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Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar: Aperture Series, Yellow Blue Bike

Get Sony Alpha A7 II at B&H Photo. Not yet available in the USA according to B&H Photo, but ought to be soon.

The subject matter might seem mundane, but the results are distinctively not so.

I shot a variety of other comparisons and series today, but my work is halted until I determine what is causing a pronounced focus shift: optical, or is it a lens or camera firmware bug or just plain bug?

These two aperture series at 21mm an 25mm duplicate the problem and another at 35mm (not published) also does. It is a serious behavioral problem, and it has to be tracked down before I can proceed further with the 16-35/f4. Possibly it could involve the Sony A7R firmware version (cameras shipped right now are arriving with version 1.01), so the next step is to move to version 1.10, which is not so straightforward.

Update: I ran a controlled close-distance test at 35mm using the A7R with firmware update to version 1.1. I cannot reproduce the issue in that one test. It’s Gobble Day today, but by tomorrow I hope to have done some more shooting with firmware 1.1 to see if the problem has been cured; my working theory is a camera bug in version 1.01 firmware.

Update 2: well, another series with firmware 1.1 at 24mm shows clear focus shift. To be published after the turkey has been gobbled (I eat late).

  Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ f/4
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 21mm @ f/4
  Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 25mm @ f/5.6
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 25mm @ f/5.6

Sony A7 II Available for Pre-Order

Pre-order Sony A7II mirrorless at B&H Photo.

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

The Sony A7 II has 5-axis sensor image stabilization; see Sony Image Stabilization.

Sony, Fix These Things and Win

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

See also Sony Image Stabilization.

Sony is unlikely to take this advice, but here goes with the top five* things Sony can do to take its full-frame mirrorless lineup to a much more credible level.

  1. Deliver a 36 - 56 megapixel mirrorless camera with an EFC shutter (zero vibration), so that peak image quality can be reliably achieved. Bonus points for a medium format sensor.
  2. Add a lossless-compressed 15-bit file format. Keep the 11+7 bit format for those who want it, but deliver ultra high image quality for those who want it (and make the electronics ultra clean, so that it really does matter).
  3. Deliver cameras with robust high strength lens mounts, not the toy-grade build of the current lineup that is seeing replacement products! Bonus points for weather sealing.
  4. Deliver 5-axis sensor image stabilization in this high-resolution camera.
  5. Deliver a 4MP EVF, built-in.
  6. Make the camera larger (somewhat): the buttons are too small and fiddly compared to a Nikon D810. A7R with gloves (cold) means taking gloves off. No fun.
  7. Aggressively move the lens lineup forward, perhaps by paying Zeiss to extend the Loxia line quickly and with ultra high performance lens designs (Zeiss Otus grade, but half the price and near-perfect f/2.8 designs).
  8. Bonus points: near-zero blackout time, add 4K video, remove Sony crapware from menus, add a “My Menu”, offer raw-only shooter mode (eliminate all JPEG cruft, have right proper raw histogram).

None of this is particularly difficult, but it would yield tremendous credibility.

* Five or even three improvements are enough, provided that #1 is fixed.

Sony Image Stabilization and the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar

Get Sony Alpha A7 II at B&H Photo. Not yet available in the USA according to B&H Photo, but ought to be soon.

The Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 arrives any minute now tonight. UPS gives me a frustratingly late delivery schedule as the holidays approach: 6pm to as late as 8pm, which loses me an entire day of usage with new gear, with daylight long gone.

As noted previously, the Sony Alpha A7 II mirrorless camera introduces Olympus E-M1 style 5-axis image stabilization on its full frame sensor, which is a first for a full frame mirrorless camera (and no DSLR has it). And that type of image stabilization is the only image stabilization that works for wild rides (barring speciality gear).

It seems a near certainty that in-body image stabilization will be pushed into the entire A7 lineup (A7s, A7 II has it, A7R or A9 tbd camera). Thus it seems an unwise point in time to buy either the A7s or A7R.

For that matter, a camera lacking sensor image stabilzation (SIS) might come to be seen as rather sucky (assuming SIS has no real downsides and can be disabled as desired). Nikon, Canon are you still asleep? It’s low odds, but there is a chance that Sony might move from building electronic gizmos with cool and very useful features like SIS to well designed cameras for serious photographers, and that would be an existential threat to Nikon and Canon, even if the current compromised designs aren’t already.

Which leads me to a curious disconnect: optical image stabilization (OIS) always involves some compromise in image quality, and an ultra-wide zoom is the least needful of OIS.

So why produce an optically stabilized zoom when the camera will be doing it, and probably doing it better for that matter? It suggests that the Sony camera and lens development teams should put their heads together more often.

Or perhaps it’s more basic: the lens might have been designed well before the full-frame sensor stabilization was in the bag. Either way, it seems a shame that a 16-35mm f/4 couldn’t instead use the IS-group lens elements instead to raise optical quality, instead of devoting them to stabilization (the confusion of which to use with a sensor-stabilized camera is not a plus either).

  Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS

LensRentals.com Black Friday Sale

Rent cameras or lenses at LensRentals.com, buy use gear at LensAuthority.com.

  • 25% off any rental placed at Lensrentals.com using the code BLACKFRIDAY
  • Order must be placed between 8:30 AM CT on 11/26/14 and 11:59 PM CT on 12/1/14
  • Eligible for any rental with an arrival date before 4/1/15
  • Limit - 2 rental orders per person
  • Not combinable with any other promotions or coupons
  LensRentals.com Black Friday sale
LensRentals.com Black Friday sale

NEC PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K Expected Here Soon

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

Order NEC PA322UHD with calibration software and calibrator unit
Order NEC PA322UHD WITHOUT software/hardware calibration

XRite i1 Display Pro | SpectraView II software

I expect to see the PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K display soon for review, because NEC tells me that the NEC warehouse now has them.

I like the bundled calibration option, but I’m told that if one buys the XRite i1 Display Pro separately, it will achieve the same result as the bundled unit. But bought separately, it can work with any display (but buy and use SpectraView II for calibrating NEC displays).

  NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
  NEC PA322UHD inputs
NEC PA322UHD inputs

Ray B writes:

I wanted to comment on your blog article, that suggests that for those ordering the NEC PA series monitors, it may be better to order the i1Display Pro, for exactly this reason: that it will be useable on most any monitor (with i1 Profiler or similar software), and still be functional for use with SpectraView.

Cost for ordering this generic colorimeter, plus Spectraview software, is a bit more than ordering the BK-SV option, but at least it will function for most monitors, not just NEC PA series. For anyone who wants to calibrate other non-PA monitors, it ultimately is more cost effective.

DIGLLOYD: NEC tells me that the bundled colorimeter has some tweaks for use during calibration by SpectraView II, but that the final calibrated results should be equivalent when using the generic XRite i1 Display Pro.

Either way, use of the SpectraView II software is essential (calibrating with anything else is almost certainly faux calibration).

Cleaning a Computer Display

Get micro fiber cloth or Zeiss micro fiber cloth at B&H Photo.

Matt S writes

I recently bought the NEC PA272 based on your work and I really love it. Thanks!

How do you clean your monitor? Mine is inexplicably dirty already.

DIGLLOYD: I clean my displays with a micro fiber cloth, or the cloth that Apple ships with laptops. See also The How-To Geek Guide to Cleaning Your LCD Monitor Screen.

I asked NEC about cleaning NEC displays, with this response:

We generally only recommend water and a microfiber cloth (that’s all my service group will approve).

  Don’t Use Atlas PERMA-GUARD to Clean an LED Display NEC PA322UHD 32-inch display
Don’t Use Atlas PERMA-GUARD to Clean an LED Display
NEC PA322UHD 32-inch display

Shootout: Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC vs Nikon 28mm f/4 PC (Church, 11mm Rise)

  Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC on Nikon D810
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon
28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC

Get Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric at B&H Photo.

To my review of the Schneider PC-TS Super Angulon 28/4.5 HM ASPH is added an aperture series comparison versus the Nikon 28mm f/4 PC.

Schneider PC-TS 28mm f/4.5: Church, 11m rise (D810)

This scene turns out to be surprisingly instructive in what is going on with the imaging field of the Schneider (and the Nikon 28/4 PC); it bears directly on important behavior that anyone using the lens ought to note.

  Let there be light Nikon D810 + Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC @ f/11
Let there be light
Nikon D810 + Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC @ f/11

Shift Lens Stitching

Yesterday’s interview with Ming Thein led one reader to inquire about shift lens stitching.

Some years ago I was doing shift-lens stitching, always seeking really good optics (which never happened!), see Equipment for shift lens stitching from 2006. Also, Really Right Stuff sells specialty brackets for multi-row rotational stitching. Related reading:

Funny how this 26 megapixel image from the 12-megapixel Canon 5D seemed high-res at the time. Now we talk about 80 megapixels from 36 instead of 26 from 12.

Click for larger image.

Quarry House, Norway Canon 5D-IR + Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-Micro-Nikkor, stitched image
Quarry House, Norway
Canon 5D-IR + Nikon 85mm f/2.8D PC-Micro-Nikkor, stitched image
Tioga Lake, 2009-05-30 09:42 Canon 5D-IR + Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro, infrared stitched 75MP
Tioga Lake, 2009-05-30 09:42
Canon 5D-IR + Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR APO Macro, infrared stitched 75MP

An Interview with Ming Thein on His High-Definition “Ultraprint”

See also A conversation with Ming Thein on the Pentax 645Z and Nikon D810 and More.

Ming Thein of MingThein.com is a professional photographer half way around the world (from me) whose work is first class. Ming and I enjoyed a shoot together in early September 2014 at Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve.

Ming sent me one of his stunning Ultraprints from that shoot. This Q/A interview is all about his approach to what I’d term “hi-def printing”, which he terms The Ultraprint.

Purisima Creek Redwoods ©2014 Ming Thein
Purisima Creek Redwoods ©2014 Ming Thein

LC: Ming, I received the Ultraprint you sent me, taken during our outing together at the redwoods. Examining it in daylight (my preference) I took in a first impression which for me means an overall gander (visual impact) followed by looking at fine details, color and contrast and so on.

The word “ultra” implies a high level of excellence, so I was intrigued to have that opportunity using an image you shot while not far from me in those redwoods that day so I had some frame of reference (rather than some place I had never been). My first impressions was “dang!" - since I had been there a number of times and the scene you shot really captured the creek and overhanging branches and so on—something I’ve found really hard to do. So as far as I’m concerned it is/was a very successful image consistent with the impressive quality of your other work in other ‘parts. That’s the artistic angle, well done.

Technically, there were several subtle things that emerged as I engaged with the image. I first notice a critical sharpness “beyond my eyes” meaning unless I had visual aid there was no point in saying more about sharpness! But beyond sharpness I noted a natural look to the details, a freedom from any harsh edges, transitions, etc, all of which add to the sharpness in ways that make the result really enjoyable. Paper quality is really excellent, too. In addition, the color rendition I know is very hard to get right in that venue, and it was nailed.

My only “complaint” is that as I age I more and more prefer larger prints because in less bright light my eyes cannot focus as close. So for me, something around 30 X 20 is much more comfortable. But in this case I was outside and the bright light allows me to view at close range.

So let’s talk about what an Ultraprint is, meaning what is the photographic goal, general approach, what discipline and care is required and what you hope to achieve by making what is a very high grade print which might be summarized as “like a contact print of old” - only better!

MT: Thank you. We've tried our best - and continue to do so - to make the Ultraprints the *best* prints we know how, in every way - color accuracy, resolution, continuity of tone - all for one reason: to lead to a sense of immersion and transparency.

Looking through the print and at a scene, instead of looking at a representation of the scene, in other words. I chose that image precisely because you had a frame of reference of the actual scene, so you could assess it on its technical merits and fidelity to the feeling of being there. I'm glad it passed - there was a high bar, as I know Purisima Creek is very familiar to you - and it was my first time there. I admit I was probably not firing on all cylinders either; it'd been a very heavy two weeks leading up to that day.

The initial goal of the Ultraprint was to condense all of the information from these high megapixel cameras into something that you could actually appreciate at a reasonable scale, and at a single glance - much like the real world. (You can see a detailed comparison between a normal print and an Ultraprint here.)

My print buyers didn't have the space to store or hang larger images - nor do I. We don't have quite as much space in Asian homes. However, the goal has subsequently morphed from that into a question of bringing the experience of being there to the viewer in the form of a print.

Resolution is not the objective, though it is an important cornerstone of the Ultraprint: it enables very fine tonal gradations, which is what represents both spatial detail as well as continuity of tone. I could print the same image at a lower resolution - Ultraprints are now 720 PPI - and probably not compromise much on the level of detail *your eyes* can resolve, but it would not have the same perceived continuity of tone.

We have to go beyond what the eyes can resolve in order to do that. 720 PPI is at the threshold for most people with perfect vision, at their nearest focusing distance. At this point, we are actually resolution limited by the *paper*; even with the finest grained matte fiber paper with smooth non-expanding coatings, this is about as good as it gets. Which is really not bad, since we can resolve details about 1/3-1/2 the width of a human hair.

In a digital context, it's much like the difference between a normal screen and one of Apple's 'retina' displays - night and day, though you do get used to it. Except the best Retina displays are at 453ppi, and look positively coarse under high magnification compared to an Ultraprint. Back to your comment about size - the only way to go bigger is to have more pixels. And pixel quality is very important too, for both color accuracy and edge resolution - the 12x16" print you have was made from a D810 stitch of three images, for a total of about 80MP. I am working on a series that goes much larger, and has incredible visual *punch* - but we're talking about stitching 50+ images to make a 24x60".

LC: Might it be fair to call this an attempt at “immersive” photography by make the viewing experience as free from the limits of recording (capture and print both)?

MT: Absolutely. Ultraprinting is a convenient name for an entire idea and workflow: knowing what you can accurately represent in print; then finding appropriate subjects; capturing them with the highest possible image quality and shot discipline, then ensuring that translation to paper is faithful. It necessitates the photographer to sit through endless proofs to tweak color by minute amounts to a (hopefully) accurate memory.

The problem I have is that this never translates online: a web jpeg of the image looks terrible because you've got perhaps 1% of the information, or less. The irony of course is that in trying to free yourself from the limits, you come across some very prosaic ones - like wind ruining your 60-image stitch…or the fact that you can only use the centre 50% area of your lenses because of corner issues.

LC: If I understand correctly, you are adding to the “resolution” (information content) with another kind of “resolution”: tonal transition quality, gradient quality of smooth tones and so on.

MT: Yes. Tonal quality is also very much linked to resolving power of your output medium: if you have a line, and only two pixels, you can represent that edge with no information. But if you have that same edge crossing say 100 pixels, it's easy to resolve roughness (texture) contrast (reflections, perhaps highlights) and (irregularity) spatial information. Imagine this now with color information, too. Information is conveyed by spatial frequency, which is really alternation in tone. Resolving power and tonality are not separable, and I think at the core of what changes the experience from 'looking at a print' to 'looking at the scene'. Reality is not single- or posterized-tone; it's beautifully continuous.

LC: These stitches employ shift lenses I presume so as to avoid parallax issues, since the Purisima Creek Image had severe challenges that rotational stitching would be very difficult to work with (precise rotation about entrance pupil). But with so many images, perhaps not shift lenses?

MT: Your particular image was made with a shift lens. But most of the time, I don't get enough shift range to exceed the 80MP / 12x16" equivalent size; I've got to do a spherical stitch. And the reality is that most shift lenses are not up to scratch optically.

LC: For these reason, the best lenses like Zeiss Otus contribute to some of the ’transparency’ by preserving as much tonal subtlety as possible?

MT: Absolutely. The largest stitches - the Forest series - are made with Otii or the 2/135 APO, which is pretty close. Capturing as much information as possible and as accurately as possible is very important; that's both color information and resolution. Our subconscious is very sensitive to color; it will register something as being 'off' if the balance isn't right. This is especially critical with natural subjects as we have a very strong concept of what color grass or sky should be, for instance.

LC: There you have it over me—I’ve done the color tests and I rank quite high (in a percentile sense, 99.9😜 but as my eyes age they are less good. Back to the artistic side, many coveted prints are technically not so great. But they succeed because of ‘message’. What is your message?

MT: On the artistic side, it's not so much a message (that can be down to an individual project; e.g. 'Verticality' is about the smallness and insignificance of the creator in the world he has created') - as an experience. The prints are about the experience of being there - or as close to it as we can get. And if I can take you to places that aren't so easily accessible, but which perhaps convey a nice sense of calm (forests, for instance) then it becomes a unique little portal of escape you can hang in your home or office. It isn't about an image anymore: it's about using the image to convey a feeling and transport you to another place in an immersive way. In the long run, it probably means I have to go even bigger. Right now we have some computing challenges (and printer buffer challenges) - but I'm working on a stitch at present that would cover a normal ceiling at 240PPI :)

LC: Let me play devil’s advocate: “immersive” to me means something around six feet wide. But I only have wall space for 3 or so such prints! Call it “like life” or “larger than life”, I have trouble getting into prints smaller than about 3 feet wide, regardless of the artist. Which is partly physical (eyes), but otherwise just what I like most. Photographs are successful for many different reasons: historical or famous, subject alone (place, time, celebrity), but some photographs lack such references and thus have to stand on their own, and that mean artistic excellence and ideally, technical excellence. So the “portal” you speak of seems to aim for the latter, it being a bit harder to round up famous people or historical events! So by what metrics of success do you judge your work, given the above (or other)?

MT: I'm going to ask you a question in return before I address your other points: did you get immersed in the Ultraprint I sent?

LC: No, because it is too small, and the place is large and cathedral like. I respond very strongly to large outdoor spaces (see all my mountain shooting). At relatively small sizes (16 inches for that print), the print is excellent, but I cannot “be in the scene” at a small size. This is true in general for me and not a comment on that print. I want to feel like I’m there, and I don’t feel that with smaller prints.

I should explain a bit more— when I’m in one of these “cathedral space” outdoors (redwoods, wide open mountains, etc), I have an almost 3D sense of the place, and it is multi-factorial: sight, sounds, touch and so on that all wire me in. In a way I visualize the place *while there* and when I’m zoned into it I am conscious of the place as a whole. It is very hard to get close to that even in a large superb print. After all, this is a 2D medium. So the best approximation of the feeling of a place needs to get to some wider visual field of view (I am strongly visual dominant), and for that I (*I*) feel the need for large prints.

MT: That is an eyesight challenge; a larger print simply occupies more of your field of view. The same thing happens with a smaller print, except your eyes tend to run out of focus distance first and prints tend to run out of steam at an absolute resolving power level. I'm seriously going to suggest you try it again with reading glasses :)

Remember that the original gestation of the Ultraprint was because large prints are not practical for cost and space reasons. That, and it's also really difficult to pick one image you could live with for a long time to the potential exclusion of others. But it is one of the reasons I'm going larger with the next series of Ultraprints - I hold that level of detail out to much larger sizes; Forest III was the first of these at 40x15", and I plan to go as large as about 40x40". Most of them will be panoramics precisely to give you this sense of exceeding your visual field of view, intended to be viewed from about a foot or foot and a half way. But this of course reduces the potential audience because of size and cost…and makes it very expensive to even proof properly. I'm confident you'll get your immersiveness at this size, but with significant other compromises.

To answer you question about standing alone and judging work - I have to go back to the original objective. Does it feel immersive? Do I feel like I'm there? If not, then it doesn't work. This of course assumes that the scene is one that I want to be present at in the first place - a smelly garbage-filled alleyway in the middle of the night is probably *not* something you want to be immersed in. But realizing the size conundrum, I agree that I need to go bigger. 20x30", at least. This of course limits subjects too since I have to stitch. A life-size wave would be awesome, but impossible because I'd need a single capture array of at least several hundred megapixels.

LC: I’d agree that reading glasses would help just to be able to get closer to a smaller print (field of view). Can also work in very bright light. Well, this would not be an issue at a younger age and I do not say it is how others might react. I certainly was drawn to the clarity and real-ness of the image! I think in a way it is “user interface“: how much viewer effort is needed. Another example: going to a museum, I love the large late 1800’s painting that are huge wall size things. I walk on by the 1-2 foot images because they just seem to require too much effort, useless the museum allows close inspection, which helps a lot (some don’t).

MT: You can get as close as you like to these. Even the large ones. And the large ones are very surreal when examined like that - they work both at conventional viewing distances and with a loupe. I honestly wish I had the museum problem with these, though - then we'd just calculate what the resolving power of the eye is at minimum 'velvet rope' distance, exceed it slightly, and see how big we can go!

LC: Well, the print is terrific. And big is wrong for some small places. Posing a “future” question: what if we had digital wallpaper of print quality? The same quality metrics ought to come to bear and distinguish between the Ultraprint grade and ordinary.

MT: Hah! I'd be the first in line, and I think it probably isn't that far off, actually. I'd also like a 'white' setting so I can use it to construct light for still life work. But it does say to me that since I missed the mark on immersiveness for you (albeit due to ageing eyesight), there's still room for improvement. Next time we meet I'll bring a large Forest. Interestingly, as good as the iMac 5k is, it's still only 218PPI.

LC: But 218ppi at 2 feet is pretty darn hard to see pixels. So to bring it back to the print and setting aside my own eyes - the Ultraprint captures a level of detail that is pretty incredible and influences my perception of it significantly. Also, when I studied it at closer range, yes it was immersive in the sense of bringing a smile to my face in seeing all the details there and to be explored. I confess I am looking forward to the NEC 32” 4K display just because I love such details.

So let me call it “highly engaging”, because I took the word “immersive” more literally. Readers who have not viewed an Ultraprint ought to—and I might be remiss in this regard in being too out of band as per the medium itself. Yet ordinary prints show limits that just are not there in the Ultraprint. Setting aside professional excellence and pride in making the best possible print (kudos), do you think most people appreciate the degree of effort that goes into the prints? Might it not take 5 or 10 or 20 years for the core concept to really break into its own form?

MT: I'm sure we'll get to immersive, even for the long sighted - it's a matter of size. But I wouldn't want to compromise in any way because *I know it can be done* - and anything less would just defeat the point of attempting to push the boundaries of perception in print.

You're probably right: most people have no idea how much work goes into making a finished print - from the 60-image stitches with thousands of manual control points to the dozens of proofs to the modifications to the printer. And because I cannot translate or even begin to convey the physical viewing experience digitally, I am sure it's being dismissed summarily by a lot of people who might otherwise enjoy such a print. It's very difficult to imagine if you've never seen one in person, and physical limitations mean it's obviously not practical to send these things around as samples. Plus the paper surface is of course delicate and doesn't respond well to excessive handling, much like any print.

There are plans for an exhibition in Chicago in October next year at the Rangefinder Gallery, and another one tentatively on the cards for Hong Kong in November; hopefully I can get a few more places interested. Funny thing is most of the skeptics have become very vocal converts after seeing the prints in person. The good news is that as display pixel density increases, I think people are going to find it easier to imagine and visualize what 720PPI looks like.

LC: Corollary: your compositions are always very strong. And that is the first thing that makes the image. Would you print an image not at Ultraprint resolution grade and really worry in any way about it, given the right composition? Photography has plenty of not so sharp images coveted by collectors.

MT: Would I print strong images that don't make Ultraprint grade? Sure - either as smaller Ultraprints, or with very clear caveats that it is not an Ultraprint. Sometimes the idea and the moment outweigh all, and you only get a single capture. Stitching for ultimate resolution is nothing new, of course - so it should be that hard to understand. The difficult part to understand is the consistency of vision/ idea that goes into the workflow to make the most of the medium, and the fact that we can really put down all of that information into a sensible-sized print.

LC: The Ultraprint quality goal intrigues me, because I’ve long felt that if I’m going to make an image, I want to capture it at maximal quality (resolution, color, dynamic range, etc). That dynamic seems at work for you too. But today cameras are “good enough” meaning that the whole Ultraprint goal is not a priority for many shooters. They’re not stitching and they’re shooting, say, 16 megapixels. What say you?

MT: Here's my question: if you have all that resolution, what are you doing with it if not printing? There's actually no way to view even the output in full. This, plus the size and cost limitations of large prints are why we have Ultraprints at all. It felt like something was missing from the prints - at all sizes. I could *see* through them, in a way, and that sort of ruined the experience for me and made me unhappy with the output. Finding a print master who will also support you through this is another challenge entirely, of course.

LC: Who is your printer?

MT: I use Wesley Wong at Giclee Art in Kuala Lumpur - I actually interviewed him here a little while ago. We both decided we could go further with the output - and he is my indispensable partner in the creation of both the Ultraprint process and the prints themselves, and a very close friend.

LC: Any advice for those looking to aim for Ultraprint quality?

MT: As for making Ultraprints - it isn't just about the output hardware or the capture or the number of pixels. You can make a high resolution image of something that is boring, have a lot of poor pixels and then totally mess up the color - or not have enough resolution to satisfy the printer. And none of those will be an Ultraprint. It is important to know what you're trying to achieve with the output so that every creative choice you have - which lens, what color balance, how much contrast etc. - can be made with the end in mind, even if the end goal is as simple as something like 'the feeling of looking up in a forest'. Simple is actually hard…

LC: How can someone buy an Ultraprint?

MT: I offer a selection of prints via my gallery site and the main site, or you can request any of my images from here or the flickr page as an Ultraprint here - note that not all images are Ultraprintable because of technical limitations, and sizes are may be restricted. As for the editions on the gallery and main site, I strictly limit the number I print - simply because I believe in exclusivity, and because I also believe that I'll also make different and better images in future - it's an evolution. Smaller sizes also mean better accessibility price-wise.

LC: You do teaching and workshops, are you offering one that dovetails with the Ultraprint goal?

MT: Back to translation of idea into capture, and capture via workflow into the highest image quality possible with your equipment - and all of the intermediate steps. I generally bring some prints because students are curious to see them; once I show the workflow then they have an understanding of just how much effort goes into creating one of these images. But it all still goes back to the photographer: a poor idea is going to make a mediocre image regardless of the capture and output. So I tend to focus on the conceptual and compositional parts before output.

LC: Thank you Ming, for sharing your insights and clarity of purpose.

MT: Thank you!

   A selection of limited edition Ultraprint images is available from The Gallery; in addition I am planning future large format editions in the Forest series, which will be announced here. The next image will be Forest IV, shown below and available in early January as a 57x22" Ultraprint. Further reading on the Ultraprint can be found here, in the rationale behind the pursuit of clarity.

_8B10776-844 forest iv small
Image ©2014 Ming Thein

Postscript

Years ago I also did some shift-lens stitching, see Equipment for shift lens stitching. Today, Really Right Stuff sells specialty brackets for multi-row rotational stitching.

I have a hunch that the NEC PA322W UHD will get me to the first stage of the “immersive” level, by dint of size and pixel density. Moreover a transmissive medium is highly attractive for its contrast range and gamut (assuming a top notch display). A print being reflective has inherent limitations, barring some nifty new quantum Baryta paper development. It is akin to a very large transparency versus a large print. And I always did like 4 X 5 chromes and/or projected slides.

What I really love about digital display is that the medium itself lets me zoom in—no eye limitations, no resolution top end (source is the only limit)—if I see an area that interests me, I can zoom in. No print can do this. I am looking forward to 8K and 16K displays (108 and 256 megapixels). At that point, I am not sure a print can compete except for what it is: a print. But can a digital display ever compete with the collectible nature of a tangible print? That’s hard in the art world, but perhaps this can happen as some sort of crypto-image future tech where one sells/buys “right to display” digital immersions.

Sony Image Stabilization

Get Sony Alpha A7 II at B&H Photo.

Also, in-depth review of the Sony A7 and A7R.

The Sony Alpha A7 II mirrorless camera introduces 5-axis in-body image stabilization along with an improved grip and strengthened lens mount. It’s not yet available in the USA according to B&H Photo, but ought to be soon.

As far as I know, full-frame sensor 5-axis image stabilization sees its debut in the A7-II.

So one naturally wonders when the A7R-II will arrive and whether it might also include image stabilization, but I for one would settle for an A7R-II which offered an EFC shutter to eliminate the shutter vibration problem. Image stabilization is not a fix for shutter vibration. So (hope beyond) hope: sensor image stabilization along with elimination of shutter vibration would be sweet.

In the Olympus E-M1 / Olympus E-M5 at least, the 5-axis in-body image stabilization is outstanding. It’s the only image stabilization that works for wild rides. So if it works equally well in the Sony A7-II, that rocks.

It’s worth remembering that when shooting handheld, image sharpness is a total sum game: optical performance, aperture, shutter vibration (or not), image stabilization and shutter speed, etc. It’s possible that the A7-II thus might offer a unique capability not possible with any other camera, at least for some time. Now if we could just have Sony execute it all with 14-bit raw instead of 11+7 bit lossy compressed.

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. You can choose daily or weekly updates. Details...

Now available: updates for MacPerformanceGuide.com and/or WindInMyFace.com. Each site gets its own email, so if all three sites change on any given day, you’d receive three emails, one per site (weekly choice would be one per week).

Specify: diglloyd and/or mac and/or wind.

Faster Photoshop Scratch for Memory-Limited Macs with Thunderbolt 2

It’s always better to max-out memory if/when performance is suffering from too-little memory in Photoshop.

But all Macs have limits: 16GB for MacBook Pro and MacMini, 32GB for iMac, 64/128GB for 2013 Mac Pro.

Once memory is maxed-out, the Photoshop scratch disk is the next recourse—it should be as fast as possible. For those with Thunderbolt 2 capable Macs, the new OWC Thunderbay Mini with SSDs fits the bill nicely, beating out even the lightning-fast 1TB SSD in the MacBook Pro Retina.

Thunderbay Mini with SSDs as a Photoshop Scratch Disk

  OWC Thunderbay Mini 4-bay enclosure
OWC Thunderbay Mini 4-bay enclosure

Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC: Full Shift with and without Correction for Color Errors

  Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC on Nikon D810
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon
28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC

Get Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric at B&H Photo.

See existing review of Schneider PC-TS 90mm f/4.5 and 50mm f/2.8.

To my review of the Schneider PC-TS Super Angulon 28/4.5 HM ASPH is added an aperture series at full shift which shows the image quality with and without correction for lateral chromatic aberration, and discusses the central and peripheral image quality.

Schneider PC-TS 28mm f/4.5: Drive Train, 12mm Shift (D810)

This subject is particularly good for this purpose with its metal and high contrast edges.

Crops are shown from f/4.5 to f/16 with and without color correction for lateral chromatic aberration, for easy comparison.

  Drive Train, f/13 Nikon D810 + Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC @ f/13
Drive Train, f/13
Nikon D810 + Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC @ f/13

Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC: First Look

  Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC on Nikon D810
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon
28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC

Get Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric at B&H Photo.

See existing review of Schneider PC-TS 90mm f/4.5 and 50mm f/2.8.

I kick off my review of the Schneider PC-TS Super Angulon 28/4.5 HM ASPH with an aperture series at close range which shows general performance. The findings here are consistent with some other shooting, to be shown soon. After some initial mundane subject matter which is nonetheless highly instructive, I’ll move on to buildings and so on.

Schneider PC-TS 28mm f/4.5: Maple Trees at Close Range, 12mm Fall (D810)

This scene is shot at 12mm “fall” (downward shift).

  Maple Trees, f/13 Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC + Nikon D810
Maple Trees, f/13
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC + Nikon D810

 

LG 31MU97 4K Display (4096 X 2160), canceled

See Readers Inquire About LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display.

Update: I’ve decided to skip evaluation of this display, because it is not properly supported by Macs and of concerns I’m seeing out there on the web.

I like tried and true and fully supported by a company that knows Macs, so I’m sticking with the NEC PA322UH Perhaps at a later date, when things settle out.

* Mac OS 10.9.3 and later versions are supported
* 4096x2160 resolution will be supported in upcoming Mac OS X release.

  LG 31MU97-B OS X resolutions
LG 31MU97-B OS X resolutions

4K Televisions Plummet in Price

My jaw dropped when I some of the discounts being offered on 4K televisions. Many of these are Black Friday deals thru Nov 22, but can be ordered now.

Samsung 4K televisions prices in some cases are half off, like 50" for $798. or 55" for $1198.

Sony 4K UHD televisions have huge discounts also, like 54.6" 4K for $1798.

These huge TVs have free shipping as well. Amazon also has 4K Sony TVs and 4K Samsung TVs at blowout prices.

Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC: the Beast Arrives

Get Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric at B&H Photo.

See existing review of Schneider PC-TS 90mm f/4.5 and 50mm f/2.8.

The Schneider PC-TS 28/4.5 HM ASPH is a beast. Under no conditions would I want to strain the lens mount by having it support the 1608g lens (without caps), since most of that weight is well forward. Thus, the built-in tripod foot is essential, and kudos to Schneider that builds in dovetail that mounts directly into my Really Right Stuff clamp on my Arca Swiss Cube.

Will the Schneider PC-TS 28/4.5 deliver the goods? Its predecessor, the Schneider 28mm f/2.8 PC-Super-Angulon (shift only) was good for its time, but a dud on a 36MP DSLR.

At about $8300, Schneider PC-TS 28/4.5 is clearly intended for the professional market. If if delivers optically, those professionals needing its capabilities will find the price manageable. But at least by the pound/kilo, it’s a much better deal than the Leica 50/2 APO!

Review of the Schneider PC-TS Super Angulon 28/4.5 HM ASPH will be in DAP.

Cick for larger view.

  Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC on Nikon D810
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM ASPHERIC on Nikon D810

 

It’s Savings Season: Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Leica M

Everyone likes discounts, but they carry pain too, devaluaing the used-market price of all my gear. What has never been discounted to my knowledge? My trusty Zeiss lenses (for Canon or Nikon).

Nikon

Discounts on Nikon lenses when purchased with camera body

$400 off Nikon D610 plus goodies

Canon

Canon lens rebates expire Nov 22.

Olympus

Olympus EM-5 $400 off at $599

Leica M

See also Leica M discounts. Update: the lens rebates on Leica M are now up, see the handy links on the Leica gear page to find any particular lens.

Zeiss 55/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Glacial Blue, Winter’s Icy Hint (Nikon D810)

  Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

In Guide To Zeiss:

Zeiss 55/1.4 APO-Distagon: Glacial Blue, Winter’s Icy Hint

Includes HD and UltraHD images from ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/16 along with crops and commentary.

Funny how the landscape influences the choice of lens: in some cases the 85/1.4 APO-Planar seems the right choice, with the 55/1.4 APO-Distagon just not fitting things. But in this glaciated area the 55/1.4 APO-Distagon just felt right for the scenery.

One cannot do better than with the 55/1.4 APO and the 85/1.4 APO, and I’m hoping for a 28/1.4 Otus to round out the range.

Glacial Blue, Winter’s Icy Hint  Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ f/1.4
Glacial Blue, Winter’s Icy Hint
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ f/1.4

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Mt Conness Glacier Remnants

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, this aperture series complements Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar and Glacial Erratic to High Peak. See also Dusk Shooting and Night Shooting.

Nikon 20/1.8G Aperture Series: Mt Conness Glacier Remnants

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 a fine lens and I now comfortable recommending it as the best wide angle Nikon offers. At about $797, it’s a steal for what it delivers.

  Mt Conness Glacier Remnants Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6
Mt Conness Glacier Remnants
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6

Leica M Typ 240 is $750 off, plus $250 off Leica M Lenses

In a rare (very rare) move for Leica, the M240 is now $750 off. This seems to presage a model revision of some kind because the M-P cannot explain it.

Add the M240 to cart to see price. Black or silver.

  Leica M240 discount
  Leica M lens rebates

Leica M lens rebates

Rebates of $250 or so, plus B&H has a 2% rewards and free expedited shipping.

See the handy links on the Leica gear page to find any particular lens. Some of my favorites which currently have a rebate:

See prices for all Leica gear.

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

Best lens for M

As a side note, the very best lens for the M240 is the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. At least that would be my #1 choice and it’s a raging buy compared to Leica’s prices.

Why? See my review of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon vs Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Mt Conness Glacier

  Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon

The Zeiss ZF.2/ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon has long reigned as the champ in the ~21mm range for its high brilliance and strong control of color aberrations.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon vs Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Mt Conness Glacier

Aperture series through f/16 with large crops and extensive performance analysis.

The Nikon 20/1.8G aperture series will be posted in the review of the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G soon.

  Mt Conness Glacier Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/9
Mt Conness Glacier
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/9

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Glacial Erratic to High Peak

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. It complements Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar.

Nikon 20/1.8G Aperture Series: Glacial Erratic to High Peak (D810)

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 a fine lens and I now comfortable recommending it as the best wide angle Nikon offers. At about $797, it’s a steal for what it delivers.

  Glacial Erratic to High Peak  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/9
Glacial Erratic to High Peak
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/9

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Dusk Shooting, f/1.8 vs f/2.8

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

The Nikon 20mm f/1.8G shows great potential for night shooting.

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP

Shooting at Dusk: f/1.8 vs f/2.8 (D810, Egg Erratic)

This study should be useful to anyone shooting in dim light considering whether to use f/1.8 or f/2.8: the differences are significant, but the choice is one of several considerations.

See also Night Shooting.

  Egg Erratic, Dusk Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8
Egg Erratic, Dusk
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/1.8

Mac Pro Workhorse

A 2009 Mac Pro remain a solid workhorse and can be had at a big cost savings over the 2013 Mac Pro.

4TB of SSD or 8TB of HDD in Thunderbolt 2 Mini Enclosure

High performance in a compact package.

OWC Offers Thunderbay Mini, Thunderbolt 2 Enclosure for 2.5-Inch SSDs or Hard Drives

  OWC Thunderbay Mini 4-bay enclosure
OWC Thunderbay Mini 4-bay enclosure

Sony 16-35mm f/4 for A7 Cameras

Get Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS for Sony E mount.

The new Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS for Sony A7 series cameras should arrive late next week for testing, to be tested on the Sony A7R for Guide to Mirrorless.

  Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS

 

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Night Shooting

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

The Nikon 20mm f/1.8G shows great potential for night shooting.

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Night Shooting

Includes uncorrected and corrected crops for color fringing study.

  Saddlebage Lake at Night Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/2, 259 seconds
Saddlebage Lake at Night
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/2, 259 seconds

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Wide Angle Perspective for Ambiguous Size

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

The remove of visual cues can introduce a size ambiguity that can be engaging, for a “double take” at what might seem to be an ordinary image at first glance.

The right subject and lighting along with the right perspective and focal length are what makes it work, turning a vanilla subject into one that keeps demanding another glance.

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP

Wide Angle Perspective for Ambiguous Size

Includes a 2nd image to show the surrounding scene, which itself has some ambiguous visual arrangement.

  How Big is the Boulder?  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/13
How Big is the Boulder?
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/13

Items Coming for Review: Sony 16-35, Schneider PC-TS 28/4.5 HM ASPH

Coming for review:

In the meantime, I plan on doing some more work on the Zeiss Loxia lenses and the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G.

The 28/4.5 PC-TS Super-Angulon HM Aspheric

Order your Schneider 28mm f/4.5 at B&H photo, which is providing a sample for testing.

The Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric Lens is very much a specialty lens, with a 28mm focal length not available from Canon and Nikon. It supplants its predecessor on bulk and price, the 28mm f/2.8 PC-Super-Angulon, which was shift only (no tilt), and was also sold by Leica for the R system.

Performance of the Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM remains to be seen in field use, but generally speaking, the “HM” designation bodes well (“High Modulation”), and the aspheric designation adds to that expectation.

  Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric Lens for Nikon F
Schneider PC-TS Super-Angulon 28mm f/4.5 HM Aspheric Lens for Nikon F

 

Sony Firmware Updater: a Security Risk

A kernel extension (kext) is as nasty as it gets for system compromise, since a kext has unfettered access to everything. Seems like the perfect vector for a 'root kit'.

Yet Sony foists an firmware updater app on users whose signature is invalid (see log below). Running as 'root' and using a kernel extension is as ugly as it gets and for updating camera firmware?

Nikon and Canon do it right for their DSLRs: copy a firmware file to a card, have the camera update. Job done, no security risk to the computer. Shame on Sony. These days, hackers come at all angles. It is very poor design judgment to require root level access to update things like camera firmware.

BTW, the Sony firmware updater doesn’t work on OS X Yosemite. At first I missed this note at the bottom of the Sony firmware updater page. Why is something “IMPORTANT” placed last, where it can scroll off the screen and never be seen (I did not see it).

IMPORTANT: This update is not compatible with Mac OS® X 10.10. Please use Mac OS X 10.9 or lower to install this update

The suggestion is rather amazing: anyone who has updated to 10.10 is not likely to have a 10.9 bootable system any more. I do have it on a spare computer, so I suppose there is a workaround for me, but this does not change the risk of a kernel extension. It is a valid consideration in terms of what gear to buy to contemplate that a month after OS X Yosemite appeared, Sony users on Yosemite still have no working updater for their cameras.

While Nikon’s apps are badly written and also have problems, at least potential system compromise is not needed to update firmware with Nikon DSLRs.

drwxr-xr-x@ 3 root   wheel     102 Nov 11 12:58 SONYDeviceType01.kext

22014-11-11 12:58:27.149 authexec[87813]: executing /Volumes/Update_ILCE7RV110/FirmwareUpdater.app/Contents/Resources/FirmwareUpdaterTool
2014-11-11 12:58:27.166 sudo[87814]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/ ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/Volumes/Update_ILCE7RV110/FirmwareUpdater.app/Contents/Resources/install.sh /Volumes/Update_ILCE7RV110/FirmwareUpdater.app/Contents/Resources i386
2014-11-11 12:58:27.175 sudo[87816]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/ ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/cp -r /Volumes/Update_ILCE7RV110/FirmwareUpdater.app/Contents/Resources/x86/SONYDeviceType01.kext /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext
2014-11-11 12:58:27.186 sudo[87818]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/ ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext
2014-11-11 12:58:27.196 sudo[87820]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel Contents
2014-11-11 12:58:27.205 sudo[87822]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel Resources
2014-11-11 12:58:27.214 sudo[87824]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Resources/English.lproj ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel InfoPlist.strings
2014-11-11 12:58:27.222 sudo[87826]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Resources ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel English.lproj
2014-11-11 12:58:27.231 sudo[87828]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel MacOS
2014-11-11 12:58:27.240 sudo[87830]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/MacOS ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel SONYDeviceType01
2014-11-11 12:58:27.248 sudo[87832]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/MacOS ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod a+x SONYDeviceType01
2014-11-11 12:58:27.257 sudo[87834]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/chown root:wheel Info.plist
2014-11-11 12:58:27.265 sudo[87836]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod 755 /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext
2014-11-11 12:58:27.273 sudo[87838]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod 755 /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Info.plist /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/MacOS /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Resources
2014-11-11 12:58:27.281 sudo[87840]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod 755 /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/MacOS/SONYDeviceType01
2014-11-11 12:58:27.289 sudo[87842]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod 755 /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Resources/English.lproj
2014-11-11 12:58:27.296 sudo[87844]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/bin/chmod 755 /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext/Contents/Resources/English.lproj/InfoPlist.strings
2014-11-11 12:58:27.303 sudo[87846]:     root : TTY=unknown ; PWD=/private/tmp ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/sbin/kextload /tmp/SONYDeviceType01.kext
      
2014-11-11 12:58:27.569 com.apple.kextd[20]: ERROR: invalid signature for com.sony.driver.dsccamFirmwareUpdaterType00, will not load    

Sony has a worrisome history

I wrote “root kit” because of what it seemed to me to emulate, forgetting about what reader Jim F reminds me of:

Their previous uncouth behavior. Oh and illegal too.

Quoting from Wikipedia:

The Sony BMG CD copy protection rootkit scandal of 2005–2007 concerns deceptive, illegal, and potentially harmful copy protection measures implemented by Sony BMG on about 22 million CDs. When inserted into a computer, the CDs installed one of two pieces of software which provided a form of digital rights management (DRM) by modifying the operating system to interfere with CD copying. Both programs could not be easily uninstalled, and they created vulnerabilities that were exploited by unrelated malware. Sony claims this was unintentional. One of the programs installed even if the user refused its EULA, and it "phoned home" with reports on the user's private listening habits; the other was not mentioned in the EULA at all, contained code from several pieces of open-source software in an apparent infringement of copyright, and configured the operating system to hide the software's existence, leading to both programs being classified as rootkits.

Sony BMG initially denied that the rootkits were harmful. It then released, for one of the programs, an "uninstaller" that only un-hid the program, installed additional software which could not be easily removed, collected an email address from the user, and introduced further security vulnerabilities.

Following public outcry, government investigations, and class-action lawsuits in 2005 and 2006, Sony BMG partially addressed the scandal with consumer settlements, a recall of about 10% of the affected CDs, and the suspension of CD copy protection efforts in early 2007.

No one can implement a root kit like this by accident (“unintentional”). To offer that as justification is not credible and worse. Has such thinking at Sony been extirpated?

In this context, do you want to install and run the Sony updater, which contains a kernel extension ('kext')? A kernel extension has unfettered access to the system. Who is to say it doesn’t introduce vulnerabilities that malware could attack? How does one know that it does not do other things? This is the kind of consumer software that intelligence agencies must adore. As per the Sony licensing agreement:

THE PROGRAM AND ACCOMPANYING ONLINE DOCUMENTATION ARE FURNISHED TO YOU FOR USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

Indeed, at your own risk.

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Dual Aperture Series: Saddlebag Lake Pines At Dusk

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

Presented in in HD and UltraHD sizes in my review of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar Dual Aperture Series: Saddlebag Lake Pines (Sony A7R)

This pair of aperture series is intended to show the differing visual impacts and associated tension created by relative illumination (vignetting), depth of field (sharp/unsharp), and motion blur (wind/water). All three effects combine and in effect are a sort of mini slide show across the aperture range.

A discussion on the complex nature of these seemingly simple images is included. The interplay of elements across the series is thought provoking as to which combination one might choose in the field, and also shows that making only one image variant can be a mistake under rapidly changing conditions.

  Solo Pine, Saddlebag Lake  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2
Solo Pine, Saddlebag Lake
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2
  Twin Pines, Saddlebag Lake  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2
Twin Pines, Saddlebag Lake
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2

Ray Angle and Rangefinder Lenses: Leica 50/2 APO vs Zeiss 50/2 Planar (Wyman Cabin)

Rangefinder lenses for Leica M are compact and high performance, but subject to ray angle issues when used on mirrorless cameras. But what about a 50mm rangefinder lens? Isn’t that a long enough focal length? Nope.

Lenses are always covered in their native Guide, accordingly in Guide to Leica I show what the Leica 50/2 APO can do (the best M lens of all), along with the classic optical formula Zeiss ZM 50mm f/2 Planar for comparison:

Ray Angle and Rangfinder Lenses: Leica 50/2 APO vs Zeiss 50/2 Planar (Wyman Cabin, Sony A7R)

This general question is well answered here and surely ought to be read by owners of Leica M and Zeiss ZM rangefinder lenses contemplating a mirrorless future, since a 50mm focal length is more “friendly” than shorter focals.

  Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin Sony A7R + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH @ f/8, 2014-1028 15:35
Wyman Canyon Lower Cabin
Sony A7R + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH @ f/8, 2014-1028 15:35

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow

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

I found this image to be very satisfying, because it exhibits a delicacy not often found in outdoor landscape images. It also shows how f/2 on the Loxia 35/2, while not technically optimal, can be a pleasing option for the right conditions.

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops, f/2, ..., f/13.

Rather frustrating is the banding (tonal transition) damage done to the image by what is likely the 11+7 bit lossy compression of the Sony A7R, a flawed camera (lossy compression and shutter vibration). I have never had such issues with a Nikon D800E or D810 (14-bit lossless format), even shooting many images similar to this one.

  Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/2, 2014-1029 18:10
Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/2, 2014-1029 18:10

Zeiss Loxia Ergonomics and Focusing

In my Zeiss Loxia review:

  Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon and 50mm f/2 Planar

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: The Storm Blows In

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

This 3D scene explores sharpness and rendering style near to far and across the frame.

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: The Storm Blows In

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops, f/2, ..., f/16.

  The Storm Blows In  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/5.6, 2014-1026 16:05
The Storm Blows In
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/5.6, 2014-1026 16:05

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Aperture Series: Glaciated Meadow

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

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops in my review of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: Glaciated Meadow (Sony A7R)

This far distance scene complements a similar scene in Backlit Pines and confirms the results shown there. But it also shows that wide open, the Loxia 50/2 Planar can make a compelling image.

  Glaciated Meadow, Hoover Wilderness  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/5.6
Glaciated Meadow, Hoover Wilderness
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/5.6

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: Log Over Lee Vining Creek

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

This deep 3D scene explores sharpness and rendering style.

Aperture Series: Log Over Lee Vining Creek (Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon)

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops, f/2, ..., f/13, f/16.

  Log Over Lee Vining Creek  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8, 2014-1026 10:14
Log Over Lee Vining Creek
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8, 2014-1026 10:14

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Aperture Series: Blue Erratic Progenitor

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

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops in my review of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: Blue Erratic Progenitor (Sony A7R)

This scene at medium distance focus complements the close-range Understory Aspen and Backlit Pines series.

  Blue Erratic Progenitor  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/5.6, 2014-1026 15:17
Blue Erratic Progenitor
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/5.6, 2014-1026 15:17

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Aperture Series: Understory Aspen Bokeh

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

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops in my review of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: Understory Aspen (Sony A7R)

This scene provides terrific insight into the bokeh characteristics of the Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar. The large crops from f/2 - f/11 show the progression and style across the range. Zeiss implies pleasing bokeh with the Loxia lenses :

Almost circular aperture with 9 blades, for especially harmonious rendition of highlights outside of the focal plane.

Indeed, it is a primary reason to consider the Planar: lenses each draw differently, and a particular drawing style may be well suited to some purposes more than others. The Planar is a classic and much-imitated design for its even-tempered behavior.

 

  Understory Aspen, Lee Vining Canyon  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2, 2014-1026 08:28
Understory Aspen, Lee Vining Canyon
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2, 2014-1026 08:28

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Aperture Series: Backlit Pines

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

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes along with large crops in my review of the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: Backlit Pines (Sony A7R)

This series shows the field curvature behavior especially well, and discusses the choice of aperture given the conditions and focus.

  Backlit Pines, Hoover Wilderness  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2, 2014-1026 14:07
Backlit Pines, Hoover Wilderness
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/2, 2014-1026 14:07

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sun Wedge

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 this aperture series at f/1.8, f/2, ... f/13, f/16 which is excellent for showing the performance of the Nikon 20/1.8G under field conditions for a typical near to far landscape scene. It is a nice complement to the Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar series. Together, a very good insight into the overall performance can be understood.

Nikon 20/1.8G Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sun Wedge (D810)

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.

  Pine Creek Sun Wedge  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6
Pine Creek Sun Wedge
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6

Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Exterior

Get Leica 18mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

  Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH
Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH

The Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH is a very enjoyable lens for outdoor shooting, and makes an excellent complement to the 24/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH.

Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Exterior (M240)

Includes the ƒ/3.8-4 ... ƒ/13-16 aperture range in HD and UltraHD sizes in color and black and white, as well as large crops across that full range.

This series complements a similar series with the 24/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH.

  Lower Wyman Canyon Cabin  Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH @ f/8
Lower Wyman Canyon Cabin
Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH @ f/8

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.

Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Exterior

Get Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

  Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH
Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH

Near perfect lens performance is the hallmark of the Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH. This is one lens that every Leica M shooter ought to have.

Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Exterior (M240)

Includes the ƒ/3.8-4 ... ƒ/13-16 aperture range in HD and UltraHD sizes in color and black and white, as well as large crops across that full range.

  Lower Wyman Canyon Cabin  Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH @ f/5.6
Lower Wyman Canyon Cabin
Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH @ f/5.6

iMac 5K: More Tests vs Mac Pro

See the MacPerformanceGuide blog for more comparisons of the fastest iMac 5K vs the fastest 2013 Mac Pro.

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar

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 this aperture series at f/1.8, f/2, ... f/11, f/13, f/16 which shows sunstar behavior over the series and is also excellent instruction in flare , contrast and sharpness, color and overall visual impact.

Aperture Series: Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar (D810)

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.

  Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar  Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/13
Glacial Erratics in Blue Skylight, Westering Sunstar
Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/13

Email Notifications for Site Content

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CameraPeddler.com

Jorge Torralbe is launching CameraPeddler.com.

CameraPeddler.com was designed to help bring photographers together in a common online market place. Unlike the big auction sites or other online selling places, CameraPeddler.com offers the ability to focus strictly on photographic equipment from individuals and trustworthy reliable dealers. Furthermore, it is 100% free to post ads. This means you could post your entire inventory without incurring any fees. You only pay for what you sell.

CameraPeddler.com was developed by a well known figure in the photographic industry, his past and current ventures include popular sites such as ZeissImages.com, LeicaImages.com and other photo related sites. He has years of experience with online buying and selling of photographic gear. The intent was to develop a site where buyers and sellers can trust each other and feel comfortable with the transactions they engage in while utilizing the features of the site.

The site is full of features and additional features are currently being worked on.

  • For starters, the site features an incredibly simple to use search engine which lets you get extremely granular with your search results by letting you build complex queries by simply clicking on links. You can read more about them here: http://www.camerapeddler.com/answers/24
  • You can establish Buy and Sell friends and stay up to date on their listings.
    Leave feedback as buyer or seller for your transactions.
  • Control your reputation by removing questionable feedback immediately while the moderators review the reported feedback and decide on its validity.
  • As a dealer, you can bulk upload ads by uploading a special delimited file. This save you time and gets your inventory online soon. Find out more about bulk uploading here: http://www.camerapeddler.com/answers/14
  • Commit to buying an item and holding it for up to 24 hours while you arrange funding if not available immediately. This is called a Pending state of a purchase process. Find out more about Pending here: http://www.camerapeddler.com/answers/28
  • Upload images for your ads. Additionally, you can embed images via links in the body of your ad.
  • Use keyword searches and see the ads matching your keywords while highlighting them in the body.

In addition to the above features, a new member knowledge base will be implemented shortly. This will allow members to build up the online encyclopedia of photographic gear with valuable information for the community to research.

Log Cabin Mine

I never knew this road or mine existed near Lee Vining, CA. Very pretty aspen-lined drive up the long ascent, interesting old stuff at the mine. Miners were really good at making a real mess of stuff which is interesting to photograph. A deep shaft goes straight down into what seems to be a deep moraine or rock and dirt (not bedrock). There is mercury contamination, so maybe they found some gold to extract. Or maybe they were just hopeful, because AFAIK nothing panned out, leaving the surrounding area relatively pristine.

Log Cabin Mine

  Log Cabin Mine, near Lee Vining, CA  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8
Log Cabin Mine, near Lee Vining, CA
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8

While the sign writer seems oblivious, a helpful visitor has scrawled a note that duly points out “citizens of the United States”. But these days that is just lip service. Hope springs eternal.

  Log Cabin Mine Notice Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8
Log Cabin Mine Notice
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8

Shootout: Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon vs Sony/Zeiss FE 35/2.8 Sonnar (Log Cabin Mine, Sony A7R)

This head-to-head shootout contains some surpises.

Loxia 35/2 Biogon vs Sony 35/2.8 Sonnar: Log Cabin Mine Main Building (Sony A7R)

  Main Building at Log Cabin Mine  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8
Main Building at Log Cabin Mine
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8

Yet Another OS X Yosemite Issue: Hard-Clipped Blacks in Lightroom (and Safari)

Kirk T writes to say:

Ever since Mavericks, I have noticed crushed blacks in certain applications on the Mac, namely Safari and Preview. I do not really use Lightroom, but it appears that the Develop module in LR also exhibits this issue.

After much searching, I found a few other people who have reported this:

http://lagemaat.blogspot.com/2014/01/serious-color-management-bug-in-mac-os.html

There are some threads on the Adobe LR forum discussing this as well. They all start with "is your display calibrated" - it is not a display calibration or profiling issue.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this:

Photoshop properly displays blacks and very dark tones. Even after one converts to sRGB in PS (for a JPEG destined for the web, for example). Now, save the sRGB file as a JPEG and open it in Preview, or Safari or, apparently, the Develop Module of Lightroom and the shadows appear crushed. Open the same JPEG in PS, the shadows are displayed properly. The implication is that it is a Mac OS problem, introduced in Mavericks and apparently persistent in Yosemite (I have not upgraded to Yosemite, so I cannot personally confirm this).

DIGLLOYD: I have looked into this and I observe the following in OS X Yosemite. The word “crushed” here means that the first 5 levels are forced to black (not distinguishable). Testing on my calibrated NEC PA302W on OS X Yosemite:

  • Blacks are fine in Photoshop.
  • Lightroom 5 is a mix: both sRGB and AdobeRGB display properly in Library mode. In Develop mode, a flickering occurs flipping between images (LUT?) and the first few blacks are crushed.
  • Blacks are fine in Preview (on OS X Yosemite).
  • Blacks are crushed in Safari if the file is sRGB. I had observed some strange-looking product images on my own site, and had wondered about this somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but it never quite came to the fore (nearly all my work is in Photoshop).
  • Blacks are *not* crushed in Safari if the file is in AdobeRGB. Fortunately, I present image examples on this site in AdobeRGB nearly all the time now.
  • Blacks are fine in Google Chrome (not crushed).

This discussion thread at Adobe suggests that a fix is in progress for Lightroom (recent comments by Adobe’s Eric Chan and Kelly Castro).

So let’s summarize the state of Apple color management, noting that Apple was once the leader in it:

  • Persistent bugs in rendering images properly in Safari (similar above, I had noticed this years ago too and documented it, maybe it was just never right?).
  • Still no support for 10-bit color in display drivers (8 bit only).
  • Serious internal problems in the printing architecture (forced conversion to sRGB, a few releases back, but I’m not sure of where things stand these days or it was ever fixed). It forced color pros to start using RIPs a few releases ago.
  • Damaging (for image evaluation) bleed-through in user interface.

As I see it, this is all just one more example of Apple Core Rot.

Substantial NEC Rebates *end today*

Rebates on NEC displays at B&H.

In particular, the NEC PA272W BK-SV has a $400 rebate. It’s a 2560 X 1440 display with the NEC SpectraView II softare and hardware calibration unit included. It an be used in portrait and landscape mode, making it an excellent primary or secondary display.

I still think that a conventional pixel ratio (non retina) is better for editing images at any detail level (or a large 4K display such as the 32-inch PA322UHD, to keep pixel density reasonable for detail editing). But even if one is planning on a 4K display, a 2nd display is mandatory for my work for palettes and extra stuff so that the main screen remains uncluttered.

NEC PA272W

LG 31MU97 4K Display (4096 X 2160) Coming for Review

Good news: B&H Photo is sending an evaluation unit of the LG 31MU97-B 31-inch 4K display for review (due in mid/late Nov).

See Readers Inquire About LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display.

Update: canceling this because it is not properly supported by Macs.

iMac 5K: Coverage Relevant to Photographers

See the MacPerformanceGuide blog for a number of recent tests and so on on the new iMac 5K.

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sunlit Morning

This series complements the same series with the Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar, affording a perspective on the two focal lengths shot at the same spot on the same scene at nearly the same time.

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes, this is a first look at the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon on the Sony A7R.

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sunlit Morning (Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon)

  Pine Creek Sunlit Morning  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8, 2014-1027 10:37
Pine Creek Sunlit Morning
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/8, 2014-1027 10:37

Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sunlit Morning

Presented in color and black and white in HD and UltraHD sizes, a first look at the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar on the Sony A7R.

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Sunlit Morning (Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar)

  Pine Creek Sunlit Morning  Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/8, 2014-1026 10:30
Pine Creek Sunlit Morning
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar @ f/8, 2014-1027 10:30

Photoshop and GPU: Blurry Image Scaling

Photoshop allows enabling or disabling GPU support (Preferences => Performance => Graphics Processor Settings). For years now, I’ve disabled the GPU due to too many glitches and bugs. But under OS X Yosemite, the latest version of Photoshop CC 2014 becomes extremly sluggish with a brush or spotting tool with the GPU off. So one wants to enable the GPU for such uses.

But enabling the GPU comes with a serious drawback to my daily work: Fit to Screen on a 2560 X 1600 display results in a blurry image. This makes it very hard to assess multiple images.

Disabling GPU support delivers far superior fit-to-window sharpness. I’ve tried different cache levels and GPU settings, all to no avail. GPU support is just plain broken for zooming in Photoshop; some zoom levels are sharp and others are awful. Actual pixels is of course just fine, but then one cannot see the image as a whole. Surely a fast GPU can render a reduced size image far better than is being done (dual GPUs in Mac Pro!).

The blur or sharpness depends on the amount of zoom relative to screen and image size, so a different size image or display might be fine for some users. And indeed some zoom levels are reasonably sharp, but never fit-to-screen.

In my case, a 36MP image on a 2560 X 1600 display is awful at fit-to-window. I reported this to Adobe over two years ago, but nothing has been done. It sure is frustrating. I have emailed two Adobe contacts about it today, and I hope to hear something affirmative on addressing it.

UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Jeff Tranberry at Adobe, and they are looking into it.

The image below is a crop of the whole. Observe the blur with GPU enabled and sharp image with the GPU disabled (toggle).

Click for a full size image.

  Photoshop CC 2014 image scaling, GPU on/off
Photoshop CC 2014 image scaling, GPU on/off

The issues with the GPU do not stop there. Enabling the GPU still results in various drawing bugs such as this mangled mess. Moreover, Photoshop benefits minimally if at all for common operations either with one GPU or two.

  Mangled drawing with GPU enabled
Mangled drawing with GPU enabled

Readers Inquire About LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display

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

Order LG 31MU97-B 31-inch 4K display at B&H Photo.
Order NEC PA322UHD with calibration software and calibrator unit
Order NEC PA322UHD WITHOUT software/hardware calibration (not advised)

As of October 2014, my workhorse color calibrated display is the NEC PA302W, the “PA” being the professional color-calibration series. The likely next step is the pro-grade NEC PA322UHD; see NEC to Offer 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K Display Soon (PA322UHD). I expect to have review unit soon.

Update: B&H Photo is sending an evaluation unit of the LG 31MU97 for review (due in mid/late Nov). Thanks to readers for using the links above to buy at B&H and support their support.

Several readers have noted that the LG 31MU97-B 31-inch 4K display is less than half the price, clearly an appealing prospect for many (thanks for using this site’s B&H links to buy if possible).

Remember that a computer capable of driving 4K is necessary (Macs: 2013 Mac Pro, 2014 iMac 5K, 2013/2014 MacBook Pro).

Initial thoughts:

  • The LG display offers 4096 X 2160 resolution in a 31-inch form factor (vs 3840 X 2160 in 32 inch). This makes the LG display slightly higher-res with slightly denser pixels. For video users, the true 4096-wide resolution is a decided plus.
  • Like the NEC displays, the LG display “dead ends” the connection (no Thunderbolt data port daisy-chaining). So iMac 5K users (2 ports) eat one port to attach such displays, leaving only one (1) Thunderbolt port. However, the display should work at the end of the Thunderbolt chain.
  • Actual gamut can vary greatly against specified official figures. For example, the NEC display gamuts tend to greatly exceed AdobeRGB gamut, into the reds and blues. So “95% of AdobeRGB” can mean very different things; that specification has to account for all color shades (some of which might not be reproducible), but it does not reflect superior gamut into some colors.
  • For some professionals, color gamut and grayscale uniformity and tracking over time and temperature are all important. On the flip side, these can be fine points that are of little concern to many users, particularly those simply looking for a 4K display of reasonable size for general use.
  • Claims of “hardware calibration” need to be borne out by actual results, supported properly with software and measurement hardware, etc. Moreover, calibration can be real (the display itself, true calibration in 14 bits including “3D LUT” support and so on), or faux calibration. Many users might be well satisfied with faux calibration, but in my experience over some years, I never found satisfaction with the stepping errors in dark tones using faux calibration.
  • Warranty and support matter (and this can vary throughout the world): NEC support has been excellent in my experience, but I have no information on LG.

There are other practical operational questions as simple as: does the display sync up properly and at 60 Hz, does it wake from sleep properly, does it make any noise or smell, etc.

Last Light

Like bones, wood weathers and rots hardly at all at high altitude. At dusk it almost seems to glow in the blue high altitude light.

  Saddlebag Lake, fading dusk Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar @ f/8, 20 sec, Oct 25 2014 @ 18:36
Bones of a Tree
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon @ f/1.4, 2014-1029 17:39

Hardly perceivable by the eye, the last light of day goes blue at Saddlebag Lake. The long exposure has delivered an unusual texture to the water.

  Saddlebag Lake, fading dusk Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar @ f/8, 20 sec, Oct 25 2014 @ 18:36
Saddlebag Lake, fading dusk
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar @ f/8, 20 sec, 2014-1025 18:36

As the day comes to a close, fierce winds race across the lake, adding texture to the surface. A double down jacket comes in handy at such times: standing around it gets cold quickly.

  Scrub Pine at Dusk, Saddlenbag Lake Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar @ f/5.6, 1.3 sec, Oct 25 2014 @ 18:15
Scrub Pine at Dusk, Saddlenbag Lake
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50/2 Planar @ f/5.6, 1.3 sec, 2014-1025 18:15

Fastest iMac 5K vs the Fastest Mac Pro

Mac Pro or iMac for Photoshop?

See my test results at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

  diglloydSpeed1 Photoshop benchmark iMac 5K 4 GHz Radeon M295X vs 2013 Mac Pro 3.3 GHz 8-core D700
diglloydSpeed1 Photoshop benchmark
iMac 5K 4 GHz Radeon M295X vs 2013 Mac Pro 3.3 GHz 8-core D700

Back From Trip: Shot a Lot

I’m back from my mountains trip yesterday. A storm moved in today bringing rain (and thus snow) to the mountains, which I’d really have enjoyed. But too long and too much work builds up.

I shot a great deal in the mountains for variety, which gives me a good selection for showing a variety of usage scenarios:

  • Many images on the Sony A7R with the Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon and 50/2 Planar, including some comparisons with the Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8 and ZF.2 35/2 Distagon.
  • Nikon 20mm f/1.8G (extensive). How much I publish will depend on interest (seems modest so far), but I will be showing some nice images with it.
  • Various Zeiss lenses on Nikon D810: 15/2.8, 21/2.8, 28/2, Otus 55/1.4.

The Nikon 20/1.8 makes pleasing images at f/1.8 at dusk or night. These shots left a bit dark and are best viewed at larger size (will do in my review).

  Glacial Erratic near Saddlebag Lake, Early Night Nikon D810 + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8, 8 sec
Glacial Erratic near Saddlebag Lake, Early Night
Nikon D810 + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G @ f/1.8, 8 sec
  Saddlebag Lake Dam with Fire and Stars Nikon D810 + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G @ f/2, 259 sec
Saddlebag Lake Dam with Fire and Stars
Nikon D810 + Nikon 20mm f/1.8G @ f/2, 259 sec

NEC PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K Display Now Can be Ordered

See NEC to Offer 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K Display Soon (PA322UHD) for more information and my comments on this exciting new offering for professionals. Thanks for using these links to order.

Order NEC PA322UHD with calibration software and calibrator unit
(slightly confusing click the “Price” button to add to cart)

Order NEC PA322UHD WITHOUT software/hardware calibration (not recommended)

The PA322 UHD 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.

I’m feeling strongly inclined to return the iMac 5K for two reasons. First, the PA322UHD will suit my needs much better over time, even though it is “only” a 4K UltraHD display. Second the iMac 5K is woefully expensive once configured up, has a number of limitations, and the 5K screen while gorgeous for viewing has a very high pixel density which is not looking all that friendly for tweaking images at a detail level.

NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
NEC PA322UHD 32-inch 4K UltraHD Display
  NEC PA322UHD inputs
NEC PA322UHD inputs

Ready for the Snow (Plumage)... White-Tailed Ptarmigan?

Hiking high in the Hoover wilderness on an idyllic warm day (perhaps the nicest day I’ve ever seen this late in this area), I flushed half a covey of these birds, but some stayed put. By freezing and moving very slowly, I was able to get some shots with the Otus 85 as the birds cautiously accepted my presence and even resumed feeding. But it’s no easy task to photograph moving subjects with the Otus 85 (manual focus with razor thin depth of field).

I think these are white-tailed ptarmigan, but that’s a guess. I’ve never seen them before in all my hiking in the Sierra.

  Plumage Swap for Winter Snow Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar @ f/13
Plumage Swap for Winter Snow
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar @ f/13

The water is so low that dozens and sometimes hundreds of trout are trapped in small pools. Hiking by, the water goes alive in some shallow pools (sometimes the trout panic to the point of flipping right out of the water onto the bank). A fish-eating raptor could have a field day. This pool is relatively large and deep compared to many of the much shallower ones in which trout are trapped. This situation exists all over the Eastern Sierra due to the drought. Some trout are seen spawning in water so shallow their backs are at times out of the water.

  Brook Trout trapped in Pool Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar @ f/13
Brook Trout trapped in Pool
Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar @ f/13

Leica M Wide Angles

The Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH offers pin-sharp results wide open with distortion about as low as found in any 24/25mm lens.

  Cabin in Wyman Canyon Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH @ f/5.6
Cabin in Wyman Canyon
Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH @ f/5.6

The 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH affords a bit more moderate wide angle effect and with the added bonus of f/2 which can be used to separate the subject from foreground and background, which along with vignetting draws the eye in.

  Cabin in Wyman Canyon Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2
Cabin in Wyman Canyon
Leica M Typ 240 + Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH @ f/2

Pine Creek to Pine Lake

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo. Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED at B&H Photo.

Yesterday’s storm was all bluster, with the next day clear and still, the ferocious wind spent. And a fine morning it was indeed.

I’m getting a good sense of both of the Loxia lenses, which will be well documented in my review of Zeiss Loxia in Guide to Mirrorless. There is no substitute for field use when evaluating all aspects of a lens, including operational characteristics and performance under varying conditions.

  Stripe of Sun on Aspen, Pine Creek Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8
Stripe of Sun on Aspen, Pine Creek
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8

At higher elevations frost heave is seen everywhere, and shaded areas are not melting. This shot at around 5:00 PM.

  Icy Pool in Late October Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/13
Icy Pool in Late October
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/13

Some aspen still retain their leaves even at around 7500' elevation. Late October backlighting is wonderful. As well, the angle of the sun in late October is very friendly; this is late morning.

  Icy Pool in Late October Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8
Icy Pool in Late October
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8

The upper Pine Creek area has this wonderful striped rock lying in heaps and forming cliffs. The stripes can be inches wide, or as wide as several meters. The darker rock has a bluish cast, and the combination is striking.

  Striped Boulder Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/8
Striped Boulder
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/8

The Storm Blows In

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo. Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED at B&H Photo.

Initial coverage of Zeiss Loxia in Guide to Mirrorless.

Today started out sunny and gorgeous just like yesterday, but decidedly nippy and with ferocious winds—enough to rain gravel up Lee Vining grade.

Sure enough by late afternoon a few clouds hurried across the sky, and by late in the day hard little snow flakes began pelting me. While I am used to the outdoors, being miles from my car with no-one for miles always make me take pause—but I prepare accordingly, and was well dressed in my Western Mountaineering 'Flash XR' down jacket over a Mountain Hardware 'Nitrous' down jacket, Western Mountaineering down pants, and that over an Ibexwear wool hoody. Plus wool socks and light wood gloves. Comfy even with the wind chill below freezing.

  Brilliant Orange Aspen, Lee Vining Cany0n Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8
Brilliant Orange Aspen, Lee Vining Cany0n
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 @ f/8
  Late October Storm Blows In Hard and Fast Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/8, 1.6 seconds
Late October Storm Blows In Hard and Fast
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/8, 1.6 seconds

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G: Might be Nikon’s Best Ever Wide Angle

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

The weather in the Eastern Sierra has been unbelievably pleasant for late October. Dream days. And hardly anyone here. But a storm might be headed in.

If any reader lives in the Bishop area and has a spare Sony A7R battery, I could surely use one for a few days. I somehow forgot my spare and its charger... it’s a tedious time charging the A7R via USB3.

I get rather bored with most Nikon lenses (mediocrity is uninspiring if not annoying), but the 20/1.8G looks to be an exception and quite possibly is the best Nikon wide angle yet. Relatively small and light and with standard filter threads, all at a bargain price that includes the lens shade.

Accordingly, the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED will be getting a goodly amount more coverage when I return. I am shooting it out in the field and liking it. See the existing review coverage of the Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G.

  Glacial Erratics, Hoover Wilderness Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED
Glacial Erratics, Hoover Wilderness
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/16
  Big Pine on Lee Vining Creek Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/1.8
Big Pine on Lee Vining Creek
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/1.8
  Dead Pine with Earth Shadow, Pothole Dome Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/5.6
Dead Pine with Earth Shadow, Pothole Dome
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/5.6
  Lee Vining Creek, Morning Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/8
Lee Vining Creek, Morning
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/8
  Shallow Pond at Sunset Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/8
Shallow Pond at Sunset
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/8
  Green Lichens on Glacial Erratic Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/4
Green Lichens on Glacial Erratic
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/4
  Saddlebag Lake Dam, Early Night Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/1.8
Saddlebag Lake Dam, Early Night
Nikon D810 + Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G ED @ f/1.8

Zeiss Loxia 35/2 on the Sony A7R

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo. Get Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED at B&H Photo.

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

I’m out shooting the Zeiss Loxia lenses on the Sony A7R (also the Nikon 20/1.8G on the D810).

  Glacial Erratics at Late Dusk Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/4, 30 seconds
Glacial Erratics at Late Dusk
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 @ f/4, 30 seconds

Notched Gears: Arca Swiss C1 Cube Geared Tripod Head

Well, I did it again about 18 months after the last time. The one weakness of the Arca Swiss Cube (I hardly use any other tripod head) is that if it falls over and takes a hard knock, the brass geared teeth will notch.

As before, Robert Watkins at Precision Camera Works repaired it, and it’s smooth as butter again.

Note: the latest Cube model won’t take my preferred clamp as shown because the knob won’t clear a knob on the Cube. I do not like the Arca Swiss clamps; one can still mount a Really Right Stuff lever release clamp on the latest Cube model, but have Precision Camera Works do it, because the stock Cube has been loctited on solidly.

Arca Swiss C1 Cube geared head
Arca Swiss C1 Cube geared head

Precision Camera Works

Robert Watkins at Precision Camera Works does a variety of work with camera gear.

Please ship your Cube to us (at the address below) via your preferred carrier (we like UPS) along with your contact information, a brief description of the problem and, where appropriate, proof of warranty. For equipment not covered under warranty we will provide a detailed estimate, free of charge, before doing any work.

(If you are an international shipper, see this very important message
http://precisioncameraworks.com/Media/IS.pdf)

Our Cube repairs are turned around, on average, in 3-5 days plus shipping. (Repairs are processed in the order received and are affected by time to receive payment, where applicable, as well)

All we will need to go ahead with the repair is your approval and payment information. We accept Visa, MC, Discover and PayPal. No charges will be made to your credit card until repairs are finished. For PayPal payment, we will send you a PayPal invoice that must be paid before any repair is performed.

The Weather Window About to Close, I’m Heading to the Mountains with Zeiss Loxia 35/2 and 50/2, Nikon 20/1.8

Pre-Order Zeiss Loxia lenses at B&H Photo. Get Nikon 20mm at B&H Photo.

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

The weather window over the Sierra might close by Sunday or so, so I’m hoping to head to the mountains tomorrow to make some solid images with the two new Zeiss Loxia lenses on the Sony A7R, though its vibration issues make it a migraine for any evaluation of sharpnesss. I also have the Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8 Sonnar for comparison with the Loxia 35/2 Biogon. Optically speaking, since build quality is a world apart with the Loxia another better ballgame.

  Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon   Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*
Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon and Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T*

Also on the menu is more shooting with the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G, which so far suggests to me that it might be the best wide angle lens Nikon makes, the 28/1.8G being a dud, the 24/1.4G being fast but not really good enough, and the 35/1.4G easily bested by the Sigma 35/1.4A.

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

Retina Image Control

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

Control image size with retina image control.

Apple iMac 5K: Gamut and Display

Coverage on the Apple iMac 5K continues over at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

B&H Photo has the iMac 5K available for pre-order.

Toggle to compare the gamut of the iMac 5K vs the NEC PA302W.

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

Site Behavior: Server Change Today (“Direct Serve”)

The server was swapped today. Single server now on 100 megabit link, no separate image server now.

Please report any issues observed after 15:15 PST.

Progress

  • 14:13 PST: Servers swapped, DNS has been changed to point to new server. It can take up to 1/2 hour for DNS to update and point to the right server.
  • 14:35 PST: Server appears to be functioning normally with one exception: the Login link is missing at top right of page. Investigating.
  • 14:47 PST: account login issue resolved.
  • 00:36 PST: all three sites have had retina image handling revised and optimized.

Caution for Professionals on OS X Yosemite

Coverage of OS X Yosemite is over at my MacPerformanceGuide.com.

Professionals using Photoshop, Maya, Autodesk, Unity, etc should proceed with caution towards OS X Yosemite. It might not be ready for prime time.

I am experiencing my own severe performance issues with Yosemite, in of all places, the File Open and File Save dialogs (which I use hundreds of times a day, so this is a real time-waster in my day).

See also OS X Yosemite: Screen Bleed-Through for Images Impairs Perception.

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 occasional 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 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 probably me rebooting the server for some recent development work).

My ISP confirms my end is not blocking anything (and I can ping the UK IP addresses just fine):

1. It could be a typo on the ISPs access list where they are attempting to block private 192., 172. and 10. networks (most likely).

2. It could be that the ISP doesn’t have the full 500k internet routing table for some hardware reason (second most likely).

3. It could be that the ISP has a valid block on the actual 192.169.20.0/24 address (least likely).

All of these things would be an issue with the far end ISPs internet routing. My advice is to open a ticket with that ISP and ask why the 192.168.20.0/24 network is not being routed.

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/1.8G 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

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

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

Order NEC PA322UHD with calibration software and calibrator unit
(slightly confusing click the “Price” button to add to cart)

Order NEC PA322UHD WITHOUT software/hardware calibration (not recommended)

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.

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