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

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

Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4

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

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

Review of Fujifilm GFX system

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

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

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

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New Deals on MacBook Pro, Mac Mini

See my review of the late 2016 MacBook Pro Retina.

See also OWC deals on used Macs.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Review of Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Slumming

With full apologies to Fujifilm (it’s not fair I suppose and will light up the Fujifilm message boards), but this made me laugh, I do not disagree, and I think it hits a nail on the head that cannot be unhit:

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

Choosing a camera is personal in some ways, and so the above comment is relevant or irrelevant on a personal basis. I find it highly relevant.

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Hasselblad Appoints Ming Thein as Chief of Strategy

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

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

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

Ming Thein

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Bram, Hasselblad CEO, said:

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

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

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

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

Review of Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4

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

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

 

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

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

Now updated with five additional examples:

Hasselblad X1D Autofocus Accuracy, Examples

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

Hasselblad X1D Highlight Discrimination and Nuanced Detail Example: Mission Mural

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

Hasselblad X1D: Distinguishing Nuanced Detail (Mission Painting)

Includes images up to full resolution.

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

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

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

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John G writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D in Medium Format:

Hasselblad X1D Autofocus Accuracy, Examples

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

Hasselblad X1D

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

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

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

Howard C writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also Really Right Stuff posts of all kinds.

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

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

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

Really Right Stuff PG-02 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

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

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

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

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

See also all Really Right Stuff pano-gimbal gear.

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

Really Right Stuff PG-01 LLR Pano-Gimbal Head

Really Right Stuff
MPR CL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carrizo Plain Flower Status, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument
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Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
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Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS Lens

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

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

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

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

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

Hasselblad X1D vs Fujifilm GFX vs Standing Pat: Buying Advice

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

Early Season Trout at Cachuma Lake

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

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

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

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

See also 2016: The Year in Trout.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Histogram from as-metered image, Hasselblad X1D
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Irix Lenses for Canon, Nikon, Pentax K

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

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

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

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

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

....

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

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

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

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

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

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

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UPDATED: Hasselblad X1D ISO Series from 100 to 25600

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

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

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

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

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

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

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

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

Fujifilm 120mm f/4 Macro Aperture Series: Mosaic

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

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

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

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

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

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Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Mostly from those having bought and using the GFX.

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

Reader Comments on Fujifilm GFX System, With Responses

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

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

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

I suggest reading my initial experience report after the above:

Fujifilm GFX Initial Experience

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

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

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

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

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

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

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MacPerformanceGuide.com

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

I have found that focus shift confuses people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sure to view at 1080p.

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

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BH Photo Outdoor Gear Closeout Sale 50% Off

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

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

B&H Photo closeout sale on outdoor gear at 50% off
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

A plain, but immensely instructive evaluation scene.

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Sharpening Amount with Adobe Camera Raw

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Storage Wishlist…

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Adobe Camera Raw 9.9.0 now supports the Fujifilm GFX.

Fujifilm GFX Continuous Shooting Bug

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

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

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

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

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

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

World of Sigma and especially Sigma ART Lenses

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

OWC has just started shipping the Accelsior Q PCIe SSD:

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

What an ordeal with the Fujifiilm GFX 50s.

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

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

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

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

Sun Halo through high thin clouds
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Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
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Fujifilm GFX 50s: Initial Impressions and Defective Camera (?) Stuck on Continuous Shooting Mode

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

Fujifilm GFX 50S: Initial Experience

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike G writes:

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

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

Robert H writes:

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

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

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

Stephen S writes:

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

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

Dan M writes:

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

...

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

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

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

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

Maciej F writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Christopher L writes:

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

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

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

Jason W writes:

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

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

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

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

Staale writes:

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

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

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

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

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

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

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

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

The Tressider Union scene shows some strange behavior.

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Fujifilm GFX 50s: Enroute for Testing

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Update: arrived.

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

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

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

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

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

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

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

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

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

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

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

Timothy S writes (March 3rd):

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

Source: Just received my production GFX this morning.

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

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

Craig E writes:

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

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

Michael Erlewine writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

John G writes:

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

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

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

Weekly Hand-picked deals at B&H Photo

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

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

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

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

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

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

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

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

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

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

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

Hasselblad X1D Dynamic Range Example: Shadow Boost (SUV)

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

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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.

Nikon mount

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

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

  • Voigtlander Color-Skopar 28mm f2.8 SL II with lens hood LNIB $550.
  • Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL II with lens hood LNIB $340.
  • Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G LNIB $450
  • Nikon 45mm f/2.8 ED PC-E Micro Nikkor $1299. Shows some wear, but perfect glass and mechanical.
  • Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G $250
  • Nikon AF-S 85m f/1.4G $1050
  • Nikon AF-S 105mm f2.8 ED VR macro $600
  • Nikon AF 105mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $925 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 21mm f/2.8 Distagon $1150
  • Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2 Distagon $825
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar $1425 (particularly outstanding copy with superb symmetry at distance)

Canon mount

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

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

Olympus

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

Leica

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

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

Rodenstock and Schneider view camera lenses

All on Linhof Technikardan lens boards, copal shutters.

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

Cambo Actus Mini View Camera for Fujifilm GFX 50s

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

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

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

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

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

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

As per the Cambo web site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cambo ACTUS shown with optional lenses and optional camera body.

The basic configuration of a Cambo ACTUS-GFX consists of a monorail, front assembly without lensplate, a rear frame with GFX camera bayonet and a detachable standard bellows which is part of the ACTUS configuration.

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

Michael Erlewine writes:

I did find out more about the new Actus. It is not a new whole rig, but some replacement parts, one for the front and one for the rear. There is also a $200+ bayonet for Nikon, so you now can switch between GFX and Nikon with no screw removal, just a switch. That sounds good to me.

DIGLLOYD: more convenient than ever before.

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Did Not Ship From B&H Today (for me and another)

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

Quick update—

Fujifilm GFX had expected availability of Feb 28, but my order did not ship today from B&H Photo, nor did that of a friend who ordered early.

UPDATE: as of March 1st 10:00 PST, the Fujifilm EVF-TL1 EVF Tilt Adapter is IN STOCK.

CG writes:

Just wanted you to know that I will receive my GFX tomorrow. It will include 3 lenses so they are just starting to ship but likely in very small quantities. My dealer said he had 15 on order but only received one.

DIGLLOYD: I expect that the size of the medium format market will quadruple this year, in terms of unit volume, for good reason.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
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What Zeiss Has Not Done, Hasselblad in effect Has Nailed: Relatively 'Slow' Lenses for High-Grade Performance and Portability

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Back in 2015 I wrote the The Irrational Aim of f/1.4 Lenses as the culmination of many prior comments in previous blog posts. I wrote:

But in the main, size and weight of f/1.4 lenses are unfriendly at best. Why this irrational and self-defeating aim towards all these compromises just for f/1.4? To gain a stop or two while degrading all else when most purposes are best achieved with stopping down?

The market cries out for better-than-Otus quality in f/2.8 designs. The heck with f/1.4! I want lenses the size of the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 which perform as good or better than Zeiss Otus. This is achievable, and at much lower cost than Zeiss Otus.

When will Sigma, Nikon, Canon, Sony, Zeiss realize that the market for ultra high performance f/2.8 lenses is large and unserved?

In effect, Hasselblad has delivered exactly what I was talking about, but on a larger sensor. The format-equivalent f-stop for Hasselblad XCD f/3.5 lenses is f/2.9 ~= f/2.8. Which is exactly what I had in mind for the 35mm format when I wrote the above.

If one can stomach the cost, it’s clear that the vision I’ve had for years of very high performance lenses on a very high performance sensor has now been realized. I am hopeful that the same will be true of the Fujifilm GFX performance.

None of Zeiss or Sigma or Nikon or Canon or Leica have seen the light. And now that the market has turned on them (collapse of the DSLR market, Leica’s failure of vision), the struggle back will be far more difficult than it would have been a few years ago. I fear most for Zeiss, for not taking steps to implement some form of the vision that Ming Thein and I communicated together in person at the highest levels 18 months ago. One has to say that Sigma has taken up the banner of aggressive lens development—now if Sigma can just get over the f/1.4 hangup.

Why bother with 35mm when medium format is aggressively moving forward, and perhaps Sony and/or Ricoh might throw their hats into the ring too? Medium format is the new full frame. Yes I know there are still many special areas that require the flexibility of a Canon or Nikon lens line and AF system. That’s just the problem—for Nikon and Canon sales, and their high-end shooters—turning yourself into a niche player by strategic bungling incompetence is a sorry road, but at least Nikon is realizing the wanton self-immolation of it, as recent press releases sadly demonstrate.

If the price can be stomached, there are now two medium format systems on the market both of which cut down my pack-load (vs DSLR + Zeiss Otus). While I love Zeiss Otus lenses, and Zeiss Loxia are wonderful, I’m thinking that Hasselblad and/or Fujifilm are looking awfully attractive in terms of DUMPING the 35mm FORMAT for many uses, particularly if Hasselblad gets some work done on firmware improvements and Fujifilm lens quality is what I hope for. The Hasselblad XCD lens line will be complete from my POV by year’s end, and I expect Fujifilm will get there in a similar time frame. Game over for CaNikon for the way I shoot.

Subscribe to diglloyd Medium Format area for full coverage of medium format cameras.

Put another way: why would I buy another huge and heavy Zeiss Otus given the sorry state of CaNikon when I could put that money into a Hasselblad or Fujifilm medium format system with smaller and lighter lenses instead? And get an Olympus E-M1 II for all-around shooting with its amazing autofocus and image stabilization and 4K video? Or use Sony with Zeiss Batis/Loxia as a 2nd system.

Wwhat I want is better than Zeiss Otus quality in an f/2.8 lens: flat field, fluorite-like color correction, no focus shift, and stopping down is purely for depth of field, not for image quality reasons. The Hasselblad XCD lenses don’t qualify on all these metrics, nor do Zeiss Otus or Loxia or Batis. On the 35mm format, losing 2 stops (f/1.4 to f/2.8) should be able to deliver such quality at a price and significantly lower than than the Otus line, particularly if Sigma were to get rolling on a “Compact Art” series.

The question is, which medium format system is better for my use? (and the use of my readers). That question will consume most of my time for the next month or so, because just like my readers, affording one system is pretty tough, let alone two. I want to make the best choice for myself, while making sure the evaluations and field use experience is highly relevant for my readers in making the same decision.

It should be a VERY interesting year in all areas. A year of wrenching change for camera and lens vendors, for sure.

Philip S writes:

I am in complete agreement with you about the desirability of relatively slow, high quality lenses. Many photographers are not well-served by lens makers’ obsession with f/1.4 as some sort of gold standard. That said, I think Zeiss deserves a bit more credit than you are giving them, at least as far as FF E-mount is concerned. I’m thinking specifically of the Batis line, which from what you and others have written, seem to be pretty darn good lenses. I’ll use Sigma for comparison:

Batis 2.8/18 330g
Sigma 1.4/20 Art 950g

Batis 2/25 335g
Sigma 1.4/24 Art 665g

Batis 1.8/85 452g
Sigma 1.4/85 Art 1130g

The Batis are 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of the f/1.4 Sigma Art equivalents. True, f/1.8 is not particularly slow, but the weight savings with the Batis 85mm are huge compared to the top-of-the-line 85mm f/1.4 lenses.

A Batis 135mm is rumored to be imminent. If Zeiss is following a plan of slower-and-lighter, I’m guessing max aperture will be no faster than f/2.8. Which I suppose isn’t all that slow for 135mm, so maybe it will be slower, say f/3.2 or f/3.5.

DIGLLOYD: yes, Zeiss Batis line is lightweight, and the Loxia line is similar weight yet more compact—even better for field use. But they of course require shooting Sony. Sony image quality is too “cooked” for my taste versus a Nikon D810 or medium format. Still, a new camera might change that equation and when I have to hike long or hard, the Sony with Batis and Loxia are my rig of choice at present.

When Nikon debuts a mirrorless lineup, we will be stuck with large and heavy lenses if the camera(s) use the existing F-mount (a big plus for existing users). Ideally it would be a short backfocus new mount, but with supplied high quality lens adapter for Nikon F-mount lenses included. Then Zeiss could design all-new lenses (maybe even adapting Batis and Loxia designs) to the native mirrorless backfocal distance without the constraints of the DSLR mirror box.

SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Announced: Four New XCD Lenses for the Hasselblad X1D Over Next 12 Months

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Hasselblad XCD 120mm f/3.5 macro

The Fujifilm GFX is due for first shipments in the USA today. Apparently Hasselblad wanted to celebrate the day by announcing four new lenses, for a total of seven lenses—quite impressive for a new system (Leica is still working on 2.5 lenses for the Leica SL, which is well into its 2nd year).

This brings the announced plans for Hasselblad to 4 primes and one macro prime and one zoom (7 lenses total), versus 3 primes and one macro prime and one zoom for Fujifilm (6 lenses total). Fujifilm has a 23mm coming, putting both systems squarely into ultra wide angle territory. What I’d love to see is the equivalent of the Canon 11-24mm f/4L.

XCD 120mm f/3.5    ~=  98.6mm f/2.9
XCD 90mm f/3.2     ~=  74mm f/2.9
XCD 65mm f/tbd     ~=  53.4mm f/tbd
XCD 45mm f/3.5     ~=  37mm f/2.9
XCD 35-75mm f/tbd  ~=  28.8 - 61.6mm f/tbd
XCD 30mm f/3.5     ~=  24.7mm f/2.9
XCD 22mm f/tbd     ~=  18mm f/tbd

See my review of the Hasselblad X1D, including Hasselblad X1D Format Equivalent Focal Length, Depth of Field.

I expect that the new Hasselblad XCD 120/3.5 should be an outstanding performer. “Flat frame image” presumably means no significant field curvature. The prose implies high performance at distance also, which is a huge plus for field work.

Hasselblad announces four new XCD lenses for the X1D

Combining Compact Format with the Highest Optical Quality

Following the hugely successful launch of the ground-breaking X1D in 2016, Hasselblad is delighted to introduce four new XCD lenses. The XCD 120mm Macro lens is the first to complement the existing XCD lens family, and will be available at the end of June 2017.

The exceptionally high performing 120mm f/3.5 lens brings together the compact format of the XCD range with the maximum optical quality across the frame with a flat image field. Providing a new versatility to the X1D user, the lens is suitable for both close-up work up to a 1:2 image scale, and also as a mid-range telephoto lens for portrait or other photography requiring a longer focal length. Auto or manual focusing goes from infinity to 1:2 without the need for extension tubes.

Like the other XCD lenses, XCD 120mm Macro lens has an integral central shutter offering a wide range of shutter speeds and full flash synchronisation up to 1/2000th second.

Hasselblad Product Manager, Ove Bengtson commented: “The XCD 120mm Macro lens complements the existing XCD dedicated autofocus lenses which were developed to support optical quality and portability. This is the first addition to the X1D range of lenses in 2017 and we are excited to launch more lenses later in the year.”

Over the next 12 months, Hasselblad will also launch the XCD 35-75mm Zoom*, XCD 65mm*, and XCD 22mm Wide Angle* lenses. By the beginning of 2018, the X1D will have access to seven dedicated XCD lenses and all twelve HC/HCD lenses using the XH lens adapter.

* Detailed XCD specifications to be announced later this year. Specifications are subject to change.

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Shooting with Different Aspect Ratios

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Dave W writes with questions related to aspect ratios:

Like many, I'm very interested in the new mirrorless medium format cameras by Fuji and Hasselblad. Providing they are as good of a system we all hope they will be, there is one feature that I'm most curious about.

Could you please shoot examples and discuss the various formats that each camera can offer? How many MP in each format? What focal length does each lens turn into on each format? How good of an image will these systems produce in 6x17 format?

Will they capture and print an image as good as the Fuji or Linhof 6x17 film cameras? I don't stitch, but have always wanted to capture panoramic images on location in one shot.

In my review of the Fujifilm GFX, I share my thoughts on shooting with the different built-in aspect ratios.

Fujifilm GFX Shooting Formats / Aspect Ratios

Fujifilm GFX Format Equivalent Focal Length and Depth of Field

Worth noting is that I think I can make a better and far more flexible panoramic image with an iPhone 7s in pano mode than my Linhof Technorama 617s III could, at least under lighting the allows me to handhold it.

Diagram below derived from the Fujifilm GFX pdf.

Fujifilm GFX aspect ratios available for shooting
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SSD Wishlist…

MTF for Fujifilm GFX GF Lenses

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

I was reading the Fujifilm GFX pdf and had to laugh at the MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) charts, which at best show just a general “shape” of what performance might be like, a sort of vague hint. I just cannot understand the point of even including nearly meaningless graphs. Do it right, or remove them, Fujifilm:

  • unspecified aperture
  • unspecified spectral weighting
  • unspecified line pairs per millimeter
  • unspecified distance (infinity, 1:20, macro range, whatever).
  • Whether MTF as computed includes software correction.

All these graphs claim to outperform (by far) every lens Zeiss has ever made (Zeiss publishes MTF measured from real lenses, using the K8 MTF tester). Including vastly outperforming every Zeiss Otus, the Coastal 60/4, etc.

The charts shown by Fujifilm are obviously computed (not measured) as well as diffraction-free graphs—fantasy MTF. Why not just give the lenses a number rating on a 1 to 10 scale, and just say “all our lenses are an unbeatable perfect 10!”.

Image circle radius = 27.4mm = sqrt( 43.8^2 + 32.9^2 )/2

I look forward to seeing what real lenses on a real camera actually deliver.

Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR

Assuming a reasonable aperture like f/5.6, there looks to be somewhat-weak corner performance, possibly with a tiny bit of lateral color. Field flatness (field curvature) looks better than any Zeiss Otus, which is quite an accomplishment given the far larger sensor area—meaning I am deeply skeptical of this chart.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 63mm f/2.8 R WR

Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

A perfect performance impossible to criticize. But at least it seems that the 120/4 ought to have a perfectly flat field at some distance and some aperture.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 120mm f/4 R LM OIS WR

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

In a testament to the power of meaningless MTF charts, here we see the world’s best zoom lens (or prime lens at the tele end). Heck, who needs a prime lens with a zoom that beats every Zeiss DSLR lens ever made, and on a much larger sensor. Fantasy computed diffraction-free MTF is a con game. The only things to be said here is that the long end may be a bit better than the wide end, and that the wide end has a little astigmatism and possibly a little lateral color.

Fantasy MTF chart for Fujifilm GF 32-64mm f/4 R LM WR
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Button Enhancement for Sony Mirrorless Cameras

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

I’m not shooting Sony right now, but the add-on “ButtonBumps” may make finding the Sony buttons by touch easier. I’ll try them when I pick up the A7R II for review work next month.

I don’t have much use for the hot-shoe cover thing (I just lose mine right away!), but the DisplayLifter may be helpful to some.

The main thing I’ve found with many a camera is that operationally, buttons are not distinct enough by feel (size, spacing, placement). Raised buttons via the stick-on ButtonBumps might help as tactile “landmarks” for fingers. Several such products have been made for Leica M cameras.

ShutterBands.com

ShutterBands enhancement kit for Sony E-mount cameras

Jason W writes:

I've been using button bumps on my A7R for over a year and am very happy with them. They clearly improved the operation of the camera, especially with gloves on, when Sony's idiotic flat buttons become nearly unpressable. Canon buttons are often rounded off in this convex shape and Sony should take note. Haptics matter.

DIGLLOYD: yes, haptics matter as do “visual haptics” (a contradiction in terms except perhaps for those with synaesthesia, but visual interaction has a feel of sorts to me). That is, EVF and rear LCD resolution color and contrast, which is one reason why the Fujifilm GFX seems so appealing with its three high-res displays. Ditto for EVF in general.

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

Fujifilm GFX 50s: How Will Raw 'RAF' Files be Convertible?

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Michael Erlewine writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

John G writes:

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

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

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

Timothy S writes (March 3rd):

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

Source: Just received my production GFX this morning.

DIGLLOYD: yikes.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

OWC Weekender specials

OWC has some great deals on iMac 5K models as well as various other goodies as part of their OWC Weekender Specials.

Check out the iMac 5K deals and the MacBook Pro too.

See all OWC Weekender Specials.

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Fujifilm GFX 50s: General Review Pages, Waiting For the GFX to Arrive

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

With expected availability of Feb 28, the Fujifilm GFX system ought to arrive in my hands on or around March 1st; I am expecting to get one of the first few to arrive.

Accordingly, I have fleshed out the start of my review in Medium Format:

Fujifilm GFX review area

I will be taking an in-depth look at the Fujifilm GFX system, including all the lenses, starting with the first three to ship (32-64mm, 63mm, 120mm).

All seven publications are included in the everything/FULL deal.
Existing subscribers should login for reduced pricing on the everything/FULL deal.

Medium format work with the Hasselblad X1D has been interesting, but as discussed back in January, I think there is an interesting tension between a workhorse camera (Fujifilm GFX) and the more svelte Hasselblad X1D. Moreover, I think the EVF and rear LCD and focusing considerations are very important. As well as the depth of the lens line.

There is now serious competition of medium format versus the high end of the high-res DSLR market (D810, Canon 5Ds)—at prices that are little different once the total system cost is looked at in the context of the very best lenses for each system.

So far, 2017 has been the most exciting year in several years for new photo gear that mixes up the equation with intriguing new options.

Harsh A writes:

Fujifilm had organized an event Feb 22 at Samy’s here in San Francisco to show off their new GFX 50s camera system. I obviously needed to be there, since I’m trying to choose between the Fuji and the Hasselblad systems. What I didn’t know was that Hasselblad was demoing their X1D-50c system at the same time as well! How lucky can a guy get :)

I am not an experienced reviewer like yourself, but still feel compelled to share my thoughts with you that essentially cover key observations I made about the two systems from a user experience perspective. (I am a UX architect by profession)

I spent 1 full hour playing with both camera systems, side by side. Critical differences that were meaningful for me:

- The LCD and EVF on the Hasselblad are barely ok. Actually, the LCD is just a joke. The Fuji LCD and EVF are amazing, in comparison. The Fuji LCD has 2.5 times more pixels. Period. Yes, the Fuji EVF is not as amazing as the incredible Leica SL EVF (I owned that camera, so I know). Still, it is miles ahead of the Hasselblad. For critical work, where perfect focus is paramount, this could be a potential issue. It is for me.

- The lack of a 4-way controller on the Hasselblad is a serious impediment to an efficient flow in the field where you’d need to rapidly access camera functions while your eyes are glued to the EVF. On the Hasselblad, you need to remove your eyes from the EVF, make adjustments using the touch screen, go back to the EVF, and repeat the cycle as necessary. The Fuji has a 4-way controller, which is also fully programmable for custom functions.

- I can’t believe there is no live-view histogram on the Hasselblad! Maybe they’ll implement it via a firmware update, but seriously, what were they thinking!

- The tilt adapter for the EVF on the Fuji is just amazing and so thoughtful! It brought back memories of using the Hasselblad 501c.

- The Hasselblad X1D-50c is GORGEOUS! Online photos don’t do it justice. So solid. Such an amazing design that exudes superb build quality from every angle. The Fuji has more of a “I mean all business” look and feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, it still feels very sturdy/rock-solid in your hands, and fits your hands very nicely as well. It just has a totally different design language as compared to the Hasselblad. In a nutshell, the Fuji has a much superior “functional design”, whereas the Hasselblad has a much superior Visual Design.

Overall, the Hasselblad X1D-50c felt more like a point-and-shoot camera vs the Fuji GFX 50s felt more like a workhorse. For those who need to be seen around with a trophy camera, Hasselblad should be at the top of their list. If you’re into critical work in the field and efficiency, functionality, and usability are more important, the Fuji might be the better bet.

I am going to wait for your review of the Fuji before I make my final decision. One thing is certain - even if I decide to go with the Fuji, I know I’ll still lust for the Hasselblad - it’s just that beautiful :)

DIGLLOYD: sounds about right, both on the EVF front and the workhorse vs svelte front.

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Sigma Announces 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art for Nikon and Canon DSLRs and Sigma sa

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art B&H Photo.

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

The bread and butter mid-range zoom from Sigma should put some pressure on CaNikon, assuming the Sigma 24-70 is up to Art standards—I was not at all happy with the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG HSM Art.

I’ll be testing this new Sigma 24-70mm zoom, as well as the new 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art and the new 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art. My priority is the prime lenses first, but let’s see what arrives when.

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art

I am not necessarily keen on image stabilization. It tends to raise issues of compatibility and peak optical performance and lens symmetry. But given its bread-and-butter mid-range status, it makes sense since Sigma has to compete against CaNikon offerings which have image stabilization. Which is pretty much what Sigma is saying here:

The SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM Art incorporates an aspherical lens element that helps achieve extremely high resolution. This element is much thicker at the center than the edges, and forming its unusual shape is a feat of manufacturing technology.

Moreover, SIGMA processes the surface of this aspherical lens element with ultra-precise tolerances that are measured in hundredths of a micrometer. This extremely fine surface allows the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art to deliver a very natural and smooth bokeh effect, without the visible concentric rings that afflict typical aspherical lens elements.

See Aspheric “Onion Ring” Bokeh for an example of what Sigma seems to claim to avoid.

I am pleased to see a Sigma 3-year warranty extension on top of the 1 year warranty. What’s with a miserly one year warranty as with many vendors? But what about pro services if one is to invest in the Sigma Art line?

  • Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/16
  • Three SLD and Four Aspherical Elements
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor, Manual Override
  • Optical Stabilizer
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • TSC Material, Brass Bayonet Mount
  • Compatible with Sigma USB Dock

Zoom lenses come with all kinds of compromises. My main concerns are distortion and field curvature, both of which are troublesome with Canon and Nikon mid-range zooms.

SIGMA 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art

Top-level performance optimized for the era of ultra-high-megapixel cameras

The large-diameter standard zoom ideal for today’s ultra-high-megapixel digital cameras, OS functionality and newly designed HSM for success on any shoot, Lens barrel designed for high rigidity.

The definitive large-diameter standard zoom lens for any shoot. What photographers demand from the 24-70mm F2.8 specification is much more than outstanding image quality. They want all the features that make this a go-to lens for a wide range of photographic opportunities, including optical design ideal for the latest ultra-high-megapixel digital cameras, hypersonic motor (HSM) for high-speed autofocus, optical stabilizer (OS) with powerful stabilization effect, dust- and splash-proof mount with rubber sealing, and a metal barrel for a stable, rigid feel. This all-new 24-70mm F2.8 lens from SIGMA delivers the performance and functionality that help pros succeed in news, nature, and many other fields of photography.

Outstanding optical performance

Three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass lens elements and four aspherical lens elements help minimize optical aberrations. To ensure outstanding image quality from the center to the edges of the photograph, the optical system minimizes coma, which causes points of light to streak, and transverse chromatic aberration, which cannot be corrected via aperture control, The optical system also minimizes distortion, which can be particularly evident in wide-angle shots, resulting in excellent optical performance throughout the zoom range.

A 24-70mm F2.8 lens that meets the high standards of the Art line

SIGMA has continuously pioneered 24-70mm F2.8 lenses that are a step ahead of the times. The first model of this specification, SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG ASPHERICAL DF, launched in 2001. Representing the fourth generation of the family, the new SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art accomplishes a challenging feat in optical design: incorporating optical stabilizer functionality in a large-diameter standard zoom. By leveraging all of its design and manufacturing expertise, SIGMA has ensured that this new lens fulfills the uncompromising requirements of the Art line for image and build quality.

Bokeh that is a cut above

At wide-open aperture, this lens offers outstanding photographic expression. The area in focus is extremely sharp, while the background exhibits a beautiful bokeh effect with only slight spherical aberration. Since large-diameter zoom lenses are often used at wide-open aperture, SIGMA has paid close attention to the shape of the bokeh, aiming for perfect circularity.

Incorporating advanced aspherical lens processing technology

Aspherical lenses necessitate refined expertise in the design and manufacturing of advanced, high-performance lenses. SIGMA’s first products to feature this technology were the SIGMA 12-24mm F4 DG HSM | Art and SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art, which both incorporated a large ⌀80mm aspherical lens as their front lens element.

Building on the success of these predecessors, the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art incorporates an aspherical lens element that helps achieve extremely high resolution. This element is much thicker at the center than the edges, and forming its unusual shape is a feat of manufacturing technology. Moreover, SIGMA processes the surface of this aspherical lens element with ultra-precise tolerances that are measured in hundredths of a micrometer. This extremely fine surface allows the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art to deliver a very natural and smooth bokeh effect, without the visible concentric rings that afflict typical aspherical lens elements.

OS functionality and newly designed HSM for success on any shoot

Designed for advanced utility in a wide variety of situations, the optical stabilizer (OS) offers a powerful stabilization effect. The newly designed large hypersonic motor (HSM) offers 1.3 times the torque of its predecessor and exceptionally stable performance even at lower speeds.
* Based on CIPA's guideline. Measuring at telephoto end, when it is attached to the camera with 35mm image sensor.

Lens barrel designed for high rigidity

Since large-diameter standard zoom lenses tend to serve as a go-to lens and see frequent use, the SIGMA 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art is designed to stand up to the challenging shooting environments that pros encounter. To this end, the lens barrel contains a large amount of metal, while the external moving parts feature thermally stable composite (TSC), which is resistant to thermal expansion and contraction. This structure contributes not only to the outstanding optical performance of the lens but also to its high rigidity and confidence-inspiring build quality.

Other features

Mount with dust- and splash-proof design

Since the area of the lens most vulnerable to dust and other foreign bodies is the mount, rubber sealing helps provide peace of mind. In addition, the front lens element features a water- and oil-repellent coating that helps the lens perform well in the rain, near water, and in other challenging conditions.

Nikon electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism included

The Nikon mount version of this lens includes an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism that allows it to receive the appropriate signals from the camera body. This feature ensures precision diaphragm control and stable Auto Exposure (AE) performance during continuous shooting.

Note: Functionality may be limited on some camera bodies.

  • Fast AF with full-time manual focus
  • Compatible with Mount Converter MC-11
  • Available SIGMA USB DOCK
    Makes customization and flexible adjustment possible
  • Available Mount Conversion Service
    Allows use with another camera body
  • Rounded diaphragm
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • Evaluation with SIGMA’s own MTF measuring system “A1”
  • Made in Japan
    With outstanding craftsmanship
  • Lens barrel is engraved with the year of release
Specifications for Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art
Focal length: 24-70mm
Aperture scale: f/2.8 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 9 blades, rounded
Number of elements/groups: 19 elements in 14 groups
Focusing range: 87.5cm / 34.4in
Angular field: 18.2°
Image ratio at close range:            1:4.8
Filter thread: 82mm
Weight, nominal: TBD
Dimensions: 88 × 107.6 mm / 3.5 x 4.2 in
List price: about $TBD
Includes LCF-82 III 82mm Lens Cap
LH876-04 Lens Hood
Rear Cap LCR II for Nikon F Mount Lenses
Lens Case [Sigma’s cases are the best of any manufacturer,and included]
Limited 1-Year North and South America Warranty
Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension

Sigma Announces 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art for Nikon and Canon DSLRs and Sigma sa

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

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

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

All the Sigma Art lenses are bulky and heavy. I’d like to see Sigma introduce another 'slower' Art line that drops lens speed by 1.5 to 2 stops and raises the performance to Otus levels—even if the price were the same as the faster Art lenses. Landscape shooting as well as many other applications do not need f/1.4 or f/1.8. (wide aperture landscapes notwithstanding). I grow weary of lugging heavy and bulky photo gear, particularly high in the mountains where I must carry clothing and food and water as well. Moreover, smaller and lighter lenses would allow buying and taking more lenses in the field, surely a sales plus. But all this begs the question: what is the point of the Sigma Art lenses if CaNikon don’t get their act together with respect to cameras.

Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

The 135/1.8 looks like another effort from Sigma that sets the new standard among autofocus lenses, both for lens speed and performance—at this point I’ll take Sigma at their word for high optical performance that I expect to easily outperform CaNikon.

To deliver the ultra-high resolution that brings the best out of 50MP or higher ultra-high-megapixel DSLRs, the focus mechanism features SIGMA’s floating system. No matter what the distance from the subject, this lens offers top performance from the center to the edges of the image.

By minimizing distortion as well, the lens delivers impeccable image quality—no need for digital adjustment during image processing

I am very pleased to see a Sigma 3-year warranty extension on top of the 1 year warranty. What’s with a miserly one year warranty as with many vendors? But what about pro services if one is to invest in the Sigma Art line?

  • Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Two FLD Elements, Two SLD Elements
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor, Manual Override
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • TSC Material, Brass Bayonet Mount
  • Compatible with Sigma USB Dock

I know that the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art has received kudos from all the lab tests out there, but my field tests were not so compelling. Maybe I had a bad sample (along with two of my readers!), so I may retry the 85/1.4—and I hope that the 135/1.8 does not exhibit similar discontinuity between field results and claimed MTF in the sample I test.

SIGMA 135mm F1.8 DG HSM

With F1.8 brightness, this telephoto lens for full-frame cameras further strengthens the Art line’s prime options

The ultimate 135mm telephoto designed to prioritize optical performance, Fast and nimble autofocus photography, Sixth 35mm full-frame prime lens to join the Art line.

135mm telephoto lenses are often categorized as the foundational telephoto, the first one to add to a lens collection. This focal length delivers a strong perspective compression effect, while the large diameter with F1.8 brightness provides a dramatic bokeh effect.

By minimizing axial chromatic aberration, the SIGMA 135mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art makes this bokeh effect not only impressive but also beautiful while delivering superb contrast and sharp image quality in every shot. It offers the outstanding resolution required for 50MP or higher ultra-high-megapixel DSLRs.

By incorporating its latest innovations in design and optical glass and rethinking every aspect of the lens, SIGMA has ensured outstanding image quality all the way to the edges, establishing the new standard in 135mm telephoto lenses.

With resolution so crystal-clear that individual hairs can be discerned in a portrait, this large-diameter lens also delivers a beautiful bokeh effect, giving photographers everything they need. It is ideal for close-ups and full-body shots, with subjects standing out against a pleasantly blurred background. In addition to standard portraits, including bridal shots, this lens is a top performer for live events, with its super-fast autofocus capturing subjects with ease.

The ultimate 135mm telephoto designed to prioritize optical performance:

Image quality optimal for ultra-high-megapixel DSLRs.

To deliver the ultra-high resolution that brings the best out of 50MP or higher ultra-high-megapixel DSLRs, the focus mechanism features SIGMA’s floating system. No matter what the distance from the subject, this lens offers top performance from the center to the edges of the image. By minimizing distortion as well, the lens delivers impeccable image quality—no need for digital adjustment during image processing.

Ideal for portraits requiring a dramatic bokeh effect

The 135mm focal length delivers a stunning compression effect: even fairly close to the subject, the telephoto ring allows the photographer to establish a variety of dramatic perspectives. The compression effect truly shines in both close-ups and full-length portraits, making composition easy. Moreover, the large diameter with F1.8 brightness makes possible a body shot with an impressive bokeh background. In sum, this lens puts a full menu of compositional options at the photographer’s fingertips.

Fast and nimble autofocus photography

The large hypersonic motor (HSM) offers two benefits. It delivers ample torque to the focusing group for outstanding speed, ensuring exceptionally stable performance even at lower speeds. The acceleration sensor detects the orientation of the lens, allowing the autofocus system to respond to varying loads on the focusing group due to gravity. Along with the optimized AF algorithm, these features deliver fast autofocus photography. In addition, the focus limiter makes AF highly responsive to distance from the subject for even more nimble performance.

Sixth 35mm full-frame prime lens to join the Art line

Launched in 2012, the SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art was the first lens in the Art line. Since then, SIGMA has developed a wide variety of lenses for the line, and the SIGMA 135mm F1.8 DG HSM|Art is the sixth prime lens in the line to offer 35mm full-frame coverage. Now even stronger, the Art line sets the new standard for prime lenses in the ultra-high-megapixel era.

Other features

  • Fast AF with full-time manual override. Note: operation of full-time MF may vary based on mount type.
  • Compatible with Mount Converter MC-11
  • Mount with dust- and splash-proof construction
  • Nikon electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism included
  • Available SIGMA USB DOCK makes customization and flexible adjustment possible
  • Available Mount Conversion Service allows use with another camera body
  • Rounded diaphragm
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • Evaluation with SIGMA’s own MTF measuring system “A1”
  • Made in Japan with outstanding craftsmanship
  • The lens barrel is engraved with the year of release
Specifications for Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Focal length: 135mm
Aperture scale: f/1.8 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 9 blades, rounded
Number of elements/groups: 13 elements in 10 groups
Focusing range: 87.5cm / 34.4in
Angular field: 18.2°
Image ratio at close range:            1:5
Filter thread: 82mm
Weight, nominal: 1130g / 40.2oz
Dimensions: 91.4 x 114.9 mm / 4.0 x 4.5 in
List price: about $TBD
Includes LH927-02 Lens Hood
Lens Case [Sigma’s cases are the best of any manufacturer,and included]
Limited 1-Year North and South America Warranty
Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Sigma Announces 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art for Nikon and Canon DSLRs and Sigma sa

Get Sigma DG HSM Art and Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art B&H Photo.

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

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

The 14/1.8 looks like extensive measures were taken for very high performance with a total of seven elements using special glass types, and four aspherical elements. In particular the huge front element is aspherical, which it seems that only Sigma can do at reasonable cost—impressive. Price has not been announced, but I’m guessing $1599 or so.

Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art

The SIGMA 12-24mmF4 DG HSM Art was the first SIGMA lens to feature a large 80mm aspherical lens element. Building on the expertise derived from this success, the new lens features a large 80mm precision-molded glass aspherical lens as its front element. This technology has made possible the 14mm F1.8 specification—the first of its kind.

Lens speed is incredible if the quality holds up as claimed—a full 4/3 stop faster than anything else in its range.

This is the lens that I had hoped Zeiss would build, for night-time photography and stars (though I’d still like a high performance fisheye). Kudos to Sigma not just for the 14mm, but for the rest of its lens line. which pushes the boundaries of performance and adds lenses other vendors are skipping entirely.

One gripe: my 35/1.4 Art won’t autofocus on my D810. I don’t like lenses with firmware much at all; it means the lens can “die” temporarily with a new camera. Still, most people have PCs and can upgrade their own lens firmware. Well two gripes: I would like an aperture ring so that an F-mount lens could be shot on Canon also.

I am pleased to see a Sigma 3-year warranty extension on top of the 1 year warranty. What’s with the miserly one year warranty as with many vendors?

  • Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/16
  • Three FLD Elements, Four SLD Elements
  • Four Aspherical Elements
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor, Manual Override
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • TSC Material, Brass Bayonet Mount
  • Compatible with Sigma USB Dock
Specifications for Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Focal length: 14mm
Aperture scale: f/1.8 - f/16
Diaphragm blades: 9 blades, rounded
Number of elements/groups: 16 elements in 11 groups
Focusing range: 27 cm / 10.6 in
Angular field: 114.2°
Image ratio at close range:            1:9.8
Filter thread: none
Weight, nominal: 1,170g 41.3oz
Dimensions: 95.4 x 126 mm / 9.5 x 5.0 in
List price: about $TBD
Includes LC950-02 Front Lens Cover
Rear Cap LCR II for Nikon F Mount Lenses
Lens Case [Sigma’s cases are the best of any manufacturer,and included]
Limited 1-Year North and South America Warranty
Limited 3-Year U.S.A. Warranty Extension

SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM

Introducing the world’s first and only* F1.8 ultra-wide-angle lens among interchangeable lens for digital SLRs as of February

A true high-speed lens that delivers a new dimension of visual experience. 14mm ultra-wide angle of view and F1.8 brightness deliver a new dimension of visual experience as the seventh 35mm full-frame prime lens to join the Art line

  • Launch: TBD
  • Accessories: Case, Cover Lens Cap
  • AF Mounts: SIGMA, NIKON, CANON
  • Appearance and specifications are subject to change without notice.

In taking photographs of starry skies or other celestial scenes at night, or of the seashore with a wide perspective, a large-diameter lens is a strong ally, since it allows the capture of a moving subject by adjusting shutter speed without relying on ISO sensitivity. With its full-frame 35mm coverage, 14mm focal length for an ultra-wide angle of view, F2 barrier-breaking F1.8, the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art is the true high-speed ultra-wide-angle lens for which so many photographers have been waiting. Although some zoom lenses are available that can cover 14mm, the large diameter delivering F1.8 brightness is a singular advantage. Going beyond fast shutter speed, this lens can capture a swarm of fireflies with crystal clarity, a beautiful bokeh effect, and outstanding control of light streaking.

14mm ultra-wide angle of view and F1.8 brightness deliver a new dimension of visual experience

By leveraging its extreme angle of view and the dramatic perspective this creates, an ultra-wide-angle lens can get up close and personal with a subject while at the same time taking in a vast background—an example of photography going beyond normal human vision.

SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art combines the extremely deep depth of field that comes from an ultra-wide angle of view with the extremely shallow depth of field that comes from F1.8 brightness. The result is a sharply captured subject set against a vast background dramatically blurred with a beautiful bokeh effect. It is a highly impressive mode of photographic expression that until now simply has not existed.

Minimized chromatic aberrations

Three FLD (“F” Low Dispersion) glass elements and four SLD (Super Low Dispersion) glass elements help minimize transverse chromatic aberration, which tends to be noticeable in shots taken with ultra-wide-angle lenses. The result is outstanding image quality from the center of the image to the edges.

Featuring a large-diameter aspherical lens element

The SIGMA 12-24mmF4 DG HSM | Art was the first SIGMA lens to feature a large 80mm aspherical lens element. Building on the expertise derived from this success, the new lens features a large 80mm precision-molded glass aspherical lens as its front element. This technology has made possible the 14mm F1.8 specification—the first of its kind.

Minimized distortion

Serving as the front lens element, the large 80mm precision-molded glass aspherical lens effectively minimizes distortion. Offering excellent peripheral brightness, this lens delivers outstanding image quality from the center to the edges.

Distinctive bokeh effect

Even at the 14mm ultra-wide-angle of view, F1.8 brightness makes possible a very shallow depth of field with the subject standing out dramatically against a bokeh background. It’s the unique mode of expression that only a large-diameter lens can deliver.

Seventh 35mm full-frame prime lens to join the Art line

Launched in 2012, the SIGMA 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art was the first lens in the Art line. Since then, SIGMA has developed a wide variety of lenses for the line, and the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art is the seventh prime lens in the line to offer 35mm full-frame coverage. Now even stronger, the Art line sets the new standard for prime lenses in the ultra-high-megapixel era.

Other features

  • Fast AF with full-time manual override. Note: The operation of full-time MF may vary based on mount type
  • Compatible with Mount Converter MC-11
  • Available SIGMA USB DOCK Makes customization and flexible adjustment possible
  • Available Mount Conversion Service. Allows use with another camera body.
  • Rounded diaphragm
  • Designed to minimize flare and ghosting
  • High-precision, durable brass bayonet mount
  • Evaluation with SIGMA’s own MTF measuring system “A1”
  • Made in Japan With outstanding craftsmanship.
  • The lens barrel is engraved with the year of release
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX 50s: Shipping Feb 28

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

With expected availability of Feb, the Fujifilm GFX system ought to arrive in my hands on March 1st; I am expecting to get one of the first few to arrive.

I will be taking an in-depth look at the Fujifilm GFX system, including all the lenses in my Medium Format section.

All seven publications are included in the everything/FULL deal.
Existing subscribers should login for reduced pricing on the everything/FULL deal.

Medium format work with the Hasselblad X1D has been interesting, but as discussed back in January, I think there is an interesting tension between a workhorse camera (Fujifilm GFX) and the more svelte Hasselblad X1D. Moreover, I think the EVF and rear LCD considerations are of considerable merit. As well as the depth of the lens line.

There is now serious competition of medium format versus the high end of the high-res DSLR market (D810, Canon 5Ds)—at prices that are little different once the total system cost is looked at in the context of the very best lenses for each system.

So far, 2017 has been the most exciting year in several years for new photo gear that mixes up the equation with intriguing new options.

Fujifilm GFX due out Feb 28
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: 'Bare Tree Along Alpine Creek' + 'First Spring Blooms'

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

The about $3995 Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 is equivalent to a 25.4mm f/2.87 as compared to a 35mm full frame camera (long dimension of frame).

This finely-detailed outdoor scene takes a look at sharpness across the field, color aberration, and whether the focus shift seen at close range applies to a scene like this. The subtle presence of moiré is also examined.

In my review of the Hasselblad X system in diglloyd Medium Format:

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Bare Tree Along Alpine Creek

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: 'First Spring Blooms'

Includes images up to full resolution as well as large crops, all from f/4 - f/12.

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

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Evaluation at MOD (Minimum Object Distance)

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

The about $3995 Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 is equivalent to a 25.4mm f/2.87 as compared to a 35mm full frame camera (long dimension of frame). It is thus a solid wide angle choice—not super wide and not moderate, just right for many purposes.

The Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 for the Hasselblad X1D looks to be a very fine performer, but with a key behavior that every X1D shooter should be aware of.

This series at MOD (minimum object distance) assesses overall sharpness along with focus shift and secondary color aberrations.

In my review of the Hasselblad X system in diglloyd Medium Format:

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series at MOD: Dolls, Focus Shift

Includes images up to full resolution as well as large crops, all from f/3.5 - f/11.

Also: Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series : Siemens Chart

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MacPerformanceGuide.com

On the Road

I’ll be working on the Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 starting Tuesday.

Southern California, Camino Real double century (completed), looking at universities with daughter—Dad’s job.

Cal Poly Pomona has a very content Muscovy Duck, at least until some brat kid harrassed it back into the water (parents smiling approvingly).

Muscovy Duck
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Koi
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Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 Coming Soon

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

I will have the about $3995 Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 for testing on the Hasselblad X1D on Tuesday Feb 21, to be reviewed in the Medium Format section. This should give me just enough time to review it and do some more Hasselblad X1D work before the Fujifilm GFX system arrives.

The about $3995 Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5 is equivalent to a 25.4mm f/2.87 as compared to a 35mm full frame camera (long dimension of frame). It is thus a solid wide angle choice—not super wide and not moderate, just right for many purposes.

Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5
OWC 480GB Thumb Drive
only $270

What Lloyd uses in the field for a carry-around backup.
Fits just about anywhere, tough aluminum case.
ends in 44 hours

Reader Comment: Making Images Optimally With Confidence and Consistency

Cal T writes:

I just finished the first of your series at Zeiss Lenspire. Well done! I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I also went to, I think, all of the links to your other writings. I knew (still know) so little about how lenses actually work. I do appreciate your advice on Zeiss primes. They are a joy to use and, on those occasions when I get it right, I get amazing images.

Maybe via the education I’m getting from my subscription with you I’ll be able to actually figure out how to regularly get these results and not just be surprised when they somehow happen. ;-)

DIGLLOYD: the best “cheat sheet” I have is Making Sharp Images. It’s not as “sexy” as I’d like, but it is chock full of what it took my years to learn. I consider it my most imporant publication of all for anyone looking to get the best results, no matter what camera is used.

All my other publications include related useful information, but MSI is best read through in its entirety. Understood an applied, it should true “years” into “months” in terms of achieving peak results consistently.

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

New Article on Zeiss Lenspire Site: “Zoom or Prime Lens? A series by Lloyd Chambers”

I’ve published a number of articles over the past year on the Zeiss Lenspire site.

Published yesterday is Zoom or Prime Lens? A series by Lloyd Chambers.

Other articles at lenspire.zeiss.com:

These articles are also available here on this site, with higher quality image presentation.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Hasselblad Updates X1D Firmware to 1.15.0

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

The Hasselblad X1D firmware update is now online. I have successfully upgraded the firmware but not yet tested the improvements.

Compared to v1.14.2:

Hasselblad X1D
  • Focus peaking
  • GPS support
  • Max/min settings for AutoISO
  • HC Lens Adapter support (Manual Focus only)
  • Video poster frame
  • Selectable 50/100% zoom level in manual focus assist
  • Display menu: Separate Exposure Simulation On/Off setting for M and for A/S/P/Full Auto
  • About menu: "Usage" shows shutter count for lens
  • Custom Modes - Show actual exposure mode on Control Screen
  • Improved contrast level in video
  • Improved auto white balance
  • Improved support for Phocus Mobile
  • LCD color improvements
  • Language updates
  • Bug fixes
World of Sigma and especially Sigma ART Lenses
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