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Sony A1: HIF Format vs RAW

re: Adobe Photoshop Won’t Open “HIF” Files — How to Fix

I always shoot RAW for maximum quality, and that means lossless-compressed RAW on the Sony A1, which is saving me tons of storage space—worth the price of the camera alone for my usage! Lossless-compressed RAW is bit-for-bit identical to uncompressed raw in quality.

The Sony A1 can capture to RAW or RAW+JPG or RAW+HIF (HEIF) formats. While I myself have no need for JPEG or HIF, those formats have their uses for some shooters.

HEIF files use file extension “.HIF”, a convention that Photoshop engineers apparently missed for now.

So how does HEIF compare to raw?

  • Overall, the HIF (HEIF) quality set to Extra Fine delivers outstanding quality.
  • HIF micro contrast on fine details is lacking, but additional sharpening can compensate, mostly.
  • HIF is free of color aliasing, presumably by smearing away the very finest details via compression.
  • HIF bakes in the white balance/tint, color space, lens corrections, contrast, etc.
  • HIF forces the color space to sRGB, which severely truncates the most interesting colors, such as dulling brilliant reds to dull flat orangey tones.
  • HIF EXIF info as accessible in Photoshop is defective, lacking lens name and date/time. For me this is a show-stopper.

That “baked in” and color space clipping are severe problems—clipping colors into sRGB is pure data loss—unrecoverable. And if you don’t get the white balance/tint right, you bake-in something fugly that can be extremely difficult to correct, while baking-in the contrast, lens corrections, pinning the shadows amd/or blowing the highlights is another unrecoverable data loss scenarior. RAW format avoids all those problems.

JPEG suffers from the same problems as HEIF/HIF, but at least JPEG can use the AdobeRGB color space, for a far lower chance of having colors clipped.

Adobe Photoshop Won’t Open “HIF” Files
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Adobe Photoshop Won’t Open “HIF” Files — How to Fix

Adobe Photoshop CC 2021 v22.4.3 won’t open HEIF (HIF) files created by the Sony A1.

Why use HIF files? In theory, same quality as JPEG at half the size, based on High Efficiency Video Compression known as HEVC or H.265. Also, 10-bit color. UPDATE: there is one serious drawback for everyone: forced use of the color-clipping sRGB color space, horrible for many purposes. And for me, defective EXIF info available via Photosop javascript (missing lens name, missing date/time).

As shown, a “.HIF” image file will not open in Photoshop. Hopefully Adobe will fix this soon (I reported it a few weeks ago to Adobe).

In the meantime there is a workaround: rename “.HIF” files with the extension “.HEIF”.

Renaming can be done as a batch; see How to Batch-Rename files in the macOS Finder.

Aside from a silly bug in not opening, the dialog itself is doubly crappy: no file name is given nor is the file type.

Adobe Photoshop Won’t Open “HIF” Files
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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: White Mountains

This page shows ad-hoc examples from the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM in the White Mountains of California.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: White Mountains

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Sunstar though ancient bristlecone pine
f9 @ 1/125 sec handheld EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-06 11:32:56
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 11000 ft / 3353 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected

[low-res image for bot]
Clearing Stormclouds East of Patriarch Grove
f8 @ 1/20 sec handheld IBIS=on EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-02 19:51:50
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 11800 ft / 3597 m, 55°F / 12°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.3 stops, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +30 Whites, +48 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, USM {12,50,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: Pine Creek Forest

This page shows ad-hoc examples from the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM in the forest area near Pine Creek.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: Pine Creek Forest

Includes images up to full camera resolution and a few aperture comparisons.

Mature Pine and Sapling
f11 @ 0.3 sec, ISO 100; 2021-05-22 18:55:18
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +20 Whites, +15 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: Backyard

This page shows ad-hoc examples from the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM, with an emphasis on lens performance for close-range shooting.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution and a few aperture comparison.

Celery plant and deck chair
f1.8 @ 1/125 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-14 19:12:08
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, push 0.17 stops, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Oversampling for Image Quality: we need a 100 Megapixel Sensor in 35mm Format

Even at 60 megapixels, the roof below is an ugly mess, with broad streaks of yellow/blue color aliasing.

Most assertions of the “N megapixels is enough resolution” are blind to the real image quality issues that abound at lower resolution, such as color aliasing and moiré and staircasing effects on edges.

I get that for many purposes a finished image size of N=24MP is enough. But that viewpoint conflates capture resolution with output resolution. There is no reason that the two need be the same. And existing cameras already offer lower output resolution, eg “small raw” variants and various JPEG and HEIC sizes. Everyone could be happy with a 100MP capture!

Sampling-resolution image quality issues are an issue even at 60 megapixels, as shown below. Yet oversampling when done at sufficiently high resolution can banish the ugly digital stuff, such as color aliasing and moiré and staircasing effects on edges.

These image quality issues are not a concern in many images. And f/11 acts as an anti-aliasing filter. But when issues do arise, they are pretty darn ugly.

So I look forward to seeing a 100 megapixel sensor in the 35mm sensor size format, for higher total image quality and and somewhat more resolution as a bonus. The Micro Four Thirds format proves that 100 megapixels would be a bare minimum to hope to overcome these issues.

Let’s hope that a Sony A7R V will bring us at least an 80MP sensor.

Color aliasing on roof shingles (actual pixels)
f4 @ 1/320 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-05-14 18:08:34
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.3 stops, +20 Whites

[low-res image for bot]

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Really Right Stuff BGFX100S Modular L-Plate for Fujifilm GFX100S

I just received the Really Right Stuff BGFX100S Modular L-Plate for Fujifilm GFX100S. Beautifully crafted!

  • CNC machined 6061-T6 Aluminum
  • Anodized; Type II Black
  • Laser engraved center marks
  • Integrated QD (Quick Detach) socket for quick- detach strap systems
  • 1/4”-20 threaded accessory mounting socket
  • Full access to camera accessory ports
  • Access to battery without removing plate
  • Integrated hex-key stored for easy plate repositioning or removal.

I weighed it at 162.1g with the included allen wrench, or 104.9g base plate only.

The Really Right Stuff BGFX100S modular plate system is specifically engineered for the Fujifilm GFX100S camera. The form-fitting flanges contour the camera’s own structure to prevent twisting, and to enhance the overall ergonomics. The shape and opening of the upright section gives access to all side ports, and battery access is unobstructed while the plate is on the camera.

The BGFX100S L-plate can be slid away from the left side of the camera body. This allows tethered portrait shooting while keeping your lens centered atop any Arca Swiss compatible clamp.

When the L-Plate is tucked against the body, a recess will envelop the camera’s strap lug, which will further increase the rigidity of the plate while in-use on a tripod. The primary 1/4”-20 mounting screw in the baseplate, as well as the screw which allows the L-component to slide (or be removed entirely) are tightened with the same hex key, which is conveniently stored in the L-Plate itself.

All BGFX100S Plates are first CNC machined from solid blocks of 6061-T6 aluminum. Every edge and surface is shaped ergonomically and with maximized strength. Afterward they are finished with a smooth matte surface.

Below, the “L” portion can be snugly positioned against the strap lug for rigidity, or it can be extended away from the camera body, or removed entirely.

Really Right Stuff BGFX100S Modular L-Plate for Fujifilm GFX100S, front side view

Below, loosening the screw at left with the included allen wrench (stowed in the bracket itself), the “L” portion can be loosened to position at the desired offset from the camera.

Really Right Stuff BGFX100S Modular L-Plate for Fujifilm GFX100S, bottom view

The QD attachment point allows use of QD (Quick Detach) accessories.

Really Right Stuff BGFX100S Modular L-Plate for Fujifilm GFX100S, QD attachment

 


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What Does the Future Hold for a Sony A7R V?

The Sony A1 is the world’s best 35mm-format camera, a technological tour de force with the best usability available. Ultra-responsive in every way with a superb 9MP EVF, it was hard for me to temporarily go back last month to my lightly used Sony A7R IV (for sale, $2500). The A7R IV felt crude by comparison.

Sony A1

The A1 is priced at a serious premium to other cameras. I think it’s worth it for the serious shooter, even if 8K video and 30 fps is not needed. But there is no getting around the price tag.

For the wallet-conscious looking for much of what has arrived in the Sony A1, it might be that a 6 to 9 month wait will satisfy. Namely, a Sony A7R V that would likely sport much of the technology found in the A1.

Even better, my guess is that a Sony A7R V will move to a high-res sensor, perhaps 80 to 100 megapixels. That would explain why it is apparantly delayed until next year, and why Sony for now has offered a slightly upgraded Sony A7R IVa (already discounted $500). Sony has never before delayed this long in upgrading the top of its A7R lineup; this would make sense because surely the holdup is not necessary parts, as those are already shipping in the A1. So a high-res sensor using A1 sensor technology could well be the gating factor.

I would expect the following to appear in a Sony A7R V:

  • Faster processor, one that supports higher-speed autofocus as well as lossless-compressed RAW.
  • Improvement in responsiveness in all areas.
  • The A1 covers the sports/wildlife/8K video segment so Sony could focus on high-res imagery in an A7R V.
  • High-res EVF as in the A1.
  • Support for CFExpress cards.
  • 80 to 100 megapixel sensor.
  • Dare we hope for focus stacking support?

In a nutshell, a Sony A7R V might be a high-res Sony A1, less performant for the most demanding scenarios, but less expensive and higher resolution. Maybe. A long shot is a Sony medium format system which we badly need so as to poke Fujifilm to sorely needed advances in its Klingon-designed user interface.

Will a 100MP Sony A7R V compete with medium format?

Given what I see on Fujifilm, where lenses strain to deliver resolution to the sensor, we cannot expect full capture resolution on a 100MP 35mm sensor. However, lens performance on Sony is very high with many lenses, enough that I suspect that it would compete favorably against the Fujifilm GFX100S. It should be an interesting 2022.


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Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Boulder amid Suncups, view to Mt Conness

This aperture series from f/3.5 to f/11 evaluates the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR for near-to-far sharpness, and also how depth of field develops when stopped down.

A 4-frame focus-stacked image gives perspective on what is possible for total sharpness, along with commentary on the process.

Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Boulder amid Suncups, view to Mt Conness

Includes images from f/3.5 to f/11 at up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

Boulder amid Suncups, view to Mt Conness
f9 @ 1/300 sec electronic shutter focus stack 4 frames, ISO 100; 2021-06-12 15:58:27
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR @ 24.6mm equiv (30mm)
ENV: Conness Lakes, altitude 10400 ft / 3170 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +50 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +30 Whites, +10 Clarity, USM {15,50,0}, SmartSharpen{30,0.7,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]

Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Greenstone Lake with Mt Conness Peaks

This aperture series from f/3.5 to f/9 evaluates the Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR for far-distance sharpness, and also how sharpness develops at closer range with stopping down.

It shows the sharpest capture one might expect for with the GF30/3.5 without going to special effort to focus for outer zones at distance.

Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 Aperture Series: Greenstone Lake with Mt Conness Peaks

Includes images from f/3.5 to f/9 at up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

Greenstone Lake with Mt Conness Peaks
f9 @ 1/220 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-12 12:02:06
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR @ 24.6mm equiv (30mm)
ENV: Greenstone Lake, altitude 10200 ft / 3109 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, -100 Highlights, +25 Whites, +10 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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Polarizers: Spectral Transmission Uniformity and Brightness

re: filters.

In choosing a polarizer, look for two key things:

Uniformity of transmission — color neutrality. A spectral transmission graph shows this by how flat/straight the plot is.

Percent transmission — how bright the polarizer is. Greater transmission means a higher shutter speed.

Polarization efficiency — how pronounced the polarization effect is. For high altitude, I’d like to have a much less efficient polarizer because polarization increases about 3% for every 1000 feet of elevation. So at 10000' elevation, there is 30% greater polarization effect which is why I usually avoid polarizers at altitude—a dark band can ruin an image.

Example

Shown below are charts from Breakthrough Photography* showing spectral transmission. More information at https://breakthrough.photography. Polarization efficiency is not shown in these charts, but it’s ample (more than I want) at high altitude.

The Breakthrough Photography X4 CPO shows exceptionally neutral color transmission. The Hoya CPL and Singh Ray CPL shows a bias to green/yellow/red (less blue).

* I have not independently verified these charts.

Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL vs other polarizers, % transmission 400nm to 700nm
Breakthrough Photography X4 CPL vs other polarizers, average % transmission
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Can the Fujifilm GF 30/3.5 Deliver a Fully Sharp Image with Focus Stacking?

I spent some time today reviewing a variety of Fujifilm GFX100S images (several lenses) that I shot on my last trip. My impressions from before were reinforced: it’s awfully hard to make a 100-megapixel capture for multiple reasons*, but barely good enough lens performance is a key limitation that is impossibly to work around wih some of the focal lengths.

I’ve added another focus stacking example to this page:

Can the Fujifilm GF 30/3.5 Deliver a Fully Sharp Image with Focus Stacking?

The Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 is not a lens I can get excited about. There might be better samples out there than the sample I had, but if I’m going to shoot a Klingon-designed camera, I’d rather eat another +$1000 on lens cost and enjoy a really top-notch performer. That it ain’t.

* Autofocus errors, focus shift, field curvature, real depth of field less than one might hope for, lens skew.

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

White Mountains Sedimentary Outcrop
f9 @ 1/250 sec electronic shutter focus stack 4 frames, ISO 100; 2021-06-01 18:00:57
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 30mm f/3.5 R WR @ 24.6mm equiv (30mm) + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: White Mountains, altitude 11600 ft / 3536 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, push 0.17 stops, +20 Shadows, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, USM {6,50,0}, SmartSharpen{40,0.7,20,0}

[low-res image for bot]

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To Polarize or not to Polarize? Examples Showing Effect on Color Balance

A high quality polarizer with uniform spectral transmission should in and of itself cause little change in color balance, particularly those made with the very best polarization foils, such as from Breakthrough Photography (most polarizers use generic decades-old stuff which is not so great).

However, particularly at high altitudes, the polarization effect is not confined to cutting glare or darkening the sky—a polarizer can radically affect the color balance.

In Making Sharp Images, I’ve added to my discussion of polarizer usage:

Making Sharp Images: Polarizer Impact on Color Balance

Includes two examples, each with toggle between MIN/MAX polarization, with striking differences.

Greenstone Lake
f9 @ 1/80 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-12 11:20:16
Fujifilm GFX100S + Fujifilm GF 50mm f/3.5 R LM WR @ 41mm equiv (50mm) + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: Greenstone Lake, altitude 10050 ft / 3063 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

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SHOOTOUT: Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Mining Cabin Interior

Prime or zoom? Sometimes the answer is surprising and there are twists to the plot.

This series compares the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM to the Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM on a 3D interior scene. Sharpness, focus shift, flare, distortion are compared.

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Mining Cabin Interior

Includes images from f/1.8 through f/11 at up to full camera resolution, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: 14mm Lenses for Sony mirrorless

Old mining cabin interior
f11 @ 0.6 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-07 18:01:17
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 14mm
ENV: altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +78 Shadows, -74 Highlights, +40 Whites, +30 Dehaze, +10 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]
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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM vs Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Distortion and Distortion Correction

A zoom might be expected to have notably higher distortion than a prime (non-zoom) lens. But it isn’t necessarily so, and it’s both a quantitative and qualitative difference.

Same comparison included on both pages:

Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM: Distortion and Distortion Correction

Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM: Distortion and Distortion Correction

Includes images up to full camera resolution both uncorrected and corrected, plus crops.

CLICK TO VIEW: 14mm Lenses for Sony mirrorless

Old mining cabin interior
f8 @ 0.3 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-07 18:01:11
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM @ 14mm
ENV: altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m, 75°F / 23°C
RAW: LACA corrected, vignetting corrected, +78 Shadows, -74 Highlights, +40 Whites, +30 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM, Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM: Distortion and Distortion Correction

Distortion correction for pincushion distortion has the side effect of visible loss of micro contrast over all of the frame. For a high performance lens, using correction is highly undesirable when sharpness is a goal, particularly for pincushion distortion.

Distortion and distortion correction shown, with the impact on sharpness and micro contrast.

Distortion for Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM

Distortion for Voigtlander FE 35mm f/2 APO-Lanthar Aspherical

and

Distortion for Sony FE 14mm f/1.8 GM

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

CLICK TO VIEW: 35mm lenses for Sony Mirrorless

Old Mining Buildings
f5.6 @ 1/25 sec EFC shutter, ISO 100; 2021-06-07 19:31:49
Sony A7R IV + Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM
ENV: altitude 6500 ft / 1981 m
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, vignetting corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +40 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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