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Cambo Introduces Electronic Adapter for Canon EF Lenses on Fujifilm GFX

Thanks to reader Hans B for pointing this out.

Cambo CA-GFX lens adapter for Canon EF to Fujifilm GFX

Cambo has introduce the CA-GFX lens adapter, for adapting Canon EF lenses to the Fujifilm GFX. It can be used standalone; no Cambo Mini View Camera needed.

The CA-GFX will be the third Canon lens adapter that Cambo have manufactured and marketed for camera movement. Having successfully adapted Canon lenses to the Cambo ACTUS (ACB-CA) and more recently the WIDE series camera (WRES-CA.) It was a natural transition to manufacture the adapter as it gives many photographers the option of using their existing lenses with the latest mirrorless, large sensor, Fujifilm GFX50s (CA-GFX.)

The CA-GFX adapter fits directly to the bayonet of the GFX camera body and the lens aperture is controlled electronically when dialing in the required f-stop. As there is no direct connection between lens and body, there is no data received; aperture, auto-focus or EXIF, from the lens.

Why make this lens adapter?

The Fujifilm GFX50s sensor measures 33x44mm and Canon lenses such as the Canon 17mm TS-E and Canon 24mm TS-E have very large image circles, they will cover the sensor size and will enable the photographer to apply movement.

Cambo CA-GFX lens adapter for Canon EF to Fujifilm GFX

I applaud this development, but I caution readers to assume nothing about actual lens performance on the Fujifilm GFX when using adapted lenses; it is a matter of “try it and see if the quality holds up”.

That said, presumably much of the time the use of a shift lens involves f/11 or so, which can minimize issues of how a lens interacts with a non-native sensor (sensor meaning the sensor and its micro lenses, ray angle, and sensor cover glass thickness and refraction).

See also:


MacPerformanceGuide.com

Fujifilm GFX: Adapting Medium Format Lenses

See my discussion of adapting 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX.

Just prior to receiving this email, I tested the Hartblei 80mm f/2.8 Super Rotator (which uses Zeiss multi-coated medium format optics suitable for 6 X 6 camera) on the Fujifilm GFX.

John G writes:

I'm not yet a subscriber, but I'm very impressed with your work.

I'd like to suggest that some of the best DSLR lenses suited to being adapted to the FujiFilm GFX camera are Tilt-Shift models from Canon and Nikon, and possibly from Hartblei. The old Zeiss 28mm model is probably not as good, but I don't have any experience with it. Perhaps the super-sharp and highly corrected Canon 90mm T-SE lens would be a good candidate, assuming an electronically coupled adapter becomes available.

Please note that quite a few wide angle lenses have been tested for their larger image circle potential with lenshood and/or rear baffle removed, and some have been adapted with custom German-made T-S and double-shift adapters (and shaved or removed hoods) to the Sony E-mount by Stefan Steib of HCam. He is considering building an adapter for the FujiFilm GFX.

http://www.hcam.de/en/index.htm
https://www.facebook.com/HCamde-122001131245665/ https://www.facebook.com/122001131245665/photos/rpp.122001131245665/958286137617156/?type=3&theater

Thanks for all your excellent work.

DIGLLOYD: the image circle is a basic check as to whether the frame is fully illuminated, but says nothing about the imaging performance, which for some of the world’s best lenses is hugely disappointing, even in the central 36 X 24mm area.

As for 35mm tilt shift lenses, they might be OK, but if an Otus looks awful, I have little hope for lenses a whole tier lower in performance. Still, there might be some that work OK at f/11 but I have not explored that question. The main thing is that the latest Canon TS-E and Nikon PC-E lenses are all electronic apertures and thus of no practical use until and unless an electronic adapter appears.

I tested the Hartblei 80mm f/2.8 Super-Rotator, a lens picked for me some years ago by Stefan. It has the multicoated Zeiss optics suitable for the 6 X 6 format, which is more than ample coverage. Its main claim to fame is unrivalled bokeh. See Hartblei 40/80/120mm SuperRotators in Advanced DSLR. It needs some stopping down for good sharpness and has some mild field curvature, but is capable of exceptionally pleasing images on the Nikon D810.

I am sorry to report that its performance on the GFX suffers as most lenses do. Something about the GFX sensor (sensor and micro lenses, ray angle, cover glass) makes most lenses unhappy. Even at f/8 I deem it a disappointment, far below the quality I’m after (bokeh aside). The only lens so far out of ten that I deem satisfactory is the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.

I cannot make any proper claim as to how other medium format lenses might perform without testing them, but the same things that degrade so many fine lenses would apply to them as well, so I seriously doubt that good performance will result from any lens designed for film. The exception might be lenses designed for digital sensors, e.g., those made by Fujifilm for Hasselblad H over the past years.

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Evaluating 9 Top-End 35mm DSLR Lenses on the Fujifilm GFX

Two new pages in Medium Format:

I may add some additional simple examples and summary conclusions in Medium Format but (it has been a looong day) and the bottom line is that the Fujifilm GFX makes a poor platform for DSLR lenses, even the very best, like Zeiss Otus. For why this is so, see Adapting Lenses to the GFX: General Discussion.

The smart move is to stick with native-mount lenses, with certain specific exceptions.

Full lens evaluations always go into the native guide regardless of camera body used. The following aperture series were shot with the Fujifilm GFX and in total give a thorough view of what one might encounter in adapting a lens to the Fujifilm GFX. These are all in Guide to Zeiss DSLR Lenses except for the Coastal 60/4 which is in Advanced DSLR.

Meanwhile, what happens if a very old lens (converted to Nikon mount!) is used on the Fujifilm GFX at close range? That is the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.2 Auto-S. Not all images have to be sharp; impressionistic may be the goal.

“But I thought that adapting the best 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX made sense!”
__METADATA__

John G writes:

I'm not yet a subscriber, but I'm very impressed with your work.

I'd like to suggest that some of the best DSLR lenses suited to being adapted to the FujiFilm GFX camera are Tilt-Shift models from Canon and Nikon, and possibly from Hartblei. The old Zeiss 28mm model is probably not as good, but I don't have any experience with it. Perhaps the super-sharp and highly corrected Canon 90mm T-SE lens would be a good candidate, assuming an electronically coupled adapter becomes available.

Please note that quite a few wide angle lenses have been tested for their larger image circle potential with lenshood and/or rear baffle removed, and some have been adapted with custom German-made T-S and double-shift adapters (and shaved or removed hoods) to the Sony E-mount by Stefan Steib of HCam. He is considering building an adapter for the FujiFilm GFX.

http://www.hcam.de/en/index.htm
https://www.facebook.com/HCamde-122001131245665/ https://www.facebook.com/122001131245665/photos/rpp.122001131245665/958286137617156/?type=3&theater

Thanks for all your excellent work.

DIGLLOYD: the image circle is a basic check as to whether the frame is fully illuminated, but says nothing about the imaging performance, which for some of the world’s best lenses... sucks, even in the central 36 X 24mm area.

Just today I tested the Hartblei 80mm f/2.8 Super-Rotator, a lens picked for me some years ago by Stefan. It has the multicoated Zeiss optics. Its main claim to fame is unrivalled bokeh. See Hartblei 40/80/120mm SuperRotators in Advanced DSLR. It needs some stopping down for good sharpness and has some mild field curvature, but is capable of exceptionally pleasing images on the Nikon D810.

I am sorry to report that its performance on the GFX suffers as most lenses do. Something about the GFX sensor (sensor and micro lenses, ray angle, cover glass) makes most lenses unhappy. The only lens so far out of ten that I deem satisfactory is the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.

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Evaluating 9 Top-End 35mm DSLR Lenses on the Fujifilm GFX

Two new pages in Medium Format:

I may add some additional simple examples and summary conclusions in Medium Format but (it has been a looong day) and the bottom line is that the Fujifilm GFX makes a poor platform for DSLR lenses, even the very best, like Zeiss Otus. For why this is so, see Adapting Lenses to the GFX: General Discussion.

The smart move is to stick with native-mount lenses, with certain specific exceptions.

Full lens evaluations always go into the native guide regardless of camera body used. The following aperture series were shot with the Fujifilm GFX and in total give a thorough view of what one might encounter in adapting a lens to the Fujifilm GFX. These are all in Guide to Zeiss DSLR Lenses except for the Coastal 60/4 which is in Advanced DSLR.

Meanwhile, what happens if a very old lens (converted to Nikon mount!) is used on the Fujifilm GFX at close range? That is the Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.2 Auto-S. Not all images have to be sharp; impressionistic may be the goal.

“But I thought that adapting the best 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX made sense!”
__METADATA__
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Adapt to Native

“But I thought that adapting the best 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX made sense!”

Leica M on Sony sounded good but with very few exceptions it turned out to be an awful combination (unless one has very low standards).

Yet there was some hope that a DSLR lens on medium format might be different: “look guys, it covers the frame, oh yeah” makes great clickbait. I ain’t gonna do that to you.

My initial impression proved to be right on the money with only one exception out of eight top-flight lenses I shot tonight. The vignetting seen below is one issue but one of the minor ones. I sure wish Zeiss would develop manual focus lenses for the GFX.

“But I thought that adapting the best 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX made sense!”
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First Impressions in Adapating Lenses to the GFX (Otus 55/1.4)

In my hands is the about $150 FotodioX Nikon F Lens to Fujifilm G-Mount Camera Pro Lens Mount Adapter:

 
FotodioX Nikon F to Fujifilm G-Mount Lens Adapter
  • No manual, no warranty card, no printed material of any kind in the box.
  • The Fujifilm GFX requires that Shoot Without Lens is enabled. This is a little weird, since the adapter is electronic and the camera ought to know that a lens is attached, but maybe the adapter fails to communicate properly.
  • The control dial on the adapter is physically tight on one end of the range (excessive resistance) and OK over the rest of the range. This dial seems to be merely a device to control the contact (slop) between the internal lever and the lever on the lens that controls the aperture—it is not electronic in any way.
  • To use the aperture ring on the lens (Zeiss ZF.2), set the control on the adapter to the leftmost dot on its aperture control ring. This yields manual control over the diaphragm via the aperture ring, allowing one to know both which aperture is in use and to use the feel and sound of clicks which aperture is chosen (click-click-click-click from wide open is f/2.8 (half stop clicks, kudos to Zeiss design).
  • To use electronic aperture control with an electronic aperture... find another adapter—this one is not electronic (no contacts of any kind are seen) and so cannot work with "E" lenses.

Those adapters with Canon EF mount (Canon or Sigma or Zeiss) of course must have an electronic control since there is no lever on the lens to be moved by an adapter. But I’m now confused, since the FotodioX Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Fujifilm G-Mount Camera Pro Lens Mount Adapter shows no signs of electronic contacts either (with a product description of no use at all), so I do not understand how the lens diaphragm could be controlled—maybe it cannot be. The Zeiss ZE lenses I have have no mechanical level by which an aperture could be controlled, only electronic contacts.

Eric B writes:

From your photograph, I have neither the GFX camera nor the Otus lens, there does not appear to be an electronic connection on the adapter.

It looks similar to the “dumb” Nikon F(G) to Fuji X adapters I have. They control the aperture of Nikon G lenses with a small arm that grabs the aperture lever on the lens. They require my Fuji X T-2 be set to operate without lens as well. If the Otus has an aperture ring, as does my old Micro-Nikkor, one can use that to control the aperture.

If it is an “E” lens, like my PC-E’s, there is no way to control the aperture on any adapted body, Fuji, Sony, M4/3. One can only mount it on a Nikon body, set the aperture, and remove the lens while holding down the depth of field button. It will then remain permanently at the set aperture. That is what I did with my PC-E’s after selling my D800E body so that I might use them, forever, at f/8 on my Fuji.

I have searched far and wide for an adpater that would allow me to control the aperture on the PC-E lenses on an adapted body, Fuji, but have found nothing. I looked at the Fotodiox GFX to Nikon F(G) adapter on the B&H website and it does not mention anything electronic about this adapter. I might be wrong, often am, but this time I fear I might be right.

DIGLLOYD: Eric is right and sometimes it pays to just LOOK: there are no electronic contacts of any kind on the Fotodiox adapter.The ring on the adapter apparently exists to adjust for slop in contacting the aperture lever on the lens, to compensate for any slop in the mechanical contact. I had incorrectly assumed that since there are electronic adapters for Canon lenses, that this adapter would be electronic also.

The adapters shown below are not a recommendation; consider them an illustration.

Preliminary impressions

 
Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

I shot my close-range dolls scene with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon. The image circle covers the full GFX sensor at close range but at infinity focus it shows dark corners at all apertures.

My impression (near MOD) based on focusing and confirmed using the full aperture series of exposures is that something degrades with lens performance, greatly increasing astigmatism and emphasizing the slight mid-zone color fringing one can see even on the D810. It looks like ray angle degradation that I’ve seen before when adapting M lenses to Sony because central sharpness is excellent, yet the outer zones decline rapidly. I would say also that focusing seems strangely difficult except near center, which is also consistent with ray angle degradation. I’m speaking generally here, taking ray angle to mean ray angle and sensor cover glass thickness and refraction and micro lenses all together. That said, an outstanding image develops by f/11 corner to corner.

See Ray Angles for Zeiss DSLR Lenses.

I would say that my initial impression is that one of the world’s best lenses does not look too promising on the GFX at wider apertures—and that any tests as such are deeply flawed in terms of evaluating the lens versus its native platform, namely that the lens is being asked to perform through sensor cover glass and special micro lenses for which it was not designed.

Tonight I plan to do some distance shooting with a planar subject, which is a far more challenging test than anything else.

I want to be clear that I am doing a quicklook survey for the Medium Format section as to general applicability of adapted lenses and that a full assessment of a non-native lens (should I choose to do so) will go into the respective area, e.g., Guide to Zeiss or Advanced DSLR, as has been my policy for the past six years or so.

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Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D

Get Hasselblad X1D at B&H Photo.

Dante M writes:

I subscribed to your Medium Format as interested in the Hasselblad X1D. Your review and work is much appreciated though I noted that the GFX section looks being updated at a higher pace. Does this mean that you have "dismissed" the Hasselblad as a serious tool in the field?

I tested the X1D and I decided to buy it as it provided, apart form the image quality, the simple and essential approach I'm looking for when I want to take pictures. A tool not distracting from the final purpose, a camera not overloaded with functions and settings which render the photographing process a pain, at least to me (that's why I abandoned the Sony A7R2 and the Canon 5D Mark IV last month).

DIGLLOYD: the 30-day loaner period was over for the X1D, and I had to move on to the GFX, which I am almost done with, for now. Plus the X1D focusing issue.

I will have another X1D as soon as Hasselblad provides me one for some more evaluation with updated firmware to address the focusing issue. Also, there are the 22mm and 120mm lenses yet to come. My intent is to continue to cover the system, as well as add additional material.

As for “not overloaded with functions and settings” I agree only partially: in my view the GFX works better in the field than the X1D (the GFX focus issues aside): the 15 second blackout of Live View, the lack of a 4-way controller, the poor battery life, the taking of images by mistake just trying to get back into Live View (since it shuts off at 15 seconds), and so on. It’s fine for many types of work, but problematic for the way I like to work, and I see no hardware solution.

Michael Erlewine writes:

Right now, with the X1D, I am learning to take photographs, as in: the process. I am not quite there with the camera enough to capture my ‘impressions,” at least not yet. And it’s not just the learning curve I’m talking about either, but the entire process, in particular getting the focus and the aperture just right. This will take some time.

The process involved in using the X1D is more involved than the simplistic camera it is made out to be. Since I tend to use LiveView, outside and in sunlight, this requires some kind of optical viewfinder to block the sunlight and offer some magnification. I started out with the Zacuto Z-Finder, hanging from a lanyard around my neck. However, the Z-Finder is so robust that its heaviness proved distracting. So, I switched to one of the ELVID viewfinders that, while not as good as the Zacuto, are so very light that I even forget I’m wearing it. Still, it is sharp enough and magnifies adequately to work just fine. I don’t need the extra clarity offered by the Z-Finder, at least not with the LiveView screen on the X1D. I can see to focus via the magnification “star” button.

Meanwhile, I am still very put off by the fact that LiveView switches off automatically after 15 seconds. This is not helpful when setting up a shot with the X1D, so I have no idea what they were thinking. However, I have been assured that this LiveView problem is fixed in the next firmware update, so I can wait for that. I am getting too old to always be the sacrificial lamb at the altar of technology, even (or especially!) with a Hasselblad.

I will leave it to others to comment on using the X1D for sports or walk-around shots. I may get to that, but so far that has not happened. I do have to keep remembering to have the timer on, since often (but not always) it turns itself off when I turn the camera off. Perhaps someone could tell me how to set it and have it on permanently. Since there is no hard-wired remote cord, I am stuck with the timer or using Phocus on my iPhone, which is just one more stone around my neck to carry around.

I am happy with the color on the X1D although I do find myself looking to NIK’s “Color Efex Pro 4” to tweak the removal of color casts from time to time. As mentioned earlier, at this stage in my learning curve I am just taking photos with the X1D, not actually creating them yet in my style, although I am getting close.

I am more or less happy with the lenses and understand that they may be working to improve the focus shift of the 90mm lens. I do everything with manual focus, and that is working OK. As for stacking, no problem, but I have not attempted large stacks, only what I call short stacks of maybe 3-4 layers. Like all cameras, this one takes some study, coupled with learning to use a medium-format lens, such as it is.

There is no doubt that I move more slowly with the X1D compared to the Nikon D810, and it is not just because it is a new camera to learn. In large, being more careful and attentive to process is good for me, and the X1D demands this if I want good results. So, I am into it.

Things I would like: Aside from leaving LiveView on, I would like a wired or IF remote and not have to haul around (and be careful of) my iPhone with Phocus software to be a remote. No thanks!

I would like a separate button to return to LiveView other than trying to guess how much pressure to place on the shutter release without accidently taking an unwanted photo. That is a pain.

I’ve got to do something until Nikon gets on the stick. I was not happy with the GFX, even though it is getting all the press these days. As for the timer. I have to take the battery out all the time because it’s the only one I have, although I should be getting two more in the next two days.

My firmware is up to date. Learning to use the X1D is a bit of work. Trying to see to focus with the LV going off all the time, should have been avoided

DIGLLOYD: I share these concerns, although I have no issue with the Zacuto Z-Finder.

Battery life with the GFX I estimate at 3X better, and the Live View does not cut out. I do feel I can work better with the GFX in the field for the way I shoot, focusing being a glaring exception.

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First 3rd-Party Lenses for Fujifilm GFX are High Speed Primes from Mitakon Zhongyi

Get Mitakon Zhongyi at B&H Photo.

Reader John G points out two lenses announced for the Fujifilm GFX:

  • Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 65mm f/1.4, equivalent to 79mm f/1.15.
  • Mitakon Zhongyi SpeedMaster 85mm f/1.2, equivalent to 103mm f/0.98.

WOW! That’s as fast as it gets for medium format, and lends weight to what I’ve implied and stated explicitly before: medium format is the new full frame. Which is a reversal from back in 2013 of saying that 35mm is the new medium format. The slowest of these two lenses is a full stop faster than the fastest lens Fujifilm is offering (the 110mm f/2), the other is 1.5 stops faster.

Development of a wide-ranging lens ecosystem massively increases the appeal of a camera platform. This Fujifilm has done by offering an EFC shutter and mechanical shutter and lens adapters and now these 3rd party lenses come along too, surely not the last to appear. By comparison, the appeal of the Hasselblad X1D is weakened by eliminating these potentials. It remains to be seen whether Hasselblad can offer an EFC shutter via a firmware update which would allow adapted lenses to be used.

Rough google translation:

Displayed "SPEEDMASTER 65mm F1.4" and "SPEEDMASTER 85mm F1.2" of the middle one optical booth, FUJIFILM G mount

The SPEEDMASTER (Speedmaster) series prototypes "SPEEDMASTER 65 mm F1.4" and "SPEEDMASTER 85 mm F1.2" are G for Fujifilm's medium format mirrorless digital camera "FUJIFILM GFX 50S" (released February 28) It is a mount lens. "SPEEDMASTER 65mm F1.4" is designed exclusively for Fuji Film GFX series. "SPEEDMASTER 85 mm F1.2" is a product that made the conventional model into a G mount. It is planned to be released in 2017, the price is yet to be determined.

From what I understand, the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E has optics by Mitakon Zhongyi, which also makes the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 for Sony Mirrorless. Mitakon seems to be on a high-speed roll to reset expectations.

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NEC Display Warranty Bonus Deal Through June 30: 5 years of Coverage

5-year total warranty on NEC displays

See my reviews of NEC wide-gamut professional displays.

The NEC PA302 with the SpectraView II color calibration software and hardware remains my workhorse display to this day; I started using it way back in September 2013—3.6 years or so ago. Works like new.

The 5-year warranty (4 years even normally) shows that NEC is a company that stands behind its products. Compare that to a typical (and pathetic) 1 year warranty from Apple, Sony, Leica, Hasselblad, Fujifilm, Canon, etc. Heck, Apple makes you pay $300 or so for a maximum of only 3 years total, yet charges a huge price premium.

Look for a deal like the ones that sometimes come along, and thanks for using the link from this site when buying so I get credit.

The PA302W GB-R LED backlighting affords an incredible gamut and outstanding grayscale neutralitybetter than the white backlights in most displays which may measure neutral but have a visible magenta tint to the eye.

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 and has a gamut greatly exceeding AdobeRGB in some areas (like reds).

I also use the NEC PA322UHD 4K display (3840 X 2160), but due to pixel density, I still do all my photo evaluation on the PA302W, because its 2560 X 1600 resolution with much lower pixel density makes evaluating images for sharpness much easier. And its gamut is significantly wider than the PA322UHD. As a 30-inch display the 2560 width is easy on the eyes (pixel density) and the 1600 height is substantially more working room than the typical 1440 height of most display (1440 feels squeezed and cramped to me compared to 1600).

The about $1109 NEC PA272W (2560 x 1440 pixels, 27") is of similar quality and color gamut, also with hardware and software calibration. But I greatly prefer the greater working space of 2560 X 1600 on the PA302W (vs 2560 X 1440 on the PA272W), plus the pixel density of the PA302W is lower, which makes for easier image evaluation for sharpness.

NEC PA302W wide gamut display

Fujifilm Starts Professional Services Program

Fujifilm USA has started a professional services program. See the terms and conditions.

There are at least two things that grate:

  • To be forced to sign up within 30 days seems unfriendly at best. Sony’s pro services ($99 a year) have no such time cutoff.
  • Warranty extension is “outsourced to a 3rd party”. Not much of a confidence builder.
  • Alaska and Hawaii residents are excluded. Is this just to save shipping costs?
  • Registration of purchased products must be done within 30 days.Proof of purchase ought to be enough.
  • Non-transferable.

Still, a pro shooter has a lot of benefits that if needed are very worthwhile, such as 2 day turnaround, clean and check, loaners, and dedicated hotline and email support.

Fujifilm Professional Services (FPS) provides outstanding support for professional photographers. For only $499 per year, qualified GFX system owners can rest assured that they have Fujifilm's Professional Service on their side. Members in the GFX FPS Program will receive exclusive phone and email support, complimentary Check and Cleans, discounted and expedited services, and express repairs and loaners where applicable.

Program Eligibility Requirements:

Participant must own no less than one (1) FUJIFILM GFX digital camera body and one (1) GF lens product, each of which were registered at www.RegisterMyFujifilm.com within 30 days of purchase. Program sign-up is subject to registration verification. Membership is personal to the member and is non-transferrable.

Participant must sign up for the GFX FPS Program within 30 days of purchase of a GFX System product. Once registration has been completed, the GFX FPS Program will apply to all GFX System products that are subsequently purchased by the participant and that have been properly registered within 30 days of purchase, for the remaining applicable Program Term.

Participant must be at least 18 years of age, and must reside in the continental United States or the District of Columbia, excluding Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the US territories.

Participation is subject to the GFX FPS Program Terms and Conditions as well as the general terms and conditions of the Program and other terms that Fujifilm may designate from time to time.

...

Fujifilm GFX pro services program
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Is the Fujifilm GFX Suitable as a Digital Back?

I have my doubts that adapting 35mm lenses to the Fujifilm GFX is more than an awkward kludge (because it sure feels that way with adapters on Sony), but given the non-deterministic focusing problems affecting all the GF lenses and the uncertainty of whether a forthcoming Fujifilm firmware update will fix the problems, it is at least worth thinking about.

Nikon and Canon have given no sign that they take the high-end market seriously (I’m talking about high-end as in Nikon D810 and Canon 5DS R, not sports shooters). How long will CaNikon fecklessly ignore the market opportunity by sticking to hopeless dinosaur products, ones that force me to use a loupe instead of an EVF and deal with the needless bulk of a mirror box? I never want to buy another DSLR myself. Maybe CaNikon are not ignoring the market and have some awesome rabbit under the hat, but the natives (like me) are getting very restless.

Is the Fujifilm GFX in effect a digital back that will save the day for CaNikon users who look increasingly abandoned at the (non sports) high end?

Suppose that one has (like me) a large collection of Zeiss and Canon and Nikon lenses. An adapter is awkward, but might it be worth the trouble if Nikon cannot get its hapless and inept act together with a D850 with serious advancements, before it implodes from market pressures from Sony. Ditto for Canon, though Canon has far more leeway due to its vastly larger product lines (much more than Nikon), so show us something already, CaNikon!

The old saying that the easiest way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one seems to hit the mark for Nikon: shrinking a solid business into a moribund one.

Adapting lenses is not elegant but it might be better than spending for yet another dinosaur DSLR—let’s see what happens this year.

  • Lenses for the 35mm format have a variety of potential shortcomings on the GFX. But even if one can gain only 20% or so on imaging area, the high sensor quality and the increased area may be a winner.
  • Traditional medium format lenses (Mamiya, Pentax, Hasselblad, etc) are highly unlikely to perform as well as lenses designed from scratch for the GFX sensor. Ditto for view camera lenses. But there are some standouts, and some may have special imaging qualities that make them worthwhile.
  • Fujifilm offers adapters for a view camera and for Hasselblad lenses and there are other adapters and there is also the Cambo Mini View Camera with GFX adapter. Color shading may be an issue, but tilt and shift come to mind.

I for one think that Nikon and Canon must deliver (or at least promise delivery) of some new exciting full frame camera by end of 2017. Better yet, deliver a GFX-like camera with large sensor that not only takes a new mirrorless lens line, but comes with a high quality adapter for compatibility with existing DSLR lenses. Otherwise, hang up the jock strap.

Nikon and Canon are NOT going to survive selling to sports and wildlife shooters, even if sports shooters decide that the Sony A9 remains a less good choice than a traditional DSLR. And if even a significant percentage of sports/wildlife/action shooters go with the A9 (consider the implications of even a 20% switchover to Sony A9), the pressure on CaNikon will go from high to existential. So anyone with a collection of high-grade lenses might start thinking about a different digital back for those lenses, such as the Fujifilm GFX.

While we’re at it, what if Sony produces a medium format body, one compatible in some way with the existing E mount lens lineup. That would be a death blow to CaNikon IMO.

Reader coments follow.

Not having used these GFX lens adapters (yet), I am merely showing the options that might be viable.

Reader comments

Roy P writes:

Just read your comments about possibly Fuji GFX as a digital back for Canon/Nikon lenses. While the large sensor size maybe appealing, I expect a Sony A9R coming up, maybe by year end, that will have the same large battery cavity, EVF, etc. in the A9, but perhaps with a 60-70MP sensor and 5fps (fast enough for bracketing, but not for action). That would give you the digital back.

But if you wanted a medium format body, the Hasselblad X1D is likely a better fit – it’s about the same size as the A7x and A9 bodies, with a bigger sensor. Perhaps a 35mm crop size could be displayed as a bright white rectangle in the EVF. That would take away the one last bragging rights the Leica rangefinder apologists have: with an M camera, you can look at a larger scene, compose, focus by distance, and wait for the lady in red to step into the frame lines, so can click to capture the perfect moment! Yawn.

For the moment, Nikon / Canon don’t have to fear an immediate exodus of the pro sports photographers, although I fully expect some of that to begin to happen gradually as these photographers realize four very compelling benefits the A9 gives them over the 1DX II or D5: no mirror blackouts, 20 fps (which will at least double their throughput of keepers in sharp focus), silent shooting (especially valuable for golf, tennis, etc.), and 693 AF points with 93% frame coverage, which should also hugely improve their yield with less work. But their investment in their existing glass, lack of equivalent Sony glass, unproven field reliability and ruggedness of the new A9, and untested pro support will dampen the rate of switching. My guess is, every new pro lens Sony announces for the E mount will erode some of the Nikon / Canon pro base.

The bigger and more immediate risk for Nikon / Canon is, an en masse defection of wedding and event photographers. They carry three bodies, one with a 24-70 f/2.8, one with a70-200 f/2.8, and a third, which is typically on a tripod, dedicated to video. For the video, these pros have been steadily migrating to mirrorless over the past 3-4 years, with the Sony A7S one of the major beneficiaries. I have now seen an A7 or A7S with the Sony 70-200 f/4 on a tripod at least at three weddings in the past year, and one with a Panasonic GH4. Now, between the A7, A7S, A7R (all in their 2nd generations), and with the A9, there is a full line of price / performance bodies and lenses in place, as well as an impressive wireless flash system. The Sigma CEO has also said there will be a major commitment to the E mount, and new, native Sigma E mount lenses are coming. That will give the wedding / event photographers less expensive 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses, too. We could see a much faster switch to Sony from this segment. This is a very big market for Nikon and Canon, and it will be a body blow if they lose it.

We will almost certainly see all the reportage / media photographers switch to the A9. You look at any White House press coverage, debates, etc. on TV, and you can’t but help hearing all the annoying shutter clicks every time someone blinks. Ditto for people who cover concerts, events at churches, etc., where silence is highly desired. This is probably another segment that has been switching to mirrorless, and that will only accelerate with the A9.

If Canon / Nikon haven’t been working on their own A9-like cameras, and don’t at least announce something very credible and very soon, enough to persuade their customers to wait, they will find themselves in serious trouble.

DIGLLOYD: for those of us short $20K, an X1D system is not so appealing, and a complete system change. For now at least the X1D cannot do other lenses, since it lacks an EFC or mechanical shutter option.

The crop option is a big plus, and the GFX has it, and the GFX is substantially less expensive than the X1D and with 3X (at least) the battery life. But I’m not arguing against the X1D if the shutter issue could be resolved.

Wedding and event: I think this has already happened in spades, but I entirely agree that the Sony A9 kicks the crap out of a DSLR solution and with the 100/2.8 STF GM and similar lenses and the bread and butter 24-70 and eye (iris) spot-on focusing plus 4K video—game over.

Shutter noise and frame rate are HUGE for some types of photography (including wildlife!), where disturbing the situation is a problem (startle effect, obnoxiousness, etc).

John G writes:

If Sony were to introduce a medium format lineup, it would be a very good thing for the serious amateur and professional photographer. My sense is that it would be a technically superior product; they’ve demonstrated their ability to engineer products that offer unique performance capabilities and excellent image quality.

Most recently, Sony has demonstrated their prowess for serious lens design. Lens designs that, while different in drawing style, challenge Zeiss’s best efforts in the category. On that topic—Sony’s innovations and success in the FF mirrorless category have persuaded Zeiss and others to design some pretty great optics for Sony’s system, simply because the market is big enough to justify their efforts. Serious photographers in this category now have a wide-ranging buffet of great optics from which to build their kits.

My sense is that, while perhaps it would be on a smaller scale, Sony could bring all this to medium format. Among several other factors, It would further pave the way for MF to truly evolve downward out of its current rarefied, unobtainium market position where it would be an actual viable choice for the serious amateur or professional. This was a trend first started by Pentax and continued recently with Fuji, but neither have the marketing or technological chops to turn the category into a truly viable system choice. They are uber niche products by definition. My hope is that Sony’s entry would encourage Zeiss and others to develop high-end options for serious glass in the MF category. I was encouraged by this announcement of 65mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 lenses for the Fujifilm GFX by Mitakon Zhongyi. While I’m not sure I’d be interested in these particular lenses if I were to purchase a GFX, I am excited by and attracted to the idea of a good array of lens choices in the category.

My sense is that the industry has hit a wall of diminishing technological and IQ returns in the development of the FF category. In reality, there have been no categorical advancements in IQ since the introduction of the three-year-old Nikon D810, which itself was an evolution and update of the D800E. It could be logically argued, based on the current empirical (albeit anecdotal) evidence, that, for overall IQ, 36MP represents a sort of critical image-quality mass for FF. Neither the 42MP Sony nor the 50M Canon perform as well, in overall IQ terms, when compared critically to the D810. Certainly more pixels have an advantage when consider in isolation, but it has yet to be demonstrated in an actual product that more pixels beyond 36 can deliver as good, let alone better, overall IQ.

Obviously, I realize that this is a conclusion reached by the current state of affairs, which are limited, and may ultimately suggest any veracity as to the possibility of a higher megapixel, full-frame product outperforming the D810 in overall image quality. It just hasn’t happened yet. But I think the fact that it hasn’t happened yet cannot be ignored. And clearly the FujiFilm GFX sensor/processing engine does offer IQ that is in most critical ways truly better than any of the current offerings in FF, including the D810. Indeed, in some areas of image performance, it breaks new ground. I contend that the next frontier in ultra-high IQ for the serious amateur and professional will be relatively affordable MF systems.

We just need Sony to do it.

DIGLOYD: I agree on all points here. As well, there is no size impediment standing in the way; both the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX show that medium format camera sizes are not particularly large and I’m sure that Sony could cut the size down to that of a Nikon D810, or smaller.

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Dracast LED: Just ordered another one

I have Dracast LED500 Silver Series Bi-Color LED Light with Dual NP-F Battery Plate that I ordered when it was only $199. It’s a nice compact well built little unit.

The larger Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light with V-Mount Battery Plate (or Gold Plate) is $379.95 / 45% off today only at the B&H Deal Zone, and I just ordered a SECOND one, having been enjoying the first one and its sibling for a few months now.

Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light

The simple fact is that I don’t see as well in dim light as when I was younger. My kids can rad in light that stymies me!

I love flipping on this light and swiveling it where I need it. And so I ordered a second one for ever better illumination.

Also important to me is the bi-color feature so I can tune the color to what I prefer. For example, at night I bias it to warmer (yellowish).

Today only in B&H deal zone $379.95 with stand and accessoriies.

...

 

Below, the Cineo Matchbox is currently $129 off and ony $333 with excellent color rendering (CRI). I liked it a lot when I tested it.

Cineo Matchbox LED remote phosphor lighting

Adapting Lenses to the Fujifilm GFX

Update 25 April: adapter in hand:

  • No instruction manual, no warranty card, no printed material of any kind in the box.
  • The Fujifilm GFX requires that Shoot Without Lens is enabled. This is a little weird, since the adapter is electronic and the camera ought to know that a lens is attached, but maybe the adapter fails to communicate properly.
  • The aperture control dial on the adapter is physically tight on one end of the range (excessive resistance) and OK over the rest of the range.
  • To use the aperture ring on the lens (Zeiss ZF.2), set the aperture control on the adapter to totally stopped down (leftmost dot on its aperture control ring). This yields manual control over the diaphragm via the aperture ring, allowing one to know both which aperture is in use and to use the feel and sound of clicks which aperture is chosen (click-click-click-click from wide open is f/2.8 (half stop clicks, kudos to Zeiss design).
  • To use electronic aperture control with an electronic aperture, set the lens diaphragm to the locked position (if it has such a control, as do ZF.2 lenses). The adapter then controls the aperture—except that it doesn’t work correctly: nothing happens to the lens diaphragm (stays open) until the 2nd or 3rd dot on the adapter is dialed in. In other words, the adapter does not work correctly for electronic control of aperture. Manual aperture control as per the first point is the way to go for ZF.2. Otherwise, it’s a crap shoot on which aperture is actually in use.
  • The utility of using the aperture ring is a key feature for me: it means I’d need a flashlight and have to peer down on top of the thing in dim conditions. No way to go click-click-click to know I’m at f/4 on an f/1.4 lens. So Zeiss lenses with aperture rings (ZF.2) are ideal.

I’d prefer an all-manual adapter myself, since that’s all I need for Zeiss ZF.2 lenses with aperture rings. But those with Canon or Zeiss ZE or Nikon G of course must have an electronic control. However, as per the point above, aperture control on the adapter doesn't work properly, so one has to guess at aperture. This product needs work just to function properly with a lens lacking an aperture ring, even if one forgoes the desire to know the aperture.

...

One last thing before I send back the loaner Fujifilm GFX is to establish how lenses for 36 X 24mm format perform on the larger 44 X 33mm sensor of the GFX.

I expect to receive the about $150 FotodioX Nikon F Lens to Fujifilm G-Mount Camera Pro Lens Mount Adapter tomorrow. In the past I have been very displeased with Fotodiox quality (had to destructively remove one by sawing it off a Zeiss lens), but I am going to give this new offering a fair trial.

 
FotodioX Nikon F to Fujifilm G-Mount Lens Adapter

The lenses I intend to check out to at least establish behavior are the following:

A this point, my intent is a 'survey': what has potential and what does not and in general does does the quality hold up to a useful level.

Back in 2014, I investigated the performance of the Zeiss Touit lineup for Sony APS-C format on Sony full frame format including classic ratios like 4:5 and 1:1 and panoramic, with remarkably good results.

FotodioX Nikon F to Fujifilm G-Mount Lens Adapter

Considerations in applying a lens designed for the 36 X 24mm format on the much larger 44 X 33mm format are several:

  • All lenses will vignette much more than on the 36 X 24mm frame, some excessively, some modestly. Vignetting can vary substantially depending on focusing distance (decreasing with closer focusing unless focal length shortening tricks are use). Stopping down reduces vignetting substantially.
  • Just because a lens covers 44 X 33mm area does not mean the quality will be worthwhile. And even if the lens is sharp, there may be excessive field curvature or focus shift and/or aberrations that increase to greatly reduce the point spread function outside the 36 X 24mm frame. Such things might require using only at f/8 or f/11 for example.
  • Color shifts from ray angle might be an issue with some lens designs.
  • Planarity of the lens adapter is always a concern, as is the increased lever-arm torque on the lens mount with a heavy lens.
  • Flare and uneven lighting outside the 35mm frame area.
  • ... and so on.

Why anyone would bother mounting a 'dog' of a lens like the Nikon 50/1.4G on the GFX as shown in the product shot is dubious, both for very poor focusing throw and feel but also for its modest optical performance and severe flare issues. It is precisely for this reason that I feel it is worthwhile to try the best and establish the gamut of performance, so perhaps I’ll mount that Nikon 50/1.4G and see how badly or not so badly it does.

FOR SALE: Lloyd’s Own Lenses (Zeiss, Leica, Voigtlander, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Rodenstock, Schneider)

I’d rather just keep a growing collection, but that’s just not feasible, for both space and financial reasons—I constantly have to be working with the newest lenses for my publications. There is no ROI (return on investment) for lenses that I rarely or ever need for my publications. Plus the ongoing insurance costs are negative ROI, plus I have to buy certain new gear each year. It’s time to clean house on some very good lenses.

  • All lenses here are “good samples” as far as my testing has determined; I never keep bad samples.
  • Nearly all are with original box and packaging (all that stuff up in the attic, I never throw away boxes).
  • My reputation is more important to me than any sale. I would never knowingly sell any gear with an issue. It’s that simple—just not worth it. Local buyers welcome to inspect firsthand.
  • All my glass tends to be pristine. If I see any kind of optical marring, I will note it prior to final sale.
  • Please note that new lenses have dust inside! Used lenses always have some dust, even after a week or two of use. NONE of my gear has ever gone to Burning Man or anything 1/10 that extreme.
  • Overseas is just too much of a hassle, but if payment is made I can hold a lens until buyer visits my area.

LNIB = Like New in Box

Payment as agreed upon. You pay FedEx 3 day shipping and are responsible for any California sales tax, if applicable.

Nikon mount

All Nikon lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

Zeiss sales are because I have the Milvus replacements for the lenses I’m selling. These are all excellent samples, some particularly so.

  • Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm f2.8 SL II with lens hood LNIB $550.
  • Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL II with lens hood LNIB $340.
  • Nikon 45mm f/2.8 ED PC-E Micro Nikkor $1299. Shows some wear, but perfect glass and mechanical.
  • Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G $250
  • Nikon AF-S 85m f/1.4G $1050
  • Nikon AF 105mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $925 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 21mm f/2.8 Distagon $1150
  • Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2 Distagon $825
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar $1425 (particularly outstanding copy with superb symmetry at distance)

Canon mount

All Canon lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

  • Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye $525
  • Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM $400 LNIB
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II $1350 excellent (lens hood has scratches, but lens is very lightly used).
  • Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L $560
  • Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: $1225 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $975 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $1375 LNIB

Olympus

  • Olympus E-M1 + Olympus 45mm f/1.8 w/ lens hood + Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 + Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 ASPH + Panasonic DMC-GF3 $1050.
  • Olympus SHG lenses (set of three): 7-14mm f/2, 14-35mm f/2, 35-100mm f/2 with two MMF-3 lens adapters for Micro Four Thirds: $4200 Great choice for videographers. These are the most highly corrected lenses that Olympus makes.

Leica

All Leica lenses are original USA models—no gray market.

  • Leica 28mm f/2 Summicron-M ASPH (prior version but 6-bit coded) $2900. My testing showed no meaningful difference vs the 2016 version.
  • Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M ASPH (6-bit coded) $1750.
  • Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH black $6800. I was told by Leica that this was a hand-picked best of batch sample (chosen for me as replacement from original problem run of the 50/2 APO).

Rodenstock and Schneider view camera lenses

All on Linhof Technikardan lens boards, copal shutters.

  • Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S Copal shutter + Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFE PRISTINE
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR Copal shutter+ Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFER PRISTINE
  • Fujifilm Fujinon A 240mm f/9
  • Linhof Tecknikdan 4 X 5 View camera with quickload holders and various mounting boards.
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

B&H Photo NAB Specials

See also my wish lists and top deals pages B&H Photo.

B&H has a variety of specials for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show.

Shop all B&H Photo NAB specials.

B&H Photo NAB Specials (partial list)
$299 SAVE $150 = 33.0% GoPro HERO4 Black in Computers: Other

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E

See my Sony mirrorless wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo.

Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus
50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E

I have the about $2999 Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II Lens for Sony E on request at B&H Photo. It is now shipping, but I am unsure of arrival data as yet.

  • Sony E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/0.95 to f/22
  • Manual Focus Design
  • De-Clicked Aperture Ring
  • 15 AR-Coated Aperture Blades

It looks like all the right mechanical things have been done, except perhaps the rather smooth focusing ring (no texture)—though the Zeiss Milvus line has smooth rubber and that works fine. A lot depends on how it actually feels and operates.

From what I am reading, the optical design is the same as the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95, which I reviewed back in January. What Meyer-Optik has done is deliver a completely different build around cherry-picked samples.

I am curious if an all-new rangefinder design that is 1/3 the price of the Noctilux for Leica M could possibly perform as well—or better*. It is possible, since Leica’s prices for M lenses are stratospheric with poor value being inbred at Leica and prices going up yet again next month.

That is, an all-new design that takes ray angle into account might mean something approaching a real T/1.0—I’m guessing T/1.1 if done well.

For example, f/1.2 lenses on DSLRs (so far) are really more like T/1.4 due to ray angle—not very “fast” at all. Canon even cheats and compensates for the light loss with the 85/1.2L II.

A really fast lens is great fun:

* You too can experience the Noctilux feel with a Noctilux coffee mug. Fill it with coffee and it will have similar heft!

Weekly Hand-picked deals at B&H Photo

Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS — Portraits

The about $1499 Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is a pleasing lens.

At Photoshop World, I had just 3 minutes today to take a few snaps of a skilled and lovely model as seen below (competing with 25 or so other photographers, nearly all with 24-70 or 70-200 zooms, LOL). Me, I just had the Sony 100/2.8 STF GM. I took 82 seconds to fire off 11 frames and dang I love that Sony A7R II focusing.

UPDATE: I’ve posted three samples. Viewed properly at high-res on an late 2015 iMac 5K, the images are stunning.

UPDATE 2: I’ve added the black and white conversion settings and Adobe Camera Raw conversion settings and two more poses using different processing approaches.

Examples: Portrait Model

Includes images up to full resolution in both color and black & white.

I like the Sony 100mm f/2.8 STF GM a lot—it balances very nicely on the Sony A7R II, it’s razor sharp, the focal length is ideal for portraits, and its rendering style is unique even among apodized lenses. The brightness loss of two stops (f/2.8 is as dark as f/5.6) is regrettable as a working challenge, but I applaud Sony’s decision to not go half-way—the results are beautiful (model or not), and I deem the 100/2.8 STF GM a must-have lens for the Sony shooter.

As for the A7R II, the images look fantastic at full res at ISO 1600. The black and white images I’ll take over an Leica M Monochrom any day (far more flexible and more detail). What does it imply for CaNikon or Leica or even medium format when the next-gen Sony hi-res camera will without a doubt improve the performance in every aspect, the 24MP Sony A9 being a technical tour de force ummatched by anything on the market?

__METADATA__
At f/2.8 (camera records as f/5.6 in EXIF)
__METADATA__
__METADATA__

John G writes:

Seems like Sony continues their roll with killer new lens designs.

I thought the picture is quite beautiful. The photograph prompted my email. Stunning tonality—a quality I hesitate to ascribe to the Sony cameras themselves.

DIGLLOYD: the results (at ISO 1600) speak for themselves—stunning. See the full-res images in both color and black and white.

Sony is the most innovative company in the business today—cameras like the A9 and now optics like the 100/2.8 STF GM.

Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Sony’s New α9 Camera Appears to Target the High-End Sport Shooter Market

Get the about $4499 Sony a9 and about $2499 Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS at B&H Photo.

I have to laugh a little—starting a few years ago I posited breakthroughs that would challenge the best DSLRs even for sports shooting. I remember many a reader email admonishing me that the blackout issues, the phase detect focusing challenge, etc all made mirrorless inferior and would not be beaten anytime soon, if ever. I had total faith that this viewpoint was in serious error, and even if this new A9 fails in some area(s), time will take if far forward, leaving DSLRs in the dust if indeed that is not now already the case.

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

And so here it is complete with zero blackout, 20 fps for 241 RAW images, 693 focus points with 93% frame coverage over far more of the frame than any DSLR can manage, phase-detect (!) autofocus, silent and vibration-free shooting, in body image stabilization (IBIS), 4K video, enhanced pro support services, and more.

I had to do a double take: this is an E-mount camera taking FE lenses from what I understand, so it is a perfect complement to the Sony A7R II. The death knell for the DSLR?

The use of phase-detection points also enables the use of A-mount lenses via the optional LA-EA3 or LA-EA1 lens mount adapters with full continuous AF/AE tracking compatibility.

I have said that Sony was gunning for DSLRs, and this is clearly the case with the A9—the finally “victims” are in the crosshairs: high end sport shooter DSLRs.

The about $4499 price is in the same territory as the high-end pro DSLR cameras, so even the price is consonant with the area of application.

Also announced is the new about $2499 Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS.

Any revision to the Sony A7R II will surely see at least some of the improvements seen in this new camera—I am hoping the zero blackout feature at last.

Sony’ press release below. Emphasis added

Groundbreaking Full-frame Mirrorless Camera Delivers Unmatched Speed, Versatility and Usability

  • World’s First1 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, 24.2 MP2 resolution
  • Blackout-Free Continuous Shooting3 at up to 20fps4 for up to 241 RAW5/ 362 JPEG6 images
  • Silent7, Vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec8
  • 693 point focal plane phase detection AF points with 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second
  • Extensive professional features including Ethernet port for file transfer, Dual SD card slots and extended battery life
  • 5-Axis in-body image stabilization with a 5.0 step9 shutter speed advantage
    ...
Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

NEW YORK, Apr. 19, 2017 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced their new revolutionary digital camera, the α9 (model ILCE-9).

The most technologically advanced, innovative digital camera that Sony has ever created, the new α9 offers a level of imaging performance that is simply unmatched by any camera ever created – mirrorless, SLR or otherwise.

The new camera offers many impressive capabilities that are simply not possible with a modern digital SLR cameras including high-speed, blackout-free continuous shooting at up to 20 fps, 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, a maximum shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 seconds and much more. These are made possible thanks to its 35mm full-frame stacked Exmor RS™ CMOS sensor – the world’s first of its kind – which enables data speed processing at up to 20x faster than previous Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras11. This unique sensor is paired with a brand new, upgraded BIONZ X processing engine and front end LSI that maximizes overall performance.

This industry-leading speed and innovative silent shooting7 is combined with a focusing system that features an incredible 693 phase detection AF points. Covering approximately 93% of the frame, the focusing system ensures that even the fasting moving subjects are reliably captured and tracked across the frame.

The new α9 also features a vibration free, fully electronic, completely silent anti-distortion shutter with absolutely no mechanical mirror or shutter noise, making it an extremely powerful photographic tool for any shooting situation that demands quiet operation. To ensure maximum usability and reliability, the camera features a new Z battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of W batteries, as well as dual SD media card slots, including one that supports UHS-II cards. An Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal) is available as well, and there is a wide variety of new settings, controls and customizability options that are essential for working pros.

“This camera breaks through all barriers and limitations of today’s professional digital cameras, with an overall feature set that simply cannot be matched considering the restrictions of mechanical SLR cameras” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Digital Imaging at Sony Electronics. “But what excites us most about the α9 – more than its extensive product specs – is that it allows professionals to see, follow and capture the action in ways that were never before possible, unlocking an endless amount of new creative potential.”

A New Standard of Speed and Focusing Accuracy

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

Critical to the record-breaking speed of the new α9 is the combination of the new stacked 24.2 MP2 Exmor RS image sensor, new BIONZ X processor and front end LSI.

The immense processing power from these new components allows for faster AF/AE calculation while also reducing EVF display latency. The processor and front end LSI are also responsible for the larger continuous shooting buffer, enabling photographers to shoot at a blazing 20 fps4 with continuous AF/AE tracking for up to 362 JPEG6 or 241 RAW5 images.

The camera’s innovative AF system tracks complex, erratic motion with higher accuracy than ever before, with the ability to calculate AF/AE at up to 60 times per second(10), regardless of shutter release and frame capture. Further, when the shutter is released while shooting stills, the electronic viewfinder functions with absolutely no blackout, giving the user a seamless live view of their subject at all times (12). This feature truly combines all of the benefits of an electronic viewfinder with the immediacy and “in the moment” advantages that not even the finest optical viewfinders can match, and is available in all still image modes including high speed 20 fps4 continuous shooting.

With 693 focal plane phase detection AF points covering approximately 93% of the frame, the camera ensures improved precision and unfailing focus in scenes where focus might otherwise be difficult to achieve. The Fast Hybrid AF system – pairing the speed and excellent tracking performance of phase detection AF with the precision of contrast AF – achieves approximately 25% faster performance when compared with α7R II, ensuring all fast-moving subjects are captured.

Professional Capabilities in a Compact Body

Sony’s new full-frame camera is equipped with a variety of enhanced capabilities that give it a true professional operational style.

The α9 features an all-new, high-resolution, high-luminance Quad-VGA OLED Tru-Finder with approximately 3,686k dots for extremely accurate, true-to-life detail reproduction. The new Tru-Finder, which is the highest resolution viewfinder ever for a Sony α camera, incorporates an optical design that includes a double-sided aspherical element, helping it to achieve 0.78x magnification and a level of corner to corner sharpness that is simply outstanding. The EVF also utilizes a ZEISS® T* Coating to greatly reduce reflections, and has a fluorine coating on the outer lens that repels dirt.

This all adds up to a luminance that is 2x higher than the XGA OLED Tru-Finder from the α7R II, creating a viewfinder image with a brightness level that is nearly identical to the actual scene being framed, ensuring the most natural shooting experience. The frame rate of the Tru-Finder is even customizable, with options to set it for 60 fps or 120 fps13 to best match the action.

The α9 is equipped with an innovative 5-axis image stabilization system that provides a shutter speed advantage of 5.0 steps 9, ensuring the full resolving power of the new sensor can be realized, even in challenging lighting. Also, with a simple half press of the shutter button, the effect of the image stabilization can be monitored in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen, allowing framing and focus to be accurately checked and continually monitored.

The α9 also offers an Ethernet port (wired LAN terminal), allowing convenient transfer of still image files to a specified FTP server at high-speed, making it an ideal choice for studio photography, high-profile news and sporting events and more. There is a sync terminal as well, enabling external flash units and cables to be connected directly for convenient flash sync.

New Features for Fast Operation

Sony’s new α9 has several new and updated focus functions that support faster, easier focusing in a variety of situations. The camera features a multi-selector joystick on the back of the camera, allowing shooters to easily shift focus point within the frame by pressing the multi-selector in any direction up, down, left or right when shooting in Zone, Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot focus area modes. The new model also offers touch focusing on the rear LCD screen for easily selecting of and shifting focus towards a desired focus point or subject.

New for Sony E-mount cameras, the α9 includes the addition of separate drive mode and focus mode dials, plus a new “AF ON” button that can be pressed to activate autofocus directly when shooting still images or movies.

Additional new capabilities include the “AF Area Registration”, which allows frequently used focus area to be memorized and recalled via custom button assignments. There is also the ability to assign specific settings (exposure, shutter speed, drive mode, etc) to a custom button to be instantly recalled when needed. The camera can memorize and automatically recall the last focus point used in a vertical or horizontal orientation as well, instantly switching back to it when that specific orientation is used again.

For enhanced customization, a “My Menu” feature is available, allowing up to 30 menu items to be registered in a custom menu for instant recall when needed.

Double Battery Life, Double Memory

The innovative α9 camera features an all-new Sony battery (model NP-FZ100) with 2.2x the capacity of previous Sony full-frame models, allowing for much longer shooting performance.

Also, based on extensive customer feedback, the new camera offers two separate media card slots, including one for UHS-II media. The same data can simultaneously be recorded to both cards, or the user can choose to separate RAW / JPEG or still images / movies. Movies can also simultaneously be recorded to two cards for backup and more efficient data management.

High Sensitivity and Wide Dynamic Range

The unique design of the α9 image sensor represents the pinnacle of Sony device technology. The 24.2 MP 2 full-frame stacked CMOS sensor is back-illuminated, allowing to capture maximum light and produce outstanding, true-to-life image quality. The sensor also enables the diverse ISO range of 100 – 51200, expandable to 50 – 20480014, ensuring optimum image quality with minimum noise at all settings.

The enhanced BIONZ X processor plays a large part in image quality as well, as it helps to minimize noise in the higher sensitivity range while also reducing the need to limit ISO sensitivity in situations where the highest quality image is required.

The new α9 also supports uncompressed 14-bit RAW, ensuring users can get the most out of the wide dynamic range of the sensor.

4K Video Capture

The new α9 is very capable as a video camera as well, as it offers 4K (3840x2160p) video recording across the full width of the full-frame image sensor15, 16. When shooting in this format, the camera uses full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information, oversampling it to produce high quality 4K footage with exceptional detail and depth. Recording is also available in the popular Super 35mm size.

Additionally, the camera can record Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps, which allows footage to be reviewed and eventually edited into 4x or 5x slow motion video files in Full HD resolution with AF tracking17.

New Accessories

Sony has released a variety of new accessories to compliment the new α9 camera, including:

  • NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Battery – high-capacity battery with approximately 2.2x the capacity of the NP-FW50 W-series battery. It also supports InfoLITHIUM® technology, making it possible to view the remaining battery power as both a percentage display and five step icon on the camera’s LCD screen.
  • VG-C3EM Vertical Grip – provides same operation, handling and design as theα9 camera, doubles battery life and allows USB battery-charging via the camera body.
  • NPA-MQZ1K Multi-Battery Adaptor Kit – External multi-battery adaptor kit capable of functioning as an external power supply for four Z series batteries and as a quick charger. Kit comes with two packs of NP-FZ100 rechargeable batteries.
  • GP-X1EM Grip Extension – Grip extender with same look, feel and design as α9 body. Enables more solid hold on camera.
  • FDA-EP18 Eyepiece Cup –eye piece cup with locking mechanism
  • BC-QZ1 Battery Charger –quick-charging battery charger. Charges one new Z series battery in approximately 2.5 hours.
  • PCK–LG1 Screen Protect Glass Sheet – hard, shatterproof glass screen protector with anti-stain coating to prevent fingerprints. Compatible with touch operation and tilting LCD screen

Pricing and Availability

The Sony α9 Full-frame Interchangeable Lens Camera will ship this May for about $4,500 US and $6,000 CA. It will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.

Notes to Editors:

  1. As of April 19th, 2017
  2. Approx. effective
  3. Electronic shutter mode. At apertures smaller than F11 (F-numbers higher than F11), focus will not track the subject and focus points will be fixed on the first frame. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds.
  4. “Hi” continuous shooting mode. The maximum frame rate will depend on the shooting mode and lens used. Visit Sony’s support web page for lens compatibility information.
  5. “Hi” continuous shooting mode, compressed RAW, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests.
  6. “Hi” continuous shooting mode, UHS-II memory card. Sony tests.
  7. Silent shooting is possible when Shutter Type is set to “Electronic” and Audio signals is set to “Off.”
  8. 1/32000 shutter speed is available only in the S and M modes. The highest shutter speed in all other modes is 1/16000.
  9. CIPA standards. Pitch/yaw stabilization only. Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens. Long exposure NR off.
  10. At shutter speeds higher than 1/125 sec, smooth and blackout-free live view images are shown in EVF.
  11. Compared to the front-illuminated CMOS image sensor in the α7 II.
  12. Display updating will be slower at slow shutter speeds.
  13. When the auto or electronic shutter mode is selected the viewfinder frame rate is fixed at 60 fps during continuous shooting.
  14. Still images, mechanical shutter: ISO 100 – 51200 expandable to ISO 50 – 204800.
    Still images, electronic shutter: ISO 100 – 25600 expandable to ISO 50 – 25600.
    Movie recording: ISO 100 – 51200 expandable to ISO 100 – 102400.
  15. In full-frame shooting, the angle of view will be narrower under the following conditions: When [File Format] is set to [XAVC S 4K] and [ Record Setting] is set to [30p]
  16. Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card required for XAVC S format movie recording. UHS Speed Class U3 required for 100Mbps or higher recording.
  17. Sound not recorded. Class 10 or higher SDHC/SDXC memory card required.

Buttons look to be very similar to the Sony A7R II, but I deem them too small and tight as compared to a Nikon or Canon pro body, and not laid out well for quick and easy access including with gloves on in cold conditions.

Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9
Sony Alpha α9 aka ILCE-9

Reader comments

James P writes:

Unfortunately just because they announce this camera the PRO sports shooter market will still be controlled by both Nikon and Canon. Why, simply because of their PRO support, both Canon and Nikon have outstanding service to the pro users, expediting repairs, loaners and being on site for equipment issues at major events.

Sony is making nothing but disposable, cheaply made cameras that will not hold up to the demands of a working sports photographer, Period. They are toys and when they break, where do you send them, you don’t, you buy a new one. Sony is an electronics company, not a PRO camera maker. I had a A7II for all of one month, nice file, but too small and a menu system that is not user friendly, a flash system or should I say no flash system that can compete with both Nikon and Canon. It’s great to dream, but there are PRO camera makers, such as Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, Phase and Leica that may not have all the things you want in a camera but have the most important thing that a PRO depends on and that is service of their products and support to the working PRO, those that make a livelihood using their gear depend on that.

DIGLLOYD: the market will decide this point, not assertions by me or anyone else.

I’ll be the first to agree that I Sony’s professional services program remains a weak point, but note that Sony is opening walk-in centers in Los Angelese and New York, so clearly the point is not lost on Sony. It’s a move forward, just like the A9.

As for “disposable cheaply made cameras”, I don’t dismiss an as yet unseen camera out of hand before even giving it a chance. And while I know that Sony has had some issues, my A7R II has worked flawlessly since I got it—more than I can say for Leica or Hasselblad or Fujifilm.

As for Leica being taken seriously as a 'pro' system, this is surely a joke (!) to list it with Nikon and Canon! There are/were terrible problems with the S system (now defunct), the M system has left users like me hung out to dry and the SL system is too little, too late and too little even now.

Bottom line here is that this note seems based on the past. I don’t hold the past against any vendor, if they march down the right path going forward.

Roy P writes:

The focus has always been accurate even with my A7RM2 and Canon 200-400 lens with both the internal and an external 1.4x TC, for a net focal length of 784 mm. Haven’t done pathological test cases like with low contrast subjects in very low light, but at least in reasonable light, the focus is always spot on.

The question is the speed of focus acquisition and tracking. The A7R focus acquisition is not bad with an MC-11, but the Canon 5DSR is noticeably faster, and the 1DX2 is instantaneous. So I am interested to know if this is a camera or adapter limitation, or both. So I’ll be looking at how much better the AF performance will be with the A9 , and whether the adapter makes any difference.

Nikon and Canon users have been staying with their DSLRs because mostly due to their glass investments. Also, Sony has been perceived as inspired by consumer electronics and not photography, and somewhat toy grade. I think all of that instantly changed with the A9, and there are going to be thousands of people wondering if the time has come to make a switch.

A 24MP weather sealed camera with dual cards, 20 fps, almost 700 AF points, silent shooting, unblocked view and sensor stabilization that weighs less than a half of a 1DX2 or D4/D5 is impossible to ignore. So the first question that’s likely to be running in the heads of any Nikon / Canon user who heard about the A9 is likely to be how well will my lenses autofocus with the A9. I got that exact question from a friend in the U.K. who owns a 1DX2 and 5DSR, and several Canon lenses.

I think the A9 is a whack on the head with a baseball bat for Canon and Nikon. Any 2-3 of the enhancements below would merit a switch to a different system. This list should trigger a stampede, to get out before others start putting up their gear on eBay:

  • 24MP resolution, which is more important than just in landscapes, because a lot of action images are heavily cropped, esp. birds in flight. The extra pixels are invaluable in capturing detail.
  • 20 fps likely doubles the yield of in-focus frames from a burst of shots
  • 693 in-sensor PDAF points must be amazing
  • 60 times per second focus measurement to set focus, unprecedented
  • Zero black outs, so much easier to keep the subject in sight
  • Silent shooting
  • Large buffer size
  • Half the weight and bulk
  • Sony’s CEO must have told his team “Look fellas, watching a crucifixion might be entertaining, but we have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have time. Let’s just go for the slaughter.”

DIGLLOYD:

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Fujifilm Announces 23mm f/4 and 110mm f/2 Lenses for GFX

Fujifilm today announced the new about $2599 Fujifilm GF 23mm f/4 R WR and new about $2799 Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2 R WR.

My review pages are stubbed out for the 23mm f/4 and the 110mm f/2 and will be fleshed out when these lenses become available, with an anticipated ship date of late June. Available for pre-order now.

Separately, there is a rumor of a firmware update for the Fujifilm GFX which might address autofocus performance. I am hoping it deals with the erratic and highly variable autofcus performance I saw with both GFX bodies I used.

FUJINON GF23mmF4 R LM WR Lens

The FUJINON GF 23mm F4 R LM WR Lens has a focal length equivalent to 18mm in the 35mm format and is perfectly suited for landscape and architectural applications. Despite the super-wide angle of view, distortion is kept to a minimum, and with the high-resolution performance extending all the way to the edges, sharp depiction power as if looking at an actual landscape is achieved.

FUJINON GF110mmF2 R LM WR Lens

The FUJINON GF 110mm F2 R LM WR Lens is a medium telephoto lens for portraits. With a focal length equivalent to 87mm in the 35mm format, it achieves a brightness of F2.0 when used wide open to deliver beautiful bokeh. The high resolving power of the area in focus and the rich bokeh unique to medium-format large-diameter lenses depicts portraits with a realistic three-dimensional feel.

GFX View Camera Adapter G

The GFX View Camera Adapter G allows the GFX 50S to be used as a digital back. The view camera adapter allows the GFX 50S to be mounted to the standard graflock-type back of a view camera*. This allows the use of FUJINON large format camera lenses, such as the CM-W FUJINON lens series. The camera or lens shutter can be triggered, allowing the user to choose the optimum method. The large image circle and the bellows of the view camera can be used with tilt, shift and swing movements, effective for product and architectural photography.

*There may be instances in which the adapter cannot be mounted depending on the shape of the view camera.

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First Look: Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Aperture Series: Dolls

The about $1499 Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is a curious beast.

I’ve taken my first look at how it behaves—off to Photoshop World tomorrow.

Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Aperture Series: Dolls

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

In EXIF data, the A7R II records f/5.6 for f/2.8, f/6.3 for f/4, and f/7.1 for f/5.6, which is confusing post-shot; one has to interpret in reverse to determine what was used. I deem this a bug because it corrupts the definition of f-stop vs T-stop. It also conflicts with Sony specifications: claim f/2.8 but record f/5.6? It’s not a good approach—let f-stop be f-stop and leave it at that.

At f/2.8 (camera records as f/5.6)
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Fujifilm GFX Dynamic Range: Kitchen HDR

I admit to being fascinated with the quality possible from the Fujifilm GFX—I mean, I just cannot do this sort of thing (quality and detail) with the Canon 5DS, not even close. And in the other direction, I am disappointed once again by the flaky autofocus of the GFX.

Accordingly, I’m showing another dynamic range example which might be the most impressive example yet; this one follows the Grant Lake and Lundy Canyon Boulders examples.

Black and white conversions often place greater demands on pixel quality, so this example offers both color and black and white renditions, with two exposures, one that requires 2.8 stops push and one 3.46 stops push (plus maximal shadow boost).

Fujifilm GFX Real World Dynamic Range: Kitchen

Presented in both color and black and white. Includes images up to full resolution, ACR processing settings and RawDigger histograms. The black and white results are particularly beautiful, reminiscent of the best black and white film.

Below, faux HDR gross underexposure (to preserve the outdoor elements) combined with a 2.8 stop push and +100 shadow boost and -100 highlights.

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Reader Perspectives on the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX

Michael Erlewine has bought, tried and returned both the Fujifilm GFX system and the Hasselbld X1D system.

Different purposes may lead to different conclusions and decisions, but his comments may be of use to prospective purchasers of these systems, at least as food for thought:

Reader Comments on Hasselblad X1D, With Responses

Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX System, With Responses

 
Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D

 

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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Examples, Eastern Sierra

These examples taken in the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Examples, Eastern Sierra

Includes images up to full resolution.

The Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4 has potential—if one can get a good copy.

It was terribly disappointing to come back with many images, of which these are only a small sampling, to find that always the right side is blurred when focused at distance from what appears to be strong lens skew. How does such a lens get shipped to customers? It is a medium format system (not entry-level APS-C), and this is unacceptable quality control.

Violent winds whip across Grant Lake, whose dry spillway will almost certainly be needed for the 2017 snowmelt.

Grant Lake, part of the June Lake loop
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Jason W writes:

I really like your shots on the GFX 50s. I think the aspect ratio and your composition style work well together.

Additionally, you've changed my opinion of the quality of the images the GFX 50s is capable of. Most samples I had seen before didn't look that great, but given the baseline of your other FF images compared to the new shots you've posted, the quality is definitely there.

DIGLLOYD: I have always liked the 4:3 aspect ratio. Many times it works better than 3:2, and I always found 17:6 (as with Linhhof Technorama 617S IIi) difficult.

I am now persuaded that the GFX sensor (meaning the final output from sensor and electronics together) exceeds the quality possible from the Nikon D810 and yields 50 megapixels instead of 36. That’s setting aside lens selection and optical performance, focusing problems and lens skew and so on, just speaking in terms of sensor quality. The lenses are definitely the weak point in a variety of ways, all practical and image-impacting. But when things go the right way, the results are very satisfying.

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Fujifilm GFX Dynamic Range: Grant Lake

In practice it is all too easy to underexpose so as not to blow highlights, which for most cameras results in quality losses that drop below an acceptable threshold for darker areas. So I see this comparison as highly relevant in choosing a camera system. That is why I have long favored the Nikon D810 with its ultra-clean ISO 64 over any Canon offering.

Two frames are shown here, both at f/8. One frame was shot two stops underexposed accidentally (1/1000). A moment later, the frame was shot again with two stops more exposure (1/250). I wondered how well the image quality would hope with the underexposed frame versus the optimal exposure frame, particularly given the shadow boost and push and fairly aggressive sharpening of Amount = 25.

Black and white conversions often place greater demands on pixel quality, since some color channels may be emphasized and those channels by themselves may be noisier and/or just become noisier by being, in effect, pushed considerably. For that reason black and white renditions are also shown in this example.

Fujifilm GFX Real World Dynamic Range: Grant Lake

Presented in both color and black and white. Includes images up to full resolution, ACR processing settings and RawDigger histograms.

This image could not have been made with color reversal film; it would have consisted of a nearly black foreground in order to capture the sky without blowing out. Aggressive contrast control was used to brighten the foreground area, including a 2.5 stop push for the underexposed image.

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Fujifilm GFX + 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Three Pines

I’ve more or less gravitated to the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 as the most reliable lens for the Fujifilm GFX, although I can’t stand its cheap feel: a whiny focusing motor and a front that tends to pinch my finger with its in/out non-internal focusing reminiscent of the crummiest 50/1.8 lenses from CaNikon.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Still, with a little stopping down the results with the 63/2.8 are very nice—a combination of very high sensor quality and very good lens performance.

Sometimes its left/right skew works out well, as in the Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek series, and sometimes the lens skew is a problem until f/9 or so, as in this series, plain to see:

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Three Pines

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

It’s disappointing to find that 2 of the 3 GF lenses have lens skew (63/2.8 and the 32-64/34 zoom, the 120/4 is symmetric), but many vendors have such issues. Still, given the price of the system, I expect more. The lenses look nice but I wonder what the quality of the innards is like, and how rigorous the alignment can be, and whether it will deviate over time.

Three Pines, Lee Vining Canyon
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Larry J writes:

Just wanted to compliment you on the splendid Lee Vining creek photo. I can just imagine it printed 48" on the long side, hung and properly lighted. Beautiful image.

DIGLLOYD: yes, it should hold up beautifully at 48 inches (1.22 meters). It really looks fantastic on an iMac 5K filling the screen... the detail and pixel quality right into the dark tones is really beautiful. I look forward to seeing 8K displays arrive, which is one reason I am publishing my medium format work at full-res. I also look forward to a 75 to 100 megapixel image sensor, see next note.

Dr S writes:

If Fuji were to be able to correct via firmware (don't know if that is even a possibility) their AF anomalies, and correct focus shift, would the system rise to a "reference" standard for Lloyd Chambers? BTW it also seems that moiré from your examples can be a pesky issue at times.

DIGLLOYD: yes—the sensor is fabulous, setting aside the severe moiré issues which may make the camera problematic for some professionals, be it product photography, architecture, fabrics and clothing, etc.

The GFX moiré is as strong as I’ve seen with any camera (and shown in most of my examples), and may stem from Fujifilm’s custom sensor design that enhances sharpness. IMO, it is critical to get to a 100 megapixel sensor if only to reduce the moiré issues.


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Reader Question: Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 for Sony Mirrorless

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar in Guide to Mirrorless.

I’ll be adding to that review once I get a production copy.

Eric C writes:

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8

It’d be great to read a short essay online of your thoughts on the Zeiss Batis 135 – I enjoy fast lenses (own the Sony 50/1.4 and 85GM, used to have the Sony 35/1.4 but tired of its decentering) – but I really appreciate your previous points on ‘why all the big, heavy glass?!’  Which is why I have the Batis 18 and Batis 25.

For whatever reason it seems like there’s a large group that thinks a 135mm is only for portraits and REQUIRES f/1.8.

But I see so many other uses for it and am also leery of a big, heavy lens that won’t be a primary focal length for me.  But, I’d like a very high IQ lens so I’d be more inclined to use it more frequently.

It might be a bit dismissive to call the Batis 135 a ‘jack of all trades’ – perhaps more appropriate to say it hits a sweet spot – but it’s too early to make that call and also one of the reasons I lament the demise of the local dealer where you could just handle the lens in person or on a camera body.

In any case, your keen sense of IQ without requiring ultra fast/big/heavy puts you in the perfect position to offer your thoughts on this if you have time.

DIGLLOYD: see The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses. It applies nearly as much to f/1.8 or f/2 at these longer focal lengths.

When Zeiss designates a lens as “APO”, it’s the real deal, not the faux APO that Leica delivers with focus shift (sometimes) and gobs of secondary color (although the 50/2 APO may be an exception). This alone makes the Batis 135/2.8 highly appealing. In a scene like White Truck at Night, the image is not only razor sharp, but devoid of any violet fringing or hazing, even around high contrast areas—and blacks remain detailed and black (not dark gray).

The idea that a portrait requires f/1.8 at 135mm is absurd—it’s a nice-to-have for occasional use for sure, but one quickly grows tired of one out of focus eye and blurry everything except the iris, and that’s if you can focus on the iris and you and the subject do not move even 1mm before exposure. Even at f/2.8 there is precious little depth of field, so f/1.8 is a curious solution in search of a problem. The truth is that out in the field, the f/2 of the Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is of marginal use, and it carries a heavy penalty of size and weight, quite literally. If you have a perfect copy as I do, then f/2 may be of some utility, but I find that f/4 is more appropriate even for modest depth of field.

When I mount the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 to the Sony A7R II, I have a highly portable and ultra-high performance 135mm lens—something I’ve never before had available to me. I can’t say how many times the Zeiss ZF.2/ZE 135mm f/2 for Canon and Nikon has stayed behind in the bag in the car because of its weight and bulk. If you don’t take a lens along, you can’t use it. Add to that the fact that the Batis 135/2.8 includes optical image stabilization that works in combination with the Sony IBIS, and it’s a 'killer' solution that has no peer.

As for image quality, the Batis 135/2.8 is the most even-tempered 135mm lens I have yet used, with a gorgeous flat-field (no field curvature) 'cut' through the scene—better than the DSLR lens for sure in that regard. At f/2.8 it is nearly a match the best lens for Leica M at f/5.6 and wildly outperforms the Leica 135/3.4 APO-Telyt-M—crazy good. There is nothing to gripe about even by my picky standards. And if things like contrast and flare are included, it’s astonishing in its abilility to deal with any challenge with optical aplomb.

White Truck at Night
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Lloyd at Photoshop World Apr 19/20/21

Stop by and say hello if attending Photoshop World 2017, in Orlando, Florida.

I’ll be at the Other World Computing / MacSales.com booth demoing/showing how I use OWC products in my work and photography.

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Fujifilm GFX + 63mm f/2.8 at Their Best, Aperture Series: Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Enough with beating a dead horse on the focusing variability.

Here is a series that shows off the Fujifilm GFX and Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at their very best.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/11.

These images look fabulous by f/4.5 on an iMac 5K or better. Even f/2.8 looks very nice in total visual impact, though the lack of depth of field is noticeable. It’s loads of fun scrolling around the full-res image on the iMac 5K—so much detail of such high quality.

It seems clear to me that a 100 megapixel sensor would be very worthwhile not just for more detail, but to reduce or eliminate moiré and color aliasing in places (see comments that follow).

This is why you want medium format—for example the 50-megapixel Canon 5DS simply cannot deliver this kind of pixel quality: megapixels are not all the same, not even close. It is the kind of result that make me think “sell the 5DS R and get a GFX”. Of course I cannot do that—I have to review Canon lenses! But that’s the thought anyway.

Aspen and Firs by Lee Vining Creek
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Larry J writes:

Just wanted to compliment you on the splendid Lee Vining creek photo. I can just imagine it printed 48" on the long side, hung and properly lighted. Beautiful image.

DIGLLOYD: yes, it should hold up beautifully at 48 inches (1.22 meters). It really looks fantastic on an iMac 5K filling the screen... the detail and pixel quality right into the dark tones is really beautiful. I look forward to seeing 8K displays arrive, which is one reason I am publishing my medium format work at full-res. I also look forward to a 75 to 100 megapixel image sensor, see next note.

Dr S writes:

If Fuji were to be able to correct via firmware (don't know if that is even a possibility) their AF anomalies, and correct focus shift, would the system rise to a "reference" standard for Lloyd Chambers? BTW it also seems that moiré from your examples can be a pesky issue at times.

DIGLLOYD: yes—the sensor is fabulous, setting aside the severe moiré issues which may make the camera problematic for some professionals, be it product photography, architecture, fabrics and clothing, etc.

The GFX moiré is as strong as I’ve seen with any camera (and shown in most of my examples), and may stem from Fujifilm’s custom sensor design that enhances sharpness. IMO, it is critical to get to a 100 megapixel sensor if only to reduce the moiré issues.


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Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series with 63/2.8: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

Like the Cerro Gordo Church series, this series shows the problematic focusing imprecision that plagues the Fujifilm GFX, with all its lenses (32-64mm, 63mm, 120mm). I don’t expect behavior to be any different with the 23/4 and 110/2, but I am curious to see if it is better or worse with the 110/2 since there is razor thin depth of field at f/2 at 110mm.

The variability shown here was observed over and over in the field, a great source of aggravation because it becomes hit-and-miss to obtain optimal results. The greatest errors occur at distance where focusing precision is at its worst, and where tiny changes in focus can make a big difference.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: View to Mt Whitney From Alabama Hills (Focus Variability)

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/8, along with crops.

I feel it is important to show at least two examples of misbehavior when I find it. For example, I showed a dozen or so examples of the Hasselblad X1D focusing issue, one which Hasselblad has acknowledged and is working on. Hasselblad has also promised me an X1D and lenses for re-testing when the time comes. So kudos to Hasselblad—I can’t ask for more than that (fix and take a fresh look).

BTW, I still have not heard a peep from Fujifilm. I never believed the original GFX problem diagnosis, now disproven as a theory given the same misbehaviors proven with a 2nd brand-new GFX and 120/4.

Mt Whitney and Whitney Portal, as viewed from Alabama Hills
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Things I Plan on Reviewing in the next few months

I’ve gotten several inquiries on what I plan on reviewing.

I know that many readers are not medium format shooters, but when a new product category appears, it is necessarily a high priority (Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D). Medium format also provides a valuable perspective on state of the art image quality. I am hoping that another vendor (Sony?) throws a hat into the ring too. Medium format coverage will be settling down soon, though rumor has it that Fujifilm will be releasing the 23mm f/4 and 110mm f/2 lenses next week, so those will enter the review mix as soon as I get get ahold of them.

I have already reviewed the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar, but I plan on working with it more when I get a production copy.

Shown below are items I plan on reviewing in the next two months or so. I am open to other suggestions, as always, the deciding factors being (a) reader interest that will drive subscriptions and (b) new or unique capabilities.

The Leica M10 with its new EVF will probably be June, availability being an issue. A key question I want to answer is just how it compares to the M240 (form factor aside)—is its image quality better than the Leica M240, or just different—and is different better in all ways?

I’m disappointed at being stuck at 24 megapixels, even if the extra resolution were only to avoid moiré and color aliasing and other digital artifacts. Leica has made the classic mistake of assuming that its existing user base is the only viewpoint—if Apple had done this we’d all still be using flip phones instead of smart phones. It takes vision and leadership to move a product category forward, and so far Leica’s vision has been a disappointing failure. I see the M10 as a nice improvement over the M240 (an assumption at this point, based on specs), but it offers nothing really new. It is incrementalism costing $6600 on top of an $8000 investment in the M240. Hard to swallow, for me at least—that Leica does nothing to improve the M240 experience after 3+ years.


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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 @32mm Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Museum

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR at 32mm on a planar scene—the building. The results here show two behaviors that are destructive to image quality:

Aperture Series @32mm: Cerro Gordo Museum (Focus Variability + Right-Side Blur)

Includes image sizes up to full resolution, plus crops, all from f/4 through f/11.

Cerro Gordo Museum
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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 @32mm Focus Stack: Barroom Interior

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

Even at f/11 at 32mm, depth of field is very limited, a confounding issue with medium format, since diffraction rapidly kills image quality past f/11. Hence focus stacking is highly relevant for landscape shooting or any shooting where one wishes for the image to retain reasonably good contrast (which f/16 would destroy from diffraction) and yet much more depth of field is needed than a single shot can provide.

Here I wanted to see what I could do to make a near-to-far composition in a static interior. This is a challenge that an interior photographer might encounter, but it should be obvious that this layout mimics many a landscape scene as well. Here, even f/16 would be far from adequate for depth of field (with bad consequences for overall image quality), so stacking is the only option. A tilt-shift lens would not help given the 3D projections within the scene. Only focus stacking can solve the challenge here.

A 3-frame stack was used, which is still easy to work with, particularly for a non-moving subject, and no wind to make a mess via overlapping grass/leaves/etc. The first frame is focused on the leading edge of the table (close distance), the 2nd frame on the chair on the dining table (middle distance), the 3rd on the far wall.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Focus Stack @ 32mm: Barroom Interior

Includes image sizes up to full resolution as well as Adobe Camera Raw conversion settings and the black and white layer conversion settings. Presented in both black and white and color.

Barroom Interior, Cerro Gordo
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Observations on Image Quality: Fujifilm GFX vs Hasselblad X1D, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810

This page summarizes my observations and thoughts so far on the Fujifilm GFX vs Hasselblad X1D vs Canon 5DS vs Nikon D810:

Fujifilm GFX: Observations on Image Quality vs Hasselblad, Canon, Nikon

On my recent trip, I happened to be shooting both the Canon 5DS R and the Fujifilm GFX. I was impressed at the stark differences in image quality, which prompted me to write the above and to discuss these four cameras.

     
Fujifilm GFX, Hasselblad X1D, Canon 5DS R, Nikon D810

 


Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @35mm + Focus Stack: Decrepit Truck

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

This aperture series at medium distance shows performance from f/4 through f/11.

It also includes a 2-frame focus stack at f/9, which is interesting to compare to both f/9 and f/11. Depth of field is a major limitation of medium format, hence focus stacking is even more useful than with 35mm format. A 2-frame stack is easy and fast to shoot for a scene like this.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @35mm + Focus Stack: Decrepit Truck

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

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Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Ore Cart

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at relatively close range on a subject whose key details are in the central half of the frame.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR Aperture Series: Ore Cart

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/9.

There is some very strange behavior at work in this series, which I discuss.

 

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Fujifilm GFX Focusing Precision and Aperture Series: Mining Town Church

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 at distance, and expressly shows the problematic lack of focusing precision that one can expect from the Fujifilm GFX. The variability shown here was observed over and over in the field, a great source of aggravation. The greatest problems occurs at distance, as here, where precision is at its worst and where tiny changes in focus can make a big difference.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Cerro Gordo Church (Focus Variability)

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 through f/6.4 along with discussion of the GFX focusing behavior here and in many other series in the field.

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Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Distortion Example

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

The optical design of the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR relies on software correction, requiring corrections for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration. This page looks at the true optical distortion of the 63/2.8, which is moderately high.

Distortion correction in software is never desirable in quality terms, primarily because it always has some effect on micro contrast, which puts a hard limit on how crisp an image can look (image pixels have to be remapped by some fractional number of pixels).

While the Fujifilm GFX corrects the distortion for viewing purposes while shooting, the raw file is recorded without distortion correction applied, and some field of view is lost by correcting it. Worse, the GFX sets a flag in the raw file that requires corrections, which Adobe Camera Raw offers no option to ignore.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR Distortion

Image sizes up to full resolution.

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NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
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Which is faster for RAW File Conversion, CPU or GPU?

A few months ago, I wrote The GPU remains a Science Fair Project. While I freely acknowledge that the GPU can be essential for some work (hugely faster), the fact of the matter is that using the GPU is not necessarily a win, and GPU-based processing can cause all sorts of glitches and crashes and weird behaviors*. I suspect the GPU is involved in the latest weird behavior I am seeing.

* That the GPU is problematic is a fact encoded right into the mouse-over help in the Photoshop GPU preferences: “if such and such happens, disable this option”.

GPU vs CPU performance

In the past month or so, I’ve spent a lot of time preparing work from the raw files for the Hasselblad X1D (uncompressed raw) and the Fujifilm GFX (compressed lossless raw).

The Fujifilm compressed lossless raw files offer huge space savings of 30% to 60% so I favor them, but GFX raw files are glacially and painfully slow in the Photoshop/ACR window even on the fastest Mac you can’t even buy from Apple (3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro with D700 GPUs). So slow that my work efficiency is seriously impaired—the X1D files are a joy to work with by comparison, albeit about double the size (both cameras have identical image resolution).

There is a false premise out there that a fast GPU solves most performance problems. But this is untrue in a significant number of real-world cases. Anyway, what matters is what actually happens in the real world, for the work one actually does.

I wondered how fast CPU vs GPU would be on my 3.3 GHz 8-core 2013 Mac Pro. This test was prompted by the painfully slow response time in the Photoshop/ACR window. That the time (below) is only 1.34 seconds per file is impressive, but it is far slower than that due to poor software design (and bugs) in the Photoshop/ACR window—and that window is my gating factor for getting work done (previewing, choosing, changing processing settings, etc).

While the GPU-enabled results are slightly and consistently faster, the processing time difference is 2% or less, which is meaningless within the margin of error and meaningless in a workflow. The CPU-based approach is just as fast as the fastest *dual* GPU option Apple offers* (D700 GPUs). A 4-core or 6-core Mac Pro or 4-core iMac might be a bit slower, but the D700 GPUs are the fastest GPUs Apple offers and yet they have nothing to offer in this workflow challenge. Worse, most users do not order the D700 GPUs (fastest) but instead have the slower D300 or D500 GPUs.

Curiously, the Hasselblad X1D files take significantly longer to process, whereas in the Photoshop ACR window, they are much more responsive to work with.

* I don’t know if Photoshop uses both GPUs or not.

System config: 2013 Mac Pro 8-core 3.3 GHz with D700 GPUs, macOS 10.12.4, Photoshop CC 2017.0308.r.207.

Seconds to convert 123 Fujifilm raw RAF (lossless compressed) to TIF

Mike H writes that the Adobe web site states that “Camera Raw currently doesn't take advantage of more than one graphics processor. Using two video adapters does not enhance Camera Raw's performance” and also that

For ACR specifically, I don't think export operations are accelerated though I'm not 100% sure.  I think only some editing options in ACR are accelerated.  I think your nearly identical results might support this.

DIGLOYD: both points make makes sense since little difference is seen. If anything, it argues strongly to a point I’ve made for years about assessing one’s own specific workflow for whether paying for a faster GPU is worthwhile. The GPU of course may be helpful in Photoshop and Lightroom in other areas, so it all gets down to what one’s actual workflow involves.

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Shootout: Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 vs 32-64mm f/4 — Pine Creek South Fork

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR
Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8

On a related note, see Zoom or Prime Lens?.

A key question for the Fujifilm GFX shooter might be whether the GF 32-46mm f/4 can eliminate the need for the GF 63mm f/2.8 — skipping the smaller prime altogether, the one stop of lens speed not being particularly relevant versus just raising ISO one stop. I wanted to answer this question on my recent trip.

In terms of subject matter, this scene below was not my preferred subject of the three that were shot to cross-check, but it is the one that offers the most clear-cut view of what is going on. Moreover a far distance scene is the most demanding of any test, mercilessly revealing all weaknesses.

Compared: Fujifilm 63mm f/2.8 vs 32-64mm f/4

Image sizes up to full resolution from f/2.8 and f/4 through f/9.

 

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Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Focus Stack: Sunlit Picnic Table in Snow Squall

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

Even at f/11 at 33mm, depth of field is very limited, a confounding issue with medium format, since diffraction rapidly kills image quality past f/11. Hence focus stacking is highly relevant for landscape shooting or tabletop shooting where one wishes for the image to retain reasonably good contrast (which f/16 would destroy) and yet much more depth of field is needed than a single shot can provide.

Here I wanted to see what I could do to make a near-to-far composition under challenging conditions (blowing snow, moving water) with focus stacking.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 Focus Stack: Sunlit Picnic Table in Snow Squall

Image sizes up to full resolution.

Presented in both black and white and color, with commentary on the GFX sensor quality.

A late-March snow squall made for blowing snow and sun for a brief time, but with temperatures well below freezing and very strong wind, I sought shelter in the car not long after shooting this scene, though the table looked to have been pleasant for lunch, had the sun been warmer and the wind absent. The sun had been a bit stronger before could set up the shot, but at least I got some good directional light onto the table.

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All Time Record Snowpack in California Sierra Nevada

Truly, the Sierra are nevada.

The storm three days ago dumped another 2 to 3 feet of snow on the Sierra Nevada in areas I frequent. According to Dennis Mattinson’s Eastern Sierra weather blog (see also his Hwy 395 Weather site) we are now at an all-time record and with another storm heading in soon:

MON APR 10 2017: Saturday saw brisk conditions with a continuation of rain and snow showers with gusty winds. Mammoth Mountain is now at 586 inches for the season. But what is more important, the latest update from DWP showed the water content at Mammoth Pass at 88.0 inches of water. The record breaking winter of 1969 saw 86.5 inches. That makes the winter of 2017 the biggest winter in recorded history!

Sunday the “one shot system” cleared the area leaving cool temps and sunny skies, as shortwave ridging fills in behind. But this won’t last for long, as a weak system brings some snow showers to the mountains on Tuesday, then another stronger system Wednesday night into Thursday. So Stay tuned

We can use the water, but I’m feeling grumpy now, sort of: so much snow this year that many of my favorite haunts will be snowbound until mid July—50 feet of snow at higher elevations will take a long time to melt (and not all of it will). That said, a warm rain last month melted most snow at 7000' and below, where it had also been deep, making it all very misleading unless one goes up in elevation and sees the impressive depth. Most frustrating is that several favorite fishing holes and photographic favorite sites are not likely to ice-out until mid July. Barring very hot weather for a few weeks.

I spoke to the two caretakers at the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine, who told me that they think half the bighorn sheep died from avalanches this winter. Many deer died also, because their range was tightly restricted by the snow moving almost into the bottom of the Owens valley, greatly reducing the food supply and concentrating the deer all competing for the remaining forage. This also concentrated mountain lions, with three individuals in the Pine Creek valley alone (highly unusual for anti-social animals which require a large range for adequate meat supply, but a dense food source will do that).

Flooding could be modest to severe this year, but that depends heavily on whether we have a heat wave that could cause rapid melting and thus severe flooding (I would not want to live near Sacramento!). The Owens River in the Owens Valley was already flooding its banks in the middle areas in early April and old dry and stagnant drainages that have not seen water in years may run deep for a while when LADWP starts making big water releases, as it has begun to do. This will kill bass in some areas from fast high volume water flows that bass cannot tolerate. The best thing would be for a long cool spring into July, for steady but not overly rapid melting.

I am deeply unhappy at the incompetent autofocus of the Fujifilm GFX, unable to give me a sharp image here and with many other field images at distance, though this is image is good enough for web display when downsized. Is it that hard to focus on high contrast black and white subject matter dead-center in the frame? I can find no way to reliably obtain optimal focus either with autofocus or manual focus with the GFX. See Fujifilm GFX Autofocus and Manual Focus in the Field which shows the full-res version of this image, badly damaged by focusing incompetence of the GFX.

Mt Warren (?) at 12326' elevation towers above Lundy Canyon and Lundy Reservoir
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Fujifilm 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @ 32mm: 9050 Pine Creek Road

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

I have a great deal of material I shot with the Fujifilm GFX on my trip. There is good news and bad news, but either way all three shipping lenses will fill out their coverage over the next week.

On the good news front: battery life of the GFX is superb. Off the cuff, I’d say its 3X to 4X as good as with the Hasselblad X1D.

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR at 32mm on a distance scene. It also assess focus accuracy and focus stability.

Fujifilm 32-64mm f/4 Aperture Series @ 32mm: 9050 Pine Creek Road

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

Commentary on focus accuracy and total image quality is included. See in particular these two pages:

Autofocus and Manual Focus in the Field

Focusing Protocol for Aperture Series

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Fujifilm GFX: Moiré Examples + Astrophotography

Like most medium format cameras, the Fujifilm GFX has no anti-aliasing filter. With high performance lenses, this can lead to severe moiré problems that make images unacceptable for professional use.

Problem areas include fabrics, architectural features like window screens, and in general anything with repeating spatial frequency at a reproduction ratio that puts that spatial detail at close to sensor resolution.

Update: I’ve added examples with a metal-siding building and brush.

Fujifilm GFX Moiré Examples

Sample image was shot at f/5.6 with the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm. That moiré shows up is a testament to very high resolving power and micro contrast of the lens. At the time, I had no inkling that the image would be severely degraded by moiré, but the results are truly ugly and should be understood as something a professional may have to deal with and be aware of for some subjects.

Separately:

Fujifilm GFX Astrophotography: 30 seconds at ISO 100 at f/2.8, 5 stop push

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Fujifilm 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Pine Amid Bare Trees

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR

This series assesses the Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR at medium-far distance in strongly blue mountain canyon shade at dusk. The background brush and trees gives an excellent test for correction of secondary color and the out-of-focus foreground shows us color correction also.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Pine Amid Bare Trees

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

My commentary includes some general thoughts on medium format versus 35mm in the context of color correction and lens speed.

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Caution on Photoshop CC 2017 Update: Missing/Black Windows and Palettes Require Quitting Photoshop

System config: dual screen setup, 2013 Mac Pro 8-core 3.3 GHz, macOS 10.12.4, Photoshop CC 2017.0308.r.207.

Update 10 April: I have determined that the bug is NOT related to scripting. I just opened a single raw file via ACR in Photoshop, and upon clicking the Open button, nothing appeared, and all other windows disappeared (but are still listed in the Windows menu).

This bug is provoked in ways I don’t fully understand, but it happens with some javascript image preparation scripts I have used for many years now. It might happen in other cases as well; I am not sure since it comes as a surprise each time. It might involve full screen mode, but of that I am also unsure.

The behavior is all-new (never seen before) and extremely destructive to my workflow because the only fix is to quit Photoshop when it occurs—a serious hit to productivity.

What happens:

  1. All windows disappear completely, including all palettes. They are shown in the Windows menu, but choosing a window does nothing.
  2. Switching to another app and then back to Photoshop results in all-black or all white content area of windows which do not zoom or close or do anything properly. Nor does clicking on a window bring Photoshop to the foreground (if it is in the background). Windows can be tiled or stacked via the Windows menu, but they remain black.

As shown below, some commands show a portion of the image, but the main window remains unusable. I’ve emailed my Adobe quality assurance contact and I hope to hear back this week.

Black unresponsive window bug in Photoshop CC 2017
White unresponsive window bug in Photoshop CC 2017
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Spring Has Sprung

Away for a week, when I returned home my cherry trees had blossomed and set fruit, the persimmons were fully leafed out with 3-4 inches of new growth, the pomegranates were dense bushes again and the first-crop figs were already half-sized (figs bear a small crop in early July, then a larger one in September/October).

Meanwhile, a violently windy and rainy storm ripped off a lot of new growth from the oak tree, leaving it scattered on my deck, moving along to the Sierra Nevada to dump another two feet or so of new snow on the high peaks.

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So much snow this year that many of my favorite haunts will be snowbound until nearly July—50 feet of snow at higher elevations, though a warm rain last month melted most snow at 7000' and below, where it has also been deep, making it all very misleading unless one goes up in elevation and sees the impressive depth. I spoke to the two caretakers at the Pine Creek Tungsten Mine, who told me that they think half the bighorn sheep died from avalanches this winter. Many deer died also, because their range was tightly restricted by the snow moving far lower than in past years. This also concentrated mountain lions with three individuals in the Pine Creek valley alone (highly unusual, but a dense food source will do that).

Flooding could be severe this year, but that depends heavily on whether we have a heat wave that could cause rapid melting and thus flooding (I would not want to live near Sacramento!). The Owens River in the Owens Valley is already flooding its banks in the middle areas and old dry and stagnant drainages that have not seen water in years may run deep for a while when LADWP starts making big water releases, as it has begun to do. This will kill bass in some areas from fast high volume water flows that bass cannot tolerate. The best thing would be for a long cool spring and early summer, for steady but not overly rapid melting.

In limited areas, some of that surplus overflows and then soaks in to replenish the underground aquifer. Pumping surplus water underground makes a lot more sense. Maybe someday.

The failure of California to build any new reservoirs for 30 years (as well as retiring others and the maintainance incompetence on display at Oroville) leads to the tragedy of letting most of the surplus flow out to sea even while central valley farmers still will see reduced water allotments. Low allotments require more underground pumping, which leads to land subsidence, which leads to all sorts of secondary problems—this has been happening in spades for years now. There are huge short and long term ramifications caused by subsidence, which has actually cut the capacity of the California Aqueduct to carry water by 20%, not to mention leaving some communities with no water source at all. Here’s a staggering figure: the land was sinking by two inches per month in the San Joaquin Valley last year, complicating designs for the Bullet Train Boondoggle. Everything has a price and its consequences, a fact ignored by those that malign the idea of new dams, new storage (of some kind) being desperately needed for high precipitation years like this one.

Last year, there was virtually no snow in this spot, below, about 8000' elevation. And this is relatively low, where warm March rains melted a lot of the snow and made it denser.

Snow on the descent near Kirkwood, CA
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Fujifilm GFX Dynamic Range Under Real Field Conditions: “Lundy Canyon Boulders and High Clouds”

I chose this scene for its drama, but it presents a severe dynamic range challenge for any camera, from dark shadows under the shrubs and boulders to the brilliant backlit clouds—very difficult to capture. This example looks at achievable and usable dynamic range:

  • The ability of the 32-64mm f/4 zoom to hold dynamic range by avoiding veiling and ghosting flares into an extremely high contrast lighting situation.
  • The ability of the Fujifilm GFX sensor to deliver high quality foreground detail free of noise even when exposed for the intensely bright backlit clouds in the sky.
  • Overall image quality with aggressive contrast control given the extreme dynamic range of the scene: how does pixel quality hold up in total?

There was no way to stop down for acceptable near-to-far depth of field: f/11 falls well short of needed depth of field, and f/16 would have degraded the image via diffraction beyond what I consider acceptable. Accordingly, the image as presented is a 2-frame focus stack.

This image is stunning on an iMac 5K, particularly the black and white rendition.

Fujifilm GFX Real World Dynamic Range: Lundy Canyon Boulders and High Clouds

Presented in both color and black and white. Includes images up to full resolution, ACR processing settings and RawDigger histograms.

This image could not have been made with color reversal film; it would have consisted of a pure black foreground and properly exposed sky, or a blown-out sky and properly exposed foreground. Only an expert processing approach (e.g. Ansel Adams’ Mt Williamson) with black and white negative film could have delivered the dynamic range seen here! Such are the wonders of modern digital cameras. MOMA has an excellent rendition of Mt Williamson. Sometime I hope to be in the Manzanar/Mt Williamson area during weather like this, and shoot for the effects seen in this image.

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Reviewed: Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8

Get Zeiss Batis at B&H Photo.

In Guide to Mirrorless, my review of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar is now published in the Zeiss Batis lens section.

At about $1999, this is the most expensive Zeiss Batis yet, but this is understandable given the world-class apochromatic performance.

I’m on the road for another day or two in the mountains, but will have more to say on the 135/2.8 when I return.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 APO-Sonnar

Zeiss press release:

Compact Portrait Tele Lens for Sony E-Mount with Autofocus

The new ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 is the first 135 mm AF focal length for mirrorless full-frame cameras from Sony.

OBERKOCHEN/Germany, 5 April 2017

Fans of Sony’s mirrorless full-frame cameras have a reason to smile: ZEISS has added a further tele lens focal length to its ZEISS Batis lens family. The new ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 is the first 135 mm AF focal length for Sony’s Alpha 7 system with E-mount. Like all lenses from the ZEISS Batis range, this new addition is equipped with fast and precise autofocus. To avoid shaking, which can occur very easily with tele lenses, an optical image stabilizer has also been incorporated into the design. The ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 proves it worth particularly in portrait photography: “The tele focal length means the subject can stand out nicely against the blurred background”, says Product Manager Michael Pollmann from ZEISS. “The bokeh works very well indeed, and the optical design – an Apo Sonnar – ensures outstanding images time and again.” The new ZEISS Batis could also be a great option for event and wedding photography.

“Compact, lightweight, top quality”

“The advantage of Sony’s mirrorless full-frame system is that despite its compact size, it delivers exceptional image quality,” says Pollmann. ZEISS has continued to bring the design of the ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 into line with the needs of Sony photographers. “It was important to build a comparably handy lens – in spite of the rather long focal length. We made a conscious decision to strike a balance between compactness, weight and light intensity.”

OLED display visualizes depth of focus

Like all ZEISS Batis lenses, this latest addition features an OLED display that enables precise visualization of the depth of field. So you can be sure that the image is in focus in all the right places. The metal housing gives the lens its robust and durable character. ZEISS assures us that its dust and dirt shield means photo shoots in poor weather are a walk in the park. The image quality leaves nothing to be desired: “We have put a lot of effort into the optical design and into correcting our lenses,” says Pollmann. “For example, we are experimenting with special types of glass in order to rule out as many kinds of image errors as possible. We have thus been able to ensure corrected chromatic aberration in the ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 so that we have virtually no image errors.” 14 lenses have been built into 11 groups in the camera lens.

Price and availability

The ZEISS Batis 2.8/135 will be available from specialist dealers starting May 2017 and will retail at 1,999 euros incl. 19 percent sales tax (RRP).

Fujifilm GFX Documentary Use: Fish Electroshock Survey

In what I think will prove an interesting test of the Fujifilm GFX for documentary style work, tomorrow I have volunteered to participate in an electroshock fish survey where the fish are stunned, netted, measured, weighed then returned unharmed to the water. Such surveys establish the health of the trout population and other stuff I hope to learn about.

I was thinking to simply volunteer for the necessary trout-handling chores, but it seems that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has few good images of such work. So I’ve taken thought to photographing it as my primary task instead.

As I did not bring Sony mirrorless with me on this trip, I will take the Fujifilm GFX, perhaps the Canon 5Ds R with Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 for ultra wide, and still I wonder if the iPhone 7 Plus might prove most useful of all for fast/close work (flopping fish!) and wide views (panorama feature in particular)—but I’ll press the GFX into service for starters, probably with the 32-64mm zoom only, since it is a 900-foot descent deep into the Owens River Gorge (“The Gorge” as locals call it)—a modest elevation descent/gain, but steep and loose, so I do not want to carry too heavy a load.

The f/4 speed of the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm is regrettably slow, so perhaps I will lug the 63mm f/2.8, but I think it makes more sense to just raise the ISO a stop, rather. The 120/4 would be good for closeups, but flopping fish and depth of field are wildly incompatible.

I shot a bunch of photos with the Fujifilm GFX (worked well), but here I was responsible for the bucket, and I used the iPhone.

Electroshock survey for Brown Trout in The Gorge near Bishop, California
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Below, this Brown Trout at about 15.5" was by far the largest of those 170 or so trout surveyed in the surveyed riffle section. The fisheries biologist tells me that this is not considered a healthy fish. Basically it is not getting enough to eat in spite of many smaller fingerling prey fish: the lack of deep water pools makes that prey inaccessible.

Brown Trout, the largest of those surveyed at about 15.5 inches
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Hasselblad X1D: Autofocus Errors with XCD 90mm f/3.2 Update: Confirmed, Hasselblad Working On It

See Hasselblad X1D: Unacceptable Autofocus Errors with XCD 90mm f/3.2.

Hasselblad has confirmed the issue and is working on it.

The errors relate to the way autofocus interacts with the spatial frequency of the subject. This fits well with my field observations of the type of subject matter on with the X1D misbehaved.

Cold April Storm

I scooted across Carson Pass with a cold April storm following me south as I went. It got down to 22°F at 8000' elevation, quite cold for this time of year. Sub-freezing near Lee Vining and Sherwin Summit. A little snow, but mainly very high winds. I got some nice shots with the GFX, or so I hope, taking a little time en route in a few places.

Near Bishop, CA and elsewhere, long trains of semi-trailer trucks sat parked along the road—hundreds—the CHP had set up a roadblock stopping all big rigs due to extreme winds. Owens Lake was a dust nightmare but I got past it to the dirt road up to Cerro Gordo where I write this somewhere in that canyon, which by good fortune sees an AT&T tower with Lte.

Last year, there was virtually no snow in this spot, below, about 8000' elevation. And this is relatively low, where warm March rains melted a lot of the snow and made it denser.

Snow on the descent near Kirkwood, CA
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Snow flurries on Hwy 395
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Fast-moving snow squall, high winds
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Site Login was broken for a few hours

Site login for subscribers was broken for a few hours—my apologies.

I am on the road and I had typed an inappropriate command on my web server, and had not noticed. All logins should be working now, so I can enjoy a cozy night up a canyon lucky enough to have an AT&T LTE signal so I caught this before snoozing thanks to a user alerting me.

Shooting the Fujifilm GFX in the Field

As per yesterday’s post, the Fujifilm GFX + 120mm f/4 has some kind of unstable focus problem, which I believe is an electronic glitch (my working theory). It appears to be “safe” to shoot the 120/4 for the initial (single) shot, after that all my aperture series show damage from this glitch. Definitely unsafe to shoot more than one frame in succession (without refocusing) with the 120/4. That is with a 2nd brand-new 120/4 and brand-new GFX; this is no “bad sample” problem but a serious bug.

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4

Accordingly, I am taking the GFX on my trip to the Eastern Sierra along with the 32-64mm f/4 zoom, the 63mm f/2.8, and the 120mm f/4. I am going to be careful in that I will refocus for each of the frames so that I can obtain full image quality (which of course makes stitching all but a non-starter, but oh well).

That is to say: my working theory is that focusing before every shot will bypass the glitch. I don’t yet know if the glitch affects the other two lenses, but I don’t want to come back with many gigabytes of garbaged aperture series.

Review of Fujifilm GFX system

It’s terribly difficult in the field to shoot a system that is unstable when I don’t know the root cause, but the GFX sensor is a worthy sensor, and I think I can make things work out to show the best the system has to offer from each of these lenses, even if I cannot reliably do my usual aperture series approach. So I’ll just refocus each shot and I should be able to get optimal results for each individual shot.

Impressive: the GFX can focus on a single bright star for night shots, at least with the 63mm f/2.8. Update 2: not so fast: the focus is no good, and I ended up with a blurry 8 minute exposure. Gah!

I think I’ll do a fair amount of work at Cerro Gordo, which has lots of interesting stuff for all these lenses (the road is open and free of snow as of today). If by chance a reader wants to meet me for a photo tour, I will be available on April 2/3/4/5 or thereabouts for Cerro Gordo and the Eastern Sierra, White Mountains, and northern Death Valley. One day or more. We can do whatever you prefer: photography in general, stitching, panos, 'post, whatever.

Below, one of the old mining building at Cerro Gordo (NOT a Fujifilm GFX shot)

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SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

New Deals on MacBook Pro, Mac Mini

See my review of the late 2016 MacBook Pro Retina.

See also OWC deals on used Macs.

B&H Photo has just posted a batch of steeper discounts on MacBook Pro models from 2015 and 2016 as well as Mac Mini.

Special deal $800 off 2015 MacBook Air 2.2 GHz / 8GB / 512GB. Ends March 30.

These discounts are greater than have generally been available so far. Discounts not shown on some items—click through to see savings.

 

Followup: Fujifilm GFX and 120mm f/4 Focus Shift Problems

As per my findings of the damaging focus shift problems with the Fujifilm 120mm f/4, I have a brand-new Fujifilm GFX and brand-new 120mm f/4 that just showed up today.

Review of Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4

I have reproduced the focus shift problems with the 120/4 with a brand new 120mm f/4 and a brand new GFX. This disproves any “bad sample” theory. I suspect an electronic glitch bug between camera and lens, though it is difficult to be sure of the cause.

I cannot yet say if this is only an issue with the 120mm, or a general one, though based on some other unexplained behaviors, I suspect that it is a general one that may manifest more subtly with other lenses (e.g., shorter focal lengths might be less obvious). And/or not manifest when used in single-shot point and shoot mode, that is, refocusing each shot, shooting a frame, repeating that.

The GFX + 120/4 behavior as it stands is unacceptable to me (unusable for the way I like to work), and rules out the GFX as a system I would consider. Consequently I cannot possibly recommend it. However, others might use the camera differently and not encounter this issue (e.g. different lenses and/or single-shot point and shoot usage).

I am still waiting for a Fujifilm followup call from weeks ago when I contacted technical support. Fujifilm can choose to ignore the issue as is their sole choice, but I will say this: the value of any camera system hinges on its commitment to customer service and quality. When a well known reviewer calls in with a camera issue, it might make sense to follow up and engage. But alas, I’ve seen this movie before.

While the X1D has its issues, many are fixable in firmware and it is far more elegant in conception, and a brilliant mind is going to move Hasselblad forward. And its focus is stable. I’d say bet on a winning horse, not a donkey.

I had planned on taking the GFX plus 120/4, 63/2.8 and 32-64/4 zoom with me on my trip to the Eastern Sierra, shooting after I ride the Southern Inyo Double Century. I may still do so, but I fear that if the 32-64mm and 63mm lenses suffer the same type of glitch, that I could return home with degraded results or total garbage in some cases.

It’s terribly difficult in the field to shoot a system that is unstable when I don’t know the root cause, or if I can work around it. I’ll probably have to refocus each frame, hoping for the best, and check images each night (hard to do on a retina display). I feel obligated to at least make some solid example images, even if the camera is unsuited for aperture series. But I do not look forward to using the GFX after using the elegant Hasselblad X1D with its clean conceptual approach*.

* If Fujifilm’s operating principle is to shovel flawed consumer-oriented Fujifilm X firmware into a GFX, it isn’t working operationally or conceptually for me. The GFX was clearly conceived as just one more X camera, one with a bigger sensor. This is true right down deep into its firmware and menus and feature set. It just doesn’t come together for me like the Hasselblad X1D does.

Below, it is hard to get a cat to be still for 2.3 seconds, but here it is (crop). The 120/4 is razor sharp wide open.

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Slumming

With full apologies to Fujifilm (it’s not fair I suppose and will light up the Fujifilm message boards), but this made me laugh, I do not disagree, and I think it hits a nail on the head that cannot be unhit. From a reader who first tried the GFX and now has the X1D, expressing his own reactions:

The GFX is a bit of a retro nightmare for me in comparison. Basically the GFX is a continuation of the D810 (in my mind, with all of the past problems, etc.) but more slumming, like going from a Porsche Cayenne to a Nissan Pathfinder. The GFX is, for my work, not an improvement on the D810, but a come-down.

Choosing a camera is personal in some ways, and so the above comment is relevant or irrelevant on a personal basis. I find it highly relevant in this sense: it might apply or might anti-apply—different people shoot differently.

Hasselblad Appoints Ming Thein as Chief of Strategy

See my review of the Hasselblad X1D system in Medium Format.

I consider Ming Thein a personal friend and I am pleased to see this announcement.

For me at least, it brings additional comfort with the Hasselblad X1D system in particular, and what it might become over time.

Ming Thein

2017-03-28 Hasselblad, the leader in high-quality professional medium format cameras, today announced that Hasselblad ambassador Ming Thein has been appointed as Chief of Strategy.

During his former role as a Hasselblad ambassador, Ming Thein serviced industrial and corporate documentary clients across Asia and further afield. Based out of Kuala Lumpur, Ming specialises in representing the lifecycle of a company – from the people behind the creation to abstract beauty of the finished product – be it massive civil engineering projects, interiors or precision timepieces.

Location work is his forte, with clients including some of the largest developers and construction firms in Asia. Ming also holds an MA in Physics from The University of Oxford, and served as a director at various finance and private equity firms in Asia before quitting to pursue a lifelong dream of something visual, creative and specifically involving photography.

In his new role as Chief of Strategy at Hasselblad, Ming will use his customer experience insights to influence the future product roadmap, while helping to strengthen Hasselblad’s market position and meet the needs of semi-professional and professional photographers.

Speaking about his new role as Chief of Strategy at Hasselblad, Ming Thein said:

“I’m very excited to enter the next chapter of my relationship with Hasselblad; it is an honour to work with a brand that has such a strong history and such great people. I look forward to helping shape the company’s future product strategy to ensure Hasselblad continues to be a leader in photography, image quality and supporter of the arts.”

Paul Bram, Hasselblad CEO, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Ming Thein on board as our new Chief of Strategy. The combination of his skills as an accomplished photographer and a Hasselblad ambassador mean that Ming has expert insights into our target consumers. We look forward to working with Ming to help shape the future.”

Followup: Fujifilm GFX and 120mm f/4 Focus Shift Problems

As per my findings of the damaging focus shift problems with the Fujifilm 120mm f/4, I have a new Fujifilm GFX and new 120mm f/4 showing up tomorrow.

I may have just enough time to confirm (or not) my findings with the first camera and lens as documented extensively in my review. Or I may have to do so in the field. Either way, I will have an answer relatively soon as to whether the atrocious behavior occurs with an all-new GFX+120/4.

Review of Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4

UPDATE 28 March: I have reproduced the horrific focus stability problems with a brand new 120mm f/4 and a brand new GFX. This disproves any “bad sample” theory. I suspect an electronic glitch bug between camera and lens, though its impossible to say.

I will be taking the GFX plus 120/4, 63/2.8 and 32-64/4 zoom with me on my trip to the Eastern Sierra, shooting after I ride the Southern Inyo Double Century.

 
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Hasselblad X1D: Unacceptable Autofocus Errors with XCD 90mm f/3.2 (Update)

UPDATE April 2: Hasselblad has confirmed the issue and is working on it. It involves the way autofocus interacts with the spatial frequency of the subject, which fits perfectly with my field observations of the shooting situations that saw an issue.

...

See yesterday’s post for details and discussion, including independent confirmation with the 30mm, 45mm, 90mm lenses by a reader.

Now updated with five additional examples:

Hasselblad X1D Autofocus Accuracy, Examples

I am working with Hasselblad and expect to have an alternate X1D and 90/3.2 in 2 weeks or so to also test, but Howard’s comments seem to rule out a single-camera or single-lens issue and support my original findings in every way.

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Storage Wishlist…

Hasselblad X1D Highlight Discrimination and Nuanced Detail Example: Mission Mural

In the Hasselblad X1D Imaging Quality section in my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format I present a deceptively simple example:

Hasselblad X1D: Distinguishing Nuanced Detail (Mission Painting)

Includes images up to full resolution.

This example shows a total sum quality that is remarkable, and worth studying at full resolution for all sorts of nuanced image quality aspects. Not a technical analysis at all—just an image that really impresses me, as have field images. I may have to go to a safe space, being so triggered by the results here and with some other images—oh yeah—the X1D loaner has to go back now so I can relax, sort of: I have just about reached the tipping point of lusting after an X1D, in spite of the autofocus issue. More images to come that support that idea.

What particularly impresses me about the X1D is the highlight discrimination, the subtle nuances of detail in high-key areas, a quality that I sense is lacking in nearly all 35mm format cameras, the sole possible exception being the Nikon D810 (and I am not sure on that count!).

This image really has to be seen at full resolution on an iMac 5K to be fully appreciated.

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John G writes:

In your March 25 post, you’ve expressed expertly what I’m seeing in the Hasselblad files: Observable detail, nuance, and an expanded tonality in the high-key areas. I would add that these type of observations require a degree of open-minded empiricism—for which you should be applauded. I would also say, and I’m sure you’d agree, that the causes behind the phenomenon are not beyond technical analysis. We just need a way to do it, to measure it—a testing protocol that would explicate an aspect of IQ that is clearly—and repeatedly—observable in the images produced by the Hasselblads.

DIGLLOYD: I am pretty sure that the mapping over the dynamic range or the sensor (see notes in Shootout vs Nikon D810, Flowers) and the 16-bit gradation are involved.

Hasselblad X1D: Unacceptable Autofocus Errors with XCD 90mm f/3.2

UPDATE April 2: Hasselblad has confirmed the autofocus issue and is working on it. It involves the way autofocus interacts with the spatial frequency of the subject, which fits perfectly with my field observations of the shooting situations that saw an issue.

...

I really enjoyed shooting the X1D in the field (Carrizo Plain). I could easily see it being my field camera of choice (assuming that 22mm happens along), even if I had to use manual focus 100% of the time. It works well even on a small tripod and rig.

Update 1: the X1D has/had the latest firmware. The 90mm f/3.2 had firmware 0.5.1, which I have now updated to the latest, version 0.5.3. I have no word as yet from Hasselblad as to whether 0.5.3 vs 0.5.1 could be responsible. I would also emphasize that bugs are bugs, and that most of the time the 90/3.2 focuses properly and that I have seen many a camera have focus errors. However, I deem "most" a non-starter from what I experienced. If a bug as I posit, then any claim by others (no matter how skilled) of “works for me” doesn’t work for me.

Update 2: with lens firmware 0.5.3, I have reproduced the problem and will add a few more examples. Also, I am working with Hasselblad and expect to have an alternate X1D and 90/3.2 in 2 weeks or so to re-test.

Accordingly I’m very disappointed to have to report and document this appalling behavior, but it is totally consistent and matches the front-focus errors I saw back in December 2016 in images from a pre-production camera.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format:

Hasselblad X1D Autofocus Accuracy, Examples

Includes full-resolution examples and crops which can be toggled between razor-sharp manual focus and the disappointment of autofocus.

Hasselblad X1D

These failures render autofocus unusable in this sense: if the X1D can fail this badly under brightly-lit high-contrast conditions, then the working assumption must be that autofocus accuracy is suspect at all times, thus requiring manual confirmation of focus via magnified Live View every time, thus making the X1D a manual focus camera, at least with the 90/3.2.

I also experienced various short-term lockup problems requiring popping out the battery.

While I have more material to present from the X1D (already shot), the loaner X1D and the lenses must now go back. My intent is to add more coverage of the X1D when new lenses arrive and/or some other opportunity presents itself.

Howard C writes:

I updated the firmware for my XCD lenses this afternoon to 0.5.3 and went out to test the AF performance of the 30mm, 45mm, and 90mm lenses. Well, you were absolutely right. The AF performance of the lenses is significantly off compared to the MF in magnified live view. Not always, but in many cases.

Interestingly, I had tested the performance of the XCD lenses against the GFX zoom at 32mm and 45mm against the XCD primes last week. Sometimes the XCD primes were clearly superior, and yet there were a few other tests side by side where I could not figure out why the performance of the XCD lenses seemed relatively weak. Now I think I know.

I completely agree that the AF cannot be trusted. I need to manually focus in magnified live view. This was an invaluable observation by you. Hopefully, this can be corrected in a firmware update…soon.

DIGLLOYD: I try very hard when evaluating gear to save people time and money on what to buy (what is best for each person) and to save them the trauma of damaged images caused by camera errors. Let me state strongly that in no way am I singling out Hasselblad here; for exampes, the Leica SL had (and still has AFAIK) terrible issues, Nikon had a bad focus fiasco once and has problematic AF with many f/1.4 lenses to this day, the Fujifilm GFX has issues, and so on. The point is to be aware of the issues, and to incorporate the awareness into a decision to buy and/or how to use the gear once purchased.

With lens firmware 0.5.3, I have reproduced the problem several more times (easily, without particular effort), and I have added a few more examples. I concur exactly with Howard that it is “not always, but in many cases”. This is what I saw before, and saw again tonight with updated firmware. I would say that 1 time in 5 the AF will mis-focus (a very, very rough estimate)—at least with some subject matter—and I’m NOT talking about tricky 3D or ambiguous stuff, just stuff that the Sony A7R II would nail every time.

While I have not verified the issue with the 30/3.5 and 45/3.5, I have certain images that I am all but certain were degraded by mis-focus. But lacking MF/AF pairs shot wide open, I can only say that at f/8, a slightly soft image makes no sense at all near where focused—f/8 masks the error enough to fool most users.

I am working with Hasselblad and expect to have an alternate X1D and 90/3.2 in 2 weeks or so to also test, but Howard’s comments seem to rule out a single-camera or single-lens issue and support my original findings in every way.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Really Right Stuff Panorama and Gimbal Heads, Plus New “Shorty” Tripod

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

I had a chance to visit the Really Right Stuff headquarters in San Luis Obispo last week where I got a most excellent tour including the huge automated machining systems which turn solid blocks of aluminum feedstock into gorgeous parts ready for anodization. It was informative and I had a good talk with the folks there about their gear, and what I’d like to see as well.

While my trip to Carrizo Plain was cut short by car failure and 3 days were spent fishing instead of shooting while waiting for car repair over a long weekend, some Really Right Stuff gear is shown below, in field use. I will put it to more use in the future.

I’m amazed at how sub-mediocre the iPhone 7 image quality can be, including these shots—smearing and noise in mid-day light—so disappointing. And yet sometimes the photos can be much better—a puzzler as to the variable quality. I may have to go back to shooting iPhone raw.

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

This is the cat’s meow for making panos. Determine the entrance pupil (“nodal point”) for your camera + lens combo, note the offset on the laser-engraved markings (for future instant setup), and then quickly pan for making multi-shot panos free of parallax. The PG-02 is a heavy duty rig that is rock solid and a joy to use for this type of work (though not something I want to lug on a 10 mile hike!).

Not shown here but critical for entrance pupil positioning front/back (for stitched images) is the Really Right Stuff MPR-CL: MPR with integral clamp and/or the Really Right Stuff MPR CL II.

Because the base pans and is level, but the camera can be angled any way one wishes, both single-row and multi-row stitched images of any desired aspect ratios are easily done. There are a number of variants of this rig.

Shown below, Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head with B2-LLR-II clamp, with the Hasselblad X1D clamped in place via an L-plate, the Really Right Stuff BX1D-L. I used it in conjunction with the Really Right Stuff Leveling Base TA-3 (essential in order to level the head easily) on the Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod.

See also all Really Right Stuff pano-gimbal gear.

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head w/ B2-LLR-II clamp,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
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Really Right Stuff
PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head

Really Right Stuff PG-01 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

Really Right Stuff
MPR CL

While the PG-02 is heavy duty, the Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head is plenty sturdy for the Hasselblad X1D and certainly any Sony or Fujifilm mirrorless camera as well.

Like its PG-02 sibling, determine the entrance pupil (“nodal point”) for your camera + lens combo, note the offsets on the laser-engraved markings (for future instant setup), and then quickly pan for making multi-shot panos free of parallax.

Not shown here but critical for entrance pupil positioning front/back (for stitched images) is the Really Right Stuff MMPR-CL: MPR with integral clamp.

Here, the PG-01 is mounted on a new specialty 3-section tripod (not yet available), one that is ideally suited for making low and close images; see the next shot. The new offering is every bit as involved as the larger models, so cost will be similar to its larger siblings, but I really enjoyed the smaller form factor.

Shown below with the Hasselblad X1D clamped in place via the Really Right Stuff BX1D-L.

Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
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Really Right Stuff PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
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New shorty tripod

The new shorty tripod should be called the TFC-13S.

While the Really Right Stuff TFA-01 ULTRA Pocket Pod is superb for ultra-low shots, this new short tripod (model number TBD) is ideal for shots from about 8 inches to 2.5 feet off the ground.

The picture below shows why the new Really Right Stuff “shorty” model is so appealing for some kinds of work. The new shorty tripod is much faster and easier to get into the proper height and position versus a full-size tripod, particularly with the PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head. I just loved the time savings and ease of use! The 3 sections afford a working-height range that seems ideal for many types of shooting at close range, but it could also serve well set up on a table or rock, etc (for additional height). An optional integrated hand strap for carrying in the field was super handy also (and which I’d like to have on my larger tripods).

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L tripod with Arca Swiss Cube vs new shorty TFC-13S model with PG-01 Compact Pano-Gimbal Head,
Hasselblad X1D clamped in place with Really Right Stuff BX1D-L
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Carrizo Plain Flower Status, 2017

I had a Saturday morning double century lined up on Saturday March 18. As Murphy’s Law would have it, on Friday morning March 17 the ignition switch on my SUV failed (102K miles), rendering it unstartable, which took me out all of Friday getting it to the dealer and stuffing all my gear into a Nissan Versa rental (uggghhh).

I completed the double century a hour slower than I ought to have but having felt lousy for some weeks I consider it a roaring success. And included in that time, I did stop and wait for the women’s winner (former cat 1 rider) to fix a flat, who I 'pulled' for 150 miles (she drafted me). As is my wont, I took no draft. It took my body two hours to get into the groove, but then I settled into a decent pace thereafter... maybe seasonal allergies had been pulling me down and hormones when riding start to counteract any allergy lethargies.

Anyway, the double century done, and dealers shut for the weekend, ignition switch diagnosis and part ordered on Tuesday and fixed and back in my SUV late Wednesday.

Carrizo Plain Flower Status, 2017

I lost 4 shooting days and had to do a rush job at Carrizo Plain National Monument. Here’s a quick status using iPhone 7 photos. The Santa Barbara area and Carrizo Plain area did not get good rain until mid-February. Also, conditions were very cold (frost last night!), so the season looks delayed by a week or so. Whether recent substantial rains will encourage additional blooming I do not know.

  • Good bloom but modest compared to superbloom years, but a paucity and near absence of reds/pinks/oranges (isolated patches in only a few places).
  • Large patches of yellow, and some good blue/violet large fields in a few places; looks like more to come.
  • Poppies just starting to emerge at lower elevations, such as Crocker Springs Rd just past oil pumping fields east of the Plain.
  • A few small patches of brilliant orange something off Elkhorn Road near north end.
  • South end of Elkhorn Rd should hit its peak in a few days (the part up the grade to miles-long meadow).

With only a few isolated patches of orange and red and pink in a few places, the colors this year are strongly dominated by two types of yellow flowering plants, the one variety favoring slopes shown here, which I much prefer over the very small dark yellow weedy type which dominates many of the flat areas. The hills visible along Elkhorn Road and the hills east and west of the main road show this type of pattern.

Elkhorn Road grade, just east of Carrizo Plain National Monument
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Just off the main road, about 5 miles south of Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument
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Main road through Carrizo Plain National Monument, about 8 miles south of Soda Lake
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My SUV has about the best traction system available (real 4WD, independent on each wheel). I know from experience in Death Valley that it can out-perform even modified jeeps in mud/snow/sand (excluding the oversize tire variants of course). But with winter snow tires, this sticky clay goo (bentonite?) just coats tires with a half-inch thick slurry that has the car sliding sideways and all sorts of directions. Extreme caution advised in the clayish areas when wet.

The main road through Carrizo Plain was fine, but Elkhorn Rd in a few places was still very gooey on Thursday, much improved on Friday, but more rain was headed in for Saturday. For those with SUVs and good 4WD and tires, the entire Elkhorn Rd can be very nice, with some excellent side canyons particularly approaching the northern end.

I had not yet switched from my snow tires to my all-terrain A/T tires; the A/T tires shed mud and bite into this sort of stuff much better. All that said, it was much warmer on 24 March by mid-day, with things drying out very quickly. Still, crossing Panorama Drive was a deceivingly risky bet, with water just below the seemingly dry surface—attempt at your own peril and only with excellent tires and 4WD until the goo dries. I went in 100 meters or so and decided to back out, which was a rolicking back-and-forth slip-n-slide show. A few days should dry it out and while I probably could have made it across with the the 4WD system cranking at it hard and a lot of slipping and sliding, it was just not worth it and that lowest wettest middle section held unknown muddy 'fun' which might be loads of fun sinking into it. And more rain was on the way by mid-afternoon, and I was out of food, so I headed home, already 3 days delayed.

Extreme Caution Advised in Clay Soil Areas
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By 14:00 Friday March 24, clouds were massing rapidly, portending rain, which I encountered as I headed north to home.

Soda Lake appears to have much more water in it than 2016, and considerably more than the salt-pan conditions of 2015.

Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument
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Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Lens

The about $1499 Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS is not far off, and I’ll be reviewing it, along with something else nice for Sony soon.

With its apodization element, the brightness might be more like T/5.6 —should be interesting to see not only its highly unusual bokeh, but general performance characteristics.

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to 20 | T5.6 to 22
  • Apodization Element for Smooth Bokeh
  • One Aspherical Element, One ED Element
  • Nano AR Coating
  • Direct Drive SSM Focus System
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Ring-Switch to Change Focus Setting
  • Rounded 11-Blade Diaphragm
Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Lens
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Thoughts on What Constitutes Being Worth a Switch to Medium Format vis a vis Hasselblad X1D, Fujifilm GFX

An essay in my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format:

Hasselblad X1D vs Fujifilm GFX vs Standing Pat: Buying Advice

Sometimes things are clear-cut and sometimes they are not. A lot depends on usage, likes and dislikes, timeline and money. My essay looks at how the whole medium format thing has shaped up so far, and my general and specific thoughts on switch/upgrade.

Early Season Trout at Cachuma Lake

Once in a while I just take a day off, something relatively new to me (what does “weekend” mean for a self-employed person?). Something I’m still getting used to, sporadically.

I was down near Cachuma Lake Reservoir (Solvang, California) for the Solvang Spring Double Century on March 18, and so I decided to rent a boat and go trout fishing—overworked and needed some downtime just to enjoy sun and water and fresh air, as I did (plus a sunburn, gotta get one of these once a year).

It went well: 15.5", 18", 18.5", 19", 19.5" rainbow trout weighing in (real weight!) from about 1.8 pounds to 3.5 pounds. Tasty dinners, including last night. Good fighters all. The Big One got away due to knot failure—which is incredibly bad luck since my knots almost never fail. So if anyone out there catches a really large 'bow with a red/gold Thomas Buoyant hanging off its jaw, that’s the one. Maybe the line had a nick I did not spot. I had the most fun with a Thomas Buoyant lure, but nightcrawlers were about half the hookups. These are triploid (sterile) trout, and from what I understood, one is not allowed to catch and release—taking them is mandatory.

The next morning did not go so well: car would not start due to some security interlock problem requiring a flatbed tow. So here I sit inside a car dealer writing this blog entry, wondering about both my double century bike ride and about my plan to shoot wildflowers at Carrizo Plain National Monument with the Hasselblad X1D starting on Sunday 19 March.

See also 2016: The Year in Trout.

Get yourself a Benchmade knife for gutting trout in the field. Benchmade 943 as shown has a better shape and thickness to the blade that works ideally for gutting a fish. Benchmade 940 is also excellent for all-around use, but the blade shape is not quite as good for fish gutting. As shown, I put bright green gaffer’s tape on dark objects just in case I misplace or drop them in dim/dark conditions.

Rainbow Trout, Cachuma Lake
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See Cooking Fresh-Caught Fish on a Portable Yakitori Grill.

Rainbow Trout Dinner
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OWC ThunderBay 4 20TB RAID-4/5
4TB to 40TB, configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Now up to a whopping 40 Terabytes! TOP PICK

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art Available for Pre-Order as of 17 March

See Sigma DG HSM Art lens reviews in diglloyd Advanced DSLR.

It appears that the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art will be available for preorder as 17 March.

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art B&H Photo.

I discussed the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art back in February as well as the intriguing Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art and the bread-and-butter Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art.

Sigma is on a roll with its high performance Sigma DG HSM Art line for full frame cameras. I’ll be testing the new 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art and the new 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art.

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art IN STOCK
Fast High Performance Telephoto for Canon or Nikon
ends in 5 hours

Optimal Exposure via ETTR Can Deliver More Noise Benefit than Medium Format vs 35mm

Image quality with any digital camera can be maximized by paying attention to metered (auto) exposure versus what is optimal for the subject matter, which means getting the maximum light to the sensor that it can handle, without blowing out details. AKA “Expose to the Right” or ETTR.

With most cameras, including the Hasselblad X1D, optimal exposure is often a full stop greater than metered exposure, and frequently as much as 1.5 stops.

In the Optimal Images from Hasselblad X1D section in my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format I step through the camera histograms and relate those to RawDigger histograms, then show the actual images that result.

Hasselblad X1D: Increase Image Quality by Optimal Exposure (ETTR, Dolls)

Includes full-size images from both Adobe Camera Raw and Hasselblad Phocus at five exposure each, RawDigger histograms, Hasselblad X1D histograms, plus crops in color and black and white showing the noise behavior versus exposure.

For anyone looking for the best possible image quality and not having understood and mastered ETTR, this single in-depth article by itself is worth the entire price of admission. I mean that literally and many times over: you can spend many thousands of dollars on better gear when the gear you already have when used optimally can step up a full pay grade. This article is applicable for any brand camera.

Histogram from as-metered image, Hasselblad X1D
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Irix Lenses for Canon, Nikon, Pentax K

New wide angle lenses from Irix might be particularly interesting for Pentax and Nikon users.

While Canon offers the about $2699 Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L (highly recommended,see my review), Nikon users have not had a high quality 11mm option. Pentax K1 users have a dearth of high-quality optics in general. So these new offerings fill in some blank spots.

I do not yet know if the optical performance is there, but as f/4 designs there is a lot of promise and they are on my to-do list for review. Available in “Blackstone” (high-grade build) and “Firefly” options.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Hasselblad X1D: Better to Use Camera ISO or Push Base ISO 100 to Equivalent Higher ISO?

NOTE: the Hasselblad X1D went into stock at B&H Photo today. As I write this at 15:25 PST, the 45mm and 90mm lenses are IN STOCK. See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

....

Shooting at base ISO 100 with ideal ETTR exposure is always preferred, but shooting at higher ISO can be necessary, e.g., handheld shooting and/or keeping exposure times from becoming too lengthy (even on a tripod).

Is it better to raise the ISO in camera versus shooting at base ISO 100 with a push during raw conversion? Which approach delivers the best image quality?

In-camera processing for high-ISO presumably should bring to bear all the smarts the camera designer has to offer, including (potentially) characteristics of a particular sample of the sensor. But it is not a given. So I take a look to prove-out whether the assumptions hold:

Hasselblad X1D: Shooting at ISO 400/800/1600 vs ISO 100 Pushed (Dolls)

There is more to it than just the above. For example, an image at base ISO 100 might need a big shadow boost and/or push, such as with any outdoors high dynamic range scene. This series also addresses that question.

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NuGard KX Case for iPhones and iPads
Outstanding protection against drops and impact!
Excellent grip for wet hands, cycling, etc!

Hasselblad X1D: ISO 3200 Highlight Destruction in ACR vs Iridient Developer and Hasselblad Phocus (Dolls)

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

A check of the Nikon D810 through ISO 12800 shows that its high ISO exposure scales up with ISO, that is, the camera keeps gaining-up the raw file data—so there is no equivalent issue to contend with. The Fujifilm GFX was not available, as I am waiting for a replacement camera and 120mm f/4.

UPDATE: now includes results with Hasselblad Phocus. Also, this bug has been reported to the Adobe Camera Raw team as of 13 March 2017.

A must-read for any Hasselblad X1D shooter. I take pride in making my reviews far more than routine, and when I find goodies like this, I feel I’ve done my job well. At this point in time, I don’t know if lower ISO values are similarly damaged (versus higher ISO values only).

This page shows how Adobe Camera Raw 9.9.0 destroys a huge amount of perfectly-exposed high-key detail at ISO 3200 (and almost certainly other ISO value as well). No ACR settings could be found that avoid this wantonly destructive behavior.

ISO 3200 Highlight Destruction in ACR vs Iridient Developer and Hasselblad Phocus (Dolls)

Includes images up to full resolution. Proven with RawDigger histograms and by showing that Iridient Developer delivers high-grade images free of the problems seen with Adobe Camera Raw. This destructive behavior also exists in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (proof is shown), which shares the same ACR engine for raw conversion with Photoshop.

In essence, these results show that Adobe Camera Raw destroys at least two stops of dynamic headroom when shooting at ISO 3200 (and probably closer to three stops), at least with the Hasselblad X1D.

Unless and until Adobe fixes the raw conversion pipeline, a powerful case exists for photographers to consider Iridient Developer at the least for “special cases” for which Adobe Camera Raw incompetent to process the raw images. Iridient Developer is available as a free demo.

Severe loss of highlight color and detail with Adobe Camera Raw
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Fujifilm GFX ISO Series from 100 to 12800

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See also the Hasselblad X1D ISO series of this same scene.

In my review of the about $6495 Fujifilm GFX in the medium format section is now published an in-depth ISO series for the Fujifilm GFX:

Fujifilm GFX ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (Dolls)

Definitely worth a read for high ISO shooters considering medium format, particularly my analysis of the RawDigger histograms across the ISO range, and my take on the Hasselblad X1D vs Fujifilm GFX.

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UPDATED: Hasselblad X1D ISO Series from 100 to 25600

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

In my review of the about $8995 Hasselblad X1D in my new medium format section I have updated the ISO series page with a full RawDigger histogram series and commentary, discussing the curious behavior starting at ISO 6400 (scroll to end).

Hasselblad X1D ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (Dolls)

Definitely worth a read for high ISO shooters. I am finding similar behavior with the Fujifilm GFX.

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ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX + 120mm f/4 Macro: Focus Shift Summarized with Two Additional Proofs

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

A few days ago I reported an a stupefying focus shift problem with the Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR. I have now summarized my thoughts on the behavior:

Focus Shift Behavior of Fujifilm GFX + Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Macro

Although I observed exactly the same behavior in other series that same day as with the Baseball Diamond fiasco, I elected to confirm it with two other subjects on a subsequent day. In my review of the Fujifilm GFX system in Medium Format I’ve added two new studies (first two listed) which all confirm each other irrefutably:

Fujifilm 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series: Rodin Burghers of Calais

Fujifilm 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic

Fujifilm 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series: Baseball Diamond

Fujifilm 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series @ 1:10: Dolls

I am not happy to see the launch of a new system tainted by what I deem a non-starter, but there you have it. There is some slim hope that this is a camera issue (see my discussion), but that faint hope must wait until I receive a replacement GFX and a replacement 120mm f/4. Along with what I consider serious operational problems and a host of other irritations, I feel disappointed.

Update 28 March: I have reproduced the behavior with a brand new 120mm f/4 and a brand new GFX. This disproves any “bad sample” theory. I suspect an electronic glitch bug between camera and lens, though its impossible to say. I cannot say if this is only an issue with the 120mm, or a general one, though based on some other unexplained behavior I suspect that it is a general one that may manifest more subtly with other lenses. And/or not manifest if used in one-off-single-shot point and shoot mode. The GFX has some kind of focus stability problem across multiple shots; it might not apply to single-shot usage.

“I’ll shoot myself avant que j'arrive a Calais if the focus is off une foi plus... merde!”
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Can’t love focus results based on faith or hope, that’s as charitable as can be said
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Fujifilm GFX Late Dusk Exposures at ISO 100 and ISO 12800, 3 Stops Underexposed

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

I set out to compare ISO 100 to ISO 12800 using exposures that were both 3 stops underexposed (as per RawDigger), making for equivalent ISO of 800 and 102400.

In preparing this piece, I ran into some strange behavior, discussed in detail.

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX system in Medium Format :

ISO 100 Pushed and ISO 12800 in Low Light (Riparian Tree by Creek)

Includes images at up to full resolution plus RawDigger data, Fujifilm GFX rear LCD images, ACR Settings and ISO 12800 with and without chroma noise reduction.

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World of Sigma and especially Sigma ART Lenses

Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Mostly from those having bought and using the GFX.

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX system in Medium Format I have curated reader comments from two Fujifilm GFX owners, both serious photographers:

Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX System, With Responses

I think these perspectives, which are their own and not mine, are particularly valuable in their own right, particularly with my responses to them.

Update March 9th (in the link above): additional reader comment added. The sum total conversation is a review in itself, supported by what I have documented, with more of that documentation to come.

Update 11 March (in the link above): Michael E explains his final conclusions in a bit more specificity regarding the Fujifilm GFX vs Nikon D810 at ISO 64, and his large collection of APO lenses (scroll down to end of Michael’s comments).

I suggest reading my initial experience report after the above:

Fujifilm GFX Initial Experience

The problem GFX goes back tomorrow, and then I await a replacement, plus a replacement 120/4 so I can also confirm its focus shift behavior with a 2nd sample.

My report is far from complete; this is a new system and a new camera system like this has many aspects to cover. So far I’ve been disappointed in some ways, but there is a lot more to cover and the GFX will get the good and the bad covered.

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Yellow House at Dusk

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

This is an in-depth evaluation of the 63/2.8 with findings I consider highly relevant to the GFX system. I consider this distance scene as one comparable in makeup as to what one might do for a landscape shot (wide range of near to far detail). It has a lot of very fine detail at distance for checking out performance.

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX system in Medium Format I evaluate the about $1699 Fujifilm 63mm f/2.8:

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 63mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Yellow House at Dusk

Includes images from f/4 to f/16 at up to full resolution along with large crops.

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OWC ThunderBay 4 20TB RAID-4/5
4TB to 40TB, configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Now up to a whopping 40 Terabytes! TOP PICK

Reader Question: Focus Shift (stems from Fujifilm GFX findings, but applies to all brands)

I have found that focus shift confuses people.

Michael Erlewine writes about focus shift in reference to the GFX 120/4 tests:

If I understand properly, in manual focus, if I focus once, shoot at different apertures, and then examine them, the focus should be the same, aside from varying DOF?

If I understand you right, this problem is not just about autofocus, correct? I never use autofocus, for example. This affects me of course, whether I keep the system, the lens, etc.

DIGLLOYD: focus shift has nothing to do with autofocus vs manual focus. It is an optical behavior. It occurs with lenses from super wides to telephotos, and in some cases is used as a balancing aberration. I consider focus shift one of the most abused tradeoffs in optical design (wide angle lenses often need a little of it, no excuse for longer lenses), a tradeoff that is frequently unacceptable because accurate focus is the #1 determinant of image sharpness.

See Focus Shift and Spherical Aberration in Making Sharp Images as well as various articles and posts on focus shift on this site (that list is just partial, due to partial indexing, search for focus shift).

For real-time see-with-your-own eyes: “Video: Focus shift with the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar” under Challenge #5 in Focusing Zeiss DSLR Lenses For Peak Performance, PART ONE: The Challenges, also shown below for convenience.

Be sure to view at 1080p.

Video: Focus shift with the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Planar

MacPerformanceGuide.com

BH Photo Outdoor Gear Closeout Sale 50% Off

B&H Photo is having a closeout sale on outdoor gear at 50% off.

Deals won’t be repeated as this is a closeout sale. MOST STUFF IS 50% OFF!

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 120mm f/4 Macro Plus Aperture Series at Distance: Baseball Diamond

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

This is a WAVING RED FLAG article, an absolute must-read for anyone considering the Fujifilm GFX and in particular the 120mm f/4 macro. I confirmed my findings with two other independent series. I discuss the possible causes (somewhat unlikely, but hard to rule out until I get a replacement GFX).

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX system in Medium Format:

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series: Baseball Diamond

Includes images from f/4 to f/11 at up to full resolution along with large crops.

The problem I show is so damaging that I must now cease all evaluation of the Fujifilm GFX until a replacement arrives. While I believe the issue is optical, it makes no sense to proceed further until I rule-out the GFX itself and get a replacement 120mm f/4 lens.

A plain, but immensely instructive evaluation scene.

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Fujifilm GFX 50s + 120mm f/4 Macro Plus Diffraction and Sharpening Evaluations

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Kicking off my evaluation of the Fujifilm GFX in the Medium Format section, I start by evaluating the lens performance of the about $2699 Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 Macro R LM OIS WR:

Fujifilm GFX 50s + 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series @ 1:10: Dolls

Includes images from f/4 to f/16 at up to full resolution along with large crops.

The findings above have a serious 'gotcha', and y’all are not going to like what I have to show for distance performance with the 120/4.

Adobe Camera Raw support for the GFX just arrived today. What I have found is that the GFX does not behave at all like the Hasselblad X1D in terms of sharpening or diffraction.

Accordingly, I take a detailed look at mitigating diffraction effects as well as how much to sharpen GFX files in Adobe Camera Raw. I think these two pages should be very helpful to any GFX shooter:

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Mitigating Diffraction from f/4 through f/32

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Sharpening Amount with Adobe Camera Raw

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Fujifilm GFX 50s: Some Progress, and Fujifilm’s Diagnosis

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Adobe Camera Raw 9.9.0 now supports the Fujifilm GFX.

Fujifilm GFX Continuous Shooting Bug

It is a huge hassle to shoot the defective GFX, because I have to find and delete all the excess (and variable number!) of exposures it shoots in its stuck-on Continuous mode (aperture series and ISO series are quite the headache), but I have no immediate word of a replacement, so I want to get some material shot and done. So in spite of the tedious overhead of just sorting the images I am forging ahead for the time being (half an hour just to sort the images from one short shoot).

Regarding my troubles with the Fujifilm GFX Continuous mode, I spoke with a professional and courteous Fujifilm tech support (Steve P @ 1-800-800-3854) about the issue. We stepped through what I was doing and found no solution. I have nothing but good things to say about the customer support experience (except that I have had no followup call).

The diagnosis is a bad GFX with some kind of electronics problem. So the GFX is going back to B&H to await a replacement.

In the meantime (until I get a replacement), I’ve pushed through the Continuous exposure problem by just letting it do its thing, that is deleting all the extra unwanted exposures. So I should be able to post some material soon.

Adobe Camera Raw update is due at end of this week from what I am hearing, so then I should also be able to compare RAW/RAF to JPEG as well as do my usual processing for consistent comparison to other cameras, like the Hasselblad X1D. In the meantime, I’m looking at lens performance and ISO performance in general.

By the way the Fujifilm app for iOS is pretty useless, good for demos I suppose.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

OWC Nearly Doubles PCIe SSD Performance with Accelsior Q — great choice for big Photoshop Files and/or Lightroom catalog space

OWC has just started shipping the Accelsior Q PCIe SSD:

  • Mac Pro (2008 to 2012)
  • Other Macs with Thunderbolt via OWC Helios enclosure or OWC Helios 2 enclosure
  • Available in 480GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
  • Blazing-Fast PCIe Storage with up to 1,293MB/s sustained speeds
  • PCIe 2.0 x8 SSD

I still run dual OWC Accelsior 960GB PCIe SSDs in an OWC Helios 2 Thunderbolt 2 enclosure—a stalwart performer for years now which I use for huge PSD/PSB files as well as Photoshop scratch space. There is also the single-slot OWC Helios.

Great choice for still-photo or videographers looking for high SSD performance via 2010-2012 Mac Pro, or Thunderbolt Macs with the Helio/Helios 2 cases.

Blazing-Fast PCIe Storage

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4TB to 40TB, configure single drives or as RAID-5, RAID-0, RAID-10.
Now up to a whopping 40 Terabytes! TOP PICK

A Cold Day in .... until the Fujifilm GFX 50s Works Properly?

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

What an ordeal with the Fujifiilm GFX 50s.

It’s a cold day in tax hell (California), what with an arctic front dropping about as much hail as I’ve ever seen at my home, while green and growing and flowering things take a beating. The storm dumped last night too, which should add to the 518 inches of snow this season at Mammoth.

With the GFX only semi-operable, I used my iPhone 7 Plus. It takes a lot better image than the GFX—it works!

I went for a bike ride in late afternoon... hail and rain and sun—beautiful. But boy does that hail sting when it hits the nose or cheeks.

Hail in San Francisco Bay Area, early March 2017
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Two days prior, this halo through very high thin clouds presaged the cold front.

Sun Halo through high thin clouds
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Fujifilm GFX 50s: Initial Impressions and Defective Camera (?) Stuck on Continuous Shooting Mode

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

I have a few choice words for many issues with the Fujifilm GFX:

Fujifilm GFX 50S: Initial Experience

...

Update #4, 6 March 10:00 AM: I spoke with a professional and courteous Fujifilm tech support (Steve P @ 1-800-800-3854) about the issues I am having with the GFX. We stepped through what I was doing and found no solution. I have nothing but good things to say about the customer support experience. [update 9 March: no further contact from Fujifilm after my first call].

The diagnosis is a bad camera with some kind of electronics problem. I may get a call back later from other Fujifilm person(s). In the meantime, the GFX is going back to B&H to await a replacement.

I’ve pushed through the Continuous exposure problem (lots of extra exposures to throw away), so I should be able to post some material soon. Adobe Camera Raw update is due at end of this week from what I am hearing, so then I should be able to compare RAW/RAF to JPEG as well as do my usual processing thing. In the meantime, I’m looking at lens performance and ISO performance in general.

Update #3, March 5 late: my plan of attack is to call Fujifilm on Monday and see if they can provide a solution. Backup plan: return GFX and wait for replacement.

UPDATE #2: the GFX is still in Continuous shooting mode with no way out of it that I can find, even after a total camera reset, different SD card.

Fujifilm GFX Continuous Shooting
How to Change? Camera does not
present any menu choices
.

UPDATE #1: I did a User Settings => Reset => Shooting Menu Reset and the GFX is still stuck on Continuous as shown below. Then I did a total camera reset with User Settings => Reset => Set-Up Reset — no change—I cannot get the GFX off Continuous. Nothing I try will present any menu of choices, only the fixed Continuous, continuously!

What am I missing? Or do I just have a defective camera? See the details below.

 

Using the GFX is a hairball of frustration, some of which is the Continuous shooting bug, and some of which is very bad (and longstanding) Fujifilm anti-design:

  • The 2-second self timer insists on 4 exposures generating 8 files (4 RAF and 4 JPEG in RAW+JPEG mode).
  • I thought that the RR-90 remote release would be a solution, possibly taking a single exposure. But it insists on taking at least 2 exposures for a single press of the remote button, no matter how quickly—unless the exposure is longer than a certain threshold and more than two for faster shutter speeds.
  • Because the GFX destroys focus if Play is used (the lens is reset), I cannot (a) check an image for exposure or (b) delete an extra image without also wrecking the focus between shots. It’s a nightmare behavior for doing evaluation work in which focus has to remain the same across shots (aperture series, ISO series, bracketing, focus stacking, etc).
  • Auto exposure and white balance (AWB) are unacceptable in plain daylight I tried it in: far too red and somewhat underexposed. In mid-day daylight!! So even if I deal with the extra frames, and shoot JPEG, the JPEGs are unacceptable in color and underexposed without diddling witih things on the camera while shooting (while the light may be changing)—and see prior point on the focus being reset! You lose! You lose! You Lose!!!! (Fujifilm mantra)

No dice on just being able to shoot a single shot, or to process raw.

...

See comments that follow. Maybe I got the one defective camera in the pallet?

I’m quite serious: after an hour of trying everything and losing half of my 100 remaining hairs on my scalp, I cannot get the GFX out of Continuous shooting mode.

Update: tried again hours later for another half hour. I cannot get the GFX to go off Continuous shooting mode. Even the 2s self timer takes 5 images. Tomorrow I suppose I will have to do a 100% reset and start all over. Update: total camera reset does not fix the issue.

Fujifilm GFX Continuous Shooting How to Change? Camera does not present any menu choices.

I have read (and quoted in my comments) the user manual. I have pressed and twiddled every damn button and dial when the menu comes up to change Continuous (the Drive button shows the menu), but nothing will change it (the settings are not locked, I checked that also). I have gone through every menu item several times over. My blood pressure is up 20 points.

No other apparent workarounds: the Q-menu and other settings do not list Drive Mode anywhere, though Fujifilm has ensured that all the Instagram-oriented crapware settings are there by default. The only means of getting to it seems to be via the Drive button, shown below.

I lost the shooting day because of these problems, and the on/off bug. And I still remain dead in the water with no solution the next day with gorgeous hailstorm weather mixed with bursts of sunlight. I am furious.

Fujifilm GFX page 7 of user manual: Drive button
Fujifilm GFX page 82 of user manual: Continuous Shooting

...

The GFX exhibits has recurrent “turn the camera off and on again” bugs. At one point, I did so, and as soon as I turned it off then on, it advised me to do so again! WTF? After half a dozen times, in 20 minutes, this gets very old. Maybe the camera I have is defective? Or maybe Fujifilm rushed it out? Or maybe there is some “combo bug” triggered by some combination of settings? Or, maybe, the Fujifilm GFX is not ready for prime time. As per page 239 of the badly-done* user manual— why would a user manual document “if the camera crashes” unless there are known bugs like this? It is reprehensible to ship a camera with a garbage operating system. Nikon is rock solid, Canon about as good, Sony too. But, maybe it is just defective and that is unfair—I don’t know.

Fujifilm GFX malfunction: “Turn the camera off and turn on again
(sometimes right after turning off/on)

I spent over an hour trying to beat the GFX into submission (removing all the Instagram-like presets, configuring menus and buttons, confirming some very bad behaviors). And my reward is not being able to get out of Continuous shooting mode.

My advice remains the same as it has for years: know your gear and test it before relying on it. No professional can afford the kind of bullshit I am experiencing.

I have confirmed that neither uncompressed nor compressed raw can be opened with Lightroom or Photoshop—the Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) library needs an update.

While I have my gripes about the Hasselblad X1D, the X1D and its lenses (see my comments on the dubious Fujifilm GF lenses!!!!), the X1D sure feels so much better in so many ways.

* Even the user manual is a joke: it is aimed at photographic novices and has virtually no useful information for an experience photographer, aside from explaining how to use badly designed features. It looks and feels just like a manual from a $499 Fujifilm X camera. This is not a serious professional effort.

Mike G writes:

Have had my GFX a few days now, no issues with continuous shooting and no other issues. You must have a defective camera. So far, I’m loving it! Also, Iridient Developer Beta 3 has support for raw files.

DIGLLOYD: given the numerous “Turn the camera off and turn on again” problems, (camera OS CRASH presumably) I’m inclined to think I got a bad camera. I’ll do a total reset and give it one more try.

Robert H writes:

I read with great sympathy your article of today concerning the issues you are experiencing with the Fujifilm GFX.

I experienced similar bug/camera crashing issues recently with a Hasselblad X1D I was trying out and the solution was extremely simple - a change of SD card from the latest, 633x Lexar to a more pedestrian SanDisk, after which no problems recurred.

DIGLLOYD: I am using an approved/tested card as per the Fujifilm web site, the Lexar Professional 2000X 64GB (tried two cards, separately, using one slot only), which have worked flawlessly in every camera I’ve used for two years now.

Stephen S writes:

If you’re having trouble with the Turn the Camera Off and Turn It On Again message on the Fuji, it may be the lens. I’ve found a damaged lens will cause this failure mode.

DIGLLOYD: I’ll try swapping to the 120mm (was using the 63mm). But I will point out that such things do not happen to me with Nikon or Canon or Sony.

Dan M writes:

Sometimes when a menu or controls don’t do what we think they should, it’s a signal to back up in the thought process and go to 3rd grade level. Like how long you hold down buttons, whether some preliminary thing is signaling to the camera that the other items can’t be used, etc. You re-group menu controls more than most us, so maybe something in that early process set something off, I don’t know.

...

When the replacement copy comes in, I would first just try to take images, without changing anything. Hell, shoot some jpeg. Be a turkey tourist in the world of Instagram. See if the thing shoots it without jumping into continuous mode. Then work your way backward through everything that did not work before, without making any of your usage style adjustments. Then do your thing with working the control settings to your liking. In other words, eliminate the variable that something in Lloyd’s urge to rework functions to his taste has thrown the camera into Dumb Duck Mode. Have a baseline to compare to, once you start restyling the camera to your liking.

DIGLLOYD: I agree (“3rd grade level”). I've read the entire manual, twiddled *every* dial and button to try to change that Continuous setting in the menu—nothing works (page 82 of the manual just says to “change it”, but now how).

The battery was fully charged, the camera told me 10 times or so to Turn the camera off and turn on again. I may have expectations and assumptions based on past camera, but I’m not stupid or unimaginative, and all those crashes mean something.

I’ll be doing a complete camera reset, so I can waste another half hour reconfiguring. But first I’ll shoot as-is after the reset an then proceed cautiously.

Maciej F writes:

BTW I don’t have any problems switching DRIVE mode on my 50S: I can repeatedly change it between STILL IMAGE and CONTINUOUS.

I also didn’t have the ‘TURN OFF THE CAMERA AND TURN ON AGAIN’ error during 2 days of using the camera and few hundreds of shot taken.

I don’t know how to check the firmware version I have installed (I don’t see any ‘VERSION’ item in menu), but assuming we run the same firmware, it seems your hardware is somehow broken. :(

DIGLLOYD: I believe the readers who have written me with similar tales of satisfaction, though that does not fix the other problematic findings I describe.

It seems I have received the one defective camera out of the pallet. There are no GFX firmware updates as per the Fujifilm web site.

Christopher L writes:

I am sorry to read about your problem with continuous mode in the GFX 50s. Perhaps because I am in Japan, I was able to get the camera relatively early and got to use it in the field this weekend. I have had none of the problems you've reported. If you have been unable to get out of continuous mode by pressing the tiny 'drive' button just in front of the shutter speed dial on the top plate of the camera, then I would have to conclude you have a defective unit.

For what it's worth, I have been shooting with the Sony A7R series for the last several years and like them a lot but the GFX 50 does address some of the A7R shortcomings for landscape work (the trade off, of course, being greater weight). My early assessment of the available zoom and 120mm macro is also quite favorable. Still, I will look forward to your more in depth review once you get a properly working camera.

DIGLLOYD: there are a number of issues, as my notes make clear. But yes, I would think that for landscape the GFX 50s ought to be gorgeous. Physically speaking, the lenses SUCK: the 63mm pinches my finger when focusing, and an entire lens subassembly of the 120mm rattles around loosely (a heavy internal group slaps/slides around like a roll of quarters in a tin can, oh joy for hiking). I am far from impressed. Optically, I don’t know yet.

Jason W writes:

Some people expressed concern over the emotionality of your recent reportage. I think given the price of the camera, it's acceptable. I would watch your blood pressure though. Don't die over this lousy thing.

DIGLLOYD: good to hear that it is not just me and one bad camera.

People confuse emotion/reaction that is legitimate (reactions to factual issues) versus arbitrary unsubstantiated emotions. I have a 'self', and I think any pro or artist does also. Leaving my 'self' out of it would be a con-game that I won’t play. And so I often start my reviews with my reactions precisely because years of testing just about every pro and semi pro camera for a decade show a perfect correlation to what works for me out in the field and over time.

IMO, the emotion-free generic reviews are worse than useless for choosing a camera (or car or whatever). They are often so because the reviewer is afraid of retaliation (never getting another review camera). Such reviewers do themselves and their readers a disservice by having no viewpoint and hiding their reactions, thus depriving their readers of highly relevant information. I have no brand favorites, only 'execution' favorites: I admire excellence and I have contempt for mediocrity in any area of human endeavor—hence my “emotional” reactions, which are thus highly logical as per long experience. Enjoying a device has great value—the iPhone proves that in spades—it is surely as irrational and emotional as it gets—and look at its success. But in this case with the GFX, and speaking as a pro with work to do, the camera has utterly failed me. If there is a pro out there who fails at a job due to gear failure, is that a “Spock” moment?

Staale writes:

To sum it all up, taking all practical issues into account the D810 is by far the best proposition for outdoor/heavy/challenging work/results, assuming that there are no constraints regarding lenses, budget wise?

DIGLLOYD: that is precisely my position at present. And Nikon, with a little leadership (maybe impossible given the corporate culture), could make hay in huge bales with the right camera IMO.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series at Night

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system in Medium Format, I show two night scenes:

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Fountain to Tower at Night

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Tressider Union at Night

Includes up to full resolution from f/3.5 to f/11.

The Tressider Union scene shows some strange behavior.

__METADATA__
__METADATA__
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Enroute for Testing

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Update: arrived.

On the way for testing, courtesy of B&H Photo.

What I need now is Adobe Camera Raw support (ACR) which is not yet in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Lightroom. Maybe I’ll be forced to start by shooting RAW+JPEG and looking at the various film modes with JPEG.

Regrettably the 32-64mm zoom is backordered, which will make it impossible to do a fair head-to-head matchup with the Hasselblad X1D. So that will have to wait. OTOH, I can get a very good sense of image quality, color, dynamic range, noise, etc so long as I can get ACR support.

Fujifilm GFX shipped
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Mosaic

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system in Medium Format, I comment on my experience doing a 4-frame focus stack of this scene using the Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5: 4-Frame Focus Stack (Frosty Table)

Includes stacked image up to full resolution, marvelous in its detail on aniMac 5K.

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

Fujifilm GFX 50s: 'RAF' Not Yet Usable with Adobe Camera Raw (Lightroom, Photoshop)

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Update: Iridient Developer provides one option for working with Fujifilm GFX 50s raw RAW files.

Timothy S writes (March 3rd):

GFX .RAF files are not recognized by LR 2015.8 ACR 9.8.

Source: Just received my production GFX this morning.

DIGLLOYD: Version 9.8.0.692 is the latest version as of today.

I just tested a Fujifilm GFX raw RAW file, as shown below—no joy. Hopefully Adobe Camera Raw support will be forthcoming soon—it would be extremely time consuming to review the GFX by having to resort to some other raw converter. Worse, the different rendering from my other reviews (including the Hasselblad X1D) would be on an entirely different raw conversion basis—not appropriate for comparisons. Hasselblad got this right, why can’t Fujifilm deliver on their bogus claims of Lightroom support as of weeks ago? (see John G’s comments below).

Craig E writes:

For what it’s worth, I opened a gfx raw file today with ON1 Photo Raw. First time I’ve used the program…know little about it….but opened file and allowed me to export to PS as a psd.

DIGLOYD: also, Iridient Developer. Pros need their same-old workflow, not just a way to open files in the short term.

Michael Erlewine writes:

So you know what software for the PC will look at GFX raw files?

DIGLLOYD: while I use a Mac, this concerns me greatly: it would be a serious impediment for my review as well as making it apples to oranges for comparisons vs Hasselblad X1D. Certainly I hope to never again have to use the godawful SilkyPix user interface.

While the Fujifilm RAF raw-file format is supported for all the Fujifilm X cameras, those cameras all use the oddball Fujifilm sensors with its fractal-like artifacts. I expect the Fujifilm GFX RAF raw files to be incompatible with ACR as it stands (without an update). Adobe has not been active lately on updates for Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which worries me.

I maintain consistency in my reviews by applying the same workflow in the same raw converter; this is something I’ve done for many years now. Using an alternative raw converter upsets the apple cart both in terms of wasted time, but also in differing results—color, sharpening, contrast and tonal response, etc.

In the past, Iridient Developer has been quick to support new formats. It is a fine option, but it does not suit my workflow as efficiently, and see the foregoing 'consistency' challenge.

Any reader out there know the status of support for Fujifilm RAF from the GFX in ACR?

John G writes:

In response to your recent question regarding the GFX compatibility with Adobe ACR: My understanding that both SilkyPix and Adobe Lightroom will support RAW files from the GFX immediately. Since Adobe tends to offer updates to ACR in a similar timeframe as they do Photoshop ACR (or at least they used to—the RAW conversion engines are identical, afterall), my bet is that ACR will support GFX RAW files as well.

From the GFX's PDF brochure—look near the bottom for RAW support. Also note that Fuji is facilitating tethered shooting via a plugin for LR. I applaud this; I always shoot tethered in the studio and on location. My current Hasselblad (H6D) requires Hasselblad’s Phocus for that application. A fine RAW processor for Hassy files, but my current RAW converter of choice is LR. (I’ve set it up so that Phocus transports the image directly into a file folder from which LR immediately imports the image—very workable, but not the picture of efficiency.)

DIGLLOYD: I saw the same section, but I did not take it for granted that support was already in the Adobe Camera Raw engine (same engine for Lightroom and Photoshop). In any case, it’s good news.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Mosaic

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This series at distance assesses sharpness on a target that is as demanding as anything can be. The slightest deviation in lens assembly would show asymmetric sharpness and the target is planar, revealing any field curvatures issues. Together with the very fine details, it is a serious challenge to any lens.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Mosaic

Includes images up to full resolution from f/3.5 through f/11, along with crops.

__METADATA__
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 vs XCD 45mm f/3.5: Frosty Picnic Table.

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This comparison looks at sharpness and color correction differences between the Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 and the Hasselbad XCD 45mm f/3.5. I chose bluish morning lighting for this comparison, though it turns out that the blue-heavy spectrum is not at issue.

Hasselblad XCD 30/3.5 Sharpness and Color Correction vs XCD 45/3.5: Frosty Picnic Table

There is a striking difference in performance, one commensurate with the relative prices of the lenses. I know which lens I’d want to own first!

Separately, I explore dynamic range in a real-world scene:

Hasselblad X1D Dynamic Range Example: Shadow Boost (SUV)

... and Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Flare Control.

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Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Fujifilm GFX 50s

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Fujifilm GFX
(shown with optional lenses and optional camera body)

I’ve collected all the parts together in this one wish Cambo Mini View Camera wish list at B&H Photo.

See also: Bellows Systems for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony: Why Consider Them? and Novoflex Bellows for Nikon, Canon, Leica, Sony.

A few months back I wrote about the Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Sony Mirrorless or Fujifilm/Olympus/Nikon/ Canon with a follow-up note. See that post along with comments from Michael Erlewine who has used it extensively.

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Fujifilm GFX can be had at Capture Integration or at B&H Photo.

Now Cambo has announced the CAMBO ACTUS-GFX VIEW CAMERA for the Fujifilm GFX a first proof of why Fujifilm’s shutter approach is more versatile than the lens leaf shutter approach of the Hasselblad X1D.

As per the Cambo web site:

The Cambo ACTUS-GFX is derived from the ACTUS-Mini camera system, designed for mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony Alpha 7 series & Fuji-X camera bodies.

It combines traditional view camera techniques with the latest capture technology. This ACTUS-GFX version features a bayonet for use of the Fujifilm GFX-50s, Fuji's new medium format mirrorless camera body.

Using view camera movements the photographer will be able to be more versatile, be more creative and will be getting more professional results much faster than before.

Mirrorless system camera bodies can be used as digital back, while the Cambo ACTUS will function as tilt-shift and swing adapter with view camera movements for each lens that is being used with this combination!!

Size matters, the Cambo ACTUS has been designed to give maximum functionality with minimal dimensions to support portability at ease.

The Cambo ACTUS-Mini series is small and lightweight and fits easily in a small case.

Cambo ACTUS shown with optional lenses and optional camera body.

The basic configuration of a Cambo ACTUS-GFX consists of a monorail, front assembly without lensplate, a rear frame with GFX camera bayonet and a detachable standard bellows which is part of the ACTUS configuration.

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Fujifilm GFX
(shown with optional lenses and optional camera body)

Michael Erlewine writes:

I did find out more about the new Actus. It is not a new whole rig, but some replacement parts, one for the front and one for the rear. There is also a $200+ bayonet for Nikon, so you now can switch between GFX and Nikon with no screw removal, just a switch. That sounds good to me.

DIGLLOYD: more convenient than ever before.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Did Not Ship From B&H Today (for me and another)

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list and Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Quick update—

Fujifilm GFX had expected availability of Feb 28, but my order did not ship today from B&H Photo, nor did that of a friend who ordered early.

UPDATE: as of March 1st 10:00 PST, the Fujifilm EVF-TL1 EVF Tilt Adapter is IN STOCK.

CG writes:

Just wanted you to know that I will receive my GFX tomorrow. It will include 3 lenses so they are just starting to ship but likely in very small quantities. My dealer said he had 15 on order but only received one.

DIGLLOYD: I expect that the size of the medium format market will quadruple this year, in terms of unit volume, for good reason.

USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

What Zeiss Has Not Done, Hasselblad in effect Has Nailed: Relatively 'Slow' Lenses for High-Grade Performance and Portability

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Back in 2015 I wrote the The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses as the culmination of many prior comments in previous blog posts. I wrote:

But in the main, size and weight of f/1.4 lenses are unfriendly at best. Why this irrational and self-defeating aim towards all these compromises just for f/1.4? To gain a stop or two while degrading all else when most purposes are best achieved with stopping down?

The market cries out for better-than-Otus quality in f/2.8 designs. The heck with f/1.4! I want lenses the size of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 which perform as good or better than Zeiss Otus. This is achievable, and at much lower cost than Zeiss Otus.

When will Sigma, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Zeiss realize that the market for ultra high performance f/2.8 lenses is large and unserved?

In effect, Hasselblad has delivered exactly what I was talking about, but on a larger sensor. The format-equivalent f-stop for Hasselblad XCD f/3.5 lenses is f/2.9 ~= f/2.8. Which is exactly what I had in mind for the 35mm format when I wrote the above.

If one can stomach the cost, it’s clear that the vision I’ve had for years of very high performance lenses on a very high performance sensor has now been realized. I am hopeful that the same will be true of the Fujifilm GFX performance.

None of Zeiss or Sigma or Nikon or Canon or Leica have seen the light. And now that the market has turned on them (collapse of the DSLR market, Leica’s failure of vision), the struggle back will be far more difficult than it would have been a few years ago. I fear most for Zeiss, for not taking steps to implement some form of the vision that Ming Thein and I communicated together in person at the highest levels 18 months ago. One has to say that Sigma has taken up the banner of aggressive lens development—now if Sigma can just get over the f/1.4 hangup.

Why bother with 35mm when medium format is aggressively moving forward, and perhaps Sony and/or Ricoh might throw their hats into the ring too? Medium format is the new full frame. Yes I know there are still many special areas that require the flexibility of a Canon or Nikon lens line and AF system. That’s just the problem—for Nikon and Canon sales, and their high-end shooters—turning yourself into a niche player by strategic bungling incompetence is a sorry road, but at least Nikon is realizing the wanton self-immolation of it, as recent press releases sadly demonstrate.

If the price can be stomached, there are now two medium format systems on the market both of which cut down my pack-load (vs DSLR + Zeiss Otus). While I love Zeiss Otus lenses, and Zeiss Loxia are wonderful, I’m thinking that Hasselblad and/or Fujifilm are looking awfully attractive in terms of DUMPING the 35mm FORMAT for many uses, particularly if Hasselblad gets some work done on firmware improvements and Fujifilm lens quality is what I hope for. The Hasselblad XCD lens line will be complete from my POV by year’s end, and I expect Fujifilm will get there in a similar time frame. Game over for CaNikon for the way I shoot.

Subscribe to diglloyd Medium Format area for full coverage of medium format cameras.

Put another way: why would I buy another huge and heavy Zeiss Otus given the sorry state of CaNikon when I could put that money into a Hasselblad or Fujifilm medium format system with smaller and lighter lenses instead? And get an Olympus E-M1 II for all-around shooting with its amazing autofocus and image stabilization and 4K video? Or use Sony with Zeiss Batis/Loxia as a 2nd system.

Wwhat I want is better than Zeiss Otus quality in an f/2.8 lens: flat field, fluorite-like color correction, no focus shift, and stopping down is purely for depth of field, not for image quality reasons. The Hasselblad XCD lenses don’t qualify on all these metrics, nor do Zeiss Otus or Loxia or Batis. On the 35mm format, losing 2 stops (f/1.4 to f/2.8) should be able to deliver such quality at a price and significantly lower than than the Otus line, particularly if Sigma were to get rolling on a “Compact Art” series.

The question is, which medium format system is better for my use? (and the use of my readers). That question will consume most of my time for the next month or so, because just like my readers, affording one system is pretty tough, let alone two. I want to make the best choice for myself, while making sure the evaluations and field use experience is highly relevant for my readers in making the same decision.

It should be a VERY interesting year in all areas. A year of wrenching change for camera and lens vendors, for sure.

Philip S writes:

I am in complete agreement with you about the desirability of relatively slow, high quality lenses. Many photographers are not well-served by lens makers’ obsession with f/1.4 as some sort of gold standard. That said, I think Zeiss deserves a bit more credit than you are giving them, at least as far as FF E-mount is concerned. I’m thinking specifically of the Batis line, which from what you and others have written, seem to be pretty darn good lenses. I’ll use Sigma for comparison:

Batis 2.8/18 330g
Sigma 1.4/20 Art 950g

Batis 2/25 335g
Sigma 1.4/24 Art 665g

Batis 1.8/85 452g
Sigma 1.4/85 Art 1130g

The Batis are 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of the f/1.4 Sigma Art equivalents. True, f/1.8 is not particularly slow, but the weight savings with the Batis 85mm are huge compared to the top-of-the-line 85mm f/1.4 lenses.

A Batis 135mm is rumored to be imminent. If Zeiss is following a plan of slower-and-lighter, I’m guessing max aperture will be no faster than f/2.8. Which I suppose isn’t all that slow for 135mm, so maybe it will be slower, say f/3.2 or f/3.5.

DIGLLOYD: yes, Zeiss Batis line is lightweight, and the Loxia line is similar weight yet more compact—even better for field use. But they of course require shooting Sony. Sony image quality is too “cooked” for my taste versus a Nikon D810 or medium format. Still, a new camera might change that equation and when I have to hike long or hard, the Sony with Batis and Loxia are my rig of choice at present.

When Nikon debuts a mirrorless lineup, we will be stuck with large and heavy lenses if the camera(s) use the existing F-mount (a big plus for existing users). Ideally it would be a short backfocus new mount, but with supplied high quality lens adapter for Nikon F-mount lenses included. Then Zeiss could design all-new lenses (maybe even adapting Batis and Loxia designs) to the native mirrorless backfocal distance without the constraints of the DSLR mirror box.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Announced: Four New XCD Lenses for the Hasselblad X1D Over Next 12 Months

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Hasselblad XCD 120mm f/3.5 macro

The Fujifilm GFX is due for first shipments in the USA today. Apparently Hasselblad wanted to celebrate the day by announcing four new lenses, for a total of seven lenses—quite impressive for a new system (Leica is still working on 2.5 lenses for the Leica SL, which is well into its 2nd year).

This brings the announced plans for Hasselblad to 4 primes and one macro prime and one zoom (7 lenses total), versus 3 primes and one macro prime and one zoom for Fujifilm (6 lenses total). Fujifilm has a 23mm coming, putting both systems squarely into ultra wide angle territory. What I’d love to see is the equivalent of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

XCD 120mm f/3.5    ~=  98.6mm f/2.9
XCD 90mm f/3.2     ~=  74mm f/2.9
XCD 65mm f/tbd     ~=  53.4mm f/tbd
XCD 45mm f/3.5     ~=  37mm f/2.9
XCD 35-75mm f/tbd  ~=  28.8 - 61.6mm f/tbd
XCD 30mm f/3.5     ~=  24.7mm f/2.9
XCD 22mm f/tbd     ~=  18mm f/tbd

See my review of the Hasselblad X1D, including Hasselblad X1D Format Equivalent Focal Length, Depth of Field.

I expect that the new Hasselblad XCD 120/3.5 should be an outstanding performer. “Flat frame image” presumably means no significant field curvature. The prose implies high performance at distance also, which is a huge plus for field work.

Hasselblad announces four new XCD lenses for the X1D

Combining Compact Format with the Highest Optical Quality

Following the hugely successful launch of the ground-breaking X1D in 2016, Hasselblad is delighted to introduce four new XCD lenses. The XCD 120mm Macro lens is the first to complement the existing XCD lens family, and will be available at the end of June 2017.

The exceptionally high performing 120mm f/3.5 lens brings together the compact format of the XCD range with the maximum optical quality across the frame with a flat image field. Providing a new versatility to the X1D user, the lens is suitable for both close-up work up to a 1:2 image scale, and also as a mid-range telephoto lens for portrait or other photography requiring a longer focal length. Auto or manual focusing goes from infinity to 1:2 without the need for extension tubes.

Like the other XCD lenses, XCD 120mm Macro lens has an integral central shutter offering a wide range of shutter speeds and full flash synchronisation up to 1/2000th second.

Hasselblad Product Manager, Ove Bengtson commented: “The XCD 120mm Macro lens complements the existing XCD dedicated autofocus lenses which were developed to support optical quality and portability. This is the first addition to the X1D range of lenses in 2017 and we are excited to launch more lenses later in the year.”

Over the next 12 months, Hasselblad will also launch the XCD 35-75mm Zoom*, XCD 65mm*, and XCD 22mm Wide Angle* lenses. By the beginning of 2018, the X1D will have access to seven dedicated XCD lenses and all twelve HC/HCD lenses using the XH lens adapter.

* Detailed XCD specifications to be announced later this year. Specifications are subject to change.

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Shooting with Different Aspect Ratios

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Dave W writes with questions related to aspect ratios:

Like many, I'm very interested in the new mirrorless medium format cameras by Fuji and Hasselblad. Providing they are as good of a system we all hope they will be, there is one feature that I'm most curious about.

Could you please shoot examples and discuss the various formats that each camera can offer? How many MP in each format? What focal length does each lens turn into on each format? How good of an image will these systems produce in 6x17 format?

Will they capture and print an image as good as the Fuji or Linhof 6x17 film cameras? I don't stitch, but have always wanted to capture panoramic images on location in one shot.

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX, I share my thoughts on shooting with the different built-in aspect ratios.

Fujifilm GFX Shooting Formats / Aspect Ratios

Fujifilm GFX Format Equivalent Focal Length and Depth of Field

Worth noting is that I think I can make a better and far more flexible panoramic image with an iPhone 7s in pano mode than my Linhof Technorama 617s III could, at least under lighting the allows me to handhold it.

Diagram below derived from the Fujifilm GFX pdf.

Fujifilm GFX aspect ratios available for shooting
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MTF for Fujifilm GFX GF Lenses

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

I was reading the Fujifilm GFX pdf and had to laugh at the MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) charts, which at best show just a general “shape” of what performance might be like, a sort of vague hint. I just cannot understand the point of even including nearly meaningless graphs. Do it right, or remove them, Fujifilm:

  • unspecified aperture
  • unspecified spectral weighting
  • unspecified line pairs per millimeter
  • unspecified distance (infinity, 1:20, macro range, whatever).
  • Whether MTF as computed includes software correction.

All these graphs claim to outperform (by far) every lens Zeiss has ever made (Zeiss publishes MTF measured from real lenses, using the K8 MTF tester). Including vastly outperforming every Zeiss Otus, the Coastal 60/4, etc.

The charts shown by Fujifilm are obviously computed (not measured) as well as diffraction-free graphs—fantasy MTF. Why not just give the lenses a number rating on a 1 to 10 scale, and just say “all our lenses are an unbeatable perfect 10!”.

Image circle radius = 27.4mm = sqrt( 43.8^2 + 32.9^2 )/2

I look forward to seeing what real lenses on a real camera actually deliver.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR

Assuming a reasonable aperture like f/5.6, there looks to be somewhat-weak corner performance, possibly with a tiny bit of lateral color. Field flatness (field curvature) looks better than any Zeiss Otus, which is quite an accomplishment given the far larger sensor area—meaning I am deeply skeptical of this chart.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR

Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

A perfect performance impossible to criticize. But at least it seems that the 120/4 ought to have a perfectly flat field at some distance and some aperture.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR

In a testament to the power of meaningless MTF charts, here we see the world’s best zoom lens (or prime lens at the tele end). Heck, who needs a prime lens with a zoom that beats every Zeiss DSLR lens ever made, and on a much larger sensor. Fantasy computed diffraction-free MTF is a con game. The only things to be said here is that the long end may be a bit better than the wide end, and that the wide end has a little astigmatism and possibly a little lateral color.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR
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Button Enhancement for Sony Mirrorless Cameras

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

I’m not shooting Sony right now, but the add-on “ButtonBumps” may make finding the Sony buttons by touch easier. I’ll try them when I pick up the A7R II for review work next month.

I don’t have much use for the hot-shoe cover thing (I just lose mine right away!), but the DisplayLifter may be helpful to some.

The main thing I’ve found with many a camera is that operationally, buttons are not distinct enough by feel (size, spacing, placement). Raised buttons via the stick-on ButtonBumps might help as tactile “landmarks” for fingers. Several such products have been made for Leica M cameras.

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ShutterBands enhancement kit for Sony E-mount cameras

Jason W writes:

I've been using button bumps on my A7R for over a year and am very happy with them. They clearly improved the operation of the camera, especially with gloves on, when Sony's idiotic flat buttons become nearly unpressable. Canon buttons are often rounded off in this convex shape and Sony should take note. Haptics matter.

DIGLLOYD: yes, haptics matter as do “visual haptics” (a contradiction in terms except perhaps for those with synaesthesia, but visual interaction has a feel of sorts to me). That is, EVF and rear LCD resolution color and contrast, which is one reason why the Fujifilm GFX seems so appealing with its three high-res displays. Ditto for EVF in general.

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Fujifilm GFX 50s: How Will Raw 'RAF' Files be Convertible?

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Michael Erlewine writes:

So you know what software for the PC will look at GFX raw files?

DIGLLOYD: while I use a Mac, this concerns me greatly: it would be a serious impediment for my review as well as making it apples to oranges for comparisons vs Hasselblad X1D. Certainly I hope to never again have to use the godawful SilkyPix user interface.

While the Fujifilm RAF raw-file format is supported for all the Fujifilm X cameras, those cameras all use the oddball Fujifilm sensors with its fractal-like artifacts. I expect the Fujifilm GFX RAF raw files to be incompatible with ACR as it stands (without an update). Adobe has not been active lately on updates for Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which worries me.

I maintain consistency in my reviews by applying the same workflow in the same raw converter; this is something I’ve done for many years now. Using an alternative raw converter upsets the apple cart both in terms of wasted time, but also in differing results—color, sharpening, contrast and tonal response, etc.

In the past, Iridient Developer has been quick to support new formats. It is a fine option, but it does not suit my workflow as efficiently, and see the foregoing 'consistency' challenge.

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