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Nikon Announces 2 New Super Telephotos

Get AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens at B&H Photo. (Links go live at 00:00 on July 2).

Nikon has finally gotten onto the super high performance telephoto path, utilizing fluorite lens elements (very expensive compared to glass). Personally, I’d like to see an all-out effort to make an absolutely superb 200mm f/2.8 and 300mm f/4 with fluorite and light weight, rather than the sorry history of mediocre designs at 300/4. Or at least a 300/2.8 fluorite version.

The 20% weight savings designed into the new lenses are very significant for handling and use of a super telephoto.

The tripod foot design is an unstable pivot-point shock-wave-propogating design compared to a superb one as that found on the vintage Nikon 50-300mm f/4.5 ED. This type of tripod foot has been the norm for years now—and it remains a serious threat to sharpness on high resolution digital, as literally a puff of breath on the lens at full Live View magnification will show in real time. Ditto for the Canon tripod foot found on Canon super teles. Then too the absence of a dovetail on the tripod foot itself forces the addition of a plate for clamping into a tripod head, adding height and weight—dumb—the lens has to be mounted to be used.

PACK LIGHTER TO GO FURTHER: NIKON ANNOUNCES TWO NEW PROFESSIONAL SUPER TELEPHOTO NIKKOR LENSES

The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lenses Dominate the Sidelines With Superior Optical and AF Tracking Performance, While New Design Reduces Weight

MELVILLE, NY (July 2, 2015) -- Today, Nikon Inc. announced two new super telephoto lenses, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR and AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. These two NIKKOR lenses use the latest Nikon lens technologies to enhance autofocus (AF) tracking and optical performance, while benefitting photographers with a significant reduction in weight. Ideal for sports, action, wildlife and press events, these lenses offer photographers the ability to capture striking images from afar with brilliant clarity and sharpness.

“The new NIKKOR 500mm and 600mm f/4 lenses were developed to give photographers the advantage on the sidelines or in the field, with a lens that can keep up with the action and get the decisive shot,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “By the fourth quarter or final period, users will sincerely appreciate the weight reduction of these lenses which allow for extended shooting, even into overtime.”

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR

Increased Performance, Reduced Weight

These new super telephoto NIKKOR lenses have been optimized for today's high-resolution image sensors and fast-shooting Nikon DSLR cameras. The new lens designs significantly improve AF tracking performance, helping photographers to capture images of dynamic wildlife or athletes in precise clarity, even when subjects are moving erratically, at random speeds or at the camera. Both lenses also utilize Nikon’s Electromagnetic Diaphragm, helping to maintain consistent exposure during high-speed burst shooting of fast action.

The addition of fluorite lens elements to the optical formula helps to reduce chromatic aberration, as well as decrease the overall weight of the lenses, saving nearly two pounds (lbs.) for the 500mm f/4E FL ED VR, and nearly three lbs. for the 600mm f/4E FL ED VR. For extended shooting days in the field, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm and 600mm lenses also employ magnesium alloy construction for enhanced durability and further weight reduction.

Because the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR weighs in at just 6.8 lbs./3090 grams (vs. 8.5 lbs./3880g of its predecessor), super telephoto performance has never been so light. This premium NIKKOR lens is ideal for nature and sports photographers who are always traveling on assignment and are looking for a fast, constant aperture lens to capture photos and HD video from a distance. The combination of nimble agility, low-light capability and superior optical performance makes this lens an obvious choice for tack-sharp images of birds in flight, aircraft or other fast moving subjects when a tripod is not always an option. The optical formula of this lens combines two fluorite elements and three Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements to further reduce chromatic aberration while providing superior sharpness and color accuracy.

For long reach with superior optical performance, professional photographers should consider the AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR, which provides the ultimate in fast-aperture and focal distance for challenging subjects. With a constant aperture of f/4, the new 600mm lens gives the photographer the ability to fill the frame and create dramatic separation between subject and background. With a weight of merely 8.3 lbs. /3810g (vs. 11.5 lbs./5060g of its predecessor), the lens features two fluorite lens elements and four ED elements to provide discerning photographers with unrivaled sharpness.

NIKKOR Lens Technologies

Adding to a long legacy of renowned optical excellence, both lenses feature the most advanced NIKKOR lens technologies, including the addition of Nikon’s exclusive Nano Crystal Coat to further reduce instances of ghosting and flare; an essential feature for capturing outdoor sports or action under the lights. Both lenses also incorporate Nikon Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, affording up to four stops of image stabilization*, with automatic tripod detection to counteract vibrations when mounted on a tripod. For pros shooting fast and erratic moving sports or subjects, using the SPORT VR mode will yield a more stable viewfinder image whether handholding the lens, using a monopod or even when panning.

For enhanced durability, both lenses are sealed and gasketed against the elements and have a fluorine coating on a front protective meniscus element to make it easier to remove dirt, moisture and smudges from the lens surface. For shooting from extreme distances, the new lenses are also compatible with select Nikon teleconverters** that provide photographers with the ability to autofocus up to f/8 with many Nikon professional DSLR bodies.

Price and Availability

The new AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR will be available in mid-July for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $10,299.95***. The AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR will be available in mid-July for the SRP $12,299.95***. Both lenses also come with a newly redesigned, lightweight, custom-fit hard case for transport. For more information on these new NIKKOR lenses as well as other Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR
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Leica Q Arrives July 2 for review

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

The Leica Q is due for delivery tomorrow.

I’m still backlogged, but I’ll be doing some work with it right away to establish its core imaging quality.

Considerations I see as interesting:

  • Just how good on form and function as a high grade camera (does it all come together in a enjoyable and efficient camera).
  • How image quality compares to the three Leica M 28mm lenses on the M240 (but I don’t yet have the new Leica 28mm /1.4 Summilux).
  • How it feels in relation to the Sony RX1R (35mm full frame) and Ricoh GR (APS-C, 28mm equiv).

Coverage will go into Guide to Leica as does all high-end Leica gear.

Canon 5DS R Examples in Color and Monochrome

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

Yesterday in Heresy: Canon 5DS R as a Black and White Camera Better Than Leica M Monochrom Type 246?, I made the argument for the Canon 5DS R as a powerful black and white camera.

Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show four examples in color and with monochrome variations, up to 24 megapixels in size, and with crops.

Canon 5DS R: Examples: Color and Monochrome (White Mountains)

The results are compelling.

Toggle to compare the three variants.

Backlit Bristlecone
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Viewing Tip: Google Chrome Blurs Images

My images are very carefully prepared to show at their best.

I just discovered today that Google Chrome for OS X has a nasty bug that blurs large images, e.g., those nice 24 megapixel ones I generally provide in my publications. Smaller sizes are also affected. I don’t know how long this has been going on, or what the size cutoff is for the damage. And I don’t know if this affects Chrome on PCs (non Macs).

Use of Google Chrome to view the larger images on this site will draw slightly blurred images.

It looks like Chrome is drawing large images to the screen incorrectly (as if it were resampling and then drawing), because right-clicking to copy the image and then pasting it into Photoshop shows the proper sharpness in Photoshop, that is, the image is being downloaded properly and cached properly, but not drawn properly.

Apple Safari strongly recommended for Mac users, Firefox for PC users.

Don C writes:

Yup, the star trails in your very nice Moonstar Bristlecone are blurrier displayed in Chrome than in Photoshop after a copy/paste.

It's not a huge amount but it's definitely there. Display is a 4K LG on my PC. Doesn't look like Safari is an option - seems Apple discontinued support for Safari on PCs just over 3 years ago with Version 5.1.7. However, I am just as happy to look at individual
images with Photoshop if I care about the display quality.


DIGLLOYD: As I don’t have a PC or even a virtual one, I didn’t realize Safari had dropped support for PCs. Firefox might be the best alternative for PC users.

Chrome’s behavior seems intermittent: today it worked OK. There may be some factor involved, like how much memory it is using (even if the system has ample free memory).

Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Trashed Interior (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Canon 5DS R DSLR at B&H Photo. $300 instant savings on the Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon (or the Nikon version) through 31 July.

This is a lens evaluation series* at 50 megapixels, in Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon Aperture Series: Wyman Cabin Trashed Interior (Canon 5DS R)

With entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and large crops from f/2.8 through f/13.

This scene has some very interesting details and “shape” that show that the Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagon still has to be considered one of the best wide angles available today.

50 megapixels has its challenges, but I came away impressed with the results, especially in context of far more expensive systems like Leica M. The extra sensor resolution really does matter in impressive way.

Wyman Cabin Trashed Interior
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OWC Firecracker Specials
SSDs, hard drives, iPad, enclosures, used Macs and much more!
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FOR SALE: Leica, Canon, Nikon Lenses

Selling this gear— a business decision; cannot afford everything and so much new and expensive gear arrives each year, and this year key new systems have to be bought.

All lenses excellent to perfect glass (no scratches, dings, etc), lightly used, working perfectly, USA market lenses. Some have wear on lens hoods or similar, most pristine. In original packaging/box as shipped. Local buyers welcome to inspect firsthand.

Contact me. Buyer pays FedEx insured shipping of choice or picks up locally.

  • Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED $650
  • Canon 5D Mark III $1950, in original box, etc
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $900
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $1050
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $700
  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH $3000
  • Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE (2010 version) $3400
  • Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH $8000
  • Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH $3000

In Stock: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L II IS and Sony FE 90mm f/2.8, Fujifilm X-T10

Get Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II and Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo

Both lenses in stock as this was written.

Also new and in stock: Fujifilm X-T10.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8

This lens arrived for review a week ago, but with no Sony camera body, I sent it back—I’ve elected to defer review to the new Sony A7R II until late July when the A7R II is expected to ship (I expect to have one of the first shipment available).

I never did buy a Sony mirrorless body—too many flaws—but I will be buying the A7R II for sure, since the A7R II addresses most of the flaws of the Sony A7R and as a bonus has upped the resolution.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L II IS

I reviewed the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II a few months ago on the Canon 5D Mark III. It has many fine properties, and is a serious upgrade over its predecessor. It will show some weaknesses on the new Canon 5DS R, but that’s the case with all Canon EF lenses.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

 

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Heresy: Canon 5DS R as a Black and White Camera Better Than Leica M Monochrom Type 246?

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo

I previously showed that the Canon 5DS R can perform well as Leica’s latest monochrome nothing-new-but-the-sensor camera, so much so that I deem the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 dead on arrival without special reasons or money to burn or some RedDot cognitive defect. There are some valid reasons of course, like len sharing with the M240, lens compactness, high ISO (maybe), etc.

For the cost of the Leica MM body alone, you can get a Canon 5DS R and a Zeiss Otus, which beats any and all Leica M lenses in every way except size/weight. So that is a valid reason to go Leica MM, certainly (size/weight). But the general PITA self-flagellation of the MM, and hugely constrained final baked-in results are a cognitive dissonance challenge for some shooters. Look at reality, then make a decision.

For a comparison, see Canon 5DS R is a Sharper and More Versatile Monochrome Camera than Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

So now I repeat and emphasize that heresy. Want monochrome quality better than Leica? Get a 5DS R, shoot in color, convert to B&W after the shot with a staggering number of approaches that can bring out tonal differences that the MM cannot (it cannot record color differences at all, a filter or no filter bakes-in the tonal mappings between colors). Downsample to 24 megapixels just to make the point (the Leica MM resolution), go gaga at the incredibly detail and quality.

The more I look at the 5DS R and what it can deliver at 50 megapixels, the more I like it for black and white (maybe because all the current ACR profiles suck). I’ll be showing some examples of black and white conversions from 5DS R images. IMO, it rocks. Not that the Nikon D800E or D810 doesn’t also, as proven nearly three years ago. But 50 megapixels bumps it up, noise or not (downsampling to 24MP from 50MP is the only fair comparison as it equates to print enlargement, so don’t forget that if comparing to a Leica MM).

Toggle to compare, and check out the actual pixels crop from 50MP. This image is a trivial conversion (about 2 seconds of effort); many other variants are achieved with virtually no effort.

Cabin interior
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Goof

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo

This is what happens when you experiment.

...

OK, I’ll confess: I thought the exposure was done, but it wasn’t and I picked up the tripod with camera and went outside. If I had the right modern art connection, I suppose I could call this abstract fine art and charge $200K per print? Oops, wrong title on blog post for that goal.

Still, I rather like it; it reminds me of the mountains.

What is it? The interior of a cabin along with the exterior!

Mountains in Fog
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Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays

Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Bristlecone Vista at Dusk (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo. $300 instant savings on the Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon (or the Nikon version) through 31 July.

This is a lens evaluation series* at 50 megapixels, in Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Bristlecone Vista, Late Dusk (Canon 5DS R)

With entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and large crops from f/1.4 through f/13.

It has come full turn: I started Guide to Zeiss using Canon bodies with a lens adapter for Nikon-mount lenses.

Now the wheel turns, and it’s back to Canon, but native EF mount.

* Specialty lens evaluations always go into the native publication. Details.

No gradient filter was used here, that is natural tone and lighting on the distant hills. It caught my eye, but it was getting dark to see and I was hurried— I don’t quite like the compositional balance.

Bristlecone Vista at Dusk
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Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Canon 5DS R: Summary Thoughts

Canon 5DS R

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

See the rest of the review of the Canon 5DS R also.

Not for the faint-hearted, no punches pulled:

Overview of Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R

Initial comments :

Ergonomics and Usability

Bottom line: dedicated Canon shooters looking for an upgrade over the Canon 5D Mark III should get the Canon 5DS R. It’s that simple. Everyone else should read the first piece above.

Lexar Camera Cards Tested: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB

Lexar Professional 64GB 2000X SDXC
with supplied card reader

Over at MacPerformanceGuide, I’ve organized three recent card tests:

Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB SDXC Camera Storage Card (Tested in 3 Card Readers)

Lexar Professional 1000X 256GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Lexar Professional 1066X 128GB Compact Flash Camera Storage Card

They’re all excellent, but whereas in the past I trended to using CompactFlash, that standard has lagged in both speed and capacity, so my current preferred card is the high speed Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC.

But even though it’s not the fastest card, I also like the Lexar 1000X 256GB SDXC for a simple reason: I can make a backup of all critical data and stick it into my wallet and not even notice it being there. Very cool.

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 reason, but for now 64GB serves me amply for most of my trips (not filling up).

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM on Canon 5DS R: What Can a Pedestrian Lens do at 50 Megapixels?

Get Canon 5DS R and Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM at B&H Photo. As this was written: Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera Body Kit with EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens for only $548, total savings of $250 ($50 off lens and $200 off the camera).

The 40mm f/2.8 STM is a lens I rather like; it makes an excellent body cap, weighing only 125 grams, and is corrected optically in a pleasing way. At about $149 with instant rebate it’s a go-anywhere lens that fits into just about anything. Might as well use it over a body cap.

At 50 megapixels, the Canon 5DS R challenges any lens. So how does it do on a very simple pancake lens with only six elements?

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Aperture Series: Industrial Feed Plant in Oakdale (5DS R)

This aperture series from f/2.8 - f/11 shows how many lenses are likely to perform on the Canon 5DS R. It’s an excellent target showing performance across the field. With entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels as well as the usual large crops.

Note that this is not a camera review piece; rather it is one of a number of lens review updates I have planned that I’ll be publishing across brands and focal lengths; as such it goes into the appropriate publication, in this case my review of the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM in DAP (same publication as the review of the Canon 5DS R).

Oakdale Feed Plant
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

OK, So Up in the Mountains in a Canyon, Whadya do for Power for a Laptop?

The smoky conditions were discouraging for photography (and cycling e.g., lungs), and led me to find a table and chair in a remote not-yet-trashed cabin to make use of my time in order to prepare Canon 5DS R vs Canon 5D S: Moiré and Aperture and Canon 5DS R: Noise Under Real-World Conditions in the Field. No problem in general, but it took 4-5 hours to prepare both pieces (evaluate carefully, write it up, etc, not so easy on a MacBook Pro vs home setup).

But what about when the MacBook Pro Retina has enough juice for about 3 hours of real-world usage (about 1/3 of the Apple battery life claims)? Walk a short distance back to the SUV, plug the Apple MagSafe brick into the 12VDC to 120AC power inverter, try to work in hot sunlit car with glare on the screen, idle the engine so that the SUV won’t get irritable about a constant power drain from a 85W Apple AC power brick plugged into a 12V DC to AC power inverter. Lotsa power sucked when battery is down to ~5% for a good while, low efficiency charging.

Which got me to thinking... the Sanho HyperJuice 1.5 External Battery with Magic Box Kit (222Wh, Silver) looks slick for just such a scenario. But I don’t have one and B&H won’t ship it apparently. [Amazon apparently will ship the Sanho Hyperjuice]. I’m wondering about it or some alternative out there. I’ve asked the manufacturer to send me one for review, but I don’t know how they’ll respond.

Apple has a MagSafe patent, but does not see fit to provide any 12V DC charging option for it. One can web search for MagSafe and see various products that skirt the edges of legality*. One source tells me that even modifying the MagSafe charger may be of dubious legality (I’m no legal expert, so I cannot say). The Sanho unit is of that genre; you modify the MagSafe power brick. If Apple would offer a solution to charging a laptop in a car... well patents are a Good Thing but can also ensure no solutions to real challenges, e.g., can be anti-customer.

Maybe USB-C will make all this charging nonsense vaporize (not sure).

* The end user customer has the right to modify the cable/charger, the issue is a another party actively enabling the conversion, which is risky under patent law in US. Sanho’s business is batteries, and they’re apparently willing to take the risk, but don’t look for their products in the Apple Store; Apple has many levers short of suing. What’s puzzling is that Apple has not pressured B&H to drop the Sanho product entirely, since B&H is an authorized Apple dealer, quite a lever indeed.

Sanho HyperJuice 1.5 External Battery with Magic Box Kit (222Wh, Silver)

Reader comments

Reader comments follow, in rough order received so as to not repeat/redo my comments.

Paul W writes:

I use several different strobe setups for photography---among them the Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes. Paul C. Buff has several options for portable power, including the Vagabond Mini. It comes with an AC charger, but there is an optional car charger available, plus extra batteries.

It might not be as small and sexy as the Sanho unit, but it is about half the price, and I am guessing it holds more juice (just a guess). On number of occasions I have tossed one of my Vagabond Mini units into the Jeep when I know I will need the spare power for my Macbook Pro, iPad or iPhone (or anything that requires power/charging and a low-amp draw). It also has USB ports in addition to the AC outlets.

DIGLLOYD: Vagabond Mini has 130 watt hours compared to 222 watt hours for the Sanho unit mentioned, one useless 0.5A USB port (even an iPad needs around 2 amps, external bus powered drives need 1 amp or so, so 0.5A is a toy), it's awkward and then there is the battery to 120V AC socket to MagSafe to DC efficiency losses.

If you're doing battery to 120V AC to MagSafe it's not efficient. Things will get hot and the power draw is pretty intense for a good period of time coming off a drained laptop battery. A MacBook Pro Retina has an 85W power adapter; this is a very high power draw on a lithium ion battery, not to mention the DC-AC-DC losses (battery to AC outlet on the unit to Magsafe to laptop). Power draw drops considerably when the laptop is mostly charged, so one would then have to cobble together things while working to have it feed in power to avoid discharge of the laptop battery to begin with. Oh joy. No, I want a high efficiency recharge unit so I can drain the laptop and then and only then cable in the external battery. The MacBook Pro Retina has a ~100 watt hour battery, so a 130 watt-hour external unit is not likely to even be able to charge it fully once DC-AC-DC losses are accounted for. In other words, the MagSafe technlogy needs a direct-12V-DC option, not just the AC power brick.

I can just go to an auto parts store and get a lead-acid jump starter box with cigarette lighter socket for $39 if I want a cheap DC source. I already have one, and maybe I’ll just sigh and do that. If it’s 50% efficient... well it also has an air compressor and can jump start a car and has a handle for carrying.

The issue is getting DC to DC efficiently (90% or more) and that Sanho unit does that by splicing into MagSafe to avoid the DC battery to 120V AC to DC cycle (skanky but I admire the ingenuity). Apple doesn’t care about outer-zone use cases like this, as usual with all its products.

BTW, kudos to the one and only one camera company I know of that does charging right: Leica supplies a charger with both a 120V AC and a 12V cigarrette lighter socket charger that is supremely efficient for charging batteries for the M240 and other M bodies in a vehicle (12V socket). All camera vendors and laptop vendors ought to offer such a 12V charger.

Thom Hogan of byThom.com writes:

My assistant and I have used the HyperJuice in Africa for years now, dating back to before Apple forced them to do that weird thing because of the MagSafe. We charge the HyperJuices off the vehicles as we travel during the day, then run them down while back at camp. They work great, and do pretty much what they say they do. Never had a problem with them (I’m still using my original, my assistant updated his to the latest). Indeed, they’re useful for quick charges of USB devices, too. The one thing I’ve not been able to do reliably with the HyperJuice is charge it from solar panels.

Even though we bring a generator on our workshops, I’d say we tend to do more laptop charging from the HyperJuice than the generator. First, the generator is a pain, noisy, and has issues with varying loads so we have to manage it very carefully. But second, the HyperJuice is just more convenient, as the vehicles we use all have multiple access points to charge it.

DIGLLOYD: reader Jeffrey J informs me that they are right over in Fremont, CA, across the bay from me (about an hour drive), so I may just stop there on the way out on my next trip. Also this table of battery life is useful.

Ross J writes:

Pawtec car charger for Magsafe

I found this Pawtec Macbook High-Speed Car Charger - Compatible MagSafe 2 for Apple Macbook / Air / Retina Mid-2012 - Present. I haven’t used it, but it might be an answer, and is a huge amount cheaper than the external battery.

DIGLLOYD: This looks perfect: 12V DC-in from car charger direct to Magsafe port.

How Pawtec can do this, apparently in outright patent violation and right in Westlake Village, CA (though that’s a suite and no phone numbe ris listed), I don’t understand, but I’ve submitted a question to them on that via their web form.

I’ve also submitted a form at Apple Legal regarding this Pawtek product. I don’t want to use products that violate intellectual property rights (MagSafe patent), so I figured that if Apple responds to me then I can proceed (or not) accordingly to try the Pawtek and/or HyperJuice products. If no reply, then dunno.

Other companies

BatteryBox in Mountain View CA, within spitting distance (so to speak) of Apple HQ, speaks to the patent issue explicitly in A special connector compatible with MacBooks:

Why a new connector design? The magnetic cable Apple designed for powering the MacBook is patented - only they have the right to use it. The SnapFit Connector is a solution that does not infringe on any intellectual propery, and allows for an easy method of connecting to the laptop.

The BatteryBox unit is 60Wh, which is about 27% of the HyperJuice unit, but BatteryBox is much smaller (A MacBook Pro Retina has a ~100 Wh internal battery, so 60 Wh is not a huge gain in runtime). A headache is that it cannot be charged by DC; it takes USB charging via an AC wall-wart, so back to the same old power inverter problem in the field.

BatteryBox with MagSafe compatible connector

...

With so many products skirting the edges, I wonder how Apple weighs in on this.

None of this mattered for 3000 years or so to this bristlecone. And still doesn’t.

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Back From Mountains Unexpectedly Early Due to Forest Fires

Well, three forest fires canceled the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Double Century, which I was hoping to win (placed 2nd in 2012). I was feeling strong, having timed perfectly a peak in fitness and rest, feeling robust after a few prior weak weeks. After five previous double centuries this year, and months of hard training (cycling). And never had I so rapidly acclimated to altitude, not even bothered by 14,232 feet elevation after only 48 hours acclimatization. It’s a major bummer for my season (my 2nd most important event), but a canceled double century is far better than the hapless Markleeville residents told pack belongings and be ready to evacuate from the fire.

Thunderstorms are predicted this weekend—the entire Sierra could be ablaze this month. It’s likely to be a record fire year after two years of extreme drought, and this is only June. Thunderstorm season is now just beginning: lightning strikes are causing more fires than ever before (fire numbers not clear here, number of fires vs burned area and so on)*. The Washington Fire:

The Washington Fire, located 3 miles south of Markleeville, California has burned 17,622 acres and is 29 percent contained. The primary objective of suppression efforts remains the protection of the community of Markleeville. Thunderstorms are forecasted that could bring stronger winds and lightning, which could hamper firefighter’s efforts.

* In general, most wildfires are started by people (various sources state this as a generality), but given the lightning prone Sierra Nevada and dry conditions, it’s not at all self evident that that general principle applies. I have personally observed many post-storm lightning fires burning in the Sierra at night, from the White Mountains.

For photographers, I’d suggest avoiding the Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley and White Mountains areas for a while. Unless you’re looking for hazy orange sunsets. The more western portions of Yosemite National Park had little or no smoke (I drove through), but that could change overnight and day by day. The wind patterns are sending smoke east of Mono Lake and the White Mountains, then driving smoke south and east of the White Mountains, then west into the Sierra (I could see this happen from my perch high in the Whites), creating a huge polluted area but so far leaving more western areas unmolested. South-easterly winds were generating some thunderstorms as I left, with a spattering of rain that will do little to suppress lightning-strike fires unless more moisture comes.

Then today while descending the gnarly upper Silver Canyon (the road is in the worst shape in years), a rock punched a hole into one of my A/T tires, right through the thickest part of the tread and puncturing right through the belts. I limped it back to Bishop using the on-board air compressor to inflate it every five minutes (it was losing about 1 PSI per minute). The tire was patched but had sidewall damage, so I had the tire patched and a tube installed; no suitable replacement tire of proper diameter was available and it was a Friday. Then I drove 6 hours home. Tire to be replaced of course. Quite a day. I’m going to have to lug along a full spare I guess—an awkward bulk, but this is my 2nd ruined tire in Silver Canyon for two years running.

Anyway, the entire Eastern Sierra / Owens Valley / White Mountains areas polluted by smoke that made photography yesterday and today a hopeless situation, so I headed home today as per above. But not before shooting a bunch of material earlier in the week, so I’ll be publishing various soon.

Barcroft observatory dome near White Mountain Peak
Great Deals on Used Macs at OWC!
Mac Pro, Mac Mini, iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iPad, Displays

Reader Comment: NEC PA 302W Wide Gamut Display with Calibration

Bruce Z writes:

I just wanted to tell you, I saved just over $200 on the NEC 30” monitor buying it from B&H instead of our local guys (which is too bad because I like to support my local guys, but hey, they left me no choice really.)

That $200 goes nicely towards your consulting fee, so you and I both win there!

And WOW, a 30” monitor … how the hell did I manage without one before!

I am working through your other recommendations, starting with OWC back-up systems, etc. The new Mac will come last.

DIGLLOYD: [Bruce is referring to savings at Canadian prices over his alternatives; B&H ships to Canada]. The NEC PA302W is currently at $1699, which is about $1000 less than it has been for some years.

UPDATE 29 June: The price has been moving around and the B&H price on the PA302W has now apparently lapsed. OWC also carries the PA302W, as does Amazon.

The PA302W remains my primary workhorse display, still has a 'killer' color gamut better than most anything, an eye-friendly pixel density, and I strongly favor the 2560 X 1600 work area over a cramped widescreen 2560 X 1440.

The color gamut of the PA302W is shown below; it is the outer triangle. Its gamut extends far beyond that of AdobeRGB in the reds, magentas and blues. Given that some Epson and other brand printers can print beyond AdobeRGB, it is my view that a display with this sort of gamut is ideal for assessing “master” images—editing for display limitations (most displays) even as printer gamut exceeds some areas of display gamut makes no sense at all: it’s hard to make valid judgments on color, let alone saturation, and detail will be lost. Doing that to a master image (one from which prints are made now and in the future) is a very bad idea.

PA302W color gamut goes way beyond AdobeRGB in the rads and blues
Huge Selection of Drones

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM on Canon 5DS R: What Can a Pedestrian Lens do at 50 Megapixels?

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

The Canon 5DS R has no anti-aliasing filter, which has two effects: (a) an increased propensity to moiré and color aliasing, and (b) superior micro contrast (visible and commented upon in some of the comparisons).

Comparing control of moiré between the Canon 5DS R and 5DS:

Moiré and Diffraction Across Apertures: Canon 5DS R vs 5DS (Window Screen)

The results are of practical value for anyone considering which model to acquire as well as a practical approach to combatting moiré.

Moiré

Canon 5DS R Hits New High, With Zeiss Otus

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

A double-entendre, but I could not resist.

More resolution than ever seen before in a DSLR, taken at 14,252 feet elevation (4344m) with the Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon. I lugged it and the Canon 5DS R and a small tripod to the summit. It makes me wish for an Otus f/2.8 line (for much smaller size and weight), because for such things, lugging a beast of an f/1.4 lens is a chore.

It was a slog up to the summit (somehow I acclimated superbly well in only 48 hours from ~sea level at home!). In the past in dry conditions and with minimal pack weight, I had nearly “cleaned” the entire route (one foot dab in loose gravel on sharp turn), but yesterday was tough, with soft slurry in places and loose stuff and some knee-deep post-holing through snow. The road should be clear for riding in about a week. Going down was a blast as usual. The Moots Mooto X YBB 29er performed superbly as usual, the Schwalbe Hans Dampf used as front tire being an outstanding choice for the extremely rough and rocky terrain.

But I’m really bummed that the 2015 Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge has been canceled due to road closures and hazardous smoke conditions, and my fitness just hit a fresh peak (I was hoping to win it this year, vs 2nd for 2012). The forest fire smoke is polluting the entire area; this morning it even made its way over the White Mountains, though later in the day winds seems to have pushed the smoke back to the west. Still, the Owens valley, Eastern Sierra, Yosemite are all polluted with smoke as I can see from my vantage point at about 11,000' in the White Mountains.

Summit of 14,242-foot White Mountain Peak, White Mountains of California
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Canon 5DS R: Noise Under Real-World Conditions in the Field

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

This image makes an excellent candidate for assessment of noise in the field: shot at late dusk in blue light, 30 second exposure, contrast that maxes-out the dynamic range of the Canon 5DS R sensor.

Shown as-shot and with adjustments, and with and without chroma noise reduction, as well as a very large crop in the ProPhotoRGB and AdobeRGB color spaces, with RGB and grayscale versions together with the red, green, blue individual color channels from both color spaces. Also, the entire image is shown up to 24 megapixels, which gives a good practical feel for how it compares to the 22-megapixel Canon 5D Mark III.

Canon 5DS R Real-World Noise: Moonstar Bristlecone

The results are instructive for users of any camera in terms of chroma noise reduction as well as the use of color space to control noise with images shot under this kind of extreme lighting.

Moonstar over Bristlecone
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Canon 5DS R: Field Shooting

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

See my previous posts and review of the Canon 5DS R.

It was a long day, one of the last images is shown below. The Canon 5DS / 5DSR are complex cameras with more menu options than ever. I had to really study things out to get the camera configured the way I wanted it (Canon 5D Mark III much easier)—a real head scratcher for a while, with one critical AF option not even in the AF menu section—not well done.

Canon offers a timed bulb exposure: with the camera in Bulb mode, enable the Timed Bulb setting, dial in the desired exposure (to the second and up to hours long), press the button and walk away—job done. This is very handy, a pity that Nikon didn’t do it like Canon has; Nikon T-mode forces you to time the exposure yourself and press the button yourself, incredible as it seems (unless I've incredibly somehow missed something). There is still room for improvement with Canon—why is exposure arbitrarily limited to 30 sec anyway? The Ricoh GR allows directly choosing up to 5 minutes with no foolin' around with special settings or modes.

Update: reader Mike H points out that the Nikon D810a astrophotography-oriented model has a “timed bulb” feature. Hopefully this will make it into a D810 firmware update.

Moonstar over Bristlecone
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Canon 5DS R: Heading Out to Shoot in the Field

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

See my previous posts and review of the Canon 5DS R.

I”m heading out today (well, I was delayed, darn it) for field shooting for a week or so with the Canon 5DS R and 5DS and various (and with a “break” for the Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge, but not carrying a camera!).

I’m looking forward to my own impressions of how much the additional detail means for real field shots, having a years-long history with the Nikon D800E and Nikon D810 at 36 megapixels. I’ll be shooting a lot of Zeiss lenses of course, but I’m also taking along a number of Canon EF lenses for assessment.

Contact me if interested in a 1 or 2 day photo tour in the June 23/24/25 time frame.

Zeiss Rebates / Zeiss Discounts Ongoing

Just a reminder that Zeiss DSLR and Touit lenses have substantial discounts (up to $300 off). Plus, B&H has 4% rewards as well. My understanding is that the rebates run through July 31st.

View all Zeiss rebates at B&H Photo.

Favorites: Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon, Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 Distagon, Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar, Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

And of course Zeiss Otus. The Otii do not have rebates, but the 4% reward applies.

To mark the 125th anniversary of ZEISS camera lenses, we are proud to introduce our instant rebate promotion. Take advantage of this exciting promotion currently running on a wide range of ZEISS SLR lenses and save up to $300.

Impressive creations of photography and cinematography have been developed through the lenses of ZEISS. The most ambitious photographers and movie makers love working with these versatile and reliable partners. The experience of several generations, supreme precision and uncompromising passion for optical systems - ZEISS lenses made history and withstand the test of time.

The instant savings are valid for purchases made from 05/18/15 – 07/31/2015.

DIGLLOYD: unfortunately, unlike Zeiss lenses, currencies do not stand the test of time, unlike real money (gold and silver).

Canon 5DS R: Field Shooting

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

See my previous posts and review of the Canon 5DS R.

I”m heading out early Monday for some field shooting with the Canon 5DS R and 5DS and various.

Contact me if interested in a 1 or 2 day photo tour in the June 23/24/25 time frame.

Canon 5DS R: new King of DSLR Resolution

Get Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss ZE SLR lens B&H Photo.

See my previous posts and review of the Canon 5DS R.

Yes, the Canon 5DS R beats out the Nikon D810 visibly. As for the Canon 5D Mark III, it has seen its day and will keep many shooters happy, but mine is for sale.

I have yet to formally evaluate dynamic range and color with the Canon 5DS/R but impressions are already firm: it’s no Nikon D810 in those areas (and ACR has issues with 5DS files).

If you want the best sharpness today in a DSLR, go with the 5DS R, which has no anti-aliasing filter (Zeiss Otus and certain other quality lenses advised). The 5DS with its anti-aliasing filter lacks the same micro contrast (subtle the plain to see at all times), and I don’t recommend it for peak sharpness; see the comparisons in my review such as the 4-way comparison.

As I see it, lovely image quality gains are possible with a 100+ megapixel DSLR (with the right lenses). Even against a monochrome sensor, oversampling works. And the naive assumption about megapixels being all about sharpness is a simplistic viewpoint that ignores all the other benefits. All that is needed is advances in sensors to make 100 megapixels a reality (with the quality of today’s 36-50 MP sensors). Sony is already on that track with its 42-megapixels sensor in the A7R II, and the RX10/RX100 sensor density is 148 megapixels, so it’s only a matter of time to scale that up and improve upon it for full frame.

Our trusted photo rental store

Canon 5DS R is a Sharper and More Versatile Monochrome Camera than Leica M Monochrom Typ 246

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

I have no apriori acolyte views for Red Dot: I tell it like I see it when I shoot it, and I show it and prove it. And so it is with oversampling, namely oversampling in high-resolution color vs ho-hum resolution with a monochrome sensor in an aging defunct platform.

There are other priorities than image quality of course. If thos apply, they apply. But I stand firmly by what I show and prove in Guide to Leica in my analysis. That is, I show the power of tonal mapping by color versus baked-in boredom (with all too many monochrome raw files as my field shooting proved) and I show the superior sharpness of the Canon 5DS R.

This comparison is targeted at saving my readers money: I urge anyone considering the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 to read this piece, worth the price of admission alone to Guide to Leica, given the $7450 price of the Leica MM246. For that money, you can have the Canon 5DSR with 50 megapixels and color and autofocus and huge lens selection and a Zeiss Otus.

Compared: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 vs Canon 5DS R (Old Map)

With a very large actual pixels crop for the map, plus multiple crops from an upsampled (12,000 pixels wide) image for easy comparison. The differences shown are instructive.

Later (heading out for a trip), I plan to show 5DS R landscape and similar images as color and B&W toggle examples as I’ve done in the past. This piece is for the prospective Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 purchaser, and is therefore in Guide to Leica.

Canon 5DSR monochrome conversion, one of many possible variations

Shootout: Canon 5DS R vs Canon 5DS vs Canon 5D Mark III vs Nikon D810 (Old Map)

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

This 4-way shootout shows a number of useful things.

Sharpness: 5DS R vs 5DS vs 5D Mark III vs Nikon D810 (Old Map)

With a very large actual pixels crop for all, plus multipel crops with all cameras sampled up for easy comparison. The differences are plain to see and useful to understand.

Canon 5DS R: Resolving Power vs Canon 5DS and Canon 5D Mark III

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Fifty megapixels is a big deal.

From what I see the Canon 5DS R easily matches or beats the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 while offering vastly superior monochrome conversion options, and handily outperforms the Canon 5D Mark III with superior resolution and greatly reduced aliasing.

Sharpness: 5DS R vs 5DS vs 5D Mark III (Zeiss Siemens Chart)

Shown on this page are comparisons at native resolution, 12000 pixels upsampled for all, 7360 pixels resampled for all (D810 res), 6000 and 5760 pixels resampled for all. In total, a revealing performance tells the tale of just how awesome oversampling can be. I look forward to a 144 megapixel DSLR.

Also apparent is that the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar has a lot of room for growth in sensor resolution. Heck, it’s good enough wide open at f/1.4 for 50 megapixels (not optimal at f/1.4 but beyond reproach). So go get your Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar and its Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon sibling. Because you’re just scratching your ass with most other lenses on the 5DS R.

Actual pixels
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Canon 5DS R: Comments on Image Quality and Various

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Some general thoughts on the Canon 5DS R, backed up by my review of the Canon 5DS R so far. More field work coming of course, and I now have the Canon 5DS as well. The differences are subtle but visible: I strongly recommend the 5DS R model for most users.

FOR SALE: my Canon 5D Mark III in original box, etc with Really Right Stuff L bracket $2100 available early July.

vs Nikon D810

The Canon 5DS R is no match for the dynamic range of the Nikon D810. It can record more detail (17% more resolving power), but dynamic range and color quality are not to be set aside (these areas perhaps even more important when resolutions are similar).

Nikon is not likely to sit idly by, and can at the least be expected to get to 42 megapixels using the sensor in the Sony A7R II. If Nikon follows the 42MP path, it likely means high quality 4K video—which the 5DS R does not have. So a decision should take into account likely developments over the next 6-9 months since cameras are accessories (lenses are the primary). I would not be a “switcher” right now—give things a little time. But if you already have Canon, the 5DS R is a no-brainer.

I’ll be buying the Canon 5DS R shortly (just a matter of paying for the loaner); it’s a great camera in many ways and I look forward to using in the field over over the 5D Mark III: why should I waste my time shooting 24 megapixels when I can shoot 50MP with no more effort? For starters, focusing precisely in Live View is massively better on the 5DS R due to its 16X zoom and crisp details. But I love detail so great that later post-shot I can see details that the naked eye missed!

Sharpness and noise overall image quality

The Canon 5DS R delivers more than double the megapixels of its 22-megapixel predecessor, the Canon 5D Mark III. It does so without giving anything up—it’s an unequivocal win. Even if the final desired output is a lower file size, it’s a winner, because various good things happen via downsampling.

Monochrome potential

I’ve looked at the monochrome results with the Canon 5DS R, and I’d say unless you have money to discard or an ego problem and/or must employ M lenses (that’s a reasonable justification), the 5DS R blows away the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 as a monochrome camera at less than half the price, with equal if not superior pixel resolution and tremendous flexibility and power of mapping tones when converting to monochrome (not to mention it can shoot color and autofocus and so on).

Noise Comparison: Canon 5DS R vs Canon 5D Mark III

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Noise should be compared for the same reproduction ratio; per pixel noise is an erroneous way to compare noise, since higher megapixels means less enlargement. Hence this page compares the Canon 5DS R noise to that of the Canon 5D Mark III by downsampling to the 5DM3 resolution.

Canon 5DS R Noise vs Canon 5D Mark III (Fruit)

With full resolution images and crops from ISO 100 through ISO 12800.

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Canon 5DS R: Chroma Noise Reduction at ISO 12800 in Adobe Camera Raw

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Chroma noise (color speckling) can be reduced effectively while preserving image detail.

Here, the use of Adobe Camera Raw chroma noise reduction is examined at four levels at actual pixels for the Canon 5DS R.

Chroma Noise Reduction in Adobe Camera Raw @ ISO 12800 (Fruit)

With high resolution images and crops at four levels of chroma noise reduction.

This example should be of interest and use to ANY CAMERA BRAND.

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Serious Problem with Adobe Camera Raw Profile for Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Well, a frustrating word of caution: the Adobe Camera Raw “Adobe Standard” profile for the Canon 5DS R is way off (highly inaccurate), as a comparison with the Canon 5D Mark III makes plain to see. The other profiles don’t look good either.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2015, Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 (441).

Caution advised in processing Canon 5DS / 5DS R files with Adobe Camera Raw.

Canon 5DS R: Awful Color Rendition using Adobe Camera Raw (Fruit)

It’s hard to believe this is the camera. Something is very wrong, and maybe ACR simply does not support the Canon 5DS R properly—darned hard to find the right page at Adobe detailing yeah or nay.

I have sent an email to my only Adobe contact; I’m hoping for some insight from Adobe.

This is frustrating as hades when trying to prepare material. I may have to put most Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R work on hold.

Those are oranges, not pale grapefruit and there are a bunch of other problems besides. The color and tonal scale is all out of whack. Exposure was perfect according to RawDigger.

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Iridient Developer Updated to v 3.0.3 (adds support for new cameras)

Iridient Developer is now at version 3.0.3. I had an issue with Leica M Monochrome Typ 246 files with 3.0.2; that issue is now resolved. Release notes.

Iridient Developer 3.0.3 was released this morning and fixes the bug with compressed Leica M Monchrom (Typ 246) DNG files. New RAW camera support includes the Lecia Q (Typ 116), Nikon D810A, Fujifilm X-T10, Pentax K-3 II (including multi-shot pixel shift and HDR RAW modes), Panasonic G7, Phase One IQ3 80MP, IQ 60MP, IQ 50MP, IQ150 and Hasselblad H5D-50c.

Various other bug fixes, further improvements to v3.5 noise reduction, especially for monochrome conversions, speed improvements for Retina/5K/HiDPI preview and more.

Iridient Developer has many fine features (recommended), download a fully functional demo version.

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Sigma Announces World’s First Full-Frame f/2 Zoom for Canon, Nikon, Sigma Mounts: 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art

Get Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art for Nikon and Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art for Canon at B&H Photo.

The 1.5X zoom range suggests a carefully considered constraint on zoom range to deliver solid performance at f/2. The “Art” designation suggest a strong lens design: the 18 elements in 13 groups represent a highly corrected design; my guess is that it will handily outperform simlar CaNikon zooms (but only a guess). It should be useable via adapter on the new Sony A7R II, but my concern would be lens mount stress (weight, lever effect).

It should be interesting to see how the new zoom performs on the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS R.

It’s interesting that the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art covers the same range as the 24mm and 35mm Art lenses, but is only a stop slower. Different target—photographers looking to cover that range with one lens for no lens swapping and no need for f/1.4.

Sigma has been delivering outstanding performance in its Art series at absurdly low prices for what they deliver (superior performance to Nikon and Canon lenses costing 2X as much). Whether f/2 holds up remains to be seen, but Sigma has a very strong track record now with all its Art lenses.

Specifications

The 82mm filter thread is not so desirable, but is shared by other DSLR lenses.

Specifications for Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art
Focal length: 24-35mm
Aperture scale: f/2 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 9, rounded
Number of elements/groups: 18 elements in 13 groups
Focusing range: 11" (27.94 cm)
Angular field: 84.1° 63.4'
Image ratio at close range: 1:4.4 (focal length not specified)
Filter thread: 82mm
Weight, nominal: 33.2 oz / 941g (Nikon F)
Dimensions: Approx. 3.4 x 4.8" / 8.64 x 12.19 cm
List price: not yet available
Includes: Front Lens Cap, Rear Lens Cap, Petal-Type Lens Hood Case
Warranty: Limited 1-Year North and South America Warranty, Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension

Manufacturer’s description

Sigma has expanded their ever growing Global Vision line with the world's first constant f/2 aperture on a full-frame zoom lens, the 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art Lens, available here with the Nikon F lens mount. The groundbreaking aperture combined with the versatile wide-angle 24-35mm focal length allows photographers to easily replace three common lenses, the 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm, with one piece of gear. The lens also offers exceptional control over depth-of-field with an aperture range from f/2 to 16, and when used on DX camera bodies it has an equivalent focal length of 36-52.5.

Along with the rest of the Art series, the 24-35mm offers high quality optics with the use of one "F" Low Dispersion and seven Special Low Dispersion glass elements in addition to two aspherical lenses. This system minimizes the appearance of spherical aberration, axial chromatic aberration and field curvature. A Super Multi-Layer Coating is present to reduce flare and ghosting for sharp, high-contrast images and it can focus as close as 11".

In terms of speed, this lens is equipped with a Hyper Sonic AF Motor which is nearly silent and has an optimized autofocus algorithm for fast, accurate tracking. The body of the 24-35mm is constructed of a Thermally Stable Composite material which performs well in all conditions. The barrel also has a focus ring with grants full-time manual override and the system is designed for completely internal focusing. Further ensuring optimal performance is compatibility with Sigma's USB Dock for firmware updates and AF microadjustment.

As part of the Art line within Sigma's Global Vision series, this lens' is designed to achieve truly notable optical performance and is ideally suited for creative and artistic applications.
The wide-angle 24-35mm focal length effectively covers three common lenses: the 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm. This allows users to shoot with just one lens and not worry about carrying additional equipment or swapping out optics in less-than-ideal weather conditions. When used with a DX-format sensor, the lens offers a 36-52.5mm equivalent focal length.
Fast f/2 maximum aperture is well-suited for working in low-light conditions and also provides greater control over the focus position when using shallow depth of field techniques.

This lens has been designed using an advanced optical structure to achieve both high resolution and sharpness, along with consistent edge-to-edge illumination. A pair of aspherical elements correct for sagittal coma flare, distortion, and axial chromatic aberration, while also enabling full use of the fast f/2 maximum aperture with maintained peripheral brightness and sharpness.

One FLD and seven SLD glass elements have been incorporated within the lens design to correct for chromatic aberrations throughout the entire focusing range and help to ensure high image sharpness, clarity, and contrast regardless of focus point or aperture setting.
A Super Multi-Layer Coating has been applied to lens elements in order to minimize lens flare and ghosting and contribute to producing contrast-rich and color-neutral imagery, even in backlit conditions.

The integrated HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) realizes quick and quiet autofocusing, which is further complemented by an optimized AF algorithm to produce smoother focusing performance. The HSM also permits full-time manual focus control simply by rotating the focus ring at any time.

A rounded nine-blade diaphragm helps to produce an attractive out-of-focus quality.
The lens is constructed using a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material along with traditional metals for greater precision and use in wide temperature variations. The outside of the lens barrel is also engraved with the year of production.

The included lens hood is fitted with a rubber connection for a secure fit.

This lens is compatible with the optional Sigma USB Dock for fine-tuning different lens characteristics and updating its firmware.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Dell UP2715K: 5K Display for Mac or PC

Details at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

Update: works on late 2013 MacBook Pro also. Other new pages added to review.

Full resolution image on Dell UP2715K: 5K Display on 2015 MacBook Pro Retina

Compared: Canon 5DS R vs Canon 5D Mark III (Sharpness, Mosaic)

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

Is it worth upgrading to the 5DS R?

Following up on Canon 5DS R: Sharpness, Noise, Monochrome Potential, this triple approach comparison is highly instructive, and compelling in favor of the 5DS R, at least for those looking for highest image quality in large prints. But it also applies to higher image quality for outputting smaller files.

Sharpness: 5DS R vs 5D Mark III (Mosaic)

There are several ways to compare different-resolution cameras, butall three of these approaches are shown.

  • Upsample both to some common, higher resolution—this simulates a very large print.
  • Show the actual pixels from each camera—what does each actually deliver?
  • Downsample the higher-res camera to the lower-res resolution—per pixel quality for the same image at the same resolution.

Shot with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar at f/5.6.

NEC PA302W Superb for Photographers
Still my #1 choice for my photography: wide gamut, true calibration, friendly pixel density.

Canon 5DS R: Sharpness, Noise, Monochrome Potential

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

I like what I’m seeing with the Canon 5DS R.

Using the best DSLR lens available today, the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar, I present this scene in three ways:

This work should be very helpful to any prospective buyer of the Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R.

As I’ll have no further need for my Canon 5D Mark III very soon, it is for sale ($2050). I have to shoot the latest and highest resolution camera body on each platform for my work, it’s that simple. So it needs a new home soon.

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Sony Working on Uncompressed File Format?

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

Sony A7R II

Imaging Resource has an interview with Kimio Maki of Sony Corp. The interview is stunning in a way—Sony sensors were already the best and this latest sensor looks like a technology tour de force.

KM: Sony RAW is compressed, not uncompressed. But if we're getting a lot of requests for it, we should make such a kind of no-compression raw. Of course we recognize that. But I cannot give you a guarantee when we're going to fix or not fix.

DE: Right. When you're going to address that, yeah.

KM: Sure, sure. And so we recognize the customer's requirement, and actually we are working on it.

DE: So it's something that you're aware of. I'm sure that the image processing pipeline is optimized for the way that it is now, but it seems to me that, while it might involve some trading off some performance, that it could just be a firmware change. Could it? Would you be able to provide uncompressed raw as a firmware update, or would it require new hardware?

KM: Right, yes. So... not hardware.

DIGLLOYD: Sony raw today is *lossy* compressed (data is thrown away).

This interview content is great news, but I hope that it is just a bad language translation: it would be disagreeable to have to deal with 75MB *uncompressed* raw files.

The key missing adjective is “lossless”. What is desirable is LOSSLESS COMPRESSED. An uncompressed format is a waste of space offering zero benefit over lossless compressed. Perhaps the reason (also) that Sony is contemplating a lossless format is the use of copper in the sensor (vs aluminum), which reduces noise in other words makes a higher quality image.

Also note confirmation of my longstanding writings and assertions that oversampling is the way to go for image quality:

KM: Super 35mm gives the best picture quality, from oversampling 15 megapixels down to the eight-megapixel 4K size. The picture quality is better than a professional video camera.

It’s about time a camera company figured this out. Kudos to Sony.

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Canon 5DS R: Sharpness, Noise, Monochrome Potential

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

The Canon 5DS R is here, and using the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (best DSLR lens available today), I’m shooting some controlled studies to assess the camera performance.

Canon 5DS R + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar @ f/10

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Examples: Lundy Canyon, Hoover Wilderness

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I show just what an outstanding performer it is:

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Examples: White Mountains (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Many of these images were shot under very difficult harsh high-contrast lighting (not the “sweet light” of dusk or dawn). They are presented precisely for that reason—to show the high brilliance of the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and its ability to maintain that contrast without superb flare control.

Both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I suspect that they will be in very high demand just as has been the case with the Zeiss Loxia lenses. Pre-ordering is the smart move.

This example with a six stop Breakthrough Photography ND filter.

Lundy Creek
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Glacial Directionality, Hoover Wilderness
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Really Right Stuff Base Plate and L Bracket for the Leica M Typ 240 Fits the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246

See the discussion of camera plates and L brackets for the Leica M Typ 240.

It turns out that the M240 L-bracket fits perfectly on the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 246; I’ve been using it in the field.

The Really Right Stuff L brackets are my preferred solution for all cameras I shoot. They also protect the bottom and side of the camera from scuffing.

Really Right Stuff BM240 Set: Includes Base+L-Plate+Grip , for Leica M Typ 240   
Really Right Stuff BM240 Set: Includes Base+L-Plate+Grip , for Leica M Typ 240
(fits Leica M Monochrom Typ 246b also)

No allen wrench to remember to carry: built-in attachment system!

Really Right Stuff BM240 base plate for Leica M Typ 240   
Really Right Stuff BM240 base plate for Leica M Typ 240
(fits Leica M Monochrom Typ 246b also)
OWC Firecracker Specials
SSDs, hard drives, iPad, enclosures, used Macs and much more!
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Attractive Deals: Lexar 256GB SDXC, NEC PA242W Professional Display, DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter with GoPro Mount, iPad Air

DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter

Drone

$50 off, some sites selling this for over $400.

DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter with GoPro Mount $299

Wide gamut display (limited supply)

The smaller model of the NEC PA302W that I like a lot (also heavily discounted).

NEC PA242W-BK 24" Professional Wide Gamut LED Desktop Monitor about $799 with free expedited shipping

Lexar 256GB SDXC card

See my review of the Lexar Professional 256GB SDXC card.

About $109 with free expedited shipping.

iPad Air

Apple 128GB iPad Air 4G LTE about $449 ($280 / 38% off)

OWC Firecracker Savings

Canon 5DS R *and* 5DS Expected Tomorrow, and Which Lenses for 50 Megapixels

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

See earlier notes from today.

I lucked out and it looks like I’ll be getting both the Canon 5DS and 5DS R, so among other things, I can compare the two (5DS has an anti-aliasing filter, 5DS R does not).

Which lenses for 50 megapixels?

These are the lenses that I recommend for the best odds of actually recording 50 megapixels of detail and/or the best chances of approaching the best possible in that focal length range (takes into account sharpness-damaging behaviors like focus shift and field curvature as well as absolute performance:

Even so, few of these lenses will be free of various weaknesses.

Reader Question: Which Raw Converter?

Get Sony Alpha A7R II mirrorless at B&H Photo.

Greg M writes:

This morning I read your very interesting blog post, "Reader Inquiry: Banding, Posterization, Color Shifts (and the right workflow).”

As an amateur trying to take my images from good to “printable”…I’m finding it difficult to commit to a single RAW processor as some processors seem to work better with different RAW files.

You mention in this post "proper workflow matter” and I could not agree more. I’m an old Mac user like you… do you have a preferred RAW processor?

I’m really enjoying the Zeiss Batis series too.

DIGLLOYD: I use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) for consistency and wide usage (Photoshop and Lightroom both use the same engine. I use it exclusively in Photoshop (I am not a LR user as I do not need its features indeed it would waste my time also).

My recommendation is to start with ACR and branch out from there. Also, it is wise to acquire skill with one raw processor more than flitting among several but not developing the deep experience to get the best from a core choice.

Start with that, and try using different camera profiles, which make a huge difference, for example see Camera Profiles for Sony A7R / A7 in Photoshop and/or Lightroom.

In my apertures series, I always show my processing parameters, which might be helpful in learning how I process images.

Other raw converters than ACR all have pluses and minuses, so it’s good to have more than one on hand for as needed. Also, high volume vs low volume processing can drive the choice.

PhaseOne CaptureOne Pro is favored by many pros for its color rendition and tethering . DxO Optics Pro is also worth looking at for its speciality processing. Iridient Developer is an efficient pure raw converter with some unique features.

Joseph O. H. writes:

I enjoyed your Which Raw Converter answer today. I thought I’d chime in with my two cents (to mix a metaphor!)

I used DxO Tools for several years because of its excellent correction of chromatic aberration and distortion, better than what I could get with ACR or the Photoshop tools.

But I began to notice that it occasionally altered some colors in a seemingly random way.

And then last year I was forced to switch to Nikon’s Capture NX-D when DxO took a couple months releasing compatibility with the D810.

I hated NX-D’s interface, it sucks royally, but I was delighted to see that it matched DxO’s corrections and even preserved more fine resolution when I compared files side by side.

Despite its awful interface, I’ve now settled on running my Nikon RAW files through NX-D before moving the resulting TIFF files into Photoshop for post.

I’m also deeply committed to Aperture for cataloging, and so I’ve been keeping my eyes out for a replacement for when the day comes that I can no longer use it. I hate LightRoom. But I tried a demo copy of CaptureOne Pro and it looks like its cataloging tools are equal to or better than Aperture’s. I’ll look again when the day arrives, but at least there’s a good alternative out there, if an expensive one.

DIGLLOYD: The NX-D interface is awful and I do not like its sharpening at all (no fine detail possible with its algorithms). But its color is excellent.

Sebastian B writes:

In addition to your advice about choosing among the built-in profiles carefully, I would heartily recommend to all Lightroom users the creation of a custom DNG profile via the Colorchecker Passport.

I've found this to be a very significant improvement even over the better of the built-in profiles (like "Camera Standard" in Sony's case) – though here too the difference will vary greatly with subject matter. Colorchecker profiles also help with color consistency among different camera models.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t do this myself. Profiles have a strong influence and they are as much art as science; there is no “correct” profile just as photographic film was wildly different in its results (consider Kodachrome vs Fujifilm Velvia vs Agfachrome). Still, some photographers swear by them and having other profile choices is always a nice option. And it may be important for consistency of one’s own work across camera types and lenses (lenses can have color tints too). The issues arise in the hugely varied lighting one can run into; profiles don’t always work well outside their target white balance and tint, or even when some filters are used.

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Reader Comment: Portraits and Sharpness and Skin Tones with Sony A7, A7R, A7R II

 
Sony A7R II

Get Sony Alpha A7R II mirrorless at B&H Photo.

Richard J writes:

I am very excited about this camera, it seems to have everything I want except (price point LOL) for one large element of my photography. The difference between the Sony A7 and the Sony A7r was of course megapixels and the anti aliasing filter.

I loved the sharpness of the A7r however the lack of AA filter, I found, was not great for portraiture and skin tones and I found myself preferring the A7 for my portrait shoots over the A7r. This could be a number of factors including to much detail on peoples faces and also being a Canon man for so long.

In reading all the papers on the new Sony A7R II, nowhere has it mentioned if the new chip is anti-aliasing filter free or not. One would assume from the name that it doesn't have the AA filter and even if it doesn't have the filter the skin tones may be better then the previous A7R.

DIGLLOYD: The A7R II does not have an anti-aliasing filter. The lack an anti-aliasing filter vs detail on faces—this theory flies in the face of sharpening technique which can (almost) negate this factor, so I cannot agree here. There is more resolution and that is what you’re seeing. Sharpen less for portraits and/or shoot at f/11 where diffraction will naturally soften details. Or just shoot JPEG which blurs fine details.

Skin tones—every sensor has its own feel and the A7R II sensor is a new type of technology, so no assumptions should be made here. But also, Camera Profiles for Sony A7R / A7 in Photoshop and/or Lightroom alone can make a huge difference in color and contrast. I regularly choose among Camera Standard, Camera Portrait and Adobe Standard and make other modifications at times to contrast and color saturation when I process my Sony files, for sometimes subtle and sometimes radical differences. Moreover, it is my view that Sony cooks the raw data in a way that sometimes causes color crossovers; very frustrating (Nikon D810 has no such hassle).

BUT if you still don’t like the skin tones, try using PhaseOne CaptureOne Pro which is favored by many pros for its color rendition. DxO Optics Pro is also worth looking at.

Canon 5DS R Expected Tomorrow

Get Canon 5DS and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

I expect to have the Canon 5DS R on Tuesday June 16.

For background information on the Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R, see this page and others linked from it:

Canon 5DS R Expected Soon: What About Lenses and Sharpness?

Accessories for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R

Below are tems well suited for working with the Canon 5DS R in various contexts (most apply for the same reasons to Nikon D810 and Sony A7R II):

* Chuck Westfall of Canon USA response to my question on batteries:

The EOS 5DS and 5DS R are compatible with both the LP-E6 and LP-E6N battery packs. The only operational difference is the shooting capacity, which is very slightly in favor of the LP-E6N (1865 mAH vs. 1800 mAH).

The LP-E6N is rated at 700 exposures per charge at room temperature, the figures for LP-E6 will be slightly lower.

The main reason we changed to the LP-E6N has to do with recent changes in Japanese regulations for lithium-ion battery packs.

The original LC-E6 charger is fully compatible with both the LP-E6 and the LP-E6N. Let me know if there are any other questions!

Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Aspen Trunks

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens Rendering Series: Aspen Trunks (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

This series is intended to show lens drawing style (rendering) across the aperture range at close distance. It was chosen for a strong juxtaposition of sharp/unsharp along with background high-key blurs

Both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II. I suspect that the Zeiss Batis lenses will be in very high demand just as has been the case with the Zeiss Loxia lenses.

Aspen Trunks
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Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Drainage Above Saddlebag Lake (Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

Get Sony FE 28mm f/2 at B&H Photo.

This study is definitive and confirmed by other (not published) series at similar distances.

For anyone contemplating the Sony 28mm f/2, this is a MUST READ / MUST SEE.

Sony 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Drainage Above Saddlebag Lake (A7R)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels as well as large crops from f/2 through f/13.

See also the Waterfall View of Mt Conness Sub-Peak + Snowstorm Rolls in Over Saddlebag Lake and the Gnarled Stump in Snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness series.

I recommend that wide angle shooters stick to the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon, which is in another league above the Sony 28mm f/2.

An order was put in for lighting as sunlight together with the deep cloud shadows and a full rainbow, but it was not honored, and so we have flat even lighting, not so pretty but very good for evaluating sharpness across the frame.

Drainage aboveSaddlebag Lake
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Two Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: 'Waterfall View of Mt Conness Sub-Peak' and 'Snowstorm Rolls in Over Saddlebag Lake' (Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

Get Sony FE 28mm f/2 at B&H Photo.

The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is a compact and lightweight performer great for outdoors carry and use. But does it deliver the goods, and at which apertures?

Sony 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Waterfall View of Mt Conness Sub-Peak (A7R)

Sony 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Snowstorm Rolls in Over Saddlebag Lake (A7R)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels as well as large crops from f/2 through f/13.

The results from these two aperture series point to some very firm conclusions about the Sony 28mm f/2. Other material confirms the conclusions in these two series.

I consider these two series definitive, both on aspects of visual impact (very nice) but also on the technical performance aspects (not so nice).

I recommend that wide angle shooters stick to the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon, which is in another league above the Sony 28mm f/2.

Waterfall view of Mt Conness Sub-Peak
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Miles from the car, what a nervous thrill to see a June snowstorm move in powerfully and fast. Fun and trepidation—I kept on shooting.

Snowstorm rolls in over Saddlebag Lake
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Examples: White Mountains

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I show just what an outstanding performer the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar is:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Examples: White Mountains (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II. I suspect that the Zeiss Batis lenses will be in very high demand just as has been the case with the Zeiss Loxia lenses.

With the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, the 25/2, 35/1.4 and 85/1.8 make a darn nice trio that covers about 80% of what one mighst need.

Speculating (and no inside knowledge here), I am hoping to see an ultra wide in the 18mm range before too long. That would extend the range nicely. I’d also really like to see an 11mm f/4 prime.

Mono Lake is just to the north of the White Mountains; the rest of the examples are in the White Mountains proper.

Moonrise over Mono Lake
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Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Examples: White Mountains

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I show just what an outstanding performer it is:

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Examples: White Mountains (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II. I suspect that they will be in very high demand just as has been the case with the Zeiss Loxia lenses.

Bristlecone pines at sunrise, Patriarch Grove
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Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Gnarled Stump in Snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness (Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

Get Sony FE 28mm f/2 at B&H Photo.

The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is a compact and lightweight performer great for outdoors carry and use.

Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Gnarled Stump In Snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness (A7R)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels as well as large crops from f/2 through f/13.

The Sony 28mm f/2 is quite sharp at this focusing distance, but I have some reservations about its excessive distortion because correcting that distortion degrades image quality in peripheral areas. But it offers a strong performance overall, and any JPEG shooter need have no concern at all about the distortion—just enable distortion correction in camera and “poof”, no issue.

A 28mm f/2 is a very nice focal length, and the lens is a perfect match for the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and Sony 55mm f/1.8 in terms of size/weight and performance style, all designed by Zeiss. And yet, 25mm is very close to 28mm, so the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 should be pondered also, and price may be a factor of course.

Gnarled Stump in Snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness
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Reader Inquiry: Banding, Posterization, Color Shifts (and the right workflow)

Alex C writes:

Do you know if full frame Leicas - and I'm thinking of the new Leica Q in particular - suffer the same 'bullseye' colour shifts that have been identified with the Sony A7 series [diglloyd: often but not always inappropriate camera settings and workflow], especially with the Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8? (I've also seen them with my A7R and Sony 28/2.) I'm guessing the Leicas have a similarly short flange-sensor distance.
[diglloyd: flange distance is irrelevant].

So-called “bullseye” posterization is a fairly well known problem with the A7 series and WA lenses. See http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3588565
[diglloyd: hardly anyone processes images properly, forums are largely a waste of time with mostly disinformation smothering a nuggest of wisdom here and there. Posting such an issue with no mention of key things like camera space and color space and bit depth and display calibration and output handling etc makes the whole discussion futile].

Here's a shot I took with the new 28/2 showing the same issue (processed to exaggerate the effect)... You might think it doesn't matter too much in the real world, but if you shoot a lot of B&W, as I do [diglloyd: not relevant, and like to darken blue skies a bit by pulling the blue channel luminance, you can very easily get this irritating 'bulls eye' pattern.

I've found this to be more bothersome than RAW compression and shutter shock, although I wonder if the RAW compression is part of the problem here? It's something to do with the strong vignetting with these Sony wides, together with some aspect of the sensor design and maybe also the compression algorithm. I'm just wondering if full frame Leicas are similarly affected?

DIGLLOYD: This is NOT a lens effect. It’s inappropriate camera settings and workflow technique. Not using 16-bit ProPhotoRGB just makes things even worse.

Shot discipline and proper workflow matter, always. Using 16-bit ProPhotoRGB? Nothing else is appropriate and there are other B&W techniques than yanking a channel which indeed will cause serious problems in 8-bit and/or narrow gamut color spaces and/or with lossy formats or JPEG originals.

My sense of it from seeing it with various cameras over the years is that the underlying issue is vignetting correction, exacerbated by the Sony 11+7 lossy file format and/or “cooked” raw processing, my biggest remaining gripe about Sony cameras (Sony ought to offer a real 14-bit lossless-compressed format, not a lossy average consumer format).

Regarding the bullseye effect: turn off lens corrections, particularly vignetting/shading correction. This can cause stepping effects, particularly for colors that are testing the range of the color gamut. Second, process into 16-bit ProPhotoRGB color space from the best quality raw the camera offers. If shooting JPEG, it’s game over—the discussion is a complete waste of time.

See Why a Wide Gamut Color Space Matters in DAP.

The example JPEG sent is in sRGB (aka “sad RGB”) and indeed it is troubled, hardly a surprise given the subject matter. But also pointless for evaluation (sRGB JPEG = total crap for some images). The sRGB color space is a terrible choice for any serious work* and does not even merit discussion when this banding/posterization topic arises (because sRGB has a problematic gamut and only 8 bits and requires lossless mode if any hope is to be had for difficult gradients). Occassionally I can’t save some images from the 16-bit TIF originals into JPEG without careful evaluation of which color space and how much compression—and even then there can be issues. Anyone concerned with this issue has no case at all if workflow is fundamentally flawed (shooting JPEG and/or using sRGB or even AdobeRGB color space).

Leica M and Leica Q uses a 12-bit lossless-compressed or uncompressed format. The Leica M9 had occasional highlight posterization issues, but this generally had to do with clipping, not so much tonal transitions—a limitation of the sensor dynamic range—not the same as gradient transition issues. The Leica M shading correction could create gradient banding issues with the right image, so it cannot be ruled out, but I have not had difficulties with the Leica M240, so I’d say it’s rare.

* sRGB can be fine for many images; the point is that for some images it is awful, causing posterization and complete loss of image detail with color outside the gamut. Ditto for AdobeRGB—it has a wider gamut than sRGB but still falls well short of the gamut of most cameras today.

This bristlecone image shows the Sony banding issue as discussed in Zeiss Loxia 35/2 Biogon Aperture Series: Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow. With all lens corrections disabled on the Sony A7R, it shows why the Sony file format sucks—my Nikon have never delivers such banding nastiness.

  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

Ricoh’s vignetting correction

I actually got Ricoh to fix (or mitigate) their issue in a way: by adding an option to NOT do vignetting correction. That can be troublesome, but it forestalls issues like this, which show prominent circular ring artifacts. Sony has an option to disable vignetting correction, and I almost always disable it.

Circular ring artifacts with Ricoh GR Ricoh GR Digital, 1/30 sec @ ƒ/11, adjusted
Circular ring artifacts with Ricoh GR
Ricoh GR Digital, 1/30 sec @ ƒ/11, adjusted

See also:

All cameras ought to offer lossless raw formats, 14-bit or 15-bit strongly preferred. There is no excuse for offering a $2K or $3K camera whose best raw format throws away image data.

Matt S writes

100% spot on. I noticed this years ago in ACR but was quite confused for a while! :-)

DIGLLOYD: After nearly a decade or so of seeing just about every significant camera and lens on the market, I notice everything, and I eliminate anything that causes issues—hardware or software or settings or workflow faults.

 

Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Canon 5DS R Expected Soon: What About Lenses and Sharpness?

Get Canon 5DS and Zeiss Otus and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

With a little luck, I expect to have the Canon 5DS R on Tuesday June 16 or so.

For background information on the Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R, see:

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

Sharpness

The obvious question is how much detail the 5DS R can record with its 50-megapixel sensor: not a whole lot more than 24 megapixels with many lenses! That’s the rub: even the best lenses are going to show limits and the slightest error in focus accuracy or technical execution is a Big Flub, so work on your technical skills. This is true with the Nikon D810 or Sony A7R or Sony A7R II also, but it’s all the more intense at 50MP.

Fifty megapixels is an oversampling approach that will deliver outstanding per-pixel quality if all you want is a ~24 megapixel image from the 50MP sensor. Too much discussion board whining out there that fails to understand image quality as a priority. So it’s the best of both worlds: get more resolution (for my part, hurrah!), or get a higher per-pixel output quality at any lower downsampled resolution (shoot raw, process to 24MP, throw away the raw if all you want is a superb 24MP JPEG). Equivalently, 50MP will make an awesome print with fewer digital artifacts than the Canon 5D Mark III.

Accordingly, I intend to focus on the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon and Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar, because these are the reference lenses, period. And then there’s the next Otus sometime. :)

I’ll be shooting other lesser lenses, and there will be some good ones (and some obvious stinkers), but even the Otii will find 50 megapixels a study in perfect technical execution. But when done right, the results should be stunning.

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R
NEC PA302W Superb for Photographers
Still my #1 choice for my photography: wide gamut, true calibration, friendly pixel density.

Tested: Lexar 256GB 1000X SDXC Card

Lexar Professional 256GB 1066X SDXC

I ordered the 2-pack of Lexar Professional 256GB SDXC, expecting that the performance would approach the rated 150 MB/sec.

But the 256GB card writes at only half the claimed speed, and reads near the claimed speed in only one card reader. Compared to the blazingly fast Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC card.

It wasn’t for lack of trying the best card reader—first I tried the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7) reader (which delivers 300 MB/sec with the Lexar SDXC 2000X 64GB card ), the Hoodman USB 3.0 UDMA Reader, and the built-in SD slot on the 2015 MacBook Pro Retina. All showed the same performance at far below the claimed speeds, using either ExFAT or HFS file systems.

Then I tried the Lexar SD UHS II reader (U3, Class 10)—and this was better t 145 MB/sec for reads, but still with sluggish 76 MB/sec writes (half the claimed 150 MB/sec speed).

Performance in a camera could possibly could be better for writes, but my concern is mainly about using the cards for big downloads and/or for special-purpose backups (write performance), and I want those operations to be fast, not marginal, especially the write speeds. Still, 256GB is a lot of space and that’s worthwhile to me when in the field so I do not have to erase the cards, letting them act as another backup for shoots on prior days.

In context, I have 512GB of storage for about $275 whereas the 2000X 64GB cards would cost about $800 for eight cards totaling 512GB. So all things in context—speed vs price and capacity. I have not tested the Lexar Professional 128GB SDXC 1000X cards. I suspect that they perform similarly to the 256GB cards, and they’re even a bit better price per GB.

Performance of Lexar 256GB 1066X SDXC

Jan P writes:

A majority of memory card manufacturers like the bigger numbers and that is a read speed,
a very misleading practice I agree.

It is clearly stated on B&H (overview and specs) that max. read for Lexar 256GB 1000X SDXC Card UHS II
is 150 MB/s and minimum write is 30 MB/s.

All USB3 readers do not support UHS II standard.
    - UHS I 104 MB/s (source wiki)
    - UHS II 156 MB/s or 312 MB/s (source wiki)

You have the old Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7) UHS-I and this is the new
Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7) UHS-II it was relased about two weeks ago -yup marketing/naming department at its best :).

¨In context, I have 512GB of storage for about $275 whereas the 2000X 64GB cards would cost about $800 for eight cards totaling 512GB.¨

wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital

DIGLLOYD: well, some descriptions are just regurgitating boilerplate, so one never knows. This is why I prefer to recommend only stuff that I personally test and prove out. But I do need to get that newer Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7) UHS-II reader.

I had been expecting that 1000X meant 1/2 the speed of 2000X for both writes also; it does not.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Evaluated: “Sony, Fix These Things and Win” aka How Does the Sony A7R II Stack Up?

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

Sony A7R II

The time has arrived for me to buy a Sony kit. I refused to buy the fundamentally flawed Sony A7R, but the Sony A7R II is a camera I will acquire as soon as it arrives. This is not a statement on “switching” (I cover all the major brands and I still like the D810 a lot), just a statement that I did not want to flush my money down the toilet on the Sony A7R. The A7R II fixes the key issues (not all but most) while delivering advances in resolution and 4K video and build quality and other areas.

I will also be buying the Zeiss Batis lenses as references lenses for the Sony platform. Note: I strongly advise pre-ordering Zeiss Batis or otherwise planning on waiting a long time for delivery).

Moreover, with the vibration free shutter of the Sony A7R II, I fully intend to see just how good the Zeiss Otus lenses look on the 42-megapixel Sony A7R II. That is after I do the same (next week I hope) on the Canon 5DS R.

...

In last year’s Sony, Fix These Things and Win, I listed what I saw as the key shortcomings of the Sony A7R. The list is reproduced below, with comments.

Here, “FIXED” means “appears to be fixed, pending confirmation with a shipping camera”.

KUDOS to Sony for addressing so many issues. Dang on the crummy 11+7 bit lossy compressed format—why degrade the output from a camera otherwise so well specified—make it a lossless-compressed 14-bit file format please.

  1. √ FIXED 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. UNCHANGED BUT MAYBE IN THE WORKS. 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. √ FIXED: all magnesium body with mode dial lock and “stronger and more rigid mount and body support use of large and heavy lenses...”. 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. √ FIXED Deliver 5-axis sensor image stabilization in this high-resolution camera.
  5. IMPROVED, but same resolution. Deliver a 4MP EVF, built-in.
  6. IMPROVED, better grip like the A7 II, still needs work. 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. √ FIXED, counting the two (soon three) Zeiss Batis lenses and the Sony 28mm f/2, Sony 35/1.4, and 90mm f/2.8. 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. √ FIXED: 4K video with flexible options. Add 4K video.
  9. UNCHANGED. Bonus points: near-zero blackout time, emove Sony crapware from menus, add a “My Menu”, offer raw-only shooter mode (eliminate all JPEG cruft, have right proper raw histogram).

Dinosaur companies

Long live the DSLR. It has many fine qualities and the need for it won’t go away soon, nor will Sony match the Canon and Nikon lens lines any time soon (except that most of these lenses can be used on Sony!!!). Anyway, speaking in market share terms, who cares? As in truly lusting after a DSLR any more? The 95% of the market is moving to mirrorless while the Walking Dead CaNikon duopoly apparently does nothing more than waste year after year scratching their respective behinds. Neither of these companies even offers an EVF option for their cameras, their 1080p video quality is low-res mushy crap, the rear LCD is still not Retina, conventional autofocus is great for sports but lacks precision and accuracy for general purpose shooting, and an OVF is 100% useless for most shooting tasks (and totally useless for accurate manual focus).

Nikon and Canon are in very serious trouble in the face of these gains from Sony, and Sony is just warming up—2016 ain’t gonna be less good. The A7R II is maller and lighter and cheaper, has better sensor with more megapixels than the D810 and almost as much as the Canon 5DS (but probably better dynamic range than 5Ds), 4K video, in body image stabilization, and adaptability to wide range of lenses with another Batis lens due this fall and more lenses in the pipeline from Sony. The A7R II will have its flaws, but given the improvements, who know how far Sony will carry this forward. Scary shit for CaNikon.

The market needs competition. Are Canon and Nikon even capable of breaking out of their dinosaur mindset, let alone designing something groundbreaking? It seems increasingly dubious because the core issue is a corporate culture based on fear and doubt, of circling the wagons around the traditional product line. Neither company (people at the decision making levels) gives a crap what I think (“I” meaning myself and others like me), a position I regard as unwise to the point of stupidity and indicative of impending disaster for these companies.

Did I mention computational photography? That should be next on the list for Sony. Damn I wish I had a group and budget to “drive” innovation in a company with resources. I would eviscerate the dinosaurs.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Meadow View of Mt Conness East

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I present a classic landscape scene of a type that is very demanding of lens performance near to far and edge to edge. In particular, the strict control of field curvature shows just how stellar a performer the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon really is.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Aperture Series: Meadow View of Mt Conness East (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

I reiterate my earlier sentiments that both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar are must-haves for the serious Sony shooter. I intend to buy my own set along with the new Sony A7R II. I suspect that they will be in very high demand just as has been the case with the Zeiss Loxia lenses.

Meadow View of Mt Conness East
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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 Examples: Hoover Wilderness Area

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 and Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

The Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmar-M ASPH is a superb performer on the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 (at about $2332 it should be in every Leica M shooter’s bag). This set of examples speaks for itself in image quality terms.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 Examples: Photo Essay in the Hoover Wilderness

Examples provided in a variety of sizes up to the full original 24 megapixels, so the reader can see exactly how the MM246 performs.

The Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 is all about detail. And because it has Live View, I was thrilled that with a B+W 091 deep red filter, I could guarantee spot-on focus, which was impossible with the Leica M Monochrom original (the rangefinder is wildly inaccurate vs the backfocus characteristics of deep red light).

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Lighting Specials at B&H Photo

Unrelated deal: Nikon pays the sales tax for many Nikon product purchases.

Lighting specials at B&H Photo:

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 as an Infrared Camera

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

The monochrome sensor in the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 passes some infrared (as does the M240, regrettably), and thus the MM246 can be put to use as an infrared camera.

I show and discuss visible light versus infrared and why a B+W 489 IR-cut filter might be helpful for all-around shooting. Also shown are examples with both the B+W 092 Infrared Pass filter (680 nm cutoff), (3) the B+W 093 Infrared Pass filter(850 nm cutoff).

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 as an Infrared Camera

It might be possible to modify an MM246 for infrared use by removing its IR-blocking sensor cover glass and replacing with clear glass. In a way it’s curious that Leica does not simply offer this kind of option up front, since the MM is already a very specialized model. It would make more sense than the dubious celebrity special edition models Leica emits so frequently.

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Big Price Drop on my Workhorse Hardware-Calibrated Wide Gamut Pro-Grade Display: NEC PA302W

About $1699 is the lowest price I’ve ever seen on the NEC PA 302W BK-SV and that includes discounted shipping and the hardware calibration and software (add to cart to see the price). WOW!

UPDATE 29 June: The price has been moving around and the B&H price on the PA302W has now apparently lapsed. OWC also carries the PA302W, as does Amazon.

The NEC PA272W is of the same quality, and is about $1199 with hardware and software calibration. But it is 2560 X 1440 and has a slightly smaller form factor and thus slightly denser pixel pitch.

The NEC PA302W is my workhorse display on which I do all my photography work. It is a wide-gamut display with true hardware calibration (not faux calibration). The PA302W calibrates to within 1 delta-A accuracy and has a gamut greatly exceeding AdobeRGB in some areas (like reds).

Due to pixel density issues with 4K displays, I still do all my photo evaluation on the PA302W, because its 2560 X 1600 is far more amenable to evaluating images than the too-high pixel density of 4K displays. As a 30-inch display the 2560 width is easy on the eyes (pixel density) and the 1600 height is substantially more working room than the typical 1440 height of most display (1440 feels squeezed and cramped to me compared to 1600).

See my review of the NEC PA302W wide gamut display.

NEC PA302W wide gamut display

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Dusk At Ellery Lake

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I present a classic landscape scene of a type that is very demanding of lens performance (unforgiving for field curvature in particular).

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Aperture Series: Dusk at Ellery Lake (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Dusk At Ellery Lake
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Sunrise at Saddlebag Lake

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I present a classic landscape scene of a type that is very demanding of lens performance.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Aperture Series: Sunrise at Saddlebag Lake (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Sunrise at Saddlebag Lake, May 29 2015
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Pine by Creek in Heavy Snowstorm

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I present an aperture series that is just plain fun to view because of the interplay of shutter speed with snowfall, moving water and depth of field.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Aperture Series: Pine By Creek In Heavy Snow (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also).

Pine by Creek in Heavy Snowstorm, June 4 2015
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Announced: Leica Q

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

I’m a fan of fixed-lens cameras, because the lens can be highly optimized for the sensor, offering the promise of exceptional image quality versus a general purpose interchangeable lens camera.

Now Leica enters the high-grade fixed-lens compact market with the Leica Q, the only relevant competitor being the Sony RX1:

  • 24.2 MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Maestro II Image Processor
  • Leica Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH Lens (autofocus or manual focus)
  • 3.68 MP LCOS Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" 1,040k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • Contrast-Detect AF System
  • Full HD 1080p Video at up to 60 fps
  • ISO 50,000 & 10 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Aluminum & Magnesium Alloy Body Design
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • Dynamic range of 13 stops (claimed)

With a 24-megapixel sensor and a 28mm f/1.7 Lens, the Leica Q is likely to deliver high grade imagery with a pleasant viewing experience using the 3.6 megapixel built-in EVF. I’m less thrilled about the omission of a built-in flash, since adding a flash turns a compact into an awkward blob.

My other thought is whether Sony will soon have an RX2R with a 42 megapixel or larger sensor—where would that leave the Leica Q other than higher-priced and lower resolution? Iliked the Sony RX1R a lot, and its 35mm f/2 lens is first class. But I’d still prefer the 28mm focal length in a compact, and that may be true for many shooters, so the Leica Q offers appeal.

Overview

A no compromise compact, the Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera wields a full-frame 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor within its exceptionally portable, and beautiful, body. Leveraging the power of the Leica Maestro II series image processor, high-resolution, low-noise imaging is possible at sensitivities up to ISO 50,000 and at a continuous rate of 10 fps. Also, the camera utilizes a Summilux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens to allow users to dramatically separate the subject from the background as well as work in difficult light conditions.

Design is benefitted by Leica's classic simple aesthetic and the body has easily read laser engraved lettering, numbers, and dials. Construction is solid with a solid machined aluminum top plate and a lightweight magnesium alloy body. Also, it has a large thumb rest on the back and a diamond pattern on the front leathering to ensure a firm, comfortable grip over the camera. Further, the Q (Typ 116) has a built-in 3.68-megapixel LCOS electronic viewfinder which provides a live through-the-lens image with handling similar to that of a rangefinder.

In addition to fully manual control with physical operation using the aperture and focus rings on the lens, auto focus is possible using a contrast-based system. This enables fast, sharp imaging at the click of the shutter. The rear 3.0" 1,040k-dot touchscreen LCD monitor helps by allowing users to quickly take control of their focus by just tapping on their subject. Focusing aids are also available in the form of Focus Peaking and Live View Zoom.

Another benefit of the updated Maestro II processor is full HD 1080p video capture at 60 or 30 fps. A built-in stereo microphone enables high-quality sound recording and an integrated wind filter limits extraneous noise. Full manual control will then allow users to dial in the exact look they want or need for their shot.

Share your photos and videos instantly thanks to an integrated Wi-Fi module which allows you to link the camera to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The Q also has an NFC chip for tap-to-connect functionality with certain devices and the free Leica Q app lets you take remote control of your camera for adjusting exposure while you shoot from odd angles and positions. Additionally, a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is included for professional-level management, editing, and export of your stills and video.

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Announced: Sony RX10 Mark II, Sony RX100 Mark IV

Get Sony RX10 Mark II and Sony RX100 Mark IV at B&H Photo (about $3198).

The Sony RX10 and RX100 share the same sensor size. The RX100 is a diminutive powerhouse; the RX10 is a larger camera more with more optical reach.

Amazingly, even the diminutive RX100 shoots 4K video (up to 5 min). What the heck are the dinosaur companies (Nikon and Canon) thinking when their Big Black Bricks can’t do more then crap-quality 1080p? I recently shot a time lapse video with the Nikon D810, and its brain-dead firmware can't even give me a 4K output (1080p only), from a series of stills. It’s insane in this marketplace to stagnate like this.

The technology that Sony is putting into these cameras blows away the Leica Q (EVF excepted)—the Q can’t even do 4K video.

Sony RX10 Mark II

Get Sony RX10 Mark II at B&H Photo, about $1298.

  • 20.2 MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
  • Carl Zeiss 24-200mm f/2.8 Lens (35mm Eq)
  • Slow Motion Video at 960 fps
  • 3.0" 1228K-Dot Tilting Xtra Fine TFT LCD
  • XGA OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • Built-In Wireless and NFC Connectivity
  • Low-Light Sensitivity to ISO 12800
  • Super Sonicwave Motor for Fast Autofocus
Sony RX10 II

The Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II Digital Camera from Sony is a compact, point-and-shoot camera that features a large 20.2 MP, 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor producing high resolution still imagery and internal-recording UHD 4K video up to 30 fps, and super slow-motion full HD video up to 960 fps. This sensor's design utilizes a stacked CMOS image sensor with a DRAM chip and backside-illuminated technology to improve clarity and image quality when working in dimly-lit conditions as well as low-noise imagery and a sensitivity range of ISO 100-12800. The DRAM chip is integrated into the sensor, and combined with the BINOZ X processor allows for fast readout speeds, burst shooting up to 14 fps, and a maximum physical shutter speed of 1/3200 sec and a maximum electronic shutter speed of 1/32000 sec.

The built-in, Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T*, 8.3x optical zoom lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-200mm, covering a broad range of focal lengths to provide versatile, multi-functional shooting from one zoom lens. A constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 is effective in low light and provides shallow depth-of-field focus control. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization is also available to help minimize the effects of camera shake when working in dimly-lit conditions and with greater zoom magnifications. The lens also features 7 aspherical elements including an Advanced Aspherical lens to minimize aberrations and distortion and Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating, which helps to reduce surface reflections, lens flare, and ghosting in order to produce imagery that is rich in contrast and clarity.

A Direct Drive, Supersonic Wave Motor (SSM) provides fast and smooth autofocus action while Eye AF enables precise eye-detection focusing with confirmation that a subject's eye is in focus even if their head is partially turned. Flexible Spot areas allow precise focus placement, and Lock-on AF keeps focus locked on a moving subject, even if that subject leaves the frame momentarily. Seamless close-up shooting is also supported, which no longer requires the need to switch to a dedicated macro mode, for focusing on subjects as close as 1.2".

For image composition and playback, the RX10 II features a large 3.0", 1228K-dot, Xtra Fine LCD monitor with a tilting design to better serve working from high and low angles. WhiteMagic technology is incorporated into the display to increase the effective brightness of the screen. Also, the XGA OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder integrates four aspherical elements for sharp eye-level composition. An automatic eye-sensor recognizes when an eye is at the viewfinder and illuminates the EVF while turning off the LCD.

UHD 4K video is supported up to 30 fps in XAVC S format thanks to a high-speed front-end LSI which processes the data with full pixel readout with no line skipping or pixel binning. The XAVC S format allows for high-bitrate shooting up to 100 Mbps. A built-in stereo microphone and an external mic jack are provided as is a headphone jack from audio monitoring. Professional features such as full manual exposure control and uncompressed off-camera recording are also supported.

Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Connectivity) allow for easy wireless connections to smartphones and tablets in order to transfer images for sharing as well as to use your smartphone as a remote control via the free Sony PlayMemories app.

The compact magnesium alloy body of the RX10 II is moisture and dust resistant. It offers a built-in pop-up flash as well as the Sony Multi-Interface shoe for connecting flashes, microphones, lights, monitors, and other accessories. A multi-compatibility card slot enables the use of SD series, micro-SD series, and Memory Stick memory cards. A selectable click or click-less manual control ring on the lens lets you adjust numerous camera settings without taking your eye from the image and customizable buttons provides fast access to the camera settings that you need most.

20.2 MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor

The 1" stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM chip offers a fast electronic shutter speed of up to 1/32000. The Exmor RS sensor not only enhances efficiency and speed of A/D conversion through its stacked structure with more circuit sections; it also realizes over five times faster readout speed of the previous RX10 thanks to a DRAM chip integrated into the sensor structure. This processing speed allows for 20.2-megapixels at up to 14 fps continuous shooting, 4K movie and super slow-motion HFR (High Frame Rate) recording of up to 960 fps (40x) movie clips - not to mention better low-light low-noise capability.

BIONZ X Image Processor

Also benefitting the image quality, as well as overall camera performance, is the BIONZ X image processor. It faithfully reproduces details and rich tones with lower image noise than was previously possible. Performance speed is also impressive including full-resolution continuous shooting up to 14 fps, high-speed auto focusing and UHD 4K video recording. Still images can be recorded in JPEG or RAW file formats or both simultaneously.

UHD 4K Video Recording

High quality 4k is achieved by a high-speed front-end LSI, which processes mass volume image data from the 1" Exmor RS CMOS sensor - with full pixel readout and no line skipping or pixel binning - resulting in images that exhibit higher resolution and less moiré and jaggies than typical 4K movies. Moreover, the XAVC S format is incorporated to maximize high-bitrate shooting up to 100 Mbps for professional quality video. The RX10 II also includes functions such as; Picture Profile, S-Log2/S-Gamut, TC/UB, Rec Control, Dual Video Recording, and marker display function.

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 8.3x Optical Zoom Lens

The built-in Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-200mm, covering wide-angle to full telephoto perspectives to suit working in a wide variety of situations. The fast constant f/2.8 maximum aperture enables enhanced low-light capabilities as well as greater control over focus placement for selective focus imagery. The lens also features 7 aspheric elements including one Advanced Aspheric element for reduced aberrations and a Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating to help minimize lens flare and ghosting in order to produce imagery with rich contrast and clarity.

Super-Speed Anti-Distortion Electronic Shutter

In addition to the physical shutter's max speed of 1/3200 sec. even faster shutter speeds of up to 1/32000 sec. are possible thanks to a dramatically accelerated sensor readout. The accelerated electronic shutter readout minimizes distortion caused by rolling shutter phenomenon. This new fast Anti-Distortion Shutter system can capture shots of swiftly moving subjects without altering their shape as conventional CMOS sensors tend to do. Additionally, the super high-speed shutter gives you freedom to shoot photos with de-focused backgrounds by using large aperture settings under very bright lighting conditions. This is achieved by a combination of 1/32000 super high speed shutter and built-in ND filter that allows photos to be shot in extremely bright light at a maximum of EV19 with a fully open aperture.

Built-In Wireless and NFC Connectivity

Built-in wireless connectivity enables the RX10 II to instantly transfer imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing with social networking sites, via email, and to cloud storage sites. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported, which allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible Android mobile devices; no complex set-up is required. This technology when used with the free Sony PlayMemories Mobile app also provides the ability to use Smart Remote Control, which provides for remote shutter release that is controlled by a smart device.

High-Resolution LCD Monitor

For live view monitoring, image playback and review, and menu navigation, a 3.0" 1228K-dot LCD monitor is integrated into the camera body and features a tilting design to promote easier use from high and low angles. The screen can tilt approximately 84° up and 45° down, giving a wide range of viewing angles. The LCD also employs WhiteMagic technology, which enhances the brightness of the display for easier use in bright conditions. Real-time image adjustment can be seen on the monitor and Grid Display and Peaking can be customized for better image control.

XGA OLED Viewfinder

See spectacular clarity, contrast, and detail in every scene, regardless of conditions, on the built-in, bright, high-resolution OLED Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder. Four dual-sided aspherical lenses provide a big, 33º view angle and maintain excellent edge-to-edge visibility of the electronic viewfinder. An eye-sensor on the viewfinder senses when your eye is at the finder and illuminates it while simultaneously turning off the LCD monitor.

Smooth High Speed Autofocus

Aided by the rapid throughput of the BIONZ X image processor, auto focusing on the RX10 II is fast and accurate. The Direct Drive SSM (Super Sonic Wave AF Motor) provides fast and smooth autofocus action, and Flexible Spot frames enable versatility and precision when choosing your focus spots.

Precise Autofocus Tracking and Eye AF Function

Lock-on Autofocus precisely focuses on moving subjects by continuously adjusting target frame size based on its recognition of subject characteristics. Even when a subject goes out of frame temporarily, tracking resumes at the moment that it is recaptured after re-entering the frame. Advanced Eye Detection technology creates Eye AF Function which detects and focuses on the subject's eye even if the head is turned slightly.

Close-up Focusing

Close-up shooting is seamless and no switching to macro mode is needed. The minimum focus distance for the RX10 II is 1.2".

Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization

Optical SteadyShot image stabilization works to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working in low-light conditions or with greater zoom magnifications. The system can counter the effects of both vertical and horizontal movements, and, furthermore, Active 3-Way stabilization adds digital rolling control that balances both clockwise and counter-clockwise movements while recording videos.

Built-In Flash and Multi-Interface Shoe

A convenient pop-up flash with several flash modes is provided but the RX10 II features the advanced Multi-Interface Shoe that dramatically expands compatibility with Sony digital imaging accessories such as flash units and microphones, thus increasing the potential of your photo and movie shooting.

Selectable Click/Click-Less Manual Control Ring

The manual ring gives you direct control of certain settings, zooming, and focusing, according to the focus mode in use. In addition, before turning the aperture ring to set f-stop, you can turn Aperture Click Switch on for clicked aperture adjustment or off for a quiet, smooth feel when setting the aperture. A display panel on top lets you see key settings without moving the camera as you look through the viewfinder.

Multi-Compatibility Memory Slot

The one memory card slot on the RX10 II is compatible with Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro Mark 2, SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD, microSDHC, and microSDXC memory cards.

Sony RX100 Mark IV

Get Sony RX100 Mark IV at B&H Photo, about $998.

Incremental changes.

  • 20.1MP 1" Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8 Lens
  • 24-70mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • 1440k-Dot OLED Tru-Finder Pop-Up EVF
  • 3.0" 1229k-Dot Multi-Angle Xtra Fine LCD
  • Full HD Video in XAVC S, Clean HDMI Out
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC
  • ISO 12800 and 10 fps Continuous ShootingManual Control Ring & Built-In ND Filter
Sony RX100 IV

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV Digital Camera is a versatile and advanced point-and-shoot featuring a large 20.1-megapixel 1" Exmor RS CMOS sensor to produce high-resolution still imagery and 4K video. This sensor's design utilizes a stacked backside-illuminated design to improve clarity and image quality when working in dimly-lit conditions as well as to increase its sensitivity to a native ISO 12,800. By completely placing the camera's photodiodes over the sensor's processing structure, the light-gathering ability of the Exmor RS CMOS sensor is further improved over previous backside-illuminated devices and faster image processing capabilities are added as well. 16 fps of continuous shooting is made possible as well as UHD 4K movie recording with the option of Super Slow Motion frame rates of up to 960 fps. Also benefitting the performance of this sensor is the BIONZ X image processor, which helps to produce images with smooth quality and tonal gradations.

To make ultra-high definition video captures convenient, short 4K clips of up to five minutes can be recorded with no line skipping or pixel binning as well as with minimal moiré and visual aliasing. Furthermore, the XAVC S format is utilized to maximize high-bitrate shooting up to 100 Mbps for professional-quality video. When recording, creative potential is further extended with the ability to capture Super Slow Motion High Frame Rate movies at up to 40x slower than real time. These slow motion clips are recorded at 960 fps, 480 fps or 240 fps and can then be played back at 1920 x 1080, in either 60p, 30p or 24p. While recording at video resolutions lower than 4K, such as Full HD 1920 x 1080p, video clips up to 29 minutes in length can be saved.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV Digital Camera's enhanced Exmor RS CMOS sensor also helps to supplement the camera's top mechanical shutter speed of 1/2,000. It does so by enabling electronic shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000 second which minimizes distortion caused by "rolling shutter" which can become apparent when shooting fast moving subjects. Additionally, this high-speed shutter provides the ability to shoot photos with defocused backgrounds even while using large aperture settings under very bright lighting conditions. This is achieved by a combination of the 1/32,000 second electronic shutter speed and a built-in, three-stop ND filter that allows photos to be shot under extremely bright light at a maximum of EV19 with a fully open aperture setting. The built-in Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 2.9x zoom lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-70mm, covering wide-angle to portrait-length perspectives to suit working in a wide variety of environments. An f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture benefits working in low lighting and controlling focus throughout the zoom range. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization is also available to help minimize the appearance of camera shake when working in dimly-lit conditions and with greater zoom magnifications. The lens also features a Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating, which helps to reduce surface reflections, lens flare, and ghosting in order to produce imagery that is rich in contrast and clarity.

Complementing the imaging capabilities of the RX100 IV is a sleek body design featuring both an electronic viewfinder and an LCD screen. The 0.39" 2,359k-dot SVGA OLED Tru-Finder has provides a bright, clear means for eye-level viewing. It features a unique pop-up mechanism that helps to maintain the compact form factor of the camera when carrying or if preferring to work with the rear screen. The 3.0" 1,229k-dot Xtra Fine LCD incorporates WhiteMagic technology for easier visibility in bright conditions and at multiple angles. Furthermore, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC allows instant image sharing to, as well as remote camera control and monitoring from, linked mobile devices.

20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Image Processor

The large 20.1-megapixel 1" Exmor RS CMOS sensor features stacked backside-illuminated technology to enhance its low-light capabilities over previous designs to a native ISO 12,800 while still retaining vivid clarity. By placing its photodiodes between the rear of the lens and sensor's underlying processing structure, the light-gathering ability of the Exmor RS CMOS sensor is further improved over previous backside-illuminated devices and faster image processing capabilities are added as well. 16 fps of continuous shooting is made possible as well as UHD 4K movie recording with the option of Super Slow Motion frame rates of up to 960 fps. Also benefitting the performance of this sensor is the BIONZ X image processor, which helps to produce images with smooth quality and tonal gradations.

UHD 4K Video Recording

Ultra-high definition video capture is made convenient with the ability to record short 4K clips of up to five minutes with no line skipping or pixel binning and with minimal moiré or visual aliasing. The XAVC S format is utilized to maximize high-bitrate shooting up to 100 Mbps for professional-quality video. When recording, creative potential is further extended with the ability to capture Super Slow Motion High Frame Rate movies at up to 40x slower than real time. These slow motion clips are recorded at 960 fps, 480 fps or 240 fps and can then be played back at 1920 x 1080, in either 60p, 30p or 24p. At resolutions below 4K, including Full HD 1920 x 1080p, movies up to 29 minutes in length can be saved.

Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Lens

The built-in Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens provides a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 24-70mm, covering wide-angle to portrait length perspectives to suit working in a wide variety of shooting conditions. An f/1.8-2.8 maximum aperture benefits working in difficult lighting conditions throughout the entire zoom range and also enables greater control over focus placement for shallow depth of field imagery.

Nine aspherical elements, including two AA (advanced aspherical) elements, are incorporated into the lens design to minimize chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range to benefit creating sharp, clear imagery. The lens also features a Zeiss T* anti-reflective multi-layered coating to help minimize lens flare and ghosting in order to produce imagery with rich contrast and color neutrality.

Benefitting the 2.9x reach of this lens, as well as supporting working in difficult lighting conditions and with longer shutter speeds, is Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which helps to offset the effects of camera shake. Additionally, a neutral density 0.9 filter is incorporated into the camera's design, which provides a reduction of three stops in exposure to enable working in bright conditions with wider aperture settings and for greater control over how subject movement is rendered.

Camera Design

Within the compact design of the RX100 IV is both a high-resolution electronic viewfinder and a large rear LCD monitor. The 2,539k-dot SVGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF provides a bright, clear means for eye-level monitoring, which is well-suited to critical compositions and working in bright conditions. It features 100% frame coverage, and a unique pop-up mechanism. Alternatively, a 3.0" 1,229k-dot Xtra Fine LCD screen is also available and is particularly convenient when photographing from angles where the camera must be held away from the body.

For intuitive, SLR-like adjustments over a variety of camera settings, a manual control ring surrounds the lens and features a smooth, click-less design for quick and quiet changing of settings. The ring can be assigned to control a variety of features, at different values, such as zoom, aperture, and Picture Effects. A step-zoom feature can be utilized, too, to allow instant switching between commonly used focal lengths.

Super-Speed Anti-Distortion Electronic Shutter

While a mechanical shutter featuring a top shutter speed of 1/2,000 second is suitable for most subjects, an electronic shutter provides the ability to capture at 1/32,000 second. This minimizes distortion caused by "rolling shutter" which can become apparent when shooting fast moving subjects. This high-speed shutter also provides the ability to shoot photos with defocused backgrounds even while using large aperture settings under very bright lighting conditions. This is achieved by a combination of the 1/32,000 second shutter speed and a built-in, three-stop ND filter which allows photos to be shot under extremely bright light at a maximum of EV19 with a fully open aperture setting.

Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity enables instant transferring of imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing online to social networking, via email, and to cloud storage sites. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported, which allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible mobile devices, with no complex set-up required. Once connected, the linked mobile device can also display a live view image on its screen and, using Smart Remote Control, remotely control the camera's shutter release.

Additionally, PlayMemories Camera Apps are also supported via the built-in Wi-Fi connection, and allow you to personalize the camera's features depending on specific shooting styles. Apps are available to suit creating portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time lapse, motion shot, and other specific types of imagery.

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

Announced: Sony A7R II with 42-Megapixel sensor, In-Body-Image-Stabilization, 4K Video

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo (about $3198).

In a bit of a surprise, the sucessor to the Sony A7R has only a 42-megapixel sensor, not a 50 or 56 megapixels sensor. The goal seems to be higher image quality with modestly more pixels (resolution is only 8% greater). The price jumps by about 68% over the current selling price of the A7R, presumably reflecting the 4K video features and class-leading resolution.

It seems that the A7R II incorporates an electronic front curtain shutter (EFC shutter), for zero vibration exposures. This was my #1 concern with the Sony A7R predecessor, since the Sony A7R shutter vibration destroyed a lot of my work at key shutter speeds, forcing workaround hassles and rendering the use of long telephotos unworkable.

Also a huge plus is the in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS), which is really excellent for handheld shooting with classic telephoto lenses (and other purposes). Just be sure to turn it off for tripod use.

A bit disappointing is that the A7R II does not incorporate an Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II style sensor pixel shift capability (for 84 - 120 megapixel) images.

  • 42MP Full-Frame Exmor R BSI CMOS Sensor
    [DIGLLOYD: a bit puzzling as I was expecting a 50-56 megapixel sensor, but welcome nonetheless. Shutter vibration even more critical with more megapixels]
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
    [DIGLLOYD: HUGE plus, I adore this feature on the Sony A7 II]
  • 399 Phase-Detect AF Points & 5 fps Burst
  • Internal 4K XAVC S Video & S-Log2 Gamma
    [DIGLLOYD: Hooray, 4K video in a very compact camera!]
  • 0.5" 2.36M-Dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF
    [DIGLLOYD: Disappointing, wanted 3.6 megapixel EVF as in the new Leica Q]
  • 3.0" 1,228k-Dot TFT LCD Screen
    [DIGLLOYD: same old, I want a retina grade display]
  • ISO 102,400 and Silent Shutter Mode
  • Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design with EFC shutter.
    [DIGLLOYD: excellent, the #1 issue is now resolved]
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity with NFC.

All in all this looks great. However, there are some issues with the A7R that appear to remain in the A7R II, such as the 11+7 bit lossy file format.

Nikon and Canon, are you awake to this existential threat? Sony just keeps breaking new and better ground.

Sony A7R II

Hooray! At last an oversampling camera (see the video features).

Highlighted points below added by Diglloyd.

 

Sony’s New α7R II Camera Delivers Innovative Imaging Experience with World’s First Back-Illuminated 35mm Full-Frame Sensor

Sony’s Flagship Mirrorless Camera Features 42.4 MP Back-illuminated CMOS sensor, In-camera 5-axis Image Stabilization, Internal 4K Video Recording, Silent Shooting, Fast Hybrid AF and more

NEW YORK, Jun. 10, 2015 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the α7R II (model ILCE-7RM2).

The new α7R II interchangeable lens camera features the world’s first back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor(1), which realizes high resolution (42.4 MP approx. effective megapixels), high sensitivity (expandable up to ISO 102400)(2) and high speed AF response up to 40% faster than the original α7R thanks to 399 focal plane phase detection AF points.

The camera also includes a 5-axis image stabilization system borrowed from the acclaimed α7 II model and can shoot and record 4K video in multiple formats including Super 35mm (without pixel binning) and full-frame format, a world’s first for digital cameras1. Additionally, it has a newly refined XGA OLED Tru-Finder with the world’s highest (0.78x) viewfinder magnification(3).

“Sony continues to deliver game-changing imaging products that are changing the way imaging enthusiasts, hobbyists and professionals can see and capture the world,” said Mike Fasulo, President of Sony Electronics.

Kimio Maki, Senior General Manager of Digital imaging Business Group for Sony Corporation, added “By harmonizing high resolution, sensitivity and speed, we’re delivering a high-level full-frame imaging experience unlike anything else in market today, with Sony’s newly developed, world’s first back-illuminated 35mm full frame CMOS sensor.”

High Resolution, High Sensitivity and High-Speed Response

The newly developed 42.4 MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor is the most advanced, versatile and highest resolution full-frame image sensor that Sony has ever created, allowing the α7R II to reach new levels of quality, sensitivity and response speed. In the past, many photographers have been forced to choose between high-resolution and high-speed or high resolution and high sensitivity when selecting a camera. The new α7R II eliminates that sacrifice thanks to its innovative image sensor.

The 42.4 MP sensor combines gapless on-chip lens design and AR (anti-reflective) coating on the surface of the sensor’s glass seal to dramatically improve light collection efficiency, resulting in high sensitivity with low-noise performance and wide dynamic range. This allows the camera to shoot at an impressive ISO range of 100 to 25600 that is expandable to ISO 50 to 1024002.

Additionally, the sensor’s back-illuminated structure, with an expanded circuit scale and copper wiring design, enables faster transmission speed and ensures content can be captured in high resolution without sacrificing sensitivity. Data can also be output from the sensor at an approximately 3.5x faster rate compared to the original α7R.

An ideal match for Sony’s extensive collection of FE lenses (35mm full-frame compatible E-mount lenses), the new α7R II features a high-speed BIONZ X image processing engine that allows images and video from the camera to be captured with supreme details and low noise. There is also no optical low pass filter on the camera, ensuring that scenery and landscapes are captured in the highest possible resolution and clarity.

The α7R II has a new highly durable reduced-vibration shutter that realizes 50% less vibration from shutter movements compared to its predecessor, and has a cycle durability of approximately 500,000 shots(4). The camera can also be set to Silent Shooting mode in order to shoot images quietly without any sensor vibration or movement.

The new image sensor features 399 focal-plane phase-detection AF points – the world’s widest AF coverage on a full-frame sensor1 – that work together with 25 contrast AF points to achieve focus response that is about 40% faster than the original model. The α7R II utilizes an advanced motion-detection algorithm combined with this Fast Hybrid AF system to achieve up to 5fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.

Additionally, the focal plane phase-detection AF system on the α7R II works well with Sony A-mount lenses when they are mounted on the camera using an LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 mount adapter. This allows users to enjoy the wide AF coverage of 399 focal plane phase-detection AF points, high-speed response and high tracking performance with a wider range of lenses. This marks the first time that the AF system of a mirrorless camera can achieve high performance with lenses originally designed for DSLRs.

5-Axis Image Stabilization Optimized for 42.4 MP

The new flagship α7R II model is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that has been fine-tuned to support its high-resolution shooting capacity.

Similar to the system launched on the acclaimed α7 II model, this advanced form of image stabilization corrects camera shake along five axes during shooting, including angular shake (pitch and yaw) that tends to occur with a telephoto lens, shift shake (X and Y axes) which becomes noticeable as magnification increases, and rotational shake (roll) that often affects video recording. This camera shake compensation system is equivalent to shooting at a shutter speed approximately 4.5 steps faster5.

Additionally, the 5-axis stabilization works cooperatively with Sony α lenses with optical SteadyShot™ (OSS) to provide maximum stabilization and clarity, while also performing admirably via a compatible mount adapter with Sony α A-mount lenses6 without on-board stabilization. Effects of the stabilization can be previewed via live-view on the LCD or OLED viewfinder of the camera.

Unrivaled 4K Movie Shooting Performance

The impressive video credentials of Sony’s new α7R II camera include the ability to record movies in 4K quality (QFHD 3840x2160) in either Super 35mm crop mode or full-frame mode.

In Super 35mm mode, the camera collects a wealth of information from approximately 1.8x as many pixels as 4K by using full pixel readout without pixel binning and oversamples the information to produce 4K movies with minimal moire and ‘jaggies’.

In full-frame mode, the α7RII utilizes the full width of the 35mm sensor for 4K recording, allowing users to utilize the expanded expressive power of the sensor. It is the world’s first digital camera to offer this in-camera full-frame format 4K recording capacity1.

The camera utilizes the advanced XAVC S7 codec during video shooting, which records at a high bit rate of 100 Mbps during 4K recording and 50 Mbps during full HD shooting.

Additionally, the α7RII model features a variety of functions to support a professional video workflow including Picture Profile, S-Log2 Gamma and S-Gamut, 120fps high frame rate movie shooting in HD (720p), time code, clean HDMI output and more.

Enhanced Design, Operability and Reliability

The new full-frame α7RII has an upgraded XGA OLED Tru-Finder™ with a double-sided aspherical lens that delivers the world’s highest viewfinder magnification3 of 0.78x for crystal clear image preview and playback across the entire display area. ZEISS® T* Coating is also utilized to reduce unwanted reflections that interfere with the shooting experience.

The camera has an extremely solid, professional feel in-hand thanks to its light, rigid magnesium alloy design, and has a re-designed grip and shutter button compared to its predecessor. There is also a new mechanism to conveniently lock the mode dial, and an expanded range of customizable functions and buttons to suit the most demanding photographers.

The new α7R II camera is Wi-Fi® and NFC compatible and fully functional with Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile™ application available for Android™ and iOS platforms, as well as Sony’s growing range of PlayMemories Camera Apps™, which add a range of creative capabilities to the camera. For example, there is more creativity available now for time-lapse photography thanks to a new “Angle Shift add-on” app allows users to easily add pan, tilt and zoom to time-lapse images without any additional shooting equipment or PC software required. Learn more at www.sony.net/pmca.

Sony has also introduced a new LCD monitor model CLM-FHD5, an ideal companion to the α7R II for video shooting. A compact 5.0 type Full HD (1920x1080p) LCD monitor, the CLM-FHD5 features enlarging and peaking functionality for precise focusing, false color and video level marker for adjusting exposure and S-Log display assist to assist S-Log shooting.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α7R II full-frame interchangeable lens camera will be available in August for about $3200 at www.store.sony.com and a variety of Sony authorized dealers nationwide.

The α7R II is compatible with Sony’s growing lineup of α -mount lenses, which now totals 63 different models including 12 native ‘FE’ full frame lenses. By early 2016, Sony will add an additional 8 new lenses to its FE full frame lineup, bringing the FE total to 20 lenses and the overall α -mount assortment to 70 different models.

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content shot with the flagship α7RII camera and other Sony α products can be found at www.sony.com/alpha, Sony’s new community site built to educate, inspire and showcase all fans and customers of the Sony α brand.

The new content will also be posted directly at Sony global sites https://www.youtube.com/c/ImagingbySony and https://www.sony.net/Product/di_photo_gallery/.

Footnotes:

1. Among 35 mm full-frame interchangeable-lens cameras, according to Sony research as of June 2015
2. Expanded ISO range available only for shooting still images
3. Among digital still cameras. The viewfinder magnification is approx. 0.78x (with 50mm lens at infinity, -1m-1). As of June 2015 based on Sony research
4. According to Sony internal testing, with the electronic front curtain shutter activated.
5. Based on CIPA standards. Compensates for angular shake (pitch and yaw). Measured using a Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA lens, with long exposure noise reduction off.
6. Some lenses are not compatible with 5-axis image stabilization.
7. An SDXC memory card with a Class 10 or higher speed rating is required for XAVC S recording and UHS Speed Class 3 is required for recording at 100Mbps

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Apple 2015 MacBook Pro SSD: Fastest SSD Yet

Authored Apple dealer B&H Photo loaned MPG the Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Retina (Mid 2015), 2.8GHz / Radeon R9 M370X / 16GB / 1TB. This top-end configuration is recommended for power users, photographers, videographers, etc. B&H Photo has a low price on AppleCare.

Photoshop and Lightroom users take note of the awesome SSD performance in the 2015 MacBook Pro, which translates into big gains in the Real World of taxing computer tasks.

Of course most computing will not see such gains. But the SSD performance greatly extends the envelope for anything that is I/O intensive and/or exceeds the maximum 16GB memory.

SSD/Flash drive in 2015 MacBook Pro vs late 2013 MacBook Pro, diglloydHuge benchmark

Apple iPhone is a Phone with Camera, Panasonic DMC-DM1P is a Camera with Phone

Get Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1P 16GB Camera and Smartphone (Unlocked) at B&H Photo.

While the iPhone is a phone that incorporates a camera, the Panasonic DMC-DM1P offers form and features that make it a camera first, phone second.

Given that the real cost of an iPhone 6 is about $850, the about $999 Panasonic DMC-DM1P is priced competitively, but camera oriented in its feature set.

The DM1P has a relatively large 1" sensor versus the 1/3" sensor in the iPhone. The DM1P has a much larger sensor, more camera-like egonomics, and ts both RAW format and 4K video. So it’s fair to say that it’s a camera that is also, secondly, a phone.

  • GSM / 4G LTE Capable for North American Variant
  • 1" 20.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Sensor
  • Wide 28mm f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit Lens
  • RAW Image Capture & 4K Video Recording
  • Control Ring for Full Manual Operation
  • 2.3 GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon 801 Chipset
  • 16GB Storage Capacity + 2GB of RAM
  • 4.7" 1920 x 1080 TFT LCD Display
  • Android KitKat 4.4
Panasonic DMC-DM1P

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: Amazing Sharpness (examples)

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

The monochrome sensor in the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 is capable of terrific sharpness. To realize that sharpness, the focus must be spot-on and the depth of field must adequate. These examples all meet those requirements and thus show the best possible performance one can expect.

Examples: Just How Sharp is the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246?

Examples include sizes up to full resolution (24MP).

Because the lenses deliver the goods, one wishes for 2X or 3X the megapixels, if only to reduce the staircasing of fine details (especially angled and very fine details on curved details). A sensor with 72 megapixels would be just about right.

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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: At Least Two Sensor Column Defects

Two defective sensor columns, 200% view
(Leica M Monochrom Typ 246)

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

My on-loan (production) Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 has two bad pixel columns (possibly more) which leads to image defects clearly visible with the subject matter containing parallel lines.

Bad CMOS Sensor: Entire Column Mapped Out (M Monochrom Typ 246)

I reported the same type of issue with the Leica M9 in Sensor Defect: Bad Pixel Column (M9 CCD).

Bad individual pixels are unavoidable, and are routinely mapped out by camera firmware. Pixels can also be “killed” by cosmic rays even after the camera has shipped; this can be fixed by most vendors, again via a firmware update. Single bad pixels, even thousands of them (typical), are simply not an issue in a 24 megapixel sensor. But an entire bad pixel column has troublesome effects for the “wrong” subject matter.

Apparently Leica considers two entire pixel column defects to be acceptable, as seen here with the test camera (a production/release camera body). For such a high-end product, I have an expectation of getting quality commensurate with the price, and even more so for a specialty camera having no anti-aliasing filter. That means zero pixel column defects not two, or even one. Sensor costs do go up when rejecting sensors with bad pixel columns, but at around 2.5X to 4X the price of other full frame cameras, expectations for quality commensurate with the price is not unreasonable.

Together with the black spots issue, it might be wise to wait for some light to be shed on both matters by Leica.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

I’m not sure what to make of this bizarre artifact, which is seen even with sharpening set to zero in Adobe Camera Raw. Is it a sensor defect, a camera defect, a raw converter issue? I don’t know, but I would not be a buyer of the Leica M Typ 246 until the answer becomes clear. I hope to see the issue appear reproduced using another raw converter besides ACR (thus ruling out the raw converter), but so far Iridient Developer won’t open the DNGc files even though it ostensibly supports the MM246.

UPDATE: I have confirmed with Brian Griffith of Iridient Digital that the spots are seen when converting with Iridient Developer. So unfortunately the black spots are “baked in” to the raw file.

Leica M Typ 246: Black Dots on White Spots Artifacts

Two entirely different examples are shown which are consistent in the behavior, both at ISO 320, so this is not a noise issue (besides, it is not random at all, but 100% predictable as a black dot inside a small white spot). Use of a 10X magnifying loupe on the actual fabric shown below proves that these dark spots do not exist in reality. Other images suggest a reverse “white spot in black dot” issue as well, but I need to confirm that with more than one image.

It looks to me like a camera/sensor defect and I strongly suspect the damage is baked into the raw files I shot. But I retain a small hope that it’s the ACR engine, not the raw file itself.

Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (200% of actual pixels)

This image, gorgeous in its tones, but has tiny little pimples all over the image (plain to see in the full-size image).

Ancient Bristlecone Pines
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Shootout: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 vs Leica M Typ 240

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

I was curious as to how the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 would compare to the Leica M Typ 240 in terms of detail rendition. Both cameras utilize the the same underlying sensor technology, the difference is that the M240 overlays a CFA (color filter array, a Bayer matrix sensor) whereas the MM246 omits this CFA for a pure monochrome sensor.

This scene was chosen for its invariant lighting and preponderance of very fine detail that is right at the limits of sensor resolution. No filters were used; this is clear mid-day harsh lighting. It puts both cameras to a severe test.

Compared: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 vs Leica M Typ 240 (Lee Vining Canyon)

Included are the entire-frame image from the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 and the Leica M Typ 240 (color and grayscale).

Lee Vining Canyon (east of Yosemite), June 3 2015
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Huge Selection of Drones

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8: Snowstorm in the Hoover Wilderness Examples/Narrative

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I present examples and narrative of a wonderful June 4 snowstorm. These examples give an excellent idea of the performance envelope of the Zeiss Batis lenses.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Approaching Spring Snowstorm Examples (Sony A7R)

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Spring Snowstorm Examples (Sony A7R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also). This is not a technical evaluation but a narrative and story primarily; the images speak for themselves in overall visual impact, and 24MP is well beyond ample resolution for evaluation purposes.

Some readers have inquired about Sony A7R shutter vibration. This is a concern that never goes away and in some cases there is subtle sharpness damage peaking around 1/125 second (all the images were shot as full aperture series). However, each image was selected for the total visual effect, e.g., its aperture which influences vignetting, DoF, streaking snow for a particular shutter speed. And that is the goal: how do the lenses perform in sharpness and rendering, e.g. what is the visual impact. And even at 24 megapixels the loss of sharpness is mitigated by the 2:3 downsampling.

Pines near and far in cloud-fog, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Lexar Professional 128GB Cards

 
2-pack of Lexar 128GB 1000X SDXC

I greatly favor high-capacity cards because they act as an accumulative backup for my field work (redundancy to laptop download+backup).

There was a lot of interest in the Lexar 128GB Compact Flash deal I posted about a month ago. POI: a recent photo tour client indicates that the Lexar 128GB card was noticeably faster in his Leica S when shooting than the previous card, and worked without issues (current model Leica S).

While not quite as deep a discount, the Lexar 128GB CompactFlash and Lexar 128GB SDXC cards remain highly appealing on a speed+capacity+price basis.

Lexar 128GB CompactFlash and Lexar 128GB SDXC

What caught my eye was a 2-pack Lexar 128GB SDXC 1000X cards for only $126 with free expedited shipping.

Even more appealing for those needing the capacity, see the 2-pack Lexar 256GB SDXC 1000X cards for only $275 with free expedited shipping. In the past, the 256GB cards have carried a steep price per GB premium, but the price per gigabyte now is only marginally higher than the 128GB cards.

Card readers: what has worked well for me for some years is the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader, but see also Lexar CFR1 card reader for Compact Flash or a fast USB3 card reader.

Snowstorm in the Hoover Wilderness (with Zeiss Batis, Sony 28/2)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Spring conditions the day prior gave way to one of the most gently beautiful snowstorms I’ve experienced (and as a lad in Wisconsin I have seen a few). It resulted in the best images of the day, perhaps of the trip; I love shooting in non-traditional weather; I hope this shows in the images.

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 has a deep enough lens hood that with a little care the front lens surface will stay free of rain or snow (and it is weather resistant). Shoot the scene, then carry with the lens angled down to avoid ingress of rain/snow. I had given up any hope of using the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 because the big wet flakes would instantly speckle the front surface, its lens hood being much less protective as with any wide angle in that range.

Near white-out conditions were thrilling as the clouds moved in (about 11,500' elevation here). Small flakes, then hail-like popcorn snow (4mm soft round pellets), then big puffy flakes. All with mountain-fresh air and hardly a breath of wind. It was a rare and intensely enjoyable sensual treat to be see/smell/feel the storm. To see the clouds rush in and obliterate the view, all while being completely and entirely alone miles from “home” (the only car remaining at the trailhead, mine). An excitement at the sheer beauty, yet with an undercurrent of tension, knowing that no mistakes can be made (any disabling slip or fall).

Most of these images all taken with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 on the Sony A7R. The Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a razor sharp performer with superb bokeh, and in fast-changing conditions its autofocus was a huge plus; I could not have shot so fast and reliably with a manual focus lens (e.g., Zeiss Otus), and I’m darn glad it wasn’t monochrome—the subdued colors make the shots in my view. The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a must-have for any Sony shooter (about $1199).

This first image with the Sony/Zeiss 28mm f/2; it has considerable distortion and vignetting wide open, but looks good in such a scene nonetheless.

Leading edge of spring nowstorm in Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Stand of pines on granit outcrop in snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Snow on vernal pond, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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White granite in white-out conditions, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Solo pine wet from snow, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Striped gneiss erratic closeup in snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Pines in ground-level clouds, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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Snowbank, vernal pond and landscape, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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It all went swimmingly until the polarizer fogged (using it for front element protection)—and with big wet flakes dumping like crazy, I did not attempt to remove it and shoot filter-less.

Having begun hiking back but still being ~4 miles into the wilderness from a parking lot entirely abandoned but for my lonely vehicle, a just prior slip-and-fall on an innocuous wet rock reminded me that execution errors could be very serious. Also, I was not fully prepared for the winter-like conditions (but the Western Mountaineering Flash XR jacket shrugged off the wet snow for 3+ hours—very impressive for a down jacket). And my shoes and wool pants were getting wet. So with some regret, I packed up the camera and humped it back.

Heavy wet snow on pines, Hoover Wilderness, June 4 2015
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OWC Firecracker Savings

Snow in the Hoover Wilderness

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

I’ll be publishing my examples and impressions as part of my review of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, including the use of red and deep red and other filters, focusing, metering and so on.

The beauty of Live View in the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 is that no matter the filter, focus can be exact (red in particular focuses substantially more rearward vs other colors of light). See the focus shift behaviors (especially deep red) documented with the (original) Leica M Monchrom. The lack of Live View on the original MM was/is a fatal flaw for using yellow/orange/red filters because as much as f/8 was needed to mitigate the focus shift with a deep red filter (vs what the rangefinder indicated, it being calibrated for “white light”).

With the MM246, the focus shift can be seen easily: focus without the filter, then hold a red filter over the lens and watch it go blurry (use maximum aperture to make it obvious).

Shown below is the upper basin of one of my favorite places, the Hoover Wilderness Area.

Here, a B+W 091 filter (deep red) was used along with a polarizer. This combo works very nicely under these conditions, though the polarizer had minimal effect due to the clouds.

Erratics and snow in Mt Conness eastern basin, June 3 2015
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Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 960GB, perfect for travel or silent backup

White Mountains Melt

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

On the long hike back from the day’s shoot, the moon rose to illuminate the seemingly barren landscape. What’s left of a foot of snow from ~2 weeks ago trickles and gurgles while ground-nesting birds sing of spring. All sorts of insects abound, including ladybugs, snow lice, beetles, and various other insects one might find anywhere. One has only to look carefully, i.e., to see.

White Mountains Runoff
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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 In the Field: Dynamic Range

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

When I return from my trip, I’ll be publishing my examples and impressions as part of my review of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, including the use of red and deep red filters, focusing, metering and so on.

Dynamic range of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 is a 12 bits (miserly here in 2015), a whopping three stops short of what I feel a monochrome camera ought to have. In the field, the MM246 simply cannot handle some scenes, so I let the shadows pin to black. Still, the ISO 320 results show very low noise and hold up beautifully to aggressive shadow boosts as seen in these two images.

Mary Lake stumps
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Sunset, Mary Lake
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Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 in the Field

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

The Zeiss Batis lenses deliver first class results in the field. I’m really enjoying them, and dang is the 85/1.8 razor sharp. And the Batis 25mm f/2 may have no peer in the 24/25mm range (it’s feeling that way in the image quality it’s delivering).

Study in Blue
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Soon to be Green
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The blurred water comes by using the Breakthrough Photography 6-stop X3 ND filter. I made no adjustment for color; the filter is terrific in maintaining neutrality.

First Gleam
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Early Morning on Still Pond
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Longer exposure / blurred water using the Breakthrough Photography 6-stop X3 ND filter.

Rock Creek Area, Early Spring 2015
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On a photo tour, up early.

Rock Creek Area, Early Morning Photographer
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Road Status Beyond Patriarch Grove (White Mountains)

I hiked up a way on the road above Patriarch Grove, and I’d give it 10:1 odds in favor of being able to churn through the snow all the way up to the minor road-summit overlooking Patriarch Grove, since one wheel can be on soft but solid ground most of the way (and I did it a few years ago with very similar conditions). But near the top it’s all snow, and while it looks soft and not very deep, the road steepens sharply. It’s a long way to back down in reverse if I’m mistaken (no way to turn around), so I decided to go shoot in Patriarch Grove instead.

Note: there is no snow on the road all the way to Patriarch Grove.

The road shown below is the road heading to the small summit above Patriarch Grove. It always melts out last because drifts accumulate as seen here. Today was very warm, 72°F at Schulman Grove and high 60's at P.G, mushy snow melting very fast.

Road above Patriarch Grove, May 31 2015
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Road above Patriarch Grove, looking down to the south, May 31 2015
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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 In the Field

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

I’m getting some field experience with the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 246. When I return from the Yosemite area, I’ll be publishing my examples and impressions as part of my review of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

Pond in Dana Meadow
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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: Aperture Series to Assess Diffraction and Digital Artifacts (Dolls)

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

See my review of the original 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom in Guide to Leica and the summary of the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 240.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, rear

This aperture series assesses the effects if diffraction from f/2 to f/16 and shows diffraction mitigation results at f/11 and f/16.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: Aperture Series to Assess Diffraction and Digital Artifacts (Dolls)

Includes full resolution images (24 megapixels) and crops.

It is odd to find what appears to be digital artifacts in a monochrome sensor camera, but there it stood out (not shown here), found while assessing the scene for diffraction. Disabling sharpening leaves the apparent artifacts in place, so it’s not a result I yet understand.

Together with the ISO assessment, this series gives a good core understanding of the technical performance envelope of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

Dynamic range appears good, but well short of the Nikon D810, and I’m unsure whether the the MM246 can deliver more detail than the Nikon D810—to be tested in the field.

I’m getting some field experience with the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 246. When I return from the Yosemite area, I’ll be publishing my examples and impressions as part of my review of the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: ISO Series from 320 to 25,600 (Dolls)

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

See my review of the original 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom in Guide to Leica and the summary of the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 240.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, rear

Well, it’s stressful trying to bang out material the day before an early morning departure, but Stuff arrives when it arrives, and the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 surprised me by showing up today, and I’m loathe to depart without exploring some of the camera parameter, so I know what to expect in the field. Still gotta process and publish a bunch of stuff before leaving in early AM. So I suppose I’ll be packing my car very late tonight.

Anyway, here is a controlled comparison from ISO 320 to ISO 25,600 on the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: ISO Series from 320 to 25,600 (Dolls)

Includes full resolution images (24 megapixels) and one large crop at ISO 320, 640, 1250, 2500, 5000, 10000, 25600.

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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Lens Rendering Series: Grass Clump in Mid Stream + Dark Rocks (Sony A7R)

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See review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

These two lens rendering aperture series from f/1.8 to f/13 are intended to show the drawing style of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 with a relatively close subject (3-4 meters).

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Grass Clump in Mid Stream (Sony A7R)

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Grass and Dark Rocks (Sony A7R)

Entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels from f/1.8 through f/13.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Leica 24-Megapixel Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 Arrives for Testing

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

See my review of the original 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom in Guide to Leica and the summary of the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 240.

Hooray! The 24-megapixel Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 arrives TODAY, just in time for my trip to Yosemite (tomorrow). Coverage will of course be in Guide to Leica. A big thanks to B&H Photo for making thie MM246 available to me.

Megapixels are not necessarily the main improvement with the new model, if indeed is to be any significant gain in resolution; the change from a CCD to CMOS sensor can be significant in resolving power behavior, from what I saw with the M9 to M240 transition. I do expect more from the Monochrom however.

The big deal as I see it is the addition of Live View. Live View delivers the ability to be sure of critical focus whether using filters or not.

Flters from yellow to deep red require a significantly different focus from normal—as with shooting in infrared, particularly with red and deep red filters. With the original M Moncohrom, this focus difference was difficult to deal with on a camera having only a rangefinder. See Filters and Focus Error / Sharpness. Even with the 50/2 APO the focus difference is problematic, see Focus Shift with Color Filters on M Monochrom.

But focusing differences with color filters are a non-issue with a Live View camera, since focusing Live View uses the actual image striking the sensor (vs a separate loosy-goosy mechanical rangefinder coupling, which I stopped using entirely once the M240 replaced my M9).

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, rear
Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Image from the Leica M Monochrom (original 18MP version)
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Sony: Which Lens Corrections are Baked Into the Raw ARW File?

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I had posted Automatic Correction for Lateral Chromatic Aberration in Adobe Camera Raw yesterday, and William K writes in response:

Lens profile settings in ACR/Lightroom is a mess at the moment. My own testing with a Sony A7s and 16-35mm lens shows the following inconsistencies:

1. Distortion — This setting appears to be the only one with some consistency. The raw file is unaltered irrespective of the A7s lens correction setting. The distortion correction in ACR/Lightroom also looks ok when compared with a corrected a jpeg.

2. LACA (lateral chromatic aberration) — LACA correction is always applied and baked into the raw files irrespective of the A7s lens correction settings. The correction in the raw file is however not as effective as in a corrected jpeg which means that in some cases you still have to apply LACA correction to raw files in ACR/Lightroom. An uncorrected jpeg clearly shows the full extend of LACA in the lens but for some reason the raw file correction in the camera is somewhere between this and the corrected jpeg.

3. Vignetting is very problematic. If you use vignetting lens correction in the A7s that correction is baked into the raw file which will lead to over-correction when the lens profile is applied in ACR/Lightroom. The vignetting correction that is baked into the raw file is virtually identical to that of a corrected jpeg.

Lens profile settings use to be in the “set-and-forget” category. The normal practice was to enable this in the camera which will ensure corrected jpegs and videos without affecting raw files at all. With the latest trend you really have to jump through hoops to ensure consistency. To make it worse virtually none of this behaviour is well documented.

DIGLLOYD: this assessment held only one surprise for me: the camera baking LACA correction into the raw file. I’m not sure it’s true that it is less effective (see below) nor as yet have I definitively concluded that it is baked in.

Examination of my recent Sony A7R raw files with Iridient Developer (which allows all corrections to be disabled) suggests that indeed LACA correction is baked into the raw ARW file. While there can be lingering minor chromatic errors seen, they are mild and appear to be another type of chromatic error and/or some deviation in the particular lens from the LACA-correction modeling for the lens design. Of course, shooting a non-electronic lens via lens adapter will not result in correction, since the camera has no knowledge of which lens is in use.

Why would there be a setting in the camera for the correction, if it baked into raw files by the camera anyway? When I shoot Sony, I set the following, does the camera simply always disregard its Chro Aber Comp setting?

Shading Comp = Off
Chro. Aber. Comp = Off
Distortion Comp = off

In general, non-adaptive (non lens specific) correction for LACA is a problem. For example, with the Sigma DP1 Merrill, if my camera’s files are corrected by Sigma Photo Pro for LACA, the image actually develops color fringing one one side with the correction enabled where there was none without correction, even as the color fringing is removed on the other side of the frame.

Other cameras use automatic correction. For example, Leica M reads the 6-bit lens code and applies vignetting and color shading (color vignetting) correction, baking this into the raw file. It can be disabled, but the results are horrendous. Moreover, this correction is peculiar to the ray angle issue with Leica M rangefinder lenses on digital. From what I see, Fujifilm is also into correction; it’s just done as Fujifilm sees fit in some aspects. Few vendors even bother to document or clarify what is being done; the manuals are an abject failure in terms of explaining (“Foo setting = do Foo”, a circular explanation).

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Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Knobby Boulder in Creek (Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

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The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is a compact and lightweight performer at a relatively modest price. Following up on the close-range Dolls series, this outdoors scene evaluates the Sony 28mm f/2 at a medium focusing distance.

In Guide to Mirrorless:

Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Knobby Boulder (A7R)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels as well as large crops from f/2 through f/13.

The Sony 28mm f/2 is quite sharp, but I have some reservations about its excessive distortion because correcting that distortion degrades image quality in peripheral areas. But it offers a strong performance overall, and any JPEG shooter need have no concern at all about the distortion—just enable distortion correction in camera and poof no issue.

Still, I don’t feel any urgency to buy it, unlikes the Zeiss Batis lenses. And yet a 28mm f/2 is a very nice focal length, and the lens is a perfect match for the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and Sony 55mm f/1.8 in terms of size/weight and performance style, all designed by Zeiss.

Knobby Boulder
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Sony FE 28mm f/2: Strong Distortion and How Correcting it Damages Sharpness

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

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A lens can be made small and light and offer very good performance, but something has to give, and typically distortion is allowed to grow.

This “distortion compromise” is indeed the case with the Sony FE 28mm f/2, whose distortion is pronounced. Correcting it will be all but mandatory for many shooting situations.

And yet, correcting its distortion substantially degrades image sharpness in the areas that must be stretched.

In Guide to Mirrorless:

Sony FE 28mm f/2 Distortion examples

Two examples are shown with toggles for distortion uncorrected vs corrected, and with a large crop also.

Zeiss Batis: Notes on OLED Display, Distance and Depth of Field Scales

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Added to my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless are notes on programming and using the OLED display on the Batis lenses.

The OLED display can be programmed for meters or feet and it can bet set to ON (always on), OFF (always off), or MF (manual focus only). Circle of confusion (depth of field calculation) depends on the camera body, so it is “smart”.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Creek Overview (Sony A7R)

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See review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

This aperture series from f/2 to f/16 is a far-field image, a case where any weaknesses tend to pop out, and indeed a weakness is found, but whether it is lens or camera is unclear.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Creek Overview(Sony A7R)

Entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels from f/1.8 through f/16.

The performance is sure to delight any wide angle shooter, starting with its superb visual impact right at f/2. The Batis 25mm f/2 is the lens to have in that range for the Sony mirrorless shooter. At about $1299 (before the 4% reward and with free expedited shipping), it’s reasonably priced for what it delivers.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Sapling Above Creek (Sony A7R)

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See review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

This lens rendering aperture series from f/1.8 to f/16 is intended to show the drawing style of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 with a relatively close subject against a more distant background.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Sapling Above Creek (Sony A7R)

Entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels from f/1.8 through f/16.

One might argue that bokeh for strongly out of focus areas is pretty much the same. But this is decidedly not so, as one can easily see in shooting the Leica Noctilux, whose strong field curvature layers a distinctly distracting effect over the image in some situations.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Sculptured Elegance (Sony A7R)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo. (thanks for buying with this link!)

See my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

This extensive series offers entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels from f/1.8 through f/16 as well as the usual large crop series. Sony SteadyShot disabled of course.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Aperture Series: Sculptured Elegance (Sony A7R)

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar is a gorgeous lens that falls short of Zeiss Otus level in various aspects, but every lens is a combination of things, and the Batis 85/1.8 is relatively small and light and a very strong performer and it is autofocus. And it goes onto relatively tiny camera bodies (Sony A7 series). There’s a lot to like about it in all aspects. Zeiss has made a wise tradeoff in going for f/1.8, which keeps the size and weight down and makes performance easier to achieve at a lower price.

From what I’m seeing, the Batis lenses are MUST HAVES for Sony shooters. And short of Zeiss Otus, you’re not going to do better at 25mm and 85mm on Canon and/or Nikon. Let’s hope that Zeiss aggressively expands the Batis line. I vote for an 18mm f/2.8 next.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Douglas S writes:

Your images with the 85mm Batis are quite superb, the best I recall including the Otus, superb colour as well as sharpness, added to my must have lens for the Sony A7R II with hopefully a quieter shutter that doesn’t try to throw the camera off the tripod.

DIGLLOYD: more coming. My Sony wishes include a vibration-free EFC shutter, 50+ megapixels, a non-lossy file format with less cooking of the raw file, IBIS, and a slightly larger and sturdier camera body for better controls (more usable with gloves and big hands),

Opening for June 1/2/3 Photo Tour

Yosemite or White Mountains. Details.

I’ll have the new Zeiss Batis lenses with me which a Sony shooter might get to try for a bit.

Snow conditions should look something like those seen in the image below.

Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Upper Tenaya Creek
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Rocks

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo. (thanks for buying with this link!)

See my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

Last night in my haste I forgot to turn off Sony SteadyShot, so I went back tonight and shot some new material with it turned off, to guarantee peak results on a tripod. I’ll be presenting a number of series in the next few days in my review (more on the Batis 25/2 also). Then I’m heading to Yosemite for a few days (and BTW I have an opening for a photo tour on June 1/2/3).

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar rocks. What a gorgeous lens (the Zeiss Batis 25/2 also). MUST HAVES for Sony shooters.

Short of Zeiss Otus, you’re not going to do any better at 25mm and 85mm on Canon and/or Nikon. And the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 surely looks to be a better lens than the Zeiss ZF.2 25mm f/2 Distagon. Which raises a nagging question I’ve been wondering about for 2-3 years: when is Zeiss going to raise its wide-angle game in the DSLR arena?

A camera system depends on its lenses, and the Zeiss Batis line now solidly anchors the Sony mirrorless platform. Along with the Sony 28mm f/2 (more review coverage coming) and the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 and the prospect of a 50+ megapixel Sony A9, one wonders about Nikon and Canon and Fujifilm as distant runner ups in key markets like travel, landscape, wedding photography, etc. If only Sony would fix is dog excrement service and support.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Douglas S writes:

Your images with the 85mm Batis are quite superb, the best I recall including the Otus, superb colour as well as sharpness, added to my must have lens for the Sony A7R II with hopefully a quieter shutter that doesn’t try to throw the camera off the tripod.

DIGLLOYD: more coming.

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Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Through the Boulders (Sony A7R)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Aperture Series: Water Through the Boulders (Sony A7R)

With entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels from f/2 - f/13, and large crops.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Caution: Sony SteadyShot Destroys Sharpness on a Tripod

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless.

The Zeiss Batis lenses are fully electronic, like any Sony FE lens, so they support the usual Sony A7 series camera features.

Image quality of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar is superlative, but there is a gotcha: Sony’s SteadyShot destroys sharpness on a tripod (erratically), just as happens with every other vendor’s image stabilization. Does every camera vendor really think that image stabilization will be useful on a tripod for 2/5/10/20/30 seconds? It never is unless the comparison is between badly blurred (e.g. a fierce wind rocking things), and somewhat blurred.

Well, I goofed last night—racing to use the failing light, I swapped to the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar from the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon, I entirely forget about SteadyShot, buried as it is in the Sony kitchen-sink menu system. So some nice images ruined.

But my goof is to reader’s benefit as a reminder and didactic documentation, and so I show the series, which overall looks great, but with f/4 clearly damaged:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4 Sonnar On a Tripod With SteadyShot = Damaged Sharpness (Sony A7R, Through the Boulders)

So what is terrific for portraits is a liability for field use on a tripod. I have the human fault of not always remembering everything, particularly if I’m swapping lenses and/or shooting handheld sometimes and on a tripod a moment later (which I sometimes do).

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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In general

I vastly prefer switches on the lens and for this I fault Zeiss Batis design: it ought to be there. The Batis LED depth of field scale is incredibly crisp and readable but such scales are 100% ignored and useless for me, and I’d much rather have a SteadyShot indicator!

In general, camera systems are tools and tools should work for their users, not set up risks to stumble over. A car won’t start without the foot on the brake, for good reason. Smart system design includes thought about all aspects of usage.

With auto ISO, one can set the range of ISO values, so with SteadyShot, why is there not an operational range so the user can say “use only from 1/8 second and faster?”

Sebastian B writes:

Absolutely true, but there is also another and even more fail-safe way of doing it: automatically disable IS with the 2-second timer. Then as long as you're tripod-shooting with the timer, you don't even have to care about IS.

(Bonus: as soon as you disable the timer, IS will return to its previous setting, usually meaning it's again enabled for handheld shooting without user intervention. I've been shooting Pentax DSLRs like this for years and basically never had to even touch any IS controls.)

DIGLLOYD: Since Sebastian wrote the above, he clarified his comments:

Nah, misunderstanding — I was proposing that Sony should implement it like that. The problem is that they haven't, thus making it necessary for users to always check the IS setting. I'm sure the blur is exactly what you think it is, it's happened to me too on the A6000.

I was using the 2 second self timer; I always do so on a tripod to avoid disturbing the camera.

Note that my initial day's shooting had the Sony 1.01 firmware, now I’ve used the Sony root kit to get to verion 1.2 for the 2nd day’s shooting. The camera I’m using arrived in April; Sony keeps shipping stale firmware cameras, suggesting a warehouse full of unsold goods somewhere.

Henning K writes:

Also if you wish for other options regarding stabilizing,maybe natural is like Pentax to disable stabilisation together with self timer. I wish though for an option to decide ourselves about that. As the Sony could probably make stabilizing and self timer work at the same time. That helps for handheld and currently I have to make complicated workarounds to get near to that with Pentax.

DIGLLOYD: See above by Sebastian B.

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Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar: First Look, Portraits

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless, I take a first look at portraits with both the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar on the Sony A7R.

Portraits with Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

Portraits with Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

Images presented in various sizes up to 24 megapixels.

More to come, but the examples published above should give a good feel for the superlative image quality.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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Subscriber Douglas S writes:

You said there was better to come and paid out big. Colour, tones and detail, crisp and just gorgeous. Now where does the end of queue start I wonder?

These will fly off the shelves and the 25mm is no slouch either.

Photography was made for this kind of quality lens.

Well done, how do you beat these shots.

DIGLLOYD: the Zeiss Batis (and Zeiss Loxia) line makes the Sony mirorrless platform much more appealing. But note that where Sony offers a Zeiss design, there will not be competition in that focal.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar: Here we Go

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

See initial review coverage of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless, as well as Zeiss Announces 'Batis' line: Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar and Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar: MTF Series from f/1.8 - f/16 + Distortion.

The Sony A7R meets two new optics tomorrow. :)

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2   Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 for Sony A7 series
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Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Defunct Ranch Buildings at Sunset

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

A lens that resists flare and holds high contrast all while delivering high sharpness right from f/1.4 is a keeper in your author’s book, and it is a key question for a landscape photographer, or for anyone looking to make images with a high dynamic range.

Does the lens hold contrast and resist flare enough to make faux HDR viable?

If the lens grays-out the shadows or belches ghosting or veiling flares, it’s game over for scenes like this.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Defunct Ranch Buildings at Sunset (Nikon D810)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide), along with UltraHD crops from ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/13.

Defunct Ranch Buildings at Sunset
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Fred S writes:

Thanks for nailing this shot, inspiring me to think about the right equipment, exposure, focus, composition, and time of day, a beautiful reminder of the aesthetic of straight photography.

DIGLLOYD: Especially hard to do when the results have to be part of my lens coverage, and not simply shooting at will. :)

Huge Selection of Drones

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Green Lichen on North Side of Barn (M240)

Get Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

A “wall test” is a very demanding test, because any lens with field curvature will have a difficult time making a sharp image across the frame for the first few apertures.

This series confirms and complements the Rusty Barn series.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Aperture Series: Green Lichen on North Side of Barn (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images to full resolution, and large crops, from ƒ/1.4 through ƒ/5.6 along with large crops.

The Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is a must-have lens for the Leica M shooter. It is a rare gem in being extremely sharp in a flat field, low distortion, excellent in correction for color errors, and gorgeous in its bokeh.

 
Green Lichen on North Side of Barn
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Hiep P writes:

I just want to say excellent coverage once again. Your thorough tests have always impressed me and helped me making sound purchase. I am now going full M-mount so I sold my SLR stuff and just placed an order on the 50 AA. As a 50 shooter, I think the wider companion should be a 28, though your praise of the ZM 35/1.4 is making it hard for me to decide. I'm looking forward to seeing your review on the Lux 28. I'm at the point of analysis paralysis :D juggling back and forth between 28 and 35. I shot a 35 before but feel like it's neither wide nor narrow enough for my purpose. I guess more shooting might change that, but I was more comfortable with my ZE 28 back then.

Anyway, my main point for this email is to ask if you can include a coma test in your test routine. A quick shot of a starry sky would be sufficient I think. Studio test with LED point light could be used (like Lenstip) but I'm not sure how to set that up. Besides astrophotography interest, coma performance would give others an idea of how a lens could be used in night photography. I think this would round out all the technical aspects. Thank you.

DIGLLOYD: stars are miserably dim where I live and it's often foggy to boot. And even at 3500 meters / 11,000' elevation, the number of “good star nights” is about 1 in 20 (that is, bright enough to avoid motion blur by having a short enough exposure with an f/2.8 lens). Coma isn’t quite the right term, since off-center there are often a conglomeration of optical aberrations, so testing the point spread function is a better way to describe it. A revealing test of the point spread function in the Huge Barn Interior, Sunlit and Skylit series for the Sigma 24/1.4 Art. I am thinking of building a target to simulate that kind of situation but a bullet-hold barn works darn well, and I didn’t even have to make the holes.

Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH Initial Coverage and Comments

Pre-order Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M APSH

Published in Guide to Leica is my initial commentary on the MTF, vignetting and distortion characteristics of the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH.

I’ll be reviewing the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH just as soon as I can get my hands on one (also the new Leica M Monochrom and hopefully the two together initially).

At about $5500 its price is similar to the Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH. Leica bills it as “the perfect companion for reportage”. Roughly translated, that means it will be exceptional in certain ways (sure to be a hit with its disciples for a unique rendering style).

The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. rounds off the range of high-speed M wide angle focal lengths. It offers excellent image performance over the entire image field even at full aperture and in the close-up range thanks to a “floating element”.

With its exceptional contrast, the lens delivers the same recognized high performance level as the Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH., and in some respects actually outperforms it.

The vignetting that is typical of every optical system is naturally more defined on a wide angle lens, particularly a high speed one like this, than on standard lenses or those with a long focal length. At full aperture in 35mm format it is a maximum, i.e. in the corners of the image, of around 3.4 stops, around 2 stops on Leica M8 models with their slightly smaller format. Stopping down to 5.6 visibly reduces this light falloff – to 1.8 and 0.8 stops respectively. Stopping down further does not bring about any notable reduction as essentially only the natural vignetting remains.

Distortion is extremely low for a wide angle lens at a maximum of 1.1% (pulvinate), which is rarely noticeable in practice.

A total of ten lens elements are used to achieve this exceptional performance. To correct color defects, seven of these are made of glass types with anomalous color dispersion (partial dispersion), while one has an aspherical surface.

To maintain performance in the close-up range, one element towards the rear of the optical system is a “floating element” that moves independently of the rest of the mechanism.

Summary: The Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH. offers maximum image performance with a focal length / speed combination previously unavailable in the M system. This extends the composition options of M photography, particularly for available light shots, but also thanks to a previously unattainable reduction in the depth of field combined with large field angles.

MTF

Leica has published gross inconsistencies and omitted f/1.4 in the data sheet MTF. The MTF there is in extreme conflict with the MTF charts found in the instruction manual PDF.

I am assuming that the MTF in the instruction manual is correct, and I have rewritten my initial commentary accordingly.

Leica data sheet for 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH in apparent gross error (and missing f/1.4)

Specifications

Technical Data for Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
Focal length: 28mm
Aperture scale: f/1.4 - f/16
Number of elements/groups: 10 elements in 7 groups
floating group, one aspherical, 7 with anomalous partial dispersion
Focusing range: 700 cm
Angular field, diagonal / horizontal / vertical 75° / 65° / 46°
Coverage at close range: 526 mm x 789 mm (M8: 395 mm x 592 mm)
Image ratio at close range:            1:21.9
Filter thread: 49mm
Weight, nominal: 440g
Dimensions: length approx. 81 mm, diameter approx 61mm
Includes: TBD
Price: about $5500
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Leica S with the 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH @ 30mm: Aperture Series 'Pescadero Creek, Downstream'

Get Leica 30-90mm at B&H Photo.

The 30-90mm is a lens I hear about from some Leica S shooters as one that works great as an all-arounder and is good for travel, being about the same size as its fixed focal length siblings.

This example confirms the main weakness with the 30-90mm (seen also in the Rushing Water series and Mossy Boulders in Pescadero Creek series), and ought to be instructive to every prospective user of the Leica 30-90mm.

Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH @ 30mm @ 30mm: Pescadero Creek Downstream View

Includes images up to 24 megapixels and large crops across the f/3.5 - f/16 aperture range.

Pescadero Creek, Downstream
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Leica S with the 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH @ 30mm: Aperture Series 'Rushing Water'

Get Leica 30-90mm at B&H Photo.

The 30-90mm is a lens I hear about from some Leica S shooters as one that works great as an all-arounder and is good for travel, being about the same size as its fixed focal length siblings.

The CCD sensor in the Leica S is lovely, but this example shows the main weakness with the 30-90mm and ought to be instructive to every prospective user of the Leica 30-90mm. For myself, I’d find a kit consisting of the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH and the 30mm and 45mm and 100mm primes more satisfying—now that I’ve evaluated the 30-90mm in more detail. But 4 primes is a heavy load, and so the 30-90mm has its place.

Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH @ 30mm @ 30mm: Rushing Water

Includes images up to 24 megapixels and large crops across the f/3.5 - f/16 aperture range.

The Leica S CCD sensor is something special. I’m interested in doing more work on the S system. If an S showed up on loan for 3-5 months that would certainly help as I could interleave coverage with my other work.

Rushing Water __METADATA__

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Plants Eking Out Light Inside Barn (M240)

Order: Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

There is a special visual quality to this image at all apertures resulting from the superb optical peformance of the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon. It is best enjoyed on a 4K display or iMac 5K, though the feel is apparent on a high quality conventional display.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Aperture Series: Plants Eking Out Light Inside Barn (M240)

With HD and UltraHD images to full 24-megapixel resolution of the M240.

In my studied view in field use, the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is the best lens available for shooting on the Leica M240—and yes I do own the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH. I much prefer its ergonomics and its image quality over the Leica 35/1.4 Summilux, and at about $2290, the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is a steal by comparison (ZM 35/1.4 lens hood is extra).

 
Plants Eking Out Light Inside Barn
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Does the Nikon D810 Have a Problem in Sub-Freezing Temperatures? Or is it the card or something else?

UPDATE: see Finder preview shot and my thoughts that follow it.

Also, I’ve seen file corruption issues myself in other Nikon bodies with SanDisk cards; see 2011: SanDisk Extreme Pro Card Failures and 2012: SanDisk Card Errors in D800E. As far as I could tell, these had nothing to do with temperature.

   
Corrupted Images from Nikon D810

Salim M writes:

I meant to email about this earlier, but your current user feedback post provided a good context. In your email you suggested users to pack D810 for Antarctica, Iceland, etc.

Actually, I would recommend the D800 or D800e instead. I have had problems with image corruption on D810 when temperature is dropping to -10° C /14° F or colder. I noticed the problem when I upgraded to D810 and took my new camera back to a trip to Minsk Belarus. At first I assumed it was a problem with a card. But then I tried different cards.

The real objective result was when shooting with my old D800E side-by-side with the new D810 in the Canadian Rockies last Christmas. In a cold day 20-30% of images were getting corrupted on the D810 where as there were no issues on my old D800e. This was not a single day occurrence or limited to just one type of card.

Upon meeting another group of photographers in that trip, I also heard similar anecdotal stories. Point is, for real cold weather (though costal Iceland rarely gets that cold) the old D800e might perform better than the newer D810.

 

DIGLOYD: that’s troubling news, Salim confirms use of Nikon batteries and Sony and Lexar cards.

Salim sent me a raw file and I confirmed the corruption with the file by opening it with a variety of raw converters.

Interesting that only RawDigger reports an error, with both Nikon Capture NX-D and Adobe Camera Raw just blithely forging on and reporting no error at all (poor engineering).

 
Corrupted Image from Nikon D810 (f/0 indicates non-cpu lens)
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Image preview in Finder

This preview is embedded in the raw file by the camera. Hence it obviously read good data from the sensor to begin, and produced a perfectly normal image for the embedded JPEG preview.

The foregroing suggests that there is no issue with the sensor, and that the issue occurs in the processing pipeline or in a compatibility issue with the card, or a problem with the card itself.

I deem the most likely theory a card problem, and possibly a counterfeit card issue, since I once experienced such image corruption issues myself with a counterfeit.

 
Corrupted Image preview looks fine in the Finder

Maynard S writes:

After reading about the D810 cold weather corruption problems, I was reminded of the problems a friend of mine had with his D800e. It seems that when he looked at the photos on the back of his camera, everything looked fine, no corruption problems. When he tried to import them to Phase One , many of the photos were shown as corrupted.

The problem turned out to be that he was not formatting the cards in the camera. He formatted in the computer only & residue from earlier shots were imbedded in cards. As soon as he formatted in his D800e, all problems with corruption went away.
Could these people using the D810’s be formatting in their computers? Just a thought.

DIGLLOYD: the problem is strange enough that all angles have to be considered, and it is a good idea to format cards in the camera.

I always use high capacity cards that I format once every several weeks (in the camera), using the high capacity as a tertiary backup over that time span (rather than wiping out past shoots). See Downloading and Backing Up Images In The Field.

I particularly like 64GB or higher capacity fast cards because out in the field it means I can generally leave files on the card as backups even after downloading*.

Salim M replies:

This is not my case. I format in camera, anyways. Basically I had the same experience in Minsk Belarus. I took numerous photos on the card (BTW, in regards to your prior thoughts: I transferred the photos later after arriving back to US in the warmth of my house) to noticed the photos taken were corrupted. At first my assumption was there was an issue with the card. But then I noticed the same issues in Canadian Rockies. The camera is fine to -5 maybe -10 but if I stand in the cold for too long or it gets to -20 the number this is when I start seeing corrupt images and % of corrupt images increase as well.

I finally wised up and started using a hand-warmer I put one on the camera and one in my bag to put the camera back and warm it up and then shoot again and if I did that, the images had close to 100% corruption free rates. So, I'm pretty convinced it has to do with environmental factors.

The small thumbnail (preview image) that is usually embedded in the files (which is the first thing adobe bridge shows before actually reading the full raw file) looked fine at first. But after bridge has had time to analyze the actual image then you see what seem liked a good image turn to the corrupted thumbnails (the thumbnail screenshots I sent earlier). Based on that, I'm wondering if it has something to do with the circuitry that writes the files since the thumbnail preview images seemed okay at first.

The question I need to answer is if I should send the D810 for repair before the expiration of the its warranty. I haven't done it, since Nikon's operating temperature range higher than the temperature I was using the camera in.

DIGLLOYD: If adding warmth fixes th issue, this does nort necessarily implicate the camera itself. I’d like to see the issue happen with another brand that has been rock solid for me (Toshiba Exceria Pro 1066X 64GB), and known not counterfeit.

But if operation was below that specified by Nikon, maybe there really is a camera body problem.

Bridge will use its rendered version after first showing the embedded preview, so no mystery there.

Colin H writes:

Interesting piece on Salim M and the unfortunate file corruption issues. It seems this is most likely a camera or CF card created issue that is driven by weather conditions, especially given the antidotal information from others he was with on the trip. Other photographers who work with the D810 routinely in cold weather may be able to shed more light on the topic.

I’d encourage him to send the camera in immediately and get the issue on the record with Nikon.

Although far less likely, if he is using the same set of equipment to ingest the images once he returns home, checking his card readers and cables may be in order. I have had images be corrupt after ingest and assumed they were ruined on the card by the camera only to later learn that the card reader or cable used to ingest the images was bad. If he still has the images on the card it may be worth trying to ingest them with a different card reader or even an entirely different card reader and computer to see if any different results occur.

I realize this is a long shot given the additional information we have, but hardware does fail, too.

DIGLLOYD: Some stage of the process or some part is failing. I suspect the storage card myself, not the camera per se, since it generates a proper low-res JPEG. Salim indicates that he did try downloading again in warmer conditions.

Richard S writes:

Photographers who use photo equipment under cold conditions should be aware that there are very specific protocols to follow to avoid malfunctioning equipment. When camera equipment (or any other precision equipment) is moved between freezing temperatures and room temperatures, condensation will form in the camera and this can be very damaging to both mechanical and electronic assemblies, especially if the equipment is subsequently exposed to sub-freezing temperatures. It is generally not the fault of the manufacturer nor is it the result of poor testing.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t think anyone has made the claim of fault as yet. It is an issue being observed, and that is the point of the discussion, and the condensation issues is certainly a very important area to consider as a possible culprit. And if the D800E does not fail and the D810 does, one must first ask whether they were handled differently, or wether the model might matter.

Jef M writes:

One of the issues one has to watch closely in Texas is the dew point because it can be higher than the temperature in most air conditioned homes. To acclimate the camera and lenses I place my equipment in a Seal Line clear Dry Bag then move to a moderate temperature area where the temp is higher than the dew point. Once the equipment is warmer than the dew point it's safe to take out of the bag and use.

DIGLLOYD: always a good idea to pay attention to humidity, including fungus in humid climes.

Raul J writes:

I saw your article about the Nikon D810 issues in sub-freezing temperatures and I thought I should tell you about a similar experience I had. My experience was not in sub-freezing temperatures but on a normal summer day. I experienced the same problem a year ago with my then one week old Nikon D810. It was not a super hot day and I did not leave the camera exposed to any extreme conditions. I contacted Nikon's tech support upon my return to the U.S. and they just said to replace my storage card. I have continued to use the same memory card without issues for almost a year so I have no idea what caused it and I am pretty sure Nikon did not know either. Some of the distorted images were quite beautiful. A creative glitch...

DIGLLOYD: maybe just a bug or compatibility issue triggered by unknown factors. Or a batch of cameras with one faulty component.

Roy P writes:

I just read the comments from one of your readers about his Sony A7x system not performing in near-zero temperature, and also the subsequent poor service from. Being a user of both the Sony A7x system and Nikon D810, I have some counterpoints I’d like to share.

There is something profound your reader’s negative experience with the Sony is masking, and that is, the problem existed at all in the first place. Such a complaint would never have arisen with respect to a Leica M240 camera, for instance. Why? Most people would not even have considered bringing a $15K M system to tough it out in sub-zero temperatures. The aristocratic M system exists to be served by its fan boys, not the other way around!

My point is, the Sony E-mount system started as the modern day Leica M system – compact, lightweight and highly portable alternative to bulky and heavy DSLRs. What has happened is, within a very short few years, the Sony system has far exceeded its intended use, and is rapidly becoming a platform for various other use cases. People are pushing the Sony A7x cameras for demanding tasks as a pro-class tool, for everything except action photography like pro sports or wild life.

To me, that seems like enormous and unprecedented success of the mirrorless E-mount system. People are taking these cameras to use cases that Sony had probably never imagined, so a lot of this is cutting edge. Sony doesn’t necessarily have the answers for some of the problems thus encountered. Which is why calling the service center is not likely to be very helpful.

We just need to remind ourselves that as impressive as the A7x system is, it is still a first generation product from Sony, and it may not surpass a 7th or 8th generation DSLR from Nikon on every dimension! I think the A7x is on a fundamentally superior technology roadmap, and each new generation will continue to leapfrog the aging DSLR which is in the early stages of getting caught in a decaying orbit, IMHO.

Also, as you know, I just got back from a trip to the Antarctica. On this trip, I brought my A7R, A7-II, and the Sony-Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, 24-70mm f/4 and the 70-200mm f/4 lenses, along with a Leica 50mm APO Summicron-M. Every one of them functioned flawlessly. I took over 4,000 pictures in all. About 650 of them were with my Leica S, and the remaining ~3,400 were with the two Sony cameras. Not a single problem, with either of the Sony bodies or any of the lenses. In fact, a couple of times, my S-006 camera had trouble autofocusing, after being out in the cold for 2+ hours. No issues with the Sony.

I wouldn’t have believed it, but on this trip, my Nikon D810 became the odd man out, and I left it behind. There were some situations (flying birds, fast moving whales) when I wished I had my D810. But for the most part, I did not miss it, and it is tough for me to say that, because I’ve been a Nikon user for 20+ years, and I really like my D810.

Net-net: I think we’re in the early stages of the most profound change in photography since turning digital. Some of these frustrations with Sony are related to the growing pains, I think. In time, I think we’ll see the A7x system expand to more configurations and form factors that will provide more optimal solutions to different use cases. Until then, I think Sony deserves some slack – there’s more stuff coming out of Sony in months than there’s stuff coming out of Nikon / Canon / Leica in years!

DIGLLOYD: Good perspective!

Regarding the M240, it has had its share of issues (and I have shot it in sub freezing temps without issues too), but Leica does service their cameras and lenses, even if they do have to often to Germany. That is a “profound” difference with not having any meaningful service organization (Sony), or any at all (cameras/lenses get sent to a generic 3rd party).

It is true that the Sony E-mount system has been very well received, indeed groundbreaking. Ditto for the iPhone. Compare the service and support of the two.

I don’t agree that the camera generation is the issue; Sony has already done fine here technically. Rather, it’s an entire corporarate culture that does not see service and support as a priority. On the Cool New Sutff I said “grand prize at the science fair”: aggressive innovation moving the bar forward. But a wobbly “table” missing a leg (service and support).

 

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Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Rusty Barn (M240)

Order: Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

A “wall test” is a very demanding test indeed, because any lens with field curvature will have a difficult time making a sharp image at f/1.4. But the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon sets a very high bar that no Leica M lens can match. So it is best to show just what it can do.

Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Aperture Series: Rusty Barn (M240)

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

I’m looking forward to seeing the ZM 35/1.4 Distagon and the Leica 50/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH perform on the new Leica M Monochrom Typ 246.

 
Rusty Barn
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Bicycling: the Right Bike Fit Adds Power, and Improves Comfort

I wanted to share some out-of-band info that may be of help to some, because I’ve found it valuable. For me at least, staying physically fit is the only way I can survive my 80 hour work weeks.

From my discussion of the Central Coast Double Century

I am grateful to Kevin Bailey at 3DBikeFit.com for his attention to details of my bike setup. A meticulous master of his craft, all aspects of my bike fit with Kevin resulted in maximum comfort, or properly speaking minimum discomfort, since 211 miles is a very long ride.

The afternoon prior, my right wrist went bonkers due to continuing issues with nerve damage and I had no ability to articulate/twist it without severe pain. I considered skipping the ride entirely. But because Kevin set my bar position and reach for three hand positions all keeping the body in the same optimal position (hoods, drops, bar top) and all keeping the wrist in optimal straight/unbent position, I had zero pain in my wrist/hand—non issue.

That and the other aspects of reach, saddle height, custom orthotic were all spot-on. Pretty amazing to have it all work so well. If the fit is right, the body can handle things, but if the slightest thing is off, 211 miles can be punishing by overloading some joint or muscle.

3DBikeFit.com

Sony FE 28mm f/2: Assessing Focus Shift and Color Correction and Sharpness at Close Range (Dolls, Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 28mm f/2

Get Sony FE 28mm f/2 at B&H Photo.

Close range can be a challenge for some lens designs, so it’s nice to check out a lens there and see how it does first. This series assesses the Sony FE 28mm f/24 Distagon over the f/2 - f/16 aperture range at a image plane to subject distance of 18 inches / 46 cm.

In Guide to Mirrorless:

Sony FE 28mm f/2 Aperture Series: Assessing Focus Shift and Color Correction and Sharpness at Close Range (Dolls, A7R)

Shot on the 36-megapixel Sony A7R, presented with HD and UltraHD images up to 24 megapixels, along with crops, over the f/2, ..., f/16 aperture range.

Dolls Posing Patiently
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Shootout: Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M vs Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH (Pescadero Creek Grass and Moss)

Get Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M and Leica 90mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-M aspherical at B&H

In Guide to Leica, this comparison complements the Green Lichen Barn effort. Together, they both address the same practical question: in what ways is it worth spending for the half-stop faster APO 90mm?

Shootout: 90/2.4 Summarit vs 90/2 APO-Summicron: Pescadero Creek Grass and Moss (M240)

The Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH was used, which is optically identical to the Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH. The R version has the advantage of being directly usable on Leica M or Canon with a lens adapter, or convertible to Nikon mount, and I prefer its ergonomics over the M version.

  
Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M and Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH
Grass and Green Moss
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Zeiss Batis for Sony
diglloyd Zeiss Batis review

Reader Experience and Concerns: Sony Service and Reliability

Paul I writes:

With all of the interest in the Sony A7 series, and the expected arrival of even higher resolution full frame bodies, a recent experience has raised serious concerns about continuing with the Sony system. I’m writing you because of your excellent work on discovering and calling attention to the shutter vibration problem in the A7r.

I recently was in Iceland, where the temperatures were close to 32° F (0 ° C). I had purchased a Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens, which I thoroughly tested before the trip. The lens immediately and consistently exhibited the following behavior when used outdoors, where it was always used in the manual focus mode: After a few minutes of use, when attempting to focus I would hear a “clunk” and the lens would go out of focus. At times it would make a high-pitch whining noise. Once this happened it was impossible to focus until the power was turned off and back on, at which time it would work for a minute or two before doing the same thing. This was not an intermittent problem, but happened every day during 10 days of use.

When returning I called Sony, and was informed that Sony no longer had their own warranty service. The only option was to send the lens to Precision Camera in Enfield, CT. Precision’s web site shows that they service multiple brands. The lens was sent to them with a clear explanation that the lens only malfunctioned at temperatures around 32° F. The lens was returned with a note “Checks out OK.” They stated they cleaned it. I called and asked if it was tested at 32° F, since it always has worked normally at room temperatures and consistently failed when cold. The person answering the phone had no idea. Furthermore, she refused to transfer me to a technician, supervisor, or anyone with technical knowledge.

I then called Sony, who said I could send it back to Precision, but had no idea if they could test it at temperatures in which it failed. Furthermore Sony would not transfer me to any supervisor or anyone with any technical knowledge. Eventually the situation was settled after multiple calls to customer service by Sony taking back the lens and refunding the purchase price.

Based on my experience, I have to consider Sony bodies and lenses as disposable. How can we invest in a professional grade system if there is no company support? I welcome your thoughts.

DIGLLOYD: Only last week I heard another story like this firsthand from a friend (camera body failure), and if anything it was more shocking to the point of total ragged incompetence—the service from Sony is a bad joke clusterf*ck.

My purchases for Sony compatible E-mount will be the Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis lenses (maybe an exception for the Sony/Zeiss 35/1.4 Distagon ZA), since Zeiss supports and services those. Then the only “screw” you can get is on the Sony camera body itself, so you buy 2 or 3 and understand what you’re dealing with.

The way I see it, Sony is a gadget company that understands next to nothing about photography or what a pro or serious photographer needs (hardware and software and service/support); they do a fantastic job on sensors and putting cool parts together, but it ends there.

There, now I done it—Sony shooters with their ego melded into their camera can rage at me just as much as Fujifilm X shooters. :;

If I were traveling overseas and particularly to Iceland or Antarctica or Nepal or any relatively remote place, I’d be nervous as heck taking Sony gear. That is, unless I had 3 or 4 bodies and multiple lenses—lots of redundancy. Which defeats the small and light thing. And that even leaves aside the questionable build quality, particularly the toy lens mount not to mention weather sealing and the too-small form factor with tiny shitty buttons most of which are a female dog to operate in the cold and/or with gloves.

Rather, I’d take the trusty Nikon D810 (two bodies) along with Zeiss manual focus lenses (maybe not all MF lenses, but several key focals, because they have never failed me, and they have manual aperture rings even if the lens CPU chip should fail). I regularly shoot in below freezing temps in the mountains, including snowstorms, and never has Nikon or Zeiss failed me.

My comments above are NOT a conclusion based on anecdote; for that some statistics would be needed. At least one reader has already leaped to that idea, far beyond what I wrote, and missed the main point: that a camera system is a system including the camera itself, the lenses and (most important of all) service and support and usability under one’s shooting conditions (I cannot operate the Sony with gloves on without frustration, for example). Having shot many Nikon digital bodies outdoors since the D1 appeared, my confidence level in all aspects of operation, reliability, service/support is very high. Ditto for Zeiss. But it is not statistical.

Salim M writes:

I meant to email about this earlier, but your current user feedback post provided a good context. In your email you suggested users to pack D810 for Antarctica, Iceland, etc.

Actually, I would recommend the D800 or D800e instead. I have had problems with image corruption on D810 when temperature is dropping to 10 or more below Celsius. I noticed the problem when I upgraded to D810 and took my new camera back to a trip to Minsk Belarus. At first I assumed it was a problem with a card. But then I tried different cards.

The real objective result was when shooting with my old D800e side-by-side with the new D810 in the Canadian Rockies last Christmas. In a cold day 20-30% of images were getting corrupted on the D810 where as there were no issues on my old D800e. This was not a single day occurrence or limited to just one type of card.

Upon meeting another group of photographers in that trip, I also heard similar anecdotal stories. Point is, for real cold weather (though costal Iceland rarely gets that cold) the old D800e might perform better than the newer D810.

DIGLOYD: that’s troubling news, confirmed Nikon battery and Sony and Lexar cards. However, I’m waiting to see a raw file and see for myself, because the claimed corruption is a screen shot in Adobe Bridge, which could just as well be a bug in Bridge or the video card, etc. The term corruption means that the file structure is damaged, or there is damage to actual image data. A bad preview (particularly in Bridge) is not proof of any corruption, particularly when the camera itself shows no issue (as Salim M confirms).

Update: the D810 file is badly corrupted with massive color streaking (nothing odd about the exposure, ISO 100 at 1/400 sec). The only program that handles this correctly is RawDigger (it posts an error alert), but ACR and Nikon Capture NX-D must be faulted for not reporting any issue at all.

The coldest I have shot the D800E has been ~ 23°F, the coldest for the D810 ~ 28°F.

Roderick W writes:

Interesting your comment on Zeiss CPU failure possibility. I have had the CPU fail in two Zeiss 21 mm f2.8, both replaced free by Zeiss, and last week the CPU in my 55 mm Otus failed. I am debating whether to do without my everyday lens for 3 weeks or go on with it as a ‘Non CPU’ lens. Not a big deal on a Nikon 800E.

DIGLLOYD: I’ve had no CPU failures and I own most all the ZF.2 and ZE lenses. I wonder if the camera body is involved. With Nikon, the lens can still be used (aperture ring) even if the CPU fails (another reason to prefer Nikon). At least here in the USA, service is excellent and fast.

Ken C writes:

Anecdotes are all very well – not entirely worthless, that is – but, as ten minutes with a search engine will demonstrate, there are anecdotes about all makes of camera. Is there anything that could be called data about the failure rates of different brands? As a current Sony and Olympus user who has previously owned Canon and Fuji cameras, I have so far had marginally less trouble with the Sonys than any of the others (ie, none versus not much). This, of course, proves nothing whatsoever, I may be just lucky, but I don’t see that your post gives me much by way of reasons to think so, and if there are such reasons I would like to know them.

At this point I am not finding in my heart of hearts any inclination whatsoever to rage at you, only to express a certain mild puzzlement at the vehemence of your conclusions against the apparent paucity of your evidence. I also think you mix up two subjects – reliability of equipment and quality of after sales service.

While the latter – your main subject – is undoubtedly important to professionals, it is surely not much of a reason for taking several camera bodies to remote places. And out of 100 people taking two Sony bodies to Antarctica (your chosen number for Nikons), how many do you think would end up regretting not taking three or four – and what might the figure be for the person taking two Nikons? I mean that as a real question, against my working assumption that all makes, even Sony, are actually pretty reliable.

DIGLLOYD: The “mix up” is actually the only relevant issue and by intent: one shoots a system, which includes reliability and service and support. All camera gear can fail, hence redundancy is key. A NYC pro who takes one camera body to an expensive shoot won’t be a pro the next day. And when the gear does fail, how good is the support. The “mix up” is the point; I’m not Lens Rentals here—I worry about a camera failure in the field, which has happened exactly once for me with the Nikon D1x: shutter failure some years ago. Leica by contrast (M240) has shown me many lockup failures in the field (remove the battery and things recover at least).

All true about anecdotes. Statistics would be needed of course. But Ken has misread my intent—I am (primarily) making the main point about the total system, of which support is (for me), a key priority. Which in fact is the first sentence of my response to the first email—about the poor support and service. I follow on with my own experience with Nikon. It’s worth reading what I wrote for what I wrote and not inserting invalid assumptions, e.g., “nervous as heck” is not a statistical claim.

I’d lay odds that a dual camera Nikon shooter is likely to do better than a dual Sony. But I wait to hear from someone who has traveled to Antarctica and has much practical experience on the cold-weather subject, Kevin Raber of LuLa.

Roger Cicala of LensRentals.com writes:

DIGLLOYD: How do Nikon/Canon/Sony camera bodies and lenses fare on reliability/repair?

We haven't crunched those numbers anytime recently and it's a really big job that may not get done until the end of summer.

I don't think we see a significant difference in camera reliability. Lens reliability depends much more on type of lens than on brand. As you'd expect, a 70-200 f/2.8 image stabilized lens fails quite frequently. A non stabilized prime much less so, etc.

I don't know that we've had enough sample size to say Sony lenses fail more frequently with a huge comfort level of accuracy, but my gut says they do. I can say without hesitation, though, that Sony lenses are much more likely to be deemed "not financially feasible to repair" by factory service than the the other brands, but that probably has more to do with them having their repairs done at Precision Camera than anything else. Sony's are probably have more significant sample variation than the other brands too.

Not much help I'm afraid, but it will probably be months before we have specifics.

Only Sony and a few m4/3 lenses use the electromagnetic focusing system. I don't know if that might contribute to a low temperature failure like was described, but it's certainly worth investigating.

As an aside, we've now had 8 Sony lenses sent in to Precision for failure to focus, all sent back as financially not feasible to repair. All were repaired by us by simply regluing the components in the electromagnetic AF slider back together. It's not a simple repair in that it takes an experienced tech 45 minutes or so to disassemble and and another 30 to reassemble, but certainly not "financially not feasible".

DIGLLOYD: Most likely, few users shoot cameras in sub-freezing temperatures, so that question is tougher to address.

Milton M writes:

I had a very similar experience with a Precision Camera repair of my Sony a7R. I had the misfortune of having the USB connection to the camera go intermittent in the middle of a firmware update. This bricked the camera -- totally dead and unresponsive. Sony said the only alternative was to send the camera to Precision Camera for repair. I specifically asked Precision Camera to check out the USB connector on the camera and the USB cable (which I included with the camera). $400 later, I got my camera back with the firmware re-loaded. The included Explanation of Repairs made no mention of any testing or repair of the USB connector or cable. I called Precision Camera to ask about the USB connection, and after about 1 minute of ringing, Gail answered. She told me that the USB connector had "probably" been replaced. I told her that for $400 I wanted to be CERTAIN that the USB problem had been corrected, and asked to talk to the repair technician. Gail told me that the technicians were in another building and that it was not possible to transfer me. I then offered to wait on the line while she contacted the repair technician, and she said she could not do that either. She said she would check with the technicians and call me back in 2 days. She didn't call back. Pretty dismal customer service IMHO. I called Precision Camera back the next week. This time (after another minute of phone ringing) I talked to Charlene who was much more helpful. When I asked about the USB connector, she put me on hold to check. (I can only assume she checked with a repair technician!). A few moments later, she told me it had been replaced.

The larger question here is: why did the USB connector on a Sony a7R camera that was only 1 year old fail, especially since I rarely ever use that connector? I had updated firmware through that connector a couple of times, but I mostly use an external charger to recharge the battery, so the USB connector was certainly not overused for charging. I'm wondering if others are having problems with Sony's USB connectors. It' enough to drive a person to film!

DIGLLOYD: Ummm... why should someone buying a $2000 camera have to send it to a 3rd-party vendor for any level of service? See my comments above about Sony being a gadget company—Sony doesn’t get it. At the least, there could be some kind of +10% of price warranty offering that would result in a camera exchange or some such thing.

Why does Sony shit the bed for its products? A product is the harware + the software + service and support, ergo Sony doesn’t sell products, but science-fair projects (grand prize in that regard). The software is crap and there is no service and support. To this day I have not flushed my money down the Sony camera body toilet, if only from seeing the massive devaluation of Sony gear in a matter of months. But my Nikon D810 will hold residual value of significance for quite some time. Still, soon I’ll be forced to buy some kind of Sony camera body to offer the lens coverage I need to do.

Jorge Torralba writes:

We must be thinking in parallel.

http://jorgetorralba.com/2015/05/16/sony-still-needs-to-mature/

By the way, I need to update my rant. Sony is refunding my the purchase price since they did not have any in the warehouse to replace it with.

DIGLLOYD: I did like the A7 II (reliability concerns aside), but I’d put Sony purchases on hold pending a new “crop” of cameras.

Kevin Raber of Luminous-Landscape.com writes:

I have been to Antarctica 12 times and I have never had a camera failure. I have seen my share of others but I have not experienced anything related to weather. I had a screw come out of a Canon 5D MArk II and lock the mirror. Luckily I had s pares with me. In my travels to both polar regions and very cold weather elsewhere I have been fortunate to experience no problems. Batteries die a lot quicker but I am prepared for that by having numerous spares and in real cold weather batteries are kept on an inside parka jacket pocket with a heat pack. Many times batteries that does come back to life after warming up. Most failures I have seen can be related to moisture or condensation. Good practices regarding moving gear in and out of cool (cold)places to warm more humid places should be followed. I have seen this failure type in warn humid weather going into air conditioning as well as cold outside weather moving into warm indoors.

I shoot with just about every camera there is. I own Nikon D800e’s, Sony A7 II, Olympus OMD and Fuji X-T1. Plus an arsenal of lenses for each system. I have taken all of these systems to harsh environments and they have all performed without issue. So, I must a lucky one. My experience with service when needed has been OK. Fuji so far has been the best when something has to be sent in it comes back quickly.

In 2013 and 2014 I shot in Antarctica with the Nikon systems doing two trips to Antarctica and one to the Northern polar circle. I came back with superb images and no issues at all during the trip. This past February I took the Fuji X-T1 and the Sony A7 II to Antarctica and both performed great no failures at all. I have also taken the Phase One systems (DF+ and IQ180 back) to Antarctica and other cold enviroments and that system worked well except for very fast battery drain.

DIGLLOYD: lucky indeed!

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

$200 off the True 4K LG 31MU97

The LG 31MU97 is now $200 off at B&H Photo, making it $1175.

See my review of the LG 31MU97 4K Display.

The late-2014 LG 31MU97-B 31-inch 4K display offers an attractive price, size, and form factor for a true 4K display (4096 X 2160). To use the 31MU97, a computer capable of driving a 4K display is needed. For Macs as of late 2014, that means the 2013 Mac Pro, 2014 iMac 5K or 2013/2014 MacBook Pro.

With a 4096 X 2160 resolution, I liked this display a lot. Image quality is gorgeous, particularly at a 2:1 eye-friendly display scaling of 2048 X 1080. The panel coating reminds of the NEC EA244UHD and has a very smooth but not shiny finish which makes the high resolution seem even more crisp. I prefer it to the iMac 5K display, because the iMac 5K has a mirror-like sheen.

See what screen shots using the LG 31MU97 look like in Photoshop.

LG 31MU97 4K Display showing an image at full resolution in Photoshop

Shootout: Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M vs Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH (Green Lichen Barn Exterior)

Get Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M and Leica 90mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-M aspherical at B&H

In Guide to Leica, this comparison answers a practical question: in what ways is it worth spending for the slightly faster APO 90mm?

Shootout: 90/2.4 Summarit vs 90/2 APO-Summicron: Green Lichen Barn Exterior (M240)

The question is answered unequivocally.

The Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH was used, which is optically identical to the Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH. The R version has the advantage of being directly usable on Leica M or Canon with a lens adapter, or convertible to Nikon mount, and I prefer its ergonomics over the M version.

  
Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M and Leica 90mm f/2 APO-Summicron-R ASPH
Lichen-Encrusted Ranch Barn
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Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Flare Series: Barn Interior, Angle of Light

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Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

The Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at about $2068 (12% instant savings and 2% reward as this was written) is a solid performer well worth looking at for the M shooter.

But the Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M does have one weakness (as with most Leica M lenses): veiling flare issues, even from things as common as an overcast sky.

In Guide to Leica, this eight-frame series shows how veiling flare develops or is minimized by small changes in angle to a light source, and how including the light source shows much less flare than having the source just out of the frame.

Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Flare Series: Barn Interior (M240)

The series is typical of most Leica M lenses as well as other brands, so it has general value in understanding how flare flares up.

Flare from non-image-forming light
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James K writes:

The Leica tele lenses and even some 50mm lenses have always had flare issues. As you have illustrated it does not take too much to create a significant amount of flare. Sharp shooters in a small package. A long lens hood with the front masked exclude as much unwanted light as possible is the way to go with Leitz optics. Nikon has always had good flare control.

DIGLLOYD: The advice to mask off the front of the hood is good.

As for Nikon, flare control can be excellent, or it can be deeply troubled by the same issue as shown above.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Collapsed Ranch House at Sunset

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, this aperture series is a tour de force for the Sigma 24/1.4. It is doubtful that any 24mm DSLR lens could do as well.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Collapsed Ranch House at Sunset (Nikon D810)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide), along with large crops from ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/16.

It’s pretty simple: any Nikon or Canon or Sony A or Sigma SA shooter should get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. Fast excellence with autofocus. It’s a no-brainer really, and with B&H 4% rewards and free expedited shipping on top of the ridiculously low price (compared to the inferior and hugely overpriced Canon and Nikon offerings), it’s frosting on the cake.

Collapsed Ranch House at Sunset
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Late May / Early June and Late June Photo Tours in Yosemite High Country and/or White Mountains

These are personalized tours intended to cater specifically to participant interests (limited to three participants, but 1:1 is an option). We shoot in peace and quiet, and enjoy the best of the area. And while I have a specific itinerary in mind, our schedule is flexible, so lucky weather conditions can be utilized as they arise. See the photo tours page for general info.

For Yosemite area, there are various lodging options, but the best possible place to stay is Tioga Pass Resort*, which is located dead center of where we want to be, and allows for a mid-day break if desired, and of course a hot shower and a place to process images, etc. Regular roads on this trip accessible by any car. I can advise on clothing, gear, food etc.

May 25/26/27/28 options, or June 1/2/3
(2 or 3 or 4 days negotiable within those time frames)

This tour will cover Yosemite high country and nearby areas, the best and favorite places I’ve found, at a stunningly beautiful time of year. June 1/2/3 offers the option of Yosemite or White Mountains (or both). Can be extended to June 4/5 if longer is desired.

(up to) 4-day photo tour: June 22, 23, 24, 25
(2 or 3 days negotiable, but itinerary planned for full range of sites)

This tour will cover Yosemite high country and nearby areas, the best and favorite places I’ve found, at a stunningly beautiful time of year. There should be lots of water flowing in late Many, and no mosquitos.

Contact

Act now and reserve your place in this photo tour. Cost is $800 per day (you are responsible for your lodging, transportation, food).

Contact Lloyd.

* TPR books out for the season very quickly, so act quickly if you want to stay there (but contact me first for advice on cabins). There are other lodging options in the area (including camping), but the non-camping options involve at least a 40-minute round trip, which makes your day longer than need be. I also advise arriving one day early in order to acclimate to altitude of 10,000'.

Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Spring Growth, Yosemite
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Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Flooded Tuolumne Meadows
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Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Upper Tenaya Creek
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FastRawViewer Updated to version 1.1.1

Going through a lot of image files after a shoot? FastRawViewer might be the answer.

See RawDigger now has a Workflow Complement: Fast Raw Viewer + Discount on RawDigger for Readers for more details.

Alex Tutubalin writes:

You (or your readers) may be interested in new 'major' release of FastRawViewer: version 1.1.x (currently 1.1.1)

It adds features that most requested by users of FRV 1.0:
- Folders panel (like in Adobe Bridge and many other programs)
- Filmstrip/Thumbnails panel
- Removable media change monitoring and opening 'freshest folder in \DCIM' on new media arrival (this is configurable).
- Custom background tone.

So, look and feel and navigation is now very common to other image viewers: http://www.fastrawviewer.com/sites/fastrawviewer.com/files/title-web_6.jpg

All panels can be moved outside of main program window, e.g. on secondary monitor: http://www.fastrawviewer.com/sites/fastrawviewer.com/files/mainwindow%2Bwindows-web_0.jpg

There are some other improvements and several bugfixes in 1.1x family: http://www.fastrawviewer.com/download#changelog

This is free upgrade for registered users of FRV 1.0 (so major version number not incremented).

For other users, who tried FRV 1.0 and was not impressed, this is 'relaunch':
- trial period is reset, one may try for additional 30 days
- another sale price, 25% off till June 15.

Also, we offer RawDigger + FRV bundles now (http://www.fastrawviewer.com/purchase at bottom of page, http://www.rawdigger.com/purchase middle of page)

Click for larger image.

Our trusted photo rental store

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Huge Barn Interior, Sunlit and Skylit

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, this follow-on aperture series confirms the one just prior with absolute certainty of the behaviors by placing the focus appropriately so that everything can be told without any hesitation.

It is also a practical series in showing just what one must account for for obtaining peak results, e.g., where to focus and how much stopping down to expect. In short, essential reading for the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art user.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Huge Barn Interior Sunlit and Skylit (Nikon D810)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide), along with large crops from ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/9.

Interior of Huge Barn, Sunset and Skylight
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Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Huge Barn Interior

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, this aperture series uses an exceptionally demanding subject to show the limits of the Sigma 24/1.4A.

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Huge Barn Interior (Nikon D810)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide), along with large crops from ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/9.

It‘s a very fine performance, but clearly there is plenty of room for a Zeiss Otus in this focal length range. Still, the performance is likely unequalled by the Canon and Nikon f/1.4 offerings, so the price of $849 for the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is amazing (also, as this was written, there is a 4% reward and free expedited shipping, pretty much no-brainer for anyone looking for a first class autofocus 24mm).

Interior of Huge Barn
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20TB for Photography or Video Storage

Every photographer needs storage. B&H has 5TB drives at an outrageously low price of $140; see How to save about $310 on a 20TB OWC Thunderbay 4.

My main storage is 20TB as four 5TB drives, though I have five (5) OWC Thunderbay 4 units for various purposes.

The OWC Thunderbay 4 with four 5TB drives can yield 20TB total as single volumes or RAID-0 striping, or 15TB in RAID-4 or RAID-5 mode (fault tolerance).

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR: Aperture Series 'Oak Tree at Dusk'

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

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Following the Looped Oil Pipes aperture series at closer distance and the Oil Field Cogeneration Plant series at far distance, this series evaluates the Nikon 300mm f/4E PF at medium distance.

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR Aperture Series: Oak Tree at Dusk

Series includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and large crops, from f/4 - f/11.

It’s not easy to shoot a scene like this with a 300mm lens! Even the curvature of the tree trunk raises the issue of where to focus, let alone the near-to-far spread of the branches. Depth of field is not found in abundance, even at f/11.

California Live Oak at dusk
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ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

OS X Photos App Corrupts Library if used with Leica M Monochrom Files

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I feel spot on my Apple Core Rot position.

See The Best Way to use Apple’s Photos App.

Leica M Monochrom Typ246 DNG files are currently incompatible with Apple’s ‘Photos’ App in Mac OS X Yosemite causing the library to crash and potentially lose all existing image files in the Apple Photos library.

This is pathetic... corrupting an entire library from a program crash? It indicates programming incompetence along with very poor quality assurance procedures. Data corruption is inexcusable and there are many ways of defensively coding (I was a professional software engineer for 25 years and I know a little about the matter). Sadly, more and more bugs and increasingly blatant ones emerge with each Apple OS X release, sprouting like mushrooms after a rain.

NEC PA302W Superb for Photographers
Still my #1 choice for my photography: wide gamut, true calibration, friendly pixel density.

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR: Aperture Series 'Oil Field Cogeneration Plant'

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

Get Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR at B&H Photo.

Following the Looped Oil Pipes aperture series, this series is doubly instructive: it shows both lens performance and the severe image degradation that accrues from atmospheric effects (perhaps the best example I’ve ever recorded!). Hence it is both evaluative of the Nikon 300/4E PF, and yet instructive for any long lens shooter.

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR: Aperture Series 'Oil Field Cogeneration Plant'

The series and analysis includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and large crops, from f/4 - f/16.

Cogeneration Plant
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Get Vimeo Pro effectively at $150 / 75% off

B&H Photo is running a promotion with Vimeo.com: subscribe to Vimeo Pro ($200) and get a $150 B&H Photo gift certificate, making the price effectively $50.

I did it myself (I has some material at Vimeo anyway), and it’s the real deal: gift card code delivered immediately.

Suggestion: get that code, click any B&H ad on this site, and use the gift card!

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR: Aperture Series 'Looped Oil Pipes'

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

Get Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR at B&H Photo.

In my first look at the new Nikon 300mm f/4E PF VR ED, this aperture series yields insights into sharpness, bokeh, color aberration control at relatively close range, where atmospheric effects do not intrude on sharpness.

Nikon 300mm f/4E PF VR ED Aperture Series: Looped Oil Pipes (Nikon D810)

The series and analysis includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels and large crops, from f/4 - f/11.

My guess is that these carry gasses produced as part of the oil extraction process, since the pipes do not look robust enough to carry a liquid like oil.

Looped Oil Pipes
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Perspective, Telephoto Compression

Get Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR at B&H Photo.

With the Nikon 300mm f/4E PF on the agenda, telephoto compression and geometric perspective are relevant topics.

Reader Sohail K writes:

I wonder if you could clear up an issue about lens “perspective" on a cropped sensor. Take for instance a 17.5mm lens on a MFT sensor: as you know it’s often said to be the equivalent of a 35mm (on a full-frame sensor) and have a 35mm perspective. Some argue that such a lens can only ever have 17.5mm perspective -- even on a cropped sensor. What exactly is the truth here?

More practically, can these differences in perspective be discerned by a trained eye? i.e. between a true 35mm perspective (on full-frame sensor) and a 17.5mm on a MFT?

What about the question of compression? That is, an image can have the same field of view but a different degree of compression, hence a different perspective, no? Or am I missing something here?

DIGLLOYD: Perspective and “telephoto compression” are both a function of camera to subject distance (only). Neither has anything to do with the focal length or format size (35mm full frame or DX or MFT or medium format): at the same distance (lens entrance pupil to subject), one chooses the appropriate focal length for the format to achieve the same field of view, which thus has identical perspective.

To see that this is so, frame any subject with different focal lengths or camera formats (swap lenses, e.g., a 24mm, 50mm, 100mm, keep the camera fixed in place). Crop the results as needed to show the same angle of view. The perspective will be identical (but close range shooting requires matching the distance to the entrance pupil, so shoot at distance). There will be subjective differences related to optical design, but those are not perspective related.

It is physics: the inverse square law determines the relative sizes of objects. That said, the human brain plays all sorts of games to make our visual system more useful to us, which is one reason why the moon looks huge when it rises (the size invariance principle). Book: Perception and Imaging, by Richard Zakia.

Related: Format-Equivalent Depth of Field and F-Stop in MSI.

Format equivalence—use of a 50mm lens on 35mm full frame means use of a ~33mm on a DX crop sensor to achieve the same field of view from the same position (on MFT, it would be a 25mm). If one instead uses that same 50mm on the DX crop-sensor camera, then it becomes necessary to move away from the subject, and that is what changes the perspective (the distance). Focal length by itself does not imply any particular angle of view; it is only when a format size is specified that the focal length has a context for field of view.

There are effects of optical design and focal length that influence various rendering qualities including the sharp-to-blur gradient, but these have nothing to do with perspective or telephoto compression. See The Medium Format 'Look' in Guide to Zeiss for some insight into these matters.

This image shows the inverse square law: the apparent size of the mailbox shrinks as distance from the camera increases. Our eyes (brain) compensate for this reality.

One of the few mailboxes teenagers haven’t destroyed
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Here, the telephoto compression effect comes from a substantial shooting distance, not because the lens is a 200mm telephoto.

Telephoto compression is a function of camera to subject distance
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Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Site Overhaul

A site overhaul is in in progress*. It is a bit tricky due to both layout changes and a new dynamic-placement ad system.

A few things are still visually ugly (e.g., the superheader at top) but should function as always (search is temporarily at top/center).

Also, dynamic ad placement (new ad system) needs some algorithmic polish. But note that every page visit will vary in ad placement (refresh a page to see). However, as always, there are no ads in subscriber publication pages.

Please bear with me while these changes proceed; I have little choice but to interleave site update/maintainance work with my regular tasks of covering lenses and camera, so I’ve chosen to “push” the current site as it stands, so that I can deliver content without undue delay.

* The ultimate goal, but well down the line and much more involved, is a more “responsive” design: one that adapts to the type of client such as desktop or mobile.

Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

Get Nikon 300mm f/4E PF ED VR at B&H Photo.

I was away for the weekend, and I did some shooting including with the new amazingly compact and light Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR. I’ll have a report on it soon.

  • F Mount Lens/FX Format
  • Aperture Range: f/4 to 32
  • One Phase Fresnel & One ED Element
  • Nano Crystal & Super Integrated Coating
  • Fluorine Coated Front Lens Element
  • Silent Wave Motor AF System
  • Nikon VR Image Stabilization (4.5 Stops)
  • Internal Focus, Manual Focus Override
  • Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism
  • Lighter & More Compact than Predecessor

Specifications

Nominal except as noted.

Specifications for Nikon AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
Focal length: 300mm
Aperture scale: f/4 - f/32
Diaphragm blades: 9, rounded
Number of elements/groups: 16 elements in 10 groups
Focusing range: 4.6' (1.40 m)
Angular field: 8° 10' DX Picture Angle: 5° 20'
Image ratio at close range:            1;4
Filter thread: 77mm
Weight, nominal: 26.63 oz (755 g)
Weight, as weighed, Nikon F: 752g (lens only), 812g with hood, 841g with hood and caps
Dimensions: Approx. 3.50 x 5.81" (89 x 147.5 mm)
List price: about $1997
Includes 77mm Snap-On Lens Cap
LF-4 Rear Lens Cap
HB-73 Bayonet Lens Hood
CL-M3 Lens Case (Black)
Warranty Limited 1-Year Warranty Limited 4-Year USA Extension Warranty
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR
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Tested: Lexar 128GB 1066X Compact Flash Digital Camera Storage Card

 
Lexar 128GB 1066X Compact Flash

It’s not as fast as the Lexar 2000X Lexar Professional 64GB SDXC card, but this kind of speed is more than adequate for all digital cameras, even the Nikon D810 and the Leica S. This card will be put into field use soon for diglloyd photography.

MPG tested the Lexar Professional 1066X Compact Flash 128GB in the Lexar USB3 card reader on the 2013 Mac Pro, with results as shown.

As shown below, the Lexar Professional 1066X Compact Flash 128GB can write at 134 MB/sec and read (download to computer) at 154 MB/sec over the entire capacity.

UPDATE 11 May: I used the Lexar 128GB in the field in the Nikon D810, and it performed flawlessly. It will see a lot more use as my primary card in the field (for my cameras that use CompactFlash).

The Lexar Professional 128GB 1066X Compact Flash is a card for cameras of course, and it requires a separate card reader. So if you’re looking for a fast USB3 thumb drive, check out the OWC Thumb Drive.

Performance of Lexar 64GB 2000X SDXC Digital Camera Storage Card using supplied card reader

Daryl O writes:

I tested this in my Leica S2, the specs say 64gb max, the card is ok mostly with episodic slow writes and lock ups, it did not work well in my mac pro 2013. When uploading files to my LR catalog it would not copy many files, not sure the card is the issue, perhaps the Delkin card reader.

I see you have two readers listed: Hoodman USB 3 card reader and Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7). Will either limit write speed, which would you recommend for use with the Mac Pro 2013?

DIGLLOYD: older cameras could have issues (the Leica S2 is relatively old now)—128GB might be a crossover point into a later standard or protocol not supported by the firmware of some older cameras.

Ditto for card readers—the latest ultra high capacity cards might not play well in an older card reader. The about $20 Lexar dual slot card reader has worked flawlessly for me, including both the test above and downloading images from the field. The Lexar card reader can hit over 300MB/sec with a fast SDXC card, so I do not think the reader is limiting the CF card.

SHOOTOUT at 24mm: Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G (Pescadero Creek Rushing Water)

 
Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

Get Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens at B&H Photo

Get Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED at B&H Photo

This comparison at 24mm is a critical counterpoint to the 15mm comparison, because zooms vary in performance by focal length.

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD 15mm vs Nikon 14-24/2.8G: Pescadero Creek Rushing Water (Nikon D810)

As usual, presented with large images up to 24 megapixels, and large crops.

I like the 24mm focal length, and while a fast lens like the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is really versatile when the light gets low, scenes like this are ideal for a zoom lens, where a stable tripod position and dry feet restrict the shooting position.

Rushing to the Ocean
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Leica 24-Megapixel Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 Starts Shipping

Get Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 at B&H Photo.

See my review of the original 18-megapixel Leica M Monochrom in Guide to Leica.

I’ll be testing the new 24-megapixel Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 as soon as I can, but I am as yet unsure when I might be able to get hold of one. B&H says expected availability is mid-May, so perhaps that will hold true.

When Leica went from the 18-megapixel M9 with its CCD sensor to the 24-megapixel Leica M240 with its CMOS sensor, the natural question was how long it would take to deliver a 24-megapixel monochrome version—about two years as it turns out (the M240 shipped around May 2013).

Megapixels are not really the gain (if indeed there is/will be any gain in resolution, barring some surprise)—the 24-megapixel M240 with its CMOS sensor never persuaded me that it actually delivered more resolution than the 18-megapixel CCD sensor in the M9.

The two features that I see as key are Live View and high ISO performance. High ISO noise performance is likely to be much improved from the CMOS sensor (CCD has always been terrible at higher ISO).

Live view

The big deal as I see it is the addition of Live View. Because filters from yellow to deep red are a exercise in frustration—like shooting in infrared as per rearward focus, particularly with red and deep red filters. A large shift, and very, very difficult to deal with on a camera with only a rangefinder. See Filters and Focus Error / Sharpness and even with the 50/2 APO this is an issue, see Focus Shift with Color Filters on M Monochrom.

But focusing errors with color filters are a non-issue with a Live View camera, since focusing Live View uses the actual image striking the sensor (vs a separate loosy-goosy mechanical rangefinder coupling, which I stopped using entirely once the M240 replaced my M9).

Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, rear

Feature overview

  • 24MP Full-Frame B&W CMOS Sensor
  • No Color Array or Low Pass Filter
  • Leica Maestro Image Processor
  • Rangefinder with Image Field Selector
  • 0.68x Optical Viewfinder Magnification
  • 3.0" 921.6k-Dot LCD with Sapphire Glass
  • Full HD 1080p Video at 24/25 fps
  • ISO 320-25000, 3 fps with 2GB Buffer
  • Magnesium Alloy Body Construction
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Download
Pine Creek Tungsten Mine
Image from the Leica M Monochrom (original 18MP version)

Description

It’s a shame that Leica can’t simply move forward, eliminate the rangefinder and put a high-res built-in EVF into a new camera, here in mid 2015. Or at least deliver a decent optional EVF instead of the crummy low-res one. Oh well.

Consistent with Leica's passion for classic designs mixed with contemporary functionality, the M Monochrom (Typ 246) Digital Rangefinder Camera is a unique digital camera dedicated to producing black and white imagery.

Lacking a color filter array, as well as an optical low pass filter, the M Monochrom's full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor records solely in luminance values, forgoing the need for color interpolation, in order to gain the utmost in sharpness, clarity, and resolution.

Complementing the imaging capabilities, the Leica Maestro image processor also affords a sensitivity range from ISO 320-25000 as well as a 3 fps shooting rate with a 2GB buffer for recording up to 30 frames in a sequence.

Full HD 1080p video recording is also possible in either 24 or 25 fps frame rates. Unique among digital cameras, the Typ 246 maintains Leica's preference for a rangefinder design and incorporates a 0.68x optical viewfinder with split and superimposed manual focusing, automatic parallax correction, and manual image field selection. Conversely, the camera also features a 3.0" 921.6k-dot LCD with sapphire glass covering to maintain the overall durability of the magnesium alloy and brass body.

As with past M-series cameras, the M Monochrom retains the ability to utilize the vast network of M-mount lenses from 16mm to 135mm. When working in live view, and since focusing operation is entirely manual, focus peaking and 10x live view zoom can be utilized to ensure critical focus. An ergonomic body design places all of the necessary camera controls within reach during shooting, including top shutter speed and drive mode dials, as well as rear menu navigation buttons and selection dial located atop the thumb rest.

Monochrom

Distinct from most digital camera, the M Monochrom (Typ 246) is a high-resolution camera dedicated solely to recording black and white imagery. By omitting a color filter array, as well as an optical low pass filter, this camera records imagery only in luminance values in order to gain higher sharpness, as well as increased clarity, depth, and resolution. Additionally, this design also contributes to reduce noise values when shooting at higher sensitivities, up to ISO 25000.

24 MP CMOS Sensor and Maestro Processor

Featuring a full-frame 24 MP B&W CMOS sensor and Maestro processor, this camera is also characterized by its improved shooting speed and versatility. A continuous shooting rate of 3 fps is possible and a 2GB buffer permits recording up to 30 DNG and/or JPEG files in a sequence with instant review possible.

The sensor and processor combination also affords full HD 1080p video recording, in either 24 or 25 fps frame rates. An on-board monaural microphone can be used for audio recording, in auto, manual, or "Concert" modulation settings, or an optional external stereo microphone can be used when paired with a microphone adapter set.

Optical Viewfinder and Rangefinder

The optical viewfinder is a large, bright-line 0.68x-magnification rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation and LED-illuminated frame lines, which are set to match the image sensor size at a focusing distance of 6.6'. On the front of the camera, a viewfinder frame selector can also be used to manually change the apparent image field to help visualize the scene with varying focal lengths.

The rangefinder mechanism displays split or superimposed bright field images within the center of the viewfinder to benefit accurate manual focusing control. The effective rangefinder metering basis is 47.1mm (mechanical metering basis 69.25 mm x viewfinder magnification of 0.68x).

3.0" LCD Monitor and Sapphire Crystal Cover

Complementing the optical viewfinder is a 3.0" 921.6k-dot LCD monitor, which is fitted with a scratch-resistant protective cover made from sapphire crystal glass for added durability. In addition to image review and menu navigation, this monitor also permits live view monitoring with the ability to utilize focus peaking and 10x zoom features to better ensure critical sharpness. Focus peaking highlights bright edges of contrast when they are in sharp focus, while the zoom control allows you to home in on fine details within the scene.

Body Design

Reminiscent of classic Leica designs, the M Monochrom features a black chrome-plated metal body design with a magnesium-alloy chassis, brass top and bottom plates, and a synthetic leather wrap. This minimalist and discreet appearance is further maintained by the unobtrusive Leica engraving on the rear of the body, with no front-facing or top plate logos.

Furthermore, the pared-down, ergonomic design allows direct access to necessary camera controls, including top shutter speed and drive mode dials and rear menu navigation controls.

Other Camera Features

  • Designed to accept all M-mount lenses, Leica R-mount lenses are also compatible through the use of an optional R to M adapter.
  • A download version of Adobe Lightroom is made available after purchase, and is ideally suited to processing of the M Monochrom's DNG RAW image files.
  • An electronic level display can be used to ensure consistently level horizons and plumb verticals.
  • After a JPEG is recorded, in-camera toning effects can be applied to imagery to simulate the look of film-based black and white processes.
  • Language support: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Russian, and Korean.
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SHOOTOUT at 15mm: Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD vs Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G (dual focus, Pescadero Creek Downstream)

Get Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens at B&H Photo

 
Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

The Nikon 14-24/2.8G focus shift makes it virtually impossible to match the zone of focus across the aperture series, so this comparison present the Tamron 15-30 against two series with the Nikon 14-24, one focus a bit closer to show how compensation for focus shift can help. It is thus not only a comparison, but a tutorial on mitigating focus shift (by compensating by using a focus bias).

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD @15mm vs Nikon 14-24/2.8G Dual Focus: Pescadero Creek Downstream (Nikon D810)

Presented with large images and crops as usual.

The Gauntlet Eventually Wears Away
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Leica Discounts Gear by 12%

Which if any Leica lenses and cameras to buy? Answer that question in my Guide to Leica.

Leica Camera is pleased to announce a consumer promotion to compensate for the current strength of the US Dollar against the Euro. This promotion runs from May 1st, 2015 through May 31st, 2015.

Just in time to devalue all my Leica gear (thank you Leica)—Leica has a 12% off promotion through May 31st. Which is to be doubled in June!

Just kidding (well I give it a 50/50 chance), but it used to be that I could sell M lenses for more than I paid for them, such was the shortage. But what I hear is that Leica dumped a sh*tload of inventory over in China a bit ago, but that went out of style as gifts (financially speaking) and there is a good year or so of inventory overhanging the Leica market, now being sold gray market all over the place. Serves ’em right for shorting the US market for so many years and catering to the dilettante market. And now with the strong dollar, the pressure on Leica prices is tremendous. Be that as it may (more than speculation, less than proven fact), 12% off for a USA-warranty Leica lens is a heck of a lot better than full fare.

See my Leica gear pages with handy links for Leica gear and all the Leica M lenses.

On Leica gear through May 31

But what really is the best lens for the Leica M platform anyway?

Now all Leica has to do is actually make a competitive camera, or at least honor the absurd investment M240 users (including me) made in a platform that goes nowhere on feature improvements. I do like shooting the M240. But there’s no excuse for laziness, which is the most apt way to put the Leica non-initiative in making the M240 more useful—all while more and more jackass models are dumped onto the market.

Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: 'Branches Over Creek'

Get Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at B&H Photo

 
Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

The Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at about $2068 (12% instant savings and 2% reward as this was written) is a solid performer well worth looking at for the M shooter. Available in silver or black, but it’s particularly attractive in silver.

Compact and very nicely built, I enjoyed using it in the field. It is very similar to its 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M sibling; both are hardly noticed for their weight.

In Guide to Leica, the series is mainly about showing rendering style: bokeh and aberration controls

Leica 90mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Aperture Series: Branches Over Creek (M240)

This lens rendering series from f/2.4 through f/13.5 is presented in multiple sizes with up to full-resolution (5976) images in order to show the total picture, so to speak.

Branches Over Pescadero Creek
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OWC Firecracker Savings

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD: Comparison Coming

Get Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens at B&H Photo

 
Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

I had some trouble with the first sample of the Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD, but the replacement looks like it’s OK (at least upon initial sorting of my images).

So I have some comparisons coming, including one in which I shot the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G focused at two different positions (since it has focus shift). The Nikon 14-24/2.8G focus shift makes it virtually impossible to match the zone of focus across the aperture series, so the dual series against the Tamron will serve both as a comparison and a tutorial on mitigating its behavior for the best results in the field.

I shot material at 15mm, 19mm, 24mm, 30mm for a good look at its behavior.

Fast Water Slowly Rounds Rocks
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Deal: Lexar Professional 1066X Compact Flash 128GB $139.95 ($130 off)

 
Lexar 128GB 1066X Compact Flash

At about half price ($130 off, deal ends May 3) and with free expedited shipping, this is the kind of capacity that lets you not have to erase the card on the trip, so it acts as one backup.

Lexar Professional 1066X Compact Flash 128GB $139.95

Not bad at about 1/4 the price of the 256GB card.

Other deals:

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