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East Side of Yosemite Choked with Smoke, but to the South it is Clear

Please bookmark my camera and computer wish lists for shopping at B&H and/or Amazon.com, so I get credit.

I drove up Hwy 395 from Bishop to Lee Vining. A brisk and cool front had cleared out the air to around June Lake the night prior. But Lee Vining Canyon / Hwy 120 / Yosemite east entrance are choked with smoke, as is Lundy Canyon. It’s so thick that the mountainside cannot even be seen from within the canyon. Not sure where I’m headed now as the stink is intolerable.

Another desk-ranger at the Lee Vining visitor center was 100% clueless, telling me that “there are 48 fires in California and it’s smoky everywhere, why does it matter?”. Which was nonsense as I had just seen and driven through 90 miles of clear air to the south just prior. The only thing worse than an idiot is an idiot who thinks he knows something.

Yet another desk-ranger at the Lee Vining visitor center was telling visitors how they’d have wonderful views of Cathedral Peak, Tuolumne Meadows, etc.

Heavy Smoke in Lee Vining Canyon area
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So much for my plans to shoot in the Conness wilderness and Tenaya Canyon areas. Even down here the acrid smoke was very unpleasant. I turned around and headed down to Rock Creek.

Heavy Smoke in Lee Vining Canyon
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At least on August 14, the smoke from the Yosemite east / Lee Vining / Lundy area does not go much further south than June Lake. So go to Rock Creek and hike up here, it’s gorgeous. But bring mosquito repellant, because Mosquito Flat lives up to its billing. It is still spring in this area, with many flowers along the trail.

Sunset at Chickenfoot Lake
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Deep Discounts on 2015/2016 Macs at B&H Photo + Sony Mirrorless Deals

Apple must really want to move the 2016 models in particular, with up to $700 off the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Items shown below might not show the discount—click to view the item and its discount.

Separately, Sony has summer savings and trade-in deals.

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Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Aperture Series: Aspen by Creek

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

The about $2198 Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM offers the convenience of a zoom lens with strong performance and relatively compact size and weight. It has some weaknesses, but it can deliver beautiful and sharp results, as this aperture series from f/2.8 through f/11 shows.

Sony 16-35/2.8 GM Aperture Series @ 28mm: Aspen by Creek

Includes images up to full resolution.

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One Reader and Fujifilm GFX User Says that Fujifilm GFX 50s Stop-Down Behavior is Unchanged with the Firmware update.

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list and please bookmark my camera and computer wish lists for shopping at B&H and/or Amazon.com, so I get credit.

Regarding my post two days ago, Fujifilm GFX 50s Firmware Update Might Degrade Focusing by Stopping Down?.


Regarding

Chris D writes:

Just tested this claim with the old firmware, and then the new firmware after updating the camera. The new firmware does not alter the AF behavior with regard to the aperture - it’s exactly the same The lens does not focus at the selected aperture in AF.

DIGLLOYD: good news!

Reader Comment: NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display

See also Reasons To Like the NEC PA302W Wide Gamut Professional Display.

Get NEC PA302W at B&H Photo, be sure to get the BK-SV model which includes calibration software and hardware.

Get OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock at MacSales.com.

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”).

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

Susan E writes:

I am writing to share my first impression of the PA302W monitor and compare it with another 30'' wide-gamut monitor (HP Z30i) I've been using for a year.

I finally went ahead and bought the NEC PA302W monitor after seeing all your praises, and received it last night. My initial impression after using it for several hours was, WOW!

I was initially debating whether to get the 27'' or 30'' version as the price difference is huge. However, from my experience of using a 30'' wide-gamut monitor at work (HP Z30i) I find that the 30'' 16:10 monitor is superior in providing more workspace, and offers a more immersive experience. Since a great monitor is long-term investment, I eventually decided to get the 30'' version and I am now so satisfied.

The uniformity (after turning on uniformity compensation) of the PA302W is simply unmatched by the HP Z30i (still a $1k+ monitor) I use in my office -- being very sensitive to screen uniformity myself, I cannot see any uniformity issues on the PA302W while I can spot multiple white point and luminance uniformity issues on the Z30i. Besides, although both being wide-gamut monitors, I find the PA302W more accurate after calibration. The colors are just so dead-on and neutral, it even changed my sentiments and gave me stronger emotions when viewing the same pictures/videos, which really demonstrates the power of accurate colors. I'd use "luxurious" to describe the experience of using the PA302W.

Thank you for recommending this monitor and I look forward to many years of happy use of it!

DIGLLOYD: still my workhorse, I wrote this blog entry using the NEC PA302W in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van—it’s worth the trouble of taking it for its size and resolution and pixel density, uniformity and color accuracy, etc.

OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock port layout,
includes Mini DisplayPort for displays

David R writes:

I wanted to pass along the following about the use of my NEC PA-302 monitor. I originally purchased it about 2 1/2 years ago based on your review and attached it to my 2012 MacBook Pro. It did everything I wanted, had great resolution and because of the internal profiling with Spectraview I found the consistency between prints and the image on the monitor was amazingly good after discounting for the transmissive display versus the reflective print.

Looking, recently, to upgrade my MacBook Pro, I purchased a 2017 27” iMac pretty much maxed out, other than the RAM, and I upgraded that through OWC. All-in-all, not an inexpensive purchase. Unfortunately, I have found that with Apple’s implementation of the USB-C/Thunderbolt3 ports I can no longer display the NEC monitor at its full, native resolution.

I appear to be limited to using it through an Apple dongle that allows me to connect the NEC through an HDMI cable (and this is original HDMI, not HDMI2), thereby degrading the resolution on the NEC monitor. I spent an hour on the phone with Apple support and the person who I spoke with, although very pleasant, ultimately confirmed that there was no way for me to output the iMac to get full resolution since the NEC doesn’t, of course, support USB-C inputs.

This has been a big disappointment since, as good as the iMac display may be, it is not capable of being profiled internally as the NEC can, and can’t support the consistency of color accuracy that I prefer for my printing. Of course, I can still make a final evaluation on my lower res NEC, but this is, IMO, far from ideal. Now it appears my only option is to upgrade to either Eizo or the newer 4K resolution NEC at a cost of at least an additional $2,800. That’s a big hidden cost and thought your readers might want to know about this “gotcha" before “upgrading.” I understand that technology moves on, but it would have been nice if Apple would have protected legacy peripherals by provided a DisplayPort output from the new iMac. Apple seems to think that because they offer an LG display that can be mated to the new iMac, that’s good enough. Sadly, it’s not.

DIGLLOYD: Apple support has given David false information. It’s too bad that Apple support is so insular and ignorant to be unaware of 3rd party products. But I think this is the RULE not the exception: Apple attitude is that the only products that exist are their own. Apple support is NOT in the business of having a clue about non-Apple potentials.

The NEC PA302W works great and correctly via the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock—I personally used it this way on the 2017 iMac 5K, as shown in the picture in My Sprinter Photography Adventure Van Project: Which Mac? Experience Report / Proving it Out, shown here below also:

Apple 2017 iMac 5K + OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock driving NEC PA302W @ its native 2560 X 1600 resolution
Lloyd Chambers' simulated photography working table for Sprinter photographic adventure van

See also the following:

Color gamut of NEC PA302W wide gamut display, full range calibration
Which Camera System / Lenses Should Are Best?
✓ Get the ideal system for your needs: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Substantial discounts on Macs at B&H Photo + OWC Back to School Specials

View iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist. Not sure which Mac to get or how to configure it? Consult with MPG.

Check out these substantial discounts on Macs, below!

Bookmark these pages to quickly check for the latest deals (updated daily!).

Below, many of these Macs make great machines for that high-schooler or college student. If the budget allows, I recommend 16GB memory and at least 512GB SSD.

The $1399 Apple 27" iMac with Retina 5K Display (Late 2015) is a screaming deal for a fantastic display. Consider it a fantastic display with a free computer included.

Select items below, or see all OWC Back to School Specials.

 

Which Camera System / Lenses Should Are Best?
✓ Get the ideal system for your needs: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Fujifilm GFX 50s Firmware Update Might Degrade Focusing by Stopping Down?

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list and please bookmark my camera and computer wish lists for shopping at B&H and/or Amazon.com, so I get credit.

UPDATE: this note from Ahmed looks to be in error, see Chris D’s comment that follows.

Regarding the Fujifilm GFX 50s firmare update, Ahmed G writes:

Japanese guys from Fuji contacted me to say with the new firmware GFX will focus at the aperture you have selected.

It was always focusing wide open then stop down which made the focus shift.

But now it will focus at the selected aperture.At their firmware update info they did not mention it but it works :) I think they do not want it to be known as an update. Please try it your self and see.

DIGLLOYD: if true, this is terrible news. Focus shift with the Fujifilm lenses is minor and not a serious issue. So stopping down is a solution in search of a problem with other worse ramifications.

It means that if you want to shoot at say f/8 or f/11 or, you’ll have to twiddle the aperture open to focus, then close it down again to shoot. This is a problem even at f/4 or f/5.6. For manual focus or autofocus it’s a big problem. I spend all day wasting my time over and over doing this with Sony. It is a major hassle doing focus stacking with Sony for this reason; it simply cannot focus where desired with the lens stopped down.

No human eye or camera autofocus can precisely focus where desired when stopped down beyond about f/4. I know this from repeated problems with Sony and other cameras, manual focus or autofocus. It is easily proved: focus on some critical target at, say, f/8, then open up to full aperture and zoom in— most of the time it will be blurry there, showing that the camera cannot focus precisely when there is too much depth of field. Of course it cannot—that’s the whole point of depth of field—a deeper zone of critically sharp focus. The camera AF (or human eye) cannot tell focus at 30 feet from focus at 50 feet if f/8 or f/11 is making it equally sharp.

Chris D writes:

Just tested this claim with the old firmware, and then the new firmware after updating the camera. The new firmware does not alter the AF behavior with regard to the aperture - it’s exactly the same The lens does not focus at the selected aperture in AF.

DIGLLOYD: good!

Peter F writes:

I promise that this will be my last comment on the 1.11 firmware update I wrote to you about a few days ago, and is in response to Ahmed’s post on your blog today.

I updated, and today drove around 200 miles around South East England and made many photographs with the GFX and 63mm lens in a huge range of situations, interiors, outside close ups, middle distance and far distance scenes, at apertures from f2.8 thru to f22 and have been astounded by the extraordinarily consistent spot on focusing in all cases, from 15” away indoors, to infinity outdoors…and all distances in between, only using autofocus.

If the camera is now focusing at the taking aperture it’s doing an incredible job. The camera I now have working is the camera I dreamt of years ago...quite amazing, and I am an exhibiting professional who often makes prints 40” x 60” and larger. I’m stunned with the turnaround.

DIGLLOYD: sounds encouraging. However, claims that focus is spot on at f/8 (or f/22!) are misleading at best, because of the depth of field involved. One has to look at the zone of focus and where sits relative to the chosen point of focus. It is easy to have that zone too far or too close, and yet the “spot on” comment might well apply always or nearly so! So it sounds encouraging but I am not encouraged by this summary statement. One has to do the right test, which is to nail the focus at full aperture (focus that way), then stop down and shoot. Then compare that ideal result to 5 or 10 AF results focused at the taking aperture.

Eric B writes:

I don’t know about the GFX, because I cannot afford one either, but with my XT-2 if I use autofocus, shutter AF, and partially press the shutter release, it stops down to the shooting aperture.

If I set the camera to manual focus, turn off shutter AF in the menu, and use the AF-L button to focus (back button focus) it does not.

It stops down a tiny bit but certainly not to a shooting aperture of f/5.6 or smaller. when I use back button focus. If the camera is set to autofocus, either AFS or AFS, to stops down even with the AF-L button. It’s more complicated to explain than it is to do. In summary, with the XT-2, just set the camera to manual focus, turn off shutter AF, and use the AF-L button to focus. I’d love to know if it’s the same behavior as the GFX. I started using back button focus years ago with my D800E and except for fast moving situations, continue to use it. Your comments would be welcome.

DIGLLOYD: I've seen variable behavior and I’m dubious it is so simple—what I means is erratic behavior that may depend on lighting brightness and other factors, making it unpredictable as a reliable and predictable tool. But I don’t have an XT-2 to check. I also generally use only the rear AF-ON button. See my Sony setup guidelines for how I like to setup up Sony cameras; similar ideas apply to Fujifilm.

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

Patriarch Grove Road Still Blocked by Snow

Please bookmark my camera and computer wish lists for shopping at B&H and/or Amazon.com, so I get credit.

An FYI for anyone planning on visiting the Patriarch Grove in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest: shortly after the turnoff onto the ~1 mile road to the heart of Patriarch Grove, a snow drift still blocks the road, as shown below.

Parked in the lot here where this picture was taken, I once saw a visitor just drive around a similar blockage for quite a long way. I took several photographs as he drove by over the meadow, with clear license plate number, sent it all to the Forest Service, which did nothing about it AFAIK.

It’s no problem to visit the grove—the rest of it is snow free—just walk in and walk around. All sorts of interesting stuff abounds that does not require even going down this road. My general policy is this anyway: if it’s official, I don’t like to go there!

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OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM: Single Frame Performance at f/9 vs Focus Stacking at f/9 (Flowers Amid Bristlecones)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This comparison confirms Bristlecone Log Low View, this time comparing a single frame to a stacked image made with two frames at f/10.

Sony 16-35/2.8 GM: Imaging Performance @ 17mm, Single Frame vs Stacked: Flowers Amid Bristlecones

Includes images up to full resolution, with crops.

At 11,700' elevation, plants grow low to the ground and the flowers might be missed by the casual visitor. It is springtime in August at this elevation—delayed at least a month by the deep snows. I’ve seen many fewer ground animals (marmots and pika), so some might have perished.

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Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM: Single Frame Performance at f/9 vs Focus Stacking at f/9 (Bristlecone Log Low View)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

 
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

The about $2198 Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM offers the convenience of a zoom lens with good performance and relatively compact size and weight.

But how does one deal with outdoor scenes in which the depth of field of f/22 would be desirable, but f/22 is unavailable and both f/22 and f/16 would degrade the image unacceptably (by diffraction)? The answer is focus stacking

As this example makes obvious, depth of field even at 17mm at f/9 remains strictly limited. Using f/13 would help but also degrades the image by diffraction and still cannot deliver the required depth of field.

This comparison shows a 4-frame focus stacked image to a single frame taken at f/9, the frame delivering the sharpest rendering of the log.

Sony 16-35/2.8 GM: Imaging Performance @ 17mm, Single Frame vs Stacked: Bristlecone Log Low View

Includes images up to full resolution, with crops.

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Sprinter Photography Adventure Van by Moonlight, Cineo for Interior Lighting

It was a long day shooting and I got back late. I hesitated to make this shot, wanting to eat and rest, but the full moon presented too good an opportunity.

Note the superb match of the interior color balance to the moonlight: few LED lights can do that. I used the Cineo Matchbox with a 3200°K panel at about 1% output to illuminate the interior of the van; it has a 160° beam spread, perfect. Here it was powered by the optional 12V adapter; just plug into the vehicle socket and it can run a very long time, taking only 13 watts at 100% power.

The Cineo Matchbox and related products maintain color consistency from 1% to 100% with a CRI of 98 and TLCI of 99 for the 3200°K panel. It uses remote phosphor technology, which IMO is far superior to ordinary LED technology, not just for color quality but for the diffuse nature of lighting. At about $459, it is pricey (it was on sale for a while at B&H), but it is incredibly well built and compact for what it does—perfect for a van.

See also Cineo Matchbox and Dracast LED500 vs Daylight in DAP.

See my Sprinter Photography Adventure Van section at WindInMyFace.com.

Sprinter Photograph Adventure Van By Moonlight
(no upfitting as yet, maiden voyage)
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Peter W writes:

I am very interested in your Sprinter van adventure and have even looked into buying one in the UK.

A few suggestions:

1. The walls look a bit bare - perhaps a couple of your best pix?

2. A home is nothing without an espresso machine but I couldn’t see one - perhaps hidden behind the wall.

3. The acoustics look challenging for any decent hifi system so it might be best to avoid that and use headphones.

4. A small library of classic books for those long wet evenings. I suggest Emile Zola a French writer who revels in hardship. This is a great blog and I am enjoying your adventures very much vicariously of course.

DIGLLOYD: this its maiden voyage—it is basically a metal box with what I hauled to Reno when I bought it.

The walls are bare metal because the best way to do upfitting is to buy the cargo van. Otherwise you have to rip out interior stuff (crew van or passenger van versions). Upfitting will add acoustic and thermal insulation to fill out all those spaces and over that wallboard of some kind covered by a fabric of some kind. The acoustics should then be excellent, though I don’t plan on putting in a HiFi system.

I generally do not drink coffee except opportunistically. As for books, I have many in audio form.

Fujifilm Issues a Firmware Update Claiming Fixes for Two Focusing Bugs, AKA “phenomenon”

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list and please bookmark my camera and computer wish lists for shopping at B&H and/or Amazon.com, so I get credit.

Early on I reported on the Fujifilm GFX focusing problems. They were confusing, and by the looks of it, more than one problem. The idea of a bad camera was dubious, but was ruled out by reproducing the same issues with a 2nd camera and a 2nd 120/4 and the 63/2.8.

Detail of the update

The firmware update Ver.1.11 from Ver.1.10 incorporates the following issues:

1. The phenomenon is fixed that in the MF mode, repeated halfway shutter pressing can shift the focus point under a specific exposure condition.

2. The phenomenon is fixed that in the AF-S mode, repeated halfway shutter pressing can shift the focus point with SHUTTER AF setting OFF.

.Just a few of the pages showing problems with the GFX. We can now hope for stability

At present I do not have the budget to buy a GFX system. It might be a while before I am able to test the GFX again; B&H Photo has already generously loaned me the GFX three times (see my Fujifilm GFX wish list which clicks through to B&H, thanks).

To this day, not a peep from Fujifilm about my reporting on the issue (zero communication followup from my report to Fujifilm tech support where I described in detail the issues I was facing). That seems like poor customer service at best, and in a way, irresponsible: I was (AFAIK) the first one to report on focusing issues and it would only make sense if only from a business perspective to have someone with intimate knowledge of the behavior try out the firmware and give it the nod. At least that’s what I would do: see my critics as my best chance for making the best product possible.

Ahmed G writes:

Japanese guys from Fuji contacted me to say with the new firmware GFX will focus at the aperture you have selected.

It was always focusing wide open then stop down which made the focus shift.

But now it will focus at the selected aperture.At their firmware update info they did not mention it but it works :) I think they do not want it to be known as an update. Please try it your self and see.

DIGLLOYD: see more on this.

Peter F writes:

I have found your Medium Format posts over the last months extremely helpful in coming to a decision about Fujifilm GFX vs Hasselblad X1D and finally bought the Fujifilm last week with the 63mm lens, not withstanding your reservations particularly about focusing issues.

I have been very frustrated too with the wild inconsistency making many prints at 24” x 30” to observe the changes/errors.

I have noticed this morning that Fuji have released a firmware update for the GFX which appears to address some of the focusing problems of the camera, and which I’m updating now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for improvements, as my joy for the sensor is significant.

Just in case you haven’t had time to spot this, and thank you again as ever for your tireless work on our behalf!

DIGLLOYD: I’m very happy to see the development, as the GFX sensor is terrific.

Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Shootout @ 16mm: Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM vs 12-24mm f/4 G: Bristlecone Pines Amid White Mountain Strata

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

This work completed at 11,300' in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van.

 
Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

This 2-way comparison pits the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM against the Sony 12-24mm f/4 G using a subject with a lot of near-far depth to ferret out behavioral differences such as field curvature or focus shift.

Shootout @ 16mm: Sony 16-35/2.8 GM vs Sony 12-24/4 G: Bristlecone Pines Amid White Mountain Strata

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

The about $1698 Sony 12-24mm f/4G is a nicely versatile lens covering the ultrawide range.

The about $2198 Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM is significantly heavier and a bit larger. With quite a lot of overlap (16 to 24mm), one has to be clear on the desired range used most often—the 12-24mm pairs nicely with the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, without overlap. On the other hand, what if one wants f/2.8 for the 16-24mm range? It does get hard to focus at dusk with an f/4 lens.

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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.

Sprinter Van Delivered, Test Trip in Progress

Well, my Cayenne is for sale.

No longer a simulation, I worked some hours today in my Mercedes Sprinter photography adventure van on some materal for a future Lenspire article. No upfitting has been done—this is a raw unmodified Mercedes Sprinter cargo van with my gear in it that I drove to Reno with.

Shown below is a temporary desk with what I am using now: the NEC PA302W along with the my 2015 MacBook Pro. I am reconsidering my iMac 5K thinking in light of how to stow and protect the computer. Time will tell on that count—for most work the Macbook Pro is fine, it is very power efficient, it is trivially stowed and unstowed and it can be used standalone. Hopefully Apple will get their act together and offer one with 32GB (16GB is the MacBook Pro limit since forever), which is the only serious limitation.

Upfitting will be in two stages, with phase 1 including the incredible battery, the windows, thecork-insulated marine-grade flooring with tie-down hooks, roof fan and a few other things. Phase 2 will be the well-insulated (sounds, heat/cool) walls and ceiling, built in desk and cabinets, Cineo lighting, and finishing touches. I’m not rushing it—I want to not make mistakes in what goes in and what does not go in.

Bottom line: with the Sprinter van setup, I can work efficiently in the field just like at home. Did that today for 5 hours—very comfortable at least on a relatively cool day at 7000 feet elevation.

Regrettably, in spite of having a 100 amp auxiliary battery, the Mercedes Sprinter van has no 12V sockets connect directly to the auxiliary battery, so while one power outlet remains powered with the engine off, it is the main battery and makes the inverter complain after half an hour or so, indicating it does not like the voltage (or whatever). So I popped the hood, then clipped leads of the inverter directly to the auxiliary battery and ran an extension cord inside (the yellow one, as seen below). With that setup, the inverter has not made a peep for hours.

Computer desk in Mercedes Sprinter van—no upfitting as yet, temporary table and power
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Everything temporary except bed) as shown with no upfitting done as yet. The 44" long table fits with room to spare. Since this picture was taken, for safety I’ve strapped down the Yetis using the built-in tie-down hooks (dedicated tie-down points coming).

Mercedes Sprinter cargo van set up with bed on dual Yeti 210 coolers
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The bed fits almost exactly atop the two Yeti Tundra 210 coolers (see the schematic and discussion). One is used for its intended purpose as a cooler at the rear (drain plug just drains out with the van on an uphill slope), the other is for storage for the NEC PA302W and other stuff when traveling, well padded of course.

Mercedes Sprinter cargo van set up with bed on dual Yeti 210 coolers
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The expansive 180° view from driver’s seat of a Mercedes Sprinter van is an unintended pleasure that I had not anticipated. Very good for evaluating conditions and just plain enjoyable to drive around. The seat height is high enough so that on the paved road, I am looking at the tops of people’s heads in passenger cars.

Expansive 180° view from driver’s seat of Mercedes Sprinter van
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Mercedes Sprinter van purchased at Mercedes-Benz of Reno, NV
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Mercedes Sprinter van on Lundy Canyon Road
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I love the Cayenne, it is gorgeous and so well designed, but it is now for sale.

Storm Light Illuminates the Pepper

Fujifilm GF 110mmm f/2 R WR Aperture Series: Lone Pine, Waiting for Sunrise (UPDATE)

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

UPDATE 2017-08-04: I’ve added the RawDigger histogram, showing the 2 to 3 stop underexposure (plus shadow boost and push) that in my view make the Fujifilm GFX the best camera on the market today for dark exposures.

Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 Aperture Series: Lone Pine, Waiting for the Sunrise

Includes images up to full resolution at f/2, f/2.8, f/4.

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OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Ellery Lake at Dusk

See my Nikon wishlist and Zeiss DSLR lens wishlist ast B&H Photo.

I recently did some shooting with the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon, to re-establish my perspective on its performance. This series is one of those efforts.

This far distance scene is difficult for any f/1.4 lens. The Otus 28/1.4 is challenged by it, just as any wide angle would be. Total image quality requires some stopping down, as the series shows.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon Aperture Series: Ellery Lake at Dusk

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13 .

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USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

Nikon 28mm f/1.4E Aperture Series: Fishing Boats at Dawn, Lundy Lake

See my Nikon wishlist and get Nikon 28mm f/1.4E at B&H Photo.

This series tests the Nikon 28mm f/1.4E from near to very far range and includes a 4-frame focus stack at f/9, which is very interesting to compare to f/9 and f/13—it shows the limits of depth of field and why focus stacking should be a priority for many photographers.

Nikon 28mm f/1.4E ED Aperture Series: Fishing Boats at Dawn, Lundy Lake

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 through f/13 including the 4-frame focus stack image (Using Zerene Stacker), which is very impressive in what it delivers. I was lucky in having relatively still conditions so that touchup from motion issues was not hard.

See also Depth of Field Challenges: Bypass Limits with Focus Stacking, Near or Far, Macro or Landscape.

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Rigorously lab tested and OWC certified.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series @ 12mm: Melting Out Dana Lake #3 (A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

 

This series at 12mm, from f/4 through f/13 shows near to far field performance across the frame including how well close range sharpness delivers near the edges at close range. It shows a very common type of landscape scene with a near foreground and far background.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series: Raindrops Fall On Dana Lake

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

The about $1698 Sony 12-24mm f/4G is a nicely versatile lens covering the ultrawide range. At this point I can recommend it from 12mm to 18mm, with some reservations, but given its light weight and versatility and 12mm wide end, a definite recommendation.

This lake was free and clear at this time in 2016. In 2017, a layer of snow up to 40 feet thick covers the far end. The record 50 feet of snowfall was probably double that in this low spot, blown in from wind.

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Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series @ 12mm: Raindrops Fall on Dana Lake (A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

 

This series at 12mm, from f/4 through f/11 shows the far field performance across the frame as well as how well close range sharpness does near the edges at close range—quite a variance. The series makes clear how much stopping down is needed for peak results on a near-far scene like this.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series: Raindrops Fall On Dana Lake

Includes images up to full resolution from f/4 through f/11.

See also the uncorrected vs corrected distortion for this scene.

The about $1698 Sony 12-24mm f/4G is a nicely versatile lens covering the ultrawide range. At this point I can recommend it from 12mm to 18mm, but not at the long end.

This coming week, I will be shooting the Sony 12-24mm f/4G against the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, which has just arrived today.

I’m taking delivery of my Sprinter photography adventure van on August 5th in Reno, from thence before any upfitting it will get a trial run stubbed out with simple table and chair, bed platform, etc. I hope to publish from the field, as is my plan for the Sprinter van

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Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Arrived

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

See my summary of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM.

Just arrived, I’ll be shooting the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM over the next week. Key goals:

That’s a lot of work but should be not hard to shoot, just a lot of time to prepare and publish. But I hope to do at least some of it from the field, given the pickup of my Sprinter photography adventure van in Reno on Saturday. I’ve rented a minivan to take all my gear to Reno to load into the Sprinter van.

 

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series @ 17mm: Dana Lake Iceberg (A7R II)

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

 

This series looks at total imaging performance with a very difficult high contrast scene and extreme near-far subject matter which starts almost underfoot and extends to very far distance.

Sony 12-24mm f/4G Aperture Series: Dana Lake Iceberg

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

The about $1698 Sony 12-24mm f/4G is a nicely versatile lens covering the ultrawide range. At this point I can recommend it from 12mm to 18mm, but not at the long end.

This coming week, I will be shooting the Sony 12-24mm f/4G against the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, which has just arrived today.

I’m taking delivery of my Sprinter photography adventure van on August 5th in Reno, from thence before any upfitting it will get a trial run stubbed out with simple table and chair, bed platform, etc. I hope to publish from the field, as is my plan for the Sprinter van

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TSA Security Theater

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

This sounds like a nightmare, with a high risk of damage to gear and/or theft or loss.

NEW TSA RULES COULD MEAN MAJOR HEADACHES FOR TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHERS

TSA raising aviation security baseline with stronger domestic security measures

WASHINGTON* – To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation’s airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes. Following extensive testing and successful pilots at 10 airports, TSA plans to expand these measures to all U.S. airports during the weeks and months ahead.

Pure security theater. People are going to die from planes blowing up without a doubt—but this sort of approach is well known as useless by security experts. The real threats will come from unknown quarters, with government incompetence trailing the real threats by months or years.

* Acronym for “cesspool filled with parasites where nothing useful or beneficial happens”.

Gary M writes:

This is not the case if you’ve paid for TSA PreCheck. $85 for 5 years. A bargain to avoid stripping at the airport. For $15 more you can apply for Global Entry.

DIGLLOYD: excellent way for the Bad Guys to blow up a plane. Any decent professional terrorist would have pre-check as the first thing on his/her to-do list.

I don’t fly much, but I might have to sign up for the program if I did start flying with much camera gear.

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Fujifilm GF 110mmm f/2 R WR Aperture Series: Lone Pine, Waiting for Sunrise

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

UPDATE 2017-08-04: I’ve added the RawDigger histogram, showing the 2 to 3 stop underexposure (plus shadow boost and push) that in my view make the Fujifilm GFX the best camera on the market today for dark exposures.

This aperture series look at image quality of the Fujifilm GFX sensor and the GF 110mm f/4.

This performance is outstanding, both from lens and sensor. About as good as it gets. I am so impressed with what the GFX did here:

Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 Aperture Series: Lone Pine, Waiting for the Sunrise

Includes images up to full resolution at f/2, f/2.8, f/4.

On my recent trip, I did not have the troubles I had with the GFX with other lenses back in the spring—I wonder if some silent fix went into this GFX, which I received in early July. Or maybe the 23mm f/4 and 110mm f/2 incorporate some fix. Or maybe something I just don’t understand.

I’m now persuaded that the GFX system is what I would be shooting today for landscape (were I just shooting for my own pleasure)—provided that I could get a good symmetric (not problematic) copy of the 32-64mm f/4. Its image quality is just too good too ignore, beating out anything else out there except perhaps the Hasselblad X1D, but I think the GFX is better for dark scenes like this and I find the lack of a 4-way controller on the X1D highly irritating for the way I work in the field (where touchscreens are a bad joke, particularly in the cold).

My budget will not allow me to buy a GFX and lenses to have on hand. Pity that Fujifilm won’t just send me a long-term loaner system to have on hand (ditto for Hasselblad), but I don’t know if Fujifilm even knows I exist.

I will also say this: the Fujifilm GFX EVF is so far superior to the Sony A7R II that I now really dislike the A7R II EVF if I pick it up after shooting the GFX.

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