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I am back from my trip and will be publishing more images and series soon. It was more of a convalescent trip than anything else—I had no strength for even a single long hike over the entire month. But I had perfect peace and quiet and beauty, which are ideal for gaining strength, which I think I've done, with an unexpected surge of energy the day after returning home. Most days I had to restrict myself to a few hundred yards of walking, though I did get in a few hikes up to 3 miles or so (which generally shut me down by 5:30 PM!). 12-14 hour per day sleep requirements were the norm.

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Shootout @ 18mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This shootout on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV complements First Ice on Beaver Pond with a near-to-far composition with focus very far out, to give both lenses a chance to show their behaviors, both in terms of focus shift and field curvature, and the best possible performance that each can deliver.

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/11 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, sets the gold standard for ultra-wide lenses, zoom or prime against which all other lenses in this range now need to be referenced.

My field time with the Sony 12-24/2.8 GM has impressed the hell out of me. It’s going to deliver a wallop to my bank account, because there is no way in hell I am sending this lens back: the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is the holy grail of wide angles lenses: one lens that can do it all over the entire 12-24mm range, making prime lenses blush with embarrassment.

I drove down this canyon and hiked through beautiful sunlight backlighting... just in time for a pall of clouds to deaden the landscape. Well, on one of those unpredictable days when I have the energy, I have to shoot what nature presents.

View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak
f8 @ 1/60 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-11 16:07:58
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 18mm
ENV: Crooked Creek Canyon, altitude 9350 ft / 2850 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

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Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This aperture series from f/1.4 to f/9 assesses sharpness across across-the-frame at very far distance, achieving results that show how cafeful focus placement matters.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/9 with crops.

Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station
f6.3 @ 1/4 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-09 17:56:29
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 14°F / -10°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +50 Shadows, +40 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, Chroma NR {5}

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Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Starring Campito the feral horse grazing at dusk*, this aperture series from f/1.4 to f/5.6 assesses across-the-frame and near-to-far sharpness, secondary color correction, and focus shift. The lighting was extremely blue, which is always difficult challenge for a lens, the blue/violet spectrum being the most difficult to correct for. It does appear to be a factor.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/5.6 with crops.

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers very high performance, but it has some behaviors worth knowing about for optimal results.

Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk
f1.4 @ 1/320 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-09 17:47:42
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 14°F / -10°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Shadows, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Mining Hoist

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This aperture series from f/1.4 to f/13 at relatively close distance assesses across-the-frame and near-to-far sharpness, secondary color correction, and focus shift.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Mining Hoist

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13 with crops. Shot in pixel shift mode for maximal detail.

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers very high performance, but it has some behaviors worth knowing about for optimal results.

Mining Hoist
f4.5 @ 1/40 sec electronic shutter pixel shift, ISO 100; 2020-11-16 17:22:14
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: just north of Death Valley, altitude 5160 ft / 1573 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Shadows, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

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3-Way Shootout @ 24mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/4: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Compared here at 24mm on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art and the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4.

In First Ice on Beaver Pond, it was clear that the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM outperformed the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8. However, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.8 is a more recent design and my favorite of the Loxia lineup—might the 25mm prime lens be more competitive?

Shootout @ 24mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/4": Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Distagon acquits itself well here, but with some undesirable behaviors (in a practical usability sense). The Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art shows clearly that the Sony 12-24/2.8 GM is easily the new king of the mountain.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced. If it’s not as good or better than just about all the prime lenses in its range, then I’ve not seen the right lens.

Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow
f9 @ 1/200 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 11:52:19
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 24mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, push 0.17 stops, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

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Shootout @ 12mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

In Two Aspen, Lundy Canyon, it was clear that the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM has distinct professional grade advantages over its f/4 sibling. But for fully persuasive results, one has to see those advantages and others repeated on other scenes, hence this compelling head-to-head.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G sibling where flare resistance is also at a premium. Is what is seen in Two Aspen at least as good, and what about flare?

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced. If it’s not as good or better than just about all the prime lenses in its range, then I’ve not seen the right lens.

If only my condition had not started deterioriating two days after this was taken... as I finally publish this with some energy back, the late-fall beauty is now long gone.

Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow
f9 @ 1/200 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 10:57:43
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 12mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

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Shootout @ 12mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Two Aspen

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G sibling. What do you get for your money, besides an extra stop of lens speed?

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Two Aspen

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced.

Two Aspen, Lundy Canyon
f9 @ 1/13 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 07:41:55
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 12mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 28°F / -2°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.66 stops, +20 Shadows, -87 Highlights, +30 Whites, Color Luminance {Greens +50, Yellows +20}, +15 Clarity, USM {7,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

The Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art is surely a super portrait lens (with distortion correction for pincushion distortion), but how good is it for landscape photography?

This series evaluate medium-far distance performance from f/1.4 through f/11.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/11 with crops and analysis.

Also updated is the distortion correction page with this scene at f/5.6 as an example:

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Distortion Correction Impact on Micro Contrast and Sharpness

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers outstanding performance. My personal preference in optical terms is the somewhat unwieldy Sigma FE 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, but the 85/1.4 is far easier to carry and handle.

Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond
f2.8 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 17:49:44
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +30 Whites, Color Luminance {Yellows +10}, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Rodent Americans Feeling Suppressed

A curiously low turnout of rodent-Americans is being seen in my neighborhood, in spite of mounds of evidence being seen only a few months ago. The cause remains a mystery since Tigger mostly sleeps all day.

Tigger, the Patriotic Cat

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Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon: First Ice on Beaver Pond, Lundy Canyon

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

UPDATE: this comparison did not play out well for the Batis. I now have a working theory of why that it so, bolstered by a similar comparions shot two days prior of the same scene delivering identical A/B conclusions—see the notes in the comparison.

How does a modern 18mm prime lens compare to a state-of-the-art zoom lens? Can the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM act as a do-it-all and not only outclass a prime lens, but trounce it? For those of us looking to carry one fast lens over the 12mm to 24mm range, this is a sort of holy grail, so even matching the prime would be a big win.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the diminutive Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon and the relatively large and heavy Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon: First Ice on Beaver Pond

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM might be the best zoom lens of its kind ever.

First Ice on Beaver Pond
f9 @ 1/5 sec EFC shutter, ISO 50; 2020-10-27 09:06:05
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 18mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 23°F / -5°C
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, +50 Shadows, +30 Whites, +10 Contrast, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening, vignetting corrected (50)

[low-res image for bot]

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Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: First Ice on Beaver Pond, Lundy Canyon

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

The age-old rule about primes versus zooms long held in favor of the prime lens. But how does a compact 21mm prime lens compare to a state-of-the-art zoom lens? Can the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM act as a do-it-all and maybe even beat a prime lens? For those of us looking to carry one fast lens over the 12mm to 24mm range, this is a sort of holy grail, so even matching the prime would be a big win.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the diminutive Zeiss Loxia 21m f/2.8 Distagon and the relatively large and heavy Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM:

Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: First Ice on Beaver Pond

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM might be the best zoom lens of its kind ever.

First Ice on Beaver Pond
f9 @ 1/5 sec EFC shutter, ISO 50; 2020-10-27 08:53:00
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 21mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 23°F / -5°C
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.2 stops, +50 Shadows, +30 Whites, +10 Contrast, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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