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YouTube: Getting Infringing Content Removed

Two of my images were incorporated into a video on the Sigma DP Merrills (more than one video actually). YouTube did respond.

See Copyright Infringement Notification Requirements.

Probably there are thousands of my images out there being used without permission, but I’m just not going to worry about that battle.

YouTube confirmation of infringing content removal
YouTube confirmation of infringing content removal

David W writes:

I too am concerned about images on my website being stolen. Here's a quick, easy and free way to check the entire Internet to see if someone is using one of your images.

1. Open the Google "Chrome" browser on your computer.
2. Right click on the image you want to check.
3. Select "Search Google For This Image" in the drop down box.

That's it! I've caught many people who've stolen my images. If they have a legitimate website they will usually take down my image after I contact them.

DIGLLOYD: good tip, though it won't find images turned into video as was the case above, or at least I think it won’t.

Topics Menu System

Not everyone notices such things, so here I make it better known. See also all the various tips for using this site.

The topic menus at the top of most pages organize all content on this site. Not everything is included, so consider using search also. The three top-level menus organize three major areas.

Choose the menu for Cameras/System or Lenses or Optics/Technique.

Site Automation

From external appearances (this blog), I’ve been quiescent watching cooking shows and football while I bake cookies and munch carrot sticks. Not so.

Rather, I’ve been diligently coding new site capabilities to be deployed very soon. These capabilities will not only shrink my publication preparation significantly, but will offer new and useful behavior for readers. In short, I’ve been working 18 hour days coding server-side java, though I did take a break to do a 1.5 hour pitch-black and rainy night ride last night, with dual Lupine Betty II lampheads brighter than most car headlights. The ol' body doesn’t like 18 hours in a chair, so it needs a break. And after all, I was a software engineer for 25 years, and a damn good one. So I write my own server code.

Hang tight, and when it’s ready (soon), I’ll get back to producing content. Thank you for your support, the most helpful being the everything deal.

Meanwhile, head over to my MacPerformanceGuide.com for some interesting SSD stuff.

Leica M CCD Sensor White Spots

Kudos to Leica.

Leica Camera AG official statement:

Important Information Concerning the CCD Sensors of the Leica M9 / M9-P / M Monochrom / M-E

In some cases, particularly when using the camera models Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrome or M-E with smaller apertures (5.6-22), effects caused by corrosion of the sensor glass may be encountered.

Leica offers a free replacement service for the CCD sensors of cameras affected by this problem as a goodwill arrangement. This goodwill arrangement applies regardless of the age of the camera and also covers sensors that have already been replaced in the past. Customers who have already been charged for the replacement of a sensor affected by this problem will receive a refund.

We have now identified the problem and are currently concentrating our efforts on finding a permanent technical solution. The marks on images mentioned earlier are related to the properties of the CCD sensor. The sensors are equipped with a specially coated IR filter cover glass to ensure optimum imaging performance. Should this coating layer be damaged, corrosion effects that alter the filter surface may begin to appear after several years.

The effect described does not affect the CMOS sensor of the Leica M (Typ 240). Should you be considering an upgrade from your camera to a Leica M or M-P (Typ 240), Customer Care would be pleased to make you an attractive offer following a check of your camera and under consideration of the model and its age.

If the imaging quality of your camera gives cause for complaint in this respect, we recommend that you send it directly to Leica Customer Care or the authorized Customer Care department of your country’s Leica distributor. As longer waiting times may otherwise occur, the camera should only be sent to Customer Care after prior arrangement.

Contact: Web site: http://de.leica-camera.com/Service-Support/Reparatur-Wartung. E-mail: Customer.Care@leica-camera.com. Telephone: +49-6441-2080-189.

For us, it is important that we offer only technically faultless products. We are therefore particularly sorry if the imaging quality of your camera should be adversely affected in any way. We hope that the goodwill arrangement we have decided upon will allow us to remedy the problem as soon as possible and rebuild and maintain the trust you have always placed in our brand.

Nikon D810 Instant Savings of $300

See in depth review of Nikon D810 in DAP.

My workhorse camera is the Nikon D810. Get it with the Otii if you want the best.

D810 $300 instant savings

Canon has similar rebates.

Nikon D810 with $300 instant savings
Nikon D810 with $300 instant savings

Sony Pictures Hacked: Do You Really Want to Update your Camera Firmware with a Sony Updater that Runs as 'root'?

A month ago I wrote in Sony Firmware Updater: a Security Risk that the Sony firmware carried serious security risks, because it runs as a kernel extension (complete control over the system). It was a prescient blog post.

If you have not been following it, the IT infrastructure of Sony Pictures was hacked, taking down large chunks of Sony’s operations for at least a week, according to news reports. As well as exposing all sorts of juicy stuff to public view, like internal emails, as the Wall Street Journal reports in At Sony Pictures, Drama in Email. And a lot more apparently.

Ask your self a simple question: do you want to run a Sony updater that runs as “root” (total control over the system) from a company that has been hacked in one of the most devastating IT attacks in memory? (update: Sony private keys have been stolen).

Why would the perp stop at Sony Pictures—what’s to stop malware from being inserted into the Sony updater, which having complete control over your system as root, could do anything it wants, such as keylogging all your passwords, and then emptying your financial accounts, or similar fun stuff. Without Sony having a clue. Or you. Until you find that all your your bank accounts are empty.

Sony private keys stolen

This was written after the previous paragraph was written, before your author knew that keypairs had been stolen.

A PFX file usually contains the private key corresponding to the public key.

Compromise of the private key of a public/private keypair is a massive security blunder with huge ramifications: all content signed by that key is reported as “verified”. Yet SecureList.com reports that Sony PFX files containing private keys have been stolen.

If the PFX files are not protected with unusually strong passwords, password cracking can be employed (using massively parallel services). Once a private key is compromised, hacker malware can be inserted into desired content, then signed with the now compromised private key. The software/content would be valid by definition, since it is signed. Sony should immediately revoke all of its stolen public/private keypairs for that reason. Yet so far, it seems that Sony is mum on the stolen keypair issue. Which if correct is grossly and perhaps criminally irresponsible, because of the huge worldwide potential for damage by compromise of user systems.

It is inconceivable that a private key used by a major corporation to sign software be on any web-accessible computer. It is gross negligence. Yet this is what Sony has apparently made its practice, for how could PFX files otherwise have been stolen.

Put simply, the smart move is to assume that ALL Sony digitally-signed content/software might be compromised (soon or in coming months). As per SecureList.com:

So far dozens of PFX files have been leaked online. PFX files contain the needed private key and certificate. Such files are password protected, but those passwords can be guessed or cracked. Not all of these PFX files will be of immediate value to attackers.

The importance of leaked code-signing keys cannot be overestimated. Software signed by a trusted publishing house will generally be trusted by the operating system, security software and first responders. It's an extremely powerful way for attackers to stay below the radar.

IEEE times hits the nail on the head with “cavalier” in How Not to Be Sony Pictures:

The scope of the recent hack of Sony Pictures — in which unidentified infiltrators breached the Hollywood studio’s firewall, absconded with many terabytes of sensitive information and now regularly leak batches of damaging documents to the media — is only beginning to be grasped. It will take years and perhaps some expensive lawsuits too before anyone knows for certain how vast a problem Sony’s digital Valdez may be.

But the take-away for the rest of the world beyond Sony and Hollywood is plain: Being cavalier about cybersecurity, as Sony’s attitude in recent years has been characterized is like playing a game of corporate Russian roulette.

Sony counter attacks?

Stolen content has appeared on various sites, and apparently Sony is attacking sites hosting the content, a dubious practice at best, and possibly illegal here in the USA. That article does not cite its sources, other than “two people with direct knowledge of the matter”, so it could be incorrect, but it would not be out of character with Sony’s past ethical lapses.

The Cloud

Now forgetting Sony, consider whether the 'Cloud' is safe: Apple and Google and so on are tempting targets for all hackers. Do you want to store your stuff in the Cloud? The idea of storing anything sensitive in The Cloud is a really bad idea, just by the constant and ongoing security breaches one can read about every week. The advice here is “think about it”. But hey, cats don’t do it and celebrities do.

But all such stuff is trivial in the Big Picture. And Sony is just the canary in the coal mine. News reports indicate USA power infrastructure has been hacked. Consider the taking down of critical infrastructure of all kinds by skilled hackers backed by a foreign government. The recent turkish pipeline explosion was a non-event in terms of all the internet-connected gear that was supposed to monitor the pipeline and report failures. But stuff blew up and burned nonethelss.

Now consider the same 'turkish' ideas applied simultaneously to every power plant, nuke plant, electrical and pumping and substation, dams, ventilation systems, pipelines and railroads and hospitals and even home power meters (installed by mandate on every home here in California by jackasses with no concept of security risks). All at once with a few keystrokes, everything everywhere stops working. Stuff shuts down, blows up. Maybe a nuke melts down for good measure. Well, to put any critical infrastructure on the internet is criminally negligent by design. Cut off the water and power and nothing works—possibly for weeks and month if hackers persist. Millions die in urban areas from deprivation of food and water (consider even simple things, like cutting off natural gas supply in a severe cold front in winter). Riots and anarchy reign. Or just shoot out a few key transformers across the country. Yet this national security threat hardly registers with any of our professional politicians. The next war may not have a shot fired.

See also

Reader Comments: Sigma DP Merrill vs Alternatives

Sigma DP1 Merrill
Sigma DP1 Merrill

See in depth review of Sigma DP Merrill cameras in Guide to Mirrorless.

Also, the Sigma DP Merrill topics page and Pixel for Pixel, *Nothing* Beats a Sigma DP Merrill.

Elaine D writes:

I subscribed to your Mirrorless for one year to read the Sigma DP Merrill reviews. I know everyone, including non-photographer bloggers who have no expertise at all love to bash these cameras. I bought the Sigma DP2M based on your review. Most people and non-photographer bloggers hate the cameras due to all the listed reasons. Their reviews stop there.

I understand all the annoying quirks, but the end result is the picture. I can honestly say that out of all of my digital cameras, this one is the most annoying, and yet the most exciting. I am always excited when I print and viewing the details. Nothing gives me the 3D detailed imaging for a camera of this size like the Merrills. I could get the Nikon D800E or the latest greatest camera. I’ve had the Leica system.

I sold all my expensive gear, except to keep a few quirky items. The reason I did this was picture results. Some camera, lens, sensor combos produce lovely results, and others look like crap. The Leica gear was way overpriced for what it produced. Loved the rangefinder and the M6 film cameras were the best to use, but I’m talking digital. Sold it all. I wanted to LOVE the Fuji X-E1 but hated the pictures coming out of it, (except the color). The smearing, slow focus, not sharp photos drove me insane! I sold it and was deeply upset as I loved the body's design, but wished for the tilted screen like on the Sony NEX camera. Everyone is jumping on the Fuji wagon with the X-T1 and such, but I can’t get past my first experience of slow, inaccurate AF focus coupled with smearing files. What does everyone see in those cameras? And what’s changed? Is it better now? I still see the same sensor going into slightly different bodies.

I wanted to get the Sony A7 series camera, but the shutter vibration issue and then lack of lenses kept me from delving into it. Plus, I had the Sony NEX 6, which is as much as I wanted to delve into Sony right now. But I think the files are nicer coming out of the Sony than the Fuji. Am I the only one who thinks so? Am I crazy?

My Sony NEX 5 & 6 which everyone dismissed was much faster and smaller, with tilted screen too. It’s great for a carry-all in my bag, though not the sharpest results..

But the Merrills with all their annoying quirks beats all of my cameras in the final result…Files!. It is closest to that 3D film look, kind of reminds me of Kodachrome and Ektachrome slide film. Kind of shoots like that too in its unforgivable nature. Ha! So, unless I break out my old film cameras, the next best thing is the DP2M, and DP3M. I almost got the DP1M, but many reviews showed that it wasn’t sharpest of the three. I kind of regret that. Sharp in the Merrill world is pretty sharp, and I love that wide angle view. It’s between the Ricoh GR and DP1M. I have no doubt the Ricoh would be easier to use. I know Sigma moved onto the Quattro and I hate the look, and the fact that it shoots more like all the other Bayer sensors (read in your review). I am so happy I got a much-reduced DP3M the other day from B&H Photo. Both cameras I purchased at much lower prices, because no one is buying them. I know everyone hates Sigma Photo Pro, but it works fine on my Macintosh. An occasional crash, but not since I updated both the OS to Yosemite and the Sigma Photo software. I live in Arizona, so the Merrills are perfect here. I just need a good tripod. I have never owned a good one and think most of the gear is overkill.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your reviews. While less knowledgeable people bash these gems for their faults, which they do have, again, the final result is worth the hassle. One day Sigma will get it all right with that Foveon. I think they should dump the Quattro and focus on coming out with a workable solution for their Merrills. I’m happy with them. but it would be great to work in low light with them, and on moving subjects. LOL! I know it’s wrong of me to say, but I hope no one uses them, because I want my photos to stand out. Hahahaha!

DIGLLOYD: Agreed. And I always try to do more than review—hints, tips, how to use, etc I try to incorporate whenever possible. See Sigma DP Merrill pricing on gear page.

Richard R writes:

I can't miss this opportunity to second Elaine D's conclusion and observations about the Merrills. And nod to your not small part in introducing your readers to these marvels.

I have a 16x22 black and white of an Easter lily framed in a guest bathroom. People have actually gone in and been so blown away that they have walked out forgetting why they went in!

DIGLLOYD: Agreed. My tulips shot from the DP2 Merrill is still my favorite print ever.

Henning K writes:

I must say I really enjoy your site. I subscribe to Mirrorless guide, and I guess as many of the readers I value light weight, as I travel a lot.

I have used DP2M for a long time and recently bought DP3M as well as Ricoh GR.
Until now I have treated the Merrills as low ISO cameras only, but today I decided to try High ISO BW converting using blue channel 100 percent in SPP.

What a missed marked opportunity for Sigma, they could easily have advertised this great behavior or even made a firmware with this as a feature from start. Please see the included 2 photos, ISO 2000, one Sigma default BW(in-camera) and the other one Blue Channel BW only no noise reduction, sharpness minus 1. This is my first attempt and only a grab picture of my son.

For people who wants the phenomenal low ISO for instance when travelling but still be able to take photos in low light and not be left with a useless camera in many situations; I find it really expands the shooting envelope as Ming Thein would have called it.

According to Sean Reid it is only 2/3rd of a stop worse for noise than Leica Monochrom at 6400,when using Blue channel.

Actually this trio GR,DP2M and 3M is growing on me.

DIGLLOYD: the Merrills are keepers in many ways. Mixing color channels or using singly for black and white is another terrific application. I’ve long felt that the DP Merrills are better black and white cameras than the Leica M Monochrom: far more flexible in applying a color filter after the shot for starters.

Aspen, late autumn f/5.6 @ 1/13 sec handheld; ISO 100, Curves Sigma DP-1 Merrill
Aspen, late autumn
f/5.6 @ 1/13 sec handheld; ISO 100, Curves Sigma DP-1 Merrill

NEC PA322UHD: Reviewed (partially) + Which Colorimeter?

Some review coverage of the 4K UltraHD NEC PA322UHD is now published.

Mario A asks:

Do you need to purchase the PA322 model with the software/hardware calibration if you already have the software and sensor that came with the NEC3090.?

Is there a new hardware unit for this new display or is it the same?

DIGLLOYD: I’ve confirmed with NEC that the colorimeter is the same.

Using Adobe Photoshop: Raw Conversion, Color Management, Dual Display Issues

To DAP, I’ve updated and added to what I consider some key tips and issues for working with Photoshop. Some basics but also some issues/bugs that one ought to be aware of.

Site Maintenance this evening.

17:20 PST — This site might be erratic or unreachable for short periods tonight as some server upgrades are performed.

20:00 PST — server update finished, no known issues.

RawDigger now has a Workflow Complement: Fast Raw Viewer + Discount on RawDigger for Readers

I’ve been recommending RawDigger for some time now (histograms from yesterday’s post are from RawDigger). RawDigger is discounted for site readers, see links at end of this post.

Now LibRaw LLC has released version 1.0 of FastRawViewer (FRV) which aims to provide the most efficient possible culling and selection of images for time pressed photographers. Anyone shooting sports or weddings or other high-volume jobs will surely want to take a look at FRV.

Note that FastRawViewer can be used as culling program prior to importing into Adobe Lightroom, potentially saving tremendous time over the LR Import/Wait-A-Long-Time/Cull alternative.

At just $14.99, how can you lose?

I’ve been working with Alex Tutubalin (CTO of LibRaw LLC) for some time on RawDigger, and he has gained my respect as a developer who responds quickly to good suggestions. I expect that FRV will get better and better.

Full PDF description and see FastRawViewer web site for more.

FastRawViewer is designed for:

  • Quick viewing of a large number of RAW files (for example, taken while shooting events, competitions, on vacation, or during a photo expedition)
  • Selective viewing of RAW files
  • Culling of images from the points of view of composition and technical quality
  • Analysis of the shot — assignment of tags and ratings, moving pictures to working and archive folders, and to _Rejected folder
  • Preparation of files for conversion — adjusting orientation, tuning white balance, setting exposure correction, with optional automatic account for baseline exposure compensation used behind the scenes in Adobe converters (CameraRaw and Lightroom)
  • Transfer of files to an external RAW converter directly from the FRV (up to 3 different external programs can be specified)

Note: FastRawViewer never modifies original RAW files. All adjustments are recorded as auxiliary (sidecar) files in a standard format (xmp and rpps) and picked by RAW converters from there. Extremely fast viewing of RAW images

Thanks to its internal RAW converter, FRV provides instant display of RAW images (in full color, but also as per channel R/G/B view), as well as the means for technical evaluation of the shot: histogram of RAW data, focus peaking, highlighting of areas of overexposure and underexposure based on RAW data, opening shadows to check the noise.

Again, all of those are based directly on the RAW data, and not on the internal or external JPEG, as it common in other viewers.

  • RAW browsing speed on an average laptop — 4-8 frames per second
  • Support of almost all RAW formats and cameras, including cameras with removed CFA (those are offered by maxmax.com, or home-made), with the only exception being Sigma/Foveon RAW files (in this case, embedded JPEGs are displayed)
  • Reads files from any media without creating intermediate “collections” or image databases, thus avoiding unnecessary delays and waste of drive space
  • The ability to switch between viewing RAW and embedded JPEG (if one exists)
  • Fully customizable shortcuts: all basic operations can be performed without the menu or the use of the bottom bar.
  • Extended display of EXIF data: FRV allows you to see almost all of the information contained in EXIF. The list of EXIF fields to be displayed is customizable. 

Click for larger image.

FastRawViewer main window
FastRawViewer main window

RawDigger discount

RawDigger is the best tool available for anyone looking to hone their exposure (ETTR) techniques. LibRaw LLC is extending a discount to diglloyd.com readers of 20% off thru Jan 1st 2015:

David C writes:

I installed the trial and had an issue with the file chooser, sent something to their support and got an email back in 5 minutes. now I’m doing whatever they ask and reporting.

You can believe I’ll never see this kind of response from adobe (I bet not even *you* get it, and I’m sure not big enough).

DIGLLOYD: the RawDigger folks are very responsive—truly excellent.

Sony 11+7 Bit File Format: Gapping

Sony uses an lossy-compressed 11+7 bit file format in all their A7 series cameras as well as most others. Meaning bits are thrown away to keep the file size down. Most of the time, it works very well.

In theory “should not be visible” is the operative principle in this Sony lossy format.

If this is so, surely all medium format camera vendors and Nikon and Canon could all save us a huge amount of wasted storage space by lopping off all those unecessary bits, e.g. 8 bits is plenty, so why this 12-bit / 14-bit / 16-bit wastage? But all my experience with Nikon and Sony and other brands tells me that “should not be visible” is a crock—fine enough most of the time, but brittle.

This new page shows what a Sony histogram and a Nikon D810 histogram look like, using RawDigger to show the gapping of both. It proves nothing, but is provocative enough in the glaring differences.

Sony 11+7 bit Lossy Compression: Gapping

Click for larger image. This is a crop of the full histogram.

FastRawViewer main window
Sony A7R raw histogram gapping

On the Road: a 1TB Bus-Powered SSD for Backup

Photographers on the go should have a backup drive, which should be stored separately from the computer (consider a backup drive in the same bag as the laptop, and the bag is stolen).

On the road, I clone my laptop internal drive to the external backup after every day’s shooting download. I prefer SSDs for speed and durability.

OWC now offers a 1TB SSD for just $449 which can go into an external bus powered mini case (about $34).

B&H Photo: Apple Mac Pro for $2599, Hasselblad Price Plummets

See my review of the 2013 Apple Mac Pro.

Apple Mac Pro Quad-Core $2599 (instant savings of $400). AppleCare at B&H is also discounted substantially over the Apple Store price. AppleCare for 2013 Mac Pro.

The CPU in the 2013 Mac Pro can be upgraded after the fact, and thus it is a solid investment to start with—many users will find 4 cores more than adequate.

View all Mac Pro models

Hasselblad huge discounts

Perhaps the Pentax 645Z is having an effect. The H5D without lens for $9995 or with the 80/2.8 for $12495. CCD sensors are beautiful, but no Live View as with CMOS sensors (like the 645Z).

Hasselblad discounts up to $8505
Hasselblad discounts up to $8505

Photoshop CC 2014: Display Scaling Broken on 4K Displays (and Retina MacBook Pro)

See my review of the NEC PA 322UHD.

I’ve encountered a troublesome and erratically problematic bug: Photoshop CC 2014 Actual Pixels is not so. That is actual pixels (100%) might be drawn at 4:3 or 1:2 or something else. This is independent of display scaling mode.

Photoshop Scaling Bug

Photoshop CC 2014: incorrect image scaling
Photoshop CC 2014: incorrect image scaling

NEC PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K is Here

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

The PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K display is here and attached to my 2013 Mac Pro. Setup was flawless; absolutely no configuration or special action required, just plug and go. The PA322UHD runs at all resolutions at 60 Hz, as it ought to.

  Dual displays: NEC PA322UHD UltraHD 4K display with NEC PA301W
Dual displays: NEC PA322UHD UltraHD 4K display with NEC PA301W

There are system bugs too (not unique to the PA322UHD). At scaled resolutions, the native resolution is not reported correctly.

  Dual displays: NEC PA322UHD UltraHD 4K display with NEC PA301W
Dual displays: NEC PA322UHD UltraHD 4K display with NEC PA301W

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS @ 16mm: Aperture Series, Mosaic

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

Presumably a 16-35mm zoom is bought in good part for its 16-24mm range, that range often being hard to cover with good quality lenses, particularly on the Sony platform. And at least for me, the 16mm is of keen interest.

Sony FE 16-35/4: Aperture Series @ 16mm: Mosaic (Sony A7R)

Include the usual HD and UltraHD images and large crops from f/4 - f/16. This series laso includes a a frame with overlay showing the prime imaging area.

  Mosaic and Pavers Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 16mm @ f/8
Mosaic and Pavers
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 16mm @ f/8

David B writes:

Just wanted to say thanks for your marvellous coverage of the FE 16-35.

For one thing I wasn’t sure that I wanted it, and I’m pretty sure now that I do.

But more importantly I think that without having read your coverage I wouldn’t have been able to use it to best advantage. Finding out exactly where there is focus shift, and what to do about it, is something that would have been a huge job, and I’m guessing that I would just have gone out into the field and shot with it, and been surprised by an apparently inexplicable mixture of bad performance and outstanding performance.
Your lens reviews really hep one know exactly what to expect (modulo sample variation!)

DIGLLOYD: whenever I can, I like to show how best to use a lens or camera.

Head to Head: Sony FE 16-35/4 vs Sony FE 35/2.8 Sonnar

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS or Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar at B&H Photo.

This head to head shootout turns out to be not only an excellent counterpart to the closer range studies, but an illuminating prime/zoom comparison as well. As well as a good example of a bad sample.

Sony FE 16-35/4 vs vs Sony FE 35/2.8: Mosaic (Sony A7R)

  Mosaic and Pavers Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 35mm @ f/8
Mosaic and Pavers
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 35mm @ f/8

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4: Aperture Series at 35mm Pumpkin + Mitigating Focus Shift

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

This study is superb in showing the focus shift of the Sony 16-35mm f/4 OSS. Never before have I seen behavior this extreme, and certainly not from f/5.6 - f/8. It is the most extreme behavior I have ever encountered form any lens on any platform.

This series also shows (like the others), the truly exceptional bokeh of the Sony 16-35, which I place beyond that of any zoom I have used, and most primes. The flip side is that the bokeh extracts its price (focus shift); I think the two are related.

Aperture Series @ 35mm: Pumpkin, Focus Shift (Sony A7R)

But what to do? I speak to that in Focus and Focus Shift Mitigation. The discussion applies to any lens with focus shift, not just the Sony 16-35/4 OSS, but it also speaks to the specific behavior of the Sony A7r and siblings.

  Late November Optimist Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 35mm @ f/4
Late November Optimist
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 35mm @ f/4


Tero N writes:

Just wanted to drop a note and say that the coverage of FE 16-35/4 OSS has been superb. Understanding zooms behavior is always more complicated and when one has such quirks as the FE 16-35 the coverage is hugely valuable for a Sony FE system shooter such as myself.

Regarding the Live View Setting effect on/off; you are right on mark on it's behavior. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure that out, but there seems to be no pattern on how much and when the cameras will open up on it's own for AF when Live View Setting Effect is on leading quite random behavior on lenses with focus sift.

On the other hand the the Setting Effect Off is hugely valuable for handheld stopped down shooting with lenses without noticeable focus shift. When shooting for example Zeiss ZE lenses on the Metabones smart adapter these lenses are nicer to focus than native mount Loxias, one can focus wide open and the lens will stop down on shutter press; this gives always best possible EVF quality and refresh rate + easy to place focus; something not available in Loxias with their manual aperture control.

DIGLLOYD: more coming.

The Zeiss Loxia lenses are very compact and I like their 100% predicatable behavior. But it is true that being able to focus wide open and have the lens stop down upon exposure is all but a necessity for some types of photography (people or anything moving).

Cyber Monday Deals

This discount is hilarious ($2300 off a $3300 item). Gotta make you feel like a chump if you bought one before. Stick to the Red Dot if you have that kind of cash.

Adobe Photoshop Elements $39.99 ($60 off)

Sigma

The Sigma DP Merrill cameras are at their lowest prices ever. The DP3 Merrill is a favorite of mine and it is only $540 now.

Nikon and Canon

Wow, Nikon really wants to move the Coolpix A.

Sony

Sony really wants to move out those A7 cameras, now that the A7 II is arriving. The A7 is a fine camera and with a vibration-free electronic shutter. The A6000 with built-in EVF and hyper fast autofocus and 12 fps is a nifty little camera and discounted as it is, a new model might be in the works too.

NEC

Fujifilm

Storage

Update on LG 31MU97 4K Display

Get LG 31MU97 at B&H Photo.

See updated notes regarding LG 31MU97 support in Readers Inquire About LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display.

On a related note, the NEC PA322 UHD is due to arrive Dec 3 for my testing. It is not yet listed on Apple’s 4K display support page, but I’ve advised NEC to get it listed there.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4: Aperture Series at 34mm, Persimmon Cluster

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

This close range study at 34mm shows highly unusual behavior, albeit with lovely bokeh.

Aperture Series @ 34mm: Persimmon Cluster (Sony A7R)

  Persimmon Cluster Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 34mm @ f/13
Persimmon Cluster
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 34mm @ f/13

Two Touits for $959

See the review of Zeiss Touit in Guide to Mirrorless.

The Touits are excellent lenses for APS-C sensors, but as shown in my review, they can be also used on full frame well beyond the APS-C crop area.

Touit 12mm f/2/8 and 32mm f/1.8 for $959

  Two Touits for $959
Two Touits for $959

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4: Aperture Series at 17mm, Persimmon Wagon

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

This close range study at 17mm shows useful behaviors of the Sony/Zeiss 16-35m f/4 OSS at fairly close range. The performance is excellent.

Aperture Series @ 17mm: Persimmon Wagon (Sony A7R)

  Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 17mm @ f/8
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 17mm @ f/8

Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar: Bokeh Series, In-Focus and Defocused

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

This 5-frame series at 31mm at f/5.6 evaluates the bokeh and rendering of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS, from sharply focused to strongy defocused.

Bokeh Aperture Series @ 31mm: Buckeye (Sony A7R)

  Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 31mm @ f/5.6
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 31mm @ f/5.6

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

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

At 35mm, the results are distinctly at variance with the 21mm and 25mm results, meaning no focus shift at 35mm. A very interesting lens, and one with beautiful bokeh.

Sony FE 16-35/4: Aperture Series at 35mm, Yellow Blue Bike, Close Range

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

NEC PA302W 30-inch Display for only $1799 (with Calibration option)

XRite i1 Display Pro | SpectraView II software

The NEC PA302W has been my wide gamut calibrated workhorse display for some time now. I strongly prefer its 2560 X 1600 resolution in 30-inch form factor over the 2560 X 1440 shape in a 27" form factor: significantly more working area in a more useful aspect ratio, and slightly larger pixels (lower pixel density).

Now, get the NEC PA302W with calibration option (BK-SV) for $1799, which is about $800 down from its usual selling price. The BK-SV model includes the hardware calibrator and SpectraView II calibration, both essential for getting the best out of the PA302W.

NOTE: don’t be put off by the listed price; click the Price button and the actual price is then shown in the cart. ALSO, checkout is unavailable as this was written, but you *can* Add to Cart and check out tomorrow. Thank you for using the links on this page.

View pricing for all PA302 variants.

  NEC PA302W with calibration option (BK-SV) for $1799
NEC PA302W with calibration option (BK-SV) for $1799

While the PA322UHD 32-Inch Professional UltraHD 4K display is an option for some, a 4K display cannot be used at 4K resolution on older Macs: latest iMac, MacBook Pro Retina or 2013 Mac Pro needed to drive it,

  NEC PA302W 2560 X 1600 display
NEC PA302W 2560 X 1600 display

Sony A7R: Raw Files are Cooked (Orange Peek Texture)

Almost exactly a year ago when the Sony A7R arrived, my eyes immediately picked up an image quality issue that I described as an “orange peel texture”. Now a year later, there has been no change in this behavior (raw converters are all updated, and camera firmware is newer too).

The image used for this example looks terrific overall. And with areas of detail the texture merely overlays detail and is hard to spot. Areas of uniform tone are similarly unconcerned. It is for such reasons that most users will like Sony A7R image quality for most images.

But I find that Sony A7R image quality issues pop up in places never seen with Nikon D810/D800E, most recently in the field with an ugly tonal transition in a dusk image. This might be the Sony 11+7 bit lossy compression in part, but I now believe that Sony “cooks” the raw file, meaning there is some aggressive electronic preprocessing going on.

In this example, there are no smooth tonal transitions to be, and the orange peel texture overlays all. At ISO 80 with an ideal (perfect) exposure, I find it very surprising. Moreover, the noise pattern is such that sharpening is strictly circumscribed before ugly effects pop out: the image quality is “brittle”.

Sony A7R Pixel Quality: Orange Peel Noise (Yellow Blue Bike)

I strongly favor a Nikon D810 as a true workhorse over the A7R. With this kind of gritty noise at ISO 80, the shutter vibration, the 11+7 lossy compression, limited lens selection, the Sony platform has a long way to go before it makes me comfortable. Others of course have completely different metrics for weighing the matter (e.g. size/weight, EVF, cost, etc), and that is as it should be.

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

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

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

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).

Update 3: reproduced at 24mm with firmware 1.1 on a scene mimicking the 25mm scene below. To be published. Clearly there is no firmware fix.

  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 FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

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).

UPDATE: Sony’s marketing informtion suggests that the 5-axis stabilizatin is in fact NOT implemented in the sensor; that 2 of the axes are in fact only there if the lens is a Sony OSS lens. If true, this would make the claim rather misleading (just spell it out Sony!). Even the native 35/2.8 and 55/1.8 are not OSS lenses, let alone lenses with adapters.

  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.

Update: review unit should arrive December 3rd.

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

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...

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.

Update 2: reader Rick M points me to an Apple page which now lists the display as supported. I have requested it from B&H for testing.

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.

Limitations

Using 4K displays and Ultra HD TVs with Mac computers at Apple lists the LG 31MU97 as supported, but only at 30 Hz and 50 Hz, and it’s unclear if the 4096 X 2160 resolution is supported.

You can use 4K displays and Ultra HD TVs with these Mac computers.

MacBook Pro (Retina, Late 2013 and later)
Mac Pro (Late 2013)
iMac (27-inch, Late 2013 and later)
Mac mini (Late 2014)

You can use 4K displays and Ultra HD TVs at the following resolutions and refresh rates via the built-in HDMI port.

3840 x 2160 at 30 Hz refresh rate
4096 x 2160 at 24 Hz refresh rate (mirroring is not supported at this resolution)

With OS X Mavericks v10.9.3 or later, the following DisplayPort displays are supported at their default using single-stream transport (SST) at 30Hz.

Sharp PN-K321
ASUS PQ321Q
Dell UP2414Q
Dell UP3214Q
Panasonic TC-L65WT600

With OS X Yosemite, you can use all of the above displays as well as the following:
- LG 31MU97 4K display (at 30Hz or 50Hz)

 

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.

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