areas affected by motion.

Unfortunately, Adobe Camera Raw does not and is not likely to support Motion Correction, and its behavior with subject motion has no sophistication at all. What a shame to see the value of a camera system degraded by lack of Adobe support. But I pin the blame for that on Pentax: Pentax should have reached out months ago to ensure ACR support, if necessary funding an engineer to get it done. Put simply, it makes the K1 a lousy product, the product being the sum total of hardware and software.

This report explores Motion Correction with Pentax Digital Camera Utility. An ACR conversion is included for reference, plus three results from Pentax DCU: Motion Correction On, Motion Correction Off, single frame extracted from the raw file.

SuperRes Motion Correction: With and Without (Watch Seconds Hand)

Includes large actual pixels images along with crops. This 4-way comparison is really interesting to see just what is possible!

Below, a small reduced size crop shows the motion we are dealing with: the seconds hand moving during 4 X 2 second exposures in SuperRes mode.

Motion Problems with Adobe Camera Raw conversion of Pentax K1 SuperRes image
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Fujifilm Deals and other deals

See my Fujifilm X wish list at B&H Photo.

Fujifilm has almost all its lenses and many cameras on sale.

My top pick as both an excellent lens and a huge deal is the Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R. It is a whopping $400 off and now only $499. See my review of the Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R in Guide to Mirrorless.

View all Fujifilm X deals.

Fujifilm rebates and deals

Other Deals

Which Mac? Storage, Backup, RAID? Color Management?
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Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

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

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of 1:10.0 to test just such a case.

Previously, I showed the same subject using the Pentax smc FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro.

SuperRes pixel shift mode of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode).

80-year-old map of the world
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Lloyd’s Zeiss DSLR Best of the Best List
World-class lenses for Canon or Nikon DSLRs.

Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them?

See my Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

Get Novoflex bellows and Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS at B&H Photo.

Recently discussed: Cambo Actus Mini View Camera and Novoflex bellows systems.

Bellows systems appear to offer view camera functionality when used with mirrorless cameras. When I say “appear” I mean only that I have not tested specific systems to see if the hardware allows infinity focus with DSLR lenses. I’m looking into it.

A bellows system a number of benefits to some kinds of work:

  • Extreme enlargement by adding close focusing capability.
  • Movements: rise and fall, left and right shift, tilt. (Some of these movements might not be available, depending on the system).
  • Focusing by moving the camera on the rear standard along the focusing rail, which keeps the entrance pupil in a fixed position for parallax-free images as well as a constant focal length.
  • A wide range of lenses can be adapted.

Bellows systems have generally been for close-up and macro work with DSLRs. That’s because a bellows system used with a DSLR camera and a DSLR lens allows closeup focusing only. For a macro or closeup shooter, the ability to focus beyond a few feet might be of no concern. But for all-around use, including use in the field, focus from medium range to infinity is a requirement.

With mirrorless cameras, about an inch of flange focal distance exists, and so for the same reasons Sony mirrorless system can take Nikon and Canon and other DSLR lenses (with adapter), a bellows system may be able to reach infinity focus if the interposed parts are within the required spacing. For example, the the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera reaches infinity focus with Nikon (Nikon, Zeiss, Coast, etc) or Canon DSLR lenses.

The mirrorless camera flange-focal difference potentially allows bellows systems to focus DSLR lenses to infinity on mirrorless cameras. Whether this is possible depends on the particulars of the bellows system hardware and brand of lens [Canon lenses have 2mm more flange offset than Nikon, which is why Nikon lenses can be used on Canon with a 2mm-thick-lens adapter, but not vice versa].

Continues below...

As shown below, this Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS is for high magnification macro work only because the bellows system inserts a large spacing between the lens and the camera. But if the camera were a Sony mirrorless camera, the situation changes. In this case, it’s unclear if Novoflex offers a Canon lens mount + Sony camera mount that is also electronically coupled. For this reason, Nikon F-mount lenses with aperture rings are much more interesting for all-around use.

Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS

Considerations in choosing a bellows system

Factors in considering a bellows system:

  • Compatibility: cameras bodies, which lenses, and whether specially optimized lenses are available for specific workflow (macro, architecture, etc).
  • Compatibility: Canon lenses, some Nikon lenses require electronic aperture control. For this reason, lenses like Zeiss DSLR lenses in Nikon F mount are greatly preferred because they have an aperture ring; the issue goes away.
  • Compatibility: specific cameras may have a body shape that don’t allow the camera to mount or focus fully.
  • Practical limits: shift limits may exist; the lens mount blocks cone of light at some amount of shift.
  • Whether infinity focus with DSLR is possible (with a mirrorless camera)
  • Size and weight: if hiking or travel is involved a system weighing 10 pounds is out of the question. The Cambo Actus Mini view camera with lens plate is about 1220 grams. The Novoflex system is also quite light.
  • Movements: does the system offer tilt and swing, rise and fall and shift? If so, which operations on the front standard and rear standard? This matters a lot to some uses, since movements to the front standard change perspective, whereas movements with the rear standard do not (think stitching and focus stacking in particular). A minor but useful point is whether tilt of the rear standard is centered or not.
  • Availability, service, warranty, cost.
General parts of a bellows system (Novoflex shown)

Specific uses: tilt for depth of field

Tilt and/or swing can alter the zone of focus to follow the shape of the subject, effectively making huge gains in depth of field for a compatible subject shape.

Canon TS-E and Nikon PC-E lenses offer a built-in tilt capability. A bellows system that offers a tilt feature effectively makes any lens into a tilt lens (and rise/fall/shift if the system also offers that).

Besides tilt and shift, using the rear standard to focus keeps the entrance pupil and focal length of the lens constant, which is the ideal approach to focus stacking.

Specific uses: focus stacking

With focus stacking, a change in focus is often accompanied by a change in focal length, particularly at close range or macro shooting. Similarly, a change in focus might also change the position of the entrance pupil, which causes a change in perspective.

A bellows system is the ideal solution for focus stacking because it allows focusing to be done by moving the rear standard (which has the camera attached). The front standard + lens does not move, thus the lens is never refocused after its initial focus setting, and thus the entrance pupil remains in a fixed position with focusing, keeping both focal length and perspective unchanging throughout the stack of images.

Specific uses: stitching

Shifting left right (or rise and fall) can be used on the rear standard for parallax-free images which can be stitched into one higher resolution image.

By comparison, stitching images with a shift lens (Nikon PC-E or Canon TS-E) causes a change in perspective, generating parallax—because the lens moves (the entrance pupil changes position). This wreaks havoc with stitching (try stitching the arc of a drooping wire between telephone poles!). The work around is a counter-shift of the camera within its clamp, which works well if one remembers and gets it just right.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Novoflex Bellows for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony

I’ve collected all the parts together in this one wish Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

See also Novoflex bellows for DSLRs, Leica M, Leica S, including Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS.

See also: Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them? and Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony Mirrorless (or Fujifilm/Olympus/Nikon/Canon) .

A few days ago I wrote about the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera.

Novoflex also has a bellows system which can take Canon or Nikon or mirrorless cameras. A key distinction is that bellows systems have traditionally been ONLY for close-up and macro work with DSLRs, because the interposition of the bellows hardware does not allow infinity focus (when using a DSLR with a DSLR lens).

Novoflex has tilt/shift bellows for Canon/Nikon/Leica/Sony also (see Novoflex bellows at B&H). Rollei also has a bellows system. Some of these are relatively light and portable, and some are not. Also, movements of tilt/swing/rise/fall/shift capabilities vary. Although I recently ordered a used Nikon PB-4 bellows, the PB-4 cannot be used with mirrorless and cannot focus to infinity so it is for close range and macro work only.

The Novoflex web site is at best confusing, for example, not saying for whether or not infinity focus is possible with a Nikon or Canon lens when used with Sony mirrorless (the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera reaches infinity focus). All the right parts seem to be offered (e.g. a Sony mirrorless camera adapter), but the company does a poor job of explaining what works in terms of focus, and what does not. For example, the following omits what kind of camera is being referred to (presumably a DSLR):

For purposes were focusing to infinity (35mm and APS-C size sensor cameras) is required NOVOFLEX offers a special lens head by SCHNEIDER KREUZNACH (Apo DIGITAR 4,5/90mm), which is optimized for digital cameras. The focusing ranges from infinity to 1.2x magnification with 35mm cameras and up to 1.8x magnification with APS-C cameras. The lens head comes preassembled on the necessary adapter to start taking pictures immediately.

As yet I do not understand if a Nikon F-mount lens used with a Sony A7R II can reach infinity focus with the Novoflex system. Nor is it clear if Canon EF lenses can be electrically controlled when using a Sony mirrorless camera (it seems not).

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

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

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of 1:10.2 to test just such a case.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Image sizes up to 28 megapixels along with large crops provide a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera).

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16.

80-year-old map of the world
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Zerene Stacker for Focus Stacking

For the recent focus stacking example with the Pentax K1 and the focus stacking example with the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar, I used Zerene Stacker (available for Mac and PC).

ZereneStacker is impressively fast and straightforward to use. This was the first time I had ever used it for these examples, and yet I had each stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design. No touchup was needed for the examples noted above.

Zerene Stacker: stack in progress
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Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony Mirrorless (or Fujifilm/Olympus/Nikon/Canon)

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

I’ve collected all the parts together in this one wish Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

B&H Photo also carries Novoflex bellows for DSLRs, Leica M, Leica S, including Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS.

See also: Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them?and Novoflex Bellows for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony.

The Cambo Actus Mini View Camera is intriguing.

  • Rear standard allows swapping out different cameras.
  • Infinity Focus with Mirrorless Cameras. Which means Nikon or Canon and many other lenses can be turned into view camera lenses for Sony or other mirrorless.
  • Support Canon lenses (lensplate), Nikon F-mount lens (lensplate), including “G” lenses. Zeiss DSLR lenses, Coastal Optics, Voigtlander, Sigma etc. Also supports Leica R lenses (lensplate),
  • Rear standard takes Sony/Fujifilm/Olympus mirrorless or Nikon/Canon DSLRs. camera such as the Sony A7R II. However, DSLR cameras will not reach anywhere near infinity focus (flange focal offset won’t allow it), so DSLR cameras are only for macro and close range work.
  • The front standard accelts (via lens plates) mounted Nikon F lenses (Nikon, Zeiss, man others) or Leica or Canon EF DSLR lenses, various medium format lenses, an optimized 24mm lens, or Copal #0/#1 view camera lenses. [Nikon or Zeiss lenses with aperture ring much preferred for the simple mechanical plate, since Canon lenses require the much more expensive powered lens plate]. DSLR lenses do not have large image circles, so shift possibilities are limited.
  • Because focusing can be done without the lens moving or refocusing by moving the rear standard (the camera), it is possible to make perfect stitched or stacked images which have no perspective change, no magnification change and no change in focal length. [the entrance pupil position and focal length must not change, yet those things almost always change when using the lens to focus, particularly at close range.]
  • Tilt and swing on the front standard (but not shift).
  • Rise/fall/shift on rear standard in focal plane (but no tilt/swing).
  • 1000 grams for the base unit, 120 grams for a Nikon lens plate, bellows weight (three lengths/choices) unspecified.
  • Exchangeable bayonets for Sony E-Mount, Nikon F, Canon EOS, Fujifilm X mirrorless, Olympus mirrorless, more. However, DSLR cameras will not reach anywhere near infinity focus (flange focal offset won’t allow it), so DSLR cameras are only for macro work. Use Sony mirrorless instead and the full focus range is possible.
  • Special 24mm f/3.5 lens for up to 10mm of shift (60mm image circle).

I’d like to try it out, and may give it a go if I can get hold of it.

From the Cambo web site:

The Cambo ACTUS is a new technology camera system designed for mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony Alpha 7 series & Fuji-X and available for Canon & Nikon DSLR’s.

It combines traditional view camera techniques with the latest capture technology.
Using view camera movement, the photographer will be able to be more versatile, be more creative and will be getting more professional results much faster than before.

Mirrorless system camera bodies can be used as digital back, while the Cambo ACTUS will function as tilt-shift and swing adapter with view camera movements for each lens that is being used with this combination!!

Size matters, the Cambo ACTUS has been designed to give maximum functionality with minimal dimensions to support portability at ease. The Cambo ACTUS is small and lightweight and fits easily in a small case.

A basic configuration of a Cambo ACTUS consists of a monorail, front assembly without lensplate, a rear frame with an optional choice of camera bayonet and a detachable standard bellows which is part of the ACTUS configuration.

Cambo ACTUS Specifications

Size L / W / H: 15 x 10 x 17 cm
Weight: 1000 grams
Front Swing: 360 degrees
Front Tilt: 19 degrees (+10/-9)
Rear Shift Vertical: 27mm (12/15)
Rear Shift Horizontal: 40mm (20/20)
Focus Travel: up to 125mm (Sony E-mount), up to 145mm (Nikon F-mount). up to 141mm (Canon EOS-mount)

Lens plates options: Copal 0, Copal 1, Hasselblad C Bayonet, M39 Leica thread, Mamiya RZ/RB bayonet, Mamiya 645 Pro bayonet, Leica R Bayonet (for mirror less bodies only), Nikon-F Bayonet (for mirror less bodies only), Canon-EOS bayonet (for mirror less bodies only)

Available Colours: Black anodised, Titanium anodised (option)

There is a special 24mm f/3.5 lens available:

Cambo ACTAR 24mm f/3.5

The ACTAR-24 is a lens dedicated to the Cambo Actus in combination with a DSLR or mirror less camera, mounted to the Actus. This lens is permanently attached to an Actus lens panel and has a fftocal length of 24mm. This makes it an ideal companion for landscape and architectural photographers. With a relatively light weight and a modest size it is easy to carry with you to location shootings.

The ACTAR-24 is a lens with almost no geometrical distortion. As the image circle is 60mm, there is an optically allowed horizontal shift possible of 10mm each side when using a full frame (24x36) sensor in landscape mode, and 12mm in portrait mode. When using a smaller APS-C sensor the shift possibilities grow to 15mm and 17mm. Of course vertical shifts have the same possible numbers in reverse order.

The optical design of this lens is a 16 element in 11 groups, of which all lenses are multicoated to achieve the best contrast. The aperture range is from f/3,5 to f/22 in half stop increments. Please note that the aperture is manual and there are no electronical connections available nor needed.

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Pentax Macro Lenses

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

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

The Pentax K1 SuperRes mode is well-suited to still-life photography, hence a macro lens is a key part of the lens kit for the K1.

None of the loaner lenses I have on hand (15-30/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 31/1.8, 43/1.9, 77/1.8, 70-200/2.8) are any good for close range work (quality and/or focusing range) like the Ultegra cassette example, so B&H has kindly send me these three optics for arrival tomorrow.

I’m skeptical that any of them will perform as well as Zeiss macro lenses, but hopefully they will be reasonably good and perhaps shine on the K1 in SuperRes mode.

At close range the Pentax 35/2.8 macro might enlarge its image circle enough to almost cover full frame, as the Zeiss Touit lenses can do.

I’m facing a business challenge here: interest in my K1 coverage has not exactly been robust; I would characterize interest as 'niche'.

Very soon it becomes a financial loss for me to spend more of my time on the Pentax K1 system, when I could be covering more popular topics. I’d love to cover the K1 for another week at least, but I need to see an uptick in DAP subscriptions at the least, and preferably the “Everything” deal—that really makes a difference. Every/any current subscriber can login and upgrade to everything at reduced price.

One reader emailed to ask if I was going to review the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 macro or 100mm f/2.8 macro. There is also a Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Limited macro. I replied in a vein similar to the above—I can’t work at a loss for long; I have a family of 5 to support. So I cover what pays the bills or, sometimes, what I feel I need for general understanding of the market directions. The K1 so far falls into that latter bucket.

The new HD DA style lenses from Pentax are lovely in aesthetic terms.

Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited
USB-C Dock for MacBook

4 USB3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, audio ports, HDMK 4K port!

Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: Focus Stacking 'Ultegra Cassette'

Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

Get Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

Intrigued by the focus stacking results with the Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode using a mediocre lens, I decided to repeat the exercise using the Nikon D810 (which has no SuperRes mode) + the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.

The Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar is all but an Otus and right now it has a chunky $400 rebate bringing it down to only about $1722. The Zeiss 135/2 APO focuses down to 1:4 while maintaining supreme quality, which is why I used it for this subject.

This example still-life stacks 15 exposures from the Nikon D810, full frame.

Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: Focus Stacking 'Ultegra Cassette'

Full actual pixels resolution (from full frame) of 29 megapixels on the review page can be viewed with outstanding jaw-dropping detail on an iMac 5K.

Includes for comparison the first frame of the series to show the huge gains in DoF; toggle to see just how little depth of field there is at f/9, and how focus stacking delivers.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Cycling: I prefer Shimano DuraAce, but only Ultegra has 11-32 Di2.

Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette, 9000 series
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Availability / Lead Time for Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon for Sony

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

See my in-depth review of the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon. It is the best 18mm ever produced for full frame cameras and therefore a must-have lens for the Sony mirrorless shooter, at least if one likes ultrawide.

Zeiss USA tells me that the lead time for the about $1499 Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon is about 12 weeks, so it would be wise to pre-order one.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon for Sony mirrorless
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PENTAX K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode, 'Ultegra Cassette'

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

The Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode is an ideal camera for focus stacking in the studio still-life photography, since Motion Correction with ACR is not an issue for still-life subjects, and all color moiré issues are avoided, and a brilliance and detail can be had that is not seen with any other DSLR (as of May 2016).

This example still-life stacks 10 exposures using the K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode, full frame. The SuperRes mode of the Pentax K1 means that micro contrast on fine details remains unusually good at f/13 with appropriate sharpening to counteract diffraction: see the 30mm mosaic series, Focus crop for just how good it can be.

The about $1296 Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 was used. Apparently you get what you pay for, because the image quality at minimum focus distance at 70mm shows extreme aberrations. This is why f/13 was used instead of f/9 (poor lens quality). No other lens available at the time could focus close enough at the required distance. The Pentax 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro would have been agreeable, but was not available.

Pentax K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Mode 'Ultegra Cassette'

Pentax K1 pixel shift settings

Full actual pixels resolution (from full frame) on the review page be viewed at chrome-like pixel density with outstanding jaw-dropping brilliance on an iMac 5K.

Includes for comparison the first frame of the series to show the huge gains in DoF.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Cycling: I prefer Shimano DuraAce, but only Ultegra has 11-32 Di2.

Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette, 9000 series
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B&H Photo Now Has Breakthrough Photography Neutral Density Filters

10-stop Neutral Density Filter by
Breakthrough Photography

Breakthrough Photography introduced a line of high-grade filters in 2015, dubbed the “X3” line. See the in-depth description of the technology used to manufacture these filters.

Due to trademark issues X3 became “X4”.

B&H Photo now carries BreakThrough Photography neutral density filters and Breakthrough Photography UV filters, available in various densities and sizes.

The coatings on the BreakThrough Photography neutral density filters are outstanding, and the neutrality is far superior to other brands for the more dense filters (6 and 10 stop in particular are vastly better).

The latest versions have even better coatings thant the X3 version I reviewed last year:

Review of the Breakthrough Photography Neutral Density Filters

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

PENTAX K1: Night Shooting Examples in Super Res Pixel Shift Mode

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

Shot at night in part to explore performance of the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR.

But the area of interest here is sensor quality of the Pentax K1 for night exposures, and in general, with SuperRes pixel shift mode.

The examples show that the Pentax K1 is medium format quality, indeed superior to medium format in that it offers extreme sharpness free of moiré and aliasing effects (in SuperRes mode). The flip side is that checkerboarding artifacts are provoked by changes in lighting along (not just motion), so it is a dual-edged sword.

Pentax K1: Night Exposures in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode

Shot in SuperRes mode for all frames. Presented at sizes up to 28 megapixels with large crops and the ACR conversion settings.

Your jaw should drop in viewing the crops—no conventional DSLR or mirrorless camera can deliver this kind of image quality (extreme detail that is moiré and aliasing).

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PENTAX K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode, 'Pair of Pears'

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

The Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode is an ideal camera for focus stacking in the studio still-life photography, since Motion Correction with ACR is not an issue for still-life subjects, and all color moiré issues are avoided, and a brilliance and detail can be had that is not seen with any other DSLR (as of May 2016).

This example still-life explores a simple focus stack using six exposures shot in APS-C crop mode using the K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode. APS-C crop was used for depth of field reasons and because getting closer with the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art would have meant blocking the wonderful natural lighting (a 50mm or 100mm would have been agreeable, but were not available).

Pentax K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Mode (Pair of Pears)

Shot in SuperRes mode for all frames. Presented in both color and B&W at full camera resolution from APS-C crop mode. A frame at f/9 without focus stacking is included for comparison, also in color and B&W—thus this is a 4-way look at the results.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Full resolution on the review page be viewed at chrome-like pixel density with outstanding jaw-dropping brilliance on an iMac 5K.

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Ricoh Imaging Updates PENTAX K1 Firmware to Version 1.1

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

Pentax K1 firmware version 1.1 information page.

Changes to V1.10

• Corresponded to IMAGE Transmitter 2 (Version2.2.0)
• Correspond to PENTAX Tethered Capture Plug-in for Adobe® • Photoshop® Lightroom®(Simple Version)(Version1.1.0)
• Improved stability for general performance.

Pentax has instructions online at the above link. The update process is fast and easy (far better than the kludgy procedures of Sony and Olympus, which require tethering the camera to a computer).

The upgrade was fast and problem free for the K1 I have on hand.


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