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Color Gamut: Green Shirt in Sunlight

Get NEC PA wide gamut display at B&H Photo.

With modern digital cameras, color gamut is far beyond the sRGB color space, and often beyond the AdobeRGB color space.

  Pentax 645Z  
Gamut warning enabled in Photoshop
(ProPhotoRGB against sRGB)

My NEC PA302W display and the late 2015 iMac 5K both have a display gamut far beyond AdobeRGB. Moreover, today’s printers have gamuts that exceed AdobeRGB, including colors rendered with inks like “Vivid Magenta”.

The internet is full of bad advice. In particularly, a workflow in sRGB is a terrible choice: many images will of course be in sRGB gamut, but a significant number will be out of gamut, with sRGB destroying both color and detail. While output may need to be converted to sRGB for many purposes, it is untenable to work in sRGB for the “master” image.

My previous work on color gamut in DAP explains various issues and gives examples. I’ve just added a new example of a rather ordinary shot in sunlight with a rather ordinary green T-shirt, which changes radically in color and contrast when converted to sRGB.

Color Gamut Example: Green Shirt in Sunlight

This example is with a 15 year old camera, the Nikon D1X! Which shows that color gamut is not just a concern for recent digital cameras.

Includes screen shots of how to preview color gamut in Adobe Photoshop CC.

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR vs Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5: Bench (645Z)

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR
Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL [IF]

Get Pentax 645 and Pentax 28-45mm f/4.5 and Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 at B&H Photo.

This comparison documents what I found with a variety of other scenes and should be immensely useful to anyone considering the merits of the Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL [IF] versus the Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR.

Pentax 35/3.5 vs Pentax 28-45/4.5: Bench (645Z)

Includes image sizes up to 25 MP , along with very large crops, at f/4.5 / f/4.5 through f/13, along with HD crops.

A particularly important behavioral issue is shown for the Pentax 28-45/4.5.

  Pentax 645Z  
Bench
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Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Icy Waterfall to High Peaks

Get Canon 35mm f/1.4L II at B&H Photo.

My Canon 35mm f/1.4L (prior version is for sale): $700.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II

Perhaps because of the demise of the DSLR market, a lens arrived last fall which may represent the best 35mm lens on the market today and yet has not seen much love: the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II. At about $1799 it is a very strong value for what it delivers.

This high dynamic range scene is beyond the limits of the Canon 5DS R sensor and is thus a challenge for a lens in maintaining detail and contrast.

Specular highlights on water show us bokeh near and far and the near to far scenery show just how much stopping down is needed. Quality wide open is also plainly revealed.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Icy Waterfall to High Peaks

Includes full resolution images from f/1.4 through f/13 at image sizes up to 24 megapixels along with large crops. Also includes ACR conversion settings and RawDigger info.

Lundy Canyon Icy Waterfall to High Peaks
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Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Upper Reaches of Lundy Beaver Pond

Get Canon 35mm f/1.4L II at B&H Photo.

My Canon 35mm f/1.4L (prior version is for sale): $700.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II

Perhaps because of the demise of the DSLR market, a lens arrived last fall which may represent the best 35mm lens on the market today and yet has not seen much love: the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II. At about $1799 it is a very strong value for what it delivers.

This scene is extraordinarily challenging for any lens, with extremely fine detail across the frame. Weaknesses of any kind are readily revealed by such a scene: sharpness and micro contrast, field curvature, color aberrations. It is also an excellent scene for verifying lens symmetry as well as showing that sharpness at the same distance can vary widely.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Upper Reaches of Lundy Beaver Pond, early November

Includes full resolution images from f/1.4 through f/13 at image sizes up to 24 megapixels along with large crops. Also includes ACR conversion settings and RawDigger info.

Due to ultra-fine detail, this series is difficult to appreciate on a conventional display. Evaluation and viewing on an iMac 5K or similar ultra high-res display is strongly recommended.

Upper Reaches of Lundy Beaver Pond, Late November
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Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Below the Icy Waterfall

Get Canon 35mm f/1.4L II at B&H Photo.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II

Perhaps because of the demise of the DSLR market, a lens arrived last fall which may represent the best 35mm lens on the market today but has not seen much love: the Canon 35mm f/1.4L II. At about $1799 it is a very strong value for what it delivers. Nikon’s AF-S 35/1.4G isn’t even in the running compared to the Canon 35/1.4L II. The Sigma 35/1.4 DG HSM Art is the only lens that might approach it in performance at f/1.4.

This series was taken in early November 2015. It is extremely demanding with its high contrast near to far subject matter. As a bonus, the sparkling water areas show us the point spread function.

Canon 35mm f/1.4L II Aperture Series: Below the Icy Waterfall

Includes full resolution images from f/1.4 through f/13 at image sizes up to 24 megapixels along with large crops.

My Canon 35mm f/1.4L (prior version is for sale): $700.

I came upon this delightful early November scene much later in the day than I would have liked, and approach was treacherous. It would have been ideal to photograph it before the sun rose, in all its icy blue glory.

Below the Icy Waterfall
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Compared: Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH (2016) vs Its Predecessor

Get Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

Last night I shot six A/B comparisons between the Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH (2016) and its 28/2 predecessor. All six comparisons showed the same consistent behavioral differences.

I chose two of the comparisons to compare and contrast the old and new optical behaviors:

Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH Focusing Behavior in Live View vs Predecessor

Includes full resolution images from f/2 through f/8 or f/11.

For anyone considering the 2016 Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH (for the first time or as an upgrade), this analysis should be a huge jumpstart on understanding how to achieve optimal results.

 
Leica 28mm ƒ/2 Summicron-M ASPH: 2016 model (right) and its predecessor (left)
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Reader Question: Which Camera System?

Get Sony A7R II mirrorless and Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

Tor M writes:

Starting with no current lenses - what is the best all purpose camera? Nikon D750? Canon 5D Mark III? Sony A7R II?
I know the question is rather silly; but still...

DIGLLOYD: I don’t see it as silly at all; it’s the same question many photographers are pondering these days, particularly with Sony’s aggressive advances and the incremental same-old CaNikon DSLR offerings.

Still, “best” is highly subjective, relating to personal uses for a camera system.

If I were shooting only personally (not professionally and as a reviewer), Sony full-frame mirrorless would now be my go-to kit for my outdoor activities. The available lenses now are there for most uses and I’m not a sports or action shooter and the EVF is a valuable feature for me. There are plenty of specific usage reasons to choose something else, but few reasons to do so for most users.

Here is the kit I’d go with for my hiking, very compact stuff:

Here is a B&H Sony Mirrorless Wishlist of the items I’d carry.

I’d add the Sony 24-70mm G Master and Sony 70-200mm G Master as all-arounders, though I’d probably not hike with them. The Sony 85mm f/1.4 G Master looks excellent, but it’s large and heavy and it remains to be seen if it betters the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8.

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Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Painted Rock (Canon 5DS R)

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

Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/1.4 Distagon

The Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon doesn’t get a lot of love, but it has a rendering style that is highly appealing; for example see Eastern Sierra Aspen and sagebrush in the Examples, Nikon D3x in Sierra and White Mountains.

In my review of the Zeiss ZF.2/ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon I’ve added a new aperture series shot on the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS R during my trip in Nov 2015 to Lundy Canyon.

Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 Distagon Aperture Series: Painted Rock (Canon 5DS R)

Includes image sizes up to 24 megapixels along with large crops, all from f/1.4 through f/13.

 

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Reader Comment: Big and Heavy Sony G Master Lenses

Get Sony G Master Lens at B&H Photo.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

Howard C writes:

The new G Master lenses that Sony has announced seem like all good news. Sony is demonstrating a commitment to developing state of the art lenses at premium prices.

Here’s my concern. Sony appears to be segmenting its lens line into two groups of lenses. The G Master lenses will be big, heavy, fast and expensive lenses with the best optical quality. The other lenses will be smaller, lighter, slower and less expensive lenses, with good to very good optical quality but not at the level of the G Master line.

This is very unfortunate for me and many others who bought into the Sony A7R and A7RII cameras based upon the promise of exceptional performance in a compact form factor. We want smaller and lighter lenses that are the state of the art in optical performance and are willing to pay for them. We are also perfectly ok that the tradeoff is that these lenses would be f/2.8 or f/4 lenses.

I actually think that Sony is making a major blunder here in positioning its products. Sony is falling into trap of applying yesterday’s model of DSLR marketing: premium quality lenses at premium prices that have to be big and heavy because they are fast, and they have to be fast because that’s what “Pros” and wannabe “Pros” demand.

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM

My sense is that there are far more photographers who have bought into the Sony A7 system who can afford and will buy very premium priced lenses if those lenses are smaller and lighter, and they couldn’t care less about an extra f stop.

I believe you share these sentiments, and it would be great if you could send that message to Sony loud and clear.

DIGLLOYD: I agree absolutely. See The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses. While I appreciate fast apertures for some purposes like wide aperture landscapes, hauling three Zeiss Otus (or Sony G Master) lenses up 3000' in elevation is a real drag. Ditto for hauling around through an airport, walking a city street for hours, etc.

The Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses are a size and weight that just about answer the above requirement (Loxia 21/2.8 is the best existence proof). I’d settle for 25/2.8 and 90/2.8, particularly if the quality were ramped up to Otus levels. However, the Batis line is really good as it stands.

Sony is definitely not thinking outside convention with its lens strategy. On the other hand, Sony is hitting the right checkboxes for head-to-head with CaNikon.

We can hope that Zeiss persists in expanding the Batis and Loxia lines, and that Sony eventually sees the need for f/2.8 super lenses. According to Sony Alpha Rumors, there is a Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 on the way soon. So that would make the Batis 18/2.8, Loxia 21/2.8, Batis 25/2, Loxia 35/2 to cover the wide end in a quite small total size/weight package. Not the semi-Otus performance I’d like but well into excellent territory.

Here is what I’d like to see from Sony. These lenses should exceed the performance of Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia and would be priced significantly higher for that reason:

  • 15mm f/2.8 APO fisheye
  • 18/3.5, 21/3.2, 25/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8 (all APO)
  • 50/2 APO, 90/2.8 APO, 135/3.4 APO, 180/4 APO
Sony FE 70-20mm f/2.8 GM OSS

John N writes:

Howard C, 'gets it'. Sony and Zeiss don't.

Now all we need is a high quality and light 18 to 100 travel zoom for the A7 platform.

What a awesome combo that would be for the serious 'light weight' traveler.
Somehow it just seems to make sense. If you want to tool up with all the other lenses when weight and convenience are not such a major consideration then that is fine. I, however, am quite prepared to sacrifice a bit of quality for a whole lot more convenience.

DIGLLOYD: Zeiss absolutely 'gets it'; the Loxia lenses hit the nail on the head better than anything. And the Batis lenses are very friendly also.

If lower quality is acceptable, then Sony already nails it there too with their existing f/4 zooms. There will not be a high quality and light 18-100; this is not a reasonable expectation. But a 35-70mm f/3.4 should be feasible with advance optical approaches.

Dr. S writes:

Yes Sony is probably making an error with their new lenses but how about this take? These days my "casual" camera bag consists of the Batis 25, Sony 35,1.4, and Sony 55 1.8...... all great lenses and luckily I have a good copy of the 35, 1.4. Granted they have a maximum aperture greater than 2.8 but if you take the weight of the 3 lenses into account it is more than the weight of one 24-70, 2,8 Sony G.

We could get into protracted discussions but if the IQ is of superior quality at all focal lengths in the new Sony 24-70 then one may pause,.take a moment in thought, and decide whether or not to take just one body/one lens so no lens changes are not necessary. Of course I like primes but I tested this hypothesis last weekend and took my Canon 24-70 II/Metabones adapter/A7rii out for a spin and I was very satisfied with the weight and the IQ of the photos was high. I'm just sayin'...

DIGLLOYD: I don’t think Sony is making any errors here other than the error of omission; the new G Master lenses pound the nail squarely for competing with CaNikon offerings. What the G Master lenses do not do is offer the promise of compact high performance on the Sony mirrorless platform.

Richard S writes:

These comments are spot on. Great performance is possible in a light compact package. We just did a 30x45 canvas wrap for a client made from a DSC-RX1 file and it was superb. Better than what I’d expect from a zoom, and resolution wise, almost as good as my Sigma 35mm art lens on a D810. It showed some chromatic aberration in the corners, but it was only evident on black branches on white snow. It is a good example of what is possible with a relatively compact lens. I really want a set of top quality primes that are light and in the f2.8-4 range as they would be what I would carry 90% of the time.

DIGLLOYD: This equation will only improve with time (sensor quality, full color sensors, perhaps curves sensors allowing higher quality lenses, etc). The question is whether interchangeable lens cameras will offer the equivalent (moderate speed compact very high quality lenses).

As I wrote 2.5 years ago in The Future of Image Quality is Fixed-Lens Cameras, moderate speed lenses matched to the sensor have huge potential as yet only modestly exploited by Sigma and by Sony and by Ricoh and Fujifilm and Nikon and Leica. Perhaps one of those companies will be daring enough to deliver a medium format fixed-lens camera.

James P writes:

Everyone thinks bigger is better, but in reality why is it that Leica can manufacture lenses that are so small compared to the same lens in Sony or for any other 35mm system? You could pack three Leica M lenses in the same space that just about any other lens takes up.

DIGLLOYD: the short answer is “hugely expensive and tradeoffs/compromises involved”. And it’s also just not true, as the Loxia line and the Sony 35/2.8 show. In fact, the Sony 35/2.8 is lighter than the Leica 28/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH. Try on the Loxia 21/2.8 which is faster than the Leica M 21/3.4 and higher performance too.

The longer answer is that there are numerous compromises and tradeoffs. The assumption that M system is superior is generally, as my various comparisons have shown. Are there standouts? Of course—but this is true of Leica, Zeiss, Canon, Nikon, Sigma also.

In short, the Leica M lenses are not a good baseline for what is possible for DSLRs and/or mirrorless. My view is that at present, Sigma may be the only company today that could deliver a cost effective high performance f/2.8 - f/4 line of ultra high performance compact primes. Zeiss of course could work wonders, but the price would be quite high.

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Leica v2016 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH Assessment of Focus Shift at MOD

Get Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/2.8 Emarit-M ASPH

See also the evaluation with the Leica v2016 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH. The two studies together also provide additional insight between the lenses, such as performance at f/2.8 between the lenses.

One of the first things I check for with any new lens is focus shift, because it’s so critical a factor. This assessment is at minimum object distance (MOD) with the 2016 version of the Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH:

Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH Focus Shift Evaluation at MOD (Dolls, M240)

This is useful for anyone considering the 2016 Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH or the 2016 Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH.

See also my review of the Leica 28mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH and review of the prior Leica 28/2 and review of the prior 28/2.8.

 

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Leica v2016 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPHAssessment of Focus Shift at MOD

Get Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH

Significant focus shift inflicts serious damage to image sharpness where intended/desired and thus makes obtaining optimal results on high-res digital cameras much more challenging.

I’m often asked “which lens is sharper”. This is a complex question that involves many factors, but focus shift is the elephant in the room with some lenses, ignored when talking about sharpness.

Accordingly, one of the first things I check for with any new lens is focus shift, because it’s so critical a factor. This assessment is at minimum object distance (MOD) with the 2016 version of the Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH:

Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH Focus Shift Evaluation at MOD (Dolls, M240)

This is a MUST READ for anyone considering the 2016 Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH, whether it’s the 2016 version or its predecessor.

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Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL IF Aperture Series: Close Range, Dolls (645Z)

  Pentax 645Z   
Pentax 645 35mm f/3.5 AL IF

Get Pentax 645 and Pentax 35mm f/3.5 at B&H Photo.

In field of view and depth of field terms, the Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL [IF] is equivalent to a 27.3mm f/2.8 lens as compared to a full frame DSLR (using the long side of the frame). At about $1599 it offers high performance at relatively modest cost. Highly recommended for Pentax 645Z shooters.

The Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL [IF]offers a close focus capability down to 1:4 which means that for its 43.8mm X 32.8mm sensor it can capture an image field of width 175.2mm.

This scene as captured is ~380mm wide, hence the reproduction ratio is about 1:8.6 at a subject to front lens element distance of ~12 inches, ~14 inches from subject to sensor plane.

Does image quality as seen in the landscape analysis also hold up at close range?

Pentax ID 35mm f/3.5 AL IF Aperture Series: Dolls, Close Range

Includes image sizes up to 25 MP along with very large crops, at f/3.5, f/5.6, f/9, f/13, f/16 plus RawDigger exposure info and ACR conversion settings.

  Pentax 645Z  
Dolls
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Sony A6300: Oversampling for 4K Video Quality

Get Sony A6300 at B&H Photo.

I discussed the Sony A6300 a few days ago.

Over the years I have discussed the image quality gains to be had with oversampling, namely higher per pixel quality. For example, a 50-megapixel camera like the Canon 5DS R actually beats the leica M Monochrome when compared at 24 megapixels—an existence proof of the benefits of oversampling.

Now along comes the Sony A6300 and what caught my eye is the fact that there is no cropping of its APS-C sensor when shooting 4K video.

Rather, Sony employs oversampling in the A6300, utilizing the entire 6000 pixel width of the sensor to deliver 3840-pixel 4K UHD video [the 2.4X refers to area, since (6000/3840)^2 = 2.44].

Internal recording of UHD 4K movies is possible in multiple frame rates up to 30 fps and, based on the Super35mm recording area and effective 20MP (6000 x 3376) resolution, 2.4x oversampling renders greater detail and full pixel readout is possible, that is void of pixel binning, for higher quality imagery with reduced moiré and aliasing.

What this means (assuming excellent downsampling code) is very high quality video, with reduced digital artifacts and reduced noise. Possibly there could be moiré issues or similar in some cases, but never in my still photography have I seen this to be a problem, so I expect that the quality will be outrageously good. One limitation: it appears that the oversampling occurs only at 24 fps.

Contrast the $998 Sony A6300 to the approach of the far more expensive Canon 1D X Mark II and Nikon D5 and D500 in their flagship cameras: a heavily cropped sensor area for 4K video. Since the sensors are full frame to begin with, the area used for 4K video will be similar, but it should be interesting to see if the A6300 delivers superior video quality. I expect that it will be superior by dint of reducing digital artifacts by dint of the downsamping from 6000 to 3840 pixels width, a benefit that I show (in essence) in all my reviews in the images derived from full-res.

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Aperture Series @ 28mm: Pescadero Creek Upstream Blue (645Z)

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR

Get Pentax 645 and Pentax 28-45mm f/4.5 at B&H Photo.

The Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR is equivalent to a 23-36mm lens on a full frame DSLR (long frame dimension).

At about $4697 it’s a substantial investment, but it does cover a very useful range. The main thing is that it is huge and heavy, much more so than its 35mm f/3.5 sibling.

This outdoor far-field scene explores the consistency of sharpness across the field and near to far at the 28mm zoom setting. There is a lot to learn from this scene as to the lens behavior.

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek Upstream Blue

Includes image sizes up to 25 MP , along with very large crops, at f/4.5, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16 plus RawDigger exposure info.

  Pentax 645Z  
Pescadero Creek, Upstream Blue
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Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Aperture Series @ 45mm: Riparian Forest (645Z)

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR

Get Pentax 645 and Pentax 28-45mm f/4.5 at B&H Photo.

The Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR is equivalent to a 23-36mm lens on a full frame DSLR (long frame dimension).

At about $4697 it’s a substantial investment, but it does cover a very useful range. The main thing is that it is huge and heavy, much more so than its 35mm f/3.5 sibling.

This outdoor far-field scene explores the consistency of sharpness across the field at a uniform distance at the 45mm zoom setting, giving an excellent insight into what apertures are required for peak quality.

Pentax HD DA 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Aperture Series: Riparian Forest

Includes image sizes up to 25 MP , along with very large crops, at f/4.5, f/5.6, f/9, f/11 plus RawDigger exposure info.

This finely detailed image cries out for viewing on the iMac 5K (or at least a 4K display) so as to render the fine details of twigs and bark and moss in a far more compelling way than a standard display.

  Pentax 645Z  
Riparian Forest along Pescadero Creek
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Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL IF Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek Upstream, Late Blue Dusk (645Z)

  Pentax 645Z   
Pentax 645 35mm f/3.5 AL IF

Get Pentax 645 and Pentax 35mm f/3.5 at B&H Photo.

I last looked at the Pentax 645Z back in 2014; see my in-depth review of the Pentax 645Z and/or view Pentax 645Z and 645D and Pentax medium format lens coverage.

In field of view and depth of field terms, the Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL [IF] is equivalent to a 27.3mm f/2.8 lens as compared to a full frame DSLR (using the long side of the frame).

At about $1599 the Pentax HD 35/3.5 offers high performance at relatively modest cost. Field shooting suggest that it is significantly better corrected than its 55mm f/2.8 sibling (about $925). In particular, field curvature is well controlled, and with only modest peripheral focus shift.

This aperture series with the new Pentax HD 35mm f/3.5 AL IF yields highly useful insights into the performance of this relatively modestly priced wide angle lens for the Pentax 645Z or Pentax 645D. I think it will go a long way to answering questions about its performance capabilities.

Pentax ID 35mm f/3.5 AL IF Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek Upstream, Late Blue Dusk

Includes image sizes up to 25 MP in both color and black and white*, along with very large crops, at f/3.5, f/5, f/6.3, f/9, f/11 plus RawDigger exposure info.

* Black and white conversion settings also shown.

  Pentax 645Z  
Pescadero Creek, Upstream View, Late Dusk
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  Pentax 645Z  
Pescadero Creek, Upstream View, Late Dusk
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iMac 5K for Stunning Black and White Images

B&H has up to $200 of Apple 2015 MacBook and 13" MacBook Pro models.
Get the new iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see the MPG computer gear wishlist and read the MPG review of the late 2015 iMac 5K.

Last week, I described the thrilling viewing experience of the wide gamut 14.7-megapixel display of the late 2015 iMac 5K.

Last night I happened to be reviewing some of my Leica MM Type 246 black and white images and I was enthralled: I have never seen black and white look that good before. Jaw dropping in detail and contrast—no print can touch that visual impact of a transmissive display. The contrast of the iMac 5K display adds a whole bump up in visual impact over other types of displays.

Some black and white examples:

View the 4320 sizes for nearly a perfect fit on screen, or go all the way to full-res.

Viewing a 4320-pixel image on the iMac 5K display
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Sony Diffraction-Free Computed Fantasy MTF

Get Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM at B&H Photo.

I have little doubt that the new Sony 85/1.4 GM, Sony 24-70/2.8 GM and 70-200/2.8 GM OSS will be excellent, perhaps even outstanding (particularly the 85/1.4). The new lenses might even turn out to be superior to the equivalent Nikon and Canon lenses given the technology involved.

Sony’s press discussion places very strong emphasis on MTF of 50 line pairs per mm (lp/mm) in the new G Master (GM) lenses. So what’s with this 85/1.4 MTF 'picture' on the Sony web site?

  • Sony MTF is at 10 and 30 lp/mm... where is the 50 lp/mm stuff emphasized so strongly in the Sony press conference? What a strange disconnect. MTF at 50 lp/mm (or even 40) is far more demanding.
  • Sony MTF is computed from a design, not measured from a real lens. Real lenses have to be built, and can at best only approach the theoretical computed performance and only if built to perfection. When actual lenses are examined (like the 90/2.8 and 35/1.4), real images may paint a rather different picture.
  • Sony MTF does not take diffraction into account. While this has little bearing on the f/1.4 chart, the f/8 chart is pure fantasy (impossible). It tells us to expect strong performance at f/8, but it does not tell us what a real lens measured will deliver. At f/8, MTF of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar (best 35mm lens ever made) even at 40 lp/mm falls short of 80% MTF. So this Sony chart hugely undermines Sony credibility—it’s not real. Furthermore, internal reflections can drop MTF at f/8 significantly in some conditions: let’s see measured results from a *real* lens Sony.

It’s worth pointing out the Zeiss delivers MTF charts that are measured from real lenses on the K8 tester using the appropriate thickness sensor cover glass (while in Oberkochen I was shown how it’s done). But Leica to this day publishes computed MTF that does not even take sensor glass into account, which is why MTF for the new 28mm f/2 (and 28/2.8) does not look better than the prior version—yet the new Leica 28mm lenses are tweaked to perform assuming a digital sensor cover glass. Sigma does well, offering both geometric and diffraction MTF, but Canon and Nikon show fantasy MTF like Sony.

Observe (below) that the claimed MTF for the Sony 85/1.4 GM is on balance claimed to be nearly as good as the MTF of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar.

MTF for Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Sony’s Take on the Camera Market

Get Sony A6300 B&H Photo.

Sony states that its business is up 40% YOY. Sony says it’s about:

To create the whole new imaging experience that has never existed before.

Sony is succeeding, and they’re just warming up from what I can tell.

While I have much to fault Sony for, Sony aggresively improves its products with every iteration (some work is needed on ergonomics for sure). CaNikon should be more worried than ever. Ditto for every other brand because the camera business is about the volume that makes the technological R&D possible. While CaNikon take 3-5 years to deliver relatively minor updates in dinosaur DSLRs, Sony pushes strongly ahead every year with increasingly impressive features—incredibly impressive in context.

Sony says that the A6000 was the #1 selling camera of any kind (above $600, more than any DSLR or mirrorless camera, see video ~6:00).

With the new Sony A6300, Sony says it offers “world’s fastest and most tenacious autofocus system with coverage density that no separate autofocus module can match”. This is not just a warning shot across the bow to CaNikon, it’s a laser-drilled hole just above waterline. The technology pieces could come together within a year to blow CaNikon out of the water even in their prized sports-shooter market. Look at the core specs in focus points, frame rate, continous Live View at 8fps (very low blackout), etc and now imagine a higher-end camera released with a super tele or two, perhaps at 20 fps with near zero blackout and a thousand focus-tracking sensors.

Best 4K video from 20 megapixels (6K signal): “14 stop dynamic range delivers the best 4K video quality from Sony EVER in a consumer camera”. See video ~11:00.

Only a very foolish competitor would look at the Sony A6300 and not see the writing on the wall; it’s a test bed for higher-end products.

 
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