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Reader Comment on Guide to Leica

See my Leica wish list.

James A writes:

Just been poking around on your Leica segment of Diglloyd.

I have to say the coverage and sheer amount of data there is mind boggling. It represents an incredible resource and is a testament to your expertise. Well done!

DIGLLOYD: things have gone quiet in Guide to Leica because the Leica M system is quiescent, apparently at the end of the road as far as development—the Leica M10 is a nice incremental camera, but still has some growing pains and is not different from the M240 in any substantive way.

The M system was and is the heart of Leica heritage IMO, and if Leica got their shit together and refocused on pushing the M platform forward, that would make appeal to me—I still have the excellent Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon and 5 Leica M lenses and an M240. I always liked shooting the M240 and all I wanted to make it stellar for me was a high-res EVF built-in without a rangefinder, 36 megapixels or so, and good ergonomics or at least no worse than the M240.

All the R&D and marketing dollars flushed down the toilet on the Leica S system and the Leica TL toy and now the Leica SL... what a shame. If Leica had focused on its heritage, the M system or some derivative true to its that heritage would be a strong player. As it stands the entire Leica platform and company are a ship without a keel.

So M is it, but the Leica SL system makes no sense to me, I don’t think it has any future—it’s too little too late too heavy too ergonomically frustrating—a Nikon D850 just leaves it in the dust and is not any heavier and with 20X the lens choices.

Saddlebag Lake
f8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 100; 2017-06-25 16:57:10
LEICA M10 + Leica Super-Elmar-M 3.8/18 ASPH

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Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Focus Stacking Versus Single Frame

See my Nikon wish list and get Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

The Sigma 14/1.8 is an outstanding lens with corner to corner sharpness, but focus stacking might be necessary to get the best out of it with near-to-far compositions, as here.

This page shows 3 exposures of the same scene, all at f/10: near focus (on the aspen trees), far focus, and a 2-frame focus stack. Discussion is about what is gained from the stack and how it addresses the challenges of lens performance (field curvature in particular) and depth of field.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Focus Stacking: Two Aspen at Beaver Pond, Sunset

Includes images up to full camera resolution, and crops.

Two Aspen at Beaver Pond, Sunset
f10 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2017-09-22 18:40:23 [focus stack 2 frames]
NIKON D810 + 14.0 mm f/1.8

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Nikon AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye Zoom Aperture Series: Dana Creek First Autumn Snow

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

This series tests looks at sharpness and color correction using a near-to-far scene with difficult contrast.

Nikon AF-S 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5 Fisheye Zoom Aperture Series: Dana Creek First Autumn Snow

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/4.5 through f/11.

Dana Creek First Autumn Snow
f9 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2017-09-21 15:53:27
NIKON D810 + 8.0-15.0 mm f/3.5-4.5 @ 15mm

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B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 55 min unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
$3297 SAVE $800 = 19.0% Nikon D810 DSLR with 24-120mm in Cameras: DSLR

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Clearing Storm over Tenaya Dome

See my Nikon wish list and get Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

This series tests performance at distance across the field in an a lighting situation in which the sun is also casting non-image-forming light into the lens. It is thus not only a test of sharpness, but also of flare and contrast under difficult conditions.

Color correction is also evaluated, both for longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Clearing Storm Over Tenaya Dome

Includes images up to full camera resolution, and several crops, all from f/1.8 through f/11.

The performance seen here is impressive for a 14mm lens.

Clearing Storm over Tenaya Dome
f9 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 64; 2017-09-21 11:46:59
NIKON D810 + 14.0 mm f/1.8

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Our trusted photo rental store

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Slush Ice on Shallow Pond

See my Nikon wish list and get Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

This series tests performance using a near-far scene with focus at relatively close range. This facilitates seeing how the lens performance in all sorts of ways: sharpness across the field, color correction in front of and behind the zone of focus, near-to-far real depth of field, fsfocus shift, etc.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Slush Ice on Shallow Pond

Includes images up to full camera resolution, and several crops, all from f/1.8 through f/11.

The performance seen here is impressive for a 14mm lens.

Slush Ice on Shallow Pond
f6.3 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 64; 2017-09-21 14:30:24
NIKON D810 + 14.0 mm f/1.8

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Autumnal Equinox Rolls in With a Bad Attitude

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

I got up at 4 AM to drive to the eastern side of Yosemite, but as it turned out, I had both good luck and bad luck. The good luck was the coldest and heaviest snow I’ve ever seen this early, the bad luck was having to wait 2.5 hours for Tioga Pass Rd to open. NPS made everyone wait until the road was almost totally dry (!), while they lied to everyone parked and waiting “being plowed” (I heard this repeatedly), the same sort of stunt they pulled back in 2010—blatant lies then (see the newspaper writeup), though slightly more truthful today as there were a few inches of snow on the road and about 5 inches near the pass. Unlike CalTrans, a 4WD with snow tires is the same as a Toyota Camry with bald street tires to the NPS, as far as being allowed to go through. I won’t cut those jokers any slack, because I’m unaware of any time they have every done right by visitors or the people who live across the pas, nor do rangers have any sense that wild means weather too—the best days they shut out visitors (snowstorms are terrific). I've been visiting there for 35 years and it is increasingly anti-visitor IMO. But at least the younger employees (with no say in such matters) do smile and are cheerful, making the best of a crummy policy.

Once the parade started, I was rewarded with some gorgeous views, and when I reached the eastern gate I decided to hike up Dana Canyon. But having been delayed too long and the snow too deep, I only made it half way up; I had slipped a few times too—when that happens I remind myself of how broken ankle could mean freezing to death... and I had forgotten to take my gaiters and being totally alone and it being about 22°F with 8 inches of snow at 10,800', I shot what I could and headed back down, whereupon it began to snow heavily again.

Exceptional Snow on the Autumnal Equinox, about 9800' elevation
f5 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 64; 2017-09-21 16:11:05
NIKON D810 + 8.0-15.0 mm f/3.5-4.5 @ 15mm

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Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis Lenses at a Discount

See my Sony wish list and get Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses are currently discounted at B&H. Add to cart to see the discounted price. The discounts are not large, but I don’t recall seeing them all discounted before like this.

Most also have 4% reward and free expedited shipping.


Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Nikon D850: Shipping this Week

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

The about $180 Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Nikon D850 waits in my camera bag, ready to go onto my Nikon D850 when it arrives, and stay there permanently, just as with my Nikon D810. Fit and finish are superb as usual, and one benefit perhaps not readily noted is that the L bracket reduces wear and tear on the camera too.

As of 20 September 2017, Really Right Stuff says:

We are in full-swing production and cranking them out as fast as we can. The first batch should be shipping out this week, depending on what time we get them in from our supplier. However, we have many back-orders for the plate and we are shipping them out in the same order that we received the preorders. If someone places a pre-order today, it could be as much as few weeks before it will be fulfilled.

Its design includes the nice touch of a built-in allen wrench in the bottom plate, so one can take it off or put it on quickly, without having to remember to carry an allen wrench.

Like all L brackets, the dovetail allows the camera to be instantly mounted into a compatible clamp in either portrait or landscape mode—no flopping the tripod head.

I like L brackets for another reason: the bottom and left side of the camera are protected from scrapes and dings. I almost never take the L bracket off my cameras. Most models allow just the base plate portion, in case the “L” is not desired for some reason, but in general I recommend the full L-bracket approach.

Really Right Stuff offers a very wide range of L brackets for just about all brands and models (I use their plates on all my cameras, as well as my favorite tripod, the TVC-24L). The RRS camera plate designs are almost always optimized/customized for each camera for a perfect fit, sturdy and robust yet with minimized weight.

Really Right Stuff L-bracket for Nikon D850
Really Right Stuff L-bracket for Nikon D850
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Nikon D850: a Few More Cameras are Trickling In and Shipping to Customers

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

B&H has received some more Nikon D850 cameras, but from what I’ve learned, a very strict process is being followed (a requirement apparently set by Nikon, including for NPS member orders). Coupled with B&H’s general first-come-first served policy, one just has to wait and be patient. I’m waiting, but I’m not feeling very patient!

At least three readers report receiving cameras from B&H Photo, so they are being delivered as they arrive, but demand far outstrips supply. That is not to say that demand is large (I don’t know any figures there), only that supply is miniscule.

Although I placed my request very early and am now not far down the list at B&H, it looks like I won’t get one out of the 2nd batch which showed up yesterday either. Well, I’ll go shoot in the mountains using the trusty D810—what else can I do.

See my recommended high performance autofocus lenses for the Nikon D850.

Well, when I do get the D850, I already have the excellent Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for the Nikon D850 (about $180 with the 'L' portion, $195 for the battery grip version). Its design includes the nice touch of a built-in allen wrench.

Really Right Stuff L-bracket for Nikon D850
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

LensRentals.com: Convenient Rentals at Competitive Prices

LensRentals.com offers an incredible selection of lenses and cameras, both still and video all the way up to very high end gear. As well as accessories—flashes, brackets, etc.

Not sure about a lens or camera? Rent it first.

Highly recommended.

Watch the other videos too—very funny.

James M writes:

I have used LensRentals.com for years and find them to be very helpful and reliable. Typically, when I take a trip overseas I will rent a duplicate of my camera body as a backup. I have the rental body arrive two days before I leave the country so that I have plenty of time to carefully duplicate my settings on the rental camera body.

DIGLLOYD: LensRentals.com has a solid process.

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4, Now Have my Own ZF.2 Sample

Get Zeiss Milvus at B&H Photo. Milvus 35/1.4 for Canon or Milvus 35/1.4 for Nikon.

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4

The most recent addition to the Milvus lineup for Nikon and Canon is/was the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4, which began shipping in July.

For my in-depth review of the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses back in June, I shot all the examples on the Canon 5Ds R. But the lens I ordered is ZF.2 (Nikon) mount and I’m looking to shoot it on the new Nikon D850 just as soon as get the camera because pixel quality depends on resolution and color correction (and other things), and the D850 should be a very demanding camera what with the much lower noise than the Canon 5Ds R.

See also First Look at the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 in my free articles section as well as all my Lenspire articles here on this site or at Lenspire.Zeiss.com.

The Milvus 35/1.4 is major upgrade over its predecessor, its all-new optical design offers strict control of color aberrations wide open along with beautiful bokeh, and stopped down a bit, it delivers world-class sharpness far exceeding its ZE/ZF.2 predecessor.

The total rendering style of the Milvus 35/1.4 along with strictly controlled color aberrations makes it highly suitable for photography at dusk in blue light: shapes and colors remain free of color or shape distortions . This exceptionally natural look is seen in every image and it contributes to a strong separation of subject from background. By f/2.8 the Milvus 35/1.4 delivers outstanding world-class contrast which is eminently suitable for black and white conversions and I’d strongly recommend it for anyone doing 'street shooting' documentary work.

See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 19:19:35
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/1600 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 07:24:34
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene vs the ZE 35/1.4 Distagon in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-28 17:14:23
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f4.5 @ 1/6 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-29 18:48:28
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/8000 sec, ISO 50; 2017-06-04 13:59:47
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f4 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-29 17:49:55
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f9 @ 4.0 sec, ISO 100; 2017-06-17 19:32:44
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f6.3 @ 1.0 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 04:45:23
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f11 @ 10.0 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 19:35:54
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene vs the ZE 35/1.4 Distagon in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/8000 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 08:05:18
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 0.4 sec, ISO 100; 2017-06-17 19:39:55
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f9 @ 1/8 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 19:07:20
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f1.4 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-29 19:12:46
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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See the entire aperture series for this scene in diglloyd Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

f11 @ 30.0 sec, ISO 100; 2017-05-30 19:44:39
Canon EOS 5DS R + Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 pre-production

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Related articles

I’ve published a number of articles over the past year on the Zeiss Lenspire site.

These articles are also available here on this site, with higher quality image presentation.

CNET: 'Even high-end DSLR can't achieve the kind of exposure that iPhone 8 Can'

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

I saw this at MacRumors, so I had better cancel my Nikon D850:

CNET photographer James Martin tested the iPhone 8 Plus camera by shooting more than 2,000 photos in San Francisco, and he was thoroughly impressed with everything from detailed textures to low-light performance.

'With the new sensor, HDR delivered better details in highlights and shadows. HDR is always on, signaling Apple's deeper commitment to computational photography with the iPhone 8 Plus. That's different than the iPhone 7 Plus, which gave you the option to set HDR to auto, off or on.'

Martin added that even his high-end DSLR cannot achieve the kind of exposure he achieved with the iPhone 8 Plus.

The garbage-quality images that the iPhone 7 Plus has produced for me over nearly a year have been impressive... for the poor quality. It’s amazing how the press is willing to quote incompetent photographers.

The iPhone 7 Plus also had “great camera”, which has turned to be poor for the 1X lens and reminiscent of 2010 point and shoot cameras for the 2X lens. Now we are to believe the same story with the iPhone 8. This is classic “emperor’s new clothes” stuff. Yes the 1X camera on the iPhone 7 Plus can produce a sort of acceptable image when dowsampled from full-res by 2X linearly (3.5 megapixels). But that's it.

The only case in which the quality can be made to work is for iPhone panoramas, and these are massivly oversampled (as one rotates the camera), and I still find I have to down sample them for acceptable pixel quality. But as to the “computational photography” point (which might well destroy photography as anything to do with reality, over time, making it untrusted as a medium), the iPhone panorama mode takes a tiny fraction of the effort of any pro camera.

Susen Z writes:

I complete agree with you on this one. The iPhone 7 Plus photo quality has been a joke to me since the beginning --- I actually turned to my D810 more and more since I got my iPhone 7+. The colors are mostly dead, grey-ish and the details are all mushy, when compared to my friends' Nexus 5X (a very inexpensive phone) or Google Pixel, it makes me wonder what Apple has been doing for the past 2 years in terms of camera/image quality. The Nexus 5X/Google Pixel has wonderful color and details with its HDR+ mode turned on, even in low light.

The 2X camera in iPhone 7+ is also not usable, since it doesn't have optical stabilization and it's actually turned off in most indoor lighting condition (the phone will use enlarged image from its 1X camera instead).

I have no interest in updating to any of the new iPhones this year because of this.

DIGLLOYD: the new iPhones are solutions in search of a problem from what I can tell, technology demonstrations that millions are willing to pay for. Well, congratulations to Apple for the success in persuading so many to part with their cash. But I feel burned on the camera thing and I’m not going to spend $1200 again on these jokers. While I’m not switching to PC or android, I’m also going to minimize my Apple purchases going forward.

My Mercedes Sprinter Photography Adventure Van: Wiring and Power Now in Place

Very soon I’ll be heading to the mountains, now with my Sprinter photography adventure van fully armed and operational (so to speak), albeit without insulation and walls and still with a temporary desk/table. But if it’s good enough for the Darth and the Death Star, it’s good enough for me.

This has chewed up some time lately, taking two trips to Los Angeles (640 mile round trip, each). But things are now good to go and I’ve got just what I envisioned all along. May that Nikon D850 now show up please. But I have other things to cover too, so I’ll be shooting and publishing soon.

The iMac 5K travels well using the Gator Cases Creative Pro 27" iMac Carry Tote.

With this electrical setup I can work for about 20 hours on battery power with an iMac 5K and a NEC PA302W wide gamut professional display, my display of choice for all my work where evaluating sharpness and color matter. Usable power from the 5120 watt hour Lithionics battery is about 4100 watt hours, or up to 4600 watt hours in a pinch (a Macbook Pro 15" has a less than 100 watt hour battery).

With skid plates now installed and robust offroad tires, the Mercedes Sprinter Photography Adventure Van is ready to rock. The Cayenne is sold and forgotten.

I feel smug about skipping solar charging; it’s useless for my needs (but honey for foolish bees); all day on the summer solstice baking in the sun (I like shade) with dual 160W panels would produce less charging than one hour at idle from the alternator. Not only that, at idle I can easily run a 1400 watt space heater with minimal effect on the battery. I will make use of that now that it is turning colder, though I will be testing a catalytic propane heater very soon, at high altitude.

Image below is before replacing the Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 with the Xantrex Freedom XC. That change gained a ton of critically important space under the desk for legs/feet and stowage of camera bags and similar. I also moved the battery closer to the wall and to the left, gaining even more space. Table is temporary until I decide on the exact shape and height. Curtains are also temporary and the walls are not insulated or finished yet.

Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 400 amp-hour battery and wiring panel and Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 inverter/charge in Mercedes Sprinter van

See Mercedes Sprinter: Battery, Wiring Panel, Inverter as Installed for details.

This was tricky to light; I could not get anything into that corner. I used two Cineo Matchbox lights aimed at the wiring panel and inverter area. The delivered a beautiful diffuse light that matched the ambient light perfectly.

Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 400 amp-hour battery and wiring panel and Xantrex Freedom XC inverter/charge in Mercedes Sprinter van

Below, Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, maiden voyage before any upfitting, first usage.

Mercedes Sprinter cargo van, maiden voyage before any upfitting
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The PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

Some background first, before going onto the PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera. Never mind the contradiction of using gamut-clipping AdobeRGB color space for the pink jacket and pink suitcase woman—I’ll assume this is just ignorance in the marketing department.

Update: skepticism abounds on the trichromatic claim by PhaseOne. I’ve received four emails from 3 different readers expressing skepticism about the PhaseOne claims that follow below, including one comment about the diagram leading to loss of color discrimination where the sensitivity cuts out, and a general feeling that the claims to mimic human vision are rubbish.

I had taken the diagram as conceptual not literal (obviously there can be no such linear hard cutoff as depicted), and I would be very surprised if PhaseONE (long recognized for excellence) is going to bat on something that is less than stellar. The actual results will show us... the actual results, which is all that counts. Reader comments follow below. But the reader comments show that PhaseOne really needs to offer up something proper, like a spectral transmission graph.

What do I want in a Nikon D850? The best possible color, the best possible dynamic range and the best possible detail—even if that means ISO 32. That’s why Nikon’s description of the D850 as having balanced performance bothers me by using the word “balance”: I do not want to trade off optimal performance at low ISO for some “balanced” performance across the range. Here, “balance” means “compromised” as far as I can tell in marketing speak.

The Nikon D850 allows landscape photographers to capture a diverse range of scenes in sumptuously rich detail. It is the first Nikon D-SLR to use a backside illumination sensor, which allows incoming light to reach photodiodes more efficiently. Together with the camera’s low-noise performance, this enables it to achieve ISO 25600 despite its high pixel count. What’s more, it strikes an optimal balance between sensor sensitivity and the volume of light information accumulated in photodiodes, yielding images with a wide dynamic range even at ISO 64 (expandable to ISO 32 equivalent) — the lowest native ISO setting offered by any camera manufacturer. Copper wiring is used to cut electrical resistance, while the backside illumination structure allows a flexible wiring layout, reducing stray capacity. These measures enable 45-megapixel FX-format images to be captured at continuous shooting speeds of 9 fps*1. And because the sensor is designed without an optical low-pass filter, it can harness the sharpness of 45 megapixels when combined with the high resolving power of NIKKOR lenses. The D850 yields pictures that can be enlarged as massive

So what I want in a Nikon is the best possible image quality at base ISO, not a jack of all ISOs. What happens at ISO 200 on up, or even ISO 100 is uninteresting—I just want the best possible low ISO quality. Note that this very idea is called out below in the PhaseONE discussion below—kudos to PhaseOne. But why cannot Nikon (or Canon) run with similar ideas? Even Pentax at a distant 3rd has its limited-use-case but awesome super-res pixel shift capability.

That’s why the PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera is intriguing and disappointing in this sense: why do DSLR users have to settle for “good enough”?

PhaseONE IQ3 100 Megapixel Trichromatic Sensor/Camera

I have to also wonder if the PhaseONE IQ3 avoids the nasty violet cut filter that most all cameras employ, which chops off the violet end of the spectrum, including some flowers. See Spectral Transmission of Digital Sensors.

The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back is different because of the hardware. Designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye, we have physically customized the Color Bayer Filter on the 101-megapixel sensor to tailor the color response. This allows the Digital Back to capture color in a new way, unlike anything else.

PhaseOne Tricrhomatic sensor conception (left), conventional sensor (right)

Commissioned by Phase One and built by Sony, the Phase One Trichromatic sensor is only found within the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Digital Back. This pioneering technology, allowing for the capture of vivid and vibrant color close to the dynamic color ability of human vision, sets the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic in a league of its own.

The technology inherent in the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic starts with the hardware. We have physically customized the Color Bayer filter on an all-new 101-megapixel sensor to tailor the color response. This allows the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic to capture color in a new way, unlike anything else. In essence, it’s designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye.

The customization of the Bayer filter material in the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic allows the sensor to capture, and thus produce, cleaner color separation of the red, green and blue pixels, particularly at lower wavelengths. Separating color at a sensor level from the time of capture, with little to no color contamination, provides improved latitude in the final image render. This separation allows for richness and control that otherwise cannot be achieved. Recorded RAW data is, therefore, able to supply a more faithful representation of color in the final file, making it possible to easily and accurately achieve natural results.

Prioritizing Image Quality – ISO 35 The ISO performance of the new IQ3 100MP Trichromatic sensor has expanded to a range never-before reached in a medium format CMOS sensor. While others may concentrate on higher ISO’s, Phase One concentrates first on image quality. A base ISO of 35 means the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic can produce the cleanest 101- megapixel image possible, and reaching to 12,800 provides the flexibility required by the world’s most demanding photographers.

- The filter array of the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic remains as a standard RGBG Bayer filter mosaic. As this sensor is customized specifically for color, the filtering material that defines the color response of each individual pixel has been customized to produce cleaner R, G and B values.

- The new sensor of the IQ3 100MP Trichromatic is designed to provide accurate colors more easily as the sensor can ensure the purity of color measure for each individual pixel. This is easiest to see in richer chroma as there is less contamination (and therefore improved additive color control) from neighboring hues.

- The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic, along with the existing IQ3 100MP and IQ3 80MP Digital Backs, produce 16bit color RAW files. The IQ3 100MP Trichromatic, however, is able to capture, control and therefore deliver these colors in a way that mimics the color response of the human eye, giving a more natural, pure result. This provides improved color performance, efficiency and post processing flexibility.

See the full description in the PhaseOne Trichromatic tech specs PDF.

  • 101 megapixels at 11608 X 8708
  • Up to 60 minute exposures.
  • 15 f-stop dynamic range, 16 bit opticolor.
  • ISO 35-12800
  • 4.6 X 4.6 micron pixels
  • Electronic shutter.

Kathryn R writes:

My apologies for not making my point more clearly. My point is that Phase One claims that their new sensor more closely matches human vision because it clearly separates the spectral sensitivity of the three color sensors. This is categorically NOT true in the human visual system. In fact, the spectral sensitivity of the green and red cone cells has major overlap.

You are correct that the visual system in the human brain/eye is NOT analogous to optical sensor in the camera. In fact the human visual system involves processing at both the retinal level and the brain. This accounts for many capabilities in the human visual system (see “Weber effect”, color constancy, etc.) that current optical sensors don’t begin to duplicate.

In fact, the best current data suggests that color perception in the human system responds to the relative difference in stimulation of the three types of cone cells rather than the absolute value of the cell outputs (which accounts for color constancy). Luminance data is instead supplied entirely by the rod type cells and therefore is integrated into the image at a higher level. Note also there are areas of the retina that are only populated by cone cells and more peripheral areas populated by only by rod cells. Again, we are in "violent agreement” that the human visual system has very little in common with the typical camera sensor …. but it is the Phase One marketing department that is claiming the superiority of their new sensor which allegedly “mimics” the human system which is rubbish (even though it may be a better sensor).

In fact, there is an argument to be made that because of the spacial separation of the color sensors there may actually be an advantage in some spectral overlap to help avoid certain types of color artifacts.

P.S. My background includes two engineering degrees and extensive research in neurophysiology in addition to my medical degree so it grates on me when companies misrepresent the science.

DIGLLOYD: this all makes sense, and I wish PhaseOne had chosen to supply a spectral transmission chart.

Philip S writes:

Laughably stupid, IMO. The PhaseOne blurb, especially the illustration, implies no overlap in spectral sensitivities of the red, green, and blue photosites. If that were actually true, the camera would be severely limited. For example, suppose the following sensitivities: Red: 700 - 580 nm Green: 579 - 490 nm Blue: 489 - 380 nm.

Then, monochromatic red lights of say 660 and 600 nm would be indistinguishable, since both would excite only red photosites. There is a good reason why the spectral sensitivities of human cone cells (and the red, green, and blue photosites of camera sensors) have overlapping spectral sensitivities. The overlap makes it possible to distinguish very fine differences in color.

You are being very kind to PhaseOne. To me that press release (and PDF) is a perfect example of marketing BS that fails to provide any real information and is positively misleading. And couldn’t they have come up with something better than “Trichromatic”. Hardly a distinguishing characteristic.

What, for example, does “cleaner color separation of the red, green, and blue pixels” really mean? Or, “separating color at the sensor level from the time of capture”?

What I think PhaseOne is trying to say is that they have worked with Sony to adjust the spectral sensitivity functions of the filter array in a way that increases the accuracy of color reproduction.

A clue is here: “In essence, it’s designed around the concept of mimicking the dynamic color response of the human eye.” But why the emphasis on “color separation”? Sorry for the rant. And, yes, I know all other camera companies are guilty of the same sort of advertising-speak. Perhaps I’m holding PhaseOne to a higher standard.

DIGLLOYD: I’m beaten at my own game of being skeptical of camera vendor claims!

Jason W writes:

What the simplified spectral response diagram suggests to me is we're getting a sensor that probably behaves more like Velvia film, which has more isolated RGB spectral response curves.

If this is true, we should probably take issue with PhaseOne's claim about a sensor that mimics the color response of the human eye, which has significantly overlapping spectral curves in the red and green cones. In this sense, the original MP100 might objectively produce images more akin to human eyesight. That being said, people often subjectively prefer rich, saturated Velvia-esque color images even if they are not accurate.

DIGLLOYD: PhaseOne’s communication has resulted in four skeptical emails, and zero believers. Seems like they have a problem on their hands in terms of marketing.

Roy P writes:

I read the comments from your readers about the new P1 Trichromatic, including someone who didn’t like the name(!). P1 called a b&w back “Achromatic”, so I guess “Trichromatic” was a handy marketing name. At any rate, maybe the P1 marketing blurb was not accurate relative to how the human eye works physiologically. But what it does seem to deliver are colors that are purer. I see it more along the lines of a Sigma Foveon sensor, although the technologies are not at all the same. (I have heard that Sony is working on a new generation sensor that takes the Foveon concept further – but that’s not what’s in the Trichromatic.)

Here’s the first comparison I’ve seen between the IQ3 100 and the new Trichromatic. Assuming they didn’t fudge anything, and the exposure and RAW conversion were identical, the Trichromatic image shows more vibrant, saturated colors. But this is something that is easily done with the older IQ3 100MP by simply bumping up saturation in Capture One. The Trichromatic shows more highlight details in most areas, even in the white areas, which is impressive. However, inexplicably, there are some bald spots in the Trichromatic image with very little detail, but the same areas show more details from the older IQ3 100 back. Now, that should NOT be happening – that makes me wonder if the two exposures were really identical.

The piece de resistance for this comparison is the one triangular cut glass that looks very blue in the Trichromatic image, but decidedly purple in the regular IQ3 100 image. When I saw this, my first reaction was, wow, that is pretty dramatic. My second reaction was, hey, how could it be this dramatic? I would have expected to have broken a little sweat studying and comparing the two images, before convincing myself that the Trichromatic was indeed better. With this one, the incremental improvement in the color seems too much relative to the incremental improvement in the sensor technology. Net-net, I do think this is an improvement, and I would expect it to deliver sharper images to the extent there are abrupt color transitions in an image (e.g., from red to green). If I were Phase One, that is probably the angle I would be emphasizing, not pitching that the new back is closer to becoming the human eye!

DIGLLOYD: while I see the color difference, it’s hard to understand without seeing the original scene.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services, Well, Mostly, Still Unusable

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

Sony pro services is expanding its support in USA and Canada, but I am nowhere near a walk-in center (Los Angelese is 350 miles away).

Eight days ago in Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services, I reported that my A7R II was fixed and back in my hands, turnaround was fast.

Only today did I get around to checking the returned/repaired A7R II.

It seems that some repairs were done, but my 3rd item was not looked at and it makes the camera unusable. I had reported it this way to support:

When in magnified Live View, camera constantly pops out of Live View for no reason at all.

Problem is, this issue is not only still there, but it is actually much worse, rendering the camera unusable for many operations. Examples:

  • Press Play, and it immediately pops back to shooting mode
  • Press the Fn button, the menu is shown for an instant, but it immediately pops back to shooting mode, which makes it impossible to use the Fn button to change settings.
  • Enter Live View (EVF) and zoom in; it randomly pops out of Live View usually within 1-2 seconds. Occasionally but rarely it stays in Live View long enough to focus, but this takes a minute or two of effort.

I’m not too happy about this since I am leaving on a trip on Tuesday or so and it’s highly unlikely I can get the camera repaired and returned to me by then.

Update: about an hour after reporting the issue to Sony, I received this email response:

We apologize for the inconvenience of having to send out the camera to resolve the third issue that was described. I have created an overnight shipping label to have the camera sent directly to our office. It is extremely important to us to have this resolved as soon as possible. At your earliest convenience, please print the shipping label and drop it off at a shipping location. From there, we will take care of the rest.

Well, I can’t ask for better service than that, on a Saturday no less.

I wish Sony cameras could save their settings to the camera card. One of the biggest hassles in getting a repaired camera back, is having to go reprogram all the settings and menus and custom function buttons. See the 4 pages of how-to on Sony A7R II settings.

OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock for Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C Macs such as 2016/2017 MacBook Pro, 2017 iMac 5K

2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro users now have a solution for reducing the number of dongles to carry to just one device for common needs in the about $50 OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock.

  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Standard-A) Ports
  • USB-C Auxiliary Power Port (up to 60W)
  • SD Card Reader (UHS-II)
  • HDMI 2.0 Port Supports 4K display resolution – up to 4096 x 2160 at 30Hz
  • vailable in 4 colors
  • 2 Year OWC Limited Warranty
  • Any type C power adapter up to 100 watts can be connected to the Mini Travel Dock.

Fitting easily into a small purse or back or moderate-size pocket, the OWC USB-C Travel Dock solves two key needs that I have when working in the field: USB-A port support (for a backup drive), and an SD card slot (for downloading image). Although I am still using a 2015 MacBook Pro, when I ultimately move to newer model, this will be a critical accessory.

See also OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and OWC USB-C Dock for Apple MacBook.

OWC USB-C Mini Travel Dock
Which Camera System / Lenses Should Are Best?
✓ Get the ideal system for your needs: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Really Right Stuff L-Bracket for Nikon D850

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

See updated post here.

Really Right Stuff L-bracket for Nikon D850

Sony A7R II Repaired via Sony Pro Services

See my Sony wish list and get Sony A7R II at B&H Photo.

I was very happy with the quick turnaround on my Sony A7R II.

Sony Pro Services is expanding its service in several aspects. Nikon and Canon should be concerned; Sony is making progress in filling a a key hole in its business, the service and support aspect that pros require.

NEW YORK, Sept. 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world's largest image sensor manufacturer, has today announced several updates related to its Sony Imaging PRO Support organization.

Sony's organization to support working professional photographers and videographers now features a domestic 24/7 call center and new walk-in service centers in New York City and Los Angeles.  Additionally, Sony Imaging PRO Support has launched a full in-the-field technical team to support professionals across all of North America.  The team is providing in-the-field service and on-site depot support at major sporting events, media events and shows across North America, offering camera cleanings, evaluation loaners, education and seminars.  

Also announced today is the launch of Sony Imaging PRO Support Canada, offering all of the benefits of the program to pros throughout the Canadian market. 

Membership to Sony's Imaging PRO Support organization has grown over 40% year over year in North America, while consistently striving to minimize customer costs and maximize efficiency and turnaround time for all repairs and services. 

"Our team is fully committed to building an ecosystem that supports the needs of digital imaging professionals today and tomorrow," says Sony VP Neal Manowitz. "We are focused on reducing downtime, removing costs and improving overall satisfaction.  New walk-in locations, a 24/7 domestic hotline and a field team supporting event depots are just a few of the many steps we are taking to provide the best-in-class solutions for professionals." 

These updates come on the heels of the introduction of Sony's new flagship α9 camera earlier this year.  Featuring the world's first1 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor with 24.2MP2 of resolution, blackout free, completely silent shooting3 at up to 20 fps4 with full autofocus, a 693 point focal plane phase detection AF system and more, the α9 is revolutionizing the professional imaging market.  

Existing benefits of the PRO Support program include dedicated email and call support, expedited three-day repair turnaround time, evaluation loaners, up to three free camera and lens maintenance services per year, complimentary shipping fees for repairs and access to a variety of exclusive members only events held throughout the year. 

Those interested in joining Sony's premium care program can visit www.alphauniverse.com/prosupport  to apply.  After the online membership form is submitted and approved, a member of the Sony Imaging PRO Support team will contact applicants directly to discuss the program's benefits in detail.

Those interested in visiting a walk-in Sony Imaging PRO Support center can visit the Los Angeles location at 2706 Media Center Drive, Ste. 130, Los Angeles, CA 90065, phone (323) 352-5007, or the New York location at Photo Tech, 360 W 36thStreet, New York, NY 10018, phone (212) 673-8400.

Notes to Editors:

  1. As of September 2017
  2. Approx. effective 
  3. Electronic shutter mode. At apertures smaller than F11 (F-numbers higher than F11), focus will not track the subject and focus points will be fixed on the first frame. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds. 
  4. "Hi" continuous shooting mode. The maximum frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. Visit Sony's support web page for lens compatibility information. 
Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

Nikon D850: Firsthand Reader Comments on Ergonomics and Image Quality

See my Nikon wish list and get Nikon D850 at B&H Photo.

John W writes:

I went in to my local camera store this morning when they first opened and weren't busy, and they let me have about 30 minutes to play around with their D850 demo unit. I took about about 30 handheld shots with it onto my own SD card and I've had a little time with the raw files in PS this afternoon. Here are a few of my headline-style initial reactions.

As advertised, the new optical viewfinder is huge and gorgeous. I loved it. This camera does not feel like an evolution of the D810 the way the D810 felt like an evolution of the D800. This feels like a whole new and different camera which has lots of familial similarities with the D8xx series. Strange as it sounds, it feel very familiar and very different all at the same time. The ergonomics and usability are excellent. The grip is great. Everything about it is quick and responsive. It felt very natural to work with very quickly.

You can tell immediately that the AF is more responsive than the D810. Maybe it's just me, but having the new ISO button by the shutter is a big deal. That is the way I really want to be able to work with a camera. As far as I am concerned, once we all moved from film to digital, ISO immediately became a routine exposure adjustment, right alongside aperture and shutter speed. It should be just as easy to adjust as those two. Finally, on the D850, it is.

In summary, I became sold very quickly on the ergonomics and usability. Working with this camera is a joy, in a way the D800 and D810 never quite were. And, that was after only 30 minutes of using it. Now, on to image quality: Like the camera body itself, the overall IQ is just flat different from the D800/D810 files. I'm just now starting to wrap my head around specifically what is different, but from immediate impressions, I would never mistake raws from the D850 with raws from the D800/D810 - just like I would never mistake D800/D810 raws for those from Canon or Sony. So, the D850 images are different, but are they better? Again, in IMHO from limited use, in most respects, they are better, but I'm still very concerned about one important element: D850 color looks great to me. Richly saturated, accurate. Very appealing yet natural at the same time. They looked great SOOC.

High ISO noise is definitely better. I was shooting indoors, handheld with no flash, so I shot a lot of stuff between 1,000 and 2,000 ISO. No question. These images are cleaner than I would get from my D810. The SOOC images were very punchy, sharp and detailed. Looking at 100% scale in PS, I could definitely see the additional detail that the 10MP boost was giving me. The "punchiness" is the main reason I would not mistake these images for D800/D810 files. So, I think, overall the contrast profile is somewhat different.

So, that brings me to the possible "fly in the ointment": dynamic range. I have shot a lot of test images in that same store with many different cameras over the years, and I am convinced that the D850 shots I took today were clipping highlights sooner than my D810 would have. Now, maybe my impression is not correct or maybe I need to expose a little differently with this camera than I would with the D810. But, anyway, as of right now - and based on a very small sample of sloppy test shots - I remained concerned with the DR on this camera. That's too bad, because everything else was great.

DIGLLOYD: straight out of camera images can depend on so many settings that I don’t think that tells a whole lot, and very litte for a raw shooter. But I have little doubt that the images are indeed different-looking.

Dynamic range can can only be properly evaluated in raw and with RawDigger (to guarantee proper exposure). The Nikon D810 routines gives away 1.5 to 2 stops of dynamic range for example, such as in Nikon D810 + Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO vs Pentax 645Z (Pine Creek Sunflowers). And then there are other cameras with pattern and banding noise that “scientific” tests rate as highly as better cameras with no pattern noise. But in all cases, proper exposure is critical.

Regarding noise I would expect the D850 to be improved 4 years later even though it has a higher pixel count. But noise cannot be fairly compared at pixel level: a fixed size print from a 45MP camera will be enlarged less than one for a 36MP camera.

More about the Nikon D850

View all pages tagged with Nikon D850.

Summary of recent posts about the Nikon D850.

XQD Card for Nikon D850: Sony 256GB

See my Nikon wish list.

I like being able to shoot for a 2 week trip and not have to erase the card, and 256GB will let me do that for still photos. See my Workflow area on how to organize work in the field.

I had purchased a Lexar 128GB XQD card for the Nikon D850 about two weeks ago. It will become my backup card because I just bought the about $350 Sony 256BB XQD card.

The Lexar card came with an XQD card reader which I assume and hope will work fine with the Sony card. It’s lame to sell a $350 card without a card reader Sony—this ought to be rectified.

Sony 256GB XQD card
Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

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