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Leica S2 Revisited, 6 Years Later, with Hi-Res Images in New Medium Format Section

See my Leica M wishlist and Leica SL wishlist.

I’ve launched my new medium format area, albeit without the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX being available just yet. But they will get my intense concentration when they arrive.

All subscribers with “FULL” access automatically have access to the medium format area, as of Jan 20, 2017.

I went back and reprocessed all the images on these pages taken with the Leica S back in 2010. Along with my recent reprocessing of Hasselblad X4D-50 images and Mamiya DL28 images, this latest batch with the Leica S calibrates my eyes to what medium format was delivering some years ago. The Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D should set a significantly higher bar, I hope.

  • Leica S Examples from Yosemite High Country
  • Leica S Examples: Golden Gate Bridge

Most images at up to full 36MP resolution. These images are from the 2010 'S', but there is also relatively recent Leica S Typ 006 coverage as well, including the same types of Leica S autofocus errors.

I am impressed in some ways, but mainly I am impressed at just how good Zeiss Otus lenses for Nikon/Canon are, and with 1+ stop more lens speed even accounting for format equivalent depth of field. I wish Zeiss would target the Fujifilm GFX platform with an “Otus MF” lens design, but I deem that highly unlikely.

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Is Leica viable?

That is, as a camera platform, not a high-end luxury toy.

  • The S system is all but dead, barring some mirrorless camera at a far lower price that can make use of S lenses. And from what I hear, Leica S build quality is poor with frequent breakdowns. It would be appropriate if Leica just issued a formal EOL statement, given its not even lackluster support for the platform.
  • The M system has left users like me hung out to dry. The new Leica M10 is all well and good, but good mainly for the small/light street shooter crowd, and cheerleader reviewers that leave me impressed with the awesome power of rationalizations. M lens development seems to be over, and even then I still think the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is the best all-arounder for M.
  • The SL system is a joke compared to the Hasselblad X1D or Fujifilm GFX. Two trips with the SL and if someone told me it cost half as much, I still would not buy one. The M system should be rediscovered by Leica. The SL is an also-ran, arriving late for the race to begin with.
  • Leica has shown very poor strategic judgment in failing to build on its M heritage, irritating and then pissing off M users like me, all while shoveling boatloads of R&D money into the S and SL systems. Money that could have made the M system a truly impressive platform. Money that is gone. I just can’t see investors shoveling more money down the toilet with the track record of the past 3 years.

Hasselblad H4D-50 Revisited, 6 Years Later, with Hi-Res Images in New Medium Format Section

See my Hasselblad mirrorless list.

I’ve launched my new medium format area, albeit without the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX being available just yet. But they will get my intense concentration when they arrive.

All subscribers with “FULL” access automatically have access to the medium format area, as of Jan 20, 2017.

I went back and reprocessed all the images on these two pages of examples from the Hasselblad H4D-50 that I had shot back in October of 2010. I did so to refresh my impressions and to give myself one baseline data point, that is, using the latest version of Adobe Camera Raw and my current sharpening techniques, etc. The two pages:

  • Hasselblad H4D-50: Examples with HCD 28mm f/4 (Yosemite)
  • Hasselblad H4D-50: Examples with HC 100mm f/2.2 (Yosemite)

Images at sizes sufficient to fill an iMac 5K screen, and some sufficient for an 8K display. They are really enjoyable to view on the iMac 5K in high-res.

It is my intention that all medium format work will be presented to at least fill the height of an 8K display, and even a step beyond (most of the width).

I was impressed at how the total sensor quality was apparent—this with a 6-year-old camera. It got me to wondering what kind of results will be forthcoming with both the Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX, what with 6 years of sensor advances and all-new lens designs for mirrorless—a ton of promise there.

As I understand it, the HCD lenses can be shot on the Fujifilm GFX using a lens adapter. But I’m hoping that the all-new mirrorless designs from both Hasselblad and Fujifilm will be a step up in micro contrast and resolving power.

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Fujifilm GFX Crop Factor for HC Lenses

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list

Louis F writes:

I have some HC lenses and wanted to know if there will be a conversion factor to use these on the GFX with H adapter.

For example, will the HC 150mm be a 150mm on the GFX and 44x33 sensor?

Fujifilm H Mount Adapter G

DIGLLOYD: the 645 lenses referred to require the about $659 Fujifilm H Mount Adapter G for use on the Fujifilm GFX. I’m a little confused myself on what an HC lens is... Hasselblad HC lense branded as Fujifilm (Fujifilm made the HC lenses for Hasselblad as I understand it). Maybe a reader can fill me in.

Designed to be used with the Super EBC Fujinon HC lenses for the GX645AF medium format film camera, this adapter allows you to use this series of lenses with manual focus control and flash sync speeds up to 1/800 sec. as well as the ability to adjust the aperture setting via the GFX 50S's control dial when working in manual or aperture priority mode

Focal length is focal length—that 150mm could be mounted in the tiny M4/3 sensor and it is still 150mm. The issue is how much of its image circle is cropped off by virtue of its smaller sensor—its “crop factor”.

The Fujifilm GFX has a 44 X 33mm sensor, whereas 645 film had an area of 56 X 44mm, making for a crop factor of 56/44 = 1.27. Thus a 150mm lens designed for 645 will offer the field of view on the GFX equivalent to 150 * 1.27 = 191mm.

But those figures might be off, since I don't know what size format the lens referred to is designed for and ultimately the format equivalent field of view and depth of field and f-stop are all relative to the format size and might not be relevant.

So let’s just use 35mm as a reference, and I’ll use the horizontal field of view (not diagonal). A 150mm lens on 35mm equates to a FoV of 36/44 * 150 = 123mm on the Fujifilm GFX.

Frank L writes:

The GX645AF was Fujifilm’s version of the Hassy H1.

It was identical except for the branding. As such it accepted all the same accessories including all lenses. So the adapter allows there use of all the lenses designed for the H1/GX645AF.

DIGLLOYD: kind of ironic that the Fujifilm GFX can use Hasselblad lenses!

Fujifilm GFX 50 Megapixel Medium Format Announced, Available for Pre-Order

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage.

It’s the most aggressive price yet for a medium format camera.

Consider the aggressive value proposition of the Fujifilm GFX, not just on the medium format market but also on the high-end 35mm full frame market!

To wit, Leica just today announced the M10 rangefinder with a 24MP full-frame sensor (much smaller sensor, less than half the megapixels), a rear LCD with 0.920 Mdots (vs 2.36 Mdots), the Leica low-res EVF is not included, and the Leica M10 body costs $200 more. The cameras are of course very different in all ways, but the bottom line is that the Leica is low-res all around—sensor, EVF, rear LCD.

The Fujifilm GFX uses the latest display technology, the Hasseblad X1D uses 2-year-old display technology. More on that below. So even if the X1D is more sleek and has a little better image quality, the high-res displays as key differentiators that relate both to practical usage and shooting and viewing pleasure.

  • 51.4MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS Sensor
  • 2x SD card slot
  • Removable 3.69m-Dot OLED EVF [high res EVF, among the best, INCLUDED with the camera body]
  • 3.2" 2.36m-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD [high-res rear LCD ~Retina grade, superior to most cameras on the market (Nikon D5, D500 have also), the new Leica M10 has only a low-res 1.0 megapixels]
  • The 1.28-inch monochrome LCD monitor at camera top can be viewed in all conditions (including bright sunlight) and displays information including shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure compensation and exposure mode. Customize up to 8 items to be displayed on the monitor, backlight for viewing in low light conditions.
  • 117-Point Contrast-Detection AF System
  • Shutter speeds 1 to 1/4000, time, bulb
  • ISO 100-12800, extended output to ISO 102400
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps [why bother if no 4K?]
  • Multi Aspect Ratio Shooting
  • Film Simulation Modes
  • Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body

High-res display wonder

For the Fujifilm GFX, I’m impressed that not just one but THREE high-res displays are included: the high-res OLED EVF, and the Retina-grade rear LCD plus an ultra-high-res monochrome display at camera top. I can’t think of any DSLR or mirrorless camera on the market today that offers such a high-res rear LCD, which should be gorgeous. The GFX rear LCD has about twice the dots of most DSLRs. The EVF resolution suggests superb quality and the top panel (programmable) is extremely useful (I use it all the time on my Nikon or Canon).

A high-res EVF is a very high priority for me (the primary and often *only* means of seeing the image I am going to make, hence a critical feature). The monochrome display is a huge plus in difficult lighting and/or if shooting from above the camera (remember the tiltable LCD!), vs having to view the rear LCD.

Setting aside the practical and useful shooting aspects of high-res displays (easier for critical focus for starters), the sheer pleasure of a high-res display that is wondrous fair to behold is worth a lot of enjoyment, the iPhone 7 Plus screen being that existence proof—imagine if it were half the resolution (1/4 the pixels)—the experience would hardly be the same. I always did like a 4X5 ground glass and the resulting 'chromes'. Enjoyment of images even while shooting them is a key satisfier for me.

The Fujifilm GFX has a 3.69 Mdot OLED EVF. The Hasselblad X1D has a 2.36 Mdot XGA Electronic Viewfinder—much lower resolution and not OLED either (OLED is better). The viewing experience is likely to feel like “good enough” vs “WOW”. Once you experience hi-res (Leica SL, Panasonic GH5), there is no going back. The crummy 3.0" 0.920 Mdot rear LCD on the X1D will look toy grade compared to the 3.2" 2.36 MDot rear LCD on the GFX.

Pricing:

Three of the six lenses will be available initially, the others to come later. To tilt the included EVF, the tilt adapter is required. Actual ship dates are unclear, but the word seems to be late February 2017. Lens prices are very modest for medium format, so I hope that does not mean compromised optical quality. However, the relatively slow lens speed may counterbalance that concern (easier to design at reasonable cost). "WR" means weather-resistant.

Great strategy of offering two lens adapters also.

Shutter

Fujifilm apparently went to some trouble to do the shutter right. I don’t yet understand all these options or how to use them, but it looks to cover all the bases.

Fujifilm GFX shutter modes

 

Multiply by 0.82 for equivalent horizontal focal length / field of view as compared to a 36x24mm sensor: 19mm, 26-52mm, 37mm, 52mm, 90mm, 98mm.

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX

Selected highlights

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S features a 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS medium format sensor: a product of Fujifilm's rich history, cutting-edge digital technology and extensive knowledge of medium format film cameras. Boasting an effective resolution of 51.4 million pixels and paired with high-performance GF lenses, the sensor delivers superior tones and sharpness that will impress professional photographers shooting in the world of commercial, fashion or landscapes.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S uses piezoelectric elements to provide ultrasonic sensor cleaning. You can specify when to perform sensor cleaning: immediately, when the camera is turned on, or when the camera is turned off.

Both the shape of the light-gathering micro-lenses and the processing from the photodiodes have been optimized to achieve a high level of sharpness and broad dynamic range. The lowest native ISO sensitivity of 100 and the 14-stop dynamic range, achieved with 14-bit RAW data, delivers high definition images in a variety of conditions with notably rich skin tones and intricate foliage detail.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S sports the X-Processor Pro image processing engine, capable of drawing the very best out of the 51.4 megapixel sensor. Its advanced processing accelerates and optimizes the camera's performance in a variety of areas including stunning color reproduction with Fujifilm's unique Film Simulation modes, in-camera RAW conversion to the 8-bit TIFF format, accurate contrast AF, quick startup time, and minimal shutter release time lag and shooting intervals between frames.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S is supplied with a detachable 3.69M-dot EVF with 100% coverage and a viewfinder magnification of 0.85x. It uses five dedicated lens elements to achieve 100% coverage and offers a diopter adjustment range of -4m-1 to+2m-1. Attach the optional EVF Tilting Adapter EVF-TL1 between the camera body and the EVF to enable vertical tilt (0°-90° / 5 steps) and horizontal rotation (±45°). This allows you to shoot from waist level or aids shooting in portrait orientation. For more accurate focusing, push or rotate the Rear Command Dial to enlarge Live View images between 1x and 16.7x

Large Rear Touchscreen LCD Tilts in Three Directions — The rear 2.36M-dot LCD monitor measures 3.2 inches and offers 100% coverage. The smart touchscreen panel enables intuitive operation and tilts in three directions (90° up, 45° down and 60° to the right) for easy framing and shooting from high or low angles.

The 1.28-inch monochrome LCD monitor can be viewed in all conditions (including bright sunlight) and displays information including shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure compensation and exposure mode. You can customize up to eight items to be displayed on the monitor; it also has a backlight for viewing in low light conditions.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S features 10 customizable Fn buttons. Different options can also be asigned to Short Cut Q (Quick) menu items. Frequently used settings can be registered in My Menu while Custom Registration allows you to save and rename Film Simulation and image quality settings.

This electronic level uses a 3D system and is highly effective for architecture or landscape photography, when the accuracy of horizontal and vertical lines is crucial.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S can display four types of histograms: RGB and brightness, each with or without highlight warnings. [DIGLOYD: disappointing, on true raw histogram].

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S uses the G Mount, which has a mount diameter of 65mm, flange back distance of 26.7mm and minimum back focus distance of 16.7mm. It uses as many as 12 electronic contact points for sending and receiving data, plus it supports the use of a wide variety of lenses and accessories. The short back focus distance, made possible because of the Fujifilm mirrorless system's structure, affords greater freedom in lens design to contribute to the development of fast, compact and high-performance GF lenses while preventing vignetting to deliver edge-to-edge sharpness.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S saves pictures in a variety of formats and quality, including two sizes and three compression levels of JPEGs, as well as compressed/uncompressed RAW. Even when you are shooting only in RAW, the camera records 12-megapixel thumbnails at the same time. Its in-camera RAW conversion function also enables RAW files processing with the ability to save them as 8-bit TIFFs.

The standard ISO sensitivity range is ISO100-12800, with extended sensitivities of ISO50, ISO25600, ISO51200 and ISO102400 also available. RAW format is supported at all these ISO settings. The AUTO function allows you to set the standard ISO, low shutter speed limit and upper ISO limit, and configure AUTO 1 - 3 settings according to shooting conditions.

The body is made from robust magnesium alloy, which feels both solid and durable in the hand. The body is weather-sealed in 58 points to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture.The GFX 50S is compact and lightweight despite the large size of its sensor, plus its dust and weather-resistant body means it's equally effective in the studio or out in the field. Both slots support high-speed UHS-II cards.

The newly-developed focal-plane shutter is the world's first specifically designed for medium format mirrorless cameras. It is a low-noise mechanical shutter that withstands 150,000 actuations**, offers shutter speeds up to 1/4000 sec and has an electronic first curtain. Choose from three shutter types, including an electronic shutter.

The vertical battery grip VG-GFX1 provides a solid grip while also maintaining the camera's optical axis during vertical shooting. The grip features a Shutter Release Button, Command Dial, Focus Lever and six Fn buttons, mirroring the layout of the camera body. It holds an extra battery to enable shooting for extended periods of time and can be used to charge the battery. Using the AC adapter supplied (AC-15V), you can fully charge a battery in approx. two hours.

Focus Point Coverage

9x13 (117 Points) / 17x25 (425 Points) Single Focus Points and Six Sizes of Focus Area — TTL Contrast AF is available in Single Point, Zone and Wide/Tracking modes. In the Single Point mode, the camera offers 9x13 (117 points) or 17x25 (425 points) and six different Focus Area sizes. Select the minimum size for pinpoint focusing. The camera automatically detects and focuses on a face or eyes. Priority can be given to either the right or left eye.

The combination of settings on the Shutter Speed Dial, ISO Dial and Aperture Ring allow you to switch between four different exposure modes: Aperture Priority AE (A), Shutter Speed Priority AE (S), Program AE (P) and Manual. As dials are used for main exposure settings, you can adjust settings even when the camera is turned off. The Command Position (C/T) also enables Command Dial operations. [DIGLLOYD Hooray! No moron modes].

In continuous shooting mode, the FUJIFILM GFX 50S can shoot at up to 3.0 fps until the memory card fills up in JPEG, up to 8 frames in RAW, and up to 13 frames in compressed RAW.

Sample unique shooting styles including fixed-point photography, time lapse and self-timer images with controls over shooting interval, total number of frames and shutter delay. You can set an interval between 1 sec - 24 hours for shooting 1 - infinity frames.

The FUJIFILM GFX 50S allows you to take two frames and combine them for a creative effect. The first shot is displayed on the LCD monitor, so you can easily compose and shoot the second frame.

The Self Timer function can be set at 2 sec or 10 sec. It is particularly useful for situations when you want to minimize camera shake, such as long exposures. [DIGLLOYD: brain dead like most vendors: just let me dial in what I want]

Record your voice for up to 30 seconds to make notes about the images you are shooting. This makes it easy to keep track of shooting data in situations where writing notes is impractical.

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NEC Extends Warranty to Five Years for Purchases Thru March 31

NEC extends Warranty on PA-series Displays to 5 years

See my Mac wish list.

My workhorse display is the NEC PA302W.

Through March 31, NEC is extending the warranty to a total of five years.

See my reviews of computer displays:

When Apple offers a pathetic 1 year warranty on their premium-priced Macs, a five year warranty speaks volumes about the company’s confidence in its offerings.

Leica M10: Inertial Design

See my Leica M wishlist.

After 3+ years waiting for my Leica M240 to gain meaningful firmware improvements (that is, besides fixes for bugs and original kindergarten design mistakes) and most importantly an improved EVF, my patience with Leica is now reaching the breaking point.

We are now rewarded with an about $6600 design rehash that offers no leap forward anywhere, even if it does add some niceties.

  • Same resolution sensor 24MP. Does it have improved noise behavior? Based on the Leica SL sensor issues, I deem it potentially a downgrade over the M240 sensor (for noise). It’s not even clear that the sensor is optimized for rangefinder lenses properly (micro lenses), as with the M9 and M240, though one sure hopes so.
  • No built-in EVF and no EVF included (huh?). It’s not even clear that a higher-res EVF is possible; it looks like the same toy grade and grossly overpriced Leica Visoflex EVF2.
  • Dedicated ISO dial (I hardly ever change ISO, so this is a nuisance at best).
  • Rangefinder to bulk-out what could have been a smaller and cheaper EVF-only camera.
  • Slimmer camera body with water sealing (huh? the lenses are not weather sealed).
  • Mediocre-resolution rear LCD far below what many recent cameras have.
  • Built-in WiFi, the antithesis of “embracing filmic heritage”.
  • Fewer buttons for more operating hassles. But hey look larger, which might help.
  • A My Menu feature, which I should have had 3 years ago on the M240 and still don’t.
  • No mention of EFC shutter (does it or not?).
  • No raw-only mode that eliminates JPEG cruft and clutter.
  • Incompatible battery vs M240.
  • No camel-scrotum leather option.

All this 2013 technology for only about $6600, when a Hasselblad X1D medium format camera will cost modestly more (and maybe less once standard lenses are figured in) with far higher image quality. Try the $14K IQ test on this page.

Still, it’s possibly tht I might prefer the M10 to the M240 (size and weight and maybe the buttons really do work better), but I don’t know yet. It’s not an upgrade over the M240, and at about $6600, I’d much rather have a Hasselblad X1D or Fujifilm GFX for a little more money. Or less, since the Leica M lenses run $4K to $7K for the ones I like. OTOH, the Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon is the best M lens of all, so I suppose we can call an M10 + 35/1.4 a $9000 camera I suppose.

Where is the 36MP sensor with 4MP EVF and without the anachronistic rangefinder, for a smaller/lighter/cheaper camera. Ditto for the 2MP rear LCD (it's 1MP).

Leica M10

Embracing their filmic heritage without losing sight of contemporary needs, the Leica M10 blends a pared-down physical design with enhanced imaging capabilities to produce an elegant and intuitive tool for still photography.

Utilizing a redeveloped 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor, the M10 yields high-resolution imagery with an extended dynamic range, high sensitivity to ISO 50000, and a continuous shooting rate of 5 fps.

Separating itself from previous digital M rangefinders, the M10 features a slim body profile reminiscent of M film cameras, and the optical viewfinder's magnification has been increased to 0.73x for greater composition and focusing accuracy. The body design also incorporates a dedicated ISO dial for quick adjustment, even when the camera is turned off, and the rear 3.0" 1.04m-dot LCD features a Gorilla Glass cover to guard against scratching and light impacts. Also contributing to durability, the top and bottom plates are constructed from brass and the chassis is built from magnesium alloy to realize a robust physical construction for long-lasting use. Additionally, unique among M cameras, the M10 also sports an integrated Wi-Fi module for wireless sharing and remote camera control from a linked mobile device.

Leica M10

Refocusing their attention on the basics, the M10 pares down its feature-set to reveal a more simplified and direct method for working. Taking cues from Leica's film camera legacy, the M10 has the slimmest body of any digital M camera, and also distinguishes itself with a physical ISO dial, higher magnification optical viewfinder than previous digital Ms, and the omission of video recording in order to focus purely on still photography.

24MP CMOS Sensor and Maestro II Processor

A redeveloped full-frame 24MP CMOS sensor pairs with the Maestro II image processor to deliver a wide dynamic range with notable color rendering, as well as enhanced sensitivity from ISO 100-50000 to suit working in a variety of lighting conditions. The image processor also incorporates a 2GB buffer to afford fast continuous shooting at 5 fps for up to 40 consecutive frames in a burst.

Optical Viewfinder and Rangefinder

The optical viewfinder is a large, bright-line 0.73x-magnification rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation and bright-line frame lines, which are set to match the image sensor size at a focusing distance of 6.6'. On the front of the camera, a viewfinder frame selector can also be used to manually change the apparent image field to help visualize the scene with varying focal lengths; options are available in 35mm/135mm, 28mm/90mm, and 50mm/75mm focal length pairs.

The rangefinder mechanism displays split or superimposed bright field images within the center of the viewfinder to benefit accurate manual focusing control. The effective rangefinder metering basis is 50.6mm (mechanical metering basis 69.31 mm x viewfinder magnification of 0.73x).

Body Design and Built-In Wi-Fi

  • Slim body profile is reminiscent of Leica's film cameras for easier handling and manipulation.
  • Integrated ISO dial is featured on the top plate to permit simple and direct adjustment of sensitivity values, even when the camera is turned off.
  • The rear of the camera features just three buttons—live view, playback, and menu—for more simplified and intuitive navigation of the camera's control-set.
  • A programmable Favorites menu can be used, which allows you to define your most oft-used settings and select them for easy, one-touch access.
  • 3.0" 1.04m-dot LCD monitor provides a high-resolution means for image playback as well as live view shooting.
  • Rear LCD monitor has a Corning Gorilla Glass cover to protect it against scratching and impacts.
  • Top and bottom plates are machined from solid blocks of brass and the chassis is built from magnesium alloy for a truly durable, hard-wearing physical construction.
  • Rubber seals are used to prevent the entrance of light rain and dust to enable working in inclement conditions.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi permits sharing imagery directly to a linked smartphone and also enables remote control over the M10 to adjust select shooting parameters or to release the shutter via the Leica M app.

Other Camera Features

  • When working in live view, focus peaking is available to highlight edges of contrast for easier, more precise manual focus adjustment.
  • Designed to accept all M-mount lenses, Leica R-mount lenses are also compatible through the use of an optional R to M adapter.
  • Compatible with the optional Visoflex accessory electronic viewfinder for manually focusing adapted lenses.
  • Images can be recorded in either the DNG or JPEG file format.
  • A top hot shoe permits working with an external flash and the top sync speed is 1/180 sec.

David S writes:

I am a very loyal blog reader and though parts of me would have loved the sony 42 MP sensor on the A7R II, I cannot help but thing Leica is trying to remember their roots as a street camera.

If that is the case for someone like me it is a much improved camera, better viewfinder better high iso, slimmer body and wife were all top of my lists for what I wanted donor a new model.

Leica was never a landscape guys camera. It is a street camera and the improved buffer and faster shooter times are also much desired.

I can make a great 22 by 33 or so from the files of a M240 and from what I read this is improved from the SL and made from a different maker. We will see but please understand this was never a Landscape camera as a film camera and where the S should have 50mp or so this camera does not need it.

One other thing that Leica should be doing is having a high mega pixel camera as well not just a faster camera. I picked up a used Sony A7 II to compliment the A7R II for times I needed two bodies and the extra speed in bursts is so welcome for my concert work and all around journalism so what a visible guy like you should be calling on is a three body system the M 10 the black and white camera and the high megapixel camera.

Have a great day and I used my M for street shooting a stubborn old Leica shooter. But I will tell you becuase of the wieght and ergonomics I never was tempted to get a second M and I had two M9s.

DIGLLOYD: fair points, not lost on me before I wrote my post, or now. Leica has just dropped the ball for a huge potential fan base (like me)—the “street shooter” mentality prevails. Deliver to that mission, but don’t think in terms of one and only one mission.

But the simple fact is that Leica has left me hung out to dry with my M240, as discussed. If Leica wants to go back to its roots, I applaud the M10. But with $30K of M gear sitting in a drawer, they should have made that clear when they started on the digital path: my investment is a dead end. The M240 was never a street shooter’s camera, so take the damn thing forward.

And I’m not going to bit on the megapixels bait: see Heresy: Canon 5DS R as a Black and White Camera Better Than Leica M Monochrom Type 246? for starters.

I always liked my M240 for landscape , and I wanted 50 or at least 36 megapixels in that form factor. As it stands, Leica had dead-ended me.

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Eagles, 2004

Some opportunities are truly once in a lifetime; this show is now gone forever with the death of Jean Keene.

I went and reprocessed all the original images, and added many more.

Coal Face, an aggressive young Bald eagle, Homer Alaska
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Coal Face, an aggressive young Bald eagle, Homer Alaska
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Eagles, Homer Alaska
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Eagles, Homer Alaska
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Eagles, Homer Alaska
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Eagle, Homer Alaska
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Eagle Convention, Homer Alaska
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Eagle Convention, Homer Alaska
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Bill Atkinson’s “Photo Card” for iPhone/iPad: Tangible Internet-Age Postcards

Bill Atkinson is Mr. Hypercard, of Apple fame. He is a color expert and brilliant photographer. Today I had the pleasure of his company on several topics, including his latest creation.

Bill showed me his latest creation, the iPhone/iPad app “Photo Card”, available on the Apple Store. Other platforms are coming, e.g., Android, and I am trying to persuade him to do a web interface for computer users like me.

It started simply enough—Bill showed me one of his postcards—printed and sent through the mail. The card is very durable and aside from holding it to see sheen to reveal the printed-on postal service processing stuff (or a UV light), it looks like it was just custom made and was never posted.

It’s the kind of thing you could not do half as well at home: I was astounded at the quality of the laminated card with excellent color. They’re way more good enough to frame—and no backing/support is needed in a frame so you can see front and back of the card.

More info

CNET: Apple legend Bill Atkinson's new mission: Save the postcard

Twit.TV part 1 and Twit.tv Part 2 and Twit.TV Part 3

How it works

First, you need to create an account and buy credits.

You choose your own image, your own stamp, and you can even add a QR reader for a voice recording. Very slick, very well thought out. For example, just entering the zip code alone looks up the city and state, saving time on addressing.

A preview after editing is shown below. The fish picture (mine) will be the front of the postcard. The stamp is a real postage stamp made with my own image, the bike is a graphic just for fun, the smaller fish picture is yet another picture of mine, and the yellow/blue thing will contain a QR code with a recorded voice message up to a minute long.

Two things from my POV: (1) the images have to be on the phone to be used by the app, which for me means copying and syncing to the phone first—a hassle. This is of course NOT an issue for shots made with the iPhone and already on the phone. (2) I would like to make cards on my Mac in an app or web browser because it is far more efficient for me to work on a computer, where all my photos and contacts are stored.

Bill Atkinson’s iPhone app 'Photo Card', preview of final card

Below, a not yet finished card.

Bill Atkinson’s iPhone app 'Photo Card', editing view

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Lloyd

Medium Format Hasselblad X1D and Fujifilm GFX vs Leica S & M and Leica SL

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Somehow, those two letters in the title ring true with the brand.

The 24-megapixel Leica SL will surely feel pressure from a medium format system costing almost exactly the same (about $13K with lens). The competition in its price range now has a 66% larger sensor, 2X the pixels, superior image quality and dynamic range, and a superior lens lineup*. The Leica SL would have to sell for half of what it does to make any sense at all.

* The way I count, two shipping primes and one more coming (Hasselblad) is better than zero shipping primes. We should hear on Jan 19 about 5 lenses for the Fujifilm GFX. Even if Fujifilm delays until June, there isn’t even a debate here.

Speaking of size and weight: the Leica SL weighs 847g with battery, but the Hasselblad X1D weighs only 725g with battery! A sensor 66% larger and the X1D weighs 14% less.

Thought problem: you have roughly $14K to spend. Take your pick:

The SL image quality is not likely to even be in the same league as the Hasselblad X1D or Fujifilm GFX. And then there is delivery: Leica SL lens promises are farts in the wind as far as delivery goes (the 50/1.4 has yet to ship as I write this). Leica has gone astray, neglected and ignored its core customer base (M shooters), and simply fails to deliver on every front. My M240 has been forgotten (nothing useful in firmware except a few fixes that should never have shipped the screwed up way to start with). No new high-res body. Toy-grade EVF. Etcetera.

It’s game over for Leica as far as I can see, except as a purveyor of gilded toys (so to speak). But see my comments at the end for possible salvation.

Roy P writes:

[See Roy P’s comments on the Leica S system in this post, he has owned a large S system].

It looks like Hasselblad has a lot of internal turmoil, and it may be a long time before the X1D really comes together as a solid, reliable system.

I also heard that the Leica S is a basket case. The S line has not done well for Leica (OMG, really??!), and Leica has now tossed it in the lap of Sinar, and told them to use the guts of the S to make a digital back out of it. I have now heard this from three different, independent sources.

The previous R&D resources related to the S line has been put on the SL, which is having moderate success. Although not flying off the shelves, it’s showing a pulse. So officially, the S system is not dead, but for all practical purposes, it is. The support for the S system was already bad, and now, it is practically non-existent. Leica is an incredibly sloppy company. European customers must be a lot more forgiving or fatalistic than we are in the U.S. I think they are resigned to whatever crap happens to them – maybe a psyche developed by centuries of wars and displacements, and socialistic governments that foster and conditions people to be less demanding.

I was just amazed to see the difference in the settlement that Volkswagen was dished out in Europe vs. in the US, for the emissions fraud scandal. In Europe, the settlement amounted to a plastic tube, some software update and instructions. In the U.S., VW paid $20,000 to each customer. This article in the NYT is really hilarious and worth a quick scan.

My sense is, Leica (and likely, Hasselblad) are old school artisans given to excellence in hand-crafted mechanical things. They are culturally the same as Swiss watch makers, with the only difference being the end product. They had a nice trade, but the tidal wave of electronics and software blew them away and derailed their applecart. The same way digital watches dealt a body blow to the Swiss and other mechanical watchmakers who once ruled the earth. But at least, the high-end mechanical watchmakers were able to move further upstream and continue to exist today as boutique but solid businesses. The mass-market mechanical watchmakers are mostly gone.

The problem for Leica and Hasselblad is, they don’t have an equivalent all-mechanical universe to exist in, since film has died. They have to deal with electronics and software for almost everything, and they just can’t culturally make that transition any more than Patek Philippe, Audemars, Blancpain, Jaeger, Rolex, etc. can compete head on with Apple Watch.

That’s why every time Leica tries to put itself into a higher orbit, it fizzles out, and keeps dropping back to the M, and that’s also why even with the M, progress is painfully slow. We measure the progress of the M system in digital terms, but the oxen at Leica with the mechanical DNA in them can’t handle the digital yolk we keep placing on their necks!

Leica would be better off sticking to its knitting – the M system, and doing everything to make it the best it could be – and there are a lot of things they could do to make the M system more useful and pleasurable to use for people who appreciate M mount lenses.

DIGLLOYD: it’s insane not to see a mirrorless Leica S. The Leica SL should have been the Leica S system in mirrorless form.

There is possible salvation: Leica has only to make an M360 with a 36-megapixel sensor and 4MP EVF that takes M lenses and laugh all the way to the bank with suckers like me buying one. Leave the rangefinder OUT, make it smaller and add sensor stabilization and pixel shift for a home run. That of course is just for giggles.

Instead Leica delivers a a brick called the SL with ergonomics that frustrate me, and that leaves M users like me hung out to dry. It’s a kick in the groin in at least two ways: (a) no decent EVF or sensor resolution and (b) devaluation of my M-lens investment by apparent abandonment of any meaningful move forward on the M line. It is shows awesomely bad judgment to throw away goodwill for the most liked product line in the company history for all-new electronic stabs in the dark, infuriating the traditional M fan base. That this is so is self evident by the severe drop in Leica M lens prices (I can’t even sell mine at 30% off).

Thom Hogan writes:

One of the things I learned in my long career of managing companies is that they can fail for all kinds of reasons, including failing because they were successful.

What most people don't understand is capitalization. Hasselblad's problems are exactly centered on that. They're capitalized for a certain assumed product volume. The demand for the new medium format camera was way beyond what they could have produced. This created a classic tech problem: from where does the money come from to buy parts for all those orders, to establish a bigger and more efficient plant, and to get the increased number of products to the customer?

The lawyer is correct: the (current/former) owner of Hasselblad didn't want to pony up that cash. So that left few ways of raising it quickly enough to actually deliver a product. Had Hasselblad not found a willing partner, ironically the success of the X1D might have doomed the company to Chapter 7. Not Chapter 11, but full dismantle.

Personally, I take the DJI investment as a good sign. They have the cash, they have the experience in managing rapid, unexpected demand ramps, and if they've taken a controlling share as Kevin reports, that means the blood-sucking leeches that had control of Hasselblad no longer can make blood sucking decisions. DJI is a good choice for Hasselblad to team with: no overlap in products, but experience and money that can be exploited.

None of this happens fast, though. You can't plan for making 1000 units over a couple of years then find out that the initial demand on day 1 is higher than that and deliver instantly. I know of no one that can do that. So, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they deliver in the next couple of months and the units perform as expected, I have no real issues with what happened. Indeed, I'd bet this saves Hasselblad. Of course, if they can't take the DJI money/experience and make good with it, then Hasselblad will go the way of the dinosaur. Thus, I'm not in a tizzy over this. We'll know the answer soon enough.

DIGLLOYD: makes sense. At any rate, my original comments on desirability hold: the X1D looks to be more appealing than any Nikon or Canon or Sony DSLR at many levels, due to very high (expected) dynamic range, 50 megapiexels and total image quality in a reasonably compact body.

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Hasselblad X1D-50C: Communication and Delivery Concerns

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

I’ve been getting some minor pushback from readers about my recent Hasselblad X1D posts, in ways that I feel require some discussion.

First I am very excited to see medium format mirrorless emerge as a category with two players so far (Hasselblad and Fujifilm). I absolutely want Hasselblad to succeed because it is in my interest (very much so, I want to review it ASAP!) and the interest of all photographers: it is critical to have at least two and preferably three players in the medium format mirrorless space. I hope Sony joins in.

This new medium format category puts pressure on SonCaNikon to up their game. It also leaves $8K Leica cameras looking terribly lame and a very poor value.

Hasselblad appears to be in turmoil. Doing some dubious things that at the least require skepticism. And I consider some things much more concerning.

The X1D looks like a very fine camera and system, but unless your money is burning a hole in your pocket, it seems wise to see what pans out in the next few months. I personally would not be an X1D buyer at the present, given what has and is transpiring. That is not a statement that I would not buy an X1D, only that a little wait-and-see is a smart move.

Acquisition?

A company is not acquired unless there is a darn good reason, and the only reason I can think of here is financial difficulty. Therefore an acquisition or major investment could be a Very Good Thing, the alternative being quite unpleasant for any Hassy owner.

Kevin Raber of LuminousLandscape.com is a well informed individual. He claims in Hasselblad Acquired By DJI that Hasselblad has been acquired. If true, this could be a very good thing as it means fresh funds to deliver on promises. But what I find bizarre (and intolerable from a buyer’s perspective) is the lack of official confirmation or denial—very strange. Raber:

Hasselblad still needed to stay afloat. The investors wanted their money and they were not willing to contribute any more to this cause. What now?

Simple, the minority shareholder becomes the majority shareholder. DJI now owns the majority share of Hasselblad. You heard me right. This information has come from numerous, reliable sources. Hasselblad, the iconic Swedish camera company, is now owned by the Chinese drone maker DJI. Sooner or later, this will all become public. Maybe now that I am spilling the beans, it will be sooner rather than later. It seems that everyone inside Hasselblad knows about this, as well as some distributors and resellers. You can’t keep something this big a secret for very long, eventually, it is going to get out.

Howard C writes:

I am a lawyer (as well as a photographer). I primarily represent what are called private equity firms that are essentially in the business of buying companies, holding them for 3-5 years during which time they work to improve their businesses and increase their earnings, and then, ideally, selling them at a profit. The current owner of HB is a private equity firm that acquired HB in 2011. They have owned it for almost 6 years. They want out at the best price they can get.

About six months ago, HB announced a totally ground breaking product, the X1D, the first mirrorless medium format camera. Within a matter of days, HB was flooded with orders…way beyond their estimates. According to HB, the number of preorders within the first 10 days exceeded the estimates of the orders for the entire first year.

Sounds wonderful, right? Well actually, HB was simply not structured to meet that level of demand for a camera. They also lacked the internal capital to finance the purchase of components and the expansion of the production capability. So, where would the money come from? The current owner had no interest in doubling down and putting up the money. They are at the end of the investment cycle. They may also not have more capital to draw on from their investors.

Fortunately, the minority shareholder of HB is a VERY successful high tech company in China by the name of DJI, the wunderkind of the drone industry. It has deep pockets and a totally different set of economic objectives from a private equity firm such as the current/prior owner of HB. The net result is that we have a company that needs capital to execute its business plan, an existing majority owner that wants out, and a minority owner that sees synergistic business opportunities in a takeover of HB and providing a major commitment of capital to HB. A win win win.

The bottom line for a takeover of HB by DJI is that HB is far better positioned to successfully execute its business plan today than it was in the past. This is excellent news. I have minimal concerns about buying into the X1D system, if I otherwise conclude that it meets my photographic needs.

DIGLLOYD: legal reasons are indeed a lawyer’s purview. I write as a photographer, and what matters to me and what I think matters to other photographers. I think it matters. But I completely agree that a major investment and/or buyout may be a terrific plus for Hasselblad customers.

It is totally inappropriate to fault HB for not responding to the rumors about the takeover of HB by DJI at this point. There are a number of legal reasons why the agreement has likely not been finalized and the parties cannot comment on it. The price may not be finalized, there may be governmental clearances required, etc. I am sure that once it is finalized and the parties are free to discuss the change of control, we will hear lots about it from the principals.

DIGLLOYD: legal reasons are a lawyer’s purview, but I write as a photographer, and what matters to me and what I think matters to other photographers, and so whatever the real or rationalized reasons are (we don’t actually know)—they raise FUD for potential buyers—so I think it matters.

Execution and delivery

Reader Howard C sent me this interview from Photokina link. Remember that Photokina is in September, so “next month” means October. Some quotes from Hasselblad:

[Sept 23] Demo units have now started shipping to stores in key countries – US, UK, Germany, Japan, China and others – both to our subsidiaries and some photo independent stores. We’re shipping a few units out every day. End users who pre-ordered at launch should get their camera next month, with 1000’s of people waiting to receive their camera.

So users who ordered cameras received them in October? To my knowledge, exactly zero (0) X1D cameras have been delivered through B&H Photo or any other USA dealer to date—and this is January 2017. This shipping schedule claim is disturbing in light of these facts. To my knowledge, zero cameras were shipped via retail outlets until December and none in the USA to my knowledge. It is all quite fishy, given the statement above. Some users in Europe have apparently received cameras, but it doesn’t change anything that Hasselblad has thrown a few cameras over the wall to keep some credibility. Rather it raises my concern. Let me see a post by Hasselblad ambassador Ming Thein stating that he has received a production camera.

Another quote:

With the 30mm, we now have 3 lenses, which is not much for a system. The three lenses are the same focal lengths as for the XPan camera.

Next year, if all goes well, there will be 5 more lenses added throughout the year. We are very serious about this system. The 5 lenses are already in development. Our lens partner is Nitto, and they are very busy with Hasselblad lenses. We agree the focal length and aperture in discussion with Nitto, working very tightly together. They are a very traditional Japanese company who are very friendly.

We cannot disclose what the 5 lenses are yet, but they complement the existing ones. We don’t normally have a public lens roadmap, as future products might not be realized, and a roadmap might put buyers off our current products.

Translation: “we have announced five lenses, but they might never ship, their delivery status being so tenuous that we are not willing to commit. Seriously.”. Well, I’m not a fan of evasive PR puff interviews. I smell fish, and not fresh trout.

Howard C writes:

All the X1D system has in common with the GFX is that they are both mirrorless systems using the same Sony cropped medium format sensor.

However, the execution is totally different. The Fuji system looks and feels sort of like a Chrysler minivan, and the X1D like a Porsche 911. The Fuji will be more versatile in some ways. An articulating LCD, a removable viewfinder that can be articulated, lots of physical dials and buttons.

The X1D is the most elegantly designed camera that I have ever handled. Everyone who has handled one has been blown away by the fit and finish, the form factor, and the elegant simplicity of the interface. I am absolutely sure that both systems will be capable of high end image quality. HB has lots of experience with the Sony 50MP sensor. There is no reason to believe that the IQ will not be equal to the H6D50. It therefore comes down to the lenses and the physical differences in the cameras. There are tradeoffs, and different people will have different priorities.

DIGLLOYD: not having handled an X1D personally, I cannot yet comment. I will say that the paucity of buttons has always proven to be a hassle, and that a rear LCD with touchscreen is a non-starter for me—presbyopia at dusk, dirty or sunscreen-coated fingers, etc. One man’s elegance is another’s frustration, and last year I had to rent a Chrysler minivan, and its build quality was sh*t but dang did it do the job nicely for what I needed it for—well, my Cayenne was broken and I agree it is far nicer, so interesting out of the blue analogy.

It will be interesting to see what both cameras actually feel like. And ultimately if there are certain problems that interfere with making images under some conditions, that can be paramount. It will be fun to see them both.

Brian K writes:

Interesting read on the differences between the Hassy and Fuji mirrorless cameras. I can’t help think of what I was told by a service technician working on my then problematic Imacon scanner, “it was built for dentists”. It seems that there are cameras or equipment built for possibly heavy use or even rough use, and gear designed for hobbyists with the financial means to buy very elegant but possibly less practical gear.

When I was an advertising photographer, when it came to 35mm, there was pretty much just two choices. Nikon or Canon. Both cameras had vast supporting systems, and one could easily find accessories or repairs in many locations world wide. Leica for all it’s quality just wasn’t practical as an SLR for a working pro. (Obviously for rangefinder users it’s a different story as Leica is unique there) It was a boutique camera not a tool.

As a professional I would not even remotely consider the new Hassy unless they had a firm announcement and firm delivery dates on a complete series of lenses. Just 3 lenses can be very limiting to a professional and this system is not a cheap investment. I don’t see many pros adopting it, maybe if it survives for 5 more years and the range of lenses is increased enormously, but I think it’s just another boutique camera that will only find a home with hobbyists which the means to afford it. Sad though, if Hasselblad had the financial resources to really put behind this camera it could be successful.

Fuji on the other hand can build an elaborate system. As demonstrated by the Fuji GX680III system (50mm, 65mm, 80mm, 100mm, 125mm 135mm, 150mm, 180mm, 210mm, 250mm, 300mm, 500mm, lenses and a zoom AND a soft focus lens) Now that’s a system! And if Fuji is viewing this as their pro MF digital camera system why would they not continue with their past philosophy?

I think we’re seeing the end days of Hasselblad.

DIGLLOYD: I completely agree on the “firm” comment, and yet if the investment/buyout is true, then it is likely the salvation of Hasselblad and promises to meet those requirements, given a little time.

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Hasselblad X1D-50C vs Fujifilm GFX Lens Lineup (UPDATED 13 Jan)

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage and in particular, yesterday’s Hasselblad X1D-50C or Fujifilm GFX?.

On lenses, I would first note that both Hasselblad and Fujifilm have an established history of designing lenses that required software correction for distortion and/or color errors (Fujifilm all but hides this fact entirely with the Fujifilm X series). As I write this I have no idea if this will hold for medium format mirrorless lenses, but I hope not, because distortion correction wrecks micro contrast by stretching pixels—degrading one key advantage of a medium format sensor.

See also:

Hasselblad X1D lens lineup

Multiply by 0.82 for equivalent horizontal focal length / field of view as compared to a 36x24mm sensor: 30mm ~ 25mm, 45mm ~ 37mm, 90mm ~ 74mm.

I expect the Hasselblad X1D lenses to be superb, based on images I’ve seen. I am less happy about the absence of an aperture ring.

  • The 30mm f/3.5 is 1/3 stop faster than the Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 zoom.
  • The 45mm f/3.2 is 1/3 of a stop slower than the Fujifilm GF 45mm f/2.8.
  • The 90mm f/3.5 is a whopping 1 2/3 stops (almost 2 stops!) slower than the Fujifilm GF 110mm f/2. Heck, the Fujifilm 120/4 macro is only 1/3 stop slower than the Hassy 90/3.5.
  • According to Hasselblad, “Existing H System users also have the flexibility to use their existing lenses with the X1D by the way of an optional adapter.”.

The lens speed leaves much to be desired on the long end (90mm): a medium format system ought to have one fast lens.

With no ultra wide angle offering (yet), it loses some appeal for me (landscape). But presumably there will be something wider than 30mm ~ 25mm coming.

Three lenses is a good start. A reader tells me that Hasselblad plans "5 additional lenses" for 2017. It would be helpful if Hasselblad listed planned lenses on the Hasselblad X1D web page; as I wrote this no mention is made of any additional lenses (see the Lenses tab on this page which shows 3 lenses). Even though it seems likely to be true, pros investing in a system need solid info, and actually delivery. Given Hasselblad’s 4-month slippage with the X1D, credibility on delivery has already disappeared from my POV.

 
Hasselblad XC lenses: 45mm f/3.5, 30mm f/3.5, 90mm f/3.2

Fujifilm GFX lens lineup

Get Fujifilm GF lenses at B&H Photo.

This is a very impressive lens line rollout. It remains to be seen just how good these lenses are optically, but they are all new designs, so I am hoping for very high image quality.

Unlike Hasselblad, not only is there an ultra wide angle (19mm equivalent), but also a wide to normal zoom lens (26-52mm), and a 110mm f/2—very fast for medium format.

This lens line is far more compelling that what Hasselblad is showing. And to my eye, the fit and finish is far more attractive, and with an aperture ring. It looks first class, so I hope it is.

Multiply by 0.82 for equivalent horizontal focal length / field of view as compared to a 36x24mm sensor: 19mm, 26-52mm, 37mm, 52mm, 90mm, 98mm.

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX
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Hasselblad X1D-50C or Fujifilm GFX?

Hasselblad X1D-50C

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage.

The Hasselblad X1D has apparently started to ship in some countries, but I have no independent confirmation of my own. I expect to receive an X1D for review as soon as it hits the USA at B&H Photo. This new category of medium format mirrorless is a very high priority for my testing, and I hope that Sony joins the fray.

My review of medium format mirrorless cameras going forward will be in a new medium format section by subscription, not part of any other publication, but included in the everything deal. This is the only viable way I can report in-depth on these cameras, the capital cost being too high otherwise.

My advice is simple: if you’re investing in a system that will cost $12000 to $14000 for a 2-lens kit, it makes no sense to rush out and buy either until the facts are in—unless you have money to burn.

I expect both cameras to be excellent in regards to image quality, but that is only one of several considerations: image quality, size/weight/ergonomics, lens lineup and timeline, versatility, support and service short and long term, track record.

Accordingly, I raise these points as highly salient to intended usage, some more and some less , but which is which depends on what the shooter is after:

  • The X1D has leaf shutter lenses, so no focal plane shutter. This has the advantage of high flash sync speeds and essentially zero vibration, but it precludes adapting things like the Cambo Mini View Camera or adapting Zeiss Otus. Still, those using strobes in the studio may find the leaf shutter support irresistible.
  • The X1D looks to be relatively svelte and sleek compared to the Fujifilm GFX. Without handling the camera, I can}t say wether its relative lack of buttons is going to make the cut for me and/or whether its touchscreen will be a problem (I’ve never found a touchscreen that does better than cause problems for me—part of that is presbyopia making a touchscreen useless anyway). The GFX is larger, but that could be a plus or a minus, depending.
  • Be cautious on autofocus. Do not assume that AF is accurate, and that this may be most critical feature of all: verify, do not assume. Given Fujifilm’s track record in mirrorless for years now, the GFX is not likely to have issues, but even that should not be assumed. Hasselblad...?
  • As pointed out in Roy P’s reader comment that follows, warranty, construction quality, and reliability are all factors which may be primary for some shooters.
  • The 4-month delay in delivering the Hasselblad X1D raises a big red flag for me: poor planning and execution does not go away just because an initial rev ships. The causes are unclear, but I suspect bugs had to be fixed, at the least. I would not be a buyer of the X1D until more is known. The Fujifilm GFX is in the pipeline, and given the years of experience with Fujifilm with mirrorless digital, I expect Fujifilm to deliver on time with relatively bug-free firmware.
  • Fujifilm apparently had Sony build a custom sensor, while Hasselblad apparently did not. This raises the issue of image quality (noise, color depth and accuracy, high ISO, long exposures, etc), even if the sensors are both manufactured by Sony. That said, I expect both cameras to offer extremely high image quality. [By “sensor” I mean what comes out the pipe from sensor and electronics; the two are a system and cannot be decoupled.]
  • Fujifilm has laid out an aggressive lens map that includes 5 primes and a zoom. That is evidence of a major commitment. Hasselblad leaves me wondering. See also the Fujifilm GF lens lineup at B&H.
  • The Fujifilm GFX does not have leaf shutter lenses, so no high-speed sync. However, its focal plane shutter means that any lens that can be adapted can be shot on the Fujifilm GFX (like a Zeiss Otus). This is a huge potential advantage for all sorts of medium format lenses, high performance lenses like Zeiss Otus. But of importance only if one wants to adapt. I’m assuming that the GFX supports an EFC shutter, if not then I’m worried that shutter vibration could be an issue.
  • Fujifilm has a deep R&D budget, proven commitment to regular firmware upgrades, outstanding color management (one reason Fujifilm X users love their cameras), and in general has a large presence in the mirrorless world. Hasselblad is a small company that apparently has sought external financing with DJI, possibly even acquired. The X1D could turn out to be the superior camera, but until this financing plays out, the smart move is to give it some time, which allows seeing how the Fujifilm GFX performs.

Quite an impressive lens line at the outset for Fujifilm. See Fujifilm GF lenses at B&H Photo.

Multiply by 0.82 for equivalent horizontal focal length / field of view as compared to a 36x24mm sensor: 19mm, 26-52mm, 37mm, 52mm, 90mm, 98mm.

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX
Fujifilm GFX and EVF

Roy P writes:

To that list, I would add warranty, construction quality, and reliability, all of which suck with the Leica S, which is not even a true MF.

Leica’s warranty is a ludicrous 1 year on the S cameras which cost as much as $16,900, and S lenses that cost as much as $11,000.

DIGLLOYD: Roy had 9 Leica S lenses (now 6), nearly all of which have needed service, which means months of downtime (I’m aware of the entire in-depth horror story). Through other channels, my information is that the internals of Leica S lenses are at best described as consumer grade. Thus I concur completely on the “warranty, construction quality, and reliability” concern as something worth critical consideration before investing in any medium format system.

Fujifilm GFX: Might a Zeiss Otus Image Circle Fill Most of the Sensor?

Get Hasselblad X1D-50C at B&H Photo.

See Fujifilm GFX coverage.

Assuming a suitable adapter shows up for the Fujifilm GFX, I’m wondering whether the Zeiss Otus lenses might in fact afford an image circle that maintains strong performance to cover most of the larger sensor.

I don’t expect that f/1.4 or f/2 will deliver the requisite image circle with quality, but below shows what might reasonably be expected, say, at f/2.8.

I have some inquiries in as to whether these assumptions might pan out.

There is a claim out there that the Otus 85 image circle covers (with dark corners) the 53 x 44mm 100MP sensor in the PhaseOne 100MP back (34.4mm diagonal from center of frame). That is possible, but is is nearly the size of the image circle in most tilt-shift lenses for 35mm format. The diagonal (from center) of a 36 X 24mm sensor is 23.6mm, so 34mm is a hugely oversized image circle. I have personally found that the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 has only about 4mm of range left/right, so that makes the claim even harder to believe. Still, it could be true. Image circle size can vary substantially from infinity to close range, depending on optical design.

Finally, outside the proscribed format size, there can be major inflections to field curvature; see for example my full-frame evaluations of the Zeiss Touit lenses, which are designed for APS-C. There could also be incipient focus shift outside the designed-for frame area. So coverage or not, a lot depends on actual behavior.

Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D sensor size with estimated Zeiss Otus image circle

 

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

Saturated Soil + Heaviest Rain Yet = Lots of Mudslides and Downed Trees

With the six inches or so of rain in my neighborhood over the past few days, the ground is now super saturated. Many trees have come down, with the sound of chainsaws every morning, mud is all over the roads, etc. I did not make any images today since the rain was like a curtain later in the day, and the creeks are roaring.

It rained only moderately today (a mere inch or two), but in the evening the wind started roaring and it is really dumping now, with water pooling in my backyard significantly deeper. I talked to a friend in the lower Eastern Sierra near Convict Lake, and they got 3 feet of snow in just the past few days, with no snow for several prior years. This latest front might practically bury the first floor of houses if this heavy dump makes it over there.

Update: 21:45: it was inevitable—now on UPS battery power.. Power came back on around midnight or later... got up to turn everything off. I was lucky to be in a “500-4999 affected” outage (orange dot), which gets high priority.

 
San Francisco Bay Area Power Outages from storm, 2017-0110 22:22

Wind and trees

It’s the wind that’s bothering me: my neighbor has a massive eucalyptus tree that just about overhangs my roof, which makes for a serious hazard—branches weighing a hundred pounds have almost made it to my roof in prior years, now the tree is far larger—and a potential oily torch in the summer. Inconsiderate neighbors are part of life I suppose, and since my requests to trim back the tree have been utterly rejected, my only option may be to send a nice unfriendly letter from an attorney. I’m just hoping my house remains intact through this storm (update: it did).

One reader wondered why I do not cut back the branches:

In SoCal we just cut back any tree/shrub that is hanging into our property lines, especially if we think it will pose a hazard. Don't think you can do that with the Eucalyptus unless some of its limbs are hanging onto your property.

You seem like a headstrong individual. Take a chainsaw or have someone cut it down. I have never hesitated to cut anything that came onto both my properties. If they have a problem then they can #$@%#$%!!!!

The limbs are about 50 feet over my property. Right over the property line, the limbs are up to 2 feet in diameter, narrowing down from there. As a resut of trimming back about 8 years ago, “water sprouts” now grow off the trunk and these large limbs are now several hundred pound missiles waiting to peel off in a high wind (water sprouts never have any solid attachment).

I’m actually quite careful when it comes to staying alive, and pruning such a giant would be insane except by a professional rigged with rope for safety and/or crane. This picture from a slightly larger tree in 1992 might explain: It’s a several thousand dollar job for a professional just to prune such a tree, what with needing to be 70 feet up or so. Taking down two such giants cost $6000 24 years ago. It would cost about $15000 today.

BTW, Photographic Film Really Was Not Much of a Performer.

 
Huge Eucalyptus, Circa 1992
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Really Right Stuff Leveling Base TA-3 for TVC 3-Series Tripods + Reader Comments

Really Right Stuff: TA-3 leveling base on TVC-34L tripod
Arca Swiss Cube geared head with RRS B2-Pro2 clamp

See my Really Right Stuff wish list and other articles on Really Right Stuff.

Out in the field, I rely on the dual-axis Arca Swiss Cube geared tripod head to level the camera and to achieve the desired angle of tilt. But often the angular range of 28° is insufficient and while the head can be unhinged for 62° more (90° total), this is less stable, and an operational hassle. And in sub-freezing cold the gearing mechanism can become hard to operate, requiring much more force.

I never really considered a leveling base because I thought the geared head was sufficient—as it is—but it is relatively slow for large adjustments. As a further argument against a leveling base, it adds significant weight, so for extended hikes I’d still prefer the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L without a leveling base, to keep the weight down.

But...

Enter the Really Right Stuff TA-3 leveling base for the Really Right Stuff TVC 3-series tripods (the TVC-34L is my favorite of the series operationally, the TVC-24L I prefer for longer hikes).

An allen wrench gets the TA-3 installed in a few minutes.

I am now 'sold' on having a leveling base for two key reasons:

  • A leveling base saves me time: gearing on the 'Cube' is relatively slow, particularly if the angle is more than a little. The leveling base gets me 15° very quickly in any direction without needing any rotation of the 'Cube' to correspond with the gearing. I can then fine-tune the leveling and angle of tilt with the Cube’s gearing.
  • The RRS TA-3 leveling base adds 15° in any direction, which can be a big help when working at steep angles or slopes, where the inclination of the Arca Swiss Cube head is insufficient. So instead of 28° with the gearing alone, I get 28° + 15° = 43° — quite a lot more range.

The above points don’t matter if working on flat ground, but I’m almost always working on uneven and sometimes extremely steep ground, where leveling is a constant requirement.

Really Right Stuff also offers the TA-2 leveling base for 2-series tripods. It’s a tighter fit, and thus may be a bit less operationally convenient, but my logic was this: a leveling base on the already beefier TVC-34L, and keep the TVC-24L light for long hikes.

By the way, the B2-Pro-II screw knob clamp is one awesome clamp. I finally upgraded to the new beauty, with its laser engraved markings—the old one operated flawlessly after 10 years of encounters with rocks, but I wanted those laser engraved marks.

Really Right Stuff TA-3-LBGP
Low-Profile Locking Knob, Series 3 & 4 leveling bases
Really Right Stuff TFA-01 Pocket Pod

Jason W writes:

One of the limitations with the TA-3 and similar leveling bases is that the original handle limits your minimum tripod height, making it in impossible to achieve true ground level shots.

However, while I haven't tested myself, RRS has the TA-3-LGBP low profile knob that seems to mitigate this issue.

DIGLLOYD: I’ll see if I can obtain one to try.

If I were shooting that low, I’d be using the Really Right Stuff TFA-01 ULTRA Pocket pod. —much faster and easier; a full size tripod often cannot fit in many spaces (rocks and such) at such a low position anyway.

Roy P writes:

You really need the RRS leveling base for a gimbal head. Otherwise, if you’re on uneven ground, there’s no good way to level your camera and lens, and the longer the focal length, the bigger this problem.

The leveling base adds more movement to the ARCA cube, and this is very handy for quickly making coarse adjustments, and then using the knobs on the cube for more precise adjustments. As you pointed out, it also extends the range of movement for the cube.

But unless you really need a geared head like the ARCA cube for very precise adjustments, a regular ball head is much easier to use, and far less expensive too, and you don’t need the leveling base with it at all. The RRS BH-55 can pretty much do it all – I love this ball head.

I also have an ARCA cube, which I use mostly for product or macro photos.

DIGLLOYD: good point on the gimbal head. See Reader Comments: Really Right Stuff TFA-01 Ultra, Gimbal Head.

As for a ballhead, yes the BH-55 is excellent: I own 4 or 5 Really Right Stuff ballheads including the BH-55 as well as the Burzynksi (superb but only 45° tilt). All are superbly built and excellent for what they are best at: making rapid, if not very precise compositions. I use them only under conditions where the Cube is too large. It is error prone with a ballhead to make very small compositional or angle adjustments without altering the other axis (tilt or framing); one cannot operate in just one axis for starters. Next, add gloves and cold hands and steep slopes where I can’t even stand in a good position to manipulate the head. Next, add a heavy camera and ballhead flop becomes an issue regardless of tension. Since I make such adjustments constantly, choosing my compositions precisely, any ballhead is a frustrating thing to work with, particularly so on uneven ground where I can’t have ideal grip on it. Next, try tightening the head (or loosening) without having any change happen to the positioning. And it is always faster to get to perfect leveling with the Cube than with any ballhead with a small geared adjustment. I will never go back to ballhead; experience proves it out for my work.

On the other hand, a ballhead is terrific for quick setup and fast shooting. But that’s just not the way I work most of the time.

John D writes:

What’s up with RRS? Every tripod they make is listed on the website as out of stock.
I have three tripods and a couple of dozen machined bits and pieces ($$$) and I have sometimes seen a few items out of stock but never anything like this. A stock situation like this is usually really good news or really bad news. I trust it’s the former.

Really Right Stuff replies:

Our current “out of stock” situation on many tripods is due to 2 fantastic months in a row (Nov and Dec) that far exceeded any of our projections. Actually, we had so many tripod sales in November that our inventory was decimated (despite planning ahead and stocking up) leaving us with very little to work with in December.

Another problem is it takes more time than we’d like to get all the materials in to make new tripods and each one is hand assembled. In the last few days we are almost doubling our amazing assembly team to help keep up with demand, but it will still be a while before we are caught up. Orders placed now will hopefully ship within 3 weeks to a month from the date of the order and we hope to be fully caught up by the end of February.

DIGLLOYD: nice to see a USA business doing so well.

Barton T writes:

I know you love the cube but have you looked at (or tried) the newer D4? Then there is the just released P0 hybrid, a P0 with a ± 10° geared platform on top: I’m not sure how much weight it can take?

The ballhead has full movement so the idea is composition/rough levelling is achieved on the ballhead and then the geared platform on top makes the fine adjustment (not totally dissimilar to having the levelling head and then Cube on top) so I’m not sure if it’s useless. I thought it looked quite interesting but I’ve never used the P0 so I don’t know if it would have enough grunt. I had the RRS BH-55 and loved it but found for my (architecture/interior) work it was to inaccurate and slow compared to a geared head and had a very slight bit of movement after setting the camera position, locking down and then releasing the camera — and there was no way to readjust to the desired position after the fact. When I say movement it was just a very slight sag with the weight of the camera after locking down. I loved the size, weight and speed of using a ballhead system otherwise.

I use a Manfrotto 405 geared head at present but it is cheap and has numerous issues (it does fortunately hold position solidly except with a Sinar P/F where it is a bit bendy) so have been searching for a suitable replacement. I’ve tried Cube and it is awesome but way too slow.

D4 looks like a nice middle ground. I figured you would have tried one since it has a speed/weight advantage over the Cube.

DIGLLOYD: The Arca Swiss D4 looks promising in several ways, but I’d have to get a solid clamp onto it (compatibility at the least, forgetting inferior ergonomics), and that can’t happen easily with a loaner. I don’t even know if the clamp is easily replaced. I like what I have and like most people, my budget is tight so I’m standing pat for now. It’s 1.5 lbs vs 2 pounds for my 'Cube', which is worth something.

Note: the Really Right Stuff clamp is offered in 1/4" or Metric 6 screw. My original-version takes the Really Right Stuff B2-Pro-II Screw Knob Clamp with M6 Screw. AFAIK, the newer ones do also.

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

I reserve the right to correct any typos, including pricing errors. Payment as agreed upon. You pay FedEx 3 day shipping and are responsible for any California sales tax, if applicable.

Computer stuff

  • NEC EA244UHD 4K display $650 (sells new for $1049). See my review.
    A very nice 4K display (see my review), but I’m just not using it any more because of iMac 5K. Never saw many hours of operation, so backlight should have long life. Would make a terrific primary display for space constrained environments and/or an excellent 2nd display.
  • Mid 2012 MacBook Pro 13" 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 16GB / 240GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD / Intel HD Graphics 4000 512MB with charger $910. OWC sells a similar model used for $1000 or so. Speedy little laptop fast enough to run all my web sites.

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.
  • Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO-Lanthar SL II for Nikon with lens hoods LNIB $650. I think this is the “II” version but I have to double check. I think I also have the close-up lens. SALE PENDING
  • Voigtlander 180mm f/4 APO-Lanthar SL for Nikon with lens hood LNIB $1500. rare lens. I have some review coverage on this page and also here. See also Ming Thein’s review. SOLD
  • Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G LNIB $450
  • Nikon 45mm f/2.8 ED PC-E Micro Nikkor $1325. 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-S 85m f/1.8G $325 LNIB SOLD
  • Nikon AF-S 105mm f2.8 ED VR macro $600
  • Nikon AF 105mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $925 LNIB
  • Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II $1425
  • 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 $900
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar $1475 (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 $1375 excellent (lens hood has scratches, but lens is very lightly used).
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 $240 SOLD
  • Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L $590
  • 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
  • Rodenstock 180mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S Copal shutter + Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFE PRISTINE SOLD
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR Copal shutter+ Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFER PRISTINE
  • Fujifilm Fujinon A 240mm f/9
Performance Package for Mac Pro or iMac 5K
For iMac 5K or For 2013 Mac Pro
Recommended by diglloyd as ideal for photographers and videographers

2.5K or 4K or 5K Display for Image Editing and Viewing?

See my Mac wish list.

In yesterday’s Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment essay, I discussed the challenges of evaluating and editing images on a display with extreme pixel density. Today, I want to up-level that discussion and summarize what I see as the pros and cons of a 4K or 5K or 8K display versus a 2K or 2.5K display.

Definitions: industry-standard rounding of horizontal resolution means that only 2.5K (2.5 * 1024) and 5K (5 * 1024) are honest:

  2K = 1920 @ 2.1 MP
2.5K = 2560 @ 3.7 to 4.1 MP
  4K = 3840 or 4096 wide @ 8.3 to 9.4 MP
  5K = 5120 wide @ 14.7 MP
  8K = 7680 wide @ 33.2 MP
 15K = 15360 (will this be called 16K?) @ 133 MP
MP = megapixels

Here are the displays I recommend for various reasons:

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook pro
  • My workhorse display, the 2.5K 30" NEC PA302W. True internal calibration and tracking, true neutral grayscale rendition (no magenta tint as with many LED displays), outstanding color gamut, 2560 X 1600 resolution for superior vertical working space. Similar, but smaller the PA242W and PA272W.
  • The 32" NEC PA322UHD 4K display. True internal calibration and tracking, wide color gamut, 3840 X 2160 resolution for superior vertical working space, moderate pixel density due to the 32" form factor.
  • The viewing enjoyment champion: the late 2015 Apple iMac 5K. The best way to view images, bar none (possibly the LG 5K is as good, or the Dell 8K).
  • For 2016 MacBook Pro users: the LG 5K. Considerations are the same as for the iMac 5K.
  • If and when it proves out on the 2016 MacBook Pro (only, at this time), the Dell UltraSharp 32 Ultra HD 8K.
  • Eizo is excellent, but very expensive (2.5K, 4K).
  • I do not recommend TV-size displays for general work due to a basic ergonomic problem: anything past about 34 inches becomes an uncomfortable head-swivel to see the display properly. Plus the greater viewing distance required simply recreates the pixel density issue anew. Plus the pixel density becomes too coarse and most TVs do a poor job as a computer display.

Pluses and minuses of 4K / 5K / 8K:

If you’re buying a display for viewing pleasure, go straight to 5K (or 8K)—a no brainer.

  • High megapixels for outstanding realistic looking images; very high viewing pleasure. 8.3 megapixels on 4K, 14.2 megapixels on 5K, 33.2 megapixels on 8K. Like looking at a 'chrome' (4K is just a bit weak here, 5K is much better).
  • Particularly on the the iMac 5K and LG 5K: outstanding image contrast that delivers rich black blacks, and white whites.
  • Extreme pixel density makes image evaluation much more challenging. A 4K display in 32" size is acceptable, but represents an inflection point on pixel density.
  • Absent or unproven color calibration with many solutions (Apple, Dell, LG all fall short). Solutions like Eizo 4K are an exception.
  • Aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is unfriendly to 3:2 or 4:3 images.
  • For 4K video, a 4K display is all but mandatory. 5K is even better in some ways, since it allows room for tools/palettes.
  • Just a heck of a lot nicer to look at for everything.

Pluses and minuses of 2.5K

Pixel density on a 32" 4K display may be acceptable, but pixel density issues come to bear with 4K at 27" or 24".

Professionals who evaluate images or edit fine details or who require superb color gamut and color tracking over time should consider the points above and below carefully; these are “bread and butter” considerations that may outweigh the beauty considerations of 4K. The right answer for any particular workflow might not be apparent until after buying, but thinking it over in advance increases the odds of making the right choice.

  • Proven color calibration (NEC, Eizo) with wide to exceptional gamut.
  • Low pixel density allows much more eye-friendly image evaluation and detail work.
  • Generally a better choice for print matching (glossy ultra high contrast displays like the iMac 5K do not translate quite the same).
  • NEC PA302W in particular: the 2560 X 1600 resolution (aspect ratio 1.6:1) is a better fit for 3:2 or 4:3 images.
  • Absent or unproven color calibration with many solutions (Apple, Dell, LG all fall short).
  • Aspect ratio of 1.78:1 is unfriendly to 3:2 or 4:3 images.

At present, I run the NEC PA302W (101 dpi) as my primary display with the 4K NEC PA322UHD (140 dpi) as a secondary display. I would prefer a secondary display that is 5K or 8K, but this is not viable on the Mac Pro (I’m not going to lose two ports to dual cables to a 5K display)—I’ll have to wait for some future Mac. At this point, I’m hoping to see a new Mac Pro that supports 8K, at which point I will decide if the benefits of 8K outweigh the evaluation and editing hassles. An iMac 8K would win me over, since I could run the PA302W as a 2nd display.

A compromise that I would find ideal would be a 5K display in a 34" form factor (172 dpi), thus large enough to have a pixel density that is high but (maybe) still viable for image evaluation.. But that does not exist and my existing machines would require dual Thunderbolt cables for Multi Stream Transport to make that work—unacceptable and flaky as tested.

I suspect that I ultimately will end up with an 8K display—large I hope—and I will just hve to deal with the pixel density issue by zooming in and/or cropping for evaluation.

 
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Heavy Rain Continues: Examples with the Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 on Olympus E-M1 II

I take a practical handheld look at the Panasonic Leica 12mm f/1.4 on the Olympus E-M1 Mark II on a rainy walk.

Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Examples: Around the Neighborhood

Images shown at up to full resolution 5184 X 3888 = 20.1 megapixels. Viewing on an iMac 5K recommended as this allows nearly all pixels to be seen (horizontally).

I know this cannot compete with real floods, buy hey—my backyard got 4 inches or rain last night and it’s still coming down. I’ve seen it come down much harder and over a foot of rain in a week before, so it’s not an extreme storm by any means, at least not in the SF bay area.

 
__METADATA__
 
__METADATA__
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Reader Comment: More Binocular Thoughts (continued) from Roy P

See my binocular wish list.

See also Nikon’s New Flagship Binocular and other binocular reviews and discussion.

Roy P wrote with an extensive discussion of his thoughts on the 25 or so binoculars he tried back in December. He now has some follow-on thoughts:

I’ve got to add the Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF binoculars right up there with the Swarovsky 8.5x42 EL42. Depending on the use case, you could make either of these the #1 and the other the #2, but they are more like a #1a and #1b.

 
Deal on Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular

The Zeiss is slightly bigger in size, but slightly lighter, so it has a lower density. It handles very well – the specs says the weight is distributed more towards the oculars, so the binocular tends to lean towards the user instead of away from the user, and that indeed seems to be the case – it just feels a little more secure in the hands.

It has the same kind of very good focus from around 250’ to 1000+ feet, so you can look at anything in this range without having to focus, very much like a porro prism.

The big difference is, the Zeiss has a whopping 446’ field of view at 1000 yards, and that is over 10% more than the EL42. And not only that, there is no fall off in the sharpness or curvature I can see towards the edges – it looks pretty darned flat. Very impressive, I think.

Brightness, contrast, clarity, and CA control all look identical between the Zeiss and the Swarovski, as well as the Leica Noctivid.

The 8.5x magnification in the Swarovski EL42 vs. 8.0x in the Zeiss makes things look marginally bigger, which perceptually feels even larger because of the smaller FoV. But once you realize you’re seeing a 10%+ larger area, the magnification in the Zeiss doesn’t look too mingy.

The eye relief in the Zeiss is 18mm, which is 2mm less than the Swarovski, so for some people who wear eyeglasses, that could be borderline.

The Zeiss also has a much shorter focus throw to go from near to infinity. The Swarovski takes almost an entire extra turn of the focusing ring. So the Zeiss allows a much quicker navigation up and down the Z axis, but the Swarovski allows greater control over the focusing within a zone of focus. Depending on the use case, some people will prefer one over the other. In my case, if this were a manual focusing lens, I would definitely prefer the Swarovski, since I’m not likely to be rapidly bouncing up and down a scene. But for a binocular, since I don’t have any one specific use case, I think I personally prefer the faster navigation the Zeiss offers.

Now, here’s the piece de resistance: the $1150-off sale is still on, so the price is still “only” $1700.

I had no use case to justify buying this binocular at $2850, nor the Swarovski EL 42 for $2550, or the Leica Noctivid for $2600, even with the 10% off deal I had. But for $1700, I am thinking hard about use cases for the Zeiss! I already have it from B&H, now it’s a matter of deciding to keep it or return it. I’ve already all the other full-size binoculars I had been evaluating.

BTW, there is one other Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF listed on the B&H site for $2850, not discounted, that seems identical to the above binocular, with the ONLY difference I can see being a T* in the title. I don’t know if this is a newer model (it has zero reviews) with improved coatings that reduce any residual longitudinal CA (there is no lateral CA I can detect). I definitely don’t have a use case for it – I think I can live without whatever further improvements this model might have!

John D writes:

FWIW, the Zeiss dealer in Mendocino "Out of this World" told me that the fine focus adjustment on the new series of Victory bins is easier to use than in the version that's currently on sale.

After they pointed this out I did notice how the focus on mine is very touchy compared to my friends Swarovski's. However I'm not sending them back.

Darin B Writes:

The first version of the Victory SF binos came out in 2014 (gray color, the ones on sale now). There was a problem with the focus mechanism plus people complained about not enough click-stops on the eyepieces. So Zeiss redesigned the focus mechanism a bit, changed the eyepieces, and switched the armor color to black. Birders are very picky people.

Same binoculars, really.

DIGLLOYD: small things might or might not matter to some.

4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

Fabulous Synergy: Olympus E-M1 Mark II + Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron, Examples from the Las Vegas Strip

See my micro four thirds wish list.

These examples were shot while walking the Las Vegas 'strip' in early January on a nice cool day with variable cloud cover for excellent lighting most of the time.

I really enjoyed shooting the Olympus E-M1 II with the Panasonic 42.5/1.2; the combination is just awesome for walk-around handheld shooting—I give the combo my highest recommendation. See my M4/3 wish list.

Examples chosen to show off sharpness, color rendition, flare control, and Olympus E-M1 Mark II image stabilization.

Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron Examples: Las Vegas Strip (E-M1 II)

Images are shown at up to full resolution 5184 X 3888 = 20.1 megapixels. Viewing on an iMac 5K is just stunning and just about perfect since the width almost fits in its entirety (5120 display resolution, across).

The Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 is a gem that the M4/3 shooter should consider a must-have. At about $1397 (time of writing) it is expensive for an M4/3 lens but worth it—it looks to be the best lens available for Micro Four Thirds.

There is also something very special going on with the about $1999 Olympus E-M1 Mark II: although “only” 20 megapixels, the total detail ranks right up there or exceeds anything I’ve seen from far more expensive cameras with more megapixels (think Leica M or Leica SL). The FAR higher hit rate and total sharpness are unapologetically superior to most of what I’ve ever gotten out of Leica. Small sensor camera with a superb lens punches way beyond its alleged class. Kudos to Olympus.

 
__METADATA__

James M writes:

I have been stunned by the sharpness I am getting from the Oly EM1-II. Thanks for explaining the math behind it.

DIGLLOYD: indeed, the E-M1 offers sharpness that surely validates the Micro Four Thirds format. It is just brilliant with the Panasonic 42.5/1.2 Nocticron.

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

Reader Question: Sensor Pixel Density, Oversampling

See my Sony wish list and Sigma mirrorless wishlist and tripods and mounting wishlist.

David K writes:

I have a question that has been bothering me for some time about the physical size of the individual pixels per sense-size in cameras—

Is there an optimum density MP size, in relation to the sensor size?
(12 or 50 MP for FF? 40 or 100MP for MF?)
(Considering the present day Bayer matrix type sensor.)

For example, one factor could be the decrease in sharpness because of increase motion sensitivity from having smaller and smaller sized individual pixels on highly dense MP sensors.
^ I don't know if this is a true statement. (It's why I'm asking this question.)

(Leaving aside the 'blow-up' printing factor and it's need more MP the larger the print.)

Carried to the absurd, will we all have to carry 'granite-tripods' in order to get a sharp photo (because the pixels are too small and densely packed!). Obviously everything is relative, especially in this question but please enlighten us from your practical hiking photo experience.

 
Bayer matrix pixel arrangement

DIGLLOYD: in general, 36/42/50 megapixels is optimal on full frame as of today. But only because of the current approach and current technical limitations—more on that below under the Oversampling discussion.

See how the 50MP Canon 5Ds R can beat the 24MP Leica M Monochrom. Accordingly, I claim that any 36/42/50-megapixel camera when downsampled to 24 megapixels can trounce any 24MP camera on a per-pixel basis, the only exception being extremely high ISO.

Any kind of movement during exposure causes blur. Let’s just use specific numbers to make that clear: assume ~5 micron pixels as in the Nikon D810. Then assume camera movement of 2.5 microns (tiny!)—that’s a large amount of blur equivalent to half a pixel. But if the pixels are 2.5 microns, then that 2.5 micron movement is an entire pixel, so yes indeed smaller pixels do matter in terms of the care needed to forestall camera movement. Camera phones are particularly at risk, but image stabilization compensates enough to make shooting feasible on all cameras that offer it.

The Sony A7R had that much and more blur from shutter vibration, causing a severe loss of image quality at certain shutter speeds and/or with longer lenses (since the lens moves too, not just the sensor).

No, we don’t need “granite tripods” and the proof of that is any Sony RX100 model or Micro Four Thirds camera of 16 or 20 megapixels—very high pixel densities and these cameras can make sharp pictures. But they do have an electronic first curtain shutter (EFC shutter), which means no shutter vibration, as well as image stabilization. On a tripod with an EFC shutter, there is zero camera-generated vibration (at least until and unless the curtain closes), so the main risk is vibration from wind, a passing train or truck, footsteps on a wooden floor, etc—all such things can cause micro vibrations that can affect sharpness.

BUT all that said, remember that for any given camera, if the sensor could be swapped out, the same projected image would be seen by the sensor; it’s just a matter of sampling frequency (equating to megapixels for any given sensor size).

On the flip side, larger and heavier cameras generally reduce high frequency movement, a fact easily seen with binoculars if nothing else. Handholding technique with mass-coupling is critical to sharp images at lower shutter speeds regardless of camera, which is one reason camera phones suck (arm’s length shooting, lots of movement).

Oversampling

Oversampling means capturing an image at a much higher resolution than needed for the end result. Oversampling offers terrific promise in obtaining a result free of digital artifacts and with higher per-pixel quality.

One of many proofs of this that I have shown is how the 50MP Canon 5Ds R can beat the 24MP Leica M Monochrom. Accordingly, I maintain that extremely high quality 72-megapixel images would come from a 144-megapixel DSLR.

Thus, more resolution is not really the goal; higher per-pixel image quality has become more important in my view. The main limit on image quality today stems from limitations of the Bayer matrix demosaicing process: color and spatial moiré, jagged staircase edges, spurious resolution and false color, and a general inability to resolve color and textural detail anything close to what sensor resolution would suggest.

The Sigma sd and dp cameras offer self-evident proof of just how much quality is lost when using a Bayer matrix sensor (that is, by NOT using a Bayer sensor). If Bayer is to be used, oversampling is a mitigating solution. For example, a sensor of 144-megapixel outputting 72 or 36 megapixel raw images. Higher resolution (oversampling) used not for more resolution, but for much higher per-pixel quality.

The Nyquist-Shannon theorem says that the sample rate must be double the desired resolution. That is, if we want detail at 200 lines per millimeter, sampling must be done at 400 lines per millimeter (200 lp/mm). This is the idea behind oversampling. Add on the fact that a Bayer matrix camera samples red and blue in only 1/4 of the pixels and green in 1/2 of the pixels, and a lot more than 2X sampling is needed for accurate image capture with color images. The Pentax K1 solves the color sampling problem neatly with its Super HiRes pixel shift mode, but the Nyquist-Shannon theorem still applies to spatial resolution.

Oversampling is not a panacea: as pixels grow smaller, the balance of resolution, color discrimination, dynamic range and noise all change, with those latter items degrading as the pixels grow smaller. Sensor tech keeps improving however. Moreover, special pixel shift modes offer major gains in quality that ought to make even 72 megapixel images of extremely high quality without using oversampling (Pentax K1, Olympus pixel shift, as per above). Consider that with pixel shift technology, a 144MP sensor could approach the quality of a 36 MP sensor on a per-pixel basis (4X the pixels, but 4X the exposure). Maybe not right now, but within a few years. While pixel shift requires a still subject, there are many good use cases for it.

Accordingly my quick answer on the “how many megapixels” question is that the Sony RX100 V pixel quality is very high at ISO 100 and the pixel density of its sensor would work out to 144 megapixels on a full frame sensor. Thus the Sony RX100 V is proof that a 144-megapixel full-frame DSLR is a very reasonable answer, and 200 megapixels is not unrealistic. The problem: Sony has never offered a 35mm full-frame sensor with more than 42 megapixels. There are manufacturing challenges in scaling up a sensor, and clearly that goal will be elusive for a while.

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Too-High Pixel Density on 5K and 8K Displays Impedes Image Assessment

See my Mac wish list.

See also Which Display for Image Editing and Viewing?.

In my my mention of the LG 5K display, I wrote that “the pixel density is way too high for that type of detail work”, which generated at least two reader emails, below.

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook pro

But first, the flip side: being able to see 14.2 megapixels (5K) or 33.2 megapixels (8K) is a huge boon in image assessment—overall assessment. But high pixel density is not good for assessing fine detail, and that’s a problem for anyone shooting a burst of frames (focus may be subtly better on one frame of several), comparing lens performance, determining whether an f/9 or f/11 shot is better (competing interests of DoF vs diffraction dulling), assessing how much to sharpen, etc.

Preface

What I did not make clear in that statement is the conditions under which it is true, and it could be false for someone 25 or 30 or 35 years old with perfect 20/20 vision. I have no way of knowing that directly. By “true” I mean that by direct experience, I know what works and what does not work for me, that is, what leads to errors in evaluation and what does not.

I’m not young any more—my sixth decade, which means that presbyopia has become an annoying issue (one reason that lack of an EVF option is going to drive me away from DSLRs entirely within a few years).

My eyes need +10 diopters correction, so eyeglasses are marginal solution (introducing chromatic errors of their own and other issues). I wear contact lenses and when my eyes are not tired or irritated correction is excellent at 20/20, with a slight astigmatism, which is why I focus cameras left-eye only. I also have limitations on close-focus range with contact lenses. So I CANNOT peer a little closer at a computer display.

My sense is that many of my readers are not spring chickens either, and may have similar or worse vision limitations. That said, I am not claiming “proof” of anything here as a general principle, only that Retina displays of 220 dpi or more make it extremely difficult for me to evaluate images for critical sharpness.

The bottom line here is “try it yourself”. I think most users are fooling themselves about image sharpness if all they do is view at 100% pixels on an iMac 5K (or LG 5K or Retina display). Those “sharp” images often are not quite sharp.

Stefan D writes:

"Pixel density way too high" for assessing sharpness? Could you please elaborate on this in your article a little bit more. I would think more density = easier to assess sharpness. Thank You!

DIGLLOYD: an iMac 5K (or LG 5K) has pixel density of about 220 dpi = ~4.3 line pairs/mm. Without peering closely at the display, the pixels disappear. If the eye cannot resolve these pixels, how can one be sure of sharpness differences? Many an image that is not quite sharp still looks great at 220 dpi, and yet the same image at 101 DPI on my NEC PA302W is obviously less than fully sharp. I’ve seen that over and over, so I’m on my guard if an image looks sharp on my MacBook Pro Retina and I cannot tell f/2 from f/5.6 without going to 200%.

Consider a 6 X 4" print from a slightly blurred image that looks really sharp at that size (because it is 300 or even 600 dpi), but when printed at 13 X 19" it is obviously less than fully sharp.

How can I tell if my image is fully sharp, or sharper than another similar frame?

At pixel densities over 200 dpi, it becomes difficult to reliably distinguish critically sharp from almost sharp.

Digital displays were nominally 72 DPI (dots per inch) to start with, more or less. As larger screens emerged, the dpi rose to as high as 110 DPI or so. With the advent of Retina and HiDPI display, DPI becomes very high.

It is far easier to assess image sharpness at 101 dpi than at 220 dpi (320 dpi makes it impossible). Zooming to 200% is a possibility, but problematic for reasons discussed further below. Note that I am not talking about thin clean lines from vector graphics, but complex image details.

My closest comfortable focusing distance under relatively dim indoor lighting is 18 inches. That means I should be able to resolve at best about 3.5 lp/mm (a rough estimate based on Norman Koren’s analysis), assuming my eyes are working perfectly (often not the case!). So right off the bat, most human eyes cannot resolve the 4.3 lp/mm of the iMac 5K display without peering closely, say 12" away—which is absurdly close for a 27" display (not really usable) and a serious ergonomic problem to boot. And of course there are all sorts of human perceptual issues involved that make it much more complex than that, and I’m not evaluating black and white line pairs here, but real images with complex detail and color.

For my work, I have to evaluate sharpness correctly all the time for my readers, so a Retina or HiDPI display is problematic. It is one of several reasons that I evaluate images on the NEC PA302W (2560 X 1600, 30" display = 101 dpi), and while I am reluctant to do lens assessments while in the field with my MacBook Pro Retina. It’s hard enough to compare/shoot lenses fairly while also having pixel density hide subtle differences.

There are other reasons too: when doing fine detail work, assessing the amount of sharpening to apply, etc, the high pixel density makes it difficult to assess any nuances. This forces working at 200%, where each image pixel is now a 2 X 2 block of screen pixels, and this raises yet more issues, more on that below.

Ed A writes:

I was interested to read your review of the LG 5k monitor and the hint about the upcoming 8k from Dell.
I've been using HiDPI displays for several years now, starting with the old IBM T221 and now with Dell 5k screens.

But I was surprised that you said the higher resolution display was not recommended for evaluating image sharpness.
Why not? Surely if you need to view individual pixels you can just view the image at 200% magnification and effectively have about 100 chunky pixels to the inch. Or even 400% magnification, where each pixel on the image becomes a block of sixteen on screen. Then you can check the raw image sharpness without having to squint.

However, I can guess one possible reason. Often when viewing an image at 200% magnification it is scaled up with some kind of 'smart' resizing which, rather than simply mapping one pixel to a block of four, applies some kind of blurring. When looking at a whole photograph this does give a more pleasing result than pixel-doubling. But it is infuriating for pixel-level work like you mentioned. A similar defect applies to monitors themselves: typically a 4k monitor run at plain old HD resolution won't just display blocks of four, but will blur the image too. Great for video games, not so great for still images and text.

Back in simpler times, image viewing software would just scale up naively to a block of pixels, and monitors would too (the T221 does it right). It is frustrating that things have gotten worse, at least for some software.

Does your favourite viewer or application for pixel-level work allow you to zoom in to 2x, 3x, or 4x scaling and cleanly distinguish the individual pixels? If not, then really the fault is with the software rather than the HiDPI monitor. On the other hand, if the software can do it right, surely a 27 inch 5k display is very nearly as good as your preferred 32 inch PA302W?

DIGLLOYD: it was no review, just a mention from the show.

I use Adobe Photoshop CC 2017. Using 200% is problematic for my purposes and 300% or 400% serves no useful purpose at any DPI, particularly given the false detail present from Bayer matrix demosaicing. Even 200% is problematic that way.

Hugely enlarging an image is looking at twigs on trees, not the forest. I am not a “pixel peeper”, and I consider it a pejorative. So the last thing I want to do is use 200%. For a good example of the wanton foolishness of MTF charts or other pixel peeper favorites vs real world behavior, see Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art: Two Aspen.

  • Perception matters, acutance in particular. A blurry image at 200% loses acutance, and acutance is a key feature of the very best lenses. So 200% actually makes it worse for comparing to another lens, or another frame, by degrading both and thus reducing the apparent differences.
  • Sharpness is not about some pinpoint spot; I need to see sufficient context for proper evaluation. It is a mistake in methodology to zero in on a small area for checking sharpness. Zooming to 200% shows an area 1/4 as large as at 100%, reducing the context greatly while showing a blown-up version lacking the original acutance.
  • At 200%, one image pixel becomes a 2X2 block of screen pixels. Acutance is lost; the image looks soft and blurry. It is visually annoying and frustrating to work that way (and time wasting to zoom in/out constantly). I do this in the field when I must, but it is tedious. Scaling always has do something: harsh edges with no smoothing, or some kind of smoothing. The best solution if one is going to scale is to resample and sharpen with algorithms that one has determined to work well for assessing sharpness differences—but there is no option to force the GPU to do that. So... maybe a solution is possible that has fewer negatives.
  • GPUs often scale pixels in undesirable ways that do not preserve acutance and/or smooth things, etc. See Photoshop and GPU: Blurry Image Scaling Damages Image Assessment Workflow, which shows that simply changing a setting can affect image display dramatically, but the behavior can change as the image size changes! This might not be a problem for 200%, but it shows that scaling problems do exist.
  • “cleanly distinguish the individual pixels” is a mistaken idea. Any interpolation will introduce its own problems, which is seen directly by using various resampling algorithms, all producing different results. Once the original image is resampled (200% or whatever), it not the original any more.

Similar issues apply for workflow, such as how much to sharpen. This generally sorts itself out; a skilled operator can make tweaks to an established scaling and sharpening regimen known to be ideal for a particular printer, image size, etc. But in general, a too-fine pixel density hides errors, such as excessive sharpening.

Thunderbolt 3 Dock
Must-have expansion for 2016 MacBook Pro
Thunderbolt 3 • USB 3 • Gigabit Ethernet • 4K Support • Firewire 800 • Sound Ports

Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus E-M1 Mark II

See my micro four thirds wish list.

 
Panasonic GH5, top view

At CES, I was walking around with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II. While I ended up using my iPhone 7 Plus for most pictures, I was still glad I had the E-M1 II along because I was able to compare it directly to the new about $1998 Panasonic GH5 in the Panasonic booth.

  • The E-M1 II is substantially smaller and just feels more solidly built like a pro camera; the Panasonic looks and feels 'plastic' and like a consumer camera. Not that it feels flimsy, but it just does not feel pro grade in the hand. Given its stunningly advanced video capabilities, that’s a shame, but perhaps that is quickly forgotten once its video capabilities are put to use.
  • Within a few minutes, the GH5 grip made my hand ache because the grip forces my fingers to crimp/pinch; the E-M1 II does not; it feels great. The E-M1 II grip is far superior for my largish hands. The Panasonic GH5 grip is an unpleasant 'fail' for me—what a pity given its otherwise fine feature set. If I buy one, I will have to gaffer tape on some closed cell foam to extend the grip.
  • The GH5 EVF has a 3.8 megapixel EVF that is obviously superior to the EVF of the E-M1 II. The GH5 EVF looks super crisp yet smooth—very nice, much nicer than Olympus (or Sony or Fujifilm) and on par with the Leica SL. Accordingly, a 3.8MP OLED EVF is now something I now see as mandatory for any new Sony or Nikon or Canon or other mirrorless—and yet the as yet unobtainable Hasselblad X1D ($13K with lens) has a far inferior EVF. Go figure.
  • The GH5 has unbeatable video modes (or will by mid-summer), including 4K 30p 10-bit 4-2-2 direct to card.
  • The GH5 now has 5-axis image stabilization that looks to be competitive with the E-M1 II.
  • Focus with the GH5 was instantaneous, similar to the Olympus E-M1 II
  • In stark contrast to the user interface fiasco of the E-M1 II (until reprogrammed)—I picked up the GH5 and was finding and using the critical still-image features I need more or less instantly. Kudos to Panasonic vs Olympus. Partly this is due to Panasonic dedicating buttons such as ISO where they ought to be, and not programming a crapload of junk into everything like Olympus does, and avoiding the menu insanity of Olympus.

So once again, each vendor nails some things, and goofs on others. I want to see these cameras mated into the best of both, but alas that is not in the cards, even at CES in Las Vegas. I wonder how the 10-bit 4-2-2 video shot on the GH5 would look on the Panasonic 4K OLED TV?

  • 20.3MP Digital Live MOS Sensor, Venus Engine Image Processor
  • 4K Video with No Crop [diglloyd: 6K sensor downsampled to 4K for lower noise, reduced moiré, superior resolution]
  • Internal 4:2:2 10-Bit 4K Video at 24/30p [diglloyd: direct to card, no need for external recorder, though external recorder needed for 60p]
  • 5-Axis Sensor Stabilization; Dual I.S. 2
  • 0.76x 3.68m-Dot OLED Viewfinder
  • 3.2" 1.62m-Dot Free-Angle Touchscreen
  • Advanced DFD AF System; 6K & 4K PHOTO
  • ISO 25600 and 12 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Dual UHS-II SD Slots; Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
 
Panasonic GH5, top view
 
Olympus E-M1 II, top view
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Reader Comment: Sony Shutter Warning an “absurd behavior for a camera that bills itself as a professional camera”

See my Sony wish list.

My review of the Sony A7R II discusses configuration in depth for Sony A7S II, A7 II and A7R II and predecessors:

Jonathan L writes:

I’ve just picked up a Sony A7R II.

After an hour on chat with Sony, it appears that the camera shake warning indicator - which flashes on and off in the viewfinder when shutter speeds are selected by the camera and fall below 1/30th - cannot be turned off.

Is is absurd behavior for a camera that bills itself as a professional camera.

DIGLLOYD: that is correct (“cannot be turned off”).

This behavior has been a thorn in my side forever—there I am working on a tripod, and that distracting blinking shutter speed warning won’t go away and cannot be disabled—even when I have image stabilization off and I am in manual exposure mode! I also have another (non flashing) icon show up when the shutter speed warning is flashing: a sort semicircle with rays as if it were some kind of white balance warning. I don’t know what it is, but it disappears when the shutter is half-pressed.

I can’t imagine any serious photographer paying attention to such things: when I am composing my image I tune out all that stuff; I already know that I will be shooting in terms of exposure and so on. Am I supposed to stop composing and focus my attention on some blinking icon? No one intent on capturing a moment can afford to lose focus like that.

Behaviors of this kind are even worse with the Olympus E-M1 Mark II until problematic behaviors are programmed out, and no better once programmed-out.

Cameras are for making images, and camera companies ought to figure that out already. The idea that a consumer is informed enough to pay attention to such a warning is ludicrous—and all of the A7 series qualify for professional use. Plus, anyone who understands shutter speed does not need the warning! So why are things like this designed in when 1000 times more image are made with iPhone? I could live with an “idiot mode” if a setting could disable it, but all that does is add more clutter to a professional camera. The rights solution is to restruct that warning to P (program) mode and leave it at that (though IMO, P mode does not belong on any pro camera). Anything else demonstrates a conceptual failure in design.

Even my Nikon D810 has a problem of this general kind: exposure comp overlays the image in Live View mode, and it cannot be banished without also losing the exposure preview facility—this interferes with my ability to frame and compose.

To Sony’s credit, a Sony Pro services mini-booth was right there at CES for any Sony Pro customer with an issue.

“Little” things like this are really not little at all, but show a poor understanding of customer usage, are thus a product quality issue. Because a product is hardware and software/behavior. There are plenty of other problems like this with Sony (and other brands), but I’ll give the Olympus E-M1 Mark II the blue ribbon for worst user interface design ever for a pro camera, at least until de/reprogrammed into something usable (but still with plenty of issues).

Such things can be fixed in firmware, but potential is not the actual and never can be if a company lacks solid mechanisms for translating customer feedback into changes that move the product forward.. The lossless raw mode firmware update shows that Sony can sometimes hear customer feedback. But little things like that blinking warning? These seem to be ignored.

There is ample room for improving the firmware in the Sony A7 series, including game-changing features like pixel shift on Sony. As a sort of test balloon, I tried the pixel shift idea out on two Sony employees: one had never heard of pixel shift, the other had heard of it, but had no idea why Sony does not implement it. Neither had any specific insight into why Sony does not do it.

As I pointed out to a high level Sony representative at CES, Fujifilm is aggressive in responding to user input with regular firmware updates. In regards to the customer-engineer feedback loop, Sony and other vendors seem to have their engineers living in a Faraday cage somewhere in a cave. My experience has been that US employees of Japanese companies are just as mystified as customers are as to why things are done or not done over in Japan. Surely a company that takes the customer as the highest priority could over time change company culture to become the dominant digital camera player.

Peter H writes:

I'm not sure how my overall A7rII's settings differ to yours, but I do not get the shake warning in either Manual or Shutter Priority mode (only in Aperture Priority or Programme modes when the speed equals, or is less than, the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens being used). Having image stabilization on or off makes no difference.

Anyway, I have the custom button 'C2' set to 'Aperture Preview' which gets rid of the flashing warning in Aperture Priority mode (my usual mode), and gives you a clean, distraction free viewfinder.

DIGLLOYD: this distracting shake warning icon flashes at lower shutter speeds, so the reciprocal speed statement is not relevant. Of course it ought not to flash at “acceptable” shutter speeds.

C2 = Aperture Preview: aside from the fact that losing my C2 button to behavior I do not want and losing the behavior I do want is a non-starter, I tested this suggestion using aperture priority mode and found it 100% useless: nothing happens when pressing the C2 button. And the flashing shutter speed warning persists regardless (aperture priority, Zeiss Batis 18/.8). Program it as you like, then point the lens somewhere dark (or just partially cover it with a hand), and that warning starts flashing.

BTW: focusing stopped down is a source of significant error and must be avoided for careful work as I learned the hard way doing some focus stacking one day: the A7R II focuses with the lens stopped down (set to f/8, it focuses at f/8). The C2 button had no effect on toggling this behavior and I’m not aware of any setting that fixes this serious algorithmic bug.

LG 5K Display for 2016 MacBook Pro

See my Mac wish list.

I am back from CES; I could only allot one day for seeing the exhibits (I had other reasons to go the day prior).

Yes, you want one. It looks fantastic in person, shot below from CES. But at present it works only on the 2016 MacBook Pro, via a Thunderbolt 3 cable, as shown below. OTOH, for about $1700 you can get a 5K display from Apple with a free computer.

I am NOT recommending it for work where evaluating image sharpness or very fine tweaks is needed—that’s why I still use the NEC PA302W for my image evaluation—the pixel density is way too high for that type of detail work. But like the iMac 5K viewing experience, the LG 5K is aweseome for viewing images, with its 14.7 megapixel display.

I did not chance upon the Dell 8K 32-inch display which was announced at CES, but the since the panel exists, it seems ideal for an iMac 8K which could use a custom graphics solution to push those 32 megapixels. An 8K display requires the bandwidth of four 4K displays and isn’t going to fly with any Mac (yet).

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook pro
__METADATA__
Canon Best of Breed Lenses
$2799 SAVE $200 = 6.0% Canon 11-24mm f/4 EF L USM in Lenses: DSLR
$1699 SAVE $100 = 5.0% Canon 35mm f/1.4 EF L II USM in Lenses: DSLR

4K Television Developments at CES

LG is the only company making OLED panels for 4K televisions as far as I know—so both Sony and Panasonic presumably are using LG panels. But a good TV involves a ton of signal processing to deliver the best picture.

All of these vendors “cheat” on these high-end TVs by showing footage that ranges from BluRay HD to what looked like uncompressed video to me. Nothing streamed on Netflix is going to ever look that good, and that matters, because signal processing to deal with noise and digital compression artifacts can have a large influence on image quality.

  • I checked out the latest Samsung TV (“WLED”) in their cavernous booth, and while the color is gorgeous, I can see a gridlike pattern even at 2-3 feet from the panels. Samsung did not want to talk about it. I would NOT be buying a Samsung TV given what I saw. That said, the 98" 8K demo TV was playing some footage from something shot with very high end lenses, and at my viewing distance of about 5 feet, it looked incredible, far beyond the detail that 4K delivers, and at that huge 98" size.
  • Sony had some footage on their new 77" OLED TV, price and availability unspecified but likely very pricey and probably not until the end of the year (65" a lot less costly, but also TBD on when). The looped over-saturated video footage was eyeball-roasting to behold (terms of reality, but an extreme that consumers presumably like). BWhat impressed me most were reds that I can’t have see on my NEC PA302W or iMac 5K, both of which have a very wide gamut into the reds. Something is going on—I’d say it was Rec2020 but maybe (doubtful) it was only DCI-P3, which I doubt can deliver the incredibly “hot” reds I saw. The glowing ball of melted glass was very impressive, with gorgeous tonal gradation from white hot to glowing deep orange/red. Yowee!!! A really unique feature is SOUND from the display itself—propogating through whatever the TV sits on—no conventionl speakers, very cool.
  • Panasonic hardly wanted to show TV at all. The cute Panasonic rep was almost as interesting as the TV...anyway, the 65" OLED Panasonic TV comes with an explicit “might not be brought to USA”. However, I judged its picture to be the most realistic looking and color accurate, with deep rich blacks and pro-grade color rendition (sample loop from a BluRay HD played by the DMP-UB900 Panasonic player). The Panasonic displayed the image that I would most want to watch, over the Sony and Samsung and LG offerings. But that’s a risky statement given the totally different footage. Still, it might not be wrong.
  • LG had a massive booth with an incredible “cave”/tunnel with 216 4K panels doing a sort of astrophotography show. Slick. The LG OLED TVs had terrific color and blacks. There was a darkened area to show off aquarium fish swimming against a truly pure black background. BUT many of the LG 4K OLED TVs had strangely unsharp imagery that made me think it was little better than high quality upsampled HD—not too exciting. Odd... just not good source material presumably. The new W line is insanely thin (3mm or less I think), and LG had those TVs mounted on rotating glass panels, the downside being a separate module for the electronics and sound. At $20K to $25K (estimated) for the 77" model (my preferred size), I won’t be enjoying movies on one any time soon. But the 65" models with conventional stands have the same panel quality, I was told—just not as fancy in build. I’m not a fan of super-thin, but such panels clearly have benefits in some install scenarios.
 
Panasonic 65" 4K television (might or might not be available in USA)

Nikon’s New Flagship Binocular

See my binocular wish list.

Back in 2010 I evaluated various binoculars and recently I posted reader Roy P’s take on more than two dozens binoculars.

Today at CES I stumbled across an unexpected find: a yet to be announced new binocular at the Nikon booth (official announcement is a few months away).

There is not yet a name, price or specs, but these new binoculars are intended to tie into Nikon’s 100th year anniversary by showcasing the very best that Nikon has to offer. And indeed they do—I was able to peer into the darkest recesses of the ceiling area of the cavernous CES hall without any problem at all, with subtle nuances of violet light from the floor below “painted” onto metal ducts and such that were so crisp that I could almost feel the texture. The imaging quality is the best I’ve ever seen, completely free of any color errors, crisp and bright and contrasty and sharp right to the edges (totally flat field). As a very nice bonus, the field of view is exceptionally wide. Compared to Nikon’s newest flagship “HG” 8X42 binocular, these new primo binocs clearly set a very high standard that few binoculars will be able to approach, less match.

There will be two models: 7X50 and 10X50. Nikon only had the 7X50 model on display but I was privileged to have the 10X50 model brought out of the back room in its packing case for direct comparison. The binoculars ship with their own tripod mounting bracket.

These are not binocs you’ll be wanting to lug around; they certainly are not less than 3 pounds, but I’d guess more like 5 pounds. This mass actually makes the 10X model stable enough to be quite useful handheld.

As seen in the picture below, the eyepieces click out by 4 or 5 clicks, thus allowing the eyes to be positioned at varying distance from the rear optics—excellent for eyeglass wearers (Roy P, I think this what you had hoped to see when we discussed this). Every binocular ought to have this most excellent feature. Each eyepiece is adjusted separately (a necessity for me), and so they are not suitable for fast back and forth focusing. They are good for focusing and observing. The Nikon rep was unsure if they were porro-prism based or roof prisms or some hybrid design. But clearly the goal was very high performance.

If I were a hunter "glassing" an area for game, these binocs would be at the top of my list.

Pricing is to be announced, but will reflect the super high end: I can’t see the selling for less than $5K, and I’m guessing something around $7K (while Nikon would not state the price, these are my estimated which were not rejected as being far off the mark).

 
Nikon 7x50 super high end binocular (unannounced)
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 Aperture Series: Garage In Blue Light + Silhouetted Trees + More (A7R II)

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY and that the Speedmaster 50/0.95 is $150 off.

See my previous comments on the about $699 Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95.

These two follow up on the initial dolls series and explore the performance of the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 at medium range and distance, including an intense backlighting scene to gauge flare control.

Images in sizes up to 28 megapixels, with large crops, all from f/0.95 to f/8.

Planned for review in February (subject to availability) is the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II. Given the performance of the Mitakon 50/0.95 for 1/15 the price of the Leica Noctilux, I am wondering what the about $2999 Meyer-Optik 50/0.95 can do, particularly with its unprecedented 15-blade aperture.

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Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY.

Reviewed: Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 for Sony Mirrorless

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY and that the Speedmaster 50/0.95 is $150 off.

I obtained the about $699 Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 on a lark—prepared to be disappointed. It was not so. This lens represents serious value with a build quality greatly exceeding my expectations.

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

Native-mount versions exist for many brands of mirrorless cameras and also DSLR cameras. Fast sibling lenses include the $799 Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 85mm f/1.2 and the about $499 Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 35mm f/0.95 Mark II.

  • Sony E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/0.95 to f/16
  • Four Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
  • One Ultra High Refraction Element
  • Stepless, Silent Aperture Control
  • Manual Focus Design
  • Depth of Field and Distance Scales
  • Nine-Blade Aperture
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.6"

No EXIF info is communicated to the camera.

Mounting the Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 on the Sony A7R II, I could have sworn it was a Leica Noctilux for Sony. While I cannot speak to the quality or longevity of the internal construction (I did not disassemble the lens!), the heft and feel remind me of the Noctilux. It looks and feels like a very well built-lens. The value proposition is exceptional; the $699 price is 1/15 the price of the Leica Noctilux, it offers the same lens speed, it mounts natively on Sony and it delivers very respectable optical performance.

First up are an overview and close-range evaluation:

Overview of Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

Aperture Series: Japanese Dolls (A7R II)

Images in sizes up to 28 megapixels, with large crops, all from f/0.95 to f/8.

Planned for review in February (subject to availability) is the Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Nocturnus 50mm f/0.95 II. Given the performance of the Mitakon 50/0.95 for 1/15 the price of the Leica Noctilux, I am wondering what the about $2999 Meyer-Optik 50/0.95 can do, particularly with its unprecedented 15-blade aperture.

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Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY.

Flight of the Butterflies in 4K, at Netflix

Check out Flight of the Butterflies on Netflix in 4K (don’t cheat yourself on plain blurry HD!).

The macro photography is outstanding, and the time-lapse cutaway of the chrysalis left me scratching me head as in “OMG, how the heck did they do that?!”. I didn’t have time to finish, but I will after I return from CES.

It’s also interesting as well for the imaging quality (lens rendering).

OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Reader Comments: Photo Software for Photographers

Two ideas for photographers and photo software.

Roy P writes:

FYI, I just bought a license of ON1 Photo Raw (about $129 at B&H Photo), which could replace my LightRoom based workflow. They have a bit of a deal going on until tomorrow. If this works, I’ll likely bail out of the Lightroom bloatware. My LR catalog is 4+ GB in size, even after taking a lot of stuff off it, and it’s painfully slow.

I loved the elevator pitch on it:

First, it has no catalogs and imports, but just works off the computer’s folder system. So I can put things wherever I want, organize it however I want, etc., instead of getting the Adobe python to swallow every new import.

Second, they claim it uses the GPU in my Mac, and everything works much faster than LR. A senior technical guy at the company said it was fast enough that you could browse the images on your Mac with your iPad, do all your culling, grading, metadata management, etc. – not sure how it works, but just speed improvement on my Mac alone would be a huge benefit.

Third, it is a completely new generation, newly designed app, with no legacy issues, and feels very nimble, modern and intuitive.

Fourth, it seems to have all the typical functions you’d want for RAW conversion, image editing, file and database management, and output generation.

Fifth, it seems to have some new paradigms that are not in LR or clumsy to do in LR.

Sixth, it’s a software license model, not subscription, and they let you install the software on 2-3 machines (I thought I heard somebody said five, but I need to verify that). I hate that Adobe is forcing the CC model on its users.

That was enough to convince me to spend the $100 to try it out, before their special deal ended on Jan. 3. It’s relatively new software, and it could have some bugs or other idiosyncrasies, but this looks like a nimble company, and hopefully, problems will get resolved quickly.

DIGLLOYD: While Lightroom has features that are plus for some users (anyone who really needs metadata and/or anyone put off by the complexity of Photoshop, see next quote), for me at least it is a huge waste of time to have to import, and then not have direct layer support, which is critical for my work. So Ihave no use for Lightroom.

Reader James G points out:

The ON1 website has a direct online price of 99.99 for the Photo RAW app, which includes about $230 in bundled training and special effects in the 99.99 package, though good only through 1/3/2017.

Martin D writes:

Haven’t tried it. Might appeal to those who find Lightroom overwhelming?

https://macphun.com/luminar

DIGLLOYD: the “Lightroom overwhelming” issue is real; both it and Photoshop are intimidating to a first-time users, Photoshop particularly so.

Off Topic: the Year in Trout, 2016

For all my life I have liked trout fishing but did little of it for most of the past two decades (work, family, ebb in interest). But as I’ve aged (not as old and crusty as Dan M yet but it’s coming), I’ve found that life flows in circles, and back in my teens I grew expert at fishing. And 60 to 80 hour workweeks run me down after a few months, so I need a diversion or two.

Cycling was and remains an enjoyable and necessary diversion, including 25 double centuries in 4 years, one I still pursue just about every day. And it’s critical for my health what with sitting in front of a computer so many hours.

And so late in 2015 the old “fishing bug” returned—mainly because I discovered that the small alpine trout in creeks and streams I had fished for years were not the only quarry out there.

Late last year (2015) was... early, as in fishing season closed early, because of ice-over. But the high Sierra starts to thaw out by June, and it was in late June 2016 that “the bug” hit when I caught the first large trout (16 inches) of what was to be a haul of 25 or so large to very large “trophy trout” (16" to 23") caught over several trips—a nice diversion from photography, and about 50 pounds (cleaned and gutted) of fish eaten as my primary meal from August to November while in the Sierra.

I did not photograph all the trout I caught; what follows is a fraction of my catch in 2016 (starting out with late 2015). I release about 95% of the trout I catch—I now (as of 2016) only like to eat the salmon-like large ones because the flavor and texture is so much better, including significant fat versus the nearly pure protein-only flesh of small 'brookies'. I released 250 to 300 trout this year so as to grow larger, good for them and hopeful for me.

A hard day’s effort and a lot of patience in mostly ice-covered lakes yields two or three dinners for this trip. I hate taking such beautiful creatures, but such is the way of life, and I never over-use a resource. Moreoever these trout cannot reproduce naturally. A ranger at the park service told me the new policy is “catch and take” in many areas due to endangered frogs. Well... the frog population is very healthy in the areas I visit and a lake with no fish could have them is sad, IMO. Very few lakes in the Sierra are being poisoned to kill trout, but some are being designated as “never restock”, which I really dislike. I hope the trout keep their place. The largest trout here is an incredible trophy of about 16.5 inches (at least at super high altitude where caught), but it is relatively small compared to the 21" and 23" rainbow trout shown further below.

 
Golden Trout on Ice Before Gutting
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What pushed me “over the edge” is that large high Sierra trout have deep orange flesh and taste pretty much like Coho salmon. The Japanese yakitori sealed the deal, and I like “living off the land”—it resonates somehow.

This 16.5" 2.5 pound rainbow trout looked like salmon and tasted quite similar. It was fantastic. Smaller trout cook fine too, but are harder to grill without drying out or burning because they are so thin on the tail end and belly area. Here I cut this large rainbow trout into two large chunks. On one trip, my dinner was grilled trout for 9 of 14 days.

Cut the trout into pieces that fit the yakitori. There is not much meat left on the head, but why not grill it and eat what there is? The heart may be good, but I’m a little squeamish on that one, though heart of deer never bothered me.

 
Large Rainbow trout (chunked) before being grilled on FireSense Yakitori Japanese-style grill
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Below, a trophy golden trout of about 16.5 inches. See Pentax K1: Unrivalled Image Quality in SuperRes Pixel Shift Mode.

Golden Trout — Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita, about 16.5 inches — a trophy at this altitude
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Brook trout do not often grow this large in the high Sierra—no, don’t eat this beautiful 12" brook trout—it’s too beautiful and it’s a female and spawning season is about to start. Then again, the eggs are tasty if cooked in a dutch oven. Still, I returned it to the lake unharmed. So eat the big rainbow trout below instead and return mama Brook Trout to the water (but eat the smaller ones, since they overpopulate just about any lake or stream, being prolific reproductively).

 
Brook Trout caught by lure - Salvelinus fontinalis
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No, not this one either! WAY too beautiful. Well, unless there are reasons, which there were in this case. Silent thanks to the spirit of the trout before gutting it are good karma. This Golden is a stocker also, but with many years on its belly. It cannot reproduce in the waters it came from, and is near the end of its natural life, so I ate it.

 
Golden Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita
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Below, an orange-fleshed rainbow trout. And it was a 'stocker' some years before, cannot reproduce in the lake it was caught—it is for eating. I used to be put off by stockers, but the large ones with orange-colored flesh taste like wild salmon—fantastic.

Get yourself a Benchmade Osborne knife for gutting trout in the field. This model 940 has a beefier blade, easier for cutting through big fish heads. Model 943 with a finer and more evenly beveled blade is a bit better for gutting, but model 940 rocks for all-around use.

 
Large Rainbow trout 'Oncorhynchus mykiss' before gutting
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Some rainbow trout are stunningly beautiful. But this one below was/is really special. Compare to the drab rainbow trout above.

This 19-inch 3.5 pound beauty came out of Saddlebag Lake. See An Exceptionally Beautiful Rainbow Trout Unlike Any Other I’ve Seen.

 
Very Colorful Rainbow Trout from Saddlebag Lake, 19.0 inches long, 3.5 pounds
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This image below made with the ProCamera app in raw/DNG on the iPhone 6s Plus. I had much better luck in rendering as desired than the crappy Apple JPEG mode.

 
Closeup of very Colorful Rainbow Trout from Saddlebag Lake, 19.0 inches long, 3.5 pounds
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Below is an about 12-inch Brook Trout in full spawning colors, which I nickname “Jaws”. It hit my worm unexpectedly, probably trying to protect its redd. I returned it unharmed to the water and it sped off. BTW, worm fishing can be incredibly challenging notwithstanding the disdain of some fly fisherman.

 
Large Brook Trout in full spawning colors
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This trout is only about 10 to 11 inches long (very large for an alpine brookie), but deep-bodied with a big jaw. There were larger ones, perhaps up to 13 inches. I caught six such trout, releasing all of them carefully. They returned to their activities without any sign of distress, but did not favor my lure a 2nd time! It was incredible to witness, and I’m very glad no other fisherman hiked to this far side of the lake to destroy (catch and eat) these trout at their crucial spawning time. See Brook Trout in Spawning Colors.

 
Brook Trout 'Salvelinus fontinalis' in Spawning Colors
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See The Resident Bald Eagle Swoops and Grabs a Moribund Rainbow Trout at Saddlebag Lake.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus (bald eagle), successful fish-grab
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To catch a 20-inch trout that the net is barely big enough to handle is a “problem” I don’t dislike much.

20-inch 4.6 pounds Rainbow Trout (Onchorynchus Mykiss)
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See My Record Trout.

This hefty and nicely fat Onchorynchus Mykiss took a small crappie jig about 15 feet down, on a day when fishing was very slow. Caught with a G Loomis rod and Shimano Stella reel and Berkley Vanish 6 lb test.

21.2-inch 4.6 pounds Rainbow Trout (Onchorynchus Mykiss)
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Below, a 23-inch 5-pound trophy, and a 16+ inch trout, the smaller one sure to make any high Sierra fisherman very happy, the 23" one...ecstatic. I was thrilled with the 23-inch lunker; it was like a small salmon. I hooked what felt like an even bigger trout a few days later on closing day, one that stayed low and after playing expertly for 7-8 minutes the hook pulled out (probably torn out of soft tissue). See also Examples: Eastern Sierra (Nikon D810).

23-inch and 16-inch rainbow trout (Onchorynchus Mykiss)
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A hearty dinner, and tomorrow’s lunch as well—about 3 pounds of trout.

 
Large Rainbow trout (chunked) being grilled on FireSense Yakitori Japanese-style grill
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Not all trout are for eating, particularly endangered ones. They are for photographing; see 'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout, in Cottonwood Creek, White Mountains.

'Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris' aka Paiute Cutthroat Trout taking tiny bug
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See also:

Bought the 2015 MacBook Pro: Best Model for My Usage at a Big Savings

2015 Apple MacBook Pro Retina

See all my previous discussion on the 2016 MacBook Pro, which I returned, as did Jason O'Grady of Apple Insider.

My main issue with my rock-solid 2013 MacBook Pro has been simple: its 512GB SSD has been an increasing headache (only 180GB free space given other necessary stuff, a problem on my photography trips). So I’ve been wanting a MacBook Pro with a 1TB SSD for a while, but I didn’t want to pay full fare.

As well, ergonomics and performance and compatibility all matter to me—all a 'fail' with the 2016 MacBook Pro. The 2015 MacBook pro is the best one Apple ever made (for my needs) when those things are all taken into consideration—not the 2016 MacBook Pro.

Bonus wins:

And while the 2016 model has Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C, that brings adapter hassles and I really don’t need TB3 anyway, since I expect an iMac or Mac Pro to bring TB3 sometime soon in 2017—and when I am working at home I don’t use the laptop anyway. So TB3 doesn’t do anything for me on a laptop.

For a lot less money, I bit the bullet and ordered a 2015 MacBook Pro 2.8 GHz / 16GB / 1TB 2015 from OWC. Which is faster on what I do anyway! It is factory sealed Apple refurbished with a one year warrant and eligible for AppleCare, so just like a new one.

Sony Interchangeable-Lens Mirrorless
$1498 SAVE $200 = 11.0% Sony a7 II Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless
$2698 SAVE $300 = 10.0% Sony a7S II Mirrorless in Cameras: Mirrorless

Reader Roy P Compares 25 or So 2016-model Binoculars

Back in 2010 I evaluated various binoculars.

 
Swarovski 8x25 pocket binocular

Roy P was on a mission to find just the right binocular for himself, and tried 25 or so different models. I gave him some pointers, but he then did an exhaustive evaluation:

Reader Comments: Evaluating 25+ Binoculars in late 2016

Binoculars at B&H Photo:

Jon L writes:

Thank you for reviewing binoculars. It seems that you're concentrating on high-end non-stabilized optics.

I rely on binoculars for coastal navigation and life became much easier once I invested in a high magnification binocular (14x42 Nikon) with optical stabilisation. Sure, it's very heavy and eats batteries, but it allows for certain identification of navigational marks at a distance, something that was always a challenge with the unstabilized 7x50 marine model I used previously.

A marine binocular must be able to tolerate some sea-spray and I guess that the resulting salt cover will affect optical quality. In terms of usefulness, this has never caused me to reach for my on-shore binocular (a Minolta) because the jittery image feels useless.

My binoculars are aging, however (all pre-2009), and I have noticed that Canon has now issued a whole range of stabilized units. I would like to see some independent review of these binoculars. Anything you can recommend?

DIGLLOYD: Some of the binoculars can take screw-in filters on the front objectives. Marine binoculars should be able to handle salt spray. I have not reviewed any binoculars since 2010.

Please see my 2010 reviews: Canon 10X42L IS WP Image Stabilized and Canon 18X50 IS WP Image Stabilized. Both have $500 instant rebates as I write this.

 
Canon 18x50 IS Image Stabilized Binocular

 

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

Color Fringing in Blue Light: Gains From Correction with Canon 11-24mm f/4L (5DS R)

See my Canon wish list at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L including some very pretty Hoover Wilderness July snow images.

I just bought the about $2799 Canon 11-24mm f/4L, which is a lens I’ve been wanting for a year now, particularly for its 11mm to 14mm range, but also for its impressively low distortion.

Uncommon—indeed rare in my experience—is the presence of lateral chromatic aberration of the blue/yellow type, as is found in this example—usually blue halo effects are longitudinal chromatic aberration, which disappears quickly with stopping down. Not so with the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

Since I often shoot in the mountains at dusk where blue light dominates, this correction example is particularly relevant to my work.

This is a must-read article for the Canon 11-24mm f/4L shooter—and it has a “happy ending”—one that in over 10 years of working with lenses is easily the best argument I’ve yet seen for the benefits of correcting lateral chromatic aberration (excepting the obvious godawful red/cyan cases of lenses I’d never shoot).

Color Fringing in Blue Light: Remarkable Gains From Correction (5DS R)

Includes full-size images up to 28 megapixels along with large corrected/uncorrected crops.

 
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Jason W writes:

Fascinating finding, my congratulations.

I was debating with a co-worker as to whether aliasing and noise increased as a result of the correction.

He thought noise appeared to increase with the correction in transition zones at high contrast boundaries.

We both thought the aliasing was increased due to the resolution boost. Perhaps this is expected behavior?

DIGLLOYD: always fun to find something like this. I actually processed the images 3 or 4 times, thinking I had made some kind of mistake—but I had not. It is highly unusual.

Correcting the blur definitely creates more aliasing, because the blur acts as a sort of anti-aliasing filter. In this case the aliasing is minor, with f/9 acting as a mild anti-aliasing filter via diffraction. Noise might also be more visible perhaps because pixel smearing is reduced.

It is very hard to expose in blue light, the camera often indicating near blowout in blatant disregard of the actual exposure reality in raw. For the image above, RawDigger shows a full 2+ stops underexposed, below. I didn’t dare expose more, given that the blue icy wood was mostly blue. It is incredibly frustrating not to have a true raw histogram and thus be left guessing at full ETTR exposure. I have been baffled for years at this this incredible blind spot of camera designers—it must be a Russian plot or something.

 
RawDigger histogram showing 2-stop underexposure

Great Deal on 13" MacBook Pro, the non-TouchBar Model is Best

A few days ago I wrote about Which 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro? (or MacBook), where I argued in favor of the non-touchbar model.

My oldest daughter will need a laptop for college next year, and so we went to the Apple Store to look at the 12" MacBook versus the 13" MacBook Pro...

Many photographers have a similar requirement: not wanting to lug along a too-heavy laptop. The 13" MacBook Pro handles that nicely.

Taxes Reminder: Section 179 for Small Business Owner: Deduct if In-Service by End Of Year.

So here are two deals on an excellent configuration of the 13" model sans touchbar and with all the right trimmings: 16GB memory, 512GB SSD, 2.4 GHz CPU.

More options below, or view/find MacBook Pro deals.

ALSO worth a look is the deeply discounted top-spec 2015 MacBook Pro. The 2015 MacBook Pro (15" model) is actually faster on some things than the 2016 top-spec model.

 

B&H Photo Deal Zone Blowout

B&H Photo normally has from 3 to 5 deal zone items each day.

Through end of the year, there are 190 deal zone items, many with discounts of 40% to 60%.

Or, go to B&H Deal Zone landing page.

A few select items below. The Dracast Dracast LED500 Silver Series Bi-Color LED Light is nice, I have it and another model that I bought earlier this month.

See also my wishlists at B&H Photo and wishlists at OWC as well as the OWC Area 51 specials.

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

A Slew of Discounts on Apple Macs, iPads

See also Taxes Reminder: Section 179 for Small Business Owners (Accelerated Depreciation): Deduct if In-Service by End Of Year.

See also Which 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro? (or MacBook) as well as review of the 2016 MacBook Pro.

B&H Photo shows a whole bunch of year-end discounts on Apple Macs:

Apple MacBook 1.2 Ghz / 8GB / 512GB for $999

Curiously, the Apple Mac Pro is not discounted.

Even more curious, the 2016 MacBook Pro is already discounted by amounts that normally occur only 6 to 9 months into the product cycle.

Used can be a good route also; OWC / MacSales.com:

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

Taxes Reminder: Section 179 for Small Business Owners (Accelerated Depreciation): Deduct if In-Service by End Of Year

This is FYI ONLY. Consult your own tax adviser. See also Section 179.org.

Less than a week to act, see details I posted on Dec 22

Need help deciding/configuring? I am available with flexible hours through the end of the year for consulting on computer or photography.

For a small business owner, the US federal tax code contains a benefit: Section 179 of the internal revenue code.

In essence, you can write off (fully deduct) depreciable assets acquired and put into service in 2016 as expenses up to a limit of $500,000 (for federal tax purposes).

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

Merry XMAS or Whatever the Case May Be

An old image, from the bygone days of film.

May 2017 bring more digital wonders.

 
From the days of film
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: User Interface Problems, No Choice but to Disable the TouchScreen

See my Micro 4/3 wish list at B&H Photo.

See Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II First Look: Initial Comments.

I still cannot figure out how to activate AF separately from the shutter (I’ve read the manual and spent 90 minutes in the menus so far). I guess it cannot be done. Basically I want an AF-ON button as on Nikon or Canon or Sony cameras. UPDATE: thanks to readers... use Gear menu => A1 => AEL/AFL = Mode 3 with S-AF. See also page 123 of the E-M1 Mark II user manual.

I was feeling incredibly frustrated to the point of being infuriated with the E-M1 II.

For example, the camera was popping up controls while I was composing an image, or going into modal states where instead of aperture and/or exposure comp, it was ISO and white balance with no obvious way to make it stop. Very dangerously stupid design—suddenly I’m at ISO 25600 WTF for example. Pros had better be careful and deprogram all this dung lest a crucial shoot be destroyed. [I am left-eye dominant, so my face presses against the rear LCD]

I don’t have all the design idiocy of the E-M1 II figured out—some things still are confusing me with no obvious solution—but I’ve finally figured out what is going on in part: it’s the Evil Touchscreen!

That is, I’m composing/shooting using the EVF, but my nose or face are pressed partly against the the rear LCD as per ideal handheld technique. The problem is that the contact of my nose or face on the touchscreen activates whatever is touched on the rear LCD, even while using the EVF. It makes the camera annoying to unusable.

Surely this is a bug; if the EVF is in use, the touchscreen makes no sense at all. Whether a bug or simply by-design by morons, it leaves me no choice but to disable the touchscreen:
Gear menu => J1 => Touchscreen Settings = OFF

See the E-M1 II user manual.

I dislike camera touchscreens anyway: hands greasy with sunblock or water or grit/dirt from climbing on class 4 rocks, gloves, etc. I suppose a touchscreen has its uses at times, but not for me in the field and I can’t see those 4 pixel icons anyway, and my fingers are not small.

Another useful setting is:

There are other usability problems; an uncluttered shooting view even when not possible even when so-configured to be free of all detritus as per the setting above: at a minimum the camera overlays the focal length on the screen as soon as the shutter is pressed, near upper right ("25mm" or whatever). This is distracting every damn time I press the shutter. As if I don’t know which lens I have on the camera. Little things like that are a real stumbling block to liking the E-M1 II. I expect some adult design judgment in a pro-priced camera, not just a technology grab bag, impressive as that technology is. Still, like the sound of passing trains, I’d probably not notice it after a few hundred shots.

For these and other reasons, I give the E-M1 II the blur ribbon for worst menu and controls design EVER in a digital camera, that is, until reprogrammed—then it is merely unlovable from the perspective of elegant operation. The lack of a My Menu to compensate for the horrible 4-level-deep menu system (for certain controls) is atrocious given the massive menu system. It is sad to see this flagship camera marred by poor judgment in user interface design. It makes me want to pick up my Leica M240.

 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

 

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
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Fujifilm X Lenses with Big Discounts

See my wish lists for B&H Photo including my Fujifilm X wish list.

Update 26 December: all the deep discounts shown below went away, but click here to check current status.

...

This looks like a very good time to buy Fujifilm X lenses.

I use my own diglloyd Deal Finder tool to check prices on various brands every day.

The deals on Fujifilm XF lenses stand out with their 20% to 33% discounts.

Fujifilm must be feeling some kind of market pressure to offer such steep discounts. I’ve used/tested most of the Fujifilm X lineup, and my personal picks would be the 14/2.8, 16/1.4, 23/1.4, 35/1.4 and 56/1.2 APD.

Fujifilm XF lenses with steep discounts

Sigma sd Quattro H Now Available for Pre-Order

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

See my Dec 6 post discussing the Sigma sd Quattro H in detail and Sigma sd Quattro H Due in Mid January and in-depth reviews of the Sigma Art lenses and in-depth reviews of Sigma DP Merrill and Sigma dp Quattro cameras.

Sigma sd Quattro H

At about $1199, my prediction (based on using the APS-C-sensor Sigma sd Quattro) is that nothing for less than $2K is going to touch the detail produced by the Sigma sd Quattro-H. See what the Sigma sd Quattro can do with its APS-C sensor, or the dp Quattro cameras can do with an APS-C sensor.

Actually, the Sigma sd Quattro-H should approach (and perhaps exceed with certain subject matter) the resolution of the Nikon D810.

What a pity it cannot take Nikon F or Canon EF lenses directly instead of having to buy Sigma SA mount lenses—otherwise I’d just buy one outright—and I assume that many photographers might fall into that camp.

What I don’t know is whether Sigma will (a) use the APS-H sensor in a dp Quattro line (highly desirable but not very likely), or (b) whether Sigma will offer a Nikon-F mount or Canon EF mount version (highly unlikely).

All of the lenses below should be very fine performers on the Sigma sd Quattro-H, with most of the full-frame field curvature area cropped off on APS-H. Caution on pressing APS-C lenses into APS-H duty; these might “cover” the APS-H sensor (barely), but some will be good and some not so good.

Mark M writes:

If this body had a Sony E mount I would be all over it. Sigma already has an excellent Sigma to E adapter that could be packaged with or offered as a accessory for this body. The small and lightweight Loxias in particular would be ideal on this body, not to mention all the Zeiss CY and ZF.2s that I already have. I'm not going to duplicate a lens kit, and I'm not about to abandon Sony FE.

I am really surprised Sigma doesn't understand the advantage mirrorless offers users with its inherent flexibility of a very short lens register.

DIGLLOYD: I too would buy a Sony or Nikon mount sd Quattro-H outright if it were offered, and I think so would many other photographers once the resolving power were understood for its impressive merits.

What Sigma has failed to understand is that an sd Quattro-H in Sony and/or Nikon mount could be a first of several tactical offerings as part of a multi-year strategy to bust open the mirrorless and DSLR market by smashing the decades-old lens-mount quadrifurcation (is quintfurcation a word?). As it stands, there are too many hurdles working against the Sigma SA mount, starting with the fact that so many pros and prosumers do not want to buy yet one more set of lenses incompatible with other brands. Perhaps the reasoning is to sell Sigma SA mount lenses. But the Sigma Art lenses are strong, and I’d bet that Sigma would sell more Sigma Art lenses in Nikon and Canon and Sony mount if there were a sd Quattro-Hc, sd Quattro-Hn and sd-Quattro-Hs.

The Sony mount would be the best choice, because while I dislike adapters in general, it would allow Sony, Nikon, Canon and other lenses.

However, even if Sigma introduced a new SM mount ("Sigma Mirorrless") with short flange distance, that would at least allow allow Nikon and Canon and other DSLR lenses. The Sony E mount is almost certainly a patent problem, and so too the Nikon and Canon electronic coupling aspects of the mount, but not the Nikon F-mount itself, as I understand it.

 

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

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E: Three more Evaluations, Including a Dual Tilt Series + Conclusion

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

I’m concluding my review of the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E with three series and a conclusions page:

The series include images up to 28 megapixels with crops, from f/4 through f/11.

This dual series (two focus positions) in Frosty Wood Round: Tilt and Focus Shift is particularly instructive, and a must-read for anyone working with the Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E.

While I still think the 19/4E PC-E is a strong effort for Nikon, my enthusiasm for it has greatly diminished now that I see all its limitations. I suspect that to satisfy me, it would have to be a Zeiss Otus of a size about twice the size and costing about $6K.

__METADATA__
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LensRentals.com 25% OFF on all rentals arriving before 2017

LensRentals.com has 25% off with discount code HOLIDAYGEAR at checkout—all rentals arriving before 2017 are 25% off!

Separately, the LensRentals.com HD program will cost a bit more next year.

 
LensRentals.com 25% off
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Taxes: Section 179 for Small Business Owners (Accelerated Depreciation): Deduct if In-Service by End Of Year

This site is not a tax adviser, this is FYI ONLY. Consult your own tax adviser. See also Section 179.org.

For a small business owner, the US federal tax code contains a benefit: Section 179 of the internal revenue code.

In essence, you can write off (fully deduct) depreciable assets acquired and put into service in 2016 as expenses up to a limit of $500,000 (for federal tax purposes). Any small business that needs a new computer, office gear, camera, or any normally depreciable asset might consider making those purchases (and putting them into service) that gear by Dec 31, 2016.

2016 Deduction Limit = $500,000 — This deduction is good on new and used equipment, as well as off-the-shelf software. This limit is only good for 2016, and the equipment must be financed/purchased and put into service by the end of the day, 12/31/2016.

See my OWC / MacSales.com Wishlists and B&H Photo wishlists.

Suggested items at OWC
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II First Look: Initial Comments

See my Micro 4/3 wish list at B&H Photo.

Some quick comments on my initial experience with the about $1999 E-M1 Mark II below.

UPDATE: After much frustration, I finally figured out why the E-M1 II kept popping up the autofocus selection grid and doing other weird stuff: it’s the touchscreen!

That is, I’m looking through the EVF, but my nose or face are pressed partly against the the rear LCD as per ideal handheld technique, but this contact activates whatever is touched. This has to be a bug; if the EVF is in use, the touchscreen makes no sense. at all. This bug leaves me no choice but to disable to the touchscreen:
Gear menu => J1 = Touchscreen Settings

See the E-M1 II user manual.

 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: feature overload:
Is it a camera or computer?

 

  • With the insanely deep feature set, where is a true raw histogram, which for much of my shooting would be at the top of my “most wanted” features, because it would allow a maximal ETTR exposure without guesswork.
  • A nasty settings default of H1 => Filename => Reset which cost me a bunch of time due to having several batches of images all with the same damn names. I suppose someone wants duplicate filenames for some odd purpose, but having it be the default has a huge downside, making it a moronic choice.
  • The E-M1 II has to be the most complex camera I’ve ever used. After half an hour of diddling with the menus and button setup I was still left with a “land mine” camera that would do strange modal things when I pressed some button by accident, like change white balance when I wanted aperture. I was baffled by what was causing this for a few minutes and it does all sorts of weird things like this. Very frustrating with needless geek complexity for the core task of shooting images.
  • The rear LCD is crisp and beautiful, but the menu font size is so tiny I could only barely read it (eyestrain). And yet the camera idiotically won’t show menus in the EVF.
  • I still cannot figure out how to program the rear button for AF-ON, and have the shutter not activate AF. I am forced to focus, then disable AF.
  • I have yet to go read the 196 page user manual to understand the anti-shake and silent modes and how they all interact, particularly EFC shutter above/below 1/320 second (why does a user have to memorize and understand why 1/320 is special?!). And those tiny little heart symbols? At least I think that's what I’m seeing, but it’s about 1mm high so maybe it’s something else. Who thought that crap up?
  • There is no ISO button (insanity given the other less useful buttons), and while a button can be programmed for it, it’s just going to take a while to re-memorize how to do that and all sorts of other things.
  • The focus selection constantly gets in my way, even though I deprogrammed it partially.
  • My brain felt toasted after half an hour of diddling with all this nonsense.
  • Bad behavior for shoot/delete (have to press Play first). But maybe there is a setting buried among hundreds.
  • Stupid design choices like choosing RAW and then switching to HiRes mode and the E-M1 shoots JPEG unless you choose a HiRes quality setting separately (the camera ignores the previous RAW choice). WTF? I had to reshoot my first test because of this.
  • The fold out screen cannot compare to to the brilliant design of the Pentax K1: there is no way to angle it out and tilt it it except beyond the camera to the left; It reverses and flips out via its left-size hinge. I’d rather have it fixed and built in as with most DSLRs, since hinges and such are much more prone to damage and wear failure, and crud could get under the screen and abrade it when flipped to stow face inwards against the camera body. It’s strange to have this design in what Olympus clearly considers a pro grade body—I don’t see it as a durable design choice. I plan on just leaving it in closed shooting position, pretending it is a DSLR rear LCD.
 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: no way to angle screen without flipping left of camera

The E-M1 II is not a camera for casual use. Maybe someone out there is good at Nintendos or something, but I’m not. I’ve always enjoyed shooting its E-M1 predecessor but ONLY after I had deprogrammed/reprogrammed all the buttons to do something that a proper camera should do out of the box. And then a month later it’s all baffling again. Plan on spending at least an hour messing around just to make it work properly and having your brain and eyes fried after trying to grok it all. That is both the strength and weakness of the E-M1 II: it is a godawful experience out of the box, but can be excellent once reprogammed from a bad computer into a camera. However JPEG-isms in some areas of the UI cannot be gotten rid of, so the detailed status display has about 30 info items making a hell of a visual challenge, 20 of which are useless for a raw shooter like me.

If this then that but if this other thing then that and this and go here and press that. Or something like that seems to be the design principle. And, most incredibly: no “My Menu” to at least organize things in one place that a particular user might want. This is insanely bad design given the huge kitchen sink mess.

I’d rather just have a plain text file of name/value pairs I could upload via the SD card rather than endure the Byzantine mess that is the menu system. I’m totally serious —it would be far easier to find and alter desired settings, many of which are deeply buried.

Autofocus was IMPRESSIVE—extremely accurate and very fast. I was not able to improve upon the focus accuracy with manual focus, and that’s with the MMF3 lens adapter on the 24-100 f/2 SHG lens, for which autofocus was always a problem on the E-M1.

 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

James M writes (emphasis added):

I’m also a new owner of a Mark II, replacing the original model. I understand your frustration with the Klingon-designed menus. The original model was just as frustrating. It took me months to feel like I was controlling the camera instead of the other way around. I expect the same will be true for the Mark II.

For me, climbing the steep learning curve is worth it. My initial experience is that this model has significantly better tracking capability over than the first model. That’s very important to me as a wildlife photographer. There is no other micro 4/3 or APS-C mirrorless camera and long lens that can come close to the pictorial quality of the Mark II coupled with the outstanding 300mm f/4 PRO lens and shot hand held. One can abandon his heavy Nikon 810e, 400mm prime lens and heavy duty tripod and still get competitive results with the Oly Mark II handheld.

That said, when I’m not shooting wildlife my camera is the Sony Alpha 7R II using a collection of Zeiss Batis and Zeiss Loxia lenses. I love my Sony. I tolerate the Olympus because of the hand held results I can get with a long lens.

DIGLLOYD: sounds about right. The issue for me is sporadic usage; the E-M1 or E-M1 II is a fun shooting camera once set up. But a month or two later, it’s takes an hour or two to re-adjust to the custom setup—this never happens to me with Sony or Nikon or Canon.

Yes that 300mm f4/ PRO lens is outstanding—see my review of the Olympus 300mm f/4. That said, I think I like the 42.5mm Nocticron best of all.

 

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

LensRentals.com 7 Days Free

LensRentals.com has 7 free days with discount code FREE2016—order must arrive by 12/23/16 and be returned after 1/2/17.

Separately, the LensRentals.com HD program will cost a bit more next year.

 
LensRentals.com HD program
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II First Look: High-Res Mode

See my Micro 4/3 wish list at B&H Photo.

 
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

This page compares technical image quality of the Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II from a 20-megapixel raw file to a 50-megapixel downsampled hi-res mode JPEG, downsampled to match the 20-megapixel raw file. While it is much preferable to compare raw to raw, Photoshop did not yet support Hi-Res ORF files at the time this page was prepared.

The Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark II delivers 50 megapixel JPEGs when shot in its Hi-Res sensor shift mode, producing three files simultaneously from its 20-megapixel sensor:

  • 49.9-megapixel JPEG file (8160 X 6120)
  • 20.1-megapixel ORI file (5184 X 3888)
  • 80.6-megapixel ORF file (10368 X 7776)

The huge ORF file has nowhere near the detail its 80 megapixels imply, so the question is how much it really offers over the standard resolution file. The Olympus position is that it offers up to about 50 megapixels of detail under ideal conditions; hence the 50MP JPEG that is output. Indeed, the file quality is high at that size, but fine detail is much less than the 50MP figure implies.

HiRes Mode: Camera JPEG vs raw Single Shot (Dolls)

Includes images up to 40-megapixels (the sensor is 20 megapixels).

I eked this post out finishing it 20 minutes before a minor surgery, hopefully I will be able to do more but involves a hand so I may be out a few days.

__METADATA__
 
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

Sigma Releases Sigma Photo Pro 6.5.0

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

See also:

Sigma Photo Pro software 6.5.0 is now available for download.


Sigma Photo Pro is finally 64-bit (v6.5.0)

The most significant feature (and one not even listed) from a usability standpoint is that SPP 6.5.0 is now, finally a 64-bit app on macOS. That may do wonders for the crash problems with the 32-bit SPP 6.4.0, which crashes frequently as it quickly runs out of of memory after working with only a few files.

  • Compatible with macOS Sierra.
  • Compatible with RAW data (X3F files, X3I files) of the sd Quattro H.
  • Increases the processing speed of RAW data in the Review Window and when it saves images, by utilizing the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) (RAW data of sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series only).
  • Compatible with thumbnails and shooting information of DNG files shot with the sd Quattro H (If the files are edited using other processing software compatible with DNG files, they will not be displayed).
  • Improved algorithm in Super Fine Detail Mode so that minor gaps between each frame are less visible.
  • Improved noise reduction when developing RAW data for the sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series.
  • Updated Auto development algorithm of RAW data adjustment setting for the sd Quattro series and dp Quattro series.
  • Corrects the phenomenon whereby the parameter of Auto development is different when Display Quality or Display Speed is prioritized.
  • Preference Settings incorporates a mode whereby images transferred from Sigma Capture Pro will not open in the Review Window.
  • Incorporates an Update Information Notification function.
  • Displays messages for some functions by way of a pop-up notification.
  • *If 32 bit OS is installed on the computer, it is not possible to use Printing, Slideshow, and Display of multiple Review Windows. To use these functions, please use SIGMA Photo Pro 6.4.1. Please download from here

Comments on reality

I have to conclude that Sigma simply cross-compiles the app and doesn’t even test it on macOS. Well, it at least looks that way on an evidentiary basis, as using SPP for 30 seconds shows.

As has long been the case, Retina display resolution is not supported, so images look unpleasantly blurry on Retina or HiDPI displays. This has long made SPP visually unpleasant to work with, even ignoring the tiny and difficult to read text in the user interface. The ironic thing is that SPP temporarily draws images at retina resolution (such as the initial view from JPEG or going from 100% to 50%), but as soon as the processing cycle for display completes, the image is redrawn in blurry form. Seems to me that basic attention to detail would fix this problem trivially: render the image at 100%, then draw it—job done and the app could be blithely agnostic as to Retina or not.

Palettes don’t disappear properly when switching to another app, making a nuisance of themselves.

Thumbnail quality in SPP is atrociously bad (regular or Retina displays) until some background process finally makes them look OK. Or doesn’t, as it doesn’t most of the time. This makes it hard even to review images.


Sigma Photo Pro 6.50: blurred and pixellated thumbnail quality

Attempting to process an image with GPU support enabled results in a crash 100% of the time on my 2013 Mac Pro and late 2015 iMac 5K. So this new release continues the time-honored tradition of crash-prone software from Sigma. My guess is that Sigma does extremely limited testing for GPU support, but obviously a Mac Pro like mine was not tested or even the iMac 5K. I was able to process the images with GPU support disabled.


Sigma Photo Pro 6.50
Crashes 100% of the time with GPU support enabled

The crash is not due to the “Use extra memory...” setting since it crashes either way. And it’s a strange warning, since SPP enables it by default.


Sigma Photo Pro 6.50
Crashes 100% of the time with GPU support enabled

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Frosty Picnic Table

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

See my Zeiss DSLR lenses wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo. Get Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo.

See also last year’s Understanding the new Zeiss Milvus Lineup.

The about $2300 Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 delivers eye-popping contrast, wholly in keeping with its lineage and similar to its venerable 21mm f/2.8 sibling, but I deem it another step up on the performance curve, as this series and more to come will show.

Following the close-range Frosty Wood Round series, this very-near-to-very-far series looks at close range performance and overall visual impact using white frost on dark wood to critically assess color correction and sharpness.

Update 19 Dec: I’ve added some comments from Zeiss.

But one reason I shoot such scenes (aside from liking bluish frost!) is that they can show key lens behaviors. Indeed, this series shows a behavior I have never before seen with a Zeiss wide angle DSLR lens, one that anyone shooting this lens must know about for optimal results.

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2/8 Aperture Series: Frosty Picnic Table (Nikon D810)

Includes images up to 28 megapixels with large crops from f/2.8 through f/11. Also includes an impressive 3-frame focus stacked image at f/9.

__METADATA__

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Aperture Series: Frosty Wood Round

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

See my Zeiss DSLR lenses wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo. Get Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo.

See also last year’s Understanding the new Zeiss Milvus Lineup.

The new-new kid on the Milvus block is the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, a long overdue all-new optical design that replaces the weakling in the ZF.2 lineup, the Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon. Its size and weight and angle of view are just about perfect for landscape use: not so wide as 15mm, but very wide and thus more applicable more of the time, at least for my shooting.

It is a lovely match to a Nikon D810 in terms of size/weight/balance; it feels right at home on the D810. The Milvus 18mm f/2.8 looks to match and maybe even beat (very slightly) its superb Batis 18/2.8 sibling (the MTF is close enough that this is a sketchy proposition, but on the whole the Milvus looks to have a slight edge). But a bonus is that the Milvus 18/2.8 has substantially less distortion than the distortion of the Batis 18/2.8. That matters, because if distortion must be corrected, it drops the MTF (because of pixel stretching).

The about $2300 Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 delivers eye-popping contrast, wholly in keeping with its lineage and similar to its venerable 21mm f/2.8 sibling, but I deem it another step up on the performance curve, as this series and more to come will show.

Its 21mm f/2.8 ZF.2 sibling has similarly delicious contrast, see the several Nov 2015 examples pages.

This series looks at close range performance and overall visual impact using white frost on dark wood to critically assess color correction and sharpness.

This was one of the first images I made with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, and what struck me here and in the other images was the tremendous visual impact. So much so that the f/2.8 image, in spite of having only a shallow zone of sharpness at f/2.8 nonetheless is eye-grabbing in its visual impact. THAT is why photographers buy Zeiss (or Leica) lenses—for that visual impact “pop”.

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2/8 Aperture Series: Frosty Wood Round (Nikon D810)

Includes images up to 28 megapixels with large crops from f/2.8 through f/11. Also includes a 5-frame focus stacked image at f/9.

I want a Zeiss Milvus 11mm f/4 next!

__METADATA__

RawDigger and FastRawViewer 25% Off

I’ve been recommending RawDigger for some time now as it is the best program for assessing how I’m executing on exposure. It’s also good for assessing raw image quality; see for example Sony 11+7 Bit File Format: Gapping.

RawDigger is the best tool available for anyone looking to hone their exposure technique aka ETTR. Highly recommended, indeed RawDigger is mandatory for the serious shooter.

FastRawViewer and RawDigger are on sale till January 01, 2017, with 25% discounts on single products and all bundles:
http://www.fastrawviewer.com/purchase
http://www.rawdigger.com/purchase

Below—is this image underexposed in the shadows? Overexposed in the highlights? How would you know (the camera won’t tell you correctly). RawDigger histogram will show you the answer. Below, the images are being viewed in FastRawViewer for another purpose.

FastRawViewer main window
Our trusted photo rental store

Diglloyd Deal Finder: New Search Feature

I’ve added a new search feature to the Diglloyd Deals Finder pages.

Of course you can look for curated deals by brand or deals by category subject to a percent savings threshold—that has been there for a few weeks now.

Now just added is an explicit search by brand and keyword. Examples:

And so on.

This tool is so much faster and easier than looking on the B&H sitebookmark this page for future use.

TIP: it’s not just handy for finding deals, it’s a fast way to find any kind of product (set discount to 0% and it becomes a product finder).

See also OWC wishlists and OWC Deal Finder.

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

Dracast LED: Comments and Deal

I received the 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. At present, I am using it mostly for extra light when I need it in my office (I don’t see so well in the dark any more at my age). It is a bi-color light with the ability to change the color temperature from pleasantly warm to slightly cool. Ilike this a lot—at night I dial it to warm and in the day I dial it to a cooler color temp.

The larger Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light with V-Mount Battery Plate (or Gold Plate) is $300 / 43% off today only at the B&H Deal Zone, so today I ordered it as a larger unit (it comes with all sorts of extras too, like a softbox, stand, and so on).

With the unit discussed above, this provides a dual light source setup offers much more even illumination than just a single light—use one as fill light from the side for example.

Dracast LED500 Pro Bi-Color LED Light

Sigma sd Quattro H Due in Mid January

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

See my Dec 6 post discussing the Sigma sd Quattro H in detail and in-depth reviews of the Sigma Art lenses and in-depth reviews of Sigma DP Merrill and Sigma dp Quattro cameras.

I’ve received an update from Sigma marketing:

Following up on last week’s announcement, Sigma has just released pricing and availability information for the sd Quattro H camera. The Sigma sd Quattro-H will be available beginning early January 2017 for $1199.

This pricing makes the Sigma sd Quattro H a highly attractive option. But what a shame it does not sport a Nikon F or Canon EF (or Sony E) lens mount; I do not want to invest in yet another series of lenses incompatible with my Canon and Nikon and Sony bodies. It’s too expensive, and too inflexible given the rapid change in the camera market. Also, I want to shoot Zeiss Otus and other Zeiss lenses on the sd Quattro-H. This is impossible with the Sigma SA mount (only) decision by Sigma.

Ironically, making the sd Quattro H with a Canon or Nikon or Sony mount would probably vault Sigma into a market leadership position, making the Quattro H ten times more appealing and ditto for the Sigma Art lens line. What a failure of strategic vision.

When will this insanity of non-interchangeable lenses end in the camera market? Sigma is the only vendor that I see as viable for doing this. The Sigma sd Quattro H requires Sigma SA mount lenses, which means buying Sigma Art lenses for the sd Quattro-H limits them only to the Quattro H. But I want lenses usable on the sd Quattro H OR Canon or Nikon bodies. I already have the Sigma 35/1.4 Art and I would readily buy the rest of the Art line if Sigma would only make the sd Quattro H available with a Canon or Nikon mount. That would also sidestep the CaNikon idiocy of still not having an EVF-capable camera that can take their DSLR lenses.

December, 2016

SIGMA sd Quattro H The SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the SIGMA sd Quattro H, the new high-image-quality digital camera that incorporates the Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: “Quattro”).The SIGMA sd Quattro H is the first camera to feature the newly developed APS-H size Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor with incredible 51-megapixel-equivalent resolution. Featuring the SIGMA SA mount, the new camera is compatible with all of the SIGMA GLOBAL VISION lenses in the Contemporary, Art and Sports lines, and it is designed to take full advantage of these lenses’ superb optical performance.

DNG format

In addition to Sigma’s original RAW format (X3F), the sd Quattro H now supports DNG (Digital Negative) format, which makes Sigma RAW files compatible with programs including Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Capture One and more. Combined with the Sigma Capture Pro App, photographers can tether the camera to their computer to further expand workflow option.

51 megapixel-equivalent ultra-high image quality

Other camera typically uses a single-layer photo sensor covered by a Bayer filter mosaic, which comprises 50% green, 25% blue, and 25% red squares. In contrast, the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor uses no low-pass filter and is able to capture 100% of the data for blue, green, and red in each of its three layers. Due to this unique structure, the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor can generate up to twice the resolution data of sensors using a Bayer filter.

The SIGMA sd Quattro H features a newly developed APS-H size sensor (26.7 x 17.9mm) with 25.5 megapixels in its top layer for an equivalent total of approximately 51 megapixels. This larger sensor takes Foveon image quality to the next level, delivering more detailed images than ever before.

Requiring no low-pass filter needed to correct the interference caused by a color filter array, the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor is able to take full advantage of the information carried by light, including color information. The sensor features a pixel ratio of 1:1:4 in the bottom, middle, and top layers and applies the brightness data captured by the top layer to the middle and bottom layers. This unique structure makes possible fast resolution and high-speed data processing.

More on the DC crop mode

The new DC crop mode takes full advantage of the Sigma Global Vision Lens optical capabilities – both DG (FF) and DC (APS-C). The Sigma sd Quattro H automatically switches to DC crop mode when it detects a Sigma DC lens is attached. Users can also manually turn on/off of DC crop mode. When a Sigma DG lens is mounted and the DC crop mode is selected, the LCD monitor and the viewfinder automatically adjust coverage to APS-C.

“With the release of the sd Quattro H, Sigma is setting a new bar of what can be achieved in terms of image resolution,” states Mark Amir-Hamzeh, president, Sigma Corporation America. “The sd Quattro H Foveon Sensor is a groundbreaking technical advancement that, when combined with superior optical performance of the Sigma glass, maximizes the true resolution power of both. Professional photographers who need superior image quality will appreciate the great IQ, outstanding sensor technology and new support for the DNG workflow.”

Dual TRUE III for high-speed processing of high-volume data

TRUE (Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine) III is the dedicated image processing engine for the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor. SIGMA’s original algorithm processes data without loss of color detail or other image degeneration to deliver extremely detailed image expression with a noticeable 3D pop. In addition, by using two separate TRUE III engines, the camera is able to process data from the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor at extremely high speed.

14-bit RAW data

RAW data records the light information captured by the Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor. Using 14-bit (16,384 gradations) signal processing to convert the analog output signal to digital results in photographic data with fine gradations that effectively represent the smooth, natural gradations of the original subject. RAW data uses lossless compression that prevents image degradation. Moreover, processing RAW data with SIGMA Photo Pro results in images with incomparable natural balance.

Below, the fundamental downside to the Sigma sd Quattro-H as I see it: the only lenses good enough for the sensor are the large and heavy (but excellent) Sigma Art series lenses. I want to see an f/2.8 Art series with even better performance—two stops slower by 1/3 to 1/2 the weight. This would be far more appealing when one wants to carry a 20mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm set (and perhaps more)?

What would this look like if the sd Quattro-H accepted a Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8?! Awesomely appealing in two words.

Sigma sd Quattro H

Below, an image from the Sigma dp0 Quattro. I think the fixed lens solutions are even better, because the lenses are optimized for the sensor. I hope to see a Sigma dp Quattro-H lineup.

Quaking Aspen, Last of the Leaves
3-frame focus stack using JPEG from camera
__METADATA__

Reader Comments: Stitching and Panoramas

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

Colin H writes:

Thank you for the new material on stitching with tilt-shift lenses.

I have not had much success stitching images made with Canon tilt-shifts and then stitched using either the Camera Raw panorama stitcher or photoshop (current versions of both) as the Canon tilt-shift lenses do not show up in the lens correction tables of Camera Raw and therefore make stitching more difficult, if not impossible (for good results). I can understand the challenge for software engineers as the T/S lenses do not offer a consistent image to correct because they are adjustable.

I essentially gave up trying to stitch with T/S lenses and returned to standard lenses that show up in the profiles to avoid that problem and allow me to successfully stitch.

Are you using a different program to post-process the stitch, or do the Nikon lenses show up in the correction tables?

DIGLLOYD: I made the examples in my review of the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E using Adobe Photoshop Auto Align Layers (reposition) plus Auto Blend Layers.

As for lens corrections, correction of what exactly? ACR raw conversion is smart enough to correct lateral chromatic aberration but the Nikon 19/4 PC-E has only traces of it. The 19/4 is too new to say if an ACR lens correction profile will arrive for it.

So I presume the question is about distortion. But for that I see no need with Nikon 19/4, barring hyper demanding work. I offer as evidence the mosaic examples as well as the stitched composites on the Shifting for Stitching: Double the Camera Megapixels page, both of which have the straight lines of man-made structures. BTW, one should not confuse optical distortion with perspective distortion, which is not distortion at all but a result of the inverse square law.

Really Right Stuff
Multi-Row Pano Package

Damian S writes:

I'm surprised to hear you're just now ordering RRS' pano head - it is an AMAZING piece of hardware. I have done extensive stitching with that head all the way up to Nikon's old MF 800mm lens. Zeiss' 135mm apo is particularly well suited to that setup. The deal is, with the new PC lens, it's like large format and front vs. rear movements.

If Nikon had put a tripod mount on the lens you could do a stitch without parallax errors by moving the 'rear standard' or the camera in this case. Having to rotate around what RRS calls the no-parallax point makes the new lens not as attractive since you pay a weight and complexity penalty for the T/S functionality which is of no help to stitching if you have the RRS pano setup along anyway.... The Hartblei 45mm T/S solves this by having the mount on the lens barrel.

I'm excited to see you play with these toys and hear your recommendations. I'd also advise trying stitching with the Otus 55 and 85 - you can get INCREDIBLE images with those. The biggest issue with stitching and longer FLs is that you pay a DOF penality to get more pixels for the same scene - there is a trade off between virtual sensor size and DOF and your focus stacking becomes a good alternative to get as much detail in the scene as possible. Then, of course, the idea of focus stacking AND stitching comes into play.... Let's see what you come up with.

DIGLLOYD: I have to earn a living and can’t own even 1/10 of what I’d like to have on hand, so it is somewhat of a handicap in terms of free-flowing gear evaluation over time. But the RRS Multi-Row Pano Package with gimbal head is likely to become permanent.

“No parallax point” is a layman’s term that speaks to the benefit versus the cause—the entrance pupil position being centered about the point of rotation.

Hartblei makes a tripod collar for the Canon TS-E lenses, but to my eyes it looks like a wobbly akward affair, and just not attractive for my work.

Ideally there would emerge a lens adapter for Sony that supports Nikon “E” lenses (electronic diaphragm control) along with a shift mechanism and tripod foot of its own. Then the whole parallax issue is made moot. But so far, no lens adapters for Sony even support Nikon “E” lenses (only “G” lenses), let alone with a shift capability. The Cambo Mini View Camera is one option, but it’s just far too bulky for me to carry and it does not support “E” lenses either.

I have the RRS Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements Package Pro. Even that is too much bulk and weight for most of my hikes, so I have not done much rotational stitching in recent years. The RRS Multi-Row Pano Package with gimbal head is probably best of all, and I look forward to seeing it soon, but it remains to be seen if it is viable for the types of hikes I do since it is even heavier—and it’s not just weight but a stuff-full pack and these pano rigs exceed the weight threshold my arm can tolerate (I carry the tripod in one hand while hiking, always).

Jason W writes:

I own the RRS Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements and have also owned the Multi-Row Pano Gimbal. The reason I sold the heavier gimbal version was not only weight, but also form factor.

I shoot primarily with the BH-55, but carry the Lightweight Pano Elements disassembled in my backpack. The Lightweight Elements breaks down flat into a small space in the LowePro Flipside 300, leaving room for 3 prime lenses and Sony body. The Pano Gimbal cannot be broken down flat, and therefore takes up a lot more space.

DIGLLOYD: those are the core issues: size/stowability and weight.

Really Right Stuff Lightweight Multi-Row Pano Elements Package Pro
Really Right Stuff Lightweight
Multi-Row Pano Elements Package, LR

Panorama shooting gear for rotational stitching

The gear for rotational panoramas also has use for vertical shifts.

For my field work, I shoot mostly still frames and I prefer not to carry and then add/remove a special pano heads, so something that adds on works best for me. And even the lightest pano setup adds a lot of weight (again, a strong argument for using a ballhead if the primary goal is shift-lens stitching). However, a pano setup also provides the flexbility of rotational stitching, which makes sense if the goal is a stitched image but some lenses to be used are not shift lenses. Choice include the following:

OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

Usage and Gear Tips for Shift-Lens Stitching

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

When making composite stitched images (see the Alpine Creek example and others), besides the challenge of optimized focus given the field curvature and focus shift behaviors of the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E, the other challenge is avoiding parallax. Which of course applies to all shift lenses as well as rotational stitching.

When shifting, the front of the lens moves, that is, the portion that contains the entrance pupil. The shifting operation translates the position of the entrance pupil by the amount of the shift. Thus there can be up to a 25mm of dislocation of the entrance pupil, which creates substantial parallax at close range. Parallax is problematic for shift-lens stitching just as it is for rotational stitching.

Usage and Gear Tips for Making Stitched Images

Gear

Below, gear I use. I have most of this stuff, and the newer items like the Really Right Stuff Multi-Row Pano Package I expect to have soon for evaluation.

Clamps require the correct mounting screw (M6 or 1/4"). The clamp on my favorite head (the Arca Swiss Cube, see review) is dubious and should be replaced with a Really Right Stuff clamp like the B2-Pro-II.

Not all items shown since some might not be available in feed, see links above

MacPerformanceGuide.com

The D810 as a 73-Megapixel Medium Format Camera with a 49mm X 36mm Virtual Sensor: Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Shift-Lens Stitching (Alpine Creek)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

Update: I’ve added large crops as well as this page:

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series: Shifting for Stitching: Virtual Sensor of Up To 49mm X 36mm

...

This page builds on the initial shift-lens stitching examples with the Nikon 19/4E PC-E.

This particular 73-megapixel example includes an annotated finished image along with a discussion of what focusing choices were made.

To be able to double the camera resolution quickly in the field, with minimal post-processing is a huge win for the Nikon 19mm f/4E PC-E. It makes the Nikon D810 into a 73 megapixel camera with a huge virtual sensor area.

Shift-lens stitching has always been possible but never worth the trouble before: I have tested about ten other shift/tilt-shift lenses over the years (Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Mamiya), and not one of them can approach the Nikon 19/4E in image quality. The 19/4E ED is thus a breakthrough lens.

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series: Shifting for Stitching: Double the Camera Megapixels (Alpine Creek)

Includes images up to 36 megapixels.

The aspect ratio after cropping is 1.37:1, which is only trivially different than the 4:3 aspect ratio of many medium format cameras (a bit of cropping would yield 1.33:1). Thus what we have here is essentially an image competing and beating most every medium format camera. And at an angle of view not even available on medium format, that is, in focal length terms: 19mm along the short axis of the finished image, and approximately 15mm along the long axis. In other words, the rough equivalent of a 19mm medium format lens.

__METADATA__

How much SSD Can You Handle?

How about a forty (40) terabyte SSD?

While 40TB is a jaw-dropping amount of SSD storage, bite off as much as you can financially chew for performance that is throttled by Thunderbolt 2.

It should do about 1650 MB/sec when a Thunderbolt 3 version of the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini enclosure arrives (just swap the SSDs), though that hardly matters given how it flatlines at 1360 MiB/sec = 1425 MB/sec.

See my review of the OWC 40TB SSD.

Reader Question: Sigma sd Quattro H vs Sony A7R II

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

Sigma sd Quattro H

Antonio F writes from Italy:

I am waiting for the Sigma sd Quattro H, of which I think you will do a test, because I love the Foveon sensor; I am very doubtful whether to buy this camera or Sony A7R II, considering the fact that the X3F files must be developed with their very slow software.

I photograph mostly nature and landscapes and I would like some advice from you, especially about the image quality; what would you do regardless of the price? Many thanks for your kind reply.

DIGLLOYD: this is a complicated issue that is not easily summarized (lens size, lens selection, dynamic range, battery life, raw file size, camera speed and operational characteristics, etc).

As for raw files, Sigma has stated that DNG support is in the works. Whether the DNG format is fully as good as X3F remains to be seen. There are also at least two programs that convert X3F into TIF: Iridient Developer and Graphic Converter.

To give a brief answer, one that that assumes image quality as good as the Sigma sd Quattro but with 25 megapixels captured: shooting the Sigma sd Quattro H over the Sony A7R II has a lot of merit, and is definitely one worth of consideration—the images I obtained with the Sigma dp Quattro cameras last fall were outstanding, and that was with the smaller APS-C sensor.

The main lens drawback: the large and heavy f/1.4 Sigma Art primes (and 12-24/4 and 24-35/2), which are huge compared to the Zeiss Loxia lineup. And there exist no other options (for high quality). I wish that Sigma offered an ultra high performance f/2.8 lineup because the f/1.4 Art lenses are just too large and heavy to carry more than two or three at most. Dynamic range was not an issue for me, but having the sun in the frame is one significant drawback (weird sensor flare).

Another option is fixed-lens cameras like the Sigma dp Quattro line. I hope that there will be a Sigma dp Quattro-H lineup with the larger APS-H sensor along with lenses optimized for that larger sensor—the lenses on the dp Quattro cameras are first class and not easily matched by interchangeable lenses in size/weight or performance.

The fairly exciting thought would be a full-frame Sigma sensor around 36 megapixels, which would surely blow away any DSLR on the market. But I don’t expect a full frame Sigma sensor any time soon, and the files would be around 300MB each!

Suggestions below are mostly missing due to data limitations from B&H. The keys lenses to consider for the Sigma sd Quattro H are the Sigma 12-24, Sigma 24-35 and the Sigma 50/1.4 and 85/1.4 primes (SA mount for Sigma sd). See reviews of those lenses in DAP.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

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 looks to be shipping in February.

  • 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.

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.

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!

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Reader Experience: Fotodiox Fusion Lens Adapter for Nikon F to Sony E

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

I haven’t tested the FotodioX FUSION Smart AF Adapter for Nikon F Lens to Sony but reader Roy P has, and he offers this perspective.

Update: readers are also advised to web search for potential adapter issues. There seems to be some concern about electronic damage. I hesitate to post such things, but the claim is that of camera damage, so worth a read if considering and adapter like the Fotodiox.

THE FOTODIOX FUSION SMART AF SONY TO NIKON ADAPTER RUINED MY SONY A6300 CAMERA

FotodioX FUSION Smart AF Adapter
for Nikon F Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera

I had a bad experience a few years back with a Fotodiox mechanical Nikon to Canon adapter—it had to be destructively removed from a Zeiss prime.

I’ve never been a fan of electronic adapters though the Sigma MC-11 is very well made and worked successfully for me when I used it briefly with the Canon 11-24/4L.

...

Roy Pwrites:

Feedback on the Fotodiox Fusion adapter: I was hoping this adapter would finally give me a usable solution, but it is far from being ready to be marketed. They should not be putting out a product like this that is at best beta quality.

First, the good news: the build quality is good. It fit well on my Sony A7RM2 with my Nikon 105mm f/1.4 lens, with no wiggles, without being overtight. No issues with setting the f-stop from the camera or exporting EXIF data. After taking 200+ test shots of varying subjects, distances, and good/bad lighting conditions, it nailed the focus every time – surprisingly, not a single frame with my target out of focus.

The autofocusing is slow, and happens in jerky steps, until it finally gets to focus. Annoying, but I got used to it. It takes much longer to focus than with my Sigma MC-11 + Canon lenses - that combo is just about as fast as native Sony E mount lenses are on my A7RM2. The Fotodiox Fusion is 3-4 times slower. But to its credit, eventually, it did nail the focus every time, so I was willing to live with the slow performance.

But it has two fatal flaws: first, it sharply drains the battery in the camera. With a 100% charged battery, I could get only about 65 shots before the battery went totally dead. Even if you’re not taking a lot of photos, the adapter is consuming gobs of battery power, so unless you’re turning the camera off after every shot, you could be out of battery power in an hour or less. That is absurd.

I even briefly considered living with this headache, but the second fatal flaw, which was the killer for me, is that there is no USB port on this adapter. That means this is it – no firmware upgrades, no bug fixes or performance improvements, ever. Worse, if Sony comes out with a new camera next year, there is no guarantee this adapter will work with it optimally, or even work at all. That is totally unacceptable for a $370 adapter.

So I’m returning it, and I will keep looking for something better.

... and ads a day later:

I just read the comment by Michael R – thanks for the input about updating the adapter firmware via the camera. I knew the Fotodix Fusion was based on the Commlite adapter, and I was wondering if firmware upgrade was possible through the camera, but no one seemed to know the answer.

As for working with Nikon PC-E lenses, the Fotodiox did not work with my Nikon 45mm PC-E lens. The 45mm PC-E has an aperture ring that does not work unless the lens is powered, so I cannot use it with my non-electronic Novoflex or Metabones adapters.

With the Fotodiox adapter, I can set the f-stop from within the camera, but the problem is, all it does is to move the number from f/2.8 to f/32. But the diaphragm stays open, however. The aperture ring does not change the f-stop either. Worse, when I press the shutter release, there is no click and the camera simply hangs up. After that, the camera needs to be power cycled. Frankly, when I shut the camera off in this state, it makes a funny sound that is not very inspiring.

Net net, there are too many things still flaky with this adapter, and I don’t even know if adapter is totally safe for both the camera and the lens. One review on Youtube says this adapter killed an A6300. I just don’t think it is ready yet for prime time as a finished product.

DIGLLOYD: I have not tested these adapters (below); they are provided for reference.

Michael R writes:

I read the reader experience of this lens adapter. I also have his adapter and generally agree with the comments although I don't have a lot of experience with just how much the battery drain is accelerated. From what I can tell this adapter is physically and functionally identical to the Commlite adapter (except for the faux gold plating). This adapter, in fact, can be updated through a firmware download. The way it's done is to connect the adapter to the SONY camera and download the update to the camera. I have tried it on the Commlite and it seems to work well. Both adapters are running ver. 4.0 of the software so they work identically. (http://www.commlite.com/en/down.php)

I don't think these adapters will ever be a viable replacement for native lenses but I will be interested to see if they work with Nikon's new PC-E lens.

DIGLLOYD: I’m a big NON-fan of electronic adapters, and these two posts are best read stepping back out of the reality distortion field: Sony is all well and good, but native is better. And nearly $400 is better put towards buying a used Nikon D500 or similar.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 MTF Series from f/2.4 to f/16

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

Get the new Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar in Guide to Mirrorless.

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 fills out the Loxia lens lineup, which now covers 21mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

The Loxia 85/2.4 is a an exciting lens for Sony shooters because it is close to Otus-grade performance, yet native-mount for Sony in a relatively compact package. With a 2 or 3 frame focus stack, I’d bet that many outdoor images can be made that will be jaw dropping in detail—I’m sure looking forward to a 70 megapixel Sony of some sort.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

MTF from f/2.4 to f/16

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar delivers performance that beats out the best Leica M APO lenses, according to its (measured) MTF chart provided by Zeiss.

See my commentary on the MTF of the Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar.

MTF for Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

Distortion

Pincushion distortion is typical for a medium telephoto lens.

Distortion for Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

Vignetting

Vignetting is about 1 stop wide open—minimal.

Vignetting for Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar
Specifications for Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar
Focal length: 85mm
Aperture scale: f/2.4 - f/22
Number of lens elements/groups 7 elements in 7 groups
Lens diaphragm: 10 blades, straight-edged
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.) 28.63° / 24.05° / 16.23°
Focusing range: 80 cm / 31.49 in
Free working distance at MOD: 68.5 cm / 26.97 in
Coverage at close range (MOD): 257.9 x 172.6 mm / 10.15 x 6.80 in
Image ratio at MOD: 1:7.2 = 0.139X
Rotation angle of focusing (focus throw): 220°
Entrance pupil position, in front of image plane: 58.7mm / 2.13 in
Diameter of image field 43.3mm
Flange focal distance: 18.0mm
Filter thread 52mm
Weight: 594g / 1.32 lb (nominal)
Length : 94.8 mm / 3.73 in (without caps)
108 mm / 4.25 in (with caps)
Diameter max 62.5 mm / 2.44 in
List price: about $TBD
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8: Full MTF Series from f/2.8 through f/16

Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

See my Zeiss DSLR lenses wish list and other wish lists at B&H Photo.

Get the new Milvus 18mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo.

See also last year’s Understanding the new Zeiss Milvus Lineup.

The new-new kid on the Milvus block is the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, a long overdue all-new optical design that replaces the weakling in the ZF.2 lineup, the Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon. Its size and weight and angle of view are just about perfect for landscape use: not so wide as 15mm, but very wide and thus more applicable more of the time. It is a lovely match to a Nikon D810 in terms of size/weight/balance; it feels right at home on the D810.

Very high performance, the Milvus 18mm f/2.8 promises via its measured (not just theoretically computed) MTF numbers to match or outperform the Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH. Now that is a proposition I like, since the Leica 18/3.8 SEM has been one of my favorites on Leica M. See the full MTF series below.

The Milvus 18mm f/2.8 looks to match and maybe even beat (very slightly) its superb Batis 18/2.8 sibling (the MTF is close enough that this is a sketchy proposition, but on the whole the Milvus looks to have a slight edge). But a bonus is that the Milvus 18/2.8 has substantially less distortion than the distortion of the Batis 18/2.8. That matters, because if distortion must be corrected, it drops the MTF (because of pixel stretching).

The Milvus 18/2.8 is a substantial 2/3 of a stop faster (brighter) than its f/3.5 predecessor. Shooting at dusk, f/2.8 is a big improvement over f/3.5, whether using the optical viewfinder or Live View.

The improvements over the ZF.2 18/3.5 are substantial::

MTF

MTF across the aperture range is discussed on the MTF page for the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 in Guide to Zeiss.

MTF for Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

Distortion

Plain barrel distortion (excellent, easy to correct) and of a relatively minor amount for an 18mm—superb in total.

Distortion for Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

Vignetting

Vignetting is 2+ stops at f/2.8, and about one stop by f/5.6. This is about what one expects for a DSLR or rangefinder lens.

Vignetting for Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8
Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 Distagon Specifications
Focal length 18mm (nominal)
Aperture range f/2.8 - ƒ/22
Number of lens elements/groups 14 elements in 12 groups
Aperture blades:  
Entrance pupil position ( in front of image plane): 107.1 mm / 4.22 in
Rotation angle, focusing (inf - MOD): 145.5°
Focusing range: 25 cm / 9.84 in
Image ratio at close range 1:7.4
Free working distance at MOD: 12 cm / 4.73 in
Coverage at MOD: 274 x 180 mm / 10.79 x 7.09 in
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.) 99.9° / 89.4° / 66.5°
Diameter of image field 43 mm / 1.69 in
Flange focal offset ZF.2: 46.50 mm / 1.83 in
  ZE: 44.00 mm / 1.73 in
Filter thread 77mm
Length without caps ZF.2: 92.0 mm / 3.62 in
  ZE: 93.0 mm / 3.66 in
Length with caps ZF.2: 107.0 mm / 4.21 in
  ZE: 10.,4 mm / 4.31 in
Diameter max ZF.2: 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
  ZE: 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
Weight (nominal), ZF.2: ZF.2: 675 g / 23.8 oz
  ZE: 721 g / 25.4 oz
Street price: about $2299
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D Delay

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Hasselblad wish list.

Hasselblad X1D

See also Hasselblad X1D-50C: Reader Comments and Hasselblad X1D-50C: 50-Megapixel Mirrorless Medium Format.

Michael E writes:

Have you heard information about the advent of the Fujifilm GFX, which I am now considering, having been put off by Hasselblad’s not sharing with us the problem with delivery of the X1D.

DIGLLOYD: As of December 6, my latest information from my sources at B&H Photo is that the Hasselblad X1D has not yet begun shipping.

Fujifilm has wisely not promised anything more than a vague availability date for the Fujifilm GFX. But the way things are going, maybe Fujifilm will beat Hasselblad to market.

I think that it is very unwise of Hasselblad to leave customers hung out to dry who have pre-ordered the X1D. For one thing, it may be a deductible expense for a business, but it needs to be put into service by the end of the year. If that deadline is missed, the deduction for 2016 cannot be taken. As a big expense, it would have a material effect on my business taxes, if I could afford to buy one. So I would be getting very, very grumpy, particularly since tax deductions may be worth less in 2017.

Reader Comment: Using the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

Michael E writes:

Of course, I am fascinated by the articles on the Nikon 19mm tilt/shift lens, although I am still trying to get a handle on what is the best prescription or recipe for using this lens properly.

Hopefully, at some point, you will list out the steps we must be aware. I can’t just fun out and buy one, because of the price, but if I do I will credit it to you.

How does this lens approximate a medium format experience and how does it not? I would think that many people might want to have this lens, but for me, I need to have a little more information about how to use it properly and avoid its pitfalls. I imagine you are still figuring this out. Must be fun.

DIGLLOYD: I’ve stubbed out a page in my review of the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E on which I intend to summarize best practices for using it. But I need to spend a week or two with it to nail down some particulars and good field examples. In the meantime, the series discuss the behavior and that is itself some guidance.

Sigma sd Quattro H Due Soon

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

Sigma sd Quattro H

See my in-depth reviews of Sigma DP Merrill and Sigma dp Quattro cameras.

Three years ago I wrote Pixel for Pixel, *Nothing* Beats a Sigma DP Merrill. That remains largely true, except for the special Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode, which has severe practical limitations. And now—the Sigma sd Quattro H comes along with so many more pixels that it should be king of the hill up to 36 megapixels or so.

See Sigma dp0 and dp1 Quattro: Razor Sharp Detail—I shot the Sigma sd Quattro with its APS-C sensor last fall with some gorgeous results.

The about $TBD Sigma sd Quattro H with its larger APS-H sensor is due very soon. The larger sensor captures 25 megapixels at 6192 x 4128 pixels with a bit depth of 14 bits. And of course those numbers belie the per pixel detail which I would rate as something more like 36 megapixels on a conventional Bayer sensor, but without most of the digital artifacts.

Given the pixel quality I saw with the sd Quattro APS-C sensor, the results may be quite alluring for some shooters and should approach the resolution of the Nikon D810, though it may be subjectively better (and worse) in some ways.

The Sigma DP Merrill cameras appear to finally be out of production. I still have all three of them, and in my view they offer a classic look which I feel have the same kind of appeal that certain photographic films offered versus other films. But they are now outgunned by the sd Quattro H.

Sigma sd Quattro H

The newer Sigma dp Quattro cameras use a new sensor over the Merrills, with some improved characteristics. Out in the field this preceding autumn, I found myself very glad to leave behind the Nikon D810—the light and easy-shooting Quattros just felt a lot more satisfying than the Big Black Brick: at 10,000+ feet elevation and many miles of slogging, there is a lot to be said for smaller cameras.

But size and weight aside, the Sigma dp Quattro cameras deliver a level of detail that few if any conventional cameras of up to 24 megapixels can even approach. There is more detail out of the dp Quattros than anything I could get out of the Leica SL, which costs 13X as much with its underperforming 24-90mm zoom. However, lenses remain a limiting factor on the sd Quattro line, just as on Canon and Nikon (Zeiss Otus excepted and a few others).

The Sigma sd Quattro H would be 'killer' if it had a Nikon F mount (or Sony) since as it stands, a buyer has to invest in Sigma sd-mount lenses rather than being able to use Nikon or Canon Sigma Art lenses. I want the Ssd Quattro H as a camera that will take any of my Nikon lenses, including Zeiss Otus. Now THAT would be a huge win.

Sigma announcement:

The SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce the SIGMA sd Quattro H, a new high-image-quality digital camera that incorporates the Foveon X3 direct image sensor (generation name: “Quattro”).

The SIGMA sd Quattro H is the first camera to feature the newly developed APS-H size Foveon X3 Quattro direct image sensor with an incredible 51-megapixel- equivalent resolution. Featuring SIGMA’s SA mount, this new camera is compatible with all SIGMA GLOBAL VISION lenses in the Contemporary, Art and Sports lines, and is designed to take full advantage of these lenses' superb optical performance.

In addition, it is compatible with DNG format, and imaging software from other companies is also available for higher versatility.

  • The DC Crop Mode, which is automatically activated when DC lenses are attached, makes it possible to take full advantage of your lens assets.
  •  Along with the release of the SIGMA sd Quattro H, related software is planned to be updated, such as SIGMA Photo Pro 6.5 and SIGMA Capture Pro 1.3. SIGMA Photo Pro 6.5 seeks for higher usability by utilizing the computer’s GPU for faster processing and an improved algorithm for Auto development along with a more user-friendly SFD Mode.
  • SIGMA Capture Pro 1.3 also offers enhanced usability since it is compatible with SFD Mode and Live View Mode.

Once these updates become available for download, the announcement will be made accordingly.

I wrote this before DNG support was announced, but it still holds as discussed: BTW, Sigma dp Quattro JPEGs are essentially of lossless quality—superbly stunningly sharp, superior to JPEGs from any other camera I’ve ever seen. While I shoot RAW+JPEG, I have absolutely no concerns about the JPEG sharpness (exposure and white balance are still big pluses of raw format). So while processing Sigma RAW has been a headache, the JPEGs are so good that if attention is paid to exposure and white balance, superb results as JPEG are available right out of the camera. That the JPEGs are so good seems to be a combination of two things: (1) the inherently high sharpness and acutance of the Sigma sensor, and (2) compressed oriented towards max quality.

Whether the DNG format is viable for workflow depends on quality of results and performance as well as whether the X3I (super res mode) format is also available in DNG—TBD.

Image below is a 3-frame focus stack using the in-camera JPEGs. Lighting here was extreme high-mountain dusk blue, partly but not fully

Quaking Aspen, Last of the Leaves
3-frame focus stack using JPEG from camera
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Mark M writes:

If this body had a Sony E mount I would be all over it. Sigma already has an excellent Sigma to E adapter that could be packaged with or offered as a accessory for this body. The small and lightweight Loxias in particular would be ideal on this body, not to mention all the Zeiss CY and ZF.2s that I already have. I'm not going to duplicate a lens kit, and I'm not about to abandon Sony FE.

I am really surprised Sigma doesn't understand the advantage mirrorless offers users with its inherent flexibility of a very short lens register.

DIGLLOYD: I too would buy a Sony or Nikon mount sd Quattro-H outright if it were offered, and I think so would many other photographers once the resolving power were understood for its impressive merits.

What Sigma has failed to understand is that an sd Quattro-H in Sony and/or Nikon mount could be a first of several tactical offerings as part of a multi-year strategy to bust open the mirrorless and DSLR market by smashing the decades-old lens-mount trifurcation (is quintfurcation a word?). As it stands, there are too many hurdles working against the Sigma SA mount, starting with the fact that so many pros and prosumers do not want to buy yet one more set of lenses incompatible with other brands. Perhaps the reasoning is to sell Sigma SA mount lenses. But the Sigma Art lenses are strong, and I’d bet that Sigma would sell more Sigma Art lenses in Nikon and Canon and Sony mount if there were a sd Quattro-Hc, sdQuattro-Hn and sd-Quattro-Hs.

The Sony mount would be the best choice, because while I dislike adapters in general, it would allow Sony, Nikon, Canon and other lenses.

However, even if Sigma introduced a new SM mount ("Sigma Mirorrless") with short flange distance, that would at least allow allow Nikon and Canon and other DSLR lenses. The Sony E mount is almost certainly a patent problem, and so too the Nikon and Canon electronic coupling aspects of the mount, but not the Nikon F-mount itself, as I understand it.

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

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series: Maple Trees in Sunken Area (Nikon D810)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

This aperture series is at the full 12mm shift along the long axis.

It evaluates field curvature and focus shift and as it turns out, it is an outstanding example that is a must read for any Nikon 19/4 shooter.

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series, 12mm shift: Maple Trees in Sunken Area(Nikon D810)

Includes dual series from f/4 to f/11 at image sizes up to 28 megapixels with large crops.

__METADATA__
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Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series: Evaluating Sharpness at 12mm Shift Along the Short Axis (Mosaic, Nikon D810)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP.

This aperture series is at the full 12mm shift along the short axis. It complements the full 12mm shift series along the long axis.

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Aperture Series at 12mm Shift, Short Axis: Mosaic at Dusk (Nikon D810)

Includes dual series from f/4 to f/9 at image sizes up to 28 megapixels with large crops.

The image is not exactly level; the built-in leveling indicators of the Nikon D810 are good only to 1% or so, which is not nearly good enough. The leveling is off by about only 0.3% here, but it is visible. Meticulous work should utilized the grid overlay, but it was getting dark and I was in a hurry and it’s slow going to make sure things are exactly level.

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

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Dual Aperture Series: Evaluating Sharpness at 12mm Shift (Mosaic, Nikon D810)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP and my October overview of Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E.

The Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E is in effect a medium format rectilinear fisheye lens projecting a huge image circle. To maintain high image quality over a 35mm frame at 19mm is a challenge, but to do it over an area 4X or so larger is a major challenge indeed.

Accordingly, something has to give, and it seems that the “give” is in allowing a significant amount of field curvature, such that that the placement of focus becomes a key determinant for image quality when fully shifted, particularly when shifted the full 12mm along the long axis of the frame.

On a hunch based on what I saw in the first few shots, I explored focus placement on a planar subject, and I was handsomely rewarded with a finding that is essential reading for anyone using the Nikon 19mm f/4 PC-E. This evaluation presents two aperture series from f/4 through f/11, each with its own focus.

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Dual Aperture Series at Maximal Shift: Focus Placement is Critical

Includes dual series from f/4 to f/11 at image sizes up to 28 megapixels with huge crops.

__METADATA__

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E Initial Coverage (updated with reader comments)

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP and my October overview of Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E.

The price of $3396 is well earned as the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E looks to be the best tilt-shift or shift lens I have ever seen, and I’ve gone through virtually all of them for 35mm and several for medium format.

Nikon is on a roll, what with this amazing performer following on the heels of the class-leading Nikon 105mm f/1.4E. This is one trend I want to see continue.

If you are a pro using a tilt-shift lens for your work, RUN (don’t walk) and get this lens. It’s a no-brainer. Ditto for anyone looking for gobs of megapixels on a D810, or perspective correction or for changing the plane of focus via tilt and swing. This is a lens you buy for itself, with the camera an accessory. And please use my link so I get credit.

Two pages of initial coverage are now published:

Shifting for Stitching: Double the Camera Megapixels*

Examples: Corrected vs Uncorrected Lateral Chromatic Aberration

Tomorrow I will be posting an astounding aperture series with a finding that is an absolute must-read for anyone shooting this lens.

As for adaptation to Sony, I’ll be checking if it performs well on the Sony A7R II. But coverage will be in DAP (lenses are always reviewed in their native publication regardless of camera).

*The Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E is essentially a rectilinear fisheye lens that covers a large medium-format size image area. Shifting captures an image area that is off-center. By combining these images, a much larger capture area is possible.

Below, results of a 72-megapixel 3-frame stitch created by a fall of 12mm + center frame + rise of 12mm.

72-megapixel 3-frame stitched image result
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FotodioX FUSION Smart AF Adapter
for Nikon F Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera

Eric B writes:

I noticed that you were speculating about using the Nikon 19mm PC-E on Sony E mount cameras.

Are there adapters that allows Nikon E or G lenses with electronic aperture, such as all of Nikon’s PC-E’s, to operate on other cameras? I am not aware of any but did at one time look for something to allow me to use my PC-E’s on my Fuji X cameras and was unable to find anything.

DIGLLOYD: I have not tested these adapters as yet and they might not work at all with Nikon "E" lenses (they are stated to work with “G” lenses, but E lenses are electronic aperture control with no mechanical lever).

Michael E writes:

Nikon 19mm T/S is fascinating. Have you tried focus stacking with a shallow stack, to see whether you can overcome the focus challenge that you point out?

DIGLLOYD: Not yet, but it of course will work well. Should be possible (especially with tilt when tilt is appropriate) to do some crazy good things with DoF.

Jason W writes:

Assuming adapters existed, is there a reason you couldn't use the 19mm PC-E unshifted on the Fuji GFX or an Alpa 12 FPS and get an equivalent 15mm FOV? It's basically a medium format lens, yes?

DIGLLOYD: focal length is focal length, that is, 19mm is 19mm on any camera, any format. It's the image circle (angle of view) that varies in size to cover the format: APS-C, full frame, medium format, etc.

Image Circle as Photographed on tracing paper
Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

A 19mm can project an image circle that is (for example), ~28mm in diameter, ~43mm in diameter (full frame) or 63mm in diameter (shift lenses for full frame). A lens might project an image circle large than needed to cover the format, but things usually go whacky outside the format area (such as field curvature). See the Zeiss Touit 12mm, 32mm, 50mm examples on full frame Sony (Touit line is marketed for APS-C cameras) for superb examples of image circle size.

The Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E has an image circle at f/4 at infinity focus of about 63mm. Stopped down it is likely around 68mm.

But to your point—an 18/19mm lens on the 43.8 x 32.9mm sensor of the Fujifilm GFX would be equivalent in angle of view to a 15.6mm on the Fujifilm GFX (calculating for long edge of frame). Which is huge plus for the Fujifilm GFX over the Hasselblad X1D—the X1D has no shutter and thus the Nikon 19mm could not make an exposure (not having an in-lens shutter). Of course an electronic adapter would be required.

The Nikon 19mm f/3.5 PC-E has an image circle more than sufficient to cover the GFX sensor area at high quality and even allow some shifting range, since its image circle is at least 63mm in diameter, versus the nominal 43mm for ordinary full frame lenses. Lenses like the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 might work, but the corners of the 43.8 X 32.9 frame might be black or of poor quality.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E

Pieter K writes:

Many thanks for the 19mm coverage especially the mosaic with full shift over the length.

I do architecture as a core business and know exactly the problem with these PCE lenses - sharpness over the whole image is a compromise.

I sold the 24mm PCE cause it would fail on your mosaic test at any aperture. Mind you it was introduces at the same time as the 12MP nikonD3.

I was wondering do you ever use split view on the d810.. for finding the right compromise it works quite well.. (also when you use tilt).

Your coverage of the sigma art 85+ this 19mm PCE is enough to make my contribution for DAP the right choice.

It also was much appreciated that you put the Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4 in for comparing the Sigma Art.

DIGLLOYD: the Nikon 24mm f/3.5 PC-E is a poor performer. The entire Nikon PC-E line is badly in need of an upgrade to the quality level (optical and mechanical) of the Nikon 19/3.5 PC-E. Ditto for /dap.CanonTSE17Canon TS-E lenses at 45mm and 90mm.

Nikon D810 split view: I never learned to use this, but I ought to, it seems. Good reminder.

Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4: as a rule I do not cross post, because it fundamentally undermines the viability of my business. But for this case I had to have a superior reference lens to show the relative performance. I really must have at least some solid percentage of subscribers at the “everything” level to remain in business, so I cannot do such things often. Any active subscriber can upgrade to “everything” (except software) for $200/year.

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

Water Safety: Steripen Deal vs MSR Guardian, Life Straw

I wrote an in-depth review of the MSR Guardian water purifier last summer. Since then I’ve consumed about 150 liters of water pumped from streams and lakes, out of its rated life of 10,000 liters. It is a full-on water purifier which removes bacteria, protozoa and viruses.

On sale today at half price at B&H Deal Zone is the SteriPEN Classic 3 UV Water Purifier.

While the MSR Guardian is superb (see my video on my review page on how it is used), I’ve ordered a SteriPen to try out (never used before so I cannot speak to its efficacy from personal experience as yet), because it is much more compact, and sometimes my North Face Recon daypack is stuffed so full of gear that I cannot carry the MSR Guardian.

David C:

I am curious about one of the company’s claims: that it removes viruses. have you seen a review anywhere that confirmed that claim by actually testing it? if yes could you please send me the link? I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but it’s a big claim and a big part of justifying the price.

DIGLLOYD: the claim is misleading in this sense: the SteriPEN removes nothing. Rather, it kills the nasties with UV light. I had a conversation with a reader some months ago, this reader having used it extensively and he is confident that it kills the nasties quite effectively, including viruses.

Personally I would much rather use a true water purifier (not “filter”) like the MSR Guardian water purifier because it not only removes bacteria, protozoa and viruses, but also removes crud: sediment, mosquito larvae and whatever else might be in the water. The issue is that the MSR Guardian weighs a pound and is the size of a 1L Evian water bottle, so it is often problematic to squeeze into my pack and I have gone (very) thirsty on some all day hikes when I did not bring along two full liters of water (one liter is never enough in the high country).

A water filter option is the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. It is very compact and weighs hardly anything. I have one, but I have not used it as yet. And it does not remove viruse, which is probably not an issue in the high Sierra, but would be an issue with poor water quality in some areas.

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

2016 MacBook Pro: Cannot Sustain Performance Under Load

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

While testing the 2016 MacBook Pro, a consistent pattern of declining performance was observed. For example, with 10 iterations of of the Photoshop sharpening test, the 2016 MacBook Pro declined in performance by 23%. No such decline was seen on the iMac 5K or 2013 Mac Pro.

This differential helps explain why the 2016 MacBook Pro is slower than the 2013 MacBook Pro on the Lightroom import test.

2016 MacBook Pro: Cannot Sustain Performance

This finding may be of keen interest to anyone processing video or importing into Lightroom or any task that incurs a sustained load.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: Photoshop Filters

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. MPG gets credit if you buy through those links.

Following up on the other Photoshop and Lightroom tests, this set of tests offers a detailed look as to how the 2016 MacBook Pro fares with respect to its desktop peers and the 2013 MacBook Pro when there are no memory constraints.

2016 MacBook Pro: Photoshop Filters

The late 2015 iMac 5K and 2013 Mac Pro are leaps and bounds ahead of the laptops.

2016 MacBook Pro vs other Macs: Photoshop filters
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Finding a Deal, FAST

Consider the following buying challenges.

I’ve reworked my deals pages.

In an instant, you can find deals by brand or by category and filter by percent discount. Give it a try, and thanks for buying through the links on this site, so I get credit.

Click on the percent savings to instantly require a savings minimum. Choose by brand or by categories I’ve curated specifically for photographers.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Want a Fast Lens for Micro Four Thirds? HandeVision IBELUX 40mm f/0.85 is 71% Off

This is about as fast as it gets, though f/0.85 on Micro Four Thirds is equivalent to f/1.7 on full frame, in depth of field terms.

At about $549 (a whopping $1350 off), it might be a fun buy for the M4/3 shooter. Limited supply at this price according to B&H.

Handevision IBELUX 40mm f/0.85 Lens for Micro Four Thirds Mount
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

2016 MacBook Pro TESTED: Lightroom Import RAW Files

Mac wish list •  all 2016 MacBook pro models at B&H Photo • all 15" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models •  all 13" Apple MacBook Pro 2016 models. Lloyd gets credit if you buy through site links.

See my in-depth coverage of the 2016 MacBook Pro at MacPerformanceGuide.com.

Disappointing on two counts: the 2016 MacBook pro and Adobe’s algorithms:

2016 MacBook Pro: Adobe Lightroom Import RAW Files with 1:1 Previews

Between the minimal or negative improvements with Photoshop and this inferior performance with Lightroom, the 2016 MacBook Pro surely deserves being sent back to its maker.

2016 MacBook Pro: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Import 52 Canon 5DS R 50-megapixel raw files with 1:1 high quality previews
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Hasselblad X1D-50C: Delayed Again

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list at B&H Photo.

If you order the X1D, please use my link so I get credit. B&H is loaning me the X1D, and so readers ordering through my links are important.

See also Hasselblad X1D-50C: Reader Comments and Hasselblad X1D-50C: 50-Megapixel Mirrorless Medium Format.

Delayed 2+ months back in September, the Hasselblad X1D is now delayed again (verified through my contacts at B&H Photo as of today). I’m actually glad for this, since I have too many other items to deal with right now (Nikon 19mm, Nikon 70-200, Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8).

Who the heck does Hasselblad they think they are, Leica? “Hassleblad” for those who have pre-ordered. But better to work the bugs out and do it right than ship prematurely as Leica does.

Fujifilm has wisely not promised anything more than a vague availability date for the Fujifilm GFX. But the way things are going, maybe Fujifilm will beat Hasselblad to market.

This whole “announce and ship someday” stuff is an ill-advised practice, and it shows poor planning and unrealistic leadership. Working in the software industry as an engineer for 25 years, I saw it all the time—so obvious and yet the people in charge are generally clueless, wishing for milk and honey to spout from rocks, so to speak.

Hasselblad X1D-50C shipping status 01 Dec 2016
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Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Photoshop + Lightroom for a Year for $88

I see $10 a month for Photoshop and Lightroom as a bargain for any professional.

Today only, Photoshop and Lightroom CC 12 month subscription is only $88.95, which is $7.41 a month. Compared to my cell phone bill, it is less than the tax.

Deal ends at midnight tonight, EST.

...

It neatly solves another nuisance for me: one purchase, vs the monthly $9.99 charge, each of which I have to enter in my accounting program to balance the books. As I have two subscriptions, that’s 24 annoying entries per year. I called Adobe and they refused to allow billing on a year basis.

So now I can pay once, save $31 X 2 = $62 and make only two accounting entries per year.

Update: gah! There is a limit of one (1) purchase only (I tried!):

Please note: You have exceeded the limit for ADCCPP12MS-Creative Cloud Photography Plan (12 Month Subscription, Download). You currently cannot purchase additional quantity. The item has been removed from you cart

Here’s how it works:

  1. Purchase at B&H Photo. An email like the one below will be sent.
  2. Login to existing Adobe account (if any); cancel current membership.
  3. Logout of Adobe account
  4. Click the redeem link and enter code.

Voila—a year of the plan at reduced cost.

Electronic download info for Adobe Creative Cloud

Mark C writes:

This seemed like a good deal, so I went ahead and bought one myself. When I cancelled my existing plan, however, Adobe stated I would be charged $54.95 as a cancellation penalty. That’s 50% of the $119/year cost of the photography plan. I did go ahead and cancel and then added the newly purchased plan via the redemption code. That all worked, but I was still on the hook for the fee.

I had to call Adobe, and the guy had to talk with his supervisor. In the end, they credited me back the fee, but it was a hassle. They started out saying it was in my “contact” for the yearly membership, etc.

Just wanted to let you know there may be others that run into this scenario.

Regardless, thanks for the heads-up on the deal.

DIGLLOYD: Interesting... I was on a month to month $9.99 plan and no mention was made of any cancellation fee when I cancelled. Sounds like a criminal (used loosely) policy by Adobe.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Camera Repair in Taiwan

Just passing this along as FYI for anyone in that neck of the woods.

Bryan S writes:

Thank you for the '2013 Camera Repair in Taiwan' post. I know it's been a few years but it is still helping. The shop fixed my Lumix at low cost and in just a few days.

DIGLLOYD: it’s nice to know such posts are useful. Prior post from 2013, with contact info for the shop.

Michael G writes in his 2013 post:

I'm in Taiwan this week for Computex. I brought along the Canon 7D that I just purchased. I got it second-hand and saved a bundle. But when I looked at some of my photos, I noticed a smudge in all of them! I used the sensor cleaning system with no luck... but when I locked up the mirror, I could see the smudge right on the sensor.

Is it dirt, dust or... did the guy sell me a camera with a broken sensor?

When I googled Taipei camera repair, nothing useful came up. I went to the camera area and found it by luck. I first went into a normal camera store. They blew in compressed air, without any luck. I then came across the "real" repair place by accident.

Luckily, I found the Quan Tai Camera Repair shop, at Number 60, BoAi Road, Taipei. It's easy to miss this shop... it's a hole in the wall on a street filled with large camera stores. (BoAi is the camera neighborhood in Taipei). When I walked in, I knew I was in the right place, because there were two techs repairing cameras, and one of them was deep inside a Hasselblad. I knew a Hasselblad owner wouldn't trust just anyone to repair his camera.

Sure enough, 30 minutes and $20 later, my sensor was de-smudged and dust-free. So there you go... if you're ever in Taiwan with a broken camera, Quan Tai is the place to go.

DIGLLOYD: well, it’s not exactly a repair in the mechanical sense, but comes pretty close.

Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

My Workhorse Display Just Dropped to $1649 (NEC PA302W)

The NEC PA302W just dropped $500 (although it says $100, that's because it dropped to a lower price then $100 instant rebate on top) and is now available at an outstanding price of $1649 with the SpectraView II color calibration software and hardware.

The PA302W GB-R LED backlighting affords an incredible gamut and outstanding grayscale neutrality—better 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.

See my reviews of NEC wide gamut displays.

NEC PA302W wide gamut display
MacPerformanceGuide.com

Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E: First Impressions

See my wish lists at B&H Photo including my Nikon wish list.

See reviews of tilt/shift lenses in DAP and my October overview of Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E.

The price of $3396 is not for the faint-hearted, but it speaks to the unusually strong efforts that Nikon has made with the 19mm f/4 PC-Nikkor.

My first (and so far very limited) impression is that this is by far the best PC-E lens Nikon has ever delivered, as one should expect from the nearly double price.

For example, below is an actual pixels crop from the short end of the frame at full 12mm shift. The sharpness and the freedom from color fringing at this extreme are both unprecedented for a Nikon PC-E lens. It seems (to be proven out) that this performance is superior to any tilt/shift lens from Canon or Nikon or any other vendor. If that proposition pans out, then the Nikon 19mm f/4 PC-E may be one of those lenses that one buys a camera for as an accessory.

My review of the the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC-E is coming to DAP.

Update 30 Nov: pouring rain today, so I’m not going to be able to shoot outdoors at all.

Note: on Retina/HiDPI screens this crop may look blurred because it is pixel doubled. Click to view at actual pixels.

Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E: actual pixels crop from the short end of the frame at full 12mm shift
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Nikon PC Nikkor 19mm f/4E ED PC-E
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Budget Macs

For the biggest savings, OWC sells used Macs as well as factory sealed Apple refurbished Macs with full 1 year warranty. For example:

B&H Photo has Mac deals and AppleCare deals. Several budget choices below.

Expiring today Nov 30: 30 Apple Deals.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Shootout: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art vs Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4 (Siemens Chart, Nikon D810)

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and Zeiss Milvus at B&H Photo.

The Lundy Beaver Ponds and Snowy Spur of Mt Conness series both showed disappointing performance with the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.

One can make the “bad sample” argument. Accordingly, I obtained another copy of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM (brand new also), and pitted both against the Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 on a Zeiss Siemens chart at close range, to see if the results would echo the field shootout findings.

...

This shootout compares two samples of the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art to the Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 on a Siemens star chart.

  • Sample #1 of the Sigma 85/1.4 is the lens used for the November 2016 three-way shootouts and examples; it was brand-new out of the box for that work.
  • Sample #2 of the Sigma 85/1.4 was brand new out of the box and never shot prior to this test.
  • The Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 was about a year old, and has seen field use over that time.

Shootout: Sigma 85/1.4A (Two Samples) vs Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4 (Seimens Chart, Nikon D810)

One center crop from f/1.4 through f/4 for all three lenses makes a compelling confirmation.

   
Zeiss Milvus 85/1.4, Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Our trusted photo rental store

LED light deals

See my reviews of LED lights.

For $199 with free shipping this is a killer deal at 60% OFF. I just ordered one. Flash deal ends at 13:00 PST, act soon! DEAL OVER

Update: the 60 watt version (twice as wide) is on for a 2 hour flash sale until 4 PM PST. DEAL OVER

Another deal: $505 off Dracast LED1000 Silver Series Foldable Bi-Color LED Light .

The Cineo Matchbox (see my review) with remote phosphor was one of my favorites.

View all LED lights with CRI of 95 or better sorted from high to low price or from lowest price to highest price.

Dracast LED1000 Silver Series Foldable Bi-Color LED Light
OWC Easy SSD Upgrade Guide
MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
iMac, Mac Pro, MacMini, more!

My Articles on the Zeiss Lenspire Site

I’ve published a number of articles over the past year on the Zeiss Lenspire site.

Published today is Macro and Close-up Shooting, Especially Outdoors.

Other articles at lenspire.zeiss.com:

These articles are also available here on this site.

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Sunlight on the Beaver Pond (Nikon D810)

Get Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art and Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo.

See my reviews of Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and more.

This aperture series from f/4 through f/11 shows how well the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art handles flare into a direct intense light source along with bright clouds and deeply shadowed areas.

 
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art

The ability to maintain contrast (minimize flare) is critical in such situations so that shadow areas can be opened up with detail, but not haze. It is particularly important with a camera like the Nikon D810 at ISO 64, because the camera has a tremendous dynamic range—the lens has to not limit that dynamic range (the Canon 5DS R would have been in trouble on this image)

Also treated here are field curvature and focus shift. The example is highly instructive and should prove very useful for anyone shooting the Sigma 12-24/4A.

In my review of the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art in DAP:

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Sunlight on the Beaver Pond

Includes images up to 28 megapixels along with many large crops, all from f/4 through f/11.

Especially at 36MP on up, the photographer must place focus wisely for the subject matter, not just the “1/3 in” rule and not even just the near/far relationships, but also anticipating and compensating for a lens with focus shift and field curvature, which requires special care based on the shooting aperture.

Sunlight on the Lundy Canyon Beaver Pond
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ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Really Right Stuff: Free Shipping for a Few Days + a Price Increase

When I go shooting, Really Right Stuff tripods are what I count on. While I manage to shake loose a part or two every six months or so (the rubber screw-in feet for example), the tripod are rock solid and the service is outstanding.

Update: B&H Photo now carries some Really Right Stuff products.

My favorite tripod for all around use is the TVC-24L, that is, if I have to carry a tripod for miles, it is just right. I actually prefer shooting with the TVC-34L even more, but I don’t like the 'carry' aspect. The "L" versions are very important to working in steep terrain, since the extra leg length may be mandatory.

Really Right Stuff TVC-34L
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.

Cyber Monday Deals

Thank you for using my links. Just click through any link on my site and I get credit for everything that goes into your cart once on that site in that session.

Availability and time frame for special pricing may be limited in some cases—don’t delay.

Callouts

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III Examples: Lundy Canyon Area (Canon 5DS R)

These examples include a mix of single frames and focus stacked images intended to show off the potential of the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L IIIfor landscape work.

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III: Lundy Lake and Meadows

Includes images up to 28-megapixels.

Images are striking on the late 2015 iMac 5K.

Below, fog from Mono Lake dissipates over the mountain tops as a violent wind whips the late fall foliage.

 
Lundy Creek
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Wet Aspen Trunks After Rainstorm, Lee Vining Canyon
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Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Two Aspen (Nikon D810)

 
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art

Get Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art and Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at B&H Photo.

See my reviews of Sigma DG HSM Art lenses at 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and more.

This aperture series from f/4 through f/11 is an an exceptional demonstration of wild and whacky field curvature and focus shift, yet with outstanding image quality if one is willing to accept and work with these behaviors in the field. Tips for field use follow in the conclusions.

Depth of field tables are useless fantasy for a lens like the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art. Image quality in practice depends strongly on focus placement in a scene and how that is optimal for the subject matter, which must also take lens behavior into account.

In my review of the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art in DAP:

Sigma 12-24mm f/4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series: Two Aspen

Includes images up to 28 megapixels along with many large crops, all from f/4 through f/11.

Especially at 36MP on up, the photographer must place focus wisely for the subject matter, not just the “1/3 in” rule and not even just the near/far relationships, but also anticipating and compensating for a lens with focus shift and field curvature, which requires special care based on the shooting aperture.

Two Aspen with View of Lundy Canyon and Peaks
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Black Friday Specials, Links (updated @ 16:50 PST Nov 26)

See also all my B&H Photo wish lists.

Thank you for using my links.

Just click through any link on my site and I get credit for everything that goes into your cart once on that site in that session.

Prices and availability may be limited to hours in some cases — don’t delay.

OWC computer deals

See a long list of OWC Black Friday specials.

Apple and computer deals:

Callouts:

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

Destroying to Make the Picture

The very popular Lundy Canyon is suffering a scourge of too much visitation.

I’m aghast. This tree and several others were broken off like this for no other reason than to make a picture; they are not in the way of anything like a path, but are broken off to clear the view—as is obvious standing there for the line of sight. Someone simply broke down what was “in the way”. The offense is petty, and yet it is not: anyone willing to do this in a high traffic area deserves condemnation. Even in a low traffic area, there can be no argument for breaking off a young tree like this to make a shot. Even a clean cut would have showed more care.

Anyone who damages what they are photographing like this is a vandal, pure and simple. No matter how good technically or artistically the resulting image might be, it irrevocably becomes an act of destruction and vandalism that obliterates any value it might have.

The Lundy meadows are also being trampled down badly. Cars have now mashed-down reeds and grasses nearly to water’s edge in places. Foot traffic has pounded down deep paths anywhere near the road there is non-soggy footing (as well as areas on the main trail). And then was that chaperoned group of teenagers stomping up and down on the beaver dam last year. Gah!

This wide gamut of this type of stupidly destructive behavior is why I am adamantly against posting GPS coordinates, with virtually no exceptions making sense, because it only takes one jackass to ruin something. Any anyone lacking the spirit of exploration has no business being in the wilderness anyway. GPS coordinates are a recipe for destruction of sensitive places, even if the intent is not otherwise ill (think trampling fragile areas). I loathe the Sierra Club, which brought 30-40 visitors in one large group into one of my favorite canyons about six years ago—one I have visited for 30 years—I have watched the creekside degradation accelerate year over year.

Landscape Vandalism in Lundy Canyon
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Castor canadensis makes clean cuts at least. But beware of walking through waist-high summer foliage, or these sorts of cuts at knee to groin height could impale and kill.

Landscape Vandalism in Lundy Canyon
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James G writes:

I agree wholeheartedly that we often “love" our wild places to death. While, for my part, I want to see more people (most of all my kids) get off the couch and get outdoors we need to foster the same respect in our natural places that we expect in our private and public spaces - our homes, shops, schools, etc.

One note to other photographers that might help - I carry a couple of long bungee cords and some lightweight nylon cord with me when out in the wild for the purpose of holding or pulling back an intrusive tree or bush branch being careful not to tweak anymore than is necessary in the interest of the plant. One end goes on the plant and the other end to my camera backpack. If it looks like it’s not in the plant’s best interest, I try a different composition or move on.

DIGLLOYD: one solution. But anyone willing to break off trees is not likely to pause to consider it.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

TESTED: OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD

Get OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini and OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID Edition at MacSales.com.

Following up on yesterday’s overview of OWC 40TB Thunderbay 4 Mini SSD, here is performance.

There looks to be cruising room here for 4K raw video capture. Or any hyper demanding task for writes and even better for reads.

Read more about the OWC 40TB SSD...

Tested using disktester fill-volume --xfer 128M with diglloydTools disktester

Write @ 1137 MiB/sec = 1192 MB/sec, Read @ 1359 MiB/sec = 1425 MB/sec
Test size 37.0 GiB = 39.37 GB in 1000 37.0 GiB files

 
SoftRAID showing a 40TB RAID-0 stripe SSD in OWC Thunderbay 4 MIni

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Aperture Series: Aspen Closeup (Sony A7R II)

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar

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

Get the new Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Sonnar at B&H Photo.

The Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 is put to a classic portrait test, albeit with a cooperative aspen tree, except that it swayed in the vigorous wind a bit.

I’ve elected to present this image in black and white because there are no significant color errors to report, but mainly because the lighting in color is less interesting than the ability to control the contrast and tonal range and to bring out the very fine details in the tree trunk. What caught my eye was indeed the shapes of the two key trees in this image.

Zeiss Loxia 85mm f/2.4 Aperture Series: Aspen Closeup (Sony A7R II)

Includes images up to 28 megapixels and large crops, from f/2.4 through f/11 for all.

 

Two Aspen
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OWC Black Friday Specials

OWC says:

  • Shipping is free on most everything $49 and up and can ship up to 8PM at night, shipping Friday, Shipping Saturdays too. We’re there for those last minute ‘rush’ orders when you need us! International Delivery Specials from $2.99.
  • Special Purolator Courier to Canada only $9.95 on $99 & up + FREE on orders $500 & up

Featured Black Friday Deals now up on this page.

The full list found here.

We have boatloads of deals up now… and more will be going live after 6PM as well. But these are a large segment.

Product highlights - things already going fast:

**Bonus Round**

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B&H Photo Black Friday Deals Start Tonight at 21:01 Pacific Time (12:01 Eastern)