Welcome to diglloyd.com
In-depth review coverage is by subscription.
Also by Lloyd: MacPerformanceGuide.com and WindInMyFace.com
First-time visitor
Speed To Create, Capacity To Dream
Storage Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX: 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

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

 

MacPerformanceGuide.com

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.

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

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

Michael E 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.

Our trusted photo rental store

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.

Hand-Picked OWC Weekender Specials
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX: 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.

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
Mac Pro or iMac or MacBook Pro?
Storage, Backup, RAID?
Buy now or wait?

✓ diglloyd consulting starts you out on solid footing.

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

Fujifilm GFX: 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

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.

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

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

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

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
__METADATA__
Koi
__METADATA__
Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo

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

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.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: View to Tower at Dusk

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Hasselblad X1D

This near-to-far subject places a premium on lens performance in terms of real depth of field in mixed lighting from blue dusk to bluish white to the garish illumination on the nearby tower. The color combination seemed to be just perfect at dusk, such a nice balance.

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D + 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: View to Tower at Dusk

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/12 up to full resolution, with crops.

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

Sigma sd Quattro H Color Rendition: Richly Saturated Reds

Sigma sd Quattro-H

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

I take a look at the Sigma sd Quattro H on intensely saturated reds, the same subject shot with the Hasselblad X1D and Nikon D810 a few days ago.

Sigma sd Quattro H Color Rendition: Richly Saturated Reds

Image at sizes up to full 25.5 megapixel resolution, with RawDigger histogram and Sigma Photo Pro settings.

There is only one acceptable Color Mode in Sigma Photo Pro for this shot.

Viewing this image on a display with less than the full AdobeRGB color gamut will not reveal the ideas discussed above—the reds will be flattened. Use a wide gamut display.

__METADATA__
Our trusted photo rental store

Fujifilm GFX: Coming In Two Weeks (I Hope)

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

My coverage of the Hasselblad X1D system will continue: the 30mm f/3.5 should be coming fairly soon, and I’m hoping to get more outdoors shots with it by early March.

With expected availability of March 1, the Fujifilm GFX system ought to arrive March 2nd; I should get one of the first few to arrive. I expect to be doing an in-depth look at the Fujifilm GFX system, particularly since more lenses are coming over the first three available for pre-order now.

This medium format work with the X1D and soon the GFX is very interesting. Finally there is very serious competition for the high end of the DSLR market and competition that makes Leica irrelevant for landscape shooters.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2: Unusual Bokeh for Out-of-Focus Blurs

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Hasselblad X1D

The Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 is unusual in its bokeh behaviors, particularly wide open

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Bokeh: Out-of-Focus Lights at Night

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/9 with partial stops to see the effects.

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

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Colorful Bicycle

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Hasselblad X1D

This colorful bike with its fine details, high contrast black and white, popping colors and rusted chain caught my eye. Crummy lighting, but the Hasselblad X1D + HCD 90/3.2 deliver a very fine image.

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D + 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Colorful Bicycle

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/12 with crops.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Mosaic Detail

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This night scene is partly about lens performance, and partly about sensor performance. Night photography demands a lot from a camera (total sensor and imaging chain). In particular, its ability to make clean detail in dark areas is very important during raw conversion or post processing.

Hasselblad X1D

These images required aggressive contrast control for shadows and highlights, something possible only with a very high quality raw image.

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D + 45mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Night Scene

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/16 at up to full resolution with crops.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Mosaic Detail

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This far-distance subject is one of the most demanding of any I know, because it is planar (flat) and with very fine detail. Any lens deviation such as symmetry or field curvature pops out instantly as a flaw. This is about as tough a real-world imaging challenge as there is.

Hasselblad X1D

This series from f/3.5 through f/16 demonstrates the imaging power of the Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 at far distance.

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 45mm f/3.5 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D + 45mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Mosaic

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/16 at up to full resolution.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Mosaic Detail

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This far-distance subject is one of the most demanding of any I know, because it is planar (flat) and with very fine detail. Any lens deviation such as symmetry or field curvature pops out instantly as a flaw. This is about as tough a real-world imaging challenge as there is.

Hasselblad X1D

This series from f/3.2 through f/16 demonstrates the awesome imaging power of the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 at far distance.

In my review of the Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D + 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Mosaic

Includes images from f/3.2 to f/16 at up to full resolution.

__METADATA__
Our trusted photo rental store

Year of the Great Camera Company Shakeout?

Yesterday I wrote Is This the Year of Cool New Cameras?.

But might it also be the Year of the Great Camera Company Shakeout? If not the end for some, the beginning of the end, unless course is altered and some hard choices made.

Leica

Leica is a ship without a keel, drifting randomly through a sea of faster/better/cheaper offerings, and now facing two medium format systems that cost the same or less than the M and SL systems. See Is Leica a Credible Player?.

The M system abandoned with only token updates. The SL system too little, too late, too expensive, way off-mission for any M shooter, unexecuted. The S system abandoned, with angry users (some suing Leica for quality problems, others just quietly seething). The T system a pathetic toy. Leica should go back to its roots by refocusing all its resources solely in making the M system great again. The Leica Q falls into that “root” category—successful and true to mission.

Nikon

Due to years of doing absolutely nothing to counter the camera phone threat on the low end and the Sony threat at the bread-and-butter level, Nikon seems to be in trouble, issuing a Notice of Recognition of Extraordinary Loss today. The new Nikon DL was also canceled. Clearly the company is now under stress.

The write-downs are from the lithography business (not cameras). At least with Zeiss, that business is far more important than consumer lenses. I wonder if this might be at least partly true for the total Nikon corporate entity, an what it portends for the future of Nikon professional cameras.

Emphasis added.

This is to announce the recognition of extraordinary loss for the nine months ended December 31, 2016 (from April 1 to December 31, 2016), as below.

Recognition of Restructuring Expenses

As announced in “Notice of Restructuring” released on November 8, 2016, Nikon Group is currently under a fundamental company-wide restructuring to improve its corporate value as shifting from a strategy pursuing revenue growth to one pursuing profit enhancement.

In accordance with this restructuring, the Group recorded extraordinary loss of 29,790 million yen, mainly incurred from inventory write-downs/write-off in Semiconductor Lithography Business, as restructuring expenses for the nine months ended December 31, 2016.

Also, restructuring expenses in Imaging Products Business and the expenses related to “Results of Solicitation for Voluntary Retirement,” which is released today, are expected to incur in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year.

As a result, the total amount of restructuring expenses for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017 will be approximately 53,000 million yen, which is 5,000 million yen increase from the previous estimate of approximately 48,000 million yen in “Notice of Restructuring” released on November 8, 2016.

Pentax

Great technology in the Ricoh GR and Pentax 645Z, with these products having seen no development. A terrific camera (Pentax K1 in SuperRes pixel shift mode) with zero lenses I’d want to use on it. And now, the announcement of a new APS-C DSLR. How long can this go on? Do it right, or get out of the game. I visited Pentax at CES but could find no one I could converse with (in English) who knew anything about products. Still, I have not seen any signs of stress announced for Pentax yet.

Is This the Year of Cool New Cameras?

Every vendor ought to be releasing someting nifty this year. Maybe not all, but I can’t see how these vendors can stay in the game without at least announcing some major advance this year.

See my various wish lists at B&H Photo.

Sony

First off, if you’ve wanted a Sony A7R II, you can get $800 off plus the value of a trade-in: $300 instant rebate + $480 trade-in savings + the value of the trade-in camera. Other models have similar deals. See the trade-in deal page.

Which leads to this idea: why would such a large savings be offered unless something new is in the works from Sony, maybe several new cameras.

Might Sony introduce a medium format system later this year? With Fujifilm in the game, and Sony already having a low-to-high product range, it seems probable to me.

Hasselblad X system

My review of the Hasselblad X system is in full swing in Medium Format.

Fujifilm medium format

I expect to have a Fujifilm GFX as part of the first arrival batch on March 1st or thereabouts. The review will join the Hasselblad X system review in Medium Format.

Nikon D810 replacement?

The Nikon D810 is now down to about $2796 (USA warranty version), much lower on ebay if you are willing to take on the risk of gray market repair issues (I’m not recommending that). Production has reportedly ceased, begging the question of what comes next: a Nikon D820 or D900 with a higher-res sensor with equivalent per-pixel quality? Dare we hope for at least one optional high-res EVF or an F-mount mirrorless camera, possibly with a slightly larger than 35mm sensor?

Are Nikon and Canon going to ignore the serious risk of the high-end migrating to the Fujifilm GFX system and thus eviscerating an avid group of D810 users? Or perhaps are they, particularly Nikon, just going to fade away and die?

Canon

Canon ought to be due for some kind of high-end DSLR, if only to improve sensor quality over the Canon 5Ds R.

Pentax and Ricoh

Seems to me its time for Pentax to take the excellent Pentax 645Z system and make a mirrorless camera. And for Ricoh to make a full-frame Ricoh GR.

Leica

Leica seems to be a dead end. A dead S-system. An abandonded M system. An overpriced SL system with lenses that don’t ship. Only a small market for platypus scrotum M cameras. Game over there unless someone capable of strategic thinking takes the helm. Exception: the Leica Q is true to mission as is the new M10 (even though it disappoints me in resolution and EVF). More of that, and Leica can get back on track.

Panasonic and Olympus

The Panasonic GH5 sets a new bar for 4K video. The Olympus E-M1 II is the best-ever still-shooter M4/3 camera.

And... Apple

The iMac 5K is overdue for a refresh. I’d sure like to see an iMac 8K 32-inch model. The Mac Pro is long overdue for a refresh. Ditto for the MacBook and MacBook Air and MacMini.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45/3.2 SHOOTOUT vs Nikon D810 + Zeiss 35/1.4: Flowers with 4-stop Underexposure + Push

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list and Nikon wish list.

Gross underexposure is obviously not the goal of any photographer except that a high dynamic range image by definition results in gross underexposure of dark areas. It is these areas that suffer the most and are thus the most limiting to image quality.

Hasselblad X1D

The prior comparison at base ISO looked at the best possible results with the best possible ETTR exposure. But what about gross underexposure? Which is the case in the dark shadow areas any time one shoots a high dynamic range scene.

Now added to my review of the Hasselblad X1D system in the Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D Shootout vs Nikon D810: 4-stop Underexposure + Push (Flowers)

Includes images up to full resolution and several large crops, RawDigger histograms, Adobe Camera Raw settings along with comments on the processing required. One of the crops shows RGB plus red/green/blue color channels from the ProPhotoRGB color space, showing that one of them is substantially more noisy.

3.6 stop push
__METADATA__
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Off Topic: Oroville Dam Damaged, Emergency Spillway Failing

We go more rain than past few weeks than I can remember in 20, perhaps 30 years . I was complaining about my favorite fishing spots not melting out until July...!

But I’m sure glad I don’t live near Oroville Dam (north of Sacramento), because while the main dam is not at risk “a this time”, it looks like the never used emergency spillway is digging quite a gully, which could result in uncontrolled release of water if it back-cuts into the hillside and thence allows untold billions of gallons of water to rush downstream. The emergency spillway was put into use after the main spillway had a massive gap open up about 1/2 down from the top.

Pictures of spillway and such

People downstream are under a mandatory evacuation order as of 5PM today:

LATimes: Live updates: Evacuations ordered below Oroville Dam

"This is not a Drill. Repeat this is not a drill,” the National Weather Service said Sunday, urging people living below Oroville Dam to evacuate. The evacuation was ordered because of a “hazardous situation” involving the Northern California dam's emergency spillway. The National Weather Service said the auxiliary spillway is expected to fail and could send an “uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.”

Emergency Mass Notification for Butte County Residents (Issued 02/11/2017 at 11:30 a.m.)

DWR Press Release: February 12, 2017 6:20p.m.

EVACUATION FOR LOW-LYING COMMUNITIES
Oroville, CA — Based on information received from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the incident command team managing Lake Oroville, counties and cities near Lake Oroville and the surrounding area issued evacuation orders for residents. The concern is that erosion at the head of the auxiliary spillway threatens to undermine the concrete weir and allow large, uncontrolled releases of water from Lake Oroville. Those potential flows could exceed the capacity of downstream channels.
To avert more erosion at the top of the auxiliary spillway, DWR doubled the flow down its main spillway from 55,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) to 100,000 CFS The next several hours will be crucial in determining whether the concrete structure at the head of the auxiliary spillway remains intact and prevents larger, uncontrolled flows.
Current flows are contained with downstream channels.
Flow over the auxiliary spillway weir began Saturday morning and has slowed considerably. DWR officials expect that flow to stop entirely soon, which will reduce the erosion on the downstream side of the structure.
Oroville Dam itself is sound and is a separate structure from the auxiliary spillway.

As I understand it, there is another major storm due this week.

Even with no more damage, it might not be safe for use as a more than half full reservoir for a long time—and it’s a very important reservoir. Now that’s a “shovel ready” project if I ever saw one. Will it takes years to approve repairs, fight lawsuits against repair, plan for, and then repair it? Hopefully not.

California can sure use the rain, but decades of building no new major dams to store rain and snowmelt means that most of it will run into the sea. Go bullet train to nowhere! Meanwhile, the Santa Barbara area remains in severe drought as a peculiar dry spot, though that might change this week.

At least in my area, the ground is super saturated. One modest temblor could cause major damage from mudslides and similar.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45/3.2 SHOOTOUT vs Nikon D810 + Zeiss 35/1.4: Flowers

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list and Nikon wish list.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system I seek to answer a seemingly simple question, which is actually quite complicated: is the imaging pipeline of the Hasselblad X1D at its base ISO of 100 superior to the Nikon D810 at its base ISO of 64?

Hasselblad X1D

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system in my Medium Format section:

Hasselblad X1D Shootout vs Nikon D810 (Flowers)

Includes includes images up to full resolution and several large crops, RawDigger histograms for the full scale and for dark tones, and Adobe Camera Raw settings along with comments on the processing required.

This is an in-depth discussion with some findings that I’m sure any Nikon D810 and/or Hasseblad X1D shooter will find thought provoking. Perhaps more thought provoking: what if Nikon can deliver a near-50-megapixel D820 with per-pixel quality matching or exceeding the Nikon D810? Could be an exciting year.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D with XCD 90/3.2 Aperture Series: White Anthurium

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

The ability of the Hasselblad X1D sensor to record a wide dynamic range with rich color and contrast under mixed lighting of widely varying color temperature is quite impressive, as seen in the Flowers at Russian Ridge example.

Hasselblad X1D

Here I liked the rich contrast of the delicate high-key whites set against the rich dark greens and blacks. I wanted to see just how well highlight detail would hold up.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system:

Hasselblad X1D: Aperture Series: White Anthurium Closeup

Includes includes images up to 36 megapixels and two large crops, all from f/3.2 - f/16. Also, notes on exposure and white balance and focus shift demonstrated once again.

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

Big Discounts on iMac 5K, the Best Display Out there for Viewing Pleasure

If the iMac 5K display were offered as a display only, say at $1629, it would be worth it. So why not get one, and with a free iMac computer included?

I consider the late 2015 iMac 5K the best display on the market today at any price for viewing images. In this sense, consider it a fantastic display that includes a free computer.

See also the diglloyd DealFinder for iMac 5K as well as all 2015 iMac 5K. Or search for more used Macs.

Note that these Macs are factory sealed Apple refurbished with 1 year warranty.

Hasselblad X1D: Dynamic Range

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

I shot this series to evaluate dynamic range of the Hasselblad X1D, but it is also worth presenting to show the XCD 45mm f/3.5.

Hasselblad X1D

My main interest here is seeing just how well the very dark tones in the oak tree bark hold up with a maximum +100 shadow boost. What counts to me with a camera in difficult field conditions is how well an image holds up when worked hard during raw conversion (or in “post”). Because many real world images have very demanding dynamic range.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system:

Hasselblad X1D Aperture Series and Dynamic Range: Oak Tree Greenery

Includes ACR settings, RawDigger histogram for a maxed-out ETTR exposure, a reference frame without the maximum shadow boost, all from f/3.5 through f/12.

__METADATA__

WPPI Deals at B&H Photo

See also my wishlists at B&H Photo.

View all WPPI deals at B&H Photo. Selected deals (most expire Feb 12).

Certain specials require promo code BHWPPI17.

Hand-selected items that caught my eye, below.

WPPI Deals at B&H Photo thru 12 Feb — Zeiss

 

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

Reader Comment: ETTR (Expose to the Right)

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

James A writes:

I was just reading the ETTR section. There is a lot of good information in there that I can hopefully put to use. My question: the article is about 5 years old, sensor technology has evolved somewhat during that time (I assume). Has this evolution changed your opinion on ETTR in 2017?

DIGLLOYD: the ETTR section in DAP is just as applicable today as when I wrote it.

In some ways it is even trickier, because some cameras (Nikon D810, Hasselblad X1D and others) make it very hard to be sure just how much headroom remains. These cameras and many others leave a stop or even two stops of headroom unused with their default metering as well as showing blowout when more than a stop of headroom remains (the Nikon D810 at ISO 64 is notoriously odd this way).

There is an incompetence in play with every camera vendor today: rather than a true raw histogram which would let the photographer see just what the sensor is capturing in each channel, every color camera manufacturer today shows an RGB histogram that bakes in all the JPEG camera settings along with a truncated color gamut of AdobeRGB or sRGB. This is just plain moronic. Alas. The net result is that a stop or even two stops of headroom go unused.

Below, the histogram from the Flowers at Russian Ridge example is nearly perfect, just 1/3 stop or so shy of maximal (maybe 1/2 stop if one can let just a few tiny areas blow out). RawDigger is an excellent tool for assessing whether the exposure is optimal.

RawDigger histogram showing a near perfect exposure within 1/3 stop of blowout

Cameron writes:

First, keep up the great work! I really enjoy reading your articles and wish I had it in the budget to subscribe. Because I’m not a paying subscriber, I thought I’d pass a little info along to you regarding the 3FR/FFF files.

I’ve been shooting with the Hasselblad CF39 for years and learned pretty quickly that the shadows went to mud quickly if any attempts of pulling them brighter were needed. I always shot this back at ISO 50. One day I needed the extra speed so I shot at ISO 400. It was a fashion shoot and halfway through the sequence I must have changed the aperture or lighting because everything was completely blown out. Distressed, I loaded the files to the laptop and was easily able to bring the file back to a usable state using the exposure slider, adjusting the gamma, etc, and both shadow and highlights were fine. I was astonished and happily saved what was almost a ruined lingerie shoot. Later at the studio, I ran this over-exposure experiment at ISO 50 and no amount of over exposure was usable (highlights were simply lost). The same experiment at ISO 100 showed ample room for over-exposure by two stops and yielded beautiful shadow detail—even when pulled up. I’m sure I tested ISO 200 and 400 but the results must have been bad and I’ve never looked back.

Lately I’ve been freelancing at Christie’s in NYC and have been shooting the H5D40 and 60 in their studio. Turns out that the same thing happens with these digital sensors. The native is ISO 100, so shooting at ISO 200 and overexposing by two steps gives the best results—particularly with shadows.

This phenomenon seems to be baked into the Hasselblad DNA—as fas the CCD chips are concerned. I’m wondering if the X1D with its CMOS has the same DNA? If so, it might be something worth looking in to.

DIGLLOYD: unless there is something in Hasselblad that is unlike any other camera I’ve used in ten years, I would say that all of this is basically understanding exposure incorrectly, or rather—getting tricked by misleading metering and particularly misleading histograms. The solution is to use RawDigger to see what is really happening. The end result can in fact be the same as Cameron writes, because at higher ISO the camera “gains up” in a smart way. But for a true base ISO (not a “Lo” setting), there can be no advantage to this higher-ISO-overexpose theory, not that I’m aware of at least. This is why I consider it idiotic that no camera vendor offers a true raw histogram so the user can just see what is actually being captured, in a data/histogram sense.

P.S.: anyone who has the 'budget' to spend months or years instead of a day learning key exposure tricks is penny wise dollar foolish. I take pride in demystifying and showing what is actually going on—teaching effectively things that can baffle photographers for years.

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Hasselblad X1D Example with Rich Color, Dark Tones, Mixed Lighting: Flowers at Russian Ridge

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

The ability of the Hasselblad X1D sensor to record a wide dynamic range with rich color and contrast under mixed lighting of widely varying color temperature is quite impressive.

What particularly impresses me is the highlight discrimination, the subtle tones in the whites and near-whites in the flowers. I’ve noticed that quality to the X1D images in other shots as well.

In my review of the Hasselblad X1D system:

Hasselblad X1D: Example with Rich Color, Dark Tones, Mixed Lighting: Flowers at Russian Ridge

Includes a full-resolution image (slightly cropped).

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D REVIEWED: Operational Usability, EVF, Flash Support, etc

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

Gah! Pouring rain for nearly two weeks. I hardly remember what sun and blue sky look like. The Sierra snowpack should be at 200% of normal by now. My favorite fishing holes are not going to melt out until July—dang.

So I revamped and added to my overall look at the operational and usability aspects of the Hasselblad X1D:

  • Overview of Hasselblad X1D
  • Magnified Live View Operation
  • X1D Startup Time, Startup Issues
  • X1D Exposure Behavior and Flash Support
  • X1D Buttons and Controls
  • X1D Operational Issues

I urge any prospective Hasselblad X1 buyer to read all these pages. There is a lot there that matters to me, and some or it will definitely matter to others—even if what matters differs from me to another person to yet another. And with the Fujifilm GFX coming in a few weeks (my #1 top drop-everything priority), I’ll have a lot to say on it as well.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D: 3FR Raw-File Conversion in Adobe Camera Raw

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This page in my review of the Hasselblad X1D assesses the white balance and tint required for raw processing in Adobe Camera Raw for achieving a neutral grayscale, and discusses the relative accuracy of the results.

Hasselblad X1D: RAW 3FR Conversion in Adobe Camera Raw: Overcast Rainy Day Lighting

Includes conversions with the available Camera Standard and Embedded profiles as well as what I found doing a custom profile with the Datacolor SpyderCHECKR.

Rainy overcast day (slight drizzle, thus the spots on the target). Maximal ETTR exposure, hence the 0.85 stop pull as seen in the ACR settings. We haven’t had a sunny day in quite a while, so I don’t have anything yet for sunlight.

Also: The Hasselblad X1D has the best long exposure mode and performance I”ve ever experienced. Kudos to Hasselblad!

Hasselblad X1D Long Exposure Support

__METADATA__
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Storm Drain Signs

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This series assesses overall technical image quality as well as focus shift as observed in the Pomegranates on Picnic Table. Comments on focusing accuracy and control of secondary color are included as well as dynamic range.

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Storm Drain Signs

Includes image sizes up to 36 megapixels along with large crops, from f/3.5 through f/12.

The X1D shooter should take care to understand the focus shift behavior as discussed here. This series and the Pomegranates series now help me understand the semi-failure to get the sharpness I expected in various other shots.

__METADATA__

Bart H writes:

Thanks for the excellent Hasselblad X1D articles so far. From reading the manual, I has already assumed some complaints about operational issues and in general had suspected issues with auto-focus. The focus shift seen in the XCD lenses would be a serious matter to me as it always is.

I credit you for bringing the whole focus shift phenomenon to my attention through your articles in the past, at that point perfectly explaining the puzzling experiences I was having. In my opinion, one of the strong points of your lens reviews is the inclusion of examination of focus shift, not many other (if any) reviewers do that, and many people do not even know what it is or bother at all.

That said, I found it strange that your review of the Nikon AF-S 105mm f/1.4E ED did not include anything on focus shift. May I ask if you experienced focus shift with this lens during your testing or did you simply not test for this?

Thanks in advance and I am already looking out to the next X1D articles and GFX when it arrives!

DIGLLOYD: there is a lot of wishful thinking when it comes to focus shift, but given the high performance of so many lenses today, I consider the ability to obtain spot-on focus a top priority when choosing and using a system. Focus means both autofocus and focus shift (if any).

As for the Nikon 105/1.4, I did not document focus shift because I observed none when shooting all of the closeups up on this page—the 105/1.4E ED is a very impressive lens which I would rate just slightly shy of Otus grade. I am thinking that I should formally document focus shift with all lenses going forward.

Non-stop storms have made outdoor work difficult. I do plan on field shooting the X1D over the course of several weeks. Right now, I am nailing down all the particulars I can with everyday ordinary subjects and not so nice lighting, but I sure would like to see a supermajor wildflower bloom or get into the mountains—early March may offer some opportunities if B&H allows me to keep the loaner long enough. I also plan on covering the Hasselblad XCD 30mm f/3.5.

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 45mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Pomegranates on Picnic Table

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This series assesses overall image quality as well as focus shift at medium range on a nicely saturated subject with overcast rainy skies.

I chose this setup for two reasons: (1) to see overall sensor quality, particularly the rich greens and reds, but also the dark rich blackish wood tones.

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Pomegranates on Picnic Table

Includes image sizes up to 36 megapixels along with large crops, from f/3.5 through f/12.

I feel quite grumpy about the focus shift seen here: the whole premise of a medium format camera is superior image quality (which assumes perfect technical execution), but if the system places hurdles like focus shift in one’s path, it’s a chore instead of a joy.

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

Hasselblad X1D: Long Exposures

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

This 5+ minute exposure pushes the camera hard:

  • No long exposure noise reduction was used for the 323 second exposure.
  • Image is nearly two stops underexposed, but also pushed by +0.85 stops + Shadow boost.
  • White balance of 10500°K, which relies heavily on the blue channel.

Hasselblad X1D: Long Exposure (5+ minutes) with Push (Storm-Swollen Creek)

Includes image sizes up to 36 megapixels along with crops, RawDigger histograms, and discussion of Adobe Camera Raw processing settings.

I’m really enjoying the sensor quality of the Hasselblad X1D (sensor means sensor plus processing pipeline), but boy does an f/3.5 lens suck at dusk—nothing but a red haze in Live View so I had to use a 5000 lumen Betty TL2 flashlight to illuminate the creekbed while focusing.

Storm-Swollen Creek
__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Baseball Diamond

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

Sometimes I shoot things on a hunch that some instructive results will be found—that was indeed the case here, this ugly lighting but useful subject providing insights into two key areas.

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Baseball Diamond

Includes image sizes up to 36 megapixels along with large crops, at f/3.2 and f/6.3.

High lens performance can come with a cost: moiré. I discuss a workaround.

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

Hasselblad X1D + XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Yellow House Viewed Across Green Meadow at Dusk

See my Hasselblad X1D wish list.

In my review of the Hasselblad X system in the medium format section is now added this aperture series at far distance, an important complement to the earlier close-range technical assessments.

Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Yellow House at Dusk, Viewed Across a Green Meadow

Includes image sizes up to 36 megapixels along with large crops, all at f/3.2, f/6.3, f/9 along with a discussion of optical and sensor quality.

I like a ~74mm (equivalent) focal length for outdoors work quite a bit . It is a neglected focal length since we usually get 85mm or 90mm.

__METADATA__

Hasselblad X1D REVIEWED: Overview and General, ISO Series from 100 to 25600, 90/3.2 Aperture Series

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

It has been a deluge here in the San Francisco Bay Area, for several days and today again even stronger. I think we got a foot of rain in two days. California needs the water, but I for one am getting tired of nonstop clouds and rain. I am just glad I do not live in a flood plain. I tested the water sealing of the X1D yesterday, briefly, but it’s hard to do much in the rain.

My review of the about $8995 Hasselblad X1D in my new medium format section has now begun, to be followed by the Fujifilm GFX in early March.

  • Overview of Hasselblad X1D
  • Hasselblad X1D Sensor Size and Quality Expectations
  • Hasselblad X1D Aspect Ratio: X1D 4:3 vs 35mm 3:2
  • Hasselblad X1D Format Equivalent Focal Length, Depth of Field
  • Magnified Live View Operation
  • Hasselblad X1D ISO Series from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (Dolls)
  • Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Dolls
  • Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Focus Shift Assessment (Lens Align Target) Added 7 Feb
  • Hasselblad XCD 90mm f/3.2 Aperture Series: Focus Shift Assessment (Bottle with Lettering) Added 7 Feb
__METADATA__
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

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 $1325. Shows some wear, but perfect glass and mechanical.
  • Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G $250
  • Nikon AF-S 85m f/1.4G $1050
  • Nikon AF-S 105mm f2.8 ED VR macro $600
  • Nikon AF 105mm f/2D DC-Nikkor $925 LNIB
  • Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II $1425
  • Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 21mm f/2.8 Distagon $1150
  • Zeiss ZF.2 35mm f/2 Distagon $900
  • Zeiss ZF.2 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar $875
  • Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar $1475 (particularly outstanding copy with superb symmetry at distance)

Canon mount

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

  • Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye $525
  • Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM $400 LNIB
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II $1375 excellent (lens hood has scratches, but lens is very lightly used).
  • Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L $590
  • Zeiss ZE 21mm f/2.8 Distagon: $1225 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $975 LNIB
  • Zeiss ZE 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar: $1375 LNIB

Olympus

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

Leica

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

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

Rodenstock and Schneider view camera lenses

All on Linhof Technikardan lens boards, copal shutters.

  • Rodenstock 135mm f/5.6 APO-Sironar-S Copal shutter + Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFE PRISTINE
  • Schneider 400mm f/5.6 APO-TELE-XENAR Copal shutter+ Linhof Technikardan lens board $MAKE_OFFER PRISTINE
  • Fujifilm Fujinon A 240mm f/9
  • Linhof Tecknikdarn 4 X 5 View camera with quickload holders and various mounting boards.
Performance Package for Mac Pro or iMac 5K
For iMac 5K or For 2013 Mac Pro
Recommended by diglloyd as ideal for photographers and videographers
ends in 2 days

Sigma sd Quattro-H: DNG Files Shrink by More than 50% After Adobe DNG Converter

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

I go into both the bit depth and file size issues in more detail in File Size: DNG vs X3F in my review of the Sigma sd Quattro-H in Guide to Mirrorless.

Sigma sd Quattro DNG file size,
before and after Adobe DNG Converter

There is a long discussion below, but I want to uplevel this to the key point as I see them now, pertaining to the Sigma sd Quattro H:

  • Out-of-camera DNG files are huge because they are uncompressed, and also 12-bit vs the 14 bits of X3F format. However, it’s not clear that 14 bits helps in any way given the noisy sensor.
  • Using DNG precludes ever using Sigma Photo Pro, which could be an issue, as one of my comparisons shows.
  • Running Sigma sd Quattro H DNG files through Adobe DNG Converter cuts the size by more than 50% (via compression), and finished images are identical to before conversion.
  • DNG converter destroys file dates during conversion, although the EXIF info still contains the original date.

Bottom line: Sigma shooters wishing to use Lightroom or Photoshop/ACR can save 50% or more in file size by running Sigma DNG files through Adobe DNG Converter, with no loss in image quality vs out-of-camera DNG.

....

In Sigma sd Quattro-H: Shoots X3F as Usual, or DNG With a Huge Size Penalty, I discussed the huge file size penalty for shooting DNG files instead of X3F format.

On a lark, I decided to convert DNG files using Adobe DNG Converter 8.7.1.311. That is, convert DNG from the camera to DNG. This should be a no-op, but instead it has a major effect.

Adobe DNG Converter shrinks DNG files from the Sigma sd Quattro H by more than 50%.

As shown at right, the file shrinks from 150MB to 65.5MB, a reduction of 56%. What is lost exactly? Obviously something went away. Or, maybe not, as the evidence shows no difference in the final image quality, zero difference.

This behavior raises the whole data loss concern I have always had about converting camera original camera raw files to DNG.

But could it all be just lossless compression starting from an uncompressed DNG? That is the claim by Eric C (towards end of post).

One might think that the savings is from removing an embedded original (e.g., an X3F). But Adobe DNG Converter 8.7.1.311 states that there is no embedded original. Still, there might be—if the camera DNG is non-compliant and thus trips up the Adobe DNG Converter.

Sigma sd Quattro H: DNG files have no extractable embedded original using Adobe DNG Converter 8.7.1.311
Sigma sd Quattro H: DNG files have no extractable embedded original using Adobe DNG Converter 8.7.1.311

Roy P writes:

For several years now, Sigma has been trying to get Adobe to integrate its Foveon cameras into Lightroom, and even offered up its RAW conversion software. But Adobe has not cooperated because a lot of the operations in Lightroom are hard-coded to traditional Bayer matrix. To accommodate the Foveon would require too many touch points in the software (properly referred to as “bloatware”, coming from Adobe, but I digress.) Adobe can’t justify the cost of incorporating and maintaining all those changes – Sigma is simply not a big player in the camera business.

So Sigma had no option but to require its users either shoot JPEG or do a conversion to TIFF and use a convoluted workflow. It is less of an issue for people who use Photoshop as their workflow, but that is a minority. Most people use Lightroom, and for them, it’s a real pain. In my own case, I own all the three DPx Merrils, and I’d love to use them, but I use a Lightroom workflow and I’m so used to it that I find it a hassle to use the DPx Merrills – it has been more than a year since I used any of them, and I’m wondering why I even continue to have them.

It looks like for the Quattro-H, Sigma has decided to provide an optional DNG output, pretty much as the Leica S and M cameras do. This ensures compatibility with Lightroom, and helps Sigma gain more acceptance. Problem is, in doing this, I suspect Sigma may have had to sacrifice some IQ by essentially Bayerizing its Foveon data to make it DNG compatible. That would explain differences between processing TIFF files with Photoshop yielding in sharper images with better colors than shoving DNG files of the same scenes through Lightroom.

Another issue is, even for Bayer sensors, the DNG format might be suboptimal. A PhaseOne dealer once told me the DNG format degrades the image quality by limiting color space and dynamic range. He didn’t know exactly how, but the obvious suspect would be lossy compression – if certain fields are limited to certain number of bits or bytes, then by definition, some values would have to be truncated, or some spectral frequencies cut off. This guy’s claim was, RAW processing and developing in CaptureOne delivered better image quality than DNG and LR or Photoshop. He called DNG a consumer format and the “lowest common denominator”. As a PhaseOne guy, he might have been biased, but there could be some truth to it.

So between the two issues, converting to DNG could be losing a lot of the benefits of shooting with a Foveon camera. It may be best to use the Sigma software, even if the workflow becomes non-standard.

DIGLLOYD: The files before/after are identical in the resulting finished RGB image.

I’m not an expert on the ins and outs of raw format, but I’ve long recommended sticking with the native format that the camera shoots (not converting to DNG)—it’s a safe choice that is not really debatable. Whether or not DNG is inferior in generally is unclear to me, but it’s clear that DNG from the Sigma sd Quattro is 12 bits, and X3F is 14 bits, and the behavioral difference between X3F and DNG that I document is another downside of DNG over and above the huge hit in file size (though the conversion addresses that).

Philip S writes:

I think this part of Roy P’s comment is wrong, fed to him by an ignorant, or perhaps biased as he says, PhaseOne dealer.

1. The only “color space” that could be said to be “in" a native raw or dng file is the camera RGB “space”. True, if you use ACR/Lightroom, CIE XYZ will be the bridge between camera RGB and your working RGB space (ProPhoto, Adobe, etc.). Given that CIE XYZ was developed specifically to include all colors that humans can see, it is not going to be a “limiting color space.” Empirically, the translation of camera RGB to XYZ is always done with “error” — sometimes described as camera sensors not satisfying the Luther condition perfectly.

We know what ACR/Lightroom does, but we don’t know what Sigma PhotoPro or CaptureOne do. It’s possible that neither uses CIE XYZ as the bridge between camera RGB and working RGB spaces. Or, that they are using different methods to estimate the camera-RGB-to-XYZ conversion matrix (if they are using XYZ). If Sigma PhotoPro does not use CIE XYZ, that could explain the color differences between X3F and DNG files. I stress that that is pure speculation, and doesn’t seem very likely to me. It’s also possible that Sigma made a conscious decision to render colors differently. The camera-produced DNGs presumably include camera-RGB-to-XYZ conversion matrices developed by Sigma. Otherwise, I don’t think they would work with ACR/Lightroom, or perhaps ACR/Lightroom would default to some generic camera profile. Something I think Sigma would not want to happen. Assuming the matrices are in the DNGs, it would be interesting to know if they change depending on the camera color mode setting (Standard, Neutral, Portrait, etc.). One would hope not, but one never knows.

2. Compression. See my preceding message describing what happens when an uncompressed ARW is converted to DNG. A limited test on a single image, but no degradation apparent even though file size is reduced by almost 50%. BTW, if I run that DNG through DNG converter again, there is NO additional compression.

3. In short, I can imagine several reasons why colors are different between X3F files processed through PhotoPro and DNG files processed through ACR. But, I’m skeptical that DNG-ifying is the real culprit, unless it’s the requirement to use CIE XYZ as the bridge between camera RGB and working RGB (or unless the compression is not truly loss-less).

DIGLLOYD: Obviously an uncompressed Sony ARW raw file is going to see a file size reduction, just as Nikon and Canon see, by default. But there is more going on I think.

Savings of 50% for image compression are rare, particularly well-exposed images whose high bits are non-zero (my files were optimally exposed and thus have no zeroed high bits to improve the compression). CaNikon typically achieves 30% or so for lossless compression (NEF and CR2).

Sigma sd Quattro DNG file size,
before and after Adobe DNG Converter

What does RawDigger say? What about the processed images?

Something went missing in the conversion to the tune of 56% of the file size. One can make a weak argument for compression, but it does not seem credible to the tune of 56% given that the zip-compresssed file is far larger.

CaNikon generally do not achieve more than about 35% in NEF and CR2 files. It just is not possible to save 56% on a highly detailed file, let alone one with a lot of low-level noise like the Sigma files. So the evidence strongly suggests that something is removed during DNG conversion (which does not preclude some savings from compression).

Still, what most users care about is the data that ACR will process and thus the finished RGB image. And as the RawDigger histograms show, there is no difference between the out-of-camera DNG and the converted DNG (toggle to compare).

So the RawDigger seems to be identical, but the final test is to calculate the pixel differences between raw conversions from the two files (Edit => Calculations…). I did so—no difference—none.

RawDigger histogram before after conversion of Sigma sde Quattro DNG file using Adobe DNG Converter 8.7.1.311

Eric C writes:

The reduction of ~50% (2:1) in file size that you're observing when applying the Adobe DNG Converter is normal and expected. This is because the original DNG files in this case are uncompressed. By default, Adobe DNG Converter will save the converted DNG output by applying lossless compression to the raw image data. This lossless compression typically saves around 2:1 compared to an uncompressed raw file.

The same compression ratio (around 2:1) also applies when converting uncompressed non-DNG raw files (for example, 14-bit uncompressed NEFs from a Nikon D810) to lossless-compressed DNG.

The reason you typically don't see 2:1 when comparing to Canon CR2 is because the mosaic raw data in Canon CR2 files are already lossless-compressed using Canon's own method. And similarly, many users shooting with Nikon cameras are actually using Nikon's own lossless compressed format (not uncompressed). Converting to DNG afterward may still save some extra space, for technical reasons (*).

(*) Lossless compression of raw image data is usually based on a so-called Huffman transform or tree. When saving out new DNGs, the DNG Converter analyzes the raw image data to (dynamically) configure the compression method to save the most space. This optimization step takes a little more time, but can sometimes squeeze out some more size savings.

...

The Huffman-based coding (a.k.a., Lossless JPEG) is usually modified in a critical way for mosaic raw files: namely, that it takes advantage of the fact that in a mosaic pattern (such as Bayer), the predictors are based on the repeating color pattern (e.g., reds are used to predict reds, greens are used to predict greens, etc.). It's very difficult for a more general compression method that doesn't "know" this layout a priori to get similar compression ratios.

I am not sure about the increased file size in the "compressed off" case, but I suspect it's probably because the DNG Converter's uncompressed mode uses 16 bits (2 bytes) to represent each pixel, whereas the source Sigma DNG is probably using 14 bits to represent each pixel, and the adjacent bits are packed.

DIGLLOYD: Years ago, I filed several patents on compression, including delta-pixel compression for images. So my main issue here is working blind on what is being done in this case.

CaNikon files are lossless compressed unless one is foolish enough to choose uncompressed so yes it's a given that the big savings are not going to be achieved. But there may still be some space savings if indeed CaNikon use the inefficient algorithm of Huffman compression, and not Lempel-Ziv with pixel-delta preprocessing.

I’m more than glad to be proven wrong, but I can’t dispute the savings other than to say that 56% is unusually good for image files. My further thoughts:

  • Nothing changes these two facts: a particular vendor’s RAW file processing software will not work with DNG (e.g., Nikon Capture NX, Canon Digital Professional, Sigma Photo Pro).
  • If the original raw is not embedded then something is surely lost. See previous point.
  • My understanding from Eric’s note is that CaNikon are dumb enough to use Huffman encoding instead of Lempel Ziv. It may be a CPU power / memory issue, I don't know, but it sucks to foist larger than necessary files totaling terabytes over time onto hapless users. Still, it’s better than uncompressd format.
  • Why can gzip -9 save only 27% on the same file vs 56% for DNG. I presume it’s one of the delta-pixel offset optimizations (I patented such an approach), but I don’t know.
  • When compression is disabled during DNG conversion (Custom...) and JPEG Preview=None, why does the output file increase in size from 150MB to 179MB? That is, 29MB larger.

A final note on DNG

I dislike DNG for two reasons:

  • Using DNG in Photoshop/ACR modifies the DNG file every time a change is made. This approach means that a backup may have to copy many gigabytes instead of a few kilobytes of sidecar files. It also means that the file modifications dates are rewritten. It also entails the risk of file damage if anything goes wrong, though hopefully Adobe at least does that part correctly. Basically, I want my original raw files LEFT ALONE.
  • Conversion of DNG files via DNG converter destroys the creation and modification dates. I consider this DATA LOSS. Date and time of shooting are highly relevant. Yes, I know they should be buried in there in the EXIF info in the DNG, but that’s just not good enough.

I wish Adobe would fix these nasty behaviors. The only workaround is to lock the DNG files—doing so causes Photoshop/ACR to create sidecar files as with any other non-DNG raw format.

Adobe DNG Converter destroys both creation and modification dates

Sigma sd Quattro-H: ISO Series from 100 to 1600

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

I take a look at the Sigma sd Quattro H from ISO 100 to ISO 1600.

Sigma sd Quattro H: ISO Series from 100 to 1600 (Dolls)

Sigma sd Quattro-H

Image at sizes up to full 25.5 megapixel resolution, with RawDigger histogram and Sigma Photo Pro settings.

I have to wonder why such a specialty camera just does not stay on-mission and offer a base ISO of 50 or 64 and at most one higher ISO, like ISO 100. Or even just one base ISO.

The idea that ISO 1600 is useful is certainly true—to someone somewhere—which is what wrecks the best designs. I don’t use a screwdriver to pound nails, or eat soup off a plate. Let the tool be true to its potential, which means eliminating all the stuff that clutters it.

__METADATA__
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

In My Hands: Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Hasselblad X1D

See my Hasselblad X1D-50C wish list and Really Right Stuff wishlist.

I discussed the Really Right Stuff BX1D L-Plate for the Hasselblad X1D last week.

Just arrived, the fit and finish are superb. It will go onto the Hasselblad X1D when it arrives on Monday.

Really Right Stuff BX1D-L for Hasselblad X1D

Sigma sd Quattro-H: DNG vs X3F Image Quality (Updated)

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

See also Sigma sd Quattro H File Size: DNG vs X3F.

Yesterday’s post discussed the DNG vs X3F file size issue. But setting aside the huge storage hit from using DNG, how does image quality work out for DNG vs X3F?

Sigma sd Quattro H: DNG vs X3F (Dolls, Daylight)

Sigma sd Quattro H: DNG vs X3F (Dolls, Long Exposure)

Image at sizes up to full 25.5 megapixel resolution, with RawDigger histogram and both ACR and SPP settings shown.

Curiously, there is one major behavioral difference seen in the longer exposure that is not seen in the shorter exposure, a behavior that adds to the negatives for DNG.

Sigma sd Quattro-H

The choice of DNG vs X3F is not all all clear-cut, involving file size issues, workflow issues, and now as shown in this comparison—very different results from ACR than from Sigma Photo Pro, with no way to get the two to look the same, at least not that I could find.

It’s a bitter pill to finally have DNG support but with all this baggage. I urge any Sigma sd Quattro shooter to consider the choice carefully, at least not assuming anything without making a similar assessment.

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

Hasselblad X1D En Route for Review

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

My review of the about $8995 Hasselblad X1D will bring major additions to my new medium format section, to be followed by the Fujifilm GFX in early March.

See recent coverage of the Hasseblad X1D and recent coverage of the Fujifilm GFX.

Regrettably, “UPS Next Day” sent on a Friday means Monday delivery. Also, I was not able to get an extra battery, so I’m hoping the battery life is reasonably good for field work.

I generally buy Really Right Stuff L-brackets for all the cameras I use, and I’m glad that the Really Right Stuff BX1D is here and ready for the X1D as soon as it arrives.

The medium format section is included in the everything/full subscription deal. Subscribers should login for reduced pricing on the everything deal.

Hasselblad X1D shipping status
Hasselblad X1D, top view
OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Sigma sd Quattro-H: Shoots X3F as Usual, or DNG With a Huge Size Penalty

See my Sigma mirrorless wish list.

I go into both the bit depth and file size issues in more detail in File Size: DNG vs X3F in my review of the Sigma sd Quattro-H in Guide to Mirrorless.

Be careful what you wish for: the about $1199 Sigma sd Quattro-H shoots DNG as one option, but the 150MB file sizes vs 68MB for X3F are a huge (literally!) downside that certainly gives me pause about using DNG.

Shoot 10 frames and you’re at a whopping 1.5GB. Yikes. It seems to me that an X3F to DNG converter makes a lot more sense, perhaps one that could properly compress the data in the DGN.

Image dimensions as processed from DNG is 6192 x 4128 = 25.5 megapixels, which by basic math means that each pixel in the finished image consumes 5.88 bytes of storage = ~47 bits per image pixel.

Sigma sd Quattro-H

The Sigma sd Quattro-H sensor is a semi true-color sensor with multiple layers. See Sigma dp Quattro Sensor Design. These Quattro sensor layers are not all full resolution as they are in the Sigma DP Merrill sensor:

  • Blue layer: full spatial resolution, broad panchromatic sensitivity
  • Red layer: 1/2 spatial resolution = 1/4 the data of the blue layer
  • Green layer: 1/2 spatial resolution = 1/4 the data of the blue layer

Which implies 14 bits + 7 bits = 21 bits per image pixel.

Why are 47 bits per image pixel stored if the sensor data requires only 21 bits? Does the DNG contain both the X3F as well as a duplicate perhaps? If so, why won’t Sigma Photo Pro 6.5.0 process DNG files?

Sigma sd Quattro DNG file size is little different from 16-bit uncompressed TIF. But see Sigma sd Quattro-H: DNG Files Shrink by More than 50% After Adobe DNG Converter.

File sizes for Sigma sd Quattro-H: DNG vs X3F vs TIF
16-bit TIF: 25.5 MP * 6 bytes per pixel = 153 MB of pixel data

Bits per pixel

That’s all theory. RawDigger shows that DNG is 12-bit and that X3F is 14-bit. So bigger files with DNG and you lose 2 bits. Not so appealing and rather strange too.

It’s discouraging that using DNG will extract its pound of flesh: the 36MP Pentax K-1 in SuperRes pixel shift mode stores 4 exposures in one file, which implies up to 260MB, but it actually produces files around 191MB on average. The Pentax uses lossless compression to keep file sizes “reasonable”. Apparently the Sigma sd Quattro is not nearly so successful (3 layers and only 2/3 the pixels per layer implies something much less efficient).

USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

Reader Comment: Medium Format vs Nikon D810 and Future Nikon

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

Michael E writes:

Unfortunately, I can’t afford both the GFX and the X1D, barely one of them, but I have sold enough older lenses to pay for one complete system. I like the X1D intuitively, because I am trained in “fine things,” but the larger battery, Retina-LiveView screen, and on and on, tells me I should just get the GFX.

It is the Nikon D810 replacement I have been waiting for and what I need to continue forward. But the thought of just taking photos with the minimalist X1D is very, very tempting. I can’t do both.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 APO-Planar

I feel, as you must, that this is a good time to add a section for Medium Format. The posters on many forums can make fun all they want of these two new mirrorless and claim that they are not really large enough (megapixel-wise) to qualify as MF, , but those are mostly old-timers. The high-end DSLR folks like me are ready for this level of MF. To us, this “IS” MF, period. Call it what you want.

Now, if Nikon came out with a 54 megapixel beast, Ouch! The fact is I cannot own all the good camera stuff I would like. The D810 is, by far, the very best camera I have ever used.

Things I have been asking around on forums about about with these two include:

  • Can I get the Hasselblad color look with the GFX?
  • Does the GFX have a baked in “too vivid” look, perhaps even in raw? Is that possible?
  • To know more about exactly what lenses that we love on Nikon (or Canon) will fit on the GFX adapter to F-Mount, when it appears.
  • Compare Leaf and Focal-Plane Shutters. Show us more about how to use the leaf-shutters as fill light, chapters and verse. Don’t assume I know much about flash, because I never us it.

Anyway, right now many of the big posters in this DSLR/MF genre are asking questions about this new format. If I were building a MF section, I would aim it at folks like me: DSLR owners ready to jump toward MF.

DIGLLOYD: it’s crazy that Nikon has kept loyal users waiting, since now the competition is both from Sony mirrorless and from medium format. You snooze, you lose. But Nikon could pull a rabbit out of the hat with the right feature set (50MP, EVF option Pentax style pixel shift, mirrorless design with Nikon F-mount like the Sigma sd Quattro).

We already have 50 megapixels in the 35mm format: the Canon 5Ds R. I’ve had trouble finding more sharpness with it than the Nikon D810, even with Zeiss Otus. Thus it may be more a matter of per pixel image quality, including things like the Pentax K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode to take up the quality banner. But hopefully the technology now allows 50 megapixels in a “D900” successor with similar same per-pixel quality as the D810 (noise, dynamic range in particular). A base ISO of 50 might do the trick like the super-nice ISO 64 of the D810.

John G writes:

I notice that I’m not your only reader who is thinking about making or has made the move to MF. And for very similar reasons.

The Nikon D810 may be, arguably, the most complete and sensible choice even now, when you consider its intrinsic IQ combined with an overwhelmingly large and flexible choice of lenses. Aside from the D810’s wonderful image quality, and per-pixel beauty, lens selection itself is the most compelling reason to return to or stick with a camera like the D810, especially when you begin comparing the full-frame lens cornucopia to the meager selection of MF. The Nikon (and Canon) systems not only grants access to an embarrassment of lens choices, but state-of the-art quality, too.

There are no economies of scale currently in MF, and so little motivation for a company like Zeiss to push the envelope in the MF arena. The market is just too small. Although, that being said, there is small chance this could change with Fuji’s entry, to a lessor extent, with the Pentax and X1D.

Pentax could be ostensibly credited with being the author of this market movement, but, unfortunately, Pentax lacks the cutting-edge mentality requisite to attract and keep the very audience who is drawn to MF in the first place. The pragmatic folks at Pentax seemingly lack any understanding of the concept cachet.

Medium format is not an entirely rational choice, and is fueled to a large extent by a (un-pragmatic) desire to uniquely push the envelope. Pentax has little idea of how to create and maintain the kind of mystique necessary for this group of buyers. Too bad, though, because, unlike perhaps Leica (aside from those wonderful lenses), there is a substantial chunk of meat on Pentax’s performance bones.

Would that you could combine Leica’s (or, better yet, Zeiss’s) expertise for great glass with Hasselblad’s or, for that, matter Pentax’s penchant for building truly high-performance sensor/processors. Kind of like the Hassy/Zeiss days…. Ironic, isn’t it, that Zeiss themselves have abandoned the very market segment originally responsible for creating their legendary status.

DIGLLOYD: a Nikon D810 with very high quality lenses (Zeiss Otus) already rivals medium format. A future “Nikon D900” could make that contest even closer.

I do not see medium format as an irrational choice; it serves a need, assuming its benefits pan out (file quality, lens quality, usability, etc), all vs the best DSLR shot with high-grade lenses like Zeiss Otus.

But if one takes medium format as irrational, then the Leica SL is surely insanity as compared to the medium format Fujifilm GFX or Hasselblad X1D systems: pricing is comparable or better for medium format, lens choices are already superior, far superior total image quality, twice the resolution, etc. Thus I see medium format as far more 'rational' as per the above comment than the Leica SL could ever be. I don’t even see Leica as viable given the haphazard visionless management.

I agree that it is unlikely that Zeiss would take up medium format lenses for Fujifilm GFX or Hasselblad X1D. However, a future Sony and/or CaNikon medium format entry might change the market considerations. If the market segments itself into a lower-cost but still high-end medium format tier which carves off the top tranche of the high-end DSLR market (presumably the most profitable segment of all), then the potential changes.

Reader Comment: Medium Format vs Nikon D810

See my Zeiss DSLR lens wish list and other wish lists.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

John G writes:

The combination of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon remains extremely difficult to beat, even by medium format.

Medium format has intrinsic qualities that the D810/Zeiss combo lacks, but the reverse observation is equally true.

DIGLLOYD: the late Dr. Nasse of Zeiss had something to say on the matter; see The Medium Format 'Look' in Guide to Zeiss. The key is "equivalent aperture and lens design".

There is nothing obvious or self-evident to me that either the Hasselblad X1D or Fujifilm GFX will offer superior total image quality over a Zeiss Otus shot on a Nikon D810 or its presumable successor—even dynamic range is not a given. Noise, because of the larger sensor area, ought to be lower, but not necessarily.

Image quality is a sum total of everything, so I’m assuming nothing as yet about these two new cameras. In particular, the Fujifilm GFX lenses might not have anything remotely approaching Otus quality at the (equivalent) first few apertures. We shall see.

Reader Comment: Hasselblad X1D “no electronic shutter” vs Fujifilm GFX Shutter Modes

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

Bart H writes about the Hasselblad X1D:

No electronic shutter options whatsoever…

DIGLLOYD: presumably the idea is that a leaf shutter suffices. Except that it does not suffice if one ever wished to shoot an adapted lens that lacks a leaf shutter. Which means just about all lenses. Thus the Hasselblad X1D can never work with adapted lenses unless the X1D is (a) actually capable of using an electronic first curtain (EF) shutter, and (b) Hasselblad updates the firmware to make it an option.

Fujifilm GFX shutter modes

The Fujifilm GFX has both a mechanical shutter and more shutter modes than any camera that I can recall, including an all-electronic shutter. Fujifilm apparently went to some trouble to do the shutter right. I don’t yet understand all these options or how to use them, but it’s clear that Fujifilm was thinking in very general terms about how the GFX might be put to work.

Fujifilm GFX shutter modes
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

Reader Question: Hasselblad X1D Leaf Shutter and Fill Flash (and Ricoh GR)

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

Michael E writes:

Since I don’t use flash, I am wondering whether I would want to use a small amount of flash outdoors with a camera like the X1D and its leaf shutter.

I don’t totally understand leaf shutters and their advantage, but perhaps with the X1D I might want to use a small amount of flash and a wider aperture for various effects. If you ever have time and there are any advantages to having a leaf shutter for outdoor work with the X1D, I would love to understand this better.

DIGLLOYD: fill flash for outdoors work is a HUGE plus. A leaf shutter allows far higher shutter speeds than are possible with focal plane shutters (a few have special multi-burst flash modes, but these can lead to artifacts due to the shutter curtain travel).

While fill flash is a big plus under many circumstances (see images below), I rarely use it because of the bulk and weight and general unbalanced awkwardness of a flash on the camera hot shoe. So I hugely prefer a built-in flash. Just as a camera not carried takes no pictures, a flash not carried provides no flash fill.

And so this is one disappointment with the Hasselblad X1D: the camera has leaf shutter lenses but lacks a small built-in flash that would make it even more compelling*. The svelte form factor appeal of the X1D is totally lost should a CaNikon-sized flash unit be mounted in the hot shoe. Worse, a stack of gear like that calls a lot of attention to itself precisely when I might not want it. A camera-powered dinky little unit good for -2 stops at up to eight feet distance would be a huge plus, if/when Hassy or someone should ever make one. Studio shooters won’t care, but I’d bet that a big part of the appeal of the X1D is also to outdoor shooters.

* A built-in flash might have been omitted because the lenses may be too large for a built-in flash to throw its light properly. But that would not stop an Olympus E-M1 II style mini flash option.

So the question with the X1D is how big/bulky the flash will be, and whether the camera can properly dial in and meter correctly for the -2 stops flash comp that I used in the images below for a natural look—the Ricoh GR sets the excellence standard, but few if any cameras can match it.

Howard C writes:

I understand your point about mounting a “serious” Nikon flash like the SB-700 on the X1D. However, one of the nice features of the X1D is that the camera is designed to be compatible with and operate seamlessly with Nikon flash equipment. The about $147 Nikon SB-300 is pretty svelte.

DIGLLOYD: the about $147 SB-300 might do the trick for both clearance and weight, weighing in only 97 grams (more with 2 AAA batteries, so maybe 130 grams or so). According to the Hasselblad specification sheet for the X1D:

Flash control: Automatic TTL centre weighted system. NikonTM compatible hotshoe Output can be adjusted from -3 to +3EV.

However, I have found that even Nikon flashes on Nikon suck for metering, at least compared to the Ricoh GR. So it remains to be seen just how well things actually work. I have three Nikon SB-800 units, which are a bit old, but I may borrow an SB-300 to try it out and confirm.

Fill flash examples

The best outdoors examples of fill flash are discussed in my review of the Ricoh GR, which has a leaf shutter lens and built-in flash and superb fill-flash balancing/metering—an awesome combination for bright outdoor conditions which remains unrivalled by any other camera system I’ve used regardless of cost.

I consider the Ricoh GR one of the best digital cameras ever made (now the about $599 Ricoh GR II), a true milestone, with a design usability unmatched by any camera on the market today. And a design sadly ignored by Pentax in its K series DSLRs.

Below, notice the subtle catchlights in the eyes, and lack of shadows on key areas of the face.

Dad and Daughter
f/5.6 @ 1/250 sec handheld, ISO 100 Ricoh GR with fill flash at -1.7

Fill flash subtly improves shadow areas when black outlines are undesirable.

At the Beach
f/9 @ 1/1500 sec handheld, ISO 100 +1.33 push
Ricoh GR with fill flash at -1.7 second

A touch of fill flash goes a long way towards any kind of outdoor shot.

Post-ride Chill
f/8 @ 1/100 sec, fill flash, Ricoh GR

A shot like this can be balanced with fill flash. Otherwise, it’s a choice of totally blown-out sky (and probably some lens flare) or a very dark face. The foggy background was blazingly bright, having almost burned off.

f/9 @ 1/800 sec handheld, ISO 400 +1.66 push Ricoh G
with fill flash (amount unknown)

Bart H writes:

Funny that you should write about the X1D flash capabilities as I was just pondering that. I downloaded the manual from the Hasselblad site and apart from the dreadful style and the multiple repetitions that succeed to make a very tiny amount of information look huge and confusing I must say I um underwhelmed and left with a lot of questions, one of which is regarding flash.

Does this camera really ONLY support center weighed TTL, the only mode I never use? I almost always use manual mode (yes, even for fill flash) and there is no such setting. How will the camera behave when the flash is set to manual?

The manual is very restrictive about the flash units to be used, just a handful of Nikon units basically. While many vendors state that damage may occur when connecting other types than their own, Hasselblad uses more restrictive terms by stating that “only Nikon flash units listed above …. can be connected to the hot shoe of the camera”. Surely, a simple center contact driven unit like the cheap but fine Yongnuo YN560 can be used, like on any other camera? Or remote controls? Doubt sets in…

But other things spring to mind when reading the manual: having dual SD slots without “backup” mode, only “overflow”? Again, “backup” is the only mode I ever use and it is really useful.

There does not seem to be an option to set white balance of a target such as a WhiBal card. While I do not shoot JPEG a lot, I find that this can be very useful in many indoor situations such as parties, where guests can be offered or mailed a picture when they leave later that evening.

No electronic shutter options whatsoever…

Have you read the manual? I hope that many shortcomings will be. or better yet, are already addressed in firmware updates and that the manual is simply already outdated.

I know that many vendors do a lousy job when it comes to manuals, and they hardly ever update them with firmware updates, but it is a bit disappointing to see that Hasselblad has started out with the same thing: a lot of (often repeated) words and pictures, very little useful information. Do we really need a whole page on removing and attaching the lens cap?

I am looking forward to your reviews and will definitively take a subscription to the MF section when your camera(s) arrive, I am very curious what you think about both the X1D af the GFX.

DIGLLOYD: this speaks directly to my concern... a camera can “support” a flash without making it particulularly easy to use well. With the Ricoh GR, I used aperture priority, dialing in (typically) -1.7 to -2.3 stops of flash compensation.

It is my intent to cover as many things like this as I can regarding operational aspects.

As for “no electronic shutter”, the idea is that a leaf shutter suffices—except that it does not suffice if one ever wished to shoot an adapted lens. Thus the Hasselblad X1D is never going to work with adapted lenses.

The Fujifilm GFX has both a mechanical shutter and more electronic modes than any cameras I’ve ever seen. Fujifilm apparently went to some trouble to do the shutter right. I don’t yet understand all these options or how to use them, but it looks to cover all the bases.

Fujifilm GFX shutter modes

Fujifilm GFX: Coming March 1

The Fujifilm GFX looks to be available March 1st, hot on the heels of the Hasselblad X1D.

The Fujifilm GFX looks to be the workhorse system camera, and the Hasselblad X1D looks to be the lighter svelte portable option.

It is exciting to have two medium format mirrorless cameras become available at about the same time. I am very curious to see my reactions to each including which system proves more amenable to field work (operational characteristics, reliability, annoyances and bugs, etc).

Ergonomics like physical comfort of the grip and size/weight of the camera + lens can matter a great deal. The grip on some cameras make my hand hurt by forcing a pinch-grip. Such things can be major dissatisfiers. The menu access and button design (and number available), whether there is a My Menu and so on.

Continues...

Fujifilm GFX availability

Given some time shooting, which system is more reliable in all sorts of ways, including autofocus accuracy, quirks and bugs, and even data loss (Pentax still has a problem!).

And then there are the “small” but crucially important things for the way I work, like whether the camera resets the self timer each shot or with power off, whether magnified live view is fast and intelligently done, including ease of invoking it and whether AF can be used to focus in magnified Live View for a precise choice. None of the foregoing are a given, plenty of camera vendors screw up such basics (including Fujifilm on the self timer-reset idiocy).

In short, all the things that always crop up with new camera designs, some things designed so badly you don’t think any camera designer could think it up—but did.

Bottom line—which one I’d want to buy and why. All that and more and full lens coverage will go into my reviews of these systems.

See all recent Fujifilm GF system coverage including Fujifilm GFX: Specifications of Note and Fujifilm GFX 50 Megapixel Medium Format Announced: Hi-Res Display Wonder (EVF, Rear LCD, Top Panel).

Shown below is much of the GF system, but see the Fujifilm GF wishlist for everything.

Hasselblad X1D-50C “Shipping in Quantity”

The Hasselblad X1D is shipping to USA customers. The number shipped is modest, and the backlog is far larger so how fast the backlog is dealt with I do not know—that’s up to Hasselblad.

Apparently customers who ordered the X1D last June (at least some of them) have received the X1D, as one reader confirms

Unfortunately I did not receive one of the few that did ship earlier this week, so my review will have to wait a bit longer until the next batch arrives.

An “all time high” can mean 50 cameras a week instead of 10, but this is very good news. I’m hoping to have a camera soon.

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

Hasselblad X1D starting to ship

Is Leica a Credible Player?

See my Leica M wishlist and Leica SL wishlist.

When I revisited my Leica S images from 2010, I was impressed in some ways, but mainly I was impressed at just how good Zeiss Otus lenses for Nikon/Canon are, and with 1+ stop more lens speed even accounting for format equivalent depth of field. And yet Leica S lenses are surely the best optical quality Leica has to offer (build quality is another matter entirely).

Is Leica a credible and viable player?

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

A Leica S buyer, fortunately lacking a Glock
  • The S system is all but dead, barring some mirrorless camera at a far lower price that can make use of S lenses. And from what I hear, Leica S build quality is poor with frequent breakdowns. It would be appropriate if Leica just issued a formal EOL statement, given its not even lackluster support for the platform.
  • The M system has left users like me hung out to dry. The new Leica M10 is all well and good, but good mainly for the small/light street shooter crowd, and cheerleader reviewers that leave me impressed with the awesome power of rationalizations. M lens development seems to be over, and even then I still think the Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon is the best all-arounder for M.
  • The SL system is a joke compared to the Hasselblad X1D or Fujifilm GFX. Two trips with the SL and if someone told me it cost half as much, I still would not buy one. The M system should be rediscovered by Leica. The SL is an also-ran (crawled?), arriving late to the party and serves no market need that I can see, barring some tiny niche.
  • Leica has shown very poor strategic judgment in failing to build on its M heritage, irritating and then pissing off M users like me, all while shoveling boatloads of R&D money into the S and SL and TL systems. Many $millions that could have made the M system a truly impressive platform. Money that is now gone and with three systems that are not competive with anything on any rational basis. I just can’t see investors shoveling more money down the toilet with the track record of the past 3 years, which shows a total failure in understanding the key appeal of Leica, that is the M system concept, which could have been replaced with a modern version with all new lenses, not the huge brick and massive lenses of the SL system.

I want the M-system BACK! Dump the TL and SL and S lines and put all R&D resources into M cameras, starting with a rangefinder-free high-res EVF model with 36 megapixels and sensor stabilization and PentaxK1-style pixel shift.

Sohail K writes:

I note that you often point out that Leica is in disarray. Broadly speaking, I don’t disagree, but you never mention the excellent Leica Q, which I think has been a very successful camera -- perhaps one of the greats in recent years.

If I recall right, you were once a strong advocate of fixed-lens cameras. Personally, I’d love to see Leica developing other focal lengths -- maybe a 50mm or 85mm. I could see that being a major development and significant blow to the others. Further, it wouldn’t be bad thing (though I’m not too crazy about this) if the Q got an interchangeable lens mount.

DIGLLOYD: the Leica Q is indeed “on mission”, as is the M10 (even though both disappoint me in several ways, particularly EVF and resolution with the M10). If Leica can refocus all resources on such cameras, there is a path.

Roy P (very large Leica S system) writes:

Wow. I can see thousands of wedding, events, glamor, sports and wildlife photographers dumping their Nikon / Canon / Sony kits with 2-3 cameras and proven lenses like 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 f/2.8, 85/1.4, 105 f/2.8, 300 f/2.8, 400 f/2.8, 600 f/4, etc., as well as master-slave flash systems, remote controls, etc., and buying up the SL and BOTH of its lenses.

Oh, wait, there’s a third lens now, the 50 f/1.4 for $5300 is supposed to have started shipping now in limited quantities.

It must be the Leica Display Protection Foil for SL (Typ 601) Mirrorless Digital Camera for $25 that is putting the SL into the pro category!

Amazing. Leica is delusional.

DIGLLOYD: when an S owner who has had nearly all the S lenses at one time and still has most of them starts thinking this way, it does not bode well for Leica.

Roy P has another go at it:

This discussion goes to show how utterly foolish Leica is. The M lenses, with all their design compromises like focus shifting, field curvature, sometimes flare, etc., have a very unique positioning in all of photography by virtue of their exceptionally compact size. Yes, they have issues like focus shifting, field curvature and sometimes, flare. But they also have their unique rendering styles that create overall pleasing images.

All Leica has to do is to make the M system the best it can be. If the purists want to pay $1500+ for the RF, fine, leave it in. But for those of us who want to make sharp images, have the ability to focus in low light, compose-first-focus-next, not have 20-30% of the viewfinder blocked by lenses, and more resolution, the roadmap seems very clear and far less expensive than the strategically incoherent and wasteful pursuits like the S system, the TL, and now, the SL system:

This would be my open letter to Andreas Kaufman:

1. Stop pretending Sony is a competitor. You have a 0.5% market share in photography, compared to Sony, which has some 20+% market share, and is a supplier of image sensors to camera makers ranging from Apple (iPhone, iPad) to PhaseOne (100MP). The list includes Nikon, Pentax and Hasselblad.

2. Visit Sony, get an audience with Hirai san (CEO), if possible, and work out a sourcing deal for Sony’s flagship 35mm FF sensors, as they become available. Remember to bring a pair of knee pads to the meeting.

3. To the RF purists, offer M cameras with the RF. But for those who don’t care for it, see if you can use the same space used by the RF to install a fast, high res EVF.

4. Upgrade other parts of the camera, like a retina-grade LCD back, scratch-resistant gorilla glass cover, a few customizable buttons (not the idiotic S / SL interface), fast processor, 5-axis image stabilization, pixel shifting, weather proofing, etc.

5. Shut down all other R&D, anything not related to the M system. Sell the S lens designs and technologies to either Hasselblad or Pentax. Get rid of the silly SL line before you are laughed out of the market, after sinking a lot more money into it.

6. Offer the M in at multiple resolutions (24, 36, 42, 50+ MP) with different prices, by essentially continuing to sell older models at lower prices. Offer other M variations (monochrome, limited editions, psychedelic colors, pearl capped shutter release buttons, etc. for the luxury end of the market).

7. Build up the M lens line, which has been stagnant for years now. Perhaps a 75 or 85mm Summilux, a 135mm f/2, a couple of ultra wide angles, a 16mm fisheye, a 100mm macro, maybe a 70-200mm f/4 zoom, and a few more compact f/2.8 and f/4 lenses.

8. Continue to make your specialty lenses for niche markets (cine, Micro 4/3, Leicasonic cameras) as your only non-M business.

9. Get some serious help in improving production quality and reliability of your gear, so things don’t fall apart after a couple of years of serious use. Engineer products not just for clever design and aesthetic appeal, but also for rugged performance year after year.

10. Invest some serious money into a better service infrastructure. Sell a priority service plan membership for $100 a year – I am sure a lot of customers would be willing to pay that. Above all, increase repair turnaround times from months to days.

Now you have a very sharply focused (pun intended) and highly defendable boutique company, but one that you can really excel in, and stay on top of your game, and that gets your customers delighted. You are also going to be far, far more profitable.

(Will probably fall on deaf years, but what the heck!)

DIGLLOYD: spot-on.

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

Really Right Stuff L-Plate for Hasselblad X1D

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

Really Right Stuff has an L-plate for the Hasselblad X1D.

I use Really Right Stuff plates on all my cameras. Besides the portrait-orientation mounting feature using the “L” dovetail, that L also protects the side of the camera from dings and scratches.

Description further below, but notice the built-in slot for the allen wrench as well as the custom form-fitting anti-twist flange designed into the base plate.

REALLY RIGHT STUFF® BX1D-L

San Luis Obispo, California, January 26, 2017 – Really Right Stuff, LLC (RRS) is excited to announce the BX1D L-plate for the Hasselblad X1D.

Really Right Stuff camera body plates are all custom designed for each camera body and precision machined from solid blocks of 6061-T6 aluminum. Fully compatible with any standard RRS 1.5” dovetail quick-release system, our plates feature precisely contoured anti-twist flanges for a perfect fit that prevents twisting between the camera and our plate.

All of our quick-release plates utilize a custom machined ¼"-20 threaded, captive-style mounting screw that threads into the tripod mounting socket of your camera body.

RRS camera L-plates feature two dovetail mounting surfaces in the shape of an “L"; one on the bottom of your camera, and one on the left-hand side. This additional mounting option allows you to quickly change between landscape and portrait orientations while minimizing the need to recompose your shot, saving you time and hassle. Also, L-plates keep your gear centered directly above the tripod’s apex which helps maintain the best stability possible.

  • Key Features:
  • Ergonomic design gives superior handling and unsurpassed reliability
  • Quick-release dovetail on base and side for fast & easy mounting
  • Features QD sockets on bottom and side
  • Built-in hex key storage for additional torque and convenience
  • Boss for accessory hand strap
  • Laser engraved center mark
  • Anodized; Type II Black
  • Notched cutout for access to cables and battery
  • One 1/4"-20 threaded accessory mounting socket
  • All components are made from high quality, CNC machined from solid 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum or stainless steel for maximum durability and minimum weight
Really Right Stuff BX1D-L for Hasselblad X1D
Which Camera System / Lenses Should I Get?
✓ Get the best system for your needs the first time: diglloyd photographic consulting.

Hasselblad X1D-50C has begun Shipping to USA Customers

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

THe Hasselblad X1D is shipping to USA customers. The number shipped is modest, and the backlog is far larger so how fast the backlog is dealt with I do not know—that’s up to Hasselblad.

Unfortunately I have not received one of the few that did ship, so my review will have to wait until the next batch arrives.

Update 27 Jan: An “all time high” can mean 10 cameras a week instead of 5, but this is very good news.

Hasselblad X1D starting to ship
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

Fujifilm GFX: Tilt Adapter for EVF

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list

The Fujifilm GFX comes complete with a high-res EVF (see spec sheet). As supplied, the EVF slots into the hot shoe for a conventional behind-the-camera viewfinder.

However, the optional Fujifilm EVF-TL1 EVF tilt adapter inserts into the hot shoe, with the EVF then slotting in on top. Thus installed, it offers 45° horizontal movement and up to 90° vertical tilt.

If I’m working in the field this tilting EVF rocks! It will be a big help when shooting on uneven terrain or low to the ground, where getting my eye behind a DSLR or Sony viewfinder is awkward. It’s a whole lot better than lying down on my stomach in an inch of water or soggy grass so I can see the viewfinder! A fair number of shots go unmade because of such limitations, particularly in wet spring conditions.

It affords shooting low angle shots with camera below me, with my head above the camera, such as when shooting low to the ground or on a steep slope, etc. Sometimes I want the tripod actually in the water, but I can’t consider such a shot given where my body would have to be to see through the viewfinder (in the water, and I’m not going buck-naked into snow melt to get the shot, I’m just not that dedicated).

The Fujifilm tilt adapter can also rotate to the side. Very nice and a huge plus in some shooting situations over the lower-resolution and built-in Hasselblad X1D EVF. Now consider (for tabletop shooting the like), a 6" retina LCD instead of the EVF... that would be slick also.

No Canon or Nikon or Leica S or other medium format camera offers this compelling usability feature*, though Sony does (add another EVF in the hot shoe besides the built-in one).

* Right-angle optical viewfinders for the OVF do exist (like the Nikon DR-6), but these are to it. OVF right angle viewfinders have very limited magnification (or none), certainly nothing approaching sensor resolution. And... right-angle only. Such OVF-based viewfinders are just not appropriate for high-res digital photography.

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

Fujifilm GFX: Specifications of Note

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list

I thought I’d call out the specifications of note with the new Fujifilm GFX found in the Fujifilm GFX data sheet. Of particular note:

  • Sensor cleaning, ultrasonic.
  • Purely electronic shutter option for ZERO vibration (not even a closing 2nd curtain).
  • Lossless-compressed raw (it’s about time that Sony figures that out, since uncompressed files are huge).
  • 3.69 megadot OLED EVF, 3.2-inch 2.36 megadot tilting rear LCD, 1.28-inch moncorhome LCD at camera top.
  • Ability to shoot via wireless remote.
  • USB 3.0 high speed. Unknown: can camera be charged via this connector? (probably not)
  • Almost a kilogram in weight without a lens. Body will be well over kg with an L-bracket.
  • No sensor stabilization, so no possibility of SuperRes pixel shift mode as per Pentax K1.

The specs as shown do not go into programmable buttons and such, but there are some.

Fujifilm GFX specifications
USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

Fujifilm GFX: Battery is on the LEFT side of Camera — Potential Problem for L Brackets

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list

Fujifilm GFX: battery is on left side of camera.

Barton T writes:

Super excited by this camera and it ticks all of the boxes so far for me: but I just noticed that maddeningly the battery door is on the left side of the camera (B&H first look promo video — they describe it a as a good feature!).

Sorry not a good placement in the case of using an L bracket. I loathe idea of using a tripod without an L bracket and ca

n’t understand anyone that doesn’t use one. So in the middle of a bracketed shot, or multiple exposures for a composite (done regularly for my architecture/interior work where one shot can involve quite a lot of time in setup and waiting between shots — for people to come into frame etc.) and the battery goes flat, there will be no way to change batteries without moving the camera position unless someone releases an L bracket that is offset from the head somehow, and that would be quite cumbersome.

Making sure the battery is not nearly flat before setting up a shot is obviously a new step i’ll have to add in my process I guess …

That doesn’t take into account commercial composite work where the camera might be set up for hours/days on the same shot, what then? Maybe the AC adapter port will be readily accessible?

Fujifilm GFX annotated

DIGLLOYD: Sigh... it seems that every camera vendor has to do at least one really confounding design mistake.

The annotated product view of the Fujifilm GFX confirms a left-side battery chamber placement. To make an L-bracket (does anyone at Fujifilm understand what an L-bracket is?), it’s going to have to be awkwardly large and thick (for strength) to fit around that battery door. Also, the rear LCD is going to get in the way, so it will probably have to be an extremely awkward forward-position offset “L”. This is really an inelegant design choice. Battery doors and SD cards at lower right work great—why invent a square wheel? And for those of us with more than one camera, muscle memory is now all wrong, and most of use are right handed as well.

Really Right Stuff says:

We’re well aware of the limitations of the new GFX camera design. We share your frustrations and are searching for a solution that will be as unobtrusive and minimalist as possible, while maintaining the quality and rigidity you’d expect from Really Right Stuff.

Right now we do not have access to the camera so until then, we will not be able to make a final determination on the design. Rest assured, we have our best brains together finding the optimal solution. As frustrating as it is, we know we cannot ignore this camera. Most likely, this plate will be a departure from our usual design aesthetic.

DIGLLOYD: really Right Stuff L-plates are excellent. I use them on all the cameras I shoot.

I’m thinking that I would rather just have a really sturdy L bracket that blocks off the battery door, one that builds in a slot for the necessary allen wrench as does the Canon 5Ds R L bracket—problem solved for me at least. And if the Fujifilm GFX can accept USB recharging, I could also (when stowed in my pack) run a USB battery-based charger to it while hiking, like an Anker PowerCore.

Another option is the about $599 Fujifilm VG-GFX1 Vertical Battery Grip (with a suitable L bracket), but that is costly and adds a lot of weight and bulk making it a non-starter for my strenuous hikes—and an unpleasant 'hang' on the neck even on shorter hikes.

Really Right Stuff L-plate

At right, see the custom plate for the Sony A7R, which has a cutout area of the battery compartment. The L portion is in the same plane as the bottom plate, and is removable. That simple arrangement will be difficult if not impossible on the Fujifilm GFX; the L will have to be offset somehow, or with a large gap which would require thicker and stronger metal.

Louis F writes:

Agree battery positioning could be better thought out. However, my Smart Flex L Bracket will work just fine with the GFX when in portrait position as the battery door appears to be well back of the L bracket and easily accessible. Plus it is an extremely fast way of switching camera between landscape and portrait modes. Keep in mind the SD card door is also on the left side. I used the Smart Flex L Bracket on a Hasselblad SWC and 503CW with P45+, Pentax 645Z and Phase XF with CF card door on left. The CF door on the P45+ was also on the left side of camera. A specific GFX bracket for the Smart Flex L Bracket would be most welcome. If I end up with a GFX I will follow up on these comments if there is interest. As matter of record I am in no way associated with Smart Flex nor do I benefit from any sales related to Smart Flex nor am I associated with any dealers selling Smart Flex.

DIGLLOYD: as per the picture, that battery door is exactly where the L bracket ought to go, as far as I can tell just from looking: the centering of the film plane is ideally the same for landscape vs portrait. The L part would have to go in front of the battery compartment door while allowing enough room for it to open, or behind it. I can’t see any physical way around that.

Also, the door is wide enough that it looks like at least 30mm or so of clearance is required for the door to swing open, which is not acceptable (that is, for the 'L' to be offset by an inch or more—awkward and ungainly). The camera is already bulky, and having to work around this quirky battery door design fart means a larger and heavier bracket so that it can maintain structural rigidity. I’ll bet that means 300 grams or more, instead of 220g or so.

The last camera I used with such an left-side boneheaded design was a Canon DSLR some years ago—that was the suckiest L bracket I have used, though Really Right Stuff did as good a job as could be done with it given the left-side issues.

Fujifilm GFX: battery chamber is on left side of camera.
4TB Internal SSD
for 2013 Mac Pro
Free how-to videos and tools included, 3-year warranty

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

See my Leica M wishlist and Leica SL wishlist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

__METADATA__
__METADATA__

Is Leica viable?

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

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

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

See my Hasselblad mirrorless list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

__METADATA__
__METADATA__

Fujifilm GFX Crop Factor for HC Lenses

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list

Louis F writes:

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

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

Fujifilm H Mount Adapter G

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frank L writes:

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

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

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

TheSwiss writes:

Just a quick one - there are various electronic issues with the older H lenses and/or the Fuji equivalent. It has to do with the EPROM inside the lens.

Some black Fuji lenses don't work on H bodies, starting with the H1, some old H lenses don't work properly on new H bodies and. The issue with the H adapter for the X1D is precisely that, some lenses autofocus some don't, apparently even within the same production run or "vintage" ... bizarre but true.

As another example - my 2 year old 150N works flawlessly on the H5D60 but gives me "lens errors" now and then on the H6D100 (in this case it is the shutter), not to mention the TS adapter which seems to make the new H6 very temperamental.
The beauty of small production series 😝

MPG: fun.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Fujifilm GFX 50 Megapixel Medium Format Announced: Hi-Res Display Wonder (EVF, Rear LCD, Top Panel)

See my Fujifilm GFX wish list.

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage.

Fujifilm GFX product spec PDF. Kinda baffling to justify low-res images in a PDF selling a MF camera.

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

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

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

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

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

High-res display wonder

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

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

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

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

Pricing:

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

Great strategy of offering two lens adapters also.

Shutter

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

Fujifilm GFX shutter modes

 

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

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX

Selected highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus Point Coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEC Extends Warranty to Five Years for Purchases Thru March 31

NEC extends Warranty on PA-series Displays to 5 years

See my Mac wish list.

My workhorse display is the NEC PA302W.

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

See my reviews of computer displays:

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

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

Leica M10: Inertial Design

See my Leica M wishlist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leica M10

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

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

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

Leica M10

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

24MP CMOS Sensor and Maestro II Processor

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

Optical Viewfinder and Rangefinder

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

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

Body Design and Built-In Wi-Fi

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

Other Camera Features

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

David S writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eagles, 2004

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

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

Coal Face, an aggressive young Bald eagle, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Coal Face, an aggressive young Bald eagle, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagles, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagles, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagles, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagle, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagle Convention, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__
Eagle Convention, Homer Alaska
__METADATA__

Bill Atkinson’s “Photo Card” for iPhone/iPad: Tangible Internet-Age Postcards

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

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

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

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

More info

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

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

How it works

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

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

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

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

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

Below, a not yet finished card.

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

Blog Takes Time

See my wish lists at B&H Photo.

I know a lot of readers out there like this blog. I love writing it.

But it takes a lot of time, business is tight, and I have to support my family.

So... if you are reading this blog (or MacPerformanceGuide.com) and you are not a subscriber, please consider subscribing to any of my publications.

Thank you,
Lloyd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roy P writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thom Hogan writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hasselblad X1D-50C: Communication and Delivery Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acquisition?

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

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

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

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

Howard C writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Execution and delivery

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

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

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

Another quote:

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

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

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

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

Howard C writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Brian K writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

Hasselblad X1D lens lineup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fujifilm GFX lens lineup

Get Fujifilm GF lenses at B&H Photo.

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

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

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

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

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX
World of Sigma and especially Sigma ART Lenses

Hasselblad X1D-50C or Fujifilm GFX?

Hasselblad X1D-50C

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

See Hasselblad X1D coverage and Fujifilm GFX coverage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
     
Fujifilm Fujinon lenses for Fujifilm GFX
Fujifilm GFX and EVF

Roy P writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

See Fujifilm GFX coverage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Wind and trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Huge Eucalyptus, Circa 1992
ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.
Storage Wishlist…

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

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

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

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

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

But...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jason W writes:

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

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

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

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

Roy P writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John D writes:

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

Really Right Stuff replies:

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

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

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

Barton T writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See my Mac wish list.

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

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

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

Here are the displays I recommend for various reasons:

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

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

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

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

Pluses and minuses of 2.5K

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Panasonic 12mm f/1.4 Examples: Around the Neighborhood

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

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

 
__METADATA__
 
__METADATA__
USB-C Dock for MacBook

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

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

See my binocular wish list.

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

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

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

 
Deal on Zeiss 8x42 Victory SF Binocular

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John D writes:

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

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

Darin B Writes:

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

Same binoculars, really.

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

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

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

See my micro four thirds wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
__METADATA__

James M writes:

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

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

MacPerformanceGuide.com

Reader Question: Sensor Pixel Density, Oversampling

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

David K writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Bayer matrix pixel arrangement

True color sensor

A true color sensor, like the sensors in the Sigma dp Merrill, Sigma dp Quattro and Sigma sd Quattro cameras cannot necessarily resolve more spatial detail on black and white test charts, but out in the real world, such a sensor can deliver much higher real detail because there is no demosaicing process, that is, no guessing about the actual color and detail as with a conventional Bayer marix sensor. That is why Sigma can legitimately claims equivalence to a far higher pixel count than the nominal image resolutions imply, even if Sigma’s claims exceed (on average) what I’d rate as the difference (about 50% better in terms of pixel count). So I deem a 24 megapixel Sigma sensor to be roughly equivalent to a 36 megapixel Bayer sensor—a little less at times, and significantly more for strongly monochromatic color images where a single color dominates.

The implication is this: with fewer photosites needed to accurately capture color, the demands on lens resolving power are reduced since fewer photosites mean lower pixel density. This is a hugely important distinction when even on 50 megapixels one can see the limitations of even Zeiss Otus lenses start to creep in.

Oversampling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock
Review of Thunderbolt 2 Dock

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

See my Mac wish list.

See also Which Display for Image Editing and Viewing?.

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

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook pro

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

Preface

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

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

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

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

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

Stefan D writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed A writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panasonic GH5 vs Olympus E-M1 Mark II

See my micro four thirds wish list.

 
Panasonic GH5, top view

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

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

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

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

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

See my Sony wish list.

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

Jonathan L writes:

I’ve just picked up a Sony A7R II.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter H writes:

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

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

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

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

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

LG 5K Display for 2016 MacBook Pro

See my Mac wish list.

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

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

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

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

 
LG 5K display for 2016 MacBook pro
__METADATA__
SSD Upgrade for MacBook Pro Retina
Internal SSD Wishlist…

4K Television Developments at CES

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

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

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

Nikon’s New Flagship Binocular

See my binocular wish list.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Nikon 7x50 super high end binocular (unannounced)
Envoy Pro mini - In Motion There Exists Great Potential
SSD Wishlist…

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

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

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

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

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

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

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

__METADATA__
__METADATA__
__METADATA__
__METADATA__
__METADATA__

Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY.

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

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

See my Sony mirrorless wish list.

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

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

Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

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

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

No EXIF info is communicated to the camera.

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

First up are an overview and close-range evaluation:

Overview of Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95

Aperture Series: Japanese Dolls (A7R II)

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

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

__METADATA__

Note that rebates on Mitakon lenses end TODAY.

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Flight of the Butterflies in 4K, at Netflix

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

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

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

ThunderBay 4 - The Speed To Create. The Capacity To Dream.

Reader Comments: Photo Software for Photographers

Two ideas for photographers and photo software.

Roy P writes:

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

I loved the elevator pitch on it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader James G points out:

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

Martin D writes:

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

https://macphun.com/luminar

DIGLLOYD: the “Lightroom overwhelming” issue is real; b