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Shootout: Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (Blue Water Flows Over Dark Rocks, Sony A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This shootout pits the about $1499 Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 Distagon against the about $1699 Sony 12-24m f/4. It follows the Pescadero Creek, Downstream shootout and this comparison looks much more strongly in favor of the Batis.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Shootout: Blue Water Flows Over Dark Rocks

Includes images up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 for both lenses.

Sony is making some good lenses these days, and the about $1699 Sony 12-24m f/4 Ge covers a range that has been very hard to cover. How does it stack up against the about $1499 Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 Distagon?

   
Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 and Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
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Format Shootout: Fujifilm GFX + 23mm f/4 vs Sony A7R II + 12-24mm f/4

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

In Medium Format, I take a 2nd look at assessing the image quality of the Fujifilm GFX against the Sony A7R II, following the Pescadero Creek, Downstream comparison:

Shootout: Fujifilm GFX vs Sony A7R II: Blue Water Flows Over Dark Rocks

The comparison is imperfect—it cannot be perfect given different aspect ratios, lenses and their distortion, etc, but the tripod position was fixed and it is remarkably interesting to compare the two—42 megapixels versus 50 on different sensor sizes.

What happens if Sony delivers an improved sensor and improved (less 'cooked') image file quality at, say, 72 megapixels? That would be interesting at full resolution, let alone the implications of oversampling at 72MP and then downsampling to 50. For now, the GFX looks highly satisfying.

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Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R WR Aperture Series: Blue Water Flows Over Dark Rocks

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

This aperture series look at image quality of the Fujifilm GFX sensor with a small pull and a +100 maximal shadow boost—how good is the image quality?

It also runs from f/4 through f/16—how well does f/16 hold up, given that it is needed for depth of field equivalent to f/13 on the 35mm full frame format. I’m impressed and any landscape phtoographer should like what there is to see here.

Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 Aperture Series: Blue Water Flows Over Dark Rocks

Includes images up to full resolution from f/4 through f/16.

I’m really liking the Fujifilm GFX sensor with the GF 23mm f/4 and so I heartily recommend the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 and its GF 110mm f/2 sibling as the cream of the crop of the GF lineup. Those are the two lenses that I would buy first.

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Format Shootout: Fujifilm GFX + 23mm f/4 vs Sony A7R II + 12-24mm f/4

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

In Medium Format, I take a stab at assessing the image quality of the Fujifilm GFX against the Sony A7R II:

Shootout: Fujifilm GFX vs Sony A7R II (Pescadero Creek, Downstream)

I utilize the image below from each series:

The comparison is imperfect—it cannot be perfect given different aspect ratios, lenses and their distortion, etc, but the tripod position was fixed and it is remarkably interesting to compare the two—42 megapixels versus 50 on different sensor sizes.

What happens if Sony delivers an improved sensor and improved (less 'cooked') image file quality at, say, 72 megapixels? That would be interesting at full resolution, let alone the implications of oversampling at 72MP and then downsampling to 50.

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Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R WR Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek, Downstream

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

The Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 turns out to be rewarding, with a superlative performance. Only a focus stack could have fully dealt with this scene, which is an extreme near-far composition with the rock in the immediate foreground right under the camera.

Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 Aperture Series: Pescadero Creek, Downstream

Includes images up to full resolution from f/4 through f/13.

I heartily recommend the Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 and its GF 110mm f/2 sibling as the cream of the crop of the GF lineup. Those are the two lenses that I would buy first.

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The Logjam Breaks: Nikon Discusses the D850

I’m a little confused by the conflation of “development” which implies a work in progress but not far along, and “upcoming release”. If I told my kids (when they were 2) on Jan 1st that Santa Claus was “upcoming”, they surely would think tomorrow, not about 358 days later. So I wonder what Nikon means by it.

Information regarding the release of this product will be announced at a later date.

Announcing an announcement suggests to 9 to 18 months off. But that’s big improvement over “is Nikon dead yet” and maybe it’s really 6 to 12 months.

Looks like the D850 is a strip-tease dribble-it-out marketing thing, since there is no timeline and no technical detail of any kind. The year it goes on sale isn’t even listed. Maybe Nikon will, for the first time ever, contact me and ask me to find as many bugs as I can? Ha ha.

My expectations are very high (see “expectations” in the pres release)—will the D850 exceed them? Just to meet my expectations, I need to see a high-res EVF option and at least 46 megapixels with the same per-pixel quality as the D810, along with superior attention given to dark shadow detail and a retina-grade rear LCD. Somehow I think my expectations are not likely to be met. Well, that’s OK as long as it wins on several other fronts.

The 8K time lapse shot with the D850 is impressive, sort of: if only Nikon had the sense to present it in 4K... dear Nikon why does my iMac 5K (3 year old technology) make your video look like it’s not sharp? I mean, 1440p is ok for low-res displays, but c'mon even my laptop has 2880 X 1800 resolution and my iMac 5K has 5120 X 2880. I’ll just have to hope that the D850 really is as good as claimed, because showing 1440p is lame when it’s claimed to be 8K.

Screen grab from Nikon D850 time lapse

DEVELOPMENT OF DIGITAL SLR CAMERA NIKON D850

MELVILLE, NY (July 25, 2017) –- Nikon Inc. is pleased to announce the development of the next generation full-frame, high-resolution, high-speed digital SLR cameras with the upcoming release of the highly anticipated Nikon D850. This announcement coincides with Nikon’s 100th anniversary of its establishment, which is celebrated today.

The D850 will be a formidable tool for creators who will not compromise on exceptional image quality and versatility, including both aspiring and professional photographers as well as hobbyists who capture landscapes, weddings, sports, fashion, commercial imagery and multimedia content creators.

The D850 is the successor to the D810, which has been highly praised by its users for offering extremely sharp and clear rendering, with rich tone characteristics. This powerful new FX-format digital SLR camera is engineered with a range of new technologies, features and performance enhancements that are a direct result of feedback from users, who demand the very best from their camera equipment. The D850 will exceed the expectations of the vast range of photographers that seek the high resolution and high-speed capabilities that only a Nikon of this caliber complemented by NIKKOR lenses can offer. To learn more about the Nikon D850, please visit nikonusa.com/d850.Information regarding the release of this product will be announced at a later date.

Nikon 100 Year Anniversary

Since the company was established in 1917, Nikon has cultivated its status as a pioneer of optical technologies around the world. Guided by a corporate philosophy of “Trustworthiness and Creativity,” Nikon provides a wide range of products and services globally by harnessing advanced opto-electronics and precision technologies. Nikon is proud to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2017. For more information about Nikon’s 100th Anniversary, please visit www.nikonusa.com/100th

About Nikon

Nikon, At the Heart of the Image™. Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo imaging technology; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enables users to tell their stories through amazing photos and videos. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories; Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; 35mm film SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics as well as the Nikon 1 compact interchangeable lens camera system and KeyMission line of action cameras. Nikon Corporation, the parent company of Nikon Inc., recently announced the production of 100 million NIKKOR lenses in 2016, creating a new milestone in Nikon’s heritage of superior optics. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers to the Web's most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon and other photographers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo and Flickr.

Shootout: Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 (Pescadero Creek, Sony A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This shootout pits the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 against the Sony 12-24mm f/4G zoom.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Shootout: Pescadero Creek, Downstream

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

Sony is making some good lenses these days, and thabout $1699 Sony 12-24m f/4 Ge covers a range that has been very hard to cover. How does it stack up against the about $1499 Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 Distagon?

   
Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 and Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
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Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series @ 12mm: Pescadero Creek, Upstream (Sony A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

The 12mm focal length is not easy to do well. Canon’s 11-24mm f/4L is a very fine lens, but it costs a lot more and is very large and heavy. Sony has done a good job, but there is something to be desired. Still, the size and weight proposition and some stopping down are all reasonable things.

This aperture series with the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G at 12mm explores near-to-far performance.

It also includes a two-frame focus stack at f/1 for which distortion was corrected, and how correcting distortion affects the micro contrast, made possible by the f/9 and f/13 frames which are not corrected for distortion.

Aperture Series at 12mm: Pescadero Creek, Upstream (with Focus Stack)

Includes images up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/13. Also, a 2-frame focus stack that corrects distortion is included for comparison with f/9 and f/13.

The about $1699 Sony 12-24mm f/4 G with its 12-17mm range to complement the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 makes a lot of sense. It’s a lens I’d like to have in my bag just for that 12-17mm range—I wish Sony had optimized as a 12-18mm and had forgotten about trying to do the 18-24mm range.

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Photo and Mac Computer Deals of Note

Some crazy-good deals here and also deals on prime items:

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SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
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Get a 5K Display for only $1499 PLUS a FREE COMPUTER

A 5K Display for only $1499 which includes a free computer... well it’s true—it’s called the iMac 5K and I consider it the best display on the market today.

Apple 27" iMac 5K

$1499 Apple 27" iMac with Retina 5K Display (Late 2015) with free expedited shipping

While this model has the 1TB hard drive (no SSD), you can boot it off an SSD like the OWC Envoy Pro EX or some other OWC SSD. and store image files on the hard drive. Add 16 or 32 or 64GB memory from OWC and perhaps some big storage, and you’re 'good'.

Point is, you get a fantastic display with a very fast computer—it’s a no brainer for anyone on a budget. Great for a high school or college student too!

See also:

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series @ 13mm: Pescadero Creek Side Pool (Sony A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

The 12mm focal length is not easy to do well.

Canon’s 11-24mm f/4L is a very fine lens, but it costs a lot more and is very large and heavy.

This aperture series with the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G at 13mm explores the near-to-far performance as well as what the lens can do in the outer zones and corners.

Aperture Series at 13mm: Pescadero Creek Side Pool (with Focus Stack)

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

A two frame focus stack that corrects distortion is included for comparison with f/9 and f/13.

The about $1699 Sony 12-24mm f/4 G looks to have some high-grade attributes with some foibles. More work coming soon will explore its limits across the zoom range. But it sure is handy to have that 12-17mm range to complement the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 and Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8.

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Sony 12-24mm f/4G Distortion: Uncorrected vs Corrected

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

See my distortion comparisons, uncorrected optical distortion versus distortion correction by Adobe Camera Raw.

In my review of the Sony 12-24mm f/4 G:

I’ll add other examples over the next few days.

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Shootout: Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 (Pescadero Creek, Sony A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

What I care about in the field is predictable performance: accurate focus, minimal field curvature, edge to edge sharpness. That way I can make the image I want to make with a high probability of success. The Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 does that for me. Can the Sony do the same?

This shootout pits the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 against the Sony 12-24mm f/4G zoom. It evaluates sharpness, field curvature, distortion and overall image quality.

Shootout: Sony 12-24mm f/4G vs Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8: Pescadero Creek Overview

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

The about about $1499 Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 remains a favorite—it’s a gem in performance and size and weight. I just wish that Zeiss would make an 11mm f/4 and 15mm f/2.8 Loxia. Setting aside the relative performance, its extra stop of lens speed is a BIG DEAL in dim light for focusing.

   
Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 and Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
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Reader Comment: Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED and Image Stabilization on a Tripod

Bill J writes:

I must commend you for an excellent review of the the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E. Information on focus shift compensation with the D810 is not readily available elsewhere and the section on focus shift is particularly helpful.

Under vibration reduction on page one of the review you mention Tripod Mode. The usual recommendation is to turn off VR when shooting on a tripod, but this is said by some to be not necessary with some lenses. I just bought this lens and find nothing about VR on a tripod in the manual. What is your recommendation when shooting on a tripod with this lens?

DIGLLOYD: with image stabilization enabled, there is no guarantee that a lens will not do Bad Things on a tripod with image stabilization (optical or in-body image stabilization) It is thus a Bad Idea to assume that the system has a 0% detection rate for tripod use.

The only guarantee is turning off image stabilization. I have seen too many brands and cameras ruin images when image stabilization is enabled.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED
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Reader Comment: Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G Right Side Blur

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

Kai O writes:

I’m a subscriber of your site and I noted that you had a “right side blurry” FE 12-24mm lens in your review.

I just bought one and see the exact same issue with my example. The 12-24 at all focal lengths has right side (top, edge and bottom) all blurry starting from approx right ¼ to 1/5 of the frame, otherwise left hand side and middle are stellar.

I wonder if you have received a replacement? Is this a wide spread issue? For me I’ll have to drive an hour to the city to return it and hope they got another copy available. I’m very disappointed with their QA.

...
I tested it against Voigtlander 12mm E mount, 15mm M mount, Loxia 21, Zeiss 2.8/21 ZF.2, Nikon 14-24 all on the same a7r2 body. None had right side blur so I can rule out problem from my camera, at least at native 12mm and 21mm.

DIGLLOYD: Lens symmetry and skew problems are a widespread issue, particularly with Sony lenses, but it is NOT just a Sony problem; witness the horrific Fujifilm 110mm f/2 I received just recently. But I would say that Sony lenses are frequently a source of symmetry issues.

Most symmetry issues go undetected because most shooters stop down and thus mask the issue, shrugging off small differences. Moreoever, most images are not of planar subjects. But the key areas that matter are straight-on shots of buildings, groups of people, distant landscape scenes, and similar.

It can be possible for a lens mount to be warped (even 10 microns is a problem) and thus cause blur on one side or corner. To rule that out, shoot known-good lens. If there is no problem, then that implicates the lens in question. The Sony A7R had a weak lens mount; the A7R II is far better.

Below, favorite target of mine is the mosaic as shown below. I can sight down the center line and shoot at 90° to the mosaic. This target is merciless in revealing all lens weaknesses or asymmetries and/or field curvature and distortion too.

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Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR Aperture Series: Face In Boulder (Good Lens Sample)

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Two weeks ago I reported on one of the worse “bad sample” lens I had ever seen in a decade of evaluating lenses.

With the replacement sample, I can now say that the about $2800 Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 is a very fine lens that should be in every GF shooter’s bag.

Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 Aperture Series: Face in Boulder (Good Sample)

Includes images up to full resolution from f/2 through f/13.

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Reader Comment: Sony A9 with Sigma MC11 Adapter + Canon EF Lenses

Roy P writes:

The latest firmware from Sigma for the MC-11 adapter (1.4) finally lets the Sony A9 to be used with Canon EF lenses. The A9 now works flawlessly with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L II, and 200-400mm f/4, even with the internal 1.4x extender. It likely works with shorter focal length lenses very well, too.

The focus accuracy with the A9 is excellent and tracking also seems to be working well at the high frame rates, but I have not tested the tracking for a subject that moves across the entire frame, or fast moving small subjects like birds in flight. The initial acquisition of focus is on par with a Canon 5DSR, may be just a hair slower. Definitely not in the league of the Canon 1DX II, which I am familiar with. The 5DSR rarely has to hunt; the A9 occasionally hunts. Both are way ahead of the A7R II, however.

Sigma MC-11 lens adapter for Canon EF to Sony E

So far, I have tested only with center AF. I don’t know if the other AF modes in the A9 can work with Canon lenses. Eye AF definitely does not – the camera gives a message saying it is not possible with the lens used.

Net-net, for anyone considering switching from Canon 5D models to Sony A9, the A9 will work with all their Canon glass just about as well as their existing Canon cameras, with the added benefit of higher frame rates, superior tracking, and most importantly, no blackouts. And the A9 is also better in some other ways – manual focus aids (focus peaking, live view), 4K video capabilities, ability to work with a much wider range of third party glass, etc. But some of the goodies the A9 provides, like Eye AF, flexible spot AF, and perhaps all of the 693 AF points, may not be available.

But for anyone who shoots with a 1DX / 1DX II, the speed of the initial focus acquisition is not quite there, and that means buying new and expensive Sony glass, and having to live with a very limited set of long focal length lenses for now. So it probably makes no sense for now.

DIGLLOYD: I have the about $249 Sigma MC-11, but I suppose I need to buy the Sigma USB Dock to get my MC-11 updated. I really dislike this trend to needing firmware updates for everything (cameras, cars, computers, etc), but I suppose it is inevitable and clearly it has an upside.

Roy P responds:

You don’t need the Sigma USB Dock (I don’t have one).

Just download and run the Sigma Optimization Pro app, connect the MC-11 directly to your computer when asked, and it upgrades the firmware. For whatever reason, Sigma doesn’t clarify this!

The Windows and Mac versions have different sub-version numbers (1.4.1 and 1.4.0). Only minor nuisance, you need a USB 2.0/3.0 cable with the smallest connector.

DIGLLOYD: excellent tip! I was not aware of this.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
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Sony A7R II Tripod Use: IBIS Damages Image Sharpness as it Always Has

Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G

I went shooting with the about $1699 Sony 12-24mm f/4G tonight, only to discover to my utter frustration as it grew dark that the series and comparisons I just shot had been done with IBIS enabled, which renders the results useless (damage was visible with a clear loss of sharpness).

The idea that IBIS has any use at all with multi-second exposures is dubious at best. I wish I could program the A7R II with a “Never use IBIS below 1/__ second".

Well, the night’s shoot is ruined—I will have to go reshoot. What a bummer since that delays things a day.

See On a Tripod With SteadyShot / Image Stabilization = Damaged Sharpness (Sony A7R, Through the Boulders).

Peter H writes:

I always thought that the reason IBIS degraded image sharpness on a tripod was because the IBIS system tried to (unsuccessfully) compensate for the vibration caused by the first shutter curtain; so, wouldn't using electronic first curtain mitigate this? I must be wrong about this as I presume you always shoot in electronic first curtain mode?

DIGLLOYD: with Sony, I always hoot with electronic first curtain shutter. That is, there is a mechanical closing curtain.

Gear menu #5 => 3-Front Curtain Shut.

Logic is a good starting point but logic rests on premises, that can be false (and sometimes I don’t know what I don’t know), so there is no substitute for verification—give it a shot. What I do know is that IBIS causes problems particularly for longer exposures, and thus the logic that IBIS should have no effect for the EFC shutter is incorrect.

See also:

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project: Computers and Computer Desk

For the genesis of this project, see My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project.

The #1 key goal of my Sprinter photography adventure van is to be able to work as efficiently in the van up high in the mountains as I can at home. That means a computer desk with my wide gamut workhorse NEC PA302W 30" display, driven by an Apple iMac (preferred) or Apple Mac Pro or MacBook Pro, with battery power sufficient for two days. Along with OWC peripherals for storage and more. With that in place, I can shoot in the field and publish at downtime (bad light middle of the day, night, etc).

See Sprinter Van: Desk Computer Layout in my Sprinter photography adventure van section.

Below,the table as shown is just a rough mockup for the width I have available (about 44 inches) and depth (about 30 inches), using a real table I already have. The actual installed table might not even have an outer-left leg, or at least it will be inset more, with the inner legs bolted to the van wall to save space and for rigid support (I’ve asked for a table that supports 250 pounds). The front will be shaped in a way that allows ideal positioning and will also round-off the corners. Prior to the upfitting process though, an initial trial run with this rectangular table is what I'll use to check out the fit and placement of things. Then I will design just the curvature I want of the front edge of the table. The chair will of course by a quality swiveling chair, like the Herman Miller Aeron.

* Tip: solar is an expensive non solution the money being far better spent on a bigger battery, or a 2nd alternator or a underbody diesel generator.

As shown below, the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock provides a Mini DisplayPort port for connecting the NEC PA302W (Apple adapter does not function for that). The Thunderbolt 3 Dock provides a host of other ports as well, adding five USB-A ports in addition to the 4 USB-A ports on the iMac 5K itself.

Lloyd Chambers' simulated photography working table for Sprinter photographic adventure van
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Reasons To Like the NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display

See my color management wishlist and get NEC PA302W at B&H Photo. Unless you already have the NEC calibrator and software, be sure to get the NEC PA302W BK-SV.

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut display 2560 X 1600

The NEC PA302W is my workhorse display on which I do all my photography work. It is a 30-inch 2560 X 1600 wide-gamut display with true hardware calibration (not faux calibration). The PA302W calibrates to within 1 delta-A accuracy (that’s for nerds, it means “amazingly accurate and your eyes are probably not that good”).

There is a lot to like about the NEC PA302W, which is why I consider it the finest display available today for evaluating and processing images (though the iMac 5K is my preferred display for viewing images). That is why I call it my workhorse display. The NEC PA302W is the display I will be installing in my mobile photography adventure van.

  • Screen resolution of 2560 X 1600 in a 30" form factor, for eye-friendly pixel density that allows me to quickly evaluate image sharpness. As well as the 1600-high thing: *way* better than 1440 (including the “looks like” 2560 X 1440 of the iMac 5K).
  • Color gamut that extends *way* beyond the AdobeRGB color space, important for making decisions on saturation and color subtlety, plus today’s printers are also beyond AdobeRGB gamut.
  • Neutral backlighting— the GB-R backlighting delivers a neutral gray—not the magenta-tinted “gray” W-LED displays that most calibration devices see as neutral, but is in fact tinted magenta to the human eye, or at least my eyes, which are unusually good for color discrimination.
  • Low glare—unlike the iMac 5K, the NEC PA302W has surface coating that works well in all sorts of lighting conditions, and does not display the walls behind my back.
  • 4-year warranty. Compare that to the abbreviated 1 year warranty Apple provides.

Below, check out that color gamut! The inside triangle is AdobeRGB, which falls far short of what the NEC PA302W offers. I use the 16-bit ProPhotoRGB color space for most of my work, outputting to AdobeRGB JPEG files unless the image is out of gamut in AdobeRGB.

Color gamut of NEC PA302W wide gamut display, full range calibration

See also:

NEC PA302W 30-inch wide-gamut display showing a bristlecone pine I shot one day

Leica M10: Moiré

Many thanks to the folks at PopFlash.Photo for the Leica M10 on loan. PopFlash.photo offers many accessories for Leica M and other brands, such as the Thumbs Up EP-MX for Leica M10 and the Leica Visoflex (Type 020) EVF.

See my Leica M wishlist.

Moiré can be an issue with many cameras (including the Fujifilm GFX), but the Leica M10 and Leica M240 and other M cameras are particularly prone to it. The question is whether it interferes with the typical shooting scenario. I saw all kinds of aliasing that I found bothersome in the Dana Lake examples with the M10. Most users might look past that, but as this example shows, the M cameras really need a higher-resolution sensor, for oversampling, which greatly reduces moiré issues.

Leica M10: Moiré

The 24-megapixel resolution of the Leica M10 (and M240 and its variants) can be a serious image quality problem that causes digital artifacts of all sorts. The argument that “24 megapixels is enough” sometimes means awareness and acceptance of the limitations, but sometimes it shows an ignorance of the issues involved, particularly with a sensor lacking any anti-aliasing filter (as with the all M cameras).

How many years will pass before Leica ups their image quality game? I did not say “resolution” there, but it is a fact that higher image quality has as a prerequisite resolution sufficient to minimize the moiré and color aliasing issues so often seen with Leica M (years of shooting prove that out well enough).

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OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

SHOOTOUT: Leica M10 vs Leica M240 ISO Series from 100 to 6400 (Fountain to Flowers to Tower)

Many thanks to the folks at PopFlash.Photo for the Leica M10 on loan. PopFlash.photo offers many accessories for Leica M and other brands, such as the Thumbs Up EP-MX for Leica M10 and the Leica Visoflex (Type 020) EVF.

See my Leica M wishlist.

Following my Saddlebag Lake field-shooting ISO series and the Dolls series, this dusk series shows the M10 and M240 ISO behavior for one of my favorite times of day to shoot—dusk.

M10 vs M240 ISO Series from 100 to 6400: Fountain to Flowers to Tower

Includes image at up to full resolution from ISO 100 through ISO 6400 for both cameras.

ALSO includes the full series (grayscale) for each of the red and green and blue color channels from the ProPhotoRGB color space as well as a gray gamma 2.2 grayscale series. Black and white shooters may find the color channels useful in seeing just how much better than M10 performs over the M240, in terms of the latitude for high quality black and white conversion.

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Upgrade Your Mac Memory
At much lower cost than Apple, with more options.
Lloyd recommends 64GB for iMac or Mac Pro for photography/videography.

SHOOTOUT: Leica M10 vs Leica M240 ISO Series from 100 to 6400 (Dolls)

Many thanks to the folks at PopFlash.Photo for the Leica M10 on loan. PopFlash.photo offers many accessories for Leica M and other brands, such as the Thumbs Up EP-MX for Leica M10 and the Leica Visoflex (Type 020) EVF.

See my Leica M wishlist.

Following my Saddlebag Lake field-shooting ISO series, this 'dolls' controlled comparison is a series I deem a definitive shootout between the Leica M10 and the Leica M240.

M10 vs M240 ISO Series from 100 to 6400: Dolls*

Includes image at full resolution (albeit cropped to 4K wide), from ISO 100 through ISO 6400 for both cameras.

ALSO includes the full series (grayscale) for each of the red and green and blue color channels from the ProPhotoRGB color space as well as a gray gamma 2.2 grayscale series. These series really delves into the notable differences between the two cameras in terms of noise. A few years of sensor advances are worth waiting for.

* I dedicate it to all the men whose wives would not let them keep dolls around.

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Blue channel from ProPhotoRGB color space
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Up to $500 off MacBook Pro At B&H Photo

B&H Photo has up to $500 off Macs. I recommend sticking with models that have 16GB memory.

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More Tests: 2017 iMac 5K and 2017 MacBook Pro

See my Mac wish list.

Lightroom and Photoshop users might find my recent tests interesting.

Quite a few new tests today.

2017 iMac 5K vs others: Lightroom mport 156 raw files and generate 1:1 previews
OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

Leica M10 ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 6400

Many thanks to the folks at PopFlash.Photo for the Leica M10 on loan. PopFlash.photo offers many accessories for Leica M and other brands, such as the Thumbs Up EP-MX for Leica M10 and the Leica Visoflex (Type 020) EVF.

See my Leica M wishlist.

I prefer to evaluate noise in terms of what it looks like for real shooting, that is, what if I were hiking and wanted to shoot handheld with sufficient shutter speed to minimize the risk of blur or for more depth of field: what would my results look like at, say, at ISO 800 or higher? Is this noise random and thus “film like” and does pattern noise show up. What about very blue lighting, or tungsten? And so on.

The lighting here was blue mountain shadow after the had resin, but still deep in shade—mostly skylight from a blue cloudless sky. Hence the red channel is of most interest as to how noise it gets. Such blue-light conditions are frequently found in the mountains, particularly in valleys and/or late in the year.

Leica M10 ISO Series from 100 to 6400: Saddlebag Lake Fresh Ice

Includes image up to full resolution from ISO 100 through ISO 6400.

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Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
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FOR SALE: Zeiss ZF 25mm f/2.8 IR-Distagon

See all my gear that is for sale.

Why am I selling? If I have to keep insuring gear, it costs me money every year to do so. And I am constantly cycling through new lenses and cameras—no time to shoot most of the gear I have. Collecting lenses is nice, but not in the cards for me. So when there is no ROI, as much as I’d like to keep it, I need to fund new gear relevant to the current market.

Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 IR-Distagon for sale

I’m putting a very special lens up for sale. It might not be one of a kind but there are very few around. This one has a regular Nikon F-mount and barrel just like the non-IR version. It is ZF (not ZF.2) so no CPU chip to fail either.

Special infrared-optimized lens coatings, see A/B examples.

Zeiss ZF 25mm f/2.8 IR-Distagon RARE ONE OF A KIND. Includes original box with "IR" sticker on it. Picked for me at Zeiss. Native mount on Nikon, trivially adapter to Canon and other brands since it is Nikon F-mount with aperture ring. $4800.

New additions for sale

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Reader Comment: Minimizing Power Usage for Travel (or Home)

Bruce M writes in reference to 2013 Mac Pro: Power Usage (Watts):

I too use a electricity usage meter to gauge ‘seat’ setup efficiency, and was questioning for the extra kick if this exact model would be worth it, vs a 2016/7 iMac or the ~50% performance hit with an uber efficient Macbook pro.

The monitor/display can make a huge difference, as I’m sure you know, and it might have been even more helpful to separate the two?

As I recall my LED Cinema/TB displays varied dramatically depending on brightness, with my notes suggesting usage ranges from 40~120w (~55w low brightness) for a Mini 2.0 (3,1). I settled on an AOC 40” 4k VA display and it uses only around 55w in a less bright ‘Uniformity’ mode, but unfortunately has no auto brightness sensor auto adjustment, which I really miss from the Apple display… It is not far off having 3x 27” displays @ 110dpi, which might add 100~250+ watts in a blaze of glory...

DIGLLOYD: I’m working on a more detailed discussion because power usage matters to my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van project. I am considering these three configurations which include a large display—I need a display with a large working area with low pixel density for evaluating images.

  • iMac with NEC PA272W display (NEC PA302W more desirable, but too wide for desk in van side by side with iMac).
  • 2013 Mac Pro with NEC PA302W.
  • 2015 MacBook Pro or 2017 MacBook Pro (preferred but an extra cost for me) with NEC PA302W.

I’m evaluating the power usage for these combinations. Obviously the MacBook Pro is best from a power usage standpoint but its miserly 16GB of memory is demonstrably a problem even on an iMac 5K; see 2017 iMac 5K: Photoshop Benchmarks, 64GB vs 8GB Memory.

A few quick observations:

  • The top-end 2017 15" MacBook Pro is efficient: I am measuring 15 watts at idle with screen lit up, with up to 75 watts going all out on CPUs. Even more efficient than the Apple AC power brick on an inverter, a vehicle with a 12V socket can use the BatPower USB-C adapter. Using the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock under full load sucks up an additional 32 watts when under full load (and doesn't even get warm), but the MacBook Pro runs faster than with the Apple power supply! When idle the overhead of the Dock is only 11 watts. While the TB3 dock is useful for avoiding the MacBook Pro dongle hassle, it suggests that direct-powering the MBP via the Apple adapter is more power efficient but less performant. Apple’s tech note says that the highest-power device will be preferred for charging—and that seems to be the TB3 Dock even though the Apple power brick is rated higher for power output—Apple bug?
  • The 2017 iMac 5K is highly efficient, drawing 54 watts at idle with the screen lit up (versus about 62 watts for the 2015 iMac 5K), and only 20 watts while with the display blanked. This is incredibly efficient given that my NEC displays use 70 to 90 watts all by themselves. The 2017 iMac 5K peaks at about 140 watts when doing a Lightroom Export (averaging about 125 watts during). It probably goes higher if all CPUs and the GPU are worked hard, but my normal workflow never gets beyond about 145 watts.
  • Displays like my NEC PA 302W workhorse display vary depending on brightness level, but take up to 90 watts or so.
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