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Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Examples: Monitor Pass Area

Get Zeiss Otus at B&H Photo. See also my Zeiss DSLR lenses wish list.

I hadn’t shot the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar for a while, and I caught some images at sunset and dusk a few days ago that reminded me just how good it is.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar Examples: Monitor Pass Area (Nikon D850)

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

With all the excellent new Sigma and Canon lenses, and while manual focus is a real limitation for some shooting, I still find that nothing beat the Otus 85 in total imaging quality.

Last Orange Light of Sunset with approaching storm clouds, Monitor Pass Area
f8 @ 1/13 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-12 19:23:13
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 ZF.2

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Carson River Valley sunset, approaching storm clouds
f5.6 @ 1/25 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-12 19:20:36 [panorama 3 frames]
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 ZF.2

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Reader Comment: Automated Focus Stacking

Get Sony A7R III and Zeiss Batis and Sigma DG HSM Art at B&H Photo and see my Sony mirrorless wish list.

I like writing this kind of post. Thanks for subscribing if you like reading them, because this kind of thing displaces work for my publications to the extent it takes time.

Subscriber Brian K writes:

I find it hard to imagine that a software algorithm can ever replace a photographer to create “art”, but it might be possible to automate some elements of image capture to make it easier to record an “optimal” starting file which you then process according to your vision.

No clue if this particular product will prove useful. The concept of an inexpensive product that can automatically focus stack a subject is appealing to me, but the devil is in the details. How good of a job can it do and how much control do you have over the process?

The other things the software purports to do are less interesting to me. The auto-HDR might be useful, depending on how good of a job it does and the quality of the resulting files. But it isn’t that hard to shoot different exposures of a high dynamic range subject and then retain control over how they are merged in post. The long-exposure function is useless to me as I would rather capture it “right” using ND filters with a single capture at the appropriately long exposure.

...

Focus stacking is a huge hole at the moment in photography (though to be fair it has never been an option in the past). It’s important for many types of photos (macro, landscape, etc.) but there currently isn’t an “optimal" solution available. Yes there are ways to do it currently, but I don’t think any of them are ideal by any stretch.

My practical ideal would be for a camera to be able to automatically and rapidly take pics of a given scene with the foreground, midground, and background in focus. Perhaps with photographer input as to near and far focus points for the series. Also with photographer input as to how much to vary focus between shots related to the total number of shots to take. Also being able to set the overall aperture for the series. Relying on the camera to do the work based on focus at the sensor level to create an appropriate series of DNG files that quickly capture the specified focus range.

Then importing the series into LR or PS with a specific module available to process the images in the stack. Not having to rely on the quirkiness/availability/compatibility of Sony/Nikon/Canon software or third-party software for processing of the image stacks.

Having it all “in camera” or reliant on camera maker software seems like a potential problem—as the pixel shift ability of the Sony A7R3 made evident. While pixel shift has theoretical applications, it’s actual use is limited by factors at capture (i.e. the time it takes to capture all the pixel shift images) and also processing in post (i.e. reliance on horrible Sony software).

DIGLLOYD: as to pixel shift on Sony, it has been a disappointment (a science fair project in its effectiveness with various issues that I did not see with the Pentax K-1 (I have the Pentax K-1 Mark II coming sometime soon). See my pixel shift series in my review of the Sony A7R III.

The Nikon D850 automates focus stacking superbly well (but only for autofocus lenses). See my focus stacking examples in my review of the Nikon D850.

I shoot it in RAW with the focus stepping feature. I never use JPEG. It seems crazy to expend all the effort on stacking (post processing) and to start with inferior images where white balance and exposure and so on cannot be adjusted well—that’s nuts.zz

See my focus stacking section in Making Sharp Images as well as pages with focus stacking interest. For the D850 settings and such, see Nikon D850 'Focus Shift shooting' feature for Easy Focus Stacking.

Photoshop focus stacking is poor at best. Forget about it. Use Zerene Stacker or Helicon Focus.

As for the settings: yes focus on the closest point, and the camera does the rest; set it to take enough images to get to infinity, otherwise it can keep right on going and take 4 or 5 frame so more *past* infinity. The hang of it comes pretty quickly with experience. For example, an 18mm lens with a scene focused 1/2 meter out usually can be done in 3 frames at f/11. But when going to 105mm, you'd need 30 and maybe 50 frames at that distance (from 1/2 meter to infinity). The camera figures it out, which is a beautiful thing.

The optimum number of images depends heavily on the near-to-far range, the focal length, the aperture. Figure on f/8 or f/11 or a lot of headaches (e.g. movement that needs to be retouched if there is any wind, thus making every frame different in movable areas).

     
Nikon D850 Focus shift shooting: top menu, Focus shift shooting Menu, Focus Step Width
Faces in the Trees
f9 @ 8.0 sec, ISO 31; 2017-10-23 18:20:34 [focus stack 28 frames]
NIKON D850 + Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED

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Three Big Rainbow Trout
f8 @ 1/4 sec, ISO 31; 2017-10-24 19:35:06 [focus stack 13 frames]
NIKON D850 + 60.0 mm f/2.8

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And I Thought Gophers and Squirrels Were Bad

Dang, that’s a big “gopher”. Gophers have been the bane of my yard for 25 years.

I once pondered whether beaver should be removed as beaver too are an invasive species, but I have mixed feelings there, as they have some benefits and are not even in the same category of destruction. Nutria need to be exterminated as quickly as possible in California.

Discovery of invasive nutria in California

California’s Invaders: Nutria

But the Nutria (Myocastor coypus) is a serious threat to humans in several ways as well as to the environment in general.

Nutria cause various kinds of damage through burrowing, intense herbivory, and carrying pathogens and parasites. Nutria do not construct dens, they burrow, frequently causing water-retention or flood control levees to breech, weakening structural foundations, and eroding banks. They can consume up to 25% of their body weight in above- and below-ground vegetation each day, but they waste and destroy up to 10 times as much, causing extensive damage to the native plant community and soil structure, as well as significant losses to nearby agricultural crops.

The loss of plant cover and soil organic matter (roots, rhizomes, tubers) results in severe erosion of soils, in some cases destroying marshlands and leaving behind open water. The destructive feeding habits of nutria threaten populations of rare, threatened, or endangered species that rely on critical wetland habitats.

Nutria also serve as hosts for tuberculosis and septicemia, which are threats to humans, livestock, and pets. Additionally, nutria carry tapeworms, a nematode that causes a rash known as “nutria itch”, and nutria carry blood and liver flukes, which can contaminate swimming areas and drinking water supplies.

...

CDFW has deployed nutria survey teams from the Delta through the San Joaquin Valley. CDFW needs written access permissions to enter or cross private properties for the purposes of conducting nutria surveys and, where detected, implementing trapping efforts. Landowners and tenants, we need your help; so CDFW can survey for and remove destructive nutria from your properties, complete and submit the Nutria Project Temporary Entry Permit.

See Mark’s comment further below. There appears to be no particular reason to be concerned about disease vectors as compared to plenty of other animals.

Adult Mail Nutria
Adult Mail Nutria

Mark C, wildlife biologist, writes:

Regarding nutria: while I agree they are potentially a very serious problem (mainly from agricultural damage and burrowing), and they should be eliminated from California as fast as we can (if possible), there’s no need to get one’s knickers too much into a knot over disease issues:

Sounds scary but the same is true for most native mammals (possibly other than the ‘nutria itch’ parasite, which sounds fairly host-specific). For example, cows used to be an important vector for tuberculosis (one of the many reasons most milk is pasteurized). Anything that bites you — dogs, cats, humans, whatever — may potentially cause septicemia. So can simple scratches from inanimate objects. So can infection by other routes. Most (all?) wild mammals can carry tapeworms (most of which, most of the time, don’t cause major problems). Blood and liver flukes are also common in wild and domestic animals (e.g, in deer, goats, sheep: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascioloides_magna, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasciolosis). Raccoons carry a nematode that is often lethal if it infects humans (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baylisascaris_procyonis ).

Common-sense standard hygiene measures will prevent almost all such infections: don’t eat undercooked wild game (especially if it hasn’t been deep-frozen first), don’t get bitten or scratched (avoid unnecessary contact), wash hands thoroughly after any contact (or wear protective gloves), boil water collected from ‘wild’ sources before consumption, etc.

Interestingly, trematodes (‘flukes’) always have a mollusk as an intermediate host — usually a snail, often in freshwater. There may be several intermediate hosts before the parasite reaches the ‘final’ host, but as far as I know, all have to ‘use’ a mollusk as part of their life cycle.

You may have seen this Oatmeal cartoon: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/captain_higginshttp://theoatmeal.com/comics/captain_higgins

DIGLLOYD: I guess I got lucky all those years of skinning the squirrels I shot. But that rabbit with the huge fluke or whatever it was made it the last rabbit I ever (didn’t eat).

That oatmeal cartoon is indeed hilarious. Seems like a great way to educate and laugh at the same time.

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Three Sigma for Sony 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Closed Flower Seedheads, Yellow Flower, Crooked Pine

Get the about $569 Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro at B&H Photo. See also my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This macro evaluation from f/2.8 through f/13 establishes is primarily about color saturation and bokeh, but it also shows sharpness:

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Closed Flower Seedheads

This macro evaluation at about 1:5 from f/2.8 through f/6.3 is primarily about color saturation and bokeh, but it also shows sharpness:

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Yellow Flower Against Green

This non-macro medium range scene evaluates sharpness and bokeh at a distance of about 1 meter to 10 meters:

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Crooked Pine Amid Blue Daisies, Morning Shaft of Sun

Includes images at sizes up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13.

I’m tempted to buy the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro, it’s that good.

Available for Sony mirrorless *and* Canon SLR:

Yellow Flower Against Green
f6.3 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 1600; 2018-07-10 06:48:05
Sony A7R III + 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art 018

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Crooked Pine Amid Blue Daisies, Morning Shaft of Sun
f6.3 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2018-07-10 07:52:30
Sony A7R III + 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art 018

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Closed flower seedheads, mid-Spring at 10000' elevation
f2.8 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2018-07-10 07:42:39
Sony A7R III + 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art 018

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Sigma for Sony 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Southern Ridge of Mt Conness

Get the about $569 Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro at B&H Photo. See also my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This far-field lens evaluation from f/2.8 through f/11 establishes just how good the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro can be for general photography—superb—many macro lenses decline in sharpness at far distance.

Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro Aperture Series: Southern Ridge of Mt Conness

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

I’m tempted to buy the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro, it’s that good.

Closed flower seedheads, mid-Spring at 10000' elevation
f4 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 100; 2018-07-10 08:11:54
Sony A7R III + 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art 018

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Apple Updates the MacBook Pro to a Real Pro Machine

I’m traveling but will have a lot to say on the 2018 MacBook Pro. B&H Photo will be loaning me my recommended configuration of the 2018 MacBook Pro for me to thoroughly test.

For more on the new Apple MacBook Pro, bookmark my blog at MacPerformanceGuide.com. I occassionally cross-post like this, but I prefer to keep the computer stuffer at MPG. See also the articles and reviews pages over at MPG.

Below is my recommended configuration. A 1TB SSD is OK if it works for you, and a 4TB SSD is fantastic and preferred, but very pricey.

For the first time ever, the MacBook Pro really looks like a pro machine. The key factors are the 6-core CPU, the 32GB memory option, P3 gamut display, and 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports. I wish I could pay to remove the touchbar, but we cannot have everything.

  • 2.9 GHz Intel Core i9 Six-Core
  • 32GB of 2400 MHz RAM
  • 2TB SSD
  • 15.4" 2880 x 1800 Retina Display with P3 color gamut
  • AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU (4GB GGDR5)
  • True Tone Technology
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 5.0 Touch Bar
  • Touch ID Sensor
  • 4 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) Ports
  • Force Touch Trackpad
  • macOS High Sierra

Negatives:

  • The TrueTone display sounds like a disaster for those working with images where accurate color is needed. It will need to be turned off.
  • The Apple T2 chip will create booting and recovery headaches just as with the iMac Pro. That said, encryption of the SSD without any speed penalty is something well worth having for a travel machine.
  • The keyboard and touchbar irritated many pro users including me. These seem to remain, and will make the usage experience less than ideal.

Recommended configurations below. Be sure that 512GB is enough if you go with an SSD that small—it is not upgradeable. My work demands nothing less than a 2TB SSD, so even 1TB is problematic. It can be a very expensive mistake to buy too small an SSD (buy another one to fix the problem, a huge cost).

Do not buy a MacBook Pro with only 8GB of memory unless it is only for casual use. The memory is soldered on, and 8GB is nowhere near enough for many tasks. It is sufficient for email and web and so on—casual simple uses.

While a 13-inch display is too small for my taste, the smaller size may appeal to some.

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Mt Conness Green Meadow, Dusk

Get Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo. See also my Canon wish list and Nikon wish list and Zeiss lenses for DSLRs wish list.

This in-depth analysis evaluates far-field lens performance from f/1.4 through f/9 in mountain shade (dusk). Best possible wide-open performance is shown unequivocally since peak focus can be viewed where it cuts through the grass, thus also allowing an evaluation of field curvature.

Stopped-down performance from f/2 through f/9 provides insight into the peak resolving power capabilities of the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art as well as how much real depth of field gains with stopping down. It also speaks to focus shift.

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Aperture Series: Mt Conness Green Meadow, Dusk

Includes images at sizes up to full camera resolution as well as crops, all from f/1.4 through f/9.

I like shooting the Sigma 105/1.4 a lot, but hiking with it is less pleasant!

Green alpine meadow at about 10,000' / 3048 meters, dusk
f4.5 @ 1/20 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-09 18:56:38
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Proto Machines LED8 Full-Color LED Light for Light Painting at Night, and Similar

Get the Proto Machines LED8 and Proto Machines Radium at ProtoMachines.com.

The Proto Machines LED8 is a full-color handheld LED light with top-grade engineering. Running off batteries and offering a infinite array of color choices (including white light), it can be used for speciality lighting of many kinds, but is particularly fun to use at night, where imagination is the limit.

Build quality and design is impressive—this is pro-grade gear that I’d love to have in my bag. The trigger-operated on/off for light emission works great and in my view is much superior to other alternatives; this fits in the hand neatly and easily slips into a large pocket, so it is very convenient for outdoor use.

Read more:

Proto Machines LED8 Full Color LED Light, Painting at Night with Light

Lloyd’s Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van @ Saddlebag Road overlook
f11 @ 377.0 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-11 21:56:05
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 ZF.2

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Lloyd’s Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van @ Saddlebag Road overlook
f2.8 @ 328.0 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-11 22:31:07
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Otus 1.4/28 ZF.2

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USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Substantial Color Shift Going from f/1.4 to Other Apertures

Get Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Zeiss Otus B&H Photo. See also my Canon wish list and Nikon wish list and Zeiss lenses for DSLRs wish list.

How timely for subscriber Chris R to write (in general) about the color rendition of lenses. In this case, the color changes with the same lens wide open versus stopped down—one need not compare to another!

I had wondered why I had to give the portrait examples such individual attention; the color seemed to vary a lot. As it turns out, the lens itself was responsible, with f/1.4 having a very different color rendition (on the Nikon D850) than at other apertures.

...

Below, toggle to compare. Why does the f/2 frame have a sickly yellow-green color as compared to the f/1.4 frame? I explore the behavior in meticulous detail.

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Color Shift with Stopping Down, SpyderCHECKR Card

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Color Shift with Stopping Down, Field Examples

The above pages are essential, practical and useful reading for anyone shooting the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, as well as other lenses. Exact figures for how to compensate in Photoshop/ACR are given for two examples and there are other field examples also.

This is not the first lens / first time I have seen such color/tint changes stopped down from full aperture. An open question is whether sensors other than the one used in the Nikon D850 will exhibit the same or less or more of this color/tint shift. As an aside, it also raises the issue of how MTF is tested, namely the spectral weighting.

The color difference below is obvious, at least to those with discriminating color vision. Toggle to compare.

Scene at f/1.4 and f/2 (toggle), processed with identical raw conversion settings
f1.4 @ 1/1600 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-09 17:33:28
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Reader Comment: Zeiss Batis or Sigma Art FE?

Get Sony A7R III and Zeiss Batis and Sigma DG HSM Art at B&H Photo and see my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Subscriber Terrence M writes:

For travel portraits would you recommend the Zeiss Batis or Sigma Art E-mount version on the Sony A7R111, any clear advantage in one line over the other?

DIGLLOYD: that’s an easy one. For travel, no way would I want to carry the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art—it is very large and heavy by comparison, awkwardly so on the too-small Sony A7R III (speaking in terms of my likes and dislikes). The fact that the Sigma 85/1.4A takes 86mm filters versus the 67mm filters of the 475-gram Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4 Sonnar should give some hint.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Reader Comment: Sony Mirrorless Focusing in Low Light

Get Sony A7R III B&H Photo and see my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Subscriber Gary J writes:

Reading your blog post today about Nikon/Sigma 105 art. As you know Sony Eye AF is truly amazing. Wasn't too interested in Sony eye AF when buying Sony A9 and Sony 100-400 for wildlife.

My wife and I have travelled to over 100 countries and visiting endless museums so we are used to the dim, poor light often found compounded by a ban on flash photography.

Yesterday we visited the Getty Villa museum in Malibu. The museum as you know as many statues and busts. Even there the lighting has some of above mentioned problems making it often difficult to focus even with the Canon 5D4 + 100 mm macro L lens.

With the Sony a7R III/Sony 90 mm macro those problems disappeared largely. Amazing clarity and detailed! I am sold. Great travel combo.

DIGLLOYD: Canon and Nikon, are you listening? Aside from size/weight, it is also my experience that Sony autofocus in many types of low light does a faster and better job.

The 4-way controller on the Sony A7R III is a big plus over the Sony A7R II when Eye AF is not in use; it allows rapid selection of the focusing point.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2017 iMac/ MacBook Pro
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Reader Question: Color Rendition of Lenses

Get Canon 85mm f/1.4L and Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art and Zeiss Otus B&H Photo. See also my Canon wish list and Nikon wish list and Zeiss lenses for DSLRs wish list.

See Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Substantial Color Shift Going from f/1.4 to f/2 and Beyond for detailed evaluation of how color balance and tint from f/1.4 to f/2.

UPDATE: oops, Chris R was referring to the selfie aperture series. As it turns out, I used the wrong tint for that series (+8M); it should have been +2M according to my recent evaluation of the Sigma 105/1.4 color rendition. For accurate color be sure to shoot a SpyderCHECKR card for each lens and camera—don’t assume anything about the color rendition.

Subscriber Chris R writes:

I’m really enjoying your testing as usual and very interested in the new Canon 85mm 1.4L that you have just posted, I have seen other online tests where they have put it up against a few of the current 85mm lenses such as the Sigma Art, Tamron VC 1.8 and the good old Mr Otus, and yet they often pass over the colour rendering of lenses which is as important as their classic chart tests! Which are as much use really as a chocolate fire guard in the real world.

After seeing their results and after using a Canon 50mm f1.2L for many years, I noticed that the colour from the Canon lenses tends to have a slight pink/magenta balance, you can see this in comparison especially against the Zeiss lenses mainly and I can see the slight pinkish colour in your self portrait skin tones from those comparison images in your review here.

But I wonder if you got chance to run a few comparison shots of the Otus 85 alongside the 85mm 1.4L just purely to compare the colour, we all know about the sharpness but so many tests/reviews forget to cover the colour and rendering fully as you do. Also as you are probably aware, I think Canon were aiming the new 85mm at mainly event, portrait and wedding photographers, but your review is the most thorough iv’e seen so far.

I’m really interested and enjoying the images you’ve produced with the new Sigma 105mm 1.4 Art lens, I shoot mainly lifestyle and commercial work and I was really interested in seeing what this lens can do, especially the out of focus rendering, but i’m curious, as with the Sigma 135mm Art lens they tend to be slightly contrasty in comparison to say the Milvus 135mm and 85mm Otus, so again, I was wondering, could you possibly run off a few shots with your Otus against the 105mm Sigma mainly to show the difference in colour rendering and tonal quality, if your’e all done testing then fair enough.

Daughter: skin tones are
naturally pink/magenta
(not a lens issue)

DIGLLOYD: I agree absolutely that lenses have different color rendering, and that has been a weak spot in my testing, point taken and something I will address in the future. As to the Canon 85/1.4L IS, I do not own/have the Otus 85 on hand in Canon mount, so it was not something I could easily check (I do have the Nikon mount Otus 85, but I’m not going to stress the lens mount with an adapter).

As another example of color rendering, older Nikkors tend to be significantly more blue than newer ones with the more sophisticated coatings. The challenge of applying lens coatings to highly curved surfaces can result in off-center color shifts particularly with wide angle lenses, a challenge addressed with some of the lenses in the Milvus lineup versus the prior versions.

Ray angle

There are also ray angle issues (yes, even with a DSLR): the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM is distinctly more magenta in color at f/1.4 than at f/2, a behavior I’ve seen in quite a few other fast lenses, and unavoidable on a digital sensor. It has to do with ray angle and off-center vs central rays striking the digital sensor. So the question of lens color actually applies even to a single lens, at different apertures. It is for this reason that one cannot just assume a correct color balance for all apertures during raw conversion! I had to work hard for the portraits for to get it right for that and also the mixed lighting—and at some point it becomes subjective.

Secondary color

Then there is the question of correction for secondary color, which itself can impart a significant greenish cast to background out of focus areas, and magenta cast to OOF foreground areas (which is why a gray card must always be shot in focus and never even a little out of focus). A lens with outstanding correction for secondary color will appear to have substantially better color rendering. Because it does, in practice since there is almost always out of focus stuff for normal and telephoto lenses. But this is really about correction for secondary color and thus distinctively separate and apart from color rendition for in-focus subject matter—yet the two cannot really be separated. This is one major reason why I hugely prefer lenses with outstanding correction for secondary color. The Zeiss Otus is one such line, as are most of the Sigma DG HSM Art lenses. Sigma does an absolutely amazing job in regards to correcting for secondary color—far superior to Leica, for example, even when Leica calls a lens “APO”.

Raw conversion

The new “Adobe Color” camera profile requires +0M for the same conversion for which “Adobe Standard” requires +8M. When evaluating lens color, such factors can easily overwhelm any difference in lens color. This is why I prefer to shoot my own Macbeth color checker card.

Skin tones

One must not assume skin tones from past experience/familiarity. For example, due to a medical condition, my daughter (below) actually does have skin color which often goes distinctively reddish/magenta. I’ve heard this comment before (“slight pinkish colour in your self portrait skin tones”) for this same daughter, and it is a (quite understandable) error in assessing the skin tones. It’s the skin, not the lens or camera or raw conversion.

Lighting

In the portrait below from Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Portraits, the lighting is mixed: warm frontal lighting reflected off a grassy slope but also with some extra green in it from trees in that area, plus surrounding green foliage, plus blue overhead skylight (see the bluish hair at top!). I did my best to find a pleasing balance. Assessing lens color rendition under such conditions is inappropriately error prone.

Daughter
f1.4 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 800; 2018-07-04 18:00:53
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Really Right Stuff “Shorty” Tripod

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

The Really Right Stuff TFC-13S [wrong part number, mine might be a prototype from last year] came in very handy this morning for shooting macro work at low height with the Sony A7R III and Sigma FE 70mm f/2.8 macro.

TVC-32G MK2 VERSA SERIES 3 GROUND TRIPOD

TVC-42G VERSA SERIES 4 GROUND TRIPOD

TFC-14 MK2 / TQC-14 MK2 TRIPODS (taller, up to 4 feet high)

All tripods including shorty ones

While the Really Right Stuff TFA-01 ULTRA Pocket Pod is superb for ultra-low shots, this new short tripod TFC-13S 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 TFC-13S with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 25; 2018-07-10 08:10:34
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Really Right Stuff TFC-13S with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head with Sony A7R III + Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 32; 2018-07-10 08:08:52
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Gary J writes:

Great tool. I use the Canon 6D2 with a fully tilting LCD for low lying macro shots (flowers). Much appreciated by my aging back. It is full frame with 26 mp.

The tripod you featured is just what I need.

DIGLLOYD: yep, it’s much better for lower level shots.

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Attention Allergy/Asthma Sufferers: Extreme Pollen Levels in Eastern Sierra Nevada / Yosemite at 8500 Ft on up to 10,600' and Higher

I posted on pine pollen last week... the pollen is far worse this week (I am in the eastern Yosemite area). The pines at 10,000' on up are going gangbusters—whack a branch and a cloud of pollen puffs off it.

I shot a lot of images yesterday, but I had to wear a P100 (similar to N100) face mask all day long for my hike. The air is way better in downtown Los Angeles, at least if you are allergic. I can’t ventilate my van except minimally because it will suck in gobs of pollen and I start sneezing. Can’t roll down the windows, or I immediately start sneezing. So I run the A/C which filters out the pollen, and keep the windows closed.

I’m working on a bunch of stuff for publication (Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art on Nikon, Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8 Distagon and others on Nikon, Sigma FE 70mm f/2.8 macro for Sony), but I need a day or two to prep and prepare the material I shot.

...

3M Particular Respirator 8233, N100

The pine pollen is severe in the Eastern Sierra up to 10,700' feet elevation (and it blows higher and lower, which blows).

Take an N100 / P100*face mask if you suffer from pine pollen allergies.

* P100 same as N100 except that it traps oil particles as well.

Heavy coating of pine pollen on windshield
f1.8 @ 1/1600 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-10 16:04:44
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Pine Pollen blown to one side of Saddlebag lake
f8 @ 1/200 sec handheld, ISO 64; 2018-07-09 10:22:21
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Pine Pollen in swirls, blown to one side of icing-out lake
f9 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-09 14:19:43
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Milvus 2.8/15 ZF.2

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Murky cloud of pine pollen blown to one side of lake
f8 @ 1/160 sec handheld, ISO 64; 2018-07-09 16:33:02
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Mt Conness eastern drainage looking to Greenstone Lake and Saddlebag Lake
f1.8 @ 1/5300 sec handheld, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 16:25:55 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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2018 snow is greater than I had expected , with much melting and running water even July 10
f2.8 @ 1/1000 sec handheld, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 23:20:09 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 6.6 mm f/2.8

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Time for a lunch break at a high alpine lake
f1.8 @ 1/7400 sec, ISO 25; 2018-07-09 13:17:26
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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One of many approach routes to Mt Conness summit ridge
f1.8 @ 1/6400 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 16:16:39 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Glaciated area in Mt Conness basin, looking north
f1.8 @ 1/4400 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 16:23:24 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Mt Conness basin (east), one possible summit ridge approach at left
f1.8 @ 1/6000 sec, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 16:18:33 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Lloyd by high alpine lake, temporarily without face mask (features mangled by iPhone panorama stitching)
f1.8 @ 1/5700 sec handheld, ISO 20; 2018-07-09 12:42:59 [panorama]
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

[low-res image for bot]
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Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Assessed for Focus Shift: Wooden Surface of Picnic Table

Get Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Canon, Nikon, Sony mirrorless at B&H Photo.

This page assesses the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for focus shift at a distance of approximately 1.5 meters.

One might think that a “small” amount of focus shift is acceptable. But it is not—I think I at first unfairly blamed the Nikon D850 for focusing errors in the f/4 and f/5.6 images. It might well be a factor, but the dominant error seems to be the zone of sharp focus being too deep, e.g., centered inside the eyeball instead of centered on the iris of the eye. This series explores that theory, with definitive results/

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art: Assessing Focus Shift @ ~1.5m: Picnic Table Wooden Surface

The interesting 'twist' here is that Sony mirrorless cameras focus at the shooting aperture*, thus eliminating focus shift as a consideration. That, combined with the near-perfect hit rate of Sony Eye AF (see Autofocus Configuration for Sony A7R II and Siblings: Buttons and Eye AF) should prove interesting when the Sony-mount version arrives.

* This might have changed with a firmware update, and it might depend on variables such as the scene brightness—some research needed to see the current behavior in dim or bright light, and it might also depend on lens brand (Sony, Zeiss, Sigma, etc).

f4 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 64; 2018-07-04 18:16:24
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Portraits (UPDATED with examples now published)

Get Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for Canon, Nikon, Sony mirrorless at B&H Photo.

The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art debuted in July 2018, and is available for Nikon, Canon, Sigma SA, and Sony mirrorless for about $1599. It offers very high lens speed at the 105mm focal length while claiming outstanding performance.

I have the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 in Nikon mount now, I’ll be reviewing it in diglloyd Advanced DSLR; later when the Sony version arrives I might give it a go on Sony.

DSLR vs Eye AF

I speak to this in my examples: how well did I do with the Nikon D850 autofocus?

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

I really missed the Eye AF feature of the Sony A7R II / III; DSLRs are clearly inferior for portraits once one gets accustomed to a near-perfect hit rate of Sony Eye AF. Moreover, DSLR autofocus tends to focus on eyelashes, particularly so for women with mascara—so the iris of the eye goes soft at full aperture. Sony Eye AF does not have that problem, which I deem a superlative advantage of Sony mirrorless.

I like the way that Sigma has designed the lens in terms of performance at wider apertures. It certainly sets a new high-grade standard at 105mm.

Examples

Update: I struggled a bit with color rendition in these examples. It seemed like each one needed its own tweaks; I hand-tuned each one. As it turns out, a few days later I found the cause: the Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art itself yields a significantly different white balance and tint at f/1.4 versus the other apertures.

Presented with image sizes up to full camera resolution:

Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Examples: Portraits

With extensive commentary on the challenges of shooting portraits.

f1.4 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 800; 2018-07-04 18:00:53
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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f2 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 200; 2018-07-04 17:57:37
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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f2 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 200; 2018-07-04 17:57:31
NIKON D850 + Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art

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Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Reader Comment: Canon 135mm f/4L TS-E, Canon Tilt/Shift Lenses

Get Canon 135mm f/4L at B&H Photo.

The Canon 135mm f/4L TS-E is a stunning performer. Even fully shifted 12mm along the long axis it is very sharp wide open at f/4. I rate it the highest performing tilt/shift lens I have ever tested.

Ben G writes:

Hope this finds you well and full recovery from your recent concussion continues progressing well.

While not a current subscriber I’m still a regular reader of your blog. I do have an interest in the 85mm f/1.4 Canon, I even own one myself. It’s a great lens, while it’s definitely not up to Otus levels, with the weakness in secondary axial CA, it’s proven itself a fantastic tool, deployable in so many situations. I know not of great concern to you but the AF is very accurate too, best I’ve seen in an f1.4 lens.

Canon 135mm f/4L TS-E

I suspect the lack of interest may be a function of your readership being heavily dominant in the Nikon system and likely increasingly MF. Your work and findings are highly technical and get into the nitty gritty of things. There’s still an overwhelming negativity towards Canon on the web due to the old Dynamic Range issue, in itself poorly understood but good click bait. From my experience a much bigger issue on the web than the real world when good exposure techniques are deployed. It would be a very interesting post to see a break down of your readership by camera system / manufactures.

I shoot architecture and am finding my contemporaries here in the UK are massively biased toward Canon. This for the simple reason of the 17 & 24mm TSE lenses that invariably are the workhorse tools of the trade. (Nikon do a great 19 but their 24 is useless). The newer Canon 50, 90 and 135 TS-E lenses are only going to compound this bias. From my recent conversations a lot of these photographers also seem to keep a very low web profile and don’t tend to subscribe to photo related stuff, perhaps their free time is very specifically turned away from photography. When I discuss sites like yours I increasingly find myself in a minority. I also worry this is yet more evidence of the general dumbing down of society as they are less and less interested in the details of products, how things work etc. Acceptance rather than analysis seems to prevail in the minds of too many these days.

It’s sad to hear of such a lack of interest in a great set of products but I can’t help feeling that the same from Sony, Zeiss, or just a Mirrorless focused product would have generated an order of magnitude more interest! More buzz than the humble DSLR.

Anyway I digress and ramble on! Keep up the good work, I for one hope to hear of more Canon gear being reviewed on your site, it’s been a long while since you last covered Canon.

DIGLLOYD: the Canon 85mm f/1.4L IS is a terrific lens but until and unless Canon comes up with Eye AF that can compete with Sony Eye AF, shooting hit rate is just not going to be as good. Once one experiences the near perfect hit rate of Eye AF, it’s hard to go back. Still, I really enjoyed the 85/1.4L IS and it’s a lens I’d gladly shoot on Canon.

I like Canon ergonomics, but the dynamic range issue remains a thorny one with the Canon 5Ds R (introduced in June of 2015), even when using ETTR technique perfectly.

Landscape photographers should take a good look at the Canon TS-E lenses. They don’t apply in all situations or even most, but in some cases they can make a huge difference.

As to my concussion I’ve recovered in most respects, but working more than 4 hours continuously or 6-7 hours a day remains a strain; it tires my brain out somehow. The field work on the 135/4L and 85/1.4L over 4 days took me down for two days with a PCS event I’ll not go into here. It’s a source of increasing financial stress (business is slow and I don’t have the stamina to do more than I am doing, working for oneself is nice but there is no fallback game). On the plus side, my body is all fixed up and physically I am well so long as I don’t fry my brain by over using it, such as during The Terrible Two.

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Reader Question on Vignetting for Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

Get Zeiss Loxia at B&H Photo.

The Zeiss Loxia line is at the top of my list for Sony mirrorless. My favorites are the 25/2.4 (all time favorite lens for Sony mirrorless), 21/2.8 (fantastic), 85/2.4 (very nice but I use it less), and 35/2 (older design, but still very nice rendering and performance, stopped down), in that order.

Subscriber John M writes:

I just bought a Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 and did an aperture series with it from my balcony on an A7Rii. At f2 and f2.8 I noticed quite a bit of vignetting so I checked your posts. I notice the same thing in your series (in title). However, do you remember if you used a polarizer? I mention this because after f5.6 I notice vignetting creeping back in especially on the top right.

I just bought a Loxia 50mm and did an aperture series with it from my balcony on an A7R II. At f/2 and f/2.8 I noticed quite a bit of vignetting so I checked your posts. I notice the same thing in your series.

However, do you remember if you used a polarizer? I mention this because after f5.6 I notice vignetting creeping back in especially on the top right. I am trying to figure out whether mine is within spec.

[response, later]

No I am not showing vignetting in the top right of my series. It appeared to me that, as you stopped down in your series, your image appeared to vignetting a bit after 5.6 and I have seen that kind of lop-sided vignetting with polarizers. At any rate the vignetting in my lens is even in all four corners and disappears by f4. I have concluded that this must be normal behavior for this lens since, when I apply lens corrections for this lens in Lightroom, the image is evenly exposed for all apertures.

DIGLLOYD: That series of mine is a bit tricky since the earth shadow is rising, and the sky really is darker at top right, the area directly opposite the sun being brighter, the “opposition effect” being part of the reason. The aperture series John M refers to is this one:

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises (Sony A7R)

No polarizer used that I can recall (I use one rarely). Since it is mostly away from the sun, polarization would be minimal and the sky is already darker at 90° to the sun (upper right corner).

Though I own the rest of the Loxia lineup, I don't own the 50/2 Loxia, so I cannot check it now on the A7R III.

There are some digital sensor ray angle issues involved, the 50/2 being a rangefinder design in origin. The 50mm focal length (at least a rangefinder design) is not really long enough to avoid all effects.

Also, natural vignetting remains for all lenses and that together with the ray angle issues do have an effect. The Loxia 50mm f/2 has a central ray angle of 20° which is reasonably good for digital, but consider that the Zeiss 15/2.8 Distagon for DSLRs has a ray angle of 11°—far better for digital, and most of its sibling lenses fall under 20°.

See also: Ray Angle, Color Shift, Sharpness and Table of Ray Angles for Zeiss ZM Lenses in Guide to Mirrorless.

Bristlecone, Earth Shadow Rises
f13 @ 1/6 sec, ISO 80; 2014-10-29 17:50:41
Sony A7R + Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar

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

OWC Mercury Helios FX Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Graphics Cards

Want a notebook for travel, but looking for more power when docked at home/work? Add a PCIe graphics card in an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. This might appeal to video producers in particular. And as I understand it, more than one external unit can be attached simultaneously.

OWC / MacSales.com (highly recommended) has introduced the about $300 OWC Mercury Helios FX Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Graphics Cards.

  • Software Requirements: macOS 10.13.4 or later1 Windows 10 (64-bit, version 1709) or later. (For non-GPU PCIe cards, 10.12.6 or later is required).
  • Hardware Requirements: Any eGPU-compatible Thunderbolt 3 Mac or PC (Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 Macs do not support external graphics).
  • PCIe Card Support: Any driverless PCIe card or PCIe card with a Thunderbolt-aware driver. (All cards which require a driver must have a Thunderbolt-aware driver (Mac and Windows))
  • Transfer Rate (Max): Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
  • Expansion Slots: (1) PCIe 3.0 (x4)
  • Power: Internal UL-listed universal auto-switching, Supplies 550 W.
  • Environmental: Ambient Temperature Operating: 32°F to 95°F (0°C to 35°C).
  • Dimensions: Height: 20.0 cm (7.9 in) Length: 34.0 cm (13.4 in) Width: 18.5 cm (7.3 in).
  • Weight: 3.22 kg (7.10 lbs)
OWC Mercury Helios FX Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Graphics Cards

The eGPU chassis built to empower

Add the power of a high-performance GPU to your Mac and PC via Thunderbolt 3. Whether you're bringing a creative vision to life, crunching research data, playing the latest hardware-punishing game, or connecting additional displays — the OWC Mercury Helios FX is built to empower everything you do.

The Power to Do More

Achieve smoother frame rates, encode faster, edit in greater resolutions, add displays, utilize VR and AR, elevate gaming performance, or take advantage of the complex data crunching GPUs excel at. You'll have plenty of options with support for most Thunderbolt-compatible AMD Radeon™ and NVIDIA® GeForce®, TITAN, and Quadro® GPUs.

  • Connect a GPU via Thunderbolt 3
  • Mac and Windows PC compatible
  • Elevate gaming performance
  • Utilize multiple displays
  • GPU power + notebook charging
  • Thunderbolt cable included
  • 3 Year OWC Limited Warranty
OWC Mercury Helios FX Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Graphics Cards

Transformative Notebook Performance

Change the way you think of notebooks. Utilize the greater portability and flexibility of lighter laptops while taking advantage of easy-to-upgrade desktop-class GPUs. With an OWC Mercury Helios FX in your arsenal, performance is plug-and-play, and upgrades are easy.

Multi-Platform Flexibility

The OWC Mercury Helios FX provides an exhilarating performance boost to both Macs and Windows PCs featuring a Thunderbolt 3 interface. Whether in a single-platform environment or a mixed-platform environment, the OWC Mercury Helios FX can easily be moved between computers to enhance workflows wherever it is needed most.

Powerful, Cool, and Quiet

The OWC Mercury Helios FX is built to handle the most power-hungry GPUs and simultaneously charge your notebook. It stays cool with a whisper-quiet, temperature-controlled fan, making it perfect for noise-sensitive environments.

Beyond GPUs

It's easy to quickly swap out cards as needed with the OWC Mercury Helios FX. In addition to GPUs, it has the cooling, room, and power to support virtually any Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card — including popular RED ROCKET and AVID Pro Tools | HDX PCIe cards.

World-Class OWC Support

Should the need ever arise, our award-winning support team is ready to patiently answer any questions you may have about your OWC Mercury Helios FX.

Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

OWC Express 4M2: 4-Slot M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure

See also my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

OWC / MacSales.com (highly recommended) has introduced the Express 4M2, a 4-slot Thunderbolt 3 enclosure that takes up to four M.2 NVMe SSD blades.

  • Software Requirements: macOS 10.12 or later (SSDs using 512b sector sizes require macOS 10.13 or later), or Windows 10 or later
  • Hardware Requirements: Mac or PC featuring Thunderbolt 3 interface or Mac or PC with Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 interface (Host computers with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port require the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter)
  • Interface (Chipset): (1) Thunderbolt 3 (Alpine Ridge DSL6540) (2) USB-C and Power Delivery (Texas Instruments TPS65983) (1) DisplayPort.
  • Max Transfer Rate: 40 Gbps (5000 MB/sec).
  • Display Support: 4K @ 60 Hz.
  • Drives Supported: (4) M.2 NVMe or (4) M.2 AHCl (PCle only).
  • LED: Yes (Power and Activity)
  • Housing Material: Aluminum, black
  • Certifications: CE, FCC
  • Power Supply: Internal UL-listed universal auto-switching, AC input: 100 ~ 240V, 50/60Hz, DC output: 12V, 7.5A.
  • Environmental: Ambient Temperature Operating: 32°F to 104°F (0°C to 40°C) Non-Operating: -4°F to 158°F (−20°C to 70°C).
  • Dimensions: Height: 6.0 cm (2.4 in) Length: 11.3 cm (4.4 in) Width: 13.6 cm (5.4 in)
  • Weight 800.0 g (1.76 lbs)

NOTE: while the appeal of M.2 NVMe blades is high and very appropriate for many use cases, Lloyd would personally prefer the all-in-one pro-grade OWC Thunderblade 4, excepting the price, for the following reasons:

  • DIY kits are unlikely to be as trusty as something custom engineered.
  • Warranty and service and quality control for pro audience that must not have failures (eg video producers) = likely more reliable product vs DIY with unknown blades which might nor might not always work well
  • 3 year warranty vs 1 year warranty
  • If there is a failure, it is one device warranted as a unit. If one blade fails in a DIY rig, it pretty much means buying another blade, because warrant of the blade will take unacceptably long time. taking your RAID out? And you bought the blades somewhere else? Probably 4-6 weeks downtime likely, so you buy a new blade, if you can find a matching one. -
  • Silent/fanless, yet engineered for proper heat dissipation.
  • Compactness.
OWC Express 4M2: 4-Slot M.2 NVMe SSD

Infinitely configurable. Infinitely reconfigurable.

You like to explore your own independent path, and digital storage is where you have fun, push hard and spark the imagination. You explore, you refine, and when ready, you share your vision with the world. The OWC Express 4M2 is the external drive built for the journey before you and the path yet to be explored.

Customize your Express 4M2 with up to four NVMe SSDs, RAID them however you wish and connect it all with Thunderbolt 3 — the fastest and most flexible interface around. The sheer performance of the Express 4M2 helps you meet deadlines faster, giving you more time to explore your creativity and push your projects further.

Pint-Sized Powerhouse

Small in stature. Big on capability. The OWC Express 4M2 is ready to serve with four easy-to-access M.2 NVMe SSD slots customizable for any workflow with vibration damping feet that allow for vertical or horizontal orientation. Install up to 8TB of capacity and experience up to 2800MB/s of mind-bending performance via Thunderbolt 3. The Express 4M2 is an amazingly small digital workhorse with world-renowned OWC quality and award-winning support built in. Ingest and duplicate dailies at breakneck speeds, work with higher resolutions, smoothly scrub through demanding timelines, and plow through thousands of photos with ease. The OWC Express 4M2 is one seriously fast drive to have by your side to take your digital capabilities to a new level.

  • Up to 8TB
  • Up to 2800MB/s
  • Four M.2 NVMe SSD bays
  • Compact design
  • Advanced SoftRAID engine
  • Thunderbolt Certified for Mac and Windows
  • Thunderbolt 3 cable
  • 1 Year OWC Limited Warranty

Built Smaller and Faster from Input by Pros Like You

The OWC Express 4M2 is designed with superior ease-of-use in mind. We worked with award-winning creatives and listened to the kudos they heaped onto the OWC ThunderBay mini, and we put all that shared knowledge to good use when we set out to build the next-gen Thunderbolt 3 multi-bay drive. The result is the 57% smaller and 2.5x faster OWC Express 4M2. It's smaller and easier to fit into your workflow, studio and on stage. It's faster with four easy-access M.2 slots so you can swap, upgrade or expand your Express 4M2 to configure and reconfigure it to serve any project need.

Game-Changing NVMe SSD Performance

NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) is a hyper-efficient communications interface protocol built from the ground up to properly take advantage of SSD technology and high-performance connection buses like PCIe. The result is exponentially faster and efficient SSD storage, and the OWC Express 4M2 has room for four NVMe SSDs.

DisplayPort

Display connection flexibility is yours with a convenient DisplayPort located right on the rear of the OWC Express 4M2. There's no need to worry about adapters or extra long cables. Just plug your display directly into the Express 4M2 and you're all set.

Multi-Drive

The OWC Express 4M2 comes equipped with OWC SoftRAID which provides the amazing capability to RAID across multiple drive enclosures. You can also add more Express 4M2 drives to your storage pool using Windows Storage Spaces. Configure and reconfigure your storage however you need by combining multiple OWC Express 4M2 drives together on Mac and Windows.

SoftRAID: Conventional Wisdom Turned on its Head

It's often thought that hardware RAID is better than software RAID, but we've proven that not to be true. We've combined the performance and capacity of the OWC Express 4M2 with our robust SoftRAID engine. Experience breathtaking performance, multi-enclosure capability, advanced drive monitoring, e-notifications and downloadable updates. Once you do, you'll see how hardware RAID doesn't even come close.

The Better and Simpler Way to RAID

We created SoftRAID to make it easier to maintain mission-critical workflows to save you time and money. With SoftRAID you no longer need to be locked into expensive hardware RAID technology that's not upgradeable or expandable. SoftRAID future-proofs your data and storage with software updates that provide cutting edge capabilities and robust stability. SoftRAID takes advantage of your computer's processor versus the slow processors found in most hardware RAID enclosures. The result is a fast and flexible RAID array with no discernible impact to your favorite apps. SoftRAID drive certification tells you whether or not a drive is up to the task before creating a RAID array. Advanced monitoring tools work behind the scenes to keep your RAID running in tip-top shape. SoftRAID protects your data by alerting you to issues before anything happens, ensuring you're protected when you're on a critical deadline. SoftRAID rebuilds your RAID in a fraction of the time it would take a hardware RAID to complete the same task, sparing you from significant downtime when you're ready to upgrade or replace a drive.

RAID and Storage Spaces

The OWC Express 4M2 comes with SoftRAID Lite XT ready to be set up in RAID 0 performance or RAID 1 mirrored drive mode. So you can customize your Express 4M2 for speed or data redundancy. If you need more options, you can easily upgrade to add extra capabilities and RAID modes to meet any workflow demand. The OWC Express 4M2 fully supports Windows workflows as well. Using Windows Storage Spaces you can pool the four M.2 NVMe SSDs together with support for all the Storage Spaces configuration options including the ability to add another OWC Express 4M2 to expand your storage pool on the fly.

Connect to Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 Systems with Ease

The OWC Express 4M2 is fully backward compatible with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2. Utilize Thunderbolt 3 performance to work at full speed, and step back to Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 whenever connectivity compatibility is needed for your workflow. Add a Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter along with the appropriate Thunderbolt cable, and you're all set.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Cable

OWC Express 4M2 comes with an OWC Thunderbolt 3 cable which is Thunderbolt certified for Mac and Windows, with additional 0.5 meter to 2.0 meter lengths available separately.

Quality You Can Trust

Like all OWC drives, the OWC Express 4M2 is built to the highest standards of reliability and performance and Thunderbolt Certified for Mac and Windows. Because 100% reliability is always the goal, Express 4M2 is rigorously quality tested and backed by our one-year limited warranty plus award-winning, 24/7 customer support.

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OWC July 4 Specials

See also my top deals lists and also deals of the day and various wishlists for cameras and computers. Or, search for deals by category or search for deals by brand, filter by percent savings and search. All updated daily, bookmark these pages!

OWC / MacSales.com (highly recommended) has a number of July 4 deals. Select deals shown below.

Build your own (custom configure) most of these Macs, many factory sealed also (view all):

Terrific Thunderbolt 3 storage:

Some items below have extra goodies—click through to view.

Just some of the OWC July 4 Savings

 

 

Attention Allergy/Asthma Sufferers: Horrible Pollen Levels in Eastern Sierra Nevada

The pine pollen is severe in the Eastern Sierra from about 7000 to 10000 feet elevation. Take an N100 face mask if you suffer from pine pollen allergies. I’ll post a short video when home, showing the clouds of the stuff coming off a pine tree.

I completed Alta Alpina 8-Pass Challenge (hardest double century in the country) on Saturday June 30 (more on that below), but with bronchospasm issues from pine pollen (one thing after another, I guess).

On Sunday (the day after), the inhaler no longer sufficed (kinda like having a couple of bricks on my chest and I could not sleep that way), and I was extremely fatigued from fighting the allergic reaction. So I had to resort to prednisone (a steroid), which takes fluid out of the body, particularly the lungs. It is working, and things should settle down quickly.

Otherwise, extremely fast recovery (legs) with little soreness 36 hours later—thanks to the PEMF device I use, as well as the right kind of protein. These two things have lopped almost two days from my recovery time from double centuries (5-6 days down to 3-4 for full recovery).

The things I thought might go wrong went right. I wore an N100 face mask the first 50 miles or so, but I made the woeful mistake of not wearing it past mile 50 or so.

The problem is that starting around 6000' elevation, aerobic capacity becomes the limiting factor, and my (unusually large*) lungs are sucking in air quite forcefully, which can collapse the mask and impair breathing (much of the mask collapses to the face, so the surface area for air entry is greatly reduced).

So I had to give it up. Bad idea in retrospect—I had to use my inhaler 10-12 times (daily dose is 4 max) and that barely controlled the bronchospasms. My lungs and diaphragm were aching for the last 40 miles. But up Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Pass West it would have been problematic to use a mask: heat and the breathing issue. I need to figure out how to stiffen it so it does not collapse, or find something else.

* My lung capacity is 25% higher than “normal”, so when I inhale, it is a lot of force.

3M Particular Respirator 8233, N100
Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Email Server Had Issues Until Sunday July 1

The diglloyd.com email server had issues much of the week—I could send but not receive.

I apologize for any inconvenience—if anyone sent email over the past week and did not get a response, assume it was lost.

As of Sunday July 1 around 11 AM, email should be working as normal. My alternative me.com email was alive and well the entire time—FYI just in case.

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