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Leica S Typ 006: Autofocus Errors

Get Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH at B&H Photo.

This aperture series explores the performance at distance from f/2 through f/10 on the Leica S Typ 006 using the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH:

Aperture Series: Forest Trees at Dusk (S006)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images to to 24 megapixels (6048 wide and large crops, all from ƒ/2 - ƒ/10.

Forest Trees at Dusk
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Leica Screen Protectors

Leica now offers screen protectors for the M, Q and T series:

Leica Camera proudly introduces Display Protection Foil Sets for the Leica M and the Leica T. The display protection foil set for the Leica Q was announced previously. Each set comes with two protection foils, an optical cleaning cloth and a screen cleaning pad. As the name suggests, these display protection foils offer protection from scratches and dirt that may damage the rear screen. In bright light, the display foil makes it easier to see the contrast and details in images by reducing glare.

KEY BENEFITS & FEATURES
-Provides effective protection against scratches and dirt
-Reduces glare significantly
-Set consists of two protection foils, an optical cleaning cloth and a screen cleaning pad
-Made in Germany

Sometimes press releases can be difficult to understand. So.. translation, courtesy of a reader:

We were too cheap to put gorilla glass, common on every $300 Xiaomi and Huawei smartphone, on our cameras we sell for thousands of dollars.

Further, we were too cheap to include a couple of form-fitting plastic foils for our cameras, so we could sell them as add ons.

These foils will let you see our cheap LCD backs better in bright light by reducing glare, because we were too cheap to put in an ambient light sensor in our cameras that automatically adjusted the LCD brightness and contrast.

DIGLLOYD: and/or to build in an EVF on T and M cameras.

See in the Dark: ISO 4,000,000 with the Canon ME20F-SH

With a full-frame 2.2 megapixel sensor sporting 16 micron pixels and taking Canon EF lenses, it is a very specialized tool. While spooks and sensitive sites will surely love this new camera, capturing images and video in nearly complete darkness is now feasible. The sensor used in the ME20F-SH was announced back in 2013.

The camera requires external recording and is a small box not suitable for general field use. Might the sensor find its way into the ideal format: a mirrorless camera or DSLR? Perhaps not, but that would surely extend the digital shooting envelope in an intriguing way.

CANON’S FIRST ULTRA-HIGH-SENSITIVITY MULTI-PURPOSE CAMERA FEATURES ISO EQUIVALENT OF OVER 4,000,000

MELVILLE N.Y., July 30, 2015 — Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today has introduced the Company’s first multi-purpose camera, the new ME20F-SH, which delivers exceptionally high sensitivity to capture Full HD video with a minimum subject illumination of less than 0.0005 lux1 (at maximum 75 dB gain setting, equivalent to an ISO sensitivity of over 4,000,000).

Nighttime surveillance and security, cinematic production, reality television, and nature/wildlife documentaries are just some of the ME20F-SH’s many possible usage applications. With the ability to capture color video in extreme low-light conditions and its simplistic and versatile design, the ME-20F-SH Multi-purpose Camera can be easily incorporated into existing infrastructures and systems to provide high-quality video capture even where subjects might not be seen with the naked eye.

Canon’s new multi-purpose camera employs an enhanced version of the 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor for Full HD video use that was originally developed by the Company in 20132. Its compact, modular body design allows easy custom configurations for diverse usage scenarios. While capturing video in extreme low-light conditions often requires the use of infrared illumination (a technique that only yields video in black and white), the ME20F-SH camera achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of color Full HD video with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination.

Ultra-High-Sensitivity CMOS Sensor Enables Color Video Capture in Extreme Low-Light Conditions

The ME20F-SH camera’s CMOS sensor has pixels measuring 19 μm square3, which is more than 5.5 times the surface area of the pixels on the CMOS sensor featured in select top-of-the-line interchangeable lens cameras4. Furthermore, the sensor’s pixels and readout circuitry make use of Canon proprietary technologies to achieve both reduced noise and exceptionally high sensitivity on subjects with a minimum illumination of less than 0.0005 lux.

This multi-purpose camera allows users to discern subjects under even some of the dimmest lighting conditions, such as environments lit by artificial illumination or under a moonless night sky. Furthermore, similar to Canon’s Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography cameras, the ME20F-SH camera includes Canon Log and Wide DR, which make possible a wide dynamic range, delivering high-image-quality video results across a range of illumination environments, from low to brightly lit conditions.

Canon’s Diverse Interchangeable EF Lens Lineup Enables Wide Range of Imaging Possibilities

The new ME20F-SH employs the same EF mount (Cinema Lock type) as Canon’s SLR cameras and Cinema EOS System-series of professional digital cameras, allowing users to make use of the Company’s extensive lineup of interchangeable EF lenses5. By letting users select the ideal lens based on their shooting or application requirements, taking into consideration such factors as angle of view and level of brightness, this multi-purpose camera facilitates a wide spectrum of imaging possibilities.

Supports various standard video-recording interfaces

Employing output-only 3G/HD-SDI and HDMI terminals, Canon’s ME20F-SH camera enables users working on location to output video via a single cable to a variety of peripheral equipment, including external recorders and monitors. Equipped with a φ2.5mm stereo mini-jack and a round 8-pin jack for RS-422, the multipurpose camera is capable of connecting with Canon’s RC-V100 Remote Controller (released in June 2014; sold separately) 6.

By allowing users to operate the camera or change settings from a remote location, the camera facilitates video capture from inaccessible locations as well as fixed-point surveillance. Furthermore, a φ3.5mm stereo mini-jack allows the camera to connect with an external microphone, enabling users working on location to output audio and video signals to connected peripheral equipment.

The Canon ME20F-SH is expected to be available in December 2015 at a suggested retail price of $30,000.

1 Compliant with the specification method for CCTV devices (TTR-4602B) issued by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA). Theoretical value based on the following shooting conditions: color, no light accumulation, f/1.2, 30P, 50 IRE
2 For more information, please refer to the press release announced on March 4, 2013, available on the Canon Global website: http://www.canon.com/news/2013/mar04e.html
3 1 μm (micrometer) equals one millionth of a meter
4 19 μm pixel pitch (361 μm2 surface area) compared to 4.88 μm (23.81 μm2) of Nikon D810, 8.4 μm (70.56 μm2) of Sony Alpha ILCE-A7S, and 6.94 μm (48.16 μm2) of Canon EOS-1D X
5 Details regarding supported EF-series interchangeable lenses are scheduled to be made available in mid-December 2015
6 The RC-V100 requires a firmware update when using the round 8-pin jack for RS-422. Details regarding the firmware are scheduled to be made available in mid-December 2015

Specifications for Canon ME20F-SH
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Medium Format for $3999: Pentax 645D

Get Pentax 645D at B&H Photo.

See my review of the CCD-sensor Pentax 645D and my review of its CMOS-sensor successor, the Pentax 645Z. The lens assessments apply to either or both.

There is something special with the image quality of a medium format CCD sensor. For an excellent sensor at a low price of $3999, the 645D may be your camera. No Live View with CCD of course.

Pumpkin
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Leica S Typ 006: Autofocus Errors

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

I had a horrific time with the autofocus on the Leica S Typ 006, surely the worst performance I have ever experienced with any camera, with a very high error rate often with huge errors. And not just with one camera body or lens, my photo tour client had a brand-new S006 and four brand-new lenses.

Readers of this blog with an S system should read the extensive discussion and see the examples before emailing with “my system works great” comments.

Results are documented at 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 100mm:

Leica S Typ 006: Error-Prone Autofocus Damages Sharpness

I was forced to implement a tedious protocol in the field so as to not have my work destroyed by the S006 autofocus system, whose errors would be laughable if not so infuriatingly destructive to image sharpness. The lenses themselves are excellent, and by dint of careful checks, I was able to make the image series I needed, but at the cost of tedious checks for each series, a huge burden that greatly impaired what I could do. I grew sick of the system, but as I had only 4 days to work with, I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. But any desire for an S system is extirpated. Many series were ruined from the first day (particularly the 100mm and 45mm) and part of the second day , before I had noticed the focus error. Verifying focus is hard to do in the field: the miserable low resolution rear LCD also presents a low quality JPEG when zoomed in, for a sh*tty visual experience. If a system cannot focus properly and one cannot easily verify focus after the shot, what good is the system?

My client’s brand-new system failed in another way: if the camera slept or was powered off, the 24mm f/3.5 SEM would go missing; autofocus would not function at all and the lens aperture would not be recognized. And the camera would hang trying to update the lens firmware. Brand new stuff, very expensive. I expect better from a $40K system, or even a $2K system. The Sony A7R II with its state of the art sensor looks better every day.

The metering on the Leica S Typ 006 is garbage under field conditions. I was constantly forced to use exposure compensation or manual exposure. My client’s camera was observed to produce a 4-5 stop error in some circumstances and I observed gross errors in the ~3 stop range.

The CCD sensor on the S006 is superb.

Lugging an S system up here was a powerful argument for a smaller and lighter system.

Upper Dana Lake
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Hiking down the tricky talus slope got me to this area, seen just right of center near bottom.

Upper Dana Lake
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There is restricted little depth of field even at f/13. The glacial moraines disappear the creek in places, with a slightly eerie feel of an underground river when scrambling up a boulder field.

Disappearing Creek
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Leica S Typ 006: Coverage Soon with 24mm, 35mm, 45mm, 100mm Lenses

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

See my pre-trip notes. I’m back from a 4-day trip to the Sierra with a photo tour client, who was also shooting a Leica S system.

On a side note, yesterday I saw the largest trout I’ve ever seen at high altitude, by a factor of 3X or so. A true lunker for a glacial lake at 11,500'.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)

Get Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set).

Whenever I get a new camera, I turn immediately to Really Right Stuff for a grip or L-bracket or camera plate—top quality work made to fit exactly. These brackets are essential for my work.

So a big hooray that the new L-bracket is out for the Canon 5DS / 5DS R. Hopefully it will arrive via UPS today before I have to depart on my trip (the bracket for the Canon 5D Mark III is what I’ve been using, but it doesn’t fit quite right being slightly off square and with a bit of extra pressure on a small portion of the camera body).

The “L” part is not required and just the base plate portion can be used if desired.

Long a source of minor flex with all L brackets, the new bracket for the 5DS / 5DS R sports a special strap boss anchor (chrome finish part at top of L as show below). This optional (can be removed) part firmly and rigidly anchors the top of the L to the strap boss on the camera body—very sturdy. Nice work, RRS!

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)

There are two positions (bolt holes) that are available. As shown below the alternate bolt hole is used to provide a substantial gap between the L portion and the camera body.

I mount the bracket flush to the left side, using the strap boss anchor as discussed above.

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R (B5DS-L Set)
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Sony A7R II: Poor Battery Life? And Can it Charge via USB?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Sony A7R II with 35/1.4 lens

The 42-megapixel Sony A7R II ships with two batteries and an AC charger. Yay!

Sony Alpha a7RII Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)
2 x NP-FW50 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery (1020mAh)
• AC-UUD11 AC Battery Charging Adaptor
• BC-VW1 AC Charger for W Series Battery
• Shoulder Strap
• ALC-B1EM Body Cap for NEX Cameras
• Multi Interface Shoe Cap
• Eyepiece Cup
• Micro-USB Cable
• Limited 1-Year Warranty

But what a minute, why does it ship with two batteries? Perhaps the battery life is very poor, just like with the Sigma dp Quattro series; bowing to reality Sigma includes two batteries, which I applaud.

What I do not recall is whether the battery can be charged in the camera via a USB cable as with the Sony RX100. If so, then the relatively compact 60 watt-hour BatteryBox could be tossed into a daypack for field outings (day or days long) to recharge batteries on the fly. Since the BatteryBox is 60 watt-hours and the Sony battery is only about 7 watt-hours, it would provide about 8 battery recharges for Sony batteries, assuming high efficiency.

Tero N writes:

All A7-series cameras even prior to A7R II can be charged on the go from Micro-USB power pack, but camera needs to be turned off.

A7R II is actually improved in this context; it can run purely from external USB power if there is a non-empty battery inside. A nice addition, I'm gonna velcro a 12000 mAh battery pack to my tripod extra juice for long-exposure stuff. You can find details in the manual that is available for example below.

DIGLLOYD: excellent. With an AC charger (what I really use) plus a USB option (plugs right into the Wagan Tech power inverter or the BatteryBox, charging options are good. The Battery Box can be used in the field and the USB option in the car, freeing up an AC outlet on the inverter.

Eric W writes:

There are also a number of dummy battery cables available for the a7 series. They are usually terminated in the anton-bauer d-tap plug. I use the DionicHC batteries with my a7s and they can run it for 6-8 hours of recording.

I had suggested to someone on a forum that needed to run the camera in extreme cold, to use this cable, paired with an extension cable run up the sleeve to a battery kept in an inside vest or pocket near body heat. The anton bauer batteries are quite large, another option I like is from SWIT:

http://www.swit.cc/productshow.aspx?id=209

It is an 86wh battery with a 14.4v output and a 5v USB output. This would be easier to fit in a pocket or inside a jacket than the larger AB batteries.

DIGLLOYD: nice option.

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Will the Leica Q Kill the Leica M?

Get Leica Q and Leica M at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

That is, if the Sony A7R II has not already killed it.

Shooting the Leica Q is a vastly more enjoyable experience than shooting the Leica M: hugely superior and built-in EVF along with autofocus. I enjoyed the Leica Q in spite of some really nagging operational issues (that could be fixed by Leica in a firmware update if the will is there).

The Q sensor appears to be superior in dynamic range and color rendition to the M240 sensor, and the optical performance compromises of the Q are not likely to be of concern to many shooters (not that M lenses are free of problematic compromises, particular the faster designs, ike wide-open aberrations and field curvature). But for those looking for pin-sharp results to the edges, do look elsewhere than the Q or M; a Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis comes to mind, or perhaps a future Sony RX2R with a 43MP sensor.

The Q is notably smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Leica M240 (about half the price or even less when the M240 + 28mm f/2 Summicron are the pairing). The image quality of the Q has an extraordinary visual impact and in this regard most users will find its images stunning. I want one, but the price is so high and I have so much gear, and I have to look at thing in ROI terms.

What if the Q were available in 4 or 5 focal lengths? What exactly would be the point of the aging M platform? That is, what would be the point to the vast majority of buyers, many of whom are dilettantes and collectors and have little interest or ability to grok the nerd appeal of the M.

So will the Leica Q kill the M platform? Yes if Leica makes other Q models with additional focal lengths and also fails to take the M platform forward.

The M platform clings to multiple handicaps:

Leica M240 with 50/1.4 Summilux
  • It is simply not usable by some users (eyesight).
  • The camera still crashes sometimes, requiring power off to recover, and losing the image.
  • The optional M240 EVF is a toy-grade low-res optional wart atop the camera. Awkward.
  • The M240 rangefinder is an anachronism used by some shooters, but entirely unusable by others (eyesight, framing, etc), and subject to mechanical tolerance errors along with grossly inaccurate frame lines and it is impossible to make a level image with wide angles using the rangefinder or absurdly expensive optical hot-shoe viewfinders.
  • The M240 is larger, heavier and much more expensive. With only a few lenses, it quickly becomes a $20K to $30K system.
  • The Leica Q sensor has superior dynamic range and color over the M sensor, with none of the color shading problems of the M wides.
  • My field experience shows vastly more accurate metering with the the Q. I have to shoot on manual all the time with the M; with the Q I just shoot on aperture priority with minor exp comp adjustments.
  • Leica M lenses simply are not as good as they could be versus a fresh approach to mirrorless. They are chock full of stale film-era compromises that need not be there with fresh designs for mirrorless. I would hold up the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon as a vastly superior lens as compared with Leica’s best (at 1/6 to 1/3 the cost!). Leica could do even better at double or triple the price the Batis.

So where should the M body go?

  • Introduce a smaller and lighter EVF-only ME (“M EVF”), with no rangefinder. This brings the cost down, usability up, size and weight way down.
  • Maintain compatibility with M lenses, but offer all new MA (“M autofocus”) lenses with autofocus and leaf shutters that rock with a built-in flash utilizing the wasted space currently occupied by the rangefinder. These lenses can be new designs optimized for mirrorless and be made larger so as not to require such esoteric optical designs (no more concern in blocking the rangefinder).
  • Raise the resolution and dynamic range of the sensor: 36 megapixels minimum, 14+ bits dynamic range. As they say in Russia, tough shitsky if those vaunted M lenses show their limits even more than they do now at 24 megapixels.

This should all have been done a year ago.

Hail peppers climbers descending Mt Dana, delivering auditory and tactile and olfactory delights while the eyes feast on the sunlit Mt Conness and Saddlebag Lake area.

Mt Dana Hailstorm with view to Mt Conness in sunlight
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Dan M writes:

OK, so you’ve shown us this again. [Mt Dana hailstorm] And now I look at it with a bit more care to the nuance and detail [and enlarged] and realize just how few camera/lens combos could deliver this image.

You don’t notice the quality right up front because of the extreme circumstance of the shot. But there is depth, excellent detail and proper color everywhere in a situation where most gear would produce a sack of mush.

DIGLLOYD: yes, the lens on the Q has its quality limits at the periphery, but as I've said in my review of the Leica Q, what I term the “visual impact” is superb. This comes from high contrast for coarse and fine structures (high MTF) and strict control of aberrations. The only negative is the loss of peripheral sharpness from the severe distortion, which must stretch pixels to make the image, starting with an effective captured area of only about 22 megapixels.

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Leica S Typ 006: Shooting it Next Trip with 24mm, 35mm, 45mm, 100mm Lenses

Leica S2 (old model)

Get Leica S at B&H Photo.

Shooting the Leica S system to review it has been an issue, mainly because of cost.

But a friend has generously loaned me his Leica S Typ 006 and the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH and the Leica 100mm f/2 Summicron-S ASPH (the same friend who loaned me gear for my review of the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH).

Also, B&H is loaning me the 35mm f/2.5 Summarit-S ASPH and the 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH. So I’ll have the 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 100mm Leica S lenses to shoot (equivalent to 19mm, 28mm, 36mm, 80mm in 35mm full frame field of view terms). I would have liked to also have the 30mm, but if interest is proven (new subscriptions), then I will invest additional effort in the 30mm, 70mm, and 120mm focal lengths.

Personally I find this an interesting project for context and relevance of medium format, particularly in light of the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS R with Zeiss Otus, as well as the Sony A7R II with Zeiss Batis. But this is a business, and my bills don’t pay themselves! I have to respond to customer demand as the primary driver of my schedule, and the Leica S market is very small. So this effort and the response to the coverage are a trial balloon, possibly a waste of 4 days in revenue terms and my time, but at the least I’ll gain a solid perspective on the S system and its lenses, and a wide-ranging perspective always feeds back into all my work. And I have just enough time to do it before the Sony A7R II work onslaught arrives (there are many more customers for the A7R II than Leica S).

I’ll be shooting the S system in the Yosemite area for four days. My goal is to gather enough material to provide a detailed look at each of those lenses on the Leica S Typ 006 (which is equivalent in imaging to the Leica S-E).

The 'glass' matters but so does the sensor, and the Leica S CCD sensor is gorgeous. So even though the Leica S system is stuck (permanently it seems) at 36 megapixels, it is the total combination of resolution and pixel quality that together make the visual impact.

Pescadero Creek
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Canon 11-24mm f/4L Examples: Mt Conness Watershed (Canon 5DS R)

Canon 11-24mm f/4L

Get the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM and Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Extending my review of both the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM and the Canon 5DS R are these additional pages:

Examples: Mt Conness Watershed (5DS R)

Examples: Beautiful Boulder at Four Focal Lengths (5DS R)

Color Fringing, Uncorrected and Corrected, Optical Misalignment? (5DS R)

Conclusions on 11-24mm f/4L

Presented with HD and UltraHD images up to 24 megapixels. most images with crops and some with both color and black and white versions, since the Canon 5DS R makes an excellent monochrome camera.

These examples are an excellent way to understand the real-world performance of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L as well as the Canon 5DS R.

At about $2999, the Canon 11-24mm f/4L is hardly inexpensive, but given the unprecedented range and image quality, it’s a winner.

Contemplation
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Beautiful Boulder, Clearing Storm
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FOR SALE: Leica M Lenses, Canon gear

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.

Leica M

I’m looking to pick up an S system. Something has to go. These prices firm.

  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH $2700
  • Leica 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH (black) $6900
  • Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH (black) $2600
  • Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH $6200 (price reflects little desire to really sell it!)

Canon

  • Canon 5D Mark III $1650 in original box, etc with Really Right Stuff L bracket. Excellent condition, low shutter actuations, original box charger, etc.
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $750
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $910
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $650
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Zeiss Batis Lenses Have Shipped (a few days ago)

Get Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

According to Zeiss USA, “First dealer deliveries were made last week, on time”.

As I predicted, the initial shipment was absorbed by pre-orders, and and so the Batii are still on pre-order status at B&H—first shipment all spoken for. I expect the Zeiss Batis lenses to be in high demand and relatively hard to get for some time (like Zeiss Loxia).

With the new Sony A7R II (expected around Aug 6), it is my intention to test mainly with the Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses (if I can get them), because they offer outstanding performance that will show the sensor off nicely. See my existing review of Zeiss Batis and review of Zeiss Loxia.

Photoshop CC 2014 Now Gets the CC 2015 Bugs

I recently reported that a slew of new bugs had appeared in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.

Now with the very recent update to CC 2014, Adobe has added at least some of those bugs into CC 2014.

Beware: the bugs involve the GPU, a notoriously unstable area. CC 2014 and CC 2015 have been crashing on me at 5X the rate of the previous versions. Adobe has been replacing proven non-GPU code with GPU code, and apparently replacing optimized non-GPU code with turtle-slow code. So you now get an unstable application, or turtle slow operation if the GPU is disabled (I have disabled the GPU for years due to instability).

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Bristlecone on Bare Hill, Checking for Lens Symmetry (Canon 5DS R)

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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

The lighting was harsh, and I have many more attractive scenes, but the subject matter here is perfect for seeing just how demanding a 50 megapixel sensor can be.

But mainly the subject was chosen to assess performance both in terms of how much stopping down is required for good quality, how much depth of field it delivers (real depth of field), and whether the lens shows symmetry of sharpness across the frame.

In DAP:

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Bristlecone on Bare Hill, Checking for Lens Symmetry (Canon 5DS R)

Just how good the Zeiss Otus line is and how the Sigma Art lenses are not in the same league is plain to my eyes. Shooting a DSLR? Otus or bust. Sort of a good, better, best thing (Nikon/Canon, Sigma Art, Otus).

The track of a motorcyle mars a very sensitive environment at about 11,500' elevation. Such thoughtless damage keeps increasing in this pristine area, which now has Wilderness designation.

Lonely Bristlecone at about 11,500' elevation
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Power On the Road: Power Inverter for Everything, MagSafe Charging for Apple Laptops

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

Here’s a followup on several products I’ve tried.

Pawtec Macbook High-Speed Car Charger

Pawtec car charger for Magsafe

The idea is that direct DC to DC current should be more efficient than a power inverter that converts DC to AC, that is, a 12V DC power inverter to AC to Apple power brick. Maybe.

I was initially thrilled with the Pawtek adapter, as it powered my late 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina with no fuss keeping it nicely at 100% charge.

Pawtec Macbook High-Speed Car Charger - Compatible MagSafe 2 for Apple Macbook / Air / Retina Mid-2012 - Present

But when the battery charge was about 75% and I then plugged the laptop into the Pawtec, the Pawtec adapter started making high pitched screeching noises, and the adapter plug became too hot to touch. Things that get too hot to touch worry me. I unplugged it and let it cool. Perhaps it’s normal or perhaps it’s risky—I don’t know but I’d say that the Pawtec is good for steady usage but caution is advised for charging a depleted battery. The MBP Retina power brick is a 90W unit, so maybe that’s too much for the Pawtec.

Battery box

So far this BatteryBox unit has worked great. The BatteryBox unit is 60Wh; a MacBook Pro Retina has a ~100 Wh internal battery, so 60 Wh is in theory about a 60% gain in battery time.

Tests at home under maximum load (all CPUs busy via MemoryTester) with the BatteryBox connected kept the MBP at 100% charge for about 35 minutes. Since normal usage uses far less power, I’d estimate that the BatteryBox will yield a runtime extension commensurate with its watt hours in relation to the built-in battery (3 hours is about all I get out of the MBP using Photoshop and such, so maybe I'd get 5 hours, total). Further field testing will prove this out. Its a nicely made unit and I’ve suggested to the manufacturer to offer a double or triple size battery. But of course it’s possible to carry more than one battery.

The BatteryBox also charges a USB device via its USB port, but a pending firmware update is needed for full compatibility (some of my devices would charge, some would not).

One limitation is that the BatteryBox takes USB charging via an AC wall-wart, so back to the same old power inverter for recharging (no direct DC charging).

BatteryBox with MagSafe compatible connector

Wagan Tech 200W pure sine-wave power inverter

This is now my meat and potatoes power source for when I’m traveling in my vehicle in the mountains; it charges up everything.

I replaced an older and cheaper square wave inverter with a Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter. The older unit did not seem efficient; it became relatively hot and ran its fan a lot. It cost a lot less, and I guess you get what you pay for.

Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter

But the Wagan EL2600 Elite Pro 200W Pure Sine Inverter runs much cooler and with less fan noise and no fuss. Its pure sine wave AC output is more efficient for devices and hence the cooler operation (lower power draw on the unit itself, which is claimed to itself be 90% efficient).

I charged 3 camera batteries at once as well as the iPhone via USB, and it powers the MacBook Pro with no fuss at all. 200W is plenty for all that stuff, even simultaneously.

The Wagan EL2601 Elite 400W and 1000W Pro Pure Sine Inverter alternatives may be of use to some, but 200W will already blow a vehicle fuse in many vehicles (12V X 16.7 amps ~= 200W, my vehicle is fused at 20 amps but some are fused at 15 amps). The 400W or 1000W units can deliver a lot more power, but only if connected directly to a suitable battery directly with the alligator clamps (not the cigarette lighter socket).

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Leica S at Deep Discounts

Step up to medium format at a deeply discounted price? Were I shooting medium format, it is the S system that I would choose, for the lens quality is unmatched by any other medium format system. The Leica S sensor is gorgeous, and I happen to like the 70mm f/2.5 lens quite a lot, though my #1 lens pick (for my own reasons) would be the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH.

I’ve learned that B&H Photo can price match some deals. Call B&H Photo at (800) 947-6628 for a price match. Most important, I trust B&H to honor their prices. Please let me know of success (or not) in getting a price match.

Leica Store San Francisco has a $9199 price for the Leica S-E + 70mm lens. That’s a screaming deal for an S-system. B&H tells me they can price match the $9199 price. B&H will NOT price match on products that are not in stock.

Update 21 July: prices went back up radically. The deal was there for a few days.

Other price examples

Price links below are at Leica Store Miami. Please note that I am NOT recommending Leica Store Miami, as I have never done business with them*.

Leica S-E (Typ 006) (1 year warranty)
Leica S-E (Typ 006) / 70mm Lens Set
Leica S (Typ 006) (includes Leica Protection Plan Body, 3 years is my understanding)

* It looks to me like Leica Store Miami is breaking its MAP agreement.

'Found' Cases for Gear

Get Sigma DP Merrill and Olympus OM-D at B&H Photo.

I use Lupine lights for my cycling and headband and similar needs (highly recommended).

It turns out that the Lupine transport case from the Lupine Betty lighting system is a handy thing for small camera systems. Zippered and with a carrying handle and small pouch (not shown below), it fits the bill nicely.

Three Sigma DP Merrill cameras in Lupine zippered case
Olumpus E-M1 and lenses in Lupine zippered case

 

Leica Q: Really not a 24MP Camera and not a 28mm Lens (in effect)

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, I’ve extended my analysis of the extreme optical distortion of the Leica Q, and the corresponding distortion correction required to correct it.

  • The Leica Q is a 22.4 megapixel camera (approx) in terms of recorded usable pixels.
  • The degradation of peripheral sharpness by distortion correction piles on further losses: I deem the Leica Q a ~20 megapixel camera in terms of peak available sharpness (better if one does not care about the periphery).*
  • The equivalent horizontal field of view is 29.7mm, assuming the 28mm f/1.7 is a 28.0mm lens. Which it might not be; it might be a 27mm or similar (or might not be). An infinity focus scene has to be shot to determine its relative field of view compared to say, a Leica 28/2 Summicron.

Leica Q: Extreme Distortion Degrades Periphery, Reduces True Resolution, Decreases Field of View

As a counterpoint that speaks to the wonderful visual impact and dynamic range:

Examples: Climbing Mt Dana

I like the Leica Q very much as per the above examples. With a few firmware fixes for really thoughtless design decisions, I’d love to have one were the price more palatable (no ROI for me for starters and I use tons of gear constantly, can’t just buy stuff to have on hand).

I also discuss Leica Q Recording Format (DNG and JPEG).

What I regret seeing in the Q (as much as I like its imagery overall) are the self-timer behavior and timing limits, the AF cross coupling bug (presumably to be fixed), the lack of a grip, huge files (no lossless compression), a useless video button (non programmable) and certain other limitations and restrictions that have no rational justification (all fixable in firmware if Leica had the will to do so). All these things come to bear in using the Q at various times and only one’s own use can weigh the balance as relevant or not. For an oddball but real-world example, risk of injury traversing icy rocks back and forth because the damn self timer resets every shot (and takes only 1 shot). Or the much more mundane usage of shooting on a tripod with more than one shot.

* One might argue that the idea of realizable megapixel detail applies to lens performance in general, but I deem that a non-issue with the Zeiss Batis lenses to be used on the 42MP Sony A7R II. Or at least that is my expectation, and 42MP is going to record a ton more detail in any case, with less aliasing as well.

Massive optical disortion with Leica Q, uncorrected
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Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Left/Right Zone of Focus Skew: Not Always the Lens, the Sensor and Lens Mount Might not be Plane-Parallel

Get Canon 5DS R at B&H Photo.

Canon 5DS R

See Case Study: Severe Lens Skew (D800E, Samyang 14mm f/2.8) for an example of clear-cut lens skew on a known-good camera body.

Symmetry issues are an issue at all price levels; see Asymmetry with Leica 180mm f/3.5 APO-Elmar-S.

See Updates at bottom: I shot a lot of material on my recent trip using the Canon 5DS R with the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

The Canon 11-24mm f/4L (about $2999) is a must-have lens for the Canon shooter. It’s so much fun in the field! The 11-14mm range is a wonderfully useful extension versus the more limited range of the 14-24mm Nikkor. The 11-24mm shows its limits on the 5DS R, but short of Zeiss Otus, virtually all lenses show obvious limits, and even the Otii can be nitpicked more easily.

The Sigma DG HSM Art lenses are absolutely not in the same league as Zeiss Otus. Camera skew or not, they need a lot of stopping down at 50MP to get to quality that the Otii deliver wide open. Still, they are much better than the Nikon or Canon equivalents and are a superb value.

About 10 days ago, I sent in my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II to be adjusted because I was seeing a skew in focus: left side focused to the distance, right side to the foreground (this was from back in mid June). Canon returned the lens as “performing to specifications”.

The “performing to specifications” response caused a sinking feeling in my gut, so I just finished examining many images from the lenses mentioned above, all shot on the same Canon 5DS R on my recent trip.

All of the lenses are consistent: while not always obvious, any shot at distance shows a clear bias of focus to the distance on the left side, and focus to the foreground on the right side. In other words, I either have four bad lenses, or a misaligned camera body. That is to say that the lens mount is not plane parallel to the sensor.

That said, the Canon 11-24mm f/4L is much more subtle; wide open the periphery is not fully sharp, and there is significant depth of field at f/4 so it’s harder to see without the right scene. In most cases one can be forgiven for thinking there is no issue and with near/far scenes shot at any kind of angle and with closer focus (not infinity), most of my work looks perfectly fine, so I have a sense of relief there. Examining the f/1.4 Sigma lenses, the issue is more prominent (much wider apertures). And lens design can influence performance too (amount of telecentricity). Finally, closer focus reduces the issue; it is the highly sensitive infinity focus that is “touchy”. A suitable grassy or rock slope with distant focus is where the issue rears its head most obviously (50 feet out and farther for focus).

Given the evidence (consistency among four lenses), I think it’s fair to say that error is in the camera body. Which aside from damaging a great deal of field work, puts me in a bind as within 12 hours I have to head to an cycling event in the Sierra, and I was planning on shooting the 5DS R before and after. Now my shooting plans are in chaos, so I may just shoot Nikon and Otus and a few other things while I await a replacement 5DS R. I do have the new Sigma dp0 Quattro coming, though the thought of using Sigma Photo Pro to process more than a few images makes my stomach churn.

I intend to document the sensor/mount skew by example, as I think this is something everyone should be aware of when buying ultra high resolution digital cameras. Perfect symmetry is hard to come by, but at 22-24 MP, a slight skew was harder to detect. At 50 megapixels, the tolerances are now problematic and anything and everythings shows up, and a slight error in lens added to an error in the camera can add up and combine badly. But in this case it appears to be just the camera at fault.

Update

I shot the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in my backyard on a house and deck scene at about 80 feet distanct. I cannot detect any skew with the Otus 55/1.4, even wide open.

Then I shot the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II on the same scene as the Otus 55/1.4, at 24mm and 28mm. It looks just like the bad results prior to Canon service: the left side shows reasonably good definition and the right side shows a strongly blurred area that hardly improves from f/2.8 to f/5.6. Camera or lens? It sure looks like the lens to me, and yet Canon service stated it is “performing to expectations”. And then those Sigma Art lenses aren’t symmetric either.

Next I tested the Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon. I could not detect any lens skew. With these mixed results, I am forced to say I don’t really know for sure what is wrong. It could be a combination of factors. The right way to do this is to have at least two identical camera bodies and lenses and hold one variable constant. But dual 5DS R bodies are hard to come by.

Finally I tested the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art. It shows a very mild right-side focus bias to the foreground, as seen in the field at greater distance (closer range may be harder to see and lens focusing can change things). It’s not a big skew just as I found in the field, but it is visible.

This is a hard one: I’ve dealt with skew issues for years, seeing it fairly often with various gear (see Sony 35/1.4 and Tamron 15-35 most recently), but this one has me tearing my hair out. Maybe it’s just bad odds on the lenses PLUS minor tolerance differences that happen to affect the 24-70, 24/1.4 and 50/1.4 lenses. Except for the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II (“peforming to specifications”), I would characterize the skew as mild. Moreoever it’s hard to detect at closer range (examining other field images). It appears to me that focus distance is involved, infinity focus being the most demanding and least forgiving of even the slightest issue, but also the lens design (perhaps the degree of telecentricity).

I once tested four Zeiss 21/2.8 Distagons on a Nikon DSLR; each was different but in the end the camera body proved to be the culprit (Nikon found it off slightly and it was perfect when it came back as many subsequent shoots proved out). Those 21/2.8 Distagons were sent back to Zeiss and were all MTF tested at the factory after my shoot, and only one was out of tolerance and not by much. A small error in the camera alignment can combine with a small error in the lens to make things additively worse or slightly better. Moreover things can change with focusing distance as elements change position and orientation internally.

Update 2

Up in the Sierra Nevada today Jun 17, I shot the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon on the side of an old building. No skew.

The Otii are held to very tight tolerances, best in the industry IMO. I’m wondering if the camera is fine or just a tiny bit off and what I’m seeing is tolerances (“performing to specifications”) on multiple lenses: maybe “in spec” has not changed much since the days of 12-24 megapixel cameras, yet we are now at 50MP. It might even be the case that the manufacturing process for many lenses cannot be reliably implemented to the tolerances needed for 50MP.

Update 3

Further examination of images from various lenses leads me to conclude that the camera is not likely to be at fault. I’d love to have a 2nd camera body, but the 5DS R remains in short supply. But in a week or so I’ll send it to Canon, and Canon has the sophisticated gear to test sensor/flange parallelism.

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Leica Q: Climbing Mt Dana from Sun to Hail to Rain to Sun Again

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

I had frustrations with the autofocus being disabled with the leveling view and thus the variety and hit rate of my images was reduced, but nothing beats assessing the end results with real-world shooting on a mission for which the Leica Q was designed: a highly portable full-frame camera with excellent dynamic range and superb color rendition suitable for any kind of documentary photography, as well as rapidly changing lighting. The superb metering (aperture priority) and high-grade EVF and fast response time are strong qualities that I enjoyed.

This series of images documents a climb up Mt Dana in Yosemite National Park on a truly exceptional July day that went from sun to dark clouds to hail to rain and fog and back to sun. An incredible treat!

Leica Q Examples: Climbing Mt Dana

I climbed the peak with my daughter (her first real climb), and many of the images include her. The experience reminded me that including a human being in a landscape photo often makes a more interesting image, lending scale and perspective. This I already knew of course, but over the years I had semi-forgotten it—I almost always hike alone in wild places, getting the job done when it needs to be done.

Self-timer and autofocus behaviors aside, the Leica Q succeeds at what I perceive to be its core mission of offering high quality imagery in a very compact package, the main weak point being sharpness at the periphery due to the extreme optical distortion that requires correction, which degrades the fine details. But it is the overall visual impact that makes the end result so attractive. Now if only Leica would improve the experience by fixing a few annoying behaviors that frustrate ease of use—get the camera out of the way, don’t make it a roadblock.

I would like a Leica Q, but they aren’t exactly giving them away. My curiosity is piqued for the Sony A7R II. I know the A7R II will have its own annoying issues, and how that balances out against the Q remains to be seen. But of course the A7R II has interchangeable lenses including the superlative Zeiss Batis line.

View towards Mono Lake from north ridge of Mt Dana
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Hail peppers climbers descending Mt Dana, delivering auditory and tactile and olfactory delights while the eyes feast on the sunlit Mt Conness and Saddlebag Lake area.

Mt Dana Hailstorm with view to Mt Conness in sunlight
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UPDATE: Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts CONFIRMED by Leica, to be fixed with firmware update

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

I reported Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts about 6 weeks ago. Leica contacted me about the issue, and I provided a DNG to Leica, one of many with the spots. Today I received a brief note from Leica as follows:

We have found the root cause and plan to make a firmware update that avoids this effect.

It seems that all images I shot with the flaw are permanently damaged with these dots. Meanwhile, everyone with a Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 presumably will be recording images with spots. But whether the flaw exists in every MM246—this I do not know and Leica has not so indicated. Every vendor can deliver a camera with flaws, and I am pleased that Leica will be fixing the issue—that’s the key thing—a fix. But it is immaterial to me as I do not own or plan to purchase the Leica M Monochrom 246 (cannot be justified on an ROI basis).

How is it that I detected the black spot issue with my very first evaluation shoot and no one else noticed it? While I have an odd “Bermuda Triangle” effect on camera and computer gear, the fact that no one noticed the issue prior to shipping the MM246 raises some questions about quality control and testing. Leica has never asked me to test their cameras and that’s just fine, but my suggestion to Leica is to develop relationships with testers competent to evaluate image quality before releasing a camera or lens. I was also the first to blow the whistle on the severe flare issues with the 50mm f/2 APO (my findings were rejected by at least one expert unable to use his own eyes, but later that year Leica stopped production to fix “4 minor issues” with the design, and it is much improved now as the issues were far from minor). Leica never acknowledged my reporting on that issue, so I am glad that Leica took the initiative in contacting me about this black spots issue.

Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (actual pixels)
Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (200% of actual pixels)
B&H for Everything Nikon
diglloyd Nikon reviews in DAP

Leica Q: Autofocus Fails Permanently (well, actually a weird cross-coupling of AF to info display)

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

Update 14 July: upon returning home, I discovered that AF is working, but with a confusing twist that precluded me from using autofocus while out in the field. Details further below.

Today I climbed Mt Dana with my daughter. It was an important day to me, this being our first summit climb together, ever. I took the Leica Q for its relatively compact size and light weight.

But the Leica Q (with about 40 frames on it from new) failed. Its AF system went AWOL and power cycling the camera and pulling the battery numerous times did nothing to restore AF functionality. I was left with a brand-new $4250 camera that could not autofocus.

While readers know that I often use manual focus, this is not so easy with dark sunglasses and varying light conditions and a moving subject (and balancing on rocks). So the Q failed miserably to deliver what I needed this day.

Fortunately, knowing that every Leica camera has failed me more than once (S and M and now Q), I was not a complete idiot. I took along the superlative and far, far less expensive Ricoh GR, which performed admirably and with a built-in flash for flash fill to boot. I still shot the Q with manual focus for some things, but it lost me some shots due to the delay and subject movement.

I did use the Q for the summit shot on a mini tripod, pre-focusing manually. The Q endeared itself by forcing me to re-enable the self-timer for every shot, shuttling back and forth over slippery icy rocks. The lack of insight into real photography at Leica is appalling: this situation is hardly uncommon (group shots on a tripod or similar). The other annoying behavior is getting 4 or 5 frames instead of 1 frame by going from S to C when turning the camera on (in the real world, I'm hiking, have gloves on, etc). And its propensity to drain 1/4 of its battery overnight. Look, if you’re a street shooter walking out of your hotel or whatever and then back to a dinner and coffee, maybe the Q works for you. Out on the trail, this stuff gets frustrating, fast.

UPDATE 14 July

Back home, I could not get the camera to autofocus with any conventional setting (spot focus, face detect, etc). But then I noticed that touch focus works. And then that the rear button performs AF. But not the shutter release.

Finally I realized that toggling through the info settings (center button on 4 way dial) has 2 of 3 display modes that disable autofocus with the shutter release. One of those modes has the horz/vert level display. Since I shoot almost exclusivley with the screen with the leveling function enabled, and this is one of the three AF-disabled views, the camera would never autofocus! I never considered the idea that the info display on the rear LCD would also mysteriously coupled in a way that enables or disables autofocus.

Apparently this is as-designed and can be classified as RTFM (which I did, but somehow if this is described, I missed it). There is a setting Zoom/Lock-Button which I had set to AFL. But it is not AF-lock, it is AF disableforever, even after camera power offs or the battery removed (unlike the self timer which unsets itself at every shot!). Adding to the confusion, this center button toggles the rear LCD 3 ways, while simultaneously locking or unlocking the chosen function. This coupling of display info to a locking function is a bizarre design choice that baffles me. What does locking focus or exposure have to do with toggling the rear display info?

The solution seems to be to set Zoom/Lock-Button = Digital Zoom, which seems to have no ill effects and to allow AF with the leveling functionl. This makes no sense at all to me, but it works.

UPDATE 15 July

Leica contacted me to say this:

The info setting button on the backside of the camera should not deactivate the AF in any setting. It is just a switch between video rec info, still info and clear display.

As the behavior of your camera sounds strange we would suggest to return to camera to the Leica service for deeper evaluation.

DIGLLOYD: the behavior is consistent: when Zoom/Lock-Button = AFL, pressing the button inside the 4-way controller* toggles the info screens and disables AF in the two non-video modes. When Zoom/Lock-Button = AEL /AFL is used, the AF system operates as expected via the shutter release.

* The Set button labeled #31 in schematic in the manual, the 4-way controller being the Direction Pad.

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

Reader Inquiry: Sigma DG HSM Art Lenses on Canon 5DS R

Get Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma DG 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

David M writes:

Any plans of testing the Sigma Art series lenses namely, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art on the Canon 5DS R?

I have purchased these three (price driven,unfortunately) based on your positive field testing with them. Am wondering how they will stand up to a sensor in the 40-50 mpixel in anticipation of Nikons next high res. DSLR.

Thank you for your detailed "in field,real world" testing and recommendations. Its the only site worth taking notice of. Appreciate your hard work.

DIGLLOYD: I just literally put the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art in my photo backpack for departure tomorrow for several days of field work in Yosemite. With rain in the Sierra, most forest fires are almost dead out, so the air and conditions should be ideal, unlike my late June trip, where I was smoked home.

I am a big fan of the outstanding value offered by the Sigma Art line, including the superb lens case shipped with the Sigma Art lenses, which makes a laughingstock of the cheapo Canon and Nikon soft pouches. Superb because the Sigma case protect the lenses and pack well. I like them enough that I really wish Zeiss would do something similar as I always need to jam a bunch of stuff into my North Face Recon daypack and that means some kind of protective case (jostling issues and similar). So the Zeiss lenses go into neoprene style pouches, a bit more compact and a bit tight with some. I end up preferring the Sigma cases. Nor does Sigma skimp on lens hoods—included with all the Art lenses.

I am also revisiting the Canon 8-15mm f/4L and the Canon 11-24mm f/4L zooms. These lenses are excellent but I want to see their limits on the Canon 5DS R. The 24-70mm f/2.8L II is very good too but my sample is decentered and is at Canon for adjustment.

I’ll take the Leica Q along as a hiking camera (and the much more useful Ricoh GR with its built-in flash for happy snaps), to see if I can un-bore myself with it while climbing some peaks. I wanted a corner to corner whacko-sharp lens, but the 28/1.7 Summilux on it lens is a disappointment, not to mention closer in speed to a Summicron than a Summilux, cheating on the Summilux moniker in both speed and performance.

Reader Experience and Concerns: Sony Service and Reliability

Get Sony Alpha A7R II and Sony FE lens B&H Photo.

Another horror story about Sony’s idea of customer service. See the May blog post with other Sony horror stories.

K S writes:

I’m writing to you about a current experience with Sony and Precision Camera. I contacted the former due to failed parts on my camera. Unlike other users who’ve had to pay out of pockets, my protection plan was a wise decision (I never really cared to test how these camera and lens manufacturers define as ‘weather sealing’). After having sent in my body (Sony A99) on the 17th of June to PC, I had to pull teeth to get answers from people. Documents I sent and authorizations for repair were ignored/went unheeded for up to 3 days. I expected to have it completed by the 4th of July weekend, but the lady on the phone suggested I borrow someone’s camera after leaving me a voice mail saying it’ll probably be done by the 4th of July.

What’s worse is that I had a customer service rep hang up on me today after telling me that they had to have Sony manufacture spare parts for them and ship them from overseas to complete my repair (I think that any competent manufacturer keeps parts around for repairs when their cameras are still serviceable). Her estimated date of arrival for the parts is July 24th before the repair process starts. Total time from receiving equipment to starting repairs? Upwards of 30 days. Repairs are another 5-10 business days and there’s no overnight or two-day shipping.

I’m not someone who makes a full time living off my camera body so I’m not a top tier customer, but contracting repairs out to a group (who I think) look worse than amateurs makes no sense. Innovate on the products, but keep the support pipelines fed and active. I think Sony might not be able to keep up its momentum if it ignores the support infrastructure. The latest update after a 20 minute call with Sony support about half an hour ago is that they’ll escalate the issue and have customer relations reach out to me in 24-48 hours.

As much as I love your coverage of, and dislike hearing the precise and accurate criticism of Sony, for the A7 line and beyond, I think Sony is setting itself up for failure. Innovation paired with adequate support might be their only way out and I hope you continue your honest coverage to bring some perspective into how Sony is neglecting to do what it should to keep itself relevant and active. Take care.

DIGLLOYD: What a noxious approach by Sony. Every customer deserves good service, but ultimately every customer can vote with the wallet: support those companies that deliver a product, not just a gadget in a box.

This sort of stuff makes me unhappy about supporting Sony (buying Sony products), a point I made back in December in On Sony; nothing has changed. But while I don’t really want to buy any Sony products given Sony’s behavior (including a very unpleasant experience back when I was reporting on Sony A7R shutter vibration), I am going to buy the Sony A7R II because it is very popular and covering such things is my business. And, as long the camera works properly, it looks to be a fine camera (albeit with the various flaws I’ve pointed out more than a few times). But I dread having to get it serviced.

Recently, I sent a Canon lens in for adjustment. I got prompt and courteous professional treatment, and while my unusual position in the industry may have made it go faster, I’ve generally heard very positive things from pros about Canon’s professional services group (CPS) —Canon “gets” it.

Alex R writes:

These kinds of issues with Sony service aren’t unique to the US either. Up until early this year I worked for and managed a camera store in New Zealand. A large part of my job was dealing with, chasing up and unfortunately often fighting with repair agents to get customer cameras repaired promptly and properly.

We sold a lot of Sony hardware and therefore had quite a number of repairs (not saying Sony cameras fail more than Canon/Nikon, simply digital cameras in general have a reasonably high rate of issues) and parts supply to a third party repair agent (who also ran their own camera store to boot—conflict of interest perhaps?) who would often have to wait weeks/months for parts to come from overseas. Any number of times cameras would come back DOA from repair or with some other issues.

Having said that, Fujifilm stuff was far worse, after dealing with their product I now to take their “handmade in Japan” to mean avoid at all cost, though their superzoom compacts were often even worse. Any number of their cameras came with problems out of the box, ranging from DOA to crooked LCD panels to one particular customer who in the space of a fortnight went through an XE-2, then I think 2 X-T1s before actually getting one that didn’t have substantial amounts of debris of some description under the UV/IR filter on the sensor. Personally, I had an X10 compact have its lens replaced 2 or 3 times before they could fit one that wasn’t dodgy.

Canon’s service centre was far from excellent but at least generally competent and with clear procedure, log repairs online, select your automatic proceed cost threshold, explain to customers clearly the process and the decline fees etc. and generally parts availability is not an issue. Plus at least Canon offers CPS which seems well worth it if you have a stack of gear and you use it frequently. Hell, even if nothing goes wrong you get more than your money’s worth in sensor/camera cleans.

Before brands like Sony and Fuji think they can seriously court the pro market they really need better standards of service globally. I know they make a huge deal about making “pro grade” gear to appeal to wealthy amateurs and weekend warriors but the vast majority of pros I know keep shooting Canon (mostly) and Nikon because they’re the only brands making real pro gear with some attempt at pro support.

Still, looking forward to your A7R II report, might just pick one up if it’s any good once Sony’s butchered the price/resale value with a million cash back and instant rebate offers…

DIGLLOYD: Yikes.

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Photoshop CC 2015 Rife With Bugs

I regret upgrading to Photoshit CC 2015. It has several bugs damaging to my workflow.

1) Moving a selection does not work. Or rather, it works with a 5-10 second delay, but it mangles the selection and the delay means no feedback and thus it’s impossible to use.

2) Grab handles from the crop tool are the grab handles from hell: they won’t go away even after a tool change, hitting the escape key, etc. Moreover, at times, a screen shot will capture the (invisible) stuff behind the Photoshop window!

3) Scaling to Fit to Window to results in a blurry rendition (this also is in CC 2014).

4) Various unstable behaviors (crashes).

5) Bizarre and unpredictable slowdowns.

I have the dual D700 GPUs in my 2013 Mac Pro with 8-core 3.3 GHz CPU and 64GB memory and 1TB SSSD. It doesn’t get any faster.

These are GPU-related bugs. Turn off the GPU to fix. I’ve long advised disabling GPU support because of bugs, but Adobe has been removing the optimized non-GPU code, so many functions are now turtle slow with the GPU off. We’re screwed: the old fast code is gone, the new code is buggy GPU-based code. Some of this may be Apple’s fault (buggy drivers that were problematic from the start), and some may be Adobe bugs. I don’t know. But the end result is the same: a disaster for work.

I’m going to have to reinstall Photoshop CC 2014.

Get a Brand New Leica S-E (Typ 006) + 70mm Lens for $11435

A little birdie tells me that if you call B&H Photo at (800) 947-6628 you just might be able to get the Leica S-E (Typ 006) / 70mm Lens Set for $11435 as a price match. Try it out. :) Let me know how you fare.

Or you can get it at Leica Store Miami as it’s listed in the online store.

But don’t be surprised if this deal is pulled, so act quickly if you want one.

The Leica S sensor is gorgeous, and I happen to like the 70mm f/2.5 lens quite a lot.

Leica S Typ 006 Medium format DSLR + 70mm for $11435

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series at 50 Megapixels: Moots at Barcroft (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

This series complements the Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View series, which shows superlative performance at distance.

In my review of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in Guide to Zeiss I show that the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon shrugs off 50 megapixels and has some room for the future at close distance also.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Moots at Barcroft (Canon 5DS R)

Example images are all up to 24 megapixels in size (with intermediate sizes also) and the usual large crops are included. From f/1.4 through f/9.

Includes both color and black and white images from f/1.4 - f/9. Who needs an overpriced Leica M Monochrom Typ 246 with this kind of superb performance along with the post-shot choice of tonal relationships. Wow.

Photographic Transportation Out There
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Reader Question: Diffraction

Henry D writes:

Is it true that diffraction problems are primarily due to the sensor and not the lens?

DIGLLOYD: not true—just the physics of light. Diffraction for any given lens and aperture is an invariant. The sensor or the film see whatever light falls upon it.

But it is true that a sensor with more megapixels will show the effects of diffraction more readily on a per-pixel basis—it is recording more detail after all. But in no way does this mean that the 50MP camera is less good than a 22MP camera. The 50MP camera records more detail to even f/16, avoids staircasing and aliasing better, etc.The 50MP camera at the same aperture records the same image projected by the same lens. It is an issue of per-pixel acuity that diffraction degrades. But f/8 at 50MP is *lot* more sharpness than f/8 at 22MP.

For a full frame 50MP camera, diffraction is detectable at f/5.6, but a non issue. At f/8 it starts to dull the image somewhat, and quite a lot of dulling at f/11. (JPEG shooters may disagree since most in-camera JPEGs are already marginalized for fine detail).

But more than fine detail is lost from diffraction; overall image contrast (brilliance) is dulled considerably; see the full apertures series for the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar; observe that contrast at all size image structures is hugely degraded at f/16 (lower at f/16 than f/1.8).

 
MTF for Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar
Graphs courtesy of Carl Zeiss

Here’s an actual series with on a low-res camera: imagine what happens going to 50 megapixels from 18 megapixels! At some point, stopping down is a net loss (depth of field vs diffraction) and the game is over.

AB comparison image
Actual pixels @ f/45 = mush
(Coastal Optics 60mm f/4 UV-VIS-IR- APO Macro, Canon 1Ds Mark II)

With a 22MP camera, diffraction is only beginning to be visible at f/8 (speaking in terms of contrast for very fine details for both on a per-pixel basis). But in reality if one takes that 50MP image and downsamples it to 22MP, there is no difference whatsoever in diffraction effects. The issue is that users of a 50MP camera are (unrealistically) hoping to get 2.3X as many pixels of the same sharpness per pixel. This cannot happen, at least not with the lens stopped down past 5.6 or so (on a 50MP full-frame sensor). And the lens must perform at a very high level in the first place, e.g., Zeiss Otus or Zeiss Batis.

Another issue that tends to confuse is the relationship between depth of field and aperture and focal length for different format sizes, and how those relate to the physical size of the photosite (pixel) on the sensor. See Format-Equivalent Depth of Field and F-Stop in Making Sharp Images.

Representation of an Airy Disc vs the photostie size on a sensor
(diffraction is much more complex than this illustration)

The core issue is the size of the blur circle (Airy Disc) vs the size of the photosite. That blur circle enlarges with stopping down. At some aperture, the blur circle grows larger than the the photosites on the sensor, and so the sensor then resolves more than the lens delivers (because the light is spread out by diffraction at that aperture).

For example, on both the 36MP Nikon D810 and 50MP Canon 5DS R, f/16 is heavily degraded, with destruction of the finest details. f/22 is awful**. Acceptable images can be made at f/16 on those cameras*, but there is a loss of fine details no matter how much sharpening is applied.

As shown at right, if the lens is stopped down too far, at some point the Airy Disc begins to exceed the size of the photosite. It is no longer possible to capture fine details in terms of the resolving power of the sensor. At ultra-degraded f/22, the 50MP Canon 5DS R will minimally more detail than the 22MP Canon 5D Mark III. But this has always been the case, even with film.

* Diffraction is complex (a series of waveforms), but a useful simple model is a blur circle size which grows with stopping down.

** Which makes me laugh at those captions in photo magazines with images that would have been optimal in all ways at f/5.6, but are instead turned to mush at f/22 and then published at a tiny size. f/22 is a great way to make a mediocre print even at a modest size.

See the following in Making Sharp Images:

 

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

FOR SALE: my Canon 5D Mark III and Lenses

Canon 5D Mark III $1700, in original box, etc. Excellent condition, low mileage (most of my shooting for the past few years has been done with Nikon and I’m not a high volume shooter in any case).

Buy it with these 3 lenses and take another $200 off the total.

  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $900
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $1050
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $700

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.

Get a Brand New Leica S (Typ 006) Medium Format DSLR Camera for $8995

I published various luscious Leica S images a few months ago with my review of the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH. The sensor is fantastic and the glass is the best there is in medium format, with a couple of readers expressing interesting in getting an 'S'. Moreover used Leica S lenses can be found at very good prices.

I’d like one myself, but I cannot justify the investment—it has to have positive ROI.

B&H Photo has the Leica S (Typ 006) effectively about $8995 (see the trade-in note; I take “any camera” at face value, e.g. any point and shoot, or perhaps the old Kodak 35mm film + integrated camera with prepaid development for like $7 or $8).

Update: B&H says this $5000 off for any camera offer was a mistake.

BUT: Leica S-E (Typ 006) + 70mm Lens Set for $11435.

...

Leica S (Typ 006) Medium Format DSLR Camera (Body Only)

Save $5,000 with trade-in (SOME KIND OF MISTAKE)

Trade in any camera towards the purchase of a new Leica S Body and receive a $5,000 instant credit. Call us at (800) 947-6628 to take advantage of this offer.

Leica S Typ 006 Medium format DSLR for $8995

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Aperture Series: Green Machine, Oblique View (5DS R)

Get Canon 5DS R and Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM at B&H Photo. The Canon ES-52 lens hood is optional and I’ve used the 40/2.8 without it, but worthwhile as a bumper at least.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

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, and it’s a very nice lens to shoot and carry. Just get one—you won’t regret having it handy.

This series is enjoyable to view, showing vignetting and bokeh characteristics as well as sharpness and the peripheral focus shift to be aware of. The 40/2.8 STM has a nice feel to it.

Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM Aperture Series: Green Machine, Oblique View (5DS R)

This aperture series from f/2.8 - f/16 includes many large crops as well as entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels.

Green Machine
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Zeiss Batis for Sony
diglloyd Zeiss Batis review

Sony A7R II: Is it the Death Knell for Leica M?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Leica M Typ 240

Mirrorless is sucking the oxygen of the room for the dinosaur DSLR, but for now I see Sony mirrorless as more of an existential threat to the Leica M system. (Actually, the DSLR CaNikon mount has a bright future, if only there were not a complete lack of imagination over in the land of the rising sun. Moribund, hide-bound thinking at CaNikon).

The pace of Leica innovation is very slow and making me very grumpy and costing me money too: Leica adds no value to the M over time, still has only a low-res toy grade EVF on the M240, no meaningful firmware updates (a few fixes for initial design errors and that’s it), a lens line often poorly suited for a digital sensor, manual focus only, camera lockups even in mid 2015 (MM246 and M240), sensor resolution stuck at 24M, service that is months long for some lenses.

Heck, 80% of the potential customer base that can afford an M (older and wealthy) probably can’t focus an M accurately to save their life—it’s an eyesight thing. I use the EVF at maximum magnification, but the low-res crappy EVF for the M240 makes this a chore. That’s why the new Leica Q is important to Leica, and it’s critical that the EVF and AF tech in it make it into a massively revamped dump-the-anachronism-rangefinder M line, yesterday.

Leica is actively devaluing my M investment not just with its failure to innovate, but along with a longstanding Leica M rebate of 12% along with huge oversupply. Leica M lenses have lost considerable value as has the Leica M240. I used to get 90% or so of the new price for M lenses, now they're hard to sell. When one buys a luxury product, the expectation is that it will retain much of its value. Leica is actively undermining that proposition, violating the longstanding expectations and in effect taking money out of my pocket with its discount policies. It eviscerates one saving grace of choosing M over another system.

Famed Leica M lens performance is inferior to Zeiss Otus, and I’d rate the Zeiss Batis as superior to the equivalent Leica M lenses in most all respects, and with autofocus too. And now with the Sony A7R II, one gets a delicious 42 megapixels of detail on the latest and best sensor on the market, vs an aging 24MP sensor for M. Game over? But wait, there’s more.

Sony A7R II with 35/1.4 Distagon

Sony mirrorless is now the weight leader for full frame

Sony is so aggressive it’s impressive. While I get grumpy over some crappy aspects of Sony physical and software design (and I’m baffled why such crap goes into an otherwise fine product), I have tremendous respect for Sony’s competitive chops vs the zero innovation at CaNikon and Leica (Pentax is doing some innovative stuff in the DSLR realm, but no full frame camera as yet).

The longstanding 'killer' advantage of the M system for light weight vs a DSLR remains, but consider just how low in weight the Sony A7R II system is (a little more bulkd but)

A7R II: 625g with battery and memory card vs 720g for M240 + EVF, before adding a grip
Zeiss Batis 25/2:   335g
Zeiss Loxia 35/2:   340g
Sony 35/2.8:        132g
Zeiss Loxia 50/2:   320g
Sony 55/1.8:        281 g
Zeiss Batis 85/1.8: 475g

Sony camera bodies have been sucky and still are in multiple ways: cheap feeling, poor ergonomics, crapware in the menus, rapid depreciation*, and so on. But the A7R II usability is vastly superior to the Leica M for many purposes: autofocus, high-res EVF, much higher megapixels, 4K video, programmable buttons to suit one’s shooting needs, etc*.

* Leica’s stubborn insistence on no customization is outrageous. As a case in point, only a single setting out of the entire Set button group is useful to me, and the video button is a useless wart with no useful purpose to me. This fundamental arrogance pisses me off to no end when using the camera, having wasted my time for years now (20,000 chimping clicks by now to get to menu items?). Sony has multiple programmable buttons and a much more quickly accessible set of customizable menus, so I can set the camera up to my liking.

Dan writes

Thank you for posting this. I really hope it gets through to the powers that be at Leica. It mirrors my thoughts entirely.

For me though, perhaps it's too late because I am for the first time seriously considering dumping all my Leica M gear.

I, too, am very frustrated with this company that has sucked up a lot of my money with the hope of them delivering a consistently solid performance upgrade with time. One that is, at least, in keeping with the much cheaper opposition.

The M9 was brilliant, the M240 was a side step, who knows when the next will come and I don't expect it to be much better.

I really need 50MP and I have no use or interest in a 24MP camera any more. Unfortunately I don't think it is likely to change for at least another five years. It seems this love affair for me is ending.

DIGLLOYD: Dangerous sentiments for the future of Leica. My advice to Leica is to abandon all the goofy collector kits (living off past glory IMO), dump the S line, and move all resources into a bad-ass new M-compatible platform while also extending the Q lineup.

Roy P writes

At this point, the game is already over. It is way too late for Leica to come out with the bad ass new M-compatible mirrorless digital platform. That window was open in 2010 or 2011. Instead of the greedy M9-P, the utterly idiotic T system (yet another mount and a system of lenses?!), the rather pointless M9 Mono, etc., they should have come out with a digital M, and started transitioning out of the RF.

But they squandered the opportunity, and I think it’s now too late. Leica has no choice but to stay within the Rangefinder well, and hope the frogs that live in that well will continue to stay in the well, and continue to be wealthy, status-conscious, and clueless. Venturing out into the general mirrorless market would get Leica slaughtered by Sony, Ricoh, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

The Q actually does make sense for Leica. As a “reportage” camera, a euphemism for point and click, IMHO, it is at least consistent with the Leica M DNA. They should take up your advice and do more variations of the Q.

I also agree they should dump all the idiot collector kits, although that might buy them some brand equity in the Oil countries and with the neuvo riche. But I’d like to see them develop the S system into a more usable and serious medium format camera, with a 60-80MP CMOS sensor and better firmware.

DIGLLOYD: Agreed on the T system, and too many products too ordinary with extraordinary prices. But the game is not over if Leica gets ther sh*t together and innovates. Leica will do just fine selling $5K or $7K autofocus super high performance lenses, which can be designed not for the archaic rangefinder system but for super performance on mirrorless. I have nothing against the S system (I love the lenses nothing can touch them in the MF realm), but the body needs work and a big price drop. As for the Q, the compromised lens with massive distortion relying on software correction really makes it a 20MP camera at best which is mediocre at best in the the corners and at the edges. I find it unacceptable in a camera that expensive. But Leica should add a 21mm and 50mm model to round out the line because at its core, the Q is a very nice little shooter in spite of the compromises.

Knut writes:

What about Pentax/Ricoh:

- They fork out a digital medium format (considered amazing compared to it's pricy‎ competition)
- They will add full frame very soon
- 4k time lapse is a standard in all their lines‎ (from APSC, full frame to medium format)
- IBIS availlable in their APSC (Pentax first!) and
- and full-frame line (in contrast to Canikon)
- In camera GPS astrotracer for long exposures of celestrial bodies (unavailable in any other mount)
- water resistant body and lenses since ages
- low battery consumption (especially helpful outdoors)
- all lines safe to use at minus10 degrees C‎elsius
- ‎Pixel shift in their APSC and coming full-frame line
- much more extensive line of lenses available than Sony (many new, but especially a slew of very good used ones. [some need hunting])
- Ricoh GR best value for money APSC ‎compact
- most flexible in camera‎ jpg engine
- one of the most flexible in camera white balances
(I HATE post processing ‎on a computer at home. A huge waste of time)
- one of the fastest frame rates in their respective category (8- 9 fps APSC, 3fps medium format)
- flexible moire filter through variable sensor shake
- 3mm shift with all their lenses through sensor shift (not extensive, but quite appreciable‎ when needed. I often have it on when photographing in the mountains or in town)
- very reasonable ergonomics
- above average build quality

DIGLLOYD: Yes, among all the other manufacturers besides Sony, Pentax is the only other innovated. That said, much of the above is not innovation; I take it as a given/requirement ( ergonomics, build quality, etc).

Medium format is hugely expensive, bulky and heavy, and in a realm of its own. Does the Pentax 645Z innovate ? Not much. It’s just another medium format camera, albeit a very well done one. Does it have pixel shift or IBIS or the other real innovationes noted above? No.

I’ve praised the Ricoh GR extensively. Love it. But it is APS-C with a fixed lens.

The Pentax full frame camera to my knowledge lacks a formal spec list and feature set from Pentax. When and if it appears, I expect it will carry at least the features of the K3-II, some of which are terrific and some of which drove me bananas in the field. Pixel shift on full frame should rock, but zero of my Zeiss lenses will work on it, and the Pentax FF lens line is very sparse, having no truly high performance lenses designed for digital, though possibly I am mistaken and there are one or two—doesn’t matter really, point is made. The Pentax medium format lenses have a few good ones (very few), but these are heavy and awkward.

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Sony A7R II: Where is Pixel Shift?

Get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Conspicuously missing from the Sony A7R II feature set is Olympus-style pixel shift, which in my testing can deliver roughly a 32-megapixel image from a 16-megapixel sensor. On the 42-megapixel Sony A7R II sensor, a similar technology would deliver ~63 megapixels, or maybe more like ~80 megapixels using a Zeiss Otus.

It’s a pity that Sony is not offering pixel shift, since it has Olympus-style sensor stabilization. Perhaps it will appear in a firmware update, but that seems dubious, since it is a terrific feature to brag about at a product release (and would be a first for a full frame camera).

If Sony does not implement pixel shift, then the most likely candidate is the coming Pentax full-frame camera, which utilizes the Sony 42-megapixel sensor (pixel shift already exists in the Pentax K3-II). And then one wonders about Nikon, which at the least ought to offer a Nikon D820 with the new 42MP Sony sensor, though we can hope for more.

Canon 5DS R: Corrections for Color Fringing More Important than at Lower Resolution

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

At 50 megapixels, the Canon 5DS R reveals optical imperfections that the 22-megapixel Canon 5D Mark III tends to minimize, the 5DS R having 1.5X greater resolving power over the 5DM3.

Even lenses with well-controlled color fringing (lateral chromatic aberration) may now need correction with the 1.5X greater resolution of the 5DS R vs the Canon 5D Mark III. Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R:

Correcting Lateral Chromatic Aberration and Distortion (24-70mm f/2.8L II @ 24mm, Barcroft Army Boxes)

Includes the uncorrected image along with the image corrected for LACA and LACA + distortion correction. As well as crops.

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Sony A7R II with Otus and other Lenses

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

For Sony shooters looking to shoot Zeiss Otus on the Sony A7R II with its vibration-free EFC shutter (vs the harsh shutter vibration of the Sony A7R) I recommend the Novoflex lens adapter with the Novoflex ASTAT tripod collar. If buying Otus, the Nikon-mount Zeiss Otus is preferred for its manual aperture ring (no electronics needed in the adapter).

Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens to Sony NEX Camera
Novoflex ASTAT-NEX Tripod Collar for Sony NEX Lens Adapters

Readers report that the v2 Metabones adapter has a much superior tripod foot, though it might have a conflict with a grip and it cannot rotate like the ASTAT (the Novoflex one is removable, but not particularly solid and so a vibration-free EFC shutter is important).

Metabones Nikon F Mount Lens to Sony NEX Camera Lens Mount Adapter II

Practical issues of lens adapters can intrude. Consider the three items below: the Sony A7R, the Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens to Sony, and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon.

While the pictures above are not exactly scale, they are close enough to make the point: a one kilogram lens attached to a lens adapter adding 29mm of extension from the lens mount places a large torque on the mount. The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar and 35mm f/1.4 Distagon are also large and heavy. Ditto for the Leica R telephotos at 100mm on up. This is bad news for any lens mount unless that weight is supported by the hand at all times—warped lens mount. Even 5 or 10 microns out of kilter means asymmetric blur, not to mention possible static sag even if the lens mount were of superman genre.

Hence the need for a tripod collar (which is not and cannot be particularly solid on such adapters), hence the need for a vibration free shutter. The Sony A7R II delivers that vibration-free EFC shutter at last. It is why I never bothered to test Otus on the Sony A7R; its shutter was so bad that it would not be a lens test at all without using very fast or slow shutter speeds—what would be the point of a combo that can never work optimally under most shooting conditions?

More below.

Sony A7R   Novoflex Nikon to Sony NEX lens adapter   Novoflex Nikon to Sony NEX lens adapter   Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon
Consider this “lever arm” (physics) and what it would do to a lens mount, temporarily or permanently (without using the tripod collar)

DSLR much less an issue, but still requires care

A DSLR mounts the lens directly, but with a lens adapter for Sony, the mount has to support the same weight 29mm further from the lens mount (31mm for Canon lenses). The lever arm torque with this arrangement is immediately of concern (sag), but there is a chance that the lens mount might ultimately be bent (warped). I can’t speak to whether actual damage will happen*, but it’s a lot to ask of a lens mount, and I don’t want built-in tilt when I shoot (lens sag).

This issue is already there with large lenses mounted directly to a DSLR; for example, even on a DSLR, I would never willingly tripod-mount my camera with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached (but an f/4 is generally fine, being much lighter). Leica acknowledges the torque issue for the M240 lens mount by detailing in the user manual the specific weights that are tolerable using the Leica R-adapter M: over those weights the camera + lens ought to be mounted using the tripod collar. And the Leica lens adapter is easily the most robust and best-built adapter I have ever seen.

* I once damaged the lens mount on my Nikon DSLR and it cost $550 to replace the mount. The damage (warping) is/was invisible to the eye, but caused asymmetric blur in every image I made.

Mitigation via tripod collar on lens adapter

The Novoflex ASTAT-NEX Tripod Collar can be used to which the Novoflex Adapter for Nikon Lens attaches. The collar attaches to the lens adapter, and that is what is tripod-mounted. This eliminates the stress on the lens mount by asking the adapter to support the camera on one side and the lens on the other; the lens mount no longer directly support the weight of the lens. This see-saw support is far from ideal from a stability standpoint with obvious stability issues, just as with Canon and Nikon super teles—same flawed mechanical design (vs fully supporting end to end the whole rig).

MacPerformanceGuide.com

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

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

I reported Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts one month ago. Leica contacted me about the issue, and I provided a DNG to Leica.

Today I received a brief note saying that the issue is reproducible on their end and that the behavior is being researched.

Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (actual pixels)
Black-dot-in-white-spot artifacts in Leica M Typ 246 image (200% of actual pixels)
Get the superb Zeiss Batis and Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
Batis 25/2 and 85/1.8 shipping mid-July. Pre-order now!
Reviewed in: Guide to Mirrorless

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series at 50 Megapixels: Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View (Canon 5DS R)

Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon
(Nikon mount)

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon in Guide to Zeiss I show that the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon shrugs off 50 megapixels and has some room for the future.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View (Canon 5DS R)

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

Snow lice can be seen to be crawling on the snow and building. Watch ’em move across the f/1.4 to f/11 aperture range! The crops include 1/3 stop increments starting at f/5.6 for a detailed look at effects with stopping down.

If you’re going to shoot 50 megapixels (or 36 or 43), shoot Zeiss Otus. Hardly anything else comes close and nothing is better. Well, some aspects are better than riding a mountain bike to 14,252' elevation with a tripod and Canon 5DS R and Zeiss Otus.

For Sony shooters looking to shoot Zeiss Otus on the Sony A7R II with its vibration-free EFC shutter, I recommend the Novoflex lens adapter with the Novoflex ASTAT tripod collar. If buying Otus, the Nikon-mount Zeiss Otus is preferred for its manual aperture ring (no electronics needed in the adapter).

Summit Building on White Mountain Peak, North View
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Zeiss Batis Lenses to Ship “Mid July”

PRE ORDER Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

I inquired about the Zeiss Batis lenses with Zeiss USA:

The Batis lenses will begin shipping in the USA in mid-July. An exact date is not scheduled and depends on when stock is received from the factory.

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.

 
Zeiss Batis lenses

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar Examples: Mary Lake + Mt Conness Area

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless I show additional examples with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4 Sonnar

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Examples: Mary Lake, Mt Conness, Sierra (Sony A7R)

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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

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.

The Zeiss Batis lenses are due to ship within a few weeks. My advice is to pre-order Zeiss Batis ASAP as they will likely suffer from the same Unobtanium issue as the Zeiss Loxia line (supply constraints, Zeiss can’t build ’em fast enough).

The Zeiss Batii together with the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon make a darn nice trio that covers about 80% of what one might need: 25/35/85 is an excellent range. Fill in with the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar or the Sony/Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar.

Speculating (and no inside knowledge here), I am hoping to see an ultra wide in the 18mm or 21mm range before too long. I’d also really like to see an 11mm f/4 prime and a 16mm fisheye, but these are not hot sellers in general, so my hopes are not high there.

Mule’s Ears, first flower
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Flighty Visitor
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Canon 5DS / 5DS R

Canon 5DS / 5DS R: sRAW vs Full-Res RAW Downsampled.

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

See also Canon 5DS R: mRAW is at Variance with Full-Resolution RAW in Several Ways.

Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show that sRAW is not at all like mRAW in per-pixel acuity:

Canon 5DS R: RAW vs sRAW

The analysis includes the full-res raw image downsampled to match sRAW resolution.

Also added is a discussion of RAW, mRAW and sRAW file sizes:

RAW vs mRAW and sRAW: Camera Cropping and Downsampling and File Size

The user of the smaller formats for saving space is a marginal idea.

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Each day starts fresh at noon CST with a new prize package!
ends in 49 minutes

Canon 5DS / 5DS R: mRAW is at Variance with Full-Resolution RAW in Several Ways

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show that mRAW is more complex than simply a crop and a downsampling of full-resolution raw.

Canon 5DS R: RAW vs mRAW

The analysis includes the full-res image downsampled to match mRAW resolution, and compares it to the mRAW in two ways as well as three large 3-way crops (RAW, mRAW, mRAW with extra sharpening).

There are other differences that one should be aware of. At this time, my recommendation is to avoid mRAW entirely. sRAW looks more promising but off to the fireworks.

How mRAW is done by the Canon 5DS / 5DS R

To make an mRAW or sRAW image, in essence the Canon 5DS / 5DS R crops the 8688 X 5792 image size to 8640 X 5760, which is exactly 4/3X the dimensions of mRAW and 2X the dimensions of sRAW. The scaling from full resolution is thus 3/4 and 1/2 to get to the two smaller raw sizes (after the minor crop), and thus the mRAW and sRAW formats are slightly cropped from full frame.

 RAW: 8688 X 5792 ==> 8640 X 5760
MRAW: 6480 X 4320
sRAW: 4320 X 2880

Leica Q: 14-bit files

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now published, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

Dynamic range looks promising—the Q looks to have an improved version of the Leica M Typ 240 sensor. Could an improved M240 with more features be on the way or some other interchangeable-lens M with built-in EVF and a new autofocus lens line? I would not rule it out, though Leica is slow to move on the M platform.

See graph from RawDigger below (highly recommended tool for any photographer for ETTR evaluation and more)—with a black level of 512 and values out to nearly 16K, the full bit range is utilized. How much usable dynamic range is there is not given by bits of course, but this is no 12 bit file.

The Leica Q files are uncompressed at 43.1 megabytes each, so these are 14-bit files (14 bits / 8 bits * 24 megapixels = ~42 megabytes + a bit of other stuff). Regrettably Leica offers no lossless compressed format in the Q (as is done on the M), which would on average cut the file size down to 25MB or so with absolutely no change to the data (lossless).

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Leica Q ISO Series: ISO 100 - ISO 50000 (Dolls)

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now published, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

This addition shows the noise behavior from ISO 100 to ISO 50000 in both color and black and white up to the full resolution of the camera (includes a crop for convenience also).

Leica Q: ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (Dolls)

These results establish baseline expectations for what the Leica Q can do under the best possible ETTR exposure.

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Leica Q: Initial Review Coverage

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

In Guide to Leica, quite a lot of review coverage of the Leica Q is now up, a must-read for anyone considering the Leica Q.

Review of Leica Q

Initial assessment reveals a Leica Q 28mm f/1.7 lens with massive optical distortion that results in compromised sharpness in substantial areas of the frame.

Also shown is a Leica Q f/1.7 - f/16 aperture series (Dolls).

Along with general comments and notes on usability and focusing issues and Perspective and Applicability of the Leica Q and more.

Massive optical disortion with Leica Q, uncorrected
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Retina MacBook Pro 13-inch $500 off
3.0 GHz, 8GB memory, 512GB flash drive

Canon 5DS R: ISO Series in Color and Black&White from ISO 50 to ISO 12,800

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

Presented in my review of the Canon 5DS R, I show the entire ISO 50 to ISO 12800 series in both color and monochrome.

The exposure was a perfect ETTR exposure, so much so that small areas are starting to blow out in the green channel. The red and blue channels are also very well exposed. No better exposure is/was possible hence this is the most favorable case in terms of minimizing noise; the full dynamic range of the sensor has been utilized.

This series is thus a definitive real world study of the kind of best results one can expect under conditions where there is a wide dynamic range and areas of colors that are more of a challenge (e.g., reddish and yellowish tones) and exposure is absolutely optimal.

Canon 5DS R: ISO Series from 50 to 12,800 in Color and Black and White (Cabin Interior)

Includes entire-frame images up to 24 megapixels (equivalent resolution to a Leica M Monochrom Typ 246) as well as four large crops, again across the ISO range and in color and black and white.

The results are compelling.

Cabin Interior
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MacPerformanceGuide.com

Leica Q Initial Comments

Get Leica Q at B&H Photo.

Leica Q

The Leica Q arrived today; its battery is charging.

I have not shot it, but just to show that there are wide range of viewpoints on what constitutes usability, I’ll cite issues I noted within the first five minutes (literally!) that are usage hassles for me (and maybe not for others).

Cameras get personal: style of shooting, the when and where and other particulars. A camera can be a workhorse (Nikon D810), or much more limited. When one has a strictly defined shooting envelope and usage pattern and type of venue, a camera with strict limits may not only be fine, but preferred.

Anyway, the “first five minutes” issues I noted:

  • Update: [I wrote: No way to cap the lens with the shade attached (nothing supplied). This is a constant hassle for me: stowing/unstowing while hiking, around neck/shoulder on a bike (dirt/dust in both cases). So I screwed on a Zeiss 49mm UV filter and mounted the hood and things will stay that way most of the time.] As 5 readers pointed out to me, I’m mistaken about the lens cap; the lens cash pushes on over the lens hood. The manual (page 149) makes no mention of this capability. With the Q I have on loan, the fit is so tight that I did not want to force it, particularly because it is threaded and I had thought these threads would damage the hood if I pushed hard. They do not; the fit stops short of the lens threads. It’s rather ingenious and I like it now that I know how it works.
  • Not chargeable with a car charger (12V); the Leica M240 supplies a 12V adapter for highly efficient DC charging; the Q omits this item and the charger has no DC-in plug—bummer. Inefficient DC-AC-DC charging only for the Q. Even USB charging is more efficient, since it’s DC-DC but the Q does not support that either (battery can only be charged out of the camera in the charger).
  • User manual: “Battery can only be charged from 10°C to 30°C otherwise the charger does not turn on". Well at 10°C / 50° F I may be riding my bike with only a long-sleeve jersey at that temperature—it’s not very cold at all. So when it’s near freezing or below freezing in the mountains, how exactly do I get the battery charged without idling the engine to keep the vehicle warm with the windows closed? When I want to crawl into the sleeping bag in my car, and sleep with the windows cracked at 40°F and maybe colder (I like it cold and do this a lot). So the thing won’t charge? I guess that means wrapping something around the charger (after warming it) and hoping that the charging process keeps it above 50°F. Probably will be fine then, and Ming Thein (see his Ming’s review of the Q) reports that his charger worked at 45°C. So it seems his charger is broken. :;
  • The supplied leather strap is too long for my torso, with no “give” and impossible to adjust length. None of my wide variety of straps can fit through the tiny lug holes. I often like to carry a camera while riding a mountain bike (strap over neck and under arm), if too long the camera won’t stay in position out of the way, and can bang on things by swinging around, or just be a nuisance in not staying put (think pedaling). Even for hiking, it’s just too long; the camera is less stable (swings more and can bang into rocks). This is not elegance; it’s bad design.
  • No built-in flash. This immediately makes it hugely inferior to the wonderful Ricoh GR for doing things like backlit portraits. Carry a bulky hot-shoe flash around that is awkward and unbalanced when mounted? No thanks. Did that with too many cameras—I’m 'done' with that kind of nonsense.
  • No grip. While there is a recessed area at the rear for the thumb, no grip = sucks rocks.

You see, all these things have some practical and/or personal aspect. So I’m going to have to think about as many shooting styles as I can (my own and others), and just present them. Because for some people they may be real considerations and “don’t care” items for others.

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Panasonic DMC-DM1P: a Camera that is a Phone, now in stock

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

The Panasonic DMC-DM1P camera-phone (vs a phone-camera as is the iPhone) is now in stock. See Apple iPhone is a Phone with Camera, Panasonic DMC-DM1P is a Camera with Phone. Note that it is an UNLOCKED phone that has a reasonably large sensor and 4K video and a retina display

  • GSM / 4G LTE Capable
  • North American Variant
  • 1" 20.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Sensor
  • Wide 28mm f/2.8 Leica DC Elmarit Lens

I’m pleased to see crossover concepts take their stab at it, but I’d like to see it taken further: get that retina display onto the back of a Nikon D810 and Canon 5DS R (built in). Then at least the big form factor gets a lot more visually appealing in one way.

Given that many of the add-ons for iPhone such as the Olympus Air at around $600, the price of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1P 16GB is in line with what such things can be expected to cost; the real cost of an iPhone 6 Plus is around $900 (without carrier subsidies). Still, it seems a tough row to hoe against the iPhone.

Panasonic DMC-DM1P
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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.

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
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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.

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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).

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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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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

 

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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Huge Selection of Drones

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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PRE-ORDER Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8
Micro 4/3, specializing in 4K Video features, ships Aug 15

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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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).

MacPerformanceGuide.com

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. The Canon ES-52 lens hood is optional and I’ve used the 40/2.8 without it, but worthwhile as a bumper at least.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM

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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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.

Update 06 July: Apple Legal has not responded, nor has Pawtek.

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
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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
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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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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.

Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thunderbolt 2, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K Support, Firewire 800, Sound Ports

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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.

Zeiss Loxia for Sony

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.

PRE-ORDER Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8
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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

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)

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)

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

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.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

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.

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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!

Zeiss Loxia for Sony

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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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 might 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.

 

Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

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
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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.

Our trusted photo rental store

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.

B&H for Everything Nikon
diglloyd Nikon reviews in DAP

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).

__METADATA__

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.

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

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.

Zeiss Loxia for Sony

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

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.

__METADATA__
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.

LensRentals Multi-Day Give-Away Goodies
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Leica M Monochrom Typ 246: “Black Dot in White Spot” Artifacts

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

Update 6 July 2015: I received a note from Leica saying that the issue is reproducible on their end and that the behavior is being researched.

...

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 (actual pixels)
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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Zeiss Loxia for Sony

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

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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.

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

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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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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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White Mountains Melt

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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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Get the superb Zeiss Batis and Loxia for Sony Mirrorless
Batis 25/2 and 85/1.8 shipping mid-July. Pre-order now!
Reviewed in: Guide to Mirrorless

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: 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.

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)

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).

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)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

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),

>>>>>>> 168fc9ba39d0c3bd8683075ab3f223757fd1387d

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