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What does 50 Megapixels mean vs 36 Megapixels?

See also Sony, Fix These Things and Win and On Sony.

The rumor mill is grinding along with the rumor of a ~50 megapixel Sony “A9” (realname tbd) and ~53 megapixel Canon DSLR. I’d bet that neither company will invent a better camera name, this challenge being beyond their grasp.

50 megapixels vs 36 is 1.18X the linear resolution. In other words, you can make a 42-inch wide print instead of 36-inch wide, all other things being equal, which they most definitely will not be. That’s your best case, barring some other kind of improvement.

Note that the difference between 24 and 36 megapixels is 1.22X, and that difference is noticeable but modest, and only when conditions are perfect (perfect focus, optimal aperture, no shutter vibration, minimal field curvature). And depth of field in terms of exploiting the extra resolution is not only further reduced, but micro contrast and resolution are degraded by diffraction sooner (contrast vs resolution lp/mm). Moreover, noise might be worse (or at least no better), and Sony’s already heavily processed files just cannot stand up to real world demands for post processing in all too many scenarios.

So as per Sony, Fix These Things and Win, a 50 megapixel anything needs:

  • Superior dynamic range (15 bits please), and a lossless file format with ultra high pixel quality(offer the 11+7 bit format for the masses who should be shooting iPhone anyway).
  • It’s a camera Sony, not a damned game player or gizmo. Get rid of the crapware and randomly excreted menu choices, put in proper buttons and controls, and raise Sony camera credibility above mediocre. Parts is parts. Not.
  • A zero-vibration exposure mode, e.g., no damaging Sony A7R style shutter vibration.
  • A hyper accurate focusing system. Which means forgetting about the Canon and Nikon systems; it has to be on-sensor with special detectors.
  • Sensor image stabilization ever more important as a practical matter.
  • Lenses of Zeiss Otus grade if one wants to do more than pontificate about resolution gains across the frame: no focus shift, minimal field curvature, strict control of aberrations, etc. Can you say “another 14 megapixels of the same mush?” (the case for many lenses).
  • Existing issues with ray angle will be even worse on a higher res body (in per pixel terms), so don’t get excited about Leica M lenses on a 50MP Sony.
  • Design and manufacturing tolerances have to be higher! Good luck with that. And I wish all these vendors would spare us the fantasy MTF graphs, and publish measured results from real physical lenses (like Zeiss does).

Still, oversampling has merit, and technology can fix some things and steadily improve, so 2015 could be exciting. We shall see. Now the question is whether Leica will ever update the aging M240 with its yawner of a 24MP sensor (but which makes exeptionally lovely images with the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon). But Leica lens price escalation now puts many of them strictly out of reach and into the camera-as-jewelry realm.

Rest of January: “Everything Deal” for 0.75 Bitcoin, or Upgrade to Everything for 0.6 Bitcoin

The “everything deal” (US$249.99) for 0.75 Bitcoin.

Use coinbase.com/diglloyd.

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

Already a subscriber to anything? Same deal for 0.6 Bitcoin, plus all existing time on prior subscriptions will be added on, and expiration dates synced for all.

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

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

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

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

In Guide to Leica:

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

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

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

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

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

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

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

CamsFormer Next Gen DSLR Tether,High Speed Trigger

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lexar 2000X SDXC Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Guide to Leica:

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

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

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

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

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

In Guide to Leica:

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

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

Modified Sony A7R Sensor Glass: Impact on Rangefinder Lens Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General issues from sensor glass

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

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

See also

Terrific Deal: HOYA 82mm HMC Polarizer

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

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

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

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

In Guide to Leica:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elaine D writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roy P writes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caso F writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Email Notifications for Site Content: Option Also for MacPerformanceGuide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon   Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon   Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon  
Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II ASPH Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH   Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH
Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon,    Zeiss ZM 35/2 Biogon,    Zeiss ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon
Voigtlander Nokton 35/1.2 II ASPH,    Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH and 35mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH
(not to scale)
  Aspen Trunk;
Aspen Trunk
f4 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 200; 2014-09-24 16:08:55
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

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

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

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

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

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

Contact me. Buyer pays FedEx insured shipping of choice.

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

Order: Nikon D810 DSLR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

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

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

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

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

Approaching Storm Over Lake, Hoover Wilderness (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

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

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

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

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

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

With HD and UltraHD images and many large crops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aperture Series: Rocky Hillside (M240)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviewed: LG 31MU97 31-inch 4K Display

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

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

This review is in DAP.

LG 31MU97-B 4096 X 2160 4K Display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sensor image stabilization has huge potential.

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

Discussion included on what I found in practical terms.

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

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

Lenses as an Investment; Electronic Lenses vs Manual Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also :

Wayne P writes in Dec 2014:

Great comments on lenses as Investment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for the great articles Lloyd.

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

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

Sony A7 II and Adobe Camera Raw

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

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

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

Year End Computer Purchases: Consult

Charles (4 Mac Pro systems) writes:

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

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

MPG: I like to save my consulting clients money.

Adele writes:

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

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

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

Think Otus for High-Res Sensors

Think Otus, that is Zeiss Otus for sensors with resolution approaching 50 megapixels. It’s the 'glass' that makes the difference, and that is true even though there is far more than resolving power involved. Lenses are the investment; the camera is the accessory.

See the reviews of the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon and Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar in Guide to Zeiss.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

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Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS @ 24mm: Aperture Series, Mosaic

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

The middle of the zoom range is an important area, and often one with very good performance and low distortion.

Sony FE 16-35/4: Aperture Series @ 24mm: Mosaic (Sony A7R)

Include the usual HD and UltraHD images and large crops from f/4 - f/16. This series also 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 @ 24mm @ f/5.6
Mosaic and Pavers
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 24mm @ f/5.6

On Sony

I’ll continue to objectively review Sony cameras and lenses because they are in the market and a major player.

As for myself, I have firmed up my previous reluctance to invest my money in Sony products. Along with a revolting phone call experience last spring with Sony personnel, Sony’s checkered ethical history (which continues today with outgoing attacks on web sites), the Sony incompetence on their own security coupled with the Sony worst practice of a “root” updater Sony camera firmware, and now the whole spineless movie release thing, my discomfort with Sony has turned into contempt. This is not a company I wish to support with my spending.

At the same time, I feel no need to have that view adopted by anyone else; I am simply expressing how Sony looks to me as a a company. Which means I don’t confuse Sony the company and the many solid people within it with the leadship.

Mark M writes:

There were times I swore I would never buy another Nikon, Epson, or Canon (include Adobe, Google, etc.) product for very similar reasons of corporate arrogance; lack of competent service and customer service; predatory marketing practices; vindictive employees. Cyber security was not the issue then that it is today, and Sony Pictures has screwed up big time, no doubt about that.

On the other hand, I need to make images using the best products I can afford. And I get the satisfaction of watching Sony eat Nikon's, and though not as devastating, Canon's lunch. And in time, some other entity will blast Sony out of the water.

DIGLLOYD: My perspective is equally objective. Everyone has to deal with the reality of their own situation and a mix of conflicting factors—just like at the voting booth.

If Sony made a great camera that solves serious issues, I’d have to consider it. A product is the sum total of its part: physical manifestation, service and support, and the factors I started this discussion with.

Alfredo P writes:

I totally agree with you, so, please stop using cameras with Sony-made sensors inside!

DIGLLOYD: I sense sarcasm. Sony makes the best sensors on the market (Nikon D810).. See previous comment. I am not anti-Sony or anti any company: I just like well conceived products with good support and service and company behavior that doesn’t make raise my hackles. Sony could easily turn around its whole image, but its leadership seems to have an ingrained culture of circle the wagons.

Brad B writes:

If it hadn't been for your reviews of the A7R shutter vibration flaw and other things that were negative for me I was all set to go with that system. I wasn't thinking clearly because I was a little intimidated by the size and cost of the D810. Pfft, my fears were unfounded, after a couple of hours with the D810 it felt like an old friend because Nikon isn't stupid; basic things in thier design haven't changed that much since my first F in the early 70's and my fingers knew exactly where to go. After 40 something years of Nikon use I'm happier than ever with this amazing camera.

Sony is a huge monolithic company and their own worst enemy. I didn't know the story of the copy protection software fiasco until I read the link you provided--thanks. As for the movie melodrama, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Sony is foremost a Japanese company and they have a lot more to fear from the North Koreans than we do. If anyone is taking the hacking of their systems personally it should be people in Tokyo.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t conflate Sony the company leadership with its thousands of employees any more than I’d judge residents of a city by its leaders.

Regarding the A7R shutter vibration, I see the issue as a technical one about which I must inform my readers. Many users of the A7R can avoid or minimize the issues simply by the way the camera is used. But it won’t work in general for my needs. See also Sony, Fix These Things and Win.

James K writes:

I appreciate your comments on Sony. Not only do I own several Sony cameras, I also am a substantial owner of Sony stock, and I seriously thought of selling when the movie thing erupted. However, by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that Sony did inform the White House of the hacking and asked for advice.

Moreover, Sony pulled the movie because it could not get independently owned theaters to show it after the threat of violence. Faced with the certainty of crippling law suits in the event of an attack, and the sad realities of tort law in this country, this was a no brainer. What did bother me was the sickening bowing to one of our country’s worst race baiters, an individual who makes a living off blackmailing well-intentioned people and businesses. The only saving grace is that Sony Pictures is an independently run step-child of the parent company, and my guess is that this incident will cause a complete re-evaluation of that relationship.

DIGLLOYD: Clearly Sony has touched some nerves besides my own.

Dr. S writes:

Looks as if we both agree about the Sony Pictures debacle. Caving to this thug in North Korea can only mean we will rarely, if ever, see any movies with characters representing extremism of any kind. For example any movie depicting a militant Islamist in any fashion other than empathy/positive terms will result in terror threats from that community. If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled.

DIGLLOYD : Indeed, the chilling effects are a serious threat a healthy society, which to be free, must endure both the good and the ugly and coarse and vugar in discourse, because the extent to which unpleasant discourse is utttered is the only real measure of the true freedom of speech—when minimal it means people do not feel free to express views. To be clear, censorship is a concept often mangled by the press; it applies to government controls over citizens. As is happening now in California with our attorney general. Far worse is the effective codification of intolerance of view points into the vast majority of colleges and universities in this country (in the name of tolerance). And 51 US senators voting to consider neutering the 1st amendment. The future looks grim, and the Sony thing is only a blip.

Chris C writes:

Your correspondent, Dr. S., writes: "If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled."

The fact is that it could have been pulled right then, had Chaplin not
secured a large measure of independence. Ben Urwand, a Harvard
historian, has recently published a history of Hollywood's
entanglement with, and appeasement of, the Nazis right up to WWII.

As it happens, Urwand was just asked by TIME to comment on the Sony
debacle. His take is here:

Quote from Urwand's piece:

"So yes, The Interview was cancelled, and yes, it may have been a silly comedy in the first place, but figures in Hollywood and Washington have not allowed the events to pass unnoticed. In the 1930s, Hollywood entered into an agreement with the Nazis, and as a result, the images on the American screen were censored by a foreign
dictator. Tragically, this meant that instead of mobilizing audiences against fascism, or even giving people a chance to laugh at Hitler, there was only silence."

I think this is a lot bigger than Sony Pictures. A cold-minded, hard-nosed capitalist could analyse the stakes and conclude that indiscriminate pursuit of gain tends to create conditions where earning money at any price is no longer worthwhile —
or too risky.

Notes and References on Ben Urwand's book: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674724747&content=reviews

A positive review:

A frightful panning:

Last Minute Deals: Discounted Mac Pro, Deal Zone, and Oatmeal

The mass shopping murmuration reaches its climax right around now. But it will come down soon.

Looking for a Mac Pro? For general photography, the 6-core Mac Pro is the sweet spot. See my review of the 2013 Mac Pro over at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

Don’t forget 64GB 2013 Mac Pro memory at OWC.

B&H Photo has many 2013 Mac Pro models discounted by $250 to $400, with free one day shipping. MPG strongly recommends Mac Pro with the 1TB flash drive, or at least the 512TB flash drive, but you can upgrade to 1TB or 2TB SSD later. The B&H Photo DEAL ZONE has a few interesting smaller items.

OWC has a bunch of stuff on sale and Cyber Savers and used Macs and displays.

For stocking stuffers sure to enthrall your kids, get 'em a few bags of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Thick Oats at Amazon. Well, they can make cookies heh heh.

Server Changes in Place

About 2 weeks of intensive coding work 14 hours a day has now come to its fruition. The hard part wasn’t designing something new; it was achieving near perfect compatibility with material up to 8 years old. A goal achieved over several iterations.

“Delivery” comes with pain in my right “mouse arm”, of considerable concern and with due caution now in my head. Well, yesterday was 16 hours almost nonstop. This might slow me down for a few days to recuperate the injury.

The server now generates all gallery and crop pages on subscriber pages (the windows that pop up with large images and/or crops). This removes a significant chunk of effort from my workflow, since these pages are now automagical. It also guarantees that there cannot be “page not found” errors—because they are generated dynamically at runtime based on what actually exists. There is some risk that crops might be missed in some older material that used ad-hoc naming conventions, so please report any unusual glitches, apparently missing images, etc.

The structural changes offer further potential, which is why I expended so much time and effort—lots of behind the scenes work to do what I do here.

Visible changes

Above images in publication pages (subscriber pages), the available “gallery page” sizes are listed; each links to the appropriate page, e.g., “1284 | 2568 | 3852, and 4 crops”.

Each gallery page has these links as well, so it is now quick and easy to toggle between the available sizes right on the same page. Future pages will have additional size choices so as to make the viewing experience better for the hugely varying screen sizes (from iPhone to small laptop to 4K to 5K.

diglloyd image

On publication pages (top right) is also a new toggle option for Retina On/OFF and image size Large/Small. The current state is show; click each control to toggle, e.g. from Retina ON to Retina OFF, or from Large to Small.

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.

Sony A7R raw histogram gapping
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 also 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 help 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)


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 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.




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

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