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Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH Aperture Series: 'Mossy Boulders in Pescadero Creek'

Get Leica 30-90mm at B&H Photo.

This f/3.5 to f/16 aperture series evaluates the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH on the 37-megapixel Leica S Typ 006.

Aperture Series @ 30mm: Mossy Boulders in Pescadero Creek

Includes entire-frame images up to 6048 pixels wide (24+ megapixels) as well as large crops across the aperture series.

 
Boulders in Pescadero Creek
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Steve K writes:

The Boulders in Pescadero Creek image to me just looks awesome; it has such a smooth tone. I am not sure if its the characteristic of the CCD sensor, Leica lens or both. Yet just comparing this image to others whether taken with the D810 or Sony, this S2 Image to me just melts on my display.

DIGLLOYD: Yes, the CCD sensor in the Leica S has a very nice feel to it, just velvety and luxurious. I had a similar sense of that with the Pentax 645D but the Pentax optics are not in the same league as Leica S lenses (and the price reflects that). I like the look of CCD sensors (though they have some clear limits on ISO and long exposures). It seems that CCD will soon pass away almost entirely, as CMOS takes over.

Full aperture series with up to 24MP images coming soon.

Deals: Canon 60D for $479, 7D for $750, Tamrac bag

for Canon 60D

I find these deals interesting myself, so I’m posting them for readers.

Instant savings of $420 on an $899 list price yields $479 for a Canon 60D.

The above with free expedited shipping too. Canon must really want to move out these models, since the latest model EOS 7D Mark II is $1699.

 

Tamrac Superlights Computer Backpack 17 (Tan and Brown), $70 off $99.95 = $29.95 with free expedited shipping. Heck at this price buy it for your grade-school kids or high-schoolers for a school bag.

Pentax K3 II: Out-Innovating Nikon and Canon

Get Pentax K-3 II at B&H Photo.

Pentax K3 II

Pentax deserves kudos for some very advanced and indeed unique features in a DSLR.

Features that the Pentax K3 II has that Nikon and Canon do not: sensor stabilization, built-in GPS, pixel-shift for higher-resolution images, HDR in raw, and synchronization for star movement. On just the GPS point, the add-on GPS units that Canon and Nikon offer are lame and awkward (they suck in practical terms). Too bad Pentax did not fill out the features with an optional hot-shoe EVF.

When this Pentax tech makes it into a full-frame camera, it becomes far more interesting and will provide a welcome technology alternative to NiCanon. But as per my review of the Pentax K system, I would like to see some very high performance lenses added to the lineup, and that is the real system weakness.

Perhaps more of a puzzler is why Pentax persists with only a DSLR when this kind of tech could make its way into a mirrorless system, even a fully lens mount compatible one.

Highlighting and red text used below to call out key features.

The New PENTAX K-3 II Builds on the Performance
Standard Set by Its Predecessor Further Refining Field Photography

Expanding on the K-3 legacy, the newly released K-3 II adds GPS functionality, improved Shake-Reduction (SR) technology, high speed AF and built-in ASTROTRACER.

Denver, Colorado, April 22, 2015 RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION is proud to introduce the PENTAX K-3 II Digital SLR; refining the ultimate field camera. Developed as the successor to the award winning PENTAX K-3, the new K-3 II shares its predecessor’s magnesium alloy casing, metal chassis, 24.35 effective megapixel resolution, 27-point AF system and approximately 8.3 frames per second shooting while adding an improved 4.5EV stop shake reduction system, new high-speed AF algorithm, GPS, gyro sensor panning detection and automatic horizon correction.

            “The introduction of the PENTAX K-3 II marks our commitment to providing photographers with rugged high quality solutions that exceed our customers’ expectations,” said Jim Malcolm, President of Ricoh Imaging Americas Corporation. The “magic’’ we add to our cameras through the motion-controlled Shake Reduction (SR) technology helps our photographers shoot for the stars and capture images in stunning detail; no other manufacturer is offering such a variety of features in a single camera design.”

The K-3 II is the first camera in the PENTAX line to incorporate Pixel Shift Resolution® for capturing still life subjects with ultra-high resolving power. Pixel shift technology uses the camera’s in-body Shake Reduction mechanism to move the image sensor at single pixel increments, capture 4 separate images, which are subsequently combined into a single high definition image.  Benefits include  higher resolving power, reduced false color and improved overall image quality of non-moving subjects.

Building on the PENTAX K-3 camera’s rugged dust proof and weather-resistant construction, the K-3 II features a built-in GPS receiver, GPS log and electronic compass purpose- designed to stand up to demanding location work. The GPS system records shooting location, camera orientation, altitude, and provides a date/time stamp tied specifically to your images; all of which can be transferred to a computer and mapped using services such as Google Earth™.

By combining the power of GPS positioning with in-body shake reduction mechanism, the PENTAX K-3 II cameras exclusive built in ASTROTRACER® features tracks and photographs astronomical bodies such as stars and planets. The system uses GPS and orientation location data together with magnetic and acceleration sensors to calculate the motion needed to synchronize the CMOS sensor with the movement of the stars; making it possible to capture stars as points of light rather than star trails during long exposures.

“The original PENTAX K-3 has been my go to camera since it was first introduced,” said professional photographer Kerrick James.  “Now with the addition of GPS, Pixel Shift Resolution, and 4.5EV stop shake reduction, my field photography is further refined and documented regardless of my remote location.  This ensures my demanding shooting style will always be met and will provide my clients with consistently high quality photography.”

The new PENTAX K-3 II uses the advanced and intuitive user interface common to most PENTAX camera products.  The system is compatible with a host of accessories including a versatile array of flash units, lenses, battery grip and interchangeable focus screens.

Pentax K3 II

Pricing and Availability

The PENTAX K-3 II will be available at retailers nationwide and at www.us.ricoh-imaging.com in May 2015 for a suggested retail price of $1099.95.

Notes

1. High-resolution images. The K-3 II combines an APS-C-size CMOS image sensor free of an anti-aliasing filter with the high-performance PRIME III imaging engine — identical to the one installed in the PENTAX 645Z medium-format digital SLR camera — to optimize the imaging power of approximately 24.35 effective megapixels and deliver sharp, fine-gradation images. It also effectively minimizes annoying noise generated at higher sensitivities, allowing high-grade, high-sensitivity shooting even at the top sensitivity of ISO 51200.

2. New-generation PENTAX-original shake reduction mechanism:
(1) Upgraded in-body SR mechanism to assure the best shake reduction performance in the K series—The K-3 II comes equipped with a PENTAX-developed SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism that can be used with any compatible PENTAX interchangeable lens.* Thanks to its new, high-precision gyro sensor, this mechanism assures more stable, effective camera-shake compensation than ever before, with an extra-wide compensation range of as much as 4.5 shutter steps — the widest of all K-series digital SLR models. Even when taking a panning shot, this efficiently controls the SR unit to always produce the best image possible under the given conditions.

(2) New Pixel Shift Resolution System to deliver image resolutions higher than the image sensor’s capacity. The K-3 II features Pixel Shift Resolution System,** the latest super-resolution technology, which captures four images of the same scene by shifting the image sensor by a single pixel for each image, then synthesizes them into a single composite image. Compared to the conventional Bayer system, in which each pixel has only a single unit of color data, this new system obtains all color data in each pixel. This innovative system delivers super-high-resolution images with far more truthful color reproduction and much finer details, while significantly lowering the level of high-sensitivity noise. Recorded images can also be synthesized, either on a computer using the accompanying utility software, or with the camera’s in-body RAW-data development function.

(3) Innovative AA filter simulator to minimize moiré. By applying microscopic vibrations to the image sensor unit at the sub-pixel level during image exposure, the K-3 II’s AA (anti-aliasing) filter simulator*** provides the same level of moiré reduction as an optical AA filter. Unlike an optical filter, which always creates the identical result, this innovative simulator lets the user not only switch the anti-aliasing filter effect on and off, but also to adjust the level of the effect. This means that the ideal effect can be set for a particular scene or subject.

(4) Supportive shooting functions. The K-3 II’s SR unit has a flexible design that tilts the image sensor unit in all directions. This is one reason why the K-3 II can provide a host of handy shooting functions, including auto level compensation; image-composition fine-adjustment; and ASTROTRACER, which simplifies advanced astronomical photography.

3. High-precision, SAFOX 11 sensor module with 27-point AF system
The K-3 II features the sophisticated SAFOX 11 AF sensor module with an expanded image-field coverage using 27 AF sensors (25 cross-type sensors positioned in the middle). The center sensor and the two sensors just above and below it are designed to detect the light flux of an F2.8 lens, making it easy to obtain pinpoint focus on a subject when using a large-aperture lens. Thanks to the combination of a state-of-the-art AF algorithm and the advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System, this AF system assures much improved AF tracking performance in the AF Continuous mode, while providing an extra-wide measurable luminance range (–3EV to +18EV).

4. High-precision exposure control with PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System
The K-3 II is equipped with the advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis System, which is supported by an approximately 86,000-pixel RGB metering sensor. This system is designed to optimize the camera’s overall performance, not only by controlling exposure with great accuracy, but also by utilizing the data obtained by the light-metering sensor to further enhance the accuracy of autofocusing and white-balance adjustment. It has also expanded the measurable luminance level to as low as –3EV. By detecting the type of scene or subject using the RGB metering sensor, the K-3 II selects the exposure settings that are more consistent with the photographer’s creative intentions.

5. High-speed continuous shooting with a top speed of approximately 8.3 images per second. The K-3 II continuously records as many as 23 images in the RAW format, or 60 images in the JPEG format,**** in a single sequence. This has been made possible through the use of several innovative developments, including: a high-speed, highly accurate control mechanism that regulates the shutter, mirror and diaphragm independently; a damper mechanism that effectively minimizes mirror shock; and a high-speed data transmission system incorporated in the PRIME III imaging engine.
**** JPEG recorded pixels: L, JPEG image quality: Best

6. Optical viewfinder with nearly 100-percent field of view. The K-3 II’s glass prism has been treated with a coating that is designed to improve reflectance for a much brighter viewfinder image. With a magnification of approximately 0.95 times, its viewfinder provides a broad, bright image field for easy focusing and framing.

7. Full HD movie recording with an array of creative tools. The K-3 II captures Full HD movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels; 60i/30p frame rate) in the H.264 recording format. It also comes equipped with a stereo mic terminal for external microphone connection and a headphone terminal. The user can even adjust the audio recording level manually and monitor sound pressure levels during microphone recording. In addition to a host of distinctive.

8. Built-in GPS module
Thanks to its built-in GPS module, the K-3 II provides a variety of advanced GPS functions, including the recording of location, latitude, longitude, altitude and UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) and direction at the time of shooting. The user can easily access images containing GPS data using a computer, to browse them, check on shooting locations and position data on the screen, or save them.  The user can also take advantage of some unique tools, including: GPS log, which keeps track of the photographer’s movement; Electronic Compass, which displays the camera’s direction on the camera’s LCD monitor; and ASTROTRACER, which simplifies the tracing and photographing of celestial bodies by coupling GPS data with the camera’s SR mechanism.

9. Large, easy-to-view 3.2-inch LCD monitor with approximately 103,700 dots
On its back panel, the K-3 II features a 3.2-inch high-resolution LCD monitor with approximately 103,700 dots and a 3:2 aspect ratio. In addition to its wide-view design, this monitor also has a protective tempered-glass front panel for added durability, and a unique air-gapless construction in which the air space between LCD layers is eliminated to effectively reduce the reflection and dispersion of light for improved visibility during outdoor shooting.

10. Compact, solid body with dustproof, weather-resistant construction
The K-3 II’s exterior casing, consisting of top and bottom panels and front and back frames, is made of sturdy yet lightweight magnesium alloy. Thanks to the inclusion of 92 sealing parts in the body, it boasts a dustproof, weather-resistant and cold-resistant construction, assuring solid operation at temperatures as low as –10°C. It also features a dependable, durable shutter unit that withstands 200,000 shutter releases. Despite all these features, the K-3 II has been designed to be compact and maneuverable, assuring remarkable operability and swift response in the field.

11. Other features
・Dual SD card slots for memory card flexibility (compatible with SDXC UHS-1 speed class in SDR104 buss speed mode)
Smartphone-support functions using the optional FLUCARD FOR PENTAX 16GB
・Top-grade DRII (Dust Removal II) mechanism for effective elimination of dust on the image sensor using ultrasonic vibration
HDR (High Dynamic Range) shooting mode with RAW-format data filing
・PENTAX-invented hyper control system for quick, accurate response to the photographer’s creative intentions
・Model dial with a choice of lock mechanism engagement (ON or OFF)
Compensation of various parameters: lens distortion, lateral chromatic aberration, diffraction, brightness level at image-field edges, and fringe effect (available in RAW-format processing only)
・The latest version of Digital Camera Utility 5 software is included

Lens Shock Testing

 
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In regards to an email comment from a reader on the right side softness with the Sony 35mm f/1.4 Distagon test lens (bad sample) and possible issues from shipping, I asked Zeiss about whether lenses could “go bad” in transit, e.g., while if dropped off the UPS truck.

Obviously, that specific question is not one that Zeiss or any other company can directly address for any particular lens or scenario described in email, but there are protocols for durability.

Protocols for testing shock to a lens

Here, note that the “dedicated box” would also be inside a shipping box, further reducing g-force issues. It seems rather unlikely that a lens could “go bad” by being shipped via UPS or FedEx, especially if no signs whatsoever are seen of any crushing of the box. Hence my feeling that the bad sample I received came that way from the factory.

We run tests of lenses in shipping conditions to check the design of the dedicated box.

The lens should withstand the following “torture” without an issue:

  • Endurance shocks: 10 g / 6 ms ; 1000 shocks per axis and direction ; Standard: ISO 9022 Series -3 -31 -01
  • Bouncing: 1.1 g ; 10 min per side / total of 60 min; Standard: ISO 9022 Series -3 -34 -02
  • Free fall: 1.0 m drop height, 2 times per side; Standard: ISO 9022 Series -3 -33 -06

We do not run tests with Zeiss-branded products which are distributed by SONY, but they certainly apply similar standards.

Of course this can never guarantee to 100% that nothing harmful can happen to the product.

Zeiss Batis Lenses for Sony Fullframe Mirrorless (A7x series)

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Keeping with the bird species naming (Otus to start), the Batis line now debuts. Personally, I’m eagerly awaiting the Vulture line for Nikon and Canon. :;

I should have the two new Batis lenses in for testing in May, coverage to go into Guide to Mirrorless, since the native platform is Sony mirrorless.

The Batis lenses include the lens hood, lens case, and carry a two-year warranty, which is double the one-year warranty offered by most vendors.

Zeiss already has the Zeiss Loxia line, which is manual focus line targeted after those who want to zone focus, and videographers who want manual focus and iris control. The Batis line targets applications suited for AF, such as wedding, event and general prosumer use.

  Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2   Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and 85mm f/1.8 for Sony A7 series

New Full-Frame Autofocus Lenses from ZEISS: ZEISS Batis 2/25 and ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 – Designed for Sony A7 camera series

The ZEISS Batis 2/25 and ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 are the first full-frame autofocus lenses for Sony's E-mount cameras to be exclusively developed and distributed by ZEISS. This new family of lenses is particularly suited for the use with Sony's alpha range of mirrorless full-frame system cameras. The two new lenses will be shipping in July 2015.

"The Batis family of lenses is the first time we have launched autofocus lenses for Sony's full-frame E-mount cameras which are ZEISS through and through – in other words exclusively developed and distributed by us," says Dr. Michael Pollmann, Product Manager at ZEISS Camera Lenses. The Sony alpha full-frame E-mount system, which currently consists of the a7 family of cameras, is one of the most innovative camera systems on the market and is becoming an increasingly popular choice for professionals and people considering switching from DSLRs. "The ZEISS Batis lenses are our way of acknowledging this trend and providing creative and ambitious photographers with the expert tools they need," says Pollmann.

Available this summer - The ZEISS Batis 2/25 and 1.8/85 lenses will be available for purchase in April and start shipping in July 2015. The recommended retail prices are $1,299 for the ZEISS Batis 2/25 and $1,199 for the ZEISS Batis 1.8/85.

For more information please visit: www.zeiss.com/photo

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2

 
Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 for Sony A7 series

Pairing the tested Distagon concept with contemporary functionality, the Batis 25mm f/2 Lens from Zeiss is a wide-angle prime designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras. The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance. Four double-sided aspherical elements within a floating elements design help to control aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing range and contribute to even edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination, and a T* anti-reflective coating reduces flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color neutrality. Ideal for architecture, landscape, and interior photography, this lens' 82° angle of view pairs with a 7.9" minimum focusing distance for producing creative perspectives and unique close-up imagery. Additionally, for working in inclement conditions, the lens also features a dust- and weather-sealed construction.

  • This versatile wide-angle lens is designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless digital cameras and can also be used on APS-C-sized E-mount cameras, where it will provide a 37.5mm equivalent focal length.
  • Bright f/2 maximum aperture benefits working in low-light conditions and also offers control over the focus position when using selective focus or shallow depth of field techniques.
  • Distagon optical concept incorporates 10 glass elements within 8 groups and also employs a floating elements design to reduce aberrations throughout the focusing range. Four of the elements feature a double-sided aspherical design, too, for consistent edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination, as well as reduced distortion.
  • Zeiss T* anti-reflective coatings have been applied to each lens surface to help minimize reflections in order to provide greater image clarity, contrast and color fidelity.
  • Integrated OLED display on the top of the lens shows the distance of the focal plane from the camera as well as the depth of field range for quickly recognizing the parameters of focus in use, even when working in low-light conditions.
  • Linear motors benefit the autofocus performance of the lens and provide smooth, fast, and quiet operation. For manual focusing, a rubberized ring offers greater tactile control for precise placement of focus.
  • Dust and weather-sealed construction benefits using the lens in inclement shooting conditions.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

 
Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 for Sony A7 series

Updating a tried-and-true optical design for use with full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens from Zeiss is a portrait-length, short telephoto lens featuring a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture for greater focus control and enhanced low-light shooting.

The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance.

Pairing the Sonnar concept with a floating elements design, this 85mm f/1.8 is also particularly adept at controlling aberrations throughout the focusing range, while a T* anti-reflective coating minimizes flare and ghosting for ensured color accuracy and heightened contrast. Rounding out the feature-set, this lens incorporates optical image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working with slower shutter speeds and a dust- and weather-sealed construction lends itself to shooting in less-than-ideal environments.

  • An ideal portrait-length lens, this short telephoto has been designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless digital cameras. It can also be used on APS-C-sized E-mount cameras where it will provide a 127.5mm equivalent focal length.
  • Fast f/1.8 maximum aperture benefits working in low-light conditions and also offers extensive control over depth of field for selective focus applications.
  • Sonnar optical concept incorporates 11 glass elements within 8 groups and also employs a floating elements design to reduce aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing range.
  • Zeiss T* anti-reflective coatings have been applied to each lens surface to help minimize reflections in order to provide greater image clarity, contrast, and color fidelity.
  • Integrated OLED display on the top of the lens shows the distance of the focal plane from the camera as well as the depth of field range for quickly recognizing the parameters of focus in use, even when working in low-light conditions.
  • Optical image stabilization helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting.
  • Linear motors benefit the autofocus performance of the lens and provide smooth, fast, and quiet operation. For manual focusing, a rubberized ring offers greater tactile control for precise placement of focus.
  • Dust and weather-sealed construction benefits using the lens in inclement shooting conditions.

Leica S with the 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH

Get Leica 30-90mm at B&H Photo.

A local friend loaned me his Leica S system, so I went out and shot some material with the Leica 30-90mm f/3.5-5.6 Vario-Elmar-S ASPH (and some with the 180/3.5).

The 30-90mm is a lens I hear about from some Leica S shooters as one that works great as an all-arounder and is good for travel, being about the same size as its fixed focal length siblings. Personally, I’d find a kit consisting of the Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH and the 30-90mm all but complete for most practical outdoor shooting purposes.

The S system is way out of my price range, but part of having a broad range of perspective is shooting everything from the Ricoh GR and various mirrorless cameras to the Hy6 Mod 2 and the Leica S, and everything in between.

Focusing the 30-9mm at dusk with its f/3.5 to f/5.6 aperture is no cakewalk (well, all but impossible by eye), but the autofocus seemed to work accurately, judging by a quick look at the files.

The CCD sensor in the Leica S is lovely as one might expect, and results for black and white conversions are first rate too (toggle the image below).

I’ll be posting some material from the 30-90mm in Guide to Leica with the intent of it being a practical reference for what one can expect from the lens, how much stopping down is needed for realistic depth of field, etc. I may post some suggestions on processing the files, sharpening to mitigate diffraction, etc (depending on interest).

 
Boulders in Pescadero Creek
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Steve K writes:

The Boulders in Pescadero Creek image to me just looks awesome; it has such a smooth tone. I am not sure if its the characteristic of the CCD sensor, Leica lens or both. Yet just comparing this image to others whether taken with the D810 or Sony, this S2 Image to me just melts on my display.

DIGLLOYD: Yes, the CCD sensor in the Leica S has a very nice feel to it, just velvety and luxurious. I had a similar sense of that with the Pentax 645D but the Pentax optics are not in the same league as Leica S lenses (and the price reflects that). I like the look of CCD sensors (though they have some clear limits on ISO and long exposures). It seems that CCD will soon pass away almost entirely, as CMOS takes over.

Full aperture series with up to 24MP images coming soon.

Deals: Technics RP-DH1250-S Headphones with iPhone mic

  Mt Conness Glacier Remnants Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6

A few weeks ago I wrote about ordering Sennheiser earbud headphones to address an Ulnar nerve issue that is aggravated by crooking my arm to hold the phone.

Those Sennheiser earbuds are working well and fit comfortably.

But I’m curious whether an alternative over-ear solution might work better, so I just ordered the Technics RP-DH1250-S DJ Headphones, my purchase being incited by the whopping $190 off the $269 price for a sale price of $79.99 with free expedited shipping.

Deals: Lexar 4-pack 1066X Compact Flash, Lenovo Laptop, Datacolor Spyder

$200 off Lenovo Edge 15 Multi-Mode FHD 15.6" 2-in-1 Touchscreen Notebook Computer (refurbished by Lenovo)

4-pack of Lexar 1066X 32GB Compact Flash cards $40 off ($50 each) or 2-pack for ($60 each).

Datacolor Spyder4PRO Display Calibration System$60 off

Nikon 20mm f/1.8G ED Aperture Series: Pine Lake Peak, Last Kiss of Sunlight

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

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

In my review of the Nikon 20/1.8G in DAP, this aperture series complements the others, but is particularly good at showing the field curvature characteristics of the Nikon AF-S 20mm f/1.8G. Understanding this behavior can help greatly in optimizing the focus position for a subject.

Nikon 20/1.8G Aperture Series: Pine Lake Peak, Last Kiss of Sunlight

Includes the ƒ/1.8 - ƒ/16 aperture range in HD and UltraHD sizes in up to 6048 pixels wide (24 megapixels).

At about $797, the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G is perhaps Nikon’s best wide angle at a very reasonable price.

This scene is a testament to the stunning dynamic range of the Nikon D810; major contrast control “yanks” were used here to render the very dark shaded areas to the sunlit peaks. A gradient neutral density filter would have yielded a rather fake looking image seen all too commonly. The D810 all but dispsenses with the need for HDR for any semi reasonable scene.

It’s a solid hike up to this area and hopefully the photo communicates to some degree just how spectacular the area is. With iced-over puddles in the shadows, spawning trout in the shallows of the lake, and about 4 (total) hikers gone by over the afternoon, how can this late autumn experience be bettered? I like this stuff. Starting down starting at dusk (who wants to leave while the sun is up?), my trusty Lupine headlamp lit the way a few thousand vertical feet back down to “home” (sleeping in my SUV).

  Mt Conness Glacier Remnants Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 20mm f/1.8G ED @ ƒ/5.6
Last Kiss of Sunlight on Pine Lake Peak
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar Aperture Series “Sunstar Aspen”

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

This scene shows a number of behaviors: bokeh, flare, sunstars, color saturation into a bright light source.

Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar: Sunstar Aspen (Sony A7R)

With HD and UltraHD images and large crops from f/2 through f/16.

 
Quaking Aspen and Sunstar
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Deal: Shoulder Bag for $19

A shoulder bag for $18.99 ($36 off) and free shipping is worth a look if this kind of bag suits your working style. Two other variants/models also discounted. Deal good for 24 hours from this post.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Examples at f/1.4 (Pescadero Creek, Sony A7R)

Get Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA

In my review of the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA in Guide to Mirrorless are published a number of examples at f/1.4 using the bad sample previously discussed.

The images are shown in part as an aid to understanding the asymmetric blur that can result from a lens that is “off”.

And yet the overall look of the images is still worthwhile in getting a feel for the rendering style, which is very nice, with high contrast overall, similar to its FE 35/2.8 Sonnar and FE 55/1.8 Sonnar siblings.

Examples at f/1.4, Bad Sample Lens (Pescadero Creek, A7R)

Aperture series showing and discussing lens performance with stopping down

Sizes up to 6048 wide are included for examination (24 megapixels). Commentary on each image is made, including evaluation of the correction for chromatic aberrations.

The 35/1.4 Distagon is going back to be exchanged for another sample, along with the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon and the Sony 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar for some comparisons.

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UPDATE: I’ve added an aperture series showing and discussing lens performance with stopping down, analyzing how much stopping down is needed ot overcome the right side blur.

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Don’t Confuse Focusing Distance with Reproduction Ratio aka Magnification

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

See my review of the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art in DAP (covered on both Nikon and Canon.

Damian S writes:

Thanks to you I am now on the waiting list for the new Sigma 24mm for Nikon.

I wanted to give you one thought: I was an early adopter of the Nikon 24/1.4 and I've always really liked it. I found it's image quality unique in being able to get a nice narrow DOF because of the fast aperture and the *close focusing distance*.

Looking at the specs of the new Sigma vs. the Nikon 24/1.4G can focus approx 6 inches closer. This *may* be a game changer and may make the Sigma unable to replace my favorite feature of the Nikon - we'll see. I also wonder if your Nikon 24 is exceptional in its bad focus shift: mine seems fine but certainly I haven't tested as you have.

DIGLLOYD: First, focus shift is a property of lens design and while it can vary slightly due to build variances, it does not fundamentally change (again barring some serious quality control problems). However, focus shift can vary quite a lot by focusing distance, particularly at close range, e.g., for a lens poorly corrected for spherical aberration when focused at close range.

The way to test for focus shift at close range is with a ruler as I showed in my comparison; that makes it obvious if present. At distance, it’s harder but a suitable outdoor subject can make it easy. For an example that’s more subtle see in Guide to Leica the Aperture Series: 35/1.4 — Glacial Erratics (M240). See also the case studies of focus shift in MSI.

Focusing distance vs reproduction ratio—Nikon and Canon and other vendors often play focal length shortening tricks at close range in order to maintain a constant aperture. So a 60mm lens might actually have a 45mm focal length at close range, ditto for a 24mm that could be 20mm at close range (this change can be a usability headache if implemented in a macro lens). Thus, close-focusing *distance* is not a useful metric because the focal length might be reduced. And it is misleading (and silly) for a vendor to list this figure without specifying actual focal length and free working distance from the front lens element.

See also Real vs Actual Focal Length — Breathing and Comparison: Actual Focal Length at Close Range.

Rather, one must look at reproduction ratio aka magnification. For example, a reproduction ratio of 1:5 means that 1mm on the sensor captures 5mm of the real-life object.

The Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art has a specified reproduction ratio of 1:5.3 while the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G is specified at 0.179X = 1:5.6. Hence assuming accurate specifications, the Sigma delivers an image at greater magnification (which might actually occur at a greater physical distance!). Note that free working distance to front element or lens hood can be critical for lighting in particular.

       
Sigma 24/1.4 DG HSM Art and Nikon AF-S 24/1.4G

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Quality Control Issues, Right Side Blur at f/1.4

Get Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA

See my review of the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA in Guide to Mirrorless.

When Sony released the FE 35mm f/2.8 Sonnar and 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar for the A7 series, there were various reports of quality control issues, some I read of and some reported to me by readers. Such things are rather common with most brands.

I am disappointed to report that after shooting the new FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon extensively on many different scenes this evening, one consistent issue emerged with the test sample in every scene I shot: at f/1.4, the lens could not make a sharp image on the right 1/3 of the frame, even as the center and left sides delivered the quality that so impressed me with my original portrait shoot. Stopping down, the issue cleans up nicely, but clearly this sample has something amiss. My feeling on this verges on anger, since my images cannot be fixed, and quality control this shitty at this price is an insult to the buying public. The factory could catch problem lenses like this, but it did not. Still, I will be showing several series, because the core lens qualities are visible over most of the frame at f/1.4, and because the issue itself has to be seen to be understood, and because stopped down there is a lot to like.

My advice to anyone remains as usual with any brand: don’t assume the sample is good; examine a variety of scenes for consistent issues, like blur on one side and not the other. See How to Test a Lens in Making Sharp Images. One reason I like the Zeiss ZF.2 / ZE DSLR lenses and particularly the Otus line is that over the years I’ve had hardly any issues—the best quality control of all the brands IMO. A lens design is only as good as it can be built, one reason why computed MTF charts supplied by most vendors are a joke.

Update: I’ve published a series showing how much stopping down is needed to overcome the right-side blur in this bad lens sample as well as a variety of samples. See also Lens Shock Testing.

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Breakthrough Photography X3 10-stop Neutral Density Filter

X3 10-stop Neutral Density Filter by
Breakthrough Photography

Get Breakthrough Photography X3 filter at B&H Photo (available soon).

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.

When contacted by Breakthrough Photography, I elected to try the 10 stop neutral density filter, because other brands have disappointed with severe color and tint shifts: could the X3 deliver what other filters had failed to do?

Review of the Breakthrough Photography X3 10-stop Neutral Density Filter

A 10-stop ND filter is very dark. With some stopping down, much longer exposures can be made than would otherwise be possible. Purposes include water blur in sunlight, very bright subjects, or photographing subjects that would otherwise be obscured by transient objects (cars, people, etc). By greatly increasing exposure time, these objects can be made to disappear.

In the field, it can be useful to have carry densities of 3, 6 and 10 stops which covers most shooting situations. Using a step-up ring allows using a larger filter size on lenses with a smaller filter size (so that one does not have to carry sets of ND filters in too many sizes).

Testing the X3 10-stop Neutral Density Filter by Breakthrough Photography

State of the Camera Market

 
Our trusted photo rentals

Received this in email today.

LMAO. It’s spot-on.

Canon should buy Nikon, dump most Nikon lenses, all Canon bodies, then either sell the remaining company to Sony or buy Sony.

Every time I go to sonyalpharumors.com, I see things like Sony dropped the price of every A7x body by $300, and Sony has a new brain implant that that [editor: brain implant needs a firmware update] adjusts the concavity of the sensors in its cameras to match your retina, so the camera can register exactly what you see. And a roadmap to 14 new Zeiss and Sony lenses for the next year.

Every time I go to the Nikonrumors.com site, I see something like Nikon has announced the 3572 entry-level DX DSLR that replaces the 3571, a 673 DSLR that replaces the 672, and a 763 DSLR that replaces the 762, and there are two new DX zoom lenses, a 45-235mm and a 15-735mm, and a 28-400mm FX lens. OK, all f*cked up, but at least, they are making some noise to show they still have a pulse.

Then, every time I go to the leicarumors.com site, I see something like there’s a new Leica store opening in Ho Chi Minh City, 50 of the shittiest images you ever saw selected for the 2015 Oskar Barnack award, and there is a new M-LU body designed by Lulu Lemon that has a transparent outer case, and only a shutter button and nothing else, with a transparent 35mm Summilux mit der floating elementen for only $23,995, and new titanium soft release shutter buttons with an onyx accent (default case), with diamond, ruby, emerald or sapphire as options.

DIGLLOYD: At NAB (with my press badge on, which I felt was fair warning), Canon tried to tell me that the DSLR market was doing great, with a lot of pre-orders for the new 5Ds. My BS meter squacked so loud I almost went deaf (hey, I ask around and know my business). Even what is not said or body language is eminently useful (and in-person or voice communicates a ton more than email). Well, there was a lot of communication in only about 10 minutes, very useful to me.

I asked Canon about an EVF option and got clawed. Miller’s Law repudiated. Later, when I got home, I discussed the matter with my cat, and she gave it 5 purrs.

I wrote about the value proposition with Leica and it’s only gotten worse now; it asymptotically approaches zero.

Chris L writes:

My compliments to your correspondent, it's exactly the creeping impression I get every time I look at those CanoNikoLeiOlympiSonyca-rumors sites.

The other day I was asked to evaluate two reproductions, by two different photographers, of the same archaeological object; one shot taken with a Canon 5D Mark III, the other with a Phase One MF camera. The catch: I was expected, based on my evaluation, to recommend a new Canon 5DS in replacement of the Mk III, to match the pixel count of the Phase One MF.

But the images could have been produced with iPhones for what mattered. All the difference was in the lighting: the one taken with the Canon was utterly flat, whereas the Phase One shot lighting was carefully modelled, almost sculpted in 3D. It was just the photographer, not the camera, or the lens. (And just to be clear, I am in no way camera-agnostic, but here the camera-lens-combo didn't even begin to matter, going against the photographer's grain.)

DIGLLOYD: even iPhone 6 images can look great with the right conditions and within reproduction limits. But of course many other practical and usage factors come to bear. Obviously, NAB and the gear shown there exist for strong reasons, for still and video.

Canon 11-24mm f/4L in stock

See my review of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM.

At about $2999 the Canon 11-24mm f/4L USM is unusually priced. But it is also unusually good in delivering high quality across its focal length range as well as sharpness near and far.

Highly recommended for all Canon shooters needing anything in that range.

Nikon D750

Save $300 or save $900 with lens.

Whirlwind NAB

I’m off to NAB in Las Vegas for a whirlwind tour.

Update: I hadn’t realized the sheer enormity of the show in cavernous halls stuffed with gear including ultra high end gear that probably cannot be seen in any place together except at NAB. This is not a show with iPhone cases and so on! You’ll get a very long hike trying to see it all and a full four days is what I’d recommend to see the show properly.

I had my own agenda at NAB so this is not a report, but here are some impressions.

If for example all you want to do is see a topic of interest, say the latest in lighting technology, or video booms from small to huge, or video storage and processing for satellite dishes and so on, the depth and breadth of the product lines was stunning.

Canon had an enormous booth with video, DSLRs and so on, printers and more, and a 2nd Canon booth I did not have a chance to visit. I liked their metallic whatever ist was paper they were showing, and the floor padding was really nice on the feet. Nikon had a large booth, but it modest in size by comparison with the Canon booth.

Zeiss had a very nice setup with all their lense lines (including cine). Zeiss is not standing still in any area.

Leica had a visually attractive boutique booth perfectly matching the current M gestalt—stylish but lacking substance.

Sigma was not present at all, and I never did see a Sony booth, but the halls are so cavernous that I might have missed it somehow. I did see Fujifilm banners, but did not visit (I flew into Vega, 6 hours, flew home).

Lots of gear for video processing including storage. OWC was showing their Jupiter system with 10 gigabit NAS or SAN up to 512TB and other storage.

BlackMagic Announces Slew of new Video Products

BlackMagic design announced a slew of new and cool video products.

 

B&H Photo has the new BlackMagic video products available for pre-order including the new 4.6K video offerings.

Making Sharp Images: Updated Bokeh Examples

I’ve updated several bokeh pages in Making Sharp Images as well as a flare example.

Shootout on Nikon D810: Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED

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

For anyone looking for a 24mm autofocus lens for Nikon, this is a must-read. In DAP:

Shootout: Sigma 24/1.4 Art vs Nikon AF-S 24/1.4G (Dolls, NikonD810)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images up to actual pixels for the DX frame area from f/1.4 through f/13, along with a large crop at those apertures also. Assesses focus shift, color aberrations and overall performance at a reproduction ratio of about 1:11.

       
Sigma 24/1.4 DG HSM Art and Nikon AF-S 24/1.4G
Dolls and Rulers
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FOR SALE: Leica, Canon, Nikon Lenses

Selling this gear—not meant as a statement on anything, purely a business decision.

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

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

Nikon

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G

Nikon AF-S 24mm f/1.4G $1325 (sells for $1929 new)

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED $1400 (sells for $1886 new)

Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G $525 (sells for $696 new)

Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.4G $1250 (sells for $1619 new)

Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G $1250 (sells for $1599 new)

Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF ED $660 (sells for $879 new)

Canon

Canon 50mm f/1.2L $1099 (sells for $1449 new)

Canon 85mm f/1.2L II $1575 (sells for $1999 new)

Canon 135mm f.2L $700 (sells for $999 new)

Leica

Leica 50/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH

28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH $3250 firm (sells for $4045 new).

35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE (2010 version) $3600 (sells for $4900 new).

50mm f/0.95 Noctilux-M ASPH $8950 firm (sells for $10745 new).

50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH $3050 firm (sells for $3745 new).

Canon Lens Prices Drop from $100 to $800

Canon lens prices drop by $100 on many lenses, but up to $800 on the big boys. B&H includes 2% rewards and expedited free shipping.

A few lenses I like a lot:

 

Sennheiser OCX 685i Adidas Sports In-Ear Headphones with Inline Remote/Mic: Works for My Ears

Sennheiser OCX 685i Adidas Sports
In-Ear Headphones with Inline Remote/Mic (White)

Sennheiser OCX 685i Adidas Sports In-Ear Headphones with Inline Remote/Mic (White) about $29 with $31 instant savings

I wrote about ordering these for a specific reason: when I talk on the phone it crooks my arm too sharply, and this irritates the Ulnar nerve in the arm near the elbow, which is still recovering from nerve damage from an antibiotic I took last November.

Hardly any earbud style headphones fit my ear canals (Apple-supplied ones do not fit at all).

I had been hoping these would work, and YES, these work well for my ears. And that’s no easy thing; most all earbud style headphones are very uncomfortable for me.

These earbuds fit well and are far more comfortable than the stock Apple offering included with the iPhone.

The sound quality is very good as far as phone usage goes, which I evaluated during a one hour conversation with a client; we could both hear and understand each other quite well.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Assessing Focus Shift and Color Correction (Dolls, Sony A7R)

 
Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA

Get Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

This series assesses the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon over the f/1.4 - f/16 aperture range.

In Guide to Mirrorless:

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Assessing Focus Shift and Color Correction (Dolls A7R)

Shot on the 36-megapixel Sony A7R, presented with HD and UltraHD images, including large images up to 24 megapixels, along with crops.

Dolls Posing Patiently
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Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: 'Green Ranch Shed' and 'Mining Camp Church'

Get Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at B&H Photo

 
Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

The Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at about $2150 is a high performer well worth looking at for the M shooter.

Compact and very nicely built, I enjoyed using it in the field.

In Guide to Leica:

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Aperture Series: Mining Camp Church (M240)

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Aperture Series: Green Ranch Shed (M240)

These aperture series are presented with up to full-resolution (5976) images in order to show just how strong a performer the lens is (very).

The late-day church scene shows strong contrasts as compared with the bluish dusk light of the Mining Camp Bunkhouse series.

Mining Camp Church
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The Green Ranch Shed series offers a much deeper 3D (near to far) look at sharpness as compared to the Green Barn series.

Green Ranch Shed
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Click to view blog entry for each image below.

 
 
Other series for the Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M: Bokeh for Defocused Point Sources

Get Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at B&H Photo

 
Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

In Guide to Leica:

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Bokeh for Defocused Background Point Sources

Bokeh is also shown for the full aperture series from ƒ/2.4 - f/16 using two aperture series, one strongly defocused and one moderately defocused. See also the Veiling Flare discussion which also can be studied for bokeh behavior.

The Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M uses an 11-blade aperture. How does it behave across the aperture series?

This study might be interesting in its own right even for readers with no particular interest in the Leica 75/2.4 Summarit-M.

Bokeh at f/4
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June 22nd Photo Tour in Yosemite High Country

See the photo tours page for general info.

4-day photo tour: June 22, 23, 24, 25
(2 or 3 days negotiable, but itinerary planned for full range of sites)

This tour will cover Yosemite high country and nearby areas, the best and favorite places I’ve found, at a stunningly beautiful time of year. These are personalized tours intended to cater specifically to participant interests (limited to three participants). We shoot in peace and quiet, and enjoy the best of the area. And while I have a specific itinerary in mind, our schedule is flexible, so lucky weather conditions can be utilized as they arise.

There are various lodging options, but the best possible place to stay is Tioga Pass Resort*, which is located dead center of where we want to be, and allows for a mid-day break if desired, and of course a hot shower and a place to process images, etc. Regular roads on this trip accessible by any car. I can advise on clothing, gear, food etc.

Contact

Act now and reserve your place in this photo tour. Cost is $800 per day (you are responsible for your lodging, transportation, food).

Contact Lloyd.

* TPR books out for the season very quickly, so act quickly if you want to stay there (but contact me first for advice on cabins). There are other lodging options in the area (including camping), but the non-camping options involve at least a 40-minute round trip, which makes your day longer than need be. I also advise arriving one day early in order to acclimate to altitude of 10,000'.

Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Spring Growth, Yosemite
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Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Flooded Tuolumne Meadows
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Bistlecone Sentinel at Sunset with View of White Mountain Peak (August 2013) Sony RX1R @ ƒ/ 5.6
Upper Tenaya Creek
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Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M: Veiling Flare, and Bokeh

Get Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at B&H Photo

 
Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

In Guide to Leica:

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Veiling Flare + Bokeh, Barn Interior

This series shows a disturbing issue with veiling flare that might warrant a recall of the lens.

The example merely isolates the issue to make it totally obvious; it was previously commented upon and shown in the Mining Camp Bunkhouse and Green Barn series—the issue arises commonly during field use.

Bokeh is also shown for out of focus items from ƒ/2.4, ..., f/8.

Flare for no good reason
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Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series 'Green Barn'

Get Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at B&H Photo

 
Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M

The Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M at about $2150 has an “industrial design that offers improved optical performance” over its ƒ/2.5 predecessor, though the details are left unclear and the optical formula is apparently unchanged.

What is left unsaid is that it might be a better lens than its Leica 75mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH sibling.

In Guide to Leica:

Leica 75mm f/2.4 Summarit-M Aperture Series: Aperture Series: Green Barn (M240)

This ƒ 2.4, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 aperture series is presented with up to full-resolution (5976) images in order to show just how strong a performer the lens is. But it does have one disappointing weakness that was also observed in the Mining Camp Bunkhouse series.

Discussion includes sharpness, flare and distortion.

Green Barn
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Table of f-stops: Full Stops, 1/2 Stops, 1/3 Stops (Depth of Field)

Sometimes I need to refer to these scales for certain reasons. Also, cameras round f-stops and exposure values, and this leads to inconsistent exposure values with some cameras.

For example, when a camera displays ƒ/5.6, is it ƒ/5.6 or ƒ/5.657 (the actual one-stop difference from ƒ/4)? And is ƒ/1.2 actually ƒ/1.19 or ƒ/1.122?

Of course, in the latter case of a bright aperture (ƒ/1.2), the T-stop matters a whole lot more. It’s not much of a difference but video shooters doing precision work presumably care.

One also has to wonder whether 1/13 second is twice 1/25 second: is it really 1/13 second, or actually 2/25 second and displayed as 1/13?

I see minor variations all the time with aperture series when there ought to be none, so I suspect that cameras by and large either are doing it wrong (rounding the actual exposure not just rounding for display), or else have errors for aperture or shutter speed, or both.

ƒ = √(2^AV) where AV is the aperture value.

Note that depth of field for any aperture number is relative to the format size.

f-stop scales whole stops, 1/2 stops, 1/3 stops

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Commentary vs Other 35mm f/1.4 Lenses

Get Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon at B&H Photo.

In Guide to Mirrorless in my review of the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA, I offer a thought-provoking commentary on how the FE 35/1.4 should be thought of in the context of a variety of other 35mm f/1.4 lens designs by Leica, Zeiss, Canon, Nikon, Sigma.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon: Discussion and Alternatives

This should be well worth your reading if the choice is to be made on a 35mm f/1.4; it incorporates my years of working with all these brands in an easy summary form.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon ZA

Canon 11-24mm f/4L Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek at 11mm, 13mm, 16mm, 24mm

Canon 11-24mm f/4L

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

This group of four aperture series spans the zoom range with similar subject matter in order to paint a comprehensive picture of the remarkably consistent imaging quality of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

Aperture Series @ 11mm: Pescadero Creek Downstream (Canon 5DM3)

Aperture Series @ 13mm: Pescadero Creek Upstream (Canon 5DM3)

Aperture Series @ 16mm: Pescadero Creek Downstream (Canon 5DM3)

Aperture Series @ 24mm: Pescadero Creek Pool (Canon 5DM3)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images with various sizes including full resolution 5760-pixel wide images. One can thus see performance in its entirety at any of the apertures.

I’m impressed—I deem the Canon 11-24mm f/4L the best wide angle zoom that Canon has yet produced. And I love having that extra 11-16mm zoom range (as compared to the 16-35 or 17-35 lenses). Having the 11-24/4L plus 24-70/2.8L II covers a lot of range.

If I had to hazard a guess, the 11-24mm f/4L was expressly designed to hold up well on the new 50-megapixel Canon 5D S (though virtually all lenses will show some weaknesses at 50 megapixels). At about $2999 it’s hardly inexpensive, but given the unprecedented range and image quality, it’s a winner.

Pescadero Creek, 11mm
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Pescadero Creek, 13mm
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Pescadero Creek, 16mm
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Pescadero Creek, 24mm
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Adobe’s Plans for Photoshop and Lightroom for OS X

Jeff Tranberry of Adobe details the plans for which versions of OS X will be required for the next versions of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom.

In order to leverage the latest operating system features and technologies, the next major release of Photoshop CC will require Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or above.

The next major release of Lightroom currently plans to support OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and above.

Roy P writes:

Very nice coverage of this lens, and terrific portraits. You’re lucky to have a cooperative model. I used up all my goodwill on that front with my kids a long time ago!

There are three other E-mount FE lenses that while perhaps not quite in the “lens shall wag the camera” class as the new Zeiss 35/1.4 Distagon, are nevertheless, easily in the “mirrorless shall wag the DSLR” category, IMHO. These provide enough catalysts to switch to mirrorless for a lot of photographers, I think.

These are the Zeiss 55/1.8 Sonnar, the Zeiss 16-35 Vario Tessar and the Sony 70-200 f/4 G lens. These easily hold their own against the Nikon equivalents on a D810.

Even the Zeiss 24-70 f/4 is not bad. It’s not a great lens, but a pretty good lens. At f/5.6 on an A7R, I think it holds its own pretty well against the aging Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 at f/5.6 on a D810. And it is so much lighter and easier to handle.

I haven’t tested the Sony 90/2.8 macro, but it’s probably not too shabby vs. the Nikon 100/2.8.

While Nikon’s total universe of lenses is far more extensive, the universe of really standout lenses is much smaller, and I suspect the same is true for Canon. When you filter out the mediocre legacy lenses and start comparing the group of “very good” and better lenses, the Sony E-mount starts looking pretty decent!

The long focal length primes and zooms for pro sports and wildlife photography is the one area where Nikon/Canon still reign supreme. But even that is likely changing...

DIGLLOYD: my comments should not be construed to mean that the other lenses are bad; they are quite good and I’d recommend the ones that Roy mentions (excepting the 70-200, which I have not tested and so no opinion there). Particularly the 55/1.8.

Rather my statement on the Zeiss FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is just as I wrote: “a lens that is so appealing that the camera body becomes an accessory”. Just because I say I prefer chocolate ice cream does not mean that strawberry and vanilla are no good.

After 8 years working with just about every system and lens and at least 10,000 hours of doing so (the magic “10,000” hour rule—apply it to any area of expertise), I do feel that I have a sense of which lenses make it to another level, the cut above. Examples (not a complete list) include the Zeiss Otus line, the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 APD, the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron, the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, and now, the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon.

This one the focus is just off a few millimeters, but it’s the total rendering style that is so appealing.

Poise
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5-way Shootout at 24mm: Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Canon 24/1.4L II, 24/2.8 IS, 24-70/2.8L II, 11-24/4L

Get the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art or Canon 11-24mm at B&H Photo.

Three primes, two zooms, all 24mm. In DAP:

Shootout: Sigma 24/1.4 Art vs Canon 24/1.4L II, 24/2.8 IS, 24-70/2.8L II, 11-12/4L (Pescadero Creek, Canon 5DM3)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images, along with large crops from ƒ/1.4 - ƒ/13.

This comparison complements the close-range 4-way shootout.

Also, click each lens for its own review.

     
Sigma 24/1.4 DG HSM Art, Canon 24/1.4L II, Canon 24/2.8 IS, Canon 24-70/2.8L II, Canon 11-24/4L
(not necessarily to scale)
Pescadero Creek Green and Blue
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Canon 24mm f/1.4L II: Field Curvature (Metreon)

 
Canon 24mm f/1.4L II

Get Canon 24mm at B&H Photo.

I went back and redid an older take on the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, in part to confirm my findings in the recent comparisons against the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.

In DAP:

Canon 24mm f/1.4L II: Field curvature and Aberrations (Night-time)

Presented with HD and UltraHD images .

Commentary on the behavior should prove quite useful if you’re shooting this lens, but also of general interest in understanding field curvature behavior—a poster child case. Also, the demonstration of aberrations is revealing.

Metreon area, San Francisco
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Up to 8TB of Thunderbolt Storage!
Up to 8TB of Thunderbolt Storage!

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