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Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon on Nikon D810: Aperture Series 'Twisted Aspen'

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

The Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon offers imaging qualities that make it especially suitable for environmental portraiture, reportage, etc. It’s a compact gem of a lens. It offers very high overall contrast and a vignetting suitable for many subjects.

The 28/2 Distagon is particularly suitable for environmental portraiture—a subject in its natural environment.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series: Twisted Aspen (D810)

Includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white as well as large crops from wide open through ƒ/16.

  Twisted Aspen Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/16
Twisted Aspen
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 28mm f/2 Distagon @ ƒ/16

Fujifilm X100: Can’t Charge the Battery

Fujifilm X100
Fujifilm X100

I still have the Fujifilm X100 that I bought several years ago. Its good looks don’t go out of style and its images are still excellent (see my 2011 Fujifilm X100 review).

The battery died or so it seemed: it would not charge; the charger light lights up, but after 24 hours, no charging and a battery so dead that licking its contacts (a simple but effective test) hardly provides any electric tingle at all. The camera gets no power whatsoever from the battery.

So I bought a brand-new Fujifilm NP-95 battery back in May, which at first charged up fine. By mid July it too has failed, meaning the same charger problem: the light goes on, but the battery does not charge.

I’ve seen “smart” batteries lose their brains (so to speak), and it could be that alone. The cause being unclear.

So I’m in a quandary: were both batteries bad, is the charger bad, and/or is the camera killing the battery somehow? I hate to go dump more money into a new battery and charger if the camera is damaging the batteries somehow. But it’s a nice camera, and I’d like to see it working again. So I think I’ll just order the $19.95 Watson charger and see if it works.

Perhaps a reader out there has some ideas.

The Fujifilm support page (if you can call it that) consists of some Q&A one can search on—it’s absurd to call this support. I cannot find any place to call or send an email on this question, which is quite frustrating. That ought to be front and center on that page.

Merlin E writes saying Fujifilm tech support is 1-800-800-3854.

Ragna V writes:

I have experienced this twice - first with the charger on my X100, later on with my X100s. Very annoying, especially when I'm travelling. I understand that this is a well known problem with these chargers. My batteries behave ok and work fine in a new charger.

My solution? Never trust a Fuji charger. I bought a Hahnel UniPal Plus charger instead http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm?page=universalchargers&pId=133 It will charge almost anything, and is always with me on my travels as a backup. And it even works on a 12 V power supply in your car or boat.

DIGLLOYD: I ordered that inexpensive $19.95 Watson charger. If it works, good enough.

Adobe Camera Raw: 'CameraStandard' Camera Profile Produces Horrific Tonal Transitions for D810 NEF

diglloyd image
Avoid 'CameraStandard'
  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

There is a serious flaw in the 'Camera Standard' profile for the Nikon D810 when using Adobe Camera Raw (and presumably Adobe Lightroom also).

In DAP:

Adobe Camera Raw: Harsh Tonal Transitions with 'Camera Standard' Profile

Looks like several days of intensive work are now “redo” candidates, or at least I now have to go reassess to see what stuff has to be redone, time I can ill afford.

It had been nagging at me that something seemed wrong with ACR and the Nikon D810, but tonight the problem showed itself clearly with a particular image.

I don’t know if this issue affects other cameras, but it might, so exercise care in your own images. I also don’t know if it is a profile bug (seems most likely), or some flaw in ACR itself.

Reader Roy P emailed some images from Adobe Lightroom 5.6 (a variety of camera profiles), and the problem is prominent posterization in facial skin. Much worse than what I had observed in my landscape images—unusably awful.

Thanks to the reader who wrote me pointing me at the Adobe’s tech note.

John G writes:

Read your blog post this morning re: image quality problems in LR5.6 (and Adobe ACR 8.6) when using Nikon’s profiles found in the Camera Control section. I, too, noticed these problems. When selecting the Camera Standard, Landscape, Vivid, and Monochrome profiles, Image-killing posterization and stark banding is introduced in the some areas of the photograph.

This is especially evident where there are subtle tonal transitions, such as in the cloud-filled skies, etc. I contacted Adobe, and they indicated that they were aware of the problem and would fix it in the next iteration of LR and ACR. In the interim, they are providing beta profiles for the D810 The new beta profiles can be downloaded here: http://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/camera-standard-profile-displays-posterized.html I have used the beta profiles for the past week now, and can report they fix the problems you are seeing, and improve image quality in other ways as well.

Thanks for doing what do. I read your site everyday. As a professional photographer, by necessity, I do huge amounts of research before purchasing any new piece of gear. Your insights and hard work cut down on the amount of research I have to do, and have made my process of selecting new equipment much more efficient. Thanks again.

DIGLLOYD: Well, I’m glad that Adobe has issues a fix, because I’ve liked the tonal curve of CameraStandard for some images much more than AdobeStandard: more appealing contrast (sometimes too strong though) and with less harsh highlight areas.

Where does one go or proactively watch to find out about critical flaws like this? For example, Adobe’e Tranberry is mum on the topic. Blogs.adobe.com is not helpful, and surely such a damaging issue deserves a front and center warning there. Hours of work destroyed (redo) and I am under tight deadline working 14 hours a day so I am very grumpy about this flaw.

From Adobe:

When you apply the camera profiles in Lightroom 5.6 and Camera Raw 8.6 for the Nikon D810 to your image, some of the areas and colors are posterized.

Camera Raw 8.6 and Lightroom 5.6 introduce raw support for the Nikon D810, including Camera Matching color profiles. Unfortunately, four of these profiles for the Nikon D810 can result in banding artifacts. The affected profiles are:

Camera Standard
Camera Vivid
Camera Landscape
Camera Monochrome

We have identified the cause of this issue and have developed a new complete set of Camera Matching color profiles that fixes the banding issues. Furthermore, the new profiles have slightly improved overall color response and smoother gradations. These profiles are included in the next release of Camera Raw and Lightroom.

In the meantime, we have included a release candidate or beta version of these profiles for users to try.

These beta profiles appear in the user interface (Camera Calibration panel, Profile pop-up menu) as:

Camera Flat v2 beta
Camera Landscape v2 beta
Camera Monochrome v2 beta
Camera Neutral v2 beta
Camera Portrait v2 beta
Camera Standard v2 beta
Camera Vivid v2 beta

diglloyd image
High Sierra Plant
Nikon D810

Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon: Brilliant

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810
  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon offers high brilliance, luscious color saturation and superb flare control. These are the reasons to select it over all others for this kind of shooting.

In sharpness terms it is a strong as anything, but has its limits and behaviors, and these too are shown and discussed, including here in this aperture series a particularly demonstrative crop showing the point spread function behavior.

In Guide to Zeiss:

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Stormy Light (Nikon D810)

Include HD and Ultra HD images and large crops from ƒ/2.8 through ƒ/16 along with both color and black and white images and how converted.

Toggle the image below to see the black and white rendition.

  Sun Peeks Through Thunderclouds Nikon D810 + Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Distagon
Sun Peeks Through Thunderclouds
Nikon D810 + Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Distagon @ ƒ/11

Andrew P writes:

I just wanted to thank you for your recent coverage of the 15mm Distagon. I have seven very nice lenses that I regularly use now, but I keep on going back to the 15mm for those special qualities it has. For a while I avoided it because I felt I had to be very close to a subject to get anything useful, but then those photos were always very interesting to look at.

I recently shot a basketball championship with it and then used it for a model shoot a couple weeks ago. For both shoots I also used my Otus, a 35 mm Summilux ASPH, the ZA 135mm 1.8 and a Nikkor 85mm 1.4G, but the best shots were all made with either the 15mm or the Otus.

DIGLLOYD: a 15mm is hard to use well, but used well it sings.

Working Hard on a 'Project'

Labor Day weekend here in the USA generally means beach and grilling or some such thing for many. But for me it means labor day—lots of work, especially this year. Not that I mind—I like what I do, especially the particular project I’m on right now.

Oh, I might grill myself a steak or two (extra lean grass fed beef, quite tasty and far less expensive than the buffalo ribeyes I’d go for but for the price). But I’ve sworn off wine of any color as I press hard to lean-out for my late September cycling race. That’s the discipline part, as I do really enjoy red wine, also having made it a necessary game to figure out what’s a good red for not much green. There are some very good reds at low prices out there (and some not very good reds at low prices and high prices).

Anyway, I am hard at work dawn to dusk on a project that will see the light in less than two weeks. Accordingly, I might “submerge” for a few days at a time, popping up for a few new Nikon D810 pieces, but staying intensely focused on the key project.

Nikon D810: Sensor Cover Glass Quality?

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

Jorn O writes:

I just received 2 new Nikon D810 cameras( August 25, 2014) and sent them to my local repair technician to evaluate. One of the things I always have him check is the sensor and low pass filter for defects, inclusions, and etc. The 2 new D810 cameras were both supposedly corrected for the long exposure/white spot issue.

However, it appears that the low pass filters (or protective glass) on both cameras have a significant number of dark specks of some kind in the surface coating or embedded in the sensor glass. He observed (30 power microscope) 18 of these specks on one sensor and 24 on the other. The size and quantity of these specks indicates to me a significant quality control problem and I am going to return both cameras. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that Nikon’s solution to this problem was to just map out all of the photosites affected by the specks and consider the problem solved.

I have had similar problems with the D3x and D800E sensors – my records indicate returning and replacing 4 new cameras over a 3 year period due to significant inclusions in the low pass filter glass. I guess Nikon doesn’t think anybody is really looking hard at the sensor systems they are putting out.

It is interesting to note that the first D810 I purchased from B&H in July was also inspected and cleaned by my repair technician, and did not have the problem with the specks on the sensor glass even though the serial number indicates that it is on the recall list that Nikon has.

I also have 5 D800E cameras and they do not exhibit the speck on sensor glass issue. I was going to upgrade 3 of them to D810's, but not sure if I will now. With regards to the D3x sensors and imbedded inclusions - I did not keep them so I do not know if they would have had an impact on image quality. However, when you pay 8000.00 for a camera body I think it is reasonable to expect first class quality in a sensor, especially when your technician tells you he does not see this issue on most other vendors cameras that he works on (Canon, Sony, Pentax,etc).

DIGLLOYD: I can’t say much more than “seems concerning”. But given Nikon’s financial performance (~27% drop in sales YOY), could there be cost-cutting or lowered standards going on that might compromise quality? A hunker-down retrenchment rather than moving ahead with innovations like supporting an EVF option on a DSLR?

Taken together though, inclusions in sensor cover glass and white spots requiring a camera recall out of the gate do not speak well to Nikon’s release of the D810. Coming on top of the D600 dust/oil issue, it might shake one’s confidence, if only a little. The D810 is a flagship camera after all.

Still, I doubt that the white spots service advisory has anything to do with the sensor glass 'specks'; the white spots seem to be a hot pixel type long exposure issue (Nikon has been obtuse on the cause of the issue, or why some but not other cameras are affected). Sensor quality is not a fixed thing; sensors come in grades too (number of defects and similar). What grade sensors are used in the D810 (what yield/quality cutoff?). Are camera bodies now like lenses where one has to worry about “good sample” or “bad sample”?

Tom H writes:

I’ve noticed the same problem with my Canons over the years. You can send your camera in for repair and get a new glass that looks just like the one you had. The last time I sent back a body to Canon for this problem i took a shot of the glass surface using a dissecting microscope and included a print with the body. It didn’t make any difference. The new one had fewer pits.

DIGLLOYD: I’m not sure it matters in any case. More than likely any usage over would accumulate more crud by an order of magnitude, even with sensor cleaning.

Nikon D810: Recommended Picture Control Settings for Magnified Live View Focusing

  Nikon D810
Nikon D810

I spent some time with various combinations of Nikon Picture Control settings to arrive at what seemed to be the most helpful and decisive sharpness and contrast for accurate magnified Live View focusing.

These Picture Control files are now available for download in my review of the Nikon D810, with instructions for loading them. They load in addition to any existing choices so there is no downside to trying them to see if they help your own workflow.

Recommended Picture Control Settings for Live View Focusing

Picture Control settings ready to load on camera card
Picture Control settings ready to load on camera card

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Various Varying Examples

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

To my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP are added various aperture series intended to show a variety of subject matter and the camera + Pentax 90mm f/2.8 macro rendering style. I find that such series are an excellent way to get a feel for a camera system and lens.

Series includes HD and UltraHD images and large crops. Click each image for its series.

  Aspen with Black Branches Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/2.8
Aspen with Black Branches
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/2.8
  Green Aspen Leaf on Black rock Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/11
Green Aspen Leaf on Black rock
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/11
  Dual Aspen Trunks Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Pine Creek Buildings
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
  White Daisies Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
White Daisies
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
  Mining Cabin Gearbox Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/22
Mining Cabin Gearbox
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/22
  Death Valley Alluvial Fan near Eureka Dunes Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/4
Death Valley Alluvial Fan near Eureka Dunes
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/4
  Dual Aspen Trunks Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Dual Aspen Trunks
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: 'Atlas Permaguard'

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP is a close range still-life study with soft lighting and very pleasing bokeh:

Aperture Series: Atlas Permaguard (645Z)

This aperture series shows a peripheral forward focus shift that might be useful to understand for critical work. Includes HD and UltraHD images and large crops.

  Artifacts of early Miners Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Artifacts of early Miners
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Wet Aspen Trunk

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP:

Aperture Series: Wet Aspen Trunk (645Z)

This aperture series includes HD and UltraHD images and commentary on placement of focus and depth of field.

  Wet Aspen Trunk Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Wet Aspen Trunk
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

Pentax 645Z+ 90/2.8 Aperture Series: Thunderstorms over Pine Creek Drainage

Get Pentax 645Z at B&H Photo.

In my review of the Pentax 645Z in DAP:

Aperture Series: Pine Creek Thunderstorms (645Z)

A discussion of the field curvature is included and should be read by any Pentax 90/2.8 user as essential working knowledge.

This aperture series includes HD and UltraHD images in both color and black and white from ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/16 along with extensive crops and commentary. The crops are also in UltraHD, as I deemed the larger size useful for context.

  Pine Creek Thunderstorms Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6
Pine Creek Thunderstorms
Pentax 645Z + 90mm f/2.8 @ ƒ/5.6

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