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

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cabin interior




Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo

This is what happens when you experiment.


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

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

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

Mountains in Fog


Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

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

Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
(Nikon mount)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bristlecone Vista at Dusk


Canon 5DS R: Summary Thoughts

Canon 5DS R

Get Canon 5DS DSLR at B&H Photo.

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

Not for the faint-hearted, no punches pulled:

Overview of Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R

Initial comments :

Ergonomics and Usability

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

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

Lexar Professional 64GB 2000X SDXC
with supplied card reader

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

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

Lexar Professional 1000X 256GB SDXC Camera Storage Card

Lexar Professional 1066X 128GB Compact Flash Camera Storage Card

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

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

I hugely prefer high-capacity cards (64GB) because in the field there is no need to erase them, thus they are an additional backup over and above downloading the day’s shoot (and backing that up too). Aside from cost, I’d be buying 128GB or larger cards for that reason, but for now 64GB serves me amply for most of my trips (not filling up).

Our trusted photo rental store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oakdale Feed Plant
Sleek and Fast SSD
240GB / 480GB / 960GB, perfect for travel or silent backup

FOR SALE: Leica, Canon, Nikon Lenses

Selling this gear—not meant as a statement on anything, purely a business decision; cannot afford everything and so much new and expensive gear arrives each year.

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

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

  • Nikon AF-S VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED $650
  • Canon 5D Mark III with Really Right Stuff L-bracket $2050, in original box, etc
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4L $900
  • Canon 50mm f/1.2L $1050
  • Canon 135mm f/2L $700
  • Leica 35mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE (2010 version) $3500
  • Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH $3000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader comments

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

Paul W writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thom Hogan of byThom.com writes:

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

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

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

Ross J writes:

Pawtec car charger for Magsafe

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

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

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

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

Other companies

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

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

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

BatteryBox with MagSafe compatible connector


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

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

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

Back From Mountains Unexpectedly Early Due to Forest Fires

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barcroft observatory dome near White Mountain Peak

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

Bruce Z writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Canon 5DS R Hits New High, With Zeiss Otus

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

A double-entendre, but I could not resist.

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

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

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

Summit of 14,242-foot White Mountain Peak, White Mountains of California

Canon 5DS R: Noise Under Real-World Conditions in the Field

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

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

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

Canon 5DS R Real-World Noise: Moonstar Bristlecone

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

Moonstar over Bristlecone

Canon 5DS R: Field Shooting

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

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

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

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

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

Moonstar over Bristlecone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zeiss Rebates / Zeiss Discounts Ongoing

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

View all Zeiss rebates at B&H Photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon 5DS R: Field Shooting

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

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

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

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

Canon 5DS R: new King of DSLR Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon 5DSR monochrome conversion, one of many possible variations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifty megapixels is a big deal.

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

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

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

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

Actual pixels
Huge Selection of Drones

Canon 5DS R: Comments on Image Quality and Various

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

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

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

vs Nikon D810

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

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

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

Sharpness and noise overall image quality

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

Monochrome potential

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Manufacturer’s description

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dell UP2715K: 5K Display for Mac or PC

Details at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

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

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

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

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

Is it worth upgrading to the 5DS R?

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

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

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

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

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

Canon 5DS R: Sharpness, Noise, Monochrome Potential

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

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

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

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

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

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


Sony Working on Uncompressed File Format?

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

Sony A7R II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Canon 5DS R: Sharpness, Noise, Monochrome Potential

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

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

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

Canon 5DS R + Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar @ f/10
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240GB / 480GB / 960GB, perfect for travel or silent backup

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

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

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

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

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

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

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

This example with a six stop Breakthrough Photography ND filter.

Lundy Creek
Glacial Directionality, Hoover Wilderness

Really Right Stuff Base Plate and L Bracket for the Leica M Typ 240 Fits the Leica M Monochrom Typ 246

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

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

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

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

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

Really Right Stuff BM240 base plate for Leica M Typ 240   
Really Right Stuff BM240 base plate for Leica M Typ 240
(fits Leica M Monochrom Typ 246b also)

Attractive Deals: Lexar 256GB SDXC, NEC PA242W Professional Display, DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter with GoPro Mount, iPad Air

DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter


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

DJI Phantom 1.1.1 Quadcopter with GoPro Mount $299

Wide gamut display (limited supply)

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

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

Lexar 256GB SDXC card

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

About $109 with free expedited shipping.

iPad Air

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

B&H for Everything Nikon
diglloyd Nikon reviews in DAP

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

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

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

See earlier notes from today.

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

Which lenses for 50 megapixels?

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

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

Must-have expansion: OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

Reader Question: Which Raw Converter?

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

Greg M writes:

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

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

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

I’m really enjoying the Zeiss Batis series too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph O. H. writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sebastian B writes:

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

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

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

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

Sony A7R II

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

Richard J writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canon 5DS R Expected Tomorrow

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

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

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

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

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

Accessories for Canon 5DS / Canon 5DS R

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

In my review of Zeiss Batis in Guide to Mirrorless:

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

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

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

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

Aspen Trunks

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

Sony FE 28mm f/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drainage aboveSaddlebag Lake

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

Sony FE 28mm f/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waterfall view of Mt Conness Sub-Peak

Miles from the car, what a nervous thrill to see a June snowstorm move in powerfully and fast. Fun and trepidation—I kept on shooting.

Snowstorm rolls in over Saddlebag Lake
Aura SSD for 2013 Mac Pro

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

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moonrise over Mono Lake

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon Examples: White Mountains

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

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

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

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

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

Bristlecone pines at sunrise, Patriarch Grove

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

Sony FE 28mm f/2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gnarled Stump in Snowstorm, Hoover Wilderness

Reader Inquiry: Banding, Posterization, Color Shifts (and the right workflow)

Alex C writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Why a Wide Gamut Color Space Matters in DAP.

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

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

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

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

  Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/2, 2014-1029 18:10
Solo Bristlecone, Earth Shadow
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon @ f/2, 2014-1029 18:10

Ricoh’s vignetting correction

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

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

See also:

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

Matt S writes

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

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


Canon 5DS / 5DS R

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

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

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

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

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar


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

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

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

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

50-megapixel Canon 5DS R

Tested: Lexar 256GB 1000X SDXC Card

Lexar Professional 256GB 1066X SDXC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance of Lexar 256GB 1066X SDXC

Jan P writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See reviews on Sony mirrorless.

Sony A7R II

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

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

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


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

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

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

  1. √ FIXED Deliver a 36 - 56 megapixel mirrorless camera with an EFC shutter (zero vibration), so that peak image quality can be reliably achieved. Bonus points for a medium format sensor.
  2. UNCHANGED BUT MAYBE IN THE WORKS. Add a lossless-compressed 15-bit file format. Keep the 11+7 bit format for those who want it, but deliver ultra high image quality for those who want it (and make the electronics ultra clean, so that it really does matter).
  3. √ FIXED: all magnesium body with mode dial lock and “stronger and more rigid mount and body support use of large and heavy lenses...”. Deliver cameras with robust high strength lens mounts, not the toy-grade build of the current lineup that is seeing replacement products! Bonus points for weather sealing.
  4. √ FIXED Deliver 5-axis sensor image stabilization in this high-resolution camera.
  5. IMPROVED, but same resolution. Deliver a 4MP EVF, built-in.
  6. IMPROVED, better grip like the A7 II, still needs work. Make the camera larger (somewhat): the buttons are too small and fiddly compared to a Nikon D810. A7R with gloves (cold) means taking gloves off. No fun.
  7. √ FIXED, counting the two (soon three) Zeiss Batis lenses and the Sony 28mm f/2, Sony 35/1.4, and 90mm f/2.8. Aggressively move the lens lineup forward, perhaps by paying Zeiss to extend the Loxia line quickly and with ultra high performance lens designs (Zeiss Otus grade, but half the price and near-perfect f/2.8 designs).
  8. √ FIXED: 4K video with flexible options. Add 4K video.
  9. UNCHANGED. Bonus points: near-zero blackout time, emove Sony crapware from menus, add a “My Menu”, offer raw-only shooter mode (eliminate all JPEG cruft, have right proper raw histogram).

Dinosaur companies

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

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

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

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

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