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The laptop usage is clear—and a great way to pocket all your stuff just in case the laptop disappears while traveling—but so compact is the Elektron that one might ponder affixing it in place to the rear of an iMac or Mac Mini with velcro.

TESTED: OWC Elektron USB-C SSD

The OWC Envoy Pro Elektron is the perfect add-on for anyone looking for ultra high performance for any computer with USB-C that is flagging in its internal storage. Being bootable, it is also a highly attractive upgrade for a clone backup of the system volume.

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Sigma I-Series Lenses: Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN, Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN, Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN for Sony Mirrorless and Leica L

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Canon and Nikon have positioned themselves as incompatible with a wide variety of Sigma lenses... that’s not exactly a plus for those mirrorless systems—being locked-into a single-vendor lens line is fine for a small casual system, but it is not a wise move for the medium/long term. My top pick in mirrorless is the Sony A7R IV.

Sigma I-Series lenses for Sony mirrorless and Leica L are now available for pre-order at B&H Photo. See the B&H Explora article for an overview.

Sigma I-Series lenses for Sony mirrorless and Leica L

These new I-Series lenses are about 2/3 the price of the f/1.4 Sigma Art series lenses and follow the Sigma 45mm f2.8 DG DN Contemporary, which I reviewed last year. Sigma has not ruled out higher-grade 'Art' lenses in similar form factors, but

I welcome lenses having a form factor better for walk-around photography, and I expect these lenses will deliver beautiful images, but for landscape photography my top priorities are negligible field curvature, freedom from focus shift, and corner-to-corner sharpness at least by f/5.6. It remains to be seen how well they perform for those demanding requirements.

Sigma 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary

An ultra-wide prime with an emphasis on portability, the Sony E-mount 24mm f/3.5 DG DN Contemporary Lens, from Sigma, is a versatile and highly compact lens well-suited to a variety of shooting tasks. Its sleek profile makes it ideal for walkaround shooting, especially for hiking or travel landscapes, as well as street and reportage applications.

Distinguishing itself from other wides, too, it features a 1:2 maximum magnification ratio and 4.25" minimum focusing distance for working with close-up subjects. Its optical design features both aspherical and low dispersion glass elements, which suppress a variety of aberrations and distortions for well-controlled and accurate rendering. Also, a Super Multi-Layer Coating helps to reduce ghosting and flare for improved color fidelity and contrast.

Sigma 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary

An inherently flexible focal length, the Sony E-mount 35mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Lens from Sigma is a sleek wide-angle prime pairing a bright design with a portable form factor. The standard wide field of view is useful for a broad array of subject types, including landscape, street, and reportage shooting, and the f/2 maximum aperture excels in challenging lighting and enables greater control over depth of field.

In terms of the optical design, three aspherical elements and one SLD element are used to minimize a variety of aberrations and distortion for sharp and accurate rendering. Also, a Super Multi-Layer Coating helps to control ghosting and flare for improved color fidelity and contrast. In regard to handling and focus, this lens features a stepping motor for quick and quiet AF performance that suits both photo and video applications. As an I Series lens, too, this lens features a manual aperture ring and all-metal barrel constriction for enhanced tactility. Additionally, there is a rounded nine-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh quality and the lens housing is also weather-sealed to suit working in inclement conditions.

Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary

Stylishly sleek, the Sony E-mount Sigma 65mm f/2 DG DN Contemporary Lens is a short-tele/long-normal prime offering a unique field of view well-suited to portraiture and selective everyday shooting. Complementing the slightly long focal length is a bright f/2 design that helps to maintain a portable form factor while also contributing to low-light performance and depth of field control. Optically, this 65mm f/2 includes a pair of aspherical elements and one low dispersion element in its design to control a variety of aberrations and achieve notable sharpness and clarity. A Super Multi-Layer Coating has also been applied, which reduces flare and ghosting for greater contrast.

Benefitting handling, this lens features a stepping motor for quick and quiet AF performance that suits both photo and video applications. As an I Series lens, too, this lens incorporates a manual aperture ring and all-metal barrel constriction into its design for enhanced tactility. Additionally, there is a rounded nine-blade diaphragm for smooth bokeh quality and the lens housing is also weather-sealed to suit working in inclement conditions.

Choosing compact lenses for demanding uses

Unless autofocus is a priority, I’d steer my readers to the 50mm and 65mm Voigtlander offerings. The Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-LANTHAR Aspherical has few peers, ditto for the Voigtlander 65mm f/2 Macro-APO-Lanthar Aspherical.

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Shootout @ 85mm: Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4, Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This 3-way shootout assesses three top 85mm lenses on the Sony A7R IV for sharpness across the frame and near to far, focus shift, field curvature, color correction and distortion.

With Sigma claiming de facto top honors in its marketing/sales pitch, what’s the performance reality at wider apertures, and stopped down a few stops?

Shootout @ 85mm: Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4, Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.4: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

Includes images from f/1.4 through f/8 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.

View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak
f5.6 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 100; 2020-11-11 15:42:37
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art RAW: LACA corrected

[low-res image for bot]

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Black Friday Deals

I am back from my trip and will be publishing more images and series soon. It was more of a convalescent trip than anything else—I had no strength for even a single long hike over the entire month. But I had perfect peace and quiet and beauty, which are ideal for gaining strength, which I think I've done, with an unexpected surge of energy the day after returning home. Most days I had to restrict myself to a few hundred yards of walking, though I did get in a few hikes up to 3 miles or so (which generally shut me down by 5:30 PM!). 12-14 hour per day sleep requirements were the norm.

Black Friday deals

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$2497 SAVE $300 = 10.0% Nikon Z 7 Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless
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Which Camera System 📷 is Best?
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Avoid costly mistakes and get the ideal system for your needs: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Shootout @ 18mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This shootout on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV complements First Ice on Beaver Pond with a near-to-far composition with focus very far out, to give both lenses a chance to show their behaviors, both in terms of focus shift and field curvature, and the best possible performance that each can deliver.

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/11 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM, sets the gold standard for ultra-wide lenses, zoom or prime against which all other lenses in this range now need to be referenced.

My field time with the Sony 12-24/2.8 GM has impressed the hell out of me. It’s going to deliver a wallop to my bank account, because there is no way in hell I am sending this lens back: the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is the holy grail of wide angles lenses: one lens that can do it all over the entire 12-24mm range, making prime lenses blush with embarrassment.

I drove down this canyon and hiked through beautiful sunlight backlighting... just in time for a pall of clouds to deaden the landscape. Well, on one of those unpredictable days when I have the energy, I have to shoot what nature presents.

View from Crooked Creek Canyon to White Mountain Peak
f8 @ 1/60 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-11 16:07:58
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 18mm
ENV: Crooked Creek Canyon, altitude 9350 ft / 2850 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +30 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This aperture series from f/1.4 to f/9 assesses sharpness across across-the-frame at very far distance, achieving results that show how cafeful focus placement matters.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/9 with crops.

Earth Shadow Rising Over Crooked Creek Research Station
f6.3 @ 1/4 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-09 17:56:29
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 10300 ft / 3139 m, 14°F / -10°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +50 Shadows, +40 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +15 Clarity, Chroma NR {5}

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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.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Starring Campito the feral horse grazing at dusk*, this aperture series from f/1.4 to f/5.6 assesses across-the-frame and near-to-far sharpness, secondary color correction, and focus shift. The lighting was extremely blue, which is always difficult challenge for a lens, the blue/violet spectrum being the most difficult to correct for. It does appear to be a factor.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/5.6 with crops.

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers very high performance, but it has some behaviors worth knowing about for optimal results.

Campito the Feral Stallion Grazing in Blue Dusk
f1.4 @ 1/320 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-11-09 17:47:42
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 14°F / -10°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Shadows, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Mining Hoist

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

This aperture series from f/1.4 to f/13 at relatively close distance assesses across-the-frame and near-to-far sharpness, secondary color correction, and focus shift.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Mining Hoist

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13 with crops. Shot in pixel shift mode for maximal detail.

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers very high performance, but it has some behaviors worth knowing about for optimal results.

Mining Hoist
f4.5 @ 1/40 sec electronic shutter pixel shift, ISO 100; 2020-11-16 17:22:14
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
ENV: just north of Death Valley, altitude 5160 ft / 1573 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, +30 Shadows, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

3-Way Shootout @ 24mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/4: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Compared here at 24mm on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art and the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4.

In First Ice on Beaver Pond, it was clear that the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM outperformed the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8. However, the Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.8 is a more recent design and my favorite of the Loxia lineup—might the 25mm prime lens be more competitive?

Shootout @ 24mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art vs Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/4": Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4 Distagon acquits itself well here, but with some undesirable behaviors (in a practical usability sense). The Sigma FE 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art shows clearly that the Sony 12-24/2.8 GM is easily the new king of the mountain.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced. If it’s not as good or better than just about all the prime lenses in its range, then I’ve not seen the right lens.

Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow
f9 @ 1/200 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 11:52:19
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 24mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, push 0.17 stops, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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Shootout @ 12mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

In Two Aspen, Lundy Canyon, it was clear that the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM has distinct professional grade advantages over its f/4 sibling. But for fully persuasive results, one has to see those advantages and others repeated on other scenes, hence this compelling head-to-head.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G sibling where flare resistance is also at a premium. Is what is seen in Two Aspen at least as good, and what about flare?

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced. If it’s not as good or better than just about all the prime lenses in its range, then I’ve not seen the right lens.

If only my condition had not started deterioriating two days after this was taken... as I finally publish this with some energy back, the late-fall beauty is now long gone.

Brilliant Backlit Beaver Pond Meadow
f9 @ 1/200 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 10:57:43
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 12mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 45°F / 7°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +30 Whites, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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Shootout @ 12mm: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Two Aspen

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Compared here on the 60-megapixel Sony A7R IV are the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to its Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G sibling. What do you get for your money, besides an extra stop of lens speed?

Shootout: Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G: Two Aspen

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 through f/13 with extensive crops and analysis.

The about $2998 Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is surely the best zoom lens of its kind ever produced.

Two Aspen, Lundy Canyon
f9 @ 1/13 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 07:41:55
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 12mm
ENV: Lundy Canyon, altitude 8050 ft / 2454 m, 28°F / -2°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.66 stops, +20 Shadows, -87 Highlights, +30 Whites, Color Luminance {Greens +50, Yellows +20}, +15 Clarity, USM {7,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

The Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art is surely a super portrait lens (with distortion correction for pincushion distortion), but how good is it for landscape photography?

This series evaluate medium-far distance performance from f/1.4 through f/11.

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Aperture Series: Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond

Includes images at up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/11 with crops and analysis.

Also updated is the distortion correction page with this scene at f/5.6 as an example:

Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art Distortion Correction Impact on Micro Contrast and Sharpness

The about $1199 Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art offers outstanding performance. My personal preference in optical terms is the somewhat unwieldy Sigma FE 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art, but the 85/1.4 is far easier to carry and handle.

Last Yellow Aspen at Edge Of Beaver Pond
f2.8 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 100; 2020-10-25 17:49:44
Sony A7R IV + Sigma FE 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art
RAW: Enhance Details, LACA corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +30 Whites, Color Luminance {Yellows +10}, +15 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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