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Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH Aperture Series: Dana Glacier, Moraine, Lake

Get Leica S and Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

This far-distance aperture series explores sharpness across the field from f/2 through f/8 on the Leica S Typ 006 using the Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH:

Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH Aperture Series: Dana Glacier, Moraine, Lake (S006)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide) and large crops, all from ƒ/2.8 - ƒ/8.

Dana Glacier, Moraine, Lake
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Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH Aperture Series: Dead Tree Against Granite

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

This aperture series explores sharpnes from f/2 through f/6.8 on the Leica S Typ 006 using the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH:

Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH Aperture Series: Dead Tree Against Granite (S006)

The 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH has some optical limitations that this series shows.

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide) and large crops, all from ƒ/2 - ƒ/8

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

Frogs Croak, then Frogs to Be

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

In late June this particular large pond was deafening with croaking frogs.

A month later, the next generation abounds. These tadpoles are about two inches long, but there are other frog varieties at high altitude that are the size of pinky-finger thumbnail.

High altitude tadpoles in vernal pond
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Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH Aperture Series: Aspen Amid Pines

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

This aperture series explores sharpness, bokeh and control of color aberrations from f/2 through f/8 on the Leica S Typ 006 using the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH:

Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH Aperture Series: Aspen Amid Pines (S006)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide) and large crops, all from ƒ/2 - ƒ/8

Quaking Aspen Among Pines
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Leica S Typ 006: Field Notes

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

Field notes for the Leica S Typ 006, based on four days of intensive shooting.

Leica S Typ 006 Usage and Field Notes

Upper Dana lake in late afternoon. Terminal moraine visible below the Dana ice field / glacier at upper left. The main Dana Lakes are formed by terminal moraines left long ago. In the late 1800's, the Yosemite area had glaciers of more substantial size, like the Lyell Glacier).

Upper Dana Lake
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Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH: MTF Analysis

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

I discuss the MTF for the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at both infinity and close-range focusing distances. The Forest Trees at Dusk aperture series serves as a field check versus the MTF.

MTF Analysis for Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH

MTF for Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH

Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH Aperture Series: Forest Trees at Dusk

Get Leica S and Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

This aperture series explores the performance at distance from f/2 through f/10 on the Leica S Typ 006 using the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH:

Aperture Series: Forest Trees at Dusk (S006)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide) and large crops, all from ƒ/2 - ƒ/10.

Forest Trees at Dusk
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Huge Selection of Drones

Leica Screen Protectors

Leica now offers screen protectors for the M, Q and T series:

Leica Camera proudly introduces Display Protection Foil Sets for the Leica M and the Leica T. The display protection foil set for the Leica Q was announced previously. Each set comes with two protection foils, an optical cleaning cloth and a screen cleaning pad. As the name suggests, these display protection foils offer protection from scratches and dirt that may damage the rear screen. In bright light, the display foil makes it easier to see the contrast and details in images by reducing glare.

KEY BENEFITS & FEATURES
-Provides effective protection against scratches and dirt
-Reduces glare significantly
-Set consists of two protection foils, an optical cleaning cloth and a screen cleaning pad
-Made in Germany

Sometimes press releases can be difficult to understand. So.. translation, courtesy of a reader:

We were too cheap to put gorilla glass, common on every $300 Xiaomi and Huawei smartphone, on our cameras we sell for thousands of dollars.

Further, we were too cheap to include a couple of form-fitting plastic foils for our cameras, so we could sell them as add ons.

These foils will let you see our cheap LCD backs better in bright light by reducing glare, because we were too cheap to put in an ambient light sensor in our cameras that automatically adjusted the LCD brightness and contrast.

DIGLLOYD: and/or to build in an EVF on T and M cameras.

See in the Dark: ISO 4,000,000 with the Canon ME20F-SH

With a full-frame 2.2 megapixel sensor sporting 16 micron pixels and taking Canon EF lenses, it is a very specialized tool. While spooks and sensitive sites will surely love this new camera, capturing images and video in nearly complete darkness is now feasible. The sensor used in the ME20F-SH was announced back in 2013.

The camera requires external recording and is a small box not suitable for general field use. Might the sensor find its way into the ideal format: a mirrorless camera or DSLR? Perhaps not, but that would surely extend the digital shooting envelope in an intriguing way.

CANON’S FIRST ULTRA-HIGH-SENSITIVITY MULTI-PURPOSE CAMERA FEATURES ISO EQUIVALENT OF OVER 4,000,000

MELVILLE N.Y., July 30, 2015 — Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today has introduced the Company’s first multi-purpose camera, the new ME20F-SH, which delivers exceptionally high sensitivity to capture Full HD video with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux1 (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000).

Nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries are just some of the ME20F-SH’s many possible usage applications. With the ability to capture color video in extreme low-light conditions and its simplistic and versatile design, the ME-20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera can be easily incorporated into existing infrastructures and systems to provide high-quality video capture even where subjects might not be seen with the naked eye.

Canon’s new multi-purpose camera employs an enhanced version of the 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video use that was originally developed by the Company in 20132. Its compact, modular body design allows easy custom configurations for diverse usage scenarios. While capturing video in extreme low-light conditions often requires the use of infrared illumination (a technique that only yields video in black and white), the ME20F-SH camera achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of color Full HD video with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination.

Ultra-High-Sensitivity CMOS Sensor Enables Color Video Capture in Extreme Low-Light Conditions

The ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 μm square3, which is more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in select top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras4. Furthermore, the sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry make use of Canon proprietary technologies to achieve both reduced noise and exceptionally high sensitivity on subjects with a minimum illumination of less than 0.0005 lux.

This multi-purpose camera allows users to discern subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as environments lit by artificial illumination or under a moonless night sky. Furthermore, similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography cameras, the ME20F-SH camera includes Canon Log and Wide DR, which make possible a wide dynamic range, delivering high-image-quality video results across a range of illumination environments, from low to brightly lit conditions.

Canon’s Diverse Interchangeable EF Lens Lineup Enables Wide Range of Imaging Possibilities

The new ME20F-SH employs the same EF mount (Cinema Lock type) as Canon’s SLR cameras and Cinema EOS System-series of professional digital cameras, allowing users to make use of the Company’s extensive lineup of interchangeable EF lenses5. By letting users select the ideal lens based on their shooting or application requirements, taking into consideration such factors as angle of view and level of brightness, this multi-purpose camera facilitates a wide spectrum of imaging possibilities.

Supports various standard video-recording interfaces

Employing output-only 3G/HD-SDI and HDMI terminals, Canon’s ME20F-SH camera enables users working on location to output video via a single cable to a variety of peripheral equipment, including external recorders and monitors. Equipped with a φ2.5mm stereo mini-jack and a round 8-pin jack for RS-422, the multipurpose camera is capable of connecting with Canon’s RC-V100 Remote Controller (released in June 2014; sold separately) 6.

By allowing users to operate the camera or change settings from a remote location, the camera facilitates video capture from inaccessible locations as well as fixed-point surveillance. Furthermore, a φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack allows the camera to connect with an external microphone, enabling users working on location to output audio and video signals to connected peripheral equipment.

The Canon ME20F-SH is expected to be available in December 2015 at a suggested retail price of $30,000.

1 Compliant with the specification method for CCTV devices (TTR-4602B) issued by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA). Theoretical value based on the following shooting conditions: color, no light accumulation, f/1.2, 30P, 50 IRE
2 For more information, please refer to the press release announced on March 4, 2013, available on the Canon Global website: http://www.canon.com/news/2013/mar04e.html
3 1 μm (micrometer) equals one millionth of a meter
4 19 μm pixel pitch (361 μm2 surface area) compared to 4.88 μm (23.81 μm2) of Nikon D810, 8.4 μm (70.56 μm2) of Sony Alpha ILCE-A7S, and 6.94 μm (48.16 μm2) of Canon EOS-1D X
5 Details regarding supported EF-series interchangeable lenses are scheduled to be made available in mid-December 2015
6 The RC-V100 requires a firmware update when using the round 8-pin jack for RS-422. Details regarding the firmware are scheduled to be made available in mid-December 2015

Specifications for Canon ME20F-SH
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Medium Format for $3999: Pentax 645D

Get Pentax 645D at B&H Photo.

See my review of the CCD-sensor Pentax 645D and my review of its CMOS-sensor successor, the Pentax 645Z. The lens assessments apply to either or both.

There is something special with the image quality of a medium format CCD sensor. For an excellent sensor at a low price of $3999, the 645D may be your camera. No Live View with CCD of course.

Pumpkin
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Leica S Typ 006: Autofocus Errors

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

I had a horrific time with the autofocus on the Leica S Typ 006, surely the worst performance I have ever experienced with any camera, with a very high error rate often with huge errors. And not just with one camera body or lens, my photo tour client had a brand-new S006 and four brand-new lenses.

Readers of this blog with an S system should read the extensive discussion and see the examples before emailing with “my system works great” comments.

Results are documented at 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 100mm:

Leica S Typ 006: Error-Prone Autofocus Damages Sharpness

I was forced to implement a tedious protocol in the field so as to not have my work destroyed by the S006 autofocus system, whose errors would be laughable if not so infuriatingly destructive to image sharpness. The lenses themselves are excellent, and by dint of careful checks, I was able to make the image series I needed, but at the cost of tedious checks for each series, a huge burden that greatly impaired what I could do. I grew sick of the system, but as I had only 4 days to work with, I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. But any desire for an S system is extirpated. Many series were ruined from the first day (particularly the 100mm and 45mm) and part of the second day , before I had noticed the focus error. Verifying focus is hard to do in the field: the miserable low resolution rear LCD also presents a low quality JPEG when zoomed in, for a sh*tty visual experience. If a system cannot focus properly and one cannot easily verify focus after the shot, what good is the system?

My client’s brand-new system failed in another way: if the camera slept or was powered off, the 24mm f/3.5 SEM would go missing; autofocus would not function at all and the lens aperture would not be recognized. And the camera would hang trying to update the lens firmware. Brand new stuff, very expensive. I expect better from a $40K system, or even a $2K system. The Sony A7R II with its state of the art sensor looks better every day.

The metering on the Leica S Typ 006 is garbage under field conditions. I was constantly forced to use exposure compensation or manual exposure. My client’s camera was observed to produce a 4-5 stop error in some circumstances and I observed gross errors in the ~3 stop range.

The CCD sensor on the S006 is superb.

Lugging an S system up here was a powerful argument for a smaller and lighter system.

Upper Dana Lake
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Hiking down the tricky talus slope got me to this area, seen just right of center near bottom.

Upper Dana Lake
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There is restricted little depth of field even at f/13. The glacial moraines disappear the creek in places, with a slightly eerie feel of an underground river when scrambling up a boulder field.

Disappearing Creek
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Leica S Typ 006: Coverage Soon with 24mm, 35mm, 45mm, 100mm Lenses

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

See my pre-trip notes. I’m back from a 4-day trip to the Sierra with a photo tour client, who was also shooting a Leica S system.

On a side note, yesterday I saw the largest trout I’ve ever seen at high altitude, by a factor of 3X or so. A true lunker for a glacial lake at 11,500'.

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Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)

Get Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set).

Whenever I get a new camera, I turn immediately to Really Right Stuff for a grip or L-bracket or camera plate—top quality work made to fit exactly. These brackets are essential for my work.

So a big hooray that the new L-bracket is out for the Canon 5DS / 5DS R. Hopefully it will arrive via UPS today before I have to depart on my trip (the bracket for the Canon 5D Mark III is what I’ve been using, but it doesn’t fit quite right being slightly off square and with a bit of extra pressure on a small portion of the camera body).

The “L” part is not required and just the base plate portion can be used if desired.

Long a source of minor flex with all L brackets, the new bracket for the 5DS / 5DS R sports a special strap boss anchor (chrome finish part at top of L as show below). This optional (can be removed) part firmly and rigidly anchors the top of the L to the strap boss on the camera body—very sturdy. Nice work, RRS!

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)

There are two positions (bolt holes) that are available. As shown below the alternate bolt hole is used to provide a substantial gap between the L portion and the camera body.

I mount the bracket flush to the left side, using the strap boss anchor as discussed above.

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)
Canon 5DS R IN STOCK!
with 2% reward and free expedited shipping

Sony A7R II: Poor Battery Life? And Can it Charge via USB?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Sony A7R II with 35/1.4 lens

The 42-megapixel Sony A7R II ships with two batteries and an AC charger. Yay!

Sony Alpha a7RII Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)
2 x NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery (1020mAh)
• AC-UUD11 AC Battery Charging Adaptor
• BC-VW1 AC Charger for W Series Battery
• Shoulder Strap
• ALC-B1EM Body Cap for NEX Cameras
• Multi Interface Shoe Cap
• Eyepiece Cup
• Micro-USB Cable
• Limited 1-Year Warranty

But what a minute, why does it ship with two batteries? Perhaps the battery life is very poor, just like with the Sigma dp Quattro series; bowing to reality Sigma includes two batteries, which I applaud.

What I do not recall is whether the battery can be charged in the camera via a USB cable as with the Sony RX100. If so, then the relatively compact 60 watt-hour BatteryBox could be tossed into a daypack for field outings (day or days long) to recharge batteries on the fly. Since the BatteryBox is 60 watt-hours and the Sony battery is only about 7 watt-hours, it would provide about 8 battery recharges for Sony batteries, assuming high efficiency.

Tero N writes:

All A7-series cameras even prior to A7R II can be charged on the go from Micro-USB power pack, but camera needs to be turned off.

A7R II is actually improved in this context; it can run purely from external USB power if there is a non-empty battery inside. A nice addition, I'm gonna velcro a 12000 mAh battery pack to my tripod extra juice for long-exposure stuff. You can find details in the manual that is available for example below.

DIGLLOYD: excellent. With an AC charger (what I really use) plus a USB option (plugs right into the Wagan Tech power inverter or the BatteryBox, charging options are good. The Battery Box can be used in the field and the USB option in the car, freeing up an AC outlet on the inverter.

Eric W writes:

There are also a number of dummy battery cables available for the a7 series. They are usually terminated in the anton-bauer d-tap plug. I use the DionicHC batteries with my a7s and they can run it for 6-8 hours of recording.

I had suggested to someone on a forum that needed to run the camera in extreme cold, to use this cable, paired with an extension cable run up the sleeve to a battery kept in an inside vest or pocket near body heat. The anton bauer batteries are quite large, another option I like is from SWIT:

http://www.swit.cc/productshow.aspx?id=209

It is an 86wh battery with a 14.4v output and a 5v USB output. This would be easier to fit in a pocket or inside a jacket than the larger AB batteries.

DIGLLOYD: nice option.

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Will the Leica Q Kill the Leica M?

Get Leica Q and Leica M at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

That is, if the Sony A7R II has not already killed it.

Shooting the Leica Q is a vastly more enjoyable experience than shooting the Leica M: hugely superior and built-in EVF along with autofocus. I enjoyed the Leica Q in spite of some really nagging operational issues (that could be fixed by Leica in a firmware update if the will is there).

The Q sensor appears to be superior in dynamic range and color rendition to the M240 sensor, and the optical performance compromises of the Q are not likely to be of concern to many shooters (not that M lenses are free of problematic compromises, particular the faster designs, ike wide-open aberrations and field curvature). But for those looking for pin-sharp results to the edges, do look elsewhere than the Q or M; a Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis comes to mind, or perhaps a future Sony RX2R with a 43MP sensor.

The Q is notably smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Leica M240 (about half the price or even less when the M240 + 28mm f/2 Summicron are the pairing). The image quality of the Q has an extraordinary visual impact and in this regard most users will find its images stunning. I want one, but the price is so high and I have so much gear, and I have to look at thing in ROI terms.

What if the Q were available in 4 or 5 focal lengths? What exactly would be the point of the aging M platform? That is, what would be the point to the vast majority of buyers, many of whom are dilettantes and collectors and have little interest or ability to grok the nerd appeal of the M.

So will the Leica Q kill the M platform? Yes if Leica makes other Q models with additional focal lengths and also fails to take the M platform forward.

The M platform clings to multiple handicaps:

Leica M240 with 50/1.4 Summilux
  • It is simply not usable by some users (eyesight).
  • The camera still crashes sometimes, requiring power off to recover, and losing the image.
  • The optional M240 EVF is a toy-grade low-res optional wart atop the camera. Awkward.
  • The M240 rangefinder is an anachronism used by some shooters, but entirely unusable by others (eyesight, framing, etc), and subject to mechanical tolerance errors along with grossly inaccurate frame lines and it is impossible to make a level image with wide angles using the rangefinder or absurdly expensive optical hot-shoe viewfinders.
  • The M240 is larger, heavier and much more expensive. With only a few lenses, it quickly becomes a $20K to $30K system.
  • The Leica Q sensor has superior dynamic range and color over the M sensor, with none of the color shading problems of the M wides.
  • My field experience shows vastly more accurate metering with the the Q. I have to shoot on manual all the time with the M; with the Q I just shoot on aperture priority with minor exp comp adjustments.
  • Leica M lenses simply are not as good as they could be versus a fresh approach to mirrorless. They are chock full of stale film-era compromises that need not be there with fresh designs for mirrorless. I would hold up the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon as a vastly superior lens as compared with Leica’s best (at 1/6 to 1/3 the cost!). Leica could do even better at double or triple the price the Batis.

So where should the M body go?

  • Introduce a smaller and lighter EVF-only ME (“M EVF”), with no rangefinder. This brings the cost down, usability up, size and weight way down.
  • Maintain compatibility with M lenses, but offer all new MA (“M autofocus”) lenses with autofocus and leaf shutters that rock with a built-in flash utilizing the wasted space currently occupied by the rangefinder. These lenses can be new designs optimized for mirrorless and be made larger so as not to require such esoteric optical designs (no more concern in blocking the rangefinder).
  • Raise the resolution and dynamic range of the sensor: 36 megapixels minimum, 14+ bits dynamic range. As they say in Russia, tough shitsky if those vaunted M lenses show their limits even more than they do now at 24 megapixels.

This should all have been done a year ago.

Hail peppers climbers descending Mt Dana, delivering auditory and tactile and olfactory delights while the eyes feast on the sunlit Mt Conness and Saddlebag Lake area.

Mt Dana Hailstorm with view to Mt Conness in sunlight
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Dan M writes:

OK, so you’ve shown us this again. [Mt Dana hailstorm] And now I look at it with a bit more care to the nuance and detail [and enlarged] and realize just how few camera/lens combos could deliver this image.

You don’t notice the quality right up front because of the extreme circumstance of the shot. But there is depth, excellent detail and proper color everywhere in a situation where most gear would produce a sack of mush.

DIGLLOYD: yes, the lens on the Q has its quality limits at the periphery, but as I've said in my review of the Leica Q, what I term the “visual impact” is superb. This comes from high contrast for coarse and fine structures (high MTF) and strict control of aberrations. The only negative is the loss of peripheral sharpness from the severe distortion, which must stretch pixels to make the image, starting with an effective captured area of only about 22 megapixels.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Leica S Typ 006: Shooting it Next Trip with 24mm, 35mm, 45mm, 100mm Lenses

Leica S2 (old model)

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

Shooting the Leica S system to review it has been an issue, mainly because of cost.

But a friend has generously loaned me his Leica S Typ 006 and the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH and the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH (the same friend who loaned me gear for my review of the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH).

Also, B&H is loaning me the 35mm f/2.5 Summarit-S ASPH and the 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH. So I’ll have the 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 100mm Leica S lenses to shoot (equivalent to 19mm, 28mm, 36mm, 80mm in 35mm full frame field of view terms). I would have liked to also have the 30mm, but if interest is proven (new subscriptions), then I will invest additional effort in the 30mm, 70mm, and 120mm focal lengths.

Personally I find this an interesting project for context and relevance of medium format, particularly in light of the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS R with Zeiss Otus, as well as the Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis. But this is a business, and my bills don’t pay themselves! I have to respond to customer demand as the primary driver of my schedule, and the Leica S market is very small. So this effort and the response to the coverage are a trial balloon, possibly a waste of 4 days in revenue terms and my time, but at the least I’ll gain a solid perspective on the S system and its lenses, and a wide-ranging perspective always feeds back into all my work. And I have just enough time to do it before the Sony A7R II work onslaught arrives (there are many more customers for the A7R II than Leica S).

I’ll be shooting the S system in the Yosemite area for four days. My goal is to gather enough material to provide a detailed look at each of those lenses on the Leica S Typ 006 (which is equivalent in imaging to the Leica S-E).

The 'glass' matters but so does the sensor, and the Leica S CCD sensor is gorgeous. So even though the Leica S system is stuck (permanently it seems) at 36 megapixels, it is the total combination of resolution and pixel quality that together make the visual impact.

Pescadero Creek
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Canon 11-24mm f/4L Examples: Mt Conness Watershed (Canon 5DS R)

Canon 11-24mm f/4L

Get the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Extending my review of both the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM and the Canon 5DS R are these additional pages:

Examples: Mt Conness Watershed (5DS R)

Examples: Beautiful Boulder at Four Focal Lengths (5DS R)

Color Fringing, Uncorrected and Corrected, Optical Misalignment? (5DS R)

Conclusions on 11-24mm f/4L

Presented with HD and UltraHD images up to 24 megapixels. most images with crops and some with both color and black and white versions, since the Canon 5DS R makes an excellent monochrome camera.

These examples are an excellent way to understand the real-world performance of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L as well as the Canon 5DS R.

At about $2999, the Canon 11-24mm f/4L is hardly inexpensive, but given the unprecedented range and image quality, it’s a winner.

Contemplation
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Beautiful Boulder, Clearing Storm
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FOR SALE: Leica M Lenses, Canon gear

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

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

Leica M

I’m looking to pick up an S system. Something has to go. These prices firm.

  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH $2700
  • Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH (black) $6900
  • Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH (black) $2600
  • Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH $6200 (price reflects little desire to really sell it!)

Canon

  • Canon 5D Mark III $1650 in original box, etc with Really Right Stuff L bracket. Excellent condition, low shutter actuations, original box charger, etc.
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $750
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $910
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $650
Huge Selection of Drones

Zeiss Batis Lenses Have Shipped (a few days ago)

Get Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

According to Zeiss USA, “First dealer deliveries were made last week, on time”.

As I predicted, the initial shipment was absorbed by pre-orders, and and so the Batii are still on pre-order status at B&H—first shipment all spoken for. I expect the Zeiss Batis lenses to be in high demand and relatively hard to get for some time (like Zeiss Loxia).

With the new Sony A7R II (expected around Aug 6), it is my intention to test mainly with the Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses (if I can get them), because they offer outstanding performance that will show the sensor off nicely. See my existing review of Zeiss Batis and review of Zeiss Loxia.

Retina MacBook Pro 13-inch $500 off
3.0 GHz, 8GB memory, 512GB flash drive

Photoshop CC 2014 Now Gets the CC 2015 Bugs

I recently reported that a slew of new bugs had appeared in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

Now with the very recent update to CC 2014, Adobe has added at least some of those bugs into CC 2014.

Beware: the bugs involve the GPU, a notoriously unstable area. CC 2014 and CC 2015 have been crashing on me at 5X the rate of the previous versions. Adobe has been replacing proven non-GPU code with GPU code, and apparently replacing optimized non-GPU code with turtle-slow code. So you now get an unstable application, or turtle slow operation if the GPU is disabled (I have disabled the GPU for years due to instability).

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Bristlecone on Bare Hill, Checking for Lens Symmetry (Canon 5DS R)

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

The lighting was harsh, and I have many more attractive scenes, but the subject matter here is perfect for seeing just how demanding a 50 megapixel sensor can be.

But mainly the subject was chosen to assess performance both in terms of how much stopping down is required for good quality, how much depth of field it delivers (real depth of field), and whether the lens shows symmetry of sharpness across the frame.

In DAP:

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Bristlecone on Bare Hill, Checking for Lens Symmetry (Canon 5DS R)

Just how good the Zeiss Otus line is and how the Sigma Art lenses are not in the same league is plain to my eyes. Shooting a DSLR? Otus or bust. Sort of a good, better, best thing (Nikon/Canon, Sigma Art, Otus).

The track of a motorcyle mars a very sensitive environment at about 11,500' elevation. Such thoughtless damage keeps increasing in this pristine area, which now has Wilderness designation.

Lonely Bristlecone at about 11,500' elevation
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Power On the Road: Power Inverter for Everything, MagSafe Charging for Apple Laptops

Back in June: OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

Here’s a followup on several products I’ve tried.

Pawtec Macbook High-Speed Car Charger

Pawtec car charger for Magsafe

The idea is that direct DC to DC current should be more efficient than a power inverter that converts DC to AC, that is, a 12V DC power inverter to AC to Apple power brick. Maybe.

I was initially thrilled with the Pawtek adapter, as it powered my late 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina with no fuss keeping it nicely at 100% charge.

Pawtec Macbook High-Speed Car Charger - Compatible MagSafe 2 for Apple Macbook / Air / Retina Mid-2012 - Present

But when the battery charge was about 75% and I then plugged the laptop into the Pawtec, the Pawtec adapter started making high pitched screeching noises, and the adapter plug became too hot to touch. Things that get too hot to touch worry me. I unplugged it and let it cool. Perhaps it’s normal or perhaps it’s risky—I don’t know but I’d say that the Pawtec is good for steady usage but caution is advised for charging a depleted battery. The MBP Retina power brick is a 90W unit, so maybe that’s too much for the Pawtec.

Battery box

So far this BatteryBox unit has worked great. The BatteryBox unit is 60Wh; a MacBook Pro Retina has a ~100 Wh internal battery, so 60 Wh is in theory about a 60% gain in battery time.

Tests at home under maximum load (all CPUs busy via MemoryTester) with the BatteryBox connected kept the MBP at 100% charge for about 35 minutes. Since normal usage uses far less power, I’d estimate that the BatteryBox will yield a runtime extension commensurate with its watt hours in relation to the built-in battery (3 hours is about all I get out of the MBP using Photoshop and such, so maybe I'd get 5 hours, total). Further field testing will prove this out. Its a nicely made unit and I’ve suggested to the manufacturer to offer a double or triple size battery. But of course it’s possible to carry more than one battery.

The BatteryBox also charges a USB device via its USB port, but a pending firmware update is needed for full compatibility (some of my devices would charge, some would not).

One limitation is that the BatteryBox takes USB charging via an AC wall-wart, so back to the same old power inverter for recharging (no direct DC charging).

BatteryBox with MagSafe compatible connector

Wagan Tech 200W pure sine-wave power inverter

This is now my meat and potatoes power source for when I’m traveling in my vehicle in the mountains; it charges up everything.

I replaced an older and cheaper square wave inverter with a Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter. The older unit did not seem efficient; it became relatively hot and ran its fan a lot. It cost a lot less, and I guess you get what you pay for.

Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter

But the Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter runs much cooler and with less fan noise and no fuss. Its pure sine wave AC output is more efficient for devices and hence the cooler operation (lower power draw on the unit itself, which is claimed to itself be 90% efficient).

I charged 3 camera batteries at once as well as the iPhone via USB, and it powers the MacBook Pro with no fuss at all. 200W is plenty for all that stuff, even simultaneously.

The Wagan EL2601 Elite 400W and 1000W Pro Pure Sine Inverter alternatives may be of use to some, but 200W will already blow a vehicle fuse in many vehicles (12V X 16.7 amps ~= 200W, my vehicle is fused at 20 amps but some are fused at 15 amps). The 400W or 1000W units can deliver a lot more power, but only if connected directly to a suitable battery directly with the alligator clamps (not the cigarette lighter socket).

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Leica S at Deep Discounts

Step up to medium format at a deeply discounted price? Were I shooting medium format, it is the S system that I would choose, for the lens quality is unmatched by any other medium format system. The Leica S sensor is gorgeous, and I happen to like the 70mm f/2.5 lens quite a lot, though my #1 lens pick (for my own reasons) would be the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH.

I’ve learned that B&H Photo can price match some deals. Call B&H Photo at (800) 947-6628 for a price match. Most important, I trust B&H to honor their prices. Please let me know of success (or not) in getting a price match.

Leica Store San Francisco has a $9199 price for the Leica S-E + 70mm lens. That’s a screaming deal for an S-system. B&H tells me they can price match the $9199 price. B&H will NOT price match on products that are not in stock.

Update 21 July: prices went back up radically. The deal was there for a few days.

Other price examples

Price links below are at Leica Store Miami. Please note that I am NOT recommending Leica Store Miami, as I have never done business with them*.

Leica S-E (Typ 006) (1 year warranty)
Leica S-E (Typ 006) / 70mm Lens Set
Leica S (Typ 006) (includes Leica Protection Plan Body, 3 years is my understanding)

* It looks to me like Leica Store Miami is breaking its MAP agreement.

Canon 5DS R IN STOCK!
with 2% reward and free expedited shipping

'Found' Cases for Gear

Get Sigma DP Merrill and Olympus OM-D at B&H Photo.

I use Lupine lights for my cycling and headband and similar needs (highly recommended).

It turns out that the Lupine transport case from the Lupine Betty lighting system is a handy thing for small camera systems. Zippered and with a carrying handle and small pouch (not shown below), it fits the bill nicely.

Three Sigma DP Merrill cameras in Lupine zippered case
Olumpus E-M1 and lenses in Lupine zippered case

 

Leica Q: Really not a 24MP Camera and not a 28mm Lens (in effect)

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Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, I’ve extended my analysis of the extreme optical distortion of the Leica Q, and the corresponding distortion correction required to correct it.

  • The Leica Q is a 22.4 megapixel camera (approx) in terms of recorded usable pixels.
  • The degradation of peripheral sharpness by distortion correction piles on further losses: I deem the Leica Q a ~20 megapixel camera in terms of peak available sharpness (better if one does not care about the periphery).*
  • The equivalent horizontal field of view is 29.7mm, assuming the 28mm f/1.7 is a 28.0mm lens. Which it might not be; it might be a 27mm or similar (or might not be). An infinity focus scene has to be shot to determine its relative field of view compared to say, a Leica 28/2 Summicron.

Leica Q: Extreme Distortion Degrades Periphery, Reduces True Resolution, Decreases Field of View

As a counterpoint that speaks to the wonderful visual impact and dynamic range:

Examples: Climbing Mt Dana

I like the Leica Q very much as per the above examples. With a few firmware fixes for really thoughtless design decisions, I’d love to have one were the price more palatable (no ROI for me for starters and I use tons of gear constantly, can’t just buy stuff to have on hand).

I also discuss Leica Q Recording Format (DNG and JPEG).

What I regret seeing in the Q (as much as I like its imagery overall) are the self-timer behavior and timing limits, the AF cross coupling bug (presumably to be fixed), the lack of a grip, huge files (no lossless compression), a useless video button (non programmable) and certain other limitations and restrictions that have no rational justification (all fixable in firmware if Leica had the will to do so). All these things come to bear in using the Q at various times and only one’s own use can weigh the balance as relevant or not. For an oddball but real-world example, risk of injury traversing icy rocks back and forth because the damn self timer resets every shot (and takes only 1 shot). Or the much more mundane usage of shooting on a tripod with more than one shot.

* One might argue that the idea of realizable megapixel detail applies to lens performance in general, but I deem that a non-issue with the Zeiss Batis lenses to be used on the 42MP Sony A7R II. Or at least that is my expectation, and 42MP is going to record a ton more detail in any case, with less aliasing as well.

Massive optical disortion with Leica Q, uncorrected
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Left/Right Zone of Focus Skew: Not Always the Lens, the Sensor and Lens Mount Might not be Plane-Parallel

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Canon 5DS R

See Case Study: Severe Lens Skew (D800E, Samyang 14mm f/2.8) for an example of clear-cut lens skew on a known-good camera body.

Symmetry issues are an issue at all price levels; see Asymmetry with Leica 180mm f/3.5 APO-Elmar-S.

See Updates at bottom: I shot a lot of material on my recent trip using the Canon 5DS R with the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

The Canon 11-24mm f/4L (about $2999) is a must-have lens for the Canon shooter. It’s so much fun in the field! The 11-14mm range is a wonderfully useful extension versus the more limited range of the 14-24mm Nikkor. The 11-24mm shows its limits on the 5DS R, but short of Zeiss Otus, virtually all lenses show obvious limits, and even the Otii can be nitpicked more easily.

The Sigma DG HSM Art lenses are absolutely not in the same league as Zeiss Otus. Camera skew or not, they need a lot of stopping down at 50MP to get to quality that the Otii deliver wide open. Still, they are much better than the Nikon or Canon equivalents and are a superb value.

About 10 days ago, I sent in my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II to be adjusted because I was seeing a skew in focus: left side focused to the distance, right side to the foreground (this was from back in mid June). Canon returned the lens as “performing to specifications”.

The “performing to specifications” response caused a sinking feeling in my gut, so I just finished examining many images from the lenses mentioned above, all shot on the same Canon 5DS R on my recent trip.

All of the lenses are consistent: while not always obvious, any shot at distance shows a clear bias of focus to the distance on the left side, and focus to the foreground on the right side. In other words, I either have four bad lenses, or a misaligned camera body. That is to say that the lens mount is not plane parallel to the sensor.

That said, the Canon 11-24mm f/4L is much more subtle; wide open the periphery is not fully sharp, and there is significant depth of field at f/4 so it’s harder to see without the right scene. In most cases one can be forgiven for thinking there is no issue and with near/far scenes shot at any kind of angle and with closer focus (not infinity), most of my work looks perfectly fine, so I have a sense of relief there. Examining the f/1.4 Sigma lenses, the issue is more prominent (much wider apertures). And lens design can influence performance too (amount of telecentricity). Finally, closer focus reduces the issue; it is the highly sensitive infinity focus that is “touchy”. A suitable grassy or rock slope with distant focus is where the issue rears its head most obviously (50 feet out and farther for focus).

Given the evidence (consistency among four lenses), I think it’s fair to say that error is in the camera body. Which aside from damaging a great deal of field work, puts me in a bind as within 12 hours I have to head to an cycling event in the Sierra, and I was planning on shooting the 5DS R before and after. Now my shooting plans are in chaos, so I may just shoot Nikon and Otus and a few other things while I await a replacement 5DS R. I do have the new Sigma dp0 Quattro coming, though the thought of using Sigma Photo Pro to process more than a few images makes my stomach churn.

I intend to document the sensor/mount skew by example, as I think this is something everyone should be aware of when buying ultra high resolution digital cameras. Perfect symmetry is hard to come by, but at 22-24 MP, a slight skew was harder to detect. At 50 megapixels, the tolerances are now problematic and anything and everythings shows up, and a slight error in lens added to an error in the camera can add up and combine badly. But in this case it appears to be just the camera at fault.

Update

I shot the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in my backyard on a house and deck scene at about 80 feet distanct. I cannot detect any skew with the Otus 55/1.4, even wide open.

Then I shot the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II on the same scene as the Otus 55/1.4, at 24mm and 28mm. It looks just like the bad results prior to Canon service: the left side shows reasonably good definition and the right side shows a strongly blurred area that hardly improves from f/2.8 to f/5.6. Camera or lens? It sure looks like the lens to me, and yet Canon service stated it is “performing to expectations”. And then those Sigma Art lenses aren’t symmetric either.

Next I tested the Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon. I could not detect any lens skew. With these mixed results, I am forced to say I don’t really know for sure what is wrong. It could be a combination of factors. The right way to do this is to have at least two identical camera bodies and lenses and hold one variable constant. But dual 5DS R bodies are hard to come by.

Finally I tested the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. It shows a very mild right-side focus bias to the foreground, as seen in the field at greater distance (closer range may be harder to see and lens focusing can change things). It’s not a big skew just as I found in the field, but it is visible.

This is a hard one: I’ve dealt with skew issues for years, seeing it fairly often with various gear (see Sony 35/1.4 and Tamron 15-35 most recently), but this one has me tearing my hair out. Maybe it’s just bad odds on the lenses PLUS minor tolerance differences that happen to affect the 24-70, 24/1.4 and 50/1.4 lenses. Except for the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II (“peforming to specifications”), I would characterize the skew as mild. Moreoever it’s hard to detect at closer range (examining other field images). It appears to me that focus distance is involved, infinity focus being the most demanding and least forgiving of even the slightest issue, but also the lens design (perhaps the degree of telecentricity).

I once tested four Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagons on a Nikon DSLR; each was different but in the end the camera body proved to be the culprit (Nikon found it off slightly and it was perfect when it came back as many subsequent shoots proved out). Those 21/2.8 Distagons were sent back to Zeiss and were all MTF tested at the factory after my shoot, and only one was out of tolerance and not by much. A small error in the camera alignment can combine with a small error in the lens to make things additively worse or slightly better. Moreover things can change with focusing distance as elements change position and orientation internally.

Update 2

Up in the Sierra Nevada today Jun 17, I shot the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon on the side of an old building. No skew.

The Otii are held to very tight tolerances, best in the industry IMO. I’m wondering if the camera is fine or just a tiny bit off and what I’m seeing is tolerances (“performing to specifications”) on multiple lenses: maybe “in spec” has not changed much since the days of 12-24 megapixel cameras, yet we are now at 50MP. It might even be the case that the manufacturing process for many lenses cannot be reliably implemented to the tolerances needed for 50MP.

Update 3

Further examination of images from various lenses leads me to conclude that the camera is not likely to be at fault. I’d love to have a 2nd camera body, but the 5DS R remains in short supply. But in a week or so I’ll send it to Canon, and Canon has the sophisticated gear to test sensor/flange parallelism.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Leica Q: Climbing Mt Dana from Sun to Hail to Rain to Sun Again

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Leica Q

I had frustrations with the autofocus being disabled with the leveling view and thus the variety and hit rate of my images was reduced, but nothing beats assessing the end results with real-world shooting on a mission for which the Leica Q was designed: a highly portable full-frame camera with excellent dynamic range and superb color rendition suitable for any kind of documentary photography, as well as rapidly changing lighting. The superb metering (aperture priority) and high-grade EVF and fast response time are strong qualities that I enjoyed.

This series of images documents a climb up Mt Dana in Yosemite National Park on a truly exceptional July day that went from sun to dark clouds to hail to rain and fog and back to sun. An incredible treat!

Leica Q Examples: Climbing Mt Dana

I climbed the peak with my daughter (her first real climb), and many of the images include her. The experience reminded me that including a human being in a landscape photo often makes a more interesting image, lending scale and perspective. This I already knew of course, but over the years I had semi-forgotten it—I almost always hike alone in wild places, getting the job done when it needs to be done.

Self-timer and autofocus behaviors aside, the Leica Q succeeds at what I perceive to be its core mission of offering high quality imagery in a very compact package, the main weak point being sharpness at the periphery due to the extreme optical distortion that requires correction, which degrades the fine details. But it is the overall visual impact that makes the end result so attractive. Now if only Leica would improve the experience by fixing a few annoying behaviors that frustrate ease of use—get the camera out of the way, don’t make it a roadblock.

I would like a Leica Q, but they aren’t exactly giving them away. My curiosity is piqued for the Sony A7R II. I know the A7R II will have its own annoying issues, and how that balances out against the Q remains to be seen. But of course the A7R II has interchangeable lenses including the superlative Zeiss Batis line.

View towards Mono Lake from north ridge of Mt Dana
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Hail peppers climbers descending Mt Dana, delivering auditory and tactile and olfactory delights while the eyes feast on the sunlit Mt Conness and Saddlebag Lake area.

Mt Dana Hailstorm with view to Mt Conness in sunlight
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UPDATE: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts CONFIRMED by Leica, to be fixed with firmware update

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I reported Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts about 6 weeks ago. Leica contacted me about the issue, and I provided a DNG to Leica, one of many with the spots. Today I received a brief note from Leica as follows:

We have found the root cause and plan to make a firmware update that avoids this effect.

It seems that all images I shot with the flaw are permanently damaged with these dots. Meanwhile, everyone with a Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 presumably will be recording images with spots. But whether the flaw exists in every MM246—this I do not know and Leica has not so indicated. Every vendor can deliver a camera with flaws, and I am pleased that Leica will be fixing the issue—that’s the key thing—a fix. But it is immaterial to me as I do not own or plan to purchase the Leica M Monochrom 246 (cannot be justified on an ROI basis).

How is it that I detected the black spot issue with my very first evaluation shoot and no one else noticed it? While I have an odd “Bermuda Triangle” effect on camera and computer gear, the fact that no one noticed the issue prior to shipping the MM246 raises some questions about quality control and testing. Leica has never asked me to test their cameras and that’s just fine, but my suggestion to Leica is to develop relationships with testers competent to evaluate image quality before releasing a camera or lens. I was also the first to blow the whistle on the severe flare issues with the 50mm f/2 APO (my findings were rejected by at least one expert unable to use his own eyes, but later that year Leica stopped production to fix “4 minor issues” with the design, and it is much improved now as the issues were far from minor). Leica never acknowledged my reporting on that issue, so I am glad that Leica took the initiative in contacting me about this black spots issue.

Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (actual pixels)
Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (200% of actual pixels)
Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Leica Q: Autofocus Fails Permanently (well, actually a weird cross-coupling of AF to info display)

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Leica Q

Update 14 July: upon returning home, I discovered that AF is working, but with a confusing twist that precluded me from using autofocus while out in the field. Details further below.

Today I climbed Mt Dana with my daughter. It was an important day to me, this being our first summit climb together, ever. I took the Leica Q for its relatively compact size and light weight.

But the Leica Q (with about 40 frames on it from new) failed. Its AF system went AWOL and power cycling the camera and pulling the battery numerous times did nothing to restore AF functionality. I was left with a brand-new $4250 camera that could not autofocus.

While readers know that I often use manual focus, this is not so easy with dark sunglasses and varying light conditions and a moving subject (and balancing on rocks). So the Q failed miserably to deliver what I needed this day.

Fortunately, knowing that every Leica camera has failed me more than once (S and M and now Q), I was not a complete idiot. I took along the superlative and far, far less expensive Ricoh GR, which performed admirably and with a built-in flash for flash fill to boot. I still shot the Q with manual focus for some things, but it lost me some shots due to the delay and subject movement.

I did use the Q for the summit shot on a mini tripod, pre-focusing manually. The Q endeared itself by forcing me to re-enable the self-timer for every shot, shuttling back and forth over slippery icy rocks. The lack of insight into real photography at Leica is appalling: this situation is hardly uncommon (group shots on a tripod or similar). The other annoying behavior is getting 4 or 5 frames instead of 1 frame by going from S to C when turning the camera on (in the real world, I'm hiking, have gloves on, etc). And its propensity to drain 1/4 of its battery overnight. Look, if you’re a street shooter walking out of your hotel or whatever and then back to a dinner and coffee, maybe the Q works for you. Out on the trail, this stuff gets frustrating, fast.

UPDATE 14 July

Back home, I could not get the camera to autofocus with any conventional setting (spot focus, face detect, etc). But then I noticed that touch focus works. And then that the rear button performs AF. But not the shutter release.

Finally I realized that toggling through the info settings (center button on 4 way dial) has 2 of 3 display modes that disable autofocus with the shutter release. One of those modes has the horz/vert level display. Since I shoot almost exclusivley with the screen with the leveling function enabled, and this is one of the three AF-disabled views, the camera would never autofocus! I never considered the idea that the info display on the rear LCD would also mysteriously coupled in a way that enables or disables autofocus.

Apparently this is as-designed and can be classified as RTFM (which I did, but somehow if this is described, I missed it). There is a setting Zoom/Lock-Button which I had set to AFL. But it is not AF-lock, it is AF disableforever, even after camera power offs or the battery removed (unlike the self timer which unsets itself at every shot!). Adding to the confusion, this center button toggles the rear LCD 3 ways, while simultaneously locking or unlocking the chosen function. This coupling of display info to a locking function is a bizarre design choice that baffles me. What does locking focus or exposure have to do with toggling the rear display info?

The solution seems to be to set Zoom/Lock-Button = Digital Zoom, which seems to have no ill effects and to allow AF with the leveling functionl. This makes no sense at all to me, but it works.

UPDATE 15 July

Leica contacted me to say this:

The info setting button on the backside of the camera should not deactivate the AF in any setting. It is just a switch between video rec info, still info and clear display.

As the behavior of your camera sounds strange we would suggest to return to camera to the Leica service for deeper evaluation.

DIGLLOYD: the behavior is consistent: when Zoom/Lock-Button = AFL, pressing the button inside the 4-way controller* toggles the info screens and disables AF in the two non-video modes. When Zoom/Lock-Button = AEL /AFL is used, the AF system operates as expected via the shutter release.

* The Set button labeled #31 in schematic in the manual, the 4-way controller being the Direction Pad.

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Reader Inquiry: Sigma DG HSM Art Lenses on Canon 5DS R

Get Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma DG 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

David M writes:

Any plans of testing the Sigma Art series lenses namely, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art on the Canon 5DS R?

I have purchased these three (price driven,unfortunately) based on your positive field testing with them. Am wondering how they will stand up to a sensor in the 40-50 mpixel in anticipation of Nikons next high res. DSLR.

Thank you for your detailed "in field,real world" testing and recommendations. Its the only site worth taking notice of. Appreciate your hard work.

DIGLLOYD: I just literally put the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art in my photo backpack for departure tomorrow for several days of field work in Yosemite. With rain in the Sierra, most forest fires are almost dead out, so the air and conditions should be ideal, unlike my late June trip, where I was smoked home.

I am a big fan of the outstanding value offered by the Sigma Art line, including the superb lens case shipped with the Sigma Art lenses, which makes a laughingstock of the cheapo Canon and Nikon soft pouches. Superb because the Sigma case protect the lenses and pack well. I like them enough that I really wish Zeiss would do something similar as I always need to jam a bunch of stuff into my North Face Recon daypack and that means some kind of protective case (jostling issues and similar). So the Zeiss lenses go into neoprene style pouches, a bit more compact and a bit tight with some. I end up preferring the Sigma cases. Nor does Sigma skimp on lens hoods—included with all the Art lenses.

I am also revisiting the Canon 8-15mm f/4L and the Canon 11-24mm f/4L zooms. These lenses are excellent but I want to see their limits on the Canon 5DS R. The 24-70mm f/2.8L II is very good too but my sample is decentered and is at Canon for adjustment.

I’ll take the Leica Q along as a hiking camera (and the much more useful Ricoh GR with its built-in flash for happy snaps), to see if I can un-bore myself with it while climbing some peaks. I wanted a corner to corner whacko-sharp lens, but the 28/1.7 Summilux on it lens is a disappointment, not to mention closer in speed to a Summicron than a Summilux, cheating on the Summilux moniker in both speed and performance.

Reader Experience and Concerns: Sony Service and Reliability

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Another horror story about Sony’s idea of customer service. See the May blog post with other Sony horror stories.

K S writes:

I’m writing to you about a current experience with Sony and Precision Camera. I contacted the former due to failed parts on my camera. Unlike other users who’ve had to pay out of pockets, my protection plan was a wise decision (I never really cared to test how these camera and lens manufacturers define as ‘weather sealing’). After having sent in my body (Sony A99) on the 17th of June to PC, I had to pull teeth to get answers from people. Documents I sent and authorizations for repair were ignored/went unheeded for up to 3 days. I expected to have it completed by the 4th of July weekend, but the lady on the phone suggested I borrow someone’s camera after leaving me a voice mail saying it’ll probably be done by the 4th of July.

What’s worse is that I had a customer service rep hang up on me today after telling me that they had to have Sony manufacture spare parts for them and ship them from overseas to complete my repair (I think that any competent manufacturer keeps parts around for repairs when their cameras are still serviceable). Her estimated date of arrival for the parts is July 24th before the repair process starts. Total time from receiving equipment to starting repairs? Upwards of 30 days. Repairs are another 5-10 business days and there’s no overnight or two-day shipping.

I’m not someone who makes a full time living off my camera body so I’m not a top tier customer, but contracting repairs out to a group (who I think) look worse than amateurs makes no sense. Innovate on the products, but keep the support pipelines fed and active. I think Sony might not be able to keep up its momentum if it ignores the support infrastructure. The latest update after a 20 minute call with Sony support about half an hour ago is that they’ll escalate the issue and have customer relations reach out to me in 24-48 hours.

As much as I love your coverage of, and dislike hearing the precise and accurate criticism of Sony, for the A7 line and beyond, I think Sony is setting itself up for failure. Innovation paired with adequate support might be their only way out and I hope you continue your honest coverage to bring some perspective into how Sony is neglecting to do what it should to keep itself relevant and active. Take care.

DIGLLOYD: What a noxious approach by Sony. Every customer deserves good service, but ultimately every customer can vote with the wallet: support those companies that deliver a product, not just a gadget in a box.

This sort of stuff makes me unhappy about supporting Sony (buying Sony products), a point I made back in December in On Sony; nothing has changed. But while I don’t really want to buy any Sony products given Sony’s behavior (including a very unpleasant experience back when I was reporting on Sony A7R shutter vibration), I am going to buy the Sony A7R II because it is very popular and covering such things is my business. And, as long the camera works properly, it looks to be a fine camera (albeit with the various flaws I’ve pointed out more than a few times). But I dread having to get it serviced.

Recently, I sent a Canon lens in for adjustment. I got prompt and courteous professional treatment, and while my unusual position in the industry may have made it go faster, I’ve generally heard very positive things from pros about Canon’s professional services group (CPS) —Canon “gets” it.

Alex R writes:

These kinds of issues with Sony service aren’t unique to the US either. Up until early this year I worked for and managed a camera store in New Zealand. A large part of my job was dealing with, chasing up and unfortunately often fighting with repair agents to get customer cameras repaired promptly and properly.

We sold a lot of Sony hardware and therefore had quite a number of repairs (not saying Sony cameras fail more than Canon/Nikon, simply digital cameras in general have a reasonably high rate of issues) and parts supply to a third party repair agent (who also ran their own camera store to boot—conflict of interest perhaps?) who would often have to wait weeks/months for parts to come from overseas. Any number of times cameras would come back DOA from repair or with some other issues.

Having said that, Fujifilm stuff was far worse, after dealing with their product I now to take their “handmade in Japan” to mean avoid at all cost, though their superzoom compacts were often even worse. Any number of their cameras came with problems out of the box, ranging from DOA to crooked LCD panels to one particular customer who in the space of a fortnight went through an XE-2, then I think 2 X-T1s before actually getting one that didn’t have substantial amounts of debris of some description under the UV/IR filter on the sensor. Personally, I had an X10 compact have its lens replaced 2 or 3 times before they could fit one that wasn’t dodgy.

Canon’s service centre was far from excellent but at least generally competent and with clear procedure, log repairs online, select your automatic proceed cost threshold, explain to customers clearly the process and the decline fees etc. and generally parts availability is not an issue. Plus at least Canon offers CPS which seems well worth it if you have a stack of gear and you use it frequently. Hell, even if nothing goes wrong you get more than your money’s worth in sensor/camera cleans.

Before brands like Sony and Fuji think they can seriously court the pro market they really need better standards of service globally. I know they make a huge deal about making “pro grade” gear to appeal to wealthy amateurs and weekend warriors but the vast majority of pros I know keep shooting Canon (mostly) and Nikon because they’re the only brands making real pro gear with some attempt at pro support.

Still, looking forward to your A7R II report, might just pick one up if it’s any good once Sony’s butchered the price/resale value with a million cash back and instant rebate offers…

DIGLLOYD: Yikes.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Photoshop CC 2015 Rife With Bugs

I regret upgrading to Photoshit CC 2015. It has several bugs damaging to my workflow.

1) Moving a selection does not work. Or rather, it works with a 5-10 second delay, but it mangles the selection and the delay means no feedback and thus it’s impossible to use.

2) Grab handles from the crop tool are the grab handles from hell: they won’t go away even after a tool change, hitting the escape key, etc. Moreover, at times, a screen shot will capture the (invisible) stuff behind the Photoshop window!

3) Scaling to Fit to Window to results in a blurry rendition (this also is in CC 2014).

4) Various unstable behaviors (crashes).

5) Bizarre and unpredictable slowdowns.

I have the dual D700 GPUs in my 2013 Mac Pro with 8-core 3.3 GHz CPU and 64GB memory and 1TB SSSD. It doesn’t get any faster.

These are GPU-related bugs. Turn off the GPU to fix. I’ve long advised disabling GPU support because of bugs, but Adobe has been removing the optimized non-GPU code, so many functions are now turtle slow with the GPU off. We’re screwed: the old fast code is gone, the new code is buggy GPU-based code. Some of this may be Apple’s fault (buggy drivers that were problematic from the start), and some may be Adobe bugs. I don’t know. But the end result is the same: a disaster for work.

I’m going to have to reinstall Photoshop CC 2014.

Get a Brand New Leica S-E (Typ 006) + 70mm Lens for $11435

A little birdie tells me that if you call B&H Photo at (800) 947-6628 you just might be able to get the Leica S-E (Typ 006) / 70mm Lens Set for $11435 as a price match. Try it out. :) Let me know how you fare.

Or you can get it at Leica Store Miami as it’s listed in the online store.

But don’t be surprised if this deal is pulled, so act quickly if you want one.

The Leica S sensor is gorgeous, and I happen to like the 70mm f/2.5 lens quite a lot.

Leica S Typ 006 Medium format DSLR + 70mm for $11435
Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series at 50 Megapixels: Moots at Barcroft (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

This series complements the Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View series, which shows superlative performance at distance.

In my review of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in Guide to Zeiss I show that the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon shrugs off 50 megapixels and has some room for the future at close distance also.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Moots at Barcroft (Canon 5DS R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also) and the usual large crops are included. From f/1.4 through f/9.

Includes both color and black and white images from f/1.4 - f/9. Who needs an overpriced Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 with this kind of superb performance along with the post-shot choice of tonal relationships. Wow.

Photographic Transportation Out There
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Reader Question: Diffraction

Henry D writes:

Is it true that diffraction problems are primarily due to the sensor and not the lens?

DIGLLOYD: not true—just the physics of light. Diffraction for any given lens and aperture is an invariant. The sensor or the film see whatever light falls upon it.

But it is true that a sensor with more megapixels will show the effects of diffraction more readily on a per-pixel basis—it is recording more detail after all. But in no way does this mean that the 50MP camera is less good than a 22MP camera. The 50MP camera records more detail to even f/16, avoids staircasing and aliasing better, etc.The 50MP camera at the same aperture records the same image projected by the same lens. It is an issue of per-pixel acuity that diffraction degrades. But f/8 at 50MP is *lot* more sharpness than f/8 at 22MP.

For a full frame 50MP camera, diffraction is detectable at f/5.6, but a non issue. At f/8 it starts to dull the image somewhat, and quite a lot of dulling at f/11. (JPEG shooters may disagree since most in-camera JPEGs are already marginalized for fine detail).

But more than fine detail is lost from diffraction; overall image contrast (brilliance) is dulled considerably; see the full apertures series for the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar; observe that contrast at all size image structures is hugely degraded at f/16 (lower at f/16 than f/1.8).

 
MTF for Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar
Graphs courtesy of Carl Zeiss

Here’s an actual series with on a low-res camera: imagine what happens going to 50 megapixels from 18 megapixels! At some point, stopping down is a net loss (depth of field vs diffraction) and the game is over.

AB comparison image
Actual pixels @ f/45 = mush
(Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR- APO Macro, Canon 1Ds Mark II)

With a 22MP camera, diffraction is only beginning to be visible at f/8 (speaking in terms of contrast for very fine details for both on a per-pixel basis). But in reality if one takes that 50MP image and downsamples it to 22MP, there is no difference whatsoever in diffraction effects. The issue is that users of a 50MP camera are (unrealistically) hoping to get 2.3X as many pixels of the same sharpness per pixel. This cannot happen, at least not with the lens stopped down past 5.6 or so (on a 50MP full-frame sensor). And the lens must perform at a very high level in the first place, e.g., Zeiss Otus or Zeiss Batis.

Another issue that tends to confuse is the relationship between depth of field and aperture and focal length for different format sizes, and how those relate to the physical size of the photosite (pixel) on the sensor. See Format-Equivalent Depth of Field and F-Stop in Making Sharp Images.

Representation of an Airy Disc vs the photostie size on a sensor
(diffraction is much more complex than this illustration)

The core issue is the size of the blur circle (Airy Disc) vs the size of the photosite. That blur circle enlarges with stopping down. At some aperture, the blur circle grows larger than the the photosites on the sensor, and so the sensor then resolves more than the lens delivers (because the light is spread out by diffraction at that aperture).

For example, on both the 36MP Nikon D810 and 50MP Canon 5DS R, f/16 is heavily degraded, with destruction of the finest details. f/22 is awful**. Acceptable images can be made at f/16 on those cameras*, but there is a loss of fine details no matter how much sharpening is applied.

As shown at right, if the lens is stopped down too far, at some point the Airy Disc begins to exceed the size of the photosite. It is no longer possible to capture fine details in terms of the resolving power of the sensor. At ultra-degraded f/22, the 50MP Canon 5DS R will minimally more detail than the 22MP Canon 5D Mark III. But this has always been the case, even with film.

* Diffraction is complex (a series of waveforms), but a useful simple model is a blur circle size which grows with stopping down.

** Which makes me laugh at those captions in photo magazines with images that would have been optimal in all ways at f/5.6, but are instead turned to mush at f/22 and then published at a tiny size. f/22 is a great way to make a mediocre print even at a modest size.

See the following in Making Sharp Images:

 

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

FOR SALE: my Canon 5D Mark III and Lenses

Canon 5D Mark III $1700, in original box, etc. Excellent condition, low mileage (most of my shooting for the past few years has been done with Nikon and I’m not a high volume shooter in any case).

Buy it with these 3 lenses and take another $200 off the total.

  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $900
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $1050
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $700

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

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

Get a Brand New Leica S (Typ 006) Medium Format DSLR Camera for $8995

I published various luscious Leica S images a few months ago with my review of the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH. The sensor is fantastic and the glass is the best there is in medium format, with a couple of readers expressing interesting in getting an 'S'. Moreover used Leica S lenses can be found at very good prices.

I’d like one myself, but I cannot justify the investment—it has to have positive ROI.

B&H Photo has the Leica S (Typ 006) effectively about $8995 (see the trade-in note; I take “any camera” at face value, e.g. any point and shoot, or perhaps the old Kodak 35mm film + integrated camera with prepaid development for like $7 or $8).

Update: B&H says this $5000 off for any camera offer was a mistake.

BUT: Leica S-E (Typ 006) + 70mm Lens Set for $11435.

...

Leica S (Typ 006) Medium Format DSLR Camera (Body Only)

Save $5,000 with trade-in (SOME KIND OF MISTAKE)

Trade in any camera towards the purchase of a new Leica S Body and receive a $5,000 instant credit. Call us at (800) 947-6628 to take advantage of this offer.

Leica S Typ 006 Medium format DSLR for $8995

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Aperture Series: Green Machine, Oblique View (5DS R)

Get Canon 5DS R and Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM at B&H Photo. The Canon ES-52 lens hood is optional and I’ve used the 40/2.8 without it, but worthwhile as a bumper at least.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

The 40mm f/2.8 STM is a lens I rather like; it makes an excellent body cap, weighing only 125 grams, and is corrected optically in a pleasing way. At about $149 with instant rebate it’s a go-anywhere lens that fits into just about anything. Might as well use it over a body cap, and it’s a very nice lens to shoot and carry. Just get one—you won’t regret having it handy.

This series is enjoyable to view, showing vignetting and bokeh characteristics as well as sharpness and the peripheral focus shift to be aware of. The 40/2.8 STM has a nice feel to it.

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Aperture Series: Green Machine, Oblique View (5DS R)

This aperture series from f/2.8 - f/16 includes many large crops as well as entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels.

Green Machine
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Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Sony A7R II: Is it the Death Knell for Leica M?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Leica M Typ 240

Mirrorless is sucking the oxygen of the room for the dinosaur DSLR, but for now I see Sony mirrorless as more of an existential threat to the Leica M system. (Actually, the DSLR CaNikon mount has a bright future, if only there were not a complete lack of imagination over in the land of the rising sun. Moribund, hide-bound thinking at CaNikon).

The pace of Leica innovation is very slow and making me very grumpy and costing me money too: Leica adds no value to the M over time, still has only a low-res toy grade EVF on the M240, no meaningful firmware updates (a few fixes for initial design errors and that’s it), a lens line often poorly suited for a digital sensor, manual focus only, camera lockups even in mid 2015 (MM246 and M240), sensor resolution stuck at 24M, service that is months long for some lenses.

Heck, 80% of the potential customer base that can afford an M (older and wealthy) probably can’t focus an M accurately to save their life—it’s an eyesight thing. I use the EVF at maximum magnification, but the low-res crappy EVF for the M240 makes this a chore. That’s why the new Leica Q is important to Leica, and it’s critical that the EVF and AF tech in it make it into a massively revamped dump-the-anachronism-rangefinder M line, yesterday.

Leica is actively devaluing my M investment not just with its failure to innovate, but along with a longstanding Leica M rebate of 12% along with huge oversupply. Leica M lenses have lost considerable value as has the Leica M240. I used to get 90% or so of the new price for M lenses, now they're hard to sell. When one buys a luxury product, the expectation is that it will retain much of its value. Leica is actively undermining that proposition, violating the longstanding expectations and in effect taking money out of my pocket with its discount policies. It eviscerates one saving grace of choosing M over another system.

Famed Leica M lens performance is inferior to Zeiss Otus, and I’d rate the Zeiss Batis as superior to the equivalent Leica M lenses in most all respects, and with autofocus too. And now with the Sony A7R II, one gets a delicious 42 megapixels of detail on the latest and best sensor on the market, vs an aging 24MP sensor for M. Game over? But wait, there’s more.

Sony A7R II with 35/1.4 Distagon

Sony mirrorless is now the weight leader for full frame

Sony is so aggressive it’s impressive. While I get grumpy over some crappy aspects of Sony physical and software design (and I’m baffled why such crap goes into an otherwise fine product), I have tremendous respect for Sony’s competitive chops vs the zero innovation at CaNikon and Leica (Pentax is doing some innovative stuff in the DSLR realm, but no full frame camera as yet).

The longstanding 'killer' advantage of the M system for light weight vs a DSLR remains, but consider just how low in weight the Sony A7R II system is (a little more bulkd but)

A7R II: 625g with battery and memory card vs 720g for M240 + EVF, before adding a grip
Zeiss Batis 25/2:   335g
Zeiss Loxia 35/2:   340g
Sony 35/2.8:        132g
Zeiss Loxia 50/2:   320g
Sony 55/1.8:        281 g
Zeiss Batis 85/1.8: 475g

Sony camera bodies have been sucky and still are in multiple ways: cheap feeling, poor ergonomics, crapware in the menus, rapid depreciation*, and so on. But the A7R II usability is vastly superior to the Leica M for many purposes: autofocus, high-res EVF, much higher megapixels, 4K video, programmable buttons to suit one’s shooting needs, etc*.

* Leica’s stubborn insistence on no customization is outrageous. As a case in point, only a single setting out of the entire Set button group is useful to me, and the video button is a useless wart with no useful purpose to me. This fundamental arrogance pisses me off to no end when using the camera, having wasted my time for years now (20,000 chimping clicks by now to get to menu items?). Sony has multiple programmable buttons and a much more quickly accessible set of customizable menus, so I can set the camera up to my liking.

Dan writes

Thank you for posting this. I really hope it gets through to the powers that be at Leica. It mirrors my thoughts entirely.

For me though, perhaps it's too late because I am for the first time seriously considering dumping all my Leica M gear.

I, too, am very frustrated with this company that has sucked up a lot of my money with the hope of them delivering a consistently solid performance upgrade with time. One that is, at least, in keeping with the much cheaper opposition.

The M9 was brilliant, the M240 was a side step, who knows when the next will come and I don't expect it to be much better.

I really need 50MP and I have no use or interest in a 24MP camera any more. Unfortunately I don't think it is likely to change for at least another five years. It seems this love affair for me is ending.

DIGLLOYD: Dangerous sentiments for the future of Leica. My advice to Leica is to abandon all the goofy collector kits (living off past glory IMO), dump the S line, and move all resources into a bad-ass new M-compatible platform while also extending the Q lineup.

Roy P writes

At this point, the game is already over. It is way too late for Leica to come out with the bad ass new M-compatible mirrorless digital platform. That window was open in 2010 or 2011. Instead of the greedy M9-P, the utterly idiotic T system (yet another mount and a system of lenses?!), the rather pointless M9 Mono, etc., they should have come out with a digital M, and started transitioning out of the RF.

But they squandered the opportunity, and I think it’s now too late. Leica has no choice but to stay within the Rangefinder well, and hope the frogs that live in that well will continue to stay in the well, and continue to be wealthy, status-conscious, and clueless. Venturing out into the general mirrorless market would get Leica slaughtered by Sony, Ricoh, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

The Q actually does make sense for Leica. As a “reportage” camera, a euphemism for point and click, IMHO, it is at least consistent with the Leica M DNA. They should take up your advice and do more variations of the Q.

I also agree they should dump all the idiot collector kits, although that might buy them some brand equity in the Oil countries and with the neuvo riche. But I’d like to see them develop the S system into a more usable and serious medium format camera, with a 60-80MP CMOS sensor and better firmware.

DIGLLOYD: Agreed on the T system, and too many products too ordinary with extraordinary prices. But the game is not over if Leica gets ther sh*t together and innovates. Leica will do just fine selling $5K or $7K autofocus super high performance lenses, which can be designed not for the archaic rangefinder system but for super performance on mirrorless. I have nothing against the S system (I love the lenses nothing can touch them in the MF realm), but the body needs work and a big price drop. As for the Q, the compromised lens with massive distortion relying on software correction really makes it a 20MP camera at best which is mediocre at best in the the corners and at the edges. I find it unacceptable in a camera that expensive. But Leica should add a 21mm and 50mm model to round out the line because at its core, the Q is a very nice little shooter in spite of the compromises.

Knut writes:

What about Pentax/Ricoh:

- They fork out a digital medium format (considered amazing compared to it's pricy‎ competition)
- They will add full frame very soon
- 4k time lapse is a standard in all their lines‎ (from APSC, full frame to medium format)
- IBIS availlable in their APSC (Pentax first!) and
- and full-frame line (in contrast to Canikon)
- In camera GPS astrotracer for long exposures of celestrial bodies (unavailable in any other mount)
- water resistant body and lenses since ages
- low battery consumption (especially helpful outdoors)
- all lines safe to use at minus10 degrees C‎elsius
- ‎Pixel shift in their APSC and coming full-frame line
- much more extensive line of lenses available than Sony (many new, but especially a slew of very good used ones. [some need hunting])
- Ricoh GR best value for money APSC ‎compact
- most flexible in camera‎ jpg engine
- one of the most flexible in camera white balances
(I HATE post processing ‎on a computer at home. A huge waste of time)
- one of the fastest frame rates in their respective category (8- 9 fps APSC, 3fps medium format)
- flexible moire filter through variable sensor shake
- 3mm shift with all their lenses through sensor shift (not extensive, but quite appreciable‎ when needed. I often have it on when photographing in the mountains or in town)
- very reasonable ergonomics
- above average build quality

DIGLLOYD: Yes, among all the other manufacturers besides Sony, Pentax is the only other innovated. That said, much of the above is not innovation; I take it as a given/requirement ( ergonomics, build quality, etc).

Medium format is hugely expensive, bulky and heavy, and in a realm of its own. Does the Pentax 645Z innovate ? Not much. It’s just another medium format camera, albeit a very well done one. Does it have pixel shift or IBIS or the other real innovationes noted above? No.

I’ve praised the Ricoh GR extensively. Love it. But it is APS-C with a fixed lens.

The Pentax full frame camera to my knowledge lacks a formal spec list and feature set from Pentax. When and if it appears, I expect it will carry at least the features of the K3-II, some of which are terrific and some of which drove me bananas in the field. Pixel shift on full frame should rock, but zero of my Zeiss lenses will work on it, and the Pentax FF lens line is very sparse, having no truly high performance lenses designed for digital, though possibly I am mistaken and there are one or two—doesn’t matter really, point is made. The Pentax medium format lenses have a few good ones (very few), but these are heavy and awkward.

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Sony A7R II: Where is Pixel Shift?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Conspicuously missing from the Sony A7R II feature set is Olympus-style pixel shift, which in my testing can deliver roughly a 32-megapixel image from a 16-megapixel sensor. On the 42-megapixel Sony A7R II sensor, a similar technology would deliver ~63 megapixels, or maybe more like ~80 megapixels using a Zeiss Otus.

It’s a pity that Sony is not offering pixel shift, since it has Olympus-style sensor stabilization. Perhaps it will appear in a firmware update, but that seems dubious, since it is a terrific feature to brag about at a product release (and would be a first for a full frame camera).

If Sony does not implement pixel shift, then the most likely candidate is the coming Pentax full-frame camera, which utilizes the Sony 42-megapixel sensor (pixel shift already exists in the Pentax K3-II). And then one wonders about Nikon, which at the least ought to offer a Nikon D820 with the new 42MP Sony sensor, though we can hope for more.

Canon 5DS R: Corrections for Color Fringing More Important than at Lower Resolution

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

At 50 megapixels, the Canon 5DS R reveals optical imperfections that the 22-megapixel Canon 5D Mark III tends to minimize, the 5DS R having 1.5X greater resolving power over the 5DM3.

Even lenses with well-controlled color fringing (lateral chromatic aberration) may now need correction with the 1.5X greater resolution of the 5DS R vs the Canon 5D Mark III. Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R:

Correcting Lateral Chromatic Aberration and Distortion (24-70mm f/2.8L II @ 24mm, Barcroft Army Boxes)

Includes the uncorrected image along with the image corrected for LACA and LACA + distortion correction. As well as crops.

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

Sony A7R II with Otus and other Lenses

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

For Sony shooters looking to shoot Zeiss Otus on the Sony A7R II with its vibration-free EFC shutter (vs the harsh shutter vibration of the Sony A7R) I recommend the Novoflex lens adapter with the Novoflex ASTAT tripod collar. If buying Otus, the Nikon-mount Zeiss Otus is preferred for its manual aperture ring (no electronics needed in the adapter).

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

Readers report that the v2 Metabones adapter has a much superior tripod foot, though it might have a conflict with a grip and it cannot rotate like the ASTAT (the Novoflex one is removable, but not particularly solid and so a vibration-free EFC shutter is important).

Metabones Nikon F Mount Lens to Sony NEX Camera Lens Mount Adapter II

Practical issues of lens adapters can intrude. Consider the three items below: the Sony A7R, the Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens to Sony, and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon.

While the pictures above are not exactly scale, they are close enough to make the point: a one kilogram lens attached to a lens adapter adding 29mm of extension from the lens mount places a large torque on the mount. The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar and 35mm f/1.4 Distagon are also large and heavy. Ditto for the Leica R telephotos at 100mm on up. This is bad news for any lens mount unless that weight is supported by the hand at all times—warped lens mount. Even 5 or 10 microns out of kilter means asymmetric blur, not to mention possible static sag even if the lens mount were of superman genre.

Hence the need for a tripod collar (which is not and cannot be particularly solid on such adapters), hence the need for a vibration free shutter. The Sony A7R II delivers that vibration-free EFC shutter at last. It is why I never bothered to test Otus on the Sony A7R; its shutter was so bad that it would not be a lens test at all without using very fast or slow shutter speeds—what would be the point of a combo that can never work optimally under most shooting conditions?

More below.

Sony A7R   Novoflex Nikon to Sony NEX lens adapter   Novoflex Nikon to Sony NEX lens adapter   Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Consider this “lever arm” (physics) and what it would do to a lens mount, temporarily or permanently (without using the tripod collar)

DSLR much less an issue, but still requires care

A DSLR mounts the lens directly, but with a lens adapter for Sony, the mount has to support the same weight 29mm further from the lens mount (31mm for Canon lenses). The lever arm torque with this arrangement is immediately of concern (sag), but there is a chance that the lens mount might ultimately be bent (warped). I can’t speak to whether actual damage will happen*, but it’s a lot to ask of a lens mount, and I don’t want built-in tilt when I shoot (lens sag).

This issue is already there with large lenses mounted directly to a DSLR; for example, even on a DSLR, I would never willingly tripod-mount my camera with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached (but an f/4 is generally fine, being much lighter). Leica acknowledges the torque issue for the M240 lens mount by detailing in the user manual the specific weights that are tolerable using the Leica R-adapter M: over those weights the camera + lens ought to be mounted using the tripod collar. And the Leica lens adapter is easily the most robust and best-built adapter I have ever seen.

* I once damaged the lens mount on my Nikon DSLR and it cost $550 to replace the mount. The damage (warping) is/was invisible to the eye, but caused asymmetric blur in every image I made.

Mitigation via tripod collar on lens adapter

The Novoflex ASTAT-NEX Tripod Collar can be used to which the Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens attaches. The collar attaches to the lens adapter, and that is what is tripod-mounted. This eliminates the stress on the lens mount by asking the adapter to support the camera on one side and the lens on the other; the lens mount no longer directly support the weight of the lens. This see-saw support is far from ideal from a stability standpoint with obvious stability issues, just as with Canon and Nikon super teles—same flawed mechanical design (vs fully supporting end to end the whole rig).

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

UPDATE: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

I reported Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts one month ago. Leica contacted me about the issue, and I provided a DNG to Leica.

Today I received a brief note saying that the issue is reproducible on their end and that the behavior is being researched.

Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (actual pixels)
Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (200% of actual pixels)

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series at 50 Megapixels: Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in Guide to Zeiss I show that the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon shrugs off 50 megapixels and has some room for the future.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View (Canon 5DS R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Snow lice can be seen to be crawling on the snow and building. Watch ’em move across the f/1.4 to f/11 aperture range! The crops include 1/3 stop increments starting at f/5.6 for a detailed look at effects with stopping down.

If you’re going to shoot 50 megapixels (or 36 or 43), shoot Zeiss Otus. Hardly anything else comes close and nothing is better. Well, some aspects are better than riding a mountain bike to 14,252' elevation with a tripod and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus.

For Sony shooters looking to shoot Zeiss Otus on the Sony A7R II with its vibration-free EFC shutter, I recommend the Novoflex lens adapter with the Novoflex ASTAT tripod collar. If buying Otus, the Nikon-mount Zeiss Otus is preferred for its manual aperture ring (no electronics needed in the adapter).

Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View
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Zeiss Batis Lenses to Ship “Mid July”

PRE ORDER Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

I inquired about the Zeiss Batis lenses with Zeiss USA:

The Batis lenses will begin shipping in the USA in mid-July. An exact date is not scheduled and depends on when stock is received from the factory.

The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II.

 
Zeiss Batis lenses

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Examples: Mary Lake + Mt Conness Area

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In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I show additional examples with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4 Sonnar

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Examples: Mary Lake, Mt Conness, Sierra (Sony A7R)

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II.

The Zeiss Batis lenses are due to ship within a few weeks. My advice is to pre-order Zeiss Batis ASAP as they will likely suffer from the same Unobtanium issue as the Zeiss Loxia line (supply constraints, Zeiss can’t build ’em fast enough).

The Zeiss Batii together with the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon make a darn nice trio that covers about 80% of what one might need: 25/35/85 is an excellent range. Fill in with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar or the Sony/Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar.

Speculating (and no inside knowledge here), I am hoping to see an ultra wide in the 18mm or 21mm range before too long. I’d also really like to see an 11mm f/4 prime and a 16mm fisheye, but these are not hot sellers in general, so my hopes are not high there.

Mule’s Ears, first flower
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Flighty Visitor
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Huge Selection of Drones

Canon 5DS / 5DS R: sRAW vs Full-Res RAW Downsampled.

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See also Canon 5DS R: mRAW is at Variance with Full-Resolution RAW in Several Ways.

Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show that sRAW is not at all like mRAW in per-pixel acuity:

Canon 5DS R: RAW vs sRAW

The analysis includes the full-res raw image downsampled to match sRAW resolution.

Also added is a discussion of RAW, mRAW and sRAW file sizes:

RAW vs mRAW and sRAW: Camera Cropping and Downsampling and File Size

The user of the smaller formats for saving space is a marginal idea.

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Canon 5DS / 5DS R: mRAW is at Variance with Full-Resolution RAW in Several Ways

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Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show that mRAW is more complex than simply a crop and a downsampling of full-resolution raw.

Canon 5DS R: RAW vs mRAW

The analysis includes the full-res image downsampled to match mRAW resolution, and compares it to the mRAW in two ways as well as three large 3-way crops (RAW, mRAW, mRAW with extra sharpening).

There are other differences that one should be aware of. At this time, my recommendation is to avoid mRAW entirely. sRAW looks more promising but off to the fireworks.

How mRAW is done by the Canon 5DS / 5DS R

To make an mRAW or sRAW image, in essence the Canon 5DS / 5DS R crops the 8688 X 5792 image size to 8640 X 5760, which is exactly 4/3X the dimensions of mRAW and 2X the dimensions of sRAW. The scaling from full resolution is thus 3/4 and 1/2 to get to the two smaller raw sizes (after the minor crop), and thus the mRAW and sRAW formats are slightly cropped from full frame.

 RAW: 8688 X 5792 ==> 8640 X 5760
MRAW: 6480 X 4320
sRAW: 4320 X 2880

Leica Q: 14-bit files

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Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now published, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

Dynamic range looks promising—the Q looks to have an improved version of the Leica M Typ 240 sensor. Could an improved M240 with more features be on the way or some other interchangeable-lens M with built-in EVF and a new autofocus lens line? I would not rule it out, though Leica is slow to move on the M platform.

See graph from RawDigger below (highly recommended tool for any photographer for ETTR evaluation and more)—with a black level of 512 and values out to nearly 16K, the full bit range is utilized. How much usable dynamic range is there is not given by bits of course, but this is no 12 bit file.

The Leica Q files are uncompressed at 43.1 megabytes each, so these are 14-bit files (14 bits / 8 bits * 24 megapixels = ~42 megabytes + a bit of other stuff). Regrettably Leica offers no lossless compressed format in the Q (as is done on the M), which would on average cut the file size down to 25MB or so with absolutely no change to the data (lossless).

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Leica Q ISO Series: ISO 100 - ISO 50000 (Dolls)

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Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now published, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

This addition shows the noise behavior from ISO 100 to ISO 50000 in both color and black and white up to the full resolution of the camera (includes a crop for convenience also).

Leica Q: ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (Dolls)

These results establish baseline expectations for what the Leica Q can do under the best possible ETTR exposure.

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Leica Q: Initial Review Coverage

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Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now up, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

Review of Leica Q

Initial assessment reveals a Leica Q 28mm f/1.7 lens with massive optical distortion that results in compromised sharpness in substantial areas of the frame.

Also shown is a Leica Q f/1.7 - f/16 aperture series (Dolls).

Along with general comments and notes on usability and focusing issues and Perspective and Applicability of the Leica Q and more.

Massive optical disortion with Leica Q, uncorrected
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Canon 5DS R: ISO Series in Color and Black&White from ISO 50 to ISO 12,800

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Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show the entire ISO 50 to ISO 12800 series in both color and monochrome.

The exposure was a perfect ETTR exposure, so much so that small areas are starting to blow out in the green channel. The red and blue channels are also very well exposed. No better exposure is/was possible hence this is the most favorable case in terms of minimizing noise; the full dynamic range of the sensor has been utilized.

This series is thus a definitive real world study of the kind of best results one can expect under conditions where there is a wide dynamic range and areas of colors that are more of a challenge (e.g., reddish and yellowish tones) and exposure is absolutely optimal.

Canon 5DS R: ISO Series from 50 to 12,800 in Color and Black and White (Cabin Interior)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels (equivalent resolution to a Leica M Monochrom Typ 246) as well as four large crops, again across the ISO range and in color and black and white.

The results are compelling.

Cabin Interior
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Leica Q Initial Comments

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Leica Q

The Leica Q arrived today; its battery is charging.

I have not shot it, but just to show that there are wide range of viewpoints on what constitutes usability, I’ll cite issues I noted within the first five minutes (literally!) that are usage hassles for me (and maybe not for others).

Cameras get personal: style of shooting, the when and where and other particulars. A camera can be a workhorse (Nikon D810), or much more limited. When one has a strictly defined shooting envelope and usage pattern and type of venue, a camera with strict limits may not only be fine, but preferred.

Anyway, the “first five minutes” issues I noted:

  • Update: [I wrote: No way to cap the lens with the shade attached (nothing supplied). This is a constant hassle for me: stowing/unstowing while hiking, around neck/shoulder on a bike (dirt/dust in both cases). So I screwed on a Zeiss 49mm UV filter and mounted the hood and things will stay that way most of the time.] As 5 readers pointed out to me, I’m mistaken about the lens cap; the lens cash pushes on over the lens hood. The manual (page 149) makes no mention of this capability. With the Q I have on loan, the fit is so tight that I did not want to force it, particularly because it is threaded and I had thought these threads would damage the hood if I pushed hard. They do not; the fit stops short of the lens threads. It’s rather ingenious and I like it now that I know how it works.
  • Not chargeable with a car charger (12V); the Leica M240 supplies a 12V adapter for highly efficient DC charging; the Q omits this item and the charger has no DC-in plug—bummer. Inefficient DC-AC-DC charging only for the Q. Even USB charging is more efficient, since it’s DC-DC but the Q does not support that either (battery can only be charged out of the camera in the charger).
  • User manual: “Battery can only be charged from 10°C to 30°C otherwise the charger does not turn on". Well at 10°C / 50° F I may be riding my bike with only a long-sleeve jersey at that temperature—it’s not very cold at all. So when it’s near freezing or below freezing in the mountains, how exactly do I get the battery charged without idling the engine to keep the vehicle warm with the windows closed? When I want to crawl into the sleeping bag in my car, and sleep with the windows cracked at 40°F and maybe colder (I like it cold and do this a lot). So the thing won’t charge? I guess that means wrapping something around the charger (after warming it) and hoping that the charging process keeps it above 50°F. Probably will be fine then, and Ming Thein (see his Ming’s review of the Q) reports that his charger worked at 45°C. So it seems his charger is broken. :;
  • The supplied leather strap is too long for my torso, with no “give” and impossible to adjust length. None of my wide variety of straps can fit through the tiny lug holes. I often like to carry a camera while riding a mountain bike (strap over neck and under arm), if too long the camera won’t stay in position out of the way, and can bang on things by swinging around, or just be a nuisance in not staying put (think pedaling). Even for hiking, it’s just too long; the camera is less stable (swings more and can bang into rocks). This is not elegance; it’s bad design.
  • No built-in flash. This immediately makes it hugely inferior to the wonderful Ricoh GR for doing things like backlit portraits. Carry a bulky hot-shoe flash around that is awkward and unbalanced when mounted? No thanks. Did that with too many cameras—I’m 'done' with that kind of nonsense.
  • No grip. While there is a recessed area at the rear for the thumb, no grip = sucks rocks.

You see, all these things have some practical and/or personal aspect. So I’m going to have to think about as many shooting styles as I can (my own and others), and just present them. Because for some people they may be real considerations and “don’t care” items for others.

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Panasonic DMC-DM1P: a Camera that is a Phone, now in stock

Get Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1P 16GB Camera and Smartphone (Unlocked) at B&H Photo.

The Panasonic DMC-DM1P camera-phone (vs a phone-camera as is the iPhone) is now in stock. See Apple iPhone is a Phone with Camera, Panasonic DMC-DM1P is a Camera with Phone. Note that it is an UNLOCKED phone that has a reasonably large sensor and 4K video and a retina display

  • GSM / 4G LTE Capable
  • North American Variant
  • 1" 20.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Sensor
  • Wide 28mm f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit Lens

I’m pleased to see crossover concepts take their stab at it, but I’d like to see it taken further: get that retina display onto the back of a Nikon D810 and Canon 5DS R (built in). Then at least the big form factor gets a lot more visually appealing in one way.

Given that many of the add-ons for iPhone such as the Olympus Air at around $600, the price of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1P 16GB is in line with what such things can be expected to cost; the real cost of an iPhone 6 Plus is around $900 (without carrier subsidies). Still, it seems a tough row to hoe against the iPhone.

Panasonic DMC-DM1P
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240GB / 480GB / 1TB, perfect for travel or silent backup.

Nikon Announces 2 New Super Telephotos

Get AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens at B&H Photo.

Nikon has finally gotten onto the super high performance telephoto path, utilizing fluorite lens elements (very expensive compared to glass). Personally, I’d like to see an all-out effort to make an absolutely superb 200mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4 with fluorite and light weight, rather than the sorry history of mediocre designs at 300/4. Or at least a 300/2.8 fluorite version.

The 20% weight savings designed into the new lenses are very significant for handling and use of a super telephoto.

The tripod foot design is an unstable pivot-point shock-wave-propogating design compared to a superb one as that found on the vintage Nikon 50-300mm f/4.5 ED. This type of tripod foot has been the norm for years now—and it remains a serious threat to sharpness on high resolution digital, as literally a puff of breath on the lens at full Live View magnification will show in real time. Ditto for the Canon tripod foot found on Canon super teles. Then too the absence of a dovetail on the tripod foot itself forces the addition of a plate for clamping into a tripod head, adding height and weight—dumb—the lens has to be mounted to be used.

PACK LIGHTER TO GO FURTHER: NIKON ANNOUNCES TWO NEW PROFESSIONAL SUPER TELEPHOTO NIKKOR LENSES

The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lenses Dominate the Sidelines With Superior Optical and AF Tracking Performance, While New Design Reduces Weight

MELVILLE, NY (July 2, 2015) -- Today, Nikon Inc. announced two new super telephoto lenses, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. These two NIKKOR lenses use the latest Nikon lens technologies to enhance autofocus (AF) tracking and optical performance, while benefitting photographers with a significant reduction in weight. Ideal for sports, action, wildlife and press events, these lenses offer photographers the ability to capture striking images from afar with brilliant clarity and sharpness.

“The new NIKKOR 500mm and 600mm f/4 lenses were developed to give photographers the advantage on the sidelines or in the field, with a lens that can keep up with the action and get the decisive shot,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “By the fourth quarter or final period, users will sincerely appreciate the weight reduction of these lenses which allow for extended shooting, even into overtime.”

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR

Increased Performance, Reduced Weight

These new super telephoto NIKKOR lenses have been optimized for today's high-resolution image sensors and fast-shooting Nikon DSLR cameras. The new lens designs significantly improve AF tracking performance, helping photographers to capture images of dynamic wildlife or athletes in precise clarity, even when subjects are moving erratically, at random speeds or at the camera. Both lenses also utilize Nikon’s Electromagnetic Diaphragm, helping to maintain consistent exposure during high-speed burst shooting of fast action.

The addition of fluorite lens elements to the optical formula helps to reduce chromatic aberration, as well as decrease the overall weight of the lenses, saving nearly two pounds (lbs.) for the 500mm f/4E FL ED VR, and nearly three lbs. for the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. For extended shooting days in the field, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm and 600mm lenses also employ magnesium alloy construction for enhanced durability and further weight reduction.

Because the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR weighs in at just 6.8 lbs./3090 grams (vs. 8.5 lbs./3880g of its predecessor), super telephoto performance has never been so light. This premium NIKKOR lens is ideal for nature and sports photographers who are always traveling on assignment and are looking for a fast, constant aperture lens to capture photos and HD video from a distance. The combination of nimble agility, low-light capability and superior optical performance makes this lens an obvious choice for tack-sharp images of birds in flight, aircraft or other fast moving subjects when a tripod is not always an option. The optical formula of this lens combines two fluorite elements and three Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements to further reduce chromatic aberration while providing superior sharpness and color accuracy.

For long reach with superior optical performance, professional photographers should consider the AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR, which provides the ultimate in fast-aperture and focal distance for challenging subjects. With a constant aperture of f/4, the new 600mm lens gives the photographer the ability to fill the frame and create dramatic separation between subject and background. With a weight of merely 8.3 lbs. /3810g (vs. 11.5 lbs./5060g of its predecessor), the lens features two fluorite lens elements and four ED elements to provide discerning photographers with unrivaled sharpness.

NIKKOR Lens Technologies

Adding to a long legacy of renowned optical excellence, both lenses feature the most advanced NIKKOR lens technologies, including the addition of Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat to further reduce instances of ghosting and flare; an essential feature for capturing outdoor sports or action under the lights. Both lenses also incorporate Nikon Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, affording up to four stops of image stabilization*, with automatic tripod detection to counteract vibrations when mounted on a tripod. For pros shooting fast and erratic moving sports or subjects, using the SPORT VR mode will yield a more stable viewfinder image whether handholding the lens, using a monopod or even when panning.

For enhanced durability, both lenses are sealed and gasketed against the elements and have a fluorine coating on a front protective meniscus element to make it easier to remove dirt, moisture and smudges from the lens surface. For shooting from extreme distances, the new lenses are also compatible with select Nikon teleconverters** that provide photographers with the ability to autofocus up to f/8 with many Nikon professional DSLR bodies.

Price and Availability

The new AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR will be available in mid-July for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $10,299.95***. The AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR will be available in mid-July for the SRP $12,299.95***. Both lenses also come with a newly redesigned, lightweight, custom-fit hard case for transport. For more information on these new NIKKOR lenses as well as other Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
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Leica Q Arrives July 2 for review

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Leica Q

The Leica Q is due for delivery tomorrow.

I’m still backlogged, but I’ll be doing some work with it right away to establish its core imaging quality.

Considerations I see as interesting:

  • Just how good on form and function as a high grade camera (does it all come together in a enjoyable and efficient camera).
  • How image quality compares to the three Leica M 28mm lenses on the M240 (but I don’t yet have the new Leica 28mm /1.4 Summilux).
  • How it feels in relation to the Sony RX1R (35mm full frame) and Ricoh GR (APS-C, 28mm equiv).

Coverage will go into Guide to Leica as does all high-end Leica gear.

Mac Pro “Sweet Spot”
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