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Which 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro for Photography and General Use?

A friend recently was buying a 13-inch 2017 Apple MacBook Pro. He went through an iteration or two of models, so let me cut to the chase here, for the benefit of anyone considering a similar purchase:

The only 13-inch MacBook Pro that I would consider is the NON touchbar model 2.5 GHz / 1TB SSD / 16GB memory.

See also the MacBook Pro touchbar and review of the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro.

The 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2TB SSD is a whopping $1500 off. While the 2017 model is a little faster, that’s a very large discount (2017 model has no discount at all as I write this)—and a 2TB internal SSD is a must-have for me (1TB not enough). Plus that internal SSD is non-replaceable and blazingly fast.

Recommended 2017 Apple 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro

Off Topic: Keep Your Lungs Healthy: Particulate Face Mask

You might not realize how much dirt is thrown up by traffic or wind, and it all goes right into the lung. The evidence in double centuries is dirt-brown-faced riders (sunblock picks up dirt and dust) at the end of a double century. And for me, it also means bronchospasms.

So I no longer ride in conditions involving heavy traffic, dust storms, or high pollen condidtions without using an N100 face mask. Today I mowed my lawn (very large, dry, dusty) and wore a face mask—no bronchospasms and the mask was brown when done.

You don’t want crap in your lungs—ever—really fine stuff (10 microns and smaller) goes in and never comes out. Surely lung cancer risk increases over a long period of time, if not asthma and bronchospasms immediately.

I used a crummy face mask for about 50 miles while riding the 2017 Southern Inyo Double Century—with a big brown cloud of dust and toxins from Owens Lake in the air—and no bronchospasms. I rode the 2018 Joshua Tree Double Century for 50 miles or so with an N100 face mask (particularly along the interstate) and no bronchospasms.

The face mask I use and find comfortable even under heavy exertion is the 3M Particular Respirator 8233, N100. I suggest buying a 4-pack of 3M Particular Respirator 8233, N100. It is relatively durable too, so it can be used many times. It seals up really well, far better than N95 or other inferior face masks.

3M Particular Respirator 8233, N100

Email Server Swapped Over, Hoping for No Issues

About 5 days ago I reported on some site issues. I’ve rejiggered my email server and it all seems to be working properly, but that is as yet unproven to my satisfaction (not on my end, but the Comcast connection). Let me know at my alternate email address @me.com if you send me an email and it goes unanswered.

Today I swapped the email server over, after 5 hours of Comcast hell. Comcast technical support is an oxymoron: they don’t know even the rudiments of port mapping and NAT and can scarcely comprehend a static IP, but one of them was so belligerent he was willing to argue, believe it or not. Still, two of four were at least honest, even if they had no answers.

The worst part is that the Comcast cable modems *all* have a serious bug in routing local LAN to WAN IP and back—I found that 5 or 6 years ago and it still fails even after I supplied all the technical details to Comcast Level 2 support. Upshot is that I have a workable solution (with work/home hassles of reconfiguration). It’s a temporary solution—I’m going to relocate the servers—dealing with Comcast is worse than a root canal. Dang I’d love to dump Comcast and have 10 times the speed for 1/6 the price that a friend of mine has (gigabit fiber).

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Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M Aperture Series: Sunset for a Dead Pine (M240)

Get Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M at B&H Photo.

This series assesses the Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M through f/9 on a far distance scene. results at distance show just how strikingly good today’s $300 lenses are compared to 80-year-old lens designs, although perhaps there were better 90mm lens designs back then, and ones trying to avoid soft focus.

Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M Aperture Series: Sunset for a Dead Pine

Includes the aperture series f/ 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 3.2, 4.5, 6.3, 9 at sizes up to full camera resolution.

Sunset for a Dead Pine
f2.2 @ 1/3000 sec, ISO 200; 2018-06-14 19:37:52
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M

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David C writes:

Could it be that you accidentally substituted a jpeg from an old cellphone for the thambar-m image you intended? at least on my screen “soft” doesn’t really go far enough.

DIGLLOYD: a cell phone would be tharper.

Dan M writes in response to my comment “While it is surely a specialty optic, it’s hard to conceive of paying $6500 for a lens designed for inferior performance when world-class performance in a Zeiss Otus costs at most about $4500.”

For those images you posted just now? That’s taking $6,500 out on the front lawn and burning it. Well, maybe pooping on it first, then burning it.

DIGLLOYD: not for Leica collectors—they’re loving it (isn’t that the phrase McDonald’ uses? Which seems appropriate compared to regular Leica glass).

Peter K writes:

This comparison is not completely fair, because in 1930 Leica introduced this LEICA Thambar 90mm/2.2 only as a soft-focus lens and not as a 'normal' lens.

I have to admit that until today I haven’t seen a single picture made with the LEICA Thambar 90mm/2.2 that makes me smile]. In 1931 Leica had a 'normal' LEICA Elmar 90mm/4.0 in their program. You can assume this lens gives different results compared with the LEICA Thambar 90mm/2.2.

DIGLLOYD: also, Leica has single-coated the lens elements on the modern Thamber. Also, an f/4 lens is necessarily better, and indeed the Thambar 90/2.2 improves a lot by f/4, though it is still a very weak performer.

Jason W writes:

I agree with your evaluation of the subject qualities of the Thambar, but couldn't one produce a highly similar diffusion effect with a $20 pro mist filter?

DIGLLOYD: probably the mist filter would be sharper, and different as well, which does not mean less pleasing. I was thinking of vaseline on a filter also.

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Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M Aperture Series: Robust Green Growth in High Mountain Meadow (M240)

Get Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M at B&H Photo.

This series assesses the Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M across its entire aperture range, starting with the pronounced dreamy veiling haze effect at wider apertures, on down to f/25.

Aperture Series: Robust Green Growth in High Mountain Meadow

Includes the full aperture series, f/: 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 3.2, 4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.5, 18, 25 at sizes up to full camera resolution.

These Spring Corn Lilies (Veratrum californicum) are gorgeous and very common at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada, which does not lessen their appeal. This stand of them was particularly robust. As soon as the snow recedes, they pop up out of the ground on cue, sometimes right through a lingering thin layer of snow.

Spring Corn Lilies (Veratrum californicum) in High Mountain Meadow
f2.2 @ 1/180 sec, ISO 200; 2018-06-14 19:29:33
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Death Valley Eureka Dunes in Infrared

I’ve been pondering trying infrared again because I really like the rendering of some images. So I went back and reprocessed some images from 2007.

Death Valley: Eureka Dunes in Infrared

The 50-megapixel Canon 5Ds R should do nicely (or the Nikon D810 or D850), but for now I need to keep both in color for review purposes, and I can’t afford to buy a 2nd one.

As for myself, I have no interest in shooting anything at less than 24 megapixels (bare, inadequate minimum, 16 megapixels will fill 1/3 of an 8K display, which are coming in a year or two).

If you want the best, convert a Hasselblad X1D to infrared or a high-res Canon or Nikon DSLR. A Sony A7R III would be a fine candidate, but might have infrared bleed issues internally.

See my diglloyd Digital Infrared Photography, still a useful guide and how-to, even if it does not add new cameras—things are pretty much the same, the factors being (a) spectral cutoff, (b) sensor noise, (c) processing techniques. Why don’t I review converted infrared cameras for diglloyd Digital Infrared Photography? Simple—no ROI—it’s a costly exercise and these days I have no wiggle room at all.

At Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park
f9 @ 1/200 sec, ISO 200; 2007-02-24 13:35:54
Canon EOS 5D + Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 24mm

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Rebates on Many Zeiss Lenses

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Big discounts on many terrific Zeiss lenses are now up.

Bookmark my top deals pages to see deals for many brands, updated daily.

There is also a new ZEISS landing page at B&H Photo which notes the characteristics of each Zeiss lens.

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

OWC announces mission with Splash to bring clean water to children

I take clean safe drinking water for granted—well, not all the time and I almost never drink from the tap, which tastes bad, being full of chloramine.

OWC wants to make a difference. Together with Splash, a highly reputable international clean water charity, OWC is looking to make a lasting impact on the lives of kids, their families, and the larger community. OWC's goal of raising $250,000, and commitment to match funds up to $125,000, OWC aims to make clean water, clean hands, and clean toilets a reality for kids living in some of the biggest, toughest cities in the world.

Today, over 1.8 billion people lack consistent access to clean water and 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. The urban water crisis affects everyone, but with a much harsher impact on kids. Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Splash ensures clean water flows from taps, teaches kids the importance of washing their hands with soap, and provides students with access to safe and sanitary restrooms. Join OWC and Splash to empower kids to hold their futures in their own, clean hands, and end the deadly impact of water borne-diseases and viruses. Will you help us bring clean water to kids? Every donation helps to make a Splash! Learn more at www.splash.org
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OWC is celebrating its 30th year of service by partnering with Splash to raise funds to help a great cause. OWC was founded with the drive to provide solutions for the needs of our customers. After learning about the work Splash is doing to help kids and communities, we knew that this was not just a great cause, but a true solution for one of the most basic needs of all: access to clean water and sanitation. With access to clean water, the lives and health of children and the communities they live in are improved dramatically. Clean water empowers independence and the opportunity to pursue one’s potential. Supporting this cause isn’t a one day “feel-good” event, it’s a solution that has a positive effect for generations.

OWC Founder and CEO Larry O’Connor said “OWC has been committed to green practices since our inception, and as we celebrate 30 years in business, we renew that commitment by supporting Splash, who are bringing clean water and improved sanitation to children across the globe. These solutions will have lasting impact for generations, and empower independence and better living opportunities.”

All funds raised go directly to water, sanitation, and hygiene projects to support kids living in urban poverty. Keep an eye out for exclusive updates on how your donations are being used and the communities we’ve helped.

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Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M: Focusing Challenges, with examples

Get Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M at B&H Photo.

Focusing the Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M is exceptionally difficult—this is not a lens that will ever snap into focus. That is ironic because the raison d^etre of the Thambar 90/2.2 is the combination of some sharpness with what I’ll just call a “haze effect” (caused by many optical aberrations and high veiling flare). So getting focus right is critical, or the whole image becomes an unfocused blurry blob.

Focusing the Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M (with examples)

Two examples are included, one portrait, one landscape. Images up to full camera resolution so the 0% or so MTF for fine details can be seen. I have more stuff coming, including aperture series with and without the center filter.

I’d say, think very hard unless the visual effects are something you must have in your repertoire, Me, I’d be infinitely more interested in the Leica 75mm f/1.25 Noctilux (coming soon for review). Still, there are certain types of portraiture where it might apply (boudoir?), or bucolic/idyllic scenes where the intent is to evoke a sense of timelessness. Not my style, but I am sure some striking images could be made.

On a separate note, it is striking to me just how poor the Leica M240 is for making portraits: the shutter delay and blackout time is unacceptable because it makes capturing the right expression hit-and-miss at best—Sony with Zeiss Loxia (or an autofocus lens with Eye EF to boot) is so much superior it’s not even funny.

Dee Sickles, LMT, MMT
f2.2 @ 1/45 sec, ISO 400; 2018-06-10 20:32:17
LEICA M (Typ 240) + Leica Thambar 90mm f/2.2

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When it Rains, it Pours: Server Issues Delay Email and Website Updates, Blown-Off Steering Hose in Sprinter

I am deleting all emails over 64K that are sent to me, so please do not send anything other than very small plain text emails. Response to subscriptions likely to be delayed. Reasons follow below.


When it rains, it pours, so they say. Only it has been up to 109°F while traveling (Las Vegas).

I had some lingering physical issues from my bike crash that needed addressing: mashed ribs impairing breathing on the right side of my chest, twisted torso (partly from mashed ribs on the right side), and a few other things. That took me 6 days including travel time of a day each way. Much better now, it was time well spent.

Returning towards home yesterday, the power steering hose of my Mercedes Sprinter blew off deep into Wyman Canyon, dumping all power steering fluid across the lower half of the radiator (smells nice too). And eliminating all planned shooting for then and today and tomorrow. I manhandled the Sprinter out of the canyon (quite a workout!) and back from Deep Springs area on Hwy 168 over to Big Pine, then to Bishop. Two hours to determine what kind of power steering fluid to use, and then two grubby hours under the Sprinter underbody getting the hose back on trying to avoid burns, this time with some stainless steel screw camps instead of the toy spring clamp that was on the hose. But the manual did not state how much steering fluid was needed and I could only buy 24 oz of it—half of what is needed. The steering worked again but sounded awful and no more was available in Bishop. This morning I drove to Mammoth Lakes and got a liter of Pentosin Hydraulic Fluid CHF11S (after many phone calls to find the right kind). But I overfilled not knowing the capacity and bled it out with rolled paper towels which took half an hour. Then I headed to Mercedes of Reno (3.5 hour drive with 4 road-work delays) to have my work checked out (better than stock, I think), and the fluid flushed/swapped with official. And while I am at it, a screw clamp on the top hose and 20K service, a bit early at 17K miles, but might as well drive away with confidence.

Well, it’s still raining.

For the past 3 days, my mail and git servers have been almost unusable; these run on a high speed wireless link and are not in the server room along with the web server. It turns out that newly-planted and very fast growing redwood trees* (up to 10 feet in a year) grew just enough in the past months and recently spurted even more, so as to nearly obliterate the wireless signal, rendering my ability to access my mail or git servers nearly zero. I’ll be moving those servers into the server room along with the web server, but this will take a few days.

* Redwood trees grow fast, and my neighbors, knowing exactly their prior Eucalyptus trees were wrecking my signal (I offered to help pay for removal), promptly planted and amply watered very large redwood trees in the same place after removing the Eucalyptus—the same neighbors with that multi-lingual “we welcome everyone” sign out front (meaning undocumented people, I guess)—but it seems that they do not consider neighbors. Though they are within their legal rights of course. Well the redwoods are growing like weeds now.

Bottom line: I am over in Reno with my Mercedes Sprinter being worked on (Merceces of Reno is terrific, very helpful on short notice!) and minimal ability to update my web content or even get email. Almost inoperable, so I apologize for delays in responding to emails or subscrptions. I have material to publish but yesterday I could not even read my email so posting images is problematic. A bit better luck today—I’ll see how it goes.

GoPro Hero 6: Zero Protection for front Lens Cover; Shatters in an Instant

Get GoPro Hero 6 at B&H Photo.

Very first usage, I dropped it onto pavement. It landed perfectly square on the front lens area, cracking the cover glass.

I do not understand why zero protection to the front—absolutely nothing but maybe 0.5mm of cheap plastic—no rubber bumper or nothin'.

Isn’t it a rough-and-tumble sports video camera?! Alas today’s videos are flawed; I shot them anyway on a very fast descent of Rock Creek from Mosquito Flat.

GoPro Hero 6 with cracked front lens cover

I won the Eastern Sierra double, and in under 3 days I have had complete recovery, so I did a 4800 foot climb today. Below, from today’s ride, my Team OWC (MacSales.com) sponsorship bike and wheels, which still needs OWC decals. The Moots Vamoots RSL + Lightweight Meilenstein wheels combo rides like a dream—I was able to do up to 50 mph on the descent and the bike tracks like it is on rails—feels so safe and sturdy compared to the prior bike, just awesome. And it’s even more comfortable for doubles than the old one (for sale).

Lloyd at Mosquito Flat (top of Rock Creek road)
f1.8 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 20; 2018-06-06 00:48:40
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8

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Up to 1527MB/s sustained performance

Arrived: Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M

Get Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M at B&H Photo.

Twenty aperture blades make for a nearly circular diaphragm. I’ll be shooting the Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 over the next few weeks. I want to make some unusual images with it as well as see what it can deliver for quality if pressed into service at f/6.3 and f/9.

I rather wish that other vendors would consider this awesome circular aperture, with its 20 blades. Even holding it, one has to look closely to see that it is not quite circular—very impressive.

Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2: 20 aperture blades make for a nearly perfect circular diaphragm

I’d never use the leather hard case, which also accommodates the center spot filter— a total nuisance in my pack.

Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2, as supplied (internal padded box)

On the Way for Testing: Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M

Get Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thamber-M at B&H Photo.

I know that reader Roy P has been waiting with bated breath for me to review this lens. That’s better than baited breath, since he does not fish. Sometimes I like non sequiturs.

Is there room in today’s market for “throwback retro” lenses? Leica must think so. But I for one would like to see Leica focus on bringing the M platform into the modern world with a built-in 4MP OLED EVF, no rangefinder at all, 45 megapixel sensor, and lenses totally optimized for the sensor.

The Leica 75mm f/1.25 Noctilux-M ASPH is a totally different animal and it is not yet available to me (waiting for loaner), so I thought I’d take a look at something of a similar focal length but entirely different in design.

At about $6495, the Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 brings “retro” of the 1930's to the Leica rangefinder platform, complete with single-coated lens elements and a leather case and center spot filter.

Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2
  • Leica M-Mount Lens
  • Aperture Range: f/2.2 to f/25
  • Distinct Soft Focus Image Quality
  • Center Spot Filter for Dramatic Effect
  • Single Coated Glass Elements
  • Manual Focus Design
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 3.3'
  • Stepless Aperture Ring
  • 20-Blade Diaphragm
  • Based on Original 1930s Design

While it is surely a specialty optic, it’s hard to conceive of paying $6500 for a lens designed for inferior performance when world-class performance in a Zeiss Otus costs at most about $4500. However, that is a feature and not a bug, according to Leica and there is always that hard leather case good for storing in some box or closet. So it seemed an interesting challenge to find something to love in the anti-Otus.

There is little point in comparing its performance to a traditional lens, whose design goals are high performance imagery. Rather, one has to ask whether it can deliver images that are compelling for their classic look, and then decide when and why that look is justified or useful or advisable.

I’ll be testing the about $6495 Leica 90mm f/2.2 Thambar-M on the Leica M240 (I’d prefer an M10 but what I own is an M240).


As per Leica.

With 4 elements in 3 groups, the single-coated elements will be prone to flare, but not overly so. Still, with stopping down contrast is likely to degrade to increasingly collimated rays which might interact with the sensor. Presumably Leica has taken steps to preserve the lens characteristics while avoiding undesirable interaction with a definitely non-retro recording medium.

Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2
Focal length: 90mm
Aperture scale: f/2.2 - f/25
Diaphragm blades: 20 blades
Number of elements/groups: 4 elements in 3 groups
Focusing range: 3.3 ft / 1 meter
Angular field: 27°
Image ratio at close range:            na
Filter thread: 49mm
Weight, nominal: 1.1 lb / 500g
Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.5in / 57.0 x 90.0 mm
List price: about $6495
Includes Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 Lens
Metal Front Lens Cap
Rear Lens Cap for M-Mount Lenses
Metal Lens Hood
Hard Leather Case (Vintage Brown)
Limited 3-Year Warranty

Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2

Leading the way in F1.4 brightness

Featuring the same optical design and distinct image quality as the original version from the 1930s, the Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 from Leica is an M-mount lens characterized by its unique soft focus look and use of a removable center spot filter to enhance the lens's dreamy qualities.

This portrait-length lens replicates the optical layout of the original, but improves upon its predecessor with single-coated glass elements for greater protection against the elements and corrosion.

This new version also sports a striking black paint finish and dual aperture scales, in white and red, to represent working with and without the removable center spot filter.

Straying from the clean and sharp quality Leica is best known for, the Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2 serves as an homage to the unique and creative lenses that makeup their heritage of producing truly striking and unmistakable imagery.

  • Dedicated to producing soft focus imagery, this unique lens can be used in conjunction with the included center spot filter to increase the drama of the dreamy effect for striking, ethereal image quality.
  • Based on the original Thambar from the 1930s, this updated version uses the same optical layout but features a single protective coating on the glass elements to guard against corrosion.
  • Deliberate under-correction of spherical aberration, along with a 20-blade diaphragm, produce a circular rendition of out-of-focus highlights along with an overall diffuse quality that becomes more exaggerated towards the edge of the frame.
  • Short telephoto focal length and bright f/2.2 maximum aperture are ideal for portraiture and isolating subject matter using shallow depth of field techniques.
  • Dual aperture scales, in red and white, represent working with and without the center spot filter in place. Additionally, the aperture ring is stepless for smooth, precise adjustment that is not limited by click-stops.
  • Manual focus design provides a minimum focusing distance of 3.3'.
  • Included vintage brown hard leather case further reinforces the classic look and nostalgia of this lens, and contains a storage pocket for the included center spot filter in the lid. Additionally, the included specially designed metal lens hood and metal front lens cap are felt lined to protect the metal body of the lens from scratches.
Leica Thambar-M 90mm f/2.2

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 24mm: Lloyd on Bleached Aspen Log

Get Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

This series at 24mm confirms and extends the results seen at 22/23/24mm.

I took this series to see how well the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art performed in terms of subject separation, in a vein similar to what I had done for the Zeiss Loxia 24mm f/2.4 in Zion Kolob Canyons.

I had not intended to publish this series, but it is a striking demonstration that to the extent the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art is outstanding at 14mm, it falls to pieces at 24mm, so much so that it is the best demonstration of all the series in the 22-24mm range at showing the weakness of the lens at 24mm.

In my review of the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art:

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 24mm: Lloyd on Bleached Aspen Log

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2.8 to f/16.

Lloyd on Bleached Aspen Log
f2.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 64; 2018-04-22 08:13:06
NIKON D850 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art @ 24mm

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Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 Aperture Series: Backlit Bare Aspen Trunks

Get Zeiss Milvus at B&H Photo.

I wanted something a bit more unadulterated here in terms of sky and lighting, but the cloud-cover actually makes it more challenging and a better demonstration. The backlit brilliance of the scene caught my eye directly, and then I wondered how the Milvus 35mm f/1.4 would deal with it—it seemed just the right fit.

The series looks at total imaging quality under difficult mid-day morning lighting: high contrast a very bright background sky, and white against black subject matter sure to call out any chromatic issues. My commentary revolves mainly around the total aesthetic of the lens rendering and the strikingly refined balancing of all optical tradeoffs, which transitions into world-class performance with stopping down.

In my review of the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4:

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/1.4 Aperture Series: Backlit Bare Aspen Trunks

Includes up to full resolution images from f/1.4 through f/16.

What a pity that in 2018 with DSLR cameras in decline, the lenses are by far the best ever (that is, that we had to wait this long). But what other people buy won’t stop me from preferring my DSLR of choice for landscape (Nikon D850 as I write this). That’s not to say I don’t also enjoy the Sony A7R III too, particularly with lenses like the superlative Zeiss Loxia 25mm f/2.4, but when actually shooting landscape with my usual care, the D850 rules in operational ways, and the lens selection is second to none. For many uses the A7R III rocks of course, as it does for quick grab shots while hiking and similar. Circumstances dictate the choice.

Shot near Bryce Canyon National Park in the nearby national forest. There are very large lava fields in the area that are less than 1000 years old, and are all but entirely barren. Yet pockets of trees like this exist among the fields, where the lava did not intrude. Camping (free) all over the many numerous roads, with quiet and peace, at lest here in late April.

Dead brush in Cottonwood Canyon wash, Death Valley National Park
f1.4 @ 1/8000 sec, ISO 64; 2018-04-22 07:52:23
NIKON D850 + Zeiss Milvus 1.4/35 ZF.2

[low-res image for bot]

Web Server Version Upgrade

I’ve upgraded the server to a new version, Tomcat 9.08. The change should be transparent to site visitors with no change in behavior, so please report any unusual behavior—noting that I might be bouncing the server repeatedly tonight (stopping and restarting) to check functionality.

FYI, I write all the backend code myself to make this website have its special features, such as Retina-grade images—I was a leader years ago in doing so, maybe the first site in the world to actually do it regularly and well.


For nerds, the Tomcat 9 <UpgradeProtocol>inside a <Connector> is unreliable, overwriting a ByteBuffer sporadically, and also generating errors in Safari sporadically (two distinct issues that appear to be unrelated). I’ve had to disable org.apache.coyote.http2.Http2Protocol, and after doing so, I’ve seen no further issues using HTTP/1.1. I might reenable it from time to time for testing now and then, but please contact me if you see unreliable behavior like Symptom #1.

<Connector ...
    <UpgradeProtocol className="org.apache.coyote.http2.Http2Protocol" />

While it tests OK if/when I enable HTTP/1.2, it just doesn’t work reliably over time. What a shame, since it should improve performance.

I cannot understand how the Tomcat team can ship a feature that shows itself to be unreliable with only 5 minutes of testing (well, then it goes away for an hour as well, so maybe that explains it). I had the same problem with Tomcat 8.5, but this is Tomcat 9.0.8 and JDK 10 (latest). I use a simple configuration, nothing oddball. Perhaps it is specific to my server’s operating system, but this seems doubtful.

Symptom #1:

Safari can't open the page. The error is: “The operation couldn’t be completed. kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork error 303” (kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork:303)

Symptom #2:

<will post when I reproduce the problem again — it involves an out of bounds access to a ByteBuffer inside the nio connector >

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 23mm: Dead Brush Closeup in Cottonwood Canyon Wash

Get Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art at B&H Photo.

This series at 24mm expands upon the results seen at distance in three other series at 22/23/24mm. Close-range is often a weak point for lenses, prime or zoom.

In my review of the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art:

Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Aperture Series @ 23mm: Dead Brush Closeup in Cottonwood Canyon Wash

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

This series and others are important to understanding how to get the best out of the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art, just as my review coverage of the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art was and is. A lens can be bought and used, but unless its behavior is understood, sub-optimal results are virtually guaranteed on 36/42/45/50 megapixels even with the best lenses. That is one goal I strive for in my reviews, which aim for practical working knowledge.

Dead brush in Cottonwood Canyon wash, Death Valley National Park
f2.8 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 31; 2018-03-30 17:32:24
NIKON D850 + Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art @ 23mm

[low-res image for bot]

OWC May Hard Drive and SSD Savings

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

Save up to 78% on internal, external, portable drives and more. Deals end May 30.

Many more items discounted than those shown below.

Terrific for external storage on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 are the Envoy Pro EX series SSDs.

MPG has two key recommendtions about hard drives:

  • Buy hard drives the next size up than need seems to call for, because larger hard drives are faster as they fill up (not an issue for SSDs).
  • Consider a drive a goner at 4+ years because the chances of failure rise dramatically—better to replace it with a newer (and much faster) drive.
OWC May Drive Savings

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