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SHOOTOUT: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Backyard

Prime or zoom?

This page compared the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM to the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM on a scene which allows across-the-frame and near-to-far sharpness assessment as well as focus shift and field curvature.

Rarely has such a comparison shown how two superb lenses can deliver very different results yet at the same time both can be called excellent. A great example of how a “quick test” could conclude radically erroneous results—that error is avoided here.

SHOOTOUT: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.8 to f/11, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Early summer, wild oats mostly cut
f8 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 100; 2021-05-15 16:41:28
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, -60 Highlights, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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What to Cover with the Fujifilm GFX100S?

I’m heading out for 3-4 weeks of field shooting within a few days, with the Fujifilm GFX100S, and the various new Sony and Voigtlander lenses too.

With respect to the Fujifilm GFX100S, I’m in a tight spot as for lenses, having only the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5. I have not been able to get the new Fujifilm GF 80mm f/1.7 and I don’t think I can receive the few GF lenses that are in stock before I leave, since B&H is on holiday. It was kind of a perfect storm of non-availability and timing that I did not anticipate.

So my question to my Medium Format readers is this: what would be most valuable for me to cover about the Fujifilm GFX100S? I have some ideas of my own of course, but I’m interested in suggestions—send 'em along.

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Reader Comments: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM gets rave reviews

re: Sony GM Lenses: World-Class Performance, Why Look Elsewhere?
re: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Strikingly Beautiful Image Rendition with Outstanding Sharpness

Richard C writes:

If you could only have (afford) one Sony GM lens, which would you choose: 35 mm or 50mm or…?

DIGLLOYD: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM. Please use my links to buy (any link on this site, or Sony wishlist, etc)

Roy P writes:

The Sony FE 50/1.2 is fantastic, as in delivering a fantasy-level performance. I can’t think of another 50mm lens that I was so impressed by – maybe the Zeiss Otus 55/14, but this is an f/1.2, so much more compact and lighter, and has killer AF to boot.

It does have slight pincushion distortion, and I don’t have a lens profile in Capture One (either that, or C1 is using some wrong “Manufacturer’s Profile”). So I have to manually correct it when it gets too distracting. But apart from that, this is an incredible lens.

Here’s an actual pixels crop from a street shot last evening as I went for a walk through downtown...

I also love the way the 50/1.2 handles bright sources of light in the background. From shots like below, you’d expect the bright areas to be quite harsh, with rough edges. But this is almost like the Sony FE 100/2.8 STF.

Very impressive.

DIGLLOYD: yep, this is what I have been trying to show in my examples. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is a lens that pulls so many good things together in one package that it’s hard to believe. Lens of the decade?

I have 3 samples of the 50/1.2GM now, but one has to go back. Of the remaining two, I will pick the best one to shoot for a month on my upcoming travels. Ditto for two samples of the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM.

Chris R writes:

Just to sy iv’e been really enjoying your recent Sony lens reviews, especially the Sony FE 50mm f1.2 and alike. lovely simple images as well in your back yard, it’s like going back to some of your early reviews of the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f2.

DIGLLOYD: the Canon EOS R5 is definitely a camera I need to cover.

Tigger in Fig Trees
f1.2 @ 1/1250 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 800; 2021-05-11 19:40:32
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, pull 0.66 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Really Right Stuff Says that the Fujifilm GFX100S Bottom-Plate Weak Point is Address by L-Bracket

re: Fujifilm GFX100S Sturdiness: Bottom Plate and Tripod Socket Not Exactly Sturdily Built

Good new about the GFX100S bottom plate weak point:

We also found the issue with the weak tripod socket about 3 weeks ago and designed the L-plate in such a way to mitigate the problem.

See Really Right Stuff L-Brackets and camera plates including the Really Right Stuff Fujifilm GFX100S Modular plates.

 


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Sony A1 Loaner Returned, Will Buy One When I Can... but I miss its oustanding usability already

B&H Photo was very generous with the loaner period for the Sony A1, but I had to finally return it. I’ve stated that I will be buying the A1, and that remains true. But it’s a budget thing and I’m having to delay in order to arrange a discount together with availability. I am hoping to have one again within 6 weeks or so.

I bought the Fujifilm GFX100S, but it feels like I got my priorities reversed and I ended up with a consolation prize. That Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 is an acceptable (boring) lens falling short of my expectations, so I returned it to recoup the funds for a lens I’d prefer, like the Fujifilm GF 23m f/4. But at this point I have only the Fujifilm GF 50/3.5 and most lenses are on backorder.

I already miss the Sony A1. While I wrote up why I prefer the Sony A1 over the A7R IV, it falls short of just how much better the A1 feels in practice.

It didn’t really hit home until resuming use of the Sony A7R IV, which is a very fine camera. But the A7R IV feels like yesterday’s technology by comparison. The total operating feel of the Sony A1 is unbeatable—I hugely prefer it to the Sony A7R IV or any other camera I’ve used. It is a big deal IMO.

The one limitation of the Sony A1 is that the 50MP resolution means more color aliasing and spurious detail issues on things like wood grain (not unique to the A1, it’s a resolution thing). That is one thing the 60MP A7R IV does a little better. But I swear that A1 images have some extra secret sauce. Perhaps not at base ISO for overall quality as per the comparison of a colorful fruit bowl and yet I prefer its images even there.

Maybe we will see a Sony A7R V with some of the Sony A1 technology this year?

And to finish: why are we A7R IV owners not getting firmware improvents introduced in the Sony A1? Ditto for compressed lossless files as well as focus stacking support.

Chris R writes:

Just to say Iv’e been really enjoying your recent Sony lens reviews, especially the 50mm f1.2 and alike. Lovely simple images as well in your back yard, it’s like going back to some of your early reviews of the Zeiss Milvus 100mm f2.

I can really see you are taken with the A1, but would really like to see you get hold of a Canon EOS R5. Indeed, I’m using one right now and I love it, it’s a nice upgrade from my 5Dmk4 and that is a lovely camera in it’s own right, but mirrorless is the way to go which you have been saying for quite a while now, Its so easy to manual focus my Zeiss lenses now on the R5. Anyway, keep those simple images coming always a pleasure.

DIGLLOYD: the Canon EOS R5 is definitely a camera I need to cover.


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Reader Comment: Adapter for Sony FE to Nikon Z + Unable to Update TechArt Lens Adapter for Voigtlander FE Lenses to Nikon Z

Kurt L writes:

A friend asked me how to use a Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 on a Nikon Z7 II camera.

My question is: "Which adapter is necessary" to use a 50 mm Zeiss Batis or a Voigtlander 50mm f/2 Apo-Lanthar on a Nikon Z7 II?

DIGLLOYD: see TechArt lens adapter at B&H Photo as one choice.

Some readers have reported good results with TechArt adapters, but Michael (below) is having issues. I have no experience with them.

In DSLR to mirrorless days, I did a lot of shooting with “dumb” adapters for Nikon DSLR lenses on mirrorless. That time has passed—I have zero interest in adapting lenses to mirrorless—too many hassles and problems and too many outstanding new lens designs. So there—I state my anti-lens-adapter bias plainly.

In general, I’m not a fan of electronic adapters excepting top-notch transition adapters from Nikon and Canon themselves. I prefer well-made “dumb” adapters for reliability, but of course if the lens is AF, then that’s not an option.

Also, it’s hard enough to get a lens free of lens skew. Adding two more surfaces is not going to do any favors for lens to sensor parallelism.

Electronic adapters have a much higher risk of failure, either from chip failure and/or software changes. Electronic adapters might have deliver less than ideal AF performance. So while adapting a manual focus lens can make some sense for some situations, adapting AF lenses seems marginal to me.

Michael E writes:

I have six or seven Voigtlander E-Mount lenses, aside from many Nikon-F Voigtlanders. I tried many times, using various cables and TechArt mounts to update their adapters TechARt-01, and failed. The software, although I downloaded it many times, overprints and simply does not work.

However, “dumb” E-Z adapters work, so I am using those and have ordered more of them. Very disappointing, but still will be workable.

DIGLLOYD: IMO, someone who has this many FE mount lenses should own a Sony body.


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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Aperture Series: Backlit Persimmon Tree

This aperture series from f/1.8 through f/11 evaluates the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM at medium range for sharpness across the field, color aberrations and overall performance.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Aperture Series: Backlit Persimmon Tree

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.8 to f/11, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Backlit Persimmon Tree
f11 @ 1/60 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-14 18:39:13
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +100 Shadows, -72 Highlights, +40 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

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Cataracts in Your Eyes? CAUTION on Which Intraocular Replacement Lenses Chosen

Michael Erlewine writes (name used with permission):

It has been suggested that I have cataract surgery and receive artificial lenses in my eyes. They also offer these lenses with or without UV protection/coating or whatever.

I worry that how I see color will be affected by the UV coating.

Do you have an opinion about UV coatings or not having that?

DIGLLOYD: as to color perception, the lenses in our human eyes steadily yellow with age, so it is probably inevitable that color perception will change, from that alone.

Far more important would be discomfort causes by highly variable UV/blue transmission which could lead to degenerative issues, as well as color perception caused by too-strong filtering. Try to obtain a spectral transmission chart, and study the available research before making a decision as this field may be changing—recently I saw news on a lens enabling near/far focus unlike previous lenses.

Violet and blue light blocking intraocular lenses: photoprotection versus photoreception

Action spectra for most retinal photosensitisers increase or peak in the violet part of the spectrum. Melanopsin, melatonin suppression, and rhodopsin sensitivities are all maximal in the blue part of the spectrum. Scotopic sensitivity and circadian photoentrainment decline with ageing. UV blocking IOLs provide older adults with the best possible rhodopsin and melanopsin sensitivity. Blue and violet blocking IOLs provide less photoprotection than middle aged crystalline lenses, which do not prevent age related macular degeneration (AMD). Thus, pseudophakes should wear sunglasses in bright environments if the unproved phototoxicity‐AMD hypothesis is valid.

DIGLLOYD: sounds like (speculating here) it is a bad idea to block blue, because it would affect circadian rhythms and hormones.

Terence M writes:

One of the best surgeons in the world is Dr. Raymond Stein in Toronto. www.bochner.com

My friend was a Captain on the B737 at WestJet (Similar to Southwest), he lost his aviation medical for some sort of eye problem and after several laser surgeries a doctor recommended he see Raymond Stein, apparently he was the only eye doctor could fix the problem. He did and he returned to work. Also a lot of Americans go there for treatment. My optometrist said he is world famous, wrote books on the topic and teaches at the University of Toronto. Though, such a hassle now to cross the boarder with COVID.

DIGLLOYD: good to know.

Alek O writes:

FYI FWIW that here is my (War & Peace!) writeup about my experience with Cataract Surgery. Here's my sub-page that talks about spectral transmittance ... and yes, you can see Ultraviolet after Cataract surgery! ;-)

I get about an Email a month from random people basically "thanking" me for that webpage since it explains what they "see" ... although you hardly notice in day-to-day ... just mostly around stuff like UV lights. Note this is different than how the world looks "whiter" after Cataract Surgery that removes the yellowing natural lens.

I personally LOVE seeing the deep purple/violets of sunrise/sunsets ... so if that is something you like to see, be careful getting a blue-blocker IOL. alek

P.S. You comment about IOL's that enable near/far focus ... I assume you are referring to multi-focals. Those have been around for a decade plus ... and sure, the newer "extended depth of focus", etc. are better. Be careful there also - the laws of (optical) physics apply.

...(later)...

So yea, I think some concerns that the Crystalens in my eyes are too transmissive below 400nm ... so I am very good about wearing sunglasses when out. However, the question is where do you draw that line ... because with blue blockers, you'll filter out some of the visible ... so are you willing to give up those deep purple/violets of sunrise/sunsets?

Dr. Mainster (discussed/linked on my web page ... who I actually chatted with a while back) doesn't seem to be a fan of blue blockers. And while I haven't looked much in recent literature, here's a 2018 survey paper that concludes: "Based upon current, best-available research evidence, it is unclear whether blue-light filtering IOLs preserve macular health or alter risks associated with the development and progression of AMD, or both."

BTW, I would not be surprised that many older patients who have blue blocker IOL's implanted actually DO end up seeing BETTER in the blue/purple regime ... just because their natural lens was filtering so much of that light. However, if the IOL is BLUE-blocking, then by definition, they aren't seeing the colors they saw when they were younger.

Finally, I should mention (and add to my website) a very recent NEW addition in the IOL field which is the Light Adjustable Lens which JUST got approved. This is pretty cool as they can adjust the power (spherical and cylinder) AFTER the IOL is implanted ... so you can really "dial it in" ... and adjust post-op for any misses. It does this via (surprise!) UV ... so you, of course, have to ALWAYS were UV glasses during the adjustment phase before you "lock" it in - read more here.

P.S. Some of the links on my web pages have unfortunately broken over time. I did update the link about Monet's paintings were affected by his cataract and then removal  which is a nifty story if you haven't read it before - there's a link there to a PDF version has the images embedded.

DIGLLOYD: great info at the links above!

I spend a lot of time at very high altitude (10K to 12K feet), where there is far more UV and blue/violet up there.  My contact lenses block UV and so do my sunglasses, but skin burns come on quick without sunblock and I can't always wear sunglasses (and don’t early and late in the day).

Another concern is light sensitivity at a computer screen—my father has that and he has has IOL's in both eyes. Dunno if the sensitivity is blue light or not—maybe something else.

Roy P writes:

Re. cataract surgery, I had both eyes done just about ten years ago, and I had put together the images below to explain to people how my vision improved before and after the surgery, and my natural eye lenses got swapped for intraocular replacement lenses.

Perceived clarity before/after cataract surgery (Roy P)

Even then, there were a whole bunch of options offered, including lenses corrected for astigmatism, distant vision, even reading, etc.

The problem is, an implant being placed in the eye ball is not like a lens being mounted on a camera with a fixed and rigid mount.  By the time lens settles down in the eye over several months, even a couple of years, it goes through slight changes to its placement in all three dimensions.

So whatever correction was built into the lens would no longer be valid, and you’d have to get corrective lenses to compensate for undoing the settlement changes, and that is never perfect.  And if you’re going to be wearing glasses anyway, why complicate the implants?

So I just got two very basic lenses that give me 20-20 vision from a distance of about 3 feet to about 20 feet, and that is good enough that I can drive without wearing any glasses in known places where I don’t need to precisely read street signs or names.  I do wear progressives that have distant vision built into them at the top and a reading prescription at the bottom.  But in between, my glasses are largely without any power, except for slight correction for some astigmatism.

After my surgery in 2010, I’ve had four eyeglass prescriptions.  The first was shortly after the surgery, the second was a year later, the third was another year later.  The fourth was about five years ago.  Since then, there is a very slight change, as of my most recent eye test about a month ago, but it is so negligible that a new pair of eyeglasses was not warranted.

Over the years, I have been advising the same strategy to others

I also got a pair of +4 prescription reading glasses for being able to see the LCD back of the camera on a tripod for Live View focusing.  So I take off my regular glasses and put these on when I need to look at the LCD closely. I did get UV protection in my implants.  So I only wear sunglasses for comfort

So that’s one data point to consider for anyone planning to get cataract surgery done.

DIGLLOYD: great advice. I think for now such a surgery would drive me crazy—I’m going to stick with my contact lenses as long as I can. I don't have clarity issues, only correction and things are pretty stable.

Ultraviolet or blue-filtering intraocular lenses: what is the evidence?

Jan 8 2016

Abstract

Cataract surgery was revolutionised by the introduction of modern intraocular lenses in the late 1940's. By the late 1960's to 1970's evidence had emerged that short-wavelength light caused phototoxicity at the retina and retinal pigment epithelium. By the early 1980's ultraviolet filters had been incorporated into intraocular lenses. This caused intense controversy, as there was concern that the UV-filtering chromophore might leach out into the eye causing toxicity. With the arrival of blue-filtering intraocular lenses (BFIOLs) in 1990's, a further debate was ignited as to their safety and potential disadvantages.

Selecting the optimal performing intraocular lens to obtain the best visual performance with the fewest potential drawbacks has become complex and challenging for cataract surgeons and their patients with the wide choice of lenses available. Choosing a personalised lens to address astigmatism, presbyopia, spherical aberration, chromatic aberration, and potentially to shield the retina from short-wavelength light is now possible.

The potential benefits and possible side effects of these different innovations emphasise the importance of assessing the evidence for their clinical utility, allowing the surgeon and the patient to weigh-up the risk benefit ratio and make an informed decision. The BFIOLs were developed to reduce cyanopsia, address chromatic aberration, and improve contrast sensitivity in different lighting conditions, as well as to prevent short-wavelength light reaching the retina thus potentially reducing the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Further design development of the BFIOLs was to mimic the natural crystalline lens absorption and transmittance properties in adulthood.

Multiple publications have reported on the potential benefits and pitfalls of implanting a blue-filtering lens. The potential disadvantages raised in the literature over the last 25 years since their introduction, regarding compromise of visual function and disruption of the circadian system, have been largely dispelled. The clear benefits of protecting the retina from short-wavelength light make a BFIOLs a sensible choice. The purpose of this article presented at the Cambridge symposium 2015 is to review the literature on this subject...

Discussion

...Overall, it would seem that there are no drawbacks to using a BFIOL, and indeed there are benefits of using an IOL which filters out short-wavelength light including reduction in glare. However, more importantly as short-wavelength light has been shown to be toxic to the retina and results of in vitro, animal and clinical studies support the hypothesis that protecting the retina from short-wavelength light is desirable, implantation with a BFIOL seems a sensible precaution...

...There are a wide range of IOLs available and it is not within the scope of this article to specifically discuss any particular IOL. However, it is important that the IOL design allows photoreception as close as possible to the young adult healthy crystalline lens, and photoprotection to prevent short-wavelength light damage over the lifetime of the recipient.

DIGLLOYD: choices are far better here in 2021 than a decade ago.


Reader Comment: squinting through a viewfinder

Roy P writes:

For the times when you have to spend long periods of time squinting through a viewfinder, especially through a long lens, this anti-squint accessory allows you to comfortably keep one eye closed!

Pure Silk Eye Patch For Adults, Amblyopia Obscure Astigmatism Training Strabismus Correction Black @AMAZON

Best in class product, selected after trying a half dozen different products.  The patch should firmly put pressure on the eyelid to keep it closed, but not so hard has to cause discomfort to the eye.  It should be flattish, and not too much of a cup, which would allow your eye lid to partially open.  It should be padded and slightly stretchable, not unyielding like a piece of cloth, since even with your eyelid closed, you will be blinking and moving your closed (typically left) eye, as you see through the viewfinder with your open eye.  Lastly, it should snugly stay in place and not slip.

The patch is useful only when you have to stand in one place for an extended amount of time, waiting to pick the right moments for action shots.

My other alternative, which I frankly prefer, is to use the LCD back, and use the Sony Bluetooth RMT, which I can keep in my pocket.  With eye AF turned on, I can use the rear AF-ON button to maintain focus on a bird, and when I see action, like wings flapping or whatever, I can press the shutter release.

The limitation of this technique is, you don’t have the time to grab the camera / lens and track the bird as it flies out.  So if you think a bird is ready to fly out and you may have to pick up the camera / lens, then the patch works better!

DIGLLOYD: interesting. And if you are after the priate look, you’re golden!



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Fujifilm Cluelessness: fujifilm.registria.com

Dunno if anyone else is having the problem I’m having.

macOS, Safari, all web site features enabled

I spent the time to enter camera and lens including serial numbers, my information and so on.

But the site has no "Finish" or "Save" button. In the end, I had to give up and abort, a total waste of my time.

https://fujifilm.registria.com

World’s shittiest registration experience that results in no registration. Designed by the Fujifilm camera menu team?


Reader Comment: Long Lens Support for Fujifilm GFX100S + anti-squint accessory

I don’t think support is needed with the Fujifilm GFX100, but the lighter-bodied Fujifilm GFX100S could potentially fracture under some impact stresses with the bigger lenses because the base plate is toy-grade. Personally I’d prefer the GFX100, but not for the price difference.

Roy P writes:

The kit I’d recommend for the GFX 100S for any of the longer lenses.  I use this with my P1/XF and Sony as well.

 The MPR-Cinema rail is only 7.1” long (18 cm), which is much handier than the longer rail RRS includes in its long lens support kit.  Buy the pieces unbundled – you save nothing by buying the kit, and you can get a shorter rail that is more practical.

It’s also critical to use either a custom plate / L bracket for the camera or a self-aligning camera plate that ensures the lens is as perfectly parallel to the rail as possible.  I use these when I don’t have a custom plate or L bracket for a camera.

DIGLLOYD: a prudent approach.

Thanks for buying using these links.


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Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Garage Weight Room

This aperture series from f/1.2 through f/8 evaluates the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM at medium range for sharpness across the field, color aberrations and overall performance. A high-contrast scene reveals interesting limits.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: Garage Weight Room

Includes images up to full camera resolution, plus crops.

If the sheer clarity of the scene below below does not impress (along with the various examples already shown), I know of no lens that will float your boat. Heck, a lot of Netflix productions use lenses grossly inferior to what I see here.

I don’t judge a lens just on sharpness, I want the whole enchilada, and the Sony FE 50/1.2 GM has it all. I haven’t desired a lens this much for years—don’t think about it, order one now. You won’t regret it. I will be buying one as my top priority.

Thanks for buying using these links.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Garage weight room
f1.2 @ 1/800 sec pixel shift, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 17:12:27
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, push 1.4 stops, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +40 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Strikingly Beautiful Image Rendition with Outstanding Sharpness

The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM offers a world class combination of sharpness, clarify of color, and ultra-smooth bokeh. The results are perhaps unprecedented on Sony mirrorless.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Dreamy Drawing (Backyard)

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Stunnning image rendition. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is one of the finest 50mm lenses of all time, now on my absolutely must-acquire list.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Optics for Sony Mirrorless

Purple flowers
f1.2 @ 1/160 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-10 19:55:22
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
Tigger in Fig Trees
f1.2 @ 1/1250 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 800; 2021-05-11 19:40:32
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, pull 0.66 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
Colorful flowers in blue pot
f1.2 @ 1/60 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-10 19:55:46
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
California Buckey canopy
f1.2 @ 1/25 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-10 20:03:11
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, push 0.45 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
Make an Old Dog Run Like a Young Puppy
with an OWC SSD

SATA, USB3, Thunderbolt, internal upgrades and PCIe SSD options for Mac or PC.
View All OWC SSDs...

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: California Buckeye flower spike amid leaves

This aperture series from f/1.2 through f/8 evaluates the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM at close range for sharpness, focus shift, and overall rendition / rendering style.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Aperture Series: California Buckeye flower spike amid leaves

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Lenses for Sony Mirrorless

California Buckeye flower spike
f1.2 @ 1/320 sec, ISO 100; 2021-05-10 19:35:50
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
Protect Your Phone
NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads.
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Plus, excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc.

Fujifilm GFX100S vs Sony A1: thoughts on Enjoyment, Hit Rate, Image Success + Reader Viewpoints

re: Fujifilm GFX100S or Sony A1 or Sony A7R IV for Landscape, Studio, etc?
re: Why I Bought the Fujifilm GFX100S (and why I’m also buying the Sony A1.

This essay speaks to considerations that have nothing to do with technical specifications. I couldn’t not write this, as I feel it’s too important a decision point for anyone thinking that medium format is necessarily superior to the 35mm-format option. Subjective...totally, relevant to a choice—absolutely!

...

Sony A1

The prior two nights I had shot the Sony A1 with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM and then the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM. With that setup, my “flow” just seemed so easy, and very enjoyable.

But last night, the GFX100S felt like a chore by comparison, and I ended up discarding all my images—none satisfied. It feels hard to compose through its EVF, which sucks in color and contrast and detail along with magnification that just somehow does not work for my eye. I did focus the EVF (diopter adjustment), so that’s not it. Each time I pick up the GFX100S, the view feels just as crummy as the last.

The EVF matters a lot. GFX100S AF sometimes nails it and sometimes misses, so I cannot rely on it for precision focus. And its magnified Live View is at best fugly compared to the Sony A1. And when the EVF is not a pleasure, all aspects of usages suffer, like composition (at least for me), and even psychological ones—the appeal of what I am seeing and therefore wanting to make the image.

Those are just operational things, so do they matter? I think so, big time. At least for general image making. That is, when I look at images, the Sony ones are much more numerous and on average much better—more pleasing. So I get 50 megapixels instead of 100, but I like what I made a lot more often and with a lot more images.

Fujifilm GFX100S

And I got to make those images while enjoying the experience, not resenting the aging dumbed-down technology (in the GFX100S).

I am not claiming that the GFX100S images are technically inferior. Presumably they are as good or better in some technical sense, but so far I like the Sony images far more—color and contrast, lens rendering, and overall visual impact—totally in favor of the the Sony A1 with the 35/1.4GM and 50/1.2GM vs GFX100S with 50/3.5 and 30/3.5. And vastly more flexible—even in equivalent aperture terms, we’re talking two full stops more creative potential with Sony, and with razor sharp results wide open—the Fujifilm lenses suck wide open at f/3.5. Totally different too sets, one of which isn’t even competitive for many things (GFX100S).

Image-making should be enjoyable with a high hit rate making images that please. The Sony A1 does that. The Fujifilm GFX100S has not yet made me feel good.

More concerning is that the Fujifilm medium format platform fees stuck in a rut in terms of buttons, dials, menus, AF motors, EVF, scrolling speed, slow transit time, etc. Will it ever leap forward to much better usability, to Sony A1 grade?

And will Sony ever take Sony A1 technology and make a medium format system? Not likely, but it would bring welcome competition—would be awesome.

In the field

Out in the field (soon), I’ll have a chance to make landscape images with both cameras, where the shooting style is quite different. I am expecting that the GFX100S will earn its keep by delivering images with considerably more detail. And in such situations, it should earn its keep.

Thing is, the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 is a big disappointment—it just does not deliver the goods, not for a 100MP camera, and I despise the fact that f/3.5 is a useless crappy aperture. And the whole point of a 100MP camera (for me) is about capture detail. With that big "hole" in the lens lineup, I now need to find a good sample of the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4.

Claude F writes:

There's no question that the Sony with all that you have noted is a robust image maker and an enjoyable photo experience. Sony has upped the game from the A7R2! The lenses are now world class with the camera to match.

My overarching goal has always been 4x5 image quality but that needs to be achieved in the first place. And then can't turn into a chore in the digital darkroom. So the 100s remains an open question for me. Can I quickly and accurately focus and get an image handheld. Will Focus BKT work. I have no problem using smaller apertures and smaller step sizes. I know smaller apertures are a problem in your play book. Will I have a straightforward time working with files. A big question is using Helicon or Zerene stacker with BKT images. If I start to struggle or have any difficulty along the way it's not worth the fight. Most of the time workarounds suck.

As a landscape, mostly tripod based, and very low shutter count photographer, shooting in remote places, and looking to make crafted images, the 100s would seem to be the hands down camera choice. That said the workflow needs to be a flow and not a chore. The camera lens system needs to be reliable in several ways. Momentary or longer camera problems, for instance one that requires removing the battery or one that locks up the camera into an unusable brick are not something most are going to want to contend with four miles or 400 miles from the car.

The most important step in the flow, I use the word flow with strong intent, needs to be the confidence that the exposure made for the hard earned composition is rock solid. Like the 4x5 camera for me, I need to know that when the film came back or the download is made to the computer, I got what I needed in the field. I don’t have time or the inclination in most of my shooting environments to review frames or make adjustments. I’m usually afforded a single set of bracketed exposures at the optimal moment of exposure.

An important consideration for me with a new camera is the ability to hand-hold, and with the same confidence I’m describing, make the photo I’ve envisioned. The ability to stop and take a photo is something I rarely do in the Sierra, but in Alaska or Himalaya the lighting and subject matter that presents itself makes handholding for a photo a necessity. The obvious camera and lens feature would be to make autofocus photos with confidence. Something I have little or no confidence in, but in the mountains I’m traveling to, I do need a handheld photo to work without question.

Beyond the operation of the camera of course is the image quality which unquestionably lands in the GFX100S court. Yes, as long as one got the shot I know. The point I want to bring up is that the flow needs to continue to the image processing portion. After a trip I have lots to catch up with not the least of which is going back to work. So when I get around to downloading and doing a cursory review and maybe begin rendering stitches or my upcoming focus bracketed frames that too has to be straightforward. I’ll stop there as it’s time to head to work, but I am excited to get into a flow that I trust and hopefully have fun with.

DIGLLOYD: makes sense to me—the Fujifilm GFX100 worked great for landscapes for me in the past, and the GFX100S should be no different. That’s what I alluded to in my last not in my essay.

YES, the FOCUS BKT feature will work with shorter focal lengths such as 50mm. I tested it and it worked fine with the 30mm and 50mm lenses. Worst case if it happens is to take one last INF image and/or try Auto with near/far points.

Autofocus—I am seeing too many misses to assume it's solid; for landscape I strongly recommend popping into 100% magnified Live View to verify.

Michael Erlewine writes:

I totally get your post about the awkwardness of the medium-format range of cameras. Starting with my Mamiya RZ67 system, which I bent over backward trying to like, but couldn’t. It was the same with the Fujifilm GFX-50S, I was grossed out by the haptics and all the things I had to sacrifice to gain what was supposed to be a much better image, an image I never seemed to be able to find etc.

And I believe I tried the Sony A7R cameras, I hate to say this, three times, always sending them back. I believe I could like the Sony A7R4-a, the forthcoming one with a better back-panel LCD and am thinking about it. 

So, it comes as no surprise (or a pleasant surprise) to read your haptics (or whatever) take on the GFX100s. It feels that I am finally back on the same page with you, where I felt I used to be.

I am looking forward to Nikon’s response to the Sony A1, hoping it will come close to the A1 and still have all the things I love about the Nikon System. And, if they would come out with an A1 with a decent rear LCD, I might sell some rare lenses and buy a copy. Until then, not likely.

I am quite happy with the Nikon Z7 II, even though I know it is not as good as my bulky Nikon D850, which I seldom use lately. I never have printed out even one image of the hundreds of thousands of images I have taken over the years, much less put one on the wall.  Does not interest me.

I really do feel we are at an inflection point in modern photography, and I am finding myself turning backward and being pretty content with what I have and wondering if the pursuit for larger sensors really matters that much for me. 40-50 megapixels seems quite reasonable and 100 Mpx beasts like the Fuji cameras not worth the sacrifice in haptics it would take.

I totally am on the same page with you about the joy of good haptics and not having to hold my nose using a technically more capable (perhaps) camera system, one that if I am honest, I just don’t like.

For myself, I feel I have reached the point of no return coming back for me, a point where I turn and work on being content with what I am told is an inferior camera (Nikon Z7 II, etc.), but one that is a joy to use. I guess I am now sacrificing more pixels, etc. in favor the shooting experience as you subscribe.

And I have at least 6 Sony lenses that I use with an adapter on the Nikon Z7 II, all very nice Voigtlanders, ready for a Sony A7R4a  or the A1 camera… perhaps.

DIGLLOYD: all the mirrorless cameras today are making us spoiled. But at this point, Sony’s lens line leaves all other brands behind; though each vendor has some outstanding choices, Sony has far more.

Roy P writes:

You heard me on the GFX100S usability issues almost immediately after I got my hands on it.  Of course, it sucks.  I seriously considered sending it back.  I am still within the window of returnability, so sending back the camera and all the lenses is a thought that has occurred to me a few times.

In the end, I have gotten over all the irritations and frustrations with the camera and decided to keep it, based on the following considerations:

#1, the camera / lens doesn’t take photos, I do.  And despite all the nuisance factors, I have and I can put it to work, and for my intended use cases, I can get good results with it.  So far, I have not been disappointed with the image quality it has delivered.  The GFX100S has the same sensor technology as the Sony A1 and the Phase One IQ4/150MP should also be closely related.  Inherently, the GFX100S should be capable of delivering the same world class images with the best lenses, and I believe it is.
[diglloyd: it is my understanding that the A1 sensor is an upgrade to the A7R IV/GFX100/GFX100S/Phase One IQ4 sensor tech]

Each of these sensors is unique to the camera it’s put in. The sensor is not just the array of photo cells, as you know. It’s the entire CMOS stack with the integrated DRAM, all the embedded AF points, sense amps, buffers, etc., and the A1 and the GFX100S sensors are very different that way. The GFX100S sensor is probably the same as the one in the GFX100, so that would make it a year older, and perhaps it has more in common with the A7R4. But in the big picture, all these and the IQ4/150 are within the same 1-2 year time window to be called the same “generation”. But the A1 is obviously the sensor with the most steroids injected into it!

And that leads to #2, lenses.  I can’t speak for all GF lenses, but among the ones I’ve seen so far, the 80/1.7 and 110/2 look world-class in absolute terms, while the 32-64, 45-100 and 50/3.5 are excellent for my intended use cases (walkaround / street, people and macro photography with extension tubes and focus bracketing).  I have also picked these lenses such that I have minimal overlap or redundancy in terms of use cases with Sony and P1. 

#3, in terms of usability, compared to some of the other systems I’m used to, namely P1, Leica M, and Leica S, the Fuji is like traveling by First Class. The Fuji is a dwarf in the Sony, Canon and Nikon circles, but is a giant in the P1, Leica M and Leica S/SL circles (don’t know about Hasselblad).  You can make very good pictures with even the most cumbersome of these systems, so in the full spectrum of the cameras, the Fuji is more like in the middle of the road rather than an extreme.  At a price of $6K, its value makes up for a lot of usability issues!

#4, the GFX100S is not devoid of capabilities and competencies.  It does some things that the Sony and P1 can’t do.  For me, the GFX100S has shown superb capability with flash photography, far better than either the Sony A1 or the P1 XF.  I take a lot of people photos (events, portraits), and I use Profoto flash.  The Sony, Fuji and P1 all work with the same set of flashes, and the GFX100S has become my most go to camera for flash photography.

#5, Much of the GFX100S’ usability problems can be fixed with firmware upgrades, and if a lot of people complain, over time, I’ve got to give Fuji the benefit of the doubt that they will improve the camera.  They had the vision to produce the GFX 50 cameras, then the 100, now the 100S, and to offer it at such an aggressive price.  This is a company that has come to fight to win this camera category.  So my take on the GFX 100S is, worst-case, consider it a beta product, and the real product will be the Mark II, perhaps 18 months from now.  But in the meantime, the Mark I is not so badly crippled that it can’t be used, and when a Mark II comes out, the current version should still be sellable for $4000+.  So my rationale for keeping the GFX100S is not based just on the GFX100S per se, but rather, a commitment to this sensor size, which I’ve always liked since my Leica S2 days (2009).  In that context, the GFX100S Mark I specifically is something that comes and goes.

So that’s my rationale.  I’ve decided to keep this, warts and all.

DIGLLOYD: me too (keep it). And I agree with the reasoning.

Jon M writes:

All this talk about which sensor is better, the same, worse or needed size has had me thinking that one major aspect is being ignored – how the image will be viewed. The prevailing conventional wisdom being circulated now seems to go something like this. Who needs 100/150 MP to view an image on your phone, Instagram, Flickr, laptop, etc. (pick your own poison)?

You only need a lot of pixels if you are going to make a large print or view it on a large ultra-ultra resolution  screen, but very few people view images that way and, even then, you can probably get away with using Gigapixel AI or Adobe enhanced images, etc. The only people that care about high pixel counts are pixel-peepers (and we all know that they are  the lowest form of human being there is!).

But, hold on – isn’t that precisely the point. Now that technology has given us different ways of viewing images, shouldn’t we give people the opportunity to see images in different ways. I might want to see the whole composition of a landscape and admire it but also enjoy zooming in and noticing a well defined image of the rare bird in one of the tree branches.

What do you think?

DIGLLOYD: my daughter takes beautiful pictures with her iPhone 11, in HEIC or JPEG. Then when I bring them up on my 2019 iMac 5K, the compression mutilation and posterization makes them no good for better than 1/4 of the screen. They work well for some subjects (in small size) and are a disaster with others.

Pixels are now about image quality as much as “detail”. Fidelity to the scene. Many natural scenes look like mutilated yuck when the pixel count is too low. Add in color aliasing, color speckling, stair-stepping, false detail, coarse tonal transitions, inaccurate colors especially details, crisp textured snow or sand that turn into finger-painted mush, etc.

Cropping is an increasingly useful benefit of more pixels, particularly for wildlife.

Barring exotic gear, never before could we hold in our hands a camera capable of capturing more than we can perceive while there, and explore it later.

I enjoy the details in a scene very much, but unlike printed images, I can zoom in and explore things that I didn’t notice while there—a remarkable and unprecedented benefit in the history of photography. For any number of images without making a huge expensive print that won’t fit into my home anyway, and that would demand I be X inches away to view it properly. Prints are a terrible solution for enjoying more than a tiny number of images and they severely limit our perceptual enjoyment.

We all perceive the world differently—color, shapes, etc. It’s brain wiring. I saw this early on in my youth—my brother always saw the arrowhead first, the deer in the woods, etc. it always frustrated me that he was innately better at those sorts of pattern recognition things—but why should any perception or skill be thought to be “the same” with different people? It’s not.

I think the “disagreement” about resolution might come down to different sensory processing. Which relates back to image quality which directly relates to sensory processing. We are not the same, so the whole argument is foolish because we are each ourselves.

In particular, sensory processing sensitivity means that when I look at a landscape (in the outdoors), or an image of it, there is a lot going on that I am certain does not happen for others. In the actual outdoors, it’s a multi-senses experience, which is perhaps why I like spending so much time outdoors. Whatever the experience is, catpSo it make perfect sense that what I need in an image has no value for some.

Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a personality trait characterized by a high level of sensitivity to external stimuli.[1] The trait tends to correlate with a greater depth of cognitive processing and high emotional reactivity.[1] A human with a particularly high measure of SPS is considered to be a highly sensitive person (HSP)...

According to the Arons and colleagues, people with high SPS make up about 15–20% of the population and are thought to process sensory data more deeply due to the nature of their central nervous system.

I know that “iconic” sells, but it’s incredibly boring after the 10th spectacular picture of Half Dome. I like iconic images for what they are of course, but more interesting are the smaller vignettes in and under and around the iconii—this is where publications like National Geographic fail spectacularly, IMO.

The Sony kit

The 'killer' kit for Sony. Some of the best optics ever made for the 35mm format.

The Fujifilm medium format kit

The kit for Fujifilm medium format. IMO, the GFX100 should be preferred (better EVF, more robust build). But it’s larger and heavier.


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Fujifilm GFX100S/100 FOCUS BKT: Workaround for Failure to Reach Infinity Focus

re: Fujifilm GFX100S/100 FOCUS BKT Feature still has can’t-reach-infinity-focus Bug dating back to 2019

Roy P writes:

Do you suppose the GFX100S is not missing the final few shots to reach infinity, but perhaps going several shots beyond infinity?

I did a quick test today.  I can’t quite go to a mile away, but looking from my front yard down my street, the farthest I can see is about 1200 to 1300 feet away.  That’s about 300-330 meters.  I set the near point 1 m away, and the far point to “infinity” on the lens, as far as it would go.  It took 203 shots, but what I noticed was the last frame with the farthest features in my scene, a tall tree, was frame #192.  In the frames 193-203, the sharpness of the most distant features actually got progressively worse.  So for my focus-stacking, I used only frames 1-192, and it came out pretty darned well.

So if you are looking at the last couple of frames in your focus bracketing series and seeing the distant features “at infinity” were not sharp, can you work backwards from there and see if those same distant features become actually sharper in frames that are about 90% of the way to the end?

DIGLLOYD: if the camera proceeds in the series “past infinity” then the extra frames can just be discarded. That’s not the issue, other than the minor hassle of figuring out the last frame that is needed.

The issue is not going past infinity, aborting even before the designated frame count is reached. For example: I would set a frame count of, say, 10 frames. I’d initiate the process, and the camera would only take 1 or 2 frames, then stop. The last frame would be focused perhaps 100 meters out, far short of INF focus.

In many situations, I would repeatedly see the GFX100 take a single frame when a dozen or more were needed, with the most distantly focused frame still badly blurred at distance (focused much closer than INF). Sometimes it would take 2 or 3, but again maybe a dozen were needed.

Fujifilm GFX100: Bug and Issues with the FOCUS BKT Feature, How to Mitigate
Fujifilm GFX100: Using the FOCUS BKT Feature for Focus Stacked Images

Possible workaround for failure to get to INF

The Fujifilm GFX100S and presumably the GFX100 with latest firmware have an Auto mode whereby one sets the near point and far point and just lets the camera figure out the frame count. This differs from manual mode where the near-focus point is chosen, and the camera takes frames up to the frame count, which in practice means getting several frames focus past infinity (when things are working as they ought).

If the Auto feature works as it ought, then setting the far point at infinity focus should ensure getting a full series from near to far.


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Sony GM Lenses: World-Class Performance, Why Look Elsewhere?

re: Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Backyard
re: Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Backyard and Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Tigger

James K writes:

The new Sony GM lenses are extremely nice performers.  The color quality is beautiful.  Sony is at the top of their game.  Lucky me.  My 50 f/1.2 GM will probably arrive on Friday.  I have been shooting some images with my 85mm f/1.4 GM.  A wonderful optic.  The 85 image quality fits in with the new GM series.  Focus is slower but not a problem for me.

DIGLLOYD: all of the recent (past ~3 years) Sony GM lenses are standout performers that would be my first choice in their focal length for autofocus, and in most cases (maybe all) for performance as well.

The Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM, and Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM are stunning performers. See my recent example images from both—the sharpness and bokeh and color correction are second to none, resulting in stunning clarity and lifelike rendition—terrific visual impact.

So I really want to acquire the 35/1.4 GM and 50/1.2GM. WOW. When lenses perform so well that I feel an urgent desire to own my own samples, that‘s unusual—and I evaluate a lot of lenses.

In other words, you need not look any further than Sony GM lenses. There are a few exceptions here and there such as the Sigma FE 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, and several of the Voigtlander APO lenses, but they have drawbacks, like size/weight (Sigma) and focus creep (Voigtlander FE APO).

I have yet to test the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM, but I expect great results from it.

Not all the GM lenses are excellent, for example the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM has been a disappointment and is badly in need of a revision. It’s just not good enough for the Sony A1 or Sony A7R IV. But it’s an older/earlier design.

Glenn K writes:

I agree that Sony is producing world class primes in the G and GM series. They also have a set of world class zooms... unfortunately, except for the 12-24 and 100-400, the rest are 3rd world class.  The f/4s are way behind Nikon and Canon, and the f/2.8s are inconsistent.  Sony really needs to up their game here. Their most recent efforts like the 12-24 and the 16-55 G for APS-C show that they can do it.

DIGLLOYD: yep, the earlier-design zooms need total redesigns using current Sony tech.

Below, the distracting bright background could be a problem, but the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM makes short work of it, turning it into pleasingly smooth bokeh with near-nil magenta/green color bokeh and ultra-smooth transitions.

California Buckey flower spike
f1.4 @ 1/320 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-08 19:32:03
Sony A1 + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

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Wild oats gone to seed
f1.2 @ 1/5000 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 18:51:23
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +100 Shadows, +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]
Garlic flowehead
f1.2 @ 1/80 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 19:41:41
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +20 Whites, +46 Dehaze, +15 Clarity

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Garlic flowehead
f1.2 @ 1/320 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 19:40:38
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Backyard

This page shows examples with the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM, shot handheld and mostly wide open, with an emphasis on evaluating sharpness from center to corners.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Gorgeous imaging rendition! Get yours now, as this is one of the best 35mm lenses I’ve yet seen.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Optics for Sony Mirrorless

Persimmon Tree
f1.4 @ 1/320 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-08 19:39:05
Sony A1 + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +20 Whites

[low-res image for bot]
Seedhead
f1.4 @ 1/200 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-08 19:30:22
Sony A1 + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze

[low-res image for bot]

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Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Tigger

This page shows handheld examples with the Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM, mostly wide open at f/1.4, but also at f/2 and f/2.8, documenting the achievable sharpness in center, mid-zones and corners as well as looking at bokeh, secondary color and overall rendition.

Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Examples: Tigger

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Gorgeous imaging rendition! Get yours now, as this is one of the best 35mm lenses I’ve yet seen.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Optics for Sony Mirrorless

Tigger hanging out at sunset
f2 @ 1/50 sec handheld IBIS=on electronic shutter EyeAF=Human, ISO 100; 2021-05-08 19:50:41
Sony A1 + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +54 Shadows, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Fujifilm GFX100S/100 FOCUS BKT Feature still has can’t-reach-infinity-focus Bug dating back to 2019 (FOCUS BKT feature)

Update: see Fujifilm GFX100S/100 FOCUS BKT: Workaround for Failure to Reach Infinity Focus for a potential workaround.

Jim Kasson has confirmed the continuing existence of a bug that I reported back in August 2019.

I don’t have any lenses longer than 50mm, so I have no means to test longer focal length lenses at present. However,testing the Fujifilm GFX100S with the Fujifilm GF 50/3.5 , it is reaching infinity, so I don’t think this issue will be of concern for 63mm and shorter focals.

But even when the bug was clearly there, I never had issues with shorter focal lengths (63mm and shorter) more than one frame too few, so long as I was always careful to shoot one frame after the camera had done its job. And often I didn’t need to.

Information to review

Back then, I how the Fujifilm GFX100 FOCUS_BKT would abort the focus stepping sequence short of infinity. For lenses 110mm on up, it would stop grossly short (3 to 10 frames too early). For shorter lenses, generally 1 frame too early.

These pages are still highly relevant nearly two years later:

Fujifilm GFX100: Bug and Issues with the FOCUS BKT Feature, How to Mitigate

Fujifilm GFX100: Using the FOCUS BKT Feature for Focus Stacked Images

Those pages show examples and discuss mitigation strategies, including a simple fix for shorter focal lengths. There really isn’t any hope for 110mm on up, because too many frames are never taken by the FOCUS BKT feature.

Shame on Fujifilm for not fixing a bug that should never had made it into shipping firmware. At this point, it should be a red-faced embarrassment to both the engineering team and the quality assurance team, both prima facie incompetent to do even basic feature validation.

OWC ROVER PRO wheels for Mac Pro

No tools or hassle… just place your Mac Pro’s factory feet into the Rover Pro’s polished stainless-steel housings and secure with a few hand twists.

When you’re done moving your Mac Pro around, the Rover Pro makes it just as quick and easy to convert back to the factory feet for stationary use.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Backyard

This page shows some initial examples with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM, shot handheld and mostly wide open at f/1.2.

Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Gorgeous imaging rendition! Get yours now, this is one of the best 50mm lenses of all time.

CLICK TO VIEW: World Class Optics for Sony Mirrorless

Pink Rose
f1.2 @ 1/800 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 19:15:36
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, -20 Shadows, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

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Wild oats gone to seed
f1.2 @ 1/5000 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 18:51:23
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +100 Shadows, +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Toggle for monochrome version.

Tigger
f1.2 @ 1/2500 sec handheld IBIS=on EyeAF=Animal, ISO 100; 2021-05-07 18:21:25
Sony A1 + Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +30 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical: Showing Focus Shift Impacts at Distance, How to Mitigate

This 'nerd' optical work is not all that fun, but I want to be field shooting within 10 days and have all my knowledge locked down as far as lens behavior, so as to get the best possible results. Accordingly I have taken quite a few series and all show the same behavior that I show now.

This page shows the rearward focus shift (central areas) of the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar at distance in an outdoors image using two aperture series focused a bit differently. It also discusses how to get the best sharpness in light of the behavior (mitigation).

Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar: Focus Shift, Comparing and Mitigating (Roof and Deck)

Below, focusing a bit too distant + rearward focus shift means that even f/5.6 and f/8 cannot compete with f/2 focused just a little closer.

Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical

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Test Protocol for Focus Creep / Unstable Lens Focus

re: Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical: what looked like focus shift is *partly* shown to be Focus Creep / Unstable Lens Focus

I recommend testing your own lens in both cool and warm temperatures and at various focusing positions,. The focus creep could be sensitive to temperature (not sure) the rotation of the helicoid (probable). And there can be sample variation.

Test protocol for focus creep and focus shift

Protocol ostensibly for manual focus lenses with focusing helicoid, but might apply to autofocus lenses.

Repeat this procedure twice: once with the camera level, and once angled down 30° or so.

Be exceedingly careful to touch ONLY the aperture ring when changing aperture.

  1. Focus wide open on a long ruler with mm or similar markings.
  2. Shoot series at 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, then again at f/2,
  3. Shoot 2/8, 2/8, 2/8, 2/8.
  4. Compare all f/2 frames. They should be identical.
  5. Check the sharp near and far points on the ruler at each aperture, ascertaining whether focus is increasingly biased rearward (or forward).

This procedure also detects focus shift. The series with a level camera will show focus shift; the series with the camera angled down will yield focus shift (if any) + focus creep.

Example

In the example below following this protocol, a couple of centimeters of focus difference is seen at f/2 at a distance of ~4 feet—a massive difference. It doesn’t matter where focus starts; the only thing that matters is that it remain the same. If it changes, then the lens focus is unstable (focus creep) and/or there is optical focus shift.

Below are four frames at f/2, from the series {2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 2, 8, 2, 8, 2}, with the camera angled down about 30°. The focusing ring was never touched; the aperture ring was the only physical contact other than the shutter release. The images are in perfect registration, which rules out the tripod/head moving. There is a whopping 5cm change in focus on the ruler, from 50 to start to 45 by the 4th frame without touch the lens focusing ring. Both lenses show this behavior. On level, I don’t see it change.

However, it seems curiously variable, so I am having trouble pinning things down. Variables might include camera angle, focus distance (because the helicoid will be in a different position), possibly temperature.

Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical
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Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 Examples: a few more Backyard and Tigger (GFX100S)

I wondered to explore whether the Fuifilm GFX100S AF could nail things at some distance with the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5, and and at what speeds IBIS could give me a sharp image. I’ve added a few more images and a bit more commentary on AF and IBIS.

Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 Examples: Backyard and Tigger

Below: compared to a year ago, Tigger’s arboreal skills are impressive now versus a year ago. He seems to climb as much for fun as anything else, literally running up the tree trunk in one swift blur. Well, maybe it’s bird watching too. He’ll scale any tree with reasonably spaced branches. Techniques include claws into bark as well as wrapping paws around trunks as small as 4 cm diameter. Descending, he’ll drop 4-5 feet onto lower branches, leap 3-4 feet across, or wrap paws around the trunks of smaller trees and ratchet his way down. It’s great fun to watch this natural gymnast.

Tigger on the Lookout in Persimmon Tree
f5.6 @ 1/25 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-06 19:43:05
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
RAW: +59 Shadows, +30 Whites, USM {8,50,0}

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Why I Bought the Fujifilm GFX100S (and why I’m also buying the Sony A1)

Over the years, I’ve found that some of the most useful information to my readers is that of my own reasons for buying (or not) a lens or a camera. I like to focus on what it does for me: performance, enjoyment, unique features, etc, keeping price out of any rating.

For subscribers.

Fujfilm GFX100S: Why I Purchased It

Separately, I also decided to move ahead with the Sony A1, as it the best overall camera ever produced in history. It’s a pleasure to use, immensely capable and versatile with a huge stable of lenses from multiple vendors. I choose it over the Sony A7R IV for my own reasons:

Choosing Between Sony A1 and Sony A7R IV

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Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical: what looked like focus shift is *partly* shown to be Focus Creep / Unstable Lens Focus

I just could not understand how a razor sharp lens like the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical could have focus shift—it made no sense in optical terms. So I feel a little 'dense' in not having checked for the lens defocusing itself, just as its 65/2 APO sibling does.

But as it turns out, there appear to be two behaviors going on: focus creep (when not level) that defocuses the lens to a closer distance and some rearward focus shift. Together, the two effects can cancel-out each other.

UPDATE: By shooting two samples with a dead-level camera on a slanted ruler at ~1.2 meters, I have now proven to my satisfaction that (1) there is in fact a rearward optical focus shift, and (2) there was no focus creep involved for this test, as proven by an f/2 frame following the aperture series (it matches the initial f/2 frame).

I have also proven repeatedly that focus creep is an issue, at least at some positions (distances) of the focusing helicoid and when the aperture ring is used and the camera is angled down. The results is increasingly closer focus as the lens jiggles itself to closer focus. There might be variables to the focus creep that I am not aware of yet (e.g., temperature could alter the resistance of the helicoid). Also, sample #2 seems less prone to focus creep.

UPDATE 2: in addition to repeatedly seeing close-range focus shift on a ruler, I now can show exactly the same behavior at a focus distance of ~5 meters, with the camera level, including f/2.8 being sharper than f/5.6 on the leading edge of the subject which starts out slightly OOF.

...

Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical

Individual lenses surely vary. But this protocol shows that two (2) brand-new samples of the Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical have unstable lens focus *and* focus creep when the conditions are right (mainly when the camera is angled down).

Repeating the following protocol shows the behavior every time with both samples, to a degree so strong that examining the images right in the camera makes it obvious.

I don’t know what factors might also influence it, such as temperature. And while the two samples I have are totally consistent, it is possible that individual lens samples could show it to a greater or lesser degree.

Test protocol for focus creep and focus shift

Be exceedingly careful to touch ONLY the aperture ring when changing aperture.

  1. Focus at f/2 on a millimeter ruler, or similar, camera pointed down at 30° or so and also with camera level.
  2. Shoot series at 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, then again at f/2,
  3. Shoot 2/8, 2/8, 2/8, 2/8.
  4. Compare all f/2 frames. They should be identical.
  5. Check the sharp near and far points on the ruler at each aperture, ascertaining whether focus is increasingly biased rearward (or forward).

By the time this is done, a couple of centimeters of focus difference is seen at f/2 at a distance of ~4 feet—a massive difference.

Example, focus creep

Below are four frames at f/2, from the series {2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 2, 8, 2, 8, 2}, with the camera angled down about 30°. The focusing ring was never touched; the aperture ring was the only physical contact other than the shutter release. The images are in perfect registration, which rules out the tripod/head moving. There is a whopping 5cm change in focus on the ruler, from 50 to start to 45 by the 4th frame without touch the lens focusing ring. Both lenses show this behavior. On level, I don’t see it change.

However, it seems curiously variable, so I am having trouble pinning things down. Variables might include camera angle, focus distance (because the helicoid will be in a different position), possibly temperature.

Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical

Changes to my testing procedures

From now on, my aperture series protocol must change as follows in order to check for stable lens focus, by shooting wide open after the last stopped-down aperture:

f/: 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 ===> 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 2

It’s going to be difficult if not impossible to test lenses with unstable lens focus. Comparisons will be fraught with the hazard of never being certain as to whether focus has moved. I’ve tried tape—no good; it allows a bit of shift and total PITA in the field. A rubber band for more friction might work, but finding the right width and diameter is a chore.


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Fujifilm GFX100S: Focus BKT Auto Mode for Focus Stacking (Bicycle Drivetrain)

This page looks at the Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 on the Fujifilm GFX100S using the Focus Bkt feature at Auto, whereby the photographer selects the near and far points and the camera chooses the number of frames.

Fujifilm GFX100S: Focus Stacking / FOCUS BKT (Drivetrain)

It also includes an aperture series from f/3.5 through f/11 for comparison to the focus stack (5 frames at f/8).

f8 @ 1/8 sec focus stack 5 frames, ISO 100; 2021-05-05 14:57:43
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
RAW: +50 Shadows, +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, USM {8,50,0}

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Fujifilm GFX100S: Dynamic Range (Backlit Tigger with Push and Shadow Boost)

This page looks at image quality at ISO 100 with 14-bit lossless capture in a strongly backlit situation with the typical camera metering underexposure of nearly a full stop.

To retain highlights, it is often necessary to cut down exposure, which impacts noise in shadow areas. Plus the camera often screws the pooch with its film-age metering sensibilities (almost a full stop of dynamic range wasted here). How well does image quality at ISO 100 far when pushed to bring out shadow detail?

Fujifilm GFX100S: Dynamic Range, Backlit Tigger with Push and Shadow Boost

Includes crops and discussion, including how to maximize image quality.

As-shot (left), +1 (center), +2.6 (right)
f6.4 @ 1/75 sec handheld electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-05-02 19:04:35
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm)
RAW: +20 Whites, +30 Dehaze, +15 Clarity

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