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Home Today, Leica SL, Pentax K1, and More Coming Soon

Get Leica SL wish list and Pentax K wish list at B&H Photo. See also my Sony mirrorless wishlist.

Conditions were difficult the past few days: temperatures still 25° colder than when I started my trip, dropping to 28°F in Yosemite at 8600' elevation. Wind of ~25 mph gusting to 40+ mph were to the point of being dangerous the day before yesterday—I had to use care in crossing boulder fields so as not to be blown off balance by violent gusts. So I moved slowly. By the way, “Vibram” soles suck for grip on boulder fields, especially if wet, e.g., from snow. I wore a full hiking boot for crossing snow fields and muddy areas where the aggressive hiking boot tread works well, but my sticky rubber shoes offer far superior grip on rocks. Several times I slipped with the Vibram-soled boots, but I practiced skeptical technique, which means assuming that slippage might occur and thus not committing fully to the next step.

FYI, the Pentax K1 in SuperRes mode is unusable in such winds and still a problem with much less strong wind. That’s because the wind causes enough movement of the camera to render the entire frame “in motion” between the 4 exposures of a SuperRes frame, even with high shutter speeds. All it takes is a few microns of deviation, which vibration of tripod legs easily causes, and thus every pixel of the entire frame is in motion as far as SuperRes goes. One can of course use standard single-exposure mode in such conditions.

Below, I had to anchor my tripod legs with rocks for fear of it being toppled by wind and thus smashing the camera. Also, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for one more advantage of autofocus—the wind was gusting so violently that I could not keep an image framed when shooting handheld. I had to shoot 4 or 5 frames just to get one properly-framed as I wished, so much was I unsteadied by gusts. Having to manually focus on top of that was a serious handicap—no quick blip of AF to help out, and manual focusing was difficult with the image is jumping like crazy from wind slapping me around.

A criticism of the Loxia 21/2.8: it is so small that gloves become problematic: the aperture and focusing rings are just too close to each other. I was constantly altering focus in unintended ways while attempting to change aperture (open aperture to focus, close down to shoot). Or just any change in aperture. This ruined 4 of 5 attempts here, the final one below being the 5th and only one in which focus was right, though I did not know at the time that my gloves were moving the focus ring as I changed aperture. As a result, most of the shots I took I made at f/8 with focus at the hard infinity stop to deal with the wind-slap and focusing problems. The autofocus Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 and/or 25mm f/2 with their auto aperture and autofocus would have served me far better under these conditions. But the Batis 18/2.8 arrived at my home while I was away on this trip. Next time.

Lloyd at High Alpine Lake
f5.6 @ 1/640 sec, ISO 200; 2016-06-14 18:35:03
Sony A7R II + Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon

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The Sony A7R II has captured the entire dynamic range here, but it is devilishly hard to show the detail in the snow while still making the image look natural. Still, even to the eye, it was hard to discern detail in the very bright snowy areas. Note the tracks near center heading up the snow patch. Some daredevil tracks can be seen going across and up a couloir to the summit ridge—seems very dangerous to me (avalanches).

f8 @ 1/800 sec, ISO 100; 2016-06-14 14:12:57
Sony A7R II + Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Distagon

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