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Sony A7 II and Sony 55/1.8: Image Stabilization in Less Ideal Shooting Positions

The portrait examples benefitted from an ideal shooting position/stance. But what about bending over, crouching, squatting: where can image stabilization take you when the shooter’s body is not as stable as the ideal scenario?

Sensor Image Stabilization in Less Stable Shooting Position (Backyard Frosty)

f/2.8 @ 1/50 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/2.8 @ 1/50 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/6.3 @ 1/20 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/6.3 @ 1/20 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8

Sony A7 II and Sony 55/1.8: Assesssing Image Stabilization at 1/15 and 1/20 second, and 1/5 + 1/6 second

Sensor image stabilization has huge potential.

Portrait Examples (low light handheld, Sony A7 II IS)

Discussion included on what I found in practical terms.

UPDATE: more images added, down to 1/5 and 1/6 second.

f/1.8 @ 1/15 sec handheld; ISO 100; Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8
f/1.8 @ 1/15 sec handheld; ISO 100
Sony A7 II + Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8

Lenses as an Investment; Electronic Lenses vs Manual Control

This post is repeated/updated from September 2012, posted again here in Dec 2014 for its continuing relevance, and for reader Wayne P’s comment that follows.
...

A reader writes in response to my lenses as an investment:

Lenses like those in your "world class" category, superbly crafted manual focus lenses with aperture rings, certainly, and especially when they can be purchased in excellent condition at a great discount.

But I'm wondering about the expected longevity and adaptability of the newest Nikon lenses for the reasons, for example, given in the some online posts (plastic, electronic, motorized lenses, lacking an aperture ring, unreliable (based on LensRentals.com experience), restricted spare parts to put independent repair shops out of business, reports of "nightmare" warranty repair refusal due to "impact damage" and of refusal of paid repairs based on serial number, difficult to adapt to other camera systems unlike Leica R and Contax C/Y lenses that were able to outlive their systems to retain their value):

Or for that matter, if the Leica S2 system has no S3 successor (or an S4 ... after that), can those spectacular lenses that lack aperture rings (and do they have sufficient retrofocus) to actually be successfully adapted for use on other systems, like the Hasselblad V lenses can?

DIGLLOYD: Well made lenses do not come at much of a discount any more. Continued below...

Zeiss ZF.2 100mm ƒ/2 Malkro-Planar    Leica 50mm ƒ/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH    Leica 50mm ƒ/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH    Leica 90mm ƒ/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH    Nikon 105mm ƒ/2 DC
Lenses that should be good for a long time, on multiple camera platforms—
Manual aperture ring, focusing helicoid or manual focus option, no electronic requirement

If we have an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), anything electronic will die. And then there are other worries more fundamental. So I suppose one can take things as far as one wishes in terms as worrying about the worst, but I don’t sit around worrying about the worst.

I wholeheartedly agree that the trend to electronic lenses is a step backwards. The idea of updating firmware in a lens is atrocious. Nikon has taken a HUGE step backwards with its “G” lenses, rendering them useless on Canon and other platforms, unlike millions of prior Nikkors. A very good reason to invest in Zeiss ZF.2 instead.

The older Nikon (non-G) and Zeiss ZF.2 lenses can be used completely manually, so they are good forever. Ditto for Leica M, Leica R and Voigtlander for Nikon/Leica. And this is why Canon EF, Zeiss ZE and the newer Nikon “G” lenses (no aperture ring) SUCK for longevity— they either cannot be used at all cross-platform, or at least not without a special electronic adapter, many of which have various issues.

So if one wants to invest in the best glass, and one is willing to tolerate full manual focus and aperture, conventional lenses with a manual diaphragm (Zeiss ZF or ZF.2, Hasselblad V, Leica M, Leica R, Voigtlander for Nikon or Leica, etc)— those are the lenses to invest in. And the ones least likely to need repair (in my own experience). And the ones I deem most likely to hold future value.

Zeiss ZF.2 lenses can be used (by virtue of the mechanical aperture ring) on Nikon, Canon, Sony, and others. And they a great for video on Canon, with full manual aperture and focus.

As far as Leica S lenses, yes, they suffer from excessive future-creep including lousy manual focus feel— I wish they had been designed with a manual aperture ring and a helicoid and were thus adaptable to a Nikon or Canon body. Perhaps there is an adapter out there. But at least Leica is now quite profitable, and thus there is little chance of a service problem.

See also :

Wayne P writes in Dec 2014:

Great comments on lenses as Investment.

The following can only pertain to lenses as valued by the non professional. Where Lens= Revenue, things obviously become different.

In life, it has been my experience a sense of achievement comes only after some considerable effort on my part; generally, the harder the going, the greater the sense of achievement. Furthermore, at age 55, I make a distinct connection between achievement and happiness…….It kind of goes along with the old adage: Happiness comes from within.

“Investment” is a nebulous term and probably has as many definitions as there are people on Earth. For me, at least in part, I consider something to be a good “Investment” when I look back on the thing and realize it has brought, or will continue to bring, opportunities to pursue enjoyment and happiness.

Furthermore, at least for me, personal engagement is required for a real sense of achievement. In support of this I ask: “How can diminishing levels of personal engagement in a process not reduce the sense of achievement, and thus, happiness?”

Yesterday was Christmas. I used my Nikon D750 with the Zeiss 55 1.4 and my GH4 with the 42.5 1.2….Both, brilliant cameras and lenses. For some reason, I feel a greater sense of personal attachment to the photos from the Nikon, Zeiss combination. The D750, GH4, and the 42.5 did everything for me- and competently. The Zeiss required my full engagement……And should HE decide to take up photography, that Zeiss lens will require my grandson’s full engagement as well.

In my view the Zeiss lens does enter in the realm of “Investment.” The D750, GH4, and 42.5,? they exist in the realm, and will likely suffer the same fate as my modern Whirlpool appliances. I shall not get too attached to them.

Thanks for the great articles Lloyd.

DIGLLOYD: the “involvement” aspect is an excellent point helps explain why some cameras appeal, and some do not, which of course can vary by person.

Could it be that less involvement means less discipline in making images? I also feel the attractive force of some cameras, as Wayne points out so well here. Cameras I would put into this camp include the Nikon D810 with Zeiss primes (ditto for Canon equivalents), the Sigma DP Merrill line, and the Leica M Typ 240. All of these cameras share some kind of demand on me: manual focus and/or careful handling of exposure and focus. Out in the field, these all bring me much more satisfaction than the Sony A7 or RX1R series, or even the Ricoh GR.

Sony A7 II and Adobe Camera Raw

I have some Sony A7 II raw files I shot, but I am unable to process them in ACR, as there is no update which supports the A7 II as yet. I've downloaded and installed the 8.7.1 update on two different machines, but contrary to the claimed support, it does not produce an ACR in Photoshop capable of opening A7 II files.

Update: the installer is clearly failing somehow (silently). I was able to get 8.7.1 installed on my MacBook Pro, but Photoshop on the Mac Pro won’t “take”.

Update: only by uninstalling and reinstalling the entire Photoshop CC 2014 was I able to finally get Camera Raw 8.7.1 installed.

Year End Computer Purchases: Consult

Charles (4 Mac Pro systems) writes:

I did a back of the envelope calculation, it looks like you saved me about $15,000 total for the four systems.

I don't know how to put a value FastRawViewer but it looks like a game changer for me. It is faster than I can use even on my notebook. Wow!!!

MPG: I like to save my consulting clients money.

Adele writes:

I have a 2009 Mac Pro (4 drives plus a four drive enclosure for backup plus other off-site backup) and a 2010 MacBook Pro, both of which likely need to be replaced.

My accountant has suggested that I do this before year end.

MPG: The tax year is indeed about to close. My consulting hours are flexible, and I work with clients all over the world. While I don’t Skype myself, clients can skype to me from virtually anywhere.

Think Otus for High-Res Sensors

Think Otus, that is Zeiss Otus for sensors with resolution approaching 50 megapixels. It’s the 'glass' that makes the difference, and that is true even though there is far more than resolving power involved. Lenses are the investment; the camera is the accessory.

See the reviews of the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon and Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 APO-Planar in Guide to Zeiss.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

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Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS @ 24mm: Aperture Series, Mosaic

Get Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 OSS at B&H Photo.

The middle of the zoom range is an important area, and often one with very good performance and low distortion.

Sony FE 16-35/4: Aperture Series @ 24mm: Mosaic (Sony A7R)

Include the usual HD and UltraHD images and large crops from f/4 - f/16. This series also includes a a frame with overlay showing the prime imaging area.

  Mosaic and Pavers; Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 24mm @ f/5.6
Mosaic and Pavers
Sony A7R + Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS @ 24mm @ f/5.6

On Sony

I’ll continue to objectively review Sony cameras and lenses because they are in the market and a major player.

As for myself, I have firmed up my previous reluctance to invest my money in Sony products. Along with a revolting phone call experience last spring with Sony personnel, Sony’s checkered ethical history (which continues today with outgoing attacks on web sites), the Sony incompetence on their own security coupled with the Sony worst practice of a “root” updater Sony camera firmware, and now the whole spineless movie release thing, my discomfort with Sony has turned into contempt. This is not a company I wish to support with my spending.

At the same time, I feel no need to have that view adopted by anyone else; I am simply expressing how Sony looks to me as a a company. Which means I don’t confuse Sony the company and the many solid people within it with the leadship.

Mark M writes:

There were times I swore I would never buy another Nikon, Epson, or Canon (include Adobe, Google, etc.) product for very similar reasons of corporate arrogance; lack of competent service and customer service; predatory marketing practices; vindictive employees. Cyber security was not the issue then that it is today, and Sony Pictures has screwed up big time, no doubt about that.

On the other hand, I need to make images using the best products I can afford. And I get the satisfaction of watching Sony eat Nikon's, and though not as devastating, Canon's lunch. And in time, some other entity will blast Sony out of the water.

DIGLLOYD: My perspective is equally objective. Everyone has to deal with the reality of their own situation and a mix of conflicting factors—just like at the voting booth.

If Sony made a great camera that solves serious issues, I’d have to consider it. A product is the sum total of its part: physical manifestation, service and support, and the factors I started this discussion with.

Alfredo P writes:

I totally agree with you, so, please stop using cameras with Sony-made sensors inside!

DIGLLOYD: I sense sarcasm. Sony makes the best sensors on the market (Nikon D810).. See previous comment. I am not anti-Sony or anti any company: I just like well conceived products with good support and service and company behavior that doesn’t make raise my hackles. Sony could easily turn around its whole image, but its leadership seems to have an ingrained culture of circle the wagons.

Brad B writes:

If it hadn't been for your reviews of the A7R shutter vibration flaw and other things that were negative for me I was all set to go with that system. I wasn't thinking clearly because I was a little intimidated by the size and cost of the D810. Pfft, my fears were unfounded, after a couple of hours with the D810 it felt like an old friend because Nikon isn't stupid; basic things in thier design haven't changed that much since my first F in the early 70's and my fingers knew exactly where to go. After 40 something years of Nikon use I'm happier than ever with this amazing camera.

Sony is a huge monolithic company and their own worst enemy. I didn't know the story of the copy protection software fiasco until I read the link you provided--thanks. As for the movie melodrama, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Sony is foremost a Japanese company and they have a lot more to fear from the North Koreans than we do. If anyone is taking the hacking of their systems personally it should be people in Tokyo.

DIGLLOYD: I don’t conflate Sony the company leadership with its thousands of employees any more than I’d judge residents of a city by its leaders.

Regarding the A7R shutter vibration, I see the issue as a technical one about which I must inform my readers. Many users of the A7R can avoid or minimize the issues simply by the way the camera is used. But it won’t work in general for my needs. See also Sony, Fix These Things and Win.

James K writes:

I appreciate your comments on Sony. Not only do I own several Sony cameras, I also am a substantial owner of Sony stock, and I seriously thought of selling when the movie thing erupted. However, by now I’m sure you’ve noticed that Sony did inform the White House of the hacking and asked for advice.

Moreover, Sony pulled the movie because it could not get independently owned theaters to show it after the threat of violence. Faced with the certainty of crippling law suits in the event of an attack, and the sad realities of tort law in this country, this was a no brainer. What did bother me was the sickening bowing to one of our country’s worst race baiters, an individual who makes a living off blackmailing well-intentioned people and businesses. The only saving grace is that Sony Pictures is an independently run step-child of the parent company, and my guess is that this incident will cause a complete re-evaluation of that relationship.

DIGLLOYD: Clearly Sony has touched some nerves besides my own.

Dr. S writes:

Looks as if we both agree about the Sony Pictures debacle. Caving to this thug in North Korea can only mean we will rarely, if ever, see any movies with characters representing extremism of any kind. For example any movie depicting a militant Islamist in any fashion other than empathy/positive terms will result in terror threats from that community. If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled.

DIGLLOYD : Indeed, the chilling effects are a serious threat a healthy society, which to be free, must endure both the good and the ugly and coarse and vugar in discourse, because the extent to which unpleasant discourse is utttered is the only real measure of the true freedom of speech—when minimal it means people do not feel free to express views. To be clear, censorship is a concept often mangled by the press; it applies to government controls over citizens. As is happening now in California with our attorney general. Far worse is the effective codification of intolerance of view points into the vast majority of colleges and universities in this country (in the name of tolerance). And 51 US senators voting to consider neutering the 1st amendment. The future looks grim, and the Sony thing is only a blip.

Chris C writes:

Your correspondent, Dr. S., writes: "If Charlie Chaplain's satirization of Hitler were to be made now perhaps it would also be pulled."

The fact is that it could have been pulled right then, had Chaplin not
secured a large measure of independence. Ben Urwand, a Harvard
historian, has recently published a history of Hollywood's
entanglement with, and appeasement of, the Nazis right up to WWII.

As it happens, Urwand was just asked by TIME to comment on the Sony
debacle. His take is here:
http://time.com/3644539/the-interview-is-not-the-first-time-hollywood-bowed-to-a-dictator/

Quote from Urwand's piece:

"So yes, The Interview was cancelled, and yes, it may have been a silly comedy in the first place, but figures in Hollywood and Washington have not allowed the events to pass unnoticed. In the 1930s, Hollywood entered into an agreement with the Nazis, and as a result, the images on the American screen were censored by a foreign
dictator. Tragically, this meant that instead of mobilizing audiences against fascism, or even giving people a chance to laugh at Hitler, there was only silence."

I think this is a lot bigger than Sony Pictures. A cold-minded, hard-nosed capitalist could analyse the stakes and conclude that indiscriminate pursuit of gain tends to create conditions where earning money at any price is no longer worthwhile —
or too risky.

Notes and References on Ben Urwand's book: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674724747&content=reviews

A positive review:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/16/collaboration-hollywood-hitler-ben-urwand

A frightful panning:
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/how-could-harvard-have-published-ben-urwands-the-collaboration

Last Minute Deals: Discounted Mac Pro, Deal Zone, and Oatmeal

The mass shopping murmuration reaches its climax right around now. But it will come down soon.

Looking for a Mac Pro? For general photography, the 6-core Mac Pro is the sweet spot. See my review of the 2013 Mac Pro over at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

Don’t forget 64GB 2013 Mac Pro memory at OWC.

B&H Photo has many 2013 Mac Pro models discounted by $250 to $400, with free one day shipping. MPG strongly recommends Mac Pro with the 1TB flash drive, or at least the 512TB flash drive, but you can upgrade to 1TB or 2TB SSD later. The B&H Photo DEAL ZONE has a few interesting smaller items.

OWC has a bunch of stuff on sale and Cyber Savers and used Macs and displays.

For stocking stuffers sure to enthrall your kids, get 'em a few bags of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Thick Oats at Amazon. Well, they can make cookies heh heh.

Server Changes in Place

About 2 weeks of intensive coding work 14 hours a day has now come to its fruition. The hard part wasn’t designing something new; it was achieving near perfect compatibility with material up to 8 years old. A goal achieved over several iterations.

“Delivery” comes with pain in my right “mouse arm”, of considerable concern and with due caution now in my head. Well, yesterday was 16 hours almost nonstop. This might slow me down for a few days to recuperate the injury.

The server now generates all gallery and crop pages on subscriber pages (the windows that pop up with large images and/or crops). This removes a significant chunk of effort from my workflow, since these pages are now automagical. It also guarantees that there cannot be “page not found” errors—because they are generated dynamically at runtime based on what actually exists. There is some risk that crops might be missed in some older material that used ad-hoc naming conventions, so please report any unusual glitches, apparently missing images, etc.

The structural changes offer further potential, which is why I expended so much time and effort—lots of behind the scenes work to do what I do here.

Visible changes

Above images in publication pages (subscriber pages), the available “gallery page” sizes are listed; each links to the appropriate page, e.g., “1284 | 2568 | 3852, and 4 crops”.

diglloyd image

Each gallery page has these links as well, so it is now quick and easy to toggle between the available sizes right on the same page. Future pages will have additional size choices so as to make the viewing experience better for the hugely varying screen sizes (from iPhone to small laptop to 4K to 5K.

diglloyd image

On publication pages (top right) is also a new toggle option for Retina On/OFF and image size Large/Small. The current state is show; click each control to toggle, e.g. from Retina ON to Retina OFF, or from Large to Small.

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