diglloyd

Max Your Mac Pro at OWC

SSDHard drivesMemory
Mac Performance Guide


Our trusted photo rental store.

30 day blog index

Blocked IP Addresses: Your Insight Useful

A user over in the UK contacted me to say that images on this site would not load. Since I recently moved all images to a new high speed server, this did not make sense.

Aside from occassional server updates and reboots (I write my own code), images at diglloyd.com should be served up at speeds exceeding that of 99.99% of internet users, since they are served off a dedicated 100 megabit Tier 1 data center link, via images.diglloyd.com.

It turns out that this user’s ISP (Internet Service Provider) over in the UK has a filter/firewall in place that is blocking the following IP address: 192.169.20.186 (images.diglloyd.com). Presumably a mis-configuration problem. But it could be blocking thousands of users for that particular ISP.

The blocking meant that no images would show on this site, and that MacPerformanceGuide.com and WindInMyFace.com would be inaccessible.

As far as I know there are no other users being blocked, but it concerns me. Send me an email if images are not loading (sporadic issues are probabably me rebooting the server for some recent development work).

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH: Aperture Series 'Sagging Barn'

In Guide to Leica:

Aperture Series 50/2 APO: Sagging Barn near Pine Creek (M240)

Also update is the 50/2 APO left/right lens skew series.

  Sagging Barn Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2
Sagging Barn
Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Ideal Match for the Leica M Typ 240

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

Gene F writes:

... in regard to my recent coverage of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon:

Your Zeiss 35 shots vindicate the M240.

All of your rigs deliver nice photos and express your style, but these are something else. They have a timeless character I can't put my finger on. The B&W conversions are filmic and lush. I much prefer them to the Nikon D810 look.

It might not be something measurable either; the Zeiss just seems to bring out the better, unique traits of the M240 sensor, which has a certain brilliance and warmth I've grown to appreciate even with my usual Leica lenses.

DIGLLOYD: as I progressed through the images from my 2-week trip, a feeling began to build right away with my initial images, but I pushed back on it, not wanting to jump to conclusions too fast or without enough breadth and depth of material (and there is much more I have not published and needs some attention).

Indeed, not only did the nagging feeling persist (in a good way), it burst into my full awareness recently with the variety of shots I showed towards the end: the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon on the M240 is a rare and synergistic combination that achieves something extraordinary. And while I have all of the best M lenses, none of them quite produce that reaction. So Gene’s comment is spot-on. I think the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is the very best lens available today for the M240. And it’s gorgeous in silver (the finish I had in hand—my own copy is on order).

There are at least two things that are of keen interest to me in Leica M land: a rumored M240 'Monochrom' (presumably with Live View and 24MP) and two key improvements to the M: a 36+ megapixel sensor and a high-res EVF (preferably built-in). There is still no way to achieve the compactness and quality that an M system offers, but those sort of improvements (and the ZM 35/1.4) would be highly attractive. The Sony A7x cameras have too many flaws and except for the Loxia lenses and perhaps a few others (at most), cannot be take seriously in terms of the lens line in performance and build quality (let alone the absurdity of a hard-bang shutter in a 36MP camera).

Sebastian B writes:

These images are among the finest I have seen for quite a while, anywhere.

I feel you have developed an extraordinary sense for the very basics of photography: color, light, sharpness, blur. If I had to describe those pictures with one word, it would be "transparent"—just like standing there and breathing the air. (And I'm sure it's not just the lens!)

DIGLLOYD: I like to blame the lens at least in part, but this past trip I felt especially “tuned in” to my surroundings and perhaps that shows.

Only quite small images are shown here in this blog (compared to the HD and UltraHD sizes shown in my review).

  Brilliant Aspen Looking Towards Bishop CA, September 25, 2014 @ 16:32 Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ1.4
Brilliant Aspen Looking Towards Bishop CA, September 25, 2014 @ 16:32
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ1.4

Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon: Focus Shift Assessment

In Guide to Zeiss, I assess focus shift of the Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon as contrasted with the Nikon alternatives.

Focus Shift Compared: Nikon 20/1.8G vs 14-24/2.8

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G at B&H Photo.

Now posted in my review of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G in DAP is instructive comparison of focus shift with the 20/1.8G vs the 14-24/2.8G.

Focus Shift: 20/1.8G vs 14-24/2.8G (D810)

Includes large crops and apertures from wide open through f/8 for all.

Focus shift is a major practical usage consideration, because lens performance is first and foremost about placing the zone of sharpness in the optimal place. No “fine focus adjust” feature compensates for focus shift (well, it could be done some innovation at Nikon that compensates by aperture).

When I’m asked to compare (for example) the Nikon 20/1.8G to the Nikon 14-24/2.8G, it’s an open-ended and demanding task: should the comparison be done focused as 99% of shooters would do (no compensation for focus shift), or to show the best possible results from each? Because the reality is that a predictable lens or camera for focusing (actual focus and focus shift) is the one that delivers the sharpest images most of the time.

  Where does focus go when the lens is stopped down? Nikon D810 + 20mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8, actual pixels
Where does focus go when the lens is stopped down?
Nikon D810 + 20mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8, actual pixels

Roy P writes:

Hi Lloyd, I’ve been looking at your focus shift comparisons between the Nikon 20/1.8 and the 14-24/2.8 lenses.

ince both these are autofocus lenses and neither is designed for manual focusing, wouldn’t the typical use case be AF? In that case, by definition, wouldn’t the AF focus on the subject always? So why sweat the issue, unless one is determined to use these as manual focus lenses?!

DIGLLOYD: yes of course the usual case is AF, and that’s the guaranteed worst case: the lens focuses wide open, then the shot is made stopped down. On a tripod with manual focus, one can at least focus stopped down slightly to mitigate the error. There is never any issue focusing and shooting at the same aperture.

Bitcoin Now Accepted Here

Overseas users in particular (for whom Paypal has been an issue): it is now possible to subscribe and pay with Bitcoin.

Focus Shift Nikon 20/1.8G vs 14-24/2.8

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G at B&H Photo.

Very soon I’ll be posting in DAP an instructive comparison of focus shift with the 20/1.8G vs the 14-24/2.8G (in the review of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G). In my view this is a major factor to consider, because lens performance is first and foremost about focus accuracy; the sharpest lens in the world is not so when focus is off, and no “fine focus adjust” feature compensates for focus shift (well, it could with some innovation at Nikon).

In Guide to Zeiss, the 21/2.8 Distagon will be similarly analyzed.

Apple iMac with 5K Display, Also new MacMini with Dual Thunderbolt 2 Port

More on the late 2014 iMac 5K at MPG.
More on the late 2014 MacMini at MPG.

Diglloyd publications have included the viewing pleasure of UltraHD images for about 18 months now (~3840 wide, 8.3 million pixels). These will fit comfortably on a 5K iMac in their full glory, with room to spare. And thus make me reevaluate my top-end publication size, because a 5K display is 14.7 million pixels, or nearly the entire resolution of many APS-C cameras! Incredible.

  iMac 5K as ordered by MPG
iMac 5K as ordered by MPG

A 4K UltraHD 3840 X 2560 image will easily fit onto an iMac 5K display. The 8.3 million pixels will leave another 6.4 million pixels unused! Click for larger.

  4K UltraHD 3840 X 2560 image as it fits onto an iMac 5K display
4K UltraHD 3840 X 2560 image as it fits onto an iMac 5K display

Bruce Z writes:

Do you think the iMac 5K screen will be able to be profiled as readily as the NEC screens are famous for?

5K images will look great, but we will still need to have the monitor tweak-able with a display calibration system to get the most out of those pixels.

MPG: Any display can be profiled, the question is whether true calibration can be done, or just crummy faux calibration.

Calibration is designating a target output, then adjusting the display itself to match that target as closely as possible, ideally with < 1 delta E accuracy using 14-bit adjustments internal to the display. Contrast that with 8-bit numbers on a video card which are adjusted (mangled) to achieve something “sorta accurate”—that is faux calibration. Ask yourself how 2/3/4/5-bit numbers (dark tones) could ever be properly adjusted: there is no dark gray having value 13.7, only a choice of 13 or 14 (crudely stepped/rounded). OS X graphics drivers are still only 8 bit, not even 10 bit, which makes matters worse.

Once a display is calibrated properly (or faux-calibrated), its actual performance—what it actually produces for the designated target (gamma, grayscale, color, etc)—is characterized with a display profile (profiling).

All iMacs including the new iMac 5K can be profiled, but cannot be calibrated. So the iMac will still have faux calibration along with a shiny screen which is not good for print matching. Beautiful to behold, but not a professional-grade tool, especially over time and temperature changes. For professionals doing work where color accuracy matters (and consistency over time matters), the NEC PA322UHD is a far superior choice.

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G zoom

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G at B&H Photo.

Several readers have asked about the new 20mm f/1.8G versus the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G zoom (bulky and bulbous and heavy), noting the size/weight/filter issues of the zoom.

I don’t look at size and weight as the top issues, though the 20/1.8 is really a joy to carry compared to the 14-24, and that alone is a huge plus for many users. And it takes standard filters. But the 14mm - 18mm range and 24mm range is eminently flexible.

My main issue with the 14-24 is its challenging peripheral-forward and central-rearward focus shift, as I’ve documented in multiple case studies in Making Sharp Images (and in its review). The 14-24 is a very sharp lens, but if sharpness won’t stay where you put it (moves its peak zone by aperture), then it’s often sub-optimal (mediocre) where intended. Particularly at f/5.6 which is a very important aperture for me. The 20/1.8 might have its own quirks, but I don’t have all the answers yet.

  Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G   Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20/1.8G ED
(not to scale)

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 and 50/2 In Hand

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

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

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

I now have the 35/2 and 50/2 Zeiss Loxia lenses in hand. From an ergonomics standpoint alone they are terrific, and these are the lenses I would choose as a Sony A7s/A7/A7R shooter for many purposes.

The Loxia lenses are extremely well built, an entirely better feel in the hand than the plasticky Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8 and 55/1.8 designs.

The manual focus throw of 180° is silky smooth and far superior to the autofocus Sony/Zeiss cousins. With the EVF on the Sony bodies, manual focus should be fast and precise given the excellent “throw” and the smooth feel.

See also the initial coverage of Zeiss Loxia in Guide to Mirrorless.

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

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series at MOD: Multi-Stem Sunflower and Blue Sky

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8 at B&H Photo.

  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20/1.8G ED

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP is a more moderate distance series which complements the MOD series. As with that series, bokeh and rendering style are the focus.

Aperture Series: Multi-Stem Sunflower and Blue Sky (D810)

Includes the ƒ/1.8 - ƒ/11 aperture range in HD and UltraHD sizes as well as large crops across that full range.

  October Sunflower  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8
October Sunflower
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED: Distortion

  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20/1.8G ED

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP are presented two examples and the ACR distortion correction settings for correcting the distortion in the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G.

Nikon 20mm f/1.4G Distortion, and Distortion Correction

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series at MOD: Sunflower Blossom

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8 at B&H Photo.

  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20/1.8G ED

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP is a MOD (minimum object distance) aperture series assessing bokeh and rendering style, because it’s great fun shooting an ultra wide at close range.

Aperture Series: Sunflower Blossom (D810)

Includes the full ƒ/1.8 - ƒ/16 range in HD and UltraHD sizes as well as large crops across that full range.

  October Sunflower  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8
October Sunflower
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8

A First Look at the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8 at B&H Photo.

  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20/1.8G ED

Kicking off my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP:

The aperture series includes the full ƒ/1.8 - ƒ/16 range in HD and UltraHD sizes as well as large crops across that full range.

This particular series was shot at very close range, about 16 inches from the green pumpkin.

  Green and Orange Pumpkins Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/2
Green and Orange Pumpkins
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/2

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED

Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8 at B&H Photo.

I shot the 20mm f/1.8 today on the Nikon D810. A fun lens to be sure.

Coverage soon in DAP.

Update: the 20/1.8G is driving me crazy with pronounced errors in exposure value (EV). In series after series, it is off as much 1.5 stops in some apertures versus others, e.g., ƒ/5.6 @ 1/60 might be a full stop too dark (or more) than ƒ/2.8 @ 1/250. Having only one sample, I cannot know if this is the particular sample, or some general trait. Shooting manually of course, so there can be no error in EV calculation. Fixed ISO, equivalent EV as in my wont when shooting an aperture series.

  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: a Study in Quaking Aspen

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

A wide variety of quaking aspen images with the ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Examples Quaking Aspen Variety (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images, and large crops.

  Brilliant Aspen Looking Towards Bishop CA, September 25, 2014 @ 16:32 Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ1.4
Brilliant Aspen Looking Towards Bishop CA, September 25, 2014 @ 16:32
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ1.4


Sebastian B writes:

These images are among the finest I have seen for quite a while, anywhere.

I feel you have developed an extraordinary sense for the very basics of photography: color, light, sharpness, blur. If I had to describe those pictures with one word, it would be "transparent"—just like standing there and breathing the air. (And I'm sure it's not just the lens!)

DIGLLOYD: I like to blame the lens at least in part, but this past trip I felt especially “tuned in” to my surroundings and perhaps that shows.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: More Field Examples

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

I’ve added some more examples with the ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Examples Yosemite continued (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images, and large crops.

Toggle to compare, click for larger size.

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

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

Toggle to compare, click for larger size.

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

No One Wants to Buy my Leica 35/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH

Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH

I wonder why at $1000 off new, no one wants to buy my Summilux.

My Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH (black) is for sale, the 2010 FLE (latest/current design).

This is the lens with which all my review has been done. Lightly used and in excellent working order with perfect glass.

$4150 in Leica leather case in original box (sells for $5150 new).

Contact me. Buyer pays FedEx insured shipping of choice.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Granite Glacial Polish to Cloud’s Rest

Pre-order: ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver).

A difficult scene in lighting terms, this series complements the 'Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama' example by using a medium-distance focus to study foreground and background bokeh, and how real (actual) depth of field progresses.

Aperture Series: Granite Glacial Polish to Cloud’s Rest (M240)

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

Toggle to compare or click for larger image.

  Granite Glacial Polish to Cloud’s Rest Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/11
Granite Glacial Polish to Cloud’s Rest
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/11

Dr. Bob writes:

Perhaps having grown up in an era where one could take black and white photos and immediately go to your favorite darkroom for developing and printing has caused me to rethink how I process photos. During my high school days in the late 1960's I had access to a fully stocked photo-junky darkroom at a local high school (yes they did exist). At the time I was an avid astro-photographer and the ability to push the ASA in my black and white images was a great advantage.

Today the cost of a D810 and quality lenses puts a ton of camera power in a lot of people's hands. One can get admirable results in color but in the past few years I have been converting many into black and white. One can accomplish this by a few keystrokes but the process of using a variety of filters, gradients and the like makes it even more interesting.

Your image is so much more dramatic in black and white that I didn't realize at first there was a color "toggle."

I suppose the real beauty of the accuracy of a higher MP cam and a killer lens is the ability to eek out the most subtle tonal gradient pixel to pixel and, in so doing, the subtle beauty that one can see with the naked eye. Again, thanks for the black and whites.

DIGLLOYD: I also spent many an hour in the darkroom in high school.

Indeed, digital today eclipses what I could ever do with black and white film, and I love being able to apply filters after making the image as well as having both color and B&W options.

There is a rumored Leica M240 Monochrom (24 megapixels presumably), but it will assuredly cost $8K or so. And based on prior comparisons of the Nikon D800E and the Leica M Monochrom, the D810 will still be on my short list for B&W, not an M240 Monochrom. I expect the D810 to outperform on noise and dynamic range in particular, which for B&W is most important. Resolution will likely be similar.

  Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
High Clouds over Granite Dome
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: I rate it the best M Lens Available

Pre-order: ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver).

Over the past five years I’ve shot nearly all the Leica M lenses, and I own all of the best ones, including the 50/2 APO and the Noctilux and the best M wides.

With further review of the images from my 2 weeks of intensive field use, it is now my view that the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is the best lens available today for the Leica M platform, because it offers a magical combination of sharpness and contrast, f/1.4 speed, gorgeous bokeh, superb control of aberrations, minimal field curvature and no focus shift. In my hands, its ergonomics are also far preferable: I hugely dislike the Leica “tab” focusing, and the Zeiss 1/3 click stops stay firm and distinct with use versus sloppy and loose all too often with Leica M. My comments ignore cost but that the ZM 35/1.4 costs 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 as much as the best Leica M designs is hardly a point to ignore.

Certainly “best” incorporates one’s own preferences and so there is room for some reasoned disagreement here. But if I could shoot only one lens on Leica M, my choice is the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon.

Zeiss offers the 35/1.4 in black or silver. I think it looks terrific in silver, based on firsthand usage, and that’s the finish I’ll likely be buying when it ships in December.

  The best lens for Leica M? Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, available in black or silver finish
The best lens for Leica M?
Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, available in black or silver finish

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama'

Pre-order: ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black) or ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (silver).

An infinity-focus scene is a demanding test where lens weaknesses are seen at their maximum. If present, field curvature, optical asymmetries, etc all pop out like mushrooms after a rain. In my testing over the years, many if not most lenses fail in some way at this test.

The ZM 35/1.4 Distagon exemplifies the very best I have seen for a 35mm lens.

Aperture Series: 'Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama' (M240)

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

Toggle to compare or click for larger image.

  Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Exfoliating Granite and High Cloud Sun Drama
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: More Field Examples

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

More examples with the incredible Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. If you’re a Leica M user, this lens is a must-have.

Examples Yosemite continued (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images, and large crops.

  Granite Glory, Late September Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Granite Glory, Late September
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

6-way Shootout at 35mm: Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, 35/2 Biogon, 35/2.8 C-Biogon, Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2, Leica 35/1.4 Summilux, Leica 35/2 Summicron

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

This 6-way comparison includes extensive commentary on the practical merits of these six lenses using a subject that is revealing of key lens behaviors.

I found it very useful myself, and for anyone considering a 35mm lens for Leica M, I deem it worth the price of Guide to Leica alone for what it reveals.

6-way Shootout at 35mm: Wyman Cabin (M240)

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

Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon   Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon   Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon  
Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II ASPH Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH   Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH
Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon
Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon
Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon
Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II ASPH
Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH
(not to scale)
  Wyman Canyon Cabin Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4
Wyman Canyon Cabin
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4

Big Storage for Video or Photography: 4TB, 5TB, 6TB Hard Drives

Storage prices have been dipping, with 5TB drives now the same cost as 4TB drives.

Details over at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

High capacity hard drive prices
High capacity hard drive prices

Especially used as a RAID-5 (striping + parity for fault tolerance), drive speed with hard drives is now at excellent levels. With a unit like the OWC Thunderbay, it’s possible to run 4 single drives, RAID-5, RAID-1, RAID-0, etc.

5TB hard drive speed
5TB hard drive speed

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: Full MTF Series from f/1.4 - f/16

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

Now up in Guide to Zeiss in the review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: MTF with commentary for the full aperture range from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16.

Performance that sets a new benchmark, a fact that field shots prove over and over again.

  MTF for Zeiss ZF.2 / ZE at infinity with white light, 10/20/40 lp/mm
MTF for Zeiss ZF.2 / ZE at infinity with white light, 10/20/40 lp/mm
MEASURED RESULTS WITH REAL LENS

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Aperture Series 'Rotten Chair'

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

An interior scene showing outstanding sharpness and freedom from color fringing.

Aperture Series: Rotten Chair (M240)

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

  Rotten Chair Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8
Rotten Chair
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/2.8

Email Notifications for Site Content

An email notification service is in place for subscribers. It is opt-in, meaning that unless you ask to be put onto the list, you will not get email notifications of site updates. You can choose daily or weekly updates. Details...

NEC to Offer 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K Display Soon (PA322UHD)

See my review of the 24inch NEC EA244UHD 4K UltraHD display.

My workhorse color calibrated display is the NEC PA302W, the “PA” being the professional color-calibration series.

The NEC 32” MultiSync PA322UHD is due to ship in December, but I hope to have a unit for review in November. A 32-inch display has a viewable image size of 31.5 inches diagonally.

The 32-inch size is important for image editing, because pixels still can be critically assessed (or so I hope), whereas a 24-inch 4K display is so pixel dense that the pixels disappear (gorgeous). But for editing, seeing nuances is important; the larger size makes that much more viable (140 ppi is still dense but much less so than on a 24-inch display).

The PA322UHD has 14-bit internal calibration (true calibration, not faux calibration), so that the color profile for it need do little more than characterize a perfect performance. But alas, Apple OS X to this day does not support 10-bit color (graphics drivers). We are in the age of iPhones, so high-end features on the desktop like 10 bit color were hoped for five years ago by many but have yet to materialize, even as the pace of useless eye candy revisions to the user interface take priority. But the good news is that a display that holds to one delta-E tolerances can still deliver excellent results with 8 bit graphics drivers.

The ultimate in reliable, accurate color.

The 32” MultiSync PA322UHD is the benchmark desktop display for color accurate work, from photography to pre-press to videography.

Featuring a UHD resolution (3840 x 2160) IGZO technology IPS-type panel with wide gamut white LED backlight, this display provides 99.2% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space while consuming less power than comparable displays.

Packed with features and backed by a 4 year warranty with Advanced Exchange, the MultiSync PA322UHD will reliably deliver high quality, accurate images simply and beautifully.

  • Superior screen performance (1000:1 contrast ratio, 3840x2160 UHD native resolution, 350cd/m2 brightness)
  • 14-bit 3D internal programmable lookup tables (LUTs) for calibration
  • Picture in Picture and Picture by Picturemodes increase productivity by displaying two or four sources simultaneously
  • MultiProfiler™ software provides complete control over the five picture modes, including the loading of any ICC profile directly into the monitor for optimal color space matching
  • DisplaySync ProTM controls two computers with only one keyboard and mouse
    Wide connectivity includes two DisplayPort with 10-bit support, four 10-bit HDMI, two DVI-D inputs as well as a USB hub
  • NaViSet Administrator 2: Free software solution that greatly eases administration and management of larger display device installations
  • Available with SpectraViewII Color Calibration Kit (PA322UHD-BK-SV)
  NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
  NEC PA322UHD inputs
NEC PA322UHD inputs

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Examples at ƒ/1.4 in Eastern Sierra and White Mountains

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

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

The images below and more are now presented in HD and UltraHD size with commentary, in Guide to Leica.

Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon: Examples at ƒ/1.4 in Eastern Sierra and White Mountains

Surely the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is one of the finest lenses available for Leica M shooters.

  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Mt Conness Sub-Peak
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Aspen Scrub Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Aspen Scrub
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
  Photographing the Photographer Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Photographing the Photographer
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Green Aspen Trunks Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Green Aspen Trunks, Late September
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Earth Shadow Rises as Black Horse Grazes  Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Earth Shadow Rises as Black Horse Grazes
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
  Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Glowing Yellow Aspen
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Green Moss in Trickle Stream
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Lundy Creek in Late September Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Lundy Creek in Late September
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4

Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Surreal Bristlecones

With the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon, every aperture is excellent in visual impact. Its expansive view and high brilliance suits a wide range of subjects.

I consider this image one of the finest I have ever made of this area. Presented in both color and black and white from ƒ/2.8 through ƒ/16. In Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Surreal Bristlecones at High Altitude, Generations

I’d like to make a large (six foot) print but I’m out of wall space in my small house.

Click for larger image. Toggle to compare.

  Surreal Bristlecones at High Altitude, Generations, White Mountains  Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/8, Zeiss POL
Surreal Bristlecones at High Altitude, Generations, White Mountains
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/8, Zeiss POL

UPDATE on Fujifilm X100 Battery Charging Problem

Fujifilm X100
Fujifilm X100

I reported on the charging problem for the Fujifilm X100 batteries back in late August.

I ordered the $19.95 Watson charger and it immediately charged the battery, no further issues.

See the review of the Fujifilm X100.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Rendering Style Sets New Benchmark

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

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

I am still organizing my trip work, but I will be showing many images from the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. These take time to prepare, and the volume of images is so large that merely choosing from among them is no small task.

I had to send the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon back to Zeiss, but I was loathe to do so: I consider it the most enjoyable lens I’ve yet shot on Leica M; it pulls together so many attributes so well, both optically and operationally. It is unequivocally the star of the ZM lineup. In terms of operational excellence, I rank it above all my Leica M lenses. I greatly prefer its physical characteristics over the Leica M 35m Summilux and Summicron, which feel awkward to my hands by comparison. Stunning on the Leica M240, the pity is that when stopped down slightly, the M240 sensor is the weak link. I have no hesitation in selling my Leica 35mm Summilux, a task no doubt made harder by this post.

More thoughts on the main page of my review.

A few samples are shown below, chosen to show the distinct style at different distances and conditions, though I’ve yet to review many more images shot with it. I’ll be showing these and many more in due time at full HD and UltraHD size in my review in Guide to Leica.

The ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is a rangefinder lens (Guide to Leica), but what a pity that the thick sensor cover glass of Sony A7-family cameras degrades its ultra high grade performance via ray angle (as with all wide angle M lenses). The effects are shown with the complete MTF comparison in the review.

  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Mt Conness Sub-Peak
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Photographing the Photographer Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Photographing the Photographer
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Green Aspen Trunks Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Green Aspen Trunks, Late September
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Glowing Yellow Aspen
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Dusk Settles on Glaciated Landscape
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Green Moss in Trickle Stream
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Glacial Erratic in Stream Bed
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
  Lundy Creek in Late September Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4
Lundy Creek in Late September
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/1.4

Gregory writes :

I downloaded these shots and checked the EXIF info. All were taken at smaller f-stops that f/1.4, contrary to the captions on your blog.

DIGLLOYD: they were also shot with a 0mm lens. BTW, EXIF info can be faked.

Images above are all the wide open f/1.4 frame of a full aperture series for each, which I often shoot, as is my wont. Moreover it should be obvious to skilled eyes that these are shot wide open, as there are a variety of visual cues in every image.

The Leica M cameras cannot know the aperture; it is purely mechanical with no coupling. The camera inserts a semi-random guess (e.g., ƒ/1.4 can record as ƒ/11 or ƒ/16 or some shots on recent trip, ƒ/27). Also, use of a polarizer tends to make the guess go off by 2/3/4 stops in many scenarios in which I shoot. This is a Leica firmware bug which debuted with the Leica M8 and has never been fixed: an uncoded lens records as 0mm, and similarly an unknown aperture ought to record as ƒ/0, rather than a wildly variable guess. Blind squirrels do find acorns, but not often.

Victims of Drought: Trout

The September 27 storm came ten days too late for these trout in a Yosemite drainage. In 25 years of visiting this area, I had never seen water levels this low. These fish survived in an absurdly small and shallow pool until September 18th, their day of demise.

I came upon these trout in late afternoon (more than shown); trout fade in color after dying, so they had been dead only a few hours at most. Two smaller ones remained alive in 0.5 inches of water or so; I rescued them to a nearby pool; one revived and one did not.

Returning up-canyon about 2 hours later at dusk, there were no trout to be seen but there were big wet happy bear footprints on the nearby granite. An easy meal.

  Expired Brook and Rainbow trout Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
Expired Brook and Rainbow trout
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

Spot the Rams

The best way to see Bighorn Sheep is to listen for falling rocks; the sheep tend to constantly knock down small rocks on steep slopes as they move. Once heard, the eye can zero in. Otherwise they are extremely well camouflaged in their habitat.

Can you spot them? Even to the naked eye they were difficult to see unless moving. The lead ram has a good size curl, though not a full curl. The one behind has a good size curl but not quite as full.

They were closer when I spotted them, but it took a few minutes to get the 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar out to make the image, the longest lens I had with me.

Click for a crop larger view and a crop.

According to a local contact living nearby, the Forest Service repudiated the presence of Bighorn Sheep in this area for years, in spite of being told that the sheep were seen nearly every day. I am told there is a study program in place now.

  Bighorn Sheep Rams Traversing Steep Slope Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar
Bighorn Sheep Rams Traversing Steep Slope
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: First USA Shipments at Dealers Today

  Zeiss ZF.2 Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss ZF.2 Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

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

In Guide to Zeiss: in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar.

According to Zeiss USA, the first shipments of the new Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar should arrive at dealers starting today or tomorrow.

The 55mm and 85mm Otii are not for everyone; they are manual focus with a silky-smooth long focus throw similar to cine lenses—no better feel is available.

They are also large and heavy. But if you wish for the very best results ever available on a DSLR (or rangefinder), the Otii are the lenses to have.

What’s next for the Zeiss Otus line? Here I have only a speculation to offer: a 28mm f/1.4. But I could see 25mm or 35mm being targeted next. A 28mm Otus is my first choice, but I’d be nearly as happy with a 21mm or 25mm. I would not be grumpy about a 35mm focal, but breaking into real wide angle territory would please many, I am sure.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar: Flare Control

From wide open to stopped down, images like this are possible with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar. The sun can be in the frame, just outside the edge or corner and the results remain superb. Not flare-free; but best of breed, by far.

In Guide to Zeiss, see Flare and Sunstars with Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar.

  Sun and Clouds  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/8
Sun and Clouds
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/8
  Dual Sunstar Bristlecone Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/8
Dual Sunstar Bristlecone
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/8

Flare control and high contrast go hand in hand at times.

  First Light on High Peaks Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8
First Light on High Peaks
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar @ ƒ/2.8

Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Brilliance and 3D Feel

With the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon, every aperture is excellent. The 15/2.8 Distagon offers a brilliance and contrast just not there with competitors. The expansive view is just right for certain types of outdoor shooting, and the lens offers optical performance no less good than the Leica 18mm f/3.8 SEM, but wider.

I shot extensively for two weeks on my recent trip, and merely labeling folders will take some hours. But randomly poking around, this image caught my attention as something unusual, with a look to me captures the moonscape other-worldly surreal feel of the high altitude White Mountains. 'Straight' conversion here; nothing extra done.

Click for larger image.

  Ancient Bristlecone Pines, White Mountains Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/11
Ancient Bristlecone Pines, White Mountains
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/11 Zeiss POL
  Glacial Polish, Yosemite Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/8
Glacial Polish, Yosemite
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ f/8

US National Forest Service (NFS) Proposes Restrictive Permits for Still Photography on Public Lands: $1000 Fine for Taking a Picture?

Well, when I read something like this, I almost feel like crying. I hardly recognize my country any more, but this hits home.

See:

From “7 things”:

This isn't just about the media. The policy applies to documentary film crews, nonprofits and private citizens who might use a photo or video to sell something or earned a salary while in the wilderness area. They'd need a special permit first.

Add your comment on the NFS plan at the NFS we site.

Scary stuff. Particularly for me, since I love photographing in the wilderness. This is just the foot in the door; “clarify” is Orwellian doublespeak leading to nastier things later. The NFS can bide its time after all. Moreoever, what is clear to Ranger Rick mighty be unclear to Ranger Jane or Ranger Bob; it gives such personnel the right to harass anyone anytime with a camera (or iPhone or Google Glass or GoPro or whatever). A surefire recipe for abuse and harrassment: traditionally (police) need only a flimsy pretense and this is no different in its ugly risks.

There is simply no need for such regulations; shooting truck commercials with a crew is one thing (to use an example), the other 99.999% is a grotesque power grab.

NFS proposal. Since prose and practice differ and are modified by bureaucrats (“interpreted”) once approved, rules only get tighter and tighter over time unless a public outcry results after enough casualties. The “backing off” was almost certainly a negotiating ploy to force into place rules to start, a trial balloon to see what sticks*, to see just how far the power and authority might be extended on the first effort. The noose can then be steadily tightened over time, incrementally. That’s how it works.

* “We took public input and compromised to address concerns” (standard boilerplate weasel words) = “We made an outrageous proposal so that plenty of leverage remains after the really outrageous stuff was watered down, and thus we are nice guys for compromising”.

The only acceptable answer is to drop the whole inane proposal, and to fire those responsible for allowing such ugly proposals to surface. But only one person I know has that kind of influence. Still, he has a phone.

Who is the press and what is a camera and which pictures are personal and which are news and which are commercial and many more questions arise. Which means that the hapless person taking a picture can be threatened at will by Ranger Rick. Use a tripod, get a fine?

Public lands are not fiefdoms for bureaucrats to wallow in, but a critical public resource for a wide variety of users and uses. Public. The very idea of restricting photography on public lands shows a intellecual disconnect with an activity having arguably not just zero impact but a positive one. But of course these proposed rules are a naked grab for power begetting the need for more money, more personnel, etc. They have nothing to do with protecting lands or public benefit.

The NFS and BLM lands here in the USA offer wide open spaces in which one can wander and enjoy through the outdoors. Where else can one go for such experiences? National Parks are heavily restricted and are surely nice, but do not offer the same opportunities. But to see photography proposed as a restricted activity is deeply disturbing (this is not about ATV usage here!), but it is deeper than that, since the sense of freedom on such lands could quickly become lost as more and more activities require permits. A permit for breathing, peeing, and pooping come next. Don’t laugh.

Note that while I enjoy wilderness areas, I’ve long opposed creation of new ones, because such areas are now used as political bludgeons to further extremist agendas (e.g. to deny access to a wide variety of uses and users not meeting the approval of extremist environmentalists). This is happening right now in the Eastern Sierra, with a proposed patchwork quilt of new wilderness areas designed expressly to deny access to areas containing established critical resources such as tungsten. Areas clearly not wilderness. The Pine Creek area I enjoy is on that list, and I hope the addition fails.

Over the years, I see (in the Eastern Sierra) symptoms of the spreading disease not all of which I can articulate here: steadily increasing closures of long-established roads (including some I’ve enjoyed), labeling roads as “trails” so as to close them, intimidation lawsuits against owners exercising decades-old legal rights to maintain access to private property, forced removal of historically notable mining structures (Pine Creek), blockage of green energy projects (Pine Creek 1.2 MW turbine having no above-ground impact), NFS personnel in full SWAT-team regalia). Talk to locals in the Eastern Sierra; you won’t find many (or any) fans of the NFS or NPS. The NFS now seeks to extend its scope via regulatory processes; such things only grow like kudzu, and never shrink. As I see it, the NFS has become a festering sore on public lands, its mission debased and corrupted from core values long established. These proposed regulations in context are no surprise at all.

NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) note

On September 25, 2014, the U.S. Forest Service issued Proposed Regulation FSH 2709.11, Chapter 40, which would impose the requirement of permits and fees in circumstances that could substantially limit photographers' access to Federal lands under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. Since so many NANPA members photograph on Federal lands, this was particularly troublesome to us.

Today, NANPA, together with the following organizations, joined in sending a letter to Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, to express their concerns about these new proposed rules.

American Society of Media Photographers
American Society of News Editors
Associated Press
Associated Press Media Editors
Associated Press Photo Managers
Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Digital Media Licensing Association
National Newspaper Association
National Press Photographers Association
Radio Television Digital News Association
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Environmental Journalists

The Forest Service comment period has been extended to November 3, 2014, and we anticipate that further comments will be submitted in an effort to make rules less restrictive for photographers.

DIGLLOYD: a negotiating position that splits the difference is a disastrous approach: “less restrictive” and “for photographers”? That is a fool’s game. The goal should be complete repudiation of the proposed rules and political pressure on the authorities involved at NFS (demand their resignation).

Returning from Trip

  Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M  

Heading back after a fruitful trip to (first) Yosemite and then Eastern Sierra and White Mountains areas. I shot the new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon extensively in the field, along with its two slower Zeiss ZM 35mm siblings and the Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II and the Leica M 35/1.4 and Leica 35mm f/2.

The best weather was Sunday morning, with an ethereal and ephemeral coating of powder snow on the Sierra, and a heavy blanket on the White Mountains. Not rising at dawn after the previous day’s sullen storm due to minor (sinus) illness after the first day of the Everest Challenge, I staved off the sinus issue, but I did miss the best shooting of the year that morning. Alas, weather and body/health do not always cooperate. But I shot some pleasing shots nonetheless, getting going around 8:30 AM.

On this trip, I also shot more material with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar, which is a rewarding lens at every aperture and every kind of lighting, clearly the best lens ever produced for a DSLR or rangefinder.

As shown below, the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 delivers outstanding results wide open at ƒ/1.4. It feels almost Otus-like in its quality, though it is not at Otus level (but this is not to say it falls short of any Leica M offering, nor are any f/1.4 lenses but the two Otii at Otus level!).

  Sunrise Over High Peaks at Pine Creek Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Sunrise Over High Peaks at Pine Creek
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

The contrast and sharpness at f/1.4 are first class with the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, and with exceptional sharpness across the field with minimal field curvature. The lens vignetting at f/1.4 dovetailed nicely with the dramatic light and shadow of this early morning image.

  Early Morning Light Drama at Pine Creek Tungsten Mine Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Early Morning Light Drama at Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Leica M Typ 240: Operational Reliability in the Field

Shooting in the field with the Leica M240 remains an operational chore due to inane menu design and low-res center-focus-only EVF functionality. One need only shoot a Nikon D810 to see so many better characteristics which are so obviously fixable on the M240.

Be that as it may, eighteen months after its introduction the M240 still shows itself to still be an unreliable tool when the camera has to work. It malfunctioned repeatedly every day, including camera lockups requiring power cycling the camera (and loss of the image) and (once) a complete lockup requiring battery removal. On some days, the lockups were every 20th shot or so. It is infuriating to lose shots due to camera malfunction, but 18 months have not fixed the M240 firmware, and this body is the replacement for my 1st lemon.

Carlos V writes:

I've sent my M240 back twice for the lockups and because there were spots in the sensor. Both times it took over a month to get the camera back and to this day (about a year and a half as well) I get lock ups frequently. I lose images because of that too. It is not only frustrating but in a way embarrassing when using this camera in a professional setting and it keeps failing and locking up. Very sad indeed.

DIGLLOYD: for the past two weeks, shooting nearly every day, my M240 locked up regularly, at least 1 in 30 shots, sometimes more frequently, sometimes a bit less. It seems to involve the EVF (I never use the rangefinder any more), and might involve particular operational sequences.

Gary M writes:

Ditto for me as well. It seems to happen when using the EVF. I've narrowed the issue down to pressing the Play button while the just taken image is still being displayed in the EVF.

In other words, using the EVF, an image has been shot and that image preview (or rather "post-view") is displayed on the EVF and while still being displayed, I press the Play button on the back of the camera… total freeze-up and I shut the camera off (actually I turn the switch to Off but it's non-responsive due to the freeze) and then I have to remove the grip and then the battery, reinsert the battery and then turn the camera back on. Then the M240 is ready once again to frustrate in its operation but delight in its images.

The freeze up doesn't happen every time but often enough. If it doesn't happen, the next usual result (in the above sequence) is for the camera to "automatically" switch to LV mode (without my having pressed the LV button).

DIGLLOYD: I’ve had other rather vague emails reporting “no problems” (no specifics on usage), but it seems to me that the common thread is the EVF and perhaps certain operational sequences.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon In the Field

The new Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is a joy to focus wide open, and its results at ƒ/1.4 are outstanding. I’ve been shooting it for over a week now, also its two siblings and the Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II and the Leica M 35/1.4 and 35/2.

My emphasis is on covering the ZM 35/1.4, but naturally its place among those other lenses and the relative merits of all of them are a secondary goal. Many lens characteristics matter including sharpness and contrast, flare control, flatness of field and so on.

It’s very hard to cover six 35mm lenses, but I expect to have some good insights shooting on the Leica M240

  Aspen Scrub Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Aspen Scrub
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
  White Clouds in White Mountains Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
White Clouds in White Mountains
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
  Earth Shadow Rises as Black Horse Grazes  Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
Earth Shadow Rises as Black Horse Grazes
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/1.4
  Fading Sunglow over White Mountain Peak Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/5
Fading Sunglow over White Mountain Peak
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/5

diglloyd Inc. | FTC Disclosure | PRIVACY POLICY | Trademarks | Terms of Use | Copyright © 2008-2014 diglloyd Inc, all rights reserved. | Contact