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30 day blog index

This Weekend Only: “Everything Deal” for 0.8 Bitcoin

This weekend only: the “everything deal” (US$249.99) for 0.8 Bitcoin.

Use coinbase.com/diglloyd.

Please send a follow-up email to indicate what was purchased.

Already a subscriber to anything? Same deal for 0.7 Bitcoin, plus all existing time on prior subscriptions will be added on, and expiration dates synced for all.

The easiest way to get Bitcoin and handle it security is to create an account at Coinbase.com. (I also very strongly suggest using two-factor authentication via Authy, which runs on your iPhone or similar). Like Paypal and banks, you have to be verified, etc. See also Bitcoin price and volume graphs.

Sony Kolarivision A7R.MOD: Performance with Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH

See the prior posts: Sony A7R: Sensor Glass Thickness, Ray Angle and Image Degradation: Kolarivision Modification and also Modified Sony A7R Sensor Glass: Impact on Rangefinder Lens Performance.

The Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH is a dimunitive jewel with very low distortion. But even on Sony NEX (APS-C sensor), it had its issues. But on the Kolarivision A7R.MOD it offers a nice boost in quality over an unmodified Sony A7R.

In Guide to Leica:

Sensor Cover Glass: Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH on Stock vs Modified Sony A7R (Mosaic)

Includes HD images up to 4320 pixels across the f/2 - f/11 aperture range as well as HD crops from both the the stock A7R and Kolarivision A7R.MOD can be easily compared. With commentary.

Feb 2015 National Geographic Magazine: “Healing Our Soldiers” — Powerful Tragic Images

The Feb 2015 National Geographic article “Healing Our Soldiers” is a powerful article. In particular, the photograph of Army Maj Jeff Hall with his family held me riveted. It is a simple image, but incredibly personal and deeply moving, heartbreaking in its emotional intensity. Being taken on home ground, it eloquently captures the personal tragedies of war, which injure far beyond the soldier. I salute the courage of that entire family in allowing the photograph to be taken and published. And I feel grateful to live in peace protected by such heroes.

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

What the big companies cannot or will not take on, creative folks out there are inventing all kinds of stuff. Here’s a multi-purpose camera trigger kickstarter project that can triggered by just about anything: light, sound, movement, temperature, wind or flatulence (OK, I made that last one up, but should be possible). Much more at this URL:

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

CamsFormer – Next Generation TimeLapse, DSLR remote, High Speed Trigger, /w Pan/Tilt/Zoom

PEMBROKE PINES, Florida-January 7, 2015-CamsFormer has launched on KickStarter, CamsFormer is the next generation in DSLR camera accessory that combines timelapse, bulb ramping, remote camera control, remote live view, high speed triggering, sensors, and pan/tilt/zoom all in one wireless device controlled from your smart phone, tablet, or computer.

CamsFormer transforms cameras into lean mean photography machines. CamsFormer is the worlds first device to combine so many features into a single compact device.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/969220052/camsformer-high-speed-triggeringwireless-camera-co

CamsFormer is currently trending on KickStarter, over 700% funded with a ship date of June 2015

CamsFormer plugs into the USB port and cable release port of your camera, and can independently connect to and trigger two other cameras and two other flashes.

CamsFormer shows a real-time live view of your cameras view finder remotely from the app on your smart device. It can wirelessly change a wide range of camera settings including ISO, White Balance, Shutter Speed, Aperture, and even adjust the camera focus remotely from the app.

While shooting, pictures taken by the camera are wirelessly uploaded saved and viewed on the app, this includes both JPG and RAW images. It has a picture buffer that allows you to shoot rapidly while pictures are queued up and uploaded in the background. CamsFormer has an infinity camera memory mode that allows you to take pictures forever without running out of camera memory.

CamsFormers built in timelapse function allows you to change camera settings during the timelapse, for example you can change the exposure after each shot to adjust for lighting conditions, bulb ramping, or even change the ISO, white balance or other settings after each shot to adjust for different conditions or for added creativity.

CamsFormer has built-in 3-axis motion control that lets you wirelessly control camera pan/tilt/zoom from the app, or use it during a timelapse or video recording. DIY to use it to control motorized sliders, or dollies, to allow sliding, panning, and tilting all at the same time.

CamsFormer has built in 4 high speed triggering channels that can independently trigger two cameras and two flashes using built in sensors for light, lightning, laser, sound, and motion. The high speed trigger uses the sensors to detect external events, which are then used to trigger your camera within microseconds, much faster than your human reflexes, helping you take more creative pictures, or to help automate or control your camera picture taking or video recording.

For example the motion sensor can be used as a wildlife camera trigger trap. It can sit and wait for hours, automatically triggering your camera to take a picture or start a video recording when it detects motion in the area, from possibly a bird, or an animal, helping you get great shots of that elusive species of tiger nobody has seen in 10 years for example.

The sound sensor can be used to trigger your camera when it detects a sound. For example it can wait for the sound of firecracker, fireworks, or any other event that generates a sound, then triggers your camera within microseconds to take pictures of events the instant it happens, like taking picture of a lightning bolt using the light sensor, or water droplets.

CamsFormer even has its own scripting programming language developed especially for photography. The scripting language lets photographers control the camera, triggering, sensors, and pan/tilt/zoom anyway they want, easily adding new features themselves that they need, simply by writing a simple script. For example a simple script can be written that takes a picture, then changes the ISO and white balance, take another picture, change the shutter speed, take another picture, pan the camera, then start a video recording for 30 seconds, then take another 5 pictures, etc. The script can read any of the sensors, and set up custom triggering scenario. Scripting allows the photographer to automate their picture taking by giving CamsFormer a set of steps they want it to do automatically. This is the only product that has this capability on the market today.

CamsFormer can be used by both professional and armature photographers, for different types of photography, such as high speed photography, sports, action, aerial, pole, architectural, real estate, commercial, landscape, studio, wild life, astronomy, stop motion, portraits, macro, HDR, even DIY for experimental photography

The CamsFormer project on kickstarter is seeking backers to help fund its production. Its campaign will end in only a couple of weeks as of this writing.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/969220052/camsformer-high-speed-triggeringwireless-camera-co

eMail: info@comp-hx.com Twitter: @CamsFormer

Lexar 2000X SDXC Card

The Lexar 2000X SDXC rocks for card download. Testing shows speeds up to 300 MB/sec using the supplied USB3 card reader (also a still very good but “slow” ~150 MB/sec in regular USB3 card reader). [when copying to fast internal SSD, the card read speed is too fast for any hard drive to keep up with].

The most reliable and fastest CompactFlash card I’ve used is the Toshiba Exceria Pro—not one glitch ever.

I hugely prefer high-capacity cards (64GB) because in the field there is no need to erase them, thus they are an additional backup over and above downloading the day’s shoot (and backing that up too). Aside from cost, I’d be buying 128GB or larger cards for that resason, but for now 64GB serves me amply for most of my trips (not filling up).

Sony Kolarivision A7R.MOD: Performance with Zeiss ZM 21mm f/4.5 C-Biogon (a worst case)

See the prior posts: Sony A7R: Sensor Glass Thickness, Ray Angle and Image Degradation: Kolarivision Modification and also Modified Sony A7R Sensor Glass: Impact on Rangefinder Lens Performance.

The Zeiss ZM 21/4.5 C-Biogon is a worst-case lens for digital sensors: its 44.4° chief ray angle is the least friendly to a digital sensor of all the Zeiss ZM lenses; even on the Leica M bodies its color shading is problematic.

In Guide to Leica:

Sensor Cover Glass: Zeiss ZM 21/4.5 C-Biogon on Stock vs Modified Sony A7R (Mosaic)

Includes HD images up to 4320 pixels across the f/2 - f/11 aperture range as well as HD crops from both the the stock A7R and Kolarivision A7R.MOD can be easily compared. With commentary.

Sony Kolarivision A7R.MOD: Performance with Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH

See the prior posts: Sony A7R: Sensor Glass Thickness, Ray Angle and Image Degradation: Kolarivision Modification and also Modified Sony A7R Sensor Glass: Impact on Rangefinder Lens Performance.

This 2-way comparison demolishes the idea that a 50mm rangefinder lens is free from the damaging effects of ray angle, a fact sshown 9 months ago in the 50/2 APO mosaic aperture series. But the A7R.MOD versus stock A7R can leave no doubt.

In Guide to Leica:

Sensor Cover Glass: 50/2 APO-Summicron-M on Stock vs Modified Sony A7R (Mosaic)

Includes HD images up to 4320 pixels across the f/2 - f/11 aperture range as well as HD crops from both the the stock A7R and Kolarivision A7R.MOD can be easily compared. With commentary.

Modified Sony A7R Sensor Glass: Impact on Rangefinder Lens Performance

See the prior post: Sony A7R: Sensor Glass Thickness, Ray Angle and Image Degradation: Kolarivision Modification.

Today I shot the modified Sony A7R (“SonyA7R.mod”) against a stock Sony A7R, using six rangefinder lenses (these links are general info on these lenses, shooting results pending):

Every one of these lenses is affected by ray angle (including the 50/2 APO). The effects include substantial loss of resolution in outer zones (mostly due to severe astigmatism caused by the sensor cover glass), but also strong magenta color shading (vignetting by color).

In each case, the A7R.mod improved matters substantially. That’s the good news. The less good news is that color shading remains more or less the same.

NOTE: as per the “which guide” policy for the past 2-3 years, lens coverage goes into the native guide, regardless of the shooting platform. These are all rangefinder lenses for the Leica M platform and (US$20K of lenses at that), thus performance analysis goes into Guide to Leica. The Leica M context also offers commentary in context of the available reference material on each lens when shot on the native camera (Leica M), something lost when split across guides and one of the several compelling reasons for “lenses in their respective native guides”.

Sony A7R: Sensor Glass Thickness, Ray Angle and Image Degradation: Kolarivision Modification

Just arrived from Kolarivision is a Sony A7R in which the sensor cover glass has been replaced with significantly less thick glass. See A Thinner Sensor Stack at LensRentals.com for some background info.

I’ll be shooting this modified camera this weekend, with a report to follow.

The thick sensor cover glass has meant that rangefinder lenses (Leica M, Zeiss ZM, Voigtlander) have had severely degraded performance outside (roughly) the central 1/2 of the frame, due to ray angle, as reported on for years, and documented extensively on this site.

General issues from sensor glass

From Astigmatism and Digital Sensors in Making Sharp Images. Here, “glass plate” means the sensor cover glass.

  • The main impact of an added glass plate to more oblique rays is the introduction of severe astigmatism in the imaging field. The tangential image surface is shifted forward while the sagittal is minimally affected.
  • Astigmatism means a highly non-symmetric point image, not just being softer but killing the similarity between object and image structures. Often the blur resembles the effects of motion blur which can produce “cross-eyed” or double-image bokeh (very unappealing to the eye, downright ugly).
  • On axis the added plate changes the correction towards ‘spherically overcorrected’ when the lens speed is fast, which produces less pleasing background bokeh.
  • In general the sensor cover glass plate shifts the position of the image by about a third of the plate thickness – and that is the point where the dispersion of the plate itself comes into the game, since in the imaging field with oblique rays a longitudinal shift is always connected to a lateral shift. This effect modifies the lateral chromatic correction of the lens.

See also

Terrific Deal: HOYA 82mm HMC Polarizer

Yes, I prefer (and own) a Zeiss 82mm circular polarizer.

By it’s hard to beat $59.95 for a Hoya 82mm Circular Polarizer Super-HMC Thin Filter plus free shipping (deal ends midnight on Jan 14). So I bought one as a spare (I break 1 or 2 polarizers per year, dropping them on rocks and such).

With a 77mm - 82mm filter ring (and others), and 82mm polarizer can do double or triple duty on many wide angle lenses. The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II and 24-70mm f/2.8L II zooms uses 82mm as does the Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH Aperture Series: Bleached Bristlecone Logs at Blue Dusk

In Guide to Leica:

Aperture Series 50/2 APO: Bleached Bristlecone Logs at Blue Dusk(M240)

This series shows the 50/2 APO under very difficult high mountain twilight lighting (very blue), on subject matter chosen to reveal any color correction weakness.

  Bleached Bristlecone Logs at Blue Dusk;
Bleached Bristlecone Logs at Blue Dusk
f2.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 200; 2014-09-24 18:24:43
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Apo-Summicron-M 1:2/50 ASPH

Reader Questions: Fujifilm X system, Sony A7x Discounting and 4K Video, Arca Swiss Cube Geared Head

See gear page for mirrorless for Fujifilm X, Sony A7 series.

B&H: Two readers wrote asking about material I had covered. Please join the site updates mailing list (daily or weekly) if not following the blog regularly.

  Wyman Canyon Cabin Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4
Fujifilm X-T1

Elaine D writes:

I know you didn’t like the vibration on the A7 series cameras or the smearing blurry files on the Fuji X-E1, but I wondered if you have tried the Fuji X-T1 or the Sony A7II?

Supposedly the shutter vibration is fixed in that camera, and the X-T1 is raved on by a zillion people. Have you tried either and what was you view? I didn’t see it in the Mirrorless section so am assuming you didn’t review them?

DIGLLOYD: there never was any vibration issue with the Sony A7, A7 II or A7s; these all have an electronic 1st curtain shutter (EFC shutter). The A7R shutter vibration ruined a lot of my work over the past year, and its issues are thoroughly proven in my work, and mitigation options are also discussed (weight or pressure on top of hot shoe, e.g. a large flash or similar). In the field, I have used downward pressure on the hot shoe to mitigate. The vibration peaks at 1/125 second BTW.

I covered the Fujifilm X-T1 with the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 some time ago (lovely lens). The about $999 Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 is the best lens Fujifilm makes, I give it my top rating. It would be the first lens I would be for a Fujifilm X system, and might justify the system all by itself.

The Fujifilm X images (all cameras) are lovely overall (see Fujifilm X review coverage), but 16 megapixels is entirely uninteresting for my work, even if one ignores that fact that real pixel level detail is not there due to the oddball sensor design. The sensor design delivers fractal like emphasis on contours, which our human visual system responds nicely to, but it cannot be confused for natural or actual detail in real subjects, and is heavily artifacted on some subjects (some raw converters attempt to minimize this, but it does not go away, and ACR is a de facto necessity for many).

The X-T1 sensor does not change these behaviors. A excellent camera body design and wide ranging lens line is presumably why users like Fujifilm, but an under-resolving sensor with artifacting issues is of no particular interest to me; building up such a system with a few lenses approaches Nikon D810 territory, and I can’t see the point there unless it is single-issue driven (e.g. modest weight/size savings). Moreover, investing in an APS-C lens lens is unattractive for even the medium term.

  Wyman Canyon Cabin Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4
Sony trade-in and rebate program

Roy P writes

All Sony E-mount FF cameras are now being discounted, except the new A7-II. Usually, you see this kind of thinly veiled discounting just before new models come out.

Not surprising that the original A7 and the A7R are being discounted, but I was surprised to see the A7S is included in this as well. This has been out only about 6 months.

I need some 4K video solution, and I’m thinking of the A7S + the Shogun recorder – that looks like the best bet (full-size sensor + uses a lot of the lenses I already have).

This discounting is good and bad – this means I can trade in my old NEX-5 body for $375. But OTOH, there’s likely to be a new A7S model coming out. So I’m trying to decide if I should buy the A7S now or wait for its successor.

Even if there’s a refresh to the A7S, it will probably not include direct 4K recording – Sony already said the A7S body is too small to accommodate that, which is why an external recorder is needed.

So the most significant new feature in an A7S-ii is likely to be IBIS. But if I’m shooting video for anything longer than a few seconds, I’d use either a tripod or at least, set the camera down somewhere. So I don’t see IBIS adding a lot for videography.

So that makes me think I might as well go for the current A7S now. Any thoughts?

DIGLLOYD: I would not buy an A7 series now without the built-in sensor stabilization. See my testing of the Sony A7 II in which my focus was on the image stabilization feature. It ought to be considered mandatory on all cameras by the end of this year. It will be interesting to see how Nikon and Canon respond. IMO sensor stabilization is far superior to optical stabilization; for one thing the lens design need not be compromised, and for another, any and all lenses are stabilized. But I doubt that A7R shutter vibration would be helped by the technology, so a future A9 or whatever it will be might well require a vibration free shutter.

  Wyman Canyon Cabin Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ ƒ/4
Arca Swiss Cube C1 geared head
(with Really Right Stuff clamp)

Caso F writes:

After reading your advice on the Cube and having experimented difficulties to perfectly frame architectural subjects with a RRS ball head, I have decided to buy the Cube. Now I have two questions:

1) Do you advice me to buy a RRS 33 or 24L to mount it ? I generally shot long exposures with mirrorless cameras (A7, NEX-6) and lenses up to 100mm

2) From a few posts on your blog I have figured out that you made fall the Cube at least twice … did it slip from the tripod? do you advice to use Loctite or the Cube fits well without Loctite on RRS tripods? I’d prefer not to use Loctite in order to choose every time the head to mount but I wouldn’t risk to crash both head and attached camera…

DIGLLOYD: The Really Right Stuff TVC 24L is ample for the Sony A7, and I like the height, which is eminently useful in the field, and also can help with architecture for a better perspective.

Damage to the Arca Swiss Cube tripod head: tripod gets knocked over, hammers the head; the gearing takes the hit, notching the gears (repairable). Do not use Loctite on the head.

Email Notifications for Site Content: Option Also for MacPerformanceGuide

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. Daily or weekly updates. Details...

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

Order Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon for Leica M at B&H Photo. See also gear pages for other Leica M cameras / lenses.

This massive 6-way comparison includes extensive commentary on the practical merits of these six lenses using a subject that is revealing of key lens behaviors. It is also particularly useful for evaluating bokeh.

Taken at close range, this series is an ideal complement to the prior 6-way Wyman Cabin comparison. Together, these two comparisons are surely themselves alone worth the price of Guide to Leica alone for anyone researching a 35mm lens for Leica M.

6-way Shootout at 35mm: Aspen Trunk (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images ƒ/1.2 - ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/13 - ƒ/16 along with large crops.

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 and 35mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH
(not to scale)
  Aspen Trunk;
Aspen Trunk
f4 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 200; 2014-09-24 16:08:55
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

FOR SALE: Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH

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

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

Lightly used and in excellent working order with perfect glass. USA lens (not gray market).

$3900 in Leica leather case in original box (currently sells for $5250 new or $4900 new with the $250 instant rebate at B&H).

Contact me. Buyer pays FedEx insured shipping of choice.

HOORAY! Nikon First to (finally) offer a True RAW Histogram!

Order: Nikon D810 DSLR.

Assuming it does what it sounds like, my wish for a true raw histogram has been granted, and on the best DSLR ever made no less.

For photographers using Nikon RAW (NEF) mode, the most exciting new feature is Nikon’s new RAW Histogram. This feature displays impressive full-screen histograms for all 3 color channels (red, green and blue) simultaneously, based on data directly from the image sensor.

The new feature allows advanced photographers to fine-tune perfect exposure for each shot. RAW Histogram is available for all cameras in the “I AM Advancing” program.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar Aperture Series “Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises”

Order: Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar. Loxia lenses shipping soon here in USA.
The Loxia are very well built lenses with excellent feel and real manual focusing. Highly recommended.

A full f/2 through f/13 aperture series on a deep 3D subject:

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

  Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises
Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises
f5.6 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 80; 2014-10-29 17:50:28
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon: f/2 vs f/13 in “Approaching Storm Over Lake”

Order: Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon. Loxia lenses shipping soon here in USA.
The Loxia are very well built lenses with excellent feel and real manual focusing. Highly recommended.

Examples with the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon on the Sony A7R:

Approaching Storm Over Lake, Hoover Wilderness (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

  Approaching Storm Over Lake, Hoover Wilderness
Approaching Storm Over Lake, Hoover Wilderness
f13 @ 30.0 sec, ISO 64; 2013-10-26 18:20:54
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon on Sony A7R: Sierra Nevada and White Mountains Examples

Order: Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon . Loxia lenses shipping soon here in USA.
The Loxia are very well built lenses with excellent feel and real manual focusing. Highly recommended.

Examples with the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon on the Sony A7R:

Examples: Eastern Sierra Nevada, White Mountains (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and many large crops.

UPDATE: added another image in black and white and color versions (“Last light on Cathedral Peak”), a very nice demonstration of just how good the Loxia 35/2 Biogon can be for landscape shooting.

  Pine on Lee Vining Creek, Morning
Pine on Lee Vining Creek, Morning
f8 @ 1/4 sec, ISO 100; 2013-10-25 09:56:05
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Lens Rendering Aperture Series: Rocky Hillside

Order: Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (black or silver)

The ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is due very soon here in the USA, so order one now if you’re hoping to get one anytime soon: this is the best ZM lens ever produced. I’m ordering on with the gorgeous silver finish.

This series is plain in subject matter, but it has several instructive goals:

  • Showing how the 35/1.4 Distagon images across the field.
  • Showing how much stopping down is needed for a scene like this to render sharply from foreground to background.
  • Showing EV-matched relative illumination across the aperture range, including the sky as is typical for outdoor use.

The subject chosen is ideal in the way it slants through the zone of focus, and offering a near and a far zone along with very fine detail throughout.

Aperture Series: Rocky Hillside (M240)

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

  Rocky Hillside; Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/2
Rocky Hillside
Leica M Typ 240 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon @ f/2

Sony A7 II: Does a 2 Second Self Timer Deliver a Useful Hit Rate at 1/8 Second?

The portrait examples benefitted from an ideal shooting position/stance. But what about bending over, crouching, squatting: where can image stabilization take you when the shooter’s body is not as stable as the ideal scenario?

Sensor Image Stabilization at 1/8 Sec at Night, Self Timer Handheld

f/1.8 @ 1/8 sec handheld; ISO 100, actual pixels; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/1.8 @ 1/8 sec handheld; ISO 100, actual pixels
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Sparkling Lake (Point Spread Function, Aberrations, Sunstars)

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.

Nikon 20/1.8G Aperture Series: Sparkling Lake (D810)

This series is superb in showing the point spread function of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G. The crops show in a compelling way why aperture f/4 is the peak aperture.

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

The 20/1.8G is Nikon’s best wide angle. At about $797, it’s a steal for what it delivers.

  Sparkling Lake; Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/13
Sparkling Lake
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/13

Reviewed: LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display

See also my review of the NEC 4K Ultra HD PA322UHD Professional Display.

Order LG 31MU97-B 31-inch 4K display at B&H Photo (about $1400).

This review is in DAP.

LG 31MU97-B 4096 X 2160 4K Display

LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display
LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display

Sony A7 II and Sony 55/1.8: Image Stabilization in Less Ideal Shooting Positions

The portrait examples benefitted from an ideal shooting position/stance. But what about bending over, crouching, squatting: where can image stabilization take you when the shooter’s body is not as stable as the ideal scenario?

Sensor Image Stabilization in Less Stable Shooting Position (Backyard Frosty)

Update: I’ve added a few more examples late in the day.

f/2.8 @ 1/50 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/2.8 @ 1/50 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/6.3 @ 1/20 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/6.3 @ 1/20 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8

Sony A7 II and Sony 55/1.8: Assesssing Image Stabilization at 1/15 and 1/20 second, and 1/5 + 1/6 second

Sensor image stabilization has huge potential.

Portrait Examples (low light handheld, Sony A7 II IS)

Discussion included on what I found in practical terms.

UPDATE: more images added, down to 1/5 and 1/6 second.

f/1.8 @ 1/15 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/1.8 @ 1/15 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8

Lenses as an Investment; Electronic Lenses vs Manual Control

This post is repeated/updated from September 2012, posted again here in Dec 2014 for its continuing relevance, and for reader Wayne P’s comment that follows.
...

A reader writes in response to my lenses as an investment:

Lenses like those in your "world class" category, superbly crafted manual focus lenses with aperture rings, certainly, and especially when they can be purchased in excellent condition at a great discount.

But I'm wondering about the expected longevity and adaptability of the newest Nikon lenses for the reasons, for example, given in the some online posts (plastic, electronic, motorized lenses, lacking an aperture ring, unreliable (based on LensRentals.com experience), restricted spare parts to put independent repair shops out of business, reports of "nightmare" warranty repair refusal due to "impact damage" and of refusal of paid repairs based on serial number, difficult to adapt to other camera systems unlike Leica R and Contax C/Y lenses that were able to outlive their systems to retain their value):

Or for that matter, if the Leica S2 system has no S3 successor (or an S4 ... after that), can those spectacular lenses that lack aperture rings (and do they have sufficient retrofocus) to actually be successfully adapted for use on other systems, like the Hasselblad V lenses can?

DIGLLOYD: Well made lenses do not come at much of a discount any more. Continued below...

Zeiss ZF.2 100mm ƒ/2 Malkro-Planar    Leica 50mm ƒ/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH    Leica 50mm ƒ/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH    Leica 90mm ƒ/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH    Nikon 105mm ƒ/2 DC
Lenses that should be good for a long time, on multiple camera platforms—
Manual aperture ring, focusing helicoid or manual focus option, no electronic requirement

If we have an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), anything electronic will die. And then there are other worries more fundamental. So I suppose one can take things as far as one wishes in terms as worrying about the worst, but I don’t sit around worrying about the worst.

I wholeheartedly agree that the trend to electronic lenses is a step backwards. The idea of updating firmware in a lens is atrocious. Nikon has taken a HUGE step backwards with its “G” lenses, rendering them useless on Canon and other platforms, unlike millions of prior Nikkors. A very good reason to invest in Zeiss ZF.2 instead.

The older Nikon (non-G) and Zeiss ZF.2 lenses can be used completely manually, so they are good forever. Ditto for Leica M, Leica R and Voigtlander for Nikon/Leica. And this is why Canon EF, Zeiss ZE and the newer Nikon “G” lenses (no aperture ring) SUCK for longevity— they either cannot be used at all cross-platform, or at least not without a special electronic adapter, many of which have various issues.

So if one wants to invest in the best glass, and one is willing to tolerate full manual focus and aperture, conventional lenses with a manual diaphragm (Zeiss ZF or ZF.2, Hasselblad V, Leica M, Leica R, Voigtlander for Nikon or Leica, etc)— those are the lenses to invest in. And the ones least likely to need repair (in my own experience). And the ones I deem most likely to hold future value.

Zeiss ZF.2 lenses can be used (by virtue of the mechanical aperture ring) on Nikon, Canon, Sony, and others. And they a great for video on Canon, with full manual aperture and focus.

As far as Leica S lenses, yes, they suffer from excessive future-creep including lousy manual focus feel— I wish they had been designed with a manual aperture ring and a helicoid and were thus adaptable to a Nikon or Canon body. Perhaps there is an adapter out there. But at least Leica is now quite profitable, and thus there is little chance of a service problem.

See also :

Wayne P writes in Dec 2014:

Great comments on lenses as Investment.

The following can only pertain to lenses as valued by the non professional. Where Lens= Revenue, things obviously become different.

In life, it has been my experience a sense of achievement comes only after some considerable effort on my part; generally, the harder the going, the greater the sense of achievement. Furthermore, at age 55, I make a distinct connection between achievement and happiness…….It kind of goes along with the old adage: Happiness comes from within.

“Investment” is a nebulous term and probably has as many definitions as there are people on Earth. For me, at least in part, I consider something to be a good “Investment” when I look back on the thing and realize it has brought, or will continue to bring, opportunities to pursue enjoyment and happiness.

Furthermore, at least for me, personal engagement is required for a real sense of achievement. In support of this I ask: “How can diminishing levels of personal engagement in a process not reduce the sense of achievement, and thus, happiness?”

Yesterday was Christmas. I used my Nikon D750 with the Zeiss 55 1.4 and my GH4 with the 42.5 1.2….Both, brilliant cameras and lenses. For some reason, I feel a greater sense of personal attachment to the photos from the Nikon, Zeiss combination. The D750, GH4, and the 42.5 did everything for me- and competently. The Zeiss required my full engagement……And should HE decide to take up photography, that Zeiss lens will require my grandson’s full engagement as well.

In my view the Zeiss lens does enter in the realm of “Investment.” The D750, GH4, and 42.5,? they exist in the realm, and will likely suffer the same fate as my modern Whirlpool appliances. I shall not get too attached to them.

Thanks for the great articles Lloyd.

DIGLLOYD: the “involvement” aspect is an excellent point helps explain why some cameras appeal, and some do not, which of course can vary by person.

Could it be that less involvement means less discipline in making images? I also feel the attractive force of some cameras, as Wayne points out so well here. Cameras I would put into this camp include the Nikon D810 with Zeiss primes (ditto for Canon equivalents), the Sigma DP Merrill line, and the Leica M Typ 240. All of these cameras share some kind of demand on me: manual focus and/or careful handling of exposure and focus. Out in the field, these all bring me much more satisfaction than the Sony A7 or RX1R series, or even the Ricoh GR.

Sony A7 II and Adobe Camera Raw

I have some Sony A7 II raw files I shot, but I am unable to process them in ACR, as there is no update which supports the A7 II as yet. I've downloaded and installed the 8.7.1 update on two different machines, but contrary to the claimed support, it does not produce an ACR in Photoshop capable of opening A7 II files.

Update: the installer is clearly failing somehow (silently). I was able to get 8.7.1 installed on my MacBook Pro, but Photoshop on the Mac Pro won’t “take”.

Update: only by uninstalling and reinstalling the entire Photoshop CC 2014 was I able to finally get Camera Raw 8.7.1 installed.

Year End Computer Purchases: Consult

Charles (4 Mac Pro systems) writes:

I did a back of the envelope calculation, it looks like you saved me about $15,000 total for the four systems.

I don't know how to put a value FastRawViewer but it looks like a game changer for me. It is faster than I can use even on my notebook. Wow!!!

MPG: I like to save my consulting clients money.

Adele writes:

I have a 2009 Mac Pro (4 drives plus a four drive enclosure for backup plus other off-site backup) and a 2010 MacBook Pro, both of which likely need to be replaced.

My accountant has suggested that I do this before year end.

MPG: The tax year is indeed about to close. My consulting hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world. While I don’t Skype myself, clients can skype to me from virtually anywhere.

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