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FOR SALE, cheap: three (3) Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer

The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer is a very fine printer, which I discussed a few years back. It is a $379 printer still in production that after a $250 mail-in rebate is about $130.

UPDATE: one printer (unused brand-new) left but no ink. Come and get it for $20 or a bottle of wine or something.

I have three of the Canon PIXMA PRO-100 printers in my garage: one has seen very light use, and the other two are brand-new in box. A total of 17 ink sealed cartridges across the 3 printers as one full set and two partials (can’t vouch for ink usability as it is some years old).

I hardly ever print, I want the space back, and I also have a PIXMA Pro-10. I am eager to clear them out of my garage, so I will let them go very cheaply, provided that you come and pick them up near Palo Alto, CA (too large and heavy to ship cost effectively).

Make me an offer.

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New Article on Zeiss Lenspire Site: “Zoom or Prime Lens? A series by Lloyd Chambers”

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

Published yesterday is #2 Zoom Lens or Prime? Moderate Wide Angles (25mm, 28mm, 35mm).

Other articles at lenspire.zeiss.com:

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

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Stitched Panoramas with Fujifilm GFX and GF 120/4: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head in use

Shot vertically, the Fujifilm GFX makes an excellent platform for panoramas. The main issue is focusing instability with all the lenses (as documented in detail), particularly with the GF 120/4. This series I was lucky—the lens varied only a little, so nothing was thrown off focus by the GFX in any significant way.

This panorama was shot using the Really Right Stuff PG-02 pano gimbal head. At the time, I had not determined the entrance pupil position for the GF 120/4, but most of the scene is at enough distance that the resulting stitch is free of parallax.

Fujifilm GFX + GR 120/4 Stitched Panorama @ 120mm: View of Mt Whitney Peaks From Alabama Hills

Presented at image sizes up to 85 megapixels.

My feeling is that such images take on more and more appeal as retina-grade 8K displays come to market. While the image is great fun to scroll around in on an 14-.7 megapixel iMac 5K, an 8K display shows nearly 32 megapixels at a time—I look forward to such displays as I have long enjoyed 5K better than any print.

The next major batch of work for my review of the Fujifilm GFX will be when the GF 23mm f/4 and GF 110mm f/2 arrive, which should be June by the looks of it.

As shown below, 14505' = 4421m Mt Whitney is seen just right of center and above the road-cut of Whitney Portal Road. The peak about 1/3 from left is 12944' = 3945m Lone Pine Peak. Because it is closer, it looks higher than Mt Whitney, which is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Still, White Mountain Peak at 14252' = 4344m is nearly as high and rideable to the summit on a mountain bike.

View of High Peaks Including Mt Whitney
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Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series with GF 120/4: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

In Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series with 63/2.8: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills, I showed the erratic focusing issues of the Fujifilm GFX with the GF 63/2.8.

This series shows the severe focusing errors that are commonplace with the GFX + GF 120/4. And this was the second brand-new GFX with the second brand-new 120/4. The first pairing had terrible problems also.

The variability shown here was observed over and over in the field, a great source of aggravation because it becomes hit-and-miss to obtain optimal results. The greatest errors occur at distance where focusing precision is at its worst, and where tiny changes in focus can make a big difference.

Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Aperture Series: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills (Focus Variability)

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/4 through f/8, along with crops.

See also Autofocus and Manual Focus in the Field.

I still have not heard a peep from Fujifilm. I never believed the original GFX problem diagnosis, now disproven as a theory given the same misbehaviors proven with a 2nd brand-new GFX and 120/4. How this level of junk focus ever made it out of the testing lab is chocking.

As shown below, Mt Whitney is just out of sight on the right side of the frame, visible in a similar shot with the GF 63/2.8. The peak about 1/3 from left is 12944' = 3945m Lone Pine Peak. Because it is closer, it looks higher than 14505' = 4221m Mt Whitney which is the highest peak in the lower 48 states. Still, White Mountain Peak at 14252' = 4344m is nearly as high and rideable to the summit on a mountain bike.

View from Alabama Hills towards Mt Whitney area
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FastRawViewer Updated to v4.2

Fast Raw Viewer has been upated to version 4.2. Changes:

  • New Sort & Filter facility, to allow change sort order on the fly and filter current folder based on XMP Ratings/Labels and EXIF Timestamp (shot date).
  • (Windows only) Touchscreen/tablets support: toolbars and limited gesture support.
  • Folder tree editing (add/create/rename) within FRV.
  • Drag and drop from FRV.
  • Drag and drop within FRV (to Folders/Favorite folders).
  • Over/Underexposure improved: camera dynamic range may be set based on ISO and camera reported 'Linearity limit'.
  • Lots of minor improvements and several bugfixes.

LibRaw says:

Celebrating this release, we're on sale: 25% off for FastRawViewer, RawDigger and all bundles until June 20, 2017.

USB-C Dock for MacBook

4 USB3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, audio ports, HDMK 4K port!

Converting a Really Right Stuff Center Column TQC-14 to a TFC-14

   
Really Right Stuff TFC-14

I have tripods of every size, so when I go for lightweight, my priorities are just that, since I can carry a larger more versatile tripod if that is the priority: series 1, 2, 3 or 4, ranging from small and light to burly.

As well, I like fixed platforms without anything that can possibly come loose—a preference born of many a long hike and years of field usage. While Really Right Stuff helped me over the phone to tighten up my loose Really Right Stuff TQC-14 tripod base, it had flummoxed me.

I had converted my TQC-14 with center column to a short stub center column a few years back using the TA-1-HK Versa Series 1 Hook (at least that’s what I think it is/was).

HOwever, I like the lighter weight and simplicity of a fixed base, as in the Really Right Stuff TFC-14 (Tripod-Fixed-Carbon Fiber). So this week I converted my TQC-14 to a TFC-14 with a fixed base plate—no center column at all, and some additional weight savings and a bit less bulk. I like this robust simple setup a lot; it’s what I use on all my tripods (the TA-3 leveling base qualifies in this sense). As another bonus the TFC Conversion Kit includes the carry strap, which lets me anchor it to my pack and/or carry it slung around my wrist.

   
Really Right Stuff TFC-14, base plate area

Below, the Really Right Stuff TQC-14 as sold with the rapid-rise center column. Lots of people like this for the extra height, but it adds some bulk and weight. The center column can be stubbed out, but I prefer the Really Right Stuff TFC-14 approach as shown above.

Really Right Stuff TQC-14 with rapid column (for extra height)
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Really Right Stuff LCF-11 Replacement Tripod Foot for Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

I’m delighted with the Really Right Stuff LCF-11 Replacement Tripod Foot for Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. The Nikon-supplied foot is partly dead weight, because it has no dovetail—a plate has to be attached to it for tripod use, which adds weight and height and decreases stability.

The LCF-11 can be removed or attached in seconds without tools thanks to the generous knob. Its built-in dovetail slots into any Really Right Stuff clamp or similar compatible clamp, just like the BD810-L bracket on my Nikon D810.

Some collared, telephoto lenses have a foot than can be removed. If your lens has this option, choose one of our foot replacements instead of a lens plate. A replacement foot with built-in-dovetail mounting will be lighter, lower in profile, and provide the best possible stability for your lens. Really Right Stuff foot replacements are precision machined from solid blocks of 6061-T6 aluminum and are fully compatible with any Arca-Swiss quick-release system. This foot replaces the Nikon lens collar foot on AF-S Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR (2016) lens. 

1. To remove the Nikon foot, unscrew the lock knob, depress the spring-loaded tab, and slide the foot forward. 
2. To install the LCF-11, slide it on from front to back until you feel it snap into place, then tighten the lock knob.

Compatible with AF-S Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, or a Really Right Stuff LC-A10, LC-A11, LC-A12, LC-A13, and LC-A14 replacement collar.

Really Right Stuff LCF-11 Replacement Tripod Foot for Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
Sony Interchangeable-Lens Mirrorless
$1598 SAVE $100 = 5.0% Sony a7 II Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series:Mosaic at 70mm, 130mm, 170mm

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

See my previous comments about the outstanding properites of the about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR, these series are as demanding as it gets for any lens, mercilessly revealing any optical weakness or asymmetry on this planar target.

Images presented at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/8.

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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: 'The Claw' Fountain at Night

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

See my previous comments about the outstanding properites of the about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR, this series looks at a backlit subject at night and diffraction star pattern through a tree and general imaging performance.

Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series @ 135mm: 'The Claw' Fountain at Night

Images presented at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

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Deals on Hard Drives

Right now, there are some excellent hard drive deals at MacSales.com.

Hard drives slow down as they fill up, so even if capacity needs might fit into 6TB, an 8TB drive is a better long term investment. Ditto for 6TB vs 4TB, etc.

The MacSales 90-day replacement guarantee is something to consider when buying a new hard drive: waiting weeks for a hard drive manufacturer to send a refurb is an unpleasant plight.

OWC is proud to offer an extended replacement window of 90 days on new internal hard disk drives* (unless otherwise noted in the product description) and Pioneer DVR devices. Once a return authorization number has been issued and we receive the problematic drive back, you will get a brand new replacement drive, rather than a factory refurbished drive.

MPG also recommends buying drives with the OWC Thunderbay 4, to benefit from not only the full burn-in process but the excellent warranty.

Each ThunderBay undergoes OWC's multi-hour drive "burn-in" performance certification procedure prior to shipping. This ensures your ThunderBay arrives operating properly and ready for demanding use.

Back in late 2015 I invested in two OWC Thunderbay 4 units incorporating eight 8TB HGST 8TB Ultrastar He8 enterprise-grade hard drives, which cost a pretty penny. Those drives are still serving me well except for one failure, which was replaced by MacSales.

Deals on Hard Drives
 
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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Yellow Bike at Night, White Truck at Night

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

See my previous comments about the outstanding properites of the about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR, this series looks at sharpness and color aberrations under artificial light at night including silver metal and out of focus specular reflections and other metallic and neutrals. The f/2.8 exposure is already six seconds

Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series @ 120mm: Yellow Bike at Night

Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series @ 135mm: White Truck at Night

Images presented at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/6.3 and/or f/9.

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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Penetrating Power at Night, Tower

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

See my previous comments about the outstanding properites of the about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR, this series looks at penetrating power in dim conditions into dark nooks and crannies as well as the rendering of very fine details.

Nikon  70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series @ 160mm: Penetrating Power at Night, Tower

Images presented at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/6.3.

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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Bikes at Night, Rodin Burghers of Calais

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

The about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR now seems to me to be the finest zoom of its kind ever produced, by a wide margin. The use of fluorite and HRI elements and six ELD elements and surely helps explain its performance—the price reflects the unprecedented effort by Nikon to make a truly world-class zoom. Now Nikon needs to get cracking on an 11-24mm, a 16-35mm and a 24-70mm with similar quality.

The 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR surely competes with and beats many a prime lens, so I’ll just put it this way: if it’s a lens whose range is useful for you, it’s worth buying it even if that means also buying a killer deal Nikon D810 to receive its images. If you have a prior version, have no hesitation in upgrading.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200/2.8E FL ED VR.

The bike series looks at sharpness and color correction on subject matter that with most lenses would generate violet halos on the metallic specular areas and/or secondary color blurs that would pollute the color. It does so under whacky artificial night lighting.

Nikon  70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Bikes at Night

The Burghers series looks at sharpness and color correction on subject matter with specular highlights of varying hues from both the lingering blue of late dusk and the garish warmth of night lighting:

Nikon  70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Rodin Burghers of Calais

Images presented at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

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Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D Buy/Sell Decision Process

Get Hasselblad X1D at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format.

Choosing a new camera system is fraught with all sorts of unexpected perils (of a sort). It is also a large investment should it be a high end system.

See Michael’s comments on the X1D from April 25 3 weeks earlier as well as the One Reader’s X1D Month-long Buy/Use/Sell Decision and reader comments on the Fujifilm GFX.

Michael Erlewine writes:

Michael has en extensive collection of lenses and does beautiful flower shots, see An Expert at Focus Stacking Comments on the Pentax K1 and Its Image Quality. He has a number of APO lenses including Zeiss Otus for Nikon D810, so there is a high bar to surmount.

SELLING MY X1D

Hasselblad X1D

After shooting some 1100 or so shots with the Hasselblad X1D system, I have decided that it is not what I need for my work.

I’m sure, many will point out that I don’t get it, but I am only trying to “get it” for my own work. It’s embarrassing to admit this, after all my praise, but at my age, who cares? I have put my X1D system, including the 45mm and 90mm lenses, plus the lovely RSS L-Bracket and 5 batteries for sale on Ebay under my nickname ALLMUSIC

Although there are a number of druthers and small reasons for giving up the camera, the two main reasons are: 

(1) The lack of lenses I need now for the camera. I have waited months for the 30mm and, of course, probably would have waited for the announced 120mm Macro, as well. This is summer, and now is the time I need those lenses. As a close-up photographer, neither the 45mm or 90mm can get me close enough, especially since there are no extensions available.

(2) And second, having very carefully done hundreds of test shots for overall sharpness, I am, despite what others say, disappointed with the degree and kind of sharpness I can attain with the X1D system and their lenses. Please don’t ask me to prove this. It’s just my opinion.

No one is more sorry than I am, and perhaps selling this system is a stupid thing to do. I lose a bunch of money. Or, is it that I’m hooked on the Nikon system and how the D810 works? I am not arguing that the D810 IQ is better than the X1D, but only that what I am able to get from the X1D is not worth what I have to put up with to get it. And, of course, there are all the great lenses I have that will never work on the X1D, but that is a minor thing. 

And finally, for me and the work I do, the X1D is just not ready with what I need. I should have waited for perhaps the second edition. And, I can always get another copy, should an X2D comes out. Meanwhile, I will wait for the rumored 46 megapixels D820 and have to be happy with that. I have TRIED to love this system, but I can’t get there from here.

I will say that the X1D haptics are extraordinary and that, if I wanted to afford what for me would basically be a $20k system, I would keep it. The system is easy to use and I love the touch-screen of the LiveView. 

So, there you have it. I report this because I owe it to those who have read any of my other comments on this system. C'est la vie.

I am also (equipment-wise) totally exhausted from purchasing and vetting the Pentax K3 and Pentax K1, the Fujifilm GFX, the Sony A7R2 (for the second time), and the Hasselblad X1D, including all the trimmings for each system. All of this in an attempt to reach beyond my current Nikon D810, since Nikon has not ponied up. So... here I am with my D810, which for my work is better than any of the above. My GAS is finally satisfied. Enough. 

DIGLLOYD: the Nikon D810 is a seminal camera, a classic that IMO will go down as the best of its genre of its time period. And it’s a steal right now at only about $2497 with a bunch of free stuff too.

I like both the Hasselblad X1D and the Fujifilm GFX for reasons specific to each, but the main thing is that I deem the time unripe for buying either (as of May/June 2017) so as to see how the systems develop, whether bugs and usability warts are fixed, and whether the lens selections arrive and pan out.

And if the rumored Nikon D820 arrives with, say, 15-bit dynamic range (up from 14+ bits) and superior image quality to the D810 but at 42 instead of 36 megapixels and another goody or two, it will be a no-brainer win for me.

Canon Best of Breed Lenses
$2699 SAVE $300 = 10.0% Canon 11-24mm f/4 EF L USM in Lenses: DSLR
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Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

The Canon 11-24mm f/4L is a unique lens that I’ve long desired to own, with the 11-15mm range simply awesome for some shooting.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

But now that Sony has announced the about about $1698 12-24mm f/4 G, I think I’d rather take a hard look at Sony’s offering, since I expect a new Sony high-res camera late this year and I’d rather have such a lens on Sony anyway. At an amazingly lightweight 565 grams and exceptionally compact, this looks to be THE lens to have for hiking for extreme wide angle work on Sony. Assuming it performs. Those looking for a more moderate range are now well served by the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM.

The question is, is it as good as Canon’s offering? If it’s as good, it may be the first Sony G lens I actually buy and keep, assuming it doesn’t have the dreaded symmetry issues of so many G and GM lenses.

The use of 9 special elements, a modest aperture of f/4, and and all-new design for mirrorless holds out great promise for performance, even if the price is $1000 less than even the discounted price of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2 to f/22
  • 4 Aspherical Elements
  • 1 Super ED and 3 ED Elements
  • Nano AR Coating
  • Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motor
  • Focus Hold Button, AF/MF Switch
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Seven-Bladed Rounded Diaphragm

The 7-blade diaphragm is a curious choice and perhaps non-rounded would have been more interesting (I like sunstars on the sun and lights at night, and rounded blades tend to kill the effect).

No filter threads are available. While I don’t see filters as very useful for such a lens—there are exceptions such as sand and salt spray, so it is a distinct downside for harsh conditions. But the same is true for Canon and Nikon and Sigma offerings in its range.

As per Sony, the lens ticks off all the key boxes, and more:

  • High resolution at ultra-wide angles —Covering the widest range available in any full-frame E-mount lens, the FE 12-24mm F4 G zoom offers unprecedented expressive potential for landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, and other expansive subjects. Refined ultra-wide-angle optics capture sweeping scenes with dynamic perspectives plus outstanding resolution and clarity.
  • Excellent corner-to-corner resolution — Four aspherical elements in an innovative optical design effectively suppress optical aberrations that can be problematic in wide-angle lenses. This remarkable lens achieves excellent resolution that is fully consistent with the G Lens concept throughout its zoom range.
  • Super ED glass improves resolution and contrast — One Super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass element and three ED glass elements are strategically deployed to minimize chromatic aberration. Effective reduction of chromatic aberration contributes to improved sharpness and clarity throughout the image area.
  • Fast, quiet AF for stills and movies — While autofocus speed and precision are essential to quickly capture and reliably track the subject, quiet operation is a must for movie recording. This lens features an advanced inner-focus mechanism driven by Sony's Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) system for fast, accurate AF lock-on as well as smooth, quiet operation.
  • Clarity and contrast in any light — Sony's original Nano AR Coating suppresses spurious reflections that can cause flare and ghosting in backlit and other challenging lighting situations, for consistently high contrast and clarity. Freedom from flare over a wide range of incident light angles provides greater framing and composing flexibility. (1. Nano AR Coating / 2. Glass / 3. Transmitted light).
  • Compact, lightweight and mobile — A refined optical design significantly reduces the overall length of the lens barrel as well as the diameter of the front element size while maintaining the highest possible optical performance at all focal lengths and aperture settings. Compact dimensions and low 20-ounce (565-gram) weight make this lens ideal wherever portability and mobility are required.
  • Smooth, versatile operation — A customizable focus hold button that can be assigned other functions adds an extra margin fingertip control, and an AF/MF switch sets the lens's operating mode to suit the situation. Manual mode focusing is fast and responsive with almost unnoticeable lag.
  • Advantages for movie recording — With a constant F4 maximum aperture throughout the zoom range this lens makes it possible to achieve consistent exposure. Advanced AF with outstanding speed and precision contributes to reliable subject tracking at wide angles for impressive movie perspectives.
  • High reliability in harsh conditions — The overall design of this lens is dust and moisture resistant2for extra protection and reliable operation in challenging environments. Shoot with confidence in light rain or windy conditions.
  • Integrated lens hood — A built-in lens hood effectively blocks incident light that might cause flare and ghosting, maintaining optimum clarity and contrast even at the lens's widest angles. The supplied lens cap slips right over the built-in hood.
Optical design of Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

A 1-year limited warranty is limited, and seems inappropriate for this level of lens. When will Sony step up to the plate with a credible warranty, like Nikon (1 year + 4 year extension upon registration = 5 years)? It is one missing piece of the pro puzzle.

Specifications for Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
Focal length: 12-24mm
Aperture range: f/4 - f/22
Focusing range: 11.02 in / 28 cm
Angle of view: 122° - 84°
Number of elements/groups: 17 elements in 13 groups
1 SuperED, 3 ED, 4 aspherical
nano anti-reflection coating
Diaphragm: 7, rounded circular aperture
Magnification: 0.14X = 1:7.1
Filter thread: NONE
Weight, nominal: 1.24 lb / 565g
Weight (as weighed): TBD
Dimensions: Approx. 3.5 x 4.6 in / 88.90 x 116.84 mm
Street price: about $1698
Supplied with: Front Lens Cap ALC-R1EM
Rear Lens Cap Lens Case
Limited 1-Year Warranty

Description

Note clear is whether the integrated lens hood (“built-in lens hood”) is removable or integral to the lens and thus non-removable.

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

Ultra wide and versatile, the FE 12-24mm f/4 G Lens from Sony is a flexible zoom lens for full-frame Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, characterized by its constant f/4 maximum aperture.

Benefitting the wide field of view is a sophisticated optical design that incorporates aspherical and low dispersion glass elements to control both spherical and chromatic aberrations for improved sharpness and clarity. A Nano AR Coating has also been applied to individual elements to reduce surface reflections, flare, and ghosting for greater contrast and color fidelity when working in bright, backlit situations.

In addition to the optical attributes, this lens is also distinguished by a Direct Drive SSM autofocus system, which benefits both stills and video application with its quick, quiet, and precise performance. The lens also sports a dust- and moisture-sealed design to support shooting in inclement conditions and a dedicated focus hold button and AF/MF switch.

  • Ultra wide-angle zoom designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, this lens is also compatible with APS-C models where it provides an 18-36mm equivalent focal length range.
  • Constant f/4 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range.
  • Four aspherical elements are featured in the optical design to control spherical aberrations in order to produce a high degree of sharpness while also limiting distortion.
  • One Super ED and three ED elements are used to suppress chromatic aberrations and color fringing for improved clarity and color accuracy.
  • 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 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.

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Sony’s long-rumored announcement of the the about about $2198 16-35mm f/2.8 GM fills out a hole in the Sony lens line that is important to many pros.

Along with the FE 12-24mm f/4 G and the FE 24-70/2.8 GM and FE 85/1.4 GM and 100/2.8 STF GM and other GM and ZA lenses, I would now say that the Sony lens line is now more attractive than Canon or Nikon for the vast majority of photographers.

Sony has now dealt the last in a series of competitive blows to Canon and Nikon with the completed lens line. The new Sony A9 and a presumed Sony A7R II successor will nail the coffin shut for so many users—there is now little point for considering a DSLR given the Sony camera features and lens line. The long end and specialized niches like tilt/shift means little in this context; the super tele and sports world is a niche market and largely irrelevant to market share and the ability to remain viable and cover R&D expenses—that takes volume and market share, and declining market share is going to make it very tough on CaNikon.

The use of 7 special elements, a fast aperture of f/2.8, and and all-new design for mirrorless holds out great promise for performance.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 2 Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
  • 3 Aspherical and 2 XA Elements
  • Nano AR and Fluorine Coatings
  • Two Direct Drive SSM AF Groups
  • Focus Hold Button, AF/MF Switch
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Eleven-Blade Circular Diaphragm

As per Sony, the lens ticks off all the key boxes, and more:

  • High corner-to-corner resolution — Uncompromised optical design achieves extremely high corner-to-corner resolution and contrast for landscape, architecture, and other expansive subjects.
  • Resolution and bokeh raised to new heights — This lens features two Sony XA (extreme aspherical) elements with 0.01 micron surface precision. Distortion that tends to occur in wide-angle zoom lenses is meticulously controlled, as are astigmatism and field curvature. Unattractive onion-ring bokeh is effectively suppressed by XA (extreme aspherical) elements so that smooth, beautiful bokeh is achieved in out-of-focus areas.
  • Optimum resolution at any focal length — Consistently high resolution is achieved from infinity to the closest focusing distance. This lens employs a floating focus mechanism with two independently driven lens groups. This system helps to reduce all types of aberration to minimum levels and thereby maintain sharp, high-resolution rendering from infinity focus for landscapes, for example, all the way down to close focus for portraits and similar subjects.
  • A perfect balance of resolution and bokeh — An advanced optical design that includes two Sony XA (extreme aspherical) elements achieves outstanding resolution, low distortion, and smooth, beautiful bokeh.
  • Gorgeous background bokeh — Shoot close at F2.8 to capture sharp subjects with dynamic, painterly backgrounds consisting of delightfully smooth bokeh.
  • 11 blades enhance bokeh beauty — Sony's original 11-blade circular aperture contributes to even greater bokeh quality. Design and materials have been revised to maintain a round shape, and strict circularity standards are applied to ensure that the full beauty of the lens's bokeh is achieved without compromise.
  • Light and compact for high mobility — Class-leading size and weight reductions make this 680-gram lens an ideal match for compact E-mount bodies, providing an eminently portable, easily manageable system.
  • Fast, precise autofocus — Two DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) systems employing original Sony piezoelectric motors directly drive two focus groups in a floating focus configuration. The focus groups are positioned with high precision for the highest possible focus accuracy. DDSSM is quiet too, making it ideal for shooting movies as well as stills.
  • Smooth, versatile operation — A focus hold button, manual focus ring, AF/MF switch, and other controls provide versatile fingertip operation. The focus hold button can be customized via a body menu that allows a variety of functions to be assigned to the button to match the user's needs.
  • Fluorine coated front element — The lens's front element features a fluorine coating that helps to prevent fingerprints on the lens and stop dirt from sticking, and makes it easier to wipe away any dirt and fingerprints that do appear on the lens surface.
  • High reliability in harsh conditions — The overall design of this lens is dust and moisture resistant for extra protection and reliable operation in challenging environments. Shoot with confidence in light rain or windy conditions.
Optical design of Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

A 1-year limited is limited, and seems inappropriate for this level of lens. When will Sony step up to the plate with a credible warranty, like Nikon (1 year + 4 year extension upon registration = 5 years)? It is one missing piece of the pro puzzle.

Specifications for Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM 
Focal length: 16-35mm
Aperture range: f/2.8 - f/22
Focusing range: 11.02 in / 28 cm
Angle of view: 107° - 63°
Number of elements/groups: 16 elements in 13 groups
2 ELD Elements, 3 aspherical, 2 XA
Nano AR and Fluorine Coatings
Diaphragm: 11, rounded circular aperture
Magnification: 0.62X = 1:1.6
Filter thread: 82mm
Weight, nominal: 1.5 lb / 680g
Weight (as weighed): TBD
Dimensions: 3.48 x 4.79 in 88.5 x 121.6 mm
Street price: about $2198
Supplied with: ALC-F82S 82mm Front Lens Cap
ALC-R1EM Rear Lens Cap ALC-SH149 Lens Hood
Case
Limited 1-Year Warranty

Description

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

A fast and flexible wide-angle zoom, the FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens from Sony is a wide-angle zoom designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras. Distinguished by its constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, this lens offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range and benefits working in low-light conditions.

The optical design incorporates two extra-low dispersion elements to reduce chromatic aberrations along with two XA elements and three aspherical elements, 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.

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, two Direct Drive SSM AF groups are employed that are quick and quiet, and also lend 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 and AF/MF switch.

  • 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.
  • Wide-angle zoom designed for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, this lens is also compatible with APS-C models where it provides a 24-52.5mm equivalent focal length range.
  • Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture offers consistent performance throughout the zoom range for working in difficult lighting conditions.
  • Two XA (extreme aspherical) elements and three aspherical elements are incorporated into the optical design, which feature superior surface precision for effective control over astigmatism, field curvature, coma, and other spherical aberrations.
  • Two 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.
  • Two Direct Drive SSM (DDSSM) autofocus groups offer quick, quiet, and precise focusing performance that is ideal for both stills and video applications.
  • Dust- and moisture-sealed design better permits working in inclement conditions and rubberized control rings benefit handling in colder temperatures. Additionally, the front element has a fluorine coating to guard against fingerprints and dust from adhering to it.

Nikon Appears to be Doing Focus Shift Compensation, at Least with the Nikon D810 and 70-200/2.8E

Thanks to reader David C for bringing this feature to my attention—compensation for focus shift is rare among cameras and a Very Good Thing, so long as the behavior is understood (it can work against you in some cases).

Apparently Nikon silently slipped in this upgrade a few years ago and made no mention of it. And yet it is a critical behavior that one must understand if focusing manually.

Nikon D810 Autofocus Compensation for Focus Shift

This test with the Nikon D810 suggests that it actively compensates for focus shift by modifying the point of focus to compensate, based on shooting aperture. That is, when conventional AF is used.

I’ll have to confirm this behavior with other lenses; at this point it’s unclear which cameras and lenses support focus shift compensation. Nikon is hiding their light under a bushel for some reason, which is very strange from a marketing standpoint.

Focus shift compensation is a super nice feature when applicable, but there are situations where it can degrade performance, nor not apply—any situation in which the AF system is used to prefocus at one aperture, but the image is exposed at another aperture. It could mean, for example, needing to focus at f/2.8 because of dim light but then shooting stopped down. Or pre-focusing at f/5.6 but then deciding to shoot at f/2.8. And so on. Presumably these are a small minority of cases. For myself, it means that shooting an aperture series is problematic because AF is prone to precision errors, focus shift compensation or not. And focusing in dim light is not feasible stopped down and DoF adds ambiguity as well.

Also, focus shift is not a simplistic behavior: it can be rearwar in the center and forward in the outer zones. Presumably the limited coverage of the focusing sensors in Nikon full-frame DSLRs cover too little of the frame for that to be an issue. Still, such differential behaviors mean that a full understanding of the behavior is essential for optimal results. For massive focus shift, see the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 Aperture Series @ 14mm: Two Aspen. I don’t know if such a lens takes advantage of focus shift compensation.

Finally, focusing in magnified Live View has long compensated for focus shift in this sense: the lens is stopped down to the shooting aperture by default. However, that often leads to serious errors in my own experience.

So I would say this: for conventional shooters (focus and shoot), focus shift compensation is a wonderful feature. For other usage scenarios, one still needs to understand what is happening. In particular, it’s problematic to shoot aperture series my usual way (by focusing wide open) and yet the AF system doesn’t always have enough precision for reliable results. This is the severe headache I ran into with the Fujifilm GFX. A lens without focus shift is always far, far preferable.

Markus H writes:

According to Marianne Oelund, focus shift correction has been added to bodies released in 2014 onwards. This includes for sure the D810, the D500 and the D5. Most likely also the D750 (released in 2014 but after the D810) and the D4s (released in 2014 but before the D810) as well as the 2015 D7200 and 2017 D7500. 

If you don’t know Marianne Oelund, she is an engineer by trade and photographer by passion and when she says something, you’ll know it’s true because she has actually tested it herself. 

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58331791https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58262673
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/58097228

Note that when a new lens gets released, bodies that can correct for focus shift need a firmware update to get the focus shift parameters for that lens to properly correct the focus shift.

DIGLLOYD: how non-Nikon AF lenses with severe focus shift behave is unclear to me.

I used the latest firmware on the D810 in my testing.

Firmware on the Nikon D810 + 70-200/2.8E reads:
C = 1.12
L = 2.015

David C writes:

I have just tested D500 for focus shift compensation with 70-200 2.8 FL. Bad news. It does not seem to compensate for focus shift.

DIGLLOYD: contradicts the claim above vs the D500. I can only speak directly to what I have personally tested and verified: the D810 compensates for focus shift. I should also do more extensive testing with the D810, but this will take time. Also, at dusk I found the AF system unable to cope with dim light, forcing use of f/2.8 in Live View, so there is no compensation viable under those conditions. I would not trust the AF system for critical work that I do in any case, moreover focus shift at distance looks to be not an issue with the 70-200/2.8E.

4TB Internal SSD
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Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR: Focus Shift at Close Range @ 70mm, 130mm, 200mm

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

The about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR looks to be a very fine lens but clearly it has an optical formula that is balanced in a way with some drawbacks, including focus shift.

This page shows focus shift of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR at 200mm at a reproduction ratio of roughly 1:7 (for 200mm). The ratio of 1:7 was chosen because this is a tight head shot distance, thus making that reproduction ratio highly relevant to real world shooting. Sharp eyes are critical in a portrait, hence focus shift is a key performance attribute.

Update: also shows 70mm and 130mm at about a 1:12 reproduction ratio.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon  70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR:

Includes crops presented several ways for ease of viewing, from f/2.8 through f/8.

There is a major contextual consideration as to whether the focus shift matters or not: evidence suggests that some cameras such as the Nikon D810 with the latest firmware in fact modify the autofocus system to compensate for focus shift (when conventional AF is used). I confirmed this myself today that there is a very significant behavioral change that depends on shooting aperture. More on this idea in the link above, and it is a behavior I intend to investigate and document. Thanks to reader David C for bringing this feature to my attention—it is rare among cameras and a Very Good Thing, so long as the behavior is understood (it can work against you in some cases). Apparently Nikon slipped in this upgrade a few years ago and made no mention of it. And yet it is a critical behavior that one must understand if focusing manually.

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LensRentals.com EXTRADAY Deal

LensRentals.com carries a very broad array of cameras and lenses for both still and video.

Not sure if a certain lens is right for you? Rent it first.

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Vulta Volcano Flashlight: From Extremely bright to Firefly Mode, with Red or Blue Also

The about $79.95 Vulta Volcano Multi-Spectrum LED Flashlight (White, Red, Blue) takes 4 AA batteries and runs quite a long time on a set of four. While I tend to use Lupine cycling lights with rechargeable LiIon cells, the Vulta Volcano can get going fresh again with a set of four AA batteries.

  • 1 / 60 / 200 / 500 / 880 Lumen Outputs
  • One Primary White CREE XM-L2 LED Emitter
  • Six Red and Six Blue Secondary LEDs
  • Emergency SOS and Signal Beacon Modes
  • Red/Blue and Red/Blue/White Strobe Modes
  • Dual Body Switches with Last-Mode Memory
  • Type III Hard Anodized Aluminum Housing
  • Submersible and Impact Resistant
  • Reverse-Polarity Protection Circuitry
  • Active and Passive Overheat Protection

The Vulta Volcano flashlight is smart in that it won’t fry the LEDs as some lights will, which greatly shortens LED lifespan: if used on its Turbo Mode (extremely bad-ass bright), it will drop down to High mode after a few minutes. Its twist-on diffuser cap is useful for a broad area of light without the harsh glare of straight-on illumination.

The Vulta Volcano is best for its flexibility. For example, its “firefly mode” is not enough to walk by, but can illuminate a map or back of a camera, etc. As well, the red LED mode saves night vision and could be used as a taillight for a bicycle assuming it could be aimed appropriately. As for blue mode, it’s something I would not generally use (blue is the worst color for night vision), and red/blue flashing mode presumably is for law enforcement, but might be useful to pretend to be, say if in a skanky area where one feels at risk.

The SOS and strobe modes might be a good idea for those in trouble, assuming one has the flashlight along: it’s fairly heavy at 277 grams (including 4 AA batteries and lanyard). And that is the reason I might not take it at times; it is fairly large and heavy. When I hike up in the mountains, I’d prefer something lighter, like the Fenix RC09 and/or Fenix RC11. However, those lights have no red LED mode and they require rechargeable batteries—and they have run themselves down due to poor design of the lockout switch.

All in all I like the Vulta Volcano and I tend to take it with me in trips in the car. The diffuser makes a nice light for night use and/or for inserting contact lenses into my eyes in the dark.

Vulta Volcano Multi-Spectrum LED Flashlight (White, Red, Blue)
USB-C Dock for MacBook

4 USB3 ports, 1 USB-C port, SD card reader, gigabit ethernet, audio ports, HDMK 4K port!

Reader Question: Really Right Stuff Tripod Choice

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

Dan B writes:

From your blog postings and subscription articles it seems that in the recent past you gravitated towards the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L as your go-to tripod for out in the field.

However most recently it seems you are using the Really Right Stuff TVC-34L. Is that because the 34L is better for the heavy pano rig, or perhaps you might prefer the 34L over the 24L when not doing panos but when it is windy?

In your blog article of May 15 you have two tripods in the field - the 34L and the prototype shorty. So, how do you get both tripods into the field - one on each arm? If you were hiking a fair distance with your camera equipment and two tripods did you eat a can of spinach before starting out - Popeye the Hiker Man ? :-)

DIGLLOYD: generally, I eat a can of sardines before or during.

I always carry the tripod in my hand, rarely in my pack (unless it’s a class 4 climb). That’s because I need the space and pockets in the pack for food, water, clothing and camera and lenses, and sometimes other things, like fishing lures. Since it can snow even in August and camera packs have load capability for water or food or clothing, rarely do I have any free pack space, so this is why I hand carry my tripod.

Two tripods is a “car shoot” meaning that I am not far from the car. The “shorty” is small enough by itself that I could probably stow it in the pack or strap it on somehow. But together with its nifty tripod head, it becomes bulky enough to not really be compatible with also carrying a full-size tripod like the TVC-24L on long hikes. Which is a pity. I'll have more experience this summer to prove out what might work because the shorty is tremendously useful for low-to-the-ground work.

For long hikes, it is always the TVC-24L and only that tripod— two tripods and heads on daylong hikes is a chore and there is just no space to do so. The TVC-24L is just under the threshold of what I can comfortably carry with the Arca Swiss Cube mounted. Anything heavier fatigues my hand and arm.

For shorter hikes near the car, I prefer the TVC-34L or the super beefy TVC-44L, the later being just lovely in use if I don’t have to carry it far. So I love working with the TVC-44L, but it’s heavy and half a mile would be my outer limit for carrying it along. The TVC-34L I will carry if there is a compelling reason for its extra mass—rare, but super teles qualify as does using the PG-02 Pano-Gimbal head, which itself is quite beefy. It’s not a question of supporting weight (all sizes do that just fine), it’s more about mass and stability to avoid a top-heavy rig.

Wind affects them all about equally, wind means resonance in the legs and for long lenses it’s a teeter-totter for the lens tripod foot (virtually all of them suck that way), and larger doesn’t generally help for resonance, necessarily, though RRS tends to be slightly better (Gitzo had some reversals when I researched this in detail, e.g., larger was worse).

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod with Arca Swiss Cube vs new shorty TFC-13S model with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
__METADATA__
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Really Right Stuff Panorama and Gimbal Heads, Plus New “Shorty” Tripod

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

I had a chance to visit the Really Right Stuff headquarters in San Luis Obispo back in March where I got a most excellent tour including the huge automated machining systems which turn solid blocks of aluminum feedstock into gorgeous parts ready for anodization. It was informative and I had a good talk with the folks there about their gear, and what I’d like to see as well.

This is a repost with another picture and a bit more detail on the entrance pupil positioning.

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

This is the cat’s meow for making panos. Determine the entrance pupil (“nodal point”) for your camera + lens combo, note the offset on the laser-engraved markings (for future instant setup), and then quickly pan for making multi-shot panos free of parallax. The PG-02 is a heavy duty rig that is rock solid and a joy to use for this type of work (though not something I want to lug on a 10 mile hike!).

Because the base pans and is level, but the camera can be angled any way one wishes, both single-row and multi-row stitched images of any desired aspect ratios are easily done. There are a number of variants of this rig.

Shown below, Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head with B2-LLR-II clamp, with the Fujifilm GFX sporting the Really Right Stuff BX1D-L L-plate clamped into the MPR-CL II rail with integral clamp. The MPR-CL II rail is in turn clamped into the clamp on the head. The Leveling Base TA-3 is essential in order to level the head easily on the Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod.

To properly do stitching (to avoid parallax), the entrance pupil (incorrectly called the “nodal point”) must be centered exactly above the center of rotation. That is why the MPR-CL II is essential; it allows positioning the camera fore/after such that the entrance pupil of the lens sits exactly above the center of rotation. The clamp at bottom allows for the left/right centering.

Critical for entrance pupil positioning front/back (for stitched images) is the Really Right Stuff MPR-CL: MPR with integral clamp and/or the Really Right Stuff MPR CL II. See also all Really Right Stuff pano-gimbal gear.

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head w/ B2-LLR-II clamp,
Fujifilm GFX with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L L-plate, clamped into MPR-CL II rail
__METADATA__

As shown below, it’s not really right because the entrance pupil of the lens should be centered left/right *and* fore/after above the center of rotation, that is, the cross in the center of the base as shown below.

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head w/ B2-LLR-II clamp,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
__METADATA__
Really Right Stuff
PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head

Really Right Stuff PG-01 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

Really Right Stuff
MPR CL

While the PG-02 is heavy duty, the Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head is plenty sturdy for the Hasselblad X1D and certainly any Sony or Fujifilm mirrorless camera as well.

Like its PG-02 sibling, determine the entrance pupil (“nodal point”) for your camera + lens combo, note the offsets on the laser-engraved markings (for future instant setup), and then quickly pan for making multi-shot panos free of parallax.

Not shown here but critical for entrance pupil positioning front/back (for stitched images) is the Really Right Stuff MMPR-CL: MPR with integral clamp.

Here, the PG-01 is mounted on a new specialty 3-section tripod (not yet available), one that is ideally suited for making low and close images; see the next shot. The new offering is every bit as involved as the larger models, so cost will be similar to its larger siblings, but I really enjoyed the smaller form factor.

Shown below with the Hasselblad X1D clamped in place via the Really Right Stuff BX1D-L.

Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
__METADATA__
Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
__METADATA__

New shorty tripod

The new shorty tripod should be called the TFC-13S.

While the Really Right Stuff TFA-01 ULTRA Pocket Pod is superb for ultra-low shots, this new short tripod (model number TBD) is ideal for shots from about 8 inches to 2.5 feet off the ground.

The picture below shows why the new Really Right Stuff “shorty” model is so appealing for some kinds of work. The new shorty tripod is much faster and easier to get into the proper height and position versus a full-size tripod, particularly with the PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head. I just loved the time savings and ease of use! The 3 sections afford a working-height range that seems ideal for many types of shooting at close range, but it could also serve well set up on a table or rock, etc (for additional height). An optional integrated hand strap for carrying in the field was super handy also (and which I’d like to have on my larger tripods).

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod with Arca Swiss Cube vs new shorty TFC-13S model with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
__METADATA__

Leica M9/M9P: Corroded Sensor Repairs

See also Is Leica a Credible Player?. The S system is dead with buyers hung out to dry, and the M system is moribund with few signs of life beyond a form factor improvement (Leica M10), the SL is a non-solution solving no problems. I ponder Leica’s future.

I have mixed feelings about this approach to M9/M9P sensor corrosion.

  • While I do think it is more than fair as warranties go and carries fair warning, an $8K camera should have quite a long warranty period.
  • Leica has gone above and beyond in repairing affected cameras—kudos there.
  • It does not appear to apply to other than the original owner (as to how I read it, I don’t know this for sure)—which devalues the investment of any M9/M9P owner who bought 2nd hand (“only in cases where the cameras have been purchased as new products within the last five years”).
  • As Leica gear goes, the post-August “program” is not all bad as sensor replacement of about US$1000 includes an overhaul. Leica owners as buyers of any high-end luxury good might expect such pricing. Probably the cost barely covers the cost to Leica of the replacement sensor.
  • Why is the owner not offered a trade-in credit against an M10?

Starting in M9 owners will have to pay for something that should last essentially forever should it corrode, just not yet (I see an image sensor as something like a computer CPU which does not wear out).

Emphasis added below.

Leica M9 and M9P in black and silver

Latest information concerning the CCD sensors of the Leica M9 / M9-P / M Monochrom and M-E camera models

Following the successfully implemented and largely completed replacement program for corroded sensors that affected M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E camera models, we would now like to inform you about how this program will be handled in the future.

Until August 15, 2017, we will continue to offer free replacement of sensors for these camera models if they are affected by the corrosion problem. This will also apply after August 16, 2017 for the models listed above, but only in cases where the cameras have been purchased as new products within the last five years.

From August 16, 2017, and until further notice, we will offer our customers the following new program for all camera models mentioned above that were purchased more than five years ago. Here, the customer pays a portion of the replacement costs for the affected CCD sensor amounting to 982 euros (825 euros plus 19% VAT). In addition to this we also offer you a free general overhaul* of your Leica M camera and a one year warranty in line with the same terms as for new products. This offer expresses our commitment to conserving the value of your camera.

We have also revised our upgrade offers with more attractive terms for our customers. Instead of a sensor replacement, we offer our customers the alternative option of sending us their camera affected by sensor corrosion as partial payment for the purchase of selected Leica M camera models of the Typ 240 generation at even more attractive terms. Leica Customer Care will be pleased to inform and advise interested customers about the terms and conditions of the upgrade offer.

With regard to the above, we would like to remind you that the replacement of CCD sensors and the upgrade offers apply only to cameras confirmed to be affected by this problem, and only to the models of the Leica M-System we have listed above. Preventive replacement of sensors is not included in this program.

*The general overhaul of the Leica M-camera includes the following items:
• Cleaning and overhaul of the shutter cocking mechanisms
• Cleaning and maintenance/repair of the multifunction wheel
• Cleaning of the main switch and shutter speed dial
• Adjustment of the baseplate locking system
• Refurbishing of engravings
• Renewal of the protective film on the baseplate
• Maintenance/repair of viewfinder displays

David C writes:

Here is a reasonable warranty:

If you’re not 100% satisfied with any item you purchase from Duluth Trading, return it to us at any time for a refund of its purchase price. Simple, unconditional, no nonsense, NO BULL.

To be sure this is only the original purchaser, but note the conditions, waffles and quibbles: none. Price: around $65 for work pants, not $multi-thousands.

Leica are living in an alternate universe. I wonder where the fanboys (I doubt there are any fangirls, women are too sensible, but no sleight intended) will go when Leica flames out?

DIGLLOYD: that’s not a reasonable warranty, it’s an unreasonable one, as in unreasonably excellent and clear. Companies I recommend include The North Face, for their outstanding warranty, and that’s from personal experience with several products that (ahem) took quite a beating from extended use. But I took them at their word and they delivered, including actually stitching and repairing. REI also has had outstanding refund policy, though I have not checked on it recently. There are other companies of course.

The world’s richest and most profitable company with the crummiest warranty in terms of the value versus the price premium charged: Apple, which charges sky-high premiums for a measly one-year warranty with soldered-on non-serviceable parts for most of its products. And many camera companies (the majority) also have 1 year warranties, including medium format systems from Fujifilm and Hasselblad—I consider that quite poor for that level of gear. So Leica is hardly the worst offender here.

Photoshop ACR Behavior: Uses Wrong Lens Profile

Something to be aware of if you use Photoshop + Adobe Camera Raw dialog to process raw images as I do: using Previous Conversion will use ALL previous settings—including using the wrong lens profile if lens corrections were used, see below.

I rarely use lens corrections, so I have not been bitten by this behavior to date, but twice today I was correcting for vignetting (rare but today I did), and I had to redo an entire series—very annoying and tedious.

I do not know if this is considered a bug or not. But it seems like a very bad idea to not at least warn the user if the EXIF info has for example a Nikon 70-200mm zoom and the lens profile is a Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 (or whatever). The nastiest problem is if the wrong distortion is applied—this will not only warp the image but damage micro contrast by stretching pixels.

Can you see applying, say, a Canon 11-24mm lens correction to a 300mm f/2.8? Insanity. Something ought to be done here by Adobe. The cases where one wants to intentionally apply the wrong lens corrections is rare, so the case where it is a mistake ought to be addressed, at least with a warning.

 
BAD IDEA to use Previous Conversion: can mis-assign a lens profile

Adobe responds to my inquiry:

The behavior you are seeing is expected. The reason is the use of a custom lens profile setting (vignette slider set to 0) in the image made with the Zeiss Milvus lens.

The Previous Conversion command is simply copying all settings (including the custom lens profile setting) to the other image. Two ways to avoid this are not using a custom lens profile settings that should not be applied to images that don't share lens specs, or using the Sync Settings... command in filmstrip mode in the ACR plugin and turning off Lens Profile Corrections in the list of settings.

DIGLLOYD: from what I can tell, the solution is to not make a mistake by not making a mistake. I don’t find this helpful in the least. I translate it as “engineers though this stuff up” therefore it is user error since engineers thought it up that way. I don’t see this illogic as helpful in any way.

I have other complaints that are more general:

  • The entire ACR dialog in Photoshop, it is a mess: it is a modal affair that requires constant back-and-forth between panes.
  • The ACR dialog in Photoshop hides most of the settings most of the time (since only one pane can be seen at a time), thus greatly increasing the likelhihood of making an error.
  • It is a design error (from a photographic perspective) to conflate distortion correction with vignetting correction.
  • It is a design error to separate vignetting (a brightness issue) from exposure.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Calla Lillies

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR

The about $2700 Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR looks to be a very fine lens. I’ll be exploring its capabilities over the next few weeks.

Presented in Advanced DSLR in my review of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR:

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Aperture Series: Cala Lillies (Nikon D810)

Includes images up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

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Fast Aperture Blur (Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2)

As this was written, both the older ZF.2 and ZE versions of the 135/2 APO-Sonnar are available at a deep discount. The optical formula is identical except for one lens element with a slightly improved coating with the Milvus version.

See review of the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar and overview of the new Milvus version in Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2

The Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2* at f/2 has a lot to offer: crisp detail along with a high level of color correction can work very well to make something beautiful come together. The problem with a lens that isn’t sharp wide open is that stopping down for better results means more depth of field which can wreck the balance of sharp vs unsharp.

What I like about the Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar is that it maintains its high resolving power over its entire focusing range and goes to 1:4 for near macro shooting (which is not the case with the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art). This is at about 1:5.5.

Presented in Zeiss DSLR Lenses:

Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 Aperture Series: Cala Lillies (Nikon D810)

Includes images up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

* I am not a fan of Zeiss omitting the lens design family (Sonnar), or the APO designation from the product name. Dumping such a tradition makes no sense to me, but alas, that train has left the station.

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Blazing-fast PCIe storage for Mac Pro Tower

Another 200 Miles: Central Coast Double

I’ll be unresponsive on Friday and Saturday and early Sunday.

Central Coast Double Century, my 5th double century this year.

But no worries, I have a full 7 days to recover for the Davis Double a week later (usually 4-5 days is enough), then a lazy two weeks until the Eastern Sierra Double Century where the snow-capped mountains ought to be lovely this year and the fish nervous.

I don't think I'll be as fast as 2016 and my chances of winning it as I did in 2015 are slim to none, as I’ve been fighting some fatigue problem for several months (allergies and perhaps food reactions). Cutting out all grains (not that I eat much wheat but I do adore Panda licorice now abandonded for the time being), and also peanuts seems to have helped in eliminating the bloating. But the heavy rain this year has every grass and tree and bush pollinating the air heavily.

Update: all done and with no stomach cramps or physical isuses; I felt decent the whole time. That in itself makes it a huge win for me. Being 10 pounds too heavy and not in 2015 or even 2016 shape, the decline in average power from 199 watts (2015 win) to 184 watts to 168 watts (course harder this year, somewhat) is more than a little frustrating but it has been a tough few years so I’m going to be delighted in not feeling nauseated or wanting to vomit or falling asleep on my bike as in the past two doubles—no physical problem this time. I cut out all wheat and peanuts and cut way back on dried fruit* about two weeks ago and this seems to have eliminated the bloating and problems I was having. Food sensitivity has been dogging me for months, though I still don’t have a hard answer on which food(s) are the primary cultprit.

* See Are Grains the Culprit in Health and Weight? Is 'Wheat Belly' a Crackpot Diet? (UPDATED through 29 April). However, on this ride I did consume 100 grams of Panda black licorice which I think worked very well. The whole sensitivity (to what exactly?) remains murky but I won’t be eating bread or wheat products in general this year I think—I want it to stay settled down.

Photo tip: Nacimiento-Fergusson Rd offers some really lovely stream shooting on the east side, and the view the west is spectacular, with many excellent viewpoints. I had no time to admire the view, being much more interested in not crashing the twisty descent, but I stopped for this one photo.

Below, yet another garbage-quality iPhone 7 Plus photo from the 2X camera —hardly acceptable even greatly reduced in size to 2400 pixels. I am hugely disappointed in the 2X camera.

Pacific Ocean from Naciemiento-Fergusson Rd, a few hundred vertical feet summit.
Aid station is near the bridge down below, 2017 route wends its way down, then reverses.
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2017 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
2016 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
2015 Central Coast Double power (watts) and elevation
OWC ThunderBay 4 20TB RAID-4/5
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Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: the Reigning 135mm Makes Short Work of Sigma (at least at 1:5)

Get Sigma DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

As this was written, the ZF.2 and ZE Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar are a whopping $623 off. Save yourself a ton of money with the ZF.2 or ZE version closeout prices on a classic that will never go out of style and never have an AF motor fail or misbehave—because it is good 'old manual focusing helicoid.

This comparison used the ZF.2 version. The Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is optically identical except for one element with a slightly improved lens coating. The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar in any garb is an Otus in everything but name and physical build style.

Close range shooting is often a weakness in many lens designs, which intentionally or not “game” the lab testing system by not performing nearly as well at close range as at distance.

This 2-way comparison at a reproduction ratio of about 1:5 pits the Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar against the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. It assesses sharpness, bokeh, and color correction, also with comments on breathing and focal length. It confirms and complements the results found in the White Flowers shootout using strong red and green tones.

The results are compelling for anyone considering these two lenses. In Guide to Zeiss:

Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar vs Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art: Pink Flowers (Nikon D810)

Includes images up to full resolution, with crops from f/2 through f/11. Also contains a 3-frame focus stack at f/8 with the Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar, which is spectacular in its detail and color on an iMac 5K or better.

Sigma alone

This series is available as a regular aperture series in my review of the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art in diglloyd Advanced DSLR. I also assess the effects of distortion correction at close range:

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Pink Flowers (Nikon D810)

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Distortion, Uncorrected and Corrected at Close Range

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Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series with Focus Stack: Quadrangle at Dusk

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and see my recommended lenses for Nikon and recommended lenses for Canon.
See Sigma DG HSM Art lens reviews in diglloyd Advanced DSLR.

This series puts the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art to the test at dusk on a 3D target with a great deal of fine detail, including stonework and fine-tipped leaves. The lens also had to cope with strong backlighting and maintain good contrast to allow a +100 shadow boost and pulling down of highlights.

A 2-frame focus stack at f/8 is also included in the f/1.8 - f/11 series.

In my review of the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art in Advanced DSLR:

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series with Focus Stack: Quad at Dusk

Includes images up to full resolution, with crops and Adobe Camera Raw processing settings.

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OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Get that gear into a bag

See B&H Photo Mother's day deals and deals on camera bags further below.

Bags I use

The North Face Recon serves me best on my hikes, but recently I starting using the Ruggard Commando Pro 75 DSLR Shoulder Bag as shown below for walkaround local stuff. I would never take it on a mountain hike due to form factor, but I am really liking it for short trips from the car.

It’s fliptop and generous compartments are handy for short walk-around stuff where I want to set the bag down and be able to quickly set down or extra a lens from the nicely padded foam interior. I can also set it down on wet stuff or dirt. The Laptop sleeve fits 15" MacBook Pro (not shown), and that maxes out the height of the bag. The shoulder strap carries it for walkaround. It’s on the large side, but that’s what I like about it.

I’m about ready to give up on the very poor quality of the iPhone 7 Plus 2X camera. This image is barely usable even for web, at least to my standards.

Ruggard Commando Pro 75 DSLR Shoulder Bag with
Nikon D810 + Sigma 135mm f/1.8G DG HSM Art, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E, Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar, Zacuto loupe
Laptop sleeve fits 15" MacBook Pro (not shown)

The Arco Video Dr. Bag 30 is wider and narrower, but a bit less deep but has more pockets and other features for video haul and carry. For my needs, I prefer theRuggard Commando Pro; the Arco is awkward for carrying on a shoulder, though it may be very good for other purposes.

Arco Video Dr. Bag 30
Arco Video Dr. Bag 30

Get that gear into a bag. Bag deals:

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series with Focus Stack: Rodin Burghers of Calais

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and see my recommended lenses for Nikon and recommended lenses for Canon.
See Sigma DG HSM Art lens reviews in diglloyd Advanced DSLR.

This series puts the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art to the test on a portrait in very blue light with specular highlights and reflections.

A 2-frame focus stack at f/9 is also included in the f/1.8 - f/11 series.

In my review of the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art in Advanced DSLR:

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series with Focus Stack: Rodin Burghers of Calais

Includes images up to full resolution, with crops.

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