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Reader Comment: Big and Heavy Sony G Master Lenses

Get Sony G Master at B&H Photo.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

Howard C writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can hope that Zeiss persists in expanding the Batis and Loxia lines, and that Sony eventually sees the need for f/2.8 super lenses.

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

  • 15mm f/2.8 APO fisheye
  • 18/3.5, 21/3.2, 25/2.8, 28/2.8, 35/2.8 (all APO)
  • 50/2 APO, 90/2.8 APO, 135/3.4 APO, 180/4 APO
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Leica v2016 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH Assessment of Focus Shift at MOD

Get Leica 28mm at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/2.8 Emarit-M ASPH

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Get Leica 28mm at B&H Photo.

Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Sony A6300 at B&H Photo.

I discussed the Sony A6300 a few days ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Black and white conversion settings also shown.

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

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

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

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

Some black and white examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MTF for Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

Sony’s Take on the Camera Market

Get Sony A6300 B&H Photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Sony A6300, and the Fujifilm X-Pro2

Get Sony A6300 and Fujifilm X-Pro2 B&H Photo.

Sony says that the A6000 was the #1 selling mirrorless camera ever.

And so the about $998 Sony A6300 is a particularly intriguing camera in the context of the $1699 Fujifilm X-Pro2. Same resolution, a lot lower price, and key differentiators. These things and much more are well worth considering before taking the plunge.

Video: The Sony A6300 has advanced 4K video features; the X-Pro2 has no 4K video at all. I’ll put it simply: 4K video from Sony mirrorless is fabulous on my 4K TV, jaw-dropping. I just cannot see buying a mirrorless camera that shoots 1/4 the pixels (1080p) instead of 4K UltraHD. Moroever the Sony A6300 uses 2.4X oversampling (1.56X linearly) for quality gains. If all you want is 1080p, the A6300 does 120 fps; the Fujifilm X-Pro2 only does 60 fps. Game over on the video front. Plus there are the Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras for a growth path.

Lenses: I prefer to invest in lenses with a future: the lenses I want cover full frame (Zeiss Batis, Zeiss Loxia and some Sony lenses) whereas Fujifilm X lenses cover APS-C—no future there. Invest in a good lens once, keep using it for years to come. Fujifilm X lenses are a “start over” system should Fujifilm get around to full frame, and the Fujifilm lens line, while superb, is no longer superior to choices for Sony mirrorless.

Image quality: Fujifilm color is gorgeous. But the fractal-like digital artifacts show up at unwanted times with every Fujifilm body (image specific), since they all share the same solution-in-search-of-a-problem X-Trans sensor. I’ll happily take the Sony sensor any day.

Focus points: more than the X-Pro2 and Sony claims the world’s fastest focus. Sony says “world’s fastest and most tenacious autofocus system with coverage that no separate autofocus module can match”. This is not just a warning shot across the bow to CaNikon, it’s a laser-drilled hole just above waterline: the technology pieces could come together within a year to blow CaNikon out of the water even in their prized sports-shooter market. Wither my 56-megapixel Nikon D900 with an EVF?

Bottom line: the Sony A6300 offers a ton of value for a lot less money than the X-Pro2, and there is a clear path forward with Sony, which is aggressively expanding its product line. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 buyer needs very specific reasons to proceed down that path (“I shoot stills only and I love the controls and shooting experience). [I definitely do not love the shooting experience for my shooting style, but maybe it will be fixed in the X-Pro2].

  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0" 921.6k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
  • Internal UHD 4K30 & 1080p120 Recording
  • S-Log3 Gamma and Display Assist Function
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC
  • 4D FOCUS with 425 Phase-Detect Points
  • Up to 11 fps Shooting and ISO 51200

Sony A6300 as described by Sony

Key points highlighted.

Fast-focusing and 4K-shooting, the Alpha a6300 from Sony is a versatile APS-C-format mirrorless digital camera designed for multimedia image-makers.

Revolving around a redeveloped 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor, clean image quality is provided with a wide expandable sensitivity range to ISO 51200, along with accelerated readout speeds for internal 4K30 and Full HD 1080p120 video recording with full pixel readout.

Stills shooters also benefit from the apt processing speed, which enables continuous shooting at 11 fps for up to 21 raw frames in a burst, as well as 14-bit raw file output. Complementing both stills and video, the sensor and processor combination also avails 4D FOCUS, which combines a wide-coverage 425-point phase-detection system with a 169-area contrast detection system for quick and precise focusing performance. This focusing system also enables High-density Tracking AF for more efficient and accurate tracking of moving subjects across the image frame. A well-rounded camera for both photographers and videographers, the a6300 is characterized by its speed and further qualified by its refined image and video quality.

Complementing the imaging assets, the a6300 also sports a robust magnesium alloy body that is dust and moisture-resistant to permit working in harsh environments. The compact profile incorporates a high-resolution XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder for bright, clear, eye-level viewing, and this EVF features a 120 fps viewing mode for smooth tracking of fast-moving subjects. A rear 3.0" 921.6k-dot LCD monitor is also available and has a tilting design to benefit shooting from high and low working angles. Additionally, for wireless remote control over the camera, or for just sharing imagery online, built-in Wi-Fi with NFC permits linking with a mobile device for intuitive wireless control.

24.2MP Exmor CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Processor

The APS-C-format 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor pairs with the BIONZ X image processor to realize smooth, nuanced image quality with minimal noise and high sensitivity from ISO 100-25600, which can further be expanded to ISO 51200 for working in low-light conditions. The sensor features a unique design that utilizes thin copper wiring and enhanced circuit processing to boost light-gathering abilities, reduce noise, and increase readout speeds to benefit video recording. The sensor and processor combination also avails a top continuous shooting rate of 11 fps for up to 21 raw frames in a single burst with AF and AE, 8 fps shooting in live view, and permits 14-bit raw file output for a wider tonal and color scale.

4D FOCUS

Covering nearly the entire sensor area, a powerful 4D FOCUS system incorporates 425 on-chip phase-detection points along with 169 contrast-detection areas for precise focusing in as little as 0.05 seconds. The density of focusing points from this hybrid AF system also enables High-density Tracking AF Technology, which is adept at tracking moving subjects in a variety of lighting conditions. The use of phase-detection points also enables the use of A-mount lenses via the optional LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 lens mount adapters with full AF compatibility.

The apt 4D FOCUS system also lends itself to a variety of focusing functions for refined accuracy, including Lock-on AF, which maintains focus on moving subjects throughout the use of a configurable frame that is set over the desired moving subject, and Expand Flexible Spot, which employs neighboring focus points to retain focus on moving subjects even if the originally selected point loses focus. Additionally, Eye AF can be used to base focus on recognized subjects' eyes for portraits and is available in both AF-S and AF-C modes. Autofocus can also be used in conjunction with the Focus Magnifier function for critical focus when homing in on minute subject details.

In addition to autofocus, the a6300 also features a Peaking MF function to benefit manual focus control by highlighted sharp edges of contrast for a more objective means of acquiring sharp focus.

UHD 4K Video Recording

Internal recording of UHD 4K movies is possible in multiple frame rates up to 30 fps and, based on the Super35mm recording area and effective 20MP (6000 x 3376) resolution, 2.4x oversampling renders greater detail and full pixel readout is possible, that is void of pixel binning, for higher quality imagery with reduced moiré and aliasing. Full HD 1080p recording is also supported in frame rates up to 120 fps, and both resolutions utilize the 100 Mbps XAVC S format contained within an MP4 wrapper with 4:2:0 sampling. The high-speed, 120 fps recording also enables 4x and 5x slow-motion movie recording with the frame rate set to either 30p or 24p. In addition to high-resolution internal recording, uncompressed HDMI output also enables the use of an optional external recorder for clean 4K recording with 4:2:2 sampling.

Custom Color Profiles and S-Log3 Gamma

Support is available for the S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log-3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3 profiles that enable up to a 1300% wider dynamic range for smoother tonal and color gradations, along with enhanced sensitivity and clarity in shadows and mid-tones. These profiles also lend themselves to greater compatibility within a professional workflow and are well-paired to the Cineon Log gamma curve for versatile post-production grading and color control. The S-Log3 gamma setting also offers an impressive 14-stop wide dynamic range for greater control over the highlights and shadows, while the S-Gamut3.Cine profile can be used to mimic the qualities of scanned negative film with a wide gamut comparable to the DCI-P3 color space. Additionally, the popular S-Log2 setting is also available.

Zebra and Gamma Display Assist

An enhanced Zebra function is ideally suited to working with S-Log gamma profiles and aids in monitoring exposure values in high-contrast scenes. Video signal level targets can be set from 0 to 109, and specific ranges can be set to make exposure level adjustments easier.

In contrast, a Gamma Display Assist function is also available that displays scenes with natural contrast when recording with S-Log settings. This function converts imagery to the ITU709 profile for easier on-camera monitoring.

Time Code and User Bit Settings

A time code can be used to record hours, minutes, seconds, frames on image data for more precise editing while the User Bit function can record date, time, and scene number to aid in editing together footage from multiple cameras.

Body Design and Built-In Wi-Fi

  • A robust magnesium alloy body offers a durable profile, and also incorporates dust and moisture seals to protect against harsh environments.
  • The XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder offers a bright, high-resolution means for eye-level monitoring, and also sports a dedicated 120 fps mode for smoother viewing when tracking moving subjects.
  • A 3.0" 921.6k-dot LCD screen can be tilted 90° upward or 45° downward to suit working from high and low angles. The screen also incorporates White Magic technology with an RGBW pixel structure for increased brightness to support use in daylight conditions.
  • Nine customizable buttons can be set to control more than 64 functions for more intuitive handling.
  • The included NP-FW50 rechargeable lithium-ion is rated for 350 shots per charge when working with the viewfinder, or 400 shots per charge with the LCD screen.
  • In addition to the battery, the a6300 can also be powered via a USB connection to a computer or mobile battery. This connection can also be used to charge the battery.
  • A rigid metal lens mount better supports working with larger, heavier lens designs.
    An ergonomic grip structure is ideal for long shooting sessions and facilitates easy access to the main control buttons and dials.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi enables the a6300 to instantly share imagery to mobile devices for direct sharing online to social networking, via email, and to cloud storage sites. NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported, which allows for one-touch connection between the camera and compatible mobile devices; no complex set-up is required. Once connected, the linked mobile device can also display a live view image on its screen and remotely control the camera's shutter.
  • PlayMemories Camera Apps are also supported via the built-in Wi-Fi connection, and allow you to personalize the camera's features depending on specific shooting styles. Apps are available to suit creating portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time lapse, motion shot, and other specific types of imagery.

Other Camera Features

  • A Silent Shooting mode makes use of an electronic shutter function for completely silent performance that is ideal for photographing in noise-sensitive areas. When using this mode, up to 3 fps continuous shooting is available with autofocus and auto-exposure.
  • Multi Frame NR records consecutive images at a reduced ISO sensitivity and then composites them into a single image to realize higher effective sensitivity with minimal image noise.
  • Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO) works to improve images featuring backlit subjects or scenes with high contrast where details can be lost in the shadows or highlights. This mode can be controlled automatically or fine-tuned using five settings.
  • Auto HDR automatically records three sequential frames of an image and composites them into a single frame to realize greater shadow and highlight detail with an extended range of mid-tones.
  • An advanced 1200-zone evaluative exposure metering sensor delivers consistent and accurate results using multi-segment, center-weighted, or spot metering modes.
  • When working with ISO Auto settings, you can configure a minimum shutter speed setting to better ensure sharp imagery.
  • Clear Image Zoom can be used to magnify the center of scenes by 2x to effectively extend the reach of any focal length lens. This digital zoom technology uses an intelligent interpolation process to minimize the amount of image degradation in order to produce realistic, high-quality images.
  • Picture Effect: Posterization (Color, B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R, G, B, Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature, Watercolor, and Illustration.
  • Creative Style: Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Clear, Deep, Light, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Autumn Leaves, Black & White, and Sepia; contrast, saturation, and sharpness can be adjusted across +/- 3 steps.
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Ming’s Queenstown Landscape Workshop

Due to a cancellation Ming Thein has a spot left in his Queenstown Landscape Workshop. Ming is a sharp guy; if you’re looking for something outside the usual photo class box, this opportunity may be for you!

Time for something different. This April, I’m offering more than a workshop: an intensive experience to raise your photography to the next level. The focus will be on landscape, in and around Queenstown, New Zealand. We (I) will be driving a lot, bringing you to locations I discovered on my last trip to both explore and develop your own work. But here’s the kicker: the workshop will limited to just three participants, and is inclusive of 4*+ accommodation and ground transport costs. It’s something I’ve been asked for in the past, but didn’t make much sense unless going to a location where driving/ground transport is necessary and we have much range to cover...

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM

Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM

Get Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM at B&H Photo.

Is this 24-70mm f/2.8 GM the nail in the coffin for Canon and Nikon in terms of mainstream shooters? CaNikon still offers no meaningful mirrorless anything and the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II being niche cameras, the Sony onslaught continues. The 'game' approaches the 4th quarter.

With the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and Sony 35mm f/1.4 and Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia and Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM, the vast majority of shooting scenarios are now covered for wedding and portrait photographers, most landscape shooting, and all other common and mainstream uses.

Still lacking are high quality wide angle lenses (11-18mm range), high grade 50mm and 135mm primes, and super teles. But with a high-grade 24-70/2.8 and a high-grade 85/1.4, the bread is now buttered.

I’ll be testing the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM as soon as B&H receives them. The optical specifications look good, assuming the lens is built with quality control that avoids symmetry issues.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • One XA Element, Two Aspherical Elements
  • One ED Element, One Super ED Element
  • Nano AR Coating
  • Direct Drive SSM Focus System
  • Internal Focus Design
  • Focus Hold Button, AF/MF Switch
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Nine-Blade Circular Diaphragm

A fast standard zoom favored for its versatility, the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a wide-angle to short telephoto lens designed for E-mount mirrorless cameras. Featuring a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens maintains consistent performance throughout the zoom range and benefits working in low-light conditions and with selective focus techniques.

Complementing the apt light-gathering capabilities is an equally impressive optical design, which incorporates three aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion elements. One of the aspherical elements features an XA (extreme aspherical) designation, ensuring its refined surface precision and notable ability to minimize spherical aberrations throughout the zoom range. Additionally, a Nano AR Coating has been applied to individual elements to significantly minimize lens flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color neutrality. Pairing a sophisticated optical design and versatile speed, this standard zoom is well-suited for use in a wide array of environments and lighting conditions.

Beyond the attributes of the lens system itself, this 24-70mm is also characterized by a Direct Drive SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) system that provides fast, quiet AF performance as well as responsive manual focus handling. The lens is also dust- and moisture-sealed, to permit working in inclement weather conditions, and nuanced details, such as a focus hold button and rubberized control dials, further the intuitiveness in handling.

  • As part of Sony's esteemed G Master series, this lens is designed to achieve notably high resolution and sharpness through the correction of a wide variety of spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, these lenses feature robust and intuitive-to-handle physical designs to benefit both photography and cine applications.
  • Covering wide-angle to portrait-length perspectives, this standard 24-70mm zoom is designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras and is also compatible with APS-C models, where it will provide a 36-105mm equivalent focal length range.
  • Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture maintains consistent performance from wide-angle to telephoto focal length positions and also contributes to greater selective focus control.
  • Of the three aspherical elements incorporated in the lens design, one is an XA element with superior surface precision to effectively reduce astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other monochromatic aberrations from imagery.
  • One extra-low dispersion element and one Super ED element are featured in the lens design, too, and help to control chromatic aberrations and reduce color fringing for increased clarity and color fidelity.
  • A Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.
  • A rounded nine-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing shallow depth of field techniques.
  • A Direct Drive SSM system and internal focus mechanism provides quick, quiet, and precise autofocus performance and also contributes to more natural, intuitive manual focus control.
  • A dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions and rubberized control rings benefit handling in colder temperatures

Jason W writes:

The 24-70mm GM is great, but it's a drop in the bucket. They could re-brand Canon L glass at this point and sell it 20% off and it wouldn't ameliorate brand trust or lack of a credible service department.

And while Sony dominates sensors, I'm not seeing the dent in Canon or Nikon camera sales, even with their lack of entry into the pro mirrorless segment.

A recent Japanese report showed that Sony, previously #1 in mirrorless, was beaten by Olympus last year. What's going on out there?

DIGLLOYD: the “drop in the bucket” comment is not credible: the lens lineup on Sony now covers 95% of common shooting. As for Sony service and support, that is indeed a very weak area, but Sony does have a Sony Pro Service Program.

As for my own subscription business, interest in Canon and Nikon and Zeiss has dropped off a cliff even as interest in Sony mirrorless has surged. The interest in mirrorless is confined to Sony (Olympus interest is just about zero, Fujifilm slightly better). Of course, my business is at the high-end, but as for Canon and Nikon sales, a large number of APS-C models languished for six months at deep discounts and full-frame models were slow sellers too. The Canon 5DS/5DS R came into stock quickly and stayed there. These realities conflict with the viewpoint expressed above, at least in the USA. Finally, Sony claims a 40% year-over-year increase, which is might impressive when DSLR sales are down.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Get Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM at B&H Photo.

With its 24-70mm f/2.8 GM and 85mm f/1.4 GM siblings and other Sony lenses along with Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia, the Sony 70-20mm f/2.8 GM fills out the lens line nicely (and with Sony FE teleconverters too!).

Sony now has a system for 95% of mainstream applications, as well as unassailable 4K video support with three full-frame mirrorless cameras and now the Sony A6300 as well.

How will Canon and Nikon survive this onslaught? Surely not by focusing on niche cameras like the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II: where is (at the least) the Nikon D900 and a Canon DSLR with decent dynamic range (even forgetting the gaping mirrorless chasm).

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • One XA Element, Two Aspherical Elements
  • Four ED Elements, Two Super ED Elements
  • Nano AR Coating and Fluorine Coating
  • Linear SSM Focus System
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Internal Focus, Focus Range Limiter
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Eleven-Blade Circular Diaphragm
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM OSS

A popular telephoto zoom focal length featuring a bright constant maximum aperture, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS from Sony covers portrait-length to telephoto perspectives and is designed for E-mount mirrorless cameras. Characterized by both its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture and inclusion of OSS (Optical SteadyShot) image stabilization, this lens is ideally-suited for handheld shooting of distant and fast-moving subjects.

Equally refined, the optical design incorporates a trio of aspherical elements, including one XA (extreme aspherical) element, and six extra-low dispersion elements to minimize spherical and chromatic aberrations throughout the zoom range. A Nano AR Coating has been applied to lens elements to reduce flare and ghosting and the front element also features a fluorine coating to guard against smudges and markings from adhering to the glass surface. Pairing a versatile reach and sophisticated design, this professional-quality telephoto zoom is well-suited for a variety of working conditions.

Benefitting performance is an apt autofocus system comprised of a dual linear motor actuator to drive the rear groups and an SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) system to control the front groups for quick, precise, and quiet AF control. Further complementing handling and focus is a dedicated focus hold button, focus range limiter, and an AF/MF switch, and the included tripod collar has a rotating design for easier switching between horizontal and vertical shooting orientations. Additionally, the lens sports a dust and moisture-resistant design for use in trying environmental conditions.

  • As part of Sony's esteemed G Master series, this lens is designed to achieve notably high resolution and sharpness through the correction of a wide variety of spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, these lenses feature robust and intuitive-to-handle physical designs to benefit both photography and cine applications.
  • A popular telephoto zoom designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, this 70-200mm lens is also compatible with APS-C models where it provides a 105-300mm equivalent focal length range.
  • A constant f/2.8 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range and also lends greater control over focus position for shallow depth of field techniques.
  • Of the three aspherical elements incorporated in the lens design, one is an XA element with superior surface precision to effectively reduce astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other monochromatic aberrations from imagery.
  • Four extra-low dispersion elements and two Super ED elements are featured in the lens design, too, and help to control chromatic aberrations and reduce color fringing for increased clarity and color fidelity.
  • A Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.
  • The front lens element features a fluorine coating to protect against smudges and dust from adhering to the glass surface.
  • A rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing selective focus techniques.
  • Optical SteadyShot image stabilization helps to minimize the appearance of camera shake for sharper imagery when shooting handheld with slower shutter speeds. This stabilization system can also be combined with select camera's sensor-shift type image stabilization for more effective control of camera blur.
  • An OSS Mode switch lets you choose Mode 1 for general image stabilization that is suited to most types of shooting as well as a Mode 2 setting that is specifically intended to be used with panning movements.
  • A linear SSM system and internal focus mechanism provides quick, quiet, and precise autofocus performance and also contributes to more natural, intuitive manual focus control.
  • A floating elements system benefits image quality when working at the 3.15' minimum focusing distance with 0.25x magnification.
  • Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions.
  • Removable rotating tripod collar permits quick switching from horizontal to vertical shooting orientations.
  • Focus range limiter and focus hold controls offer more intuitive handling and faster performance when photographing moving subjects.
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

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

I’ll be testing the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM as soon as B&H receives them. The optical specifications look promising, assuming the lens is built with quality control that avoids symmetry issues.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • One XA Element and Three ED Elements
  • Nano AR Coating
  • Linear SSM Focus System
  • Internal Focus Design
  • Focus Hold Button, AF/MF Switch
  • Manual Aperture Ring
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Eleven-Blade Circular Diaphragm

A prized focal length for portraiture, the FE 85mm f/1.4 GM from Sony is a fast, short-telephoto lens designed for E-mount mirrorless digital cameras. Characterized by its flattering perspective and fast f/1.4 maximum aperture, this lens is adept at isolation focus for shallow depth of field effects, as well as performing in low-light conditions.

The optical design incorporates three extra-low dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberrations and one XA (extreme aspherical) element, which significantly controls spherical aberrations for a high degree of image sharpness and clarity. Additionally, a Nano AR coating has been applied to limit ghosting and lens flare for increased contrast and color fidelity when working in strong lighting conditions. Pairing a bright f/1.4 aperture with a short-telephoto focal length, this 85mm lens is ideally suited for portraiture and other situations where focus control is paramount.

Complementing the optical assets, this lens is also notable for its inclusion of an 11-blade circular diaphragm to produce smooth, soft-edged bokeh with selective focus imagery. For controlling focus, a linear SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) is employed that is quick and quiet, and also lends more responsive control for manual focus operation. The lens also sports a dust- and moisture-sealed design to support shooting in inclement conditions and a dedicated focus hold button, AF/MF switch, and manual aperture ring lend further control while shooting.

  • As part of Sony's esteemed G Master series, this lens is designed to achieve notably high resolution and sharpness through the correction of a wide variety of spherical and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, these lenses feature robust and intuitive-to-handle physical designs to benefit both photography and cine applications.
  • A portrait-length prime designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, this 85mm f/1.4 is also compatible with APS-C models where it will provide a 127.5mm equivalent focal length.
  • Fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working in difficult lighting conditions and also offers a wealth of control over focus position when using shallow depth of field techniques.
  • One XA element is incorporated into the optical design, which features superior surface precision for effective control over astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other spherical aberrations.
  • Three extra-low dispersion elements are featured in the lens design and help to reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing for improved clarity and color neutrality.
  • A Nano AR Coating has been applied to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for increased contrast and color rendering in strong lighting conditions.
  • Rounded 11-blade diaphragm contributes to a pleasing bokeh quality when employing selective focus techniques.
  • A linear SSM system and internal focus mechanism provides quick, quiet, and precise autofocus performance and also contributes to more natural, intuitive manual focus control.
  • Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions and rubberized control rings benefit handling in colder temperatures.
  • Manual aperture ring can be de-clicked for smooth, silent aperture switching to benefit video applications.
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Breakthrough Photography Circular Polarizing Filters (CPOL)

The Breakthrough Photography X4 circular polarizer filters (CPOL) have an exceptionally neutral spectral weighting as can be seen in the three comparisons below (toggle). [The filters were previously designated X3, the X4 moniker does not indicate a change; it’s a trademark headache issue].

In particular, some polarizers transmit more green / yellow / red than blue. The Breakthrough Photography X4 circular polarizer filters maintain a nearly flat spectral transmission profile, meaning they generate a more neutral result that avoids color bias. The important range for visible-light photography is 420nm (violet)* to 650nm (extreme dark red, near infrared).

I’ve just received some CPOL filters for testing, and I’ll put them to use soon in some testing.

See also Breakthrough Photography X3 Neutral Density Filters and Breakthrough Photography Night Sky Filter.

* Most digital sensors utilize a bandpass filter around 420 nm, the 400-420nm range is of little importance with most cameras.

Graphs courtesy of Breakthrough Photography.

Spectral transmission graph for Breakthrough Photography CPOL filter
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Tiny Lenses: Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron SL II

Yesterday I reported on the Nikon 45mm f/2.8P and the Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II, two diminutive lenses. All of these lenses fall far short of my wish for Otus-grade f/2.8 prime lenses, but all of them are very good by f/5.6 (the 90/3.5 is excellent wide open).

The Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron SL II “pancake lens” (about $449 for Nikon or Canon) is the smallest lens available for Nikon cameras today, though it’s solid metal construction means that it weighs in at a surprisingly heavy 200 grams. For those that want to travel light and compact, it is well worth considering as an alternative is the discontinued Nikon 45mm f/2.8P.

The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL II is manual focus but an electronic (“chipped”) lens, so it acts just like any Nikon-made lens, supporting 1/3 stop apertures and auto aperture control. Ditto for the Canon version.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron SL II Aperture Series: Mosaic (Nikon D800)

I reprocessed a 2012 evaluation for images up to 24 megapixels from f/2 - f/22, along with large crops.

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 Ultron SL II

Breakthrough Photography Light Pollution Filter

The Breakthrough Photography Light Pollution Filter is a spectral-cut filter using special coatings to cut out spectral regions that are typically polluted by light from populated areas during night shots.

I’ve just received an 82mm sample for evaluation which I plan to shoot it in late February / early March in the Death Valley area [I have an opening for one or two people for a photo tour at that time].

The Breakthrough Photography Light Pollution Filter cuts out the orangish haze typical of polluted night skies and was designed in collaboration with a NASA scientist from the International Space Station.

The filter is a bandpass filter that uses coatings, so it shifts color outside the central area when used with wide-angle lenses. At 21mm, the shift is very strong (magenta into the outer zones), so it is best used with longer focal lengths.

Spectral transmission graph for Breakthrough Photography Night Sky Filter

I’m looking forward to seeing if the filter will clean up the background haze in skies like this for astrophotography, though regrettably a 95mm version is not yet available (the Otus 28/1.4 takes 95mm filters). But plenty of lenses take 82mm filters and the Breakthrough Photography step-up rings make 82mm good for 67mm and 77mm filter-size lenses.

NO FILTER USED
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Zeiss Loxia for Sony

Tiny Lenses: Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II

The Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO Lanthar is a tiny but high performance lens especially well suited to anyone looking for exceptional quality in a very compact package. It is a manual focus but fully electronic (“chipped”) lens, so it acts just like any Nikon-made lens, supporting 1/3 stop apertures and auto aperture control. It can be found in Nikon or Canon mount.

The Nikon version of the 90/3.5 has an aperture ring, and thus can also be used on Canon EOS with a mechanical lens adapter. Build quality is similar to Zeiss ZF.2 lenses. The relatively slow f/3.5 maximum aperture limits versatility compared to, say, an f/2 lens. But since top image quality begins wide open, this is easily forgiven, and the 90/3.5 can easily fit into a small pocket. It makes an excellent choice for a compact travel kit including a lens like its 40mm f/2 sibling or the Nikon 45mm f/2.8P.

I reprocessed my 2012 test with new and large crops, and images up to 24 megapixels. The lens delivers impressive results.

Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II Aperture Series: Mosaic (Nikon D800)

The Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II is discontinued but can be found on the used market. CameraQuest.com has some brand-new ones in Canon mount.

Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II
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Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Get Canon EOS-1D X Mark II at B&H Photo, now available for pre-order. See all related Canon EOS-1D X II gear.

Hot on the heels of the Nikon D5, Canon has announced the EOS-1D X Mark II.

Other than its orientation to high-speed sports shooting, here are a few points, see the full description below.

  • Increased resolution and fine detail, with lens aberration correction and diffraction correction via new in-camera Digital Lens Optimizer technology.
  • Built-in GPS provides geotag information including auto time syncing with Universal Time Code via satellites.
  • View and control high quality stills and videos via the 3.2-inch touch panel LCD with 1.62 million dots. [Nikon D5 has a 3.2" rear LCD with 2359K dot (2.3 megadots), the highest-res rear LCD yet seen in a DSLR, the closest thing to a Retina display yet].
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Bringing the shooting speed and video capabilities required by professional multimedia image-makers, the EOS-1D X Mark II is the flagship model within Canon's DSLR lineup, and is characterized by its robust processing capabilities and ability to enable a high-end multimedia workflow. At the heart of the imaging system is a full-frame 20.2MP CMOS sensor and dual DIGIC 6+ image processors, which contribute to fast continuous shooting rates up to 16 fps in live view, 14 fps with full-time AF and AE, and an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50-409600.

The sensor and processor combination also avails DCI 4K video recording at 60 fps and Full HD 1080p recording at 120 fps, along with the ability to record on-board to a CFast 2.0 memory card or via HDMI to an optional external recorder. Benefitting stills shooting is an apt 61-point High Density Reticular AF II system, which includes 41 cross-type points for a high degree of precision in varying light conditions, and video shooting is enhanced by Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which makes its first appearance in a full-frame sensor for smooth, quick, and controllable AF in live view. With a versatile set of imaging traits, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II takes its place as a high-performance tool for professional photographers and videographers alike.

Complementing the robust set of imaging specs is an equally robust physical design based on a magnesium alloy body construction that is both dust- and weather-sealed for use in harsh environments. Integrated within the body is a large 3.2" 1.62m-dot touchscreen LCD for bright, high-resolution live view monitoring and image review, and a large 0.76x Intelligent Viewfinder II is offered for clear eye-level shooting. For versatility in file handling, both CFast and CompactFlash memory card slots are available, and the 1D X Mark II also supports sharing imagery over Wi-Fi, as well as wireless remote camera control, via the optional WFT-E8A Wireless File Transmitter. Additionally, a built-in GPS module permits in-camera geotagging of photos and videos, and also allows for auto time syncing with the Universal Time Code for more efficient file sharing and organization.

20.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor and Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors

A redeveloped full-frame 20.2MP CMOS sensor pairs with dual DIGIC 6+ image processors to avail notable image quality and accuracy, as well as fast performance throughout the camera system. The sensor itself integrates a gapless structure with micro lenses to provide enhanced low-light performance and reduced noise levels, and when coupled with the processors an expanded sensitivity range of ISO 50-409600 is available.

The sensor and processors also work together to avail quick shooting performance, with continuous rates up to 16 fps when working in live view. When working with the viewfinder, shooting up to 14 fps is possible along with the ability to record up to 170 raw files in a single burst if using a CFast 2.0 memory card. If shooting JPEG files, an unlimited number of frames can be recorded in a burst, even at full-resolution. If working with a CompactFlash card, the buffer is rated at up to 73 raw frames in a burst, or infinite JPEGs.

In addition to the stills attributes afforded by the sensor, it is also used for recording DCI 4K video at up to 60 fps, and it is the first full-frame sensor to incorporate Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology for precise, controllable, and fast live view focusing performance.

High Density Reticular AF II and Dual Pixel CMOS AF Systems

Benefitting accurate focusing and fast tracking performance, a 61-point High Density Reticular AF II system is employed, which incorporates 41 cross-type points for increased precision as well as a center point that is sensitive to -3 EV. All 61 phase-detection points support metering at effective apertures of f/8 or larger, which benefits the use of teleconverters and telephoto lenses. Additionally, a separate, dedicated DIGIC 6 processor is used for the AF and metering systems in order to maintain quick performance while recording 4K video or shooting at fast continuous speeds. As a whole, the AF system has gained approximately 8.6% in coverage in the center, and 24% in the periphery, for enhanced subject tracking across the image frame, and an AI Servo AF III+ algorithm is used to intelligently and precisely acquire focus in single-point, Large Zone AF, or any other focusing mode.

When working with live view during stills shooting or video recording, a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system is employed that provides incredibly quick and accurate focusing performance in a similar manner to how a camcorder acquires focus. This system integrates two separate photodiodes within each pixel to provide a broad and dense network of phase-detection gathering elements across a majority of the image sensor to reduce focus hunting for faster, more direct control of focus placement. When working with still imagery, this focusing system works to acquire focus quickly and accurately, making it ideally suited to shooting and tracking moving subjects so that critical focus is attained with each shot. When shooting video, a Movie Servo AF mode offers smooth and natural focusing when changing from different subjects or different distances within the scene, as well as the ability to specify tracking sensitivity, AF speed, and Face Tracking priority. Benefited by the Touch AF system, rack focus is possible simply by touching elements within the scene on the touchscreen in order to change focus in an intuitive manner. Subject tracking in movies is also heightened due to the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system's ability to recognize subjects and maintain focus when working within changing or cluttered scenery.

DCI 4K Video Recording

Designed for both professional stills shooting and video recording, the 1D X Mark II supports DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution recording at up to 60 fps at 800 Mbps, along with Full HD 1080p shooting at 120 fps at 360 Mbps for slow motion playback. When recording in-camera, or to an optional external recorder via HDMI for saving uncompressed footage, 4K video has 4:2:2 sampling and 8-bit color depth, while Full HD 1080p footage has 4:2:0 sampling. 4K video is recorded using a central 4096 x 2160 area of the sensor, while Full HD recording makes use of the entire full frame, and a top sensitivity of ISO 12800 is available with 4K or ISO 25600 with Full HD.

Audio can be recorded using the on-board stereo microphone or an optional external mic can also be used via the 3.5mm mic jack. Real time audio monitoring is possible, too, via the 3.5mm headphone jack. The 4K video recording also avails the ability to take 8.8MP still frame grabs during playback and save them as single images.

Body Design

  • A large 3.2" 1.62m-dot Clear View II LCD monitor is available and features an anti-reflective design for bright, vivid image playback and live view shooting, and its touchscreen interface can be used for intuitive touch-to-focus control.
  • Dual CFast and CompactFlash memory card slots allow you to extend your file saving capabilities by permitting overflow recording or in-camera file type separation while shooting. The CFast card slot is compatible with CFast 2.0 memory cards.
  • An Intelligent Viewfinder II uses a pentaprism design and offers a bright means for viewing, along with a 0.76x magnification and 100% frame coverage. When using the viewfinder, AF points are highlighted in red for greater visibility in low-light conditions, and the finder can also be configured to display a range of other shooting aids, such as an electronic level, grid, flicker detection, white balance, metering mode, AF information, and other settings.
  • A robust magnesium alloy body design is both dust- and weather-sealed to permit working in harsh environments.
  • An integrated vertical grip allows for comfortable, intuitive, and efficient handling when working in either vertical or horizontal shooting orientations.
  • The included LP-E19 rechargeable lithium-ion battery is rated to provide up to 1210 shots per charge when shooting with the optical viewfinder. The 1D X Mark II is also compatible with LP-E4N and LP-E4 rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, however the top continuous shooting rate will be slightly reduced to 14 fps in live view and 12 fps with AE and AF.
  • A redesigned mirror mechanism helps to minimize mechanical vibrations in order to better ensure sharpness during long exposures or fast continuous shooting bursts.
  • The high-performance shutter utilizes lightweight carbon fiber blades for quick shooting speeds and is tested for up to 400,000 cycles.
  • Extensive connectivity ports allow for the attachment of various accessories, including the optional WFT-E8A Wireless File Transmitter for remotely controlling the camera from a smartphone or sharing files over Wi-Fi with support for the 5 GHz 802.11ac standard.

EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF

An advanced 360,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor works in tandem with the EOS Intelligent Tracking and Recognition AF system in order to maintain accurate and consistent metering results from subject to subject. High resolution, infrared sensitivity, and a refined detection algorithm all contribute to precise color and shape recognition, using the iSA (Intelligent Scene Analysis) system that quickens both exposure metering and autofocus performance. iTR (Intelligent Tracking and Recognition) AF also uses this exposure and subject recognition technology for improved moving subject tracking.

Other Camera Features

  • A built-in GPS module allows you to geotag imagery in-camera as well as auto time sync with the Universal Time Code via satellites. This module is compatible with American GPS, Russian GLONASS, and Japanese quasi-zenith Michibiki satellites for a wide coverage of support.
  • Digital Lens Optimizer technology compensates for a range of optical defects from various lenses, including chromatic aberration, distortion, peripheral brightness, and diffraction, and the camera can store lens data in order to avoid having to re-register lenses prior to each use.
  • In addition to full-resolution recording, files can also be recorded at reduced resolutions, including M-RAW and S-RAW sizes to save file size and memory card capacity.
  • Picture Style settings: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, and User Defined 1-3.
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Ibex Sale

Ibex NZM glove

I spend a fair amount of time in the outdoors, and one brand I use a lot (jackets, hoodies, pants, gloves, hats) is Ibex.

Ibex is having their annual 50% off winter sale.

See also:

In use below at 10°F: Ibex hoody, Ibex wool pants, Ibex wool jacket, Ibex gloves, Ibex Aire wool jacket, Western mountaineering down jackets.

Dad and Daughter at Sunset
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ZEISS Milvus Lenses IN STOCK
For Canon and Nikon (or Sony mirrorless with adapter)

Tiny Lenses: Nikon 45mm f/2.8P, Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron, Canon 40/2.8 STM

The manual focus Nikon 45mm f/2.8P is a pancake-style lens based on a Tessar design of 4 elements in 3 groups— extremely simple, yet in truth quite well corrected for such a small number of elements.

With lens hood and lens caps, the Nikon 45mm f/2.8P weighs only 156g, making it perhaps the lightest lens one can find for a Nikon DSLR. It is very compact as well. It thus has appeal for any high-res DSLR shooter looking to travel light, at least if the images to be made are in the f/5.6 - f/11 range.

A recent inquiry about the diminutive Nikon 45mm f/2.8P prompted me to redo the mosaic aperture series with images up to 24 megapixels along with large crops.

Nikon 45mm f/2.8P Aperture Series: Mosaic (Nikon D800)

The Nikon 45mm f/2.8P is discontinued but can be found on the used market.

A good alternative would be the Voigtlander 40mm f/2.8 SL Ultron II Color-Skopar, which remains in production and is about $449. In Canon mount, I’d suggest the Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM, a very nice lens, and a steal at about $149.

Nikon 45mm f/2.8P
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Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Examples: Lundy Canyon, Before the Snow (Sony A7R II)

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

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These images shot in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains (Lundy Canyon environs) in early November 2015, just before the rain and snow arrived.

In my review of the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon:

Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Examples: Examples: Lundy Canyon, Before the Snow (Sony A7R II)

Includes images up to 24 megapixels.

 

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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Examples: Rain to Snow in Lundy Canyon, early November (Sony A7R II)

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

These images shot in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains (Lundy Canyon environs) in early November 2015. The images are presented as a time-coherent documentary group from early morning to mid-day, showing the inexorable progression from rain to snow on an early winter day in which everyone flees the weather, which I relish, since I then have the place to myself.

All of these images were shot handheld with Sony IBIS enabled. Some were shot at higher ISO values and have some significant noise hence as a collection these images represent the outstanding ability of the Sony A7R II to perform in low lighting conditions with excellent sharpness from a very fine lens.

In my review of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Examples: Rain to Snow in Lundy Canyon, early November (Sony A7R II)

Includes images up to 24 megapixels. The fine detail in these images (particularly small branches and streaking rain and snow) cannot be appreciated on a conventional display. An iMac 5K or at least a 4K display or Retina display is strongly recommended for enjoying the subtle detail in these images.

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