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Speed To Create, Capacity To Dream

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Sunlit (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo. Note that there are rebates on some Pentax lenses, including the 50/2.8 macro (limited supply) and 100/2.8 macro.

The Tiled Water Fountain scene evaluated medium range, the Map of the World example evaluated close range, and now this scene look at near infinity focus.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Church Mosaic, Sunlit (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/11.

The Pentax K1 blows away anything I’ve seen on this subject before. Even setting aside sharpness, the avoidance of color moiré is stunning.

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Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

This medium distance scene evaluates the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 at a common shooting distance—does it hold its performance at this range as well as at close range?

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Tiled Water Fountain (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/9. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode).

The Pentax K1 continues to impress—overall image quality is simply beyond what other DSLRs or mirrorless cameras can offer—fundamentally, they cannot, since images are all interpolted (demosaicing).

The resolution of grains of sand in the mortar and stonework, the reflective sheen on the tiles, the nuances of whitish water stain residues, the subtle detail in the brass faucet and so on: these details look more real than any conventional Bayer matrix sensor, which will smear away much of this detail.

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Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Aside: regardless of lens (omitting any serious duds), the Pentax K1 sets the gold standard for image quality. No other DSLR or mirrorless camera can approach the pixel-level detail, freedom from moiré and digital artifacts that the K1 offers in its SuperRes pixel shift mode (unsuitable for handheld operation and lots of movement and Motion Correction is a concern). I would rate the K1 as superior to the Leica S, and probably most all other medium format cameras. It is a major bummer that Zeiss is not likely to support the Pentax K mount, but Leitax.com will have a conversion option soon (Nikon to Pentax K). At the least, the K1 is a must-have camera for the still-life shooter.

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range; I explored that idea yesterday with the APS-C Pentax 35/2.8 shot on the full-frame Pentax K1. Reader Knut points out:

I'm not aware of another 35mm macro that covers full frame (Novoflex used to have one but it is long out of production and it had very poor contrast).

When shooting miniature landscapes (model trains etc.) using a wider angle is much more immersive. it allows showing the subject within it's environment.

The Pentax 35/2.8 may thus be interesting for K1 users for these reasons. But versatility is a big plus and so I was curious what it could do at distance. It is not uncommon for macro lenses to perform less well at distance, but a macro lens designed for APS-C shot at distance is even more of a challenge

Here the Pentax 35/2.8 Macro is tested on the full-frame sensor of the Pentax K1 at distance. Shot in SuperRes pixel shift mode for peak quality.

Pentax 35/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with UltraHD crops, all from f/2.8 through f/13. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode). Images include an overlay showing the bounds of the APS-C sensor area.

Like the map example, this example should be useful to both Pentax K1 users and Pentax APS-C users.

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Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of about 1:10 to test that case. Previously, I showed the same subject using the Pentax smc FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro as well as with the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 macro.

The Pentax DA HD Limited 35mm f/2.8 is designed for an image circle to cover an APS-C sensor. However, as seen in the Zeiss Touit examples (“Usage on full frame sensor...”), lenses designed for APS-C often have a much larger image circle than the APS-C sensor area, and good quality too, at least when stopped down.

I forgot to retract the lens hood for the first shoot, so I’ve kept that page and shot again, but with the lens hood retracted, for a useful comparison with/without the hood in use.

Here the Pentax 35/2.8 Macro is tested on the full-frame sensor of the Pentax K1.

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode). SuperRes pixel shift mode of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality. Images include overlay lines showing the APS-C sensor area as well as a larger area deemed usable on full frame (with some stopping down). The appropriate apertures and usable sensor area is shown.

Image below with the lens hood fully extended.

80-year-old map of the world
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Knut writes:

VERY interesting that the DA 35 covers full frame. I'm not aware of another 35mm macro that covers full frame (Novoflex used to have one but it is long out of production and it had very poor contrast).

When shooting minature landscapes (model trains etc.) using a wider angle is much more immersive‎. it allows showing the subject within it's environement.

Macro lenses in the 90-180mm range yield a perspective that is close to a tele lens in real life.

DIGLLOYD: Agreed—so many macro shots exclude all context.

Motion Correction for Pentax K1 SuperRes Images via Pentax Digital Camera Utility

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax Digital Camera Utility: Motion Correction

Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode records 4 pixel-shifted exposures into one raw file. The raw converter must then take those 4 exposures and (somehow) create an RGB pixel for each pixel in the image.

Camera movement is not tolerated, but if there is subject motion, the Motion Correction feature found in Pentax Digital Camera Utility can correct areas affected by motion.

Unfortunately, Adobe Camera Raw does not and is not likely to support Motion Correction, and its behavior with subject motion has no sophistication at all. What a shame to see the value of a camera system degraded by lack of Adobe support. But I pin the blame for that on Pentax: Pentax should have reached out months ago to ensure ACR support, if necessary funding an engineer to get it done. Put simply, it makes the K1 a lousy product, the product being the sum total of hardware and software.

This report explores Motion Correction with Pentax Digital Camera Utility. An ACR conversion is included for reference, plus three results from Pentax DCU: Motion Correction On, Motion Correction Off, single frame extracted from the raw file.

SuperRes Motion Correction: With and Without (Watch Seconds Hand)

Includes large actual pixels images along with crops. This 4-way comparison is really interesting to see just what is possible!

Below, a small reduced size crop shows the motion we are dealing with: the seconds hand moving during 4 X 2 second exposures in SuperRes mode.

Motion Problems with Adobe Camera Raw conversion of Pentax K1 SuperRes image
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Fujifilm Deals and other deals

See my Fujifilm X wish list at B&H Photo.

Fujifilm has almost all its lenses and many cameras on sale.

My top pick as both an excellent lens and a huge deal is the Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R. It is a whopping $400 off and now only $499. See my review of the Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R in Guide to Mirrorless.

View all Fujifilm X deals.

Fujifilm rebates and deals

Other Deals

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc P-D FA 50mm f/2.8 Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of 1:10.0 to test just such a case.

Previously, I showed the same subject using the Pentax smc FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro.

SuperRes pixel shift mode of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 50mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16. This provides a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera in SuperRes mode).

80-year-old map of the world
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Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them?

See my Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

Get Novoflex bellows and Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS at B&H Photo.

Recently discussed: Cambo Actus Mini View Camera and Novoflex bellows systems.

Bellows systems appear to offer view camera functionality when used with mirrorless cameras. When I say “appear” I mean only that I have not tested specific systems to see if the hardware allows infinity focus with DSLR lenses. I’m looking into it.

A bellows system a number of benefits to some kinds of work:

  • Extreme enlargement by adding close focusing capability.
  • Movements: rise and fall, left and right shift, tilt. (Some of these movements might not be available, depending on the system).
  • Focusing by moving the camera on the rear standard along the focusing rail, which keeps the entrance pupil in a fixed position for parallax-free images as well as a constant focal length.
  • A wide range of lenses can be adapted.

Bellows systems have generally been for close-up and macro work with DSLRs. That’s because a bellows system used with a DSLR camera and a DSLR lens allows closeup focusing only. For a macro or closeup shooter, the ability to focus beyond a few feet might be of no concern. But for all-around use, including use in the field, focus from medium range to infinity is a requirement.

With mirrorless cameras, about an inch of flange focal distance exists, and so for the same reasons Sony mirrorless system can take Nikon and Canon and other DSLR lenses (with adapter), a bellows system may be able to reach infinity focus if the interposed parts are within the required spacing. For example, the the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera reaches infinity focus with Nikon (Nikon, Zeiss, Coast, etc) or Canon DSLR lenses.

The mirrorless camera flange-focal difference potentially allows bellows systems to focus DSLR lenses to infinity on mirrorless cameras. Whether this is possible depends on the particulars of the bellows system hardware and brand of lens [Canon lenses have 2mm more flange offset than Nikon, which is why Nikon lenses can be used on Canon with a 2mm-thick-lens adapter, but not vice versa].

Continues below...

As shown below, this Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS is for high magnification macro work only because the bellows system inserts a large spacing between the lens and the camera. But if the camera were a Sony mirrorless camera, the situation changes. In this case, it’s unclear if Novoflex offers a Canon lens mount + Sony camera mount that is also electronically coupled. For this reason, Nikon F-mount lenses with aperture rings are much more interesting for all-around use.

Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS

Considerations in choosing a bellows system

Factors in considering a bellows system:

  • Compatibility: cameras bodies, which lenses, and whether specially optimized lenses are available for specific workflow (macro, architecture, etc).
  • Compatibility: Canon lenses, some Nikon lenses require electronic aperture control. For this reason, lenses like Zeiss DSLR lenses in Nikon F mount are greatly preferred because they have an aperture ring; the issue goes away.
  • Compatibility: specific cameras may have a body shape that don’t allow the camera to mount or focus fully.
  • Practical limits: shift limits may exist; the lens mount blocks cone of light at some amount of shift.
  • Whether infinity focus with DSLR is possible (with a mirrorless camera)
  • Size and weight: if hiking or travel is involved a system weighing 10 pounds is out of the question. The Cambo Actus Mini view camera with lens plate is about 1220 grams. The Novoflex system is also quite light.
  • Movements: does the system offer tilt and swing, rise and fall and shift? If so, which operations on the front standard and rear standard? This matters a lot to some uses, since movements to the front standard change perspective, whereas movements with the rear standard do not (think stitching and focus stacking in particular). A minor but useful point is whether tilt of the rear standard is centered or not.
  • Availability, service, warranty, cost.
General parts of a bellows system (Novoflex shown)

Specific uses: tilt for depth of field

Tilt and/or swing can alter the zone of focus to follow the shape of the subject, effectively making huge gains in depth of field for a compatible subject shape.

Canon TS-E and Nikon PC-E lenses offer a built-in tilt capability. A bellows system that offers a tilt feature effectively makes any lens into a tilt lens (and rise/fall/shift if the system also offers that).

Besides tilt and shift, using the rear standard to focus keeps the entrance pupil and focal length of the lens constant, which is the ideal approach to focus stacking.

Specific uses: focus stacking

With focus stacking, a change in focus is often accompanied by a change in focal length, particularly at close range or macro shooting. Similarly, a change in focus might also change the position of the entrance pupil, which causes a change in perspective.

A bellows system is the ideal solution for focus stacking because it allows focusing to be done by moving the rear standard (which has the camera attached). The front standard + lens does not move, thus the lens is never refocused after its initial focus setting, and thus the entrance pupil remains in a fixed position with focusing, keeping both focal length and perspective unchanging throughout the stack of images.

Specific uses: stitching

Shifting left right (or rise and fall) can be used on the rear standard for parallax-free images which can be stitched into one higher resolution image.

By comparison, stitching images with a shift lens (Nikon PC-E or Canon TS-E) causes a change in perspective, generating parallax—because the lens moves (the entrance pupil changes position). This wreaks havoc with stitching (try stitching the arc of a drooping wire between telephone poles!). The work around is a counter-shift of the camera within its clamp, which works well if one remembers and gets it just right.

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Novoflex Bellows for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony

I’ve collected all the parts together in this one wish Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

See also Novoflex bellows for DSLRs, Leica M, Leica S, including Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS.

See also: Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them? and Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony Mirrorless (or Fujifilm/Olympus/Nikon/Canon) .

A few days ago I wrote about the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera.

Novoflex also has a bellows system which can take Canon or Nikon or mirrorless cameras. A key distinction is that bellows systems have traditionally been ONLY for close-up and macro work with DSLRs, because the interposition of the bellows hardware does not allow infinity focus (when using a DSLR with a DSLR lens).

Novoflex has tilt/shift bellows for Canon/Nikon/Leica/Sony also (see Novoflex bellows at B&H). Rollei also has a bellows system. Some of these are relatively light and portable, and some are not. Also, movements of tilt/swing/rise/fall/shift capabilities vary. Although I recently ordered a used Nikon PB-4 bellows, the PB-4 cannot be used with mirrorless and cannot focus to infinity so it is for close range and macro work only.

The Novoflex web site is at best confusing, for example, not saying for whether or not infinity focus is possible with a Nikon or Canon lens when used with Sony mirrorless (the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera reaches infinity focus). All the right parts seem to be offered (e.g. a Sony mirrorless camera adapter), but the company does a poor job of explaining what works in terms of focus, and what does not. For example, the following omits what kind of camera is being referred to (presumably a DSLR):

For purposes were focusing to infinity (35mm and APS-C size sensor cameras) is required NOVOFLEX offers a special lens head by SCHNEIDER KREUZNACH (Apo DIGITAR 4,5/90mm), which is optimized for digital cameras. The focusing ranges from infinity to 1.2x magnification with 35mm cameras and up to 1.8x magnification with APS-C cameras. The lens head comes preassembled on the necessary adapter to start taking pictures immediately.

As yet I do not understand if a Nikon F-mount lens used with a Sony A7R II can reach infinity focus with the Novoflex system. Nor is it clear if Canon EF lenses can be electrically controlled when using a Sony mirrorless camera (it seems not).

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Pentax smc FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

A macro lens should perform at very high level in macro range, along with a flat field (strictly controlled field curvature). This finely detailed map was shot at a reproduction ratio of 1:10.2 to test just such a case.

SuperRes pixel shift mode (“SR-PSM”) of the Pentax K1 was used, for maximum image quality.

Pentax 100mm f/2.8 Macro Aperture Series: 'Map' (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Image sizes up to 28 megapixels along with large crops provide a detailed look at the “whole package” (lens and camera).

Images up to 28 megapixels with large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/16.

80-year-old map of the world
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Zerene Stacker for Focus Stacking

For the recent focus stacking example with the Pentax K1 and the focus stacking example with the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar, I used Zerene Stacker (available for Mac and PC).

ZereneStacker is impressively fast and straightforward to use. This was the first time I had ever used it for these examples, and yet I had each stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design. No touchup was needed for the examples noted above.

Zerene Stacker: stack in progress
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Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony Mirrorless (or Fujifilm/Olympus/Nikon/Canon)

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony

I’ve collected all the parts together in this one wish Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

B&H Photo also carries Novoflex bellows for DSLRs, Leica M, Leica S, including Novoflex Auto Bellows for Canon EOS.

See also: Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them?and Novoflex Bellows for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony.

The Cambo Actus Mini View Camera is intriguing.

  • Rear standard allows swapping out different cameras.
  • Infinity Focus with Mirrorless Cameras. Which means Nikon or Canon and many other lenses can be turned into view camera lenses for Sony or other mirrorless.
  • Support Canon lenses (lensplate), Nikon F-mount lens (lensplate), including “G” lenses. Zeiss DSLR lenses, Coastal Optics, Voigtlander, Sigma etc. Also supports Leica R lenses (lensplate),
  • Rear standard takes Sony/Fujifilm/Olympus mirrorless or Nikon/Canon DSLRs. camera such as the Sony A7R II. However, DSLR cameras will not reach anywhere near infinity focus (flange focal offset won’t allow it), so DSLR cameras are only for macro and close range work.
  • The front standard accelts (via lens plates) mounted Nikon F lenses (Nikon, Zeiss, man others) or Leica or Canon EF DSLR lenses, various medium format lenses, an optimized 24mm lens, or Copal #0/#1 view camera lenses. [Nikon or Zeiss lenses with aperture ring much preferred for the simple mechanical plate, since Canon lenses require the much more expensive powered lens plate]. DSLR lenses do not have large image circles, so shift possibilities are limited.
  • Because focusing can be done without the lens moving or refocusing by moving the rear standard (the camera), it is possible to make perfect stitched or stacked images which have no perspective change, no magnification change and no change in focal length. [the entrance pupil position and focal length must not change, yet those things almost always change when using the lens to focus, particularly at close range.]
  • Tilt and swing on the front standard (but not shift).
  • Rise/fall/shift on rear standard in focal plane (but no tilt/swing).
  • 1000 grams for the base unit, 120 grams for a Nikon lens plate, bellows weight (three lengths/choices) unspecified.
  • Exchangeable bayonets for Sony E-Mount, Nikon F, Canon EOS, Fujifilm X mirrorless, Olympus mirrorless, more. However, DSLR cameras will not reach anywhere near infinity focus (flange focal offset won’t allow it), so DSLR cameras are only for macro work. Use Sony mirrorless instead and the full focus range is possible.
  • Special 24mm f/3.5 lens for up to 10mm of shift (60mm image circle).

I’d like to try it out, and may give it a go if I can get hold of it.

From the Cambo web site:

The Cambo ACTUS is a new technology camera system designed for mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony Alpha 7 series & Fuji-X and available for Canon & Nikon DSLR’s.

It combines traditional view camera techniques with the latest capture technology.
Using view camera movement, the photographer will be able to be more versatile, be more creative and will be getting more professional results much faster than before.

Mirrorless system camera bodies can be used as digital back, while the Cambo ACTUS will function as tilt-shift and swing adapter with view camera movements for each lens that is being used with this combination!!

Size matters, the Cambo ACTUS has been designed to give maximum functionality with minimal dimensions to support portability at ease. The Cambo ACTUS is small and lightweight and fits easily in a small case.

A basic configuration of a Cambo ACTUS consists of a monorail, front assembly without lensplate, a rear frame with an optional choice of camera bayonet and a detachable standard bellows which is part of the ACTUS configuration.

Cambo ACTUS Specifications

Size L / W / H: 15 x 10 x 17 cm
Weight: 1000 grams
Front Swing: 360 degrees
Front Tilt: 19 degrees (+10/-9)
Rear Shift Vertical: 27mm (12/15)
Rear Shift Horizontal: 40mm (20/20)
Focus Travel: up to 125mm (Sony E-mount), up to 145mm (Nikon F-mount). up to 141mm (Canon EOS-mount)

Lens plates options: Copal 0, Copal 1, Hasselblad C Bayonet, M39 Leica thread, Mamiya RZ/RB bayonet, Mamiya 645 Pro bayonet, Leica R Bayonet (for mirror less bodies only), Nikon-F Bayonet (for mirror less bodies only), Canon-EOS bayonet (for mirror less bodies only)

Available Colours: Black anodised, Titanium anodised (option)

There is a special 24mm f/3.5 lens available:

Cambo ACTAR 24mm f/3.5

The ACTAR-24 is a lens dedicated to the Cambo Actus in combination with a DSLR or mirror less camera, mounted to the Actus. This lens is permanently attached to an Actus lens panel and has a fftocal length of 24mm. This makes it an ideal companion for landscape and architectural photographers. With a relatively light weight and a modest size it is easy to carry with you to location shootings.

The ACTAR-24 is a lens with almost no geometrical distortion. As the image circle is 60mm, there is an optically allowed horizontal shift possible of 10mm each side when using a full frame (24x36) sensor in landscape mode, and 12mm in portrait mode. When using a smaller APS-C sensor the shift possibilities grow to 15mm and 17mm. Of course vertical shifts have the same possible numbers in reverse order.

The optical design of this lens is a 16 element in 11 groups, of which all lenses are multicoated to achieve the best contrast. The aperture range is from f/3,5 to f/22 in half stop increments. Please note that the aperture is manual and there are no electronical connections available nor needed.

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Pentax Macro Lenses

Pentax smc D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

The Pentax K1 SuperRes mode is well-suited to still-life photography, hence a macro lens is a key part of the lens kit for the K1.

None of the loaner lenses I have on hand (15-30/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 31/1.8, 43/1.9, 77/1.8, 70-200/2.8) are any good for close range work (quality and/or focusing range) like the Ultegra cassette example, so B&H has kindly send me these three optics for arrival tomorrow.

I’m skeptical that any of them will perform as well as Zeiss macro lenses, but hopefully they will be reasonably good and perhaps shine on the K1 in SuperRes mode.

At close range the Pentax 35/2.8 macro might enlarge its image circle enough to almost cover full frame, as the Zeiss Touit lenses can do.

I’m facing a business challenge here: interest in my K1 coverage has not exactly been robust; I would characterize interest as 'niche'.

Very soon it becomes a financial loss for me to spend more of my time on the Pentax K1 system, when I could be covering more popular topics. I’d love to cover the K1 for another week at least, but I need to see an uptick in DAP subscriptions at the least, and preferably the “Everything” deal—that really makes a difference. Every/any current subscriber can login and upgrade to everything at reduced price.

One reader emailed to ask if I was going to review the Pentax 50mm f/2.8 macro or 100mm f/2.8 macro. There is also a Pentax 35mm f/2.8 Limited macro. I replied in a vein similar to the above—I can’t work at a loss for long; I have a family of 5 to support. So I cover what pays the bills or, sometimes, what I feel I need for general understanding of the market directions. The K1 so far falls into that latter bucket.

The new HD DA style lenses from Pentax are lovely in aesthetic terms.

Pentax HD DA 35mm f/2.8 Macro Limited

Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: Focus Stacking 'Ultegra Cassette'

Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

Get Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

Intrigued by the focus stacking results with the Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode using a mediocre lens, I decided to repeat the exercise using the Nikon D810 (which has no SuperRes mode) + the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.

The Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar is all but an Otus and right now it has a chunky $400 rebate bringing it down to only about $1722. The Zeiss 135/2 APO focuses down to 1:4 while maintaining supreme quality, which is why I used it for this subject.

This example still-life stacks 15 exposures from the Nikon D810, full frame.

Nikon D810 + Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: Focus Stacking 'Ultegra Cassette'

Full actual pixels resolution (from full frame) of 29 megapixels on the review page can be viewed with outstanding jaw-dropping detail on an iMac 5K.

Includes for comparison the first frame of the series to show the huge gains in DoF; toggle to see just how little depth of field there is at f/9, and how focus stacking delivers.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Cycling: I prefer Shimano DuraAce, but only Ultegra has 11-32 Di2.

Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette, 9000 series
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Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Availability / Lead Time for Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon for Sony

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

See my in-depth review of the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon. It is the best 18mm ever produced for full frame cameras and therefore a must-have lens for the Sony mirrorless shooter, at least if one likes ultrawide.

Zeiss USA tells me that the lead time for the about $1499 Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon is about 12 weeks, so it would be wise to pre-order one.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon for Sony mirrorless

PENTAX K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode, 'Ultegra Cassette'

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

The Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode is an ideal camera for focus stacking in the studio still-life photography, since Motion Correction with ACR is not an issue for still-life subjects, and all color moiré issues are avoided, and a brilliance and detail can be had that is not seen with any other DSLR (as of May 2016).

This example still-life stacks 10 exposures using the K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode, full frame. The SuperRes mode of the Pentax K1 means that micro contrast on fine details remains unusually good at f/13 with appropriate sharpening to counteract diffraction: see the 30mm mosaic series, Focus crop for just how good it can be.

The about $1296 Pentax 24-70mm f/2.8 was used. Apparently you get what you pay for, because the image quality at minimum focus distance at 70mm shows extreme aberrations. This is why f/13 was used instead of f/9 (poor lens quality). No other lens available at the time could focus close enough at the required distance. The Pentax 100mm f/2.8 WR Macro would have been agreeable, but was not available.

Pentax K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Mode 'Ultegra Cassette'

Pentax K1 pixel shift settings

Full actual pixels resolution (from full frame) on the review page be viewed at chrome-like pixel density with outstanding jaw-dropping brilliance on an iMac 5K.

Includes for comparison the first frame of the series to show the huge gains in DoF.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Cycling: I prefer Shimano DuraAce, but only Ultegra has 11-32 Di2.

Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette, 9000 series
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B&H Photo Now Has Breakthrough Photography Neutral Density Filters

10-stop Neutral Density Filter by
Breakthrough Photography

Breakthrough Photography introduced a line of high-grade filters in 2015, dubbed the “X3” line. See the in-depth description of the technology used to manufacture these filters.

Due to trademark issues X3 became “X4”.

B&H Photo now carries BreakThrough Photography neutral density filters and Breakthrough Photography UV filters, available in various densities and sizes.

The coatings on the BreakThrough Photography neutral density filters are outstanding, and the neutrality is far superior to other brands for the more dense filters (6 and 10 stop in particular are vastly better).

The latest versions have even better coatings thant the X3 version I reviewed last year:

Review of the Breakthrough Photography Neutral Density Filters

MacPerformanceGuide.com

PENTAX K1: Night Shooting Examples in Super Res Pixel Shift Mode

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Shot at night in part to explore performance of the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR.

But the area of interest here is sensor quality of the Pentax K1 for night exposures, and in general, with SuperRes pixel shift mode.

The examples show that the Pentax K1 is medium format quality, indeed superior to medium format in that it offers extreme sharpness free of moiré and aliasing effects (in SuperRes mode). The flip side is that checkerboarding artifacts are provoked by changes in lighting along (not just motion), so it is a dual-edged sword.

Pentax K1: Night Exposures in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode

Shot in SuperRes mode for all frames. Presented at sizes up to 28 megapixels with large crops and the ACR conversion settings.

Your jaw should drop in viewing the crops—no conventional DSLR or mirrorless camera can deliver this kind of image quality (extreme detail that is moiré and aliasing).

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PENTAX K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode, 'Pair of Pears'

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

The Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode is an ideal camera for focus stacking in the studio still-life photography, since Motion Correction with ACR is not an issue for still-life subjects, and all color moiré issues are avoided, and a brilliance and detail can be had that is not seen with any other DSLR (as of May 2016).

This example still-life explores a simple focus stack using six exposures shot in APS-C crop mode using the K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode. APS-C crop was used for depth of field reasons and because getting closer with the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art would have meant blocking the wonderful natural lighting (a 50mm or 100mm would have been agreeable, but were not available).

Pentax K1: Focus Stacking in SuperRes Mode (Pair of Pears)

Shot in SuperRes mode for all frames. Presented in both color and B&W at full camera resolution from APS-C crop mode. A frame at f/9 without focus stacking is included for comparison, also in color and B&W—thus this is a 4-way look at the results.

Zerene Stacker was used for focus stacking (DMAP). Impressively fast and straightforward, this was the first time I had ever used it and yet I had the stack done in under 5 minutes, a testament to simple but thoughtful design.

Full resolution on the review page be viewed at chrome-like pixel density with outstanding jaw-dropping brilliance on an iMac 5K.

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Ricoh Imaging Updates PENTAX K1 Firmware to Version 1.1

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax K1 firmware version 1.1 information page.

Changes to V1.10

• Corresponded to IMAGE Transmitter 2 (Version2.2.0)
• Correspond to PENTAX Tethered Capture Plug-in for Adobe® • Photoshop® Lightroom®(Simple Version)(Version1.1.0)
• Improved stability for general performance.

Pentax has instructions online at the above link. The update process is fast and easy (far better than the kludgy procedures of Sony and Olympus, which require tethering the camera to a computer).

The upgrade was fast and problem free for the K1 I have on hand.

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PENTAX SMCP-FA FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax SMCP-FA 77mm f/1.8 Limited

While designed for portraits, Pentax states that the 77/1.8 is applicable for landscapes and still life. Here we put “landscape” to the test: our subject is at a uniform distance, which is often the case for a landscape scene.

Pentax 77mm f/1.8 Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes + StdRes)

Includes images up to 28 megapixels and large crops, all from f/1.8 through f/9, all shot in SuperRes mode for optimal sharpness.

Also includes a StdRes shot at f/9 for comparison to SuperRes at f/9, which by serendipity shows Pentax K1 shutter vibration problems. This confirms a serious image quality issue (at 77mm!) already discussed in Pentax K1 Shutter Shake Evaluated at 140mm, Siemens Target.

I am dumbfounded that Pentax would use an EFC shutter in the K1 for SuperRes mode, but not offer the feature in StdRes single-shot mode. Maybe a firmware update will fix it, and maybe not. It is stupefying in its juxtaposition to the ground-breaking sophistication of pixel shift technology. How is it even possible for one camera to combine such contradictory approaches to image sharpness?

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PENTAX smc FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

PENTAX smc FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited

The Pentax 43mm f/1.9 is a “pancake” lens with 7 elements in 6 groups. The expectations should be clear: the 43/1.9 is almost certainly designed for bokeh qualities and compactness. It almost certainly has field curvature and some measure of focus shift. Thus this target is going to be about as non-ideal as it gets for the 43mm f/1.9.

Here is what Pentax has to claim:

The ultra-compact smc PENTAX -FA 43mm F1.9 Limited lens offers exceptional high-contrast, high-resolution optics with minimal aberrations. It features the acclaimed smc multi-layer coating to lower surface reflection, reduce ultraviolet rays, and deliver clear, high-contrast images.

Real-world results leave one’s mouth agape at reconciling the above:

Pentax 43mm f/1.9 Aperture Series: Mosaic (Pentax K1 SuperRes)

Also, Pentax 43mm f/1.9 Distortion, Uncorrected vs Corrected

Includes images up to 28 megapixels and large crops, all from f/1.9 through f/13.

The entire series is shot in SuperRes pixel shift mode on the Pentax K1.

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Pentax K1 + Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 SuperRes Aperture Series @ 30mm

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax 15-30/2.8 ED SDM WR

In my review of the Pentax Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR, this aperture series evaluates the Pentax 15-30/2.8 from f/2.8 through f/13 on a demanding target in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode.

Shot at 30mm, it finishes out the range; see the series at 15mm and series at 21mm. The three series provide a good impression of the performance potential over the zoom range, as well as showing distortion.

Pentax 15-30/2.8 Aperture Series @ 30mm, with Pixel Shift: Mosaic (Pentax K1)

Includes ACR processing settings, images up to 28 megapixels and large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/13.

The entire series is shot in pixel shift mode to critically evaluate both the K1 SuperRes mode as well as the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8.

 

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Pentax Digital Camera Utility (for Pentax K1 or K3 II, etc)

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Some readers have suggest using Pentax Digital Camera Utility for Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode with Motion Correction; see my previous analysis of Motion Correction with Adobe Camera Raw and Pentax Digital Camera Utility raw converters. Pentax ships Digital Camera Utility version 5.5.0 on CD with the K1.

Pentax DCU is a variant of SilkyPix, which if it does not get the gold medal for worst raw conversion software interface ever, comes in a close second, just behind Sigma Photo Professional. However, Pentax DCU (SilkyPix) does an excellent job emphasizing coarse and medium structures (though not fine details), and color rendition is very nice too. I worked with it for some Fujifilm X-Pro2 files and had exactly the same impressions—overall very good image quality, but lacking in fine detail rendition (probably sharpening algorithms). Which after all is one of the main points of SuperRes mode (fine details).

Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5.5.0 ships with the Pentax K1 on CD

My recommendation to Pentax K1 or K3 II users working with SuperRes pixel shift mode is to try Pentax Digital Camera Utility. It may prove acceptable or unacceptable—I have my own workflow and other requirements, but mine ain’t yours. For starters, I do not want to establish an entirely new workflow apart from from Photoshop/ACR, not for one camera. The same situation holds (almost) for Sigma/Foveon sensors, and Sigma Photo Professional is a major drawback that always costs me a great deal of extra (wasted) time when reviewing Sigma cameras.

I did try Pentax DCU on one of my mosaic SuperRes pixel shift mode images (from which ACR delivers the best sharpness I have ever seen from a DSLR on that subject). Pentax DCU 5.5.0 (the version shipped with the K1) delivers a soft image not even in the same ballpark, totally lacking in the fine detail and micro contrast that ACR is able to extract. However, ACR does not support Motion Correction and Pentax DCU does (or might, it’s not clear as yet if it does so or just extracts 1 of 4 frames).

I cannot try version 5.5.1 of Pentax DCU, because the Pentax updater to version 5.5.1 does not work on either my Mac Pro or on my iMac 5K. Note the “$19.95 weekend special” English translation, typical of the SilkyPix interface quality—this kind of sloppy work not inspire confidence (it’s insane—can’t they hire someone for a few hours to proof it?). As a professional, I do not want to work with this dreck. Actually, no professinoal can afford to—putting jobs on the line for slipshod vendor software support.

Cannot to find old version that is valid target of upgrading.Installation is cancelled. [sic]

See workaround below.

Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5.5.0 ships with the Pentax K1 on CD

Jay S writes:

If you rename an ext USB drive to S-SW160, the DCU 5.5.1.2 updater will install a full DCU app with no previous installations required. I had to use this workaround as my MBP has no optical drive. Did the install, changed the USB drive back to its original name, double-clicked the DCU icon, et voila! -- a fully functional RAW convertor for my new K-1, nearly as slow as Sigma's.

DIGLLOYD: well now, why didn’t I think of that? Thanks Jay! It works. The external drive is not affected, but a fresh copy of Pentax Digital Camera Utility is installed into the Applications folder.

Yes, it’s as slow as Sigma Photo Pro. Well, even slower with multi-second rainbow beachballs every few seconds. Unusable on the fastest Mac you can have (8 core 3.3 GHz Mac Pro with 64GB and D700 GPUs). Doing stuff suddenly moves controls from screen to screen, the image jumps around and is drawn half off the screen (I guess it doesn’t like a dual-display system?). Pentax Digital Camera Utility is an unusable steaming pile of dung*. And to top it off, the detail on my mosaic image with maximum sharpening is a blurry mess compared to what ACR can do.

* A summary of a grossly unreasonable approach to raw processing:
1) the program itself is very badly done in overall GUI, layout, appearance, spelling errors, non-functional software updater, and so on.
2) Pentax shipped a CD with with the K1 with a version of Pentax DCU that was non-functional for SuperRes mode. Moreover the updater was non-functional (see above).
3) Performance is all but unusable.
4) The presumptuous idea that the workflow used by a vast majority (ACR/Lightroom) should should have to be swapped-out for this kludge shows both an ignorance of professional needs and mentality that thinks only of hardware, as if the software were not equally important.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Pentax K1 SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode: Will Adobe Choose to Support Motion Correction in Camera Raw?

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

See my previous analysis of Motion Correction with Adobe Camera Raw and Pentax Digital Camera Utility raw converters.

The Adobe Camera Raw engine (“ACR”) is used by both Photoshop and Lightroom—different interface, same engine, same raw-file conversion capabilities.

Pentax K1 pixel shift settings

Therefore, if Pentax K1 shooters hope to use SuperRes mode in anything but absolutely still conditions with invariant hue and brightness of lighting, it is essential that Adobe deliver support for Motion Correction.

I’ve sent a note to Adobe asking this question and I hope to hear back a “yes”.

UPDATE 17 May: I’m hearing from Adobe that Pentax SuperRes pixel shift mode with Motion Correction WILL NOT be supported in Adobe Camera Raw “at this time”. I’m waiting to hear back if this is the official Adobe position. That is not a “never” but it is also not a “planning to do it”.

For me at least, this tends to be a deal-killer for the K1, since only completely static subjects can use SuperRes pixel shift mode, ruling out virtually all outdoor work.

Below, a crop from a Pentax K1 SuperRes file with Motion Control when processed by ACR. It is an unusable result and can be less bad, or much worse, depending.

Actual pixels
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Pentax K1: that Scratch from Sigma Lenses

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Mark N writes:

Thank you very much for your in-depth examination of the Pentax K-1 camera.

I noticed that you used the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens with the K-1 to take the Super Resolution Mode of the Dolls. I am waiting for my K-1 and plan to use that lens as well. Sigma has just announced a warning not use this lens with the K-1 because it might scratch the lens mount. Did you have any problems when you ran your tests?

DIGLOYD: yes, the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art is available in Pentax K mount at about $899, and it is a very fine lens, much better corrected than the Pentax prime lenses in that range. And so, a must-have lens for the K1. Optically, the about $1000 Pentax smcP FA 31mm f/1.8 Limited is not in the same league as the Sigma 35/1.4, a fact driven home trying to focus the two in magnified Live View: the Sigma is relatively crisp at f/1.4, the Pentax 31/1.8 a hazy affair, the Pentax apparently being a classic feel-nice lens, not a performer in any technical sense. The Pentax 31/1.8 is beautifully built, but it certainly is Limited (in performance and value).

The Sigma 35/1.4 mounts just fine on the K1 with no resistance or noise or any apparent issue at all, and that is the problem; one might never notice that mounting the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art onto the K1 engraves a thin cut into the camera body just above the lens.

The other issue is that the K1 defaults to APS-C crop with the Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art. That is easy to work around—just set the camera to full frame explicitly (not Crop = Auto).

Shown below is the 2mm scratch caused by mounting the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art onto the Pentax K1. Other Sigma lenses might cause deeper and/or wider scratches.

Scratch on Pentax K1 body caused by Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
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Pentax K1 SuperRes Res Mode: Motion Correction Feature with Adobe Camera Raw and Pentax Digital Camera Utility

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Updated to include both Adobe Camera Raw and Pentax Digital Camera Utility.

Whether Pentax K1 SuperRes Motion Correction works or not is a critical factor; if SuperRes MC works well, then the K1 thus becomes an eminently usable camera for landscape photography.

Pentax K1 pixel shift settings

But if SuperRes_MC does not work (or works badly), then the K1 is relegated to scenes (indoors or out) in which the subject does not move even slightly, because the risks of hyper ugly out-of-register pixellation effects are unacceptable, as shown below.

I’ve now answered the “works or does not work” question definitively for both Adobe Camera Raw 9.5.1 (595) as well as Pentax Digital Camera Utility 5 (SilkyPix).

Pentax K1 SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode: Does Motion Correction Work?

In the article above, I show the full image up to 28 megapixels, as well as several large crops, all with StdRes, SuperRes and SuperRes + Motion Correction.

Below, from Adobe Camera Raw, compare SuperRes without Motion Correction to StdRes (single shot mode). Support for Motion Correction is essential, but ACR does not support it, at least not yet. Pentax Digital Camera Utility does support Motion Correction however.

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Motion Correction is essential with SuperRes mode; here is what it looks like when not corrected by the raw converter:

Actual pixels
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Pentax K1 SuperRes Res Mode: Adobe Camera Raw 'Veiling Blue Haze' Bug Occurs with DNG Format but not with PEF Format

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

See yesterday’s post Pentax K1 Super Resolution Mode has Color Problems, Definitely an Adobe Camera Raw BUG.

Today, I discovered that the veiling blue haze bug in Adobe Camera raw occurs with DNG raw but not with PEF raw (PEF is Pentax raw format, an alternative to DNG).

This provides an easy workaround for now.

Not yet known is whether PEF format has any issues of its own with Adobe Camera Raw.

The veiling blue haze bug in Adobe Camera Raw behavior is shown below in a split-image comparison (SuperRes vs StdRes), as discussed in yesterday’s post.

Split image (StdRes vs SuperRes)
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Pentax K1 + Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 SuperRes Aperture Series @ 21mm (Includes StdRes Comparison)

See my Pentax K1 wish list at B&H Photo.

Pentax 15-30/2.8 ED SDM WR

In my review of the Pentax K1, this aperture series evaluates the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR from f/2.8 through f/11 on a very demanding target in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode, including a frame shot with/without pixel shift. Thus it evaluates several behaviors together under real world conditions:

  • Performance of Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR across its aperture range on an extremely demanding real-world outdoor subject.
  • Distortion of the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 ED SDM WR.
  • Comparison of SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode to StdRes.
  • Whether SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode has benefits at wider apertures.
  • Whether SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode eliminates any aliasing or moiré.
  • Evaluates the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8 thoroughly.

Pentax 15-30/2.8 Aperture Series @ 21mm, with Pixel Shift: Mosaic (Pentax K1)

Includes ACR processing settings, images up to 28 megapixels, and large crops, all from f/2.8 through f/11.

The entire series is shot in pixel shift mode to critically evaluate both the K1 SuperRes mode as well as the Pentax 15-30mm f/2.8. Also includes an f/11 exposure in StdRes mode for comparison to SuperRes mode—a nice real world look at the advantages of SuperRes mode.

WOW

The Pentax K1 in pixel shift mode sets a new quality bar for full frame 35mm images. To my eyes, I doubt that it is possible to better this performance at 21mm with any DSLR or mirrorless camera. And I’d bet it is superior to most medium format cameras (in pixel shift mode).

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