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30 day blog index

To the Mountains

I’m off with Otii 55 and 85 and the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, and more.

 

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Backlit Redwood Grove'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

A distance scene with challenging contrast.

Aperture Series: Backlit Redwood Grove (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops, from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/16.

  Backlit Redwood Grove Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4
Backlit Redwood Grove
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Fading Maple Leaves in Backlit Creek'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

This full aperture series shows the superb contrast and flare control of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, along with bokeh and sunstars and color aberration assessment.

Aperture Series: 'Fading Maple Leaves in Backlit Creek' (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops, from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/16.

  Fading Maple Leaves in Backlit Creek Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/16
Fading Maple Leaves in Backlit Creek
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/16

Heading Out to Mountains, and Eastern Sierra Nevada Weather and Travel Conditions

I’m off to the Sierra today, first with a photo tour client for 5 days, then more of my own shooting and then my ultra-hard 2-day cycling stage race, the Everest Challenge.

Dennis Mattinson’s 395Travel.com offers great information on one of my favorite haunts: the eastern California Sierra Nevada and California White Mountains area. For example, his weather forecast page is encouraging (thunderstorms are terrific):

A change in our pattern to a cooler wetter one well be effected by three storms. First Hurricane Odile is moving north towards Tuscan and Nogales. It will provide enough moisture in the air from humidity to assist with the second storm moving thru the PACNW today. So a chance of mountain showers and thunderstorms thru Friday. Wrap around moisture from the third storm, a smaller low off the CA coast will keep thunderstorms chances going into Sunday for Mono County.

Dennis writes:

I have been working with my friends over at Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District on placing two cameras atop one of the Inyo’s highest peaks.

Views from the Dry Owens Lake (Lone Pine area) all the way to Bishop and beyond! The cams are available from our home page under Owens Valley South / Owens Valley North on the left side menu. The view is awesome anytime.

DIGLLOYD: See the Owens Valley North Cam and Owens Valley South Cam pages and/or the Google map.

Great near the environmental disaster known as Owens Lake e.g., the toxic dust created from Los Angeles diverting the water supply, though recent court-ordered inflows have helped. As per Wikipedia (and my eyes in driving past it en route to Death Valley):

More commonly, periodic winds stir up noxious alkali dust storms that carry away as much as four million tons (3.6 million metric tons) of dust from the lakebed each year, causing respiratory problems in nearby residents.

395Travel.com
395Travel.com: web cam from Owens Valley north
395Travel.com
395Travel.com

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Redwoods and Ferns'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

See also thoughts and discussion in the prior post. This medium distance series shows the remarkably consistent quality of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Aperture Series: Redwoods and Ferns (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops, from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/8.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Underwater Maple Leaf'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

See also thoughts and discussion in the prior post. This close-range series shows that very high quality is retained at close range.

Aperture Series: Underwater Maple Leaf (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images in color and black and white, and large crops, all from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/16.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Big Leaf Maple'

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

See the in-depth technical discussion of the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon in Guide to Leica.

I’m packing for an extended trip to the mountains today (including a 5 day photo tour), so I’m really under time pressure, but I hope to to publish several series before I leave.

The 35/1.4 Distagon showed up yesterday, and I shot it for the first time yesterday afternoon and evening, with Ming Thein and I meeting and shooting together in person for the first time, over at Purissimma Creek Redwoods State Park.

Aperture Series: Big Leaf Maple (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images in color and black and white, and large crops, all from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/16.

I’ll be doing more work with the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon as field shots suggest that it is now the best 35mm lens available for Leica M. And at about $2290 compared to about $5150 for the Leica Summilux, that’s a no-brainer for an M shooter.

I also have on hand the Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH, Leica 35/2 Summicron-M ASPH, Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon, Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon and Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 II ASPH. That’s a lot, but it should yield insights into many matters.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M: Best 35mm M Lens Yet?

Pre-order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver) for Leica M at B&H Photo.

An in-depth technical discussion of the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M is now published in Guide to Leica.

Includes MTF charts: full series from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 on Leica M as well as ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/8 on Sony A7x cameras, field curvature chart at ƒ/1.4 and ƒ/4, the first five apertures of vignetting, distortion, effective aperture and DoF at the periphery discussion. Technical but highly instructive basis for understanding its performance.

With 1/3 the distortion of the Summilux, superior control over field curvature, more uniform and higher contrast wide open, more uniform sharpness sharpness across the field, absence of lateral color, no focus shift, the technical prowess on paper is confirmed by yesterday’s field shots showing.

The in-the-field performance at ƒ/1.4 is very impressive, which means that the famed Leica 2010 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M not only has competition, but now appears to play second fiddle to the ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Sample images will go up later today, as many as I can do while packing for my trip on which I’ll be doing much more work with the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M

The new ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM for professional reportage photography

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is latest member of the ZM lens family

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, September 16, 2014

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM continues the success story of the ZEISS ZM lens family and sets a new standard in the market.

First, it is notable for its very high speed. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the lens creates a pleasing bokeh, which optically enhances the background as the main composition element, while at the same time directing attention to the main motif in the foreground. The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM, which is optimized for digital sensors, also stands out for its excellent flat image field. Thanks to the Distagon‘s optical design, the lens delivers high resolution across the entire image field.

Very fast and precise – the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is a “storyteller”. The main motif becomes the focus, whether it’s a portrait, a group of people or an everyday scene. Details are recognizable, as well as facial expressions, movements of the body, and surface structures. At the same time, the focal length of 35 millimeters captures the surroundings, placing the object within its natural context. If the photographer wishes to direct the viewer’s attention even more, he or she may compose the picture with the large aperture of f/1.4 with a low depth of field, thereby separating the focused motif from its background.

In poor lighting conditions the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM is also a top performer. The large aperture ensures the photographer is independent from the ISO limitations of his camera. The lens also has excellent focusing characteristics when the light is weak.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon schematic
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon schematic

For generations of photographers, individuality, rangefinder camera and a no-compromising optical quality have been an inseparable combination. The focal length of 35 millimeters is, and remains, the ‘basic lens’ that should not be absent on any camera with an M-mount.

In classic rangefinder photography, short focal lengths such as the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM have advantages over longer focal lengths when it comes to focusing, because the picture seen through the optical finder corresponds almost completely to the motif actually shot. The limitation imposed by the viewfinder frame is negligible for the composition of the image. With this angular field, image dimensions still remain natural. The combination of an elegant-reserved rangefinder camera and a 35-mm lens puts the photographer at the center of the action – not too far away and not too close. It is not for nothing that this system has always been the standard tool for discerning reportage photographers.

In addition, as a member of the ZM family of lenses, the ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM has all of its assets. Complex measures inside the lens minimize any stray light that might occur. Die T* anti-reflective coating from ZEISS guarantees a very high degree of flare control.

The aperture consists of 10 aperture blades and is therefore almost circular. The iris can be set in steps of 1/3 through the precise and sensitive notch mechanism and with exact photometric increments. The easy-to-grip focus ring with an ergonomic finger rest enables fast, precise focusing. The mechanical quality is outstanding; the focus operation is smooth, with a large rotation angle. And the robust all-metal barrel guarantees a long product life in the rough everyday life of professional photographers.

“For the M system there is today almost no alternative to the Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM. It is the best ZM lens that you can get under these conditions,” assures Christophe Casenave, Product Manager with ZEISS Camera Lenses.

The ZEISS Distagon T* 1,4/35 ZM will be available worldwide, in silver and black, starting in the fourth quarter of 2014. The expected recommended retail price is €1,679.84 * or US$ 2.290,00* (excl. VAT).

More information can be found at www.zeiss.com/photo

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8

Available in black or silver.

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M  

Daryl writes:

Was I surprised to see your review today.

I ordered the lens this morning after looking at the MTF curves and your review confirms my initial thoughts about a phenomenal lens.

Another great surprise is you have upped your game again, thank you, and I want to read all the information you have posted on this lens. Are you working with LensRentals.com on the new data?

DIGLLOYD: I had a few days to prepare the material (MTF and other charts are courtesy of Carl Zeiss). My very own copy (silver) showed up less than 24 hours ago, but I got right on it and shot it last night. Examples coming shortly.

Photokina a Yawner, but At Least One More Thing

No end of surprises, a Canon 7D Mark II arrives. The “II” pretty much says it all (I’m sure its a very nice evolution of same-old, not a criticism of that model). Where is the 50 (or at lest 40) megapixel Canon full frame after 5 years of all but frozen full-frame offerings? Maybe it’s still to be announced (which year is open to debate).

If I can wake up at 03:00 AM tomorrow (tonight), I’ll have something of great interest to a certain group of shooters. If not, then maybe 7AM or so. Along with first examples if UPS shows up in about two hours as expected.

Bummer not to have Olympus image stabilized 4K video iteration.

David S writes:

I think that the big hole in the 7D Mk II specs is no 4K video. I think that that’s a much more gaping omission than no increase in pixel count. As you point out, the Mk II is about gradual progress with improved auto-focus for both stills and video – the improvements here seem to be quite significant though. The original 7D lagged the 5D Mk III in AF performance quite noticeably (I know from personal experience with both cameras) but the 7D II should fix that and make it as good as or better than the 5D III in that regard.

fter all, AF is where DSLRs really shine and makes them an optimum choice for sports, wildlife, candid shots or any situation where fast and accurate AF will deliver the best image quality; that’s where mirror-less can’t compete with DSLRs, when fast AF speed is of the essence for optimum image quality. The new Dual-Pixel sensor should also bring a significant improvement to video auto-focus (although auto-focus when shooting video is probably still risky for many situations). The headphone jack and uncompressed HDMI output are also good additions for videographers.

DIGLLOYD: All good points, particularly on 4K video. DSLRs have always produced marginal video of any kind to date IMO, ironically outshone by far by cameras like the Panasonic GH4.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'DeChambeau Yellow Wagon'

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon.

This ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 aperture series in Guide to Zeiss explores the slight telephoto effect and choice of aperture.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'DeChambeau Yellow Wagon'

  DeChambeau Yellow Wagon Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
DeChambeau Yellow Wagon
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2

Compared: Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 vs Leica 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar-M ASPH (M240, Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior)

Voigtlander Ultron 21m f/1.8 lens is about $1149 for Leica M.

In Guide to Leica at the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8.

Compared: vs Leica 21/3.4 SEM and Voigtlander 21/4 (M240, Wyman Cabin Interior)

Includes HD and UltraHD aperture series and the Voigtlander Color-Skopar 21mm f/4 is included as well.

  Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/4
Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon
Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/4

Chris L writes:

As a Voigtländer aficionado, I thought I should know if such a beast
existed in mounts other than Leica M.

Neither BHphoto nor Cosina/Voigt themselves mention it in Canon EF or
Nikon F mounts.

DIGLLOYD: the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 is an M-mount lens (Leica M rangefinder) with a short backfocus ; it is impossible to use it on a DSLR.

It could be used via an adapter on mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7s/A7/A7R, but ray angle issues would severely degrade its peripheral quality at wider apertures. Stopped down to ƒ/8 - ƒ/11 it might perform well however. See the coverage of various wide angle Leica M lenses on Sony A7/A7R in Guide to Leica.

Server Change: New Image Server

A new high performance image server is in place for this site.

With a suitably fast internet connection, an entire ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/16 aperture series in 4K Ultra HD size can be viewed in about 5 seconds (you’d want a 4K display for the UltraHD size, generally speaking, otherwise the regular 2560 X 1600 size is more appropriate).

Nikon D750: Incremental Move Forward, but Plows no New Ground

Pre-order the Nikon D750 at B&H Photo.

As an incremental and worthwhile advance, the Nikon D750 makes sense: a full-frame sensor with tiltable rear LCD (allows angled shooting more easily), and the now de rigueur wireless support which surely will be embedded in all cameras before long.

The Nikon D750 looks to be a solid offering. In viewing its rear control layout, its seem to match the D810 control layout, which is important for anyone considering a D810 + D750 pairing: the variance between the D600 and D800 drove me crazy when shooting the two together. But I cannot say whether its operational behavior is identical.

Innovation is not to be found, not even following in Sony’s footsteps by offering 4K video and an optional hot-shoe-mount EVF. And surely it is time for Nikon to think about ditching that mirror box in at least one model for a high res EVF model. The D750 is a solid incremental advance and that is not a bad thing, but neither is it exciting.

In terms of value, when I look at any camera over $2000, I look at the total system cost over time. At about $2299, its $1000 less than than the Nikon D810 which seems like a lot more, and it is a lot more—without context. But consider lenses and accessories: what is the total system cost and in that context, does a D750 make sense versus a D810? The D810 seems likely to hold better resale value too. 24 megapixels is enough for most all purposes but if one is shooting high-grade lenses, then it makes more sense to go to 36, because 36 is if nothing else oversampling or higher image quality in total.

Nikon D750 rear controls
Nikon D750 rear controls

September 12, 2014

Tonight, Nikon announced the D750, an exciting addition to its FX-format D-SLR camera lineup. This full frame camera features a powerful combination of pro-caliber photo and video features for both professionals and enthusiasts in a compact and lightweight body. The Nikon D750 features a 24.3-megapixel sensor and is the first FX-Format Nikon D-SLR to feature a tilting Vari-angle LCD display and built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.

Additionally, Nikon has also announced a new compact SB-500 multimedia Speedlight with a built in LED, and the fast AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED lens, the latest addition to Nikon’s expanding line of f/1.8 prime lenses.

Nikon D750
· Powerful photo and video features for both professionals and advanced enthusiasts
· New 24.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor provides rich colors and gradation
o EXPEED 4 Image Processor (similar to D810 and D4S) increases efficiency and performance
· Offers the ability to share images instantly with built-in Wi-Fi
· Nikon’s first FX-format D-SLR with a tilting LCD display (3.2 in. 1,229K dot), helps frame photos and videos from a variety of previously difficult angles
· Pro 51-point AF System great for tracking wildlife or sports
o Group Area AF
o Lock in subjects in as little as -3 EV illumination
· 6.5 frames per second (fps) burst rate at full resolution
· Reaches the same level of advanced video functionality as the Nikon D810
o Full HD 1920x1080 resolution at 60/30/24p
o Power Aperture for smooth transitions and other advanced video features
o Record to dual SD memory card slots or output via HDMI
· Optional MB-D16 battery pack provides extended battery life and vertical grip
· Available in late September for $2,299.95 SRP (body only) and as a kit with the AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4 VR lens in mid-October

SB-500 Speedlight

· Compact yet powerful Speedlight and LED video light
· Covers wide 16mm/24mm (FX/DX) with a 90-degree vertical swivel and 180-degree rotation
o Great for bouncing light of ceilings and soft lighting effects
· Simplified controls and easily integrated into a CLS system
· Powerful (100 lux) LED light for video applications
· Runs on two AA batteries
· Available in late September for $249.95 SRP

AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
· Ultra-fast wide-angle addition to f/1.8 series of FX-format lenses
· First ultra-wide lens with a f/1.8 aperture, great for architecture, interiors and landscapes
· Capable of quiet and fast AF operation
· Nano Crystal Coat reduces ghost and flare
· Available in late September for $799.95 SRP

Sigma announces dp1 Quattro with 28mm (equiv) Wide Angle Lens

Pre-order the Sigma dp1 Quattro at B&H Photo.

Sigma has announced the dp1 Quattro, the next incarnation of its dp Quattro line, which deliver image detail beyond the apparent pay grade. See the in depth reviwe of the Sigma dp2 Quattro and the Sigma DP Merrill line.

The dp1 Quattro utilizes a newly developed, fixed 19mm F2.8 wide-angle lens, equivalent to a 28mm on a 35mm camera, that is specifically designed and optimized to pair with Sigma’s new Quattro sensor, making it the widest of the dp Quattro trio of cameras.

One FLD glass element paired with two glass mold aspherical lenses minimize aberration. An optimized telecentric design improves image quality throughout the frame to maximize the resolution power of the Foveon senor. The dp2 (30mm) is currently available and the dp3’s pricing and availability has yet to be announced.

In addition to the availability of the dp Quattro camera, Sigma has also announced a new LCD View Finder LVF-01, which is exclusively designed for the Quattro series of cameras. The LVF-01 attaches to the camera’s LCD display to eliminate outside light and features a diopter adjustment range from -2 to +1. Coupled with the camera’s high-performance lens and coating, it magnifies the LCD display 2.5 times, allowing photographers to check the focus more easily with enhanced clarity and visibility. The easy handling of the viewfinder also helps reduce camera shake.

The LCD viewfinder is a smart move, akin to the Zacuto Z-Finder that I use with all my cameras. It will be interesting to see how the optics and mounting of the viewfinder work. It does seem a bit silly not just ot have designed-in a hot shoe mount for an EVF, but it’s very good to see a solution offered.

Sigma DP Quattro sensor design
Sigma dp2 Quattro sensor design
Sigma DP2 Quattro
Sigma dp2 Quattro shown

Sigma Corporation of America Announces Availability of dp1 Quattro Camera, New Quattro Series View Finder

Widest of the high-powered, compact trio on shelves in mid-October, new accessory available in December

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. — September 12, 2014 Sigma Corporation of America, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, today announced the availability of the Sigma dp1 Quattro camera and a new view finder that will magnify Quattro cameras’ LCD screens. The second compact camera in the dp Quattro series will be available in the United States in mid-October and the accessory will be sold separately beginning in December. The pricing of both products has not yet been announced.
The dp1 Quattro utilizes a newly developed, fixed 19mm F2.8 wide-angle lens, equivalent to a 28mm on a 35mm camera, that is specifically designed and optimized to pair with Sigma’s new Quattro sensor, making it the widest of the dp Quattro trio of cameras. One FLD glass element paired with two glass mold aspherical lenses minimize aberration. An optimized telecentric design improves image quality throughout the frame to maximize the resolution power of the Foveon senor. The dp2 (30mm) is currently available and the dp3’s pricing and availability has yet to be announced.
In addition to the availability of the dp Quattro camera, Sigma has also announced a new LCD View Finder LVF-01, which is exclusively designed for the Quattro series of cameras. The LVF-01 attaches to the camera’s LCD display to eliminate outside light and features a diopter adjustment range from -2 to +1. Coupled with the camera’s high-performance lens and coating, it magnifies the LCD display 2.5 times, allowing photographers to check the focus more easily with enhanced clarity and visibility. The easy handling of the viewfinder also helps reduce camera shake.

As with all the cameras in the Quattro series, the dp1 Quattro boasts a redesigned camera body that enables optimal lens and sensor performance and it contains the newly developed Foveon “Quattro” Direct Image sensor, which is the only of its kind.
The Quattro sensor is a three-layered, panchromatic silicon chip whose green-sensitive middle and red-sensitive bottom layers each have 4.9 MP and record only color/chrominance information. The top blue layer captures chrominance and resolution/luminance information with 19.6 MP, resulting in greater detail capture and resolution capabilities that are higher than the Merrill DP camera line. The Quattro sensor’s architecture also contributes to true color rendition and more detail capture, delivering even more realistic images as well as faster image processing, improving overall user experience.
”We value image quality above all else and the engineering, craftsmanship and functional design of the Quattro cameras produce emotive imagery with the richest tones, gradations and textures,” said Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president of Sigma Corporation of America. “Our Sigma users are particularly enamored with the wide, 19mm lens in the dp1, which has been redesigned to maximize the capabilities of the Quattro sensor.”
The dp1 Quattro camera will differ from earlier generations of the DP cameras, as it will feature:

  • Foveon direct image sensor that produces images that are more colorful, rich, deep and faithful than ever before
  • Improved battery life
  • Fixed focal length cameras, providing the most optimized combination for unmatched image quality.
  • The TRUE III Image processor, providing ultrafast processing of an immense volume of image data without any deterioration of the final image
  • Better high ISO performance with one to two stops of improvement
  • Improved 3A performance: Auto Exposure, Auto Focus and Auto White Balance
  • Enhanced Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, FOV Classic Blue, and Monochrome color modes, and new Cinema, Sunset Red, Forest Green, and FOV Classic Yellow color modes

To locate the closest authorized Sigma dealer, visit http://www.sigmaphoto.com/where-to-buy-sigma. For more information about Sigma Corporation of America and the Quattro line of cameras, visit www.sigmaphoto.com.

SanDisk 512GB SDXC Card

Pre-Order the monster SanDisk 512GB SDXC card at B&H Photo.

These things are getting huge! But I suppose that in 10 years they will be 512TB holographic or something.

I like big cards because I can leave all shoots on them as additional backups when in the field (no need to erase). I download each day’s shoot as I go, leaving it on the card as a backup. See a more in-depth discussion in Downloading and Backing Up Images In The Field in the DAP Workflow section.

SanDisk 512GB SDXC card
SanDisk 512GB SDXC card

Richard J writes:

These cards are getting bigger and bigger all the time and as I had a HDD failure this week.

I am starting to wonder If these cards might be an alternative to long term storage solutions, rather then optical or tape back up. If a card was tested and stored correctly what would be the usable and safe longevity of doing storage this way. This card is a bit expensive but 256 GB is not too bad.

DIGLLOYD: the spare blocks (“over provisioning”) of a good 2.5" SSD along with its high level of error correction makes them a better choice than camera cards which have far lower lifetime wear cycles as well. The ultimate is something like the OWC Enterprise SSD, which has 28% over provisioning and a 7 year warranty. That’s total overkill though (designed to be “beat up” continuously)—better to buy the regular versions like the OWC Electra SSD, and buy more of them (for redundancy).

But most people want an external case. My favorite here is the OWC Mercury Envoy Pro EX. Or any of the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Mini bus powered variants with a 2.5" SSD inside. But the cheapest option (again think redundancy) are 2.5" hard drives in USB bus powered cases. This is all assuming less than huge storage requirements.

This Site is Up, Comcast Users Might have Issues Reaching it (FIXED)

UPDATE: issue resolved as of 09:00 September 11. It was an ISP routing failure (not this site’s server).

This site is inacessible for some Comcast users (including me, I have dual internet connections one of which is Comcast). That explains strangely low traffic today.

It’s now at Comcast Level III support. It appears to be some general routing failure handoff between Comcast and qwest.net, or wider. Nothing I can do except hope that their Level III support team fixes it ASAP. Even Comcast.com seems to be down too through another ISP, thought AT&T internet works to Comcast.com.

The issue is apparently affecting other sites too. For example, I am unable to reach http://blog.macsales.com. That could be a coincidence; I can’t be sure. It appears to be a bi-directional problem, which makes it even more confusing.

The site is up and functional through other service providers such as A&T which I’ve confirmed myself (internet via iPhone cell connection), and also confirmed via one reader.

diglloyd$ traceroute diglloyd.com
traceroute to diglloyd.com (204.11.224.34), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
1 192.168.1.129 (192.168.1.129) <== diglloyd comcast link
2 * * *
3 c-73-170-32-1.hsd1.ca.comcast.net (73.170.32.1)
4 te-0-3-0-8-sur04.santaclara.ca.sfba.comcast.net (68.85.191.17)
5 68.87.194.2 (68.87.194.2)
te-0-5-0-1-sur03.santaclara.ca.sfba.comcast.net (69.139.198.101)
te-1-1-0-10-ar01.oakland.ca.sfba.comcast.net (68.87.226.130)
6 be-90-ar01.sfsutro.ca.sfba.comcast.net (68.85.155.14)
7 68.86.166.141 (68.86.166.141)
8 be-17-pe02.11greatoaks.ca.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.83.46)
9 snj-edge-03.inet.qwest.net (67.133.42.213)
10 svl2-cntr-01.inet.qwest.net (205.171.244.2) <=== black hole
11 * * *
12 * * *
13 * * *
14 * * * diglloyd$ ping 205.171.244.2 <== the black hole above
PING 205.171.244.2 (205.171.244.2): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 205.171.244.2: icmp_seq=0 ttl=247 time=16.531 ms
64 bytes from 205.171.244.2: icmp_seq=1 ttl=247 time=17.519 ms
64 bytes from 205.171.244.2: icmp_seq=2 ttl=247 time=20.171 ms

Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 on Leica M Typ 240 Aperture Series 'Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Exterior'

Voigtlander Ultron 21m f/1.8 lens is about $1149 for Leica M.

This is the first look in Guide to Leica at the Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8.

Voigtlander 21mm f/1.8 on Leica M Typ 240 Aperture Series 'Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Exterior'

Includes HD and UltraHD aperture series from ƒ/1.8 through ƒ/16 including ƒ/9.5 and ƒ/13 and in both color and black and white, along with large crops including a 4K UltraHD center crop.

  Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/2
Lower Cabin in Wyman Canyon
Leica M Typ 240 + Voigtlander Ultron 21mm f/1.8 @ f/2

4K Video: What I want to See at Photokina is Functional, not Fancy

The Olympus E-M5 (or Olympus E-M1) are the only cameras I have found suitable/useable for the cycling videos I want to do because of sensor image stabilization for any/all lenses, plus having the right size/mass and lens selection. Specialty helmet mount requirements and still photo and yet-another-piece-of-gear issues make GoPro unattractive to me, though that might differ if it were a regular/routine use.

I’m not looking for specialty products or 3 pound rigs (I have to pedal it all up after all), just a compact system that delivers high quality 4K video. While the Panasonic GH-4 delivers oustanding 4K video and is an acceptable form factor, it has no in-body sensor image stabilization, and hence no stabilization for the 8mm fisheye or 12mm wide angle lenses thatI prefer for this type of use.

My cycling videos show what I have in mind.

  Aug 16, 2012 in White Mountains — “Hail-covered Meadow Crossing” on Moots Mooto X YBB 29er mountain bike, Olympus E-M5
Aug 16, 2012 in White Mountains — “Hail-covered Meadow Crossing”
on Moots Mooto X YBB 29er mountain bike, Olympus E-M5

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'Trees, Tiles, Tower'

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon.

This at-dusk aperture series in Guide to Zeiss explores the depth of field at substantial distance showing that it’s a lot less than one might think. The full aperture range from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/16 shows the entire story, along with large crops.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'Trees, Tiles, Tower'

  Trees, Tiles, Tower Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8
Trees, Tiles, Tower
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8

Using Camera Profiles in Adobe Camera Raw (Nikon D810 examples)

In the DAP Workflow section, I discuss how I go about choosing a camera profile and the various settings to tweak the image to my liking. Shown are all variants of camera profiles for the Nikon D810.

ACR/Lightroom Camera Profile for Raw Conversion (Nikon D810)

  ACR conversion settings
ACR conversion settings

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: Versatility for any Challenge

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon.

In Guide to Zeiss, here are just a few of the images provided as lens rendering aperture series including HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white renditions, along with large crops and commentary/instruction.

Each series is carefully chosen to complement the others to give a full picture of the lens behavior under a wide variety of lighting and focusing distances. With the entire aperture series, the reader can visualize lens performance in a much deeper way than single images. On a 4K display with the UltraHD images, the viewing experience is stunning.

Click each image to go to its series.

  Pine Creek Thunderstorms Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4
Pine Creek Thunderstorms
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4
  Mining Gears Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8
Mining Gears
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8
  Tower at Dusk Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
Tower at Dusk
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
  Tree, Tiles, Toower Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/5.6
Tree, Tiles, Toower
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/5.6
  Emergency 911 Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/16
Emergency 911
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/16
  Garden Bench at Night Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
Garden Bench at Night
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
  Green Bokeh Beauty Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
Green Bokeh Beauty
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
  Green Leaf on Black rock Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
Green Leaf on Black rock
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2
  Atlas Permaguard Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/5.6
Atlas Permaguard
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/5.6

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Arrives Soon at B&H

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

I checked with Zeiss USA, and the first shipment is expected very soon, consistent with the B&H Photo “Expected availability: September 16 2014”.

In the field, I make practical use of clothing in the pack and out of it. Here I place the camera and lenses on a piece I can hardly do without when in the mountains, the Ibexwear wool hoody (a hoody offers sun and wind protection to head and neck).

A Zing neoprene pouch is seen at top right; most lenses get stowed in such pouches when in my North Face Recon daypack. But to save spac lenses sometimes are wrapped in other articles of clothing, like a light down jacket or wool cap or similar.

  Zeiss Otii in the field
Zeiss Otii in the field
(another blown-out and smeared iPhone 5s photo)

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'Wet Aspen Trunk'

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Aperture Series 'Wet Aspen Trunk'

Similar to the same scene with the Pentax 645Z (in DAP).

  Wet Aspen Trunk Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/11
Wet Aspen Trunk
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/11

Yes, it snows in August

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

Now up in Guide to Zeiss: my in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planarwith 29 pages of coverage.

It can snow in August in the mountains in the northern hemisphere. Here, Mt Dana has received a nice fresh blanket of white stuff.

And yes, photographers like diglloyd get lazy, the image is slightly blurred from handholding. But I took two shots, one badly blurred and one much better. And I was feeling sleepy anyway, and just enjoying the audacity of an August snowshower.

  Mt Dana with snow, August 9 2014 Thunderstorm Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8
Mt Dana with snow, August 9 2014 Thunderstorm
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8

Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: Exceptional Optical Efforts

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

Now up in Guide to Zeiss: my in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planarwith 29 pages of coverage.

Zeiss spared little effort with the Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar. Six of 11 elements have special glass types (chromatic correction) and one is aspheric, so 7 of 11 elements are “special”. The whole thing is oversize, which generally means that it can be manufactured reliably (an optical design can be superb but too difficult/expensive to manufacture). The results are the most gorgeous images I have seen on any camera.

  Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (schematic)
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (schematic)

Image Circle Size for 55/1.4 APO-Distagon and 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

A lens projects an image circle, the size of which is its “coverage” or the size format it “covers”. Quality doesn’t necessarily stay high to the edge of the image circle, but as shown with the Touit designs, it can extend well beyond the stated format size (see 12mm coverage and 32mm coverage and 50mm coverage and more 12mm coverage).

It turns out that the Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon and 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar both have quite large image circles.

The extreme corner of a 36 X 24mm frame is 21.3mm; these graphs show vignetting out to the 27.5mm corners of a medium format 44 X 33mm sensor (Pentax 645Z).

  Vignetting for Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon out to 44 X 33mm format size
Vignetting for Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon out to 44 X 33mm format size
  Vignetting for Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar out to 44 X 33mm format size
Vignetting for Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar out to 44 X 33mm format size

Filters for the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

  Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

The filter size of the new Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar is 86mm, which is oddball enough that I still have not been able to obtain the Heliopan 86mm SH-PMC polarizer I want for it (on order at B&H).

Zeiss will have 86mm UV and polarizer filters for the Otus 85/1.4, which are my preference, but these are not yet available. Otherwise, I greatly prefer Heliopan over B+W polarizers (ring stickiness on B+W, plus numbers on the Heliopan).

Recommended filters for the Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar are a bit hard to find in stock as yet, but here are some choices:

I like B+W MRC or Heliopan SH-PMC multicoating hard coat.

I generally do *not* use a skylight filter, because I want a completely neutral UV filter without any cutoff of deep blue; ultraviolet is not an issue whatsoever due to severe attenuation by modern lens coatings. And while a skylight filter can be useful in some conditions of bluish atmospheric haze, a polarizer is far more effective for such conditions.

Keep all filter meticulously clean, because even the best ones can degrade image quality.

Uber Lens: Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar offers Unprecedented Performance

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/4
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

In Guide to Zeiss is my in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar, with 29 pages of coverage including many ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 aperture series with HD and UltraHD images for visualization (with large crops and most in both color and black and white versions), technical coverage of various sorts, notes and commentary for context.

The 85mm focal length is ostensibly for portraits, and there the Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar delivers the most transparently beautiful imagery I have ever seen on a DSLR. Well, it does so in every case, not just portraits.

But that sells it short, because the Otus 85/1.4 delivers a transparency that rivals or beats everything I’ve tried and not in any single way—every way. Including medium format Leica S, and the best Pentax medium format lens, the 90/2.8 macro.

The 'transparency' of its imagery comes from strict control of all aberrations along with the best color correction I’ve ever seen in any fast lens, trouncing the color correction of lenses like the Leica 70mm f/2.5 Summarit-S.

Leica M Summilux or APO-Summicron lenses? The Otus delivers far superior color correction with far less field curvature and higher correction for all aberrations and ultra low distortion, and with no focus shift either. It’s not even a contest when one considers the 75mm or 90mm f/2 APO M lenses—they fall well short. The only M lens that can approach it (not match it) is the one-stop-slower 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH, a very fine lens indeed. But I’ve never seen the transparency and sheer beauty if the Otus even with Leica’s best M lens. And ƒ/2 is not ƒ/1.4 and flare control is another subject.

The Otus 85mm /1.4 APO-Planar sets a new standard all its own.

  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/4
Portrait with Sunflowers
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/4
  Early Yellow Aspen Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4
Early Yellow Aspen
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4
  Riparian Medley Lit by Canyon Walls in Early Morning Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4
Riparian Medley Lit by Canyon Walls in Early Morning
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/1.4

In Depth Review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (about $4490) for Nikon or Canon. THANK YOU for using this site’s links to pre-order.

Now up in Guide to Zeiss: my in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planarwith 29 pages of coverage.

I worked extensively with the 85/1.4 APO-Planar in the field While I did not (yet) do everything I’d like to cover, this review is very thorough.

This site has a worldwide exclusive for several days on reviews of this lens, as per Zeiss.

Except that within one day, some reviewer out there violated their agreement and published prematurely, causing Zeiss to open the floodgates. Oh well. :)

Update: Ming Thein has a good review of the Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar. Ming and I agree that the Otus 85 sets a new world class standard. See also my conversation with Ming.

  Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
  Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
  Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
MTF at f/1.4 for Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar T* Specifications
Focal length 85mm
Aperture range ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/16
Number of lens elements/groups 11 elements in 9 groups
One aspheric, six of special glass
Focusing range: 0.8 m / 31.50 in - ∞
Rotation angle of focusing (focus throw): 261°
Flange focal distance: ZF.2: 46.50 mm / 1.83 ft
  ZE: 44.00 mm / 1.73 ft
Entrance pupil position ( in front of image plane): 90 mm / 3.54 in
Free working distance at MOD: 0.65 m / 25.59 in - ∞
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.) 28.24° / 23.71° / 15.97°
Diameter of image field 43.2 mm
Flange focal offset ZF.2: 46,50 mm (1.83′′)
  ZE: 44,00 mm (1.73′′)
Coverage at close range (MOD). 36 X 24mm frame 278.85 x 185.61 mm / 10.97‘ x 7.31 in
Image ratio at close range 1:7.7
Filter thread 86mm
Length with caps: ZF.2: 138 mm / 5.43 in
  ZE: 141 mm / 5.55 in
Length without caps ZF.2: 122 mm (4.80‘‘)
  ZE: 124 mm (4.88‘‘)
Diameter max ZF.2: 101 mm/ 3.98 in
  ZE: 101 mm / 3.98 in
Weight (as weighed): ZF.2: 1244g / 2.74 lb with hood and caps
  ZE: 1315g / 2.90 lb with hood and caps
     Lens hood: 99g
Front lens cap: 23g
Weight (nominal): ZF.2: 1140g
  ZE: 1200g
Mounts ZF.2 (F bayonet)
ZE (EF bayonet)
Price: View street price

'The Racetrack' Playa in Death Valley: the Stones Caught Moving!

Science News reports Death Valley’s sailing stones caught on the move. See the details or watch the video.

See also Exploring Death Valley—Getting There and Exploring.

The Starting Line at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
The Starting Line at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
Long sliding-rock trail at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
Long sliding-rock trail at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley

Update on Sigma Photo Pro and Sigma dp2 Quattro

Back in July, my review of the Sigma dp2 Quattro discussed the disgruntling problems with the Sigma dp2 Quattro and the SPP software. I spent (wasted) enormous amounts of time dealing with the issues.

Luminous Landscape weighs in on the Sigma dp2 Quattro in Sigma DP2 Quattro Review: Not Ready for Prime Time. The review echoes many of the same issues, but in truth there are so many problems with the product (camera + software), that no review can do justice to the extent of it.

Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6

Sigma Photo Pro version 6.0.6 is out (for Sigma DP Merrill and Sigma dp Quattro cameras). Discussion that follows is of the OS X version, but reports from Windows users indicate that issues are not confined to the Mac.

One of many crash or crash-like bugs  Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6
The norm (Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6)

Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6 is finally usable on my Mac Pro: through version 6.0.5, opening an edit window resulted in a window somewhere offscreen (whether single or dual displays). I did have to trash the SPP preferences to get SPP 6.0.6 to function properly:
rm ~/Library/Preferences/SPhotoPro.xml

But that is only one of a laundry list of bugs and badly implemented algorithms and workflow choices and failure to cache and severe performance problems and so on ad nauseum. Some bugs have been fixed. But I didn’t consider it ready for prime time back in July or now in September.

One of many crash or crash-like bugs  Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6
One of many crash or crash-like bugs
Sigma Photo Pro 6.0.6

The fact that in 2014 SPP remains a 32-bit app speaks volumes. And that the developers see fit to leave developer hooks in the official binary is unbelievable (see screen shot at right, I reported this months ago also).

This default window fairly represents the inattention to detail in every aspect of the product. A spell check would be useful, e.g., “temperture”, and also menu item titling inconsistency. It’s all part and parcel of sloppy execution, tip of the iceberg.

But here’s the bottom line even if SPP works (until it crashes which it always does): a common task that would take 30 seconds in Photoshop takes 30 minutes in SPP.

The Project—Monday

The Project will be unveiled on Monday at 2PM PST.

Guys (married), flowers and a nice dinner might be in order today, so that discussion of the new and necessary photographic addition can be viewed in properly gruntled context tomorrow.

FOR SALE: Nikon D800E with RRS L-Bracket, Canon Lenses, Olympus SHG, Pentax K3

My work from here on out will use the Nikon D810, so my Nikon D800E is for sale with the original box and accessories along with the Really Right Stuff L-bracket () and DK-17M eyepiece.

This body was my go-to body with as perfect a lens mount alignment as I have yet found, no easy trick necessarily, even with a new camera body. It’s in excellent condition—not mint—but with the rear screen protected with a screen protector and no dings. Very minor here and there things you have to look hard for under good light. Shutter count is modest, perhaps 25K.

Best offer takes it: $2200 SALE PENDING

Can sell with AF-S 24-70 if desired.

Buyer pays 2-day or 3-day UPS or FedEx shipping and/or supplies own shipping label (no USPS) and/or picks up locally. California buyers responsible for any applicable sales tax. USA only, no overseas shipments.

Contact me (please use an appropriate email subject)

Other stuff

Canon lenses

Canon 50mm f/1.2L, perfect glass, hood caps in excellent condition $1050.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L, perfect glass, hood caps in excellent condition $999.

Olympus Super High Grade (SHG) zooms

These are reference-grade lenses for Four Thirds (Micro Four Thirds with Olympus MMF-3 adapter). Terrific choices for video users in particular (ultimate build and image quality, but these are large and heavy lenses best used for video rigs).

The SHG designation is not marketing hype; these are absolutely outstanding lenses that are reference lenses for all other Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses. See reviews in Guide to Mirrorless.

Sale of the three as a set preferred but will consider selling singly also. Also have three unmarked/unopened extended Olympus 4-year extended warranty cards (not registered) for lenses; will include (though unsure of warranty status for 2nd buyer). One Olympus MMF-3 adapter also. LIKE NEW IN BOX.

  • Olympus SHG 7-14mm f/4 Zuiko ED: $1500
  • Olympus SHG 14-35mm f/2 Zuiko ED: $1900
  • Olympus SHG 35-100mm f/2 Zuiko ED: $1950
  • All three take $400 more off and MMF-3 adapter gets included.

Pentax K3 premium silver edition

Very lightly used (under 1000 actuations) Pentax K-3 premium silver edition (details) in box like new as shipped. $800. SALE PENDING

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Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: Brilliant and Sharp (Aperture Series Pine Creek Buildings Thunderstorms, Nikon D810)

  Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

This series shot very close in time to the similar series with the 15/2.8 Distagon, so it’s an interesting perspective on the two lenses.

Light was changing by the second; this entire series was shot 4 times (!) to finally manage a complete series with the “spotlight” lighting as I desired, for each aperture. It provides an interesting complement to the 2013 series with its serene autumn weather.

The Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon offers high brilliance, superb flare control and terrific sharpness. These are reasons to select it over other ultra wides.

But like all ultrawides that are ƒ/2.8 or faster, a field curvature is present (very mild with the 21/2.8 Distagon). This series shows that behavior and discusses how to work with it for optimal results.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series 21/2.8 Distagon: Pine Creek Stormy Light (Nikon D810)

Also discussed and shown are its superlative point spread function and the behavior with stopping down.

Include HD and Ultra HD images and large crops from ƒ/2.8 through ƒ/16 along with both color and black and white images and how converted.

I’ve learned that a 1-megawatt hydroelectric generator is planned for the existing mine shaft, to upgrade the current ~100 KW plant. The mine shaft offers natural water flow with a “head” of at least 1500 vertical feed, offering tremendous hdyropower potential. It’s a shame to see a tungsten resource abandonded (risk of foreign supply for a critical metal), but what an awesome and perfect use for an old mine!

Toggle the image below to see the black and white rendition.

  Sun Spotlights Pine Creek Tungsten Mine Waterfall Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/5.6
Sun Spotlights Pine Creek Tungsten Mine Waterfall
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/5.6

Zeiss Loxia vs Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2 Biogon on Sony A7R

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo.

  MTF for Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*

See the Zeiss Loxia announcement.

Zeiss has provided some test images shot on the Sony A7R with the new Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon, along with images made with the existing Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2 Biogon (M mount).

Has the proven Biogon design of the Loxia 35/2 Biogon been tweaked, and also optimized for mirrorless?

The test images show that the Loxia 35/2 Biogon is a step up from the ZM 35/2 Biogon, long considered a very fine lens, but which was never designed to take sensor cover glass of digital into account, and the ray angle damage to image quality (extreme astigmatism as well as exacerbating color fringing, stopping well down is needed to counteract).

In short, the Zeiss Loxia lenses look to be the right choice for the Sony A7s/A7/A7R shooter looking for classic Zeiss all-metal build quality in a manual focus lens. Ergonomics of manual focusing also look to be much more hand friendly (wide barrel).

Crop is from an image taken at ~ 1:40 reproduction ratio. Both images are in focus.

UPDATE: I’ve examined the images carefully at all apertures. I am not satisfied of a precise focus match between the two, which puts the ZM 35/2 Biogon at a disadvantage. But examining all areas of the images, it’s clear that the ZM lens is suffering at the periphery from ray angle effects. So the crop below is not as bad as it looks for the ZM lens, but it is definitely not performing as well as the Loxia lens. This particular crop is at edge and field curvature means that its focus is not optimal for either lens, even as center is sharp.

Toggle to compare.

 

  MTF for Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
ƒ2. Actual pixels from Sony A7R. Image courtesy of Carl Zeiss

Zeiss Loxia MTF Discussion

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo.

  MTF for Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*

See the Zeiss Loxia announcement.

In Guide to Mirrorless, I’ve updated my pre-shooting coverage of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon and Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: the MTF graphs for both now include three apertures: ƒ/2, ƒ/4, ƒ/5.6, with an updated analysis.

I’ll be testing the Loxia lineup later this fall when press samples become available. Because these are for mirrorless, review coverage will be in Guide to Mirrorless. Zeiss DSLR lenses for Canon and Nikon are covered in Guide to Zeiss, and Zeiss ZM rangefinder lenses are covered in Guide to Leica.

  MTF for Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
MTF for Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*

B&H Photo Promo Code Deals

See my reviews of NEC displays and review of the 2013 Mac Pro and Guide to Zeiss.

Some interesting promotions at B&H Photo. Some discounts require use of promo code 147513516282279327995. Thanks for any link on this site to buy, or the various gear pages.

View all promotions.

Some items also have rewards and expedited free shipping as well.

diglloyd image   diglloyd image   diglloyd image

And of course:

 

Reader Comment: Mass Coupling for Sharper Images by Using View on Compact Cameras

Dale P writes:

The same idea applies to other small compacts without an EVF, not just the Sigma DP Merrill.

I also was irritated that there was no way to hold the Sigma DP Merrill up to my glasses and compose an image. By chance I happened to see a reference to this device in a blog somewhere. Someone liked using it on a point and shoot with an LCD but no viewfinder.

Basically this device attaches either on the tripod mount or into the flash mount site on the camera. It is a plastic arm and a flip up/down high quality lens then lets you comfortably put your eye right up to the lens and see the whole LCD.
http://www.clearviewer.com/index.html

So…I spent around $50 to check it out.

Surprise! It turns out that by pressing the lens firmly against my glasses, it is as if I am mashing the camera against my forehead. Giving great stabliity compared to holding the camera out away from my face with my two hands.
This is a technique you have referred to before I think.

Your theory works! I got sharp photo’s at 1/25th of a second at F4 whereas without the device my shots were blurry.

Worth considering for someone who wants sharp pictures with the DP Merrills.

I have no connection to the company making the device and just thought this info might help your other subscribers.

DIGLLOYD: I call this “mass coupling”, it’s no theory (it works), and it’s one of the techniques I discuss in the How to Hold a Camera Steady (Mass Coupling) section of Making Sharp Images.

Zeiss Lenses for Canon and Nikon: $50 off, 2% Rewards, Expedited Shipping

B&H Photos has Zeiss DSLR lenses for Canon and Nikon at $50 off, 2% rewards and free expedited shipping (Otus is excluded unfortunately). Thank you for using this site’s links to buy.

A personal favorite for its rendering style: the 25mm f/2.8 Distagon and the 2nd least expensive of the lineup.

  Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon   Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar
Zeiss ZF.2 lenses

Zeiss Loxia for Mirrorless Full Frame: Initial Analysis

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H PHoto.

See the Zeiss Loxia announcement.

To Guide to Mirrorless, I’ve added initial analysis and discussion on the MTF, distortion and vignetting behaviors of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon and Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

I’ll be testing the Loxia lineup later this fall when press samples become available. Because these are for mirrorless, review coverage will be in Guide to Mirrorless. Zeiss DSLR lenses for Canon and Nikon are covered in Guide to Zeiss, and Zeiss ZM rangefinder lenses are covered in Guide to Leica.

  Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*

Zeiss Loxia: Manual Focus All Metal Build Lenses for Mirrorless Full Frame

  Sony Alpha A7R
Zeiss Loxia mounts on
Sony Alpha A7S / A7 / A7R
(and others)

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H PHoto.

The two new Zeiss Loxia lenses incorporate proven Zeiss designs into all-metal manual focusing lens bodies for the full-frame Sony Alpha A7/A7R system.

These are the lenses I would choose as a Sony A7s/A7/A7R shooter for most of my purposes (particularly the A7s, for video focusing). Why? Because I like the solidity and long-lasting build quality along with the precision of manual focus (180° focus throw). A good manual focus feel/throw is a wonderful thing, and the EVF on the Sony bodies makes pinpoint focus easy and fast.

Note that it is possible to choose on the fly a clicked or declicked aperture feature, a first AFAIK (declicked is ideal for video shooters).

Other appealing points include weather sealing and the all-metal barrel, though it’s not clear to me what prevents ingress of water at the front end, since the inner barrel presumably has to move in out with focusing.

ZEISS Loxia lenses are designed for use in normal conditions. The Loxia lenses are not fully protected against splash water, nor are they water-proof. However, the lens mount features dust and weather proofing. Additional protection against extraordinary environmental influences is not provided. They do not feature protection in accordance with the ISO IP standard. These lenses are designed for use at temperatures ranging from -20°C to +55°C.

I’ll be testing the Loxia lineup later this fall when press samples become available. Because these are for mirrorless, review coverage will be in Guide to Mirrorless. Zeiss DSLR lenses for Canon and Nikon are covered in Guide to Zeiss, and Zeiss ZM rangefinder lenses are covered in Guide to Leica.

With both lenses, bear in mind that actual performance on a digital sensor depends not just on the lens by itself, but the lens design as optimized (or not) for the sensor cover glass thickness and ray angle. The sensor cover glass and ray angle issue is why Leica M lenses often fare poorly on Sony mirrorless. And its why performance of the Loxia line has to be evaluated with real images, not via comparison with other MTF charts. Zeiss has surely accounted for these factors so as to ensure that the designs will perform well on Sony mirrorless, by tweaking the optics slightly. That this is so is easily seen in the outstanding results with the 35/2 Biogon on the Sony RX1R, which compares favorably and maybe even outperforms the famed Leica Summilux 35/1.4.

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon

Both lens designs are classics, and are presumably tweaked to be optimal for ray angle issues and sensor cover glass on the Sony A mirrorless lineup (support for other brands presumably will follow, when other brands like Fujifilm offer a full frame camera).

The 35mm f/2 Biogon originates as rangefinder lens design (Zeiss ZM 35mm f/2 Biogon for use on Leica M). This is the superb lens design used in the Sony RX1 / RX1R (lovely performer there), though it could incorporate modifications for A7s/A7/A7R system.

  Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T*

The front element of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon of a special glass type (presumably to control various color aberrations), but it’s unclear if this differs from the RX1R or ZM designs. My guess is that it is new to the Loxia design versus the ZM lens, at least.

  Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* design
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* design

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

The 50mm f/2 Planar is another classic Zeiss design, presumably based on the Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2 Planar for Leica M. It is a very strong performer when stopped down slightly, and has gorgeous bokeh from its symmetric design.

  Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*
Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*

Marketplace positioning

The main question that arises in my mind is the strategic approach: it’s a courageous move to go manual focus and high quality build in today’s market, and that will attract a certain group of customers on its own.

The marketplace risk as I see it relates to optical performance and pricing relatively close to alternatives. These designs are excellent, but for many users autofocus exerts a strong pull. So some icing on the cake would add appeal: I would like to see something more on the optical front, meaning aggressive efforts towards wide open image quality. Certainly Zeiss Otus quality is out of the question (size/weight/price), but heading strongly in that direction. A higher price point (double) would be needed to meet that goal, but many of the potential customers would find that an appealing tradeoff, and it would establish a clearly separate category. As it stands the Loxia pricing at around $1000 seems to me as a customer to carry the same risks as the Touit line.

Zeiss Loxia Press release

Manual focusing, manual aperture and maximal image quality

With the new Loxia 2/35 and Loxia 2/50 lenses, ZEISS combines maximum image quality with classic ease of use for E-mount full-frame cameras.

OBERKOCHEN, September 2, 2014

The ZEISS lenses Loxia 2/35 and Loxia 2/50 are the first members of a new family of manual focus lenses for the E-mount full frame. They are optimized for digital sensors and electronic viewfinders and feature a mechanical aperture setting and the mechanical deactivation of the click stop (de-click) for ambitious videography. But these are just a few of the highlights. The lenses will be presented to the public for the first time at ZEISS’s booth at photokina in Cologne from September 16 to 21, 2014.

“Ever since the Sony Alpha 7/7r/7s helped compact system cameras break through to the full frame, there has been a growing desire for a ‘digital manual focus‘ experience that combines the best of both worlds. The Loxia 2/35 and Loxia 2/50 are the first members of a new family of manual focus lenses for the E-mount full frame. By entering this field, ZEISS not only wants to meet this desire, but exceed it,” said Christophe Casenave, Product Manager with ZEISS Camera Lenses.

Freedom of composition in photography was the guiding principle in developing the ZEISS Loxia 2/35 and ZEISS Loxia 2/50. An electronic interface transmits lens data (EXIF), but it also recognizes focus movements and, if desired, activates the camera’s magnifier function. This supports the possibilities of modern compact camera systems with an electronic viewfinder. Furthermore, the Loxia lenses allow for precise manual focusing as well as a mechanical setting of the aperture (aperture priority). This traditional way of working expresses one’s personal photo lifestyle, opening up surprising creative possibilities to compose the image that go beyond all automation.  

It is not for nothing that compact camera systems are one of the most interesting developments on the photography market today. Many photographers also appreciate the combination of traditional principles of handling and operation with the most modern technology.

Yet another highlight – the mechanical deactivation of aperture click stops (de-click), thus creating progressive and noiseless aperture settings– makes this new lens family a tool that provides a high degree of creative potential, not only for photographers but also for ambitious videographers. Thanks to their precise manual focusing, the Loxia 2/35 and Loxia 2/50 are also suitable for professional video productions.

The Loxia lens family has been specially optimized for digital sensors. The optical design of the Loxia 2/35 is based on a Biogon and consists of nine lens elements in six groups. With a full-frame focal length of a moderate wide angle, this lens is particularly well suited for nature, landscape and architectural photography. Its creative potential also comes to the fore thanks to its low minimum object distance of 0.3 meters, which allows close-ups with an unusual perspective.

The design of the Loxia 2/50 is based on a Planar and has six lens elements in four groups.  As a ‘classic’ normal lens with a full-frame focal length of 50 millimeters, it offers photographers a field of view that corresponds to natural eyesight. The Loxia 2/50 is ideally suited for a wide range of situations, from travel photography, family photography and photojournalism to portraiture  –  and with a minimum working distance of 0.37 meters it is suitable for close-ups, too. The Loxia 2/50 is an uncomplicated but at the same time high-quality standard lens that photographers can keep on their camera continuously, therefore allowing them to react flexibly to a wide range of everyday situations.

Both Loxia lenses have a high speed of f/2, which expands the creative possibilities even more. Two examples are the effective isolation of motifs with a low depth of field or free-handed photography, even with poor lighting conditions.

The Loxia lens range intentionally eschews autofocus. This makes them compact and ideal for travel and street photography. Photographers who work in these fields often do not like to be recognized right away as professionals. The Loxia lenses offer a high resolution across the entire image field and a harmonious bokeh in the background, especially at the maximal aperture opening of f/2. The Loxia family stands out for its superb mechanical quality. The smooth focus operation with a large focus rotation angle of approximately 180 degrees allows for the finest variations in focusing. The filter diameter is a consistent M52 across the entire lens family. The robust barrel is made completely of metal so that it can withstand the rough everyday situations that professional photographers face and ensuring a long product life. In addition, the lenses have a special weather sealing at the lens mount to prevent spray water from getting between the camera and the lens.

The Loxia 2/50 will be available worldwide starting October 2014 and the Loxia 2/35 from the end of the fourth quarter of 2014. The recommended retail price of the Loxia 2/35 will be EUR 965.55* (US$ 1,299.00)* and that of the Loxia 2/50 will be EUR 713.45* (US$ 949.00)*.

For more information, visit www.zeiss.com/photo.

Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon Aperture Series 'Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior' (D800E)

  Nikon D800E
Nikon D800E

The Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon offers an ultra wide angle view with high contrast.

This particular aperture series works well for its slight peripheral forward field curvature, as discussed.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon: 'Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior' (D800E)

Includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white as well as large crops from wide open through ƒ/16.

  Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior Nikon D810 + Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon @ ƒ/8
Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Interior
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 18mm f/3.5 Distagon @ ƒ/8

Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon on Nikon D810: Aperture Series 'Twisted Aspen'

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

The Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon offers imaging qualities that make it especially suitable for environmental portraiture, reportage, etc. It’s a compact gem of a lens. It offers very high overall contrast and a vignetting suitable for many subjects.

The 28/2 Distagon is particularly suitable for environmental portraiture—a subject in its natural environment.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series: Twisted Aspen (D810)

Includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white as well as large crops from wide open through ƒ/16.

  Twisted Aspen Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/16
Twisted Aspen
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/16

Fujifilm X100: Can’t Charge the Battery

Fujifilm X100
Fujifilm X100

I still have the Fujifilm X100 that I bought several years ago. Its good looks don’t go out of style and its images are still excellent (see my 2011 Fujifilm X100 review).

The battery died or so it seemed: it would not charge; the charger light lights up, but after 24 hours, no charging and a battery so dead that licking its contacts (a simple but effective test) hardly provides any electric tingle at all. The camera gets no power whatsoever from the battery.

So I bought a brand-new Fujifilm NP-95 battery back in May, which at first charged up fine. By mid July it too has failed, meaning the same charger problem: the light goes on, but the battery does not charge.

I’ve seen “smart” batteries lose their brains (so to speak), and it could be that alone. The cause being unclear.

So I’m in a quandary: were both batteries bad, is the charger bad, and/or is the camera killing the battery somehow? I hate to go dump more money into a new battery and charger if the camera is damaging the batteries somehow. But it’s a nice camera, and I’d like to see it working again. So I think I’ll just order the $19.95 Watson charger and see if it works.

Perhaps a reader out there has some ideas.

The Fujifilm support page (if you can call it that) consists of some Q&A one can search on—it’s absurd to call this support. I cannot find any place to call or send an email on this question, which is quite frustrating. That ought to be front and center on that page.

Merlin E writes saying Fujifilm tech support is 1-800-800-3854.

Ragna V writes:

I have experienced this twice - first with the charger on my X100, later on with my X100s. Very annoying, especially when I'm travelling. I understand that this is a well known problem with these chargers. My batteries behave ok and work fine in a new charger.

My solution? Never trust a Fuji charger. I bought a Hahnel UniPal Plus charger instead http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm?page=universalchargers&pId=133 It will charge almost anything, and is always with me on my travels as a backup. And it even works on a 12 V power supply in your car or boat.

DIGLLOYD: I ordered that inexpensive $19.95 Watson charger. If it works, good enough.

Cliff L writes:

The problem with batteries failing to charge is not unique to Fuji batteries or chargers - I’ve had the same thing happen with a Canon LP-E6 battery too. I’ve often thought one can never have too many spare batteries, but on one occasion I was unable to revive a nearly new battery that hd sat in a drawer for several months. N ow I keep fewer spares and try to rotate all the batteries through the cameras periodically to keep them functioning properly. I wonder why this doesn’t seem to happen to batteries that sit on store shelves for prolonged periods of time?

DIGLLOYD: All LiIon batteries can degrade steadily over time, and high heat can damage them quickly. But I don’t find the comparison appropriate this this case, it was a steadily/regularly used battery. Nor have I had other brand camera batteries fail in this way, and that’s over 10 years or so, starting with the ~1 megapixel Olympus whatever it was.

Adobe Camera Raw: 'CameraStandard' Camera Profile Produces Horrific Tonal Transitions for D810 NEF

diglloyd image
Avoid 'CameraStandard'
  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

There is a serious flaw in the 'Camera Standard' profile for the Nikon D810 when using Adobe Camera Raw (and presumably Adobe Lightroom also).

In DAP:

Adobe Camera Raw: Harsh Tonal Transitions with 'Camera Standard' Profile

Looks like several days of intensive work are now “redo” candidates, or at least I now have to go reassess to see what stuff has to be redone, time I can ill afford.

It had been nagging at me that something seemed wrong with ACR and the Nikon D810, but tonight the problem showed itself clearly with a particular image.

I don’t know if this issue affects other cameras, but it might, so exercise care in your own images. I also don’t know if it is a profile bug (seems most likely), or some flaw in ACR itself.

Reader Roy P emailed some images from Adobe Lightroom 5.6 (a variety of camera profiles), and the problem is prominent posterization in facial skin. Much worse than what I had observed in my landscape images—unusably awful.

Thanks to the reader who wrote me pointing me at the Adobe’s tech note.

John G writes:

Read your blog post this morning re: image quality problems in LR5.6 (and Adobe ACR 8.6) when using Nikon’s profiles found in the Camera Control section. I, too, noticed these problems. When selecting the Camera Standard, Landscape, Vivid, and Monochrome profiles, Image-killing posterization and stark banding is introduced in the some areas of the photograph.

This is especially evident where there are subtle tonal transitions, such as in the cloud-filled skies, etc. I contacted Adobe, and they indicated that they were aware of the problem and would fix it in the next iteration of LR and ACR. In the interim, they are providing beta profiles for the D810 The new beta profiles can be downloaded here: http://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/camera-standard-profile-displays-posterized.html I have used the beta profiles for the past week now, and can report they fix the problems you are seeing, and improve image quality in other ways as well.

Thanks for doing what do. I read your site everyday. As a professional photographer, by necessity, I do huge amounts of research before purchasing any new piece of gear. Your insights and hard work cut down on the amount of research I have to do, and have made my process of selecting new equipment much more efficient. Thanks again.

DIGLLOYD: Well, I’m glad that Adobe has issues a fix, because I’ve liked the tonal curve of CameraStandard for some images much more than AdobeStandard: more appealing contrast (sometimes too strong though) and with less harsh highlight areas.

Where does one go or proactively watch to find out about critical flaws like this? For example, Adobe’e Tranberry is mum on the topic. Blogs.adobe.com is not helpful, and surely such a damaging issue deserves a front and center warning there. Hours of work destroyed (redo) and I am under tight deadline working 14 hours a day so I am very grumpy about this flaw.

From Adobe:

When you apply the camera profiles in Lightroom 5.6 and Camera Raw 8.6 for the Nikon D810 to your image, some of the areas and colors are posterized.

Camera Raw 8.6 and Lightroom 5.6 introduce raw support for the Nikon D810, including Camera Matching color profiles. Unfortunately, four of these profiles for the Nikon D810 can result in banding artifacts. The affected profiles are:

Camera Standard
Camera Vivid
Camera Landscape
Camera Monochrome

We have identified the cause of this issue and have developed a new complete set of Camera Matching color profiles that fixes the banding issues. Furthermore, the new profiles have slightly improved overall color response and smoother gradations. These profiles are included in the next release of Camera Raw and Lightroom.

In the meantime, we have included a release candidate or beta version of these profiles for users to try.

These beta profiles appear in the user interface (Camera Calibration panel, Profile pop-up menu) as:

Camera Flat v2 beta
Camera Landscape v2 beta
Camera Monochrome v2 beta
Camera Neutral v2 beta
Camera Portrait v2 beta
Camera Standard v2 beta
Camera Vivid v2 beta

diglloyd image
High Sierra Plant
Nikon D810

Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Brilliant

  Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon
Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon
  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon offers high brilliance, luscious color saturation and superb flare control. These are the reasons to select it over all others for this kind of shooting.

In sharpness terms it is a strong as anything, but has its limits and behaviors, and these too are shown and discussed, including here in this aperture series a particularly demonstrative crop showing the point spread function behavior.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Stormy Light (Nikon D810)

Include HD and Ultra HD images and large crops from ƒ/2.8 through ƒ/16 along with both color and black and white images and how converted.

Toggle the image below to see the black and white rendition.

  Sun Peeks Through Thunderclouds Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
Sun Peeks Through Thunderclouds
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/11

Andrew P writes:

I just wanted to thank you for your recent coverage of the 15mm Distagon. I have seven very nice lenses that I regularly use now, but I keep on going back to the 15mm for those special qualities it has. For a while I avoided it because I felt I had to be very close to a subject to get anything useful, but then those photos were always very interesting to look at.

I recently shot a basketball championship with it and then used it for a model shoot a couple weeks ago. For both shoots I also used my Otus, a 35 mm Summilux ASPH, the ZA 135mm 1.8 and a Nikkor 85mm 1.4G, but the best shots were all made with either the 15mm or the Otus.

DIGLLOYD: a 15mm is hard to use well, but used well it sings.

Working Hard on a 'Project'

Labor Day weekend here in the USA generally means beach and grilling or some such thing for many. But for me it means labor day—lots of work, especially this year. Not that I mind—I like what I do, especially the particular project I’m on right now.

Oh, I might grill myself a steak or two (extra lean grass fed beef, quite tasty and far less expensive than the buffalo ribeyes I’d go for but for the price). But I’ve sworn off wine of any color as I press hard to lean-out for my late September cycling race. That’s the discipline part, as I do really enjoy red wine, also having made it a necessary game to figure out what’s a good red for not much green. There are some very good reds at low prices out there (and some not very good reds at low prices and high prices).

Anyway, I am hard at work dawn to dusk on a project that will see the light in less than two weeks. Accordingly, I might “submerge” for a few days at a time, popping up for a few new Nikon D810 pieces, but staying intensely focused on the key project.

Nikon D810: Sensor Cover Glass Quality?

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

Jorn O writes:

I just received 2 new Nikon D810 cameras( August 25, 2014) and sent them to my local repair technician to evaluate. One of the things I always have him check is the sensor and low pass filter for defects, inclusions, and etc. The 2 new D810 cameras were both supposedly corrected for the long exposure/white spot issue.

However, it appears that the low pass filters (or protective glass) on both cameras have a significant number of dark specks of some kind in the surface coating or embedded in the sensor glass. He observed (30 power microscope) 18 of these specks on one sensor and 24 on the other. The size and quantity of these specks indicates to me a significant quality control problem and I am going to return both cameras. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that Nikon’s solution to this problem was to just map out all of the photosites affected by the specks and consider the problem solved.

I have had similar problems with the D3x and D800E sensors – my records indicate returning and replacing 4 new cameras over a 3 year period due to significant inclusions in the low pass filter glass. I guess Nikon doesn’t think anybody is really looking hard at the sensor systems they are putting out.

It is interesting to note that the first D810 I purchased from B&H in July was also inspected and cleaned by my repair technician, and did not have the problem with the specks on the sensor glass even though the serial number indicates that it is on the recall list that Nikon has.

I also have 5 D800E cameras and they do not exhibit the speck on sensor glass issue. I was going to upgrade 3 of them to D810's, but not sure if I will now. With regards to the D3x sensors and imbedded inclusions - I did not keep them so I do not know if they would have had an impact on image quality. However, when you pay 8000.00 for a camera body I think it is reasonable to expect first class quality in a sensor, especially when your technician tells you he does not see this issue on most other vendors cameras that he works on (Canon, Sony, Pentax,etc).

DIGLLOYD: I can’t say much more than “seems concerning”. But given Nikon’s financial performance (~27% drop in sales YOY), could there be cost-cutting or lowered standards going on that might compromise quality? A hunker-down retrenchment rather than moving ahead with innovations like supporting an EVF option on a DSLR?

Taken together though, inclusions in sensor cover glass and white spots requiring a camera recall out of the gate do not speak well to Nikon’s release of the D810. Coming on top of the D600 dust/oil issue, it might shake one’s confidence, if only a little. The D810 is a flagship camera after all.

Still, I doubt that the white spots service advisory has anything to do with the sensor glass 'specks'; the white spots seem to be a hot pixel type long exposure issue (Nikon has been obtuse on the cause of the issue, or why some but not other cameras are affected). Sensor quality is not a fixed thing; sensors come in grades too (number of defects and similar). What grade sensors are used in the D810 (what yield/quality cutoff?). Are camera bodies now like lenses where one has to worry about “good sample” or “bad sample”?

Tom H writes:

I’ve noticed the same problem with my Canons over the years. You can send your camera in for repair and get a new glass that looks just like the one you had. The last time I sent back a body to Canon for this problem i took a shot of the glass surface using a dissecting microscope and included a print with the body. It didn’t make any difference. The new one had fewer pits.

DIGLLOYD: I’m not sure it matters in any case. More than likely any usage over would accumulate more crud by an order of magnitude, even with sensor cleaning.

Nikon D810: Recommended Picture Control Settings for Magnified Live View Focusing

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

I spent some time with various combinations of Nikon Picture Control settings to arrive at what seemed to be the most helpful and decisive sharpness and contrast for accurate magnified Live View focusing.

These Picture Control files are now available for download in my review of the Nikon D810, with instructions for loading them. They load in addition to any existing choices so there is no downside to trying them to see if they help your own workflow.

Recommended Picture Control Settings for Live View Focusing

Picture Control settings ready to load on camera card
Picture Control settings ready to load on camera card

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Various Varying Examples

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

To my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP are added various aperture series intended to show a variety of subject matter and the camera + Pentax 90mm f/2.8 macro rendering style. I find that such series are an excellent way to get a feel for a camera system and lens.

Series includes HD and UltraHD images and large crops. Click each image for its series.

  Aspen with Black Branches Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/2.8
Aspen with Black Branches
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/2.8
  Green Aspen Leaf on Black rock Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/11
Green Aspen Leaf on Black rock
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/11
  Dual Aspen Trunks Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Pine Creek Buildings
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
  White Daisies Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
White Daisies
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
  Mining Cabin Gearbox Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/22
Mining Cabin Gearbox
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/22
  Death Valley Alluvial Fan near Eureka Dunes Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/4
Death Valley Alluvial Fan near Eureka Dunes
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/4
  Dual Aspen Trunks Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Dual Aspen Trunks
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: 'Atlas Permaguard'

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP is a close range still-life study with soft lighting and very pleasing bokeh:

Aperture Series: Atlas Permaguard (645Z)

This aperture series shows a peripheral forward focus shift that might be useful to understand for critical work. Includes HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

  Artifacts of early Miners Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Artifacts of early Miners
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Wet Aspen Trunk

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP:

Aperture Series: Wet Aspen Trunk (645Z)

This aperture series includes HD and UltraHD images and commentary on placement of focus and depth of field.

  Wet Aspen Trunk Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Wet Aspen Trunk
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Thunderstorms over Pine Creek Drainage

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP:

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Thunderstorms (645Z)

A discussion of the field curvature is included and should be read by any Pentax 90/2.8 user as essential working knowledge.

This aperture series includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white from ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/16 along with extensive crops and commentary. The crops are also in UltraHD, as I deemed the larger size useful for context.

  Pine Creek Thunderstorms Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Pine Creek Thunderstorms
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

How to Find Coverage of Lenses, Cameras, Technique, etc

It requires some curation effort (and can miss some things, always consider site search), but the new menu system at top of site pages affords convenient topical access to content throughout the site, whether in the blog, in a diglloyd publication or in the free articles area.

Give it a try, and feedback is welcome.

See also MacPerformanceGuide.com and WindInMyFace.com.

diglloyd image

Zeiss 55/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Thunderstorms over Pine Creek Drainage (Nikon D810)

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

This aperture series includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/11 along with extensive crops and commentary.

The light was changing by the second, and the interplay is beautiful to behold. This frame caught the foreground in sun; others have it shadowed.

In Guide To Zeiss:

Thunderstorms over Pine Creek Drainage (Nikon D810)

A similar scene is coming from the Pentax 645Z; the D810 and Otus compare very favorably as it turns out.

Thunderstorm over Pine Creek Drainage  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Thunderstorm over Pine Creek Drainage
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon


Stephen M writes:

Your B&W conversion of Pine Creek Thunderstorms D810 with 55mm Zeiss Otus is really excellent. Great work! Composition and image processing is excellent! That deserves to be printed at 40 x 60! The image quality is amazing, especially at f/1.4! Wow! No other lens can do that! I purchased an 55mm Otus awhile back and I love that lens!

Many thanks again for your wonderful work with all the reviews and comments on a wide range of cameras and lenses. I always enjoy reading, and learning from your work and reports. Keep up the good work.

DIGLLOYD: I’m sure the images can be presented even better, but this would take some time and effort to do right.

Samuel L writes:

Hope you're doing well and that the earthquake wasn't so bad.

I just wanted to echo the comment of Stephen M. on your blog: the B&W version of ‎your Thunderstorm over Pine Creek Drainage photo with the Nikon D810 and the Zeiss Otus looks fantastic. Wow!

The Wet Aspen Trunk with the Pentax looks great too.

DIGLLOYD: I never even noticed the 6.0 Napa earthquake (I’m 60-80 miles south of there). At any rate, I store my bargain wine the expensive way: in a styrofoam cooler in my garage, must in case of an earthquake.

Both the D810 + Otus and Pentax 645Z + 90/2.8 macro are terrific systems and highly recommended. The choice depends on one’s particulars.

Hardware Failure (fixed): Please advise if any image issues

A hardware device at diglloyd.com failed yesterday, and was replaced around 13:00 PST.

New hardware means potential issues (behavioral), so please advise if there are any unusual and repeatable problems in viewing images, such as images that are missing and show only a thin black line, or similar. Sporadic issues happen and are not of concern (e.g. a web server restart can kill image loading for 5-10 seconds).

The hardware change should affect images only, not html pages.

Sony RX100 Mark III: Better than a DSLR When Gone Fishin'

Trout dinner for two nights from Ellery Lake.

Salmo trutta (brown trout) and Oncorhynchus mykiss (Rainbow). I prefer Salvelinus fontinalis from high mountain streams, but that’s a chore up where I go (very, very hard to catch, and I’m unusually good at it).

Stockers mostly (not my usual fare but I wanted dinner). The large brown and rainbow had an extra year of 'wild' on them and both fought with more vigor and tasted better.

The Sony RX100 Mark III works nicely as for image quality, but like the original is far from its rated megapixels (lens limitations). Very pretty images in most cases though. But Sony made it a little too big and chunky and heavy. I’m sticking with my original Sony RX100: smaller, lighter and still takes great shots.

RX 100 III EVF: I was not clear in my initial comments on the EVF so here is a correction: I had two loaner Sony RX100 Mark III cameras. The first one I had no difficulty adjusting the EVF at all (instantly worked), but I returned it in late July. The 2nd one which I took with me in early August had a “sticky” EVF. With that 2nd one, I could not adjust the EVF to work for my eye. I should have made this clear initially in my comments; the EVF option is a great tool to have available.

Trout Dinner Sony RX100 Mark III
Trout Dinner
Sony RX100 Mark III

As for that “medium format look”, Zeiss Otus has it, wide open at ƒ/1.4.

See also The Medium Format 'Look' in Guide to Zeiss.

Thunderstorm over Pine Creek Drainage  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Thunderstorm over Pine Creek Drainage
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon on Nikon D810 (Lundy Canyon Creekside Yellow Flowers)

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

The Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon offers imaging qualities that make it especially suitable for environmental portraiture, reportage, etc. It’s a compact gem of a lens. It offers very high overall contrast and a vignetting that I like a lot.

I wondered how it would fare on the new Nikon D810, in fact I made a point of shooting a number of the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses on my recent trip (on the D810), to see how they would are.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series: Creekside Yellow Flowers and Dark Rocks, Lundy Creek (D810)

Includes HD and UltraHD images and large crops from wide open through ƒ/16. Two variants (in brightness) of ƒ/2 are shown, as this is an important aperture to understand relative to ƒ/2.8.

  Yellow flower, Lundy Creek Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/2
Yellow flower, Lundy Creek
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/2

Nikon D810: Single-Pass Faux HDR in Adobe Camera Raw

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

It’s fascinating just how good the Nikon D810 is for scenes that would require the hassle of HDR bracketing and post processing (Canon users fall about 2 stops short of the D810 and with a ton more noise in shadows). The Nikon D810 at ISO 64 has a rewarding dynamic range for field shooting.

Faux HDR: Converting High Dynamic Range Images with Adobe Camera Raw

Includes RawDigger histogram, the D810 rear LCD histograms, the ACR conversion settings, the as-shot and as-converted images, and explanation of what was done.

This particular image was the brightest one of a bracketed series: I was sure it was blown out, since the histogram said so. But it is not so, as shown/explained.

This piece is useful for any model camera, so it is under the DAP Workflow area. See also Extracting Shadow Detail with Shadows/Highlights and Curves.

Toggle to compare the as-shot image to the one given a massive adjustment.

  Sun Over Pine Creek Illuminates Field of Sunflowers Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

Nikon D810 vs Pentax 645Z: Visual Impact Out in the Field with a Real Image (Comparison)

I’m working on an interesting comparison between the Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon and the Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 macro on this scene, a challenge in extreme dynamic range (major contrast control used here).

Now published:

Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO vs Pentax 645Z (Pine Creek Sunflowers)

Includes RawDigger histogram and info for both images as well as Adobe Camera Raw Conversion settings for both.

Both are impressive cameras and this comparison cannot be “scientific” due to different aspect ratios and mismatched focal lengths and varying light (second by second), but I deem it interesting and instructive to see how both cameras fare out in the real world in many aspects: depth of field, color and contrast, noise, etc: in short just how does the image feel from both? Because in the end, an image is a sum total visual impact having little to do with measurements or a rating scale. I shot other comparisons also, but this one seems like a good place to start.

  Sun Over Pine Creek Illuminates Field of Sunflowers Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Sun Over Pine Creek Illuminates Field of Sunflowers
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
  Sun Over Pine Creek Illuminates Field of Sunflowers Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 Macro
Sun Over Pine Creek Illuminates Field of Sunflowers
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Nikon D810: Highlight-Weighed Metering Compatibility Issues, Especially with Zeiss ZF.2 Lenses

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

Side-note context: the Nikon D810 also has autofocus compatibility issues with Sigma autofocus lenses, reportedly the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM A and in my personal experience, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro. It’s unclear why an incremental camera update (over the D800/D800E) should have such issues.

While 90% of the time I shoot on full manual, the new Nikon D810 Highlight-weighted metering option sounded promising for fast-changing lighting situations. But this new metering option is not straightforward for anyone using a mix of lenses.

The Nikon D810 downgrades to Center-weighted metering with certain lenses when Highlight-weighted metering is used, even CPU lenses, such as Zeiss ZF.2. Even if the lens supports Matrix metering.

The metering downgrade behavior seems an ill-considered choice on Nikon’s part: Center-weighted hardly ever gives me the right exposure for my shooting. At the least a custom camera setting ought to allow the preferred fallback option: I want the camera to fall back to Matrix metering if Highlight-weighted cannot be used. The last thing I want is for my Zeiss ZF.2 lenses to meter with Center-weighted metering if I happen to have the camera set to Highlight-weighted.

Planning to explore the new metering option, I had shot a variety of comparisons using Matrix metering vs Highlight-weighted metering using Zeiss ZF.2 lenses, which have a CPU chip. These A/B shots now turn out to be useless for that purpose.

Highlight-weighted metering compatibility matrix

It is unclear why the Nikon 45/2.8P and Voigtlander 40/2 Ultra should support Highlight-weighted metering, but Zeiss ZF.2 lenses do not (all have a CPU chip). It could be a licensing issue; an inquiry to Zeiss is open at this time.

It is also unclear why in the age of digital, metering can’t be done properly the right way, at least in Live View, where the camera is fully informed of exactly what is striking the sensor—innovative design lags available capabilities.

Lens type Supports Highlight-weighted metering?
Nikon AF-S YES
Nikon 45/2.8P (older Nikon chipped lens) YES
Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 YES
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM A YES
Zeiss ZF.2 lenses (all) NO, reverts to Center-weighted
Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro NO, reverts to Center-weighted
Nikon AI-S NO, reverts to Center-weighted
Unchipped lens NO, reverts to Center-weighted

A compatible lens supports Matrix or Highlight-weighted metering:

  Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center   Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center
Nikon 45mm f/2.8P: Matrix and Highlight-weighted metering both work on Nikon D810

A chipped (CPU) lens might not support Highlight-weighted metering even if it supports Matrix metering. All Zeiss ZF.2 and Zeiss Otus lenses revert to Center-weighted when Highlight-weighted is chosen.

  Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center   Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center
Zeiss ZF.2 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Highlight-weighted metering unsupported on Nikon D810

The user manual

Page 114 of the Nikon D810 user manual is confusing in its vagueness, at least to me. All Zeiss ZF.2 lenses have a CPU chip that supports matrix metering. The description does not seem to cover the ZF.2 lenses (CPU-chipped manual focus lenses, just like the Voigtlander 40/2 Ultra noted above).

Highlight-weighted: Camera assigns greatest weight to highlights. Use to reduce loss of detail in highlights, for example when photographing spotlit performers on a stage.

...
Center-weighted metering will be used if highlight-weighted metering is selected with non-CPU lenses or if matrix metering is selected with non-CPU lenses for which lens data have not been supplied.

Note that center-weighted metering may also be used if highlight-weighted metering is selected with certain CPU lenses (AI-P NIKKOR lenses and AF lenses that are not of type G, E, or D).

 

Going Over Material, Updates Soon

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

I finished my catch-up work today (always a chore after being gone ~11 days), and now I’m going through my trip material with a lot of stuff to come soon on the Nikon D810 and Pentax 645Z.

Nikon Capture NX-D: DOA

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

I did a previous piece on Nikon Capture NX-D versus ACR. But today, to verify some shooting settings, I wanted to open some D810 NEF files in NX-D. For whatever reason, every NEF file is refused by NX-D now (and on both my desktop and laptop, this is not machine specific). There are no updates and the current version of NX-D is installed. OS X 10.9.4.

  Nikon Capture NX-D: every Nikon D810 file fails
Nikon Capture NX-D: no Nikon D810 file can be opened

Are the Capture NX-D and Sigma Photo Pro software development teams secretly trading notes on worst practices? Given the existentially threatening 26% drop in Nikon revenues, one wonders if the issues are company-wide at every level and type of function. It’s a scary thought. Readers know that I appreciate the Nikon D810 image quality (a new high bar in the industry). But how such basic software flaws can go undetected for weeks is a stunning indictment of quality control practices. And then there is the white spot recall at the outset. Taken as a whole, the picture looks indicative of Something Generally Amiss in Nikon land.

It’s bizarre that NX-D cannot open NEF files, since that is its raison d^etre. I used “Open With” and chose Capture NX-D (this is a workaround and should never be necessary): from the start, Nikon Capture NX-D would not associate NEF files with itself (the system does not recognize that NX-D is for opening NEF files, the file type association is not there). Nikon adds the NX-D icon to the OS X Dock, but one cannot drag a NEF file tot he icon. This is such a basic operation that it’s inconceivable that the program was even tested even once for core operations.

Update: see workaround that I had forgotten, below as per Peter K.

  Nikon Capture NX-D: does not associate with NEF files!
Nikon Capture NX-D: does not associate with NEF files!

Pieter K writes:

I just discovered NXD works…. but only if you use the file browser of NXD… Find the folder in the filebrowser of NXD, select the miniature … open that. it works

But go to the file in the Finder - you cannot open it… this software is not well made.

It works but very sloooow. I do not lijke the interface and I miss something like shadow highlight. The details in ACR are better - colors are different too but ACR gives far too much moiré.

DIGLLOYD: confirmed, the file browser within NX-D works on NEF files. NX-D does have Shadow/Highlight style features also.

Uinstall/reinstall did not fix the problems discussed above. The app is unsigned also.

  Nikon Capture NX-D: application is not signed
Nikon Capture NX-D: application is not signed

The user might want to uninstall the Nikon Message Center crapware: it is installed as an entirely unnecessary background process; updates can be checked for when desired, no need to run this thing all the time—the cleaner the system, the fewer the issues (general principle). Go to Preferences => Users and Groups, then Login Items to delete it from the list, this keeps it from auto launching when logging in.

  Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center
Nikon Capture NX-D: disable auto-launch of Nikon Message Center

Nikon D810 Service Advisory for White Spots During Long Exposures, and 1.2X Crop

Get Nikon D810 at B&H Photo.

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

After the Nikon D600 dust/oil fiasco, this is another black eye for Nikon. But this time the recall/fix is immediate, and that is a far smarter move than the defensive and prolonged pushback with the D600 oil/dust issue.

Nikon has issued a service advisory for the D810:

We have received a few reports from some users of the Nikon D810 digital SLR camera indicating that noise (bright spots) are sometimes noticeable in long exposures, and in some images captured at an Image area setting of 1.2× (30×20).

After looking into the matter, we have determined that some noise (bright spots) may on occasion be noticeable when shooting long exposures, and in images captured at an Image area setting of 1.2× (30×20).

Nikon service centers will service these cameras that have already been purchased as needed free of charge to the customer. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Identifying affected products

To check whether or not your camera is one of those affected by this issue, please click the Affected Product Serial Numbers link below and enter your D810’s serial number as instructed. Your camera’s serial number will be checked against those of affected products. If your camera is one of those affected, you will be forwarded to additional instructions. If your camera is not one of those affected, you may continue using your camera without concern for this issue.

DIGLLOYD: In my testing of the D810 I observed no white spots, so I thought that the camera I am using is fine. But I have always used long exposure noise reduction with the D810 (and all cameras I test). LENR differs in nature from regular noise reduction; LENR is a dark-frame subtraction. Nikon does not speak to LENR or not.

The loaner camera from B&H that I have been using is included in the recall (I entered its serial number). Now I have to decide wether to buy/repair or just get a replacement. I just hope that my trip photos are unaffected. But it’s an issue: I cannot let go the D810 at this critical time for some unspecified turnaround period. And while UPS ground shipping to and from the Los Angeles service center is fast for me, for a working professional that is more remote it is offensively slow (no option offered).

It’s also troublesome that one has to log in to check the serial number: how to know if a camera at a store has the issue or not? The Nikon site is also a shambles; it continually gives me “unspecified error” when I try to access my account settings to correct my email address as well as other errors in various places. I had to reconfigure my mail server to use an old email just to get the *#*$#*$* password reset email required by Nikon due to “system changes”.

Miguel B writes that “Apparently the cameras known not to have the issue, or recalibrated (whatever the solution may be) have a black dot inside the tripod screw.”.

Update: I called Nikon and was told that turnaround time is 7-10 days and that the fix is a firmware update. I was promised a Level III tech support return call (I have various questions about the circumstances under which the issue occurs), but this did not happen.

  Nikon D810 recall for white spot issues
Nikon D810 recall for white spot issues

Understanding the Pentax 645Z Histogram (useful for any brand camera)

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

This is a shot discipline and technical execution article that should be assimilated by anyone shooting raw on any brand camera.

This discussion of post-shot and Play histograms on the Pentax 645Z also incorporates the RawDigger histogram and a discussion of color space and gamut and recommended practices for raw shooters.

Interpreting the 645Z Histogram

While this is a Pentax 645Z image, the discussion is useful for any digital camera. And while it is not a field image (landscape or similar), the genesis for this page was observing histogram variances during field shooting; this histogram variance is discussed and shown for this image, but occurs with all images.

The image shown below is perfectly exposed yet the histogram suggests that the red channel is slightly blown; in fact the green channel is most at risk by about half a stop. The discussion explains the reasons and the fundamental algorithmic flaws in virtually all camera implementations of the histogram (for the raw shooter).

  Rain-streaked Aspen Trunk Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/8
Pentax 645Z histogram

Lawrence B writes:

Thank you for your extremely useful article ‘Interpreting the 645Z Histogram’. I believe this is the first time I have ever seen in print reference to this most disturbing discrepancy between the ‘before and after’ histograms as displayed on most digital cameras.

Though I do not own the Pentax 645Z (I use a Nikon D800E), the differences observed have been most confusing, and though one can always check later (via RawDigger) histograms based on the RAW data, this helps one little when out ‘in the field’.

Unfortunately, you didn’t offer an explanation as to why the post-shot histogram differs from the one shown during live view (the ‘play’ version). Both are regrettably based on the camera’s JPEG settings. Shouldn’t their ‘inaccuracy’ compared to the RAW data based histogram be identical? Why is the live view histogram somewhat less inaccurate than the post-shot histogram?

I don’t understand why the industry has been so reluctant in offering a histogram based on RAW data. Photographers have been requesting such an option for as long as I’ve been shooting digital (probably longer). In any case, I am most appreciative that you tackled this disturbing phenomenon of the differing histograms. The tips you offered are indubitably the best one can do under the given circumstances. Many thanks!

DIGLLOYD: Yes, other cameras exhibit similar behavior.

As with science, an observation must come first, but an observation does not produce an explanation. Saying “I don’t know” is often the reality. It’s on my “why” to-do list.

The 645Z was configured to shoot DNG only (not DNG + JPEG), so it cannot be the result of the embedded (within the DNG) JPEG versus a full size companion JPEG.

That leaves a camera processing algorithm, and only Pentax can say for certainty, but a reader out there might have a credible explanation. My speculation is that the Play variant is based on the JPEG embedded in the DNG (since it is clearly in the color space with which the camera is configured, AdobeRGB), and that the quickie post-shot variant is based somehow on the image processing pipeline as it “flows through” and/or on every other sensor line, or some other efficiency optimization.

See also true raw histogram.

Back from Trip

Back home, unpacking, downloading, etc.

  Shooting the Pentax 645Z near the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine iPhone
Shooting the Pentax 645Z near the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
iPhone

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