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Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series and Field Curvature and Focus Shift Analysis: Lingering Snow

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sometimes it takes just the right scene to make plain the actual lens behavior, which can be difficult to analyze on many scenes due to the choice of focus versus 3D structure of the scene versus optical behavior.

This scene extends the field curvature analysis in Hiker at Upper Conness Lake. It proves to be a remarkable demonstration of both field curvature and mid-zone focus shift which should persuade anyone of the near-irrelevance of “quick tests” or lab tests which purport to show lens performance in real world shooting.

Optical designs often must be compromised in some way to balance out competing challenges, particularly with ultra wide lenses. These compromises increase with fast lens speed. This is why I generally frown upon fast wide angle lenses for my work: not only are the compromises generally troublesome, but the lenses become bulky and unwieldy and too heavy.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Lingering Snow

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution from f/1.8 through f/11.

Tenaya Canyon Pool
f1.8 @ 1/5000 sec, ISO 50; 2018-09-11 13:42:38
[location Upper Conness Lake, altitude 10650 ft / 3246 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Comment: Sony Mirrorless for Sports, Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

David S writes:

I am sure some of your subscribers might do some sports so I sent you this note.

I just shot with the Sony A9 and the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS and a 1.4 extender. It was amazingly better then the Canon 1Dx Mark II with a Canon 1.4.

My company had already said the 100-400 and Sony was better then the Canon equivalent.

I noticed two things. The hit rate for the first frame to be sharp in a burst was great and no in the middle frames went out in a burst as they do with Canon.

The 400 was a loaner from Sony but I will be getting the 400 for purchase and will be all Sony for my af work from now on also. I can easily shoot a game with two batteries for my main camera, actually could possibly make it through each body on one battery each provided I turn off the cameras after pregame and during halftime.

DIGLLOYD: experiences like that surely are an existential challenge Canon and Nikon in the area of sports and wildlife photography, as Sony will surely improve upon the Sony A9 soon as well as continue adding native lenses.

Will a Golden Age of Optics Emerge, or Just Another Balkanization?

See my Nikon Z wishlist and Canon EOS R wishlist and Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Very soon there will be three major manufacturers shipping full-frame mirrorless system (and perhaps a 4th consortium early next year).

That’s wonderful for competition, but I’m hoping for something above and beyond each vendor duking it out with the others but still locking photographers into their own proprietary lenses: 3rd-party lens designs suitable for all of these platforms.

The flange focal distance of 16mm for Nikon, 18mm for Sony and 20mm for Canon are all so close that a single optical design can assume a flange focal distance of 20mm, and simply be housed in an appropriate lens body for any of those platforms. There has been an existence proof of this approach for years now: Zeiss Touit for Fujifilm X and Sony APS-C mirrorless.

The costs of a single optical design can thus be spread over three (and possibly four or more) competing platforms, making it more attractive than ever for 3rd-party manufacturers.

Specifically, what I hope to see is all-new designs from Zeiss, Sigma, Voigtlander and others. The big sticking point is that Canon and Nikon surely have patented their lens mounts, so what is technically feasible might not be legally feasible, especially if the lens were to support autofocus and full electronic control.

Surely Sigma will find a way (there seems to be some understanding among Nikon/Canon/Sigma), but I give it 50/50 on whether Zeiss pursues the CaNikon market given the legal barriers. But unless Sigma stops designing lenses by the kilogram, I won’t want what Sigma has to offer.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Upper Conness Lake

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo, and see my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon

It has been a while since I had shot the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 much, but I did so with a variety of ad-hoc images while hiking with my daughter recently. Autofocus is essential for grab shots while hiking steep or boulder-filled terrain.

That said, I got out the tripod for this distant landscape scene , which evaluates sharpness across the field as well as secondary color correction.

Aperture Series: Upper Conness Lake

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

The Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 is a strong performer, but we seem to be entering a golden age of new optical designs, and I for one am eager to see how much better it can get, what with the impressive Hasselblad XCD 21m f/4, a lens that covers medium format. What stellar designs might emerge from Canon and Nikon now that the DSLR mirror box has been abandoned, and from Panasonic full frame going forward?

Sparkling Sun, Rock Creek Lake
f6.3 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-11 15:57:20 [location Upper Conness Lake, altitude 10700 ft / 3261 m]
Sony A7R III + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

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Saddlebag Lake is Drained, Dam Looks to Have Serious Integrity Issue via Meter-Wide Hole

Until I crossed the gangway over the dam enroute to the Hall Natural Area in the Mt Conness drainage, I wondered why Saddlebag Lake had been drawn down to little more than a creek below the base of the dam.

The answer appeared when I crossed: a gaping hole about a meter in diameter. As I understand it, with enough pressure (e.g., full head in springtime) even a much smaller hole could drill a 'pipeline' right under the dam, and possibly cavitate and ultimately undermine the bedrock upon which the dam rests.

Judging by the size of the hole it looks to render the dam inoperable until repaired. I did not investigate below the dam on this day, since I was on a schedule, and wherever that water has been going it could be emerging far below. While the size of the entry hole might be much larger than where water has to squeeze through, when the reservoir is at capacity as in 2017, there must be ~70 feet of head above the hole (more as it deepens)—that’s a lot of pressure against the mostly metamorphic rock underlying the dam. Mix in some gritty sand for scouring and that relatively soft rock might wear away quickly.

It’s ironic that all the new cladding installed on the face of the dam a few years ago is for naught until this breach is fixed. I’m no dam engineer but it doesn’t seem so simple to me to fill in a hole that burrows under a dam. Seems to me that one cannot just pour a concrete slurry down the hold and hope it holds, but that the entire frontal area would need to be scraped to bedrock, and a thick cap of concrete poured over it all.

Meanwhile, most of the trophy trout that I saw swimming around in July in this very place are surely still holed up in the much-reduced lake volume—gotta go fishing this fall! Fish and game regularly releases some monster (as large as 28 inches) into area lakes.

Hole at the base of Saddlebag Lake Dam, at least a meter in diameter
f5.6 @ 1/50 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-11 17:36:10
[location Saddlebag Lake Dam, altitude 10000 ft / 3048 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Saddlebag Lake Dam
f8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 100; 2017-06-25 16:38:01
LEICA M10 + Leica Super-Elmar-M 3.8/18 ASPH

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Patriarch Grove in the White Mountains: Steadily Being Trashed

These tire tracks run right into the core of the Patriarch Grove area.

This was not the only new set of tire tracks I saw on my visit. Clearly a malicious person intended to willfully damage key areas.

A few human lifetimes should repair the scarring.

Illegal and Destructive Tire Tracks in the Heart of Patriarch Grove
f9 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-14 06:50:14
Sony A7R III + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon: its Point Spread Function, and Why a Classic Balanced Optical Performance Might be Just Right

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo, and see my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

I returned to an old classic (meaning 3-4 years now!) on my recent outing with my daughter to Rock Creek in the Eastern Sierra.

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon

This Sparkling Sun on Lake series evaluates sharpness, field curvature, longitudinal chromatic aberration, sunstar behavior and subsuming much of that, the point spread function. It is an excellent demonstration of the totality of a number of optical aberrations, but what dominates is what is often loosely termed sagittal coma flare, which is a misnomer, for it is not really flare caused by internal reflections, but a deviation of the point spread function from a point to a shape like bird’s wings.

Aperture Series: Sparkling Sun on Lake (Evaluating Point Spread Function)

In the above series, the point spread function was demonstrated including how it results in moderate contrast and micro contrast. That moderate contrast combined with the ultra-low distortion of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon combine to offer a pleasing visual effect that has a natural feel that may be well suited to photographic intents where the “feel” of an image is more important than absolute performance.

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon Examples: Portraits, Especially at f/2

It is a pleasure to use the Loxia lenses while hiking; the Sony A7R III with a Zeiss Loxia lens is about the same weigh as a Micro Four Thirds camera, or less and is the closest one can get to the compact of a Leica M camera, but with more resolution and versatility.

Sparkling Sun, Rock Creek Lake
f2 @ 1/5000 sec handheld, ISO 100; 2018-09-15 16:40:33
[location Rock Creek, altitude 10500 ft / 3200 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon

[low-res image for bot]
Tired but content hiker
f2 @ 1/160 sec handheld, ISO 100; 2018-09-15 17:25:47
[location Rock Creek, altitude 10500 ft / 3200 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + ZEISS Loxia 2/35

[low-res image for bot]
USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

Reader Comment: Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 and What About Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 or Zeiss 28mm f/2?

Get Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo, and see my Zeiss DLSR lenses wishlist.

Larry W writes:

I first want to thank you for the Zeiss Milvus 18mm 2.28 zf.2 lens review on your website. I just sold a 36” X 54” image print for a meditation room, really sharp even from 3’ away when the view distance is around 8’. One beautiful lens.

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

I am looking at buying a used Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 lens or a Zeiss 28mm f/2. The lens would be used mostly for landscapes but some for closer up photography but no where near macro. I print anything up to 12 X 18, but do have a shop here in Eugene to print larger if needed. I am wondering even after reading your reviews what one would be preferable. I value your opinion.

DIGLLOYD: IMO, the Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4 is probably the best 24/25mm lens yet made for full-frame cameras, unless the new Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM can do better, but of course that is a mirrorless lens, and we are talking about DSLR lenses here.

Zeiss Lenses for Nikon and Canon— My Top Picks and Field Usage Thoughts

Depth of Field Akin to f/128: an Incredible Near-Far Focus Stack with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

My best-ever three lens trio are the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4, Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4.

If the Zeiss Milvus 25mm f/1.4 is not in the cards for reasons of price/size/weight, then I'd stick with the Zeiss ZF.2 25mm f/2.8. The Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 is also a very fine lens with its own classic look, so you can't go wrong there either.

See also: Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon: a Classic Design having Optical Demerits Yields Beauty and Reader Comment: Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon

Zeiss ZF.2 25mm f/2.8 Distagon Examples In California’s White Mountains

 
Zeiss ZF.2 25mm f/2.8 Distagon and Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon
Four Aspen, Late Dusk
f2 @ 25.0 sec, ISO 100; 2015-10-05 19:01:24
Sony A7R II + Zeiss ZF.2 28mm f/2 Distagon

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Bristlecones and Star Trails, White Mountains
f10 @ 479.0 sec, ISO 200; 2010-11-17 00:15:26
NIKON D3X + Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/25 ZF.2

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Coming Soon: Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM

Get Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM and see my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Thank you for buying through my links starting September 21 at 10 AM EST.

Having just shot extensively with the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and finding it highly desirable, I am looking forward to putting the Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM through its paces just as soon as it arrives.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • Two XA Elements, Three ED Elements
  • Nano AR and Fluorine Coatings
  • Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave AF Motor
  • AF/MF Switch; Internal Focus
  • Focus Hold Button
  • Physical Aperture Ring; De-Click Switch
  • Dust and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Rounded 11-Blade Diaphragm

Sony’s GM lenses are top flight optical performers with the added attractions of a real aperture ring (or control from camera dials), de-click option, focus hold button which can be programmed to activate Eye AF or regular AF, and dust and moisture sealing. No other brand of lenses for Sony can tick off all those desirable features, at least not that I can think of.

It is noteworthy that Sony calls out the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM as the “30th native full-frame mirrorless lens”—surely not an accidently inclusion, and a compelling reminder of how the late-to-the-party Nikon mirrorless and Canon mirrorless systems look to take years to get to half that number of lenses. By the time Nikon and Canon get to 10 native lenses, Sony will probably have 40. If Nikon and Canon are smart, they’ll heartily encourage 3rd-party lenses. I deem lens adapter a crummy solution in most all cases. The Sigma FE DG HSM Art lenses strongly reinforce that thinking even though they are native lenses—top-flight DSLR lens designs adapted to mirrorless are large and heavy and awkward (see Roy P’s comments at end).

As well, Sony surely will have a Sony A7R IV and other sibling out before long, which might well leapfrog the CaNikon offerings right out of the gate. Accordingly, I dislike the idea of buying into either the Canon EOS R system (30 megapixels = no way) or the Nikon Z7 (good but not groundbreaking) at this stage in the game, because both offerings will be outdated in a year (my prediction).

Full description further below.

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM

New Large Aperture Wide-Angle Prime Lens is the most compact and lightest in its class[i] , with superb sharpness even at F1.4

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 20, 2018 – Sony Electronics, Inc. – a global leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer – has today introduced an exciting new addition to their acclaimed G Master series of full-frame E-mount lenses, a 24mm F1.4 prime lens.

Expertly engineered to deliver best in class performance across all aperture settings, the new FE 24mm F1.4 GM (model SEL24F14GM) utilizes Sony’s most advanced optical technologies to satisfy the needs of the most demanding photographers. The new lens is the most compact and lightweight in its class, measuring approx. 3.0 inches x 3.64 inches and weighing only 15.7 ounces, with a filter diameter of 67mm. Built to meet the strict standards of Sony’s flagship G Master series, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM offers exceptionally high resolution and beautiful bokeh, two qualities that are signature attributes of the G Master brand.

“We are continuing to evolve our lens lineup to maximize the power of our innovative α camera lineup, ” said Neal Manowitz, vice president of imaging solutions at Sony Electronics. “The new 24mm prime brings an exciting new perspective to our flagship lens series. With its incredibly lightweight design and signature G Master quality, our 30th native full-frame mirrorless lens opens up a new world of creative opportunities for today’s photographers, videographers and multi-media creators.”

Realizing consistently high resolution across the entire frame, even at F1.4, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM boasts a new optical design comprised of 10 groups with 13 elements, including two XA (extreme aspherical) and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements. The incorporation of two XA elements effectively suppresses sagittal flare[ii] to ensure that point light sources like distant stars can be accurately reproduced, making the FE 24mm F1.4 GM a compelling proposition for astrophotography. For impressive clarity, Sony’s unique Nano AR Coating is applied to reduce lens flare and ghosting, even in landscape shots where the position of the sun can be problematic with a normal lens.

This outstanding performance is packaged in an extremely compact and lightweight body weighing it at only 15.7 ounces, a welcome relief for landscape or adventure photographers that are hiking, climbing or traveling over long distances. This advantage is further compounded when the FE 24mm F1.4 GM is paired with one of Sony’s award winning α7 / α9 cameras. The lightweight lens design has been realized in part by the development of a new high power DDSSM (Direct Drive SSM) that delivers approximately three times greater thrust than the previous focus system, enabling fast response, high positioning accuracy and quiet operation for both stills and movie shooting.

This incredible lens is also a perfect complement to Sony’s APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras such as α6500 and α6300, and brings the total number of native Sony α E-mount lenses to 48[iii].

In addition to its landscape and starscape shooting abilities, the FE 24mm F1.4 GM also has excellent close up performance of 0.24 meters (0.79ft.) and delivers soft and natural bokeh, a feature that is common across Sony’s entire G Master series of lenses. This is achieved by extreme control over factors like spherical aberration, and axial and lateral chromatic aberration, at the design and manufacturing stages, as each lens is individually tested and adjusted to achieve maximum performance.

The FE 24mm F1.4 GM also includes a number of professional controls that aide ease of operation for both stills and movie shooting. These include an aperture ring that allows direct, intuitive aperture control, and a focus ring that features Linear Response MF for fine, responsive manual focus control. There is also a customizable focus hold button, and a focus-mode switch that makes it possible to quickly select auto or manual focus to match changing shooting conditions.

Pricing and Availability

The FE 24mm F1.4 GM will ship in October 2018 for approximately $1,400 US and $1,900 CA. The lens will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.
[i] Compared to other full-frame 24mm F1.4 auto-focus prime lenses. As of September 2018 press release, based on Sony research.
[ii] A phenomenon that results in an unnatural spreading of point light sources that appears somewhat like a bird spreading its wings and becomes more pronounced towards the image periphery. It is most common in large-aperture lenses.
[iii] Including converters, excluding discontinued models.

Roy P writes:

Regarding my statement that “The Sigma FE DG HSM Art lenses strongly reinforce that thinking even though they are native lenses—top-flight DSLR lens designs adapted to mirrorless are large and heavy and awkward”:

Very true, as I can attest to from my personal experience with the E-mount version of the otherwise superb Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art lens. The IQ is terrific, as it was with the Canon version I tried a year ago. But besides weight and awkwardness of use, there is one more issue: autofocusing. These modified DSLR lenses, which are essentially DSLR lenses with built-in adapters, are simply not spiffy enough to use, and that applies to the Sigma 135/1.8 Art as well.

The autofocusing in a Sony lens is optimized for both mirrorless and the Sony sensors. So the Sony lenses fully take advantage of the large number of AF points and the 60 AF measurements that the Sony cameras take, thanks to the integrated DRAM in the stacked CMOS sensors that enable a sensor readout much faster than possible in DSLR sensors. The Sony lenses have a completely new and different AF drive in them.

As good as the Sigma 135/1.8 Art lens is, I’ll be returning it, and waiting for the rumored Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM.

DIGLLOYD: I cannot speak to the autofocusing issue very well, and I though that Sigma had done something to optimize for Sony AF, but I am unsure. At any rate, the balance of DSLR lens designs on Sony is just not good and in the field I felt that I had to constantly walk around supporting the lens; see Sigma DG HSM Art Lenses for Sony Mirrorless: Ergonomic and Other Concerns.

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Need LOTS of Storage up to 72TB? OWC Lauches the Thunderbay 6, a Six-Drive Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure, with RAID Options

Get OWC Thunderbay 6 at MacSales.com

I’ve been using the OWC Thunderbay 4 for many years now (both Thunderbolt 1, 2, 3 versions). It is my all-time favorite drive enclosure, and I currently have five of them.

OWC now introduces the OWC Thunderbay 6, which ought to appeal to anyone with requirements for huge capacity (up to 72TB with current hard drives) and/or reliability (various forms of fault tolerance).

MPG will be testing the OWC Thunderbay 6 in the next few weeks.

More info on Thunderbay 6 at MacSales.com.

OWC Thunderbay 6

Storage Maximizer for Multimedia Workloads

  • Works with 3.5" or 2.5" drives — no adapter needed.
  • Up to 1500MB/s of sustained performanc
  • Supports RAID 0, 1 via OWC's advanced SoftRAID engine
  • Optional ultra-fast M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Daisy chain up to six units together
  • 3 Year OWC Limited Warranty
  • Daisy chain up to six units
  • Rugged, field-tested enclosure.
  • Whisper-quiet fan and non-skid feet.

When it comes to big jobs and tight deadlines, you don't want anything to slow your workflow down. The content you create and edit tends to grow the more you work with it; your equipment needs to keep up. The OWC ThunderBay 6 provides an exceptional level of performance to help you meet the demands of your most complex projects.

OWC Thunderbay 6

Room to Move

Whether you're working with tons of small files or editing and streaming the latest 8K or VR footage, ThunderBay 6 enables you to complete your products faster, giving you more time to create. And with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports and a DisplayPort, integrating it into your workstation has never been easier.

ThunderBay 6 features six bays for hot-swappable hard drives or SSDs — or a combination — all housed in a rugged aluminum enclosure with an integrated power supply. Drives run quietly and are kept cool via a fan that operates quieter than a whisper.

Want even more storage?

To keep your workflow on the cutting edge, we've included an additional slot for an M.2 NVMe SSD to help future-proof your storage needs. NVMe is an incredibly efficient communications interface protocol to properly take advantage of SSD technology and high-performance connection buses. The result is exponentially faster and more efficient SSD storage, ideal for additional storage or a scratch disk.

The better and simpler way to RAID

ThunderBay 6 RAID Ready manages and protects your data with the advanced SoftRAID engine with RAID 0 or 1, depending on whether you need blazing fast performance or robust data protection. SoftRAID is also packed with features from active predictive disk failure monitoring to multiple array volume spanning; SoftRAID from OWC brings technology typically found only in data centers to your workstation or editing bay. It constantly monitors your disks, alerting you when a disk is becoming unreliable and is likely to fail. Replacing a failing disk before it fails saves you precious uptime.

Storage pools

ThunderBay 6, coupled with Windows Storage Spaces (available in Windows 10), allows you to create storage pools and simple, mirror or parity spaces based on the mix of data protection and performance you need. If you run low on capacity, just add more ThunderBay units to the storage pool.

Expand and connect as needed

Link up to six Thunderbolt units together with Thunderbolt's daisy-chaining capabilities. Combined with our SoftRAID technology, you can configure a storage solution tailored to your unique workflow. SoftRAID can create volumes that span multiple arrays or generate a nested RAID configuration for even greater performance and protection. As a member of the OWC external storage line, ThunderBay 6 eliminates bottlenecks in accessing, transferring or archiving your work. Use it with your Thunderbolt 3 equipped Mac or Windows PC to take your workflow to the next level.

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From the seamless aluminum enclosure and slip-resistant feet to the multi-hour drive "burn-in" performance certification procedure ThunderBay 6 is designed and built to the highest standards or reliability and performance. This ensures your ThunderBay 6 arrives operating properly, ready for demanding use.

Certified, Tested and Backed by OWC

From the seamless aluminum enclosure and slip-resistant feet to the multi-hour drive "burn-in" performance certification procedure ThunderBay 6 is designed and built to the highest standards or reliability and performance. This ensures your ThunderBay 6 arrives operating properly, ready for demanding use.

Quality You Can Trust

Our commitment doesn't end there. Along with our OWC Limited Warranty, you can rely on OWC's award-winning, 24/7, U.S.-based support for your ThunderBay 6.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Tenaya Canyon Pool

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sigma has adapted its outstanding Sigma DG HSM Art lens line to Sony mirrorless by extending the rear of the lens barrel. Since it was designed for a DSLR, the optical design is ray angle friendly for digital sensors.

This scene is an excellent illustration of how a less than optimal choice of focus along with some field curvature can conspire to hamper the depth of field zone versus the subject matter.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Tenaya Canyon Pool

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution.

Tenaya Canyon Pool
f9 @ 1/50 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-08 17:09:40
[location Tenaya Canyon, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening]
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

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Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM Aperture Series: Small Pine in Dana Meadow

Get Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at B&H Photo, and see my Sony wish list.

This comparison evaluates sharpness across the field, secondary color, and bokeh using a subject with uniformity across the field and a substantial near-to-far depth.

What caught my eye here was the simplicity of the scene and how it captures a common sight in this area quite elegantly: an old and struggling small pine tree trying to make it. But also it’s an excellent setup for judging optical prowess: sharpness, secondary color, potential focus shift.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM Aperture Series: Small Pine in Dana Meadow

Includes images from f/1.4 through f/11 up to full camera resolution.

Small Pine in Dana Meadow
f2.8 @ 0.3 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-10 19:21:18
[location Dana Meadow, altitude 9930 ft / 3027 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

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OWC ThunderBay 4 Thunderbolt 3
Configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Capacities up to 48 Terabytes!

Sigma FE 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Ducks in Dana Meadow Pond at Dusk

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sigma has adapted its outstanding Sigma DG HSM Art lens line to Sony mirrorless by extending the rear of the lens barrel. Since it was designed for a DSLR, the optical design is ray angle friendly for digital sensors.

This distance scene evaluates the Sigma FE 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art for across-the-frame sharpness, penetrating power in flat light and shadows, and secondary color.

Sigma FE 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Ducks in Dana Meadow Pond at Dusk

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution.

Ducks in Dana Meadow Pond at Dusk
f5.6 @ 0.3 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-10 19:14:24
Sony A7R III + 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art 018

[low-res image for bot]
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Compared: Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM vs Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4: Portraits at Tenaya Pool

Get Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM and Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 at B&H Photo, and see my Sony wish list.

This comparison pits the autofocus Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM against the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar. Rather than compare the autofocus Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar to the Sony, I opted for the Loxia, because in my experience it outperforms the Zeiss Batis 85/1.8 at wider apertures.

Discussion included bokeh/blur and general rendering, as well as the practical demands of this kind of shooting and how the results matter, regardless of cause.

Compared: Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM vs Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4: Portraits at Tenaya Pool

Includes images from wide open through f/5.6 for both lenses.

f2.8 @ 1/100 sec, ISO 50; 2018-09-08 16:54:20
Sony A7R III + Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

[low-res image for bot]
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Water-Polished Granite

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sigma has adapted its outstanding Sigma DG HSM Art lens line to Sony mirrorless by extending the rear of the lens barrel. Since it was designed for a DSLR, the optical design is ray angle friendly for digital sensors.

This 3D scene tests how well the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art delivers at close-range; many lenses decline in performance at close range.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Water-Polished Granite

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution.

Water-Polished Granite
f6.3 @ 0.5 sec, ISO 50; 2018-09-08 17:16:52
[location Tenaya Canyon, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

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Thunderbolt 3 Dock
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Back from Eastern Sierra

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

I am back from a 7-day trip to the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains. My daughter was along and as a result I shot some images with portraits as well as my usual fare. I am pleased to know that although she is 33 years younger, I can still out-hike her, so I’m not quite a geezer just yet.

I shot a lot of material, a good deal of which I’ll be publishing: Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM, Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art.

I concluded two things while shooting my Sony A7R III on this trip: (1) manual focus lenses suck when grab shots or people images are wanted, particularly when the photographer or subject is moving, and (2) large and heavy lenses totally suck for this kind of hiking compared to Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis lenses. The last day at Rock Creek over Morgan Pass to the Morgan Lakes, I lightened my load by about 12 pounds (tripod and lenses), and my lower back thanked me by not bothering me at all, whereas it had nagged me all the prior days—too heavy a load in a pack without good support for the back.

While iPhone image quality ranges from total crap (the 2X camera is frequently garbage) to quite good (panoramas), there is just no beating the iPhone for grab shots with one outstretched hand while walking (or while the other person is), and iPhone panoramas are (usually) of high quality and minimal effort. Still, iPhone still images are sadly lacking in many ways—heavily compressed with mangled detail in so many cases, including the shot below.

We had glorious weather for the first half of the day: cool temperatures for the time of year, with puffy white cumulus clouds racing across the sky, urged along by a brisk cold front.

The aspen are already starting to turn at the the 10,000 foot elevation level—fall color looks like it will be earlier this year. There was an early frost near Tioga Pass just a few days ago, with frost remaining in shaded areas even at 9 AM, so some colder days have already started, though most nights it did not freeze, even sleeping up at 11,600' elevation.

Crossing over Morgan Pass towards Morgan Lakes
f1.8 @ 1/19000 sec handheld, ISO 25; 2018-09-15 09:57:10
[location Morgan Pass, altitude 11110 ft / 3386 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Hiker at Upper Conness Lake

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sigma has adapted its outstanding Sigma DG HSM Art lens line to Sony mirrorless by extending the rear of the lens barrel. Since it was designed for a DSLR, the optical design is ray angle friendly for digital sensors.

This near-to-far scene is an informative demonstration of field curvature and depth of field with the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. It should be helpful for photographers looking to capture maximum sharpness, that is, by understanding focus placement and taking into account field curvature.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Hiker at Upper Conness Lake

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution.

f4.5 @ 1/400 sec, ISO 50; 2018-09-11 12:55:25
[location Upper Conness Lake, altitude 10700 ft / 3261 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected]
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

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Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Ancient Downed Pine Tree, Dana Meadow

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

Sigma has adapted its outstanding Sigma DG HSM Art lens line to Sony mirrorless by extending the rear of the lens barrel. Since it was designed for a DSLR, the optical design is ray angle friendly for digital sensors.

This medium range highly detailed scene puts the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art (for Sony mirrorless) to the test in blue mountain shade, thus testing both its secondary color correction as well as its resolving power in unfavorable spectral balance (blue light). Field curvature and vignetting and real depth of field behavior are also evaluated.

Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Ancient Downed Pine Tree, Dana Meadow

Images at sizes up to full camera resolution.

f6.3 @ 1/10 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-10 18:36:03
[location Dana Meadow, altitude 9980 ft / 3042 m, lateral chromatic aberration corrected, "focus part way into branches"]
Sony A7R III + Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

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Sigma DG HSM Art Lenses for Sony Mirrorless: Ergonomic and Other Concerns

Get Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo as well as Sony A7R III and see my Sony wish list.

See also: Implications of Flange Focal Distance for Adapting Sony Mirrorless Lenses for the Canon Mirrorless RF-Mount and Nikon Mirrorless Z-Mount.

While the Sigma DG HSM Art lenses are outstanding, they are already large and heavy on a DSLR. On Sony mirrorless, they are even more awkward, because the rear lens barrel must be extended by 28.5mm to compensate for the DLSR mirror box gap.

    Sony E: 18mm
   Nikon F: 46.5mm
= 28.5mm extension required

This 28.5mm extension creates a torque arm(basic lever principle) that in my view raises the risk of damaging the lens mount sooner or later when used as I’d like to use a lens—hiking and such. Recent mountain hiking with several Sigma DG HSM Art lenses for Sony does not allay my fears; I constantly hold the lens to support it.

But even without this concern, the extension creates an unbalanced awkward feel. Functional yes, elegant no.

Below, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E-mount can be seen with its 28.5mm extension versus the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Nikon/Canon. This creates an increased lever arm torque which could damage the lens mount from impact, how much is unclear. It also has the effect of pushing nearly all of the weight of the lens well away from tyhe camera body, making for an unbalanced feel to camera plus lens.

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Sony E-mount
Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Nikon F-mount

Gary J writes:

Read your article with interest. Surprisingly little discussion of above problem elsewhere.

Bought Sigma 105 Art lens for Canon mount. Only camera that felt balanced with the 105 Art lens was the Canon 1DX2. However, had no OS or IS. Had problems handholding combo steady enough.

Just got the Sigma 105 Art lens for Sony E mount. Had the very problem you described. extension must result in additional torque and possible damage to A9. Supporting combo by holding lens. IBIS is helping greatly for better shots.

DIGLLOYD: I haven’t proven that it is a problem, but I can say this: as far as I’m concerned, it’s not viable to keep these lenses mounted on the A7R III while hiking as I do, at least not without carefully supporting the lens, which gets old.

While I did a lot of field shooting with the Sigma FE 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, I was constantly supporting the lens as I hiked. That’s unacceptable for general use, and sometimes I need my hands, which means I then have to stop and stow it. That much mass and length is also unwieldy and I am certain that I would bang the lens into something before long. While the optical quality is outstanding, I just cannot see dealing with ergonomic factors. While Zeiss Otus lenses are large and heavy, they at least are matched to a larger camera body, and the weight is not pushed away from the camera so much.

The Sigma FE 135m f/1.4 DG HSM Art is even heavier, and even on a tripod it feels strained—I would never mount the camera to the tripod while sporting a 70-200/2.8 zoom, and the Sigma 135/1.4 feels like the same issue.

Soaring Eagle Cloud

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo and see my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Rare for me at least—I see this type of lenticular cloud about once for every 30 days I’ve been in the Sierra. This particular cloud changed by the second into fascinating shapes, then disappeared.

I’m off shooting in Yosemite and the White Mountains.

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar is ideal for this type of shot: superb contrast control and sharpness.

Soaring Eagle
f8 @ 1/5000 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-12 08:46:01
Sony A7R III + Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

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Brian P writes:

That is such a cool shot.

DIGLLOYD: I was thrilled to see this shape, which lasted perhaps 10 seconds; the cloud was writhing.

My Work Machine Still the 2017 iMac 5K

See my Macs wish list.

And it’s right here on my desk in my van at 11,600' as I write this on it.

I’ve been using the Apple 2017 iMac 5K since last fall and it has worked really well for me, my only wish being that I run out of CPU cores often enough that 6 or 8 would serve me better. Besides that, fantastic.

My recommendation is the 2017 iMac 5K 8GB / 2TB with 32GB or 64GB of OWC memory (the 2TB is important to me, 1TB is too small for my particular needs). A good alternative for those for which 32GB is sufficient (most users) is the 32GB /1TB model, now $200 off.

OWC ThunderBay 4 Thunderbolt 3
Configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Capacities up to 48 Terabytes!

Compared: Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 to Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2: View from Dana Lakes to Mt Conness

Get Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo and see my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This two-way comparison pits the manual focus Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 against the autofocus Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon. The two lenses have quite different behavior and one is certainly my favorite for landscape and anything static.

Evaluated here are sharpness across the field (particularly at f/2.8 through f/5.6), field curvature, and (oddly enough!) field of view.

Compared: Zeiss Loxia 25/2.4 vs Zeiss Batis 25/2: View from Dana Lakes to Mt Conness

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

View from Dana Lakes to Mt Conness
f8 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2018-09-09 13:19:53
[location Dana Lakes, altitude 11100 ft / 3383 m, polarizer=Zeiss, lateral chromatic aberration corrected, "crystal-clear day"]
Sony A7R III + Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Distagon

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Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2
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